STAND FIRM IN THE FAITH

Scripture Reading: I Corinthians 16:13,14

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.” (I Corinthians 16:13,14)

These are some of Paul’s concluding words in his first epistle to the Corinthians. He is giving pastoral advice that we need to hear. We live in a world that is filled with temptations, difficulties and pain. We are in a huge spiritual battle that wages within us — “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want” (Galatians 5:17). We often fail to recognize the power of the flesh. We get careless and let our guard down.

We also fail to understand the schemes of the evil one — “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of their dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Our three great enemies — the world, the flesh, and the devil — attack us subtly and powerfully. It is so easy to fall into sinful thoughts and practices.

Thus we are given these words — “Be on guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.” We must stand firm in our faith and fight the good fight.

Lord, grant me grace to be on guard and to stand firm in the faith. You are my only hope.

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YOUR LOVE STANDS FOREVER

Scripture Reading: Psalm 89:1-4

“I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that You established Your faithfulness in heaven itself.” (Psalm 89:1-4)

We cannot comprehend the extent of the love of God. Paul put it this way — “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with the saints, to know how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17b-19).

God’s love is everlasting — “I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with loving-kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3). As the Psalmist has said — “Your love stands firm forever, that You established Your faithfulness in heaven itself”. God’s love is firm and secure. He will never stop loving us, even when we fail Him.

The Psalmist was overcome by God’s love — “I will sing of the Lord’s love forever, with my mouth I will make Your faithfulness known to all generations” (v. 1). God’s love for us should warm our hearts; it should give us joy and peace. When we are out of fellowship with the Lord or in sin, we fail to feel His love because we have moved away from Him. None-the-less His love is firm forever.

Lord God, we long to know Your steadfast love. You have said that Your love is ever lasting to ever lasting.


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A FIRM PLACE TO STAND

Scripture Reading: Psalm 40:1-3

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire, He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” (Psalm 40:2)

The slimy pit is a terrible place to be. It is full of mud and mire. When we are careless about our spiritual lives and make wrong choices, we quickly fall into the pit. We get stuck in the mud and feel dirty and trapped. We become overwhelmed with our failures and we desperately want to be rescued because we cannot crawl out of the pit on our own no matter how hard we try. We slip back into the mud and mire.

The only hope we have is to call out to the Lord — “I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard me cry” (v. 1). When we call out to Him in faith, He hears our prayers and acts on our behalf — “He lifted my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand” (v. 2). Do you see the contrast? The Psalmist was in a slimy pit, sinking in mud and mire. But God set his feet on a rock and gave him a firm place to stand.

David experienced God’s hand of deliverance from the terrible place he had been. When he did, he found incredible joy and peace — “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God” (v. 3a).

Being careless spiritually, failing to walk in step with the Spirit can lead to a fall into the slimy pit. When we come to our senses and seek the Lord’s deliverance, He will come to our rescue and “many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord” (v. 3b).

Lord God, I have been in the slimy pit. It is a terrible place to be. I am so grateful that You hear my prayers and come to rescue me. Please set my feet on a firm place to stand.

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THE PLANS OF THE LORD

Scripture Reading: Psalm 33:8-11

“But the plans of the Lord stand forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.” (Psalm 33:11)

One of the most comforting doctrines in Scripture is the doctrine of the sovereignty of God. God is in full control of all things. Nothing happens by chance. From eternity past, God has established a comprehensive plan for His creation. This comprehensive plan includes plans for each of His children.

Because God is all-powerful, His plans cannot be altered by anyone or any situation. The Psalmist reminds us of the power of our God — “Let all the earth fear the Lord, let all the people of the world revere Him. For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm” (vs. 8,9).

Human beings and nations develop their plans, but they are subject to God’s plan — “The Lord foils the plans of the nations; He thwarts the purposes of the peoples” (v. 10). Any plans we make are subject to God’s plans — “But the plans of the Lord stand forever, the purposes flow out of His loving and gracious heart. His plans are for our good — “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Because God’s plans are firm and secure for all generations, God brings everything in conformity with His plans — “In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plans of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will” (Ephesians 1:11). Be comforted because “the plans of the Lord stand forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.”

Sovereign Lord, I know that You have established Your plans in eternity past. You rule and over-rule all things to bring Your plans to pass. I know You have plans for my life, plans that give me hope and a future.

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SABBATH REST

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 4:1-13

“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His.” (Hebrews 4:9,10)

The writer to the Hebrews reminds us that one day we will have ultimate rest when we go to be with the Lord — “Now we who have believed enter that rest” (v. 3a). The Sabbath-rest that is promised to us is our ultimate rest from all the difficulties of living in this fallen world. There will be no more pain or sorrow. Sin will be gone forever. We will no longer mourn or be overwhelmed by the temptations and sorrows that we experience on this earth.

Our labors on earth will have been completed, just as God worked six days creating and then rested on the seventh day — “For somewhere He has spoken about the seventh day in these words: ‘And on the seventh day God rested from all His work'” (v. 4).

There is a beautiful picture of the saints as they enter this Sabbath-rest in Revelation 7 — “Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lord at the center of the throne will be their shepherd. He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:16,27).

Lord Jesus, I look in great anticipation to the Sabbath-rest that I will enjoy with You through all eternity. Thank You that You will give me ultimate rest one day. Until that day give me strength to deal with the difficulties of living in this fallen world.

NOTE: I will be on vacation next week and will not be posting devotions. I’ll begin again on the following week.

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I WILL GIVE YOU REST

Scripture Reading: Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28,28)

We all face seasons in our lives when we carry heavy burdens. We become overwhelmed with guilt and sorrow. We have deep regrets and feel down and discouraged. We worry about our children, our grandchildren, and others whom we love. We are troubled over health issues, work matters, and finances. We become fearful and anxious. Our burdens seem too great for us to handle. Sometimes they are. We cannot carry them ourselves.

Jesus comes to us in the midst of our troubles and gives us an invitation — “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Do you sense the tenderness and love that is in this invitation. Jesus is gentle and humble in heart. He is not harsh and condemning. He bids us to come into His loving presence. He welcomes us in our all unworthiness and heaviness. He calls us to repentance and is quick to forgive.

I picture Jesus standing in front of me with open arms seeking to comfort and restore me. He wants us to have rest for our souls. He wants to carry our burdens with us — “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4a). We must come to Him. We must take His yoke upon us and learn from Him.

The words or Annie Johnson Flint’s hymn are a reminder of the Lord’s love and grace — “He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater; He sendeth more strength when the labors increase. To added affliction He added His mercy; to multiplied trials He multiplied grace. His love has no limit, His grace has no measure; His power has no boundary known unto men. For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.”

When we become weary and burdened, heed Jesus’ invitation — “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Lord Jesus, sometimes the burdens are so heavy. I become weary and overwhelmed. I cannot carry these burdens alone. I come to You today and seek rest for my soul. I know that this rest can only be found in You, for You are gentle and humble in heart. I desperately need Your presence, love, grace, and forgiveness. Thank You for welcoming me into Your loving arms where I can find rest for my soul.

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REST IN HIS PRESENCE

Scripture Reading: I John 3:16-20

“This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts and He knows everything.” (I John 3:19,20)

These words bring me great comfort — “We set our hearts at rest in His presence.” The key to finding rest in our hearts is to learn how to have an intimate fellowship with our Lord. Throughout the Scriptures, we see a God who moves toward us; One who seeks to know us intimately. We were created to have a deep and abiding relationship with our Savior.

We must make it a priority to spend time alone with God on a consistent basis. We must learn how to appropriate the Lord’s presence in our lives. This takes time and it means being committed to come regularly in His presence. David understood this. Thus he wrote — “I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hind, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8).

We are never alone. Our Savior is always with us. We must remember to set the Lord before us. When we do, we will find rest for our hearts and experience His joy in our souls. “You have made known to me the path of life. You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand” (Psalm 16:11).

Lord, forgive me for the many times that I have failed to make time with You a priority in my life. I know that our hearts become restless when we fail to have fellowship with you. Our hearts can find rest and joy in Your presence. Draw me close to You and give rest to my heart.

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REST FOR YOUR SOULS

Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 6:16-19

“This is what the Lord says: Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16)

This passage in Jeremiah helps us understand another path that leads to rest for our souls. As we have seen, the Psalmist found rest in the Lord’s presence — “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1). But we also find rest for our souls as we seek to live our lives in obedience to the will of God — “Ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Sin robs us of spiritual rest. It disturbs our souls. We become heavy ladened with guilt and we lack inward peace because we are out of fellowship with the Lord. Sin separates us from intimate fellowship with our Lord and draws us away from His presence.

Thus, we must “stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it.” We will often find ourselves at the crossroads where we have to make choices in the way we should go. Choosing the way that honors the Lord and walking faithfully in it will bring deep, inward rest for our souls.

Lord God, enable me to make wise choices about the ways in which I live my life. Let me seek the good way and strengthen me to walk in it. Forgive me when I make bad choices. I know that they rob my soul of rest. Thank You for forgiving me when I sin. I often struggle with the battle within me. Let me stand at the crossroads and look. Lead me to the good way.

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RESTING IN THE SHADOW OF THE ALMIGHTY

Scripture Reading: Psalm 91:1-7

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'” (Psalm 91:1,2)

We live in a day of unrest. We pack our days with appointments, activities, and busy schedules. We seldom have times when we can unwind and rest. We were created to have rest. Look at the creation. God labored six days and rested on the seventh day. We, likewise, must build some margins in our lives so that we can rest.

Failing to have times of rest puts huge stress on our lives. It affects us spiritually, emotionally, and physically. This week we will look at biblical passages that deal with rest. Our passage today gives us the source of our rest — “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Notice what the Psalmist says about our God — “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” We can find rest in Him. We can be confident that He is with us and that He will protect us. The key is to come into His presence and to trust in HIs love and grace. We find our rest when we dwell in the shelter of the Most High. This means we make a deliberate decision to set aside time each day to come into His welcoming presence. When we do, we will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

“There is a place of quiet rest near to the heart of God. A place where sin cannot molest near to the heart of God. O Jesus, blest Redeemer, sent from the heart of God, hold us who wait before Thee near to the heart of God.” (Cleland.B. McAfee)

Most High God, I seek to dwell in Your shelter. When I do I find rest in You. I desperately need rest for my soul. I come to You seeking Your love, grace, and forgiveness. Bring comfort to me and give me Your perfect peace. Strengthen me and protect me for You are my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.

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