Sometimes we walk into trials of our own making because they are a direct result of our own selfishness or pride or greed or lust. Then when this happens and we reap the results of our sin, we get angry at God.
Some people really like mirrors. They are always looking in them. When they are driving along, they have their rearview mirror pointed at themselves instead of the road behind them. If they are in a restaurant that has a mirror on the wall, they want to be seated across from it so they can look at themselves. They never miss an opportunity to catch a quick glance at themselves if a mirror is nearby. On the other hand, some of us don't like mirrors that much. In fact, we have come to dislike mirrors, especially first thing in the morning.
After I became a Christian, I wasn't really sure of what to do next. I was seventeen years old and in high school. No one told me that I needed to read the Bible, pray, or go to church. No one gave me any materials to read, much less a Bible.
Everyone who has run a race knows that you can break your stride by looking over your shoulder to check out how your opponents are doing. Many races have been lost when the leader looked back. When you see that finish line, that's the time to give it everything you've got . . . because sometimes it's mere inches that separate one runner from another. You must stay focused.
How often have you felt that your prayers were hitting a glass ceiling — as though the Lord were saying no? Maybe it is because you were praying outside of His will. Maybe it's because you were praying for something that God didn't want you to have.
Sometimes God will glorify Himself by the way you and I lean on Him and trust Him through our suffering and hardships. At other times, He will glorify Himself by simply removing those things.
One of the first things I remember taking place when I committed my life to Jesus Christ was the erosion of bitterness and anger and the growth of a love I had not known before. Years of bitterness and anger that had been building up just began to dissolve.
That is what happens in the subtle process of the world influencing our lives. It's not necessarily dramatic, nor does it usually happen overnight. It is gradual, causing erosion in our lives as we begin to lower our standards.
Right after I became a Christian, other believers warned me, "Greg, watch out. There is a Devil who will tempt you."
We cry out to God. He answers our prayers. Then we say, "It's okay, God! Everything seemed to work out." But do we ever stop and think that God might have worked through certain circumstances to come to our rescue?
We all know what it's like to be tempted. But where does temptation come from? It does not come from God. James 1:13-14 says, "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed." We play a key role in our own temptation.
I think that many people, after they have decided to follow Christ, are surprised to find that the Christian life can be so difficult, so intense sometimes. It isn't a life of ease, but one of conflict, warfare, and opposition.
When God tells us to do something we like, we say, "Yes, Lord!" But when He tells us to stop doing something, we say, "God, I think you're cutting out on me. There's too much static. I'm not hearing you clearly."
Have you ever said to the Lord, "Here is the way I think You ought to work. But not my will, but Yours, be done"? Some might say, "I'm not saying that to God! If I say that, He will make me do something I don't want to."
As Christians, we should want to stay as close to our Heavenly Father as possible. The Devil is a powerful adversary, and we are no match for him in our own strength.
According to the Bible, the purpose of life is not enjoyment and personal fulfillment. The Bible teaches that we are put on this earth to bring glory to God. We need to mark that well in our minds and hearts.
When Jesus found a fatal flaw in the church at Ephesus — that they were leaving their first love — He also gave His prescription for renewal and revival. They are the three Rs of returning to our first love: remember, repent, and repeat.
When I was a young Christian attending Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, I would listen to Pastor Chuck Smith and some of the other pastors and think, That is what I want to do.
When you give the Devil a small opening in your life, watch out. You may think, I'll just compromise a little bit here.
The Bible doesn't condemn the person who makes plans for the future. Rather, it criticizes the person who makes those plans with no thought whatsoever for the will of God. That is a dangerous thing to do. God won't share His glory with another.
The Bible tells the story of Simon Peter, who was out walking on the water with Jesus. When the impossibility of the situation began to dawn on him, however, his faith faltered. He cried out, "Lord, save me!"
To walk with God means that I must get into harmony with Him. I must go the direction that God wants me to go.