Every person alive is guilty of trying to control things that God says are outside of our control. We’re guilty of plotting outcomes that God says we should not plot. We are guilty of claiming knowledge for things that God says cannot be known. We are guilty for holding on with a ridiculously tight grip to what we think we’re entitled to.
There is a better way. “Give up your life for my sake,” Jesus exhorts us. “That is how to save a life.” (See Matthew 10:39.)
Now if Jesus wasn’t about to put his money where his mouth was, we might blow past his “helpful advice.” But that’s not at all the case. Our Lord was about to carry his own cross to Skull Hill, where he would die the most brutal of deaths.
Matthew 26 is one of those chapters in the Bible that I can’t read without cringing and squinting my eyes. How desperately Jesus wanted out of this deal, and who wouldn’t? To die is one thing. To know you’re about to die—and in the manner Jesus faced—is quite another. We’d be begging God too.
Still, Jesus said, “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Matthew 26:39).
I’m telling you: faithful to the end.
After returning to his friends and rebuking them for having fallen asleep (insert blushing, wide-eyed emoticon here), Jesus pleaded with his Father a second time. “My Father!” he said. “If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done” (v. 42).
A second time, he returned to his men. A second time, he found them asleep.
A third time, Jesus went before his Father. Three times, he begged for relief. Knowing it was a futile request—knowing that this course was set—he went to his disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come” (v. 45).
In this moment we see Jesus modeling for us what he asks us all to do. Sacrifice. Sacrifice, so that this world can be a better place. Sacrifice, in order to find God’s best. Sacrifice, so that God’s grand, redemptive plan can be realized throughout the earth.
Which begs the question, how well are we following suit?
What is God asking you to do that involves sacrificing something for his will, even if it’s not what you would have chosen?
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Matthew 10:39 ESV
From A Greater Story with Sam Collier on Youversion
The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
Zephaniah 3:17 ESV
Prayer is conversation with one who is always there. Prayer allows us access through Jesus Christ into a conversation with God. God is always seeking a conversation with us. God always greatly desires to communicate with us.
My wife and I recently did some redecorating in our upstairs bathroom. We took down some wallpaper, spackled a few holes, and repainted the walls. She purchased some new decorations and pictures. Of course, she wanted me to hang these pictures on the walls, so I went into my garage, reached into my tool bag, pulled out my hammer, and grabbed some nails. I took my hammer and used it to drive in every one of those nails in the exact location where my wife wanted those pictures hung.
When I finished driving the nails, I hung the pictures and headed back into my garage. I opened my tool bag again, placed my hammer back inside. Finished! Right now, my hammer is put away. I know it will be there the next time I need it. That’s using my hammer as the tool for which it was intended.
We might as well admit it. We often use prayer in our lives and in the church as a tool from a tool bag. When we need God to do something, when we need something in ministry, when we desire to have something accomplished, we go to the spiritual tool bag because we know prayer is what we should use. We pick up prayer, we pray the prayer, and then we put prayer back in the bag until we need it again. But prayer is intended to be so much more than this!
So often we use prayer as a vehicle to get us to a desired destination. We need provision, so we pray. We need anointing, so we pray. We need healing, or deliverance, or cleansing, so we pray. But what if prayer is not the vehicle that brings us to our destination, but rather, what if it is the destination? Prayer is not simply a step of the journey, prayer is the journey. When we realize this, we begin to understand prayer as a continual conversation with God and our relationship with God deepens to new levels.
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
1 John 5:14 ESV
From Conversation with God by Brian Sutton on Youversion
Prior to starting any venture, the first thing the believer is to do is pray. If you start something without seeking Godly insight, you run the risk of spending time, money, and resources on an idea doomed to fail. Moreover, your heart will be hardened to the voice of God because your heart has been made sick from your venture’s failure.
When you’re walking in your purpose, it’s literally as if you are walking in supernatural strength and ability. There will be challenges along the way, but when an idea is God-breathed, there is ease in the storm. If you’re in something right now and you’re not quite sure if you’re in alignment with God’s vision, ask the Holy Spirit for clarification and insight. The Holy Spirit is promised to guide, help and comfort you. Ask for His peace in your next steps.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
Proverbs 13:12 ESV
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9 ESV
Gideon had a shadow cast across his life. It left him feeling deflated, worried, and dispirited. For seven years he had lived with an ominous Midianite silhouette settling itself across his soul, causing an outline of discouragement around him.
So one of the primary goals of the angel at the moment of their meeting was to give the soon-to-be judge a swift tug out of the shadows and into the clarifying light of Yahweh’s perspective.
“When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, The Lord is with you, mighty warrior’” (Judg. 6:12, NIV).
“Mighty warrior” in Hebrew is gibbor chayil, also translated as “mighty man of valor” in the King James Version. The terminology is the same used to describe David’s valiant warriors who had executed courageous exploits on behalf of the king (1 Chron. 11:10-25). This label made sense for David’s warriors. They were elite fighters, handpicked to perform special tasks. They were champions. When others wilted under pressure, these men stood their ground, undeterred in support of their new king.
Gideon didn’t have the look of a “mighty man of valor.” Cowering silently in the winepress, Gideon felt and looked like anything other than valiant. Nobody would have described this man with our Hebrew term. But Yahweh’s view was not bound by Gideon’s reality or actions. Gideon may have been under the shadow of Midian, but Yahweh was not. He could see beyond the exterior, calling out of Gideon something that the timid man probably didn’t even realize was in him. Gideon wasn’t a scared farmer. Not really. That’s how he was behaving, but that’s not who he was.
Yahweh’s perspective of us is often so unbelievable, so foreign to our own belief system and conduct that it can be like a bolt of lightning striking our desensitized souls. It jolts us away from the misplaced shadows of our experience into the truth of God’s reality.
The angel had already told Gideon Who was with him, but now he wanted to reveal what was in him. The angel knew that Gideon wouldn’t respond well to the call until his perception of his potential was reformatted. So the angel tugged the would-be hero out of the shadows and into the clear, bright light of Yahweh’s love.
From Gideon by Priscilla Shirer on Youversion
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Matthew 5:9 ESV
Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 EAT
You can never expect to keep an eagle in the forest. You might be able to gather a group of the most beautiful birds around him, provide a perch for him on the tallest pine, or enlist other birds to bring him the choicest of delicacies, but he will reject them all. He will spread his proud wings and, with his eye on an Alpine cliff, soar away to his own ancestral halls of rock, where storms and waterfalls make their natural music. Our soul longs to soar as an eagle and will find rest with nothing short of the Rock of Ages. Its ancestral halls are the halls of heaven, made with the rock of the attributes of God. And the span of its majestic flight is eternity! “Lord, YOU have been our dwelling place throughout all generations” (Ps. 90:1). -
Macduff, J. R. (19th century). Scottish minster and devotional writer
It’s easy to be distracted when you don’t have a sense of purpose.
My hero of faith is Joshua. He came up under Moses and could’ve easily bought into the lie that he could never be as great as him. But it’s almost as if he was more motivated because he witnessed firsthand the wondrous works of God. He was fully convinced of what God could and would do because he witnessed it all through Moses’ walk.
In scripture, we see Joshua have unwavering faith and I believe it’s because he received his instruction straight from God. No time to be distracted when you’re waiting to hear explicit instruction from God.
If you’re battling distraction today, steal away and wait for instruction from God. If you don’t hear anything, go back to the last thing He told you to do and be faithful in that.
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord , the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel.
Joshua 1:1-2 ESV
From Purpose and Progress by Dionne Dean on Youversion