The Key to Winning Life’s Challenges

Taken from today’s e-devotional from https://www.seniorlivingministries.org/.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:33

Years ago in Tennessee, two men were competing in an all-day wood chopping competition. The first man worked very hard, stopping only for a brief lunch break. The second man had a leisurely lunch and took several breaks during the day. At the end of the day, the first man was infuriated to see he had lost the competition even though he had worked so hard.

“I don’t get it,” he said. “Every time I looked at you, you were resting. But you chopped more wood than I did. How did that happen?!”

“One thing you didn’t notice,” the winner said, “is that every time I sat down, I was sharpening my axe.”

Most people today underestimate the power of taking time to sharpen their axe. They want to have good relationships with others and to do something great with their lives. But they forget that those things take a sharpened axe… character produced by taking time to seek God.

Don’t neglect your axe. Spend time daily sharpening yourself in God’s Word. Connect with God regularly through heartfelt prayer. When you take time to sharpen your axe, you’ll be ready to face any challenge life throws your way as you maximize your Kingdom impact!

Prayer Challenge

Pray and ask God to help you commit daily time toward sharpening yourself to be used for the Kingdom and face any challenge that comes your way.

Questions for Thought

Why do you think many people want to succeed in life but neglect taking time to sharpen themselves?

What are some practical ways you can sharpen yourself on a daily basis to help you face life’s challenges?

Sobering Words of God

SoberingWordsOfGod

As I read my daily devotions, I have, of course, the events of our day and time running along the back of my mind. A lot of it jumps forward as I read God’s Word. The Bible is all about current events.

Now, as in all times of our history, evil is rampant. Why so much evil? Where does it come from, and why does it take over?

God tells us some things in His Word that we don’t like to see, sometimes. For example, God created evil.

 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.  Isaiah 45.7

The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.  Proverbs 16.4

This is one of those concepts that, when you think about it in the correct context (God’s Word) you say to yourself, “Well, of course.”

From where else did anything and everything in existence come? God is eternal: past, present, future, always. Anything else that exists is in existence because HE created it.

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him.  Colossians 1.15, 16

But why?

All things God does creates, and allows are for His glory, for His purposes.

God created people with the ability to make choices. WE CHOOSE our attitudes, our actions, our thoughts. Sometimes we choose evil. Those who continually choose evil will forever be destroyed. That is God’s plan for His glory.

How great are Your works, O LORD, how deep are Your thoughts! A senseless man does not know, and a fool does not understand, that though the wicked sprout like grass, and all evildoers flourish, they will be forever destroyed.  Psalms 92.5-7

When we choose God, He delights in us and blesses us.

…choose you this day whom ye will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.  Joshua 24.15

When God chooses us, we are His forever.

neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8.39

However the events of this world play out, God is in control. Worship Him, give Him all glory.

Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of Hosts.  Zechariah 4.6b

Why Read the Bible

WhyReadTheBible

2 Timothy 3.15 – 17 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

First, let’s get some foundation:

  1. The Bible is Truth.
  2. The Bible is God’s inerrant Word.
  3. The Bible contains all we need for righteous living.
  4. The Bible is God’s love letter to us: His way of establishing, maintaining, and deepening our relationship with Him.

Read the Bible to discover Truth. When we don’t read God’s Word, we start making up our own truth, and living the way we think is right. That was the original sin with Adam and Eve: to be like God and know good and evil. Only God’s perspective is Truth. Whatever we think is good or evil is twisted according to our fleshly desires.

Read the Bible to balance your life. John 14.27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Read the Bible to understand yourself better. Hebrews 4.12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Read the Bible to understand how to relate to God. John 14.15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Read the Bible to understand how to relate to other people. Colossians 3.16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. God’s Word provides insight into human behavior. It explains why we think the way we do, and how to correct our thinking. It gives us God’s perspective on love. what love is, and how to love one another when our flesh is unwilling.

As you read more of the Bible, it comes back to you more often. Whether you’re watching the news, conversing with others, or completing routine chores, God’s Word interjects itself into your meditations and thoughts. You will be able to make connections that you never thought of before. That’s because reading God’s Word provides wisdom.

Read the Bible in order to understand what not to do: Psalms 119.9-11 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. We must have some sort of plumb line so that we may live righteously. Wrong thinking leads to wrong actions, wrong feelings, depression, anxiety, and a sinful lifestyle.

To gain deeper understanding and appreciation for God’s Word, I direct you to Psalms 119. Read it. Read it often. Read it deeply. Use it as a springboard to read more and more of God’s Word.

Lord, Make Me Your Remnant

LordMakeMeYourRemnant

Throughout the Old Testament, God gives example after example of His power to save us. His power comes into play whether the people cry out to Him or not. But it follows the people needing saving. Whether in battle or tribulation or sin or disease or disaster, the people are unable to save themselves; God saves them.

So many lessons of people trying to save themselves, to get themselves out of their predicaments, trying to avoid tribulations. They end in despair. The people are brought low. And then they cry out to God.

2 Chronicles 20.15, 17 And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s. … 17 Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.

God destroys the evil. Sometimes the evil is without, sometimes the evil is within, sometimes the evil is among.

When God destroys, He always saves a remnant. Look at His example in 1 Kings chapters 18 and 19. Elijah stood strong for the Lord and stood against Ahab and Jezebel. On Mount Carmel, Elijah slew all the prophets of Baal. When Jezebel heard of it, she sought to kill him, so Elijah fled. He hid and became discouraged. See how God comforts him:

1 Kings 19. 9 And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? 10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. 11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: 12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? 14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

But God assures him in verse 18: Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

Think of the great flood, where God saved Noah and his family. They were the remnant.

See how God saved David from all his enemies. Read Psalms 34.

Isaiah and Jeremiah were among the great prophets, warning the people, trying to turn them back to their True King. God saved them as a remnant while He destroyed the evil among them.

Look at the New Testament, when Saul was persecuting the Christians. They had fled, and were in hiding. But God saved a remnant and scattered them; the Gospel spread. Ananias ministered to Saul / Paul at the direction of God, and God used Paul mightily to preach and teach in His name.

We live in such times now. God is shaking us. He is using His Word to bring His people to Himself, to bring us to our knees as we cry out to Him.

For what do we cry?

For His justice?

For His mercy and grace?

How long, oh Lord, how long will you allow us to wallow in our miry pit as we dig ourselves deeper and deeper into our sin?

Jeremiah 10.10 But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.

Psalms 107 applies to us today:

Psalms 107. 17 Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.

18 Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death.

19 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses.

20 He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.

21 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

22 And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.

39 Again, they are minished and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow.

40 He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way.

41 Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock.

42 The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth.

43 Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.

Pray with me:

Lord, as You shake us and sift us, as you allow our own works to consume us, we fall on our knees before You. Lord God, I pray that I may be found faithful. Secure my heart to You, oh Lord; make me Your remnant. Strengthen me that I may ever stand strong for you.