The Crowd’s Taunts…

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Luke 23:32-43 (KJV)

32 And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death.
33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
35 And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.
36 And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar,
37 And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.
38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
43And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

God’s grace is revealed in His willingness to welcome anyone at any time into His kingdom, even at the moment of death.

The repentant thief who hung on a cross next to Jesus had absolutely nothing to offer the Lord—no good works, no faithful service. He couldn’t even be baptized.

In his utterly helpless condition, the only thing he could do was believe. But that was all it took, because faith is the only way to be saved.

Although both thieves began their crucifixion by hurling verbal abuse at Jesus (Matt. 27:44), as the torturous minutes passed, one of them had a change of heart.

His railing against the Savior turned to rebuke of the other criminal, and then to defense of Jesus, admission of his own guilt, and a plea for a place in Christ’s kingdom (Luke 23:40-42).

What was it that turned this mocker into a believer?

Even if he had little prior knowledge of Jesus, the crowd’s taunts supplied him with the information that he needed to be saved.

Scornful onlookers accused Jesus Christ of being exactly who He was: The King of Israel, the Savior of others, and the Son of God. (See Matt. 27:42-43.)

As the condemned man watched and listened, he turned in faith to the only One who could save Him: The One dying for him.

On the hill that day, one man died in his sin, one Man died for sin, and the other was saved out of his sin. There are only two responses to the inevitability of death.

We can either accept or reject Christ’s substitutionary payment for our sin. How will you respond?

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The Key to Significance…

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Luke 12:16-20 (KJV)

16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

The thought of death frightens many people.

But believers have no reason to fear.

Jesus’ empty tomb proves that there is life after the physical body dies.

Unbelievers who dread their demise have two different approaches to life. One group piles up wealth, good deeds, or worldly success in the hope of passing it on to their children or to charity. They expect to “live on” in the memories of those who benefit from their hard work.

But it’s the rare person who is still remembered a few generations later. And none truly live on.

The other group chooses to laugh in the face of death. Their philosophy is “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Cor. 15:32).

Their existence seems pleasurable from the outside, but can you imagine a more futile way to live your life?

God does not intend for us to pass the time with such meaninglessness.

Here’s the key to significance: fulfilling our unique, God-given, eternal purpose.

In this life, we do not labor to leave a physical legacy or waste our days pursuing pleasure. Instead, we help those in need, influence our culture, and reach out to the lost.

And when a believer enters heaven, he or she keeps on working for Jesus.

For the believer, death is not a fearsome end. It is the doorway to a new life of serving the Lord in heaven.

Our days on earth are just the beginning of our existence; they will seem like only a few minutes compared to an eternity spent in His presence.

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Is Laziness A Sin?

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2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 (KJV)

Many people never stop to realize that laziness is a sin.

But like any other landmine, it has the potential to hurt or destroy lives.

To be constantly idle and fruitless is contrary to scriptural teachings.

And anything that goes against God’s Word is a sin.

In the parable of the talents, Jesus said of the servant who’d buried his master’s money, “You wicked, lazy servant!” (See Matt. 25:26 NIV.)

The Lord put both wickedness and slothfulness into the same undesirable category.

The book of Proverbs gives us a description of the lazy person.

First, he is a procrastinator—somebody who puts off what needs to be done (Prov. 20:4). Second, he uses any excuse to avoid work (Prov. 22:13). Third, he wastes time (Prov. 6:9-11). And finally, a slothful person is neglectful and careless with regard to what’s going on around him (Prov. 24:30-32).

Laziness does not fit who we are as believers.

Our Father expects us to live purposefully and work conscientiously; to be lazy and turn out a poor performance damages our testimony. Proverbs 25:19 warns, “Like a bad tooth and an unsteady foot is confidence in a faithless man in time trouble.” A lazy, untrustworthy person leaves tasks unfinished and, as a result, is a poor witness for Christ.

What will unbelievers see in such a life that they would desire for themselves?

We have a wonderful opportunity to participate in God’s work, and that includes performing well in our vocation as a demonstration of obedience.

Choose to work for Him today

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To Live Triumphantly…

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Joshua 1:7 (KJV)

7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.

Too often, Christians shy away from the whole idea of success, thinking,

I’ll just be grateful for whatever the Lord gives me.

Such misguided believers have confused success with greed and discontent. How can this be?

It is because of the overwhelming obsession with the world’s definition of the term.

To most people, the word is equivalent to “wealth” or “power.”

If you stopped the average person on the street and asked whether he is successful, there’s a good chance he would start talking about his career or investments. He might even make a passing reference to his “15 minutes of fame.”

Most people simply have no other frame of reference for the concept. But these parameters have nothing to do with spiritual success.

The heavenly Father calls His children to live triumphantly.

If the pursuit of success were sinful, how could the Lord have made the promise found in Joshua 1:7? Was He promising money? No. Was He promising fame? No.

The Lord was promising success.

For Joshua, this would mean military victory, steadfast faith, and the fulfillment of God’s promise to Moses. Joshua was not concerned with money or fame; rather, he was intensely focused on accomplishing God’s plan for him.

Armed with the power of the Word, Joshua marched boldly ahead and received the Lord’s blessings.

And for that, God called him a “success.”

Do not be confused—the trappings of the world have nothing to do with succeeding spiritually.

Your family, relationships, integrity, faithfulness—these are the things that work together as a godly way of measuring success.

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A Multitude of Choices…

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John 16:12-15 (KJV)

12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

All of God’s children are on a journey.

And as we travel through life en route to our eternal home, every one of us will face a multitude of choices.

Forks in the road and unmarked intersections challenge and frustrate us.

In such circumstances, how can we know which way to go?

Jesus promised to give us an internal and ever-present Guide. Starting at the moment of salvation, everyone who trusts in the Savior is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who promises to lead believers into all the truth.

Like a built-in compass, He will direct us exactly the right way, regardless of the choice. He never makes a mistake.

So you may be thinking, If He is living in me and never makes a wrong choice, why do I keep messing up?

His leadership is always right, but our reception isn’t always clear.

Yielding to the Lord is an essential part of receiving His direction. We cannot tolerate sin and go our own way in one area and expect to receive His guidance in another.

Sin does to our understanding of the Lord’s clear direction what a magnet does to the needle of a compass.

If a magnet is placed next to a compass, the needle will point in a multitude of directions. In the same way, sin will mislead us.

When a decision is unclear, ask yourself these questions: Will Christ be glorified in this choice? Can I do this in Jesus’ name?

If either answer is no, then don’t follow that path, because the Holy Spirit is not guiding you there. His leading always aligns with Scripture and brings glory to Christ.

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Remaining Strong Amid Conflict…

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Romans 14:20-23 (KJV)

20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.
21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
22 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.
23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

A person of conviction has become convinced, by either evidence or argument, that his beliefs are true.

Today, most men and women would rather live by preference than conviction.

They choose to believe something based on certain conditions and circumstances.

When the situation changes, so does their loyalty. In other words, a lot of people vacillate on issues that require a firm resolve.

Contrast this wishy-washy approach with the mindset of the great men and women of Scripture.

Despite many years of unfair treatment, Joseph never wavered in his commitment to godly principles . As a result, he was in the right place at the right time to ensure Israel’s survival (Gen. 50:20).

Daniel, another righteous man in an idolatrous land, earned the trust of foreign kings by standing firm in his beliefs (Dan. 1:20). When his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego also refused to compromise their beliefs, they influenced a king to recognize Jehovah as the one true God (3:29).

As these biblical heroes show, godly convictions can withstand the changing winds of opinion and the persuasive arguments of opponents.

If we are grounded in the Word and trust what God has said, we can stand firm in our beliefs.

Confidence breeds the courage to remain strong amid conflict.

Instead of following your own preferences, choose to live by godly conviction.

The Bible has much to say about the most important aspects of your life.

See if God’s principles and promises hold true.

Through prayer and study, allow Him to firmly root you in solid biblical convictions.

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When We Go Through a Time of Testing…

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James 1:5-8 (KJV)

5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

One of the most important tools in overcoming trials is wisdom.

Ironically, this quality, which seems so rare in our world today, is actually readily and easily available to believers.

Scripture says we simply have to ask, and God will give it generously.

Though wisdom certainly has rewards, it does come with a price.

If we ask God to make us wise, He will allow tests in our life.

Their purpose is not to point out what’s wrong with our faith but, rather, to help us discover whether or not we’re wise.

Temptations and difficulty also allow us to discern our level of devotion to the Lord.

When we go through a time of testing, we learn whether we’re willing to say, “I don’t like this, God, and I don’t understand it, but I’m going to obey You no matter what.”

There’s no way to know whether we would respond that way unless we go through trials that examine our faith.

We grow in our devotion to the heavenly Father by making wise decisions despite opposition and by obeying when it is inconvenient to do so or when temptations are the hardest to resist. Such challenges are similar to a refiner’s fire: They sanctify and purify us, raising to the surface attitudes that we may not realize are in our life.

These situations not only reveal what God is doing in us but also can turn up the heat if we try to muffle the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

When we, through wisdom, allow God to do His work in our life, we will begin to experience blessings, see His power, and feel His love in new ways.

 And this new growth brings great joy!

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Our Attitude During the Struggle…

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James 1:2-4 (KJV)

2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

“Why would a loving heavenly Father allow His children to go through terrible trials and experience sorrow?”

We can understand the reason that this is a common question—it can be baffling when the all-powerful God of love seems to stand by silently while painful things happen to His followers.

Where is He during personal tragedies, natural disasters, financial crises, and other times of heartache?

The Word of God is the only place we can find the real answer. Even so, today’s reading can be hard to understand or accept. One might read James’s exhortation to be joyful in the face of trials and think, Count me out!

Difficulties and joy just don’t seem to go together—that is, unless we understand God’s perspective of what life is about.

When James spoke of joy, he wasn’t referring to a cheery, frivolous feeling. Rather, he was talking about an inner sense of calmness, peace, and confidence in the Lord.

He wasn’t telling us to feel happy about our trials but to know, as we go through them, that God is up to something good in our life.

Our attitude during the struggle will determine what shape we’re in when we come out on the other side.

When our faith gets tested, the end result is endurance; being aware of this gives us hope and strength.

What’s more, the Bible promises God will use trials for our good, so we don’t need to be afraid or anxious.

God’s desire is to bless you, not destroy you.

Adversity can make someone feel like a victim, but as followers of Christ, we can choose to be victors!

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