Grace – This is Not From Yourselves

a-Eph 2-8 imageThe YouTruth in Ephesians 2: 8

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

There are so many areas of life that are tied to performance. Your job or career is certainly that way. If you perform well, you are compensated well. If you don’t, you may not be compensated at all. If you have children, you can face a lot of performance-related feedback as a parent. If your kids behave well, you may get praises. If they don’t, you may face judgment. Just about every area of life in the world can be pressure-packed by the need to perform well. Much of the stress you may face in life can flow from this phenomenon.

There is great news. Your relationship with God is in no way based on your performance. Let me restate that: You do not have to perform for God in order to secure a personal, eternal relationship with Him. The measure of God’s love that flows to you through your relationship Him is always turned on full strength. If you make mistakes, it still flows full strength.  If you fail Him at times, it still flows full strength. Even in moments when you are acting purely in His will, it flows just the same. Nothing you can do can affect His love for you. It is a gift. All you have to do is receive it through faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Nothing else is required.

There is more great news. You can carry this gift into every corner of your life in the world. This gift has great power to dissolve away the performance-related stresses you will face. If you have a bad day at work, God is still pouring out His love, full strength. If you lose your temper with someone close to you, God is still pouring. If your child acts out at the grocery store, you guessed it, God’s gift is unaffected.

The Guarding Peace – Do Not Be Anxious About Anything

a-Phil 4-6-7 image

 The YouTruth in Philippians 4: 6-7

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

So many things can cause anxiety. I’m sure you can recount situations or circumstances that created anxiety for you. You may even experience anxiety today. God has a prescription for the ailment of anxiety that has three equally important ingredients—prayer, petition, and thanksgiving.

It starts with thanksgiving. This can be the hardest part when you’re feeling anxious! But this is what makes the rest of it work. The one thing you can know for certain is that God loves you immensely. He sent His Son to die for you after all. In this grand love for you, God is always working to bring about what is best for you. It’s always good to remember that God exists eternally outside of the confines of time. Therefore, in every case of anxiety you face, He has already worked out what is best for you in your current situation (and for every future situation you will ever face)! It’s already done!

Armed with a state of thanksgiving all that is left to do is to talk to God about what is happening. Don’t hold anything back! He can handle it! Ask Him for things. Ask Him to take the anxiety away. Ask, ask, ask, all the while thanking Him for already having it all worked out.

When using these three ingredients together, not only does God take away the anxiety, He does you one better. He replaces it with a piece of Himself—the  peace  of Himself. You will recognize it right away because, though you will experience it, you won’t be able to understand it. It will come directly from eternity and will deliver you to an eternal peace that is out of this world.

Are you feeling anxious today? Try God’s remedy right away!

Standing Firm with Abe and Paul

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Abe & Paul

Abraham Lincoln said, “Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.”

The Apostle Paul said it this way in 1 Corinthians 15:58: “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Paul and Abe have something pretty cool to say here. Follow this two-step plan:

Find the right place. Stay there.

Seems pretty simple, yet I’d dare say many of us may find it hard to do. One of the reasons for this might be that we tend to presume that where we are now is the right place. Once we open our hearts to the possibility that we might not be at the right place, we can actually get started with step one…

Finding The Right Place 

How do we find where the right place is? How do we evaluate the place we are to determine whether we should keep on walking or dig our heels in? Wouldn’t it be great if a large “Right City Exit Ahead” sign appeared along the highway or a “Right Blvd.” sign was posted at the correct intersection?  Well if we search Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians for this signage, lo and behold, I think we find it! Here’s the kicker. Paul’s road sign tells us that the right place is not a place at all, but an attitude. The right place is devotion to the work of the Lord and faith that His glorious purposes will be done through it. Giving ourselves fully to the Lord’s work puts our feet in the right place—on the solid Rock of Jesus Christ. Once there, it’s on to step two…

Standing Firm

The Rock upon which we are stand, is not a fixed location but an ever-deepening relationship with Jesus as our Savior and Lord. This Jesus, is not a passive, stay-put Lord, but one that is always at work in the world, always directing us to those He intends for us to reach in His name. So we must set our feet on the Rock of Jesus and be ready to rock ‘n’ roll with Jesus! Standing firm is not standing still. It is resolving to keep close to Him and the work He has for us, no matter where it takes us.

Lincoln did it. While battle plans changed, political coalitions changed, world affairs changed, He stood firm on the work He felt the Lord calling him to do—unite our nation.

Paul did it. When the Spirit said, “Don’t go there,” he didn’t. When the Spirit said, “Help us over here,”  he went. When he was with Jews, he remembered their customs. When he was with Gentiles, he tailored his witness to their culture. But he stood firm on the truth he preached and the fervency with which he preached it.

We must do it too – We must never refuse to obey the leading of the Holy Spirit. We must be willing to follow Jesus where He leads us, to love those He loves (that’s everybody), and to proclaim Him always. We must never stand firm in the place of our choosing if it is not the place of His choosing. We must never stand in firm inaction when loving action is called for.

You and The Way Out: Temptation and Our Faithful God

1 Cor 10-13 imageThe YouTruth in 1 Corinthians 10:13

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”


Temptation is a powerful enemy. In our broken world, we will face temptations. No one, no matter how strong in their faith, will be exempt from this condition. In this passage, the nature of temptation and the nature of God are put on display. Understanding both natures is the key to “the way out.”

The Nature of Temptation—Common
Temptation is common to mankind. A card-carrying members of mankind, we face common temptations that every other card-carrying member faces. No one gets to claim that their temptations are more severe than anyone else’s. Our response to temptations we face is what creates seeming severity. It is not the temptation that is more severe, it is the mess that is made in response to temptation that makes it more severe.

The Nature of God—Faithful
No temptation can bring you down without your permission. God always puts His governing hand on the temptations you face to ensure that they, by themselves, cannot overtake you. If you, wittingly or unwittingly, install additional weaponry to temptations, then it can overtake you. God always provides a way out. All you have to do is to take it. This can be hard to do, particularly if a pattern of being overcome has established strong resistance to his way out. Remember, it is not our lack of resistance to the temptation that is the problem. It is a strength of resistance to God’s way out that is the problem.

Keep a keen eye out for The Way out today. When temptation comes, and it will come, you will be able to endure it and emerge victorious over it.

Give and Stand – Let Nothing Move You

1 Corinth 15-58 imageThe YouTruth in 1 Corinthians 15:58

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Working for the Lord can be a hard thing to do. God promises that work done in His name is never done in vain. The world will marshal a lot of resources to discourage you from believing this and to encourage you to move away from His work.

The world will start by telling you, “There is no reward for the Lord’s work!” The evidence may be quite compelling; lack of praise or encouragement from others, lack of financial gain, lack of comfort or ease. This can be discouraging indeed. The world will follow by encouraging you to change, “Give it up already and join us in this worldly work! See what fun and success we are having?” The world’s pressure is designed to move you away from God’s work.

Paul had the answer: Give and stand.

Giving yourself half-heartedly to the work of the Lord makes you an easy victim of the world’s discouraging tactics. You will not be on firm footing, and it will be easier for the world to knock you off your spot. Giving yourself fully to the work of the Lord guards your heart against the pressure the world applies, keeps you standing firm, and opens your heart to the eternal rewards that flow out of doing His work—the glint of gratitude in a homeless mother’s eyes as you provide food for her and her hungry children, the joy in the voice of an elderly shut-in during your visit to his home, the smile on a child’s face as you tell the story of Jonah. These are rewards that eclipse anything the world can offer!

So, make today a “give and stand” day. Give yourself fully to the work the Lord has for you today, and nothing the world can muster up will be able to move you from it!

So That You May Overflow With Hope

Romans 15-13 imageThe YouTruth in Romans 15:13

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

There are good days and there are bad days. Or are there?

For those without Jesus as their Lord and Savior, I’d say this statement is very true. But for those with Jesus in their heart, it can be different. The key is planted in this passage from the Apostle Paul.

During our good days, it is easy to experience the joy and peace of the Lord. It just comes naturally. But there is one thing that is important to remember about this experience. If we rely on our “good days” to provide joy and peace, then they will be fleeting things that come and go quickly.

During our bad days, it is hard to experience the joy and peace of the Lord. This is natural too. It is also helpful to remember that bad days are temporary things too, and while you may string together several bad days in a row, a good day will one day come.

This sounds like a roller coaster ride, doesn’t it? Would you like to get off the ride? It can be simply done, by deciding not to have good and bad days. Have “trust days” instead.

During your traditional good days, trust that what God is revealing to you, by the power of His Holy Spirit, is only a thin slice of the joy and peace that is part of your eternal relationship with Him. Remember that your trust days (that happen to be good days on Earth) really aren’t that good! Trust in the hope of eternal good days to come.

During your traditional bad days, trust that what God is revealing to you, again by the power of His Holy Spirit, is that the world can’t offer you what eternity with Him offers. During trust days of this type you can trust that all days on Earth are temporary, that a good, Earthly day is probably on its way and that an eternity of the best days ever is around the corner as well.

You Have Been Raised

Colossians 3-1 imageThe YouTruth in Colossians 3:1

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”

You have been raised.

That doesn’t seem right, does it? You are clearly still here on earth, breathing the earth’s air, standing upon its ground, driving on its roadways, fighting against its nastiness and challenges. If you’re like me, you’d love to be raised, and are looking forward to that day. But until then, you keep on slogging through life in the world.

God has a different perspective. It is God’s perspective that Paul relies on in this passage. God is the God of eternity. God is not bound by space or time, so He sees things from outside those constraints. And in His eternal view, if you have received the gift of His grace, through faith in Jesus, you are there with Him. What is in the future for you, is in the “now” for Him. Isn’t that crazy and exciting to think about?

Equipped with this understanding, you can set your heart on that state of being—the state of being eternally in God’s presence, forever in His Kingdom. With this “heart-setting” firmly in place, you can adopt this state of being in your life on earth each and every day, being the presence of God for those hurting souls around you and advancing the borders of His Kingdom wherever you go.

To God, today is always the day. Set it as the day for you too.

God Is Able to Bless You Abundantly

2 Cor 9-8 imageThe YouTruth in 2 Corinthians 9:8

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

In this passage Paul teaches about two attributes of God, one that is fairly obvious and one that can be a bit hidden.

First, you hear about God’s ability. God is able to bless you abundantly. This is good news, indeed! God’s ability to bless you is unequaled! Those who have chosen a personal relationship with God draw themselves into direct contact with all of God’s abilities. That might cause you to infer that, as a Christian, you can sit back and gorge yourself on His non-stop blessings. It doesn’t take long to figure out that it doesn’t work this way. So, what does this say about God’s ability? Is He not as able as we are led to believe? No, that’s not it at all. The rest of this passage reveals the other attribute at work here—God’s will.

God’s will is that you “will abound in every good work.” Therefore God’s abundant blessings are designed to be an abundant means to that end. When blessing are not forthcoming, it is never evidence of God’s inability to bless you, but His unwillingness to bless you. The function and purpose of God’s blessings is to equip you to be the loving hands and feet of Jesus in this world. If you are engaged in this work, in accordance with His will, then He will purposefully bless you. In the abundance of these blessings, you will never be without what you need to do incredible, otherworldly good works.

Abound in good works today and experience God’s unequaled ability to abundantly bless you.

Because You Are His Child

Galatians 4-6-7 imageThe YouTruth in Galatians 4:6-7

“Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”

When you were born into this world, you entered it as a loved, cherished, creation of God. That’s no small thing! And yet, it is. Because, when you give your life to Christ as your personal Savior and Lord, you are elevated to the status of a member of God’s family. This is huge because your status as beloved creation is enslaved by the temporal, destructive nature of our broken world, whereas your status as a child of God breaks free of those shackles and reaches into eternity.

But it gets even better! As a child of God, you also share in the inheritance that is due to each of God’s children. Now, your earthly parents may accumulate enough assets that they can pass some on to you (and your siblings) when they die. The reason they leave an inheritance is that they can’t take the temporal assets they accumulate into eternity with them. Those assets are stuck here on Earth. God’s inheritance is fundamentally different. It is an eternal inheritance that you receive once you proclaim Him as your Savor and Lord and you can take with you into eternity. It is an inheritance of endlessly valuable love, grace, peace, and hope. It won’t run out no matter how fast you spend it here on earth. It won’t run out no matter how many people you share it with. And when you enter eternity, you’ll find you have no less of it than when you started. It doesn’t get any better than that!

So see today as a “break free” day with your pockets full of His inheritance. (A little hint: your pockets will be overflowing, so spread His inheritance around!)

 

Offer Your Bodies As a Living Sacrifice

Romans 12-1 imageThe YouTruth in Romans 12:1

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”

Worship can have many components and styles—singing traditional hymns or contemporary praise songs, silent prayer or reciting the Lord’s Prayer, liturgical responsive reading, reciting creeds, sermons or messages, audio-visual aids. There is one component that is often overlooked—sacrifice.

Paul cites that offering our bodies as a living sacrifice is true worship. Does that mean that all of our usual forms of worship are untrue and unpleasing to God? No, of course not. But what it does mean is that sacrifice must be included in the mix or none of the rest of it matters.

Corporate, Sunday-morning worship is a vital part of a life of faith, so much so that God designated a Sabbath day each week during which we are commanded to worship and rest. Without a Sabbath for this purpose, we are ships without a mooring, we are wanderers without direction. But Sunday worship that does not launch us into six days of sacrificial living, is not worship at all. The two must go together.

Remember that the key word is sacrifice. You know your Sunday worship is effective when Monday through Saturday contain regular instances of forgoing self-interest, experiencing inconvenience or even suffering at times, to love and help others in Jesus’ name.

Be a “sacrificing worshipper” today! (Don’t forget to go to church and worship next Sunday, too.)