When We Want a Quick Answer…

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Psalm 25:12 (KJV)

12 What man is he that feareth the Lord? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.

How can you be sure you’re making the right decision?

Sometimes it may feel as if God plays hide and seek when you’re trying to know His will, but that’s not the way He operates. The heavenly Father wants to give His children clear direction.

The real question is, What do you need to do to hear His voice?

Clear the pathway.

We have two main obstacles that hinder our discernment: sin in our life and our strong desires about the situation. To receive the Lord’s guidance, we must repent of all known sin and make our desires secondary to His.

Exercise patience.

Sometimes it takes a great deal of strength to stand still when everything within you is shouting, “Hurry! Time is running out!” But if you rush ahead of God, you may miss His will.

Persist in prayer.

The Bible clearly instructs us to keep coming to the Lord with our concerns. As we continue to pray, He will gradually weed out anything confusing until we come to His conclusion about the matter.

Search the Scriptures.

The Word of God has an answer for every need, and the Holy Spirit knows just how to point us in the right direction. I remember times while I was reading the Bible that a verse jumped off the page and supplied the exact answer I needed to make an important decision.

So often when we’re faced with a critical choice, all we want from the Lord is a quick answer.

But He delights to meet with us in order to deepen our relationship with Him.

Don’t let the urgency of your need keep you from enjoying the intimacy of God’s presence as you seek His will.

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When Something Goes Wrong…

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Philippians 4:10-13 (KJV)

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

We usually associate contentment with good conditions.

When our family relationships are great, work is fulfilling, and we have no health or financial problems, then we feel at ease.

But if something goes wrong, our satisfaction vanishes.

That’s not what today’s passage is talking about. Paul had learned to be content no matter what his conditions were.

This is wonderful news for us because it means we aren’t at the mercy of our circumstances; we, too, can learn to be content regardless of what we’re facing. We should remember:

Paul was content because he rested in God’s faithfulness.

He knew the Lord was in full control (Psalm 103:19) and promised to work all things for His children’s good (Romans 8:28). In any and every circumstance, Paul rested in the security of God’s sovereign, loving hand. The apostle also trusted that whatever he needed would be provided in the Lord’s time.

His contentment also flowed from a focus on Christ.

Although he was writing from a Roman prison, Paul wasn’t feeling like a victim or wallowing in self-pity. Throughout the letter to the Philippians, he talked about Jesus. In fact, his greatest pursuit in life was to know Christ, His power, and the fellowship of His sufferings (Romans 3:10). No circumstance could hinder that pursuit. On the contrary, every situation—even when painful or difficult—was an opportunity to know Christ more intimately.

We’ll never be able to find lasting contentment in our circumstances, but we can find it in Christ.

When we surrender our life to Him, our situation may not change, but we will.

No matter what we face, we can be content.

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The Avenue for Fruitful Service…

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Philippians 1:12-25 (KJV)

12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;
13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;
14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:
16 The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:
17 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.
18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.
19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
22But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.
23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:
24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.
25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;

If you had the power to change your circumstances, would you?

Since no one has a life without problems, most of us would immediately say yes. However, the reality is that we must learn to live with some of our difficult circumstances, because only God has the power to alter them—and in His providence, He’s allowed them to remain.

Take the apostle Paul, for example. He had a desire to go to Rome and preach the gospel but didn’t anticipate the route God would use to bring him there.

It began with false accusations in Jerusalem, an appeal to Caesar, a rough sea voyage, and a shipwreck and eventually included time spent in a Roman prison. This was probably not what Paul had envisioned, but as he sat chained to a Roman guard, he wrote the following words to the church in Philippi: “My circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel” (Phil. 1:12).

The very circumstance that may have seemed like an unfair misfortune became the avenue for fruitful service.

What looks like a shipwreck or detour in our plans could actually be God’s ordained path for our lives. It may include financial challenges, health issues, relational conflicts, or any number of other hardships, but there is one certainty to which we can cling:

Jesus Christ is our life, and He never changes.

Conditions around us will fluctuate, but if we belong to Christ, He’ll use every situation to accomplish His will in and through us.

Even when we face matters of life and death, we can share Paul’s desire—that Christ would be exalted in us, whether through life or death.

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The Driving Goals of Your Life…

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John 13:1-15 (KJV)

1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;
3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
5 After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.
11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

Do you equate success with wealth, acclaim, and power?

If we measured by these standards, then Jesus, who was rejected by His community and didn’t even have a house of His own, was a failure.

But, of course, we know that’s not the case.

So God must use something other than these worldly goals to define success.

In fact, Scripture is clear that Jesus Christ is our example–we should strive to be like Him.

So, what exactly was our Savior’s mission?

In today’s passage, we see the answer through His actions: He came to serve.

The disciples, wanting recognition and reward, were arguing about who’d be the greatest in heaven.

In contrast, Jesus took off His outer garment and performed the task of the lowliest servant: He washed the dirty feet of His followers.

The next day, Almighty God was crucified by His own creation. In allowing this, He offered salvation to all–even those who nailed Him to a cross.

Jesus deserved glory but chose sacrifice and pain.

And He asks that we follow His example of service. With the exception of Judas, His disciples obeyed. In fact, they all faced great difficulty and most died brutal deaths because of their faith.

But they willingly walked the path of humility because of what Jesus had taught them: “The last shall be first, and the first last” (Matt. 20:16).

How do you spend your resources and time?

And which topics dominate your thoughts and conversation? These are a few indicators of the driving goals in your life.

You may long for worldly recognition, but God has a higher calling for His children. Ask Him to foster a servant’s attitude in your heart.

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His Power in Our Lives…

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Luke 24:44-53 (KJV)

44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 And ye are witnesses of these things.
49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
50 And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.

The principle we will explore today is basic but so powerful that it determines whether we experience victory in our lives.

You are probably familiar with the book The Little Engine That Could, in which a small engine keeps repeating the words “I think I can.”

By using sheer willpower, she pulls an entire train over the mountain.

That’s a nice children’s story, but the truth of the Christian life is very different. In the real world, our efforts and determination often fall short.

Only by walking in the power of the Holy Spirit can the godly life be achieved.

Throughout the Old Testament, God’s Spirit would temporarily come upon saints for a particular work.

However, after Jesus ascended to heaven, He sent the Spirit to dwell permanently within each believer.

Consider what this means: If you’re a Christian, God is living inside of you, available to help all through life by providing guidance, comfort, and empowerment.

Obedience to Christ is too difficult for anyone relying on his own strength.

And discerning what to do in every situation is far too complicated for a fleshly mind. For some reason, though, Christians often try to live life by depending on their own energy and reasoning.

Defeat and failure are unavoidable without His power in our lives.

Do you recognize your need for the Lord?

Begin each day confessing your dependence upon Him. Ask to be filled with His Spirit so that all you think, do, and say will be an overflow from Him.

Then trust Him to work in mighty ways through you. Watch what almighty God can do.

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When Seeds Begin To Flourish…

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Philippians 2:12-13 (KJV)

12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

What does it mean to “work out your salvation”?

Many people mistakenly think Paul was telling us to work for our salvation. But the apostle was saying something completely different—that your salvation experience isn’t the end of your spiritual journey.

Rather, it’s the catalyst that turned on your “operation mode.”

Once you have trusted Jesus as Savior, you can begin living out what He’s given you, which is His abundant life. If you’ve given your heart to Him, the Holy Spirit now indwells you—He is with you forever.

It is God’s Spirit working in and through you that empowers you to live out your salvation.

The degree to which you yield to Him impacts the work He’ll achieve through you and the changes He will effect in your life.

Let’s say you start reading the Bible and learning. As your faith and relationship with the Lord develop, you will begin to notice Him moving in your life.

When you share your faith and your blessings with others, you’ll notice God working through even more avenues.

Keep following Him, and you will see the seeds He’s planted within you flourish (Isaiah 55:10-11). So when Scripture says we’re to “work out [our] salvation,” it means we need to reverently live out what’s already been given to us—and allow the life of Christ to come fully to fruition.

Your salvation should become an expression of Jesus’ life wherever you are.

As you work it out among your friends and family, on the job, in school, and even with strangers, God’s Spirit will energize you to make a difference and impact others—in other words, to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16).

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Without This Perspective…

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1 Peter 3:13-18 (KJV)

13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?
14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

Persecution has been a common experience in Christianity ever since the apostles first proclaimed the message of salvation.

Even in places that have been blessed with a long period of peace and prosperity, there is no guarantee how long that will continue. And though we may never face severe repercussions like imprisonment or death for our beliefs, we’ve probably all felt the sting of rejection or ridicule.

Whatever form the harassment may take, we should all be prepared to suffer for Christ.

Peter wrote to a group of believers who were treated harshly because of their faith.

His goal was to offer encouragement and a reminder to follow Christ’s example: Though sinless, He suffered in our place to bring us to God. And while the crowd at the cross mocked Him, He never responded harshly. Instead, He patiently suffered in full submission to His Father, “entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:21-23).

Without this perspective, we could quickly descend into self-pity or angry resentment when we’re mistreated.

But Peter reminds us that we are blessed when we suffer for the sake of righteousness.

Not only will we receive a reward in heaven (Matthew 5:11-12), but we may also have an opportunity to gently and reverently be a witness for Christ.

A wise response to persecution flows from an accurate understanding of God’s ways.

Unfair suffering is sometimes a part of His will for us, just as it was for Christ.

But we can trust our Father, knowing that He can work every situation for our good and His glory.

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Becoming a Person of Strong Faith…

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Daniel 1:1-20 (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.the wine…: Heb. the wine of his drink
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.worse…: Heb. saddersort: or, term, or, continuance?
11Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,Melzar: or, the steward
12Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.pulse: Heb. of pulseto eat…: Heb. that we may eat, etc.
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.Daniel…: or, he made Daniel understand
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.

Daniel had unshakeable faith.

His trust in the Lord sustained him when he was uprooted from his home, taken into captivity, and sent to a foreign country. It strengthened him as he served under several kings and faced many challenges.

Knowing God and trusting Him are the two key elements of deep faith.

Daniel, who was part of the Israelite nobility, apparently learned about the Lord from a young age. While he was in captivity, his words and actions demonstrated that he knew the Scriptures and wanted to obey God.

When offered a meal that was incompatible with the dietary laws, he took a great risk by requesting other food.

In verse 9 of today’s passage, we see that God caused the official to show favor to him. Like Daniel, we are to spend our lives learning and carrying out what pleases our heavenly Father (Col. 1:10).

Not only did this young man know what the Scriptures said, but he also trusted the Lord to do as He had promised.

Every time Daniel took a stand for godliness, he was demonstrating his confidence in the heavenly Father. And his friends—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—had unwavering faith as well.

They did not know for sure that the Lord would rescue them from the fiery furnace, but they believed He could and trusted that He’d do what was right (Dan. 3:16-18).

Barriers to unshakeable faith include pride (I won’t admit I need God’s help), arrogance (I know a better way—I don’t have to ask God), and self-sufficiency (I can do it myself without His help).

Which of these is keeping you from becoming a person of strong faith? Confess it and turn toward the Lord.

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