Friday, October 21
A Worldly Heart
God warns us against misguided desires, because sinful passions can lead to emptiness, suffering, disappointment, pain, and even death. Wise believers let the Father direct their yearnings, and then they adjust their mindset accordingly.
Impure desires have been part of the “flesh” nature since the fall of man, and they can be hard to recognize in ourselves. Instead of obvious things like theft, drugs, or immorality, they often involve more subtle attitudes and behaviors, like hoping for a rival’s downfall, despising authority (2 Pet. 2:10), obsessing about wealth (1 Tim. 6:9), or even speaking arrogant and vain words (2 Pet. 2:18). Since worldly passions can cause great damage, believers are to deny them (Titus 2:11-12). But we can’t overcome these desires on our own. Submitting to God’s Spirit is the only way to live righteously.
The Lord knows what we really desire—and more importantly, what we need—even when our cloudy judgment leads us astray. And He understands honest mistakes. When a believer misinterprets the Spirit’s guidance or receives bad advice from a friend, God looks at the heart. He may allow the consequences of a poor choice to play out, but He won’t shame His children for an honest error. Scripture teaches that He can turn a bad situation into something good (Rom. 8:28).
God can save us from worldly desires, but we must be willing to commit ourselves to Him and trust that His response is the best thing for us. When we put our life entirely in the Father’s hands, we can claim the wonderful promises He has for us and then rest in His grace.
Thursday, October 20
The Heart's Desires
If you could have anything in the world, what would it be? Your answer reveals a lot about you. The psalmist writes, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4). There is nothing wrong with desires—they motivate us to achieve great things. But not all of our yearnings come from God. Consider your aspirations and what they say about who you are:
• Do you hope for a position of authority in order to be in control? Longing for personal advancement in order to manipulate others reveals a lack of integrity, whereas a godly person craves righteousness.
• Do you dream about wealth and fame? Perhaps there’s a void in your spirit that you’re trying to fill. But only God can meet the insatiable needs of the human heart.
• Are you afraid to ask the Lord for what you want? Maybe you think He won’t listen, but God tells us to approach His throne with boldness and confidence (Heb. 4:16).
If the Lord doesn’t respond affirmatively to your prayers, ask Him to make your desires conform to His will. Whatever you do, don’t take matters into your own hands and go after what you want. There is always a high price to pay for rebelling against God.
God cares for us bountifully, but that doesn’t mean we can expect Him to deliver whatever we want, whenever we want it. Only when our dreams align with His plan for our life will He fulfill them. The thoughts that preoccupy us are an accurate barometer of the state of our relationship with Christ.
Wednesday, October 19
Alone with God
Where does prayer fit in your daily schedule? I’m not talking about the times you pray on the way to work or while eating breakfast, but the occasions when you are alone with God and it’s just the two of you. Although prayer at any time is good, we also need to have a set time and place where we meet with the Lord each day—preferably in the morning.
Even though Jesus was the Son of God, He knew the importance of solitary prayer time. He didn’t do anything on His own initiative but instead lived in dependence upon the Father, acting only on the instructions God communicated to Him. In today’s reading, we don’t know exactly what Jesus prayed, but when the disciples interrupted His morning prayer time, He had obviously received His Father’s direction for that day—to “go somewhere else” so that He could preach.
Jesus was the perfect example of a Spirit-led life, and prayer played a vital role. Since we are to follow in His footsteps, wouldn’t it make sense for us to meet with God early each morning in preparation for the day? This is the time to lay our concerns at His feet, seek guidance for whatever the day holds, trust Him for provision and protection, and intercede for others.
Although many things demand our time and attention, we can’t afford to neglect prayer. The fruit of prayerlessness is spiritual weakness, unmet needs, anxiety, and ingratitude. But when we make prayer a priority, we’ll have a firm foundation for the day ahead, no matter what it brings. And in the evening, we can look back with a heart of gratitude for answered prayer.
Tuesday, October 18
A Real Enemy
1 Peter 5:8-10
Let’s play a little game. Imagine that you’re a soldier during wartime. You’ve made it through basic training, mastered the weapons of war, memorized all the relevant warfare strategies, and are heading to battle.
You’ve seen the war in news headlines. Friends of yours have already been deployed. And now that you’re on the front lines, you witness explosions and desolation all around you. Without a doubt, you know that there is an enemy out to destroy you.
Now, imagine a fellow soldier coming to you and saying, “I really don’t believe there’s an enemy out there. I think it’s a myth, or maybe just a metaphor for evil. It isn’t real.”
How ridiculous! Right there in the midst of combat, with fallen comrades and used ammunition littering the battlefield, how could an intelligent person ever fail to acknowledge the presence of the enemy? It is unthinkable.
And yet, this exact situation is taking place in churches all around the world. Despite the evidence of war and regardless of the overtly personal and custom-made nature of the attacks, an astounding number of Christians simply do not believe in the existence of Satan. This is a tragic mistake.
My friend, there is a very real enemy stalking you right now, waiting for the opportunity to destroy you completely. If you want to grow and experience maturity in the Christian life, then you must take this battle seriously.
Are you prepared today? Put on your spiritual armor, and follow the Lord into battle. He’ll be by your side.
Monday, October 17
Dressed for Battle
When you wake up in the morning and get ready for the day, you’re probably not thinking about stepping onto a battlefield. But the enemy is all around us, constantly assaulting our heart and mind with temptations, adversities, emotional attacks, and more. And some days, it feels as though we are standing on the front lines of combat with no protection whatsoever.
Therein lies our misunderstanding. You see, we do have protection. The Lord made provision for our nakedness in battle. He hasn’t sent us to war unprotected. Instead, He’s given us a suit of armor that the enemy can’t penetrate—the armor of God.
In today’s passage, the apostle Paul tells us step by step how to prepare for our daily warfare, and yet most Christians don’t pay much attention to the instruction. We may say, “Well, that’s a nice metaphor, but we shouldn’t take it literally. After all, the armor isn’t real.” Yes, it is. It is as real as the clothes on your back.
Do you want to see a dramatic change in your life? Do you want to stand strong in the face of adversity? Do you want to overcome temptation? Then you need to dress for battle.
I challenge you to intentionally put on your spiritual armor every day for the next seven days. Put on one piece at a time—the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, the sandals of peace, the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit. Just try it as you meditate daily on Ephesians 6:10-18, and watch what God will do.
For more Biblical teachings from Dr. Charles Stanlely, visit www.intouch.org