“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.

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“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.

Simple words of encouragement… “God is for YOU!”

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Has discouragement tried to enter where God has placed you today? Has confusion tried to make you feel less than; as if God is not for you today?  Has your day already started off on the wrong foot?

Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation. . .,” John 16:33a. He knew that there would some days where we face trouble and discouragement; there would be times when we feel like we are in this alone. In those times, He wants to reassure us that He is for us. He has never left us. He has never forsaken us. His plans for us have a glorious end so don’t let any circumstance make you believe that God doesn’t have your back because He does. He’s here and He is for you!

Jesus went on to say, ” …but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world,” John 16:33b; and if you are in Him and stay with Him and believe in Him, you will too. Because God is for you!

“…But Lord, I Thank You!” – Word For Life Says

Job 1:20-22 “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.  In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.”

Ephesians 5:20 “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Job 19:25-27 “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:  And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:  Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.”

Anytime we see a “…” in a sentence it expresses a train of thought and direction or a transition if you will.  That “…” is very important to this message.

Times of transition can be good and bad.  When one is engrossed in unpleasant circumstances a nice change of pace can be just what the doctor ordered.  It breathes new life into you and lifts your spirits high making you feel as if you are on cloud nine.  At the same time, when one is entering times of affliction, lack of any sort of substandard anything compared to what they are used to, the feelings of dread and just suffering through take over.

There are different seasons that everyone goes through in life.  There are times of joy and there are times of pain.  While we don’t mind dealing with the seasons of joy and happiness that come our way, a whole other story could be told for the times of pain and suffering we encounter.

There are seasons, even for the Christian, that come that are not too pleasant.  There are times when the people of God had to endure trials and tribulations.  There are episodes of turmoil that have wiggled their way into our families, our lives, our jobs, and our finances.

Sometimes difficult and new stuff pops up out of nowhere, things you weren’t looking to happen in this season of life, and it has blindsided you and caught you off guard.  There may be things that surprised you and now you just don’t know which way you are going.  The road hasn’t always been easy to travel.  We are looking for the new.  We need a transition.  We are in need of a “…” moment.

It’s time to move from the victim mentality and don a praise mentality.  It’s time to move from the feeling defeated mentality to no matter what’s going in my life, “…Lord, I just want to thank You” mentality.

A praise mentality says no matter the situation we are going through I still have a reason to worship.  We still have a reason to lift our hands in utter adoration!  We still have a reason to fall to our knees in prayer!  We still have a reason to believe His grace and mercy is at work in our lives!  I still have a reason to say, “Thank You!”

Job is one of the most figurative Bible characters who we surmise as suffering outside of Jesus Christ our Savior.  So, I figured if anybody can teach us how to be thankful despite what we’re going through it could be Job.

Job was a man whom God describes in the Bible as being upright and perfect, Job 1:8.  He is known for turning himself away from the path of evil, not giving it a foothold in his life.  Yet, in his righteous living, he was still susceptible to being tested in some of the worse ways possible.  He lost everything from possessions down to the very people he loved the most in life.

Job’s experiences can be summed up in that one word: suffering. Job knew suffering.  Job knew what it was like to love and lose; to have and to have not.  What’s more is he lost everything at the same time, piling traumatic event after traumatic event on till he thought his heart couldn’t take any more (read Job 1-2 for greater detail).

Sitting in a pile of ashes with seemingly nothing left, could he at least find comfort in the good word of a friend? Will they speak encouragement to help him carry the weight of his burdensome troubles?

The answer sadly is, “No.”  His friends started out with good intentions but by the time they reach chapter 4, Job’s friends became what is known as “miserable comforters.”  They decided to chime in with their opinions of what was right and wrong.  This was where their attempts at comfort went downhill.  They berated Job and blamed him for all that he was going through.

Job literally had no one and the weight of the world was upon his shoulders, but his response to his trials is what blew my mind away.  When things first began to unravel for him, in the verses we read in chapter 1 he shaved his head, fell down on his face and he worshipped.

The words that came out of his mouth were of praise and thanks.  He said, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD!

That word “blessed” is synonymous with celebrating God with praise in spite of.  That word blessed is acknowledging God is good no matter what the circumstances around me say.  That word blessed is also translated in the New and Old Testament to give thanks!  “Blessed be the name of the LORD!”  Job, with his shaved head of sorrow and humble spirit, gave God thanks amid the sorrow he was going through!

His response reminds me of Psalm 34:1 where the psalmist proclaimed, “I will bless the Lord at all times and His praise shall continually be in my mouth!”  I will thank God always and I will never stop celebrating His goodness!  I will show God gratitude always and I will never stop lifting Him up.  I will appreciate God even in this and I will never stop recognizing that He and He only is God of my life.

Ephesians 5:20 says, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  My always for all things may not look the way I want it to right now, but Lord I thank You, is what he’s saying!  I am not saying thank you because I like problems, but I am saying thank You because I know the God I serve.  I am saying thank you because He is working on the inside to change things on the outside.  I am saying thank you because God is setting us up for a future that is glorious in Him!  Therefore, “…Lord, I just want to thank You!”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  I am in Christ; therefore I give thanks!  I have been washed by the blood, therefore I give thanks.  Yes, life hurts sometimes and yes, the walls come crashing down sometimes, but I owe God a praise.  I thank God for seeing me through every trouble, every storm that blows my way!  “…Lord, I just want to thank You!”

Job’s response went even further than this.  In Job 19, he said, “For I know that my Redeemer lives.”  Things were not exactly turning in his favor.  At that time, his today didn’t look any better than his yesterday.  His friends are still in his face challenging him with their accusations.  But, despite his personal persecutions, he emphatically declares, “I know . . .”

Knowing speaks of assurance. A declaration of knowing tells doubt there is no place here for you. “Know” is certain that this is what it is. And, what he is certain of is “my redeemer liveth.” God is alive and will always be alive. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty,” (Revelation 1:8).

“He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.”  Job knew that God was and is the end-all of all authority, victory and power. Standing upon anything denotes mastery and dominion of said object.  Job knew where his trust lies.  In God who is victorious: “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him,” (Psalm 68:1).  Paul, speaking of Christ said He, “hath put all things under his feet…,” (Ephesians 1:22).  Even this.

“And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.”  There is hope beyond the here and now. Physically, it didn’t look good for Job. He had “sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown,” (Job 2:7).  He, in dealing with the pain of his body and the pain of his heart must have thought there is not that much more time left. At one point of desperation, things had gotten so bad, Job prayed for death (see Job 6:8-9).

Despite it all, he knew that there was a better day beyond the corruption of his flesh.  His body, when the time came, would lie in the ground and the worms would have their way with him, but he looked forward to another glorious time when “in my flesh shall I see God.”  Things were hard for Job, but in his speech, you can still see his faith alive and active in what he believes: and he believes GOD!  Therefore, “I bless God!  I give God thanks!”

Job teaches us how to respond to God in midst of trials and troubles.  He may have been down, especially when his friends attacked him, but he still recognized God for who He is.  He basically transitioned his mentality to shift his focus from what was before him to the God who can save Him.

Yes, he grew weary and even questioned why he was going through what he was going through.  Who wouldn’t?  But, through it all you still see his faith in God come to the forefront in the midst of his story.

In the end, Job was blessed with a double portion of blessings.  God testified of Job to his friends.  God spoke up for Job and said, “My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath,” (Job 42:7).

It’s not too late for God to turn it around and to testify on your behalf.  The week of Thanksgiving is here, and this year is not over yet.  There is still room for a blessing.  And, even if not – if God never does another thing for us, can we say, “Lord, I thank You?”

At the end of the day, as hard as it may be sometimes, we must transition our thinking and say “… But Lord, I thank YOU!”

 

Tuning In and Tuning Out

 

 

I absolutely love earplugs.  As someone who spends a great deal of time reading and studying, the ability to block out irritating and distracting noises is quite appealing to me.  I mean, really, I could be in the same room with someone watching TV, and with my trusty earplugs, I can continue in my little-secluded paradise of the book or materials I am going through and remain undisturbed.  The people around me can continue their activities all willy nilly and my little bubble of earplug world is protected.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the grand scheme of this thing called life, popping in earplugs to block out unwelcomed voices and interruptions is not so easy.  Yet, what we allow to seep into our hearing can shape you for the good or the bad.  It can influence your next move in life or totally debilitate you depending on what messages you are paying the most attention to.

We have the choice to tune in or tune out the right frequencies that will build our faith, encourage our walk, and bolster our energy that will inspire us to move forward.  Like those radios of old, we turn the knob until we get the right wavelength so that we can hear them playing our song.  And, when it comes to life and where God is leading us, we want them playing our song.  We want to hear things that are pleasing; things that encourage and lift up.

But, as the story of this world goes, that’s not always the case.  Negative is all around us so we have to be selective in what we receive into us, into our thinking, and into our faith.  Sometimes you even have to turn a deaf ear to your own inner voice.  You know the one; the one that expresses doubt and confusion where there should be none.

Every message and every voice we allow to take up space in us is something that will fill us with positive or negative potential.

Gideon was a man in the Bible who had to overcome insecurity.  He not only had to deal with his fear of what it really meant to go against such a large army with a few men, but he also had to tune out his own inner voice that expressed doubt about what God was going to do for him and the people against the Midianite army.

God directed Gideon to go down into the camp with one purpose: to tune him into a different channel of thought than what he had been listening to.  God wanted him to hear something different.  He said, “If you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant, and you shall hear what they say; and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp,” (Judges 7:10-11, NKJV).

When he got into the camp unawares, what he heard changed his whole perspective on the move of God in his life.  There were certain men of the enemy’s army talking and one told the other of a dream he had: “I have had a dream: To my surprise, a loaf of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian; it came to a tent and struck it so that it fell and overturned, and the tent collapsed,” (Judges 7:13, NKJV).

The man who was listening to the dream admitted the truth he felt as its telling.  He said, “This is nothing else but the sword of Gideon, the son of Joash, a man of Israel! Into his hands God has delivered Midian and the whole camp,” (Judges 7:14, NKJV).  Gideon heard the enemy admit defeat before the battle was even fought because God was with the people of Israel.

When those words fell on Gideon’s ears it changed his perspective on the battle.  Those words fed his inner man with a healthy dose of courage and caused him to get into agreement with God.  He spoke to his fellow countrymen and gave this report: “Arise, for the LORD has delivered the camp of Midian into your hand,” (Judges7:15, NKJV).  He was ready to step into new territory of being victorious for God.  He was ready to take on this battle and win.

Stand guard against what you allow to be fed into your hearing.  For what enters your hearing enters your thoughts, and what enters your thoughts affects the spirit man.  Today, make a conscientious effort to tune in to what God is saying through His Spirit and through His Word and tune out anything negative that speaks against His truth.  Let Him be your spiritual earplugs.

Text Free Photo: Pixabay/LubosHouska

“Never Too Strong for God!”

 

“He delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me;
For they were too strong for me,” 2 Samuel 22:18

“Is there anything too hard for me?” is a question God asked Jeremiah, (Jer. 32:27). “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?” was the question God put to Abraham after Sarah laughed at the possibility of having a child in her old age. Luke 1:37 tells us, “For with God nothing shall be impossible,” and yet, when faced with things in this life we don’t understand and heartaches untold, we often feel our situations are out of His reach. As if the problems that overwhelm us are too strong for Him, also.

Due to the anointing on his life, David faced enemies who hated him for no reason. He spent many days with his life hanging in the balance. But, in the end, he declared, “He delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me; for they were too strong for me,” (2 Sam. 22:18).  I’m wondering, is there anything you have been facing lately that just seems off the charts? Do the difficulties you face feel like it’s just too much to handle? Are you going through a situation that seems “too strong” for you?

Take heart today! There is no weight too heavy that God can’t lift it! There is no enemy too strong that God can’t overcome them! There is no miracle too miraculous that God can’t cause it to come to pass! There is nothing too hard for God in any situation, problem or adversity we may face! The enemies and hardship you face today may seem to overwhelm you but they will never overwhelm God. They are never too strong for God to handle. So, with that being said, whatever you face, give it to God and wait for Him to bring you through. God is strong enough to take on anything! We can trust Him with whatever is “too strong” for us. God can deliver you today!

Photo: Pixabay/Pexels

Community of Believers | We are here for one another!

 

Races can take you through many terrains.  Running uphill, it’s hard.  The more you go, the steeper the incline, the harder it gets.  Breath after breath your chest heaves for relief.  Push after push your muscles cry out for mercy.  And, just when you thought you had no more in you; just when you thought you couldn’t go any farther, from behind there comes these hands out of nowhere that steadies your stride and helps propel you forward some more.  On the side of you comes smiling faces with encouraging words grabbing hold of your arms and help pull you up that incline that you might finish your race.  They want to help you make it.

The Apostle Paul often described our Christian life as a race (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).  We run it.  We press for it.  But, sometimes the way gets hard and if it had not been for the grace of God, we would not have made it.

As the community of racers pushed and pulled the struggling runner uphill, so God will minister to us to help us go through our race.  Often this is done through the community of believers that will come alongside the one that needs support.

In this world the struggle is real.  May we, as a community of believers, recognize the support that each one needs.  May we join up with our fellow Christian race runners and offer the help and encouragement they need to make it.  May we see beyond our own race and allow God to use our hands and smiling faces to help bolster someone’s faith as they are striving to make it up the inclines of this life.

We all have the same goal in mind: to finish the race.  We need each other to do it.  As a community of believers, our job goes beyond spreading the gospel and being a light in this dark world, and all the other spiritual stuff it entails.  Our job is also to seek the welfare of one another.  We need to be there for one another.  We need to be present and involved in the process of what they are going through “that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it,” (1 Corinthians 12:25-26).  

More encouraging verses and quotes:

“Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow . . .” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a

“God has chosen us to help one another.” Smith Wigglesworth

“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But… the Good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?'” Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Confident in God!

There is always something about the stories where the underdog comes out on top, where the least of all becomes the greatest that sends chills of inspiration up the spine.

The story of David and Goliath has long evoked a sense awe at the victory won and the hope of possibility in the soul still in the fight facing his/her own giants. The fact of the matter is that many things in this life which we face day to day can at times seem too much to bear.  Our worries don’t necessarily have to be against the biggest guy around.  Just the struggle of making it one more day, another try at giving it your best shot, can make it really hard for some people.

That’s why this article is not going to focus on the beast Goliath was or how David brought him down with just a stone and slingshot.

Nope. I want us to focus on the confidence that David had in God.

To me, it doesn’t matter if what you face is big or small. Sometimes the hardest stuff is the routine, small stuff that gets on your nerves every single day and makes you want to throw in the towel and quit.

Yes, David did the impossible in the name of the Lord. But, what I have found out in my own life is when we evoke that same confidence in God in every area of our lives, big or small, God tends to step in and work it out for us.  And, you know it was Him because that very area in life that used to be a source of hardship and frustration now becomes a place of peace and productivity.

David, before confronting Goliath, declared, “The LORD delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine,” (1 Samuel 17:37, NKJV. emphasis mine).  I want us to focus on “He will” of that statement.  David expressed in those two little words the amount of confidence he had in the God he served.

Confidence in God the key no matter what. Many of times we misplace our confidences in the things and the people we see around us, allowing them to become our focus and control, when God should be at the forefront of the battle with us.  Over and over again we are told in His Word, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man,” (Psalm 118:8, NKJV); yet, man seems to always get more of our attention and we wonder why we falter in the battle and don’t end up standing as victor over the giants and circumstances we face.

We have to rely more on God than anything else in this world. He truly is the only one who can get in there and fight with us and for us and bring us to a victorious end on the other side.

Below are some reminders to trust God and have confidence in Him no matter the size of anything we face. Knowing this will improve our day to day struggles in life and turn them into day to day victories.

  • “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5
  • “Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.” – Isaiah 26:4
  • “Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.” – Psalm 37:3
  • “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.” – 2 Chronicles 20:17
  • “Never be afraid to trust in unknown future to a known God.” – Corrie Ten Boom
  • “Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.” – Martin Luther
  • “So many of us limit our praying because we are not reckless in our confidence in God. In the eyes of those who do not know God, it is madness to trust Him, but when we pray in the Holy Spirit we begin to realize the resources of God, that He is our perfect heavenly Father, and we are His children.” – Oswald Chambers

“The Beauty of God’s Heart”

 

The beauty of God’s heart is most known to us through those wonderful things that make Him, Him.  Traits and characteristics that stood to defend us when we should have been condemned.

Some portray God in the harshest sense.  With gavel in hand at the least little infraction, we are automatically charged and sentenced.  While God most certainly will judge all unrepentant sin, the beauty of His heart gives chance after chance, offering multiplied times to receive His forgiveness.

Hard, God is not.  We could probably never know how many more times we have experienced His undeserved redemption, grace, and mercy at work in our lives than we did any deserved penalties.

The beauty of God’s heart wants to save, not destroy (2 Peter 3:9).  Thus, He forebears with us and is longsuffering toward us.  That means He’s not in a rush to convict as some suppose (but again, all unrepentant sin will be dealt with).  Rather, His heart seeks to acquit; to exonerate one from guilt through Him, our Lord Jesus Christ, who bore the guilt we should have been marked by.

You see, the beauty of God’s heart is untouched by anything we can imagine.  When we see Him set the spiritual captives free, the beauty of His heart understands that in our human capacity we will never comprehend the true and total cost of what it took to do that.

When we see Him heal we may rejoice in the miracle, but we will never understand with full clarity that there was never supposed to be a need for healing.  The beauty of God’s heart sees the original wholeness that was intended from the beginning and that it’s only through the sadness of sin that this malady of the flesh has entered into the world.  I imagine the beauty of God’s heart holds the simpleness of all that creation was intended to be when He spoke, “It is good,” (Genesis).

I imagine His heart holding everything that is good, and perfect, and lovely, and wonderful.  Walking through the most beautiful field of flowers on the world’s most glorious day surrounded by the greatest peace this world has to offer could not even begin to scratch the surface of what we find in Him.

I imagine the beauty of His heart can be described much like His shining countenance found glowing from that Holy City in the Revelation.  In it, there is brilliance and radiance.  There is mystery, yet there is also a longing for intimacy with His creation.  There is grandeur, but at the same time, it only takes the simplicity of faith to come near Him.

God watches mankind live after and pursue their own plans and purposes each and every day, yet the beauty of His heart holds the cares of each person and each choice we make, wayward or not.

The main thing is the beauty of God’s heart is intimately in touch with His creation; with you and me.  No matter where we go, in flesh or just in thought, His heart knows and is involved.

As mighty, and holy, and sovereign, and omniscient as God is, why is He so mindful of us and our sometimes messy lives?  The answer is because of the beauty of His heart.  For above all, God is love (1 John 4:8) and His heart holds all the love that we can’t even begin to imagine, in the most beautiful sense, pure and undefiled from anything we can know down here, for each and every one of us.

Even when we reach that place in glory we may still not fully comprehend all the beauty His heart holds.  But oh, how wonderful it is to experience it, feel it, and know the beauty of God’s heart holds a special place for me and you.

Father God,

            You are so beautiful to us and toward us.  May we recognize the care You take to hold each one of us in the crevice of Your very being and may that realization cause us to draw nearer to You each and every day.  In the name of Your dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, we pray,

                                                                                                                        Amen!

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“Don’t Romanticize Life!”

“Beloved think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you,” 1 Peter 4:12

“Confirming the souls of the disciples and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we may through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God,” Acts 14:22

One of the best things about being an avid reader is the happy ending that appears at the end of almost every book I read.  When you first dive into a new book you begin to get familiar with the characters and their life.  Each turn of the page takes us along on their journey, revealing to us their joys and sadness, hardships and pain.  By the time we reach those last few pages, everything has worked itself out.  There’s almost always a reason for celebration and the typical “aww” moment, especially if you’re into romance novels.

That’s the great thing about books.  They allow your imagination to soar, taking you into worlds you may not otherwise get a chance to explore.  Your mind’s eye gets hooked up with the writer’s vision for the book and soon a vivid story begins to unfold before you.  Though there are no pictures, illustrations begin to form revealing all that is written therein.  Television has its place – oh, but to read a book!

Whether it be a movie, television program or a book the stories we hear and see transport us, giving us a reprieve from reality.  But, when the last page is read or the screen goes blank, it’s back to reality.  And, reality isn’t always as picturesque as the stories we left behind.  Sometimes love does not find its way.  Sometimes the bad guy does get away.  Sometimes the hero doesn’t make it home.  Sometimes the disease doesn’t get healed.  Sometimes the child does not find their way home.  Sometimes the friend does not stick closer than a brother, and so on.

Sometimes life is just plain ole not fun!  I think more so than ever that we have not heard enough about the reality of life.  Instead, we are raising up a generation of rose-colored glasses wearers.  Even from the pulpit of most American churches, the messages of peace, prosperity and wealth has taken over the reality of life.  Jesus Christ, Himself clearly stated that in the world you will have tribulation, John 16:33.  Peace and blessings will come.  Promises will be fulfilled.  But our physical being is planted in the world right now, and while we are here we have to face the reality that everything, every day is not going to be easy.

This philosophy breeds a culture of disillusionment.  Romanticizing life leaves one totally off guard and taken aback when troubling times occur.  A hard life is a hard life no matter which way you look at it and when one is not ready in the least for it, the residual effects can be devastating.  “We may through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God.”  It is going to be hard sometimes.

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you,” 1 Peter 4:12.  In other words, the test is going to be hard sometimes.  Tests are not passed with a fly by the night attitude.  Tests are passed when people are prepared for them.  But, the wearer of the rose-colored glasses with will have a harder time because the tests seem like a “strange thing” that has happened unto them.

Listen, prepared or not, some things in life will just come out of the blue and whip your world around causing you to say, “What the what?”  It’s inevitable.  The idea behind not romanticizing life is to expect the unexpected.  We don’t want to lose out on those promises God has for us because we have the false illusion that nothing will ever happen to us.

The promises are coming, that’s a given.  In John 16:33, after Jesus warned, “In the world ye shall have tribulation,” He also gave us cause to celebrate.  He said, “But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  And, after Peter wrote of the “strange thing,” he exhorted his readers with verses 13-14a.  He said, “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.  If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you . . .”

Oh yes, thank God for the promises.  Every word that speaks of them is true.  But, don’t be surprised when we have to go through some stuff today before we reach those promises.

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