THE TUG OF GOD’S LOVE

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. – Romans 8:16 NKJV

The story is told of an atheist spending a quiet day fishing when his boat is attacked by the Loch Ness monster.  the beast tosses him and his boat high into the air, then it opens its mouth to swallow them both. The man cries out “Oh my God, help me!” Suddenly the attack scene freezes in place. As the atheist hangs in mid air a voice from heaven says, “I thought you didn’t believe in Me!” “Come on God, give me a break!” the man pleads. “Two minutes ago I didn’t believe in the Loch Ness monster either!”

Billy Graham says, “Whenever anyone asks me how I can be so certain about who and what God really is, I’ m reminded of the story of the little boy who was out flying a kite. The wind was brisk and large billowing clouds were blowing across the sky. The kite went up and up until it was entirely hidden by the clouds, ‘What are you doing?’ a man asked the little boy. ‘I’m flying my kite,’ he replied. ‘Flying your kite?’ the man said. ‘How can you be sure? You can’t see the kite.’ ‘No,’ said the little boy, ‘I can’t see it, but every little while I feel a tug, so I know for sure it’s there!”‘

Don’t take anyone else’s word for it. Find God for yourself by inviting Jesus Christ into your life, Then you too will know by the warm, wonderful tug on your heartstrings that He’s there for sure, and that He lives in you.



THE WAY OF ESCAPE

God.. .will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13 NAS

In the wilderness temptation Satan offered Jesus 3 things. He also offers them to you:

(1 ) Satisfaction! Jesus was hungry and Satan tempted Him to turn stones into bread. But this was satisfaction without God, because God’s plan was to feed His Son supernaturally through angels. Jesus refused to settle for less—and so should you!

(2) Success! But it was success without God. Taking Jesus to the top of the temple, Satan said “Jump off, God will protect You and everyone will believe in You.” Success without the cross. Take the easy way out! And hasn’t Satan made you that same offer: “You don’t have to take up your cross. You don’t have to practice self-denial.” Satan lied then, and he’s lying to you now.

(3) Significance! Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of this world and their glory if He’d just bow down to him. What an offer. Significance without God! But Jesus rebuked him with a reminder from Scripture that God alone is worthy of being glorified.

Satan will take every legitimate desire you have and try to get you to fulfill it in an illegitimate way. But God “will provide the way of escape.” You say “I don’t see the way of escape.” That’s because you’re focused on the temptation instead of the way out. God’s promise of escape doesn’t mean you won’t have to persevere and be faithful to Him. And, as in the case of Christ, it involves knowing and being able to use the Scriptures. But it does mean that when God’s purpose of victory over temptation has been served, you’ll come out victorious !



GOD’S FAVOR

When God approves of your life, even your enemies will end up shaking your hand. -Proverbs 16:7 TM

You can’t please everybody all the time. And it’s a big mistake to try. Your constant need for approval can end up costing you God’s best. When you’re doing anything worthwhile, expect opposition from those who aren’t privy to God’s plan for your life. That goes with the turf. Notice, Jesus “made himself of no reputation” (Php 2:7). He wasn’t always well thought of by others, but He knew He had God’s approval—and that’s what mattered to Him!

In Proverbs 21: 1 Solomon says that just like changing the direction of a moving river, God can change hearts and give you favor with those who’d otherwise reject you. He also said, “When God approves of your life, even your enemies will end up shaking your hand.” Does that mean you won’t encounter opposition or people who disagree with you? No, but when you do, just concentrate on pleasing God and let Him deal with the fallout.

Remember, God takes up where you leave off. When you’ve exhausted all your efforts He can step in and open doors with the right people at just the right time. The truth is, He can get you a better job than you could get on your own, and give you blessings that, humanly speaking, you don’t deserve or qualify for. Just like the Holy Spirit enabled Jesus to fulfill His life’s mission (See Lk 4: 18-19), God will call, equip and enable you to fulfill His plan for your life. So stop trying so hard to make things happen on your terms, and begin praying for God’s favor!



“STAYING THE COURSE”

The testing of your faith produces endurance.    James 1:3             NAS

Endurance means “staying the course.” But endurance is only a word until you have to deal with a strife-torn marriage, the long road back from bankruptcy, divorce or illness, the rebuilding of your life, or the required preparation for success in any field. It takes commitment to keep going when friends fail you, discouragement whispers “give up,” and doubt says “it can’t be done.” That’s when endurance takes on new meaning. It becomes your anchor in the storm, your compass in times of confusion, and the head of steam that gets you up the next hill.

Remember, God knows when to discontinue a trial because its purpose has been fulfilled. And He gives us 2 great promises: (l) His comforting presence (See Isa 43:2-5). (2) The assurance that He won’t permit more pressure than we can handle (See I COR 10:13).

But there’s another reason—others are watching! Paul writes, “People are watching us as we stay at our post… working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness and honest love; when we’re telling the truth. when God’s showing His power; when we’re doing our best setting things right; when we’re praised, and when we’re blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God . . . immersed in tears yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all” (ICO 6:1-10 TM). That’s called “staying the course.”



WHAT ARE YOU DEPENDING ON?

There is a way that seems right to a man, but… it leads to death.  – Proverbs 14:12 NIV

There’s a broken rope on display at the Alpine Museum in Bern, Switzerland. It’s associated with a tragic story. Some climbers who scaled the Matterhorn roped themselves together for the return descent, but one slipped and dragged 3 others with him into an abyss. The other climbers braced for the shock on the rope that linked them together, expecting it to halt their companions’ fall. The tug came, but then to everyone’s horror the rope snapped, plunging their 4 friends to their death. Nobody knows why an inferior rope was used for such a hazardous venture, but they do know it wasn’t genuine Alpine Club rope ‘which was guaranteed and distinguished by a red strand running through it.

Just as reliable equipment is crucial in preparing for the life-and-death adventure of mountain climbing, it’s even more essential in preparing for the most important journey you’ll ever make; the one from here to eternity. And an “anything goes” attitude…loose connections to the church.. .casual claims that you’re doing your best.. .and fuzzy notions about God’s indulgence, won’t cut it. Solomon said, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but.. .it leads to death.”

Peter says: “Jesus is the only One who can save” (Ac 4:12 NCV). Assurance of a place in heaven comes only through accepting Jesus as your personal Savior, believing that He died for your sins and rose again to give you everlasting life. No more will be asked; no less will get you in. Today Jesus is waiting to save you—will you let Him?



BATTLING THE “WHAT IFS?’

Days… are made evil by anxious thoughts and forebodings.  -Proverbs 15:15 AMP

An old sea captain once asked a naval student how he’d handle a sudden storm. “I’d throw out an anchor, sir,” he replied. “But what if another storm approached?” asked the captain. “Then I’d throw out another anchor,” he said. “And what if storms just kept coming?” the old man asked. “I’d keep throwing out anchors,” said the student. “Hold on, son,” said the captain, “where are you getting all those anchors?” “From the same place you keep getting all those storms, sir,” came the reply!

When you’re in the thick of things, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the storm that’s raging inside you and start listening to the “what ifs.” What if the check doesn’t come on time.  or the stock loses value.. .or your mate walks out.. .or the test results are bad. The list is endless. And because Satan knows that “fear involves torment” (IJn 4:18 NKJV), he’ll keep pouring it on. If he can’t get you puffed up through pride he’ll try to bring you down through fear. It’s his best tool. But you don’t have to take it! Paul says, “Leave no room.. .for the devil [give no opportunity to him]” (Eph 4:27 AMP). Jesus told us not to be “fearful…intimidated.. .and unsettled” (Jn 14:27 AMP). Remember, “The days of the…afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances].”

Here’s the bottom line: God is utterly trustworthy.. .He  will… [fulfill His call by hallowing and keeping you]”  (1 Th 5:24 AMP). So, no matter how big your problem is today, keep trusting God—and He will bring you through!



MANIPULATIVE RELATIONSHIPS

Fear of man is a dangerous trap.  – Proverbs 29:25 TLB

When you enter any relationship, romantic, social, business or otherwise, be careful what you permit in the beginning because it’ll come to be expected. For example, if you have to buy someone’s friendship by letting them manipulate you, be prepared to keep paying. And don’t plan on changing them. Just think how difficult it is to change yourself —so what are your chances of changing somebody else? Decide now what you can live with later. And stop living like there’s no tomorrow—because tomorrow always comes! Solomon said, “Fear of man is a dangerous trap.” Relationships can’t thrive with one person calling all the shots while the other struggles for approval.

Paul said he had no interest in “trying to make people accept him.” His only interest was pleasing God. (See Gal 1: 10 NCV). God will never ask you to violate your values or disobey His will just to be in the good graces of another person. In fact, it’s better to be alone than to allow anyone other than God to control you. Let people know up front that while you’d like their approval you can live without it if you have to. Respect others, and make it clear you expect the same in return.

Above all, never let emotion win out over wisdom, or drown out the voice of God in your life. When you ‘re insecure you can be drawn into wrong relationships. Security is a fundamental part of your identity as God’s child. Paul says you “are God’s masterpiece.. .created.. .anew in Christ” (Eph 2: I () NIT). God wants you free to be who you are. That’s why when you ask Him to guide your relationships, He’ll help you to form the right ones.



GODLINESS

Remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first.  – Revelation 2:5 NAS

How do busy people living fast-paced and complicated lives develop the quality of godliness? By going to church? Billy Sunday said “Going to church will no more make you a Christian than going to a garage will make you an automobile.” Your environment—even a spiritual one—won’t necessarily make you godly.

Christ speaks to all of us: “Remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first.” Go back in your mind to your first days as a believer. Do you remember when (a) you talked about the Lord and it would fill your heart with delight; (b) prayer was exciting and you felt empowered as you spent time with Him; (c) the Bible was filled with soul-thrilling insights you’d never seen before; (d) sharing your faith with someone represented the highlight of your week; (e) your devotion to Christ was consistent, fulfilling,  enriching, deep? What happened? Do you feel like one of the Ephesian Christians Christ was speaking to?

Distance from God is a frightening thing—because you don’t even know it’s happening! Understand this: God will not accelerate His pace to catch up with ours; we need to slow down in order to get back into step with Him. God won’t speak to us during a commercial break on our favorite TV show. No, we must seek quietness so we can hear His still, small voice. God can’t be fitted into the framework of our complicated lives; we must put Him first and keep Him there, if our lives are to be characterized by that all-encompassing word—Godliness.



FOR WORKING PARENTS

Her children arise up, and call her blessed.  – Proverbs 31 :28

The story is told of a mother who came home from work after a long hard day. Her little girl ran out to greet her. “Mommy, wait until I tell you what happened today.” After listening to a few sentences her mother responded by indicating that the rest could wait as she needed to get dinner started. During the meal the phone rang, then other family members’ stories were longer and louder than the little girl’s. Once again she tried after the kitchen was cleaned and her brother’s homework questions were answered. But by then it was time for bed. When her mom came to tuck her in, the child looked up and asked, “Mommy, do you really love me, even when you don’t have time to listen to me?”

Are you a working parent coming home every night to a pile of household chores? Are your weekends hectic playing catch-up? Do you feel guilty about disciplining your children because your time with them is so limited? Do you fear they’re growing up without you? That soon the tables will be turned, and maybe one day they won’t have time for you?

Every working parent faces it, and it’s tough. But it’s not impossible. Talk about it to your child! You’d be amazed how much they understand. And make time to listen! Let your child know that they can talk to you any time, about anything, without having to be afraid, ashamed, or put off till later. And be sure to ask for God’s help. He’s “a very present help in trouble” (Ps 46:1).

If you practice these principles, one day your children may “Rise up and call you blessed.”



WINNING THE BIGGEST BATTLE OF ALL

Christ… is your example. Follow in his steps.  – 1 Peter 2:21 TLB

Richard Halverson writes: “Do you want to be a winner? Compete against yourself, not somebody else. Outrunning your rival doesn’t mean you ran your best race. You can win over another and still not fulfill your potential. To be your best you must compete with yourself. It’s life’s biggest contest. A loser is a winner—however many his losses, if he conquers himself. And a winner is a loser—however many his victories, if he loses in the battle with himself. Alexander the Great conquered the world, yet cursed his own lack of self-control. Victory over others may in fact be the very thing that contributes to the winner’s failure to conquer self. Winning makes him arrogant, independent, thoughtless—and sometimes cruel. To put it another way, it isn’t what happens to you that makes the difference, but how you handle it. The one who stops maturing spiritually because he thinks he knows more scripture than others, or has more success in ministry, is still far from being what Christ has planned for him.”

If you must compare yourself with another, compare yourself with Christ. “Christ.. .is your example. Follow in his steps: he never sinned, never told a lie, never answered back when insulted; when he suffered he did not threaten to get even; he left his case in the hands of God who always judges fairly (IPe 2:21-23 TLB). Go ahead, measure yourself by that standard! And when you see how far short you fall, get down on your knees and ask God to mold and fashion your life into the full potential, the divine original He intended. Do that, and you can win the biggest battle of all!




 

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