Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

Plans

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.  ~~  Jeremiah 29:11   (KJV)

God thinks about you and me. Just as you think about the people in your life, your children, your parents, your friends, your extended family. But God doesn’t wonder what you are up to. He knows. He sees.

God has plans for us, not just humankind in general, but for each and every one of us in particular. He has a vision for our lives – how we will live, what we will do, how it will all turn out.

If we can catch that vision and cooperate with it, our lives will be the best they can possibly be. Seeing God’s vision for our lives can help us to cooperate with his plans and keep us from spending time and energy questing blindly among what seem to be endless options.

It’s easy to say “catch the vision”. But exactly how do we do this?

  • Spend time with Him, quiet time. Listen as much as you talk.
  • Read the Word, letting it sink into your heart and mind.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you what He would have you know.
  • Pray for wisdom and discernment.

The more you hear His voice, the easier it will be to distinguish it from all the other voices in your life and in your head.

Father, God,

Help us to catch your vision for our lives. Grant that we may listen carefully for the promptings of your Holy Spirit and move in obedience to those promptings.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness
In the great assembly;
Indeed, I do not restrain my lips,
O Lord, You Yourself know.

I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart;
I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation;
I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth
From the great assembly.

Psalm 40:9-10  ~~  (NKJV)

These are David’s words. But can we also claim them?

Our culture is not really very sympathetic with the Christian world view these days. Many Christians are nominal Christians. Oh, we go to church on Sunday and can talk the lingo in private groups. But do we hesitate to speak of our God in public where we are not sure how our testimony will be received?

Can we say we have proclaimed the good news in the public square? Do we tell of the good things God has done in us and for us?

Do we speak His words and His heart – even when public opinion goes a different direction?

I’ve been guilty of remaining silent in order not to provoke an argument or debate.

I love people who are living a lifestyle that God condemns, but I do not challenge them on it. I pray that the Holy Spirit would touch them, convict them, redeem them.

But I don’t lecture them about their sin.  I have too many of my own to answer for.

What I can do is to brag on God and what He has done for me and within my own heart.

Father, God,

Open my heart and my mouth to brag of Your love, Your generosity, Your redemption of my sinful self. Strengthen my resolve to speak of You openly, unashamedly in the public square. Give me the words to help woo others to Your love.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen

Who Do You Believe?

Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. ~~ Romans 11:11 (KJV)

We live in an age of information. It’s available in print, over the airwaves, on our cell phones, everywhere. You can find something about anything or anyone.

This is a political year, so I googled “Trump lied” and “Hillary lied”. I came up with pages of references to the lies both candidates had told. But the sources of most of these references could be questionable.  Many of them were from newspapers espousing one candidate or the other. Therefore the “facts” in any of those stories need to be corroborated from independent and neutral sources.

Political years are rife with promises about taxes, about health, about welfare, about jobs, about national security. You name it; someone has promised something about it. Who do you believe? Who can you believe?

In fact, you can believe God. Sarah did, and the impossible happened. She judged him faithful who had promised.

You can believe the Word of God. It has stood for ages and has been proven true time and again.

You can believe the Holy Spirit. He speaks only what God speaks. Listen to Him. Cultivate an eager ear to hear what He would tell you. Make room for communing with God, listening to His words for guidance in your life.

Father, God,

We ask that You sharpen our ears to hear Your voice alone amidst the chaos of our overstimulated lives. Grant us the favor of quiet time with You. Speak simply and clearly that we might know Your will for our lives.

We ask in Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Commissioned

And I came this day unto the well, and said, O Lord God of my master Abraham, if now thou do prosper my way which I go:

Behold, I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass, that when the virgin cometh forth to draw water, and I say to her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water of thy pitcher to drink;

And she say to me, Both drink thou, and I will also draw for thy camels: let the same be the woman whom the Lord hath appointed out for my master’s son.

And before I had done speaking in mine heart, behold, Rebekah came forth with her pitcher on her shoulder; and she went down unto the well, and drew water: and I said unto her, Let me drink, I pray thee.

And she made haste, and let down her pitcher from her shoulder, and said, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: so I drank, and she made the camels drink also.

And I asked her, and said, Whose daughter art thou? And she said, the daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bare unto him: and I put the earring upon her face, and the bracelets upon her hands.

And I bowed down my head, and worshipped the Lord, and blessed the Lord God of my master Abraham, which had led me in the right way to take my master’s brother’s daughter unto his son. ~~  Genesis 24:42-48 (KJV)

We are not told his name, nor anything else about him except that he is Abraham’s servant. But his fidelity to his duty is crucial to God’s plans.

You will note that he doesn’t pray to his own god, but the God of his master. Does he believe in Abraham’s God? We’re not told that. At least he believes God has power – the power to make his journey for Abraham successful.

Can God use an unbeliever to further His kingdom? God can do anything.

We are told the the servant sets out on his journey well-prepared. He comes to the appointed place and gets right to the point with Rebekah, Laban and Bethuel. He was commissioned. He prepared. He journeyed. He prayed. He followed through.

What is our commission, and how do we respond to it? Jesus said “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15 – KJV) That is our primary commission.

How do we prepare? We must fill ourselves with the word of God, become intimately acquainted with Him, listening carefully for the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

We pray, always, for the success of this journey. If our works are not bathed in and grown from prayer, they will have no meaning, no matter how successful they look in terms of worldly accomplishment.

Then we journey into the world, prepared to answer all questions, being transparent about our love of God and His presence in our lives. We speak gently, but boldly. And we love – unconditionally.

Father, God,

Keep us ever faithful to our servant-hood and grant us favor in furthering your Kingdom. Help us to remember that prayer is our first and most powerful weapon in this journey. Grant us tender hearts to connect with those we meet and love them unconditionally.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Adonai

And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?  ~~  Genesis 15:2  (KJV)

This “Lord” is the first usage in scripture of the word Adonai. It comes from a root meaning master, but it is the emphatic form of that root. It’s like printing it in bold print all caps.  MASTER.

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.  ~~  Matthew 6:24 (KjV)

So we get to choose.  Who will we serve?  Do we serve ourselves in the flesh, eating, drinking and making merry? Or do we serve the Lord, listening for His voice, obeying His commandments?

Don’t misunderstand me here. When we choose to serve God, we have just enlisted in His army. There is an enemy who will be only too glad to throw everything he can at us. He’ll drag out the big guns, hoping to discourage us or stop us in our tracks.

But we have read the book and have it on good authority, God’s own words:

Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.  ~~   Isaiah 45:22- 24 (KJV)

Every knee includes the knees of the enemy, the knees of the unbeliever, the knees of the believers – all of them.  In the end, everyone will know the truth and feel the power of God.  They will have to acknowledge His Mastery over the universe.

Jesus queried the disciples about His identity.

He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. ~~  Matthew 16:15-17

I have long contended that God must either laugh or weep over our sectarian differences, that this question Jesus asked of the disciples is the only one that makes any difference.

Our answer should be “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God, and the Master of my life.”  If this is your answer to that question, it makes no difference which church you attend, which discipline you espouse.

Those who answer that question in this way are all brothers and sisters, members of the same family. As such, what touches one of us, touches all of us.

None of us is truly alone – ever.

Father, God,

Help us to see that with You as the Master of our lives, we can be assured that our obedience is all You ask. We thank You that You have given us many siblings in Your family to come along side to comfort, uphold, rebuke, correct, and just plain love us. Keep us ever mindful of Your generosity in granting us the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, as our most intimate guide and friend.

In Jesus’ most precious name,

Amen.

 

Elohim

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.   And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. ~~ Genesis 1:13

Most mainline denominations, both Catholic and Protestant, acknowledge a doctrine of the trinity of God. God in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost).

The opening verses of the Bible contain that concept. Let’s look at it.

In the beginning, God…

There it is, God – the one and only – no modifiers as to which god – just God. He needs nothing but the name to identify him.  But the word used here is Elohim which is a plural construction, equivalent to our word “gods”.

At the end of verse two we have:

And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

The Spirit of God – the Holy Spirit – a second person of God, a second manifestation of God.

Then verse three:

And God said

The Word of God – the Son of God – appears. How do we know this refers to the Son of God?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. ~~ John 1:1-3

These verses in John refer to Jesus, the person of God who limited himself to human form and function to be the redeemer of each of us in this world. The Word of God created our physical world; the Son of God interacted with mankind in the physical world.

The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is slightly difficult to wrap one’s mind around: one God, three persons.

Early on, when I tried to explain the doctrine to others, I used this crude analogy.  I am one person, but I am my mother’s daughter, my husband’s wife, and my children’s mother. I function very differently in relationship to each of these people.  In the same way, each of the Persons of the Trinity functions differently from the others.

God created us; Jesus redeemed us; the Holy Spirit indwells us.

God is our Father; Jesus is our Savior; the Holy Spirit is our Comforter, the Paraclete, the One Who Walks Beside.

God has us covered from all sides.

Father, God,

Help us to wrap our minds around all that You are. Give us the grace to believe what we cannot fully comprehend. Open our ears to the promptings of Your Holy Spirit and strengthen us for immediate and unquestioning obedience.

In Jesus’ most precious name,

Amen.

 

 

Power!

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. ~~ Genesis 17:1

When God says something, we are wise to listen to Him. Here He is talking to Abram in his old age. At ninety-nine years, Abram is no longer a spring chicken. But this sentence is the preface to God’s promise that Abram will be the father of many nations – as yet Abram is still childless.

I find it interesting that God proclaims His power in a setting that has nothing to do with battle. When I think of almighty, I think of conflict, combat and warfare. God doesn’t.

Here He is proclaiming His power over everything – even the conception of children. He is telling Abram to obey Him so that he will be perfect.  The word used for “perfect” comes from a root meaning “entire” or “whole”.

So essentially God is saying “I am the One who is fully powerful in all situations. If you walk in obedience to Me, your life will be complete, full, satisfying.”

How simple!  And how difficult. We seem to be a stubborn and stiff-necked people, always wanting to do things our own way.

I remember Frank Sinatra’s song, I Did It My Way.

Does it ever occur to us that our way may not be the best way? Hardly ever. Do we ever think that God might have a better plan overall? Maybe once in a while.

Reality check here. We don’t know all the ramifications of the things we are about to do. We do not know the plans God has for the people with whom we might interact. We are, in fact, totally limited in knowledge and understanding.

That’s why Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to help us hear Him. If we listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we will avoid foot-in-mouth disease more often. We will be less hindrance to the plans God has for ourselves and others.

We are finite. He is infinite. We will never wrap our finite little minds around the knowledge, understanding and purposes of our Infinite God.

Once we understand this, we will cease striving to do it our own way and discover the freedom and joy of full obedience.

Father, God,

Help us rid ourselves of the arrogance that makes us think we can do it our way. Grant that we may hear Your Holy Spirit prompting us in obedience to You. Give us the grace to walk before you and be perfect.

In Jesus’  most precious name.

Amen.