WHAT HAS GOD SAID ABOUT YOU? (1)

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“[He] will be proved right in what [he] says.” Ro 3:3 NLT

Paul writes, “What’s the advantage of being a Jew?…Yes, there are great benefits! First of all, the Jews were entrusted with the whole revelation of God. True, some of them were unfaithful; but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be un- faithful? Of course not!…[He] will be proved right in what [he] says” (vv.1-3 NLT). God has spoken specific things concerning you. Those things are His will for your life. You must believe them, carry them within you, and speak them over your life. Get over the notion that everybody has to accept what God said about you. Your vision should be inde- pendent of outside support. That’s a difficult concept to grasp, especially in a democracy where others vote and the majority rules. God’s kingdom is a theocracy: only one voice and one vote counts—His! Refuse to put your vision on hold waiting for everybody to come into agreement with you. Not only do they not have to support you, they don’t even have to believe what God told you! You can’t afford to wait for them to get comfortable with your vision before you pursue it. When people misunderstand you or refuse to help you, you can still get there without them. God is a covenant-making, covenant-keeping God, and what He has spoken over your life will surely come to pass. If you doubt that, read this: “My word…will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isa 55:11 NIV). That’s all the validation you need!

BE RESILIENT

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“We give great honor to those who endure.” Jas 5:11 NLT

During their famous expedition, American explorers Lewis and Clark faced incredible hardships. On reaching the Missouri River, they thought the worst was over—then they saw the Rockies! Instead of the easy ride downstream they’d expected, they faced their biggest challenge: retreat or start climbing! Looking back, they realized it was in conquering the Rockies that they gained the confidence they needed for what they’d face later. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, writes, “It’s in meeting and solving problems that we grow mentally and spiritually. Wise people learn not to dread, but to welcome the pain of problems.” Sociologists who study resiliency—the ability to bounce back—tell us that people handle trauma in two ways. They either give up because they’re afraid, or they grow up by developing the capacity to handle it. What makes the difference? Instead of acting like victims, resilient people: (1) take charge of their lives; (2) refuse to relinquish their values; (3) refocus on their goal. Noela Evans says, “Challenge is a dragon with a gift in its mouth. Tame the dragon and the gift is yours.” Quitting is always simpler than enduring. But it produces a pattern that’s hard to break; one you live to regret. So if you’re thinking, “This relationship is too hard, I want out,” or, “This job isn’t what I expected, I’m quitting,” remember, you develop resiliency by remaining faithful in situations you don’t like and can’t change. That’s why the Bible says, “We give great honor to those who endure.”

THE FINGER OF GOD (4)

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“Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger.” Jn 8:6 NKJV

The finger of God in cleansing. One day the Pharisees brought a woman to Christ. She’d been “caught in the act” of adultery and they expected Him to condemn her. But instead, “Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.” This is Jesus at His best! He stooped down to identify with the victim in her shame, refusing to listen to the words of her accusers. Then He scattered them with a single statement: “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (v. 7 NKJV). Ouch! Then the One Who came not to tear us down but to build us up, said to her, “Nei- ther do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (v. 11 NKJV). The question is, where would she find strength to live such a life? Through Christ! His commandments are His enablings. He said, “I am the light of the world, He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (v.12 NKJV). Jesus sees every weed as a potential rose, every doubter as a potential believer, and every sinner as a potential saint. Stop listening to the voices that condemn you. Stop beating yourself up over your failures. Come to Jesus today; He will cleanse you, make you whole, and give you the life you’ve always longed for. You don’t have to live under Satan’s control anymore. Jesus said, “If I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come” (Lk 11:20).

THE FINGER OF GOD (3)

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“And he gave unto Moses…tables of stone, written with the finger of God.” Ex 31:18

The finger of God in stone. Why do you think God wrote the Ten Commandments in stone? Because His principles are permanent and unchanging. You say, “But what about all those people who have never heard God’s Word? How will He judge them?” Paul answers: “Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law…show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it…They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right” (Ro 2:14-15 NLT). Your conscience acts like a compass. If you let it, it’ll guide you right. But when you reject its warnings, its voice gets quieter and quieter until you can no longer hear it. That’s a dangerous condition to be in. Paul writes, “Having faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck” (1Ti 1:19 NKJV). Picture yourself standing on a bridge dropping pebbles into a pond and watching the ripples go out to the edge. It’s just a little pebble, but look at the effect it has! Yet in winter when that same pond freezes over, you can drive a pickup truck across it. Your conscience is like that. When you keep disobeying God, your heart becomes calloused and hardened and you no longer hear Him speaking to you. Paul writes, “I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man” (Ac 24:16 NIV). That’s a good rule of thumb for you to live by!

HE WON! (2)

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How hell must have celebrated the day Jesus was crucified! “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…the only begotten of the Father” (v.14 NKJV). Yet He had just died on a cross. But Satan’s big party ended abruptly! One author writes: “In the most ironic twist of all history, what Satan meant for evil, God meant for good. Jesus’ death bridged the gap between a perfect God and a fatally flawed humanity. On Good Friday God defeated sin, routed death, triumphed over Satan, and got his family back…He took the worst deed of history and turned it into the greatest victory. No wonder Jesus commanded that we never forget. Because of the cross we have hope. It’s through the Servant’s wondrous wounds, not His miracles, that we are healed (See Isa 53:5). And if God can wrest such triumph from the jaws of apparent defeat…what might He do with the apparent failures and hardships of our lives? Nothing—not even the murder of His Son—can end the relationship between God and human beings. In the alchemy [transformation] of redemption, the most villainous crime becomes our healing strength. The fatally wounded healer came back on Easter, the day that gives us a sneak preview of how all history will look from the vantage point of eternity, when every scar… hurt and disappointment will be seen in a different light. Faith begins where it might have seemed to end. Between the cross and the empty tomb hovers the promise of history: hope for the world, and hope for each of us who lives in it.”

THE FINGER OF GOD (2)

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“The magicians said to Pharaoh,‘This is the finger of God.’” Ex 8:19 NIV

The finger of God in calamity. When God sent plagues that Pharaoh’s wizards couldn’t duplicate, they cried out in fear, “This is the finger of God.” Finally Pharaoh got the message: “Maybe God’s trying to tell me something.” The calamity that befell Egypt was a direct result of Pharaoh defying God. Ten times Moses stood before him with God’s Word, saying, “Let my people go.” Notice, God was only asking for what was rightfully His. The question is: What is He asking of you? Only when you say yes to God will things begin to go right for you! When you see His purpose in the reversals and setbacks you’re going through, you can actually turn them into stepping stones to blessing. The Psalmist wrote, “Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary” (Ps 77:13). Then he added, “Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters” (Ps 77:19). The sanctuary or the storm! God will bring you the easy way or the hard way. If you refuse to listen to His voice in the sanctuary, He will speak to you in life’s storms. Pharaoh rebelled against the providential deal- ings of God, and it cost him his kingdom and his life. Don’t miss the lesson here. God wants what belongs to Him, what He bought and paid for at Calvary. He wants His rightful place in your life, which is first place. And you have an option: you can rebel against Him or respond to His love. If you feel God tugging at your heart today, it’s because He wants to save you, use you and bless you. If you’re wise you’ll say yes to Him.

THE FINGER OF GOD (1)

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“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers.” Ps 8:3 NKJV

Let’s look at the finger of God in Scripture: The finger of God in creation. The psalmist David said, “When I consider…the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him?” (vv. 3-4 NKJV). The Bible opens by telling us, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Ge 1:1 NIV). In a day when many challenge the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible, we need to teach our children Who made the universe, Who runs it, and to Whom each of us is ultimately accountable. In 1961 Yuri Gagarin, the first Russian cosmonaut to go into space, boasted, “I looked and looked but I didn’t see God.” Guess what? One day he will see God and stand before Him and be judged (See Ro 14:11-12). We all will!

Faith and reason are not necessarily opposed. But when reason won’t take you another step, faith keeps on going because it connects you to God. The stars convinced David of God’s existence. They say if you counted stars at a rate of 125 a minute, it would take 2,000 years just to count the stars in our Milky Way. And that it would take ten billion human beings standing side by side to span the diameter of the average star. Awesome, eh? Paul says: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Ro1:20 NIV). If you look you will see God at work everywhere—including your own life.

HOLY COMMUNION

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“This is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 1Co11:24NKJV

Here are three reasons you need to partake of Holy Communion: (1) To make you grace-minded. No one will ever stand in heaven and say, “Look what Jesus and I have accomplished.” If you had to pay one penny of your sin debt, it would make you a co-redeemer with Christ. What an offense to the cross! (See Eph 2:8-9.) Hymnist Horatio Spafford wrote: “My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought. My sin, not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!” (2) To keep you sensitive to sin. “Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself” (1Co 11:28-29 NKJV). You say, “If I sin and take communion, does that mean I’m drinking liquid damnation?” No, it’s the “manner” in which you approach God that counts. You don’t have to avoid the communion cup; you need only confess your sin, then drink deeply with gratitude. (3) To keep you focused on Christ’s return. “I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mk 14:25 NKJV). Every communion service brings you one step closer to the greatest communion service of all: the marriage supper of the Lamb in heaven (See Rev 19:7). Are you planning on being there?

WHOSE “REPORT” WILL YOU BELIEVE?

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“You will live safely in the land and prosper.” Ps 37:3 NLT

Frank Furedi documented an increasing use of fear in the media by counting the appearances of the term “at risk” in British newspapers. In 1994 the term appeared 2,037 times. By the end of the next year the total had doubled. During the year 2000 “at risk” was printed more than 18,000 times. Now, did world danger increase ninefold in six years—or are we just getting the bad news faster, in real time? “Information overload” has produced the most medicated generation known to man. Not only do we need antidepressants and tranquilizers, our children do too. Even our pets are taking them! Thank God for increased medical knowledge, but you have to ask, “How did folks in the old days get by? What did they do when they were stressed out?” Here are words some of them woke up with every morning and went to bed with every night: “Don’t worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong. For like grass, they soon fade away. Like spring flowers, they soon wither. Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you…Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act…The Lord rescues the godly; he is their fortress in times of trouble. The Lord helps them, rescuing them from the wicked. He saves them, and they find shelter in him” (Ps 37:1-7, 39-40 NLT).

WHAT HAPPENED TO DEMAS? (2)

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“Demas…loved this…world.” 2Ti 4:10 NKJV

Again we ask, “What happened to Demas?” (1) Was he troubled by Paul’s diminishing prestige? When Paul came to town church growth exploded—and so did riots. In one town the new converts brought out pornographic books and artifacts of witchcraft and burned them in the town square. That didn’t win Paul any points with the publishers and manufacturers! He had the social status of a leper in a health colony. Who said the Christian life was supposed to be easy? Not Jesus: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (Jn 15:18-19 NKJV). Attack is a sign of respect; it means you haven’t been conquered. Indeed, the level of the attack that comes against you is an indicator of the level of God’s blessing that awaits you beyond it. (2) Did he resent Paul’s growing ostracism by professing Christians? A guy asked his friend, “How’s the world treating you?” He replied, “The world treats me just fine, it’s the saints who give me a hard time!” Sometimes the church supported Paul financially, other times he had to make tents to support himself. So how did he respond? “I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved” (2Co 12:15 NKJV). The burning desire in Paul’s life was “to be well pleasing to [Christ]” (2Co 5:9 NKJV). Is that your desire too?