God’s Overpowering Purpose

God’s Overpowering Purpose

I have appeared to you for this purpose . . .—Acts 26:16

The vision Paul had on the road to Damascus was not a passing emotional experience, but a vision that had very clear and emphatic directions for him. And Paul stated, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19). Our Lord said to Paul, in effect, “Your whole life is to be overpowered or subdued by Me; you are to have no end, no aim, and no purpose but Mine.” And the Lord also says to us, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go . . .” (John 15:16).

When we are born again, if we are spiritual at all, we have visions of what Jesus wants us to be. It is important that I learn not to be “disobedient to the heavenly vision”—not to doubt that it can be attained. It is not enough to give mental assent to the fact that God has redeemed the world, nor even to know that the Holy Spirit can make all that Jesus did a reality in my life. I must have the foundation of a personal relationship with Him. Paul was not given a message or a doctrine to proclaim. He was brought into a vivid, personal, overpowering relationship with Jesus Christ. Acts 26:16 is tremendously compelling “. . . to make you a minister and a witness . . . .” There would be nothing there without a personal relationship. Paul was devoted to a Person, not to a cause. He was absolutely Jesus Christ’s. He saw nothing else and he lived for nothing else. “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Taken from “My Utmost For His Highest”

ODB: A Big Deal

January 24, 2019 

READ: Isaiah 58:6–9 

This is the kind of fasting I want: . . . Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Isaiah 58:6 nlt

 

A family member needed help with his December rent. To his family, the request felt like a burden—especially with their own unexpected expenses at year’s end. But they dug into their savings, grateful for God’s provision—and blessed by their relative’s gratitude.

He handed them a thank-you card filled with grateful words. “There you go again . . . doing nice things, probably passing it off as no big deal.”

Helping others is a big deal, however, to God. The prophet Isaiah made that point to the nation of Israel. The people were fasting but still quarreling and fighting. Instead, said Isaiah: “Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. . . . Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help” (Isaiah 58:6–7 nlt).

Such a sacrifice, said Isaiah, shares God’s light but also heals our own brokenness (v. 8). As the family helped their relative, they looked hard at their own finances, seeing ways they could manage better all year. This was God’s promise for being generous: “Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind” (v. 8 nlt). In the end, giving to their kin blessed them more. And God? He already gave His all—with love. 

— Patricia Raybon

Lord, light the path of generosity, helping us to give like You.


God gave His all. Let’s follow as He leads.  

Transformed by Beholding

Transformed by Beholding

We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image . . . —2 Corinthians 3:18

The greatest characteristic a Christian can exhibit is this completely unveiled openness before God, which allows that person’s life to become a mirror for others. When the Spirit fills us, we are transformed, and by beholding God we become mirrors. You can always tell when someone has been beholding the glory of the Lord, because your inner spirit senses that he mirrors the Lord’s own character. Beware of anything that would spot or tarnish that mirror in you. It is almost always something good that will stain it—something good, but not what is best.

The most important rule for us is to concentrate on keeping our lives open to God. Let everything else including work, clothes, and food be set aside. The busyness of things obscures our concentration on God. We must maintain a position of beholding Him, keeping our lives completely spiritual through and through. Let other things come and go as they will; let other people criticize us as they will; but never allow anything to obscure the life that “is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). Never let a hurried lifestyle disturb the relationship of abiding in Him. This is an easy thing to allow, but we must guard against it. The most difficult lesson of the Christian life is learning how to continue “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord . . . .”

Taken from “My Utmost For His Highest”

ODB: Trying to Impress

January 23, 2019 

READ: Matthew 15:1–11, 16–20 

Out of the heart come evil thoughts . . . . These are what defile a person. Matthew 15:19–20

 

When a college class went on a cultural field trip, the instructor almost didn’t recognize one of his star pupils. In the classroom she had concealed six-inch heels beneath her pant legs. But in her walking boots she was less than five feet tall. “My heels are how I want to be,” she laughed. “But my boots are how I really am.”

Our physical appearance doesn’t define who we are; it’s our heart that matters. Jesus had strong words for those masters of appearances—the super-religious “Pharisees and teachers of the law.” They asked Jesus why His disciples didn’t wash their hands before eating, as their religious traditions dictated (Matthew 15:1–2). Jesus asked, “Why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?” (v. 3). Then He pointed out how they had invented a legal loophole to keep their wealth instead of caring for their parents (vv. 4–6), thus dishonoring them and violating the fifth commandment (Exodus 20:12).

If we obsess over appearances while looking for loopholes in God’s clear commands, we’re violating the spirit of His law. Jesus said that “out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality,” and the like (Matthew 15:19). Only God, through the righteousness of His Son Jesus, can give us a clean heart.

— Tim Gustafson

Lord, we are so prone to rely on our own efforts to impress You and others. Help us to be authentic in all our relationships, and to enjoy the restored heart we can have through Your forgiveness.


When our motive is to impress others, we’re not impressing God.