The Fork in The Road…

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Deuteronomy 1:19-40 (KJV)

19 And when we departed from Horeb, we went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which ye saw by the way of the mountain of the Amorites, as the Lord our God commanded us; and we came to Kadesh–barnea.
20 And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the Lord our God doth give unto us.
21 Behold, the Lord thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.
22 And ye came near unto me every one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come.
23 And the saying pleased me well: and I took twelve men of you, one of a tribe:
24 And they turned and went up into the mountain, and came unto the valley of Eshcol, and searched it out.
25 And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down unto us, and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the Lord our God doth give us.
26 Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the Lord your God:
27 And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the Lord hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.
28 Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there.discouraged: Heb. melted
29 Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them.
30 The Lord your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes;
31 And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.
32 Yet in this thing ye did not believe the Lord your God,
33 Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to shew you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day.
34 And the Lord heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and sware, saying,
35 Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers,
36 Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the Lord.wholly…: Heb. fulfilled to go after
37 Also the Lord was angry with me for your sakes, saying, Thou also shalt not go in thither.
38 But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.
39 Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it.
40 But as for you, turn you, and take your journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.

God has given believers personalities, abilities, and spiritual gifts which will equip them to accomplish His specific plans for their lives.

But each one must choose to step out in faith and obedience.

At times the Lord challenges us to do something that seems beyond our ability, but if we back off, we’ll miss His awesome blessings.

Let’s learn from the Israelites who made several choices that led to unbelief, resulting in a lifetime of aimless wandering. They . . .

* Listened to the wrong voices. 

To walk obediently with the Lord, we need to guard ourselves from being swayed by those who don’t understand the greatness of our God. Not only that, but we must also learn to recognize the lies of Satan. He wants us to become ineffective, accomplishing little for the kingdom of God.

* Relied on human perspective.

At times trusting God conflicts with human reasoning. But those who choose to trust Him–even when the external evidence points to an impossibility–will find that He is bigger than any obstacle.

* Let feelings overcome faith. 

Perhaps the biggest hindrances to obedience are fear and inadequacy. An internal focus is a trust killer. The way to overcome our feelings is to rely on the Lord and His promises. He will equip us for whatever He calls us to do.

Every challenging call to obedience is a fork in the road of our lives.

To go the way of unbelief will lead to a lifetime of regret and aimless wandering, but to courageously trust God and do what He says will result in the greatest blessing of your life. The choice is yours.

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We Asked, and Nothing Happened…

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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.

If we believe that God is who He says He is and will do what He has promised, why do so many of us habitually waver in our prayers?

Instead of exercising bold faith, we come to the Lord “hoping” He will hear us and answer our requests, but we’re just not sure He will.

With this kind of thinking, we cannot expect to receive anything from Him.

One reason we are so prone to doubt is that we fail to see God at work in our circumstances.

We asked, and nothing happened.

But the Lord is not some cosmic bellhop who jumps in response to our requests.

He sees past, present, and future and knows the right time for every answer.

His invisible hand is already at work on our behalf–arranging situations to accomplish His will, opening hearts, and preparing us to receive what He wants to give.

Another cause for uncertainty is ignorance.

If we don’t know God’s ways, we will be disappointed in His response.

All too often our prayers are accompanied by expectations of how He will work.

When He fails to intervene according to our timetable or anticipated method, we start to doubt. But placing our faith in the Lord and trusting in His good and perfect ways gives us stability as we wait for His answer.

To overcome doubts, spend time in the Word to learn God’s principles and ways.

Then you’ll begin to grasp what He wants to achieve in your life and how He goes about it.

Examine your past from a biblical perspective–faith will grow as you see the unexpected ways He answered your prayers.

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Submit to His Plan…

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Proverbs 3:1-4 (KJV)

1 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:
2 For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.long…: Heb. years of life
3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
4 So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.

The world claims there are many paths to a successful, rewarding life: education, wealth, public recognition, or even service.

But in the end, true fulfillment comes from the Lord and following His wisdom.

Proverbs says that when we choose to align our heart with God’s truth, we will “find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man” (3:4).

Not only will we have protection, clear guidance, and intimacy with the Father, but we’ll also receive divine power to walk circumspectly before Him.

Wisdom—understanding God’s perspective on situations and responding accordingly—brings us the strength to stand firm in our faith and choose His way.

It also helps us to calmly accept the hardships in our life.

Our sovereign God knows the extent of our difficulties.

Out of His love for us, He never gives us more than we can handle and uses even our darkest hours for His good purposes.

Wise people are convinced this is true; they enjoy supernatural peace and will live in the Lord’s favor (Prov. 8:34-35; Phil. 4:7).

God wants to prosper His people in spiritual as well as material ways.

For that reason, His first priority is to increase our understanding of Him.

Then as we align our heart with His wisdom and will, we can apply His principles not just to our finances but to every facet of life.

The Lord stands ready to pour out His choicest blessings—power, divine favor, spiritual prosperity, and supernatural peace—on those who draw near to Him and submit to His plan.

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Giving God Deadlines…

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Hebrews 6:9-15 (KJV)

9   But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.
10For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
11And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:
12That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
13For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,
14Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.
15And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

Picture yourself waiting in a checkout line that hasn’t moved for ten minutes.

Many of us would feel frustrated. We live in a generation that expects instant results.

Everyone struggles with some degree of impatience.

We’re born with this trait–think about a three-month-old who wants milk in the middle of the night. The inborn reaction is to fuss at the first hint of discomfort and to keep at it until the need is met.

Patterns from our old “flesh” nature make this a continual battle for most people, but one that is very worthwhile to fight.

Let’s consider the biblical definition of patience. It can mean both longsuffering and perseverance, or not giving up and yielding under pressure.

In either case, it reveals itself when we are willing to wait without frustration while suffering or experiencing some strong desire.

In other words, we accept difficult situations without giving God deadlines.

What’s more, patience means accepting what the Lord gives, on His timetable–or what He chooses not to give.

This quality results in inner peace and lack of stress. Meanwhile, we should pray, obey, and persist as we seek God’s direction.

The danger of impatience is that we might miss the Lord’s perfect plan and His blessing.

Only when we trust our Father’s will and timing can we rest peacefully.

What causes you stress?

Carefully examine whether you are taking matters into your own hands or releasing the circumstance to almighty God.

Listen to Psalm 37:7, which says, “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” Seek His way and His timing.

Anything else can be destructive.

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Reluctant to Receive…

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2 Timothy 4:9-22 (KJV)

9   Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me:
10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.
11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.
12 And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus.
13 The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.
14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:
15 Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.
16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.
17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
19 Salute Priscilla and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.
20 Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletus sick.
21 Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren.
22 The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.

Independence is a prized attribute in our culture, but biblically, it isn’t a worthy aspiration.

Nowhere in Scripture will you find the erroneous quote, “God helps those who help themselves.”

The very fact that the Lord formed the church–a community of believers–should tell us that He did not create people for self-sufficiency or isolation.

When we place faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit indwells us so we can have a fulfilling relationship with the Lord and satisfying friendships with one another.

In God’s design, a close, committed biblical friendship between two believers serves to build both toward Christlikeness.

Look at any of the saints in Scripture, and you will find evidence of reliance upon a close friend or confidante for support.

Paul, in particular, spoke freely and often of his dependence upon dear companions and encouraged others to form intimate partnerships as well (2 Tim. 2:22).

It’s interesting to me that our modern culture seems to be headed in the opposite direction.

The farther our nation drifts from God, the more pervasive our self-sufficient attitude becomes.

Neighbors treat each other with suspicion instead of congeniality, and that mindset has invaded the church as well.

We’re hesitant to give to others, which in turn makes us reluctant to receive.

Scripture tells us to love one another, bear our brothers’ burdens, and confess our sins to fellow believers (John 13:34 ; Gal. 6:2; James 5:16). In other words, we’re to give ourselves away to others and receive from them in return.

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Turning Disaster Into Good…

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Deuteronomy 29:29 (KJV)

29 The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Almighty God reserves the right to reveal some things and conceal others.

Although we may not know why natural disasters occur, the biblical truths we do know with absolute certainty allow us to trust the Lord even in times of great suffering. These include:

God is in control (Ps. 103:19).

Nothing in heaven or on earth is outside of His rule and authority. He does not react to events but sovereignly ordains or permits them to run their course. Although we cannot know for certain if He has sent a catastrophe or allowed it, we can trust in His goodness and wisdom.

The Lord loves people and wants them to be saved (John 3:16-17).

Giving His Son for the salvation of the world proves without a doubt that He loves each person. This truth stands firm despite the fact that many reject the Savior. He cares for us, even when we can’t feel it or won’t accept it.

God ordains or permits events for His good purpose (Isa. 46:10).

Though we cannot fully comprehend what He is doing in each incident, every disaster is a wake-up call for humanity. He is alerting us of the need to repent–so the lost can be saved and the saved can be revived to live totally for Him. Catastrophes open our ears to hear from the Lord.

The One who loves us perfectly is in full control, working everything out according to His good purpose.

Knowing this should fill us with hope, even in the midst of crisis situations.

The Lord even promises to turn disaster to good for those who “are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

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Desensitized to Wrongdoing …

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Hebrews 3:12-13 (KJV)

12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Spiritual drifting–the gradual wandering away from God and His will–takes place when a believer ceases to steer toward the Lord.

Like an empty boat set loose upon the waters, he or she makes a slow and lazy glide away from good practices like disciplined obedience, regular Bible study, prayer, and assembling with fellow Christians.

And there are consequences for casting yourself on uncharted and dangerous waters.

A life adrift is outside of God’s will and therefore in sin.

The Holy Spirit pricks a believer’s conscience to send a message when he is off course, but the drifter is prone to ignore such warnings.

If a Christian continually excuses his wandering ways and denies sin, then his conscience gradually numbs.

A person who becomes desensitized to wrongdoing has paved the way for more sinful behavior with less guilt.

Can you imagine a more dangerous situation?

As the drifting believer’s conscience becomes anesthetized, his spiritual ears are also deadened–truth cannot gain entrance because he has invited wrong attitudes and philosophies into his thinking process.

What’s more, his heart hardens to the things of God.

Shrinking away from testimonies about divine power, grace, and mercy, he avoids situations that might reawaken the conscience and stir his spirit to repentance.

People drift from God in search of more–more freedom, choices, and pleasure.

But since the consequences are a hard heart, a numb conscience, and dead ears, what they end up with is less.

The drifting believer sacrifices the victorious life in Christ for an existence devoid of permanent satisfaction.

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Sideswiped by Life’s Circumstances…

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Matthew 14:29-30 (KJV)

29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

The phone rings, and you answer.

A sullen voice informs you of a tragedy.

Your heart is so heavy that you feel as though you could die. What do you do?

Bad news, danger, and pain all cause us to look for help.

As believers, we dwell with the almighty God, who is able to aid us.

At those moments when we are sideswiped by life’s circumstances, we should cry out to Him.

In the Bible, crying out refers to speaking audibly with great emotion concerning an urgent need.

God invites us to use this form of prayer to communicate that we desperately need His mercy.

It takes both faith and humility to share our heart’s concern aloud.

Crying out, then, is a way for God’s children to express trust in the Lord’s ability and willingness to help.

By calling upon Him with such urgency, we also lay down our pride and any attitude of self-sufficiency.

The Word of God assures us that our Father hears our cries and responds.

In Psalm 3:4, for example, David wrote, “I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and He answered from His holy mountain.”

When we call aloud for help in Jesus’ name, we invite His power into the situation. Remember that there is strength in just speaking His name.

When we cry out to God, He may remove the problem immediately, yet we often have to wait for His perfect timing.

Harsh circumstances might even be allowed to remain for His good purposes.

But we can always count on His comfort and presence, which enable us to live with joy and hope.

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