Jesus said, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” It doesn’t get more practical than that! When you see sin coming—duck! When you sense temptation, go the other way. Pay attention! You know your weaknesses. You also know the situations where your weaknesses are most vulnerable. Stay out of those situations. Late hours. Movies. Internet. Social media. Whatever gives Satan a foothold in your life, stay away from it. Watch out!
And pray! Prayer invites God to walk the shadowy pathways with us. To watch ahead for falling trees and tumbling boulders; to bring up the rear, guarding our backside from the poison darts of the devil.
Watch and pray! Good advice. Let’s take it! It could be the difference between a peaceful day on the lake and a stick of dynamite blowing up in our faces!
Now may the God of peace—who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.— Hebrews 13:20-21
This verse includes two significant results of Christ’s death and resurrection. God works in us to make us the kind of people that would please him, and he equips us to do the kind of work that would please him.
Let God change you from within and then use you to help others.
Serving God is not optional. People come up with all manner of excuses: too old, too young, too busy, too tired, too sick—and the list goes on. Yet every reason is rendered void by the facts of Scripture, which says that believers are “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).
Someday we will stand before God, and He will require an accounting of how we used the talents and spiritual gifts we were given. What can we say to Him that will justify ignoring the opportunities He gave us to use those gifts? No excuse will hold up. Complete surrender to God’s will is the key to pleasing Him.
The Lord gives us talents and abilities for a purpose, and He will equip us for greater service to His kingdom. When we serve Him wholeheartedly, we can look forward to hearing, “Well done, good and faithful servant! Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matt. 25:21).
Most people think that when they die, they are going to heaven. If you asked why, the majority would say they have been good people or their positive deeds outweigh any negative things they’ve done. Yet the sad reality is, most people will not find themselves in heaven—and that includes some who claim to be Christians.
It may not be a popular topic of conversation, but our Savior knew that hell was essential to understand. He uses illustrations of contrasting gates, trees, and houses to point out that there are only two possible destinies after death: heaven and hell. Jesus is warning us about a most sobering reality—that not everyone who calls Him “Lord” actually belongs to Him (Matt. 7:21-23).
What, then, distinguishes a true follower? John 14:15 tells us those who love the Savior will keep His commandments. This obedience begins with believing Jesus is the Son of God (John 3:36). In other words, the first step is to humble ourselves before God, admitting that we’re sinful and deserving of condemnation. Next, we must call out to Him, requesting the forgiveness for which His Son’s blood was shed on our behalf. From then on, we’re to live only for God.
If you hear the gospel but stop short of obedience, ask yourself, Do I fully understand the goodness of God’s love? That should inspire you to obey the Father. Looking good on the outside isn’t enough to enter the kingdom of heaven. Remember, to those who truly receive Him, He will give “the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Won’t you make sure you’re among those destined for heaven?
Almost. It’s a sad word in any man’s dictionary. It runs with nearly, next time, and just about! It’s a word that smacks with missed opportunities. It’s an honorable mention, being on the bench, and burnt cookies!
One of the most famous “almosts” is in the Bible. His name was Pilate. He almost performed what would have been history’s greatest act of mercy. He almost pardoned the Prince of Peace. He almost released the Son of God. He had the power. He had the choice. The option to free God’s Son was his. And he did…almost!
Jesus never has room for almost. With Him nearly becomes certainly. Sometimes becomes always. And next time becomes this time! Almost may count in horseshoes, but with the Master, it’s just as if it never happened.
Last night on 60 Minutes, they aired a program about some churches in Lalibela, Ethiopia that had been chiseled out of stone. To be precise each church was carved out of one big stone. To see the results was impressive.
The carving of these churches date back almost 1,000 years according to a local historian. Their presence has had a significant impact on the people of Ethiopia, since they believe the churches were carved by angels.
The moderator for 60 Minutes, Scott Pelley, interviewed one of the professionals dedicated to preserving these churches. Scott asked him why these churches were so important. The individual answered that the people of Ethiopia travel for days and sometimes months on foot to come to that location to worship. The historian said that the people believe God inhabits the churches and they want to be where God is.
Can you imagine traveling for days, weeks, or even months on foot to worship at a church? Not just any church but one believed to be carved out by angels and inhabited by God. For me personally, I am amazed at their devotion to God and worshiping His son Jesus. I only hope I can be as devoted as the Ethiopians in this story.
How far and how long would you travel on foot to worship Jesus? It’s definitely something to consider and pray about.
Through these He has given us His precious and magnificent promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, now that you have escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.—2 Peter 1:4
The Bible is a gold mine of promises for believers. During any season, but especially in hard times, God’s promises provide an anchor for our soul. They give us hope and enable us to be courageous and bold when facing challenges.
Many individuals do not rely on God’s assurances. There are two reasons for this. First, some people are unaware of His promises. Second, others simply do not believe them to be true. A lot of believers can quote Scripture, but when they face a daunting trial—like a job loss or frightening diagnosis—their confidence wavers and doubt prevails.
Jesus gives believers assurance of protection, hope, eternal security, counsel, and guidance in the Scriptures. Do you trust Him?
Study, memorize, meditate on, and claim these biblical truths. Then, when trials arise, you’ll have an anchor to keep you steady.