Jesus Christ is saying here, “Don’t rejoice in your successful service for Me, but rejoice because of your right relationship with Me.” The trap you may fall into in Christian work is to rejoice in successful service— rejoicing in the fact that God has used you. Yet you will never be able to measure fully what God will do through you if you do not have a right-standing relationship with Jesus Christ. If you keep your relationship right with Him, then regardless of your circumstances or whoever you encounter each day, He will continue to pour “rivers of living water” through you (John 7:38). And it is actually by His mercy that He does not let you know it. Once you have the right relationship with God through salvation and sanctification, remember that whatever your circumstances may be, you have been placed in them by God. And God uses the reaction of your life to your circumstances to fulfill His purpose, as long as you continue to “walk in the light as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7).
Our tendency today is to put the emphasis on service. Beware of the people who make their request for help on the basis of someone’s usefulness. If you make usefulness the test, then Jesus Christ was the greatest failure who ever lived. For the saint, direction and guidance come from God Himself, not some measure of that saint’s usefulness. It is the work that God does through us that counts, not what we do for Him. All that our Lord gives His attention to in a person’s life is that person’s relationship with God— something of great value to His Father. Jesus is “bringing many sonsto glory . . .” (Hebrews 2:10).
“Mary responded, ‘I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.’ And then the angel left her.” Luke 1:38 (NLT)
Lord, I’m not sure I can take one more rejection.
No. No. No. Every email I received said the same thing, using different words. We don’t publish that type of book. We don’t publish writers we don’t know. We won’t publish you.
Letting each rejection seep into my heart, many days I crawled into bed and cried. Why would God ask me to do something good, yet allow a process that made me feel so bad?
But then I remembered Mary, who was much wiser than I. Her story is found in the Bible. Instead of building her confidence on something she could lose, or have taken away, she built her confidence on God.
Picture this teenager. She’s engaged to a great guy. Wedding plans are in motion. Life is good.
Then suddenly, her happily-ever-after dreams are interrupted by an angel announcing this surprise:
“Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out!
God be with you” (Luke 1:28, MSG).
Flattered? Nope. She was scared! However, the angel assures her, “You have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus” (v. 29-33).
My reaction would have been, What? Pregnant? I’m not married yet! There’s no way!
But when Mary received this news, we don’t see fear or doubt. Her response isn’t, “This will be the end of me! What will everyone say about me?”
Mary doesn’t ditch her confidence. Instead, as we find in today’s key verse, her reaction is grounded in faith: “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true” (Luke 1:38a).
Mary responded with confidence because Mary’s confidence began with her relationship with God.
Not on something, like her reputation. That was outside her control.
Not on someone, like Joseph. For all she knew, he would leave her once he learned she was pregnant.
Not on some place, like her home. Mary actually left town to visit her cousin after she received this news.
Did Mary understand everything God was doing? Unlikely. Or resent what He was doing? Doesn’t appear so.
Would others judge her? No doubt they would, but Mary did not allow people’s opinions to prevent her from embracing God’s calling, even if she didn’t completely understand it. The lack of details didn’t impact her confidence in His plans for her life, nor her trust in Him to take care of her.
There have been times when I’ve based my confidence on others. As a teenager, I based it on a boyfriend’s affection, a coach’s affirmation or my parent’s approval. If one of them failed to give the “Atta girl!” I craved, I saw myself as a failure.
As a mom, I’ve built it on my kids and their performance. When they made a mistake, my confidence was shaken. I’ve based my security on my career and the success I wanted. Success hasn’t always come, although rejection often has.
Has there been a time when circumstances were less than perfect and your confidence was shaken?
I’m learning that unshakable confidence is not built on someone, something or someplace, but on our unshakable God. This confidence is built over time, before confidence-shaking circumstances come. In the difficult times, God has taught me He alone is my firm foundation for rebuilding confidence. Only Him.
As we face inevitable uncertainties in life, in our relationships, in our futures, let’s start to rebuild our confidence on the One that can never be taken away: God. The only One who will never leave us or forsake us.
Lord, it’s easier to build my confidence on what I can see and what I know. Help me to build my confidence on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions
Judges 6:11-14 Now the Angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!” Gideon said to Him, “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us?And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.” Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?”
Biblical Hebrew uses a grammatical form called “s’michut”. This form joins two words together to form a single word form. We have this in English: for example, a door and a knob are two nouns, which are used to form the word “doorknob”, a compound noun. This form of joining nouns is found in Judges 6:12. The expression, “Angel of the Lord” is rendered, “angel-YHVH”; (Yud-Hay-Vav-Hay); in modern English — “angel-Yehovah”. Then, suddenly, the narrative changes from “angel-Yehovah” to simply, “Yehovah”. Here we see another appearance of YHVH in human form in the Old Testament. The God-Man, Yeshua in a “pre-incarnate” appearance.
When Gideon was called to fight the Midianites, he felt inadequate, unequipped and the weakest among his brethren — but the Lord called him “you mighty man of valor”! Isn’t it always interesting how God calls the weak things of this world to confound the natural wisdom of the world [1 Cor 1:18-21]? And sometimes He sees right through their perception of themselves, and calls them “mighty” !
Gideon, in the midst of overwhelming circumstances, felt as many feel today: weak, abandoned by God, wondering, “Where are you LORD?” But when the Lord suddenly shows up to call us to be part of His solution, what will we say? What will we do? Because He knows who we are deep inside, and He knows how to empower the weak to perform His works for His glory.
If you find yourself asking, “Where are you LORD?”, you might want to prepare yourself to be the answer to the problem. Because He might just “show up” and give you an “impossible” commission, then equip you with the strategy for victory. Even you, alone, with the LORD, are an army that no enemy wants to face!
“Wait on the Lord.”
It may seem an easy thing to wait, but it is one of the postures which a Christian soldier learns not without years of teaching. Marching and quick-marching are much easier to God’s warriors than standing still. There are hours of perplexity when the most willing spirit, anxiously desirous to serve the Lord, knows not what part to take. Then what shall it do? Vex itself by despair? Fly back in cowardice, turn to the right hand in fear, or rush forward in presumption? No, but simply wait. Wait in prayer, however. Call upon God, and spread the case before him; tell him your difficulty, and plead his promise of aid. In dilemmas between one duty and another, it is sweet to be humble as a child, and wait with simplicity of soul upon the Lord. It is sure to be well with us when we feel and know our own folly, and are heartily willing to be guided by the will of God. But wait in faith. Express your unstaggering confidence in him; for unfaithful, untrusting waiting, is but an insult to the Lord. Believe that if he keep you tarrying even till midnight, yet he will come at the right time; the vision shall come and shall not tarry. Wait in quiet patience, not rebelling because you are under the affliction, but blessing your God for it. Never murmur against the second cause, as the children of Israel did against Moses; never wish you could go back to the world again, but accept the case as it is, and put it as it stands, simply and with your whole heart, without any self-will, into the hand of your covenant God, saying, “Now, Lord, not my will, but thine be done. I know not what to do; I am brought to extremities, but I will wait until thou shalt cleave the floods, or drive back my foes. I will wait, if thou keep me many a day, for my heart is fixed upon thee alone, O God, and my spirit waiteth for thee in the full conviction that thou wilt yet be my joy and my salvation, my refuge and my strong tower.”
“Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed.”
“I have seen his ways, and will heal him.”
It is the sole prerogative of God to remove spiritual disease. Natural disease may be instrumentally healed by men, but even then the honour is to be given to God who giveth virtue unto medicine, and bestoweth power unto the human frame to cast off disease. As for spiritual sicknesses, these remain with the great Physician alone; he claims it as his prerogative, “I kill and I make alive, I wound and I heal;” and one of the Lord’s choice titles is Jehovah-Rophi, the Lord that healeth thee. “I will heal thee of thy wounds,” is a promise which could not come from the lip of man, but only from the mouth of the eternal God. On this account the psalmist cried unto the Lord, “O Lord, heal me, for my bones are sore vexed,” and again, “Heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee.” For this, also, the godly praise the name of the Lord, saying, “He healeth all our diseases.” He who made man can restore man; he who was at first the creator of our nature can new create it. What a transcendent comfort it is that in the person of Jesus “dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily!” My soul, whatever thy disease may be, this great Physician can heal thee. If he be God, there can be no limit to his power. Come then with the blind eye of darkened understanding, come with the limping foot of wasted energy, come with the maimed hand of weak faith, the fever of an angry temper, or the ague of shivering despondency, come just as thou art, for he who is God can certainly restore thee of thy plague. None shall restrain the healing virtue which proceeds from Jesus our Lord. Legions of devils have been made to own the power of the beloved Physician, and never once has he been baffled. All his patients have been cured in the past and shall be in the future, and thou shalt be one among them, my friend, if thou wilt but rest thyself in him this night.