A Reason to Pursue Righteousness…

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Matthew 6:9-13 (KJV)

9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Jesus Christ gave His followers a pattern for prayer that includes seeking forgiveness daily.

The invitation to regular repentance is not a means of renewing our salvation, but rather a maintenance plan for our fellowship with the Lord.

When we trust Jesus as our Savior, our sins are forgiven forever.

The stains from our past, present, and future wrongs are wiped from our record; however, we’re a fallen people so we do continue to commit sin.

With the exception of Jesus Christ, no person is perfect.

Sin is simply a fact of human life.

The Lord’s payment for our transgressions means that we can look forward to an eternity spent in God’s presence instead of getting the punishment we deserve.

On this side of heaven, though, we still have to contend with our tendency to do wrong–and we must also deal with the consequences.

The Lord’s admonition to seek daily forgiveness is a reminder to confess our sins and turn away from them because we are forgiven.

God’s grace is not a license to sin; instead, it’s a reason to pursue righteousness.

Bad attitudes, thoughtless actions, and unkind speech do not fit who we are as children of light. We’re new creatures in Christ, bought for a price and set free to live as partakers of His grace.

Salvation makes a way for us to enter God’s presence, while regular confession and repentance keep the pathway well maintained and free of obstruction (1 John 1:9).

The so-called “sinner’s prayer” need be said only once, but a saint will tap into God’s forgiveness every day of his or her life.

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Gaining Divine Guidance…

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1 John 1:8-10 (KJV)

8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

By forsaking the worldly way, believers have chosen a narrow path (Matt7:13).

However, we’re not wandering blindly on it. The Holy Spirit is our guide. He directs our steps toward new opportunities and offers discernment so we can make wise decisions that keep us on course for God’s will.

It is the nature of this journey that we have to stop often and seek guidance.

God is pleased to respond to earnest requests for direction, as He wants to keep His followers in the center of His will. But many Christians wonder how to pursue divine guidance.

Seeking God’s direction involves a pattern that begins with cleansing—in other words, the first place to look is at ourselves.

Ask, “Father, do You see anything in my life that might interfere with my understanding what You are saying?” Sin shuts down the guidance process: It impedes the power flowing from the Holy Spirit and thereby clouds our judgment.

The Bible teaches that God cleanses unrighteousness when we confess our sins (1 John 1:9).

It also contains a clear warning for those who refuse to relinquish a rebellious habit or attitude—the Lord doesn’t hear their cries (Psalm 66:18). As He reveals problem areas, we should lay them before the cross.

Cleansing is actually woven into the entire process of gaining divine guidance.

The Lord brings sin to our attention as we’re equipped to deal with it.

So on the way to receiving His clear direction, we may revisit this first step often and in that way can continually experience a time of rich spiritual growth and renewal.

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Not to Conquer, But to Serve…

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John 17:18 (KJV)

18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.

Too often, people fall into a wrong belief that they have no real purpose in life.

They get up, go to work, come home, and zone out in front of the TV. Then it’s time to go to sleep and start all over.

Where in this routine are they making time to fulfill their true purpose?

This isn’t the model Jesus set for us.

When we look at the life of Christ, we can clearly see that His coming was no accident and His time was not wasted. He lived His life on target. Scripture shows without a doubt that Jesus came to accomplish a goal.

Many times in the Gospels, Jesus refers to having been sent by the Father.

That word implies focus and intent.

Our Savior didn’t stumble upon the earthly scene.

His coming was not an accident or a happy coincidence. The idea is not that Jesus just appeared; He was sent into the world for a clear purpose.

And what was that purpose?

Matthew 20:28 reveals that Jesus came not to conquer, but to serve.

His life reveals a clear mission, and everything He does in the Gospels points back to His purpose: to reveal the Father, die for sin, save the lost, and provide abundant life.

No matter where He was, who He was with, or what He was doing, the Lord was always mindful of the reason for His coming.

What’s more, just as Jesus was sent by the Father, so we are sent by Christ—to carry His message of hope throughout the world. Is this purpose evident in your daily routine?

Pray for clarity and focus as you serve the Lord today.

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A Truth You Need To Hear…

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1 Samuel 16:6-13 (KJV)

6 And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.#Eliab: called Elihu
7 But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.#outward…: Heb. eyes
8 Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, Neither hath the Lord chosen this.
9 Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And he said, Neither hath the Lord chosen this.#Shammah: Shimeah, also called, Shimma
10 Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The Lord hath not chosen these.
11 And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.#down: Heb. round
12 And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.#of a…: Heb. fair of eyes
13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.

What do you live for each day?

A pay raise?

Retirement?

Then perhaps you’ve discovered the reality that basing aspirations on getting ahead in this world typically ends in disappointment.

People with a misguided sense of direction often wonder why they feel unfulfilled.

Maybe you’ve already realized a goal of saving for the future or moving up the corporate ladder.

You give to charity and volunteer at church, but somehow still feel a sense of insignificance or aimlessness.

If so, there is a truth you need to hear: God gives each of us life for a very specific reason: to serve Him.

Nobody finds inner peace without reconciling this fact.

Our society teaches us that pleasure, prosperity, position, and popularity will make us happy–but living in the service of self always leaves an emptiness no earthly reward can fill.

Besides, worldly philosophy won’t stand the test of time.

Few of us are going to live even 100 years. So whatever we’ll become in this life, we’re in the process of becoming that right now.

Consider David: he was anointed king long before actually assuming the role (1 Sam. 16:12). He spent many years serving the purpose of God in insignificant places while developing into a great man.

As his story shows, discovering God’s purpose for your life is the surest path to success.

Our heavenly Father’s purpose for our lives comes from His heart of love–which is perfect. None of us can foretell the great things He has in store for us, but we can trust His plan completely.

Surrender to Him today and say, “Not my will, Lord, but Yours be done.”

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Overcoming Adversity…

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2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (KJV)

9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Paul learned the secret of being an overcomer: Maintain God’s perspective on the ups and downs of life, and access His power.

The apostle was firmly convinced that having the person of the Holy Spirit living in him meant that God’s power was available to him.

We, too, can learn to be at peace while the storms of life rage around us.

The first step is to believe that the power of God is within us through the presence of His Spirit.

We then must accept that God’s priority for us is transformation into Christ’s image, and not necessarily comfortable circumstances.

Diligently seeking to maintain Jesus’ perspective on trials (John 16:33) is also important.

Until we settle such matters of faith, true contentment will evade us.

Having embraced these truths, we can learn to use the divine power of the risen Christ. The key lies in submitting our will to His. Then, instead of reacting to life based on our own weaknesses and desires, we will switch to responding on the basis of God’s will and the fact that we belong to Christ.

We will be able to consciously surrender ourselves to the Lord and His pattern for living.

Yielding control to the Holy Spirit allows God’s will to be done and enables us to accept it. When we can say, “Lord, whatever You choose to send will be all right with me,” then we will experience the inner peace promised to us. (See John 14:27.)

Divine perspective, surrender, and firm faith—these are the ingredients for the victorious life. Now you know the secret, too.

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Our Earthly Pursuits…

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Psalms 119:1-8 (KJV)

1 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.#undefiled: or, perfect, or, sincere
2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.
3 They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.
4 Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.
5 O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
6 Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.
7 I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.#thy…: Heb. judgments of thy righteousness
8 I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.

We all have ambitions and desires.

And while these are not necessarily wrong, we should analyze our priorities: Where do I invest my time and energy? What or who occupies my thoughts? 

As important as our earthly pursuits, responsibilities, and relationships may be, they cannot compare to the value of a life spent seeking the Lord.

First of all, consider what it means to seek something.

The word connotes a strong desire and an energetic quest to achieve it.

Suppose you discovered a very productive vein of gold on your property. You wouldn’t just stroll out and look at it occasionally. No, you would gather some equipment and diligently go out each day to chip away at the rocks and collect the precious metal.

In the same way, seeking the Lord is not a quick and occasional encounter, but a wholehearted effort to know Him more intimately and follow Him more closely.

Those who unreservedly pursue this kind of fellowship with God are determined to spend time with Him; they also want to forsake anything that could hinder growth in their relationship with the Lord.

God’s committed followers boldly claim His promises and trust Him to fulfill His Word.

Their experiences with the Lord bring amazing satisfaction yet cause them to hunger for more of Him.

The Christian life is meant to be a pursuit of God.

To walk through the door of salvation and stand still, never drawing any closer to Him, is to miss the treasures that are available in Christ.

Those who seek Him soon discover that knowing Him is the greatest reward of all.

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Continually On Guard…

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1 Corinthians 10:12-13 (KJV)

12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Some Christians see a fellow believer fall into sin but fail to acknowledge that they, too, could stumble.

That’s dangerous.

Satan has them right where he wants them: deceived by a false sense of confidence.

Three enemies are constantly at work trying to bring us down—namely, the devil, his world system, and our own treacherous flesh.

Even though believers have a righteous standing before God, we must each, like Paul, acknowledge an internal problem: “sin which dwells in me” (Rom. 7:20). Satan takes full advantage of this weakness, luring us with fleshly and worldly temptations.

He stokes our pride so we become unaware of our own vulnerability.

Christians need to be continually on guard.

Since ignorance—of the nature of sin, the strategies of the enemy, and our own areas of weakness—sets us up for failure, we cannot afford to be careless in our thinking.

Anytime we find ourselves excusing, redefining, or rationalizing sin, we’ve lost our sensitivity to God.

His Word must always fill our minds and direct our steps.

If you’ve drifted from the Lord, turn back to Him by acknowledging your sin and accepting responsibility for it. 

Repentance means changing your mind and going in a different direction—toward God instead of away from Him.

The next step is harder: Respond with gratitude for God’s chastisement.

Every time we fall into sin, our Father lovingly works to bring us back into fellowship with Him.

His discipline may be painful, but it’s always good because it brings us to our senses and reconnects us with God.

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The “Classroom” of His Choice…

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Psalm 34:1-19 (KJV)

1 I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.#Abimelech: or, Achish
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.
4 I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
5 They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.#were lightened: or, they flowed unto him
6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.
8 O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
9 O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.
10 The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.
11 Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.
14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
17 The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.#unto…: Heb. to the broken of heart#of a contrite…: Heb. contrite of spirit
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.

God promises that when we face challenging times, He will keep His divine eye upon us.

He wants to be our teacher and guide through the difficulty, but we must position ourselves to respond to His signals. That is, we need to:

Have a longing to follow God’s way and His way only. 

Scripture compares such yearning to a deer panting for water (Psalm 42:1). The same should be true of us each time we wait for God’s direction instead of acting on our own.

Be willing to be taught by God.

He will transform trials into times of learning when we look to Him for guidance. Such was the case with Hannah as she pleaded for a child (1 Samuel 1:1-20, 1 Samuel 2:1-10). It was also true for Mary and Martha when their brother Lazarus died (John 11:17-27).

We need willing spirits if we are to learn what God wants to teach us in the “classroom” of His choice.

Most of us would opt for a comfortable, pleasurable setting in which to gain understanding. But God knows the best way to instill wisdom and may choose pain and trouble as the place of instruction.

Yield to His will.

Before we know God’s solution, He asks us to commit ourselves to His way. The Lord calls us to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) and to acknowledge that we are helpless without Him (John 15:5). To declare commitment to His way is always best.

Troubles are an unwelcome fact of life, but they can have value.

Often what we wanted to avoid turns out to be the very thing we needed. God asks that we have a tender heart, a teachable spirit, and a yielded will.

Does this describe you?

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