EXPECT IT…

Psalms 40   

Life is filled with expectations. Look at our everyday lives. Some of us wake up expecting the best in our work day or with our family or in our health or in our finances. Others dread the day, or at best, never expect anything to change for the better.

Childhood dreams and hopes might be crushed by comments that discourage rather than encourage.  Disillusionments or disappointments can stop any positive expectations.

What are you expecting in life? Whatever your expectations, there’s a good chance you’re going to get it. In other words, you get whatever you expect out of life.

Please know that God is still ABLE to deliver you from low expectations. Start believing for something better in your life. The Word tells us that God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we can ask or think, according to the power that works in us. Expect it!

I AM GRATEFUL..

1 Timothy 4:4-5

“For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”
NKJV

“God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food.”

That prayer, often spoken by small children before they eat, may seem simple, yet thankfulness is something we often struggle with even as adults. How often have I stopped and thanked God for the air I breathe, the abilities I have, or the body I have been given? Of course, gratefulness does not just manifest itself in words but becomes part of our lives. When I truly understand the gifts God has given me, it leads me to a desire to serve Him. Then, as I meditate on the Gospel and the fact that Jesus died on my behalf so that I could be forgiven, it causes me to give my all for Him. I know it can be difficult in our busy lives to stop and focus on all that we are blessed with, but when we take the time it will impact our lives profoundly.

Romans 2:4 “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” NKJV

As we focus on the goodness of God and His provision for our lives and our salvation, we are humbled and put in the perfect place to be used by God. Even in our times of hardship, when we stand back and view, we get a glimpse of God’s eternal perspective which leads us to rejoice, once again, in our King.

Life Lesson: Grateful people recognize God’s provisions in their lives.

Dear God,
Thank You for all that You have given me. I am grateful for Your love, Your mercy and the gift of eternal life through Jesus. Thank You for the blessings of life. Teach me to have a grateful heart and to share this gratefulness with others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

WATCH WHO YOU HANG OUT WITH…

One of the things I believe grieves the heart of God is when His children grumble and complain.  In Jude 6 we find some interesting insight into this destructive behavior,

These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.

The word complainer is really two Greek words stuck together.  The first word means to blame, and the second word means your fate or lot in life.  The point is that complainers blame someone else for their lot in life.

Isn’t it always amazing how someone can make wrong choices, and when they have to face the consequences of those choices, it is always somebody else’s fault?

I have two pieces of advice for you on this.  First, if you are a complainer and grumbler, stop.  God is not honored, and you are only showing that you are “walking according to your own lust,” not according to God’s Spirit.

Second, stay away from people like that or you will end up being like them.   Proverbs 22:24-25 says,

Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul.

Their attitudes and mindsets will bleed off on you.

Did you ever throw a pair of jeans in the washing machine with a red shirt?  What happened to your blue jeans?  They turned pink, didn’t they?  The red dye bled over into the blue jeans, and the blue jeans were no longer blue.  They were pink. 

If you hang around with people who grumble and complain, their attitudes will bleed over into your way of thinking.  And the last thing you want to be is a grumbler and complainer.

THE FATHER HAS TO DISCIPLINE US..

 James 1:2

When a person’s carnality reaches the point of rejecting the Christian faith, many things can happen. Financial, emotional, social, and mental difficulties are just a few things that could catch up with them. If they live in persistent rebellion against God, God is going to discipline them. “We had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplines us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness” (Hebrews 12:9-10).

The purpose of God’s discipline is to bring us back to Him in reconciliation. He does not discipline in vengeance or because He is angry. Our parents disciplined us the best they could, but God disciplines perfectly every time. He knows everything. He knows what the carnal Christian has done, so God is never caught by surprise.

“All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful” (v. 11). A person living in carnality is going to experience discipline that will hurt. What is the difference between a Christian in the will of God going through trials, and a person out of the will of God going through discipline? If we are in the will of God, we can “consider it all joy” (James 1:2). If we are out of God’s will, we will not have joy in the midst of our problems.

One Minute Please
“To those who have been trained by [discipline], afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11). 

I CAN HEAR THE CALLING..

And a vision appeared to Paul in the night.  A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”  Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them (Acts 16:9-10).

The world is in need and they are calling!  I can hear Africa, Asia, voices from South America and Europe calling out.  China and Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines…voices from around the globe crying out, “Come over and help us!”

The call may be coming from down your street or from the next aisle in the grocery store.  “Help me!  I’m lost.  I want to find God.  I have problems I can’t cope with.  I have an aching void in my heart that I don’t know how to fill.  Is there anyone out there with answers?!”

Who will go to them if not you and me? 

To say, “I don’t feel called to go to them,” is equivalent to a strong swimmer standing on the shore of a lake saying he doesn’t feel called to save the man drowning before his eyes. 

Ask God today to direct you to someone whose heart has cried out for answers and help.  Chances are you won’t have to go too far to find them.

CAN YOU HEAR THE CALL..

It was love that motivated the Father to send His Son Jesus to redeem mankind. That same love has been poured out into the heart of every believer.

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:5).

God’s love in us calls and compels us to do something about the plight of lost people.  Even as Paul says in   2 Corinthians 5:14 , For the love of Christ compels us.

A few years ago, late at night I would hear what seemed to be a very faint chime or bell.  Several times I got out of bed to try and find the source of the sound, but it always stopped before I could discover it.

Finally, one evening, I found out what it was.  It was an old watch I had, tucked away in a drawer under some junk.  Every evening, the alarm would go off at the same time.

The call of God’s love in your heart can be like that.  Sounding regularly but seldom heard.  Buried under personal ambitions, cares and problems, daily routines and the general busyness of life.  But it is unmistakably there!

The same love that moved Jesus to heal the sick and minister God’s life to broken people is in you!  Listen to it.  Get in touch with it and express it to someone in need.

THEIR ARE NO UNBELIEVERS IN HELL..

In Luke Chapter 16, Jesus tells a very sobering story,

The rich man also died and was buried.  And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom… Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment'” (Luke 16:22b-23 and 27-28).

Everyone in hell believes in evangelism.  They are crying out lest their loved ones end up with them.

Two thousand years have passed and this rich man has had no relief.  A billion years from now he will just be getting started in his torment and pain.  Listen to his cry,  “My brothers! Send someone to my family!”

Hell is for unbelievers but there are no unbelievers in hell!

Several years ago a man came weeping to the altar of our church.  A message had been preached that night from these very Scriptures.  After giving his heart to Christ (and after a long time of almost uncontrollable weeping), he told us this story:

He said,  “I died twice on the operating table during heart surgery.  Each time I died, I left my body and went to hell.  It was so horrifying that I tried to put it out of my mind.  As the message was preached tonight, all the details of my experience came flooding back into my mind.”

He did not need to be convinced that hell was real.  That night he accepted Christ and was liberated from the fear of returning to that place of torment. 

Jesus alone can rescue us from the terrors of hell and bring us safely to heaven. Shouldn’t we be telling people there is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun?  Shouldn’t we be warning them and encouraging them to accept Christ—while there is still time?!

STUDY TO SHOW THYSELF APPROVED..

After Paul preached the gospel to the Bereans, they did something that others had not done—they searched the Scriptures.

These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so (Acts 17:11).

According to the next verse, the result of their search was that many of them believed.

Jesus said in John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.”

I once heard a Jewish believer share his testimony.  His daughter, who had become a Christian, challenged him to read through the New Testament.

He began in Matthew and was astonished to find so many Old Testament references to the Messiah being fulfilled by Jesus.

His initial reason for searching the Scriptures was to prove that his daughter was wrong, but instead, he ended up giving his heart to Christ.  The Scriptures testified of Jesus!

Look for Him as you read the Holy Scriptures, and encourage others to do the same.

WHEN WE SHOULD SEEK GOD PART 2

In yesterday’s devotional, we looked at three times we should seek God. Today we will look at three more:

4.  When we are in trouble.

In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; my hand was stretched       out in the night without ceasing; my soul refused to be comforted (Psalm 77:2).

In Hosea 5:15 the Lord says, “…in their affliction they will earnestly    seek me.”

I don’t like to admit it, but the truth is that at times I have sought God more earnestly when I have been in trouble.  Problems have a way of getting us on our knees.  If you are in trouble today – seek Him!

5.  When all is well.

Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face evermore! (Psalm 105:4).

If you will carefully read the preceding verses of this psalm, you will find that the context is one of blessing and not trouble.

This may be the most important time of all to seek Him.  May we never become smug and think that we do not need God when all is well.

6.  Continually.

Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face evermore!

(1 Chronicles 16:11).

The word evermore in this verse means continually or at all times.

When you have sinned, when you are dry, when you are afraid, when you are in trouble, when all is well, and in any other situation – you need to seek God!