In 1940 President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Selective Training and Service Act, which established our country’s first peacetime draft. From 1948 until 1973, during periods of both war and peacetime, men were drafted into our armed forces to fill vacancies that were not being filled through voluntary means. The draft was shut down in 1973 when the U.S. went to an all-volunteer military.

Inasmuch as that draft no longer exists, there is still a “divine draft” in existence for all those who are disciples of Christ:

Moses said to the Gadites and Reubenites, “Shall your countrymen go to war while you sit here?”

(Numbers 32:6)

The Gadites and Reubenites were content to stay on the east side of the Jordan because the land there was suitable for their herds and livestock. But Moses reminded them that they had a duty to serve alongside of the rest of God’s people in conquering the land God had given them. Moses made it clear that, regardless of where they chose to settle, they were part of a bigger community. They needed to look beyond their own desires to their duty, because they were part of a family of faith.

What was true for the Gadites and the Reubenites then is true for every Christian today. With privilege comes responsibility; we have a divine duty to our family of faith. When God raised us from life to death, He drafted us into His Almighty Army.

Who among us today can measure the incredible good we have received because of those saints who have gone before us, all paying some and some paying all? Charles Spurgeon put it this way:

“We have received much by means of the efforts and sufferings of the saints in years gone by, and if we do not make some return to the church of Christ by giving her our best energies, we are unworthy to be enrolled in her ranks . . . Personal service of Jesus becomes all the more the duty of all because it is cheerfully and abundantly rendered by some. The toils of devoted missionaries and fervent ministers shame us if we sit still in indolence.”

God’s divine draft has brought us into His Almighty Army to stand our post and answer our call to expand the cause of the kingdom of Christ, regardless of the cost or circumstance. God forbid that we should make it our greatest goal in this life to live at ease in Zion! Yet far too many in the church today live a life of self-protection rather than self-sacrifice. Their primary concern is expanding the cause of their little kingdom, accomplishing their little goals, and setting forth their little agendas. To this kind of life you and I must say NO!

We must willingly engage in the battle God has brought us into. You see, there was no battle before Jesus showed up. We were happily living for the self. But when Jesus raised us from death to life and became our new Ruler and King, we were drafted to discipline ourselves in the service of our Savior. Having been drafted by Divinity, we find ourselves called to the front lines of faith to take sword to our enemies—the world, the flesh, and the devil—knowing that Jesus has already won the war on our behalf. We need only fight the daily skirmishes that come our way in His strength . . . knowing that He who drafted us will surely deliver us. After all, we have His Word on it!

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

(Psalm 73:25-26)

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!    

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How do you know if you love the gift more than the Gift-Giver? Check your heart-response when you start losing the gift! When the sky is blue, the clouds fleecy, and the sun is shining brightly, it’s easy to love the Lord. But what about those times in life when the storm winds blow and waves of challenge crash over you? Satan told God Job loved the gift more than the Gift-Giver. God told Satan Job loved the Gift-Giver-more than the gift.

Job had just been told that he had lost all of his considerable wealth and all ten of his children had been killed in one horrific day. This was Job’s immediate, instinctive response:

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

(Job 1:20-22)

Was Job happy to enjoy great wealth? Did he love his children? Of course he did. But he did not love either more than he loved his God. Satan was basically betting that Job’s obedience and love for God was rooted in his self-love. Satan believed that Job loved God because God had showered so many blessings upon him. “Remove the blessings,” Satan thought, “and you will remove his love for God.”

Throughout much of the biblical account, Job wrestled with God and asked some very penetrating questions. But in the end, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing and God blessed Job with even greater blessings than he had before. Job knew that everything he had was simply a gift he had received from God. And as much as Job loved the gifts God had given, not one of those gifts ever sat upon the throne of his life. God was always his first priority in life.

I wonder if you and I would be able to say along with Job, “Naked I came into this world and naked I shall depart” after having suffered such unimaginable loss? To lose his wealth and later his health was undoubtedly very difficult; but to lose all of his children in one day seems a loss too great for any man to bear. And it would have been if Job had loved the good gifts God had given to him more than he had loved the Gift-Giver Himself.

So . . . how do we get in the same frame of mind as Job’s? Surely it will only be by the grace of God! But in that grace, we must see the gracious hand that provides everything we enjoy in this life. “For in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

You and I reading the book of Job understand the whole story. We see the activity in the heavenly realms as well as the man’s struggle on earth. But Job, who was living it out at the time, did not. He did not understand all that was going on behind the scenes. And that is what makes it all the more remarkable that Job really did love God more than any of the gifts he had received from His hand. Job’s friends were convinced that his suffering was a result of some sin in Job’s life. They believed his suffering was both punitive and corrective, dealt to Job by the hand of God. We know that it was not. What all God had in mind we cannot know. But one thing we do know: part of God’s purpose for Job’s suffering was to deepen his relationship with God.

Elisabeth Elliot, wife of murdered missionary Jim Elliot, penned these profound words, which will close this word of encouragement for loving the Gift-Giver more than His gifts better than I ever could:

“God is God. If He is God, He is worthy of my worship and my service. I will find rest nowhere but in His will, and that will is infinitely, immeasurably, unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to.”

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!    

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When was the last time you gave thought to just how merciful Jesus really is? It is my prayer for you that after reading this word of encouragement, you will continually contemplate the multiplied mercies of your Master.

Luke’s gospel tells of a man named Jairus, who came to Jesus and fell at His feet, begging Jesus to come to his house and heal his only daughter, who was 12 years old and dying. Jesus agreed to help, and then something remarkable happened. Our Lord healed a woman who had been subject to bleeding for 12 years—the same age as Jairus’ daughter—while He was on His way to heal the little girl! To me, this suggests a limitless supply of mercy within our Master. While on a mission of mercy to one, He extended mercy to another.

The life of Christ was marked by “mercies multiplied” everywhere He went. He healed the sick, made the lame walk, the blind see, the deaf hear, and raised the dead to life. All of these mercies were delivered, of course, while He was on His way to the most magnificent errand of mercy the world has ever known!

When Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 

(Matthew 27:50-51)

Every act of mercy performed by our Lord was done while on His way to the cross. He took time for the little children. He had a divine appointment with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. He received prostitutes and tax collectors. He ministered to His fearful disciples on a boat in a storm. He wept with two sisters who wept for the loss of their brother Lazarus. He patiently instructed Pharisees and teachers of the law who had sincere questions about His words. He even celebrated with his mother and disciples at a wedding. Everything Jesus did was a mercy to all those He did it with.

Notice that in Matthew’s account the curtain of the temple was torn from top to bottom. The temple was divided into three primary parts: the courts (inner and outer); the Holy Place; and the Most Holy Place. The curtain separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place, where only the high priest could go once a year on the Day of Atonement. The significance of the curtain being torn in two is that the barrier between God and His people has been removed once-for-all by the cross work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you know what that means to you today? There is no barrier between you and God. It means mercies multiplied are ready for you to receive!

Our access to the Almighty is unrestricted. We have a heavenly Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ, and we can go to Him morning, noon, and night, knowing that we will be received and met with mercies multiplied, because Jesus has never stopped being merciful to His people . . . and He never will.

So . . . what mercy do you need multiplied from your Master today? What’s keeping you away?

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!    

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You might be wondering where I’m heading with a title like that! How can “having” be the key to happiness, especially in light of all that the Scriptures teach us? Well, if I am right, and having really is the key to happiness, it must come down to what it is we have! It cannot be having more possessions; Scripture makes it abundantly clear that happiness cannot be rooted in the stuff of life.


Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. 

(Psalm 84:10)


Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud. 

(Proverbs 16:19)


Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.

(Proverbs 17:1)


Better a poor man whose walk is blameless than a rich man whose ways are perverse. 

(Proverbs 28:6)


Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 

(Matthew 6:19-21)


This is just a tiny sampling of the biblical truth that having “stuff” is not the key to being happy in this life. Remember that the rich young ruler went away from Jesus sad, because he had a whole lot of stuff (Matthew 19:16-22). As I have said here before, it’s not what you possess that brings lasting joy, but rather, what possesses you. In order for “having” to be the key to happiness, it must come down to having the only thing that truly matters in this life and the next: the Lord Jesus Christ!

Funny thing about life, you never realize Jesus is all you need for happiness in this life until Jesus is all you have. So many saints have lived this truth. How could Stephen, the first Christian martyr, pray for the forgiveness of those who were stoning him to death? Because he had Jesus! How could Paul endure so many hardships in life and not grow disillusioned and bitter? Because he had Jesus! How could so many martyrs go to agonizing deaths singing hymns and spiritual songs praising God? Because they had Jesus!

The key to happiness is having Jesus. Nothing smaller than Jesus will ever bring us the kind of happiness we desire deep down, because once we have Jesus we realize that “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). Life—both eternal and every day—consists not in our stuff, but in our Savior. This is the key that unlocks the doorway leading to unimaginable happiness and a deep, abiding joy that cannot be shaken by the circumstances of life.

Just a cursory glance at today’s society provides all the proof we need that happiness simply cannot be rooted in the stuff of life. We have more possessions and comfort in our culture than any other country on earth, and yet, as Thoreau said, so many of us are leading lives of quiet desperation . . . often utter despair.

How is it with you today? Where do you find your happiness? By God’s grace, may we be able to echo the words of Solomon: “Happy is he who trusts in the Lord” (Proverbs 16:20 RSV).

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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The person stretches hands to a cloud in the form of heart

I have a word of unimaginable encouragement for you today that comes from a passage you may be very familiar with, yet many miss the impact of a significant portion of its message.

God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

(Romans 5:8)

If you have spent much time in church, you are probably familiar with the second half of the passage. It surely is tremendously encouraging to know the awesome, almost incomprehensible truth that “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

But we must be careful not to miss the encouragement that comes just before that! The key word in the first half of Romans 5:8 is “demonstrates,” because it is written in the present tense. The Holy Spirit of God clearly intended to instruct us that God is continually demonstrating His own love for us in our lives.

It would seem to have made better sense if Paul had written “God demonstrated” in the past tense, just like “Christ died.” Since Christ “died” for us in the past, you might well think that “demonstrated” would be the best choice of words. But Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Spirit, kept this word in the present tense; he did so for our ongoing encouragement.

To see the verse in context, Paul was addressing the suffering and persecution the Roman Christians were going through before he declared God “demonstrates” His on-going love.

We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

(Romans 5:3-5)

Paul was reminding the Christians then—and all of us today—that God’s love is continually poured into the lives of His people. Paul knew the only way the Roman Christians would be able to deal with the horrific persecution they were facing was to be reminded of the ever-present, continually-poured-out love of God. Scripture is telling us that the love of God in Christ Jesus is invested in the lives of His people 24/7. God takes no time out and no days off; He never slumbers or sleeps; He demonstrates His love for His children moment by moment.

It is one thing to keep in view the love God demonstrated on the cross, where Jesus took our place and paid the penalty for our sin. But as glorious as that truth is, it is another thing altogether to realize that God demonstrates His love for us in countless other ways with every beat of our hearts! Christian, don’t miss the eternal encouragement that is found in experiencing every ounce of God’s eternal love for you as a profound, present-day reality.

So . . . is this the confession of your life? It will be if you keep Paul’s profound pick-me-up in view and remember the unchanging fact that God demonstrates His love for you with every breath you take.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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People often ask me, “How can I know that I am in the will of God?” I’m happy to tell them that the answers to the most important aspects of God’s will are clearly outlined in the Scriptures. The more we marinate in and meditate on the Scriptures, the better we will understand God’s will for our lives. To be sure, the Bible does not tell us which car to buy, what job to take, or which person to marry. But the Scriptures do give us a solid framework for making the best possible decisions that will bring us the most happiness and give the greatest glory to God.

Jesus modeled this truth for us throughout His entire earthly existence. Perhaps, there is no better place to see this than in His wilderness experience and His thrice times utterance: “IT IS WRITTEN!” For every attack the devil threw His way, Jesus countered with the Word of God . . . and every counter conquered His adversary.

What was true for Jesus then is true for us today. But we cannot counter with the Word of God unless we know the Word of God; we cannot know the Word of God unless we are reading the Word of God.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

(Romans 12:2)

Being a disciple of Jesus goes far beyond mere behavior modification. It is simply not enough to refrain from doing what those in the world do. Our minds must be renewed to the point where our hearts are reoriented, which results in our will being realigned to the will of God. This is the work of His Holy Spirit, yet God calls us to take part in this process of renewal. We must discipline ourselves to read the Word of God, to attend church, to pray, and to serve.

Think about it this way: God has given us the great privilege of participating in the process of growing to maturity in our faith. To be sure, it is all of grace, but God empowers us to play our role. The more we play our role, the better we can discern God’s will for our lives. As the Spirit of God transforms us from the inside out, our will begins to align with the will of the Almighty. We make decisions that are both pleasing to God and beneficial to others . . . all others.

So . . . how are you doing in living out God’s will for your life? Could you use a little tune-up in the area of the renewing of your mind? If so, simply follow the prescription provided in the Sermon on the Mount:

ASK . . . SEEK . . . KNOCK!

Remember, “Everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). Ask God to work in you to will and to act according to His good purposes, and then determine to do your part in drawing closer to Him. And do you know what? As you do these things, you will be right smack in the middle of God’s will!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Back in the days when I was focused on personal development, I read the one of the best-selling business books of all time, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Mr. Hill’s philosophy went beyond helping one become financially wealthy to helping them succeed in any line of work and to be and do almost anything they wanted. At the time, I remember thinking, “Not a bad read!” But after God saved me, I found a much better read, one that empowers the reader to go beyond riches . . . to righteousness.

As image bearers of the Almighty, we have the mental capacity to think about whatever we set our minds to consider. And in so doing, we set a course that will either lead us in the direction God wants us to go or the direction we would rather go.

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:5-6)

The apostle Paul made a remarkable statement here: What we set our minds on determines, to an altogether unsuspecting extent, the issue of life and death! When was the last time you thought about that? Over and over again, the Bible tells us to take control of our thoughts and explains that we have been given the power to take control of our thoughts because we have been given the mind of Christ.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

(1 Corinthians 2:16)

Here Paul was quoting an Old Testament passage, Isaiah 40:13, to tell us that we have the capacity to think the thoughts of God when it comes to His plan and purpose in this world.

Make no mistake, the mind of man is the exact opposite of the mind of Christ. Man’s mind is man-centered, always thinking how to expand the cause of man’s little kingdom. Man’s mind is rooted in self-protection and self-satisfaction.

But every Christian believer has received the Holy Spirit of God and thus has the ability to rise above the thoughts of mere mortals and to think as the Master thinks—thoughts rooted in self-sacrifice and self-denial. This is the thought process of those who “Think and Grow Righteous.”

So . . . what have you been thinking about lately? Where do your thoughts go when you do not choose to set them on what the Spirit of God desires? Let’s close with one more exhortation from the inspired pen of Paul that will help us rise above the challenges of daily living as we think and grow righteous.

Brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN! 

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