Expressing Your Commitment…

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Psalm 62:1-2 (KJV)

1 Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation.
2 He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved.

Having been saved by faith in Christ, we express our love and gratitude through devotion to Him.

Regular Bible study and prayer will be an integral part of our daily lives. In addition, our commitment to the Lord will be revealed through a passion to obey, a spirit of humility, and a servant’s heart.

Obedience.

David sought to obey God all his life. As a shepherd boy, he faithfully tended the animals in his father’s fields. While king, he set aside his desire to build the temple and let Solomon lead the effort, as God had commanded. Although David lived imperfectly, his desire was to do what the Lord asked. We see from Jesus’ words in John 14:15 that obedience should be our high priority as well: He said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”

Humility.

After David killed Goliath, the crowds shouted praise about the young man. However, he did not become prideful. Instead, he remained in King Saul’s service and waited for God to make him the ruler of Israel. Even as king, he remained humble. He knew that what had been accomplished was because of the Lord’s actions and not his own (2 Sam. 7:18).

Service.

Whether David was a lowly shepherd or a mighty king, his goal was to obey God and serve Him.
This man after God’s own heart was devoted to his Lord. He sought to know Him and longed to carry out His will. David’s actions reflected His humble attitude of servanthood and his longing to please his heavenly Father.

Take steps each day to be sure your life expresses commitment to Jesus.

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The Limited Vantage Point Of Humans…

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Genesis 37:3-4 (KJV)

3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours.
4 And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him

 When we don’t understand what God is doing or why, His ways can seem perplexing.

The times when ungodly people seem to triumph over the righteous make us scratch our heads and wonder why the Lord doesn’t intervene. But the truth is, He often uses the wicked to accomplish His purpose.

Joseph faced one hard-hearted individual after another during his years in exile.

His brothers shipped him off to Egypt. His boss’s wife accused him of an unspeakable crime. And even those he helped, like Pharaoh’s cupbearer, forgot about him (Gen. 40:23). The actions (or seeming inactions) of God make little sense at this point.

But once the story of Joseph’s life was written in full, it was clear that everyone who harmed or neglected the young man contributed to God’s plan. The Lord used numerous people across several years to bring a humbled young Hebrew unexpectedly to power at the right moment to spare his family–who were the Messiah’s ancestors–from the effects of famine.

In our circumstances, we can see God’s actions only from the limited vantage point of our humanness.

We experience the events He has allowed or caused but can’t discern what He is thinking. Often the Lord’s goals and purposes are hidden from us until His plans come to fruition.

God is sovereign over all the earth.

We may wonder at the strange or even terrifying turns our lives take, but we can be certain that He is in control and at work.

The wicked may triumph for a season, but the final, eternal victory belongs to Christ and His righteous followers.

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Confidence and Assurance…

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Acts 4:5-21 (KJV)

5 And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes,
6 And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.
7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,
9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;
10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.

When other people see confidence and assurance in a believer, they are influenced in positive way.

This was certainly true in Peter and John. In Acts 4, they went and courageously preached the Bible because they knew that Christ was the only way by which people could be saved (see v. 12). Acts 4:13 tell us that when the religious leaders “saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.”

As believers, we have the privilege and the power within us to be bold and confident as well. This is because our adequacy is not within ourselves; rather, our adequacy comes from the indwelling presence of God.

Perhaps you doubt that you can be as outrageous as the disciples were. How can you develop confidence in your life?

1. You develop confidence by know that God is your heavenly Father, who loves you unconditionally.

Confidence begins to grow by knowing God. God is gracious, kind, tender and forgiving. He is also faithful to keep every promise He made to you. Realize that God is committed to acting on your behalf in every situation, and will only do what is good for you. Knowing Him helps you to have the assurance to face every situation.

2. You develop confidence by meditating on the Word of God.

An excellent way to build your confidence is to look at the way God has worked in the lives of others throughout Scripture. You know that if God has worked powerfully in other’s lives, then He can do so in your life, too.  God can build great confidence in you through His Word. Therefore when you read the Bible ask God to speak to your heart.

3. You develop confidence by drawing near to God in your prayers.

You can’t develop confidence by praying on the run; rather, you must spend time listening to Him. So often, you’ll encounter difficulties that make you think, “God humanly speaking, there is no way this could ever come out alright.” These are the times when it’s imperative to get on your face before God and tell Him how hopeless you feel about the situation. Confess that if He doesn’t intervene, you won’t be able to survive it.  Then having laid your genuine heartfelt feelings before Him, you focus on how God has promised to never forsake you. Recall what you know about Him and confess your faith in Him. God has never failed you and He will never change. By the time you get up off your knees, you’ll have an awesome sense of confidence, because you’ll be able to see your situation from His perspective.

4. You develop confidence by keeping your focus fixed upon God.

There isn’t anything that can shake the confidence that is based completely on God.  After being criticized, beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned, and left for dead, Paul confessed, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). Paul knew Christ personally, and he knew that if Jesus Christ could defeat sin and death—rising from the –there was nothing he could face that Christ couldn’t overcome. And the good news is that you van know Christ as deeply and as personally as Paul did.

Every one of us has the privilege of waking up every morning saying, “Thank you Father for dwelling in me, for Your unconditional love, and faithfully keeping Your promises. Thank You for providing what is good for me. I know that with You, I can overcome any obstacle! I can face this day victoriously—no matter what—because You are with me.” However, you have to believe that He is who He says He is and that He will do as He says He will do.  If you’re willing to make that choice, you can walk confidently no matter what.

And like Peter and John, when people see your boldness, they’ll marvel and realize that to only explanation is that you’ve been with Jesus.

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Priority To The Relationship…

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Acts 13:16-22 (KJV)

16 Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.
17 The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it.
18 And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness.
19 And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot.
20 And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.
21 And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years.
22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.

King David made several big mistakes in his life.

Yet he was called a man after God’s own heart and was mightily used by the Lord to lead the Israelites. What set him apart was the priority he placed on his relationship with the heavenly Father.

David delighted in knowing God and sought Him earnestly.

Writing, “My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You in a dry and weary land,” he declared that God’s love was better than life and pledged to praise Him all his days (Ps. 63:1, 3-4).

David viewed the world from a God-centered perspective.

He marveled at the Lord’s creative power in the world, relied on Him for protection and strength, and proclaimed allegiance in his writings. He also prayed fervently and frequently, lifting requests in the morning and expectantly awaiting a response (Ps. 5:3). At night he’d continue communing with God (Ps. 63:6).

Both actions–praying and meditating on God’s character–fueled his trust in the Lord. His faith sustained him throughout life: when he was a shepherd boy protecting sheep from attacks by wild animals, a young man defeating the giant Goliath, and the nation’s anointed leader escaping King Saul’s murderous plans.

Whatever his circumstances, he sought the Lord and gave priority to their relationship.

The Psalms record David’s desire to know God and be known by Him. He sought the Lord’s guidance through prayer and had a heart for Him. Jesus invites us to draw near and spend our time learning from Him (Matt. 11:28-29).

Have you made following Christ the priority of your life?

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Living In “The Freedom”…

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John 8: 31-32 (KJV)

31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Jesus had quite an audience that day.

The crowds had just witnessed an intense seen when the scribes and Pharisees bought to Jesus a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery (see John 8:11).

Then they saw Jesus’ liberating love in action as He looked at her and said “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” This woman walked away forgiven, free, and saved from certain doom.

A little later, Jesus proclaimed, “If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31, 32).

Consider these versus the believer’s emancipation proclamation.

In verses 34-36, Jesus explains more of what He means: “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave to sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

On the surface, this sounds very simple, and in a foundational sense, it is. But it’s one thing to believe that Jesus can set you free from patterns of sin. It’s quite another to experience that freedom in your own life.

Most of us have difficulty in the action stage of belief; the vital link between knowing by intellect and knowing by experience (see James 2:14-26).

You are saved by faith alone in Jesus Christ, but that does not mean that you leap immediately into a full understanding of your faith.

Your personal response to Jesus’ commands determines whether you will be able to live in the joys of that salvation, with the freedom and exhilaration of learning to say no to daily sins. A man in prison can receive a signed pardon and the warden can unlock the jail door, but the man has to put one foot in front of the other and walk outside those prison walls.

What can you do to begin living in the freedom Christ purchased for you on the cross?

There is no formula for discovering the richness of his truth. But by obeying Christ, you’ll be on the road to the fresh, liberated life He designed for you. Always when you obey God, you can count on watching Him reveal exciting new things. Remember, the key to crossing the bridge between belief and experience is obedience.

You must take steps of faith and do what He says.

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You’re Always Welcome Back…

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2 Peter 3:17-18 (KJV)

17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.
18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

No matter how far away from God you have drifted, you’re always welcome back.

That’s the lesson from Jesus’ parable about the prodigal son–the foolish boy who followed a pleasure-filled path to ruin before returning to his father and finding redemption (Luke 15:11-32). Perhaps ruin has not yet come to you, but you know that your heart has grown cool to the things of God.

Whatever your drifting story, make this the day that you point yourself back to the Lord.

As with any sin, the first motion toward getting back on course is to acknowledge that you have slipped away from the Lord. Then you confess and repent, which is like turning your boat in the opposite direction and paddling toward God with all your strength. If you’re wondering exactly how to do that, I suggest a strategy I use every morning. Before I step out of bed, I give myself to God by acknowledging, I surrender my entire life to You for this day. When something comes up that runs counter to His plan and I consider pursuing it, the Holy Spirit reminds me that I am not my own. Only God’s way will do for me.

Every day we choose whether to row or drift. As for me, I choose to vigorously pursue God.

Peter gives a warning to be on guard against attitudes and ideologies that would carry you away from truth (2 Peter 3:17). Instead, choose to paddle your lifeboat toward the Lord by meditating on Scripture, praying, and living obediently.

Practicing the spiritual disciplines keeps a heart warm toward God.

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Situations That Blind You To The Good…

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Ecclesiastes 3 1-14(KJV)

1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;s
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;s
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
s7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?
10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.
13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.
14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

Think about the promise of Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”

This signifies that there will be unavoidable things in your life that appear to be ugly, unwanted, and uncomfortable. No doubt, there are issues that immediately spring to mind—there’s nothing good about them as far as you can see.

Perhaps that’s because there is just too many overwhelming unknowns about your situation that blind you to the good God is doing. Or maybe you’re simply so bogged down and disheartened by your load that you can’t imagine it ever getting any better. Don’t be surprised that there are supposed to be seasons like that in your life (see Pet. 4:12-13).

Why does God burden us with such times?

The second part of Ecclesiastes 3:11 teaches, “He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. “Verse 14 adds, “Whatever God does, it shall be forever.”

Though you may never know everything God is doing in your life, you can always count on the fact that God is preparing your heart for eternity.

Second Corinthians 4:17 says, “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceedingly and external weight of glory.” Your seasons of trials—however long and heavy they may seem—are brief and light compared to the great things God is doing in you (see Rom. 8:18-21, 28).

As you’ve been promised in Ecclesiastes 3:11, this difficult situation will eventually be beautiful in your sight. Is that hard for you to envision? It’s okay—because God’s wonderful plans for you are by definition beyond imagination (see Eph. 3:20, 21). So until you see God’s lovely workmanship taking shape in your circumstances, just hold on to His promise.

Eventually this season will be over, and you’ll find that it was all worth it.

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Prone To Doubt …

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James 1:5-8 (KJV)

5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

 If we believe that God is who He says He is and will do what He has promised, why do so many of us habitually waver in our prayers?

Instead of exercising bold faith, we come to the Lord “hoping” He will hear us and answer our requests, but we’re just not sure He will. With this kind of thinking, we cannot expect to receive anything from Him.

One reason we are so prone to doubt is that we fail to see God at work in our circumstances.

We asked, and nothing happened. But the Lord is not some cosmic bellhop who jumps in response to our requests. He sees past, present, and future and knows the right time for every answer. His invisible hand is already at work on our behalf—arranging situations to accomplish His will, opening hearts, and preparing us to receive what He wants to give.

Another cause for uncertainty is ignorance.

If we don’t know God’s ways, we will be disappointed in His response. All too often our prayers are accompanied by expectations of how He will work. When He fails to intervene according to our timetable or anticipated method, we start to doubt. But placing our faith in the Lord and trusting in His good and perfect ways gives us stability as we wait for His answer.

To overcome doubts, spend time in the Word to learn God’s principles and ways.

Then you’ll begin to grasp what He wants to achieve in your life and how He goes about it.

Examine your past from a biblical perspective—faith will grow as you see the unexpected ways He answered your prayers.

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