The Only One Who Matters…

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Ephesians 1:13-21 (KJV)

13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:

What I do doesn’t count.

Perhaps you sometimes have that thought—and you would be correct if your action is your idea, done your way.

We have nothing to offer others when we rely on our own abilities and efforts.

But as born-again believers seeking to live obediently, we are wrong when we fall into that kind of thinking. Scripture makes it clear what matters to God.

Let us seek to think the way God does about what counts.

  • New Creation.

The Bible tells us that what counts is being a new creation (Galatians 6:15). We who have received Christ as our Lord and Savior are exactly that. Are you a new creation? If so, know that you are of great value to God.

  • Holy Spirit.

It is the Holy Spirit indwelling us who makes what we do significant (John 6:63). Do you recognize His presence within you? He equips you to make your life count.

  • Faith.

A key ingredient in living a life that makes an impact is faith (Hebrews 11:6). This is not something we produce on our own—it is developed in us. Are you nourishing your soul through God’s Word in order to grow strong in faith?

  • Love.

Without love, faith rings hollow and discordant (1 Corinthians 13:1). Is godly love seasoning your words as well as your actions?

  • Obedience.

Following the Lord’s commands is what truly counts (John 15:10). Have you yielded your ways in order to obey His Word?

When we live God’s way, what we do counts in the eyes of the only One who matters—God Himself.

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Fighting the Wrong Fight…

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2 Timothy 4:6-8 (KJV)

6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Paul was a man who lived life to the full.

His goals were to know Christ, abide in His power, fellowship in His suffering, and preach the gospel (Phil. 3:10; 1 Cor. 1:17).

In doing so, he aligned his aspirations with the Lord’s, diligently worked to fulfill his calling, and persevered through opposition, persecution, and suffering. He could face the end of his life with confidence since he’d “fought the good fight,” “finished the course,” and “kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7).

We’d all like to be able to say the same at the end of our lives, but that means we have to follow Paul’s example.

How are you doing at setting goals for your life?

Have you thought beyond the immediate and set some long-term objectives? Our culture is so fast-paced that few of us take the time to actually consider where we’re going.

But you don’t want to finish your life and find out you were on a course other than God’s, fighting the wrong fight, and struggling to keep the faith.

Why not set aside some time this week to get alone with the Lord.

Then ask His help in setting goals that will take you where He wants you to go. Consider every area of your life–personal, relational, financial, and vocational–but make spiritual goals your primary emphasis. Then write them down.

If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.

Maybe it’s time to get out of your rut and find a new path. God will help you change direction and accomplish new goals that align with His will. Don’t settle for the mediocrity of an unplanned life.

Start living intentionally.

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Resting In Confidence…

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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.

Oftentimes in Scripture, God is portrayed in ways that are easy for us to understand.

One of the best-known and favorite passages in the Bible is Psalm 23, which begins, “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Here, David offers a touching and poignant representation of God by describing Him as a shepherd.

In ancient times, shepherds had a special relationship with their flocks.

They spent each day with the animals, guiding their paths, protecting them from danger, and corralling those that went astray. To the sheep, the shepherd was a constant companion, to the extent that the animals actually grew to recognize his voice and, therefore, to respond only to his call.

In Psalm 23, David acknowledges his position as a wandering sheep under the direction of the Great Shepherd.

 As such, he rejoices because he’s part of the Lord’s “flock” and God is such a gracious, loving Guide.

Because of his assurance of God’s protection and guidance, David was able to boldly exclaim, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me” (v. 4). This is truly a remarkable statement, because it reveals that while David was aware he would face hard times, he was able to rest in the confidence that God would safely see him through the ordeal.

Just as a shepherd knows his flock, God knows you.

Thank Him today for allowing you to graze in the pasture of His blessings.

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His Timing is Perfect…

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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.

God has a purpose and plan for your life, and His timing is perfect.

Sometimes He answers our prayers with “yes” or “no.” But at other times, He says, “Not now.”

When this is the case, we can avail ourselves of the rich rewards that come while we wait.

One very practical blessing is that God strengthens us as we lean on Him during delays. Isaiah 40:31 describes an eagle soaring—an apt metaphor for how the believer who abides in the Lord will be lifted and sustained by His Spirit. (In fact, it’s interesting to note that the Hebrew for “wind” and “spirit” come from the same word: ruach.)

When we are facing a difficult decision, the real key is learning to wait.

There is no verse of Scripture that tells us to take control and fight our own battles. God is the one who fights them on our behalf (2 Chron. 20:15).

We are to be patient and trust in Him.

When David faced his greatest battles, he waited upon the Lord. God delivered him from destruction and set his feet on solid ground (Ps. 40:1-3). He will do the same for you. When you abide in Him, He gives supernatural energy to accomplish the things He requires of you—His Spirit does for you what you cannot do for yourself.

In reading through the Scriptures, we see that every time one of God’s saints gains a victory, he or she is waiting and trusting in the Lord.

You can likewise experience triumph in your life.

When you have the omnipotent Creator of the universe acting on your behalf, you can’t lose.

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Our Thinking, Attitudes, and Desires…

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Proverbs 3:7-12 (KJV)

7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.
8 It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
9 Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:
10 So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
11 My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction:
12 For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

Following the Lord’s directions will change behavior and challenge our thinking, attitudes, and desires.

He leads us to think differently about ourselves, our values, and even the difficulties facing us.

We naturally want to determine our own course in life.

It seems like the only logical way to get where we want to go. But being wise in our own eyes is pride. To combat this tendency, the Lord instructs us to fear Him and turn away from evil (v. 7). This “fear” is not a horrified dread of the Father, but an attitude of respect that motivates us to obey Him for both our good and His glory.

We naturally want to keep our money for ourselves. 

A desire for a better lifestyle or fear of not having enough leads us to hang onto everything we get. But our compass directs us to honor God by giving Him the first part of all we have, trusting Him to provide for our needs (vv. 9-10).

We naturally hate God’s discipline. 

His painful reproofs seem to prove that He doesn’t care about us. But our heavenly Father says His discipline is the evidence that confirms His love and delight in us as His children (vv. 11-12).

Sometimes in our desire to follow the Lord, we focus on obedient actions—doing what He says—but miss His directions concerning our attitudes and thought patterns.

To stay on God’s path for our lives, we must make course corrections not only in our behavior but also in our hearts and minds.

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Wait For His Timing…

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Psalms 25:3-5 (KJV)

3 Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.
4 Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths.
5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.

Waiting for God’s timing is neither passive nor idle—it takes discipline and commitment.

I can think of four basic requirements for successful waiting.

Faith.

The Lord’s ways and timing are nothing like ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). From a human standpoint, the way He does things is usually totally different than expected. But as we trust Him more, we’ll discover that His approach isn’t so strange after all. And when we live in harmony with God’s will, His timing starts to make sense.

Humility.

To wait for the Lord, you must be convinced of your need for Him. Submission to His divine will requires humility—you cannot charge ahead with your own plans and at the same time be fully surrendered to God.

Patience.

Are you willing to remain in your current position until you receive clear divine direction? Pausing for clarity from God does not mean that you disengage and allow circumstances to fall apart around you. Waiting upon the Lord is a deliberate decision that requires patience.

Courage.

Waiting for God often takes courage, especially when there is pressure to act.

If you’re not careful, you might stop listening to the Lord and follow other advice. So keep your ear attuned to the voice of Almighty God, and you won’t go wrong.

Waiting upon the Lord is one of the wisest, most important decisions we make in life.

And contrary to popular assumptions, it is an active endeavor that requires faith, humility, patience, and courage.

When you rely upon God and wait for His timing, the various facets of life fall into place.

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What Burden Are You Carrying?

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Matthew 11:28(KJV)

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

In the 1986 movie The Mission, a guilt-ridden slave trader named Mendoza struggles to climb a treacherous mountain while carrying an overloaded pack of armor and weapons.

It is a task of his own making: He purposely selected this cumbersome burden as penance for the violent sins in his past.

At the peak of a mountain and the height of his frustration, Mendoza balances precariously at an impassable ridge, his awkward bag preventing him from moving another inch.

As he pulls with every ounce of his strength, a young native boy suddenly comes toward him and draws a large knife. Mendoza fears for his life, but the youth has something else in mind.

He cuts the heavy pack from Mendoza’s back and lets it fall into the deep ravine.

Unable to communicate with each other, the two men embrace as Mendoza’s tears reveal his deep feelings of gratefulness and relief.

Though sin mars the life of each of us, God has not called us to carry the weight of guilt on our backs.

Neither does He require us to atone for our own wrongdoings.

Instead, God sent His only Son Jesus to bear the sin of the entire world. The Savior’s blood was shed to relieve us of the debt we each owed to God (John 3:16; Rom. 4:25).

What burden are you carrying right now?

Psalm 55:22 says to cast it on the Lord.

Will you allow Jesus to “cut the ties” and receive you into His outstretched arms?

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An Amazing Promise…

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James 4:6-10 (KJV)

6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

“Draw near to god and He will draw near to you.”

That is an amazing promise!

As we open ourselves up to the Lord, He opens up to us. If we come to Him in submission, repentance, and brokenness, He rushes in with forgiveness, love, and faithfulness. There is no room for self-sufficiency or self-protection in this interaction.

Only in the humility of helplessness will we discover the sufficiency of His presence.

At first glance, it may seem that we were the ones who began the relationship, but in reality, God took the initiative; we merely responded to His overture (John 6:44). Many times He uses situations and difficulties to get our attention and stimulate our thirst for Him.

What appears to be a painful or desperate situation is often His invitation to draw near.

Even our greatest failures and sins can lead us to Christ, as we seek forgiveness from the Father. With an attitude of humble repentance, we can enter into a more intimate relationship with God. However, if you and I continue living in rebellion and are unwilling to confess and repent, He will not reveal more of Himself to us.

Sin always blocks our ability to know the Lord.

Have you allowed adversity or failure to pull you away from God rather than toward Him? To put distance between you and Jesus, Satan will misuse the very situations that the Lord can utilize to draw you to Himself.

Don’t let the enemy win the battle. Instead, “resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

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