His Presence and Handiwork…

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John 5:16-19 (KJV)

6When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?
7The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.
8Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.
9And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.
10The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.
11He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.
12Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?
13And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.
14Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.
15The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.
16And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.
17But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.
18Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
19Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

Throughout the Bible, we observe God at work in people’s lives.

Sometimes He acts in dramatic fashion, as in parting the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to escape the Egyptian army.

At other times it may appear as if He’s not taking any action. Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother needed His help, but Christ delayed before traveling to their home (John 11:3-6).

Our Father has given us the Holy Spirit to help us recognize His presence and handiwork.

The Spirit cultivates spiritual discernment in us so we can understand when and where He’s at work.

In addition to spiritual discernment, we must develop patience because the Lord operates according to His timetable, not ours.

After being promised numerous descendants, Abrahan had to wait until he and Sarah were beyond childbearing years before she conceived.

Impatience can cause us to take matters into our own hands and make mistakes.

The Lord’s efforts can bring delight, as was the case when Hannah bore a child (1 Sam. 1:27-2:1). His plan can also lead through painful times, which was Joseph’s experience.

Before the Lord elevated him to a position of authority to help his family, Joseph was sold into slavery and unjustly imprisoned.

Jesus told the disciples that His Father was always at work and so was He.

We will be encouraged and strengthened in our faith when we recognize the ways in which God is operating.

These glimpses of His handiwork will motivate us to stay the course and help us maintain a godly perspective on life.

Whatever “It”Is…

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2 Corinthians 3:1-6 (KJV)

1 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?
2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:
3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:
5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

Inadequacy can be a roadblock to doing the Lord’s will—it can deter us from stepping out in faith to accomplish what God calls us to do.

It’s no sin to feel insufficient, but we can transgress by not attempting to overcome that attitude.

In contrast, a right response to shortcomings can turn inadequacy to blessing.

Even the apostle Paul felt inadequate, but he didn’t allow his feelings to hold him prisoner and prevent his sharing the gospel. (See 1 Tim. 1:15-16.) Instead, he allowed recognition of his limitations to drive him closer to God.

For believers, the correct reaction is more prayer and biblical meditation so that our reliance upon the Lord strengthens. As we shed the burden of relying on our own strength, we become motivated to work in the power of the Holy Spirit.

God’s Spirit enables us to achieve whatever it is we are called to do.

The disciples followed Jesus for years, but His final instructions left no doubt concerning their limitations: Go and tell the world about Me after you have received the Spirit’s power (Acts 1:4-8).

Jesus’ disciples were inadequate, too.

But our inadequacy enables God to demonstrate the great things He can do with so little.

Remember that Moses and David were mere shepherds, and Gideon was least among Israel’s men (Judg. 6:15), yet the Lord accomplished amazing feats through them.

Our inadequacy can turn out to be a blessing by driving us into a stronger relationship with God.

 We can say with Paul, “I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Cor. 12:9).

Rest Confidently Knowing…

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1 Corinthians 1:1-9 (KJV)

1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:
3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

When plans are frustrated or life just seems to fall apart in some way, people often wonder, Has God deserted me?

Why hasn’t He answered my prayers? 

The Bible offers encouragement for such times by assuring us of the Father’s faithfulness: “Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments” (Deut 7:9).

Five attributes of God make this possible.

First, He is omniscient, which means He knows everything, including our every need, thought, frailty, desire, and life situation in the past, present, and future.

Next, the Lord is omnipotent, or all-powerful, so nothing is too hard for Him (Jer. 32:17).

Then, He is omnipresent–since He exists everywhere at once, He is never beyond reach.

In addition, our heavenly Father cannot lie.

Everything that He says is true and reliable.

And lastly, God is unchanging.

Our circumstances and the world around us may seem to be in a constant state of flux, and the Lord may even modify the way He chooses to interact with mankind in different generations.

But His character is always the same.

So when Scripture tells us that God is faithful, we can rest confidently upon that promise.

Circumstances can be painful.

But even when situations seem overwhelming, believers can trust that our sovereign Lord knows all, is in control, and lovingly works everything for His children’s good.

We can rest confidently knowing that the unchanging God of all creation is taking care of us.

Stepping Out On Faith…

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Ephesians 3:14-21 (KJV)

14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
21Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Do you ever feel unequal to the task God has set in front of you?

At times, all of us struggle with such feelings because certain responsibilities appear to be bigger than one human being is able to accomplish.

Problems can develop when we wear inadequacy like a cloak in order to protect ourselves from doing the Lord’s work.

We sometimes try to convince ourselves that a task is too great or that God expects too much.

When this is the case, we might be tempted to turn away from some tremendous God-given opportunities.

For example, sometimes the Lord provides a situation that is just right for sharing the good news of Christ with a coworker, family member, or acquaintance.

But how often do we back off and end up squandering such opportune moments because we’re afraid we won’t know what to say?

Inadequacy grows out of fear—specifically, fear of failure and of not meeting people’s expectations. No matter how unqualified we feel, apprehension is not an acceptable excuse for avoiding responsibility.

The truth is, even if a Christian feels incapable of accomplishing some of the awesome tasks God calls him to do, the Holy Spirit is more than adequate!

As believers, we do not have to possess perfect qualifications or skills; we need only to be willing.

What have you refused to do for the Lord because you feel inadequate? 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that God has given us a spirit of power, not one of timidity.

All the believer has to do is step out in faith; the Holy Spirit’s strength and courage will be there to meet us.

We Can Never Outgive Him…

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2 Corinthians 9:6-15 (KJV)

6  But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
7  Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
8  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
9  (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.
10Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)
11Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
12For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;
13Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;
14And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.
15Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

God’s blessings to us are not meant to end with us.

His desire is that they filter down to others.

This principle applies in all areas of our life, including our finances. Did you know that our heavenly Father has plans for our money?

God’s children generally want to discover what His will is for their life, but so often they fail to consult Him about His desires for their paycheck.

The Lord graciously supplies us with income so we can provide for our needs and even some of our desires. But He also wants us to use our money to achieve His purposes.

And one of His goals is that we share our resources with others.

If we decide in our heart to participate in His plans, He commits to provide all we need to live and to share.

Just look at His extravagant promise in 2 Corinthians 9:8: “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” (emphasis added).

This encouraging scripture is a good reminder that sharing blessings with others will never lead to deprivation. In fact, the Lord promises to increase the harvest of our righteousness and enrich us in everything in response to our generosity.

We can never outgive God.

A hoarded blessing is never enjoyed as richly as a shared one. Using your gift to meet someone else’s need glorifies the Lord by demonstrating His grace at work in your life.

Don’t allow His generous provisions to end with you. Pass them on to others and discover the joy of a never-ending cycle of blessings.

Special Classes Aren’t Required…

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Proverbs 4:20-27 (KJV)

20 My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.
21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.
22 For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.health: Heb. medicine
23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.with…: Heb. above all keeping
24 Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.a froward…: Heb. frowardness of mouth and perverseness of lips
25 Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.
26 Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.let…: or, all thy ways shall be ordered aright
27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.

The most obvious source of godly wisdom is the Bible.

You cannot think of a question or life circumstance about which God’s Word is silent. His principles for right character, conduct, and conversation apply to every situation and decision confronting human beings.

We’re all able to recall times when we didn’t respond wisely.

Those incidents can be traced back to one of two possibilities–either we didn’t know a certain biblical principle or we knew the principle that applied but chose to ignore or violate it.

To ensure that we’ are familiar with God’s standards and the importance of following them, we’ve got to dig into His Word.

For example, suppose that you walk into the office and a coworker verbally assaults you with undeserved blame for a costly mistake.

Your flesh and the world would have you respond in kind with anger and malice. But Luke 6:27-29 offers a different approach, that might go something like this: “Is there anything else? Thank you for telling me how you feel” (spoken gently).

Knowledge comes from learning biblical principles; wisdom has to do with applying them.

The Lord cautions us to keep His Word in our heart and in our heads so that we will heed His instructions (Ps. 119:11; Prov. 8:33).

Wisdom is acquired as we pursue the Christian life–absorbing Scripture, doing what it says, and observing the result, which is for our good even when consequences appear less than favorable.

Special classes aren’t required; God simply wants obedient hearts and a willing spirit.

Your Internal Conscience…

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1 Timothy 1:18-19 (KJV)

18 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;
19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:

To enable us to distinguish between what is morally right and wrong, God has given us a conscience.

It is His gift to help us avoid shipwreck in our lives.

Your conscience serves as a kind of spiritual radar; the condition you keep it in will determine how much you can trust it.

The sacred conscience is one that has been kept spotless through confession of sin (1 John 1:9) and reflects a desire to know and follow God’s will.

Once we are cleansed, we can live without guilt, walking openly and transparently before the Lord. When we do sin, we know immediately that we need to get right with God.

The struggling conscience is clogged with rules and regulations, and its spirit of legalism makes us critical of our performance.

Having created our own radar system of “should, ought, and must,” we’ve used it to determine right or wrong. In doing so, we fail to understand God’s righteousness, which can never be replaced with self-righteousness.

The soiled conscience is stained from harboring sin.

If we consistently choose our way over God’s, we lose sight of what’s suitable and true. Excuses like “I can’t help it” add to our lack of peace and the unreliability of our inner compass.

The seared conscience is insensitive to sin. When we continually resist and ignore its warnings, such a conscience will, over time, become numb to moral alarm.

Ask God to show you how well your internal conscience is operating, and then allow Him to restore it.

When Our Appetites Rule Us…

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1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (KJV)

24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

What words would you use to describe our society? 

Materialistic, sensual, impatient, indulgent, undisciplined–these are just a few.

We’re also a “have it now” culture.

Satan specializes in presenting us with opportunities for instant gratification while promising us that indulging our appetites will bring us the satisfaction we seek.

Human appetites, in themselves, are not sinful.

In fact, they’re God-given. However, because of our fleshly weaknesses, they need to be controlled.

When our appetites rule us, we’re in trouble.

Paul likened the Christian life to that of athletes who are so focused on winning the race that they exercise self-control in every area of their lives.

That’s exactly how we’re called to live, yet we lack the motivation, determination, and power to do so in our own strength.

For this reason, we need to rely on the Holy Spirit within us. If we yield our lives to Him and step out in obedience to His promptings, we’ll have the strength to say no when fleshly desires feel overpowering (Gal. 5:16).

Another key to success is keeping our focus on the eternal instead of the temporal.

Many decisions that seem mundane are in fact spiritually significant.

Are you indulging an appetite that could result in the sacrifice of an imperishable reward in heaven?

When the Enemy tempts us, he always tries to keep our attention on our desire and the pleasure of indulgence rather than on the eternal rewards and blessings we’re forfeiting.

Just remind yourself how quickly immediate gratification wanes and how long eternity lasts

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