The Good Gift

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him? – Luke 11:13

If an earthly father who is corrupted by sin is capable of giving his child good things, things the child needs, is not God – who is holy, righteous, perfect – infinitely more capable of giving us His Holy Spirit when we ask?

God gives us what we need, specifically the Holy Spirit. He wants us to ask, and He wants us to ask with right motivations from a place of humility and seeking His will first. He is provider. He loves us.

We must ask rightly, with right motives, in humility, not selfishly. We must ask for God’s will. When we ask rightly, God gives us what we request. When we ask rightly, we ask for the right things.

We often don’t ask rightly – with right motives, unselfishly, humbly. We often don’t ask persistently.

When we are asking wrongly, we start to believe that God doesn’t answer prayers, but in truth, the fault lies with us. We don’t trust Him. We don’t ask persistently. We become self-sufficient or we give up on being Christlike.

God help us to walk in Your Spirit, to show us Your glory, to transform us into the image of Christ.

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The Burden of the Gospel

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  – Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus calls all those who are tired and burdened – perhaps by the law, the teaching of the religious establishment of His day –  to Himself to take on a different burden, one that He gives in gentleness and humility, one that is light and easy to carry, one that gives rest to the soul. Perhaps the burden of the gospel, salvation by grace and not works.

The way He teaches us to follow is not without cost. In fact it is costs everything, but it is a burden easy to carry. Under the Law, we carry the load, but under the gospel, we trust God to carry it.

Jesus brought the gospel, the New Covenant, to us gently and humbly, not arrogantly as the teachers of the law did. God did not reveal the truth to the “wise” or “intelligent,” those who thought they knew already. He revealed the truth to “infants” who knew they did not know and had no choice but to rely on Him (v. 25). He reveals Himself to whom He chooses.

Are we so arrogant as to think we already know? Have we become like the teachers of the Law? We must be like the infant, completely dependent on Him – that is His burden, the yoke He offers. It gives rest to the soul because the soul depends on Him entirely.

We must must receive it gently and humbly just as Jesus gives it. Let us never think of ourselves as wise or intelligent but be as the infant with no capacity to care for ourselves.

Have you had the arrogance of the teachers of the Law? Do you trust Him completely?

Trust Jesus. Put down the burden of works, which is heavy and exhausting, and take up the burden of the gospel that is easy and light and gives rest to the soul.

Our works cannot – will not – make us right with Him. When we depend on our works, we aren’t trusting in Him for salvation, but ourselves. Do you think that He doesn’t accept you unless you do all the right things? The truth is that He accepts you when you come to Him knowing that you can’t do all the right things.

We need to be humble. We need to admit that we can’t take care of ourselves and stop trying to. We need to trust Him, to put down the burden of caring for ourselves and take up the easy yoke of the gospel.

God please take away our arrogance, our self-sufficiency, our self-centeredness. Give us the humility, even the wisdom, to know that we can’t take care of ourselves. Only You can. Help us to trust You, to trust Your gospel.

Deeper Change

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it. – Matthew 10:37-39

The one who loves even that which is most precious – father, mother, son, or daughter – more than one loves Christ, one who loves even one’s own life more than one loves Christ is not worthy of Christ. You will certainly lose your life, but if you lose it for Christ’s sake, you will find true life.

God expects everything from us. He expects us love Him with everything we are. Anything less than this is as though we do not love Him at all. No one and nothing is worthy of greater love than He is. He should be the most important thing in our lives – more significant to us than our very lives.

If we’re honest, we’ll admit that we love many people, many things more than we love Christ. We have not taken up our crosses.

We have to submit all of ourselves to Him – every relationship, every possession, every desire, every thought, every breath. Otherwise, we’re not worthy of Him.

He calls me to love Him with everything, and He is worthy of everything.

We think that we’re okay living a life of mediocre faith, but until we have taken up our crosses and followed Him – walked with Him regardless of the risk – we’re not worthy of Him. We must become like Him, and that should be enough for us (v. 25).

We are not capable of this. We need great grace: His grace.

Many of us, even those of us who have believed for most of our lives, have never been like this, never come close. We want to be, but, oh God, there must be deep change in us. Deeper change than we may even be aware of.

 

Freed from the Darkness

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people,
– Luke 1:68

Bless the Lord! Praise Him because He has come to us and redeemed us, saved us.

God saves. He is merciful. He forgives sins. He guides us into the way of peace. God is faithful to keep his promises. Salvation in Christ comes from God and is the fulfillment of His covenant with Abraham. He, and He only, accomplishes salvation.

We need salvation. We need His mercy and faithfulness and forgiveness. We need His guidance. Before salvation, we sat “in darkness and the shadow of death (v. 79).” Now, He is guiding us on the way of peace.

We should praise Him. Bless Him. He has accomplished salvation. He has kept His promise to Israel and the nations through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

We, His people, are no longer in darkness, under the oppression of death, because He has been faithful to save us by grace through faith in Christ.

We often do not trust in His faithfulness. We often still live like we’re in darkness. We do not give Him the praise and blessing due Him.

We live in darkness though we have been freed from it by God’s faithfulness, mercy, grace, forgiveness. We need Him to guide us away from the darkness, the oppression of sin and death.

It is by His grace we are forgiven – our sin, our old nature is crucified with Him – and it is by His grace that we are raised with Him new creatures, in His image, free from darkness and the shadow of death.

God, You have already faithfully, mercifully done the work required to free us from darkness and the shadow of death. We don’t want to sit in it anymore. Please change us so that we “might serve [You] without fear, in holiness and righteousness before [You] all [our] days (v. 74-75).”

Only Trust Him

How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, In whose heart are the highways to Zion!
– Psalm 84:5

The person who trusts God, who finds strength in God, whose heart is seeking God, moving toward His presence, is blessed.

God strengthens those who trust Him. He gives life and protection, grace and glory. He makes our sorrow life-giving. He hears our prayers. He withholds nothing good from the person who trusts Him.

Do we find this kind of joy in God’s presence? Do we long for it this way? Do we long like this for worship? Probably not often enough. God strengthens us when we trust Him, but we don’t always trust Him. Why is that?

When we forget this, we grow embittered, angry, sorrowful, allow our attitude to be dictated by our circumstances because we don’t trust God. We lose the desire to be in His presence, the joy of worshipping Him, of being with Him because we don’t trust Him as we should.

We need His strength, His grace, His protection, His glory, all the good things He gives to those who trust Him, who seek Him, who truly spend time in His presence. We need, therefore, to seek Him first, to trust Him above all.

Lord God, change our will so that we want to trust You at all times and in all things, so that we seek Your presence above all.

My Only Possession

Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works.
– Psalm 73:25-28

There is nothing and no one in heaven or on earth worth desiring but God. He destroys the wicked who are far from Him, but He is a refuge for those who draw close to Him. If our bodies and our hearts fail us, could we say with the psalmist that God is everything and will sustain us? Will we tell of His great works?

When we’re envious of the wicked who do whatever they want seemingly without repercussion, He still forgives us. It’s by His grace the wicked don’t suffer now. One day, they will.

But for His grace given through Christ, we are among the wicked. But because we sought Him (also by His grace) He has forgiven us. He has become our refuge from His own wrath, from the consequences of our own sin.

Do not envy those who are wicked without consequence. You are a sinner as well. God shows each of us grace. One day, all will face the consequence of their wickedness or will find Christ. Either way, God’s wrath and justice are satisfied, and the price for sin is paid. But the latter results in a soul saved.

Our sin deserves His wrath. We should not wonder why the wicked aren’t punished: God is just, but He is also merciful and gracious.

We place value on so many worldly things, but in the end, He is all we have.

When we forget this truth, we become bitter and envious. We become materialistic. We pity ourselves.

We need to focus on God and His kingdom, not the things of this world because those things are temporary. God is eternal, and, in truth, He is all we have.

God, please don’t let our minds be conformed to this world any longer. Renew them, and transform us so that we don’t become envious and bitter. But rather, let us seek refuge in You, our portion, our only possession.

Be Blessed

How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, In whose heart are the highways to Zion!
– Psalm 84:5

The one who trusts God, who finds strength in God, whose heart is seeking God, moving toward His presence, is blessed.

God strengthens those who trust Him. He gives life and protection, grace and glory, joy and blessing. He makes our sorrow life-giving. He hears our prayers. He withholds nothing good from the person who trusts Him.

Do you find this kind of joy in God’s presence? Do you long for it this way? Do you long like this for worship? God strengthens us when we trust Him, but we don’t always trust Him. Why don’t we trust Him?

 

We often grow embittered, angry, sorrowful, allow our attitudes to be dictated by our circumstances because we don’t trust God. We lose the desire to be in His presence, the joy of worshipping Him, of being with Him because we don’t trust Him as we should.

We need His strength, His grace, His protection, His glory, all the good things He gives to those who trust Him, who seek Him, who truly spend time in His presence. Therefore, we need to seek Him first, to trust Him above all.

Lord God, please change our wills so that we want to trust You at all times and in all things, so that we seek Your presence above all.

It is only by Jesus’ grace and sacrifice that we’re even able to come into God’s presence, to receive His great blessings.

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