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Thursday, November 30, 2017

I Represent Christ In What I Do

In review of Colossians 3:17 it says, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Bottom Line:
Everything you do, do as a representative of Christ

What this means to me:
Whatever I do or say, I need to remember that I am a representative of Jesus

Today’s verse comes from Colossians 3. In it Paul instructs me to put to death, the sinful, earthly things that are lurking within me. Greediness on my part leads to idolatry in which I end up worship unconsciously the things of this world. Paul tells me to put on my new nature, and be renewed inside as I learn to know and become link my Creator. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in me. I need to learn to make allowances for other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends me, just as the Lord forgave me. Above all I am to clothe myself with love, which binds me together in perfect harmony with other believers. I should let the peace that comes from Christ rule in my heart.

I am to let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill my life. Then I can share, teach and counsel others with the wisdom he provides. I find way to give thanks through him to God the Father. I need to remember that whatever I do or say, I do as a representative of the Lord Jesus. To put on my true nature means my conduct should match my faith. It is more than making good resolutions and having good intentions; it requires taking the right actions.

The more I know of Christ and his work, the more I'm being changed to be like him. I must never stop learning and obeying, for there is no justification in just drifting along. There is an incentive to find the rich treasures of growing in him. It takes practice, ongoing review, patience, and concentration to keep in line with his will.

In the verses before this, Paul offers a strategy that will help me live for God day by day: (1) imitate Christ's compassionate, forgiving attitude, (2) let love guide my life, (3) let the peace of Christ rule in my heart, (4) always be thankful, (5) keep God's Word in me at all times, (6) live as Jesus Christ's representative.

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, my fears and hopes, distrust and trust, jealousy and love.

As a thankful person, gratitude will open my heart to God's peace, enabling me to put on love. In contrast a discontented person will constantly calculate what's wrong with their life. One way to help me increase my thankfulness would be to take an inventory of all I have (including relationships, memories, abilities, family and even material possessions.) I can then use the inventory in prayers of gratitude.

In summary, whatever I do or say, do it as a representative of Jesus, means bringing honor to Christ in every aspect and activity of daily living. As one of his followers I represent Christ at all times, wherever I go and whatever I say.

God will not judge me in eternity for what others do wrong, but He will reward me for what I do right. People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. But I need to love them anyway. I need to get up each day and give it my best!  With the help of Jesus, nothing is impossible for me.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Learn To Endure Opposition

In review of Matthew 10:22 it says, “He who endures to the end will be saved.”

Bottom Line:
The one who endures to the end will be saved.

What this means to me:
I need to understand that I may be disliked and hated because I believe in Him, however, He tells me that if I endure and remain faithful till the end, I will be saved.

We are sent out as sheep among wolves. Therefore we are to be shrewd as snakes and as harmless as doves. But we should be aware that we will be handed over to the courts and flogged, because we are his followers. Family will betray us, and even entire nations will hate us because we follow Jesus. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved.

Jesus was telling us, his followers, that the opposition of the Pharisees would be like ravaging wolves. Our only hope would be to look to our Shepherd for protection. So I may face similar hostility. Like the disciples, I am not to be sheeplike in my attitude but sensible and prudent. I am not to be a gullible pawn, nor a deceitful conniver. I must find a balance between wisdom and vulnerability to accomplish God's work.

What I’m learning is that living for God often brings on persecution, but with it comes the opportunity to tell the Good News of salvation. I don't need to worry about what to say, for at the right time God will give me the right words. It will be the Spirit of God speaking through me.

This doesn't mean that I don't have to prepare to present the Good News because God will take care of everything. Rather scripture teaches me that I am to make carefully prepared, and thoughtful statements. Jesus is not telling me to stop preparing, but to stop worrying about it.

In times of persecution, I can be confident because Jesus has "overcome the world". And those who endure to the end will be saved. Enduring to the end itself is not a way to be saved but will be the evidence that a person is really committed to Jesus. Persistence is not a means to earn salvation; it is the by-product of a truly devoted life.

Overall I can be confident that Jesus, the Messiah, has already begun his Kingdom on earth in the hearts of his followers. One day the Kingdom will be fully realized. Then evil will be destroyed and all people will live in peace with one another.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Benefits to Filling My Mind With What is Good and Pure.

In review of Proverbs 23:7 it says, “Come on and have some more, he says, but he doesn't mean it. What he thinks is what he really is.”

Bottom Line:
Be careful what you think, for what you think is really who you are.

What this means to me:
At times I may say one thing, but mean another. I should be careful, for what I think is really what I am.

Today's verse comes from Proverbs 23. In verse 6-7 it says, don't eat with people who are stingy; don't desire their delicacies. They are always thinking about how much it costs. "Eat and drink," they say, but they don't really mean it. You will throw up what little you've eaten and your compliments will be wasted.

Solomon recognized that spiritual strength is far greater than physical strength. With spiritual strength I can conquer my greatest enemy without lifting a finger! God will do that heaving lifting part.

Today I consider what my thoughts are. Are they focused on bitterness or resentment, or on goodness and lovingkindness? Do I reach out to help others strive to make a difference for the Kingdom?

Whether I realize it or not, my thoughts are heard in heaven. When no one else knows what’s going on in in my head, God does. My mind is the greatest battlefield I will ever face. So what am I feeding my mind? Am I watching endless hours of TV, but only reading small amounts of scripture, and then just grace the church with my presence?

Whatever I put into my body will determine my physical fitness and my overall strength. The Bible commands me to take care of my spiritual self, to control my thoughts and tells me that I am responsible for what I think. What I put into my system is exactly what I’ll get out. Am I storing up Bible verses to replay in my mind the next time I face the enemy?

Today and everyday, I am to fill my mind with thoughts that are good and pure. If I am to live a joy-filled life of service to the King, I need to open the Word and absorb the truths found inside: For it has the power to revolutionize my life.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

He Cares for and Provides For All of My Needs

In review of Ezekiel 34:26 it says, “I will make them and the places all around my hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing.”

Bottom Line:
Those who follow will be blessed and cared for.

What this means to me:
As I follow God, He blesses and cares for me. He provides peace.

In contrast to present evil shepherds (leaders) of God's people, God will send a perfect shepherd, the Messiah ("my servant David"), who will take care of every need his people will have and set up a Kingdom of perfect peace and justice. "Peace" here means more than the absence of conflict. It is contentment, fulfillment, and security.

What I’m learning is that If God has a job for me to do, I should get busy doing it! I won’t need to worry, because He will give me whatever I need to complete the task, with room enough to spare!

Overall He has a specific purpose for me that no one else can fulfill. The place of God’s power is released in the place of God’s purpose. When I find where God wants me to be, He will turn is almighty power on right there.

I may find out that this place is something that is completely out of my norm, and completely out of my comfort zone. If this happens I should God a chance to make me comfortable in it! There is no better place to be than right where God wants me. He will use me for His glory right where He plants me. His grace will carry me through and I will be blessed because I have followed His lead. I should Live the dream God has given me. Therein I will find the true meaning of fulfillment.

Monday, November 20, 2017

His Unfailing Love is Everlasting

In review of Psalm 100:5 it says, “The Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.”

Bottom Line:
The Lord is good! His love, kindness and faithfulness will last forever.

What this means to me:
God’s character never changes. He is always loving, kind and good. His faithfulness goes on through each succeeding generation.

Todays verse comes from psalm 100 which speaks of thanksgiving. The psalm is an invitation to enter joyfully into God's presence, where His faithfulness extends to our generation and beyond.

The psalm tells me to shout with joy, and worship with gladness. Come to the Lord singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and I am one of his people. Because of this I can enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. I can give thanks to him and praise his name, for the Lord is good! His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

I can acknowledge that the Lord is God when I shout my praises, appreciate his status as my Creator, accept his authority in every detail of life, enthusiastically agree with the guidance he gives me, and express my thanks for his unfailing love.

Sometimes I live as if I created myself where I am the center of the universe. What I'm learning is that this mindset leads to pride, greed, idolatry, and a loss of hope if it's suddenly all taken away. When I realize that God created me and gives to me all I have, it is easier for me to give to others as God has given to me. Also, if all is lost, I would still have God and have all he gives me.

I’m also reminded that God alone is worthy of being worshiped. So what is my attitude toward worship? Am I willingly and joyfully coming into God's presence, or am I just going through the motions? This psalm reminds me to remember God's goodness and dependability, and then to worship with thanksgiving and praise!

I have to believe that no matter what has come against me, no matter how unfair it was, things are shifting in my favor. If I ever feel like I’m facing giants, I can know that his help is on the way. In these times, God is up to something, and He has a mercy that never quits and never fails!

Friday, November 17, 2017

I Am Blessed, There Is No Need To Worry

In review of Psalm 144:15, it says, “Happy are the people whose God is the Lord.”

Bottom Line:
Happy are the people whose God is the Lord.

What this means to me:
No matter what I can be joyful, because I am blessed by the Lord that I follow and obey.

Today's passage comes from Psalm 144. In it David speaks of rejoicing in God's care. Flourishing, graceful pillars, barns filled, flocks multiplied, no enemy at our door or needing to  hide in fear. Joyful are those who can live like this! Joyful indeed are those whose God is the Lord. David also indicates that, whether we are in times of prosperity or times of adversity, blessed are we whose God is the Lord.

I should consider that life is short, therefore I should live for God while I have time. Don’t waste life by selecting an inferior purpose that has no lasting value. Living for God is the only way to make your life worthwhile, purposeful, and meaningful.

Worry is trust in the unpleasant assurance that disaster is looming. Worry is belief in defeat and despair. It is a polluted stream that surges through your mind, drowning out all sources of optimism. It is interest paid on trouble before it happens. Most of the trouble we expect in our lives never comes. So why do we waste so much time fearfully awaiting the proverbial drop of the other shoe? If we spent that much energy being joyful in the Lord, our lives would be contagious. Today, I’m reminded to be happy with who I am and where I am in life. If you don’t like something, change it. Don’t waste your time worrying about it.

In summary, I am a unique individual. I am God’s masterpiece! I should live like the heir to the throne, and enjoy each day for the true gift that it is! I am an ambassador for Christ.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

My Strength Comes From The Lord.

In review of Isaiah 40:31 it says, “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”

Bottom Line:
Trust in the Lord to find new strength, one which makes you ride hide, walk and run without getting faint or weary.

What this means to me:
When I learn to trust in the Lord I will find new strength. I’ll be riding high, walk and not get faint, even run and not be weary.

Today’s verse comes from Isaiah 40. Isaiah reminds us that the Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fail in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. The will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

I'm reminded this morning that even the strongest people get tired at times, but God's power and strength never diminish. He is never too tired or too busy to help and listen. His strength is my source of strength. So If I feel that all of life's crushing me and cannot go another step, I can call upon God to renew me.

Trusting in the Lord is expecting that his promise of strength will help me rise above life's distractions and difficulties. Do I really believe God loves me and wants the best for me? Can I relax, confident that his purposes are right? Am I convinced that he has the power to control all of life, including my own. Though my faith may be struggling or weak, I can accept his provisions and care.

I’m also reminded that as gold is refined in fire, the righteous are refined in the furnace of adversity. The brightest crowns being worn in heaven today have been refined and polished, glorified through the furnace of tribulation.

So when I find myself in the middle of the fire, I can know that God has a blessing coming my way. Stand firm!

Adversity doesn’t make me weak or strong, rather it reveals who I really am deep down inside when nobody’s looking. Wait upon the Lord and He will sustain me. He will renew me. His strength will be with me until my last breath on this earth.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Worry Doesn’t Buy Me Anything

In review of Matthew 6:25-27 it says, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?"

Bottom Line:
Don’t worry about everyday things, life is more than that. We more valuable to God than the creatures he already cares for. As such does worry even add any time to your life.

What this means to me:
I’m told to not worry about everyday things. Life is more than that. Since God cares for creatures much less valuable than myself, how much more would he care for me. Besides, does worry even add a single hour to my life.

Today's passage comes from Matthew 6, where Jesus teaches us about money and possessions. He tells us to not concentrate on storing up treasures here on earth, where they can be destroyed or stolen. He tells us that  wherever your treasure is, there also will be the desires of your hearts. He also teaches us that no one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. For we cannot serve God and be enslaved to money. For these reasons, He tells us to not worry about everyday life and things. Life is more than this. If He cares for those creatures less valuable, how much more will he care for us. Can any of our worries add a single moment to our lives. So don't worry, instead seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give us everything we need. So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today.

Worry actually means there is something I can’t control, some happening over which I cannot have my way. In reality, it is a personal distrust and irritation with God. In Matthew 6, Jesus tells me not to worry!

I should seek to please God not only in my giving but also in fulfilling God's purpose in all we do. Jesus made it clear that having the wrong treasures leads to our hearts being in the wrong place. What I treasure the most is what controls me, whether I admit it or not. If possessions or money become too important to me, I must reestablish control or get rid of items. Jesus calls for a decision that allows me to live contentedly with whatever I have because I have chosen eternal values over temporary, earthly treasures.

Because of the ill effects of worry, Jesus tells us not to worry about those needs that God promises to supply. Worry may (1) damage my health, (2) disrupt my productivity, (3) negatively affect the way I treat others, and (4) reduce my ability to trust in God. Are there any ill effects of worry that I'm experiencing today? The difference between worry and genuine concern is that worry will immobilize me, but concern will move me to action.

I need to seek the Kingdom of God above all else. This means I am to put God first in my life, to fill my thoughts with his desires, to take his character for my pattern, and to serve and obey him in everything. So what is really important to me? People, objects, goals, and other desires all compete for my priority. Any of these can quickly become most important to me if I don't actively choose to give God first place in every area of my life.

Planning for tomorrow is time well spent; worrying about tomorrow is time wasted. Sometimes it's difficult to tell the difference. Careful planning is thinking ahead about goals, steps, and schedules, and trusting in God's guidance. When done well, planning can help alleviate worry. Someone who worries, by contrast, is consumed by fear and find it difficult to trust God. They let their plans interfere with their relationship with God. So I shouldn't let worries about tomorrow affect my relationship with God today.

So what may be shifting my focus to things that are completely out of my control? Jesus has already defeated every enemy we will ever face. So allow Jesus to lead the way, and I’ll learn what unadulterated joy is all about.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

My Source of Power, Courage, and Wisdom

In review of Psalm 34:17 it says, “The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles.”

Bottom Line:
When we pray for help, he listens and rescues us.

What this means to me:
He hears me when I call on him for help. He act on my behalf.

What this psalm reminds me is that God pays attention to those who call on him. Whether God offers escape from trouble or help in times of trouble, I can be certain that he always hears and acts on behalf of those who love him.

To fear the Lord means to show him deep respect, reverence, and honor. I demonstrate this attitude by humility and genuine worship. Reverence is much more than sitting quietly in church. It includes obeying God in the way I speak and the way I treat others.

There is no blanket promises that all Christians will have everything they want. But we can be assured that all those who call upon God in their need will be answered, sometimes in unexpected ways.

My God knows what I need, and my deepest needs are spiritual. David is telling me that If I have God, I have all I really need. God is enough.

Whenever I feel like I don't have everything I need, ask: (1) Is this really a need? (2) Is this really good for me? (3) Is this the best time for me to have what I desire? Even if the answer to all thress questions is yes, God may allow me to go without to help me grow more dependent on him. He may want me to learn that I need him more than having my immediate desires met.

Peace does not always come with no effort. David explained that I am to work hard in my pursuit of peace. Someone who wants peace cannot be argumentative and contentious.

In summary, God promises to be close, and to be my source of power, courage, and wisdom, helping me through my problems. Sometimes he chooses to deliver me from those problems. When trouble strikes, I should not get frustrated with God. Instead, admit that I need God's help and thank him for being by your side.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Loyalty Depends on Unconditional Commitment, Regardless Of The Outcome

In review of Daniel 3:17-18 it says, “If the God whom we serve is able to save us from the blazing furnace and from your power, then he will. But even if he doesn't, Your Majesty may be sure that we will not worship your god, and we will not bow down to the gold statue that you have set up.”

Bottom Line:
God can save us from trouble, but even if he doesn’t it won’t alter my commitment to Him.

What this means to me:
The God I worship can save me from all forms of trouble. But even if he doesn’t, I still won’t give into that which offers riches, fame, or other fleeting forms of happiness.

The three boys were pressured to deny God, but they chose to be faithful to him no matter what happened! They trusted God to deliver them, but they were determined to be faithful regardless of the consequences. If God always rescued those where were true to him, Christians would not need faith. Their religion would be a great insurance policy, and there would be lines of selfish people ready to sign up. We should be faithful to serve God whether he intervenes on our behalf or no. Our eternal reward is worth any suffering we may have to endure first.

What I’m learning is that God’s delays are not always denials. These boys knew that God could save them, but even if he didn’t, they would honor Him and refuse to bow to the idol. Their loyalty didn’t depend on God doing what they wanted Him to do; rather their commitment as unconditional. Disappointment would not lead them to disbelief.  They knew God could delivery them and if he chose not to, they wouldn’t become bitter. The would die as living monuments to Him, refusing to bow to the gods of this world.

When the flames of disaster are licking at my heels, God will show up right on time. Refuse to worship worldly gods that offer riches, fame, or other fleeting forms of happiness. Feeling last but a moment. Faith is forever.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Times of Testing will Come, Be Prepared

In review of Matthew 4:1 it says, “Jesus was lead up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”

Bottom Line:
There will be times of testing

What this means to me:
I will be tested on my obedience and convictions. I need to be prepared. I also need to be willing to share my testimony on times of testing.

In Matthew 4, we are told about the temptation of Jesus. Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. The devil came to him and said, "if you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread." But Jesus told him, "No! The scriptures say, people do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God."

Then we read that the devil them took him to the holy city, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, "If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the scriptures say, "He will order his angels to protect you.  And they will hold you up so you won't get hurt."Jesus responded, "The Scriptures say, "You must not test the Lord your God."

Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. "I will give it all to you," he said, "If you will kneel down and worship me." "Get out of here, Satan," Jesus told him. "For the Scriptures say, "You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him." The devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.

Jesus was lead into the wilderness by the power of the Holy Spirit. This means that God took Him on purpose to the place where He was tempted by the prince of darkness himself. This time of testing showed that Jesus really was the Son of God, able to overcome the devil and his temptations. A person has not shown true obedience if he or she has never had an opportunity to disobey. In Deuteronomy 8:2 we read that God led Israel into the wilderness to humble and test them. God wanted to see whether or not his people would really obey him. I, too, will be tested. Because I know that testing will come, I should be alert and ready for it. Remember, my convictions are only strong if they hold up under pressure.

Satan is a fallen angel. He is real, not symbolic, and is constantly fighting against those who follow and obey God. Satan's temptations are real, and he is always trying to get us to live his way or our way rather than God's way. When temptations seem especially strong, or when I think I can rationalize giving in, consider whether Satan may be trying to block God's purposes for my life or for someone else's life.

Jesus wasn't tempted inside the Temple or at his baptism but in the wilderness, where he was tired, alone, and hungry, and thus must vulnerable. The devil often tempts me when I am vulnerable or when I am under physical or emotional stress (i.e.. lonely, tired, weighing big decisions, or faced with uncertainty.) Be he also likes to tempt me through my strengths, where I'm most susceptible to pride. Therefore I must be on guard at all times against his attacks.

Today I should consider what trial I have faced? How have I used it for the Kingdom? Does my testimony change the lives of others? Scripture says we will be known by our testimony. So what am I doing with mine?

The days are short and the time of Christ’s returning grows closer with each passing moment. Don’t wait another day to share the good news of what He has done in my life, someone needs to hear of His amazing grace! I may never know how many lives I will change by sharing my testimony. Just share and God will do the rest.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Trials Come To Help Build My Faith

In review of 1 Peter 1:7 it says, “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.”

Bottom Line:
Trials in your life show that your faith is genuine.

What this means to me:
Continued trials in my life help to exercise my faith and show that my faith in Jesus it is genuine. As my faith remains strong, it will ultimately bring me praise, glory and honor when Jesus is revealed to the whole world.

Today’s verse comes from 1 Peter 1. In it Peter speaks of the hope of eternal life. Peter tells us It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. We live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance, being kept in heaven for us. Through our faith, God is protecting us by his power until we receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be glad, there is wonderful joy ahead, even though we must endure trials. These trials show that our faith is genuine. When our faith remains strong, it will bring much praise, glory and honor on the day Jesus Christ is revealed.

What I’m learning is that God will help me remain true to my faith through whatever difficult times I will face. No matter what trials or persecution I might face, my soul cannot be harmed if I have accepted Christ's gift of salvation.

I’m reminded that all believers face trials when they let their light shine into the darkness. Therefore we must accept trials as part of the refining process that burns away impurities and prepares us to meet Christ. As gold is heated, impurities float to the top and can be skimmed off. Likewise, our trials, struggles, and persecutions refine and strengthen our faith, making us useful to God. Instead of asking, "Why me?" I should respond to suffering with a new set of responses:

. Confidence that God knows, plans and directs my life for good. It's hard to calculate sometimes, but God always provides his love and strength for use. God leads us toward a better future.
. Perseverance when facing grief, anger, sorrow, and pain. We express our grief, but we don't give in to bitterness and despair.
. Courage because with Jesus as Brother and Savior, we need not be afraid. He who suffered for us will not abandon us. Jesus carries us through everything.

In summary, I believe God allows trials in my life to show His awesome power. These are not merely demonstrations to punish me, but to reveal to me the unmitigated power that can be unleashed in heaven and on earth in my hour of need.

The Lord is faithful to deliver me in on my day of trouble. He does not promise me gentle winds, but He does provide a safe landing for me. When everything around me is telling me to bend and bow before something I know doesn’t honor the Lord, God will honor me for standing up and speaking up. Faith under fire can be difficult, but the taste of victory is never sweeter than after a hard-fought battle.