Such a time as this #987

13  And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. 14  For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13–14, NKJV)

We are tempted to think that keeping silent in the face of trouble (when we have the ability and opportunity to speak up and to act in the name of truth and righteousness) is the right thing to do. More times than not, trouble finds us anyway. And so, let us rather trust God to work out His purposes through our obedient faith. By faithfully obeying the Lord, “it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12-13). God providentially fulfills His purposes. Let us be like Esther, and speak up for the innocent and the righteous, also standing against the wicked who try to destroy the people of God. Truth and righteousness will prevail in this world of sin. Victory is assured in Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:57). God’s will is that you stand up for Christ, His truth and His people. “Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Well, God knows. What will you do, knowing this to be true?

The Spirit in Our Life #986

19  Do not quench the Spirit. 20  Do not despise prophecies. 21  Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22  Abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:19–22, NKJV)

The Holy Spirit guided the apostles of Christ into all truth by revealing to them the mind of God and giving to them the inspiration to speak it and write it (Jno. 16:13-15; 1 Cor. 2:10-13; 2 Pet. 1:20-21). We rejoice in the Spirit’s work and His word. We will not stifle the Holy Spirit’s word and work by minimizing the divine blessings we have as a result His work. Neither will we hold God’s prophecies in contempt. We are strengthened by knowing the Spirit’s prophecies are fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Acts 3:22-26). The Spirit expects us to test all things by the word He gave us. Consequently, we can cling to good things and refrain from evil in every form it takes. Christians do not refuse the Spirit and the word He gave us. Instead, we walk in the Spirit, are led by the Spirit and live in the Spirit by letting His word define and direct our lives (Gal. 5:16, 18, 25).

God Blesses His Children #985

Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10  Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:9–11, NKJV)

Fathers desire to fulfill the requests of their children. Indeed, fathers bear a particular responsibility to provide for their own house, and failure to do so is a grievous sin (1 Tim. 5:8). If earthly fathers give good things to their children when they ask, how much more does our heavenly Father do so. Jesus reasons from the lesser to the greater to impress upon us a fundamental truth: Our heavenly Father gives us the “good things” we need when we ask of Him. God hears and answers the prayers of His children, and He does so in ways that are best for us. God not only supplies our daily bread, He also supplies us with every spiritual blessing in Christ, which sustain our spiritual life. In the parallel passage of Luke 11:13, Jesus identifies the “good things” given by the Father as the “Holy Spirit” (whose presence confirmed the kingdom had come, Lk. 11:20; Matt. 12:28). God answers our prayers in harmony with His purposes and for our spiritual good. This is our faith as we pray to our heavenly Father.

Ask, Seek and Knock #984

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew 7:7–8, NKJV)

The Son of God had just assured those who “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” that “all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). Our heavenly Father knows our needs and supplies them according to His will. And so, we must live by faith in Him and not be distracted by the material riches of this world (Matt. 6:25-34). When we ask, seek and knock at the door of our Father’s favor, we know He gives us what is good for us. The trouble comes when we ask, seek and knock according to our own will instead of the will of God. We will not be answered by the Father when we come to Him with selfish, faithless requests and expectations. Genuine faith drives us to ask, seek and knock in harmony with God’s will. With this submissive trust in God, we are sure our Father hears us and answers us in ways that are always good for us (Matt. 7:11).

Forgiving Others and Our Forgiveness #983

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14–15, NKJV)

Jesus applies the principle of sowing and reaping to forgiveness. Just as we reap what we sow, God’s forgiveness of us depends upon our forgiveness of those who sin against us. Here is a fundamental truth to remember: the hypocrite will not be forgiven. In this context, Jesus has been addressing the problem of hypocrisy in one’s spiritual life, and now He returns to it (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16). How hypocritical and futile to think that we have God’s forgiven when we ask Him for it, yet we refuse to give it to others when they ask for ours. If we hold bitterness and resentment in our hearts toward one who asks our forgiveness, instead of freely and immediately forgiving them from our heart, we will not be forgiven by God when we ask Him to forgive us. Allow this truth to sink deep into your heart so that it shapes your readiness to forgive those who sin against you (Col. 3:12-14).

Kingdom, Power and Glory #982

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. (Matthew 6:13, NKJV)

Our prayers should not only be about our needs and desires (Heb. 4:16). They should not only be supplications on behalf of others (1 Tim. 2:1-2). They should also be filled with adoration for our Heavenly Father. Reverent respect and regard for the Almighty ought to be evident in our manner of prayer (Matt. 6:9). Acknowledge the regal, royal, sovereign rule of our Father as we pray. It is precisely because He reigns supreme that we are impressed with His willingness to hear and answer our prayers. His eternal power, announced by His whole creation, assures us of His ability to act on our behalf. His majestic glory humbles us in His presence and impresses us of His love toward us, low as we are in comparison to His majesty (Psa. 8:4). As we pray, let us remember to whom we are addressing our petitions. This will help define our attitude in prayer as well as shape our faith in our Father to “do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20).

Do not lead us into temptation #981

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:13, NKJV)

Jesus is not saying to pray that we are never tempted; Temptations to sin come to us all. James settles the matter once and for all that the devil, not God, is the source of temptations (Jas. 1:13-15). Jesus is teaching us to pray for God’s watchful care so that we will not succumb to temptations (for by so doing, we choose to sin). “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation” was the Lord’s exhortation to the three disciples who slept in Gethsemane; and to us as well (Matt. 26:41). Sadly, we often sleep even as we walk into the midst of temptations, all the while expecting the Lord to miraculously rescue us from spiritual harm. While praying for God’s assured protection and to use the available avenues of escape when temptations come, we must vigilantly watch for the enticements the evil one will set before us (1 Cor. 10:13; 1 Pet. 5:8). God’s deliverance from temptation comes as we watch and pray, resist the allurements of the devil and refuse to sin against God.

“And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Eph. 6:17)