Temptation Leads to Blessing!

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” James 1.12

When I read this opening phrase, I am encouraged to know there is a close link between blessing and temptation. Every person reading this has experienced temptation. James tells us to (1) expect temptation and (2) endure temptation. We find these words in James 1.2-3: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” So what do we learn from these verses? We learn that there will be temptations and there will be many of them. We must not be SURPRISED when temptation comes. We must be able to recognize it and ask God for grace to endure it so we can be an overcomer and not a victim. That is when the blessing comes.

Here is further encouragement to endure temptation: “for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life … ” Notice that it is not “if” he is tried, but “when’ he is tried. When temptations come, keep the end in view … “he shall receive the crown of life … ” God’s reward for those who endure temptation is the crown of life. Think of it, God is going to give us this crown because we were overcomers and not victims. Far too many times believers get weary of the battle with temptation and throw up their hands and say, “What’s the use? I can’t seem to win this battle over this temptation.” “What’s the use?” you ask? The crown of life is the answer to “What’s the use?”.

Here is another wonderful word of encouragement: “which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” This crown of life is God’s PROMISE to us, and God always keep His promises. So today, when temptation comes, remember that you are blessed when you endure, and remember the promise of the crown of life. Just my thoughts …

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THE Light Is Necessary!

That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” John 1.9 – 12

We read these words in John 3.19-20: “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” So when John says, “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world … ”, immediately we realize that there are two categories of people in this world: (1) those who walk in darkness and want to stay there, and (2) those who have chosen to walk in the light because Christ is the Light of the world.

What a paradoxical statement: “10He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.” As we draw near to the Christmas season, we will begin to hear Christmas carols. One of them says, “No room, only a stable of hay … ” This world system has never had room for God’s Son. But one day that will change. Romans 14.11 tells us: “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

I love this next phrase: “12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” All the work of salvation has already been done. The only thing required of us is that we BELIEVE that what God has done through his son Jesus Christ is enough to save us for all eternity. Just my thoughts …

How Are You Walking Today?

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2.10

Has Satan ever pulled this number on you? “You aren’t worth anything to God. Why would He choose to love you? Just take a look at your PAST. You think God can forgive that?” Sad to say, not only does he try that, but he tries it over and over in order to beat us down.

But look at Paul’s words here: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works … ” WE (you and I) are His workmanship. The work that Christ did on the cross allows God to help us with this “good works” thing. You want to take a look at someone’s past and ask “Can God forgive that?” The apostle Paul had been guilty of persecuting believers and even consenting to their death. Yes, God did forgive that because Christ paid for it.

Usually we connect this verse to the two verse preceding it: “For by GRACE are ye saved through faith; and that not of YOURSELVES: it is the GIFT of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Friend, everything we have is given to us by God’s grace … even the faith to believe is God’s gift to us.

This last phrase is a great word of encouragement: “which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” What is it that God ordained before time began? He ordained that all those who trust Him and believe in His Son Jesus for salvation should be a walking example to the world because of our good works – works that only God could do THROUGH us. So what is our responsibility in all this? We are to yield to God’s Holy Spirit so that He CAN work in us and through us and manifest these good works of which Paul speaks. Just my thoughts …

 

 

A Life Like No Other!

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” John 10.10 – 11

Abundant life – what is that? What does it look like? I can tell you what it is NOT? It is not a life of continual complaining, continual blaming someone else for my problems, continual whining because life has dealt me a terrible blow. It is not living life like I am a victim instead of an overcomer. If that sounds a little strong, then lets think for a bit about what Jesus said.

The abundant life is a life that looks at the beginning of each day and says to God, “Lord, today you and I make a majority. I can handle it because you have prepared it.” Sound too simple? Not at all. It is a matter of knowing who is in control. When I am willing to release my day, my hour, my minute to God for Him to control, then I can embrace and enjoy the abundant life. The abundant life does not mean that I am happy all the time, because happiness depends on what happens. But I can still have a joy-filled life in the midst of my greatest storm – because I have transferred control of my life to God.

Transfer of control is not a one-time deal. It is something that I need to do every day. Perhaps more than once a day, depending on whether or not I insist on taking back control because I think I can handle it better than God can.

When we look at verse 11, we quickly discover a valid reason for embracing this abundant life. In stark contrast to the thief who comes (1) to steal, (2) to kill, and (3) to destroy, our Shepherd sealed everything for me when he gave His life for me. As one of His sheep, I know His purpose for me, and that is for me to embrace the abundant life, and when I do that, my life will bring honor and glory to God. Just my thoughts …

A Pretty Good Exchange!

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5.21

When you received Christ as your personal savior, did you ever wonder what happened to your sin? Most of us have heard enough preaching to know the answer to that question. But let’s look closely today at what Paul is telling the Corinthians and us in the verse above. He (God) has made him (Christ His Son) who knew no sin, to be made sin FOR us (in our place); and why? He did it so that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (Christ).

It will be worthwhile for us to grasp the significance of this truth – Christ being made sin for us. When Christ was born, in that Bethlehem manger, He was born to Mary and Joseph as far as the legal heritage was concerned. But Joseph was NOT the real father for we read in Luke 1.34-35: “Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Mary knew that this child she carried was the Son of God, not the son of Joseph.

This holy child lived a perfect life, went to the cross, and became the only sacrifice that God the Father would accept. While He was on that cross, He took upon Himself the sins of the world: “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, byt also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2.2) He took our sin so that when we received His payment for our sin, we could take His righteousness. Remember Paul’s words: “that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” I am so thankful for this divine transaction that made salvation available to me. I think you are too. Just my thoughts …

 

We ARE Blessed Indeed!

Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 7Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” Romans 4.6-8

I encourage you to read the verses preceding this for context. Paul’s words here bring great comfort to every believer who will read them and believe them. Consider this: “the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.” How many people do we know who still believe they need to do some kind of “works” in order to get to heaven? David, back in Old Testament times said that the man is blessed to whom God imputes righteousness WITHOUT works. The work that Christ did on Calvary is what God imputes or puts on our account.

David continues: “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” Forgiveness of sin is only possible when a perfect sacrifice has been offered. That was Christ. Sins can only be covered when the blood of that perfect sacrifice is applied to the mercy seat and God says, “That’s enough!” Christ’s blood has covered ALL my sin and ALL your sin … because we have received Him as personal savior.

Finally, verse 8: “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” Again, why would God NOT impute MY sin to my account? The blessed truth is that Christ did everything that His Father required to pay for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2.2). HIS payment for MY sin allows me to be a blessed man –why? Because God the Father imputed my sin to Christ and Christ did all that the Father demanded for sin to be covered. God the Father forgave me because His Son PAID for my sins. I am BLESSED indeed! And so are you! Just my thoughts …

Fear? No! Power? Yes!

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1.7

When we are fearful, there is one thing we must recognize – that fear did not come from our Heavenly Father: “God hath not given us the spirit of fear … ” One of Satan’s tactics is to bring you and me into a place of uncertainty that produces a fear of the unknown. The Bible says: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” John tells us here that while we are in a state of fear, our love cannot grow or mature. We are in a stagnant cycle in our walk with God.

So if God did NOT give us fear, what, then, did He give us? He gave us power. What kind of power and from whence does it come? It is the power of an overcomer, one who has discovered that fear and faith are polar opposites and I able to move forward because my faith has replaced my fear. This power is a gift from God’s Holy Spirit. The truth here is not that the Spirit dwells within us, but that He lives within us to give us the power of God to overcome fear.

The next thing God gives us in place of fear is love. What is the connection between fear and love? Fear is from our enemy and love is from our Heavenly Father. That seems somewhat simplistic, but wouldn’t you rather spend your day filled with the love of God flowing through you rather that move in a spirit of fear? I certainly would.

Finally, God gives us the spirit of a … sound mind. A sound mind enables us to make good decisions. It enables us to be in control of that part of our lives God gives us to oversee. Your sound mind enables you to discern the plan of God, own the plan of God, and begin to pursue the plan of God. Looks to me like a pretty good plan is in place for us if we will but accept God’s gifts of power, of love, and of a sound mind. Just my thoughts …

God’s Exclusive Gift to Us!

But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. 12For thou, Lord wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.” Psalm 5.11-12

No other book speaks to the heart and life of the believer with the same power that the Bible does. When the psalmist writes: “… let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice … ” he is saying to us, “What ever else you are doing with your life, don’t forget to REJOICE.” I think we all know the difference between joy and happiness. Far too much of our time is spent chasing “happiness” when we should be reveling in the “joy” that only God can give.

“ … let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them … ” Why must our joy be a never ending thing? Because our God defends us – in everything, in every situation, anytime the need to be defended arises, let’s revel in God’s joy and let Him fight the battle. Here is another reason for joy: “let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.” It seems relatively easy to say, “I love the Lord … “ but unless we are willing to go beyond the verbal declaration to a demonstration of that love in our lives, we are nothing more than a “sounding brass or a tinkling symbol.” (1 Corinthians 13.1)

V. 12 speaks great encouragement for each one of us: “12For thou, Lord wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.” What does it mean, “thou, Lord wilt bless the righteous … ” It DOES NOT say that God will bless the perfect one who follow Christ. That person doesn’t exist. But when we make the choice to live a righteous life (a life filled with doing what is right), God says, “I will bless you.”

This last verse is meant to lift our spirits: “ … with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.” Compass us as with a shield … a shield is a weapon of defense. It keeps the enemy’s arrows, and whatever his other weapons of attack are, from reaching their destination and wounding the child of God. Please weigh these words and see what God wants you to hear and live accordingly. Just my thoughts …

Do I Know Whose I Am?

By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour and life.” Proverbs 22.4

When I was in Bible College, we used to jokingly say to our friends, “Have you read my new book, Humility and How I Obtained It?” We were joking about something about which we knew very little. Humility is not something about which any Christian should make jokes. As the verse above states, it is a significant part of a life of intentional service for Christ.

So what is humility? May I suggest that humility is realizing who I am and in Whose sight I am living? How can any child of God view himself in any other way than humble when he realizes that the Creator God of heaven and earth made the choice to redeem him through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ? How does that make one rich, as the verse states? We are rich through our RELATIONSHIP with God through Christ. We are rich in the promise we cling to of an eternal RESIDENCE in heaven. We are rich in the REALIZATION that the immutable God who saved us will keep us without fail. The list is almost limitless.

The PROMISE FOUND in these words should lift one’s spirit today. “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.” When I see God for who He really is (the fear of the Lord), I am promised (1) riches, and (2) honour and (3) life. Another translation reads like this: “The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.” We are honored by God if we never find honor among men. It does not matter how this world sees us as long as we are walking in humility before God and we fear Him in the true sense of that word.

This word life can hold so many thoughts. But I want to focus our attention on the promise of everlasting life. What greater honor can God bestow upon His children that giving them the PROMISE and POSSESSION of everlasting? I can think of nothing greater. Just my thoughts …

How Much Is “So”?

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” 1 John 3.16

I am constantly amazed at the way people who are professing believers characterize God. Instead of viewing Him as a loving Heavenly Father, they characterize Him as some despot in some far off place who is waiting to zap one of His children if they step out of line. That may seem a little harsh to some, but over the years I have heard that concept suggested more than once.

So, what is John telling us here in this verse? He is telling us how we RECOGNIZE the love of God. “He laid down his life for us … ” If there were ever a question about HOW MUCH God loves us, that question was answered at Calvary. A kindred verse with this one is John 3.16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Some times we quote that verse from memory with little thought for what we have just said. What more could God the Father do to demonstrate His love for us? He only had ONE son and He sent him to DIE for my sin and your sin. The question that we as God’s children must never ask is this, “I wonder how much God loves me?” His love cannot be measured.

A little boy was playing while his father was reading the paper. He went over to where his dad was sitting and tugged on the paper and said, “Daddy, I love you a hundred dollar’s worth.” That was the largest amount of money he could imagine. He went back to playing. In a little bit, he went back over to his dad again, tugged on the paper again, and said, “Daddy I love you a hundred miles worth.” That was the greatest measure he could think of. After playing a few minutes more, he went back to his dad one more time, tugging on the paper. This time he said, “Daddy, I love you SO much.” That could not be measured. Then he was happy and went on playing.

God SO loved the world … you and me … and that love cannot be measured. Just my thoughts…