He has made everything beautiful in its time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
When I look back on my life, at the things God has allowed me to do and the opportunities He has opened up, I can see the wisdom of His perfect timing.
Our tendency is to rush things, but just because something has not yet happened in your life doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t happen tomorrow. And that doesn’t mean it won’t happen a month or a year from now.
Perhaps one phase of your life is ending and another is beginning. Maybe everything that has happened to you up to this point in your life has been preparation for what is still ahead.
Moses’ ministry didn’t get going until he was 80 years old. Wandering out there in the desert of Midian with his little flock of sheep, he probably thought his life was pretty much over. In reality, it was just about to begin.
Then there was Caleb, another Israelite who left Egypt in the Exodus. Along with Joshua, Caleb came back full of optimism and belief when they were sent to spy out the Promised Land. But when the Israelites believed the pessimistic report of the 10 other spies, God was so displeased that He refused to allow them to enter the land.
Wait on the Lord
Years later, when Joshua led a new generation of Israelites into the Promised Land, Caleb was among them. And at 80 years old, he told Joshua:
I’m asking you to give me the hill country that the LORD promised me. You will remember that as scouts we found the Anakites living there in great, walled cities. But if the LORD is with me, I will drive them out of the land, just as the LORD said. (Joshua 14:12 NLT)
Joshua gave him his little segment of land, as promised, and Caleb drove out all of its inhabitants. Caleb believed God’s promises, and God was faithful. We need to do the same.
David offered the same advice with these words: “Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD! (Psalm 27:14 NIV)
Do you ever feel as though you are not “worthy” enough to approach God in prayer?
If so, then read this Scripture:
His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by sending Jesus Christ to die for us. And he did this because he wanted to! Now all praise to God for his wonderful kindness to us and his favor that he has poured out upon us because we belong to his dearly loved Son. (Ephesians 1:5-6 TLB)
What God has done for us
So often, we hear about what we are supposed to do for God. But the emphasis of the Bible is not so much on what we are supposed to do for God, but rather on what God has done for us.
If we can get hold of that in our minds and hearts, it will change our outlook and actions. The more we understand of what God has done for us, the more we will want to do for Him.
This is no small truth. In fact, it’s fundamental to our spiritual lives.
The devil would love to keep you from praying at all by reminding us how “unworthy” we are—telling us, in effect, that we have a lot of nerve to even think that we could approach a holy God. He whispers, “Do you think that God would hear your prayers after what you have done?” But the real question to ask is this: “Is Jesus Christ worthy to come into the presence of the Father whenever He wants?” Of course, He is.
“Accepted in the Beloved”
The fact is that we are “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). Because Christ has open access to the presence of the Father at any time, we have the same access when we come to God the Father through our relationship with Jesus. It’s not on the basis of what we have done for God. It is solely on the basis of what Christ has done for us.
Listen to the writer to the Hebrews:
And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. This is the new, life-giving way that Christ has opened up for us through the sacred curtain, by means of his death for us. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s people, let us go right into the presence of God, with true hearts fully trusting him. (Hebrews 10:19-21 NLT)
I just can’t imagine any better news than that.
Even the most committed believer has those moments when fear or worry can kick in.
Anxiety can overtake us. Maybe we’re concerned about our future, feel discouraged about some of our failures and shortcomings, or find ourselves anxious about the lives of our family members.
Far too often, though, we are afraid of the wrong things in life, and not afraid of the right things . . . or the right One. Many people don’t fear God, giving Him the awe and the reverence that is His due. Yet the Bible tells us that the fear of the Lord is the very beginning of wisdom.
What is the “fear of the Lord?”
The Bible says that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever” (Psalm 111:10).
To fear God doesn’t mean that we cowering in terror before Him. Rather, the fear of God has been properly defined as a wholesome dread of displeasing Him. If I have sinned, my fear should not be based on the anticipation of what God will do to me, but on what I have done to displease Him. I love Him so much that I would never want to grieve His heart by turning my back on Him or going my own way. That is what it means to fear the Lord.
Don’t be discouraged today
David wrote, “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever” (Psalm 19:9). It is good for us to fear Him. The remarkable thing is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else. On the other hand, if you don’t fear God, then you fear everything else, and you find yourself running from shadows.
In another psalm, David stated, “The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1). Only the person who can say, “The Lord is the strength of my life,” can then say, “Of whom shall I be afraid?”
Maybe you feel that your life has been a failure, or perhaps find yourself discouraged, depressed, or afraid of something. If you’re gripped by fear and worry today, then let the Lord be the strength of your life. Trade in all your lesser and destructive fears for the fear that will bring wisdom and peace.
In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2)
We don’t have to be stressed out or troubled in our hearts because, as Christians, our destination is eternal life in heaven. No matter what happens, no one can rob us of that great hope.
Maybe you’ve lost your job or your car won’t start. Maybe you have all kinds of problems in your life right now. But you are still going to heaven.
The apostle Paul encouraged the church with these words:
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our inner strength in the Lord is growing every day. These troubles and sufferings of ours are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long. Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest blessing upon us forever and ever! So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys in heaven which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 TLB).
The surest word in the universe
Jesus promises that there is a real place called heaven, and you have His word on it—the surest word in all the universe.
Now when Jesus said, “In My Father’s house are many mansions,” I don’t believe He was speaking of a celestial Beverly Hills with beautiful, palatial mansions for those who live really godly lives on Earth. The Amplified Bible renders this verse: “In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places (or homes).”
Who can begin to imagine what these “homes” or “dwelling places” will be like? All I know is that Jesus Himself—the One who created the universe with all its wonders—has been working on preparing a place for us for more than 2,000 years.
I can only imagine
I agree with Paul when he wrote: “No mere man has ever seen, heard, or even imagined what wonderful things God has ready for those who love the Lord” (2 Corinthians 2:9 TLB).
Jesus has promised us that we will be together with Him in heaven, for eternity, in the place He has prepared for us. And He will keep His word.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25).
The older we become, the more the question gnaws away at us: Is there life after death?
Sometimes, we ask that question earlier in life, when someone close to us dies without warning, and we come face-to-face with the uncomfortable fact of death.
Some Christians will say, “I’m going to go to heaven, so when I die, don’t weep for me.”
But death is hard for everyone, and there’s nothing wrong with feeling sorrow over the loss of someone you care about. It’s a natural part of the grieving process. As the Bible says, there is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh” (Ecclesiastes 3:4).
Death brings great sadness
Death even brought tears to the eyes of Jesus when His friend Lazarus died (see John 11:35). Of course, we know there is life beyond the grave for Christians. We know that life is not limited to this time on Earth, and that our stay on this planet is temporary. Even so, it is only natural to feel sorrow and loss for a Christian who has died.
When the apostle Paul’s friend and fellow worker Epaphroditus fell gravely ill, Paul wrote in a letter: “Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow” (Philippians 2:27 NIV). So even Paul, who certainly had a strong faith and his theology straight, could hardly bear the thought of being separated from a close friend by death.
Nevertheless, as believers, we know we will see that person again in heaven. That is God’s great gift to us. His Son Jesus personally intervened and turned death into victory.
The fear of dying
The writer of the Book of Hebrews put it like this:
Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. (Hebrews 2:14-15 NLT)
The Southern California Harvest at Angel Stadium is only 17 days away, and I have a question for you.
Do you care enough to share the gospel with someone?
The apostle Paul cared so much he shed tears over those that did not believe, saying, “I wrote to you in deep distress and out of a most unhappy heart (I don’t mind telling you I shed tears over that letter), not, believe me, to cause you pain but to show you how deep is my care for your welfare.” (2 Corinthians 2:4 PHILLIPS).
Lessons from the Titanic
Even before the movie Titanic arrived on the big screen in 1997, people have been fascinated by its story. Clearly, many mistakes were made that led to its sinking. Although it was called the unsinkable ship, it sank—and relatively easily, at that.
We know that 1,500 people perished in an icy grave. We know there weren’t enough lifeboats on board. We also know that many of the lifeboats went out half-full, some with only four or five people, when they had the capacity to carry at least 60 people.
There was room on the lifeboats
But one of the greatest tragedies about the Titanic is the fact that while there was room in the lifeboats, no one went back to save anyone else. They rowed out a distance from the sinking vessel because they were afraid of the suction caused by the ship sinking. Survivors said they could hear the screams of the people as the Titanic finally disappeared below the surface.
Here were people in lifeboats that had room for more! They could have rowed back and pulled others in, and yet they did nothing about it. They waited for about an hour, and then they went back. By then, they were only able to save a handful of people. They waited until it was too late.
People are drowning!
Right now, there is a lost world around us. People are going down, and we have room in our lifeboat. Do we care enough to go and pull them on board? Do we care enough to do something for them? Or will we say, “They should have gotten into the boat when there was time”?
The apostle Paul wrote concerning his own countrymen, “Dear brothers, the longing of my heart and my prayer is that the Jewish people might be saved” (Romans 10:1 TLB). Do you have a concern in your heart for lost people? Do you long for your neighbors, friends, co-workers, and family members to know the Lord? That is where it starts.
Many ways to attend a Harvest Crusades event
Even if you do not live here in Southern California,you can still take advantage of the Southern California Harvest. It will be webcast live on our Web site in high-quality HD video.
So start thinking and praying now about who you can ask to either come in person to the event, or watch online. Care enough to share!
“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14 NKJV).
In a broad sense, we should pray about everything. But there are certain things that we don’t need to pray about.
For example, if someone were to say, “Greg, I’m praying about robbing a bank. Would you pray with me?” I will pray for that person, but I won’t pray that God will bless their efforts.
Why? Because the Bible says, “You shall not steal.” We don’t need to pray about that.
Yet, there are certain things God tells us we can pray for.
- He tells us we can pray for wisdom. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5 NKJV).
- We can pray for His provision. Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (NKJV).”
- We can pray for protection. Psalm 91:5-7 says, “You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you (NKJV).”
- We can pray for power to meet the challenges of life. Ephesians 1:18-19 tells us: “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe (NIV).”
The key to effective prayer is getting our will in alignment with God’s will, as the verse at the top of today’s post explains. Nothing lies outside the reach of prayer, except that which lies outside of the will of God.
We’ve all heard the question before.
“Is it okay for a Christian to. . . .(fill in blank here)?”
Perhaps you are asking it right now.
As Christians, we want to avoid the things that will hurt us spiritually. There are not only things that will build us up, but there are also things that will tear us down. When we start to do something, we should ask ourselves, “Does this build me up spiritually?”
The apostle Paul wrote, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify” (1 Corinthians 10:23). The Amplified Bible expands these thoughts like this: “All things are legitimate [permissible--and we are free to do anything we please], but not all things are helpful (expedient, profitable, and wholesome). All things are legitimate, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life].”
Try this test.
The next time you are considering doing a particular activity, ask yourself this:
- Does this activity you are considering it bring you under its power? You don’t want to be under the power of anything but Jesus Christ.
- Do you have an uneasy conscience about it? As Romans 14:23 says, “Whatever is not from faith is sin.” Whatever is done without a conviction of its approval by God is sinful.
Change your outlook on being a Christian
If you think the Christian life is boring, then you haven’t yet learned how to walk with God. He will change your outlook on life.
I think a Christian can look at a beautiful sunset and enjoy it more than anyone else, because the Bible says God has given us as Christians all things to richly enjoy. There is a deeper level of appreciation on our part. We can appreciate the simple things in life and find more pleasure and more fulfillment—not because we are looking to things, but because we are looking to God.
Consider the words of Psalm 1:1: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.” Here, the word “blessed” means, “Oh, how happy.”
So if you want to be a happy person, then walk with God as closely as you can, as opposed to trying to figure out how much you can get away with and still be a Christian.
A popular trend in the Church today is to not share your faith.
USA Today had an article about a man who described himself as a “recovering evangelist.” He said that he used to engage in what he called “bait-and-switch” methods. In other words, he would engage a person with the purpose of bringing the gospel to them, But now he has changed his approach.
Instead, he advocates “All bait, no switch, and he thinks others should, as well.” He advocates promotion by non-promotion, evangelism by attraction, goodwill mongering, or simply letting one’s life speak for itself.”
He suggests that we just “live the life,”and let the “spiritual chips fall where they will.”
The cure for cancer?
OK, let’s use an analogy to play out that scenario.
Imagine that I am a scientist (I know, not easy to do) who found out that I have cancer, so I have worked feverishly for years on a cure and have just found total success! One pill, taken one time, and the cancer is gone immediately.
So what should I do? Try to make the most money possible, and take my sweet time getting it to market? How about befriending cancer patients and never letting them know that I have been cured, only that I am a caring scientist, never telling them about the cure, In other words, I reason that I’ll just let the “mortality chips fall where they will.”
The gospel is needed
Needless to say, that attitude would be the epitome of selfishness, even criminal. The correct answer is that you want to get this cure out to as many people as possible, as quickly as you can.
To use another example, let’s say that you were were walking down the street and you heard screams coming from someone trapped in a burning house. What would you do? Just hope someone does something, or do you take action?
The same is even more true with the gospel message. For it is a cure that is even more significant than a cure for cancer (as wonderful as that would be). That does not mean doing it rudely or harshly, or look at people as “notches on your belt.” It means lovingly yet boldly engaging them with the gospel message.
When we share the gospel with others, it’s like we are going to a person who is trapped in a burning house, with only moments to live, and pulling them to safety. Scripture describes it as “Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment” (Jude 1:23 NLT).
Can you think of someone who needs to hear the gospel today?
“When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there” (Matthew 18:19-20 THE MESSAGE).
We live in a time in which our society is becoming more and more disjointed and divided. Rather than celebrating what we have in common, it seems as if we’d rather emphasize the things that separate us. You hear strong, strident political and social views on one cable channel, turn to the next one, and hear the exact opposite take on the very same events. In fact, I don’t know of a time (at least in my brief life) when our culture has been more divided, perhaps with the exception of the tumultuous 1960s.
We want a refuge
Families are falling apart like never before, and the result is that people are looking for a place where they can belong, a community where they can feel safe, a family they can belong to . . . a place where they can genuinely love and be loved in return.
And that is exactly what the church is. It is a warm refuge in a cold, impersonal, and often hostile world.
I know the church isn’t perfect. The church is made up of imperfect people, but foibles and all, it is the only organization that Jesus Christ Himself ever established. And after 2,000 years, it’s still going strong.
The Roman emperor Diocletian once set up a stone pillar as a monument, boasting that he had exterminated the word “Christian” from the Earth. That was his aim and, needless to say, he failed miserably in his endeavor.
Any attempt that has ever been undertaken to eradicate the church that Jesus established and maintains has met with utter failure, because Jesus said of His church, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). He is with His church, and it is still going strong!