But I Dont WANT to Wait!

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40.31

wait upon the LORD … ” That really stretches us doesn’t it? When we think about the fact that God is all knowing, omnipresent, and all powerful, we say to ourselves, “Why doesn’t He just go ahead and do what I asked Him to do?” After all, if He CAN, why doesn’t He? When you and I know what God knows about any given situation, then we can criticize the way He handles something. We somehow thing that since something is URGENT to us, it ought to be URGENT to God. The truth of the matter is that we are often controlled by the tyranny of the urgent. Now look at Isaiah’s whole phrase: “they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength … ” God’s goal may be bigger than our goal. He may want something far better for us than we have ever imagined.

Waiting gives us perspective: “they shall mount up with wings as eagles”. Have you ever seen something from an eagle’s perspective? Waiting gives us stamina: “they shall run, and not be weary”. Sometimes we just need the stamina to “keep on keeping on.” Waiting provides something we can get from no other experience: “they shall walk, and not faint.” There are days when walking brings me to a place of total exhaustion. God says that when I learn to wait on Him, I will be ABLE to walk and not faint. That is a goal worth achieving. So, read the verse one more time. Think about seeing things from the eagle’s perspective. Think about the stamina you will gain as you wait. Think about just “keeping on” in your walk with God. Just my thoughts …

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What an Awesome God!

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1.17

Every one I know, including myself, likes to receive gifts. James encourages us with this powerful statement: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above … ” Is your mind racing like mine is right now? I am thinking about the good gift(s) and the perfect gift that I have received from my Heavenly Father. I do not wish to be simplistic or redundant, but here are some of the gifts that I have received from God: (1) life itself, (2) eternal life, (3) the health to serve Him each day, (4) a wife whom I love dearly, (5) children who have brought so much joy to my life, (6) grandchildren and great grandchildren that are a bonus from God, (7) a wonderful church in which to serve, (8) a job that allows me at my age to continue serving God, and the list is almost endless.

I want to come now to the perfect gift that is from above. The only perfect gift I have ever received is the person of Jesus Christ. I must never question His perfection. To do so is to put myself in a place of weakened faith. When there is a question regarding something that God does through His Son, the question is on my end because God’s way is perfect (Psalm 18.30).

Notice how James describes God in these phrases: (1) the Father of lights, (2) God is not variable, and (3) God does not cast a changing shadow. One translation says this: “he never changes or casts shifting shadows.” In other words, whatever God does, He does well, with no attempt to deceive or trick us, and He is not changeable. That is the kind of God I want to know more intimately. How about you? Just my thoughts …

Watch the Salt!

Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. (6) Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Colossians 4.5-6

How do we walk in wisdom and how do we redeem the time? And who are “them that are without”? Walking in wisdom indicates that we think about where we walk, how we walk, and why we walk there. You’ve probably heard the expression, “He walks like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.” You can be sure that cat knows where his tail is all the time in relationship to the rocking chairs. Since we know others are watching, it makes good sense to walk in a way that does not do damage to the kingdom of God. We need to make good use of the time God gives us. Whatever time we waste can never be reclaimed. Parents often challenge their children with the command, “Don’t waste your time”, but do we fall into the trap of wasting precious time because we do not allow the Holy Spirit to direct our every step?

This next verse may be more powerful than we realize. Our speech needs two things: (1) to be always be spoken with grace, and (2) to be seasoned with salt. When we speak with grace, we guard the character of our words, realizing the value they may have to others. This phrase “seasoned with salt” takes our speech to a different level. When you put salt on something, it changes everything. When I realize that my speech has the potential to change everything, I certainly want what I say to be glorifying to God. How ought we to respond to every man? In a Christ-honoring, God-glorifying way. That will keep us busy today. Just my thoughts …

Submit – Resist – Draw Near! It Works!

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (8) Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” James 4.7-8

There are three very powerful words used here that are significant for us: (1) submit, (2) resist, and (3) draw nigh. The one thing that marks James’ epistle apart from the others in one sense is its practicality. He cuts right to the chase on so many issues that are prevalent in the believer’s walk with the Lord.

Submit – in the simplest possible terms, quit arguing with God. Either He knows what is best or He doesn’t. If He doesn’t, then don’t submit. But if (since) He does, then we need to stop arguing with Him and give full voluntary submission. Until I do that, I can’t do the next thing James mentions with any degree of success. Everyone of us wants the devil to flee from us, but we must first resist him. That is only possible once I have submitted myself to the Lord. When Satan flees from us, it is not a once-for-all event. He will be back. We will need to keep on resisting him and that requires that we keep on submitting to God.

Draw nigh to God … this needs to be a daily experience for us. How do we do this? We take down the barriers that separate us from God. This goes back to the concept of submitting to God. When I am not arguing with God, I can allow those barriers to go away and I can draw near to Him. When He draws near to me, I become aware of His presence. It is not a “mystical” something. It is the very sense of His presence. Psalm 16.11 reminds us: “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” Let’s listen to James. Let’s do what he says. Let’s enjoy the benefits of submitting, resisting, and drawing near. Just my thoughts …

Watch It!

He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.” Proverbs 13.3

When I was growing up, there were two maxims that were repeated to me over and over: (1) Children are to be seen and not heard, and (2) speak when spoken to. I know those two thoughts don’t fit every occasion, but as a child I soon learned there was a time to speak and a time to be quiet.

We have all been around people who were so in love with the sound of their voice they didn’t know when not to talk. I believe that is the type of person Solomon is describing in the last phrase of this verse. It is so easy to destroy relationships with hasty words that should never have been spoken. Can you remember a time when you said something and wished you could take it back, but it was too late? I certainly can.

Let’s focus for a moment on this phrase: “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life … ” When speaking of keeping your life, we are talking about your influence, your ability to interact with people. So, what does it mean to keep your mouth? When one keeps his mouth, he guards every word that comes out of his mouth. That means that we think about every word before we say it. Such an attitude requires constant focus. It requires that we give up the idea of simply saying whatever feels good and hope no body gets offended. It requires that the Holy Spirit approve my conversation, word by word. So here is the challenge for us all today. Let’s covenant with God to keep our mouth so that we can keep our life and thus keep our influence. Just my thoughts …

Grace … What a Teacher!

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, (12) Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” Titus 2.11-12

“ … the grace of God … (is) teaching us … ” There is no better teacher than grace. There is no greater truth than grace. So, we need to listen when grace speaks. So what is grace teaching us? (1) To deny ungodliness in our lives. In our heads we know that we need to do that. Sometimes in our hearts we are not so sure. We seem to entertain thoughts of ungodliness at Satan’s suggestion. Grace says don’t. (2) We are to deny worldly lusts. Again, this is something we know in our heads but there are times when our hearts are drawn (for whatever reason) to worldly lust. Again, grace is teaching us don’t. Then grace says (3) to live soberly. The word sober here means serious, sensible, and solemn. In light of eternity, how can we choose to live any other way? Then grace says (4) to live righteously. Righteous living is right living. Most of us don’t have a problem determining right from wrong but there are times when we do struggle with choosing right rather than wrong. Grace says live righteously. Finally, grace says (5) to live godly. When you see someone who is living for God, you can tell by his or her choices, attitude, responses and behavior. When others look at your life, what do they see? What can they tell from your choices, attitude, responses and behavior? I want others to be able to see the fruit of God’s work in my life by the choices I make, the attitude I display, the responses I display to any given situation, and my behavior toward others. Do I always get it right? Absolutely not! Do I always want to get it right? Absolutely! By the way, why is this so important? Because we are living “in this present world” and they need to see God at work in us. Let’s work on this together! Just my thoughts …

Don’t Trick Yourself!

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (8) For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Galatians 6.7-8

Sowing and reaping is a principle that is unchangeable. We are cautioned here against “sowing to the flesh”. What does it mean to sow to the flesh? It seems that so many of God’s children think they can live any way they want – sow whatever crop they want – and then pray for a crop failure. The doctrine of eternal security is not a license to live anyway we choose. The truth that we are saved eternally does not give us permission to simply “sow to the flesh”. “ … whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” The principle doesn’t change because we are saved eternally. The concept that Paul is espousing here is that when we live in such a reckless manner, we are mocking God and God will not be mocked. His caution to us is “Be not deceived; God is not mocked …

The way to a life of spiritual enrichment is to “sow to the Spirit”. Sowing is a deliberate step to accomplish a specific purpose. Our daily purpose should be to have our lives so enriched by God’s Holy Spirit that everything we say and do would bring glory to our Heavenly Father. That would certainly qualify as sowing to the Spirit. Such a daily lifestyle does not occur accidentally. It comes because we purpose to do it. Let me challenge each one of us to such a lifestyle – one whose sole purpose is to glorify God by sowing to the Spirit. We will be blessed. The world will notice. And God will be glorified. Just my thoughts …

You Can Do It!

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost pat of the earth. ” Acts 1.8

This is one of those verses that everybody knows because we have heard it read or quoted so often. But the danger is that we have become too familiar with the command and it no longer holds significance for us. Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the uttermost parts of the earth … what do those words really mean to us? Jesus was speaking to His disciples and Jerusalem was where they lived. Judea was a surrounding area. Samaria was an adjacent area that they all knew. And we all understand the uttermost part of the earth.

I believe there are three key thoughts here: (1) ye shall receive power, (2) the Holy Spirit is going to give you that power, and (3) as the result of receiving that power you shall be witnesses unto Christ. So, here is the question … have you received the Holy Spirit, and if you have, when did you receive Him? Everyone who is a child of God has received the Holy Spirit. He is not someone who comes into our lives at a separate time apart from our salvation experience. He indwells us at the moment of our salvation. That thought carries a number of ramifications: (1) We are blessed to have His presence within us. (2) He becomes our teacher. (3) He also becomes the One who will correct us when we begin to stray. But this verse emphasizes one more truth. He will empower us to be a witness about the One He came to represent. Are we a willing witness or a reluctant witness? What do others learn about Christ when they see us? What about our lives is a witness to them? Think about it! Just my thoughts …

Something New Everyday!

A new commandment I give to you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (35) By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13.34-35

… love one another … ” Have you ever thought, “How can I love someone I don’t even like?” We do it all the time. Let’s parse a word here. We don’t “like” people’s actions. That doesn’t mean we can love them for who they are. We don’t like some of the things our children or our siblings or our friends do, but we still love them. Let’s begin to look beyond the actions of others and see them as God wants us to see them, part of the family of God. You say, “Man, that’s tough.” Well, take a look at these words: “That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” When God chose to love me, it was an act of His will, not an act of His emotion. You and I can choose to love others as an act of our will, laying our emotional involvement aside.

Why is this principle so important? Because Jesus said, “By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Have you ever heard someone say something like, “I’m not going to that church. They hate each other”? Friend, if you think the world is not watching how God’s people interact with one another, think again. If we want them to fall in love with Jesus, they need to see that we love one another. We don’t need to put on a show or pretend something that isn’t true. We need to get alone with God and forgive those we say we can’t love and ask God to help us love them with the same spirit with which He chose to love us. Just my thoughts …

Will We Do Our Part?

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7.14

I wish I could count the number of times I have heard the verse quoted, or quoted it myself, or heard someone preach a message from it. Although we know it was written to God’s Old Testament people, we also know that God has a message for us in the verse.

I doubt that anyone reading this would not agree with the statement that OUR land needs healing. A simple newscast, the front page of any newspaper, or a conversation with a friend soon reveals that sin abounds on every hand. We often hear the cry in our churches for God’s people to pray for America. And I agree that we need to pray for America (or whatever country in which you reside). But I want us to see what God requires of us in order to heal our land.

There are four particular things that are named in this verse: (1) humble ourselves, (2) pray, (3) seek God’s face, and (4) turn from our wicked ways. I don’t hear a lot of talk about Christians humbling themselves. Maybe we are uncomfortable with the concept. Maybe we don’t know how or maybe we don’t know what it means. We may think, “Well, I only need to humble myself if I think I am arrogant.” No, I need to humble myself because of Who God is and who I am in His sight. When we talk about praying, do we begin with self and move on from there, or is our focus only on the sins and needs of others? What does it mean to you to seek God’s face? That is more than a “figure of speech.” That is an action on my part that causes me to realize that my actions, my attitude, and everything about me is operating in the very presence of the Sovereign Redeemer. I don’t think we need anyone to remind us what it means to turn from our wicked ways. We just need to do it. Everything else in the equation is up to God. When we do our part, I have no doubt that He will do His part. Just my thoughts …