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DAY 1- Increase in Spiritual Hunger and Holiness
Scripture:Psalm 51:10-12 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.”
Daniel 6:10 “Now when David knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before God, as he had been doing previously.”
It was Daniel’s practice, three times a day, to go to an upstairs room in his apartment, open the windows facing Jerusalem, get down on his knees and pray to the one true God. No doubt, Daniel prayed at other times too. He probably prayed throughout the day. But there were these special times, set aside times, where it was his priority to meet with God in prayer. In fact, it was such a priority to Daniel that when the king passed a decree that for the next thirty days people could only pray to the king, Daniel refused. Daniel may have been an important official in Darius’ kingdom, but when the kings law conflicted with God’s Law, the choice was clear. Daniel just kept right on praying.
Upon being found out, the king, having no other choice, threw Daniel into the lion’s den as punishment for not submitting to the law. However, God protected Daniel, delivered Daniel, honored Daniel, and then put it in the Bible for us all to read.
Of the many truths in Chapter 6, the greatest concerns Daniel’s prayer. Three times a day, he set a special time aside to pray. God nowhere commands us that we are to do the same, but there is great wisdom here. Wisdom would suggest a special time, or several shorter times, set aside each day to meet with God in prayer. A time we prioritize. A time we protect.
I am not suggesting that we don’t pray throughout the day. But it is wise also to have a special time of prayer each day. Maybe it’s not a long time, but it is your sanctified time with God. It is your time to talk and listen and to be together, no matter what else may happen throughout your day. God will, during that time, fill you up, restore your soul, and prepare you for whatever the day brings. As we spend increased amounts of time with God in prayer, we will find that we have an increased desire to do so. There will be an increased desire for holiness. It is the only reasonable result when we spend time with The Holy God.
Prayer: Lord awaken my heart to Your love. Give me an increased hunger to spend more time in prayer, worship, and Your Word. Please give me a greater awareness of Your holiness, a tender conscious, and a heart to please You in every thought, word, and deed. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.
DAY 2- Draw Close to the Lord
Scripture: Ephesians 3:12 “in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.”
Hebrews 4:16 “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Devotional:How can we sincerely draw close to a God who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and fully aware of all the reasons we shouldn’t be in His presence? Is it safe? Is this really what God wants- to be in our presence?
These are common questions and concerns of the Christian life. We all have serious insecurities when considering approaching God. In my own life, I have experienced many dark times when I felt unworthy or unqualified to have such a privilege. I’m certain as you are reading this, you can point out a couple of times in your own life when you wondered, “Am I worthy of God’s presence?”
Why do we have this internal struggle? Because we know ourselves! We know our propensity to sin. We know our inability to live out the righteousness that God expects and deserves from us. If we were Him, we wouldn’t be pleased to have us come near either. Praise God though because He knows we all have these struggles. And, He offers the answer.
First, our confidence in drawing near to God is not based on our performance. Our confidence is in the performance of Jesus. Hebrews 4:16 and Ephesians 3:12 tell us to come to God with boldness based on our full confidence in the finished work of Jesus. WE ARE NOT coming to God based on our own work, but His.
Secondly, our confidence in drawing near to God is based on His love. We can trust His love for us. And strangely enough, the very things in our lives that appear to disqualify us- sin, weakness, failure, etc.- provide convincing proof of God’s love. If someone says they love us but are not familiar with our past failures and our current weaknesses, we cannot be sure they really do love us or if their love is circumstantially based on what they do know of us. However, if they are fully aware of the good and the bad and love us anyway, we are truly loved.
In knowing these two truths, 1) He provided everything necessary for us to be with Him through His Son Jesus and 2) that He knows us and loves us, we are able to DRAW CLOSE TO HIM.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, reveal anything in our lives that would hinder our ability to be in Your presence. Help us see our propensity to sin and help us to change. Help us to see our sin the way You see it. Thank you for loving us in spite of our failures. Lord, it is Your loving-kindness that leads us to repentance. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
DAY 3- A Heart for Worship
Scripture: Romans 12:1 “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”
Hebrews 12:28-29 “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.”
Devotional: Can I ask a simple question? What do you keep central in your life? Is it your job, kids, loved ones, or your spouse? Perhaps, it is all of these things. For Christians, the central focus of our lives should be Jesus. HE is the heart of our worship. As such, God desires every part of us, not just the 15 minutes pre-service as we wait for our weekly Bible preaching on Sunday mornings.
God desires a daily internal sacrifice. Our relationship with God was never intended to be a series of individual rituals. This can never satisfy an all-consuming God. Instead, we are to show our gratitude for what He has done on our behalf through Christ Jesus by doing what Christ Jesus did; we are to live our lives in constant spiritual service to the Lord.
We struggle with worship for one primary reason- we lack a true God-consciousness. I often find myself wondering, if we could tangibly see God walking with us every day, would our worship be different? The answer, of course, would be “absolutely!” To be conscious of the fact that God is watching us, that He is present with us, and that sees EVERYTHING we do every day would have to change the way we lived our lives. Why? Because it would create “reverence and awe” in us. When we lose our God-consciousness, the truth that God DOES exist and walk with us in our every day, we tend to live our lives as we see fit, with little (or perhaps no) daily consideration of His presence.
Let us be a people that are constantly aware of His presence. Let us be a people that walk in reverence towards Him. Let us be a people that truly present our bodies as “living and holy sacrifices” before God. When we do these things, our heart for worship- our capacity for worship will increase and we will become the God-honoring people for whom He sent Jesus.
Prayer: Humbly and confidently, we come into Your presence. We ask that our lives bring glory to You. Our desire is to worship you with our whole hearts. Give us a “God-consciousness” so that every day of our lives we will be a people of worship. Our desire is to give ourselves completely to your worship in everything that we do. This is our cry and in the name of your Son Jesus, we pray. Amen.
DAY 4- Pure Desires
Scripture:Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Nehemiah 1:11 “O Lord, I beseech You, may Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delight to revere Your name, make Your servant successful today, and grant him compassion before this man.”
Devotional: Perhaps one the most misused Scripture in all of the Bible, is Psalm 37:4. I have heard it quoted often in instances where people were questioning the promises of God. The conversation typically starts like this: “I know the Bible tells me that God will give me the desires of my heart, but…” Then they fill in the blank with the “desire” they have and why they question God for not giving it to them. One of the most obvious instances is when I was told, “My desire is for this woman (insert name here) but she’s married. I know God wants me to be happy.”
My head spins at these kinds of statements- knowing there is an absolute lack of understanding of God’s character and His promises in them. The truth is, GOD DOES GIVE US THE DESIRES OF OUR HEART. But, He gives us the desires of our hearts as our hearts conform to His and we seek the things He desires for us. If we are to see this beautiful promise of God in our lives, we need to pursue God and recognize the heart of God for us. This is what is meant by “Delight yourself in the LORD…” It is the prerequisite to receiving.
A great example of having a heart aligned with God’s and thus receiving, is seen in Nehemiah. In summation, Nehemiah has heard that Jerusalem lay in ruins. This broke his heart because his heart was aligned with God’s. Certainly, God does not want His people exposed and left without provision.
As such, Nehemiah takes his life into his own hands and went to the king concerning his desire to rebuild the city. Nehemiah trusted God to be “attentive to his prayers” because he was a man that “revered God’s name.” Which is to say, Nehemiah honored God with a heart that was aligned with God’s heart. When we do as Nehemiah did, we can trust that God will surely give us the desires of our hearts.
I encourage you today, expect God to supply you with what you desire. However, make sure you know the Word and that your desires are aligned with His. Then approach the throne “expecting to receive.”
Prayer: Lord, we ask that You show us Your heart. As Paul said, give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that we might know You. Give us the strength to decline what is not good for us but to pursue, with our whole heart, what pleases you. We thank you because we know that You will, because it is the desire of Your heart, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
DAY 5- Seek Wisdom
Scripture:James 1:5 “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
Proverbs 4:7 “The beginning of wisdom is: acquire wisdom; and with all your acquiring, get understanding.”
Ephesians 1:17 “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.”
Devotional: Proverbs tells us, “… acquire wisdom.” Paul prayed for the Ephesian Church, that they receive “wisdom and revelation.” James instructs the reader, “if you lack wisdom, you should ask God for it…” The Scriptures are replete with verses declaring the need for wisdom. Proverbs chapter 4 declares wisdom a woman that has many benefits but never actually defines it. The commands to acquire, receive, and ask for wisdom force us to ask a question. “What is it?”
James Montgomery Boice, in his commentary on James, states that wisdom is hard to define because it isn’t a single thing but a combination of three qualities; experience, knowledge, and perspective. He continues by discussing why God has superior wisdom; because no one has more experience (as God is eternal), no one has greater knowledge (because God is all-knowing), and no one has greater perspective (because God sits over His creation and observes it as all-present).
God’s wisdom is ALWAYS greater than ours. As such, we should continually seek God’s wisdom. In our trials (as is the context of James 1:5), we need God’s experience, knowledge, and perspective to know how to deal with that trial. And when we ask, according to James 1:5, He will give it to us generously and without reproach. Not just in our trials though. We need wisdom in every area of our lives; we need it in every decision we make if we are to glorify Him.
Let me encourage you this morning. It doesn’t matter what you are facing, God desires to impart His wisdom to you. Take confidence in the fact that there has never been a situation that is unique to God’s experience. There has never been a problem so big that it surpasses God’s knowledge. There has never been a difficulty so overwhelming that it exceeds God’s perspective. Let us be a people that seeks after and acquires true wisdom- the wisdom found in Prov. 4 which will “guard you, watch over you, and exalt you.”
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank you this morning that we don’t have to rely on our own wisdom but that Your Word tells us that when we ask, you are faithful to give us true wisdom. Our prayer today is that you teach us to use the wisdom we have been given to bring glory to You. Teach us to use the wisdom we have been given to benefit those around us so that in their lives, you may be glorified also. We thank you that you will, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
DAY 6- TO BE FILLED WITH POWER AND PURPOSE
Scriptures:Acts 1:8 “but you will receive POWER when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
Ephesians 5:18-19 “… be FILLED with the Spirit; speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.”
Devotional: I want to start today’s devotional by asking a simple question: “Why don’t we walk in the power and the purpose of God?” I believe the answer is simple: we don’t pursue a constant resupply or “refilling” of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives. I often tell people in ministry (although the same is true for all of us) that the reason they feel spiritually empty, burned out, or otherwise complacent about our walk with God is that we allow ourselves to run dry.
Think about something for a moment. Upon salvation, God gives each of us an anointing- a filling of His Holy Spirit. Much like a bucket, the filling we have is used to fill us. It is our supply for a victorious life. If we constantly use that which God has filled us with to get through our day or minister to others, we pour out what we have been given, thus running dry. As we begin to run dry it becomes necessary that we go “back to the well” and be continually filled with the Spirit.
We see evidence of constant “refilling” throughout the book of Acts. Peter was “filled with the Spirit” in Acts 4:8. Acts 13:52 tells us that “the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” If we are to live a victorious life, we must seek a continual filling.
The reason being filled and refilled with the Spirit is so important is because it is by the power of the Holy Spirit, that we are able to fulfill our purpose. In every instance in the book of Acts where the Scriptures discuss being filled or refilled, it was FOR A PURPOSE. God didn’t fill us with His Spirit so that we could sit on our hands. He filled us with His Spirit so that we could be EMPOWERED to witness and work. He gave us His Spirit so that we could avoid the empty, burned out, complacent lifestyle of those who don’t constantly seek Him. Are you seeking His constant refreshing? Are you fulfilling your purpose?
Prayer: Heavenly Father we come to You thankful that you have given us Your Holy Spirit. We know that it is only by Your Spirit that we can be “more than conquerors” in this life. It is only because of Your Spirit we have the ability to live righteously. It is only because of Your Spirit we have the power to witness and work. We thank You and only ask that You continually refresh and refill us so that we may be able to fulfill our ultimate purpose- to give You glory. It is in the name of Your Son Jesus we pray. Amen.
DAY 7- Sunday Morning
Good Sunday morning. There will be no devotional reading on Sunday mornings. I would ask that you be faithful to your church (there are people from several different churches receiving this devotional) and meditate on the message delivered by your Pastor. I am looking forward to sending you your devotional reading again tomorrow. Have a great day of worship. I am praying that God reveals Himself to you in a mighty way.
DAY 8- To Increase the Fruit of the Spirit
Scriptures: Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
John 15:4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in me.”
Devotional: There are two natures common to man; the sinful nature and the Holy Spirit. Not surprisingly, one is opposed to the other. The sinful nature is the nature submitted to the “deeds of the flesh” (Gal, 5:19). The spiritual nature is submitted to the Holy Spirit and produces righteous fruit according to what we see listed in Galatians 5:22-23.
It isn’t enough for us to know what the “fruits of the Spirit” are. We must, as indicated by Scripture, grow in our personal production of these fruits. Paul gives clear indication as to how this is done in the next verse. Galatians 5:24 states, “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have CRUCIFIED THE FLESH with its passions and desires.” We must daily crucify our flesh and “cut out” those things within us that don’t resemble Christ-likeness. We are to cut out or “fleshly desires” as listed in Galatians 5:19-21.
I know I am bouncing all over this Galatians text, but it is necessary that we also understand that it isn’t by our own strength that we “crucify the flesh,” If we tried to do it alone, under our own strength, we would fail and quickly become discouraged. With that in mind, go with me to Galatians 5:16 where we see the original command, “But I say, WALK BY THE SPIRIT, and you WILL NOT carry out the desires of the flesh.”
To “WALK BY” the Spirit means to live a life of habitual submission to the Holy Spirit of God. How do we live a life of habitual submission to the Holy Spirit? Most significantly we must realize that we have to abide. We must stay in the constant rested, reassured presence of Jesus. I read an illustration some time ago that asked, “Suppose we were to ask a branch on a grapevine, ‘How do you grow luscious fruit?’ If the branch could talk, it would probably say, ‘I don’t know. I don’t grow any of it; I just bear it. If you cut me away from this vine, I will just wither away and become useless.’” Very simply, we just have to stay in the presence of Jesus. When we do, seeking His face and will through prayer, meditation, and by reading the Word, our Spiritual Fruit will increase.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your Word; that You have given us clear direction about what it takes to walk according to Your will, according to Your purpose, and according to Your Spirit. The “deeds of the flesh” pull hard but we thank You that Your Spirit within us is stronger. Will You strengthen us today to set aside our fleshly desires and grow the fruit that pleases You and draws others to You? We thank You in advance because we know You are faithful. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.