A Secret of Being Spirit-Dependent

When I began leading home Bible studies, I found one thing was essential if I were to depend upon the Spirit. I needed to pray until I was confident that the Lord would help. Then I taught with assurance that the Spirit was directing my thoughts. When I failed to prepare myself through believing, I discovered I was looking for signs that those in the class had profited. If there were none, it was easy to become discouraged. However, when I trusted God to help, I could leave the results with Him. The secret was to keep my focus on the Lord and not on the people.

One day one of the ladies said, "I guess you're becoming discouraged with us." I don't recall what I said, but I remember thinking, Oh, no, I'm not looking at your progress; I'm looking to the Lord. I didn't become discouraged as long as my concern was, "Am I trusting Him to lead?"

I recall classes in our home Bible studies when we would come near the end of our session, and I would think, Lord, this has all been so ordinary. It seems to have all been done in my own strength. I prayed until I knew You would help, but I haven't sensed that help. God never failed. Sometimes in those final moments, maybe even in a closing prayer, I sensed that special supernatural touch on our time together. 

"You can do more than pray after you have prayed," said A. J. Gordon, "but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed." I've learned to consider my real work to be my prayer time. The reason is simple: Only after I've taken my need to God, discerned how to ask specifically, and persevered until He helped me to believe can I rest from my own works and enter into His.

Thank You, Jesus, that an inner looking to You protects me from stress. Help me to remember that the Spirit gives life, but the flesh counts for nothing.

"My eyes are ever on the Lord" (Psalm 25:15).

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Start Your Day With Joy

"What makes you the happiest?" someone asked a couple days ago. I thought for a while before I replied. Then I knew what to say. 

"Hearing God speak. Hearing Him speak especially through the Word."

The next morning I read, "Real life comes by feeding on every Word of the LORD" (Deuteronomy 8:3 NLT). I had earlier studied what the word "life" meant to the Hebrew writers and learned it stood for spiritual life-vitality, joy, a sense of well-being, and satisfaction.

Those words exactly describe the result of consuming God's Word. The mornings I awaken and recognize a lack of joy in my spirit, I know what will be the quickest remedy. My spirit is suffering from a lack of God's truth. So for years I have kept cards with scripture on them in my bathroom for me to meditate on while dressing. I take Jesus' words literally: "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete" (John 15:10). 

Philo, a Jewish philosopher who lived before Christ, said, "When the people sought what it was that feeds the soul, they found it is the utterance of God...This is the heavenly food." The utterance of God satisfies.

Bread of Heaven, feed me 'til I'm fully satisfied. 

"Pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words...for they are life to those who find them" (Proverbs 4:20, 22). 

"The laws of the LORD are true; each one is fair. They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb" (Psalm 19:9, 10 NLT).

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How Do You Live a Holy Life

To live a holy life may seem as impossible as the idea pictured on a poster of a small sleepy cat nestling inside a box. On the outside is the picture of a tiger. The caption reads, "When you dream, dream big." There is no way that the little kitten will become a tiger-cat without some drastic mutation. God's command, though, to be holy is not an impossible command. 

The secret of the holy life is Christ in you-not just Christ for you nor just Christ with you. This is the holy life: the life of Christ lived through us.

Holiness is not personal character slowly attained, but union with the Lord Jesus. It is a joyful life--a life of trusting Him and of obeying His Spirit within.

Originally the word holy did not have moral significance; it simply meant to be like one's deity. If the god the people worshiped was immoral, they followed the god's behavior. "If Baal lies, I can lie; if Baal is promiscuous, I can be promiscuous." 

But when our God says He is holy, He is saying that what is distinct about Him is His attitude toward ethical behavior. That is why when people come close to God, their ethics change. Paul tells us that our moral nature should reflect God's when he says we are "created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:24).

A friend told me that after leading a night of prayer in her church, people who attended came to her home the following day to confess. One confessed to having had an abortion and another said he had mistreated his wife. Such behavior had suddenly become unacceptable. To become holy as God is holy means to be as He is in our ethics and morals. 

Thank You, for making a way for us to be holy by surrendering to the indwelling Holy Spirit. 

"But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy" (1 Peter 1:15-16).

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Enjoy a Continual Feast

Samuel Logan Brengle, a favorite preacher in the early days of the Salvation Army, formed a habit of choosing a text for his day. As a traveler stuffs snacks in his pockets, Brengle daily stuffed the pockets of his mind with tasty treats from the Word. These snacks were short, simple statements of promise, reassurance, or comfort he would turn to for support and power along the way.

Once Brengle wrote to his wife about a text that described one day's meditation. Notice his use of reflecting, imagining, and personalizing. He obviously enjoyed this practice. 

"My text this a.m. was, "Thy testimonies are my delight and my counselors." The word "counselors" struck me. The Psalmist sits down and talks over his affairs with God's testimonies and finds out what they have to say. Think of sitting down with Abraham when Lot chooses Sodom and the rich valley or with Isaac when he surrenders his wells to the Philistines, and talking over the advisability of being meek and yielding to others; or with Job on his ash heap, and talking about trusting God in affliction; or with Paul in the Philippian jail, and talking about rejoicing in tribulation; or with Joseph or Daniel or David. Bless God! That is just what I do when I sit down to meditate upon and take counsel from God's testimonies."

God intends for us to enjoy our tasty snack at His table more than our Snickers bar or Starbucks latte during break. 

Increase our hunger, Lord, for the only thing that truly satisfies -  Your Truth.

"How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!"(Psalm 119:103). 

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God's Delay Is Not Denial

One morning a young man told me he and his wife would be house-hunting that day. "After looking yesterday, it seems impossible for us to find what we need in the right location," he said.

I recalled that a few weeks earlier his wife had told me of her peace concerning this move and of their confidence that God would help them find a place to live. So I shared with him something I had noticed in reading John 11 that morning. 

Jesus told the disciples, "This sickness will not end in death," but a few verses later, he said, "Lazarus is dead."

Often our faith goes through a severe testing when we can plainly see "Lazarus is dead."

The temptation to doubt comes to all Christians, but with the help of the Spirit, we can resist that temptation just as we can resist a temptation to be bitter or unkind. If we resist Satan in a moment of temptation, our faith is strengthened.

If we are certain we have believed God for something, then "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful" (Hebrews 10:23). 

God's delay is not denial, so His delay should not discourage us.

Thank You, Jesus, that someday I will be able to look back and see that You answered my prayer perfectly.

"...those who hope in me will not be disappointed" (Isaiah 49:23).


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