Feel

Feel

Read: Proverbs 3:1-8
We don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words (Romans 8:26).

My friend has a habit of asking God for signs. In doing so, His prayers tend to seek confirmation of his feelings, as in “God, if You want me to do ‘X,’ then please do ‘Y,’ and I’ll know it’s OK.”

Not surprisingly, this has created a dilemma. For my friend feels that he should get back with his ex-girlfriend, based on the way he prays. His ex, on the other hand, feels strongly that God has told them not to get back together. Ah, feelings.

Jesus told the religious leaders of His day: “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign” (Matthew 16:4). But He wasn’t making a blanket statement to prevent anyone from seeking God’s guidance. Rather, Jesus was accusing them of ignoring the clear prophecies that told them He was the Messiah.

Proverbs gives us an abundance of direct signs as to how to live our lives. Solomon, who wrote most verses in the book, gave these instructions to his son: “Never let loyalty and kindness leave you” (v.3). “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding” (v.5). To drive his point home, Solomon concluded: “Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil” (v.7).

God wants us to seek His guidance in prayer (James 1:5). He has given us the instruction of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26) and His Word, the Bible (1 Thessalonians 2:13). He gives us mentors and wise leaders. He’s also given us the ultimate example seen in Jesus (Philippians 2:4-5).

It’s wise to ask God for clear direction. But our prayers should never be formulaic attempts to manipulate God. Real Christianity is not a system; it’s a relationship with Jesus Himself.

—Tim Gustafson

Taken from “Our Daily Journey”

ODB: Eyes in the Back of My Head

July 23, 2019 

READ: Psalm 33:6–19 

From his dwelling place [God] watches all who live on earth. Psalm 33:14

 

I was as mischievous as any other child in my early years and tried to hide my bad behavior to avoid getting into trouble. Yet my mother usually found out what I had done. I recall being amazed at how quickly and accurately she knew about my antics. When I marveled and asked how she knew, she always replied, “I have eyes in the back of my head.” This, of course, led me to study her head whenever she’d turn her back—were the eyes invisible or merely cloaked by her red hair? As I grew, I gave up looking for evidence of her extra pair of eyes and realized I just wasn’t quite as sneaky as I had supposed. Her watchful gaze was evidence of her loving concern for her children.

As grateful as I am for my mother’s attentive care (despite being occasionally disappointed I hadn’t gotten away with something!), I’m even more grateful that God “sees all mankind” as He looks upon us from heaven (Psalm 33:13). He sees so much more than what we do; He sees our sadness, our delights, and our love for one another.

God sees our true character and always knows exactly what we need. With perfect vision, which even sees the inner workings of our hearts, He watches over those who love Him and put their hope in Him (v. 18). He’s our attentive, loving Father.

— Kirsten Holmberg

How does it comfort you to know that God sees everything and is watching over you? What has He been doing recently to sharpen your character?


Dear Father, thank You for watching over all people and for seeing what happens in our world and in my life.  

Favouring Truth

Favouring Truth

Read: James 2:1-10
Doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgements are guided by evil motives? (v.4).

Talking with a colleague at a Christian school, I was reminded how easy it can be to judge others. Accustomed to the short hairstyles of most of our students, he was offended by the creative haircut of a visiting teen. Challenging his assumptions, I reminded him that our perception of others’ appearance isn’t an accurate way to gauge a mature, spiritual life in Christ.

Made in the image of a God who declared His creation “very good” (Genesis 1:31), we have not only the ability to recognise but the desire to celebrate beauty. But we imitate the world when we trust our perception of appearances instead of seeking the truth (Proverbs 11:22). Whether we intend to or not, when we create our own standards of worth, the way we discern is faulty—leading to wrong views of others and wrong decisions.

James addressed the church’s cultural confusion, one which values worldly success but leaves the heart unchanged, in his letter to the “believers scattered abroad” (1:1). James 2:1 identifies the foundation of sure truth: “Our glorious Lord Jesus Christ”, a truth that separates the lifestyle of believers from the world’s favouritism. When Christ is at the centre of all we think and do, we begin to see reality, though in part, as He does.

When we’re no longer focused on others’ approval, we can be a part of creating a “kingdom culture” by valuing those who offer us nothing in return (vv.2-4). Discrimination, especially when based on another person’s appearance, is sin because it not only denies the diversity of all people made in God’s image but it is rooted in a humanistic desire for power and control (vv.9-10).

Godly discernment, on the other hand, displays both truth and love. And as history and Scripture bear out, we reveal God’s truth best through how we love others (1 John 3:18).

—Regina Franklin

Taken from “Our Daily Journey”

ODB: Faithful in Captivity

July 22, 2019 

READ: Genesis 39:6–12, 20–23 

While Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him. Genesis 39:20–21

 

Haralan Popov had no idea what turn his life would take when the doorbell rang early one morning in 1948. Without any warning, the Bulgarian police took Haralan away to prison because of his faith. He spent the next thirteen years behind bars, praying for strength and courage. Despite horrible treatment, he knew God was with him, and he shared the good news of Jesus with fellow prisoners—and many believed.

In the account from Genesis 37, Joseph had no idea what would happen to him after he was mercilessly sold by his angry brothers to merchants who took him to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar, an Egyptian official. He found himself in a culture surrounded by people who believed in thousands of gods. To make things worse, Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph. When Joseph refused repeatedly, she falsely accused him, leading to his being sent to prison (39:16–20). Yet God didn’t abandon him. Not only was He with Joseph, but He also “gave him success in everything he did” and even “showed him kindness and granted him favor” with those in authority (39:3, 21).

Imagine the fear Joseph must have felt. But he remained faithful and kept his integrity. God was with Joseph in his difficult journey and had a master plan for him. He has a plan in mind for you too. Take heart and walk in faith, trusting He sees and He knows.

— Estera Pirosca Escobar

What difficult situation have you experienced—perhaps one in which you were falsely accused? Why is it vital for you to maintain your integrity?


God, thank You for being with me always, even when life’s circumstances cause me to be uncomfortable. Help me to be faithful to You.