“Getting a Closer Look”

 

Photo by Roberto Delgado Webb on Unsplash

Once, I was traveling out of town and the hotel we were staying in had one of those beauty magnifying mirrors that swing out on an arm.  You know the ones I’m talking about.  They get up close and really personal in your face.  What you thought you looked like in a normal mirror became something totally different in this magnifying truth teller.

I often avoid those mirrors because there’s only so much truth about my face I want to see.  But, looking into these things a whole world of pores and things that seem to come out of nowhere all of sudden can’t be ignored.  The eyebrows need more manicuring than once thought.  Things need to be plucked, covered, or taken care of to present this face to the world before I left out that day.

As I said, I always avoided these mirrors but I must admit when I stepped back to see the final results I was more than pleased and fully intend on having one installed in my bathroom at home.

How often are we afraid to take a closer look at ourselves?  Not our face per se but at things like the inner man, our life, and our relationship with God.  Are we too afraid of what we’ll find when we look too closely?  Do we not want things revealed to us that may have gone by without a closer inspection?

God wants the best for His people but sometimes the best means we have some stuff that needs to be plucked and dealt with first.  We have to seek the beautifying of His Spirit in order to step back and see the glorious final results He has for us up ahead.

“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. . .” 2 Corinthians 13:5

 

“God can do EVERYTHING!”

With a prayerful heart, I know that GOD CAN DO EVERYTHING!

So go ahead and pray for the brokenness you may see in someone’s life.  Pray for healing and restoration to take over others.  Pray for chains to break off of others.  Pray for sicknesses to be cured, pain to be covered and for peace to enter in for some.

Be built up in your faith and assure your heart that “GOD CAN DO EVERYTHING!”  Job declared it when he said, “I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee,” (Job 42:2).

Everything we pray for, I know that God can do it.  He can fix the broken and heal the sick.  He can bring deliverance to those bound in chains and restore the shatter pieces of others lives.  GOD CAN DO IT!

No matter what you are facing today believe that GOD CAN DO EVERYTHING!  Whatever it is, give it to Him and believe!  He is our Good Father.  Jesus says, “Or what man is there 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?” (Matthew 7:9-11).  Be it spiritual, such as the Holy Ghost (Luke 11:11-12), or any other matter, we are encouraged to bring it to Him in prayer and cast it there (1 Peter 5:7).  Nobody can do it like HIM!

“Jesus Loves You To The End!”

“Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end,” John 13:1

Eventually, the love of friends fades.  As years go by we grow up and move on with our lives.  Even some familial relationships can wane with the passing of time.  But, there is one love that never quits on you.  His promise was to never leave you nor forsake you, Heb. 13:5.  He showed His devotion to His disciple right up to the end.  And daily, He shows His devotion to each and every one of us by continually being there for us, loving us, interceding for us and hearing us when we call.

I am personally amazed at His undying devotion to us.  Through all of our faults, shortcomings, and mess, He still stays committed to us even “to the end.”  This is a source of comfort and reassurance for them that are His.  Despite the tragedies of life or how much we feel like we are not measuring up, we have a Savior, nay a friend that sticks closer than a brother, Pro. 18:24.

The times and tides of life may ebb and flow, come and go, but Jesus is a solid source never to be moved.  Somebody said, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over!”  And, since we are here today alive and with breath in our bodies, guess what, it’s not the end.  Bolster your faith today in this great truth that no matter what it may look like right now, Jesus loves you to the end!  God bless you!

“There is power in prayer!”

Photo: Pixabay/jaefrench

“Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.” Acts 12:5 (read Acts 12:1-11)

Martin Luther is quoted as saying, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Why is that? Because as breath is with the body, with each inhale and exhale one’s life is sustained; so is the prayer line that fosters that interpersonal relationship between God and man. It is not only life-sustaining, but it’s soul-sustaining keeping that glorious love connection betwixt the two opened and flowing.

Prayer is and of itself a discipline where one places themselves at the feet of the Almighty; to draw near to Him; to get to know Him more. Yet, prayer is often as well a plea of desperation when the times and trials of this life are too hard to bear. When we are at the end of our rope; or, when we just don’t understand what is happening or the road we should take – we pray.

We pray because deep within ourselves we know that try as we might, we can find no better help. Nor, is there any higher intervention than that which comes from God. Therefore, through prayer, we seek the release of His help and power into our problems, our lives, and the lives of those whom we intercede for.

Prayer is, and becomes, that connective key where God and man meet to converse on an intimate level, recognizing His greatness and sovereignty in the midst of our humanness and weaknesses.

And, this is what the church was hoping for when they offered up prayers on behalf of Peter who was now in prison. By this time persecution was not a new thing to the church. Throughout the Book of Acts, there are uprisings against the faith. The idea of the church enduring hardship was not going away anytime soon.

As a matter of fact, James, one of Jesus’s original disciples, was killed in the process by the sword (beheading, some say). Then, seeking, even more, favor among men, Herod proceeded further in attacking the church and imprisoning Peter also.

The Bible tells us, “Prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him,” (Acts 12:5). This is the epitome of what it means when the Psalmist declared, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD. . .” (Psalm 121:1-2a).

Pain and suffering were taking place in the church but hope was not lost because their hope was not in the circumstances that surrounded them – their hope was in God who reigned above them.

Therefore, they prayed!

Don’t tell me prayer doesn’t matter; that it doesn’t make a difference. Yes, it does! God will literally make chains fall off and set captives free through the power of prayer (as He does for Peter here).

Unbeknownst to Peter, God heard their prayers and He was working on his case. Peter, shackled and asleep between two soldiers, was about to experience a miraculous breakthrough of a lifetime. He may have been appointed to be kept under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each; but, Peter had just one God that would step in and free him from their midst.

See, it doesn’t matter how bad they have you wrapped up, God can break through it all. It doesn’t matter how many chains and shackles the enemy will try to place on you, prayer to the right Source; to God alone, will free you from their hold.

Peter was getting an up close and personal lesson in this area. God sent an angel to come to Peter in the night. With light filling the prison house the angel stood before Peter and aroused him from his sleep by hitting him on his side.  He spoke, “Arise up quickly,” (Acts 12:7). And, immediately his chains fell off.

Through the initial intervention of prayer, God was literally breaking chains off of Peter to set him free! You have to get happy about that and feel it in your spirit what God wants to do for His people. God will move and instruct His heavenly hosts to work on your behalf as He did for Peter through the power of prayer.  Never underestimate the power of God. He can do “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,” (Ephesians 3:20).

The church was praying corporately and God was listening attentively, and He was working it out. When the shackles fell from his hands, the angel then instructed Peter to get himself together and put his shoes on and to follow him (Acts 12:8).

Acts 12:10 tells us, “When they were past the first, and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.” Amazing!  You have to admire the beauty of it all coming together. God not only freed him, but took him past one enemy, and then another enemy. He took him through the prison and out the huge iron gate unknown to anyone. This blew my mind. None of the enemies had a clue to what God was up to in freeing Peter. I don’t know if they were all in a heavy sleep or not, but God did it. He freed Peter.

Peter’s freedom was spawned through the prayers of the church. Yes, God could most certainly move without the intervention of anyone. But, here in these verses, a special note was made to stand out that when they prayed; when they got together collectively and on one accord to seek for Peter’s freedom, that’s when the miracle happened. God wants us to know the importance and the power of prayer. He said, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me,” (Psalms 50:15).

Prayer was a huge key at work in the moving and miracles of the first-century church and it should be a huge key at work in our current lives and ministries as well. Paul later teaches, “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting,” (1 Timothy 2:8). There is never a wrong time or place to pray. And, when you pray – BELIEVE! Believe that He hears, and believe that He will answer as He sees fit.

Your prayers DO make a difference. There is power in prayer! “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there 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?” (Matthew 7:7-11).

God made the impossible happen for Peter and He can do so in the church today. People can be freed. Chains can be broken. Ministries can flourish through the power of prayer. Prayer never hurts anyone, but it can always help everyone.  We are told, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit,” (James 5:16-18).

What can you do through your prayer life?

Trust and believe that your prayers are never wasted; that there is power in prayer. Prayer can reach where physically we cannot. Prayer can go behind the veil into the throne room of God. Think about that for a second and let it sink in. Didn’t the book of Hebrews tell us, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)? This is done through prayer.

We are not alone in this life. Our way of viewing things and situations can become impaired in our day to day struggles. We may feel like we don’t have power to do anything; as if we are in the dark, but prayer offers a light of hope.

Whether falling on our knees or reverently and silently offering up with heart pleas and thanksgivings to God, your prayers matter.

We serve a God who wants to hear from us and invites us to pray.  We will never know all the ins and outs of why God answers some prayers immediately, and why with some He chooses a different course. But, I do know this; prayer is never wasted, nor is it a waste of time. God hears each and every petition. He’s paying attention to the cause of His people. Don’t be discouraged if it seems like it’s not coming through for you like you want it to. God may have a greater course of destination in mind. Just hold on, keep the faith, and never stop praying. There is power in prayer!

 

The Sweet Wonder of the great, “I AM.”

 

Photo: Pixabay/silviarita

There is so much that goes on inside of us, outside of us, and around us, that can literally make our heads spin.  There are so many if’s, and’s, and but’s that we deal with daily making us feel deflated, depleted, and downright drained.  Sometimes, it just seems that things are out of control and we can’t get a handled on anything and we have mastered or accomplished nothing.

But, I take comfort in the words God spoke from the midst of the burning bush to Moses, His prophet.  He said, “I AM THAT I AM,” (Exodus 3:14) and I am drawn into a world of sweet wonder at the love my God has for us.

The human heart can get so muddled and become so bogged down to the point that it can’t even express properly how it feels or what it wants to say.  But, the great “I AM” doesn’t need our proper articulation of words to understand our deepest needs on the inside.  In His beautiful care for us, He needs only to take a peek behind the scenes on the inside of our being to see what cares we bear.

He is our perfect heart inspector.  When you feel like you can’t get it out – seek Him out because He already knows, in His loving sovereignty, how to deal beautifully with you.

God can be absolutely anything we need Him to be.  But, God already is the great “I AM.”  Those two words with only three letters cover us, lives inside of us through His Spirit, and helps us in our most desperate need.

Photo: Pixabay/amayaeguizabal 

So, if it’s tears that’s on the menu of your heart today, that come without explanation, the great “I AM”  is the perfect set of shoulders to unload the heaviness of it all.  If life just seems overwhelming at times.  The great “I AM” is, well, greater than anything, any plan, or any thoughts against you.  Whatever may seem to overpower us will never take over Him.  He will always be in control.  During every waking moment or any sleeping night, the great “I AM”  will always be standing watch, guarding, and keeping us at those times when we can’t keep ourselves.

Photo: Pixabay/StockSnap 

I smile when I think of the wonder of it all – the sweet wonder of Him.  He really is the lifter of heart, mind, body, and soul.  He is beyond anything we need Him to be.  God, is simply, the great “I AM.”  With a period on the end of it, it closes the case on exactly who He is.

 

“Decorated in Glory”

Photo by Ariel Besagar on Unsplash

Being called to the front of the assembly to receive awards of excellence was one of my greatest joys in my private elementary school.  One year I excelled in every category, so instead of receiving multiple name calls of recognition – I was given one all-encompassing award.  I remember not liking it one bit.  An over-all award meant specifics were not being named in front of my peers and others, and I didn’t have the pleasure of playing the role of jack-in-the-box in my seat with my constant popping up and down to receive individual accomplishments.

As we get older in life we realize every achievement does not need to come with applause or recognition (at least, not here on earth anyway).  But, in heaven, your works are going to be rewarded.  You and I are going to be decorated in glory.  These rags of humanity will be replaced with robes of righteousness.  As a soldier being medaled for victories, we shall be adorned and dressed in the finest of the heavenlies, telling our story of overcoming.  We made it through and now He speaks, “My reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be,” Revelation 22:12.

Take heart.  What you do today may escape the notice of man but the eye of the Lord sees it all.  And, when we get to that heavenly city we will have all the recognition we will ever need.  For it is there we receive the greatest thing no earthly prize can give: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord,” Matthew 25:21, 23.

And, that’s all the glory one needs to be decorated with.

“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.

“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! 

“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