Just As Easy As The Instructions Claim…

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Psalm 119:33-40 (KJV)

33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.
34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
35 Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.
36 Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.
37 Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.
38 Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.
39 Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good.
40 Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.

Assembling a toy or mechanical device rarely turns out to be as easy as the instructions claim.

First, there is a myriad of parts that are expected to go somewhere. Next, the amount of time set aside doesn’t seem to be enough, and interruptions come more often than we want. Then, there are the instructions themselves, which typically leave out key points on how to finish the job.

Perhaps you have been viewing God’s instruction book—the Bible—in a similar way.

There are those 66 books to read and apply.

Then there’s the obstacle of insufficient time or interruptions that distract you.

Or, it may seem as if additional training is needed to understand divine truth.

Any one of these could cause us to veer away from Scripture.

Even mature Christians can find themselves inattentive to the Bible. But when we wander from God’s Word, we soon wander from God and His ways.

What is it that you desire for your life?

To please the Lord? To glorify Him? To rise above worries and fears and experience the abundant life (John 10:10)? For all of us who answer yes, our priority needs to be drawing closer to God. We do that by studying and applying His Word.

Are you willing to give God your undivided attention in order to nurture your relationship with Him?

Will you put yourself under the control of His Holy Spirit to learn how to live an increasingly godly life?

The rewards are great: knowing our Savior in ever-increasing fullness and living a life pleasing to God.

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The Gates Will Always be Open…

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Revelation 21:22-27 (KJV)

22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.
25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. 26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.
27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

 As enjoyable as traveling may be, most of us would admit to having a sense of security and delight upon arriving back home.

There’s just something comforting about opening the door, seeing familiar things, and feeling we’re where we belong.

The apostle John was given a vision that included glimpses inside our future home, the new Jerusalem. You may be surprised to know that some things from our old abode will be missing.

 But what replaces them will be infinitely better.

For one thing, there were no church buildings in John’s vision, “for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Rev.21:22). No longer will denominations divide up the body of Christ. Nor will the sun or moon shine on the city in that day, “for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb” (v. 23). Imagine–no need for electricity, flashlights, or candles.

One other difference is that the city gates will always be open. Since sin will not be a factor, locks will be unnecessary in our heavenly home.

Death and decay will also be absent. In fact, nothing impure will ever enter that future residence–utter holiness will characterize the heavenly place, and suffering will be a thing of the past. What we have to look forward to is the abundant life in Christ, pure and unmarred.

 Think about the comfortable feeling you have as you open your front door.

That’s but a hint of what we’ll feel some day on arriving at the place our Father has lovingly and personally prepared for us in heaven.

 We will finally–and permanently–be “at home” in a way that defies description.

 

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The Fear and Frustration of Dealing With Challenges…

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 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 (KJV)

4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:
5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

Life is filled with struggles that reveal our human inadequacy:

Physical problems leave us weak and unable to cope; relational troubles bring confusion and stress; continual battles with bad habits and addictions make us feel defeated; and financial pressures damage our self-worth.

No one likes the fear and frustration of dealing with challenges that are too big to handle, but God can use them for our good.

Maybe you have never considered inadequacy a blessing. After all, it stirs up all sorts of uncomfortable emotions that make us feel insignificant and weak. But God can turn the negatives into blessings if we acknowledge our helplessness, depend on His strength, and step into our challenges with confidence in Him.

Inadequacy can be a blessing since it:

  • Drives us to God as we recognize our helplessness.
  • Relieves us of the burden of trying to do God’s will in our own strength.
  • Motivates us to live in the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Provides an opportunity for the Lord to demonstrate what He can do.
  • Increases our usefulness to God by replacing pride with humility.
  • Allows Christ to receive all the glory.
  • Gives us peace as we rely on Him.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, believers have the ability to endure difficulty and accomplish whatever the Lord calls them to do.

By claiming the adequacy of Christ, we can face every circumstance with a sense of confidence—not in ourselves but in God, who is capable.

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Gratefulness in Any Circumstance…

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 Colossians 2:6-8 (KJV)

The meaning of Thanksgiving has changed over the years.

The name was given to our national holiday dedicated to thanking God for His protection and provision.

More recently, though, it has become synonymous with feasting, football, and family.

In most homes, God probably isn’t even mentioned. But for believers, Thanksgiving is not simply a day; it’s a lifestyle. In fact, a godly person should be characterized by gratitude.

The apostle Paul teaches how we can become people who overflow with gratefulness in any circumstance.

The first step is to appreciate our relationship with Christ. He chose each believer before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4) and wants us to “walk in Him” (Col. 2:6). This means acknowledging Jesus as Lord of our life and relying on Him to empower us to obey.

Next, we are to be firmly rooted in Him.

This can happen only when we tap into His Word and draw nourishment from it. Then we’ll be like a tree whose roots reach down so deep that even storms cannot topple it. With this foundation, we can be built up in Christ and increasingly display His character in our attitudes, conduct, and conversation.

Finally, our faith needs to be firmly established. Then we won’t fall prey to worldly philosophies and deceptions.

Do you have a grateful spirit, or do you say “thanks” only when things are going your way? Thankfulness in all situations is possible only when you focus on the truths and promises of God’s Word.

As you learn to see life from His perspective and acknowledge His loving lordship, you’ll overflow with appreciation.

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Words That Play Out In Our Lives….

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James 1:23-25 (KJV)

23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

God is not one to speak in generalities.

When He whispers from the pages of Scripture or confronts through a friend’s words, the Father directly addresses issues in His children’s lives. With that in mind, let’s look at His three goals for communicating with believers—namely, for us to:

  1. Comprehend the truth. 

God wants us to learn His ways and principles, to recognize our own frailty, and to identify the needs of others. He does more than offer this as head knowledge—He makes truth applicable to our lives. For example, the Lord assured Paul that His strength was sufficient to carry the apostle through anything (2 Cor. 12:9). Circumstances taught the apostle that God’s Word was true.

  1. Conform to the truth. 

Our lives are shaped by our belief system. What we hold as true influences our thinking. In turn, how we think affects our character, conduct, and conversation. God is determined to mold His children into Christlikeness so that they reflect His gospel to the world.

  1. Communicate the truth. 

Every child of God is called to make disciples (Matt. 28:19). Believers can know the Lord and walk in His light but still fall short of this expectation. We must share the gospel by sharing God’s truth with others and explaining how His words played out in our lives.

Notice that each goal builds on the one preceding it.

Christians are a light reflecting God’s glory to this world. We shine brightly by being attentive to God’s voice and following His will.

And when someone takes an interest in the source of our light, we are prepared to share the good news of Christ. 

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Worldly Desires…

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2 Peter 2:9-18 (KJV)

9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:
10 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.
11 Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.
12 But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;
13 And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;
14 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:
15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
16 But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.
17 These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.
18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.

God warns us against misguided desires, because sinful passions can lead to emptiness, suffering, disappointment, pain, and even death.

Wise believers let the Father direct their yearnings–and then make changes if necessary.

Impure desires have been part of the “flesh” nature since the fall of man, and they can be hard to see in ourselves.

Instead of obvious things like theft, drugs, or immorality, they often involve more subtle attitudes and behaviors, like hoping for a rival’s downfall, despising authority (2 Peter 2:10), obsessing about wealth (1 Tim. 6:9), or even speaking arrogant and vain words.

Since worldly passions can cause great damage (2 Peter 2:18), believers are to deny them (Titus 2:11-12). But we can’t overcome these desires on our own.

 Submitting to God’s Spirit is the only way to live righteously.

The Lord knows what we really desire–and more importantly, what we need–even when cloudy judgment leads us astray. And He understands honest mistakes. When a believer misinterprets the Spirit’s guidance or receives bad advice from a friend, God looks at the heart. He may allow the consequences of a poor choice to play out, but He won’t shame His children for an honest mistake.

 He can turn a bad situation into something good (Rom. 8:28).

God can save us from worldly desires, but we must be willing to commit ourselves to Him and trust that His response is the best thing for us.

 When we put our lives entirely in the Father’s hands, we can claim the wonderful promises He has for us and then rest in His grace.

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Spiritual Maturity…

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Isaiah 40:28-31 (KJV)

28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

When I witnessed an eagle in flight, I understood why God used this bird to describe a relationship with Him.

The eagle—which simply opens its wings and soars—is wholly dependent upon air currents to keep it aloft.

In contrast, we oftentimes beat our wings trying to be better Christians.

We resolve to read the Bible more or to improve at keeping our temper. We strive to escape old habits and temptations. But instead of flying to the mountaintops, we remain on the valley floor with tired wings. This is because we sometimes get confused about what makes a person spiritually mature. The godly believer isn’t someone who tries and tries to do well. I’ve been a believer long enough to know that I can’t live the Christian life. This flesh of mine isn’t any better today than it was the day I was saved.

Spiritual maturity means recognizing that we do not change ourselves.

The flesh is corrupt, and it cannot be suppressed by any human means. But our omnipotent Father subdues our imperfect impulses through His Spirit. For example, God’s indwelling Spirit can calm anger and wield His strength to weaken the lure of temptations. While others tire from trying to be good, the mature believer relies on the Lord and will “mount up with wings like eagles” (Isa. 40:31).

Isaiah reminds us that even young men stumble and grow weak.

Anyone trying to change himself will burn out beating his wings against the world system and his own flesh. God did not make our human bodies, minds, or spirits to fly solo.

He created us to soar on His strength.

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Meeting Every Need…

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Philippians 4:19 (KJV)

19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Jim saved for a long time to take an Alaskan cruise.

At last he was on board with two carefully packed suitcases. The first evening, when he heard “Dinner is served” announced over the loudspeaker, he took peanut butter crackers from his suitcase and sat at the table in his small cabin. Every day at mealtime, he repeated the ritual. It wasn’t that Jim didn’t like the ship’s tasty banquets. He simply didn’t know that his meals were included in the price of the ticket.

For two weeks he enjoyed beautiful scenery off the decks but ate dry, stale food in his cabin.

This sad story is a metaphor for how some believers live the Christian life.

God has promised to meet every need of His children—His riches are included in the price Christ paid for their salvation (Eph. 1:18).

Yet many folks are trying to live out of their own resources. They don’t know that the wealth of God’s love, power, and provision is on their menu.

A believer’s relationship with the Lord is one of complete unity.

Jesus is our life. His Spirit lives through us. Therefore, everything that is available to Him is also available to the brothers and sisters in Christ—all power, strength, and endurance, as well as whatever is required to fulfill physical and emotional needs.

Jim didn’t know he had the right to satisfy his hunger in an extravagant way.

Learn from this exaggerated example. Read your Bible to learn what riches you are entitled to through faith.

God offers believers everything required for living well and wisely. Trust Him for all your needs.

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