Our Inadequate Self-Righteousness…

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GALATIANS 3:10-13, 21-24

10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

Most of us are accustomed to working for a reward.

We get paid for a completed job, and there’s a bonus when our effort exceeds expectation. It’s understandable, then, why so many people assume salvation depends upon our actions.

But thankfully, that is simply not the case.

The Ten Commandments reveal God’s standard for holiness, but besides Jesus, no one has ever obeyed them perfectly.

In fact, James 2:10 points out that “whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of it all.

” Just one jealous thought, unkind comment, or dishonoring action to parents is all it takes to be a lawbreaker, according to God’s specifications.

In other words, if salvation depended on our inadequate self-righteousness, nobody could be saved.

But these ten rules weren’t intended to save us. Instead, they were meant to show our helplessness and point us to Christ (Gal. 3:24).

Our heavenly Father knew that in our own strength, we were inadequate to keep His law.

Yet out of grace, He sent His sinless Son to take the penalty we deserved for our wrongdoing—death (Rom. 6:23). Jesus bore our iniquities, died, and rose from the grave. In doing so , He conquered sin so that we can be free.

Jesus’ death and resurrection broke the bonds of sin.

Are you living in the freedom His blood made possible?

We can do nothing to reconcile ourselves to God; our only hope is to accept the free gift of the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf. In surrendering our life to Him, we find true freedom.

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When A Believer Trusts…

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LUKE 9:61-62

61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.
62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Very few people in this day and age appreciate Jesus’ use of the plow as an illustration of a life dedicated to the Lord.

The ancient plow, shaped much like the antique version of more recent centuries, was a single wooden blade attached to two handles. A mule did most of the work by pulling the apparatus forward, but the farmer held on to direct the path of the blade.

I tried out an old-fashioned plow once and discovered that using it was no easy task. The simple machine bumped and jerked under my hands as it tore up the ground. There was only one way to make a straight line, and that was to stay focused on the work and keep my eyes forward every single second.

When a believer trusts Jesus Christ as Savior, he “puts his hand to the plow.”

The idea is for us to follow the Lord in absolute obedience—always keeping our eyes on Him. That’s how we reap a harvest of faith. Discouraged believers oftentimes plow a crooked row, because they’re looking over their shoulder to dwell on past regrets or peering around to see what pleasures await.

Their field of faith looks like a disorganized mess.

Moreover, distraction slows them down, with the result that spiritual growth is sluggish, if they mature at all.

Give up whatever draws your attention away from the Lord. Believers who focus on past failures and present distractions end up all over the place in their Christian life; peace and joy are elusive and prayers go unanswered.

Follow God earnestly, and He will bring forth much spiritual fruit.

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Capable And Caring Hands…

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Romans 4:16-21

16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb:
20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to
As we all know too well, life often confronts us with unexpected or painful circumstances. Sometimes these situations leave us feeling fearful, discouraged, and frustrated. Consequently, we may question whether the Lord truly is reliable.

During such troubling moments, we can rest on this essential truth: The Lord is perfect in His love. Consider verse 5 from 1 John 1: “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” In other words, everything our heavenly Father does is righteous. And if He is a God of love, then it is impossible for Him to mistreat any of His children.

We can be assured that whatever He places or permits in our lives is good and that His motives are perfectly pure.

Jesus demonstrated this deep care for us when He offered His blood on the cross—there exists no greater display of love than giving one’s life for someone else (John 15:13). Our sin debt could be paid only with a flawless sacrifice (Deut. 17:1). Christ, the perfect lamb, was willing to die in our place so that we could have an eternal relationship with the Father. If God gave us His Son—the most precious and amazing gift possible—to take care of our greatest need, then we can trust Him to provide for all areas of our life.

When difficulty arises, remember how much God loves you. He proved this by willingly giving His Son to take the penalty for your sin.

Even when circumstances are painful, you can be confident that you are held in the capable and caring hands of your heavenly Father, because of His love.

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Spotlighting The Pleasure Of Sin…

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James 1:12-16

12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
16 Do not err, my beloved brethren.

To build a defense against temptation, we must understand how it works.

Every sin originates as a thought, often the result of a flaming arrow the Evil One shoots our way (Eph. 6:16). If a believer holds on to the thought, it becomes a fantasy—the chance to imagine what it would be like to pursue that notion without actually doing so.

The problem with fantasies is that they can easily become entangled with a person’s emotions.

This creates a desire, which brings the believer to the point where a choice must be made: he or she must either consent to the sin or refuse.

This process is quite dangerous, as the progression from thought to choice can be almost instantaneous.

Wise believers determine ahead of time to resist temptation—before it enters their consciousness.

There are two cornerstones to a good defense:

the commitment to obey God…

and the recognition that He is in control and has limited what Satan can do (1 Cor. 10:13).

We can further fortify our defense when temptation actually comes.

Satan has a way of spotlighting the pleasure of sin until that’s all we see.

But with conscious effort, we can retrain our focus to take in the bigger picture: Is this choice a violation of God’s Word? What are the consequences?

Am I prepared to pay that price?

No defense against temptation is complete without Scripture and prayer. Every moment spent meditating on the Word and communicating with God builds our faith.

As the bulwark around our mind and heart strengthens, we are ever more prepared to douse Satan’s flaming arrows.

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On Whom Is Your Attention Focused?

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Paying Attention to How We Live

LUKE 12:16-21

16 And 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?

One day we’ll give an account of ourselves to the Lord (Rom. 14:12). We must, then, pay attention to how we live.

The rich man in Luke 16:19-31 made the tragic choice of living for himself without regard for the Lord.
He also made two other mistakes.

First, he invested everything for himself and nothing for the life to come.

When we are blinded by our own desires and personal satisfaction, it is easy to become lukewarm about spiritual matters.
We forget that this life is not all there is.
Scripture tells us to store up treasures in heaven, not on earth. Where our treasure is reflects where our heart is (Matt. 6:19-21).

The rich man’s other mistake was to prepare everything for himself and nothing for others.

Crumbs falling from his table (v. 21) were the only form of assistance he gave a poor man named Lazarus.

The one who had much wealth did not share it with the one who had little. Jesus explained what our priorities should be to love the Lord wholeheartedly and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Luke 10:27).

We see the rich man’s mistakes repeated in another parable.
This time a wealthy man builds bigger barns to store crops so he will have plenty for the future. God calls him a fool for such shortsightedness (Luke 12:20).
The Bible repeatedly warns us to pay attention to spiritual matters—the Lord is to have first place in our lives and be the center of our affections.
He urges us to store up heavenly treasure by caring for the lost and hurting people around us.
On whom is your attention focused?
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Remembering Not To Take The Little Things For Granted…

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Romans 1:20 (KJV)

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse”

All around you, God’s goodness is on display.

The question is do you see it?
The scripture talks about how God was in the midst of people, but they knew Him not. Too many times, God is working in our lives, showing us favor, protecting us, sending us healing, but we don’t recognize His goodness.

For example, if you’re in a crowded parking lot and a car backs out so you can get a front row space, that’s the goodness of God. If you’re going through a difficult time and a friend stops by out of the blue and cheers you up, that’s the goodness of God.

We have to remember not to take the little things for granted. All through the day we should be saying, “Thank You, Lord, for Your goodness. Thank You for my health. Thank You for my spouse.
Thank You for the opportunity that You have given me.”
Today, be on the lookout for His goodness. Remember, what you seek you will find. Seek Him and thank Him for His faithfulness and blessing upon every area of your life!

TODAY’S PRAYER

Dear God, thank You for every good and perfect gift that You have given me.
Thank You for ordering my steps and guiding me with Your Word.
I love You and praise You today for Your faithfulness and look forward to the good things You have in store for my future in Jesus’ name.
Amen.

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Communicating With Believers…

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James 1:23-25

23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

God is not one to speak in generalities.

When He whispers from the pages of Scripture or confronts through a friend’s words, the Father directly addresses issues in His children’s lives.

With that in mind, let’s look at His three goals for communicating with believers—namely, for us to:

 1. Comprehend the truth.

 God wants us to learn His ways and principles, to recognize our own frailty, and to identify the needs of others.
 He does more than offer this as head knowledge—He makes truth applicable to our lives. For example, the Lord assured Paul that His strength was sufficient to carry the apostle through anything (2 Cor. 12:9).

Circumstances taught the apostle that God’s Word was true.

 2. Conform to the truth.

Our lives are shaped by our belief system.
What we hold as true influences our thinking. In turn, how we think affects our character, conduct, and conversation.
God is determined to mold His children into Christlikeness so that they reflect His gospel to the world.

3. Communicate the truth.

 Every child of God is called to make disciples (Matt. 28:19).
Believers can know the Lord and walk in His light but still fall short of this expectation.
We must share the gospel by sharing God’s truth with others and explaining how His words played out in our lives.

Notice that each goal builds on the one preceding it.

Christians are a light reflecting God’s glory to this world.

We shine brightly by being attentive to God’s voice and following His will.

And when someone takes an interest in the source of our light, we are prepared to share the good news of Christ.

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The Fruit Of The Spirit…

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Galatians 5:16-26

16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

As believers, we all want the fruit of the Spirit, but how can we know if we truly have it?

Even unbelievers can display these qualities when conditions are positive.

This nine-fold fruit of the Spirit is not what we do, but who we are, and it is primarily on display in Christians when circumstances are unfavorable.

Two characteristics help us recognize these traits in our lives.

Fruitful believers are not controlled by their environment.

Everyone experiences trials and pain, but those who are filled with the Spirit do not lose His fruit because of their situations. They keep their joy even when difficulties overwhelm. If someone speaks harshly, they respond with kindness. Because the Holy Spirit is in control, He is free to produce His fruit no matter what the circumstances are.

Even though such believers may feel pain, anger, or a desire for revenge, they choose to trust the Lord to protect them and direct the outcome.

Fruitful Christians recover quickly after a fall.

These believers are not perfect, but they are sensitive to the Spirit’s conviction and are quick to return to the Lord in repentance.

In fact, they are actually grateful for the correction and praise God, not only for revealing their weakness but also for drawing them back to obedience.

No one produces these amazing qualities in himself.

Trying harder to be godly will never work.

Character transformation occurs when we submit to God, giving Him complete control of our lives.

Only then will the Spirit be free to produce fruit that remains even in the deepest, darkest storms.

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