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“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope.”Romans 5:3-4 (KJV) A price tag cannot be placed upon the lessons learned in and through troubled times.  We often know how we should feel and respond, but to be honest, the character of that response may not been developed within us yet. Many call this faith while it is actually dishonesty. David, the Psalmist gave expression to his heart, having various trials, set-backs and disappointments, but asked God to work the right response within him. Our mere words alone will not deliver us, but what we are becoming as result of God s; working on us and in us is the aim. “Tribulation worketh patience and patience worketh experience or character. Eugene Peterson in the Message paraphrase puts it this way; “and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary — we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! It is through our…

Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, (2) as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,  (3) if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 1 Peter 2:1-3 The passions and desires of a converted saint are different from the cravings of the sinner. Even though there is still that memory of a life without power driven by the force of sin, he is now free to make better and wiser choices. One must be fully aware of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to save everyone who believes. The tensions that exist between the bondage of the past and the freedoms that lie ahead in the future will be ever present. Yet they are now expendable. These things may try to attach themselves to you, but they have been expelled from within you. This is what Peter was addressing when he instructed believers to lay all these other things aside. They do not give expression to the new nature within you.  You are now in control and responsible for how these things affect you. Allow your affections to be directed towards those things that add to your…

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25 Is Church the place that we attend or a people in the process of being made? Many place more emphasis on place than in purpose. It is not a matter of getting what we consider to be our needs met. To be honest, we do not really know precisely what our needs are. There are symptoms, but our needs go much deeper. God knows. He knows our frame or the substance on which all that we have become was constructed upon. The foundation of our soul; mind, will, and emotion, is taken into account when the Word of God is spoken under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We are challenged at the very core of our being in order to discover His intentions for our lives.  We are not in place to merely receive affirmations. They will only strengthen the soul in its rebellious state against the knowledge of God. He is our Father. He rebukes us, challenges us, and affirms us. Oftentimes Church becomes a very uncomfortable place. We…

“You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” Job 42:3 We all have spoken before we had given thought to what we should say.  Those words were merely from the top of heads and not words from the depth of our hearts. These words we live to regret if we ever develop a humble and a tender heart. It is the wisdom of God that tames our words enabling us to speak wisdom. When we have taken the time to seek the Lord in prayer and meditate over who He is and what He has done, we are more careful to think before we speak. Many a people have been misled by counsel that generated from the resources of the hearts of unregenerate men. They have listened to the counsel of the ungodly, even among the religious, and have followed the course that leads to destruction of the character and souls. God’s counsel is shrouded by the careless opinions and faulty interpretations of men. The Word of Truth is very precious. When we realize its true value we will seek…

“Since the One who saves and those who are saved have a common origin, Jesus doesn’t hesitate to treat them as family.” Hebrews 2:11 (MSG) We are members of the family of God and the household of faith. Regardless as to when we entered in or whether the member is born or adopted into the family, there is a place reserved for each one. Jesus saved us from the wrath of God. We were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. Not only were estranged from the covenant of promise, we had no desire to be otherwise. Jesus saved us from a path even before we possessed the sense or the strength to seek any other path. We sought any option other than the path that led to life. It was the common origin of sin that blinded us to the love of God expressed through His Son. Little wonder why we made the choices that we made then. Our actions were expressions of our family of origin. But God rescued us by adopting us into His family. Now our reorientation…

“but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ. —“ Ephesians 4:15 The alternative to flowing with the wind and being influenced by the culture is hearing that we might do what the Word says. It was Paul’s passion to speak only what the Lord had to say. Even though the message is a challenge to current culture, it is the expression of a higher and deeper dimension of love. It is spoken in love when the desire of the heart of the messenger is to see those he has been called to address grow into developing the character of Christ. Often the growth of the hearers may excel beyond the level of the speaker, but he should not be jealous of his spiritual children. Instead, he should encourage them to take what they have received beyond his level of understanding for the Word alive within the hearer increases as seed to produce a great harvest. Ministers should not waste time addressing every other subject rather than God’s Truth. There is no growth is these side issues. Christ is the answer to every problem but He can only be known…

“It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in.  He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb.” 1 Peter 1:18-19 The grace of God has been freely given to us but it is not cheap. Love requires sacrifice. And the more we love the greater the sacrifice. Since God is able to see the depth of our sinful state, only He would be able to convey to us what we needed in order to be set free. The naïve may think that a moderate adjustment is sufficient to stop the free-fall to destruction. But who independent of God is able to know the affect of even apparent innocent acts upon the character?  This is the environment in which all were raised. No one knows any other life than this. But God knew of our need for help. And He supplied it before we had the sense to desire it. Jesus Christ, God’s Son redeemed us with His blood while we were yet sinners. Now all must apply what has been appropriated for us if any is ever to benefit from such great a sacrifice.

“Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach.” Mark 3:14 The series of events are in sequential order. First they were appointed that they might be with Him. Then they were sent out to preach. If they had not come to Him when He called them to be with Him, they would not be in position to be sent out. They learned from Him how to live and what to preach by being with Him. It is not enough to merely hear about Him from a book or word of mouth. The experience must be personal. We are called to an intimate relationship with Him. His life is an open book to those who will to know Him. But to the casual inquirer, He is misunderstood and often misaligned. They accuse Him of things that is not a part of His character because they only know Him from a distance. John, the beloved disciple laid His head upon His breast. Peter the Zealot stepped out of the boat in order to join in on what Christ was experiencing while walking on the water. Intimacy includes both the emotional and experiential…

“I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” Revelation 3:8 The faithfulness of the saints provides endless opportunities in the future. Our future is determined by the decisions we currently make. An open door is set before those who know the name of the Lord. When His character is known and given expression He can then work through that individual without the objections of the flesh. The Holy Spirit’s assignment is to make Christ known to us. He reveals Him in the midst of even the most trying of circumstances. When He is known in truth, He will not be denied. We must maintain a steadfast faith in Him even though doors may now be closed before us. He can open doors that no man open and He can shut doors that no man can close. Even the little strength that is maintained is enough when His strength is at work within us. He will do His work among the weakest for His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses.

“For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 The external things may be impressive and rewarding to those who would settle for less than God’s approval. Men celebrate success and imitate the lives of those who appear to have accomplished what they one-day wish to achieve. It is often that gifts and talents may carry a person where character cannot maintain them. Their truest nature will all too often peek around the corner and betray them, thus exposing their motives. We cannot fool ourselves, nor will ourselves into having the heart of Christ. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to change our hearts so that our will is to do His will. All other works are rejected because the motives are not pure. We must pray that God would give us a clean and pure heart and a steadfast spirit. Then we must constantly pray that nothing would enter into our hearts to turn us away from remaining pure before God.