God’s Plans for You

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

For six years, Agnes tried to make herself the “perfect minister’s wife,” modeling herself after her adored mother-in-law (also a pastor’s wife). She thought that in this role she couldn’t also be a writer and painter, but in burying her creativity she became depressed and contemplated suicide. Only the help of a neighboring pastor moved her out of the darkness as he prayed with her and assigned her two hours of writing each morning. This awakened her to what she called her “sealed orders”—the calling God had given her. She wrote, “For me to be really myself—my complete self—every . . . flow of creativity that God had given me had to find its channel.”

Later, she pointed to one of David’s songs that expressed how she found her calling: “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). As she committed her way to God, trusting Him to lead and guide her (v. 5), He made a way for her not only to write and paint but to help others to better communicate with Him.

God has a set of “sealed orders” for each of us, not only that we’ll know we’re His beloved children but understand the unique ways we can serve Him through our gifts and passions. He’ll lead us as we trust and delight in Him.

By:  Amy Boucher Pye

Reflect & Pray

How does Agnes’ story of living someone else’s life resonate with you? What has God put in your “sealed orders”?

Creator God, You’ve made me in Your image. Help me to know and embrace my calling that I might better love and serve You.

Explore how your identity is rooted in Christ.

The Blessings of Inadequacy

2 Corinthians 4:7-15

Most of us assume that feelings of inadequacy are enemies to be subdued, but God uses our weaknesses to display His glory. Even though we love feeling confident and bold, this kind of self-reliance is the opposite of humility. Despite all his great knowledge and varied gifts, Paul knew he was not sufficient for the tasks the Lord had called him to accomplish. When he spoke of his ministry, the apostle said, “I also labor, striving according to [Christ’s] power which works mightily within me” (Col. 1:29).

Inadequacy reveals where we lack ability and drives us to dependence upon the Lord. He works in our weakness to accomplish His purposes in and through us. Therefore, we shouldn’t surrender to our failings by letting them hinder us from even trying to serve the Lord. Nor should we try to pump up our self-confidence with pep talks and self-affirmation. Instead, our inadequacies are designed to humble us so we’ll turn to the Lord for strength.

When we depend on Him in humility, “the extraordinary greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” (2 Cor. 4:7). Then all the praise and glory go to Him.

Never Alone

When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up. (Psalm 27:10)

There may be more people alive today than ever before, but there are also more lonely people today than ever before—divorced spouses, homeless people, many elderly parents and, perhaps saddest of all, orphaned or abandoned children. These and many others are still alone, even in a crowded world.

No one, though, was ever so alone as the Lord Jesus on the cross. “Behold, the hour cometh,” He had said, “yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me” (John 16:32). Then, only a few hours later, as He hung on the cross, even His heavenly Father had to leave Him, and He cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). He died alone, bearing the burden of all the sin of all the world on His soul.

But because He suffered alone, no one else need ever be alone again. “Be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). The apostle Paul, suffering alone in a Roman dungeon shortly before his execution, could still say: “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me” (2 Timothy 4:17). John the beloved, old and imprisoned alone on the tiny isle of Patmos, nevertheless “was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” (Revelation 1:10) and then saw the Lord in all His glory. So it has always been with those who know the Lord, for He is there, even when all others have forsaken them, and He understands. He has already been there ahead of us, “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16). HMM

Your Word Is Wonderful

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Your decrees are wonderful; therefore I obey them. The revelation of Your words brings light and gives understanding to the inexperienced. I pant with open mouth because I long for Your commands. Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is [Your] practice toward those who love Your name. Make my steps steady through Your promise; don’t let sin dominate me. Redeem me from human oppression, and I will keep Your precepts. Show favor to Your servant, and teach me Your statutes. My eyes pour out streams of tears because people do not follow Your instruction (Psalm 119 vv. 129-136).

God’s Word is wonderful—marvelous, extraordinary, remarkable! The word wonderful literally means “to generate wonder.” Even the simple, the unintelligent, the uneducated can grasp it’s truth when instructed by the Holy Spirit. Its inspiration exceeds that of Shakespeare, Mozart, Milton, Bach, and the greatest poets and composers who have ever lived.

So amazing is the power of these statutes and commands that the psalmist opens his mouth and “pants” for understanding. His deep personal longing for the truth is like gasping for breath after running the Boston Marathon.

As I read these verses, I’m reminded of “Wonderful Words of Life,” Dad’s theme song for the Word of Life Hour. I grew up hearing it.

Personal Prayer

O Lord, teach me to love your truth and see the wonder of your words!

A Wonderful Gospel Song

Wonderful Words of Life

Sing them over again to me,

Wonderful words of life;

Let me more of their beauty see,

Wonderful words of life.

Words of life and beauty,

Teach me faith and duty:

Beautiful words, wonderful words,

Wonderful words of life.

Words and music by Philip P. Bliss.

In the Right Direction

We proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. Colossians 1:28

In the Spirit-controlled life, self is still there, but now it is not self-centered but God-centered, and therefore, rhythmic and harmonious. “Perfect function,” said a famous doctor, “is perfect health.” The self functions perfectly and is, therefore, perfectly healthy; it is a self you can live with. The sex drive is still there, but now, being God-centered, it functions as God intended it to function. If one is married, then it can be expressed in a physical relationship, but if one is unmarried, then it can be refined and channeled into creativity in other directions. The herd instinct is still there, but now it is fastened on the kingdom of God, and one moves with the rest of the church toward the unity of the faith and of the Spirit.

The life of the Spirit is not one of asceticism but one of assertion. We get rid of unacceptable desires in the only way possible, by replacing them with higher desires. We get rid of self-centeredness by God-centeredness, through surrender. We get rid of sex domination by surrendering the drive to God and the controls He places upon it, so that sex serves us and makes us creative in the whole of life—not just within the physical relationship of marriage. We get rid of the herd dominance by surrender to God and, when surrendered, we love people more because we are no longer dominated or intimidated by them. The expulsive power of a new affection casts out “lower loves” by focusing them on higher objectives.

Prayer

Holy Spirit, I am beginning to learn that when You have control, everything is a perfect cosmos; when I have control, it is chaos. As life is for living, I want to live it to the brim. Help me not just to surrender, but to stay surrendered. Amen.

Further Study

Heb 6; Mt 5:48; 2Co 13:11

What did Paul mean by “perfection”?

What was Paul’s desire?

Under Orders

1 Peter 1:15

Someone said that impression minus expression equals depression. The study of facts about holiness will do more harm than good unless we follow up with the right acts. We Christians are under orders: “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (1 Peter 1:15).

You are a Christian; the call to holiness is always to believers, never to unbelievers. You are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and able to overcome temptation in His strength. In the popular phrase, you have a lot going for you. The pagan cannot help falling and failing and sinning, but there is no need for you to sustain defeat. Is this not what Paul implied by a sentence like this: “Our lower nature has no claim upon us: we are not obliged to live on that level” (Romans 8:12 NEB).

Paul, after three chapters of Ephesians describing our wealth, makes a plea for a holy walk (Ephesians 4:1). To the Corinthians he wrote about God indwelling His people, and then followed with the exhortation, “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

When you set your face toward the sweeping transformation you need, you are ready to renounce whatever is wrong. Something of the old life must die (Romans 8:13, Colossians 3:5). This will probably be costly, and has been compared to a crucifixion (Galatians 5:24). In practice it means saying an unqualified and determined “No” to every action unworthy of a Christian. It means to reject all that stands condemned by the standard which Jesus sets for His people, that is the standard of Christlikeness. It means to make no provision in imagination or intention for anything less than holiness.

Accompanying the turning from all that is wrong will be an equally determined turning toward all that is right. Paul tells us what to “put off” and then what to “put on” (Ephesians 4:22, 24). Everything in our life must be either renounced or dedicated.

Christ is the pattern for His people. The little word “as” is potent: We are to “walk, just as He walked” (1 John 2:6 NKJV); to receive one another “as Christ received us” (Romans 15:7); to “walk in the light as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7); to love one another “as I have loved you” (John 13:34). The same mighty monosyllable is on His lips in that solemn prayer of consecration: “As You sent Me into the world, I have sent them into the world” (John 17:18 NIV).

Edward Read, Studies in Sanctification

VIDEO Scroll Food

So I went to the angel and said to him, “Give me the little book.” And he said to me, “Take and eat it.” Revelation 10:9

On two occasions in the Bible, God prepared scroll food for his prophets. The first was when He gave Ezekiel a scroll with writings on both sides, probably because the Lord had so much to say. Ezekiel ate it and found it as sweet as honey, though the message included words of judgment for Judah. It was still God’s Word, and, as one commentary says, “the sweetness came from the source of the words.” The apostle John had a similar experience in Revelation 10:8-11. His scroll, too, tasted as sweet as honey.

The Bible is often compared to food, to bread, to milk, to meat, and to nourishment. It is the proper diet for the inner self, and it’s necessary to keep us from spiritual starvation. People today are starving for spiritual truth, but many aren’t even aware they are hungry. There is a famine of the hearing of the Word of God (Amos 8:11).

One of the best ways to stimulate the appetite of others is letting them see how much you enjoy your daily bread. Keep an open Bible nearby all the time. Read it frequently. Quote it often. Trust it always. And find every opportunity to share the Bread of Life with others.

Put your nose in the Bible every day. It is your spiritual food. Kirk Cameron


Revelation 10 – In Depth – Pastor Chuck Smith – Bible Studies

A Beginner’s Guide to Life

The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

After my mother’s sudden death, I was motivated to start blogging. I wanted to write posts that would inspire people to use their minutes on earth to create significant life moments. So I turned to a beginner’s guide to blogging. I learned what platform to use, how to choose titles, and how to craft compelling posts. And in 2016, my first blog post was born.

Paul wrote a “beginner’s guide” that explains how to obtain eternal life. In Romans 6:16–18, he contrasts the fact that we’re all born in rebellion to God (sinners) with the truth that Jesus can help us be “set free from [our] sin” (v. 18). Paul then describes the difference between being a slave to sin and a slave to God and His life-giving ways (vv. 19–20). He continues by stating that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life” (v. 23). Death means being separated from God forever. This is the devastating outcome we face when we reject Christ. But God has offered us a gift in Jesus—new life. It’s the kind of life that begins on earth and continues forever in heaven with Him.

Paul’s beginner’s guide to eternal life leaves us with two choices—choosing sin, which leads to death, or choosing Jesus’ gift, which leads to eternal life. May you receive His gift of life, and if you’ve already accepted Christ, may you share this gift with others today!

By:  Marvin Williams

Reflect & Pray

How would you describe what it means to receive the free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ? What’s the difference between being a slave to sin and a slave to God and His life-giving ways?

Jesus, thank You for loving me and forgiving me. You paid a debt I couldn’t pay and gave me a gift I couldn’t buy

What Is the Church?

Colossians 1:15-20

Most people think of the church as a building, but that’s not the biblical definition. It isn’t merely a meeting place for social interaction, scriptural instruction, and service projects. Rather, the church is composed of all those who have been redeemed by Christ. He is the head of church, and believers are called His body.

In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said, “I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” He was referring to the entire body of Christ, which is composed of all believers worldwide from every generation. The church began on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came and filled Jesus’ followers, and it will continue until the rapture of the church, when believers in Christ will be caught up to meet Him in the sky (1 Thess. 4:16-17).

Until then, our job as Christ’s body is to follow our Head. We’re not the ones in charge; He is. The Lord builds His church, but He uses us to make disciples, baptizing and teaching them to obey all His commands (Matt. 28:19-20). We don’t come up with our own plans; we simply follow His.

Perfect Minded

“Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.” (Philippians 3:15-16)

Earlier, Paul had noted that he was not “already perfect” (Philippians 3:12), using a form of the Greek verb teleioo. In today’s verse, Paul uses the adjective form teleios. Although the root of the word is the same, this particular usage is significant.

In verse 12, the Holy Spirit inspires Paul to use the past perfect tense of teleioo, rendering the translation “not having been perfected” and thereby recognizing that the end product of God’s salvation has not yet been completed. The adjective form, teleios, denotes the sense of maturity, both in our text and the other 18 instances in the New Testament.

Those of the family of God who are “mature,” even if we might be “otherwise minded,” are to expect that our Lord Jesus will reveal “even this,” or the prize that we are to focus on in Philippians 3:14. The “one thing” of Philippians 3:13 is so important that we must “walk by the same rule” and “mind the same thing” (today’s verse).

The Greek word for “walk” is only used four other times in the New Testament, and it describes marching in a row and following a prescribed order. We are to “walk in the steps” that Abraham exemplified (Romans 4:12), just as we are to “also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).

Finally, we are exhorted to “mind” the same thing. Our thought processes are to be focused on that one thing that is most important—seeking the Kingdom first. May these clear commands find their way into our hearts. HMM III