8 Minute Read

Be Still

To the best of your ability, get rid of all distractions. Take a couple of minutes to breathe deeply, to quiet yourself in the Lord’s presence. Then, prayerfully ask the Lord to speak to you in this time and let Him know that you will be listening and will make whatever adjustments He will reveal to you.

Today’s Bible Reading:

Jeremiah 8:8–9:26
Colossians 3:1-17
Psalm 78:32-55
Proverbs 24:27

Listen to the Lord

Slowly and reflectively read the following verses and listen to what God will say to you through them. Then, consider writing down any insights He reveals to you.

Colossians 3:13 (NLT): “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”

Reflections from Scripture:

As we read our Bibles, we are often confronted with the reality that we cannot live the life that God has called us to live. Among other reasons, this is because we simply cannot obey His commandments to the degree that He has called us to obey them.

For instance, you may have just read today’s Bible readings. But, did you really pay attention to Colossians 3:13?

Colossians 3:13 (NLT): “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”

If we think that we are living up to that standard, we are ill-informed about the actual condition of our hearts. Absolutely none of us can completely forgive and love as Jesus did. He loved even those people who lived in perpetual opposition to God and actively worked toward His destruction and death. 

As men surrounded Jesus who had cried out for His death and who had nailed Him to the rugged cross, Jesus looked on them with compassion and said: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34).

Friend, can you forgive to that level? I cannot. To be completely honest, I don’t have it in me.

So, then why would God call us to live up to a standard that is impossible for us to obey? Does He want us to live in a constant state of frustration and self-loathing at our inability to comply with His good commands?

No. Of course not. God loves us too much to set us up for failure.

So, what is God doing when He gives us commands that are impossible for us to comply with?

Simply put, God’s standards are a clear reminder that we are no more able, on our own, to live the Christian life after we are saved than before we are saved. The only way we can live up to His standard of holiness is to realize that it requires our dependence upon and submission to Jesus, who lives inside every believer in the person of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9). We cannot obey God’s commands, but Jesus in us can and will if we depend entirely upon and submit to Him.

So, friend, are you trying to live the Christian life in your own strength? Good luck with that and get accustomed to failure.

But, if you realize that you cannot do it, but Jesus in you can, and as you, moment-by-moment, depend upon Him to live His life out through you, you will experience spiritual victory much more often. But, you won’t be filled with pride at your growing degree of holiness. Instead, you will be filled with gratitude for what Jesus is doing in and through you.

Galatians 2:20 (NLT): “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Spend Time in Prayer

Lord Jesus, I realize that trusting in You isn’t simply what I have done in the past to be saved. Trusting You is what I must do daily to allow You to live Your life out through me. Help me do my part by spending time in Your Word, prayer, and dependence upon You. But help me to rely entirely upon You for the desire and strength to obey You. I pray this in Your Name, Amen.

Matt Ellis is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida (fbcpolkcity.com). His latest book is God’s Grace in the Real World. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

Photo by Alicia Quan on Unsplash