Devotional Word for Wednesday, April 29, 2020
This morning as I was praying, I was very encouraged by a passage of Scripture the Holy Spirit brought to my mind. It is Philippian 2:13. . . for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. That word settled in my soul like a steaming bowl of soup on bitterly cold winter day. It radiated out to all parts of my being. I’m praying that as you read those words above, something similar is happening to you.
It is good to know that we’re not left to our own resources. God is more committed to my ongoing progress in the faith than I am! How do I know that? Because I get discouraged. I become gloomy and pessimistic about my life, that of my family, our culture, the state of the church and the Church, and the world in general. “Boooo on life,” is what I communicate at such times. I don’t suppose you’ve ever experienced something similar! 😊
What is happening at such times is described in 2 Cor. 4:16 this way: Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. That decay of our outer man is painful. Not physically painful (though that can be the case as we know all too well as we age!), but painful in our soul.
I once had a fellow pastor ask me to pray for him. He was a good Wesleyan pastor. Wesleyans believe in entire sanctification. That is, that you can and should reach a point in your life where you no longer sin. You’re entirely sanctified. Life is a bed of thornless roses!
My Wesleyan friend asked that I would pray for God to remove sin, root and fruit, from his life. He wanted his old man to be completely dead. That’s something we all wish and pray for. Except that we are not Wesleyans. We know the old man who is decaying and dying day be day, does not die completely until we die physically.
I prayed for my friend as he requested. He felt much better. But that was a prayer God didn’t answer. Well, He didn’t answer the way my friend desired. God didn’t say, “No.” He said, “Not yet.” There is coming a day when sin will be gone from his life root and fruit! It will be the day he steps from this life into life eternal. Until that day, my friend finds comfort in the fact that his inner man is being renewed day by day because God is at work in him both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
The first part of 2 Cor. 4:16 sometimes can cause us problems. It says, Therefore we do not lose heart. Well, this morning I had lost heart! What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with you when you lose heart? Obviously, Paul didn’t lose heart. Except he did. Listen to this self-description he gives in 2 Cor. 7:5 . . . when we came into Macedonia our flesh [read “old man”] had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within. Isn’t that a wonderful passage! I can identify with that. That is Paul’s self-description at a stressful point in his life. It did not define him, but it happened!
He goes on to say, But God [always a wonderful phrase!], who comforts the downcast/depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus. Just as God sent Titus [eventually] to comfort Paul, so God sent Philippians 2:13 into my heart today to comfort me. We need to know that God is committed to our ongoing progress in the faith. Let’s close today with a word of encouragement and exhortation that will speak to our inner man. Here are the last two verses of the Epistle of Jude: Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. But God. Let us never forget, but always remember, But God.
Let us pray: Holy God, we come into Your presence with great joy because of what the Lord Jesus has done for us. He made us His own. He is renewing us day by day in our inner man. We give thanks our outer man is dying day by day. Such dying may be painful, but it results in a far greater joy and an eternal glory that is beyond comparison. Thank You for the comfort You bring to us, especially when we’re downcast and depressed. Let us always look to You, our rock of salvation. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.