Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
From: Our Daily Bread
Do not quench the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:19
On a visit to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, I saw a masterpiece called The Wind. The painting showed a storm moving through a wooded area. Tall, thin trees leaned to the left. Bushes thrashed in the same direction.
In an even more powerful sense, the Holy Spirit is able to sway believers in the direction of God’s goodness and truth. If we go along with the Spirit, we can expect to become more courageous and more loving. We will also become more discerning about how to handle our desires (2 Tim. 1:7).
In some situations, however, the Spirit nudges us toward spiritual growth and change, but we respond with a “no.” Continually stonewalling this conviction is what Scripture calls “quench[ing] the Spirit” (1 Thess. 5:19). Over time, things we once considered wrong appear not to be quite as bad.
When our relationship with God seems distant and disconnected, this may be because the Spirit’s conviction has been repeatedly brushed aside. The longer this goes on, the harder it is to see the root of the problem. Thankfully, we can pray and ask God to show us our sin. If we turn away from sin and recommit ourselves to Him, God will forgive us and revive the power and influence of His Spirit within us.
God, show me how I have resisted Your Holy Spirit. Help me to listen when You speak. I want to be right with You again.
Yielding to the Holy Spirit leads to right living.
Into His Image
From: Our Daily Journey
“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” This sentiment from Anne Lamott often comes back to me in situations of potential conflict. If I find myself assuming God feels exactlythe same way I do about most situations, it’s safe to say my view of God is mixed with a good deal of myself! Only one Person has known the mind of God fully; we His followers always understand imperfectly (1 Corinthians 13:12).
This seems to be part of why Scripture places an equal emphasis on both holiness and humility. Although we’re each to strive to grow in our knowledge of God and His truth, we should always be hesitant to judge others, for our own sin may be causing us to hastily condemn (Matthew 7:1-3).
James saw this clearly, tracing believers’ conflicts to coveting and pride (James 4:1-6). Urging each of them to purify themselves and draw near to God (James 4:7-10), he cautioned that judging another unfairly disregarded God’s law (James 4:12), which required that any accusation be verified through fair investigation and the testimony of witnesses. Unfairly accusing someone could be the sin of slander, as well as giving ourselves God’s role as judge (James 4:11-12).
If we’re tempted to assume our anger and impatience is just, let’s pause to first search our hearts and mourn over our own sin (James 4:9). Through drawing near to God, we can begin to experience His wisdom, which is “peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others” (James 3:17). Then we can better discern whether to correct in a “spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1). May we in faith continually turn to Him and be transformed into His image (2 Corinthians 3:18).
The Key of the Greater Work
Prayer does not equip us for greater works— prayer is the greater work. Yet we think of prayer as some commonsense exercise of our higher powers that simply prepares us for God’s work. In the teachings of Jesus Christ, prayer is the working of the miracle of redemption in me, which produces the miracle of redemption in others, through the power of God. The way fruit remains firm is through prayer, but remember that it is prayer based on the agony of Christ in redemption, not on my own agony. We must go to God as His child, because only a child gets his prayers answered; a “wise” man does not (see Matthew 11:25).
Prayer is the battle, and it makes no difference where you are. However God may engineer your circumstances, your duty is to pray. Never allow yourself this thought, “I am of no use where I am,” because you certainly cannot be used where you have not yet been placed. Wherever God has placed you and whatever your circumstances, you should pray, continually offering up prayers to Him. And He promises, “Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do…” (John 14:13). Yet we refuse to pray unless it thrills or excites us, which is the most intense form of spiritual selfishness. We must learn to work according to God’s direction, and He says to pray. “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:38).
There is nothing thrilling about a laboring person’s work, but it is the laboring person who makes the ideas of the genius possible. And it is the laboring saint who makes the ideas of his Master possible. When you labor at prayer, from God’s perspective there are always results. What an astonishment it will be to see, once the veil is finally lifted, all the souls that have been reaped by you, simply because you have been in the habit of taking your orders from Jesus Christ.