Day 21: Look Again and Consecrate

If God so clothes the grass of the field…, will He not much more clothe you…? (Matthew 6:30)

A simple statement of Jesus is always a puzzle to us because we will not be simple. How can we maintain the simplicity of Jesus so that we may understand Him? By receiving His Spirit, recognizing and relying on Him, and obeying Him as He brings us the truth of His Word, life will become amazingly simple. Jesus asks us to consider that “if God so clothes the grass of the field…” how “much more” will He clothe you, if you keep your relationship right with Him? Every time we lose ground in our fellowship with God, it is because we have disrespectfully thought that we knew better than Jesus Christ. We have allowed “the cares of this world” to enter in (Matthew 13:22), while forgetting the “much more” of our heavenly Father.
“Look at the birds of the air…” (Matthew 6:26). Their function is to obey the instincts God placed within them, and God watches over them. Jesus said that if you have the right relationship with Him and will obey His Spirit within you, then God will care for your “feathers” too.

“Consider the lilies of the field…” (Matthew 6:28). They grow where they are planted. Many of us refuse to grow where God plants us. Therefore, we don’t take root anywhere. Jesus said if we would obey the life of God within us, He would look after all other things. Did Jesus Christ lie to us? Are we experiencing the “much more” He promised? If we are not, it is because we are not obeying the life God has given us and have cluttered our minds with confusing thoughts and worries. How much time have we wasted asking God senseless questions while we should be absolutely free to concentrate on our service to Him? Consecration is the act of continually separating myself from everything except that which God has appointed me to do. It is not a one-time experience but an ongoing process. Am I continually separating myself and looking to God every day of my life?

-My Utmost for His Highest

Day 20: Lift Him Up

Scripture Reference: Matthew 5: 13-16

The hymn “Lift Him Up” came to mind and I looked up the lyrics. I am familiar with the first verse:
“How to reach the masses, men of every birth
For an answer, Jesus gave the key:
“And I, If I be lifted up from the earth, 
I’ll draw all men unto Me.”

The fourth verse struck a chord with me.

“Lift Him up by living as a Christian ought, 
Let the world in you the Savior see;
Then men will gladly follow Him who once taught, 
“I’ll draw all men unto Me.”

In our efforts to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we can easily be caught up in trendy strategies, or stress over how to present the message. There isn’t anything wrong with being innovative or making the Gospel relevant, yet we can complicate and compromise the gospel when it is more simply received by our living testimony. 

Living “as a Christian ought” is not living a life of perfection. It is acknowledging your struggles, giving them to God, giving Him glory for victories in your life, receiving His strength, allowing the Holy Spirit to help you to endure hardship, and worshiping God in your service to others. Seeing this will draw others to Christ. 

Jesus describes the disciples as salt of the earth and light of the world. This light isn’t supposed to shine in a room with other light, but “let your light shine before men that they might see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Flashlights aren’t needed in a well lit room or in daylight. Light is only helpful in darkness, and there is plenty darkness in the world today. The world needs to see the light of the gospel in your life. Lift up Jesus by living a life that reflects the power of salvation. 

How have you let the light of the gospel shine in your life? Pray for God to use your testimony and life to glorify Him and draw others to salvation. 

- Sheyonna Watson 

Day 19: Transformed by Beholding

We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image… (2 Corinthians 3:18)

The greatest characteristic a Christian can exhibit is this completely unveiled openness before God, which allows that person’s life to become a mirror for others. When the Spirit fills us, we are transformed, and by beholding God we become mirrors. You can always tell when someone has been beholding the glory of the Lord, because your inner spirit senses that he mirrors the Lord’s own character. Beware of anything that would spot or tarnish that mirror in you. It is almost always something good that will stain it— something good, but not what is best.

The most important rule for us is to concentrate on keeping our lives open to God. Let everything else including work, clothes, and food be set aside. The busyness of things obscures our concentration on God. We must maintain a position of beholding Him, keeping our lives completely spiritual through and through. Let other things come and go as they will; let other people criticize us as they will; but never allow anything to obscure the life that “is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). Never let a hurried lifestyle disturb the relationship of abiding in Him. This is an easy thing to allow, but we must guard against it. The most difficult lesson of the Christian life is learning how to continue “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord….”

-My Utmost for His Highest

Day 18: Called By God

I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me." (Isaiah 6:8)

God did not direct His call to Isaiah— Isaiah overheard God saying, “…who will go for Us?” The call of God is not just for a select few but for everyone. Whether I hear God’s call or not depends on the condition of my ears, and exactly what I hear depends upon my spiritual attitude. “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). That is, few prove that they are the chosen ones. The chosen ones are those who have come into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and have had their spiritual condition changed and their ears opened. Then they hear “the voice of the Lord” continually asking, “…who will go for Us?” However, God doesn’t single out someone and say, “Now, you go.” He did not force His will on Isaiah. Isaiah was in the presence of God, and he overheard the call. His response, performed in complete freedom, could only be to say, “Here am I! Send me.”

Remove the thought from your mind of expecting God to come to force you or to plead with you. When our Lord called His disciples, He did it without irresistible pressure from the outside. The quiet, yet passionate, insistence of His “Follow Me” was spoken to men whose every sense was receptive (Matthew 4:19). If we will allow the Holy Spirit to bring us face to face with God, we too will hear what Isaiah heard— “the voice of the Lord.” In perfect freedom we too will say, “Here am I! Send me.”

-My Utmost For His Highest

Day 17: Righteous Judge and Merciful Savior

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

This passage shows us that we are sinners deserving of judgement, AND we are loved by God. Are you fully convinced of both statements? If we aren't convinced of both, we nullify the work of Christ. When we say we aren't loved, we say we weren't worth dying for. When we think we have it all together, we say that Christ didn't need to die. 

Christ needed to die because of sin. Without the shedding of blood there isn't remission or forgiveness of sin (Hebrews 9:22). We are a mess and sinful. We are aware that we aren't perfect, but are we convinced that we sinful and deserve the consequences of sin? God is a righteous judge, and we are worthy of His judgement because He is holy and we are not.  

Christ needed to die and Christ desired to die. He wanted to give His life for our sins because of His love toward us. God loved us while we were sinners. There isn't anything that you need to do to make yourself presentable or acceptable for this love. You are loved in your sin and in your mess. His mercy endures forever. There is nothing we can do that will separate us from the love of Christ. 

If we aren't convinced of sin, we fall victim to pride. If we aren't convinced of His love, we succumb to low self worth. 

Yes, God is a judge, but He is merciful. 
We are sinners, but redeemed sinners by His love. 

-Sheyonna Watson

Day 16: Vision and Darkness

When the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him. —Genesis 15:12

Whenever God gives a vision to a Christian, it is as if He puts him in “the shadow of His hand” (Isaiah 49:2). The saint’s duty is to be still and listen. There is a “darkness” that comes from too much light— that is the time to listen. The story of Abram and Hagar in Genesis 16 is an excellent example of listening to so-called good advice during a time of darkness, rather than waiting for God to send the light. When God gives you a vision and darkness follows, wait. God will bring the vision He has given you to reality in your life if you will wait on His timing. Never try to help God fulfill His word. Abram went through thirteen years of silence, but in those years all of his self-sufficiency was destroyed. He grew past the point of relying on his own common sense. Those years of silence were a time of discipline, not a period of God’s displeasure. There is never any need to pretend that your life is filled with joy and confidence; just wait upon God and be grounded in Him (see Isaiah 50:10-11).

Do I trust at all in the flesh? Or have I learned to go beyond all confidence in myself and other people of God? Do I trust in books and prayers or other joys in my life? Or have I placed my confidence in God Himself, not in His blessings? “I am Almighty God…”— El-Shaddai, the All-Powerful God (Genesis 17:1). The reason we are all being disciplined is that we will know God is real. As soon as God becomes real to us, people pale by comparison, becoming shadows of reality. Nothing that other saints do or say can ever upset the one who is built on God.

-My Utmost For His Highest

Day 15: Consider Your Reactions to Your Trials

Scripture Reference: Matthew 5:3

When you experience trials, you often catch yourself reevaluating life. If you happen to be rich, you realize that trials can bring you down to poverty. Most of James’s readers were poor and had become even poorer through the persecution leveled against them. But James would not let them be discouraged. He told them that they should rejoice in the fact that they were being exalted. They had been low and were made high! Through poverty, they had developed a humble spirit that would keep their hearts open toward God.

R. W. Dale reminds the poor man of his true position in Christ: “Let him remember that he is a prince, and glory in it. He is a prince on his way to his kingdom, traveling by rough roads, enduring many hardships, suffering from hunger, cold, and weariness, and the people among whom he is traveling do not know anything about his greatness, but he knows; let him glory in his high estate!”

God’s testings have a way of bringing about equality in His family. When testing comes to the poor man, he lets God have His way and rejoices that he possesses spiritual riches that cannot be taken from him. When testing comes to the rich man, he also lets God have His way and rejoices that his riches in Christ cannot wither or fade away.

James’s reference to the wealthy man and the comparative shortness of human life reminds him of the wildflowers that carpeted the hillsides of his native land. They were dazzlingly beautiful for a few weeks in the spring after the rains had come, but their beauty was always short lived. Using poetic language, James describes the blistering heat that followed the rainy season and withered the flowers. The short life of blossoms in Palestine provided a good illustration of the rich man. When the heat of trials separated the wealthy from his wealth, the Christian rich man calculated that he would have had it for only a short time anyway. He knew that he had really lost nothing since Christ was everything to him.

-What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do. Copyright 2015 David C. Cook 

Day 14: The Purpose of the Desert

Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. (Hosea 2:14)

If you have an important message to convey to someone, what is the best means of getting the message through? Have you ever tried to talk with someone who was so busy you could not get him to hear you? Distractions prevent us from giving our undivided attention to the messenger. So too, God has His way of taking us aside to get our undivided attention. For Paul, it was Arabia for three years; for Moses, it was 40 years in the desert; for Joseph, it was 13 years in Egypt; for David, it was many years of fleeing from King Saul.

God knows the stubborn human heart. He knows that if He is to accomplish His deepest work, He must take us into the desert in order to give us the privilege to be used in His Kingdom. In the desert God changes us and removes things that hinder us. He forces us to draw deep upon His grace. The desert is only a season in our life. When He has accomplished what He wants in our lives in the desert, He will bring us out. He has given us a mission to fulfill that can only be fulfilled after we have spent adequate time in preparation in the desert. Fear not the desert, for it is here you will hear God’s voice like never before. It is here you become His bride. It is here you will have the idols of your life removed. It is here you begin to experience the reality of a living God like never before. Someone once said, “God uses enlarged trials to produce enlarged saints so He can put them in enlarged places!”
He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me (2 Samuel 22:20).

-Today God is First by Os Hillman