If Only I Had A Sign?

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John 7:28-31(KJV)

28Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not.
29 But I know him: for I am from him, and he hath sent me.
30 Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.
31 And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?

How many signs are enough?

For those in the crowd who believe in Jesus, He had done enough.  They said, “When the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these which this Man has done?” (John7:31). Others were doubtful –they needed more wonders before they could believe.

Do you ever feel as though you need a big, obvious sign from God?

Do you ever want proof that God is going to do as He says? Would a miraculous occurrence convince you that God is going to be faithful?

In Luke 16, Jesus answered such sign based faith with a parable. As a rich man faced the torments of perdition, he felt certain that if his brothers had a special messenger, they would take heed of the judgment awaiting them.

Therefore, the rich man asked Abraham to send the poor man, Lazarus back to earth from heaven to give his brothers the message of salvation.

However, Abraham did not honor his request; rather, he revealed a sobering truth, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded by one rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31).

Jesus voiced a similar theme in John 7:28, “You both know me, and you know where I am from; and I have come of Myself, but He who sent me is true.” You know Christ and His character. You know that He has the ability and wisdom to help you. After all that, do you still doubt?

People that do not believe God’s track record will hardly be convinced by miraculous signs and wonders. A.W. Tozer has written, “The believing mind would not be convinced by any proof, and the whispering heart needs none.”

Do you keep asking for signs in order to believe?

Then you’re asking for the wrong thing. Instead, look to God. He has been faithful throughout history and He will most certainly be faithful to you.

If you need assurances to the trustworthiness of His character, you have a huge treasure trove of examples in Scripture.

So make your faith sure—He will do as He said, you can be certain of it.

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A Surprise and Welcome Visit…

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Acts 27:13-26 (KJV)

13 And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete.
14 But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.
15 And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive.
16 And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat:
17 Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven.
18 And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship;
19 And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.
20 And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.
21 But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.
22 And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship.
23 For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,
24 Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Cæsar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.
25 Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.
26 Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.

Do you like surprise visits?

For most of us, that depends on who appears at the door.

When God makes a surprise visit, He brings a message and purpose that we could never anticipate. This is one of the important ways of God that every believer should understand.

In Acts 27:13-26, we see God make a surprise visit to Paul during his final, disastrous maelstrom toss voyage to Rome. Acts 27:20 tell us, “When neither sun nor starts appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hopes that we would be saved was finally given up.” Without tackle or food, 276 passengers knew that there was no way they could survive the terrible storm.

In the moment most bereft of hope God sent word to Paul through an angel. Paul in return, announced God’s message to his shipmates. He said, “There stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be bought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you’” (w.23-24).

There are some important things we can learn about God’s surprise visits through this account of Paul’s life.

  1. When God visits, He comes in His own timing:
    Though you may wonder why God chose to wait so long to address the passengers on the ship, we know one thing for sure: The hope God offered was very welcome to them. God works on the basis of His perfect knowledge and purpose; rather than our understanding or impatience.
  2. When God visits, we feel and awesome sense of His presence.
    It is always when we’re most helpless that we best appreciate God’s strength and provision. We can almost imagine the amazing emotion that swept through those people, knowing that holy God was coming to their aid.
  3. When God visits, He has a specific purpose in mind for us.
    God’s specific message to Paul was that he would indeed fulfill His purpose in Paul’s life. God had previously commanded, “As you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome” (Acts 23:11). Then God confirmed, “Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar” (Acts 27:24). God encouraged Paul by letting him know he was still on the right track—even if his circumstances seemed to suggest otherwise.
  4. The greater your task or His purpose, the more likely His visit will be.
    Understand that Paul was on his way to his final place of ministry: Rome. This was a critical time in his life and he needed God’s encouragement to remain strong and courageous for his final assignment.

God still makes surprise visits today because He has a wonderful and significant purpose for each and every one of us.

He is interested in the details of our life—whether we’re peacefully sailing, or tempest tossed. He wants to give us confidence and involve us in His plan. He also wants others to be encouraged and saved through us.

So welcome Him and embrace Him.

His surprise visits will always be right on time.

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Material For Our Spiritual House…

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1 Corinthians 3:12-15 (KJV)

12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Believers build their lives on the Rock of Ages: Jesus Christ.

Every motive, every deed, and every word is material for our spiritual house. The apostle Paul warned followers to construct with care because on the day of judgment, fire will test the quality of each person’s work.

This refers not to a literal fire but to the purifying presence of Jesus Christ.

When I stand in the Savior’s perfectly holy and just presence, all the wood, hay, and stubble in my life will disappear. Good things done with wrong motives will vanish along with secret sins and bad attitudes. Only what has been done and said in Jesus’ name remains. And the moment the chaff is gone, we will see that God is right—those things didn’t fit the life of His child.

On hearing this explanation, someone usually says, “All that matters is that I get into heaven.” But that attitude is shortsighted because the judgment of believers is about rewards.

In the parable of the unrighteous steward, Jesus explained the basic concept to His disciples: “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10). Our time on earth is the beginning of an eternity serving and rejoicing in the Lord. God will reward us with heavenly responsibility according to our faithfulness here.

Wise people plan for the future (Prov. 27:12).

I want to receive as much of God’s goodness as He offers, so I am determined to build with top-quality, enduring materials. The privilege of serving is only the beginning of the rewards.

In heaven, God’s generosity will be even more abundantly unleashed.

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Job’s Friends: Abundant, But Wrong…

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Job 23:10-13(KJV)

10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
s11 My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined.
12 Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.ss
13 But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth.

Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar heard of Job’s plight and felt deeply burdened to comfort their old friend.

But what they saw staggered them.

They gasped, cried out and tore their clothes—a demonstration of deep grief.

Finally they sat with Job and remained silent. They stayed the way for seven days.

Once they opened their mouths, however, Job’s visitors didn’t offer much help.  They judged his pitiful situation to be the consequence of sin, and kept insisting that adversity comes only to the wicked, not to the righteous.

Therefore Job had to be suffering God’s punishment for some secret wrongdoing.

Job rejected their diagnosis.

He said, “He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside. I have not parted from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth” (Job 23:10-12).

In the end, the Lord had the final word, and He rebuked Eliphaz, Bildad andZophar (see Job 42:7-9).

When God restored Job twofold, He proved himself—and His promises—ever faithful.

And He showed that blessings for obedience do not guarantee a life free of adversity.

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Genuine Contentment…

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Philippians 4:5-9 (KJV)

5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

The apostle Paul said he learned the secret of experiencing contentment in all circumstances, good or bad.

Does it surprise you that he wrote this when he was in prison, unsure of his future?

We’re often discontent even when all is going well.

Consequently, we wonder how it’s possible to be truly content during our most difficult trials, especially when there’s no end in sight.

So what is genuine contentment?

Paul is speaking of a freedom from worry and frustration about everything in life–even unfulfilled desires.

It’s usually when we cannot control or change our situation that we feel discontentment.

As long as our satisfaction depends on whether certain things actually work out, we’ll allow circumstances to cheat us out of peace. I’m not saying there’s some spiritual stage where you will never again experience anxiety or frustration. But what matters is how we respond when those feelings grip us.

This is something that the apostle had to learn. Paul endured amazing suffering, from shipwrecks and hunger to unjust imprisonment and beatings (2 Cor. 11:24-30). He had gone through countless situations that were uncertain, extraordinarily painful, and seemingly hopeless. But he finally discovered that contentment could not be dependent upon his circumstances.

How do you respond when circumstances are out of your control?

Do you get angry? Do you try to escape? Does despair make you want to give up? Paul chose to give his anxieties to Jesus in exchange for peace that “surpasses all comprehension” (Phil. 4:7).

That same peace is available to you!

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The Cost Of Unhealthy Compromise….

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Where do we draw the line between healthy and unhealthy compromise?

1 Kings 11:9-13 (KJV)

9 And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice,
10 And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the Lord commanded.
11 Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant.
s12 Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father’s sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son.
13 Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen.

Compromise can be defined as making a concession in order to gain something.

At times, compromise can be a good thing.

If you’ve ever had to compromise on what restaurant you choose or what price you pay for a new car, you don’t need an explanation of how compromise works.

We engage in healthy compromise when we can give in to another without compromising our core values and beliefs. Every healthy human relationship experiences an element of give and take.

Unhealthy compromise, on the other hand, involves abandoning sound and godly ideas and standards, leaving us morally and spiritually bankrupt.

The story of Solomon demonstrates how unhealthy compromise can end in tragedy.  Solomon surpassed every ruler of his time in wisdom and riches. People from all over the world sought out Solomon for his wisdom. Yet Solomon deliberately disobeyed God’s warnings against intermarriage with other religions (see Deut. 7:3).  The result was devastating.  Solomon’s heart turned away from absolute devotion to His God and began to cling to the gods of his wives.

No man ever soared so high to fall so low.

We live in a world full of temptations that urges us to compromise our godly values. But when we choose to compromise, we pay a price, even though it may not seem immediately apparent to others (or even to ourselves).

Satan wants us to believe the lie that no one gets hurt when we compromise our core values.

The truth is, that lie has cost men their jobs and ministries, children their innocence, and at times, it has even cost individuals their lives.

God’s righteousness is forever.

He doesn’t wink at compromise. Consider Solomon. After his compromise came collapse. God didn’t waste any words. He said He would rip the kingdom out of Solomon’s hands because of his compromise. That is exactly what happened (see 1 Kin. 11:11).

Unhealthy compromise is costly. It corrupts and it brings collapse.

Has God put his finger on something in your life?  Perhaps you’ve crossed the line and you’re no longer flirting with compromise. But have jumped head long into it?

Satan is both cunning and powerful, and if he can get you to give up what is important to you, he could send you down a dark road that could cost you dearly.

Don’t fall for it.

Don’t give in.

Don’t compromise what you shouldn’t.

Trust God and leave all the consequences to Him.

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A Believer’s Reward…

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Hebrews 6:10 (KJV)

10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

In His grace, God freely gives salvation to those who believe in Jesus.

We cannot earn this gift, nor do we deserve it. Our Father does notice our good works, though. And He promises to reward us according to what we have done for Him.

True service occurs when we allow the Lord to work through us for His glory and honor.

True ministry occurs when divine resources meet human need through loving channels.

Revelation 22:12 encourages us, “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.” Whether large or small, all service done in Jesus’ name will be blessed. We must be careful, though, that our actions are for Christ’s glory. If motives are self-serving, the only benefit we receive is the praise (if any) that we hear from people in this life. And we know that men’s approval is not satisfying or lasting.

While some rewards will be given in heaven, other blessings can be experienced now.

For example, we know great joy when we allow God to bless others through us. And there is deep satisfaction in realizing that we are pleasing Christ. In addition,there’s a profound sense of fulfillment when we lead a person to Jesus and teach him how to walk by faith.

Serving others is both a great benefit and a responsibility for Christians. We should prayerfully consider our motives to make sure that our goal is to glorify Christ.

Only then will we receive God’s full blessings–rewards given not only in eternity but on earth as well.

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Surviving The Tough Times…

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Psalm 77:19, 20 (KJV)

19 Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.
20 Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

We can probably agree that the tough times of life are inescapable.

Difficult circumstances will take place in every person’s life. Of course, some of the troubles we experience are those we bring on ourselves, while others are the result of what God is doing in our lives.

However, what is important is how we respond to those tough times — that’s what’s going to make the difference in us. We must decide whether we’re going to let our burdens develop us or destroy us –our success hinges upon our attitude and response to our circumstances.

Think about how the Israelites responded to their trials as they fled Egypt for the Promised Land. Some, like Moses and Joshua engaged the long arduous journey with confidence in God, and their character became stronger because of it. Yet, there were also Israelites who were faithless, and they crumbled beneath their loads because they refused to trust in God.

The difference was the way they responded to their problems.

Some of the most godly men and women I know are those who have walked through the most difficult times of heartbreak, loss, and persecution. However, through it all, they committed themselves to being godly, strong, and courageous—to continue trusting God no matter what happened.
Though they are simply ordinary people, they learned the key to surviving tough times…

They trust God to see them through all circumstances placed before them.

For example, when the children of Israel were caught between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea, Moses was able to remain faithful- even though Psalm 77:19 reports, “Your way was in the sea, Your path in the great waters, and Your footsteps were not known.”

Moses didn’t know how God would deliver them but he still knew that God would deliver them. So he said to Israel, “Do not be afraid, Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today” (Ex. 14:13).

Moses saw the one who is unseen- he saw God. If we forget everything else, we must remember this:
The key to surviving tough times is learning to live with the continuing awareness of the presence of God.

Have you discovered that yet?

Are you aware that every moment of your life you are in the presence of the almighty God, and that He is sovereign, loving, all-knowing, and faithful?

You should because He is always with you- helping you, providing for you and protecting you.
There is no trouble, heartache, loss or suffering that His loving hand can’t guide you through fully.

Count on Him, then. You’ll not only survive the tough times, you’ll triumph in them.

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