A Life Of Consistency…

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 Jeremiah 29:11 (KJV)

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

The heavenly Father has a grand plan for the life of every person, and it can be summed up in the word sanctification.

If you have never been certain of the term’s meaning, you are not alone–many people are unclear about its definition. However, believers should understand it because the word defines them.

In its verb form–sanctify–the term means “to make holy” or “to separate.”

So when something is sanctified, it is separated from its former common usage and is dedicated for sacred purposes. The Old Testament mentions a number of things that the Lord sanctified: He made the seventh day holy, set aside the Levite tribe as priests, and even consecrated places like the Holy of Holies inside the tabernacle (Gen. 2:3; Num. 3).

The heavenly Father still sanctifies people today.

Before a person places his faith in the Savior, he is spiritually dead and, in fact, an enemy of God (Eph. 2:1-3; Rom. 5:10). But the moment someone chooses to trust in Jesus Christ, his sins are wiped away, and he is adopted into God’s family. That individual is set apart as a child of God, with a sacred purpose. This means believers are not here to chase after personal gain but to serve the Lord and bring Him honor and glory.

As members of God’s family who are called upon to reflect His glory, believers are referred to as “saints.”

We are given this moniker–which shares its root with sanctification–not because we live sinless lives, but because we live a life consistent with the One we represent.

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The Thirsty Soul…

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1 Peter 2:1-2 (KJV)

 1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,
2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

 Think about a time when you experienced unbearable thirst.

 You probably would have traded anything for a drink. When you finally got your wish, there was nothing that could have tasted better than that cold, refreshing glass of water.

Compare this physical need to spiritual thirst.

 Jesus referred to Himself as “living water” because He knew our deep need for fulfillment. And only He can truly satisfy.
Isn’t it interesting, then, that we live in a society where most people feel dissatisfied?
In Christ, we have everything necessary to be complete, content, and fulfilled. Yet our world deceptively tells us to seek after wealth, glory, and other empty dreams.
These seem to gratify for a short time, if at all. Yet we often do not recognize our actual needs.

 The Enemy continues to deceive by telling us that his poor substitutes will satisfy the hunger inside us.

 Our Father, on the other hand, is all we need. Let’s look at three passages from Scripture. Jesus called Himself “the bread of life” and “living water”–the sustenance our souls require to survive and thrive (John 6:34-35; 7:38). His Word is alive, able to teach, convict, and redirect us toward a godly path (Heb. 4:12). God’s truth, which is called spiritual milk, provides the nourishment our souls need (1 Peter 2:2).

All of us have emptiness within–a longing for something more.

What are you attempting to use to satisfy it? Our hearts are like a jigsaw puzzle. No matter how hard you try to force a wrong piece, it will never fit correctly.

Turn to Jesus, and His living water will satisfy your soul.

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Trading Our Weakness For Strength…

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John 9:13-15 (KJV)

13 They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind.
14 And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.
15 Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see.

Were they purposely adding insult to injury?

As he people gathered around the blind man, they proclaimed that it was due to sin that the man couldn’t see. This is often the plight of someone going through suffering. As much pain as the sufferer is in, people are eager to point out that he or she must have done something to deserve it.

Have you ever experienced this or are you facing it now?

When trials in your life are overwhelming, and people offer no comfort –only condemnation—it can almost be too much for the heart to handle.

Yet even as struggles and criticism compound in your life, the Lord offers hope in John 9:3 Jesus told the crowd. “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.”

Whatever your trial, you can eagerly expect that God is going to display His glory through you.

That is why Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak then I am strong.”

Paul knew that whatever the situation, God would prevail. This is true for you as well.

Life is hard, often unjustly so, and people are often critical. But God loves you and He’s your hope.

Count on Him to be your strength, and His glory will be shown through you.

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When He Says “No”…

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Isaiah 40:28-31 (KJV)

28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

God has God has a purpose and plan for your life, and His timing is perfect. Sometimes He answers our prayers with “yes” or “no.”

But at other times, He says “not now”–when that is the case, we can avail ourselves of the rich rewards that come when we wait.

One very practical blessing is that God strengthens us as we lean on Him during delays.

Isaiah 40:31 tells us that “those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength.” We are given the metaphor of an eagle with wind beneath his wings. It is interesting to note that the words “wind” and “spirit” come from the same Greek word–pneuma. The spirit of God lifts us up, and His energy and strength sustain us as we abide in Him.

When we are facing a difficult decision, the real key is learning to wait.

There is no verse of Scripture that tells us to take control and fight our own battles. God is the one who fights them on our behalf (2 Chron. 20:15). We are to be patient and trust in Him.

When David faced his greatest battles, he waited upon the Lord. God delivered him from destruction and set his feet on solid ground. (Ps. 40:1-3) He will do the same for you. When you abide in Him, He gives supernatural energy to accomplish the things He requires of you–His Spirit does for you what you cannot do for yourself.

In reading through the Scriptures, we see that every time one of God’s saints gains a victory, he or she is waiting and trusting in the Lord. You can likewise experience triumph in your life.

When you have the omnipotent Creator of the universe acting on your behalf, you can’t lose.

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His Definition Of Success…

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Proverbs 16:1-3 (KJV)

1 The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.s
2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits.
3 Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.

Is success a legitimate goal for believers?

Is this something God wants for His children?

The answers depend upon your definition of success. Many people define it as the achievement of wealth, prominence, or fame. If that’s what you’re seeking, then you are following the world’s definition, not the Lord’s.

In His eyes, true success begins internally–the first step is a relationship with Jesus, whereby you have trusted Him as Savior and are following Him obediently.

His goal for you is ongoing growth in Christ like character and spiritual maturity, but that’s not all. He also has some work for you to accomplish here on earth (Eph. 2:10). God planned these tasks specifically for you and designed them with your personality, talents, abilities, and spiritual gifts in mind.

You could think of them as your unique calling and responsibility in life, which no one else can fulfill.

Genuine success involves doing what the Lord has called you to do, not just occasionally but continually. It has to do with persistence rather than perfection.

When this is your definition of success, you can know that the Lord wants you to succeed–and is committed to helping you become the person He designed you to be and accomplish the goals He’s set for you.

The ultimate evaluation of our success will take place when we stand before God and give account of our lives (Rom. 14:12). Any self-centered earthly achievements will be left behind.

But if we’ve lived by His definition of success, our treasure will await us in heaven–along with the words “Well done!”

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A Move To Get Your Attention…

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Acts 9:1-9 (KJV)

1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.
9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

As any instructor will tell you, the first goal of a teacher is to get a student’s attention.

You can’t teach someone who isn’t paying attention.

Just so, the Lord sometimes uses adversity in our lives to cause us to pay attention to Him in a new way.

That’s what happened to Saul of Tarsus as he traveled to Damascus, where he intended to bring great prosecution to the Christians in that city. The scriptures tell us that Saul was “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 9:1). Saul’s murderous intent nearly consumed him.

But God got Saul’s attention in a way he never expected. He sent Paul crashing to the ground with a blazing light and instructed him to enter the city and there wait for instructions. When Paul opened his eyes, he found himself blind and had to ask others to lead him by the hand into the city.

Saul definitely received a wake-up call from the Lord that day. In one unforeseen moment, God gained Saul’s undivided attention, striking him with the adversity of blindness and no doubt humiliating him in front of his traveling companions as he groveled in the dust.

But God had Saul exactly where He wanted him.

Saul felt more than ready to listen when The Lord asked, “Why are you persecuting Me?” Up to that point, Saul had no idea he was persecuting The Lord; he thought he was doing The Lord a favor by ridding the world of Christians. A period of intense adversity resulted in a complete turnaround for Saul.

Within a matter of days, he was proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues (see Acts 9:20).

If it took temporary blindness and humility to get Saul’ attention, it was certainly worth it, for through Saul-known to us as Paul the apostle- the gospel expanded and churches grew across the Roman world.

Don’t delay in responding to The Lord when He makes a move to get your attention.

Respond quickly and humbly, and listen for what He has to say to you.

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The Fragile Cornerstones of Human Wisdom…

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Luke 6:46-49 (KJV)

46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

God has ways of shaking the world when He is at work.

He literally caused the ground to quake when Jesus died on the cross, and Hebrews 12:26 describes a time still future when the earth will undergo a similar display of His power and presence.

Likewise in our present day, He often lets the foundations of our world be shaken–whether political alliances, financial systems, or other forms of human security. Then we can see the flimsiness of the structures on which we’ve based our pride and hopes.

Individual lives are also often shaken when a family experiences crisis or a marriage begins to unravel. If we have built on the fragile cornerstones of human wisdom, pride, and conditional love, things may look good for a while, but a weak foundation causes collapse when storms hit.

While adversity affects everyone, we can have peace in knowing that God always has a greater purpose when He allows upheaval in our world.

Hard times can also shake believers out of apathy and self-focus, reminding us not to trust in ourselves or the temporary structures of this world. There is only one secure foundation: a genuine, deep relationship with Jesus Christ, which will carry you through any and all turmoil.

No matter what storms are raging all around, you’ll stand firm if you stand on His love.

It’s not enough for believers to simply enjoy the security of knowing that our “house” is built on a solid foundation. As God’s ambassadors on earth, we have a respon-sibility to extend His compassion to people whose lives are crumbling.

Be a living message of hope to those around you today.

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Divine Promises…

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Philippians 3:8-11 (KJV)

8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

The apostle Paul understood how to handle tough circumstances.

Even while he was confined in a prison cell, he kept his eyes on Christ and trusted firmly in the Savior. Therefore, despite being in chains, he was able to celebrate the Lord’s work in his life. In fact, the epistle he wrote from jail to the Philippians was filled with rejoicing (1:18; 2:18; 3:1).

Focusing on Christ is neither a natural reaction nor an easy one.

Our instinct is to dwell on the situation at hand, searching for solutions or stewing over the pain and difficulty. As a result, troubles look scary and overwhelm us with a sense of defeat.

However, fear and defeat cannot live long in a heart that trusts the Lord. I’m not saying you’ll forget what you’re going through, but you can choose to dwell on His provision and care instead. He is the Deliverer (2 Cor. 1:10). He is the Healer (Deut. 32:39). He is the Guide (Prov. 3:6).

The believer who lays claim to divine promises discovers that God pushes back negative emotions. In their place, hope, confidence, and contentment take up residence (Phil. 4:11). You aren’t going to be happy about a difficult situation, but you can be satisfied that God is in control and up to something good in the midst of trouble.

The Lord’s principles and promises don’t change, no matter how severe or painful the situation is.

Focus on Christ instead of the circumstances—God will comfort your heart and bring you safely through the trial.

Then you can answer Paul’s call to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4).

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