Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. Colossians 3:2
Think about how focused our mind is on “things on the earth.” Besides our vocation and family life, our mind is occupied with fear-inducing headlines. Even when we sleep, our mind rehearses and consolidates all the thoughts we have had during the day. The mind is continually active, always seeking a focus which we must provide for it.
Paul acknowledged the struggle we have to keep our mind “set on things above, not on things on the earth.” He wrote in Romans 12:2 of the need to renew the mind and, therefore, be transformed from an earthly-centered life to a heavenly-centered life. Jesus admonished His followers to “seek first the kingdom of God” and allow God to order our earthly concerns according to His will (Matthew 6:33). Think how the world would be different if every person centered their mind on the values of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) and the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
Take the challenge: Keep your mind centered, one day at a time, on heavenly things. You may just change your world.
Focus on giants—you stumble. Focus on God—your giants tumble.Max Lucado
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart.Psalm 51:17
At first glance I dismissed the painting Consider the Lilies by Makoto Fujimura as a simple, monochromatic painting featuring a lily seemingly hiding in the background. However, the painting came alive when I learned it was actually painted with more than eighty layers of finely crushed minerals in a style of Japanese art known as Nihonga, a style Fujimura calls “slow art.” Looking closely reveals layers of complexity and beauty. Fujimura explains that he sees the gospel echoed in the technique of making “beauty through brokenness,” just as Jesus’ suffering brought the world wholeness and hope.
God loves to take aspects of our lives where we’ve been crushed and broken and create something new and beautiful. King David needed God’s help to repair the brokenness in his life caused by his own devastating actions. In Psalm 51, written after admitting to abusing his kingly power to take another man’s wife and arrange the murder of her husband, David offered God his “broken and contrite heart” (v. 17) and pleaded for mercy. The Hebrew word translated “contrite” is nidkeh, meaning “crushed.”
For God to refashion his heart (v. 10), David had to first offer Him the broken pieces. It was both an admission of sorrow and trust. David entrusted his heart to a faithful and forgiving God, who lovingly takes what’s been crushed and transforms it into something beautiful.
If you’re “on hold” and eager for God to act, do you allow the waiting period to strengthen or weaken your faith?
How confident are you that God will fulfill His promises? So often we face situations that seem to prove that the Lord has let us down. This is the case especially when we’ve waited a long time without a glimmer of change. Sometimes we come to this conclusion because we’ve set our expectations on the wrong things. But there are also times when the Lord takes us on a long journey of perseverance before His promises come to pass.
That was definitely the case with Abraham. The Lord promised to make him a great nation with descendants beyond number, but he remained childless for many years until his wife Sarah was well past childbearing age. But as Abraham contemplated the physical impossibility of the situation, his faith in God’s promise grew stronger, not weaker. He could see that the Lord would be glorified even more when the promise came to pass in a humanly impossible situation.
Is there an area in your life where you need prevailing faith to persevere despite seeming impossibility? Be assured that “the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8). Whatever God has promised, He will do—even if you never see the outcome in your lifetime (Hebrews 11:13).
“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33)
Scientists and philosophers have been able to learn many wonderful things about the universe when they have attempted reverently to think God’s thoughts after Him, but His majesty and purposes are still far beyond human words and understanding—unspeakable and unsearchable. He “doeth great things and unsearchable; marvelous things without number” (Job 5:9).
Not only are His judgments unsearchable and His ways past finding out, but so are His resources. The apostle Paul spoke about “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8), and he once had the unique experience of being caught up somehow into the very paradise of God, where he “heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Corinthians 12:4).
We shall learn more, in the ages to come, of “the exceeding riches of his grace” (Ephesians 2:7), as well as the depth of “the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge” (3:19).
We can have a good measure of peace and joy right now in Christ, but there is much more yet to learn. In the new earth some day we shall really experience “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) and be able to “rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).
His great gift of salvation and eternal life we comprehend only faintly now, but we know it is indeed a gift of love and grace and peace and joy! Although we cannot begin to describe it now, we can simply say in gratitude, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15). HMM
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature. —2 Peter 1:4
It is the teaching of Meister Eckhart that there is something far inside the mysterious depths of a human life which is unknown except as God and the individual know it. This he called the “ground” of the soul.
This “ground” is, according to Eckhart, the stuff which once received the image of God at creation. The lesser powers of the soul are the instruments through which this mysterious primal stuff makes itself felt in the world. These powers are imagination, reason, the faculty of speech and the creative powers….
In this far-in secret sanctuary, God reveals Himself to the individual as a “birth,” bringing forth a new creation by the regenerating act of the Holy Spirit. Thus we receive from Christ the very nature of God (2 Peter 1:4) and are spiritually prepared for the full revelation of Christ in us, the hope of glory. NCA102
In that blessed moment of appropriating faith [Christ] gives Himself to us as our complete life, covering all our future need, and day by day we just enter into it step by step. SI019
Even a young man is known by his actions—if his behavior is pure and upright.—Proverbs 20:11
One way that the Holy Spirit exercises His convincing ministry in our lives is by addressing our consciences, prevailing upon them to take the way of Christ in every issue. Romans 9:1 brings together the objective standard, “the truth in Christ,” and the subjective standard, “my conscience is testifying to me with the Holy Spirit.”
Some people say, “I’m living in accordance with my conscience—isn’t that enough?” No, for conscience by itself is not a safe guide. Conscience is the capacity to distinguish between right and wrong—according to the standards you uphold. It can be taught to approve directly opposite things.
For example, a missionary intervened to stop an Indian woman from throwing her child into the Ganges River as a human sacrifice. “But my conscience tells me to do it,” she said. “Yes,” said the missionary, “and my conscience tells me to stop you from doing it.”
Conscience is not an infallible guide unless it has in it the highest content possible—the Holy Spirit. He can be relied upon to act as Jesus would act in every situation, for the Spirit is a Christlike Spirit. I am bold to say that there is not one of you reading these lines (if you are a Christian) who, by the mercy of God, doesn’t know something in your conscience of the work of the Holy Spirit as Convincer. He pleads in you and with you to bring your conscience to the highest place possible, “a clear conscience toward God and men” (Ac 24:16).
O Father, I surrender myself and my standards to You for cleansing and correction. Teach me the standards of Christ so that my conscience may bear a true witness. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Our calling as Christians is to bring glory to the name of God. God’s name represents His character. Taking the name of God in vain misrepresents God’s character to others (Exod. 20:7). As Christians, we carry the name of our Savior. The way we live and relate to others is a direct reflection on the name of Christ.
Doing something “in Jesus’ name” is to do something that is in accordance with His character (John 15:16). It means that Jesus would be pleased to join us in what we are doing. If, however, our actions detract from God’s reputation, He will jealously guard His name. Sometimes we are too concerned with protecting the reputation of people but too little concerned with protecting the holy name of God. When the Israelites profaned God’s name before the nations by the way they lived, God “hallowed” His name: He made His name holy by punishing them (Ezek. 36:22). When David sinned before his nation, God publicly disciplined him in order to protect the holiness of His name.
We can so tarnish the name father before our children that it hinders them from loving God as their heavenly Father. We can be such unforgiving Christians that our sinfulness discourages people from seeking forgiveness from our God. We can show such disrespect for God as we worship Him that those observing lose their reverence of Him as well.
Our supreme desire should be to glorify the name of God by the way we live.
We ought to pray daily, as Jesus taught us to, that God’s name be treated as holy