A Mostly Moral Life…

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John 3:16 (KJV)

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

God has to be true to Himself.

People are foolish to entertain the hope that He will ignore justice and sacrifice holiness in order to allow unbelievers into heaven.

Living a mostly moral life will not satisfy a righteous Judge.

As much as the Lord loves us and desires to save us from our sins, He cannot deny His holiness by accepting sin in His presence. The Father is pristine perfection–a holy Being who, by His very nature, must condemn all sin. Therefore, it is the height of egotism to think that God will bend both His law and His nature to welcome one whom still bears the stain of wrongdoing.

There is not one person who’s good enough to enter heaven on his or her own merit.

Every one of us needs Jesus. The stain of sin is washed clean only by the sacrifice of God’s holy and blameless Son. Those who believe in Christ are forgiven their wrongs and cloaked in His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21).

Let me make it very clear that trusting Jesus is far more than giving intellectual assent to His existence–that’s something even the Devil acknowledges.

A true believer enters into a relationship with the One who loves his soul enough to save him from eternal punishment.

Those who remain tightly wrapped in their mantle of sin cannot hope to sneak into heaven. God’s holy nature demands perfection, and since we can’t provide this for ourselves, the Lord has given it to all who believe in Him.

He has exchanged our filthy rags for a cloak of righteousness (Zech. 3:4).

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Peace In Meditation…

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Joshua 1:8 (KJV)

8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Meditation is a vital part of a healthy, growing relationship with God.

It is, however, left out of many believers’ lives. So let’s start with basics and ask the key question, How do we meditate?

First, we must devote ourselves to the reading of God’s Word.

If we want to hear His message, then we must dig deep into Scripture. This is no mere book; rather, it is the very message of God to His people. We have Scripture in order to know the Lord better. As faithful stewards of this wonderful gift, we must make it an integral part of our lives.

Second, we must learn to pray God’s Word back to Him.

When we read a Bible passage, we should lift that Word back up to heaven as a prayer. We affirm the message of Scripture by showing our heavenly Father we are in agreement with what He has said.

Third, we must apply the Word.

The Bible is not here for simple information; instead, it was given for obedience. If we do not allow the Word of God to change our life, then are we really placing much value on it?

Fourth, we must submit to God’s will.

As we spend time actively listening to the Lord, He will share His plans for our life. As we apply what we have heard, meditation will become more and more instinctive for us. Then, we will find that we hear His voice regularly.
God has a special message for you. It’s imperative that you take the time to hear what your heavenly Father is saying.

And when you do, you’ll enjoy the richness of your relationship with Him.

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One Relationship That Is Sure and Permanent…

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Romans 8:31-39 (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.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Far too many relationships in today’s world are uncertain.

Disunity is found in marriages, churches, and international alliances.  Yet there’s one relationship that is sure and permanent.

The Lord designed people for intimate fellowship with Him.

His love toward each of us is evident throughout the Bible. In fact, there is nothing tangible, intangible, past, present, or future that can separate believers from the Father’s love. John 10:14 draws a comparison between Jesus and a good shepherd—a man whose ultimate task is providing for and protecting the flock.

Christ’s character is one of passionate care for His people.

First John4:16 clearly states, “God is love.” If we believe the Bible, then we cannot deny this fact about His nature.

We also see evidence of divine love through the Lord’s gifts and actions.

For example, He created us in His image (Gen. 1:26). He sent His only Son to die in our place, and He forgives us of our sin debt (1 Cor. 15:3). John 15:15 tells us that Christ calls us His friends—and what’s more, when we trust in Jesus, God adopts us and considers us His children (Rom. 8:15). He even blesses us with an Intercessor and Helper—the Holy Spirit (John14:26).

The Word is clear: God loves us passionately.

The affection we experience in our families is only a glimpse of the great compassion and care that God has for you. Think about the people you treasure most. Imagine what you would be willing to do if they experienced a need.

How much more will our heavenly Father be devoted to you! 

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The Wonderful Assurance…

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Malachi 3:7-12 (KJV)

7 Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?
8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.
12 And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.

Though the world is full of disorder, confusion, and uncertainty, believers in Christ have the wonderful assurance that God is in absolute control of every situation.

When He created the heavens and the earth, He had a purpose and a plan, which He carried out with precision and order. Nothing was haphazard, late, or uncertain. The Lord also has a plan for each one of us, and every aspect of our lives is not only under His scrutiny, but also under His care.

One of those areas is our finances.

If we’ll follow God’s plan, He promises to manage our money. Now, that’s quite a blessing. After all, who do you think would be better at knowing how to handle money—you or our omniscient, all-powerful God?

He promises that if we will give Him the first part of all we receive, He’ll provide for our needs.

He has an amazing way of making the remainder stretch farther than the original amount.

So, considering the blessings of this promise and the unfailing faithfulness of the Promise Giver, what is keeping you from obeying this command?

The most likely reason is unbelief—fear to test Him on this even though He invites you to do so. But you may be asking yourself, What if He doesn’t come through?

What if I give it away and don’t have enough?

The Lord is after your trust, and what better area to test and build it than your finances?

Believing Him for our salvation seems easy, yet we often doubt He’ll keep His promise when it comes to money.

Take a step of obedience today, and discover how faithful your God really is.

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Awakening Responsiveness…

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Ezekiel 36:25-28 (KJV)

25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.

The Lord wants to give each of us a “heart of flesh” so that we will be pliable and responsive to Him.

When touched by the finger of God, a tender heart yields to the pressure and assumes the form He desires, much like a lump of clay that allows the potter to determine the shape of the vessel.

To aid in this process, God has sent the Holy Spirit to indwell each believer and awaken responsiveness in him or her.

By yielding to the Spirit’s promptings with ready obedience, the heart becomes increasingly tender and sensitive to His leading. The Lord is able to impart greater understanding of His Word to a soft heart because it has faithfully accepted and obeyed previous teachings.

Any resistance to God will result in hardening.

But those who are accustomed to intimacy with Christ—which is the result of submission to Him—will be quick to deal with sin and return to the place of obedience and blessing.

People with tender hearts stay closely connected to the body of Christ, seeking to build up and encourage others in their walk of faith. Such individuals are not only receptive to what God wants to tell them; they are also teachable, in that they are willing to listen and be corrected by others.

This week when you read your Bible and pray, let your heart be soft toward the words of God.

As He pokes His finger into each hard area, listen to His instructions, and rely on the Spirit’s power to help you yield and obey.

Let Him shape you into a beautiful and useful vessel.

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The Oaks of Righteousness…

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Jeremiah 17:5-8 (KJV)

5 Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.
6 For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.
7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.
8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

An acorn needs nutrients and time to grow into a tall, sturdy oak tree.

Likewise, men and women of conviction develop gradually through committed Bible study and prayer. Ready to get planted firmly in biblical truth?

Here’s how:

Make a list of issues for which you need to form a conviction.

Here are questions to help you get started:

Do you consider the Bible true and trustworthy?

Do you think that believing in Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved?

What is the Holy Spirit’s role in the lives of believers and unbelievers?

Are we to forgive others in every situation?

How should Christians approach finances?

What’s your purpose in life?

What is your role in the church and at work?

How should you think and act regarding social issues like capital punishment, abortion, and racism?

It is my hope that these questions will open the eyes of those who haven’t contemplated how their personal philosophies have developed. It’s time to change that.

Study the Bible and make God’s Word the cornerstone of your thinking. A concordance will point you to scriptures that relate to the above topics.

Evaluate what the Bible says rather than looking at an issue through the lens of personal preference.

Ask, What does God say? rather than What does this mean to me?

Once you know what God says, you have a choice to make:

Believe Him and commit to living according to your conviction, or continue being tossed by waves of doubt and indecision (James 1:6).

Root yourself in God’s Word and be called one of His oaks of righteousness (Isa. 61:3).

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How Do You Approach Him?

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1 John 1:1-4 KJV)

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

When you pray, how do you approach God?

Numerous Christians visualize a holy, righteous being and approach Him with feelings of fear, unworthiness, and reluctance.

On the other hand, many believers picture the Lord as a pal and talk to Him with little reverence.

Neither approach is healthy.

Our finite minds cannot fully grasp that God is both loving and holy. Let’s first explore the holy, fear-provoking side of the Lord. As you read today’s passage, visualize the incredible power around heaven’s throne.

It fills my heart with awe and wonder.

Before Jesus walked on earth, the temple contained an area called the Holy of Holies, where God’s presence resided. Only the priest could enter—and just on specified days, after ritual cleansing and preparation. If he did not get himself ready exactly according to scriptural rules, he would be struck dead. To be in God’s presence requires obedience. In fact, because of the Almighty’s absolute holiness and perfection,

He is unable to commune with sinfulness, which is the condition of all mankind (Rom. 3:9).

Therefore, every one of us is guilty and deserving of condemnation. Thankfully, though, God did not leave us helpless, but out of His grace and love, sent His Son to be our Redeemer.

Every page of Scripture can deepen our understanding of God’s greatness. Are you amazed at His presence and deeds? To understand more about His character, discipline yourself to read and meditate on the Word.

Then take time to praise Him, for He alone is worthy of our adoration.

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His Shoulders Are Wide Enough…

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 Psalm 55:16-22 (KJV)

16 As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me.
17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.
18 He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me.
19 God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.
20 He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him: he hath broken his covenant.
21 The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.
22 Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

God’s shoulders are wide enough to carry your burdens.

He is sovereign over the universe, so He is certainly capable of working out problems and meeting needs.

Let’s take a look at an exercise that will help make casting your cares a practical act.

First, write on a piece of paper the things that cause your anxiety. Once you start writing, you may discover a list of items that cheat you out of peace.

Next, pray each issue into God’s care. Recall Psalm 18:35, which promises that He upholds believers in His loving grasp.

Finally, as you pray, visualize placing the situation into God’s omnipotent hands.

For example, a woman may imagine handing over to the Lord what she owes, while saying, “Father, I give You my financial anxiety. I know that You will show me how to get out of debt. You are more than sufficient to handle it, and I trust You to guide me.”

Some people may protest this suggestion because humanistic and pseudo-spiritual movements also use a method they refer to as “visualizing.”

Don’t let anyone steal what is rightfully yours.

God creates word pictures throughout the Bible. This exercise merely creates a mental snapshot of the Lord doing exactly what He says He will do (Ps. 55:22; Matt. 6:25-26).

When you have transferred all of your worries to God’s hands, wad up that paper in your fist, and then destroy it.

In this way, you symbolize the transaction that just took place. Your cares are no longer yours.

Every one of them belongs to the Lord. Walk away in perfect peace.

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