‘We who believe are adopted as sons.’ Galatians 4:5 AMP
The word ‘appointed’ means God has scheduled certain things to take place in your life at certain seasons. Sometimes people have to make lifestyle adjustments to accommodate an unexpected pregnancy—but nobody adopts a child by accident. Think: knowing in advance about all your weaknesses, God chose you anyway. ‘God sent His son that He might redeem those who were under the authority of the Law and lead us into becoming, by adoption, true sons of God.’ (Galatians 4:4–5 PHPS) You never have to wonder whether it’s ok to approach your heavenly Father because He’s always ready to welcome you. Your seat is reserved at the table. ‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.’(Psalm 23:5 NIV) That means obstacles and opposition can’t rob you of God’s blessing. Being ‘chosen and appointed’ is like having a platinum credit card: you get preferential treatment! But that doesn’t give you licence to live however you please. Some of us are like the little boy who prayed, ‘Lord, make me a good boy. But if You can’t, don’t worry—I’m having a great time the way I am!’ No, ‘the Lord disciplines those He loves, and he chastens everyone He accepts as a son.’ (Hebrews 12:6 NIV) And God’s correction isn’t rejection, it’s proof of His love! You’re not chosen and appointed based on your race, virtues, gifts, talents, looks, and intelligence. God chose you because He loves you and has a special plan for your life. And the best part is, He’s going to strengthen and equip you to fulfil it. ‘He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.’ (Philippians 1:6 NIV)
‘I chose you and appointed you.’ John 15:16 NKJV
Jesus said, ‘You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain.’ How you begin a relationship is important. All parties need to feel secure in order for it to go well. For example, when you’re invited to somebody’s home for dinner, it’s reasonable to expect that they’ll fulfil certain social obligations. You shouldn’t have to wonder if you’re welcome, or if there’ll be enough food to go around, or if there’s a place at the table for you. Those are things you might be concerned about if you stopped by uninvited.
Likewise, knowing you’ve been ‘chosen and appointed’ by God gives you confidence. It means you’re accepted; you don’t have to campaign to get elected. If you think walking to a church altar to commit your life to Christ means you chose God, think again! God chose you for two reasons: to bless you, and to make you a blessing to others (see Genesis 12:2). But in the beginning not all His blessings may be things you rejoice about. The Bible speaks of blessings that you won’t have room enough to receive (see Malachi 3:10). Sometimes God’s blessings are so overwhelming that when He starts pouring them out you think, ‘I’m not sure I can handle this.’ And you’d be right—if you had been the one who initiated the relationship! But you didn’t choose God, He chose you. And whomever He calls, He equips. All you need to do is be open and responsive. ‘Give yourselves completely… be tools in the hands of God, to be used for His good purposes.’ (Romans 6:13 TLB)
‘I said, “Here am I. Send me!”’ Isaiah 6:8 NIV
Isaiah writes, ‘Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” He said, “Go…!”’ (Isaiah 6:8–9 NIV) In the preceding Scriptures Isaiah was making all sorts of excuses and telling God why he wasn’t qualified to do the job. But in God’s Kingdom, your calling trumps your credentials every time! And the litmus test isn’t experience or expertise, it’s availability and teachability. If you are willing to go when God gives you the green light, He will take you to inaccessible places and do impossible things. Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Esther, Moses, Samuel, David, and Isaiah all have one thing in common. They all said, ‘Here am I.’
Isn’t it ironic that we spend so much time and energy trying to figure out how to get to where God wants us to go, when all we have to do is simply say, ‘Here am I’? It’s God’s job to get us to where He wants us to go; our job is to make ourselves available. Like a doctor on call or a police officer on duty or a firefighter on shift, it’s our readiness to respond that God is looking for. Sometimes it’s a simple prompting to go out of our way and love our next-door neighbour. Sometimes it’s a calling to move halfway around the world. But it always starts with the little three-word prayer of availability: ‘Here am I.’ That’s what Moses said at the burning bush. That’s what Caleb said when he finally set foot in the Promised Land. And that’s what God wants you to say today.
‘He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so we can do the good things He planned for us.’ Ephesians 2:10 NLT
The Bible says God ‘created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.’ These are devastating times. A billion people are hungry, millions are trafficked in slavery, and pandemic diseases are gouging entire nations. Each year nearly two million children are exploited in the global sex trade. In the few minutes it will take you to read today’s devotional, almost ninety children will die of preventable diseases. More than half of all Africans don’t have access to modern health facilities. As a result, ten million die each year from diarrhoea, acute respiratory illness, malaria and measles. And many of those deaths could be prevented by one injection.
You ask, ‘What can I do about it?’ God answers prayer, so you can pray for those who are suffering. You can give, whether it’s a lot or a little. And you can volunteer. You’re surrounded by great causes in need of people. And here’s why you should get involved: your life is racing by, and if you aren’t careful, one day you’ll look up and your one shot at life will have passed you by. Some people don’t concern themselves with such thoughts. They grind through their days without lifting their eyes to look. They live and die and never ask why. If you want your life to matter, live it in such a way that the world will be glad you did. You were created and redeemed to ‘do the good things He planned for you long ago.’ And when you stand before God, He will ask you how well you carried out your assignment, and reward you accordingly.
‘Memorise His laws and tell them to your children over and over.’ Deuteronomy 6:6–7 CEV
It’s not easy being a Christian parent in a world where peer pressure feels as if it’s crushing down on you like a million tonnes of bricks; where values are at an all-time low and immorality at an all-time high. But with God’s help you can do it! To lead your children to Christ, do these five things:
(1) Begin when they’re young, and read Bible stories to them each night. Let them hear you pray for them to know Jesus personally, constantly thanking Him for dying for their sins.
(2) As you take them to church, explain what the various actions and seasons (Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, Easter, and Christmas) represent, and why they’re observed and celebrated.
(3) Be sensitive to every spiritual question they ask, and take the time to answer their questions in a way they can understand.
(4) Buy them Christian DVDs and cartoons that will present Bible truths on their level.
(5) Trust the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom at the right time to present the Gospel to them, and pray for their salvation continuously. On one occasion Evangelist DL Moody reported ‘two and one-half conversions’ at a service he conducted. Someone said, ‘I suppose you mean two adults and one child.’ ‘No,’ Mr Moody replied. ‘I mean two children and one adult. The children can give their whole lives to God, but an adult has only half a life left to give.’ And remember, the things we learn best are the things we hear most. So: ‘Memorise His laws and tell them to your children over and over.’
‘By the grace of God I am what I am.’ 1 Corinthians 15:10 NIV
We all need good role models. But when you devote your life to being like somebody else, you risk becoming something God doesn’t want you to be. Always remember, your ‘heroes’ wrestle with blind spots and character flaws too. Paul said, ‘I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.’ (1 Corinthians 15:9 NIV) The same thing with Peter: when Cornelius sent for him, we’re told that as he ‘entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”’ (Acts 10:25–26 NIV) If you’re successful in life, you’ll adopt that same attitude. The danger in hero worship comes from forfeiting your individuality and missing the path God has mapped out for you personally.
Some of the lessons God teaches us may be similar, but another person’s purpose, gifting, journey and time-frame will be different from yours. For example, a friend starts a business and makes money, but when you quit your job and follow in his footsteps you go broke. Or a co-worker wears something that looks great on her, but on you the same outfit looks like a sack tied in the middle. God is ‘jealous’ concerning you (see Deuteronomy 4:24). Why? Because He wants to protect you from anything that would rob you of your uniqueness, or threaten your relationship with Him. Bottom line: if you want to be on safe ground, make Jesus your role model and you’ll win every time.
‘We have this treasure in earthen vessels.’ 2 Corinthians 4:7 NKJV
Christians aren’t perfect! Here’s why:
(1) Because they’re human. Yet with full knowledge of our highest potential and our lowest inclinations, God loves us unconditionally. The Bible says, ‘We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.’ And guess what? Every time you meet treasure, you bump into the earthen vessel. An earthen vessel is just a clay pot, and when it’s cracked—it’s a cracked pot! That shouldn’t discourage you; it should give you hope and cause you to say, ‘If God can use that old cracked pot, He can use me too!’
(2) Because they’re spiritually depleted. The saying goes, ‘When your outgoing exceeds your income, your upkeep becomes your downfall.’ It happens to the best-intentioned among us. In the Old Testament a prophet told a story to the king of a soldier who was commanded to deliver a prisoner to a certain destination. His orders were clear: ‘Lose the prisoner and you’ll lose your life.’ The soldier lost his prisoner. ‘While your servant was busy here and there, he was gone.’ (1 Kings 20:40 NKJV) The king, in pronouncing judgment on the soldier in the story, pronounced it on himself. So pay attention to your spiritual life and don’t let it get depleted.
(3) Because they’re asleep spiritually. It was while Samson slept that Delilah shaved the locks of power off his head and delivered him to his enemies. And it was while the servants slept that an enemy sowed tares (weeds) among the wheat crop. Two things you must stay alert to are—sin and righteousness. ‘Awake to righteousness, and do not sin.’ (1 Corinthians 15:34 NKJV)
‘Stay with the ship [or] you cannot be saved.’ Acts 27:31 NIV
Every church has problems—and the people who cause them. It has always been so. Consider the Corinthian church. Some members got drunk during communion, and others formed exclusive clubs to support their favourite preacher! One guy was even having an affair with his stepmother (see 1 Corinthians 5:1).
Sitting beside you on Sunday mornings are some very messed-up and dysfunctional folks. But God keeps working with us, because He sees our potential value to His Kingdom. After writing about murmurers, complainers, the lustful, and the greedy, Jude ends his short book with these words: ‘Unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.’ (Jude 1:24 KJV) Noah didn’t jump ship for the same reason you shouldn’t leave your church—there’s no better alternative. Paul and 275 others were in a storm that looked unsurvivable. Nevertheless he told them, ‘Stay on board.’ Does that mean it’s always wrong to leave a church? No, but make sure your reasons are Scriptural and not self-centred. You say, ‘But the pastor’s sermons are too long.’ Paul once preached so long that a man sitting in a third-storey window fell asleep, plummeted to the ground, and died. And what did Paul do? He laid hands on him, revived him, and then went back to the rest of his sermon! (see Acts 20:9–11). Seriously, if your church has problems, don’t leave; stay and pray. That’s how things get changed.
‘Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.’ Ephesians 5:25 NKJV
Before you criticise your church, remember ‘Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.’ He hasn’t given up on His church, so don’t you give up on it! And stop talking so much about what you don’t like. If your church was perfect, you’d be out of place! Noah didn’t sail on the Queen Mary; he sailed on a glorified cattle boat. Can you imagine the noise, the confusion, and the violent tossing of a ship in a storm big enough to destroy the world? And how about the smell? All those animals all cooped up! But here’s the thing—everybody inside the ark was saved while everybody outside of it was lost. The story’s told of an aristocrat bragging about his lineage and pure-blooded ancestry. Irritated, one of his listeners remarked, ‘I suppose your forebears were on board the ark with Noah!’ ‘No,’ he replied, ‘my people had their own boat!’ You may smile, but there’s only one craft that’s guaranteed to make it safely into heaven’s port, and that’s the old ship of salvation.
Do things sometimes stink in the church? Sure. Jesus issued one of His harshest rebukes to Peter, the disciple who was destined to become a leader in the church: ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on things of God, but on things of man.’ (Matthew 16:23 AMP) But the great thing is that when you mess up, the same grace that restored Peter will be there for you too. So, the word for you today is: love your church!
‘Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding.’ Hebrews 6:1 NLT
Is what worked in the past not working for you now? Maybe it’s a job you’ve outgrown, or a relationship you need to re-examine, or a method you need to change. Regardless of what it is, don’t become so settled that you can’t let go and move on when you need to. They say the hermit crab looks for a shell that fits him, and lives there until he outgrows it. At that point he has to scurry along the ocean floor and find a bigger one—a process that repeats itself throughout his entire life.
So, here’s the question: are you clinging to something that no longer fits you just because it’s easy and familiar? David said, ‘You have freed me when I was hemmed in and enlarged me when I was in distress.’ (Psalm 4:1AMPC) You must be willing to move out of your comfort zone and deal with a little ‘distress’. That’s what makes you grow. Patience and persistence are admirable qualities, but they don’t work in situations you’ve outgrown. Instead of ‘hanging in’ and trying harder, at certain points in life you have to stop and ask yourself, ‘Is this situation good for me?’ If you’re not sure, ask God for ‘an understanding heart so that you can know the difference between right and wrong.’ (1 Kings 3:9 NLT) And when He tells you what to do—do it—even though at first it won’t feel comfortable. When God says it’s time to move on, it’s because there’s another shell out there designed to fit you even better.