giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We all want to know what God’s will is so that we can do it, but did you know that God’s revealed will is mentioned in several places in the Scripture? For one thing, we know that it is precisely God’s will to give thanks for every circumstance we’re found to be in (1 Thess 5:18). There is no worry about seeking to find God’s hidden will when we can read in so many places in the Bible where God’s will is plainly known. The first and foremost important thing to know was told by Christ, Who said that the will of the Father is to believe in Him and in the Father Who sent Him (John 6:40).
We have so much to be thankful for. When do we not say them? Anytime is a good time because we can thank Him for our great salvation coming at such a great price (Col 3:17). We can give thanks in the morning for our inheritance (Col 1:12) just as Israel did when they had the temple rebuilt (Ezra 3:11). Just as Israel did when God placed a good king called David (2 Chro 7:6), we can give thanks to God for those whom He has placed within the church (1 Tim 2:1) and those who are generous in their support of believers (2 Cor 9:12).
Are there any places or any times when we should not be thanking God? I can’t think of any. If you love to sing worship music, then you can thank God in song anytime of the day or night (Psalm 147:7; 107:22). This is one the most special times of worship. You can thank Him on your way to work, while you’re on lunch break, on the way home from work, before you go to bed, when you get up, while you do just about anything you can think of during the day. Even while everyone else is sleeping, you can thank Him silently in your prayers. When do you want to say thanks to God? A better question is when don’t you want to and why? We have every reason to do so at all times.
Great God in heaven, forgive me for my times of thanklessness. You are so good to me, and I can never repay You for all of Your goodness to me. You deserve the praise and prayers of thanksgiving because You gave the most supreme price of all to redeem us, and that was the very life of Your Son, Jesus Christ. In Him I thank you.
though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
Emptying the Self
This is one of the hardest things to humanly do–to empty oneself and consider others and esteem others better than ourselves (Phil 2:3), but that is the benchmark for the life of a Christian. Only if we do this will people see Christ in us, and that is sometimes the only way we can draw people to Christ. When those outside of the faith see us, we might be the only Bible they will ever read. If they see us being devoted to others, emptying ourselves for the sake of others, and living in such a way that is totally and radically different from the world, they might want the same thing. Jesus, being God, took the form of a servant so that we might be likewise.
Not Grasping for Equality
Everyone is born in the image of God (Gen 1:27), and everyone deserves to be treated as such. Those of us who have repented and trusted in Christ are in no way better than those who are still outside of the household of faith. We have no reason to boast or brag at all (Eph 2:9). If Jesus could humble Himself to the point of death, why shouldn’t we do the same thing? God has called each of us to be salt and light in a dying, dark, and decaying world (Matt 5:13-16). Salt is a preservative and enhances the flavor of food. Light shines into the darkness, and even the darkness cannot overcome it (John 1:5), so God has placed each one of us in our own place in the world to be this salt and light and to make the way of God be seen as their only hope.Who do People See in Us?
Does the way we dress reflect the glory of God? Does the way we talk reveal the way God speaks? Does the way we love show the love of God? If not, then people see you and me as no different than they see others in the world. We have a powerful opportunity to have the love of God be shed abroad in our hearts (Rom 5:5). This love is a powerful magnet to a world that really doesn’t know what true love is. They see love as feelings and emotions, but real, godly love is self-sacrificing and serving (John 3:16). It means that we must humble ourselves in the sight of others. When we do, we are seen as so different from the world that those who are not saved see a difference, and that just might be what it takes to draw them to Christ.
Great God in heaven, You loved us first before we ever loved You (1 John 4:9). Help me to love others in this way: that even though they don’t deserve it, neither did I (Rom 5:8, 10). Help me to empty myself for the sake of others, to consider others better than myself, to not grasp for equality but for humility, and to shine the glorious love of God outwardly in my life. I ask this in the name above all names, Jesus Christ.
SECOND SAMUEL 22:31
As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him
No Room for Error
Jesus once told His disciples that they must be perfect, just as God the Father is perfect (Matt 5:48). By Jesus’ statement here, we see that God the Father is perfect, so God never has an “oops” moment…ever! Now, when Jesus said that we have to be perfect just as our Father is, that presents a problem because we are sinful, fallen human beings and about as far from perfect as we could possibly be (Rom 3:10, 23). So, how can we ever be perfect? If we repent and trust in Christ, Jesus’ own righteousness is imputed to us (2 Cor 5:21). We will still never be perfect in this life, but we will be declared righteous by God in Christ because He Himself was and always is perfect and without sin.
Every man a Liar, God Cannot Lie
Every single man or woman ever born is a liar (Rom 3:4). That sounds harsh, but it’s not my thought…it is what the Bible declares. Just as we are all liars, for there’s not one who does good (Rom 3:10-11), God is always good and cannot lie (Heb 6:18) because it is contrary to His nature since God cannot sin. I am glad that God cannot lie because our salvation rests on the promises of God’s Word (John 3:16; Acts 4:12), so we know that what He says is always true.
The Perfection of God’s Word
The Word of the Lord is absolutely without error and perfect in every way (Psalm 19:7). There is no error any place in God’s Word. If someone says there is, ask them for the chapter and verse. Many people don’t believe the Bible, but they cannot usually be specific as to where and why. God and everything He does is always perfect (Psalm 18:30), which means that every Word of God is true and whatever He does is never wrong (Deut 32:4). You cannot separate God from His Word, and dozens of times in His Word it is declared to be true (Psalm 119:160; John 17:17). The conclusion is that God never has an “oops” moment because God cannot err, cannot lie, cannot make mistakes, and is always perfect in every way and at all times.
Thank You, Father, for Your Word, and that I know that it is always true and that whatever you say and do is without mistake or error. Forgive me for my own shortcomings and the grace You give to me, who is imperfect, and for the imputed righteousness You give to me by Christ’s work at Calvary, and I pray this and give thanks to You in Jesus’ Holy Name.
FIRST JOHN 3:17
But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
What can we do?
Because there are so many things wrong in the world, many of us do nothing, but all of us can at least do something. One atheist said that the reason he doesn’t believe in God is because there is suffering. I asked him, “You are sure there is no God?” He said, “Yes,” but then I said, “Guess what. You’re still stuck with suffering in the world.” Not believing in God just because there is suffering is ignoring the issue of the depravity of mankind. Adam and Eve decided for themselves to choose their own way, and ever since then, we’ve been reaping the consequences, but that’s no reason to do nothing. God may be telling us what we can do in our own place in the world. The biggest problem is not so much poverty and famine of food, but the famine of the Word. We can do something, but that’s only a temporary solution. However, to offer them the message of hope–that is the ultimate fix for humanity’s sin problem (John 3:16).
Filling a Need
As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, just because there is so much wrong in the world doesn’t mean that we cannot do anything. We should do what we can. Our church has a food bank. We distribute clothing. We teamed with a prison ministry for those who have been saved in prison and now need help after their release. We try to fill the needs where we can with what we have. To do nothing is shutting our ears to the poor, and God is not pleased with this (Prov 21:13). We can tell them that we hope they have enough to eat and to now leave in peace (James 2:16), and “we’ll pray for you” is a cop-out. Why not do what the Salvation Army does. It’s more than soup and soap; it’s also salvation, but not to the exclusion of the soup and soap!
Love is a Verb
I think the world’s definition of love and God’s definition of love are completely different. To the world, love is all about a feeling, but to God, love is a verb. It is what you do, and it is action-oriented. Just look at the work of Christ at Calvary to see what love really is. The world’s thinking can easily seep into our thinking in the church, and we see love as “what I feel, what I want,” but the love of God is helping others in ways that show or prove our love. Talk is cheap, but action is costly, and love is doing and not just saying and feeling.
Great God, our Father in heaven, help me to not be overwhelmed by the evil and suffering in the world that makes me feel helplessly overwhelmed and may make me feel that I cannot do anything. At least I can do something because even a cold cup of water to someone in need is never lost (Mark 9:41). Please help me keep this world’s problems in perspective, to know that even if I can’t solve all that is wrong, I can help in my own place. In Jesus’ precious name I pray.
“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
Pray for the Right Thing
If we don’t ask, we don’t get. It’s as simple as that. James said that we don’t receive because we just don’t ask (James 4:2)! Maybe the problem’s not asking, but we are asking for the wrong thing (James 4:3). I have developed a good habit of praying before I even get out of bed to start my day. I want to talk to God first thing in the morning. I want Him to be first one I talk to because when I don’t, I notice a considerable difference in my day, and it’s not good.
Seek for His Will
We know that we must ask God for those things that we have no control over, and if we are asking, we must then seek…seek God’s will. If we are seeking to find God’s will and then pray for that, we know that God desires to do that which is pleasing to Him, and that is that His will be done. Even in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus was teaching the disciples how to pray, and He said that we ought to pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it already is being done in heaven (Matt 6:10). We know that God’s will should be our will, so seek His will first thing in the morning and pray for that. For example, we know that God’s desire is to glorify Jesus Christ, and so we can seek ways to glorify Christ in our lives by living lives that are pleasing to Him, things like living in obedience, sharing the gospel of Christ that was made possible by His shed blood, and then living like Christ did so that lost people will be drawn to Christ through our lives.
Knock for Open Doors
Before the day starts off, while still in prayer, I ask God for divine opportunities to tell others about Christ. I ask God to open doors for these opportunities to participate in the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8), and you know what…He answers those prayers. This means that I must be intentional. I have to intentionally knock on doors, sometimes literally by going door to door, but since I know that I am asking for the right thing and it’s His will that none should perish (2 Pet 3:9), then I must take the next step and knock on doors that only God can open. Ask God for divine opportunities, seek to do His will, and then get to knocking…knocking on heaven’s door in prayer while on earth. God will allow you to experience His great answers, and it must always be for His glory.
Lord Father in heaven, please answer my prayer today, before I start each day, so that You will be the first one that I speak with and that a difference can be made, not only in my life but in the life of others. I know it is Your will to save the lost, so help me live a life that is pleasing to You and to open doors that only You can open so that my telling others about the Son of God Who died for them will glorify You and Your Great Son, Jesus Christ, in Whose name I pray.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
A Triumph from Tragedy
Have you heard about someone who’s won a lottery prize, only to hear that it leads to tragedy? This has happened many times. But how about a blessing coming as a direct result of pain? I remember reading about a story several years ago where a pastor had the chance to speak in front of a huge assembly of pastors at a national conference, but while he was working out at the gym that same day, there was a freak accident. He later discovered that he had broken his fibula. It was a compound fracture, and the doctor said that it was best if he didn’t go to the conference that night, so he had to call and cancel the speaking engagement. Of course, he was heartbroken over losing such an amazing opportunity, but when they were setting his broken leg, they found a huge blood clot in the leg that was broken. The doctor said that if the blood clot had broken free, it could have likely lodged in one of his heart valves or ended up in his brain and could have caused either a massive heart attack or a stroke. This pastor’s pain and tragic accident quite possibly saved his life.
From Pain to Perfection
Job understood pain about as much as anyone, with the exception of Christ. Job was wracked with pain and suffering (Job 30:17), and he experienced the great loss of all his children’s lives, all in one day (Job 1:13), and all of his wealth (Job 1), yet God used this to humble him and make him see that he was being self-righteous After he repented, God restored to him twice that which he had before (Job 42:10), including 10 more children (Job 42:13). Through all of Job’s suffering and loss, he came out better than he had been before all of this started.
What Good is Your Pain?
Everyone goes through suffering, both children of God and those who are not, but the difference is believers can gain through pain. For one thing, they can gain a more personal, intimate relationship with God because pain and suffering draw us closer to God since we are more reliant on Him during our greatest times of suffering. It can also give us perspective that nothing that we suffer today can compare with what our eternal future of unending joy will be (Rom 8:18). When we are suffering, we can also comfort those who are going through the same thing or will later experience what we have gone through so we can give them the same comfort by which we ourselves have been comforted (1 Cor 1:3-4). For the children of God, pain is never wasted.
You alone, Great Father, are acquainted with my pain and my losses in life. Jesus Himself knows full well the pain that I go through since He lived in a body of flesh. Please take my pain and suffering and make me see how these can be a blessing in disguise, even if I don’t see it at the moment. Your Word says that You’ll never give me more than You know I can handle (1 Cor 10:13). I thank You for the blessings that come out of my suffering ,even when they are invisible to me at the time. In the precious name of my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, I pray.
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
No Fear of Death
What is the worst thing that could happen to a believer in Christ? Is it death? No, because in the moment or the twinkling of an eye, they’d be in the presence of God, so why do we fear death so much? Here may be part of the reason that even the believer in Jesus Christ may fear death. We might have doubts about our security in the Lord, even though Jesus said not one of us will be lost who trust in Him (John 6:39), and to believe in Him means that they will never, ever perish (John 3:16). We are saved by faith, and it is a free gift from God and does not depend on our own human effort, thankfully (Ephesians 2:8-9).
No Turning Away
We know from the Word of God that whoever believes in Jesus will never be rejected and that everyone who comes to Him in saving belief will never be turned away (John 6:37). I have talked to countless people who continually live in fear and doubt over death. One person thought that if he were to die today, he couldn’t be sure that he’d go to heaven. I tried to tell him that feelings are one of the most unreliable of all things in this life, but God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18; Titus 1:2; Numbers 23:19), and since we know that Jesus is also God, He reassures that whoever has put their trust in Him has, as a present possession, eternal life (John 3:16; John 6:40). Jesus’ statements about having eternal life are given in the Greek verb tense called the aorist imperative form, indicating it is in the past tense, meaning it’s a done deal. Therefore, eternal life is a present possession; it’s not a hopeful reality. Saving faith in God is not a hope-so but a know-so (Romans 8:35-39).
No Fear from Death
I often recommend to people who have continually battled fears over their death and the lack of assurance in their salvation to read the Gospel of John because this gospel, unlike the others, gives many bedrock assurances that a person who has placed their faith in Him has no need to fear the future, including death. When He says “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish,” He means it (John 10:28a) and that no one can ever take those who trust in Him out of His or the Father’s hand (John 10:28b-29). We must remember that God’s wrath has already been placed on Jesus and has been removed from us, so we who have believed now have peace with God (Romans 5:1), and there is no more condemnation to fear (Romans 8:1). To be absent from our bodies at death means that we’ll be in the presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8), so we who have believed have no real reason to fear. We can look with eager expectation toward our future home, heaven, and that destination will be indescribably, unspeakably joyful (Revelation 21, 22).
Righteous Father, give us the help to not fear death, with the assurance that we will be with You someday and for all time. Let us live with the end in mind, focusing not on our present condition as much as our eternal destiny with You, and with You there is no more need to fear. We thank You for this blessed assurance, and it is in the precious name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, we pray.
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
A Friend Closer Than a Brother
I have a very close friend who is closer to me than my own blood brother. He is such a prayer warrior and devoted to Christ. We always share each other’s lives, confide in one another, and have the trust in each other that it’ll be kept in strict confidence. The proverb says that whoever has many companions may end in ruin, but there is usually that one close friend who sticks closer to us than a brother or sister (Proverbs 18:24). Do you have such a friend? I find many who are looking for such a friend in his or her life, but I tell them to find a friend, be a friend, and be the type of friend you’d want to have.
A Friend Loves at All Times
There are many so-called fair weather friends who have come and gone in my life. They said they were my friends, but when the going got tough, they got going. Others were my “friends” only because they needed something: a loan, a ride, or a favor. When I found out I was being used, I found out they were not really my friends at all. In nature we call these “leeches.” They always suck the life out of you and never give anything in return. The proverb says that a true friend loves you at all times, good and bad, and there is a brother and sister born for adversity (Proverbs 17:17). That’s the kind of friend you want, isn’t it? That’s the kind of friend you should be to someone. You love them during the good times and bad, during the joyful times and times of grief. True friends don’t bail out when the going gets tough.
Need a Friend? Be a Friend!
If you are looking for a friend, you must be the kind of friend that you’d want. No one wants a “one-way” relationship. That’s no fun at all. Once we have a friend, we should never forsake them in their old age, and neither should we forsake a friend of the family (Proverbs 27:10a). If you do, you’re not really his friend. Jesus said we are His friend if we do what He commands us to do (John 15:14). If you disobey Jesus, is He really your friend? God spoke to Moses, as it were, face to face as one would a friend (Exodus 33:11). Why did God consider Moses His friend? Because, just as Jesus said, we are God’s friends if we obey Him, which is why Moses was a friend of God. Let me ask you the same question I ask myself: What do you look for in a friend? Are those the same traits you display to your friends? If not, then you’re not really their friend and you’re not someone that others would want to have as a friend
God, You are such a friend of sinners. I just look at myself as a supreme example. I am amazed at Your grace. I want to be a friend of Yours, God, so please forgive me when I don’t act like one. In Jesus’ glorious name I pray.
An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.
Which Comes First?
When Peter asked Jesus if he could come to Him and walk on the water, Jesus didn’t give him a sign for nor did Peter ask for a sign before taking the first step. After Jesus said come (Matt 14:29), He expected Peter to take the first step, a step of faith, and sure enough Peter walked on the water (Matt 14:22-33). It went well until Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and looked down at the water and that’s when he began to sink. Do you think Peter waited for a sign from God like something supernatural or did Peter have to take the first step before the miracle happened and Peter actually walked on water? Peter had to make the first step, a big step of faith, and then Jesus suspended the natural laws of nature by His miraculous powers. If someone wants to see a sign from God before they step out on faith, then is that really faith?
A Radical Faith
Have you ever heard of George Mueller? He started by building five large orphan houses and cared for 10,024 orphans in his lifetime. When he started in 1834 there were accommodations for 3,600 orphans in all of England but twice that many children under eight were in prison because they had no place else to live. Fifty years after Mr. Mueller began his work, at least one hundred thousand orphans were cared for in England alone and the astounding thing is that he never asked anyone for money. What did he do to secure the much needed funds to care for so many children in so many orphanages? He simply prayed. He prayed that if God really wanted him to build these orphanages and care for these thousands of orphans, He would have to provide the funding for it so Mr. Mueller determined to never solicit help from anyone for anything for these orphanages and the needs of the orphans and he was a man of his word. He took the first step of faith and God met him there. If he had waited on a sign from God first, not one orphanage would have ever been built and thousands of orphaned children in England would have probably died. This man had a radical faith and one that trusted God completely.
Walking on Faith
Peter didn’t really walk on water, he walked on faith. Could he really or can any of us really walk on water? No, it takes a powerful faith but God will meet us where are faith takes us. It’s almost like what Solomon wrote that whoever observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap (Eccl 11:4) because they’re waiting to see a sign first before they sow their seed. Consider that the farmer must plant the seed in faith and expect the rains to come and the crops to grow. If the farmer keeps waiting for a sign first, like the coming rains or the warming weather, he might be too late. James wrote that people who say they have faith, but do nothing, really prove that their faith is useless (James 2:14). What about you? Are you waiting for a sign from God? Do you think He may be waiting for you to make the first step of faith?
Father, I know that I lack the faith that You desire in me and that I sometimes hesitate to take that first step of faith. Please help me to know when to take that radical step of faith and when not to and to not keep looking for signs from You first and in Jesus’ great name I pray.
Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children.
What is Seen over What is Heard
I believe that we can talk till we’re blue in the face but our actions will always drown out our words. Children can see right through hypocrisy a mile away. You just can’t fool children. If our actions don’t match our words, our words can be useless. Instead, let our actions do the talking for us. When our children hear us say things like “Tell them I’m not home” (after someone calls for you) or if we talk badly about someone behind their back after speaking to them in a nice way in front of them, children will see that our words mean nothing. They can’t hear what we say if our actions are drowning out our words. They will do what you do, not necessarily what you say, so the question is, are we teaching our children by what we are saying more than by what we are doing? You surely know the answer to that
Watch Your Actions
In the Old Testament, God frequently talked about what parents do more than what they say. Why? It’s because our actions communicate more loudly than our words do. God tells parents to be careful and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live and make sure to teach them to your children and to their children after them (Duet 4:9). Notice that God said to be careful, watch our actions closely, don’t’ forget what our eyes have seen, don’t let them fade from our memory and teach them to our children and even our grandchildren. This command is based upon what is seen more than what is said. God was concerned that our children learn to revere Him as long as they live and that means we must teach them to our children (Duet 4:10) but the best teacher is the visual one.
More is Caught than Taught
I remember the story of a father who saw a tiny baby bird that had fell out of its nest. As his young son watched, the father took a ladder out of the garage and put on some latex gloves and lifted the tiny fledgling off the ground and placed it back into the nest. The boy asked his dad why he used the gloves. The boy’s father said that if the mother had smelled the human scent then the mother would have rejected the young fledgling and the baby bird would have starved to death. By this father’s tender, loving action, he taught the boy that we are to care for God’s creatures because God loves His creation and His creatures too, although He loves us much more (Matt 10:31). The boy never forgot this and without a word, the boy’s father taught the young child more than a hundred lectures ever could so again I would ask you and I ask myself this same question; are we teaching the children in our life by saying or by doing?
Father, You are so kind to me and You love me with a tender heart and as a child of Yours, I can see by Your actions in Your Word that You are faithful to Your Word and the greatest display of love by You was not in words but in action; what Jesus did on the cross and so I thank You and praise You in the great and glorious name of Jesus.
Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
An Audience of One
The older I get, the more I don’t care what other people think about me. I only know that I want to please God. The reason many didn’t put their trust in Christ was because of what the Pharisees thought and that they’d be put out of the synagogue (John 12:42-43). How sad to let the fear of what others think be the determining factor over what they should or shouldn’t do. The fear or concern of what others think is a huge stumbling block to people (Proverbs 29:25). Who cares what others think–they don’t know your heart anyway. I only care what God knows. We should live for an audience of One, and that is God Himself.
God Plus One
I love what Martin Luther once said, that God plus one is a majority, which is so true. Realize this: If God is for you, why would you ever fear who could be against you (Romans 8:31)? If you know that there’s no condemnation before God (Romans 8:1), you can be at peace about your relationship with Him (Romans 5:1). Isn’t that all we should be concerned about? For those who have repented and put their trust in Christ, they have no need to fear what man can do (Psalm 118:6). At the worst, they can kill the body so all we need fear is that if we’ve never been saved, God can destroy both body and soul (Matt 10:28). If we’ve been born again, we don’t even have to fear death.
The Approval of God
I don’t care if others don’t approve of me. They’re not my ultimate judge anyway. I will stand before God and not before them. Paul asked the rhetorical question of whether he was seeking the approval of man or of God. Was he trying to please man? If he were still trying to please man, he would not be a servant of Christ (Galatians 1:10). Paul’s point is that if we are seeking only the approval of man, we are not being a servant of Christ. The Greek word for “slave” is “doulos.” What slave is concerned about what someone who is not their master thinks? Do you concentrate more on what other people think about you or what God knows about you?
God, please forgive me for caving into the pressure of what others think. I know that I truly only need to focus on pleasing You because what You think is important, not what others do. Help me to focus on this, and in Christ’s precious name I pray.
If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
I heard a man actually say about someone a church helped years ago that he wouldn’t have helped him and said, “He made his own bed, so now let him sleep in it.” This man didn’t know the whole story. He was a faithful church member but lost his job due to a freak accident, and since he was self-employed and had only liability insurance on his vehicle, he lost his job, too, because he was a newspaper carrier. The man was trying to rationalize his not helping this man hurt in the accident and who’d lost his job by saying he must have done something wrong and, therefore, the church shouldn’t help him. This man assumed wrong. Fortunately, there were enough people who knew what really happened and helped him, and now he’s back on his feet and working again and even supports the church with his offerings. The one man had assumed that he only wanted to take advantage of the church, but that was not true at all. Have you ever done that? Do you know someone who has tried to rationalize not helping someone with a very real need?
A Dead Faith
James once asked what good is it if a brother or sister is poorly clothed and hungry and somebody says “Go in peace; be warmed and filled” but doesn’t help them at all (James 2:15-16). What good is that? That’s like saying “I’m really sorry; I’ll pray for you” but then doing nothing to help them in their real need. What kind of faith is that? James calls it a dead faith (James 2:17). We are commanded to share what we have with the Lord’s people who have need, which is called practicing hospitality (Romans 12:13). The author of Hebrews says that we shouldn’t ever neglect doing good for others and to share what we have because these are the kinds of sacrifices that are very pleasing to God (Hebrews 13:16).
Some people rationalize their disdain for society, possibly because they’re unemployed or under-employed, that it’s okay to steal. At a job I had a few years ago, employees customarily stole from the company and rationalized it by saying, “The company’s making millions of dollars, so they won’t mist it. It won’t hurt them.” That won’t fly in a court of law. You can try to rationalize helping yourself all you want–it’s still stealing. That might have even been a problem in Paul’s day and why he told the church at Ephesus to stop stealing and work for a living so that they’ll have something to share with those in need (Ephesians 4:28). The so-called “virtuous woman” in Proverbs 31:20 is a woman who opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. Jesus Himself said that it’s more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35b). Galatians 6:10 says that every time we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially those who belong to the family of believers. Even so, many rationalize not helping others by assuming they don’t deserve help, thus rationalizing their refraining from helping those in need. How often have you done that? I know I have.
Father, please forgive my tendency to rationalize not helping others, just like I do with trying to rationalize my sins. I have no excuse. Please help me see them the way You see them and not try to explain it away so that I won’t feel I need to help someone in real need. In Jesus’ name I pray.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Renewing My Mind
I have a daily struggle against the flesh, but I’m in good company. So did Paul. For one thing, I don’t do the good that I want to do; instead, I sometimes do the evil that I don’t want to do (Romans 7:19). That’s because no good thing really dwells in me (Romans 7:18), and none of us really seek after God and are righteous in ourselves (Romans 3:10-11). I needed to have the mind of Christ dwell in me richly (Colossians 3:16) and choose the good. I needed not only a new mind, the mind of Christ, but a heart transplant because my heart was desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). I needed a new heart and not one of stone but of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26), which means a heart that is soft and pliable where change can take place. How about you? What area of your life do you want to change the most? What will you do about it?
Be More Childlike
To be more childlike doesn’t mean to be more childish. When I was a child, I had to learn to put away childish things and reason like an adult (1 Corinthians 13:11). What Jesus meant was that unless I turned and became like a child, I would never be able to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3). I did change and humble myself, but that change could only come by God’s Spirit. Without God’s Spirit, I had the desire to do what was right but not the ability to carry it out (Romans 7:18). We all must humble ourselves, as children often do (Matthew 18:4), because whoever doesn’t receive the kingdom of God like a child is never going to enter it (Luke 18:17).
My Own Change
I determined not too long ago to have this be my rule: no Bible, no breakfast. So now I read some from the Old Testament and some from the New Testament every morning before I eat anything. I also started to consistently pray every morning before I did anything else. I know that this will change me because prayer changes me–God and the Bible have power, not me. Without this daily bread and this daily communication with the Father, my day would be a disaster; I can almost guarantee that. What area of your life would you like to change the most? What will you do about it? I asked myself these same questions. Your answers might be different from mine, but change I must. It’s a daily process.
Father in heaven, thank You for sending me Your Spirit or I could never change. Please help me to focus on You and Your Word so that I can change, because of myself I can do nothing, and nothing is not a little something. I need Your help by Your Spirit, by Your Word, and by speaking with You every day, and in Jesus’ glorious name I pray.
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Give It to God
Have you heard the expression “let go and let God”? Well, that is partially true. If we keep holding onto things too tightly, we cannot have open hands that can receive, so its better to let go of it today and give it to God. Isaiah gives us some great advice to stop remembering the former things in our life or thinking about all the old things we used to do or are still doing but to give it up to God (Isaiah 43:18-19). We can’t put our hand to the plow and then take it back again (Luke 9:62). Remember Lot’s wife? She looked back, and that did not end well for her (Gen. 19:26). What are you holding onto today that you need to let go of and give to God?
Holding Onto Something?
Let me admit something to you. When I was very young, a friend of mine took my car without permission and totaled it. He never paid me back for that. I could have had him thrown in jail, but I didn’t. He promised to pay me back if I didn’t turn him in, but he never did. I was so mad. For many, many years I kept holding onto this grudge, and even after I was saved, it kept coming up time after time. Since God has forgiven me so much more, how could I place the same value over something that doesn’t really matter after all? People are always more important than things. For one thing, this friend of mine is not saved. I have tried to tell him about Christ, but he keeps shutting me down. I finally went up to him and asked him if he remembered the car of mine that he stole, and he just gave me a blank look. I think he did, but I told him, “I forgive you.” Again, he was speechless. I told him that God has forgiven me so much more than anyone could ever do to me in a lifetime. But again, just a blank stare was all I got. That’s okay. I would have loved to have an apology, but I forgave him anyway. I just had to let go of this and give it to God. Now I pray for my friend to be saved. That is the most important thing, not that car of mine so many years ago.
What Is It You’re Holding?
Maybe you have something that is hard to let go of. What is it? Is it an old grudge? Is it something that you can’t forgive and forget? Is it an old flame who broke your heart many years ago and you’re still angry at them? Is it your money that you can’t be generous with? Maybe it’s your favorite football team that you still devote way too much time to and causes you to miss church some days. I don’t know what that is for you, but you do! What are you holding onto today that you, like I, need to let God have it? Maybe today’s the day to finally release your grip, empty your hands, and give it up to God.
Righteous Father, You are such a good God, forgiving me when I didn’t deserve it, being patient with me for all these years with my clenched fists that refused to let go. Thank You for waiting for me to give it up to You. Now I pray someone else reading this will let go of what they’ve been holding onto so very tight for so many years, and I pray this in the strong name of Jesus Christ.
2 TIMOTHY 4:6-7
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
I’ve had the sobering experience of witnessing to people on their deathbeds, and I have yet to hear one of them say they wished they had made more money in their lives. None were concerned with how much they didn’t make. Their only concern at that time was what was going to happen to them after they died. Where would they go? Would it be in the presence of Jesus? Would it be hell? Jesus spoke twice as much about hell as He ever did the kingdom of heaven. Why? Because He didn’t want anyone to go there, and God desires that none should perish apart from being saved (2 Peter 3:9), which should be our desire, too. What about you? What are you most concerned about today? A new car, a new job, more pay, a bigger home? That won’t matter one bit on the day of your death. We all have an appointment with death and, after that, the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
Our elder’s wife had her father move into her home so that she could take care of him since he was dying. Being a nurse, she was qualified to care for him, and she didn’t want to move him to a nursing home, sensing that he didn’t have much time left–she was right. She had the skills to take care of him and also the tender heart to know that he wasn’t saved. A few visits from the chaplain didn’t get through to this man. Our elder wasn’t able to talk to him about knowing Christ. I decided to visit him on a Monday and asked him some questions: Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Do you believe that Jesus was sinless and died for your sins and for those who would trust in Him? Do you believe that He was raised from the dead? We went through what is called “the Roman Road” and verses like Romans 3:10-12, 3:23, 10:9-13 and Romans 6:23. He finally believed after a long lifetime, and even though he was too weak to be baptized, that man died in the faith. I visited with him on Monday to share the Gospel. On Friday he was gone.
In talking with our elder’s father-in-law, I noticed he never said that he wished he had a nicer car in life, and he never mentioned he wished he had a better job or a bigger home. His only regret I think was that he hadn’t spent more time with his family and that he hadn’t wasted his life, but I reminded him of the thief on the cross. He never had a chance to attend a temple service, and he didn’t have a chance to do any good works for God, yet he was saved on the very last day of his life. Jesus told him he would be with Him that very day in paradise (Luke 23:43). What about you? Have you ever heard anyone on their deathbed say they wished they had accumulated more wealth and possessions? Probably not.
Father, You are so merciful to so many, just like you were to me. You didn’t give me what I truly deserved (called mercy) and then gave me what I didn’t deserve (called grace), and for that most precious of all gifts, I thank You in Jesus’ holy name.
O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
Someone’s Watching You
Think nobody’s watching? Read this true story. Years ago, a man was hired by a huge company. The board of directors had to vote on this position since he was going to be vice president of operations. They told the man the good news and asked him to go down to the cafeteria to eat with the board members to celebrate. They allowed him to go first in line. When the newly hired VP of operations was in line, he slid a 2-cent pat of butter underneath his dinner roll and then paid for his meal without revealing the stolen pat of butter. The CEO was right behind him and saw the whole thing. After the meal, the CEO met with the board of directors again and said, “I think we hired the wrong guy.” For a 2-cent pat of butter, a man lost a job that paid over $300,000 a year. How would you act differently if you knew someone was watching you? You know God is watching, whether you are in the high heavens or in the depths of the earth (Psalm 139:8). There is no place where God is not.
Search Me, Oh Lord
When the psalmist prayed for God to search him, he wasn’t talking about his physical presence. He was talking about God helping him to know what was in his heart so that God would reveal it to him (Psalm 139:23). The psalmist knew that we have sins we’re not even aware of because we’re fallen in our nature, so he asked for God’s help to show him the unknown, or hidden, sin in his life (Psalm 19:12). It seemed that the psalmist clearly understood that God was watching everything in his life: his actions, his words, his thoughts, and even his intents (those things he was contemplating doing). If you knew that God was watching you 24/7–and, by the way, He is–what would you do differently?
Pass the Remote, Jesus
I knew a man who struggled with pornography. I told him to tape the word “Jesus” on his remote control, which also controlled his Internet surfing because his Internet was available on his big-screen TV. Every time he reached for the remote, I wanted him to be reminded that Jesus is essentially sitting on the couch right next to him. He is watching what you’re watching. He’s listening to what you’re listening to. He’s hearing what you’re saying in public and in private. And he’s looking at what you’re reading, too. Would you act differently if you knew Jesus was in the room with you? He is.
Father, I know that I have acted sinfully in private and should realize that You know my every thought, word, and deed, as nothing is hidden from You. Please forgive me of my many sins, even the ones I’m not aware of, and in Christ Jesus’ most holy name I pray.
For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
Paul’s Passionate Desire
If you have read the Book of Romans, you can tell what Paul’s greatest passion was. It was to save as many as God would give him to help save, and one time Paul wrote that he’d even be willing to have his relationship cut off from Christ if only his fellow Jews could be saved (Romans 9:3). Can you imagine that? He was willing to trade his eternal soul in everlasting punishment if only his brothers and sisters might know Christ and be saved. Paul had such a passion for seeking the lost that he was willing to endure beatings with rods, floggings, tortures, and whippings and being stoned, shipwrecked, imprisoned, freezing, hungry, and thirsty just so he would tell others how they might be saved (1 Corinthians 11:23-27).
Paul’s Passionate Focus
According to historians, both secular and church, Paul was one of the most brilliant men of his day. Yet what was Paul’s passionate bottom line? He was resolved to know nothing more than Jesus Christ and Him crucified, determined to know nothing more than Christ and make Him known among the Corinthians and that Jesus was crucified for them (1 Corinthians 2:2). He deeply desired to know Jesus and His power and the power of His resurrection, to share in His sufferings, and to even become like Him in His tortuous death (Philippians 3:10). Compared to knowing Christ, he counted everything else as garbage (Philippians 3:8). If he boasted about anything at all, it would be on the cross of Christ (Galatians 6:14).
The Disciples’ Biggest Passion
Listen to how the apostles all died and see if you can figure out their biggest passion. Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross. Matthew was impaled by spears and beheaded. Bartholomew, or Nathaniel, as he was sometimes called, was whipped or flayed to death. Philip was impaled with hooks through his ankles and died hanging upside down. James (son of Zebedee) was beheaded. Jude was crucified. Matthias was stoned to death and, even after death, beheaded. James (the lesser, not Jesus’ half-brother) was thrown off the pinnacle of the temple and then beaten to death. Peter was crucified upside down, thinking himself unworthy to die as Christ did. The Apostle Paul was beaded. Why did they all die? It was because they were willing to go into all the world to preach the Gospel as they were commanded (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8). Your passion might not be the same as these men So what is your biggest passion? Have you tried doing this for Jesus lately?
Father, I have such a passion for the lost because someone had compassion enough to tell me how to be saved. I pray, Father, for a daily divinely set appointment that I might tell others how to know the Savior and why they need saving (John 3:36b), and in my Savior’s blessed name I pray.
2 TIMOTHY 3:16-17
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
The Word Abides Forever
Regarding the Bible, people over the last 2,000 years have burned it and banned it, but never have they broken it. The Word of God cannot be stopped, just like God. The Word of God abides forever (1 Peter 1:25) no matter what people have tried to do. His Word still stands firm in the heavens even after thousands of years, and it will stand forever because, just like God, it is eternal (Psalm 119:89). Everything we see will pass away, but not so with the Word of God (Isaiah 40:8). People have tried to destroy the Bible, but that’s impossible. People have tried to destroy belief in God, but who can destroy God?
Dissecting the Word
I remember dissecting frogs in my biology class in school. This was really not fun, but it was deemed necessary so we could learn more about living organisms and how they function. You can do the same with the Bible but not with the results of what happened to the frog because you cannot kill it. People have tried doing the same thing to the Bible. The Bible has been disparaged, despised, and debated, but it has never been dissected successfully to show that it’s not the Word of God. That’s like saying Jesus is not the Word of God, which the Gospel of John clearly says that He is (John 1:1, 14).
The Inspired Words of God
The Bible is the very power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16) to bring about what God sends it out to do (Isaiah 55:11). It is alive and powerful and cuts down into our innermost thoughts and even the intents of our hearts (Hebrews 4:12). The words are spirit, and they are life (John 6:63). Try as they might, they cannot destroy it; they can only hate it or love it. The Word does cut, but it cuts in order to heal. Even a surgeon cuts in order to heal, but the Word wounds to bring life. But for those who reject it, it brings eternal destruction. Have you ever noticed how inspiring the Bible is, even though it has been the most dissected book in history? Who can mute the Word of God? Occasionally in my sermons, I say, “Today part of my sermon will be perfect! The part where I read out of the Bible. My part? Not so much.”
Father, I thank You for Your Word, as it brings eternal life to those who believe it. I would not know you except by Your Word, and it stands forever, from generation to generation and for all time, and is just like You–it abides forever and has no end. I thank You for Your Word in Jesus’ name.
I will not leave you as orphans I will come to you.
You're standing on the bank of a swollen river, as you stare at the turbi water, the ground beneath your feet crumbles, hurling you into the tempest, and the current sweeps you away. This is what it can feel like when the actions or words spoken from a friend can drown you and carry you away in a current of cruelty. You are vulnerable, in danger, not in control.
But as you struggle against the rapids, something chops the air above you. A rope descending from a helicopter dangles in front of you. Grasping it, you've gained control.
When a river of hurt feelings carries you away, forgiveness is the rope you grab that gives you control over the uncontrollable. It's tempting to carry a grudge, but holding onto bitterness only hurts the one holding on. You didn't control the circunstance when you were hurt, but you do control the choice that leads to your healing. Forgivenss doesn't mean you forget the offense. It doesn't mean the hurtful action was okay, cause it was not. It simply means you choose to begin the process of letting it go.
If you seek it, God will help you begin the process of forgiveness and when you do, you gain control over uncontrollable circumstances.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
We can have confidence to approach the throne room of heaven by the grace given to us by God (Hebrews 4:16), and the Great Mediator, Jesus Christ, our High Priest, has allowed us to have access to God the Father (Ephesians 2:18) through the shedding of His own blood. It is through Jesus Christ that we have now gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand (Romans 5:2). It is through him and through faith in him that we can approach God with freedom and confidence (Ephesians 3:12). No other religion in the world is like that, even though Christianity is not really a religion–it is a relationship, a relationship with the Lord of Glory.
Our High Priest
Jesus Christ is not only our High Priest, but He is also the King of kings and Lord of lords. Shouldn’t we take advantage of that beneficial privilege? Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6a), not one of many ways, not one of many truths, and not one of many lives. Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion–nobody’s entitled to their own truth. Nobody goes to the Father except through Jesus Christ (John 14:6b). What was once forbidden and only accessible once a year and only by the high priest of Israel, we can now enter the Holy of Holies but only by the blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:19). If anyone tried to enter the Holy of Holies without such authorization, it would mean instant death!
Access to the King
If you were a relative of the king of ancient Israel, you still had to secure permission to see the king. If you just walked in on your own to see the king without permission, it could be instant execution. But if you were a son or a daughter of the king, you could approach the king’s throne without fear of death. If you have been born again, then you are already a child of God, and as a child of God, you have direct access to the King. Of course, you should still approach the King in deep, abiding reverence and respect, but you have access to the King if you are His child. Since you and I have direct and instant access to the King of kings, are we taking full advantage of it? If not, why?
Father, thank You for allowing me, an unworthy bond slave, to approach You by the precious blood of Your Son, shed for me, who is most undeserving. That’s why Your grace is so amazing and You are so good to me, better than I deserve. In Jesus’ name I thank You and pray.
Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.
Jesus lived a sinless, perfect life, but they treated Him as anything but perfect. They tortured Him (even before His illegal trial), they brought false witnesses before Him, they lied about Him, they scourged Him, they crucified Him, and they murdered Him. But God raised Him from the dead (Acts 2:23). Because Jesus was sinless, the grave couldn’t hold Him, death couldn’t stop Him, and dying couldn’t restrain Him (Acts 2:24). That was certainly less than perfect for Jesus, but God blessed all of us by the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection.
Joy Is Sown in Sorrowed Ground
None of us would really know joy unless we had first experienced sorrow because then we have something with which to compare it. In other words, we must know sorrow before we can really appreciate joy. Our worship music leader is a friend of mine, and he is always so full of joy. Why? Because he realizes that he was saved from the wrath of God (John 3:36b); like all of us, he didn’t deserve it, nor could he have ever earned it (Ephesians 2:8-9). If we had a perfect life, would any of us ever feel the need for God? For me, I had to be broken and emptied of myself because God couldn’t fix what was first not broken, and He couldn’t fill me up since I was already full of myself. My less-than-perfect life showed me that I needed God. The greatest human miracle of all is that we are born again, from above (John 3:3, 7), and the miracle of conversion may be the greatest of all the miracles we’ll ever experience.
From Lepers to Leapers
When Jesus healed the 10 lepers, at which time leprosy was incurable, nothing like that had ever happened before. Leprosy was widespread in Israel at that time, but Jesus made the blind to see, the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, and the dead to rise, and many lepers were cleansed (Luke 7:22). On one occasion when Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he encountered 10 lepers at the same time (Luke 17:11). In their agony they cried out to Jesus for mercy (Luke 17:13), and Jesus healed them all. Only one came back and raised his voice in joy and thanked Jesus (Luke 17:16). In this man’s less-than-perfect state of leprosy, how could God have ever truly blessed him with a miracle, especially if his life had already been perfect?
Father, I thank You for the greatest miracle for me personally. I was once dead but now am saved. I was once lost but now am found. It’s all about You, God, and the miracle of human conversion. Thank You for Your great mercy and grace, and I pray this in the mighty name of Jesus.
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Bearing Your Cross
Jesus tells us that unless we take up our cross, follow Him, and deny ourselves, we cannot follow after Him (Matthew 16:24). Those are very hard words, but Jesus never promised it would be easy. Jesus reminds us that we all have to make every effort to enter through the narrow door and that many will seek to enter it and won’t be able to. He says, “Strive to enter the narrow door” (Luke 13:24). The Greek word for “strive” is “agōnizomai,” where we get “to agonize,” so it’s certainly not a cakewalk. The Greek word “agōnizomai” means “to contend” and “to struggle with dangers and difficulties,” which fits the context of it being hard to follow Jesus–very hard. Knowing this, don’t you think that will make heaven that much sweeter?
Avoiding the Broad Path
When Jesus gives one of the most serious warnings in all the Bible, He says that many–not a few, but many–will say to Him, “Lord, Lord.” But to these same “many,” He tells them to depart, for He never knew them (Matthew 7:21-23). Some people live like the devil, yet say, “I know Jesus.” However, the most important question is, does He know you? The path is broad and wide because many enter through it, but it’s the path to destruction (Matthew 7:13). This is why the way to eternal life is a narrow, difficult path. Jesus isn’t trying to make anyone fearful, He is simply stating the facts and that it’s going to be hard to follow Him. It’s hard, but it’s not impossible. With man it may seem impossible, but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26), which is why we look forward in eager expectation to our home in the New Jerusalem.
If we realize that nothing in this life of difficulty can ever compare, even closely, to the glory that’s coming, it may make it a bit easier to endure the present suffering (Romans 8:18). Peter warns all Christians that we are called to suffering (1 Peter 2:21). We shouldn’t think it’s strange at all (1 Peter 4:12) but the norm for the Christ-follower. If we know what to expect, then we can endure it a bit better, hopefully. We all know that following Christ is very hard at times, but, oh, won’t that make your arrival in the kingdom of heaven all that much sweeter!
Father, I know today is hard and I’m not alone. Oh Lord, I know there are many who are struggling in this life right now and many reading this today who are going through a very hard time. I pray for Your Spirit to encourage them and make them dwell on the amazing and awesome future we all have before us so that we can endure the present, and in Jesus my Lord’s name I pray.
1 CORINTHIANS 10:23
‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive.
The only person I can truly know well enough to judge is myself, and I pray that others would not be so quick to judge me or other believers, particularly over things that are nonessential. There are many grey areas in the Christian’s daily walk, and we do a lot of things in life where the Bible is silent. I believe that where the Bible is silent, so must I be. Unless it is clear in Scripture, I can’t be clear. I imagine most of us would do a lot of things differently if we knew that nobody would judge us. Should there be a difference in our lives and what we’d do if we knew no one would be judging us? How do you feel about this?
Seeking Others’ Good
If we are only interested in ourselves, we won’t care what others think about our behavior and actions. But the Bible teaches we’re not to seek out our own good alone but the good of others (1 Corinthians 10:24). One example is if we invite others to a meal and feel we have the freedom to drink beer or wine but there are some who struggle with the use of alcohol, it is better to not serve alcohol with the meal. We don’t want to give an occasion for anyone to stumble (1 Corinthians 10:32). If you invite a brother or sister to dinner and they believe it is wrong to drink alcohol, they’re former alcoholics, or they have someone in their family who struggles with alcohol and therefore abstain, then why not just serve something else to drink? We should think of others, even if it inconveniences us. You may have a right do to it in your own conscience, but think about what others may believe.
The other end of the spectrum for not giving occasion for anyone to stumble is to make sure we are not the ones who are offended and make sure they know about it. We are commanded to please our neighbors for their own good and to build them up (Romans 15:2) because Christ accepted us, so why shouldn’t we accept others (Romans 15:7)? They might do something that is objectionable to us, and in our own conscience we wouldn’t choose to do it, but that doesn’t mean they should believe as we do about things where the Bible is silent. The point is that each of us should be convinced in our own minds (Romans 14:5) and them not in ours. So the questions are what would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you, and should there be a difference?
Father, I know You don’t judge by outward appearances (1 Samuel 16:7, John 7:24), and neither should I. Help me to accept others in areas where I differ from them and with the grace to allow them freedom in things where Your Word is silent, and in Jesus’ holy name I pray.
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Have you ever considered worry as a lack of trust in God to provide for you? I have been guilty of this and still have a daily or weekly battle with it. Jesus tried to reassure us that God takes care of the birds of the air in such a way that they don’t even have need of a place to store their food for tomorrow. Aren’t we of much greater value to God than the birds (Matthew 6:26)? Of course we are. When we worry, we’re basically communicating to God, “God, I don’t trust You.” My children are all grown now, but if they came up to me every day and said “Dad, I’m worried that we’re not going to have the money to pay the rent or buy food,” I’d be a bit grieved by this. I’d tell them that I have much greater resources than they do. They have only an allowance; I have the checkbook. If they kept telling me they were worried, I’d not be happy about that because it would show they didn’t trust me. Now think how God must feel about it when we worry.
Worry Is Pointless
A recent study I heard about said that about 85% of the things we worry about don’t ever come to pass. Why worry so much over things that mostly don’t come to pass anyway? The flowers of the field don’t strive and toil to survive, yet their beauty is unsurpassed by the splendor of King Solomon (Matthew 6:28-29). When we worry over things that will probably never happen, it’s pointless, isn’t it? Even those things that do come to pass that we worry about are probably things we can’t change anyway. So why worry over things we can’t change and over things that will never happen? If there are things you can’t change, it’s useless to worry about them anyway. Have you ever thought about what your worrying communicates to God?
Worry Is Wasted Energy
Worry can’t even add a single hour to our lives (Matthew 6:27). In fact, worry can shorten your life because worry causes stress, which weakens the immune system and makes you more vulnerable to diseases and illnesses. It is simply a waste of energy. Worry does nothing to solve our problems–it just adds another problem to our lives. Think about how worry makes God feel. What does it communicate to Him? Surely, it tells Him that you don’t trust Him. God’s Word promises that He will not “let the godly go hungry” (Proverbs 10:3). Do you trust God? Do you believe His Word?
Father, please forgive me for all the times I’ve doubted You and not trusted You by my worrying over things in my life. I need to learn to be more in Your Word so that I can trust You more and read about all Your sure and certain promises because I know You’re faithful, and in Jesus’ name I pray.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
A Sympathetic High Priest
You probably know what it means to be sympathetic, right? That means you can identify with what someone has gone through or is going through because you’ve experienced the very same thing. That’s why Jesus makes the perfect High Priest. He knows our weaknesses, our infirmities, and every temptation because He was tempted “in every respect” just as we have been but “without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Who better to be your Mediator than one who knows what it’s like. That’s why we can ask Jesus for anything–anything within the will of God, anyway–because He’s walked in our shoes.
Been in Your Shoes
No one has suffered like Jesus Christ in all of human history. Have you known a time of grief? He is acquainted with it (Isaiah 53:3). Have you had a time of sorrow? He carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4). Have you ever been wounded, pierced, stricken, despised, rejected, or afflicted? He’s been through all of that and so much more (Isaiah 53:3-7). No one’s been through all of that but Him. Maybe you’ve had times of sorrow, pain, suffering, temptation, rejection, and scorn. He understands all of that more than you can even know, and you can ask Him anything because He’s walked in your shoes and suffered so much more.
Abiding in Him
The Apostle John writes that Jesus said if we abide in Him, then we can ask whatever we will and it will be done for us (John 15:7). He knows our needs because He grew tired, weary, hungry, and cold and knows what we feel like at times. Someone who has gone through what we have–except, of course, so much worse than we can even imagine– knows what it feels like. He knows what you’re feeling. He knows your thoughts, so He knows what you are experiencing right now, at the very moment you are reading this. So since you know you can ask Him anything because He’s walked in your shoes, why not ask Him right now?
Father, thank You for Your Son’s understanding and for His sympathy in knowing what I am going through, even as I write this, because He’s been through so much more than I will ever know. For this I thank You and Him, and in His precious name I pray.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
In Romans 12:2 Paul tells the church at Rome to not be conformed to the world. The Greek word for “conformed” is an interesting one. It’s “syschēmatizō” and where we get the word “schematic” or a pattern, and it means “to be fashioned into.” So Paul is saying we’re not to be fashioned or patterned after the world because we are not really of this world. The word “conformed” is a compound word meaning “with” (con) “pressure” (formed). It has the idea of a person applying pressure to a clay figure and forming it into the image that he or she desires. Some translations say, “Do not be squeezed into the mold of the world.” That’s what the world tends to do; this is called “peer pressure.” We humans like to fit in. We don’t like to be different. We like to be the way the world is so that we’ll not be objects of scorn or ridicule. Even so, the world is shaping us or forming us all, believers included, into its own image. It’s almost without our even knowing it, but we must resist it at every turn.
One way to resist being conformed or squeezed and shaped into the world’s image is to be transformed by the renewing or regeneration of our minds. To be transformed is what the Greek word “metamorphoō” suggests, which means “change into another form, to transform, to transfigure,” and interestingly is the very same word used when Jesus was transfigured on the mount where Peter, James, and John saw the Shekinah glory of Christ. The Greek word “metamorphoō” is where we get our word “metamorphosis,” which is what happens to a caterpillar that changes within the cocoon into an entirely new life form: a butterfly. This “renewing” of the mind (Greek “anakainōsis”) means a “complete renewal, renovation, complete change for the better.” So we are to be changed into another form, into a new form, and it’s to be for the better, in the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18).Influencing or Being Influenced
When we are born again, we have new minds with new attitudes (Ephesians 4:23), strive to please God more than ourselves (Ephesians 5:10), and have put on a completely new self, which is being renewed in knowledge and into the image of the Creator (Colossians 3:10). This rebirth is done by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5), which is why we don’t conform ourselves to as many evil desires as we used to (1 Peter 1:14). If this is not happening to you, then ask yourself if you’re influencing the world or if the world’s influencing you.
Father, You alone can change my heart and give me a new one by taking out the old stony heart. I needed heart surgery, and I need to be influencing the world for You and not letting the world influence me. Only by the power of Your Spirit can I do that, and that’s what I pray for in Jesus’ great name.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Did you know that God long ago preordained or appointed things for us to do to make a difference in the world? If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be and what are you doing about it today? For one thing, I know it’s not God’s will that anyone perish outside of faith in Christ (2 Peter 3:9), and God doesn’t take any pleasure at all in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23, 32). We can change the world by entering into the harvest of human souls for Christ and His glory. We can change the world by praying for God to send forth more laborers to enter into the harvest with us because the harvest is so great (Luke 10:2). We know that’s God’s will, and we know it can change the world, even if it’s one soul at a time.
Producing Fruit Appointed to Us
Jesus clears up the misconception that we choose Him. Rather, He chose us and and appointed us to bear fruit (John 15:16). This fruit-bearing will glorify God and will change those around us. If others see this fruit, they might have the hunger for it, and we can point them to the Vine, as Jesus is the vine Who produced the fruit in us. If they crave this fruit, maybe they’ll seek out the Vine. They too can be attached and produce fruit to eternal life, which will in turn draw more people to the Vine. No one can produce any fruit unless they are attached to this True Vine (John 15:1, 5) but will be cast into the fire (John 15:6). That’s what God has purposed for us. It not only changes us but can change those around us, which can change the world, even if it’s in your little corner of the world.
Vessels Appointed by God
In Paul’s last letter written to Timothy, Paul tells him that those who are cleansed by God can be instruments for special purposes and can be useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work (2 Timothy 2:21). Paul’s point is that we can be useful vessels of God for different good works in this world, and any good done for the Master will change the world, even if it’s in small ways, but that’s okay. There are many things you can do to change the world such as feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, visiting the sick and those in prison (Matthew 25:42-44). Once again, let me ask you: What would you say is one thing you’d like to change in the world? If you’ve identified what that is–and there are plenty of things you can do to help change the world–are you doing anything about it? I ask myself the same question.
Great Creator God in heaven, help me to find at least one good thing I can do to change the world, even if it’s in the place where I live or work. I need Your Spirit’s help to change the world because I cannot change anything by myself. In Jesus’ name I pray for Your help.
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
Learning to Walk by Falling
When our youngest was learning how to walk, she was very persistent. She would fall time and again, yet she’d get back up and start trying to walk all over again. How did she learn how to walk? It was by falling so often. She learned from her mistakes, and that learning allowed her to eventually know how to walk. Proverbs 24:16 says that even if “the righteous fall seven times, they rise again,” and by falling so much, we learn how to stay on our feet better. I have learned more from my mistakes than almost anything else in my life. Experience is the best teacher, and, yes, it’s a hard lesson at times, but those are the ones we don’t easily forget. Since we learn from our mistakes, why are we still so afraid to make them? Everything that happens to us always works out for our best anyway (Romans 8:28).
Learning to Run by Walking
No one learns how to run before they can walk, and no one learns how to walk before they can crawl even though I’ve heard there are a few exceptions to this. When babies start to crawl, they are apparently learning how to coordinate their arms and legs and have them in sync with one another. This helps prepare them for their first attempts at walking. Track stars don’t just jump out of the crib. They must first learn to crawl and then walk, and only then can they ever hope to run. Imagine if a child was afraid of making mistakes when they were learning how to walk. If their fear of making mistakes was greater than their desire to walk, then nobody would be walking today. I am not denying that they have fear and that it’s not legitimate, but we learn so much from our mistakes. So why are we afraid of making them? The bottom line is to obey God and then leave all the consequences up to Him (Ecclesiastes 12:13).Learning to Soar by Running
There is an urban legend that says eaglets in an eagle’s nest have their mother push them out of the nest when they‘re nearly ready to fly, and then she takes them back up by her magnificent wings. According to Jessica Griffiths, coordinator of the Big Sur Ornithology Lab, ornithologists have observed eagles coaxing, even taunting their young from the nest rather than just giving them a shove. When the fledgling eagle is almost ready to fly, parents have been observed to swoop by the nest with a fresh kill. Instead of landing in the nest as usual to share the meal, the parent lands near the nest and eats in plain view of it’s squawking, hungry teenager. This behavior continues until the fledgling is hungry enough to venture out of the nest, at which point the parent will share. My point is that the parent has an all-important role in encouraging, not pushing, their children to be willing to make mistakes and not be afraid of making them because that’s exactly how they learn.
Heavenly Father, I too am sometimes afraid to make mistakes, but I know I lose a valuable learning opportunity by avoiding doing anything at all for fear of making a mistake. Please help me to be willing to make mistakes so that I can learn from them, not intentionally seeking to make mistakes but to not be afraid of them when I make them. In Jesus’ name.
1 JOHN 2:17
And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
What Is Passing Away
A few years ago I heard a man who claimed to be a believer almost loathe the idea that Christ could come at any moment. It was because he had just retired and wanted to enjoy his retirement for a time. That really puzzled me. What would be better: heaven or retirement on Earth? I think it’s no contest. Heaven must be off the charts compared to this world. Solomon pursued everything his eyes lusted after and kept nothing back (Ecclesiastes 2:10), and he had the wealth to have anything he wanted–all, that is, except joy. Those who are engrossed in the things of the world may not realize it, but this world is passing away (1 Corinthians 7:31), and someday this will all burn up (1 Peter 3:10-12). Are we so comfortable with our life that, if given a choice, we might want Christ to delay His coming?
Getting Attached to the World
I do a lot of writing on the Internet, but I don’t always make the best use of my time. Surfing the Internet is okay, but there’s always the riptide. It can be a dangerous place for the eyes. When Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, he talked like we should live as if time is short and the Lord’s return could be soon (1 Corinthians 7:29-30). If Paul thought it was soon, what about our day? We’re 2,000 years closer to Christ’s coming than Paul was. But think about this: Everyone has an appointment with death and after that the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). The judgment is not for the believers’ sins but for those who refused to repent and trust in Christ. They will face Christ at the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:12-15), but we will still have to give an account for how we lived in this life (Romans 14:12, 1 Corinthians 5:10).
Shame at His Coming
The Apostle John once wrote that we should remain in fellowship with Christ so that on the day of His return, we can face Him courageously and not shrink back in shame (1 John 2:28). John would never have written that if he wasn’t concerned it could happen. Jesus said that He’s going to come when nobody’s expecting Him, which is why He said we must always be ready (Matthew 24:44). We don’t know the day or the hour, so we must keep watch (Matthew 24:42) because it’ll be as swift as when the lightning becomes visible in the east and appears in the west. The question of this devotional is something I must ask myself, too. Is my life so comfortable on Earth that if Jesus returned today I might ask if He could come back later?
Father, I know I get attached to the things of this world, but only Your kingdom is eternal. Help me to live in eager expectation of Your swift and sure arrival, which could be at any moment. In the name of this coming King of kings and Lord of lords I pray.
1 KINGS 19:10
He said, ‘I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.’
Are You the Only Believer in Your Family?
Have you ever felt alone in your faith? Are you perhaps the only one in your family who is a Christian? Maybe you’re married to an unbeliever. These are very hard places to be, but you’re not alone in this. Elijah once felt as if he were the only prophet left in all of Israel (1 Kings 19:10) and that He was the last true believer against all the other false prophets (1 Kings 18:22), but he really wasn’t. He felt forsaken and that he was the last one left who worshiped God, believing he was the only one left in all of Israel (I Kings 19:14). Yet God told Elijah there were still 7,000 left who hadn’t bowed the knee to Baal (1 Kings 19:18). Maybe you are the only one in your family who’s a believer, but you’re truly not alone. Maybe your life will draw them to Christ. Maybe that’s exactly why God has placed you there.
Are You the Only Believer at Work?
If you are the only believer at your workplace, you might be the only light they will ever see that can shine in the darkness amidst all those lost souls. We are commanded to be a beacon of light and of hope and to let our light shine before others so that they can see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven. These works don’t save you, of course, but they might attract others to the light that is found in Christ, as He is the light of the world (John 1:4-5, 7-9). If they see His light in you, they might want a closer look at this Christ Whom you worship. Maybe they’ll see your honorable behavior (1 Peter 2:12). Maybe that’s exactly why God’s placed you where you are: to point people to Christ and to see their need for the Savior.Are You the Only Believer in Your Neighborhood?
Maybe you’re alone in your neighborhood as far as being a Christ-follower is concerned. If so, God wants to use you to go into all the world to make disciples for Christ. And because we’re commanded to go into all the world (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8), we can’t forget about right next door. Paul knew what this was like as the apostle to the Gentiles, and he wrote to the Corinthians that he wanted to do what was right, not only before the eyes of the Lord but in the eyes of man (2 Corinthians 8:21). If you live a life that’s above reproach, they won’t have anything bad to say about you unless they lie about it (Titus 2:8). So let me ask you again and ask myself the same questions. What if we were the only Christian someone knew? Would our actions make them want to know more about Jesus? That is my prayer for us.
Father, please help me to know that people are watching and seeing what is the hope that is found within me. I need Your Spirit so that I can live a life that’s transformed and draw men, women, and children to Christ so that they might be saved. In the Savior’s holy name I pray.
2 CORINTHIANS 10:12
Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.
Compared to Whom?
If we are comparing ourselves to others, which I have surely done, we quickly find out that we often fall short. But the thing is, the God that I worship is the same God that my brothers and sisters in Christ worship. Why wouldn’t He want to do great things for you and me as well as for them? In our fallen human nature, it is so easy to be jealous of the success of others, but we only see the success and not the many failures or heartaches and all the hard work that likely preceded their success. No great success comes without great suffering. Besides, the Bible commands us to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). We can’t pick and choose what we’ll do in the things that our brothers and sisters in Christ go through because there’s a time to weep and mourn and a time to laugh and rejoice (Ecclesiastes 3:4). Job wept with those who mourned, and his soul grieved with those who were poor (Job 30:25). We must be glad for their successes and their victories but also their defeats and heartaches.
Not a Fair Comparison
It’s really not a fair comparison to compare ourselves with one another. Besides, it’s an unwise thing to do (2 Corinthians 10:12). God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11), so neither should we. Think about this: God loves them just as much as He loves you. He doesn’t love them any more than you, nor does He love them any less than you. We all need to realize that God loves us all equally. He might not like what we do equally, but as far as His love is concerned, it is truly unconditional. You can’t do anything that would make Him love you less, nor could you do anything that would make Him love you more. He might love or might not like what we do, but His love remains the same–it is constant, even when we aren’t.
Let God Be God
Like ancient Israel, it is so easy to grumble in the estate of life that we lead. Many others have more possessions and wealth than we do. Some have greater jobs and homes. Some have bigger families and more children. Some have a believing spouse while we might not. All you can do is thank God for whatever you have right now. By the way, the opposite is always true. There are always some who are much less blessed than we are. Just be thankful for what God has already given you. There is no greater gift than to have eternal life, right? Everything else on this earth will burn up (2 Peter 3:10-12), but all those things we do for Christ will remain. So if you’re tempted to compare your life to others, just remember that the same God they worship is the same God that you and I do. He loves them equally. What prevents Him from doing great things for you, too? The answer, of course, is nothing.
Father, please help me to have an attitude of gratitude, to be thankful for what I have been given and for what others have been blessed with, and to know that Your love is the same for all of Your children. For that I am thankful and pray in the King’s name, Jesus Christ.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Grace has been described as something God gives to us that we don’t deserve and certainly could never earn by even our best works (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is a totally free gift that is unmerited and unearned. The only thing we brought to the cross were our sins. Yet God loved us while we were still His enemies (Romans 5:10). Nothing we did and nothing we could ever do would earn God’s forgiveness. How could anyone put a price on the blood that Jesus shed on the cross and for the suffering that He endured during His crucifixion? It is beyond human comprehension to even fathom how great a price this was. Why then do we struggle with giving or being generous to others, who like us don’t deserve it. What if Jesus reacted that way before going to Calvary?No More Condemnation
How do you react when you hear someone got off from a crime that you know they committed but had to be released because of a technicality in the law? If you’re like me, it makes you really mad. Well, we received the forgiveness of our sins when we didn’t deserve it either. I know it’s not the same thing, but we were pardoned when we deserved God’s judgment, and we didn’t get off on a technicality either because God knew our hearts and we had no good excuse and no good cause to be forgiven, except for God’s mercy. Mercy has been described as something where we don’t get what we really deserve: God’s punishment. Jesus took the punishment we deserved when He deserved none of it. If we have trusted in Him, there is no more condemnation for us (Romans 8:1). So why do we struggle to give more because we feel someone else does not deserve it? I am glad Jesus didn’t feel that way.Forgiving as Forgiven
We are told to forgive others just as we have been forgiven (Ephesians 4:32). Since the Lord has forgiven us, we are obligated to forgive others and to bear with one another and live with a forgiving attitude (Colossians 3:13). Jesus said that if we will forgive others who sin against us, God will forgive us because we’ve sinned against Him (Matthew 6:14). It is a glorious thing to overlook the offenses of others (Proverbs 19:11). We have been forgiven so much more than we could ever forgive others in a million lifetimes. So my question to you and me is this: Do we struggle to give more because we feel someone else does not deserve it? Now think about this: What if Jesus had done the same thing when He was here on Earth?
Father in heaven, forgive me for the times I’ve not been forgiving of others. There is no way I should not be willing to forgive others so much less for all the greater sins that I have committed against You, a Holy God. In Jesus’ precious name, I pray for Your forgiveness.
Nothing can stop you from entering the depths of My love except wrong thoughts and beliefs about who I am. I want to take you deeper, but you must see another dimension of My heart to become willing to abandon yourself more fully to Me. The enemmy wants you to fear the new level I desire to bring you into. But My perfect love will cast out fear if you let it. Meditate on My love for you , and follow me into the secret plance, where I can share the depth of my comassion for you. You will never be the same.
1 John 4:18, Ps 91:1
I want to go deeper with you show me where my thougts and beliefs are out of line with your truth. Show me you heart of love and compassion for me Take me to you secret place, where I can come to know you better.
My hand is always on you, When you go through the fire, My hand is on you. When you walk through the wilderness, My hand is on you. Even in the valley of the shadow of death My hand is on you. On the Mountaintop of victory My hand is on you, In the valley of the shadow of death My hand is on you. On the mountaintop of victory My hand is on you. In the overflow of abundance and in the scarcity of lack My hand is on you. Whether in sorrow or in rejoicing, My hand is on you, Remember this truth in every season, good or bad.
I am in control, and I am ordering your steps. So walk in faith knowing that My hand is on you and no one can take you from Me. (Ps. 23:4) (Phil. 4:12-13)
Prayer: I am so grateful that you are always with me, no matter what season, test, or trial I walk through! Please give me a greater revelation of Your grace and Your presense in the midst of the hard times. I am content in Your presence.
Your capacity to receive from my spirit will continue to expand as your move out in fait toward what lies ahead.. That requires yu to shake some things loose that have held you back, slowed you down, or hindered your progress. You have seen some of these things but Have been blind to others.
I will show you what you need to see when you need to see it. When I show you , move out in faith, get in agreement with me. Let it gok and don't look back, I want more of you . Embrace more of Me. Welcome the change m spirit brings. It's good.
Hebrews 12:1 Ps. 119:18
Prayer : Open the eyes of my heart! help me to see those things I cannot see that are diluting my faith I want to see the way you see so I can agree with your heart. I welcome the changes you are making in my life. I yield to you.
Mornings with the Holy Spirit.