The word for today is THANKFUL!
Thankful to the one who came to "seek and save the lost," of which like Paul I was chief among them.
Thankful for His patience and mercy.
Thankful that when I deserved justice, He showed me mercy.
Thankful for my parents and in-laws, wife, children, siblings, relatives and friends.
Thankful that Jesus died for this sinner to forgive me, redeem me and now use me in His service. That love is unthinkable, but real nevertheless! My heart is so full because the Lord has been so good!
Don't know about you, but I'm so THANKFUL!
This morning in prayer the word DEVOTION came to mind and stuck in my spirit. So, why devotion?
This is the word because of all the things that always seem to come before the Lord Jesus in our lives. Yes, all of the people, functions, games, you fill in the blank. Somehow Jesus is always in second, third, fourth or last place until we want something. Then, it's "bless me, bless me, bless me!"
Friends, I've come to understand that God is neither an ATM, vending machine nor a genie that comes out if you rub your Bible three times. True devotion is exemplified in a desire to "draw close" to the Savior in love and fellowship. Christians always get in trouble when they take their eyes off the Creator and put their focus on the creation. Beloved, it's not about stuff!
I'm convinced that as I am saved through Him and for Him. I want to give back to Him everything, because He has given me everything, even if He never does another thing for me. Believe that!
As I was praying this morning the UNIQUE came to mind. Why UNIQUE you ask?
Well, think about our Lord, there was and never will be anyone like Him. So righteous, so holy, fully God and fully man ... tempted as we are yet without sin. Still, the word tells us (Luke 15) sinners (like we were) wanted to be with Him.
Jesus was approachable. Jesus was social. He didn't just wait for people to come to Him, but He went where they were and made Himself available. People lost in their sins wanted to be close to Him; they wanted to hear what He had to say. The religious leaders of His time complained and criticized Him, but that didn't stop Him because He knew His true purpose. He came "to seek and save." He came "for the sick not the well." He came "not to be served, but to serve" ... in 2015 Christianity that's UNIQUE. We think that's it's about us, what we want and what Jesus can do for us. Here's the newsflash, HE HAS ALREADY DONE IT!
I'm challenged by the image of Jesus as UNIQUE, when so many spend so much time as believers trying to blend in for whatever reason. Well, that's not what Jesus was about and I'm more convinced today that it's time to be more like Him ... UNIQUE for the glory of God!
In my prayer time REST was etched in my spirit. Why REST you ask?
The word doesn't speak so much to what we do when we are tired as much as what Jesus provides when we are troubled. He says in Matthew 11:28, "Come to me all who are weary and burdened." His request ... "come in your troubled condition" ... "come when the weight of sin is too much" ... "come when the cares of this world are just too much." Don't go to some television preacher or celebrity for answers. No, come to the only one who can give what no one else can give ... real REST for your soul ... peace in your spirit.
The Lord says to, "take His yoke and learn of Him." In other words, stay connected to Him and focus on Him. If you do this His promise is REST, even in the midst of the trouble.
Do you need this REST? Could you use the REST that only the Lord Jesus can give? Turn off the voices promising but not delivering and to the Lord in faith. Let Jesus give you His REST.
As I prayed this morning, the word CONTROL stuck with me and I admit this challenges me.
As a person who loves to control and be in control, I realize that there are no two ways about it, Jesus wants disciples, followers ... those who will surrender to His perfect will. As He holds the title of King, Lord, Master, Teacher and most of all Savior, there is no room for me on the throne. He doesn't ask for first place, He demands it and we would be wise to step back and let Him have it. But why?
There is really no question, I know that before turning to Jesus that I had controlled my life right into the ground. I thought that I knew better than the Lord as to how to run my life ... WRONG! Proverbs 14:12 lets us know that "there is a way that seems right to a man, its end is death." Truer words have never been spoken.
It's only when I gave Him total control that I've found true peace and purpose. Now, let's be real. There are times when I want revert back and take the wheel, only to find myself driving off the road. I'm thankful for the Lord's patience with me and believe me, things are best when He is driving ... when He is in CONTROL.
In prayer this morning and couldn't get away from this question, "How important is pleasing God?" Sounds like a simple question with a simple answer for most Christians, but I beg to differ.
I've come to realize that pleasing God should and must be a constant desire of mine. The tendency for many Christians in my experience and I'm at the front of the line is to think about what God can do for them. Read John 3:16 and you'll see that He has already done that by sending Jesus to die for your sins. Your redeemed life is your greatest gift, everything else is gravy!
The Bible is quite clear about what pleases God (and what does not). Faith and acting faithfully pleases God. Obedience to His will and Word pleases God. Doing good and sharing pleases God. Meditating on His goodness pleases God. The prayers of the upright please God. Turning from evil pleases God. Delighting in Him pleases God. A broken and contrite heart pleases God. There's more, but I think you get the picture.
Back to the question, "How important is pleasing God to you?" Some have tried to convince us that God's job is to keep filling out bags like kids out "trick or treating." Not at all, it's not about us; it's all about Him first and foremost. I have found that when I strive to please God that He returns His gracious blessings to me ... it's not the other way around.
As I was praying this morning, the word ENDURANCE was impressed on me. Yes, that which allows one to "go the distance" ... "make it to the end."
So often when talk to me about the end times, or the last days, I'm reminded (see Matt. 24) that Jesus said that there will be many signs, but the challenge is not just looking at the signs but being ready, ENDURING the hardship until He comes to rule. "He who ENDURES will be saved" (Matt. 24:10). So, beloved every believers challenge is to watch, listen, prepare, be ready ... "the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect" (Matt. 24:44).
So, what am I to do? Just what Jesus says, don't concern yourself about when the end comes, just be ready when it does. . And since you don't know when the end will come, I believe the key is to always be ready. That's right, always be ready for the difficult times to come to test your faith. In that time many will be deceived and others will fall away. That means you will need courage, strength, wisdom, discernment and a faith that ENDURES.
The impending judgment is sure and you have no need to fear if you are in the Lord knowing that ... "Blessed is the man who ENDURES under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him" (James 1:12).