May 28, 2011 … Joy in Spite of Death
Passage of the Day: [Repeating] Philippians 1: 21 … 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain …
My Journal for Today: Continuing with the same verse and theme from yesterday’s entry [5/27] , the Apostle Paul, according to John MacArthur in his devotional from Strength for Today for this date, had three reasons to be confident – even in the face of prison or other dire circumstances.
First, Paul had confidence in the power afforded by God through prayer … see Rom. 15: 30 …
SCRIPTURE<: Romans 15: 30 … I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.
Secondly, the imprisoned Apostle just knew the Holy Spirit would sustain him in the face of his trials, which is Paul’s message in two of my favorite and most called-upon verses in my arsenal of memory verses, 1st Cor. 10: 13 and 2nd Cor. 12: 9, both of which I really hope any reader of this entry would have memorized and deeply embedded in your heart by now. Peter had also expressed the same confidence that God gives us all we need to face life (see 2nd Peter 1: 3). …
XRIPTURE: 2nd Peter 1: 3 … His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.
And finally, Paul had consummate confidence in Christ’s promises … that God had called him (Paul) into ministry (see Acts 26: 16 - 18) … that he would never suffer shame in Christ’s Name (ala Mark 8: 38) … and that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, would never abandon His sheep (after John 10: 27-28).
Paul knew, as should we, that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow and will never forsake us (Hebrews 13: 5, 8). And prayerfully, we can all realize that we can forever place our confidence in our God in moments of trial.
My Prayer Today: Lord, You are all I need. Amen
May 29, 2011 … Endurance: The Value of the Spirit
Passage of the Day: 2nd Corinthians 4: 16 – 18 … 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary; but what is unseen is eternal.
My Journal for Today: Maintaining our bodily temple is certainly important. If fact, the Apostle Paul had also written to the Corinthians about that (see 1st Cor. 3: 16 – 17) …
SCRIPTURE: 1st Cor. 3: 16 – 17 ... 16 Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.
However, as Paul declares in today’s passage, we should realize that our bodies, while being maintained in proper stewardship as God’s temple, are just temporary (see again 1st Cor. 15: 35 – 57 - linked here); and so, our primary focus should be on our eternal relationship with Christ.
Admittedly this can be challenging at times, because this latter focus is “unseen,” as Paul states in our passage for today. In Colossians 3: 2, he also exhorted the church that we need to “… Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” In all of this Paul recognized that the Christians of his day, as is the case today, were under great pressure by Satan, the world, and their (our) own flesh to concentrate on the temporal or corporal here-and-now, especially as the church was being persecuted. However, Christians must, according to Paul, grasp and cling to the truth that our hope is not in those elements we can see now, but in Christ and what is unseen in glory.
Peter was also helping the early church to grasp this truth by encouraging them (and now us) to understand that our sufferings would help them (us) prepare for the great eternal life ahead (see 1st Peter 5: 10) ...
SCRIPTURE: 1st Peter 5: 10 … And the God of all grace, Who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
And there is, of course, the uplifting word of God in Isaiah 40: 28 – 31, where we read that God will always provide the strength for a believer, who avails himself or herself of God’s grace, to meet the physical demands involved in the temporal challenges of life (and we’re also encouraged by Is. 41: 10, 1st Cor. 10: 13, 2nd Cor. 12: 9, and James 1: 2 – 3).
If we know and believe God’s word and promises in these passages, there is no trial or persecution which should dissuade us from our hope, Who is Christ.
My Prayer Today: Lord, You are the strength I need. Amen