Sometimes we do not always want to do the right thing. We don’t desire to do the right thing. We desire something else. Or we might desire to do something, but we don’t have the power to do it.
The Bible promises that God is working in us. Because God is working in us, He is giving us “the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” We aren’t alone in this. Maybe today you are not feeling a great desire to do something. Pray for God to continue moving in you to give you the desire. Maybe you feel powerless. Be reminded that the Spirit of God is within you. Pray for less of you and more of Him, so that you can do what pleases God. May you have the desire and power to do what pleases Him.
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” – Philippians 2:13 [NLT]
I love reading Nehemiah 8, and picturing all of the people gathered to listen to the Word of God. I find myself sometimes grieving over what I see around me. There are so many people who are not looking to hear God’s Word. Rather than attending church with ears to hear the Word, people often have ears closed. Many times I see people scrolling along on their phones or I see people with roaming eyes. I have even heard people having full on conversations during the message.
As Ezra read the Word of God to the people who assembled, they stood around hoping to understand. They continued to listen as “he read it aloud from daybreak till noon.” They “listened attentively to the Book of the Law.” When they heard what God’s Word said, they “lifted their hands,” and they “bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces on the ground.” The passion, the desire, the love for God’s Word is simply beautiful. I have seen this before. I have felt this many times. It is my prayer that you have this constant passion, this ever-present desire, this unending thirst for God’s Word.
We are so very blessed to have God’s Word within reach. There was a time when there were only scrolls, and not many were accessible to all. People would gather to hear. We now have shelves with various translations. What a difference!?! But the passion they had for the Word when it was not so accessible often times seems to be greater than anything I’ve ever seen. Have you wept over God’s Word? Have you sought it out with great desire? Have you clung to His Word? Have you found yourself spending the day meditating and chewing on His Truth? Today, ask the Spirit to light a fire in you so you regain passion for His Word.
“So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law…Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, ‘Amen! Amen!’ Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” -Nehemiah 8:2-3, 5-6 [NIV]
In Mark 7, we read the story of Jesus healing the deaf and mute man. In verse 33, it says Jesus took the man aside and put His fingers into the man’s ears. Then He spit and touched the man’s tongue. After this, Jesus looked up to heaven and He says, “Ephphatha” which means open. But before the word was spoken, after the touching of the tongue, Jesus looked up to heaven and sighed.
Often we find ourselves overwhelmed, tired, in need of a break, etc. and we let out a sigh. Sometimes we remember something difficult or we find ourselves in a tough situation and we sigh. Sometimes we mess up and let out a sigh. Often before I head up front to preach, I sigh. I sigh and pray for my words to be His Word. I sigh and ask that all of the world, all of the day’s baggage, all of the “everything that is not of God” is booted far away.
Jesus sighed. We read of Him sighing in Mark 8:12, a deep groan because the Pharisees wanted a sign. The word used is “anastenaxas.” In Mark 7, the word used is different. The word is “stenazó” and it is a sigh expressing grief, anger, or desire. It can be intensely pleasant or anguishing. As we look at the steps of this healing, we can consider the ears and eyes—both created by God Himself. Jesus, the Son of God, stood before this sinner in need of restoration, sighed at the state of the man, looked up to heaven, the source of every good thing, where He rules and reigns, and said, “Be open.” Imagine Jesus face to face with you right now, reaching out, sighing and saying, “Be healed my child.” There is no need for brokenness, no need for separation. Allow Him to heal you. Allow Him to open your ears. Allow Him to loosen your tongue.
“And looking up to heaven, He sighed and said to Him, ‘Ephphatha,’ that is, ‘Be opened.’” – Mark 7:34
Exiting the Cave Basic Review of 1 Kings 17-18 Main Passage 1 Kings 19
- There’s a great and strong wind.
- There’s an
- There’s a fire.
- There is the sound of a low whisper – a still small voice.
How do you recognize God’s presence? Desire the Presence of God “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” – James 4:8 [ESV] “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and He with Me.” – Revelation 3:20 [ESV] Desire to Know God To recognize God, you should know Who He is “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” – Hosea 6:6 [ESV] God wants you to know Him and to love Him – that’s a RELATIONSHIP Desire Leads to Readiness “Be still, and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10a [ESV] You cannot predict how God will be present from past experiences. Each moment is we should be ready for Him with great expectation but not by placing Him in some prepackaged box. If you box Him in, you’ll miss Him. Desire More of Him & Less of You “Why climb the mountains or go down into the valleys of the world looking for Him Who dwells within us?” – Augustine If you believe in Jesus Christ and are baptized and receive the Holy Spirit it means that God dwells within. That means the Spirit of God dwells within you. You don’t have to ask for the Holy Spirit once you have obtained – you simply ask “More of You, less of me.” Each day. Every day. Listen. The Holy Spirit will help you, comfort you, remind you, teach you, empower you, assure you, strengthen you….
Circumstances change. Situations are not always the same. There are moments in life when you may be “on top of the world.” There are also moments when you are at your lowest point. But in any circumstance, in any situation, at any point in life, you can be content. It does not matter where you are at or who you are with or your circumstances. Paul said that he was content in any situation.
I know people who are never happy. They can only list the negatives in their life, yet if I examine their situation I find many blessings I could list. For some reason or another, some people feel dissatisfied, unhappy, broken, or lacking. For me it is hard to understand. I have grown to understand this same contentment as Paul mentions. Life is really different when you can be content in all situations.
Today I challenge you to look around and thank God for your blessings. Did you have at least one meal today? Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have a job? Do you have family? Think of what you have—look at the blessings around you. When you focus on them and thank God for them, you aren’t living with your eyes fixed on your lack. If you can look at the situations that come your way in a positive light, you’ll discover this contentment that is only possible through Christ.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” – Philippians 4:12 [NIV]
Here’s a sermon / devotion outline for Genesis 19. You can download the outline below.
Don’t Look Back
“We are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the LORD that the LORD has sent us to destroy it” (v. 13 NASB).
LOT HESITATED – v. 15 – so the men seized his hand and the hands of his wife and daughters. FOR THE COMPASSION OF THE LORD WAS UPON HIM.
When they were outside city, “Escape for your life. DO NOT LOOK BEHIND YOU and do not stay anywhere in the valley” (v. 17 NASB).
“BUT HIS WIFE, FROM BEHIND HIM, LOOKED BACK, AND SHE BECAME A PILLAR OF SALT” (v. 26 NASB).
Lot’s daughters – got dad drunk – got pregnant – Moab and Ben-Ammi — Moabites and Ammonites.
You can take Lot’s daughters out of Sodom but you couldn’t take Sodom out of Lot’s daughters.
- Remember what the Lord has said and done in your life – journal, remind yourself when you need reminding. Ex: Passover Meal – reminder of Exodus and God seeing His people out of Egypt. “Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually. Remember His wonders which He has done, His marvels and the judgments uttered by His mouth.” – Psalm 105:4-5 [NIV].
- Don’t look back desiring your old life. Lot’s wife looked back because she didn’t want to let go of what was back there. Isaiah 43:18-19 says “Forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland” (NLT). Philippians 3:13-14 “Brothers and sisters, I myself don’t think I’ve reached it, but I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus” (CEB).
- Seek the Holy Spirit to help you in your weakness and to help you pray (Romans 8:26) and to live your new life in Christ (Romans 8:11).
- Keep yourself in God’s Word and remember to focus on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good repute, excellent, worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8)
- Belt of Truth
- Breastplate of Righteousness
Giving Max a bath can be quite the ordeal. Since he’s a larger dog, it’s not so easy to get him into the bath tub. Plus he is not fond of getting a bath and I am not fond of cleaning all of the hair out of the tub when he finally decides to comply with his mom’s request. Every so often I take him to the dog wash, which is a dog bath at the local car wash.
Max never wants to go up the ramp to the bathing area. Although it is the good path to take, he does not want what will follow. He loves to be clean. He loves to have his hair blown dry. But he detests the bath itself. When the bath is over, I have to stand beside him when he gets put back on his leash for he wants to hop out of the bathing area rather than taking the ramp down to the ground. Today I got soaked because he rammed into me as I blocked the dangerous attempt
Many times God will try to lead us down a particular path in life. Sometimes it does not appear so great and sometimes the path brings about trials and obstacles we do not desire. However, God has a perfect plan and His direction will help us to get to where we are meant to be in life. There are moments when He opens doors for us to enter but we hesitate because we fear, we doubt, or we think we know better. There are also moments when we try to go another way, a way that might lead toward something not in our best interest. At times He will block it to keep us safe and at times He will allow us to take the other way to help us to grow closer to Him. It is as if He says, “You want it. Okay, I’ll give it to you.” Oh the lessons He has taught me by giving me what I wanted. I soon realized I no longer wanted what I wanted—I wanted instead what He wanted. Today, if God is leading you down a particular path, if God has opened a door for you to enter, I pray you have the trust to follow. Following His direction is always the best way.
“Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes;
I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.
She will chase after her lovers but not catch them;
she will look for them but not find them.
Then she will say,
‘I will go back to my husband as at first,
for then I was better off than now.’
She has not acknowledged that I was the one
who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil,
who lavished on her the silver and gold—
which they used for Baal.” – Hosea 2:6-8 [NIV]
“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” – Psalm 16:11 [NLT]