The Reward of Remaining Righteous

If we were to look at this world with nothing but our natural eyes, what we see may make us wonder where is the fairness of it all? To some, it may seem the good boys don’t always win. To some, it may seem evil advances while those who work to do right get pushed down, ridiculed, made fun of, and overlooked.

But, the Bible reassures us time and again that what we see is not always the truth of the matter. Although what we see may upset and discourage us, we must maintain our course to live lives that are pleasing to our Lord. We must continue to remain faithful and righteous regardless.

Though we may not know the whole story. And although we may not see things favorably and begin to question “why?”, our comfort is in this one unchanging truth: God sees everything. God knows everything, and He knows how to carry things forward in the best possible way.

Isaiah encourages us, that regardless of what it may look like to us, God will faithfully reward:

     “Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.

     Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.” Isaiah 3:10-11

God knows how to perfectly balance what we see and feel against what is true. The psalmist wrote:

    “For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

     For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm.

     They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.

     Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment.

     Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish.

     They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily.

     They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth.

     Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them.

     And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High?

     Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.

     Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency.

     For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.

     If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children.

     When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me;

     Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.” Psalm 73:3-17

What people saw and how they lived were far from the true ending of their story. God will faithfully reward both sides of the scale, good or bad: “Be not deceived, God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap,” (Galatians 6:7).

Continue in obedience. Continue to remain faithful, and let God handle the outcome. Trust me, He can judge every heart and every circumstance far better than we ever could.

Put those in prayer who seem to be straying.  Lift those before the Lord who seem to be struggling.  After all, as Christians we want to see everyone possible make it to heaven even if we don’t agree with them right now (remember Job had to pray for the very friends that ridiculed him, Job 42:10).

Don’t get prideful in your own stance, for our righteousness is nothing we obtained on our own (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:10; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 2:8; Philippians 3:9). We, too, need the Lord’s mercy and grace every day of our lives just like everyone else.

Just remain righteous. Keep His will before your eyes and your feet will walk the path He chooses.

Of course, our ultimate reward will be we get to dwell in heaven for all eternity with our Savior.  For this, there is no greater cause for remaining righteous.

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“The Treasure of the Heart”

The heart holds so much in it, and it is there in the heart where we store and follow the things that are most important to us. There, in that place, is where the things we treasure reside.

To God, the heart matters. David is quoted as being a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22), and rightly so. Though he made mistakes in his life, and though he sinned before God, his heart never stopped beating after God. When faced with his wrongs, David didn’t make excuses for his behavior. He repented of them and sought forgiveness.

Solomon, David’s son, was a man especially blessed by God in a way no man had ever been blessed. He was endowed with extraordinary wisdom and wealth (1 Kings 3:9-13; 29-34). God also told Solomon, “And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days,” (1 Kings 3:14).

Although his riches and wisdom abounded, the heart of Solomon turned away from following the Lord and went after false gods (1 Kings 11:1-8). His heart was “not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father,” (1 Kings 11:4). Thus, we see a great comparison between those who follow God with their all and those who don’t, and that comparison starts in the heart.

Although God had appeared to him twice and specifically said this shouldn’t be done (1 Kings 11:10), Solomon, because of the women he loved, allowed his heart to be filled with the false ways of their false gods, which in turn, turned his heart from following the one and only true God.

Friends, we must mind the heart with all diligence. Proverbs instruct us, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life,” (4:23). Jesus said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh,” (Luke 6:45; see also Matthew 15:18-20; Mark 7:20-23).

What treasure is your heart holding? As we go through life, there will be times when we must take a heart examination to make sure it is in good health producing good treasure. This world can wreak havoc on a heart and if one is not careful, the heart can become tainted and impacted in a very negative way.

David took the matters of his heart seriously. When he sinned against the Lord he sought to realign his heart to the will of God. Instead of ignoring the problem and letting the problem grow worse and worse, David took his heart before the Lord, and prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me,” (Psalm 51:10).

What David showed us is, if one does not like what the heart is producing or has produced, we can take these matters of the heart before God and seek His help to get it straight. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise,” (Psalm 51:17).

It is in the heart where we store up our trust in God (Proverbs 3:5). It is there in the heart where we hide God’s Word (Psalm 119:11). It is in the heart where we show our true love for God (Matthew 22:37). And, it is in the heart of man that God looks upon and judges (1 Samuel 16:7).

Outwardly, Solomon seemed to have everything, but inside he lacked what God was looking for the most – a heart that was after Him.

A heart that is after God is a heart that has prepared itself to be after God. There are so many choices one can turn to and each choice will fill us with something. When Solomon made his choice to fill his life with that which is false, false ways and ideas took root in his heart and led him astray.

In comparison, even in his wrongs, David took his heart to God, admitted his wrongs (Psalm 51:4), and sought restoration (Psalm 51:12).

When one seeks to have a heart filled with the things of God, God will fill it, and that filling will produce beautiful treasure.

Material wealth will fade, but the treasure of one’s heart will follow them through all eternity. What treasures are you storing today?

Lord, increase me in You. Help me to look to You and Your ways continually. Help me to keep my heart and my feet on Your righteous pathways. Fill me up with more of You till my life and my heart is overflowing with Your good treasures. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I pray, AMEN!

“Dear Bruised Reed…”

 

Dear Bruised Reed, God’s got you.  Some days may be harder than others, but He’s here for you.  You may stand in need of restoration; that’s okay.  He is able to provide that too.  If peace has moved away from you, He is able to call it back into your life.  If love has sidestepped you, He Himself is love, and has satisfied all the requirements of love, and is able to make it reign in your life again.  He can turn all the hurt and disappointment you are feeling into joy.  Everything may not always work out the way we want it to, but it will work out for our good (Romans 8:28).

Dear Bruised Reed, I’m not promising you there won’t be days of tears and that everything will always be alright for Jesus Himself said in the world you will have trouble (John 16:33).  But, what I can promise you is that when you are God’s child, you can still have hope in the midst of whatever it is you are facing.  You are not forgotten.  He sees everything.  And, you are so incredibly loved through it all.  Restoration is always in His hand for the heart that will turn to Him for healing today.

Dear Bruised Reed, whatever it is, take it to the Lord and let Him in on what’s going on (1 Peter 5:7).  Pour out your heart before our Savior who cares.  He loves you and wants to see you walk in the victory He has secured for your life through our Lord Jesus Christ.  As quick as it is to worry and complain, with the same quickness we can unload the burdens of the heart and be free.

Dear Bruised Reed, trust in His judgment today.  He has never failed a case, and He won’t start now.  Nothing escapes His notice and it is His truth, His will, and His way that will always win out in the end.  Never lose hope in what God can do in your life.  His mercies and compassions fail not (Lamentations 3:22).  We are here today because of God.  We are loved by God.  We are covered by God.  And, God is the one that will see us through when we rest our lives in His grace.

Dear Bruised Reed, Jesus Christ is waiting to be your ultimate source of true peace today (John 16:33).  Turn to Him.  Trust in Him.

“A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.” Isaiah 42:3

But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; And charged them that they should not make him known: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.  He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.  A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.  And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.” Matthew 12:15-21

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“Keep Your Eyes on Jesus!”

“But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying Lord, save me,” Matthew 14:30

There was a point in Matthew 14 where the disciples were not sure if the image they were seeing was actually the Lord. Finding out that it was Him, in a move of boldness, Peter requested, “Bid me come unto thee on the water,” (vs. 28).  Jesus’ response – “Come!” (vs.29).

How difficult, had we not known this familiar story, would it have been for us to get out of that boat and venture to do the impossible?  I mean – really?!  People are not known for walking on water, which is one of the reasons, they originally thought Jesus was a spirit (vs. 26).  Watching Jesus take command over what normally cannot be subdued, moved something inside of Peter to do what Jesus did.

What would that have been like?  Awesome, indeed!  I love to swim so the idea of being able to physically walk on water would make me downright giddy.  Another thing that appeals to me about this story is the courage to at least try.  To see what it was like to break away from the normal and to do something extraordinary.

Extraordinary living!  Isn’t that what being in Christ is all about?  It’s a whole lot of faith mixed with a whole lot of stepping out that produces the results of one who has chosen to see and do life differently than those around him.  The rest stayed in the boat.  They were content with the status quo.  But, Peter felt a special draw to see what it was like to step out of the boat – to see what it was like to stand where Jesus stood.

As Peter found out, the road to extraordinary living can get rough.  A lot of stuff can and will rise up against us as those waves did, and seek to toss about our faith.  What Peter “saw” side-tracked him from getting to where Jesus was.  The truth of Peter’s experience in this story unfolds the same way for many of us.  If only the sea would be calm then we would be alright.  If only the waves of adversity would stop trying to slam you, then would you be able to walk on water, too.

Jesus never promised calm seas all the time.  But, what He did promise was, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world,” (Matthew 28:20).  It is hard to try to live an extraordinary life when one takes their eyes off of Jesus and what He promised.  It’s one thing to recognize Jesus, but then we have the individual responsibility to stay focused on Him.  No matter what the seas are doing in our life, He promised to be there with us.  Always!

“And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matthew 14:31).  In essence, He was stating that He was right there with Peter, so why did Peter take his eyes off of Jesus?

Sinking in life doesn’t always happen that fast.  Little by little one begins to predominantly focus on the problems of life instead of the Life Preserver, who promised to be there for you.  God wants us to step out into extraordinary living.  By keeping our eyes on Jesus we can do the impossible.  We can walk on water, too!  He is with you, always!

“God Has the Power to Help!”

 

We quote it, sing songs about it, outwardly rejoice in it; but, how much do you really believe it or apply it to our lives, circumstances, and troubles?

If we were to review some of the marvels of God as we know it, we would see out of nothing a world being brought into existence.  We would see where there is no life, the dead have been raised to life.  We would see on the strength of nothing but His command, stars and planets being suspended in midair, hanging on absolutely nothing, as if an invisible hook were holding them in place.

All of these events testify to His power and strength to do what we readily admit is impossible.  But, God’s power goes beyond Creation, performing miracles, and shocking us with the impossible that becomes very possible in His hands.  God’s power is also alive and very available to help each and every one of us in our lives today, as well.

And, here is the beauty in that.

His power to help is not contingent on anything we bring to the table.  It does not matter our skills or abilities, our wealth, or the lack thereof.  It doesn’t even matter the number of this or that that we try to bring into the mix of everything He wants to do in our lives.

In 2 Chronicles 14:11, we see where it says, “And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee,” (emphasis mine).  This Scripture prayer has often been my own that I have personally prayed and incorporated in my requests to God when I felt totally overwhelmed.  For many times I know I had nothing to offer.  I know I had no power to personally make a change in a certain circumstance.  I didn’t have the numbers that would chalk up to win on my behalf.  There were times when I know I didn’t have the experience that says I was qualified to do this or that.  I had absolutely nothing to add to the mix to benefit me for a positive outcome.  Yet, it is nothing for God to still step in and help and to show His power strong in my life and yours.

If you are struggling with the same feelings or dealing with a daunting situation, know that God’s power can and will still work for you today.  What we have is not as important as what God has, and what He can do in our lives today.  He is the one who has the power to help!

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“The Lord is on my Side!”

 

Oh, the grace of another day.  Yet, every day is not peachy, rather often with it comes turmoil, upset, and unrest.  Sometimes, battling the seen and the unseen.  Sometimes, fighting to keep one’s spiritual head above the waters of this life that seek to take you under.  Oh, the peace to know that despite it all, the Lord is on my side.

If you’ve ever gone to the circus, one of the most impressive feats to witness in the performances there are the trapeze acts.  It never seems to lose its awesomeness as we watch men and women fly through the air with what appears to be a complete disregard for life and limb.  Actually, it is quite the opposite.  They fly through the air with abandon because of the trust they exhibit in their partner to be by their side and to catch them at that pivotal moment; to catch them when it matters most.  There is an awesome relationship of trust that goes on between the two.  One that neither can doubt in lest the outcome be less than desirable.

What about our relationship with God?  Do we exhibit the same trust in Almighty God that these acrobats seem to place in human confidence?  Do we sport the confidence that He is by our side to catch us when we need Him the most?

Sometimes it may feel like you are in the boxing ring alone.  Well, you’re not!  Sometimes it may appear that you are fighting armies that encamp against you by yourself.  You’re not!  God is on our side and He promised to never leave us nor forsake us, Hebrews 13:5.

Daily, we are upheld by Him!  Our lives are not in our own hands rather in the hands of Him that never fails!  We may swing to and fro, sometimes feeling up and sometimes down, yet He is the ever-present strength that keeps us flying high above all these adversities, above all these troubles, above all these trappings of this world.

Difficulties will arise.  Oh yes, they will.  But, Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world,” John 16:33.  In other words, He is on our side.  He is our overcomer.  He is our victor.  He is our deliverer that will see us past all that is presently before us that we might experience the peace that He so offers.

“Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid,” John 14:27.  Some may say this is easier said than done especially when the upsets of life seem to be all around and the strength to carry on, well, it’s just plain hard to find.  You’re exhausted!  I get it.  God gets it.

That’s why His Word declares and reminds every one of us, we don’t have to carry on on our own.  The Lord is on your side.  You are not in this alone.  This is the message of the whole Bible.  No matter how dim, gloomy and bleak it may seem, we are not in this alone.  We have a Strength that is beyond our human capabilities.  We have a Force fighting for us that cannot be reckoned with by human standards.  We have the one and only true God and He is on our side!

Who are you flying with today?  Secure your life in Him, let go and know that “The LORD is on my side,” Psalm 118:6.  Trust Him, He will catch the life that honestly reaches out for Him, trusts, and believes.

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“Take A Stand Against Fear!”

“. . .And so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law:
and if I perish, I perish,” Esther 4:16

There are a lot of things that act like blockades in our lives, but fear by far has to be one of the hardest to overcome. Fear can render useless the one who entertains it because unlike physical limitations, fear messes with the mind. It changes one’s perspective on how they view the world, the people around them and their own lives.

Fear acts like a photographer. It snaps a picture and develops it in the dark recesses of your mind. When the picture is finished being developed it comes out for you to view a new reality, whether it’s true or not. Fear is not based on truth but it wants you to believe in the image it presents to you more than God. That’s why many of us will never tread the courts of the king as Esther did. We can become so focused on that false image (the things that we see that make us afraid) that we fail to step out with courage.

The Bible tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Heb. 11:1, KJV). Going against fear takes faith. Faith doesn’t concentrate on what is visible to the naked eye. Faith concentrates on the truth of God’s promises. And His promises declare, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness,” (Is. 41:10, KJV).

That’s what faith sees!

With Queen Esther’s physical eyes the picture she saw wasn’t pleasant. What she saw was her beloved uncle Mordecai’s life was in danger (Esther 5:14). What she saw was hatred and an evil desire for her people to be destroyed (Esther 3:8-9). What she saw was the anguish of her people, grieving her also (Esther 4:3-4). What she saw was a law that could take her life (Esther 4:11).

A decision had to be made. Esther could look at the circumstances and let the fear of those images stop her from doing what’s right. Or, she could take a stand against the fear that assailed her and go for it, debunking that old image to see something new.

With great resolve and commitment she said, “If I perish, I perish.” She took a stand against the fearful, stepping out into the unknown, not sure if she would find favor with the king. Her people needed her to be brave. Her uncle needed her to be unbending in her determination. She needed to step up to the plate “for such a time as this,” (Esther 4:14).

Being fearless doesn’t mean you aren’t afraid.  It means in spite of it all, I have the courage to take a stand.

In what area of your life do you need more courage? Is there something you are dealing with that is extremely hard, yet you want to be determined to see it through? It takes a resolve such as Queen Esther possessed to stand against the fear of what you see so that you too can walk the King’s court in victory!

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“Persistently Pray!”

 

It is so easy to give up when discouragement blows our way, but Jesus encourages us not to. He told the parable of a man who “persistently” came to his friend to ask bread. He knocked and knocked and refused to be turned away. The Bible tells us to, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you,” Matthew 7:7.
In other words, don’t give up and don’t give in. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” – Luke 11:13.
Persistently pray and don’t quit now!

Emergency Reminder:

“Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’?  I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.

So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?  Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

Luke 11:5-13, NKJV

Keep praying – Never give up!

“Today, I Want to Be Me!”

 

“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well,” Psalm 139:14

Oh, the creative power that took place for you to be here today.  From the moment of conception, and from the time cells began to divide within themselves, you were and are a product of beautiful design.  Uniquely you, you are made just the way God intended.  And, since we know that He doesn’t make any mistakes, whatever we view as shortcomings in our lives may be there for a much higher purpose.  Our so-called defaults are part of the plan that God has laid out in your life.

What would happen if every Christian really armed themselves with this beautiful truth?  How would that personally make us feel?  How would it affect the way we live, the way we walk and talk?  More importantly, how would it affect the way we move in our Christian walk?  How much more would we be apt to express our faith knowing the value He places in each and every one of us?

I believe if Christians really got a hold of this truth they would turn the world upside down.  They would step out with a newfound faith knowing that they are something really special before God; knowing that their worth is not in how the world sees them; rather, how God sees them.  What does He think about me?

Let me tell you what He thinks about you. Jesus said in Luke 12:6-7, “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?  But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.”  “Ye are of more value!”  Humanity is the apex of all His creation.  He made sure everything that was created was put in the proper place and proper order for us.  We are the only part of creation where God claimed Himself, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion . . .” (Gen. 1:26).  Not only created, but we were created in “His image.”  Not only in “His image,” but we are also created to have “dominion;” authority over all the earth including the thoughts that come to make us feel less than anything He said of me!

Today, I want to be me.  I want to walk like I walk.  Express me like only I can.  I want to relish in the wonderful thought that when no one else is taking notice of me, He is.  Because He designed me this way and I know the care that went into this design, I can rest and enjoy me.  I can love me some me.  Even when it seems no one else does, I can love me because He loves me.

If He says I’m good just like this then all I have to do is learn to work in what He gave me and just be me.  “Marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”  Does your soul know that you are a marvelous work of God?  Can you believe that today so that you can just enjoy being you?  You are so incredibly special.  Let no one rob you of the precious way that God sees you.

“Know ye that the Lord He is God: it is He that hath made us and not we ourselves. . .” (Ps. 100:3).  I’m so glad I didn’t do this myself.  That would be impossible because there is so much that goes into this that we will never figure it out.  Then again, I don’t have to because He already did.  He stepped back and looked at creation and said, “It was very good,” (Gen.1:31).

I am good!  From the time that He has “covered me in my mother’s womb,” (Ps. 139:13), I am just the way He wants me to be.  So, today, I can be me!  Now, that’s something to 🙂 about!

“Jesus Knows!”

“We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses,” Hebrews 4:15a

Jesus knows what living in the flesh feels like.  Walking up and down the shores of Galilee, He didn’t let His holiness withhold Himself from our infirmities.  He hungered as we did.  He wept when sadness invaded His heart.  He justifiably angered at the thoughtlessness of men.  He knows.

Jesus knows.  He knows suffering.  He knows the temptation of life.  He knows what it is to care when no one else does.

He knows what it is to be chased, used and despised.  His ears have felt the sting of gossip and have heard the song of ridicule.  He’s heard the taunting of the nay-sayers and the tsk- tsk- tsk- of the unapproving.

Aching limbs, sore feet, and a thirsty tongue – He knows.  Jesus knows disappointment at the carelessness of others.  He knows desperation over the plight of the lost soul.  He knows of the crown of thorns His life is leading Him to.

Jesus knows everything because He is divine.  Jesus has experienced everything because of His humanity.

Isn’t it nice to know that not only do we NOT carry our burdens alone, but we have a Savior that knows what those burdens feel like?  Out of the depths of sorrow and pain – He knows.  Through the roads of striving and the paths of hatred – He knows.  During the darkness of nights, He already knows.  Our weaknesses have become His; He knows them, has lived through them and has borne them.  Jesus knows!