Landmines of Compromise….

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 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.
12 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.

Carefully camouflaged landmines are deadly weapons of war.

If a soldier unwittingly steps on one, he will suffer serious injury or death. What is true in physical battles is also true in the invisible realm. Deadly spiritual landmines are scattered in the path of every Christian. They cause major damage to unsuspecting believers who tread on them.

One such hidden danger is compromise. King Solomon is a tragic example of a man who was hurt by this spiritual landmine. God equipped him with surpassing wisdom to rule Israel and gave him the task of building His temple. Yet despite these blessings, his heart began to drift from the Lord. He followed his own desires and married many foreign women who led him into idolatry. His heart didn’t become divided suddenly.

It developed through a slow process of bad choices that violated God’s commands.

Too often we think that one small step away from God isn’t that bad–after all, we can always turn back. But Satan is just waiting for that one step. As soon as you take it, he wins. Now he has a toehold and will redouble his efforts to draw you farther along the path of disobedience. From that point on, each step becomes easier.

In short order, you are rationalizing that this really isn’t sin.

Compromise endangers in ways you may not realize. It breaks fellowship with God, and because you’ve ignored the Holy Spirit, your strength to resist temptation is weakened. Since unbelievers are quick to see hypocrisy in Christians, it also ruins your witness.

Refuse to take that first step.

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Distinguishing Good From Best…

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 Proverbs 2:1-11 (KJV)

1 My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;
2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
7 He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.
8 He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints.
9 Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path.
10 When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul;
11 Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:

If you made a list of the things you want most in life, would a discerning spirit be one of them?

The Lord places a high value on this attribute and wants all of us to have it. If we don’t, we’ll make wrong choices because we won’t understand situations clearly.

Discernment is the ability to make sound judgments by perceiving what is not readily obvious.

For example, can you tell the difference between legalism and liberty? God calls each of us to live according to our personal convictions, but not all of them are moral mandates for every believer. We should be able to determine the difference between the two.

Another area that requires discernment is distinguishing good from best.

God has the perfect plan for each of us; however, there are a multitude of good options before us. For instance, suppose you’re offered two different jobs. They both look promising, but only one of them is God’s best for you. Do you know how to determine His will?

It’s obvious from these two examples that our most basic need for discernment involves being able to understand what God is saying to us. When you’re faced with a decision, how do you know if you’re hearing from the Lord or simply listening to your own desires or reasoning?

The time to develop discernment is now.

Don’t wait until a critical decision comes. Begin today to fill your mind with God’s Word so you can think His thoughts and understand His ways. Spend time with Him in intimate fellowship.

The more you know Him, the better you can discern His voice.

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The Passion of Your Life…

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 Philippians 3:3-11 (KJV)

3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
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.

Most believers know the essential facts about their Savior’s life, but few know Him well relationally.

They’re so busy with activities and pursuits that they rarely think of Jesus until a desperate situation arises.

Yet those who know the Lord intimately have a continually deepening relationship with Him. He’s their top priority, and every possession, accomplishment, or pursuit is worthless compared to knowing Him. Consider the results of making Christ the passion of your life (Phil. 3:8-10):

Increasing hunger: “that I may gain Christ.”

Even though Paul had an amazing relationship with Jesus, his passion was so great that he wanted to know Him more.

Changed life: “the righteousness which comes from God.”

The more we know Christ, the more we’ll mature spiritually and display His righteousness.

Increased capability: “the power of His resurrection.”

The Spirit’s power flows through those intimately related to Jesus.

New perspective: “the fellowship of His sufferings.” 

When we understand Christ, we recognize the benefits He works in us through our suffering.

Victorious living: “being conformed to His death.”

Christians who know Jesus intimately count themselves dead to the sins that once dominated their lives.

Is your life characterized by a deep, abiding passion for Christ, or is your relationship with Him shallow and mechanical?

Believers must not let the pleasures, opportunities, and responsibilities of this world rob them of the treasure of knowing Jesus.

It’s time to count it all as loss and pursue Christ.

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Genuine Relationships…

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 1 Samuel 18:1-3 (KJV)

1 And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
2 And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father’s house.
3 Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.

All people long to be in genuine relationships. God created us with this need, as we were not meant to live in isolation.

Our world is so driven by technology that many people today try to ease their loneliness through computer relationships. However, this can never satisfy or compare to the human fellowship that the Creator designed.

But healthy friendships don’t just happen. They require intentional effort.

If we look at Jonathan and David for a biblical model of godly companions, we see how mutual respect is vital in a healthy friendship. Let’s look at two important aspects of their relationship. These two men had an emotional love for one another; their hearts were knit together (1 Sam. 18:1). When one man experienced joy or sadness, the other man felt it too.

They also had genuine devotion to each other, which is a type of commitment that involves giving: to show loyalty, Jonathan gave his friend material items–his robe and weapon.

But these two men also selflessly offered more: Jonathan even risked his life and future kingship in order to save David from execution. Notice, too, that Jonathan was often the initiator, and the one who gave more. He was a prince, whereas David was a lowly shepherd.

Social status shouldn’t interfere with cultivating a true friendship.

We were designed for true companionship based on mutual respect, genuine love, and commitment. This requires not only time and selfless devotion but also transparency–which means being real, even about our faults.

Taking such a risk requires trust. Such relationships are well worth the effort.

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Overwhelmed By The Perils That Entice Us…

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Psalm 78:52, 53 (KJV)

52But made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
53And he led them on safely, so that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.

The demoralized, slavery-worn Israelites needed the strong, gentle leadership of the Good Shepherd. So He not only cared for their needs and protected them from their enemies, but He gave them a visible reminder of His powerful presence with them.

Exodus 13:21 tells us, “The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night”.

Though God may not be leading you in the same way He did the Israelites, there’s an important principle here that can keep up from becoming discouraged. God is guiding you- showing you the way you should go- and as long as you maintain your focus on Him, you’ll have no reason to fear. Unfortunately, our human tendency is to take our eyes off God and become overwhelmed by the perils that entice us.

It is then that we forget the magnificent power of our almighty God.

Are you afraid of something today?

Is some situation gnawing away at you and causing you anxiety? Are you completely lost as to how to proceed?

Then, put your focus back on God.

His message to you is clear, “The Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed” (Deut. 31:8).

Your Good Shepherd has your every need in mind, and He is eternally capable of protecting you from every danger. Therefore, don’t take your eyes off Him.

Obey Him in every step of faith He commands you to take and don’t be afraid.

He will guide you through the wilderness, lead you in safety, and be your confidence in every situation.

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Ambassadors of Peace…

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Romans 15:4-13 (KJV)

4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:
6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.
8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:
9 And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.
10 And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.
11 And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.
12 And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.
13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Despite man’s best efforts, the world’s longing for peace remains unfulfilled.

Each new generation has high hopes for reconciliation among people and nations but in the end faces disappointment.

One day Christ will return and make everything right.

Until then, believers are called to be His ambassadors of peace. However, becoming a Christian does not automatically change us into people who pursue kindness and unity.

At times we’re quick-tempered and impatient and find it hard to live in harmony with others.

We may have trouble letting go of attitudes or habits that hurt those around us—and occasionally we don’t even want to. God knows our true character and has provided the Holy Spirit to transform us into Jesus’ likeness.

The Spirit opens our minds to understand and apply Scripture.

He gives us the power to say no to ungodliness and to replace me-centered thinking with a Christ-centered viewpoint. He patiently produces His fruit in us, which includes love, joy, and peace (Gal. 5:22-23). With His help, we can become peacemakers who work to bring about reconciliation between God and others (Matt. 5:9).

While our world keeps hoping for peace through man’s solutions, we know the only source of lasting unity is Jesus Christ.

The Lord wants our hearts to be ruled by His peace (Col. 3:15) and our relationships to be marked by a spirit of oneness.

How encouraged other people will be when they realize it’s the transforming power of God in our lives that brings about reconciliation in our marriages, families, and churches.

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Eyes On The Truth…

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Romans 8:31-34 (KJV)

31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Throughout life, there will be times when our sins and failures lead us to conclude that God is disappointed or angry with us.

How can He still love me after what I’ve done?
If I’m really forgiven, why do I still feel so guilty? 

At such times, we need to fix our eyes on the truth of Scripture and ask the questions Paul posed in Romans 8.

If God is for us, who is against us
(v. 31)? 
Our heavenly Father proved His loyalty to us when He delivered His own Son over to death in order to save us. Without Christ’s atoning death on our behalf, we would face eternal separation from God.

Who will bring a charge against God’s elect (v. 33)? No accusation against us can stand, since at the moment of salvation, the Lord justified us. This means we were legally declared righteous, while still in our sinning condition. No one can reverse this transaction and make us guilty again. To doubt our blameless standing in Christ is to declare His atonement insufficient to cover our sin.

Who is the one who condemns (v. 34)? Although Satan rails against us, Jesus’ death and resurrection are proof that we are right with God. Christ took our condemnation and gave us His righteousness in return. Now He sits at the Father’s right hand, interceding for us.

When doubts about the Lord’s love and faithfulness arise, focus on truth. If we judge His loyalty to us by our circumstances or feelings, we will never get an accurate view of God.

True security lies not in our good performance, but in our relationship with Christ, and no one can take that from us.

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A Trustworthy Conscience…

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1 Timothy 1:18-19 (KJV)

18 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;

19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:

“Let your conscience be your guide” is a well-known expression, but one that isn’t necessarily good advice.

That’s because your moral compass is only as reliable as the principles with which you program it.

If you store up proper biblical instruction and training, it will be dependable to safeguard you through life. But using false ideologies from popular culture to program your conscience will set you up for moral failure.

Our heavenly Father has given each person a conscience as a gift intended to be a tool of the Holy Spirit–our one true Guide. As such, it is designed to protect you from going astray.

You can trust it only when the following seven statements are true of you:

  1. Jesus Christ is your Savior and Lord.
  2. The Bible is the basis for your conduct.
  3. You have a strong desire to obey God.
  4. You make decisions prayerfully.
  5. Your conscience sounds the alarm when you consider a wrong direction in thought or action.
  6. You feel guilty when you disobey.
  7. You feel compelled to repent of your disobedience.

A trustworthy conscience reacts immediately to disobedience.

There is no making excuses and no waffling over whether or not something may have been wrong.

To develop a reliable conscience, read and apply Scripture so God’s principles will override any prior bad programming. Then, under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, it will sound protective alerts.

Don’t put faith in your conscience alone, but trust God to make it an effective tool for leading you.

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