The Frailties of Human Intellect…

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 1 Corinthians 1:18-20 (KJV)

18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

Hebrews 11:1 describes faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Another way of saying that is “knowing that God will honor His Word.”

Reason can be the enemy of faith, because it attempts to “trump” trust in God by encouraging us to rely on human intellect.

This kind of logical thinking places confidence in man, but since we are not all-knowing or all-powerful, it leads to insecurity and worry.

All the while, God waits patiently for man to acknowledge his need of a Savior and then respond in faith.

Reason says, “I can do it.” Faith says, “With God, all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). Reason says, “Hurry and get yours before it’s gone.”

Faith responds, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). Reason wrings its hands and says,
“There has to be a better way!” Faith looks at Jesus and hears Him whisper, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

God’s Word states that the message of the cross  is foolishness to those who are perishing.

It makes no sense whatsoever to them because Satan has blinded their eyes to the truth. But to us who are being saved, the Gospel is the very power of God (1 Cor. 1:18).

In 1 Corinthians 1:19, God says, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.”
Those who are of the world may seem to have the upper hand now, but a time will come when they will wither like grass.
Only those belonging to Christ possess eternity.

We need to lovingly share this truth with others.

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The Valley of Failure…

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John 21:1-19 (KJV)

12 Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.
13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.
14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.
15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

We’ve all made tracks through the valley of failure.

What matters is how we respond: do we give up and live a defeated life, or do we believe God can restore us?

The story of Peter’s failure and sub-sequent restoration gives us tremendous encouragement.

Jesus knew that Peter would fall short, but He had specifically prayed for the disciple’s faith not to fail. The Lord also told him ahead of time that failure would not be the end of the story—Peter would stand up again and strengthen the others.

Notice an important distinction: Peter failed; he wasn’t a failure.

The Enemy wants us to view how we fall short as part of our identity rather than something that has resulted from our actions. But the truth is that we belong to God, and our shortcomings can actually prepare us to be used more greatly by Him. In His hand, such times in our lives are tools to push our walk forward in great leaps.

In order for the Lord to mold Peter into the leader of strength and humility he’d soon become, the disciple’s heart needed to undergo purification by being broken.

When we build walls around our heart to deny God access, we are resisting much-needed brokenness and healing. If we want to see the Lord use us, we must allow Him to get rid of the “chaff” that prevents us from reaching our maximum potential.

Amazingly, failure can be the catalyst that moves us to a whole new vision of what God is doing in our lives. He can utilize our missteps to bring into focus His plans and purposes for our life.

The result will be glory to Him and blessing to us.

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The Inevitable…

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 Revelation 21:1-6 (KJV)

1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

A wise person will prepare for the inevitable.

And the most inevitable thing in the world is our physical passing. We weren’t designed to live forever in our earthly bodies; we are eternal beings with eternal purposes.

With so sure an outcome, we would be wise to spend time on earth preparing for our eternal future.

Have you trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior? If so, then you can be confident that you will spend eternity with Him in heaven.

However, a common question for believers is, “But what will we do when we get there?” Despite common portrayals of the afterlife, we will not be sitting around on clouds and playing harps. An exciting future awaits believers.

We will praise God.

If you’ve ever been passionately in love with someone, you probably remember how hard it is to think about anything else. In a way, that’s how we will view God in heaven—as our ultimate source of love and companionship—only, our relationship with Him will far surpass any “feeling” of love we’ve ever experienced. Far more than simply a feeling, it will be the outgrowth of a completely perfect union with our heavenly Father.

We will shine for God.

In heaven, earthly limitations will be stripped away, allowing the glory of God within every believer to shine brilliantly (Matt. 13:43).

We will reign with God.

Do you understand how valuable you are to your Creator? Romans 8:16-17 tells us that we are not only God’s children but also co-heirs with Christ. This means we will take part in all that the Father has designated for His Son.

Heaven is a reality, and in John 14:6, Jesus explained that there is just one way to get there: through Him.

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Living Victorious…

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1 Corinthians 1:17-31 (KJV)

17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

From a worldly perspective, Christ’s death signaled His defeat.

After all, dying in agony on a cross hardly seems like the path to victory. But it was!

And He did it all for us.

Because Jesus triumphed over death, we can be victorious in life.

Just consider what He won for us by sacrificing Himself on the cross.

Our Eternal Salvation:

The cross was the means of our salvation. Without it, we’d have no hope of heaven. If Christ hadn’t died in our place, we’d have to stand before God and receive the just punishment for every sin we’ve ever committed.

Power over Sin:

Jesus not only paid the penalty for our sin; He also brought us present victory over it. When He was crucified, our old sinful nature died with Him (Rom. 6:6). The power of the “flesh” was broken, and Jesus now lives His triumphant life through us. That means we are no longer enslaved to sin and can choose obedience to God.

Defeat of Satan:

At the crucifixion, the list of decrees against us was nailed to the cross, and the Devil lost his power over our lives (Col. 2:13-15). None of his accusations can stick, because God holds nothing against us anymore. And now every time we yield to the Spirit within us, Satan is defeated once again.

Christ met all our needs on the cross.

By making us a part of His family, He gave us a sense of belonging. When He died in our place, He affirmed our value.

And by coming to live His life through each believer, He gives us the ability to live a victorious, obedient life.

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Relinquishing A Rebellious Habit…

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1 John 1:8-10 (KJV)

8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

By forsaking the broad worldly way, believers have chosen a narrow path (Matt. 7:13).

However, we’re not wandering blindly on it. The Holy Spirit is our guide. He directs our steps toward new opportunities and offers discernment so we can make wise decisions that keep us on course for God’s will.

It is the nature of this journey that we have to stop often and seek guidance.

God is pleased to respond to earnest requests for direction, as He wants to keep His followers in the center of His will. But I’ve discovered that many Christians wonder how to pursue divine guidance.

Seeking God’s direction involves a pattern that begins with cleansing—in other words, the first place to look is at ourselves.

Ask, “Father, do You see anything in my life that might interfere with my understanding what You are saying?” Sin shuts down the guidance process: it strangles the power flowing from the Holy Spirit and thereby clouds our judgment (1 Thess. 5:19). First John 1:9 tells us that God cleanses unrighteousness when we confess our sins.

The Bible also contains a clear warning for those who refuse to relinquish a rebellious habit or attitude—the Lord does not hear their cries (Ps. 66:18).

As He brings to mind problem areas, lay them before the cross.

Cleansing is actually woven into the entire process of gaining divine guidance. God brings sin to our attention as we’re equipped to deal with it.

So on the way to receiving His clear direction, we may revisit this “first” step often and in that way can experience a time of rich spiritual growth and renewal.

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The Path of Righteousness…

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 Galatians 5:13-16 (KJV)

13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Most people who choose to walk through the wide gate don’t stop to consider the pros and cons of taking the path leading to destruction.

Instead, they drift onto that roadway without thinking of the consequences.

The narrow gate is different—we must deliberately choose to pass through it and take the sparsely populated way to heaven.

Walking on the narrow road requires faith, discipline, and determination.

We must be reading the Bible daily and maintaining an active prayer connection to God. By surrendering our lives to Christ, we keep our hearts on a path of righteousness.

Truthfully, we all have desires—that is, fleshly appetites—that find the easier pathway more attractive. In other words, we are each tempted to sin.

As we choose to give in to temptation, our feet may remain on the narrow road, but our hearts return to the broad way. The more we choose to participate in sinful actions and attitudes, the deeper our heart becomes embedded in the worldly way.

We may try to tell ourselves that we are achieving freedom and that it is our right to do what we want. However, the truth is that we are grasping at false contentment while the “genuine article” awaits us if we simply return to obeying God.

And we are not the only ones injured by our rebellion.

Fellow travelers on the broad way are watching us. When we act just like them, they make a judgment: “Hypocrite!” In that way, we can easily lose our testimony.

The narrow way may be hard to follow, but God promises constant aid and great reward—salvation and joy now; heaven later.

Have you chosen the narrow gate?

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Rescuing Lost Humanity…

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Romans 5:6-11 (KJV)

6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

What do you think about when you see a depiction of Christ on the cross?

Most of us are overwhelmed by the physical and emotional suffering that He endured—the scourging, beating, thorns, nails, mocking, and shame. We are horrified at the cruelty of the Romans and the hard hearts of the Jewish rulers.

But during the crucifixion, far more was happening than the eye could see.

God was carrying out His plan to rescue mankind, providing everything we need for salvation:

1.    Redemption.

Jesus paid the full price of the debt we owed for transgression: death. His payment set us free from bondage to sin.

2.    Forgiveness.

God could now release us from the punishment we deserved.

3.    Propitiation.

Christ’s payment satisfied the Father by fulfilling His demand for justice while letting Him forgive us.

4.    Justification.

On the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice, the Lord now declares believers not guilty. Although we will still sin in this earthly life, our standing before God is one of righteousness. This is a legal declaration that can never be reversed.

5.    Reconciliation.

The sin barrier that separated us from the Father was removed by Christ’s death on our behalf. We’re now God’s children—we have open access to Him and fellowship with Him.

The crucifixion was the only way to rescue lost humanity.

If there had been any other way, the cross would have been a grotesque display of divine cruelty.

But because so much was at stake, it can truly be called the greatest act of love by both the Father and the Son.

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Found Only on The Narrow Path…

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Matthew 7:13-14 (KJV)

13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

On a wide six-lane freeway, it is easy to crowd lots of cars onto the road.

Entering the highway is pretty easy since  ramps feed into the right lane every few miles. Conversely, trying to stay on a narrow sheep path from the pasture to the barn forces you to walk slowly with one foot directly in front of the other. The sheep path is a picture of the narrow way—God’s way—while the wide, six-lane thoroughfare illustrates the broad way—that is, Satan’s road to destruction.

The broad way is as crowded as an expressway at rush hour.

The majority of people choose this road because they love what it has to offer: no restraints on anything they want to try. Whatever brings pleasure, power, or prosperity is welcomed and practiced.

God, the Bible, and church may be tolerated for a while but will eventually be supplanted in the heart of the traveler on the broad road. That’s to be expected, since everything is embraced here—all philosophies, all belief systems, all the passions of men and women, and all habits promoting the idea of free choice.

As wonderful as all that tolerance and license may sound, however, the broad road is also the way of disappointment.

No matter what the world promises, it will not ultimately satisfy, because the broad way is an illusion. The flesh may be appeased temporarily, but the human heart cannot find peace on that road. Nothing the world thinks up or creates can fill the place in our hearts that God made only for Himself.

True fulfillment through the Lord is found only on the narrow path. 

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