When a person is born again, there is a period of time when he does not have the same vitality in his thinking or reasoning that he previously had. We must learn to express this new life within us, which comes by forming the mind of Christ (see Philippians 2:5). Luke 21:19 means that we take possession of our souls through patience. But many of us prefer to stay at the entrance to the Christian life, instead of going on to create and build our soul in accordance with the new life God has placed within us. We fail because we are ignorant of the way God has made us, and we blame things on the devil that are actually the result of our own undisciplined natures. Just think what we could be when we are awakened to the truth!
There are certain things in life that we need not pray about— moods, for instance. We will never get rid of moodiness by praying, but we will by kicking it out of our lives. Moods nearly always are rooted in some physical circumstance, not in our true inner self. It is a continual struggle not to listen to the moods which arise as a result of our physical condition, but we must never submit to them for a second. We have to pick ourselves up by the back of the neck and shake ourselves; then we will find that we can do what we believed we were unable to do. The problem that most of us are cursed with is simply that we won’t. The Christian life is one of spiritual courage and determination lived out in our flesh.
Matthew 12:38-50 (Good News Translation)
From: American Bible Society
God’s Word: Renewing Us in Faith
Matthew 12:38-50: The religious leaders demand that Jesus perform a miracle, which demonstrates their resistance to Jesus’ teachings. The passage concludes with Jesus offering a definition of what constitutes family in God’s Kingdom.
Today’s Scripture: Matthew 12:50
“Whoever does what my Father in heaven wants is my brother, my sister, and my mother.”
38 Then some teachers of the Law and some Pharisees spoke up. “Teacher,” they said, “we want to see you perform a miracle.” 39 “How evil and godless are the people of this day!” Jesus exclaimed. “You ask me for a miracle? No! The only miracle you will be given is the miracle of the prophet Jonah. 40 In the same way that Jonah spent three days and nights in the big fish, so will the Son of Man spend three days and nights in the depths of the earth. 41 On the Judgment Day the people of Nineveh will stand up and accuse you, because they turned from their sins when they heard Jonah preach; and I tell you that there is something here greater than Jonah! 42 On the Judgment Day the Queen of Sheba will stand up and accuse you, because she traveled all the way from her country to listen to King Solomon’s wise teaching; and I assure you that there is something here greater than Solomon! 43 When an evil spirit goes out of a person, it travels over dry country looking for a place to rest. If it can’t find one, 44 it says to itself, “I will go back to my house.” So it goes back and finds the house empty, clean, and all fixed up. 45 Then it goes out and brings along seven other spirits even worse than itself, and they come and live there. So when it is all over, that person is in worse shape than at the beginning. This is what will happen to the evil people of this day. ” 46 Jesus was still talking to the people when his mother and brothers arrived. They stood outside, asking to speak with him. 47 So one of the people there said to him, “Look, your mother and brothers are standing outside, and they want to speak with you.” 48 Jesus answered, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 49 Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look! Here are my mother and my brothers! 50Whoever does what my Father in heaven wants is my brother, my sister, and my mother. ”
How does Jesus respond to the religious leaders who demand that he perform a miracle? Jesus compares the time he would spend in the grave with the time Jonah spent inside a big fish. Why did he say this? What does Jesus say is the basis for belonging to the family of God (verse 50)?
From: Through the Bible
1 Samuel 17:45,46b,47 (NIV) 45David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied
. 46b…the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
Goliath hurried to meet David. When he saw he was just a boy, he mocked him and made boasting threats. David responded with the facts. Goliath had physical weapons upon which he relied. David declared that he fought as a representative of LORD of the armies of heaven and the armies of Israel. “The outcome of the battle,” he declared, “will show that there is a God in Israel.” David fought that the world might know God.
He declared one more reason that God would bring the victory, that everyone gathered would know that the LORD does not save by sword or spear. He is the One who determines the outcome of battle. It is His battle. “He is about to give you, Goliath, into my hands,” David was saying.
What faith David had in his God! He was so certain that he ran to meet Goliath. For David it was a chance to proclaim the greatness of his God. Saul needed to be reminded the battle was not about physical weapons. The fearful army of Israel needed that reminder. We do too. Though it is not a physical war we fight, we often try to solve our spiritual wars through natural solutions like man made reasoning, instead of prayer and faith. Are you declaring that the outcome of your battle will show God is alive and well? Do you know it is not up to man to win it, for it is the Lord’s battle?
Consider: Are you fighting for self or God’s testimony?
Luke 18:11-14 (NIV) 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13″But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14″I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Jesus told this parable to those who were confident about their own righteousness and looked down on others. Spiritual pride is a devastating disease of the soul. It is like the continual use of painkillers making us unaware of the problems going on within us. How can we know if we are afflicted with it? Consider the attitudes in these two men that prayed.
The Pharisee prayed about himself. He thanked God that he was not like other people that he considered evil. It is good to thank God for His grace in your life, but the Pharisee is making the great blunder of comparing himself with fallen men. The standard is not men but God. In comparing himself with men only, he has missed his great sin of pride. He goes on praying about his righteousness, declaring to all in the range of his voice that he fasts and tithes. Whoops, there goes his heavenly reward. Jesus said when men praise you, their praise is your reward.
The other man just beat his breast, recognizing he was a sinner. His request was for mercy from God. Jesus said it was this second man that went home right with God. God was his standard. The great distance between his righteousness and God’s caused him anguish. He had the true picture of his condition. Prayer is about seeing God for who He is, and in the light of that reality we see our great need. God lifts up the humble. He gladly gives mercy and grace to those who recognize their need, to those who are brokenhearted about their sin. To the proud, He will prepare a path of humiliation. That, too, is grace and mercy.
Prayer: Lord, grant us eyes to see our real spiritual condition that we might enter into Your presence in prayer instead of praying about our self.
From: Streams in the Desert
“Thou, who hast showed us many and sore troubles, wilt quicken us again” (Ps. 71:20, RV).
God shows us the troubles. Sometimes, as this part of our education is being carried forward, we have to descend into “the lower parts of the earth,” pass through subterranean passages, lie buried amongst the dead, but never for a moment is the cord of fellowship and union between God and us strained to breaking; and from the depths God will bring us again.
Never doubt God! Never say that He has forsaken or forgotten. Never think that He is unsympathetic. He will quicken again. There is always a smooth piece in every skein, however tangled. The longest day at last rings out the evensong. The winter snow lies long, but it goes at last.
Be steadfast; your labor is not in vain. God turns again, and comforts. And when He does, the heart which had forgotten its Psalmody breaks out in jubilant song, as does the Psalmist: “I will thank thee, I will harp unto thee, my lips shall sing aloud.” –Selected
“Though the rain may fall and the wind be blowing,
And old and chill is the wintry blast;
Though the cloudy sky is still cloudier growing,
And the dead leaves tell that the summer has passed;
My face I hold to the stormy heaven,
My heart is as calm as the summer sea,
Glad to receive what my God has given,
Whate’er it be.
When I feel the cold, I can say, ‘He sends it,’
And His winds blow blessing, I surely know;
For I’ve never a want but that He attends it;
And my heart beats warm, though the winds may blow.”