10 minutes could save you . . .

There’s a popular insurance ad that reads, “15 minutes could save you 15 percent or more on car insurance.” It’s sales tactic is simple, take some time out of your day and explore the possibility of . . . Think of the time it would take!

Only 15 minutes!

That’s not a lot of time. And you could save money too! This advertisement has become somewhat known in America and I’m sure many parts of the world. It’s tactic is brilliant.

So I’d like to use it.

But let’s shorten it. Let’s say ten. What could you do with ten minutes? You could aimlessly surf the internet, chat with a friend, play a Sudoku game – I’m running out, so think of something that you would do in a 10 minute window of time. You probably come across these once or twice a day. You know, that random time between appointments. What do you do with it?

I don’t know what your schedule is like. Or what you face every day. But I would challenge you, take 10 minutes every day, and invest it. Do something eternally profitable.

For instance, if you struggle with laziness – take ten minutes every day to suppress your sin nature. Do that thing that you’ve been putting off for some odd days. You may not be able to finish it, but start. And start again day 2- for ten minutes.

If you’ve noticed that worry or anxiety has been stressing you out, take ten minutes. And spend it in constant prayer. Take that time to turn your eyes heavenward. God promises that he will keep you in peace if you keep your eyes on Him.

If you’ve been feeling distant from God. Take ten minutes and spend it in His Word. Flip through proverbs, or psalms, or wherever the Spirit takes you and learn from Him. And then do it day 2. And so forth.

If you’re like me, you’ve spent more than ten minutes surfing the internet, or having a long conversation with a friend. It flies by doesn’t it? Not very much time. Take that time and invest it in God’s eternal kingdom, and you will be amazed at what He does with it.

I challenge you, take 10 minutes. Every day. And watch your world change

 

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Will you stand in judgment?

Psalm 1 is a beautiful description of the righteous man. This servant of God, has nothing to do with sin. Not in his lifestyle, partial participation, or even occasional activity. He desires and delights in God and in His law. Because of His obedience and desire for God, he stands tall and brings forth fruit while others fall away.

Because of his innate strength gained from God’s blessing, he will remain when the wicked pass away. After the Psalm mentions the ungodly falling away  like chaff, verse 5 says, “Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.” This seems to imply that the righteous man will stand in the judgment and in the congregation of the righteous.

But what does it mean to stand in judgment? Is God saying that the wicked won’t be judged? Obviously not. In this passage, I believe standing in judgment means to stand as a judge. As 1 Corinthians 6:2 says, “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” God will appoint people to be judges when he returns, and the wicked will not fill those positions.

In contrast, the man who delights in God and lives rightly, will. It’s easy to live the Christian life, sinning without care and repenting later. After all, once you’re right with God the slate’s clean? Right? Well, not really. There will always be the consequences of your actions. You will have negative effects from your sin, and so will others.

Our lives must be lived for Christ to have maximum influence. Someday our lives will be over, and we may very well see the impact of every thought or deed we have produced. It may be that even though we are saved, we may not be counted worthy to judge very much in the next life. As Christians we must focus on the eternal. Our lives are too short and precious to be lived for ourselves. I challenge you, be like the righteous man in Psalm 1 who completely shuns evil. You will see how much God can produce through your life. You will stand in judgment- and in the congregation of the righteous.

It works while you sleep . . .

Imagine if you could benefit yourself while you sleep. I mean, other than just rejuvenating your body. Imagine if you had a way to benefit yourself spiritually while you slept. That would be pretty amazing right? Well, I’m not going to try to tell you about playing audio books of the gospels or anything. I’d like to share something with you found in Proverbs 6:22.

It says, “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother . . .  When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.”

Notice the second verse, it tells us that obeying the wise instruction of our parents will, lead us and show us the way. It will guard us when we sleep. And it will communicate with us when we awake.

The Bible tells us that if we will pay attention to the wisdom and commands of our parents we can gain all these benefits. One of them, is being protected while we sleep. I interpret, “When thou sleepest, it shall keep thee.” as referring to protecting your thought life even while you sleep. But it could have other interpretations. It could mean that the wise choices that wisdom helps you make in the day indirectly bring physical protection to you. Or it could be referring to a direct supernatural protection from God that comes from being in His will.

Whatever the protection is, it must be something good.

So I challenge you, “Keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.” If you do these things and treasure the wisdom of your parents, God promises that you will prosper and reap His blessings- even while you sleep!

Am I therefore become your enemy?

In Galatians 4, Paul is confronting the Christians in Galatia about their view of the law. Apparently, some Jews had persisted in the idea that salvation still required obedience to the rules and regulations of the law. These Jews thought they had to earn their salvation! God made it abundantly clear that no one ever earned their salvation, not even Abraham, and Paul was trying to tell them.

In the middle of Paul’s letter he exclaims, “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” – Galatians 4:16

There are times in each our lives when we must feel what Paul may have felt when he was trying to teach these new Christians. When our friends make wrong choices and we wish to help, and they turn on us, not realizing that we wished only to spare them from harm.

No matter what happens or how a person reacts, when you speak the truth to them in love, you are never their enemy. Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Even the Bible suggest that the truth hurts, but it tells us that it will set us free.

So my friend, don’t ever shirk from telling the truth to a friend when they need it. Be kind in the way you tell them, but if the truth is required, then give it. A doctor knows that telling a patient of his disease will “hurt” him, but he also knows that if they use the truth he gives, then they will  have healing.

You cannot control how a person reacts to the truth. They may reject it, but you should not withhold good when it is in your power to do it. Your duty is to love them. A misdiagnosis would make a patient feel better, but it is not love.

Telling someone the truth may feel like you’re becoming their enemy, but that is not the case. Sharing the truth out of love is only the work of a true friend.

 

Choking on lemon pie

I was watching an old western the other day. This cowboy was trying to encourage some men to volunteer for a dangerous job. One particular man queried, “But is that job really safe?” The first cowboy declared, “Safe? Who knows what’s safe? My grandmother fought the Indians for forty years and then choked to death on lemon pie!” The statement made me chuckle, but when I was reading through Proverbs, I realized that that ficticious cowboy may have more wisdom than I originally gave him credit for.

Proverbs 21:31 says, “The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the Lord.” In Biblical times, the horse was a great asset in battle. A warrior on horseback was almost sure to win against a warrior on foot. If your horse was prepared, then you had a good chance of a fair outcome in battle.

But the idea of preparation is in contrast to the statement: Safety is of the Lord.

Haven’t you ever been completely and totally prepared, but for some reason everything went wrong. Your equipment refused to work, your tools broke, and your knowledge failed you. We’ve all been there. You can have all the preparation in the world, but only God can keep you safe. You can lock your doors at night, but a thief can break through. You can prove yourself to be an amazing worker, but your job is never truly secure. You can save up all the money you want, but real security can never lie with uncertain riches.

Safety is of the Lord.

God has given us many gifts, and He expects us to use them to His glory. Perhaps it is wise to lock your door at night. Yes, you should work hard and gain job security. You should save for those times of financial trouble. But none of those things can keep you safe. Only the Lord can give true safety.

So I challenge you, next time you go to lock a door, or contribute to a nest egg, or prepare yourself in any other way, remember where your true safety lies. God is the one who truly protects you. To trust in anything or anyone else is pure folly.

So to answer that old cowboy, “Who knows what’s safe?” I know what’s safe. Serving God and trusting Him with my security is the safest thing there is.

“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.” – Psalm 20:7

Who reads Leviticus?

When was the last time you were reading through Leviticus and you got passionate about God? Or Deuteronomy? Do you spend all your time thinking about the burnt offerings or the sacrifices that Israel had to make? Maybe you do, but if you are like most Christians I know, you’re probably thinking, Are you kidding me? Those are the boring books. Who does their devotions in Leviticus?

Honestly, that’s been my attitude for the majority of my life. And I’m ashamed of how I’ve despised the Word of God. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that, all scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness; that every part of the Bible is useful for the maturing of the man of God. But, most of us would have to admit that our actions and attitudes toward some parts of the Bible declare our scorn for God’s Word.

David was a man after God’s own heart. He pursued God. He loved God. He wanted to serve Him. In the Psalms, David wrote, O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day. Psalm 119:97

You might object that he liked it because He was under the law and we aren’t. But realize, David understood that the law was only a shadow. In Psalm 51 he wrote, For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. David knew that the law was not an end in of itself. He understood that the heart of God was more than regulations, yet he loved God’s regulations just the same.

One more thought, if we think that some parts of the Bible are boring, do we meditate on the parts of the Bible we think are more interesting? I know I don’t. I fail every day.

Do you spend time meditating on the Word of God? Do you love the Word of God? Do you spend time in the Old Testament? God tells us that the people in the Old Testament were recorded so that we could learn from them. I challenge you, as I challenge myself, take the time to meditate on Scripture today. Maybe even flip back to the Pentatuch or one of those weirdly named prophets. Take a chance, read through an Old Testament book. Ask God to teach you something through His Word. Ask God to help you love His Word more.

Try it and you won’t regret it, I have no doubt.

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. Psalm 119:65

If your pride helps you do good, is it still wrong?

Pride is an interesting thing. Do you know that pride can actually motivate you to good works? It can! It’s happened in my life several times. Let me explain . . .

In the past, I’ve realized that I have a problem. (such as laziness) Then, instead of repenting with "sackcloth and ashes" and asking God to help me, I decide, "I’m gonna fix this problem!" I set up standards. I make decisions. I enforce resolutions on myself. I will work hard. I will not procrastinate. I will . . .

You see, I decided to fix the problem, without God’s help. It’s not on purpose, but in my heart, I think that I can handle this. Pretty soon, I’m failing at life. I’m no longer procrastinating, but I’m not finding much joy in anything either, and I’m not growing closer to God. In reality, I decided to change, not because I wanted to serve God, but because I wanted to have a good opinion of myself. My actions are feeding my pride and not glorifying God. When I get the sense that God isn’t fully pleased, I’m like, "What’s wrong God? I fixed the problem! I’m trying to serve you! I’m working hard. Why do I feel like I don’t have your blessing?"

I’ve used my fleshly pride to work against my fleshly action of laziness and in the end, I’ve effectively just traded sins. That’s not gonna please God. I’m still in sin. Serving God out of pride is sin just like any other sin.

Have you ever wondered how the Pharisees managed to obey so many of their made up rules? They served God out of pride.

In Luke 18, God tells a story of a Pharisee and a publican. The Pharisee served God according to the outward showing of obedience, but in his heart he was prideful. The publican was humble about his faults. In verse 14, God says of the publican, "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."

How about you? Do you serve God out of pride? Are you "proud" of all the holy things you do? Or are you humbly seeking a true relationship with your Savior?

I would submit to you, God is not interested in righteous acts that come from an unrighteous heart.

Humble yourself. Ask God to help you. Seek to know God and grow close to Him. He is the one that can change you so that your life will please Him.

After all, It’s God that works in us, both to will and to do, of His good pleasure. (Phil 2:13)

Praying to be persecuted?

As Christians, we often like to think things of our God that are not really correct. For instance, most Christians around the world do not consider religious persecution a good thing. But in fact, the Christians enduring persecution around the world often consider persecution a blessing. They ask for prayer, not to stop the persecution, but that God would give them strength to endure. Sometimes, they even pray that God would send persecution to places such as America so that the apathetic church would be purified.

You see, our perspective is not always right. Our thoughts, are not God’s thoughts. He is higher. He is greater. His understanding is so vastly greater that we can’t always fathom what goes on in the mind of God. Sometimes, we think that a worldly perspective of an "easy" time is a good idea. This isn’t exactly right.

Psalm 34:19 says, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous." We might look at that verse and be taken aback. Aren’t the righteous those who are serving God? Why would God allow them to have affliction? Doesn’t that sound inconsistent with God’s love for His people? From our perspective perhaps, but we don’t have the full picture. In fact, I didn’t even quote the whole verse.

The rest of the verse says, "But the Lord delivereth him out of them all." God will not leave His people in affliction. He won’t forget them. He’s right there with them. He allows it for a purpose. When God allows affliction in our lives, and then delivers us out of it, we get to see his kindness. Imagine how much affliction He protects us from! Also, The troubles of this life act like a refiners fire to make us stronger.

Like Paul said in Romans, "We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;" – Romans 5:3

There’s no substitute for . . .

Many years ago, a famous American general, Douglas MacArthur spoke. He said over and over again, "There is no substitute for victory." He was speaking about how someone should wage war. In the Christian life, we are in a war against the world, our flesh, and the devil. Our warfare is not carnal, but it is just as real.

In our Christian lives, there is no substitute for truth.

In John 17, Jesus is praying to the Father. He is praying for us! He prays that we would remain in the world, but that we would be separate from them. His plan is revealed in the plea to the Father in verse 17, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth."

In short, Jesus prayed that we would remain in the world, but that His Holy Word, would continue to cleanse us and set us apart for service. That truth He was speaking of is the Bible. God’s Word is essential to the Christian life.

We need God’s Word to permeate our lives, and cleanse us and make us new. God’s Word is our lifeline. Fellow Christian, I would challenge you, realize that there is no substitute for truth. There is no substitute for God’s Word. If we are to succeed in our lives, we need God’s Word. As a Christian, you cannot substitute God’s Word with people’s advice, psychology, or even Godly devotionals. God’s Word is the only thing that can sanctify us for His service.

Won’t you spend time in God’s truth today?

The things of God

Remember being a little kid and wanting to understand something that your parents or another adult was doing? You may have tried to figure out what to do, but epically failed. You had seen them do it before, and you understood a little, but not much at all. In order for you to understand adult things, as a little kid, you needed an adult to explain things to you. Our relationship with God is just like that. If we want to understand the things of God, we must receive and operate in the Holy Spirit that God has provided for us.

1 Corinthians 2:11 says, "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." In short this verse is saying, just like only humans understand human things, only God understands His things. It says in order for us to understand the things of God, we must be using the Spirit of God. If Paul ended with that, we would have no hope, but he continues.

In the next verse he says, "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God." He says we have received this spirit so we could know what God has given us. You see, we can’t understand any thing that pertains to God unless we are using the Spirit which He has provided. So knowing that, we cannot use our natural human spirit (understanding) to understand and explain and learn from the Bible. We must ask God to give us the Spirit He has provided so we can understand.

Think about when you became saved. You probably were not studying the Bible like a textbook. Or maybe you were. But at some moment you began to realize that the Holy Spirit was working on your heart. You could have rejected His leading, and tried to think up how you could be saved through logic, but you didn’t, you allowed Him to convict you, (he used emotions) and you allowed him to explain to you, (logically, through a person or a Bible or both) and you responded. You see, God uses logic and emotions, but they must be in their proper place. If we try to put them above the understanding that comes from the Holy Spirit, they are not in the right place, and we will not be able to understand the things of God.

I would like to challenge you. Next time you read your Bible, ask God to help you understand it. Don’t try to figure out the Bible in your own head. You can’t. You can’t know God stuff without God explaining it to you. God wants to explain His blessings to you through His Holy Spirit. He says that he has offered His spirit to us. Why? So, "we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. " Do you want to understand everything God has given you? Ask God to start explaining!

"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. " – 1 Corinthians 2:10