Bring It On!

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (2) By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (3) And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; (4) And patience, experience; and experience, hope: (5) And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Romans 5.1-5

The opening phrase in these verses makes everything else in the verses below them possible. For example: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God … ” Once we have been justified by faith, and we have peace with God, when tribulations come (v. 3) we can handle them, knowing that nothing can shake our justification – our standing before God. That amazing peace that the world cannot understand allows us to handle tribulations without falling apart. It is true that tribulation works patience, because when tribulation comes, we must learn to wait on God to do what only He can do to bring deliverance in our tribulation.

Look at the progression of spiritual growth here: (1) tribulation, (2) patience, (3) experience, (4) hope, and all of these make us “not ashamed … ” Everything we experience in this process of tribulation is a learning experience. We see exactly what God can do and what He will do. And those experiences lead us to hope. We can look to that hope when the next situation occurs and remember that God showed up the last time. There is no reason for us to think that He will not do it again.

Now look at this last phrase: “because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” When you and I acknowledge and accept God’s love and realize that we live each day in the presence of that love, then we can handle anything life chooses to throw at us. Just my thoughts …

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Let It Shine! Let It Shine! Let It Shine!

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (10) If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1.8-10

If you are like me, you don’t like to talk about sin. But the truth of the matter is we know we are sinners. John speaks pretty clearly about it: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Usually our problem is not that there is not the presence of sin in our lives at any given time, but the problem is in realizing the need for the truth of verse 9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins … ” Confession of sin is such a crucial part of our walk with God. It has nothing to do with whether or not Christ paid for our sins on the cross. It has everything to do with our daily fellowship with God. Confession means that we agree with God that what He calls sin we call sin. The sooner we come to that realization in our lives, the easier it is to confess our sin and have our fellowship with God restored.

Inherent in confession is the truth of this next phrase: “to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Regular cleansing from God means that He has a vessel that He can use for His glory. He will not use a dirty vessel through which to let the light of the gospel shine. A clean vessel is what God will choose every time. I want my life to be a vessel that God can use – always. I believe that is what you want too! Just my thoughts …

Ultimate Protection

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.” Isaiah 54.17

As God’s servant, we have a promise from God that is unequaled. “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper … ” Satan certainly uses a number of weapons against God’s children. He will use anything at his disposal to attack one of God’s children. We cannot stop the attacks of Satan but we don’t have to be overcome by them. The realization that Satan will not, cannot win should give us the encouragement we need to move on through the onslaughts of the Evil One. Peter reminds us: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour: (9) Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. (10) But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” 1 Peter 5.8-10)

“ … every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn.” Often times the attacks on us may come from other people. While it is sad that believers may attack other believers, that kind of behavior is to be condemned. We may also be attacked by those who are not believers. We cannot allow those attacks to succeed is throwing us off track in our service for God.

I love the last phrase of this verse: “This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.” I love the phrase, “God’s Got This!” It may seem like an oversimplification of the issues we face, but it is the truth: God’s Got This! Amen! Just my thoughts …

What a Deal!

When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” Isaiah 43.2

Have you ever just wanted to sit down across the table from God and say something like, “OK God. I don’t get it. Just when I thought I could count on you, it felt to me like you weren’t there. I don’t understand.” I have felt that way a number of times in my life. Then when I read the verse above, I hear God speaking to me.

When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee … ” God doesn’t say just in case something comes us, just know that I will be there. He says,When … ” We are GOING to pass through troubling waters. It is called life and it often has a capital “L”. t simply looms up before us. You know what God said? “I will be with thee … ” The emphasis is on the word “will”. We may not be able to count on anyone else, but we can count on God. These next words convey the same truth: “and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.

There is a difference in water and fire. Fire causes an intense kind of pain. Some events in our lives cause intense pain. Here is what God says: “when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned … ” Again it is when and not if. Most will remember the story of the three Hebrew children and their experience in the fiery furnace of Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel 3.27: “And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor had the smell of fire passed on them.” The next time you think you can’t trust God with a fiery situation in your life, just remember the three Hebrew children and God’s deliverance of them from the fire. Just my thoughts …

Suffering? Why Not?

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8.18

Suffering – this is a word that none of us likes to use, but it is something that all of us experience at some time in our lifetime. Suffering isn’t always physical. Sometimes it takes the form of emotional or mental suffering. Whatever its form, it is still suffering.

Romans 8 is one of the most significant chapters in the Bible. Paul addresses so many important issues in this chapter. So it is no surprise that he addresses the issue of suffering. “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time … ” Paul makes the assumption that we will suffer in this present time. Is it too simplistic to say that we live in a fallen world and much of the suffering we experience is simply the result of being in this world? I don’t think so. So often I hear believers blame God for their sickness or the circumstance that has brought about suffering. When my body gets sick, I don’t automatically assume God made me sick. When I am experiencing emotional duress, I don’t assume God created the conflict. Let’s keep suffering in perspective. It will come to all of us. It is only for a season. And God does not forsake us in our time of suffering.

Then Paul says that our suffering is “not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” I once read an illustration of a man who said that when he died, he wanted them to put a fork in his hand in the casket. Why someone asked why, he replied, “Because the best is yet to come!” Friend, the best IS yet to come. It is that glory which shall be revealed in us. That’s all I know about it. That’s all anybody knows about it. But, it is coming and we will get through our suffering so we can experience the glory. Just my thoughts …

To Whom Are You Looking!

 

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (34) Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. ” Matthew 6.33-34

How can such a simply declaration of truth be so difficult for us to believe and put into practice? I’m sure we have all heard this verse quoted or we have read it many times over. Yet we continually trouble ourselves over the things of the morrow. Don’t forget these words: “for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.” The counsel Jesus gives His followers is this: “seek me today, now … I am here. Let me add the things you need to your life today. Remember, I will also take care of tomorrow when it gets here.”

Let’s go back to the opening words: “Seek first … ” The biblical protocol for dealing with any issue is found in these words. Seek God first. The reason that is so important is because it changes our focus from our problem to the only One who can solve our problem. It may seem like I hammer this concept a lot in my blogs, but it is such an all-important concept.

It may help us to take note of what “all these things” are. “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or Where withal shall we be clothed.” (V. 31) (I might also add, Where shall I live?) The totality of the needs of your life and mine are held securely in the hands of this loving God who has promised to meet our needs, no matter what they are. Remember that not one of your needs is bigger than your God. He made the universe. He made you, and He will handle your need. Just my thoughts …

He’s Watching!

Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy.” Psalm 33.18

When my kids were small, if we were at the mall my wife or I would say to them, “Walk in front of us, so we can keep an eye on you.” It is comforting to know that “the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him … ” The simple truth that God is watching us all the time should certainly cause careful thought about our behavior. Sometimes when a child does something that seems a little crazy or down right dumb, the parent calls them on it and their response is, “I couldn’t help it.” This response means that they didn’t think about their behavior and the consequence it would bring. So for us it is a matter of continual focus. Since I KNOW God is watching, what would He want me to do in this particular situation? You may be thinking that such a process takes too much time, but let me ask, “Who is it that your are serving? Self? Or your Heavenly Father?” The answer should be obvious but it isn’t always.

It might be a good idea to ask ourselves if we fear the Lord, or if we hope in His mercy. Those are the two criteria mentioned in the verse above. I don’t doubt that God sees the actions of all, but the verse specifically states that He watches those that fear Him and who hope in His mercy. Just a reminder, when I fear Him, I literally stand in awe of Who He is. THAT realization is life changing. And then for me to hope in His mercy means that I do not want to get what I deserve (the definition of mercy) but that I am casting myself on His limitless grace. Just to remind myself of these things brings a more refined focus to my life today. Just my thoughts …

Watch It!

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (30) And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4.29-30

One of the things that troubles me is hearing Christ-followers who have been saved for some time say things that could be called “corrupt communication.” Paul reminds us in these verses that our speech should be “good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” When something I say or the manner in which I say it does not edify the one who is listening, I have just sinned. So what does edifying mean? The word edify literally means to “build the house of another.” The very PURPOSE of our words is to build up others. It would seem to me that this truth would put a restraint on some of the things we say to others “just because we can.” “Just because I can” doesn’t mean I should.

Verse 30 is a vital reminder to us of the One Who lives within: “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” When you and I received Christ, the Holy Spirit moved into our lives. We can never go anywhere without Him and we can never say anything that He does not hear. When we do say something that is corrupt communication the Holy Spirit is grieved. We do not lose our salvation because we have been “sealed unto the day of redemption”, but the Holy Spirit’s ministry in us and to us is halted. At this point, confession of what we have done to grieve Him is in order so that He can be restored to His rightful place in our lives. May we be mindful of what we say and how we say it as we live this day for Him. Just my thoughts …

God is the Real Deal!

There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.” 1 Samuel 2.2

During the time that I have been in ministry, I have seen a lot of things that have been spoken of as holy. Not sure they were all actually holy, but someone said they were. So when I read the opening words of the verse above, it speaks a great truth: “There is none holy as the Lord … ” I have visited a number of mission fields and seen the sights of “holy” temples but there was nothing alive in there – no god that could speak or answer any prayer, or come to the aid of one who called on him, because there was nothing holy there.

Not only is our God holy, but “there is none beside thee … ” There are many copycats and statues but there is none like our God. He is unique in that He always was and He always will be. His uniqueness lies in His ability to interact with His children every day. He HEAR our prayers and He ANSWERS our prayers. Some would say, “He never answered my prayer.” But I would say, “He never answered your prayer the way you wanted Him to.” There is a difference. God’ doesn’t always do what we WANT, but He always does what is BEST.

Finally, “neither is there any rock like our God.” Whatever else you know about a rock, you know it never changes. One of the major insurance companies likes itself to the Rock of Gibraltar. That is a pretty substantial image. Our rock does not change. The God you and I could count on yesterday is still worthy of being counted on today. And, He will be that same God tomorrow Who is able to be counted on. The truth that allows us to face each day with absolute certainty is that truth that we have a God Who is unchanging because neither is there any rock like our God. Just my thoughts …

Let God Hold Your Hand

For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” Isaiah 41.13

Remember when one of your parents would say to you, “Let me hold your hand”? Their purpose was to protect you from something you could not see, or help you not be afraid of something you did see. Well, your heavenly Father says to you, “I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand … ” We should be moved by God’s desire to provide such intimate protection for us. He sees what we don’t see and He knows what we don’t know so He wants to hold our hand. And why? He is saying to us, “Fear not … ” His concern is to alleviate our fear. I read this morning a powerful statement: “Fear is all about us and faith is all about Him.” Faith moves our focus from our fear to our Father.

God is also saying something else to us when He holds our hand. It is this: “I will help thee.” Sometimes it is difficult for us to come to the realization that we cannot help ourselves in a particular situation and the only one who can help us is our Heavenly Father. It is not a sign of weakness to admit that we need God’s help. Quite the contrary, it is a sign of wisdom to know when we must have God’s help.

When we live our lives with the understanding of how much God wants to hold our hands and to protect us from situations that bring us fear, then we are willing to release not only our day to Him, but also every possible event that could occur that day. That sounds simplistic, but it is far from simple. Let God be the object of your focus today. Let Him hold your hand and do not be afraid. Just my thoughts …