26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
More Than Conquerors
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Read Romans 8:26-39.
Not only does God give us His Son into life at Christmas and into death at Easter. Not only does He give us His Spirit unto life, He gives us everything else we need for this life. Apostle Peter says it this way: His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.(2 Peter 1:3). God + you = enough; Praise on through it.
• In Christ, God is for me – for us! Nothing can stand against us. Thank you Jesus!
Father God, thank You for being ‘for me’ and not against me. Thank You for not sparing Your Son Jesus but giving Him up for us all — for me. Thank You for, along with Jesus, graciously giving us all that we need for the abundant life you have in mind for us. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
Read John 4:19-26.
Can you see God’s mission in the words of Jesus in John 4:23? These words have their own intended meaning which we are not at liberty to change. That said, how might “worship in spirit” happen, and how does “worship in truth” occur?
Considering the idea from the opposite direction, what might erroneous or improper worship look like? Use your prayer time to listen in your mind and soul, asking God to teach you about such worship. Write down bible verses that come to mind and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you to rightly apply His Word to this mission of God for you and others.
[Pray about what God has put upon your heart.]
When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
We are not praying to impress men, nor do we need to sneak off to a closet and kneel amid high-heeled shoes and belts. The idea is to connect with God minus the competing awareness that others may be watching. Not being seen by others, we are not divided in self-conscious thoughts. By the way, this does not abolish praying in front of others. Jesus did so himself – and encourages his disciples to pray together as well. What it means is to keep your motives singular and godly.
Lord, let me humbly pray to you. I know that you are watching me and that you reward those who seek after you.
Job said: I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, “Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?” Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, “Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.” My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.
While this is a prayer from Job, it is not a one of request or supplication, but of admission or recognition -- a prayer of repentance. It’s a response to God’s Word in Job’s world; he was humbled, something we can all use. Let’s use his story to reflect on our own story, re-centering on God.
Like Job, have you spoken of things you do not understand? Have you been critical of God’s ways despite a lack of knowledge of how He works?
Like Job, admit that you have been critical of God’s way of handling situations in your life. If you want greater insight of how little you know of God’s ways, read Job 38-41 (and Job’s final comments in chapters 27-31, 42)
Adapt and adopt Job’s final words for yourself
I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, “Who obscures my plans without knowledge?”
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
Like Job having to listen to You question him, I don’t know how I would hold up under questioning by You God. Let my ears truly hear You and my eyes rightly see You that I might genuinely humble
myself and sincerely repent in dust and ashes (adapted Job 42:1-6).
The Lord Rejects Saul as King
1 Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord. 2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. 3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”
4 So Saul summoned the men and mustered them at Telaim—two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand from Judah. 5 Saul went to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the ravine. 6 Then he said to the Kenites, “Go away, leave the Amalekites so that I do not destroy you along with them; for you showed kindness to all the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites moved away from the Amalekites.
7 Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt. 8 He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. 9 But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.
10 Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the Lord all that night.
12 Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.”
13 When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.”
14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?”
15 Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”
16 “Enough!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.”
“Tell me,” Saul replied.
17 Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?”
20 “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.”
22 But Samuel replied:
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has rejected you as king.”
24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them. 25 Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord.”
26 But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel!”
27 As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. 28 Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you. 29 He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.”
30 Saul replied, “I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.” 31 So Samuel went back with Saul, and Saul worshiped the Lord.
32 Then Samuel said, “Bring me Agag king of the Amalekites.”
Agag came to him in chains. And he thought, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.”
33 But Samuel said,
“As your sword has made women childless,
so will your mother be childless among women.”
And Samuel put Agag to death before the Lord at Gilgal.
34 Then Samuel left for Ramah, but Saul went up to his home in Gibeah of Saul. 35 Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him. And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.
Read 1 Samuel 15: King Saul practiced selective obedience. He basically followed what God asked. He was mostly obedient. Surely he was close enough to compliance. The shock to most people is that God indeed expects exact and complete obedience. Anything else on our part is prideful: We are reasoning that we know better.
p.54, The Prideful Soul’s Guide to Humility, Fontenot/Jones
Father God, O how my sinful nature wants a say in defining an acceptable level of obedience. Remind me to, as Jesus said, deny myself, pick up my cross, and follow Him.
What activity defines the primary purpose of the church? The functions of the church have been variously defined as teaching, fellowship, outreach and worship (see Acts 2:42-47). Of these important functions, honoring God through worship is [one of] the church’s primary purpose[s], because it is our eternal vocation
(Discipleship Essentials, Ogden, p. 54).
Father God, teach me how to worship with all of who I am. Teach me when to worship – at all times, whatever I am doing, in word and deed. Teach me where to worship – making my location a sacred space as I live for You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Letter to the Exiles in Babylon
1 This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 (This was after King Jehoiachin and the queen mother, the court officials and the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the skilled workers and the artisans had gone into exile from Jerusalem.) 3 He entrusted the letter to Elasah son of Shaphan and to Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. It said:
4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” 8 Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.
10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
Our story contains the oft-quoted verse from Jeremiah about God’s plans for you.
For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Today you get to see it in context. It was a ‘rough row to hoe’ for the recipients of this letter from God’s prophet. These people were hoping for a few brief years of exile followed by a glorious return to Jerusalem.
In fact, some false prophets were suggesting as much to them. But God had other plans – and let’s Jeremiah deliver the message. There were still blessings to be had, but it would require them to heed God’s message – and practice obedience over the next 70 years. Check out the story, envision yourself as one of the exiles, and ponder how you would have reacted to this letter.
Engage God in conversation about any dissatisfaction regarding the circumstances of your current life, about your level of obedience, and about poor behaviors you excuse when things don’t go ‘your way’.
To Timothy my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Who are you raising “in the faith”? To whom are you being a blessing to spiritually, like Paul to Timothy? Who’s raising you?
Grace and peace are mine in abundance!
Thank you Jesus! Thank you Father!. Thank You Spirit!
Amen! I praise and worship You! Amen.
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