EXAMINATION

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The Lord examines the righteous. (Psalm 11:5)


The Lord examines us—not because He wants to hurt us, but because He loves us. We are precious in His sight, so He will refine us in His fires of affliction so that we come out more pure than when we went in. This is true for all God’s children; none escape His examination.

It is out of a heart of eternal love that our God tries and tests us. There is no other way to experience the removal of the self than through the examinations of the Savior. If Jesus did not love us, He would not examine us; and if we knew just how much He loves us, we would echo David’s cry for His continual examinations:

Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind. (Psalm 26:2)

Remember, our Lord does not take us through His examinations so He can gain a deeper understanding of our commitment to Him. Rather, it is so that we will grow in our own awareness of what our hearts beat for and how deep our love is for Him. God knew Abraham’s heart when He asked him to sacrifice Isaac, but Abraham did not fully know his own heart of love for God until he was put to the test. God’s examination ultimately proved to Abraham why he would be known for all eternity as the father of the faith (Romans 4:16).

The examinations we go through are the proving grounds of our faith. It is only when we emerge on the other side of the furnace of affliction that we know how real our faith truly is. We need look no further than the story of Job to see this truth. God allowed Satan to examine Job through unimaginable trials, and what was the result? Job never rejected God’s right to examine him; he trusted God through every trial, even when he could not trace Him in them. And in the end, Job acknowledged that he was a sinner in need of a Savior (Job 42:4-6), and he rejoiced that “My Redeemer lives, and . . . in the end he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25).

Know this: Whatever depth of faith you have today is a result of the examinations you have been given by God in the past. Growth does not happen when we are secure within our zones of comfort. It is when God forces us into those places where we are most uncomfortable that He is conforming us more and more into the image of His beloved Son.

Our Sovereign Lord is working all things for our good (Romans 8:28)—even those things that don’t feel so good at the time.

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

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IT IS WRONG TO WOE

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Woe to me that I dwell in Meshek, that I live among the tents of Kedar. (Psalm 120:5)


When Jesus prayed His high priestly prayer for His people, He did not pray that we would be taken out of this world, but rather that we would be protected from the evil one. We must absorb this truth today: What Jesus did not pray for us, we must never pray for ourselves.

It is wrong to cry “Woe is me” and wish to be received into glory. We have been left here to carry on God’s work in this world, just as our Lord did when He walked the streets of Palestine. We are in this world but not of this world, and we have been called to impact this world for the glory of our God. Jesus sent us into this world to be salt and light, and we are to do everything we can to preserve what good there is in the world around us and to shine the light of His truth and love into every dark place.

Where would you expect to find the doctor except where there are sick in need of his care?  Where would you expect to find the soldier except where a battle is raging? So it is with the saints of God. We are to be found wherever Jesus is needed, and that, beloved, is in every place on this side of the grave. To be sure, we dwell in Meshek and live among the tents of Kedar, for our world is filled with the powers of darkness and the forces of evil. Far too many in this present age scorn the good and embrace evil. But this is the very reason that our Savior prayed for us—not that we would be taken out of this world, but that we would be strengthened within to be ministers to this world.

God did not leave us to expand His kingdom in this world in our own strength. We have been given the power of the Holy Spirit to do all He has called us to do; and when we do that, we are bringing glory to God and eternal good to all those we come in contact with. So if you find yourself weary in your witness, remember that it is wrong to woe when you know your Savior has commanded you to go!

May these words from Paul strengthen you and propel you forward in your ministry of service to God and to a world that desperately needs to know the love of Christ:

I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith.

(Philippians 1:23-25)

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

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ALMIGHTY ADMIRAL

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He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. (Mark 4:39)


From sleeping in a boat to saving an entire fleet of boats, our Lord Jesus is the Almighty Admiral who protects all those who are His. Make no mistake, it is wise to sail with our Savior, because when the storm winds begin to blow and the waves of challenge begin to wash over us, He will direct us toward the safety of the harbor.

Don’t miss this: When the disciples got into the boat with Jesus, and all the other boats followed along, they were not safe from the storm. A fierce storm raged, even with Jesus by their side. But they were safe IN the storm, as are all the saints of God. Jesus by our side does not keep us from going into storms, but rather He brings us through the storm to the other side. Our Lord does not promise us smooth sailing, but sure arrival at our intended destination.

When the storms swept over that Galilean lake, the disciples were convinced that disaster was soon to follow. “Don’t you care if we drown?” they wailed to the Lord (Mark 4:38). Let that be a lesson to you today! When all hope is lost in the natural, we must shift our focus to the supernatural, because we have Jesus as our Almighty Admiral, and He has promised to stay with us and get us to the other side of every storm we face. Not a single boat in the convoy of the disciples suffered shipwreck that night. Jesus was all they needed for safe passage . . . and He is all we need too.

I’d like to close today’s word of encouragement with a profound biblical truth the disciples and their friends learned that night when a furious squall nearly swamped their boats. This truth can strengthen you in any storm you are facing:

You will never know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have!

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

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THE SAINT’S SAMUEL

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I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. (1 Samuel 1:27)


Hannah prayed for a child, and the Lord heard her prayer and graciously answered. She named him Samuel (many commentators suggest that the name Samuel sounds like the Hebrew word for heard of God) and dedicated him to the Lord. Samuel was an answer to Hannah’s prayer, and she delighted in delivering her precious child back to the One who had given him to her.

Every saint of God has his or her “Samuel”—a time when God heard our prayer and generously answered. And when our answer is as precious to us as Samuel was to his mother Hannah, we will dedicate it back to the One who has given it to us.

Our God blesses simply because He is a God of blessing. But, oh, how sweet are the blessings received after earnest supplication and the continual cries of the heart! Like Hannah, we find ourselves overwhelmed with thanksgiving because of our God’s faithfulness to answer the petitions of His people.

Here is the question that needs to be answered by every child of God: What “Samuels” has God delivered into my hands through the doorway of prayer? Whatever they may be, let us dedicate them to the Lord, just as Hannah dedicated her “Samuel” for God’s glory and the good of others.

My years as a pastor have taught me that the Lord’s answers to our prayers are to be consecrated to our Christ. What we have received from heaven must be released back to heaven for the glory of the One who has given us life and breath and everything else. All that our God delivers to us must be dedicated back to Him. How much more must we dedicate those things that we cried for day and night to receive from His holy hand of mercy?

May this day be marked by unceasing prayer and an unwavering, heartfelt promise that when your answer comes, you will consecrate it for the expansion of God’s kingdom, having given it the name “Samuel,” because you asked of God and He heard and answered your prayer.

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

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REJOICING REDEEMER

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I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul. (Jeremiah 32:41)


What a word of encouragement we have before us today! Our Redeemer rejoices over us and delights with all His heart and soul in doing good to us. If we are honest, we will find no reason in ourselves, with all our imperfections and outright sin, to cause a perfectly righteous and holy God to rejoice in us . . . yet our Redeemer rejoices in meeting us in our deepest place of need.

In the beginning, our Redeemer rejoiced over all that He had made in the heavens and in the earth, and He declared with infinite, eternal wisdom that is was all not just “good,” but “very good.” And of all that He made, He made only mankind in His image. Not even the angels know this blessed gift from God. To be sure, the angels were included in the “very good,” but they were not created in the very image of God.

I’d like you to consider this: When one-third of the angels rebelled and were banished from heaven, followed by the terrible, treacherous fall of man in the Garden of Eden, it was not the angels that God came after with His redeeming love. The writer of Hebrews put it this way:

Surely it is not angels he helps, but Abram’s descendants. (Hebrews 2:16)

I cannot find one verse in Scripture that says that our Redeemer rejoices in the sun, the moon, or the stars. But time and time again we read that God rejoices over those who bear His image.

Let that truth encourage you today! Let that truth lift you above any challenge or discouragement that is assailing you. Let that truth set you free to rejoice in your Redeemer, because He continually rejoices in doing you good. Now, the good you may be expecting and the good you actually receive from His hand may be two entirely different things. But would you not agree that your Redeemer, who knows the end from the beginning, is in the best position to know what is best for you and how best to deliver it . . . and when?

I pray that today’s passage and these words from the prophet Zephaniah act as bookends to strengthen your belief in just how deeply you are loved and just how much your Redeemer rejoices over you.

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

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

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THE MASTER’S MAJORITY

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“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2 Kings 6:16)


The prophet Elisha was outnumbered in Dothan by an army with horses and chariots sent by the king of Aram. The army surrounded the city, and Elisha’s servant was gripped with fear. But the prophet could see what his servant could not see, and he spoke today’s word of comfort: “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Elisha saw that hills were filled with horses and chariots of fire sent by the Most High God to envelop those who were threatening the prophet and his servant.

What was true for the prophet Elisha back then is just as true for the people of God today. The adversaries of God’s people—the world, the flesh, and the devil—are many and mighty. But God’s answer to all his adversaries is mightier still. No matter how many unholy horses and corrupt chariots line up against us today to keep us from being all God is calling us to be, they are outnumbered by Omnipotence, because our Master always has the majority. You are protected on all sides and will not be overcome by your opposition because “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

Are forces of fear coming up against you? Are armies of anxiety attacking from all sides? Are the powers of the prince of darkness pursuing you? Fear not! Look with eyes of faith today and you will see past whatever adversary it is you are facing to the Almighty who stands ready to give you victory. Remember, not only is it true that those who are with you are more than those who are with your enemies, but the power at work within you is infinitely greater than any power that can come against you.

To be sure, the fighting will be fierce and the battle will be brutal, but the outcome will never be in question, because the One who fights for you fights with a force that simply cannot be overcome. Remember, the Master and you always makes the majority.

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

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A REDEEMER WHO REMEMBERS    

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He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever. (Psalm 111:5)


What a word of comfort we have before us today! Our Redeemer remembers all of His promises to us . . . even when we believe we have provoked Him to want to forget! Here is what we all must remember: It is His faithfulness to us—not our faithfulness to Him—that causes Him to remember all of His promises.

Our Redeemer remembers His promises to us and never regrets making them, because they are fixed from all eternity. He knows we are but dust, and from time to time we drift from our duties. Yet He has promised never to forget us or forsake us. He remembers to provide us with our daily bread. He remembers to meet us in our place of deepest need. He remembers to forgive us again and again. And He remembers to love us with an everlasting love. When God makes a promise, we can count on it, because no weapon formed against us can cause our faithful Redeemer to allow a single Word to fall to the ground.

So regardless of where this message finds you today, remember your Redeemer, who remembers every promise He has made to you. Do you have a need in your personal life? Take it to your Redeemer who remembers. Do you have a need in your professional life? Take it to your Redeemer who remembers. When you fear God, you have nothing else to fear, for He has promised to meet all of your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

There is one more thought that I’ve discussed here before, but it bears repeating. Throughout the Bible we read God’s assurances that He will always remember His covenant promises to His adopted children . . . His promises to you and me. Christian, there is only one thing that our loving Lord says He will forget; He says, “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more” (Hebrews 10:17).Thanks to the sacrificial death of our Redeemer on our behalf, God the Father has promised that He will forget our sins. And He will remember that promise for all eternity.

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

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