Sunday, February 25, 2018

LOYALTY AND KINDNESS

 
Prov. 3:3-4  Never let loyalty and kindness get away from you!  Wear them like a necklace; write them deep within your heart.  Then you will find favor with God and people, and you will gain a good reputation.

       I have known those who are loyal and kind and those who aren’t.  Those who are loyal and kind hold a very special place in my heart.  I count it a privilege to know them and thank the Lord for bringing them into my life.  I have friends like that who are both Christian and non-Christian.  My life is very rich because of them.  When I speak of them, I have nothing but endearment in my heart for them and I want nothing but the best for them.  I want to treat them well because of my love for them.

       I want to be that kind of a person as well.  It is my prayer that others will know me to loyal and kind.  It is not something that comes naturally for most of us.  However, anyone can become that kind of a friend if they are willing to put forth the effort to do so.  It all begins in the heart; the more we live in relationship with Christ, the more natural and easy it becomes.

      Notice that it is possible to lose what we should have by nature.  Loyalty and kindness can go away from us if we are not careful to protect and keep them.  If we allow selfishness to rule our hearts, we will cease to be the kind of a person that others will cherish as a friend and that will please God.

        In order for our nature to change, we must be committed to the process of change.  We must deliberately seek to be loyal and kind.  It may not come easy at first, but the more we do it the easier it becomes.  It is within the character of every child of God; all we have to do is to let Christ rule the heart.  We must diligently seek Him and strive to please Him.  We must let the Lord transform us and wear the transformation like a necklace around our necks.  Godliness must become the norm and not the exception in our lives.

      He who is loyal and kind finds favor with both God and man.  If you are struggling in this area of your life, ask the Lord right now to change you.  You will be glad you did.

Friday, February 23, 2018

WHAT WISDOM IS

 
Prov. 1:7 Fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. Only fools despise wisdom and discipline.

       Wisdom is the right application of knowledge. Knowledge is more than remembering information; it is understanding what we remember. Knowledge is obtained by first learning to fear the Lord. If we do not respect who the Lord is, revere Him, or respond to Him as our God, we will never really know what the Lord wants us to know. Life changing knowledge is rooted in a personal relationship with Christ.

       Wisdom is understanding that we need to come underneath God’s discipline from time to time. It is not a pleasant experience, but necessary for our maturity in faith.

      Only fools despise wisdom and discipline. To despise is to hate. Fools hate to know what God demands of us. They hate to be told what to do. They hate to have to change their ways to conform to God’s ways. They hate anything to do with a God who takes a personal interest in our lives.

        Fools despise God’s loving care who sometimes has to take us to the woodshed because we do wrong. They want a God who loves us always and never interferes with us when we don’t return his love in obedience. Fools hate to bow before God. They want instead to live as if they themselves were God.

        May we be a people who fear the Lord. May we become a people who have great knowledge, who seek to know the ways of the Lord and live by them.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD!

 
Ps. 147:4-5  He counts the stars and calls them all by name.  How great is our LORD!  His power is absolute!  His understanding is beyond comprehension!

     When was the last time you really pondered over the greatness of God?  Have you considered the magnitude of the heavens?  On a clear night you can see more stars than you can count.  We are told that the nearest one to us is over two light years away and a light year is how far light travels in a year at 186,000 miles per second.  Some of the stars we see no longer exist.  They are so far away from us that we are still seeing their light as it travels across space.  We are told that there are billions of stars, and most are much larger than our own.  The Psalmist tells us that every one of those stars has a name and the Lord knows it.  He spoke them into existence and named them!  I sometimes have trouble remembering one name, let alone billions of them.  The Lord not only knows the name of every star, he knows the name of every soul.  How great is our God!

     Now, if God has the power to create such a thing as the heavens, don’t you think he has enough power to take care of you?  There is absolutely nothing that is beyond the Lord’s ability to handle.  There is nothing that can stand up to the power of God.  His power and authority are absolute.  We cannot grasp how it can be, but we know it is so.

     Who can fathom the mind of God?  Who can understand how God can be and how He can do what He has done?  Who can grasp God’s potential?  God’s greatness is beyond understanding.  We certainly cannot figure Him out.  All we can do is accept Him for who He is and submit to His power and authority over us.  Only a fool would dare to ignore the Lord our God! 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

STAYING CLOSE TO GOD

 
Ps. 145:18  The LORD is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him sincerely.

     You can never stay close to the Lord if you don’t call on Him.  Prayer is the only way you can get to the heart of God.  Like anyone whom you love, the Lord thrives on communication.  He wants to hear from you consistently and often.  There is no getting around it.  You must take the time and put forth the effort to pray.  And, you must pray sincerely.

     Prayer that does not flow from the heart is really not prayer at all.  It’s not the words we say that touches the heart of God; it’s the meaning behind the words that we speak that He hears.  The Lord hears what comes from the heart and not from the lips.  So, if you want to know the closeness of God you must learn to pray from your heart and not your mind.  You must learn to condition your heart to pray.  And the condition of your heart is determined by how well it is saturated by God’s Word.  The Scriptures and God’s Word are essential and inseparable for the heart that wants to draw near to the heart of God.

     Closeness to God is also gleaned from living by faith and not by sight.  It is daily letting faith determine how we live.  It is consistently striving to put into practice the Word.  It is understanding that what we believe doesn’t really matter if we don’t live it.  The more we live out our faith, the closer we are drawn to God.  He becomes more and more of a big deal to us.  He is not someone we can ignore.

     Take the Lord, His Word, and His presence seriously and He will always be near to your heart.  We must fight the tendency to take faith for granted and the blessings of life we enjoy daily.  We must discipline ourselves to be God-conscious.  We must do things to help ourselves to stay near to the heart of God. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

HELP FOR THE FALLEN

 

Ps. 145:14 The LORD helps the fallen and lifts up those bent beneath their loads.

     Maybe you have never fallen or have been bent by the load of life you are carrying. If that is you, then this may be one of those verses that doesn’t mean much to you. However, for the rest of us, we can identify with what it is like and find hope and encouragement from this verse.

     I have fallen many times in my walk with the Lord. I try not to sin, but I find myself doing it anyhow. I don’t want to sin, but it has a way of luring me in. It’s a battle that I will fight for the rest of my life. It’s not easy trying to live a pure life. Satan is an expert at exposing and exploiting our weaknesses. But, I have also found great joy in my struggles and failures, because, the Lord helps me. He doesn’t turn His back on me when I fall down. Instead, He takes my hand and gets me back on my feet. He dusts me off, lovingly embraces me, and helps me begin my walk again. My sin causes me to flee to Him and seek His forgiveness. And, He forgives me! He is always there for me to remind me of what I have done and to help me get stronger so that I don’t do it again. I find that I repeat my sin less and less as I let the Lord help me.

     I have often been bent over by the loads of life. The loads vary, but they are real. It is hard to walk with much consistency when you are weighed down. Progress, if any, is very slow. When I am underneath a load, I can think of very little else. I get weary and want to just not go on anymore. However, I have discovered that the Lord is always there to help me carry my load. He may or may not take it from me. When I am asked to carry it, He is there to lighten up the load for me. His presence reassures me and gives me hope. I know that the Lord will never let me fall down underneath the load so that I can’t get up. He gives me strength and power to keep on going. Each step I take I know that He is with me. I know that I can do all things when He is with me. There is wondrous joy for those who let the Lord help them carry their load.

     Always remember this wonderful truth. The LORD helps us when we fall and when we are bent down by the heavy burdens of life. He never lets us walk or carry our burdens alone. To God be the glory!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

NO SIN RECORD

 
Ps. 130:3-4 LORD, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O LORD, could ever survive? But you offer forgiveness that we might learn to fear you.

     If I had to single out which of God's blessings means the most to me, this would be right at the top of the list. I have sinned a lot in my lifetime. I have done and said things that I wish I could take back or forget. I still do things that are sin to God. If the Lord were to keep track of each one and record them to hold them against me, I would have zero chance of ever making it to heaven.

     But, instead of keeping a record of my wrong doings, the Lord forgives me. Not only does He forgive me, He wipes the slate clean with a permanent cleaning solution (His blood) so that they are remembered no more. Only the Lord is able to do that. We can forgive, but we can't forget everything. Forgiveness is the ultimate proof of love. We don't deserve to be forgiven. We don't deserve the opportunity to learn how to live in fellowship with God and to fear Him.

     When we are forgiven by the Lord, we must forgive ourselves. We can't undo what has been done and said. We accept God's forgiveness and make a covenant with Him that we will move forward in grace and not live in the past. We let go of the pain and sufferings we may have caused. We let go of the consequences of our sins. Where we can, we strive to right the wrong of what we have done, but where we can't, we let the blood of Christ set us free from the past.

     When we are forgiven by the Lord, we extend His forgiveness to others. They may not change their ways, but we can change ours. We can in Christ forgive and learn to love those who wrong us. In fact, we can't really love the Lord unless we do.

     When we are forgiven, we learn how to fear the Lord. We learn how to respect Him for who He is. We learn how to keep Him in our thoughts and let Him govern our lives. We learn how to pay attention to what He says and do it.

Thank you, Lord, for amazing grace.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

FEAR THE LORD

Ps. 128:1  How happy are those who fear the LORD--all who follow his ways!

     There is much resistance today about fearing the Lord.  The thinking is that because we live in grace, God is no longer to be feared.  The emphasis is on God's love and not His holy nature.  When we talk about Him being holy, we treat it lightly, as if it no longer needs to concern us.  We have mellowed God to the point where He is no longer perceived to be fearsome.  We hide in grace and don't talk much about God being holy and the judge of all sin.  Hell is seldom talked or preached about.  Preaching a soul to the altar no longer characterizes our preaching.  Condemnation for sin is not promoted much. 
     I wonder what we have lost as a result of our "new" approach to the Gospel.  Is the church as strong as it once was, a guiding voice in the local culture?  Has the fire gone out of our evangelism?  Are we as concerned for lost souls as we once were?  Does anyone really listen to us anymore?  Are we paying a price for removing the altar out of our churches?  Why is there an alarming shortage of pastors in the evangelical church?  Why is it that there are so many in the pulpits today preaching a different message than the Gospel?
     I believe there is a correlation between the condition of the church today and our sacrificing our fear of God.  Fearing God instills within a respect for God in His holiness.  It keeps us aware of our need for Him.  It motivates us to not take for granted God's grace.  It keeps us from removing God from off His throne.  It keeps us from adapting God to our likings.  It moves us to live holy lives before Him.
     Those who fear the Lord are happy because they are diligent about staying right with God.  Their relationship with God is the most important part of their lives.  They purposely and diligently seek Him.  Because God is the priority of life, they know the peace of God that comes from knowing all is well with their soul.  There is no greater joy in life than to follow the Lord in all His ways.