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God Is Speaking To You

God Is Speaking to You

Today’s Scripture: “I will listen to what God the LORD will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints— but let them not return to folly.”  Psalm 85:8

Our concept of God determines how we relate to Him. Those who see Him as distant and impersonal may be surprised to know He “speaks” personally to everyone—even to those who deny His existence. Since He wants us to know Him and have a personal relationship with Him, He continually seeks to communicate with us. But without hearing His voice audibly, many people are unaware of Him. Even Christians can develop insensitive spiritual ears.

For those who are willing to hear, God’s voice can be discerned through a variety of sources. The most obvious one is the Bible, but He can also call to us through the spoken or written words of other believers. He even speaks through circumstances and the wonders of His creation. I think we would all be amazed if we knew how many different ways our loving heavenly Father tries to get our attention.

He calls with a quiet voice that speaks into our hearts and minds. Although His words can be directed to a crowd, He has a specific, individualized message for each person. That’s why two people can hear the same sermon or read the same verses yet come away with two different applications of the message. God doesn’t dish out generalities; He communicates specific ideas meant just for you.

Busyness is a big hindrances to receptivity. When our lives are filled with the clamor of this world, God’s quiet voice can’t be heard. Set aside time today to listen for His call, consider what He’s saying through your circumstances, and respond in gratitude because He delights to speak with you.

 

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Our Daily Bread

Our Daily Bread

Today’s Scripture: “Give us each day our daily bread” Luke 11:3.

What is this daily bread Jesus spoke of, tucked inside the Lord’s Prayer? A loaf of warm Italian bread on my doorstep every morning? That would be nice.

Bread is a staple of every culture. From flat bread to yeast-filled loaves, grain has been mixed with water and oil and placed over a fire by every civilization. What’s the first thing a restaurant brings before the meal? Bread. (Okay, maybe Mexican restaurants don’t, but those chips are made from grain. They’re just fried in oil.)

But how about a slight change to the daily menu: “Give us this day our daily mocha chocolate chip ice cream” or “Give us this day our daily beluga whale caviar”?

Those are luxuries, not necessities. Sorry, God does not promise those.

Bread is a valued necessity, tasty and welcomed, but certainly not extravagant.

Jesus tells us to ask for the necessities in life, but does he promise to provide them?

Soon after this plea for daily bread, found also in Matthew 6, Jesus presents his famous “Don’t worry” passage: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25). God takes care of birds, flowers, and grass and provides the basics they need to exist (Matthew 6:26–30). Why not us? Aren’t we more important than a barn swallow, a multiflora petunia, and a blade of Bahia grass?

You bet a loaf of sweet sourdough we are.

In that statement comes a promise from God to provide his most important creation on earth with food, clothing, and drink (Matthew 6:25–34). The necessities once again.

Jesus tells us to ask, then promises to give us the basics we need to survive.

So don’t worry; be prayerful. God has something wonderful for us baking in the oven. Can you smell it?

 

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The Secret of Contentment

The Secret of Contentment

Today’s Scripture: “…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Philippians 4:11b (NIV)

Have you ever noticed how over-extending yourself tends to bring unwanted pressure into your life?

Sometimes I think we busy ourselves in order to gain more, find acceptance among peers, land a better position, and gain riches of all kinds. Perhaps we live under the illusion that having such riches is what makes a person complete, content, and deliriously happy. Yet, when we discover that’s not the case, we’re left feeling empty and discontent.

Contentment and security are not found in career titles or in the kind of car we own. The logo on our car only tells others what kind of car we drive — not who we are. True satisfaction, in its purest form, is found in the wealth of who God is and the riches He graciously lavishes upon us.

Recently God’s been showing me that when I constantly want more than He has given me, it reflects a heart that is discontent. It’s like I’m telling God, “I’m not satisfied with what You have provided for me. I want more.”

In wanting more, I place undo pressure on myself in an attempt to get what God hasn’t provided. Naturally, anxiety is the result when I focus on things other than God and His will for my life.

The pressure to have more and do more can lead us down paths we never intended. In our attempt to fill the vacuum of our empty souls, we discover that external luxury is only a cheap substitution for spiritual wholeness. As our key verse points out, Paul knew the secret of finding contentment. “…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”

Take note that Paul wrote these words in a high stress situation as he sat in jail awaiting a verdict for a crime he didn’t commit. I don’t know if I could find contentment if I were in his sandals. I would probably strum my wooden cage with a rock singing pitifully, “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody knows my sorrow.” Finding contentment doesn’t mean we have to like our current situation, but it may require an appreciation for it. Let me explain.

Paul learned that the fruit of contentment is developed when we are thankful for what God has provided whether we like it or not. That’s because peace isn’t the absence of pressure. It’s the presence of God and our attitude toward His provision in the midst of our stress. By expressing gratitude, Paul experienced richness of being, not having.

You may be in a hard place right now and you’re longing for freedom. Maybe you’re in a job that feels like a dead end; perhaps you have two of them! It may be that you live in a space too small for your family and you hate it. You’re not where you planned or hoped to be and you certainly don’t like it.

The truth is, we don’t have to like where we are or what we have, but if we will choose to thank God for His provisions regardless of our feelings toward them, we’ll experience the same contentment Paul encountered.

Being thankful doesn’t mean that God will eventually remove us from our situation. He may; He may not. Rather, being appreciative sets us free from the desire to have and lets us rest in the riches of contentment. And when we reach a place of contentment, we don’t need earthly riches galore.

God becomes our greatest treasure. In Him, we have everything we need.

 

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Feasting On The Word

Feasting on the Word

Today’s Scripture: “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” 1 Peter 2:2-3

Did you ever watch an infant take a feeding? Hungry little ones clutch the bottle, smack their lips, and make soft contented noises. They thoroughly enjoy their nourishment. But there comes a time when milk isn’t enough to satiate baby’s appetite anymore. That’s when a whole world of culinary possibilities opens up.

Comparing new believers to babies, Peter said that they “long for the pure milk of the word” (v. 2). You wouldn’t feed a newborn steak and spinach, would you? Well, baby Christians must sip scriptural truths that they understand. Then, like a growing child, they shoot up as they feast on Bible passages, gradually taking in more and meatier principles and topics.

Believers are not left alone to make sense of Scripture any more than babies and young children are expected to get their own meals. The Holy Spirit, who indwells God’s followers, illuminates the Word. That is, He makes the meaning clear to those who seek to understand. Moreover, according to Ephesians 4:11-16, God has given gifted Christians to the church to act as pastors and teachers. They are charged with equipping the saints for service (v. 12). These leaders instruct, clarify, and motivate people to grow in their personal faith and to fulfill the church’s purpose of reaching the lost.

God’s Word is a feast for our heart, mind, and spirit. This is one banquet table where there is no such thing as taking too much. In fact, the advice many parents give their children at the dinner table applies to the Christian life as well: “Eat up! Scriptural food makes you grow strong.”

 

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An Ever-Growing Circle of True Friends

An Ever-Growing Circle of True Friends

Today’s Scripture: “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” Acts 2:1.

Pentecost, it was the day when Heaven came to earth and accomplished two things which have redefined our world. First, there was fusion; and then there was empowerment. Let me backtrack for a minute to explain what I mean.

Back in the earliest days of civilized man’s heavenly aspirations, a knuckle head named Nimrod thought he would build a tower whose height reached into heaven itself. We know it as the Tower of Babel. We also know the legendary story of how God disrupted the building program by confusing the language of the people. Once communication breaks down, relationships are over, and all cooperative projects fall unfinished.

Babel – even today we use the word to describe a confusing sound of words or noises. In fact, the word confusion means to mix together things that do not belong together. In the case of Babylon, there was an arrogant man trying to become God’s equal – that is confusion.

On the other hand, fusion means to melt together, so as to merge. This is what occurred on the day of Pentecost when a mighty rushing wind rocked Jerusalem, and tongues of fire rested upon the waiting disciples. At that epic moment God fused together a community of spiritually gifted men and women to love and serve one another in the beauty of holiness. We call this emerging community, which now is global, the Church.

There is a beauty in community that the world longs to experience. When one is a part of an ever-growing circle of true friends, he or she will experience acceptance of who they really are, affirmation of what God has given them to do, and accountability that keeps them on the right path. But there’s more!

The Lord didn’t simply fuse us together with one another, He joined us inseparably to Himself as well! And in so doing unleashed the power of heaven into each one of our lives. And now, He wants to release that very power through our lives to a world still in need of a Savior’s redeeming love and grace.

After all, there’s no limit to the size of this ever-growing circle of true friends! John the Beloved said, “We want you to be with us in the wonderful friendship, and so we write and tell you about it. For the more that friendship extends, the greater the joy it brings to us who are already in it!” (1 John 1:4).

Are you in the circle? Are you also helping others to get in?

 

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God’s Even-Handed Goodness

God’s Even-Handed Goodness

Today’s Scripture: “Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.” “Is thine eye evil, because I am good?”—Matthew 20:7-15.

YES, GOD is good! Our eye may be evil; the thick atmosphere of this earth-sphere makes our vision oblique, but our warped judgment avails nothing against the verdict of the Universe. So good is God that He will give full wages to those who would have been glad to fill their lives with helpful service, if only they had had the opportunity. All day long they may have waited for their chance, but the sun slowly crept from horizon to horizon, and no opportunity was offered to them. Or, if finally their chance came, it lasted but for one brief hour! Nevertheless, their reward will be counted not only for the service of the hour, but for what they would have done if they had been called in the early dawn.

This is not after the manner of men, but it is God’s way of dealing with men. He gives of “His own” to those laborers who have been faithful to their opportunity, whether the hours were longer or shorter. “His own!” His own Love! His own Joy! His completed Satisfaction!

But all who are admitted to that inner circle must be prepared to drink of His cup, and to be baptized with His baptism (Matthew 20:23). Those who shall sit on the right and left of His throne in glory are the ones who have stooped lowest in bond-slave service. The followers of Jesus are not to be ministered to, but must be willing to follow their Lord even to the giving up of their lives. They must resemble their Master who, when He was on His way to redeem mankind, was willing to stand still and relieve the misery of two blind beggars (Matthew 20:34).

 

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A Compass for Life’s Journey

A Compass for Life’s Journey

Today’s Scripture: “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:1-6

If you’ve ever been lost in the woods, you know the concerns, confusion, and panic this situation causes. Now think what a difference it would have made to know that a compass was in your pocket.

Spiritually speaking, we have such a compass—God’s Word. But it does no good unless we let it guide us. Yet at times, we may fail to follow its direction because of . . .

Neglect. Sometimes we are so busy walking through life that we forget to look at God’s compass to make sure we’re headed in the right direction.

Pride. Oftentimes we want to determine the destiny ourselves. Relying on our own strength, understanding, and abilities, we plan our own route.

Distractions. God’s path of obedience isn’t always easy. In fact, sometimes it can be extremely challenging. Satan offers other trails that promise pleasure and ease if we will just ignore the compass and follow him. Although these trails seem pleasant at first, they lead to heartbreak and discouragement.

Difficulties. Whenever obstacles appear on the trail, our natural tendency is to try and find a way around them. But by ignoring God’s compass and stepping off the path, we’ll miss the blessings He wants to give us through the rough patches—strong faith and godly character.

Why should we wander when the Lord’s compass is available? Let Scripture be your guide on life’s journey. God promises to give you productive days and fruitful years if you follow His path. He’ll direct each step of your way, and His peace will sustain you, even during the difficult times.

 

 

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The Supreme Choice

The Supreme Choice

Today’s Scripture: “And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere.., as the garden of the Lord. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan… and they separated themselves the one from the other.”—Genesis 13:10-11.

THE SOUL that has taken God as its portion can afford to be generous!

As the older man, Abraham might well have claimed the priority of choice, leaving the rest to Lot; but he was quite content to waive his rights, since his Almighty Friend had fixed the place which he was destined to receive for his inheritance. Let Lot choose as he might, he could not obtain an inch of the land which God had included in His Divine purpose for His faithful and obedient servant. “Wait on the Lord, and keep His way, and He shall exalt thee to inherit the land.”

It was, therefore, in quiet confidence that the Patriarch stood beside his kinsman and watched him, as he lifted up his eyes to take and claim the fullest advantage of his uncle’s unexpected offer. When Lot chose for himself the Plain of Sodom, which was well watered everywhere and lovely as Paradise itself, Abraham acquiesced in the choice with unperturbed equanimity. Looking into the face of God, he said in effect: “Thou art the portion of mine inheritance; Thou maintainest my lot; the lines are fallen to me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.”

Then–the separation having taken place–God called His servant back to the hill-top, and gave him all the land in a covenant for ever, and bade him pass whither he wished over the soil, for it was all his own (Genesis 13:14-17).

Let God choose for you! Especially, at the beginning of life, as you stand on its threshold and view the land, dare to follow the promptings of ” His inner Voice. His Call still comes ringing down the ages: “Follow Me.” “Lo, I am with you all the days!”

 

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Praise, as We have Never Heard Before!

Praise, as We have Never Heard Before!

Today’s Scripture: “Then each one’s praise will come from God.” 1 Corinthians 4:5.

Everybody knows that the choir in Heaven is solid gold, and we know that the worship there is endless. But what most of us don’t realize is that our first days in glory are going to be filled with praise — praise, as we have never heard before.

It will not be the sound of our voices praising God. No. Rather, it will be the astounding sound of God—are you ready for this?—praising us!

You don’t believe me? Listen to what the Bible says: “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God” (I Corinthians 4:5, NKJV).

Only God really knows what is in a man’s heart; He alone sees and understands the deepest secrets, the fondest hopes, the truest motives — even when these are somewhat soiled by our own carnality. This is why we are expressly told to not judge one another. The truth is we do not know what is in another man’s heart; we only know what is in our own. Our judgment of another, then, is the trumpeting aloud of our own hidden faults.

When you and I stand before the Lord in Heaven, He is going to bring out into the open all the undeveloped gifts, abilities, treasures, dreams, possibilities, and show what He had in mind all along when He created us. He is going to show how these things stirred our deepest imaginations and filled us with holy desire to live for Him—even if we did not fully realize it all.

And then He is going to publicly render His opinion, His judgment, about these things and then — here it comes — give us praise! Imagine it; the Lord Himself praising you for the way you lived your life in honor of His name!

He has seen each deed — great or small — which we have done for His glory. And on that Day when we stand before Him in the assembly of the Ages, we will hear Him openly declare for all to hear the depth of His Own great admiration for even the simplest moments of our faithful service!

What a day that will be! A Day filled with Praise, as we have never heard before!

 

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Enter Into the Joy of Your Lord

Enter Into the Joy of Your Lord

Today’s Scripture: “Enter into the joy of your Lord.” Matthew 25:23.

And now we speak of things so sublime that they are far beyond the scope of man’s imagination. Indeed, we could never even conceive of such things as we are about to discuss. As it is written, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (I Corinthians 2:9).

Dream of heaven, O dreamer of dreams, and your dreams at best are altogether vanity—for God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we could ever even think or imagine.

How then do we know of these glorious things, seeing they are beyond our ability to know them? “God has revealed them to us by his Spirit,” the Bible says, “for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (I Corinthians 2:10, NKJV). The verse goes on to say that we have been given the Spirit of God “that we might know the things that are freely given to us by God” (I Corinthians 2:12).

Why is it important that we speak now of things that are yet so far away? Jesus regarded our future in heaven an important motivation for faithful service during this time of waiting for His return. That’s why He included it in the Parable of the Talents. And that’s why we ought to familiarize ourselves with what the Bible says on this subject.

We will discover that by living each day now with That Day fully in mind—our choices, our conduct, and our conversations will become much more intentional as it pertains to bringing honor to Jesus by faithfully obeying His word and doing His will.

What a day it will be when we see Jesus! One of my favorite Bible verses comes from the West New Testament. It sums up how we will feel when we stand before the Lord and see all He has done in His love for us: “And they were completely flabbergasted, and that in a super abundant degree, which itself was augmented by the addition of yet more astonishment, saying, ‘He has done all things well!’” (Mark 7:37)

And on That Day when we shall look upon Him, wouldn’t it be wonderful to hear the Lord say to each of us in return, “You, too, have done all things well! Now, enter into the joy of your Lord!”