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Daily Devotion to Jesus Christ – 100 of 366

Scripture

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity.  Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.
–  Philippians 4:10-14  NASB  (emphasis added)

Meditation

Knowing that fear and greed are the extremes to which Satan is always seeking to push us, it’s easy to recognize that contentment is the broad place we want to reside.  Contentment is not greedy for gain; neither is it fearful of loss.

In closing his letter to the believers in the city of Philippi, the apostle Paul is expressing his thanks for their financial help but also, especially in this passage, explaining his attitude toward such matters.

Notice that Paul says he learned to be content.  In other words, he was not always this way.  Contentment did not come naturally to him.  Remember that Jesus wants disciples – that is, learners, pupils.  Not know-it-all’s.  If Paul can learn godly character traits, we can, too.

Notice also that the contentment Paul has learned to practice is independent of circumstances.  He says he knows how to be content when he has little, and he also knows how to be content when he has a lot.  He says he can do this “through Him who strengthens me.”  Paul is acknowledging the One who taught Him this commitment to contentment, for there can’t be a disciple without there being a teacher.  Jesus said:

“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’…But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
–  Matthew 6:31-33  NASB

Think of greed as the ditch on one side of the road and fear as the ditch on the other.  The road to walk is contentment.  This is the Jesus way.

Prayer

(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking.  Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.”  During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come.  That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)

Lord Jesus, thank You for promising me all the provision I need if I will only seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness today….(this is where you remain quiet in order to let Him work in your thoughts)…  Amen.

Index to Scriptures Used in These Daily Posts

Daily Devotion to Jesus Christ – 99 of 366

Scripture

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.  For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham.  Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.
–  Hebrews 2:14-18  NASB  (emphasis added)

Meditation

The last few days we’ve thought about various forms of fear (anxiety, worry, fretfulness, apprehension, etc.) and how God wants us to seek a zero-tolerance policy.  In the passage above, we see the concrete action God took to remove the root of the most fundamental fear of human existence: death.

When God tells us “fear not,” He is not just commanding us.  He has acted, or has promised to act, in a way that removes any reason for fear about the matter at hand.  That is, He has removed the basis or reason for fear so that we can – with good reason – obey His exhortation to “fear not.”

This is certainly the case when it comes to death.  God could have simply told us not to fear death, but He didn’t stop there.  He actually came to live as one of us on earth.  He experienced all the things a human being experiences – including death.  When He rose from the dead, He gave us reason to believe that resurrection from death was His plan.  So, when God tells us not to be afraid or worried about dying, His resurrection from the dead is a good reason for doing what He says.

Recall the very first scripture we meditated in these daily devotions:

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
–  Philippians 1:21 NASB

Getting over your fundamental fear of death is an important first step toward driving away your remaining fears.  Remember: “to die is gain.”

Prayer

(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking.  Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.”  During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come.  That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)

Lord, help me to settle the issue of what happens when I die so that I can learn to stop worrying about lesser things….(this is where you remain quiet in order to let Him work in your thoughts)…  Amen.

Index to Scriptures Used in These Daily Posts

Daily Devotion to Jesus Christ – 98 of 366

Scripture

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
–  Philippians 4:4-7  NASB  (emphasis added)

Meditation

There are three apostles responsible for most of the writing in the New Testament: Peter, John, and Paul.  For the last two days, we’ve looked at what Peter and John had to say about anxiety (worry, fear, apprehension, timidity, etc.).  Today, we’ll examine what Paul says about this subject.  What we’ll see is that all three men uniformly viewed anxiety as having no place in the mature Christian life.

As you see above, Paul says “Be anxious for nothing.”  Remember that Peter said, “…casting all your anxiety on Him…” (1 Peter 5:7).  Remember also that John said, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…” (1 John 4:18).  By three witnesses, therefore, we can know with great confidence that God does not want us to consider anxiety a friend or ally of His.

Paul had not been one of the twelve original apostles, but he learned, as they had, that Jesus walked without fear and He wanted the same experience for His disciples.

As we have seen, Jesus drew His strength from the Old Testament, which included passages such as this verse that has been part of one of our daily meditations:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me…”
–  Psalm 23:4 NASB

Notice again that David does not write, “I fear only really bad evil.”  Instead, he says, “I fear no evil.”  Jesus brought this conviction to new heights…and taught it to His disciples.

At the root of most of our sins will usually be some form of greed or some form of fear.  That is, we either want more of something than we need and have…or…we are afraid we are going to lose what we have and be in need.  Therefore, always resist fear and greed whenever they appear in your heart.

Prayer

(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking.  Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.”  During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come.  That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)

Heavenly Father, it is comforting to know that You do not want us to be anxious.  Help me sense measurable progress in reducing the anxieties I discover in my heart today…(this is where you remain quiet in order to let Him work in your thoughts)…  Amen.

Index to Scriptures Used in These Daily Posts

Daily Devotion to Jesus Christ – 97 of 366

Scripture

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.  We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.  We love, because He first loved us.  If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.  And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.
–  1 John 4:15-21  NASB  (emphasis added)

Meditation

We’ve seen over the last few days how Peter dealt with fear.  Let’s now look at the issue from John’s point of view.  John was one of Peter’s partners in the fishing trade.  Like Peter and John’s brother James, John was also part of Jesus “inner circle” of three apostles.  He seems much quieter than Peter – except that he eventually wrote the Gospel of John, three letters, and the book of Revelation.  We could say he was a strong man, comparatively soft-spoken but mighty with the pen.

For John, fear can be crowded out of the human heart by the growth of love.  Therefore, to reduce fear, increase love.  Because of this cause-and-effect dynamic, I included John’s counsel about fear in the context of what he was saying about love.

When we are afraid to do what’s right, love will enable us to do it anyway.  Then we’re fulfilling these words from the Old Testament:

What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.
–  Psalm 56:3  KJV

Where do we get more love for God?  By thinking more about the love He has shown for us.  As John says, “We love, because He first loved us.”

Prayer

(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking.  Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.”  During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come.  That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)

Lord, thank You for letting us learn from John.  Thank You for loving us as much as You do.  With Your help, I will reciprocate Your love.  I am unwilling for Your relationship with me to be one of unreturned love for You…(this is where you remain quiet in order to let Him work in your thoughts)…  Amen.

Index to Scriptures Used in These Daily Posts

Daily Devotion to Jesus Christ – 96 of 366

Scripture

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.  Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.  After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.  To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.
–  1 Peter 5:6-11  NASB  (emphasis added)

Meditation

Jesus spent more time with His disciples than He did with people in general.  And He spent more time with the twelve apostles than He did with the rest of the disciples.  And He spent more time with Peter, James, and John than He did with the rest of the twelve.  And He spent more time with Peter than with James and John.

It is to our benefit that Peter was the one chosen to be this close to Jesus.  We can easily relate to Peter in all his imperfections.  He achieved great things but had great failings, too.  He thus demonstrates that growth in becoming like Jesus is a trial-and-error process.  You may remember when we focused on these words of Jesus earlier in these devotions:

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.”
–  Matthew 6:1  NASB

Note the word “practicing.”  Becoming like Jesus takes practice.  And practice means certain failure some of the time.  Success comes from making the attempt…and continuing to make it until the errors are eliminated.  Peter was constantly attempting.  He attempted things none of the other fellows would attempt.  He may have made more mistakes than the others, but he did become like Jesus – even dying by crucifixion as Jesus did.

I emphasized the words I did because Peter is telling us how to deal with anxiety (worry, fear, apprehension, timidity, etc.).  Peter learned from practice what to do with anxiety.  Let us go to school on his experience.  And let us never stop attempting.

Prayer

(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking.  Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.”  During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come.  That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)

Lord, thank You for letting us learn from Peter.  Help me learn how to “cast my anxiety upon You” as he learned it…(this is where you remain quiet in order to let Him work in your thoughts)…  Amen.

Index to Scriptures Used in These Daily Posts

Daily Devotion to Jesus Christ – 95 of 366

Scripture

Immediately He [i.e. Jesus] made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away.  After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.  But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary.  And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea.  When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”  Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”  And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and *said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”  When they got into the boat, the wind stopped.  And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!”
–  Matthew 14:22-33  NASB

Meditation

We have been focused on Peter’s words and experiences the last couple of days, and what we see in this passage can build on that.

Once Jesus identified Himself, Peter said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”  Whether by inspiration of God or by his own wit, Peter knew that a command from Jesus had a special power.  He had seen it often in the miracle healings that Jesus performed.  In the power of the one word “Come,” Peter “got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.”  Amazing!

Yet Peter “seeing the wind,…became frightened,” and that was the end of that.  We never know what might frighten us.  (What did wind have to do with anything, Peter?)  Nevertheless, we don’t condemn Peter for sinking; rather, we commend him for being the only one with the courage to get out of the boat.

Prayer

(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking.  Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.”  During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come.  That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)

Lord Jesus, thank You for making known that in Your every command is the power to obey that command…(this is where you remain quiet in order to let Him work in your thoughts)…  Amen.

Index to Scriptures Used in These Daily Posts

Daily Devotion to Jesus Christ – 94 of 366

Scripture

…do what is right without being frightened by any fear.
–  1 Peter 3:6  NASB

Meditation

Heeding this sort of exhortation would make sense no matter who uttered the words.  However, given that they come from Peter, we have all the more reason to pay attention.

Peter was a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee – not an occupation for a weak or timid man.  The work was hard.  The men who performed it were constantly exposed to the elements.

In following Jesus so closely, Peter was aware of the rising opposition to Him from the Jewish authorities.  And no Jew could be unaware of the heavy hand of Roman rule that was ready to crush any Jewish force deemed to be hostile.  Yet Peter was not deterred by either of these dangers.  He kept following Jesus.

Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, ‘I WILL STRIKE DOWN THE SHEPHERD, AND THE SHEEP OF THE FLOCK SHALL BE SCATTERED.’  But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”  But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.”  Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”  Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.” All the disciples said the same thing too.
–  Matthew 26:31-35  NASB

Later that night, Peter cut off the ear of the high priest’s slave who was trying to arrest Jesus.  So we know Peter wasn’t a blowhard.

What’s really ironic is that Peter ended up fulfilling what Jesus prophesied when asked by a servant girl.  What accounts for this?  How can Peter be all “macho” when outnumbered by armed opposition and then unwilling to even admit his knowledge of Jesus to a lone girl?

The answer lies in the subtlety and depths of the human heart.  When life is unfolding as we expect it to unfold, we have our prepared responses which we can employ.  However, when life presents us with experiences and circumstances we did not foresee, we then learn things about ourselves that we did not think were true.

Prayer

(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking.  Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.”  During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come.  That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)

Lord Jesus, You know my heart far better than I know it.  Make me aware of what perils lie in my blind spots…and lead me not into temptation…(this is where you remain quiet in order to let Him work in your thoughts)…  Amen.

Index to Scriptures Used in These Daily Posts