Unconditional Promises…

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 2 Corinthians 1:20 (KJV)

20 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.

God’s promises declare His intention to graciously bestow blessings.

They fall into several categories, and understanding the difference will help us know how to claim the blessings our Father has in store for us.

Some biblical promises are general, but others are limited.

This means certain pledges involved a specific person, time, or purpose but may not apply to us.

For instance, Genesis18:10 assured Sarah a son. We cannot simply claim that promise, assuming God will do likewise for us. He certainly can use such a passage to impress upon your spirit His desire to bless you in that way. But we must guard against grabbing promises randomly, expecting them to be fulfilled no matter what.

Scripture contains many unconditional promises—assurances whose fulfillment requires nothing on our part.

For example, God has said He will bear our burdens daily (Ps. 68:19), He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5), and He will come again (John 14:3). We also find many conditional promises, which are guarantees with an “if . . . then” stipulation (Prov. 3:5-6; 1 John 1:9).

God delights in meeting His children’s needs and desires, and His promises are for their benefit.

But He also makes one promise to unbelievers: When a lost person requests forgiveness of sins and receives Jesus as Savior, that individual will be saved (John 3:16). Have you acted upon that promise? If not, don’t delay.

Once you accept Christ, there are many more promises waiting for you to claim.

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The Willing Ones…

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Acts 4:13 (KJV)

13Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

Anyone who studies God’s ways soon realizes they are quite different from man’s.

Worldly wisdom says that extraordinary people and abundant resources are needed for great tasks, yet the Lord often chooses the small and insignificant to achieve His purposes on earth.

For example, Christ selected a rather unimpressive group of men as disciples, yet after being filled with the Spirit, they “turned the world upside down.”

During His ministry on earth, Jesus fed thousands with a child’s meager lunch, and He viewed the widow’s two small coins as a greater offering than all the other generous donations (John 6:5-12; Luke 21:2-3).

God specializes in using people who aren’t naturally qualified to accomplish His tasks.

Moses was a verbally impaired 80-year-old shepherd who liberated a nation. After Gideon hid from the enemy, God made him a valiant warrior. David was the overlooked youngest son who killed a giant with a small stone and became Israel’s greatest king.

God isn’t looking for impressive people; He wants willing ones who will bow the knee in humble submission.

Being weak and ordinary doesn’t make you useless.

Rather, it positions you for a demonstration of divine power in your life. He takes insignificant ones and delights in making them great.

Have you ever considered that your lack of ability, talent, or skill is the ideal setting for a great display of Christ’s power and glory?

If you are willing to submit to His leading and venture into the scary yet rewarding territory of faith and obedience, He will do great things in and through you. 

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The Shadows of Our “long-ago”…

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 John 8:1-11 (KJV)

1 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.
2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

I’ve never met a person who didn’t have a past.

Never have I spoken with a man or a woman whose life didn’t include a “yesterday”, a “last week,” or a “last year.” And if someone has a past, you can be sure he or she has some mistakes scattered throughout it.

If every one of us has a past, then why do we so often feel isolated, alone, and ashamed of what was done “once upon a time”?

Why do we allow the shadows of our long-ago to darken our today?

The answer is a matter of perspective. When we look back at our lives, we usually see mistakes through the lens of guilt, remorse, or fear of judgment. The old axiom says that hindsight is 20/20—what we once accepted as permissible behavior may now shock us as we realize the gravity of those actions.

But how does our heavenly Father perceive us? Is He hampered or even influenced by the same dirty lenses through which we tend to look? No, He sees us with crystal clarity.

That means He sees us completely, but He is free of the guilt and remorse that tend to color our perceptions.

More than that, our loving Father looks upon us with the perfect grace and forgiveness that only He can offer. Though our mistakes may hurt Him, the Lord regards us in love. If you have faced your sin problem and accepted the forgiveness that is available in Jesus Christ, then you can be certain you are now living a life of second chances.

For the rest of your days on earth, you can have the joy of knowing that you are forgiven.

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Nature, Nations and Man…

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 Psalm 103:19-22 (KJV)

19 The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.
20 Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.
21 Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.
22 Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the Lord, O my soul.

Do you believe that the Lord has absolute control over our universe—including all the people in it?

The best way to know the truth about the Lord is to see what He has inspired men to say about Him in Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16). God declares He is sovereign over . . .

• Nature.

Psalm 135:6 says, “Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth,in the seas and in all deeps.” God causes the rain to fall, the grass to grow, and the land to bring forth food. There isn’t a single aspect of nature over which the Lord lacks control.

• Nations.

“He makes the nations great, then destroys them; He enlarges the nations, then leads them away” (Job 12:23). God’s rule is certain and sure. He keeps watch over the nations (Ps. 66:7), knows all that is happening, and maintains His authority over both good and evil governments (Rom. 13:1).

• Natural man.

God has control over unbelievers as well as believers. “He himself gives all men life and breath and everything else” (Acts 17:25 niv). He forms us in our mother’s womb, knows the number of hairs on our head, and determines the appointed times and places of our lives (Ps. 139:13; Luke 12:7; Acts 17:26). Spiritual life as well as physical life is under His complete control (John 6:44).

When we believe God is sovereign and experience this truth in our lives, we will be filled to overflowing with peace and joy. We will rest secure in the knowledge that no matter what is happening in our world, our God reigns.

His will shall be accomplished. Does your life show trust in God’s sovereignty?

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Wise Boundaries of Personal Freedom…

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Hebrews 10:24 (KJV)

24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works

 Far too often, people turn a good situation into slavery by ignoring wise boundaries of personal freedom.

A godly accountability partner can help you enjoy privilege without abusing it.

The benefits are plentiful:

 Clearer direction.

Honesty about faults and failures will open you to receive right counsel and encouragement. This process will increase your potential to do and become all that God has in mind for you.

 Increased integrity.

If you have to give an account to somebody, you’ll be honest and transparent. Even when the truth hurts, the result is heightened integrity.

 Better stewardship.

Accounting for the way you use money, time, or talent makes you careful not to waste those resources.

 Protection against excess.

As children of God, we are free in Christ, but an accountability partner keeps us balanced and guards us from taking liberties.

 Healthy self-examination.

Another person can often point out what we cannot see in ourselves. When we allow someone  to be an accurate mirror of our faults, we’re in a better position to make improvements.

 Safeguard against unwise relationships.

If you have to give an account of where you go and which people you spend time with, you’ll be more likely to avoid problematic places and relationships.

 Unbridled freedom may seem like a great blessing, but it can be a recipe for disaster.

Do you give account to anybody for the way you handle money, time, and relationships? If not, consider inviting a trustworthy Christian to fill that role.

 Taking this step reveals a heart that longs to please God.

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Blind Spots and Weaknesses…

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Galatians 6:1-10 (KJV)

1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
5 For every man shall bear his own burden.
6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.
7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

 An accountability partner is able to perceive what we can’t see when blind spots and weaknesses block our vision.

Such a person serves as a tool in God’s hand to promote spiritual growth, and he or she watches out for our best interest.

 When choosing this type of confidant, look for these characteristics:

1. Godly. A person who walks in the Spirit will offer genuine wisdom based on biblical principles rather than personal opinion.

2. Trustworthy. No matter what you share with this individual, you must be certain that he or she will keep everything in the strictest confidence.

3. Accepting. He or she must allow you to be yourself–frailties and all–and not try to remake you into someone “perfect.”

4. Courageous. A good accountability partner will lovingly confront you with the truth, even when it hurts (Eph. 4:15).

5. Forgiving. When you make mistakes, trust is built through mutual forgiveness.

6. Edifying. Don’t choose someone with an overly critical attitude that will make you feel worthless. Love edifies and builds up (Eph. 4:29). It never destroys.

7. Encouraging. You don’t want someone with a checklist, who judges or acts like a prophet. Instead, choose someone who takes great joy in encouraging you.

 We all can benefit from someone who is able to say what we need to hear without making us feel threatened.

Answerability provides checks and balances that promote spiritual growth and protect us from pitfalls.

 If you don’t already have an accountability partner, pray for that person today.

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Restore Your Excitement…

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John 1:35-42 (KJV)

35 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;
36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!
37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.
38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?
39 He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.
40 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.
41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.
42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

Andrew is the disciple known for bringing people to Jesus.

Immediately after meeting the Lord, he introduced his brother Simon to the Messiah. Another time, when a great multitude was hungry, he found a boy with five loaves and two fishes and brought him to Jesus (John 6:8-9).

When some Greeks wanted to meet Christ, Andrew and Philip made the introductions (12:20-22).

This disciple never lost his enthusiasm for the Savior.

Andrew’s own conversion experience motivated him to let others know about the One who’d changed his life (1:36-37). How about you–have you lost the joy of your salvation?

If your Christian life has become stale and musty, it’s time to remember what Christ has done for you and to ask that He restore your excitement.

In addition, Andrew longed to know the Savior and spend time with Him (vv. 38-39). The disciple’s example is a good reminder that sweet fellowship with the Lord isn’t supposed to end with devotional times. It should also stimulate a desire to share with others the joy we find in our relationship with Christ.

Finally, Andrew was motivated by his conviction that Jesus was the Messiah (v. 41).

He’d found the answer for a lost and hurting world and wanted others to know.

When Andrew answered the call to discipleship, Jesus told him he’d be “catching men” instead of fish (Luke 5:10). Since we, too, are followers of Christ, we have this same assignment.

Our styles and opportunities vary, but we’re each responsible to develop a lifelong habit of bringing others to Jesus.

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Our Testimony, Our Character, Our Conversation…

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 Psalm 78:1-7 (KJV)

1 Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:
3 Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.
5 For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children:
6 That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children:
7 That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:

What is a testimony?

Some believers think that it’s just a brief account of the way God has worked in their life. While that may be true, our testimony is much more than simply a short story.

One important aspect of our testimony is our character, which should include a spirit of obedience.

Do we follow God’s instruction on occasion but ignore Him the rest of the time? An obedient spirit follows His guidance, no matter what. At times our actions may outwardly display obedience, but nobody except God knows what lies within our heart. He sees our true character, and it should line up with the story we tell others to glorify Him.

Our conduct—in other words, what we do—is another facet of our testimony.

If what we say conflicts with our behavior, then we cloud our witness, and unbelievers may consider us hypocritical or doubt the genuineness of our faith. The way we act should confirm who we are in Christ.

Finally, a third part of our testimony is our conversation.

As Psalm 107:2 says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.” This gives us an opportunity to tell others what God is doing in our lives. Our words can be significant to an unbeliever who doubts the existence of God or the divinity of Christ.

When our character, conduct, and conversation fail to match who we are in Christ, we hamper our ability to reach others with the gospel.

A testimony can make the difference between doubt and faith in the life of an unbeliever.

How authentic is your personal testimony?

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