Respect the limits of life and of the Spirit, O Soul. Some things you can do for other people, but some things they must do for themselves. Each one must carry his own burden. You must carry your own burden as well. No one owes anyone a free lunch. You must develop your own faith. God will use many people in your life in a powerful way. But in the end, each one must assume responsibility for his faith and his direction in life. Be glad in this truth. It means that your peace and joy do not depend upon others, but solely on the Lord Jesus Christ. And do not let others make you the source of their faith, but only in God.
Ed M. helps us understand David’s despair in 1 Sam 30.6 and how that serves as an example for us.
David did not ask God for a miracle. He did not plead for a legion of angels. He asked for advice. He waited for a word from heaven. Then he moved ahead, Psalms 16:7. Difficulties were overcome. Victories were won. All went well because everyone went with God. A few months later David was crowned king over the nation of Israel.
Focus question: What word of heaven comes to you today from the Scriptures? In your crisis, what does God say?
In today’s devotional Ed M., from his work Plow New Ground, wrote, as a part of his prayer:
“Your presence is my victory.”
The prayer and the entire devotional was meaningful, as always.
A fish out of water. That is what you will often feel like, O Soul, as you engage people in the world and live among them. How must Jesus have felt among publicans and prostitutes? Be sure you never become accustomed to worldly ways and thoughts. Remember always your purpose in being among them. You are not there to participate in their evil and immoral deeds, but to put before them the truth of the gospel. You have been sent as light and salt, to bring knowledge of God and transformation by the Holy Spirit. You were sent by the Lord Jesus as his personal representative. A foreigner are you, so do not adapt your life in ways that conflict with God’s holiness. Feel the awkwardness, and let love reach out to pull sinners from the fire.
My trainer told me to go easy on the sweets. (He’s the neighbor who keeps hinting for my wife’s brownies.) Today I went to #LeChemin chocolate store and ate a R$5,00 bar of no-sugar chocolate with bits of cacau. It was not bitter at all, a special type of chocolate, said the nice lady behind the counter. (Her husband makes all the chocolates by hand.) So I ate and enjoyed it, with an expresso, with no guilt at all.
Maybe the Lord will approve of this simplest of verses:
God listens to the smallest fear,
He notes the single falling tear,
He answers every needy call,
And loves the lowest man of all.
Ed M. reflects today on God’s goodness, saying among other things:
There is something very comforting about his goodness. He lovingly provides for our welfare. He constantly cares for our happiness. We are not lost in the huge multitude, hidden by the complexity of the world, or obscured by the vastness of space, Psalms 8:3,4.
Focus question: Does my conviction of God’s goodness endure in the midst of trials?
More and more, I’ve come to understand that we cannot hope for anything good in man’s politics or societies. Perhaps at some point there might be some sort of pullback from the libertinism of postmodern life, toward a more reserved and moral conduct, but the will of God will never be fully respected anywhere but in the church. And even in some congregations, some scoff at God’s plan of salvation.
The work of evangelism and edification means that your teaching usually will be on a simple level. You may miss digging deeper into the Word of God. You might even be tempted to pursue rather involved discussions of the academics. And while going beyond the basic teachings is necessary for your spiritual growth, you must always come back to those fundamental truths of the gospel: what is necessary for salvation, how saints are to be faithful, the nature of God, the work of the Spirit, redemption through the Cross, the church’s identity and mission. O Soul, do not chafe when you have taught the same basic lesson a hundred times. May God give you a thousand more opportunities to teach it!