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Friday, September 29, 2017

Not My Will, But His

In review of Matthew 26:39b it says, O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

Bottom Line:
Above everything we should desire His will and not our own.

What this means to me:
I certainly do not want to feel pain or have hard things come upon me, however, If it's God’s will I will want and face it, letting His will be done and not my own.

Today's passage comes from a section where Matthew is telling us how Jesus agonized in the garden before his crucifixion. Matthew tells me, that Jesus bowed with face to the ground, praying, "My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.

Jesus was in great anguish over his approaching physical pain, separation from the Father, and death for the sins of the world. The divine course was set, but he, in his human nature, still struggled. Because of the anguish Jesus experienced, he can relate to my suffering. Jesus' strength to obey came from his relationship with God the Father, who is also the source of our strength.

Jesus was not rebelling against his Father's will when he asked that the cup of suffering be taken away. In fact, he reaffirmed his desire to do God's will by saying, "Yet I want your will to be done, not mine." His prayer reveals to us his terrible suffering. His agony was worse than death because he paid for all sin by being separated from God. The sinless Son of God took my sins upon himself to save me from suffering and separation.

Jesus knew exactly what God the Father was asking of Him. And His response was, “Not as I will, but as You will.”

I should consider today what God is asking of me? Have I heard the voice of the Lord in my life and ignored it because I don’t want to give up a habit that consumes me? Am I taking pleasure in something that is contrary to the Word of God?

If God is telling me that His will is different than mine, it’s time to adjust my plans. It may be that God is trying to rid me of something that could be potentially fatal to me, or lead me down a path of destruction.

I can be certain that God is intent on sparing me of the pain of my own foolish choices or desires. So, am I following His lead? He gave His life so that mine could be filled with my heavenly Father’s great riches. He is already completely invested in me. What am I doing in return?

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Not So Much What I Do, But Why I Do It

In review of Matthew 5:16 it says, “Let your light so shine before man, that they may see your good works and glorify you Father in heaven.”

Bottom Line:
Shine in all you do. Let others see Him in all you do.

What this means to me:
Let the light I have been given shine in all I do. Let it be an example that will make those around me help see and praise the Heavenly Father.

Today’s passage in Matthew 15 comes from a section where Jesus is teaching about salt and light. He tells me that I am the salt of the earth. However, what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can it be made salty again? No, it would be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

Therefore am the light of the world. Much like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead a lamp is place where it can give light to those around it. So, in the same way, let my good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise my heavenly father.

If I make no effort to affect the world around me, I am of little value to God. If I am too much like the world, then I'm worthless. I should not blend in with everyone else. Instead, I should affect others positively, just a seasoning brings out the best flavor in food.

If I live for Christ, I will glow like a light, showing others what Christ is like. I hide my light by:
. being quiet when I should speak
. going along with the crowd
. denying the light
. letting sin dim my light
. not explaining my light to others
. ignoring the needs of others

Rather, I should be a beacon of truth and not shut my light off from the rest of the world.

One secret of success is to do what you know how to do! God gave me (each of us) a talent. If I use my talent and become the best at that one thing, I’ll find success!  And it is His desire that I experience success in every area of my life.

But while enjoying success, I need to keep in mind that God doesn’t just look at what I do; He looks at why I do it. Everything I say and do should be for His glory, not for mine. When I glorify God, I shine the light on the Kingdom, not on myself. Then people will be drawn to God, wanting to know more about Him.

I am blessed so that I can be a blessing! Great success can be mine if I will focus on doing one thing and doing it to the very best of my ability. Aim high and never given in to self-doubt. God want me to be a shining beacon of His love to those around you, representing Him by doing all things with excellence.

He created me to bring Him glory. Today I will consider what I’m doing with my time and talents that glorifies the King.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Letting Peace Be the Referee Of My Life

In review of Colossians 3:15 it says, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful!”

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

Each one of you is part of the body of Christ, and you were chosen to live together in peace. So let the peace that comes from Christ control your thoughts. And be grateful.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

The peace that Christ gives is to guide you in the decisions you make; for it is to this peace that God has called you together in the one body. And be thankful.

Bottom line:
Be thankful and let the peace of God rule in your hearts.

What this means to me:
As part of the body of Christ, I was chosen to live with others in peace. So let the peace and gratefulness that comes from Christ control all of my thoughts.

Paul tells me to put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within me. I am to have nothing to do with them. Instead I am to put on my new nature, and be renewed as I learn to know my Creator and become like him. In this new life, Christ is all that matters, and he lives in me. Therefore I must clothe myself with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. I must make allowances for other's faults, and forgive then. Above all, I need to clothe myself with love and let the peace of Christ rule in my heart and be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill my life. Then teach and counsel others with all the wisdom he gives. Whatever I do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus.

The word rule comes from the language of athletics: Paul tells me to let Christ's peace be umpire or referee in my heart. My heart is the center of conflict because there my feelings and desires clash. Paul explains that I must decide between conflicting elements by using the rule of peace.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Have Confidence, God Has It Under Control

In review of John 10:28 it says, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand.”

Bottom Line:
Jesus gives eternal life that won’t perish.

What this means to me:
Because Jesus loves me, He gives me eternal life, one in which I will never perish. No one can snatch me away from Him.

Today's verse comes from Matthew 10 where Jesus again claims to be the Son of God. It says the people surrounded him and asked, "how long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly." Jesus replied, "I have already told you, and you don't believe me. The proof is in the work I do in my Father's name. But you don't believe me because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and the know and follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me.

I think those asking for proof do so for the wrong reasons. They really didn't want to submit to his leadership. They were looking for Jesus to declare himself Messiah for perverted reasons. Most were looking for a Messiah to drive out the Romans. Many of them didn't think he was going to do that. They hoped he would identify himself so they could accuse him of telling lies.

Just as a shepherd looks after and protects his sheep, Jesus protects his people from eternal harm. As his follower I can expect to suffer here on earth, however Satan cannot harm my soul or take away my eternal life with God. When I choose Jesus, I received his everlasting safety.

When God gives me a goal, enjoy the journey but focus on the destination. Keep my eye on the prize! When adversity strikes, batten down the hatches and turn my sights toward heaven. Keep advancing toward my divine destiny.

It’s ok to wonder what’s going on. Asking why is a genuine response, not a sign of weakness. When I seek his face, He will guide me through any impasse. Will I trust Him when things go haywire? I can be assured that God sees me, and holds me close in the palm of His hand. There is no need for me to worry! He’s got it all under control.

Though life will not always be smooth sailing, watch for every sign that God is on the horizon, working on my behalf. Anyone can be overcome by fear, but it takes a person of great faith and courage to focus on the destination. Trust Christ to lead me home.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Learning to Experience Great Pleasure and Joy in His Presence

In review of Psalm 37:4 it says, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart”.

Bottom Line:
Seek happiness in the Lord, and He will give you what your heart desires.

What this means to me:
I should seek my happiness and take delight in the Lord, if I do, he will give me the desires of my heart.

David encourages me to trust in the Lord and do good. Commit everything I do to the Lord. Trust him and he will help me. Take my delight in the Lord, and he will give me my heart's desire. He promises that 'll live safely in the now and prosper.

This psalm also reminds me to not worry about the wicked, don’t fret or even envy those who do wrong. For like grass or spring flowers, they will soon fade away. Rather I am to be still in the presence of the Lord and wait patiently for him to act.

Those who follow God live differently from the wicked and, in the end, will have far greater treasures in heaven. What an unbeliever gets on earth may last a lifetime, if they are lucky. What a believer gets from following God will last forever.

To delight in the Lord means to experience great pleasure and joy in His presence. This happens only when we know that person well, and when we have been a faithful friend. Thus, to delight in the Lord, I must know him better and be faithful in my relationship with Him.

To commit myself to the Lord means entrusting everything; my life, family, joy and possessions to his control and guidance. To commit myself to the Lord means to trust him; believing that he can care for me better than I can for myself. I need to be willing to wait patiently for him to work out what is best for me.

When I invite God to come in and take over the desires of my heart, I’m releasing my faith and telling God that He is in control. Once I let God know my specific need, keep praying until the answer comes. When the answer does come, I’ll know it is from God because it will be what I prayed for, delivered at the time in my life when I am most ready to receive it. Inviting God into my situation is always the right move.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Today is the Day to Live Life to the Fullest

In review of Nehemiah 8:10b it says, “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength”.

Bottom Line:
Don’t be sad or sorrowful, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

What this means to me:
Today is day of our Lord, I have no reason to be dejected or sad, for the joy of the Lord will be my strength.

Today’s passage comes from Nehemiah chapter 8. When Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem he found more than just broken walls; he found broken lives. In response Nehemiah gathers the people together to hear Ezra read God's law. The people then repent and promise to change their lives by obeying God's words. No matter where we live, backsliding is an ever-present danger. I must constantly check my behavior against God's standards in His Word so that I do not slide into sinful ways of living.

In this chapter, after the people repent, Nehemiah tells them to then "Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. For he tells them that this is a sacred day before the Lord. They shouldn't feel dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is our strength.

The people wept when they heard God's laws and realized how far they were from obeying them. However Ezra told them they should be filled with joy because the day was sacred. It was a day and time to celebrate and to give gifts to those in need.

Celebration is not to be a self-centered action. Ezra connected celebration with giving. This gave those in need an opportunity to celebrate as well. Often when we celebrate and give to others (even when we don't feel like it), we are strengthened spiritually and filled with joy. Enter into to celebrations that honor God, and allow him to fill me with his joy.

I'm also reminded this morning that after a careful reading of Scripture I need to consider the following questions: What should I do with this knowledge? How should my life change? For I must do something about what I've learned if it is to have a real significance for my life.

Interestingly enough, Ezra, not Nehemiah, was the official religious leader. It is significant that Nehemiah was a layman, not a member of the religious establishment or a prophet. He was motivated by his relationship with God, and he devoted his life to doing God's will in a secular world. People like Nehemiah are crucial to God's word in all aspects of life. No matter what my work or role is in life, as a layman I can view my role as God's special calling to serve him. God can accomplish his purposes through me, beginning right where I am.

So, am I waiting for some magical even to take place before I can be happy?  If so, I should stop waiting and start enjoying happiness right here and now.

The best-kept secret about happiness is that I must have it inside before I can give it to anybody else. And pasting a fake smile on my face is not happiness. Joy comes from God the Father. Tap into the Source and let Him open the floodgates of my life. There’s no need to live in a state of anxiety, fearing what might happen next. I think most of the problems we worry about never happen.

We tend to worry and worry and then worry some more. Stop it! Today is a reminder that the joy of the Lord is my strength!  Enjoy the journey! Don’t keep rushing around in search of happiness, convincing myself that when I cross some imaginary finish line, that there I will find happiness. Today is the day to live life to the fullest. Today is the day to start dancing in the rain.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Do Something About It

In review of Isaiah 32:17 it says, “The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.”

Bottom Line:
God’s righteousness will bring peace forever.

What this means to me:
I can be assured, because of my belief in Christ, that God will reign His righteousness on my and bring into a place of peace and security forever.

Today’s verse comes from Isaiah 32. This chapter speaks of Israel's ultimate deliverance. God acts from above to change people's condition here on earth. Only when God's Spirit is among us can we achieve true peace and fruitfulness The things mentioned in the first part of this chapter will happen in the end times. However, I can have God's Spirit with me now, because of my belief in Jesus Christ. The outpouring mentioned here happens when the worldwide Kingdom of God is established for all eternity.

Today I will consider what kind of things are in my life that I profess to hate and yet I don’t do anything about them. I shouldn’t complain about what I permit. Even a hamster realizes when it’s time to get off the wheel. So I should stop from spiraling further.. Step away from what tempts me. Stop betraying myself by sitting back and watching the world pass me by, stand up and do something about it.

I can stop circling the track and start seeking God’s plan for my life. I will never realize my full potential until I ask Him to step in and take over. Turn to God the Author and Finisher of my faith, for He will give me a fresh vision and a brand-new start!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

I Can Be Who He Made Me To Be

In review of Acts 17:28 it says, “In Him we live and move and have our being.”

Bottom Line:
It is within Him that we live, move and exist.

What this means to me:
For within God Almighty, I more than just my being. He gives me the power to live, move and exist.

God is in his creation and close to everyone of us. But he is not trapped in his creation, he is transcendent. God is the Creator, not the creation. This means that God is sovereign and in control, while at the same time he is close and personal.

In this section from Acts 17, we see Paul in Athens. Paul was "deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city", and was filled with a combination of anger and grief. He saw how people were spiritually lost, blinded by Satan, and trapped in a pagan culture. Paul's response was to turn his internal turmoil into positive action: he looked for opportunities to share the truth about Jesus.

Like Paul I need to be prepared. Thus, I need to know God's Word, what it means, and how to apply it to my life. I don't need to be an expert, I just need to work with what I have already been taught, and ready to seek to continually learn more, so that I can be an effective witness and be able to respond to people's questions and or arguments.

Paul received mixed reactions, some laughed, some wanted more information, and even a few believed. I shouldn't hesitate to tell others about Christ because I fear that some will not believe me. I shouldn't expect a unanimously positive response to your witnessing. Even if only a few believe, it's worth the effort.

I must recognize that I cannot be all things to all people. I need to stop allowing the foolish opinion of others to control or squelch my witness. I shouldn’t let someone else sabotage my dreams, my destiny or my peace. And I shouldn’t allow an unkind spirit to creep in and make me feel insignificant or unworthy.

I should never be afraid to be who I was made to be. God designed me as an original. Live life with gusto, just as the King intended. The only thing I can truly change is myself. I need to confront who and what I am, so I can become the man God created me to be.

I have my own divine destiny that no one else can fulfill. So quit trying to make everyone around me happy, quit struggling to be everything to everyone. Instead, take the bull by the horns and begin living the life that God intends for you. I’ll be happiest when I am right where He wants me to be.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Becoming a Person Who Makes a Difference

In review of Psalm 119:162 it says, “I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure.”

Bottom Line:
Rejoice, for His Word is a great treasure

What this means to me:
I will rejoice in your Word, for in it I find the greatest of all treasures.

One of God's characteristics is truthfulness. He embodies perfect truth; therefore, his Word cannot lie. It is true and dependable for guidance and help. I can trust in the Bible being completely true and trustworthy.

Our society today longs for peace of mind. I have found that the only clear-cut instruction on how to attain this is: If we love God and obey his laws, we will have "great peace" and trust in God, who alone stands above the pressures of daily life and gives me full assurance - hope!

Hope is not wishful thinking. It sees the invisible, feels the intangible, achieves the impossible. Neither is it necessarily giving me what I want. If God gave me everything I ever asked for, I would have completely destroyed myself by now. So in order for me to continually learn about the true riches of God and be established in the hope of God, I need to read His Word daily and discover a fountain that never runs dry.

The Bible is not a wish book. Rather it is a book filled with truths. What it says, God will do. The promises found within are not just for ancient Believers but for me today. While most books give information, the Bible gives transformation. I have the absolute authority to shape the destiny of my life through Jesus Christ.

The devil is not afraid of the Christian with a dusty Bible. However, one with a Bible that is falling apart has a life that is not. So I should strive to be a force that the devil has to reckon with, a person who the enemy says, “I wonder what he will do for the Kingdom today.”

Today I need to strive to become a person who makes a difference.