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“I delight to do your will, O my God, and your law is within my heart,” Psalm 40:8 says. When we truly know the Lord, we want to do right and avoid wrong. This does not come to pass the moment we become believers, but is the result of daily renewing the mind. This process makes God's commandments our joyful mission, not depressing duty.
This excitement to do what the Lord wishes us puts us in the flow of the Holy Spirit and the bountiful blessings from above. “Delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart,” Psalm 37:4 relates. God loves to bless his children. When we are mature in him, we want what he does and do what he requires. It's then spiritually natural for the Almighty to give us what we desire.
“We have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?” says Hebrews 12:9.
Psychologists say the way we see our heavenly Father is often much the same as we do our earthly dad. If our natural father was distant, we see God that way, too,. and vice versa.
God the Father brings us correction and congratulations. He delights to bless us but won't spare the rod when we need it. Our earthly father hopefully acts the same way.
If the Lord corrects us today, he must not be mad; he wants us to grow and mature so we can enjoy all he has for us. Likewise, realize Dad is just trying to set us straight on the narrow road to life. If they didn't care, they wouldn't bother with us.
"All the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself,'" writes Paul in Galatians 5:14. We talk of loving others, but do we really?
Ours is an era of accusing everyone else of not liking this group or that. However, the focus of Scripture is on our own relationship with the Lord through Christ as well as submission to the Word of God and conviction of the Holy Ghost.
In another place, Paul tells us "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Every last person is capable of hatred and evil, even after salvation. Do you revile others for wronging you personally? How about people groups: Caucasians, Latinos, African-Americans, Natives, Asians? Other churches?
I challenge all of us, myself included, to ask God honestly and openly to take this hatred and evil from our hearts. We may be surprised by what is there and of what he will rid us. We shall know the truth, and it will make us free (John 8:32). Here's a song that may help you along: "Choose Ye This Day."
There is so much misrepresentation, slander, libel and outright lying in our society today, the words of 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 are very applicable and timely. The passage states those who follow Antichrist "did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. For this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
Many are trying to speak a false reality into existence daily. News media say officials are "mentally unstable" when getting slightly angry or doing something reporters don't support. Campus activists say that "meritocracy," that is, rewarding people for doing well, is "white privilege." Dishonest politicians utter great swelling words against those in authority, but the details of their charges reveal no proof of their claims.
The "love of the truth" is wanting what is reality with God and man to be known and backed even if it hurts us. In a smaller sense, it speaks to the above examples. In a larger one, it says we must desire the Lord's way rather than ours.
This is more than Republican vs. Democrat, Protestant vs. Catholic, man vs. woman. This is heaven vs. hell, eternity in peace vs. endless damnation. Think and pray before speaking and acting; your forever hangs in the balance, for you will not prevail against Almighty God.
Jesus was not created. "The Word was with God, and the Word was God,” instructs John 1:1. Jesus always has been. He was not made, nor was his birth as a human his beginning.
Christ also was not made lower than the angels, not made nor lower than anything. Some cults and other non-Christian faiths have different ideas, but the Bible is right and anything else is wrong.
If someone comes to you and preaches another philosophy, do not receive that person. He or she is in deception. It may be sincere deception, but hoodwinking nonetheless. Be careful of counterfeits in a day and age full of them.
The world is desperately in need of shalom, Hebrew for "peace." The Lord has it to give.
"The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus," Paul wrote in Philippians 4:7.
In Christ, I've walked through many circumstances that should have scared me to death. It's not that I'm brave, it's that God has kept me in his perfect peace with my soul fixed on him.
At times, I've even thought, "I should be more worried than I am." However, I can't recall a single time that this abiding in peace beyond comprehension ever hurt me in any way. Trust that the Lord's Spirit is able and willing to deliver you from fear and worry as well as anything else.
Count on God! “You will refute every tongue that accuses you,” says Isaiah 54:17. The NIV isn't particularly a favorite of mine, but here, it captures the text and point well.
No weapon formed against us will prosper. God will give his people great wisdom and speech that no one can resist.
Sometimes the matter is settled quickly, other times a while must pass before ultimate success, but the Lord will keep his promises. Know that the battle is not yours, but the Almighty's.
Do you know what God wants for you? “This is the will of God, your sanctification,” says 1 Thessalonians 4:3.
Not too many preachers touch this one. In an era when clergy are adding sugar to the gospel, this verse gets left out all too frequently.
We are not going to be sin-free, but we should be cooperating with God to get the shortcomings out of our lives. Willfully violating the Word damages our relationship with the Lord, while seeking to observe it is our reasonable service.
Let's let go of our worldliness and latch onto a sinless Savior.
“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift you up,” James 4:10 says. This urges us to put ourselves under God's authority, submitting to him and living his way. When we do this, we position ourselves for his peace, power and provision.
Our prayers often focus on particular items we need: money, jobs, favor. That's not necessarily wrong, but if we seek the Lord first, he will cause all these to be added to us (Matthew 6:33).
We Christians need to get more heavenly minded in the sense of prioritizing God and his agenda, conforming to his will and looking to him rather than trying to fit better into a fallen world.
Heaven or hell are the two destinies we have eternally. It's either one or the other; we live with the Lord forever or without him, permanently. That's a stark reality but what the Bible teaches.
We don't get a lot of preaching or teaching on hell these days, as I think many preachers feel that would turn off potential converts or leave a negative taste in believers' mouths. However, getting out the Word about the horrible fate we suffer if we "neglect so great a salvation" in Christ (Hebrews 2:3) is actually an act of love.
Think of it this way: If you had a disease and I possessed a cure, would it be loving for me to withhold it from you? That's what the Christian does when skipping over the reality of the fate of the nonbeliever.
When the faithful share God's truth about eternal judgment, it gives people the opportunity to make an intelligent, informed decision about which place they want to go. If the believer does such in kindness and humility, it is a blessing to the hearer.
We must obey God's commands or risk his wrath. He told Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength. But you would not," in Isaiah 30:15.
The Chosen People would not trust the Lord's promise. Instead, they sought an alliance with Egypt, so God fought against them. When the Almighty goes to war, he never loses.
Have you been constantly battling forces against you? Your resting in Christ, giving the conflicts to him, may be what he is waiting for you to do. In this way, God gets maximum glory: You are at peace while everyone else is worried, and his power scatters the enemy without man's rhyme or reason.
Of your deliverance, all will say, "Only the Lord could have done it." And for once, they will be right.
“This is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith,” 1 John 5:4 tells us. Jesus in John's Gospel states he has overcome our fallen existence; our belief in him and practicing it allows us to rise above.
Looking to Christ gives us access to the intelligence and wisdom that formed the earth and heavens. Living as our Lord says results in the abundant existence he promises.
If we are willing and obedient, then God can bring good for us and him out of any situation. Being unwilling and disobedient lands us square in the middle of the world's spiritual sludge.
The choice is ours: be overcoming or be overwhelmed.
God is patient and kind. "The Lord is … not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance,” says 2 Peter 3:9.
God wants people to know him and be saved. Hell was not prepared for them but the devil and his angels.
However, if individuals reject the sacrifice of Christ and decide to face judgment on their own merit, then they will dwell in unquenchable fire forever. No one can dwell in God's perfection without Jesus' perfect righteousness.
The Lord is long-suffering and waiting for sinners to turn to him, but before long, his era of grace will close. Choose Jesus before it is too late.
Jerusalem has been on my mind this week with the 70th anniversary of Israel's nationhood. I find weighing on me Revelation 11:1-14, the passage talking about God's pair of witnesses who will testify of him in the city of David during the last 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation.
Verse 5 says this duo will be given special protection through miraculous powers: "If anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner." They also will be able to strike the planet with plagues, drought and other ills.
However, at the end of 1,260 days, this covering will be withdrawn and the beast will kill the two. The unsaved will rejoice, even giving presents to each other, like a fallen angel's Christmas.
My favorite part is next. "Now after the 3 1/2 days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them," verses 11-12 read. "And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, 'Come up here.' And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them." In the Greek, the word "breath" is "pneuma," or "spirit." Thus, a spirit of life from God will bring the witnesses back to life.
These two are a marriage of Christ and the ordinary believer. They are like Jesus in their supernatural powers and ability to deliver judgment. They are typical faithful in that they can die but have the promise of God of Rapture, resurrection and eternity with the Lord in heaven.
As the Earth is shaken in these momentous days, remember that God holds you in the palm of his hand. In him, you can and will overcome this world (John 16:33).
Ever just think, "The world really needs a spanking"? I have. It often seems no one wants to bring correction to situations crying out for them. Whether it's children out of control in supermarkets, teens acting up in school or false teachers in the pulpit, there appears to be a lack of essential order.
The reason behind this is, I think, that as a society we have exchanged doing what is right for seeking to be popular. Mom and dad want their tyke's approval, not the other way around. Instead of ensuring students learn, we are concerned that they like their teachers. In place of church discipline is the cry to not judge, taking Matthew 7:1 completely out of context.
Jesus told us in John 7:24 to judge with righteous judgment. What he was saying in Matthew 7 was to realize that God will use the same measure on us that we do with others, so do not assume facts or motives. Christ was trying to save us from being hypocrites.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:31 that "if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged." That means we're to keep watch over our ways to ensure they are in line with what God commands. Letting everyone run wild is chaos, and those in authority who approve of this likely will find themselves in an eternity of same.
Today, the state of Israel turns 70, amid joy among Jews and strife with Palestinians. "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, prosperity within your palaces," says Psalm 122:6-7.
The USA has opened its embassy in the world's only Jewish state to the Eternal City from Tel Aviv. This finally fulfilled American policy of 25 years. Previous presidents were afraid of angering Muslim nations by establishing the official presence there. However, President Trump, seeking to reverse his predecessor's animosity against Israel and voice strong support for the U.S. ally, has just made the controversial move.
The Palestinians were barbaric in Old Testament days, and their attacks on Jews still are now. The Hebrews long ago won their land as God has promised it, then had to fight the bullies again when Israel was established as a country in 1948 in the aftermath of the Holocaust. The Palestinians lost territory when they declared war unprovoked against Israel and were driven back farther back than their previous borders.
One day, Jesus Christ will rule the world in righteousness from Jerusalem. The Millennial Kingdom of our Lord is yet to come, but we should pray for the peace of his city now and obey the psalm.
Feel a bit like Job these days? You have my sympathy; I've gone through trials, too, and they are never pleasant. But that very book of the Bible can give you hope.
Recall that Job didn't do anything wrong to make him the object of difficulties. In fact, God called him "blameless" in the eighth verse of the first chapter of the book. However, as soon as Job's name came up, Satan started accusing him, a favorite pastime of the evil one (Revelation 12:10). The unfortunate protagonist then became a pawn in a cosmic chess match.
Job suffered, cried out, and didn't know what was going on. And he never found out, either, at least in the biblical account. But God did step in and end his trials, and Job 42:10 begins a short but blissful ending to the man's tale.
I find it interesting that the Lord "accepted Job" (Job 42:9), and his restoration came after he prayed for his friends, who had been little comfort to him. Let this book be a lesson to us to keep strong in Christ in the hard times, forgiving others, knowing that God will take care of us well (James 5:11), and not to presume that because someone has troubles that the person has done anything amiss.
Take a timeout. "Be still, and know that I am God,” says Psalm 46:10.
Our lives are full of activity, and it's true that the Lord tells us to redeem the time, for the days are evil. However, sometimes we can be very destructive in our actions.
Much of our trouble comes from acting on our own insecurities or the devil's imaginations. When difficulties come, don't just act - stand there. Be at peace and honor the Almighty. He will tell you what to do, how to do it, and when.
Sometimes, circumstances seem overwhelming, and it's all we can do to pray a short petition, much less travail for hours about a need. But God knows our frame, that it is as dust (Psalm 103:14), and he can handle it.
Paul wrote that the Lord told him, "My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). The apostle went on to say that he would even revel in his infirmities, "for when I am weak, then I am strong."
God's grace is always sufficient for us. His power is without limit, persistence impossible to exhaust. When you are at your end, he's at his beginning. Rest in the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last.
As the globe devolves into crazed rage, Christ's Church must keep its peace. "I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment," Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:10.
Our world is divided as never before, with 50 wars, and many nations not in armed conflict as divided as the USA is with race and politics. The church should be a place of unity because the Holy Ghost and Scripture are the same everywhere; they do not contradict themselves or each other.
Before speaking against the pastor, other leaders or members of the congregation, talk with them about any problems or questions. In the Bible, those causing dissension were swallowed up in earthquakes, excluded from the assembly and even struck dead on the spot.
There are times we must stand on principle to resolve issues, but most difficulties can be concluded with a simple conversation. Let's be forces for unity in the body of Christ instead of authors of schism.