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The Testing of Our Commitment

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In situations when God is testing us, He will teach us new and deeper truths about Himself, His purposes, and His promises.  Though we feel stretched in painful seasons, such difficulties are always designed to be beneficial.

From a human perspective, times of testing can be baffling, because we don’t understand how anything good could result.  Consider God’s command that Abraham sacrifice his long-awaited son Isaac.  Abraham’s earthly viewpoint could have regarded this order as:

UNREASONABLE.  “I cherish my son above all else.  How could you ask this?”

UNTIMELY.  “Why now, Lord?  My son is still young.  He is the one through whom my descendants are to come.”

UNFAIR.  “It’s not right that You ask this.  Haven’t I left home to follow You?”

UNBEARABLE.  “This is too hard for me.  I cannot take this pain.”

Abraham rejected that kind of thinking.  Instead, he trusted God.  The trial revealed Abraham’s unshakable commitment to the Lord’s plan.

Knowing which circumstances will help us grow, our Father asks us to exercise faith and choose His way.  Recalling His unending love and wholehearted commitment to His children will help us do this.  Be assured that God makes no mistakes in His dealings with us.

Imagine Abraham’s joy when the Lord provided a ram as a sacrifice in Isaac’s place.  We will receive that same reward of spiritual joy when we remain steadfast.

Commentary from the In Touch devotional by Charles Stanley, June 19, 2017.

Wonderment and Awe

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Every week, thousands of worshipers flock into the great cathedrals of Europe to feel a sense of the majesty of the architecture-the high ceilings, massive pillars, stained windows, and reverberating sounds.  The ancient builders wanted to inspire us with a sense of the majesty of worship, and they designed their cathedrals with that in mind.

Every week, thousands of visitors flock to the National Parks of America for the same reason.  We’re awestruck by the vast desolation of Big Bend, the immensity of Grand Canyon, and the sheer cliffs and plunging waterfalls of Yosemite.  The towering peaks of the Tetons and Rockies are a wonderment.  The human heart is hungry for a sense of God’s majesty.

Yes, we are God’s friends who, in prayer, can call Him, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15); but He is also clothed with majesty and girded with strength (Psalm 93).  Our worship should be warm and personal, but we shouldn’t forget the awe and reverence due His name.

Commentary from the Pathways devotional by David Jeremiah, June 19.

His Strong Hand

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The scene is usually a cliff, a waterfall, a window ledge, or some other precipice – a fall from which would result in certain death.  One person is over the precipice, kept from falling only by holding to the outstretched hand of another.  Three things can happen to the one hanging over the edge; the grip is unintentionally broken due to a failure in strength, the grip is released intentionally due to malevolence, or the person is pulled to safety due to the strength of the rescuer.

One of the strongest images of the believer’s eternal security in Christ was painted by the Savior’s own words: “Neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”  Too often, Christian’s feel that eternal security depends on their strength, their faithfulness, their perseverance – their ability to hold on to the Savior’s hand.  The opposite is actually the truth:  It is Christ’s strength, Christ’s faithfulness, Christ’s perseverance – Christ’s ability to hold on to the believer’s hand – that keeps the Christian eternally secure.

When you wonder if you have been faithful enough, hold out your hand – and picture it enveloped in the strong hand of Christ.

“Once a man is united to God, how could he not live forever?”  C. S. Lewis

Commentary from the Pathways devotional, by David Jeremiah, June 6.

What Makes You Happy?

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Internet “match-making” sites differ in purpose.  Some are “dating” sites, allowing singles to meet and get together.  Other sites are marriage-oriented, requiring interested parties to fill out extensive questionnaires on themselves and the kind of person they’re looking for.  All these sites are based on a single premise:  Few people are happy being single.

God himself said to Adam, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:18).  God said that, ideally, men and women should meet, marry, and populate the earth.  What He didn’t say was that it’s okay to be unhappy until that meeting and marrying takes place.  The apostle Paul pointed out that singleness has rare blessings – the chance to be wholly committed to serving Christ.  His point is this:  Whether one is single or married, use it as an opportunity to serve the Lord with all your heart.  Are you happy where you are, taking advantage of the opportunity you have today?

Happiness is not a state of companionship.  Rather, it’s a byproduct of being in the center of the will of God.

“There is never a place in the Bible where it says that marriage makes you happy.  It says over and over again that God makes you happy.”  Dick Purnell

Commentary from the Pathways devotional, by David Jeremiah, May 30.

Choose

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“No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life” (2 Timothy 2:4).  The word for “entangle”, which also occurs in 2 Peter 2:20, means to be so wrapped up in something that movement is hindered.  This is the term the Greeks would have used to describe a rabbit ensnared in a thorn patch.

Peter’s letter admonished followers not to return to past sins, but Paul was emphasizing a different lesson: He was warning Timothy against allowing essential daily pursuits to supersede a commitment to Christ.  Paul himself at times worked as a tent-maker while carrying on with ministry; however, he realized there was potential for an occupation to become all-consuming, to the detriment of a person’s spiritual life.

Growing and managing wealth, providing for one’s family, and taking advantage of leisure time are important activities.  In fact, God encourages all of them.  However, these blessings are not to become distractions that draw believers away from church or regular prayer and Bible study.  Nor are we to compartmentalize our life into “Christian ministry” and “regular work/play”.  We are Christ’s soldiers, no matter where we are or what we are doing – there is no such thing as a part-time warrior.

It’s important for believers not to draw artificial boundary lines between the secular and the sacred.  Everything God gives – from vocation and wealth to leisure activities – is to be used for His glory.  By keeping priorities straight and activities in balance, you can prevent hobbies and interests from becoming a snare.

Commentary from the In Touch Devotional by Charles Stanley, June 7, 2017.