Genesis 15:16

Is North Korea going to to drop a nuclear bomb on the United States? I’m not talking about an attack on Guam, or South Korea, or even Japan–which are also very real possibilities–but whether they might, at some point in the not-too-distant future, attack us? As I write, their Supreme Leader, Kim Jong Un, has already developed and tested a long range intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear weapon anywhere in the United States, including as far as our nation’s Capitol. And, while most of us are still refusing to consciously acknowledge the frightening implication, that–which to many of us is unthinkable–has actually become possible.

“After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction.” (Genesis‬ ‭15:16‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

God promised Abraham that after four generations his descendants would displace the Amorites from Canaan, and He even specified why Abraham wasn’t getting that land now–why it would take so long–because “the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction.” Other translations refer to their sins not yet “being complete.” Even though they eventually would be, at that point their transgressions were not yet such as to warrant judgment.

We don’t like to talk judgment–personal or national–yet Scripture discusses it extensively. Perhaps we don’t want to think about it because we believe we as a people are somehow special–that we are different. Other nations were judged for their sins, but we won’t be. Yet God’s Word clearly says, “…God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” (Acts‬ ‭10:34-35‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

Yes, we had a prodigious start. The Puritans were God-fearing people who fled religious persecution to these shores; George Washington spent time on his knees in prayer seeking Divine wisdom and favor; we had revivals, we sought and honored God in the past, individually and as a people. But, we have forgotten our beginnings.

Today, we are lost in our diversions and entertainment, and have abandoned our First Love. To the contrary, we can barely mention our Lord’s name in public without risking a loss of credibility. Our corporate arrogance, immorality, idolatry, greed, disrespect for human life and outright fist-shaking at God and His Word–all witness how far we have sunk as a nation. But have we transgressed far enough to “warrant destruction?” Is our “sin complete?” Will God abandon us? Would he? To answer this, let’s take a look at His response to Israel, Biblically identified as His chosen people. How did God respond to them when they obstinately refused to stop sinning?

“The Lord replied, ‘Did I not rescue you from the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, the Sidonians, the Amalekites, and the Maonites? When they oppressed you, you cried out to me for help, and I rescued you. Yet you have abandoned me and served other gods. So I will not rescue you anymore. Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen! Let them rescue you in your hour of distress!'” (Judges‬ ‭10:11-14‬ ‭NLT)

Israel was not obliterated from the face of the earth because God had a future purpose for them–but they were judged. God allowed them to be conquered and destroyed, and their people carried off to captivity in Babylon for seventy years. Other nations were not as fortunate. Sodom and Gomorrah were physically obliterated from the face of the earth. The people groups of Canaan were destroyed through battle and driven out.

Yet there are examples of God staying His hand of judgment when there is genuine repentance. Nineveh repented when the prophet Jonah finally delivered the news that God was going to destroy them for their wickedness, and they were spared.

So, what’s it going to be for us? Are we going to come to our senses, or will we be destroyed–by North Korea or any other agent God sees fit to judge us? I realize I am preaching to the choir because those who read this are already concerned with godly living, and others won’t be reading this in Newsweek or The New York Times. Yet while it may be unpopular, the message of judgment on unrepented sin must be spoken.

Certainly it will not be welcomed: the prophet Jeremiah was thrown in a well to be silenced, so aggravating was the message of destruction. We may sound foolish: I’m sure Noah seemed utterly deranged talking about a Flood while trying to convince people to repent during the years he was constructing the Ark. We may not be believed: even Lot’s sons-in-law thought he was joking when he urged them to leave the city because it was going to be destroyed.

So why should we speak out? Why should we preach a message of the necessity of repentance–both for the here-and-now and for eternity? Because, God is concerned about righteousness, whether or not we are about to be imminently destroyed. May we say with the Apostle Paul:

“…I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me.” (1 Corinthians‬ ‭9:16-17‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

Dear Lord God,

Help our “…nation…[fear You] and…[work] righteousness” so we would be accepted by You. Amen.

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John 15:3-5

Are you genuinely effective for Jesus? Have you made yourself available to be used for His purposes as He desires? I’m not asking if you’re active in your local church or if you have a ministry, but whether you, like Mary, have personally prepared yourself to be usable by our Master–because these are NOT the same. The truth is that we can be like Martha–highly active with duties and ministries–but be woefully disconnected with Jesus Himself, rendering ourselves effectively useless for the kingdom.

“You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches…without Me you can do nothing.” (John‬ ‭15:3-5‬)

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes have the tendency to fly past some of God’s Word and not really get it. Take these verses–on one level, I hear what Jesus is saying about not being able to do anything unless I remain in Him, but on another, do I–really? Yet I must get it, because Jesus is telling the truth. These words are not fluff, uttered for no particular purpose as so much today is: they are key to Christian effectiveness!

God has revealed Himself to us in Christ Jesus. You see, the Bible is the written revelation (Word) of God, while Jesus is the physical revelation (Word) of God–but both are the Logos (“intelligence; a word as the expression of that intelligence“) of God. Remember how John calls Jesus the Word (“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh…” John 1)?The eternal and incomprehensible God revealed Himself to us through Jesus, just as He reveals Himself through the Bible.

When we read the Word of God, the Bible, it’s like looking in a mirror that reflects God to us; we are being transformed from glory to glory—from God’s glory to His glory in us–like Moses, whose face shone after he was with God: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror [of His Word] the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from [His] glory to [His] glory [in us], just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (II Corinthians‬ ‭3:18‬ ‭NKJV‬‬) In the very same way, our spirits reflect God after we’ve spent time with Him in His Word.

This is why Jesus commanded those of us who follow Him to “remain in Me and I in you, for without Me you can do nothing,” and how true this is! We may imagine we are being effective, but unless we have spent time with Him we are trying to do God’s work with human tools, and it can’t be done–without the power and work of the Spirit of Christ in us, God’s work will not be accomplished.

We need to spend enough time in the Word. Furthermore, as James points out, we need to actually do what it says—otherwise, we walk away from the mirror of God’s revelation and forget what we look like—who we are in Christ. “But,” we are told, “whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom [God’s Word], and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” (James 1:25 NIV)

It is because our mind is so distinctly humanly fragile that Jesus tells us to remain in Him and His Word in us. He recognizes that we cannot take in a week’s worth of the Word in one sitting and then starve ourselves the remaining six days any more than we can consume a week’s worth of food in one sitting and fast the remaining six. It just doesn’t work that way!

Because of this, those who are most effective for Christ are those who remain in Him most–who keep looking at the “perfect law that gives freedom:” who read and meditate on His Word frequently throughout the day as they are able; who fellowship with Him intimately in heartfelt and genuine–not compulsory or brief–prayer throughout their day.

Think of someone you’ve met who radiates Jesus and is is genuinely effective for His kingdom and useful to the Master. I guarantee you this is someone who has “been with Jesus”–who is purposefully and actively remaining in Him through prayer and meditation on the Word!

Dear Lord Jesus,

Help me remain in You, because without You I can do nothing (for You that is eternally effective)! Amen.

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Psalm 9:1

It’s Thanksgiving! So what is it that you’re thankful for, and to Whom? Granted, today isn’t the only day we are to be grateful for the innumerable blessings we have been freely given by our gracious Heavenly Father, but it IS a day set aside to specifically think on all of it!

I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” (Psalm 9:1)

We are to be grateful people. Not just those who seem to have it made–each and every single member of humanity! I suspect one of the most poignant and deleterious effects of sin is that it invariably clouds our understanding of our situation as it really is. It is almost as if we’re under the influence of something that has us thinking we’re dancing in a field of flowers when we’re actually skirting the outer edge of a balcony. And it isn’t just that we don’t recognize how precarious rejecting the forgiveness God gives through Jesus is–because if that’s what we’re doing, we really are teetering on the outer edge of the very deep and terrible abyss of eternal judgment for our sins! TODAY is the day to settle that issue.

No, it is also that we do not typically see every single incredible blessing God graciously showers us with. Jesus said of the Father: “…He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew‬ ‭5:45‬ ‭NIV‬‬) He blesses even those who oppose His hand on their life–those who are still His enemies. And if He allows good into the life of those who reject Him, how much more into the life of His beloved ones!

But maybe you’re going through a difficult time right now. Maybe your child is really sick or your spouse is being unfaithful or the bank is repossessing your house. Maybe your kids aren’t responding to situations like you hoped they would. Maybe you’re out of work and starting to get scared. Maybe a loved one died, and it’s been really hard for you.

Thankfulness isn’t how we respond once we feel we’ve gotten enough of whatever it is we think we want–it is a recognition of the multitude of blessings EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US has already received from God’s hand. Think about it–some people are never thankful, regardless of how much they have, while others with comparably little and far heavier burdens than ours, live lives of humble gratitude.

So what do you have to be grateful for? I can think of a couple of things we all have:

I have Jesus, the most priceless of treasures! (“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” Matthew‬ ‭13:44‬ ‭NIV‬‬) He is worth more than anything else I could ever have!!

I have fellowship with Him–I can come to Him in prayer any time I please, and receive His help, love and support to help get me through whatever it is I need to get through at the moment. (‬‬“Let us, then, feel very sure that we can come before God’s throne where there is grace. There we can receive mercy and grace to help us when we need it.” Hebrews‬ ‭4:16‬ ‭NCV‬‬)

I have forgiveness of my sins and acceptance into the Father’s eternal kingdom through Him. (“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us…” Ephesians‬ ‭1:7-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

I have eternal life already in me through the power of His Spirit. (“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John‬ ‭17:3‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

All else pales in comparison to that–do we even need to go on?!

I have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, a good bed to sleep on, food to eat, a warm house to stay in. I have functional arms and legs. I can see, hear, smell, taste and feel.

This is the stuff we take for granted, but we shouldn’t, because some people don’t have even this. Try getting rid of some of these, and see how things go!

Do you have more than this? Many do!! But even if you don’t, do you see how much God has already given you??? How much you actually have to be grateful for?? So, let’s be grateful–not just today, but each and every day of the rest of our lives!

Dear Lord God,

Help me “…give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart…[help me] tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Amen.

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Matthew 6:19-21

What are you working toward in life–what are your goals? Do you want to save for a house or car, take a vacation, complete your degree so you can get a better job, start up a business, or simply raise your children? Maybe it’s even more basic and you just want to survive–to put food on the table and pay the bills so the utilities don’t get shut off? Even though finances are important, we need to recognize that the things we work for and look forward to should be more multidimensional than the mere material needs and desires of those who don’t know or follow Christ.

“Do not store up for yourselves [material] treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart [your wishes, your desires; that on which your life centers] will be also.” (MATTHEW‬ ‭6:19-21‬ ‭AMP‬‬)

We’re human; it’s almost as natural to us as breathing to want things and plan how to get them. It’s about a week before Thanksgiving as I write this, and I’ve already glanced at the Walmart Black Friday flyer. And while it’s not wrong to take advantage of great deals, it becomes wrong when our entire existence revolves around the acquisition of material wealth, however much or little that may be–because, you see, it is the focus of my heart that is at issue, not how much I actually possess.

The disciple John wrote one of the post difficult passages in the entire Bible, in my opinion. It is difficult because it spells out so clearly what someone who loves God looks like–and all too often, that doesn’t look like me (even though I want it to):

“Do not love the world [of sin that opposes God and His precepts], nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the lust and sensual craving of the flesh and the lust and longing of the eyes and the boastful pride of life [pretentious confidence in one’s resources or in the stability of earthly things]–these do not come from the Father, but are from the world. The world is passing away, and with it its lusts [the shameful pursuits and ungodly longings]; but the one who does the will of God and carries out His purposes lives forever.” (1 JOHN‬ ‭2:15-17‬ ‭AMP)

The three things that are not of our Father God are 1) the lust of the flesh (the things our body wants–illicit sex, too much food, addictions, etc.), 2) the lust of the eyes (the things we want to get (the Black Friday flyer, a nicer house, better car–or even more attractive wife or husband, etc.), and 3) the pride of life (anything that puffs out my chest–anything done so others will recognize how important or significant I am–any “I’ll show them!” behavior or desire).

Jesus recognized the grasp these three have on us, and gave a specific command to those who will follow Him–which, of course, is also synonymous with following our Creator God: work for, long for, focus on, employ yourself with eternal treasures. But what does this mean? Do we need to lock ourselves up in a room and do nothing but pray all day Obviously not. But once more–it is the focus of our hearts that is at issue. Jesus again:

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [money, possessions, fame, status, or whatever is valued more than the Lord].” (MATTHEW‬ ‭6:24‬ ‭AMP‬‬)

So while God knows we have physical bodies and needs (“The people who don’t know God keep trying to get these things, and your Father in heaven knows you need them.” Matthew‬ ‭6:32‬ ‭NCV‬‬), He wants us to love Him, not them. Remember that we are to pursue Him, and He’ll provide whatever else we really need:

“But seek first his kingdom [Christ’s righteousness in others] and His righteousness [in us] , and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew‬ ‭6:33‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

So, are you running after things that will be gone some day–things that at your dying breath will have absolutely no value to you? Or are you earning “treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal”–are you pursuing His purposes in life, in some way shape or form? Ultimately, is He and what He cares about the real love and preoccupation of your life? May it be!

Dear Lord Jesus,

Help me store up for myself “treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Amen.

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Romans 6:16

What is a life? Have you ever wondered why one person’s existence ends up a certain way, while another’s ends up completely differently? Of course we start out in different circumstances, but how many of us have ever really considered the process of how we are weaving the tapestry of our own life?

“Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.” (Romans‬ ‭6:16‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

Each of us does things for one of two reasons: for the result, or for the experience. When I decide to lose weight, it isn’t typically because I enjoy feeling hungry, but because I want to weigh less. On the other hand (unless I am a diabetic and my sugars have dipped dangerously low), I eat a chocolate bar simply for the mere pleasure of it. I am not doing it because my body needs more sugar or I need to gain weight; I eat it because it tastes good as it melts in my mouth. And whether we consciously realize it or not, all of our life’s actions are done for one (or in some less common instances both) of these two reasons. But why do I need to know this?

Much of what we do in life isn’t pleasant. It is not pleasant for me to stop eating when I don’t quite feel full, but I do it anyway because it is good for my body. It isn’t pleasant to do my daily exercise routine when I don’t feel like it, but I do it anyway because it, too, is good for me. It isn’t pleasant to study hard to get a degree, but I do it anyway because I want a better life. It isn’t pleasant to deprive myself now in order to be able to stash money away, but I do it so I’m not homeless someday when the unexpected happens. It isn’t pleasant to get up in the morning to go to a job I may not necessarily love, but I do it anyway because I want a paycheck. Life is full of things which aren’t necessarily pleasant, but need doing anyway. Yet the good news is that there is a strategy to help you cope, and ultimately keep at, the unpleasant but necessary activities of life.

This strategy is learning to enjoy–even to revel in—-the process of working toward your goal. According to Business Insider, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February (https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.businessinsider.com/new-years-resolutions-courses-2016-12). We can avoid being a part of this statistic by learning to appreciate and enjoy the process.

Say, for example, I have determined that I am going to exercise because it is good for my body and I would like to be more toned. If I focus too much on my goal–would I be willing to forgo the entire process itself if I could already be there?–I will miss a big part of the experience and may even give up. I may become discouraged when I realize how long it will be and how much effort it will take before I actually look better, and that, perhaps, no amount of effort will turn me into a centerfold.

If, on the other hand, I focus on the process of getting there rather than daydreaming about the result–if I recognize and constantly remind myself that all my efforts, the stretching of my muscles and my minor discomfort, is my body actively repairing, building and benefiting my cells, and that when I think about it, it actually does feel good to exercise–I will be much more likely to continue this activity until it becomes part of who I am, thereby increasing my chances of eventually reaching my goal.

In the same way, say I determine I will adopt a more healthy eating pattern, abandoning processed grains, sugar, and unhealthy fats, and increasing my consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. If I learn to enjoy the process–if I appreciate the wholesome taste of some foods I may not have previously consumed, if I recognize that with each bite I am feeding my cells rather than starving or even poisoning them, understanding that it is the process that is benefitting me bite by bite–I will be much more willing to watch what I place in my mouth and more likely to stick with it until it becomes a habit, and ultimately a defining lifestyle.

This same approach can be applied to anything of value that we set our minds to that may not, at first blush, appear pleasant. I desire a doctorate degree, but before I undertake to do so I have to commit myself to enjoying five to six years (plus the two more to first earn the requisite master’s degree) of a doctoral candidate’s lifestyle. I have to commit to studying, doing research, teaching, writing; I have to be prepared to throw myself into this lifestyle because, for the duration, it would be my life.

More importantly–especially when we set longer term goals–we also need to reconcile ourselves to the fact that we may or may not eventually get there–not because we will quit, but because life is brief and there may not be sufficient time to finish what we began–and we have to make sure we are okay with that.

All of this is just as true concerning the spiritual aspects of my life and my walk with God. If I do not feel like praying but recognize it is essential I have a passionate and deep prayer life, I need to focus on the actual process of praying. I need ask God for a desire to pray and for His presence; that I would pant for Him as a deer pants for water, that I would love Him with my heart, soul, mind and strength–and, because He “give[s] what is good to those who ask Him” (Matthew 7:11)–He will give me this. In the same way, when I recognize I should “remain in…[Jesus] and…[His] words [are to] remain in…[me],” I must open His Word and focus on enjoying it–and again, if ask for this, He will give it, because it is good to enjoy His Word!

So what is the life application of all this? The most important take-away from all of this is that we are a sum total of that which we do. We really are what we do: our life is the result of the process of our living it. Because of this, we need to choose our behavior wisely.

How many times have you made an exception and done something you felt was not representative of who you are? You may have lied, although you don’t see yourself as a liar. You may have cheated, although you don’t consider yourself dishonest. You might have had an affair, although you don’t really see yourself as unfaithful.

We need to stop lying to ourselves and recognize that while one action does not need to end up defining us–we can turn away from it and never do it again–a repeated pattern does, and far too often what began as a one-off ends up becoming our lifestyle.

So each and every thing I do matters. Whether I recognize it or not, by doing it I am building it into my life. It matters that I make well thought-out decisions and act with wisdom, integrity and goodness each day because what I do today may really truly end up defining my life. If you do not want to become a liar, don’t ever lie. If you want to be a good student, begin today and turn in the best paper you’ve ever written. If you want to be healthy, never put into yourself anything that is bad for you. If you want to finish your education, sign up for the first class and give it your all. Most importantly, if you want to live in a way that pleases God–reading the Bible, praying, or going to church–begin doing it today!

RECAP

1. We do things for either the end result, or for the process.

2. We can stick things through better when we come to appreciate the process, even if it doesn’t initially seem pleasant.

3. Our lives are made up of our processes–what we regularly do.

4. We should therefore choose our processes wisely!

Dear Lord,

Help me be wise in how I live my life–most of all, help me choose to obey You, which leads to righteousness. Amen.

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John 9:4

Are you actively living your life for Jesus? Are you busy doing whatever it is He has laid upon your heart to do for the furtherance of His kingdom? Or are you like the man in the parable who took what his master left him to manage and buried it, effectively accomplishing nothing?

“I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.” (John‬ ‭9:4‬)

Jesus said this about Himself, but it is equally applicable to each and every one of us too. Our time here in this life is short, and if we are not mindful, we may arrive at its end not having done much of anything for Christ. Granted, “doing stuff” for Jesus won’t get us into heaven; nor can we, at the same time, live a life of sin in disregard of His desire for our increasing holiness. Remember Jesus’ warning:

“Not all those who say ‘You are our Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. The only people who will enter the kingdom of heaven are those who do what my Father in heaven wants. On the last day many people will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, we spoke for you, and through you we forced out demons and did many miracles.’ Then I will tell them clearly, ‘Get away from me, you who do evil. I never knew you.’” (‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:21-23‬ ‭NCV‬‬)

No, doing stuff for Christ won’t offset or make up for sin in my life. Yet, if I am genuinely obeying Him, I will seek to obey Him in all aspects of my life.

I will obey His Word to the extent I am conscious of everything He says. I will not lie, steal, or hate because I know it is wrong; I will seek to mirror God’s love to those around me and help those in need as I am able because I know He is love and as His follower I am to be like Him, and live in accordance with the dictates of His Word. And, I will also have a heart for missions, because He commanded it:

“All power in heaven and on earth is given to me. So go and make followers of all people in the world. Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything that I have taught you, and I will be with you always, even until the end of this age.” (Matthew‬ ‭28:18-20‬ ‭NCV‬‬)

Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew‬ ‭6:33‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

Our mission here is twofold: He wants us to be concerned (1) that we know Him (His righteousness in us; our sanctification), and (2) that others know Him (the furtherance of His kingdom). And, He wants us to be busy doing whatever it is that He has placed before us because, whether we are fifteen, twenty-five, fifty, or eighty, our “night” when our time of effective service for Christ’s kingdom–for the treasures that do not decay and cannot be stolen–is rapidly approaching.

We think we will be young forever–or at least we sometimes act as if we do. At twenty we imagine we have so many years before us; even at fifty we do not seem to quite recognize that those years have significantly diminished. Having had at least three elderly relatives develop dementia, I can attest to the fact that merely living doesn’t guarantee the mental faculties to be effective for Christ’s work. At a certain point, continuing to survive becomes challenging.

So, are you doing what God has laid on your heart for Him? Are you picking up the opportunity He has placed before you–whatever it might be–and getting to work for Him? Or have you buried what He has given you, refusing to be productive for His kingdom? Remember what the master told that servant?

“But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” (Matthew‬ ‭25:26-30‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

The night is indeed coming for each and every one of us when we will no longer be able to work; let’s do the good works NOW “which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”! (Ephesians‬ ‭2:10‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

Dear Lord God,

Help me accomplish what You want me to while I still can–while it is day–because the night is quickly approaching when I will no longer be able to! Amen.

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Romans 10:17

How do people become Christians–how does someone actually come to saving faith in Jesus? Is there a secret? And why is it that there are those who never commit to Christ, even though their loved ones hope for years?

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (‭‭Romans‬ ‭10:17‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

There are those who, for whatever reason, have concluded God can’t love or wouldn’t accept them, or they refuse to abandon an entrenched sin. But I suspect that the fact of the matter is that most have simply never heard enough of the message to understand that Jesus is for everyone and come to a saving faith in Him.

We frequently think: the gospel message is so simple, even a child can understand it–and that is true. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins and those who come humbly to Him acknowledging their inherited sin-nature and inability to be holy, God accepts, forgives, and conforms to the image of Christ. But many who aren’t Christian are no longer children–they are adults, and the adult mind needs to be fully convinced. We need to hear enough to truly get it that God is real, this message is real, and I should trust Jesus, commit my eternal destiny to Him and spend my life obeying Him. And the best “convincer” is the Word of God itself. Today’s verse is 100% correct: faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God–or to put it more simply, faith comes by exposing yourself to enough of God’s Word.

Yet the problem is that many people never give themselves the chance to hear enough of the Bible to be fully convinced. Remember the sad reality that “…the sinful nature is always hostile to God…” (‭Romans‬ ‭8:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬) The sin nature in us tries to avoid contact with God. Rather than running to Jesus, whom we so desperately need–we run away.

Think of any person you know who is still actively hostile to Jesus–I bet he or she won’t sit still long enough to read a chapter of the Bible, or listen to a sermon on the radio, or come to church so he can be taught. They desperately need to “…escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (II Timothy‬ ‭2:26‬ ‭NKJV‬‬), yet they want no part of it and avoid that which might convert them–exposing themselves to enough of God’s Word. So what’s the solution?

There is no easy solution: the fact of the matter is that conversion is something the Holy Spirit does in us, but He does it through the words of the Bible. Rather than do the instinctive thing and run away–which we all tend to do–we can give ourselves a chance. We can get together with people who love God. We can listen to Biblical teaching. Most importantly we can open the Bible ourselves and really read it to try to understand what God is saying to us.  And, we can pray for others to come to faith in Jesus. Because, after all, “…God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (‭‭John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

Dear Lord Jesus,

Bring me to saving faith! Bring others to saving faith! Amen.

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