The Race Set Before You…

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Hebrews 12:1-3 (KJV)

1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

The runners in a marathon must all follow a clearly marked course.

Suppose one of the athletes decides to pick his own path.

He keeps to the 26.2-mile race standard and sets his finish line in the same spot as the official one, but he runs through neighborhoods with fewer hills and across less crowded parks.

His plan seems excellent to him, but when he crosses the finish line, there will be no medal or ribbon waiting.

That would certainly be a silly thing to do.

Yet believers fall into this very trap when they decide the course for their lives instead of running the race God sets.

By submitting to His will—doing what He says and going where He leads—we remain on the right path. But the moment we revert to our old habits and start making decisions based on our own wisdom, we go far afield.

Whether believers run the race God’s way or their way, the finish line is the same—namely, heaven.

However, the difference is what we have to show for all the energy expended getting there.

No one wants to look back and realize, I didn’t really accomplish anything of value.

Regardless of how grand a legacy someone leaves, the only truly lasting and worthwhile deeds are those done for the Lord in the power of His Spirit.

Thankfully, no matter how far off course we veer, the Holy Spirit is still present. He reminds us of the right path—as well as the power available to get back on it and persevere.

Your route is set; your choice clear. Run  and finish well.

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We Have a Choice…

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Acts 5:27-32 (KJV)

27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them,
28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.
29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.
31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.

The high priest ordered Peter and the apostles to stop teaching about Jesus, but they ignored the order.

When questioned about their actions, Peter replied, “We must obey God rather than men” (v. 29).

What motivated them to follow the Lord with such conviction?

God’s Sovereignty. 

Peter and the other disciples recognized that God had carried out His divine plan of redemption in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Convinced that salvation was found in Christ alone, they had the courage to speak boldly about their faith. They didn’t alter their words, even in front of a powerful authority. Instead, they gave allegiance to God and obeyed Him.


Their obedience was also motivated by gratitude. After betraying the Lord, Peter had wept over his failure (Mark 14:72). Think of the disciple’s joy to realize that Christ had forgiven him for his mistakes and restored him to a right relationship with God (Mark 16:7; John 21:15-17). With his past behind him, Peter became a leader of the Jerusalem church, with a passion to obey fueled by a thankful heart.

God is in charge of our lives.

He has rescued us from the bondage of sin, forgiven us, and brought us into His family. Grateful obedience should be our response too.

Each day we have a choice.

We can acknowledge God’s sovereignty and trust Him, or we can turn away and follow our own plan. Cultivating a thankful spirit will motivate us to stay the course and obey the Lord.

Like Peter, let’s commit to following our heavenly Father wherever He leads.

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Obedience In the Life of Faith…

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John 14:1, 15-17 (KJV)

1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

Because of the necessity of increasing our trust in God, we were challenged to make waiting on Him a part of our daily lives.

Today, we will look at three steps that are essential for the obedient life.


If we want to know the mind of God, we must meditate upon His Word. We do not need to pick the “right” verses in order to know God’s will. He has the power to direct us from any portion of the Bible. Our part is to pursue wisdom through Scripture over a sustained period of time.


Learn to listen to the quiet prompting of the Holy Spirit, who is our Helper. The Word of God is the primary resource through which the Spirit works. If we are studying a passage of Scripture, He will illuminate our minds so that we can understand how God is directing us. Or He will bring to remembrance a passage we have learned and reveal how it applies to our situation.


Our final lesson to learn regarding obedience is that sometimes we must walk, even when the way is unclear. Abraham is a good example. God told Him to move out of his homeland but did not specify the destination. Abraham complied by faith (Heb. 11:8). We, too, can obey without a total understanding because God makes Himself responsible for the consequences. We are accountable only for obeying. This is good news!

Consider the importance of obedience in the life of faith.

Then ask God what He wants you to work on first—trusting, waiting, meditating, listening, or walking with Him?

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The Ability to Carry Out All His Plans…

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2 Corinthians 1:18-22 (KJV)

18 But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay.
19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timothy, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea.
20 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.
21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;
22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

The Christian life rests on a foundation of God’s promises for today and for the future.

We can trust everything that our heavenly Father has said because His Word shows Him to be…


The Lord knows what is true and speaks honestly in all matters.

We can be assured of this because He is holy; there is no sin in Him. He is also omniscient and understands everything (Heb. 4:12-13). His promises are based on His infinite knowledge and truthfulness.


Scripture compares the Lord to a shepherd who “gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart” (Isa. 40:11 niv).

What He has planned for us, He will bring to fruition (Rom. 8:28). Our heavenly Father does not waver in His intentions or will.


God’s love for us was demonstrated at the cross.

He sent His Son Jesus to die by crucifixion and thereby take the punishment for our sins. The Savior experienced God’s wrath against iniquity so we might know only His love. This is the ultimate proof of His devotion to us.


Divine power created the world and raised the Savior back to life, so we know God has the ability to carry out all His plans.

Our omnipotent Father can keep every one of His promises.

A promise is valuable only if the one making it has trustworthy character and the ability to carry through.

Our heavenly Father is truthful, faithful, loving, and all-powerful.

We can base our entire life on His promises, secure in the knowledge that He will do just as He has said.

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He’s Never In A Hurry….

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Ephesians 3:20-21 (KJV)

20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Let the words from today’s reading slowly sink into your understanding: “able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (v. 20).

What an amazing description of the Lord’s ability to work within us.

Yet so often our focus is mainly on what we want Him to do around us:If He would change this situation or fix that problem, then my life would be better.

But He invites us to think and ask bigger—He wants to change us!

The Holy Spirit has more than enough power to transform lives from the inside out, but working change within is usually a slow process.

Spiritual fruit takes time to grow and mature.

That’s why we need patience and faith to believe He is working even when we don’t see the results right away.

God is never in a hurry and will never give up on us.

The Lord has a purpose for your life, and He is constantly working to achieve it. Although He has an individualized plan for each one of His children, He also has an overarching goal—to conform every believer to the image of His Son Jesus Christ.

In order to accomplish this, He may have to bring us through some struggles and heartaches.

It might not make sense to us, but God knows exactly what He’s doing.

What would you like to see the Lord do within you? As you read the Scriptures, look for qualities that God considers precious, and ask Him to work them out in your life.

Then rely on His wonderful promise to do even more than you have asked or imagined.

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A Life Free From Guilt…

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1 Peter 2:22-25 (KJV)

22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

Guilt can be defined as anxiety in one’s spirit over a deliberate, willful sin.

We can trace this emotion all the way back to the Garden of Eden. After Adam and Eve tasted the forbidden fruit, they felt ashamed of their nakedness and hid themselves. During Old Testament times, people would bring a special offering to the temple in order to “pay” for their wrong.

Today, we no longer have such a tangible way to release our guilt.

Actually, we have something better.

The heavenly Father sent His Son Jesus—who was fully God as well as fully man—to live a sinless life. He took upon Himself the penalty for all of our wrongs by dying a criminal’s death through crucifixion. Praise God, Jesus rose to life again, conquering death and sin. Ephesians 1:7 states, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.”

The truth is, every one of us has sinned and therefore deserves to be separated from God (Rom.3:23).

However, we can be liberated from death and guilt by accepting Jesus’ free gift and committing our lives to Him. Of course, in our imperfect human state, we will continue to sin.

But our loving heavenly Father will continue to forgive His children (Luke 11:3-4).

Jesus’ sacrifice gives us freedom from shame and death—plus the promise of eternity with God.

But that in no way means we have license to sin knowingly.

Though we are promised forgiveness, our gratitude and love for our Savior should spur us on to obey and serve the Lord.

And, surely, to live a life free from guilt.

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Those in Need…

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Luke 16:19-31 (KJV)

19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:
28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

In Luke 16, Jesus told a story about a rich man who lived for himself and ignored God.

After death, he experienced the consequences of his choices—eternal separation from the Lord.

Jesus described him as one who lived in luxury every day (v. 19), providing for himself the best that money could buy but giving little to the poor at his gate.

It is important to realize that this man wasn’t judged harshly by God because of his wealth.

The heavenly Father is not opposed to our success.

Nor was the man separated from the Lord because of his lack of charity toward others.

He did not deliberately harm others but, rather, overlooked those in need and focused on himself.

The rich man’s mistake was that he prepared everything for the body but nothing for the soul.

Our culture practices a similar style of living. Acquiring material riches and satisfying self is the primary pursuit of many in our world. Having what one wants seems to be the goal whether it’s a struggle to make ends meet or the bank account is overflowing.

Scripture says we were created to be in a relationship with the Father through faith in His Son. The rich man ignored God and paid the ultimate price.

Our eternal destiny depends on our decision about Christ.

Despite what our culture thinks, life is not about us.

It’s about having a relationship with the Lord.

Whoever accepts Christ’s gift of salvation will live eternally with Him in heaven. Those who reject God will suffer.

If you know any spiritually shortsighted people, pray that they will trust in Jesus.

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Equipped for Whatever Life Brings…

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Philippians 2:9-11 (KJV)

9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

When Christ has first place in our lives, we will experience many blessings.

These include . . .

A quiet spirit.

As we turn our attention to the Lord and meditate on His Word, He “leads [us] beside quiet waters,” where we find rest for our souls (Ps. 23:2). The Holy Spirit will help us shut out the noise of worldly distractions so He can provide assurance of our Father’s love and support. With a quieted heart and mind, we will be able to discern what God is saying to us.

A stronger faith.

Studying Scripture will enlarge our view of God and give us insight and direction. Reading how the Lord has helped others, we will gain confidence that He is at our side, enabling us to meet life’s demands. Our faith will grow as we follow His direction and watch how He works on our behalf.

A purified heart.

Like a mirror, the Bible reflects back to us who we truly are and reveals where we need to change. When we confess our sin, God promises to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

A prepared mind.

We don’t know what’s in our tomorrows, but God does. He wants to prepare us for the future—both the joyous times and the hard ones. Through the Holy Spirit’s ministry, we will be equipped for whatever life brings (2 Peter 1:3).

Paul’s life demonstrates what it means to give Jesus first place.

Because the apostle made Christ the Lord of his life (Gal. 2:20), he knew joy amid trials and received the strength to face turmoil and difficulty.

These blessings will also be ours when we give highest priority to our relationship with Jesus.

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