VIDEO Are You Ready for a New Year? New Year’s Renovation

Search me, O God…. Point out anything you find in me that makes you sad. Psalm 139:23-24, TLB

EXPLORER is one of the world’s most advanced medical (PET) scanners. You lie down on a pad and enter a tube that produces a 3D picture of your insides in half a minute. This technology is expensive and not widely available, but it’s going to play an important role in the future of medicine.

How do we scan the unseen part of us—the soul? That’s where the Holy Spirit comes in. As we study our Bible, the Holy Spirit frequently shows us our failures and weaknesses. Then He prescribes the needed treatments of repentance, faith, and obedience.

There is always some renovation that needs to be done. It’s somewhat intimidating to ask the Lord to show us areas in which we need to improve, but as we enter this new year, ask the Lord to scan your heart and point out anything that saddens Him. Then work to renovate it with the strength He provides.

It’s important to say: “Lord, search me and scan my heart.”

If there is anything that is in the least unwholesome, may God help [us] to see it, remove it, and walk in the way of life, which is the “way everlasting.” H. C. Leupold


GPS = God’s Positioning System: Psalm 139:23-24 – Nick Vujicic

Hiding from God

The Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:9

I squeezed my eyes shut and started counting aloud. My fellow third-grade classmates tore out of the room to find a place to hide. After scouring every cabinet, trunk, and closet for what felt like hours, I still couldn’t find one of my friends. I felt ridiculous when she finally jumped out from behind a lacey, potted fern hanging from the ceiling. Only her head had been eclipsed by the plant—the rest of her body had been in plain sight the entire time!

Since God is all-knowing, when Adam and Eve “hid from [Him]” (Genesis 3:8) in the garden of Eden, they were always in “plain sight.” But they weren’t playing any childhood game; they were experiencing the sudden awareness—and shame—of their wrongdoing, having eaten from the tree God told them not to eat from.

Adam and Eve turned from God and His loving provision when they disobeyed His instructions. Instead of withdrawing from them in anger, however, He sought them out, asking, “Where are you?” (v. 9). It’s not that He didn’t know where they were, but He wanted them to know His compassionate concern for them.

I couldn’t see my friend hiding, but God always sees us and knows us—to Him we’re always in plain sight. Just as He pursued Adam and Eve, Jesus sought us out while we were “still sinners”—dying on the cross to demonstrate His love for us (Romans 5:8). We no longer need to hide.

By:  Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

When have you tried to “hide” from God? How has He sought you out?

Father God, thank You for demonstrating Your love and care for me despite the ways I wrong You.

In Times of Trouble

Even when life is hard, the Lord will always keep us steady if we fix our attention on Him

Psalm 46:1-11

Hard times are inevitable in this life. We will lose loved ones. Some of us will face difficult ailments. We may even be wrongfully accused or mistreated. The range of human suffering is broad, but God is a refuge for those who trust Him. 

Today’s passage speaks of great calamities. We often feel bewildered during such trials, but having an eternal focus lifts us from despair. God is still the sovereign Lord of the universe. The key to dealing with difficulty lies in trusting the One who is in control of all things. 

Our natural impulse is to respond in fear and panic, but the Lord says to trust in Him through the trouble. He also tells us to surrender what we think is right, submitting instead to His plan. Unless our focus remains steady on Jesus, circumstances will overwhelm us. 

What is your response when hardships arise? Consider accepting difficulty as a blessing, and let it deepen your relationship with Christ. Whether your current circumstances are good or painful, remember that a time is coming when God will bring all disasters and wars to an end. In the meantime, He is our stronghold in times of trouble.

The Psalm of Life

“I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.” (Psalm 91:2)

This marvelous psalm of life and security follows a psalm of frailty and death (Psalm 90) written by Moses, who may have been the author of this psalm as well. For our devotional study today, attention is called to the change of personal pronoun throughout, implying a dialogue between three speakers.

The psalm begins as a godly teacher, or prophet, or perhaps an angel bestows a benediction upon the believer: “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1), ascribing the security of the believer to the character of God.

The believer responds to this blessing by avowing his trust in God and in His character (v. 2).

To the testimony of the believer, the first speaker replies, expounding on the former blessing, detailing the protection provided by God (vv. 3-8) and the blessings of that care. Note, “because thou [the believer] hast made the LORD [Jehovah], which is my [the speaker’s] refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone” (vv. 9-12).

At the end, Jehovah Himself responds, confirming all that the speaker has said: “Because he [the believer] hath set his love upon me [Jehovah], therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation” (vv. 14-16). JDM

Doxology

I love You, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my mountain where I seek refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I was saved from my enemies (Psalm 18 vv. 1-3).

The psalms contain more lament than praise. Uninhibited praise is usually preceded by authentic lament. Perhaps today our praise and worship are sometimes shallow and superficial because we have not learned to lament. Unlike David we have little or no concept of how profound our personal need is.

Miraculously delivered from his enemies and from Saul (see 2 Sam. 8, 22), David broke forth in this moving song with intense feeling. Because of his artistic discipline, he was able to hone this experience into a carefully crafted psalm of beautiful structure and symmetry:

  • Doxology (vv. 1-3)
  • Metaphors of deliverance (vv. 4-6)
  • Theophany (vv. 7-15)
  • Personal application (vv. 16-45)
  • Doxology (vv.46-50)

This song deals with David’s dramatic deliverance from Saul and from his enemies, but it also deals with the quintessential Deliverer to come, the Messiah. In Romans 15:9, Paul applies Psalm 18:49 directly to Christ, our Messiah.

Psalm 18 comforts and encourages me. Like David, I can be set free—physically and emotionally. The liberation of my personality will occur as I place more and more trust in Christ, my Deliverer, rather than in human effort unempowered by God.

Personal Prayer

I praise you, Yahweh, for being my Rock, my Savior, and my Deliverer. May you be exalted in my life today, and may I sing praises to your name.

The Language of Music

Doxology

An expression of praise to God, this term is based on the Greek word Doxa which means “glory.”

Louis Bourgeois’s “Doxology” from the Genevan Psalter is an excellent example:

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;

Praise Him, all creatures here below;

Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen!

Not an End—A Beginning

Stay in the city until you are empowered from on high.—Luke 24:49

Writing on the subject of the Holy Spirit has whetted my appetite for more of His fullness and His power. I can never be the same again. I hope something similar happens to you.

The Holy Spirit coordinates and unifies the conscious and the subconscious, He comforts and contributes, He clothes and convinces. There is much more that could be said, of course, about His ministry in our lives, but let me draw your attention to something else—God is willing to give you as much of His Spirit as you are willing to receive.

If you believe that you received all of the Spirit at conversion, then the question for you is this: How much is He ruling and reigning in your life at this present moment? If you believe that the Holy Spirit is given subsequent to conversion, then permit me to ask you this: What steps have you taken to open your entire being to Him in order that you might be filled with all His fullness? Don’t, I beg you, remain stagnant because of some doctrinal position you might hold. Seek Him afresh today, that He might flow through your life in the fullness of His power.

And don’t just focus on being filled for the blessing you might enjoy. Remember, the Holy Spirit is like electricity—He won’t come in unless He can get out. Tell Him you want to be a channel, not just a consumer, and today will be not an end, but a beginning.

Prayer

O God, now as I take all barriers down, come in by Your Holy Spirit’s power and flood my life with Your divine glory. May the receiving flow out in giving. This I ask for Your own dear name’s sake. Amen.

Further Study

Jn 7:32-44; Mt 5:6; Isa 55:1; Rv 22:17

What was the promise of Jesus?

How thirsty and hungry are you today?

Saints in Embryo

1 Thessalonians 5:23

John Wesley’s teaching on holiness was both novel and radical—in fact revolutionary. Wesley followed in the wake of Luther’s reformation. In Luther the pendulum had swung from “salvation by works” to “salvation by faith” but, as always the pendulum had swung too far in certain quarters. For some the wine had been too strong! “What a relief,” they had said in effect. “Thank God we have been shown the evil of salvation by works! All we have to do is “believe” and everything will be well on the judgment day.”

In pondering this sorry consequence of Luther’s doctrine, Wesley realized that the fault lay in the narrow meaning which had been given to the word “salvation.” In popular thinking “salvation” was simply a question of getting by on the day of judgment. It was strictly a heavenly matter.

Relentlessly Wesley stressed the need for personal holiness here on earth. Salvation was not a future question but a present concern. It was the duty and privilege of every Christian to live uprightly. Thoughts, motives, actions—all were within God’s sphere of interest and influence. Holiness was not the concern of a handful of religious specialists; it was the very heart of religion—for everyone. Salvation and holiness were but two sides of the same coin. They could not be separated. Every “saved” man was a saint in embryo.

Wesley took Luther’s doctrine one step further. Where Luther had said, “You are saved by faith,” Wesley said, “You are saved and sanctified by faith.”

The emphasis on holy living was long overdue. The preaching of entire sanctification as Wesley had taught it was an outstanding feature in the early revival days of our own movement. The doctrine is especially linked with two names: General Bramwell Booth and Commissioner Samuel Logan Brengle. Due to their influence The Salvation Army has maintained a dual emphasis: salvation and holiness. We go so far as to name our Sunday meetings by the doctrines that are taught in them. Wesley’s teaching shook the church of his day, and there is little doubt that in Article 10 (1 Thessalonians 5:23) we have one of the most radical doctrines of holiness within the whole Christian Church.

John Larsson, Doctrine Without Tears

VIDEO Who’s In Your Head? – Catch a Better Life

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 1 Peter 1:13, NIV

Have you ever been so distracted that you walked into another room and wondered why you were there? No one likes to admit it, but I think this happens more frequently than people like to admit. This world is filled with so many things that can “occupy” our thoughts that we become “preoccupied,” and lose focus on what we are doing and Who is really important.

Who is in your head? Who occupies your thoughts? Who or what do you think about most? Peter told us to keep our minds alert and sober, and to occupy our thoughts with the coming hope offered by the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of letting troubles and temptations dominate our thinking, we should learn to push those thoughts out with the truths of Scripture.

Colossians 3:2-4 says, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”

Begin the practice of reverent meditation on the being of God. A. W. Tozer


Catch a Better Life – Daily Devotional, Christian Faith January 21, 2022

Love of Learning

Let the wise listen and add to their learning. Proverbs 1:5

When asked how he became a journalist, a man shared the story of his mother’s dedication to his pursuit of education. While traveling on the subway each day, she collected newspapers left behind on seats and gave them to him. While he especially enjoyed reading about sports, the papers also introduced him to knowledge about the world, which ultimately opened his mind to a vast range of interests. 

Children are wired with natural curiosity and a love for learning, so introducing them to the Scriptures at an early age is of great value. They become intrigued by God’s extraordinary promises and exciting stories of biblical heroes. As their knowledge deepens, they can begin to comprehend the consequences of sin, their need of repentance, and the joy found in trusting God. The first chapter of Proverbs, for instance, is a great introduction to the benefits of wisdom (Proverbs 1:1–7). Nuggets of wisdom found here shine a light of understanding on real-life situations.

Developing a love of learning—especially about spiritual truths—helps us to grow stronger in our faith. And those who have walked in faith for decades can continue to pursue knowledge of God throughout their life. Proverbs 1:5 advises, “Let the wise listen and add to their learning.” God will never stop teaching us if we’re willing to open our heart and mind to His guidance and instruction.

By:  Cindy Hess Kasper

Reflect & Pray

What fresh truth of Scripture have you added to your knowledge recently? How can you continually pursue a deeper understanding of God’s truth?

Father, please continue to open my mind and heart to grow in knowledge and wisdom as I read from the Scriptures.

Grow deeper in your understanding of faith.

On the Bottom Looking Up

Trusting in God’s power and grace makes it possible to break the cycle of despair.

1 Samuel 30:1-20

Most of us know how it feels to be at rock bottom. Despair is a horrible condition because it continually feeds on discouragement, hopelessness, and failure. And the longer one dwells on these things, the greater despair grows. The only way out is to break free from this vicious cycle of darkness. We do this by . . .

• Repenting of anything that has caused us to doubt the Lord. If we’re in despair, then something has overshadowed God in our life, and that barrier must be removed—the sooner, the better. 

• Recalling the Lord’s omnipotence. Since He had the power to save you from sin, He certainly also has the ability to overcome your despair. 

• Remembering that nothing in our life happens by chance. God works all things according to His sovereign plan, for the good of those who love Him, and for His glory (Rom. 8:28). 

Despair stands in conflict with the abundant life the Lord has promised. If you’re feeling down and out, ask Him to lift you back up today. You’ll never automatically fall out of despair. But with God’s help, you can change your mindset and see your situation through the lens of His Word.