WHAT GUIDES US?

Ephesians 4:15 – We are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.

This clear purpose of our heavenly Father is outlined throughout the New Testament. Many believe or at least live like God’s purpose is to bless them, making them a success, and answering all their prayer requests. That viewpoint was the mistake God’s people made when Jesus walked the earth, teaching and preaching the kingdom of God.

In the Book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul clearly outlines the will and purpose of God in the life of every believer. Paul pens what should be guiding the believer. “We are to grow up in all aspects of Christ.” Everything the Father is doing is about His only begotten Son. He has included us, intending that we will grow up into Christ. The Father is looking for those who will freely surrender everything to Christ and give control of their life to His Spirit.

Some important questions to be asked are:

Am I allowing the Holy Spirit access to every area of my being?
Can I see areas in my life that have Christ at the center?
Am I aware of specific areas in my life where the Lord is dealing with me?
It is important for each believer to examine himself and determine if “Christ is the head” in their life. It is impossible to grow up into Christ if we are not allowing Him to be head in all things. Through our free will, we say yes to the Lord, first in every clear command given to us in His Word. And secondly, as we learn to recognize His voice as He guides us through life’s decisions.

In order for the Lord to guide us, we must first allow the Holy Spirit access to our thinking processes. Regularly ask the Father to give you the mind of Christ. Identify areas of the past which you have surrendered to Him and evaluate how well you are letting Him be in control. Ascertain specific areas which the Lord has spoken to you about where He wants control.

As believers, we must be active in the growth process. The Psalms teach us how to actively interact with the Lord in both the good and difficult times. David actually commanded his soul to bless God and not forget His benefits. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; who pardons all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases; who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with loving-kindness and compassion; who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle” (Psalm 103:1-5).

Father, I desire Your guidance in every area of my life. I choose to give the Holy Spirit access to my whole being. Thank You for those areas of my life where the Holy Spirit presently has control. Show me specific areas You currently want to help me surrender to the Holy Spirit.

THE WORD OF GOD IS SETTLED

Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.

There is one human who never changes, Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior. The Word of God manifested in the Word made flesh. That Word dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. That Word is now seated at the right hand of the majesty on high. From the very beginning, God purposed the Word to be made flesh. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1-2). “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14-15).

In all the Scriptures, there is nothing more profound than “the Word was made flesh.” Because God’s Word is forever settled, Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. In Jesus’ earthly ministry, He expected God’s covenant people, the Jews, to receive His word because it is the word of the Father. Jesus came in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy. The Jews had been given the responsibility of the oracles of God. “They were entrusted with the oracles of God. What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?” (Romans 3:2-4).

The Jews were the carriers of God’s Word for all of mankind. Some did not believe. This was especially true during the ministry of Jesus. Their unbelief did not hinder God’s faithfulness. The whole Jewish nation might have rejected Jesus, but God would still be faithful to His Word. All that we read in the Scriptures concerning Jesus is true today as well. He still ministers in truth and grace through the power of the Holy Spirit. The promises which Jesus fulfilled in His earthly ministry are available to us because “He is the same”. God’s people are to be a people of “hope” because the Lord has given us a sure expectation of our future.

God’s Word never changes. God’s Son is always the same. All truth is eternal. God the Father and God the Son are full of truth and grace ministered in the power of the Holy Spirit. God has done all that He said He would do. Jesus utterly fulfilled the Father’s will. As sons and daughters of God, we are called not only to believe, but to live out the word of God in our daily lives. We too, are called to be faithful carriers of God’s promises. We are called to demonstrate the settled word of God by the conduct of our lives. Not all will believe, but some will glorify God for what they experience in us. All will give an account to God for what is demonstrated as we walk in righteousness and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Father, I thank You for Your settled word. I firmly put my faith in Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Help me demonstrate Your truth and grace through how I choose to live my life in the power of the Holy Spirit.

PRIVILEGES WE ENJOY

Hebrews 12:22-24 – You have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.

In these passages, we can identify seven privileges believers enjoy through our relationship with the Father and the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit.

We have come unto Mount Zion, (God’s Hill) His permanent resting place in heaven where God reigns as KING of Kings and LORD of Lords.
We have come into God’s city for which Abraham searched. In fact, Galatians 4:26 indicates that Jerusalem above is the place of our new birth. All who have been “born again” can say, “I was born in Mount Zion,” Jerusalem, the city of my God.”
We have come unto an innumerable company of angels. The Scriptures indicate that we are surrounded by angels looking into what God has done. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2). “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven — things into which angels long to look” (1 Peter 1:12).
We have come to the General Assembly and Church of the First Born which are written in heaven. Presently, the name of every believer is written together with all the names of those who are members of His church. It is important to be reminded we are not alone. Those who have gone before us are present before the Throne of God and the saints on earth are present through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
We have come to God the judge of all. The blessing for the true believer is that judgment has already taken place as Jesus became God’s sacrifice for our sins. God’s judgments come through the Lord Jesus Christ. As a believer we receive what Christ has done for us. The unbeliever will have to answer for their sins before God because they did not trust Christ who took their judgment upon Himself.
We have come to the spirits of just men made perfect. In the spiritual realm, we have been joined with all those who have died and fully entered into His rest. I believe they are cheering for us to finish our course. In the natural, this is hard to understand, but by faith we receive the insights that God’s Word reveals.
We have come to Jesus, the mediator of the “new covenant.” We have legal rights in heaven to receive salvation. Everything Jesus did on our behalf would hold up in a court of law. By the “Law of Sacrifice,” that is, “the innocent dying for the guilty,” Jesus destroyed what Satan held over us and the judgment which the Law of God brought, declaring all guilty before God.
Father, I thank You for Your Throne of Grace. I rejoice in the place of Your rest. I pray for the continual help of the Holy Spirit in my daily life to abide in the place of rest where all the spirits of just men reside for eternity. I receive by faith all the privileges of a child of God.

LOVE, FORGIVENESS, AND ACCEPTANCE

Romans 15:7 – Accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.

While we accept each other as we are, we do not remain as we are. As each one comes to Christ, forgiveness and acceptance are given by the Father. We then become part of one another on the very common ground of His power of love to forgive and accept each one as we are. For each believer, this is the starting point in Christ Jesus.

From this starting point, we grow together in an atmosphere of love, hope, and encouragement, no matter what difficulty or devastation we face. Of course, people enter the kingdom of God and are baptized into the body having come from many backgrounds. Our life together in the body begins a process of healing and growth which can take a very long time. An atmosphere of love, forgiveness, and acceptance is necessary to help in assisting people to receive, what in many cases has never before been communicated or experienced.

In the body of Christ, we esteem the covenant of marriage, we honor singleness, and we support the single parent. Marriage is under attack as perhaps it has never been before. The marriage covenant is the sure foundation we must build upon. If the marriage foundation is destroyed, the whole culture will collapse. We must first learn how to love, forgive, and accept in our homes before we will be successful in our relationships within the church.

We must reach out to singles, who many times feel displaced from family. The single person can more fully give themselves to the cause of Christ because of less time constraints. Many singles would love to be used within the family of God, both in church activities and within families belonging to a congregation.

It is important for the church body to give support to those who have found themselves single again through divorce or death. Many times, we form groups of people with similar life experiences, but their deeper need is family. They need to know the love of fathers and mothers within the body of Christ.

We must treasure and affirm children, including them in our worship, in our ministry moments, and social events. They are our future! The Lord has always been focused on the generations. Our children will carry the torch in the future. Now is the time of their training.

In the body of Christ we will always find diversity of personality and lifestyles, each adding something valuable to the whole. I suggest including each group I have mentioned in your prayers.

Father, I pray for the families of my congregation, fathers and mothers and their children, that Your kingdom rest on their lives. I pray for the singles as they seek to know how they fit into the family of God. I pray for those who have found themselves single again. I pray for healing in their lives and for the development of healthy relationships.

THE PEACE OF DISCIPLINE

Hebrews 12:11 – All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

In our devotion yesterday, we concluded with the biblical statement of Hebrews 12:11. What the writer of Hebrews is stating is so important that it requires we look deeper into the truth it contains.

The Almighty God, who spun off worlds with His Word, is our heavenly Father if we have trusted His Only begotten Son for our salvation. His Holy Spirit resides in us and bears witness to this fact. “You have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by whom we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him” (Romans 8:15-17).

The child of God is not a slave, but an adopted son. The child of God can cry out Daddy and Father. My oldest son Paul is adopted. He has known this fact from his earliest childhood. Immediately, his mother and I thanked God for him and declared his adoption to legally settle his son-ship in our family. I declared he had a father and a mother who loved him and would never abandon him. Paul received the same blessings, but also the same discipline as our natural children. I can truly say we did not treat any of our children differently.

Paul the apostle said, “Indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him” (Romans 8:17). The suffering is our identity with His cross. Because of the cross, God raised Christ up and glorified Him. Our access to the family of God is through the cross of Christ. We have been raised up in newness of life and as joint heirs of God’s grace.

The Father’s training comes through discipline. Discipline is not the wrath of the Father, but His love to produce the fruit of peace and righteousness. God’s wrath concerning sin was settled at the cross of Christ. Father God is not angry at mankind and especially those who have been adopted into His family through the redemptive work of Christ. He trains His children through various types of disciplines. We should pay special attention to how Jesus trained His disciples in order to know how God wants us to be trained.

Jesus modeled the Father’s love. He first showed the Father’s nature “full of grace and truth.” He taught through words with love and authority. He reached out to the weak and needy. He demonstrated the Father’s love through direct action. He told His disciples to go do as he was doing, and gave them the authority to accomplish the assignment. He corrected their misunderstandings, bickering, and wrong heart motivations. He promised them another Helper just like Him so they would not have to go it alone.

Father, I want to be corrected and rebuked by You when necessary. I know it won’t be pleasant, but I also know it will mature me and produce the peace of righteousness in my life.

DISCERNING THE BODY OF CHRIST

1 Corinthians 11:31-32 – If we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.

This is a very powerful and important portion of Scripture. Paul helps the church at Corinth to examine their approach to the “Lord’s table.” Every congregation should read and study carefully what Paul writes. Verse 30 answers the question why many are sick in the body of Christ and why some have died prematurely. Paul says it comes from three things:

Eating the bread and drinking the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner
Failure to examine oneself, causing judgment on oneself
Not judging the body of Christ rightly
Close examination of these passages and, in fact, the entire book of Corinthians reveals how they addressed relationships within the body of Christ. When there is broken relationship among believers, it opens the door for the kingdom of darkness, reproach from an unbelieving world, and hinders the Lord’s purposes.

Jesus said, “If you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering (Matthew 5:23-24). The Lord puts a very high premium on relationship within His body. We must examine ourselves regularly to make sure our hearts are right toward our fellow believers. Paul informs us that not “judging the body rightly” causes sickness and even premature death. Our scripture today says that “if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.” The Father wants His children to learn how to examine their own hearts. The Holy Spirit enables us to do this if we will ask for His help.

“When we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:32). We know that we are sons and daughters because the Lord disciplines His children (see Hebrews 12:5).

A true father disciplines his children. Today, many children have not known the loving discipline of a father. Many are self-centered because of not experiencing a father’s love through discipline. Some have known only anger from their father. The loving discipline of a father helps to produce respect for authority and a respect for others. Father God disciplines His children for their good. The writer of Hebrews says, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11).

Father, cause me to be discerning about how I treat my spouse, my children, other believers, and those outside Your kingdom. Make me aware when I have offended another and grant me humility to ask forgiveness of the offended one. When You must discipline me, cause me to be open and willing to receive Your discipline, for I know it will produce in me the peaceful fruit of righteousness.