Jesus said, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” It doesn’t get more practical than that! When you see sin coming—duck! When you sense temptation, go the other way. Pay attention! You know your weaknesses. You also know the situations where your weaknesses are most vulnerable. Stay out of those situations. Late hours. Movies. Internet. Social media. Whatever gives Satan a foothold in your life, stay away from it. Watch out!
And pray! Prayer invites God to walk the shadowy pathways with us. To watch ahead for falling trees and tumbling boulders; to bring up the rear, guarding our backside from the poison darts of the devil.
Watch and pray! Good advice. Let’s take it! It could be the difference between a peaceful day on the lake and a stick of dynamite blowing up in our faces!
Now may the God of peace—who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.— Hebrews 13:20-21
This verse includes two significant results of Christ’s death and resurrection. God works in us to make us the kind of people that would please him, and he equips us to do the kind of work that would please him.
Let God change you from within and then use you to help others.
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.—Isaiah 40:31
To wait on the Lord is to rest in the confident assurance that, regardless of the details or difficulties we face in this life, God never leaves us without a sure defense. As Moses told the panicky Israelite’s trapped at the Red Sea by Pharaoh’s army, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14). The heavenly perspective comes as we focus not on the trouble but on the Lord and His Word. When it seems God has painted us into a corner, we have an opportunity to set aside our human viewpoint and wait upon the Lord to show us His power, His purpose, and His salvation.
When we don’t choose to wait on the Lord, we solicit trouble for ourselves. Remember how Abraham and Sarah did not wait on the Lord for their child of promise; rather, Sarah offered her maid, Hagar, to Abraham in order to have a child through her. The account in Genesis 16 and 18 shows that their impatience led to no end of trouble. Any time we fail to wait on the Lord and take matters into our own hands—even when we’re trying to bring about something God wants—it leads to problems. When we “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33, ESV), we can allow God to work out the rest of the details.
The command to wait on the Lord means that we are to be near Him and attentive so that we may catch the slightest intimation of what He wants for us. We naturally think of ourselves as self-sufficient. We turn here and there and expect help from our own ability, from friends, or from circumstances. But in the spiritual life we are taught to distrust self and depend upon the power of the Holy Spirit.
Waiting on the Lord involves the confident expectation of a positive result in which we place a great hope—a hope that can only be realized by the actions of God. This expectation must be based on knowledge and trust, or we simply won’t wait. Those who do not know the Lord will not wait on Him; neither will those who fail to trust Him. We must be confident of who God is and what He is capable of doing. Those who wait on the Lord do not lose heart in their prayers: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14).
Waiting on the Lord renews our strength (Isaiah 40:31). Prayer and Bible study and meditating upon God’s Word are essential. To wait on the Lord we need a heart responsive to the Word of God, a focus on the things of heaven, and a patience rooted in faith.
Most people think that when they die, they are going to heaven. If you asked why, the majority would say they have been good people or their positive deeds outweigh any negative things they’ve done. Yet the sad reality is, most people will not find themselves in heaven—and that includes some who claim to be Christians.
It may not be a popular topic of conversation, but our Savior knew that hell was essential to understand. He uses illustrations of contrasting gates, trees, and houses to point out that there are only two possible destinies after death: heaven and hell. Jesus is warning us about a most sobering reality—that not everyone who calls Him “Lord” actually belongs to Him (Matt. 7:21-23).
What, then, distinguishes a true follower? John 14:15 tells us those who love the Savior will keep His commandments. This obedience begins with believing Jesus is the Son of God (John 3:36). In other words, the first step is to humble ourselves before God, admitting that we’re sinful and deserving of condemnation. Next, we must call out to Him, requesting the forgiveness for which His Son’s blood was shed on our behalf. From then on, we’re to live only for God.
If you hear the gospel but stop short of obedience, ask yourself, Do I fully understand the goodness of God’s love? That should inspire you to obey the Father. Looking good on the outside isn’t enough to enter the kingdom of heaven. Remember, to those who truly receive Him, He will give “the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Won’t you make sure you’re among those destined for heaven?
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.—Gal 5:24
As you start your weekend, ask yourself, “Do I belong to Jesus?” If your answer is yes then it’s important to set aside those worldly desires and fleshly passions.
I know personally that the flesh and it’s desires are a big stumbling block for all of us desiring to follow Jesus. There is hope for us in the Holy Spirit. Let Him lead you through your weekend and then on Monday you can look back and say to our Lord, “Thank you for the power of your Holy Spirit and helping me walk in your way.”
Satan loses again and your faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord, continues to grow. Blessings to you this weekend.
Are you satisfied with your prayer life? I don’t know too many people who would answer yes to that question, because most of us know that we fall short in this discipline. Even the most mature believers recognize their need for improvement, and one of the best methods for doing that is examining scriptural prayers and using them as a model.
Several of Paul’s prayers are recorded in his epistles, and they supply wonderful insights about different ways to pray. In today’s passage, we see two foundations for prayer.
A Humble Attitude. Paul’s physical posture of bending his knees served as a reminder of his submissive position before the heavenly Father. He knew there was nothing in himself that would cause the Lord to hear and respond. He had access to the throne of God only through his relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul did not make himself the center of the conversation but focused on the Lord and the church for whom he was interceding.
A Focus on God. The foundation of Paul’s prayer life was the Trinity. The apostle understood that God the Father adopts all believers worldwide into His family for eternity; that there are glorious riches found in God the Son; and that God the Holy Spirit has limitless power. The requests Paul made for the Ephesians were based on almighty God’s matchless abilities, resources, and power.
Although we can confidently approach the Lord’s throne of grace, we must always remember that we are but humble servants, and He is our exalted God.
(Reprint | Charles Stanley | In Touch)
Personal ambition and servant-hood aren’t always compatible. In fact, they are often at odds with each other. A servant’s goal is to please his or her master in whatever way is required, but personal ambition strives for self-advancement. Jesus’ words from today’s passage must have sounded foreign to the disciples’ ears since, according to the thinking of their culture, greatness was acquired by striving for it, not by serving.
Like them, we live in a world where many people are seeking to make a name for themselves. They set goals, make plans, and do whatever is necessary to achieve what they’ve set out to do. But as Christians, we’re to live by a different standard: exalt Christ, obey His commands, and serve Him faithfully by doing His will, not our own.
We’re not called to gain fame and fortune by leaving our footprints in concrete for all to admire. Our task is to humbly follow in Jesus’ footsteps. Whether our lives have a large or small impact is up to God, not us. The greatest acts of service are not usually flashy displays; more often they’re commonplace gestures like being kind to strangers, ministering to fellow believers, and praying for others.
Jesus humbled Himself, surrendered His rights, and obeyed God even to the point of death on the cross (Phil. 2:5-8). Being His servant begins with the same attitude. It requires helping others when it’s not convenient, doing tasks that are not glamorous, and obeying the Lord even if it’s costly. We aren’t on earth to build our own kingdom but to faithfully serve God as He builds His.