A Purpose in Everything…

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1 Peter 4:12-13 (KJV)

12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

Psalm 46:10 instructs us to “cease striving” during the difficult times in our lives.

That verse means we should stop trying to manipulate our circumstances and instead trust God and allow Him to work.

Now, understanding a scripture is one thing, but putting it into action in our lives can be something else entirely.

So just how is a believer to “be still”?

First, we must understand that the heavenly Father is allowing our difficulties.

If we believe that He is in control, then we must also believe that He has permitted these events to occur.

Second, it may be hard to comprehend, but there is a purpose behind our trials, even when life seems confusing and hopeless.

The Lord won’t allow hardships to come our way without good reason.

Third, since there is a purpose for our hardships, they have the potential to ultimately be positive experiences.

This doesn’t mean everything will always work out perfectly, according to our own standards, hopes, and plans.

But it does mean that if we respond correctly, we may look back on the experience as a catalyst for growth in our spiritual walk.

In Romans 8:28, Paul says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

You may have heard this familiar verse many times. But in order to maneuver successfully through the storms of life, you must understand its truth.

God hasn’t disappeared, and He isn’t ignoring us.

He has a purpose in everything—even the most challenging of circumstances.

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The Decisions We Make…

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Genesis 25:29-34 (KJV)

29 And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:
30 And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.
31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.
32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?
33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.
34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.

You probably read the story of Jacob and Esau today and thought, I can’t believe Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of soup. How foolish!

But let’s think beyond birthrights and soup. Is there anything of true value that you are trading for something of lesser worth? In other words, what is your “bowl of soup”?

Have you pursued wealth and a career at the expense of family?

Maybe your busy schedule has kept you from spending time with God in His Word each day. Some people become involved in extramarital affairs, trading the well-being of their family for the satisfaction of lustful desires. Others sacrifice their health by consuming harmful or addictive substances, or even by overindulging in food.

The list of ways we make foolish, shortsighted choices is endless.

Some of the decisions we make today could rob us of the blessings God wants to give us. When you yield to temptation in a moment of weakness, you’re actually sacrificing your future for momentary pleasure. We can’t afford to live thoughtlessly, basing our decisions on immediate desires or feelings. Since the principle of sowing and reaping cannot be reversed, we need to carefully consider what we are planting.

The harvest will come, and we’ll reap what we have sown–and more than we’ve sown.

Are you contemplating anything that could have serious long-term ramifications if you yield to the yearning? A wise person evaluates choices by looking ahead to see what negative consequences could follow a course of action.

Don’t let “a bowl of soup” hinder God’s wonderful plans for you.

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When Storms Are Brewing…

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Matthew 11:28-30 (KJV)

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

We have all experienced temptations, trials, and suffering at some point in our lives.

Even as Christians—and sometimes specifically because we are Christians—we must endure pain, whether through loss, bankruptcy, unemployment, or a broken relationship.

While no one is immune to hard times, believers are empowered through the Holy Spirit to endure periods of struggle. 

Psalm 46:10 says, “Cease striving and know that I am God.”

The King James Version uses the expression “be still,” indicating that our best response to disappointment is to trust in the heavenly Father.

How humbling it is to know that as God’s children, we have a direct line of communication to our Father, even in the midst of trouble.

We don’t have to respond like the world, out of a heart filled with anger, depression, or revenge. Nor do we have to fix everything in our own strength. Sure, we will still be tempted by the flesh. But as we “cease striving,” we’ll learn to trust in God more and more each day.

The truth is, hardship not only forms our character but also reveals it.

One common response to difficult times is anger. In moments of frustration, we run the risk of making impulsive decisions that could impact the rest of our life. But instead of getting caught up in the emotion, we should wisely be still and trust in the One who can work everything for our good (Rom. 8:28).

In this world, troubles won’t vanish (John 16:33). But when storms are brewing on the horizon, buckle up and trust God to guide you through.

Only in Him can you truly cease striving.

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Longing for Wholeness…

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Ephesians 3:14-21 (KJV)

14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
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.

Have you ever wondered if you are a “whole person”?

We all have struggles in life that could make us feel incomplete, but the apostle Paul says we can be “filled up to all the fullness of God” (v. 19).

What does that look like?

A “whole person” is generally satisfied with life.

He feels loved and is able to love others in return. Difficulties and hardships don’t devastate him, because he is able to go through them with confidence in God. He isn’t a complainer or someone who is quick to blame others.

A positive attitude guards his mind since he knows that the Lord will work everything out for good (Rom. 8:28).

Being a Christian doesn’t automatically make us feel complete.

Fullness comes only when we experience God’s love for us.

Do you feel God’s love, or is it just a biblical fact to you?

If you long for wholeness, the key is to experience an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

This is possible only when you’re willing to open up and let the Lord search your heart.

He’ll reveal what’s holding you back from accepting His love.

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All the Motivation You Need…

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Psalm 34:1-3 (KJV)

1 I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
3 O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.

Glorifying the Lord is not limited to worshipping in church.

In fact, praise should permeate the believer’s life.

One obvious way that we praise the Lord is with our voice.

We can either speak or sing our worship. The psalmists put adoration into words and set their love to music.

True worship also flows from the mouths of believers who are focused upon God’s attributes.

They desire to honor Him because of who He is, what He has done, and what He has promised for the future.

Genuine worship allows the Lord to fill our hearts and minds with His presence.

But praising the Lord with wrong motives is an empty act. For example, if we’re lifting our hands and singing loud only because doing so feels good, then what we’re after is an emotional high.

That kind of selfish “praise” falls short of heaven.

Our God is praised when we serve Him. People are created for the purpose of bringing glory and honor to His name. Therefore, nothing should limit our willingness to work for the King, particularly when we have a chance to share Him with others.

Christ is honored when His followers speak boldly about His grace and His work—believers’ testimonies are an amazing form of praise that magnifies God’s name.

Jesus Christ is worth more than any treasure this world offers. Loving Him and understanding what He’s done for you should be all the motivation you need to praise Him with your life.

Don’t just sing; serve His kingdom and share the gospel. Help to make God’s throne room ring with worship.

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Understanding and Learning His Ways…

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Revelation 4:9-11 (KJV)

9    And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,
10  The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11  Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

In our culture, God’s name is oftentimes mentioned with little reverence.

In fact, many people actually use it as a curse.

Even among those who love Him, it is far too common to use His name casually, without taking time to ponder who He is. When you say a blessing at mealtimes, for instance, do you realize that you are talking to the almighty Creator God who rules over all things?

Our view of the Lord impacts three areas of life.

First, it affects our prayers.

As we come to know Him better and better, our desires will start to look like His goals for us, and our petitions will align more closely with His purposes. Furthermore, as we recognize His greatness and power, we’ll become more confident that He can accomplish mighty things—and we will venture to “pray big.”

Second, our understanding of His righteousness and goodness influences our behavior.

If God has these attributes, surely it is in our best interest to obey gladly. We will desire righteousness and be quick to repent of sin.

Third, our faith is impacted.

Grasping that Jesus is holy, good, and powerful grows our trust in Him. Knowing our awesome God and remembering His great works will further build our confidence in Him.

Do you personally know our loving and holy heavenly Father?

He invites you into an intimate relationship with Him. But, as with any good friendship, time and intentionality are necessary to understand Him and learn His ways.

The more you do that, the more your prayers, behavior, and faith will be impacted.

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The Reason for Lifting our Hands and Voices…

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 Revelation 5:1-14 (KJV)

1And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
2And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
3And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.
4And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.
5And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
6And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
7And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.
8And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
9And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
10And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
11And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;
12Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
13And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
14And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.

In today’s reading, John’s revelation of heaven’s throne room is a striking picture of true praise.

The place explodes with worship and adoration for Jesus Christ.

Those present—the elders and “myriads of myriads” of angels (Rev. 5:11)—are motivated to sing of their love for Christ, because they know who He is.

He is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (Rev. 5:9; Rev.5:12; John 1:29).

And He is the Lion of Judah (Rev. 5:5), the only one worthy to judge the earth and bring forth its renewal. Jesus is wonderful, and these men and celestial beings cannot resist saying so.

What motivates you to worship?

Shouldn’t the reason for lifting our hands and voices be to praise our Savior for who He is? To do that, we must take the time to know Him. Opening the Scriptures only on Sundays and praying sporadically are not enough.

We have to commit ourselves to discovering Him through regular Bible study, prayer less focused on self, and service to His kingdom.

Once believers have glimpsed a side of Christ’s character that is bigger and more amazing than they realized before, a yearning to know more develops. They hunger and thirst for God in their lives because only the Lord can satisfy (Matt. 5:6).

It is in worship that the believer’s heart is filled.

Praise is part of a cycle: Learn more of God’s character, love Him more deeply, worship and serve Him better, and receive spiritual fulfillment. Amazingly, even as we are satisfied, we crave more of His presence in our life.

And so we dig into His Word for more and begin the cycle again.

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Absolute in Faithfulness…

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Nehemiah 1 (KJV)

What’s your view of the Lord?

Do you see Him as the One who can handle all the challenges you bring before Him?

Nehemiah knew God in this way. Upon hearing about Jerusalem’s destruction, he mourned, fasted, and prayed for intervention. His supplication (Neh. 1:5-11) offers a glimpse of how he viewed the Almighty.

First, the Hebrew term Yahwehrefers to One who is absolute in faithfulness.

Next, the title Elohimindicates infinite power and sovereignty over the universe.

Finally, Adonaimeans “ruler over all.” Nehemiah was bringing his request before the throne with full confidence in God.

And the Lord answered his prayer in a powerful, dramatic way.

As cupbearer in the palace, Nehemiah tasted food and drink first to protect King Artaxerxes from possible poisoning. For a servant in this position, to look sad was very risky (2:1), yet the terrible news disheartened him.

So the Lord worked a miracle: when the king asked what was troubling his cupbearer, Nehemiah expressed concern for the Jewish people. Instead of punishing him, Artaxerxes let him go to rebuild what had been destroyed, and even supplied the materials!

God handled what seemed like an overwhelming, impossible burden for Nehemiah, and He can do the same for us.

Having the right view of the Lord will allow us to approach Him with absolute confidence.

And we know that He will hear and answer our prayers (Ps. 86:7).

Remember that He is absolute in faithfulness and infinite in power.

Our heavenly Father is the ruler over all.

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