…Not of the World – John 17:15-19

Walk In The Same Manner As Christ – Sanctified By The Word Of God

15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

Powerful Protection

Jesus’ prayer for us as believers wasn’t that God would remove us from the world, but rather that we would be protected from the evil one – Satan.  God has a plan that is unfolding every second of every day, and we are a part of that program.  We are Plan A of His plan – to reach everyone in every nation with the love and message of the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ.

In order to do that, we need some divine assistance.  Jesus recognized from His own testing that we need to be protected from Satan.  As Jesus’ disciples, we are not greater than the master, but rather suffer the same way that He did.  James did give us some advice on how to overcome the testing of the enemy of our souls:

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

We tend to forget that first part, and go straight to the second part.  When we do that, it is like picking up an unloaded weapon and pointing it at someone who can see that the chamber is empty of a bullet.  We have a responsibility to first submit ourselves to God.  Let us do so, for we are not citizens of this world, but of Heaven.

Otherworldly Origin

Too often we become entrenched here in the world.  Like Lot, we pitched our tents towards Sodom, and the next thing we know, we are sitting in the City Gates, fully part of the culture that we have been sent to confront.  Our confrontation should not initially be with words, but with actions.  We are ambassadors for Christ, citizens of Heaven, just passing through.  We need to remember that so that we do not begin to look and act like the people that we have been sent to minister.  Otherwise, our ability to minister will be greatly impacted.

Paul said that he became like the people he was preaching to win many, but was not under the law.  When people see that we identify with them, they are more likely to listen to the message of Christ.  Is it not easier to minister to someone who is greatly grieving if we ourselves have experienced a similar loss?  Do we not then have the compassion and empathy towards their situation to be able to say, “I’ve been there.  Let me tell you what helped me through this…”.

Sacred Sanctification

Jesus’ desire for us was that we would be sanctified.  He desired that our character be conformed to the character of God.  He wanted us to live our lives in a way that properly reflected the righteousness that He would soon give up for us so that we could be reconciled to the Father.  Personal holiness is not required for salvation, but it should be a desire of every believer, for we wish to emulate the life and character of our teacher and savior, Jesus Christ.

Sovereignly Sent

Jesus asked the Father that He would send us out into the world just as God sent Jesus.  To be sent, we must first be made alive in Christ by the Holy Spirit of God indwelling us.  We are then tested by God.  Next, we are to be filled with the Spirit of God as He comes upon us mightily.  Walking in the gifts of the Spirit that God provides to us, we are sent out to minister to others and do God’s work in His will.

Truly Transformed

When we yield ourselves to God, He will conform us to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.  We will shed the things of the past, and embrace the things of the Spirit and our future as we look forward to returning to our true home, Heaven.  Transformation through sanctification is a blessing that every believer should embrace.  In the same way that we expect a college student who has taken courses for the last four years to pass their exams and graduate, we also should be applying what we learn so that we too will properly use the education that God has provided to us for the purposes of glorifying His name and bearing His image properly to others.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  To the world, do I look more like them or more like Jesus?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You test me day and night.  Your word convicts me, and I desire to embrace the changes that You want to make in my life.  Give me the strength and wisdom to let go of the past, and to embrace the present.  Help me to apply the lessons that You teach me in Your word so that I will live a life worthy of the calling that I have received.  Help me to be light and salt to this world, and to use every available resource that You provide for Your purposes and not my own.  Give me the ability to yield everything to You, for You already own it, and want me to voluntarily see this truth and embrace it in my heart.  Transform me that I may be more useful in Your kingdom, and help me to do all that You desire so that I may hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant” when I next see Your Son, Jesus Christ, in glory.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

The Word of God – Hebrews 4:12-13

The Word Is Alive

12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Alive and Active

The word of God is not just some words that are written down, or passed orally on from generation to generation.  They are alive and active.  The Bible says that God’s word does not go void – it will accomplish the purpose that God intended it to accomplish.  Each and every word in the Bible has the power to change lives.  It patiently waits until the soul that reads it is prepared to receive its message.  It then delivers the most powerful of messages – the message that God intended for that person.  It renews our minds and guides our thoughts.

Sharper than Swords

The Bible says that the word of God is sharper than any sword.  A sword is effective because it is a power-concentrating device.  When sharpened, a sword will deliver all of the power of the swing or stab either onto a very sharp point or edge.  This delivers a significant amount of force where the edge or tip lands, so that a swing of the sword is like bringing tens of thousands of pounds per square inch of force onto the object it strikes. This will cause the object to cut or break apart.  In our case, the word of God is able to cut deep into our hearts, and expose our thoughts and attitudes.

Powerful Penetration

Because of the precision of the truth, it penetrates deep into our thoughts and attitudes.  God’s word exposes the deepest, innermost parts of our minds and hearts, and lays them bare for us to see.  The truth is able to shed light on these things, and to expose the darkness within us, as well as show the way to repentance.

Just Judgment

Because the word is true, it is able to rightly judge our thoughts and attitudes.  It provides the necessary tools to indicate our current state of mind, as well as our intents.  God is the perfect judge, for He sees the end from the beginning, and nothing is withheld from Him.  His word is accurate, and is able to rightly judge us.

Details on Display

Because God is omnipresent, His word is an accurate representation of this aspect of His character.   Nothing in all creation will be withheld from His sight.  Try as we might, we cannot hide in the darkness, for darkness is as light to Him who created the universe.  The word puts our thoughts on display for Him and for us should we choose to accept God’s sovereignty.  Even if we don’t, at the appointed time, all will be displayed by God, who will reward for what was done in the flesh, both good and evil.

Announce your Account

And everyone shall be required to give an accounting of what they have done.  This is evident by the account in Job where the angels were gathered to give an accounting of their actions before God.  No one will be spared this.  We can either give an account with the blood of Christ as our protection, or be in front of the White Throne seat of judgment.  The choice is ours.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Are we allowing God’s word to penetrate our heart?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Holy is Your Name.  Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, here on Earth as is in Heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread for tomorrow.  Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For You are holy, perfect without blemish, and You see everything correctly.  You know what was, what is, and what will be, for You have already seen it.  Father, help me that I may allow Your word to penetrate deep into my heart, that all darkness and evil will be exposed, that I may bring it before You to be healed.  Give me the strength and ability to overcome the flesh, the devil, and the world, that Your kingdom may be established in my heart.  Help me to be content with what You provide, for You have given me all that I need.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Character of God – Psalm 119:89-91

God’s Word Endures Forever

89 Your word, Lord, is eternal;
it stands firm in the heavens.
90 Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
you established the earth, and it endures.
91 Your laws endure to this day,
for all things serve you.

Wonderful Word

God’s word endures forever.  His word guides us in our ways.  We can rely on God’s word not changing, for God is truth, and there is no deception in Him.  The steadfast nature of God’s Word helps us to remember that He is faithful as well.  We can depend upon His word to guide us in the way we should go.

The counsel of men is fallible, and can change over time.  God’s word has the perspective of eternity, providing us with a more full understanding of the character and nature of God, as well as understand His righteousness and man’s evil.  The permanence of truth is should be a great comfort to all who seek it and learn from it.

Fully Faithful

God is always faithful.  His faithfulness spans generations, and is eternal.  And even though Heaven and Earth will pass away, God’s faithfulness will not.  God will always keep His word.  When we are tempted to believe that God is not being faithful, we only need to look at the endurance of our planet to remember that God does not change.

Loving Laws

Since God’s word will not pass away, we can always be assured that He will be fulfilling His promises.  God has made us many wonderful promises that He has fulfilled and continues to fulfill today.  His laws guide us in truth and righteousness.  It is only through the law that we recognize our true condition and can turn from sin towards God.  Permanence seems to be forsaken in the world today for the less permanent wants and desires of man.  Nothing in God’s word will pass away until everything is accomplished.  We ignore God’s Holy word at our own peril.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I delight in the character of God when I am going through trials?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You do not change like shifting shadows, but are the same yesterday, today, and for eternity.  Help me to remember Your steadfast love as I encounter the many trials I face today.  Strengthen me in the knowledge of Your character and desire to fulfill in Your time all that You have promised.  Keep my heart continually pointed towards Yours as the difficulties of life pull at me, and help me to cry out to You for my every need.  Surround me with Your peace, and guard me in my ways.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

Famine From God – Amos 8:11-12

Beware A Famine Of The Word Of God

11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord,
“when I will send a famine through the land—
not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.
12 People will stagger from sea to sea
and wander from north to east,
searching for the word of the Lord,
but they will not find it.”

Famine Foretold

The first great famine occurred after the last prophecy in Malachi.  For over 400 years, no prophetic word had come to the people of Israel.  Generations had passed with no communication from God to His people.

This was very disconcerting to the people of God.  They had, in the past, received blessing and feedback from God through His prophets.  Now they waited in silence.  Famine brings great hunger.  When people are in a desperate place of hunger, it wears on them.  Going hundreds of years without receiving direction from God must have been frustrating to the Israelites.  They had been led by the pillar of smoke by day and fire by night for forty years in the desert.  They could seek out God’s prophets who were among them when they needed individual direction (even though, as a nation, they scorned and persecuted the prophets when their sinful lifestyles were brought to their attention and rebuked).

But isn’t it also true that the teacher is silent when the student is taking the test?

Desire Defeated

We are told to seek the Lord while He can be found.  As God withdraws His sovereign Spirit from a nation, they will soon be given over to their iniquity.  And when they seek the Lord, He may not be found.  The judgement of God may be at hand.  In that day, people will seek direction from God, and they may receive silence.

It is imperative that we seek God every day so that we will not experience a famine of the Word of God.  We choose how much time we spend with God and His Word.  When we don’t spend time in God’s Word and with God in prayer, we are voluntarily entering into a self-made famine.  Don’t be surprised if God doesn’t immediately jump to help you if you don’t spend time with Him.  Draw close to the Lord through His Word and through prayer, and you will never experience a famine of the word.

And if/when God is silent, remember: the just shall live by faith.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I spending enough time every day with God in prayer and in His Word?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, forgive me for my many sins.  Show me the path of righteousness.  Help me to draw close to You through Your Word and through prayer.  Strengthen my relationship with You that I would be able to trust You more and more each day.  Father, forgive our nation, for the people are not seeking You and Your Word.  Soften their hearts that they would seek You and return to You.  Only You, Lord God Almighty, are able to break through the hardness of hearts.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Combat Training with God – 2 Corinthians 10:5

 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

We have been given a great gift – the gift of free will.  To have that gift, God has given us a mind that is able to think with reason AND emotion.  Part of spiritual warfare is recognizing the attacks of the enemy.  Paul indicates to us here that we are to take every thought that we have captive to obey Christ.

The word “thought” in the Greek is noEma.  The Strong’s note for this word indicates that it is:

a perception, i.e. purpose, or (by implication) the intellect, disposition, itself.

We are to take every thought, and path where our thoughts will go, captive (in submission) to Christ.  This is a challenge, but one that the Holy Spirit of God can overcome.

We are to implement a filter based on the Word of God so that every thought we have can be evaluated to see if it is good or malicious.  In the world of computers, there is a device (or application) that does this; it is called a firewall.  Firewalls protect you from malicious programs written by people who want to take control of your computer, steal your money, your intellectual property, and in some cases, render your computer so messed up that it is inoperable. This sounds an awful lot like someone we know:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Once this happens, it takes a qualified computer professional to get rid of everything bad.  Sometimes, this requires reinstalling all of your programs and restoring your files from a good backup (if you have even backed up your critical data!).

The Word of God transforms our mind and protects it against the social engineering attempts of the devil, the world, and the flesh to try to usurp our thought processes.  Some people have said, “Sure, I read the Bible once.  That’s all I need.”  But we see in Ephesians 5:26 that we are continually being washed clean by the Word of God.  The word “washed” in the Greek is katharisas.  It is the word from which we get the English word catharsis.

The Word of God is like anti-virus software: it checks every file (thought) in our file system (brain, patterns of thought) for known malicious software and configurations (patterns of sin  – arguments and lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God) and removes them before they can do any more harm.  But just like viruses, worms, trojan horses, ransomware, and other types of malware, they often cause damage before the antivirus program can clean them off or stop them.  It is the same with sin in our lives.

It is said that some people, as they read the Word of God and apply it to their lives, have had their hearts and minds so infused with the Word of God that when they think, they think in scripture.  Wow!  To know the Word of God so well, and have it experientially in your heart so deeply that it is the first way your mind forms thoughts!

So, let’s ask the question:  How deeply has the Word of God penetrated my heart?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You amaze us with Your forethought for our every need.  Even Your Word has greater purpose than to just instruct and provide direction; it cleanses us, protects us, renews us, and restores our minds.  Grant me success this day, Father, as I read Your Word, that it would so penetrate my heart that it would never come out.  Help me to remember Your word in such a way that all darkness and unrighteousness is exposed for what it is – sin.  Help me to reprogram my mind, that it would be transformed into what You would want, rather than what the world, the devil, and the flesh want it to be.  Guard my every thought, and help me to bring it captive to Christ.  This I ask in the precious and powerful name of your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?