The Tragedy of Unbelief

 

the tragedy of unbelief 2

“So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” Hebrews 3:19

Standing at the crosswalk, we are ready to go forward. All we are waiting for is the signal that gives us the all-clear, telling us it is safe to walk ahead. The choice is up to us to follow the directions of the signal or ignore it and place ourselves in harm’s way.

The Children of Israel had a chance to move forward into something great that God had in store for them. It was a land of promise. God had given them the all-clear. God said, “Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel…” (Numbers 13:2; emphasis added). 

The promise was there, clearly spoken by God, that this is what He was doing for His people. He was giving them this land. No, if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. He didn’t send a delegation for debate. He sent them to see what was ahead for them. That was their signal to move forward.

There are promises galore written in the Holy Word of God. Promises of futures unimaginable. But, the sad reality for many is to come to the end of their life never obtaining those promises. Never understanding or knowing what it truly feels like to experience the riches of God’s grace.

Sadder still is not only coming to the end of one’s life having never experienced the greatness God has in store for His children – but, when one faces their eternity, they are told of that glorious place of promise, that they may not enter in.

Unbelief caused the children of Israel to forfeit their first attempted entrance into the Promised Land (Hebrews 3:7-11, 15-19). A land they looked forward to while they suffered under the bondage of slavery. A place of fulfillment their souls longed not only to see but to live in, and experience, and enjoy.

When they decided not to take hold of God’s promise for themselves, they decided to say no to His goodness until it was too late.

Today, many are walking opposite of the promise of God, and His name is Jesus. Jesus Christ is the greatest testimony of promise there ever is or was. He is the greatest gift of deliverance a soul could ever hope for and need. Yet, through unbelief, many say no, and walk away, being turned back into the wilderness to fight the elements alone and miss out on what could have been.

Walking away from an earthly promise is one thing. Truthfully, when the children of Israel found out what they had given up, they quickly wanted to change their minds (Numbers 14:40-45). 

But can I tell you that walking away from an eternal promise is a tragedy far, far worse. Turn to Jesus today while there is still time. While the door is open, Jesus is inviting you to enter His rest both now and for all eternity. He says, “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” (Matthew 11:29). Today, your promise awaits. Jesus is signaling you to walk forward.     

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God’s Covering Love

God's covering love - pagemodo pic

“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.”

Song of Solomon 2:4

Like a mother bird shelters her little ones under her wings for safety so too does the Lord for us His people.

Father God is for you today. And, His banner over you is love (Song of Solomon 2:4). In His saving grace, you are covered and protected, held and loved as the apple of His eye.

There is no greater treasure our Father could want other than your heart. How freely will you render your all to Him when you know how truly loved you are by God?

Draw near and stay in His shelter today. Do not let your feet or your heart move you from underneath that blessed covering.

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Except the LORD build the house…

except the LORD build the house - pagemodo pic

“Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it…” Psalm 127:1

Except the LORD builds the house, then, my friend, the labor you put forth is in vain. The key to any strong structure is the foundation, and unless the LORD be thy foundation in all things, whatever you hope to bring forth in your own strength will all be for nothing.

This life was never meant to be lived in our own strength or by our own wisdom and planning. The Bible is quick to remind us: “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;” (2 Corinthians 3:5).  

How many times do we rest upon what “ourselves” can bring to the plan? Is it not Christ who chose “unlearned and ignorant men” (Acts 4:13) and made them vessels that would carry His gospel message throughout the world? And did not Paul teach us: “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:27-31)?

The Architect of this world is also the Architect of your life, and if you allow Him, He can build there something fantastic and wonderful. 

His plans are never about your sufficiency or what you can do – it is all about what He can do through you. Let God build, and your labor will not be in vain.

Father God, not only in our homes, but in our lives, in our ministries, and in everything and every place you have set us, and wherever we may seek to build – we pray for Your guiding hand and leading heart that we build only what and where You would have us to build. You are Sovereign God. You are in control of all of these and all of us. And we pray that it is You that build in our lives and that You would help us to build. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray, AMEN!

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“Lean!”

LEAN - MY PIC

“Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.” John 13:23

Are you a disciple? Are you one of the beloved? Are you as he who sits in fellowship with his Lord?

Then, lean.

Are you savoring time with Him? Are you taking in the words He speaks? Are you resting in His presence?

Then, lean.

Are you struggling in the mire? Are you hanging on by a thread? Are you on the threshold of giving up?

Then, lean.

No matter what the story of our life is telling at this moment. Regardless of the path, be it good or wrought with turmoil. In all cases, and in every way, before we do anything else, we must lean.

Lean into His bosom. Lie close to His heart. Trust Him with your cares. From Him, never depart.

Our strength was never ours on our own. Everything within us was designed to lean. In success and failures, hills and valleys, lean with trust in the Savior who will never let you down.

He is your support, your confidence, and your stay. Jesus loves you.  Let Him hold you like only He can while you just lean.

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

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“Come to the Waters”

 

“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters . . .” Isaiah 55:1

Come to the waters, the Lord beckons.  This world will tire you out and the pursuit of it will leave you drained.  Refreshment can only be found in Him.  As one traipsing through a desert of darkness that this world so often leads you through, His plentiful Spirit will satiate the aridness and will water your life where it was once dry.

Do you need that touch from Him?

Come!

Do you need that refreshing spring that flows from the everlasting Father?

Come!

Do you need the tenderness and hope that can only be found in the stream of His salvation?

Come!

Do you need to be rejuvenated into new birth in the waters of His spiritual deliverance?

Then, come!

Don’t lighten your pace.  Run with haste to the pool of His mercy and grace, and come.  Don’t let anyone stop you from dipping in.  Dive in with full surrender and with full abandon, and come.

A sip just won’t do.  We are thirsty for You, O God!  We have nothing to offer for the price You paid, yet, You say come.  We have no value on our own, but You speak, come anyway.  There is no good thing that dwells in our flesh (Romans 7:18), but You invite us to draw near to You and come.

Come to the waters.  Step into the abundant life He so offers (John 10:10).  Come and let your soul be spiritually satisfied.  Come and take the offer of His salvation for yourself.

Come, and don’t turn away.  Don’t give up this great treasure that can only be found in God.  Don’t let the delight of what the Lord Jesus Christ bought for you on that cross slip through your fingers.

“Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live . . .” (Isaiah 55:3, NKJV).  Live in Him.  Live in the peace He offers through the pouring out of His blood.  Live a life free from spiritual drought because you were once thirsty and you came and partook of His holy waters.

Yes, this world will dry you out, but He restores, He redeems, and He puts in right fellowship with Him every thirsty soul that comes to Him and drinks.  Jesus said, “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 4:14).

Therefore, come to the Water!

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“We Are Made New!”

New. What a great word! What was, is now
gone. The old is done away with and put in the
past. It doesn’t have a place in the here and
now. For now, “all things are become new.”

Life is now seen with different eyes; with a
different vision. Because Christ has changed
us from what we used to be, now we see us
as He sees us – NEW! We have been
transformed. We have been remade. Our
lives have been restored. And now, our walk is
made great. Bought with a price and made
whole through and through. Saved creatures
in Jesus Christ, who are now totally NEW!

No longer enemies…

“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:10)

Have you ever really thought of yourself as an enemy to anyone? Most would say no. Nobody likes to think of themselves as being against anybody in such a manner to be categorized as an enemy even if they don’t wholly agree with them.  

Worse, have you ever thought of yourself as an enemy toward God? I’m assuming you’ll answer with an emphatic “No!” to that one. The majority of us would absolutely shudder at such a thought because such phrasing seems very, very extreme for anyone, especially when you are using it in a reference between mortal individuals like us and our holy God.

But enemies are what we used to be. As hard as it may seem to be to grasp, if we were or are living outside of Christ (and we all were at one point), we were at enmity with God. But, through Christ’s death on the cross, we have been restored! The Bible tells us, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them…” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). Now, we are living life anew through His “life.”  For, “He that hath the Son hath life…” (1 John 5:12).

Because of what Jesus did on our behalf, we have “joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  We can rejoice because our sin-sick souls have been cured and made whole by His redeeming blood. Our “atonement” came through Him. Our reconciliation with the Father has been healed by His sacrifice (Romans 5:8-9).   

Now, we have a reason for real joy! Our relationship with God is no longer standoffish. Rather, now we can draw near with faith because all the obstacles that stood in the way of a wholesome union have been taken care of through the cross. We are now in the right alignment with Him. Our lives are restored to work in the order which He designed. Sin has been thrust through as the enemy that it is and harmony between us and the Father sings with the song of salvation.

Once we may have been considered as enemies, but now in we are saved! Is there a better feeling in the world? I think not!   

Cloud nine may be an expression of happiness according to the standards of the world. But, we know what it is to truly rejoice because our future and life eternal in the presence of the Father give us something beyond a metaphor – it gives us real joy in knowing this shall happen. We are secured in Him and we have something better on the horizon. We have the hope of heaven which cannot be extinguished by the world!

Through Jesus Christ, we have been given the gift of so much more! Aren’t you thankful for that today? I know I am. The truth of all He did for us is completely awe-inspiringly out of this world, literally… 

Our lives have been completely turned around and now, when God sees those who believe, He sees them as nothing less than His beautiful child: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” (John 1:12). Now, we are no longer enemies. Now, “we are saved by his life”!

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What Would It Have Been Like? – “In the Garden with God”

 

One of my favorite times of the day is waking up.  Not the actual waking up part (sometimes that’s a little hard 😉 ), but when I finally get up, I get to draw back the curtains and see the new day.  It’s untouched.  It’s filled with hope and promise.  Whatever happened yesterday is not here for this is today.  It’s that freshness that draws me in and gets my soul stirred for the possibilities ahead.

When we go on vacation one of the places we stay at is a condo in the mountains.  It’s so peaceful.  With coffee in hand in the morning, I head out onto the balcony and sit to admire the new day.  The only thing I hear is the birds singing their song.  The deer break twigs and rustle leaves when they walk.  Sometimes you see the groundhogs and other animals eating their meals for the day.  You get this sense about you that this is the way it was meant to be.

And it makes me wonder about a time when all days were meant to be like this.  When there was a time when all days started in innocence and nothing was yet corrupted.  When there was a time that man walked freely in the Garden with God.

I love gardens and I declare one day I will have a nice one.  I’m working on it.  We were meant to live the garden lifestyle.  We were designed to reign in innocence and peace.  The world we live in today contradicts the fellowship we were created to have with God.  We were to have an up-close relationship with Him.  After the fall the Bible tells us,  “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day…” (Gen. 3:8).

Let your mind go back, not to the sin, but to the experience of being with God in the garden.  Adam and Eve experienced God on a level that no other being will have the privilege to.  Surely this was not the first time God had paid them a visit in this fashion for they knew what it sounded like when they heard Him in the garden.  They had a realistic divine view of the Almighty here on earth.

What would it have been like to have the Sovereign of the universe, day by day to come and see about me?  What would it have been like to verbally hear the mouth that spoke things into existence speaking to me?  What would it have been like to hear Him moving among the garden with my own ears and to know it was the Lord?  What would it have been like?

There, thinking back before the Fall, fellowship with God was uninterrupted by evil.  There the beauty of all God is could be seen by those He created.  There, peace was the predominant feeling because the shaker of peace had not entered the scene.  There, God spoke directly to man unhindered by fleshly desires.  There, it’s hard to imagine, but life was nothing but good because the man knew nothing but God.

Imagine the best backyard barbeque.  We sit around laughing and enjoying the company of others.  Not that we are bringing the Sacred down to our level but in our finite understanding can we imagine in the garden, Adam and God chit-chatting about the day, about the animals, or about life in general?  Can we imagine the way Adam’s heart must have felt assured every time He heard the voice of God speak to him?  Can we imagine that when Eve was presented to her husband there was no fear, only love, because that’s all they ever received was love on the earth?  Can we really imagine?

It may be hard for our minds to fathom such an age of innocence and honesty.  It’s hard for us to see what this must have been like because now our view has been corrupted by sin.  But I imagine it was glorious.  It was nothing like we’ll ever know here on earth.  In that garden, during that time, beauty is all that was seen with our eyes and with our hearts.  God was all that was known.  Oh, imagine.

It’s hard to put into words when everyone was right before God.  It’s hard to describe from one’s soul a place of longing but never viewing.  It’s hard to capture the essence of what being with God was like there, and yet my heart still yearns to know what would it have been like?

What do you think it would have been like to see the world at its best?  What do think it would have been like to fellowship with God at your best?  Where we live in the mid-Atlantic region we are expected to have rain most of the day.  Even in this dreariest of settings, I’m looking at the trees swaying outside my window and imagining the beauty of that time.  I guess that’s what it would have been like, beautiful because everything was in harmony with God.  Beautiful represents their relationship with God and it represents the surroundings that God created for them.

One day we will experience that garden lifestyle again, that age of beautiful unbroken relationship with Him when we meet Him in our heavenly home.  And I can’t wait.

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“You are not forgotten!”

“Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me;” Job 29:2

Have you ever experienced these same thoughts that Job expressed?  Have difficult times ever made you look back to the times before when you felt everything in your world was right?  When adversity strikes and when we deal with things we do not understand, I’m sure many of us, like Job, take our mind’s eye to those past days when trouble wasn’t knocking on our door.

The difficulty of the days he was presently in caused Job to look at those previous times as times of favor, saying, that’s when “God preserved me”.  But now, his expressions tell a different story of what his feelings are feeling.  His troubles caused him to think that just because he was going through adversity, God was not as presently with him as before.

Little did Job know, and many times we need to be reminded, that just as God was with us in the good times, so too is He with us in the troubling times.  It may look different than we are used to seeing it, and it may feel different, but just because we don’t understand and may question, it doesn’t negate the fact that God is presently near, and watching, and keeping His people.

Jesus taught, “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7). 

A bird sold is not forgotten before God, and neither was Job, and neither are you.  Our value before God is so precious and so much more than we could ever imagine.  The clouds that come during those dark days may try to hide that fact, but the truth of God’s Word is a fact, that no matter how we feel or how hard it may seem, God is still there for you.  Even if you are dealing with hurtful situations and even if you feel like you have been wronged, God’s loving eyes see and His precious hands are working behind the scenes, holding you, loving on you, and valuing you when others may not.

Difficult times are difficult because they are not easy.  During these times, see Him with eyes of faith.  See that He is still with you and that you have not been left in this alone (Hebrews 13:5).  Take your cares, your disappointments, your hurts, and your discouragements to God in prayer.  He is there listening.  And trust me, He does cares.

Just because it hurts it does not mean He’s not feeling what you are feeling (Hebrews 4:15).  And just because we can’t figure out all this stuff, God knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), and we must trust Him with it, and with all the times in between.

God is here for you today, God is here.  Regardless of what you feel or are going through, you are not forgotten.

“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.” Isaiah 49:15

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Purpose in the Struggle

Why, we may wonder, why God does not just remove every obstacle and resistance to our faith?  Why in this journey must we fight?  Why must we strive against adversity in reaching where we are aiming to be?

Can a faith that is not exercised truly be called faith?  For if the road traveled is always smooth and the pathways are always leveled plains, how then will we ever learn to climb?  How will we learn to exert our muscles and pull our weight to mount upon the top? 

More strength only comes by using more strength.  More faith only comes by being forced to use more faith.  We can only learn to climb by experience.  We can only learn to push ahead by continuing to push ahead.  We can only learn to fight by being made to fight.

There are things that God knows His people will only learn by going through them.  That’s why Judges 3:2 says, “Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof;”. 

When we are choosing multiple services in life we tend to want to choose those with experience.  Take getting a simple hair cut for example.  We want those who have had plenty of practice perfecting their skill before attempting to put scissors near our head that could alter the way we look for good or for bad.

God has many plans and purposes for His people but what we fail to see or have the patience for is the seasoning of the saint, the molding and perfecting that goes on behind the scenes.

I guarantee no one whom you have read about or see, who is doing great exploits for the Lord, just fell into that role ready to go.  There was some teaching.  There was some humbling.  There was some learning along the way.  It may have been behind closed doors and away from the eyes of the public, but God takes the time to make sure His vessels are properly prepared to go forth and hold all the potential and purposes He has for them.

The children of Israel might have been concerned as to why certain enemies were left in the neighboring surroundings.  By them, God was testing His people.  By them, God was teaching those to war who had never known war before.  God was causing faith muscles to be exercised.  He was training hearts to not focus on what they see in the enemy but on what they know about their God.

“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).  There is no struggle or contention that does not come without a purpose.  Though it may not be pleasant it is plentifully seasoning your walk with the Lord.  Like the children of Israel, it is teaching your hands to war.

One can never be a good soldier without ever facing contentions.  One can never learn to fight unless they have been made to fight.  One can never learn to pray in earnest if they never had that petition that would draw them to the knee with fervency.  And one could never learn to seek and lean on Him if their heart were never stirred to do so through the challenges faced.

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” (1 Peter 1:6-7).  It may not always feel like it, and it may not always feel good, but there is purpose in the hardships we face, especially when it comes to our faith which is found more praiseworthy in the eyes of Christ than gold that will perish.

Sometimes we may not understand everything and we may ask, “Why?”  But as we journey, may our eyes never leave Him who promised and is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).  Take heart, dear friend.  Through it all, at the end of our Christian race, we may look back and see the fruit those hard times produced, and we may see the purpose in the struggles.

“But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10).

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28).

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