Day 26 Devotional Before United Prayer: (about 2:45 min reading)

Thank You for the Thorns!

You will come to the point that you actually thank God for the thorns in your life. Why? It is because of them that you experience the amazing delivering power of Christ. Because of them, Christ has become even more precious to you. You have found Him giving you ever-present victories over your temptations, and praises of Him fill your heart. 

You also rejoice in the thorns because they are opportunities for God’s glory to shine forth through you as Christ manifests His righteous life in and through you. They are opportunities for you to become more and more like Christ in those areas of your life as He manifests Himself more and more in your life.

James addressed this when he wrote:

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience [endurance]. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (James 1:2-4)

You will then experience what Paul describes “as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10). Even in the midst of the most difficult circumstances you will be able to rejoice because Jesus will manifest Himself in you. Your faith in Christ develops an endurance that will lead to Christ manifesting Himself in you fully. 

 

Personal Reading for Discussion 

Christ Manifest in the Flesh

You are the temple of God, and it is His desire to “dwell in you and walk in you” (2 Corinthians 6:16). Jesus wants to live out His life in you. He wants to manifest all His righteous virtues, character, and obedience in and through you. If you choose to turn from your temptations and trust Him to manifest Himself, He will. In fact, Christ will become so much a part of your mind, body, and soul that He, through you, will be once again manifest in the flesh—in your flesh. Ellen White described this experience.

All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God, as it is our privilege to know Him, our lives will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us. (Desire of Ages, 668) (emphasis added)

These words describe those who are ready to meet Jesus when He returns. When obeying Him, they will be simply carrying out their own impulses because Christ is fully manifest in and through them. Their lives will be a life of continual obedience because they allow Christ to live out His life in them continually. This is the high and holy calling God is giving to you today.

This is not a call to try harder or put forth more effort to obey. It is a call to be filled with His Spirit, choose to obey Him in all things, and let Christ manifest His righteousness in and through you. When you say yes to His call and learn how to let Christ live out His life in you, your Christian life will no longer be a burden. As recorded in the gospel of Matthew, Christ offered:

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your soul. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Referring to those who seek to serve God, Ellen White wrote:

The inexhaustible supplies of heaven are at their command. Christ gives them the breath of His own Spirit, the life of His own life. The Holy Spirit puts forth its highest energies to work in heart and mind. (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 6, 306)

Here we are told that the believer has Christ’s very life through the Holy Spirit’s presence, and that the Spirit brings about marvelous changes in the heart and mind of the believer. 

  1. J. Waggoner clearly taught the same thing:

This endless, spotless life Christ gives to all who believe on Him . . . Christ dwells in the hearts of all those who believe on Him . . . 

Christ, the light of the world, dwelling I the hearts of his followers, constitutes them the light of the world. Their light comes not from themselves, but from Christ, who dwells in them. Their lives are not from themselves; but it is the life of Christ manifest in their mortal flesh. See 2 Corinthians 4:11. This is what it is to live “a Christian life.” (Lessons on Faith, 66)

In another place, Ellen White explained the amazing miracle of transformation further.

When His words of instruction have been received, and have taken possession of us, Jesus is to us an abiding presence, controlling our thoughts, and ideas and actions . . . It is no more we that live, but Christ that liveth in us, and he is the hope of glory. Self is dead, but Christ is a living Saviour. (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 389)

Ellen White was very clear on the matter. She clearly stated that it is Jesus’ abiding presence that controls our thoughts, ideas, and actions. If we choose to believe that He will do this and believe our sinful nature’s power over us is dead, then Christ will most definitely live out His life in us. It is just that simple! 

As this process continues in believers’ lives who, for example, previously had impure thoughts whenever he saw a woman, especially if she was scantily dressed, will now have only pure thoughts when he sees such a woman. In situations where anger would have arisen in the past, there is no anger now. Where certain unhealthy foods would have triggered a craving, now there is no craving. These are examples as to how much Christ will be manifested in those who choose to let Him do so. The power of the sinful nature will be totally subdued, and Christ’s sinless nature will be totally dominant in the life.

However, it is important to remember this is a process. Such dramatic changes don’t usually happen instantly. We must daily grow in the experience of letting Christ live out His life in us. Concerning the process of Christ being formed in the life of the  believer he wrote: “My little children, of whom I travail in birth  again until Christ be formed in you,” Galatians 4:19 (emphasis added).  A. T. Jones wrote of this in the following way:

This [growing up into Christ in all things] is to be accomplished in you and me by growth; but there can be no growth where there is no life. This is growth in the knowledge of God, growth in the wisdom of God, growth in the character of God, growth in God; therefore, it can be only by the life of God. (Lessons on Faith, 148)

Day 26 Prayer Focus:  Pray for

  • The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
  • Revival for yourself and the church 
  • God to lead the church to understand and experience complete victory over temptation through faith in Christ’s righteous obedience in your life
  • Those on your prayer list

Day 26 Going Deeper Discussion Questions: (based on pages 86 to 91 of “Righteousness by Faith” by Dennis Smith [pages 106 to 111 of the PDF version])

  1.  Describe a time when the “thorns” in your life became opportunities for God’s glory to shine and manifest His righteousness through you. (Page 106)
  2. Read again James 1:2-4. What was James’ point regarding endurance 
  3. development in the believer’s life? (Page 106)
  4. According to 2 Cor 6:10, how is it possible to be “sorrowful yet rejoicing” in some of our most difficult circumstances? (Page 106)
  5.  Our bodies. Christ’s temple. Read 2 Cor 6:16. How are the two related to our salvation? (Page 107)
  6.   If true obedience comes for our consented indwelling of Jesus, how will Jesus work out His will in our lives? (DA 668) (Page 107)
  7. What will be the experience of those ready to meet Christ when He returns regarding their will and Christ’s will? (Page 108)
  8. How is a life of continual obedience manifested? What does it mean to be “Spirit-filled” in choosing to obey God in all things? (Page 108)
  9.   What does it mean to take up Christ’s yoke to live a ‘burden-free’ life, according to Matthew 11:28-30? (Page 108)

Day 26 Heart preparation/challenge:

  1. Throughout the day ask God to remind you what He is speaking to you in today’s reading and going deeper discussions and to help you to apply them in your life.
  2. Read “Righteousness by Faith” by Dennis Smith pages 91 to 93 (pages 111 to 113 of the PDF file) in preparation for Day 27.
  3. Prayerfully answer Day 27 discussion questions in preparation to share on Day 27 Going Deeper segment of united prayer.