When He Knows You’re Ready…

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Isaiah 64:1-4 (KJV)

1Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence,
2As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence!
3When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence.
4For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.

The Lord is a God of action.

Even when He rested on the seventh day of creation, it wasn’t because He was tired and needed to recuperate.

Although He deliberately made a choice to stop His creative activity, He never ceased working.

While the Lord is always controlling the universe, He is, at the same time, intimately involved with individual lives.

God has a plan for each one of us and wants us to know what it is.

Every time we take a step of obedience, He sheds more light on our path. But sometimes He asks us to pause awhile, and we may not know why.

We long for direction in a particular matter, but our prayers just aren’t being answered, and we wonder, “Why does He delay”?

When you aren’t seeing any answers, it doesn’t mean that God is not working.

He’s still actively involved in your life, but He works in ways that are not always visible.

He orchestrates circumstances, changes people’s hearts, and protects His children from making hasty decisions that will have disastrous consequences.

Perhaps the Lord knows you’re not yet ready for the next leg of your spiritual journey. Waiting times are opportunities for growth in character, obedience, and faith.

He may also need time to train you for future responsibilities and ministries.

When you intentionally choose to be still, God unleashes His mighty power on your behalf.

He has planned good things for those who wait, and I believe what He has in store for your life will surpass all expectations.

When He knows you’re ready to receive His blessings, they’ll flow into your lap.

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A Believer’s Life…

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Daniel 1:1-21 (KJV)

1In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.
2And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.
3And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes;
4Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
5And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.
6Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
7Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abed–nego.
8But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
9Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.
10And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king.
11Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,
12Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.
13Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.
14So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.
15And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.
16Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.
17As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
18Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.
19And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king.
20And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.
21And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus.

Companies often spend millions of dollars to influence the public.

Along with money, a lot of thought, energy, and strategy go into designing ad campaigns and public relations events that will capture people’s interest.

As believers, we’re involved in a much more important endeavor—that of capturing hearts with gospel truth through godly influence. If we are to have an impact on others, we need to present a consistent witness before them.

Having a strong conviction about God’s Word is the foundation of a godly influence; we must believe the Bible is true and practical in our daily lives.

Daniel clearly did. In today’s reading, he and his friends refused the king’s food and wine. Why? Because Scripture told them not to eat anything offered to idols—a common practice of the time (Ex. 34:15). Daniel put not only himself and his friends but also the commander of the officials in danger of death over the issue of food! But he took such action because he knew the Father wanted him to obey Scripture, no matter the cost.

Following the Bible’s instructions is not usually a matter of life or death.

But doing so can nevertheless place us in uncomfortable situations. If we are to have a godly influence, we must be committed to our convictions.

A believer’s life is often the only example of scriptural principles other people will see.

So, like Daniel, we must make up our mind to follow God, regardless of the circumstances.

And like the people in Daniel’s sphere of influence, those you touch will see the work done for the Lord and glorify Him (Matt. 5:16).

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His Transforming Work…

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Romans 12:1-5 (KJV)

1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
3For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
4For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
5So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

God’s kindness to us is demonstrated by the fact that He doesn’t leave us in the condition we were in before coming to faith.

How tragic it would be if we still thought, felt, and acted the same way we did before receiving Christ as our Savior.

Throughout our lives, the Lord uses His choice tools to shape us into the image of His Son.

Prayer.

By talking to the Lord in open dialogue, we develop a relationship with Him. He becomes not just our Savior, but our friend, and as the intimacy grows, so will our passion to be with Him. Setting aside time for prayer each day will become a delight, not a duty.

God’s Word.

You can’t grow in your Christian life if you keep the Bible closed all week long. No one lives on one meal a week, yet many Christians try to get by with just a Sunday dinner of the Word served up by their pastor. How can we expect God’s truth to do its transforming work if we never let it into our minds and hearts?

The Church.

Christ uses His body of believers as a place for transformation. That’s where we rub against each other and have the rough edges of our character smoothed. It is a place of instruction, accountability, and encouragement.

Are you letting the Lord use His character-shaping tools in your life?

Our culture has no shortage of worldly voices and pressures that fill minds and influence behavior.

Only when we intentionally schedule time for God, His Word, and His people can Christ do His transforming work in our lives.

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Working Off Our Rough Edges…

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Job 23:10-14 (KJV)

10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
11 My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined.
12 Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.
13 But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth.
14 For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with him.

Imagine going to a nice restaurant for dinner. The table is set with linens, fine china, and crystal glasses.

The waiter delivers your plate with a flourish. In the middle of that exquisite plate is a single marshmallow.

What a letdown!

Instead of receiving a nutritious, meaty meal, we are left with a puff of sugar and no satisfaction.

If we become lax, our lives can resemble that disappointing meal.

Instead of being believers with a weighty message full of hope, we can find ourselves with nothing to offer but a bit of fluffy sweetness.

God’s message is meant to nourish and sustain; our family, our friends, and even we ourselves cannot be satisfied by meager provisions.

Our Father wants us to have such impact that people will never be the same after we arrive.

If the Lord is building a valuable message into our lives, we must receive everything that comes our way as from Him.

When a bad event passes through God’s permissive will to affect us, He will bring good from it. (See Rom. 8:28.)

Truthfully, a person can share a message of hope more effectively if he or she has first suffered.

When we are hurting, we seek comfort from people who have faced similar hurt. Likewise, others will trust our comfort if we have known pain.

Whatever the circumstances, we should be evaluating what God is doing in us.

Like a gem polisher, He will work off our rough edges by running us up against tough experiences and people.

When we look for His purposes and lessons, we hasten the time when our life message reflects the hope that is available in Christ Jesus.

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The Culmination of Our Sanctification…

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1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (KJV)

23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

It’s amazing but true that God’s grand plan for your life is far greater than you can imagine.

In fact, this earth-bound existence has us so preoccupied with the demands of life that most of us give little thought to what it will mean to be completely sanctified.

In the Christian life, sanctification is a three-stage process.

At the moment of salvation, God sets us apart for Himself. Then throughout the rest of our earthly life, He works to transform us into the image of His Son.

One day, however, there will be a glorious culmination to our sanctification.

Presently, we all struggle with sin, but when we die, our spirits and souls will ascend to heaven and be completely sinless. Then we’ll see our Savior face to face and experience unimaginable joy.

No longer will we struggle with the pride of life or the lusts of the flesh and the eyes (1 John 2:16).

However, as great as this will be, it’s not yet the final step.

Some day in the future, Jesus will descend from heaven, bringing with Him the souls of those who have died in Christ. They will be united with their resurrected bodies, and believers who are still alive on the earth will be changed (1 Thess. 4:14-17; 1 Cor. 15:51-54).

Then sanctification will be complete–spirit, soul, and body.

This is not a fairy tale, but the believer appointed destiny.

God Himself promises to bring it to pass.

We’ll walk in His presence, spotless and without blame, for all eternity.

Knowing this, how will you live today? The promise of salvation isn’t meant just to give hope, but to spur us on to holy living.

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A Greater Impact…

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Matthew 5:13-16 (KJV)

13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

What statement is your life making?

Every person testifies to personal beliefs and priorities by the way he or she lives.

Jesus said that to the watching world, believers should be like salt and light, which simply cannot be ignored. If we add salt to soup, the improved taste is obvious, and when we bring light into a room, darkness flees.

Our character, conduct, and conversation should make a loud and clear statement about the importance of God, the necessity of Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

To live a life of significance that brings glory to the Lord, believers must begin by reading and studying the Scriptures.

As we meditate on His Word, God reveals Himself, and we gradually absorb His principles into our daily living.

This enables us to make a greater impact on the world.

One good way to learn Scripture’s lessons is by researching the lives of great saints like Abraham, Moses, Daniel, David, Esther, Mary, and Paul. A person could spend many weeks studying each one’s life message, as revealed in the Bible.

Their stories have much to teach us about the way they coped, what they discovered from mistakes, and how they interacted with God.

From these biblical accounts as well as other passages, we learn that our heavenly Father has a goal for our lives.

He desires to conform us to the image of His Son Jesus Christ. Recognizing this, we can set an example of successful godly living for others to follow:

“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).

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A Chalice of Wrath and Judgment…

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Matthew 26:36-46 (KJV)

36Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
37And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
38Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
39And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
40And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
42He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
43And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
44And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
45Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
46 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.

Jesus journeyed into the deepest pit of despair hours before His crucifixion.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, He repeatedly prayed for “the cup” to pass from Him (Matt. 26:39-44).

Christ was staring into a chalice of wrath and judgment that must have made His soul recoil (Isa. 51:17).

Mankind had filled it with the most depraved deeds and thoughts that they could conceive.

According to Scripture, Jesus Christ did not just die for our sin; He became our sin (2 Cor. 5:21). The holy, perfect Lamb of God took upon Himself all that was vile and dark.

Furthermore, Jesus knew the consequences of taking on mankind’s evil.

God’s holiness prevented Him from being in the presence of sin. Therefore, the heavenly Father would have to separate Himself from the Son. Jesus had always enjoyed perfect oneness with God.

To contemplate a wrenching rejection must have been terrifying and heartbreaking.

There was no question that Jesus would obey the will of God.

He would become sin and be separated from the Father, if that’s what was required to save mankind. So, yes, in the garden, He pleaded for another route to our redemption. However, when it was clear that the Father’s answer was, No, this is the only way,

Jesus obediently sacrificed Himself for us.

Jesus Christ sacrificed more than His life.

He exchanged perfection for wickedness and holy union for separation. The Savior did this so we could be transformed into righteous men and women with an eternal future.

No wonder all of heaven exalts Him (Rev. 5:11-14). We must do the same.

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A Powerful Statement…

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 1 Peter 1:17-21 (KJV)

17And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:
18Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
20Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
21Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

The shedding of blood is essential to the Christian faith—without a sacrifice, no one can have a relationship with the heavenly Father.

For that reason, the Lord wove the story of death, renewal, and reconciliation like a red thread through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.

What do you have if you remove the blood from a body?

You’re left with a lifeless corpse, right? The same is true of the Bible. Scripture would be no more than historical literature if we edited all the “unpleasant” parts regarding animal sacrifice, Jesus dying on the cross, or the power of His blood.

God designed the redemption system in such a way that anyone could understand the connection between shed blood and freedom from sin.

The Lord gave detailed instructions for offering a perfect animal sacrifice so that His holiness would be satisfied. God also wanted His followers to understand that sin brought terrible consequences and resulted in death. The first fatality in Scripture was the animal whose skin was used to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness (Gen. 3:21).

Every time an Israelite brought a lamb or a pair of doves to the priest, he recognized that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).

God chose a graphic solution to the world’s sin problem.

Therefore, believers cannot be squeamish about explaining what truly happened at Golgotha.

The words that we choose influence listeners. “Jesus shed His blood for you” is a powerful statement, which is also the message God repeats throughout His Word.

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