Bring some Spirit-filled peace into your hectic schedule every weekday morning with this new Daily Devotional.
- Start your day with God
- Renew your spirit
- Refocus your faith
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My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.
I’ve accompanied a few people through the final stages of their mortality. Though their body may grow weak, fading in and out of sleep and reality, I have seen them remain steadfast in spirit. Despite their self-evident frailty, they give off a sense of settled dignity. These have been close Christian friends so perhaps I’d expect to see such a positive departure. I hear other reports where individuals struggle badly and have a difficult death. This is not to do with the nature of the medical intervention available, but everything to do with their preparedness to say goodbye to mortality.
Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth.
Maybe it’s is an attribute of ageing, but my desire for material things has declined with the passing years. I am no less intrigued by contemporary debates, nor less motivated by my walks and reflections, yet birthdays and Christmases come and go, and I struggle to think of anything I want. Another consequence of ageing is the loss of friends and connections as illness and age closeout mortal lives, some far too soon, from my human perspective. It raises thoughts about what it might be like to be alone in a fast-paced world managing one’s own declining health.
You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.
We face thousands of decisions daily. Some decisions are habitual, others driven from life objectives. For example, if I want to avoid the risk of Type 2 diabetes it’s a good idea to remove refined sugar from my diet. Yet, to do so requires a discipline that will only become active if I believe in the ‘facts’ about sugar and truly want to reduce that risk. Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, lost seven stone in 2018 and is off medication. He gave up junk food and refined sugar and took up cycling and running. Commitment is measured by the actions I take; those actions are influenced by the counsel I accept.
Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand.
Despite our behaviour, sin and rebellion, God refuses to let go and discard us. In his book [itals]Lies We Believe About God[end itals] (Atria Books), Wm Paul Young (best known as the author of [itals]The Shack[end itals]), writes: “God is never disillusioned by you; God never had any illusions about you in the first place.”
Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. I was so foolish and ignorant – I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.
My life stagnated for a period as I refused to accept my difficult lot in life. I ran full tilt into a roadblock around which there was no detour. God failed to answer my prayers for deliverance from unwelcome and uninvited circumstances. I was thrashing around in anger and pain, hoping I wouldn’t drown. I was incapable of seeing that I was embittered, striking out at others, including God. It just seemed unfair. I compared myself with the experiences of those around me and felt hard done by.
All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth.
We are probably all familiar with motivational quotes that adorn office walls. These statements can stir our imagination and inspire us for a moment. However, they lack power to mobilise us to pursue a dream. In fact, too many of us literally coast through life and reach retirement wondering where all those years have suddenly gone and what they really amounted to. That is because, unlike the heroes of the faith the writer to the Hebrews describes, we don’t know what we are aiming for with our life.
We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)
I know of two families who face an uncertain future as, in each case, a life hangs in the balance because of cancer. When our dreams and possibilities shrink away because of such unbearable realities, what are we to make of God’s promises? Where do we find hope within our experience of hopelessness? For many of us this is our greatest fear.
As for me, I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me.
God is forgiveness. We cannot justify or excuse our past mistakes or sinful behaviour. God forgives and forgets. Memory is located in my brain alone. If I tell God about a past sin, he doesn’t know to what I refer. Yet, I’m agonising over what I dislike about myself, or my reactions to people or situations. I’m investing time and effort in unproductive reflections. Better to look to God, acknowledging I struggle with certain attitudes and events, yet placing my confidence in God’s ability to work with me in navigating the course of my life.
So now, come back to your God. Act with love and justice, and always depend on him.
The wheels had come off during a really tough time in my life. I felt bereft of all love, human and divine, when a wise Christian senior, for whom I had a lot of respect, phoned me. He was the epitome of holiness. I knew that he and his wife both suffered physically from chronic illness. He asked me how I was doing, pressed his point and asked me if I being speaking honestly to God. This was a challenge because I’d virtually sent God to Coventry! Then he said something I’ll never forget: “I speak very honestly to God, for life is very difficult. At times I use most unparliamentary language!”
Then Joshua told the people, “Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do great wonders among you.”
Canadian Wayne Gretzky, widely regarded as the greatest-ever ice hockey player is renowned for this quote, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” Gretzky here describes for me the way of the Christian disciple.