Not a Sermon only a Thought

The Process of Temptation

1 Corinthians 10:12-13

Many people act as if there’s no defense against temptation. With the first hint of desire, they immediately throw their hands up and give in to every little enticement. Can you relate to this? What we must realize is that temptation is a gradual process, and it can be short-circuited at any stage.

Temptation usually begins in the mind, where we live out imagined scenarios. The human mind has an amazing capacity to create entire exchanges and experiences out of nothing. Through fantasy, we can enjoy something without ever bringing it into the real world. Therefore, since it’s not real, we think it’s perfectly harmless.

But a fantasy world leads to a downward spiral of enslavement. Ultimately, our thoughts become so wrapped around the one temptation that it seems impossible to think of anything else. At this point, our minds are held captive by the desire. No matter where we go or what we do, we can’t outrun our own thoughts! And when our life becomes focused on anything other than God, we are trapped.

But the Lord is faithful and will provide the way of escape. Since temptation begins in the mind, that’s where the battle should be waged. The only way to disrupt the process is by filling our minds with the Word of God. As we continually feed on a hearty diet of Scripture, the Word will work in us— uprooting sin, transforming our thoughts, and overcoming the tempting fantasy. The Bible is powerful! We can trust it to set us free from the burden of temptation.

Protection Through Strengthening

While writing to Timothy, Paul was in prison experiencing physical discomfort, personal attack, and desertion. Why would God allow His faithful servant to endure such suffering? Why didn’t the Lord step in and protect him?

At times God doesn’t rescue us from suffering because He is providing something better. We may feel as if He’s abandoned us, but in reality, He is protecting us—not by deliverance but through strengthening.

When trouble pays you a visit, view it from the Lord’s perspective and ask yourself:

• Which is a greater demonstration of God’s power—changing something around me or changing something within my heart?
• Which is the greater faith builder—seeing the Lord’s deliverance from every difficulty or experiencing His presence and strengthening in the midst of trials?
• Which reward is greater—quick relief from pain or tested and refined faith that will result in praise and glory when Christ returns (1 Peter 1:7)?
• Which answer to prayer is greater—that the Lord has removed something and given me external peace, or that He’s left me in a trial and given an internal peace, which cannot be stolen even by painful circumstances?

Does the Lord have to fix something in order for you to be happy? If He removes a difficult situation, you may never learn that He truly is sufficient for everything you need. Instead, allow Him to change you, and you’ll discover genuine joy in whatever circumstance may come your way.

In Search of Wholeness

Take an honest look at your life. Do you feel whole and complete, or is there the sense that something’s missing? If you’re aware of an emptiness, what are you using to try and fill that void? Is it relationships with family and friends? Or have you opted for achievements, hoping they will bring a sense of significance? Maybe you use a substance or activity of some kind to deaden the ache or provide temporary comfort.

Jesus met a woman with just such an empty place in her soul. She was longing for a healthy relationship but had been repeatedly rejected. In those days, a man could divorce his wife simply because she displeased him in some way. The Samaritan woman had gone through this rejection five times and was now seeking to fill her soul with a man who wasn’t her husband.

She probably tried to cover up her hurt so those nearby wouldn’t notice, but when Jesus met her at the well and told all that she had done, her days of hiding were over. She had finally found the One who could bring wholeness to her life. Before you can fill the emptiness in your soul, you must likewise let Christ’s piercing gaze penetrate into the depths of your heart and reveal the root cause of your incompleteness.

We were created for God. All other pursuits are inadequate substitutes and will never bring the lasting satisfaction we are seeking. Life has a way of beating us down, leaving us depleted and disillusioned. But when we allow Jesus Christ unrestricted access to our hearts, He fills us up with His unfailing love.

The Fullness of God in You

Have you ever wondered if you are a “whole person”? We all have struggles in life that could make us feel incomplete, but the apostle Paul says we can be “filled up to all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19). What does that look like?

A whole person is generally satisfied with life. He feels loved and is able to love others in return. Difficulties and hardships don’t devastate him, because he is able to go through them with confidence in God. He isn’t a complainer or someone who’s quick to blame others. A positive attitude guards his mind since he knows that the Lord will work everything out for good (Rom. 8:28).

Being a Christian doesn’t automatically make us feel complete. Fullness comes only when we experience God’s love. For many years, I knew theologically that the Lord loved me. I even preached about it, but I didn’t really feel it. Only after I took a deep look at my life and started dealing with events that had fractured my soul in childhood did I begin to experience His love in a personal way. Once I felt the security of His love for me, I discovered great joy from walking in obedience to His will. The reason was that I knew I could trust Him to meet all my needs in His time and way.

Do you feel the Lord’s love, or do you see it as just a biblical fact? If you long for wholeness, the key is to genuinely experience a one-on-one relationship with Jesus Christ. This is possible only when you are willing to open up and let the Lord search your heart. He will reveal what’s holding you back from accepting His love.

Is God Still Talking?

Have you ever noticed that children have selective hearing—the convenient ability to tune out an adult’s voice? Sometimes, if they don’t like what’s said, they ignore it. On other occasions, they may be so absorbed in their own activities that their minds don’t register the words. An adult is speaking, but you would never know it by the child’s response.

At times we behave the same way toward our heavenly Father, don’t we? Today the Lord speaks to us through His Word, just as He always has. The Bible contains the complete revelation of God; it was written by men who were under the control of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16). If we are inattentive to the Scriptures, then we have turned away from God’s voice.

But if we open His Word, we will hear what He wants to say to us. Sometimes He speaks words of admonishment and correction, but He’ll also assure us of His love. When we spend time fellowshipping with God in His Word, our relationship with Him deepens. And as He expresses His love to us, we love Him in return.

From Scripture, we also receive direction for our life (Jer. 29:11). Although the world, our own selfish nature, and Satan clamor for us to choose their ways, God provides us with His wisdom to make right decisions.

The Bible offers God’s comfort and hope, which we desperately need in our trials, failures, humiliations, and sorrows. And His Holy Spirit helps us understand and obey whatever He says. God is still speaking, but in order to benefit, we must listen.

God’s Sovereignty

Some people question whether the Lord is truly in control. They learn about tragedies in the world and wonder if perhaps God isn’t powerful enough to overcome all evil. Or they encounter what seems like an insurmountable obstacle in their own life and come to the conclusion, Maybe His power is limited.

My friend, we do not understand everything that happens in this life. But we know from Scripture that God has ultimate authority: “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all” (Psalm 103:19).

Consider the far-reaching implications of these words. The Lord has complete control in all the universe—He reigns over everything and everyone, and His power is greater than all other strength. The terms omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient are frequently used to describe Him. In other words, our God is all-powerful, He exists everywhere, and He is all-knowing—which means there is nothing beyond His awareness or His ability to direct and manage.

And this limitless, unfathomable God, who is unhindered and fully in control, adopts us as His children. What an amazing thought! As we begin to grasp this truth, peace and rest will flood our soul.

If you believe the Lord is all-powerful, is that idea simply “head knowledge,” or does it affect the way you think and feel? When you realize that nothing happens apart from God’s awareness, direction, and loving purpose, it becomes possible to lay down worry and fear and truly experience His peace.

My Assurance: God Is in Control

During one of the most trying seasons of my life, I would sit by the fire with a dear friend and pour out my heart to him. Since this man was a good listener, he could sense when I felt discouraged, and he would remind me that the Lord is in control. This truth became an anchor in my life—no matter how much the adversity intensified, I found solace in knowing that my heavenly Father is sovereign.

The Lord has supreme and absolute rule, control, and authority over the universe and everything in it. The Scriptures state that there is “one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:6).

Consider the assurances that this truth provides for believers. First, if God created everything and has complete power over all, then nothing can happen apart from His direction and permission. Second, we know from the Bible that He is intimately involved in our personal lives and cares about the details of each day. Third, Romans 8:28 guarantees that He makes something beautiful for His children in every circumstance—even in situations that seem painful and wrong. If our loving Father protects us in this way, we can experience peace in the present and confidence about the future.

In painful times, how do you view the Lord? Especially during hardships and heartbreak, it’s important to remember that He is in control. Focusing on His sovereignty will give you the confidence to carry on. Reread today’s passage, and spend time meditating on the power, love, and ability of your heavenly Father.

The High Cost of Sin

Anyone who has read through the book of Leviticus can’t help but notice the emphasis on sacrifices. There were prescribed animals for different kinds of personal and national offerings, as well as for occasions like the Sabbath and feasts. Why did God require this? And why was He so specific about the details of worship?

There were three lessons God was teaching Israel through His law.

• God is holy and separate from sinful man.
• Sin is costly, requiring a payment or sacrifice.
• There is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood.

All the laws, ceremonies, priests, and offerings in the Old Testament were a shadow of the good things to come. None of the animal sacrifices could actually take away sin. While serving as a reminder of sin, those offerings also pointed ahead to the Lamb of God: Jesus Christ came to be the final sacrifice. He gave His life at Calvary, bringing complete forgiveness for all sin.

We who live on this side of the cross may be tempted to think too lightly of our sins because we have never sacrificed an animal or seen blood flowing from the throat of an innocent lamb because of our wrongdoing. Nor did we watch the crucifixion of our Lord as He hung on the cross, bearing God’s judgment for our sins. The only cost we actually see involves the consequences we suffer for our rebellion and disobedience.

As difficult and painful as it may be, let’s seriously consider what our sins cost the Savior. If we allow our hearts to be broken, our worship and gratitude will overflow, and we’ll respond by living a holy life.

A New and Living Way

Have you ever considered what a privilege it is to live in the era after the cross? Today every believer has instant access to God through His Son Jesus Christ. We don’t need to adhere to any religious rites before coming to Him in prayer. Wherever we are, we can call on Him for forgiveness and help.

In the Old Testament, the law prescribed exactly who could approach the Lord and how it was to be done. The temple area was divided into a courtyard, an inner chamber called the Holy Place, and the innermost chamber called the Holy of Holies. Any Israelite could come to the temple to pray to God or to bring an offering, but only the priests could sacrifice animals on the altar or burn incense in the Holy Place. The Holy of Holies was entered once a year and only by the high priest to offer blood for his sins and the sins of the nation.

When Jesus Christ died on Calvary’s cross, the curtain in front of the Holy of Holies was torn from top to bottom as God opened a new and living way to approach Him: through the blood of His Son. When we trust in Christ and His sacrifice on our behalf, He cleanses us from all sins and invites us to draw near to Him.

The way to the heavenly Father is open, but are you drawing near to Him? Even those of us who have trusted the Lord for salvation may not be taking advantage of this invitation to come even closer. In James 4:8, the author makes a promise every believer should claim: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

Going Against the Flow

A majority may rule in the culture, but in your personal life, there should be only one ruler—and that’s God. It makes no difference if 10,000 people tell you what you ought to do. Once you have decided to follow the Lord, it’s best to stand right where you are until you get marching orders from Him.

Does this mean we should never take godly counsel? Not at all. It simply means that when we know God hasn’t said to move, we shouldn’t yield to the temptation to please others by following their directives or timeline. In other words, while seeking scriptural advice, believers should also listen for the Holy Spirit’s promptings and warnings. For example, when dealing with your children, you may sense there’s a time to bring up an issue and a time to hold off (Eccl. 3:7).

Sometimes, however, a fear of failure may discourage us from doing things God’s way, making us think, What if things don’t turn out as I planned? What if I’m ridiculed by my peers? But ultimately, we must ask ourselves whether we’re going to listen to God or the world. Remember, you don’t have to fear failure when you obey the Lord. He’s the one who intervenes in times of hardship. And He promises to act in behalf of the one who waits for Him (Isa. 64:4).

Remaining steadfast takes courage. That’s why Paul said, “Be strong in the Lord” (Eph. 6:10). All the pressure in the world can’t make you budge when you trust the Rock upon which you stand. With God’s guidance, you can act with complete confidence of a successful outcome.

Loving God

If you ask a young man how he knows he’s in love with his girlfriend, there’s a good chance he won’t be able to explain but will simply say, “I just know it.” And those of us who have experienced the joy of falling in love will understand what he means.

But how do we know if we love God? Even though we can’t physically see, hear, or touch Him, our life should contain evidence that testifies to our love for Him.

Jesus’ love for His heavenly Father was perfectly demonstrated by His obedience. Every word, thought, and deed—from the time He left heaven to be born as a baby until His ascension—was done according to His Father’s will and instructions. Their relationship was so intimate that Jesus not only knew exactly what His Father desired but also delighted in obeying Him. (See Psalm 40:7-8; John 6:38.)

If we want to grow in our love for the Lord, we must draw near to Him through His Word. As we learn to know Him intimately, our love will increase and we’ll desire to obey. Unless we invest in Scripture, our fervor for the Lord will fall short of what it could be.

What does your lifestyle reveal about the depth of your devotion to Christ—can others see it clearly in your conversation, character, and conduct? And if you ever feel disappointed that your love for Christ seems small, open the Word of God and obey whatever He says. He will abide with you and disclose Himself, thereby increasing your capacity to love and know Him more.

Why Should We Love God?

Most of us are familiar with what is commonly called the Great Commandment—to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Yet none of us feel adequate for such a task. Our hearts are fickle, our souls are often self-absorbed, our minds are easily distracted, and our strength falls short. We have an earthly existence that demands our time, attention, and energy. As a result, we often fail to focus on the One who is worthy of our wholehearted devotion.

So, what can we do to better obey this Great Commandment? In any relationship, love develops as we learn to know and appreciate the other person. Therefore, our starting place for loving God is His personhood—knowing who He is. The Old Testament provides magnificent views of His nature, power, and love, but the most tangible, understandable picture we have of God is His Son. When we examine Jesus’ character, words, and actions in the Gospel accounts, we perceive the heavenly Father more clearly.

The second reason to love God is because of what He has done. He’s not only our Creator but also our Savior. Through Jesus, the Father has rescued all believers from eternal destruction. We’ve been transferred from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of His Son and made heirs with Christ (Col. 1:12-13).

What distracts you from seeking to know and love the Lord? Have you carved time out of your busy schedule to read His Word and talk to Him in prayer? By doing this, you’ll discover that the saying “to know him is to love him,” will prove true of your amazing God and His Son Jesus Christ.

The Gift of Love

Is there someone in your life you’re struggling to love? In other words, is there a person for whom—despite your good intentions, effort, and awareness of how you ought to act—it just seems impossible to muster any affection? Knowing that we should love doesn’t automatically make us adequate for the task. However, being a Christian opens the door for God to enable us by pouring His love into our hearts through His indwelling Spirit (Rom. 5:5).

First John 4:19 says, “We love, because He first loved us.” What a relief to know that love is a gift from God and not something we must manufacture within ourselves. What’s more, the love He produces in us is not just for others but also for God Himself. He is aware that we have no resources within ourselves to love Him unless He enables us through His Holy Spirit.

The Lord doesn’t give us a command without providing whatever obedience requires. When we trust Christ as Savior, we receive not only forgiveness of our sins and adoption into God’s family but also the ability to love as He does. In fact, His love in and through us is evidence that we are born of God and know Him (John. 4:7). As we submit, Christ’s life is displayed in us through selfless, sacrificial care for others.

Although the Lord has richly poured His love into our hearts, we have the responsibility to grow in it. Every unlovable person in our life is an opportunity to let God teach us to love (1 Thess. 4:9-10). And every time we learn to know Him more intimately through His Word, our adoration of God increases.

Shortcutting God’s Will

In sports, construction, and travel, precision timing is essential. Rushing ahead of the plan could result in lost opportunities, future problems, or disaster. God’s plan for our life also contains time-sensitive elements. He orchestrates events to accomplish His will, bring Himself glory, and benefit us. This is why cooperation with His timing is so crucial. Instead of learning this lesson the hard way, consider what happened in the following situations from Scripture:

• Abraham and Sarah tried to gain the promised son through Hagar, resulting in domestic discord and anger (Gen. 16:1-6).
• Rebekah and Jacob used deception in an attempt to gain the Lord’s blessing, and Jacob became a fugitive (Gen. 27:1-43).
• Becoming impatient for Samuel’s arrival, King Saul offered the sacrifice himself, and God took away his kingdom (1 Samuel 13:8-14).

Refusing to wait for God’s plan brings heartache and closes doors. But trusting in the Lord’s wisdom, believing His promises, waiting for His timing, and committing our way to Him will bring the blessings of obedience.

There are no shortcuts to God’s will, and His path for us may not be easy. To cooperate with Him, we must die to self, relinquish our own desires and plans in order to pursue His, and understand that we are His servants.

Coming up with a plan and rushing ahead may seem like the best approach, but who is better qualified to lead the way—you or God? One pathway is filled with fretting and uncertainty, but the other leads to rest and blessing. Which will you choose?

Praying in God’s Will

Paul fervently desired that the body of Christ—individually and corporately—become spiritually mature. Knowing the Lord had planned for such growth to impact the world, the apostle asked that believers would know God’s will and then ...

Live a godly life (Col. 1:10). Paul prayed for our character, conversation, and conduct to be consistent with the Lord’s. Christians are Jesus’ representatives, so our lives ought to be an extension of His—with eyes that look compassionately at others, hearts that offer forgiveness and love, and hands that are engaged in service. A believer’s character, while imperfect, should increasingly reflect Christ’s righteousness.

Make our life count (v. 10). In God’s eyes, not everything we do is fruitful—much of our activity stems from a desire to please self or others. All that truly matters is what’s done in obedience to our Father. Jesus spoke about the importance of bearing much fruit, which is possible only when we stay connected with Him (John 15:5).

Experience God’s power (Col. 1:11). Through the Holy Spirit’s presence, we have all we need for carrying out our Father’s will.

Remain committed and grateful (Col. 1:12). God answers according to His perfect timing. We must be steadfast in prayer and thankful for everything He’s done.

Whether we pray these verses for ourselves or for others, we can know that our petitions are in accordance with the Lord’s will. And 1 John 5:14-15 tells us praying in this way carries the wonderful assurance that God is going to respond affirmatively.

Our Financial Security

Feeling safe is a basic human need. Many people think they are financially secure until a little blip comes along in the economy or their personal circumstances. Then the reality that they are vulnerable hits home. Contrary to what the world says, financial security is found not in a bank account or a retirement fund but in a relationship with the One who owns everything in heaven and on earth.

God is not too busy running the universe to be concerned about your financial situation. The truth is, He cares about every detail of your life, including your need for economic security. By trusting His directions about how to acquire and use money, you can experience peace, contentment, and joy.

When it comes to finances, three basic truths should govern our thinking:

1. God owns it all.
2. We are managers of His possessions.
3. We are responsible and will one day give an account to Him for the way we used His resources.

True financial security comes only when we use God’s money His way for His purposes. He alone knows the future and has the power to provide for our needs, whereas any financial strategy we might devise is backed only by human effort and wisdom.

Don’t you want to experience the stability of internal peace, even during an economic earthquake? Trusting in the Lord’s provision and obeying His instructions will fill you with confidence when others are gripped by fear and uncertainty. Rest in the knowledge that God provides for His children.

A Heart for God

I sometimes like to walk through a cemetery and read the epitaphs. It’s interesting to see the words that have been chosen to sum up a person’s life. This may seem like a morbid pastime, but it’s actually a helpful way to reassess one’s own life. We’re each going to leave a testimony of some kind when we die. Have you ever wondered what your loved ones will remember about you? What words do you want inscribed on your gravestone?

In today’s passage, the apostle Paul tells us how God saw David—as “a man after My heart, who will do all My will” (Acts 13:22). What an awesome testimony of a life well lived! Though David wasn’t a perfect man, he was one whose life was centered on God’s interests and desires.

David’s many psalms attest to the fact that his relationship with the Lord was the most important aspect of his life. His passion was to obey God and carry out His will. However, that doesn’t mean he was always obedient. Who can forget his failure with Bathsheba? But even when he sinned by committing adultery and murder, his heart was still bent toward God. The conviction he felt and his humble repentance afterward proved that his relationship with the Lord was still his top priority.

If God wrote a summary of your life, how would He describe you? Does your heart align with His, or have you allowed it to follow the pleasures and pursuits of this world? Unless we diligently pursue our relationship with the Lord, we will drift away from Him. Maybe it’s time for a course correction.

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!

How to Develop a Heart for God

What is your response when you read that David was a man after God’s own heart? (See 1 Samuel 13:14.) Many of us look up to him as a spiritual giant and think to ourselves, I could never be like that.

But the Lord hasn’t reserved this title for just one man. He wants all of us to seek Him as David did. One of our problems is the tendency to focus on just part of his story. We tend to forget that the scriptural account gives a record of David’s lifetime. He had to begin pursuing the Lord the same way we do—one step at a time.

A hunger for the heavenly Father doesn’t ordinarily appear all of a sudden, fully matured, in one’s heart. Most of the time, it’s something that must be cultivated, and the best place to begin is the Bible. That’s where we listen to the Lord as He speaks to us in His Word.

Another essential element is prayer. As you read His words, start talking to Him. If it all seems dry and meaningless, ask Him to work in your life to make Scripture come alive. He loves to answer prayer in accordance with His will.

The next step is meditation. Don’t “put in your time” so you can say you’ve read your Bible. Slow down and deliberately think about what you’ve read, asking, What am I discovering about God?

The last step is to commit. A hunger for God may not develop right away, but remember, you’re working for a changed heart that will last a lifetime, not a fleeting emotional experience. Continue to fill up with the fuel that brings transformation—the Word, prayer, and meditation.

Voiding God’s Grace

In verse 3 of today’s passage, the apostle Paul raises a probing question for all who have believed in Jesus Christ for salvation. He says, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” The subtle shift from confidence in Jesus to confidence in the flesh (or self) can all too easily go unnoticed.

When we receive salvation through faith in Jesus and first experience God’s glorious grace and freedom from sin, we know we could never have produced these ourselves. We’re filled with gratitude and awe that He would give us the gift of salvation.

However, as we grow in grace and submit to the disciplines of obedience and service, we begin to accumulate a record of good deeds and Christlike conduct. If we’re not careful, we may begin to put confidence in our own righteousness and obedience instead of the Holy Spirit’s work in our life.

There’s something within our fallen humanity that longs to take credit for the good we do. We’ll readily acknowledge that we are saved by grace, but then we assume that living the Christian life is now up to us—that God did His part by saving us, and now we must do ours. Such thinking elevates us and denies the power of the Spirit in us.

Only when we have a large view of God and a small view of ourselves will we be able to see that we add nothing to our salvation. Nor can we claim credit for the work the Holy Spirit does in and through us as He sanctifies and matures us in Christ.

Building Lasting Friendships

Genuine friends are rare treasures. In a very limited way, they are shadows of the perfect fellowship experienced within the Trinity. We are made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27); one aspect of this truth is that the Lord created us for meaningful relationships. In fact, it’s difficult to flourish if we live in isolation. By God’s design, we are made to share life with others, as well as to give and receive love.

Friendships come in various degrees—from surface relationships to intimate fellowship. Although you may have many acquaintances, you might remain lonely unless you have at least one or two close friends. If God has blessed you with an intimate friendship, be diligent to devote time and effort to develop and cultivate it.

Jonathan and David exemplified this type of closeness. One was a prince and the other was a shepherd, so they seemed like improbable companions. However, status didn’t matter to them. Besides demonstrating humility, they also showed great respect for each other’s faith and love for Israel. They both felt as committed as brothers and gave generously of themselves. For example, the robe Jonathan gave David—a prized possession of the king’s son—was evidence of his loyalty and love (1 Samuel 18:4). He even risked his life and reputation in order to save David (1 Samuel 20:30-34).

Do you have a person like this in your life—someone with whom to share your joys and sorrows, strengths and weaknesses, fears and pain? Thankfully, Jesus is the best friend we can have, but we also need close relationships with others. What can you do today to build this type of friendship?

A Place Called Heaven

Because mankind is earthbound until death, misconceptions about heaven are common. Some people imagine it as an ethereal world of formless spirits who float about, whereas others flatly deny its existence. A few have returned from near-death experiences to describe what they saw. Amid all the confusing and contradictory views, we would do well to remember that our only sure source of accurate information about heaven is God’s Word.

Jesus had firsthand knowledge of heaven because He came from there to earth. Shortly before dying, He told His disciples that He would go to His Father’s house to prepare a place for them and then would come back to take them to their new home. Several weeks later the disciples watched the resurrected Jesus ascend, as foretold, into heaven (Acts 1:9-11).

Ever since that day, believers throughout history have been waiting for the Lord’s promised return. Each one will be given an immortal resurrection body similar to Christ’s. It will be physical, visible, and recognizable to others. We will even be able to eat. (See Luke 24:41-43.) Heaven is a literal place for actual, tangible bodies—a place to live, serve God, and worship and enjoy Him forever.

Knowing all the specifics of our eternal destination is impossible, but we can be sure that Jesus will fulfill His promise to come back for us. Stepping into our custom-designed dwelling places, we will each realize that we’re finally home—and throughout eternity can never be separated from our heavenly Father.

Our Heavenly Place: New Jerusalem

While Jesus was on earth, John heard Him promise to prepare a place for His followers (John 14:3). Years later, the apostle was given a vision of that place, and he watched the New Jerusalem come down out of heaven. The sight was beyond human description, but he did his best to put this heavenly vision into earthly language. (See Revelation 21:9-27, Revelation 22:1-5.)

John saw the brilliance of God’s glory radiating from the city's structure, whose foundation gleamed with the dazzling colors of precious stones. The gates were made of pearls and the street of transparent gold. This nearly 1500-mile-long cube-shaped city was designed by the Lord as a place for Himself and mankind to live in perfect intimacy for all eternity. In Revelation 22:3-4, he notes that “the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face.”

Though we may have difficulty imagining the physical structure of the New Jerusalem, we understand and rejoice over the fact that certain things will be absent from this heavenly city—namely, there will be no pain, tears, mourning, or death. Sin and every one of its consequences will be removed. All frustration, boredom, and problems will cease. No one will have handicaps, and our bodies will never grow tired or sick.

When the difficulties you face become burdensome, focus on your glorious heavenly future. The only time you will ever experience trouble and pain is in this earthly life. When you walk on the streets of New Jerusalem with the Savior, all the old ravages of sin will be gone, and your joy will be full.

When We Feel Burned Out

What emotions come to mind when you hear the words burden and burnout? These terms make us sigh, don’t they? In this fast-paced, overworked world, most of us have felt the tiring numbness of carrying too much on our shoulders, in our schedules, and on our minds. Here are three ways a Christian should respond to these feelings:

Surrender to Christ. Jesus said to come to Him. There’s peaceful rest in surrendering our load to the Lord. His hands are large enough to hold anything and everything we need Him to handle. If we try to control and manage everything, we will wear ourselves out and eventually start dropping it all.

Depend on Christ. Jesus invites us to take His yoke and let Him bear our burdens. Although at first we may readily relinquish our concerns to the Lord, after a while we may try to take our burden back in an attempt to fix things ourselves. But by doing this, we interfere with the solution God wants to bring, and we end up wearing ourselves out once again. The truth is that only God has both the power and perspective to bring all matters to their proper conclusion (Rom. 8:28).

Trust Christ. The Savior encourages us to learn from Him. As we fill our minds with the truth of His words, our trust in Him grows. His yoke will become easy, and we’ll see it as the safest and happiest place to be. When we know we never have to carry burdens alone, they get lighter.

What do you have to lose by coming to Jesus, taking His yoke, and learning from Him? Nothing but your burdens of exhaustion, stress, and anxiety.

ksazma posted:
Keith posted:
ksazma posted:

Damn, brother Keith still carrying on his one man show heah. 

You bet brother. How are you and the family?

I deh heah bro. Family doing well too. Hopr you and family doing well too. 

All is well by God grace

ksazma posted:
Keith posted:

 

What do you have to lose by coming to Jesus, 

One has nothing to lose by going to Jesus. They have nothing to gain either. Realistically, Jesus never had anything to give.

That's right, you have noting to lose by accepting Jesus Christ as savior. What you gain would be eternal life with the savior. 

To truly follow Christ means He has become everything to us; we have to apply the truths we learn from His Word and live as if Jesus walked beside us in person. As we acknowledging Christ as Lord and savior we gain eternity with Him but to forsake Him we would have a life apart from him, you don't want to be separated from Christ. So what you have to loose? You prefer spending eternity in Heaven/ away from Christ?

Jesus give His life so that you and I can spent eternity with Him and the father in heaven. He was the sacrificial lamb of God His father for our sins.

Philippians 1:19-24
19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Keith posted:
 

To truly follow Christ means He has become everything to us; 

The only problem with this my brother is that Jesus is meaningless and can never be everything to me. I already have what I need and I didn't have to accept Jesus as savior. Most of the world's population throughout history has gotten by without accepting Jesus as savior. It is not wise to depend so much from one man. Especially from a man who had so little. 

The Moments That Sustain Us

Every believer experiences moments of challenge or discomfort. The question is, How do we deal with them? King David discovered that remaining strong and fruitful during trying circumstances begins with praising the Lord. Then, once his focus shifted upward, he was ready to meditate on the glorious splendor of God’s majesty and also on His wonderful works (Psalm 145:5).

Meditation involves Bible reading but goes far beyond skimming a section the way we might with any other book. Instead, we need to pray over the verses, asking God to show us by His Spirit what the passage means, what it says about Him, and how we can apply His words to our life.

What keeps us from meditating upon the Lord and His Word? We live in such a busy culture that it’s often difficult for us to slow down, settle our racing thoughts, and sit quietly with God’s Word before us. As we try to concentrate, our minds are bombarded with thoughts of all we need to do. Being with the Lord may not seem as urgent as our other tasks, but it’s much more important.

Meditating on Scripture increases our thirst for God, enlarges our perspective of Him, teaches us to think biblically, and increases our discernment. The insights we gain from His Word bring encouragement, reminding us of God’s constant presence and strengthening us for whatever lies ahead.

The spiritual benefits of time alone with the Lord are worth whatever sacrifice we have to make. Through meditation, our heart begins to digest the truths we know intellectually so they can impact our everyday life.

ksazma posted:
Keith posted:
 

To truly follow Christ means He has become everything to us; 

The only problem with this my brother is that Jesus is meaningless and can never be everything to me. I already have what I need and I didn't have to accept Jesus as savior. Most of the world's population throughout history has gotten by without accepting Jesus as savior. It is not wise to depend so much from one man. Especially from a man who had so little. 

You don't have a personal relationship with Christ as I do so your statement above is excuse on that basis. What I mean by personal relationship is the time spent reading, studying God's word, praying; seeing Him answer prayers and what He has done in my life and others around me. I can depend on Christ, in all my years He has never failed me.

Are you afraid to put your hands to the plow knowing that you will never return to your way of life? Christ came so that you and I would be reconciled back to God and have life everlasting.

For a man who had so little here is what He did in the little time he had. Let us look at several characteristics of His life, characteristics we can strive for in our own lives.

Humility - Philippians 2:5-8 describes the extent of Jesus' humility: "Our attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!" God blesses those who show humility!

Service - Matthew 20:28 says, "…The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Jesus is the ultimate example of a man who desired to serve others. He did tasks that were generally left to the servants, like washing feet. John 13:5 describes an event where Jesus served His disciples: "After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him." Is your life characterized by a servant's heart?

Glorify God - Jesus said, "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you." Jesus came to earth to glorify His Father. Everything we do should be done to glorify the Father: 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

Prayer - What a prayer life Jesus experienced! He was in constant communion with His Father and often got up early in the morning to talk with God. Mark 1:35 says, "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." Do you enjoy constant fellowship with God?

Sacrifice - Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice! He gave His life so that we (sinful beings) can spend an eternity in heaven with Him. He provided His life - the ultimate sacrifice of His life - as a free gift to all who will believe! 1 John 2:2 says, "He [Jesus] is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." When was the last time you sacrificed something for someone else. I'm not talking about animal sacrifices here, but the act of giving up something for God, a friend, or a complete stranger. God wants your sacrifice. Romans 12:1 says, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship."

Don't worry about the world's past/present population and their salvation, you should focus on yours first. Have a blessed day my friend.

Keith posted:


Are you afraid to put your hands to the plow knowing that you will never return to your way of life?

 

I have nothing to be afraid of my friend. My life is perfect as it is. What I learned back in the late 70's early 80's still work very well for me even today. I don't feel any emptiness not surrendering to Jesus. And I am not the only one who feels this way. The majority of people who have walked the earth from its inception did perfectly fine without surrendering to Jesus. But if that works for you, then by all means.

Comfort in Jesus

What brings you comfort when you are suffering or going through stressful times? Although well-meaning friends may assure you that everything will be all right, the person who truly comforts is the one who puts an arm around your shoulder and says, “I’m familiar with the pain you are feeling, and I know it hurts.”

Jesus is that kind of comforter for us. He came to earth as a human, experienced pain and suffering, and faced temptation without giving in to sin. He comes alongside to help us by being ...

Our Friend. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus isn’t a companion in word only; He demonstrated that He is the best possible friend because He willingly went to the cross to save us from our sins. He sacrificed Himself for us so we could be with Him forever.

Our High Priest. He became the Mediator between holy God and sinful mankind by offering His own blood as a sacrifice to reconcile us to the Father. Now we have immediate access to God in time of need.

Our Intercessor. Jesus sits at the Father’s right hand, interceding for us. We don’t always pray correctly, but what a comfort to know that the One who is perfect speaks to the Father on our behalf.

On whom do you lean during difficult times? Although people may disappoint us with quick-fix responses to our hurt, Jesus Christ understands our pain and offers unlimited compassion and help when we come to Him.

ksazma posted:
Keith posted:


Are you afraid to put your hands to the plow knowing that you will never return to your way of life?

 

I have nothing to be afraid of my friend. My life is perfect as it is. What I learned back in the late 70's early 80's still work very well for me even today. I don't feel any emptiness not surrendering to Jesus. And I am not the only one who feels this way. The majority of people who have walked the earth from its inception did perfectly fine without surrendering to Jesus. But if that works for you, then by all means.

Hey, I am delighted to hear things are perfect with you. I'll continue to pray that it remain the same and that you will know Christ as lord and savior before depart this world my friend. All the best.

Overcoming Life’s Ups and Downs

Contentment is something we all desire yet too seldom have. If it comes, it usually seems short-lived. And often we think that contentment is possible only if all our circumstances are comfortable and there are no conflicts or misunderstandings in our relationships.

The apostle Paul proves that perfect conditions are not the source of contentment. He wrote his letter to the Philippians while he was in a Roman prison. Contentment was something he had to learn, not through comfort but through hardship and suffering. Paul relied on spiritual truths to enable him to face his difficulties God’s way—without complaint, worry, or fear.

In every trial, we have a choice to view the situation from our perspective or from God’s. Depending on our focus, we either react emotionally or respond spiritually, based on God’s Word and promises. Inner turmoil and outward agitation result when we focus on feelings instead of spiritual principles. But when we habitually see every matter from God’s point of view, then irritation, anger, and blame will be replaced by an inner quietness and confidence.

Is it really possible to face serious trials and have God’s peace? According to Paul, the answer is yes. We can be content in all circumstances through Christ’s strength (Phil. 4:13). This isn’t a natural response but a supernatural one, which God alone can produce in the lives of His children. If we’ll let divine truths interpret our trials and trust the Holy Spirit to empower us to respond in faith, our heart will find rest no matter what goes on around us. 

Keith posted:
ksazma posted:
Keith posted:


Are you afraid to put your hands to the plow knowing that you will never return to your way of life?

 

I have nothing to be afraid of my friend. My life is perfect as it is. What I learned back in the late 70's early 80's still work very well for me even today. I don't feel any emptiness not surrendering to Jesus. And I am not the only one who feels this way. The majority of people who have walked the earth from its inception did perfectly fine without surrendering to Jesus. But if that works for you, then by all means.

Hey, I am delighted to hear things are perfect with you. I'll continue to pray that it remain the same and that you will know Christ as lord and savior before depart this world my friend. All the best.

Thank you but it is not necessary for me to know Jesus as lord and savior. What I currently have is all I need. As the old saying goes, ‘if it isn’t broken, why fix it’. Have a good day.

The Spiritual Fruit of Patience

The list known as “Fruit of the Spirit” includes patience (Gal. 5:22-23), but that does not mean the Holy Spirit wills it into the believer’s life. Instead, He acts as our ever-dependable teacher and the one who enables our growth. Spiritual fruit is something that matures over time as we obey the heavenly Father and surrender to His will.

Patience with both God and our fellow man is an outgrowth of deepening faith. The Holy Spirit urges believers to take note of the Lord’s handiwork on the journey through life. Our confidence in Him is nurtured by answered prayer, the rich blessings that arise unexpectedly from difficult circumstances, and every trace of good that God salvages from a bad situation. As our trust in His goodness and sovereignty grows, we find ourselves more willing to wait for God’s solutions and outcomes.

In fact, I believe that recognizing God’s sovereignty is key to developing patience. A significant part of surrendering to His absolute control is waiting upon Him to do what He will. It is wisdom to realize that our lives unfold according to His master plan—exasperated toe tapping doesn’t make Him speed up one bit. God expects His children to step into His timeline and practice patience no matter what pace He sets.

Patience doesn’t come naturally. That’s why we have the Holy Spirit. He strengthens our resolve to endure without complaint when progress seems sluggish. After all, God is slow only from a human standpoint. From a divine, eternal perspective, He’s always working at the perfect speed.

Our Inheritance

Do you ever feel as if the Christian life is nothing but sacrifice? After all, Jesus said those who follow Him must deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow Him (Luke 9:23). If we look at salvation only from an earthly perspective, it may seem costly, but today’s passage opens our eyes to the vast riches of grace that God has lavished upon us in Christ Jesus.

From start to finish, our salvation includes an abundance beyond imagination. The climax of these spiritual blessings is found in Ephesians 1:11: “We have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose.” At the moment we come to faith, we receive every benefit mentioned in today’s passage, along with the promise of future blessings. The Holy Spirit within us is the pledge, or deposit, guaranteeing our inheritance.

Let’s consider just one aspect of our amazing legacy in Christ—our physical form. Philippians 3:21 says that when Jesus returns, He will “transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory.” Right now we groan in bodies weakened and corrupted by sin, but these will be changed in the twinkling of an eye when Jesus comes for us.

John describes it this way: “We know that when He appears, we will be like Him” (1 John 3:2). God’s purpose of glorifying His Son in us will then be accomplished as we are fully conformed to Christ’s likeness. So how are we to live in light of our coming inheritance? John summarizes the answer quite nicely in the next verse: “Everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

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