The Choices We Make…

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Galatians 6:7-10 (KJV)

7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Satan wants us to believe the lie that our actions have no natural results or consequences.

But the truth is that you can’t rebel against God and not reap the fruit of that choice later.

You also can’t obey God without eventually receiving the blessing.

The choices you make are the seeds you plant, and they determine the kind of crop you’re going to harvest in the future.

The heart of this principle is that all our choices are important.

How we think and act matters, and not only for ourselves.

Our choices always impact those around us, for good or bad.

Think about the seeds others sowed that affected your view of yourself and the world. You either rejected or accepted them, and the things you accepted eventually manifested in your life.

At some point, we all have made choices we’ve regretted.

Since consequences never simply evaporate, you may find yourself harassed or even governed by things you’ve seen, said, or participated in.

Yet God will forgive everything you genuinely repent of, and He will work with you to redeem those past choices.

The road to redemption often includes obstacles, but the Holy Spirit can enable you to overcome.

Lay your burden down before the Lord every time it weighs on you, and request that He cleanse and shape you into the person you were created to be.

Ask yourself the following three questions:

What kind of life do I want to live?

What do I want my character to be like?

Who do I want to become years from now?

Let God’s Spirit speak to you about your choices—past, present and future—and His plans for you.

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Someone Else’s Adversity…

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Galatians 6 (KJV)

If you are looking for a way to carry out Christ’s command to love your neighbor, Paul has a suggestion: bear their burdens.

At some point, everyone struggles under the weight of an oppressive situation.

Believers have an obligation to get under that load next to their brothers and sisters.

Jesus sets the pattern for burden bearing.

He calls to Himself all who are heavy-laden and gives them rest (Matt. 11:28-29).

Since God predestines believers to be conformed to Christ’s likeness, we must imitate His care and concern for those who suffer.

Acts 4:32 shows that the early church followed His example. To lift the load of poverty, they pooled their resources so that no one was in need.

Paul’s letters make clear his concern for the physical and spiritual welfare of growing churches.

He fasted and prayed for them and sent missionaries when he could. He felt it was his responsibility to strengthen them, even though he sustained a personal hardship–his thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12:7).

A believer cannot wait until his life is clear of obstacles before reaching out to others, since that day may never come.

Even though we have our own needs, we can do all things through Christ’s strength–including sharing someone else’s adversity (2 Cor. 12:9).

When you’re willing to wade into someone else’s troubles to help that person hold up under the weight, two things happen.

First, he or she receives desperately needed blessings in the form of aid, support, and love. And second, you fulfill God’s command to love a neighbor as yourself.

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An Awesome Divine Way…

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1 John 4:7-12 (KJV)

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Many people simply can’t believe that the Lord loves them.

Others believe that He loves them, but only when they are pleasing Him in some way.

Why is it so hard for us to accept His unconditional love?

One reason is that we have a hard time loving others without condition.

We might say the words “I love you” to our spouse, children, friends, co-workers, or fellow believers but all too often are calculating in our mind whether or not they’ve lived up to our standard.

We sometimes excuse ourselves from loving certain people because their behavior upsets or annoys us.

The fact that we place restrictions on extending favor causes us to wrongly assume that the Lord does likewise.

Another reason is poor self-image.

Considering ourselves unworthy, we refuse to accept God’s love.

You know what? None of us are worthy of the heavenly Father’s goodness and mercy–so you can let go of that excuse once and for all.

We’re not coming to Him based on our worth. Rather, we’re coming to Him based on His grace, and our position is secure in Christ.

To put yourself down as “beneath His grace” is to trample on His loving, generous gift.

God arranged an awesome divine way for us to be reconciled to Him, and His greatest desire is for relationship with each of us.

If you feel unloved or struggle to accept yourself, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of our heavenly Father’s love for you–and to sink it deep into your heart.

Receive the truth that He reveals. It will be a completely different story about your value as an individual.

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Sure and Permanent…

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Romans 8:31-39 (KJV)

31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Far too many relationships in today’s world are uncertain.

Disunity is found in marriages, churches, and international alliances.

Yet there’s one relationship that is sure and permanent.

The Lord designed people for intimate fellowship with Him.

His love toward each of us is evident throughout the Bible.

In fact, there is nothing tangible, intangible, past, present, or future that can separate believers from the Father’s love. John 10:14 draws a comparison between Jesus and a good shepherd–a man whose ultimate task is providing for and protecting the flock.

Christ’s character is one of passionate care for His people.

First John 4:16 clearly states, “God is love.” If we believe the Bible, then we cannot deny this fact about His nature.

We also see evidence of divine love through the Lord’s gifts and actions.

For example, He created us in His image (Gen. 1:26). He sent His only Son to die in our place, and He forgives us of our sin debt (1 Cor. 15:3).

John 15:15 tells us that Christ calls us His friends–and what’s more, when we trust in Jesus, God adopts us and considers us His children (Rom. 8:15).

He even blesses us with an Intercessor and Helper–the Holy Spirit (John 14:26).

The Word is clear: God loves us passionately.

The affection we experience in our families is only a glimpse of the great compassion and care that God has for you.

Think about the people you treasure most.

Imagine what you would be willing to do if they experienced a need. How much more will our heavenly Father be devoted to you!

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His Indisputable Wisdom…

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Judges 7:9-25 (KJV)

7And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.
8So the people took victuals in their hand, and their trumpets: and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent, and retained those three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley.
9And it came to pass the same night, that the Lord said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand.
10But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host:
11And thou shalt hear what they say; and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened to go down unto the host. Then went he down with Phurah his servant unto the outside of the armed men that were in the host.armed men: or, ranks by five
12And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude.
13And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along.
14And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host.
15And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the Lord hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.interpretation: Heb. breaking
16And he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man’s hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers.a trumpet…: Heb. trumpets in the hand of all of themlamps: or, firebrands, or, torches
17And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise: and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so shall ye do.
18When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon.
19So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands.
20And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon.
21And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled.
22And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the Lord set every man’s sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled to Beth–shittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abel–meholah, unto Tabbath.in: or, towardborder: Heb. lip
23And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after the Midianites.
24And Gideon sent messengers throughout all mount Ephraim, saying, Come down against the Midianites, and take before them the waters unto Beth–barah and Jordan. Then all the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and took the waters unto Beth–barah and Jordan.
25And they took two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb; and they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb, and Zeeb they slew at the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan.

God providentially orchestrated each element of His plan for Israel’s success.

However, if Gideon had disobeyed even one divine command, his army would have suffered instant defeat. Although the Lord’s ways may seem risky or illogical, we can always trust His indisputable wisdom and rely on His mighty power.

God encourages the fainthearted.

When the Lord commanded Gideon to attack the enemy, He also provided a way to relieve the leader’s fears. By following God’s directions, Gideon was led to the exact location where he would hear an encouraging message that caused him to bow in worship and arise with great faith.

God removes the things we depend on.

Gideon was marching to war with only 300 men armed with trumpets, pitchers, and torches. Their manpower seemed pitiful, and their weapons appeared useless for battle. With traditional means of victory removed, they could rely only upon the Lord.

God works in the enemy’s camp on our behalf.

Everything is perfectly timed when God is in control—even the parts we cannot see. While Gideon was obeying each divine command, the Lord was working behind the scenes to ensure victory for Israel. In the enemy’s confusion and fear of darkness, panic led to self-destruction.

The key to a victorious Christian life is obedience.

As you follow the Lord, He will faithfully supply you with instructions for each next step. His way may not be the easiest or the most comfortable, but it is always the best.

Rely on Him, and He will lead you to victory.

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When Defeat Seems Imminent…

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Judges 7:1-8 (KJV)

1Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.
2And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.
3Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.
4And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.
5So he brought down the people unto the water: and the Lordsaid unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink.
6And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water.
7And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.
8So the people took victuals in their hand, and their trumpets: and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent, and retained those three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley.

The story of Gideon offers scriptural guidance for times when the odds are overwhelming and defeat seems imminent.

No matter what your challenges are, the Lord is able to demonstrate His awesome power and deliver you.

God uses difficulty to build faith.

Gideon was willing to believe God and go up against an army four times larger than his own. Trusting the Lord is a process that must be learned through experience. At times God takes the people He plans to use and places them in impossible situations—in that way, they discover He is faithful. We may prefer to acquire faith by reading a book, but the Lord knows the best classroom is a place of utter helplessness.

God may require us to do what seems unreasonable.

The Israelites were already outnumbered, but the Lord instructed Gideon to reduce the army to a mere 300 men. That made the odds 450 to one! Although God’s ways may seem illogical to us, His wisdom and power are far greater than ours, and His plan can be trusted.

God leads us to do that which brings Him glory.

Gideon’s army was so small that its men could in no way take credit for the victory. The Lord delights in demonstrating His awesome power and glory through our weakness and inadequacy.

Think of life’s challenges as opportunities for the Lord to build your faith and prepare you for ministry.

He uses those who are willing to obey Him even when the task seems illogical or impossible.

And He takes pleasure in showing His faithfulness to those who trust in Him regardless of the situation.

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A Clearly Laid Out Plan…

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1 John 5:11-15 (KJV)

11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

God never intends to trick or puzzle believers.

He wants us to be confident about our salvation and has clearly laid out the plan. So if uncertainty should arise in your mind, realize the problem isn’t with the Lord.

Someone else, however, does want us confused:

Satan knows that doubts will make us less effective as Christians. Here are four major tactics he uses:

  1. Sin

When we give in to temptation, our enemy piles on feelings of guilt so we’ll think, How can I be saved when I’m living like this? But Scripture assures us there’s no condemnation for believers in Christ (Rom. 8:1).

  1. Ignorance

Unless we’re immersed in God’s Word, it’s easy to have just a hazy notion of what transpired when we came to faith. But if we’re well grounded, we’re less likely to question our salvation in tough times.

  1. Feelings

Once we are saved, nothing can snatch us out of the Father’s hand (John 10:28-29). And yet sorrow and shame can make us want to hide instead of confessing and keeping lines of communication with God clear. (See Gen. 3:8; 1 John 1:9.) Be aware that feelings have nothing to do with the truth of our salvation.

  1. Harassment

Sometimes the devil comes at us like a roaring lion, other times like an angel of light (1 Peter 5:8; 2 Corinthians 11:14). Whatever his approach, he wants to take our eyes off Jesus. Scripture, however, promises that no weapon formed against believers will prosper (Isa. 54:17).

Spending time in God’s Word will help you to stand securely in your salvation.

Then you’ll be better prepared to resist Satan’s strategies

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Our Ultimate Destiny…

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John 15:12-14 (KJV)

12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

Perhaps the most intense love and protective instinct in the experience of mankind is that of parents toward their children.

There is little that most mothers or fathers wouldn’t do for a baby. If a truck posed a threat to the little one, it wouldn’t surprise us if they jumped in front of the moving vehicle without a second thought.

Wouldn’t you like to be cared for with this kind of intensity? You are.

In fact, the Lord’s love toward you is far deeper and more secure than that of even the most caring, tuned-in human parent. And what God did for us is proof. Romans 5:8 says that while we were living in disobedience, He sent His only Son to die on the cross for us.

Think about a father giving up his child for people who choose to rebel against him.

What a tremendous sacrifice and cost!

Jesus’ death took the place of the punishment that we deserved. If we accept this gift and decide to follow God, He no longer sees us as guilty. Rather, He justifies us, makes us righteous, and changes our ultimate destiny: instead of facing everlasting separation from Him, we will enjoy His presence eternally.

What’s more, almighty God adopts us as His children forever.

Our heavenly Father guides, protects, and counsels us as we walk through life–and promises us that we are secure in Him throughout eternity.

How incredible that the Creator of the universe would love you and me in this way!

Do you know and experience the security and sweetness of His care?

Gratitude and praise should flow from your heart. In turn, love others deeply out of thankfulness for the love that you have received.

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