Misplaced Priorities…

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Luke 12:16-21 (KJV)

6 Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?
7 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.
8 Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God:
9 But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.
10 And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.
11 And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:
12 For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.
13And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.
14And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?
15And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
16And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

The Lord’s parable of the foolish wealthy man is a study in misplaced priorities.

Modern believers can learn from three mistakes he made: providing for himself, not others; providing for his body, not his spirit; and providing for this life, not the one to come.

There is a penalty for misplaced priorities.

This foolish man passed away with no opportunity to enjoy his goods.

What’s even worse, he died with a bankrupt soul.

Serving the Lord and His kingdom is the key to setting correct goals.

When believers make service for God a main concern, they will use a lens of righteousness to order their priorities.

The question we ought to be asking is not “What shall I do?” but rather “Lord, what would You have me do?”

The answer—which should be prayerfully sought and biblically evaluated—dictates which things we must put first in order to achieve God’s purpose for us.

Life is not something that simply happens to people.

Where we are today is largely determined by the way we prioritized our concerns in previous months and years.

This means that we can positively impact our future by organizing our priorities according to biblical guidelines.

Then, unlike the foolish man in Jesus’ parable, we will learn the eternal value of providing for others so that our own soul is fed.

More than that, we will “store up for [our]selves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal” (Matt. 6:20).

Time, Energy Plus a Commitment…

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Acts 9:1-16 (KJV)

1   And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
2   And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
3   And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
4   And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
5   And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
6   And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
7   And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
8  And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.
9  And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.
10And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.
11And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,
12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
13Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:
14And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.
15But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

The apostle Paul had a strong commitment to know and serve Jesus Christ.

His passion and love for the Lord was obvious–Jesus was always central in his thinking, whether he was working as a tent maker, preaching to the crowd, or even sitting in chains at prison.

What fueled his love for the Lord?

Paul’s conversion experience on the Damascus Road was a motivating force in his life.

Grateful for the gift of grace he had received at salvation, the apostle told many people about his encounter with the resurrected Christ and its impact on him.

We, too, have a story to tell of God’s mercy in saving us and of the new life we have in Him.

Paul’s zeal also came from his firm conviction that the gospel message was true and available to everyone (John 3:16).

On the cross, Jesus took all our sins–past, present, and future–upon Himself (1 Pet. 2:24).

He suffered our punishment so that we might receive forgiveness and be brought into a right relationship with God.

Through faith in Christ, we’ve been born again, and the indwelling Holy Spirit helps us every day (John 14:26).

The more we understand what Jesus has accomplished on our behalf, the greater will be our passion to share the gospel.

Developing a vibrant faith requires time and energy plus a commitment to obey God.

Regularly studying the Bible will strengthen your beliefs and give you courage to speak. Caring about the spiritual welfare of others will move you into action.

Do you have a passion to serve Jesus wherever He leads?

High Hopes for Reconciliation…

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Romans 15:4-13 (KJV)

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:
That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.
Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:
And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.
10 And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.
11 And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.
12 And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.
13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Despite man’s best efforts, the world’s longing for peace remains unfulfilled.

Each new generation has high hopes for reconciliation among people and nations but in the end faces disappointment.

One day Christ will return and make everything right.

Until then, believers are called to be His ambassadors of peace.

However, becoming a Christian does not automatically change us into people who pursue kindness and unity.

At times we’re quick-tempered and impatient and find it hard to live in harmony with others. We may have trouble letting go of attitudes or habits that hurt those around us–and occasionally we don’t even want to.

God knows our true character and has provided the Holy Spirit to transform us into Jesus’ likeness.

The Spirit opens our minds to understand and apply Scripture. He gives us the power to say no to ungodliness and to replace me-centered thinking with a Christ-centered viewpoint.

He patiently produces His fruit in us, which includes love, joy, and peace (Gal. 5:22-23).

With His help, we can become peacemakers who work to bring about reconciliation between God and others (Matt. 5:9).

While our world keeps hoping for peace through man’s solutions, we know the only source of lasting unity is Jesus Christ.

The Lord wants our hearts to be ruled by His peace (Col. 3:15) and our relationships to be marked by a spirit of oneness.

How encouraged other people will be when they realize it’s the transforming power of God in our lives that brings about reconciliation in our marriages, families, and churches.

The Perfect Full-Service Guide…

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Jeremiah 10:23-24 (KJV)

23 Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
24 Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing

Life is like an untraveled trail with twists and turns.

Appealing activities can become detours that lead to the quicksand of sin.

And engaging philosophies may start as small interests but turn into a mire of muddled thinking.

Even the best route isn’t always sun-dappled meadows and quiet riverside lanes; we may have to journey over hard terrain or shadowed valleys.

The only way to be sure we’re walking correctly is to follow one who knows the way perfectly.

God is the perfect full-service guide.

No one can go wrong by keeping to the pathways He selects.

Consider that He lovingly and intentionally created you for this time and this place.

The Lord watches over your steps because He desires to see your purpose fulfilled and His plan come to fruition through you (Prov. 3:5-6).

He has promised to counsel those who follow Him (Psalm 25:12), so when you sense God warning you away from a tempting sidetrack, realize it is because He foresees the dangers that lurk on that road.

There’s a correlation between ignoring the Lord’s guidance and ending up in trouble:

The one who stumbles off course has trusted his own “sense of direction”—his emotions, desires, or personal version of morality.

He has been pursuing what feels good or looks right instead of seeking the heavenly Father’s will.

God has mapped out the path before you.

He is aware of every obstacle and miry pit, and He knows exactly which sidetracks will tempt you.

What’s more, He has committed to walk beside you as a guide and comforter so that you never face the twists and turns of this life alone.

The Perfect Full-Service Guide…

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Jeremiah 10:23-24 (KJV)

23 Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
24 Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing

Life is like an untraveled trail with twists and turns.

Appealing activities can become detours that lead to the quicksand of sin.

And engaging philosophies may start as small interests but turn into a mire of muddled thinking.

Even the best route isn’t always sun-dappled meadows and quiet riverside lanes; we may have to journey over hard terrain or shadowed valleys.

The only way to be sure we’re walking correctly is to follow one who knows the way perfectly.

God is the perfect full-service guide.

No one can go wrong by keeping to the pathways He selects.

Consider that He lovingly and intentionally created you for this time and this place.

The Lord watches over your steps because He desires to see your purpose fulfilled and His plan come to fruition through you (Prov. 3:5-6).

He has promised to counsel those who follow Him (Psalm 25:12), so when you sense God warning you away from a tempting sidetrack, realize it is because He foresees the dangers that lurk on that road.

There’s a correlation between ignoring the Lord’s guidance and ending up in trouble:

The one who stumbles off course has trusted his own “sense of direction”—his emotions, desires, or personal version of morality.

He has been pursuing what feels good or looks right instead of seeking the heavenly Father’s will.

God has mapped out the path before you.

He is aware of every obstacle and miry pit, and He knows exactly which sidetracks will tempt you.

What’s more, He has committed to walk beside you as a guide and comforter so that you never face the twists and turns of this life alone.

Patiently and Mercifully…

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Matthew 9:11-13 (KJV)

11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?
12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
13  But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

There is a common misconception that believers should be perfect.

Pretending to have our lives in order, many of us wear happy faces and speak words that sound acceptable.

At times we’re ashamed to admit our shortcomings, as if they should not exist.

Salvation through Jesus, however, doesn’t change the fact that sin is present in our life.

When we’re born again, God forgives us and sees us as righteous.

Yet our battle with sin continues till we arrive in heaven.

In fact, striving for perfection actually can be a trap that pulls us away from living a godly life.

Functioning in this way is a form of relying on our own capability.

Jesus said that He came to heal the spiritually sick because they recognized their weakness. With an awareness of our inadequacy comes the realization of our need for Him.

The world sees successful individuals as powerful and self-sufficient, but Jesus didn’t care about these qualities.

Instead, He wants people to be aware of their own brokenness. This is the foundation for godliness.

We should accept our neediness and seek God passionately.

Doing so allows the following attributes to develop: a hunger for God’s Word, faithful service, deepening trust, and decision-making based upon principle rather than preference.

Patiently and mercifully, God matures us.

Be careful not to cover up your sins in order to look like a “good Christian.”

Without recognition and confession of our sinfulness, we are unable to rely fully on God.

It is only with this awareness that we can passionately seek Him, obey in His strength, and confess with repentance when we miss the mark.

Far More Than Hope…

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2 Timothy 4:1-5 (KJV)

1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

Unbelievers have a right to ask us what we believe and why we believe it.

And we have the responsibility to provide them with sound reasons.

Therefore, we must be prepared at all times to patiently share what we know about Jesus.

Apologetics (from the Greek apo meaning “from” and logia, “sayings”) is a branch of theology devoted to defending biblical truths.

Christianity rests on a foundation of far more than hope; believers have a blessed assurance based on the eternal truth of the living God.

Therefore, we should always be ready to make a defense, state reasons, and give an account for the faith we have (1 Peter 3:15).

Some people have beliefs that are not necessarily the truth, and yet they feel strongly about what they’ve been taught.

Many of them are part of the sizable percentage of our society that has no regard for the Word of God.

As you have probably discovered, we cannot make a person believe what he doesn’t want to believe.

So if we encounter individuals like this, it’s wise to let them first see how we live.

Then, perhaps, they will be more open to hearing about our beliefs.

But here’s a word of warning: Hypocrisy is easy to spot, so make sure your lifestyle aligns with your professed convictions.

If people see that your walk doesn’t match your talk, they will reject God’s truth.

They know that if what you claim to believe really worked, you’d be living by it.

The Word of God is trustworthy—so live a life consistent with Scripture, for your own sake as well as for those you hope to reach with the gospel.

Temptations, Obstacles and Difficulties…

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Proverbs 3:1-4 (KJV)

1 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:
2 For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.long…: Heb. years of life
3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
4 So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.

Jesus Christ told His disciples, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit” (John 15:5).

As we carry out the Lord’s plans through the power of His Spirit, our lives will have significance, and two practices will characterize us.

  1. Treasuring God’s Word in our hearts.

When we value something, we think about it often, study it regularly, and learn all we can about it. By studying the Bible, we learn many important things about our God, including His character, plan, and promises. Regular Scripture meditation develops our ability to think biblically and deepens our relationship with the Lord. One of the indications that we treasure His Word is a change in behavior: Decisions will increasingly be guided by His principles, and actions will reflect the fruit of the Spirit. (See Gal. 5:22-23.)

  1. Adorning ourselves with kindness and truth.

These two virtues are to be our constant companions on the Christian walk.

God’s truth has the power to expose ungodly attitudes and behaviors. When this happens, the presence of kindness helps to protect relationships from damage; it can also prevent discord and division in churches.

The Lord wants us to speak the truth to one another—but to temper it with loving compassion.

The Christian life is a journey filled with temptations, obstacles, and difficulties that are common to man (1 Peter 4:12).

At the same time, it is to be characterized by the fruitfulness that comes from following Jesus Christ, our guide.

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