“Hunger!”

Text Free Photo: Pixabay/Dan_Park

A rumbling in the tummy would be easy to satisfy for some.  But, what of the hunger for something greater?

All hungering is not bad.  All hunger show there is a lack somewhere that needs to be filled.  All hunger says I have something in me that needs to be satisfied.

For that, I say, hunger on!  For only when one is truly starving for more than what they currently posses do they allow that gnawing desire to push them to find a source of fulfillment.

Who doesn’t want a life characterized by fulfillment?  Who doesn’t want to feel completely satisfied?  Especially when it comes to our spiritual walk; a walk that says, in everything I have Lord, if You’re not in it, then I am empty.  My life is nothing.

If the hunger is for more of the glitter and gold of this life then it is truly to be better without.  For that hunger can drive you to places and things that will leave your soul starving.  But, my friends, if it is more of Him that’s your desire, come, partake, and be satisfied for “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled,” (Matthew 5:6).

Let your desire drive you toward God.  Let Him be the only quencher of your longing for everything.

Run!  Grab Him that is the bread of life, and eat.  Take your fill and don’t stop till you look at Him through the eyes of eternity, and say, now soul, you are full.  For you have taken of Him fully and fully you shall live forevermore.

Father God, fill us up with more of You.  Let everything that You are, be the satisfaction that everything in us is looking for.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen! 

Advertisements

“Dealing with Contentions in the Midst of Blessings”

Photo: Pixabay/ThePixelman

“And Abimelech said unto Issac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we,” Genesis 26:16

Oh, how wonderful we feel when God opens the windows of heaven and pours out blessings into our lives, Micah 3:10. It feels good! And, it doesn’t matter if the blessing is material, physical, spiritual or emotional, if there is something that God wants to do that is special for us, we take joy in receiving from the goodness of our heavenly Father.

One of my favorite verses that keeps me in check and reminds me of just how awesome He is in this area is Matthew 7:9-11. In the verses before these Jesus is teaching His disciples a few of life’s lessons. He just assured them of the “ask, seek, and knock” principle of prayer. Then, to make sure they understood how much the heavenly Father cares He further explains, “Or what man of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

God knows how to give good gifts! The problem with that is everybody is not going to like you for it. Everyone is not going to be on your side. There will be one, if not more, that will be standing in the corner, grimacing every time God decides to shower you with some of His goodness. It’s sad but true!

Human nature can get almost primal in this area. If you throw a bone to a pack of hungry dogs, what will happen? Only one dog will actually catch the bone, but the others will be on a continual mission to take it from him because they want it for themselves. They’re hungry for it. They want to be fed, too. It’s not fair that the one got the blessing and the rest didn’t. And so, another dog will try to latch onto it to yank and pull it away from the original owner. Another also steps in and tries to get it from the previous two. And on, and on it goes. Until one is successful to lie hold of it and run to safety.

I’ve seen this play out with seagulls also. You throw a piece of bread out for one and suddenly there are what seem to be a hundred gulls thinking they can all survive off of that one piece. They swoop down to grab the bread and try to fly away with the prize, only another has his eye on it and does the same. It becomes a never-ending circle of desire and wants that moves to the contentions of, “If I can’t have it, neither can you.” Swoop! It’s mine!

The same scenario played out for Isaac. God was keeping His promise that He made to Abraham and his son was reaping the rewards of it. God had truly blessed Isaac. “Then Isaac sowed in the land and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him. And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants…” (Genesis 26:12-14).

He was blessed! But, the remainder of verse 14 clearly states that not everyone was happy about it. It says, “And the Philistines envied him.” They then put into motion a plan to try to hold down his blessings. “For all the wells which his father’s servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth,” (Genesis 26:15). As they stopped up the wells their hope was to stop the blessings.

Afterwards, the king of the Philistines, Abimelech, just out and out told him, “We don’t want you here anymore – get out!” If they can’t stop the blessings then they don’t want to be around you while God is blessing. Why? Because it hurts to see some receive and some don’t. Humanity doesn’t like it like that, unless, of course, they are the ones on the receiving end of it.

It’s a hard pill to swallow. I’ve been on both sides of this fence: the side of being blessed and the side of watching others get blessed. Oftentimes, I didn’t always understand, but that’s just the way it was. Like it or not, I have to believe in God’s sovereignty over it all. Did it always register right away? Um, no. For I am human also and don’t always see things as God does. (If I’m going to write about it, I have to be totally honest about it.)

So, it shouldn’t surprise us that as God moves on our behalf to elevate us and bless us, that contentions can arise. What do we do then? First and foremost, is to trust God. After being kicked out, Isaac went from one well to another, there was always a fight with someone about it. Isaac could’ve gotten ticked off, but he kept trying to find where God was leading. Just because you are blessed by God doesn’t mean you can settle anywhere. You have to be where God wants you in order to continue to grow in Him. That requires trust.

Eventually, Genesis 26:22 tells us, “And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not…  For now the LORD hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.” If one keeps following the leading of God, God, in turn, will put you in a place where the gifts and blessings He has given you will thrive. You are not going to just flourish anywhere. You have to be where He can ensure your growth.

If that weren’t enough, God made those that hated Isaac to be at peace with him. “We saw certainly that the LORD was with thee… let us make a covenant with thee,” (Genesis 26:28). They came to him. They sought him out to seek reconciliation. How did it all end? Very good, I might say. “And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink. And they rose up betimes in the morning, and sware one to another: and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace,” (Genesis 26:30-31). All grudges and animosity were gone and peace entered in.

The Bible says, “the same day, that Isaac’s servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had digged, and said unto him, We have found water,” (Genesis 26:32). This was refreshment for the body and soul after dealing with such contentions. I think that means he was finally where God wanted him to be, in mind, body and spirit. The water didn’t come until the covenant for peace was made.

When God blesses there will sometimes be contentions to deal with from others. But, we too, have a responsibility in the midst to try to go as God leads us and to still keep the peace.

“Getting to the Other Side with Jesus!”

Photo: Pixabay

Getting to the other side, isn’t that what we all want to do?  All we want to do is be opposite of where we are now.  Standing on the edge of one shore with a whole mess of stormy ocean in between, all our hearts yearn to do is get through this mess safely and plant our feet on the shore of peace that stands waiting to receive us after navigating the tumultuous oceans in between.

But, it’s that whole mess of raging ocean in between that’s the problem.  Sometimes life is hard.  Sometimes the waves are so high and terrible, the view of the shore is obscured.  Sometimes they crash so violently that I can’t help cry out with the disciples, “Lord, save us!” (Matthew 8:25).  The situation is hard and we are desperate and screaming for deliverance!

The Lord hears, and He questions them, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew 8:26).  For the disciples, Jesus wanted to know, “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25).

Let’s face it, like the disciples, sometimes it’s hard to see past what is before you right now.  With fearsome events swirling around, and disaster seemingly imminent, “seeing” a positive end to this rise is very difficult.  But, God never asked us to see the better end.  He asks us to hold on, in faith, and trust that He will get us to the other side.

Four times we are told in His word, “The just shall live by faith,” (Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38).  And, in 2 Corinthians we are told, “We walk by faith, not by sight,” (5:7).  Yet, no matter how much we hear or read these encouraging words from Scripture, when it comes our time to be in the boat tossed about on the raging seas, many are ready to abandon ship because they just can’t see the way to the other side.  But, abandoning ship doesn’t get you to the other side.  It only leaves you treading water in the middle of the waves.

I don’t scoff at the disciples for waking Jesus, because if you don’t know how to get through the storm safely, and if you are having trouble navigating the ferocious winds in your life, it’s best to lean on Jesus in the middle of the storm.  It’s best to speak to the one who cannot only see you safely to the other side but quiet the mess in between (Matthew 8:26).  If your goal is the other side, Jesus is your way.  Trust that if you are riding with Him, you will arrive safely on that shore of peace because Jesus never fails.

“He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.”  – Psalm 107:29

“Pray, and let God worry.” – Martin Luther

The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.” – Psalm 34:17

““When you can’t see God’s hand, trust His heart.”  – Emily Freeman

“The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.” – Nahum 1:7

 

“Grateful to be Undeserving!”

When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,” Mark 2:17

Have you ever been looked down on? Felt as if you didn’t measure up to the standards of another? Do you have short-comings staring you in the face?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you are not alone. Our society has a way of stoking the fires of perfectionism; of making one feel that if they are not in the status quo then they are defected. Predominance is the attitude here in the west where the drive for success will cause one to feel as if they have been run over because they are not moving as fast as everyone else.

At the same time, our society has produced a group of over-inflated egos that really believe they have it all together. This group is dependent on no one because their fascination with themselves has misled them to believe they are complete; they are at the peak of perfection and everyone else should strive to be like them. These groups define their success by some outward measuring post, but on the inside are lacking more than they will ever know.

In Mark 2, Jesus found Himself wedged between these two groups of people. On the one hand, He was in the house of Levi, the tax collector (whom we know as Matthew), there He was eating dinner with “publicans and sinners,” (vs. 15). On the other side of the spectrum comes the self-righteous “scribes and Pharisees,” (vs. 16) to challenge His choice of company.

The sinners knew who they were. They were the rejected. They were the ones people laughed at and talked about. They knew what a mess they were and yet, they were grateful. How could this man Jesus want to be seen talking with them, let alone eating with them? He was holy, and still, He saw beyond all their imperfections to care enough to spend time with them; to draw them nearer to Him through His love, care and genuine concern.

The scribes and the Pharisees saw no such need for a man like Him. As far as they were concerned everybody should be striving to be like them; the holy elite, the cream of the crop. Others should gaze upon their own “righteousness” and desire to mimic it. No wonder the Lord often called them hypocrites and some other stuff, (Mt. 23:13-15). Their own self-righteous attitude about the realness of their lost state kept them from receiving what this Physician had to offer – Salvation!

But, to him who recognizes that “without Me you can do nothing,” (John 15:5), Jesus says I can do something with him. To him who knows the reality of his undeserving state, Jesus looks on that humility of heart with compassion and seeks to bring healing to that soul. There is something most precious in the moment when one can look up from all their failures and disappointments to see a Savior standing there, arms opened wide, ready to take it all away. That undeserving soul becomes eternally grateful because they know who they are, and they know who He is, and they also know that He didn’t have to do it; He didn’t have to save them.

Just as with the “publicans and sinners” we know that we don’t deserve to be in the company of Jesus. But, He chose to be there with you and me. He took Himself away from the elite to spend time with those who needed Him the most. It was His choice to love us, to draw near to us, and to eventually die for us so that He could free us. He left His home in heaven to become “God with us,” (Mt. 1:23); with the undeserving. Unlike the “scribes and Pharisees,” I recognize my need for Him and I am ever so grateful.  I can truly sing:

“I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior!
I come to Thee.”

(I Need Thee Every Hour/Annie Sherwood Hawks – Hymnal.net)

Photo: Pixabay/josealbafotos

“Love Lifted Me!”

“I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more,
But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.

Love lifted me!
Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help,
Love lifted me!” – James Rowe

“God is in Control. It’s all about Him!”

“Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I,” Isaiah 52:6, KJV

The taunting of the enemy was too much to bear at times.  Captivity kept them bound and ridicule and defeat kept them shackled in despair.  God’s people have suffered under bondage due to their own spiritual neglect, but God in His grace and mercy, showed them a compassionate heart and sought for their redemption.  He was going to bring them back.  All hope was not lost, He will redeem.

Reading this, I know there are times when we seemed locked in my life.  If things are going okay and we are dwelling in peace, well then, that’s okay, lock me in!  But when we feel defeated by burdens and enemies, it’s hard to believe deliverance is on the horizon.

In Isaiah 52:6 God displayed His personal investment in His people’s redemption.  When He brought them out there was going to be no doubt in their mind that He is the one that fought for them, loved then and redeemed them.

Doubt is the enemy of our faith.  We often try to walk by faith and not by sight but end up walking by sight and not by faith even though it is the very things we see that make us question.  How is this going to turn out?  Will I ever see the light of day?  Doubt is a killer of dreams.  Doubt already erases the possibility of something better because it doesn’t see it.  Doubt is a robber of paradise and a hinderer of what can be.

But God is looking to change the focus of His people from their circumstances to their God.  Four times He refers to Himself in this verse as the One who orchestrates and fulfills all for them.  “My people . . . My name . . . I am He . . . It is I,” and He wants His people to know it.

  • My people:  “Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture,” (Ps. 100:3, KJV).  A shepherd’s job is to care for, lead and guide, and supply for the sheep.  Isn’t it wonderful that despite their disobedience God was not ready to relinquish ownership of His own?  Israel may have gotten themselves into captivity but they were still His people and because of that God was still willing to take a leading role in their care and in ours.  Being identified as God’s people is a special privilege but it only comes to those who are under a covenant with God.  Galatians 3:29 says, “And if ye be Christ’s, then ye are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise,” (KJV).  Abraham was under a covenant with God (Gen. 15:18-21).  Those that come under Christ now receive the same benefits as His “people,” (see also Rom. 8:17; 1 Cor. 3:23).  You are God’s people, therefore, He wants you to know that He wants to take care of you and love you as His own!
  • My name:  “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into, and is safe,” (Pr. 18:10, KJV).  There’s something about applying God’s name to deliverance.  When someone puts their name on something it signifies ownership.  People also sign their names to documents to state that they will perform a deed stated therein.  His people shall “know my name.”  His name will be glorified and remembered for their deliverance.  He signed it and He declared it!
  • I am He that doth speak:  God is the author of all.  In the beginning “I am He” spoke things into existence and it obeyed.  That which He called forth manifested itself into reality.  It went from a holy thought to a physical appearance because “I am He” spoke.  When God speaks people better pay attention.  Especially when He is speaking of your deliverance, as He was with His people.  “For I am the LORD: I will speak, and the word that I speak shall come to pass …,” (Ezekiel 12:25, KJV).  His word is infallible and “I am He’s” word will be fulfilled in your life and you better know it!
  • It is I:  This takes me back to the time when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush and commanded Moses to go to Egypt.  Moses asked, “What shall I say unto them?” (Ex. 3:13, KJV).  God’s response, “I AM THAT I AM . . . I AM hath sent me unto you,” (Ex. 3:14, KJV).  When one is waiting on deliverance they have to realize it’s all about God!  His mark of sovereignty is over His whole plan.  God referred to Himself as the total of all they needed to know!

Difficult times are never pleasant but when we know who it is that is on our side, we have nothing to fear in waiting for our deliverance.  “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31, KJV).  Isaiah 52:6 claims He is there with you; He’s the one fighting for you; He’s the one planning your deliverance; He’s the one speaking it over your life; He’s the one that owns all of this and will redeem His people out of it.  It’s all about Him!  In the midst of it all, He’s got you covered!  It’s all about Him, in the midst of it all, He will be glorified!  It’s all about Him and God is in control!

“Stand Your Ground!”

Stand your ground, be firm,
don’t settle or rest.
Wear your resolve as an emblem
mounted on your chest.

You know who you are.
You know Who knows you.
And, you know in your heart
you have nothing to prove.

Don’t let their words sway
how you feel about self.
Don’t let their thoughts control –
For time will tell.

Your character, your work,
will speak for your stand.
Believe in who He made you,
perfectly planned.

Opinions of others,
their views of you,
pale in comparison
to Creator of skies so blue.

Let them judge and baulk,
throw verbal stones at you.
You are committed in faith
and God will see you through.

So, stand in your beauty
from the inside out.
Rest your heart in God’s thoughts,
under your feet, place their doubts.

“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;).”  Hebrews 10:22-23

 

“When You Feel There Aren’t Enough Hours in a Day!”

Photo: Pixabay/fancycrave1

Every day we are given is precious.  Every moment, a treasure from heaven.  God perfectly crafted our days in these 24 hours that cycle in and through our lives.  He fashioned each one precisely as a gift to get things done and rest and enjoy life as well.

With that being said, I must wonder why time seems so elusive to most of us?  Why aren’t we able to craftily work each section of the day for our good and still enjoy other pleasures of life that God endowed us with, things that bring the fulfillment of personal joy and happiness (ex. more family time, rest, and so on) that’s supposed to come with it?  Why do we bemoan the idea that there are just not enough hours in the day when God perfectly gave us all we need?

The problem is not with the design of days.  Nor will the problem be solved with adding more increments of time to the day.  The problem is us and how we prioritize and manage this gift of time that God has already given us.

In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul wrote that we are to redeem the time because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16).  Every day opportunities abound to spend the hours of our lives in one way or the other.  The choice is always ours on how we use it.  Let’s look at it this way, if we have been given a bunch of money to spend, hopefully, we would sit down and think carefully about how to get the most use out of it.  That same diligence should be applied to our management of time.

The hugest difference between money and time is this: for many, there are usually ways to replenish or re-earn funds to add to one’s finances if money is spent in a reckless fashion.  However, for time, that opportunity is not there.  Once time is gone – it’s gone!  Once the moment passes – it passes off the scene as a part of our personal history.  Therefore, we are encouraged to make the most of every second given.  And, although God’s grace, mercy, and faithfulness are new every morning – we are not promised the dawning of a new day.

So, whether it’s mundane, it’s a moment we won’t get back.  Treat it as the treasure it is.  If it seems trivial, remember in the scope of all the days given, it’s a time to be honored.  Even if it seems like the most basic of all days, keep in mind there is nothing basic about the gift of waking up again and be given the chance to make the most of the time you have been gifted with.

When you feel there aren’t enough hours in the day – treasure what you have and be determined to make the most out of what God did give you.  For when we do, we can make a better impact for His kingdom and in the lives of those entrusted to our care.  Because no matter how smart our watches become it will always be up to us to make smart use of our time that registers there.

Inspiring Your Time:

“This is the beginning of a new day.  God has given me this day to use it as I will.  I can waste it – or use it for good, but what I do today is important, because I am exchanging a day of my life for it.” – W. Heartstill Wilson

“Time is your most precious gift, because you only have a set amount of it.” – Rick Warren

Pray: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12

Pray: “LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.” – Psalm 39:4

“We must recognize how the evil one is working in this world and take a firm stance against him.  It means we take careful thought concerning what we put in our minds – what we listen to, what we watch, and how we use our time.” – Chip Ingram

“Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.” – Colossians 4:5

“Love Without Hypocrisy!”

Jesus loved us with a sincere love.  Everything He did, right down to dying on the cross as a substitute for our wrongs, was motivated by love, real love.

Paul commanded, “Let love be without hypocrisy,” (Rom. 12:9; NKJV).  The church was to model Christ in the way that they loved people.  They are to have the purest and most sincere love that would compel people to want to know more about Christ.  They are to be pillars of love that the lost, broken and hurt can lean on and find strength.

One thing people can readily pick up on is fakeness.  Those that come to us and come to our buildings are looking for something real.  They have had enough of the phony stuff.  They have dealt with the pretenders of the world and they are not looking for that in us.  They are looking for something real.  They are looking for something pure.  They are looking for somebody to look at them as Christ would and feel nothing but love and compassion for them.

How many times has the Bible described Jesus as being “moved with compassion?”  That’s what sincere love does; it moves the heart.  It allows one to look beyond what they see to have genuine concern for others.  This is what people are looking for.  This is what the church should be displaying.  The love of Christ is our greatest asset in drawing people to salvation.  After all, wasn’t it God who told Jeremiah, “With lovingkindness have I drawn thee,” (Jer. 31:3; KJV)?

Real love draws people.  Fake love pushes them away.  If we truly want to be like Christ then love on people sincerely.  Don’t give them what the world is already giving them; fake love.  Give them something genuine.  Give them something real.  Give them something that will bring them closer to God.  Give them real love!

Photo: Pixabay/pixel2013

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.

Photo Source: Pixabay