Today, We Prepare

Hebrews 3:13   (KJV)   13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

One glorious day, we will be meeting our long-awaited beloved Lord, beholding Him with our very eyes, to spend time with Him and with our God for eternity. That will be one day, and we pray, one day soon. Today, we prepare.

exhortPart of our proper preparation is urgently exhorting and warning each other daily to be passionate about our God and His Word; to be watchful and vigilant against the insidious tactics and hideous attacks of our enemy.

God has powerfully set us free; we live in freedom. We don’t unwisely subject ourselves again to the cruel sin overlord. In freedom; we’re repeatedly commanded to be careful, to guard our hearts, to make sure our hearts don’t get hardened by sin’s deceitfulness, and cause us to turn away from God.

We aim to be faithful to our Lord, to fight the good fight, to finish the race, to keep the faith, to trust Him as firmly as when we did at first—even more. We don’t make light of the admonition for us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, to strive with the power of God’s Spirit that’s continually working in us to will and do what pleases Him. These we restfully do—in freedom, in His grace.

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Who’s Really Affected?

Job 35:6   (KJV)   If thou sinnest, what doest thou against him? or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto him?

Job 35.6 - Who Really BenefitsNo amount of sin and rebellion can topple God from His throne. God is God; He rules; He will reign forever and forever.

Nothing we do can alter God for Who He is. He’s God, and He will always be God—omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, immutable, eternal, sovereign, holy, righteous, just, merciful, gracious, loving, and so much more. He is all those, and more—now, and forever more.

Yes, because of His love for us, He’s grieved when we sin. He’s jealous for us because of His love. He always wants the best for us, and He doesn’t like the idea of us allowing the enemy to rob us of our best. We don’t increase God or diminish His Being when we sin or do good. We obey Him because we as true believers understand: that’s the proper response to Who He is. We honor Him because He is honorable, we worship Him because He’s the greatest Being there is. We know that His commands aren’t burdensome—He’s not giving us a hard time; they’re for our best. Let me quote the context of the passage above: “If thou sinnest, what doest thou against him? or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto him? If thou be righteous, what givest thou him? or what receiveth he of thine hand? Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art; and thy righteousness may profit the son of man” (Job 35:6-8 KJV).

So yes, doing bad and doing good, ultimately, is doing ourselves bad or good. We choose good.

Stand Up and Praise God

Nehemiah 9:5   (KJV)   5 Then the Levites, Jeshua, and Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, Stand up and bless the Lord your God for ever and ever: and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.

The leaders of the congregation of Israel, in an important time of national commitment to God found it in their hearts to lead their people in praise and adoration to God

Nehemiah 9.5 - Stand Up and Praise GodI’m grateful that I got introduced to this important facet of Christian life very early in my walk with the Lord. I enjoy it. I enjoy it when I’m alone, when we’re praying as a family, or when we’re lifting up our voices altogether as one of His particular assemblies.

It’s interesting; when asked to volunteer for specific prayer “categories,” there are those who quickly chose to lead in repentance, in thanksgiving, or in requests, but many believers still don’t feel comfortable leading in praise. It can be learned. In fact, it’s tremendously comforting and uplifting praising our great God and Father.

I remember the song “Praise the Lord” popularized by Russ Taff or the group Imperials; it’s worth recalling repeatedly:

When you’re up against a struggle that shatters all your dreams
And your hopes have been cruelly crushed by Satan’s manifested schemes
And you feel the urge within you to submit to earthly fears
Don’t let the faith you’re standing in seem to disappear

Praise the Lord, He can work through those who praise Him
Praise the Lord, for our God inhabits praise
Praise the Lord, for the chains that seems to bind you
Serve only to remind you that they drop powerless behind you
When you praise Him

Now Satan is a liar and he wants to make us think
That we are paupers when he knows himself we’re children of the King
So lift up the mighty shield of faith for the battle must be won
We know that Jesus Christ has risen so the work’s already done

God-Glorifying Gifts

1 Peter 4:11   (KJV)   11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

We’re all gifted. Our extra-ordinarily gracious Father and God lavishes us with awesome gifts. He also enables us to use our gifts faithfully. This interplay of God’s amazing 1 Peter 4.11 - God-Glorifying Giftsgraciousness and our humble stewardship of His gifts result in the glorification of our Benefactor.

God knows, desires, and does what’s best for us. He chooses the kind of gifts we need. We gladly aceept the lot we’re given. No complains. The clay never questions the Potter. He Who knows everything, can do anything, and loves us most can be trusted with all we are.

We appreciate Him for being such a good and loving Father. We appreciate every gift He’s given us. And we show the sincerity of our delight and gratefulness through the way we care for and use His gifts. We don’t neglect them, misuse them, and abuse them. We give our best.

Although the influence of or pressure from the world is strong, our eyes are set: soli Deo gloria; we live for the glory of God alone. Sure, being rich and famous has a ring to it—a loud ring to many. Others go all out in using God’s gifts for their own aggrandizement. Not us; we understand that living for self-glorification is nothing compared to living for the honor or Him from Whom all our blessings flow—the greatest Being there is in existence.

Trials, Temptations, and Triumphs

1 Corinthians 10:13   (KJV)   13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Although there are many times when we feel like certain trials and temptations we face are very different from everyone else, more difficult compared to everyone else’s, the truth is they’re not. There may be a uniqueness of some sort, but not absolutely. We don’t 1 Corinthians 10.13 - Trials, Temptations, and Triumphsuse this as an excuse to give in to them. Besides, whatever they may be, and however differently they may appear, everytime God allows them to come, they’re opportunities for victory.

Praise God, He always leads us to victory. Part of His strategies is to give us wisdom. It’s that wisdom that causes us to be in step with Him instead of choosing to rebel against Him. He’s a loving God Who fills us with innumerable favor and immeasurable empowerment for us to take the right steps. Not every recipient of God’s blessings live uprightly, but those of us who desire to do so possess what it takes.

We don’t waste God’s precious gifts. Others may experience a tremendous amount of God’s kindness and generosity, but miss out heaven itself in the end. We’re surrounded by a great cloud of examples to follow and to avoid. We want to have faithful walk to the end. There’s an inexplicable joy and satisfaction in staying within the straight and narrow. We navigate through it with humility, always aware that even when we’re strongest, we can fall. We heed the warnings; we seek His instructions; we follow His Spirit’s leading. Trials, tests, and temptations will come; we faithfully fight, and we live as Christians—triumphant.

The Humble Heard

Psalm 10:17   (KJV)   17 Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:

The humble has their Champion. They’re not alone; God’s aware of whatever they’re going through. Others dread the thought of humility because of the potential of being abused and treated like rugs. But believers are called to this—not rugs but humility, and for us, it psalm-10-17-the-humble-heardisn’t a struggle at all. When this path of humility becomes difficult, our heavenly Father comes running with His arms extended, to embrace us into His comfort.

The temptations to fight back abound; there are so many situations when others could care less if they hurt us or not. They neither have any fear of God nor any regard for us. To them, we’re tools and pawns. Humility is definitely far from their thoughts and consideration. They take the opposite route. Some of them take it to a really dangerous extent. They raise their hearts and hands against the Lord; they affirm, support, and promote evil, serving only their interests, never others.

Our trust is in the Lord. His silence never means cowardice or defeat. The cries of our hearts are heard loudly in the heavens. They go straight into His ears, straight into His heart. God is never clueless about or apathetic to our plight. He pays full attention. Our time of waiting is His time of masterfully orchestrating our strengthening and growth, a time of setting up every “prop”—situation or person—in place, ready for the revelation of our exaltation to greatness. So yes, humility isn’t helplessness; it isn’t a demerit; it’s a great advantage.

The Blessed Rejects

Luke 6:22   (KJV)   22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.

Even with experiences considered as horrible, a believer is still so blessed. To be hated; to be rejected, excluded, or ostracized; to be mocked, slandered, and ridiculed; to be vilified, insulted, and cursed—in the natural, being dealt with in such ways can be very painful. luke-6-22-the-blessed-rejectsBut even in the middle of these seemingly very hurtful treatments, we still have reasons to leap for joy. All the sufferings we undergo because of our relationship with our precious Lord Jesus, taken altogether, are nothing compared to the glorious rewards awaiting us.

What God allows, it’s for our good. We trust Him as the One in complete control of everything. Yes, there are many factors involved; free will plays a big part. But even the most rebellious of men’s choices still play within the masterful orchestration of our Divine Maestro. That’s why we enjoy acting the way He tells us to. What matters most to us is loving, trusting, and obeying Him.

We may not have luxuries in life, but we’re blessed because we have access to the inexhaustible resource of our Dad’s Kingdom. We may not afford the most exotic food in the world, but we’re blessed because He satisfies our mouths with good things so that our vigor is renewed day by day. We may have nights of weeping, but we’re blessed because joy comes in the morning. We may be rejected by people, but we’re accepted by God.

We can love our enemies, love those who hate us, do good to those who do us bad, bless those who curse us. We leave vengeance to God; we don’t have qualms about parting with our material possessions to give to those in need; we know it’s more blessed to give than to receive. We forgive those who wrong us and pray for those who maltreat us. These we do never for a show but out of the goodness of God-changed, God-surrendered, and God-trusting hearts. This is the portrait of a unique breed of people—those blessed by God.