Enduring Hardships With Patience

What modern believers can learn from the patience of biblical saints like Abraham, Joseph, David, and Paul is that waiting upon the Lord has eternal benefits.

Look at Israel’s most memorable monarch. David left behind an incredible testimony of God’s faithfulness for each of us to read and ponder. He was committed to waiting upon the Lord, and as a result, he had the Father’s approval and blessing. We cannot underestimate the reward of living in divine favor. That isn’t a special state reserved for the “giants of the faith” like David. All who obediently endure until the Lord acts on their behalf abide in His favor (Isa. 40:31).

David didn’t receive his blessings because he was special; he was honored among men because he honored the Lord above all. And since he trusted in God’s faithfulness, he endured hardship with patience. We, too, can expect to be blessed when we wait upon the Lord.

Good news. Great news!

Have you ever wondered what kind of a righteous judge or fair judge is God? He doesn’t just pass over rape, murder, lying or other sins committed by man. Righteous judges don’t do that.

In other words, we feel outrage when God seems to simply pass over others sin and it would be good outrage if God were simply sweeping their sin under the rug. He is not.

God sees from the time of David and other biblical figures down through the centuries to the death of his Son, Jesus Christ, who would die in David’s place and in the future our place. God did that so our faith in God’s mercy and God’s future redeeming work unites repentant sinners with Christ. And in God’s all-knowing mind, David’s sins and future generations sins are counted as Christ’s sins and Christ’s righteousness is counted as our righteousness, and God justly passes over our sin.

The death of the Son of God is outrageous enough, and the glory of God that it upholds is great enough, that God is vindicated us when He passed over our sins and others. And, God maintains his perfect righteousness and justice while at the same time showing mercy to those who have faith in Jesus, no matter how many or how monstrous our sins.

This is good news. This is great news!

3 Examples of Fighting Faith

When Paul says that God fulfills our good resolves by his power through our faith, he means that we defeat sin and we do righteousness by being satisfied with all that God promises to be for us in Christ in the next five minutes, five months, five decades, and into eternity.

Here are three examples of how this might look in your life:

  1. If you set your heart to give sacrificially and generously, the power of God to fulfill this resolve will come to you as you trust his future grace in the promise: “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). And the promise: “Whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6). And the promise: “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all-sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

  2. If you set your heart to renounce pornography, the power of God to fulfill this resolve will come to you as you trust his future grace in the promise: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). “It is better that you tear out your eye than that your whole body be thrown into hell” (Matthew 5:29). Much better. Wonderfully better. All-satisfyingly better.

  3. And If you set your heart to speak out for Christ when the opportunity comes, the power of God to fulfill this resolve will come to you as you trust his future grace in the promise: “Do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour” (Matthew 10:19).

May God increase our daily faith in his inexhaustible, blood-bought, Christ-exalting future grace.

A Time For Prayer

I would like to ask everyone reading my blog to pray today. Pray for the leaders of this great nation we live in. Also, pray for the leaders of other countries around the world.

As you might be aware our President has made comments to the leader of North Korea that could be taken as provocative and in some estimation challenging. North Korea has been flexing its muscle concerning the building and use of nuclear weapons on the United States. That scenario is too horrible to think about.

Nagasaki and Hiroshima Japan are two examples in recent history of the use of nuclear weapons and the mass destruction that resulted. Many people were killed or maimed and the property damage was staggering.

As some of our politicians have said, the best approach to dealing with North Korea is diplomacy. I think the best approach is prayer. Ask almighty God to give wisdom to all the leaders of the world in this great time of tension, stress and need.

The Believer’s Highest Honor

What’s the highest honor you’ve ever received? Good grades in school? A Blue Ribbon for the best pie at the county fair? Graduating at the top of your class? If you think about it, all these honors are about you and me. As believers in the Almighty God we know the top honor should always go to God and none other.

The Word of God describes believers, that’s us, as ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), soldiers (2 Tim. 2:3), and saints (Eph. 2:19) but, the highest honor we can receive is to be called servants of the Most High God. From the world’s perspective, those who die to self in order to follow the Lord may stand in last place—in reality, however, they are first in His kingdom. (See Matt. 20:16.)

Sadly, today service to God is often equated solely with what goes on at church. The preacher serves. The choir serves. The worker in the soup kitchen serves. But the guy pushing papers and the woman cleaning up others’ messes tend to be seen as simply doing their jobs. From the Father’s vantage point, though, work well done brings as much glory to His name as a song lifted in praise. (See Col. 3:23-24.) So take heart—if you’re doing quality work and striving to make an impact on those around you, then you are serving God.

Service to the Lord is not about what we do, but rather how well we do all that the Lord has given us to accomplish (1 Peter 4:10). A good servant shares both Jesus Christ’s attitude of humility and His motivation to reach people with the love of God.

Stunned By His Grace

I’ve never been surprised by God’s judgment—but I’m still stunned by his grace! David the psalmist becomes David the voyeur, but by God’s grace becomes David the psalmist again. Peter denied Christ before he preached Christ. Zaccaeus, the crook… the cleanest part of his life was the money he’d laundered, but Jesus still had time for him.  The thief on the cross…hell bent and hung-out-to die one minute, but heaven-bound and smiling the next.

Story after story. Surprise after surprise. It seems that God is looking more for ways to get us home than for ways to keep us out. I challenge you to find one soul who came to God seeking grace and did not find it. Search the pages. Read the stories. Find one person who came seeking a second chance and left with a stern lecture. I dare you! You won’t find it!

(reblog from Max Lucado’s Upwords | 8.9.2017)

Staying Connected To Jesus

In the biblical passage John 15:4-6, it urges us to stay connected to Jesus. The image of Him as the vine and believers as the branches helps us understand that apart from Him, we can do nothing. It is possible to receive His salvation yet still act out of the flesh, distracted or separated from His direction and power. All believers find their focus wandering at times, but some have strayed so far that it’s hard to see their way back.

If you discover your heart is loyal to something besides Christ, it’s vital to acknowledge that this has happened. Identify which attitudes or activities are drawing you away from Him. Then repent and get whatever help is necessary to set aside diversions, insecurity, worldly desires, or anything else that draws your attention away from the Lord.

Once the distraction is gone, refocus on Jesus by reading the Word, praying, learning from biblical messages, and spending time with godly friends who will encourage you. After living outside of God’s best for a while, it can be hard to discipline yourself to function as the Lord desires. But remember that those who abide in God will bear much fruit (John 15:5).

Don’t delay. As Hebrews 12:1 urges, “lay aside every encumbrance” so you can run with endurance the race set before you. Acknowledge anything that is keeping you from living passionately and fully for Jesus Christ. Following His plan—in His strength—is the way to peace, joy, and contentment in life. Ask for His help and commit to action. There is nothing like living fully for God.