This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith,
(1 Timothy 1:18-19 ESV)
Have you ever been entrusted with valuable information? Maybe it was at work, maybe it was some kind of family information. One of my favorite things to watch on TV is medical shows. When I place myself in the shoes of some of these doctors and nurses, I become terrified. One piece of misinformation could mean the end of a patient’s life. I milliliter of the wrong medication could mean devastation for a family. However, the communication and spread of correct information could be life-changing for hundreds. In this passage, Paul is telling Timothy the importance of the information he has been entrusted with: the Gospel. This is news that is to be spread that all ears may hear. It is news that is to be valued that one might hold no higher possession. It is news that is to be implemented in every decision and aspect of life. No information is more valuable. Let us hold in high esteem that with which we are entrusted, oh Christian. It is a matter of death. Yet it is also a matter of life and life abundant.
Lord, thank you for looking upon me and entrusting me with the Gospel. I am confident that by giving me this precious news, you do not want me to hoard it to myself, but to share it with everyone that they might be entrusted with it too. Help me see and do that every day, Jesus. I love you, Lord.
“He must increase, but I must decrease.”
(John 3:30 ESV)
I love the simplicity of this verse. Seven small words. One simple concept–so it seems. While we say these words with all of the confidence in the world that we know exactly how to implement them, I believe they are some of the most challenging verses in scripture. You see, we are born with an innate desire to increase ourselves. It is built into our culture, our ideals, our values. We are constantly striving for the next bigger and better thing for our own betterment. Then, we take on this verse–or at least half of it. I find myself seeking to increase Him without decreasing myself. I want His goodness and blessing on top of the success and lifestyle I have already created for myself. I find myself implementing these words instead: He must increase, but I am not going to change myself. What would it look like if we truly sought to decrease our own selfish desires, even our own pure desires, our desires for anything other than Jesus? Let’s begin praying both of those phrases with full hearts. God must increase. I must decrease.
God, when You say, the old is gone, behold the new has come, I sometimes wonder how much I am actually seeking to live in that new. Help me to die in my trespasses and rid myself of the sin that still plagues me. Increase in me God, and decrease me completely.
But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.
(Daniel 1:8 ESV)
I find myself in continual frustration toward our nations governance. No matter what “side” one chooses, there are values upon values that differ from what Christ commands that we stand for. In fact, even when we look back upon our own country’s history, we see that the values of “one nation under God” have been a rare occurrence. When I find myself becoming frustrated with the state of our governance and our attitudes toward governance, I like to go back to Daniel. You see, not only was Daniel under leadership that didn’t follow God, He was taken from his own land and forced into this new land. He was under the microscope of the king and all the king’s men. All the while, he was asked to eat, say, and do things in direct defiance to God. And his response is exactly the response that I need! He didn’t sway, but he held respect. He knew that God, in His sovereignty, places kings on thrones. Do those kings always do what He stands for? Usually not. Let’s start praying for an attitude like Daniel’s. An attitude where we do not stand for defiling ourselves with hatefulness or any devaluing of human life, yet we trust God’s sovereignty as that authority reigns.
God, I am so quick to become bitter toward the leadership in our country. Yet I know that you have not called us to bitterness. Let me be a light that shines on you when everything seems to point away from you. I love you, Lord.
All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.
(Proverbs 16:2-3 ESV)
I have a bad reputation in my family for always needing to be right. When I am convinced of something, I will seek to prove myself correct over and over again until I am either victorious in the conversation or humbled greatly. You see, my desire to be right should not come as a surprise to anyone because, as Proverbs reveals, it is a desire hidden deep within all of us. Whether it is the sin of proving ourselves right to the world, or even telling God what way we think we should go, our ways are always correct in our own eyes. Here is the problem: our perspective is limited. My husband has seen and done things in a different way than I have because of his experience on this earth in the same way as my grandmother has a different perspective than both of us. Most importantly, our God is the only one with perfect perspective. He is the one who lays the foundations of our plans and who sees the past and future as if they were happening right now. He is outside of time; He is the creator of good; He has given Himself to us to be our wise council. Let us pray today that we might rid ourselves of our desire for correctness, and ask God to establish all our ways.
Lord, I am so sinful. Somehow my own pride is what creates in me a spirit of correctness. Yet I know that you are the only one with that ability. Please remove that desire from my heart, and replace it with a spirit that leans solely on you. I love you, Jesus.
Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge—no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.
(Psalm 91:9-10 ESV)
When I read the words “dwelling place” the first thing that comes to my mind is my home. It’s a little apartment with a couple of bedrooms, bathrooms, a kitchen, and a living room. There is a couch that I sip my coffee on and a patio where I sit and do some of my writing. I spend time there. I make investments there. I grow there and build own relationships there. It is where I dwell. So when this verse tells me that I need to make the Lord my dwelling place, I naturally tend to compare the two. In essence, this verse reveals that if we make Christ our home. If we spend time in His presence, if we invest into His character and kingdom, if we build relationships because of Him and under His reign, we will be hidden in His favor. Does this mean that nothing bad will happen to us ever? Absolutely not. But our Dwelling Pace can never be plagued or taken from us. We will forever be safe in His arms.
Jesus, I want nothing but to dwell in you. Help me to value you as my dwelling place more than I value any other safety net I have on this earth.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!
(Psalm 90:17 ESV)
What do you think of when you consider the favor of the Lord? Is it money? Fame? Maybe it is just a healthy family or to have a simple, quiet life free from much hardship. God’s favor has been defined in hundreds of thousands of ways by His people over the years. His favor means rain to some cultures and it means wealth to others. That is the problem. You see, our many definitions of the favor of God demonstrate that we are placing our own standards on His good gifts. We are measuring their goodness through our own, very human lens. We want to establish what it will look like. We want to put fourth all of the work by our own volition and say, okay God, I did what I needed to do, now you bless it. Christian, it is time we allow God to give us what He deems favorable. It is time we begin asking Him to guide our hands, not in the way we might prefer, but to further His will alone. That favor may look like physical blessing, but more likely and more importantly, it will look like spiritual rightness with Him.
Lord, I want your favor, and I want it to look like you. I want to want what you want and for my hands to be guided by your goodness. Help me have spiritual favor with you, oh King. I love you, Jesus.
And he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.
Have you ever placed yourself in the shoes of the apostles? Let’s say you’re at work or school or just out getting coffee with a friend, and a random guy comes up to you–someone you have never met–and tells you to follow. I am convinced that 99% of people would look at that person as if they were crazy and just continue in whatever they were doing before. This is how we know there was something different about the presence of Jesus. Something special. When people experienced Him for even a moment, they were drawn in. He was to be trusted, loved, and sought after. He was to be followed. Spend some time in His presence today. Allow the Scriptures to reintroduce you to His goodness, majesty, and sovereignty. For we know that when we experience His presence, we experience something unlike anything in this world can ever offer. Sit with Him today, Christian. Follow Him. Over and over again.
Jesus, I love the midst of your presence. I love sitting with you, reading your word, listening to your heard, and sharing with you mine. Help us follow you today in everything. I love you, Lord.