VIDEO Direction of Focus

Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters…, so our eyes look to the Lord our God…Psalm 123:2

This verse is a description of total reliance on God. Just as the eyes of a servant are riveted on his master, our eyes should be directed to and focused on God. This is how knowledge of His countenance is gained and how God reveals Himself to us (see Isaiah 53:1). Our spiritual strength begins to be drained when we stop lifting our eyes to Him. Our stamina is sapped, not so much through external troubles surrounding us but through problems in our thinking. We wrongfully think, “I suppose I’ve been stretching myself a little too much, standing too tall and trying to look like God instead of being an ordinary humble person.” We have to realize that no effort can be too high.

For example, you came to a crisis in your life, took a stand for God, and even had the witness of the Spirit as a confirmation that what you did was right. But now, maybe weeks or years have gone by, and you are slowly coming to the conclusion— “Well, maybe what I did showed too much pride or was superficial. Was I taking a stand a bit too high for me?” Your “rational” friends come and say, “Don’t be silly. We knew when you first talked about this spiritual awakening that it was a passing impulse, that you couldn’t hold up under the strain. And anyway, God doesn’t expect you to endure.” You respond by saying, “Well, I suppose I was expecting too much.” That sounds humble to say, but it means that your reliance on God is gone, and you are now relying on worldly opinion. The danger comes when, no longer relying on God, you neglect to focus your eyes on Him. Only when God brings you to a sudden stop will you realize that you have been the loser. Whenever there is a spiritual drain in your life, correct it immediately. Realize that something has been coming between you and God, and change or remove it at once.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

God does not further our spiritual life in spite of our circumstances, but in and by our circumstances.  Not Knowing Whither, 900 L


Psalm 123 – Looking to the LORD for Mercy in Affliction

Hopes and Longings

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12

When I moved to England, the American holiday of Thanksgiving became just another Thursday in November. Although I created a feast the weekend after, I longed to be with family and friends on the day. Yet I understood that my longings weren’t unique to me. We all yearn to be with people dear to us on special occasions and holidays. And even when we’re celebrating, we may miss someone who’s not with us or we may pray for our fractured family to be at peace.

During these times, praying and pondering the wisdom of the Bible has helped me, including one of King Solomon’s proverbs: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12). In this proverb, one of the pithy sayings through which Solomon shared his wisdom, he notes the effect that “hope deferred” can have: the delay of something much longed for can result in angst and pain. But when the desire is fulfilled, it’s like a tree of life—something that allows us to feel refreshed and renewed.

Some of our hopes and desires might not be fulfilled right away, and some might only be met through God after we die. Whatever our longing, we can trust in Him, knowing He loves us unceasingly. And, one day, we’ll be reunited with loved ones as we feast with Him and give thanks to Him (see Revelation 19:6–9).

By:  Amy Boucher Pye

Reflect & Pray

When have you felt sick because of an unfulfilled longing? How did God meet you in your time of need?

God our Creator, You fulfill my deepest longings. I give You my hopes and my desires, asking You to grant them according to Your wisdom and love.

Let Us Hold Fast Our Confession Without Wavering

There is a disconnect between faith and sight. The natural man walks by sight, trusting his senses and believing only what they tell him. But in the Christian life, the spiritual life, we should not trust our senses. Second Corinthians 5:7 tells us, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” We walk not by our senses, but by faith. Faith relates us to an unseen, eternal realm that never changes. The world of the senses is always changing—it is temporary, unstable, impermanent, and unreliable. Through faith, we relate to a different world—a world of eternal realities and eternal truths. As we relate to that world by faith, we hold fast our confession without wavering.

How we respond to the pressures God permits in our lives determines whether we trust our senses or our faith. If we change our confession because of the darkness, then we are going by our senses, for in faith there is no darkness. Faith does not rely on the senses; it sees with an inner spiritual eye into a realm that does not change and it trusts a High Priest who is unchangeable. Here is what James said about this issue:

“But when he [the believer] asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double minded man, unstable in all he does.” (James 1:6–8, NIV)

This passage describes the man who wavers. He started out ready to ask—believing, not doubting—but he did not hold fast without wavering. As a result, he is tossed to and fro, thrown about by the winds and waves. The remedy is to hold fast our confession without wavering.

Prayer Response

Thank You, Lord, that You are faithful—You give me hope. I proclaim that I walk not by my senses, but by faith. I shall hold fast my confession without wavering. Amen.

Living in God’s Presence

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. — Psalm 91:1

Brother Lawrence, who wrote the famous little booklet, The Practice of the Presence of God, made that marvelous discovery to such a degree that he became the wonder of Europe. Kings and princes, cardinals and popes visited him to learn his secret. Was he a philosopher? A count? A theologian? No, he was a dishwasher. That’s right. A dishwasher and a waiter.

Kings visited him because his reputation had spread all over the world. A reputation for what? For peace—for an almost miraculous serenity in the midst of the clamoring of the people who were crying for his services and complaining about this and that and the other. In spite of all of the demands on him, he seemed to float through life in a bubble of peace.

In his marvelous booklet, Brother Lawrence tells how through much trial, effort, and labor, he learned how to stay his mind upon God. Then, when he was turned away from whatever might demand his immediate attention, his mind automatically seemed to turn to its resting place and his thoughts to God. His mind was stayed on God, and God kept him in perfect peace.

Question to ponder: How can we practice God’s presence?

On Removing the Doubts

He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.John 7:38

That every Christian can be and should be filled with the Holy Spirit would hardly seem to be a matter for debate among Christians. Yet some will argue that the Holy Spirit is not for plain Christians….

I want here boldly to assert that it is my happy belief that every Christian can have a copious outpouring of the Holy Spirit in a measure far beyond that received at conversion, and I might also say, far beyond that enjoyed by the rank and file of orthodox believers today.

It is important that we get this straight, for until doubts are removed faith is impossible. God will not surprise a doubting heart with an effusion of the Holy Spirit, nor will He fill anyone who has doctrinal questions about the possibility of being filled. POM129-130

Doubt…opens the door to Satan and he rushes in to sow tares in the wheat….But faith keeps the door of the heart; faith retains the grace and presence of God…and so the just not only shall, but do, live by faith. SAN068

Organizing a Quiet Time

I wait and put my hope in His word. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning.—Psalm 130:5-6

Someone has described the morning quiet time as “turning the dial until we tune in to God’s wavelength—then we get the message.” But how do we gain the best results from our quiet time?

First, decide on the amount of time you want to invest in waiting before God. Next, take your Bible and read a portion slowly. Let it soak in. If some words or verses strike you, focus on them in meditation. They will yield up new meanings to you. Write these down.

After the reading, let go, relax, and say to Him: “Father, have You anything to say to me?” Learn to listen. All those who hear God’s voice on a regular basis say that it is something they have had to develop over time and by experience. They pause, they wait, and they learn after a while to disentangle their own thoughts from what God is saying.

Then speak to God in prayer. And finally, thank Him for the answer. He always answers—whether it is “yes,” “no,” or “wait.” His “no” is just as much an answer as His “yes”—sometimes even a better answer.

Not far from my home is the River Thames. Sometimes I walk along the riverbank and watch small boats entering the locks from the adjoining rivers. To get into the Thames, these boats must enter the lock and wait there to be lifted up to a higher level. Our quiet time does that. It shuts us in with God. But then infinite resources begin to bubble up from below, and we are lifted silently and without strain onto a higher level. The lifting is the result of being shut in with God.

Prayer

O Father, help me resolve to spend a quiet time with You every day. May my quiet time at this moment be the open door through which I glide out onto a higher level of life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Ps 27:14; 37:7; 62:5; 130:1-8; Isa 30:18

What do we often find the hardest thing to do?

Take time out today to do this.


Not in Word but in Power

For the kingdom of God is not in talk but in power.1 Corinthians 4:20

Christianity is not moral platitudes, lofty intentions, and noble thoughts. The fundamental characteristic of God’s kingdom is power. Paul faced constant criticism about his work among the early churches. Some of his detractors would travel to cities such as Corinth and speak extensively about all that Paul was doing incorrectly. At times, people in the churches were enticed to believe the slanderous criticisms against the apostle.

Paul responded with a reminder that the test of a kingdom citizen’s authenticity was not the persuasiveness of his words, but the spiritual power of his life. Paul candidly acknowledged that some did not find him eloquent in speech (2 Cor. 10:10). Yet they could not question God’s power in his life. He had seen many people converted, and many churches were started through his ministry. He had been used to heal the sick and raise the dead through God’s power. Regardless of whether his words were eloquent, they carried spiritual power and authority that came from God.

You will encounter many people who seek to convince you of their opinions concerning the kingdom of God. They may speak passionately. They may even bring charts and graphs to prove their points! But the test of the validity of their words is the spiritual power of their lives. If a person speaks forcefully about a point of doctrine but is habitually sinning, his words are discredited by his life. If a person talks of the power of God but gives no evidence of victory in her life, her words are empty. It is much easier to talk about the victorious Christian life than it is to live it.

If you only have the appearance of godliness without any corresponding spiritual power (2 Tim. 3:5), ask God to cleanse you of your sin and to fill you with His Spirit so that your life is characterized by power.