1 Corinthians 15:10 NKJV - "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was in me."
Paul knew what he was and whatever he accomplished for good, was God at work in and through him. Therefore, God should receive all the praise. But, he also knew that he could fail and when he did, God wasn't to be blamed. The same should be our sense of recognizing that God should always be honored and due recognition given to Him for any deed that we might do that blesses anyone. And if we fail, or better yet, when we fail, we should be responsible enough to admit our fault and accept the blame.
Peter wept bitterly when he denied the Lord. He knew he had failed. But praise to the Lord for restoring Peter and giving him a renewed calling to bring honor to his Savior.
Psalm 147:5 NKJV - "Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite."
When no one seems to understand you, remember, God does! And He understands you better than you understand yourself! His understanding is without limit. And this is important when you face a problem that you don't understand and you don't know what you should do about it. I have found that spending much time alone with the Lord when I'm troubled over some issue or situation that He gives me a "heavenly view" on the problem and shows me how to handle it. Praying makes it possible for me to see a situation through God's eyes.
When King Hezekiah faced the threat and angry letter from the Assyrian General, he took that letter and "spread it out before the Lord." Hezekiah didn't understand what he should do, but he knew enough to bring this problem literally before the Lord. God assured him that the king didn't have to fight a battle with weapons. He was already fighting his real battle in prayer and Hezekiah would come out victorious! See Isaiah 37:14-38
Deuteronomy 7:7,8 NKJV - "The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number...but because the Lord loves you and because He would keep His oath which He swore..."
Two reasons why you and I were chosen by God: One, because He loved us! Two, because choosing us would fulfill His promise He made to Himself which was to choose a people (Israel and the Church) which would bring Him great glory and pleasure. He didn't choose us because of something "good" in us. He chose us because of what was GOOD in Him!
It's great to know God loves us. But lets not think we were ever worthy of His love. But we were the objects of His love due to His own will. Like Jesus said in John 15:16, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you..."
That can be humbling to know we didn't deserve any consideration from God. But it also can be thrilling to know that God would set His mind and heart on us because He wanted to! Not only does God love you and me, He also wants us! We are His delight.
James 2:13 NKJV - "For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment."
Want Mercy? Give It. Won't Give it? Won't get it! Got it?
God is rich in mercy towards us and saves us by His grace and mercy. Someone has said that grace gives us what we don't deserve and mercy holds back what we do deserve. Grace gives Heaven. Mercy keeps us out of Hell. God wants us to show mercy especially when we don't think someone deserves it. That's where we were once with God. We didn't deserve His mercy but He gave it anyway. Now it's our turn to show mercy to those who deserve judgment. But, as our verse says, "mercy triumphs over judgment." When you think its time to "get even" with someone, throw mercy at them instead of stones. Watch the result!
Matthew 10:8 NKJV - "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give."
Do to others what has already been done to you, as much as God enables you to do so. The idea of "freely give" is simple: someone gave you out of their kindness. Do the same with someone else.
I'd like to encourage you to ask God each day to give you an opportunity to share with others something already shared with you. It could be money, or clothing items that you have too many of, it could be a booklet you found most helpful to you, it can certainly be the Gospel, and it can also be words of encouragement and advice you found helpful. It can also be something simple as a smile. Point is - give. Another "point" is - keep what you have and miss the joy of giving.
1 Peter 3:16 NKJV - "Having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed."
"When men speak evil of you, live so no one will believe them!" Remember, your testimony is far more than just words. Your conduct says far more about you than your words do. You may face unjust accusations and outright lies. You may feel frustrated that you can't prove yourself right. Remember - God's knows the truth. And in His good time He will show your integrity. But remember also, Jesus was accused wrongfully as well and He just kept quiet. Again, He knew His Father knew the truth. That was enough for Him. Is that enough for you?
Also, keep a good conscience. You don't want to give the devil a handle in your life that he can hold against you. Be honest from the start and you'll have no regrets.
John 15:2 NKJV - "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit."
Two important points in this verse:
First: "...He takes away..." can and probably should be translated, "He lifts up..." The meaning is that some branches of fruit or vegetable bearing plants can hang down into the dirt. A good gardener does just "lop them off" but "lifts them up" out of the dirt. The symbolism is a Christian "hanging down" in some sin. God will seek to lift that one out of the "dirt" so they can be fruitful.
Second: "He prunes..." meaning that God strips away unwanted activities in a Christian's life so they can concentrate on yielding fruit for the Lord. Branches are trimmed so the life-giving sap can flow into the parts of the branch that will produce fruit for God's glory.
Thank the Lord for His "lifting up" and "pruning" in your life. More fruit means glory to God and joy to your soul!
Luke 17:15,16 NKJV - "And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan."
Ever wished you had expressed "thanks" to someone, but you didn't when you could have/should have done so? I think we all have "been there, done that!'
Thinking about Thanksgiving - what are you thankful for now that at one time you were very unthankful? Is there something God didn't allow you to have and now you're very thankful He didn't? What or who are you missing now, but you're thankful for the minutes, days, years you did enjoy that person or that thing? What are you willing to say "thank you" for and it hasn't even happened yet? Think about Philippians 4:6, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God." That's thanking the Lord for the answer He will give.
1 Timothy 4:4, "For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving."
Romans 12:1 NKJV - "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God which is your reasonable service."
What's yours? What do you call your own? Think about your body, your life, your ambitions and desires, your family, your wealth (or lack thereof), your job, education, past achievements and awards, etc., etc. What of all that actually belongs to you? How you answer that is going to say a lot about your relationship with...well, you know WHO! If I claim anything as being mine, then I'm not where I need to be with God. All that I am, and all that I call "my own" belongs to Him! And if you really think about that, it's one of the most liberating thoughts a person can have!! If I know its not mine, and more importantly, if I know I've given all this to the Lord, then I know He owns everything. Not me! And if He takes what is His, well, it was His to take. If I grasp onto something and He takes it, I think I've been robbed! But if I have given ownership of all that I have to Him, then I accept that He can do whatever He wishes to do with what is His!
A great illustration I heard years ago was the account of a wealthy agricultural icon from the Midwest. He was told that his entire crop of wheat had been lost to a locust invasion. A preacher happened to be visiting with this man and asked him how was he going to handle this. His answer was beautiful! "If God wants to feed His locusts with His wheat, then that's His business! The wheat was His, the locusts are His, and so am I. If He can feed His locusts, why should I think He won't take care of me?!"
The best thing you can do with what you call "your own" is to surrender it all to God! You'll have peace and He will know that nothing comes between you and Him.
Isaiah 43:2b NKJV - "...When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you."
Remember Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? They were Daniel's three friends who were thrown into the fiery furnace because they would not bow down to the king's idolatrous statue. They were willing to face the fire knowing they could face their God with no shame. God honored their faith and loyalty by literally standing in the fire with them and, truly, they were not scorched! (Daniel 3:27). Not all "fiery trials" will result with no pain. Many believers have literally been burned to death, but they had God's grace sufficient for them to face such torture. God has promised always to be with His own and that includes you. Don't ever be ashamed to stand true to Him in spite of whatever may happen. You have His promise to face the trial with you.
Daily commentary and insight from Pastor Eckardt.
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Mt Ephraim Baptist Church | 25 S. Black Horse Pike | Mt Ephraim, NJ 08059
Senior Pastor, Stephen A. Eckardt | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Phone: 856.981.7288