Take Courage

With persecution of Christians increasing in the world, including in the good ole USA which was founded on religious freedom, we have to remember that the main thing is still the main thing: God will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

Regardless of how many God haters rise into power, God is still in control of our individual lives. Our fears and anxiety will only add to the stress and ill health caused by their persecution.

If we learn to enter God’s rest now, while we still have our freedoms, it will enable us to better traverse the unknown treatment, loss and deprivation which we may face in the future.

God reminds us that we are actually blessed when we are persecuted for His sake. We take courage from the example set by lives such as Paul and the Old Testament prophets (Matthew 5:10-12).

We rejoice, because although we may face scarcity now, we are storing up rewards in heaven for eternity. This concept allows us to rejoice and continue to serve as the salt and light of the earth (Matthew 5:12-15).

God uses us to preserve the lives and to light the path of those around us and to lead them to Him. When they see His love, peace and joy in our life, regardless of circumstances, they too will honor our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

Prayer:
Father God, remind us to take the focus off our self and to share Your love with those who are also suffering all around us. Remind us that the endurance of Christ fills our soul, because He abides within us. Any persecution is light and momentary when compared to the glory You prepared for us in Heaven.

As Your righteous ones, we live by faith and You preserve our soul, so there is no need for us to shrink back in fear but to continue to show Your love even to our persecutors (Hebrews 10:32-39).

Thought for the Day:
Regardless of those who are elected as our officials, how much power terrorists gain in the world or how many laws are passed against us expressing our faith with words, buildings, external crosses or religious trappings, nothing can separate us from the eternal rest and love of God dwelling within us. – Romans 8:35-39; Proverbs 21:1

Daily Quiet Time

The Word of God is alive and powerful. It sharpens our spiritual wisdom and power (Hebrews 4:12). It teaches us about God and His principles; and gives us the history of Jesus’ life before, during and after He lived on the earth. God’s Word increases our faith as it helps us to walk in righteousness and gives us comfort, joy and peace.

As we read God’s Word, His eternal rest envelops our life from the inside out. Our thoughts, words and deeds line up with His precepts. We walk in the Spirit and obey His directives. Our soul conforms to the image of Christ from one stage of purity to the next (2 Corinthians 3:18). We find favor with God (Luke 1:30, 2:52) and friendship with Jesus as He fills our soul with His presence (John 15:15).

We learn from God’s Word that Jesus took the condemnation for our sins and suffered the penalty for them on the cross (Romans 8:1, 34). In turn, He endowed us with His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). Our soul no longer longs to wallow in the mire of sin; but it joyfully bathes in God’s Word and His presence, which make us clean and new (Ephesians 5:26; 1 John 1:9).

God’s Word convicts us when we stray from His straight and narrow path of righteousness (Matthew 7:13-14). It teaches us that we no longer live with the weight of shame (Isaiah 54:4), but we are free in Christ to live a holy life (Galatians 5:1). As the Bible renews our mind, we are able to discern God’s will and to walk worthy of His calling on our life (Romans 12:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:12).

Prayer:
Father God, Your Word answers the question of the origin of mankind, and had scientific knowledge, which precluded anything science discovered until more modern times (Genesis 1; Isaiah 40:22). Many archeological discoveries confirm Your Word, and not one of them contradicts or denies its Truth. Help us to hold up the standard of You Word in our daily life, so that others will see our faithfulness to You and be drawn to Your loving heart (Matthew 5:16).
Thought for the Day:
When we consider the marvels of God’s heavens and the work of His creation, which He ordained; why would He even bother with mankind at all and deign to care for our every need?
– Psalm 8:3-4; 1 Peter 5:7

Drawing Near to God

The world in which we live, and everyone in it, is held captive by sin. However, through faith in Jesus Christ we are given God’s promised salvation (Galatians 3:22-23). Now, with a sincere heart, we can draw near to God. Our mind, sprinkled by the blood of Christ, is cleansed from a guilty conscience and the pure water of God’s Word washes us clean (Hebrews 10:22).

We can only abide in God after we first seek Him and His Kingdom, and live in the truth that He lives in and through us. He will never, ever, for any reason leave us (Hebrews 13:5). As we wait on Him day by day, He grants us the grace to abide in Him. We rejoice in His fellowship and we work in His power. We completely give up our self to Him and live by faith in His faithfulness.

God allows trials to test our faith, which increases our perseverance through them (James 1:3). Thankfully, Jesus is both the developer and the perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Even the prophets of old knew that the righteous live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4: Romans 1:17). Since Jesus’ faith and Spirit abide within us, we multiply the works of Christ on this earth (John 14:12).

The core truths of God’s Word energize the authentic Christian and thrill our soul. First and foremost, we wait on the Lord, we live in His presence continually and we enter into His eternal rest on a daily basis. Once we completely surrender to Christ, God takes us up spiritually into His Holy Temple (2 Corinthians 5:1). We abide in His rest, and all of our work on earth is done only through Him.

Prayer:
Father God, even if other people refuse to believe in You, their unbelief does not make our faith in You worthless (Romans 3:3). Through the blood of Jesus, we become Your righteousness, and You wipe away our sins through Your love and forbearance (Romans 3:25). Help us not to grow weary or to lose faith in Your promises, but to remain strong in Christ’s faith in us, as we give You all of the glory (Romans 4:20).

Thought for the Day:
We are justified and reconciled to God by faith, not by our own good deeds. – Romans 3:28, 4:14; Ephesians 2:8-9

Our Eternal Rest

As human beings, we get the values of life and death backwards. We will sacrifice the quality of our life for the quantity of life. We often live years past our optimal health and spend more money than we have to suffer endless procedures and live off dozens of expensive medications. Yet, what is the Biblical view of life and death?

Paul said, “For me to live is Christ, but to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).” In other words, He was happy to serve the Lord on this earth for as long as it pleased the Lord for him to do so; but once his usefulness was over, he was ready, willing and able to go home to be with the Lord. That was where his hope and rest lay. That is where we all gain the eternal rest from our labors.

The wise Solomon recognized that the day of our death is better than the day of our birth (Ecclesiastes 7:1); yet we humans rejoice at a new birth and cry at a funeral. Of course, the tears at the funeral are more for our self than the deceased, because of our separation from our loved one; but if we realize that, in Christ, we will live in eternity with that same loved one, then we do not sorrow as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:12-18).

We toil all of our life to gain the things of this world, and then turn around and leave them all behind to people who do not value them as we did. They usually donate everything we worked so hard to attain to some charity resale shop to be sold at a fraction of what we paid for them. What is the sense in that? Why do we put so much stock in this world’s goods?

A home, transportation, food and necessary apparel with a hobby or two thrown in are enough for anyone. Yet, so many slave to have the best that money can buy. The entire focus of their life is to get that one more thing. Yet, nothing ever really satisfies their soul. Only a life dedicated to the service of God for His glory pays the real dividends that we are looking for in this life and in the next.

Prayer:
Father God, remind us to store up our treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust can destroy them (Matthew 6:19-24). Help us to use the wealth You give to us on this earth to help to lighten the load of those less fortunate than we are and also to help to further Your gospel to the far reaches of the earth.

Thought for the Day:
It is the simple pleasures of life that really mean so much and cost so little.

Don’t Swim, Just Float

A friend told me to stop swimming through life, and just float. She meant that God designed His life in us to propel us through life without any effort on our part. She meant that we relinquish our need to work for God and to please Him with our efforts. She also reminded me that dying to self is not an action on our part, but an acceptance of the fact that we are already dead and hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).

This allows us not to fret about tomorrow, but to live each moment in the center of God’s will for us. We trust Him to give us the desire, to lead us, and to work through us in every situation (Philippians 2:12-13). We are the vessel for Him to use for His purposes. The pot never moves. It just rests in the Potter’s hand, willing to serve at the Potter’s will (Romans 9:20-21). We are God’s temple; His holy, resting place upon this earth (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

When we seek Him, we find Him, if we search for Him with our whole heart (Jeremiah 29:13). God does not honor half-hearted devotion. He laid down His life for us and wants nothing less from us. As we serve in His Kingdom, He supplies all of our needs (Matthew 6:33). As we trust in His promises, His divine nature replaces our carnal nature (2 Peter 1:4). Our self-life is dead, and Christ lives in and through us (Galatians 2:20).

To acquire salvation, we repent and surrender (1 Peter 1:15). To enter God’s rest, we cease from our human striving (Hebrews 4:10). To walk in the Spirit, we refrain from walking in the flesh (Galatians 5:16, 25). We are His gloves; and He is the hand fitting firmly within us. We cooperate as He uses our body, soul and spirit for His service. We rest in the Vine as He produces fruit through us as His branches (John 15:5).

We become partakers of His Divine Nature by fleeing from covetousness by His grace, peace and freedom. We exercise our faith, which helps us to develop virtue, excellence, perseverance and knowledge, which lead to patience, endurance and godliness and Christian love. These qualities increasingly abound in us to keep us from idle unfruitfulness (2 Peter 1:2-9). We live by the faith of the Son of God in us (Galatians 2:20).

Prayer:
Father God, You inspire and direct our thoughts, words and actions by Your Spirit within us. We enter into Your rest by ceasing from our own efforts, and we allow Christ to walk, talk and act through us. This is more than Him using us, but Him actually working through us to accomplish Your will in the earth around us. We freely receive from Him. Please, use our body, soul and spirit to freely give to those in need around us (Matthew 10:8).

Thought for the Day:
We can do all things only when Christ lives within us. – Philippians 4:13