The Great Captain of Your Soul…

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1 Timothy 1:18-19 (KJV)

18 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;
19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:

The Lord gives every person a conscience, which is like a radar system meant to send warnings when a behavior or decision might be harmful.

This makes it possible for people to distinguish between what is morally right and morally wrong, especially as it applies to their own life. We ignore the conscience at our own peril.

In a believer, the conscience is a tool of the Holy Spirit; He programs it with principles from God’s Word and sharpens it to respond quickly.

Even so, our radar’s sole purpose is to send a signal.

What happens next is up to us.

Either we ignore the warning, or we stop to hear what the Spirit has to say about the situation.

The Holy Spirit reveals God’s will or reminds us of His principles so we can make a wise decision about the warning bell ringing in our conscience.

Paul’s letter to Timothy mentions people who’d rejected God’s leadership and guidance in their lives—they had paid no attention to the alarm of their conscience (1 Tim. 1:19), and the result was shipwrecked faith.

When something appears on the radar that speaks of disobedience to God, we have to reject that action.

Otherwise, the detection device becomes impaired and won’t work right. If we keep ignoring the alarm, it will eventually go silent.

We all know people who have “run aground” in life. A shipwrecked faith is inevitable when believers ignore their conscience and rationalize or defend disobedience.

It’s far better to turn yourself over to the great captain of your soul, Jesus Christ. His Holy Spirit will guide you correctly.

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Listening and Responding to His Truth…

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James 1:22 (KJV)

22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

Growing in Christ involves far more than just attending church, tithing, and listening to a sermon.

In fact, many believers do these yet remain stagnant in their walk.

There are two elements necessary for us to become more like Jesus: instruction and involvement.

The first of these, learning truth, is vital to a healthy walk with God.

Our Savior proved the importance of instruction by devoting much of His time on earth to it. The apostle Paul is another example, as he wrote letters to educate Christians about godliness.

So how can we gain knowledge and understanding?

One of the most important and effective ways is to read the Word of God.

Scripture instructs us that just as newborns crave milk, we are to desire His Word so that we might grow.

I pray your spiritual thirst will become insatiable.

Yet simply listening to the truth does not mean that we’ve acquired it. I know many people who love attending Bible studies and expanding their knowledge base, but their lives remain unchanged.

Just as today’s passage teaches, we have to apply the Word to our lives.

Even so, actual growth requires more than merely inputting information. It requires action. James 2:26 states, “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”

Are we careless hearers, deceived into thinking that we’re growing?

Or are we listening intently and abiding in the truth?

If we’re truly maturing, our lives will be increasingly Christlike, and our desires will align more closely with God’s heart.

Make sure that you are listening and responding to His truth.

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When We Quit Praying Too Soon…

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John 14:16-18 (KJV)

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.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

One of the greatest hindrances to our prayer life is a lack of perseverance.

Oftentimes we quit praying too soon.

It’s easy to feel that since we’ve asked, the answer to our prayers should immediately be forthcoming or our need should quickly be met. However, God is not a bellhop, just waiting to give us exactly what we want the moment that we want it.

We often have to exercise patience and continue praying.

All Christians are given the Holy Spirit to seal their relationship with God, and it is He who counsels believers on how to pray (Rom. 8:26). We sometimes believe that we need to come to God only when we have a need.

However, prayer is about intimacy with the Father.

If the Lord gave us whatever we wanted as soon as we asked Him, we would not be able to understand the dynamic of our relationship—and might never learn important skills like patience or dependence.

Think of the apostle Paul, who tells us that he implored three times for his “thorn in the flesh” to be removed before God gave him a firm answer of no (2 Cor. 12:7-8).

This probably refers to three protracted periods of time that Paul begged for relief.

When we have been praying for a long time about something and don’t feel as if our words are going anywhere, that is not the time to quit.

We have to pray through those situations.

God is listening attentively to our cries, and His Spirit is our constant companion—even when we cannot “feel” His presence or involvement in our lives.

Instead of ceasing to pray, will you call on the Holy Spirit to aid you in persevering?

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The Humble Attitude of Servanthood…

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Psalms 62:1-2 (KJV)

1 Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation.
2 He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved.

Having been saved by faith in Christ, we express our love and gratitude through devotion to Him.

Regular Bible study and prayer should be an integral part of our daily routine.

In addition, our commitment to the Lord will be revealed through a passion to obey, a spirit of humility, and a heart for service.

Obedience.

David sought to obey God all his life. As a shepherd boy, he faithfully tended the animals in his father’s fields. While king, he set aside his desire to build the temple and let Solomon lead the effort, as God had commanded. Although David lived imperfectly, his desire was to do what the Lord asked. We see from Jesus’ words in John 14:15 that obedience should be our high priority as well: He said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”

Humility.

After David killed Goliath, the crowds shouted praise about the young man. However, he did not become prideful. Instead, he remained in King Saul’s service and waited for God to make him the ruler of Israel. Even as king, he remained humble. He knew that what had been accomplished was because of the Lord’s actions and not his own (2 Sam. 7:18).

Service.

Whether David was a lowly shepherd or a mighty king, his goal was to obey God and serve Him. This man after God’s own heart was fully devoted to his Lord. He sought to know Him and longed to carry out His will.

David’s actions reflected His humble attitude of servanthood and a longing to please his heavenly Father.

Take steps each day to be sure your life expresses commitment to Jesus.

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Man’s Normal State…

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Psalms 119:9-11 (KJV)

9   Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Reaching our full potential begins with a clean heart—one that loves the Lord and desires to obey Him.

However, each of us was born with a nature bent away from God. Jeremiah 17:9 describes the heart as deceitful and inclined towards wickedness.

Pleasing self is man’s normal state.

Salvation changed our hearts and lives. Jesus’ death on the cross paid the penalty for our sin and broke its power over us. By receiving Christ as Savior, we each became a new creation—with a heart sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and a mind that strongly desires to know the Father better.

We also received the Spirit’s power to deny our selfish desires and obey God.

With clean hearts, we can begin to realize the capabilities our loving Lord has given us.

The best way to maintain a clean heart is by meditating on Scripture.

It acts like a mirror in which we see ourselves as God does. Through it, we discover the areas where we have been faithful and also the places where we’ve veered from His path.

Expressing genuine repentance brings God’s forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9).

The heart represents the seat of our mind, will, and emotions. When we strive to keep it pure, we will more easily discern the Lord’s plan, submit our will to His, and follow Him obediently.

Becoming the person God planned for each of us to be requires an intimate relationship with Him and a desire to obey His Word.

Apart from Jesus, we can’t achieve anything of lasting value (John 15:5).

Cooperating with the Holy Spirit’s transforming work will help us keep our hearts clean.

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He Will Intervene…

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2 Chronicles 20:1-4 (KJV)

1 It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle.
2 Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazon–tamar, which is En–gedi.
3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
4 And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

Everyone faces challenges in life.

Whether our struggles are financial, vocational, relational, or physical, we can be certain that nobody is exempt.

Fortunately, we serve a God who is both interested in our problems and able to take care of them.

When trouble looms, prayer is always a good first step to take.

But having a foundation upon which to build our prayers also makes a difference.

Jehoshaphat, the King of Judah, faced an enormous challenge. Three different tribes–the Moabites,Amonites, and Meunites–simultaneously waged war against him. Most leaders would have crumbled under such pressure, or at the very least taken drastic measures, but Jehoshaphat was a wise king.

Though afraid, he did not strike out against his enemies. Instead, knowing that God was interested in his dilemma, he “turned his attention to seek the Lord” and proclaimed a fast throughout the land (2 Chron. 20:1-3).

Jehoshaphat also knew that God, who was greater than any earthly problem, had done miraculous things for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and Daniel.

That same God would help him, too, in his hour of need.

We should never underestimate the Lord’s interest in our affairs.

He helped our ancestors in the Bible, and He can and will help His children today.

It’s easy to think our problems are unimportant in the eyes of God, but He doesn’t feel that way at all.

Whatever concerns us concerns Him. If we, like Jehoshaphat, turn right to God and proclaim His power, He will intervene.

And no matter how great our challenges are, God is greater.

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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 that is the case, we can avail ourselves of the rich rewards that come when we wait.

One very practical blessing is that God strengthens us as we lean on Him during delays.

Isaiah 40:31 tells us that “those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength.” We are given the metaphor of an eagle with wind beneath his wings. It is interesting to note that the words “wind” and “spirit” come from the same Greek word–pneuma.

The spirit of God lifts us up, and His energy and strength sustain us as we abide in Him.

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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The Bondage of Procrastination…

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Acts 24:24-27 (KJV)

24 And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.
25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.
26 He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.
27 But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.

We like to think that our delay tactics are no big deal. 

After all, we tell ourselves, no one is really getting hurt by the things we put off.

Over time, however, our choices to postpone action can develop into a lifelong pattern of procrastination.

In today’s reading, the ruler Felix delayed making a decision about Christ and eventually turned away completely.

To get on track, we must change our attitude about procrastination, admitting it is a serious problem and noticing where we consistently put off action.

It’s important to identify any feelings of doubt and discomfort that we may have, confess that procrastination has a hold in our life, and then decide in our heart to turn away from it.

Tell God, “I want to live by Your schedule and please You by my obedience.”

Repentance should be joined by a commitment to actively embrace new ways of decisive living. Use God’s Word to fight against feelings of doubt and discomfort whenever they arise.

Who we are in Christ and who He is to us are the truths needed to overcome bad habits.

The Bible says that we are new creations, indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit, and we are no longer slaves to sin (Gal. 5:1). Jesus, our Savior, is also our Lord. He provides all we need through His resurrection power (2 Pet. 1:3), and His grace turns our weakness into strength (2 Cor. 12:9). Victory is ours through Him (Rom. 8:37).

When we order our life on the basis of Scripture, we will live by faith rather than feelings.

Jesus offers to set us free from the bondage of procrastination. Don’t put off accepting His invitation!

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