The Curse of the Convenient Time

  procrastinate

As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” (Acts 24:25)

Felix, the governor of Judea, started well. He and his wife Drusilla sent for the apostle Paul, who was being held in prison for the “crime” of being beaten by a mob. Felix listened to Paul’s powerful presentation of the good news of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul had no intention of watering down the Gospel, but rather he preached the truth clearly, boldly, and with great conviction. Sadly, the governor responded to Paul by saying, “When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” Felix is never mentioned in Scripture again.

This is what I call “The Curse of the Convenient Time,” and we all struggle with it from time to time. All too often we put off until tomorrow what we ought to be doing today. We have a tendency to practice procrastination, which starts as an infection and eventually, if allowed to continue, becomes a disease that drags us down into the mire of miserable mediocrity.

Another name for this curse is “Discomfort Dodging.” Clearly, Felix was growing more and more uncomfortable as Paul spoke of righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come. So in order to dodge his discomfort, Felix sent Paul away until a more convenient time which, as far as Scripture reveals, never came.

When was the last time you postponed a situation that needed your attention, hoping for a more convenient time that has not yet come? Listen, I simply cannot remember when a more convenient time arrived at my doorstep; the time is always now. The longer I procrastinate, the less convenient the time becomes. The nagging feelings of gnawing guilt begin to grow, and then worry wreaks havoc on my walk with Christ.

How do we rise above the curse of the convenient time? We must keep this truth before us: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). Only through Christ can we conquer the insidious disease of procrastination. It is in His strength, His power, and His wisdom that we can take responsibility for what we must do without delay, knowing that the more convenient time is always now when we face it with Christ at our side.

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

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The Seed of Insubordination

 

seeds

Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? (Proverbs 6:27)

Every time we act contrary to God’s revealed truth, we plant a seed of insubordination in the soil of our lives. If we water that seed with continued rebellion and allow it to grow, we will eventually reap a bitter harvest of regret. The apostle Paul made this truth abundantly clear: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7). In my simplistic way of putting things, I say it this way: Sow rebellion . . . Reap regret. If we sow seeds of insubordination long enough, it will eventually damage our witness, destroy our families, and devastate our lives. Our lives, as the inspired Proverb says, will be burned up in a raging fire of regret and ruin.

But this is not for you! The key to keep from planting seeds of insubordination is to treasure God’s Word above all else in life. David provided us with the remedy: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). You see, we can either plant the seeds of insubordination or plant the seeds of His Inspired Word in our hearts, knowing that whatever we sow we shall certainly also reap. The more we meditate on and marinate in the Word of God, the more we will walk according to God’s wise ways. God’s Word cleanses us. God’s Word challenges us. God’s Word corrects us. But in order for all of these things to happen, we must invest our time in God’s Word.

So regardless of where this message finds you today, whether riding the crest of the wave or buried underneath it, hiding more and more of God’s Word in your heart is the best protection against planting seeds of insubordination. Remember the encouragement that James, the brother of our Lord, offered: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).

One last thought: To “ASK” God is to do three things:

A=ask

S=seek

K=knock

“Ask and it will be given to you,” our Lord assures us; “seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Ask God to give you a love for His Word; seek Him in the Scriptures daily; knock on the door to the throne room of His grace in prayer. And trust that the rewards will be rich beyond measure! For Jesus has promised that “Everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).

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

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Angelic Attendants

angelic presence 

He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. (Psalm 91:11)

You may remember that the tempter applied this passage of Scripture when he confronted our Savior in the wilderness and sought to tempt Him (Matthew 4:6). To be sure, Satan knew what the Scriptures said, but he totally distorted what the Scriptures meant. Indeed, Satan did great violence to the inspired text in his attempt to manipulate Jesus. Telling Jesus to throw Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple, trusting the angels to catch and protect Him, would have been completely counter to the Father’s plan for our Lord’s time on earth. Jesus confirmed that, saying, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” (Matthew 4:7).

So what does this have to do with you and me? Everything! Read on and be encouraged today.

God’s angels are not only in constant worship of Him, they are also employed by Him to protect His people—all of His people, including you and me. These are the angelic attendants assigned by the Almighty as “ministering spirits sent out to serve those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). Now, the verses of Scripture you’ve seen here today concerning our angelic attendants do not mean that you will have a problem-free life. What they do mean is that you will be watched over and ministered to when the waves of challenge wash over you; and, in due time, God will deliver you to His intended destination.

Your life will be protected for as long as God has work for you to do. Angelic attendants will be guarding and guiding you every step of the way until you cross the finish line of God’s purpose for your life. And what then? Your angelic attendants will usher you into the kingdom of heaven. Is there anyone reading this right now who would wish to live one moment longer than God has work for him to do? Heaven forbid!

So regardless of where this message finds you, be encouraged and empowered to live the life God is calling you to live with freedom, faithfulness, and joy, knowing that your God is watching over you moment by moment. He commands His angelic attendants to protect you from the evil one and provide for your every need, every day and every step of the way until that glorious day when you cross the Jordan and enter into your eternal rest.

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

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In the Shape of a Holy Heart

heart-in-hands

We love because he first loved us.  (1 John 4:19)

Today is Valentine’s Day, a day when we demonstrate our love and affection for others through heart-shaped cards, heart-shaped boxes of candies, heart-shaped flower arrangements, heart-shaped jewelry . . . even heart-shaped pancakes. Today is a day that could well be identified by the phrase In the Shape of a Heart. But we Christians must be take care never to forget where all this love came from: the God of the universe. The only reason we love is because God first loved us . . . In the Shape of a Holy Heart.

So how do we keep this day from becoming all about us? Read on, and be encouraged with a new look at God’s valentine, sent especially to you. (I wish I could rightly credit the person who first thought of this, but I cannot remember where I first saw it.)

For God so loVed the world

that He gAve His one

and onLy Son,

that whoEver

believes iN Him

shall noT

perIsh but have

eterNal

lifE.

Remember, God so loved YOU that He sent His beloved Son Jesus to die on a cross to pay the penalty for all of your sins . . . past, present, and sins still to come. Is that not the greatest “Valentine” the world has ever been given? It is for you, if the love that God showed us on the cross of Christ has been received in your heart, by grace through faith. If that is the confession of your life, today truly is Valentine’s Day, a day of unimaginable love and comfort!

If you have not yet trusted in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life, why not receive the most incomparably wonderful Valentine’s gift you can ever receive, a gift that will never perish or fade or disappear? Why not do it this day, and make it your most memorable, joyful Valentine’s Day ever?

God demonstrates his own love for us in this:

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  (Romans 5:8)

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

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The Prediction-The Prescription-The Proclamation

images

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

The Holy Scriptures are chock-full of nuggets of eternal encouragement. When it comes to living my life over the years, John 16:33 may be the one that has shined most brightly into my heart.

The Prediction – Trouble

The truth of trouble in this world is beyond question. Trouble bids us good morning as well as good night. And why should it not? We are merely pilgrims passing through this world on our way to the Promised Land; and along the way, trouble tests our trust.

The Prescription – Take Heart

Without this prescription from our Great Physician, we are likely to become downcast and discouraged. It is a matter of focus. When Peter stepped out of the boat onto the turbulent sea, he was actually walking on water . . . as long as he kept his focus on Jesus. But as soon as he shifted his focus away from Christ and onto his circumstances, he began to sink. But as Peter began to sink into the depths of the sea, he remembered the prescription and, taking heart, he cried out to Jesus, who immediately delivered him from certain death.

The Proclamation – I Have Overcome

The Almighty argues for His prescription through His proclamation: “I have overcome the world”—this world in which you and I will be tested by trouble at every turn. Because our Lord overcame, we too, by His grace and care, will overcome all that comes against us. Whatever storm winds reach our shore, we can be assured that they have already washed over our Savior. And yet Jesus has overcome all troubles—even the ultimate enemy, death—which is why He could say, “Because I live, you also shall live” (John 14:19). If the grave could not hold our Lord, why would we give in to gnawing disillusionment? We must remember the troubles that test us have no teeth, for in Christ even death has lost its sting and the grave has lost its victory.

So regardless of what storm winds you are facing today, take heart, for your Lord has paved the way for you to walk. Follow in His footsteps and you will rise above the waves of challenge, for He has already overcome every wave that threatens to overcome you.

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

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Satan’s Sentry

hopeless

In my distress I called upon the Lord. (Psalm 18:6)

Of all the attacks of the evil one, discouragement is one of the most insidious and deadly, for it kills the joy of the Lord, which is our strength. Discouragement may not seem like a big deal compared to so many of the other fiery darts the devil aims at us, but what starts as an infection winds up a disease that weakens our faith and wrecks our witness.

Discouragement is the result of refusing to let God be God and rejecting His plan and purpose for our lives. Here is the best way I know how to explain it: Satan’s sentry Discouragement knows it can do nothing to separate us from Jesus as Savior, but it can surely loosen our grip on Jesus as Lord. Discouragement is unearthed out of unmet expectations. We anticipate one thing, but our Lord delivers to us another. We expect to be received by others, but instead we are rejected. We expect a measure of success, but instead we suffer a setback. We expect the work of our hands to be appreciated, but instead it isn’t even acknowledged.

Do you think Joseph expected to spend years in an Egyptian prison on his way to the palace? Do you think Moses expected to spend 40 years on the back side of the desert before becoming the deliverer of God’s people? Do you think Mary expected to become pregnant as a virgin in order to deliver the baby Jesus to the world? Unmet expectations are simply a result of refusing to live according to God’s timetable for our lives. Only God knows what we need and when we need it, and He has promised to meet all of our needs in the glorious riches of Christ Jesus.

How is it with you lately? Have you been doing battle against Satan’s sentry Discouragement? Here is the best way to conquer this attack from the evil one: Return to Romans 8:28 and hold fast to the truth that God is working all things for your ultimate good in His perfect timing and in His excellent way . . . not yours. Has God not earned your trust, even when you cannot trace Him? Has He not proved faithful in the past, having plowed the painful path to yield an abundant harvest?

Remember this, and recall the words of the psalmist, “In my distress I called upon the Lord . . . [and] He heard my voice. . . . He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me” (Psalm 18:6, 19). Don’t let Discouragement drag you down; trust in the Lord who delights in you!

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

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Unchanged

light through clouds

“I the Lord do not change.” (Malachi 3:6)

Oh, what a word of comfort we have before us today! Our Lord changes not, unlike everything else in the world that is in a constant state of change. Our Lord changes not!

Everything in the created order is in a state of perpetual change and deterioration. The sun grows dim. The stars grow cold. The earth grows old. The heavens and the earth must pass away to make room for the new heavens and the new earth we have been promised when our Lord Jesus returns to consummate His Kingdom. But through it all, our Lord changes not. What our Lord was He is . . . and what He is He will always be.

Here is the way the writer of Hebrews puts it, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

  • His power changes not
  • His knowledge changes not
  • His presence changes not
  • His wisdom changes not
  • His glory changes not
  • His kindness changes not
  • His goodness changes not
  • His compassion changes not
  • His truth changes not
  • His mercy changes not
  • His grace changes not
  • His love changes not

This list, of course, could be expanded to fill volumes. Is this not a source of unimaginable comfort for you, regardless of where this finds you? Perhaps your health has changed; remember that His goodness changes not. Perhaps your finances have changed; remember that His compassion changes not. Perhaps your job prospects have changed; remember that His wisdom changes not. Perhaps a special relationship in your life has changed; remember that His love changes not. He loves you today as He loved you yesterday: with an everlasting love that will follow you into eternity . . . a love that sent His only begotten Son to die for you on a cruel cross so that you could be with Him forever, world without end. Precious is the promise that our Lord changes not!

Please remember, if you find yourself in a set of circumstances where everything around you seems to be falling apart, your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ changes not. Jesus is the Rock you stood upon in the storms of the past and He wavered not because He changes not. Look to Him and hold to these words from Lamentations 3:22-26, which were written shortly after Jerusalem’s final, terrible fall in 587 B.C. In spite of the devastation and despair which surrounded him, the author was moved by the Spirit of God to write –

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,

for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;

therefore I will wait for him.”

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,

to the one who seeks him;

it is good to wait quietly

for the salvation of the Lord.

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

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