Monday, February 20, 2017
February 20: Danger in the Sphere of Influence
Leviticus 7:1–8:36; John 7:45–52; Song of Solomon 6:1–5
Leadership is like a bright spotlight; when the heat intensifies, it’s difficult to conceal the areas where we fail. But that’s where true character is revealed.
The Pharisees didn’t fare well with the pressure of authority. We can see why Jesus had such compassion for the masses by observing the Pharisees’ behavior in John 7. After Jesus claimed to be the source of life and ratcheted up the conflict, the Pharisees became angry. Sensing that their authority was slipping, they judged Jesus before they had a chance to give Him a hearing. They intimidated Nicodemus, harshly rebuked the captains and cursed the people: “this crowd who does not know the law is accursed!” (John 7:49).
Those who hold positions of authority have great influence—a reason why bad authority can be so detrimental: “Not many should become teachers, my brother because you know that we will receive a greater judgment” (Jas 3:1). But influence isn’t relegated to leaders, supervisors, or pastors. Anyone who has a measure of influence over others should carefully consider how they use that trust.
When we have earthly teachers who let us down, we can turn to God, our heavenly teacher. For those who were under the heavy hand of the Pharisees, Jesus’ words must have been as refreshing and soothing as the water He spoke of: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and let him drink, the one who believes in me” (John 7:37–38).
How are you using your authority to lead others to Christ? How can you seek out forgiveness from those you may have harmed?
Rebecca Van Noord
Barry, John D., and Rebecca Kruyswijk. Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012. Print.
Morning, February 20 Go To Evening Reading
“God, that comforteth those that are cast down.”
—2 Corinthians 7:6
And who comforteth like him? Go to some poor, melancholy, distressed child of God; tell him sweet promises, and whisper in his ear choice words of comfort; he is like the deaf adder, he listens not to the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely. He is drinking gall and wormwood, and comfort him as you may, it will be only a note or two of mournful resignation that you will get from him; you will bring forth no psalms of praise, no hallelujahs, no joyful sonnets. But let God come to his child, let him lift up his countenance, and the mourner’s eyes glisten with hope. Do you not hear him sing—
“’Tis paradise, if thou art here;
If thou depart, ’tis hell?”
You could not have cheered him: but the Lord has done it; “He is the God of all comfort.” There is no balm in Gilead, but there is balm in God. There is no physician among the creatures, but the Creator is Jehovah-rophi. It is marvellous how one sweet word of God will make whole songs for Christians. One word of God is like a piece of gold, and the Christian is the gold beater, and can hammer that promise out for whole weeks. So, then, poor Christian, thou needest not sit down in despair. Go to the Comforter, and ask him to give thee consolation. Thou art a poor dry well. You have heard it said, that when a pump is dry, you must pour water down it first of all, and then you will get water, and so, Christian, when thou art dry, go to God, ask him to shed abroad his joy in thy heart, and then thy joy shall be full. Do not go to earthly acquaintances, for you will find them Job’s comforters after all; but go first and foremost to thy “God, that comforteth those that are cast down,” and you will soon say, “In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.”
Go To Morning Reading Evening, February 20
“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.”
A holy character does not avert temptation—Jesus was tempted. When Satan tempts us, his sparks fall upon tinder; but in Christ’s case, it was like striking sparks on water; yet the enemy continued his evil work. Now, if the devil goes on striking when there is no result, how much more will he do it when he knows what inflammable stuff our hearts are made of. Though you become greatly sanctified by the Holy Ghost, expect that the great dog of hell will bark at you still. In the haunts of men we expect to be tempted, but even seclusion will not guard us from the same trial. Jesus Christ was led away from human society into the wilderness, and was tempted of the devil. Solitude has its charms and its benefits, and may be useful in checking the lust of the eye and the pride of life; but the devil will follow us into the most lovely retreats. Do not suppose that it is only the worldly-minded who have dreadful thoughts and blasphemous temptations, for even spiritual-minded persons endure the same; and in the holiest position we may suffer the darkest temptation. The utmost consecration of spirit will not insure you against Satanic temptation. Christ was consecrated through and through. It was his meat and drink to do the will of him that sent him: and yet he was tempted! Your hearts may glow with a seraphic flame of love to Jesus, and yet the devil will try to bring you down to Laodicean lukewarmness. If you will tell me when God permits a Christian to lay aside his armour, I will tell you when Satan has left off temptation. Like the old knights in war time, we must sleep with helmet and breastplate buckled on, for the arch-deceiver will seize our first unguarded hour to make us his prey. The Lord keep us watchful in all seasons, and give us a final escape from the jaw of the lion and the paw of the bear.
Spurgeon, Charles H. Morning and Evening: Daily Readings. Complete and unabridged; New modern edition. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006. Print.
The initiative against dreaming
Arise, let us go hence. John 14:31.
Dreaming about a thing in order to do it properly is right; but dreaming about it when we should be doing it is wrong. After Our Lord had said those wonderful things to His disciples, we might have expected that He would tell them to go away and meditate over them all; but Our Lord never allowed ‘mooning.’ When we are getting into contact with God in order to find out what He wants, dreaming is right; but when we are inclined to spend our time in dreaming over what we have been told to do, it is a bad thing and God’s blessing is never on it. God’s initiative is always in the nature of a stab against this kind of dreaming, the stab that bids us “neither sit nor stand but go.”
If we are quietly waiting before God and He has said—“Come ye yourselves apart,” then that is meditation before God in order to get at the line He wants; but always beware of giving over to mere dreaming when once God has spoken. Leave Him to be the source of all your dreams and joys and delights, and go out and obey what He has said. If you are in love, you do not sit down and dream about the one you love all the time, you go and do something for him; and that is what Jesus Christ expects us to do. Dreaming after God has spoken is an indication that we do not trust Him.
Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986. Print.
By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed
Whither he went, he knew not; it was enough for him to know that he went with God. He leaned not so much upon the promises as upon the Promiser. He looked not on the difficulties of his lot, but on the King, eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, who had deigned to appoint his course, and would certainly vindicate Himself. O glorious faith! This is thy work, these are thy possibilities: contentment to sail with sealed orders, because of unwavering confidence in the love and wisdom of the Lord High Admiral: willinghood to rise up, leave all, and follow Christ, because of the glad assurance that earth’s best cannot bear comparison with Heaven’s least.
F. B. Meyer
Hardman, Samuel G., and Dwight Lyman Moody. Thoughts for the Quiet Hour. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing, 1997. Print.