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.
Bible Reading: 1 John 3:10-23; 4:7-21
Because God is both perfect and love, perfect love is to be filled with God, but some might ask what exactly that might mean.
In his remarkable book, “The Four Loves,” C.S. Lewis exposes a weakness of the English language. Whereas we have in English the one word, love, there are four distinct words in Greek that are translated into English as love. “Eros” describes physical passionate love with sensual desire and longing. “Phileo” is affectionate regard or friendship and includes a sense of loyalty. “Storge” is that natural affection such as felt by parents for their children.
The fourth word, “Agape,” speaks of true unconditional love. This love is selfless; it gives sacrificially and expects nothing in return. Whether the love given is returned or not, the person continues to love without any regard to self-benefit. This is how God loves us and it is because He first loved us that we love Him and that love flows over to others. It is impossible to love God and not to love our fellow men.
Writing his first epistle, John connects light and love. To love is to walk in the light with no hidden agendas. This love is practical in that it does not shut up its heart when faced with the needs of others. The evidence that a person is a child of God is that they practice righteousness and love others. If we love one another God’s love is perfected in us. Love is the outworking of righteousness. Show me a man who is holy and I will show you a man out of whom flows the love of God to others. This is the work of the Holy Spirit and the more we are filled with the Holy Spirit the more we will love both God and men.
1. Love and Holiness is the same thing. How would you explain this and
what is the impact it has on your own life?
2. How would you describe in your own words unconditional love? As the Holy
Spirit to show you if there is any area of your life where your love is
conditional and not unconditional. If necessary bring it to the Lord in prayer
and ask for His forgiveness.
Something to do:
Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with His love and then ask Him each day to show you how you might express that love to God and to others.
Taken from Pastor Michael Ross-Watson’s PURE series.
Mark the beginning of a brand-new month with a devotional, taken from Pastor Michael Ross-Watson’s online series of Daily Devotionals at michaelrosswatson.com
Bible Reading: Genesis 22:7-14; Philippians 4:19
Abraham was determined to obey God whatever it cost. He built the altar, placed the wood in order, and then bound his son Isaac, and placed him on the altar. God had not provided a lamb as a substitute for Isaac and so Abram took the knife to slay his son. This raises a question – how far are we prepared to go in obedience to God? At the last moment God stepped in and provided a substitute [verse 13]. So often, when it is a matter of obedience and faith, it is at the last moment that God provides. One of the hardest things for us is to wait for God and still believe even though it is the last minute.
Abraham called the name of the place where God provided “Jehovah Jireh” which directly translated means “The Lord will provide”. It is an interesting parallel between the ram offered on the altar as a substitute for Isaac and Christ offered on the cross as a substitute for us. Whereas God stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son, God did not spare His Son, Jesus, from dying on the cross. God provided both a substitute for Isaac and a substitute for us.
There is a tremendous significance for us today in God’s provision for Abraham at Mount Moriah. The text reads, “And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided’” [verse14]. “To this day” means that beyond the time of Abraham God still provides on the mountain. We know that Jerusalem was built on Mount Moriah – “Then Solomon began to build the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah” [2 Chronicles 3:1]. Mount Moriah rises to a plateau on which the temple was built, but then continues to rise to its peak, north of Jerusalem, outside the city wall. The peak of Mount Moriah is shaped like a skull and known as Golgotha – it was where Jesus was crucified.
There has been a tendency to think that Jehovah Jireh relates primarily to God’s provision of finance, but that is only a small part of it’s meaning. God provided everything that we need today at Mount Moriah, known to us as Calvary where Jesus was crucified. At the cross where Jesus died there is forgiveness, cleansing, redemption, healing, peace, and every other form of God’s provision for us. The God who provided for Abraham still provides for us today and at the very same place. No wonder Paul said to the Corinthians, “I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” [1 Corinthians 2:2].
- If you have been praying about a specific need, hang in there and don’t give up. Why do you think it is that God so often seems to provide for us at the very last moment?
- What is your need today? Read Philippians 4:19 and note the word “all”. Will you acknowledge today that every need you have has been paid for at the cross, and then come in humility and ask God to meet your need?
Taken from the writings of Michael Ross-Watson, this piece shows us the importance of having a god-given vision.
Bible reading: Acts 26:1-32
Paul said, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision” [Acts 26:19]. What is your vision?
Wilma Rudolph was a remarkable woman. When she was six months old she was stricken with polio. She would never walk without metal calipers on her legs. Her older sister was a great basketball player who would go on to represent the USA. As the younger sister, Wilma attended her sister’s basketball meets. She herself longed to be a sportswoman. At the age of seven Wilma asked her sister’s coach to help her be a sportswoman. Each time she asked the coach he looked at Wilma’s legs and turned away in embarrassment. Finally she challenged him by saying that if he would give her fifteen minutes of his time every day, then she would give him her first Olympic gold medal. He was amazed at her tenacity and agreed to her request. It wasn’t long before fifteen minutes became a full time commitment. At the age of eleven Wilma took off the metal calipers from her legs and walked unaided but very unsteadily for the first time. At the age of fifteen she ran her first one hundred meters race. She came last, sixty meters behind the winner. In 1960, at the age of twenty-two, Wilma Rudolph was selected to run in the American Olympic trials. She was chosen to run in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. She won gold medals in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 4×100 meters relay, breaking the world record in each event.
Wilma delighted to show people an old black and white video. There she was on the podium receiving her 100 meters gold medal. At the end of the national anthem she ran across the stadium to her coach, took of her gold medal, and put it round her coach’s neck and said, “I promised you this fifteen years ago and today I have kept my promise!”
Asking Wilma what motivated her, she responded by saying, “I had a vision!”
Paul spoke of his journey in terms of a race. At the end of his life he wrote to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race; I have kept the faith [2 Timothy 4:7]. He wrote about running to obtain the prize and being self-controlled so that he might win the heavenly prize [1 Corinthians 9:24-27].
Questions to think about:
- What vision has God given to you, that has become your passion, and that will bring eternal rewards?
- There is an old hymn that says, “Give to me a vision, reaching to Your throne; Let me see life’s problems in Your light alone.” How do the every day issues of your life relate to eternity?
Have you ever felt tempted to give up? A few days ago, after a wonderful day with the Lord, my guard was down and I walked into a volatile and unexpected situation, where I was publicly rebuked and shouted at. The person who did this had neither thought of others nearby who heard the onslaught nor my feelings. Perhaps they got out of bed on the wrong side! Perhaps they themselves were hurting because undoubtedly hurt people hurt people! The whole incident left me with an attitude of wanting to give up on these people! Why should I put myself out for them when they attack me like this? In my heart I even began to blame the whole organisation and not just the individual. It would have been so much better if I had not retaliated and risen in anger to the situation. Was it self-defense? Was my pride hurt? Was my response a fleshly one and not a spiritual response? I think that answer to each of those questions was clearly yes.
It took me a good while to get my spiritual equilibrium back. To apologize and ask forgiveness for my reaction was not difficult but getting over the sense of inner guilt and frustration was far tougher. Why does this sometimes happen, even after seeking to follow Jesus fully for more than fifty years is the deeper question I needed to answer.
Is this experience something that you are familiar with? It took me a couple of days to get over, but once again, as I confessed my sin, the blood of Jesus washed me clean and His peace returned. It’s been quite a while since I had experienced something like this, but I suddenly realized that this is so relevant to the topic of holiness. This is life – we do fall! The Psalmist said that we may stumble….but the Lord upholds us with His hand” (Psalm 37:27)
Don’t give up when you fall and don’t become depressed when you fail. Get up again, get back to the cross and let the blood of Jesus wash you clean. Remember David’s prayer: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me….Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalm 51:10,12).
Excerpt taken from Michael Ross-Watson’s book, Pure: Holiness and Purity in Your Daily Life (Climbing Higher Daily Readings Book 1)