Daniel 6:2323 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
John 14:11 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.
Soon after I came to the US as an international student, I realized that I couldn’t get along in the country without a car. So I relied on the generosity of friends to give me rides. In time I began praying to God, expressing my belief that He would provide when He knew I most needed a vehicle. Amazingly, on my birthday before my senior year of college, a family I knew gave me their used car as a gift!
Hannah’s story in 1 Samuel brings inspiration for us to be persistent in our prayer life. Such practice doesn’t guarantee God will give us what we want, but we can be sure He’s there and that He cares. The journey Hannah went through before she received what she asked for was perhaps more important than her request.
Hannah had a painful problem. She couldn’t have children, which in that culture was considered a divine curse (1 Samuel 1:5-6). And if that wasn’t enough, she was being mocked for it as well (1 Samuel 1:6). But in spite of her challenges, year after year she joined her family to worship God at the tabernacle (1 Samuel 1:7). She didn’t give up on God.
On one occasion when she went to worship, Hannah was in such distress that she poured out her heart “in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord ” (1 Samuel 1:10). She could have cursed Him, could have become angry and bitter, or could have stopped praying. Yet she continued to trust in God’s goodness. And in His perfect timing He answered her plea (1 Samuel 1:20).
God is actively engaged in our lives today, and “he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him” (1 John 5:14). May we trust in His goodness even when the answers don’t come or aren’t what we desire
What’s Next To Do?
Be determined to know more than others. If you yourself do not cut the lines that tie you to the dock, God will have to use a storm to sever them and to send you out to sea. Put everything in your life afloat upon God, going out to sea on the great swelling tide of His purpose, and your eyes will be opened. If you believe in Jesus, you are not to spend all your time in the calm waters just inside the harbor, full of joy, but always tied to the dock. You have to get out past the harbor into the great depths of God, and begin to know things for yourself— begin to have spiritual discernment.
When you know that you should do something and you do it, immediately you know more. Examine where you have become sluggish, where you began losing interest spiritually, and you will find that it goes back to a point where you did not do something you knew you should do. You did not do it because there seemed to be no immediate call to do it. But now you have no insight or discernment, and at a time of crisis you are spiritually distracted instead of spiritually self-controlled. It is a dangerous thing to refuse to continue learning and knowing more.
The counterfeit of obedience is a state of mind in which you create your own opportunities to sacrifice yourself, and your zeal and enthusiasm are mistaken for discernment. It is easier to sacrifice yourself than to fulfill your spiritual destiny, which is stated in Romans 12:1-2. It is much better to fulfill the purpose of God in your life by discerning His will than it is to perform great acts of self-sacrifice. “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice…” (1 Samuel 15:22). Beware of paying attention or going back to what you once were, when God wants you to be something that you have never been. “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know…” (John 7:17).
|June 8, 2017
Great Sermons Aren’t Preached, They’re Lived
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)
What if someone followed me around with a video camera all day documenting my every move? Catching all my words, facial expressions, actions and reactions on camera. And then what if someone packaged it all together and played it on some sort of reality TV show for all the world to see? What would be the glaring message of my life?
I’m convicted thinking about this.
You see, if someone were to ask me, What are you all about? I would have some nice-sounding answers. But what actually happens during the strains of everyday life can sometimes betray my best intentions.
I want to be a loving wife and mom. But my family seems to know the exact buttons to push that send me into a tailspin of emotion and exhaustion.
I want to be a strong witness for Christ. So why is it I can read my Bible first thing in the morning and then find myself honking at the person who cuts me off in traffic just an hour later?
I realize there is a place for God’s tender mercies for me in all this. But I also know that while no TV cameras are following me around, my life is speaking a message about what I really believe, and I want that message to honor Jesus.
I once heard, “Great sermons are not preached, they are lived.” Oh how I long to live a message that speaks loud and clear, “Jesus is true and the principles found in His teachings work!”
Let’s just be honest: It’s tough being a sold-out soul for Christ stuck in a body that’s so tempted to sin. That’s why it’s essential I view my time with God each morning as a preparation and an invitation.
• Preparation: Our key verse reminds us, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work,” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Every verse I read is part of God’s preparation for me that day. So, instead of just rushing to check off my to-do list that I spent a few minutes with God, I must allow His teachings to seep into my heart and mind. Then, I can prayerfully ask God to interrupt my natural flesh response and remind me throughout the day of the truths He taught me that morning.
• Invitation: The next essential view of my quiet time each morning is recognizing I’ve just invited Jesus to do life with me, so I need to look for His activity throughout my day. My minute-by-minute theme becomes, “Not my will God, but Yours be done.”
So if something happens that causes my flesh to want to rear up and act ugly, I can say, “Not my will God, but Yours be done.” This slight pause and acknowledgment of God redirects my frustration and replaces it with grace. And most wonderful of all, it helps me connect my time with Jesus to everyday life choices. Making that connection is one of the ways we personally hear from and experience God.
I know sometimes it’s hard to spend time with Jesus first thing in the morning. And I’m certainly not trying to make this just another demand on our time. But Jesus’ invitation to us to sit with Him is such an incredible gift. He loves us so much He wants to help us. He knows what each day holds, and He longs to prepare us for every single thing He sees coming our way.
Let’s accept His invitation to sit with Him. Let’s listen to Him intently. And let’s ask Him to intervene before our natural reactions to things betray our best intentions. Then we will be able to live lives that speak to the fact that we have spent time with Jesus … and without saying a word, our imperfect lives will be a God-honoring sermon.
Dear Lord, please teach me how to reveal more and more of You through the way I live my life. I want to tell the whole world about You using words only when necessary. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.