Not a Sermon only a Thought

How can you know God?

It all starts with accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ provides a relationship with the Father and eternal life through His death on the cross and resurrection, see Romans. 5:10.

Romans. 10:9 promises, "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." If you have not yet begun your personal relationship with God, understand that the One who created you loves you no matter who you are or what you’ve done. He wants you to experience the profound depth of His care.

Therefore, tell God that you are willing to trust Him for salvation. You can tell Him in your own words or use this simple prayer:

Lord Jesus, I ask You to forgive my sins and save me from eternal separation from God. By faith, I accept Your work and death on the cross as sufficient payment for my sins. Thank You for providing the way for me to know You and to have a relationship with my heavenly Father. Through faith in You, I have eternal life. Thank You also for hearing my prayers and loving me unconditionally. Please give me the strength, wisdom, and determination to walk in the center of Your will. In Jesus’ name, amen.

If you have just prayed this prayer, congratulations!

You have received Christ as your Savior and have made the best decision you will ever make—one that will change your life forever!

Causes of Rebellion

Romans 6:12-14

In God’s eyes, anyone who sins is rebellious, and Scripture tells us we’re all guilty (Rom. 3:23). Now, it makes sense that an unbeliever would choose to act apart from biblical teaching. But what about those of us who have committed to follow Christ—what would cause us to stray from the will of our heavenly Father?

There are two powerful human tendencies that lead to disobedience: doubt and pride. Both can be dangerously misleading.

1. Doubt is a mental struggle over whether or not to believe God’s promises. From our limited perspective, we cannot understand how the Lord works. Sometimes His way does not feel like the right path, so in order to obey, we must step out in faith. Then it can feel as though we are jumping off a cliff and trusting God’s invisible rope to hold us. If we listen to our doubt, we will surely transgress.

2. Pride is the sin that caused Satan to fall from heaven, and it is a deceptive obstacle for believers as well. Pride has to do with thinking that our way is best, putting more faith in our ability than God’s promises, and desiring praise. Anything we do out of pride is rebellion against the Lord.

Whatever the cause, sin never leads to the Lord’s best for our life. God’s way is the only road resulting in fulfillment and peace.

The enemy wants to lure us with doubt and pride—both feel right and are easily justifiable from our human perspective. But believers should follow Joshua’s wisdom instead: “Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve ... but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15).

A Tough Command

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Many divine commands seem perfectly reasonable. With the Ten Commandments, for example, we easily understand why God forbids adultery, idols, and murder. But elsewhere He gives instructions that ostensibly make little sense. Let’s look at why He calls us to the seemingly impossible task of giving thanks in everything.

The Scriptures clearly teach that giving thanks is meant to be a way of life, not just a seasonal event (Psalm 92:1-2; Phil. 4:6-7). The problem is that we often do not feel appreciative, particularly when facing painful circumstances or faith tests. In fact, expressing gratitude for bad news seems irrational. What seems logical to the human mind, however, cannot compete with God’s greater knowledge of what is best for His children. As a result, we live a successful Christian life only by choosing to thank Him for everything He sends or allows across our path.

The Lord knows that gratitude powerfully impacts the believer. Trials can leave us feeling isolated, but thanking God for His ongoing care or provision reminds us of His constant presence. Equipped with the knowledge that He is in full control, we can submit our will to His. Though our circumstances may remain the same, our attitude is divinely transformed through trust.

The Lord has a purpose for every circumstance He allows in our life, and thankfulness motivates us to seek His purpose. In God’s perfect time, the divine plan is revealed, and then we can tell Him with sincere hearts, “Lord, thank You!”

The Motivation for Gratitude

Psalm 111:1-10

Yesterday we say that God’s will is for us to give thanks in everything. How can we possibly do this? When something unpleasant happens, we certainly won’t feel thankful, yet Scripture says quite clearly that God wants His children to express gratitude in all situations.

If we hope to maintain a grateful spirit, we must find a consistent motivation. Otherwise, our thankfulness will ebb and flow according to our current conditions. Since the only constant in our life is the Lord Himself, that’s where our focus should be.

First of all, we can be thankful for the demonstrations of God’s power and wisdom as displayed in His creation. The mountains, seas, forests, and fields reveal His goodness and lovingkindness in the way He designed such a beautiful habitation for us. Then, by lifting our eyes to the heavens, we see the vastness of His power and creativity. And by gazing into a microscope, we observe His intricate design of even the smallest particles of creation.

Another reason for gratitude is God’s providential care. Every day, we are sheltered in His protection, guided by His Spirit, and nourished both physically and spiritually through His gracious provision and His unfailing Word.

Most of all, we should always be thankful for our redemption. Apart from salvation through Christ, we would be without God, both in this world and throughout eternity. So even when life lets us down or turns out differently than we hoped, we should remember there’s an inheritance reserved for us in heaven. That’s sufficient reason for continual gratitude!

Defending the Faith

1 Peter 3:13-16

Knowing God’s Word and understanding what we believe are essential for growth in Christ and protection from deception. However, these alone aren’t the final goal. We are not left on earth merely to know for ourselves what God has said. Rather, we’re to share His good news. In other words, we’re to be “ready to make a defense to everyone who asks [us] to give an account for the hope that is in [us]” (1 Peter 3:15).

The word defense means “an answer one gives to explain himself.” Believers should be ready to give an account of their motives and reasons for holding on to their hope in Christ. Because of busy lifestyles, many Christians have never taken the time to really think through their views and beliefs. When someone challenges them, they feel a sense of panic because they’re totally unprepared.

Giving an account for our faith must be accompanied by a gentle, respectful delivery. Aggressively dumping a load of truth on a questioning person rarely leads him to God, but a gentle answer opens hearts as well as ears.

And remember, people watch to see if all we profess is backed up with a life of integrity. A Christian who is living a hypocritical lifestyle will have a worthless testimony.

These verses were not written to scholars; they were intended for ordinary people with jobs and families. The task isn’t impossible, yet it requires time spent reading and studying God’s Word. In setting Christ apart as the Lord of your heart, you will find that time with Him becomes a joy, not a sacrifice.

Heirs to a Grand Inheritance

Ephesians 1:9-14

Did you know that you are an heir to unimaginable wealth that will never fade away? If you’re a believer, then God has an inheritance reserved for you in heaven. In fact, He says you have already obtained it. (See Eph. 1:11.) Your right to this treasure is not based on anything that you’ve done, but on the one to whom you belong. If you are a child of God, then the inheritance is yours and will be “revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:4-5).

No one can take our inheritance from us, because God has guaranteed it by sealing us with His Holy Spirit of promise. The transaction is complete and merely awaits the ultimate consummation when everything will be brought under the headship of Christ. This seal shows His ownership and authority over us, and one day our full redemption will come.

Naturally, we all want to know what we’re going to inherit. Much of that is beyond our earthly comprehension, but Scripture gives us a few hints. It will involve the transformation of both our body and soul. The goal for which God predestined us will be completed as we stand before Him, conformed to the likeness of His Son (Rom. 8:29; 1 John 3:2). And these weak, perishable bodies will be changed into strong, glorious ones that are free from sin and death (Phil. 3:20-21).

Why has God done all of this for us? Amazingly, He says it’s so that throughout eternity He can show us “the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7). In love and gratitude for such amazing goodness, let’s devote each day of our life to living for Him.

Peace With God

Romans 5:1-2

One day I posed a question to the waitress at a restaurant: “If you could ask God for anything, what would your request be?” Her answer was immediate. “I want to feel at peace.” She tearfully explained that her grandmother had died and emotional turmoil resulted.

Many in our world are like this woman, in that they desire inner calmness but have no relationship with the Lord. People often seek contentment by trying to improve their appearance, physical fitness, financial situation, or social status—or by abusing substances. But such things can’t bring tranquility of heart or mind. Only a relationship with Jesus leads to true peace.

Prior to salvation, we were slaves to sin and living in opposition to God (Col. 1:21). Our transgressions had formed a barrier of hostility between Him and us, and on our own, we were helpless to cross it. Without God’s intervention, we could not have found the way of peace. But our heavenly Father provided the perfect solution to our sin problem. He sent His Son to pay for our iniquities and remove the separation that existed between us and Him.

When we trusted Jesus as our Savior, we were reconciled to the Lord and no longer at odds with Him (Rom. 5:10). In Christ, we have peace with the Father.

Our triune God has provided everything we need for inner tranquility. The Father opened the way for us to be in His family. Jesus continually offers His peace so we can experience serenity of mind and heart (John 14:27). And the Holy Spirit cultivates the fruit of peace in our lives (Gal. 5:22).

Jesus: The Source of Peace

Colossians 1:15-20

Before we knew Jesus Christ, our life was full of godlessness and wickedness—we had self-seeking ways and stubborn, unrepentant hearts (Rom. 1:18; Rom. 2:5, Rom. 2:8). Like our strife-filled world, we clamored for peace and tried to find it, but our efforts failed.

When we came to faith in the Savior, all of that changed. We were rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into Christ’s kingdom (Col. 1:13). Every one of our sins—past, present, and future—was forgiven. Divine justice was satisfied by Christ’s sacrifice, and God’s wrath upon us was removed. We became a new creation, washed clean by Jesus’ blood (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Now that sin’s power over us has been broken, we can become members of God’s family rather than His enemies (Rom. 5:10). He sent His Holy Spirit to be our personal guide in this new life, helping each of us experience Christ’s peace (Rom. 8:6). We also can look forward to an eternity spent in heaven, where righteousness, tranquility, and joy abound (Rom. 14:17).

The story of the Prodigal Son’s return is a picture of our reconciliation with the Lord (Luke 15:11-32). The young man had chosen to leave his father, living instead to please himself. Repentant, the son eventually returned home; his father joyfully greeted and forgave him, and there was harmony between them. God has done all this for us.

Our unity with the heavenly Father came at a great price—the sacrifice of His only Son. Christ gave His life for us so that we could be reconciled to God (Col. 1:20). Christian lives are to testify that Jesus is the source of our peace. Does your life communicate this message?

Finding Satisfaction

Philippians 4:11-13

God has provided us with many things to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17). But our lives are frequently filled with turmoil instead of contentment. Here are four practices that create dissatisfaction.

1. Busyness. We live in a hurry-up society, dashing from one activity to another. Jesus did not rush, yet He accomplished everything God gave Him to do. Rarely did He tell His followers to move faster. He even praised Mary for choosing to stop and spend time with Him (Luke 10:39, Luke 10:42).

2. Earthly perspective. Too often we live focused on our circumstances. Our minds are filled with what occurred earlier in the week, what’s on today’s agenda, and the activities happening next week, month, or year. No wonder enjoyment of life remains elusive. The solution is to have an eternal perspective, which acknowledges God is in charge and our goal is to please Him.

3. Self-imposed pressure. We have all experienced the unavoidable burdens of schoolwork, employment, and relationships. But we bring needless pressure on ourselves when we allow unnecessary “musts” and “shoulds” to rule us. The remedy is to turn to God, acknowledge His right to order our days, and ask for His plan.

4. Unhealthy attitudes. Things like perfectionism, false guilt, and apathy all undermine our enjoyment of life.

Satisfaction is found in a life that reflects God’s priorities—and time with Him comes first. Reading His Word, we become mindful of the Father’s great love, learn what He views as important, and experience the joy of belonging to Him. When contentment is elusive, it’s time to reexamine our priorities.

Preaching Like Peter

Acts 2:14-42

Peter’s first sermon takes less than five minutes to recite. Sharing the gospel doesn’t need to be complicated or lengthy. In fact, Peter’s message contains a formula we can use to outline our own testimonies.

Preparation. The disciple relied heavily on the Scriptures to make his case for faith in Christ. But Peter knew there was another important element—after being miraculously enabled to proclaim the gospel in multiple languages, he must have realized the significance of the Holy Spirit. No matter how persuasive a man’s message is, only the Spirit can open the door to unbelieving hearts and minds.

The Savior’s credentials and purpose. Peter cited the “miracles and wonders and signs” that validated Jesus as the promised Messiah (Acts 2:22). Then the disciple made clear Jesus’ foreordained mission on earth: to die for mankind’s sin. Christ willingly and obediently submitted to the task assigned by His Father.

A personal invitation. Peter wasn’t shy about convicting the hearts of his audience. “This Man ... you nailed to a cross,” he said (Acts 2:23). The new preacher made sure listeners knew their responsibility in the Messiah’s death, but then gave the exciting news that Christ was alive. Those who believed were invited to repent and be baptized in Jesus’ name (Acts 2:38). Any gospel message should finish by telling people how they, too, can be saved.

Witnessing to others can be intimidating. But if you are prayerful and prepared, you can trust the Holy Spirit to be with you and to handle the outcome.

Praising the Lamb of God

Revelation 5:1-12

In heaven, there is unceasing worship and praise of God. Revelation 4 and 5 describe John’s vision, in which four living creatures proclaimed God’s holiness day and night. The apostle then heard 24 elders respond with a declaration of God’s worthiness (Revelation 4:8-11). He listened as they sang a new song of praise, declaring that the Lamb of God had purchased men for God—and then witnessed multitudes of angels proclaiming Jesus’ worth (Revelation 5:9-12).

What was it about Jesus that motivated such heartfelt worship? It was who He is, what He has done, and what He will do. He is ...

God the Son, who laid aside His divinity so that He might rescue us (Phil. 2:6-7).

• The Savior who took on human form and died so that we might be saved (Phil. 2:8).

• The only One who revealed God the Father to us (John 14:9).

• The Son of Man, who chose to identify with us because of His great love (John 1:14, John 15:13).

• The Lamb of God, who took away the sins of the world (John 1:29).

• The Lion of Judah, who will return as the judge, the ruler, and the authority over all (Revelation 5:5).

These same attributes should motivate our praise and worship of Jesus. Ask the Lord to help you establish a pattern of praising Him and responding in adoration each time you think of Him. Heavenly music is to be sung by the redeemed on earth for all to hear.

Walking in the Light

Ephesians 5:1-17

If you’ve ever lost power at night, you know how disorienting it can be to try and find your way to a flashlight or candle. You think you’re heading for a doorway but unexpectedly bump into a wall. This is what our life was like before we met the Light of the World. In fact, we didn’t even know what real light was and had become comfortable in the darkness because it kept us from seeing how sinful we truly were.

An amazing transaction occurred when we finally believed the gospel, repented of our sins, and confessed Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We were rescued from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of Light. And now Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, has come to dwell within us (Col. 1:13; Eph. 3:17). So how are Christ’s followers supposed to live? Today’s passage outlines three basic responsibilities:

1. Walk in love (Ephesians 5:1-2). As the Savior sacrificially loved us, so we are to love others. If we are at odds with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we can’t claim to be walking in Light (1 John 1:7).

2. Abstain from sin (Eph. 5:3-7). Believers aren’t sinless, but they don’t habitually practice deeds of darkness.

3. Learn what pleases God (Eph. 5:8-17). The fruit of Light is goodness, righteousness, and truth. These are displayed in our character, conversation, and conduct when we are living out our faith.

Let’s make it our aim to move ever closer to the Light, letting Jesus expose and remove any areas of darkness so we can reflect His glory and goodness.

The Pattern for Servanthood

Matthew 20:25-28

In the world’s thinking, great men are the ones with authority, prominence, and power. Though Jesus Christ had all that, He surrendered it to become a servant (Isa. 42:1; Phil. 2:7).

Jesus gave Himself completely to fulfill the Father’s plan of redemption, even though the beneficiaries—namely, each of us—were undeserving. God, who is holy and righteous, has eyes that “are too pure to approve evil, and [He] can not look on wickedness with favor” (Hab. 1:13). Therefore, He must separate Himself from those who are stained by wrongdoing. That includes all of humanity (Rom. 3:23).

Everybody is born captive to fleshly desires (Rom. 6:16-18). When someone claims to be living on his “own terms,” he is serving whatever his human nature craves. The penalty for that false sense of liberty is death (Rom. 6:23).

Jesus’ ultimate act of service was to give His life as a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28). The word ransom describes the price paid to set a slave free—Christ voluntarily purchased our liberation. There was only one way our holy God could remove our guilt yet remain true to His own law: Someone sinless had to pay our sin debt for us.

Jesus’ sacrifice spared us the penalty we deserve. Instead, we receive grace and have been declared not guilty. Moreover, we are elevated from slaves to children of the Almighty! Jesus served the Father’s purpose faithfully. He gave up His righteousness to carry our wickedness—and endured a crushing separation from God. To meet our needs, the Savior held nothing of Himself back, and thereby set a powerful example of servanthood for us to follow.

God’s Viewpoint About Money

1 Timothy 6:17-19

Money plays a huge role in our existence. In fact, it’s impossible to live without it. How would we purchase food, shelter, and clothing? But it’s more than just a means for acquiring necessities. The quest for wealth has dominated mankind’s history. Wars have been fought over it, lives have been ruined by it, and people have died for lack of it. To gain a proper attitude about money, Christians must understand the Lord’s perspective.

God is the source. Since everything originates from the Creator, it all belongs to Him (Psalm 24:1). This means we are merely stewards of the wealth He’s entrusted to us. Even if we work for it, the Lord is the one who has given us the opportunity and capabilities to earn it.

God uses money for His purposes. We can’t separate our finances from our Christianity. The Lord doesn’t provide money for just our physical needs; He uses it to transform us spiritually. In times of need, He trains us to rely upon Him and proves Himself faithful by providing for us. Wealth is also a tool He uses to teach us self-discipline. Instead of indulging our desires, we must learn to seek His will and be content with what we have. In addition, God uses money to train us to be generous.

Take a dollar bill from your wallet and look at it. That piece of paper is a powerful instrument in the Lord’s hand when you give Him authority over it and submit to His spiritual transformation program. Anytime you open your wallet and see a dollar, be reminded that what you do with it will reveal your character.

Requirements of Walking by Faith

Genesis 12:1-9

We all know people who live according to their own desires and natural abilities. Sometimes we do it too. But as children of God, believers are called to walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). That means we are to live based on a confident assurance that the Lord is true to His character and keeps every promise.

In the school of faith-walking, the first skill to master is listening. Because God’s Word is essential to our hearing from Him, we must cultivate the habit of biblical meditation. Through it, we will hear God’s Spirit speak to ours, illuminating the meaning of Scripture and showing us how to apply its truths to our circumstances. But recognizing the inner voice of the Holy Spirit does not come automatically; it takes practice.

A second skill to acquire is obedience—carrying out what the Lord commands and then doing it His way, in His time. Abraham left his homeland just as God commanded, but he “adjusted” the divine plan by bringing Lot along (Gen. 12:4). The life of faith is one of submission to God’s requests, methods, and time frames. As our listening skills improve, our faith in the Father will deepen, our commitment to Him will grow, and complete obedience will become easier.

Faith-walking also involves remembering what happened when we obeyed God in the past—He communicates with us not only for today but also to teach us for the future. Can you recall what He said to you last week? Have you put it into practice? Commit to being a better listener and a more obedient follower in the coming year.

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