Revisit a 2013 devotional by Pastor Michael Ross-Watson and glean from his wisdom, the STRENGTH to weather tough times.
This morning I was impacted by the words of Jesus to Peter, “And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren” [Luke 22:31-32]
Going through a tough time is not easy but there are some wonderful fruit that develop in these times.
God is with us in these times and is working for our good. Literally, “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those and are called according to His purpose” [Romans 8:28]. He makes no mistakes and is working in us a deeper work of His grace. Nothing can happen to me that God does not know about or will be to my harm. When we are walking in intimacy with God even Satan cannot touch us without God’s permission. Right now God is good and will not allow anything to harm me.
God is with us in these times to transform our character. To a great extent, despite God’s call on Peter’s life and the revelations that God had given him, he was still very self-confident and proud. From such an attitude he could say, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and death” [Luke 22:33], “I will never stumble” [Matthew 26:33], and “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” [Matthew 26:35]. Through the sifting that would take place Peter would be transformed.
Look at every character in the Bible whom God used and you will see God shaping them through pain, rejection and deep trials.
Job’s testimony was, “When He has tried me I shall come forth as gold” [Job 23:10]. Right now God is purifying me and making me more like His Son.
God is with us in these times and Jesus is praying for us. Jesus said to Peter, “I have prayed for you.” Similarly Jesus, as the Great High Priest, “always lives to make intercession” for us [Hebrews 7:25]. Elsewhere is called our Advocate [1 John 2:1] who stands before the Father on our behalf. Even the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us when we don’t know how to pray for ourselves. He is praying that our faith will not fail and that we might be strengthened. Right now all of heaven is on my side and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are interceding for me.
God is with us in these times to prepare us to be a blessing to others. Jesus knew that Peter would come through this trial and when he did so it would be a different Peter who had been commissioned to strengthen his brethren [Luke 22:32]. Whatever the end of the trial may be it will result in others being blessed and strengthened, as well as us being purified and transformed more into the likeness of Jesus.
Before his ordeal Job heard of God, knew the truth, sought to live righteously and honour God’s laws, but after the trial he said, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You.” [Job 42:5]
We may not understand why these times come, but God calls us to trust Him in tough times and to believe that He is at work. Let us not allow our enemy to pervert our perception of God’s character our question His loving care. He will never do anything to harm or destroy us, and whatever He does or does not do is in our best interest.
Bible Reading: 2 Timothy 2:1-13
“So you, my son, be strong [constantly strengthened] and empowered in the grace that is [to be found only] in Christ Jesus” [2 Timothy 2:1 Amp. Bible]
Timothy is struggling with fear and feelings of being ashamed of the gospel. Paul is desperate that Timothy should overcome these feelings and commends him to be strong in the grace found in Christ Jesus.
What exactly does Paul mean when he speaks about being strong in the grace found in the Lord Jesus? The Greek Word for “strong” is ‘endunamoo’ meaning “to be empowered,” “to be enabled,” or “to be strengthened inwardly.” This word is in the passive voice and the present tense! Literally, it means to allow God to strengthen you and to do so moment by moment. This kind of strengthening is supernatural and does not depend on your own effort.
Reliance on our own natural strength to achieve spiritual results is doomed to failure.
It is grace that will empower Timothy. Many people trust God for His grace to save them, but sadly then rely upon their own strength and efforts to serve God. We often understand the meaning of amazing grace for salvation but fail to recognise that this same grace is the key to being strengthened and to serve God effectively. Paul writes, “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak” [2 Corinthians 12:9 TEV]. In this verse grace and power are linked together. They are similarly linked together in the Book of Acts. “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them” [Acts 4:33].
Again, Stephen was a man who humbly served at tables, but experienced God’s empowering grace. The Bible says, “Stephen, a man full of God’s grace… performed amazing miracles and signs among the people” [Acts 6:8 NLT].
Grace is God’s divine power. John writes that, “Of Jesus’ fullness we have all received, and grace for grace” [John 1:16]. The phrase, “grace for grace” literally means “the richest abundance of grace.” Grace gives us the fullness of Jesus Christ! What is it that we need when we are struggling? It is grace and God has given us an invitation to come to Him and receive it, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” [Hebrews 4:16]. Are you struggling with weakness and temptation? Come to God’s throne and receive the empowerment of grace. The writer of Hebrews actually said that we need grace in order to serve God acceptably [Hebrews 12:28]!
Why is it so easy to trust God to save us by His grace, and yet so much more difficult to trust Him for grace for strength and grace to serve Him?
Will you accept Paul’s advice to Timothy? Come to God and ask Him to give you the strength that only grace can give you, and thus enable you to stand in the battle.
Taken from Pastor Michael Ross-Watson’s online daily devotional, michaelrosswatson.com.
Bible Reading: Hebrews 12:3-11; Genesis 32:22-32
God as refiner purifies us and as the gardener prunes us, but there is still another picture of God who works in our lives to make us more holy. It is the picture of a father who chastens and disciplines his children.
God is a good Father. He corrects us, and sometimes has to punish us [Hebrews 12:6 NLT]. God’s discipline is always right and good for us because it means that we will share in His holiness.
As a father I realize how important discipline was for my children. It was not easy because I knew it was hurting them and it was painful for me to administer discipline, but without it they would have grown up without boundaries and understanding of right and wrong. No discipline is easy – it is painful. God, as our loving Father, disciplines us so that there will be a harvest of right living for us who have been trained by Him.
Jacob had an experience of God but somehow not much had changed in his life. He was still a selfish man who deceived and cheated others. God waited for nearly twenty-five years to deal with Jacob. We read the account of God dealing with him in Genesis 32:22-32.
On the morning of that day Jacob met with angels. God was preparing him. In the afternoon he had news that his brother Esau was coming to meet him with four hundred men. Jacob was afraid because he had cheated his brother. He decided to try and protect his family and possessions by sending them over to the other side of the river.
Then God came and met Jacob. It was in a place where Jacob was alone. All the props that he had leaned were gone. It was a place of brokenness as he wrestled all night with God, and finally the Lord touched Jacob’s thigh and put it out of its socket. No more running now, and weakness in place of strength! It was a place of desperation as Jacob is now clinging and crying out, “I will not let you go unless you bless me!” Finally, it was a place of honesty. “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he replied. Jacob means cheat. God loved Jacob enough to hurt him and discipline, but a new Jacob had emerged. A new name – Israel! A new vision – he had seen God face to face and He could never be the same!!
1. Some people think of God is a big softy, but He is a loving Father, who disciplines us to make us holy! How do you think God disciplines us today as His children?
2. What principles can you see in the way in which the Lord dealt with Jacob and corrected him?
Taken from Michael Ross-Watson’s PURE: Holiness and Purity in Your Daily Life, available on Amazon.com.
Today we will consider two further basic principles about wealth and riches from the teaching of Paul to Timothy.
Paul teaches that our basic needs are really very few. He says that if we have food and clothing we should be content [verse 8]. The word translated here as clothing, [some versions say “raiment”], is the Greek word ‘skepasma,’ which is only found once in the New Testament. It means “covering” and perhaps included shelter. Perhaps there is a need to simplify our life style. We can actually become so cluttered with things that we forget how to enjoy the basics. The American essayist, Henry David Thoreau wisely commented that, “A man is wealthy in proportion to the number of things he can do without.” Thoreau also said, “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.”
A further principle that Paul teaches is that the desire to be wealthy leads to sin[verse 9-10]. Money in itself is not evil, and having money doesn’t make you a bad person. Used wisely money can be a great blessing, especially in helping others. The issue is a love of money that becomes your motivation and passion. The temptation is to make decisions based on money, rather than seeking God’s will and walking with him. If an eagerness to make money pushes out the consideration of other, more important values, we’re in serious personal and spiritual danger. Many a person has looked back with sadness when, after their pursuit of money, they’ve sacrificed their families, health, and their own higher ideals.
The words that describe the dangers of the pursuit of money are “ruin,” “destruction,” “wandering from the faith” and “pierced themselves with many griefs [“acute mental pangs” – Amplified Bible] [verses 9-10]. The love of money leads to covetousness [Ecclesiastes 5:10], self-reliance and forgetting the Lord [Deuteronomy 8:1-6], selfishness [Ezekiel 16:49,50], and can choke our spiritual life [Luke 8:7,14].
In my own life, there have been times when I have had too much of a liking for money, and I have had to deal with it as one might deal with an idol. The answer for me has been to give it away! We must get rid of anything that hinders our walk with God!
- Why is it dangerous to make decisions in life based purely on finance, and financial gain?
- Read Matthew 6:33. What is the promise that Jesus gives us in this verse, and what is the condition for enjoying that promise?
- Do you agree that we can become so cluttered with things that we forget the basics of life? How can you personally simplify your life-style?
Taken from Pastor Michael Ross-Watson’s Daily Devotional online, michaelrosswatson.com.
As we embark on a new year for our nation, after a remarkable 50th birthday celebration, let us ponder on the significance of opening our hearts to Christ as our only saviour.
Bible Reading: Romans 8:1-39
When a person becomes a Christian the Holy Spirit comes and makes His home in that person. That is the beginning of an amazing journey as we allow the Holy Spirit to have the control of our lives.
One of the most remarkable pictures in Scripture is Paul’s struggle with sin and trying to be holy as recorded in Romans chapter seven. In the following chapter we discover how he experienced victory over sin. What has made the difference between these two chapters? It is the Holy Spirit. Paul only mentioned the Holy Spirit once in chapter seven but in chapter eight the Holy Spirit is mentioned twenty-one times.
People who try to please God by obeying His law will constantly battle with sin and will fail. The one time Paul mentions the Holy Spirit in Romans chapter seven he writes, “…we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” [Romans 7:6]. Here is a major key to living a holy life – to live and walk in the Spirit. Then we will be more than conquerors” [Romans 8:37]
What does it mean, “to serve in the new way of the Spirit?” It means to listen to and obey the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to obey God. Formerly we were “controlled” by our old sinful nature, but now we are to walk in the Spirit. Literally, the Holy Spirit now fills the believer with an internal desire to serve God.
God’s promise is that the Christian who walks in the Spirit will not gratify the desires of the flesh [Galatians 5:16]. The power of the Holy Spirit is available today to turn our eyes away from our own performance and toward Jesus, and in so doing enable us to live victorious and holy lives.
- Do you struggle with sin and have done your best to overcome it but feel that you have failed?
- Would you today ask the Holy Spirit to come and give you the power to live the way that Jesus has called you to live?
Something to Do:
Read Romans chapter 8 and underline or note every time the Holy Spirit is mentioned. Then write down exactly what the passage says about the Holy Spirit.Taken from Pastor Michael Ross-Watson’s PURE series.