Prepare to Choose

2018 will be full of choices to make (See Sure Things).

There are many conscious choices every day, and some habits we should intentionally change.

How should we decide?

Foundation Choice

The foundation choice for life and eternity is to:

Confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. (Romans 10:9)

Whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. (John 3:15)

If you’re not sure, see Becoming a Child of God.

Life Choice

Determine, as a life principle, to follow Christ daily.

If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. (Luke 9:23)

The more that core decision is embedded in your life, the easier it will be to make daily choices.

Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. (Matthew 6:33)

Application Choices

We have many daily choices to make. And we are responsible for those choices.

If our choices rest on glorifying Him, we will get His help.

Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose. (Psalm 25:12)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5–6)

Prepare to Choose

Examine yourself to make sure you are in the faith.

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Determine to work on your head and heart knowledge by studying the Bible, meditating on His Word, and learning to please Him (Ephesians 5:10).

Resolve to put Him first in all your choices.

Keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1)

Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:2)

 

Press On!

 

Prepare for Trouble

 

Jesus promised we would have trouble. He promised! (see Sure Things.)

Since we know we will have trouble, what do we do to prepare for trouble?

In order to face trouble with confidence and trust, we must have our heads and our hearts aligned with our loving, sovereign Lord.

Head Knowledge

Almighty God is sovereign over everybody, everything, all the time. While we are responsible for our own actions, God accomplishes His purposes, working all things in accordance with His will.

Our sovereign God loves His children. He adopted us who believe in Christ Jesus and have received Christ as Lord.

The entire Bible is full of proofs about our loving, sovereign God. For help in learning this, see When Storms Come: Will You Be Ready?

Heart Knowledge

It is possible to intellectually know something without placing confidence, reliance, or trust in that fact. Ask yourself:

“Do I trust God’s sovereignty and love?”

“Do I really believe that He loves me and controls my circumstances?”

“Do I have some doubts about whether or not He really loves me?”

“Do I worry that not quite everything is under His control?”

You must move from knowledge to trusting in order not to fear bad news and keep on track through your storms. Your heart has to believe as well as your head. Informed trust is essential if you are to become ready for anything.

To move from head to heart, continue to study the Bible and learn more about God. Simultaneously, practice what you learn. For example, determine to see God’s loving hand and presence in everything that happens.

This does NOT mean to be passive when trouble strikes! Pray about what you are to do.

Rehearse

Whether or not you see trouble on your horizon, rehearse how you will react. Habakkuk did. God revealed to him that Israel was going to be destroyed, and Habakkuk determined, no matter what, that he was going to worship his sovereign God.

Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places. (Habakkuk 3:17–19)

Memorize

Memorize key verses about God’s sovereignty and love to help move head knowledge to heart knowledge, making it easier to respond to trouble with trust.

Summarize your knowledge in your own words.

Since God created us, He knows what is best for us. Because He is love, He wants what is best for us. Because He is sovereign, He has the power to make it happen. 

Trust Him.

Prepare to Serve

There are at least four sure things in 2018 (See Sure Things):

We will have God-given work to do;

We will have trouble;

We will have choices; and

God will be with us.

We’re nearly 3 weeks into 2018. How are you doing?

Since we know something about what is up ahead, let’s prepare to meet our opportunities and challenges.

How to Prepare to Serve

  1. Realize that God will give you work to do. All of us, all Christians, are in full-time ministry, no matter what our role. We are placed where God wants us (1 Corinthians 12:18), and He will give us opportunities where we are. None of us are off the hook.
  2. Since you will be given work to do, be available. Determine, right now, that you will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).
  3. The specifics of God’s work for us differ one from another, and from time to time. You almost certainly know some areas of service, but God will surprise you. Be alert.
  4. Prepare your minds for action. (1 Peter 1:13). We cannot stay on the sidelines rooting others on. We need to be engaged. Be ready for every good deed (Titus 3:1).
  5. Serve God, your neighbor, and fellow believers with love. Let all you do be done in love. (1 Corinthians 16:14)
  6. Serve for the glory of God. Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
  7. Don’t lose heart. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary (Galatians 6:9). God rewards in His own time.

And pray.

Remember God is with us! He helps us!

Be encouraged.

 

 

Praise the Victor

British Airways

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus Christ, God, the Son of God, the Lamb of God, is Victor over all.

Victor over Earth

On earth, He overcame the world, demonstrating His sovereignty through healing, casting out demons, feeding, calming the storms, raising people from the dead, giving life.

Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them. (Luke 7:22)

Take courage; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Victor over Sin

He took away the sin of the world.

Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)

For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10)

Victor over Death

For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. (John 5:21)

I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.  (John 11:25–26)

Victor Over Work of Redemption: “It is Finished”

He fulfilled Scripture, accomplished all things, completed the work of redemption, and declared in triumph on the cross: “It is finished!”

He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. (John 19:30)

Victor over Satan and Death

The [kings of the earth and the beast] will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings. (Revelation 17:14)

The devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Revelation 20:10)

Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:14)

Victor over the First Things

Behold, I am making all things new… It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. (Revelation 21:5-6)

Christ is the First and the Last, the Almighty.

Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:12–13)

~~~

Praise the Victor.

Sure Things in 2018

While we cannot know all the details of what we will face in 2018, we can know for certain, and prepare for, some.

Here are some sure things that will happen in 2018:

We will have God-given work to do

We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

It is a sure thing that God will give us opportunities to serve Him.

Lord, help me be alert, and fulfill, with Your help, the work You have for me.

We will have trouble (John 16:33)

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Trouble is inevitable in 2018, and may come from any direction.

Trouble is a sure thing.

Lord, help me look to You not only in trouble, but in calm times. Thank You that You will guide me.

We will have choices

We will have choices to believe…or not.

We will have choices to worship and trust…or not.

We will have choices to practice the truth (John 3:21), or go astray.

We can let our heart be troubled—or not (John 14:1, 27)

We can keep His commandments—or not (John 14:15)

It is a sure thing that we will have choices.

Lord, in all my choices, help me choose to follow You.

God will be with us

Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)

He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)

Lord, help me be conscious of You throughout my days.

 

Happy New Year!

 

Hallow His Name

 

Today is New Year’s Eve 2017.

While January 1st is really “just” tomorrow, I like the symbolism of turning a fresh page to an unwritten year, full of possibilities.

Usually by now I have a long list of goals, with a gazillion steps to achieve those goals. And then, later in the year (ok, later in January!), I forget what they are. The years my goals have affected my behavior are the years my goals are very simple.

Life Vision

My life vision is still the same:

Love the Lord my God with all my heart, mind, and strength;

Love my neighbor as myself;

Love believers as Christ loves me.

My dream for my tombstone is still the same:

She loved God and her neighbor.

The tests of accomplishment at my death are still the same:

Hear Jesus say: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Have people say: “Her memory is a blessing.” (Proverbs 10:7)

2018 Goal: Hallow His Name. Regard His name as holy in everything I think, say, and do.

This year I have one core goal:

Hallow His Name. Regard His name as holy in everything I think, say, and do.

As believers in Christ, we are set apart for God and His service. We are to seek Him first. We are to put Him first in our lives. We are to treat Him as holy.

The Lord spoke, saying, “By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored.” (Leviticus 10:3)

As I walk through 2018, my dream, my goal, is to have everything I think, say, and do, honor our holy God.

While this is impossible, of course, I know what to do when I fail (1 John 1:9).

And I know how to test everything:

Does this thought hallow His name?

Will these words hallow His name?

Will this action hallow His name?

And I know something about how to plan the day:

How can I hallow You today?

Will you join me?

 

 

 

Open Your Gifts!

When Do You Open Your Gifts?

You probably have gift-wrapped presents under your Christmas tree.

When do you open them?

With little kiddos, you might be awakened in the middle of the night (at least it seems that way!) by children eager to open their presents.

You might be the parent (like my mom), who waits until everyone else has opened all their gifts before starting on their own…slowly. Very slowly.

How about God’s gifts?

What do you do with the gifts from God?

All—ALL—His gifts must be opened in order to receive what He has for us. He gives, but we are responsible.

The Gift of Salvation

The gift of His Son, Jesus Christ—must be received in order to be saved.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. (John 1:12)

He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. (John 12:48)

We must receive Him as Savior and Lord.

God’s Life and Godliness Gifts

We must learn how to use His gifts.

Some presents can be used immediately, without study: a new candle, clothing. Some presents must be learned to be used: a board game, new software.

God has given His children everything pertaining to life and godliness. EVERYTHING.

His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. (2 Peter 1:3)

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly. (Romans 12:6)

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:10)

Open, Learn, and Use God’s Gifts

But I do not use all His gifts in my everyday life. And you don’t either!

As we grow as Christians, we are more and more able to walk in His way. We are being saved from the power of sin; we are being sanctified.

Open all His gifts and prayerfully learn how to use them for His glory.

 

Merry Christmas!

 

Praise the Upholder

 

Upholder

God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, upholds His children, His servants, His brethren. We need to strive to walk in His way, but at the same time we can relax, knowing He is with us, holding us up, sustaining, and supporting us throughout our lives.

For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. (2 Chronicles 16:9)

You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your right hand upholds me; and Your gentleness makes me great. (Psalm 18:35)

Sustain me according to Your word, that I may live; and do not let me be ashamed of my hope. Uphold me that I may be safe, that I may have regard for Your statutes continually. (Psalm 119:116–117)

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul. (Psalm 54:4)

And underneath are [God’s] everlasting arms. (Deuteronomy 33:27)

Upholder, Helper, Supporter, Sustainer

God is my helper? God? Yes, that is what He says.

God supports me? Sustains me? Upholds me? Supports me? Yes, that is what He says.

God, Help me believe Your Word.

Praise the Upholder

Father God, Lord Christ, Holy Spirit, please help me absorb this truth. You are the Upholder. I am safe in Your arms. You never let me down. Your awesome character is more than I can fathom. Please help me seek You first, set my heart and hands to walk in Your way, and to relax in Your arms, knowing I am safe.

Content in the Mess

 

 

Content in the Mess

This is the fifth post lately about contentment. You can guess what I have been thinking about!

I have been so very, very upset about what is going on in the US. The good part of that is I have been driven into the Word and prayer. One of the results is these five posts.

Today I thought I’d tell you about my work to apply what I’ve learned about contentment to the current mess.

Please remember that true Christians vary in their positions and politics. Conservatives, you have liberal brothers and sisters in the Lord. Liberals, you have conservative brothers and sisters in the Lord. Please, as you walk through these troubled times, keep God first. Don’t discard Christians whose politics are different than yours. (And, yes, sometimes their positions may not be consistent with the Word of God. But Christians, even you, even I, can be wrong.)

I have been applying Ten Steps to Contentment to my view of this country’s current issues. I want to be content in the mess.

The Ten Steps are divided into work relating to our head (our knowledge about God), our heart (our inner core, including trust), and our hands (what we think, say, and do). All three categories must work together to reach contentment.

Head

God is sovereign over everything. He is allowing ungodly people to be elected, ungodly actions to be enacted and condoned. He is allowing evil to run its course. But for His holy purpose.

I’ve read the Bible. I know times get worse. I know bad times will happen. I know God is in control. I know He will judge righteously.

He changes time and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings. (Daniel 2:21)

In the last days difficult times will come… (2 Timothy3:1)

Heart

Almighty God is my loving Savior. I can trust Him. I must trust Him. This is where He wants me to be. He promises to bring good out of this for His children.

I don’t have to understand what He is doing to trust Him. My trust is based on His character, not the news.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)

Calm and quiet your soul. (Psalm 131)

Hands

Lord, I am Your child, I am Your servant. I surrender myself to You in this situation. Help me praise You. Help me love You and my neighbor through this. Help me serve You.

Not my will, but Yours be done. (Luke 22:42)

Posts on Contentment

Current Event Bingo

Be Discontent

Ten Steps to Contentment

When to be Content

Content in the Mess

 

 

When to be Content

Christians’ goal should be, like Paul, to be content in any situation.

I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. (Philippians 4:11)

Often, though, we should NOT be satisfied with where we are. Paul was discontented:

For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. (Romans 7:15)

And, sometimes, you should be working to change your situation, even while you trust God for having you in that situation.

When should you be discontent? When should you be content?

Are you in a situation you can change and should change?

Are you in a situation you can change but shouldn’t change?

Are you in a situation you cannot change?

Can and Should

We are often in situations we can change and should change. Certainly, spiritual growth is in this category. Paul admonished us to run our races with endurance. He talked about striving, buffeting his body,

Frequently we are discontent because we want, for our own satisfaction, something else. Prayerfully consider this, seeking God’s wisdom, confessing as appropriate, and walking in His way.

Other times we need to work, in God’s will, to change our situation.

Suppose your finances are problematic. You may need to reduce your expenditures or find a way to increase your income. It’s possible, like Paul, you need to be content in scarcity, but, often, you can and you should improve your situation.

Suppose you must raise your grades to be eligible for a scholarship. You can and should work on this. You might have to drop out of activities you enjoy in order to devote more time to study. You might need a tutor. You might…

Think through your situation. What should you be working to improve?

Can But Shouldn’t

Sometimes we are unhappy with our lot, and can change it, but shouldn’t.

A classic example is Abraham and Sarah wanting a child. God promised them a child, but they got tired of waiting and got a child outside of God’s will. They were able to do so, but shouldn’t have. They should have waited.

Is that your situation?

Cannot

But sometimes, we cannot change the situation.

Joseph in Potiphar’s house and in prison are in this category. Joseph didn’t run away, he was a model slave and a model prisoner. The extent of his attempt to get out of prison was to ask the cupbearer to remember him.

I had a serious problem with my vision and had to cope with the possibility of becoming blind. While I prayed and sought medical care, I still had to surrender my eyesight to my loving God. (See When Storms Come: Will YouBe Ready?)

Discernment

We must ask God for wisdom about our situation, and what He wants us to do. Which category are you in?

If you need to change something, prayerfully work on it.

If you are in a situation you cannot or should not change, work at contentment. (See Ten Steps to Contentment)

Press on!