Scripture for Today: Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
The first monkey has eyes half closed. The second seems stoic and unmoving, perhaps not hearing. And the third may be speaking something, but hopefully not something evil. See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil is a well-known proverb. The idea is that we are to ignore any evil we come in contact with. Supposedly, ignoring evil keeps one virtuous. Although mass shootings are unfortunately not new, I am hearing the word, “evil” bandied about more freely by the media.
Today’s verse is part of a description of evil, its source and how to stand up against it! Evil comes from the intentional schemes of the devil (verse 11). It is not just an idea or the absence of good. Evil is the plan of Satan and although his strategy may be to use individuals, he himself is the ultimate source. To use anything other than the armor of God will be a losing proposition. It involves struggle but not against flesh and blood. Evil is a spiritual problem that can never be resolved except through God’s intervention.
Am I the only one who believes the world is getting darker and darker? Thankfully, there is ultimate victory over evil through Christ’s sacrifice for sin. And as a believer I am not without resources. Rather than ignore evil, I am to stand firm against it with objective unchangeable truth and righteous living. I am to fight back by spreading the good news of peace with God through Christ. My arsenal is faith, salvation and confidence in God’s Word.
Thank you Lord that through You, evil is overcome.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
We have a saying in our home that my husband uses when faced with a difficult or unpleasant task; ” I’ll just put on my big boy pants!” Although not heard so often, the idea comes from an earlier era. In the 1910’s and 1920’s, wearing long pants was a true rite of passage. Sometime during the teen years, knee pants, knickers or knickerbockers worn as a boy are exchanged for long pants. This signals to others a certain recognized maturity. So to wear big boy pants today is to do the responsible mature thing!
Today’s verse is Paul’s confident assertion that Christ gives him strength. This strength enables him not just to do the responsible mature thing but to find contentment in whatever situation he finds himself. It is Christ’s offered strength that is the secret to Paul’s contentment (verse 12). Not only does God give strength for the task but He also gives a sense of contentment throughout the ordeal. And it is in abiding and connecting ourselves to the Source of strength that we can rise to the occasion and be effective (John 15:5).
I tend to lean on my own resources. There is a certain “can do” attitude that I expect of myself. But to have a contented heart when the going gets tough is truly a gift of strength from the Lord. When I am overwhelmed by circumstances I cannot change, I need His supernatural strength to be settled and peaceful inside. His contentment has nothing to do with whether today was a good day or a bad day. What a beautiful gift His contentment is! Regardless of the difficulty, He makes my heart light.
Scripture for Today: James 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
I love that my Mother-in-Law is nicknamed, “Panda.” I am not sure how this name originated for this petite 95-year-old Chinese woman. But there is one glaring similarity! Pandas eat all the time! They eat 30-45 pounds of bamboo per day. Because the bamboo is low in nutrition and pandas digest a very low percentage of what they eat, they must consume huge quantities. They are constantly eating. And at Panda’s end of life stage, she cannot digest too much at once. So she too seems to constantly nibble!
Today’s verse talks about two ways one can feed on God’s Word. One can merely listen to it and be deceived into thinking that is sufficient. Or one can not only listen to God’s Word but actually apply it and put it into practice. In obeying God’s Word, there is change, growth and good spiritual health. However, merely listening is much easier to do. There can be momentary feel-good reactions to a poetic passage or a challenging story of faith. But it is when we respond to His commands with submission and obedience that we truly grow.
What I have “eaten” of God’s Word over the years is now being put to the test of obedience. Large quantities of head knowledge do not go far enough. The Lord wants me to put into practice what I know He wants of me. And what He wants now is unselfish servanthood for Panda. Listening, reading, memorizing, meditating and communicating God’s truth is important. But He wants more. He calls me to obedience. It may be a hot tea rather than that cup of cold water. But serving Panda is serving Him!
Scripture for Today: Psalm 38:9 “All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.”
Beautiful Venice charms the visitor with its lovely canals and baroque-style buildings. However, there is a back story to the covered bridge above. This is the Bridge of Sighs, built in 1602 to link the Doge Palace to the prison across the canal. Through its narrow windows, prisoners can get a last glimpse of the outside world. It is entirely possible that this sight elicits from the prisoner a deep sigh of remorse and regret.
Today’s verse describes the longing and sighing of David. He is overwhelmed by his sin and guilt (verse 3-4). He describes in detail his anguish both emotional and physical. He knows that God sees his longings and hears his sighs. David prays his emotions, his bridge of sighs taking him directly to his Lord. Even in the middle of his suffering, there is a glimmer of confidence that God will answer him (verse 15). And David ends this psalm with a cry that God come quickly to help him (verse 21).
My sighing comes from fatigue, dashed expectations, and often from frustration at what life is throwing at me. Unlike David, my sighing is not usually over my own sin and guilt, although perhaps it should be!! What a tender heart he had! And perhaps this is why God called David, “a man after his own heart.” (I Sam. 13:14) But despite the reason for my sighs, I can be confident that He hears. He knows and cares. And one day there is promise that sorrow and sighing will flee away (Isaiah 51:11). Nothing will remain to sigh about and all that breath will be transformed to unending praise!
Scripture for Today: Psalm 25:9 “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.”
It has been a very long time since I sailed a boat but I do recognize this fellow’s posture. He is ducking to get out of the way of that boom as he changes tack. He has no one to worry about but himself in changing direction. But had he passengers he would certainly want to warn them as that boom swings over to the other side of the boat. Others would do well to listen to the one steering to avoid getting bonked in the head!
Today’s verse reassures the believer that God does have a plan for how we live our lives. He is available to be our Guide and to teach us His way, which is always the best way! All His ways are loving and faithful (verse 10) even if it seems that He is guiding us into waters that do not look so calm. He is there and He is good. But it is only the humble who can be guided. When we confidently change tack or direction without His counsel (James 4:13-16) we are likely to get ourselves in the way of that boom!
I am definitely in a season of major life changes and it is easy to fear what may be in store. But I am reassured that these new directions are in His control. When I am humbly seeking the Lord and His guidance, I do not have to be surprised by that boom! There will be changes. There always are. And although I may not understanding exactly what He is doing or why, I am reassured by who He is. All His ways are loving and faithful! I can be peaceful as I look ahead knowing that He is completely trustworthy!