In Spite of Limited Means…

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1 Corinthians 16:8-9 (KJV)

8 But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.
9 For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.

The apostle Paul had passion and vision to reach the world with the good news about salvation.

As he followed the Spirit’s leading, his determination proved effective. There’s no telling how many lives the Lord transformed through this man. And his influence is still impacting people today.

Paul knew that Jesus had instructed His followers to “make disciples of all the nations,” teaching them to observe everything He had commanded (Matt. 28:19).

God led and enabled the apostle to do his part in carrying out this divine mission.

But think about life back then—that was a big task for a time when there was no mass communication. Paul could only teach, write, or train others to share the truth.

In spite of limited means, however, he obeyed fervently and effectively.

God’s command is still relevant for us today. He has given us the work of telling all nations about redemption through Christ’s blood and resurrection. Compared to Paul, we have an abundance of communication capabilities—including radio, television, Internet, and cell phones—which provide easy access into countries all over the world. We could make more disciples by better utilizing these technologies.

But how tragic if we get busy and fail to obey God’s command.

We stand at a critical moment in history for the church. The door of opportunity is wide open for us to share the gospel through a variety of methods. As believers, we are obligated to carry out Christ’s Great Commission.

Be careful that neither busyness nor apathy keeps you from obedience.

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Facing The Challenges of Life…

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2 Chronicles 20:1-4 (KJV)

1 It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle. 2 Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazon–tamar, which is En–gedi. 3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

Everyone faces challenges in life.

Whether our struggles are financial, vocational, relational, or physical, we can be certain that nobody is exempt. Fortunately, we serve a God who is both interested in our problems and able to take care of them.

When trouble looms, prayer is always a good first step to take.

But having a foundation upon which to build our prayers also makes a difference. Jehoshaphat, the King of Judah, faced an enormous challenge. Three different tribes–the Moabites,Amonites, and Meunites–simultaneously waged war against him. Most leaders would have crumbled under such pressure, or at the very least taken drastic measures, but Jehoshaphat was a wise king. Though afraid, he did not strike out against his enemies. Instead, knowing that God was interested in his dilemma, he “turned his attention to seek the Lord” and proclaimed a fast throughout the land (2 Chron. 20:1-3). Jehoshaphat also knew that God, who was greater than any earthly problem, had done miraculous things for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and Daniel. That same God would help him, too, in his hour of need.

We should never underestimate the Lord’s interest in our affairs.

He helped our ancestors in the Bible, and He can and will help His children today. It’s easy to think our problems are unimportant in the eyes of God, but He doesn’t feel that way at all. Whatever concerns us concerns Him. If we, like Jehoshaphat, turn right to God and proclaim His power, He will intervene.

And no matter how great our challenges are, God is greater.

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Helping Others…

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 Matthew 16:21-27 (KJV)

21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. 23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. 24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

The theme of God’s redemptive plan runs through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.

At its heart is Calvary, the place where Jesus died so we could be forgiven. As we read the Scriptures, we see that the cross symbolizes . .

Salvation. 

Jesus bore our sins upon the cross and died in our place so we could be reconciled to God and receive eternal life.Sacrifice. 

Sacrifice. 

Christ, who was “in very nature God” (Phil. 2:6 NIV), chose to leave the perfection of heaven and live among sinful people. Laying aside His divine authority, He was born a helpless baby, completely dependent upon others. His first 30 years were spent in obscurity, without recognition of His messiahship. During His public ministry, He faithfully carried out God’s plan all the way to His death on the cross. Jesus’ days on earth are an example to us of the sacrificial life (Rom. 12:1-2).

Service. 

Jesus said He “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Christ’s supreme act of service was dying on the cross so we might have eternal life. Our Savior calls us to deny ourselves and follow Him through sacrificial service to others (Luke 9:23). As we embrace a lifestyle of humility and servanthood, we will bring glory to our heavenly Father.

In our culture, success is based on achievement.

We admire those who succeed in athletics, business, and the arts. But greatness in God’s kingdom is found in a life of obedience. Are you following His plan and helping others as Jesus did?

Have you shared with them the good news of Christ?

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The Strength to Persevere…

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 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (KJV)

7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

The Lord declares that His grace is sufficient for every painful situation we will ever encounter.

Because of His abundant goodness, kindness, and love for us, we do not have to succumb to discouragement, give up hope, or walk away from His plan. We will know God’s grace is working in us when . . .

We have the strength to persevere.

Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, God releases His supernatural power into our life so we might endure (Acts 1:8).

A spirit of confidence in Him is ignited within our hearts and minds. G

race helps us believe that God will bring good from our troubles (Rom. 8:28).

We sense His presence with us.

When grace is at work, we will be conscious of the Spirit’s abiding support.

Our focus shifts from our trials to the Lord.

Grace helps us shift attention from our situation and emotions to God’s sufficiency.

We trust that God will bring us through this

—and not just barely through, but with deeper intimacy and greater faith at the end.

We are assured of God’s sovereignty.

The Lord knows our frailties. So He has promised to limit our trials to what our weaknesses, strengthened by His power, can bear (1 Cor. 10:13).

The apostle Paul had been through shipwrecks, imprisonment, and beatings—difficulties far worse than what most of us face.

Yet he didn’t quit, because he drew on God’s grace and found it sufficient for every circumstance.

Where do you need an infusion of grace in order not to give up and walk away?

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The Earthly Frame…

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1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (KJV)

19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Every time the news programs report a story about vandalism at a church, believers cringe.

It’s hard for us to bear the thought of anyone spray-painting graffiti on sanctuary walls or damaging the stained glass windows, let alone setting fire to a place of worship. It’s a desecration!  The church is a sacred place.

It’s sad that many Christians don’t have the same qualms when it comes to harming the temple of the Holy Spirit—their own bodies.

Some put junk into their stomachs, their veins, or their lungs. Others wear themselves down under a weight of stress or exhaustion.

Some folks justify these abuses as their right: It’s my body, I can do what I want. But that isn’t true.

First Corinthians 6 says that believers are the Lord’s possession (v. 19).

He has fashioned these earthen vessels to serve Him and carry out the work He’s planned for us to accomplish. God created us with a mind, body, and spirit—of the three aspects, the body is the one that allows us to interact with our environment.

People cannot reach their full potential while neglecting the proper care of their bodies.

What good are education, talent, and gifts if we’re too tired or sick to complete tasks well?

Here in the world, we can do nothing apart from our physical body.

Since it is the only one we’ll have in this life, we should do our best to keep it in good condition.

Believers should also recognize their responsibility to treat the earthly frame like the sacred and special dwelling place that it is.

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Handling Burdens…

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 Psalm 116:1-7 (KJV)

1 I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.
2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.
3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.
4 Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.
5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.
6 The Lord preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.
7 Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.

Today, let’s look more closely at Jeremiah 6:16 (KJV).

The prophet’s wisdom offers timeless practical advice on how to handle burdens.

  1. “Stand at the crossroads and look.

 In a time of turmoil, our minds race ahead to think of all that could happen in the future. We ask ourselves lots of “what if” questions and frequently fall victim to unfounded worry. To “stand” means to turn our mind from its troubling thoughts of the future and to focus on God. It’s similar to being at an intersection with signs pointing many different ways. We wait, not moving until we know in which direction to head.

  1. “Ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is.

 The road of trouble has been well traveled by the saints of the faith, and their footsteps have made it into a path of glory to God. Meditate on the cries of King David in the Psalms or on the prayers of others in the Bible. Ponder their responses as well as the way they reveal their faith and trust in God, even while suffering greatly. Accept the Spirit’s revelation of the ancient path of faith and the good way of trust. Then pray for courage to walk those paths as Jesus did.

  1. “Walk in it and you will find rest for your souls.

 With eyes firmly fixed on our Jesus Christ, resolve to walk down this road of suffering in a way that is honoring to Him. Draw deeply on the Holy Spirit’s strength for the next step,  and seek to be obedient in thought, word, and deed. You will discover that as you follow Him, sweet, soul-satisfying rest will be found.

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Waiting on God…

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Psalms 37:1-9 (KJV)

1 Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.
2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
4 Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
5 Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
7 Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.
9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.

Waiting on God is an important spiritual discipline in our walk of faith.

King David’s life teaches us about the value of following the Lord’s plan and the danger in moving ahead of Him.

When David was a young shepherd boy, the prophet Samuel anointed him as Israel’s next king.

Yet he did not become the ruler for many years. Waiting for the Lord to place him on the throne was made more difficult because the current king, Saul, turned against David and repeatedly tried to take his life. Despite the opportunity to take matters into his own hands and kill his enemy, David held back. He wouldn’t allow anyone else to attack Saul either (1 Sam. 24:1-7).

He waited on God and was greatly blessed for his obedience.

King David also knew what it was like to move ahead without the Lord. One year he chose not to join his troops in battle, even though that was one of his duties (2 Sam. 11:1). During the time he stayed home, he noticed Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, and he coveted her. Acting upon his desires, he conceived a child with her and then tried to cover up his sin.

What a mess he made of his life. Instead of following the Lord’s plan and being blessed, he experienced divine chastisement and much heartache.

As believers, we want to obey the Lord, but there may be situations when intense desire propels us forward without waiting for His direction.

Like David, we will experience the blessing of obedience or the heartache of disobedience. Be sure to seek out God’s plan before you act.

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The One Whom We Serve…

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Colossians 3:23-24 (KJV)

23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

In His Word, God commands us to serve one another.

However, there will inevitably be difficult people in life who make this mandate challenging.

Thankfully, a biblical definition of service can help us obey the Lord’s instruction, no matter who the recipient may be.

And the reason is that God is actually the One whom we serve.

When we have this motivation underlying everything we do, it will impact the quality of our work and keep us from becoming discouraged. Then, whatever our task–whether we lead a country, teach children, or do something that seems unattractive–if our goal is to glorify God, we will do our best in His strength.

And we trust Him to use us for His purposes, even if our labor should appear fruitless to us or to others.

Whomever God calls us to serve, and whatever He tells us to do, we can obey with joyful hearts when it’s done for Jesus.

If this is our motivation, we won’t need worldly approval or evidence of impact.

We need to know only that God is pleased and promises to reward those who serve Him (Heb. 11:6).

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