Thursday, January 31, 2013
God is calling us—His children—to take certain risks. He wants us to stop playing it safe and to step out in obedience. While doing so creates uncertainty in our lives, there are some things of which we can be confident.
• We will be challenged. Whether it’s because of complex relationships, hard work, or situations requiring greater faith, God will stretch us. As we take risks, we may feel doubt, indecision, and fear. Or, we might think we’re incapable or inadequate. These aren’t reasons to refuse God’s assignment; they are opportunities to trust the Lord.
• We can count on God’s presence. It is impossible for believers to live a single day without the presence of God. (Heb. 13:5) The relationship we have with Him through Jesus Christ is permanent. Our Father’s love for us is deep and abiding, and His promises are sure. When He calls us to venture outside our “comfort zone,” we can obey because He’s right there at our side.
• The Holy Spirit’s enabling power is ours. The Spirit of God lives within each believer and gives us the divine strength to be victorious. When we falter, He strengthens us. When we stumble, He steadies us. And when we fall, He picks us up.
What is God asking of you that poses a challenge? Remember that when He says to step out amidst uncertainty and take risks, we can rely on His presence and His power to equip us. If you’ve said yes to the challenge, then you’ve become a risk-taker for God!
Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Many Christians like playing it safe by gathering as many facts as possible, analyzing the options, and making choices in order to be reasonably certain of the outcome. We tend to label risk “undesirable” because it could end up causing loss and heartache; we fear unwanted results as much as we dread missing out on our dreams. But not only that—we are also afraid of looking foolish or incompetent, incurring financial difficulty, or facing physical danger. From a human viewpoint, eliminating uncertainty makes sense.
But what is God’s perspective? Are there times that Christians are to take risks? The answer is a resounding yes, when He is the one asking us to step out of our comfort zone. From the Lord’s viewpoint, there is no uncertainty, because He has control over all things and He will never fail to accomplish His good purposes Eph. 1:11.
The Bible is full of real people who took risks to obey the Lord. One was Ananias, whom God sent to minister to the newly converted Saul. Ananias risked his reputation and his life to comply. Another was Saul himself, who was told to preach to the Jews the very gospel he and they had so violently opposed. By focusing on God, His character, and His promises, both men obeyed despite uncertainty, doubt, and fear.
Spiritual maturity is hampered when the Christian refuses to obey God. Sometimes that involves leaving what is safe or familiar. What risk is the Lord calling you to take? He understands your wariness, but He’ll never let you down. Step out in obedience, and watch what He does to grow your faith.
Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Exodus 3:4
I think one of the most important words in this verse is the very first one. When. The Hebrew word means "at the same time." That goes back to verse 3, where Moses said, "I must turn aside."
When did God speak to Moses? At the same moment when Moses turned aside. Now that's simple, isn't it? Moses stopped his forward motion, stepped aside from his responsibilities for only a few brief seconds, and headed in another direction. He moved toward the event that had captured his attention.
And God says, "What's it going to take? What will finally persuade you to stop in your tracks for a minute, turn aside, and consider this event in your life?" What's it going to take before you say, "I'm going to check this out. I'm going to find out what all of this might be saying to me."
Moses did just that, and when he did, he came face to face with his destiny. It was not until Moses turned aside that God spoke. Yet even at that moment, I do not believe it had dawned on the man that God was speaking. As far as Moses was concerned, a bush was speaking. God hadn't introduced Himself yet. Moses had simply heard his name coming out of a flaming shrub and answered back.
"Moses! Moses!" the voice said.
And do you know what Moses answered? The original Hebrew reveals that he spoke only one word: hinaynee, which could be rendered, "I'm here," or, in our terms, "It's me."
Believe it or not, that's all God wanted to hear. It's still true today. That's all He wants to hear from you when He speaks. Don't kid yourself; He's not impressed with you; He's checking out your humility, your sensitivity, your availability. He's looking for someone who will slow down long enough to check out a burning bush. And when He calls, all He asks for is a simple acknowledgement. I'm here, Lord. All present and accounted for.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Though some people use the terms happiness and joy interchangeably, there is a vast difference in their meaning. Both cause a pleasant emotional response, but the former relies entirely upon circumstance. As soon as difficulty arises and pain intrudes, a person ceases to be happy. On the other hand, joy is a gift from God that enables believers to find hope and peace—even when life seemingly falls apart.
At times, however, even Christians live joylessly. Sinful behavior, of course, is one reason. But there can be other causes, too, including regret about past failures, fear of future mishaps, or a pattern of discontentment that’s ingrained in one’s personality.
If you are a follower of Jesus but lack gladness, take a moment to remember who Christ is—and who you are in Him. To begin with, you are saved eternally, and your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. The love of almighty God is unconditional, and His indwelling Spirit will never abandon you. He understands everything that you face and promises to provide for your needs.
When you stop to consider the amazing blessings that are yours in Christ, gratitude will likely overwhelm you. Sadness concerning circumstances may still endure, but the joy of the Lord will carry you through even the deepest pain.
Through life’s good times and bad, does God’s joy sustain you? Or do trials leave you hopeless and discontented? Our Father offers a higher way of living—not without pain but with strength to endure.
Continually remember the vast treasure you have in Him and His promises.
Copyright 2013 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.
Monday, January 28, 2013
Fear enslaves us. Anxiety can color our entire perspective until we live with a constant sense of unease. But fear does not fit who we are as believers. We are children of the living God, who has promised to care for us and work all things for our good. If we choose to live in tense apprehension, then at the end of our life, we’ll look back and wish we had trusted God more. But instead of living in a way that leads to regret, we can be freed from our fear now.
Identify your specific worries and be willing to deal with them. We cannot begin to understand our anxieties until we recognize the basic root of all fear. Certainly, there are numerous causes of fearful concern—ignorance, an inherited mindset, an overactive imagination—but ultimately the root of all our worry is doubt regarding divine sovereignty. God is in control of all things. We are under His power, provision, and protection every single moment of our life. Fear is shattered on the foundational truth of the Lord’s omnipotent control.
Focus on the Lord instead of on fear. When we understand that we are in the hand of our almighty, all-knowing, loving Father, the choice to refocus on Him becomes easier. But we must make this courageous decision every time we face anxiety.
By far the most powerful way to overcome fear is to meditate on the Word of God. In times of trouble, we must hold fast to the truths of Scripture. The Bible is intended to be an immovable anchor for your life. As God’s thoughts become part of your own thinking, fear will fade and faith will grow.
But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
For further study - II Thessalonians 2:8-17
There are two great truths that we will confront in our reading for today. The first is revealed in II Thessalonians 2:13. Within the words of our key verse, we find the answer to the centuries old debate about election and free will.
I may be introducing to you a discussion that you've never heard of in your Christian experience. Let me suggest that if that is the case, just file this away. It may be that you will need this insight for another time when you may be confronted with this issue. The Lord has the greatest way of reminding us of these things at just the right time when we need them.
II Thessalonians 2:13 speaks of how both election, (God's plan of bringing people to Himself), and free will, (our experience of accepting what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us to bring us to salvation), work together. Notice how this verse combines the two in the process.
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians that God, from the very beginning, has chosen each of us to be saved. The Lord uses the Holy Spirit to bring us to the point of conviction, revealing to us our need for a Saviour, because we are sinners.
The Bible teaches that we are all sinners, born that way. Have you ever noticed that no one ever sat us down and taught us how to lie? We just knew how to lie because we were born that way.
The Holy Spirit convicts those of us whom God has chosen for salvation, however, the process doesn't stop there. The verse continues to tell us that we then must believe in the "truth". By exercising belief we are exercising our own free will. This is our choice, to receive that which He has chosen to give us, salvation.
I hope this doesn't seem too simple, but God doesn't want it too hard for us to understand. He wants us to see how He is working in our lives. That is what Paul was writing on this issue in his letter to the Thessalonians. Remember that these believers were still fairly "young in the faith" Christians.
The other great principle found in the extended reading for our devotional today is that of the "second chance". Verses 8 to 12 reveal the truth about the possibility that after the Rapture there may be a "second chance" to get saved.
Saturday, January 26, 2013
Humans have legitimate reasons to live in fear—our world has many dangers. But although our environment is frightening, Christians are not to accept fear as a way of life. God’s awesome promises allow us to live peacefully in our surroundings.
For our protection, God has instilled some natural apprehensions in us, like a fear of snakes or deep water. Our instinctive concern teaches us to respect these things until we know how to survive an encounter with them. The Creator also gave us a warning system so we’d react quickly to danger. For instance, if a car speeds toward us, an instant reaction of alarm could save our life.
In other words, some fears protect us. But constant, all-consuming dread is unhealthy. While we may feel afraid if we spot a snake, most of us don’t worry much about having such encounters. Some people anguish over dangers that might occur—instead of entrusting loved ones to God, they anxiously imagine all the ways injury might occur.
As anxiety grows, uncertainty builds up until it hinders our relationship with God. Fears about the welfare of loved ones, financial well-being, or eternal security all result from doubt regarding the Lord’s provision. Then our attention is centered on our concerns rather than on the One who promises to hold us in His hand.
The Lord offers us strength because He understands how fear can torment us. Don’t allow worry to blind you to His promises and thereby deprive you of the help that He always has available. The Bible reminds us: “My God shall supply all your needs” Phil. 4:19.
Friday, January 25, 2013
Many people mistake temptation for the actual act of sin, yet these two things are not the same. If we are to achieve victory in the Christian life, we must learn to distinguish between them.
For example, it is important to understand that the enticement to sin does not necessarily mean that the act of sin must follow. Rather, temptation involves a process through which our hearts, minds, and bodies are preparing for the sinful behavior to take place. Interrupting this process can stop the growing temptation dead in its tracks.
Let me describe the progression for you. It begins with something as simple as a glance. Isn’t this how David’s sin with Bathsheba all started in 2 Samuel 11:1-5? The enticement entered his thinking by way of the eyes, and then he began to nurse his desire.
Once the image is set in our mind, we make a choice: Am I going to continue with this desire or not? As these thoughts tumble through our minds, we begin to fantasize and then develop a great desire for the object.
After that come decision and pursuit, through which we do whatever is necessary to achieve our goal. Finally, this process culminates with the sinful action.
Sin doesn’t happen immediately; it’s the result of a process. What this means is, you have ability to stop the momentum at any time. Ask the Lord for the awareness to perceive these steps as they happen, so that you might put an end to the sinful chain of events before it’s too late.
Thursday, January 24, 2013
We all face key moments of decision, when our actions can lead to lasting consequences. The issue is, will you be ready when such a time comes?
David wasn’t prepared for the moment of decision that suddenly faced him. At a time when he was restless, lonely, and preoccupied with worries, temptation and sin caught him unprepared. We can guard ourselves against these moments of weakness by remembering one simple word: H-A-L-T.
First, never allow yourself to get too hungry. When the body is weak from lack of food, poor decisions are likely to follow. Respect your body and provide the sustenance it needs.
Second, don’t permit yourself to get too angry. Anger can cloud judgment and lead to regrettable decisions.
A third caution is not to let yourself become too lonely. When you feel isolated, you may find yourself willing to do almost anything to feel accepted or loved.
Fourth, don’t allow yourself to get too tired. Sleep is essential for wise decisions. When you deprive your mind and body of its necessary “down time,” poor choices become probable.
Being wise in these four areas can prevent thoughts of “If only I hadn’t . . .” later on.
Commit now never to make important decisions when you are too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. Instead, be honest at those times and admit you’re unprepared to make sound judgments. Then delay the decision until you can approach it with prayer, patience, and godly wisdom.
Jimmy De Young
I Thessalonians 4:17
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
For further study - I Thessalonians 4:1-18
I could hardly wait to get to this chapter in 1 Thessalonians for our devotional time. The "hope" of my life and indeed the main prayer of my life is that the Rapture will happen in my lifetime.
I have traveled across this world telling people of the Rapture and then teaching the prophetic passages of His Word to help everyone that I have contacted to understand that today could well be the day of the Rapture.
We'll look together at the description of how the Rapture will play out in a moment, but first just a word or two about Paul's message to this people in Thessalonica who he had led to the Lord just three weeks before he wrote this letter to them.
Paul tells these new Christians, as well as us long-time Christians, that we will "abound" if we will walk with the purpose of "pleasing God", verse 1. Paul then tells them, and us, what the will of God is for our lives, verses 3-12.
No longer do we have to say "I wish I knew the will of God for my life". The best way to be in God's will is to follow the instructions in these verses.
Now to the Rapture, actually the word "rapture" is not used in this passage, in fact the word rapture is not used in the entire Bible. Don't be concerned about that, the word "trinity", the term for God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is not used in the Bible. The truth of the matter is that the word "Bible" is not used in the Bible.
The word "rapture" comes from the Latin word for the phrase "caught up" in verse 17. The Latin word, "rapturo," in verse 17, is how we get the word Rapture. I Corinthians 15 says, "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye", we will be caught up to be with the Lord.
Verse 14 says that only saved people go to be with the Lord at the Rapture. Verse 16 says that those Christians, which have already died, they will be the first ones to respond to the Lord's shout, the sound of the trumpet and the voice of the archangel.
It is after the "dead in Christ" have been raised and start towards heaven that the rest of us Christians move from this earthly home to a heavenly home, never to leave the Lord's presence, forever, verse 17.
This event, the Rapture, could happen at any moment and with the prophetic events recorded in God's Word seemingly coming to pass, the Rapture could happen today. Even so come, Lord Jesus.
PRAYER THOT: Lord, my hearts desire is for the Rapture to happen in my lifetime. Help me to live every day as if it would be today.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Unlike God’s “determined will,” His “desired will” is resistible and conditional. We have a choice to do things our way or His. The Lord designs a specific plan utilizing a believer’s unique gifts and talents for the kingdom. He wants to share His desired will so that we can live successfully.
First, God wants us to follow the moral laws, like the Ten Commandments, which apply to everyone. Throughout Scripture, we find principles that can add joy and meaning to our lives, such as the instruction always to give thanks and put aside bitterness in favor of forgiveness. 1 Thess. 5:18; Eph. 4:31-32
Following those basic principles lets us discover the second part of God’s desired will—His intentions for our personal life. One good example is vocation. Before our birth, God predestined us to have specific skills, talents, and spiritual gifts, which suit us for certain types of work. Our vocation may change, but with divine guidance, our work will consistently “fit” us.
Finally, God’s desired will is active in our daily life. What interests us interests Him, no matter how trivial. For example, we’ve all sent up desperate prayers when we couldn’t locate something we needed. Often we find the object within moments because a caring Father leads us right to it.
The Lord wants to work in our life, and He’ll send blessings if we follow Him. Remember, He’s a loving Father; what’s more, He is all-knowing and all-powerful—that is an unbeatable combination, no matter what comes against us. It is impossible to get less than the best when we do things His way.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Believers who feel frustrated by the Christian life lack two critical pieces of knowledge: an understanding of God’s will and an awareness of the steps to discover His plan for our lives. Over the next couple of days, we will study the nature of God’s intentions and how to access them.
Let’s begin by taking a look at the “determined will” of God, which includes His unchangeable plans for the world. As the sovereign ruler, He is in total control— no government rises to power and no physical ailment occurs unless He allows it. He is determined to carry out the plan that He developed long before creation.
The Lord reveals very little of His determined will to mankind. We can anticipate only those events He has disclosed, such as Christ’s return and the great white throne judgment. Rev. 19:11; 20:11-15 Much of the knowledge we have comes from our experience and Bible reading. We know, for example, that the Lord has given us limited free will and that He has a plan for redeeming us from the sin in our life.
The Lord will have His way, whether we believe in His sovereignty or not. His plan is far bigger than we can grasp, and it was designed in a way that will glorify Him while revealing our need for Him.
God’s purpose is His glory. Because our limited human perspective sees only the evil of crime, disease, and war, people wonder how He can allow these. But we know “God causes all things to work together for good” Rom. 8:28. Just look at the cross—God’s greatest expression of good and glory!
Monday, January 21, 2013
As Christians, we have a responsibility to pray for those in authority over us—fathers, pastors, and leaders. When you talk to God about the President, ask that he will . . .
1. Realize his personal sinfulness and daily need of God’s cleansing power.
2. Recognize his personal inadequacy for the task and therefore depend upon the Lord.
3. Reject all counsel that violates spiritual principles and then trust the Lord to validate him.
4. Resist pressure from individuals or special interest groups that would have him act in violation of his conscience or godly principles.
5. Work at reversing our country’s trends toward socialism and humanism, both of which dethrone the Lord and deify man.
6. Be ready to forsake his political career and personal ambition for the best interest of the nation.
7. Rely upon the Word of God as his source of strength and key to success.
8. Bring dignity, honor, trustworthiness, and righteousness to the office of the presidency.
9. Be a good example, especially to the fathers and sons of the nation.
10. Be reminded daily that he is accountable to Almighty God for his attitudes, actions, and motivations while in office.
Leading a country is a very important, demanding job. The President and other elected officials need our prayers. But to be effective, our requests must be more specific than “Lord, bless the President” or “God, help our leaders do a good job.” The above list is a good way to start.
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
For further study - Colossians 3:15-25
As we approach our extended reading for today reflect with me on our devotional in Colossians the last time we were in the book, which was the first fifteen verses of Colossians 3 .
Verses 2, 3 and 4 exhort us to set our focus and affections on the heavens where Jesus awaits the command from His Father to call the body of Christ, the Church, up to be with Him. Verse 4 says we will appear at that time with Him in the heavenlies. What a glorious hope that is for each of us as believers.
Now to our reading for today, in verse 16 we see Paul exhorts us to "let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly". That means to first read God's Word and then meditate upon what we have read. Finally we internalize the Word of God, as we apply every bit of it to our daily lifestyle.
In verses 15-22 Paul tells us what will happen when the Word does dwell in us richly. Our music will be God-honoring music. Music, by the way, is not for evangelism. In the 500 references to music in the Bible they all deal with worshiping the Lord and not for evangelizing lost people. Therefore, we don't need to mimic the world's music.
If the Word fills us, we will use psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to teach each other and admonish each other in our worship of the Lord. What we do, we do in the name of the Lord,
Saturday, January 19, 2013
Yesterday we looked at the various ways people approach God’s Word. If you assessed how you listen to His instructions and determined there’s room for improvement, be encouraged—that realization is the first step toward becoming more sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Now, commit to . . .
• Listen carefully. By an act of your will, choose to listen purposefully when you read the Bible or hear it preached. Decide to pray without ceasing as you go through your day 1 Thess. 5:17.
• Resist all outside clutter. One of Satan’s strategies is to get our minds so occupied with peripheral concerns that we compromise our reliance upon Christ. So much of what we deem important plummets down the priority scale when held against the light of truth.
• Evaluate your life against what you’re hearing in Scripture. This means taking the initiative to hold up your life against the standard of God’s truth—and agreeing to making any necessary changes.
• Apply the truths that the Holy Spirit impresses upon your heart. This is a decision you make—one that indicates just how serious you are about walking with Jesus Christ. God will honor your stepping out in faith, and you’ll see that He can be fully trusted.
Listening to what the Word of God says is important, but life transformation won’t happen unless you personally apply its teachings. Strive to obey Scripture and the Lord’s leading every time. When you do, He takes responsibility for the results, and you will find Him trustworthy.
This post was modified from its original form on 19 Jan, 5:17
Friday, January 18, 2013
Though it contains essential information for every human life, people approach the Bible very differently. Today’s passage identifies four types of listeners:
• Closed mind. This does not exclusively describe unbelievers. Christians, too, can listen passively, without intending to apply what they hear. The seed can’t germinate because the soil’s surface is too hard. Such believers remain shallow until they decide to pay attention to God and obey.
• Clouded mind. Represented by rocky soil, the clouded mind will hear God’s Word and get excited. But then the person doesn’t take time to study, grow roots, and let the truth sink into his heart. With little doctrinal foundation or knowledge of God’s promises, he has difficulty withstanding the harshness of life.
• Cluttered mind. The worries of life are to the Christian heart what briers, thorns, and thickets are to a garden. A preoccupied mind has little or no room for God’s Word to sprout and thrive.
• Committed mind. God can do great things through someone whose mind is like fertile soil. The most intellectual person in the world, if not teachable, will miss the truth of the gospel, whereas even a young child who is willing to listen and learn will be transformed.
All of us would like to have the blessing described in today’s reading—a huge return for what is sown. For that to be true of our life, we need to take an honest look to see if we approach biblical principles with a teachable Spirit. As Jesus said, “He who has ears, let him hear.”
Fight the Good Fight
By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.
With the stroke of a pen, Emperor Constantine issued the edict of Milan in 313 A.D., and Christianity became fashionable instead of a source of persecution. Suddenly, church membership rolls grew as thousands joined churches after professing faith in Christ. However, many of these professions of faith were not sincere. Only God, the searcher of hearts, knows how many remained pagan at heart. However, their harmful influence in the church soon became apparent.
A life lived for Jesus Christ is not usually outlined with popularity or ease. Salvation cannot be earned or received by any other way than by coming to the Lord and seeking His forgiveness of sin. You can do nothing to earn God’s gift of grace.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Are you, like Asaph in Psalm 73, feeling as if you are the only person suffering and sacrificing for the cause of Christ? Be patient. Don’t give up. God will reward your faithfulness and honor your perseverance. Paul said:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. ... We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Timothy 4:7, 2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
Be content to trust God for your deliverance. Trust Him to keep you safe in the palm of His hand.
Prayer: Lord, may I fight the good fight of faith. Thank you for never leaving or forsaking me and for the grace you have given me in the gift of Your salvation. I pray I will never take my salvation or Your Truth for granted. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
“Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Thursday, January 17, 2013
The basic principle of real prosperity is elementary. In fact, it boils down to four simple words: God owns it all.
Even for mature Christians, this truth can be difficult to grasp fully and put into practice. After all, it runs counter to the thinking of modern culture. However, Scripture repeatedly reminds us that God is the Creator and therefore the one who rightfully holds the deed to everything in creation.
According to Haggai 2:8, the Lord also lays claim to the silver and gold—in other words, all currency is His. Psalm 50:10 puts it a different way, telling us that He owns “the cattle on a thousand hills.”
Since God consistently reiterates that He is the exclusive owner of all creation, we should respond appropriately when using His resources—including money. In other words, we should have exactly the same response as when using something that belongs to our neighbors: ask permission to use it; honor the owner’s instructions and do just as he has designated; take no unnecessary risks; handle it the way we would want others to handle one of our possessions; and return it in a timely manner, preferably in better condition or more plentiful than before.
And then say “Thank You.”
First Timothy 6:10 says that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Understanding that God is the rightful owner and we are simply managers of His resources will help us have the proper attitude about wealth—namely, gratefulness rather than entitlement.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
God knew how obsessively the issue of money would occupy our minds, so He placed special emphasis on it in His Word.
Did you know there are some 2,350 verses about money—more than any other topic? And did you realize more than half of Jesus’ parables use money as object lessons? Knowing where our greatest interest and temptations would be, God spelled out what we would need to know in order to handle our resources with His wisdom.
The Lord is personally interested in the details of our life, including our financial security. That is why His Word includes instructions about giving and attitudes He wants us to have. We are to give . . .
• Generously. Most likely, you have what some would view as blessing beyond measure. Many who have abundance succumb to a temptation to hoard. Honor God with your first fruits—right off the top—and then bless others with your abundance.
• Cheerfully. We should put the Lord’s monetary principles into effect joyfully, not under compulsion or guilt. Remember that He knows your heart and motives.
• Confidently.God keeps His promises. Malachi 3:10 tells us that when we give to support the Lord’s work, He will open the windows of heaven and impact every area of your life.
See what Scripture has to say about money and its usage, and put into practice biblical principles for handling treasure. God wants His children to take steps to follow Him. When He sees that you are being faithful in small ways, He will trust you in greater ways.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Sin is a divider. That’s what separated mankind from the Lord in the garden, and it has been fracturing relationships ever since. It’s also the reason that God considers reconciliation so important. He wants to re-establish an intimate relationship with fallen humanity. But His desires for His children don’t end with their salvation experience. He also wants His church to be a shining example of unity for all to see.
The last time Christ prayed for His followers before going to the cross, He asked “that they may all be one” as the Father and Son are one (v. 21). Despite the fact that we cannot attain perfect unity with God until we reach heaven, we do have the capacity to walk in harmony with Him by living in obedience to His Holy Spirit within us.
The other aspect of oneness that God desires for us is unity with one another within His church. We will always have differences in what we prefer and how we interpret certain Bible passages, but our common identity as Christians is based on the essential truths of the faith as revealed in God’s Word. The unity Christ advocates is possible only when each member of His body walks in submission to the Spirit so that together they can achieve the purposes of God and reflect Christ’s character in their behavior.
Ask the Lord to produce a desire for unity within your heart. When you’re tempted to demand your own way, remember what’s at stake. Accord in a local church allows God to do His work effectively through that congregation, but it’s also an attractive witness that draws the lost world to Christ.
Monday, January 14, 2013
Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus was packed with symbolism. He compared salvation to a second birth and likened the Holy Spirit’s work to the wind. But then the Lord used an Old Testament illustration that might seem odd to modern readers— He said the Son of Man must be lifted up, just as Moses lifted the bronze serpent (Num. 21:1-9).
Nicodemus would have been familiar with the story: en route to the Promised Land, the Israelites once complained about going the long way around enemy territory. God responded by sending poisonous snakes into their midst. A bite victim would die unless he or she looked at the bronze serpent hanging from a pole in the camp. The statue was a symbolic representation of God’s presence among the Israelites as well as a reminder that He was their deliverer.
While we might not mix spiritual birth and a snake on a pole in one testimony, Jesus did so for a good reason. These metaphors describe related events. The Messiah was explaining that He must be lifted onto the cross as a sacrifice for all of mankind’s wrongs. A new birth is impossible unless somebody pays the price for our sinful condition. Those who look to Jesus and believe will be forgiven, saved, and born again.
Jesus’ message to Nicodemus becomes clear when we understand how the pieces fit together. The Savior is saying that He must die on the cross so that sinful human beings can be born again. Have you looked to Jesus Christ for salvation? He is the only way to new life.
For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
For further study - Philippians 3:10-21
The book of Philippians is one of the richest New Testament books you can read. I have a Bible study series that I teach which I have entitled, "Personal Power for Practical People from Philippians". As you may notice, I love alliteration. However, my series title does describe this great little book. I recommend it to you for your own personal Bible study.
To prove my point, just read our extended reading for today and you will see that Paul is looking for the Rapture to happen. This is found in verses 11,20 and 21. Verse 11 is the statement of his desire to be called out of the grave if he should die before the Rapture, to then be caught up into the heavens.
The preceding verse reveals how Paul wants to live until the Rapture does happen. Paul's focus is to "know Him" which means to really come to a deep knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Paul also repeats a principle that is available to each of us which he wrote about in his letter to the Ephesians, Ephesians 1:19-20. He wrote the Ephesians that we can know the "power of the Resurrection", this is the power to live today, which we can receive from the Lord, by faith.
Paul knows that there has been much suffering in his life and ministry by the time he writes Philippians and he acknowledges that he wants to be able to understand the "fellowship with Christ" in that suffering.
The bottom line in verse 10 is that he, and we, must be ready to conform to the will of the Lord even as Jesus conformed to His Father's will and died for us on the cross.
Now that is only the first verse of our extended reading. I told you this book was rich. Look atverses 13-14. Paul states that he is focused on the future and what it might hold for us. He says, "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." In this verse he refers to the "prize" that he hopes to get at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Therefore, verse 13, he has "one thing" he does. He forgets the past failures and looks to the future and how he can live so that he does get that "prize" at the judgment seat.
Again, I must remind you this is all in the context of Paul's awareness of what he considers, at the time of the writing of Philippians, to be the nearness of the Rapture. Paul reminds us all that our "conversation", our citizenship is not here on earth but is in heaven from where we look for Jesus to call us to be with Him.
It is when the Rapture happens and we go to be with Jesus that these old bodies of ours are changed to be like "His glorious body". What a day that will be, and it could be today that the Rapture happens. Keep looking up!
PRAYER THOT: Thank you, Lord, for such a rich passage of Scripture that You have given us through your dear servant Paul. Help me to appropriate all the truths of this passage for my own daily living.
Saturday, January 12, 2013
Nicodemus would probably be welcome at any church today. He seems like an ideal member.....principled, knowledgeable, morally upstanding, courteous, and humble. However, Nicodemus had two big problems despite all of that outward religious appeal: first, he was blind to the truth, and second, he was spiritually dead.
The man was lost. That is, he did not have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. As a Pharisee, Nicodemus adhered to strict Jewish codes and laws, so he was certainly religious. But the problem of the lost person is not attitudes, conduct, or even character. We can change and control those things through sheer determination, and many folks do. What people really need is a change of their basic nature. We come into this world with a natural “bent” away from God.
Jesus explained to the observant rabbi that all his outward goodness couldn’t erase, replace, or change his nature. Instead, every person who desires to serve God must be born again. The Lord promised that if Nicodemus received Him as Savior, then he would enter into a brand-new life. His old sinful nature would be transformed so that he could have a real relationship with God. Instead of appearing to be a religious man, Nicodemus would be a true believer.
No one gets into heaven on the strength of good works and kind behavior. When we stand before God, the only thing that will matter is whether our old sin nature has been replaced. We want to show Him the living Spirit we received when Jesus came into our life.
This post was modified from its original form on 12 Jan, 6:25
Friday, January 11, 2013
Like the father of the prodigal son, our heavenly Father will not force us to remain with Him. If we ignore His guiding Holy Spirit and insist on following an ungodly path, He’ll let us go our own way.
Examining the parable, we learn what happens if we move outside of God’s plan.
• Our fellowship with the Father is significantly affected.The wayward son was no longer in close contact with his dad; their relationship was not as important to him as it had been. If we wander and make ourselves higher priority than the Lord, we will also experience a disconnect with our heavenly Father. As Christians, we cannot move off God’s chosen path without first closing our mind and heart to His truth and His call on our lives.
• Our resources—time, talent, and treasure—are wasted. The son squandered his money on frivolous things and ended up worse off than the laborers at his father’s house. God has bestowed spiritual gifts and material resources to build His kingdom, and He’s also provided His Spirit to offer guidance. Pursuing our own plan wastes what He has given us.
• Our deepest needs go unmet. Chasing after dreams that are outside of the Lord’s purposes will lead to discontent. Only in Christ can we find true fulfillment.
A great weariness will overtake us if we live apart from God. Poor choices can result in lifelong regrets, but they don’t have to dictate our future. The heavenly Father will welcome us with great joy and love when we repent and turn back to Him. Have you wandered away? He’s waiting for you.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
As believers, we are truly wealthy because of the riches and grace that are ours in Christ. We have been chosen, redeemed, justified, united with God, and made citizens of heaven. But there is even more to include on our list.
Jesus told the disciples that His departure was necessary: it would actually benefit His followers, as He could then send the third member of the Trinity to indwell each believer (John 16:7). Upon salvation, we are given the Holy Spirit, who seals us as God’s children, comforts us in our pain, and teaches us how to live righteously.
Through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, we become more and more like Jesus, which is another blessing from the Lord. His Spirit transforms us from the inside out and produces godly fruit in our life (Gal. 5:22-23). He also empowers us to choose righteous living and break unholy habits.
Another amazing blessing for Christians is access to the throne of grace. At any time, we can enter into God’s presence through prayer and worship. And resurrection and glorification are also treasures for the child of God. Just as the Savior’s body was resurrected, our bodies will likewise be raised; in heaven, they will be made perfect, and we will be free from sin’s presence forever.
Our wealth in Christ surpasses anything this world offers. Don’t let yourself be seduced by earthly thinking, which values comfort and pleasure above all else. Instead, treasure who you are in Christ and what you have been given. When you do, peace and contentment will become yours.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Today’s passage seems to make an impossible demand: how on earth can we “consider it all joy” when we face terrible hardships? Doesn’t this admonition belittle our honest troubles and concerns?
Scripture never instructs us to ignore situations that cause us heartaches, doubt, fear, or worry. In fact, the Bible is quite honest about what we as Christians can expect from a life devoted to Christ. Jesus proclaimed, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33niv). Because we seek to live by biblical values, the world does not understand our motivation and will therefore often stand against us.
How, then, can we rejoice when we face trouble? It is through our hardships that Christ often makes Himself known in our lives. If we lived trouble-free lives, what need would we have for a Savior?
Rather, it is because we live fragile lives that we can see Jesus clearly.
When we face a problem head-on with the certainty that God will provide a solution and the strength to endure, we gain spiritual stamina. It is similar to training our physical bodies. Only through the resistance of an opposing force, such as a barbell, do our muscles grow. Likewise, our faith develops as a result of dealing with spiritual resistance.
Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we can find the faith to rejoice in our pain. This is possible because we not only have the assurance that God will provide, but we also can trust that when we walk with Him, we will be better prepared to face the next obstacle.
Don't Sell Out
By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.
Paul’s purpose for writing to Timothy was to encourage him and to remind him never to give up. The early church faced all kinds of trials and temptations. There were many who challenged Paul’s teaching. They also challenged Timothy’s spiritual leadership.
Religious teachers then, just like many today, tried to water down God’s Word and Truth. Paul writes: “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life” (2 Timothy 1:7-9).
There are many who attend church and are involved in religious work, but they remain afraid to speak God’s Truth, especially when facing moral and spiritual issues.
Paul reminds Timothy to be strong, firm in his faith and steadfast in his devotion to God. When we refuse to compromise our convictions, we experience a God-given strength throughout our lives. But when we waver between what we know is right and wrong—God’s principles and the world’s political correctness—we become unstable in all we do.
How do you avoid becoming fearful and doubtful? Begin by refusing to compromise your convictions. Don’t sell out to the world’s deception. Then you will remain strong in your faith. If Timothy had taken his eyes off Christ, he would have weakened and his ministry would have been ineffective.
Prayer: Father, help me to refuse to dilute the Truth of the Gospel. May I never deny Your Truth so that I feel popular. May I never be ashamed of Your Word. I ask you to remind me to cling to Your Word because it is a light unto my path. Thank you. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
“I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed” (2 Timothy 1:12).
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Have you ever heard a testimony from someone who has been through a horrible tragedy? We tend to pay very close attention to such accounts because the person involved has witnessed firsthand God’s faithfulness and power to restore a broken life.
Of all the witnesses to God’s grace in times of trouble, none is more compelling than the apostle Paul. He was certainly no stranger to hardship. Throughout his ministry, he was chased, beaten, stoned, arrested, shipwrecked, and accused of heresy by both the Jewish leaders and the Roman government. This was certainly a stark contrast to his early life, in which he enjoyed the luxuries and opportunities that his Roman citizenship and Jewish education provided.
There were amazing ups and downs in Paul’s life. As a result, he earned the right to make the proclamation found in Philippians 4:12: “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity.”
And what was the lesson the apostle came away with as a result of these experiences? He tells us in verse 12: “In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.”
Paul’s “secret” is really not a secret al all, for he reveals the source of his strength in the following verse: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Faith in Jesus Christ and an increasing reliance on Him will make this limitless power source a reality in your life.
Monday, January 7, 2013
Throughout the New Testament, we see God’s universal call to salvation repeated a number of times (John 1:12; 3:16; 6:40; 2 Peter 3:9). But each of us must make a personal decision about answering Him.
God wants mankind saved for several reasons. First, He loves us (Eph. 2:4). Divine love isn’t based on any worthiness in us; rather, care for His creation is part of God’s nature. Second, the Lord’s grace is made evident through His followers (v. 7). Believers were once rebellious beings, whom God transformed into obedient servants—that’s a change He wants to celebrate for eternity. What’s more, our good works glorify the Lord (Matt. 5:16). Everything we do in His name increases other people’s awareness of Him.
Salvation is possible only through Christ, who reconciles sinful people to holy God. Isaiah 53:6 teaches that every one of us is a sinner, andRomans 6:23 adds, “The wages of sin is death.” Without a divine solution, we’d be indebted and hopeless. But the Savior’s death on the cross paid the penalty for all humanity so anyone who wants a relationship with the Father can have one. Believing Jesus died for our sins and submitting to the Lord’s will are all that’s necessary for us to enter into eternal fellowship with Him.
Our heavenly father loves us and wants to be with us forever. The only thing that can separate us from Him is a decision to reject His invitation. Once we receive His Son as Savior, we are God’s, and no human action or character flaw can sever our eternal relationship with Him.
Saturday, January 5, 2013
"It's not my fault" is a prevalent attitude in our culture. To avoid responsibility for their own actions, people blame others: "I wouldn't yell at my kids so much if my own mother had loved me more" or "I wouldn't speak unkindly about my boss if he showed me some respect." Resentment wells up until the victim is blind to everything except how his life is impacted by someone else's hurtful deeds. Then casting blame is easy. But God has a challenge for believers: Forgive those who wound you.
The Lord’s Prayer mentions several of God’s duties but lists only one for believers: to forgive debtors Matt. 6:12. The metaphor of debt describes sin well. A wronged person often feels that the responsible party owes something, such as an apology or compensation. But by showing mercy to one who has sinned, you stamp his or her obligation to you "paid in full.” Reparations and retribution are no longer required.
Sometimes our wounds are so deep that forgiveness does not come easily. Remember that Jesus bears the scars of others’ sins, too, and His Holy Spirit enables believers to carry out this difficult task. While your debtor may have done nothing to deserve grace, choose to give it anyway, just as Jesus did for you.
When God forgives, He remembers wrongs no more Jer. 31:34. This doesn’t mean that transgressions magically ceases to have happened. Instead, the Lord refuses to use past wrongs as a reason to punish His people. He set the pattern of debt cancellation, and we are to follow His example Matt 6:15.
Friday, January 4, 2013
Praying in Jesus’ name states both our relationship with Christ and our right—through Him—to approach the Father directly. It also expresses our . . .
• Authority to petition God. The glorified Christ now sits at the right hand of God, where He intercedes for us and serves as our High Priest (Heb. 7:25). He has instructed us to come and ask for what we need. These words give us the authorization to enter the throne room of grace at any time and speak personally with the Father. To everyone who has received Jesus Christ as Savior, the Lord has granted the right to use His name.
• Agreement with God’s purposes. Based on our kinship with Jesus, we have access to the Father and can come with Christ’s authority to make requests. But to use the Savior’s name, we must also agree with God’s purposes. Praying in the name of Jesus means we’re asking in agreement with His character and will. As servants of God, we are to make it our priority to obey Him and His will, not our own. By allowing God’s Word to abide in us—to become part of our thinking and our standard for life—we will learn to pray in accordance with His plan.
• Assurance of an answer. “In Jesus’ name” is a phrase of confidence. It is a confession of certainty that our prayers will be heard and answered.
God doesn’t want prayer to become a rote exercise. So when praying “in Jesus’ name,” remember that those three words are not a formula. Instead, let them be powerful reminder of whose you are and the privilege of being involved in His work. Prayer is a mighty prerogative of the children of God.
Is God Inclusive?
By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.
In the last few decades our culture has made several dangerous shifts in direction. One of the most dangerous shifts has been a move from an emphasis on thinking to an emphasis on feeling. We have shifted from absolutes to relativism. We have shifted from exclusivities to inclusivity.
Many do not want to speak or even admit the Truth because it may hurt people’s feelings. Inclusivity has not only become a buzzword in our society; it is now a virtue that is preached. In fact, vast numbers of preachers today have abandoned the Truth of the Scripture in favor of inclusivity.
And yet the Bible declares that while the invitation God has issued is an inclusive invitation, God is an exclusive God. The invitation is for everyone in every nation and every tribe.
But the reward is for those who have accepted the invitation; the reward for obeying the Word of God is very exclusive. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus gives us a picture of what it will be like on the Day of Judgment when He returns.
In this passage, Jesus talks about the separation of the sheep and the goats. Those who have not been saved by grace through faith, loving the Lord Jesus are not His followers, and therefore, they are not true believers.
How do you know if you are a sheep or a goat? First, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 8:9). In 1 John 2:20-23, the Apostle John says that those who deny Jesus as the Christ are liars and will not have the Father. Have you confessed faith in Jesus Christ and do you believe He is the only Christ? In 1 John 2:3-6, John says that those who know Christ obey His commands. Are you obeying Christ? 1 John 2:9-11, John tells us that those who walk in the light love their brothers. Do you love your brothers and sisters in Christ?
Sheep and goats look very similar, especially from a distance. If you are driving in the countryside and you see them, they look alike from a distance, but in reality they are very different creatures and they will be separated on the last day.
We must all examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. Will you do so, today?
Prayer: Father, I confess faith in Jesus Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life and I know no one comes to you, but by Him. Please empower me by Your Spirit to demonstrate my love for You through my obedience to Your will and grant me love for my brothers and sisters in Christ. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
“All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Matthew 25:32).
Thursday, January 3, 2013
Shortly before the crucifixion, Jesus told His followers to pray in His name—in other words, to make requests according to His will. He pointed out that power is attached to prayer offered this way: “The Father will give you whatever you ask in My name” (John 15:16 niv). Supplication in Christ’s name means we’re declaring our . . .
• Association with the Savior. What makes it possible for us to approach God through prayer is our relationship with Jesus. At salvation, we went from being foreigners and aliens to being children of God. (Eph. 2:19) Our Creator has become our heavenly Father. He hears our requests because we have been made family through the redemptive work of His Son. The presence of Christ’s Spirit within us proves we are one of His own.
• Access to the Father. Jesus’ death opened the way for us to have immediate, unhindered admittance to the Father’s presence. When Jesus finished His work in making the final priestly sacrifice (Heb. 7:28), the veil in the temple, which closed off the Holy of Holies from man, was torn in two. (Mark 15:38) This symbolized the spiritual truth that access to God was now open to all who believe. Through the Holy Spirit, we have the right to talk to God directly without a human intermediary (Eph. 2:18).
Jesus Christ fully paid the penalty for our sins by dying on the cross. Accepting His atoning death on our behalf means we are in a new family relationship and we have unhindered access to the Father. Let’s stop right now and give thanks to God for the incredible privilege of prayer!
Copyright 2012 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Peter was a professional fisherman. He knew how to read weather conditions, where to find the best places to fish, and when to end an unproductive session. Because of his expertise, he may have silently questioned the reasonableness of Jesus’ instruction. Why let down the nets when an experienced team of fishermen hadn’t caught anything all night?
At times God asks His children to act in ways that may not seem logical. His request might involve leaving a job or ministry that He provided only recently, taking on more responsibility when life already feels overloaded, or accepting an assignment that appears better suited for someone with a different skill set. Perhaps God’s plan makes no sense in view of age, finances, or health. Yet, because of the One who asks, it will be the absolutely right thing to do. We must decide whether to do what is sensible by human standards or to obey God.
The Bible talks about many people who had to make such a choice. Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son. Noah was told to build an ark on dry land because a flood was coming. Joshua was given a military strategy of marching around Jericho instead of attacking it. Gideon, the inexperienced fighter, was told to send most of his warriors home before the battle (Judges 7:2-3).
Don’t make the mistake of allowing human logic to dictate whether you follow God’s plan. Trust in Him as Peter and those other faithful believers did. When they chose to obey what the Lord was saying, they all experienced divine power released on their behalf.
Copyright 2012 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.
II Corinthians 6:14
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
For further study - II Corinthians 6:1-18
Our key verse for today's devotional reading is a strong exhortation from the Apostle Paul about how we must live in the last days. The directive to be "not unequally yoked together with unbelievers" is not the trend in Christian circles today.
Please don't misunderstand my thoughts. I am not saying we don't have a relationship with lost people, unbelievers, so that we can lead them to the Lord but this exhortation is about "being yoked" to unbelievers, not relationships.
To be "yoked" is like being "harnessed together in a team" of horses or some animals of burden. We must not "yoke" ourselves to unbelievers in marriage, ministry and mission.
It goes without saying that we must develop relationships with unbelievers, lost people, so that we might have an opportunity to lead them to Christ. In fact, Paul, in the first of this chapter, reports that he was doing all he could to give none offense in anything so that his ministry might not be blamed.
Everything we do should be for the purpose of "approving ourselves as the ministers of God", verse 4. Verses 4-10 contain illustration after illustration of how Paul was abiding in the lifestyle that he was exhorting the Corinthians to live.
This is very applicable for us as well today. Reading of what Paul had lived through helps us to understand why the Apostle told us to not be unequally yoked together.
In verse 16 Paul refers to the Temple, the place where the "Glory of the Lord" dwelled in days past; and prophetically, where the Lord will dwell among His people forever.
Paul's application was that we are the "Temple of the living God"; therefore, we must "come out from among them and be separate", verse 17. Remember, at this time in history there was still a Temple in Jerusalem as Paul tells us we are now the "dwelling place" for the Lord, I Corinthians 6:19-20.
Please don't forget, there will be a physical Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem one day. But until then the Lord abides in us, the reason for Paul's example and exhortation to us.
Peter wrote that the Lord was not slack concerning His promise to come back to earth, and that He was not willing that any should perish, He wanted all to come to the knowledge of the truth and come to know Him as Saviour, II Peter 3:9.
If we couple that thought from Peter, with Paul's statement in verse 2, of our extended reading today, we see how we can hurry the return of Jesus to the earth. Paul says, "now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation."
II Peter 3:12 tells us that winning people to Jesus in this "day of salvation" can hasten the Lord's return.
PRAYER THOT: Help me Lord to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers, to make it a point to come out from among those that cause offense so that I can win the lost to You in this, the "day of salvation".
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Paul was a man with a spirit that conquered. Throughout his ministry, he faced countless obstacles but never gave up. He pictured the Christian life as a race, and we each need this same kind of spirit if we hope to finish well.
Courage: A conquering spirit is willing to risk failure. Though we naturally want to appear strong and capable, God delights in empowering us in our weaknesses so He gets the glory.
Confidence: We’re likely to stumble when we doubt our ability to do what God requires. However, when our confidence is placed in the Lord instead of in ourselves, we can move ahead, knowing that He’ll enable us to do His will.
Commitment: The Lord promises to: guide us as we run the race; provide whatever is needed; and strengthen us along the way. However, we must be committed to Him and determined to carry out His will.
Persistence: The road we’re traveling is full of distractions, opposition, and obstacles that tempt us to give up. That’s why Paul advises us to &ldquoress on” through hardships toward that which is of eternal value (v. 14).
Forward Focus: We must also forget what lies behind and reach forward to what lies ahead (v. 13). Those weighed down by baggage from the past lose sight of the goal.
The key to success in this race is an all-consuming desire to reach the goal. If we find no value in the prize, we’ll readily give up along the way and settle for the immediate gratification the world offers. But if we understand what awaits us at the finish line in heaven, we’ll press on.
Copyright 2012 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.