A couple of years ago, the southern half of the United States went through a time of drought that led to a widespread crop damage. At the same time, the western part of the country was also experiencing an extensive drought, and wildfires threatened the lives and homes of countless people.
When dryness comes, it is easy to shrug our shoulders and think, “It will rain soon.” However, after a few weeks with no sign of rain, we begin to wonder if we will ever see wet pavement again. The spiritual drought that hit Judah lasted for years. The people were spiritually dry and failing in their development to God. Yet they were the ones to blame because they had abandoned their devotion to the Lord.
God led Ezekiel to a valley where a mighty battle had taken place. Dry, sun-bleached bones littered the landscape, and the prophet felt hopeless at the sight. However, God reminded him that He had not abandoned His plan for the nation. Once again, He would breathe life into the nation, and even the bones in this valley would rise to new life.
When we open the door to sin, our lives become dry. When we ignore it, they become even dryer. When we refuse to heed God’s warning by turning away from the very things that separate us from Him, we become dryer still.
Spiritual dryness leads to complacency and apathy. It brings a sense of deadness to our souls and turns us away from the things of God. Satan loves to entice us away from spending time alone with God in prayer and Bible study each day. He knows that if we fail to read God’s Word, our lives will become dry, and we will lack the right kind of refreshment that brings life, hope, and joy to our souls.
If you feel dry and weary, turn back to God, and drink deeply from His pool of everlasting refreshment and life. Then you will be spiritually revived and renewed.
2 Chronicles 9:8
“Blessed be the LORD your God, who delighted in you, setting you on His throne to be king for the LORD your God! Because your God has loved Israel, to establish them forever, therefore He made you king over them, to do justice and righteousness.”
King Solomon was one of the greatest kings of Israel. During his reign, Israel experienced a great time of peace and prosperity. In 2 Chronicles 2, we see that Solomon asked the Lord for wisdom to rule the people and in response to this request; God blessed him with riches and honor like no other before or after. After this, Solomon’s wisdom was known throughout the world and rulers like the queen of Sheba, came to hear his words and see his wealth.
Much like Solomon, God has blessed each and every one of us with something. It may not be the great power and wealth that Solomon had, but everything we have can be used for Him. When we use our time, money or words to be a blessing, we are living out the Gospel and bringing glory to God. Today, look for opportunities to bless others. As you do this, others around you will take notice and like the queen of Sheba will proclaim, “Blessed be the Lord your God.”
Life Lesson: God blesses us so we can be a blessing to others.
Thank You for the blessings in my life. I praise You for giving me so much and I pray that You would help me to use it for You. Open my eyes today for opportunities to bless others and glorify Your name. Continue to use me to reach others with the Gospel. In Jesus’ name, Amen
“On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.”
It was a simple statement. “Let us cross over to the other side.” Many of the disciples had sailed the Sea of Galilee before. They had fished the waters and endured some of the bad weather that often came onto the sea. Yet when Jesus asked them to cross over to the other side, they were not aware of the lesson in faith that Jesus was about to share with them.
Mark 4:37-38 “And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’” NKJV
While crossing to the other side, Jesus fell asleep on the boat. During his nap, the disciples experienced a terrible storm. I may not be a sailor, but I know that the water should remain on the outside of the boat and in this instance, it wasn’t. Frightened by the event, the disciples woke Jesus up and expressed their fear. Immediately, Jesus spoke to the wind and waves and the sea became calm. You see friend, the disciples had lost sight of Jesus’ words. He told them before leaving that their destination was “the other side.” He didn’t promise them still waters the whole time, but he did tell them they would get to their destination. The same is true with our lives. If you have been born again, then you have been given the promise of “the other side.” Nothing can take that from you. You may encounter storms, but in the end, Jesus will pronounce peace, and you will find yourself on the other side, at the feet of Jesus Himself.
Life Lesson: Jesus is our peace during the storms of life.
Thank You for Your peace and for Your promise of heaven. Help me to keep my mind focused on eternity so that I will not lose hope here on earth. Fill me with Your Spirit and use my life to share God’s peace with the world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
2 Peter 3:18
Not many people can say that on the day they accepted Christ, someone explained how to grow spiritually. Sadly, some believers aren’t ever taught. God wants His children to bear the image of Christ, but we do not grow in our faith unless we take action.
First, we are responsible for renewing our mind (Rom. 12:2). Though God saves us and gives us a new spirit, He does not give us a new brain. Our minds have many trenches that have been dug or worn by rebellion, self-focus, or habit. That is why it’s important to meditate on the Bible, which expresses the thoughts of God. Meditation is more than reading—it involves thinking about what the words mean and then applying truth. There’s no way to grow spiritually without absorbing Scripture into our thinking.
A second step toward Christian maturity is being ready to admit and assume responsibility for failure. When we deny our sins, we delay spiritual growth, but as we learn to confess wrongdoing, the opposite happens—growth is inevitable.
The third step naturally follows the second: after confession should come repentance. This is more than a mere acknowledgement of wrongdoing or a promise to try harder. Repentance means that we commit to make an about-face and head in the opposite direction from our sin.
Our Father’s goal is for all believers to continually make progress toward Christlikeness. With these steps, you’ll develop in that direction. And the most important consequence is that your relationship with God will deepen.
David was the anointed king of Israel, but before he could enjoy the realization of God’s promises, he had to go through a season of testing and waiting. During this time, he was forced to hide out in caves and literally run for his life. King Saul, who was bent on David’s destruction, continually hunted for him. Perhaps the Lord has given you a promise through His Word. You are ready to see it unfold, but it hasn’t happened yet. Though you have waited, it seems that there is no hope on the horizon. Remember, God’s timing is perfect.
He knows what you need, when you need it. He knows that if we are going to learn how to walk with Him in the daylight or the good times, we must learn first to trust Him in times of darkness.
At some point, each of us has waited for God’s promises to come. David may have wondered when the Lord would open the door to blessing. However, he never allowed his thoughts to turn to doubts. In fact, in Psalm 18:17, 19, he praises God for the victory he knew would be his one day. “(God) delivered me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me … He brought me forth also into a broad (or spacious) place, He rescued me, because He delighted in me.”
When God delivers you from trial and trouble, you can be sure that He will bring you out into a spacious place of joy and delight – one that also will glorify Him and add encouragement to your life. Have you been pushing and shoving in an effort to move God on to the place where you think you should be? If so, stop and be determined to wait on God. The time you spend waiting in darkness will one day be rewarded by the Father of lights (James 1:17).
Psalm 119:72 says,
The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver.
We understand “the law of Your mouth” to be God’s Word. And what the psalmist is saying is, “Lord, Your word is better to me than a pile of silver or a pile of gold.”
Let’s say you are offered a position at a particular company—offered a great job, great increase of pay, and maybe the housing in that area is less. It is your dream job! But you investigate things, and you find out there is not a good spirit-filled Bible teaching church in that town where the job is. But you can make a lot more money! Do you go? It depends on how much you value God’s Word.
One gentleman who was very involved in my church came to me one day and announced that he was moving. I asked him, “Did you find a church there?” He replied, “No, no. There’s not a good church in the town at all. But I’m going to be making a lot more money. We can get a bigger house. It’s going to be great.”
A year later his teenage daughter was pregnant, his boy was in juvenile hall, he and his wife were getting a divorce, and he was back on drugs. But, hey! He was making a lot more money.
In our society, it is so easy to make decisions based solely on money. And sadly, it is the ruin of many a family and relationship. Value first God’s Word. Value it more than anything our world can give you.
If you do, you will never be disappointed.
Psalms 107:20 says,
He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.
God has given us His Word for our benefit, and yet so many Christians ignore it to their hurt.
It is like the story of the woman a preacher went to visit one day. She lived in a dilapidated house. As long as he had known her, she had struggled with poverty. Twenty years earlier she had been the housekeeper for the wealthiest woman in town, but the wealthy woman had died. So this housekeeper moved into an old shack.
As the pastor was visiting her, he noticed a document framed on the wall. He said, “Do you mind if I borrow this for a few days?” She replied, “Well, you can borrow it, but please bring it back. Although I can’t read, it is very important to me. It is the only thing that the lady left me when she died. It is very valuable to me. It reminds me of her. So make sure you bring it back.”
He took it and had it investigated and authenticated. It was the will of the woman who had died, and in the will she left her housekeeper a fortune. The housekeeper could have had any house she wanted in the whole city and had servants of her own, but due to her ignorance, she lived in poverty and had a rough go of it all those years.
That woman reminds me of a lot of Christians. They don’t read their Bible, but they admire it because it reminds them of God. They haven’t taken time to find out the inheritance that belongs to them as believers.
God’s Word is a light to our path. It is our guidebook for life. It is bread for our spirit. It is our strength. It is our refuge in troubled times.
Cherish God’s Word.
“So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow.”
Paul had taken a Nazarite vow that he would not touch a dead body; he would drink no wine, eat no grapes, eat no raisins, and allow his hair to grow before cutting it off as a sign of purification (see Numbers 6). But wait, you say, isn’t Paul the one who told us that those under grace should not be under bondage? In Galatians 5:1, he wrote, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” This was not bondage for Paul because it kept the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ relatable to the Jews. It was also profitable in that it gave Paul the opportunity to model service and sacrifice as an example for other Christians. Friends, I am going to let you in on something that may surprise you, commitment is not bondage. It is by God’s grace that we have been given the opportunity to serve Him. How do we serve God? We serve Him by serving others and His church. Is commitment service or sacrifice? It is both. Every Christian should be ready to serve and be ready for sacrifice. What was the model set forth for us by Jesus? It was one of service and sacrifice. If we are to be “Christ-like” then we must be ready and willing to commit ourselves to live by the example He set for us. We hold ourselves to commitments every day. Commitments we make at our jobs, with our family and friends. What about our commitment to Jesus and to His church?
Proverbs 16:3 reads, “Commit your work to the LORD, and then your plans will succeed.” NLT
Service or sacrifice, whichever it may be, I’m ready. That is the mindset of a true servant of God.
Life Lesson: We should be committed to God and to the church.
1 John 1:5-9
Whether we have recently become believers or have followed Christ for years, the Devil seeks to attack our faith and cause us to relapse into disobedient ways. We are warned to be alert because our Enemy is like a roaring lion seeking to harm us (1 Pet. 5:8).
His intentions are to enslave us to sin. When we succumb to temptation, Satan presses in to trap us so that we will feel estranged from our heavenly Father. Then the Enemy will try to convince us we cannot return to God in our current state. Some of us become so miserable that we buy into the lie and embrace the world’s ways.
Since our Father knows both the Devil’s tactics and our weaknesses, He has planned a way of escape for us. It is called confession. Genuine confession means telling the Lord what we have done and agreeing that it is wrong. Then we express sorrow over it, acknowledge inability to rescue ourselves, and declare the heartfelt desire to turn from our sin and live for Him again. God promises to forgive us and cleanse us so our fellowship with Him is restored (1 John 1:9).
The Enemy is cunning, but Scripture offers a sound strategy for avoiding entrapment: “Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is” (Rom. 12:1-2). Notice that victory begins with your thinking. The more you apply this principle, the greater your success will be.
We’ve all seen restored furniture. Restoring furniture involves stripping away old varnish or paint with strong chemicals. This reveals all the nooks, crannies and original spots on the piece. The sanding takes place next – the wood is rubbed with coarse sandpaper in order to level out its imperfections. Then the furniture is ready to receive a new stain or paint color – it’s ready for a new look. New glory can be given to old furniture. And God can do the same thing with us. He can put new glory inside an old life, but He must first strip away our old nature and sand away our sinful strongholds.
We shouldn’t run from being broken. It’s not pleasant or happy, but it will produce a better life. Brokenness is a blessing because it puts us on the road to a breakthrough. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3) Those who are spiritually broken will be blessed because they will see God and experience His reality flowing through their lives.
Scripture promises that God remains with those who are broken and makes them stronger than before. Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Isaiah 61:3 teaches that God would give those who mourn and are broken “a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”