Proverbs 24:10 – If you are slack in the day of distress, your strength is limited.
Today, I want to tie together the area of strength and the will of man. Solomon is saying that when adversity comes, if you give up, you do not have much strength. I find in working with many people over the years that the “will” of an individual is in direct proportion to their strength. A good example is in the counseling arena. Many times, I find people come for counseling hoping that the counselor will provide the answer to their problems. They misunderstand the purpose of the counselor which is to help the counselee to understand the root of the problem and the principles that could help them change their circumstances.
When the counselee can hear the counselor and make the necessary application of principles to their situation, there is hope for change and healing. For many, “their strength is limited.” In other words, they do not have the strength to apply the counsel given. Their will is not strong toward resolving their issues. They want others to take responsibility or they want the counselor to side with their emotions and views. Many are weak in terms of their “will” to change and do their part in resolving their problems. Doing the will of God takes an inward strength and determination. Many times, the will of an individual is so set it overrides God’s will and purpose for their life. At times, individuals simply choose against common sense.
Our intellect and our emotions are driven by our will. As we strengthen ourselves in God’s word and develop intimacy with Father God through His Son by the power of the Holy Spirit, our will to do His Will is strengthened. In order to be a kingdom man or woman, a relationship with the Holy Spirit is critical in the formation of a strong and healthy will.
Consider what Paul testified concerning his own afflictions, “For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many” (2 Corinthians 1:8-11). Paul was first and foremost committed to the will of God. He surrendered his will to God’s will. He found strength in the difficulties he faced because his will was given over to God. Our will and our strength are tied together. If you feel weak in the midst of affliction and difficulty, examine your will. Is it self-will, focused on what you want? If so, change your mind and commit your will to God’s will and pleasure?
Father, give me Your insight to my will. I ask for the strength of Your Holy Spirit to help me surrender fully to Your purpose in and through my life.
Matthew 26:39 – My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me, yet not as I will, but as You will.
This passage is the clearest picture mankind has of absolute surrender to the will of God. This is the turning point leading away from Adam’s rebellion, insisting on his will and not God’s.
Christ, whom Paul calls “the Last Adam,” fully fulfills God’s redemptive purpose for humanity. Jesus, chose to lay aside His will for the will of God. Once and for all He made it possible for the one who puts their faith in His redemptive work, to be able to do the same as He did. Our minds, emotions, and will have been liberated to fully surrender to God the Father.
Peter stood strong before the religious leaders that wanted to kill the disciples. Peter chose the will of God even in the face of death. One of the Pharisees named Gamaliel gave sound counsel to the group of religious leaders saying, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God” (Acts 5:33-39).
Because of what Jesus accomplished for mankind, setting our will against God’s will becomes a much more serious matter. Gamaliel’s counsel is good counsel for us as well. We never want to find ourselves setting our will against the Lord’s. When we do, we are fighting against God. Later, the disciples found themselves in need of help in caring for the needs of the people. They made a determination to appoint seven men full of the Holy Spirit to serve the people and their needs. They willed to do the will of God and to devote themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word (Acts 6:4-6).
Paul declared, “I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, “The will of the Lord be done!” (Acts 21:13-14). Here is another example of choosing God’s will over one’s own will and the will of friends. The elders of Ephesus tried to persuade Paul not to go to Jerusalem, but Paul felt that He had heard from God. They came to the conclusion that they should become silent concerning the matter, and acknowledged that God’s will be accomplished.
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that’” (James 4:13-16).
Father, teach me and empower me each day to say, “If the Lord wills.” Help me to learn how to listen to the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 6:9-10 – Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
One of the most often encountered problems in the lives of God’s people is the loss of hope. Many times, I hear people say, “I have tried, but it does not seem to help.” Discouragement tries to find its way into the heart. When it does, it opens the door for unbelief. Unbelief is not just an attitude of the mind, but is a stronghold of the heart.
The writer of Hebrews establishes principles that will help to keep the believer strong in their heart when he says, “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:22-25).
To keep our hearts from discouragement, we must be in regular fellowship with the Lord. “Draw near with a sincere heart.” Next, as we draw near to the Lord, come with a “full assurance of faith.” Come to the Lord with His word fresh in your heart and mind. Allow the blood of Jesus to cleanse you constantly, making sure your “conscious is clean.” Remind yourself of your baptism when you died with Christ. We must “hold fast” our confession that originally brought us to hope. The challenges of the Christian walk can cause some to “waver.” If one does waver in their faith, the enemy gets an upper hand.
“For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3). The key to strong faith and not losing heart is staying focused on the Lord Jesus Christ. When we remind ourselves of what Christ endured in His human life, we are strengthened and able to press forward in our own walk. I find that when I reach the point of giving up, I am about to encounter a breakthrough. When my back is up against the wall, I know that the Lord is ready to help.
Father, I ask You to help keep my heart from discouragement by drawing close to me as I regularly fellowship with You. I come to You with a sincere heart. I come with full assurance of faith. Help me to be disciplined in Your Word that it will be fresh in my heart and mind. Thank You for the blood of Jesus that cleanses me constantly and gives me a clean conscious. My confession is Your victory in Christ.
Jeremiah 17:9-10 – The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.
The Word of God spoken through Jeremiah His prophet is a beginning point for our understanding of the heart. There are many verses before Jeremiah’s statement we could examine, but these Scriptures go to the depth of the human problem and God’s dealings with mankind.
David, as a young man, treasured God’s word in his heart. “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You (Psalm 119:11). David understood his need to get the Word of God into the deepest area of his life, his heart. Many are aware of what God’s word declares, but have not treasured the word by memorizing and meditating on the Word.
Solomon exhorts us in Proverbs 3 concerning the heart. “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; For length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” How could I ever say it better? This is the Holy Spirit speaking through Solomon.
Consider verse 3: “do not let kindness and truth leave you.” I call these the “twin sisters.” Both heart and mind are tied together. One can be so into the mind they are unkind in the application of truth. On the other hand, one can be so kind, they are kinder than God. God’s kindness never violates His eternal truths. The human danger is to be led by our emotions and not by the eternal truth of God’s Word. For some, they become legalistic in the application of God’s word and death is produced rather than life. God is always redemptive in His purpose. We too, need to be redemptive in our dealings with people.
The disciples of Jesus were arguing among themselves to which of them might be the greatest. “But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their hearts, took a child and stood him by His side, and said to them, ‘Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great’” (Luke 9:46-48). There are so many New Testament Scriptures about the heart, this is one of my favorites. It captures the problem and the solution of our heart condition. Today, meditate on Jesus’ words to His disciples and see what the Lord reveals to you.
Father, help me to let go of any high mindedness that is in my heart and receive in Your name, a heart of humility toward others.
Jeremiah 11:20 – But, O Lord of hosts, that judges righteously, who tries the feelings and the heart.
In the KJV, the word for feelings is “reins” and means the innermost feelings. The Jeremiah passage is dealing with judgment. The prophet is crying out to the Lord, who is the only one that looks at a matter righteously. It is God alone that can see the intent of the heart, the motives of an individual, the very “seed bed” of what drives a person. The word “emotions” is not used in the Scriptures. As we read the Scriptures, we become aware that when we read about feelings and the heart it is referring to one’s emotions.
“You shall not oppress a stranger, since you yourselves know the feelings of a stranger, for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt (Exodus 23:9). The King James Version translates the word feelings as “heart.” When we speak of having “empathy” for another person, it is because we can relate to what they are going through. The Lord is gracious to make room for this area of our soul. The Lord Himself is moved in His feelings and His heart, (emotions). When Abraham interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah on behalf of his nephew Lot, the Lord was moved Abrahams intercession (Genesis 18). Moses, as he interceded on behalf of rebellious Israel, moved God’s heart to repentance, that He would not destroy the children of Israel.
The greatest picture of the Lord’s heart and emotions is seen in the life of Jesus. Many times in the Gospels it is recorded that He was “moved with compassion.” God’s healing; His deliverance, His forgiveness, and His redemption come from the “seed bed of His emotions” toward mankind. Man, because of the evil in his heart, questions the motives of God saying, “If God is love, why does He permit evil and tragedy in the world?” In their hearts, they are blind to the “kindness” of God. “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4-5).
The subject of human emotions is large. In our next devotion, we will look deeper into this major area of our soul life. As we put on the mind of Christ and think like Jesus, our emotions will be freed to be filled with compassion and kindness while maintaining a strong knowledge and wisdom of God’s word and how to apply it.
Father, I confess that my human emotions take over at times and I am not led by Your Holy Spirit, but by my own feelings. I surrender my emotions to You. I ask that my feelings would be more controlled by the Holy Spirit. Help me to bring together my mind and my emotions in a better way and be more fully led by Your Word and Your Spirit.