The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord's Day 48
123. Question: What is the second petition?
Answer: Thy kingdom come. That is: So rule us by Thy Word and Spirit that more and more we submit to Thee. Preserve and increase Thy church. Destroy the works of the devil, every power that raises itself against Thee, and every conspiracy against Thy holy Word. Do all this until the fullness of Thy kingdom comes, wherein Thou shalt be all in all.
 Ps. 119:5, 105; 143:10; Matt. 6:33.  Ps. 51:18; 122:6-9; Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:42-47.  Rom. 16:20; I John 3:8.  Rom. 8:22, 23; I Cor. 15:28; Rev. 22: 17, 20.
CLICK HERE to listen to this week's devotional on the Walking Points Podcast or listen to it on your favorite podcast platform. There's always extra content on the audio version that I pray will bless you.
Every Christian needs a half hour of prayer each day, except when he is busy, then he needs an hour. (St. Francis of Sales)
This Week’s Scripture
· Genesis 37:1-28
· Psalm 105
· Romans 10:1-15
· Matthew 14:22-23
Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us (verse 1)
Savior, like a shepherd lead us, much we need thy tender care;
in thy pleasant pastures feed us, for our use thy folds prepare.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Thou hast bought us, thine we are.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Thou hast bought us, thine we are.
Take time now to offer God your praise and worship.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Romans 10:9-10)
Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of those who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, truly lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wickedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (The Book of Worship for Church and Home)
As David did in Psalm 139, ask the Lord to search you and know you through and through. Confess the sins God brings to mind, knowing you are forgiven and that He will cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
God of salvation, I thank you with all that I am for reaching down and redeeming me. Indeed, I am grateful for those you placed throughout my life who brought your good news to me. Because you sent them with the gospel, they were able to faithfully proclaim it. Because they faithfully proclaimed it, I was able to hear it. And because I was able to hear it, through your gracious work, I was able to believe in Christ my Savior and Lord. I pray almighty God that you would use me on behalf of others, just as others served you on my behalf. In the name of the risen Christ I pray. Amen. (based on Romans 10:14-15)
Spend some time reflecting on the prayer of thanksgiving above and then thank God for who he is and the many ways he has poured out his goodness and grace in your life.
Supplication (Petitions – prayers for yourself)
· My personal mission field
Ø Help me to identify those people who make up my personal mission field.
Ø Enable me to begin sharing the gospel with those who do not yet know you.
Ø Empower me to disciple those who are young in their faith.
Ø Allow me to encourage those who are struggling in their faith.
Ø Please give me perseverance in all areas of ministry.
· Today’s events and interactions with others, planned and unplanned
· Other needs
Supplication (Intercession – prayers for others)
· My family
· For missionaries throughout the world
· For those seeking to faithfully minister to loved ones at home
· For those who share the gospel in the inner city
· For those who bear witness to Christ in places of power
· Other needs
Be to the world a sign that while we are Christians do not have all the answers, we do know and care about the questions. (Billy Graham)
CLICK HERE to listen to this week's devotional on the Walking Points Podcast, or listen to it on your favorite podcast platform. There's always extra content on the audio version that I pray will bless you.
James 1:2-4 – Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Painful Tests and Trials
Several years ago, the men's study at our church studied James 1:1-12. We spent most of our time discussing our need to persevere during times of tests and trials, for this is a significant way in which God produces in us the character of Christ. It is one of God’s ordained means to help us grow into his “mature and complete” children.
Most of us readily acknowledge how hard, even painful, tests and trials are. We would certainly prefer not to have to experience them. That was the testimony of many of the men who shared a little of what they had been through, or were going through, in their lives.
Another Kind of Test and Trial
Shortly after that lesson I had a thought one evening as I was getting ready for bed. It occurred to me that perhaps not all of our tests and trials should be categorized as painful, though they may still be considered quite hard. The ESV Study Bible says that trials are “tests” that challenge our faith. They’re designed to create spiritual maturity in us. It goes on to say that as Jesus was tested in the wilderness, so too are his followers. We know God does not tempt us to sin. Temptation seeks to lead us into disobedience and sin. Tests are used to build us up in our faith. Could this be what James meant when he used the phrase, “trials of many kinds?” Could it be God sometimes tests us even through our really good and happy circumstances as well?
Suppose I had four healthy, happy, and full-of-life children. Furthermore, suppose these four children gave me great joy and nothing pleased me more than pouring my life into theirs – even sacrificially. But what if this true and right expression of love and commitment for my children went too far? What if this love for these four precious children actually began, slowly but ever so surely, to turn into idolatry? What if they became more important to me than God himself?
Such love and commitment would not be good at all. In fact, such love and commitment would become sin in my life. Why? Because I would, quite literally, be putting other gods before the one true God. Could it be that God tests us through such good and positive relationships, things, circumstances, and opportunities in our lives?
My Clear and Present Danger
My hypothetical description regarding my four children is not hypothetical at all. I have four such children and I treasure them. I have had to, on many occasions, ask God to help me not put my children before him. In my unguarded moments, I could essentially turn them into little idols.
The same could be true for all of us, whether we’re talking about our families, jobs, status, health, success, ingenuity, etc. Each of these could be little tests to determine whom we are worshipping, to see whom we love most?
The Reason for Trials
Why are we given trials? According to James it is to help us grow in our faith – to become more like Christ – to develop into mature and complete children of God, lacking nothing. But it’s awfully hard to become such faithfully devoted followers of Christ when we love other people or things more than we love him. It’s impossible to follow and serve God correctly when God’s not even in our top five priorities, much lesson number one.
It’s little wonder that Jesus declared we cannot serve two masters. It’s no wonder he said we must seek God and his righteousness first. It’s not hard to figure out why God’s first commandment to us was that we’re to put no other gods before Him. And it’s not surprising to understand why the Apostle John’s last verse of his first epistle reads thusly,
1 John 5:21 – Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.
Because of our fallenness, we have a propensity to put other people, places, things, circumstances, opportunities, feelings, emotions, thoughts, attitudes, etc., ahead of God. And anything that is in God’s place is not merely neutral – it’s an idol - an idol of the heart.
Be On Guard
The really good things God graciously blesses us with could be listed under James' category of “trials of many kinds.” It’s true we don’t think of them as trials. It’s also true they are not necessarily painful to go through. But it’s equally true that these sorts of trials can be gruelingly difficult, even if we’re not aware we’re going through them, or perhaps, especially if we’re not aware of it.
Therefore, to increasingly mature in our faith and become more like Christ, we must realize God’s tests and trials can take many shapes and sizes. We must be vigilantly on guard. For it’s critically important for us to persevere through such tests and trials so that we “may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” And by God’s grace, I pray it will be so for you.
Gracious God, I give you thanks that you are good and holy and that you do not tempt us into sin. You are not the author of our sin, but righteousness. When you test us it is always to help us grow in our faith, not so we may stumble and fall. Tests and trials of various kinds are ways in which we may discover our shortcomings and weaknesses and, therefore, seek you – your wisdom, strength, and grace to persevere and grow. Please help me to endure the hard times I go through, so that by doing so you may be glorified and others may be blessed as they see you upholding me during those tough times. And yet Lord, let me also persevere in faithfulness during the good times in my life. Enable me by your Spirit to take note of your blessings in my life and give thanks to you for them without coming to love and desire them more than you. Thank you for the good gifts in my life O Lord, for they are from you. In Christ I pray. Amen.
This is Lesson 6: Philip the Evangelist, Part 1. This lesson focuses on Acts 8:1-40.
The second half of Lesson 5, which focuses on Stephen. Acts 6:8-7:60.
Click image above to subscribe to my newsletter.
Thanks for stopping by. Learn more about me, my ministry, and this website by clicking here.
Please visit my bookstore
Click, Listen, and Subscribe to My Podcast
Connect and/or Follow for more content...
The Book of Acts
Click the image above to order this book and study guide about the most important person you will ever meet.
Click image above to learn more about and order this follow-up to "Lord of All."
Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path: (Proverbs 23:19)
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.