October 4

Psalms 28:7-9 (NIV) 7The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. 8The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. 9Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Most of us would not consider shepherding a training ground for a national leader. That was God's choice to train David. When the bear and lion came to tear the flock, David knew his strength was not sufficient. He learned to rely on the strength of the Lord. When his heart trusted in the LORD he found help and ended up writing a song of victory to the LORD.

He goes on to say the LORD is your strength, too. He knew it was true for everyone, for he was just a commoner when he began to find the strength that comes from God. His shepherd heart asked God to save the people and bless them. He knew he could do his best, but only God can save and bless. Then he asked for a very deeply symbolical request. "Be their shepherd and carry them forever."

When a particular sheep would always wonder from the flock and get separated, it was in danger of being lost to predators. The shepherd had to exercise severe discipline to save the sheep's life. He would break the leg of the sheep and then reset it and carry that sheep until the leg healed. That sheep would grow so attached to the shepherd that it would never again stray. Sometimes the only way to save us is to take us through a difficulty that drives us to the LORD. As we cling to Him and He to us, we learn that is a wonderful place to be. When the difficulty passes, we find ourselves remaining there. Look at your painful experiences in the light of this picture and you will have a different perspective on it. Remember, the shepherd took on a burden for a period of time because he cared for the sheep.

Remember the expression, "This is going to hurt me a lot more than it does you?" It did. It does. Let that touch your heart today.

October 4

Ephesians 5:15-18 (NIV) 15Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. 18Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

We are supposed to have a new life in Christ, a new nature and heart. That does not mean that we are not susceptible to slipping back into the old nature or justifying compromise. Paul outlined, in this chapter, what the works of the flesh look like and warned them that living like that excluded them from any inheritance in the kingdom of God (vs 5). It guarantees wrath (vs 6).

Then he reminded them to live in the light, expressing the attributes of God. If we love darkness, we need to examine whether or not we have truly repented and been born again. We are to find out what pleases the Lord and live in those ways. It may be something different for each of us, but whatever it is, it will be in the light. That is wise living. It is living with the focus on eternity. Investing in the temporal is unwise living.

We have a limited time and number of opportunities. We should make as much of them as we can by the grace of God. The battle for souls is raging, and time is running out. Use the opportunities God gives you without fearing man. That is to understand what God's will is. The foolish miss the opportunities God gives them. The wise step into each one. They know that pleasing the Lord is eternally rewarding.

Drunkenness only dulls you to opportunities. Dulling the senses and weakening your inhibitions, it pulls you away from your potential and purpose. It is a substitute for the Spirit, a counterfeit. It allows the flesh to have an upper hand. Eventually, it will destroy you. Being filled with the Spirit is the opposite of drunkenness. It sharpens you to opportunity. It strengthens your boundaries. It helps you step into your potential and purpose. When the inevitable trials come, being filled with the Spirit will help you walk through them in victory.

Remember: This is an imperative command of Scripture: Be filled with the Spirit!