7 Days of Devotion and Teaching from the Word of God posted usually on Week-Ends
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).
Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea! and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him.
We say that we live in a complicated society, but I believe we are the complicated ones, and we complicate life.
I don't think life is so complicated; I think it is our approach to life that is complicated.
Serving God should not be complicated, and yet it can become very complicated and complex. I believe we are the ones who make it that way. Think about the simple, uncomplicated approach a child has to life. Something that children seem to have in common is this: they are going to enjoy themselves if at all possible.
They are carefree and completely without concern. And they believe what they are told. It is their nature to trust unless they have had an experience in that area that taught them otherwise.
Jesus wants us to grow and mature in our behavior, but He also wants us to remain childlike with an attitude of trust and dependence toward Him. Remember, He told us in John 3:16, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (NKJV, emphasis mine). All He wants to hear us say is, "I believe it."
When God says something to you in your heart or when you read something in the Bible, you should say: "I believe it. If God says that He will prosper me, I believe it.
If He says that I will reap if I give, I believe it. If He says to forgive my enemies, even though it doesn't make any sense to me, I believe it—and, instead of going to beat them up, I am going to do what He says. If He says to pray for my enemies, I believe it, and I am going to do it. If He says to call 'things that are not as though they were,' I believe it, and I am going to do it."
You have turned my mourning into dancing for me; You have put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.
— Psalm 30:11
On a Friday morning in February 1976, I was frustrated and desperate. I was trying to do everything the church said I should do and everything I thought God required of me, but nothing seemed to be working and I was quite disheartened. I knew I needed change in my life, but I wasn’t sure exactly what change I needed. I knew I was searching, but I wasn’t sure what I was searching for.
That morning, I cried out to God and told Him I couldn’t go on any longer. I remember saying, “God, something is missing. I don’t know what it is, but something is missing.”
To my surprise, He spoke to me in what sounded loud enough to be His audible voice, calling my name and talking to me about patience. From that moment on, I knew He was going to do something about my situation. Later that day, in my car, Jesus filled me with the presence of the Holy Spirit in a way I had never before experienced. The best way to describe the feeling is to say I felt someone had poured liquid love into me. I immediately noticed newfound peace, joy, and love resting inside me and flowing out of me, and everyone around me noticed positive changes in my behavior as I began to love others as I never had before.
I got up that morning feeling as though everything had come to a discouraging end. I went to bed that night knowing I was at a place of new beginnings. God often works this way; He speaks and moves suddenly in our lives. Don’t grow weary of waiting on God because today may be your day for a “suddenly.”
No temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear].
But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.
— 1 Corinthians 10:13
Years ago, a comedian’s favorite punch line was, “The devil made me do it.” The audience roared. Why did people laugh so hard? Was it because they wanted it to be true? Did they want to absolve themselves of responsibility for their actions by pointing to an outside force?
It’s always easy to blame someone else or outside forces for our actions. We hear people all the time who tell us, “My father never said a kind word to me.” “My cousin abused me.” “People in our neighborhood shunned me because I wore old and patched clothes.” “I never had money when I was growing up, so now as soon as my paycheck comes, it’s gone.”
Those statements are probably true, and they may explain why we suffer. Those are terrible situations, and it’s sad that people should have to go through such pain in their lives.
Yet we don’t have the right to blame other people or circumstances for our behavior. We can’t use them as an excuse to stay in bondage. Christ came to set us free. In the opening verse, Paul makes it clear that all of us have our own set of temptations, and for each of us, the circumstances may be different. But the promise God gives is the certainty of a way to escape, regardless of our circumstances. The escape is provided, but we must make use of it.
On the morning news, the reporter showed a restaurant that had caught on fire. One woman stood within sight of the back exit but she didn’t move. She stood twenty feet away and screamed. A coworker rushed back inside and grabbed her. She fought him, but he finally managed to drag her out.
Isn’t that sometimes how it works with God’s people? We know the way of escape, but we seem paralyzed. Or we blame someone or something for our inability to move. Or we think, Here it is again. I know I should learn how to deal with these situations, but I’ll give in just as I’ve always given in. I’m too weak to deal with this right now.
Our weakness is one of our greatest excuses. We may be weak, but God is strong, and He is willing to be our strength. If we will trust Him and take the necessary steps of faith, He will help us break free from our bondages.
What we need to understand is that Satan takes our ¬circumstances—no matter what they are—and uses them to build strongholds in our lives. He’ll use whatever he can—our sense of weakness, our problems from childhood, or the wrong things we did when we were twelve years old. If the devil can darken our minds—make us think we can’t possibly win—we’ve lost. We need to keep reminding ourselves that we serve a victorious God who has provided the spiritual weapons we need to tear down the devil’s strongholds.
One more thing: When we give in to the temptation, aren’t we subtly saying that God is not able to help us? We don’t enjoy taking full responsibility for our actions—or, in many cases, our inaction—but we need to. We need to stop feeling sorry for ourselves, shifting blame, and ignoring situations. We need to believe the promise of God that declares He is faithful and will always deliver us in plenty of time.
We don’t need to live in fear, always feeling that our problems are too much for us to handle. We must have a “can-do” attitude. One that says, “I can do whatever I need to do whenever I need to do it.” Sometimes we are even tempted to blame God for our troubles, but we must remember the words previously quoted: “. . . but God is faithful . . . and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted . . . beyond your ability and strength of resistance . . .”
That’s God’s promise, and He lays His reputation on the line with that promise. God never abandons us or leaves us helpless. We can be like the woman who screamed but wouldn’t move. Or we can choose to say, “Look! There’s the door of escape! Thanks for providing it!”
Our problems are personal and they are often internal. They involve our thoughts and our attitudes. The results—the outward behavior—flow from those thoughts and attitudes. If we keep our mind turned toward Jesus, and if we listen to His voice, we know there is an escape route for us—always.
Father God, forgive me for blaming You, my circumstances, or other people for my failures. You are the Way-Maker for me in every temptation. I’m going to trust You to tear down the devil’s strongholds in my mind, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].
—1 John 1:9
Many years ago when I was first developing my relationship with the Lord, each night I would beg His forgiveness for my past sins. One evening as I knelt beside my bed, I heard the Lord say to me, "Joyce, I forgave you the first time you asked, but you have not received My gift of forgiveness because you have not forgiven yourself." Have you received God's gift of forgiveness? If you have not, and you are ready to do so, ask the Lord to forgive you for all your sins right now. Then pray this aloud:
Lord, I receive forgiveness for (name the sin), in Christ Jesus. I forgive myself and accept your gift of forgiveness as my own. I believe that you remove the sin from me completely, putting it at a distance where it can never be found again—as far as the east is from the west. And I believe. Lord, that you remember it no more.
You will find that speaking aloud is often helpful to you because by doing so you are declaring your stand upon God's Word. The devil cannot read your mind but he does understand your words. Declare before all the principalities, powers, and rulers of darkness (See Ephesians 6:12) that Christ has set you free and that you intend to walk in that freedom.
When you speak, sound as though you mean it! If the devil tries to bring that sin to your mind again in the form of guilt and condemnation, repeat your declaration, telling him: "I was forgiven for that sin! It has been taken care of—therefore, I take no care for it."
Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.
— 2 Timothy 2:15
Anyone who wants to hear God’s voice must be a student of the Word. Of all the other ways God may choose to speak to us, He will never contradict the written Word, which was originally referred to by the Greek word logos. His spoken word in the Greek language is referred to as rhema. God specifically brings to our remembrance His logos for every situation. His rhema (spoken word to us) may not be found word for word on the pages of the Bible, but its principles will always be supported by the written Word. In this way, the Bible confirms whether or not what we are hearing is from God.
For example, the logos, the written Word, doesn’t tell us when to buy a new car or what kind to buy. We need the rhema word for that. Even though the Word doesn’t give specific instructions on buying a car, it does say a lot about wisdom. If we think we have “heard” that we are supposed to buy a certain kind of car and then realize such a large purchase would put us into deep debt for several years, we can easily see that buying that car would not be wise and the voice we thought we heard was not God’s.
God’s word for you today: Logos + rhema = wisdom.
I LOVE You fervently and devotedly, O Lord,my
Strength. The Lord is my Rock,my Fortress, and my Deliverer;my God,my keen and firm Strength in Whom I will trust and take refuge,my Shield, and the Horn of my salvation,my High Tower.
— Psalm 18:1-2
God can strengthen us to the point that we can make progress even during trouble. The psalmist said of God, “He makes my feet like hinds’ feet [able to stand firmly or make progress on the dangerous heights of testing and trouble] . . . You have girded me with strength for the battle” (Psalm 18:33, 39 emphasis mine).
Trials and testing do not come to cause us to lose stability. They are opportunities to prove the strength of God.We don’t have to waver in our confidence. Nothing will keep us from making progress today because God is our strength.