What God Does Not Bless

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In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered.  (2 Chronicles 31:21)

Hezekiah knew that God would not bless half-hearted effort. So in all that he did for the glory of God, Hezekiah did it with all of his heart.

If someone was writing your story today, would this be written about you? Is the effort you are giving for the glory of God and the good of others half-hearted . . . or wholehearted? Remember, the choice is always yours and the results are guaranteed. Charles Spurgeon explained it this way:

This is no unusual occurrence; it is the general rule of the moral universe that those men prosper who do their work with all their hearts, while those are almost certain to fail who go to their labor leaving half their hearts behind them. God does not give harvests to idle men except harvests of thistles, nor is He pleased to send wealth to those who will not dig in the field to find its hid treasure.

We really should need no encouragement to give a wholehearted effort in the things God has called us to do. All we need to do is look to our Savior, who never gave less than all of His heart to everything He did. There was no half-hearted effort in the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ! And when He had done all that He had come to do, He gave His heart to the entire process of crucifixion; He gave and gave until his heart beat its last and He cried out, “It is finished!” Our so-great salvation was not won by a half-hearted effort!

Make no mistake, if you are to prosper in anything you do in life, both personally and professionally, you will have to give all your heart to it. I have learned over the years that wholeheartedness shows itself in the three Ps –

Passion – a strong feeling of enthusiasm and excitement for doing something is a mark of a wholehearted effort.

Perseverance – regardless of the obstacles to overcome, wholehearted effort keeps going and going and going until the goal is reached.

Progress – the wholehearted accomplish the most basic demand of life: making measurable progress in reasonable time.

So . . . can you say that your life is marked by passion, perseverance, and progress? It will be if you are giving all of your heart to all you are doing. And on the other side of your wholehearted effort will be the promised blessings of God.

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

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The Savior’s Stars

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Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.  (Philippians 2:14-15)

When you hear the word “star,” what comes to mind? For most people, it would be the name of some famous person from the world of entertainment or sports. Perhaps you might think of a name from the world of politics or business. Well, I have a word of unimaginable encouragement for you today: you are a star . . . one of the Savior’s stars!

You don’t need to be a Bible scholar to know that the world we live in is both dark and depraved. When Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden, they brought all of creation down into the depths of destruction and despair. But in the midst of their sin and rebellion, they were given a promise: that God would send a Savior who would bring light into this world and make His people to be stars that would shine His light everywhere they went.

So . . . is this the confession of your life today? Are you shining your light into this dark world and pointing the way to the Savior who raised you from death to life?

Notice that Paul told the Philippians that grumbling and arguing shrouds the light God has given His people. Grumbling and arguing are not the marks of a transformed life; they are the remnants of the old, unsaved person that still lives deep within every child of God. They are the marks of the heart that beats for the self, not the Savior.

But this is not for you! You see, the same grace that saved you is the same grace that is currently sanctifying you. God did not save you to leave you where you are; He saved you to form Christ-likeness in you . . . which over time will remove the old nature of grumbling and arguing, replacing it with patience and trust and praise for the providence of God.

To be sure, some providence is painful. But God is with us in that pain, so we ought not to whine, grumble, or complain when it comes our way. We are to receive all providence that comes to us through the loving, nail-scarred hands of our Lord Jesus Christ with the confident assurance that we are getting exactly what we need to be all God is calling us to be.

So . . . are you shining brightly as one of the Savior’s stars? What one thing would you need to change today to shine a bit more brightly? I hope you’ll prayerfully consider your answers to those two questions . . . because, at the end of the day, you never want to be the kind of person that lights up the room when you walk out of it, rather than when you walk into it!

Remember, the “stars” that the world exalts are temporal. But the Savior’s stars are eternal; their light will never go out. May this truth encourage and comfort you today!

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

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No “Help Wanted” Sign Here

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I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. (Isaiah 50:6-7)

The next time you go by a business with a “Help Wanted” sign out front, let it remind you of today’s word of encouragement: NO “HELP WANTED” SIGN HERE!

The words from the prophet Isaiah point directly to the Messiah who would one day give His life as a ransom for many. In Luke 9:51, we read that Jesus “steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (NKJV). He knew what awaited Him there! Jesus would offer His back to the lash; by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). The Roman legionnaires would pull out His beard and spit in His face, all the time laughing and mocking Him. Yet at no time did His confidence wane. He trusted in the will of His Father in heaven, and knew He would be victorious in the end.

Did you know that the help the Father gave to the Son, is the same help that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit give to you—not only daily, but moment by moment? Think about the last time you were in need of help. Did you not get the help you needed from your Father in heaven? Perhaps it was not the help you wanted, but make no mistake, it was absolutely the help you needed. God knows what is best for you, and He never gives you less than what is best.

Remember, Jesus suffered and endured the pain and shame you will never have to endure. He who knew no sin became sin and took your place on a cross. The Father poured out His wrath on His Son in your place, causing Jesus to cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And He did this so that you will never be put to shame; you will never be forsaken; you will never be abandoned. Jesus took all of that in your place, and He has promised to provide you all with the help you need, regardless of the cost or circumstance.

Regardless of where this finds you today, God has promised to meet you in your deepest place of need. Set your face like flint and commit yourself fully to the plan and purpose God has for your life, knowing that what He has called you to do, He will help you get it done. With God on your side, does it really matter who or what comes up against you? With omnipotent aid standing ready to fortify you, is there any obstacle too great for you to overcome?

Fear not! Doubt not! Go forth this day in the strength and security of your Savior and remember: There is no “Help Wanted” sign here, because Jesus is all the help you will ever need!

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

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What’s In a Name

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I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14:13-14)

So what’s in a name? In a word . . . EVERYTHING . . . when it is the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Far too many in the church today have not appropriated the power of the deep truth of praying continually in the name of Jesus. And here is what that means: to ask in the name of Jesus is to ask according to the will of God . . . according to the character of God . . . and for the glory of God. When we keep prayer in this perspective, we realize that some of the things we ask for—perhaps many of the things we ask for—do not meet this cosmic criteria. The key is keeping Jesus in view when we come before the throne of grace and petition our God for the desires of our heart.

A great many people have taken Jesus’ words—“You may ask me for anything”—and twisted this biblical encouragement to the point where they see God as some kind of genie in a bottle. Others take this verse out of context and believe it to be some kind of magic formula for satisfying the selfish desires of their hearts. Make no mistake, our God will never grant any of our requests if they are contrary to His nature, His will, and His glory.

Here is the key that unlocks the door to living in the light of this biblical truth: the closer we draw to Jesus, the more our prayers will be in line with what He wants for us. God the Father is perpetually pleased to honor the name of His Son when we petition the throne of grace for things that bring honor and glory to His name. Remember, Jesus provided the greatest model for what we should sound like when praying to our Father in heaven: “Not my will, but thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!”

So . . . have the prayers you are lifting to heaven been a fragrant offering to God? Should you be praying with the confident expectation that our heavenly Father will do what you ask? Know this: if your prayers are prayed in the name of Jesus—according to the character and will of God with the desire to bring glory to God—you may hold this truth as your own. When you pray in this way, God will do what you ask. You have His Word on it!

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

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The Power of Purpose

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Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank.  (Proverbs 22:29)

Today’s word of encouragement is rooted in the following story . . .

A man passed by a construction site where several workers were laying bricks. He asked one of the workers, “What are you doing?”

The man answered, “What does it look like I’m doing? I’m laying these stupid bricks!”

Going a little further, the man stopped and asked another worker, “What are you doing?”

The second worker replied, “I am making a wall.”

The passerby walked a little further, then asked a third man, “What are you doing?”

The third man exclaimed, “I am building a magnificent cathedral to the glory of God!”

What’s the difference between the miniscule vision of the first two workers and the magnificent vision of the third worker? THE POWER OF PURPOSE! The third worker worked for the glory of God!

So . . . how does this apply to you right now, right where this finds you? You need to see what you are doing as something bigger than what you are doing. If you are just trying to move past “hump day” to get to “Thank goodness it’s Friday,” you have missed the greater purpose in what you are doing. And that greater purpose is to bring the ultimate glory to your God! And how are we to do that? Through the pursuit of excellence.

When you pursue excellence in every area of your life—both personally and professionally—you will not be satisfied with just “getting through the day” and “surviving the week.” Rather, you will see everything you do as an opportunity to bring glory to God by giving your best effort and using the gifts, talents, and abilities God has given you in a way that demonstrates Whose you are and what He has called you to do.

Make no mistake, the Power of Purpose will propel you far beyond the level of simply surviving life, to succeeding for the glory of God. Don’t just lay bricks! Instead, resolve in your heart to build a cathedral, a monument for the glory of your God. This is the Power of Purpose, and it will serve you well, all the days of your life.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.  (Colossians 23-24)

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

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Your Repeated Rescue

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From six calamities he will rescue you; in seven no harm will touch you.  (Job 5:19)

Job dealt with the most unimaginable tragedies that any man could endure. He lost his health, his wealth, and all ten of his children in a single day. To be sure, he grieved—he even lamented the day he was born—but he never stopped leaning into His Lord.

When Job’s three friends arrived to comfort him, Eliphaz was the first to speak. And in these words above, which comprise our verse of the day, we see a poetic expression in his use of “six . . . seven” which is used to mean “more than many” calamities . . . an indefinite number. Christian, you see in the words of Eliphaz that you have been given a great promise from God: regardless of how many difficulties and calamities you face, our God will repeatedly rescue you.

Job dealt with one catastrophe after another in rapid succession, like a boxer being bludgeoned on the ropes. He did not have time to process what had happened, let alone recover from any of them. Yet God was in the middle of Job’s storm and promised to rescue him over and over and over again. There is simply no limit to the resources God will send your way to help you in times of need. Regardless of the number of storms you are currently facing, divine deliverance has been promised for each and every one of them.

I say this often, but I feel I must remind you that our rescue may not look exactly like we want it to look. We may be hoping for one thing, but God gives us another thing altogether. But we can be assured that we will be rescued in God’s way and in God’s timing . . . and that that rescue will be good and perfect.

On the night Jesus was betrayed, Peter denied His Lord three times, just as Jesus had said He would. Crushed by the weight of his failure, Peter went out and wept bitter tears of repentance. Yet shortly after our Lord’s resurrection, He sought out His beloved disciple and restored him to a place of service. Not long after that, Peter preached at Pentecost and 3,000 people were saved!

Regardless of the waves of challenge you may be facing today, God has promised to rescue you from each and every one of them. And if this finds you in a place of peace and prosperity, praise your God! But prepare for the storm that is surely on the horizon. As I have said many times, there are only three positions in life: Either we are in a storm . . . coming out of a storm . . . or going into a storm. Yet in all these positions, we have a loving heavenly Father who has promised us:

Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).

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

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Powerless Promises

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“Our ancestors possessed nothing but false gods, worthless idols that did them no good. Do people make their own gods? Yes, but they are not gods!” (Jeremiah 16:20)

When we hear the word “idolatry,” we have a tendency to think of primitive people in remote areas of the jungle bowing down to sacred cows, stone carvings, special bushes, the sun, moon, and stars. We pity the poor, uneducated heathen who worship a god of stone . . . but we, who consider ourselves sophisticated and superior, bow down in worship to gods of gold! We have become experts at making gods out of everything.

In the 1830’s, Alexis de Tocqueville made this observation regarding the state of America: “There is a strange melancholy that haunts the inhabitants . . . in the midst of their abundance.” We live in a cultural context that believes “more” is the key that will unlock the door to happiness and contentment. We yearn for more prosperity . . . more power . . . more possessions . . . more pleasure. The list could fill pages. Our contemporary culture has erected its own “totem poles” and “spiritual shrines.” Yet, none of them will ever satisfy us or meet us in our deepest place of need. All they will ever be able to deliver is a powerless promise.

Here is the simple way of understanding idolatry. There is nothing wrong or idolatrous with prosperity, power, possessions, or pleasure. But when we take these good gifts that God gives us and regard them as ultimate gifts, then they become bad gifts.

What we must keep in view is this: what rules our hearts ultimately shapes our lives. So if we are counting on anything smaller than Jesus to give us meaning, purpose, significance, contentment, or anything else that matters to us in life, we are trusting in a powerless promise. The truth of today’s verse will inevitably come blazing through: They are not gods!

So let me ask you . . . is there anything in your life right now that is more important to you than Jesus? Let me reframe the question this way: Is there anything in your life right now that, if you lost it, you would consider your life as you know it to be ruined?

Remember, we are often blindsided by the good gifts God gives us, such as family, friends, or career; without realizing it we turn them into ultimate gifts. But they simply cannot bear the weight of our expectations; in the end, it all leads to despair. But there is One who will meet and surpass all your expectations: His name is Jesus, He who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.

Every promise Jesus has made, He will keep. Only Jesus can make good on His promise to meet you in your deepest place of need, regardless of what that need is. Keeping Jesus on the throne of your life will keep you in a perpetual place of promised blessing, whether in seasons of plenty or seasons of want.

Here is a promise with power, given by the only One who will never fail to deliver, the God who will never leave you nor forsake you:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

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

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