Years ago there was a song called “He’s Still Working on Me” which said “how loving and patient He must be ’cause He’s still working on me.” (https://youtu.be/AGjrqV-EOfg)
Last week on Good Friday, we celebrated the completed work of salvation in Jesus’ death on the cross. However, His work of sanctification continues on in the lives of Christians all around the world as we are “conformed into the image of [Jesus].” (Romans 8:29-30)
In my daily struggle between a willing Spirit and a weak flesh (Matthew 26:41), I am thankful for the confidence that “He’s still working on me.”
“Jesus said, ‘Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up in him for eternal life.” John 4:13-14 (CSB)
Have you ever been really thirsty? Maybe after a long workout or run. Maybe working out in your yard on a hot summer day. Maybe you’ve been oversees or in a desert area of the US. Do you remember what it was like when you finally got that first sip of water? For most of us, that feeling of quenched thirst is an incredible relief. What’s interesting, though, is that as relieving as that drink of water was, at some point afterwards your thirst returned. You needed another drink of water.
Our bodies were created to yearn for water. In fact, water is a necessity for life. It’s no surprise that Jesus used water as a metaphor for Himself, calling Himself Living Water. Ever since humanity’s relationship with God was broken by sin, our spirit deeply yearns to be reconciled with its Creator.
David cries out “God, you are my God; I eagerly seek you. I thirst for you; my body faints for you in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water.” (Psalm 63)
What a picture! For me, too often my spiritual thirst wanes. I long to be close to God, but the things of the world distract my attention away from the only One who can completely satisfy.
God, may my spiritual thirst for You match the intensity of my physical thirst.
“Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (CSB)
Do Not Be Afraid
Do you remember a time when you were afraid? Fear comes in many forms often as a result of something unknown such as fear of trying something new, fear of being in a new places, fear of something uncontrollable, fear of a strange noise in the middle of the night, and many others. We all feel fear at some time and in some way.
Moses had passed away, and Joshua had taken on the mantle as Israel’s leader. He was standing face-to-face with a whole world of questions and unknowns. Could he be as good of a leader as Moses? Would God’s people follow Him even when things get tough? Could he lead God’s people to take the land God had promised?
God instructed Joshua to be courageous and not be afraid. God’s gave two primary reasons Joshua had no grounds to be fearful of what was ahead: 1) God’s promise to be with him (v 5) and 2) Joshua had “God’s Word” to lean on (v 7-8).
These are the same promises we have as followers of Jesus. Jesus Himself promised He would be with us always (Matthew 28:20) and Peter reminds us we have “all we need for life and godliness” through the indwelling Spirit of God and the Scriptures (2 Peter 1:3)
We must be careful, though, not assume our trust in God guarantees all things will work out in the exact way we want. No, our courage is based on our trust in God who is working out His plan.
Psalm 56:3 gives us a great prayer: “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.”
God, when I am afraid, help me trust that You are with me and have given me all I need to be courageous.
“The Lord is good and upright; therefore he shows sinners the way.” ~ Psalms 25:8 CSB
While it isn’t enjoyable when we become aware of our sin, it is, in fact, through God’s goodness and mercy that He reveals our sinful ways to us. His desire is to draw us in. Paul tells us in Ephesians 5: “all things become visible when they are exposed by the light…” (Ephesians 5:13 NASB). So it is natural for our sin to be more clearly revealed as we get close to Jesus.
Therefore it is an unpleasant necessity for our sin to be revealed in the light of Jesus’ holiness as we draw near to him.
The great news of this revelation is that “if we confess (recognize, agree, and admit) our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 CSB) This is great news indeed because through this repentance we are conformed into the image of Christ.
God, may I graciously receive the light You shine on my life and confess in repentance the sin in my life that is exposed.
In contrast to the heavens and the earth in verses 1-6 which do not have the ability to praise God with words, David prays that his words would be acceptable offerings of praise.
What a great prayer for me as well! “God, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you.”
This image was originally posted to Facebook on March 18, 2015.
“Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (CSB)
There is a lot packed into this passage. Let’s focus on a few key parts.
1. There is only one God. He alone is to worshiped.
2. God expects us to love Him with our entire being. He isn’t interested in simply getting a compartment of your life. . . even it’s the largest compartment. His desire is your entire life to be filtered through Him.
3. Older generations have a responsibility to train up younger generations. Yes, most directly, this falls to parents, but it doesn’t stop there (see Deuteronomy 4:9-10 and Titus 2:1-7). Each generation should seek to learn as much as possible from the previous generation and to invest as much as possible the generations that follow.
4. Once-a-week investment in younger generations will not suffice to pass the baton of faith. Part of older generations investment in the younger must include encouraging and equipping parents to lead their children in the faith.
God, grant me wisdom to learn from those who have gone before me and invest often in those that follow.
“So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. . . God saw all that he had made, and it was very good indeed.” Genesis 1:27-28a, 31 (CSB)
By setting in motion the minutest details of creation, God demonstrated His right to rule over the matters of the family from the very beginning. Did you notice the repetition in verse 27? “God created…he created…he created.” An emphatic point is being made here. God is Creator and set all things in motion according to His plan. Not only did God set all things in motion, but He also sustains all things by holding them together (See Colossians 1:17).
Have you ever thought about the following fact? God had infinite options at His disposal when creating families. He did not have to make man and woman the way He did. Within His design, God set forth a specific plan to create the human race as a replicable species with a special place within creation – His image bearers. Note that after creating mankind God “saw all that he had made, and it was very good indeed.” What happened next? He rested. He was satisfied and content with His perfect design.
As Creator God exercised His authority in His master plan. As His creation, our job is to submit to His plan. That’s easier said than done, of course, but let’s pray for the strength to humble ourselves before Him.
God, help me recognize Your authority over me and give me the strength and wisdom to willingly submit to Your created plan.
Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus
“Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2a (CSB)
Think of people you know who have “run the race” of faith well. People who seemingly soared in their growth and devotion to God. These people should be examples to us that an “all in” life for Jesus is not only possible, but living “all in” for Jesus gives us the most satisfying and abundant life we could desire. Following the great examples from the “Hall of Faith” in chapter eleven, the writer of Hebrews issues 3 challenges we should consider for our personal faith race.
1. Lay aside anything that competes to steer your attention away from God, such as sin, fear, inadequacies, etc. Anything that might distract you from loving God with your whole heart, soul, and mind must be relinquished (paraphrased from Matthew 22:37, see also 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Galatians 2:20).
2. Run with endurance. Endurance can be defined as the “strength to continue… despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions.” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/endurance) Paul said one thing I do: forgetting what is behind I press on to what is ahead (paraphrased from Philippians. 3:13b).
3. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Jesus said we should love Him with ALL we are. He’s not interested in just having the largest compartment of your life; He wants you to filter your life through Him.
God, reveal to me anything that hinders me from loving You with all I am and grant me the strength to lay it aside.