“I will cause you to walk in My statutes” (Eze. xxxvi. 27).

The highest spiritual condition is one where life is spontaneous and flows without effort, like the deep floods of Ezekiel’s river, where the struggles of the swimmer ceased, and he was borne by the current’s resistless force.

So God leads us into spiritual conditions and habits which become the spontaneous impulses of our being, and we live and move in the fulness of the divine life.

But these spiritual habits are not the outcome of some transitory impulse, but are often slowly acquired and established. They begin, like every true habit, in a definite act of will, and they are confirmed by the repetition of that act until it becomes a habit. The first stages always involve effort and choice. We have to take a stand and hold it steadily, and after we have done so a certain time, it becomes second nature, and carries us by its own force.

The Holy Spirit is willing to form such habits in every direction of our Christian life, and if we will but obey Him in the first steppings of faith, we will soon become established in the attitude of obedience, and duty will be delight.

 

http://devotionals.ochristian.com/a-b-simpson-devotional.shtml

Continue in prayer. Colossians 4:2

It is interesting to remark how large a portion of Sacred Writ is occupied with the subject of prayer, either in furnishing examples, enforcing precepts, or pronouncing promises. We scarcely open the Bible before we read, “Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord;” and just as we are about to close the volume, the “Amen” of an earnest supplication meets our ear. Instances are plentiful. Here we find a wrestling Jacob-there a Daniel who prayed three times a day-and a David who with all his heart called upon his God. On the mountain we see Elias; in the dungeon Paul and Silas. We have multitudes of commands, and myriads of promises. What does this teach us, but the sacred importance and necessity of prayer? We may be certain that whatever God has made prominent in His Word, He intended to be conspicuous in our lives. If He has said much about prayer, it is because He knows we have much need of it. So deep are our necessities, that until we are in heaven we must not cease to pray. Dost thou want nothing?Then, I fear thou dost not know thy poverty. Hast thou no mercy to ask of God? Then, may the Lord’s mercy show thee thy misery! A prayerless soul is a Christless soul. Prayer is the lisping of the believing infant, the shout of the fighting believer, the requiem of the dying saint falling asleep in Jesus. It is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honour of a Christian. If thou be a child of God, thou wilt seek thy Father’s face, and live in thy Father’s love. Pray that this year thou mayst be holy, humble, zealous, and patient; have closer communion with Christ, and enter oftener into the banqueting-house of His love. Pray that thou mayst be an example and a blessing unto others, and that thou mayst live more to the glory of thy Master. The motto for this year must be, “Continue in prayer.”

http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/morningandevening/

Heaven – This Way

“You know the way to the place where I am going” John 14:4

The classic World War II movie The Longest Day portrays one of the clever military strategies of the German army. After the Allies had taken the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, their orders were to assemble in the town of St. Mere-Eglise in France. When they saw the sign for St. Mere-Eglise, naturally they proceeded in that direction. There was only one problem: The Germans had turned the sign to point in the opposite direction.

Unknowingly, the Allied forces confidently followed the sign and started marching toward the German trap. The hero of the Allied forces, played by John Wayne, showed up just in time to rescue them from certain destruction. One glance at his compass told him they were heading for disaster. “Hey, where’s everybody going?” he shouted. “Am I the only one here with a compass? It’s east; it’s east. Somebody moved the sign!”

It’s an old trick, but in our spiritual lives Satan continues to use it against us with great success. He turns the signs pointing to ultimate victory and a great final destiny toward the defeating attitudes of fear, despair, and hopelessness. Jesus, on the eve of His death, wanted to prepare His friends for the battle ahead. He knew that the disciples would be confused and disoriented by the enemy, so He lovingly assured them of victory and pointed them toward their final destination, heaven. He’s done the same for us. He assures us that regardless of the forces that might come against us today, heaven is just ahead and the victory is ours!

Jesus won the victory on “D-Day” when He died on the cross for you! At that point it was His intention to set your heart on heaven. Keeping our eyes on heaven means that regardless of what we face, we know where we are headed. Heavenward travelers proceed with the confidence that all the difficulties of the journey are merely temporary and well worth the pain in light of the ultimate and eternal joy of our destination. But beware! Satan wants nothing more than to distract and disorient your heart. He craftily points the sign toward feelings of inadequacy and defeat. He masks the signs pointing to guilt and regret with slick invitations to seduction and compromise. In fact, many of his distractions claim that heaven is really the here and now if only you will engage in a little out-of-bounds pleasure or in living to increase your stacks of stuff. When we think we’ve got heaven here, the enemy has won the day. But it’s not too late to get back on track. Jesus holds the compass, and He knows that to follow Satan’s clever shifting of the sign is to walk right into the trap of Satan’s destruction. He knows the territory well and is calling us to follow Him all the way to heaven—the ultimate destination of eternal fulfillment and joy!

Hear Him shouting to your heart: “Hey, you’re going the wrong way! Follow me!”

YOUR JOURNEY…

  • What earth-side stuff has gotten you off the heaven-bound way with Jesus lately? Is it an attitude, an emotion, an action, or a temptation that you consistently fall prey to? How would a clear view of your destination help you to rearrange your priorities and to turn your back on the destructive failures of going in the wrong direction? Be specific.
  • If you knew that it was Satan who was beckoning you to go in the wrong direction, would it make any difference? Read 1 Peter 5:8. What steps can you take to get your life back on the road toward heaven?

http://getmorestrength.org/daily/heaven-this-way/

Expect Great Things from God

“Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”                                          1Sa 7:12

The Bible says, “Then Samuel took a stone…and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.’” As you end this year and look back, what do you see? Monuments to failure? Wasted opportunities? When it comes to your failures, God says, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins” (Isa 43:25). When it comes to your wasted opportunities, God says, “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten” (Joel 2:25 NKJV). A wise man said, “If we do not learn from the past we are doomed to repeat it.” It’s okay to look back and learn, but if you drive looking in the rearview mirror you’ll end up in a ditch. Whether good or bad, don’t get stuck in the past. “Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this” (Ecc 7:10). One of the dangers of growing old is that you become more excited over the past than you are over the future. A lady wrote to a newspaper editor and said, “Your newspaper is not as good as it used to be.” He wrote back and quipped, “It never has been.” God says, “I know the plans I have for you…they are plans for good” (Jer 29:11 TLB). God has a plan for you this year. So, “hats off to the past and coats off to the future!” Roll up your sleeves, go to work, and expect great things from God.

http://www.theencouragingword.org

1 Samuel 7:12 Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.

The word “hitherto” seems like a hand pointing in the direction of the past. Twenty years or seventy, and yet, “hitherto the Lord hath helped!” Through poverty, through wealth, through sickness, through health, at home, abroad, on the land, on the sea, in honour, in dishonour, in perplexity, in joy, in trial, in triumph, in prayer, in temptation, “hitherto hath the Lord helped us!” We delight to look down a long avenue of trees. It is delightful to gaze from end to end of the long vista, a sort of verdant temple, with its branching pillars and its arches of leaves; even so look down the long aisles of your years, at the green boughs of mercy overhead, and the strong pillars of lovingkindness and faithfulness which bear up your joys. Are there no birds in yonder branches singing? Surely there must be many, and they all sing of mercy received “hitherto.” But the word also points forward. For when a man gets up to a certain mark and writes “hitherto,” he is not yet at the end, there is still a distance to be traversed. More trials, more joys; more temptations, more triumphs; more prayers, more answers; more toils, more strength; more fights, more victories; and then come sickness, old age, disease, death. Is it over now? No! there is more yet-awakening in Jesu’s likeness, thrones, harps, songs, psalms, white raiment, the face of Jesus, the society of saints, the glory of God, the fulness of eternity, the infinity of bliss. O be of good courage, believer, and with grateful confidence raise thy “Ebenezer,” for-
He who hath helped thee hitherto
Will help thee all thy journey through.
When read in heaven’s light how glorious and marvellous a prospect will thy “hitherto” unfold to thy grateful eye!

Continuous Conversion

. . . unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven —Matthew 18:3

These words of our Lord refer to our initial conversion, but we should continue to turn to God as children, being continuously converted every day of our lives. If we trust in our own abilities, instead of God’s, we produce consequences for which God will hold us responsible. When God through His sovereignty brings us into new situations, we should immediately make sure that our natural life submits to the spiritual, obeying the orders of the Spirit of God. Just because we have responded properly in the past is no guarantee that we will do so again. The response of the natural to the spiritual should be continuous conversion, but this is where we so often refuse to be obedient. No matter what our situation is, the Spirit of God remains unchanged and His salvation unaltered. But we must “put on the new man . . .” (Ephesians 4:24). God holds us accountable every time we refuse to convert ourselves, and He sees our refusal as willful disobedience. Our natural life must not rule— God must rule in us.

To refuse to be continuously converted puts a stumbling block in the growth of our spiritual life. There are areas of self-will in our lives where our pride pours contempt on the throne of God and says, “I won’t submit.” We deify our independence and self-will and call them by the wrong name. What God sees as stubborn weakness, we call strength. There are whole areas of our lives that have not yet been brought into submission, and this can only be done by this continuous conversion. Slowly but surely we can claim the whole territory for the Spirit of God.

http://utmost.org/continuous-conversion/

“The Secret of the Lord”

The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him . . . —Psalm 25:14

What is the sign of a friend? Is it that he tells you his secret sorrows? No, it is that he tells you his secret joys. Many people will confide their secret sorrows to you, but the final mark of intimacy is when they share their secret joys with you. Have we ever let God tell us any of His joys? Or are we continually telling God our secrets, leaving Him no time to talk to us? At the beginning of our Christian life we are full of requests to God. But then we find that God wants to get us into an intimate relationship with Himself— to get us in touch with His purposes. Are we so intimately united to Jesus Christ’s idea of prayer— “Your will be done” (Matthew 6:10)— that we catch the secrets of God? What makes God so dear to us is not so much His big blessings to us, but the tiny things, because they show His amazing intimacy with us— He knows every detail of each of our individual lives.

“Him shall He teach in the way He chooses” (Psalm 25:12). At first, we want the awareness of being guided by God. But then as we grow spiritually, we live so fully aware of God that we do not even need to ask what His will is, because the thought of choosing another way will never occur to us. If we are saved and sanctified, God guides us by our everyday choices. And if we are about to choose what He does not want, He will give us a sense of doubt or restraint, which we must heed. Whenever there is doubt, stop at once. Never try to reason it out, saying, “I wonder why I shouldn’t do this?” God instructs us in what we choose; that is, He actually guides our common sense. And when we yield to His teachings and guidance, we no longer hinder His Spirit by continually asking, “Now, Lord, what is Your will?”

http://utmost.org/the-secret-of-the-lord/

Are You an Administrator of Grace?-by Mark D. Roberts

Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you…

In the first two chapters of Ephesians, Paul paints in broad strokes a picture of God’s saving, unifying work in the cosmos. He concludes by focusing on the people of God, who serve as a unified, holy temple in which the Spirit of God dwells.

Chapter 3 begins in a different vein, with Paul explaining his mission in light of God’s cosmic work. After noting that he is a prisoner (literally) because of his ministry to the Gentiles (3:1), Paul writes: “Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you…” The Greek word translated here as “administration” is oikonomia, which means “management, arrangement, or stewardship.” It is closely related to the word oikonomos, which referred to one who managed a household or property belonging to a master. Paul sees himself as one to whom God has entrusted his grace, and who is responsible for administering this grace faithfully. God endowed Paul with a very specific element of grace, namely, the gospel of Jesus Christ and its implications. Paul’s particular administration meant delivering this good news to the Gentiles.

Though you and I have not been sent as the first proclaimer of the gospel to the Gentiles, we also have been entrusted with God’s grace so that we might manage it well. In a sense, all that we have has been given to us and is therefore a manifestation of grace: our life, our talents, our education, our opportunities. Yes, even our families, our jobs, our cultural power, and our financial resources are elements of divine grace. God has given us everything we have so that we might use it well for his purposes. Therefore, like Paul, we are to be administrators of grace.

As I think about my life, I find this perspective to be both refreshing and challenging. It enables me to see my whole life as a participate in God’s gracious work in the world. It encourages me to ask myself the following questions, which I invite you to consider as well.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do I see my life as an opportunity to administer God’s grace? If I were to see my work in this way, how might I work differently? How faithful and effective am I as an administrator of God’s grace?

PRAYER: Thank you, dear Lord, for all that you have given to me, for the countless manifestations of your grace in my life. Help me to see my life as an opportunity to administer your grace faithfully, for your purposes. Teach me to think of myself as an administrator of grace no matter where I am or what I am doing. May this perspective transform my work, my relationships, my daily priorities. To you be all the glory. Amen.

http://www.thehighcalling.org/reflection/are-you-administrator-grace

Put God First

Jesus did not commit Himself to them . . .for He knew what was in man —John 2:24-25

Put Trust in God First. Our Lord never put His trust in any person. Yet He was never suspicious, never bitter, and never lost hope for anyone, because He put His trust in God first. He trusted absolutely in what God’s grace could do for others. If I put my trust in human beings first, the end result will be my despair and hopelessness toward everyone. I will become bitter because I have insisted that people be what no person can ever be— absolutely perfect and right. Never trust anything in yourself or in anyone else, except the grace of God.

Put God’s Will First. “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God” (Hebrews 10:9).

A person’s obedience is to what he sees to be a need— our Lord’s obedience was to the will of His Father. The rallying cry today is, “We must get to work! The heathen are dying without God. We must go and tell them about Him.” But we must first make sure that God’s “needs” and His will in us personally are being met. Jesus said, “. . . tarry . . . until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). The purpose of our Christian training is to get us into the right relationship to the “needs” of God and His will. Once God’s “needs” in us have been met, He will open the way for us to accomplish His will, meeting His “needs” elsewhere.

Put God’s Son First. “Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me” (Matthew 18:5).

God came as a baby, giving and entrusting Himself to me. He expects my personal life to be a “Bethlehem.” Am I allowing my natural life to be slowly transformed by the indwelling life of the Son of God? God’s ultimate purpose is that His Son might be exhibited in me.

http://utmost.org/put-god-first/

This is the land which ye shall inherit. Num 34:13

It is important that we should know the limits and possibilities of our lives. We must beat the bounds, first to know how far we may go; and secondly where we must stop, in our inheritance.

How far we may go. – It is our privilege to know God and the hope of His calling, and the riches of the glory of His indwelling in our hearts, and the power of the Resurrection throbbing within us, lifting us to share the risen life of Jesus. Day by day we may be kept from yielding to known sin; day by day, though keenly conscious of temptation, we may be more than conquerors; day by day, the Holy Spirit may work in us perfect love toward God and man, to the limit of our light; day by day the Lord Jesus may be more perfectly formed within us.

Where we must stop. – We may expect to be blameless, but not faultless, till He present us to Himself: to be delivered from temptation, but not freed from its assaults: to be kept in perfect peace, but not secured from the pressure of adversity: to be dead to sin and self, but not daring to say that either is dead within us: to be delivered from this present evil world, as to spirit and temper, though still called to inhabit it as its salt and light. Take possession of every inch of God-given territory in Jesus, but beware of going beyond it.

It is a solemn question to all who have been appointed leaders in God’s hosts, whether they are rightly dividing their heritage. We must hold back nothing that is profitable: nor must we shun to declare the whole counsel of God. Let our preaching and teaching include all God’s provision for His children.

http://devotionals.ochristian.com/f-b-meyer-devotional.shtml