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DAILY DEVOTIONAL – Thursday, January 22, 2015
We need the character and special strength that only God gives. I have included two versions of the Scripture that is the thought for the day in Gayla C. Carreon’s (Quezon, Philippines) story in The Upper Room, titled “COMPETENCE FROM GOD.”
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY – “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10, NIV)
“When you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on him, he will lift you up and give you honor” (James 4:10, NLT)
Bowing before the Lord means recognizing that our worth comes from God alone. To be humble involves leaning on his power and his guidance, and not going our own independent way. Although we do not deserve God’s favor, he wants to lift us up and give us worth and dignity, despite our human short-comings. (NLT)
To read the rest of the story in The Upper Room, click on the following link: http://devotional.upperroom.org/
Some false teachers had started carrying forged letters of recommendation to authenticate their authority. In no uncertain terms, Paul stated that he needed no such letters. The believers to whom Paul and his companions had preached were enough of a recommendation.
Paul uses powerful imagery from famous Old Testament passages predicting the promised day of new hearts and new beginnings for God’s people (see Jeremiah 31:331; Ezekiel 11:192; Ezekiel 36:263). No human being can take credit for this process of conversion. It is the work of God’s Spirit. We do not become believers by following some manual or using some technique. Our conversion is a result of God’s implanting his Spirit in our heart, giving us new power to live for him.
Paul was not boasting; he gave God the credit for all his accomplishments. While the false teachers boasted of their own power and success, Paul expressed his humility before God. No one can claim to be adequate without God’s help. Mo one is competent to carry out the responsibilities of God’s calling in his or her own strength. Without the Holy Spirit’s enabling, our natural talent can carry us only so far. As Christ’s witnesses, we need the character and special strength that only God gives. (NLT)
2 Corinthians 3:1-5 – Are we beginning again to tell you how good we are? Some people need to bring letters of recommendation with them or ask you to write letters of recommendation for them. But the only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves! Your lives are a letter written in our hearts, and everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. Clearly, you are a letter from Christ prepared by us. It is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on stone, but on human hearts.
We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. It is not that we think we can do anything of lasting value by ourselves. Our only power and success come from God.
For more Helpful Inspirational Material:
STRENGTH, STRENGTHS: https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/strength-strengths/
PROMISES, PROMISE: https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/promises-promise/
ABILITY, ABILITIES,: https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/ability-abilities/
SPIRITUAL GROWTH: https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/spiritual-growth/
TALENTS, TALENT: https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/talents-talent/
ABUNDANCE, ABUNDANT: https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/abundance-abundant/
DEPEND, DEPENDENCE: https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/depend-dependence/
1 God would write his law on their hearts rather than on tablets of stone, as he did the Ten Commandments. In Jeremiah 17:1 their sin was engraved on their hearts so that they wanted above all to disobey. This change seems to describe an experience very much like the new birth, with God taking the initiative. When we turn our life over to God, he, by his Holy Spirit, builds into us the desire to obey him. (NLT)
Jeremiah 31:33 – “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the Lord. “I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
2 “Singleness of heart” indicates a unanimous singleness of purpose. No longer will God’s people seek many gods, they will be content with God. The hard, deaf, immovable heart of stone will be radically transplanted with a tender, receptive, and responsive heart of flesh (see Jeremiah 32:394; Ezekiel 18:315; Ezekiel 36:263). This new life can only be the work of the Holy Spirit. It is God’s work, but we must recognize and turn from our sin. When we do, God will give us new motives, new guidelines, and new purpose. Have you received your new heart? (NLT)
Ezekiel 11:19 – “And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their hearts of stone and give them tender hearts instead. . .”
3 God promised to restore Israel not only physically but spiritually. To accomplish this, God would give them a new heart for following him and put his Spirit within them (see Psalm 51:7-116) to transform them and empower them to do his will. Again the new covenant was promised (Ezekiel 16:61-637; Ezekiel 34:23-258), ultimately to be fulfilled in Christ. No matter how impure your life is right now, God offers you a fresh start. You can have your sins washed away, receive a new heart for God, and have his Spirit within you—if you accept God’s promise. Why try to patch up your old life when you can have a new one? (NLT)
Ezekiel 36:26 – “And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart.”
4 God uses his power to accomplish his purposes through his people. God doesn’t give you power to be all you want to be, but he gives you power to be all he wants you to be. The people of Israel had to learn that trusting God meant radically realigning their purposes and desires with his. God gave them “one heart” toward him. We must develop such singleness of heart and action to love God above anything else. (NLT)
Jeremiah 32:39 – And I will give them one heart and mind to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants.
5 Ezekiel’s solution to the problem of inherited guilt is for each person to have a changed life. This is God’s work in us and not something we can do for ourselves. The Holy Spirit does it (Psalm 51:129). If we renounce our life’s direction of sin and rebellion and turn to God, he will give us a new direction, a new love, and a new power to change. You can begin by faith, trusting in God’s power to change your heart and mind. Then determine to live each day with him in control (Ephesians 4:22-2410).
Ezekiel 18:31 – Put all your rebellion behind you, and get for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel?
6 Because we are born sinners, our natural inclination is to please ourselves rather than God. David followed that inclination when he took another man’s wife. Like David, we must ask God to cleanse us from within, filling our hearts and spirits with new thoughts and desires. Right conduct can come only from a clean heart and spirit. Ask God to create a pure heart and spirit in you. (NLT)
Psalm 51:7-11 – Purify me from sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
7 Although the people had broken their promises and did not deserve anything but punishment, God would not break his promises. If the people turned back to him, he would again forgive them and renew his covenant. This covenant was put into effect when Jesus paid for everyone’s sins by his death on the cross. No one is beyond the reach of God’s forgiveness. Although we don’t deserve anything but punishment for our sins, God’s arms are still outstretched. He will not break his promise to give us salvation and forgiveness if we repent and turn to him. (NLT)
Ezekiel 16:61-63 – “Then you will remember with shame all the evil you have done. I will make your sisters, Samaria and Sodom, to be your daughters, even though they are not part of our covenant. And I will reaffirm my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord. You will remember your sins and cover your mouth in silence and shame when I forgive you of all that you have done, says the Sovereign Lord.”
8 In contrast to the present evil shepherds (leaders) of God’s people, God will send a perfect shepherd, the Messiah (“my servant David”), who will take care of every need his people have and set up a Kingdom of perfect peace and justice. Peace here means more than the absence of conflict. It is contentment, fulfillment, and security. (NLT)
Ezekiel 34:23-25 – “And I will set one shepherd over them, even my servant David. He will feed them and be a shepherd to them. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David will be a prince among my people. I, the Lord, have spoken!
“I will make a covenant of peace with them and drive away the dangerous animals from the land. Then my people will be able to camp safely in the wildest places and sleep in the woods without fear.”
9 Do you ever feel stagnant in your faith, as though you are just going through the motions? Has sin ever driven a wedge between you and God, making him seem distant? David felt this way. He had sinned with Bathsheba and had just been confronted by Nathan the prophet. God wants us to be close to him and to experience his full and complete life. But sin that remains unconfessed makes such intimacy impossible. Confess your sin to God. You may still have to face some earthly consequences, as David did, but God will give back the joy of your relationship with him. (NLT)
Psalm 51:12 – Restore to me again the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.
10 Our old way of life before we believed in Christ is completely in the past. We should put it behind us like old clothes to be thrown away. When we decide to accept Christ’s gift of salvation, it is both a onetime decision, as well as a daily conscious commitment. We are not to be driven by desire and impulse. We must put on the new nature, head in the new direction, and have the new way of thinking that the Holy Spirit gives. (NLT)
Ephesians 4:22-24 – throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception. Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God’s likeness—righteous, holy, and true.
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