Vacillating on Issues…

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Romans 14:20-23 (KJV)

20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.
21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
22 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.
23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

A person of conviction has become convinced, by either evidence or argument, that his beliefs are true.

Today, most men and women would rather live by preference than conviction. They choose to believe something based on certain conditions and circumstances. When the situation changes, so does their loyalty.

In other words, a lot of people vacillate on issues that require a firm resolve.

Contrast this wishy-washy approach with the mindset of the great men and women of Scripture. Despite many years of unfair treatment, Joseph never wavered in his commitment to godly principles.

As a result, he was in the right place at the right time to ensure Israel’s survival (Gen. 50:20). Daniel, another righteous man in an idolatrous land, earned the trust of foreign kings by standing firm in his beliefs (Dan. 1:20). When his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego also refused to compromise their beliefs, they influenced a king to recognize Jehovah as the one true God (3:29).

As these biblical heroes show, godly convictions can withstand the changing winds of opinion and the persuasive arguments of opponents.

If we are grounded in the Word and trust what God has said, we can stand firm in our beliefs. Confidence breeds the courage to remain strong amid conflict.

Instead of following your own preferences, choose to live by godly conviction. The Bible has much to say about the most important aspects of your life. See if God’s principles and promises hold true.

Through prayer and study, allow Him to firmly root you in solid biblical convictions.

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Their True Poverty…

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 Revelation 3:14-22 (KJV)

14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

The Christians at Laodicea pictured themselves as rich and self-sufficient, when in reality, their spiritual blindness and self-righteousness had prevented them from recognizing their true poverty.

Though they had closed a door between themselves and Jesus, He never gave up on them. Can you relate to this idea of a loving Savior reaching out to you?

Revelation 3:20 shows that Jesus . . .

  • Stands at the door

The Lord takes the initiative. He’s ready and willing to seek us, even when we’ve erected a barrier.

  • Knocks at the door

He tries to get our attention through a variety of means, including circumstances, pain, trials, conviction, sleeplessness, and/or His Word. Then He patiently awaits our response.

  • Invites us to open the door

Though Christ is omnipotent, He never pushes His way into a relationship with us. He lets us respond.

  • Enters through the door

If we open up to Him, He will come into our lives. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we’ll actually partake of Christ’s divine nature and be transformed into His image.

  • Dines with us indoors

Now that nothing stands between us and Jesus, we can begin to enjoy all the benefits of an intimate relationship with Him and be nourished by His Word.

Where are you in this process?

Have you built a barrier between yourself and the Lord?

The Laodiceans show us how miserable we are when we try to keep Jesus at arm’s length.

Only when we let Him have unhindered access to our lives will we experience the joy of intimacy with Him.

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Maintaining a Youthful Attitude…

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Psalm 103:1-5 (KJV)

1 Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

We all want to live each day fully.

To do that, we need to maintain a youthful attitude instead of letting ourselves grow old and useless to the kingdom.

Here are some suggestions for staying young all our life.

First, we need to keep laughing.

We are never more like children than when we are having fun with our friends. Yet in order to laugh, we at times must let go of emotional baggage. Some people have been hurt deeply, and their laughter is buried under old pains. But clutching past bitterness and feelings of rejection will age us quickly. Jesus Christ is willing to remove all that ugliness when we lay it down, which we do by forgiving ourselves and others—perhaps repeatedly. Every day is a fresh start and another chance for our indwelling God to help us smile and laugh.

Second, we should keep longing.

That means we ought to keep chasing our dreams and working toward goals. When a person wakes up with something to accomplish or a friend to aid, he or she experiences more of the joy life has to offer. As soon as we settle for watching the world go by, we start to age.

Finally, and most importantly, we must keep leaning on the Lord.

If we live with childlike trust, God will bless our life and use us to bring blessing upon others. He will give a sense of contentment so deep that no trial or spiritual attack can shake us.

As believers, we have the opportunity to take part in the Lord’s work every day of our life.

If we give up before He wants us to stop, we cheat both God and ourselves.

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There Is Power Available…

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2 Corinthians 12:5-10 (KJV)

5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.
6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.
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 apostle Paul understood what it meant to be pushed to the limit.

According to his letters, he knew a lot about hardships and suffering. But he was most knowledgeable about the ultimate importance of all of those painful experiences—namely, glorifying Jesus through his weakness.

We don’t like to feel that we’re helpless or lacking control of our own lives.

But we can learn from Paul and from our personal life experiences that the prelude to great strength is great weakness. Take note of this important lesson about the Christian life: Our weakest moments—when we feel the most desperate—are the very times when God is free to do His greatest work by empowering and strengthening us.

It is in those difficulties during which we whisper, “Father, I cannot go on” that we are granted the best equipping and the greatest enabling to endure adversity.

Human nature cries out for strength, courage, and adequacy to meet life’s challenges. Consequently, many people avoid fiery trials and valley experiences at all costs so they won’t have to face weakness. They tell themselves, I am able to handle life on my own terms; my strength is sufficient. But we can never understand the supernatural empowerment to go beyond our own limits unless we experience it for ourselves.

The only way to have conviction about the Lord’s adequacy is to endure weakness and then witness the strength that springs from it.

No matter what’s going on in our lives, there is power available to the children of God.

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We Can Ask For Direction…

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1 John 5:14-15 (KJV)

14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

Parents train their children to do many tasks—from knowing which clothes match to handling money.

Perhaps the most important skill we can teach is how to follow God’s direction.

We are blessed that our omniscient and mighty Father is willing to make His way known to us.

He wants to reveal exactly what to do in every situation.

In fact, He promises this: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you” (Ps. 32:8).

Let’s explore how to discern God’s will at each crossroad of life.

The first step is to make sure that we have repented of all sin.

Listening to God while holding onto iniquity in our heart is like using a foggy and unreadable compass.  After confessing and repenting, we can ask for direction.

Next, we should read Scripture regularly with a seeking, open heart.

The Bible is like a lamp on a dark path (Ps. 119:105). The last step involves God’s indwelling Holy Spirit—the wonderful gift that the heavenly Father has given each of His children. The Spirit provides truth and guidance as we read the Word and pray.

We should listen patiently for His leading, which is often communicated quietly to our hearts as we spend time with Him.

When asking the Lord to reveal His will, we shouldn’t expect instant answers.

The discipline of waiting builds character, and besides, rushing the process may lead to a path that misses God’s best.

Take the time to seek Jesus’ plan for your life, remembering He’ll provide all you need to follow Him.

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He Owns It All…

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Psalm 24:1-2 (KJV)

1 The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.

Remember the truth that God owns it all?

When we have a firm grasp of this concept and apply it to our thinking and handling of money, we will have mastered the first principle of prosperity. If we realize that everything we see in our world is His, then we will begin to realize that we literally own nothing; we are merely stewards handling the wealth of our Master.

As money managers, we must understand that we do not have the right to dictate how it is to be spent or invested; only God does.

He is still in control, and He wants to have the final word in the matter.

The second principle of prosperity is that God wants His resources used in a way that glorifies Him.

Not only does He own it all and have the right to tell us how to manage it, but He also expects us to obey.

Our obedience in money matters brings Him glory.

The Lord wants us to keep this in mind as we put His resources into circulation to accomplish His work, to meet basic needs, and to provide enjoyment.

Ask God these three questions:

How much do You want to be designated for Your work?

What proportion should go to meet my basic needs and the needs of others?

How much do You want me to utilize to enjoy life?

When we accept that God owns it all, that we are His money managers and our resources are to be used to glorify Him, then we will be satisfied with His choices for how to use the money we have.

How satisfied are you?

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The World’s Longing for Peace…

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Romans 15:4-13 (KJV)

4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:
6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God. 8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:
9 And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.
10 And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.
11 And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.
12 And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.
13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Despite man’s best efforts, the world’s longing for peace remains unfulfilled.

Each new generation has high hopes for reconciliation among people and nations but in the end faces disappointment.

One day Christ will return and make everything right.

Until then, believers are called to be His ambassadors of peace. However, becoming a Christian does not automatically change us into people who pursue kindness and unity.

At times we’re quick-tempered and impatient and find it hard to live in harmony with others.

We may have trouble letting go of attitudes or habits that hurt those around us—and occasionally we don’t even want to. God knows our true character and has provided the Holy Spirit to transform us into Jesus’ likeness.

The Spirit opens our minds to understand and apply Scripture.

He gives us the power to say no to ungodliness and to replace me-centered thinking with a Christ-centered viewpoint. He patiently produces His fruit in us, which includes love, joy, and peace (Gal. 5:22-23). With His help, we can become peacemakers who work to bring about reconciliation between God and others (Matt. 5:9).

While our world keeps hoping for peace through man’s solutions, we know the only source of lasting unity is Jesus Christ.

The Lord wants our hearts to be ruled by His peace (Col. 3:15) and our relationships to be marked by a spirit of oneness.

How encouraged other people will be when they realize it’s the transforming power of God in our lives that brings about reconciliation in our marriages, families, and churches.

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A Constant State of Flux…

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 Romans 8:35-39 (KJV)

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.

Life is continually changing.

At times I tell myself that if just a few pressing issues were resolved, my days will be calmer. But as soon as those problems are settled, a new challenge pops up.

Even globally, we’re in a constant state of flux.

The economy rises and then spirals downward. Gas and food prices increase. New conflicts flare up all the time. Since we live in a fallen world, trouble is part of our reality.

Life will never settle down to the point that we can sail along with uninterrupted ease.

Thankfully, God guides believers through times of turbulence (Ps. 23). He is the Good Shepherd, who constantly abides with His world-weary lambs. Jesus vowed to His disciples, “I will not leave you as orphans” (John 14:18). And His promise was fulfilled in the person of the Holy Spirit, who was sent to indwell and care for each of God’s followers.

Paul poetically described the Spirit as a seal placed around believers until they are called to their heavenly home.

In other words, He provides a protective barrier against evil forces desiring to snatch us from God’s hand.

In the verses leading up to today’s reading, Paul described his audience as the Lord’s children (Rom. 8:16). So let me be very clear that the promise of a holy, protective presence is only for those who have received Jesus Christ as Savior.

No one’s life will always be calm.

But believers are assured of a Companion in the dark hours. You can be confident that God’s goodness and love will surround you until you dwell in His house forever (Ps. 23:6).

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