Tempted as we are
What comes out of your MouthConditions of the heart
Bearing one another's burdens
Seeing the multitudes
Return to God
Choose to Rejoice
God Will not forget
Tempted As We Are
For since He Himself was tested and has suffered, He is able to help those who are tested.--Hebrews 2:18
You will never face a temptation so strong that God has not made complete provision for you to overcome it. God, out of His love, has done everything necessary for you to be victorious whenever you face temptation. He has clearly revealed His will to you in Scripture so that you will not be confused about the right thing to do. He has placed the Holy Spirit within you to guide you in your decisions and to convict you when you make harmful choices. With every temptation God also provides a way of escape so that you never have to yield to it (1 Cor. 10:13). Everything is in place for you to experience victory over every temptation.
God in His infinite love, however, has done even more to safeguard you from temptation. He has allowed Himself to suffer the full brunt of temptation. The very Son of God humbled Himself, taking on all the limitations of frail human flesh, and was tempted in every way that we are. Jesus knew what it was like to grow tired, to be hungry, to experience the same limitations we have; yet He was without sin. It is to this One that we turn when we are facing temptation. Ours is not an unsympathetic God who is unconcerned with our struggle to live righteously, but we follow a God who knows how difficult it is to resist sin and withstand temptation. We can approach Christ with confidence, knowing that He understands our plight. He knows how to aid us when we are tempted.
—Experiencing God Day by Day
What Comes out of Your Mouth?
But what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this defiles a man.--Matthew 15:18
The Bible stresses that what you say is an accurate indicator of what is in your heart. If your words bless and encourage others, they give evidence of a compassionate heart. If you often share the good news about Christ, you demonstrate a heart that is grateful for your own salvation. When others are in a crisis, do they know they will find peace and comfort in your words? Do you frequently and spontaneously offer prayers for others? Do your words and the manner in which you say them reveal a patient heart? All of these behaviors indicate a heart that is like the heart of the Father.
Or do you often regret your words? Are there people even now who are hurt or angry because of something you have said? Do you enjoy gossip? Do you tend to criticize others? Do you feel that you are not responsible for what comes out of your mouth when you are angry? Does your mouth spew grumbling and complaints? These behaviors come from a heart that is unlike God's heart.
You may say, “Oh, but that's just the way I am! I'm always saying the wrong thing!” Yet Scripture clearly states that an abusive tongue is not under the control of the Spirit (James 3:3–l0). A sanctified mouth is a wonderful instrument for the Lord. A heart like the Father's heart will produce only pure and loving words. Without making any excuses for your words, ask the Holy Spirit to forgive you for any words that have brought harm. Then ask Him to discipline your mouth so that every word you speak is used by God to encourage and edify others.
—Experiencing God Day by Day
The Condition of the Heart
But the seed in the good ground—these are the ones who, having heard the word with an honest and good heart, hold on to it and by enduring, bear fruit.--Luke 8:15
At any time, the receptiveness of your heart will determine your response to God's word (Luke 8:5–18). If your heart is like the trampled ground, hardened by the sin of bitterness and unforgiveness, you will be unable to accept a message from God. Though you hear the words of the message, you will remain unchanged. If your heart is like the shallow soil on top of a rock, you will accept God's word in your mind, but the truth will not penetrate your heart to make a difference in your actions. A heart like thorny soil is a life that is distracted by the cares of the world; the pursuit of earthly pleasures prevents God's word from taking hold and producing righteousness. The heart that is like good soil receives a word from God, applies it, and brings forth fruit in due time. This is the heart that Jesus desires in us, for the fruit will be a Christlike life.
Any time you hear a word from God, whether through Bible reading, prayer, or worship, the way you respond will depend on how you have cultivated your heart (Hos. 10:12). How do you develop a heart that is like good soil? Repent of any bitterness, anger, or unforgiveness that is hardening your heart. Meditate on God's word until it enters deep into your heart and not just your mind. When you read or hear a word from God, apply it to your life and let God bring His word into reality in your life (Gal. 6:9). Protect your lifestyle. See that you don't devote all of your energy to worldly concerns, rather than to pursuing your relationship with God. The condition of your heart will vary, depending on how you cultivate it. If it was receptive to a word from God yesterday, this does not guarantee it is receptive today. Daily prepare your heart for the word God has for you!
—Experiencing God Day by Day
Remember this: the person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously.--2 Corinthians 9:6
You are called to be intentional about your Christianity. You must be determined to experience the fullness of God in every area of your Christian life and never to settle for a shallow, lackadaisical relationship with almighty God. God will bless you according to how you respond to His invitations. If He finds in you a generous heart that willingly and freely gives what it has to others, then God responds toward you in like manner.
When the apostle Paul encouraged the believers in Corinth to help the Christians in Jerusalem, he promised them that if they would sow generously, they would reap a generous return from God.
This truth holds life-changing potential for us. If we invest everything we have in our relationship with God, we will experience the full dimensions of being children of God. If our desire is to know God more intimately, and if we spend ample time studying His word, God will generously enrich our relationship with Him. If we discipline ourselves to remain in prayer even when praying is difficult, He will reward us with a deeper, more powerful prayer life. If we reconcile any broken relationships and prepare our hearts before worship, and if we participate fully and reverently in every part of worship, God promises that we will meet Him and our lives will be changed.
Why is it that some Christians grow rapidly in their Christian faith and others remain unchanged year after year? Our Christian maturity is deeply affected by what we sow. Let us choose to sow generously in everything we do in our Christian lives. The harvest we reap will be Christlikeness.
—Experiencing God Day by Day
Bearing One Another's Burdens
Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.--Galatians 6:2
When God places people in your life who are in need, He is aware of what they lack, and He knows He has given you the resources to meet those needs. You know God does nothing by accident. When a need surfaces around you, immediately go to the Father and say, “You put me here for a reason. You knew this was going to happen. What did You intend to do through me that would help this person become closer to You?”
Recognizing a need in someone's life can be one of the greatest invitations from God you will ever experience. It's easy to become frustrated by the problems of others. They can overwhelm you as you become aware of need after need. Rather than looking at each new problem as one more drain on your time, energy, or finances, ask God why He placed you in this situation. Allow God to help you see beyond the obvious needs of others to the things He wants to accomplish in their lives. Don't miss God's activity because you're reluctant to carry the load of others.
Is God blessing you materially? It may be He is developing a “supply depot” in your life through which He can provide for others. Has God granted you a strong, healthy family life? It may be that He requires such a home to minister to the hurting families all around you. Has God released you from sinful habits? Has God's peace comforted you in a time of great sorrow? Has God miraculously provided for your needs? It may be that He has been purposefully building things into your life so that you can now be the kind of person who will carry the burdens of others.
—Experiencing God Day by Day
Seeing the Multitudes
When He saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain, and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.
Then He began to teach them, saying. . . --Matthew 5:1–2
Christ sees people far differently than we do. Throughout the Gospels we see a pattern in the way Jesus taught His disciples. Whenever He saw the multitudes, Jesus would reveal to the disciples what was on His heart for the people. Jesus wanted His disciples to share His love for the people. The disciples did not always understand all He was telling them, but He assured them that later the Holy Spirit would reveal the significance of His words (John 14:25–26). When the multitudes began pressing in on Him, Jesus would get alone with His disciples and teach them about God's love for people.
You will experience this same pattern as you walk with Jesus. When God places you in a crowd, you may sense the Holy Spirit impressing upon you the heart and mind of God for those people. Perhaps your Lord will lead you to a solitary place where He shares with you His compassion for the people you have been with. He may reveal to you His will for the people and invite you to join Him in His redemptive activity. He may place a burden on your heart to pray for them. If you are among people and are unmoved by their spiritual condition, God may develop your love for them so that you are prepared to minister to them as He desires.vThe next time you are in a crowd, listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying. You may discover that God has much on His heart for those people and that He is waiting for one of His disciples to respond to His prompting.
Return to God
“So tell the people: This is what the Lord of Hosts says: Return to Me”—[this is] the declaration of the Lord of Hosts—“and I will return to you, says the Lord of Hosts.”--Zechariah 1:3
God places much of the burden of what we will become on our response to Him. If we have drifted from God, His call is to return to Him. God promises that if we will return, He will immediately renew His relationship with us. James 4:8 promises that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. Matthew 7:7 guarantees that if we seek Christ, we will find Him. Much of the Christian life rests upon our response and our desire to experience God to the fullest.
Why is it that some Christians seem to go so much deeper in their walk with God than others? Why have some had such powerful intercessory prayer ministries that have changed the courses of nations? Why has God chosen to anoint the words of some so that, when they speak or pray or preach, it is obvious that their words are consecrated by God? It is because these individuals have committed themselves to pursue God until His presence is powerfully real in their lives. They have decided to settle for nothing less than a vibrant relationship with God, and He has honored their desire.
Have you become complacent with your relationship with God, or are you hungering for more? Don't become satisfied with a relationship with God that is broken by sin and void of the power of the Holy Spirit. You have just as much of God's powerful presence available to you as the greatest saint in Christian history! Return to God. There is so much more in store for you if you will return to Him. He awaits your response.
Choose to Rejoice
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.--Acts 16:25
Your joy as a Christian should not depend on your circumstances. Joy comes from God, and therefore it cannot be affected by what is outside of you. Don't be fooled into letting the actions of others determine your joy. True joy comes from knowing that God Himself lives within you and has fellowship with you, regardless of your environment. Real joy lies in the knowledge that holy God has completely forgiven you of every sin, and even now, He has a home prepared in heaven where you can spend eternity with Him (John 14:3). The circumstances of your life cannot change these truths!
Paul and Silas faced some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable. They were falsely accused, arrested, and imprisoned. They were beaten and shackled in the darkest, coldest section of the prison. But they refused to allow their horrific situation to dampen their joy! They did not blame God for allowing these things to happen to them. Instead, they praised Him for His goodness! In the darkness of the night, they prayed and they sang. God brought a miracle that released them from their chains, but perhaps the greater miracle was that His Holy Spirit could so fill them that even in their painful imprisonment they could overflow with joy!
Do not allow difficult events to cancel the joy of knowing you are a child of God. Choose to allow God's Spirit to fill you with His unquenchable joy, and your life will be a miracle to those who watch you face the trials that come.
For godly grief produces a repentance not to be regretted and leading to salvation, but worldly grief produces death.--2 Corinthians 7:10
There is a difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow, though both are deeply felt. You can feel genuine sorrow over something you have done. Your mind can become consumed with your failure and offense against God and others. Judas felt this kind of sorrow. He betrayed the Son of God for thirty pieces of silver, the standard price of a slave. Yet his sorrow did not lead him to repent and to seek restoration with his fellow disciples, but rather to a lonely field where, in his anguish, he took his own life (Matt. 27:3–5). Judas carried his sorrow to his grave.
How different Peter's sorrow was! Peter, too, failed Jesus on the night of His crucifixion. Peter also went out and wept bitterly (Luke 22:62). Yet Peter returned to Jesus and reaffirmed his love for Him (John 21:15–17). Peter was not only remorseful, he was also repentant. Peter's life changed. There is no record of Peter ever denying his Lord again, even when he was persecuted and threatened with death. Peter repented, turned his life around, and never committed that sin again.
Don't allow mere unhappiness over what you have done to rob you of genuine repentance. You can blame yourself and be angry with yourself for the sins you have committed, but that is not repentance. Allow the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the gravity of your sins. Ask the Spirit to clearly show you how God views your character. When you see your sin from God's perspective, you will experience godly sorrow.