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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Listen And Look For The Promises Found in God’s Holy Word

In review of Luke 21:28 it says, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

Bottom Line:
So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!”

What this means to me:
So when strange things in the sky start to take place, I can stand straight up and know that my salvation is near.

Today's verse comes from the last part of Luke 21. In this passage Jesus tells me about his return. He starts by providing me with a glimpse of what is to come just before it. He describes that there will be strange signs in the sun, moon and stars. On earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas, and strange tides. People will be terrified at what they see coming, for the powers in the heavens will be shaken all around them. Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on a cloud with power and great glory. So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, be happy for my salvation is near!

This picture of coming persecutions and natural disasters is gloomy, but ultimately it is a cause not for worry but for great joy on my part. As a believer I can know that the return of my Messiah is near, and I can look forward to his reign of justice and peace. So rather than being terrified by what is happening, I should just confidently await Christ's return to bring justice and restoration to his people.

In this passage Jesus has also told me to keep a constant watch for his return. For He is coming again, and I need to watch and be spiritually fit. Instead of being idle, I should be working faithfully at the tasks God has given me. I shouldn't let me mind and spirit drift and be dulled by careless living, drinking, or foolishly pursuing pleasure. Nor should I let the cares of this life weigh me down. I need to be ready to move at God's command.

So when nobody believes in me, believe in God. He sees what others can’t and He is able to heal that place in my heart that seems irreparably broken.

In summary, when things look their worst, look up; for my redemption is near. Don’t listen to harsh words spoken in anger. Don’t seek approval from others. Listen for the promises found in God’s holy Word. He can fill the void left by others with His enormous love and never-ending mercy. His grace is sufficient for me!

Monday, October 30, 2017

My Attitude Matters Greatly

In review of Philippians 2:14 it says, “Do all things without complaining and disputing.”

Bottom Line:
Do everything without grumbling or arguing

What this means to me:
In everything I’m involved in or do, I’m too not complain or argue.

Today's passage comes from Philippians 2 where Paul is telling us how to shine brightly for Christ. He reminds me to work hard to show the results of my salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in me, giving me the desire and power to do what pleases him. I am to do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize me. I am to live a clean, innocent live as a child of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. I am to hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ's return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work and influence was not useless.

So what do I do when I don't feel like obeying? God has not left me alone in my struggles to do his will. He wants to come alongside and be within me to help. If I ask, God will give me the desire and the power to do what pleases him. The secret to a changed life lies behind my submission to His control, letting him work.

To be like Christ, I must train myself to think like Him. To change my desires to be more like Christ's, I need the power of the indwelling Spirit, the influence of other faithful Christians around me, obedience to God's Word (not just exposure to it), and my own sacrificial service. Often it is in doing God's will that I gain the desire to do it. Often in just doing it, and trusting him, my desire change.

So why are complaining and arguing so harmful? If all that people know about me and christianity is that I constantly argue, complain, and gossip, they will get a false impression of Christ and the Good News.

To be a good example or ambassador for Christ, my life should be characterized by moral purity, patience, and peacefulness, so that I shine like a "bright light" in a dark and depraved world. My transformed life is an effective witness to the power of God's Word. So today I should consider am I shining brightly, or am I clouded by complaining and arguing? I should not let dissensions snuff out my light. Shine out for God. My role is to shine until Jesus returns and bathes the world in his radiant glory.

I’m also learning that I shouldn’t complain about what’s wrong. Rather I should be grateful for the opportunity to experience each day.  When I complain, I allow the enemy to invade my life; I end up making room for him to intrude and change my attitude to “stinking thinking”. Once I crack that door, the floodgates of negativity can burst open, allowing all forms of it to enter your home and heart.

God wants my life to resound with joy from one day to the next, until each year becomes a testimony of my walk with Him. Today is a rich gift to me from God. Spend it wisely!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Learning To Wait Patiently On The Lord

In review of Psalm 27:14 it says, “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart.”

Bottom Line:
Wait patiently for the Lord, for He will strengthen your heart.

What this means to me:
I often get impatient, however His Word tells me to be patient, wait for Him to intervene. Meanwhile be brave, stouthearted and courageous. He will not let me down.

Today's passage comes from Psalm 27. This psalm speaks of God’s offer of help today and to provide hope for the future. My unwavering confidence in God is an antidote for fear and loneliness. In this Psalm, David starts with saying that the Lord is our light and salvation, so why should we be afraid. The Lord protects us from danger. David asks the Lord to teach us how to live and to lead us along the right paths. David tells of how he has confidence in seeing the Lord's goodness. So we should be brave and courageous and wait patiently for the Lord.

I'm reminded this morning that I too can conquer fear by trusting in the Lord, who brings salvation. David was communicating in this psalm that his greatest desire was to live in God's presence each day of his life. Sadly I can always say the same. I need to consider what I desire most? Am I looking forward to being in the presence of the Lord?

It more natural to run to God when I experience difficulties. But David sought God's guiding presence every day. When trouble came his way, he was already in God's presence and prepared to handle any test. I can call on God for help at any time, but how shortsighted it would be to call on Him only when troubles come. Many of my problems could be avoided or handled far more easily by seeking God's help and direction beforehand.

David knew from experience what it meant to wait for the Lord. He had been anointed king at age 16, but didn't become king until he was 30. During the interim years, he had been chased through the wilderness by jealous King Saul. David had to wait on God for the fulfillment of his promise to reign. Later, after becoming king, he was chase by his rebellious son, Absalom.

Waiting for God is not easy. Often it seems that he isn't answering my prayers or doesn't understand my situation. That kind of thinking however, implies that God is not in control or is not fair. But what I’m learning is that God is worth waiting for. God often uses time of waiting to refresh, renew, or teach me. I should make good use of my waiting times by discovering what God may be trying to teach me in them.

So I don’t have to be discouraged over what didn’t work out. It’s not over until God says it’s over. He may well be working behind the scenes on my behalf, beyond where my eyes can see.  Waiting on the Lord can be a lifelong lesson. The sooner I learn it, the better off I will be. When the time is right, God’s plan will completely unfold and I’ll be left saying, “Aha! This is what God had intended for me all along!”  So I can be encouraged today. God is the Master of the “Aha” moments and He will complete the good work He has started in me.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Only Faith Can Free Me From Anxiety

In review of Luke 12:32 it says, "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Bottom Line:
We shouldn’t be afraid, for it pleases God to give us the Kingdom.

What this means to me:
I shouldn’t be afraid, for I am one of His disciples and it please God to give me the Kingdom.

Today's passage comes from Luke 12 where Jesus is talking about worry. He prefaces this by saying it is foolish for me to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God. Jesus tells me not to worry about everyday life. Life is more than food, and our bodys are more than clothing. Can any of my worries add a single moment to my life. And if worry can't accomplish a little things, what's the use of worrying over bigger things. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give me everything I need. So I shouldn't be afraid, for it gives my Father great happiness to give me the Kingdom. For whenever my treasure is, there he desires of my heart will also be.

Jesus commands me to not worry. But How can I avoid it? What I'm learning is that only faith can free me from the anxiety caused by greed and covetousness. Working and planning responsibility is good; dwelling on all the ways our planning could go wrong is bad. Worry is pointless because it can't fill any of our needs; worry is foolish because the Creator of the universe loves us and knows what we need. He promises to meet all of my real needs but not necessarily all of my desires.

Seeking the Kingdom of God above all else means making Jesus the Lord and King my my life. He must control every area of my life. Is the Kingdom only one of my many concerns, or is it central to all I do. Am I holding back any areas of my life from God's control?  

So why am I worrying? God has already solved my problems and knows exactly where my life is headed. If I will just trust Him. He will steer me in the right direction, so there is no real reason to worry!

When I made the decision to believe and follow the Lord Jesus Christ, I was saved. In that moment, I was granted God’s entire Kingdom and an eternity in heaven. Today, begin believing that all things are mine through Jesus Christ. Case aside my cares and anxieties and follow Him to a place of secure refuge.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Learning To Love With The Love He Has For Us

In review of John 13:34 it says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

Bottom Line:
Love one another, just as I have loved you.

What this means to me:
Jesus gives me a new commandment and that is to love others, just like He loves me.

Today's passage comes from the last part of John 13. Jesus is telling his disciples that his time has come. He gives them (and myself) a new commandment, to love each other! A love with the same passion He has for us. With this same passion I should love others. My love for others will prove to the world that I am truly his disciple.

To love others was not a new commandment, but to love others as much as Christ love others was revolutionary. Now I am to love others based on Jesus' sacrificial love for us. Such love will not only bring unbelievers to Christ; it will also keep believers strong and united in a world hostile to God. Jesus was a living example of God's love, as we are to be living examples of Jesus' love.

Jesus says that my Christlike love will show I am his disciple. Love is more than simply warm feelings; it an attitude that reveals itself in action. How can we love others as Jesus loves us? By helping when it's not convenient, by giving when it hurts, by devoting energy to others' welfare rather than our own, by absorbing hurts from others without complaining or fighting back. This kind of love is hard to do. This is why people take notice when I do it.

The good news is that no matter how many times I fail, God will always love me because God’s love is not based on me... but on Him. I am most like Him when I love those around me as myself.

I often judge others on their actions, while I only judge myself on my intentions. I am to give people the benefit of the doubt and apply forgiveness liberally. It is easy to condemn... but that’s not my job. I don’t really know what anyone else is going through or their particular battles. Leave those things to Go.

I am called to love one another as Christ love the church. Instead of pointing out someone else’s faults, worry about my own; that should give me plenty to do.  

Lastly, when life knocks me down, dust myself off, get back up, and get in the game. God’s love for me is immeasurable. Get ready to dive right in and soak up every drops.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Humbling Myself and Giving My Worries Over to Him

In review of 1 Peter 5:6-7 it says, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

Bottom Line:
Humble yourself, let God lift you up when He is ready. Give your worries and anxieties over to Him for he cares for you.

What this means to me:
I am to humble myself under the mighty hand of God, so that he will exalt me in his due time. I can give all my worries and anxieties over to God because he cares for me.

Today's passages come from 1 Peter 5. In this section Peter is writing to encourage those who shepherd God's people in the midst of suffering.  I am to care for the flock that God has entrusted me. I am to watch over it willingly, not grudgingly and not for what I can get out if, but because I'm eager to serve God. I should never lord it over those in my care, but rather lead by my own good example. In the same way, I am also to accept the authority of the elders above me. I should dress my myself in humility as I relate to others. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. So I should humble myself under the mighty power of God. At the right time, he will lift me up in honor. I can give all my worries and cares to God, for he cares about me.

I often worry about my position and my status, hoping to get proper recognition for what I do. However Peter advises me to remember that God's recognition counts more than human praise. God is able and willing to bless me according to his timing. Therefore I should humbly obey God regardless of my present circumstances, and in his good time, either in this life or in the next, he will honor me.

When I carry my worries, stresses, and daily struggles by myself, it's an indication that I have not trusted God full with my life. It takes humility, however, to recognize that God cares, to admit my need, and to let others in God's family help me. Sometimes I feel that struggles caused by my own sin and foolishness are not God's concern. But when I turn to God in repentance he will bear the weight even of those struggles. Letting God have my anxieties calls for action, not passivity. I should not submit to circumstances, but to the Lord, who controls circumstances.

God hears my prayers and has a plan for me. I may not realize how close I am to a breakthrough, but hold on! Help is on the way! I just need to stay the course. So I should not give up. When it looks like all I can do is throw my hands in the air and wave the flag of defeat, I should realize that God is busy fighting my battle. So I should humbly surrender to the King of kings, for I will never experience a greater victory!

I’m finding that the key to a rich and successful life is to cast my cares on Him. Ask Him to lead me down paths of righteousness for His name’s sake, toward my very own land of promise.

Monday, October 23, 2017

How I Treat Others Makes A Big Difference

In review of Matthew 5:44 it says, “I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”

Bottom Line:
Love your enemies. Pray for those who mistreat you.

What this means to me:
I am to love, bless and do good for those who hate, use and persecute me.

Today's passage comes from Matthew 5 where Jesus teaches about loving our enemies. He tells us that we have heard it said to "Love your neighbor" and hate your enemy. But Jesus tells me to love my enemies. I am to pray for those who persecute me. In this way, I'll be acting as a true child of my Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and unjust alike. If I love only those who love me, what reward is there for that. Even pagans do this.

By telling me not to retaliate, Jesus keeps me from taking the law into my own hands. By loving and praying for our enemies, I can overcome evil with good. The religious leaders of the time misinterpreted a teaching that they should love only those who love in return, meaning that they should hate their enemies. But Jesus says I am to love my enemies. If I love them and treat them well, I will truly show that Jesus is Lord of my life. This is possible only for those who give themselves fully to God, because only he can deliver people from natural selfishness. We must trust the Holy Spirit to help me show love to those for whom I may not feel love for.

So, I am to keep honoring God and doing what I know is good, pure and right. I am to keep treating people according to the Word of God that commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves. When I do, I’m making it possible for heaven to bless me and take me right where I need to be.

I shouldn’t pay attention to those around me who seem to skate through life veiled in deception and manipulation. There is no honor in that. These folks will have their day when the trumpet sounds. Rather, I should just focus on myself. What does God want me to do, regardless of how others are treating me or what they say behind my back. I’m a child of the King.

When I am treated poorly, I need to leave it to the Lord. If they are doing something they shouldn't, pray about it and let God take care of it. Rather than wasting my time on what others are up to, think on the things that are of good report and stay tuned on the Lord. When I choose to attend to what is pure, evil will have to flee. My time will not be consumed with anger and bitterness but with the peace that passes all understanding.

Friday, October 20, 2017

True Joy Transcends the Rolling Waves of Circumstance

In review of John 15:11 it says, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

Bottom Line:
Remain in Him, so that you can be made as completely as happy as He is.

What this means to me:
Jesus wants me to remain in Him, He tells me this so that my life will be filled with the same joy he has. And having this joy will make me complete.

Today's verse comes from the middle of John 15. In it Jesus is teaching us about the vine and its branches (its connection). It's important for us to be part of the vine where we can obtain a connection and bear fruit. Some pruning will take place by the gardener (God) in order to help build me into the type of person that can be used. Apart from the vine I will wither. Also, if I'm not producing any fruit I can be cut off and severed. Jesus tells me this so that my joy may be in Him and that it be complete.

When things are going well, I feel elated. When hardships come, I can sink into depression. But true joy transcends the rolling waves of circumstance. Joy comes from a consistent relationship with Jesus Christ. When my life is intertwined with his, he will help me walk through adversity without sinking into debilitating lows and manage prosperity without moving into deceptive highs. The joy of living with Jesus Christ daily will keep me levelheaded, no matter how high or low my circumstances are.

Also what I’m learning is that happiness is not dependent on the type of house I reside in, it depends on the type of person who resides in it. This is actually a choice! I set the tone by deciding who and what my priorities are. If you don’t make a conscious decision to fill the rooms of my home with the love and joy of the Lord, something else will seep in... and it will not be uplifting. So learn to turn off the TV set and read the Word. Make God a priority in my home. Pray together with my wife. Joy is a choice.

I need to choose to serve the Lord both in and out of season and things will begin to pick up. I will experience joy like never before as my cup runs over with the goodness of the Lord.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Allowing God To Take Me In a New Direction

In review of Colossians 3:9-10 it says, “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

Bottom Line:
Put off your old self and take on your new self, one that is being renewed and becoming more like Him.

What this means to me:
I no longer need to lie to others, I have taken off my old self with its ways and put on a new self, which gets renewed as I learn more about and understand God better.

Today's verse comes from the first part of Colossians 3. Paul is telling me how to live the new life I am not part of. Since I have been raised to new life with Christ, I should set my sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God's right hand. Think about the things of heaven, and not the things of earth. So I am to put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within me, by stripping off my old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds, and putting on a new nature, one that is renewed as I learn to know and become more like my Creator.

To "put on my new nature" means that my conduct should match my faith. If I'm a follower of Jesus, then act like that. To be a Christian means more than just making good resolutions and having good intentions; it means that I take the right actions. So rid myself of all evil practices and immorality. Then commit myself to what Christ teaches.

The more I know of Christ and his work, the more I am being changed to be like him. Because this process is lifelong, I must never stop learning and obeying. There is no justification for just drifting along, but there is an incentive to find the rich treasures of growing in Him.

Paul's strategy to help me live a life for God day by day is to:
. Imitate Christ's compassionate, forgiving attitude
. Let love guide my life
. Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart
. Always be thankful
. Keep God's Word in me at all times
. Live as Jesus Christ's representative

Shake off anything or anyone that is holding me back. Make room for God to do something new in my life! Don’t be afraid of change. How can I have something better unless I get rid of what I have.

Good is the enemy of better, and better is the enemy of best. Let go of what’s in your hand and let God give you what’s in His. It will be His firstfruits, not the rubbish I have grown accustomed to.

I’m reminded that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If I’m looking for a fresh start, let God take me in a new direction that fits the new person I am.  Clear the way for Him, and brace yourself, abundance is about to rain into every realm of my life!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Real faith means stepping out before I know how it will turn out

In review of Mark 11:22 it says, “Jesus answered and said to them, have faith in God.”

Bottom Line:
Have faith in God for your needs, not your wants.

What this means to me:
I am reminded this morning to have faith in God for what I need and to not rely on myself or be focused on selfish motives.

Today's passage comes from Mark 11, where Jesus is telling the disciples that they can pray for anything. He tells them to have faith in God. For with your faith you can ask and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. When you are praying, first forgive anyone you may be holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive you too.

The kind of prayer that moves mountains is prayer for the fruitfulness of God's Kingdom. God can do the impossible. He will answer my prayers, but not as a result of my positive mental attitude. Other conditions must be met: 1) I must be a believer; 2) I must not hold a grudge against another; 3) I must not pray with selfish motives; 4) my request must be for the good of God's Kingdom. To pray effectively, I need faith in God, not faith in the object of my request. If I focus only on my request, I will be left with nothing if my request is refused.

Jesus, my example, prayed, "Everything is possible for you... Yet I want your will to be done, not mine." In my own life, my prayers are often motivated by my own interests and desires. I like the notion of hearing that I can have anything. But Jesus prayed with God's interests in mind. When I pray, I can express my desires, but I should want his will above mine. I need to be sure I'm keeping myself in check to be sure my prayers are focused on His interests and not mine.

What I’m learning is that God will not allow a storm unless He has a divine purpose for it. So regardless of what happens I need to put my trust in God’s faithfulness. He did not save me in the past, just to let me drown in a puddle. What God has done for me in the past, I can expect for the future. He never changes, and He has my very best in mind, wanting me and my soul to prosper.

Real faith means stepping out before I know how it will turn out. It means following God’s will for my life, not caring out my own plan and asking God to squeeze into it. It means I become quiet, listening, attentive... while God is doing the talking, the leading and the guiding.

I can delight myself in the Lord and tell Him the desires of my heart. He is available to not only meet but greatly exceed my wildest expectations. I just need to simply give Him the chance to intervene on my behalf.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Using God’s Armor to Defend Myself Against the Enemy

In review of Ephesians 6:11 it says, “Put on all the armor that God gives you, so that you will be able to stand up against the Devil's evil tricks.”

Bottom Line:
Put on all the armor that God gives, so you can defend yourself against the devil’s tricks.

What this means to me:
I’m encouraged to put on all of the armor that God provides me, so that I can stand up against the Devil’s evil tricks.

Today's passage comes for the last half of Ephesians 6, where Paul gives us a last bit of encouragement in being strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. He tells me to put on all of God's armor so that I can stand firm against all of the strategies of the devil. For I am fighting more than mortal’s, the enemy is made up of the evil rulers and authorities of an unseen world. Therefore each day I need to clothe myself with every piece of God's armor so that I can resist the enemy in the time of evil.

Also, I am to pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Staying alert and being persistent in my prayers for all believers everywhere.

After All, in this life I am to fight for what is good, pure and right. I’m not called to simply take a seat and watch as the movie of my life rolls tape. I am to stand up and speak up! I am called to be salt and light of the earth! I am to focus on Christ! When I’m intent on Him, nothing and no one can derail me from the important work He has for me to do!

So today I should consider what I’m doing that is making a difference for the Kingdom in my heart, my home, and my community. I’m told that if I start sharing the love of Jesus with those closest to me, I may end up being surprise on how infectious it can be!  And lastly His Word tells me that when I have done all that I know to do, I am to Stand!