December 15 – THE PROPHET OF THE MOST HIGH
Luke 1:76 – You, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways.
John the Baptist was the greatest of all the Old Testament prophets. Jesus testified of John saying, “This is the one about whom it is written, Behold I send My messenger ahead of You, who will prepare Your way before You” (Luke 7:27). Today, we hear the term “forerunner.” John was the “true forerunner.” John had a powerful anointing of the Holy Spirit upon him and when he spoke, great conviction came upon the people. Many responded to his call to be baptized. His ministry of baptism was a preparatory response to the coming Messiah. Some thought that John was the Messiah, but he was only preparing the “way” for the Lord.
One reason for the confusion about John’s prophetic ministry was that Moses had spoken of a prophet like himself. “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, and you shall listen to him” (Deuteronomy 18:15-16). Some were questioning whether John was “that prophet” of which Moses spoke. John was chosen by God to point out the “true prophet,” the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is interesting to note in Zacharias’ prophetic word, that he speaks of the Lord’s ways. Jesus fulfilled the purpose of God in many different respects. One of which is that He is the true Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, and Teacher. All those ministries come from the Lord Jesus Christ. In the New Testament, it is Christ who is the true prophet. If one is called to the office of “Prophet,” Jesus takes of His prophetic anointing and places a portion on the one He has called. Jesus’ ways are altogether righteous. He makes the one who believes on Him, altogether righteous. Jesus is our High Priest who is ever-living to intercede on our behalf. When a believer enters into the ministry of intercession, the anointing of Jesus for intercession comes upon that one.
John the Baptist was the first forerunner in the New Testament. He prepared the way for our Lord’s entrance into ministry. Jesus speaks of the “least” in the kingdom of God as being greater than John. “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11-12). Each believer is a forerunner as they live a kingdom lifestyle before a Christ-rejecting world. Some are called, like John, to live lives that are separated from the world in a profound way. Some give up the comforts of the culture they have known and go to live among people from a completely different culture to bear witness of Christ and His love.
The Holy Spirit has come to show us the “ways” of the Lord. He leads individuals into various experiences and expressions of Christ’s life and love. The Spirit of God is the One who prepares us for the life He has chosen to reveal in us. He gives gifts to enable us to more accurately represent the Lord Jesus and His love for people. Accept the call of God to be His representative in your sphere of influence. John fulfilled his call to present Christ to Israel. I choose to accept the call of God in my life to reveal Christ and His love to those around me.
Father, I ask for the Holy Spirit to anoint me to be a forerunner. Let my life represent Christ in such a way that Your ways are manifested through me. I pray for the love and compassion of Christ to be evidenced in my daily walk before others, that they might be drawn to the Savior.
December 14 – SERVE THE LORD IN HOLINESS AND RIGHTEOUSNESS
Luke 1:74-75 – Grant us to serve You without fear, in holiness and righteousness all our days.
Abraham was committed to serve the Lord all his days in holiness and righteousness. God honored Abraham because He believed God. Abraham believed God for the future because he saw by faith what God had promised. “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3). Abraham is known as “the father of the faithful.” He is the example of a faith-filled life. He did not experience everything God had promised him, but he saw it by faith, knowing God was faithful to all His promises.
Abraham served God without fear. It was faith that allowed him to serve God, trusting Him throughout his entire life. There were moments when Abraham wavered, but he did not camp in fear, but overcame through faith. He received God’s corrections and changed his way of thinking when reminded of God’s eternal promises.
Abraham was a man that served God in holiness. When we look at Abraham’s life, we could view some decisions he made as not being holy. God sees things differently because He sees the heart of an individual. The holiness of God is closely connected to the life of faith. The life of faith is lived out in the weakness of our flesh. Faith is judged ultimately by how we respond to holiness. When we do not live a “separated life” to God’s purpose, we are not walking by faith. Faith takes us beyond our rational thinking. Faith causes us to make decisions based on future expectations. Holiness is the present evidence of our faith in operation.
The result of faith and holiness is “righteousness.” Holiness is our actions of faith; righteousness is our state of being. We can be holy and live righteously all our days because Messiah has appeared and overcome the world on our behalf. Zacharias anticipated God’s salvation in his prophetic word. Up to this time, Israel was under the hand of its enemies. Through Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, Israel could now fulfill God’s plan, living the way the Lord had purposed.
Let us be renewed in faith, holiness, and righteousness during this Christmas season as we remember all that the Lord has done through Christ. The babe of Bethlehem is now the reigning King of the nations. Yield to Him in your life and give Him the control He rightly deserves. Receive the power of the Holy Spirit daily and overcome the enemy of your flesh, the enemy of your soul who is the devil, and the enemy who empowers this world’s systems. We are more than conquers through Jesus Christ the Lord!
Father, I thank You for the overcoming life I have in Christ Jesus. Let faith, holiness, and righteousness fill me. As I remember the babe of Bethlehem, I bow to the risen Christ who is seated far above all His enemies. I look forward to His glorious appearing when all those who have trusted Christ will be together to celebrate Your awesome salvation.
December 12 – ZACHARIAS’ PROPHECY
Luke 1:67 – Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied.
Zacharias, the father of John, prophesied at the birth of his son. Later John, who introduced the ministry of Jesus to Israel, became known as “John the Baptist.” In the very beginning of the Gospels, we observe how Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth, John’s mother, was also filled with the Spirit. Even John, in his mother’s womb, was filled with the Holy Spirit. Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit in the conception of Jesus. There was a lot of Holy Spirit activity around the birth of Christ. I believe the Father was anticipating the day when He would pour out His Spirit upon all those who believed.
The Spirit of God caused Zacharias to prophesy a powerful word in preparation for Messiah’s appearing. Luke 1:68 – 79 records Zacharias’ prophetic word to Israel. He began by declaring the Lord God of Israel as “Blessed.” He looked ahead to what the Lord would do and proclaimed in the present tense, “He has visited and accomplished redemption for His people.” He went on to speak of God’s horn of salvation in the house of David. Because the horn is used by animals as a weapon, it came to symbolize power and might. Zedekiah, a false prophet in Ahab’s day, made horns of iron to portray how Ahab was going to defeat the Syrians (1 Kings 22:11). God lifts up the horn of the righteous but cuts off the horn of the wicked (Psalm 75:10). Probably as an extension of this meaning of the word, horns in the visions of Daniel and John symbolized kingdoms and individual kings. David spoke of God as the horn, or strength, of his salvation (2 Samuel 22:3; Psalm 18:2). (Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 1986, Thomas Nelson Pub.).
Zacharias went on to mention that the prophets of old had spoken about God’s deliverance appearing to bring salvation from Israel’s enemies. The Apostle John wrote, “The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8-9). Luke records in the book of Acts, “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38).
Praise God for His horn of salvation, who by His might alone overcame the works of the enemy, putting the devil to an open shame. As we celebrate the birth of Christ, declare with Zacharias, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, and raised up a horn of salvation for us” (Luke 1:68-69).
Father, I bless and thank You for Jesus, the Lord. Each day, fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I too might declare Your wonderful salvation and prophesy of the good things to come in Christ the Lord.
Luke 1:45 – Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what has been spoken to her by the Lord.
One of the great declarations ever and one of the clearest prophetic words given came through the mother of our Lord. It is called the “Magnificat.” As you read Mary’s glorious pronouncement let the Holy Spirit minister to you from every word she spoke.
Mary said, “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. He has had regard for the humble state of His bond slave; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name. His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him. He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble. He has filled the hungry with good things; and sent away the rich empty-handed. He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever” (Luke 1:46-55).
As we walk through this Christmas season remembering the birth of our Savior, exalt the Lord with your soul, and rejoice in your spirit in God your Savior just as Mary did. The Lord has regarded each one who has put their trust in Him. Trusting Him takes humility on our part, a humility that recognizes that He chose us to be His Servant.
Mary prophesies that God’s mercy will be upon each succeeding generation toward those who fear Him. She declares what the Lord has accomplished in this great act. He scattered those who were proud, He has brought down rulers from their thrones, He exalted the humble, and He filled the hungry with good things, and gave help to Israel, remembering His mercy.
Mary had the right focus. She was pregnant with the child. She did not focus on her pregnancy, but rather, she looked ahead by faith to the purpose of God. As we celebrate Christ’s birth, let us remember His commands, primarily love one another as He loved us and to take the Gospel to the nations declaring the great things our God has done for us.
Father, I thank You for the Magnificat that came from Mary’s heart and mouth. Fill me with the Holy Spirit that I might magnify Your name and Your deeds before this generation. I thank You for Your mercy upon all those who fear Your name. Help me, Father, to point some toward You during this Christmas season that they too mighty glorify You.
>December 10 – FOUND WITH CHILD BY THE HOLY SPIRIT
Matthew 1:18 – Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.
People from previous ages had looked forward to this moment in time, when the woman’s seed mentioned in Genesis 3:15 would bring forth a Savior. From that time in the garden until this special generation, known as “Messiah’s Day,” there had been “enmity” between the seed of the woman and the serpent. In a very short period of time, this was all about to change. A man was about to be born who would fulfill God’s word given in Genesis 3 regarding, “crushing the head of the serpent.”
The Holy Spirit waited during the first creation for the Word of God so that He might bring order from the chaos of the elements. The Spirit was now moving again as the fullness of time had come. “When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-6).
The fullness of time had come as the Holy Spirit moved upon Mary and created the Holy Child Jesus in her womb. God’s means of salvation was being brought to birth. It is amazing to think about that glorious time. The world continued on as normal. Nobody in the Roman government knew what was about to happen. Some prophetic people in Israel knew the time was near for Messiah to be revealed.
Mary, holding in her heart what had been told her by an angel, went to be with her cousin Elizabeth, who also was with child. The baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaped when Mary and the Holy One within her entered the room. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and “cried out with a loud voice” and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me that the mother of my Lord would come to me?” (Luke 1:42-44). She knew by the Spirit that Mary was carrying the Messiah in her womb.
In our time, as the world goes on its way, the Lord is at work among His people, as well as in the midst of the nations. The Lord transcends time and space and works among us by His Holy Spirit. It is important for us to wait upon Him with listening ears so we, like Mary and Elizabeth, are in a place for the Lord to call us and use us for His eternal purpose. We too, carry something holy inside us. God gave us the promise of His Spirit for simply obeying the Gospel. Every believer is called to represent the Holy One of heaven.
Jesus’ birth is more than an event to celebrate. It is the only answer for mankind and his lost condition. As Mary went to share with Elizabeth, ccording to your word” (Luke 1:38). I ask You to create in me that degree of a submissive heart.
November 18 – YOU HAVE NEED OF ENDURANCE
Hebrews 10:35-37 – Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
Confidence comes from trusting in the Lord no matter what our circumstances look like. These Hebrew Christians needed to be encouraged in God’s absolutes because of the severe persecution they were enduring. It is difficult to keep your eye on the prize when you are being beat up on every side. Every believer goes through difficulties in their spiritual journey. Some have more challenges than others. Some believers have become discouraged and quit trying; others have been pulled into a fringe type group not teaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.
As believers, we have been given promises by God. We all need endurance to keep going until we receive the promise. This is the life of faith. In the case of these Hebrew believers, the promise the writer is addressing is the return of Christ. “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:12-13).
The Scriptures declare that the righteous live by faith. “Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). Hebrews says, “If he shrinks back, My soul will have no pleasure in him” (Hebrews 10:38b). The Lord’s pleasure is in righteousness. The author of Hebrews writes, “We are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:39).
God’s desire for each believer is “persevering faith.” It is from this base of exhortation we read of the honor roll of faith in Hebrews 11. What a list of “by faith” people we find.
- By faith, Able offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain
- By faith, Enoch was taken, so that he would not see death
- By faith, Noah . . . prepared an ark for the salvation of his household
- By faith, Abraham when he was called, obeyed
- By faith, even Sarah herself received the ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised
- Many more are listed who lived by faith
Hebrews 11:39, “All these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.” Beloved, in Christ we are being made perfect by faith.
Father, I call on You to help me be preserved in faith. I thank You for all those who have gone before me that lived a life of faith. I pray that I might grow in my ability to abide in Your love and press toward the prize that is in Christ Jesus my Lord.
November 17 – CHRIST OR JUDGMENT
Hebrews 10:26 – If we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.
The writer of Hebrews gives this severe warning based upon what he had previously written concerning the “one-time offering of the sacrifice of Christ.” Remember, these Jewish believers considered returning back to their Judaism because of the severity of the persecution they were experiencing. The writer of Hebrews established the “one-time sacrifice of Christ” as the finished work of God. There remains no more sacrifice, only a fearful looking ahead to judgment.
The threefold purpose of the will of God can be seen in a summary of the New Testament:
- Christ’s sacrifice and the power of His resurrection
- The coming of the Holy Spirit to bring forth God’s new creation in the earth through believers in Christ’s eternal work. The result being Christ revealed in each believer as a witness to the world of the truth of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God
- The return of Christ when He judges both the “quick and the dead.” In other words, the living and those who had died.
There is no more sacrifice to be offered, only what Christ has already done. The only thing remaining is Judgment Day.
Hebrews 10:26-31 are difficult scriptures for some to understand, especially if they are not read in the context of the writer’s letter. “If we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26a). The emphasis is on “willfully.” In his letter, the Apostle John gives the thought, “continues to practice sin” (1 John 3:9). Receiving the knowledge of the truth does not mean born again. It implies that one has heard the truth and understands its implication: Christ is the end of sacrifices. “There no longer remains a sacrifice for sins (no more sacrifices will be offered), but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26b–27). The issue here is going back to the Law as a means of salvation. In the Law, there were continual sacrifices offered for sins. Christ became the end of the Law for dealing with sin. This is why the writer says that there is no more sacrifice. The one and only acceptable sacrifice is Christ’s death.
For these Jewish believers, going back under the Law would be trampling underfoot the Son of God. It would be regarding the blood of the sacrifice as unclean and would be an insult to the Spirit of grace. If the sacrifice of Christ is rejected then the only expectation is judgment. The Lord will judge His people. The writer uses the Law as his example. “Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses” (Hebrews 10:28). He then says, “How much more severe punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and regarded unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified and has insulted the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29).
The writer is making this point: don’t go back, because only judgment will lie ahead. He then reminds these Jewish believers of the entrance into the kingdom of God beginning in verses 32-34. “Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward” (Hebrews 10:35). Tomorrow we will devote ourselves to this great exhortation.
Father, I thank You for the blood sacrificed in Christ’s death. I plant my confidence firmly in His blood. My sins have been cleansed, and I am sanctified through Your covenant in Christ.
November 16 – HOLD FAST YOUR CONFESSION IN CHRIST
Hebrews 3:1 – Holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.
The book of Hebrews has been called the “Royal Book.” It addresses the royalty of Christ. He is the One every true believer confesses as King of kings and Lord of lords. He is our High Priest. Jesus is the One “He ever lives to make intercession for us,” We can draw near with confidence to the throne because our redeemer has passed into the heavens. He is able to understand the weakness we have because of sin. He was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.
The book of Hebrews was written to Jewish believers who had been experiencing severe persecution. The intended readers were thinking of abandoning their faith and of lapsing back to Judaism. The author exhorts them to hold fast to their confession of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Hebrews 10 is a powerful portion of Scripture that establishes what Christ has fully done for each believer. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:23-24).
In the past, these believers followed the Law of Moses which instructed God’s Covenant people to bring continual sacrifices for sin. The author wants these Jewish believers to understand the Law was only a shadow of the good things to come. Further, the sacrifices they once offered year by year could not make them perfect. If the Law could have produced perfection, the worshipers would no longer be conscious of sin. Instead the law was a constant reminder of their need to receive God’s forgiveness. In Hebrews 10, he writes of the impossibility of the blood of animals to take away sin. Those sacrifices atoned or covered up sin so God could have mercy upon His people. The Father looked ahead to the better sacrifice which He would offer on behalf of lost humanity. Only one sacrifice was needed now, the sacrifice of Christ. The one sacrifice of Christ is sufficient.
A new and living way has been established. Through the blood of Christ, we have confidence to enter into the holy place. “A new and living way was inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh” (Hebrews 10:20). Because we have a great high priest over the house of God we can draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith because our hearts have been washed in His blood. Our confidence is in these facts. The writer says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23). From this position, we are to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.
The writer encourages these Jewish believers in what God accomplished through the faithfulness in Christ when he exhorts, “Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25). Tomorrow, we will consider why it is important to encourage one another as the Day of Judgment draws near.
Father, I thank You for Your ultimate sacrifice on my behalf, Your own Son. Thank You that my conscience has been cleansed through the blood of Christ so I can have confidence to enter into Your presence. I commit myself to hold fast to my confession, drawing near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.
November 15 – PERFECTING THE LOVE OF GOD
1 John 4:12 – No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
The subject of the love of God is enormous. John reminds us that no one has seen God at any time. Jesus was the manifestation of God in human form. “He who has seen Me, has seen the Father” (John 14:9). John goes on to say that “God abides in us.” If we have repented of sin and received God’s love in the person of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, God is abiding in us. If that is true, then His love is being perfected in us as well. In Christ, we are in a state of growth and development that has its manifestation in God’s love. He gave us the Holy Spirit for the purpose of developing in us the same love of Christ revealed in Jesus’ earthly life and ministry.
John writes, “If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.” How can we reconcile the divisions and sometimes mean-spiritedness seen in the body of Christ? First, we need to understand that John is giving us the ideal. The goal of maturing is the “love of God manifested in a believer’s life. God’s love is being perfected in us. Second, it is understood that believers are in a state of development, “working out their own salvation with fear and trembling.” There are some who deal with the brokenness of their lives for many years. The important factor is an effort to press into God’s love and allow His love to be expressed through the stages of growth.
Many wrestle with their own security in the “love of God” because they have difficulty receiving His love for themselves, let alone abiding in His love, and then releasing it to others. This is why it is so important to take time in the initial process of coming into the Christian faith. It is tempting to hurry people through the process like cattle, rather than leading them like sheep. We make joining the organization the greater importance, when healing of their past wounds and receiving God’s love for specific areas in their life should be our objective. As the believer learns to die to “the old” self and embrace “the new” in “the Holy Spirit,” they can learn to abide in God’s love and His sustaining power.
Father, I ask You for help in perfecting Your love in my life. I ask for the same love to fill me that worked in Jesus throughout His earthly ministry. Show me anything which blocks Your love from growing in me. Help me to repent and forsake any obstacles that are in the way.
November 14 – IN THE CROSS, LOVE
John 13:3-4 – Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself.
The thirteenth chapter of John brings together a number of important insights for our own development in the love of God. Before the Feast of Passover, Jesus knew His time had come to die, passing from this world to the Father. The Scripture says of Jesus, “Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” (John 13:1b). As Jesus partakes of His last meal with His disciples, He knows that the devil already put it into the heart of Judas to betray Him. He knows that the Father had given all things into His hands. With that knowledge, He prepares to wash His disciple’s feet.
Once again, Peter becomes an example for us. His human nature is so much like all of ours. I thank God for Peter. Jesus came to Peter to wash his feet. Peter responded in a way which was typical for him when he said, “Never shall You wash my feet!” (John 13:8a). Jesus was very clear with Peter, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me” (John 13:8b).
The love of God was being demonstrated in the upper room toward these disciples. Jesus the Servant, modeled the love of God to each one of His disciples, even with the knowledge that one of them was about to betray Him. He told His disciples, “You are clean, but not all of you” (John 13:11). The love of God was about to be demonstrated to the whole world as Jesus, God’s Servant, hung on the cross for our sins. He took the punishment for sin and death. He went to hell in our place. He overcame death and hell and now reigns in victory over all. By faith, as we embrace what the Lord accomplished for each one of us, the love of God is born in our hearts.
In his letter to the church, the Apostle John is very clear about the operation of God’s love in the believer. “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this, the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him” (John 4:8-9). The manifestation is in the transforming work of God’s love in us. The world can only know the “love of God” by what is manifested in our lives. When someone is “born again,” they are born into the love of God. The true sign of God’s rule in our life is God’s love.
Maturity in Christ is evaluated by the manifestation of God’s love. “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (John 4:10-11). Jesus came to bear our sins. We then, must forgive others. Forgiveness demonstrates the love of God in our hearts. Let me be clear, the believer is in a state of growth. Some have worked through their issues of unforgiveness more than others. Our salvation is witnessed by God’s love manifested in us. The Holy Spirit wants to show us the areas we have not yet developed in His love. If You are aware of issues in your life where you do not have God’s love manifested in you toward others, the Holy Spirit wants to help you.
Father, I thank You for Your love poured out at the cross through my Lord Jesus Christ. Because of the cross, I thank You for the Holy Spirit who is now poured out in the hearts of believers such as myself. Fill me with the love of God, especially towards those who are difficult to love.
November 13 – THE LOVE OF GOD HAS BEEN
POURED OUT WITHIN OUR HEARTS
Romans 5:4 – The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Imagine, the God of all creation has poured out His love in the heart of every believer. The Lord does this through the Holy Spirit when He is given to the believer. We have been devoting ourselves to the subject of faith and hope. We now will consider love and how it is the foundation to faith and hope.
“In Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). A major issue which Paul had to address was the question concerning the need to be circumcised in order to legitimately be a Christian. Paul is clear on the subject. Only faith working by love matters.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians and listed many things that confirmed his calling and apostolic ministry. Within the list he cites, “. . . in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love” (2 Corinthians 6:6-7). Every believer has been called to freedom in Christ. This freedom empowers us to serve others. The heart of the gospel of the kingdom is in “serving others.” This involves reaching out to another who is hurting, broken, and trying to find their way to God. We are to use our freedom for their benefit. We are to never take advantage of a brother or sister to benefit ourselves. Paul says, “Through love serve one another.”
The love of God is difficult to grasp. It is foreign to the various types of human love. The love of God requires one to give up their life for the sake of another. It is impossible to operate in God’s love without the Holy Spirit’s participation. He has to impart the Love of God and then we must receive His love. Finally, we choose to administer His love to another.
In John 21:15-19, the Lord sought to help Peter come to know the love of God by asking him, “Do you love me more than these?” Jesus did this three times. Each time, as Peter answered in the affirmative, Jesus directed him to take care of His lambs. In Acts 13, Paul and Barnabas were called by the Holy Spirit to go to the Gentiles and proclaim the love of God. They experienced beatings and stoning in their ministry. In spite of the despicable way they were treated, they pressed forward in faith and hope motivated by the love of God revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Father, I ask You to fill me day by day with Your love, drawing me ever deeper into intimacy with You. I pray to know more and more of the love of God found in Christ Jesus, my Lord. I ask You to help me to grow up into a fuller manifestation of Christ’s love for others, and to come closer to loving as You love.
November 12 – HOPE AGAINST HOPE
Romans 4:18 – In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “So Shall Your Descendants Be.”
This is an interesting Scripture. Abraham “hoped” because he believed. All the evidence was against such a position. The Scriptures indicate that Abraham gave consideration to his body and his age, but he did not become weak in his faith. Abraham trusted the “promise” of God. He did not waver in unbelief, even though all evidence suggested he should just accept his physical condition at the age of 100. Physically speaking, he could not produce children. “Abraham grew strong in faith giving God the glory” (Romans 4:20). Abraham was fully persuaded that what God had promised, He was able to perform. Is it any wonder he is called the “father of the faithful”?
As believers in Christ, it is important to realize that we received our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand. Our greatest expectation is hope of the glory of God. At the same time, we glory in tribulation. The reason we are to glory in tribulation is because it produces a number of attributes. “Tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).
Abraham knew tribulation, but faith grew because he believed God’s promise over rational reasoning. This kind of language and suggestion is an offense to the natural man. It is why the Scriptures speak of the cross as an offense. How can belief in the death of Christ bring about eternal life for individuals? It just does not make sense to the rational man. On the other hand, the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit because they are spiritually understood. It takes the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ. It takes the Holy Spirit to give us faith and hope. Through the Holy Spirit, love is poured out within our hearts.
Faith, hope, and love are three cords that cannot be easily broken. The greatest of the three is love. It is love that undergirds everything else. As a believer, it is important to nurture these three attributes. They find their greatest development in a believer’s life through challenges which create an atmosphere for their development. What challenges are you facing today? Inquire of the Lord about developing faith for those challenges. Let faith become the substance of hope toward your challenge. Trust the Holy Spirit to help you walk in faith by love.
Father, grant me grace to live a life of faith, producing hope, and working by love. As Abraham of old had hope against hope, I pray that I too, might live in a high level of hope when facing impossible circumstances in my life.
November 11 – FAITH, THE SUBSTANCE
Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1 lays the foundation for faith. The eleventh chapter of Hebrews has been called “the honor role of faith.” Note how the writer begins verse 1, “now faith is.” What a powerful expression of absolute trust. The writer does not say faith might be, but is! Is what? It is the assurance of the things hoped for. I like the way the King James expresses this passage. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” KJV. I appreciate the word “substance” because it speaks of the spiritual material from which hope is formed. Material objects have “molecules”, whereas biblical faith is the substance of “hope.” This expectation of hope means “an absolute confidence.” It is so real it is made of the “evidence of things not seen”.
The rational mind has great difficulty with this kind of thinking. The spiritual person knows this kind of thinking is what causes miracles to take place through a believer. As a believer in Christ, our hope is in His resurrection power. “We had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. He will yet deliver us” (2 Corinthians 1:9-11). This is New Testament Christianity! Listen how Paul expresses hope to the Roman believers. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
Jesus, when quoting Isaiah 42:2 declares “He will lead justice to victory” (Matthew 12:20). The Pharisees had gone out to conspire against the Lord how they may destroy Him. Jesus, aware of their plans, withdrew Himself and then healed the sick and gave the people warnings. He quoted Isaiah 42:2-3 so the people would know He was the one fulfilling Isaiah’s prophetic declaration. Our hope is rooted in Jesus because He fulfilled the prophetic words given by the Prophets of old. God’s word has proven true. Christ’s resurrection established God’s covenant forever. As we trust in Christ, we are brought into a place of “assurance and conviction” that makes up our faith. Faith is the substance of our hope. We can experience peace and joy presently, while waiting for His return. “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13).
Our faith flows out of our hope in the resurrection. We are to work His works in faith as we wait for His return and the glory that will be revealed. Pray to grow in the substance of faith that your hope may be firm and increase unto His coming. Let hope be settled about who you are in Christ. Grow in faith that will move mountains of resistance. By faith see the victory over sin, sickness, demonic strongholds, and anything else that would dare to resist God’s purpose in your life.
Father, by Your Spirit, I ask You to help me be one who moves in faith. Cause hope to increase in me as the substance of faith enlarges and my confidence grows. Give me courage to resist doubt and unbelief. Use me to bring others to faith and hope through the power of Your Holy Spirit residing in me.
November 10 – HOPE THAT WILL NEVER
Psalm 31:24 – Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the Lord.
Strength and courage come from a “hope in the Lord.” This is because the Lord never changes. “I the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6). We can have confidence because the Lord is the hope of our salvation.
Our minds need to be trained in a hope that is rooted in God the Father. The world teaches us to hope in ourselves and become self-reliant. David learned to hope in the Lord. “For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth. By You, I have been sustained from my birth; You are He who took me from my mother’s womb; My praise is continually of You” (Psalm 71:5-6). This is the kind of mind-set we must develop in this matter of hope. It begins by knowing the Lord had an important part with our birth. Before we were converted, the Lord was already at work in His purposes for us. Some of us experienced times when our lives might have been shortened, except the Lord “sustained” us. I am grateful to have the same testimony as David, “You are my confidence from my youth.” Regardless of what stage of life we came to know the Lord, it is important to understand He had His hand upon us.
Hope is developed from a love for God’s word. “I hope for Your salvation, O Lord, and do Your commandments. My soul keeps Your testimonies, and I love them exceedingly. I keep Your precepts and Your testimonies, for all my ways are before You” (Psalm 119:166-167). The hope David possessed was not a maybe hope, but a sure knowledge of God’s faithfulness and enduring mercies. His confidence came from his relationship with God. Even in his failures, he trusted the Lord based upon God’s character and not his own perfection. “Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your loving-kindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:1-2).
Solomon learned from his father, King David. He learned to hope in the Lord and trust His commandments. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life. The one who despises the word will be in debt to it, but the one who fears the commandment will be rewarded” (Proverbs 13:12-13). In his later years, Solomon forgot his own counsel. He experienced the “debt to the word.” Solomon began to depend on his own human wisdom. He was not able to transfer to his son what he had received from his father David.
Biblical hope affects more than our own life. It affects the generations. David’s hope in God has had a profound effect on millions down through the ages. David’s greater Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, came to establish hope for mankind. Because of the cross and the resurrection, the Holy Spirit is able to impart an eternal hope that will fully be revealed at the Lord’s appearing. Tomorrow, we will consider “hope” as a New Covenant believer in Christ.
Father, I thank You for Your servant David, who laid such a wonderful foundation of hope through his words and his life testimony. I pray You will help me be established, day by day in the hope which the Holy Spirit imparts.
November 9 – FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE – THE KEY TO VICTORY
1 Corinthians 13:13 – Now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Normally you do not think of spiritual warfare when reciting 1 Corinthians 13:13. These three pillars of the Christian walk are essential to our battle against the enemy. These three weapons have power to destroy the enemy’s entrenchment in the mind of believers and will pull down strongholds of arguments against Christ.
We begin with faith, not only because it is mentioned first, but because “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). Jesus would often declare that one’s faith had made the individual whole. The biblical definition of faith is that “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith operates out of assurance. Assurance comes by the promises of God’s word. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). The context of Romans 10 begins with Christ as the end of the law for righteousness. Righteousness has its root in Christ alone.
Romans 10:6 quotes Deuteronomy 30:14, stating that the righteousness based on faith speak of the word of God being near us, that is in our mouth and in our heart. Faith operates by the word of God taking root in our heart and then being formed in our mouth. Both our mouth and our heart are connected with righteousness. We think in righteous terms and we speak with righteous words.
When we were in the flesh, our heart and mouth produced works of the flesh. Jesus said, “The things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and slanders” (Matthew 15:18-19). In Christ, our heart and mouth are to be used as instruments of righteousness producing life.
In his letter, James connects “faith and works.” James asks the question, “If someone says he has faith but he has no works, can that faith save him? Faith is spoken, but the kind of faith that brings about results is the faith of Christ which always produces works of righteousness. Christ-like faith will reach out into the community and set the captives free from sin, sickness, demonic oppression, and to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is the first pillar of three. Today, why not believe God for an infilling of His Holy Spirit in the realm of faith? Let the Holy Spirit search your heart and cleanse any areas needing washed in the blood of the Lamb. Trust the Holy Spirit to put “the word of faith” into your mouth. Saints, be established in a lifestyle of faith!
Father, search my heart and see if there be any wicked thing in me. I ask to be made wholly consecrated Lord, to Thee. I pray to be established in faith and be used of the Holy Spirit to set others free from every stronghold of the enemy binding up their life.
November 8 – REMAINING FAITHFUL
1 John 2:24 – If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father (KJV).
Abiding is an important topic of the New Testament. In the last hours of His earthly life, Jesus taught His disciples what it meant to abide in Him. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).
For some, John 15 can be a difficult chapter because of the illustration of removing branches and casting them away. It is important to understand that Jesus is speaking to His apostles. They are the ones He is sending into the world to lay the foundation of His Church by preaching the “goodness of His kingdom.” Judas, who was named among the apostles, was really an agent of the devil. The Jewish people saw themselves as the “special people of God.” Jesus is now defining who the people of God really are. Apart from Jesus, nothing can be done that has eternal significance.
The sum total of what Jesus came to accomplish is found in the Father and the Son taking up a place of residence in the believer through their indwelling Holy Spirit. In John’s gospel account, he calls this “abiding.” In John’s letter to the church, he again calls this work of God “abiding.” God’s will is to abide in every part of the believer’s life. The Father and the Son desire for the believer to come and know as much of their nature as one can contain.
The word abiding speaks of fellowship. “What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete” (1 John 1:3-4). Abiding in Christ is what produces fellowship with the Father and the Son. It also is the foundation of relationship among believers. There is a wonderful joy when one learns about an individual they know who has entered into a fellowship with the Father and the Son. The other day, a friend was sharing with me his recent experience with God. I was filled with joy and it allowed me to share with him deeper things in Christ than I had previously shared.
Father, I want to grow in my relationship with You. Lead me to abide in You so that Your will might be established fully in my life. I have determined to press into You. I ask You to supply the needed grace in my life to be Your faithful servant.
November 7 – DO NOT LOVE THE WORLD
1 John 2:15 – Do not love the world nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
What a great verse of Scripture to remind us of how easily we can become separated from the love of the Father. The Father does not forsake us, but we can be drawn away from His presence as we are filled with things. Some years ago, I began to change a habit of saying I loved a particular item. I realized that habit nurtured “things” rather than a person. The Father is concerned about persons. Love is meant to be organic and not about objects.
The world is corrupt through sin. Sin gave Satan a right to rule the nations and corrupt the world through systems. Jesus conquered Satan and made it possible to bring the nations under God’s government. The work of salvation in the life of a believer destroys the works of the flesh with its lust and gets the love of the world out of the saints of God. Jesus made it clear when He prayed to the Father saying, “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15). Jesus prayed these words because He understood, while the disciples were in the world, the attacks against them would be rooted in Satan and his domain.
It is not wrong to have possessions as long as the possessions do not possess us. There is an expression I learned many years ago, “Hold on to things loosely.” I enjoy restoring old radios and transmitters. I continually need to practice not becoming emotionally attached to a nice piece of equipment. I am grateful for all that the Lord has blessed my wife and me with, but I know I can be satisfied with little because I have known both little and abundance.
The Holy Spirit wants to develop a kingdom culture in us. That is, everything we own, time we spend, and places we go must have a foundation in the kingdom of God. Whether or not I am purposely involved in a particular kingdom activity, the kingdom of God is to be my first priority.
Father, reveal to me if there is any worldliness in my life. Help me, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to be free from any love of the world. I choose to only make room for the love of the Father in my life.
November 6 – BE ON THE ALERT
Ephesians 6:18b – Be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all saints.
Throughout the New Testament, the verb “to pray” carries a number of meanings. A few examples are to ask, make request, to desire, beseech, and to call to one’s aid. The word “intercession” is used often in today’s church. It speaks of requests made on behalf of others. The Scriptures do not speak of an office of “intercessor.” The Holy Spirit leads individuals to make petition on behalf of others. Some are led by the Spirit to pray on behalf of nations. Nations include people groups coming to a revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit is the sole interpreter of the needs of the human heart. He makes intercession on behalf of the saints. Prayer is impossible to man apart from the Spirit’s help: “The Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words” (Romans 8:26). Believers are exhorted to pray at all seasons in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18; cf. Jude 20). “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16).
Paul teaches that prayer is made from two sources. “For I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also” (1 Corinthians 14:15). When Paul speaks of the mind, he is speaking of his understanding. Paul is saying that there are areas of need of which we are aware in our minds. We don’t need a special revelation to pray. Just pray! There are other needs of prayer which come by revelation through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Paul is speaking of “his spirit” praying and singing. In the context of the chapter, he is addressing the subject of the private use of tongues.
Just as Paul said in Ephesians 6:18, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all saints. This is one of our assignments, beloved. As we put on the armor of God daily, let us make sure we do not neglect this exhortation. This would be a good time to commit or recommit yourself to a lifestyle of prayer. Prepare for the battle! The war is on with the kingdom of darkness. The saints of God must be engaged in the battle or suffer loss.
Father, I pray for Your help to cause me to be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all saints. Grant boldness to all Your servants throughout the world to be given utterance to make known the mystery of the gospel. Give me that boldness as well to witness Your love revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord.
November 5 – WITH ALL PRAYER IN
Ephesians 6:18 – With all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit.
Prayer is one of the most important disciplines of a believer’s walk in Christ. Prayer is our means of communication with our heavenly Father. Prayer is what we have been called to as priests of God. The authority Jesus has given to His church to overcome the kingdom of darkness is implemented by prayer. Prayer is not our thoughts being expressed to God, but rather through relationship with the Holy Spirit we receive God’s desires, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
Paul used the word all – “With all prayer and at all times.” When writing the Thessalonians, Paul admonishes them, “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer is not a ritual, but rather a lifestyle. Prayer must be Spirit-led to accomplish God’s purpose, and not from one’s own soul life. “God’s house will be a house of prayer for all peoples” (Isaiah 56:7).
The New Testament gives us an expanded dimension of prayer. “To pray” is always used of “prayer” to God. “Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates. We can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection” (2 Corinthians 13:7-8 KJV). I site the KJV because the quote uses the word “wish.” Paul is praying his desire or wish to God for the Corinthians.
Paul’s injunction in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 is “to pray without ceasing.” This describes his burden for the Lord’s Church to enter into her calling of prayer at all times. Paul’s prayer for the Philippians is most insightful when he says, “This I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless” (Philippians 1:9-10). Locating the prayers of Paul and the other apostles is a profitable study. Incorporate them into your prayer life. This prayer in Philippians is a powerful prayer which truly identifies the Father’s heart for His sons and daughters.
In tomorrow’s devotion, we will discuss a number of meanings for prayer. I will include: proper prayer and how faith relates to prayer. The Holy Spirit is present to help us enter into Paul’s encouragement to the Saints at Ephesus, “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit.” Daily, ask the Father and the Son to fill you with their Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will lead you and direct you throughout the day. You will find yourself praying more as the Spirit of God gives you insights and direction in the day’s activities.
Father, I thank You for inviting me to partner with You every day through prayer and petition. Fill me with Your Spirit as often as needed so that I might be alert to Your will and guided in my daily decision making. Use me to pray for others in their walk, that by faith I would see Heaven’s will brought to pass.
November 4 – THE HELMET OF SALVATION
AND THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT
Ephesians 6:17 – Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Paul says that we must “take” both the helmet and the sword. They are not placed in our hands; rather we must take the responsibility for picking them up. The helmet of salvation covers our heads. Salvation is holistic in its nature and is intended to minister daily to our souls. The soul has three main areas that need to experience God’s salvation daily: the will, the emotions, and the mind. All three areas need to be brought under the control of the Holy Spirit. The mind has at least five areas which the Lord wants to bring into conformity to the mind of Christ. Satan has his designs on each of these areas.
The five areas of the mind are described by Paul. We read in Colossians 3:2 about the affections of the mind. “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Paul mentions our imaginations in 2 Corinthians 10:3, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” He writes about the conscience in 1Timothy 1:19. “Keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.” Paul describes the use of the memory in 1 Corinthians 15:2. “Keep in memory what I preached unto you.” Finally, Scripture illustrates our ability to reason in Acts 19:8-9 when Paul “entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.”
We must “take up the sword of the Spirit.” The sword of the Spirit is the word of God. It is two-edged and can be dangerous if mishandled. One edge cuts away the fleshly nature of my own heart. The word of God is essential in changing my perspective and helping me see from God’s point of view. The other edge is the side of the blade for helping free others. When the sword is handled properly, bondages can be cut off those to whom you are ministering. It is important to read, study, memorize, and meditate upon the word of God. When we give ourselves to these four areas, it will cause us to become skillful with the sword of the Spirit.
Father, I thank You for these two important pieces of armor. Help me to put on the helmet of salvation daily, and to take up the sword of the Spirit. I ask You to make me a skillful warrior in Your army. I want to walk in the victory of the Lord Jesus Christ every day.
November 3 – WEARING THE ARMOR OF GOD
Ephesians 6:14b – Put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
The breastplate of righteousness covers your heart region. Righteousness is a heart issue. The enemy shoots his arrows at our hearts to try and kill the life of God. Many have received arrows from others, from childhood through adulthood. Believers can have great difficulty in their Christian growth because of wounds to their heart from the past. The Lord wants to heal us from the inside out. As we are healed, it is important to put on the breastplate of righteousness to stay well in one’s heart.
Putting on the shoes of the gospel of peace is for our daily walk. We are to walk in peace and bring peace wherever we go. Just as we take time to prepare our natural feet for walking, we must take time to prepare for our walk in Christ. It begins with intimacy with our heavenly Father. As we experience peace in the morning with the Lord, we are readied for the day and our experience with others.
Paul says, “Taking up the shield of faith.” It takes effort to put on the armor, but it is a necessary daily activity. We are called to walk in faith. It is the person of faith that overcomes the world. It is the person of faith that advances the kingdom of God. It is faith that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6). The devil hates people of faith because they cause his kingdom great problems. Only through faith do we “extinguish” his flaming arrows. The picture Paul is illustrating is that of a Roman soldier. The Roman soldiers would stand together with their shields interlocked. As believers we are to interlock with other believers against the enemies attacks. We do not have to go into the battle alone.
The “evil one” has a very ordered kingdom; he rules his domain with control and oppression. His purpose is to cause chaos for God’s plans. Satan is ruthless in his attack on God’s kingdom purposes and God’s covenant people. Paul outlines what we are up against in this battle. Many Christians try to meet the challenges they face through their own natural reasoning. The wisdom of man is not sufficient to deal with the kingdom of darkness. It is important for the believers to understand the warfare in which they are engaged. The armor is very important to our success in the battle.
It cannot be emphasized enough how important righteous living and a life of faith becomes as it relates to the subject of “spiritual warfare.” Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart daily and expose any area that has not been cleansed by the blood of Jesus and surrendered to His kingdom rule. Invite the Holy Spirit to establish your life habits in an atmosphere of faith. Repent of any areas He reveals that are not motivated by faith. Paul reminds us, “Whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).
Father, I thank You for both the breastplate of righteousness and the shield of faith. Grant me grace to put on both these essential parts of the armor that You have supplied. Strengthen me in the battle of advancing Your kingdom on earth.
November 2 – WE ARE IN A BATTLE
Ephesians 6:12 – For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
At times, it takes a number of English words to adequately communicate the meaning of the one Greek word. Words such as: deliverance, healing, safety, and wholeness bring a larger view of the salvation our God has provided. They also give us a larger view of the areas of attack from the enemy, areas such as demonic strongholds, sickness, disease, and persecution. Each one of these represents areas of battle in which the believer engages. Then there are the daily challenges of the flesh and dealing with temptation.
The armor must be put on daily. The practical application of God’s armor is to help His warring church conquer evil. Our verse today clearly identifies the forces behind the battle. Do I believe the word of God concerning the battle? The proof of my belief is found in obedience through application. “Put on the whole armor of God.” This is not a suggestion, but a command.
“Take up the full armor of God,” (are you?) so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13). Have we done everything? “Stand firm therefore having girded your loins with truth” (Ephesians 6:14). The armor begins with truth. The belt of truth holds all the armor together.
Consider what Jesus said about truth. “Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed on Him, ‘If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free’. They answered Him, We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, you will become free?” (John 8:31-33).
Deception can be ruthless. Throughout Jewish history, they were in bondage to the nations around them. For seventy years, the Israelites were captive to the Assyrians. Presently, they were captive to Rome. They really were slaves and the one speaking to them was “the Son of the house.” “Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever’” (John 8:34-35). We are no longer slaves, but sons. We must put on the truth every day, exercising our position in Christ against the enemies of our soul. Gird yourself with truth every day. All truth is eternal. In this case, truth is a man. Paul said, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Romans 13:14).
Five elements of entering into truth are: honesty, confession, repentance, receiving and giving forgiveness. Releasing others who have sinned against us opens the prison door and sets the captive free!
Father, I thank You for the freedom You have made possible in Christ. I chose to put on the “full armor of God.” Thank You for the girdle of truth I wear which holds all Your provisions together in my life.
November 1 – TAKE UP THE FULL ARMOR
Ephesians 6:10 – Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God.
Paul uses the word “finally” as he wraps up his teachings to the church at Ephesus. He was not correcting any error in this letter as he does in many of his writings. He gives the saints strong foundational teaching with redemption in the first chapter. Paul lays out eight themes in his letter:
- The blessing of redemption
- We are alive in Christ
- Stewardship relating to God’s Grace
- Unity of the Spirit
- The Christian walk
- Be imitators of God
- Marriage and family relationship
- The armor of God
Paul teaches that our battle is not in the natural realm, but in the supernatural. His message is an important message for believers today. Many come to a church service for the wrong motivations. Let’s consider three so we might search our own hearts concerning our motivation. If necessary, repent and come into alignment with God’s Eternal purpose.
First, many go to a church service to receive a “pep talk,” something to help get them through the week. There are those who need to be encouraged. That is not wrong. It is part of the reason Christians gather. God’s purpose and desire goes much deeper than pep-talks.
Second, some come as a sense of duty. Their heart is not fully engaged. They attend from a need to have religious activity. Many feel a need to “appease God” by their attendance. God is not looking for appeasement, but obedience to His calling.
Third, there are those which attend a church service when their soul moves them on special occasions or when other activities don’t interfere. You could say it is obeying God on their terms.
The purpose of our gathering is primarily for corporate worship, equipping, and instruction. Of course, this includes receiving the Lord’s Supper. Within these areas, the Spirit of God wants to manifest His presence among the body and minister His gifts to meet needs in the lives of God’s people.
“Put on the whole armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). When Paul writes, “put on the whole armor of God,” it is a clue there will be warfare. The armor of the Lord provides for both offense and defense in the battle. This armor is intended to be worn by those who have received God’s salvation. His salvation is greater than most realize. Tomorrow, we will enlarge on this thought.
Father, thank You for the armor You supply for Your saints. Please give me wisdom and understanding for the spiritual battle in which we are engaged. Cause me to be strong in the power of Your Holy Spirit. Teach me how to effectively wear the armor and be effective both offensively and defensively in the battle against the enemy.
October 31 – DOING THE WILL OF GOD
Matthew 7:21 – Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
This is a very clear word from our Lord about entering into the kingdom of heaven. The subject which Jesus is addressing can be found in verse 23, “You who practice lawlessness.” The lawlessness which Jesus is addressing is that of the religious leaders and their followers. They claimed to be followers of God and part of His kingdom, but they had established their own rules and were lawless and not submitting to the Law of God.
Jesus fulfilled God’s Law and was the only means to a right standing before His heavenly Father. Faith in the work of Christ gives us access to the Father and acceptance in His kingdom. Those who have trusted Christ are in varying degrees of development in terms of their daily obedience. “When the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:4-5).
God richly poured out His Spirit through Jesus. He justified us by His grace so we would be made heirs in our hope of eternal life. Through belief in what God has done by justification we should be careful to engage in good deeds. It is to our profit to be fruitful in good works and obedience to our great God and Savior.
It is vital to understand that no one person can obtain access into God’s kingdom except through Jesus Christ. It is He, and He alone, who justifies every believer. It is equally true that He did not save us simply to go to heaven, but as “heirs according to the hope of eternal life . . . we should be careful to engage in good deeds.” There is the great tension of the Scriptures regarding salvation. It is not by works which we have done that we trust, but by His work alone. The expected result of the Father is through the power of the Holy Spirit, we do the work of God by engaging in good deeds.
Paul says to Titus, “I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds” (Titus 3:8). It is with confidence I speak as well. God has secured your salvation, believe Him for what He has done on your behalf and do good works. Each day, ask for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit to do God’s works. In order to do those works, we must have God’s power.
Father, I thank You for Your kindness and love for mankind. Thank You for saving me not based on my deeds, but Your mercy. Now Lord, fill me with Your Holy Spirit, that by Your power I might do deeds of righteousness.
October 30 – EVERY ONE WHO PRACTICES RIGHTEOUSNESS IS BORN OF HIM
1 John 2:29 – If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.
The context of John’s writing is to encourage the children of God. In verse 24, John says to “let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning.” What was it that they heard from the beginning?
- God’s love for them.
- He had promised eternal life to those who believed.
- The anointing, which is the Holy Spirit.
John told the believers that he was writing to them because of those who were trying to deceive them. He is addressing the same problem Paul had to address, the Jews who distorted the Gospel. They were teaching the believers that they had to practice certain Jewish customs in order to be saved. John tells them, “You have no need for anyone to teach you; but His anointing teaches you about all things” (1 John 2:27). John was establishing the fact that the Holy Spirit was given to them to teach and clarify the gospel they had received. John was not saying to reject teachers. He recognized the “anointing” was the obvious final word. The anointing was in them, and not external.
John gave believers wise counsel when he said, “Now, little children, abide in Him” (1 John 2:28). Today, many run after all the different teachers and doctrines that are being represented. Some are leading God’s people away from a healthy relationship with the Father and the Son. People run after doctrines, supernatural manifestations, and charismatic personalities. Abiding in Christ is no doubt the wisest decision one can make. Waiting on Him, proving all things, and holding fast to what is true. As we abide in Him, we will have confidence when He appears.
John is not questioning the believer’s position regarding eternal life. He knows all believers will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. In that day, he does not want the believer to be ashamed, but to have confidence because of practicing righteousness. It is not the practice of the works of the law, but the practice of righteousness through faith in Christ that matters.
Father, I thank You for the confidence to stand before You and not be ashamed. Thank You for the anointing that is in me through the Holy Spirit. I pray for You to protect me from false teaching and instruct me by Your Spirit in righteousness.
October 29 – CHRIST LEFT US AN EXAMPLE
1 Peter 2:21 – For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.
As Peter states, “we are to follow in His steps.” What steps did the Lord leave us and how is it possible for us to walk as He did? He committed no sin (1 Peter 2:22). We start out with a major problem, even after the regeneration of the Spirit of God; we have a sin nature which must be put to death. In Romans 6 he deals with the problem and answers the question of how it is possible to walk as He walked. There was no “deceit” in His mouth. I certainly would like it said of me, there is no deceit in my mouth. What is deceit? “That which gives a false impression, whether by appearance, statement or influence.” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)
The Christian life is a process. It begins with the mindset, “our old self is being crucified with Christ” (Romans 6:6). This is why we are no longer “slaves to sin.” The work of salvation has been done in our spirit, but we must form a mindset in our soul of considering ourselves dead to sin. “Consider yourself to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). Christ suffered for us and we join His sufferings, by choosing “death to self.”
The scripture uses the word “sanctification,” which speaks of being separated to God. Our flesh is weak and hinders us from serving Christ. Before we gave our life to Christ, we were slaves to sin. Christ set us free from that master called sin. We now have a new master, called righteousness. “Now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification” (Romans 6:19). This is the new mind which Christ wants each believer to possess; I am dead to sin in Christ, no longer a slave to sin. I am alive unto righteousness, to serve righteousness. All of this is made possible through the Lord Jesus Christ. We are now to ask the Holy Spirit daily for His life to sustain us in our entire decision-making process.
“Now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life” (Romans 6:22). Jesus freed us from sin’s domain. We must not only believe, but apply Christ’s life in our daily walk. Salvation was secured in Christ, but the application is our responsibility. Assurance of our position in Christ is rooted in His work of redemption, but confidence to walk as He walked comes through obedience to the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit leads to “sanctification” with the final outcome of “eternal life.”
“While being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls” (1 Peter 2:23-25). I find myself returning again. How about you? I know of none who have obtained sinless perfection, but I know many who confess day by day their weakness and ask for Christ’s power to help in pleasing the Lord.
Father, I thank You for the Shepherd and Guardian of my soul. I need Your daily help for me to walk in Christ’s example. Fill me afresh with Your Holy Spirit so I might die to sin and live to righteousness.
October 28 – THE WITNESS OF THE FATHER
John 5:37 – The Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me.
The Father gives testimony to all He does. If the Father has called you and sent you, He will bear witness of you. The Father sent Jesus and testified about Him through the prophets of the Old Covenant. All the prophets spoke of Christ, pointing to His coming. Daniel even pinpointed the exact time of Christ’s ministry in his seventy year prophecy in Daniel 9. Isaiah described His suffering perfectly in Isaiah 53. John the Baptist, the last Old Covenant prophet, actually pointed out Christ declaring, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
The Father begins His witness in our lives as we respond to His Son through faith, just as the Father testified of Jesus when He spoke from heaven. “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16). He witnesses of His love for us. He declares it in the Scriptures, He bears witness in our regenerated spirit, and He encourages us through others.
The enemy of our soul tries to discourage us through feelings of unworthiness and rejection. He is a liar! We are not unworthy; for the Son has made us worthy, even though we are in the process of growing up into Him. The Father declares us “accepted”! Our past may try to haunt us through the statements of others. Statements filled with rejection, worthlessness, and failure. Those views of others are under the blood of Christ who declares we are beloved, accepted, worthwhile, darling, successful, purposeful, and important. We are His prize, His darling, and His beloved bride.
Jesus was very direct with the religious leaders whose hearts were hardened and controlled by the devil. Jesus declared, “You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form. You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent” (John 5:37-38).
Today, believe His word and His witness about you. Receive His love, acceptance, and forgiveness. The Father is ecstatic over you. We are in Christ and cannot be separated from His love. Rebuke the lies of the enemy that say you’re not worthy. Reject any negative comments from the past. Release those who have spoken poorly of you. Accept the Father’s love and favor. Then allow the Holy Spirit to reveal what He has done for you and in you that others might hear the witness of the Father through you.
Father, thank You that I am loved and accepted by You because of what Jesus has done on my behalf. I receive Your witness of me and want to tell others how You love them because of Your beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
October 27 – THE WITNESS OF WORKS
John 5:36 – The testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John.
Most would agree that John the Baptist had a powerful testimony of God’s power used to introduce the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus declares that His testimony is greater than John’s. Jesus’ greater testimony came through the works which the Father gave Him to accomplish. The greatest of the works is found in the cross. Before the cross, Jesus revealed the Father’s work in His ministry to God’s covenant people, Israel.
One of the first works took place in a Synagogue as a man manifested demons. Jesus cast out the demon by rebuking him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him” (Mark 1:25). The demon had said to Jesus, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us?” Jesus would not receive the testimony of the demon, but the work spoke for itself. The people were all amazed and debated among themselves, saying “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even unclean spirits, and they obey Him” (Verse 26).
Another work was the healing of a paralytic through forgiveness of his sins. “Jesus seeing their faith, said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven’” (Mark 2:5). Of course, this made the religious leaders angry because they counted it as blasphemy, thinking in their hearts, “Who can forgive sins but God?”
Finally, Jesus raised the dead. Lazarus had been dead four days, when Jesus prayed saying, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me. When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth’” (John 11:41-42).
The Father also equipped His people through the power of the Holy Spirit to do the “works of God.” God has called us to good works. This is why the gifts of the Holy Spirit are made available to believers. The Father has not commissioned us to go and proclaim the good news without also supplying what is needed to accomplish the task. As believers, we have authority and power in Jesus’ name to proclaim the good news of the Gospel and demonstrate the power of the kingdom of God.
Jesus was given the full measure of power to do the works of His heavenly Father. Each believer is authorized to move in the portion of power the Father chooses to give. The works of God usually need to be developed in a believer’s life. Don’t be disappointed the first time you pray for someone to be healed and they’re not healed. Just keep praying for the sick and trust God.
Father, I ask to be used by You to minister Your love to others. I pray for the works of God to be manifested in my life. I pray that Your works through me would witness to others of Your greatness and help lead them to a relationship with You.
October 26 –THE WITNESS OF JOHN
John 5:36 – He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.
It cannot be emphasized too greatly how important John the Baptist was to the introduction of Jesus and His kingdom reign. John was the prophetic bridge from the Old to the New Covenant. The last verses of the Old Testament recorded in the book of Malachi spoke of John when it said, “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse” (Malachi 4:5-6).
These verses reveal the heart of our heavenly Father. Elijah was the premier prophet of the Old Covenant. He represents the total prophetic revelation of the Old Covenant. John came in the spirit of Elijah. We know these scriptures speak of the time of Jesus’ first coming because Jesus calls John Elijah. Elijah is coming and will restore all things; but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands” (Matthew 17:11-12).
Prophets are anointed to be lamps to God’s people. John was that lamp, lighting the way for Jesus to enter His ministry. In those days, a lamp was fueled by oil which caused the wick to burn. As John “burned” for Jesus, those hearing him rejoiced for a time. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we too are called to burn for Jesus and to point to the “Lamb of God” who takes the world’s sin away. John’s light revealed Jesus. The light of the Holy Spirit in us reveals Jesus to a dark world as well. People rejoice in that light until they find out what is required to have the light in them. Many reject God’s love because, in order to receive what God has done in Christ, they are required to give up their life and receive His. This is why Jesus said “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).
For the one who receives the testimony of John, they become “greater than John.” “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11). Wow! We are greater than John! How can this be? The greatness of the least in the kingdom of God comes through being joined to Christ in the power of His resurrection and His indwelling Holy Spirit. John was part of the last covenant which looked forward to Christ’s first advent. We are those who are part of the “new” who live in the present reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are waiting for His glorious return, when at His appearing we will be joined with all those who have gone before us.
Father, I thank You for what You have done in Christ. I pray for the oil of the Holy Spirit to fill my life so I might burn like John, filled with light that points to Your great love in Christ.
October 25 – WITNESS OF THE SCRIPTURES
John 5:39 – You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me.
John 5 mentions four witnesses regarding Jesus. They are: the witness of John the Baptist, the witness of works, the witness of the Father, and the witness of the Scriptures. Jesus declares, He can do nothing on His own initiative and if He alone testifies about Himself, His testimony is not true (John 5:30-31).
What Jesus says about Himself is also true for every believer. As a believer, I can do nothing on my own initiative. One of the great challenges of the Christian walk is learning to live out of the life of the Spirit as opposed to drawing from our natural life. Many believers initiate good works, the problem being “they initiate them.” The works which Jesus performed came from the Holy Spirit, not Jesus’ own ideas of how to serve His Father. The witness of Jesus came from other sources. Jesus knew who He was, but He let other sources testify concerning Him.
The witness of John pointed toward Jesus and away from John. The witness of works demonstrated God’s power through Jesus’ life. The witness of the Father is that He sent His only Begotten Son. He spoke many times, through many individuals, and in many different ways concerning the coming of Jesus. The witness of Scripture is in the miraculous way the Law and the Prophets testified of Christ.
The fallacy of the religious leaders was they thought life was contained in the Scriptures. They did not recognize the One of whom the Scriptures spoke. To receive life is not a matter of conversation, but action. The action required in this case was to believe Jesus. Believe not only His words, but His works.
After Pentecost, the witness of all that Jesus did was witnessed in the coming of the Holy Spirit. Eternal life is obtained through the Spirit. As we believe the witness of others pointing to Jesus, as we believe the work of Jesus in the cross, as we believe the Father’s declaration that He sent His only Begotten Son, and as we believe the Scriptures.
As we receive Christ, His life is firmly rooted in us through the power of the Holy Spirit, and then we become part of the witness. The transformation of our life, the witness of our faith through how we now live and share with words, God’s love becomes a conduit of God’s grace.
Father, thank You for the witness You have given of Your will revealed in Christ. Thank You for sending the Holy Spirit to draw me to Christ and the life You made possible through faith in Jesus, the Christ, my Savior, and my Lord. Use me to testify of Your Son that others also may know His life.
October 24 – STRIVING ACCORDING TO HIS POWER
Colossians 1:29 – For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.
Paul tells us in Colossians 1:29 that he was laboring and striving (fighting) according to the Lord’s power which was at work in him. There is a work to be accomplished (labor) and a fight to be fought (striving). The labor is comparable to the one at work in the field preparing for the day of harvest. This includes plowing, sowing, watering and reaping. It is a full time job. There is also warfare, which is “striving” to attain the victory over the enemies of the gospel who want to hinder and destroy the harvest. Our victory is rooted in the Lord Jesus Christ and manifested in the believer by the Holy Spirit.
“Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27). The Gospel calls believers to a certain kind of conduct. It is in our conduct that we reflect the control of Christ in our life through the power of the Holy Spirit. What do people say about our life? Are we convicted of being a Christian or would many be surprised to hear that we are trusting Christ? Paul lists four areas of the believers “striving.”
- Standing firm in one spirit (a unified body)
- Having one mind as the body of Christ in your location
- Striving together (you do not go into battle alone)
Paul pulls these three areas together around “the faith of the gospel.” As believers, we must contend for the faith. “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3).
“You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,”
‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 12:4-6).
As believers, we must resist sin. For some it has cost them their lives. That is not so with us yet. In the battle, we strive to please the Lord. At times, it is necessary for the Lord to discipline us because we are “sons,” whom He is developing into mature men and women of God.
Father, I ask for Your help as I labor, striving according to Your power, which mightily works within me. Help me to stand firm in one spirit. Help me to have one mind in Your body. Join me in the battle with other faithful believers. Cause me to be strong and faithful when corrected by You.
October 23 – THE MEASURE OF CHRIST
Ephesians 1:15-16 – Having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, I do not cease giving thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers.
Others should hear about our faith because we have a testimony established among people who see the results of Christ’s life in us. It is the Holy Spirit’s work to produce Christ in us. Remember, it is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Paul understood he had been made a minister to the church. He saw it as a “stewardship from God.” He also understood this stewardship as a benefit to those who belonged to Christ. Paul felt an urgency to fully carry out the preaching of the word of God. He knew he carried the mystery of God in his being, a mystery that had been hidden to past generations. That mystery was now being revealed to Christ’s church. The mystery was the riches of God’s glory among the Gentiles, which is “Christ in you.”
This is the faith Paul says he heard of in Ephesus. Their faith in Christ produced a love for all the saints. The glory of God is rooted in the love of God. Glory is not simply a cloud like Israel experienced on the mountain. It is the all-encompassing “Love of God.” God intends for His love to be manifested through His creation man. It was manifested in Christ and spreading in His church as these Gentile believers began to demonstrate God’s love among themselves and to others.
The love of God causes us to proclaim Christ to every man. Paul’s calling caused him to admonish and teach every man with all wisdom so he could present every man complete in Christ (Colossians 1:28). This was Paul’s purpose in his labor for God. The bottom line for Paul was to be used by the Lord to bring every man to the “measure of Christ.” The measure of Christ is to love as he loved. “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:12-14).
Father, I pray that the measure of Christ be revealed in my life. I thank You that Christ is in me as the hope of glory. I pray for faith and love to increase in my life as demonstration of Your presence. Grant me influence that will lead others to desire relationship with You.
October 22 – FAITH IS
Hebrews 11:1-2 – Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval.
The writer of Hebrews establishes the fact, that “without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6). There are a number of different kinds of faith. We will consider three types in our devotional.
Natural faith is simply a mental assent. I have faith that my car will be in the location where it was parked. I have experienced a time when it was not where I parked it because it was parked illegally. Natural faith operates within the realm of natural reasoning. It is a reasonable expectation of a particular outcome.
Self-motivated faith falls into the category of “metaphysics.” Some call this kind of faith “mind over matter.” That is, if I can just believe hard enough, my circumstance will change. This kind of faith originates in the soul of an individual. It is self-generated and self-imposed on a particular area, which one believes for change to take place.
God-breathed faith is biblical faith. True faith is an operation of the Spirit of God. When the writer of Hebrews says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him” he is not speaking of a manufactured faith. He understands it is God who gives faith. When one looks up into the heavens and acknowledges God as creator one has an open heart where faith can operate. The essence of faith is rooted in the cross of Christ. Paul states, The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20 KJV). It is not only faith in Christ, but His faith lived out through the believer.
The Father is raising up a body of believers who will demonstrate Christ’s faith to an unbelieving world. Many try to generate faith in the things they do for God, but the Father is looking for those who will open their hearts and allow the Holy Spirit to breathe Christ-like faith into their being. In essence, this is what being filled with the Spirit is about. It is the life of God filling the believer with the presence of the Godhead so that the faith of Christ may be manifested in the life of a believer. “Not I, but Christ”! This kind of faith captures the meaning of “sincere faith”.
Father, I thank You for opening my heart to receive Your kind of faith. First, to trust You for salvation through the cross of Christ and then to receive Your Spirit so I might fulfill Your intended purpose. Daily breath Christ-like faith into my being I pray.
THE GUIDANCE OF THE
Romans 8:1 – All those who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
Through the conscience, the Holy Spirit guides believers by giving a sense of direction, a sense of purpose, and a sense of pleasing God. The Scriptures declare our position in Christ through faith, as sons of God. This includes you ladies as well, like men being part of the bride of Christ. The evidence of sonship is manifested in the guidance we receive from the Holy Spirit and confirmed in our conscience as we receive direction, purpose, and knowing we are pleasing God.
It is important to understand that growth takes time. One begins by coming to a sure knowledge of salvation. We have a sense of acceptance by God the Father, not because we have done anything to earn it, but Christ Jesus has done all to purchase salvation. Because of what Christ has done one can have confidence in their conscience of the assurance of salvation. One then grows in Christ, being guided by the Spirit of God. As the Holy Spirit guides, He leads the believer to a sense of the purpose of God.
When we seek the Lord for direction, it is appropriate to say, “Your will be done.” James speaks of those who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit” (James 4:13). James goes on to say, “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. Instead you ought to say, If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that” (James 4:14-15). The Spirit of God will help us in our choices as we request His involvement. Through His guidance we will know our direction.
Direction will lead to purpose. The Lord wants to establish a sense of purpose in us. Purpose is connected to growth in Christ. Early in our Christian walk, we may have a sense of purpose, but over time we should come to know our purpose. In our conscience, we should have both knowledge and a peace about God’s purpose in our life. For some, it may be family commitment, vocational calling, a specific task to be accomplished, and a particular assignment in the local church, or a variety of other things.
However the Spirit of God may lead our life, one thing is for certain; His leading will produce knowledge of pleasing God. The Spirit only leads in a direction that pleases the Father. Practice the instruction which James gives, “If the Lord wills.” Form the habit of committing every day to the Lord. Expect the Holy Spirit to guide you, directing your path. Just as Solomon instructs, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Father, I commit my ways to You. I want Your guidance in my direction and in my purpose to know I am pleasing You.
THE INNER AWARENESS OF CONFORMING TO GOD’S WILL
Psalms 32:5 – I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide.
A good conscience is instrumental in having an inner awareness of conforming to the will of God. A good conscience will also let us know when we have departed from God’s will. The conscience gives both a sense of approval and judgment. The term, “a good conscience” does not appear in the Old Testament, but the concept does.
In Psalm 32, David was smitten in his heart because of his lack of trust in the power of God (2 Samuel 24:10). His guilt turned to joy when he sought the Lord’s forgiveness (Psalm 32). In the New Testament, the term conscience is found most frequently in the writings of Paul. Some people argue erroneously that the conscience takes the place of the external law in the Old Testament. The conscience is not the ultimate standard of moral goodness. “I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not acquitted by this; but the one who examines me is the Lord” (1 Corinthians 4:4). Paul examined his life, including his motivations and could not find any problems. Paul understood the Lord would be the final judge.
Under both the Old and New Covenants, a good conscience is formed by doing the will of God. Under the Old Covenant, Israel received the Law of God and it was inscribed on the hearts of the covenant people. In the New Covenant, God’s will is inscribed on the hearts of believers by the Holy Spirit. He reveals the will of God through the Word and the conscience becomes sensitized to that will. The believer is then able to discern God’s judgment against sin. “When the Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus” (Romans 2:14-16).
The conscience of the believer has been cleansed by the work of Jesus Christ. It no longer accuses or condemns. Part of a believer’s responsibility is to live to maintain a pure conscience. Equally important is not encouraging people to act against their conscience. The reason it would be wrong to encourage actions against one’s conscience is that it would not be an act of faith. “He who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).
Father, I thank You for the inner awareness of conforming to Your will. Help me maintain a pure conscience as I walk in faith, doing Your will.
BY A GOOD CONSCIENCE
AWARENESS OF GOD COMES
Hebrews 9:14 – Cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
A good conscience is necessary for the believer to be able to navigate with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If one’s conscience is dull from not being listened to, it produces an inability to hear the guidance of the Spirit. The writer of Hebrews makes the contrast between the Old Testament sacrifice of the blood of goats and bulls and the New Testament sacrifice of the blood of Jesus. In Hebrews 9:13, he states that the sacrifice of animals was “sanctified for the cleansing of the flesh.” In verse 14, he asked the question, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Your conscience gives you an awareness of God’s will. Thirty five years ago, I walked through a very difficult period in my life. Because of hurt, I made some poor decisions. In my choices, I disobeyed God when I ignored my conscience. I found that it became easier and easier to serve a dead work over obeying God. One day, I came under deep conviction and turned loose of my will and declared “I only want Your best, Lord.” Immediately, I experienced the “blood of Jesus cleansing my conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” My conscience was back in full operation and once again I was able to make difficult, but correct decisions. Thank God for the cleansing blood of Jesus! That experience taught me that the word of God is true regarding a “seared conscience” (1 Timothy 4:2).
The conscience becomes the believer’s guidance system as it is cleansed by the blood of Jesus and surrendered to the Holy Spirit. I believe the conscience was part of the “Divine DNA” given to man when God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life as recorded in Genesis 2:7. When man fell, the divine life departed and man was left with a natural life. The conscience remained and carried a sense of right and wrong. It helped give man a moral guidance, but was very deficient without the Spirit of God. Man was left to his own devices. Through the new birth, the conscience once again is connected to the “Divine DNA” through the Holy Spirit.
In our awareness of God’s presence and His will, the Holy Spirit can release spiritual gifts. A good conscience is vital for us to be sensitive to the Spirit’s guidance through gifts like wisdom, knowledge, and discernment of spirits. Ask the Lord to search your heart and show you any areas in your conscience that need cleansing. Allow the Spirit to apply the blood of Jesus to any areas which He reveals to you. A fully operating conscience will cause you to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s will in guiding your life.
Father, I ask for the searchlight of Your Spirit to examine my conscience and make me aware of any non-functioning parts. Show me any compromise I have made that restricts my conscience from being fully operational. I pray for the ability to hear Your Spirit’s guidance at all times.
October 18 – GOALS
1 Timothy 1:5 – The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
Paul identifies three necessary components in order to fulfill the goal of his instruction. The stated goal is “love.” In order for God’s love to operate through us, we must have “a pure heart” and “a good conscience” and “sincere faith.” God’s love is first pure. The world knows many types of so-called love, but “divine love” is pure beyond our ability to comprehend. The Father sent His only begotten Son to demonstrate “pure love.”
It is impossible to understand pure love by just having someone tell you about it. It is impossible to comprehend pure love by reading about it. Pure love has to be lived! Jesus of Nazareth lived the pure love of the Father. It is one reason He could say to His disciples, “When you have seen Me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). As we develop our relationship with the Lord Jesus, we will experience the development of His love in us. The believer is “joined to the Lord.” “The one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (1 Corinthians 6:17). God’s love in the believer is present because the believer has become “one spirit” with Him.
The second component necessary for pure love to operate through us is found in a “good conscience”. The conscience is a critical part of our mind. It regulates our sense of “right and wrong”. Before we came to Christ, the conscience was a moral guide to our fallen nature. It is a sensitive part of our human-make up which can easily be damaged and quit working. “Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:2 KJV). Through the blood of Christ, our conscience is made clean. “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22).
The third component is sincere faith. When I think of sincere faith, the word “humility” comes to mind. A sincere faith is a faith that operates through the spirit of humility. Love is an operation of faith. Pure love is an action of our love toward others before they demonstrate any kind of love toward us. This requires faith. Jesus is our example of “sincere faith.” He always operated in the spirit of humility. His actions always had others in mind. True faith causes us to keep our eyes on Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith.
As we read the Scriptures and the instruction of the apostles, let us make “love our goal”. Remember, God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son. The Son demonstrated the Father’s love. Now, we have been joined to God by the Holy Spirit and His Love is within our being. Let us love others as He loves us!
Father, I ask for the power of Your love in me to dominate my heart, my conscience, and my faith in all my relationships with others, believers and unbelievers alike.
October 17 – WHAT GUIDES US?
Ephesians 4:15 – We are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.
This clear purpose of our heavenly Father is outlined throughout the New Testament. Many believe or at least live like God’s purpose is to bless them, making them a success, and answering all their prayer requests. That viewpoint was the mistake God’s people made when Jesus walked the earth, teaching and preaching the kingdom of God.
In the Book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul clearly outlines the will and purpose of God in the life of every believer. Paul pens what should be guiding the believer. “We are to grow up in all aspects of Christ.” Everything the Father is doing is about His only begotten Son. He has included us, intending that we will grow up into Christ. The Father is looking for those who will freely surrender everything to Christ and give control of their life to His Spirit.
Some important questions to be asked are:
1) Am I allowing the Holy Spirit access to every area of my being?
2) Can I see areas in my life that have Christ at the center?
3) Am I aware of specific areas in my life where the Lord is dealing with me?
It is important for each believer to examine himself and determine if “Christ is the head” in their life. It is impossible to grow up into Christ if we are not allowing Him to be head in all things. Through our free will, we say yes to the Lord, first in every clear command given to us in His Word. And secondly, as we learn to recognize His voice as He guides us through life’s decisions.
In order for the Lord to guide us, we must first allow the Holy Spirit access to our thinking processes. Regularly ask the Father to give you the mind of Christ. Identify areas of the past which you have surrendered to Him and evaluate how well you are letting Him be in control. Ascertain specific areas which the Lord has spoken to you about where He wants control.
As believers, we must be active in the growth process. The Psalms teach us how to actively interact with the Lord in both the good and difficult times. David actually commanded his soul to bless God and not forget His benefits. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; who pardons all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases; who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with loving-kindness and compassion; who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle” (Psalm 103:1-5).
Father, I desire Your guidance in every area of my life. I choose to give the Holy Spirit access to my whole being. Thank You for those areas of my life where the Holy Spirit presently has control. Show me specific areas You currently want to help me surrender to the Holy Spirit.
October 16 – THE WORD OF GOD IS SETTLED
Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.
There is one human who never changes, Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior. The Word of God manifested in the Word made flesh. That Word dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. That Word is now seated at the right hand of the majesty on high. From the very beginning, God purposed the Word to be made flesh. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1-2). “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14-15).
In all the Scriptures, there is nothing more profound than “the Word was made flesh.” Because God’s Word is forever settled, Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. In Jesus’ earthly ministry, He expected God’s covenant people, the Jews, to receive His word because it is the word of the Father. Jesus came in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy. The Jews had been given the responsibility of the oracles of God. “They were entrusted with the oracles of God. What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?” (Romans 3:2-4).
The Jews were the carriers of God’s Word for all of mankind. Some did not believe. This was especially true during the ministry of Jesus. Their unbelief did not hinder God’s faithfulness. The whole Jewish nation might have rejected Jesus, but God would still be faithful to His Word. All that we read in the Scriptures concerning Jesus is true today as well. He still ministers in truth and grace through the power of the Holy Spirit. The promises which Jesus fulfilled in His earthly ministry are available to us because “He is the same”. God’s people are to be a people of “hope” because the Lord has given us a sure expectation of our future.
God’s Word never changes. God’s Son is always the same. All truth is eternal. God the Father and God the Son are full of truth and grace ministered in the power of the Holy Spirit. God has done all that He said He would do. Jesus utterly fulfilled the Father’s will. As sons and daughters of God, we are called not only to believe, but to live out the word of God in our daily lives. We too, are called to be faithful carriers of God’s promises. We are called to demonstrate the settled word of God by the conduct of our lives. Not all will believe, but some will glorify God for what they experience in us. All will give an account to God for what is demonstrated as we walk in righteousness and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Father, I thank You for Your settled word. I firmly put my faith in Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Help me demonstrate Your truth and grace through how I choose to live my life in the power of the Holy Spirit.
October 15 – SEE THAT YOU OBEY HIM THAT SPEAKS
Hebrews 12:25 – See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.
An individual may consider himself a Christian for numerous reasons. One can have a thorough knowledge of the Scripture and be true in their beliefs of what the Scripture teaches. The directive of the writer of Hebrews in verse 25 is the real issue. “See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking.”
“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world” (Hebrews) 1:1-3). The study of the “Gospels” is vital to our growth and development. Jesus represented His Father in heaven perfectly. He never spoke from His own initiative, only what He heard His Father saying. It is important for every believer to evaluate their viewpoints and their actions against what Jesus taught and did.
The Holy Spirit has been given to every believer as “the Helper” of their “new life” in Christ. He is not given to help us develop our own ideas and lifestyle. He is given to lead us to the death of self and into the resurrected life of Christ. Our life in Christ is completely in the “Spirit,” lived out through our everyday natural life.
Simply stated, do we hear through our natural ears or through a spiritual ear? One can listen to a sermon and process with their natural mind, accepting or rejecting what was taught. On the other hand, the spiritual person will listen through the ear of their spirit in order to have the mind of Christ. “He who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:15-16).
Our thought for today is: “See to it that you do not refuse He who is speaking.” Jesus spoke in His earthly ministry and gave us “the word of the Father.” He has given each believer the Holy Spirit who is commissioned to reveal God’s Word to us. We must choose to hear through the spirit rather than through our natural reasoning.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe” (Ephesians 1:18-19). Paul’s concern for believers was that they would “know”. We can only truly know if we chose not to “refuse” the one speaking from heaven.
Father, I choose today, to hear Your Son who came from heaven and spoke. He then returned to heaven and continues to speak through Your life-giving Spirit. Give me ears to hear what the Spirit is saying today so I can obey.
October 14 – PRIVILEGES WE ENJOY
Hebrews 12:22-24 – You have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.
In these passages, we can identify seven privileges believers enjoy through our relationship with the Father and the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit.
- We have come unto Mount Zion, (God’s Hill) His permanent resting place in heaven where God reigns as KING of Kings and LORD of Lords.
- We have come into God’s city for which Abraham searched. In fact, Galatians 4:26 indicates that Jerusalem above is the place of our new birth. All who have been “born again” can say, “I was born in Mount Zion,” Jerusalem, the city of my God.”
- We have come unto an innumerable company of angels. The Scriptures indicate that we are surrounded by angels looking into what God has done. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2). “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven — things into which angels long to look” (1 Peter 1:12).
- We have come to the General Assembly and Church of the First Born which are written in heaven. Presently, the name of every believer is written together with all the names of those who are members of His church. It is important to be reminded we are not alone. Those who have gone before us are present before the Throne of God and the saints on earth are present through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
- We have come to God the judge of all. The blessing for the true believer is that judgment has already taken place as Jesus became God’s sacrifice for our sins. God’s judgments come through the Lord Jesus Christ. As a believer we receive what Christ has done for us. The unbeliever will have to answer for their sins before God because they did not trust Christ who took their judgment upon Himself.
- We have come to the spirits of just men made perfect. In the spiritual realm, we have been joined with all those who have died and fully entered into His rest. I believe they are cheering for us to finish our course. In the natural, this is hard to understand, but by faith we receive the insights that God’s Word reveals.
- We have come to Jesus, the mediator of the “new covenant.” We have legal rights in heaven to receive salvation. Everything Jesus did on our behalf would hold up in a court of law. By the “Law of Sacrifice,” that is, “the innocent dying for the guilty,” Jesus destroyed what Satan held over us and the judgment which the Law of God brought, declaring all guilty before God.
Father, I thank You for Your Throne of Grace. I rejoice in the place of Your rest. I pray for the continual help of the Holy Spirit in my daily life to abide in the place of rest where all the spirits of just men reside for eternity. I receive by faith all the privileges of a child of God.
October 13 – POSSESSIONS OR JESUS
Luke 18:22 – Sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.
When Jesus walked this earth, he admonished folks to lay down their possessions and follow Him. The rich young ruler asked how he could receive salvation. When Jesus told him to go and sell everything and give it to the poor and follow Him, the young man decided that the price was far too high for him to pay. He did not realize the price Jesus would pay for his sin.
I am bought with a price, Jesus’ blood. I am covered thoroughly with the robe of righteousness which the Father has placed upon me. Jesus lives in me through His Spirit. What joy to know my heavenly Father loves me, and gives me a relationship with Him through Christ Jesus. When the Father looks at me, He sees not what I used to be, but He sees the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing I possess compares to the price which was paid for my salvation.
It is important for the child of God to walk the tightrope between possessions and our treasures in heaven. Possessions, in and of themselves, are not evil or wrong. In the case of the rich young ruler, Jesus was challenging his heart. He was attached more firmly to his possessions than what was healthy. It cost him eternity. The Lord might have chosen to return all or more than what he would have given to the poor. He needed to be free from the bondage to his possessions.
Jesus told the church at Laodicea, “Because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:16). The issue with the members of the church in Laodicea was not eternal life; it was their commitment to the Lord’s purpose and His ability to use them. They felt content in their prosperity and became “lukewarm” in their commitment to Christ and His kingdom purpose.
We must examine our hearts to see if we too are “lukewarm” because of materialism. As a Christian, there must be a tension between wealth and our commitment to a Christ-like lifestyle. While on earth, Jesus had all He ever needed, but was not wealthy by the world’s standards. Paul, the apostle said he suffered the loss of all things for Christ (Philippians 3:8). Yet he always paid his own way. He paid for the care of his team members; he used the school of Tyrannus in Ephesus, no doubt renting its use for two years, and he paid for his own rented house in Rome (Acts 28:30). The issue for the rich young ruler and the church at Laodicea was a “heart issue.” It is an issue for many in the Lord’s church today.
Father, help me search my heart to know if I am in bondage to possessions. Give me grace to be free from any bondage which prevents me from totally being committed to You and Your kingdom. Grace me to follow Jesus by giving away everything to which my heart is attached, knowing You will give me all I need to fulfill Your purposes and plan in my life.
October 12 – OUR PERSONAL GROWTH
2 Corinthians 3:18 – We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
While we are to accept each other as we are, we do not remain as we are. The Spirit of God is at work bringing change as Scripture reveals. The change into Christ’s image is an expression of God’s love to the world. You are sent to others as a love letter from God. The Father accepts us just as we are, but He is also at work to change us to be like Him. The change happens in the context of family and as we interact with those who are yet unreached for God’s kingdom.
Acceptance does not promote sin. Acceptance empowers people to risk facing and confessing their sin and moves us toward wholeness. It is important to realize that each person has the right to become who God intended them to be. At the same time, we must guard against selfishness, always putting the interest of family before the interests of individuals. Acceptance and opportunity to grow is what each of us needs most in life.
Our understanding of God’s will for the body of Christ is not centered around buildings or religious activities, but family relationships and environment—a relationship with God as Father, Jesus as our elder brother, and the Holy Spirit as the one who nurtures us by revealing the Father and Son in greater depths. Our commitment in Christ is to other believers to whom we have been joined. They are to be seen as our brothers and sisters in His family. As members of His family, we extend His love and power to the world. Our life in a church family is expressed in multi-dimensional relationships.
The writer of Hebrews gives clear instruction concerning our relationships within the body of Christ. “Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all men, and sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up . . .” (Hebrews 12:12-15). What wonderful counsel for each member of the family of God.
Father, I ask for the Holy Spirit to work in my life that I never come short of the grace of God in any of my relationships. Give to me a love for family as You love family, both natural and spiritual. Help me to nurture each relationship that You have given me and use them to bring change in my life for Your glory.
October 11 – LOVE, FORGIVNESS, AND ACCEPTANCE
Romans 15:7 – Accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.
While we accept each other as we are, we do not remain as we are. As each one comes to Christ, forgiveness and acceptance are given by the Father. We then become part of one another on the very common ground of His power of love to forgive and accept each one as we are. For each believer, this is the starting point in Christ Jesus.
From this starting point, we grow together in an atmosphere of love, hope, and encouragement, no matter what difficulty or devastation we face. Of course, people enter the kingdom of God and are baptized into the body having come from many backgrounds. Our life together in the body begins a process of healing and growth which can take a very long time. An atmosphere of love, forgiveness, and acceptance is necessary to help in assisting people to receive, what in many cases has never before been communicated or experienced.
In the body of Christ, we esteem the covenant of marriage, we honor singleness, and we support the single parent. Marriage is under attack as perhaps it has never been before. The marriage covenant is the sure foundation we must build upon. If the marriage foundation is destroyed, the whole culture will collapse. We must first learn how to love, forgive, and accept in our homes before we will be successful in our relationships within the church.
We must reach out to singles, who many times feel displaced from family. The single person can more fully give themselves to the cause of Christ because of less time constraints. Many singles would love to be used within the family of God, both in church activities and within families belonging to a congregation.
It is important for the church body to give support to those who have found themselves single again through divorce or death. Many times, we form groups of people with similar life experiences, but their deeper need is family. They need to know the love of fathers and mothers within the body of Christ.
We must treasure and affirm children, including them in our worship, in our ministry moments, and social events. They are our future! The Lord has always been focused on the generations. Our children will carry the torch in the future. Now is the time of their training.
In the body of Christ we will always find diversity of personality and lifestyles, each adding something valuable to the whole. I suggest including each group I have mentioned in your prayers.
Father, I pray for the families of my congregation, fathers and mothers and their children, that Your kingdom rest on their lives. I pray for the singles as they seek to know how they fit into the family of God. I pray for those who have found themselves single again. I pray for healing in their lives and for the development of healthy relationships.
October 10 – BE CAREFUL HOW YOU JUDGE
John 7:24 – Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.
One Sunday morning, an old cowboy entered a church just before services were to begin. Although the old man and his clothes were spotlessly clean, he wore jeans, a denim shirt, and boots that were very worn and ragged. In his hand, he carried a worn out old hat and an equally worn out old Bible.
The church he entered was a very upscale and in an exclusive part of the city. It was the largest and most beautiful church building the old cowboy had ever seen. It had high cathedral ceilings, ornate statues, beautiful murals, stained glass windows, plush carpet, and velvet-like cushioned pews. The building must have cost many millions of dollars to build and maintain.
The congregation was all dressed in the finest and most expensive suits, dresses, shoes, and jewelry the old cowboy had ever seen. As the poorly dressed cowboy took a seat, the others moved away from him. No one greeted him. No one welcomed him. No one offered a handshake. No one spoke to him. They were all appalled at his appearance and did not attempt to hide the fact. There were many glances in his direction as the others frowned and commented among themselves about his shabby attire. A few chuckles and giggles came from some of the younger members.
The preacher gave a long sermon and a stern lecture on how much money the church needed to do God’s work. When the offering plate was passed thousands of dollars came pouring forth. As soon as the service was over the congregation hurried out. Once again no one spoke or even nodded to the stranger in the ragged clothes and boots. As the old cowboy was leaving the church the preacher approached him. Instead of welcoming him, the preacher asked the cowboy to do him a favor. “Before you come back in here again, have a talk with God and ask him what He thinks would be appropriate attire for worshiping in this church.” The old cowboy assured the preacher he would do that and left.
The very next Sunday morning the old cowboy showed back up for the service wearing the same ragged jeans, shirt, boots, and hat. Once again, the congregation was appalled at his appearance. Again, he was completely shunned and ignored. The preacher noticed the man still wearing his ragged clothes and boots, and instead of beginning his sermon, stepped down from the pulpit and walked over to where the man sat alone.
“I thought I asked you to speak to God before you came back to our church.” “I did,” replied the old cowboy. “If you spoke to God, what did he tell you the proper attire should be for worshiping in here?” asked the preacher. “Well sir, God told me that He wouldn’t have the slightest idea what was appropriate attire for worshiping in your church.” He said He’s never been in here. That church family sounds rather “dysfunctional.” They are obviously more concerned about what is seen on the outside rather than what is unseen on the inside.
“We are not again commending ourselves to you but are giving you an occasion to be proud of us, so that you will have an answer for those who take pride in appearance and not in heart” (2 Corinthians 5:12). Those who judge after appearance are judging from “pride” and not the Spirit of the Lord. The story above illustrates how both individuals and church bodies can be filled with pride and arrogance, rather than the love of God.
Father, give me eyes to see as You do. Create in me righteous judgment as the Lord Jesus instructs all His disciples to have.
October 9 – THE PEACE OF DISCIPLINE
Hebrews 12:11 – All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
In our devotion yesterday, we concluded with the biblical statement of Hebrews 12:11. What the writer of Hebrews is stating is so important that it requires we look deeper into the truth it contains.
The Almighty God, who spun off worlds with His Word, is our heavenly Father if we have trusted His Only begotten Son for our salvation. His Holy Spirit resides in us and bears witness to this fact. “You have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him” (Romans 8:15-17).
The child of God is not a slave, but an adopted son. The child of God can cry out Daddy and Father. My oldest son Paul is adopted. He has known this fact from his earliest childhood. Immediately, his mother and I thanked God for him and declared his adoption to legally settle his sonship in our family. I declared he had a father and a mother who loved him and would never abandon him. Paul received the same blessings, but also the same discipline as our natural children. I can truly say we did not treat any of our children differently.
Paul the apostle said, “Indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him” (Romans 8:17). The suffering is our identity with His cross. Because of the cross, God raised Christ up and glorified Him. Our access to the family of God is through the cross of Christ. We have been raised up in newness of life and as joint heirs of God’s grace.
The Father’s training comes through discipline. Discipline is not the wrath of the Father, but His love to produce the fruit of peace and righteousness. God’s wrath concerning sin was settled at the cross of Christ. Father God is not angry at mankind and especially those who have been adopted into His family through the redemptive work of Christ. He trains His children through various types of disciplines. We should pay special attention to how Jesus trained His disciples in order to know how God wants us to be trained.
Jesus modeled the Father’s love. He first showed the Father’s nature “full of grace and truth.” He taught through words with love and authority. He reached out to the weak and needy. He demonstrated the Father’s love through direct action. He told His disciples to go do as he was doing, and gave them the authority to accomplish the assignment. He corrected their misunderstandings, bickering, and wrong heart motivations. He promised them another Helper just like Him so they would not have to go it alone.
Father, I want to be corrected and rebuked by You when necessary. I know it won’t be pleasant, but I also know it will mature me and produce the peace of righteousness in my life.
October 8 – DISCERNING THE BODY OF CHRIST
1 Corinthians 11:31-32 – If we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.
This is a very powerful and important portion of Scripture. Paul helps the church at Corinth to examine their approach to the “Lord’s table.” Every congregation should read and study carefully what Paul writes. Verse 30 answers the question why many are sick in the body of Christ and why some have died prematurely. Paul says it comes from three things:
- Eating and drinking the bread and the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner
- Failure to examine oneself, causing judgment on oneself
- Not judging the body rightly
Close examination of these passages and, in fact, the entire book of Corinthians reveals how they address relationships within the body of Christ. When there is broken relationship among believers, it opens the door for the kingdom of darkness, reproach from an unbelieving world, and hinders the Lord’s purposes.
Jesus said, “If you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering (Matthew 5:23-24). The Lord puts a very high premium on relationship within His body. We must examine ourselves regularly to make sure our hearts are right toward our fellow believers. Paul informs us that not “judging the body rightly” causes sickness and even premature death. Our scripture today says that “if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.” The Father wants His children to learn how to examine their own hearts. The Holy Spirit enables us to do this if we will ask for His help.
“When we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:32). We know that we are sons and daughters because the Lord disciplines His children (see Hebrews 12:5).
A true father disciplines his children. Today, many children have not known the loving discipline of a father. Many are self-centered because of not experiencing a father’s love through discipline. Some have known only anger from their father. The loving discipline of a father helps to produce respect for authority and a respect for others. Father God disciplines His children for their good. The writer of Hebrews says, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11).
Father, cause me to be discerning about how I treat my spouse, my children, other believers, and those outside Your kingdom. Make me aware when I have offended another and grant me humility to ask forgiveness of the offended one. When You must discipline me, cause me to be open and willing to receive Your discipline, for I know it will produce in me the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
October 7 – THE FAMILY OF GOD
Ephesians 2:19 – You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household.
Within the body of Christ, our basic relationships can be expressed in terms of family. We are part of God’s extended family. God is our Father and we are brothers and sisters through Christ. There was a time in each of our lives that we were strangers and aliens to God’s household. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we were born again. He made us “fellow citizens with the saints.” The Spirit is the one who is charged with the work of connecting us in Christ’s body. If you have been born again, you are in the household of God.
As families join to families, a kinship is developed. People from many walks of life are joined together in covenant love. Covenant love is God’s kind of love and happens within committed relationships; Love which is rooted in relationship, established under pressure, and developed through servanthood.
This is God’s plan for maturing His sons and daughters. It all begins as “little children” (Matthew 18:3). Life in Christ grows inward to bring forth a “godly seed.” At the same time, new lives are added from without. While we grow in numbers and organizational complexity, we must also grow in our call to be family. If either of these is ever lost, we have missed God’s purpose.
Jesus said, “Come unto Me all you that labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.” As each one comes to Jesus, we receive forgiveness and acceptance from the Father. We in turn are to give the same to others.
The chorus of an old gospel song (Words and Music by William J. Gaither Copyright 1970) goes like this:
I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God.
I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood.
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God.
The family begins in God the Father. God the Son has made it possible for you and me to be joined into this eternal family. The Holy Spirit uses the seed of God’s word to join us to the Father and the Son, but also to each other in this incredible eternal plan.
Father, I thank You for joining me to the family of God. I celebrate You as my heavenly Father. I thank You for Jesus, my Redeemer King and my Elder Brother. I thank You for giving to each believer the Holy Spirit, who applies the blood of Jesus to cleanse me, who then nurtures me and reveals that my identity now comes from You.
October 6 – THE ROLE OF THE SPIRIT
John 14:16 – I will ask the Father, and He will give another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth.
The Father sent Jesus to redeem mankind from the curse of the Law (Galatians 3:13). When Jesus fulfilled the Father’s plan, He then asked the Father for the Holy Spirit to be given to all those who believed on Him. Jesus refers to the Spirit as the “Helper.” Jesus and the Father have not left us alone to fend for ourselves. It is marvelous how the Holy Spirit has been given to indwell each believer. It is incredible to know that the Father and the Son are in us by the presence of the Holy Spirit who was given to be with us forever.
The Holy Spirit is our life source in Christ. The Holy Spirit is the one who continues to reveal the Father to us. It is worth our time to read through the gospels, paying special attention to what the Scriptures teach us about the Father. The more I have learned about the Father, the more I have grown in security, confidence, and faith. The Holy Spirit wants to help us be able to say from our heart, Abba Father or “Daddy, dear Daddy.”
When we learn about the “fruit of the Spirit,” we are learning about the very nature of God. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control all proceed from the Father. Each of these aspects of God is seen in the Lord Jesus. They can now be seen in our life as a manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s work. We know the Father is living through us by the evidence of the fruit. When Scriptures speak about maturing in Christ, they are referring to the development of the fruit of the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit’s role is to draw us to Christ, and then reveal to us the nature of Christ which always points to the Father. Paul says it beautifully. “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:3-4).
We will be in the presence of the Father and the Son in glory. The Holy Spirit will still be in us. We won’t see the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, just the Father and the Son. “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Revelation 21:22). Yes, the Holy Spirit is leading us to that day in eternity when we will be consumed by the glory of God. We don’t have to wait for that day. Even now, we can move from glory to glory as we allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the Almighty and the Lamb in an ever-increasing way.
Father, I pray for the Holy Spirit to take me deeper into Your love. As the old hymn declares, “Deeper, deeper in the love of Jesus, deeper let me go – Higher, higher in the school of wisdom, more of Christ to know – Deeper yet I pray, higher every day, wiser, blessed Lord in Your precious holy Word.”
October 5 – WHAT IS THE FATHER LIKE?
John 14:9 – He who has seen Me has seen the Father
The four Gospels give us wonderful understandings about the Father. Today, we will devote our selves to the Gospel of John and examine what he reveals about the Father through the Son who is the expressed image of the Father.
Jesus is the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Jesus is full of grace and truth because the Father is full of the same. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand (John 3:35). The Father loves His sons and daughters in the same way He loves Jesus. The Father seeks those to be His worshipers (John 4:23). The Father knows that it is through worship we enter into His presence, His liberty, and His peace.
“My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working” (John 5:17). The Father has always been a worker. He worked the six days of creation and then He rested from His work. He created Adam as a worker in the Garden. Jesus relates the Father’s work with His work. He calls each believer to enter into the work of the Father and the Son through the power of the Holy Spirit.
“For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel” (John 5:20). It is marvelous how the Father loves the Son and gave Him all things. Here, Jesus tells us that the Father shows Him all things. He also tells us that the Father will show greater things to the Son. The greater things are:
- The ability to give life to whomever He wills.
- The ability for the Son to have life in Himself.
- The Father gave all judgment into the hands of the Son.
We can see by these few verses that the Father delights in His Son and loves to give Him things. Our heavenly Father loves us as well. As we live in the center of His love, He will choose to give us those things from His riches in glory. “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (Philippians 4:19-20).
Many have been disappointed with earthly fathers because of their sin and neglect. Our heavenly Father wants to heal any brokenness we might carry from past relationship with a father. Father God will help us enter into His abundant love through His only begotten Son. The Holy Spirit has come to reveal the love of the Father through the kindness given to Christ and now available to all who will believe.
Father, I thank You for Your goodness that was revealed through Your Son, Jesus. Thank You for sending the Holy Spirit to give me the experience of Your love. Your love that forgives me, Your love that grants me eternal life, and Your love that gives me the security of Your grace. You are a good Father!
October 4 – ONENESS WITH THE FATHER
John 14:12 – Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.
As Jesus partakes of His last meal with His disciples, He shares some of His most intimate thoughts. He knows the events which are about to take place would shake their world to the very core. The chapter begins with Jesus saying, “Let not your heart be troubled.” He points them to His Father as the source of belief. He assures them that He is going to prepare a place for them in the Father’s house. He also assures them that as He goes, He will also return for them so where He is, they might be also.
Jesus assures them that He is the way to the Father. No man can come to the Father except through the Son. He says, by knowing Him one should know the Father. Everything we see in Jesus is what the Father is like. He is full of compassion. He loves the unlovely. He is a provider. He is a protector. He heals and delivers from evil. He forgives the vilest of sinners and transforms their lives.
Jesus reinforces the fact that the words He speaks are not His, but they originate from the Father. He also makes it clear that the works He performs are not His works, but the Father’s works through Him (John 14:10). He gives them two options for belief. “Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: or else believe Me for the very work’s sake” (John 14:11).
Some have trouble believing the words of Christians because they do not see or experience the reality of those words in the life of the confessing Christian. Jesus modeled how we are to live out the believing life. He modeled this for us by allowing the Father to fill Him with the Father’s life both in word and deed. He gave us the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of the Father and the Spirit of the Son. This is the greater works Jesus promised we would do. We are not just to model the Father and the Son, but we are to pray for others to receive the Holy Spirit, even as we have received Him.
God did not intend that we should try to be like Jesus in our own effort. He fills us with His Holy Spirit so His life can be lived through us. This is why Paul could say, “We offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example” (2 Thessalonians 3:9). Paul was a model to the saints, as we too should be a model for others. Not in our own effort, but by the power of God.
Daily, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It is only the Holy Spirit who can produce the life of the Son and the subsequent life of the Father in us. In the natural, one’s identity comes through their father. The scriptures reveal that Jesus came for a number of reasons, one of which was to reveal His Father to Israel. Their identity was wrapped up in Abraham as their father. Jesus came to reveal the one in whom Abraham trusted. Through the Spirit of God, Abraham saw Jesus’ day by faith. Jesus wanted Israel to find their identity in the heavenly Father. He wants the same for each of us. Allow the Holy Spirit to reveal more of the Father to you. Let your full identity be in Him.
Father, I believe in You and I believe in Jesus whom You sent. I choose to receive my identity from You. I pray for Your life to be revealed in me, the fruit of the Holy Spirit. I ask the Holy Spirit to make me a model for others, as You did with Paul.
October 3 – MULTIPLICATION BY CREATING A TIPPING POINT
Matthew 8:29 – They cried out, saying, “What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”
A tipping point has been defined as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, and the boiling point.” It is clearly revealed in the New Testament that the enemy knew more of God’s plans than God’s people. The Lord has always given His word so His people could know what He expects, what He is going to do, and how they are to respond. God’s prophets held a special place in revealing God’s works. “Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). The prophets had prepared God’s people for the coming of their expected King. The people knew He was coming, but they did not receive Him. “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11).
Matthew 8 gives us the story of the believing centurion. Jesus said of him, “I have not found such great faith with anyone in all of Israel” (Matthew 8:10). Jesus found unbelief with the covenant people. He experienced demons giving testimony of who He was, but He would not receive their words. Instead, He drove them out of individuals and set the captives free.
Matthew 8:28 begins the report of Jesus’ ministry in the country of the Gadarenes. There He found two men who were bound by demons. The demons who spoke to Jesus were afraid that Jesus He had come to torment them. They entreated Jesus, “If You are going to cast us out, send us into the herd of swine” (Matthew 8:31). Jesus said to them, “Go!” Jesus did not cast them into the swine because He did not like swine, but rather for the sake of the man. There was a lot of demonic power there that could have hurt or killed the man. Jesus had mercy on the man.
The enemy thinks out of selfishness and cannot think in terms of eternal love. It was the love of God that created a tipping point in Jesus’ generation. People reacted to the tipping point Christ brought because of their hardened hearts. The tipping point was rooted in love, power, and authority. Jesus brought a critical mass. He brought things to a boiling point. This love has never been duplicated in one man. It can be manifested through multitudes of believers indwelt by the Holt Spirit. Power that has not been duplicated is available to those filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus had authority which had not been demonstrated by anyone in human history. His authority came from the throne of God. Each believer can operate in God’s authority by the Spirit of God who lives in every son and daughter of God.
Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and in earth. He delegates that authority to faithful believers through His resurrected life. The greater effectiveness of Jesus’ authority is demonstrated through a united church in localities and in regions. No believer carries all authority. The body of Christ is God’s delegated authority in the earth. Each believer can bring a tipping point into their sphere as they are led by the Holy Spirit. A greater tipping point can be created by a united body in each community, as the church is led by the Spirit of God.
Father, I pray to be made a tipping point in my sphere of responsibility. I pray for a united church in my locality which makes it possible for advancement of the kingdom of God. Advanced against everything that resists Your plan and purpose. I ask You for increased love, power, and authority to be manifested in my life.
October 2 – THE GOSPEL IS MOVING LIKE THE SUN
Psalm 113:3-4 – From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the Lord is to be praised. The Lord is high above all nations; His glory is above the heavens.
Jesus told His disciples that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them. He also told them they were to begin the mission in Jerusalem and from there go to Samaria, Judea, and to the remotest parts of the earth (Acts 1:8). Jerusalem was filled with the Good News as multitudes received the Gospel of the kingdom of God. It spread to Samaria, then throughout all Judea and began the journey westward reaching to Spain during the lifetime of the apostles. Eventually all of Europe received the gospel of the kingdom. The Pilgrims and others took the Good News across the Atlantic Ocean. Part of God’s purpose for America was to be used to spread the Good News everywhere.
Europe and America have left their first love and become materialistic and filled with the pleasures of the world. The Gospel has continued to move like the sun and today is hovering over Asia where the greatest kingdom expansion is taking place. I fully expect the Gospel to eventually spread to the Arab nations and be the instrument of God in defeating the false religion of Islam, as multitudes hear the gospel and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ through the power of God. As the nations of the Middle East turn to Jesus as Lord, Israel will be moved to jealousy just like Paul said in Romans 11:13-14. I am convinced that the gospel is heading back to Jerusalem.
The Bible speaks of two separate outpourings of the Spirit, called the former and latter rain. “He has poured down for you the rain, the early and latter rain as before. The threshing floors will be full of grain, and the vats will overflow with the new wine and oil” (Joel 2:23-24). The last two thousand years has been the first or former outpouring of the Holy Spirit. There is coming another outpouring of the Holy Spirit called the latter rain which will see the reaping of the nations. The pouring out of the Holy Spirit is associated with the harvest of the nations. In the natural, the former or first rain prepares the soil for the seed. If there is little rain, afterwards a harvest will be reaped, but it won’t be the full potential. When the latter rain comes in the time of harvest, it produces a “bumper crop.” A principle of Scripture is the latter will be greater than the former.
The coming of the Lord is “the blessed hope” (Titus 2:13). Before He comes, there is work to be done. The Lord is going to have a large harvest. Even now, our Lord is aligning the nations for His own purposes. God is calling His body to prepare themselves for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Once again, we are reminded that the harvest is white and ready to be reaped. It will take God’s power to accomplish God’s purpose among the nations.
Pray for the lost. Pray for the nations. Pray for workers. Pray to know your part in the time of harvest.
October 1 – A BELIEVING PROBLEM
John 5:46-47 – “If you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?
Israel had a believing problem. Their problem of believing was ingrained in their core being as a people. Throughout their history, unbelief was at the forefront of the nation’s problems. Unbelief of their leaders kept them out of the Promised Land for a generation. They spent forty years wandering in the desert. Part of Jehovah’s purpose was that they might learn to believe and trust Him as their King.
Throughout Israel’s history, they rejected the words of the prophets. They not only rejected their words, they killed many of the prophets. Jesus charged His generation, “Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and it was your fathers who killed them. So you are witnesses and approve the deeds of your fathers; because it was they who killed them, and you build their tombs. For this reason also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute, so that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation’” (Luke 11:47-50).
It is very important to understand all that took place in the generation in which Jesus was born. Truly, it was “the fullness of time” (Galatians 4:4). The Lord brought everything to a head in one generation. Even though the covenant people had done despicable things throughout their history, God had been merciful to them. Now, in a final attempt, He reaches out by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh in order to redeem those under the law. He first sent John the Baptist to witness of His coming Lamb who would take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Jesus came in the power of the Spirit. He healed, He delivered from demonic powers, He fed them, and He taught them, but still they did not believe. Their leaders were determined to kill Jesus, the Christ.
In one final attempt to draw Israel into a relationship, God’s wrath was poured out on His own Son for their unjust deeds. This time He included all the nations through His redemptive work. The Father gave Israel a generation of time to believe Him. Only a remnant believed, which left Him no other choice than to fulfill His word through His Son, “This generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Matthew 24:34).
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Father and the Son continue to reach out to this present generation with the redemption invitation and promises. Will we believe what He has declared and all the prophets gave testimony concerning? What the apostles witnessed and testified? What history itself witnesses? Jesus is Lord! His Word is absolute! He loves us and wants to fill us with His precious Holy Spirit so He can have daily fellowship with His redeemed people, Jews and Gentiles, who believe on Him. He is the one who rose from the dead and is coming again in power and glory.
Father, I thank You for all Your promises that are Yes and Amen to Your glory of God. I believe, Lord, help my unbelief. Give me grace to trust You in all things.
September 30 – GREATER THAN JOHN THE BAPTIST
Luke 7:28 – I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
John pointed to the greater, Jesus. John recognized his call and purpose in God. John said, “He who is coming after me is mightier than I” (Matthew 3:11). Jesus was the mightier one. John went on to recognize that Jesus would baptize believers with the Holy Spirit and fire. John only baptized to prepare the way, but Jesus was the way. He who is the way has equipped each believer to manifest His life in the world. Believers, filled with the Holy Spirit are the greatest witness to the fact that light has entered the world.
We can be critical of the church and perhaps there is much to be critical about, but reality is, without the Lord’s church in the earth, this world would be steeped in unimaginable darkness. That is not an excuse to be at ease, but a call to rise up and be “greater than John the Baptist.” The greater than John, Jesus, is living in us through the Holy Spirit. Throughout history, the church has been the greatest witness to the fact that light is in the world. Individually and corporately we are to testify to Christ’s resurrection life and power. “Even when we were dead in our transgressions, He made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised up in Him” (Ephesians 2:5).
Many of God’s people are slumbering. Many churches are focused inwardly rather than outwardly. The church can be more like a theater than the model Jesus gave, which was a Vine (John 15). It is time to awake from slumber. It is time to throw off the theater mentality. It is time to become “greater.” As the people of God, let us come back to God’s original intent, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).
Week after week, God’s people listen to the message of truth, but are they filled with the Holy Spirit in order to do the message? The greater is not in the listening, but in the doing. The Spirit of God is calling to the church of today, be the light of the world. He is calling to God’s Shepherds, preach the word and be instant in season and out. He is manifesting His power and making us know that we do not have to go it alone. He is with us to equip and reveal the greater than John. He is with us as we witness Jesus, the Christ, alive from the dead who delivers from darkness and fills all who will believe with His Holy Spirit, dispelling darkness and manifesting light.
Father, awake me from slumber. As I listen, fill me with Your Holy Spirit of promise. Cause me to be greater than John as Jesus declared. Thank You for making me part of the vine. I ask You to allow me to bear much fruit and that the fruit will remain and multiply.
September 29 – FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT
John 1:6 – There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light that all through him might believe.
Two thousand years ago “Light” came into the world. Not ordinary light, but light that lights every man. This verse strongly implies that before “The Light” there was only darkness. Men were filled with darkness. The prince of darkness ruled throughout mankind.
John was God’s prophetic instrument who pointed to the Light. The Light was a man, Jesus. John testified of Jesus as “the Light”. Later, Jesus testified of Himself as being the light of the world. “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life’” (John 8:12). Only through Christ is it possible to have light. It is only in the following of Jesus that one can walk in light. To the world this is an offensive view.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). The Holy Spirit was sent to indwell each believer as the source of this light. When Jesus told His disciples that they “are the light of the world,” He was not saying light originated in them, but by being joined to Him, they too became “the light of the world.” The Holy Spirit has raised up lights in each successive generation. Today, those who follow Jesus are “the light of the world.”
“We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world. When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, and said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing” (John 9:4-7). “We must work the works,” Jesus included His disciples in this statement and He also included us. Christianity is rooted in doing the works of God. Light is manifested in the works! Jesus said, “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves” (John 14:11-12). It is in doing the “works of God that faith is stirred in the hearts of those yet in darkness.
Church, it is time to arise and do the works of the Father as Jesus modeled. The Holy Spirit has come to empower each believer in the works of God and manifest light to a dark world. Let us say with Jesus, “We must do the works of Him who sent us.” Father, let Your light shine in me. Use me in good works as a light in a darkened world to bring glory to Your great name. Holy Spirit, come and have Your way in me for Jesus’ sake.
September 28 – GENUINE FAITH WILL BE TESTED
1 Peter 1:6-7 – In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Peter knew what he was talking about, having been through the fire himself. You cannot talk about “fiery trials” if you have not been through them yourself. A known teacher in the body of Christ told the story about sitting with a young man who was talking about doing great things for God. The teacher was intently looking into the young man’s eyes. The young man asked him, “Why are you looking so intently at me?” The teacher responded, “I am looking for the scars.”
The Christian walk is not for the faint of heart. Jesus was “a man’s man.” Peter spoke about being protected by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:5). Peter went on to help believers understand that we greatly rejoice in what God has done, even though for a little while we go through various trials. Trials prove our faith. One can evaluate their maturity level based on how they handle trials. Peter teaches believers that the trials of our faith are “more precious than gold which perishes.” Gold is a very precious metal. Peter says that the “trials of our faith” are more precious than gold. Even gold is tested by fire to remove impurities. Is it any wonder that our “faith” is also tested by fire?
It is important to understand that we do not bring glory to God through our success, but rather through our faithfulness. Paul taught us to remain steadfast, “having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13-14). Paul and Barnabas strengthened the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
As I look back over my life, I am reminded of many trials and tribulations. I did not enjoy the times of testing, but I am grateful for what they produced. It is in pressing through that we find growth. It is similar to a weight lifter. One must learn how to use the weights to gain the greatest benefit. The weight lifter must push through the pain, not to the point of injury, but to the point of breaking down the tissues so they can be rebuilt to a greater strength. I can truthfully say that I increased in faith because of the various trials I have gone through. I rejoice in the Lord because He has proven Himself to be faithful.
Finally, Paul admonishes us, “to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Ephesians 6:10). Aren’t you glad you do not have to trust your strength? He is the source of strength, He is the supplier of all you need, and He is counting your faith more precious than gold, even tried gold that has gone through the fire.
Father, I thank You for all Your promises. I am weak, but You are strong. I give You the distress of trials. I pray that when Jesus returns, every trial I have known will be found to result in praise, glory, and honor to You.
September 27 – I AM UNDONE
Isaiah 6:5 – Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts (KJV).
The New American Standard Version translates Isaiah 6:5 “for I am ruined!” When one is undone they feel ruined. This is not a bad place to come before God. Job also experienced this deep sense of being undone in God’s presence. His response was “I will ask You and You instruct me. I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eyes see You; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6). Job had many opinions about God, especially in defending himself against the accusations of his four friends. Job was well established in his position of being right.
We must become undone before God before He can lift us up to the place He has prepared for us in Christ. Even Jesus, though He had no sin, He humbled Himself before God the Father. The Father lifted Him up and gave Him a name above every name. As we take the same position of Isaiah and Job, the knowledge of being “undone” and “retracting” all our conceited words through repentance, opens the door for a great experience with the Lord.
When the Lord touches our tongue, we will have something worthwhile to contribute. When we repent of our opinions and acknowledge that He alone has the right viewpoints, then God will deal with those who stand against us with their opinions. We are living in a time when many in the body of Christ are repenting of their strong positions which are rooted in self-exalted thoughts. The Lord is granting His body grace, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to lay down self and be united by pressing into the Lord Jesus Christ to know His plan and will.
It is unnecessary to “defend God” or “our positions.” We are to represent His Word, what He has said, and let Him defend Himself through fulfilling His word, whether by judgment or by salvation. It is in His presence we will find fulfillment and not in the acceptance of people. God will give us acceptance through others, but they are not our source of fulfillment.
If we have been buried with Christ and raised up with Him by the power of the Holy Spirit, then our identity is in Him, side by side with one another for His purpose and glory. It is time to let go of anything that originates in us and spend time listening for the voice of God through His written word and the united word of the Spirit as He works through the body of Christ in the earth. Listen for the themes of Scripture and the themes being spoken in a united way to this generation.
Father, I come to You undone. I recognize that I am most opinionated. Help me, as You did Job, to become quiet before You. Speak to me of the areas You want to change in my life. Give me grace to receive Your correction. Cause me not to defend myself nor You. Help me to be a faithful representative of Your character and will.
September 26 – REFINEMENT
Proverbs 17:3 – The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests hearts.
The natural man looks more for what he can get from a relationship than what he can give. Before sin dominated in the garden, Adam and Eve had their eyes on the glory of God and saw each other through the purity God had breathed into Adam’s nostrils. Disobedience to God’s word through listening to the voice of the tempter brought a choice outside of God’s plan and destiny for humankind. It plunged Adam and Eve and their posterity into a need for the “refiner’s fire.”
God deals with his creation in two ways, individually and corporately. In the garden the Lord began with Adam, then Eve, and finally the Serpent. He then drove all three from the garden. The Serpent is brought low and eventually judged by the seed of the woman. Adam and Eve, and their descendants, entered into the refiner’s fire through the individual judgments God placed on the man and the woman.
The cross of Christ became the place of God’s judgment in dealing with mankind’s sin. When we embrace the cross personally and by faith receive what Christ has done for us, we are raised up into the newness of His life and we begin a journey of experiencing the refiner’s fire in the exchange of our life for His.
The primary way the Lord has chosen to refine us is through relationships. Nobody can refine themself. The main reason for this is that it is most difficult to recognize the areas in one’s own life which needs refining. It takes external pressure. Marriage is the primary relationship the Lord uses in the refining process. Next are children that demand attention and cause us to refocus our time, energy, and resources. If we are not blessed with children, the Lord has no shortage of pressures to use in the refining process.
I cannot help believing that the refining process is what John the Baptist was prophesying when he said,“ As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11-12). The fire is the fire of “refinement.” Even our Lord was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Jesus knew the fire before He experienced the glory.
Refinement is not a popular message. God’s promise of blessing receives much more popularity, but the only way to true blessing is through the fire. Refinement may not sound encouraging, but it will bring the greater weight of glory if we will embrace God’s purpose and His ways.
Father, I confess that Your ways are not my ways. By faith, I receive Your way of the refiner’s fire. I ask to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire. Refine me Lord for Your glory.
September 25 – FREEDOM THAT BRINGS TRUE LIBERTY
Luke 22:32 – I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.
Peter thought he was ready to fully serve the Lord. After Jesus gave Peter His counsel, Peter replied “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” From Peter’s viewpoint, he had given his all to the Lord. Remember, it was Peter who had the confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). He was seen as a principal leader among the twelve. Peter thought the work in him was finished.
Jesus responds to Peter’s commitment to go to prison and die for Jesus, telling Peter in verse 34, within the next 24 hours you’re going to deny Me three times. I am sure that sent Peter into a tailspin. It is a good thing Jesus had prayed for Peter’s faith not to fail. Peter was about to receive the greatest test of his life. Without the prayer of Jesus, there is no telling what would have happened to Peter.
True freedom is found in the Lord Jesus Christ as our High Priest. “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16). As with Peter, our freedom begins in the knowledge that Jesus is praying for us so that our faith will not fail.
True freedom is found in conversion. I do not mean gaining information about Jesus and saying we believe in Him. True conversion is turning from depending on our natural life as our source to depending on the Holy Spirit as our source of life and knowledge. Peter was still trying to figure things out on his own. He thought he had surrendered all to Jesus, but he had not yet undergone the death process. Death to self is required in order to know true conversion. It is a process we learn and not a one-time experience we have. Note what Jesus said to Peter – “when once you have turned again” (verse 32). It is the again part that is difficult. Peter, like us, vacillated between his natural life and the new life the Spirit was generating in him.
After conversion we begin to turn our attention to others. An evidence of “self” being crucified is our willingness to give up our life to serve others in their need. Jesus knew Peter was not ready for the task he was destined to accomplish. The Lord pointed the way forward as He said “when you are converted” (KJV). Jesus has a purpose for each one of us, but there is a process we must go through. Many get hung up in the process. Some get burned out trying to “strengthen” others before they are fully converted themselves.
Father, I humble myself before You. Keep me from arrogance which causes me to think I can serve You out of my own strength. I am weak, but You are strong! Help me to live a lifestyle of conversion, walking in faith, being changed daily, and strengthening others in their journey.
September 24 – DETERMINATION
1 Corinthians 2:1 – I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
One who is determined has their mind made up. They have decided or resolved to do a certain thing. They are resolute and unwavering in their decision. Paul’s determination came from something beyond him. It came from the power of the cross of Christ through the Holy Spirit.
Watchman Nee wrote in his book, “The Latent Power of the Soul” that God put tremendous ability in man’s soul beyond what we normally use. The problem is that “soul power” belongs to the old nature and not the new. Determination for the believer must be associated with the cross of Christ and not some natural reasoning from our old nature.
A sign the Holy Spirit is at work in us is in the destroying our confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3). In Philippians 3:4, Paul goes on to say that more than anybody, he could put his confidence in his flesh. He chose not to because he recognized he died with Christ and now his source of life came from the resurrection power of the Lord. If we try to cling to natural virtues while God desires to bring forth the life of His Son in us, we find ourselves fighting against God. The virtue of Christ is in the “Fruit of the Spirit” alone.
Our determination should be rooted in the freedom of Christ which brings true liberty in our life experience. The biblical order that leads to a determination to follow the Lord is found in repentance, forgiveness, conversion, and a life of trust in God.
Individuality, independence, and natural reasoning are all a part of self-preservation. True freedom comes when I let go of hurts, bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness. This includes anything which relates to “self-preservation.” Only the wisdom of God through the cross of Christ can supply the power for our human condition.
Now is a great time to embrace Christ’s cross. For some, it may be the first time. For others, it could be a renewal of a commitment made years ago. Allow the Lord to conquer more of the natural man to include your plans, efforts, and reasoning. Ask Him to release a greater degree of His Life through the Holy Spirit in your planning, your work, and, your thought process. Be determined to know less of what you know and to know more of Jesus and Him crucified. Only through this kind of determination can we know the demonstration of His power and His life released through us.
Father, let the mind of Christ be in me. I want to embrace Christ more and more. Please conquer every area of the natural man. Cause me to become as determined as Paul became in knowing Christ and His cross each day of my life.
September 23 – DEVELOPING A PLAN OF ACTION
Proverbs 28:13-14 – He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.
When we are faced with situations in life which keep getting worse, it is time to stop and evaluate the problem and then develop a plan of action to turn things around. This is exactly what the Father did for mankind through the Lord Jesus Christ.
We must face our present condition head on. Many try to ignore the conditions that are creating havoc in their lives. Many of God’s people have issues of depression, condemnation, and feelings of being bound with no way out of their circumstances. What is needed is a new way of thinking.
Here are some suggestions to help form a new way of thinking in developing a plan of action.
- Accept “The New Man” God has made you to be in Christ. It is not just a theological position, but in reality we have been made new in Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit.
- Apply biblical principles to your situation. Find out what the Bible has to say concerning your problem.
- Set goals. Part of developing a plan is the setting of goals. Make sure that your goals are realistic. Pray over your goals and invite the Holy Spirit to empower you to attain what you have set.
- Let others participate with you as you try to attain the goals. Your spouse or a close friend needs to know what you’re struggling with and what your goals are. It is a good idea to have a spiritual leader also involved.
- Make a clear determination to what you are to give your mind. Establish disciplines and be accountable daily, weekly, and monthly.
The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty (Proverbs 21:5). What a helpful thought Solomon gives to us. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Solomon tells us that a plan gives us a distinct advantage. The old adage of “haste makes waste” is certainly true in the lives of many. If we have been hasty in the past, we can stop, evaluate our situation, make a plan and turn things around.
Father, I thank You for the plan You have for my life. I am sorry for any haste on my part in not waiting on You for clear direction. Help me to plan carefully, be accountable, and have a clear determination in my thoughts.
September 22 – THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE
Isaiah 11:1-2 – A shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
Jesse was King David’s father. God promised David that the Messiah would come from his generational line. The promise of the Father was that the Spirit of the Lord would rest on David’s promised son. Many of the common folks of Jesus’ day recognized Him as the “Son of David” (Matthew 21:9).
Isaiah identifies six manifestations of the Spirit that would be seen operating in the life of David’s greatest Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The spirit of wisdom is mentioned first, followed by understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and the fear of the Lord.
The spirit of wisdom is the discerning of consequences of wrong actions from an eternal perspective. Jesus knew the hearts of all men, which is to say, He knew their motives. He was able to respond in wisdom to all their trick questions and wrong motivations.
The spirit of understanding is the ability to bring into light why and how people behave as they do. It is the ability to identify wrong behavioral patterns and to establish healthy ones.
The spirit of counsel is the knowing of God’s purpose and will in the life of an individual. It is to know how to reverse the effects of sin through understanding the counsel of God.
The spirit of might is the demonstration of God’s power over the addictions sin produces. It is the power to bring deliverance and healing from sin’s results.
The spirit of knowledge is having an eternal perspective that produces purpose and a fulfillment of divine destiny.
The spirit of the fear of the Lord is an awareness of God’s presence and brings the healing of a seared conscience. The spirit of the fear of the Lord calls out hypocrisy and identifies a “seared conscience” (1Timothy 4:1-2). The fear of the Lord keeps one away from evil (Proverbs 16:6).
Father, I ask for these manifestations of Your presence to be operating in my life as it was in the life of Your Son, whom You call “the Son of David.”
September 21 – MEEKNESS IS STRENGTH UNDER CONTROL
2 Corinthians 10:1 – I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am meek face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent!
We have discovered in previous devotions how the Lord is helping us “Work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.” God is working in us for His good pleasure. He tells us, “Do all things without murmuring and disputing,” because He is working a divine emptying process in our lives to bring about biblical humility.
The Holy Spirit is not at work to make us weak and spineless, He is at work to reveal Christ in us through meekness and boldness. Society has emasculated manhood. God is not bringing us to weakness, but to be strong through gentleness!
Meekness is not weakness! Meekness is yielded strength under control. I think of the great stallion that has been broken and bridled. He still has the same strength and force, but he can be ridden and his power guided.
In meekness, Jesus was willing to empty Himself and do what the Father had appointed. Jesus chose to empty Himself and be guided only by the Holy Spirit throughout His entire human life. Jesus said, “Father, I will go through this shame and all the failure.” He was willing to die, not in a hospital taking pain medicine, but on the cross in great suffering. It was cruel and humiliating. He took all the shame and all the humiliation for us. He was humiliated so we could succeed. I too must choose to empty myself and be filled with His meekness which will result in strength.
“Meekness is an inwrought grace of the soul, and the exercises of it are first and chiefly towards God. It is that temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting; it is closely linked with the word humility. It is only the humble heart which is also the meek, and which, as such, does not fight against God and more or less struggle and contend with Him. This meekness, however, being first of all a meekness before God, is also such in the face of men, even of evil men, out of a sense that these, with the insults and injuries which they may inflict, are permitted and employed by Him for the chastening and purifying of His elect” (Notes on Galatians, by Hogg and Vine pp. 294 from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words).
Why not say to the Lord, “Go ahead, Jesus, finish what you started in me.” Whatever our age might be, simply yield to the Lord and allow His strength to work in you mightily. The Lord is meek, but He is strong. Paul learned to walk in the meekness and strength of Christ. It is possible to know both Christ’s gentleness and His great strength as we yield to Him in the Holy Spirit. Ask the Father today to give you both meekness and boldness as you live out your salvation.
September 20 – SEVENFOLD EMPTYING PROCESS
Philippians 2:5-7 – Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself.
We must be emptied in order to be filled. Philippians 2 reveals seven areas of Christ Jesus’ attitude about being emptied and allowing His Father to lift Him up through the exaltation of the resurrection. Through the resurrection, Christ is drawing men to Himself. “If I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to Myself” (John 12:32). Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die, death on the cross. It is in dying, life is found.
v. 7a – Don’t exalt yourself
v. 7b – Choose to be a servant
v. 8 - Humble yourself through obedience, even to death of self
v. 9 - Let God exalt and lift you up
v. 9 - Let God give you a name that others honor
v. 12 – Obey God in your private life
v. 14 – Be content and don’t murmur or argue
The Lord is bringing about a divine emptying process in our life. He has called us to fully enter into Christ’s life and have His attitude in everything. The Lord Jesus Christ had one desire and that was to fully honor His Father, drawing all the attention to Him. What is our desire? Philippians 2 gives us the example that the Lord set for every believer. We are to follow His attitude. “I only want to be exalted in Christ and exalted by Christ.” If you are exalted by anything else, it only draws attention back to you. The world is filled with self-exaltation and honors its own.
Paul leads us from humility to exaltation and an understanding that it is God at work in us for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12). This process starts in us when we confess Jesus as Lord. From that day, we are to serve God’s good pleasure. Christ’s attitude in us will continue all of our life as we choose Jesus’ Lordship in every choice we make.
Father, I choose for You to have Your good pleasure in me. My life is no longer my own, but it belongs to You. Establish in me the attitude of Christ, an attitude of humility and allowing Your Holy Spirit to be the One to exalt me for Your glory and praise.
September 19 – HUMILITY BREAKS THE POWER OF SHAME
Philippians 2:5-11 – Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The key to overcoming the flesh is humility. I’m not speaking of a feeling that I am not worthy. Many of God’s people have an attitude of false humility which can generate self-righteousness, pride, and anger that is rooted in shame. Many say, “I’m just a sinner saved by grace!” Yes, you were a sinner. Don’t stay there! You were saved by grace. Now be a son of God as He called you to be.
James writes, “Humble yourselves in the sight of God, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10). When the Lord lifts us up there is no sense of shame. Shame generates false humility while the grace of God generates a sense of true acceptance. True humility says, “I can do nothing of myself.” If I receive anything, it comes from God! You lift your head and say, “Look what God has made me.” This is biblical humility. Jesus said in John 5, “I can do nothing of myself, only what I see the Father doing.” The Son did a lot, but He did not do things from His own initiation. The proper response when honored by another is to say, “Thank you for your recognition.” Afterwards, deflect the glory and thank God for what He allowed you to do. “Lord, I thank You for working through me.”
When we have a right attitude concerning humility and how God sees us in Christ, faith is generated and this enables us to do exploits for our God. He made us who we are through Jesus Christ. He empowers us to do His will. We acknowledge that we are simply yielded vessels, ready to be used by the Lord for His glory. That kind of attitude leaves no place for shame. Pride and self-will are both bound and we are free to live out what the Lord has made us to be.
Father, cause me to know the difference between false and true humility. Grant me grace to receive all You have done for me. Let the attitude that was in Christ reign in me, that I might be emptied of self and filled with Your holy presence.
September 18 SHAME IS AN INHERENT PROBLEM
Genesis 3:7 – Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked.
Before Adam and Eve sinned and fell from the place of honor the Lord had given to them, they knew nothing of shame. When their eyes were opened they became self-conscious and aware of their uncovered condition. They instinctively felt separated from the love of God. They hid from each other and from God, trying to cover up their shame. It is shame that keeps us from ourdestiny. The Greek word for shame means nakedness. We are born naked which speaks of our inherent condition.
It took God’s intervention to begin a true process of recovery. Only when Jesus became sin for us could a true recovery of man’s lost and shameful condition become possible. As we receive by faith His sub-stationary sacrifice, shame must go because we are now fully accepted in the completeness of Christ.
Jesus demonstrated the Father’s commitment to removing shame when He ministered grace and broke shame in the life of an adulterous woman as recorded in John 8:1-11. Jesus turned the searchlight back on her accusers when He said, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). I see Jesus’ response as one of the greatest demonstrations of the love of God. Jesus found Himself alone with the woman. Her accusers had all left. Jesus asked her, “Did no one condemn you? She said, ‘No one, Lord’. Jesus said, ‘I do not condemn you either. Go. From now on sin no more’” (John 8:10-11).
Jesus broke the shame barrier by emptying Himself. In Philippians 2:5, Paul describes how Jesus totally emptied Himself so He could be shamed for each of us. Our shame was put on the Lord Jesus Christ. If we receive what the Lord has done on the cross, we are free to sin no more just like the woman in John 8.
Jesus overcame shame in both life and death. Jesus was born to die and to rise again. He went from swaddling clothes to grave clothes in order to break the shame barrier for all who would believe on Him. The writer of Hebrews instructs us when he says, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus broke through the shame barrier both in His life and in His death. We also can break shame through His life, which is in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Father, I thank You for a life free of condemnation. I rejoice because the Lord Jesus has broken the shame barrier once and for all. I celebrate the power of the Holy Spirit who enables me to break the shame barrier because of what Your Son has accomplished in the work of the cross.
September 17 – EFFECTS OF SHAME IN A BELIEVERS LIFE
Romans 8:1-2 – Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
I believe this to be one of the most powerful Scriptures in the entire Bible. It is now, it is in Christ Jesus, and it is the law of the Spirit. Today, we will consider some of the results of shame in a person’s life.
Shame produces a negative attitude. When one is under the bondage of shame, their tendency is to see life through a negative prism. They have only known negative feelings concerning themselves, so it becomes very difficult to see life any other way.
Shame causes a person to focus on themself rather than the needs of others. Shame is “self- consuming.” On a natural level, it is our own self-esteem that permits us to view others in a healthy way. Shame makes it difficult to be concerned for another’s circumstance.
Trust becomes an issue for the individual who feels shamed. Their defenses are up to prevent further embarrassment or hurt feelings. Shame is a killer of real friendships and intimacy. It is difficult to relate in a healthy way with others, if one cannot relate in a healthy way with themselves.
It is very difficult, if not impossible, for the shamed person to be sure of their salvation. Since trust is a root problem with the shamed individual, trusting the Lord and His promises is an ongoing challenge for the one struggling with shame issues. Faith is a constant battle. Rather than resting in the Lord, the shamed person is always in a state of unrest and anxiety. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. The shamed person can never fully become all that the Lord designed them to be. A spirit of doubt is a root spirit that can control a person who feels shamed.
Shame will keep us from being bold and courageous in our witness for Christ. The shamed person cannot handle rejection. Rejection will come from some as Christ is presented. Many are not interested in the gospel because it first brings conviction of sin. The shamed person turns “conviction” into a negative of condemnation rather than the means to salvation and freedom that is found in Christ.
Father, I ask You to reveal any shame in me. I pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to break that law of death. I ask You to fill me with the love of Christ, first for myself and then for others. Help me to reject shame and receive the full benefit of the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.
September 16 – BREAKING THE SHAME BARRIER
Hebrews 12:2 – Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
A simple definition of shame is – a painful feeling of having lost respect of others and of oneself because of improper behavior, failure not to meet the expectation of another, and not living up to your own expectation of yourself.
Many Bible figures had to overcome shame. Abram felt shame not having a child for whom he could leave an inheritance. God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, meaning “father of many.” God not only gave him a child, He multiplied his seed so His posterity was like the sand of the sea. Jacob was shamed because he deceived his father into thinking that he was Esau, his older brother, from whom he stole the birthright. Later, God changed Jacob’s name, which meant “deceiver” to Israel, meaning “Prince with God.” Joseph was shamed by his brothers who sold him into slavery. In Egypt, God raised him up to serve Pharaoh and save the nation in a time of famine. Some others I could write about would be Moses – shamed from Egypt and shame that he was inarticulate. Saul felt shame because of his persecution of the church and Timothy because of his age. Then there is Peter, who denied his Lord three times.
People do shameful things because they live from a shame base in their life experience. They are acting out what they believe about themselves. Many see themselves as a failure, evil, rejected, ugly, unworthy of love, and a host of other things.
Jesus broke the shame barrier once and for all in life and death. He gave us power in our life to rule over shame. He has empowered us to receive His forgiveness and acceptance. He wants to equip us so we too might help others break off shame from their lives. The Lord’s call for each of His children is to break shame’s power and be free to serve in humility.
One of the strongest proponents of shame is religion. Religion can put the expectations of others upon an individual. In Christianity, one can come to church feeling shameful. When they hear and receive the gospel they experience the freedom Christ has for them. Shame lifts, but as they hang around the church, shame begins to creep back in as others put their expectations on the new believer. We should never shame someone into being a follower of Jesus. God certainly doesn’t.
Father, I thank You for taking my shame upon Yourself. I thank You for the covering You have given to me in the Lord Jesus Christ who causes me to know I am loved and cared for by the power of the Holy Spirit. Help me to communicate that love to others as well.
September 15 – THE TABERNACLE OF GOD
1 Corinthians 6:19 Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
The Old Testament gives us illustrations that are types and shadows of those things which were to come. The Tabernacle beautifully illustrates the triune make up of man. The Holy of Holies in the tabernacle is symbolic of the spirit of one who has been born again. The spirit in a person is the dwelling place of Christ through His eternal Spirit. God has met us in mercy as the atoning blood of Jesus is applied to our life. We have daily access to God by the Spirit.
The Holy Place, where the priests daily ministered to Lord, represents our soul and our daily service to God. The priests would bake fresh bread each day and offer it before the Lord. The priests would trim the candle wicks and supply fresh oil to fuel the candles. Each day, incense would be offered to the Lord as a praise offering. What a beautiful picture of our daily and priestly service to the Lord. Giving one’s self to the word of God daily is very important in receiving fresh bread from God. That bread may take the form of instruction, encouragement, and perhaps new insights into the nature of God. “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
Each day, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, keeping our vessels supplied with the fresh oil of God so we might be His lights in a darkened world. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14-15). Paul admonishes us, “to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19).
The altar of incense serves as a beautiful type of our daily worship unto our heavenly Father. “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15). Paul sums things up for us when he instructs God’s people saying, “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Ephesians 5:18-19).
The Outer Court symbolizes our body and what the world sees. To the world we testify of the sacrifice of Christ and join Him in baptism as we testify to death with Him and the power of His resurrection. Paul states “We know that if our earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1).
Father, I ask to be filled with Your Holy Spirit today. Feed me Your word, cause me to have sufficient oil and to have my candles trimmed. I stand before You as a priest of God, offering to You the sacrifices of praise.
September 14 – PUT ON THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD
Ephesians 6:10-11 – Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God.
Paul finishes his letter to the church at Ephesus by instructing them concerning spiritual warfare. Acts 18 – 20 records the founding of the Ephesian church and the spiritual warfare which the believers faced. Those struggles came from the Jewish religious community and the occult religion of Diana which filled Ephesus. These struggles produced riots against the believers who were being set free from Satan’s power through the power of God.
Paul brings clear instruction to the established church at Ephesus saying, “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” This was a clue that the battle was not over and their victory would not be in their own strength, but in the Lord’s. The battle is not over for us either. In fact, it won’t be over until the Lord comes. “Then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming” (KJV).
Paul then instructs, “Put on the whole armor of God.” The people were used to seeing the Roman soldiers, dressed in their full armor, so this provided a wonderful picture of the spiritual armor each believer is to put on. It is not automatic; one must “put on the full armor, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). Paul established the reason for this absolute necessity in the following verse. “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
Ephesians 6:14-17 describes each piece of the armor we are to put on. First, gird your loins with truth. It is “truth” that holds all the armor in place. Next, put on the breastplate of righteousness. It is the righteousness of God that will protect our hearts. After this, put on the shoes of the gospel of peace. Only a walk of peace can protect us from the enemy’s attacks of “anxiety and worry.” In addition, take up the “shield of faith.” It is the shield of faith that protects us from all the enemy will throw at us. The Roman soldiers linked their shields together creating a solid wall against what the enemy was throwing at them. We need each other beloved! As we walk in covenant relationship, the enemy is less likely to get through and defeat us. With a shield, which is defensive, one needs a sword, which is offensive. The Sword of the Spirit which has been provided to us is a two edged sword. It is “the Word of God.”
Father, today I put on the whole armor of God. Thank You for Your protection in the battle against the schemes of the wicked one. Help me to stand strong in the power of Your might.
September 13 – PAUL’S INSTRUCTION CONCERNING OUR WARFARE
2 Corinthians 10:3-4 – Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.
Paul was responding to his critics that accused him of walking in the flesh. He acknowledges that he is still walking in the flesh, but that he is not fighting this spiritual warfare by means of his flesh. Paul helps us understand, as believers, we are not using fleshly weapons in our battles. God has given us weapons to defeat the enemy which are “divinely powerful.” Jesus promised that we “would receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8).
Paul understood that the minds of people were in bondage to spiritual forces that exercised influence through the world and its systems. Paul calls this influence on the minds of people “fortresses.” The enemy establishes ways of thinking, belief systems, and controls over humanity by his dominions known as “principalities and powers.” Unbelief, false religion, and lust in the flesh are a few of the fortresses. Paul preached the good news of the kingdom of God to religiously bound people, primarily the Jews. He also preached to Gentiles bound by sexual and occult strongholds.
Paul knew the fortresses were established in people’s thoughts. As he preached the gospel with power, he understood he was “destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Many believers think they are reasoning with others simply by logic and are trying to convince unbelievers to accept biblical truths by simply seeing the logic of their presentation. A well-presented message is important, but the battle in the reasoning of people’s minds is spiritual. In the power of the Holy Spirit and by the authority of God’s word, we too, like Paul, destroy fortresses set up in the minds of the unregenerate. This makes it possible for them to receive God’s grace of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Many believers who have been able to believe for their own salvation still need deliverance from the world’s views. They are controlled by principalities and powers that are under Satan’s domination. This is one reason why the study of the Word of God is so important. The word, by the power of the Holy Spirit, continues to wash our minds and set us free from the world’s views to see and understand from God’s perspective.
Father, in Jesus’ name, I ask You to reveal anything in my reasoning which does not line up with Your Word. I pray that every fortress of the enemy would be destroyed in my thoughts and that the Holy Spirit would rule supreme in me so I might walk in faith, pleasing to You in every way.
September 12 – JESUS, OUR WARRIOR KING
Mark 1:23-24 – There was a man in the synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who You are – the Holy One of God!”
What a powerful beginning of Jesus’ ministry. The enemy’s dominions could not hold their peace in the presence of their judge. When the Scripture says, “he cried out” it is speaking of the unclean spirit in the man using the man’s voice to communicate. The man was not some mentally deranged individual. That kind of person would not have been allowed in the synagogue. He appeared normal, as many do, but he had an unclean spirit that controlled areas of his life.
The spirit in the man recognized Jesus as his destroyer. He asked Jesus, “Have You come to destroy us?” He spoke as a representative of other spirits in the man or spoke of the demonic realm in general. The spirits knew a day was coming when God would put an end to their existence. He knew that they would be destroyed by “the Holy One of God”. As you continue in this passage you find Jesus did not accept the spirit’s confession of His deity or His humanity, but rather “rebuked him, saying, ‘be quiet, and come out of him’! Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him” (Mark 1:25-26). The scene was messy, noisy, and a bit violent. This is not what most people want to happen in a church meeting. This kind of scene happened quite regularly in Jesus’ ministry. When the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of God collide, it is a violent encounter.
In Matthew chapter 12, we receive more understanding concerning these two kingdoms. Read the whole chapter for context. We find the religious leaders of Jesus’ time telling the people that Jesus was casting out demons by the power of the prince of demons. Jesus countered their views with powerful responses, one of which was a parable. “Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation” (Matthew 12:43-45). Jesus is saying that generation was demonized. Later, in Mathew 23:13-39 Jesus gives eight scathing woes to the religious leaders. In Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem, He cries out that “your house is being left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:38).
As the Gospel is preached in power, as supernatural manifestations of God’s Holy Spirit increase, as we draw nearer to the Lord’s coming, the kingdom of darkness will also manifest its evil, its violence, and its absolute resistance to God and His people. We are called to set individuals and nations free, those held captive to Satan’s power.
Father, I pray for increased understanding of the unseen world. Help me to know how to pray and to be used to set those free who are held captive by the enemy’s power. I pray for Your divine protection as we encounter the enemy and his dominions. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done.
September 11 – A DAY TO REMEMBER
Psalm 74:18-23 – Remember this, O Lord, that the enemy has reviled, and a foolish people has spurned Your name. Do not deliver the soul of Your turtledove to the wild beast; Do not forget the life of Your afflicted forever. Consider the covenant; For the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence. Let not the oppressed return dishonored; Let the afflicted and needy praise Your name. Arise, O God, and plead Your own cause; Remember how the foolish man reproaches You all day long. Do not forget the voice of Your adversaries, the uproar of those who rise against You which ascends continually.
As we remember September 11, 2001 and the heinous crime committed against humanity, know that God too remembers. Before evil manifested on earth, it manifested in heaven when Satan and his hosts set themselves against God and His kingdom purpose. The next few days we will devote ourselves to three men who understood the true warfare. This will serve to help in understanding the battle in which we are engaged.
Daniel 9 and 10 gives us insight into the warfare happening in the heavens. Daniel discovered God’s timing for the completeness of judgment upon Israel in the book of Jeremiah. Daniel gave his attention to the Lord to seek Him by prayer and supplications with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. I suggest reading the prayer of Daniel 9:3-19. In verse 20, Gabriel brings an answer to Daniel’s prayer. In chapter ten, more insight is given to Daniel after he had been mourning and fasting for three entire weeks. This time, Gabriel told Daniel that “from the first day that you set your heart on understanding . . . your words were heard” (Daniel 10:12). In verse 13, Gabriel told Daniel, “the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. In Verse 20, Gabriel informs Daniel, “he now will return to fight against the Prince of Persia and that the prince of Greece is about to come.” In Verse 21, Gabriel revealed to Daniel that there is “no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince.”
Today, we are still battling these princes of Persia and Greece. Persia is represented in the “false religion of Islam” and Greece with its “humanistic philosophies” that fill western culture and our educational system. The battle is not in the natural realm, as Daniel learned, but in the heavenly sphere. Today, Daniels are needed who will set their hearts on understanding and on humility before God. The two big fronts that God’s people face are “false religion and humanistic philosophy.” Their sources are not natural, but supernatural. The true warfare is the kingdom of darkness set against the kingdom of light. Our strength and courage comes from knowing our God has overcome, “He is head over all rule and authority” (Colossians 2:10).
Father, I ask You for understanding and courage to enter into my part of the battle. Strengthen me in faithfulness to pray with knowledge about the true warfare. I ask for the Holy Spirit to open up Your word to me so that I might know how to answer those who oppose Your truth. Lead me in prayer and supplications for myself, Your people, and the nation.
September 10 – RADICAL CHANGE IN THE WORLD
Daniel 2:28 – However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to king Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days.
September 11, 2001 is a day that will live in the hearts and minds of multitudes. Thousands were killed that day by terrorists driven by evil compulsion to change the world by eliminating those opposed to their theological persuasions. That day the world changed. No longer are we simply engaged with traditional struggles of corrupt philosophies and greed in the hearts of men, but a more sinister evil has manifested its ugly head. In 2011, as we watched planes crash into the Twin Towers and more than 3,000 people lost their lives, we saw the beginning of a battle that will last to the Coming of Our Lord.
Consider seven major changes that are taking place in the world.
- Geo-political – the overturning of dictatorships throughout the nations and ongoing conflict over geography.
- The Middle East – prominence of tribalism in relationship to the world community.
- Communist Nations that have embraced capitalism as a means of economic prosperity.
- Education – built on values now being controlled by relativism, humanism and false science.
- Economics – having left a gold standard in 1973 for a dependence upon a federal reserve system that borrows and prints money when desired.
- Sexual Orientation – once clear to be “male and female” now filled with all kinds of mixture.
- Climate Changes – being touted as man induced, not understanding God’s control of the elements for his own purposes.
The Lord desires to give to His people a heavenly perspective. There are plenty of places one can go to learn the world’s views. Just watch CNN, FOX, or worse. The battles we are engaged in do not originate in the natural, but come from the supernatural realm. If God’s people are bound to their natural reasoning they will have no more understanding than the world does.
Daniel the prophet found himself caught in the geo-political struggles of His day, but he knew that the “God of heaven was the one in control. He knew that a relationship with his God was the key to understanding the world and his own people’s success in their time of distress.
We must know in our heart of hearts that Daniel’s God is our God and He alone is in control of world events. As we prepare to remember 9/11, let us also remember that God is taking back His earth through the Gospel of the kingdom. We, God’s people, need to pray as Daniel of old prayed, trusting that God will reveal to us His plans for our day, and show us how to respond.
Father, I pray that I might have understanding in this changing world. I pray to receive Your wisdom and Your peace. I pray that I would learn to rest in Your word that is forever settled. Lead me each day by Your Holy Spirit dwelling within.
September 9 – GROWING UP TO THE FULL STATUE OF CHRIST
Ephesians 4:13 – Growing to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:13 describes precisely God’s intention for each believer. In every conceivable way, the Lord wants Christ to be revealed in us. The measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ is a statement that fills eternity.
The word “stature” is an interesting word which requires a little research. The word stature is derived from the Greek (helikia) meaning “an age.” (Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words). It came to mean a certain length of life, as when a person is said to be “of age.”
Throughout the Scriptures, we find different ages revealed. Noah’s flood was the end of one age and the beginning of another. God’s call in Abraham’s life was the beginning of an age and a new thing God was about to do in the earth. Abraham was the beginning of a nation and became known as “the father of us all” (Romans 4:11-12). The age of faith began with faithful Abraham. From Abraham, God created an entire nation. The nation Israel was named after Abraham’s grandson Jacob, whom God renamed Israel, meaning “prince with God.” Israel came to full age with the emergence of the Christ, God’s promised Messiah. Unfortunately, that generation did not walk in the faith of Abraham. “Jesus answered, ‘If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’; and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”
God’s purpose in all the ages was to reveal His Son and to create a people in the image of Christ Jesus, the Lord. He purposed that all of Israel would come to know Him in faith and be recreated by the Holy Spirit as the sons and daughters of God. He intended through Israel’s recreation in the Spirit that the Gentiles too, would be recreated by the Spirit and be joined with all of Israel as God’s Covenant people in the earth. God’s intent in this age is for Christ to be revealed to the nations though His people born of the Spirit.
A remnant of Jews believed and became the foundation of the “new creation”. Believing Gentiles were added and “one new man” in the Spirit is filling the earth. “Abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity” (Ephesians 2:15-17). God’s work was completed in Christ. He is the fullness of God. Now we are called to be formed into His likeness and grow up into His fullness, “to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ”. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. Receive His work into every area of your life today.
September 8 – ATTAINING TO A MATURE MAN
Ephesians 4: 13 – Until we all attain to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
As we continue to look deeper into these passages in Ephesians, we see that Paul is calling each believer to maturity in Christ. Christ Jesus is our model as a mature Son. The Lord did not save us simply to get us to heaven. Salvation is about a new man. It is about a man who is created in the image of God’s Son. God’s intention was not that we would remain children, but to become mature people who are able to handle the Lord’s business well.
The fivefold ministry has been given assignments by the Lord to help in the development of God’s people. For example, the goal of an overseer is to develop those for whom he is responsible as mature individuals who are the image of Jesus in the earth. Jesus supplies the grace for these ministry offices to be able to accomplish their work. Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, also supplies grace for each believer so that they can grow up in the Lord.
When Paul says, “By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8), he laid the foundation for our entire Christian walk. Everything we do in Christ must come from grace through faith. We cannot do what God is requiring without a supply of grace. Many struggle in the Christian walk as they start out by grace and then try to go farther on their own. As we have seen in previous devotions, our “will” is involved, but the Holy Spirit supplies the grace. As He supplies grace, faith follows. Faith, beloved, is an operation of grace. Faith is not our effort, but His supply of grace.
Growing up in Christ is a continual process developed throughout our entire life. It is our salvation being worked out day by day. Each day we are to receive His grace and then exercise faith in obedience to His work in our lives. Doesn’t that take off a lot of pressure, knowing you do not have to go it alone? Whatever is lacking in your maturity in the Lord, begin to ask for grace to be supplied in that area. Your flesh may resist, the Devil may fight you, and circumstances my create obstacles, but if you press into the Holy Spirit, He will give you the grace to overcome. Faith will rise and you will be victorious in Christ.
Father, help me to fulfill Your plan to grow up into Christ. I claim the maturity You have destined for me. I am willing to accept the trials that will be used by You to cause Christ to be formed in every area of my being. I gladly receive Your grace to do Your will throughout my life.
September 7 – THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE SON OF GOD
Ephesians 4:13 – Until we attain the knowledge of the Son of God.
Knowing Jesus is not simply about an initial salvation experience. It is a matter of growing in relationship with Him until we are at one with His eternal purposes. The apostle Paul came as close as any in the knowledge of Christ. Paul said, “Whatever things were gain to me, I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:8). Paul valued his relationship with Christ far above anything he knew in this life. Paul is the true example of dying and being buried with Christ. He is our example of what it means to live in Christ Jesus’ resurrection power day by day.
The desire of Paul’s heart was, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection of the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11). To know the sufferings of Christ, one must first partake in the power of His resurrection life. By faith, we receive Christ Jesus the Lord. This is the gate through which we enter into His life. Through “faith” in Him we are accepted by the Father. This is not the end, but the beginning of knowing Him. The Holy Spirit begins to lead us into the “fellowship of His sufferings.” It is in the sufferings of Christ that we begin to truly experience the heart of God.
In verse 11, Paul speaks of purpose, “in order that I may attain to the resurrection of the dead.” At first glance, it may seem like Paul is working to attain eternal life. We know by the study of Scriptures this is not the case. Paul is speaking about the “first resurrection” which every believer has entered into through baptism. “All of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death. Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4). Paul was committed to walking in the power of Christ’s resurrection. Walking in His resurrection life comes from knowing Him and the fellowship of His sufferings. Paul’s life modeled this truth.
Father, I ask You to help me attain to the resurrection of Christ daily. I was dead in my trespasses and sins, but I rejoice that I am alive forever more in Christ Jesus. I want to know You more. I ask You to prepare me in my daily walk so I can live in Your Son’s resurrection life.
September 6 – ATTAINING THE UNITY OF THE FAITH
Ephesians 4:13 – Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
The fivefold ministry gifts were given to equip God’s people until the church “attains” the unity of the faith. Paul’s statement about attaining unity is as big a goal as one will find. It is hard to imagine the church in that kind of unity. Perhaps it is what we understand unity to be that is the problem. Unity is impossible in the natural. Biblical unity is the work of the Holy Spirit in the “hearts” of God’s people, not simply in their heads. Today, I have unity with many in the Lord’s church, not based on agreement about everything, but in agreement concerning God’s kingdom purposes.
One reason unity has been difficult to achieve is that, around the second century, church fathers shifted the focus from the “kingdom of God” to the Church. The body of Christ began to be taught that where the Bishop is, there is the church. The apostles taught that the church is the people of God and bishops were “overseers” who provided care for God’s people. The apostles further taught that the kingdom was in the Holy Spirit. He is the center of all that the Father and the Son are doing. This shift set the stage for “ecclesiastical structures” rather than the government of God that the apostles founded. The Reformation brought the church part of the way back to God’s original purpose, but not all the way back. Out of the Reformation came many divisions over doctrine and the government of the church.
The twentieth century brought a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit reviving the Lord’s church. Unity has been on the increase as the Lord changes the hearts of His men and women. There is more unity today than since the first century. The real shift began to happen around the 80’s and 90’s as the church began to focus on the kingdom of God and not on denominations. Unity prayer was at the foundation of this revival in the Lord’s church. One of the first areas was united prayer for the nations and unreached people groups. Another important shift was united prayer in cities as pastors began to pray together to fulfill the “Great Commission.” Marches for Jesus took place all over the world as God’s people celebrated the kingdom of God and His Glorious King!
Unity begins in our family, our local church congregation, and our cooperation with what the Lord is doing in our locality. Search your heart today and see if there is any division toward others in the body of Christ. If there is, repent and give it over to the Lord. Ask the Father for grace to live in the unity of the Spirit and the bonds of peace with everyone. This does not mean compromise of your convictions. It does mean keeping our hearts right before God and others.
September 5 – GOD HAS PLACED SOME IN HIS CHURCH AS TEACHERS
2 Timothy 3:10-11 – Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings.
It is hard to know if the teaching gift is separate from the pastoral gift. Apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastors are clearly separate. The apostolic and pastoral ministries have teaching as a major component of their gift. The apostles laid the foundation of what was to be taught. I call this “structuring doctrine.” The elders of the New Testament churches taught what the apostles set as proper doctrine. Teaching the things of the Spirit is definitely a gift given to the body of Christ. Biblical teaching is not rooted in academics in the sense of man’s views. It is rooted in “revelation,” or what God reveals.
Paul tells Timothy that any man who “aspires” to the office of overseer,” among other things, must be able to teach (1Timothy 3: 1-7). As stated in our scripture for today, Timothy followed Paul’s teaching. Paul’s teaching was more than words. His teaching was also found in his conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings. Teaching should reflect a manner of living, not just information.
Teaching is a “fatherly function.” Solomon gives instruction to his son when he says, “My son, do not forget my teaching” (Proverbs 3:1). We can assume that Solomon was taught by his father, King David. Not only do the scriptures speak of natural fathering, but spiritual fathering as well. “This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight” (1Timothy 1:18). Fathers teach their children. The real teachings come through the models that fathers and mothers set for their children. I believe that one of the weak points in church life is that the majority of teaching is simply informational rather than example.
Jesus’ teaching was show and tell. “For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it” (Matthew 13:17). Today, I believe we find that teaching is mostly about information. Biblically it is about modeling. A part of training is putting your hands to the work and practicing so you might develop the skill you are learning.
I worked in the television repair field for many years. My first boss wanted me to take classes at the local city college. It was helpful to be in the class, but my greatest knowledge base came in the field. I was fortunate enough to work with the shop’s best technician. It was his modeling that laid the foundation for future success in the field of servicing. I found the same to be true in ministry development. I listened to a lot of teaching that was excellent and helpful, but it was in the doing, alongside mentors, that the real teaching took place.
Father, thank You for the teaching gift You have placed in the body of Christ. I pray to be taught as well as to teach others of Your wonderful ways and works. Help my life to model for others what You have taught me.
September 4 – OVERSEERS OF THE FLOCK
1 Peter 5:2 – Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God.
The English word for “pastor” is only found in the Ephesians 4:11. In the Greek it is found many times. A number of different Greek words are used in the New Testament with slightly different meanings. Words such as shepherd, overseer, elder, and bishop are found there. They all speak of pastoring the flock of God. Throughout history these words have been treated as separate ministries, but that is a wrong understanding and application. They all speak of the “care of God’s people.” In our devotional, I will use the word shepherd because the word is used in our verse for today.
The shepherd is a “local” gift. The shepherd has an allotment of God’s people for which he is responsible. The shepherd knows the people and their individual needs. The shepherd is to relate with other shepherds in the locality so that there is a healthy overall care for the body of Christ. Biblically speaking, shepherds are first recognized by the people for whom they are caring. An apostolic function is to recognize the shepherds and set them into their place before the people. This is clearly seen throughout Paul’s writings.
The shepherd is to exercise oversight. Two important understandings are needed. First, the exercise of oversight is not to be an obligation or feeling, “I have to do this.” It comes from knowing God’s call. It is an attitude of “volunteerism.” I do not “shepherd” for money, or guilt, or to be known or seen. The ministry gifts are to be utilized voluntarily Second, an overseer must be motivated by love. Jesus voluntarily laid down His life for the sheep giving us an example to emulate. The overseer is not to be controlling or consider they have a position of privilege. The shepherd is first a servant of God and a servant to God’s people.
Shepherding must be according to the will of God. It is God who calls through the Holy Spirit at work in a person’s life. I was called at age fourteen. I was planning a career in electronics, but as I walked across the Fellowship Hall of the church I attended, the Holy Spirit called me to serve the body of Christ. From that moment, I was ruined for anything else. I have done many things in my life, but I cannot escape being a shepherd. I feel no “compulsion,” only an honor to serve my Lord and His people.
As God’s people, it is important to understand the ministry gifts; this helps us pray for the shepherd/overseer. It is important for us to understand the grave responsibility that the shepherd carries. It is important so that we can work alongside the shepherd with their particular gifts. Finally, the Lord may call you to this ministry gift.
Father, I thank you for Your shepherds who represent Christ to the flock. I pray now for the shepherd that You have placed in my life. I pray that You would put a hedge of protection around him and his family. I pray that he would fulfill Your will through the calling that rests upon him.
September 3 – THE GIFT OF THE EVANGELIST
2 Timothy 4:5 – Be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
The third ministry gift Paul mentions in Ephesians 4:11 is that of the “evangelist.” Your fingers beautifully illustrate these five gifts which the Lord has placed in His church. The thumb speaks of the apostolic, as it touches all the other gifts. The prophetic is like the pointer finger, pointing the way. The evangelist, like the middle finger, reaches out the farthest. The ring finger illustrates the pastoral role and speaks of covenant relationship. The small finger speaks of the teacher. It is ideal for cleaning the wax out of your ears.
Paul addresses four areas of which he wants Timothy to be aware. He says be “sober in all things.” The message of the gospel is serious. The souls of people are at stake. You can have fun witnessing, but understand you are speaking of the eternal destiny of a soul.
Paul says, “Endure hardship.” Declaring the “gospel of the kingdom of God” will generate various kinds of hardships. Some examples are: financial, inconveniences, time and energy, persecution, mocking, rejection, and for some physical abuse, including death. Along with whatever hardships one might experience comes the joy of conversion. David declares, “Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:5-6).
Paul tells Timothy, who carries pastoral responsibility, “Do the work of an evangelist.” Timothy was not an evangelist, but was taught to think evangelistically. A man like Billy Graham is an Evangelist; his gift is obvious. We are all called to witness of the faith and win souls. Solomon wrote, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise wins souls” (Proverbs 11:30). Whatever your gift may be in the body of Christ, do the work of an evangelist.
Finally, Paul says to Timothy, “Fulfill your ministry.” One of the most fulfilling things in the life of a believer is to know your ministry of service. As I write these devotionals, I know, this task is a part of fulfilling my service to the body of Christ. No one person can do everything, but the Holy Spirit has assignments for each of us. Whatever assignments the Lord may have given to you, remember Paul’s encouragement to Timothy. You can always ask a person if they have any prayer requests. It is a great lead into sharing the love of God with another.
Father, I thank You for the Gift of the Evangelist. As Paul instructed Timothy, help me to do the work of an evangelist. Open my heart and my eyes to see people as You do. Show me the lost and the perishing who need to hear of Your great love revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
September 2 – PROPHETIC VISION
Ephesians 2:18-22 – Through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
As we give our attention to the five ministry gifts it is important to keep focused on Jesus. Each of the ministry gifts is a manifestation of the ministry of Jesus and does not stand alone on its own merits. Paul reminds us, “through Him we have both access in one Spirit to the Father” (emphasis mine). The Godhead determined for Jesus to build His church upon the apostolic and prophetic ministries. It is through apostolic teaching and prophetic vision God’s will and purpose is communicated. John the apostle declares in the book of Revelation that he “fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God, for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy’” (Revelation 19:10).
As with the apostolic gift, the prophetic gift is still needed. Today, the prophetic does not bring new revelation or anything “extra biblical,” but helps to restore the Lord’s church to His original intent. Throughout history, men have distorted the truth of God and have built their own systems. The writers of the New Testament warned God’s people that this would happen. Consider what Peter said in his second letter, “False prophets arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves” (2 Peter 2:1-2). The true prophetic voice points to Jesus. The true prophetic voice is anointed of the Lord to envision God’s people in God’s purpose for current times.
The writer of Hebrews tells us, “draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22). As we draw near to the Lord through the Holy Spirit and the study of His Word, our expected result should be “prophetic vision” for our life and service to Him. When listening to the preached word and as you pray for God’s guidance in your life, expect to receive through the prophetic gift, what the Lord wants to reveal to you. Praise God for the apostolic and prophetic gift He has made available to His church.
When I listen to preaching and teaching, when I read articles and books, I am asking the Lord to reveal to me understanding for my life and what is being spoken and how it relates to culture and what the Lord is doing today. I am listening for His Spirit to give to me prophetic understanding about His church and the culture in which I live.
Father, thank you for the prophetic gift You have given to Your church. Thank You for prophets who hear Your voice and deliver to the church Your message for contemporary times. I ask for You to increase prophetic awareness in me that I might walk in a stronger relationship to “the testimony of Jesus.”
September 1 – APOSTOLIC GROWTH
Ephesians 4:11 – He gave some as apostles.
In our next five devotionals, we will look at the Lord’s purpose in these five ministry gifts for the growth and development of the body of Christ. These ministry gifts and their function are important to the maturation of individual believers. The first of the five is the “apostolic gift.” The original apostles are known as “the apostles of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:14). Christ is building His church upon the foundation that the apostles and prophets laid, “Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20).
These men were given to Christ in His earthly ministry by the Father. “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word” (John 17:6). There will never be more apostles known as the “apostles of the Lamb,” since they were given to Jesus in His earthly ministry. It is important to understand that the “apostolic ministry” was meant to continue until the Lord returns. The apostolic ministry today reinforces what the apostles taught. They are used by the Holy Spirit to “equip the saints for the work of service and to build up the body of Christ: until we all attain the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13-14).
It is important to know what the Lord is presently doing in the earth. We started to hear teachings about these five ministry gifts around 1948. Since that time, each of the five gifts has been restored to the church and is still developing toward greater maturity. It is through the apostolic ministry that a great unity is manifesting in the Lord’s church. It is unity around the message of the kingdom and not a particular church system. The church is unified throughout the world as we pray for the nations. There is increased city-wide unity as pastor’s work together for the greater cause of Christ. The Lord is at work unifying the generations. There is much emphasis on fathering throughout the Lord’s church today.
The church of Jesus is growing in numbers and in maturity. Individuals are growing in their commitment to the kingdom of God. The unity of the faith is happening. Increased knowledge of the Son of God is taking place. It is easy to be critical, but an honest examination of the church throughout the world reveals “apostolic times” are among us. Jesus is preparing His church for great things as He wraps up the ages and prepares to return for His bride.
Father, I present myself to You as a willing vessel. Help me attain to the unity of the faith. Increase my knowledge of the Son of God, causing me to become mature into the measure of the stature of Christ. Grow me up to be used by the Holy Spirit for Your pleasure.
August 31 – GROW UP IN ALL ASPECTS INTO HIM
Ephesians 4:15 – Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.
Paul clearly articulates the will of God in this Scripture. The larger context of Paul’s instruction begins with verse 11. There, Paul outlines five specific graces or gifts the Lord has given to His church for the purpose of producing growth in the saints of God. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers are gifts given to accomplish the Lord’s purpose in the earth. In verse 12, Paul states their purpose, which is “the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.”
As an individual waits on God through study of His word and prayer, they receive much in terms of understanding and ability. In God’s eternal purpose, He has established these ministries as a vital part of the “equipping” process. There is an anointing that is imparted through these gifts of God. “Equipping of the saints” has a core purpose of helping God’s people achieve maximum potential in God’s calling and service. Equipping includes many things such as structuring teachings, bringing correction, instilling vision, being an example to the saints, bringing understandings of God’s purposes, and impartation of God’s gifts, to name a few.
Our growth in Christ includes the “work of service.” Jesus told His disciples, “even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Service is the cornerstone of the Christian life. Service is a heart attitude. It is not a “works mentality,” but resides at the very core of the love of God. Jesus is our model for everything. He raises up leaders in His body that are to emulate Him. Unfortunately, some leaders take privilege to themselves and expect to be served. New Testament leaders understood they were to serve the body of Christ.
Service includes evangelism. Jesus said that “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). The saints of God are called to serve the lost by sharing the good news of the kingdom of God. As saints of God, we are called to live a lifestyle that represents God’s righteousness. The Holy Spirit supplies to each believer the power and grace necessary to serve the needs that come their way. The ministry gifts are intended to build up the body of Christ. As individuals, we should represent Jesus in the flesh. As a body of believers, the same is true. Christianity is not about a gathering that meets in a building, but a people who are equipped and given to the service of others. We are to portray the true nature of Christ in the earth.
Father, in Jesus’ name equip me through the help of Your ministry gifts for the work of service. Increase in me a burden for the lost and an ability to bring others to a saving knowledge of Your Son. Strengthen me in my relationship with other believers that we might be built up together in Christ.
August 30 –GROWING IN CHRIST
Matthew 13:23 – The one sown on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.
Jesus taught many aspects of the kingdom of God through parables. Matthew 13:23 is an excerpt from the “parable of the sower.” In this verse, Jesus is describing the effect of God’s word on the person who is like good soil where seed has been sown. The soil represents a human soul. As we have seen previously, the soul is made up of our intellect, emotions, and will. Our soul is in a constant state of growth. No one can say they have arrived in terms of their total understanding of God’s word. Our relationship with the Godhead is constantly developing and growing. Only in eternity will we find full development.
We begin our journey with the Lord like a newborn baby. “Be like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). The key to development and growth in the kingdom of God is a constant hungering for the Word of God. This longing should never disappear! The Holy Spirit gives us the desire to read, to study, and to search out the depths of God’s truths. We should be moving from milk to the meaty food of Scriptures. The writer of Hebrews had to stop a theme he was developing in Hebrews 5, because he realized that his readers were not ready to go further. “Concerning Him, we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing” (Hebrews 5:11).
The Christian life is a life of development and growth. God’s life in us is organic in nature. His life is measurable in our growth and development. That measurable growth can only come through longing for His word, regular times spent in fellowship with Him through prayer and supplication, and a relationship with other believers. All three of these areas are necessary in order to be healthy and growing. These three ingredients will affect growth in your mind, emotions, and will. Relationship with the Father and the Son through the Spirit will provoke much thinking and reshaping of our thought processes. This is also true as we interact with God’s people. It will produce growth which helps us to mature as sons and daughters of God.
Growing and developing can be very painful at times. As this is true physically, it is equally true spiritually. This is why Peter declares that “the apostles were strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God’” (Acts 14:22).
Father, I thank You for the seed which has been sown into the good soil of my life. I am depending on the Holy Spirit to continue to help me in my development and growth. Increase my love for Your word, for prayer, and the fellowship of Your people.
August 29 – RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
John 1:12 – As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.
In John 1:12, Jesus speaks of the most important right an individual can possess, “the right to become a child of God.” The world thinks that we are all God’s children. It is true biblically speaking that our genealogy can be traced back to Adam. The Bible speaks of Adam as “the son of God” (Luke 3:38). Adam lost his standing through sin. God established the law of a “blood sacrifice” in the Garden of Eden when He took the skins of an innocent animal and covered Adam and Eve’s nakedness. Through what God did, we have the first prophetic picture of God’s provision for fallen humankind through His Only Begotten Son. Paul calls Jesus the last Adam who has redeemed us back to God making it possible for each descendant of the first Adam to once again have a “right standing” with God the Father. In our spirit, we have a sure standing as sons and daughters of the living God. Jesus’ victory has secured our standing as children of God.
Paul writes of our relationship with God in his letter to the Romans, “All who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Romans 8:14). The question each believer must ask throughout their life is, “Am I being led by the Spirit of God?” Sons do what the father directs. We live in a society where sons do their own pleasure and this even seems correct. Young people strive for independence. It seems like the goal in child development. Jesus came to do the will of His Father. Even as a child, He understood “being about His Father’s affairs” (Luke 2:49). Later as an adult, Jesus taught, “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 5:30).
Being led by the Spirit of the Father is what sons of God do. The Lord did not save us simply to transport us to heaven. The Father’s plan is to have sons and daughters throughout the earth whose utmost desire is to do His will. The true witness of a son of God is someone who is seeking the Father to know His will in their life so that they may please Him in everything they do. When a person comes to know that their standing before God is absolutely sure, they must do God’s will or simply be unfulfilled in their lives.
My personal experience has been to know absolute fulfillment by doing what the Lord has directed of me. Equally true, I have been miserable when disregarding God’s will and pursuing my own interests. There is a contrast between a child and a son. I know I have the right to be God’s child as Jesus taught in John 1:12. As I mature in my relationship with the Father, I now know I am a son of God because I must do His will as Jesus Himself came to realize.
Father, I thank You I have received Your Son Jesus and have been given the right to be a child of God. Strengthen my resolve to grow in sonship where my earnest desire is to do Your will at all times. Help me in my commitment to Your kingdom purpose.
August 28 – OUR TESTIMONY TO THE WORLD
Acts 8:12 – When they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.
Acts 8:12 is a powerful Scripture that reports a number of things which are very important. First, “many believed” what Philip was declaring. The good news of the kingdom is that the kingdom of God has come, but not in the way many Jews expected. There are many teachings within modern-day Christianity about future events. Not all of the events will happen the way they are being taught. The Lord has given us what He wants us to know about the future. The kingdom of God did not come as an earthly kingdom, as many Jews expected, but rather in the Spirit. Christ was raised from the dead by the Holy Spirit. The promise of God is that we will be raised from the dead by the same Spirit that raised up Christ. (See Romans 8:11). The Spirit brought transformation in human lives, both for Jew and Gentile. The Spirit of God has affected the nations throughout history. It is through the Holy Spirit that God’s rule is known in the earth.
The kingdom that Philip and the apostles preached has a king presently ruling from a heavenly throne. God’s covenant with king David was that his heir would rule on an everlasting throne. Jesus Christ is the son of David that is ruling just like God promised. This is why our message needs to contain both the good news of the kingdom and the name of Jesus Christ, “Savior Messiah.” The good news to the world is that this King has overcome the powers of darkness that rule throughout the nations. This King’s inheritance is the nations. “Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession” (Psalm 2:8). The good news is that God’s servant is reigning as both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:8).
The response of the men and women who believed was that they were baptized into Jesus’ name. They identified with His kingdom as they were born again of the Spirit. In the waters of baptism, they testified to the world that they no longer belonged to this world’s systems, but to Jesus Christ and His kingdom of righteousness.
The kingdom of God that Philip preached was a kingdom of power. Act 8:13 tells us the Simon, who was a sorcerer, also believed as he witnessed the miracles taking place through Philip. The world is filled with skeptics and many that participate with the realms of darkness. They are trying to discover reality, but only the kingdom of God contains the reality they need and that can satisfy. Our witness to the world is a vital part of our Christian life. Our testimony, that begins in the waters of baptism as we are baptized by God’s ministers, should continue with a lifestyle born of the Spirit of God in righteousness and peace. We should expect signs and miracles to happen in and through our lives as we minister to others. Our testimony should not only be in what we believe, but in demonstration as well. The world is waiting for the testimony of Jesus lived out in power in the lives of His people.
Father, I embrace the King and His kingdom. Let my life be a testimony to the world that Jesus is both Lord and Christ.
August 27 – THE TESTIMONY TO THE BELIEVER
Romans 8:16-17 – The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
When one is born again, the spirit of the person has witnesses of God’s work of salvation in the life. Our souls are challenged because they are used to the witness of the world and not the witness of a regenerated human spirit. The Holy Spirit is given to “help” us enter into the full provision of a new creation life. “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation — having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14). The work of God is eternal, but we must learn how to receive His eternal work in our daily walk.
What a tremendous thing our Lord has done for each believer! He sealed us in the blood of Christ. He sealed us in the Holy Spirit who helps us day by day. We stand with a testimony before God and a testimony in our soul. As we have seen in previous devotionals, our s