What’s Important

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What’s important is not what kind of car you drive,
but rather how many people you give a lift.

What’s important is not the size of your house,
but rather the number of people you welcome into your home.

What’s important is not your social status,
but whether you live your life with class.

What’s important is not what you possess,
but rather what you give.

What’s important is not how many friends you have,
but rather how many to whom you are a friend.

What’s important is not how much overtime you worked,
but rather if you work overtime for your family and loved ones.

What’s important is not if you live in a great neighborhood,
but rather how you treat your neighbor.

~Author Unknown

Hindered

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This picture shows an easy way across these mountains. One could get across without the bridge, however, it would be a hard trip. Paul was a Christian that did not take the easy road. His life was a depiction of a difficult path. However, he never swayed. There is no account in history that I have read that shows Paul swayed from the truth. Peter swayed at the beginning but not Paul.

~Galatians 5:7-9 Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? (7) This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. (8 ) A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. (9)

Are you weary my friend? Are you tired of the constant spiritual battle that you are fighting? I’m sure if anyone could be weary of the battle it was the Apostle Paul. However, not once do we read about him complaining or slipping. His letter to the Galatians shows him exhorting the brethren for having started out as strong Christians but were not continuing in the faith. Why? Because they stopped obeying the truth. They were listening to false teachings and it was beginning to corrupt them. He emphasized that these teachings did not come from the Holy Spirit (verse 8 ).

Have you ever noticed how bread is made? There is a great object lesson in the process. Without yeast, the dough will not rise. Paul said that a little yeast causes the whole lump of bread to rise, not just a portion of it. He wanted the Galatians to know that when false teaching sets into one believer’s life, he not only corrupts himself but he corrupts the church of which he is a member. False doctrine sets in and then the church body will eventually follow. Dough does not rise immediately once yeast is added. If you notice, it rises slowly. It also needs to be in the right environment – warm temperature and covered. Satan is the father of lies. He is a master deceiver. He will cause compromise to creep into a church using those who are not faithful in the Word or those who are tired of fighting.

Be careful, dear Christian. If you are weary of this battle, do not let your guard down. This is the perfect environment for compromise. There are other believers out there that need you to stand firm in the faith. Be like Paul – do not let Satan have the victory. Instead, run the race to the finish – staying strong in the Word – strong in the faith!

If someone were to write a book about your spiritual walk on this earth after you die, would it be similar to the legacy that Paul left behind? Don’t be weary, my friend. Three times we are told in the New Testament to be strong:

~1 Corinthians 16:13 Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.

~Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

~2 Timothy 2:1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Paul told us to be strong in the faith, strong in the Lord and strong in the grace that is in Christ. This is what sustained Paul. Let it sustain you, dear Christian!

The Weight of the World

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We all feel as though we are at the end of our rope at times. We feel like the only thing that can help us is a miracle! :-)

That is when we have to dig down into our hearts and pull out the spiritual food we were nourished with from our time spent in our Bibles. This is when we remember that we serve the God of all grace!


Louise Redden, a poorly dressed lady with a look of defeat on her face, walked into a grocery store. She approached the owner of the store in a most humble manner and asked if he would let her charge a few groceries. She softly explained that her husband was very ill and unable to work, they had seven children and they needed food. John Longhouse, the grocer, scoffed at her and requested that she leave his store at once. Visualizing the family needs, she said:

“Please, sir! I will bring you the money just as soon as I can.”

John told her he could not give her credit, since she did not have a charge account at his store. Standing beside the counter was a customer who overheard the conversation between the two. The customer walked forward and told the grocer that he would stand good for whatever she needed for her family.

The grocer said in a very reluctant voice, “Do you have a grocery list?”

Louise replied, “Yes sir.”

“OK,” he said, “put your grocery list on the scales and whatever your grocery list weighs, I will give you that amount in groceries.”

Louise, hesitated a moment with a bowed head, then she reached into her purse and took out a piece of paper and scribbled something on it. She then laid the piece of paper on the scale carefully with her head still bowed. The eyes of the grocer and the customer showed amazement when the scales went down and stayed down.

The grocer, staring at the scales, turned slowly to the customer and said begrudgingly,

“I can’t believe it.”

The customer smiled and the grocer started putting the groceries on the other side of the scales. The scale did not balance so he continued to put more and more groceries on them until the scales would hold no more. The grocer stood there in utter disgust. Finally, he grabbed the piece of paper from the scales and looked at it with greater amazement. It was not a grocery list, it was a prayer, which said:

“Dear Lord, you know my needs and I am leaving this in your hands.”

The grocer gave her the groceries that he had gathered and stood in stunned silence. Louise thanked him and left the store. The other customer handed a fifty-dollar bill to the grocer and said,

“It was worth every penny of it… Only God Knows how much a prayer weighs.”

Author Unknown

Behind Door #….

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As the time draws nearer to Christ’s return, we are seeing more and more compromise in the Church. Jesus was not a compromiser. Even as He walked this earth, He told mankind that there was only one way to Heaven and that was through Him.

~John 10:9 Jesus said: “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture”.

Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, is the door to Heaven. There is only One Door that is acceptable. Many will say that this is a narrow-minded approach to salvation. However, Christ was quite clear and made no bones about it during His ministry.

~John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

You can be sure that the way of salvation is not going to be an easy route. It is not going to be a compromising of the masses. The door that the majority will wish to take to Heaven is a wide door – it fits many compromises. It can be compared to the saying, “There are many roads that lead to Rome.” However, Christ said that there is only one way. He also said that if you deceive yourself, you will be on a wide road along with countless others making your own way to Heaven.

Christ’s way, however, is a path that is not followed by many. It is a single path with no variation and no compromise. Christ is not narrow-minded. In fact, He gave us exactly what we needed to do to enter through the Door. Jesus said that few will find the Truth.

~Matthew 7:13-14 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: (13) Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (14)

Jesus is the only way to Heaven! Many will ignore the Bible’s plain teaching and will create their own doctrine – their own path. But that path will lead to destruction (verse 13). Salvation is a major topic – why would God leave such an important thing as our eternal life in the hands of man? He didn’t! He left us clear instruction as to what to do.

Jesus said,

~Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.


~Luke 13:3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

There is only one way to Heaven. Jesus is the only way – He is the Door – He is the way, the truth and the life! NO man can go to Heaven without Him.

~John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Christ came to earth in human flesh so He could relieve us of the burden of working our way to Heaven. Mankind had proven that it was impossible to be “good enough.” Mankind had proven that it was an effort in futility to try to achieve enough righteousness to enter Heaven. God’s mercy upon mankind was so great that He came to take on our burden of sin and become the Door for us to enter into Heaven’s gates.

Acknowledge Christ as the Saviour of your sins. Repent of them – turn away from your sins and call upon the name of Jesus Christ.

~Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

You cannot merely believe in Jesus and stay in your current spiritual condition. When one actually goes through the Door and is saved, one is changed. The desire to sin will dissipate as you grow as a Christian.

~2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Admit to yourself that you are a sinner, accept Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as payment for your sin, walk through the Door and be born again in newness of life!

Learning from Dirt Roads

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Dirt Roads
– By Paul Harvey

What’s mainly wrong with society today is that too many Dirt Roads have been paved.

There’s not a problem in America today, crime, drugs, education, divorce, delinquency that wouldn’t be remedied, if we just had more Dirt Roads, because Dirt Roads give character.

People that live at the end of Dirt Roads learn early on that life is a bumpy ride.

That it can jar you right down to your teeth sometimes, but it’s worth it, if at the end is home…a loving spouse, happy kids and a dog.

We wouldn’t have near the trouble with our educational system if our kids got their exercise walking a Dirt Road with other kids, from whom they learn how to get along.

There was less crime in our streets before they were paved.

Criminals didn’t walk two dusty miles to rob or rape, if they knew they’d be welcomed by 5 barking dogs and a double barrel shotgun.

And there were no drive by shootings.

Our values were better when our roads were worse!

People did not worship their cars more than their kids, and motorists were more courteous, they didn’t tailgate by riding the bumper or the guy in front would choke you with dust & bust your windshield with rocks.

Dirt Roads taught patience.

Dirt Roads were environmentally friendly, you didn’t hop in your car for a quart of milk you walked to the barn for your milk.

For your mail, you walked to the mail box.

What if it rained and the Dirt Road got washed out? That was the best part, then you stayed home and had some family time, roasted marshmallows and popped popcorn and pony rode on Daddy’s shoulders and learned how to make prettier quilts than anybody.

At the end of Dirt Roads, you soon learned that bad words tasted like soap.

Most paved roads lead to trouble, Dirt Roads more likely lead to a fishing creek or a swimming hole.

At the end of a Dirt Road, the only time we even locked our car was in August, because if we didn’t some neighbor would fill it with too much zucchini.

At the end of a Dirt Road, there was always extra springtime income, from when city dudes would get stuck, you’d have to hitch up a team and pull them out.

Usually you got a dollar…always you got a new friend…at the end of a Dirt Road!

Corinthian Christian

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Excellent teaching!

By Richard D. Sandlin (printed with permission)

I tell young preachers who are entering their first pastorate to begin it by teaching through 1 Corinthians. Why do I say this? Because we are in the age of the Corinthian Christian. You cannot read through this book and not notice the similarities.They boasted of their spiritual gifts, but never recognized the Giver; they gloried in preachers, but not in God; fornication was the accepted norm; they sued one another; they drank to excess, and came to church that way; divorce was rampant; their religious trinkets (idols) were more important to them than a Divine relationship; there was the masculinization of women and the feminization of men. We could go on, but this should suffice to prove my point.

What was the cure for such a people and church? Well, Paul did not give them a long list of man-made rules. He gave them a simple cure-all for everything. It has to do with ownership:

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s (6:19-20).

There is no spiritual problem that the filling of the Holy Spirit cannot solve.

Our Advocate

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(1 Jn 2:1) My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

The words attorney or lawyer are derived from the word advocate. A defense attorney pleads the cause of his client so that his client can be vindicated. Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines it well:

AD’VOCATE, n. [L. advocatus, from advoco, to call for, to plead for; of ad and voco, to call. See Vocal.]1. Advocate, in its primary sense, signifies, one who pleads the cause of another in a court of civil law. Hence,2. One who pleads the cause of another before any tribunal or judicial court, as a barrister in the English courts. We say, a man is a learned lawyer and an able advocate.3. One who defends, vindicates, or espouses a cause, by argument; one who is friendly to; as, an advocate for peace, or for the oppressed.

In scripture, Christ is called an advocate for his people.

We have an advocate with the father. 1 John 2.

AD’VOCATE, v.t. To plead in favor of; to defend by argument, before a tribunal; to support or vindicate.

 

Can you see it now? Ole slew foot is standing before God and accusing the brethren. I see him as the Prosecuting Attorney trying to convince God that we are guilty and we must be punished! But our Defense Attorney, our Advocate, is there as well, pleading our cause, defending the Christian!

There is a big difference between the lawyers of the world and our Great Advocate! Our Advocate is Jesus Christ, the righteous One! Although we are guilty before a Holy God, our Advocate paid our penalty! Our Advocate paid the debt and we are no longer found guilty. Jesus Christ stands before His Father and fights for us against Satan.

I can hear Jesus pleading my case before the Father, “Father, don’t listen to the father of lies, Satan! Kate believes that I paid her sin debt with my very own blood on the cross. Kate has accepted me as her Saviour and my blood now covers her, Father!”

The Father now sees the blood of His Precious Son, Jesus Christ, and Jesus’ blood covers me and the Father’s judgment of burning eternally in the Lake of Fire passes over me! Amen and amen! Praise the Lord!

As a Christian, it is so important for us to understand the different Names of Jesus. God put those different names in His Word to describe Himself to us. The believer who studies the Bible will glean so much and rejoice because he has a better understanding of the God he serves! Defining the various Names of Jesus helps us to see His character and allows us to love Him even more!

The Good Shepherd

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We see throughout God’s Word how God uses the medium of speech for His Word to be communicated to His people. Is it any wonder then that the Lord would compare Himself to a shepherd? Many years ago, I did a study on the job of a shepherd in biblical times. This comparison of the shepherd to our Lord is an absolute blessing! I pray you will receive a blessing today.

Did you know that the shepherd speaks to his sheep? The sheep actually recognize their own shepherd’s voice and won’t respond to another shepherd’s voice. (Joh 10:27) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: I don’t know about you, but this brings me great comfort. A good part of Christ’s earthly ministry was spent teaching His disciples. They sat at His feet listening to His lessons and parables. He spoke to them and shared with them His Father’s will. (Mar 6:34) And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. Jesus knew they were without a shepherd and He became their Shepherd and taught them. He taught them from the Scriptures. How can the Christian hear Jesus’ voice today? Christ is known as the Word of God, therefore, it is through God’s Word that we can hear His voice! In fact, without the Word in our lives, we will make mistakes. (Mat 22:29) Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. The Word is God’s power in our lives. (Joh 1:12) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

The shepherd not only speaks to his sheep, he leads his sheep and he knows each one of them, watching over them day and night. He knows each one of sheep personally – he knows each one of their markings. In fact, shepherds would name their sheep to pass the time. (Joh 10:3) To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. Does this not bring you comfort, dear Christian? Your Shepherd, Jesus Christ, calls you by name! When I was being wooed by the Holy Spirit to be saved, Jesus was saying, “Kate, come to Me”! Praise His Holy Name! After salvation, I instantly heard my Shepherd’s voice as I read the Word! The Word of God lit up like a neon sign and the Shepherd’s message was loud and clear to me. The pages of my Bible were no longer dry reading but they were alive!

Being a shepherd was a very responsible job. The shepherd had to keep count of his sheep and give an account for any that were lost. The owner would demand to be paid for each one that was lost. (Mat 18:12) How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? In today’s mind set, one wonders why so much time would be spent looking for one lost sheep. But when a price is attached to that sheep, one can clearly understand because that lost sheep is of value to the shepherd. Christ paid for each of us with a great price, my friend – with His own life. Our Shepherd gave up His life for each one of us. As the shepherd would bring his sheep in at night, he would count them as they passed by under his hand. Each one was touched by him. Christ touches each one of us through His Word.

The shepherd also anointed his sheep’s heads with oil. The Shepherd in Psalm 23:5 anoints His sheep’s head with oil. (Psa 23:5) Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. The oil symbolizes receiving God’s anointing – receiving God’s grace to live the Christian life. The oil was used for medicinal purposes – being placed on a sheep’s head kept the sheep from getting sun stroke. It would also heal the bramble scratches. As Moses anointed the tabernacle (Lev. 8:10-12) and sanctified it, so should the Christian anoint himself (2 Pet. 1:14) to sanctify himself daily to serve the Lord. As we read the Word, we hear God speaking to us. As we apply what we have been taught by the Word, we become more and more set apart from the world.

As the shepherd spoke, he would lead his sheep daily to rest at noon in a quiet pasture and to a safe drinking place in the evening. Our Shepherd leads us to quiet pastures in His Word – we need to make time to graze there and be fed spiritually. We also are led to a safe drinking place in the Word of God. It is in our Bibles that we find everlasting water – we do not thirst when we live by the Word. The Bible is a living Book – bringing conviction and direction for the believer. (Joh 4:14) But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. Not only does salvation come from the blessed pages of our Bible but when we hear the Shepherd’s voice, we follow and receive eternal life.

At dusk, when the shepherd can no longer be easily seen by his sheep, he taps the rocks with his staff to assure them he is near. This brought a whole new meaning to me as to why David said that God’s rod and staff comforted him. (Psa 23:4) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. The shepherd’s staff guides the sheep and his rod, or club, protects them from attacks of wild beasts. The sheep are comforted by the sound of the staff on the rocks – they know the shepherd is near and ready to protect them. When we are in the Word, we are being guided by our Shepherd, the Word of God, Jesus Christ. We can hear His staff hitting the rock because we recognize Him throughout the Bible. When we are in the Word, we are protected from the enemy. We recognize false doctrine when we read it and hear it because we have seen and heard the truth from the true Shepherd. It is said that bank tellers are trained to catch counterfeit money by having them handle and touch real money. We will recognize false doctrine because we are hearing and reading true doctrine. The more we are in the Word of God, the easier it will be for us to recognize false gospels and heresy.

The job of a shepherd was considered to be an abomination to Egyptians. (Gen 46:34) That ye shall say, Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians. Since Egypt is considered to be a type of the world, the world will consider Christ to be an abomination. (Joh 1:10) He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. Why? Jesus is an abomination to the world because He exposes their sin. (Joh 7:7) The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. Our Shepherd will expose our sin so that we can remove it from our lives.

What a blessed comparison this has been indeed! Our Shepherd speaks to us in His Word. His words guide us, feed us and anoint us to do His work. How beautiful are the words of our Saviour as we read the Bible each day! How can we survive without them?

The Candle

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Proverbs 24:19-20 (19) Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked; (20) For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.

In biblical times, a lighted candle in the window of a house indicated that “all was well” inside. However, when the candle’s flame was out, it meant death had visited that home. This example gives us a different look at today’s verse. When we envy the sinner’s successes in life, we make a grave mistake which leads us to sin. This fuels the sin of covetousness and we begin to desire the world’s goodies, if you will. God’s Word is clear – the wicked (the lost) will not be found in Heaven (Revelation 21:8). Their candle will be put out and they shall be cast into the Lake of Fire for all eternity (Revelation 20:15).

The wicked receive their reward here on earth: humanitarian awards, philanthropic awards, riches, glamorous houses and “things,” etc.  They cannot take these rewards to Heaven.  Their candle will most assuredly go out and there will be no light in Hell.  Hell is a place where there is complete darkness (2 Peter 2:4, Jude 1:13).  There is no mistake in today’s text.  God’s symbolises of death in a dark home and compares it to eternal darkness is no coincidence.  God means what He says and says what He means.

Is it any wonder that Christ used these words:

John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

Whoever is “in Jesus” is in the light.  Our candle does not go out at night – we have the Light of the World dwelling within us, amen?  Therefore, don’t be envious of man’s riches but be burdened and filled with compassion because that man’s candle will go out and he will be cast into eternity in utter darkness.  Reach the lost, friend!  Reach them before it’s eternally too late for them!

Are We Ever Desolate?

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Psalm 34:22 The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.

Noah Webster defines the words redeemed and desolate as:

REDEE’MED, pp. Ransomed; delivered from bondage, distress, penalty, liability, or from the possession of another, by paying an equivalent.

 

DESOLATE, a. 1. Destitute or deprived of inhabitants; desert; uninhabited; denoting either stripped of inhabitants, or never having been inhabitated; as a desolate wilderness.
I will make the cities of Judah desolate, without an inhabitant. Jer. 9.
2. Laid waste; in a ruinous condition; neglected; destroyed; as desolate altars; desolate towers. Ezek. Zeph.
3. Solitary; without a companion; afflicted.
Tamar remained desolate in Absaloms house. 2 Sam. 13.
4. Deserted of God; deprived of comfort.
My heart within me is desolate. Ps. 143.

Does this not encourage your heart, Saint?  We all know that Christ died for our sins.  He paid the equivalent debt of our sin (eternity in Hell) by His own blood!  He has removed that “ownership, if you will,” of the devil to His own ownership!  We are His!!  We have been delivered from bondage and liability, dear Saint!  Glory!  Does this not encourage your heart?

Therefore, the Saint is never desolate.  We possess the Holy Spirit – we are inhabited by Him forever.  (Hebrews 13:5b)  Our eternal Home will be inhabited by the redeemed!  Of this we should have no doubt!  Rejoice, oh Christian! :)

Strength

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1 Chronicles 22:13b … be strong, and of good courage; dread not, nor be dismayed.

Where lies your strength today, Christian?  Does everything that crosses your path fall within your capabilities?  What about those that are above your capabilities?  From where / what / who do you pull your strength?  God’s Word encourages us not to be dismayed.  I find it interesting that the words “nor be dismayed” appear six times in the King James Bible.  Do you think that God knew the man/woman He created would get dismayed from time to time?  Of course, He knew!  He created us and, therefore, knows our hearts and thoughts.

Sixty-three times, the Word of God exhorts us to “fear not”!  God does not want us living in fear, being discouraged or dismayed.  He wants us to find complete rest in Him.  Is it any wonder He wants us to trust Him?  He alone can bring that perfect peace!  Are you struggling today, Christian?

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Healing

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A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. (Pro 17:22)

What needs healing in your life today? Do you have a broken spirit? Do you have hurt feelings? Do you have a broken body or chronic illness? Does your marriage need healing? What is it in your life that is in need of fixing? All these areas mentioned need one thing: the Lord, Jesus Christ, in the center of your life. Is He? He should be. When Christ is the center of our thoughts, words and deeds, it is like a good medicine to us. Our spirit is not broken but encouraged and uplifted.

Not all trials are chastisement from God. Let’s assume today the trial you are experiencing is not due to chastisement but it is to ultimately bring glory to God. The Word has given us accounts so that we can encourage ourselves and grow thereby. One could not find a greater account than Job. However, there is also a New Testament account by which we can learn. Paul had a thorn in his flesh and asked God to take it away three times. But the Lord told Paul, And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Co 12:9) Noah Webster defines the word grace in this verse as:

3. Favorable influence of God; divine influence or the influence of the spirit, in renewing the heart and restraining from sin.

Christ told Paul that God’s favorable, divine influence and influence of the spirit should be enough. God was saying that He would renew Paul’s heart – in essence bring healing to his heart and that would keep him going. Through this trial, God’s strength would be made perfect in Paul’s weakness. People would be able to see the power of God in Paul’s life rather than his infirmity. Is this not what was achieved? Do we not look at Paul’s life as one filled with the power of God?

Because of the promise God gave him, Paul knew that the Lord would always be ready to hear his cry when he struggled with is trial. So that they cause the cry of the poor to come unto him, and he heareth the cry of the afflicted. (Job 34:28 ) Although Paul knew that his thorn would not be removed, he also knew that the Lord would supply exactly what he needed in the healing of his spirit. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. (Mal 4:2) No matter what some may believe, God does not always choose to heal our bodies. There are many accounts in Scripture of people who were sick or afflicted and were used to the glory of God. How many times have we read the account of Moses? The Word says in Ex 4:10-14 that Moses told God that he was slow of tongue and could not speak to his people. God admonished Moses and told him that He created his tongue and nothing is too great for the Creator. But Moses was still doubting at this point – I can almost see a stubborn Moses, can’t you? He had to be because the Word says that God’s anger was kindled against Moses. Would you be angry with your child if they just shared their feeling of inadequacy? No, you’d be moved with compassion and be patient and understanding, wouldn’t you. However, if your child continued acting this way, even after you had assured him that you would take care of everything, his lack of faith would provoke you. I believe that Moses’ lack of faith in God at this point provoked His God. But God, in His infinite mercy, accommodated Moses by placing Aaron in his life. God could have removed Moses’ problem with his tongue, but He didn’t. Could it be that God would not have been glorified by Moses? I’ve often wondered about this. Instead, God allowed Moses to keep this physical problem. Maybe it was to make Moses humble – maybe it was to build Moses’ faith. But the fact of the matter is that God does not choose to heal all of our infirmities. What He does promise is that He will be there to help us as we deal with them.

What do you need in your life today, Christian? Are you at the end of your rope? Has your body failed you? Have relationships failed you? Have you asked God to remove these burdens or to heal you from your physical problems? Has He removed them? If not, is God saying to you what He said to Paul almost 2,000 years ago? Is God telling you that His grace is sufficient for you today? It’s a hard pill to swallow, isn’t it? It’s not what Paul wanted to hear, I’m sure, but the lesson in this verse is how Paul accepted the difficult news. There’s no record of him wallowing in self pity that I’ve ever read. However, he accepted the thorn in his flesh and moved forward in his service for the Lord. Paul’s testimony in this area portrays a selflessness on Paul’s part. Paul did not dwell on God’s “No” answer. He learned to accept that God’s grace was sufficient for him. He learned how to deal with that. What is shown through his testimony is that he was a yielded vessel unto God no matter what God allowed in his life. Are we as yielded as Paul was? Do we accept our trial and rely on God’s grace as sufficient for our daily lives? Or do we dwell on our trials and sick bodies and wallow in self pity? How can God receive glory if we are not yielded vessels unto Him no matter what we are experiencing?

My dear Christian friend, won’t you glean from the Word and accept what God has for you in this life? That’s half the battle! This will produce a merry heart and your merry heart will be like a medicine to you and it will heal you – maybe not physically but definitely spiritually and emotionally.

So maybe God will choose to allow you to continue in sickness or continue in this particular trial. It is for His ultimate glory. He will provide you with the same grace He provided Paul to withstand your trial. Maybe He will choose to heal you totally. Again, it is for His ultimate glory. Either way, you have much to be grateful for – your Creator knows what you need, when you need it and He will provide you with the grace you need.

Dear God…
Help me accept what You have planned
Whether there’s healing or not
To accept that Your grace is sufficient
Being grateful in all of my thoughts

Pride

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Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. (Pro 16:18 )

Injured pride is a tough lesson for the believer. The earlier this lesson is learned, the better it is.

What is the best way to deal with pride? Doing a study on how God views pride should be the first place we start. Noah Webster’s definition helps us to see more clearly:

Inordinate self-esteem; an unreasonable conceit of one’s own superiority in talents, beauty, wealth, accomplishments, rank or elevation in office, which manifests itself in lofty airs, distance, reserve, and often in contempt of others.

I think the picture of the cat viewing himself as a lion is a perfect example, don’t you? When we see ourselves as better than we truly are, we set ourselves up for a huge disappointment. Being prideful is the exact opposite of being humble.

If you struggle with pride, remember that one day you will be brought down to the level you truly belong, and maybe even lower. Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. (1 Sam 2:3) Continuing to be arrogant and prideful will only set you up for defeat. God sees where you truly are, how you think of yourself and He will weigh your actions. When the time comes where you are brought down, your pride will force you to think that you are suffering as a Christian. But God’s Word says, For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. (1 Pet 2:20) You’re suffering because of your sinful pride, not because you did something right for the Lord. You must recognize the difference and see God’s chastisement as His way of teaching you to be humble.

It is better to learn to be humble and meek before God has to deal with you and you are brought to shame. When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom. (Pro 11:2) Get in the Word where the teaching is pure – there are so many verses dealing with pride and humbleness. Recognize that your pride is sin in the eyes of God. An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin. (Pro 21:4) Confess this sin and ask the Holy Spirit of God to pierce your heart and teach you humbleness and meekness.

That pride isn’t bad enough, but it drives you to greater sin. The Lord says you will stir up trouble and that you are a fool. Prov. 28:25-26, He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat. (25) He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered. (26) Is this what you want for your life? The Christian who is striving to grow in Christ produces the fruit of the Spirit. Pride is not listed as a fruit of the Holy Spirit; however meekness is (Gal. 5:22).

It’s always best to learn any lesson early on because the longer you remain in any sin, the harder you will fall. Is it not so with your own children? If they disobey you once, the punishment is minimal. But the more then continue to disobey, the harsher the punishment, right? Can you expect any less from your Heavenly Father? So you ask, “I thought today’s devo was going to be on injured pride? I thought I would learn how to deal with it.” If you look deep within yourself, you will see that your pride was injured because you thought more of yourself than you should have. Dealing with injured pride is learning to be humble.

Dear God…
Place pride far behind me
And I no longer fall
May I reflect Your humbleness
And heed the Spirit’s call

Complaining

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Numbers 11:1 And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.

What does God think about complaining?  Today’s verses make it quite clear, don’t they? This is not a sin that is only known among children or young people.  It is quite common in adults as well. There’s nothing I hate more than to hear some complaining about the situations in their life. It bothers me even more when it is another Christian. Complaining causes us to forget the good that God has done for us. It causes us to forget His blessings!

Notice what the verse above says?  Let’s pick it apart:  the complaining “displeased” God – He “heard” it – His anger was “stirred” – then He “destroyed” them.  Do you get the idea that God doesn’t like to hear complaining?  It’s one thing to go to God with a problem and tell Him about it.  I’m certain this isn’t what is being referenced in today’s text.  In this case, the people were complaining to each other. The sin was not revolving around one person but a group of people. Trouble comes in numbers – you don’t see a street gang of one person.

Numbers 11:4-6 And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? 5 We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick: 6 But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.

The sin of complaining doesn’t stop with the one complaint.  It leads to other sins – in this case, it was lust! Notice that the people dwelt on their troubles so much so that they began wishing for their old life.  The believer who dwells on his/her current trials and disappointments will begin to think that the grass is greener on the other side.  He/she will think “Life before salvation wasn’t so bad.”  Oh the tragedy of it all!  Is it any wonder that God destroyed them?  One rotten apple spoils the whole barrel of apples.  One little bit of yeast will cause all of the dough to rise. (1 Cor. 5:6) What God is saying is that the leaven (yeast) is like sin.  Once you start, it brings more sin into your life. The more sin in your life, the more you will become discontent with your life.

If you’re not a complainer and you’ve conquered this sin, then praise the Lord!  Teach it to your children – counsel your friends and help them conquer the sin as well – be an example to those around you and use every opportunity to teach them when complaints arise.

Mercy

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But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, (Eph 2:4) In day-to-day living, we human beings learn by watching, reading, and listening. We watch some one’s actions and learn from them – there’s no better example of this than our own children and how quickly they “pick things up” from us – whether good or bad. What we read teaches us and influences our thoughts. Listening also teaches - if we are good listeners. Who we watch, read after and listen to is so important!

The best example and Teacher is our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. If anyone was perfect in mercy, it was Jesus. Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines mercy as:

1. That benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant. In this sense, there is perhaps no word in our language precisely synonymous with mercy. That which comes nearest to it is grace. It implies benevolence, tenderness, mildness, pity or compassion, and clemency, but exercised only towards offenders. Mercy is a distinguishing attribute of the Supreme Being.

The Lord is long-suffering and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty. Num 14.

2. An act or exercise of mercy or favor. It is a mercy that they escaped.

I am not worthy of the least of all thy mercies. Gen 32.

3. Pity; compassion manifested towards a person in distress.

And he said, he that showed mercy on him. Luke 10.

4. Clemency and bounty.

Mercy and truth preserve the king; and his throne is upheld by mercy. Prov 28.

5. Charity, or the duties of charity and benevolence.

I will have mercy and not sacrifice. Mat 9.

6. Grace; favor. 1 Cor 7. Jude 2.

7. Eternal life, the fruit of mercy. 2 Tim 1.

8. Pardon.

I cry thee mercy with all my heart.

9. The act of sparing, or the forbearance of a violent act expected. The prisoner cried for mercy.

To be or to lie at the mercy of, to have no means of self-defense, but to be dependent for safety on the mercy or compassion of another, or in the power of that which is irresistible; as, to be at the mercy of a foe, or of the waves.

What a difference in definition when compared to today’s Merriam Webster Dictionary:

1 a: compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power; also : lenient or compassionate treatment b: imprisonment rather than death imposed as penalty for first-degree murder2 a: a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion b: a fortunate circumstance 3: compassionate treatment of those in distress

The Christian has seen mercy from the Lord first hand. This lesson in mercy ought to pierce our hearts in such a way that we would want to be merciful to others. How merciful are you toward those who have offended you? Do you mete out mercy equal to that which Christ has shown you? Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. (Luk 6:36)

If we are not merciful toward others, we cannot expect the Lord to be merciful toward us when we need Him to be. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Mat 5:7) Showing God’s mercy to others brings happiness and joy to the believer because we are not oppressed by the consequences of sin. We have been freed and are free to love others and be merciful to them. We don’t feel like we are in shackles and bound. I don’t know if this makes sense to you but it’s the only way I can explain how I feel when I am not being obedient to God’s Word in an area that I know I should be. He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he. (Pro 14:21) This is probably one of the hardest lessons I have had to learn in my Christian walk. It is not human nature to be merciful. Our first reaction is to fight back and prove our point. The furthest thing from our minds is to obey this verse: And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. (Luk 6:31) But Christ tells us that this is what is required of us. Jesus could have easily chosen the same merciless path as I but instead, He submitted to His Father’s will and showed mercy to all. We would be in sad shape had Christ taken the same route as us, wouldn’t we?

…Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth. (Job 11:6b) We don’t deserve God’s mercy – but praise His Holy Name that He has shown mercy to us despite of our sin! So much the more should we Christians show mercy to those who hurt and abuse us. This is not an easy teaching to swallow but it is a needful teaching for our spirit. These lessons mold us and form us into the image of Christ and make us into vessels of honour for His use.

Dear God…
Christ, the great example
Of God’s mercy to all who live
May we follow in His footsteps
Standing ready to forgive

Meditation

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This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. (Jos 1:8 ) Meditating daily on God’s Word is a key part of a Christian’s life. Why would you want to read the Bible just for the sake of reading and receiving nothing from it? God tells us in this verse that we should meditate on it day and night so that we will obey it. Meditating implies application here, doesn’t it? I know that I have meditated on many things but failed to apply it to my life. I did not allow the Holy Spirit of God to change me. It was not God that failed, but I am the one that failed. I was a hearer of the word only and not a doer. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (Jam 1:22) When we understand what meditation is all about, we begin to understand how God uses it in our lives to mold us into the vessel of honour we should be.

When should we meditate? God’s Word reveals that we should meditate on His Word day and night. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (Psa 1:2) Whenever the Lord lays a verse on your mind, nurture that verse in your heart. Think about it and meditate on its meaning. The Lord impressed it upon you for a reason. Search out your heart to see where this verse applies. Is it to point out a sin? Confess it. Is it to point you to a task to be done? Recognize the task and do it.

Who should we meditate on? When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. (Psa 63:6) Meditate on the Lord, Himself. When you cannot sleep, think of His goodness, His blessings, answered prayer, the trials He has brought you through, or your salvation.

What should we meditate on? I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. (Psa 119:15) I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands. (Psa 143:5) Meditating on the Word of God opens our eyes to God Himself. He reveals Himself to us within the blessed pages of our Bible. We learn about His omnipotence, Jesus’ return and His upcoming Kingdom, how to live godly lives, etc. We also can think about the work of God’s hands – His creation, our families, His Word, etc. The list cannot be exhausted.

What should we do with what we have gleaned from during our times of meditation? I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings. (Psa 77:12) When we meditate on all that the Lord has done for us, we are then ready to share with others what He has done for us. Give God the glory due Him by sharing praises. Too often, we are quick to complain about our circumstances. However, if we have spent our night watches meditating on God’s Goodness, those complaints are long gone and praises rest on our lips.

When should we meditate? Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes. (Psa 119:23) Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts. (Psa 119:78 ) Whenever we are being attacked by the world, we should turn to God’s Word and meditate on it. It is there we will find peace in the midst of turbulence. We should meditate when we have trouble sleeping. But sometimes the sweetest times for meditation are found in those wee hours of the morning when all is quiet. Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word. (Psa 119:148 ) Notice that David says that he prevented his eyes from sleeping so he could meditate on God’s Word. When was the last time I deprived myself of sleep so I could meditate on God’s Word? This was quite a convicting verse for me today.

What are the results of meditating? Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. (1Ti 4:15) When we meditate on God’s Word and apply what we have gleaned to our lives, we cannot help but grow spiritually. We become profitable and in so doing, we become a blessing to those around us. We can be used of God for their benefit.

When we do not meditate on God’s Word, we are revealing our spiritual barometer. If you talk to a Christian who is strong in this area of meditation, you will find a Christian who is solid and not easily caught off guard by the curve balls of life. He also has a spiritually firm foundation and can easily testify of what God has done for him. Strengthen and build upon your foundation by meditating on God’s Word today.

Dear God…
To read and run is tragedy
Nothing is gleaned or learned
But may we rest our weary souls
While we meditate and discern

Direction

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And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. (Isa 42:16)

John Newton spoke his heart when he penned the words to Amazing Grace.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

This first verse shows a man that was lost and blind as he walked the world’s path to a Christless eternity in hell. It also shows the beautiful transformation that took place when Christ entered this same man’s heart and this man was led down a new path. This man now had a new direction in his life – he was no longer lost. He also found that he was no longer blind. There now was light shining on his path pointing him in the direction he should go. Do you get the impression that John Newton spent time with the Lord? Do you think he found the direction he needed in his Bible?

The Lord does this same thing in each believer’s life. All we have to do is read His Word and we will see how God’s character shines through in this area. God desires to direct us and lead us. He does not want His children to walk about blindly not knowing which way to turn. Do you have life changing decisions you need to make? Do you worry about your future and what is in store for you? You need not be. God’s promises are written in the Word for our encouragement. We can depend on Him to keep His promises. He’s not a man that He should lie (Num. 23:19 and 1 Sam 15:29).

I hope you are blessed by the verses I’m sharing with you today. Please, take the time to read each of them and let the Holy Spirit fill your heart with confidence. You do not have a Father who will fail you and lead you down the wrong path. Our Heavenly Father is perfect and loves His children – His desire is to light our way and clearly guide us. We need to learn to acknowledge just Who we are serving and allow Him to show us His will and the direction that He sees is best for us.

To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luk 1:79) Our God guides even the lost to a place where they can hear the plan of salvation – how much more will He guide us?

NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psa 119:105) In the midst of the pages of our blessed Bible, we find answers to questions which directly impact our path.

The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. (Psa 119:130) As we read and meditate on the Word, they enter our hearts and help us to understand God’s direction.

Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me. (Psa 119:133) Sin darkens our path when it reigns in our lives. But the light of the Word overpowers this darkness.

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; (Psa 139:9) Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. (Psa 139:10) No matter how desperate our situation may be, the Father’s hand is right there waiting to hold us and guide us. Doesn’t this remind you of the Footprints in the Sand story? I can envision this in my mind’s eye right now, can’t you?

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. (Psa 37:23) When a Christian is striving to live a godly life, his steps are ordered by God. This verse says that God delights in this Christian – like a father delights in his child when his child is obedient and doing right. We cannot be perfect and sinless but we can strive toward the mark.

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. (Psa 32:8 ) God’s eye is ever on us, oh Christian. How wonderful is that? How comforting is that? God sees what we’re doing and where we’re going. He guides us through His Word. No Bible, no direction – Know the Bible, know direction!

The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. (Psa 25:9) We cannot be taught if we do not yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit. Yielding does not have the connotation of simply reading the Word but reading and applying what God teaches us.

Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. (Psa 73:24) God guides us using many forms – His Word, the Pastor, and even wise friends.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (Psa 23:3) Our souls have been restored through the precious work of the Cross. Jesus Christ’s own blood has been shed for our sins and has restored fellowship between man and his God. To this child is a promise that his Heavenly Father will be a leader to him and will show him how to live that holy life that He commands us to live. … Be ye holy; for I am holy (1 Pet 1:16)

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. (Joh 16:13) My friend, we possess this Holy Spirit of truth. He resides within each of us. We have the wonderful opportunity of daily tapping into this truth. This truth will guide us and direct us on our Pilgrim’s path!!

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (Pro 3:5) In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Pro 3:6) When we turn to our own thoughts and logic, we can easily be distracted and misguided because we are fallible. Our sinless and Holy God can be trusted because He is infallible. He has never failed, my friend! NEVER! Is this not enough encouragement for you? When we trust our unfailing Father, He provides yet another promise of directing our path.

And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. (Isa 58:11) Don’t you feel yourself sitting beside a babbling brook right about now? Do you hear those birds chirping and the crickets? Your thirsty soul needs to drink from that Fountain. God awaits to fill you in His Word.

I pray these verses have encouraged you today to turn to God for His direction for your life. He knows what is best – He has seen the future and can guide you in the here and now! And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. (Isa 30:21) Do you hear His still small voice, my friend? He longs to speak to you and guide you. Once again, get in the Word and you’ll find Him there – He’s waiting.

Dear God…
Guide me down Your path I pray
That path You chose for me
Shine Your blessed light so bright
So clearly I may see

Sanctification

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If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. (2 Tim. 2:21) That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; (1 Thess 4:4)

We are sanctified when we are born again because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross. However, every day we should be growing in Christ, as we study and learn from His Word. I love the message God gives us through the life of a butterfly. While in its cocoon, the butterfly struggles to be free. To watch it struggling, one is tempted to help this butterfly along. But in so doing, we deprive that butterfly of the strength it gains during its struggle. Helping it only kills it. So is the Christian. We need the struggles in our Christian walk so we can turn to the Word and allow it to heal us. The more we break free from sin, we become conformed to Christ’s image. We can rid ourselves of the sin that so easily besets us and be set free like the butterfly.

Noah Webster defines sanctification as “The act of making holy.” God commands us to be holy as He is holy.

Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God. (Lev 20:7)

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; (1 Pet 1:15)

Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Pet 1:16)

I found it interesting that this statement from God is found three times in the Word. Our Three-in-One God is a holy God. We will never reach a perfected state of holiness in this lifetime but we are to be a constant “work in progress” as we walk this Pilgrim’s path on earth. We sanctify ourselves through our daily time spent in the Word. The Word then washes us as we apply its applications to our lives. That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, (Eph 5:26) We can read the Bible faithfully every day – but without applying it to our lives, it is of no value. A police officer can look at body armor all he wants and admire how it can protect his body from bullets. However, the body armor does him no good if he does not put it on for protection.

The Word of God is just not for reading, my friend. The Word convicts the heart of sin. If we do nothing with that conviction, what good is it? The Word is truth and leads us in the path of becoming more like the Father, thus fulfilling His command to be holy as He is holy. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (Joh 17:17)

Jesus was our perfect example of One who practiced sanctification. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. (Joh 17:19) As we study the Word and learn about Jesus and how He lived His life, we learn of His meekness, His faithfulness and His love. We learn how His desire was to seek the Father’s will and not His own. So should we, as children of the Living God, work diligently weeding out sin in our lives. The more we work to be more like Christ, the more sanctified (set apart) we will become. That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; (1 Thess 4:4) Emphasis mine. We are to know how to do this. We cannot know without being in the Word!

This is the difference between a Christian who is moving forward in his spiritual walk and one that is at a stand still. Twice Paul spoke of those who were still babes in Christ because they did not get into the meat of the Word – they were still drinking milk. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. (1 Cor 3:2) For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. (Heb 5:12)

My friend, repentance brings forth sanctification. One cannot say he is growing in Christ if he is continuing in the same sin. Are you struggling with a particular sin? Until you have forsaken it, you cannot grow more into the image of Christ. I truly believe that many Christians have become complacent to their sin and are satisfied with living with known sin. They live a life of delusion and they will not be a vessel meet for the Master’s use. What kind of vessel are you today? Are you enjoying a Christian life sanctifying yourself daily so the Master can use you? Or are you satisfied with the way you are now, not interested in setting yourself apart from the world? Only you can answer this and only you can change the answer.

Dear God…
May the complacent be pierced today
May he see his sin as You do
Help him to sanctify himself
So that he may better serve You.

Shame

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Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
(2 Tim 2:15)

For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. (Rom 10:11)

Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments. (Psa 119:6)

Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed. (Psa 119:80)

How many Christians go through the day without the Word of God as part of it? How many Christians can say that when situations arise, a Bible verse comes to mind to cover that situation? If one does not read the Bible, one cannot be prepared to tackle the day’s challenges. It is like going to a meeting unprepared and you are the presenter! Can you imagine how foolish you would look – how you would feel?

Dear Christian, if you do not make the Bible part of your every day life, you will look and feel as foolish when you stand before God. 2 Tim. 2:15 says that you are to study so that you can become a workman that doesn’t need to be ashamed. Noah Webster defines ashamed as:

1. Affected by shame; abashed or confused by guilt or a conviction of some criminal action or indecorous conduct, or by the exposure of some gross errors or misconduct, which the person is conscious must be wrong, and which tends to impair his honor or reputation. It is followed by of.

Thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed. Exo 16.

Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel. Hosea 10.

2. Confused by a consciousness of guilt or of inferiority; by the mortification of pride; by failure or disappointment.

They shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in images.

Isa 42

If you are guilty of neglecting your Bible, do you feel this shame Noah speaks of? A speaker at a meeting is only as good as the knowledge he has on the subject he’s covering. If he is unprepared, it is evident. He hums and hahs, he stumbles and stutters. However, when a speaker is totally prepared, he belts out a presentation like nobody’s business and has confidence in his knowledge. Are you struggling with winning the lost to Christ? You’re not prepared! You have not spent the time you need to memorize the verses.

Today’s sports fanatics have player stats memorized. They can tell you who threw the longest pass at the last Super Bowl. They can quote you how many home runs and runs batted in that their favorite baseball player has. However, ask them to share Bible verses with you that would be significant in leading someone to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and they look at you as if you have two heads! Oh dear Christian, if this is you – you will stand ashamed before the Lord Jesus Christ. My heart aches for you.

As if this isn’t bad enough, what do you do when a trial comes your way and you don’t have the Word hidden in your heart to turn to for rescue and encouragement? You don’t have to know the address and verse by heart but at least you know it enough to be able to say, oh yes, Psalm 121 tells me to look unto the hills from whence cometh my help! So I will turn to the Lord to help me with this situation. Instead, you run to your best friend or a church member and plead for prayer. What if your doctor had to run to his co-workers for help in decisions about your health? Wouldn’t that disturb you? Can you imagine how the Lord feels when we run to others when He is the One true source of all healing and encouragement?

I believe that when believers stand before Christ when their works are tried by fire to see if they are wood and stubble or silver and gold, that they will be hanging their heads in shame – tears welling up in their eyes, wishing they could do it all over again. My friend, when our time is up, there is no going back. The signs of the times are all around us. Christ’s return for us is imminent – any minute we’ll be called Home! Are you ready or will you be ashamed?

Dear God…
My heart aches for those who fail
To spend time in Your Holy Word
How can they manage the daily trials
Without having their Shield and Sword

The Heart

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The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jer. 17:9

Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Matt. 23:28

They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. Tit. 1:16

For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Rom. 8:6

An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin. Prov. 21:4

…there is none good but one, that is, God. (Mar 10:18b)

No matter how hard we try, none of us are good. Since Adam and Eve’s fall, not one human being has been without sin. What is sin? According to Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary,

1. The voluntary departure of a moral agent from a known rule of rectitude or duty, prescribed by God; any voluntary transgression of the divine law, or violation of a divine command; a wicked act; iniquity. Sin is either a positive act in which a known divine law is violated, or it is the voluntary neglect to obey a positive divine command, or a rule of duty clearly implied in such command. Sin comprehends not action only, but neglect of known duty, all evil thoughts purposes, words and desires, whatever is contrary to God’s commands or law. 1 John 3. Mat 15. James 4. Sinner neither enjoy the pleasures of nor the peace of piety. Among divines, sin is original or actual. Actual sin, above defined, is the act of a moral agent in violating a known rule of duty. Original sin, as generally understood, is native depravity of heart to the divine will, that corruption of nature of deterioration of the moral character of man, which is supposed to be the effect of Adam’s apostasy; and which manifests itself in moral agents by positive act of disobedience to the divine will, or by the voluntary neglect to comply with the express commands of God, which require that we should love God with all the heart and soul and strength and mind, and our neighbor as ourselves. This native depravity or alienation of affections from God and his law, is supposed to be what the apostle calls the carnal mind or mindedness, which is enmity against God, and is therefore denominated sin or sinfulness. Unpardonable sin, or blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, is supposed to be a malicious and obstinate rejection of Christ and the gospel plan of salvation, or a contemptuous resistance made to the influences and convictions of the Holy Spirit. Mat 12.SIN, v.i.

1. To depart voluntarily from the path of duty prescribed by God man; to violate the divine law in any particular, by actual transgression or by the neglect or non-observance of its injunctions; to violate any known rule of duty. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Rom 3. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned. Psa 51.

2. To offend against right, against men or society; to trespass. I an a man more sinn’d against than sinning. And who but wishes to invert the laws of order, sins against the’ eternal cause.

This definition is totally different from today’s definition of sin. Merriam Webster’s on-line dictionary defines sin as:

1 a : an offense against religious or moral law b : an action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible [it's]c : an often serious shortcoming : FAULT
2 a : transgression of the law of God b : a vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God

Pretty dilluted, isn’t it? Man’s heart is desperately wicked so of course he would prefer today’s definition of Merriam Webster’s.

So what is considered sin? We can start at the beginning with the Ten Commandments. This is God’s law to mankind. Have you broken one of these? Have you lied – even just once? Then by admission, you are a liar. Have you ever stolen – even a pen from work? Then by admission, you are a thief. Breaking any of these commandments makes us a sinner. Because of this fallen nature, it is impossible to keep all the commandments. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. (Jam 2:10) Therefore, we must be punished for breaking God’s laws. It does not matter if you do good things like help the poor. It doesn’t matter if you give lots of money to the church. Although it’s nice that you did these things, the fact of the matter is that punishment is still needed for breaking God’s commandments. They weren’t put there just so a movie could be made. The Ten Commandments were given as the Law by God. They are our “teacher” and are there to show us that we are sinners.

Let’s say that you were sentenced to pay a penalty of $50,000 by a judge because you were caught stealing. You tell the judge that you do not have $50,000 and that you are really sorry for your crime but could he let you go this one time. The judge replies that he is a good judge but someone has to pay the penalty for this crime. A friend of yours shows up and says he’ll pay the $50,000 for you. Someone already in prison could not pay this penalty for you but this friend was free to do so. The judge accepts his payment and lets you go.

This is exactly what Jesus Christ did for us. Because God is a Good and Righteous Judge, He demands that the penalty for breaking His Laws be paid. Because God’s love for us is so great, Jesus Christ chose to take on the form of man so He could take the punishment for our sins and pay that penalty. Jesus said, “Father, I’ll pay their debt for them! I’ll become that sacrifice You require of shed blood and I will shed My own blood for them. Only Jesus Christ could do this because He did not sin once while He lived on earth. He was the only one qualified to pay this penalty. No man could do it because all men have sinned. Now that’s love, my friend!

The born-again believer no longer has to pay the penalty because our debt has been paid by Jesus Christ Himself. Will we continue to sin? Yes, but we will sin less. The believer has been given the Holy Spirit of God and He resides in us to teach us and guide us in how to live a more righteous life. Every day is a challenge for the believer to live a godly life. But it is a joyous challenge because we no longer have to fear spending eternity in hell! What joy!

When you look at the lost today, remember that his heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. He is serving his father, the devil. Have pity on the lost and share with them the reason for your joy. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (1 Pet. 3:15)

Dear God…
Your Laws showed me my sin
Impossible to obey
Then Jesus paid my debt
He is the only Way.