1 Corinthians 16:13-14 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Be alert, stand firm in the faith, act like a man, be strong. Your every action must be done with love.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Be alert, stand firm in the faith, act like a man, be strong. Your every action must be done with love.
Psalm 35:9-10 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Then I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will delight in His deliverance.
My very bones will say,
“Lord, who is like You,
rescuing the poor from one too strong for him,
the poor or the needy from one who robs him?”
Proverbs 22:29 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Do you see a man skilled in his work?
He will stand in the presence of kings.
He will not stand in the presence of unknown men.
Matthew 19:16-22 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Just then someone came up and asked Him, “Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?”
“Why do you ask Me about what is good?” He said to him. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
“Which ones?” he asked Him. Jesus answered:
Do not murder;
do not commit adultery;
do not steal;
do not bear false witness;
honor your father and your mother;
and love your neighbor as yourself.
“I have kept all these,” the young man told Him. “What do I still lack?”
“If you want to be perfect,” Jesus said to him, “go, sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”
When the young man heard that command, he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.
Hosea 3:4-5 Holman Christian Standard Bible
For the Israelites must live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, and without ephod or household idols. Afterward, the people of Israel will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come with awe to the Lord and to His goodness in the last days.
Psalm 35:4-8 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Let those who seek to kill me
be disgraced and humiliated;
let those who plan to harm me
be turned back and ashamed.
Let them be like chaff in the wind,
with the angel of the Lord driving them away.
Let their way be dark and slippery,
with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.
They hid their net for me without cause;
they dug a pit for me without cause.
Let ruin come on him unexpectedly,
and let the net that he hid ensnare him;
let him fall into it—to his ruin.
John 2:13-22 Holman Christian Standard Bible
The Jewish Passover was near, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple complex He found people selling oxen, sheep, and doves, and He also found the money changers sitting there. After making a whip out of cords, He drove everyone out of the temple complex with their sheep and oxen. He also poured out the money changers’ coins and overturned the tables. He told those who were selling doves, “Get these things out of here! Stop turning My Father’s house into a marketplace!”
And His disciples remembered that it is written: Zeal for Your house will consume Me.
So the Jews replied to Him, “What sign of authority will You show us for doing these things?”
Jesus answered, “Destroy this sanctuary, and I will raise it up in three days.”
Therefore the Jews said, “This sanctuary took 46 years to build, and will You raise it up in three days?”
But He was speaking about the sanctuary of His body. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this. And they believed the Scripture and the statement Jesus had made.
2 Samuel 22:7-16 Holman Christian Standard Bible
I called to the Lord in my distress;
I called to my God.
From His temple He heard my voice,
and my cry for help reached His ears.
Then the earth shook and quaked;
the foundations of the heavens trembled;
they shook because He burned with anger.
Smoke rose from His nostrils,
and consuming fire came from His mouth;
coals were set ablaze by it.
He parted the heavens and came down,
a dark cloud beneath His feet.
He rode on a cherub and flew,
soaring on the wings of the wind.
He made darkness a canopy around Him,
a gathering of water and thick clouds.
From the radiance of His presence,
flaming coals were ignited.
The Lord thundered from heaven;
the Most High projected His voice.
He shot arrows and scattered them;
He hurled lightning bolts and routed them.
The depths of the sea became visible,
the foundations of the world were exposed
at the rebuke of the Lord,
at the blast of the breath of His nostrils.
Psalm 35:1-3 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Oppose my opponents, Lord;
fight those who fight me.
Take Your shields—large and small—
and come to my aid.
Draw the spear and javelin against my pursuers,
and assure me: “I am your deliverance.”
1 Samuel 17:45-47 Holman Christian Standard Bible
David said to the Philistine: “You come against me with a dagger, spear, and sword, but I come against you in the name of Yahweh of Hosts, the God of Israel’s armies—you have defied Him. Today, the Lord will hand you over to me. Today, I’ll strike you down, cut your head off, and give the corpses of the Philistine camp to the birds of the sky and the creatures of the earth. Then all the world will know that Israel has a God, and this whole assembly will know that it is not by sword or by spear that the Lord saves, for the battle is the Lord’s. He will hand you over to us.”
John 17:1-5 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Jesus spoke these things, looked up to heaven, and said:
the hour has come.
Glorify Your Son
so that the Son may glorify You,
for You gave Him authority
over all flesh;
so He may give eternal life
to all You have given Him.
This is eternal life:
that they may know You, the only true God,
and the One You have sent—Jesus Christ.
I have glorified You on the earth
by completing the work You gave Me to do.
Now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence
with that glory I had with You
before the world existed.
Psalm 34:19-22 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Many adversities come to the one who is righteous,
but the Lord delivers him from them all.
He protects all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
Evil brings death to the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be punished.
The Lord redeems the life of His servants,
and all who take refuge in Him will not be punished.
In everyone’s life, there comes a time when you will be asked to step up and lead. You may find yourself leading a small committee at church or be asked to be part of a pastor search committee or maybe lead a sports team. Whatever the event or situation, someone or a group will come up to you and ask you to lead. The person or group will tell you that they believe you are the right person to lead. How will you respond?
In most cases, people try to politely decline the offer and tell the person or group that they are too busy to do whatever is needed, much less have the skills to lead. But, the request keeps coming back. They will tell you that you have what it takes and all of the skills that are necessary. However, people still, like trying to dodge jury duty, give more and more excuses. Suppose God called you to do something. What would your response be to Him? Would you give Him the same excuses and reasons why you shouldn’t be a leader?
Moses, when told by God to go to Pharaoh to order him to release the Hebrew children, gave three distinct excuses to God. God, through a burning bush, tells Moses to go to Egypt and command Pharaoh to release His children from captivity. Instead of accepting the mantle of leadership and acting as God’s messenger, Moses proceeds to give God a long list of excuses of why he shouldn’t go.
Moses tells God that he’s a nobody and no one, not even the elders, would believe that he was sent by Him.
In chapter three of the Book of Exodus, God responds, “I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.”
Notice the first thing God tells Moses. He tells him that he would not be alone. As a leader, God is always with us. When called to action and to lead, God will never just give you a task and send you alone to do it. He will be right there with you and provide you with wisdom and guidance throughout the entirety of the mission.
When I was asked to participate in the pastor search committee of my church, many told me that this was one of the most emotionally draining tasks that a church member could possibly take on. It was. For me, it was emotionally and spiritually draining. There were many times when I broke down in tears and looked to God for help. I sought spiritual guidance from the dearest and, I would argue, the best pastor who served God, Brother Joe Broadway. I spent time with him and his dear wife, Johnnie, praying, listening and asking God to speak the words I needed to make the right decision.
Instead of accepting God’s answer, Moses gave God another excuse, “What if they won’t believe me or listen to me? What if they say, ‘The Lord never appeared to you’?”
God equipped Moses by giving him a miracle of turning his staff into a serpent. God not only was going to be with him but He equipped Moses with the tools necessary to complete the mission. In addition to that, God gave Moses the ability to change his hand from healthy to diseased and back again. You would think that Moses would eagerly lead and speak for God. Not a chance.
Once again, Moses, instead of doing what he was told, gave another excuse, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”
By this time, God was angry with Moses and said to him, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he speaks well. And look! He is on his way to meet you now. He will be delighted to see you. Talk to him, and put the words in his mouth. I will be with both of you as you speak, and I will instruct you both in what to do. Aaron will be your spokesman to the people. He will be your mouthpiece, and you will stand in the place of God for him, telling him what to say. And take your shepherd’s staff with you, and use it to perform the miraculous signs I have shown you.”
The lesson is very simple. God will never let you walk alone as a leader. He will equip you and will give you the words to say. When God picks you for something, you should never feel that you won’t be able to complete the task or mission. He will see to that.
But, we, like Moses, will say the same thing, “Lord, please! Send anyone else.”
Instead of stepping up and taking the leadership role as directed by God, we will ask God to send or pick someone else. If there is one thing I learned as a member of any church committee and being a deacon chairperson, you will never make a mistake or let anyone down as long as you follow God’s guidance and heed His words of wisdom. God will lead you and you will lead as His representative.
After Moses’ death, God chose another to lead His children, Joshua. Joshua knew that he had big shoes to fill. Moses, after all, led the children through the desert and brought them to the edge of the Promised Land. He, with God’s guidance and wisdom, got them there and now God chose Joshua to take them into the Promised Land.
In chapter one of the Book of Joshua, God gave Joshua words of encouragement and advice, “Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Look at the very last thing God said to Joshua. No matter where you go, God will be with you every step of the way. With God right there with you, you don’t have to be afraid or discouraged. All you have to do is be strong and courageous and let God do the rest. To borrow a few words from Paul, if God is for us, who can be against us?
Do not let your first response be an excuse. Use the words of Samuel, when God spoke to him, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”
When you are chosen to represent God, be confident, brave and know that God is there with you. With Him leading you, you most assuredly will stand firm in His grace.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
John 20:24-29 Holman Christian Standard Bible
But one of the Twelve, Thomas (called “Twin”), was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples kept telling him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “If I don’t see the mark of the nails in His hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe!”
After eight days His disciples were indoors again, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace to you!”
Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and observe My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer.”
Thomas responded to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed.”
John 10:25-30 Holman Christian Standard Bible
“I did tell you and you don’t believe,” Jesus answered them. “The works that I do in My Father’s name testify about Me. But you don’t believe because you are not My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”
Psalm 34:15-18 Holman Christian Standard Bible
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and His ears are open to their cry for help.
The face of the Lord is set
against those who do what is evil,
to erase all memory of them from the earth.
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
and delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is near the brokenhearted;
He saves those crushed in spirit.
Romans 5:6-8 Holman Christian Standard Bible
For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!
Deuteronomy 15:7-11 Holman Christian Standard Bible
“If there is a poor person among you, one of your brothers within any of your gates in the land the Lord your God is giving you, you must not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Instead, you are to open your hand to him and freely loan him enough for whatever need he has. Be careful that there isn’t this wicked thought in your heart, ‘The seventh year, the year of canceling debts, is near,’ and you are stingy toward your poor brother and give him nothing. He will cry out to the Lord against you, and you will be guilty. Give to him, and don’t have a stingy heart when you give, and because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you do. For there will never cease to be poor people in the land; that is why I am commanding you, ‘You must willingly open your hand to your afflicted and poor brother in your land.’
Psalm 34:11-14 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Come, children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Who is the man who delights in life,
loving a long life to enjoy what is good?
Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from deceitful speech.
Turn away from evil and do what is good;
seek peace and pursue it.
James 4:11-12 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Don’t criticize one another, brothers. He who criticizes a brother or judges his brother criticizes the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
Hebrews 6:9-12 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Even though we are speaking this way, dear friends, in your case we are confident of the better things connected with salvation. For God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you showed for His name when you served the saints—and you continue to serve them. Now we want each of you to demonstrate the same diligence for the final realization of your hope, so that you won’t become lazy but will be imitators of those who inherit the promises through faith and perseverance.
Psalm 34:8-10 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
How happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!
You who are His holy ones, fear Yahweh,
for those who fear Him lack nothing.
Young lions lack food and go hungry,
but those who seek the Lord
will not lack any good thing.
2 Peter 1:1-4 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Simeon Peter, a slave and an apostle of Jesus Christ:
To those who have obtained a faith of equal privilege with ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.
May grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires.
1 Samuel 2:1-11 Holman Christian Standard Bible
My heart rejoices in the Lord;
my horn is lifted up by the Lord.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
because I rejoice in Your salvation.
There is no one holy like the Lord.
There is no one besides You!
And there is no rock like our God.
Do not boast so proudly,
or let arrogant words come out of your mouth,
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and actions are weighed by Him.
The bows of the warriors are broken,
but the feeble are clothed with strength.
Those who are full hire themselves out for food,
but those who are starving hunger no more.
The woman who is childless gives birth to seven,
but the woman with many sons pines away.
The Lord brings death and gives life;
He sends some to Sheol, and He raises others up.
The Lord brings poverty and gives wealth;
He humbles and He exalts.
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the garbage pile.
He seats them with noblemen
and gives them a throne of honor.
For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s;
He has set the world on them.
He guards the steps of His faithful ones,
but the wicked perish in darkness,
for a man does not prevail by his own strength.
Those who oppose the Lord will be shattered;
He will thunder in the heavens against them.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth.
He will give power to His king;
He will lift up the horn of His anointed.
Elkanah went home to Ramah, but the boy served the Lord in the presence of Eli the priest.
Psalm 34:4-7 Holman Christian Standard Bible
I sought the Lord, and He answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to Him are radiant with joy;
their faces will never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him from all his troubles.
The Angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear Him, and rescues them.
"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
In the 1984 movie "Footloose" we enjoyed watching actor Kevin Bacon doing some amazing dancing. The movie was about a teenager who had moved to a new town where dancing was not allowed. He and his friends set about changing the minds of the adults, getting them to understand that young people wanted to dance and have fun.
Interesting fact, Kevin Bacon himself has said, "I can't dance." In large portions of the movie, the dancing was done by stunt doubles. Although that may not be surprising, it is much more fun to envision that he was the one that performed all the fancy moves.
It is easy for us to look at people around us and assume that all is well in their worlds. Certain folks just seem to have smooth lives with everything going their way. They seemingly have no difficulties and it is easy to begin to envy them. But we cannot know all that they deal with and things may not be as wonderful as they appear.
You may be surprised to know that someone else may look at your life that way. You know the truth though. You know what you struggle with each day. How hard you have to work for the money you make. The tears you shed and how you plead in your prayers. Although you may not show it to others, you have days when you wonder how to take the next step.
When God created us, He made us individuals, each with our own talents, gifts, and paths to tread. His perfect plan was for us to come to Him, accept Jesus as our Savior and live our lives according to His direction. He knows the hardships we will face and promised to walk with us through them.
When we spend our time comparing ourselves to others we fail to see the blessings that He designed just for us. In coveting the life someone else has we are basically telling the Lord that we disapprove of the work He has done in our own lives.
We all struggle with something. Be it financial, health related, wayward children, addiction, depression, or the myriad of other issues, no one's road is free of obstacles. Those obstacles, though, can drive us closer to Him and reveal His grace and mercy.
No matter how it appears, no one has a perfect life. But we do serve a perfect God who has a perfect plan for you and for me. By staying close to His side, we will experience His perfect love in miraculous ways and become more and more grateful for the path He is leading us down.
May His presence reassure us all as we deal with what is before us.
John 4:39-42 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Now many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of what the woman said when she testified, “He told me everything I ever did.” Therefore, when the Samaritans came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them, and He stayed there two days. Many more believed because of what He said. And they told the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this really is the Savior of the world.”
Psalm 34:1-3 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Concerning David, when he pretended to be insane in the presence of Abimelech, who drove him out, and he departed.
I will praise the Lord at all times;
His praise will always be on my lips.
I will boast in the Lord;
the humble will hear and be glad.
Proclaim Yahweh’s greatness with me;
let us exalt His name together.
Romans 4:13-17 Holman Christian Standard Bible
For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would inherit the world was not through the law, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. If those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made empty and the promise is canceled. For the law produces wrath. And where there is no law, there is no transgression.
This is why the promise is by faith, so that it may be according to grace, to guarantee it to all the descendants—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of Abraham’s faith. He is the father of us all in God’s sight. As it is written: I have made you the father of many nations. He believed in God, who gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist.
Acts 15:22-29 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Then the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, decided to select men who were among them and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas: Judas, called Barsabbas, and Silas, both leading men among the brothers. They wrote this letter to be delivered by them:
From the apostles and the elders, your brothers,
To the brothers among the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:
Because we have heard that some without our authorization went out from us and troubled you with their words and unsettled your hearts, we have unanimously decided to select men and send them to you along with our dearly loved Barnabas and Paul, who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who will personally report the same things by word of mouth. For it was the Holy Spirit’s decision—and ours—to put no greater burden on you than these necessary things: that you abstain from food offered to idols, from blood, from eating anything that has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. You will do well if you keep yourselves from these things.
Psalm 33:20-22 Holman Christian Standard Bible
We wait for Yahweh;
He is our help and shield.
For our hearts rejoice in Him
because we trust in His holy name.
May Your faithful love rest on us, Yahweh,
for we put our hope in You.
Ephesians 4:11-16 Holman Christian Standard Bible
And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ. From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.
Psalm 33:18-19 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Now the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him—
those who depend on His faithful love
to deliver them from death
and to keep them alive in famine.
I am a big fan of the American television classic, “The Twilight Zone”. This program didn’t fit into science fiction or the horror genre. I would say that it fits into its own little niche. It aired from 1959 to 1964. No matter who I talk to, everyone knows this iconic television program and everyone has their own favorite episode or episodes. Like the others, I, too, have my favorites.
My favorite episodes fall into the category of being thought-provoking and would often lead to discussions regarding the choices made by the central character. One such episode starred the late, great actor, Burgess Meredith. He played a book-loving bank teller, Henry Bemis, who found himself the sole survivor of a nuclear war. In the course of this particular show, he wandered the ruins of his neighborhood trying to find his wife or anyone for that matter. All life was gone and he had nothing left to do.
In his despair, he looked up and saw the public library. As a lover of books, he found his purpose in the post-nuclear war. He finally had all the time in the world to read. He planned out his days, weeks, months and even years by organizing books in thoughtfully-planned stacks.
As he holds one of his books, he says, “And the best thing, the very best thing of all, is there's time now... there's all the time I need and all the time I want. Time, time, time. There's time enough at last.”
If you haven’t seen this episode, I won’t spoil it for you. Through a horrible accident, he loses his special gift of time.
In tears, he says his last lines, “That's not fair. That's not fair at all. There was time now. There was, was all the time I needed…”
Like Mr. Bemis, we all believe we have time to do one thing or another. Instead of doing those things, we, for whatever reason, put them off and believe that we have all the time in the world. But, there will come that moment when time runs out and we are left, like Mr. Bemis, lamenting the loss of our special gift of time.
The decision to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord often falls into this category of getting to it later in life. We make a conscious decision to postpone the most important event of our life and tell ourselves that we will have time later. Sometimes though, later never comes.
Of all the decisions we put off, this one is the single event you can’t push to another day, week, month or even year. One day, the trumpet will sound and there will be no more time. Or, you may be involved in some sort of accident and be unable to make that important decision. In whichever case, time is no more.
Paul, in chapter five of his first epistle to the Thessalonians, writes, “For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. When people are saying, ‘Everything is peaceful and secure,’ then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape.”
The worst things seem to come up unexpectedly in our lives. No one really plans for illnesses or accidents. They just happen and often with little or no warning. We are caught by surprise and have to improvise our way out of them. In some cases, there are no paths out of them. We can try to mitigate the situations, but there may come a time when all of the things we do may not save us.
When it comes to our salvation, it is different. We all know the story of Jesus and why he came to live among us. But, we often just hear the words rather than truly listen to them. We put off the decision to accept Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord of our lives. We tell ourselves that we have time to consider it. But, that is not always the case. We have to be ready for that moment when we either close our eyes in death or when we hear the trumpet sound and Judgment Day is upon us.
Paul, later in chapter five, writes, “But you aren’t in the dark about these things, dear brothers and sisters, and you won’t be surprised when the day of the Lord comes like a thief. For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded. Night is the time when people sleep and drinkers get drunk. But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.”
As Christians, we must be ready at all times for Jesus’ return. For those who haven’t made a decision, time is running out. Like King Belshazzar in chapter five of the Book of Daniel, we see the handwriting on the wall. The warning signs are there for all to see. Famine, war, pestilence, disease and death are taking the lives of millions of people.
When you stand before the Father on Judgment Day, will you find yourself short when you have been measured, weighed and divided? Don’t put off your decision a moment longer. There is a voice softly and tenderly speaking to you right now and that voice is asking to come into your heart and change your entire life. Are you going to act or put your decision off again?
There is never enough time in our lives. I have held the hands of a number of people who honestly thought they had more time to do one thing or another. One of those things was to have a relationship with the Lord. I have prayed over those who have come to the end of their lives and didn’t make that decision in their lives. I pray that you aren’t one of them.
Accept Jesus into your life today and begin that daily walk of righteousness. Follow his example and obey the will of the Father. I can tell you this. You will be happier and lead a life full of joy and peace. Take this time to ask God to forgive you of your sins. Once you ask for forgiveness, you will receive the gift of eternal life with the Father and can stand firm in His grace daily.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
John 1:29-34 Holman Christian Standard Bible
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the One I told you about: ‘After me comes a man who has surpassed me, because He existed before me.’ I didn’t know Him, but I came baptizing with water so He might be revealed to Israel.”
And John testified, “I watched the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He rested on Him. I didn’t know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The One you see the Spirit descending and resting on—He is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and testified that He is the Son of God!”
Daniel 3:28-29 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent His angel and rescued His servants who trusted in Him. They violated the king’s command and risked their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I issue a decree that anyone of any people, nation, or language who says anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will be torn limb from limb and his house made a garbage dump. For there is no other god who is able to deliver like this.”
Psalm 33:13-17 Holman Christian Standard Bible
The Lord looks down from heaven;
He observes everyone.
He gazes on all the inhabitants of the earth
from His dwelling place.
He alone shapes their hearts;
He considers all their works.
A king is not saved by a large army;
a warrior will not be delivered by great strength.
The horse is a false hope for safety;
it provides no escape by its great power.
Romans 3:21-31 Holman Christian Standard Bible
But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed—attested by the Law and the Prophets —that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. God presented Him to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus.
Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By one of works? No, on the contrary, by a law of faith. For we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. Or is God for Jews only? Is He not also for Gentiles? Yes, for Gentiles too, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then cancel the law through faith? Absolutely not! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
Romans 8:14-17 Holman Christian Standard Bible
All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
Psalm 33:10-12 Holman Christian Standard Bible
The Lord frustrates the counsel of the nations;
He thwarts the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
the plans of His heart from generation to generation.
Happy is the nation whose God is Yahweh—
the people He has chosen to be His own possession!
2 Corinthians 13:1-4 Holman Christian Standard Bible
This is the third time I am coming to you. Every fact must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. I gave a warning when I was present the second time, and now I give a warning while I am absent to those who sinned before and to all the rest: If I come again, I will not be lenient, since you seek proof of Christ speaking in me. He is not weak toward you, but powerful among you. In fact, He was crucified in weakness, but He lives by God’s power. For we also are weak in Him, yet toward you we will live with Him by God’s power.
Philippians 1:3-8 Holman Christian Standard Bible
I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because I have you in my heart, and you are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and establishment of the gospel. For God is my witness, how deeply I miss all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
Psalm 33:6-9 Holman Christian Standard Bible
The heavens were made by the word of the Lord,
and all the stars, by the breath of His mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea into a heap;
He puts the depths into storehouses.
Let the whole earth tremble before the Lord;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
For He spoke, and it came into being;
He commanded, and it came into existence.
Acts 2:42-47 Holman Christian Standard Bible
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers.
Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.
Ruth 2:8-12 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. Don’t go and gather grain in another field, and don’t leave this one, but stay here close to my female servants. See which field they are harvesting, and follow them. Haven’t I ordered the young men not to touch you? When you are thirsty, go and drink from the jars the young men have filled.”
She bowed with her face to the ground and said to him, “Why are you so kind to notice me, although I am a foreigner?”
Boaz answered her, “Everything you have done for your mother-in-law since your husband’s death has been fully reported to me: how you left your father and mother and the land of your birth, and how you came to a people you didn’t previously know. May the Lord reward you for what you have done, and may you receive a full reward from the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”
Psalm 33:4-5 Holman Christian Standard Bible
For the word of the Lord is right,
and all His work is trustworthy.
He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the Lord’s unfailing love.
"Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:9-11 (NIV)
As I write tonight, my mind is at the manger. I am always in awe when I read the account of our Savior's birth and see pictures of the shepherds who have left their sheep to go and see this newborn baby. The account in Luke does not say that they bowed to worship Him, but I can only imagine that they did. We are told that they went from this miracle and spread the word then they returned, "glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told."
Although it is nowhere near the time of year that we usually think about this birth, can you go there with me, witness the scene in your mind's eye and allow your heart to respond to all you see and hear? This tiny infant, sleeping in a trough made for feeding animals, Mary and Joseph beside Him, began His earthly life in such a place as this. You can hear and smell the animals and have trouble believing that there was no more suitable place.
Turn your thoughts away from the surroundings and focus solely on the child. Maybe he moves His little closed fists. Maybe He utters a small cry. Maybe He opens His eyes and looks directly at you. What is your reaction? Those tiny eyes peering directly into your soul and touching a part of you that has never been touched before. Would there be tears? Would you be on your knees?
One day, every knee will bow before Him and every tongue will confess that He is the Christ, our Lord. All will worship Him and this will bring glory to God the Father.
It may be more difficult to picture the time that He returns than it was His birth. There is so much we don't understand, and may even fear. All who have denied His Lordship, or even His existence, will know the truth at this moment. We all will realize that we are sinners and are unworthy of His salvation. Yet, for those who have truly repented and believed, eternal salvation is real.
He isn't a baby anymore and we never know when His return will be, but the time will come. We may have years ahead of us, or we may have only moments. Whether we are alive on the day of His coming or meet Him after our deaths, the question remains. Will we be ready to bow?
John 10:7-10 Holman Christian Standard Bible
So Jesus said again, “I assure you: I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.
Genesis 3:22-24 Holman Christian Standard Bible
The Lord God said, “Since man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil, he must not reach out, take from the tree of life, eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God sent him away from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove man out and stationed the cherubim and the flaming, whirling sword east of the garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life.
Psalm 33:1-3 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous ones;
praise from the upright is beautiful.
Praise the Lord with the lyre;
make music to Him with a ten-stringed harp.
Sing a new song to Him;
play skillfully on the strings, with a joyful shout.
2 Peter 3:8-10 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Dear friends, don’t let this one thing escape you: With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.
But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed.
Job 42:1-6 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Then Job replied to the Lord:
I know that You can do anything
and no plan of Yours can be thwarted.
You asked, “Who is this who conceals My counsel with ignorance?”
Surely I spoke about things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
You said, “Listen now, and I will speak.
When I question you, you will inform Me.”
I had heard rumors about You,
but now my eyes have seen You.
Therefore I take back my words
and repent in dust and ashes.
Psalm 32:10-11 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Many pains come to the wicked,
but the one who trusts in the Lord
will have faithful love surrounding him.
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice,
you righteous ones;
shout for joy,
all you upright in heart.
John 14:1-4 Holman Christian Standard Bible
“Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also. You know the way to where I am going.”
1 Chronicles 12:18 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Then the Spirit took control of Amasai, chief of the Thirty, and he said:
We are yours, David,
we are with you, son of Jesse!
Peace, peace to you,
and peace to him who helps you,
for your God helps you.
So David received them and made them leaders of his troops.
Psalm 32:8-9 Holman Christian Standard Bible
I will instruct you and show you the way to go;
with My eye on you, I will give counsel.
Do not be like a horse or mule,
that must be controlled with bit and bridle
or else it will not come near you.
When I’m at work and I have time to sit down for lunch, I try to avoid conversation and spend my time reading the Bible. I tend to flip from book to book and look at passages that interest me or I find that I need to study. When I study a book, I review commentaries and listen to the words of others who have also devoted time and study to a particular book or verse. Earlier last week, I found two verses that piqued my interest and I started going deeper into the book as well as those two verses.
The book that caught my interest was the Book of Ecclesiastes. Many don’t like to read this book due to its depressing nature. For many, it seems to focus on the futility of life and that pleasure ultimately leads to nothingless. If you truly read the book and get through the parts you find depressing, you will find a lot of simple truths that make life wonderful. The book suggests that humans should enjoy the simple things in our daily lives like eating, drinking and taking enjoyment in our work. All of these are gifts from God.
According to rabbinic tradition, King Solomon is credited with writing this book in his old age. This book consists of twelve chapters and is a very easy read. The first chapter sets the tone of the book from the very start.
The author writes, “‘Everything is meaningless,’ says the Teacher, ‘completely meaningless!’”
At this point, most people skip ahead and try to get past the depressing words of the book. I will admit that I have found this book very depressing to read and that it takes a while for me to get through it. But, I believe that is the gift of this book. When you read these passages, you have to stop and therein lies the blessing.
When you stop reading, you begin to ponder the words. They stay with you and you can’t just simply shake them away. No matter how hard you try, you can’t stop thinking about the words. Some will say that the book is nihilistic in nature. While others would suggest that the book is a form of existential nihilism. This form of nihilism has a foundational viewpoint that life is without intrinsic value, meaning or purpose.
This viewpoint is extreme to say the least and fails to truly grasp the wisdom offered by the author. Later in the book, the wisdom about life becomes more apparent and it gives us that glimmer of hope and allows us to truly reflect on our lives. The simple things in life are the things that give us the most amount of pleasure and joy.
As humans accustomed to immediate gratification, we get bored with our lives. We expect things to give us excitement all the time. We want to have our senses pushed to the limits. After that happens, we desire more.
In the article, “Dopamine: The pathway to pleasure”, written by Stephanie Watson, the executive editor of the “Harvard Women’s Health Watch, she writes, “Dopamine is most notably involved in helping us feel pleasure as part of the brain’s reward system. Sex, shopping, smelling cookies baking in the oven — all these things can trigger dopamine release, or a "dopamine rush."
She goes on to say, “The darker side of dopamine is the intense feeling of reward people feel when they take drugs, such as heroin or cocaine, which can lead to addiction.”
We look for excitement in everything we do and by doing that, we overcomplicate our lives. We want to buy things to satisfy our need for pleasure. We fill our lives with more and more stuff to help us enjoy life.
However, the author of Ecclesiastes writes, “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.”
Stuff can’t bring us happiness. Only the simple gifts that God provides can bring us happiness. It doesn’t cost any money to walk out into a field and see the beautiful world God has created for our enjoyment. The simple things are the best things.
A couple of nights ago, my wife and I were watching YouTube videos about golden snub-nosed monkeys. The videos we enjoyed showed these cute monkeys enjoying a piece of fruit. They made smacking noises that are too cute to describe. Just watching them eating gave us great pleasure. Our joy came from watching one of God’s creations eating and enjoying a tangerine.
It truly is the simple things in life that give us immeasurable pleasure. This simple bit of wisdom is something that we often miss when reading this book. We should enjoy our lives and not try to fill them with more and more stuff.
When we use “stuff” to add pleasure to our lives, we soon find ourselves working harder and hating every minute of that extra work. Instead of deriving joy and enjoying the labor of our work, we begin to hate everything we do. Work becomes joyless and leads to looking for something. We begin to spend more time looking for more and not looking to God. In time, we become disobedient and devote ourselves to getting that “dopamine rush”.
At the very end of the book, the author gives us the wisdom that we should live our lives by, “That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.”
Just as the simple things in life can bring the greatest pleasures, living a simple life with these words in mind can also lead to enjoyment. By devoting our lives to God and obeying His commands, we soon find that that duty will give us the greatest joy in our lives.
Everything that we do, whether good or bad, can lead us to the Lord or take us away from Him. In the end, we will be judged for what we have done in our lives. But, if we live a life seeking only the simple pleasures and steer clear of those things that lead us away from God, we can live a life full of pleasure and joy. As we get older, we should reflect on our lives and see the beauty of lives well spent.
Don’t live your life in pursuit of things that will only decay or rust. On average, the most expensive and luxurious cars ever made have a life expectancy of about ten to fifteen years. Some, of course, can last a lot longer, but it takes quite a bit of effort to make them last longer. Instead of having a car for transportation, we become slaves to the cars. We must spend more money and time taking care of them. If, however, we just realize what the purpose of a car truly is, then we can enjoy taking trips and making memories to enjoy.
Instead of devoting your time to those things, spend your time enjoying the simple gifts of the Lord and obeying His commands, you will be happier and will be able to stand firm in His grace with a smile.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.