Determining Your Destiny Through Self-Discipline

The apostle Paul compares our life to a race and points out that self-discipline—or the lack of it—determines the outcome. What he’s speaking about is not simply our place in heaven, which is secured by our faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. He also has in mind our obedience and service for the Lord here on earth.

In order to fulfill the Father’s purposes for our life, we need to “exercise self-control in all things” (1 Corinthians 9:25). Though we long to obey the Lord, we have flesh tendencies, which are bent toward sin. Therefore, we need to control our sinful thoughts, impulses, and actions by making our body our slave instead of letting fleshly desires rule us (1 Corinthians 9:27).

Paul says to live with a goal in mind rather than float aimlessly through life (1 Corinthians 9:26). God has prepared good works for us to accomplish during our lifetime (Eph. 2:10). As we live in obedience to the Lord, He guides our path and empowers us through the Holy Spirit to accomplish His will.

Next, we must work toward God’s goal for us. Wishing and hoping never accomplish anything if there is no action. And effort that’s not directed at the right goal is like “beating the air” (1 Cor. 9:26). We may be working hard for our own purposes, but if they’re not God’s goals, it’s all wasted effort.

Paul tells us to run to win (1 Corinthians 9:24), but what is the prize? As we fulfill God’s purpose, He does His sanctifying work in us and accomplishes His will through us. Then one day, when we finish our course and stand before Christ in heaven, we’ll receive eternal rewards that never perish.

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What It Means to Love God

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. (Psalm 63:1–2)

Only God will satisfy a heart like David’s. And David was a man after God’s own heart. That’s the way we were created to be.

This is the essence of what it means to love God — to be satisfied in him. In him!

Loving God will include all his commands; it will include all his word; it will include thanking him for all his gifts; but the essence of loving God is enjoying all he is. And it is this enjoyment of God that glorifies his worth most fully.

We all know this intuitively as well as from Scripture. Do we feel most honored by the love of those who serve us from the constraints of duty, or from the delights of fellowship?

My wife is most honored when I say, “It makes me happy to spend time with you.” My happiness is the echo of her excellence. And so it is with God. He is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

None of us has arrived at perfect satisfaction in God. I grieve often over the murmuring of my heart at the loss of worldly comforts. But I have tasted that the Lord is good. By God’s grace I now know the fountain of everlasting joy.

And so I love to spend my days luring people into joy until they say with me, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4).

(reblog | Daily Devotional | John Piper Ministries)

The Supremacy of the Son of God

As I was reading my bible this morning I came across the following verses in Colossians, Chapter 1. These verses are very explicit in explaining who Jesus Christ was, is and will forever be. These verses leave no doubt in my mind who Jesus is and what He has done for me. If you ever have doubts about Jesus, your relationship with Him or any other concerns, read these verses prayerfully and you will understand what He has done for you.

And it’s important that you continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way.

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Empowered By God Himself

God the Spirit is important to us in our daily lives. He is so important that Jesus said, “It is to your advantage that I go away … if I go, I will send Him to you”. He’s the Spirit of truth who interprets God’s Word for us, and helps us remember and apply it to our life. He’s also our encourager, and He empowers us to obey.

The Holy Spirit doesn’t bring attention to Himself but always seeks to glorify Jesus. He guides us, challenges us, and transforms us. Allow the Holy Spirit to transform your life. Then, all of your challenges, problems and rough times will seem insignificant because you have been empowered by God Himself living within you.

Facing Your Giants

As you start your week you may already be looking toward Friday and realize you have some major challenges waiting for you along the way. You might think to yourself, “How will I ever get through all this?” It’s important to realize that the Lord is sovereign over everything in heaven and on earth, and He has the power to give us the victory no matter what challenge we face.

Trusting in the Lord gives us the courage to face our giants. Being so armed, we can respond to challenges on the basis of three important truths:

Who Christ is in us—our Savior and Provider.
• Who we are in Christ—God’s adopted children, eternally secure and indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
• What we have in Christ—the promise of access to almighty God.

Instead of fixing our attention on how big the obstacle is, let’s begin focusing on the greatness of our God. If we’ll trust and obey Him, His Spirit will equip us for the challenge, and our faith will glorify Him.

The Books at the Judgment

All who dwell on earth will worship [the beast], everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. (Revelation 13:8)

Salvation is secured for all who are written in the book of life.

The reason that being written in the book of life secures our salvation is that the book is called “the book of life of the Lamb who was slain” (Revelation 13:8). The names in this book are not saved on the basis of their deeds. They are saved on the basis of Christ’s being slain.

So how then does the record of our lives contained in “the books” have a part in our judgment? The answer is that the books contain enough evidence of our belonging to Christ that they function as a public confirmation of our faith and our union with him.

Consider Revelation 21:27: “Nothing unclean will ever enter [the New Jerusalem], nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Here the result of “being written in the book of life” is not only not perishing, but not practicing detestable, sinful behaviors.

For example, consider the thief on the cross. Jesus said that he would enter paradise (Luke 23:43). But what will judgment be like for him when the books are opened? More than 99.9% of his life will be sin. His salvation will be secured by the blood of Christ.

Then God will open the books and will use the record of sin to glorify his Son’s supreme sacrifice, and he uses the last page to show the change that was wrought in the thief’s attitudes and words. That last page — the last hours on the cross — will be the public confirmation of the thief’s faith and union with Christ.

Therefore, when I say that what is written in the books is a public confirmation of our faith and of union with Christ, I do not mean that the record will contain more good works than bad works.

I mean that there will be recorded there the kind of change that shows the reality of faith — the reality of regeneration and union with Christ. That is how I enter the day, confident that my condemnation is past (Romans 8:3), and that my name is in the book of life, and that the one who began a good work in me will bring it to completion at the day of Christ.

Our God Reigns Over Everything

Our Lord has complete control in all the universe—He reigns over everything and everyone, and His power is greater than all other strength. The terms omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient are frequently used to describe Him. Our God is all-powerful, He exists everywhere, and He is all-knowing—which means there is nothing beyond His awareness or His ability to direct and manage.

And this limitless, unfathomable God, who is unhindered and fully in control, adopts us as His children. What an amazing thought! As we begin to grasp this truth, peace and rest will flood our soul as we anxiously await our risen savior, Jesus Christ. Glory to God in the highest.

The Struggle With Temptation

If there’s one thing every man, woman, and child has experienced, it’s temptation. We have all seen something new, attractive, or unusual and thought, I must have it. What is “it” for you? The object of temptation can be almost anything—perhaps something material like a nice house or new car, or maybe a physical sensation from food, alcohol, or drugs. Another possibility is an emotional temptation that comes with the anticipation of a new relationship or recognition for a job well done.

Temptation is an enticement to follow our desires beyond the boundaries God has set.

Whatever the object, temptation demands that we must have it—now! We don’t stop to consider whether it is good for us, beneficial to our family, or harmful to someone we love. Caution and loyalty are thrown to the wind when temptation gets a grip on us. It can bring absolute destruction into our life if it’s left uncontrolled.

Simply put, temptation is an enticement to follow our desires beyond the boundaries God has set. For example, the Lord has given mankind a precious gift in human sexuality, and this God-given desire is often taken outside of the context for which the Creator originally designed it. Sexual desire is inherently good, but when left unchecked, it compromises our judgment and leads to trouble and pain.

Are you allowing a single desire to control your life? Are you continually going beyond the limits of what you know God approves? Then it’s time to break the hold of temptation by turning back to God in repentance, submitting to His rule over your desires, and relying on His power to overcome.

When Things Don’t Fit

Have you ever seen a father’s reaction when he discovers three words on the box of a just-bought toy: Some assembly required? What follows are hours of squeezing tab A into slot B, bolting D into F, and then hoping no one notices that steps four, five, and six were skipped altogether. I’m convinced the devil indwells the details of toy assembly. Somewhere in perdition is a warehouse of stolen toy parts.

Some assembly required.” Not the most welcome sentence but an honest one. Life is a gift, albeit unassembled. The pieces of our lives don’t fit. When they don’t, take your problem to Jesus. He says, Bring your problems to Me!  In prayer, state them simply. Present them faithfully, and trust Him reverently!

Remember—we’re still a work in progress. God’s not finished with us yet.

Spending Time In The Valley

Walking through or being in the valley can be tough. The valley is described or referred to in the Bible as a low point or challenging time in a person’s life. What do you do when you find yourself in these circumstances? Do you resort to anger, drugs, bewilderment or any other substitutionary action that reflects your feelings about your situation? If you’re like most, you probably go through a personal inventory of your actions trying to discover, “what or where did I do wrong?”

There is no need for self-persecution and self-examination. Experiencing valley time is all part of God’s plan for you and me. Some would say they don’t want or need this time. I would agree in part but I also understand what God is doing in my life and yours.

There is a key word to think of when you find yourself in the valley. That word can be found in the 23rd Psalm. It reads in part, “….yea though I walk through the valley….”. Did you see the word? It is the word “through”. God does not intend for us to stay in the darkness of the valley. His purpose is to help us discover Him by increasing our faith and depending on Him to lead us out of our situation.

If you can find it within yourself to praise God during this time you will have the victory. Satan on the other hand will be there every step of the way trying to convince you that your problems are bigger than what God can handle. That is a lie straight from the pits of hell. Do not listen to the lies.

A key verse to remember the next time you find yourself stuck in the valley—“Greater is He that is within me than he that is in the world.”(1 John 4:4)