Wednesday, June 20, 2018
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
The greatest secret I know about living a victorious life is this: Holiness is not the way to Christ--Christ is the way to holiness.
We think, “If I could pray enough, live purely enough, study my Bible enough, or get my life holy enough, that would bring me closer to Jesus.That would bring me into a relationship with Him.”
But not so! It is Jesus Christ Who enables you to pray. It is Jesus Christ Who enables you to study the Bible. It is Jesus Christ Who enables you to live the pure life. Holiness is not the way to Christ--Christ is the way to holiness.
We can never work ourselves into being “holy enough” to qualify for closeness with Jesus! Just as Elisha was identified with Elijah, so you must be identified with the Lord Jesus Christ. It happens in relationship--you must spend time with Him. We become like who we spend time with.
by Kevin Spear
Today's Bible Verse...
We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.—2 Thessalonians 1:12
I can't think of a more lofty goal for today than that the name of Jesus be glorified in what we do and say. But then Paul takes it a step further — that we find our glory by being identified with him! As the famed old hymn "Beneath the Cross of Jesus" says it, "my glory all the cross."
The Thoughts and Prayer on Today's Verse are written by Phil Ware.
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
by GLYNNIS WHITWER
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.” Matthew 10:29 (NIV)
A good friend’s father abandoned the family when she was young. As a result, she struggled relating to God as her Father. Another friend’s dad was harsh and critical. It took years for her to feel unconditionally loved by God.
As a young Christian, I was thankful I didn’t have major issues with my father. Although my dad wasn’t a Christ-follower, he allowed my mom to take me and my little sister to church. And though he never said, “I love you” nor attended any of my school performances, I knew he loved me in his own way. My father was a good man, hardworking and faithful to his family. However, he was an uninvolved presence in my life.
So if I had a problem, I went to my mother. If I got into trouble, I called my mother. When I wanted advice, well, you can guess whom I called. This didn’t seem odd to me.
For years I congratulated myself on navigating my father’s distant personality with minimal negative impact. I was deeply aware it could have been worse, and I thanked God for a happy childhood. It wasn’t until years later as an adult that I pushed a little deeper into relating to God as my heavenly Father, based on my earthly experience.
Back then I’d heard everyone (even those with great dads) has some kind of “father issue” with God because of their human (and inherently sinful) earthly fathers. While I wanted to dismiss it, I decided to revisit the topic. Could it be true for me? Was there something missing in my relationship with God?
As I dug deep, I discovered that although I was confident of God’s love, I didn’t really trust Him to be there in times of trouble. Would He step in if I had a problem? Does God even care about me?
Every question revealed the same disturbing truth: I didn’t really, truly, deep in my heart, trust God. Believe in? Yes. Love? Yes. But ... trust? The words were easy to mouth, but my heart wasn’t singing the same tune.
This realization shed light on so many issues that hadn’t seemed troublesome enough to address. Like why I had trouble praying for myself. And why I had so much fear for myself and my children, or why I neglected to seek God’s wisdom in decision-making.
Seems I really did have “father issues” that affected my intimacy with God. I didn’t know what it was like to have a father to turn to in good or bad times. But I wanted to learn.
I desperately wanted to know God as a perfect Father.
So as awkward as it felt, I made some changes.
I intentionally got more personal in prayer, even addressing God as “Dad.” (Mark 14:36) Faced with decisions, even small ones, I asked God for advice. (James 1:5) And when fear started to well up, like when I navigated a fear of flying, I declared, “I don’t trust the pilot, I don’t trust the mechanic who tightened the bolts, I don’t trust the weather, I trust YOU!” (Psalm 91)
Little by little, my faith and trust grew. I took doubtful thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and intentionally exchanged them with thoughts that affirmed God’s trustworthiness to help in times of trouble.
I also took today’s key verse to heart: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care” (Matthew 10:29). It took years to rewire my thinking with the truth about God’s ability and willingness to be my heavenly Father. And honestly, I’m still a work in progress.
When I slip back into my independent ways, I must choose to believe what’s true: I have a Heavenly Father who wants to be my hero, champion, protector and confidant -- if I’ll only let Him.
Dear heavenly Father, You’re perfect in all Your ways. Your Word says You are a loving father, and I long to know You that way. Only You know the gaps in our relationship based on my imperfect understanding of You. Please reveal them to me, and help me work through them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Rover's Spiritual Gifts
Water and Spirit — they track together as key components in conversion and the new birth throughout the New Testament. One is an act of submission and surrender. The other a gift and reminder that only God can make us new by his power. No wonder Jesus made them so important to being a part of his Kingdom.
My Prayer...Holy and righteous Father. I acknowledge that my best efforts often fail and my consistency isn't always consistent. That's why I'm so thankful you have given me your grace in Jesus and made me new by my spiritual birth into your family. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
The Thoughts and Prayer on Today's Verse are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.