God’s Word and Your Conscience

After David had numbered the troops, his conscience was stricken and he said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, O LORD, I beg You to take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.”—2 Samuel 24:10

When programmed with the truth of God’s Word, the conscience has great value for a Christian. It detects deviations from the Lord’s standards and sends out a warning. The Holy Spirit uses that signal to get our attention. Then He will reveal what the problem is, give us understanding about it, and show us the right choices to make. He may guide us to friends, relevant Scripture verses, or other resources that can shed light on our situation and point out the implications of a wrong choice.

Failure to heed our inner alarm can bring serious consequences. Adam and Eve knew what God expected (Gen. 2:15-17). When tempted, however, they ignored their conscience and sinned against Him.

When your conscience sounds the alarm, do you stop and take notice or continue on the same course? Repeatedly ignoring your internal warning system can decrease its effectiveness at keeping you out of trouble. Ask God to help you program your inner alarm with His truth and sharpen your ability to hear it.

You Can Be Set Free From Guilt

“God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us.”—Romans 3:24

Do you want more than anything to be set free from the guilt of sins past? Do your sins grind you down on a daily basis? How do we get set free from all this guilt? I know it’s something all believers want but somehow just can’t manage to get a good grip. We are incarcerated by our past. In our minds we have been found guilty! Our executioner’s footsteps echo against stone walls. We sit on the floor of the dusty cell, awaiting our final moment. We don’t look up as he opens the door. We know what he’s going to say.

“Time to pay for your sins.” But we hear something else! “You’re free to go. They took Jesus instead of you!” The door swings open, the guard barks, “Get out.”

And we find ourselves with shackles gone, crimes pardoned, wondering what just happened? Grace just happened! Christ took away your sins. Romans 3:24 says, “God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us.” What happened? Grace happened!

Facing A Crisis—Your First Line of Defense

1 Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, For my soul takes refuge in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge Until destruction passes by. 2 I will cry to God Most High, To God who accomplishes all things for me. 3 He will send from heaven and save me; He reproaches him who tramples upon me.—Psalm 57:1-3

When you face a crisis, what is your first line of defense? The natural response is to attempt to fix the problem on your own. God, however, gives us a different way to handle difficulty.

David was no stranger to pressure or sudden appearances of evil. When he wrote Psalm 57, he was facing many hardships—including pursuit by King Saul, who wanted to kill him (1 Samuel 24:1-22). The shepherd’s response was to cry out to God and take refuge in Him until the calamity had passed.

Let’s learn from David’s example by exploring his words. Today’s passage has much to teach about the One to whom he cries.

First, David refers to God as El Elyon, or the Most High God. With all power and wisdom, He is the only one who can help us in our need.

Second, God is said to be our refuge. If He is a place of shelter for our soul, then we need not fear. He hovers over us and protects us when crises arise and leave us feeling helpless.

Third, the psalm expresses complete confidence that the Almighty can and will accomplish anything it takes for His purpose to be fulfilled. He’ll do whatever is necessary to intervene on our behalf, to hold accountable those who oppose us, and to surround us with His love and truth.

During His time on earth, Jesus brought great passion to His life and ministry. Therefore, we can approach Him when emotions run high. If your heart is troubled, cry out to the Lord. Know that you come before the throne of Him who is a powerful protector, capable and willing to do all you need.

An Emptiness Within

And my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.—Philippians 4:19

All of us have an emptiness within—a longing for something more. What are you attempting to use to satisfy it? Wealth? Status? Job? More?

Our hearts are like a jigsaw puzzle. No matter how hard you try to force a wrong piece, it will never fit correctly. Turn to Jesus, and trust that He knows how to fulfill you.

When God Touches Your Life, Don’t Be Afraid to Share

The man who had been freed from the demons begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him home, saying, “No, go back to your family, and tell them everything God has done for you.” So he went all through the town proclaiming the great things Jesus had done for him. — Luke 8:38-39 NLT

Often, Jesus asked those he healed to be quiet about the healing, but he urged this man to return to his family and tell them what God had done for him. Why? (1) Jesus knew the man would be an effective witness to those who knew his previous condition and could attest to the miraculous healing. (2) Jesus wanted to expand his ministry by introducing his message into this Gentile area. (3) Jesus knew that the Gentiles, since they were not expecting a Messiah, would not divert his ministry by trying to crown him king.

When God touches your life, don’t be afraid to share the wonderful events with your family and friends.

Four Characteristics of Godly Love

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
— I Corinthians 13:7 ESV

According to Jesus, love of God and neighbor are the greatest commandments (Matthew 22:36-39). Indeed, He said that “‘All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments'” (Matthew 22:40). In other words, every other commandment is in some way a commandment to love. One should not covet, for example, because that would not be an act of love toward one’s neighbor.

The verse above lists four characteristics of Godly love.

First, love bears all things. The person who truly loves God and neighbor should not be easily offended or hurt. Love puts up with things. It does not allow perceived slights and offenses, from God or people, to easily get to us and undermine our love.

Second, love believes all things. That is, the person of love always thinks the best of God and neighbor. With respect to God, love does not attribute wrong motives and intentions to what God says. With respect to neighbors, love is not overly suspicious of what people say. This does not mean that love is na ve. After all, the Bible also says that we should “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (I John 4:1). But it does mean that we should not be quick to suspect the worst of our neighbors.

Third, love hopes all things. With respect to God, this means that love trusts that God will fulfill His promises and that He will bring His glorious plan of redemption to complete fulfillment. With respect to neighbors, this means that love expects the best of people and believes that they can change for the better with the help of the Lord.

Finally, love endures all things. If we are to truly love God and neighbor, then we should not easily give up on love. No matter what happens to us trials, troubles, tribulations, offenses, hurts, wounds we should not cease to love. Sometimes God allows things to happen that we may not like or understand and sometimes people do things that wound us or hurt us in some way. The person of love continues to love and endures these things.

The two greatest commandments are great because they are central to what human existence is all about. Everything we say and do is governed by them. Today, and every day, therefore, let love reign.

Practical Steps to Having Peace and Contentment

“…6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things.…”—Philippians 4:6-8

We all live in a fallen world that seems to have taken a turn for the worse. Mega disasters, floods, global warming, wars and more. If you follow the news about these events it can cause you to lose sleep or worse your peace and contentment.

What steps can you as a born again Christian take in order to prevent or minimize the loss of your peace? To begin, let’s look at what we’re dealing with in this arena of agony. As noted we live in this fallen world which is dominated by Satan and his minions. The bible describes him as a roaring lion roaming about, seeking who he can devour and destroy. Essentially, Satan is our enemy and must be dealt with as such.

Our battle with Satan occurs in the spiritual realm which requires us to fight with similar tactics and weapons. The weapons we use can be found in Ephesians 6:10-13 which says,  “10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”

The specific pieces of armor mentioned in verse 13 above are described in the follow-on verses 14-17. The most effective weapon we have in our defense arsenal is the sword of the spirit better known as the Bible, God’s word.

If you spend as little as 15 minutes a day reading and studying God’s word then you will have a defensive shield about you that Satan can’t break through. God’s word is the truth and Satan hates that. When you know God’s word, what it says about things and situations, you can look clearly at them and know whether you are being deceived or seeing the truth. The ability to separate fact from fiction will give you the peace and contentment you desire.

The next time you are feeling uneasy about something or losing sleep over it, go to God in prayer and read His word about your situation. By doing that you can rest easy knowing God is in control.