7 Days of Devotion and Teaching from the Word of God posted usually on Week-Ends
One Step at a Time
I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own.
— Philippians 3:12
Following God is like climbing a mountain. If God showed us how high the mountain really is that He wants us to climb, we might be afraid to take the first step. We might argue that we're not ready, that we're not at all prepared to go all the way to the top. So He covers the top of the summit with a cloud, and all we can see is the step before us. That first step looks manageable, so we take it. And then we take another step, and another, and another, until one day we find ourselves at the top of the mountain without even realizing where we were headed when we began. Then we are very glad we took the journey.
I recall a woman who came to me complaining that she could not hear from God, that He was not speaking to her even though she was seeking Him about some things. Then the Lord told me that there was no point in speaking to her about doing something else until she had done the last thing He had told her, which she had not done yet.
In God's plan for us, we cannot skip steps that we don't like and move on to other ones. We cannot skip the hard steps or the ones that require sacrifice. I repeat: following God's plan for our lives requires investment. We must sacrifice self-will to have God's will. We must sacrifice our way to find His way. Don't be afraid of sacrifice—it eventually sets us free to be all we desire to be.
Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.
— Psalm 37:4
One of the ways God speaks to us is through the sanctified desires of our hearts. God places right desires in our hearts and then He gives us those desires. I remember a time when I had a desire for homemade zucchini bread but had no talent or time to make it. I simply said, “Lord, I sure would like some fresh zucchini bread,” and did not think about it again. About a week later a lady who knew nothing of my desire handed me a box and when I opened it, I found homemade zucchini bread. God delights in doing small and large things for us and we should never fail to appreciate all of them.
We need to ask God to give us sanctified, or holy, desires. We usually have desire for natural things such as success, finances, nice homes, and good relationships, but we should also desire spiritual things. We should desire to know God in a deeper and more intimate way, to always display the fruit of the Spirit, especially love, to serve God in ways that glorify Him, to always be obedient to God, et cetera. Let us ask God to take away fleshly desire and give us sanctified desire.
God puts in us desires that will bring His righteousness, peace, and joy to our lives (see Romans 14:17), and they never disagree with His Word.
Wrong desires torment us and we are impatient about receiving them, but sanctified desire comes with a willingness to wait on God’s ways and timing.
God’s word for you today: Place your desires before God, pray about them and trust God to give them to you if and when they are right for you.
But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness.
— 2 Corinthians 12:9
Come apart and spend some time with God before you come apart. No matter how strong and healthy you are, no matter what your age is, no matter what you think you know, without God you are going to get weary and tired.
God doesn’t get tired, and the Word says He gives power to the faint and weary, and increases strength to those who have no might. But those who wait for the Lord, who expect, look for, and hope in Him, will be renewed (See Isaiah 40:29–31). God is willing to increase your strength. Get alone with Him anytime you need to be strengthened.
God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
— 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV
Have you ever thought how great it would be if you could live without ever having to deal with fear?
Of course, there are healthy fears that alert you to danger in time to avoid it—and these are good because they protect you. But there are many other fears Satan tries to put on you that should not be legitimate concerns. They are False Evidence Appearing Real, and they are intended to keep you from having the power, love, and sound mind God wants you to have.
Fear is a spirit that must be confronted head on—it will not just go away. But God has given you the power to boldly confront your fear and break its hold on your life.
So when fear knocks on your door, send faith to answer!
Jesus said] If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. And You will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.
— John 8:31B-32
In my book Battlefield of the Mind, I also write about Mary’s husband, John, a low-key type person. He was a man who had been verbally abused by his mother and taunted by playmates in childhood. He hated confrontation and couldn’t stand up to Mary’s strong will. In his own way, John was as much a prisoner as his wife. He blamed her; she blamed him—and here we see Satan’s deceptive ways again.
John was convinced that it didn’t do any good to stand up to anyone; he was going to lose anyway. He thought the only way to get along was to be quiet and accept whatever happened.
John also believed another lie of the devil—that he wasn’t truly loved by God. How could he be? He wasn’t worth loving. Because he felt that way, he had believed the devil’s lies. “I felt as if God said to the world, ‘Believe in Jesus and you’ll be saved.’ I got in on some kind of package deal—but I never felt I was worth loving.”
That is one of Satan’s biggest lies: “You are nobody. You are not worth anything.” If the enemy of your mind can convince you that you’re too bad or too worthless, he has set up a stronghold in your mind.
Although John was a Christian, his mind had been imprisoned by his enemy. John has had to learn that he is important to God. For a long time, he did not know the truth. His mother had not told him that he was good, worthwhile, and a child of God. His friends didn’t encourage him, and in the first years of marriage to Mary, her criticism convinced him even further that he was a hopeless failure.
John needs to know that he is loved, and that he is as valuable to the kingdom of God as Paul, Moses, or anybody else. Jesus cares for him, and He is with him. For John to win his battle and cast down the mental strongholds the devil has built, he needs to know the truth. Jesus said, “If you . . . [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free” (John 8:31b–32). John learns truth as he reads God’s Word, prays, and meditates on what it says to him. He also learns as he applies God’s Word in his daily life and has the experience of watching it work as Jesus said it would. Experience is often the best teacher. I have learned from the Word of God and life’s experiences that God’s Word is filled with power and will tear down the strongholds Satan has built in our minds.
You cannot be free unless you know that the weapons of warfare are available to you and that you can learn to use them. As you learn to resist Satan and call him a liar, your life will change dramatically for the better.
Lord God of heaven, remind me that I am important to You and that I am loved by You, even if I don’t feel loved. Help me to learn that I am as important to You as any other Christian and that You love me as much as You love them. I thank You in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
The wicked borrow and pay not again [for they may be unable], but the [uncompromisingly] righteous deal kindly and give [for they are able].
— Psalm 37:21
Take chances today and invest in someone else’s life, especially if God tells you to do so. You may give them something of value only to learn they waste it as they have always done in the past. But remember that God made an investment in you, and He wants you to be willing to make an investment in somebody else.
Jesus died to give everybody a chance. Not everyone takes advantage of His provision, but we all have an equal opportunity to enjoy the abundant life. If you help someone, and they end up not doing what is right with it, that is between them and God. Give thanks that you are able to give, and then do whatever God tells you to do.
We shall not all fall asleep [in death], but we shall all be changed (transformed) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the [sound of the] last trumpet call.
— 1 Corinthians 15:51-52
We all like “suddenlies,” and God promises that whatever remains to be accomplished in us will be done “suddenly” when Jesus returns to the earth. Until then, we can confidently trust He is working in us through His word and Spirit on a regular basis. If you are spending time in God’s word and believing He is doing work in you, then you are changing from one degree of glory to another.
You don’t have to be discouraged about your spiritual growth or in your walk with God, because no matter what remains to be done in the transformation of your old man into your new man, it will be finished at the appearing of Jesus in the heavenlies.
If the devil tries to tell you you’re going to stay the way you are forever, he is lying. God promises in His word that He has begun a good work in you and He also will finish it (see Philippians 1:6).