We will go through seasons in our faith journey. Some seasons we'll be standing on top of the mountain screaming God's goodness, and then they'll be others where we can barely open up the Bible or say a prayer. It's okay. Jesus knows this. Remember, He felt some of the same peaks and valleys we do when He came down from heaven to save us once and for all.
"Jesus replied, 'Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)
Don't "lose" faith, even if you feel it shrinking. Like a muscle, our faith can only grow if it's stretched, exercised and even weakened at times. That's what makes our faith/muscle stronger! And, our Lord is the best personal trainer there ever was! He knows our limits, so don't be surprised to see Him press 'em. As our spotter and helper, God will step in when He sees we've reached that limit and can't take it anymore (just before the weight of it all is about to crush us). But like any good trainer, He doesn't want to see us quit before He steps in and lends a hand.
Keep pushing. Keep going. Keep seeking His encouragement and direction through prayer, reading and spending time with other Christians.
"But if I were you, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted." (Job 5: 8-9)
Do you believe in miracles? I do. I have no idea what, where, why, or when they may take place, but I do know "He" does, and that's good enough for me!
How about you?
Move that mountain that stands in front of you as Jesus said you could. Or better yet, pray to the Lord to get you on top of it, so you can exclaim His goodness and glory for ALL to hear!
"Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
The world has “soft” wired us to try to solve our own problems and create our own happiness. We’ll typically look everywhere around us, searching for answers to what we think we need to make us happy. After all, if we can’t do it our ourselves, then we’re considered “weak” right?
Well, here’s the good news. You can stop trying to do it on your own, because in your weakness, God is strong!
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
I made significant mistakes in my life that I thought only I could solve, and believe me, I sure tried to. What were the consequences of trying to solve my own problems? Anger, depression, loss of purpose, and allowing the enemy to rob me of the current day’s joy. Sure, through the numbing effects of worldly placebos, I could escape my troubles from time to time, but those times were short lived. Versus the "soft" wiring of the world, the Lord has ACTUALLY “hard” wired us to seek Him in our struggles. One day, I FINALLY did. It was only through surrendering my life to Christ that things changed. Praise Jesus!
On that day, there was again purpose. On that day, there was again joy.
Does that mean that all our struggles, worries and cares magically disappear? No, but there is now a peace that God is in control and all we need to do is trust Him. “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
If you’re tired of trying to solve your own problems, or creating your own happiness, “Let go and Let God”. Our Lord and Savior is ready to help. All you need to do is ask Him.
“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
“It’s a small world” is a phrase we often use when we learn something from someone that makes the world seem so much smaller than it really is. But is that the case or is it that our God is THAT big!?!
In these encounters or conversations, we can’t quite believe they are really happening, thus we think they are random or are taking place by chance. In other words, we believe them to be “coincidences”.
Merriam Webster defines coincidence as: the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection. Are these occurrences/coincidences really accidents or could it be that God has “arranged” them for our good and for His purpose?
Just think about how many times in your life you’ve said or thought, “what a coincidence!” Personally, I’ve said it so many times since coming to Christ, that I’ve now come to the conclusion there are indeed NO coincidences, but only “God”-incidences! These God-incidences can occur through people, places, objects from your past or even something as simple as noticing certain times on a clock on regular basis.
God has proven to me that these seemingly random events are His way of encouraging my faith and providing me gentle reminders that He’s ALWAYS with me. When you see God, you will see God in everything.
Are you looking? If not, then start.
If you are looking, and you encounter a God-incidence, then stop what you’re doing and immediately give God the glory for it!
For you see, the more you acknowledge God’s work in your life, the more He’ll reveal Himself to you. And the more He reveals Himself to you, the more at peace you will be.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
When it comes to sin, we often think about some obvious ones such as greed, pride, lust, adultery, even murder, just to name a few. It may not be easy to sidestep ALL these each day, but with a little effort, I certainly think it can be done. However, how about some less obvious “sins” such as worry, anxiousness and trying to forge your own path rather than trusting in God’s plan for you? Much, much, more difficult I’d say from personal experience (up and to including today).
The world pulls us in many different directions on a daily basis. Between bills that need to be paid, our spouse, kids, our health, difficult clients, etc., there always seems to be a neverending list of "stuff" to worry about. Ever think about what all this worrying says to God? Quite simply it means that we don’t "trust" Him enough to take care of whatever it is we’re anxious about. Ouch. This, even after God has said, “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11). Sounds pretty cut and dry to me. God not only is not out to harm us, but instead, has already planned our future. So, with that in mind, what’s there really to worry about? For “if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
Believe me, I know it’s difficult not to stress out when the unexpected happens, our bank account is hovering near zero, or we’re thinking about an upcoming work project, but that’s where we need to stop the worrying and start the praying! “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7). By simply praying, we are telling God that we NEED Him, and we can’t solve all these issues on our own. Furthermore, why WOULD we want to try to take on these worries by ourselves, as God already knows what’s going to happen!
Now, there may not be an immediate answer to your prayer, or you may get an answer you weren’t hoping for, but through prayer, you’ll have the peace of mind in knowing that God is on the case (and He’ll be pleased you even asked!). Even if the unexpected happens, you’ll be sure it was indeed God’s will, and He’ll figure out a way to strengthen and help you through it. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). And, regardless of the outcome, “May the Lord of peace give you peace in every circumstance.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16). If the choice is between “peace" (with God) or “worry” (on our own) I think the answer is obvious.
When you find yourself worrying, try this three-step solution. First, ask God’s forgiveness for your lack of faith. We are imperfect, so sin will happen in our lives, but it’s important to acknowledge these sins to our Heavenly Father. It’s ok to ask, as He will respond by pouring out His abundant and forgiving grace upon us because He loves us so. Second, pray for His guidance in the situation. Tell Him exactly how you are feeling and what you’d like to see happen (doesn't mean you'll get what you want, but it's ok to share your thoughts). Finally, release all your concerns into His capable hands. God created the entire universe so I’m quite confident He can handle whatever it is you have going on. “Trust” God’s answer to the concerns you release onto Him, as it is His will for you. We may not like the answer we receive, or even understand it at the time, but God does, and that’s all that’s important.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8). What we may perceive as bad, God may be using for our own good, and then for His glory down the road, so "always" keep the faith and "stop" all the worrying.
Are you in the midst of a wilderness place, feeling harassed or exhausted?
Friend, Jesus knows exactly how you feel. In Luke 4, we read about Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness by the devil. The intense period of spiritual warfare must have been hard for Jesus. He was fully God, yes. But, He was also fully human.
Now when I have experienced spiritual attacks, I often assume that I must be doing something wrong. But Luke 4 tells a different story. In fact, just before walking into this wilderness warfare, Jesus had just been baptized by John. The heavens had opened and God communicated His pleasure in His Son.
That’s valuable context for us. Sometimes when we experience God’s favor, we will endure Satan’s fury. Friend, this hard season may not be because you are doing something wrong. Maybe it’s because you are doing something very, very right.
- Whitney Capps
There will be times in our lives when God will put us on a "need to know" basis.
Maybe you lost your job, your marriage is falling apart, or a child is going down the wrong path in life. Or maybe, a friend or family member has just been diagnosed with cancer or suddenly dies.
These are the times when we tend to look to God for answers. However, sometimes the only answer we receive is none at all.
Does that mean that our Lord doesn't care what we are going through? Absolutely not. In fact, by leaving heaven and becoming man, Jesus knows "exactly" how we feel during these times.
What it does mean, is that God wants us to trust Him and know that this is happening for a reason (even when we can't possibly understand how).
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." (Proverbs 3:5)
God understands when you don't. And, most importantly, He loves you.
Rest in His promises and assurances that this too shall pass, and He'll use this suffering for some kind of good in the end.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)
Enjoy the blessings that the Lord provides you while you can, as you never know when they'll be gone.
Praise His name at all times and in all circumstances, as this life is only the beginning, and there is so much more awaiting us when our Savior comes again.
"Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later." (Romans 8:28)
The book of Isaiah was written approximately 700 BC. In other words, God foretold the birth, life and crucifixion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, seven centuries BEFORE the actual event!
Don't believe me?
Read Isaiah chapter 53 for yourself:
"Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely, he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore, I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors."
How can one read the above and then spend their entire life denying Christ?
God knew from the very beginning that we would be in need of a savior. And, because He loved us so much, He provided His only son to be just that (as well as telling us well in advance of His plan).
God loves you. Jesus died for you. Your salvation is there for the asking.
What else are you waiting for?
"If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord', and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved." (Romans 10:9-10)
“How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog--it's here a little while, then it's gone.” (James 4:14)
You are here today by the grace and mercy of our Lord and Savior. With that in mind, why focus or worry about tomorrow (as it robs you of the joy that He has given you “today”)? You have no idea what is going to happen tomorrow, so don't worry about it.
You don’t even know what's going to happen the rest of today!
“Don't brag about tomorrow, since you don't know what the day will bring.” (Proverbs 27:1)
Tomorrow is God’s domain, not yours. His sovereignty trumps any of your thoughts or plans for what you may wish or plan for your life after this day is done.
"So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:34)
God wants you to enjoy today. He knows your future. He knows what’s in store for you. Worrying about what’s going to happen next in your life won’t change a thing.
“Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” (Matthew 6:27)
Short answer to the above is “no”. But, what you can rely on, are the promises of God to those who believe in Him.
Do you believe it God’s path for your life?
“For I know the plans I have for you, 'declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Even when you are going through hard times, even sufferings you never thought possible, understand that God is STILL by your side. God loves you. God hasn’t forsaken you.
There’s a reason for why this is happening.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28)
Trust Him. God knows what He’s doing.
When you surrender your life to Jesus you can rest in the assurance that, even though in this life you'll encounter troubles, He has overcome this life and will continue His work in you until He comes again.
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6)
If you are looking for love and support from other people, or the things of this world, at some point you will be disappointed.
"Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." (Colossians 3:2)
It's only through a personal relationship with Christ that you can have a true anchor in your life. One that will never move from you. One that will never change its love for you.
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8)
Surrender your life to Jesus and rest in His assurance of everlasting love and peace. You can trust Him, as He cannot lie.
"God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?" (Numbers 23:19)
God will fulfill His promises to you. He will provide for your needs. He will NEVER forsake you. He will NEVER change His mind about His love for you.
"Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow." (James 1:17)
Either start making, or make even more room, for God in your life. The more room you make, the more work He can do in you.
Don't give up. God wants to help.
"That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever." (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
Give up the world and give "in" to the Lord.
"And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice--the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. " (Romans 12:1-2)
Whether you've accepted Christ into your life yet or not, backsliding into old sinful ways and habits is a real danger.
The devil is on the prowl just waiting to drag you back into the darkness where he has much more control over you (1 Peter 5:8). But, there's hope!
You don't need to fight these battles on your own. If you have so far that's great, but it's only through a personal relationship with Jesus will you be able to defeat the enemy once and for all.
"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7)
For you see, only Jesus has been able to conquer sin once and for all. You might have some short term success, but ONLY through Christ will you have "eternal" success!
How do you know the difference? Let's take a look.
"But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into God's family do not make a practice of sinning, because God's life is in them. So they can't keep on sinning, because they are children of God. So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God." (1 John 3:8-10)
Don't get me wrong, we will ALL stumble from time to time and sin. The difference is when you surrender your life to Jesus, the old you dies and you are born again.
"This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" 2 Corinthians 5:17
You'll still sin, but with the Holy Spirit now guiding your life, you'll see a significant improvement in resisting temptation and staying out of situations that would have normally caused you to sin.
"Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit's leading in every part of our lives." (Galatians 5:25)
Lastly, because Jesus died on the cross for our sins, they have all been forgiven...past, present and future!
Don't fight this war on your own. Give your life to Christ and be at peace.
"If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved." (Romans 10:9-10)
"But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul." (Deuteronomy 4:29)
Have you sought God with all your heart and all your soul yet? He wants you to. In fact, He's pursuing you right now.
"'For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness." (Ezekiel 34:11-12)
But, beware of the enemy who is after you as well.
"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8)
Listen for God's voice and watch for His encouragements as you journey in faith.
"I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd." (John 10:16)
In fact, the Lord will chase down the "one" while leaving the rest unattended. You're that important to Him.
"What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish." (Matthew 18:12-14)
And what happens when you are finally found and you give your life to Jesus?
"I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." (Luke 15:7)
There has never been, nor ever will be a shepherd like our Lord and Savior. Jesus literally gave up His life to save "us", His sheep.
"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me-- just as the Father knows me and I know the Father--and I lay down my life for the sheep." (John 10:14-15)
That's sacrifice. That's love. That's how you can now live in peace forevermore.
"The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." (Psalm 23:1-6)
Faith is a journey. No two of us will have the same one. But, in order to go on this journey, "you" have to make the conscious choice to start it.
All God needs is for you to make a little room for Him (each day if you can). The more room you give Him, the more work He can do.
What does "room" mean? Room can be anything that involves spending one on one time with the Lord. Whether it's reading the Bible or devotions, listening to online messages or songs, or even simply praying.
Get away from all the noise of the world and seek His light. A jouney in faith is a progression that will culminate in salvation and everlasting life for whoever diligently seeks Christ.
Are you ready?
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. " (Matthew 6:33)
"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13)
"If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved." (Romans 10:9-10)
"I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears." (Psalm 34:4)
Once you've surrendered your life to Jesus, He'll want to start using you right away to spread His message of hope and salvation.
"Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them." (Isaiah 43:7)
Have you surrendered yet? If not, there's no time like the present (Romans 10:9-10). If you have, are you living a life where God "can" use you yet?
Upon receiving Christ, the Holy Spirit will begin a lifetime of shaping and molding your thoughts and actions.
"Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand." (Isaiah 64:8)
The key is to let Him continue to transform you, and not fall back into your old sinful habits.
"If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work." (2 Timothy 2:21)
There are so many people living in darkness that God desires your new life to be one that exemplifies His goodness, and will attract those lost souls to Him.
"No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or hides it under a bed. A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house." (Luke 8:16)
Are you living a life that will attract others to Christ?
In EVERYTHING you do, big or small, do your very best.
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters." (Colossians 3:23)
Remember that not only are other people watching you, but so is your Creator.
Acknowledge at all times the gift of salvation you received via the sacrifice of your Lord and Savior. Praise His name on all occassions and in every circumstance, as it is He, not you, that make ALL things possible.
Be the lamp God wants you to be and give Him the glory as He works through you from this day forward.
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Nature is one of God's beautiful creations. Through nature, God is able to teach us, speak to us, and provide for us. Are you listening?
"3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." (John 1:3)
"7 But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; 8 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. 9 Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? 10 In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind." (Job 12:7-10)
"11 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. 12 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy." (Psalm 96:11-12)
"1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." (Psalm 19:1)
Our Lord is one marvelous and glorious Creator and artist, is He not? ♥🕆♥
An interesting fact; In the process of purifying gold, a lesser metal is added - lead. This acts as the object that strips away the impurities, along with the heat.
Now, look at your life: God has allowed people and situations to come in your life to act as the lead that will strip away some of your impurities. And He has even allowed the situation to heat up. But be encouraged, because when He is done, your faith will be as pure as gold!
"These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold--though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world." (1 Peter 1:7)
The choice is very clear, you can either accept Jesus into your life "or" reject Him.
God is always at the door of your life. Knocking and waiting for you to answer. Notice, there's no doorknob on Jesus' side of the door. It's a door that only opens from the "inside". A door that only YOU can open.
Have you answered yet? If not, don't delay, as He's just waiting to come in.
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)
I can attest to the above personally.
I did not have my priorities where they needed to be for far too long and, quite frankly, I was worshipping the wrong master.
"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." (Matthew 6:24)
I chased after money and the selfish things of this world like they were the only things that would fulfill me. Dreaming of becoming a millionaire and staring at stock charts (even "in" church) became an obsession. Gratefully, the Lord was very patient with me, and I finally came to understand what master I SHOULD be serving ("thank you" Jesus!).
You see, the world has almost a hypnotic trance on us all. Satan has many, many tools to get us sidetracked and distracted. If it's not money, maybe it's a job, hobby, working out, politics, or even family. "Anything" we put ahead of God, is the master we are serving. Take some time and think about where your priorities lay right now.
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)
Don't chase after the temptations of this world, nor listen to the enemy's lies (they'll only lead to heartache and a place you sure don't want to be in the end). Trust that God has a better plan for your life. Don't wait until something "happens" to take this step.
God wants you to be closer to Him, because He knows the closer you are to Him, the further away you'll be from the world.
"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." (Matthew 6:33)
In moments of utter pain, fear, and confusion, it can be so hard to believe God is fighting our battles.
It can even feel impossible to sit idle and let God do all the fighting for us. So here are some scriptures to cling to in the middle of these times...
“The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.”
- Exodus 14:14
“I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.”
- Psalm 91:14-15
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me.”
- Psalm 138:7
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
- Psalm 46:1
“The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all.”
- Psalm 34:19
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
- Isaiah 41:10
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
- Deuteronomy 31:6
The bottom line is "trust" in the Lord when storms appear, be patient as the winds blow you from side to side, and know that God is working things out for your good AND His glory!
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
- Romans 8:28
"Hate the sin, love the sinner" has been a popular phrase for quite some time. And how true, especially when you consider we are ALL sinners!
It is only through the repentance of our sins, and asking Jesus into our hearts, does that change once and for all. Have you taken that crucial step yet? If not, don't wait! (Romans 10:9-10)
Basically, what that popular saying means is that we can disagree with what that person is doing, but we can still love them. Amen. Even though we still love that person, there are also times, "loving them", means speaking the truth about what they are doing (whether they want to hear it or not).
"Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love." (1 John 4:7-8)
Never shy away, nor feel bad about, speaking a truth that can save another person's life for all eternity! In the end, what they are doing is between them and our Lord and Savior. But just think, God may have put YOU in that person's life to tell them "exactly" what they need to hear!
Don't shy away from the truth, as it is that very truth you speak that may "finally" set that person free. (John 8:32)
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)
"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8)
Satan is father of lies (John 8:44). He enjoys nothing more than messing with our minds by telling us we don't deserve God's love and reminding us of our past mistakes. Don't believe it for one second! "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7)
Tell the enemy to hit the road and guard your heart:
"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." (Proverbs 4:23)
"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7)
"Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong." (Ephesians 3:17)
With Jesus in your heart, they'll be no room for satan's lies in your mind.
When you accept Jesus into your life everything changes. Why? Because Jesus, via the Holy Spirit, now resides in your heart. Your old "heart" is gone and you are born again.
Not only is there a new found peace and salvation through accepting Christ, but you actually now "want" to do what is always right versus thinking you "have" to.
God's own Spirit will now help lead your life, counsel you as you make decisions, and even discipline you when you make a poor choice (often known as "grieving the Spirit").
Check it out:
“But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the Law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” (Romans 7:6)
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” (See John 16:13)
“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
From the moment the Holy Spirit enters your heart, He begins to change you from the inside out. This is a process called "sanctification" and will last your entire life here in earth. He'll not only remind you right from wrong, but will also help you overcome obstacles that are standing between you and a "closer" relationship with God.
When you can't seem to "kick" a particular habit or practice that you feel (or know) is sinful, "pray" to God and ask that the Spirit work on it for you.
Believe it or not, God does "not" want you to conquer this vice on your own. He actually "wants" you to acknowledge you can't do it on your own, and that you need His help. And if He wants to help, why wouldn't you take it?
You make, not only the decision of a lifetime, but of ALL ETERNITY when you surrender your life to Jesus! Rejoice in it, enjoy the process of becoming "more" like Christ each and every day, and rest in the peace that can only come from a life of living for your Heavenly Father.
BY JOSHUA PAUL
What if we’re simply over complicating life?
In all honesty, if you’re anything like me, I’m guilty of over complicating things occasionally. Unconsciously, I think it’s up to me to figure out every detail of my life’s direction and that God plays a smaller role in that process. Thankfully, the exact opposite is true. Throughout scripture we read about a God who leads His people in the way they are to go. He is faithful and His guidance is perfect.
What if life boiled down to these 5 simple scriptural references?
Matthew 22:36-40 – “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Love God. Love people. With every ounce of energy we’ve got – simply love.
Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Seek out His kingdom and righteousness. He’ll take care of the provision – food, clothes, shelter, etc.
Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”
Trust that He is a good Father. Rest in the fact that He created the universe. When things looks to be at there worst, pause and trust in His sovereignty. He is well able to lead us in the path custom designed for each of His children. He won’t let us down. He is always faithful and will never forsake us.
Psalm 37:4 – “Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
Look at this promise. If we enjoy Him, He will make our dreams, hopes and desires come true. That sounds like an amazing deal!
Mark 16:15 – “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’”
We get to approach life in whatever way He’s called each of us and tell people the good news of Jesus Christ. This idea of “preaching” might intimidate some of us. Maybe start by preaching the gospel to houseplants, dogs or cats? Jesus did say “every creature,” so start small if need be. Simply go and tell about the hope within!
Hopefully this has relieved some of the anxiety that goes along with the pressing need to immediately figure out God’s will for your entire life. Remember to keep it simple.
Love. Seek. Trust. Delight. Go.
JANUARY 26, 2017
From Stacy Hord-Hulm:
Some of you are bearing a lot of guilt from past mistakes. Some of you parents feel you could have done better, Some of you feel that your marriage failure is your fault. Some of you spent years in an addiction and now you see the fallout on your family. So now you carry a heavy load, feeling that you could have changed the present if you just would have been better in the past.
Maybe - and maybe not. I've counseled many women who "did it right," waiting for marriage to have sex, and their husbands still left them for other women. I seen great parents who did everything right, only to watch their kids make life-altering mistakes. I've seen perfect drivers hit by drunk drivers. I've seen innocent people hurt by malicious people.
But no matter what happens in our lives, whether it was our own fault or the fault of someone else, THERE IS GRACE! And there is redemption.
Do you think if you would have done it "Perfectly" you and your family wouldn't have any troubles now? Don't you know that affliction comes to everyone and it's even a useful part of God's work in our lives? Don't you realize that God can work our mistakes into a beautiful, redemptive story?
It's time to stop carrying that load!!! Okay, you messed up! But God knew that way before we were even born and provided forgiveness and redemption for us through Jesus. So cast your burdens on Him, and move on! Stop predicting what could have been and dwell in the beautiful present where God is with you right now! If you're in a financial pit, he's in it with you! If you're going through a divorce, he's going through it with you! If you're in a well of depression, he's not leaving you! and His plan is to BRING YOU OUT!
You cannot change the past, but God can SURE change your future and your family's future! Receive the grace of Jesus and cast your cares on him today!
2 Kinds of Cheap Grace You Need to Avoid
“Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
Cheap grace is worthless. It tries to rob you of your peace and rest in Christ. Christians always need to be on the lookout for cheap grace and stay far away from it. Here are two kinds of cheap grace that pretend to be the costly grace God gives us in Christ:
1. Grace without Christ
Some people think that God saves us by his grace in Christ, but we must be obedient to get and keep God’s grace fully. There have been various words used over the years to describe this kind of cheap grace, including legalism, prevenient grace, works-righteousness, and covenant faithfulness. You can always recognize this kind of cheap grace by this one test: If someone is telling you that there is something you need to do to add to Jesus’ completed work on your behalf—that Jesus’ finished work is not enough to save you—then you need to run away from this false teaching.
Many Christians are told that this kind of grace is true grace; the people who teach cheap grace may be ignorant, thinking that conditional grace is God’s grace—but it isn’t. There are many verses in the Bible that affirm the truth that salvation comes from outside of us through the work of Christ, not from anything we do (for some examples, see Rom. 5:1; 6–8; 15–17; Rom. 8:1–11; 2 Cor. 3:4–5; 5:17; Eph. 2:8–9; Titus 3:4–7). The works James is talking about in his letter are the fruits of the Holy Spirit’s work in the lives of believers (James 2:14–26). These works do nothing to save a person; rather, they are evidence of a person’s adoption into God’s family in Christ.
2. Grace without the Spirit
Some people think that, because believers are saved by God’s grace in Christ, they can sin whenever they feel like it because God will forgive them anyway. A fancy word for this is antinomianism. This kind of cheap grace does not take into account the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification in the lives of all Christians (John 16:7–15). All believers bear the fruit of the Spirit because they are branches attached to the vine of Christ (John 15:4–5; Gal. 5:22–23; Col. 1:10).
Followers of Christ must continually fight against sin, but that doesn’t mean they will do a perfect job of it in this present world. In fact, they can’t do a perfect job, no matter how hard they try. It has been said, “If you’re still livin’, you’re still sinnin’.” Christians will fail to keep all of God’s commands in this life because, although they are declared righteous in Christ, they are still sinners. The Spirit convicts believers of their sin and leads them to repentance (John 16:8; Rom. 8:14). Believers will experience true sorrow over their sin because they have been bought with a price and have the Spirit living in them (Rom. 7:14–25).
One of the signs that a believer is growing in holiness is the increasing awareness of one’s sin and corresponding desire to stay away from all ungodliness. Christians show gratitude to and love for God by keeping his commandments (John 14:15; Heb. 13:15; 1 John 2:3; 5:3). This obedience is a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving the believer offers up to God; it is never a means to keep—or earn—God’s grace. Just as sometimes children disobey their parents and are disciplined accordingly, God disciplines us because we are his beloved children in Christ, and he will use our failures to teach us through the work of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.
So, what is costly grace? Costly grace is God’s unmerited favor because of Christ’s unfathomable sacrifice for all who trust in him (John 3:16; 1 Cor. 6:20). Because we are sinners, there is nothing we can do to earn the favor of a holy God (Rom. 3:23). God sent his Son to be born in the flesh because there was no other way we could be saved. Jesus did all the work to earn God’s favor on our behalf, so that we could have peace with God and eternal life (Rom. 5:1).
By God’s grace, Christ’s righteousness is counted to us and our sin is counted to Christ, who gave his precious blood as the perfect sacrifice once for all (Rom. 5:12–21; Heb. 7:27; 10:14; 1 Pet. 1:18–19). This grace comes through faith in Christ alone, which is also God’s gift (Eph. 2:8–9). God’s costly grace is amazing, because even though we are guilty before him based on our own insufficient works, God declares us righteous in Christ.
Don’t let the devil rob you of your joy in Christ, for Jesus has already won the victory. The devil’s attempts to make you doubt your salvation will never change the fact that you are declared righteous in Christ alone through faith alone by God’s grace alone—regardless of what the future holds. Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ (Rom. 8:35–39). Cling to your Savior and be at peace.
This article was originally published under the title "Say No to Cheap Grace" at corechristianity.com.
I believe the above to be true in all of our relationships. We can be selfish, concerned only about our own desires, or we can be humble, and fulfill the desires of others over our own.
Which camp do you fall into (with your spouse, kids or friends)?
How about with God?
In this life you have a choice to be selfish, and live for the "things" of this world, or you can surrender your life to Christ, and live a life as He would have you live it.
Now is your time for choosing.
For too long, I had made the wrong choice, but now I've chosen my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and will continue, "to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God." (Micah 6:8)
I pray you do the same.