As a young Christian, I remember thinking that the reason God was blessing me was because of my disciplined Bible study. I would get up well before school every morning and study the Scripture for about an hour.
Do you like to skate? Good-unless it puts you in a place displeasing to the Lord. Do you like to bowl? Fine-unless the people you bowl with tempt you to do wrong things. Do you like to play ball? Great-unless it keeps you from church or some activity where the Lord wants you to be. Do you like to chat with friends? Nice-unless they tempt you to gossip, swear, or displease God in some way. Make sure the wholesome activity you choose does not lure you into a trap where you'll be tempted to sin.
What things blindfold you to opportunities to serve the Lord? Are you so busy enjoying hobbies, riding your bike, and just having fun that you don't notice when you could serve by helping someone? Do things such as jealousy, wanting your own way, or laziness keep you from being a witness for Jesus? Don't wear a spiritual blindfold! Ask God to help you develop the qualities listed in today's Scripture. Ask Him to give you the desire and strength to live a life pleasing to Him.
Our problem is sin. Not finances. Not budgets. Not overcrowded prisons. Our problem is sin. We are in rebellion against our Creator. We're cut off from the source of life. A new president or policy won't fix that. It can only be solved by God. That is why the Bible uses drastic terms like conversion, repentance, and lost and found. Society may renovate, but only God re-creates.
Are you wondering if someone you love went to heaven when he or she died? It always hurts when a loved one dies, but it's especially painful when you don't know for certain that person was saved and went to heaven. If you're in that position, try not to fret. Rest in the knowledge that God's ways are right and that He will always do right. Pray for others who are unsaved. Be kind and loving, and do all you can to help them know the way to heaven.
Do you think nobody knows you did something wrong? Broke that dish or toy? Told that lie? Snitched that cookie? Whatever you've done, God knows. Mom and Dad and your friends may never know, but you can't hide anything from God. If you've done something wrong, confess your sin to Him and to the person you've wronged. Ask for forgiveness. You'll be glad you did. Then remember that God also sees the good things you do. Live to please Him!
What kind of giver are you? When the offering is taken do you put in only money your parents gave you for that purpose? If you give some of your own money, is it only the amount your parents say you have to give? Or do you gladly give a portion of your money to be used in God's work? Best of all, do you give generously and cheerfully? That's the kind of giver God loves.
A fit of anger. Uncontrolled debt. A guilty conscience. Icy relationships. Alarms in your life. When they go off, how do you respond? Be honest, now. Hasn't there been a time or two when you went outside for a solution, when you should have gone inward? Ever blamed your plight on government? Blamed your family for your failure? Called God to account for problems in your marriage? Your circumstances may be challenging, but blaming them is not the solution. Nor is neglecting them.
All that God has done has been because of His grace, which means "unmerited favor." You aren't merely forgiven, justified, and cleansed of your sins; you have been received in love by God Himself. This is because of His deep love for His own Son, Jesus. Because His Son lives in you, you have found His favor. You have the approval of God because of what Jesus has done.
The Bible doesn't teach that if you are a Christian, you will never stumble or periodically fall short. But it does teach that if you are a true believer, when you have had a lapse or a stumble, you always will get up and move forward. That is the way to determine whether a person is really a believer or not.
Do you get stressed and worried about your troubles? Are you frustrated when you feel like you should do something but don't really know how to go about it? Do you think you're not able to do well in school? To think of something to say to make a visitor feel at home? To speak to someone about Jesus? When God puts it on your heart to do something, don't struggle to handle it on your own. Trust Him to help you with it. He gives strength to do all kinds of difficult things.
Do your classmates laugh if you talk about Jesus? Do they think you're a little strange when you bow your head and pray before you eat your lunch? Does anyone call you a goody-goody because you go to church and Sunday school regularly? Be a good disciple-a good follower-of Jesus. Do the things that please Him, no matter what anyone says.
When my daughter Jenna was six years old, I discovered her standing in front of a full-length mirror looking down her throat. I asked her what she was doing and she answered, "I'm looking to see if God is in my heart." I chuckled and turned then overheard her ask Him, "Are you in there?"