Tuesday 9.22.15

If God were impatient, we would all experience immediate wrath for sin. Imagine living in constant fear of doing something wrong!  But fortunately for all of us, God possesses great patience.

One reason that the Lord shows mercy is because He knows we have a fallen nature.  Just as a toddler has to learn obedience, God’s children also must learn to walk in His ways.  He takes pleasure in watching us do what is right and wants to help us when we go wrong.

Paul appreciated God’s patience.  His life demonstrated that because the Father is slow to anger, unbelievers have a much greater opportunity for salvation.

In Romans 2:4, the apostle affirms that our heavenly Father’s kindness and mercy lead to repentance.  But in the following verse, he warns those with stubborn hearts that they will experience judgment.  In other words, the warning is that God’s patience will at some point run out if someone continuously sins against Him, submitting to unrighteousness instead of to the Father.

In the Old Testament, Israel repeatedly experienced this painful truth.  The people turned away from the Lord and did evil in His sight by worshipping idols.  God patiently tolerated their waywardness, giving them ample opportunity to choose obedience.  Eventually He’d withdraw His protection until they would cry out and return to Him.  Ultimately, even when the Lord allows calamity to reach His children, it is still drenched with His love and purpose.

Is there unconfessed sin in your life?  Be thankful that the Lord is slow to anger.  And be wise: Do not test the limits of His tolerance.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor.  Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.~1 Timothy 1:12-16

Friday 7.31.15

Grace is far more than a mealtime prayer.  The word communicates the idea of blessing. As children of God, we are the recipients of grace, which is poured out on us by our heavenly Father.  Let’s look at how we experience this amazing benefit of His love.

God’s favor is seen in our salvation “For by grace you have been saved.”  The blessing is undeserved and unearned—nothing about us prompted God to save us.  He acted purely out of His goodness, sacrificing His precious Son Jesus Christ in our place.  In that way, we could be reconciled to the Father and adopted into His family.

Grace is also the sphere in which we live the Christian life.  At salvation, we were transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light.  Here, we live out our new identity as God’s children and carry out His purpose of glorifying Him—both of which result in manifold blessings.

The beauty of grace becomes especially clear when we consider who we once were—a people hostile to the Lord and alienated from Him.  We were spiritually dead, living according to our own selfish interests.  But now, through faith in Jesus as our Savior, God has justified us and given us new life.  He has declared that we have right standing before Him.  All of our sins were placed upon Jesus, and His righteousness has been credited to our account permanently.

Picture yourself living in the favor of God. Internalize this truth, and then give Him thanks.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.~Romans 5:1-2

Tuesday 7.28.15

Some of King David’s prayers are recorded in the Psalms.  There we read how he praised the Lord, confessed sin, and cried out about his troubles.  He also asked God to hear his prayers and not be silent.

We all want to pray effectively like David.  To do so, we must avoid certain hindrances, such as:

Wavering faith.  Doubts about God’s character or dependability diminish our trust in Him.  Therefore, we must not allow feelings to dictate what we believe.

Wrong motives. Petitions motivated by selfish desires won’t receive an affirmative answer.  God wants us to pray for His will to be done—not ours.

Conflict in relationships. Being resentful or argumentative with others will affect communication with the Father.

Lack of generosity. God is displeased when we ignore people’s needs or give begrudgingly to the church.  He hears us asking for a blessing yet sees us refusing to obey Him in our giving.

Indifference.  Apathy to the Scriptures is another stumbling block.  God has given us the Bible so that we might know Him and serve Him wholeheartedly.  Failure to read and apply His Word consistently will diminish our ability to maintain a godly lifestyle.

It takes effort and commitment to develop a strong prayer life, but the rewards are great. If your prayers have not been answered, consider which, if any, of the above issues may need correction. Then, start by personalizing the prayers you read in the Psalms or elsewhere in God’s Word.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.  For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.~James 1:5-8

Tuesday 5.12.15

God’s Word is clear.  When we genuinely invite Him to reign over our hearts, and when we accept His transforming love, we are forever changed.  When we welcome Christ into our hearts, an old life ends and new way of living, along with a completely new way of viewing the word begins.  Each morning offers a fresh opportunity to invite Christ, yet once again, to rule over our hearts and our days.  Each morning presents yet another opportunity to take up His cross and follow in His footsteps.  Today, let us rejoice in the new life that is ours through Christ, and let us follow Him, step by step, on the path that He first walked.

You were born with tremendous potential.  When you were born again through the faith in Jesus Christ, God added spiritual gifts to your natural talents.

We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.  Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things.  For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.~2 Peter 1:19-21