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“But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.” Philippians 1:12 The trials of the Apostle Paul was sent to destroy him on the part of the enemy, but allowed to prove him on the part of God. Faith is not a mere idea of the mind, but a disposition of the heart. It is able to withstand the onslaught of challenges that would otherwise wear one down. When we are tried and pass the test, on the other side of that victory is a special grace useful in the furtherance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We can then all the more identify with the price He paid by enduring much more than we could ever face in this life. There is a message preached by some who are void of experience that may stir the emotions and impress its hearers. But there is another message deeply rooted in experiences aligned with the sufferings of Christ. That message is able to make a deep impact upon its hearers because they not only hear it but see it. We live our message much louder than we…

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30 The two most important truth contained within this Scripture is when Jesus is truly recognized, it is His influence and not our own that must take precedence. We are given influence in order to influence others to see and know Him. Some may not remember us, but that is not the most important thing. If they are enabled to see Him and be led by Him, the work of God is complete and the reward in heaven awaits us. Secondly, our moment in the sun is temporary. Ours is to prepare the way for those who will take our place. A good spiritual leader must maintain his sight on eternity yet recognize the continuing work in time. Who will be our successors, and will they exceed us in effectiveness? Fathers must pass the baton or torch to their sons to run the relay race excelling beyond the old record that was previously set. Records are set to be broken. As the knowledge of Jesus Christ increases, there will be a generation that will reach cultures and penetrate places beyond our abilities. But we must train them for the task that lie ahead….

 “for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” 1 John 4:20 There is that moment in the life of every Christian where love is indiscriminately distributed. This is the mark of true conversion that one has passed from death unto life. It does not mean that the person will remain there, but if he has never been there, he has never received conversion. All too often very little is required of the seeker that limits his expectations of God. If God does not require the whole heart of the individual, how can that individual expect to receive the fullness of Christ? The test is openness to others with a heart overflowing with love. We cannot contain the authentic love of God for its objective is to be given away. Our mission is to fully follow after Him allowing His love to be shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. If we love Him we will love our brother, love, and keep His commandments.

“You shall have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:3 In an age of diversity, tolerance, and political correctness, to speak exclusively that One would stand out among the crowd condemning all others beside as false, lifeless, and insignificant. So it is with God who has no respect for other gods. None other is to be worshiped and the exclusive course to the Father is through His Son, Jesus Christ.  What is most difficult to many is to understand the effect of original sin. None had access because of man’s nature as sinners. When sin is ignored then the need for a Savior is unnecessary. But thanks be to God, a provision was made through the death of His own Son that we might be redeemed! Idolatry is the pursuit of a god that is either after Him or in place of Him. He must stand alone. He is to be worshiped. Renounce any idols in your life that may be competing for your exclusive obedience to Him.

“For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required.” Luke 12:48 God expects a return on His investments. The gifts of God are given to each person in order for all to profit as result of His distributions. It is not based on what most would consider as the criteria for God’s judgments. God is not equal in His judgments, but He is equitable. Grace is freely given, but God determines who will receive what is being distributed. Yet we may covet what we deem as necessary, but it must only be for the advancement of His kingdom and not our own. When our hearts yearn to do more for God and we feel powerless to fully participate with Him in what He wills to do, it is in order to seek Him for the empowering gifts that would further qualify us. Yet in our earnestness to receive, it does not obligate Him to any measure to give us what we consider to be necessary. He will give us what He knows is best for ourselves as well as others. But the warning is not to frustrate the grace of God. What God gives must be used…

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, (7) that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” 1 Peter 1:6-7 Faith is placed on trial when you are given a seemingly legitimate reason to rebel against God as the result of current circumstances and the decisions of others. Logically the thing to do would be to disobey God and partake of the forbidden, or curse God for relief that does not seem to be on the horizon or even a part of the plan. One is for self-gratification and the other is to remedy the effect of constant misery. Faith rises in the midst of trials as being more precious than whatever the outcome would have been if you had relented in the midst of your greatest and most fierce battles. It is precious because in the end, God will prove Himself to be faithful. He will reward those who do not cave in under pressure, and will avenge them from…

“And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.” James 3:6-7 Words give expression to the disposition of the heart. Eventually, not always immediately, the mouth will be engaged in speaking the truest feelings that reside deep within the soul. It is never a matter of merely guarding your words in order to sound off appropriate expressions. The issue must be addressed at its root. From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. When the heart is rightly governed, the tongue is sure to follow. But what comes out of a man defiles him for when he speaks he spreads the contagion to others. You are responsible for how you influence the people with whom you come in contact. Not just your body, but the whole body is defiled and set to follow the course of nature. It is what you have heard in the past that has influenced your future. Sweet water must flow from a pure fountain for no bitter water is contained there. God gave…

 “A man is not established by wickedness, but the root of the righteous cannot be moved.” Proverbs 12:3 There are many courses available to every man. Some seem more attractive than others and some in appearance, have no appeal. Yet it is required of each man to choose his course. At the beginning of the journey, it is difficult when we only use our experiences as the criteria for future actions. Then only pain pleasure are the factors when integrity is not the rule. Many shipwrecked lives and casualties of failed hopes and dreams scatter the ditches and graves of those who made decisions on the level of senses. Their attempt to make it at all cost was more costly than they had bargained for. But the righteous rejected the path of immediate gratification. The delay in waiting on the Lord’s guidance positioned them to hear His voice leading them around the fatal ditches and pitfalls of the enemy. They withstood the trends and the waves of popular opinion. They remained faithful when all else around them failed in order to receive the singular applause of the Father’s affirmation of “well done!”

 “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (2) And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”  2 Tim 2:1-3 There is a need to maintain the consistency of effort in fulfilling a shared vision. The instructions of Paul were received because he both trained and taught his disciples in the ways of Jesus Christ. If his life contradicted his message, it would have been hypocritical for him to expect more from others than he was willing to do. Not only did they observe his manner of life, his reputation was widespread among many witnesses. It is good to be able to say that your life is a life committed to Christ, but it is far more significant for others to bear witness of your commitment. Therefore he was able to exhort his disciples to commit to others what they collectively were committed to. This is a day where true commitment is needed desperately. The world needs to see examples of committed saints of God modeling before them faithfulness to the Lord and His Word. At that…

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:11 God’s love obligates us without force. We are rather persuaded by His love if it is authentic. As we grow in knowledge of the dimensions of the love released from the Father through the Son to us, our confidence in Him increases. To know His love is to know that He has our best interest at heart. We are secure in Him with a positive expectation of the future. The present challenges are but temporary and momentary while God is working behind the scene for our good. The challenge to love others is usually stifled by our own insecurities. When there is a question regarding our own acceptance, we would have the tendency to hoard whatever we may have the opportunity to either possess or even manage. The knowledge of His love liberates us to love others. If we know that God so loved us, our response that His love is working in us ought to be translated into loving one another. If we cannot love one another, the question is not in relation to them but in relation to Him. To know His…