Our Areas of Weakness…

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Judges 16:1-24 (KJV)

20 And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him.
21 But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.
22 Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven.
23 Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand.
24 And when the people saw him, they praised their god: for they said, Our god hath delivered into our hands our enemy, and the destroyer of our country, which slew many of us.

The book of Judges tells of a man named Samson, who was so strong he could kill a lion with his bare hands (14:5-6).

He possessed physical strength unequalled by any human being. But this could not compensate for his inner weakness.

All of us have areas of weakness.

God wants these character flaws to show us how totally dependent we are upon Him. When we handle them properly, they drive us into a deeper, more intimate relationship with the Lord. But uncontrolled weakness wreaks havoc in a person’s life.

Samson’s Achilles’ heel was uncontrollable lust.

Although he was raised in a godly home and had a clear calling in life, he gave in to his desires and deliberately violated the truth he knew so well. Despite Nazirite laws forbidding involvement with foreign women, Samson pursued a harlot in Gaza (16:1). Later, he met a woman named Delilah, and even though her motives were blatantly treacherous, he gave himself over—heart, mind, and spirit—to sexual indulgence. He was in such bondage to the sin that he ultimately allowed it to dictate his actions, even at the cost of his life.

Before he died, Samson lost everything: his strength, eyesight, and honor.

The man who once led his country mightily became a slave to his enemies (vv. 18-25).

What is your weakness?

Is it lust, insecurity, fear, greed, gossip, or pride? Personality flaws can be a powerful motivation for good or ill, depending on our response.

A proclivity for sin can ruin your life—as it did Samson’s—or drive you to utter dependence on God. The outcome is up to you.

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A Living Hope….

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1 Peter 1:3-5 (KJV)

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

 Believers are born into a living hope.

However, people who are without Christ have no foundation for their expectations and desires. Many live with a false sense of security. They assume that what is important in this life is the physical and material.

But there is no safety in things (1 Tim. 6:9).

Those who pursue wealth and health rather than God find that their dreams either go unfulfilled or fail to satisfy.

Believers anchor their hope in the solid rock of Jesus Christ.

His words are always true and His promises always kept. I’ll sometimes hear a person project his or her unfulfilled desires on God and then argue that He came up short. But Christians who make a request and submit to God’s will always get an answer—yes, no, or wait.

The Lord does not disappoint those who seek His will.

Don’t misunderstand that statement. We might feel temporarily let down when something we hope for is not in God’s plan. But He doesn’t go back on the biblical promise to give His children the best (Isa. 48:17; 64:4). When one door closes, there is another about to open with something better behind it. Friends, the Lord cannot be outdone. We can’t even wish ourselves as much good as God has in store.

The best choice a Christian can make is to fix his or her hope on the Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome whatever fits His will for your life, and turn away from all that does not.

Circumstances may shift and change, but Jesus never does. He is a living hope who never disappoints.

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The Motivation Behind Our Actions…

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 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 (KJV)

10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
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.

Scripture is very clear about the fact that wonderful benefits await believers who obey and bring glory to God. 

In Psalm 19, David wrote that there is great reward in keeping the Lord’s precepts (v. 11). What’s more, the promise of heavenly gifts comes straight from Jesus’ mouth in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:12).

Reread today’s passage, and notice Paul’s assertion that he and Apollos would each receive rewards for their service to the Corinthians (v. 8).

God neither offers group prizes nor reserves treasure only for those “in ministry.” We are all ministers of the gospel, whose good works store up heavenly treasure. God sees our Spirit-led decisions and actions as worthy of reward. You may not feel particularly important or essential in this big world, but your every action and word matter to God. What He values is the believer yielding to the Holy Spirit’s direction.

The motivation behind our actions is important too–sometimes good works are done for the wrong reasons.

For example, Jesus revealed that the Pharisees were fasting, not to please God but to gain attention (Matt. 6:16). When a person seeks the applause of men, their adulation is his sole reward. While that may feel good for a while, flattery is not eternal.

I suspect we’ll all shed tears of regret over the righteous acts we neglected or the work we did for personal glory. We will realize how much more we could have done for the Lord. But then He will dry our tears and grant our eternal reward.

That will be an awesome moment.

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The Limitations of Small Faith…

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 Matthew 16:6-12 (KJV)

6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.
8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?
9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?
12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Jesus spent much time developing His disciples’ faith because He knew it would be essential for the tasks ahead of them.

For over three years, they attended a school of faith with Jesus as their instructor and the Scriptures as the textbook. Sometimes Christ used verbal instruction, but many of the lessons were taught through demonstrations. He healed the sick, cast out demons, fed thousands, and calmed the sea. Their training even included tests that revealed if they truly believed Jesus was the Messiah.

At times the disciples’ understanding was slow or faltering, but Christ never gave up on them.

He reproved them when they exhibited a lack of trust (Mark 4:40) but also commended signs of progress (Matt. 16:15-17). His objective was to firmly establish their faith so He could accomplish His work in and through them. After His ascension, He commanded His men to spread the gospel of salvation to the remotest parts of the earth. Without faith, they would have failed.

The Lord has the same goal for us—to increase our faith so we can do the work He’s planned for us.

If our faith is great, He will entrust us with challenges and achieve amazing things through us. But small faith limits God’s activity in a believer’s life. He uses us only to the degree that we trust Him.

Faith building is essential in a believer’s life, and God has two primary means of doing this. Scripture tells us what to believe about Him, and tests place us in difficult situations that stretch us to believe and rely on God instead of our own understanding.

Each time we believe Him, our faith grows.

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The Kingdom…

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Matthew 25:31-34 (KJV)

31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

Scripture refers to “the kingdom of God” frequently, but many people are unclear as to its meaning.

Let’s look at the past, present, and future reality of this concept.

The first thing we must realize is that the heavenly kingdom refers to everything under Christ’s control.

At the moment of salvation, we are transferred from the reign of darkness to the bright authority of Jesus. And we are eternally secure in Him.

As today’s verses explain, Jesus’ kingdom and reign have been planned since the foundation of the world. From the beginning, God has been preparing mankind for what is to come. One way was by using prophets to foretell how He would redeem humanity and sovereignly rule over heaven and earth.

Once Jesus came and gave His life, He established the “present” kingdom.

This isn’t a geographical locale; it’s a term describing the heart, where God’s Holy Spirit indwells believers to guide, counsel, and empower.

But there is also a future aspect of the kingdom, which we can anticipate with excitement.

You are probably familiar with the words “Thy kingdom come” from the Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:2 kjv). This speaks of the new heaven and new earth, where we will enjoy freedom from pain and sin. There, we will worship Jesus with gladness and joy for all eternity.

As God’s kingdom ambassadors, we who are His children have the responsibility and privilege of sharing the good news: Through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, all who trust in Him are forgiven of sin and assured of eternal life with God.

Whom can you tell about this amazing gift?

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Overcoming Life’s Ups and Downs

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Philippians 4:10-13 (KJV)

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Have you ever heard a testimony from someone who has been through a horrible tragedy?

We tend to pay very close attention to such accounts because the person involved has witnessed firsthand God’s faithfulness and power to restore a broken life.

Of all the witnesses to God’s grace in times of trouble, none is more compelling than the apostle Paul.

He was certainly no stranger to hardship. Throughout his ministry, he was chased, beaten, stoned, arrested, shipwrecked, and accused of heresy by both the Jewish leaders and the Roman government. This was certainly a stark contrast to his early life, in which he enjoyed the luxuries and opportunities that his Roman citizenship and Jewish education provided.

There were amazing ups and downs in Paul’s life.

As a result, he earned the right to make the proclamation found in Philippians 4:12: “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity.”

And what was the lesson the apostle came away with as a result of these experiences? He tells us in verse 12: “In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.”

Paul’s “secret” is really not a secret al all, for he reveals the source of his strength in the following verse: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

Faith in Jesus Christ and an increasing reliance on Him will make this limitless power source a reality in your life.

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Claiming The Promises…

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 Psalm 37:1-8 (KJV)

1 Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.
2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
4 Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
5 Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
7 Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.

The Lord promises to give us the desires of our hearts.

But many people take this passage out of context, forgetting that their own mindset plays a vital part in bringing it to fruition. As my mother once said, “Where your mind goes, your feet go, so be careful what you think about.”

What is your responsibility when it comes to claiming promises from God?

  1. Delight yourselves in the Lord (Ps. 37:4). Christians should rejoice in God and desire to walk in obedience. The Lord must have first place in your life before you can claim the promise in this verse.
  2. Commit your way to the Lord (v. 5). Allow God to change any aspect of your ambition that is not His will. Remember that when He doesn’t answer a prayer as you wished, it is for a reason.
  3. Trust in Him (v. 5). God is merciful, all-knowing, kind, and generous. You can trust Him with your hopes and dreams.
  4. Rest in Him (v. 7). Resting in the Lord means trusting Him to answer prayers inHis timing or transform your aspirations so they conform to His will.
  5. Wait upon the Lord patiently (v. 7). Jesus waited three decades before beginning His three-year ministry on earth. According to His example, waiting is one of the key principles of Christian living.

Do your desires align with God’s purpose and plan for your life?

He longs to give His followers abundant blessings and fullness of joy. So allow your dreams to be conformed to the Lord’s will, and follow His guidance faithfully.

Only when you surrender to Him will you experience God’s best for your life.

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Praying With Confidence…

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 1 John 5:14-15 (KJV)

14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

Since praying is such a common practice for believers, over time it’s easy to fall into habits that result in a lifeless and empty prayer life.

Instead of a dynamic conversation with thoughtful requests and active listening for God’s response, our prayers can seem more like grocery lists. Because communication with the Lord is such a vital part of the Christian life, we occasionally need to step back and examine how we’re doing.

Begin by asking yourself these questions:

How effective are my prayers? 

Is God answering my petitions, or does it seem as if they never go past the ceiling?

Who am I praying for? 

Are most of my requests for myself or others?

What am I asking the Lord to do? 

Have I looked in the Word to see what He wants, or am I trying to get Him to intervene according to my plans and desires?

When do I pray?

Is it only during emergencies or when I need something?

If you discovered any selfishness in your answers, you’re not alone.

Most of us struggle to enter God’s presence with our eyes focused on Him instead of our needs. But the only way we’ll be able to pray with impact is to fill our minds with Scripture so we can find out what the Lord wants to do.

Your prayer life can become effective and dynamic if you’ll approach the Lord with a clean heart (Ps. 66:18), align your requests with His will, and believe He will do what He says (Mark 11:24).

Then you’ll be able to pray with absolute confidence knowing that He will hear and answer your petitions.

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