Today’s Scripture:“To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue. All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD. Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:1-3
The Lord wants us to reach our full potential—to become the people He’s designed us to be and achieve the tasks He’s planned for us to do. In our pressurized society, we need to have balanced schedules if we’re going to live according to God’s purposes. When any area is out of balance, our relationship with the Lord and others will be affected, diminishing our effectiveness as servants of Christ.
Our top priority is spending private time with the Lord each day to develop our relationship with Him and receive guidance.
Time with family and friends is also essential because relationships are such an important part of God’s plans for our lives.
The area in which we are most likely to become imbalanced is our work. Although the Lord doesn’t approve of laziness, He doesn’t want us to be overly consumed with our careers either.
If we are to accomplish the Lord’s purposes in our lives, we need to take care of our bodies, allocating adequate time for exercise, rest, and recreation.
The Scriptures also clearly command meeting together regularly with other believers for worship (Hebrews 10:24-25). While some people have limitations that hinder doing this, most of us have no excuse for being too busy for church.
These general areas all need space in your life, but I cannot tell you how to allocate time for them. The Lord has specific plans for each person, and He is the only one who can accurately direct your schedule. Seek His guidance, listen for His voice, and make the changes He brings to mind.
Today’s Scriptures: “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces.”—Isaiah 25:8.
“O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory?”– 1Corinthians 15:55.
“God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”—Revelation 7:17.
IN THIS marvelous chapter, Isaiah sings a Song of Hope, as he sees the return of the Hebrew people from captivity, and the overthrow of their foes. The Apostle Paul takes up this thought in 1 Corinthians 15. He shows that death is the penalty of sin, and it is by the demands of the law that sin is stirred to activity. But Christ has satisfied and met the claims of the law, and gives power by which we are enabled to obey it; therefore the strength of sin is broken, and the sting of death is gone.
The Christian need not dread to die. For him there is no uncertainty about the future. There is no fear of what may come after death, for the condemnation of the law has been met and borne. We may apostrophise death in these exultant words. The viper has been deprived of its fangs! the prison-house cannot hold its inmates! Bunyan describes Satan as exhorting Captain Sepulcher to be sure to hold Christ, but the injunction was useless. No bars or bolts, no seal or sentry would suffice.
Notice that we are to “Put on” incorruption and immortality (1Corinthians 15:53-54). It is as though the new body will be put on over the old, and as this takes place, all the elements of the old body will be swallowed up and absorbed. when the Holy Spirit completes his work in our souls, there will be no trace of the old rags left in the shining robes in which we shall be arrayed as we go forth to meet the welcome of our Lord. Death to those who believe in Christ is now only a Home-going; the falling asleep to open the eyes in the City of God; the loosening of the anchor, to float down stream in the full tide. “There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.”
Today’s Scripture: “There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” Psalm 130:4
This is a striking statement from beginning to end. First, there is forgiveness with the holy, perfect God who does not pardon sins? How could this be? On the other hand, even this forgiveness of God should lead us to a reverential fear of God. Why would this be?
The psalmist observes in the preceding verse (130:3) that if God were to keep account of our sins, no one could stand such a scrutiny. We are all sinners to the core and we have each sinned enough to justify a hell-sentence.
But, because Jesus Christ took our sins on Himself and paid the penalty for them, God has not dealt with us according to our iniquity (Psalm 103:10). Thus the holy God maintains His perfect and just standard, but is also merciful.
But what a fearsome forgiveness! To be snatched from the brink of never-ending torment, to be saved from our well-deserved damnation, makes us irrevocably and eternally indebted to our Savior. This forgiveness is fearful because it means we did nothing to deserve it, and we can do nothing to pay it back.
And God now demands the same kind of unconditional forgiveness from us, toward others. If God has so freely and kindly forgiveness us, do we not fear to hold a grudge or transgression against a brother or sister?
Today’s Scripture: “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” — Luke 12:15.
MEN ARE often more eager to get God’s help in temporalities than in spiritualities. The man in the crowd, who appealed to Christ, was more anxious that He should interpose on his behalf in a family dispute than to give him the life of the ages. But our Lord refused to be Judge and Arbitrator. His ministry went deeper to the springs of action, and He knew that in each brother there was the root of covetousness, which led the one to wrong the other. He struck at the sin which lay at the root of all such disputes about property.
Our Lord insisted that life does not consist in the abundance of things of which we may happen to be possessed. We say: “So and so is worth a million pounds!” Heaven estimates a man’s worth by the courage, faith, purity, self-control, and love to God and man, which have grown up in the soul by the careful discipline of the years! Acceptance and rank in the Kingdom of God depends on character, not on possessions.
How often man proposes and God disposes! We say, “We shall yet live for many years, and enjoy the fruit of our labors”; but God says: “‘To-night!'” Listen to the Apostle James, speaking to those who said, “To-day or to-morrow we will go to this city or that, and spend a year there, and carry on a successful business! All the while you do not even know what will happen to-morrow. For your life is but a mist, which appears on the hill-side, but vanishes at the touch of dawn. Surely, we ought to say: If it is the Lord’s will, we shall live, and do this or that” (James 4:13-17).
Many talk of seeing life who see only its most sordid and ugly side. If a man really wishes to see life, and know happy days, the secret is given in 1Peter 3:10-19. This is the message of the Gospel, “That God has given us the Life of the ages, and that this life is in Christ Jesus. He who has the Son has the Life” (John 3:36; 1John 5:12).
Today’s Scriptures: “Serve the Lord with gladness: Come before His presence with singing.”—Psalm 100:2.
“Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, the fruit of lips which make confession to His Name.”—Hebrews 13:15 (R.V.).
THE HUNDREDTH Psalm is rightly entitled “A Psalm of Thanksgiving” (R.V.). The Psalmist calls for a “joyful noise,” i.e. an audible expression of worship. Do not be content with a thankful heart, but express it! It is good to let God have “the fruit of our lips.” As a bird will awaken the whole choir of a woodland glade, so the soul really aglow with loving adoration will spread its own contagion of song. How often Christian people hinder the progress of Christianity by their dullness, gloominess, and depression. His service is perfect freedom, and if we delight ourselves in the Lord, we should serve Him with gladness!
It is very important to maintain the habit of regular church-going because of its opportunity for worship. Let us “enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise!” By meditation and prayer let us ask that we may be accounted worthy to stand in His Presence, and offer praise and adoration to the Most High God, mingled with the fragrance of our Saviour’s Name (Revelation 8:3-4).
“‘The Lord is good!” There are many mysteries, and much pain and sorrow in the world. We must dare to believe and affirm the goodness of God beneath all the distressing elements of modem life. With His goodness are combined His mercy and His truth. Let men do their worst, “His truth endureth to all generations.” It is an impregnable Rock, on which the waves of sin can make no sensible impression. What comfort there is in knowing that equally His mercy is everlasting. We need so much patience, forbearance, and longsuffering, that if God’s mercy were anything less we should despair, but it is extended to every generation till Time shall be no more!
Today’s Scripture: “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him.”—Colossians 2:6.
THE DAILY walk of the Christian soul is so absolutely important because it is our witness to the world. Our character, as exemplified in our behavior, is the world’s only Bible and sermon (2Corinthians 3:2-3). Let us learn to walk so as to please God, and to bless mankind. To walk is at first a matter of considering every little step, but afterwards it becomes the habit of the soul (Colossians 1:10).
We received Jesus into our hearts by faith. He entered through the open door and became our Lord and Master. In the same manner we must live always and everywhere, receiving from Him, by faith, grace upon grace, and allowing what He works in to work out in all manner of godliness, tenderness, and Christlikeness. This practice of looking to Jesus for grace in every circumstance of life tends to become more and more habitual–and this is what the Apostle means when he says, “Rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith.”
But such a walk is only possible when we have learned to “crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24). The flesh is the assertion of our self-life, whether in lesser or grosser forms, but whenever self intrudes it exercises a baleful influence on our behavior and conversation. Just as the iron of the steamer will deflect the needle of the compass, so the intrusion of our self-life will act as a drag upon our character and walk.
How can we crucify the flesh? Only by allowing the Holy Spirit to have supreme control. He makes the Cross every day dearer and more effective. He will conquer evil habits in us and for us, while we stand by as more than conquerors through His grace. If we will be led by Him, there will not only be deliverance from the self-life, but He will produce in us the fruit of holy living which will please God and refresh men.
Today’s Scripture: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Ephesians 5:15-17
Time is a most valuable commodity. Since it’s irreversible and irreplaceable, we ought to give careful consideration to how we spend our days—and even our minutes. Time is a gift from God. That means we are not owners but stewards and will one day be held accountable for how we used what was entrusted to us. According to verse 15, there are only two possible ways to live: wisely or foolishly.
Let’s first consider what is involved in using our time wisely. Those who realize that their days belong to God are careful how they live. Their goal is to understand the Lord’s will and align their schedules
and activities with His purposes. As they seek guidance each day through intimate fellowship with Him in the Word and prayer, their spiritual eyes are opened to discern which opportunities are from the Father and which are not a part of His plans for them.
But those who are foolish do not give adequate thought to the way they live. Some become unproductive and lazy, living for their own pleasures while missing out on God’s purpose for their lives. However, others may be very busy and extremely successful by worldly standards, but if their days are occupied with activities that aren’t God’s will for them, they’re wasting their time.
To make the most of your opportunities, begin each day with the Lord, submitting to His will and asking that He direct your activities. After all, none of us want to get to heaven and discover that even though we’ve been busy spending our time, we have failed to invest it for eternity.
Today’s Scripture: “He will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when He shall hear it, He will answer thee.”—Isaiah 30:19.
THIS IS one of the most exquisite chapters in Isaiah’s prophecy. Notice its profound teaching. God permitted the Assyrian to come because of the deep lessons it would teach the king and people that certain abuses must be checked. The siege would surely come, and they would know something of the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, but the Almighty would be near, speaking to His people not only by their sorrows, but by His servants, and by the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. Thus we have an example of the persuasive providence of God. His grace surrounds and keeps His people, but if we wilfully sin, we break the cordon of His protection. When we repent and turn back again to cry to Him, the gentle hand of the Lord will bind up our wounds and soothe our spirits; songs break forth in the night, and our heart is filled with gladness.
The latter part of this chapter (Isaiah 30:27-33) describes the coming of Sennacherib’s troops. They are terrible, and yet there was a sense in which they were called into existence with God: “Behold the Name of the Lord cometh from afar.” The advance is compared to a terrific thunderstorm, and then to the rush of a mountain torrent. In Isaiah 30:28 the final check is given, as when a wild animal is lassoed and brought to its knees. Presently the enemy would vanish silently, and once more the stricken land would he ploughed up for sowing the seed, streams would flow as before, and joyful harvests reaped.
How tender and gracious are these words to those in pain and distress. Be of good cheer, God has not forgotten to be gracious to you! Take to heart these sweet promises, and ask that the counterpart of these blessings may be granted in your experience.
Today’s Scripture: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.” 2 Peter 3:10-13
With each passing year, the instability in the world seems more and more obvious. Natural and man-made catastrophes claim countless lives; political balance shifts; wealth and status come and go. It all causes us to ask, Is anything unshakeable?
As overwhelming as these things seem, let me give you an even bigger example. In today’s passage, we see that the heavens and earth will be shaken. It will all be destroyed—burned, to be exact. Thankfully, we have the promise that God will create new heavens and earth, but in the meantime our world will undergo great turmoil.
Instability can create feelings of insecurity and fear unless we focus on truths we can stand upon with certainty. The Bible refers to Jesus as a rock and firm foundation (1 Corinthians 3:10-11; Ephesians 2:20). And we know that God is unchangeable and sovereign; nothing can undermine or move Him. His Word is truth, and it will last forever.
As Christians, we know that our eternal relationship with God is secure. We’ve been adopted as His children, and nothing can rob us of this position. What’s more, believers are assured of an eternal home with Him. Though we may at times feel unsettled by our circumstances, we can rejoice when trials bring us humbly to the cross of Jesus—there, we will find true peace and safety.
What assurance we have as God’s children! We can rest in peace and full confidence, knowing that our hearts are secure in Jesus Christ. King David said, “I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8).
Today’s Scripture: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
The human mind is an amazing creation of God. Nothing on earth can match its capabilities or creativity. It controls feelings, thoughts, words, attitudes, and behavior. Who we become and what we achieve are largely due to how and what we think. Wouldn’t it make sense to let the One who created us guide our thought processes?
A clear mind is one that’s aligned with God’s Word and controlled by His Spirit. When the Lord has authority over our thoughts, discernment will guard our perspective. He empowers us to look beyond the surface and view situations as they really are. We can distinguish not just between right and wrong but also between good and best. The Lord has granted us the ability to think rightly no matter what challenges may face us.
But such clear, focused thinking must be deliberately chosen and diligently maintained. If we don’t guard against the world’s influence, we will find ourselves squeezed into its mold. Soon we’ll have a fragmented mind that cannot focus on spiritual things because it is cluttered and clogged with worldly thoughts and concerns. We must carefully consider what we allow into our minds. So ask yourself, Is this helping me become the person God wants me to be, or is it hindering the process?
A renewed mind begins with surrender to the Lord. Until you give Him full authority over your thoughts, you’ll have no power to clear out the clutter that hinders you from living in the fullness of His will. But as you yield to Him and fill your mind with His Word, He’ll transform your life.