Faithfulness Is Single-Minded Service

If any lack wisdom, he should ask of God…But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man… is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. – James 1:5-8

I have a friend who pursues life with gusto. When he has a goal he goes for it with all that he has, for a few days. Then he sees a flaw in his plan so he revises it and again goes after it with abandon, for a few days. In just a little while he revises his plan again and goes after the new and revised plan with passion. Everyone around him stands scratching their head wondering what in the world he is doing, but it is perfectly clear to him, for a few days anyway.

Most of us know someone who is that way. They are good people, but their plans change so often that they rarely achieve anything lasting or notable. James calls this kind of person double-minded. Their relationships are rocky at best, their walk with God is hot and cold and their service to others is sporadic.

James is trying to tell us that single-minded service requires wisdom and we must seek God for his wisdom. When we have God’s wisdom the winds of new ideas won’t shake us. We will be committed to the task before us and we will not look at the waves which rage around us. Our hope is anchored in God and as we faithfully pursue his wisdom we are faithful to follow his direction without turning to the left or to the right.

I have noticed that some people appear to be double-minded, but in reality they are just desperately trying to find the one thing they can identify as God’s will for their life.. For those people I have some simple instructions; just be faithful to do what you know to do and God will honor your faithfulness by giving you clear direction when your faithfulness and his plan intersect.
When our purpose is to do his will we will seek his wisdom and once he has revealed himself we will hold to that wisdom without wavering, without doubt, and without changing it.

Prayer: Father, grant me the grace to be single-minded in my pursuit of you. In Jesus name, amen.

Principle: Single-minded service requires wisdom and we must seek God for his wisdom. When we have God’s wisdom the winds of new ideas won’t shake us.

Affirmation: I make it a daily practice to seek God’s wisdom so I am not enticed by shiny new ideas and drawn away from single-minded commitment to God’s purposes for my life.

Reflection: What is the difference between one who is constantly chasing something new and the one who is always seeking God’s best? Reflect on this: When our purpose is to do his will we will seek his wisdom and once he has revealed himself we will hold to that wisdom without wavering.

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Faithfully Serve The Lord

Faithfully Serve The Lord

It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. – Deuteronomy 13:4

Deuteronomy is a book of promises and warnings. The Ten Commandments are repeated in Deuteronomy as well as instructions about loving God and our neighbor. Also there is warning about listening to those who would claim to be a prophet but who preach another god.
Our verse today is taken from a passage that is warning about false prophets who would lead Israel to follow other gods. Israel is warned that they are to follow the Lord God and him alone. They are admonished to obey the commands of God and to “hold fast to him.”
We are faced with the same challenges today as Israel faced thousands of years ago. There are still people trying to convince us that our way of life and faith is outdated and that there is a new and better way to live. We are encouraged to abandon the restrictions of an oppressive religion and be free to express ourselves.
Unfortunately, Israel was not faithful to follow the Lord and him alone. Their history records many times that as a nation they turned to serving other gods. The gods they invented to follow allowed and promoted lifestyles that were contradictory to what the Lord had commanded.
Things aren’t much different today than it was then. Many in the church have traded the commands of the Lord for license to live as they choose without restriction because, after all, we are under grace now.
The Lord knew how difficult it would be to hold on to him in the face of the temptations we would have and that is why he said to “hold fast to him.” The Hebrew word translated “hold fast” is daw-bak. It means to pursue hard and be joined to. Being faithful to God in this time of compromise and easy living is not easy but we must pursue him hard and be joined with him,.

Prayer: Lord, It isn’t easy serving when the world calls so me to follow the way of folly. Grant me grace to be faithful to you. In Jesus name, amen.
Faithfully Serve The Lord

Principle: Being faithful to God in this time of compromise and easy living is not easy but we must pursue him hard and be joined with him,.

Affirmation:. I choose not to listen to the voices of the world which call me away from being a faithful servant of the Lord.

Reflection: It would be good to reflect upon what is so attractive about the voice of the “false prophets” of this world who proclaim the value of pursuing your own destiny over trusting the tried and true word of God. How are we to resist such appealing voices?

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Christ Is A Faithful High Priest

For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in services to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. – Hebrews 2:17

We know the story, we’ve heard it since we were children. Adam and Eve sinned and were put out of the Garden, away from the presence of God. Since that time man has been separated from God and has been trying, by his own means, to reconnect with the creator.

Every religion that man has practiced has reconnecting with God as its basic purpose. There is only one religion, however, that shows the extent to which God is willing to go to facilitate man being reconciled to himself.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever would believe in him would not perish but have everlasting life.” Christ is at the very center of all that God has ever done on this earth. All of the dealings that God has had with man since the beginning of time have pointed toward Christ. All of the dealings God has had with man since Christ have pointed back to him.

Why is Christ the centerpiece of history? Why do we in the western world measure time as being “before Christ” (BC) and “In the year of our Lord “ (AD)? It is because we have learned that all things, both before his birth and after his life on earth, point to him. Christ came to reconcile man to God.

The Apostle Paul writes, “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19). Christ ever remains a high priest making intercession for our sins. It is the love and mercy of God that draws him to faithfully bring us into reconciliation with himself through faith in Christ who is our faithful high priest.
Christ, the eternal intercessor, calls us to faith and repentance so that we can be reconciled to God.

Prayer: Lord, I am convinced that I cannot become reconciled to you in my own efforts. Thank you Christ the faithful intercessor. In Jesus name, amen.
Christ Is A Faithful High Priest

Principle: Every religion that man has practiced has reconnecting with God as its basic purpose. There is only one religion, however, that shows the extent to which God is willing to go to facilitate man being reconciled to himself.

Affirmation: God graciously gave us the way to be reconciled to him through faith in his son who was the vicarious sacrifice for our sins. I trust him because he is faithful.

Reflection: Why is Christ made the very centerpiece of history? Even time in the western world is marked by before his birth (BC) and after his birth (AD). Reflect on the importance of Christ in history and in modern life.

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God’s Kindness Leads Us To Repentance

When you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? – Romans 2:3-4

There is a factor in passing judgment upon another person that most people don’t consider. In many cases it is not about what a person has done, or why they did it at all. It is often about our attitude concerning that person. We not only want to point out what someone has done wrong, but we also want to label them with their sin: They are an adulterer, a thief, a liar, or whatever they have done.
Judging another is not just recognizing that they have sinned, but judging another is mostly about placing a value on the person and condemning them for what they are rather than convicting them for what they have done. That is what distinguishes us from the Lord on this issue.
The purpose of God is to bring people to repentance when they have sinned. That’s why when we would call down fire from heaven God covers them with kindness. When we would send them to the gallows he showers them with patience and tolerance. But what’s all this talk about them; what about ourselves?
“You didn’t think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from seeing all your misdoings and from coming down on you hard? Or did you think that because he’s such a nice God, he’d let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change” (Romans 2:3-4 in The Message).
When we take our eyes off of the deeds of others and focus on the stuff that is in our own heart then it becomes easier to look at others with kindness. When we can see that it is the kindness of God that has tolerated us and has patiently drawn us to repentance then judging others loses its importance to us.

Prayer: Lord, grant me the grace to show the same kindness to others that you have shown to me. In Jesus name, amen.
God’s Kindness Leads Us To Repentance

Principle: Judging another is mostly about placing a value on the person and condemning them for what they are rather than convicting them for what they have done.

Affirmation: I can realize a person’s sin and help him with restoration without placing a judgment, or label, upon him.

Reflection: Read again The Message rendering of this passage. Think about your own attitude about others who have sinned. Has your attitude expressed the same kindness and grace toward them as you expect yourself?

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Blessed Are Those Who Have Persevered

Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. – James 5:10-11

There are some who look at the faith through rose colored glasses seeing only the benefits without seeing the cost associated with walking the path of faith. Yes, it is true that we receive favor from God as a free gift and that gift is appropriated by faith in Jesus Christ, but it is also true that continuing in faith requires a strong commitment.

James reminds us that many who have gone before have had to face difficulties which required a commitment to patiently await the deliverance of the Lord. He first speaks of the prophets who suffered at the hands of the people God sent them to serve. Then he reminds us of Job who suffered unfairly, yet he persevered.

What the prophets and Job had in common was an unwavering faith. The prophets believed the word of the Lord that they had been given and they accepted the responsibility of declaring it in an unfriendly environment and they endured patiently. Job, though not understanding why he was asked to endure such loss, held on to his faith and declared, “Though God slay me, yet will I trust him.”

As our faith deepens we can rest assured that it is going to be tested. When we are tested it is not to cause us grief and prove that we can bear it, it is to prove that our faith in God is well placed. The testing of our faith is to prove the faithfulness of God.

When James reminds us of Job’s suffering he concludes, “we have seen what the Lord finally brought about [for Job].” It was his faithfulness and patient suffering that prepared him to receive God’s blessing. It is not easy to endure, and our patience is often tested, but we know that those who patiently endure will receive the reward of righteousness.

Prayer: Lord, I don’t enjoy hardships, but I know they come to us all. Grant me the grace to endure with patience so that I will be proven faithful. In Jesus name, amen.

Principle: When we are tested it is not to cause us grief and prove that we can bear it, it is to prove that our faith in God is well placed. The testing of our faith is to prove the faithfulness of God.

Affirmation: When my faith is being tested I know that I can trust the faithfulness of God. My faithful and patient pursuit of God leads to his faithful deliverance.

Reflection: Job suffered many afflictions as his faith was tested, yet He could say, “Though God slay me I will trust him.” How does one have that level of faith? Could you say that about yourself?

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Patiently Waiting In Hope

Patiently Waiting In Hope

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31 (KJV)

The big picture of the book of Isaiah is that a judgment from God was coming and the Jews would be taken to a foreign land as captives. They would remain there for a time then the favor the Lord would return and they would be allowed to go back to their homeland. He also looks far into the future and predicts a kingdom where the Lord himself will rule.

The context of our passage for today is that through the trials of life God’s people would grow weary, but he will give them strength. Isaiah writes, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (v29). When we have exhausted ourselves trying to do it on our own he says that he will give us renewed strength if we trust him.

The NIV translates this verse, “those who hope in the Lord…” That is an interesting translation of the Hebrew word kaw-vaw. The word literally means to “bind together” as in to twist together. It seems to mean, in this passage, “to be bound to the promise of restoration and while you wait patiently for the fulfillment the Lord will strengthen you.” The NIV translators interpreted this to simply mean “Hope in the Lord.”

The simple truth is that God has promised to be our deliverer, our help, our strength, and everything else we need. Our response to his promise is to place our hope in him; have faith in him. It is faith which gives us the courage, and patience, to wait upon him.

Oh, blessed is the peace that comes from trusting the Lord to do what he has promised. How great is the joy that comes from the faith which gives us patience to wait for his provision. Anxiety rolls away as we are strengthened in his grace.

Prayer: Lord, I thank you for your promise to be our strength in wearisome times. Grant me the grace to patiently wait on you. In Jesus name, amen.

Principle: Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They shall not grow weary in well doing.

Affirmation: My hope is in the Lord and I will trust him because I know he gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

Reflection: Israel was facing the prospect of being taken from their land and exiled to a foreign country. They needed hope to sustain them through the trial. How can we have hope in the time of our greatest trial? How can we have the strength to patiently endure? Reflect on that.

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Patience Stands Firm In The Face Of Adversity

Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s… You will not have to fight this battle… Stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you… Do not be afraid… the Lord will be with you. – 2 Chronicles 20:15-17

It is difficult to stand firm and patiently wait when we are facing overwhelming odds. In this passage there were four kingdoms coming against Jerusalem. King Jehoshaphat realized that he was outnumbered and ill equipped to fight these armies. What could he do?

Jehoshaphat prayed and the Lord said, “Stand firm.” That was good news. They were facing immanent destruction and God says, “Just stand there.” But that wasn’t all he said. He also said, “Stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you.” The key is not to do nothing, but to hear the voice of the Lord and do what he says.

We are programmed to take action when we are facing adversity. It is just natural to resist difficulty and develop a plan. However, our actions are based on a limited knowledge of the situation. That’s why our plans are so inadequate; we can only act on what we know and what we know is limited. In those times God is telling us to wait on him; hear his voice, then act on his instruction.

You can imagine the anxiety among the residents of Jerusalem as they waited for the opposing army to come against them, knowing that their own king was just going to wait on the Lord. It’s like hearing someone outside your house, rattling your door to see if it will open, and someone saying, “Don’t worry. The Lord said to just stand here and see him destroy the enemy.” We might stand there, but we’ll have a baseball bat in our hand.

Trust and patience go hand in hand. As we are on this journey of faith we must learn to trust the Lord to do as he has promised, and we must patiently wait for him speak, then we must patiently wait for him to do what he has promised.

Prayer: It is difficult to wait when danger seems imminent. Grant me the grace to stand firm in the face of the adversary and to tarry in prayer until your answer comes. In Jesus name, amen.

Principle: God Said, “Stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you.” The key to victory is not to do nothing, but to hear the voice of the Lord and do what he says.

Affirmation: I am committed to not taking action in situations with major consequences until I have heard God speak and then I will do what he says.

Reflection: Trust and patience go hand in hand. How did trusting God give king Jehoshaphat patience? Have you had occasions in your own life when God seemed to say, “Stand still,” but your feet said, “Run for your life”?

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Paul ”Hope Preacher” Smith

Messages of inspiration for the journey of faith

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