Need To Be Re-Energized? Trust In God

963546_46343903Weariness, tiredness, lack of motivation, we all struggle with it from time to time. Many things can push us to the point of weariness, things such as: unanswered prayer, doubt and physical disabilities. All of these can lead us to become discouraged spiritually and weary physically. When we’re in a weakened state it can be tempting to give up, but God is omniscient. He know’s all our limitations and weaknesses. He wants to become your strength when you have no strength. He wants to become your hope when you feel hopeless. He wants for you to trust him and take him at his word. He is strong and when we trust in God we will become strong in Him and our strength will be renewed.

Isaiah 40:29-31

He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who 
trust in the Lord will find new strength.

They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.

Are You Feeling Unlucky? Consider This

834640_88057651Are you feeling unlucky? I touched on the topic of luck and its role in the life of a believer in my post “Good Luck, No God Bless.” As I wrote that post I reflected on what lucky means for Christians. I’d written that post before I’d started reading a wonderful book that really got me thinking deeper about luck and how we view those that are considered lucky in our society. Given the trials I’ve endured over the past two years, some people would probably say that I’m unlucky. Heck, if I were on the outside looking in at my own life I’d most likely surmise that I’d been unlucky as well. It easy to feel that way, when you get one blow after another you can come to the conclusion that you’re gonna be knocked out of the fight. Not a lucky feeling. Not only that, you may feel like the last person or the most unlikely person that God would ever use. But we of the faith need to redefine what luck really is, in light of eternity. Even as I type this, I’m well aware that it’s easy for me to say this because I’m enjoying my life. I’ve had a lot of trials true and I still have some residing issues, but I’m able to do all I want. I have a very good life. If the residual vertigo problems I have continue, even throughout the rest of my life, I am fortunate as compared to some. Fortunate in this lifetime. So what makes someone unlucky? Am I unlucky?1013752_95503215 If I were confined to a wheelchair it would be much harder than to simply deal with feeling bad on occasion. So am I luckier than someone with greater limitations? Maybe in this life I am, but our luck is found in what’s to come and the comfort that has already come. The comfort of Christ living in us, is a reminder of that which will be, when the kingdom of God will rule on the earth in its fullness. Even if our lives are not what we had anticipated, we that have put our hope in Jesus are lucky. For it’s we who will inherit eternal life and that far surpasses any temporary earthly pleasures this life can offer. We also have comfort that comes from God. Those that feel lucky in this life are the ones that are really unlucky, because they haven’t felt their need of a Savior. Therefore they do not have what Christ has given us. They only have their self sufficiency.1176741_68006109.Revelation 3:17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. The people who feel self-sufficient and not in need are the unlucky ones. Radical huh? The book I’m reading challenged me to think differently about those that are considered lucky and unlucky in our society.

“Lucky: How the Kingdom Comes To Unlikely People” by Glenn Packiam. Highly recommended. As a side note Mr. Packiam is the writer of a well-known praise and worship song titled “Your Name”.

Here’s an excerpt from his book.

Victory has started to unfold. Comfort is coming. Indeed it has come. Imagine that a man takes you to a junkyard covered with rusted metal and decomposing parts, littered with paper bags and used up cups. Imagine that he tells you that this very ground will be a beautiful garden. “No way,” you say. “This place is covered with trash and refuse. This is a junkyard, not a garden.” “True,” the man says. “it is a junkyard now. But I just bought it and will make it a garden. In fact, I’ve already started my work.”

“What?” you say. “It looks the same as it did last week. How is anything different?” The many gently replies, “I have already planted some flowers.” “Where>” you ask. “I don’t see anything.” But its work is beneath the soil. Suddenly he points to a green shoot breaking through the earth. “Look! There it is. I planted that recently. There is a small sign of what is coming.”

The Wrestling Match

862415_58406763Job did it, Jacob did it, Jonah did it and we do it. Many, if not all of the people in the Bible have wrestled with God’s will. Job wanted to die, but God didn’t take him. Jacob wanted to rule, but God showed Jacob he was in charge. Jonah wanted to hate, but God said to love. We want our way and we don’t always get it. We don’t always like that which God allows or asks of us. What mother of a sick child delights in their child’s sickness? Who asks for declining health or loss of employment? These events can come upon us like a whirlwind. Can’t wait to talk to Job about his whirlwind one day. What about the unforeseen accident that renders you helpless or lifeless? The out of nowhere pink slip that leaves you wondering “where did I mess up?” Why do we react so strongly against what God is allowing in our lives? Why do we wrestle with what we know God is telling or asking us to do?

Fear, plain and simple. The all to familiar feeling that makes you sweat and hits you right in the gut. We fear that God is making a mistake. We’re afraid that we can’t handle or cope with what He’s allowed in our lives. We fear the process of change because we don’t like to hurt and change usually hurts. It’s just not easy. When we’re asked to change we have to move from familiarity to faith, as we tally up the costs we may determine we just can’t pay the price. It’s too high. “You’re asking me to go, do and accept what?” Fill in the blank. What comes to your mind? Besides the fear, we just like to have things our way. Life isn’t like a burger joint, where you decide you don’t want pickles and they’re instantly removed. No pickles for you or you just won’t buy that burger. Wrong! We don’t always get to pick and choose what happens to us. We struggle against the thought of having to eat pickles, because after all you’ve never liked pickles and it’s just ruining your burger. Enough about pickles. I actually like them, but you get my point. We want to stay wrapped up in our own cocoon of comfort. The cocoon of safety and familiarity will become a prison if we stay there too long. It will keep us from evolving from a caterpillar to a glorious butterfly. The fact is our life is like the weather. As they say in Tennessee “stick around long enough and it will change.” Did you catch that? I’ll repeat it, because I need to hear this myself. Your life is like the weather, stick around long enough and it will change. Oh, there are some things that never change. God never changes. The rising and setting of the sun never changes. The flow of the tide hasn’t changed and the fact of aging and death still eventually affect us all. Life though is mostly ever-changing. Even the skin cells on your body regenerate constantly. Even though God does not change, He’s in the changing business. In fact I believe He likes it. God’s all about change, changing us. Henry Blackaby stated in his book Experiencing God,  “You can’t stay the way you are and go with God.” We are called to change. God delights in our changing. We can’t be set free until we go through the process of releasing that which binds us. We can’t experience a renewed mind unless we go through the renewing process of replacing old thoughts, with new ones and that involves change. Change doesn’t happen overnight, so if we’re gonna serve a God that loves change we’ve got to be willing to accept change ourselves. Even when our heart is crying out, “No, no, no!” It’s not supposed to be this way. Who are we to question God? We are to submit our requests to Him, going confidently before the throne, I’ll be praying right along with you, but pray mostly for God’s will and your heart to be in agreement with His.

Our Pastor recently addressed a group of us at my church about an upcoming change that seemed to come about rather suddenly. Our “whirlwind”. He alluded to the fact that we have a false sense of control in our lives and it’s so true. We make our plans as if we by the making of them can override God’s. Sometimes things will go our way and we will be healed or be blessed in some way but,often times we won’t get what we ask for. Or if we do get an answer it’s different from what we had expected. We’re only kidding ourselves if we think we have control of our lives. We can’t even will our next breath. As painstaking as it is at times we need to let go and let God! If we don’t we may end up like Jonah, in the belly of a fish! We don’t have to like all that God allows. God understands our hurts and He feels them as well. We need to know that despite the pain we are we are growing. Our growing pains will mature us to be more Christlike. God in His infinite wisdom knows what’s best. Trusting Him and believing in faith that He is in control and truly loves us will bring our hearts to peace and then we will step away from the wrestling match of our will against God’s. God’s guidance and providence is stronger than we are and the sooner we realize that the better off we’ll be.

Sacrifice: What Does it Mean?

1285084_29015581In honor of Memorial Day and those that have sacrificed so much, I wanted to look at the word “sacrifice” in greater detail. Using an online dictionary, the closest definition of the word sacrifice as related to those that have served our country is this:

“Destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else.”

Our men and women of the Armed Forces agreed to surrender their lives for the freedom we have here in the U.S.A, and those that have lost their lives paid the ultimate price. I’m so thankful for all that have served and are serving today. It’s truly not without cost. The cost is very high- you may die in battle or you may suffer in your relationships. Destruction of the family unit, alcoholism or other addictions are frequent with those that have served. Many are emotionally scared and physically disabled for the freedom that we enjoy.1411635_57097477

Jesus know’s about sacrifice. He died for all of mankind. He laid down his life willingly. He was beaten beyond recognition. He ended life at the age of 33. Jesus knows about dying for freedom, because that’s why He died, for our freedom, to free us from sins grasp. He overcame the grave and defeated our foe, Satan. We are called to sacrifice as He did. Not necessarily by dying, although many have, but we to be a living sacrifices for the Lord. Look at this passage from Romans 12:1-2. 

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Paul is addressing the Roman Church and it is also a message to present day believers as well. Paul uses the word sacrifice. We are to be living sacrifices. In this way we are worshiping the Lord. Sacrifice in this passage is translated in Strong’s Lexicon #G2378 thysia: it’s primary mean is “to offer up to the Lord”..

Am I offering up to the Lord my life? All my desires, my goals and my plans? I hope you asked yourself that along with me. It’s not easy to be a living sacrifice. It’s never easy to release our goals, plans and desires, but it’s worth it. Just as we thank those that honored our country, if we live for the Lord He will one day say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant”. And I say to those that have served, “I thank you for what you’ve given and all that entails. Happy Memorial Day.”

Grace: God’s Gift

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For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast. Eph 2:8-9

  • G – God’s 
  • R- Riches
  • A- At
  • C- Christ’s 
  • E- Expense

Our loving Father has shown us his grace by pardoning us from the punishment we deserve. It’s by God’s grace that we are saved, for we didn’t deserve to be, yet He so graciously sent Jesus to die for us, allowing Christ to be a substitution for us. If God is so gracious we need to remember to show grace to others, and in this way we will be more like our Heavenly Father and that pleases Him greatly. Not to mention that when we walk in grace we will have a big impact on the world for Christ. It’s a harder walk, but with the Holy Spirit as our guide we can be beacons of grace and a light  to a world that needs to see God in us.

How To Be Free From Sin’s Grasp

credited to Ramiz Hashisho stock.xchng

“If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32

What type of freedom is this scripture from the book of John alluding to?  What is this passage telling me? I decided to dig deeper today and do a study on this passage.The  word continue will be my starting point. Continue in its original Greek form is meno.

  1. to remain, abide
    1. in reference to place
      1. to sojourn, tarry
      2. not to depart 1a
    2. to continue to be present 1a
    3. to be held, kept, continually *
    4. in reference to time
      1. to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure 1b
    5. of persons, to survive, live
    6. in reference to state or condition
      1. to remain as one, not to become another or different
  2. to wait for, await one

* I especially like that remaining is to be held or kept continually.

On to the next interesting word. How about truth. What does it mean here in the original Greek form? The word truth in this passage is translated as aletheia.

  1. objectively
    1. what is true in any matter under consideration
      1. truly, in truth, according to truth
      2. of a truth, in reality, in fact, certainly
    2. what is true in things appertaining to God and the duties of man, moral and religious truth
      1. in the greatest latitude
      2. the true notions of God which are open to human reason without his supernatural intervention
    3. the truth as taught in the Christian religion, respecting God and the execution of his purposes through Christ, and respecting the duties of man, opposing alike to the superstitions of the Gentiles and the inventions of the Jews, and the corrupt opinions and precepts of false teachers even among Christians
  1. subjectively
    1. truth as a personal excellence
      1. that candour of mind which is free from affection, pretence, simulation, falsehood, deceit

On to the next important word free. The word free translated is eleutheroo.

1. to make free .

2. set at liberty; from the dominion of sin.

I see that the word free means set at liberty from the dominion of sin. Let’s look further into the word dominion. What does the word dominion mean? From Webster’s online dictionary.

1: domain

2: supreme authority: sovereignty

3 plural: an order of angels- see celestial hierarchy
often capitalized : a self-governing nation of the Commonwealth of Nations other than the United Kingdom that acknowledges the British monarch as chief of state
5 absolute ownership
What a scary thought. That sin could have absolute ownership of us!
 
So here’s my take on this verse:
If I continue (meno) in God’s word by keeping it in my heart, abiding in it daily and not departing from it and allowing it to transform me into Christ’s image, I am His disciple. I will then know the truth (aletheia). My knowing the truth (aletheia) in things pertaining to God will result in my freedom (eleutheroo) from the dominion of sin. My knowledge of things pertaining to God will give me victory over the bondage of sin.credited to Anton Belovodchenko at stock.xchng.com
One thing I must point out here is the work of the Holy Spirit. Upon conversion, when a person accepts Christ as their Lord and Savior the Holy Spirit then indwells them. By God’s grace He gives us the Holy Spirit to teach us all things pertaining to Himself. We could never understand scripture if it weren’t for the gift of the Holy Spirit. So it’s through the Holy Spirit that we can continue and abide in God’s word and therefore know the truth, which in turn releases us from the bondage of sin. It’s all because of God’s grace.

Learning To Be Patient

58600_4561For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.

Psalm 90:4

Instant gratification. We all want it. We expect things to happen quickly. If our internet access takes longer than we’ve become accustomed to, it ticks us off doesn’t it? We become impatient so easy, and with little meaningless things. It’s easy to let our impatient attitude spill over into our relationship with God. We need to remind ourselves that God’s timing is different from ours. If we don’t get an answer when we expect to we shouldn’t feel that God’s holding something back from us or not listening to our prayers, it’s just not true. As long as we are in right relationship with him and not harboring sin, he hears us. God has good things planned for us, His children. God is loving and patient and not in a hurry. Why would he be in a hurry to accomplish something in our lives? God already knows what He’s ordained to happen will happen. God chooses to work gradually growing our character to match His sons. Our learning to wait on God and trust in His timing is a life long lesson. I suppose like young children, we need to be taught over and over again, until we get it. When we learn to “wait” on God we will reap a beautiful reward of peace and patience and those virtues are worth all the waiting in the world.. 384110_4480

Happiness or Joy- Which Would You Choose?

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Have you heard about the “Happiness Revolution”? It’s a hot topic, for sure! Just browse any book store and you’ll see countless shelves filled with the topic of happiness, how to attain it, attract it, keep it and develop it. There are even television shows about happiness. Just Google “happiness” and see what you find. I did as I was thinking about writing this post today. Happiness is  apparently on everyone’s mind. So what does the Bible say about happiness? Here’s one passage on blessedness, which to my understanding would mean happiness.

Psalm 1:1-2 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take  or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,  and who meditates on his law day and night.

Here, we’re told some of the things to avoid doing and some things we should do that will make us blessed or happy.

  • not walking in the counsel of the ungodly.
  • not standing in the path of sinners.
  • not sitting in the seat of the scornful.
  • delighting in the law of the Lord.
  • meditating on God’s law day and night.

Here’s a scripture on joy

Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.” Psalm 34:51386581_51264205

Experiencing joy is different from happiness. Joy is an internal feeling that isn’t based on any external happening.  In other words, you may be experiencing a difficult situation such as; financial pressure, physical ailments or grief, yet you have joy because  joy is an internal feeling and not related to the outer happenings or circumstances that you may find yourself in. If given the choice between joy or happiness, joy wins hands down. Trials will come, but joy will see you through.

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What I am anxious to see in Christian believers is a beautiful paradox. I want to see in them the joy of finding God while at the same time they are blessedly pursuing Him. I want to see in them the great joy of having God yet always wanting Him.” ~ A. W. Tozer

Clearing The Way To Know God’s Will

1341750_91353374Being in God’s will is a very popular topic of study for a lot of Christians. We all want to be where God wants us to be don’t we? I know  I wrestled with the will issue a lot as a new Christian. I remember struggling internally over different situations, not knowing which course to choose, fearful that I would somehow miss God’s will. Part of my problem was, I’d made so many wrong choices when I was living apart from God, that I felt unsure of myself.  Myself is the key word here.  I was depending more  on myself than on God to lead me. I had to learn to trust that God would guide me and that I didn’t need to depend on myself, to choose the right course of action. Nowadays when I’m praying about a situation or decision, I’ve come to know that God will indeed guide me. The main thing I need to do is, not jump back into the seat of authority. I hope these guide lines help you to hear God more clearly.

  1. Pray that you can discern what the Holy Spirit is telling you..
  2. Ask for God to reveal anything within your spirit that may lead you astray. (Example: sin, selfish gain or greed)
  3. Check to see if the situation is addressed in scripture.
  4. Test the answer against God’s word. It shouldn’t contradict.
  5. Seek out godly advice. Is the person you’re going to for advice consistently following and living a life for Christ?
  6. Ask for prayer
  7.  Make sure you are at peace. You may feel slightly nervous if God is asking you to step into something different, but peace will over-ride any nervousness you may have.

Sometimes it takes a while before you get an answer. The best thing to do it that situation is wait. 

A great bible study that I highly recommend is Experiencing God, Knowing and Doing the Will of God, by Henry Blackaby.

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Remaining Strong Despite Adversity

424248_13096405He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:8

 

I can visualize it now. A big beautiful tree planted by a stream. It’s lovely branches hanging over the bubbling stream, swaying like delicate lace gently in the wind. Sounds peaceful and inviting doesn’t it? This is the kind of tree you’d want to read and picnic under. This tree is beautiful! It has dark green lush leaves, not those ugly brown ones that are shriveled up, even during drought. Even during drought? Incredible! This tree doesn’t worry or fear when the heat comes. Fear or worry? Trees can’t fear or worry. What is this scripture saying? How does this relate to me?

Well let’s look at the preceding verse.

Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. Jeremiah 17:7

He in verse 8 is referring to those of us that trust and hope in the Lord. By trusting and hoping in the Lord our roots grow deep. We’re then able to stay strong during adversity. Notice it doesn’t say the tree had green leaves because it always rained – which for a tree is perfect weather. No, the scripture says even in drought it has green leaves. Always green leaves. Drought! That doesn’t sound very good does it? Especially a year of drought! A whole year without the benefits of refreshing, life-giving water flowing like manna. What a tree! Even though it’s not living in ease being watered frequently, It’s still bearing fruit! Matter of fact it NEVER fails to bear fruit!

We too can be remain fruitful and receive our daily nourishment from God’s word. His word will sustain us through our trials, tribulations and adversity. Adversity will come, but we can still bear fruit for the kingdom of God.  Trusting God and remaining in His word deepens our roots and grows a strong faith in us,  not shallow belief, but deep faith. What a lesson for us all.

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