Keep On Going

Scripture has a way of speaking like nothing else. That is because it is God talking. As He speaks, we would do well to listen and then implement His directions.

Jesus made an astounding statement in Matthew 11:11. “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist.” Think about this verse, no one, that includes all the leaders of the world and every other person. God said John was the greatest. He surpasses Noah, Moses, David, Solomon, Paul, Mary, Timothy and anyone else who comes to your mind. 

This Baptister, who preached to crowds, had problems with his faith in adverse circumstances. When the Lord began His public ministry, John was in prison. He was guilty of preaching the truth. He said to Herod, the ruler, he was sinning by taking his brother’s wife (Mark 6:17,18). 

When John was in prison, He began to doubt. He was trying to settle in his mind if Jesus was the Messiah. John, like other Israelites, was expecting the Messiah to set up the Kingdom of God. John sent two of his disciples to Jesus. They asked Jesus if He was the “Coming One” (Matthew 11:3 NKJV).

The Lord did not answer their question directly. Jesus instructed John’s messengers to tell John what they had seen and heard. The Lord caused the blind to see, the lame walk… the dead raised, and the Gospel proclaimed. After these couriers left, Jesus proclaimed John was special. He proclaimed repentance when it was not popular to do so. John preached the truth regardless of who was in the audience. He remained steadfast to the Gospel. 

Now to the point. Everyone has weak moments, times of disappointments, and failures. We all have them. Afterward, it is time to ask for forgiveness, tell God you are sorry, pick yourself up, and keep on going for God. We serve a forgiving God. When He forgives, He forgets the forgiven sin. You will never be perfect on this earth in your human body. But you can ask forgiveness and keep on going for God. Do not believe the lies of Satan. He wants you to quit! God says, keep serving. Now, who are you going to believe?

Determination

Why I Do Some of the Things I Do

Hard-headed is a phrase I do not hear anymore. In my younger days, this term was common. Today, the word I hear is determination. Both have the same essence. The latter may be more socially correct. The meaning you have or practice says you are not willing to change.


How did you get that way? What makes you stand up for what you believe? Humanly speaking, it may be a wrong you suffered, and you are determined not to feel the same pain again. The result of your experience left an awful hurt in your life.

Some learn a new way to live. My Bible reading has reshaped my thinking and the way I do many things. It has made me more considerate and understanding. At the same time, it gives me the backbone to stand on God’s principles, regardless of what others may think or say about me.


Adopting Bible principles has given me a renewing determination to live the best that I can. My life is now more in line with God’s word than before. For me, it is an ever-improving revision of my thoughts and actions. God has placed within me a desire to be willing to make adjustments. He has changed my manner of living to prioritize better.

So, why does one do this? In essence, to please God. How does one do this? My simplistic answer—read the Bible. It has a way of speaking to my issues in life. It challenges and guides me in ways to improve my life and better serve Him.


Someone may say, I tried that; it didn’t enhance my life. That may be true in your present situation. God, however, has been faithfully dependable in taking care of you. The purpose of serving God is to please Him, not to get things from Him. Understanding this principle has taken many of us a good while to comprehend. Serving God is an eternal commitment and not for immediate rewards. 

Paul made this statement, “This one thing I do” (Philippians 3:13 KJV). This portion of the verse has given me a determination to serve God. In bad times and in good times. In sickness and in health. In lean times and abundant times. God is always God. Promising He will stick with us.


As in sports and life, quitters always lose out. I would rather be faithfully determined to serve God whether or not I have all my wants in life.

I know this one thing as a believer, I will stand before God and give an account of my life. That thought makes me more determined to serve Him faithfully. What about you?

Being Genuine

Genuine honesty is an admirable human characteristic. We tend to ask advice from those we trust.

Do you have someone who will be truthful with you even if it hurts? If you do, you have a true friend or family member—what a jewel. 

How does one become such an individual?


Usually, someone in your past was an actual example. Faithful to the truth. An individual who is willing to invest their life in you. One who was willing to share their time and life with you. They were investing in you. Their life spoke volumes to you. Their words may be few, but their manner of living demonstrated sincerity. 


So, how does one develop a genuineness apart from the human factor? For me, it’s the Bible, God’s Word. Many years ago, my Sunday school teacher showed me by example his love to teach God’s word to nine-year-old boys. He was genuine and honest in his calling. 

The ninth commandment says we should not tell lies. In other words, speak the truth, be genuine to the core. Looking genuine is different from being genuine. Genuineness comes from the heart. Your inner being the core of your soul. The appearance of genuineness is a façade. It looks good for a while but sooner or later the façade cracks and then crumbles.


One thing I discovered in my preteen years is liars cannot remember their lies. I found that discovery is still true today. What I also realized I never forget the truth. Truth has permanence.

Genuineness has a life—it lives on.  If you want to leave a good lasting memory—be genuine on good days and sad days. It will speak loudly in the ears of those who heard your words. It will also bring back visions of your integrity to those who watched you, whether it was near or far.


Unnoticed


The limelight is not for me. But some enjoy it. Ninety-nine percent of our world will never be known outside their immediate surroundings. Most will remain unnoticed by the world. If only one percent of the world’s population has a reputation beyond their circle of influence, there would be over seven million celebrities. How many of those can you call by name? A hundred, two hundred, how about 1000. Now, out of all those you can name, how many do you respect? Do they have character traits that you want to emulate? Are those traits the kind you wish your kids or grandkids to duplicate?

There is a food bank serving the area where I live. They give out over 30,000 meals per month. They have a paid staff which is less than five. I can only name two. Volunteers, mostly retirees, accomplish the real work. They do a tremendous work for the area, although the individuals are unknown by the community. The demand for assistance is enormous. So, they are working toward expanding their facilities to serve more people, all by donations. 

The above principle applies to the Lord’s work also. Only a few are known by name. Most are unknown, but God knows all of them. Our Lord uses the unknown saints more than the famous ones. The nameless do the little unappreciated things, but necessary things, and they are glad to do it.

We do not know Elijah’s background or his deeds before he appeared to Ahab in I Kings 17. Elijah appears suddenly out of nowhere and announced to King Ahab it would not rain for three years.

No doubt, Elijah and God were not strangers before this. The prophet had a proven track record with God. However, it is not recorded in the Bible, although the prophet’s relationship with God is highly esteemed. Elijah is one of two people in the Bible transported to heaven without dying. Would God have done that with a nobody?

We know nothing about the upbringing of Mary, the mother of Jesus. However, in her background, there had to be an unshakable dedication to God. Faith known only to God, but probably not to others or maybe just a few. She remained faithful all her life. You can find her in the Upper Room in Acts chapter one after the Lord’s ascension.Faithfulness, although unnoticed by many, is recognized by God.

Whatever your station in life, whether good or poor health, wealth or poverty, noticed or unnoticed, one thing is sure, God knows your character. He keeps track of your deeds and words. The Lord remembers every prayer. Are you praying for others, or are your prayers only for selfishness? 

One thing is sure, nothing goes unnoticed by God.

Freely You Have Received

Is it a delusion, or is it real? It seems like many want things for free. The Bible says the laborer is worthy of his hire (Luke 10:7). If we do not work, we do not eat. This principle applies to temporal things. What about spiritual things? 

The Lord was commissioning the Twelve disciples to perform ministry for the unredeemed in Israel. The Disciples were to heal the sick and lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons. They received this commission and power without charge. Then Jesus said, you have this authority for free so give it out for free. Serving God is a free opportunity on our part. We choose to do it or refuse to do it. Life and service are always about choices.

We, Christians, received our salvation free of charge. No internship required. No payment plan for redemption was necessary. It was the grace of God that allowed us to hear the gospel of salvation (Romans 3:24). 

Churches supported Paul to proclaim the Lord to those who did not know their way to heaven. Paul did not charge the lost, unredeemed world to hear him preach (II Corinthians 11:7,8). To them, it was free. Salvation is open to all who will accept the message of God—Jesus the Messiah who redeems. 

Whoever hears and accepts the gospel owes a special thanks to those who led us to the Lord’s saving grace. This truth reminds believers, the grace of God is always working to save the lost. God needs messengers to present the plain simple truth of salvation to those without His redeeming knowledge. 

The New Testament closes out with the Book of Revelation. In its last chapter, an invitation gives the Saints (those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb—Jesus) permission to drink freely of the water of life (v-17). 

There is another invitation to every servant of God. To give your time and talents to the Lord (Romans 12:11, Ephesians 2:10, 4:16, I Peter 4:10-11). Whether in a kind word or assisting someone in placing their groceries in the car, do it for God. Whatever you give or do is the result of you freely receiving our loving Savior. “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8 NKJV).

Let Your Imagination Go

The Christmas season has come and gone. The time of bearing gifts has passed but, our God-given skills and talents know no season. Many times, we take our abilities for granted. Everything we have is a gift.


Today we look at some overlooked gifts. The first on the list is intelligence. I am not the smartest person around. God’s intervention allowed me to recognize my need for a Savior, Jesus. God gave me the smarts to ask Jesus into my heart. What a remarkable change He brought to me. The acceptance of Jesus as my Savior is the best thing I ever did. 


God gave me a personality. I am not the life of the party; I’m an introvert by nature. My best conversations are with God. No one else around. Most of the time, when I’m around others, I’m the quiet one. When I speak up and engage in conversations, my thoughts often reflect my devotional times. Those thoughts reveal some of my imagination, not the ones of fantasy, but things of concern and value to me.

I imagine what it would be like to see Jesus for the first time. Or how I would get along with some in heaven—the ones I do not understand here. Yet in heaven, we will both be there as believers, and our understanding will have expanded. There are numerous other differences to explore, but we will not go there.


There are times I ask for forgiveness for not utilizing those precious gifts He has provided. This is where I used the gift of repentance—asking for forgiveness for neglecting His provisions. By doing this, I can go on to accomplish what He wants me to do.

God is ever faithful even when we are not. Aren’t you glad the Lord looks beyond our failures? He uses us sometimes despite who we are.  Do you thank God for what you have? Do you have a dream to do things for God? Would you trust Him to do the unimaginable for Him? Turn your imagination loose; stop holding it back. Let God use you.

Pure Simplicity

Simplicity may be the greatest ignored attribute of an adult. We tend to make things complicated. We do not know why. But we do. This verse, yes, this Bible verse goes on, “Simplicity with godly sincerity” (II Corinthians 1:12 ESV). Those four words got me thinking. Deep thoughts about examining my actions and analyzing myself. What are my motives behind what I do? Who am I trying to please? The list goes on…


Christ challenges us to be like children trusting Him with simplicity.

It seems most adults ignore simple things, plain English type of things. The exception may be those who work with young children. These people have a keen sense of simplicity because they know how a young mind works. Their sentences are literal without ambiguous statements. Most of us want to make adults out of young people before their time. We forget it took us years to become adults. We forget the simplicity of life and the sweetness of innocence. 


Life begins and ends. What we do in between determines our eternal future. Throughout the gospels, Jesus spoke of simple truths to those seeking Him. He used parables for those who wanted to twist the truth. 

Life is what we make it. Trust God, ignore God, obey God, or disobey God. The choices are easy. The effects of our decisions have eternal ramifications. Why do we make it so hard? 

Prayer should be simple. You are not going to impress God with big words and long sentences. God listens to pure simplicity, not your multi-syllable vocabulary. God’s heart is pure. He wants us to be like Him. Sincerity with simplicity leads us to God’s heart.

So, Open The Door

How is the outlook for your life this year? Is it bright or one of gloom?

It’s all in how you look at it. To some this sounds crazy. Others will say you do not know what is going on in my life. That is true. I don’t.


Every day you breathe is a new day to encourage yourself or another. Invest a moment in an act of kindness to a total stranger or a member of your family. It can be a smile, a word, or an action. It may be small in one’s eyes and huge in another. Seemingly unnoticed by most, but recognized by a few.

I compliment those who hold the door open for me, particularly if they are young. Usually, a polite young person has a loving, caring parent or two. They may not know your heartfelt appreciation. But for me, it gives me hope for the next generation. Manners are still important in this hurried up world. God particularly notices good deeds. He values them so much, He records them in His heavenly journals. 


Who would have thought the Almighty noticed your act of kindness—He did. He sees everything! He rewards every good deed for the believer.

When you are having a bad day, week, or month, stop and reflect a minute. Look at the positive things going on in your life. Is there a roof over your head? Did you eat yesterday? If so, you have more than millions of people around the world. God allows you to have what others do not. 


You can make this a great day, week, or month, maybe the year, by changing your outlook. Only you can do that. No one else can do it for you. No, you may not have all the things you want, but things do not bring eternal happiness. A change of scenery may give a moment of gratitude, but it’s all temporary. It is your mindset that will change the way you see things in life and your opportunities. 

So, open the door to a new outlook. You will be surprised at what is on the other side. 

You Were Counted Worthy

What a year. It was terrible for many. Your dreams shattered. Maybe even your jobs, homes, health, or spirituality. These experiences have produced despair. 

You are not alone. Others are with you, but you do not know them.


There is hope. This coming year will change things in your life. Somehow, someway, things will begin to improve. You probably will not notice the oncoming rays of change. Your clawing, pulling, pushing will consume all your energy.

Somewhere down the road of life, you will notice a difference in the scenery. You will then see things getting better, not like the way things used to be but, its improvement over your past despair. The waters are becoming clearer, not crystal clear, but more transparent.


It is probably at this point gratitude comes to light. You thank God for where you are and for where you have been. Somehow you see the spiritual side of life. Life is more than jobs, houses, and even health; it is about our relationship with God. 


Daniel kept losing his job as each new ruler arrived on the scene. A couple build a room in which Elisha could lodge (II Kings 4:10). Hezekiah lost his health. Isaiah, the Prophet, told him he was going to die soon. But Hezekiah prayed and wept before the Lord. The Prophet returned and said, “God heard your prayer and has extended your life for 15 years” (II Kings 20:5,6). 


These are some examples of hope. Whether or not our dreams come true, we need to realize God works things out for our good. Faithfulness to God is crucial no matter what life throws at us. Remember, He “will not allow you to be tempted” more than you can endure (I Corinthians 10:13). So be thankful that you were worthy to hear the gospel. It is more than we deserve.

Many in this world do not know the inner peace we have as believers. Jesus said He would never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). He has kept His word. May we serve Him with thankful hearts as long as we have breath.

Why Celebrate

Mankind is approaching the season when most nations observe the birth of Christ. 

Christmas is the celebration of the Son of God being born into humanity.

Only a handful of people in Israel knew of the Lord’s lowly birth. However, it was a celebration in heaven. Jesus was on a mission to purchase the salvation of believers.

Circumstances concerning His conception and birth are miraculous. The God-given signs start with a virgin—Mary. A young lady who was obedient to God. She knew ahead of time; her miracle child would be a son, and His name would be Immanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23). 

Isaiah 9:6 declares several things regarding this child. First, His birth would express His humanity and earthly identity. Secondly, the term “Son” reveals His deity.

The Prophet, Isaiah, then continues in describing His character. The first addresses His millennial government which would rest entirely on His shoulders. The following titles represent characteristics of His personality.


“Wonderful” delineates He is exceptional in all that He does. No one else is like Him or ever will be. “Counselor” distinguishes His ability to solve all problems, both spiritual and human. The advice of God is heavenly in all its applications giving proof of His deity. “Mighty God” describes not only His wisdom but also His power. For all things exist by Him (Revelation 4:11). “Everlasting Father” relates to everything Jesus does and is. His works, words, and Being are eternal (Hebrews 13:8). Last, another godly description, “Prince of Peace.” There is no turmoil in the Trinity, no more trouble in heaven—Satan and his demons were cast out and confined to a Christless eternity.

So, when we celebrate Christmas, we celebrate Christ, His birth, reign, and presence.


For without Christ, we would be most miserable.

When you think of Christmas, think of sharing His birth and His return.