15 That is why, ever since I heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and of the love you have for Christians everywhere,
16-17 I have never stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you wisdom to see clearly and really understand who Christ is and all that he has done for you.
18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can see something of the future he has called you to share.
I want you to realize that God has been made rich because we who are Christ’s have been given to him!
19 I pray that you will begin to understand how incredibly great His power is to help those who believe Him.
It is that same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in heaven,
21 far, far above any other king or ruler or dictator or leader.
Yes, His honor is far more glorious than that of anyone else either in this world or in the world to come.
22 And God has put all things under His feet and made Him the supreme Head of the Church—
23 which is His body, filled with Himself, the Author and Giver of everything everywhere. ____
Do you remember the story of the Transfiguration?
Jesus was up on the mountain with Peter, James and John.
All of a sudden Jesus became transfigured before their eyes. His face shone like the sun and his clothes as white as the light.
Then Moses and Elijah appeared and talked with Jesus.
Peter wanted to make this experience last forever by setting up a campsite.
But a cloud overshadowed them, and God spoke and said how pleased He was with His Son.
The disciples were so afraid they fell on their faces.
Jesus assured them that everything was okay. And when they lifted up their eyes they saw no one but Jesus only. (Mat 17:1-8)
It’s all about Jesus and our intimacy with Him, through the Holy Spirit who lives inside each one of us.
It’s All About us learning to let go and let God in our life.
Submitting all to God, even our very lives and making Him numeral uno in every area of our life!
SELAH (let us pause and calmly think about these things) ____
Wednesday, Nov 30 My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers
“BY THE GRACE OF GOD I AM WHAT I AM”
“By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain…” —1 Corinthians 15:10
The way we continually talk about our own inabilities is an insult to our Creator.
To complain over our incompetence is to accuse God falsely of having overlooked us.
Get into the habit of examining from God’s perspective those things that sound so humble to men.
You will be amazed at how unbelievably inappropriate and disrespectful they are to Him.
We say things such as, “Oh, I shouldn’t claim to be sanctified; I’m not a saint.”
But to say that before God means, “No, Lord, it is impossible for You to save and sanctify me; there are opportunities I have not had and so many imperfections in my brain and body; no, Lord, it isn’t possible.”
That may sound wonderfully humble to others, but before God it is an attitude of defiance.
Conversely, the things that sound humble before God may sound exactly the opposite to people.
To say, “Thank God, I know I am saved and sanctified,” is in God’s eyes the purest expression of humility.
It means you have so completely surrendered yourself to God that you know He is true.
Never worry about whether what you say sounds humble before others or not.
But always be humble before God, and allow Him to be your all in all.
There is only one relationship that really matters, and that is your personal relationship to your personal Redeemer and Lord.
If you maintain that at all costs, letting everything else go, God will fulfill His purpose through your life.
One individual life may be of priceless value to God’s purposes, and yours may be that life. ____
The hardest thing to do when you’re in a rut is to break free…
For sure it will take most of our energy to do this.
One of the ways that the enemy can gain power in a believer’s life is to have him or her believe that what he says is true.
Jesus called the “Snake,” this” “Turkey” the “Father of liars,” and so you NEVER want to believe anything he says!
But when push comes to shove, as it often does, and you’re faced with the hard realities of your life and the seeming contradiction that you see all around you that seems to go against God’s promises, that’s the time you draw the line in the sand and this is where the battle begins.
Our assignment is to walk by faith and not by sight.
Faith is action, based upon belief in God and the truth of God’s Word, sustained by confidence that when God promises something God will keep that promise… our part is to believe and to give God the first fruits of every morning!
All of this underscores the importance of getting our head on right each morning…
The alarm clock sounds. It is time to get up quickly from bed.
The moment has arrived to offer the first sacrifice to our Lord.
The body says, “No, not yet!” but the soul says, “Yes! It is time!”
And the most important part, the soul, must conquer.
It is the first of the many affirmations of love that, with God’s help, are to come throughout the day.
It is not a matter of thinking that we are better than others, but of struggling with ourselves, aware that the sweetest victory is over ourselves, when it is offered to God.
Conquer yourself each day from the very first moment, getting up on the dot, at a set time, without granting a single minute to laziness.
If, with the help of God, you conquer yourself in that moment, you’ll have accomplished a great deal for the rest of the day.
It’s so discouraging to find yourself beaten in the first skirmish!
Mark tells us, “And in the morning, a great while before day, He [Jesus] rose and went out to a lonely place, and there He prayed” (1:35).
It is in this fashion that our Lord has taught us how to begin the day aright.
This is a good moment to say, “I shall serve!” in daring response to Satan’s suggestion: “I will not serve!”
Together with these first offerings, there could be the first prayer addressed to the entire “company of veiled spectators.”
First among them is the Triune God, to whom we will offer our entire day, each in our own fashion.
Let this be our focus at the start of each day, that… “All my thoughts, all my words, all the actions of this day, I offer to You, Lord, and all out of Love.”
This is all about our learning to start each day in the rhythm of the Holy Spirit; and to maintain that connection and follow His lead throughout the remainder of each day.
SELAH (let us pause and calmly think about these things)
God gave His ALL, in Jesus Christ, to make all of this possible, and so in view of all that God has done for us, may the words of this song be our prayer…
Did you know that you are God’s treasure?
The parable of the treasure in the field appears in Matthew 13:44-45.
Who or what does it represent?
I used to think that the man who found the treasure in the field and the merchant who found the pearl of great value refer to believers.
When they found God (the treasure and the pearl), they give up everything to believe in and follow God.
After further study of these verses, it became very clear to me that It was actually God who bought us with Jesus.
He sent Jesus to be the atonement and sacrifice to reconcile us to Himself.
I realised that I can offer NOTHING to “buy” God. God cannot be BOUGHT!
The man and the merchant, referred to in this parable, refer to God Himself, He was the one who sold everything (Jesus) to obtain the field and therefore the right to the treasure.
And He was the merchant who sold EVERYTHING to buy the pearl of great value.
The value of anything is determined by what people are willing to pay for it.
As God began to open up the meaning of these verses to me, I began to realize that the greatest price ever paid for anything in the history of the world was the price that God the Father paid that our sins may be forgiven and that we could be reconciled back into His family.
That price was Jesus. God sold EVERYTHING in order to buy me.
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER would believe in Him (was born-again and receive Him as both LORD and SAVIOR of their life), that they alone should have eternal life.
God paid the price, in full on Calvary’s Cross, that ONLY those people, who are born-again can be saved and reconciled back into God’s family!
The rhema revelation in the above scripture is that God is talking to each one of us, individually; and He would have given the life of His Son if we were the only one in the world to benefit from it.
Just as we read about Abraham, in Genesis 22, when he was asked to sacrifice Isaac.
Abraham and Sarah had waited all their life, until it was physically impossible, in the natural, for Sarah to bear children.
In Romans 4:16-22 we are told, speaking of Abraham the father of faith…
“That God’s blessings are given to us by faith, as a free gift; we are certain to get them whether or not we follow Jewish customs if we have faith like Abraham’s, for Abraham is the father of us all when it comes to these matters of faith.
That is what the Scriptures mean when they say that God made Abraham the father of many nations.
God will accept all people in every nation who trust God as Abraham did.
And this promise is from God himself, who makes the dead live again and speaks of future events with as much certainty as though they were already past.
So, when God told Abraham that he would give him a son who would have many descendants and become a great nation, Abraham believed God even though such a promise just couldn’t come to pass!
And because his faith was strong, he didn’t worry about the fact that he was too old to be a father at the age of one hundred, and that Sarah his wife, at ninety, was also much too old to have a baby.
But Abraham never doubted. He believed God, for his faith and trust grew ever stronger, and he praised God for this blessing even before it happened.
He was completely sure that God was well able to do anything he promised.
And because of Abraham’s faith God forgave his sins and declared him “not guilty.” ____
You have to know how precious Isaac was to both Abraham and Sarah, after so many years of waiting and then finally having God do this wonderful miracle, and do they impossible, in order to honor His promise that he had given to them 25 years ago, when Abraham was 75 years old.
The lesson here is that, whatever promise God has given us, though it may not come when we are expecting it, but nevertheless, it will eventually come to pass, if we keep our hope, trust and reliance upon Jesus, and hold on to our faith!
God was testing Abraham here, and another lesson that we can learn from these verses is that when God gives you a gift, it doesn’t really become yours to enjoy, until you give it back to Him.
As this story turned out, in Genesis 22, God’s spared Isaac, but 1800 years later was when God the Father offered His only begotten Son, for us on Calvary’s Cross.
This gift of salvation, so it comes to us free of charge, it did not come cheap!
So as it says in Romans 8:32,
“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”
God’s plan for us cost Him dearly.
He “did not spare His own Son” (cf. Gen. 22).
Having made the greatest possible sacrifice for us already, we can be assured that He will also do WHATEVER else may be necessary (“give us all things”) to conform us to the image of His Son (cf. 2 Pet. 1:3).
Do you ever think that because you aren’t good enough for God, He will not save you?
Do you ever feel as if salvation is for everyone else but you?
Then these verses are especially for you.
If God gave His Son for you, He isn’t going to hold back the gift of salvation!
If Jesus gave His life for you, why would He turn around and condemn you?
He will not withhold anything you need to live for Him.
The book of Romans is more than a theological explanation of God’s redeeming grace—it is a letter of comfort and confidence addressed to both you and me.
So with all of this in mind, let’s read the following scripture, taken from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus is instructing His disciples how to live a life that is dedicated to and pleasing to God, free from hypocrisy, full of love and grace, full of wisdom and discernment.
Matthew 6:6-15, 25-31 The Message Bible
6 “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God.
Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage.
The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.
7-13 “The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant.
They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God.
Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need.
With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:
“Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are.
Set the world right; Do what’s best— as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge! You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes.”
14-15 “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do.
You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others.
If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.
25-26 “If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion.
There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body.
Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God.
And you count far more to him than birds.
27-29 “Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch?
All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference?
Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers.
They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it?
The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
30-33 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?
What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving.
People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works.
Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions.
Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
SELAH (let us pause and calmly think about these things)
We must learn to cast the entirety of our faith, our life and all our circumstances on Jesus…
“The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day is to have my soul happy in the Lord.” — George Mueller
It’s all about getting our head on right each morning for the battle ahead.
We were never intended to make this trip of life alone.
The Bible makes it clear that we have been created for God’s pleasure, to have 24/7 365 communion and fellowship with Him.
Without this vertical connection with God being solid in our life, we are all like fish out of water, flopping around on the shores of life looking for our way back home.
In Isaiah 43, God tells us that we belong to Him, that we are His and He knows each of us by name.
So He says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.
Like what happened with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (see Daniel 3), God never promises to keep us from the fire, but to walk with us through it.
So when you find yourself pressed in on all sides and walking through the fires of life, never look at what you’re walking through; rather look at Whom you are walking with.
We are ALL such leaky vessels and so we must be filled and refilled with the Holy Spirit at the start of each day.
This refilling process starts each morning, as we get into God’s presence.
What follows is the protocol for us to enter God’s presence:
A Song of Praise for the Lord’s Faithfulness to His People A Psalm of Thanksgiving.
1 Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
2 Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing.
3 Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
5 For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations. ____
1. Start off your day by giving God the first fruits of your day, by scheduling some quiet/alone time with God each morning.
2. Get yourself on a Bible reading program where you will read through the entire Bible at least once a year, that we may have the full Counsel of God’s Word to benefit from.
The Old Testament unfolds in the New; and the New Testament is infolded in the Old.
Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that,
“All Scripture (all 66 books) is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
There are a total of 66 books that we have to familiarize ourselves with and meditate in, in order that we may understand and rightly divide God’s Word of Truth
3. And have to have finished your devotional reading of the Scriptures, be ready to devote at least 15 to 20 minutes praying in the spirit and listening in your spirit, in order to hear whatever rhema knowledge the Holy Spirit might want to impart to you for the day ahead. ____
Monday, Nov 21 From God at Eventide
We are to be Glad in the Lord…
God says, “Wait before Me with a song of praise in your hearts. Sing unto Me a new song.
There will always be something in each day for which to thank Me.
The importance of our leaving the past behind and moving forward into the future God has prepared for us…
I just read this from the introduction to a book I’m reading about navigating through the storms of life:
“Because my father was the parent who slept lightly, he was the one we awakened if we felt sick or troubled in the middle of the night.
There was always a soft night light glowing by the radio in the kitchen, and I’d find my way to the kitchen table while my father set about making two cups of tea.
As we waited for the water to boil he would open the back door and look out at the night sky.
He reassured me many times that morning would soon come, and that the things that were frightening in the dark were always more hopeful in the light. But it was when I faced the emotional dark of broken dreams and deep disappointment that they came alive.
I carried that promise with me, and as I grew up and left home I often remembered the hope of those words in the literal dark of night.” — Paula D’Arcy
There’s this book that I remember reading called “The Dark Night of the Soul,” by St John of the Cross (1542-1591).
The Dark Night of the Soul” is a term that is commonly used to describe a period of spiritual transformation and growth, as we allow the Lord to heal those areas from our past that are interfering with our forward progress.
It kind of reminds me of what the author of the Letter to the Hebrews is saying;
About getting rid of the excess baggage from our past, in order that we may run the race that is before us:
Hebrews 12:1-2 The Voice
12 So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cloud of witnesses, let us drop every extra weight, every sin that clings to us and slackens our pace, and let us run with endurance the long race set before us.
[We may feel alone, but we aren’t. We are surrounded by an army of witnesses. They have run the race of faith and finished well. It is now our turn.]
2 Now stay focused on Jesus, who designed and perfected our faith.
He endured the cross and ignored the shame of that death because He focused on the joy that was set before Him; and now He is seated beside God on the throne, a place of honor. ____
Also Luke, in his gospel, gives us the following account, regarding the cost of discipleship:
Luke 9:57-62 The Voice
57 Farther along on the road, a man volunteered to become a disciple.
Volunteer: I’ll follow You to any destination.
Jesus: 58 Foxes are at home in their burrows. Birds are at home in their nests. But the Son of Man has no home.
59 You (to another person)—I want you to follow Me!
Another Volunteer: I’d be glad to, Teacher, but let me first attend to my father’s funeral.
Jesus: 60 Let the dead bury their dead. I’m giving you a different calling—to go and proclaim the kingdom of God.
A Third Volunteer: 61 I’ll come, Jesus. I’ll follow You. But just let me first run home to say good-bye to my family.
Jesus: 62 Listen, if your hand is on the plow but your eyes are looking backward, then you’re not fit for the kingdom of God. ____
Do you remember the story about the woman at the well, and how Jesus promised her that living water would flow out of her innermost being?
David spoke of something similar in the Psalms:
You attend to the earth and water it; with abundance You enrich it.
The Streams of God are full of water, for You prepare our grain by providing (abundantly) for all the earth. ____
There is a life force from the River of God flowing through the universe, and everything exists in a single moment, forever unfolding.
Perhaps this was what Jesus was speaking of when he was speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well, in John chapter 4:13…
“Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst.
But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” ____
Jesus explained that He was not really speaking about literal water, but a spiritual source of refreshment and fulfillment that satisfied completely.
To be able to provide such water, Jesus would indeed have to be “greater” than Jacob, who originally dug the well they were drawing water from.
Jesus described this water that He talked about as a “welling (springing) up,” source of life, within the individual.
Clearly He was referring to the “Holy Spirit” who provides eternal life.
As in His conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus again alluded to the Old Testament passages that promised salvation pouring forth like satisfying water.
The water that Jesus promised provided satisfaction without hard work to acquire it, in contrast to the literal water that the woman had to draw out of the well.
Many spiritual functions parallel physical functions.
As our bodies hunger and thirst, so do our souls.
But our souls need spiritual food and water.
The woman confused the two kinds of water, perhaps because no one had ever talked with her about her spiritual hunger and thirst before.
We would not think of depriving our bodies of food and water when they hunger or thirst.
Why, then, should we deprive our souls?
The living Word, Jesus Christ, and the written Word, the Bible, is the only thing that can satisfy our hungry and thirsty souls.
Having forsaken all, let us leave the past in the past and follow Jesus, wherever He will lead us.
So let us open ourselves up to this stream of life.
Allow the Holy Spirit to heal our past and purify us, so that the past is no longer our lens to the future—so that the past can no longer interfere with the destiny God has for us.
What will it be like to look without fear or negative expectation, to see things through God’s eyes, pursuant to the future He has planned for us, with nothing in the way?
SELAH (let us pause and calmly think about these things)
Solomon instructs that God must build and bless the house and city, and that any activity attempted without the Lord is launched in vain.
Psalm 127:1-2 A song of Solomon for those journeying to worship.
[Psalm 127 is attributed to Solomon, underscoring the futility of human endeavor apart from God. It is similar in tone and theme to other wisdom literature.]
1 Unless the Lord builds a house, its builders labor over it in vain; unless the Lord watches over a city, the watchman stays alert in vain.
2 In vain you get up early and stay up late, working hard to have enough food— yes, he gives sleep to the one he loves.
15 In a dream, in a vision of the night, When deep sleep falls upon men, While slumbering on their beds,
16 Then He opens the ears of men, And seals their instruction.
17 In order to turn man from his deed, And conceal pride from man, ____
How God Programs Your Mind While You Sleep!
God speaking: “I do not waste the time I have given my children upon this earthly realm.”
Please note, this article will be prophetic in nature, yet will require your physical activation to manifest the results in your life.
If applied with faith and a conscious awareness, I truly believe it can be one of the greatest assets in your spiritual walk.
As I approached my bedside table to lay my phone on the wireless charging mat, I noticed a little red notification light.
After picking the phone up again, I tapped the notification.
“Your system will be updated tonight at midnight.”
Imagine what it would be like to approach your sleep with a positive sense of anticipation.
You look forward to enjoying God’s Presence in the night hours.
You feel safe, at peace, and secure.
You believe that God will impart to you Divine blueprints, strategies and creative ideas as you sleep.
You anticipate encountering the Holy Spirit through prophetic dreams and songs in the night.
You know that you will wake up rested to begin your new day with God.
So I rested the phone back on the charger, and could only imagine that somewhere in silicon valley, a group of programmers had developed a series of code that would be sent to my phone and without me understanding ANY of it – the device will work better and will work in synchronicity with all of the apps I have installed, as well as the other telephones in the world.
The CODE – the update, is the key to turning this glob of metal and glass into the powerful machine that it is.
But, only if the phone is UPDATED.
When a man sleeps the Lord seals instruction.
The Lord does not waste time, and while we are sleeping He redeems that time for us to be instructed and protected.
The Lord does not only instruct – He seals – which means He implants the teaching in protection.
Why? To protect you from your own pride, your own deeds, and to protect you from the pit.
Why in the night?
Allow me to explain the extraordinary way that the mind works and how wonderful God is in that creation.
Now, there are a number of reasons that the Lord speaks in the night during our rest, I am going to cover just one reason I believe he chose this method.
When you are faced with any instruction or insight in the world, from a conscious place of awareness, your mind will often negate or distort the thought.
Negate means to remove the thought – to dismiss the thought.
To distort a thought, is to simply change the instruction or idea to make it ‘fit’ within your normal range of belief.
Now, understand the distortion or negation occurs within fractions of a second on an unconscious level.
We hear the truth many times throughout our day, yet our mind will quickly distort the thought, or simply ignore/delete the idea.
Yet, when a thought enters the unconscious mind, it bypasses the conscious awareness filters, and allows the instruction from God to be accepted and activated in our life!
Now without going into a deep teaching on neurology, I simply want you to understand that when asleep we receive information without conscious filters.
This is why many of your dreams seem as though they are real life, and you can even wake up excited, scared, or angry at someone because of a dream.
We see in scripture many times that an angel would come and instruct, while the person was asleep… This is one way God chooses to seal up instruction in our mind.
However, many times, in fact most of the time, He will not send a blazing angel before you in your dreams.
Often it will be symbolism, emotions, and yes even those dreams that you do not remember.
This prevents our conscious filter from distorting or negating the important instructions!
I truly believe that most of the time the instruction is not even in a dream that you will remember, but just as a phone can be updated by code throughout the evening, I believe the Lord speaks into our mind and aligns our walk with His.
What if you could wake up in the morning, with absolute conviction that the Lord has sealed up instruction, and that you would begin to walk in the will of God, not as a robot… but as one who has surrendered to the instruction and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
I ask you to take time today and read Job 33, and then as you rest this evening, pray that the Lord would give you instruction in the night… This is a place of surrender that allows the Holy Spirit to form and transform your life!
I would like to say that since I began to actively pray this, that is the activation, I have had many prophetic dreams and insights.
More importantly I believe there is a much deeper level of instruction in guidance that I may never consciously be aware of, but I trust my creator to re-create and transform my life.
“Lord, I surrender my mind in the night as well as the day, and I ask you to seal up instruction and guidance as I sleep.
Open the realms of prophetic insight and align my mind and my daily walk with your Kingdom and the purpose you hold for my life.
I surrender to your perfect will and divine instruction in Jesus’ holy name.”
(Written by Wayne Sutton – a prophetic counselor)
SELAH (let us pause and calmly think about these things) ____
I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me (Php 4:13)…
Could Paul possibly mean this?
Did the apostle really believe that there was nothing he could not do?
The answer is this: When the Apostle Paul said that he could do all things, he meant ALL things which were God’s will for him to do.
He had learned that the Lord’s commands are the Lord’s enablements.
He knew that God would never call on him to accomplish some task without giving the necessary grace.
All things probably applies not so much to great feats of daring as to great privations and hungerings.
How could Paul be content?
His contentment did not come through will power or the power of positive thinking.
Paul was not a member of the Stoic philosophic school.
It was Jesus Christ who enabled him to be content.
“The secret of Paul’s independence was his dependence upon Another.
His self-sufficiency in reality came from being in vital union with One who is all-sufficient.”
Earlier in this letter, Paul explained that the most important thing in life was to center on Christ (2:7-11).
Contentment is a fruit of doing that.
“All things,” in the context here, included being content with little or much materially, but Christ can enable His children to do many other and even greater things than this (cf. Matt. 19:26; Luke 1:37).
“Paul . . . never allowed his weaknesses or perceived weaknesses to be an excuse for inactivity, or for a failure to attempt the impossible task.
They in a sense became his greatest assets, and surrendering them to Christ he discovered that they were transformed for his own enrichment and for the enrichment of others.”
Paul spoke from experience. He had been through the extremes: surplus and poverty.
He knew how to weather the dangers of both.
This was his secret. Greek and Roman religions had secret initiation rites.
Some religions and philosophies prided themselves on secret knowledge.
Can we really do everything?
We receive all the power we need in union with Christ when we do His will and face the challenges that arise from our doing it.
He does not grant us superhuman ability to accomplish anything we can imagine without regard to His interests.
As we contend for the faith, we will face troubles, pressures, and trials.
What does God want you to do?
Step out in faith and do it, trusting Him for the strength you will need.
Paul had a different kind of secret. His secret was his reliance on Christ, a reliance gained through his Christian experience. ____
Keep your chin up, for greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.
1 Corinthians 1:1-9 The Message
1-2 I, Paul, have been called and sent by Jesus, the Messiah, according to God’s plan, along with my friend Sosthenes.
I send this letter to you in God’s church at Corinth, believers cleaned up by Jesus and set apart for a God-filled life.
I include in my greeting all who call out to Jesus, wherever they live.
He’s their Master as well as ours!
3 May all the gifts and benefits that come from God our Father, and the Master, Jesus Christ, be yours.
4-6 Every time I think of you—and I think of you often!—I thank God for your lives of free and open access to God, given by Jesus.
There’s no end to what has happened in you—it’s beyond speech, beyond knowledge.
The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your lives.
7-9 Just think—you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all!
All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale.
And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus.
God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus.
He will NEVER give up on you. Never forget that. ____
Sosthenes may have been Paul’s secretary who wrote down this letter as Paul dictated it.
He was probably the Jewish synagogue leader in Corinth who had been beaten during an attack on Paul (Acts 18:17) and then later became a believer.
Sosthenes was well known to the members of the Corinthian church, so Paul included his familiar name in the opening of the letter.
Paul wrote this letter to Corinth during his three-year visit in Ephesus on his third missionary journey.
The two cities sat across from each other on the Aegean Sea, and both were busy and important ports.
Titus may have carried this letter from Ephesus to Corinth (2 Corinthians 12:18).
Here’s the setting:
Corinth, a giant cultural melting pot with a great diversity of wealth, religions, and moral standards, had a reputation for being fiercely independent and as decadent as any city in the world.
The Romans had destroyed Corinth in 146 BC after a rebellion.
But in 46 BC, the Roman emperor Julius Caesar rebuilt it because of its strategic seaport.
By Paul’s day (AD 50), the Romans had made Corinth the capital of Achaia (present-day Greece).
It was a large city, offering Rome great profits through trade as well as the military protection of its ports.
But the city’s prosperity made it ripe for all sorts of corruption.
Idolatry flourished, and more than a dozen pagan temples employed at least a thousand prostitutes.
Corinth’s reputation was such that female prostitutes in other cities began to be called “Corinthian girls.”
A personal invitation makes a person feel wanted and welcome.
We are “called by God to be His own holy people.”
God personally invites us to be citizens of His eternal Kingdom.
Only Jesus Christ, God’s Son, can bring us into this glorious Kingdom because only He can remove our sins.
“To be made holy” (or sanctified) means that we are chosen and set apart by Christ for His service.
We accept God’s invitation by accepting the truth that only His Son, Jesus Christ, can bring us into God’s presence and by trusting that what Jesus did on the cross can forgive our sins.
By including a salutation to “all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Paul makes it clear that this is not a private letter; it may have been circulated to other churches in nearby cities.
Although the letter deals with specific issues facing the church in Corinth, all believers can learn from it.
The Corinthian church included a great cross section of believers—wealthy merchants, common laborers, former temple prostitutes, and middle-class families.
Because of the wide diversity of people and backgrounds, Paul takes great pains to stress the need for both spiritual unity and Christlike character.
How do we receive grace and peace from God? Grace—God’s free gift of salvation—is freely offered, even though we don’t deserve it.
All we have to do is accept it.
We do this by believing what God says—that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross, taking the penalty for our sins upon Himself so that we are free to enjoy eternal life with Him.
When we truly believe this, we will follow Jesus as our Lord because He is perfect and right in all he does.
By accepting this greatest of gifts, we will have peace of mind and heart because we know our eternal future is secure and that Jesus cares for us and guides us here and now.
With Him by our side every day, we have nothing to fear.
Paul thanked God for the Corinthian believers.
On certain occasions, we specifically focus on our blessings and express our gratitude to God for them.
But thanks should be expressed every day.
We can never say thank you enough to parents, friends, leaders, and especially to God.
When thanksgiving becomes an integral part of your life, you will find that your attitude will change.
You will become more positive, gracious, loving, and humble.
Whom do you need to thank today?
The Corinthian church members had all the spiritual gifts they needed to live the Christian life, to witness for Jesus, and to stand against the paganism and immorality of Corinth.
But instead of using what God had given them, they were arguing over which gifts were most important.
Paul addresses this issue in depth in 1 Corinthians 12 through 14.
Before tackling the problems, Paul described his hope for the Corinthians.
He guaranteed these believers that God would keep them strong to the end and consider them free from all blame when Christ returns (also see Ephesians 1:7-10).
This guarantee was not because of their great abilities, spiritual gifts, or shining performances but because of what Jesus Christ accomplished for them through His death and resurrection.
All who believe in the Lord Jesus are in partnership with Him and will be considered blameless when He returns (also see 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Hebrews 9:28).
Today’s struggles, difficulties, and failures don’t tell the whole story.
Keep the big picture in mind. If you have faith in Jesus, even if it is weak, you are and will be saved.
Like a frustrated coach watching his team bicker on the court, Paul called for a time-out.
He saw the danger of divisions and arguments.
The Corinthian believers’ lack of unity was obvious.
They may have been playing in the same “uniform,” but they were doing as much as the opposition to bring about their own defeat.
The problems weren’t so much differences of opinion as divided allegiances.
They were arguing over which position on the team was most important in a way that made them ineffective as a unit.
Harmony is beautiful—in families, in friendships, at work, at church.
Harmony, however, does not require everyone to hold the same opinions about everything.
There is a difference between having opposing viewpoints and being divisive.
Someone once told me that the church is like a university, which means diversity in Oneness.
A group of people will not agree on every issue, but they can work together harmoniously if they agree on what truly matters—Jesus Christ as Lord of all.
Focus on Jesus and the purpose He has for you.
Speak and act in a way that will reduce arguments and increase harmony.
Petty differences should never divide Christians.
Christians must focus on Christ to understand God’s will. Human wisdom won’t do it. ____
From Max Lucado’s Life Lessons…
One of my Boy Scout assignments was to build a kite.
One of my blessings as a Boy Scout was a kite-building dad.
He built a lot of things: scooters on skates, go-carts.
Why, he even built our house.
A kite to him was stick figures to Van Gogh.
Could handle them in his sleep. With wood glue, poles, and newspaper, we fashioned a sky-dancing masterpiece: red, white, and blue, and shaped like a box.
We launched our creation on the back of a March wind. But after some minutes, my kite caught a downdraft and plunged.
I tightened the string, raced in reverse, and did all I could to maintain elevation.
But it was too late. She Hindenburged earthward.
Envision a redheaded, heartsick twelve-year-old standing over his collapsed kite.
That was me.
Envision a square-bodied man with ruddy skin and coverall, placing his hand on the boy’s shoulder.
That was my kite-making dad.
He surveyed the heap of sticks and paper and assured, “It’s okay. We can fix this.”
I believed him. Why not? He spoke with authority.
So does Christ. To all whose lives feel like a crashed kite, He says, “We can fix this. Let Me teach you.
Let Me teach you how to handle your money, long Mondays, and cranky in-laws.
Let Me teach you why people fight, death comes, and forgiveness counts.
But most of all, let Me teach you why on earth you are on this earth.”
Don’t we need to learn?
We know so much, and yet we know so little.
The age of information is the age of confusion: much know-how, hardly any know-why.
We need answers. Jesus offers them. But can we trust Him?
Only one way to know. (From 3:16 by Max Lucado) ____
Human wisdom tells us to get as much as we can, believe only what we can see, enjoy pleasure, and avoid pain.
God’s wisdom tells us to give all we can, believe what we can’t see, enjoy service, and expect persecution.
Trust makes all the difference.
Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things) ____
Putting off the Old Man and Putting on the New (3:1–17)…
Read Colossians 3
In chapter 3, Paul tells the Colossian believers: Fellow believers in Colosse, since you have been given new life by Christ, who is now exalted in heaven, it is only right that you focus your aspirations on heavenly things.
A deep personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ will transform every area of our lives.
The new life you have because of your identification with Christ should cause you to discard the ugly remnants of your former lifestyle and display the Christlike character appropriate to your new life.
The Word of Christ should take up comfortable residence in your hearts, and all your activities and relationships should be viewed with spiritual significance.
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
The IF of this verse does not express any doubt in the mind of the Apostle Paul.
It is what has been called the “If” of argument, and may be translated since:
“Since then you were raised together with Christ….
As mentioned in chapter 2, the believer is seen as having died with Christ, having been buried with Him, and having risen with Him from among the dead.
The spiritual meaning of all this is that we have said good-bye to the former way of life, and have entered upon a completely new type of life, that is, the life of the risen Lord Jesus Christ.
“Spirituality involves the whole of human life; nothing is nonspiritual…
In fact, spirituality is to be expressed primarily in the ordinary everyday affairs and relationships of our lives.” (Ranald Macaulay and Jerram Barrs)
Because we have been raised with Christ, we should seek those things which are above.
We are still on earth, but we should be cultivating heavenly ways.
God . . . changes the man by changing the mind. And how does it happen?
By doing what you are doing right now.
Considering the glory of Christ.
“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 by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
To behold Him is to become like Him.
As Christ dominates your thoughts, He changes you from one degree of glory to another until—hang on!—you are ready to live with Him.
Heaven is the land of sinless minds.
Virus-free thinking. Absolute trust.
No fear or anger.
Shame and second-guessing are practices of a prior life.
Heaven will be wonderful, not because the streets are gold, but because our thoughts will be pure.
So what are you waiting on?
Apply God’s antivirus.
“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2).
Give Him your best thoughts, and see if He doesn’t change your mind.
Ask yourself, is your relationship with Jesus noticeable by your words?
Ask God for a vocabulary that reflects love for others without any bitterness or hate.
Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)
Tuesday, Nov 15 Anchor Devotional
“Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” — Colossians 3:1
In Ephesians 2:10, Paul reminds us that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.
We are redeemed as His people and equipped for serving Him. But we also are surrounded with troubles where issues of race and culture separate and cause conflict among us.
And furthermore, we can be easily caught up in our good works, forgetting how we have been raised in Christ.
Before we know it, we’ve lost our focus on “things above.”
We need to remind ourselves often of the backdrop of eternity that illuminates all we do.
“Do not let the world squeeze you into its mold,” J.B. Phillips tells us in his modern English version of Romans 12:2.
We are in Jesus, the risen Christ.
Since our relationship is intimate and complete, we can carry on in our day-to-day tasks as well as our good works with a new, heavenly perspective.
J.C. Ryle, an English evangelical Anglican bishop in the 1800s, said,
“Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people, and those who enter shall find they are neither unknown nor unexpected.”