Everything Good and Right…

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Revelation 4:9-11 (KJV)

9 And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,
10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Throughout Scripture, we find references to “crowns.”

Let’s take a look at these eternal rewards for a victorious Christian life and a strong relationship with Jesus Christ.

The Crown of Victory.

To finish life well, believers need Olympic endurance. Athletes in those ancient games received a perishable circlet of laurel leaves. But when we are effective in our God-given ministry and triumph over sin, we’ll be given an imperishable crown (1 Cor. 9:25-27).

The Crown of Exultation.

The believers that we had a hand in bringing to Christ will be “our glory and joy” before the Lord (1 Thess. 2:18-20). Just imagine how you will rejoice in heaven upon seeing and talking with the people who recognize your contribution to their spiritual development.

The Crown of Righteousness.

The Christian life is not easy, but there is great reward for living righteously when facing temptation or hardship. Believers who pursue godliness are always thinking about the life to come and striving to meet God with a pure conscience (2 Tim. 4:5-8).

The Crown of Life.

Heartache and pain are unavoidable in this life, but we can take heart because much spiritual growth happens in adversity. Hang in there to receive the crown of life that the Lord promised to those who love Him (James 1:12).

In heaven, what will we do with the crowns we have earned? We will cast them before Jesus’ feet (Rev. 4:10), laying them down as a tribute to the One who saved us, gifted us, equipped us, and lived in us.

Everything good and right came to us through the Lord, so He deserves our crowns.

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The Riches of His Grace…

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Ephesians 1:1-14 (KJV)

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Do you think of yourself as rich?

No matter how much money you have, if you’re a believer in Jesus, you’re extremely wealthy because God has lavished the riches of His grace upon you.

At the moment of salvation, He deposited into your account “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (v. 3). Why, then, do so many believers live in spiritual poverty?

1. Ignorance.

Some Christians don’t know about this unlimited spiritual “bank account,” and, therefore, they never draw upon it.

2. Confusion.

Too many believers just don’t know how to access the treasures of God’s grace. As a result, they worry and complain about their needs and problems or in desperation come to the Lord begging and pleading for help, never realizing His abundant supply has already been deposited into their account.

3. Competing Interests.

Distraction by things of this world may be the most common reason. Christians in this category focus on possessions, pressing responsibilities, and advancement but lack interest in God’s spiritual blessings.

The riches of God’s grace supersede any earthly wealth.

They give the peace and contentment that money can never buy, and their benefits reach all the way into eternity.

The only way to access God’s spiritual riches is by faith.

We don’t have to beg or persuade the Lord to give what He has already made available to us.

Instead, we simply choose to believe that we are who He says we are and can do what He has called us to accomplish.

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The Wrong Choice That Impacted All of Humanity…

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John 3:2-3 (KJV)

2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Adam and Eve’s wrong choice impacted all of humanity.

As a result of their disobedience, every person since that time has been born into sin.

Because our hearts are sinful (Jer. 17:9), we’re not fit to be in God’s holy presence. But He nevertheless desires a relationship with us. For this reason, Jesus–who did no wrong–bore our iniquities and suffered the death penalty we deserved. Then He rose from the grave, proving that everything He’d promised would surely come to pass. In this way, He provided His followers with access to the Father.

Salvation is a free gift to anyone who places trust in Jesus and personally receives His sacrifice as the atonement for sin.

Several changes occur in us when we receive this amazing gift. First, we are made new (2 Cor. 5:17). Though fleshly patterns of behavior will linger, salvation results in forgiveness, a purified heart, and adoption as God’s own children. Second, we become a part of the body of Christ. In other words, we belong to the precious family of past, present, and future believers. Third, we belong to the kingdom of heaven, which means that even though we continue to live on earth in nations run by human leaders, we operate under the authority of Jesus Christ.

What amazing grace is available through God’s Son!

Christ died to take our punishment and give us access to our heavenly Father. Then He makes us new, gives us a family of believers, and invites us to participate in His kingdom work.

Bask in His love, as it gives us worth and purpose.

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The Tragedy of a Wasted Life…

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Luke 12:15-21 (KJV)

15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
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?
21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

Death is inevitable, but at times it surprises us.

Perhaps you know someone who died unexpectedly.

Today’s parable is a warning about such situations. It tells of a man who acquired comfort and wealth but thought only of his time on earth. Death came without warning, and he could take nothing with him.

God called him a fool for living focused on “self.”

Though rich in the world’s eyes, the man had no relationship with God and hadn’t invested anything in Christ’s kingdom. All the treasures he stored here were worthless once he died. What’s worse, without Jesus, he would be separated from God forever.

What a tragic waste of life.

As I think about this person’s choices, two questions come to mind that are important for all of us to contemplate. First, if you were to die today, would you go to heaven? Salvation is a free gift for those who trust in Jesus as the acceptable sacrifice for our sin. He is the only way–no excuses or even sincere beliefs in other “ways” will work. And Jesus promises that when believers die, they immediately find themselves in His presence (2 Cor. 5:6).

Second, what is your life accomplishing? Are you driven by selfish purposes, storing security and wealth for yourself? Or is your motivation to further God’s kingdom?

Like the man in this parable, we don’t know when we will die. We do know, however, that death is inescapable. Though dying is an unpleasant topic, eternity is a long time and worthy of our attention.

It’s definitely a wise investment to make sure of your salvation and to invest in God’s kingdom.

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The Promise of Eternity…

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Isaiah 7:14 (KJV)

14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Since creation, God was orchestrating world affairs to set the stage for the arrival of His son.

In the meantime, He used prophecy to keep alive people’s hope for a fresh beginning and a new relationship with Him.

So many Messianic predictions are recorded in the Old Testament that the likelihood of one man fulfilling them all was slim. However Jesus Christ’s birth, life and death happened exactly as the prophets foretold.  Isaiah proclaimed, “Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Is. 7:14).

“Immanuel “means “God with us” and functions more as a title than a proper name.

The angel told Mary to call her Son “Jesus,” which means “God saves”. So Jesus is the God among us who saves (see Matt. 1:21, 23).

Micah told the Jewish people their people their leader would come from the tiny town of Bethlehem (see Mic. 5:2). The timing of Messiah’s arrival was revealed to Daniel, who recorded the time line in his writings. (Note: The word “week” in Daniel 7:25, 26 actually has the meaning of “seven years” –just as in Genesis 29:27.)

God Himself gave a direct prophecy in Genesis 3:15, when He told Satan, “I will put enmity between… your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel. “ It was an indication r=that Christ would defeat him.

A careful comparison of Jesus’s life with the prophecies of Scripture leads to the only one conclusion: Jesus is the promised Messiah, who brings every willing person into a new covenant relationship with the Father.

The hope of a coming Messiah sustained the Israelites through centuries of chaos and captivity.

The messianic hope is still available in our day through the One who came, died, and rose again for us.

Those of us who have received Jesus Christ as Savior have an unbreakable covenant relationship with God –and the promise of eternity with Him.

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Accountable to One Another…

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James 5:13-16 (KJV)

13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

There are plenty of biblical directives about making ourselves accountable to one another.

But for many, the idea of revealing personal information seems restrictive or even an invasion of privacy. Such confession seems a hindrance to the pursuit of pleasure, prosperity, and prestige. Most people prefer to keep to themselves and not involve others in their business.

The Bible, however, makes it clear that Christians are to support each other in this regard: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).

Accountability in the body of Christ is a biblical principle.

Church members take direction from their pastor (Heb. 13:17). Paul tells us to be subject one to another (Eph. 5:21). Yet he was answerable to the church (Acts 14:27), just as Timothy was subordinate to him (1 Tim. 4:13-16). The apostles were certainly under the authority of Jesus (Luke 10), even as Jesus was subject to the Father (John 8:28-29). Of course, the Bible tells us that the whole church is obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:24). Regardless of one’s position, everybody is accountable to somebody. And this holds true for the entire family of faith–from the congregation to the ministers to Jesus Himself, who served God the Father.

People avoid accountability for various reasons, including pride, ignorance, fear, and self-reliance. This is a dangerous approach to life. Our Enemy knows our weaknesses and how to exploit them. But we can prevail with the support of friends.

There is strength in the body of Christ.

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Trust and Obey…

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Joshua 6:1-5 (KJV)

1 Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.
2 And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.
3 And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.
4 And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.
5 And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.

One of my favorite songs is “Trust and Obey” because it sums up God’s purpose for our lives.

When we practice these two commands, a beautiful cycle begins. Trusting the Lord makes obedience easier, and obedience produces ever-increasing trust. Can you recall facing a challenge that was difficult or perplexing? If so, you know how important these two commands are.

When the Lord calls you to a task that seems unreasonable, you have two options.

You can obey Him even though you don’t understand what will happen, or you can become fearful and attempt to find a way out. Joshua chose the first option. Because he trusted the Lord, he disregarded all his military experience and adopted God’s bizarre battle plan. Over the years, he had learned that the Lord is trustworthy.

The way we respond to God’s challenging assignments reveals our level of commitment.

We may feel as if we’re right in step with Him–until He proposes a change of direction. That’s when our resistance kicks in, and with it, the realization we aren’t as close to Him as we thought. At that point, our decision determines whether the Lord will be able to use us as He desires. Because Joshua never lost his commitment, he continued to serve the Lord for the remainder of his life.

At times obedience is a struggle, as your mind runs through all the reasons God’s path is illogical.

Fear dominates and your will battles to comply when everything within is screaming to run the other way.

But obedience is always the best choice, because the Lord is trustworthy and wise.

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Being Willing To Wait…

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Psalm 62: 5-8 (KJV)

5 My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.6 He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.
7 In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.
8 Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.

Perhaps the greatest key to spiritual growth is spending time alone with the Lord.

This means taking the time to speak with God about whatever is on your heart—and even more importantly, allowing Him to speak to you.

In Psalms 62:5 King David wrote, “My soul, wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from Him”.

Perhaps that is why David was known as a man after God’s own heart. To win that kind of reputation, David first had to know the mind and heart of God so that he might be able and do what the Lord desired of him.

David sought to know God.

He frequently “inquired “of the Lord. He spent time in the Lord’s presence, singing for the Lord from the depths of his heart. In 2 Samuel 7:18 we read, “King David went in and sat before the Lord; and he said, “Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have bought me this far?”

What did it mean for David to sit before the Lord?

It means that he spent time alone in the presence of the Lord, communicating with the Lord from the deepest part of his soul, asking questions of God, and listening quietly for the Lord’s answers.

Jesus frequently sought time apart with His heavenly Father. Time with the Father provided Him with a source of comfort and strength.  Jesus also sought time alone with His disciples so He might teach them and they might find spiritual refreshment (see Luke 9:10).

We are wise if we choose to spend time alone with God, in a place without distraction or interruption, for a period sufficient for us to relax completely and focus our attention fully upon the Lord and His Word.

We must be willing to wait in the Lord’s presence until we receive God’s or His words of comfort.

Why don’t many of us desire to spend time alone with God?

The foremost reason is that we don’t feel sure of our relationship with the Lord. Our heavenly father loves us unconditionally and deals with us tenderly and patiently.

The more we learn what He’s really like, the more we see Him as Jesus saw Him, the more we will long to spend time alone with Him—and the more we will know the fullness of His grace.

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