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If you were asked to use one word to describe the Christian life, which one would you choose? Many of us would pick faith because believing in Jesus is the foundation of Christianity. But did you know that the believer’s life should also be characterized by good works? While we aren’t saved by anything good we’ve done, genuine salvation always results in a changed life, complete with new thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors. Every Christian should be a living, walking example of good deeds.

When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, he commended them for their “work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 1:3). Everything we do should be motivated by faith, hope, and love, which are rooted in our relationship with Christ.

So now the question is, What qualifies as good work in the Christian life? Scripture is filled with examples: caring for others, meeting needs, giving our time and treasure, and engaging in activities like worship, prayer, and Bible reading. These are the activities that should characterize us as God’s children and Christ’s representatives in this world.

As we consider the topic of good works, we must remember four important truths. Otherwise we may assume that we are the ones who define what’s good, what needs to be done, and how it should be accomplished.

First of all, God determines what He wants each of us to do. According to Ephesians 2:10, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Since we belong to Christ, who purchased us with His blood, He has full authority over our life. There are specific tasks we are appointed to accomplish as we walk according to His will. If we think believing in Christ means attending church on Sundays but living as we please all week long, we’re wasting our life. Christians are the people through whom the Holy Spirit is carrying out the work of Christ here on earth. He redeemed us from sin and purified us for Himself so we could be people zealous for good deeds (Titus 2:14).

Second, God equips us for whatever He calls us to do. He “is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (Eph. 3:20).  In every opportunity God gives and every act of service He calls us to perform, He has already provided whatever we need to accomplish the task before us.

Just consider the many resources the Lord uses to empower us for good works. His indwelling Spirit gives us direction and strength to obey, as well as spiritual gifts that enable us to serve Him. He uses the Scripture to teach, reprove, correct, and train us in righteousness so we’ll be adequately equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). And He uses our brothers and sisters in Christ to motivate us toward love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24). Even our wealth becomes a tool in His hands when we use it as He desires—“to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share” (1 Tim. 6:18).

Third, our good works are to glorify God, and not ourselves. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus called His followers “the light of the world” and said they were to let their light shine so others would see their good works and glorify the Father (Matt. 5:14-16). But just one chapter later, He warned them: “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them” (6:1).

The difference is motivation. Although we should never seek the approval and praise of other people for what we do, our life should stand out and be characterized by good deeds in the midst of a dark, self-centered world. If commendations come our way, we need to remember that apart from Christ, we are nothing. Then we can simply pass the praise on to Him in a silent prayer of recognition and gratitude.

Fourth, God will one day judge our good works. What we do in this life will have a tremendous impact on our eternity. As believers, we will be called before the judgment seat of Christ to account for our deeds (2 Cor. 5:10). Some of our works will be worthless and burned up like wood, hay, and straw in the judgment. But we will be rewarded for the good works done in obedience to God, according to His power, and for His glory (1 Cor. 3:10-15).

Although we don’t know exactly what these rewards will be, one thing is certain: They will signify a life of good deeds that glorified and pleased God. Nothing could be more valuable than receiving praise from our beloved Savior. So let’s each spend our life living for Him.

When it comes to good works, remember that these are not just religious activities. Christ takes into account whatever we do that flows from obedience to Him—at home, work, school, church, and beyond. Also, we must resist the temptation to compare our works with the achievements of others. We’re responsible only for the tasks God has prepared specifically for us.

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Understanding Your Call

Mark 8:34-35

I like to use the word believer when talking about God’s children, as it specifically refers to those who have trusted Jesus Christ as Savior. That is a much smaller population than those who label themselves “Christian.” But did you know that even fewer people could rightly be called “followers”? These are the people who passionately pursue the Lord’s will in all things.

Are you a believer or a follower? Trusting in Jesus Christ is fundamental, but doing so is the first step, not the culmination, of a person’s faith. Our primary purpose is to take a life-long journey following in the Lord’s footsteps, honoring Him with our actions and speech, and always increasing in biblical wisdom.

A follower’s life is summed up in the phrase complete obedience. In fact, Jesus defined true Christians as those who prove their love for Him by keeping His word (John 14:23). When it comes to obeying God, there are really only two responses—“I will” or “I won’t.” It’s tempting to say, “I will, but ...” as some of Jesus’ would-be disciples did, but that’s a roundabout way of saying no. Followers remain faithful to the Lord’s plan whether doing so is easy or hard. Not only that, but they proclaim Him in both blessing and calamity, and go even when they don’t like where He leads.

Followers pursue the Lord because they know that the reward is a deeper, more passionate relationship with Him. They are not just waiting to spend eternity with God in heaven. They realize that eternity begins now, as they accompany Him on the righteous path He has set before them.


Dressed for Battle

Ephesians 6:10-18

When you wake up in the morning and get ready for the day, you’re probably not thinking about stepping onto a battlefield. But the enemy is all around us, constantly assaulting our heart and mind with temptations, adversities, emotional attacks, and more. And some days, it feels as though we are standing on the front lines of combat with no protection whatsoever.

Therein lies our misunderstanding. You see, we do have protection. The Lord made provision for our nakedness in battle. He hasn’t sent us to war unprotected. Instead, He’s given us a suit of armor that the enemy can’t penetrate—the armor of God.

In today’s passage, the apostle Paul tells us step by step how to prepare for our daily warfare, and yet most Christians don’t pay much attention to the instruction. We may say, “Well, that’s a nice metaphor, but we shouldn’t take it literally. After all, the armor isn’t real.” Yes, it is. It is as real as the clothes on your back.

Do you want to see a dramatic change in your life? Do you want to stand strong in the face of adversity? Do you want to overcome temptation? Then you need to dress for battle.

I challenge you to intentionally put on your spiritual armor every day for the next seven days. Put on one piece at a time—the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, the sandals of peace, the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit. Just try it as you meditate daily on Ephesians 6:10-18, and watch what God will do.


Alone With God

Mark 1:35-39

Where does prayer fit in your daily schedule? I’m not talking about the times you pray on the way to work or while eating breakfast, but the occasions when you are alone with God and it’s just the two of you. Although prayer at any time is good, we also need to have a set time and place where we meet with the Lord each day—preferably in the morning.

Even though Jesus was the Son of God, He knew the importance of solitary prayer time. He didn’t do anything on His own initiative but instead lived in dependence upon the Father, acting only on the instructions God communicated to Him. In today’s reading, we don’t know exactly what Jesus prayed, but when the disciples interrupted His morning prayer time, He had obviously received His Father’s direction for that day—to “go somewhere else” so that He could preach.

Jesus was the perfect example of a Spirit-led life, and prayer played a vital role. Since we are to follow in His footsteps, wouldn’t it make sense for us to meet with God early each morning in preparation for the day? This is the time to lay our concerns at His feet, seek guidance for whatever the day holds, trust Him for provision and protection, and intercede for others.

Although many things demand our time and attention, we can’t afford to neglect prayer. The fruit of prayerlessness is spiritual weakness, unmet needs, anxiety, and ingratitude. But when we make prayer a priority, we’ll have a firm foundation for the day ahead, no matter what it brings. And in the evening, we can look back with a heart of gratitude for answered prayer.


For me, alone with God, is not so much a prayerful time. That is the time I am having a very deep conversation with Him. Questions, doubts, fears, anxiety and whatever else. I am just talking to Him. I stop many times in between the conversation and wait for an answer. I am quiet in His awesomeness. And He does speak. The Jews say, that when God speaks to an individual, that person hears the voice of God as the voice of his teacher(Enoch hears the call from God, him thinking he heard the voice of his grandfather, his teacher) or many times, God speaks to the individual in his own voice.

For those who walk with God because they believe in The Christ, the inner voice of the heart is the Holy Spirit.

It is awesome, after the conversation, the calm, the quietness and the wait for His acknowledgement. And then, the heart reveals. Such feelings makes the Believer proclaim, Hallelujah, Praise be to God, Father Praise be to Your Name, Blessed Be Your Name, Hallelujah.   

Last edited by seignet
seignet posted:

For me, alone with God, is not so much a prayerful time. That is the time I am having a very deep conversation with Him. Questions, doubts, fears, anxiety and whatever else. I am just talking to Him. I stop many times in between the conversation and wait for an answer. I am quiet in His awesomeness. And He does speak. The Jews say, that when God speaks to an individual, that person hears the voice of God as the voice of his teacher(Enoch hears the call from God, him thinking he heard the voice of his grandfather, his teacher) or many times, God speaks to the individual in his own voice.

For those who walk with God because they believe in The Christ, the inner voice of the heart is the Holy Spirit.

It is awesome, after the conversation, the calm, the quietness and the wait for His acknowledgement. And then, the heart reveals. Such feelings makes the Believer proclaim, Hallelujah, Praise be to God, Father Praise be to Your Name, Blessed Be Your Name, Hallelujah.   

We know that the Lord spoke to people in the Bible, but He also wants to speak personally to each of His children today. This means we must be attentive because no one else can listen for us.
  1. God’s primary way of speaking to us is through His Word. The Bible is not just an old book, but the inerrant, authoritative Word of God and the only source of truth. When we read it, we’re hearing directly from the Lord. All other methods of listening to God must be checked and compared with Scripture to determine if we are accurately hearing Him.

  2. He also speaks to us through prayer. Prayer is our way of communicating with God by talking to Him, but it’s also a time to be still and listen for His guidance. Instead of simply running through our list of requests and moving on to the day’s duties and activities, we need to learn to be still for a while to see if He has anything to say to our hearts.

  3. The Lord may speak through our circumstances. When a situation is painful, we must remember that hearing from God is more important than our comfort and pleasure. He uses difficulties and suffering to grab our attention. In every event, God has something to teach us. Instead of focusing on why the situation has happened, our first question should be, “Lord, what do you want to say to me?”

  4. Sometimes God speaks to us through other people. It may come in the form of affirmation, confirmation, encouragement, or even reproof or warning. And the Lord may use anyone He chooses to deliver His message—even someone we may not like. No matter the source, we should thoughtfully and prayerfully consider whatever is said.

When we are seeking to hear from the Lord, we must make sure that it’s His voice we are hearing and not our own thoughts or someone else’s ideas. God’s voice is always consistent with His Word. Any message must agree with what the Lord has already said in Scripture. His voice is quiet. God speaks to our hearts through His Holy Spirit in an inaudible but compelling way. And if we’ll tune our hearts to Him by setting aside time to read His Word and listen for His Spirit to speak, He will give us clear guidance.

Credit goes to In Touch Ministries

Is that You, God? Sometimes when we’re waiting to hear from God, we might wonder if we’ve missed His answer. In those moments, we would do well to remind ourselves that God loves us. He doesn’t toy with us or give up if we’re not sure we heard Him the first time. He just keeps knocking (Rev. 3:20).

Of course, if we harden our hearts and refuse to listen to God, there is a price to pay. But if we are seeking Him, He promises we will find Him (Matt. 7:7-8).

Consider how the Lord continued to call young Samuel until Eli helped him understand he was hearing the voice of God (1 Sam. 3:1-9). Or how God confirmed His directions when Gideon tested Him (Judges 6:36-40). Jesus continues to reach out to us, too—He answered Thomas’ doubts (John 20:24-29) and stopped Paul in his tracks as he headed to Damascus to persecute Christians (Acts 9:1-19).

But sometimes, in our desperation to hear something, we run the risk of convincing ourselves we're hearing from God when we’re not. In his message “Listening to God,” Dr. Stanley says that when we are seeking to hear from the Lord, we must make sure that it’s His voice we are hearing rather than our own thoughts or someone else’s ideas. He says we can identify God’s voice because:

  • God’s voice is always consistent with His Word. Any message must agree with what the Lord has already said in the Scriptures.

  • His voice is quiet. God often speaks to our hearts through His Holy Spirit in an inaudible but compelling way.

  • The Lord speaks clearly. If we’ll tune our hearts to Him by setting aside time to read His Word and listen for His Spirit to speak, He will give us clear guidance.

When God speaks, we have two choices: accept and obey, or deny and retreat. People who have ignored the voice of God know it. Perhaps God called you into the mission field but you chose to pursue another vocation instead. Or maybe you simply made decisions you knew to be unwise and against God’s teachings.

While we can’t go back in time, God can redeem our mistakes. Whenever we turn to the Lord and listen, He blesses our devotion. Are you waiting to hear God’s voice? Keep reading His Word and be ready to listen today.


The Heart’s Desires

Psalms 145:17-21

If you could have anything in the world, what would it be? Your answer reveals a lot about you. The psalmist writes, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4). There is nothing wrong with desires—they motivate us to achieve great things. But not all of our yearnings come from God. Consider your aspirations and what they say about who you are:

Do you hope for a position of authority in order to be in control? Longing for personal advancement in order to manipulate others reveals a lack of integrity, whereas a godly person craves righteousness.

Do you dream about wealth and fame? Perhaps there’s a void in your spirit that you’re trying to fill. But only God can meet the insatiable needs of the human heart.

Are you afraid to ask the Lord for what you want? Maybe you think He won’t listen, but God tells us to approach His throne with boldness and confidence (Heb. 4:16).

If the Lord doesn’t respond affirmatively to your prayers, ask Him to make your desires conform to His will. Whatever you do, don’t take matters into your own hands and go after what you want. There is always a high price to pay for rebelling against God.

God cares for us bountifully, but that doesn’t mean we can expect Him to deliver whatever we want, whenever we want it. Only when our dreams align with His plan for our life will He fulfill them. The thoughts that preoccupy us are an accurate barometer of the state of our relationship with Christ.


Whenever, I read the Psalms, astonished at the very simple words that brings me to contemplation. Absolute truths.

Jeremiah is a Book I love as well. When God chooses a person He works with them. 


When Facing Life’s Mountains

Zechariah 4:1-9

Wouldn’t it be great if it were easy to do God’s will? But sometimes it seems as if a mountain stands between us and what we’ve been called to do. When Zerubbabel felt this way, the Lord sent His prophet Zechariah with a message of encouragement.

Zerubbabel was given the task of rebuilding the temple. When King Solomon built the first temple, the kingdom was at peace, the treasuries were overflowing, and the workforce was huge. But the situation was quite different when the Jews returned after 70 years of Babylonian captivity. They were few in number, their enemies kept attacking them, Jerusalem was in ruins, and resources were very limited. Zechariah’s message to Zerubbabel (Zech. 4:1-9) contained two principles that strengthened him and will also help us when we face insurmountable obstacles.

We are to face our God-given tasks in the power of the Holy Spirit, not in our own strength and energy (Zech. 4:6). The Lord’s work can never be done with human strength. His indwelling Spirit must empower us with the wisdom and energy to accomplish His will in our lives.

When God calls us to a task, He assumes the responsibility for removing any hindrances (Zech. 4:7-9). What seems to us like Mount Kilimanjaro is a mere anthill for the Lord. When we’re tempted to give up, it’s time to look up, see the obstacle through His eyes, and trust Him.

Is the Lord asking you to do something that seems impossible? Dwelling on your own inadequacy leads to discouragement, but focusing on the Lord gives hope and the strength to persevere.


The Burden of Sin

Romans 5:12-21

The burdens we carry come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties. Many are weighty, but there’s one load that proves even heavier—and it can be traced back to the garden of Eden.

Because Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:6), all people have been born with sinful hearts. Holiness and sin cannot mix. Therefore, in our natural state, none of us are able to fellowship with God.

What is worse, we continue to do wrong. The Bible says that every one of us has gone astray, like a sheep wandering from his shepherd (Isa. 53:6). So on our own, we have no access to God. And there is nothing that we—fallen humans—can do to rectify the situation. That’s why I see this as the heaviest burden of all.

But our Creator loved us so much that He sent His own Son to live a perfect life on earth. Jesus deserved fellowship with God, yet He took our sin and its punishment by dying on the cross in our place. And then He conquered death by rising to life again.

His atonement for our wrongs is a gift that is available to anyone who believes. The Savior longs for us to accept that He willingly paid the price to redeem us. He desires to relieve the burden of sin from our heart. Only then will we experience true life and freedom.

Have you received God’s free gift of salvation? Jesus loves you so much that He gave His life to have a relationship with you. If you believe in Him and accept His death as your undeserved atonement for sin, He will forgive you for all unrighteousness and welcome you onto the path of true life.


Genuine Repentance

2 Corinthians 7:8-10

Because we desire to be more like Jesus, we make resolutions, ask Him to help us, and try to behave differently. Yet despite our best efforts to do things God’s way, we slide back into old habits. Frustrated, we may ask Him, “Why can’t I change?”

Overcoming sinful attitudes and behaviors starts with genuine repentance.

Conviction. The Holy Spirit will reveal the areas in which we’ve sinned and convict us of wrongdoing. Through Scripture, He’ll show us God’s standard and what needs to change. Repentance begins with understanding where we have gone astray.

Contrition. The next step—grieving over our iniquity—is followed by confession to the Lord. It’s simply human nature to sense regret when we are caught in misbehavior, deal with the consequences of poor choices, or feel ashamed that people know about our sin. In contrast, genuine sorrow arises from the knowledge that we’ve sinned against God. True contrition will lead us to humble confession.

Commitment. Real repentance is complete when we wholeheartedly pledge to turn from our old ways and move toward righteousness. God knows we won’t live perfectly, but He looks for a surrendered heart that diligently seeks to obey Him.

Paul used strong language when telling us to turn from iniquity: “Put to death ... whatever belongs to your earthly nature” (Col. 3:5 NIV). What sin are you struggling to overcome? Have you genuinely repented, committing to turn from it permanently? Let the Holy Spirit empower you to change.


God’s Call to Repentance

Luke 15:11-24

In the parable of the prodigal son, the younger brother asked for his inheritance early so he might live as he chose. Once the father gave him his share, the young man made many unwise choices that led to hunger and destitution. What happened next illustrates the principles of godly repentance.

After squandering all of his money, the wayward son found work feeding pigs, a bottom-of-the-barrel kind of job. One day he came to his senses and recognized his terrible plight. His repentance began with an awareness of his wrong choices and the fact that his bad situation was due to them.

Knowing that his difficulties came from unrighteous behavior, the prodigal grieved over his mistakes and acknowledged his sin (Luke 15:18). He declared he was no longer worthy to be his father’s son. Godly sorrow and confession led the young man to leave that place and go home. His repentance was made complete when he turned away from his old ways and returned to his father. The Lord likewise calls us to repent and return to Him.

What a welcome the prodigal son received! Upon seeing him, the father was filled with compassion and ran to embrace him. Forgiveness and acceptance were extended to the son. Both are blessings that God freely offers to whoever asks Him.

The prodigal son did not clean himself up before returning home. He simply left his old life, turned toward home, and trusted in his father’s mercy. The heavenly Father calls us to repent and offers us forgiveness when we turn away from our self-centered ways and move toward godliness (1 John 1:9).

seignet posted:

Whenever, I read the Psalms, astonished at the very simple words that brings me to contemplation. Absolute truths.

Jeremiah is a Book I love as well. When God chooses a person He works with them. 

Totally agree with you my brother. The very first chapter of Psalm is so fitting as we go about life.

Psalm 1:1-3 (KJV)

1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.


Do you want to know God?

Do you yearn to experience the Lord’s comforting presence, power, and wisdom? That’s good, because God loves you and wants to have a personal relationship with you forever.

The problem is . . .
. . . one thing separates you from a relationship with God—sin. You and I sin whenever we fail to live by the Lord’s holy standard. In fact, Romans 3:23: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Furthermore, Romans 6:23 explains that the penalty for sin is death—separation from God in hell forever. No matter how hard we try, we cannot save ourselves or get rid of our sins. We can’t earn our way to heaven by being good, going to church, or being baptized (Eph. 2:8-9).

Understanding how helpless we are because of our sins, God sent His only Son, Jesus, to save us.

Jesus Christ lived a perfect, sinless life, and then died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins (Rom. 5:8). Three days later, He rose from the dead—showing that He had triumphed over sin and death once and for all.

So how can you know God?

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

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

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

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

If you have just prayed this prayer with all sincerity, congratulations!

You have received Christ as your Savior and have made the best decision you will ever make—one that will change your life forever! Please leave us a comment below to let us know so we can rejoice with you.


Our Generous Provider

Psalms 65:1-13

Generosity is usually a term we apply to people, but have you ever considered how generous the Lord is toward us? First of all, He created the earth and all it contains as a habitation for mankind. He made the sun to give light and cause vegetation to grow, and He sends rain to water the land and quench our thirst. The Lord has abundantly made provision for our physical needs.

This alone should cause us to stand in awe of His love and care for us, but His generosity doesn’t end with the physical necessities. He’s also provided for all our spiritual needs through His Son. As a result of Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins, we who believe in Him are reconciled to God and given a wealth of spiritual blessings. We have His Word to guide us, His Spirit to empower and transform us into Christ’s image, and His church to encourage and support us. Yet His generosity doesn’t end there.

The Lord has also promised us an imperishable, undefiled, and unfading inheritance in heaven. (See 1 Pet. 1:4.) All that He has prepared for us is beyond our human understanding, but Revelation 21 and 22 describe the new heaven and earth as a place of abundance and blessing, untainted by sin and death.

In light of all that the Lord has so richly provided and promised, gratitude should be our first response. However, since we are His people, who are called to walk in His Spirit, we should also be characterized by generosity toward others. That means meeting not only physical needs but also spiritual ones by proclaiming the gospel and encouraging fellow believers.


Our Labor of Love

1 Thessalonians 1:1-5

The moment that we place our trust in Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, we become new creations. This is an act of love by the heavenly Father—He gives us new life and adopts us into His family. He also has a custom-designed plan for every believer, with specific work for each one to accomplish.

Once we are saved, the rest of our days are to be spent fulfilling God’s purposes for our life. We are called to be Jesus’ disciples—acting on His behalf and working zealously for God, as the Savior did. The world is hungry for the good news, which we are to deliver.

Redemption is God’s gift, offered to us free of charge (Eph. 2:8-9). Salvation is by grace, not by grace-plus-works. Once we are saved, however, works are God’s will for us—the Holy Spirit carries out Jesus’ agenda on earth through His followers.

God has committed Himself to guide and equip believers to act as His servants. No matter what He calls us to do, He will provide the necessary abilities and resources. His Holy Spirit will teach us whatever we need to know—such as effective ways to relate, to pour ourselves out on behalf of others, and to share our faith. He expects us to make serving Him a priority, and to surrender our time, talent, and treasure for His use. Age does not disqualify us from His service, and there is never a time for retirement.

While we are living on earth, our lifestyle is to be one of enthusiastic, committed service in the cause of Christ. Let your work for God be a genuine labor of love.


The Loss of Hope

Acts 27:13-26

Life doesn’t always meet our expectations. Even when making plans according to God’s lead, we may run into something that interrupts them. Frustration over the obstacle can lead to discouragement and loss of hope. Then, if the hindrance should persist, our spirits may plummet toward despair.

Oftentimes, what trips us up is the circumstance that seems impossible to overcome. Think about Paul’s voyage to Rome by sea. When a bad storm arose, the sailors worked hard to save the ship. But since they couldn’t control the weather, they gradually gave up all hope of being saved (Acts 27:20). There are times when we can’t change what has happened—whether it’s a job loss, a loved one’s death, or a devastating diagnosis. In such situations, feelings of hopelessness can overtake us.

Postponed plans can also be disheartening. Hannah is an example of someone who became dejected because of “hope deferred” (1 Sam. 1:10-11; see also Prov. 13:12). She saw other women bearing children, but her own maternal desires had not yet been fulfilled. When things do not go according to our schedule, we may experience emotions like hers.

Feeling abandoned by the Lord is another thing that can throw believers off track. I remember a season of life when I felt all alone. My mind said God was with me, but my feelings said otherwise. To counter those emotions, I pursued the Lord through prayer and meditation on Scripture.

In times of discouragement, you have a choice. Will you focus on your circumstances, or will you fix your gaze on our loving Father and trust Him?


The Source of Our Hope

Colossians 1:26-28

Hope is a desire for something, accompanied by the anticipation of receiving it. If our expectation of fulfillment diminishes, discouragement can set in. And prolonged disappointment can lead to despair. Perhaps that’s what led to the betrayal of Christ.

One possible explanation for Judas’s tragic decision is that he wanted to see Israel throw off Roman oppression and establish itself as the ruling power. Maybe he thought that having Jesus arrested would push God to force the hand of Israel’s religious and political rulers. If that was his thinking, then Judas failed to achieve his goal. We know for certain that his betrayal of Jesus cost him everything. Out of hope and overcome by guilt, he gave up his life.

We have an enemy who watches for our moments of weakness, when he tries to influence us away from the Lord. He wants to keep us focused on our circumstances and doubting God so we’ll complain, “This isn’t fair. If the Lord loves me, why would He allow such a thing to happen to me?” But we should never let the father of lies lure us toward hopelessness.

As children of the heavenly Father, we were birthed into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:3). Because of our Savior, we have been taken from condemnation to full acceptance, from spiritual death to eternal life in heaven with the Lord. We have His indwelling Spirit to provide comfort in tough times and to guide us through them.

Because we’re eternally secure in the Lord, we are never in a hopeless circumstance. We may feel desperate, but emotions are not reliable. Our Savior and friend, Jesus Christ, is our constant source of hope.


God is the provider of all things. Jesus is the way to His benevolence.

How do I grasp such goodness?

It is good to believe in Christ, because He is the answer to all of mankind's sorrows. Just the mention of His name bring comfort in seeking. To mention His redeeming blood gives protection. And, for His sacrifice, for those who believe in Him, He offers His charge of the ministering angels.

All of that is accepted by faith.

For me, I wanted to be absolutely sure. I wasn't really too keen in accepting just the formula. Then, I was reminded of my Prof. of Static and Dynamics class saying, "try not to memorize the formulas, but instead, pay more emphasis on the principles. Once the principles are grasp, then they can be applied to any situation."

For that seeking, The Book of Enoch was given a short time after. It explained the coming of the Elect One.

It is nicely stated, "He is in the bosom of the Ancient of Days."

I grasped His coming and why He came. 


A Burden or a Bridge

What word would you use to describe adversity in your life? To most people, it is a heavy, inescapable burden that wears them down, saps their joy, and hinders them from truly living. Christians, however, have the opportunity to see adversity as a bridge leading to a glorious eternal future.

The determining factor in how we view hardship is our perspective. If we focus only on the negative aspects of our earthly life, we’ll be drawn into despair and desperation. But if we look at problems from an eternal standpoint, our thinking and attitudes will be transformed in the following ways:

1. Instead of letting difficulties wear us down, we won’t lose heart, because we know we’re being renewed from within. As we respond in submission to whatever God allows in our life and trust in His good purposes, our character is shaped into Christlikeness and our hope is restored.

2. The despair of feeling that our adversity is inescapable and never-ending will be replaced with strength to endure. Paul said he was afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, struck down, and constantly threatened with death, yet he called it all “light and momentary” compared to eternity (2 Cor. 4:8-11,2 Cor. 4:17 NIV).

3. Rather than seeing adversity as a thief of all joy and a hindrance to a good life, we should look beyond the present to what the trial is producing for us in heaven— “an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17).

Viewing troubles through an eternal lens is an act of faith, which pleases God. It increases our trust in Him, gives us greater passion for our heavenly inheritance, and strengthens us to victoriously cross the bridge of adversity.


When Anxiety Strikes

Philippians 4:6-7

If you needed a consultant, would you hire just anyone? Of course not. You’d want to be sure your advisor had experience to back up his or her suggestions. The apostle Paul was certainly qualified to teach on the value of contentment—he wrote on the subject while under confinement by Roman authorities.

In today’s passage, Paul says that prayer safeguards the believer’s heart from anxiety. Praying appropriately will result in protection, so we are wise to follow the pattern Jesus gave us. The Lord’s Prayer underscores adoration of the Father and de-emphasizes focusing on oneself (Matt. 6:9-13). God does desire to hear our concerns (Phil. 4:6). But if problems are all that keep us on our knees, then we have missed the main point of our relationship with Him.

Why does the Lord expect us to honor Him when what we really want is immediate help for our problems? Because where the mind dwells, the heart follows. Focusing on His greatness puts our needs in perspective and encourages us to rest easy. He is in charge and at work (Rom. 8:28).

Consider Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane (Matt. 26:36-46). Even as the Lord was crying out for relief, He nevertheless submitted to the Father’s greater will (Matt. 26:39). As a result, a supernatural peace fortified the Savior and enabled Him to face His executioners.

In today’s reading, Paul offered a radical peace plan: Praise the Lord while suffering persecution; thank Him when facing trials; pray about everything. Each prayer braces your heart against anxiety. That’s solid advice from a man who practiced what he preached.


Removing Worry From Our Life

Philippians 4:8-9

People fret over all kinds of issues, from safety and job security to election results. For many folks—and maybe you are one—anxiety is woven so tightly into the fabric of their day that they’ve learned to live with it.

We treat worry like a benign emotion when in fact it can be harmful. Anxiety clouds our thinking, divides our focus, and robs us of concentration. To complicate matters, the body can react to prolonged pressure on the psyche. Stress can manifest physically through tension headaches, elevated blood pressure, and even heart attacks.

Drifting through an exhausting life is not the Lord’s plan for us. Our challenge is to take anxious thoughts captive (2 Cor. 10:5) and replace them with God-pleasing ones by dwelling on that which is pure, good, and right.

The best way to remove stray threads of worry is to crowd them out with something positive. We do this by weaving Scripture into our mental grid instead. God has something to say about everything that concerns us. If we’re feeling weak or underqualified, Philippians 4:13 assures us we “can do all things through Him who strengthens [us].” If we fear the paycheck won’t cover this month’s expenses, Matthew 6:31-32 reminds us not to be anxious, “for [our] heavenly Father knows that [we] need all these things.”

Jesus said worry adds nothing to our life (Matt. 6:27). In fact, we actually waste time and energy dwelling on concerns instead of affirming our trust in the Lord. We must choose to set our minds upon Him before anxiety leaves us feeling frayed.


Carry the Light

John 1:1-9

In the Bible, light is equated with good. For instance, Jesus called Himself light—He said, “I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness” (John 12:46).

In contrast, the world we live in is dark (John 3:19). However, once we trust Jesus as our Savior, He lives within us through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Therefore, when we’re saved, we have the light with us (John 8:12).

Just before Jesus ascended into heaven, He instructed His followers to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:19-20). This charge, known as the Great Commission, still applies. In other words, Christians must carry the light to a dark world. But how do we do this? Here are three ways.

• God will send some of us abroad to share the truth of Jesus Christ. There are people in other countries who have never heard how to receive salvation, and we can go as missionaries to tell them.

• The Father also calls Christians to spread the good news of the gospel right where they are—in their neighborhoods, families, and workplaces.

• The Lord asks His followers to give of the resources He’s provided—whether money, talents, or gifts—so His message of salvation can be shared with the world.

Are you willing to tell others about Jesus in whatever way the Lord has in mind? Ask God how He would like you to shine His light into the world. Then be available and obedient to carry out His plan.


God Knows Your Needs

Matthew 6:7-8

I remember once watching a mother and marveling at her mastery in handling several energetic young children. It was an amazing sight. In the midst of a whirlwind of activity, this seasoned pro intuitively met the needs of her kids. A meal was served, spills were averted, noses were wiped, shoelaces were tied, hugs were distributed—all at the same time! Clearly, such a parent knows the needs of her family, even when the children cannot express them.

Sometimes it is difficult for us to think of ourselves as children. When we see little ones running around, always needing something from us, we cannot imagine that we often look and act the same way, only in grown-up bodies. Fortunately, we also have a Parent who already knows our needs. And yet we frequently act as though we must explain every detail of our problems to the Lord so He can get a more accurate view of how to provide for us.

Isn’t it strange? If you asked most Christians whether they thought God was all-knowing, they would respond, “Of course!” However, if you could listen in when they pray, you would probably often discover long, complicated explanations of why they need His help.

God does want you to talk with Him about what is on your heart. But at the same time, remember that “your Father knows what you need before you ask Him” (Matt. 6:8). Therefore, do not spend all of your prayer time repeating yourself or explaining everything in unnecessary detail to God. For a change, simply ask Him to speak to your listening heart. Remember, He’s already got the answer. Give Him the opportunity to share it with you.


Why Our Needs Remain Unmet

James 1:5-8

If our loving, omnipotent Father really does desire to meet His children’s needs, then why do some go unmet? Let’s look at a few key reasons why we may lack essentials.

We don’t ask. If this seems elementary, it is. And yet it’s astonishing how many people fail to bring their concerns to God. Some say, “Oh, He has too much to do to worry about my little problems.” Nonsense! Our Father is a very personal God, who cares deeply about everything that affects His children. In fact, Matthew 10:30 says He even knows the number of hairs on our head. So of course we should share with Him the details of our life.

We ask but doubt that God can or will do it. It’s a tragic mischaracterization to go before the omnipotent, sovereign God of the universe and essentially say, “You aren’t big enough to handle my needs.” James 1:8 describes such a person as “double-minded” and “unstable.” When you approach God, do so knowing that He can meet your needs.

We ask God to address the symptom, not the real need. At times we pray and pray about something—a particular emotional pain, perhaps—without seeing any change. The reason may be that we are focusing on the symptom rather than the actual need. As you continue talking to the Lord about the situation, you may discover the root need is something you have not even considered.

The heavenly Father wants to meet all of your needs. If you cannot see Him acting on your behalf, be sure to take a critical look at yourself from His perspective. Then ask yourself, Is it possible that I could be standing in the way of God’s intervention?


Praying With Faith

Mark 11:20-24

In today’s passage, Jesus connects two important concepts: prayer and faith. And we know from other scriptures that unless our prayers are united with faith, we shouldn’t expect to receive anything from the Lord (James 1:6-7). But what is the basis for our faith? Are we to believe that God will give us whatever we ask?

Jesus began by saying, “Have faith in God” (Mark 11:22). This is the foundation for prayer—trust in the Lord. If our requests are incompatible with His teachings, we have no reason to believe He’ll answer. Nor should we expect to receive if the motive is our own pleasure (James 4:3). As Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane demonstrates, ultimate trust in God says, “Yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

First John 5:14-15 tells us we can count on God answering requests prayed according to His will. Our prayers should, therefore, be anchored to Scripture because apart from the Bible, we don’t know His will. But as we fill our minds with God’s Word, our desires and requests begin to align with His. When that’s the case, we can confidently expect to receive whatever we ask. And in those instances when we’re not sure of His will, the Spirit intercedes for us (Rom. 8:27). Even the obstacles in our life are no problem for the Lord. Nothing in harmony with His purpose will be impossible for us.

God doesn’t turn a deaf ear to the supplication of His children. As a loving heavenly Father, He protects, provides, guides, and cares for us. He has proven His love by sending His Son. Surely we can trust Him with all our other concerns.