May is the Month for Inner Strength
...as We See the Government of Christ
Reaching Into the Inner Parts of Our Souls.
We pray that…He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory,
to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man.
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;
Our prayers this month reach toward breaking down strongholds that govern from the inner parts of the soul, draining many of spiritual, mental, emotional and physical strength. We are learning to pray for the overcoming of these strongholds and the setting up of the Holy Spirit's rule instead.
We list here some of those destructive things:
Day 1—How We Begin to Be Children of God’s Kingdom
Depression, worry, anger, procrastination, anxiety, fear of what others think, a poor self image, resentment, fear of being alone, fear of losing a loved one, fear of cancer, hatred, lust, laziness, fear of failure, bitterness, greed, jealousy, a driving need to win or be first, insecurity, fear of heights, fear of bridges, pride, contempt for others, unnatural sexual lusts, a compulsive need for certain foods, a fearful need for shelter and comfort, an unreasonable need for clothing and pleasure, the need to have a high position in society, the need to please others, an uncontrollable need to lie or exaggerate, thriving on crisis or drama, manipulation of others, craving for alcohol or drugs, craving to be touched or to touch, the drive to succeed, the need to take vengeance, the need to be punished, the need to inflict punishment on others, selfishness, the need to have many “pretty things,” a morbid frame of mind that always looks for the worst, the besetting need to correct others, grief, the compulsion to annoy others, hatred of the opposite sex, ideas set in motion by words spoken when one is young, etc....
The word strengthened is from the Greek word kratéo. It means “to hold dominion” or “to govern.” Thus, Paul is “bowing his knees unto God” in prayer, asking that the people he is holding before God might be governed by the might of the Holy Spirit. It’s significant to note that the word might is from the Greek dúnamis, the same word is translated power in Acts 1:8. This is the last promise from the Lord Jesus before He went to His Father. He told His disciples, But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you. One of the most important things the Holy Spirit comes upon us to do is setting up His Government in our lives.
we get into this month’s “prayer starters,” let us take another look at the Scripture that has become our primary inspiration for praying this month. For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of Whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man
GRACIOUS FATHER, one of my most precious hopes is that Your Spirit will govern my inner man. Oh, where sin has held the dominion, now let Your Spirit rule me! I am coming to see how great is the sin that has governed me. Now, please let me know how great can be the power of Your Spirit ruling me.
The truth is, dear FATHER, there is some sin in all of us that is so great we cannot gain control of its determination to rule us. Therefore, we lay our lives before You. We wait in Your presence. Send Your Spirit into the innermost parts of us. Do whatever work is needed in us to make us useful for Your Kingdom.
Some Great Points of Instruction toward Praying One for the Other—James 5:13-20
Day 2— The Redemption Makes Us a Temple
An amazing revelation given to Paul is that we who have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ become the temple in which His presence dwells. Paul made use of the word náos when speaking of this “temple” that we become. This word means “the most holy place.” There is another word for “temple,” hieroń, which means the temple in a much more general sense. It includes all the compartments of the temple, even the outer court.
When we find Jesus going into the temple in Jerusalem, it was only into the outer part that He went. There is no record that He ever went into the part known as the náos. The truth is, He was the most holy place. In Him the Father dwelt.
Paul saw that we become the dwelling place of God on three scales. First, as individual believers we learn that we are the temple, the náos, where God’s Spirit has come to dwell. Paul asked the following thought provoking question, Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?—I Corinthians 6:19. By no means are we to defile, or dishonor, our bodies. God’s Spirit will only dwell in a pure and clean place.
Paul went on to say something very challenging regarding the redemption. ...Ye are now your own? For ye are bought (from the Greek agorázo, “redeemed”) with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s—I Corinthians 6:19b,20. In the redemption, the Lord obtained us—spirit, soul and body. Our whole being is now His. He will dwell in us, move through us and make His Kingdom known through us.
DEAR LORD, for too long I have considered my life as my own. With this attitude, I have abused my body in many ways. I’m sorry. I want Your forgiveness. Please heal, cleanse and restore me so I can be useful for the purposes of Your Kingdom. O LORD, make me—and all these I hold before You—useful for Your Kingdom’s. Make known through us the power of Your Kingdom.
Day 3—Our Body Is To Become a Holy Place
Some believers in the Corinthian church disregarded their bodies as a pure dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. Sadly, this is still the case today. Too many who call themselves Christians defile their bodies in one way or another. This is very grievous for the Spirit of God. The situation with many becomes like that of the people of Jerusalem who would not repent for their sins. In 586 B.C. the Lord allowed the people of Babylon to overrun the entire Jewish nation and destroy their Temple.
In Chapter 8 of Ezekiel a fervent warning was given to the people of God. Unless they repent of the deplorable condition that existed among them, they would become the captives of a strange and foreign nation. The Prophet Ezekiel concludes thus: Therefore will I also deal in fury: Mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in Mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them—Ezekiel 8:18.
The admonition of Paul in II Corinthians 6:15-18 has a similar sound. But, there was an exception. The offer of grace became stronger. And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?And what agreement hath the temple (Gr. náos) of God with idols? for ye are the temple (Gr. náos) of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty—II Corinthians 6:15-18.
FATHER, hear our cry! Bring strong conviction upon us, Your people. Bring the conviction of Your Spirit upon me! Let none of us get by with the unholy ways that grieve Your Spirit. Oh, cleanse us, Your Temple!
Day 4— An Expression of the Body of Christ
We made mention two days ago that Paul saw the temple on three scales. First was us, as individual believers. Second, he saw the local church as a corporate temple. Again, he got his message across with a question. Know ye not that ye (plural)are the temple (náos) of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you (plural)?—I Corinthians 3:16.
Paul expected us who gather in the Name of the Lord Jesus to know who and what we are as we are gathering unto Him. As His temple, God desires that His presence be known among us. But, sometimes it seems that Christians who gather for worship have no awareness of His presence at all. We all need to repent for not acknowledging the presence of the Lord when we come together in His Name!
Those who lead worship services need to allow the Holy Spirit to “hold the reins” when meeting as a body of believers. Programs, ideas, singers with songs that must be sung, preachers with sermons that must be preached, all too often hold a greater place of importance. What we miss by not allowing the Holy Spirit to hold control is, beyond a doubt, more than any of us could imagine.
When we come together with others to worship we need to begin acknowledging the Holy Spirit’s presence and waiting on the Lord with strong supplication and strong expectation.
DEAR LORD, I repent for not acknowledging You when we gather for worship. Oh, teach me, teach us, to open ourselves to Your abiding presence. Forgive me for judging others who seem to just come and sit, and whose lives seem to bear little fruit. Make me a blessing and an inspiration to each one who comes among us. Let others behold You at work in my life.
Day 5—How the Church Grows unto a Holy Temple
It seems impossible that all of us who call upon the Name of the Lord Jesus can one day become one holy temple. Even in one small town or one body of believers there are divisions and tensions among believers that seem to make this hopeless!
I remember the testimony of a man who was in a building that was bombed during World War II. Crawling through the rubble, he came upon one other person who was alive. He told of the unusual joy that came upon both of them, just to find another living being. There were no questions asked, just hands clasped in a new found union. That man’s testimony has remained with me for years. It makes me wonder what it may take to bring us all together as one in the closing of this age.
Could it be that the tribulation of the final years, brought about by the wrath of the anti-Christ, will cause us to acknowledge and love one another with a unity never before known? A word in one of Daniel’s visions seems to indicate that something the anti-Christ will do might help bring this to pass. In Daniel 8:13,14 there is reference to the sanctuary (the holy place) being trodden under foot. But then, after a relatively short time that holy place shall be cleansed. The destruction, “the wicked one” hoped to accomplish will result, instead, in the cleansing of the temple. Could it be that this fits in with what Paul has told us in II Corinthians 6:15—7:1?
GRACIOUS LORD, I expect the pressures of the closing days will bring Your people to a new place of holiness and unity. Please work in us now, before the time of trouble comes too heavily upon us. Move by Your Spirit in all of us. Let the sweet moving of Your Spirit bring about a unity in us now, so we won’t have to wait for the days of tribulation that Jesus said would come.
Day 6—Seeing that Our Personal Temples Are Made Holy
All the prayers we have gained from Paul’s Prison Epistles—Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians—work toward making us useful for God’s Kingdom. The one we use as our guide for this month of praying is asking in a straightforward manner that we all come under the Government of Christ in our inner man. (Review Day 1.)
Some of us can make the necessary changes of thinking and acting, simply by resolving to so. But, in most of us there are ways that don’t fit in God’s Kingdom that we are not, by our own self-determination, able to put away. This covers a wide range of thinking and responding that have worked from beneath the surface in us—many of them since early childhood. Even though they work quietly and behind the scenes, they work toward corrupting our temple.
A lady I know grew up in great poverty. Many times there was so little food to eat that the entire family went hungry. When she became older and was no longer in poverty, she could not control her eating. If there was food there, she ate it. She took enormous helpings at mealtime. Needless to say, she became an enormous person, ruled by an appetite for food that seemed never to be satisfied. The insecurity of her younger days set up a “government” in her that has continued all her life.
And so, many a person is ruled by some inner government that began in the early years of their life.
MY DEAR FATHER, at some point my appetites got out of control. There came to be cravings in me that were not good. Sometimes I wanted things that I knew were not good for me. But something in me demanded that I have them. I am ready now to be free from those desires that possessed me. They are close to destroying my life. Oh, set me free, in Jesus’ Name! I want my body, Your temple, to be a place where You will be glad to dwell.
Day 7—How a Darkened Understanding Hinders One’s Kingdom Usefulness
Many of us, before we were saved, lived our lives according to the dictates of our own human will. However, some of us were domineered by parents, or institutions, that refused us the privilege of growing up to be our own persons. Others were held captive by circumstances that imposed a mind-set that deformed their inner man. Whatever the circumstance of our early upbringing, we are all driven by an inner man that needs to be made new for the Kingdom of God. Not one of us grew up perfect enough for God’s Kingdom.
The door for our renewal is opened to us when we become born again. This term, born again, comes to us from John 3:3. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. The most literal interpretation of this from the Greek New Testament helps us understand what this “new birth” makes possible for us. The key is in the word translated again, from the Greek ańothen which means, “from above.” The realm from which our “new birth” comes is “above,” from the heavens, a realm of Life that this earth cannot provide.
We gain insight into a new way of living when we are born again. It’s a way of living that makes it possible for us to see and know the Kingdom of God. We can now discover a new Government. It’s a Government that sets us free from the rule of darkness and introduces us to the Light that Jesus brought into the world.
MY GRACIOUS REDEEMER, I love You. I praise You for the Government You are bringing into order within me. I praise You for the Light and Life that is eternal, and that is alive and shining in my heart right now. Oh, shine on through me to lighten the way for others!
Day 8—Discovering the Kingdom of God within Us
What may be known about the Kingdom of God will remain a mystery to anyone who has not been born again. But a sad thing remains even with some who have been born again. Many of these know not the Kingdom because of the sad idea that it can be known only at the end of the age, and then only by the Jews.
The truth is that the new birth is for God’s Kingdom. It makes way for us to know it immediately, not with its glory in all the world, but with its glory in all of us. When we are born from above, we become ready for the Kingdom to permeate all of what we are. It will saturate us. It will infiltrate us. Its influence will come upon every avenue of our lives. Even the darkest road we have to walk will become a path in which a Light will shine.
David was discovering the Kingdom when he said, Thou wilt show me the path of life: in Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore—Psalm 16:11. Paul wrote to the Gentile believers at Colosse and told of Jesus Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son—Colossians 1:13. Jesus taught us to pray—with an urgency—Let Thy Kingdom come!—Matthew 6:10a. We discovered that this prayer is recorded in the Greek New Testament as an Aorist Imperative, indicating an urgent plea, for a present Kingdom.
DEAR LORD, what You are making possible in my life today is beyond anything I could ever have imagined. I praise You for the work of Your Kingdom in me. It has become a force of energy that is carrying me through this present darkness. Please reign on in me and make me into a son, or a daughter, of Your Kingdom. Plant me where You will for the spreading of Your Kingdom in the earth.
Day 9—Discovering the Wisdom by which God Deals with Our Sin
None of us can know the depth of the sin that ruled in our lives. Some hold on to the idea that, “I’m too great a sinner for God to ever save me.” Others think they’re not really that bad. Most of us stand somewhere in between. Wherever we stand, His grace is sufficient to set us free from whatever wrong may be in us.
For some days, now, we are going to look through the grand opening statement of Ephesians 1:3-14. In the Original this is one amazing long sentence telling of the grace that God has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence. Before we can fully deal with the things within us that do not belong in God’s Temple, we must know His abounding grace.
The revelation given us in Ephesians follows on from the grace we find revealed in the first eight chapters of Romans. I encourage you to become as familiar as you can with that portion of Scripture. In Romans lies the foundation for Ephesians Truth, the Truth that is taking us on to the Day of the Lord.
MY DEAR LORD, I am ready for Your grace to reign in me. I am ready for it to overrule the darkness that for so long has stood against You. I am ready for You to send the power of Your Kingdom in to take charge over the things I’ve held on to, but that I know have displeased You. Please make me a Kingdom person! Make me into someone who bears Your Kingdom’s presence wherever I go. Let the grace and wisdom of Your Kingdom reach through me to touch others—and bring them in.
Day 10—What Happens When the Kingdom of GodPermeates Our Life?
Permeates means to penetrate and spread throughout something—or someone. That’s what the Kingdom of God is doing in us as it affects every part of us. Many of us have lived for years under the rule of some dark force that has worked to destroy us. The darkness of sin has permeated us. Now, we’re discovering that God’s Kingdom will work in us everywhere sin has worked. The greatest discovery any of us can ever make is that the King Himself will live in us. Christ Jesus is ready to become our source of Life.
Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians is overflowing with the wonders that can become ours in Christ. We can find these wonders in the verses of that opening section of Ephesians. What we see there is ready to take over where once there was darkness and pain.
First, see this: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ—Ephesians 1:3. Oh, just to know this! Where we once bore the curse of our old way of living—even things that came down on us from the sins of our fathers—we now are ready for what Paul called all spiritual blessings. Just know this: the real blessings of life come to us through what God does in us by His Spirit.
DEAR LORD, Heaven seems distant to me, and I’m not always very sure of going there. But now, it seems that heaven is coming to me! Christ Jesus is making it real in me. Oh, I believe there could be no greater blessing! Thank You! Thank You! Thank You, for making heaven’s blessings real in me. I am ready to rest in Your work, and Your love, and Your grace.
Day 11—Letting the Realization that He Has Chosen Us Burst upon Us
I remember being the last one chosen when sides were being picked for a football team. The first day we went out, I was nearly the first one chosen. It was the second day when I was the last one. You see, I just wasn’t very athletic. I looked the part, but I never learned to throw and catch, and all the other things required of a good athlete. I bore that little bit of pain from rejection in my heart, till the day I discovered I was simply who I was. God gave it to me to be me. When I finally thanked Him for the gift He had given me of being “Ed Corley,” I entered a day of liberation. Finally, I could accept myself, whether or not anyone else ever did.
But, when I was chosen by God for His eternal Kingdom it wasn’t who I was in myself that was the deciding factor. It’s who I was in Christ Jesus.
It was Paul, in Ephesians 1:4, who introduced me to my choosing in Christ. When we see this verse alone, we immediately realize it is part of a larger statement. But, there is still enough Light in it to shine on us, no matter how dark our path has become. Just see it: According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love... The important thing for us to see is that God has chosen us in Him. He chose us before we ever were. And, there is a result to being chosen in Him; we become holy and without blame before God. That’s almost too much to take in. We let our hearts accept it, however. Our hearts accept and believe things even when our minds finds them too difficult.
LORD, my heart is ready to run after You and to believe! It’s ready to believe things my mind simply cannot understand. Thank You for giving us all a heart so there will be a place in our beings that can believe, and trust, even when our minds find it too difficult to do so.
The Process by which a Person Can Hear the Gospel, Believe, and Be Saved—Romans 10:8-17
Day 12—What We Can Know about this Matter of Predestination
Just about everyone who has some question about being saved eventually comes to the matter of predestination
. It was a big question for me till I understood more of what Paul was saying when he spoke of our being chosen
. The word predestination
means “having a prior design.” This takes us back to when God designed us. He chose
us in Adam. Here is that primal Word. And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion... Genesis 1:26a
Simply spoken, God’s predestination for everyone of us is confirmed in what He said here. We note His exact words contain Our image and Our likeness. Would not the use of the plural word Our indicate that He was not alone?
Do we see the Lord Jesus in that Genesis verse? It does indeed seem that Paul believed this to be so. In Ephesians 1:5 He went on to tell of our being chosen. God chose us after He had predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will. In His Own good pleasure, He designed us from the beginning to be placed in His household as sons and daughters, mature enough to receive our inheritance. We were created for that. Now, see this: all that God did—the creation and the redemption—was accomplished in Christ Jesus. Can He bring to completion in us what He has begun in us? Yes He can! In our hearts we know He can!
FATHER, that You held us in Your bosom when You created Adam exposes to our hearts the great love You held toward us from the beginning. It was that love that drew me to Your side. You granted me repentance. You forgave the departure I made from You. That Your only begotten Son died for me—and not for me only, but for all the world—amazes my heart. Please set the rule of Your Kingdom strong in me. Seal me with the bond of that same love with which You made me and redeemed me.
Day 13— What God Has Done Is Leading to a Glorious Celebration of His Grace.
As we move on in the great opening Word of Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, we find that all God is doing in us now is moving on to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved—Ephesians 1:6. The word praise in this verse means “a glorious celebration.” In the Day of the Lord there will be no celebration in honor of our ability to become holy and useful in His Kingdom. It will be a celebration of the glory of His grace. This grace, to which all honor will go, is the means by which God has drawn us from the brink of destruction. By the power and the glory of His grace He is making us fit for His Kingdom.
Even now, while there are things working in us that do not belong in His Kingdom, grace is at work in us. While we would like to know that we are made immediately qualified for His Kingdom, it is taking the longsuffering of our Heavenly Father to bring us on to the point of real “Kingdom Usefulness.” The work that began in His heart at creation, the work carried forward in the redemption, and the patience by which He has dealt with us are all expressions of His grace. Everyday His grace grows in us as He holds onto us with a determination to bring His work to completion in us.
FATHER, how I praise You for not letting go of me! You could have dumped me long ago, but You kept on holding me, because You loved me. I want to be holy and pure for You. I don’t want this just so I can have a better place in heaven. I want to be holy and pure so You can have me as a better son, or daughter, for Your eternal purpose. Please let Your grace continue working in me. I know there are areas in my life that still need much work that only Your grace can perform. Oh, but I love You for not giving up on me!
Day 14—It Is in Christ Jesus that We Discover the Riches of God’s Grace.
The opening statement of Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians is, in its entirety, a glorious celebration of the grace by which God is reaching us in Christ Jesus. While our desire is to be all God would have us to be, it is becoming very clear that we cannot accomplish His works by our own efforts. Too many things arise in us that are greater than we can overcome by our own religious strength. But, we find hope in the wonderful words in this next verse. Here we have Paul speaking of Christ Jesus in Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace—Ephesians 1:7.
One of the greatest needs in the life of anyone of us is getting the matter of sins settled. Sins contaminate our whole being. They bring us to the place of being not desirable or useful for the purposes of God’s Kingdom. And yet, we cannot effectively deal with them by our own self-effort. We find in the above verse three phrases that describe what can deal with the sins that try to rule us. First is the redemption through His blood. It is His blood that cleanses us. Second is the forgiveness of sins. He, the all-powerful God of the universe, releases us from the guilt of our sins. Third, it is all according to the riches of His grace. The word riches means bountiful store. There is absolutely no end to the grace that is available for our full salvation. It offers full deliverance from all kinds of sin. Hallelujah!
DEAR FATHER, what grace you showed me when You received me in Christ Jesus! Thank you—oh thank You!—for all you have done in me already. Please continue your dealing with me. Let nothing remain that grieves Your Spirit, or that hinders me from usefulness in Your Kingdom. With my heart, I believe You are bringing me, pure and holy, into Your Kingdom—all because of Your grace.
Day 15—Discovering the Wisdom by which God Deals with Our Sin
One of the amazing things to my own heart is what Paul has said in Ephesians 1:8. He speaks here of the grace which God hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence. This follows on from the preceding verse that tells us how God has given us salvation according to the opulent wealth of His grace. It is utterly amazing how far this grace of His does indeed reach. But, we see He released it unto us in all wisdom and prudence.
This word prudence means “a thoughtful and right frame of mind.” It is with this frame of mind that God has made His grace to abound toward us. Some of us might think it is too much that God would deal with all of our sin by His grace. Shouldn’t we have to pay some of the penalty to receive the forgiveness He offers us? Well, no. God’s divine wisdom and intelligence has seen fit to let grace do the work all the way.
What’s our part?
To repent and receive what God offers. So, let’s not argue with the mind of God. Let’s just open our hearts and receive all He gives us in Christ Jesus. After all, He is the One who bore the full penalty for us all. We remember, the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all—Isaiah 53:6b.
GREAT REDEEMER, I lay down all my arguments against Your grace. I am ready for it to reach into the deepest part of me. Let is come over all the wrong I’ve done toward others. Let it reach into the shameful wrongs I’ve contemplated, but never carried through. Let it reach on through me to touch the lives of those I’ve wronged. Please let it be a healing grace that reaches through me to others.
How Far God’s Grace Will Reach—Romans 5:15-21
Day 16—Yielding to the Mystery of God’s Will, while Not Seeing His Whole Plan
Through Christ Jesus, God is drawing us unto Himself for the fulfillment of His Own eternal will. This is one of those things we have to let our hearts reach for. The fullness of what He is doing is beyond the grasp of our understanding. Paul calls it a mystery. Let’s see what he goes on to say in the Ephesians Statement that we are taking on slowly, one verse at a time, day by day.
As we move on through the opening of Ephesians, one verse at a time, let us remember that each part we are seeing connects with what we saw the day before, and with what comes after. Here, right in the middle of the opening sentence, we have verse Ephesians 1:9. Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself… Recalling what we saw yesterday, we see that it is out of God’s great wisdom and intelligence that He is making known to us what He desires to accomplish through us.
There are three things for us to note. First—what He determines for us is according to His good pleasure. Second—we cannot fathom by ourselves what God’s overall will is for us. Much yet remains a mystery. Third—He has already determined, in Himself, what His will is for us. While the overall plan remains a mystery to us, we are learning to trust His wisdom and prudence as He brings forth what is right in each one of us.
FATHER, too many times when I was not very happy about who You ordained for me. It was mostly because I was afraid. Today, I renounce this attitude. Something else that’s been hard for me is trying to understand how You can ever make full use of me. To myself I seem to be a bumbler, not very smart, and too critical of everything around me. I’m ready to stop thinking this way. Please cleanse my mind and give me a way of thinking that will be useful in Your Kingdom.
Patience and Faith in the Trials We Endure—II Thessalonians 1:4-12
Day 17—All That God is Doing Brings Us to the Fullness of the Times.
It is a marvelous day when we discover that all God is doing—with us, plus with all the others in whom He is working—is leading to the consummation of this age. While our minds cannot grasp nearly all that He is doing now, we can trust Him. And, we can rejoice that He has laid His hand on us to have a part of in what He is bringing to pass.
Our next verse points to the conclusion of this age. Let’s see it—verse Ephesians 1:10. That in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him… The amazement continues to grow. What God is doing in us now, as well as in all the others who know Him, will come to its consummation in Him.
There is something very significant about the word dispensation in the above verse. The word in the Original is oikonomía. It means an “administration of household government.” In actuality, it points to the administration of His Kingdom.
In the fullness of times there is coming an administration that will be under the governorship of Christ Jesus. There will be no limit to its administrative reach. And the marvel of it all is this: we will share with Him in it. Now, He is bringing us onward to know His Government in our own lives. He is making us into the children of the kingdom (Matthew 13:38) whom He will plant in His field which is the world (Matthew 13:37,38).
GREAT REDEEMER, I praise You for the mercy and grace by which You have drawn us unto Yourself. Please work on in us. Draw into submission the parts of our souls that have not yet submitted fully to Your rule. Take control of our wills, of our emotions, of our conscience. Rule our minds. Be our Master, fully, us so we can work well with You in Your Kingdom.
Discovering Principles by Which the Children of the Kingdom Shall Rule—Psalm 149:1-9
Day 18—God Has Designed Us according to the Purpose of His Own Will
God designed us in the counsel of the ages that we might be conformed to the image of His Son. Even though we have all fallen short of His glory, He has reached for us. He has laid hold on us. And, He is drawing us to Himself.
Paul went on in the opening Statement of Ephesians Truth to tell us it is God’s determination to have us with Him in His eternal Kingdom. He spoke clearly in Ephesians 1:11 that by Christ Jesus we have obtained an inheritance. It is a kingly inheritance. Going back to consider our prior design, we find, as we go on in verse 11, that we have been predestinated according to the purpose of Him Who worketh all things after the counsel of His Own will.The word worketh is from the Greek energeío which means “to communicate energy and efficiency.” What a powerful hold this brings over upon us! It is becoming clear that He designed us—that is, He made us the way we are—with the potential of our becoming vessels for the communication of the energy and efficiency in His Kingdom.
The answer as to how God will accomplish His work through us is beginning to dawn upon us. It’s here, in these words: He worketh all things after the counsel of His Own will. Whatever His will may be for us, He is the energizing force by which it will be accomplished. Paul knew this when He said, For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure—Philippians 2:13.
FATHER, I give You all that I am, even the weak parts of me. I am learning from Paul that You take the weakness in us to demonstrate Your power. My lack of wisdom is crowding me in to know more of the wisdom that You give. My poor character and moral strength is crowding me into the righteousness that is mine in Christ Jesus. Have all of me!
David discovered that God will work with us by mercy and truth.—Psalm 25:1-10
Day 19—The Grace that Makes Us into a Celebration of God’s Glory
Only the amazing grace of God can perform a work in us, who once were governed by sin, that will turn our lives into a celebration of His glory. Paul had come to know himself as the chief of sinners. That depraved condition in which he lived did, in fact, make him all the more ready to receive the grace that would make him into a trophy for God’s Kingdom. He was a very religious man. He was so religious, in fact, that he could actually participate in the murder of a man who opposed his religious views. Read of this in Acts 7:57-60.
While Paul was being religious, he was not aware of how great a sinner he was. It took the grace of God to show him his sin.
Maybe you think you’re bad. But, just let the Holy Spirit get His hold on you. He will bring you to the place of more than just thinking you’re bad. You will know it! Then you can know that where sin has abounded, grace will much more abound. The greater the sin, the greater the grace that will be required to transfer you from the authority of the darkness in which you lived into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son. So great will be the grace required to bring you into that Kingdom that it will make you part of the praise of His glory. All this will be because you trusted in Christ. It is in Ephesians 1:12 that we find the above emphasized words.
What is God’s glory bringing us to know? Simply this: We cannot function in God’s Kingdom in a way that brings honor to us. All that grace will allow of us is to bring praise to His glory.
FATHER, day by day I see more and more of the sin that has been ruling me. It has been buried so deep in my spirit that I could not see how sinful I was. Now, Your Holy Spirit is showing me! The picture I see is not good. Without Your grace I would be hopeless. What I ask of You now is to let me see just how boundless Your grace is.
Day 20—The Marvelous Work the Holy Spirit Will Do in Us
In Ephesians 1:13, Paul speaks of Jesus Christ, in Whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the Word of Truth, the Gospel of your salvation: in Whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise. After we have placed our faith in what the Lord Jesus did to accomplish our salvation, the Holy Spirit sets His seal upon us. Adam Clarke gives a good comment regarding this work of the Holy Spirit. “It was customary among all nations, when a person purchased goods of any kind, to mark with his seal that which he had bought, in order that he might know it, and be able to claim it if mixed with the goods of others.” Well, indeed! The Holy Spirit sets the seal of God’s Kingdom on those who come to God by the grace offered in Christ Jesus.
Recently, as Brother Henry Washington and I were traveling in ministry, we had occasions to be among people of the world. We found, in place after place, that the Holy Spirit Himself was pleased to be the seal set upon us. We marveled at the fact that it was nearly as easy to minister to people in restaurants and shops as it was in the churches. Because of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit with us, people were nearly always ready to hear what we had to say of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
I wonder—is it the presence of the Holy Spirit with us, and in us, that becomes the seal placed upon us?
DEAR FATHER, I praise You—Oh, I praise You!—for sending Your Spirit to abide with us. Please keep close watch upon my soul so that not one thing comes within me to grieve Him. As the government of Your Kingdom rules in me, let the power of Your Spirit subdue me and keep me under the control of Your Kingdom. I ask this because the desire to be planted by the Lord Jesus, as a child of Your Kingdom, is growing within me.
Day 21—The Marvelous Work the Holy Spirit Will Do in Us
Paul brings the grand opening Statement of Ephesians to a conclusion with the following. He has just told of the Holy Spirit, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory—Ephesians 1:14.
The Holy Spirit placed a seal upon us after we believed. We see above that what He did was the earnest of our inheritance. The word earnest in this above verse is from the Greek arraboń which means a guarantee. Some have translated the word as our “down payment.” There is, in fact, no payment made to us. So I think this is not the best understanding of the word. It is better to think of it as meaning that the Holy Spirit is the guarantee given to us by God that our salvation is real even now. We shall come to a full redemption in the age to come.
See Ephesians 4:30—And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. This means, “Don’t let your life be an occasion of grief or sorrow for God’s Spirit.” The word grieve is from the Greek lupéo which means to bring distress, or vexation, or pain to someone. As we proceed through the following days, we will deal with some matters that may still work in a believer and cause grief to the Holy Spirit. Since He dwells in us, matters of grief to Him may arise from things hidden in us. They may be things never known to those around us—until they eventually work their way to the surface of our lives. And this they are most likely to do.
FATHER, please cause Your Spirit to keep a constant watch over my spirit. I’ve seen in the past that I could easily open myself to some unclean spirit. Please don’t let me become so weary, or discouraged, or upset that I let the door become open to anything that will grieve You. I want nothing in me that will disqualify me for function in Your Kingdom.
Taking Care Not to Trod Under Foot God’s Grace Given Us in Christ Jesus —Hebrews 10:26-29
Day 22—God’s Grace is Sufficient for the Wrongs that May Lie in Us
Most people who have wrong things hidden in them do their best to keep them out of sight. But, hiding anything in us that belongs to the realm of Satan is like having a magnet in us. It will draw the anti-Christ spirits that are in the world. This is very dangerous, especially as we are coming near the end of the age. Wrong things, even though hidden, in us will make us liable to failure when the time of trouble comes on. David, Daniel, Jesus and Paul all told of this time. Read the Scriptures we list below.
For the rest of this month, we will take into account the list of wrongs that Paul presents in Ephesians 4:25-32. When we see them, it will be no wonder that he has told about the grace of God. Because, we know God’s grace, we don’t have to be in despair when we go through the list. Any of them that have a place in us will meet more than their match in that grace.
FATHER, I don’t want anything left in me that will grieve You. My supplication today is that Your Spirit will search me and try me. Find out any wicked thing that may be hiding in my spirit. Let nothing remain in me that my rise up in some of my weak moments and do damage to my loved ones, or to my friends. Please bring the controlling power of Your Spirit into the deep parts of my spirit. I want to be pure, even to the deepest part of me.
Grace is stronger than sin.—Psalm 119:133; Romans 6:14; I John 3:8,9
Words about the End from David, Daniel, Jesus and Paul—Psalm 27:5; Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:21; I Timothy 4:1
Day 23—Getting Rid of the Lie Brought on by Satan Is Near the Top of the List.
We need some pretty strong understanding with regard to this first statement from Paul. Let’s see it from the King James Version. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another—Ephesians 4:25.
When I gained my first glimpse of this in the Original, it took my special attention. I noted that the word lying is a Noun with a Definite Article. This means it should read “the lie.” This means a specific lie. Right away I supposed it had reference to the original lie from the serpent in Eden. Our Parents embraced it. Its poison has come through all the human race. We can read about it in Genesis 3:1-5. One of the earliest articles I ever wrote—over twenty-five years ago—was about this. It was never given out except to a very few. I remember reading it before a congregation of believers one night and the Holy Spirit fell upon us before I could even finish it. I hope I can find it so it can be republished for this hour.
But, for the present, let me admonish you to renounce “the lie.” Let the grace and power resident in the grace of God’s Kingdom work to set you free from it’s power.
And—let me further admonish you to ask the Lord to place within you the love of the truth, mentioned by Paul in that very important passage, II Thessalonians 2:11,12.
GRACIOUS LORD, I have not had enough understanding to deal with “the lie” that came upon us from Satan. But, this is one thing for certain: I want to be free from its stronghold in my life. Work in my family, in these friends that I hold dear. Work in our government leaders. Draw us all into the Truth of Your Kingdom. Let Your Truth reign in us. And DEAR LORD, place in my heart the love of the truth.
Four Passages that Tell of “The Lie”—John 8:44; Rom 1:25; Eph 4:25; II Thess 2:11
Day 24—The Danger of Holding on to Anger
God has given all of us the ability to become angry . It can be a productive thing, if allowed to do its proper work. It can lead to reformation and restoration when one allows it to give right direction. But, if we hold on to anger and do not let it lead us into a productive response, it can become very dangerous.
Let’s take a look at what Paul said about it in Ephesians 4:26. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath. This, in its most simple interpretation, means: “Don’t go to bed angry.” If we just get this much from the verse, it will serve us well. It must be, that if we allow anger to remain in us through a night of sleep, something can settle into our spirit that we’ll find very hard to shake off. That’s when anger becomes dangerous.
Some people are able, because of their personality type, to keep anger under control and just let it simmer beneath the surface. The problem with this is that it may explode at some time much later—even years later—and do some really terrible damage. There are people in prison today because they let anger stay in them through the night and it just settled into them waiting for an opportune time.
There are two things to do with anger. One, let it lead to something productive, like the woman who formed MAAD—”Mothers Against Drunk Driving.” The other is a simple response: forgive. This may take a lot of grace. But remember, there was enough grace in God’s bosom to forgive you. That didn’t even make a dent in the wonderful supply. He can supply far more grace than you need to forgive those who did you wrong.
DEAR LORD, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been angry. I grew up that way. But I sure don’t like being angry all the time. It’s ruining my life. Today, I renounce this anger that has controlled me. I call on You for the grace to let go of it. I just want to start loving people instead of finding all their faults.
Jesus had some very strong teaching on forgiveness.—Matthew 6:14,15
Day 25—Giving Up on the Devil’s Ways
The next point in Paul’s list that can, really, only be effectively dealt with by the grace of God, is stated Ephesians 4:27. The King James Version gives it as: Neither give place to the devil. It’s interesting to note that the word translated place—in the Greek New Testament its tópos—means “a limited spot.” That means not even a tiny place, even some spot hidden back in the corner of our soul.
It’s interesting to note that Martin Luther, the great Reformation leader, gave the word diábolos—which we have translated as devil in the above verse—the meaning of “slander.” The word diábolos occurs in the Greek New Testament a total of thirty-eight times, thirty-five of these with reference to the devil himself. The word literally means “a treacherous informer” or “someone who strikes another with accusation and slander.”
We can see that the word diábolos gives us a pretty good picture of who the devil is. He has many personalities, any of which he is looking to deposit on some tiny spot in the spirits of believers. A tendency to slander someone else gives him a good landing spot.
Taking knowledge of this point in his character, we can see that his slander can work in two ways. One is that he will take any ground available to him to bring accusation against the one in whom he gains the ground. The other is that he will use that one to bring slander and accusation against someone else. We’re ready to take all ground from him!
DEAR LORD, please search—my being, my spirit, my emotions, my mind, my will, my conscience—and find any place I’ve given ground to the enemy. I look to the power of Your grace, and of the redemption, to bring me deliverance. I ask this, as in all my praying, in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus revealed how the devil hates the Word of the Kingdom.—Matthew 13:18,19
Day 26—Refusing to Steal Anymore
Now, there’s an issue in the lives of many people. See this: Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth—Ephesians 4:28. There is absolutely no place in a believer’s life for taking what belongs to another, not even if it is public property.
Believers who allow this issue to go unresolved in their lives are, in fact, leaving a door open for the devil to walk right in and set up camp where he can put all sorts of wild and evil devices into operation inside the one in whom he has this ground. Even if you think someone has more than they need, and if you have a need that can be met by stealing something they have, you’re still playing into the hands of the devil. Paul discovered this principle about having our needs met—and I can tell you it works! He said, But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus—Philippians 4:19.
Years ago I felt I had an overwhelming need. I poured out my complaint before the Lord, and He heard me. He said to me, “What does My Word say?” I knew right away what He meant and told Him of Philippians 4:19.
He then said to me, “Then, why don’t you thank me?”
I did, simply on the basis of what His Word declares. That night a man came to me asking me to forgive him. He said, “The Lord told me to give this to you last night and I was disobedient.” He then handed me the exact amount I needed. God abideth faithful!
DEAR FATHER, it has been a difficult thing for me to overcome worrying about how my needs will be met. Sometimes I’ve given in to taking what does not belong to me. As of this day, I renounce even the thought of ever doing this again. I am ready to believe in Your faithfulness. I will demonstrate this by becoming someone who gives to others. I’ll be a giver, not a taker.
Learn all of these. Hold them in your heart.
—I Cor 1:9; I Cor 10:13; I Thes 5:24; II Thes II 3:3; Tim 2:13
Day 27—Letting God’s Grace Give Us a New Way of Talking
There is now another matter that needs resolving in the lives of many believers. Much of it comes from old habits. Before we consider what it is, let us remember all we’ve been learning about the power of God’s grace. There is no habit brought over from our old way of living that has more power than the grace of God that is making us into new persons. Let’s get this understanding settled in our hearts and minds. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (“there is a new creation”): old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new—II Corinthians 5:17.
What we are ready to consider in the unfolding revelation of Ephesians has to do with our speech. See this: Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers—Ephesians 4:29. To get a good understanding in this verse, let us see what the word corrupt means. It is from the Greek saproś which means “rotten, putrid, depraved, impure, of a bad quality.” It’s stuff that’s just plain nasty. Some people, even believers, are in such habit of talking this way that even their breath smells foul. The grace of God is ready to remove this!
The Holy Spirit will give us a way of speech that will cause other people to want the same Jesus we know. The word edifying in the above verse means “building up.” Nothing builds up another person like words of grace.
FATHER, I’m sorry for the way I’ve talked. I want my mouth to speak words that minister grace to those who hear me. From what Jesus taught in the above Scripture, I see it must begin in my heart. So, please send Your Spirit through all the avenues of my heart. Set me free from spiritual uncleanness, so none of it will ever again come from me. Work Your Truth into me so that what I speak will come forth to edify those who hear me.
Day 28—Learning to Make the Holy Spirit Happy
The Holy Spirit is the One Who has brought the grace of God into our lives. He has come to us straight from the Throne of the Majesty on high. Now—Paul speaks to us of our bringing grief to Him. For sure, we do not want to ever do this again! See what Paul said: And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption—Ephesians 4:30.
Oh, there are so many ways to grieve the Holy Spirit! We can do it through outright disobedience to His guidance. We can grieve Him by holding on to old practices that were common to our walk before we were saved. And then, there are countless things that come up nearly everyday that try to make us walk contrary to Him.
Grieve is from a word that means “to be the occasion of sorrow, or trouble, to anyone.” The Holy Spirit has been the One who has come to set us free from grief, sorrow and trouble—if we will but allow Him to do it. How can we think of causing Him grief?
One more thing: how do we get Him to set us free from things that grieve Him? Well, we can begin by asking Him. That’s a pretty good way. Don’t you think so?
PRECIOUS LORD, You have sent Your Spirit from Your Throne on high. What mercy! What love! What grace! Today—oh yes, today!—I open my heart anew to the powerful and gracious Gift that He is. I want Him to take over in my life, like never before. I’m facing some things that are pretty hard for me to handle, certainly not with joy. I’m ready for His fruit to grow in me. I need the love, the peace, the gentleness, the goodness, the faithfulness, the meekness and the self-control Your Spirit brings. And, oh yes, I nearly forgot. I really do need the ability to be longsuffering.
Day 29—Letting Go of Bitterness—and All the Things That Accompany It
If you haven’t read our book Putting Off the Old Man, then please request it and take in what it has to say. We hear from many people who have read it over and over. It deals with four great things that will try to work in a believer’s life and bring misery. They are distraction, accusation, resentment and bitterness. I write about these four things pretty well. I’ve had to deal with them in my own life. And—I can tell you the truth: there is victory to be had.
About forty years ago I had some bitterness down inside me that was trying to ruin my life. A brother who knew the power of the Holy Spirit chased me down and laid hands on me—with my permission, of course—and broke its power. What a freedom came to me!
Paul gives us a list of things that go with bitterness. Through the grace and power of the Lord, we can be free from all of them. Here’s his list: Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor and evil speaking (blasphemy), be put away from you, with all malice—Ephesians 4:31.
Just let us take note of one more thing in this list. It’s the evil speaking, which is from the Greek blasphemía. Clearly, it means “blasphemy.” It is one of the primary works of the anti-Christ whose job it will be to blaspheme Christ. We DO NOT want any dark thing from his realm to remain in us! Amen!
LORD, how can I hold bitterness in my heart? You were tried as a criminal, scourged, hanged on a cross till You died, and You just wanted forgiveness for those who did it all to you. I’ve been bitter on things that are really petty. There’s no comparison. Oh, forgive me for this! I renounce these feelings I’ve held toward people who hurt me far less than those who hurt you. I give myself over to Your healing grace. I give myself over to the power of Your Kingdom,—and to the authority of Your Kingdom. Let it rule in me.
Day 30—Letting Kindness Rule
Sometimes it’s hard to be kind to everyone. But there are reasons to try. Actually, there are reasons to let kindness rule in us, even toward those who aren’t kind to us. We have at least two factors that will make being kind profitable. We could make the list much longer than two, but we just don’t have room here. So, we’ll make do with at least two. One is that it will make us feel better about ourselves if we’re kind to others, even to those who aren’t kind to us.
Another profitable thing about being kind is that whenever we are, we are taking on a quality that was in God when He saved us. We see it here in what Paul said to Titus: At one time we too acted like fools. We didn’t obey God. We were tricked. We were controlled by all kinds of longings and pleasures. We were full of evil. We wanted what belongs to others. People hated us, and we hated one another. But the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared. He saved us. This is from Titus 3:3-5 as it appears in the New International Reader’s Version.
Peter had a grasp on this in a passage I suggest that you spend some time with today. It’s II Peter 1:2-11. Find in this passage how he tells of our being partakers of the divine nature. And find how he admonishes us to add brotherly kindness to godliness. You will really want go on to see how he tells of the entrance that shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
FATHER, I am amazed at how kind You have been to me. Please let some of that kindness move on through me to touch others. Give me to some fresh challenges to spread this kindness. And as I spread it, let it work toward bringing others to know You. Here are some I know who really do need You. Please prepare their hearts, and prepare mine for when I come into contact with them.
Day 31—Continuing On With Kindness
We didn’t get to what Paul had to say about kindness yesterday. So, let’s get right to it today. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you—Ephesians 4:32.
When I was a little boy in Sunday School one of the “memory verses” we learned was, “Be ye kind one to another.” That’s so simple a matter that even little children can learn it and know something of what it means. Yet, it comes from the very middle of one of the most profound Books in the New Testament. And let’s take note of this. It comes after the Apostle has laid out the absolutely profound first three chapters of Ephesians. In these chapters we have the foundation for our knowing the indwelling Christ.
While kindness is a principle of life a little child can know, the real basis for its movement through us comes from the grace of God that was extended to us in Christ Jesus. Little children can show kindness out of their innocence. But for us who have lived and sinned and done many unkind things through life, we desperately need the working of God’s grace in order for kindness to come back into us. It will. Let’s let it.
For additional reading, take on Ephesians 2:4-7. This brings us back around to The Ephesians Connection. But it takes us further. It takes us on into the ages to come when we will get to know the exceeding riches of God’s grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
GRACIOUS LORD, You are absolutely marvelous! What grace You have already shown us! I praise You for loving me and holding on to me when I really was not being a very good person. And now, to think that in the ages to come there is more! Your grace goes on with us into eternity! Will it ever end? I’m sure it won’t.
Thank You, LORD JESUS,
for redeeming my life from destruction
and for giving me a purpose in Your Kingdom.
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