His Power in Our Lives…

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Luke 24:44-53 (KJV)

44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 And ye are witnesses of these things.
49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
50 And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.

The principle we will explore today is basic but so powerful that it determines whether we experience victory in our lives.

You are probably familiar with the book The Little Engine That Could, in which a small engine keeps repeating the words “I think I can.”

By using sheer willpower, she pulls an entire train over the mountain.

That’s a nice children’s story, but the truth of the Christian life is very different. In the real world, our efforts and determination often fall short.

Only by walking in the power of the Holy Spirit can the godly life be achieved.

Throughout the Old Testament, God’s Spirit would temporarily come upon saints for a particular work.

However, after Jesus ascended to heaven, He sent the Spirit to dwell permanently within each believer.

Consider what this means: If you’re a Christian, God is living inside of you, available to help all through life by providing guidance, comfort, and empowerment.

Obedience to Christ is too difficult for anyone relying on his own strength.

And discerning what to do in every situation is far too complicated for a fleshly mind. For some reason, though, Christians often try to live life by depending on their own energy and reasoning.

Defeat and failure are unavoidable without His power in our lives.

Do you recognize your need for the Lord?

Begin each day confessing your dependence upon Him. Ask to be filled with His Spirit so that all you think, do, and say will be an overflow from Him.

Then trust Him to work in mighty ways through you. Watch what almighty God can do.

When Seeds Begin To Flourish…

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Philippians 2:12-13 (KJV)

12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

What does it mean to “work out your salvation”?

Many people mistakenly think Paul was telling us to work for our salvation. But the apostle was saying something completely different—that your salvation experience isn’t the end of your spiritual journey.

Rather, it’s the catalyst that turned on your “operation mode.”

Once you have trusted Jesus as Savior, you can begin living out what He’s given you, which is His abundant life. If you’ve given your heart to Him, the Holy Spirit now indwells you—He is with you forever.

It is God’s Spirit working in and through you that empowers you to live out your salvation.

The degree to which you yield to Him impacts the work He’ll achieve through you and the changes He will effect in your life.

Let’s say you start reading the Bible and learning. As your faith and relationship with the Lord develop, you will begin to notice Him moving in your life.

When you share your faith and your blessings with others, you’ll notice God working through even more avenues.

Keep following Him, and you will see the seeds He’s planted within you flourish (Isaiah 55:10-11). So when Scripture says we’re to “work out [our] salvation,” it means we need to reverently live out what’s already been given to us—and allow the life of Christ to come fully to fruition.

Your salvation should become an expression of Jesus’ life wherever you are.

As you work it out among your friends and family, on the job, in school, and even with strangers, God’s Spirit will energize you to make a difference and impact others—in other words, to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16).

Without This Perspective…

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1 Peter 3:13-18 (KJV)

13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?
14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

Persecution has been a common experience in Christianity ever since the apostles first proclaimed the message of salvation.

Even in places that have been blessed with a long period of peace and prosperity, there is no guarantee how long that will continue. And though we may never face severe repercussions like imprisonment or death for our beliefs, we’ve probably all felt the sting of rejection or ridicule.

Whatever form the harassment may take, we should all be prepared to suffer for Christ.

Peter wrote to a group of believers who were treated harshly because of their faith.

His goal was to offer encouragement and a reminder to follow Christ’s example: Though sinless, He suffered in our place to bring us to God. And while the crowd at the cross mocked Him, He never responded harshly. Instead, He patiently suffered in full submission to His Father, “entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:21-23).

Without this perspective, we could quickly descend into self-pity or angry resentment when we’re mistreated.

But Peter reminds us that we are blessed when we suffer for the sake of righteousness.

Not only will we receive a reward in heaven (Matthew 5:11-12), but we may also have an opportunity to gently and reverently be a witness for Christ.

A wise response to persecution flows from an accurate understanding of God’s ways.

Unfair suffering is sometimes a part of His will for us, just as it was for Christ.

But we can trust our Father, knowing that He can work every situation for our good and His glory.

Becoming a Person of Strong Faith…

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Daniel 1:1-20 (KJV)

1In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.
2And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.
3And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes;
4Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
5And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.the wine…: Heb. the wine of his drink
6Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
7Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abed–nego.
8But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
9Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.
10And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king.worse…: Heb. saddersort: or, term, or, continuance?
11Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,Melzar: or, the steward
12Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.pulse: Heb. of pulseto eat…: Heb. that we may eat, etc.
13Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.
14So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.
15And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.
16Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.
17As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.Daniel…: or, he made Daniel understand
18Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.
19And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king.
20And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.

Daniel had unshakeable faith.

His trust in the Lord sustained him when he was uprooted from his home, taken into captivity, and sent to a foreign country. It strengthened him as he served under several kings and faced many challenges.

Knowing God and trusting Him are the two key elements of deep faith.

Daniel, who was part of the Israelite nobility, apparently learned about the Lord from a young age. While he was in captivity, his words and actions demonstrated that he knew the Scriptures and wanted to obey God.

When offered a meal that was incompatible with the dietary laws, he took a great risk by requesting other food.

In verse 9 of today’s passage, we see that God caused the official to show favor to him. Like Daniel, we are to spend our lives learning and carrying out what pleases our heavenly Father (Col. 1:10).

Not only did this young man know what the Scriptures said, but he also trusted the Lord to do as He had promised.

Every time Daniel took a stand for godliness, he was demonstrating his confidence in the heavenly Father. And his friends—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—had unwavering faith as well.

They did not know for sure that the Lord would rescue them from the fiery furnace, but they believed He could and trusted that He’d do what was right (Dan. 3:16-18).

Barriers to unshakeable faith include pride (I won’t admit I need God’s help), arrogance (I know a better way—I don’t have to ask God), and self-sufficiency (I can do it myself without His help).

Which of these is keeping you from becoming a person of strong faith? Confess it and turn toward the Lord.

Filling Our Emptiness…

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John 4:3-18 (KJV)

3 He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.
4 And he must needs go through Samaria.
5 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.
7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.
8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)
9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?
12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.
16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.
17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:
18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

Countless people go through life feeling empty, which is contrary to God’s design.

The account of the Samaritan woman in John 4 teaches several important points about fulfillment.

Filling our emptiness is important to the Lord. 

As they journeyed, Jewish people bypassed Samaria because of their intense hatred for its inhabitants. Yet Jesus, a Jew, chose to travel there because He knew a hurting Samaritan was ready to hear about the Father’s love.

Our attempts at happiness often leave us feeling hopeless.

The woman at the well had been wed five times, but all of her marriages had failed. Whether or not the problems were her fault, she was left without the love she sought. Most likely, each broken relationship left her feeling lonelier than before.

God knows our pain. 

When the woman admitted she didn’t presently have a husband, Jesus revealed that He already knew she and the man living with her were not married. By demonstrating His awareness of her hurt and pursuit of fulfillment, He helped the woman recognize her need for a Savior.

Jesus can satisfy our yearnings.

Once the Samaritan woman realized what was missing, Jesus revealed how to live a full life: “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst” (John 4:13-14).

Do you ever feel like the Samaritan woman—dissatisfied with life and thirsty for love and fulfillment?

Surrender to God, and allow His love to flow through you. Only then will you experience abundant life.

When Aspirations Are Given Higher Priority…

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Psalm 16:11 (KJV)

11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

In public, most people appear happy and confident.

But beneath the surface, many feel empty.

In fact, it is possible to be in a large crowd and yet still feel alone.

A lot of men and women see no meaning or purpose in life. Attempting to overcome the emptiness, some become busy, others turn to drugs or alcohol, and still others strive for more money, power, or love.

Though pleasure exists for them, it is usually short-lived.

There’s a reason why life can feel empty:

Man was created with a yearning that God alone is able to satisfy. Individuals cannot be fulfilled until they experience His transforming and unconditional love.

Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

In other words, the Lord wants us to feel complete, which can happen only through a relationship with Him.

However, even a person who is saved can feel empty.

This could result from disobedience: A slight detour in one’s walk with the Lord can become a way of life, depriving a believer of deep satisfaction.

It’s also possible for Christians to live according to God’s Word without fully surrendering their desires to Him.

For example, many believers still try to fill up their own void with achievements, wealth, or relationships.

When aspirations like these are given higher priority than the Lord, they are a form of idolatry.

We can live a full life only when we seek God above all else.

Pray for His guidance as you search your heart. Confess any sin, and ask God to fill your life as only He can do.

Based on Our Worth…

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1 John 4:7-12 (KJV)

7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Many people simply can’t believe that the Lord loves them.

Others believe that He loves them, but only when they are pleasing Him in some way.

Why is it so hard for us to accept His unconditional love?

One reason is that we have a hard time loving others without condition. We might say the words “I love you” to our spouse, children, friends, co-workers, or fellow believers but all too often are calculating in our mind whether or not they’ve lived up to our standard.

We sometimes excuse ourselves from loving certain people because their behavior upsets or annoys us.

The fact that we place restrictions on extending favor causes us to wrongly assume that the Lord does likewise.

Another reason is poor self-image.

Considering ourselves unworthy, we refuse to accept God’s love. You know what? None of us are worthy of the heavenly Father’s goodness and mercy–so you can let go of that excuse once and for all.

We’re not coming to Him based on our worth.

Rather, we’re coming to Him based on His grace, and our position is secure in Christ. To put yourself down as “beneath His grace” is to trample on His loving, generous gift.

God arranged an awesome divine way for us to be reconciled to Him, and His greatest desire is for relationship with each of us.

If you feel unloved or struggle to accept yourself, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of our heavenly Father’s love for you–and to sink it deep into your heart. Receive the truth that He reveals.

It will be a completely different story about your value as an individual.

Storms Are Unavoidable in Life…

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2 Chronicles 20:12 (KJV)

12 O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.

If you’ve ever experienced a storm when around other people, you know not everyone responds the same way.

Picture a backyard party where all the guests are having fun, but then the wind picks up. The temperature drops, the sky darkens, and the scent of rain is in the air.

Everyone scrambles to grab something and head indoors.

Just as the last person rushes in with the potato salad, the skies let go.

Inside, people gather into clusters. One group stands at the window, oohing and aahing at the thunder and lightning outside.

On the couch, others hug each other or cover their ears; a few jump and shudder with every boom. Another group, chatting away, seems completely oblivious to the weather. Isn’t this a picture of how people react differently to the storms of life?

When it comes to the upheavals we face, our varied responses can have a significant impact down the road.

Some people respond in a healthy way and emerge stronger, while others are broken by the challenge.

What accounts for the difference in our response is our view of God.

If we see Him as our loving heavenly Father, we’ll understand He has the best possible plan for our life, even if the path is, for a time, through troubled waters.

But if we consider Him an obstruction to the goals we’ve set for ourselves, we could miss out on the blessings He has in mind for us.

Storms are unavoidable in life. When one comes your way, the wisest thing you can do is to cry out to Jesus.

Won’t you choose to respond with an attitude of trust in the Lord and submission to His way?

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