Friday, October 28
Our Generous Provider
Generosity is usually a term we apply to people, but have you ever considered how generous the Lord is toward us? First of all, He created the earth and all it contains as a habitation for mankind. He made the sun to give light and cause vegetation to grow, and He sends rain to water the land and quench our thirst. The Lord has abundantly made provision for our physical needs.
This alone should cause us to stand in awe of His love and care for us, but His generosity doesn’t end with the physical necessities. He’s also provided for all our spiritual needs through His Son. As a result of Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins, we who believe in Him are reconciled to God and given a wealth of spiritual blessings. We have His Word to guide us, His Spirit to empower and transform us into Christ’s image, and His church to encourage and support us. Yet His generosity doesn’t end there.
The Lord has also promised us an imperishable, undefiled, and unfading inheritance in heaven. (See 1 Pet. 1:4.) All that He has prepared for us is beyond our human understanding, but Revelation 21 and 22 describe the new heaven and earth as a place of abundance and blessing, untainted by sin and death.
In light of all that the Lord has so richly provided and promised, gratitude should be our first response. However, since we are His people, who are called to walk in His Spirit, we should also be characterized by generosity toward others. That means meeting not only physical needs but also spiritual ones by proclaiming the gospel and encouraging fellow believers.
Thursday, October 27
God's Call to Repentence
In the parable of the prodigal son, the younger brother asked for his inheritance early so he might live as he chose. Once the father gave him his share, the young man made many unwise choices that led to hunger and destitution. What happened next illustrates the principles of godly repentance.
After squandering all of his money, the wayward son found work feeding pigs, a bottom-of-the-barrel kind of job. One day he came to his senses and recognized his terrible plight. His repentance began with an awareness of his wrong choices and the fact that his bad situation was due to them.
Knowing that his difficulties came from unrighteous behavior, the prodigal grieved over his mistakes and acknowledged his sin (Luke 15:18). He declared he was no longer worthy to be his father’s son. Godly sorrow and confession led the young man to leave that place and go home. His repentance was made complete when he turned away from his old ways and returned to his father. The Lord likewise calls us to repent and return to Him.
What a welcome the prodigal son received! Upon seeing him, the father was filled with compassion and ran to embrace him. Forgiveness and acceptance were extended to the son. Both are blessings that God freely offers to whoever asks Him.
The prodigal son did not clean himself up before returning home. He simply left his old life, turned toward home, and trusted in his father’s mercy. The heavenly Father calls us to repent and offers us forgiveness when we turn away from our self-centered ways and move toward godliness (1 John 1:9)
Wednesday, October 26
Because we desire to be more like Jesus, we make resolutions, ask Him to help us, and try to behave differently. Yet despite our best efforts to do things God’s way, we slide back into old habits. Frustrated, we may ask Him, “Why can’t I change?”
Overcoming sinful attitudes and behaviors starts with genuine repentance.
Conviction. The Holy Spirit will reveal the areas in which we’ve sinned and convict us of wrongdoing. Through Scripture, He’ll show us God’s standard and what needs to change. Repentance begins with understanding where we have gone astray.
Contrition. The next step—grieving over our iniquity—is followed by confession to the Lord. It’s simply human nature to sense regret when we are caught in misbehavior, deal with the consequences of poor choices, or feel ashamed that people know about our sin. In contrast, genuine sorrow arises from the knowledge that we’ve sinned against God. True contrition will lead us to humble confession.
Commitment. Real repentance is complete when we wholeheartedly pledge to turn from our old ways and move toward righteousness. God knows we won’t live perfectly, but He looks for a surrendered heart that diligently seeks to obey Him.
Paul used strong language when telling us to turn from iniquity: “Put to death ... whatever belongs to your earthly nature” (Col. 3:5 NIV). What sin are you struggling to overcome? Have you genuinely repented, committing to turn from it permanently? Let the Holy Spirit empower you to change.
Tuesday, October 25
The Burden of Sin
The burdens we carry come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties. Many are weighty, but there’s one load that proves even heavier—and it can be traced back to the garden of Eden.
Because Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:6), all people have been born with sinful hearts. Holiness and sin cannot mix. Therefore, in our natural state, none of us are able to fellowship with God.
What is worse, we continue to do wrong. The Bible says that every one of us has gone astray, like a sheep wandering from his shepherd (Isa. 53:6). So on our own, we have no access to God. And there is nothing that we—fallen humans—can do to rectify the situation. That’s why I see this as the heaviest burden of all.
But our Creator loved us so much that He sent His own Son to live a perfect life on earth. Jesus deserved fellowship with God, yet He took our sin and its punishment by dying on the cross in our place. And then He conquered death by rising to life again.
His atonement for our wrongs is a gift that is available to anyone who believes. The Savior longs for us to accept that He willingly paid the price to redeem us. He desires to relieve the burden of sin from our heart. Only then will we experience true life and freedom.
Have you received God’s free gift of salvation? Jesus loves you so much that He gave His life to have a relationship with you. If you believe in Him and accept His death as your undeserved atonement for sin, He will forgive you for all unrighteousness and welcome you onto the path of true life.
Monday, October 24
When Facing Life's Mountains
Wouldn’t it be great if it were easy to do God’s will? But sometimes it seems as if a mountain stands between us and what we’ve been called to do. When Zerubbabel felt this way, the Lord sent His prophet Zechariah with a message of encouragement.
Zerubbabel was given the task of rebuilding the temple. When King Solomon built the first temple, the kingdom was at peace, the treasuries were overflowing, and the workforce was huge. But the situation was quite different when the Jews returned after 70 years of Babylonian captivity. They were few in number, their enemies kept attacking them, Jerusalem was in ruins, and resources were very limited. Zechariah’s message to Zerubbabel (Zech. 4:1-9) contained two principles that strengthened him and will also help us when we face insurmountable obstacles.
• We are to face our God-given tasks in the power of the Holy Spirit, not in our own strength and energy (Zech. 4:6). The Lord’s work can never be done with human strength. His indwelling Spirit must empower us with the wisdom and energy to accomplish His will in our lives.
• When God calls us to a task, He assumes the responsibility for removing any hindrances (Zech. 4:7-9). What seems to us like Mount Kilimanjaro is a mere anthill for the Lord. When we’re tempted to give up, it’s time to look up, see the obstacle through His eyes, and trust Him.
Is the Lord asking you to do something that seems impossible? Dwelling on your own inadequacy leads to discouragement, but focusing on the Lord gives hope and the strength to persevere.
For more Biblical teachings from Dr. Charles Stanlely, visit www.intouch.org