Continually Thought Of

sand

How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.  (Psalm 139:17-18)

Have you ever considered how much you are thought of by Omniscience? The psalmist says the thoughts God has for us are so vast that if one were to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand on the sea shore—in other words, our heavenly Father has more thoughts for us than we can ever count!. You might be removed from the mind of a friend or even a family member, but never from the mind of God.

Let this truth comfort you today: you are always on the mind of your Master. You are always in His mind and on His heart. The Lord Jesus Christ thinks of you continually, and each one of those thoughts is designed for your ultimate good. When the sky is blue and the clouds are fleecy, Jesus is thinking of you. When dark clouds fill the sky and the storm winds begin to blow, Jesus is thinking of you. Never is there a set of circumstances or a season when you are not continually thought of by your God.

God is thinking of you when you are striding along the straight and narrow, and He is thinking of you when you are wandering toward the wilderness. You are continually thought of in your joy and in your sorrow . . . in your pain and in your pleasure . . . in your triumph and in your tragedy . . . in your going out and in your coming in. Never are you NOT on the mind of God!

How does that make you feel right now, right where this message finds you? Never let the thought of the unbeliever invade your mind—that God is impersonal and uninvolved in your life. Your God sought you, caught you, and bought you with His precious blood. He so loved you that he gave His only begotten Son so that you might have eternal life!

To know you are on the mind of someone who is important to you, someone whose friendship you value and trust, is a comfort and a source of great encouragement. How much more encouraging is it to know that the King of kings and Lord of lords is continually thinking of you? Listen, if even a sparrow cannot fall to the ground apart from the knowledge and will of God, there is no part of your life that your God is not continually thinking about. If the number of hairs on your head is known by your God, there is nothing going on in your life right now that He does not know and is not in complete control of.

To know that you are continually thought of is to be a source of both comfort and conviction. It is an unspeakable comfort to know the Creator of the universe has set His mind upon you; we should also feel a profound sense of conviction to live each day to its fullest for the glory of the One who has given it to us to live.

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

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When One Is A Majority

footprints in the sand

One man of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the Lord your God who fights for you, just as he promised you.  (Joshua 23:10)

Throughout my years in working with the students, I would often tell them, “With God on your side you are always the winning team!” Make no mistake, one IS a majority when God is with you . . . just as He promised you!

Regardless of the obstacles you may be facing today—perhaps even a thousand standing in opposition to you—with God on your side fighting for you, the battle is already won and the victory is assured. You have all you need to climb “the hill Difficulty,” as Bunyan called it, because you have the Lord your God.

God is in the business of establishing “one-man” ministry; He spends no time counting heads.

  • God called Abraham to found a nation
  • God called Moses to free a nation
  • God called Jonah to warn a nation
  • God called Esther to save a nation

I’d like to encourage you to prayerfully consider what the Lord your God is calling you to do for His glory. Where in your life right now is God calling you to step out in faith and trust in Him, especially when you simply cannot trace Him? To be sure, King Saul slew his thousands, but the shepherd boy David slew his tens of thousands, because the Lord was fighting for him every step of the way . . . just as He promised.

The unbelieving world thought it had won a great victory on that Good Friday, as Jesus of Nazareth hung on the cross and darkness covered the land. But three days later, a dead man got up and walked out of His grave. Jesus overcame sin, Satan, and death. And the same power that raised Jesus from death to life is the same power that resides in you (Ephesians 1:19-20)! It may appear that the world is poised for a great victory by driving you into the ashes of defeat—personally, professionally, relationally. And that awful outcome would most likely be true if not for the One who fights for you . . . just as He promised you!

When is one a majority? When that one is trusting in THE One who has promised to fight for you and give you the victory.

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

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Are You A Barnabas?

encouragement

Encourage him!  (Deuteronomy 1:38)

These words were spoken by God to Moses. After God led His people out of bondage in Egypt and guided them through the desert for forty years, sustaining them manna from heaven and twice providing water from a rock, God instructed Moses to encourage Joshua, who would lead the Israelites into their Promised Land.

Notice two things:

  • God did not call on the angels to encourage Joshua.
  • God called on Moses, who was not even allowed to enter into the Promised Land

The beauty in these two words, “Encourage him,” is found in the fact that God uses His people to encourage His people. We are all called by God to be instruments of encouragement in His mighty right hand.

When you think about it, we are far better suited to encourage one another than an angel would be; an angel knows not what it means to come up against the waves of challenge in life. What angel has ever labored through a dark night of the soul or walked through the valley of the shadow of death? No, it is to each of us to be encouragers to one other.

Encourage one another and build each other up . . .  (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

We met the man called Barnabas in Acts 4:36. His name was Joseph, but the apostles called him Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), because his life was marked by encouraging others.

It grieves me to say this, but I am convinced that far too many in the church today are notable for discouraging others. They seem to live their lives under the proverbial rain cloud that is ready to open up at any moment. They see the glass as half empty, rather than half full. They always seem to find a way to bring others down, rather than lift them up.

But this is not for you! After Paul’s conversion, many Christians did not trust him. After all, this man who now called himself Paul had previously been Saul, a Pharisee who had been actively and eagerly engaged in persecuting the early Christian church. No doubt the believers worried that Paul’s conversion story was just a ruse designed to help him identify, capture, and kill more Christians. When Paul first arrived at Jerusalem, it was Barnabas who refused to question God’s supernatural work in Paul’s life; at great personal risk, he willingly met with Paul. The Son of Encouragement greeted Paul and convinced the other Christian believers to do the same. Later, Barnabas would encourage Paul on his missionary journeys.

Here are two truths to remember: Everyone needs encouragement and everyone can be an encourager.

Are you a Barnabas? What would those closest to you say? Who in your life right now needs a word of encouragement . . . and needs to hear it from you?

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25)

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

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Pilgrims Make Progress

pilgrims progress

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  (Ephesians 2:10)

The title for today’s word of encouragement is a play on words from John Bunyan’s classic Christian allegory, The Pilgrim’s Progress. After the Bible, it is one of the most important Christian writings for strengthening the faith of all of us who truly are “pilgrims in progress” as we make our way to the Celestial City. The story is a powerful dramatizes the trials, tests, and tribulations that Christian (the pilgrim in progress) faces as he journeys to his home in heaven.

Life places one demand on all of us: that we make measurable progress in reasonable time. How are you doing at that? Are you a pilgrim making progress?

Let me be clear on one very important point at the outset: The progress I am speaking of is not progress toward perfection. We will never be perfect until we reach the other side of the grave and enter into the presence of our Savior. Our progress will always be a mixture of both highs and lows, steps forward and steps back; but nevertheless, it should indeed be progress as we journey toward our home in the new heavens and the new earth.

Like Christian in The Pilgrim’s Progress, we will face countless challenges along the way as we walk with Christ: Worldly Wiseman, Giant Despair, Talkative, Ignorance, and the demons of the Valley of the Shadow of Death. But God has promised to take us through all of them as we progress on our way toward home. And along the way, we will leave a trail of “good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Christian, please remember that we are not saved by our good works, but rather we are saved to do good works, which are the clear and present evidence of our salvation at work within us.

And I hope you’ll hold onto this thought also: God does not need our good works, but everyone else in our lives certainly does! Our sanctification should cause us to lead a life of progress in service to others. We are saved to serve, and that service moves in two directions: vertically toward God and horizontally toward everyone else.

So, regardless of where this message finds you today, you are God’s handiwork; you are a work in progress who is to be making progress throughout your Christian life.

Where in your life right now do you need to be making a bit more progress? What is holding you back from being all God is calling you to be today? Remember, pilgrims make progress until they arrive at their final destination.

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

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Freely

free

I will heal their waywardness and love them freely.  (Hosea 14:4)

Here we find all the truths of the Gospel in a single word: freely. The Lord Jesus Christ showers His limitless love upon His people, and He does it freely—not because we deserve it and certainly not because we are in a position to demand it.

Marinate in this truth today, and I can assure you that today will be like no other day you have yet lived. This one word—freely—rebukes every proud pharisaical heart that beats for the glory of the self. And it is also to be the healing balm for every broken heart that has been crushed under the weight of sin and shame.

The love of God in Christ Jesus comes to the Christian believer freely, not because of anything we do or don’t do. There is no condition that must first be met in order to experience this love that is freely given to us. It is simply the desire of the One who freely loves. He loves because He is love. And He loves us simply because He chooses to love us!

For [God] chose us in [Christ] before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.  (Ephesians 1:4-6)

Imagine for a moment that you believed at some level that the reason for God loving you was rooted in you . . . perhaps because of your faithfulness to God or because of your fruitful service in expanding His kingdom. What would happen when you found yourself less than faithful and far from fruitful? You would question whether or not God still loved you. You might well fear going out in a thunder storm! You would constantly be looking over your shoulder, waiting for God to smite you for your imperfections. But when you read today’s text and see this word freely, you are reading the sweetest note your Savior ever played.

Jesus loved you freely from before the foundation of the world; He wrote your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the earth was formed. Jesus loved you freely when He raised you from death to life. And Jesus loves you freely today, regardless of the love you have—or have not—been giving back to Him.

This truth should absolutely rock your world! The love of God in Christ Jesus is given to us moment by moment, freely, without cost and without measure. Jesus does not give us His love in increments—a little love here and a little love there. Rather, Jesus pours His love down upon us from the fountains of heaven, love as unconditional as it is immeasurable.

So . . . what will that truth do for you today? Will it bring you comfort? Will it inspire you to new heights? Will it convince you that you truly do matter to God? Whatever this truth does for you this day, may it burn within your heart that the God of the universe loves you freely . . . He always has and always will.

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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One Thing No One Can Do

procrastinate

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. (Proverbs 27:1)

Did you know there is one thing that no one who has lived or will live is able to do? That one thing is serve God tomorrow. Many of us plan to serve God tomorrow, but make no mistake, no one has ever done it and no one ever will!

Procrastination is a powerful enemy of the people of God. The word procrastinate comes from two Latin words which, combined, mean “toward tomorrow.” Procrastination whispers, “Why do today what you can put off till tomorrow?” Mark Twain once quipped, “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” Procrastination is the mindset of simply being content to look toward tomorrow when we should be living for today.

Without question, procrastination is one of the unhealthiest habits we can develop, because it eliminates any opportunity for progress. When life is calling us to make measurable progress in reasonable time, procrastination tells us to wait for the “right” time or the “perfect” opportunity, when we have all of our proverbial ducks in a row. But somewhere in the back of our minds, we understand that perfection is impossible and unreachable, so we push off until tomorrow what we should be doing today. And tomorrow never comes!

I have allowed procrastination to set me back, and I have also learned from experience that progress can and will be made in less than perfect circumstances, because those are the only circumstances we have!

Regardless of where this message finds you today, isn’t it time to do what you know you ought to do? At the office? In your studies? In your marriage? With your children? For your health? With your finances? At your church? In your community?

Take a moment to prayerfully consider what is fueling your resistance to rising above procrastination. Is it the possibility of moving beyond your comfort zone? Then do what is uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable. It is the prospect of falling short of your intended goals? Falling short isn’t failing unless you fail to get up.

So . . . have you been caught up in doing the one thing that no one can do—serving God tomorrow? We all do, from time to time, which is why we must make a deliberate decision to choose either procrastination or progress. Remember, procrastination in the past does not define who you are. It only defines what you did (or chose not to do). You are a child of the Most High God, and you have been made for greatness. His mercies are new every morning and those mercies should be all the motivation you need to stop procrastinating and begin making progress in the direction God is calling you to go.

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

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Which “Will” It Be For You?

arm wrestle

Here I am, I have come to do your will.  (Hebrews 10:9)

Every day we are faced with two choices: “Thy will be done” or “My will be done.” And the will we choose makes all the difference in the amount of meaning, significance, and purpose we will experience in this life.

So . . . which will it be for you?

Oh, you may accomplish much in this life apart from the will of God. Many do. But it is devoid of meaning, significance, and purpose, because it is done for the glory of self rather than the glory of the Savior.

It really comes down to which of these two words is the mark our lives: “MY” or “THY.” Our Lord Jesus Christ set the example of living a life according to the will of God. Even in His moment of greatest despair, during His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, with the judgment of God looming just before Him, He prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).

Let me give you three keys that unlock the door leading to a life of living for “THY” will, rather than “MY” will:

KEY #1 – God Is In You

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

KEY #2 – God Is For You

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

KEY #3 – God is With You

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:8)

When we know deep down in our hearts that God is in us . . . God is for us . . . and God is with us, we will seek to accomplish His will in our lives rather than our own will. We will be convinced of God’s abiding goodness, as He is always working things out for our ultimate good.

Which will it be for you this day? If you want to rise above the daily challenges of fear, frustration, and anxiety, cast yourself upon the Rock of your salvation and seek only one thing: His will in your life—even when you would rather not!

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

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