It is easy for Christians to have the false impression that once we have established a relationship with Christ, which we believe sets us right with God, the problems of life will somehow scoot away or they will slowly be removed from our lives.
We can't solve modern problems by going back in time. Retreating to the safety of the familiar is an understandable response, but God has called us to a life of faith. And faith requires us to face the unknown while trusting Him completely.
When you have a sense of calling, whether it's to be a musician, soloist, artist, in one of the technical fields, or a plumber, there is something deep and enriching when you realize it isn't just a casual choice, it's a divine calling. It's not limited to vocational Christian service by any means.
You and I are, by birth, by nature, and by choice, inwardly depraved, which is to say that we are entirely corrupt. That's not to say that we have no good in us; we do. However, anything good in us has been tainted with evil. It touches everything. Without the redeeming power of Christ we cannot halt our own moral slide.
As far back as I can remember, my mother would have me down by the bed at night with her, praying. I can still hear her voice calling my name to God and telling him that she wanted me to follow him in whatever he called me to do.
Because God gave you your makeup and superintended every moment of your past, including all the hardship, pain, and struggles, He wants to use your words in a unique manner. No one else can speak through your vocal cords, and, equally important, no one else has your story.
One of my great goals in life is to live long enough to where I am in the pulpit, preaching my heart out, and I die on the spot, my chin hits the pulpit - boom! - and I'm down and out. What a way to die!
Sometimes I wake up before dawn, and I love sitting up in the middle of the bed with all the lights off, pitch-black dark, and talking to the Father, with no interruptions and nothing that reminds me that there's anything in life but me and Him.
Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitudes toward life. The longer I live the more convinced I become that life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it.
We cannot change our past. We can not change the fact that people act in a certain way. We can not change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.
Nothing is more bothersome to me than retiring. Weird things happen when you disengage; first you get negative, then you start telling people about your latest surgeries, and eventually you lose touch. I want to stay in touch.
We really shouldn't look like a church.' I've heard that so much I want to vomit. 'Why?' I ask. 'Do you want your bank to look like a bank? Do you want your doctor's office to look like a doctor's office, or would you prefer your doctor to dress like a clown?'
Israel's first king, Saul, looked like he was born for the role. He was tall, handsome, intelligent, and sensitive to God's leading. But he eventually lost most of his attractive qualities, the most important being obedience.
Envy is one of the great enemies of active spirituality. It keeps us from loving our neighbours, from functioning with others in community, and from affirming people's unique worth. It also steals contentment from the heart. Is there anything or anyone you are envious of?
God never asked us to meet life's pressures and demands on our own terms or by relying upon our own strength. Nor did He demands that we win His favor by assembling an impressive portfolio of good deeds. Instead, He invites us to enter His rest.
Fortunately, God made all varieties of people with a wide variety of interests and abilities. He has called people of every race and color who have been hurt by life in every manner imaginable. Even the scars of past abuse and injury can be the means of bringing healing to another. What wonderful opportunities to make disciples!
So, you want to be like Christ? Me too. But that kind of godliness won't just happen by hanging around a church or thinking lofty thoughts three or four times a day or learning a few verses of Scripture. It will take more - much more. Disciplining ourselves will require the same kind of focused thinking and living that our Master modeled during His brief life on earth.
If our perfect Lord is gracious enough to take our worst, and ugliest, our most boring, our least successful, and forgive them, burying them in the depths of the sea, then it's high time we give each other a break.
Wisdom is looking at life from God's point of view. You look at life's difficulties and tests as God looks at them. You look at family life and child rearing as God looks at them. You interpret current events as God would interpret them. You see the truth even though all around you are deception and lies.
That's what this thing called Christian life is all about, isn't it. Going . . . yet not knowing. As followers of our Lord we believe He leads us in a certain direction . . . or in pursuit of a precise goal.
The secret to responsible trust is acceptance. Acceptance is taking from God's hand absolutely anything He gives, looking into His face in trust and thanksgiving, knowing that the confinement of the hedge we're in is good and for His glory. Even though what we're enduring may be painful, it's good simply because God Himself has allowed it.
Someone has said,"Education is going from an unconscious to conscious awareness of one's ignorance."..No one has a corner on wisdom. All the name-dropping in the world does not heighten the significance of our character. If anything, it reduces it. Our acute need is to cultivate a willingness to learn and to remain teachable.
Many seducers clutter the simple message of the gospel with legalistic additions, with convoluted attempts to legitimize moral compromise, and with psychological theories that turn churches into relational support groups instead of houses of worship.
Attitude keeps me going or cripples my progress. It alone fuels my fire or assaults my hopes. When my attitudes are right, there is no barrier too high, no valley too deep, no dream too extreme, no challenge too great for me.
A story without context is like a diamond without a mounting. The stone may be beautiful lying loose on a table, but when it is carefully mounted in the right setting it can dazzle you with its brilliance and sparkling beauty.
Honesty has a beautiful and refreshing simplicity about it. No ulterior motives. No hidden meanings. An absence of hypocrisy, duplicity, political games, and verbal superficiality. As honesty and real integrity characterize our lives, there will be no need to manipulate others.
Encouragement is awesome. Think about it. It has the capacity to lift a man's or a woman's shoulders. To breathe fresh air into the fading embers of a smoldering dream. To actually change the course of another human being's day, week, or life.
Dream big . . . don't let anybody or anything break your wishbone. Stay strong, full of faith, and courageous... keep that backbone straight. And along the way, don't forget to laugh and enjoy the journey.
Your call will become clear as as your mind is transformed by the reading of Scripture and the internal work of God's Spirit. The Lord never hides His will from us. In time, as you obey the call first to follow, your destiny will unfold before you. The difficulty will lie in keeping other concerns from diverting your attention.
When you accept the fact that sometimes seasons are dry and times are hard and that God is in control of both, you will discover a sense of divine refuge, because the hope then is in God and not in yourself.
In place of our exhaustion and spiritual fatigue, God will give us rest. All He asks is that we come to Him...that we spend a while thinking about Him, meditating on Him, talking to Him, listening in silence, occupying ourselves with Him - totally and thoroughly lost in the hiding place of His presence.
Courage is not limited to the battlefield or the Indianapolis 500 or bravely catching a thief in your house. The real tests of courage are much quieter. They are the inner tests, like remaining faithful when nobody's looking, like enduring pain when the room is empty, like standing alone when you're misunderstood.
The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is ten percent what happens to me and ninety percent of how I react to it. And so it is with you. we are in charge of our attitudes.
There is an enormous difference between growing old in the Lord and growing up in Him. One is automatic and requires no effort at all ... just aging. But the other is never automatic, or easy. It calls for personal discipline, continual determination, and spiritual desire. Churches are full of sleepy saints who are merely 'logging time' in God's family.
I am convinced that wise planning is good. But plans, like material possessions, must always be held loosely. Yes - always! Plan wisely, but be ready for God to rearrange things and take you along paths that may feel dangerous to you. Don't sweat it; He knows what He's doing. And He isn't obligated to inform you ... or request permission to upset your neat little agenda!
Anxious. Intriguing word. It literally means, "to be divided" or "distracted." It conveys the idea of being so mentally ill at ease that you cannot do what you need to do because you are so distracted in your thinking.
I believe the single most significant decision I can make on a day-to-day basis is my choice of attitude. It is more important than my past, my education, my bankroll, my successes or failures, fame or pain, what other people think of me or say about me, my circumstances, or my position.
Focusing intently on Christ naturally results in a lifestyle of increasingly greater selflessness. And it has another benefit. Gazing on Christ gives us greater ability to look past life's trials and remain calm in the midst of what others would call chaos.
We continually encounter hardships. People disappoint us. We disappoint ourselves. But God is constant and compassionate. We are not alone. He cares. Against all reason, the transcendent God loves us so much that He has committed Himself to us.
The Promised Land was a tangible representation of God's ultimate desire for His people, but they failed to comprehend His gift for at least three reasons: It was unconditionally promised, it was outrageously generous, and it was absolutely free. None of those make sense in the world as we know it...
People who soar are those who refuse to sit back, sigh and wish things would change. They neither complain of their lot nor passively dream of some distant ship coming in. Rather, they visualize in their minds that they are not quitters; they will not allow life's circumstances to push them down and hold them under.
Prayer is an investment. The time you dedicate to prayer isn't lost; it will return dividends far greater than what a few moments spent on a task ever could. If we fail to cultivate this discipline, prayer winds up being our last resort rather than our first response.
Don't expect wisdom to come into your life like great chunks of rock on a conveyor belt. Wisdom comes privately from God as a byproduct of right decisions, godly reactions, and the application of spiritual principles to daily circumstances.
In many (most?) churches there are programs and activities... but so little worship. There are songs and anthems and musicals... but so little worship. There are announcements and readings and prayers... but so little worship.
God doesn't mock us. He never gives us a goal that we cannot accomplish in His strength. I want to assure you, you can glorify God, you MUST glorify God. But you have to determine deep within your heart that you're going to do it His way.
It takes faith to find personal significance in your relationship with God rather than how much money you earn, how beautiful you look, how many toys you own, how many trophies you collect, or how much territory you conquer and control.
The crisis of physical hunger is essentially a crisis of faith. What or whom will you trust to meet your most basic needs? Will you trust the God who made human bodies, or will you seek your own way? (Deuteronomy 8:1-3)
The size of a challenge should never be measured by what we have to offer. It will never be enough. Furthermore, provision is God's responsibility, not ours. We are merely called to commit what we have - even if it's no more than a sack lunch.
In other words Jesus went into the desert to confront His enemy and throw down the gauntlet. He would prove Himself to be the legitimate shepherd of Israel by overcoming the temptations that had undone all of Israel's previous kings, including His mighty ancestor, King David.
Jesus kept it simple. The lesson wasn't complicated. 'I speak; you believe My word; your son will be fine.' We complicate what God has made simple by seeing the world through human eyes. We want to see in order to believe and presume that our limitations are His.
When you suffer and lose, that does not mean you are being disobedient to God. In fact, it might mean you're right in the center of His will. The path of obedience is often marked by times of suffering and loss.
In the wilderness, God's covenant people struggled with a choice between feeding their bellies and nourishing their souls. God provided manna--a breadlike food that fell to the ground during the night--to sustain the wandering Israelites and to teach them how to value His Word more than physical fulfillment.
We must cease striving and trust God to provide what He thinks is best and in whatever time He chooses to make it available. But this kind of trusting doesn't come naturally. It's a spiritual crisis of the will in which we must choose to exercise faith.
Make a plan now to keep a daily appointment with God. The enemy is going to tell you to set it aside, but you must carve out the time. If you're too busy to meet with the Lord, friend, then you are simply too busy
While I was raised around churches and had gotten to know a few preachers fairly well, the thought never entered my head that I would one day stand and deliver. Not only was I not interested, I lived with a major struggle: I stuttered.
Choose to view life through God's eyes. This will not be easy because it doesn't come naturally to us. We cannot do this on our own. We have to allow God to elevate our vantage point. Start by reading His Word, the Bible...Pray and ask God to transform your thinking. Let Him do what you cannot. Ask Him to give you an eternal, divine perspective.
Our great tendency in this age is to increase our speed, to run faster, even in the Christian life. In the process our walk with God stays shallow, and our tank runs low on fumes. Intimacy offers a full tank of fuel that can only be found by pulling up closer to God, which requires taking necessary time and going to the effort to make that happen.
Things will happen that seem to be totally contradictory, but these are God's arrangements. It was a wonderful day when I finally realized I don't have to explained or defend the will of God. My job is simply to obey it.
I'm here today to warn you: I want you to watch out for the adversary. Guard yourself from any spirit of entitlement. Restrain any and all subtle temptation to gain attention or to find ways to promote yourself.