Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.
It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.
You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?
The Law of Opposition
Life without war is impossible in the natural or the supernatural realm. It is a fact that there is a continuing struggle in the physical, mental, moral, and spiritual areas of life.
Health is the balance between the physical parts of my body and all the things and forces surrounding me. To maintain good health I must have sufficient internal strength to fight off the things that are external. Everything outside my physical life is designed to cause my death. The very elements that sustain me while I am alive work to decay and disintegrate my body once it is dead. If I have enough inner strength to fight, I help to produce the balance needed for health. The same is true of the mental life. If I want to maintain a strong and active mental life, I have to fight. This struggle produces the mental balance called thought.
Morally it is the same. Anything that does not strengthen me morally is the enemy of virtue within me. Whether I overcome, thereby producing virtue, depends on the level of moral excellence in my life. But we must fight to be moral. Morality does not happen by accident; moral virtue is acquired.
And spiritually it is also the same. Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation…” (John 16:33). This means that anything which is not spiritual leads to my downfall. Jesus went on to say, “…but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” I must learn to fight against and overcome the things that come against me, and in that way produce the balance of holiness. Then it becomes a delight to meet opposition.
Holiness is the balance between my nature and the law of God as expressed in Jesus Christ.
The Way of Peace
From: Our Daily Journey
“Do you want me to kick you out of here?” yelled the angry operations manager at an engineer. It was late in the night, everyone was tired, and the machines in the distribution center weren’t working. The engineer, after whispering a prayer, calmly explained that the issue couldn’t be solved quickly and his team was doing their best. Thankfully, after a few hours, they fixed the problem. The maintenance manager who had witnessed the operations manager’s rage apologized for the man’s behavior and told the engineer he was impressed by his calm composure.
The engineer’s effort to seek peace is a small example of the “path of peace” Zechariah prophesied Jesus would guide us on (Luke 1:79). Zechariah lived during a tough time of Roman oppression over Israel. God hadn’t spoken through a prophet for more than four hundred years. People were waiting, and some had lost hope. But God was at work. He was actively involved in the intricacies of history, working out the plan He had established from the beginning of time.
A few centuries before Zechariah, the prophet Isaiah had spoken of the spiritual reality that God’s people “don’t know where to find peace or what it means to be just and good” (Isaiah 59:8). Zechariah realized the time had finally arrived when God would teach people how to walk in the difficult way of peace. In a masterful song with a prophetic message, he announced that God was fulfilling His promise to rescue His people by sending “a mighty Savior” (Luke 1:69).
In Jesus, anyone can embrace the gift of God’s peace—“a gift the world cannot give” (John 14:27). May we seek His wisdom and grace to walk the path of peace in the year to come!
|December 4, 2017
Show Your Joy to the World
KAREN EHMANFrom: Crosswalk.com
“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me.” Psalm 13:5-6 (NIV)
When you think of the phrase, “Christmas is coming!” … what sort of emotion does it evoke?
It might be any one of these:
Panic: I only have three more Saturdays of shopping before Christmas. I’m never going to get it all done!
Frustration: Ugh. There are so many activities this month. We are going to be running all over the place with very little time to just be together as a family at home, enjoying each other’s company.
Regret: Why did I say we’d host the family get-together? Now I have to straighten and scrub this place from top to bottom AND make the dessert I signed up to provide, as if I didn’t already have enough to do this month.
Envy: I noticed on Facebook the gorgeous holiday decorations my co-worker has in her home. They look like they are straight from an HGTV Christmas special. Our place looks like we bought ours from the clearance bin at the local secondhand store.
So many sentiments can invade our hearts and minds. But these emotions don’t stay there.
Often, they weasel their way into our behavior. We appear distracted when talking with a friend. Our frustration morphs into hurry as we frantically try to get it all done. Our regret makes us a grumpy and ungracious hostess. Our envy leads to ungratefulness and can prevent us from experiencing the joy that should come from the whole reason for the celebration of Christmas in the first place.
Are these the attitudes we want on display during the month of December? Or should we choose the attitude reflected in the old familiar hymn, Joy to the World?
The emotion that ought to be deeply experienced during the Christmas season — and, in turn, displayed in our behavior — should be joy. Today’s key verse states, “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me. ”
This verse declares that our reaction to the salvation God freely offers — which began when Jesus came into the world as a baby that very first Christmas — should be that rejoicing.
In this Old Testament verse, the word translated for rejoice actually means “to exult, to go about or to be excited to levity.” What a stark contrast to the emotions we usually display during the yuletide season!
But what if we tried to take our roller coaster of emotions to God, asking Him to replace them with joy instead? If we choose to consciously thank God for the indescribable gift of salvation through Jesus, perhaps we could learn to recapture the joy of Christmas. And not just to feel it in our hearts, but to go about during the season, excited to the point of levity, exulting God in the process.
The word exult means “to leap for joy,” and it’s usually connected with a triumph of some kind. Through Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection, He triumphed over death. We need not fear the future because of the miracle of Christmas. If we have responded to the gospel — the good news about Jesus offering us salvation — we too can experience a victory over the grave and dwell with God forever in heaven someday. What a reason to rejoice!
Today, let’s chase down some Christmas cheer. But not just keep it to ourselves. Parking our minds on the truth of salvation through Jesus helps us show joy to the world during the Christmas season. A spotless house and homemade fruitcake are optional.
Father, may my mind dwell this season on the incredible gift of salvation through Jesus that is the source of all joy in this life and the life to come. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.