Friday, October 31, 2014

October 31 – Live in this expectation

You are from God, little children, and have conquered them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.  (1 John 4:4 NET)

You are a giant if you are from God.  There is no spirit, no trauma, no amount of witchcraft or generational curse that is stronger than you.  Period.  

We often create mountains out of molehills, and our culture of psychoanalysis and self-diagnosis really contributes to this.  When we know that abuse or rejection or some kind of traumatic experience has marred our past, our emotions often get carried away to imagine that we are now damaged goods and need years and years of therapy.  Some people have even become offended when I encourage them to believe they can be healed quickly, as if I am robbing them of their rights to wallow in self-pity a little longer.  

God’s healing and freedom are of a much greater quality than the paltry therapy sessions the world has to offer.  But they come at the simple price of an undiluted faith.  Sadly, many prefer the world’s solutions because they have become addicted to their doubts and fears.

The words of God are so clear and uncomplicated, if we only understand what that meant for us.  If we claim to believe in His Word, then we would live as if it were true.  We would live in a constant state of encouragement and assurance that we have overcome, even when we don’t see it happening at that moment.  We would see miracles and answers to prayer on a regular basis.  We would laugh at the thought of being abandoned or unloved, because we’d have the Spirit of the one who created us inside of us.  We would have the ability to do whatever God asks, because we would be empowered by that Spirit, and we would listen carefully to His urgings and guidance every day.  We wouldn’t miss a single opportunity to be a blessing to Him and to others.  

For those who think that being baptized in the Holy Spirit “isn’t for them,” then, they will never experience this kind of life.  If the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world, but you see that the world is overcoming you – ask yourself what spirit is actually inside of you right now.  The world’s or God’s?  If it’s the world’s, you are in grave danger because you are far from God, and the world can destroy you.  Get rid of that spirit immediately and let His Spirit dwell in you, and then live in the knowledge and expectation that you have already conquered.

By the way, today is Halloween, the highest day for witchcraft, and a big money making venture for retailers.  If you want to conquer the world and have the Spirit of God in you, have nothing to do with it and keep your kids away from those celebrations.  Have a fun costume party for them some other time.  Dedicate this day to honoring God above all else, fight the devil, and live in this radical faith of 1 John 4:4.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

October 30 – Love, quirks, and hang-ups

And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.  (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13  NKJV)

God connects our love for each other with being blameless and holy.  Love sounds like such an easy and comfortable thing to do, and we usually like to imagine that we are all loving and good people.  But loving each other in our churches, with all our differences and insecurities and quirks and hang-ups is not an easy or comfortable thing to do.  In fact, it can be a downright sacrifice.  But this is so that God can establish our hearts as blameless in holiness.

CS Lewis wrote a funny, but very true scenario in Screwtape Letters, describing how a demon ought to encourage a person to view his fellow Christians when he gets to church.  “When he gets to his pew and looks round him he sees just that selection of his neighbours whom he has hitherto avoided. You want to lean pretty heavily on those neightbours. Make his mind flit to and fro between an expression like ‘the body of Christ’ and the actual faces on the next pew. It matters very little, of course, what kind of people that next pew really contains. You may know one of them to be a great warrior on the Enemy’s side. No matter. Your patient, thanks to Our Father Below, is a fool. Provided that any of those neighbors sing out of tune, or have boots that squeak, or double chins, or odd clothes, the patient will quite easily believe that their religion must therefore be somehow ridiculous.”

The devil counts on us to be “fools,” who can’t see beyond each other’s quirks and never learn to love selflessly.  I know for a fact that churches are full of people who truly need good friends of the same faith to encourage and lift them up, but somehow when they have the chance to do so, the devil finds ways to create rifts and suspicions.  That is why the command given by God in the book of Exodus, and then repeated by Jesus in the Gospels to “Love your neighbor as yourself,” is so powerful.  When the people of God are united in one faith and in one goal to fight evil and honor God, they are unstoppable.  When they are divided by petty differences, they remain weak.

Make the sacrifice to love each other, pray for each other, overlook each other’s flaws.  The Bible says that “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).  It may feel awkward, rub you the wrong way at times and perhaps even wound your ego, but it’s good for us all.  It’s a process that God has chosen to purify each one of us as we grow closer to Him and prepare for His coming.  We all want to be loved despite our own flaws, so who are we to withhold love from others who are just as flawed as we are? 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

October 29 – What makes you different?

“A time is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will punish all those who are circumcised in body but not in spirit — the Egyptians, Edomites, Ammonites, Moabites, the people who live in the desert in remote places, and yes, even the people of Judah. And like all these pagan nations, the people of Israel also have uncircumcised hearts.”  (Jeremiah 9:25,26   NLT)

The prophet Jeremiah lived in a time of turmoil and frustration.  The northern kingdom of Israel (10 tribes) had already been defeated by the Assyrians and taken away as captives, and now, a little over one hundred years later the same thing was about to happen to the southern kingdom of Judah (2 tribes) by the Babylonians.  Mind-boggling isn’t it?  People who had been delivered from slavery in Egypt through a series of never-before-seen miracles, had eaten manna and quail in the desert and drank water from the rock, had seen the walls of Jericho collapse as well as all the other nations of Canaan, had taken possession of the Promised Land, had experienced the leadership of Moses, Joshua, Gideon and David, and the wisdom and prosperity of Solomon, and had visited the Temple of Solomon on Mount Moriah, decided in the end to turn away from the One, True God who had proved Himself over and over again, and turn to the gods of the nations they had defeated!

In the end, all but the poorest of the poor were carted off to Babylon and treated as colonists there, as long as they were loyal to Babylon. But an amazing thing happened there, the people of God were more faithful to God in Babylon than they had been in Jerusalem!  Though Jerusalem and the Temple had been razed to the ground and all the sacred articles of gold taken by the Babylonians, including the Ark of the Covenant, the people of God drew closer to Him and learned to circumcise their hearts and minds.  God had not abandoned them, He had allowed them to be disciplined in order to wake them up and bring them back to Him.

The fact that we go to church, read the Bible and call ourselves Christians is not enough.  If we are not careful God sees no difference between us and atheists, agnostics and people that bow down to idols and false gods.  God may not even see a difference between us, and people involved in Satanism and the occult!  What God is looking for is people with circumcised hearts, people who are willing to cut off a piece of themselves in order to please Him and live according to His will.  This is not an option.  Either we do this or we will no longer be considered Jesus’ disciples.  Either we do this, or God will allow us to become captives and experience the suffering that comes from being separated from Him.

Take a look at your life and make sure you are circumcising your heart.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

October 28 – Boasting…

Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the Lord, have spoken!  (Jeremiah 9:23,24  NLT)

Evelyn and I just finished translating the third part of Bishop Macedo’s autobiography into English, and (spoiler alert) this is how the book ends.  He ends with the verse above, one of his favorites in Bible, which for me reveals a great deal about the man.

We live in a world where people like to boast about what they have and what they’ve accomplished.  Hollywood has a great deal of influence on American society, and the world, and yet how many of us would want to live the lives of the producers and actors of the movies we love?  Sure they have money, fame and looks, but the large majority can’t stay married or beat their addictions, and an even greater majority don’t care to know about God or what He has to say about their lives.  They won’t be able to take their Ferraris, mansions, fancy clothes, plastic surgery or fame with them when they die.  If all they have to boast about is their talent, power, wealth, and looks, in truth they are living a lie and all they trust in will soon be taken away.

There is only one thing that we should boast about: that we truly know and understand God… that our lives are in His hands and that when our time comes to leave this world, we will go to be with Him.  God is delighted when we truly know Him.  Imagine that, we as insignificant human beings can cause Almighty God to feel delight!

We truly know God only when we understand that His love is unfailing, and that He loves justice and righteousness.  If we live in constant doubt about His love and forgiveness, constantly wonder if we will ever see His justice, or if we are constantly trying to get away with unrighteous behavior that we know is displeasing to Him, we have clearly drifted away from Him and do not truly know Him.  We can’t boast about a God that we are unsure will come through for us, or about a God that we are not dedicated to.  If we do, we don’t TRULY know Him.  No one would cheer for a team they care nothing about; fans cheer for teams they love and are dedicated to.  If we boast about God, then He has to be our greatest treasure, and we have to be willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to be considered righteous in His eyes.

Let’s all reconsider what we boast about.

October 27 – Much more than we deserve

Instead of shame, you will get a double portion; instead of humiliation, they will rejoice over the land they receive.  Yes, they will possess a double portion in their land and experience lasting joy. (Isaiah 61:7 HCSB)

There are six times in the Bible that a double portion is mentioned.  The firstborn sons, the heirs of a father’s estate, were to receive double of what their brothers would get because their responsibility to carry on the family farms and properties was greater and more serious.  Job also received double of all that he had lost, after passing that very difficult test of Satan robbing him of all that he had and loved.  God saw that he had proven worthy of double, and gladly gave it to him, protecting him and his family from harm for the rest of his life.  Double was never given or promised in the Bible randomly, for no reason.  Those who received double were those who had proven themselves to care for their portion wisely, and had demonstrated a humble devotion to God.

In the book of Isaiah, God sees the future shame that His people will soon go through because they have been rejecting Him and turning to other gods.  After Isaiah the prophet is killed, the people of God would be taken as slaves to Babylon and their beautiful temple destroyed – all because their foolish refusal to obey God, gave room for the devil to plunder and oppress them.  This suffering was not God’s choice, but their own.  Yet even though God knew the painful direction they had chosen for themselves, His love never ceased.  In this verse, He is looking beyond their shame, to a time when they humble themselves and return to Him.  He looks forward to the day when He will not only give them back their land, but give them double of all that had been stolen.

There are times when we all stray from the kind of faith we ought to have, either in small ways, or as with some people, even in serious lapses of faith where much repentance and restoring is needed.  All of us can look at areas of our lives where we have seen Satan rob us while we looked on feeling helpless, either because we didn’t yet know about God’s power, or we had rejected Him in our pride.  Either way, God’s love never ceases.  As in the days of Isaiah, God was already promising to give His people a double portion, with all the confidence that they would turn back in humility to Him so that He could remove their shame and pain.  

If you feel that Satan has robbed you, your chances for a future, your marriage, your health or any other aspect of your life, know that God is eager to give you a double portion of all that was stolen.  Even if you know your own foolishness gave room to the devil to harm you, God is ready to remove your shame.  As in all other examples in the Bible, God needs a humble heart that turns to Him, submits to His Lordship and proves to be trustworthy and faithful.  Be faithful in all you do for Him, and in all that you desire.  Learn from your experience of hardheartedness, and receive more than you deserve, just because our God is an awesome and loving God.  

God promises that you will rejoice over the “land” you receive, and experience a lasting joy. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

October 26 – Much needed refreshment

Do not be wise in your own estimation; fear the Lord and turn away from evil.  This will bring healing to your body, and refreshment to your inner self.  (Proverbs 3:7-8 NET)

God asks us to be wise, but in this verse, being wise in our own estimation, is when we think we can diverge from God’s word, and invent our own version of right at wrong.  He has to tell those of us who think we know better, to turn away from evil.  Whenever we think more highly of our own opinions than those of God, we are always in the devil’s camp.

Shannon was a young lady who came to us years ago, and insisted that she loved God with all her heart. But she couldn’t accept a God who taught that a couple who lived together outside of marriage, were living in an immoral and sinful condition.  God was love, after all, she said.  While we didn’t condemn her, and let her know that she was always welcome for prayer and counsel, she felt angry just knowing that the Bible taught against the life she wanted to lead.  A battle raged inside of her because she loved the help we offered yet she resisted submitting her life to the wisdom of God’s word.  Eventually Shannon revealed that her live-in boyfriend was abusive, but she couldn’t let go of him because she felt worthless without a man in her life.  There were a lot of inner wounds that needed healing.  She realized that she was trying to create her own version of the truth in fear that she could never be healed.

The reason that only a few in this world are truly converted, is because God’s wisdom requires change and sacrifice.  But those who risk giving up their own version of wisdom and submit to God’s truths, are the ones who can finally find healing to their bodies, and refreshment to their inner selves.

Who among us needs to be healed?  Perhaps this is the missing piece of the puzzle.  Are there truths in God’s word that you have been resisting or avoiding?  Have you concocted your own recipe for wisdom and hold it in higher regard than God’s?  

We all need refreshment and healing, and if this is one way we can receive it, let’s determine to healthy fear of God right now, and to live by His words above all else.  We could be totally renewed in a short period of time.

October 25 – Being where He is

If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me. Where I am, there My servant also will be. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.  (John 12:26 HCSB)

We assume that because God is everywhere, we can go wherever we want, and He’ll be right there with us.  But Jesus is teaching His followers that we can choose to go places in our lives and in our minds, where He isn’t.  There are many times that God urges us to get out of our comfort zone and do what we don’t feel like doing, but we choose to hold back and ignore that urging.  We may feel like we’re doing important things, but we are in fact, doing the worst thing of all – choosing to be where Jesus is not.  It could be vice versa as well – God calls you to stay with your family and care for them, yet you’d rather be trying to impress others with busy work.  Whoever serves God, sticks close to His side, wherever He leads.

His promise is to honor us.  There are times when God asks you to go places where you would least like to be.  You find yourself in awkward situations, with people you don’t necessarily enjoy, when it’s too late, or too early, or too uncomfortable, but God asks you to be there, so you do it.  In the spiritual world, many doors of blessing are being opened to you, just because you are choosing to be where your Master is, and do His bidding.  We like to imagine that we are heroic Christians who would fight to the death for our faith, but are we willing to sit in a dingy waiting room in a hospital to pray for someone who doesn’t even appreciate us?   

Once we overcome the initial hurdle to die to our old lives and live for Jesus as our Lord, being with Him is so pleasant and enjoyable, for the most part.  Choosing a wholesome movie at home with our family over a bar is a no-brainer.  Choosing church on a Sunday morning over sleeping in may be a bit of an effort when you’re tired from the night before, but we remember the joy of being in God’s house still outweighs our morning grogginess.  But there are always times that God asks us to go further, give more (sometimes a lot more), and just trust that where He is, we need to be.  If we claim to follow Jesus, that needs to be a non-negotiable commitment.

When you opt for being where your Master leads, you are opting for a life of honor.  You may not feel very honored or recognized in the middle of the process, but this promise of Jesus does not fail.  None of His promises do.  Make Moses’ prayer as he was about to lead the people of God to the promised land, your prayer as well, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here.” (Exodus 33:15)  Determine not to take a step away from where His presence leads you.  If you are unsure, pray, reread these promises of God, and He will show you clearly.  Be where Jesus is, and He’ll gladly honor you as His child. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

October 24 – For all of us

The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  (John 12:25 HCSB)

This is one of Jesus’ teachings that appears in all four gospels, and even rephrased twice in the book of Matthew.  This statement is crucial.  It teaches the foundation of what our lives as Christians should be – a sacrifice to Him.

Obviously we all love our lives.  We love to have control over as much of our lives as possible.  Even people with suicidal tendencies long for control to such a degree that they think they know better than God, and want to take measures into their own hands to end their lives.  So when Jesus teaches that the one who hates his life in this world keeps it for eternal life, He is definitely not referring to a self-destructive mindset.  He is speaking about surrender, not suicide.

The vast majority of people who warm church seats pray and sing and love hanging onto their lives.  How many Christians are eager to reach out to those in need, and how many are angered at the evil and injustice of this world to such a point that they cry out to God and search for ways to be used by Him to right these wrongs?  How many would be happy to give up their jobs and homes to serve others and further God’s Kingdom if He asked?  Not many.  They may claim to be angered by evil and injustice, but that’s only visible when they’re yelling at the radio on their drive to work, listening to the daily news.  Not that God asks everyone to give up all of their possessions to give to the poor all the time, but He does ask us all to “hate our lives in this world,” for His sake.  

This attitude of the willingness to surrender is not just for a select few, for the pastors and missionaries who travel to far-flung corners of the earth. This is for those who want to find eternal life.  This is for all of us. 

What do you know God is asking of you that you keep saying no to?  What do you do for God that inwardly causes you to gripe and groan?  What worries do you have that keeps you from surrendering your life to Him heart and soul?  Do you fear that if you die to your flesh, you’ll be a prisoner to a religious life?  Do you think that if God asks something of you that you’ll never have joy again?  Die to those thoughts.  Hate this pitiful scrap of life that you are trying so hard to control here on earth, and lose it all for Him.  He will give you far more than you ever imagined, but holding onto what you have will never allow you to even taste the abundance of life that He has for you.  

Remember His promise, I have come to give you life, and life to the full.  His life is worth trading our own for by far. 

October 23 – Trust and seeing the bigger picture

“The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord, their refuge in a time of distress.  The Lord helps and delivers them; He will deliver them from the wicked and will save them because they take refuge in Him.” (Psalm 37:39-40 HCSB)

What is the biggest quality that will separate the sheep from the goats when God judges the world?  What will God search for in each of us when we stand before Him?  Trust.  Trust even when everything seems unfair, trust when our answers haven’t yet materialized, trust when our emotions want us to doubt and fear the worst.  Each time we go through moments of distress, we are going through a test of our true faith.  Is it just words, or is it real?  

God promises that He will be our refuge, but we are the ones who have to take refuge in Him by quieting our fears and choosing trust over emotion.  His refuge won’t chase us down and come over us while we are floundering in panic and proclaiming that everything is lost.  When we run to Him and hide in the safety of his protection, believing all the while that He will deliver us, then we experience that safety and our hearts can be calm and at peace even when a storm swirls around outside. 

These two verses wrap up this beautiful chapter of King David, packed with promise after promise.  The theme that overarches it all is to stop worrying about injustice. Stop complaining that evil people get away with all the evil that they do, because when all is said and done, God always deal with them in His perfect justice and makes all things right.  Stay faithful to Him, and you will see with your own eyes the faithful love of God come true before you.  Doubt and blame God for all that is wrong, and you delay your blessings.  

God knows how hard it is to be as small and limited as we are.  Our vision is so short, our understanding so clouded.  He knows that we don’t see the bigger picture of how great His power is and how much authority and protection we already have once we trust in Him.  But He asks us just to live in that faith and trust that what He tells us is true.  

I have often preached that waiting on God is nothing like the passive defeatist attitude that many Christians have when it comes to overcoming their problems.  The Bible’s description of waiting on God is active, and full of determination.  You only wait for someone you are certain is coming through for you.  When you truly trust in someone, you act as though their promise was as good as done.  A child trusts when his father promises that if he gets all his homework done and cleans his room, he’ll get a special present.  That little boy gets it all done as fast as he can, then waits by the front door for his dad to pull into the driveway.  We need to trust in our Father by acting in that same spirit of expectation.  Honor Him with a simple, childlike trust today.  Take refuge in Him and see how much He comes through for you.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

October 22 – They could not be found

I have seen ruthless evil men growing in influence, like a green tree grows in its native soil. But then one passes by, and suddenly they have disappeared! I looked for them, but they could not be found. Take note of the one who has integrity! Observe the godly! For the one who promotes peace has a future.  (Psalm 37:35-37   NET)

How many of us have caught ourselves envying ruthless, evil people who care nothing about God, and yet are enjoying success and influence?  We all have at one time or another.  It’s natural for these thoughts to come.  But those of us who are smart and spiritual catch ourselves and remember the words of David when he said that ruthless and evil men would suddenly disappear and not be found.  

Even David, a man of great success, power and wealth noticed evil people around him growing in power, as if they were plants in their native habitat and all creation were cooperating with them.  At times we wonder how people who refuse to pray, read the Bible, give offerings, attend church or live holy lives can have so much.  But one thing we do know, their time is short.  They have no future.  At any time the devil can take away all they have.  They are not safe. 

Even King David who was a man of great accomplishments and power notice that there were ruthless and spiritually bankrupt people around him (most probably kings of other nations) who were growing in influence.  Though they seemed to be thriving like a plant in its native habitat, as if all creation were cooperating with them, he didn’t let these thoughts take over his heart and make him bitter.  He trusted in God and knew that his future was secure only as long as he maintained a strong faith in the Almighty.

David encourages us to take note of those with integrity and godliness.  Very soon they will see God’s answers and will outshine the ungodly, but only if they keep their eyes on Him.  If they give in to envy of the ungodly and forget about God’s promises, they will become a block to God’s blessings in their lives.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October 21 – The land that has always been ours

“The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it permanently.”  (Psalm 37:29 HCSB)

The history of the Israelites is marked with many wanderings in the desert in search of their promised land.  Abraham had to travel over one hundred and fifty miles to be led by God to the land of Canaan.  Later Jacob had to run back to Abraham’s family home to hide from his angry brother Esau, and only years later took the long arduous trek back to Canaan to make peace.  Joseph was captured and hauled away as a slave to Egypt and his brothers and father had to travel there to find food to sustain them during a famine.  Years later, Israel was exiled and taken as slaves to Babylon because they had rejected God and treated Him with disdain.  The land had always been theirs since the time of Abraham, but too many times sin, selfishness and a lack of trust in God removed them from that beloved place.

In the same manner, there is a promised land for us all – a life of victory and abundance of joy that was purchased for us on the cross by the Lord Jesus.  Eventually we who are true believers will all enter into the Kingdom of Heaven when our lives on this earth are over.  But that is not what this verse is about.  God is promising us our inheritance today, and inheritance of all His promises coming true in our lives, where we will dwell permanently and not have that land stolen from us or invaded by enemies.  The requirement in this promise, is that we be righteous.

If you feel like you often find yourself just about to reach your promised land and then it seems to be snatched away time after time, see if you are living a life that God would consider to be righteous.  Clean your heart, remove any stumbling blocks or opportunities for the devil to rob you again.  This promise is for you to be settled and safe in the land that He already promised you.  Don’t be like the people of Israel in their beautiful land flowing with milk and honey, who lazily forgot the One who was their protector and provider, and ended up losing it all.  But even if you have already committed those mistakes, you can begin right now to honor God above all with your life.  Repent and change, and see how soon that land will be restored to you.  It has always been meant for us, but it’s up to us to decide that we will live in a manner worthy of such a wonderful inheritance.  

October 20 – Want to be safe?

Turn away from evil and do what is good, and dwell there forever. For the Lord loves justice and will not abandon His faithful ones. They are kept safe forever, but the children of the wicked will be destroyed.  (Psalm 37:27,28  HCSB)

God is not a stern judge who enjoys punishing people whenever they do any little thing wrong.  Though Jesus perfectly kept the Law when He lived on earth, a law that condemned adultery, lying, theft, and murder, He forgave people who had broken it.  He forgave the woman that was caught in adultery, and even forced her accusers who who wanted to stone her, to think about their own sins.  He also forgave Zacchaeus, a huge liar and thief, and He forgave a murderer when He took Barabbas’ place on the cross.  The Lord Jesus never broke the Law of God given to Moses, but when it came to its application to other people He chose mercy over judgment.  He opted to concentrate on people’s character rather than their outward actions.

Jesus told the adulteress that she was free to go after her accusers had one by one walked away, but told her to “go and sin no more.”  During the dinner that Zacchaeus put on for Jesus, he stood up and declared that he would not longer live the life of a thief, and promised to pay back every penny he had stolen.  Clearly, Jesus was ready to forgive any sin or weakness, but came to teach people a better way, the way of turning away from evil and doing good.  Hundreds of years after Psalm 37 had been written, Jesus came and lived it out as an example to all.

The more we turn away from evil and do good, the closer God will be to us.  He promises not to abandon those who live good lives.  We can say that we love God all we want, but that love will always be imperfect as long as we do not HATE sin and the devil.  How can we love a holy God when we don’t hate unholiness?  Impossible.  

For our own good we need to choose to turn away from evil whenever it appears; the sooner we get away from it the better.  God promises not to abandon His faithful ones, but when we choose not to turn away from evil, we ourselves push Him away and tie His hands that are so eager to help us.

October 19 – The best legacy for our children

He is always generous, always lending, and his children are a blessing.  (Psalm 37:26 HCSB)

Everyone likes to imagine themselves as being generous, but our flesh doesn’t like parting with what we believe is rightfully ours.  We only give when we are certain of some sort of payback.  People will shell over hundreds of dollars for great seats at a football game and a nice tailgate party to enjoy with friends, because they consider the variety of benefits to be well worth it.  But to be asked to help someone in need who has no possibility of repaying, is another story.  Giving a few bucks in church is about the best a lot of people can do, but then go home to complain about how they really needed that money.

Being generous in spirit is not just about what is given, but the attitude of the heart as we give.  It’s about the nature of our character that wants to give.  The best test of that kind of nature is how we react when it comes to unexpected situations when we can choose to either give, or to hold back.  Generosity is a noble virtue in theory, but not too popular in practice.  This very short verse links generosity to a legacy for our children.  They are blessed, and they become a blessing – to us, and to all who come into contact with them.  When we give to others, we are giving to God, as Jesus taught in the parable of the sheep and goats.  Whenever we give to God, it always comes back to us multiplied. 

When the enjoyment of giving becomes a part of you, and even if you have no children, the product of what you do and who you are, becomes a blessing.  You instill a generous spirit in others who pass it on and in time, your entire community and circle of friends and family will become changed. 

Generous hearts are found in people who trust that there will always be enough for their needs.  They live by faith because they believe in a safe future before they see it happen.  They can give without fear.  They are also people who in time, become financially blessed because their giving spirit creates an automatic response of provision from God.  They are able to even lend and not worry about making ends meet, which is one of the promises in Deuteronomy 15:5, “…you will lend to many nations but not borrow.”

When the world teaches that generosity is weakness, God reveals that generosity is courage and faith that impacts our homes and communities.  Don’t wait to have everything perfect in your life before you begin to give.  Develop a generous spirit now so that God can begin to bless you back today.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

October 18 – Never abandoned

I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous abandoned or his children begging for bread.  (Psalm 37:25  HCSB)

King David had seen many things in his life.  He began as a simple, unknown shepherd boy, the last of eight brothers, and rose to become one of the greatest leaders of Israel, and their greatest king.  Throughout his life he was overlooked, laughed at, betrayed, cheated, lied to, disrespected, attacked, ambushed, accused of being proud and treated as a traitor, but he also had amazing victories, stayed strong in his faith, served as an example for his people and died with his salvation intact.

Clearly David (and the Holy Spirit) is not telling us to expect a problem-free life.  Without a doubt there were times that David was tempted to feel abandoned, when his prayers were not being answered, and when it seemed like circumstances and his enemies were stronger than he was.  But every time, in the end, David could say that God came through for him, that he was not abandoned, that his children did not need to beg for food.

Victory and blessings do not always mean a trouble-free life.  Troubles are one of our greatest teachers.  We learn the most when we’re going through rough times.  We draw closest to God when we are in trouble and feel inadequate.  So when God promises never to abandon us He is not saying that He’ll block all problems from entering our lives.  What He is promising is that we will have problems, but as we persevere and refuse to give in to doubt and fear, we will see His power and answers.

As long as we stay close to God by having faith and trusting that “all things work for the good”, we will never be abandoned.  David was not abandoned, and he states that he had never seen the righteous abandoned, even at the end of a long, full life.  Why should we listen to the opposite?  Shouldn’t we trust the Word of God and the testimony of a man of God that experienced all sorts of trials and came out on top?  Put the devil in his place when he comes with whispers of how God might not take care of you this time.

Friday, October 17, 2014

October 17 – Covered in God’s perfection

The Lord watches over the blameless all their days, and their inheritance will last forever. They will not be disgraced in times of adversity; they will be satisfied in days of hunger.  But the wicked will perish; the Lord’s enemies, like the glory of the pastures, will fade away—they will fade away like smoke.  (Psalm 37:18-20 HCSB)

This is a powerful promise to hold onto, to remind yourself of, and to remind God of when you are going through tough times.  God says that if you are blameless you will not be disgraced in times of adversity.  All of us are sinners, and all of us are very flawed, but God is talking about the blamelessness and purity that comes when we live a life of repentance and faith in Jesus sacrifice for us.  He covers us with His perfection, and clothes us with His goodness when we daily die to our flesh and daily live for Him.  Those who are truly living our their salvation, are blameless in God’s eyes, and they can be sure they will not be disgraced.

One woman in the church used this passage when she was facing false accusations on her job.  A group of employees had become jealous because her boss was pleased with her work.  He was letting her have privileges that were denied to the rest of them, and so they banded together to force her out of her job.  It was a painful time, not just because of the accusations, but her emotions were running amok.  She felt fear, anger, doubt, insecurity, panic, and shed a lot of tears, but none of that was necessary.  She belonged to God, and all that energy should have been channeled into trusting in Him and fighting the devil.  When she read this verse, she remembered what she had learned in church, and reigned in all the wild emotions and focused her attention on faith.  She trusted that God had to keep His Word, and He did.  The plans of her accusers fell apart, and she was treated fairly and in a few months time, was given a promotion.  This would never have happened if she hadn’t caught herself from allowing her emotions to rule her – if she had done so, she would no longer be seen by God as “blameless.”

God watches over you all your days.  You have an inheritance that lasts forever.  Your inheritance isn’t just going to heaven when you die.  God tells us in Romans 8:17 that we are heirs together with Christ.  We are in God’s royal family, and even now on this earth, we can receive the benefits of an heir.   He promises to rescue us from disgrace and to satisfy our hunger.  Make this promise yours today.

October 16 – Let the poor say I am rich

The little that the righteous man has is better than the abundance of many wicked people.  For the arms of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord supports the righteous.  (Psalm 37:16-17 HCSB)

Did you know that you are richer with God, than a Fortune 500 tycoon without God?  Many self-proclaimed Christians would swap out their “faith” for a tycoon’s wealth, given the chance.  I’m certain of that. I’ve seen enough people in financial straights pray with such fervor for God to rescue them from their troubles, and then become too busy for God once He answers their prayers with a decent job.  Next thing you know they’ve fallen back into old sinful habits and don’t know why.  

The world has it all backwards.  When God and His ways are top priority in our lives, we are rich. Period.  Even with less possessions, we are always richer than those who don’t prioritize Him. 

This principle is visible in our acts of tithing and offering giving. We start off with a smaller value in our bank account, but because what we gave was done in a holy and reverent way, the remainder becomes blessed and protected.  We are able to use what is left for all our needs, it even multiplies, doors of opportunity open, and we avoid unexpected attacks on our finances that the devil and his devouring spirits plot against us.  

But this principle also plays out in variety of ways, in all aspects of our lives.  The teenager who is made fun of because she stays pure for God and won’t party with the popular crowd may feel left out, but in fact she is being blessed day by day with a wealth of wisdom, with open paths for her future career and studies, and eventually happy and blessed marriage when she is mature enough for the responsibility, all because she lives each day to please God above her flesh.  The man who feels ashamed because he can’t provide for his family while his rich cousin proudly throws his money around, has nothing to be ashamed of because he is investing his daily efforts and faith into honoring God above all.  He has a happy family to greet him every night after work, and a faith that will allow God to take his career father than he ever imagined.  When he doesn’t allow the world’s ideas to make him insecure, he realizes that he is so rich, that he even feels sorry for his cousin. 

When blessings are given to us by God, and not taken out of our own greed, they are lasting and able to give us joy.  We don’t worship money or possessions, but we worship the One who graciously gave them to us.  When God sees that we are faithful in the few things that He gives us, faithful to honor Him first, and faithful to keep our hearts humble and obedient to Him, no matter how much or how little we have, He is pleased to grant us much more.  He knows we can handle blessings without envy or greed.  This quality of trust is what He is looking for, because this is the key to receiving the fulfillment to all of His promises. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October 15 – Laughing at the devil

The wicked person schemes against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him.  The Lord laughs at him because He sees that his day is coming.  The wicked have drawn the sword and strung the bow to bring down the afflicted and needy and to slaughter those whose way is upright.  Their swords will enter their own hearts, and their bows will be broken.  (Psalm 37:12-15 HCSB)

God says what He means and means what He says, and evidently this teaching about the wicked and justice for the righteous is so important that He repeats it in different terms.  It doesn’t matter that those who hate us are already poised to attack us, that they have all their ammunition in place and have the worst intentions on their hearts.  God laughs at them! So if we are to be like God, we are to laugh at the schemes of those who do evil against us.  

Though some may have very distinct enemies who are plotting lawsuits or job-related cases against them, we no longer live in that world of physical battles to defend territory as people did hundred and thousands of years ago.  Enemies are not as clear-cut as they used to be, but that doesn’t mean that we are free from attackers.  

You may view your boss as an enemy, when she just may be stressed out and perceiving you unfairly.  Your enemy is not her, but demonic forces that want to manipulate her mind to treat you unfairly until you are fired or penalized in some way.  This could happen with a spouse, a teacher, a neighbor, even a friend in church.  Demons can manipulate you to imagine injustice where there is none, to inflame insecurities to the point that everything you see is an attack when in fact there is no attack, other than inside your own emotion-driven heart.  In that case the enemy is inside of you!

A good rule of thumb is to assess your own emotional state when you face an attack.  Do you feel a sense of panic, an uncontrollable fear that you’re about to be swallowed up by an evil force much bigger than you?  Are you crying out to God in desperation while at the same time blaming God for not helping you?  That may sound contradictory – and it is – but it happens to many.  If you can say yes to any of these, you’re not in the spiritual state that God can use to rescue you.  But don’t worry, it’s not too hard to switch gears into a state of real faith.

First realize that God is asking you to imitate Him, and see things through His eyes.  He laughs at the schemes of the devil, and He’s inviting us to do the same.  See your imposing “enemy” as God sees him, small, weak, defeated and with very little time left, who will be destroyed by his very own sword.  See God as He really is, huge, mighty, full of justice, love for you and hatred for evil.  See yourself as you are when you’re in a place of obedient faith: safe, protected, loved and on the path to an abundant life. 

October 14 – A comfort and a warning

A little while, and the wicked person will be no more; though you look for him, he will not be there.  But the humble will inherit the land and will enjoy abundant prosperity.  (Psalm 37:10-11 HCSB)

Like we said a few days ago, God is not telling us this so we can rub our hands in glee as we anticipate the destruction of our enemies.  Gloating over someone’s downfall is a sin.  But on the same token, knowing God’s attitudes towards evil is important.  

We’ve spoken about not fretting when evil people appear to succeed, knowing that nothing anyone does escapes God’s eyes.  This should be both a comfort for us, and a warning as well.  What if the wicked person is the secret sinful self still hiding within you?  That person who enjoys gossip, foul language or criticizing others and blaming God in order to feel good about his or herself?  That person who indulges in a habit, addiction, a type of behavior that they know isn’t from God?  If this old self is still alive in you and you refuse to kill it off, you fall into the category of the wicked person who will be no more.  Search your heart and see if this might be the case. 

The solution to this is easy.  Be humble before God.  Obey what He commands.  Die to you flesh and to your selfish ways.  There is nothing you can hide from Him anyway, even if you try to disguise yourself in church as a true believer.  God can see right through you, and the devil can see all the darkness that hovers around you as well.  The darkness of a false Christian makes you even more desirable for the devil to curse you than the darkness of a total unbeliever.  You appear to bear the name of Jesus, and a destroyed Christian is a great advertisement for the devil’s kingdom.  Not only do you destroy yourself by hiding unrepentant sin, but you damage the name of Jesus with a poor testimony.

When God promises the humble abundant prosperity, He always means far more than money, although financial stability does come with trusting in Him.  A rich miser whose family despises him may be a billionaire, yet does not have an abundant life at all.  God’s abundance affects every area of our lives, and it is ours to have when we remain in a state of active, courageous, and humble trust in Him.

October 13 – The weapon of trust

Refrain from anger and give up your rage; do not be agitated—it can only bring harm.  For evildoers will be destroyed, but those who put their hope in the Lord will inherit the land.  (Psalm 37:8-9 HCSB)

Those of you who have kids, do you remember teaching them not to scratch a mosquito bite, or worse, not to pick at their chicken pox?  It’s so hard to get these little ones to understand that if they do, everything will get worse. The bite will become infected and grow and feel even itchier, the chicken pox will take longer to heal and might leave a permanent scar. We wish we could get them to just trust and believe us.  They look at us, wondering why we keep insisting that they leave their wounds alone, even when days go by and the itchiness and irritation is still there.  “Just wait, believe me, it’ll get better,” we say.

We know that things will definitely get better because we are older and more experienced.  We can see beyond the pain and beyond the sickness and know for a fact that the restraint it takes to not meddle in the matter, is worth it in the end.  But those who don’t learn this kind of restraint when it comes to trusting in God for the unfairness of life, also make things worse.  

We know we’re not supposed to take justice into our own hands, and that we’re supposed to trust in God.  But just like impatient children, we jump the gun when it seems to be taking too long for relief to come.  Each time we try to force things to happen in our anger or agitation, we exacerbate the problem instead of allowing God to heal it in a perfect and healthy way.  

The problem is that the devil convinces us that the virtues of trusting and patience are the same as being passive and doing nothing.  The fact is that trusting requires greater strength of character and courage than exploding in anger ever would.  A passive person couldn’t care less what happens.  One who trusts, cares intensely, but chooses to focus all his faith and attention on the justice of God and not on his own means.  A passive person lives in a sense of defeat, one who trusts is certain of a coming victory.  They both can appear to be doing the exact same outward actions, yet be worlds apart in their spirits and attitudes.   

Choose to fight the devil and all that is unjust with the weapon of trust.  Just as Jesus fell asleep in the boat during a violent storm, we are being asked to discipline our emotions to rest, believe, trust.  The promise He give us is that we will inherit the land, our promised land, the land flowing with abundance of peace, joy, justice and His presence. Much like we teach our children, God is telling each of us in a very deep and profound way, “Just wait on Me, believe in Me, it’ll get better.”

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October 12 – Wait patiently…

Commit your way to ADONAI; trust in him, and he will act. He will make your vindication shine forth like light, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before ADONAI, wait patiently till he comes.  (Psalm 37:5-7  Complete Jewish Bible)

“If you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”  Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, who guided the country through its worst struggle, the civil war between the north and the south, spoke these words and must have experienced this over and over again. As the leader of a country in conflict, and a man of character, the weakness in people’s character must have been very frustrating.

We could also say, if you want to test a man’s faith, watch his reaction to injustice.  More often than not, people of faith get frustrated at injustice, blame Adonai (the Lord) for being unfaithful, take things into their own hands, get angry, get depressed, conclude that God is punishing them, and so on… It’s strange that people who claim to have faith in God do this, because faith at its most basic elements is all about taking our eyes off of the situation and focusing on God.  True faith loves a challenge, and rises to the occasion.  People of faith are supposed to be fighters; passivity and accepting whatever comes is not an option.  Faith is based on God’s Word and has the intelligence to reason that its promises have to come true for us today.

The first phrase of today’s promise provides us with a formula that will pull us through hardship every time: commit + trust = God’s action.  When He acts our vindication and justice will be as bright as the noonday sun.  We will be vindicated in a way that we could never accomplish by ourselves; it will be on a godly scale, not a human one.

We cannot expect God to answer our prayers and do the miracle we want unless we first make the painful sacrifice of committing our ways to, and trusting in Him.  This involves turning our backs on fear and worry, which come to us all.  Faith is not necessarily the absence of fear, but it is definitely choosing faith and God’s promises over the fear.  Committing our ways to Him means not doing things our own way, or getting frustrated because God is not following our plan.  It’s such a temptation for us to think that we know how things ought to be done, and if it’s not done our way then it must be wrong.  But God’s thoughts and ways are so much higher and better than ours. We cannot always comprehend, at the moment, how what’s happening could possibly be His will and turn out for the good.  At these moments, when we can’t see our way through, we have to trust in Him. 

Today’s promise ends with “be still before Adonai, wait patiently till he comes.”  But like we’ve mentioned before, when this is said other times in the Bible, this doesn’t mean standing around and waiting for God to act.  Being still before God means trusting in Him, which involves a lot of hard work.  Waiting patiently means that we eagerly expect to see His answer each and every day, for as long as it takes, and that we fight off despair and hopelessness when our answer is taking longer than expected.

The important thing is that when we do this, Adonai’s vindication and justice are guaranteed to shine on us like the noonday sun.  What an amazing thought!  Isn’t it worth it?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

October 11 – Simple commands, great promises

Trust in the Lord and do what is good; dwell in the land and live securely. Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires.  (Psalm 37:3-4 HCSB)

The main commands of God in these two verses are trust, do good, dwell, and delight.  The promises?  Live securely, and receive your heart’s desires.  It’s so simple, but we have a way of complicating the simplicity and beauty of all God asks of us.  As we’ve seen these last six months of going through the promises of the Bible, every promise comes with a condition or command.  If we would just humble ourselves to consistently obey His commands, the promises will come flooding in.  Unfortunately we all have such selfish and sinful natures that we doubt and rebel and end up postponing our miracles from happening, if ever.  

The dictionary definitions of each command:
Trust: a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something
Do good: to do what is desired or approved of, showing kindness, having or displaying moral virtue
Dwell: live in or at a specified place
Delight: take great pleasure in

Rewording verses 3 and 4 according to these definitions, we can say that God wants us to have a firm belief in His reliability, truth and strength, to be virtuous and kind and do what He desires.  He wants us to live in the place where He has specified, because He will guarantee our safety and peace.  We need to take great pleasure in Him, enjoy being in His presence, enjoy obeying His commands and enjoy spending as much time with Him as possible.  Then and only then, will He grant us the desires of our hearts.  

So ask yourself, do I really have a firm belief in God’s reliability, or do I waste time worrying that He won’t come through for me?  Am I virtuous, kind, and do what He wants?  Am I dwelling (living, working, associating with people) as God has specified? If so, I have no reason to feel anxious because my safety is certain.   

Do I take great pleasure in Him?  All the time, and on a consistent basis?  Does my praying, fighting demons, going to church and reading the Bible happen in fits and spurts according to my schedule, moods and impending problems?  Or is delighting in God something that I do eagerly and can’t spend a day without?

The world offers tons of ways to chase after security and our heart’s desires with no guarantee of actually finding them – they usually include a good sum of money and the right connections.  What God promises is iron clad, and requires the currency of faith, trust and obedience.  Anyone can have security, and anyone can find their heart’s desires, no matter how privileged or poor they might be.  

Friday, October 10, 2014

October 10 – Appearances can be deceiving

Do not be agitated by evildoers; do not envy those who do wrong.  For they wither quickly like grass and wilt like tender green plants. (Psalm 37:1 HCSB)

This may seem like a negative promise, but in fact it is very comforting.  God knows what it feels like to see people full of selfishness and greed hurting others with no remorse, who continue to shame the people of God and then appear to get off scot-free.  God wants us to know that He is a God of justice, and no, they are absolutely not getting off scot-free.  God doesn’t ever turn a blind eye to evil.  We know from many other promises that it is against God’s nature to tolerate evil.  

This verse is not meant for us to rub our hands in glee, just waiting for the demise of someone who has hurt us.  Victims of crimes who say they can’t wait for their attacker to “rot in hell,” displease God and are actually undoing the justice that He wants to mete out.  God strongly warns us against gloating over the downfall of someone else, even if we believe they deserved it.  Proverbs 24:17, says that God will even take His anger away from our enemies if we rejoice when they fall. 

God is teaching us here, not to fret or be discouraged.  Our enemies may try to strut around and appear as if they were untouchable, but that isn’t the case.  If we remain in faith, they will wither away just as fast as they sprouted up.  Appearances can be very deceiving, and what God is doing in each one who has hurt us is according to His perfect will.  Justice is always done by God when we trust in Him and don’t try to interfere by bringing about our own version through hatred or personal vengeance.  So how should we react when evil people appear to succeed in what they do?  Relax, and know that God is doing what He needs to do in the right way and at the right time.  The more we let God work freely through a trusting faith, the faster He can bring about the results.

As a side note, this verse does not mean that we cannot seek out legal justice when someone has violated the law.  Of course we must be wise and defend our rights if we are being robbed or harmed.  But the true justice of God’s blessings or wrath, is a promise of God that we have no need to be anxious about. 

We’ll be covering the rest of the promises in Psalm 37 in the days to come.

October 9 – Anger that keeps us pure

The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is fierce in wrath. The Lord takes vengeance against His foes; He is furious with His enemies.  The Lord is slow to anger but great in power.  (Nahum 1:2  HCSB)

This passage made Oprah Winfrey decide not to believe in the God of the Bible any more, ignorantly thinking that it meant God was jealous of her!  For people who see jealously as a negative thing, think again. In a world full of evil, we all want a jealous God who is fiercely loyal to those He loves, and who will take swift action to defend His own.  This is so natural: a mother feels this fury when her young are being harmed, as does a soldier for his nation, and a good shepherd for his flock.  We are more than blessed to know that God is jealous and takes vengeance on His foes out of a deep and fierce love for us.  If he wasn’t jealous, we would all be lost.

In our churches, we teach all who come to have an attitude of righteous anger against the problems that are sent by the devil to attack us.  Those who see the greatest answers to prayer, are those who take on this attitude in full force, who learn to hate the devil and all the lies he brings into their lives.  But those who fight in prayers half-heartedly, who entertain thoughts of the devil the moment they are in the church parking lot, or who reject the guidance God gives them through their pastor, are far from living out the character that God Himself has.  If our God burns with anger against evil, we should all the more, because we are the daily targets of the devil.  Anger against evil causes our love for God and each other pure. 

When you feel alone in a tough problem, surrounded by oppressive thoughts and emotions that make you want to run, hide, or lash out, know that you are being attacked by demons. If they succeed in accomplishing their mission, you will lose your faith, doubt God, foster resentment towards Him and His people, and then become a wide-open target for whatever they want to do to you.  Demons know when you are emanating light and faith, and they know when you’re cold and dark.  A lack of righteous anger against the devil creates that darkness, and the devil is more than happy to waltz in and cause destruction.  

Instead, identify your real enemy – not your boss, spouse or kids.  Then fight in your prayers, rebuke that enemy who has no right to steal what God has rightfully purchased for you on the cross.  Be fierce, come to church more, wake up in the early hours of the night, fast, shout if you have to, but take on God’s attitudes of fury against your enemies – demons of depression, sickness, financial ruin, confusion, division – whatever and whoever they are. 

For those who say their personality is just not the angry type, and even get offended when we ask them to fight and pray the way we do – I don’t believe them.  Everyone hates evil, and everyone has had moments of righteous anger.  Those who refuse to pray in this manner are refusing to have God’s character.  They are comfortable passively managing their demons and trying to keep them under control, while their demons gradually eat them alive.  God wants to answer our prayers and grant us the desires of our hearts, but let’s be God-like in our nature and character.  Let’s develop such a love for what is good, that our hatred of evil becomes a part of us, and in doing so, our prayers can be effective and in sync with His Spirit.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

October 8 – Slicing through confusion

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it is able to judge the desires and thoughts of the heart.  (Hebrews 4:12 NET)

The most popular form of Christianity comes in heavy doses of feel-good information and entertainment.  A lot of pop-Christianity actually does teach the truths of God, but it doesn’t challenge listeners (or readers) to practice it. If the truths of God are not lived out, they just remain hidden and dormant in the hearts of whoever hears them, like ammunition in a warehouse.  People have become obese with information, with notebooks and lesson plans full of wonderful words, but their spirits are malnourished.

The goal of this blog is for each of you to go out and practice what you learn – but do you?  If so, this promise would become a reality for you.  All the confusion in your life could become crystal clear, because the Word of God working in you will be able to slice through to the core of what is going on around you.  Why do you think that pastors and prayer counselors are able to speak directly to you, even to the point that you wonder if they’ve been listening in on your phone conversations?  “How did he know that about me?” is often the response we get after services.  The reason is that a man or woman of God who doesn’t just read the Word, but actually lives it out to the point of sacrifice – that Word becomes sharper than a double-edged sword.  Their discernment is sharp and their spirit is alert to the slightest nudges and proddings of the Holy Spirit. They can immediately see what is going on in the spiritual world, and can quickly align their emotions and their faith to be the most effective.

The saddest thing for us pastors is to work hard and invest much effort to teach the Word of God to a church full of hurting people, show them the way to freedom, and then discover that though they loved hearing the Word, they don’t practice what they are taught.  When people only persevere because a pastor has to keep onto them, or forgive because their pastor challenges them, or be faithful in coming to church because they have to be constantly called or texted – they are unable to experience the full power of the Word.  This promise is of a living Word that makes all things clear, that separates confusion from calm.  Isn’t that what we all long for?  Those who go against their feelings and just obey the teachings that they have been given are the ones who begin to see and hear God’s voice and direction more distinctly than ever.

When people ask us how we can be so sure of blessings or miracles that we determine, it comes from a lifestyle of immersion into both the reading and practicing of God’s word, even to the point of pain.   This is available to anyone who is willing to sacrifice selfishness and fears to just jump in and believe no matter what.  

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

October 7 – How strong are you?

If you faint in the day of trouble, your strength is small!   (Proverbs 24:10  NET)

Hidden in this statement are several truths that lead to an amazing promise.  First of all, we can all expect to have days of trouble throughout life.  Problems are not a sign that God has left us, nor do they necessarily mean that our faith is weak.  Problems are a normal part of life, and if we respond in the proper way they will help us to grow and mature, strengthen our faith and draw closer to God.  We should all thank God for our problems because we’ve learned our greatest lessons through them.

But whenever these times come the devil tries to turn them in his favor.  He wants us to think that a life of serving God is trouble-free, and when trouble does appear, he wants us to blame God for failing to protect us, or for not answering our prayers.  Many people have fallen away from God completely, or become cold in their faith when they fell for this argument.  But the truth is that whenever God allows a day of trouble to come, He is demonstrating a father’s love by allowing us to be disciplined, and all good discipline builds-up rather than tears-down.

Whenever you’re tempted to blame God for failing to protect you, an alarm should go off in your head.  God’s plans are so much higher than anything we can comprehend, we don’t always know at the moment what His goal is, but we can be sure it is good.

The second truth is that we have the choice to be weak or strong in a day of trouble.  It can spell good for our lives, or it can spell evil; the deciding factor is our faith.  Many people boast about how great a faith they have, how close they are to God, how they are filled with His presence, and yet in the day of trouble they implode.  Clearly, their strength is small.  If we have faith, it needs to be used most of all when trouble comes.  These are the moments we need to live for, like a soldier looking forward to battle.  He knows there are risks, but he also knows that that is the time to prove himself and make a difference.

Only immature children constantly complain about things that don’t go their way.  The people I look up to for spiritual guidance get excited whenever their faith is put to the test, when trouble breaks out.  They immediately flip the switch of faith and start determining how they want that situation to turn out, committed to bringing glory to the Lord Jesus Christ and shame to Satan.