A Matter of Simple Trust…

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Jeremiah 2:13 (KJV)

13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

For us as believers, contentment should be governed by inner attitude and the decisions we make rather than by external circumstances.

Because Paul had learned this secret, he was able to experience joy and peace in any kind of situation–whether he was surrounded by friends or isolated in a Roman prison; whether he had plenty or was in great need.

The apostle understood what it meant to live in Christ and to have Christ living in him (John 15:1-9; Gal. 5:22-23).

He had made a simple but profound faith decision to draw his life from the Lord and, as a result, had the calm assurance that what he possessed inside could never be stolen. He was confident in his identity as a child of the Almighty, with full access to the abundant life Jesus offers.

I want to challenge you–this week, when something threatens to steal your contentment, choose to draw from God; decide to stop drawing from other sources and trying to be in control.

When you find yourself becoming flustered, anxious, or angry, stop and say, “Lord, You are my source, and I draw from You the capacity to be kind. I draw from You the forgiveness I need to extend right now. I draw from You the love I need to express.”

This decision is a matter of simple trust.

Watch and see how God will quiet your spirit and provide confidence when you draw only from Him as your source.

You’ll be surprised at your own attitude: when you respond from within–rather than from the flesh–Jesus will give you the ability to respond as He would.

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Assurances We Can Depend On…

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 Ephesians 2:4-10 (KJV)

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

On the basis of God’s character, what assurances can we depend upon every single day.

God will extend His loving kindness to us. 

Sending His Son to die in our place proves the Father’s love for us, and His unchanging nature confirms that He will love us forever (Ps. 100:5; (1 John 4:10).

The Lord will help us do what He requires of us. 

He provides not only the spiritual wisdom to carry out our tasks but also the inner strength to complete them. We will receive from Him everything that we need. (Heb. 13:21).

God will limit the temptations and pressures He allows in our life.

Like a master craftsman, He knows what force can be applied to shape us into Jesus’ image without breaking us (2 Cor. 4:8).

God will strengthen and protect us so we do not have to compromise or yield. 

Though we are weak, He understands how strong we can be when His divine power is working in us. And the Holy Spirit gives us the spiritual strength to say no to temptation (1 Cor. 10:13).

Our Father will forgive our sins. 

He stands ready to receive our confession, forgive us, and bring us back into fellowship with Him—every time (1 John 1:9).

In addition to these blessings for our days on earth, we also have assurances about the future.

We can trust that life does not end when our earthly body dies (2 Cor. 5:8), that we will live in heaven forever, and that Jesus Christ will return someday to set all things right.

Life certainly has trials (John 16:33).

But when challenges press in, think about all the reasons we can depend upon God.

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Your Inner Voice…

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Acts 24:10-16 (KJV)

10 Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself:
11 Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship.
12 And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city:
13 Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me.
14 But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:
15 And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.

When facing hard decisions, do you pay attention to your conscience?

Is trusting this inner voice always wise?

God gave everyone an internal “moral compass.” In fact, reflecting His truth within all men is one way that He reveals Himself to mankind.

The conscience is a divine alarm system that warns us of oncoming danger or consequences.

Its main purpose is protection and guidance.

But sin warps perception and can lead us astray. So it’s important to understand the difference between following your heart and allowing a clear conscience to help with decisions.

To make a determination, ask, What is the greatest influence on my morality?

If the world’s system of what is acceptable has infiltrated your heart, then your conscience cannot be trusted.

But if you have allowed God’s Word to permeate and transform your thinking (Rom. 12:2), that inner voice is likely dependable.

The Holy Spirit, along with a divinely informed conscience, guides believers. In order to maintain a healthy internal compass, we should continually meditate on Scripture. The Ten Commandments are a solid basis for morality, and we are wise to internalize them—especially the way that Jesus summarized them: to love God above all else and to love others (Matt. 22:36-40).

What would you say has the greatest impact on your belief system?

Is it the truth of Scripture? Or do the world’s standards of right and wrong infect your heart?

Almighty God knows what is best for you, His child—and He gave you a conscience to aid in making wise decisions.

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The Obstacles That Start With “I”…

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 Luke 14:7-11 (KJV)

7 And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them,
8 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him;
9 And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.
10 But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.
11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

The Lord promises to exalt believers who live humbly, but we often look at our circumstances—job situation, finances, or lack of material things—and question whether He’s coming through on this pledge.

However, it’s important to view things from His perspective rather than the world’s.

While God may choose to give us material blessings, such benefits are hardly comparable to the greater rewards He longs to bestow, like a deeper understanding of who He is, or prayers answered beyond all imagination.

Certain attitudes prevent our receiving the Father’s intended blessings:

  • Impatience.
    We want it now and are unwilling to trust that God is in control.
  • Insecurity.
    We feel that if certain things don’t happen, we simply cannot continue.
  • Identity in the wrong things.
    We feel good about ourselves only if we are a success by societal standards.
  • Ignorance of the Word.
    We decide for ourselves what is right.
  • Impure motives.
    Discontent or jealousy causes us to push ahead of God and use manipulation to get our way.
  • Impulsiveness.
    Without asking God, we assume every seeming opportunity is a door He has opened.
  • Ingratitude.
     Lack of thankfulness for what He’s given skews our perspective.

Notice these obstacles all start with “I”!

Humility doesn’t come naturally. It requires deliberate, ongoing effort to remain in God’s presence so we can see how worthy He is of our total submission. Begin by “bowing” your heart before the Lord and surrendering everything.

Then wait patiently for His promised blessing.

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One of The Wisest, Most Important Decisions…

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Psalms 25:3-5 (KJV)

3 Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.
4 Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths.
5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.

Waiting for God’s timing is neither passive nor idle–it takes discipline and commitment.

I can think of four basic requirements for successful waiting.

Faith. 

The Lord’s ways and timing are nothing like ours (Isa. 55:8-9). From a human standpoint, He usually does things in a totally different way than we expect. But as we trust Him more, we’ll discover that His approach isn’t so strange after all. And when we live in harmony with God’s will, His timing starts to make sense.

Humility. 

To wait for the Lord, you must be convinced of your need for Him. Submission to His divine will requires humility–you cannot charge ahead with your own plans and at the same time be fully surrendered to God.

Patience.

Are you willing to remain in your current position until you receive clear divine direction? Pausing for clarity from God does not mean that you disengage and allow circumstances to fall apart around you. Waiting upon the Lord is a deliberate decision that requires patience.

Courage.

Waiting for God often takes courage, especially when there is pressure to act. If you’re not careful, you might stop listening to the Lord and follow other advice. So keep your ear attuned to the voice of Almighty God, and you won’t go wrong.

Waiting upon the Lord is one of the wisest, most important decisions we make in life.

And contrary to popular assumptions, it is an active endeavor that requires faith, humility, patience, and courage.

When you rely upon God and wait for His timing, the various facets of life fall into place.

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Money, The Neutral Commodity…

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1 Timothy 6:6-19 (KJV)

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
13 I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;
14 That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:
15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.
17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;
19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

Money is a neutral commodity—it is inherently neither good nor evil.

However, a strong yearning for wealth can cause great danger for our souls.

God created mankind to love Him, but ever since the temptation in the Garden of Eden, people have given their heart to lesser desires.

Love of money not only robs God of His rightful place in our affections; it also steals contentment, leads to various temptations, and can cause us to wander from our Creator.

The amount of money we possess is not the source of the problem.

The root originates in the desires of the heart. We never seem to think we have enough, no matter what our financial situation is.

The lure of wealth promises pleasures and security, but if we devote ourselves to the pursuit of affluence, we will find that it does not satisfy.

Even worse, it will ultimately lead to ruin and grief.

Mark 4:19 speaks of the “deceitfulness of riches.”

Think back to a time when you purchased something you really wanted. Remember the delight you had in that item when it was new? What about now-—do you still feel the same joy, or has the pleasure decreased?

The satisfaction of possession is fleeting and, therefore, requires the pursuit of more in an effort to regain the same feeling of gratification.

Lasting pleasure and security are found only in God.

He “richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17). But if we let His tangible benefits become our main desire, we’ll lose our contentment.

Seek the Lord through His Word and prayer—as you learn to delight in Him, you’ll discover enduring satisfaction for your soul.

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Who’s In The Tree?

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Luke 19:1-9  (KJV)

1 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.
2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchæus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.
3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.
4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.
5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchæus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.
6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.
7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.
8 And Zacchæus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.
9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, for so much as he also is a son of Abraham.

When Jesus left His home in heaven, He didn’t come to earth to be a superstar.

He came to serve. As His disciples, we’ve been left here on earth to follow His example and serve a lost and hurting world. The story of Zacchaeus shows us some Christ like qualities that we need to develop in order to serve as the Lord did.

Awareness: 

Although surrounded by a crowd, Jesus stopped and took notice of one particular man perched in a tree.

Zacchaeus was hated and rejected because he was a tax collector. Although he was rich, there was something missing in his life, and Christ recognized his need. There are people all around us “hanging in trees”–needy, empty, and searching for hope. But too often, we’re preoccupied with our activities and don’t even notice them.

Availability: 

Jesus was heading to Jerusalem to carry out the most important act in human history: our redemption.

Yet He stopped to have a meal with a spiritually needy man. What could be so important that it keeps you too busy to give others what they need most–your time?

Acceptance:

Although Zacchaeus was a notorious sinner, Jesus didn’t say, “Clean up your act, and then I’ll come to your house.”

We’re called, not to fix people but to share the transforming gospel of Christ.

How are you doing at serving those around you? Maybe it’s time to slow down and open your spiritual eyes to see all the needy people. God places opportunities all around us, but if we’re not attentive, we’ll miss them.

Sometimes you just have to look up to see who’s in the tree.

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Our Most Valuable Commodity…

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Ephesians 5:15-17 (KJV)

15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

Time is a most valuable commodity.

Since it’s irreversible and irreplaceable, we ought to give careful consideration to how we spend our days—and even our minutes.

Time is a gift from God.

That means we are not owners but stewards and will one day be held accountable for how we used what was entrusted to us. According to verse 15, there are only two possible ways to live: wisely or foolishly.

Let’s first consider what is involved in using our time wisely.

Those who realize that their days belong to God are careful how they live. Their goal is to understand the Lord’s will and align their schedules and activities with His purposes. As they seek guidance each day through intimate fellowship with Him in the Word and prayer, their spiritual eyes are opened to discern which opportunities are from the Father and which are not a part of His plans for them.

But those who are foolish do not give adequate thought to the way they live.

Some become unproductive and lazy, living for their own pleasures while missing out on God’s purpose for their lives. However, others may be very busy and extremely successful by worldly standards, but if their days are occupied with activities that aren’t God’s will for them, they’re wasting their time.

To make the most of your opportunities, begin each day with the Lord, submitting to His will and asking that He direct your activities.

After all, none of us want to get to heaven and discover that even though we’ve been busy spending our time, we have failed to invest it for eternity.

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