“Sitting Around Won’t Win the Battle!”

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“The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat,” Proverbs 13:4

 All of us have goals and dreams, or at least, we should.  All of us “desire” things we would like to see accomplished in our lives.  But, desire can only get you so far.  There has to be a proactive approach in order for one to see the fulfillment of these aspirations come to pass.

I love the Bible because it gives us so many true to life examples of these valued lessons.  For instance, in 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat and his people were getting ready to be attacked.  The enemy had come against them and “Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord,” (vs. 4).

I want you to look at this picture Scripture represents.  It’s one of great sadness.  In verse 13, it describes “All Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.”  It’s as if they were saying, “If not for us, Lord; then please remember our wives and children.”  Awwww!!!

God’s response was, “Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s,” (vs. 15).

“That’s what I’m talking about!  We don’t have to fight!  Woo-hoo!  Let’s go home and watch some TV!”

I’m playing.  We all know they didn’t have TV, but what they probably had was a sense of relief that they didn’t need to proactively do anything to win the battle.  Time to hit the couch!

Wrong!

While God did declare the battle was His, He has never been the promoter of laziness.  Too many people want the victory without ever really doing anything.  Too many people want to reach the next level without ever having to walk up the stairs to get there.

It’s too much work!  Too many people get in prayer lines and the like; want God to do everything without themselves ever putting a hand to the plow to till something up.

God works in miraculous ways.  God is a prayer answering God.  Jehoshaphat and his people will find both of these to be true.  He’s going to work a miracle and they are going to get a tremendous answer to their prayer.  But, God has something that He wants them to do.  He said, “To morrow go ye down against them . . . ye shall find them,” (vs. 16).

GULP!

Then God reiterates, “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle,” (vs. 17).

Yeah!

Then, He proceeded to tell them, “set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you… go out against them…,” (vs. 17).

Hold up!  Wait a minute!  If the battle belongs to God, I don’t understand why I have to go down there and set myself up like I am sure enough going to fight these people.  Huh?

Because God said so.  That’s why many of us lose out.  We want to sit on the couch instead of getting up and following the instructions He gives.  The “sluggard” wants the glory without the work.

In opposite of that, he that is diligent pushes forth to follow through.  Sometimes it’s a hard thing to do.  These people were put in the terrifying position to get in battle formation before the enemy; in front of people who were ready to annihilate them.  Gulp is right!

Yet, they maintained their ground believing God’s promise.  Verses 18-22a tell of the people actively praising God.  Then, the tables turned on the enemies, (vs. 22b).  “Every one helped to destroy another,” (vs. 23), and “none escaped,” (vs. 24).

The result they received was due to their diligence to follow through with the Lord’s instructions.  “Jehoshaphat and his people came to take  away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days gathering the spoil, it was so much,” (vs. 25).

You may not have to go fight an enemy but you have a goal to reach that will only come by diligence and obedience to God.  I’m not promising you riches, but know this; any time you are diligent to work with God you will see success at the end.

Seek the Lord, He will help you to receive that “expectant end” Jeremiah speaks of, Jeremiah 29:11.  Then, we can rejoice like Jehoshaphat because we saw the fruition of hard work pay off.

“The soul of the diligent shall be made fat.”

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“My Promise is Coming!”

“For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall
speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come,
it will not tarry,” Habakkuk 2:3, KJV

I’m excited!!!! It’s coming!!!! It can’t hold off too much longer!!! It’s almost here!!!

I see something that has me positively giddy.  BUDS!!!  That’s right, tree buds!  Oh, does it get me worked up.  When I see those pretty little things start to form on the end of barren tree branches it sets my soul soaring because I know spring has sprung.  The season has come.  It couldn’t hold off forever no matter how dim and dismal the weather may seem right now.

This anticipation is much like our spiritual lives.  We know the promises of God.  We read them daily in His Word.  We have rehearsed some of them.  Bound them in our hearts.  Hold with a death grip on them.  Yet, they are not here at this moment.  But, it’s coming!

Often times the branches of hope in our lives can seem so barren as if no fruit or leaves will ever produce on them again; dry and lifeless things just blowing in the wind.  But, it can’t stay like that forever.  There is hope on the horizon that the promise of new life and productivity will once again blossom for you and me, bringing to pass the vision that God has for you in your life.

The Bible tells us, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).  We don’t know why we often seem to be in a holding pattern but we can be assured that during the process God is working out His purpose in the midst of it all.

“Though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come!”  When God appoints the process to be done and the vision plan to initiate, it CAN NOT hold off.  It has to COME!  I know, I know!  It’s the waiting part that’s hard – tell me about it!  But as a mother carrying a child, the vision has to be birthed when the term is up.  It can’t stay in that holding pattern for long.  It has to come forth.  It’s coming!

Do you want to know something else?  One day I heard the birds chirping.  A sure sign that Spring has arrived.  Pretty soon I’ll be planting flowers and such but right now I’m giddy over the fact of the potential for what’s on the way.  It’s coming!

What are you waiting for today?  The Bible says, “No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly,” Psalm 84:11.  God is not our magic genie but He is a promise keeper.  “Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations,” Deuteronomy 7:9.  If it’s in His will and we are doing what we are supposed to be doing – It’s Coming!

We have a hope to hold on to today.  Though we may not see it at this moment, the signs are around us.  My promise is coming!  “It will surely come and will not tarry!”  Don’t Give Up!

SAY TO YOURSELF, “MY PROMISE IS COMING!”

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The Anointing Breaks the Yoke! | An Isaiah 10:27 Prayer

Father God, we know Your Word declares that it is the anointing that destroys the yoke that tries to bind Your people (Is. 10:27). We are praying that You would rain down Your anointing this day and break every chain that tries to hold Your people down. We pray for release to walk in the power of all You have declared for us over our lives. We believe in You! We know that You are at work on our case even as speak. You are our hope and confidence in everything we face. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Text Free Photo Credit: Pixabay

“Again!”

 

God can do it again!

God can restore again!

God can touch your land again!

God can cause fruit to grow in your life again!

God can turn your captivity into prosperity again!

God can do it for you even when it seems all hope is lost again!

Our God specializes in restoration, healing relationships with Him again!

He majors in turning the ashes of our lives into something beautiful again!

Turn to God because He can do it for you again!

“For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.” (Jeremiah 32:15)

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Sunday School Lesson – “Parable of the Great Banquet” Luke 14:15-24

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VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 14:15-24 (KJV, Public Domain)

15) “And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.

16) Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:

17)  And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.

18) And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.

19) And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.

20) And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.

21) So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.

22) And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.

23) And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

24) For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

Introduction

“We Request Your Presence,” “You’re Invited,” “Let’s Party,” and “Join Us” are just some of the ways an invitation may express that you are welcomed to come to this special event.  Not everybody is allowed, but you are because you received an invitation.

That’s the wonderful thing about invitations, they make you feel special because the event you were invited to is special.  Once one responds with an affirmative answer that they will be there, the host of the event can start preparing for the number of people who promised and are expected to be in attendance.

But then the day arrives and those who said they would be there, aren’t.  Rather, excuses are made to why each couldn’t follow through on their commitment to the invitation that was given, how is the host supposed to respond or feel about this sudden change of plans?

You see, excuses are exactly that, excuses.  Barring any valid emergency or tragic calamity, most excuses are just reasons that people make up for not doing something they don’t want to do.  Although they obligated themselves to be there, now they wish they didn’t, and want to be excused.

How many today is allowing their eternity to hang on the hinges of excuses?  They have a lot of reasons why they can’t respond to God’s heavenly invitation through our Lord Jesus Christ, but eventually, the day will come, and that heavenly celebration will begin.  All those who refused the invitation will not even get a taste of what it will be like at that glorious time in that heavenly feast.

Eventually, the time of all excuses will run out.

Lesson Summary

Leading up to today’s lesson text, Jesus finds Himself dining at the house of a certain chief Pharisee (Luke 14:1) on the Sabbath, where His actions were under a microscope (especially in regard to healing on the Sabbath – see Luke 14:2-5), as this was usually the case when He was in the presence of these men.  They watched Him and looked for their own reasons of why Jesus could be dismissed and disregarded about whom He claimed to be.

It was during this particular dinner when Jesus noticed how ambitiously people sought to sit in the greater seats of notoriety and position.  How they wanted to be noticed and therefore fought to be the ones seated in the “chief rooms” (vs. 7).  From that, He teaches a parable on humility (see vss. 8-11) and who exactly they should invite to a dinner or supper (vss. 12-14) and that anything they do for others, they would be “recompensed at the resurrection of the just,” (vs. 14).

Listening to Jesus’ illustrations about proper dinner etiquette and protocol, one in attendance couldn’t help but wonder and voice his opinion of what it would be liking dining this way with a heavenly perspective, “at the resurrection of the just.”  He said, “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.”  Did he automatically assume that he, as well as those present at this dinner, were to be shoo-in residents of the “kingdom of God” because of their social status and natural heritage?  Was this why he remarked in such a way?  If that were the case, Jesus would shortly set his thinking straight.

Regardless of his motives for the statement, surely, he was right.  The Bible explains repeatedly the rewards and blessedness of those who are in the kingdom of God.  1 Corinthians 2:9 tells us, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him,” and Matthew 16:27 tells us, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works,” (in addition to many, many more biblical references).

In other words, that will definitely be a very blessed time for all who are invited to and attend that heavenly feast.

But who exactly will be there?

Using another parable, Jesus explains who it is that will be attending that heavenly feast.  He says, “A certain man made a great supper, and bade many.”  There was a great occasion on the horizon and “many” people were invited to come, which meant that this would be a grand affair.

I know you’ve heard the expression, “The more the merrier,” and it’s usually true.  When one is celebrating, they want as many people possible in attendance.  People want these special occasions to be full of fun, full of joy, and full of well-wishers, and that happens when the party is alive with people.

To invite so many meant there were also just as many preparations that had to be made.  After all, a good host wants to make sure that when their guests arrive, there is enough food and places to accommodate everyone.  To slight anyone in this area after they committed to come to your dinner would be wrong.

Therefore, when he originally “bade many,” that can be viewed at the first invitation.  This is the one that would have been sent out plenty of time before the event was to take place.  This is also the one that the proposed guests would have responded to, assuring the host of their commitment to come.

In this parable, after all the necessary preparations had been made according to how many people previously said they would be there, the host sent “his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.”

The day of the grand affair was now upon them.  It was time for the “supper” to begin.  The feast is in order, and now all that is needed is for the people “that were bidden, Come.”  The only thing missing from this glorious event were those who previously received the invitation and promised to be there.  With that, the servant was instructed to go out and collect the guests and let them know it’s time; let them know “all things are now ready.”  The work has been done.  The preparations have been a success.  There is a seat for everyone.  There is enough food and fun for everyone.  It’s time for the celebration to begin and now all we need is you!

Can you sense the excitement in the air the host must have been feeling waiting for that first guest to arrive; that first knock on the door?  But they didn’t show up.  No one who said they would be there was there yet, and he was about to find out why.

“And they all with one consent began to make excuse” (compare Matthew 22:6).  To put it bluntly, they all refused to respond positively to the second invitation that asked them to come because the time was now ready.  Now that, my friends, was a serious social faux pas that had some serious consequences to it.  Illegitimate excuses will take one out of step of what they were designed for or committed for, causing not only insult to the one who was welcoming them in, but it also breeds an opportunity for missed blessings as the latter part of our lesson will tell.

In regard to excuses, especially when dealing with our spiritual walk, the Bible reminds us, “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment,” (Matthew 12:36).  Every excuse that flows from our lips will be answered for.

I don’t know the true, inner thoughts and reasoning of these excuses we are getting ready to explore, but regardless of what was behind their motive of not staying committed to the answered invitation, their reasoning was wrong and fell flat on the floor of useless excuses as they all had one mind, “one consent,” that they were not going to attend.

Excuse#1: “I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it.”  The purchase of property is expensive, to say the least.  In ancient days, as well as in ours.  And, with the purchase of any property, there are questions that will have to be answered.  Is the land good for building, planting crops, or whatever purpose he was looking for when considering buying that property?  Is it near an area that one can readily reach resources that are needed such as water?  Are there concerns with the property that he needs to be aware such as enemies, animals, thieves, etc.?

These and many more questions would have and should have been answered BEFORE even considering purchasing a piece of property.  The best way to make sure the property has all you need before laying down a sizable amount of money on it is to go and examine it carefully PRIOR to purchase.  To purchase sight unseen is not good business.

But, this man, with his excuse, tried to convince the servant that it is imperative to go and see land and examine it AFTER he already purchased it.  This was a ridiculous concept and the mere thought of it falls flat on the floor of bad excuses as he refused the invitation: “I pray thee have me excused;” please let my poor reasoning be found sufficient in your sight.

Excuse #2: “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them.”  Although in our modern day it is possible to buy a car without actually test driving it, it’s not a concept I’m comfortable with.  Even if the car has everything it says and does everything it advertises, until I get into the driver’s seat to feel the fit of it on me, I won’t really know if it will do.  I need to test drive it first.

The same concept is behind proving the oxen.  This excuse teller is laughably stating that he hasn’t “test driven” his oxen before buying them, so on this day of this auspicious occasion, he must do so right now and cannot come to the affair that he had committed himself to attend.  Thus, he refused the invitation responding as the first, “I pray thee have me excused;” please accept my excuse for standing you up.

Excuse #3: “I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.”  Now, unless this wedding was an unusually hurried affair, this should not have been a problem.  Just like the feast he is invited to, the groom and the bride would have spent a considerable amount of time planning and preparing for their nuptials.  Ergo, this groom would have been aware of, way in advance, if his impending or new marriage and whether or not it would hinder him from attending a planned event he already committed to.

Again, we must remember, that in each instance given, they already accepted the original invitation which means they knew they would be free from other obligations that may have been a hindrance from attending.  If that were the case, he and they would have or should have responded that they wouldn’t be able to attend this time at the receiving of the first invitation.

Rather than praying to be excused as the first two responded, this third excuse user simply said, “I cannot come.”  He just wasn’t going to do it.

But now the that the time is at hand all of a sudden each has found a “reason” of why they can’t come at the host’s bidding.  Everything mentioned could have been taken care of after the feast and was not a legitimate cause for missing this engagement.

Rather, they let other people and other things became a distraction against their commitment.  These things vied for the attention of the men then, and people every day today and too often they win out, temporarily that is.

When the “servant” returned, he came bearing bad news: no one was coming.  It’s didn’t matter that the host did everything He/he promised.  It didn’t matter the care that went into making this day special beyond belief – they refused the invitation and they were refusing to “come.”

Upon hearing the news, the master of the house became very “angry.”  It’s not even totally about the amount of time and money that went into getting such an event together, but it’s about the disrespect for the host, for the master of the house, when his kindness was thrown back in his face at their refusal to come.

So, he commanded, “Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.”  “Quickly” speaks of the urgency to find guests who would be willing to come because remember, everything was now ready.  Time would not wait.  Preparations would not wait.  The party and all its trappings would deteriorate unless there be guests to fill the rooms, eat the feast, and partake in the event.  And, since those who were previously invited refused, others would be more than willing to take their place.

This grouping of individuals was some of the same whom Jesus previously stated (see verses12-14) should be invited to the banquet despite their inability to repay. This grouping of individuals all had something wrong with them (boy, doesn’t that sound familiar).  They weren’t of the pious social order and they were definitely in a different social class then the previous invitees, therefore they would have been overjoyed at finally knowing what it’s like to be behind the doors of such an occasion; of being a part of and feeling like they belong.  The others who refused the invitation were being replaced by people who had a receptive heart.

Please Note: Some believe or represent Christianity as some starchy, perfectly pressed people with nary a deficiency or mark on their record.  This is so far from the truth.  In God’s house, all are welcomed and invited to come.  The rejects, the castaways, the last to be picked are all invited.  Those who are not perfect, but have some faults are invited.  Those who may not have been original members of the family but have now been grafted in are invited.  Background, socio-economic status, race or ethnicity – none of that bars a receptive heart from being invited.

So, to the “streets and lanes of the city” the servant was commanded to go; to the places where the undesirables and the unlikely were usually found, he was to go and invite guests to this great banquet.  YOUR ADDRESS ON EARTH WILL NOT STOP YOU FROM GETTING AN ADDRESS IN HEAVEN WITH THE RIGHT HEART.

Once the servant did as he was commanded, it was found that there is still “room” for more guests.  The supper is not yet full.  Then, “the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”  Go beyond the borders of the city, go beyond the borders of this people, and find others who are willing to come, who are willing to be receptive to the invitation the Master is giving.

Please Note: God established a relational covenant with His people Israel.  It started with Abraham (Genesis 12-17) and traveled down through his family line.  On Mount Sinai, God once again stated through the Mosaic Covenant His desire to be their God and for them to be His people; to be in a relational covenant with them (Exodus 19).  He said, “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all the people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation…” (Exodus 19:5-6a).  They accepted the first invitation and heard for centuries through the prophets to be ready for the second one; to be ready for when Christ comes on the scene.  And, when He did, they refused the invitation.  They refused Him and would not come.

Also, Please Note: This in no ways implies that God is officially and completely done with His chosen people because He is not.  And, as was spoken to Abraham way back then, God always had a plan that all the world be reached (Genesis 12:3).  So, let us not focus too much on the Jew/Gentile difference, rather let us focus on any, and all hearts, that say yes to Him and respond with a committed life.

So, we see in our lesson the servant reaching out to those who dwell beyond the borders.  Many see this as the inclusion of the Gentiles who respond to the invitation with a receptive heart through our Lord Jesus Christ.

“That my house may be filled.”  There is still room for more.  Go out and convince and preach that others may accept the invitation and fill the streets of heaven (compare Matthew 28:19-20).

Those who were previously invited and refused the invitation “none… shall taste of my supper.”  They will not partake of that heavenly feast.  They have rejected Me, and now they are rejected, and those who put other things and people before Me shall lose out on their reward (read Matthew 10:33-42).

Conclusion

The invitation is still opened and, on the table, today.  Won’t you come?

It won’t be opened forever.  Today is the day to say yes to Jesus!

There is going to be a feast in that coming day; a great celebration for those who answered the invitation and responded with a commitment.  There will be a celebration of the redeemed!

The idea of a feast correlating with the celebration of God’s people in a future heavenly home is nothing new to us.  When Jesus said, “That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven,” (Matthew 8:11) He was referring to a heavenly feast (see also Luke 13:29; 22:30).  In Luke’s account, one who sat by said, “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God,” (Luke 14:15; as today’s lesson notes).

John brought a similar picture to us when he revealed to us his vision of the marriage supper of the Lamb wherein, he says, “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb,” (Revelation 19:9).  One after one, those images show the everlasting reigning of our God and the celebration of the saints with Him.

WOW!  Saints of God, we have something very wonderful to look forward to.  Jesus, through His death and sacrifice, has already made all things ready.  All we have to do is respond properly to the invitation given.

I implore you, if you have not already done so, answer the invitation with a life of commitment today!

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Parable of the Great Banquet

Suggested Activities:

Draw the Scene: Parable of the Great Banquet Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: Parable of the Great Banquet Memory Verse

Word Search: Parable of the Great Banquet Word Search Answers: Parable of the Great Banquet Word Search Answers

Crossword: Parable of the Great Banquet Crossword Answers: Parable of the Great Banquet Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Parable of the Great Banquet Word Scramble Answers: Parable of the Great Banquet Word Scramble Answers

Blank Journal Pages:  Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages

From a previous lesson: “No Excuses Church Fan Craft”: No Excuses Church Fan Template (Use this PDF for accurate printing) Print out on cardstock or glue to construction paper, cut, color, decorate, tape or glue to a craft stick, and enjoy! Although this is from a different verse, it highlights that we are to have no excuses unlike those in today’s lesson.

 

 

“The Parable of the Great Banquet”

“Parable of the Feast” 

“The Parable of the Great Supper” (With directions for an easy, handmade craft that only requires paper and crayons or markers, that highlights the excuses that were made in this week’s lesson.  Enjoy!)

“Don’t Make Excuses Feat Pennant”

“Excuses! Excuses!”

 

“Be Wise In the Choices I Make”

 

Photo: PixabayArtsyBee

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes . . .,” Proverbs 3:5-7a

“Oh, that could have gone better than that!” Hindsight is a kicker. I’ve heard it said before that hindsight offers perfect 20/20 vision. I don’t remember where I heard or saw that phrase but I could not agree more. Staring down the road once traveled, seeing it littered with the trash of mistakes and bad choices changes one’s perspective.

What if we looked back and the view looked a little neater? What if the pathway that has led us to where we are today is paved with more order rather than chaos? Unfortunately, for most of us when we turn around to see where we have come from our humanness shines through. All of the frailties of life in this flesh mar the perfection that we wish to see. The good thing is you and I am not alone in this one. For only one man has been born with this perfection and lived it to the fullest, the Lord Jesus Christ. For the rest of us, it remains a goal. A pursuit for the life where the good and wise choices we make outweigh the bad and disastrous ones. Oh, what a day that will be!

The thing is that goal is not far off. God has given us assurances in His Word for a better outcome. As long as we remain on this side of glory we will continue to struggle with our flesh and the mistakes it makes. But God has given us a five-step plan to help keep us on the right track less littered. First, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart.” Some mistakes are made through lack of trust. The urge to jump in and do something often hinders God’s plan and miracles He wants to perform. Not only that, when situations become so intense for someone and when the tendency to jump in is there, there is usually little thought given to the actual outcome or consequences which in and of itself births more mistakes. Ask Sarah and she will tell you her story of trying to help God fulfill his own promise, Gen. 16.

Secondly, Scripture says, “Lean not unto thine own understanding.” When someone leans on something it is for support. It is to help them steady their own self and to keep in balance. But, here in this verse, it shows one who has a self-sufficient nature and refuses to believe that help can come from anyone other than themselves. Not only is this way of thinking against God, but it also gives individuals who possess it a limited view of the world. This, in turn, causes mistakes to be made that could have been avoided had they had a broader view of things with a little outside help.

Third, it states, “In all thy ways acknowledge Him.” God is Sovereign over all creation. He was and is and is to come, (Rev. 1:8). In other words, He is everything that we have ever needed and still do. Acknowledging Him is a respect issue which actually ties in with the trust we see in the first step. The respect comes from recognizing that no matter the plan or goals we set, He has the final say. He can bless it and move it along or veto it right where it stands. But, because we are acknowledging Him and bringing it before Him, we are saying, “Lord, I trust you with this.” Boy, does He love that! For instance, no natural child should go out, be gone all day and all night and into the next day and never bother to “acknowledge” to his/her parents their plans. It’s a respect issue that helps bind together the trust in that relationship. The same is true with God.

Fourth, it says, “And He shall direct thy paths.” He will show you the good way, the blessed and prosperous way because the proceeding steps were followed through. One thing is for sure if God is leading the way and we are following His directions that pathway is going to look a lot more orderly. Direction in life means everything. There are already too many people wandering aimlessly without a point of destination or purpose. They’re headed nowhere because they have no direction. God wants better for us. When He directs, go that way.

Finally, a re-assertion of the main problem, “Be not wise in thine own eyes.” Don’t look at His directions and think that you can come up with a better plan. I can tell you this, we may not always understand what He is doing, but our job is to “be not wise in our own eyes,” and follow His marching orders. Think back, what if the children of Israel had not marched around Jericho as instructed. Entrance in the Promised Land would have been prohibited again!

Just because we don’t understand what the plan is to bring down these walls before us, it doesn’t mean we can’t see success in the end. Our victory will come in following His directives. And that, my dear, will help us every day to be wise in the choices we make.

God hears your prayers; so pray, and look up!

“Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation. Give heed to the voice of my cry, my King and my God, for to You I will pray. My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.” Psalm 5:1-3, NKJV

“Jesus, My Healing Sanctuary!”

Text Free Photo Source: Pixabay/cowins

Most often, when one thinks of healing, the mind automatically seems to focus on physical healing from an ailment or disease.  While that is true, there are other areas of life and of the person that needs healing as well. Any area where there is a deficit or lack, any area that experiences brokenness and is need of restoration is a place that needs the healing touch of the Lord in it.

I am moved by the many times I see Jesus’ real concern for what people are going through and dealing with when He reaches into their lives with His healing touch.  From the time when sin and brokenness entered into this world, God has been in the healing and fixing business.

In Ezekiel 47, we see a future prophecy of a river flowing from the sanctuary that healed the places where it flowed (vs. 6-12).  While that healing will come as a result of us stepping into eternal life to live with God forever, when I see those mental images of Jesus healing people throughout the stories represented in Scripture while still here on earth, that leads me to believe that what’s flowing from the sanctuary in our future is available to us now in our present circumstances or crisis.

Christ is the source of everything we need for our future and present healing, for both physical, and all the not so physical ailments we deal with (emotional, spiritual, etc.).  “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5).  

In Matthew 11, Jesus invites us to “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (vs. 28-30).  

For every burden, Jesus has become our sanctuary from where all our healing flows.  He told the woman at the well, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.  But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:10, 14).

No matter what area of our lives need healing and restoration, Jesus Christ is our sanctuary from which all the answers for our brokenness flows.

“Difficult days don’t have the final say. God does!”

Text Free Photo Source: Pixabay

Do you ever feel like you seem to be doing everything you know to be good and right, and yet, more trouble seems to knock on your door?  You’re doing what is expected and what you believe you are called to do, but things just don’t seem to pan out the way you planned and difficulty follows?

It’ not unheard of for steps of faith to be met with challenges or moving into where you feel God leading to suddenly see trouble rear its ugly head, and/or even increase.

I was reminded of this as I read through the book of Exodus.  The children of Israel had been in bondage for over four hundred years and God was ready to deliver them.  He sent Moses to Pharaoh as the lead man on this deliverance project and demanded that he let His people go.

Rather than heed God’s demand given through Moses, Pharaoh ridiculed, saying, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go?” (Exodus 5:2).

To make matters worse, Pharaoh’s stubborn attitude toward God and His people didn’t stop there.  As a slap in the face, he increased the burden of their work and made their daily toil even harder and more difficult then it had previously been.

Moses was taken aback by this and even took his concerns to God saying, “For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all,” (Exodus 5:23).

Times like these can be confusing and hard to take in, but as I kept reading there are some very encouraging words God spoke directly to Moses during those difficult days that I believe can help us too if we apply it to our own circumstances.  From those beautiful, God inspired sentiments, I have gleaned a few “remembering” points for us to hold on to.

  1. Remember, God has a plan. “Then the LORD said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land,” (Exodus 6:1). What we “see” is not what God sees.  Our view of even our own circumstances is limited to the here and now.  But God sees the past, the here and now, and the plan coming to fulfillment in the future.  While we struggle to get through the day to day, God already knows the end from the beginning and everything He is pushing us for and leading us through is that one day we will get to experience the end of that plan that He already sees.
  2. Remember who God is. “And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD: And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty…” (Exodus 6:2-3). God knows who He is, but we are the ones that need reminding who we are dealing with – or rather, who it is that is dealing on our behalf.  God is God all by Himself.  He exists of Himself.  He is Creator and Originator of all.  He is the “high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy…” (Isaiah 57:15).  He is our eternal God who reigns forever and ever (Exodus 15:18) and we must remember that it is this same, powerful and wonderful God that is with us even on the days when it seems like trouble is running rampant.
  3. Remember, God is in a covenant relationship with His people. “I have established by covenant with them…” (Exodus 6:4; compare Psalm 105:8-11). God’s covenant covers so many things for His people (i.e. they would increase, and the land of Canaan would be theirs).  When God binds Himself to an oath and says He’s going to do something, He’s going to do it (see Isaiah 54:10).  The process to get there may not look like we envisioned, but in a covenant, God is covering and protecting what He said for His people, and it shall come to pass.  And, because we are in a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, we too are now in a covenant relationship where God has us covered as well (see Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:15).
  4. Remember, God sees and hears what you are going through. “I have also heard the groanings of the children of Israel…” (Exodus 6:5).  The hairs of your head are numbered (Matthew 10:30).  You are of great value to God (Luke 12:7).  And, you are incredibly loved by God.  You are never far from God’s thoughts (Psalm 40:5).  With that being said, God sees, and God hears.  Sometimes the wait is long (they waited over four hundred years), but God is not oblivious to your plight and what you’re dealing with.  God is very much mindful and attentive to the goings on in your life.  He is genuinely concerned with the things you are concerned about and just because we don’t see Him immediately moving to remedy the troublesome situations doesn’t mean He’s not behind the scenes working it out.
  5. Remember, God’s promises will never fail. “Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.  And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the Lord,” (Exodus 6:6-8).  Now, this one is quite extensive and with good reason.  In the above verses, we find several “I will” statements of God.  These are imperative because with God’s “I will” statements there is always a fulfilling of what He said He would do.  That’s crucial to our faith and even in our ability to hang on in there when days just don’t seem to be working out for us.  Every single thing He promised the children of Israel during that time came to pass and later, Joshua was able to say, “There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass,” (Joshua 21:45).  We must believe that when God gives us a promise, in the same way He did for those back then, He will do it for us too.  Yes, there will be hard times – sometimes harder than some will ever know, but we have a God who is not only in charge of everything we are facing, but He is also in charge of everything we have been promised and He is the only one that can bring those promises to pass.

Difficult days, we’re all sure to experience them from time to time but all does not have to feel at a loss.  Listen to the encouragement that God gave to Moses and hold on to those words.  Let what God says on the matter overrun what your circumstances, people, or even the things we tell ourselves about the matter.  Surely, what He has to say is more powerful and helpful to help get us through even the most adverse of times.

Through it all, we know the end of their story was a success.  God did everything He said He would do and the people were freed from a life of servitude and bondage, proving difficult days don’t have the final say.  God does!

“When they speak against your possibilities . . .”

Numbers 13:26-33

I don’t know what you think about when you think about the idea of a Promised Land, but I can tell you what I think about. I think about a place of hope. I think about the word destiny. I think about stepping into something new and embracing the opportunity to leave the old behind.

The Promised Land was, for the children of Israel, exactly as its name describes. It was told hundreds of years before that this land would belong to them. This was going to be a place of ownership. This was going to be a place of heritage. Their inheritance, blessings, and promise for a pleasant, abundant and happy life would be in this land.

After being freed from bondage, God was now ready for them to finally take hold of all that He had in store for them. So, He instructed Moses to gather a delegation of men to go and spy out the land. He specifically said in Numbers 14:2 “Send thou men, that they may search out the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel . . .”

God already had it made up in His mind that this land; this promise was theirs. “I’m giving it to them,” He said.

He’s telling them, “I have a place for you. I have a destiny for you to walk into; place where you belong.”

So, with great joy, I’m assuming, these men marched forward, chosen to be the first to view the promise of God. They would be the first to walk on its soil; the first to see the land; the first to see the people; and, the first to see the rewards of the fruit.

The Bible says they went up and searched the land and they returned from searching after 40 days and they brought back a little show and tell segment. They brought back proof of the promise.

They had evidence of their future blessing right in their hands and it was HUGE! A cluster, not many clusters, but a cluster (one cluster, one branch) that was so big it took two men to carry it on a staff between their shoulders. What God had in store for them was phenomenal.

So, when the Bible says, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him,” oh, honey, you better believe it.

But, here’s the kicker. They had the evidence in their hands but still didn’t believe the promise was for them. The world says, “Seeing is believing.” Right here is proof that the world is lying to you. They saw and still didn’t believe. On the other hand the Bible says, “The just shall walk by faith and not by sight,” (2 Cor. 5:7) and here’s why because it is always better for you to believe in what God said than what you can see with you natural eyes.

With their natural eyes they could see the promise, but they could also see a problem. They said, “We came into the land and surely it flows with milk and honey and fruit,” (Num. 13:27). Surely means without a doubt it’s there. Without a doubt everything that God described it to be for us, it’s there.

“Nevertheless!”

How did they move from “surely” to “nevertheless?” Immediate doubt moved in. Doubt is a robber of dreams and a drainer of possibilities. Doubt causes you to be uncertain when God already said it is certain. Doubt causes you to hesitate when God already said to move forward. Doubt causes you to give up when God says you can do this.

Who are you going to listen to: doubt or God?

Unfortunately many of us are making the same mistake as the children of Israel and they listen to the voice of doubt; they listen to those who speak against their possibilities instead of God.

In verse 28, their doubt turned into excuses. It doesn’t take long for your doubt to convince you that it’s right and you have a legitimate excuse not to pursue that passion; that dream; that promise.

“The people” became their excuse to keep them from their possibilities. When push comes to shove, more often than not, it’s always more about “people” than it is about God. That’s why many of us don’t see the results of Promised Land living because of the “people.” Usually it’s their criticism or fear of rejection or dealing with their jealously that lets people get in the way.

For them, their excuse was they “are strong.” We see the land but we can’t have it because they are bigger than us; they are better than us; they are stronger than us; they are greater than us, and we can’t match up to that expectation.

Who told you to match up to man’s expectation when God who created you and gifted you and said, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light,” (1 Pet. 2:9). When God said at other times, “This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise,” (Is. 43:21).

But there was one who refused to get in line with that loser mentality; one who shunned the thought of being defeated by an enemy when he knew God was on their side. There was one who took a stand against this destructive thinking and said, “Let us go up at once!”

He stuck with the word “surely” and threw off the “nevertheless!” Get a Caleb mentality and refuse to let a bad report rob you of your destiny. Don’t let anybody speak a “nevertheless” into your situation. Don’t let anybody get away with putting “buts” and “what ifs” in your mind. Don’t let anybody speak negative about your promise. Take a Caleb stand and protect your possibilities.

He made his mouth match up with the message of God. He got into agreement with what God said and not man and said, “Let us go up at once!” And, not just “go up,” but when we get there we’re going to do something about it; we are going to “possess it!”

“For we are well able to overcome it!” Confidence begins first in getting into agreement with God (which Caleb did). Then, you have to believe in the gift He put in you. You have to have the confidence of Caleb and say, “we are well able.”

He could have just said, “we are able,” but he went a step further in his faith and declared, “we are well able.” Adding that word “well” to the equation means we’ve more than got this.

Doesn’t our Bible tells us that we are “more than conquerors?” (Ro. 8:37). What Caleb was saying is the destiny of reaching and claiming the Promised Land is for us.

Our promise is for us. It fits us. It looks good on us. “What God has for me it is for me!”

The problem is we need to take it out of the song and apply it to our lives. Start thinking like Caleb and refuse nothing less than your promise. Take a stand against negative people speaking about your possibilities!

After Caleb said, “We are well able,” here come the naysayers again, saying, “we be not able.”

They couldn’t see themselves overcoming. They couldn’t see themselves walking in victory. They didn’t mention anything about having faith in God or His ability to see them through. They just said, “No! It looks good but I’ll never have it.”

“I wish I may, I wish I might, but it’s not a wish I’ll have tonight.” They couldn’t see themselves in it. “Without a vision the people perish!” (Pro. 29:18).

There was one father in the Bible who had a vision to see his son made whole again. His son was demon-possessed and came to Jesus seeking deliverance, declaring, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief,” (Mark 9:24).

He knew if given the opportunity, his flesh would get in the way of seeing a great miracle happening for his family. “I see myself, Lord; I see my family; I see my son restored and walking in the promises of God.” “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!”

He was not going to let a seed of doubt get planted into his spirit and erase his blessings because that’s what doubt does; it cancels out blessings.

But, the men in today’s text couldn’t see through the lens of belief. God can do it for this one and that one, but not for me.

They relied more on the flesh; more on their own strength, saying, “They are stronger than we,” than the God who brought them through thus far. Psalms 118:8 tells us, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.”

Man will fail you. Your own strength will fail you. Somebody said, “But God . . .”

Not only did they not see that God’s blessing was for them, but they brought themselves low with their speech. They talked about how “great” they are, and at the same time said they themselves were nothing.

“We were in our own sight as grasshoppers.” They didn’t say this is how the enemy saw them, but this is how they saw their own selves. The battle they fought before ever coming against anybody else was the battle in their mind: “we were in our own sight as grasshoppers.”

Listen, God doesn’t bring you to the edge of the promise just to turn you around and say, “Sike! I was just playing. Go back.” If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.

God’s intention was for them to go in, take the land, and possess it. But, they lost the battle in their mind before they ever set foot in the land.

They didn’t give God a chance! This is only the same God, who delivered the 10 plagues; who divided the Red Sea; who did miracle after miracle. But, when it came to their promise they wouldn’t give Him a chance, for if they did they would have gotten in line with Caleb’s way of thinking and say, “we are well able.”

Too many of us feel too small for where God wants to take us. God has big plans but we don’t see ourselves as big enough. We feel outsized by what lies ahead. We can’t get past what others are speaking about our possibilities, and so, we close up the door of faith; we slam shut the way to victory never fully realizing the greatness of His promise for your life.

Yes, there are always going to be barriers (real or imagined). Yes, there will always be giants. But, you and I have to have enough faith not to be overwhelmed by what we see with our natural eyes. We have to have enough in us to look past how we view ourselves; how they view us, and see something bigger!

1 John 4:4 says, “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.”

The promise may seem too big for us, but it’s never too big for the God in you. “Greater is He that is in you!” God is never outsized by anything. God dwarfs to nobody, and He’s working in you!

Stop listening to the negativity about your promise. Stop paying attention to the naysayers. You are NOBODY’S GRASSHOPPER!

As a matter of fact, we need to say that to ourselves, “I AM NOBODY’S GRASSHOPPER!”

Therefore, stop listening when they speak against your possibilities.