Imagine the very best gift you’ve ever received. Maybe it was a special present for a birthday or a totally unexpected gift received just because the giver wanted you to have it. God’s grace is like that—a precious gift that is totally undeserved.
The Fire Bible: Global Study Edition note about Titus 2:11-14 says this: “Verses 11-14 describe the character and purpose of God’s saving grace (i.e. the unearned and undeserved favor, love, help and spiritual enablement) and the effect it should have on believers.”
It is through God’s grace that we recognize and realize God’s gift of salvation and love. He opens our eyes and softens our hearts. Verse 11 says it is the grace of God that brings salvation to all men. read more
As Christians, we need to select our clothes from God’s wardrobe
In the conclusion of his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul wrote: “A final word: Be strong in the Lord. ... Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil” (Eph. 6:10-11, NLT). How often do you feel “strong in the Lord”? Many Christians more frequently feel “small and puny” or “frail and afraid.”
The good thing is, Paul wasn’t telling the Ephesian believers (or us) that through self-effort we could just be strong—he wasn’t saying, “Just do it!” as the Nike commercial says. He goes on in verses 13-18 to explain that being strong in the Lord requires getting suited up for battle. Spiritually speaking, he compares it to dressing like the professional soldiers in his day. read more
If it seems as if God isn’t listening, maybe you’re trying too hard.
Listen to a child pray and
you’ll hear something like: “God, I really want that doll with the blue
dress”; or “I will work really hard, but can You help me get picked for
the baseball team?”; or “God, will You heal my mom [or dad]?”
Stated in plain, common language,
that’s all prayer is: God’s people talking to their God. There is no
need for special words or to say things in a certain order or way. When
we talk with our friends or co-workers we don’t talk differently than
we normally do. Why do we do that when we talk to God? read more
fulfillment in a relationship with Jesus comes not from a miracle
encounter but in walking with Him, no matter which road He takes.
month’s reading brings us to the story of Bartimaeus, a blind beggar.
There truly is a great deal we can learn from this short passage from
the Gospel of Mark.
Bartimaeus knew about Jesus. “When he heard it was Jesus of Nazareth he
began to shout” (Mark 10:47). Second, Bartimaeus knew that is was
Jesus’ character to “have mercy” on the people with whom He interacted
Third, Bartimaeus did not
hesitate when Jesus called him. He threw off his cloak (quite possibly
his only possession), jumped to his feet and went to Jesus. Last,
Bartimaeus knew exactly what he wanted from Jesus. “I want to see,” he
Reflect now on your own life. Do you really
know and understand God’s character? Are you assured that it is God’s
character to give His creation (you) good things, to show you mercy?
And then do you actively seek Him? (Shouting in a crowd as Bartimaeus
did is very active.)
The first two steps are
easy. But they are where we often stop. We may seek God, but do we
listen for His answer (His call)? Do we throw off what holds us back
(our safety nets) and go to Him?
consider your requests. What are you praying for? Do you ask God to
give you a vision of His purpose and will for your life? After Jesus
healed Bartimaeus we find that “he followed Jesus along the road” (v.
Consider the testimony of “Sally,” who found
Christ in a country closed to Christianity. She made two Christian
friends who invited her to church.
the very beginning my heart was touched by worship and songs. Later on
... I asked the pastor to pray for my very important exam. He said: ‘I
hope you will pray with your own faith.’ So I simply prayed and I asked
Him to meet me or somehow prove to me that this is the right way!
He did. I found there were no more doubts about Jesus as my Lord and
Savior. I gave my heart to Him and I started to serve Him right after
that. Now Jesus is the first priority in my life, and knowing
and doing His will is much more important than even my job and my
To truly “see” is to understand that
life is fulfilling only when we are following Jesus down the road. It
is important to realize that physical healing or financial stability or
whatever you are seeking is only the starting point on the road, the
beginning of a lifelong journey.
Adapted from Principles 4Life (Life Publishers International), available free of charge atlifepublishers.org.
This month’s reading from Deuteronomy 13 challenges us to believe God’s promises when situations appear to contradict His Word.
God gave Moses a promise that the Jews
would be released from Egyptian captivity and given a land that was
“good and spacious” (see Ex. 3:8, NIV). In Deuteronomy 13, you will
note that the people began to doubt what God had promised. So the Lord
directed Moses to send 12 spies into the land that God planned to give
Israel (see Num. 13:1-2).
What 10 spies saw frightened them. They
reported: “‘The people who live there are powerful,’” and “‘They are
stronger than we are’” (Num. 13:28, 31).
God has given you a promise as well. He
said in Jeremiah 29:11 He has plans “‘to prosper you, not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.’” Are you letting things you
believe are more powerful than you hold you back from accepting God’s
promise for you?
Or are you like Caleb, one of the two
spies who weren’t afraid? He too saw the strong men in the land and
their fortified cities. But he trusted God. His report to Moses and all
Israel was, “‘We can certainly do it’” (v. 30). The Fire Bible: Global Study Edition states it this way in the note for Numbers 14:6: “Faithful believers must be willing to stand on God’s Word.”
This steadfast belief that what God says He will do is
illustrated in the story of the Rev. Joe Combs. Combs was born in 1921
and grew up during the Great Depression. In 1939 he was called to
preach, but World War II was just beginning, and he could not attend
Bible school until after his military service.
In his book, The Gentle Call, Combs writes: “The
very next morning [after he got out of the service] I was standing at
the registrar’s office. ... I was a sorry sight. I stood there with all
the earthly goods I owned in my dirty sea bag. ... They laughed at me
and told me school started two weeks ago and I was too late.”
He goes on to say, “I was reading at a
fifth grade level trying to do college work.” But his lack of wealth,
reading skills, social standing (all powerful enemies of what God had
said) did not hold Combs back. He worked hard, pushed forward and went on to plant and pastor churches throughout the Midwest.
This month consider the strong opposition in your life not as a roadblock to God’s call but as the enemy God has already overcome by the promises in His Word. Make your report the same as Caleb’s: “We [God and you] can certainly do it.”
This month’s reading is the story
of two very different men who had something in common: Cornelius the
Roman centurion and Peter the apostle each were listening to hear the
voice of God speaking through His Spirit.
As you read Acts 10, look for a few key aspects of the
Holy Spirit’s work in the events of this ancient narrative that are
present in our lives today as well. We can count on God’s being the
same yesterday, today and tomorrow (see Heb. 13:8).
The first aspect is, the Holy Spirit
spoke to both Cornelius (10:3) and Peter (10:13). All that was required
for this to happen was for both men to put themselves in a place where
they could hear God’s voice and to be willing to listen for Him. read more
So God's rest is there for people to enter. —Hebrews 4:6, NLT
Let's explore a biblical principle God set in motion at the close of creation week—the principle of Sabbath. It's so important that the violation of it in Old Testament times meant certain death.
In Genesis 13, Lot chose selfishly and moved his family
to the choicest land—near the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, whose
inhabitants sinned greatly. Abram, Lot’s uncle, generously let him go;
and for his generosity, God blessed Abram and allowed him to settle his
family in a safe area.
Later, God used Abram to rescue Lot
from the evil cities before He destroyed them. Abram learned the
blessings of being generous and following God’s plan. read more
Then the Lord asked Satan, 'Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth—a man of complete integrity.' —Job 1:8, NLT
What is it that gets God's attention? Is it charisma, personality or one's abilities? We don't have to dig deep into the book of Job to discover the answer. From the first verse, we find God bragging about His man Job. By the eighth verse He's calling Job the "finest man in all the earth."
Then Job spoke again: 'If my misery could be weighed and my troubles be put on the scales, they would outweigh all the sands of the sea. That is why I spoke impulsively.' —Job 6:1-3, NLT
The Bible reveals with authenticity the true nature of the characters whose lives are described within its pages. It exposes their faults and struggles without apology and without holding back. This is why the story of Job is so fitting—Job himself was a man of authenticity.
But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works. —Psalm 77:11-12, NLT
Much can be learned from life experience. Many important clues lie hidden in the rubble of yesterday, clues that reveal God at work in our lives. Yet surprisingly few of us conduct the treasure hunt that will uncover the evidence.
Don't be drunk with wine because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. —Ephesians 5:18-19, NLT
This Scripture is one of many that indicates music is important to God. The Old and the New Testaments contain more than 200 references to music, and Israel's history abounds with conclusive evidence that God's people have always had a song to sing.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be outnumbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! —Psalm 139:17-18, NLT
God delights in sharing His innermost thoughts with His people. The Scripture passage quoted above seems to imply that His thoughts are constantly directed toward us—it says “they outnumber the grains of sand.”
The purpose of these proverbs is to teach people wisdom and discipline, and to help them understand wise sayings. —Prov. 1:2, NLT
Are you looking for “ancient wisdom” with a modern application? Look no further; the book of Proverbs contains your answer! Proverbs is a unique collection of short, pithy sayings designed to impart wisdom, understanding and knowledge.
Are you ready for some steamy truths of a sexual nature? I assure you I'm not talking about the findings of an article from a risqué national magazine such as Maxim or Cosmopolitan. I'm referring to the writings of King Solomon in Proverbs.
Solomon is candid, direct and often blunt about sexual issues. He gives us exactly what we need for navigating safely through today's sensuality-crazed generation.
A lazy person is as bad as someone who destroys things. —Proverbs 18:9, NLT
Most societies suffer from an overabundance of lazy people, and ours is no exception. Leaders have struggled for centuries to help such individuals—with little success. The book of Proverbs addresses the issue head-on.