“Sitting Around Won’t Win the Battle!”

Photo: Pixabay/raincarnation40

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wrong!

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

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

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

GULP!

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

Yeah!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Text Free Photo Source: Pixabay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“When they speak against your possibilities . . .”

Numbers 13:26-33

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Nevertheless!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Therefore, stop listening when they speak against your possibilities.

“The One Another Concept”

Despite the suggestion of this present age, we are not in this world for ourselves alone.  Our paths cross times, destinies, and people for a purpose.  Our lives are meant to connect as building blocks upon the foundation of our Lord Jesus Christ to help bring about change in the world of individuals we meet and pray for and love with the heart of Christ.

There is a “one another concept” that is richly expressed in God’s Word time and again.  One verse tells us, “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do,” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).  Another verse says, “…by love serve one another,” (Galatians 5:13).  And yet, another still says, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” (Galatians 6:2).

When we are thinking along the lines of ministering to people, it will only happen when we consider one another.  It only happens when we step out of self for a moment, take our eyes off us, and see what another may be going through, and taking the time to step into their world for a minute to edify, serve, or help that one to bear something they need help with at the moment.

Serving people is reaching into their world where their need is pleading for help.  Sometimes that need is physical for things such as food or warmth, but at other times it’s a hug or a buddy saying, “I’m with you through this.”  All of it is driven by concern about what someone else is going through.  It’s not sitting in the seat of judgment over circumstance but it’s viewing them with the same compassionate eyes that caused Jesus to care about people the way He did.

This kind of compassion toward others causes movement.  One can’t see the struggle and not want to help with the need.  It’s recognizing, Lord, I may not be able to help everybody in everything, but for this need, I can stretch out my hand, my heart, and my time to care about another soul.

From the time of the creation of humanity, the “one another concept” has been in play.  God designed another being in the form of Eve to help compliment Adam so that he wouldn’t have to do life alone (see Genesis 2:18-22).

They were designed for relationship that offers support physically, emotionally, and spiritually to one another.  This idea can most certainly be applied to relationships with our friends, people on our jobs or we come across during the day, acquaintances and so on.  It’s hands and hearts of love designed for the betterment of humankind to meet the needs of one another wherever they are.

The “one another concept” isn’t just a good idea.  It’s a life choice that raises awareness of simply being there for people when people need you the most.  In other words, put people on your radar and become alert to any distress signals or troubles that might be registering for attention.  Some people may not know how to ask for help or feel completely uncomfortable with the idea, but in our awareness, when we notice those signals and answer the call, we can make a positive difference in that life that may have felt like it was going under all alone.

After all, if it hasn’t happened already, and even if it did, there may still come a time when we need that same support system that compels another to be willing to put us and our needs ahead of their personal feelings, advancement, and/or pleasure.

We don’t have to fit in with the self-serving nature of our modern culture.  Especially, if we remember that Christ deliberately put all our needs ahead of His own when He went to the cross in our place.  Love is what turned his attention off Himself and onto us.  What more can we do but make the same effort to reach another with the same love and help that was so freely given to us?

Is there another that needs you today?  Watch those you come into contact with during the day.  Are there ways you can brighten someone’s day?  Can you offer water or bread, in Jesus’ name, to one who has a need to be filled?  Can someone else use a word of hope and encouragement that guides them to see more than what they are facing now?  Can another just have your listening ear and understanding so they can unload a great weight they have been carrying much too long?

Touching needs where they are is only made possible when we get involved in the “one another concept”; when we allow God to use us, and our big or small offerings of help, to plant seeds of love in the life of one who may really need it today.  Together, we can do this!

“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” Ephesians 5:1-2, NKJV

“You, my friend, are the soil to His good gift and it must grow.”

 

Photo: Pixabay/Pexels

Here’s the thing, I had nothing to write about.  No particular topic jumped out at me or piqued my interest.  All I know is I had nothing to say, but the urge in me to write wouldn’t let go.  I wanted to write something…

With the dawning of that thought I realized when God puts a gift, a seed of talent in you, whether you feel particularly inspired or not, the gift in you demands to be heard, noticed, and shared with the world.

It’s just like that.  In each of us there dwell the possibilities that He knows you can do something with it.  This is God we are talking about.  He knows our downsitting and our uprising.  He knows our thoughts afar off (Psalm 139:2), and He most definitely knows what dwells in your innermost being because He placed it there.

You, my friend, are the soil to His good gift and it must grow.  It demands it.  It wants to poke its head through the surface that has been keeping it dark and hidden to experience the day with the sun shining on it.  Staying buried, it dies and becomes unprofitable.  Allowed to break through, it becomes more than you ever dreamed it could be.  It flowers.  From that flower comes more seed that will produce more offspring, if you will, of the same gift.

Don’t let moments of the uninspired make you believe you have nothing there.  It’s in you!  Let it grow!  Therefore, I write…

What passion is burning inside from the gift He placed in you?  What will you do with it?  Let it grow and watch the possibilities come to life.

“Neglect not the gift that is in thee…” 1 Timothy 4:14

“… Stir up the gift of God, which is in thee… For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:6-7

 

 

“I Believe God!”

Photo: Pixabay

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.

“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.”

 

“Get Your Hopes Up!”

When discussing your dreams, ambitions,  and life goals there are two types of people you deal with: the pessimist and the optimist.  The pessimists have the habit of speaking negativity into everything that comes across their path.  And, if one is really stepping out on faith and shooting for the moon with a certain determined objective in mind, one that doesn’t fit into the ordinary way one may think, it usually eggs this negative-Nelly on to speak even more of all the things that could go wrong.

Whereas, the optimist doesn’t see the same barriers the pessimist sees.  The optimists believe that if you want to shoot for the moon, shoot, and don’t stop until you land on it.  For this one there is no such thing as an unattainable goal.  “If you can dream it, you can live it,” is their life motto.

There are a lot of things that many of us want to do in life but setbacks cause some to shrink away from those dreams.  The fighting to press forward before can put a damper on the will to fight again to see desires be fulfilled.

But, in our Christian journey, if we are doing nothing else, we are walking by faith (2 Cor. 5:7).  Everything we believe in and look forward to is based on hope and expectation.  There are a lot of things that we can’t see in this present day, but a glorious future is whispered in our ears by the voice of hope; the voice that never stops believing there is more.  There is greater to come because God has declared it throughout His Word.

While the world tries to dim your light and say, “Don’t get your hopes up;” I say, “Get your hopes up” and get excited about what God wants to do through His people in this new year!  Enter this year with expectations raised higher than ever before!  Don’t shrink back, but stir up the hope within and believe for so much more!  Reach beyond even the positivity of the optimist and declare, “I am a hope-imist!”

Why?

Because…

“I am a child of God who is favored!” (Num. 6:25-26; Ps. 5:12; 30:5; Gal. 3:26)

“I have an enduring hope!” (Ps. 71:14; Pro. 23:18; Isa. 40:31; Mk. 9:23)

“I am special to God!” (Jer. 1:5; Luk. 12:7; 1Pet. 2:9)

“His plans for me are so much greater than I can envision!” (Jud. 6-7; Pro. 9:2; Jer. 29:11)

“I have a reason to believe!” (Gen. 15:6; Ps. 112:7; Joh. 3:16; Mk. 11:24)

“I have a reason to keep pressing on!” (2 Chr. 15:7; Job 17:9; Gal. 6:9-10; Phi. 3:14; Jam. 1:12)

“I have a reason to expect victory in the end!” (Deu. 20:4; Joh. 16:33; Rom. 8:37; Phi. 4:13; 1 Joh. 5:4)

“I am in the plan of God!” (Ps. 138:8; Mat. 6:25-34; Eph. 2:10; Phi. 1:6)

…Therefore, I will get my hopes up!  I will believe the best for this new year ahead!

Scripture Prayers:

“Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.” Psalm 33:22

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” Romans 15:13

“Return to Me”

“Return UNTO ME… THEN SHALT THOU NOT REMOVE.” Jeremiah 4:1

There is something to be said about being in the safety of the arms of the one you love. It’s a hold that fiercely embraces you, daring one to step between. In it, you not only find love but you feel the truth of all this person’s emotions toward you. You are secured. You are established. Nothing can tear you away from the warmth and protection you feel at this moment.

And yet, as most movies and books go, there comes the drama. In the drama comes the reason for departure. The part of the story that makes you wonder, “Will they ever be united again? Will they ever really know how one another feels?” It’s a typical storyline, but I must admit I never tire of it.

In those stories, not until the two parties separate do they realize just how much they needed the other. All of a sudden, the love they felt for one another reignites and in a desperate attempt to save the relationship, somehow, someway, they run back to the safety of each other’s arms where they can rebuild upon the love that was once felt.

Can I tell you something? God has never fallen out of love with you! As a matter of fact, He has done everything possible to try to keep you safely in His arms where He can take care of you and love on you. Yet, and still, the drama unfolds that leads the heart of man away to run after their own pursuits. What then of the love that God felt for you? It’s still there!

His love has never left just because we did. His love has never stopped embracing even when we didn’t return the embrace. His love has always been on fire for you and me, even when we tried to extinguish it. His love never quits seeking reconciliation because He wants us with Him!

This was the truth that He was trying to get across through the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah’s job was to relate to the people of Israel God’s undying passion for them. He tried to convince them that the drama of going their own way wasn’t worth it. Life would be so much better if they would stay where love could keep them and care for them. But, unfortunately, as mankind does, they thought they knew what was best. Love was not on their mind at that moment. As most stories play out, they couldn’t see past what they thought they wanted.

Yet, God is still pleading through the mouth of the prophet, “Return to Me.” If this were a movie, after witnessing the passionate plea for one to come back, to stay in my arms forever, there would not be a dry eye in the house. But, this is what God is doing! He is crying out to His people to not turn away, “DON’T GO! COME BACK! PLEASE, COME BACK!”

As the movies go, so did it with Israel. The pleas go unanswered. He has no choice but to let His loved ones go, hoping that one day they will come to their senses and return. To make a long story short, Israel had to be let go for several decades before they would come to truly appreciate the love that God has for them. Don’t let the same be said of us today.

God is still waiting with opened arms. If we have not held on as tightly as we should – return. If some other thing or person has attracted our desires more – return. If we have turned a deaf ear to the pleas of love – return. If we have refused the grace of His embrace – run back and return to those arms of love.

God promises when you wholeheartedly return to Him and put away all that other stuff that is not like Him, “then shalt thou not remove.”   Why? Because now you are safely snuggled where you belong. You are in the place of promise and His promise is this, “But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil,” (2 Thessalonians 3:3). Faithful, established, and guarded – wow! That’s what He does for the one who stays in His arms of love.

God is crying out. Don’t let those cries go unanswered. Return today!

Photo: Pixabay/Free-Photos

“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