December 4

Isaiah 55:7-9 (NIV) 7Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. 8"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. 9"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

The cry of God is for us to come to Him. This chapter begins pleading for us to come and take the water and bread of life freely. He pleads for us to seek the LORD, and then begins to give this summary of why we need to come to God. We have gone our own way. Man has decided he does not need his Creator. God has graciously directed man in a way that is not self-destructive, but man refuses to walk in it. We are arrogant enough to think we can come up with a better and more satisfying way. That is the same problem Eve had in the Garden. Our lusting eyes and confused mind lead us into a way that is opposed to the way of God.

Our thoughts that are not yielded to the Spirit of God are the beginning of this downward spiral. God actually wants us to think His thoughts. A life yielded to the Spirit thinks God's thoughts, thoughts in line with the character of God. We cannot keep a thought from passing through our mind, but we can decide not to dwell on it.

This is God's charge against man: our ways and thoughts are not His ways and thoughts. His are pure. Ours are corrupt. His are good and just. Ours are evil and self-serving. He actually wants us to forsake our ways and thoughts and take in the life of the Son. We are to have the mind of Christ. Does this sound impossible? Jesus died to make it possible for the Spirit of God to live in you.

Consider: If you have received Him, simply let the Word of God live in you richly. His life will shine through you as you walk in His ways and yield your mind to His thoughts.

December 4

1 Peter 2:5,9,11 (NIV) 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

11Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.

Peter tells us what God is doing with our lives. He is making us into a spiritual house in which He can live through His Spirit. In this analogy, he is not referring to us individually, but as a group. We should be interconnected to the work and ministry of others in the family of God. Like the priests of old, we minister to God by bringing sacrifices, but instead of animals, we bring sacrifices of praise for bringing us out of darkness and into His wonderful light. They are acceptable because they come through Jesus our Savior.

God is making us into a royal and holy priesthood. What He intended to do with Israel, He is now accomplishing in us. Israel could not be a priestly nation because they did not have the Holy Spirit within them. They could not see how much they needed God. The flesh can never accomplish the will of God.

Because we have this high and holy calling, we should not follow the example of ancient Israel that was ensnared by their sinful desires. As a nation, they lost the war over their souls. As a nation, let us live as aliens and strangers here, knowing that we are just passing through this world. Let us abstain from those sinful desires that would take us down the same road to ruin that Israel took.

Consider: Am I compromising with the enemy in any area of my life? As a stranger and alien here, what should I do about it?