“I Believe God!”

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In the midst of the storm, he was tossed.  A prisoner shackled by iron, but not held down in his faith.  The Apostle Paul has been through some rough patches in life but even now he stands by his faith, and says, “I believe God!” (Acts 27:25; NKJV, read Acts 27).

There are moments when life will make you scratch your head with wonder, thinking, “What the world is going on around here?  I have stood the ground of faith.  I have walked the path of the Lord, and yet, now I am facing a ferocious storm that wants to capsize everything I believe in.  I face waves of adversity come without notice and slam against my body, my mind, and my heart.  What’s going on?!”

If you have never faced that head scratching, heart-searching moment, then I celebrate with you.  But, if you, like most of us, have stood on the bow of the boat, with a raging storm all around; thundering, lightning, and the very real fear that in a moment’s notice everything could go really wrong really quickly, then you know the quandary it places you in: give up and forget everything that has gotten you to where you are; or, secure yourself for the ride and hold on.

The Apostle Paul chose to do just that.   The storm hadn’t changed.  As a matter of fact, it grew worse.  Yet, he anchored himself in God.  Paul held on to the promise of God and boldly stated, “I believe!”

In God’s Word is light and strength to hold on to during the darkest and stormiest of days and nights.  Some days require more encouragement than others.  Some nights need the comfort of God holding you so close through His matchless words that say, “I am here for you.  You are not alone.  Come, find comfort and solace in Me and rest your weary soul.”

When He says, “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you,” (Deut. 31:8; NLT); Father God, help us to lay down the discouragement that tries to speak against Your promise.

When His Word speaks, “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds,” (Psalm 147:3); Father God, help us to find comfort in You and trust that you are healing this situation right now; that Your hand is still bandaging these wounds the world tries to inflict upon us.

When Jesus declares, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28; NIV); Father God, help us to cast these burdens and worries at Your feet and accept the peace that You want for us in our hearts.

Like the Apostle Paul, we have to choose to believe God over what’s raging around us.  Storms are frightening and life can be tumultuous, but Father God, help us to hold on to You, and just believe.

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“Our True Image”

In a world where selfies, mainstream personal videos, and profiles dominate it’s easy to surmise that image to most means a great deal.  One’s style and the exterior of self is put on display for the world to like, or not.

But, the true degree of our image goes much deeper.  It’s so easy to look at the clothes, the hair, and the poses and think that’s the sum of a person.  When God crafted us individually and designed us like Him, He saw so much more.  He had a greater vision in mind.

I fear that we have watered down His intention for our purposeful design of a deeper and more spiritually revealing self that personifies His glory before the world and we have settled for the cheaper, mass-produced, mass approved public version.

I believe when God spoke in the beginning that we were made in His image (see Genesis 1:27), He spoke of more than just our facial features, our physique, our height, weight, and so on.  He spoke of our representation of something the boundaries of those outer measurements can’t comprehend.  He spoke of our likeness of Him.  At that point of creation, when it came time for humanity to be put on the earth, God looked to Himself to snap a portrait of who we are truly designed to be.

Now, do I mean that you are supposed to be God sitting on the throne in heaven?  No.  But, what I do mean is we are carriers of so much more.  The portrait of our lives is made to expose and reflect His glory of the greater.  The selfies we have grown accustomed to can’t compare to the true nature we were designed to resemble.

So my question is, why settle for less when your life and mine was made to shine beyond the flash of a lens?  Can we not view our importance and value through the eyes of God instead of view clicks, like buttons, and reactions?  Who or what do we really want our lives to model?

Selfies and having fun with cameras aren’t bad.  I take them myself from time to time.  They just don’t hold the sum of who we really are.  We can make pretty faces, pose, and dress – but, we will never find true happiness and satisfaction in life exchanging our true image for cheaper version this world has to offer.

Therefore, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” Matthew 5:16.  Show the world your selfie that’s established in Him.

Verses to ponder:

Colossians 3:10 “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.”

Ephesians 4:24 “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

Romans 13:14 “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”

Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

 

“God fights for His people, and He wins!”

Here’s a little encouragement for your day: “God fights for His people, and He wins!”  I don’t know what battle you are in or the seemingly impossible situation you may be facing, but our God is a victorious God.  He has never failed and He has never lost a battle.  And, He won’t start now.  “There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against the LORD.  The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the LORD,” (Proverbs 21:30-31, NKJV).

God’s track record doesn’t have marks on it to say that He wasn’t able to accomplish this task or that.  As a matter of fact, the Bible states that He is, “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,” (Ephesians 3:20).  What that means is the very thing you are praying for; the very struggle you are contending with is nothing for God to handle.  He can do that and more!

Sometimes I don’t think we really understand the scope of God’s power and strength.  Our God is mighty!  Oh, we are used to quoting it and singing about it but do we really understand the strength behind it.  For instance, when Elisha and the city he was in were faced with a multitude of warriors on horses and chariots, he was not moved.  In fact, he told his servant, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them,” (2 Kings 6:16).  After that, he prayed, “LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see.  And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha,” (2 Kings 6:17).

There is no might that can stand against God’s might.  There is no earthly or spiritual force that can contend with His awesomeness.  God is surrounding His people even when we don’t see it.  God is fighting for His people even when we don’t feel it.  God is defending His people even when it looks like all odds are against us.  Nothing can hold God back from victory.  Nothing can stand in the way of the will He wants to accomplish in your life.

God is an enemy defeater (Deuteronomy 23:14).  When He rises, the enemies scatter (Numbers 10:35).  He said in Jeremiah, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?” (32:27).  Your battle is not too much for God to handle.  He has fought wars for His people down through the ages and He still stands as our defender and our confidence, today.   

I pray, that our eyes of faith be opened today, that we see Him as Elisha did.  With hearts of faith, that we see our God standing and fighting for the cause of His people.  God has not left us to battle in this world alone.  “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing,” (Zephaniah 3:17).

Even if it doesn’t seem to be coming together as we may envision, hold on to hope.  God may have something else in mind.  At the same time, remember you are not in this alone.  You do have a defender who has never lost, but wins!

More encouraging verses and quotes:

“The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14:14

“But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me.” Psalm 22:19

“Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.” Psalm 24:8

“Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.” Psalm 147:5

“When a man has no strength, if he leans on God, he becomes powerful.” D.L. Moody

“God will always be there with us and give us the strength to meet the difficulties of life.” Wendell E. Mettey

 

“The Babe of Bethlehem”

“And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,  And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.” Matthew 2:5-6

At the writing of Matthew 2:5-6, over 700 years have gone by since the Old Testament prophet Micah told of a Ruler that would be birthed out of this little town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2-3).  While over those centuries of waiting, countless babies have entered this world and linked the beginning of their lives to this motherland, only One’s heritage can connect the dots with those long ago words that herald the coming of the Savior of the world.

He would be the freedom the world has longingly yearned for.  He would be the peace, souls since the beginning of time, have dreamt about.  He would be the Shepherd who would not lead with a rod or a staff, but with His life.  This blessed Babe of Bethlehem would be the all eternal One, whose days are from everlasting (Micah 5:).  He would be the Babe seen as He “who is, and who was, and which is to come, the Almighty,” (Revelation 1:8), and He would change everything the world once knew.

No wonder hearts were stirred.  No wonder souls were searching with excitement.  No wonder kingdoms were in a ruckus.  The Babe of Bethlehem was no ordinary babe.  He was God incarnate, God in the flesh, “God with us,” (Matthew 1:23).  The imperfect people born in this world would need the help of that perfect Savior born in Bethlehem.

The celebration of Christmas is the celebration of that precious Babe who had finally arrived in the world to bring this long-awaited hope.  He that was born as the prophesied Messiah would lift the judgment of condemnation for those who not only seek Him, but find Him.  And, they are no longer content to have Him wrapped in swaddling clothes, but their soul’s desire is to wrap Him in their hearts.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

 

“Follow the Star!”

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Hope.  I have to believe their journey was measured with steps of hope.  They’ve heard the prophecies.  They have studied to know when and where and what to look for and at its appearing in the sky they knew for sure, somehow, some way, that by following that particular star, it would lead them to the source of all hope being fulfilled.  It would lead them to the Messiah, the true King, who is worthy to be honored, worshipped and praised (Matthew 2:1-2).

There’s a lot of following and pursuits that people chase after every day.  But, if those steps aren’t leading us closer to the true King then it is a vain journey.  To have that wonderful life or miracle of newness on any street we don’t need to wait for a fictitious figment of our imagination to come to town.  We need to place one spiritual foot in front of the other and go after the true Star.

Not the twinkling celestial bodies in the sky that give light to the objects below, but the Star who is the “light of the world,” (John 8:12) that allows us to escape the darkness of sin and breathes new life into the dreary souls of these world travelers, illuminating a new path for our journey.

It is Him we are to look for.  It is Christ we are to chase after.  And, as they say, “Wise men still seek Him.”  Therefore, follow the Star.  For He is not only the King of the Jews the men of the old days were seeking after.   He is also the King of our hearts and the fulfiller of all the hope we are in search of.

“Power Belongs to God!”

We don’t have to do life on our own. We don’t have to try to press through the days in our own power and strength. Rather, we are in a relationship with a loving, heavenly Father, who cares about everything we are going through and everything we are dealing with and He has the power to take control of it all because all power belongs to God (Psalm 62:11).

Father God, in your hands we commit every worry, every fear and every trouble. Father God, we lean and depend on Your grace and mercy. We thank You for all that You have already done and continue to do in each and every one of our lives. We know that You see all and know all. Help us to rest in You. Give us that peace which surpasses all understanding as we hold on to You and Your word and Your hope for this day and this week. Thank You that You love us enough to hear our prayers and it’s in Your hands we leave them. Thank You for being our all in all. In Jesus’ name we pray – AMEN!!!

“God is with the Generation of the Righteous!”

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“For God is with the generation of the righteous,” Psalm 14:5, NKJV

“With” is a simple four-lettered word we throw in the middle of a sentence to show the togetherness of something or someone.  But, when speaking of our relationship with God, we do have that definition of God being near us wherever we are.  We do have the meaning of Him walking amongst us through the valley lows and the mountain highs.  We do have that basic hint of the word “with,” but we also have so much more.

That word, as general as it is in meaning, not only tells us where God is in conjunction with His people but because of where He is, it also declares a shift in our stance and position in this world.  We are not just the run of the mill ordinary folk you may meet on the street in passing.  We are not the average Joe that people may be used to dealing with.  As we are taking our daily steps and going about our routines, we and they must realize there is so much more to us than what the naked eye may see.  As we sit at our desks to work or do whatever tasks our job requires, our position may look like everybody else’s on the outside – oh but, inside He is there.  God has implanted a part of Himself in the heart of each believer and He has attached Himself to the righteous.

Listen, it may not always feel like it, but when people look at you what they are seeing is just a shadow of what you really got going on with you.  Surrounding you and dwelling in you, through the power of the Holy Spirit is God Almighty.  Today, walk with your head held high knowing that no matter how people perceive you, their view is obscured by whatever bias they carry.  Who you are in God and God with you speaks of so much more.  Your stance and your position now are one of grace, power, holiness, love, and peace that is not only covering your life but is walking with you every step of the way.

Today, Lord, You have chosen to draw near to where Your people are.  You have surrounded us on every side and have taken up residence in the innermost parts of our being.  God, thank You for the gift of You.  Thank You for loving us so much that even in Your omnipotent and holy nature, You have attached Yourself to humble creatures such as we, Your people, and You desire to be with us wherever we are.  This is a most priceless gift to us.  Let us not take lightly this preciousness of Your presence with us.  In the name of Jesus Christ, AMEN!

 

 

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!

“Peace on Earth”

Sin has destroyed peace.  Circumstances try to overrun peace.  Emotions can’t seem to grab hold of peace but, if this time of year teaches us nothing else, it’s that peace is still a very real thing to not only seek after but to find.

The Savior was born for peace.  He came to reconcile, restore, and offer peace to mankind of the likes they never could have else wise imagined having.  His peace is not commercial and it’s not superficial.  The peace of Christ is an inner peace that comes from knowing that even through the hardest trials of life, God’s love for each of us is so magnificent that He offered us this great gift, the best Christmas gift we could ever hope for, through His Blessed Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Peace should not be so elusive for the heart to behold.  While the Shepherds were in that field on that holy night, the chorus of the angels rang out, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men,” (Luke 2:14).  Peace is part of the salvation package; it’s part of the gift we have received through Him.  While it may not always seem like it or even feel like it, in Christ you have a peace which, “passeth all understanding,” and this peace “shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:7).

Your life hidden in Him is something beyond human comprehension.  You are cemented in a joy that cannot be moved because the One who holds your hope cannot be moved.  Your Redeemer came as a babe and reigns as Victor and He, being the Author of your salvation, is not only your eternal reward in heaven, but He is your peace on earth today.

Father God, Help us through this season.  Not just the holiday season, but these seasons of life that we find ourselves wrapped in.  There are so many questions of why that we may not always understand.  There are circumstances that often we just cannot figure out.  Thankfully, You know it all together and you didn’t ask us to try to know the beginning from the end because You already do.  You asked us to have faith and just rest in the peace that Your Son has already given us.  For many, this time of year is very hard.  For some situations, we can’t begin to imagine the hurt and confusion one carries, so we stand and pray that people everywhere would feel a refreshing of Your peace in their lives today.  AMEN!

“Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone”

One thing I have reluctantly had to admit is that I don’t always have Abraham faith.  When one really delves into his story, his story was laden with change.  Change, often times, is something I have been pretty resistant to.

Let’s face it, leaving your own home is no small feat (Genesis 12:1), especially during the Bible era.  In our day we have options to hop back on a plane and usually, there are provisions and backup plans that are available if that adventurous leap of faith didn’t work out.  And, this could all be done in a matter of hours.

I imagine it wasn’t quite that easy back then.  But, then again, maybe that’s a good thing.  Maybe not having easy access to falling back into one’s comfort zone is a blessing in disguise for it forces that venture forward.  It forces us to take on new terrain and enter new callings as we try to acclimate and navigate our new surroundings and circumstances.

Often I feel the ease of looking back hinders our progress.  Unchartered territories can be scary, uncomfortable, and demanding of our time, talent, and emotions.  But what if it leads to something greater?  What if that step of faith allows you to do something miraculous that you could never see yourself doing?  What if it opened new doors of opportunity that you never could have imagined being able to walk through?

I guess that’s why it’s called faith.  Almost blindly, without full perception and without knowing where every piece of the puzzle already fits, we are asked to play along anyway.  Engage in the unknown no matter what the current reality says.  After all, according to the Bible, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Hebrews 11:1).

Comfort zones, though they appear safe, are in fact very dangerous.  Walking in the land of familiarity may seem like a sure bet but in them lays unexpected traps.  Traps where dreams lose their freshness.  Traps where ideas lose their strength to be propelled forward.  Traps where talents get wasted in this pit of unseen snares.

God has always wanted the best for all His people.  But, when He calls, it is up to them to make the move.  He may not be asking you to leave your homeland, but where or what do you feel Him pulling you toward?  What area of your comfort zone has become so stale that now it too is very uncomfortable, yet, you’re still too afraid to make a move?

If Abraham had not put action behind his calling, he would have never been dubbed the father of faith, and so many things in our biblical history would not be traced back to his stepping out moment.

I wonder if we boldly step out today, what miraculous future events will point back to our time when we chose to leave the safety of our comfort zones?

One thing is for sure if we stay where we are, and if we keeping doing the same thing over and over again, nothing will ever change.  Don’t substitute comfort and reluctance to change for what can be.  Who knows what God wants to write in your future story?  Step out of your comfort zone and let Him write something amazing!