Thursday, December 1
Do you want to know who God is and what He cares about most in your life? You may have stored up lots of intellectual information about the Bible, and that is important, but it’s not the main issue. You may serve the Lord, which is also necessary. And you may give generously to the church—another significant aspect of Christian life. But what matters most is the depth of your personal relationship with the Lord. Knowledge, service, and tithes can never replace intimacy with God.
The psalmist-king understood this truth, and it strengthened him in times of trouble. When his son Absalom tried to take over the throne, David fled to the wilderness, where he wrote these words: “But You, O Lord, are a shield about me ... I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me round about” (Ps. 3:3, Ps. 3:6). He knew that even in raging adversity, he could count on God’s unfailing love and protection.
Throughout David’s psalms, we repeatedly see his unwavering dependence on the Lord. It was that passion—not his brute strength, charisma, or ability to command an army—that made him a great man. And even though he had a number of failures, the Bible describes him as a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22).
It’s not enough to read the Bible, volunteer your services, and give money to kingdom work. God wants to know you personally. While tangible expressions of our devotion are important, they should be the result of a mature relationship with God. When we seek Him first, the rest will follow.
Wednesday, November 30
Not only was King Solomon the wisest man who ever lived (1 Kings 3:12); he was also blessed with wealth beyond imagination and the privilege of building God’s temple. So we might expect him to know deep contentment.
In searching for that profound fulfillment, Solomon devoted himself to exploring all kinds of things. Ecclesiastes tells us that he indulged in the pleasures of the world, even dabbling in pursuits he recognized as folly to see if there was anything worthwhile in them. But the satisfaction Solomon sought evaded him, and he concluded that self-indulgence was without value.
To feel content, the king tried another avenue: personal achievement. He undertook great projects, such as building houses for himself, improving the environment with gardens and parks, and carrying out an extensive irrigation project (Eccl. 2:4-6). The king had everything he could ever need to enjoy life, but in the end, he concluded it was all without meaning.
The story has a familiar ring, doesn’t it? Our world has many highly educated and successful people, but there is also much dissatisfaction. Our culture pursues pleasure and does not accept limits on its passions. Sadly, such lack of restraint has ruined countless lives.
Solomon possessed the wisdom and resources to accomplish whatever he decided to do. Yet the goals that he pursued brought no lasting contentment. He concluded that the best course was to obey God (Eccl. 12:13). True enjoyment comes only when we align ourselves with His will. Any other way is meaningless.
Tuesday, November 29
The Value of Discernment
If you made a list of the things you want most in life, would a discerning spirit be one of them? The Lord places a high value on this attribute and wants all of us to have it. If we don’t, we will make wrong choices because we won’t understand situations clearly.
Discernment is the ability to make sound judgments by perceiving what is not readily obvious. For example, can you tell the difference between legalism and liberty? God calls each of us to live according to our personal convictions, but not all of them are moral mandates for every believer. We should be able to determine the difference between the two.
Another area that requires discernment is distinguishing good from best. God has the perfect plan for each of us; however, there are a multitude of good options before us. For instance, suppose you’re offered two different jobs. They both look promising, but only one of them is God’s best for you. Do you know how to determine His will?
It’s obvious from these two examples that our most basic need for discernment involves being able to understand what God is saying to us. When you’re faced with a decision, how do you know if you’re hearing from the Lord or simply listening to your own desires or reasoning?
The time to develop discernment is now. Don’t wait until a critical decision faces you. Begin today to fill your mind with God’s Word so you can think His thoughts and understand His ways. Spend time with Him in intimate fellowship. The more you know Him, the better you can discern His voice.
Monday, November 28
The Power of a Discerning Spirit
Sunday, November 27
Being Ready in Tough Times
For more Biblical teachings from Dr. Charles Stanlely, visit www.intouch.org