Knowing the Word

He sent his officials … to teach … They taught in Judah, having the Book of the Law of the LORD with them … The dread of the LORD was on all the kingdoms of the lands which were around Judah.– 2 Chronicles 17:7-10 NASB

God blessed Judah because King Jehoshaphat sought God and obeyed His Word. He took great pride in the ways of the Lord (v. 6). He expressed this pride and commitment by sending Levites throughout the land to teach the people about God’s Word. But he also sent officials, making it clear to everyone that this project had his blessing and that this was important to him.

As the people learned from the book of the law of the Lord, people in the surrounding nations developed “the dread of the Lord.” God had not changed, but because His people knew His Word, they changed. Others could see the difference He made. He could protect them from danger, grant them favor and success, give them peace, and fight their battles.

The same kind of impact can occur in our lives when we know God’s Word. It not only will change us, but it can change our relationships and impact how other people act toward us. When we get our lives in line with God’s Word, we can be delivered from fear and worry. He can shield and defend us and give us His peace.

Today, make sure that you renew your commitment to know the Word, fill your mind and heart with the Word, apply the Word in every area of your life, and seek God with your whole heart. This is important!

SBS

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Unbelief Is a Thief

And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.”
Mark 6:5–6
The Bible tells the story of a woman who was pleading with Jesus for her daughter, and she was very persistent in her faith. Jesus answered her prayer and said, Dear woman, your faith is great. Your request is granted (Matthew 15:28 NLT).

Faith can make the difference between something happening and not happening.

For example, the Bible tells us that Jesus could do no mighty works in His hometown of Nazareth because of their unbelief (see Mark 6:5). Jesus went to other cities and miracles would happen. Demons would come out of people. The blind would receive their sight, and the deaf would hear again. People with leprosy would be cured.

For example, God could have parted the Red Sea by His own power. He didn’t need Moses to hold up his staff. Instead, God said, Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground (Exodus 14:16 NLT).

God also could have done other things like bring fire down from Heaven on the altar when Elijah faced off with the prophets of Baal. He didn’t need Elijah to call for that fire. But God wants us to exercise our faith. He wants us to be a part of the process. So we need to call out to Him

SBS

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.2 CORINTHIANS 4:17

There are certain parts of scripture that make for great inspirational photos but are actually pretty brutal when it comes to applying them in real life.

2 Corinthians 4:17 is a perfect example. I can slap this verse onto a picture of a sunrise, share it on Instagram, and the likes will start pouring in. Probably also a lot of #blessed comments too. I’ll feel super spiritual.

But when it comes time for me to take hold of this verse by faith, when I find myself within the scorching furnace of suffering, when I’m being swallowed by the leviathan of suffering, my trials don’t seem like light momentary afflictions.

They seem crushing. Overwhelming. Absolutely unbearable at times.

And then I come to verses like 2 Corinthians 4:17. I read the passage and, at least initially, feel perplexed.

Light and momentary affliction? Did Paul have any idea what he was talking about when he wrote these words? How can he possibly say that both his and my suffering classify as light and momentary?

Without in any way minimizing the pain of these trials, it also seems that Paul had a different perspective than I do

[If] My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. – 2 Chronicles 7:14 NASB

[If] My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.– 2 Chronicles 7:14 NASB

God knew there was sin in the land. He was ready to act. Something had to change.

His focus was not on sinners or the godless, but His own people. They needed to humble themselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways. Only then would He hear, forgive, and heal their land.

The same principle applies today. It can be easy to focus on the immorality, blasphemy, corruption, and godlessness we see in the media. But God tells us He focuses on His people. He watches to see how we react.

If you want to see change, start with prayer! Humble yourself before God. Seek His face. Ask Him to convict you of anything that displeases Him – any thought or activity, any hobby or habit. Make sure to confess your sins, repent, and seek to make changes.

The Bible promises that God is ready to “hear from heaven.” He’s ready to forgive the sins of our people and heal our land and ready to act in powerful ways. But we need to be passionate about our prayers. Will we seek Him persistently? Will we pray with compassion? Will we cry out for His mercy? For healing? For His power to fall on us?

Today, commit to pray more intensely and to pray for the lost. Pray that the Spirit will fall. Pray that God will send revival. Pray until our land is healed.

SBS

Joy in Sorrow

Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. John 16:20-22

As I wait for the birth of my third child, these verses seem especially poignant. There is no doubt that there is much pain in this life, but Jesus has given us something to look forward to. He has given us hope. We have a choice though, will we focus more on the sorrow and pain that we are experiencing, or will we choose to focus on the joy that is coming? When you’re having a baby and labor pains start, focusing too much on each contraction only makes them seem worse, then the fear starts to set in. However, when you think about what you’re working toward, and that this pain won’t last forever, somehow the pain is a little more bearable. Let us choose to focus on Jesus through our pain, knowing that He will turn our sorrows into joy in the most wonderful ways possible

SBS

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We stand tallest and strongest on our kneesLife is filled with all kinds of trials and tough decisions that have to be made. In those situations, it can be difficult to know what to do.

Any time we respond in prayer, we can’t go wrong. Prayer allows us to cast our burdens on the Lord and receive guidance and provision from Him. We can experience God’s power for daily living when we’re willing to seek Him earnestly and bow in reverence.

Daniel 6:10-11

An older pastor got into the habit of challenging his congregation by quoting Jeremiah 33:3: Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know. Leveling his eyes at those gathered before him, he would say, Try it. It works!

This is a simple thought, but it carries a tremendous truth: God wants us to call to Him. In fact, many times He allows disappointments and difficulties into our lives so that we will draw closer to Him in intimate communion.

Prayer is a very powerful tool for believers—through it the Lord blesses us and frees us from bondage. In prayer we profess our need of Christ and ask for His solution to our problems. We also learn to worship Him and grow spiritually in His loving presence.

As we spend time with Him, God lovingly teaches us how to communicate with Him and listen for His still, small voice. Through it all, we grow deeper in our relationship with Him.

Several things are essential to establishing a powerful prayer life:

Choose a definite time to spend with the Lord in prayer. Setting a time, whether early in the morning or late in the evening, is not the issue. Rather, consistency is the key. Ask God to show you the perfect time when you can be alone with Him.Select a place where you can be alone with Him. Although you may be limited as to where you can go to have time alone with the Lord, He will provide the perfect place for you to seek Him.Make the commitment to pray daily. This alone tells God that your heart is open to Him and that you want to learn more about Him and what He has planned for you.Keep a journal that contains your requests and how God answers your prayers as a continuing testimony of God’s work in your life. Remember to write down the specific verses that He applies to your situation and the promises He gives you from His Word.

God honors the prayers of His people. If you go to Him—seeking Him earnestly and obeying His commands—He will provide all you need. So don’t worry about what to say; the Holy Spirit will show you. At times, tears are just as effective as words, and God is sensitive to every tear you cry. Just as He understands the hurt you feel, so He knows how to deal with and guide you through any trial you must endure.

Therefore, whenever a trial strikes, turn to Him immediately in prayer. His presence will fill you with hope, and He will give you the strength and wisdom you need to face the situation with confidence. Throughout your lifetime, you may face many difficult situations. Some will be very exciting, while others may feel as though they will break your heart. No matter what challenges come, you can be sure God is in the difficulty with you. He enjoys seeing you rejoice over His blessings, but He also mourns with you when tragedy strikes.

Always remember that God is bigger than any problem you face, and the distance between your success and failure or your victory and defeat is the distance between your knees and the floor as you kneel before your wondrous Lord and Savior in surrendered prayer. You are never taller or stronger than while on your knees! Why? Because He knows the way before you, and He can guide you through the difficulty if you will trust Him. And when you submit to Him in obedience, He applies His unlimited resources, wisdom, and power to help you.

My challenge to you is simple: whatever you’re facing, trust God with it. Ask Him to take away the anxiety, fear, and feelings of frustration. Have faith in the Lord and rest in His care. You will never feel more accepted or secure than you do in the presence of God. Victory awaits, so come to Him.

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Paul the apostle put it this way: For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want(Rom. 7:19).

Paul the apostle put it this way: For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want
(Rom. 7:19).

This episode, and Paul’s resignation about our nature, makes me wonder, How then can we bring glory to God? And more to the point, If I’m so quick to sin, how can I bring Him glory?
Your ultimate purpose is to bring glory by the way you live. [His] plan is for you to experience great joy and fulfillment despite any hardship, trial, or difficulty that you encounter along life’s path. He is calling you to persevere in pursuing His purpose for you and to grow in your faith and in your character every day and through every act of obedience.

What right did I have to take ownership of a moment meant as a remembrance of Christ’s humility and sacrifice?

Like everything else, it comes down to daily choices. Though we are seriously affected by the world, our flesh, and the devil, we know that belonging to Christ gives us the power and freedom to overcome. As Paul says in the verses that follow, You have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do (Rom. 8:12 NLT). In this walk of faith, we’re going to fail, fall, flub, and flout, but the good news in Christ is that we’re no longer condemned and we’ve been given power in the Spirit to please God (Rom. 8:1-11).

Moments before Christ entered the garden of Gethsemane to prepare for His death, He lifted His eyes to heaven and said in the presence of the disciples, The glory which You have given Me I also have given to them, so that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and You loved them, just as You loved Me (John 17:22-23).

We will find our greatest joy and contentment not in securing for ourselves the best experiences, the most pleasure, or the accolades we so frequently seek, but in becoming less. When we decrease, Christ increases. And as we strip away ourselves and approach Him as little children, we get a taste of this oneness Jesus prayed for. A oneness that draws us together and reflects the oneness of God Himself.
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A Bit Brighter

This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. So he complained to the Lord about it. – Jonah  4:1-2a

We all seem to complain when things don’t go the way we want them to. It happens more often than not. Sometimes we don’t even realize we are actually doing it. Jonah had done what God had asked of him, in spite of how he felt. When the Lord did not pass judgment on the Ninevites, it struck a sour chord with Jonah. He probably wondered how this could be, these guys are horrible sinners? Why do they get a free pass, when I was swallowed by a giant fish for something far less? Many of us have probably had similar thoughts when things don’t go our way or life seems unfair. Bitterness, anger, and pride can often creep into our thoughts and cause us to act poorly. Remember God’s ways are above ours and His mercy is endless. Remember we are to forgive others as He has forgiven you and find peace in His forgiveness

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One of Life’s Greatest Blessings

In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!
Luke 15:7
What is the gospel? Literally defined, the gospel means good news. The gospel teaches that we’re all separated from God by our sins, and there is nothing we can do to satisfy the righteous demands of God on our own.

Also, the gospel doesn’t teach that we’re good. Rather, it teaches that we’re bad and separated from God. But 2,000 years ago, God sent His son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins and rise from the dead. And if we’ll turn from our sins and ask Christ to come into our lives, He will forgive us.

He will fill that hole in our hearts and give us the purpose and direction in life we’ve been seeking. And best of all, He will give us the absolute assurance of Heaven for the afterlife.

That is the gospel, and we need to share it with people. The Bible teaches that conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit. But God reaches people through people, so we need to seek to lead others to Christ.

We have a choice: We can evangelize, or we can fossilize. If we only take in and never share our faith, it’s detrimental to us spiritually.

I think one of the reasons some Christians never have led another person to Christ is they haven’t asked anyone this question: Would you like to accept Jesus Christ right now?

You never know when God will prompt you to ask this. In fact, it might be awkward for you to ask, but do it anyway. And if someone says yes, then get ready for one of the greatest blessings you’ve ever experienced in life.

Jesus said, There is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! (Luke 15:7 NLT).

There’s great joy in sharing your faith

SBS