Tag Archives: Encouragement

Connecting

1 Aug

Driving down a very busy road, I was trying to look at a text. I had driven a couple of miles, through several intersections  looking out the windshield, and back down at my phone.  I eventually snapped  back to the present moment, and realized I hadn’t been 100% attentive to my driving, the traffic, or how far I had traveled. That’s a scary thought.

I believe it’s the same way when someone I am talking to is looking at their phone. They know I am there, they see me, and they hear me – sort of, but their attention is divided, and truthfully, more concentrated on their electronics. Maybe others are better at multi-listening than I am.

We have gotten so infatuated with social media that instead of  looking in the eye of the person we are conversing with, we have to look at the top of their heads as they begin to converse with someone else on their phones or concentrate on whatever else has electronically distracted them. That kind of gives me a complex. I almost feel as though I am intruding .

We are human beings and though social media is wonderful for many reasons, it can also hinder relationships. We need one another. We need face to face interaction. The words we read in black and white are just that – words. We don’t see the expression that goes along with them which might cause us to misunderstand their intent. We don’t  hear the sound of the familiar voices we love or connect on a more personal level. True, we are busy people and there are many advantages to our being able to reach one another immediately through social media, but we also need the personal, one on one time together.

Our church, offers small groups called “Connect Groups”.  There are several small groups, according to attendance with new members joining along the way. I have been a member of my particular small group for a couple of years now. We meet one night a week for about six weeks at a time. We break for a few weeks and then come back together.

Our group facilitators email weekly “Talk It Over” sheets which are the basis for our discussions. We spend a few moments answering the discussion questions. When we meet, we begin our time together with refreshments and general conversation. We then turn to our Talk It Over outlines which begin with a couple of fun questions designed to help us get to know more about one another. We discuss the questions and passages of Scriptures from Pastor’s message on Sunday. It’s a great way to open the door for us to share our personal thoughts on the subject, or to ask questions if we don’t understand something.

There are facilitators for each group, but every member of the group has an opportunity to give their answer to a particular question or to ask about anything they don’t understand. It’s a powerful way of getting to know one another and the Scriptures at the same time. Everyone participates. When the class is over for the evening we leave having a much better understanding of what our Pastor taught us the previous Sunday – and we have fun doing it.

Although we do have great fun, we also share serious moments. We ask questions that have been burning in our hearts, we encourage and pray for one another, and just enjoy our time together. We laugh a lot. Our personalities begin to show as we begin to see one another as who we really are. We are no longer just another person sitting in a church pew on Sunday mornings.

I attended church just over a year  with casual smiles and greetings, but never really getting to know anyone, and leaving as lonely as I came. I was a disconnected member. We all know the feeling. We are alone in a crowd of people – watching others who are obviously part of the inner circle. We feel kind of left out and wish we felt more at ease.  After joining the weekly Connect Group, I  greet true friends on Sunday mornings with something to talk about  – we really know each other.

I’ve heard it said that if we want friendship we have to become a friend. It doesn’t happen instantly, and it’s not up to others, it’s up to us. We have to become a little vulnerable and let others in – let them know who we are.  It requires a small sacrifice of our time and effort.

I’m in my sixty’s – I’ve been a church member for a long, long time. I’ve served on the staff of several churches and led Bible Studies, Ladies Groups, Prayer Meetings, Seminars and many other church events. Connect Groups are not the same. They are unique and personal. I love being able to be a part of my church in this way.

Connecting face to face is important  and vital to us. Nothing will ever replace a friend with skin on talking to us face to face in a room full of mutual friends.

 

God’s Conviction vs. Satan’s Condemnation

15 Jul

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. . .”  Rom 8:1  NIV

As Christians we strive to please God.  Scripture reminds us, according to John 10:10,   “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  (NIV)  Those are the words of Jesus.

Following are a few of the ways we can discern whether God is convicting us by way of His Holy Spirit or the thief (Satan) is doing his best to condemn us by his accusations and lies.

 

When God Convicts He:

  • Nudges us gently and with love
  • Speaks a Scripture to our hearts for encouragement
  • Speaks clearly in our hearts when we sin which allows us to repent immediately
  • Reminds us of previous victories to enhance our faith and give us encouragement
  • Cannot lie
  • Sends friends to encourage and support us
  • Gives us joy and peace

When Satan Condemns He:

  • Accuses us of awful things, calls us names, tells us how unloved we are and that we are no good
  • Is the father of lies and tells us God’s Word won’t work for us
  • Reminds us of our failures and mistakes and tells us we will never get beyond them
  • Tries at all times to discourages us
  • Tells us God isn’t listening to us and that He won’t keep His promises to us
  • Hates us and will try to destroy us
  • Sends people to discourage us
  • Tries to convince us that to sin is not that big a deal and that it won’t hurt us
  • Constantly tells us we will fail and never amount to anything
  • Works at tormenting us and plants seeds of doubt and unbelief to make us worry

These are just a few ways we can know if what we are hearing is from God or the thief that comes to kill, steal, and destroy us. God does not condemn us. He sent His Son to die for us so that we might have an abundant life. We cannot fathom how much He loves us, and wants to encourage us.

When we become discouraged and all kinds of negative, hurtful,  and discouraging things come at us we need to recognize immediately that God is  not the author of those things. God’s way is to convict us in love. He will convict us in a manner that is clear and direct when He wants to get our attention. He won’t torment us and cause us to wonder what he is saying to us. God will correct us, His children, but He will do it in a loving manner. He will also do it in a way that we can accept and understand without condemning us in any way.

Any time we begin to have constant negative thoughts – or become depressed and guilty about our past or our failures and shortcomings – we are not hearing that from God. We are hearing it from the accuser – the one who condemns us – the thief, satan.

This is literally good (God) against evil (Satan). We need to be very careful about allowing the thief to rob us of one more moment of peace. God loves us and forgives our sin immediately when we ask Him. He then casts our sin as far as the east is from the west and remembers it no more. Therefore, God isn’t the one reminding us of our past mistakes or speaking condemning words to us.

Ps 103:11-12  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.  (NIV)

When the enemy starts bringing those negative, abusive, hurtful thoughts to our hearts we have to stop him immediately. The way to do that is to refuse to yield to those things that will allow doubt and unbelief to haunt us. Instead, we need to denounce the enemy, tell him to get away from us, and remind him that he is a liar, and that he has no authority over us.

The next step is to begin to thank God for His love, His protection, His encouragement and refuse to let our minds meditate on anything but the goodness of God. Actually, the Scripture tells us in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” (NIV)

We are not slaves to our minds. We aren’t helpless when it comes to keeping out negative thoughts, but we do have to make an effort to put a stop to it and to re-focus our thinking on the things of God. He did not leave us helpless, He gave us spiritual weapons. Giving place to His Word, the Bible, will give us all the answers we need.

How Are We Perceived By Others?

5 May

How many lives we have touched for Jesus? Everywhere we go and everything we do should glorify our Heavenly Father. We may not be able to spend much time sharing about God or our praises about Him, but we can live as He tells us to and others will recognize Him in us.

I heard something a while back that I think of often, “You may not always remember what someone said to you, but you will remember how they made you feel.” Wow! I think that is a powerful statement. We have the power within us to build someone up, make them smile, or encourage them. On the other hand, we can ruin their good mood, or cause them to feel really bad about themselves. We can make them feel angry or unimportant and unacceptable. Our words and actions are that powerful!

I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying, “If you can’t say anything good . . . don’t say anything at all.” That is really true. Everyone in today’s world moves at such a fast pace. We get in such a hurry that we fail to be available to those who may really need a word of kindness or encouragement. Whether we mean to or not, we leave an impression on others. By our words, our actions or even our facial expressions we can “speak” to others.

Not long ago I stopped in a Walgreens about 30 miles away from my home. It was late in the evening and I was a little anxious about going into a strange store that late. I ran in and picked up what I needed and ran back out. The following Sunday, a friend came over to me and said, “Mrs. Linda, I saw you last night and you had an awful expression on your face, you scared me!” I laughed because I thought he was kidding me.

I am the leader of the prayer ministry at our church. My friend said he had always seen such a different expression on my face when I was at the altar to pray for others.  I goofed around with him, making excuses and trying to explain away why I had such an expression on my face. Then, I apologized to him and realized how I must have appeared to him. He walked right by me and I didn’t see him or speak to him. I had a scowl on my face. I truly did not see him and was a little nervous about being in a strange area. But, without knowing it, I left an impression on him. Since then, he sometimes looks at me and gives me a big smile, to remind me to smile.

What if he had been a friend I wouldn’t see the next day? What if he had been someone from my  church that didn’t know me well enough to tell me? I would have stood up front at the alter the next morning to pray for others.  Would that person have come to me for prayer? Probably not. I would have “spoken” loud and clear by the way I breezed past him with a scornful look on my face, not speaking a word to him.

Our words and our thoughts are powerful. What I was feeling inside that evening came through loud and clear to others. But, they didn’t know what I was thinking. It may sound insignificant, but it isn’t. We have many opportunities to speak to others even if we don’t say a word. Our actions speak to others. We need to let Jesus shine through in all we do.

Being a Christian is more than attending church on Sunday morning. Following Jesus means we develop a relationship with Him. We spend time with Him, talking to Him and reading His Word in the Bible. Each day we grow more and more in His likeness and others can see it. We plant seeds everywhere we go and in all we do. The Holy Spirit watches over that seed that has been planted in the heart of another.

We need to speak life into others.  We need to encourage them in every way we can. We need to accept people as they are. We need to let them know they are valuable; go the extra mile.  We should choose to uplift others and not be critical. We need to let God use us so that His Holy Spirit can draw others to Himself.

Seeds aren’t very big – many of them are tiny. But from those seeds grow mighty things.

Plant seeds. God will do the rest.

 

The Encouragers – “How To” People

26 Sep

SPIRITUAL GIFTS (20)

The gifts we are discussing in this series are the Spiritual Gifts from Romans 12:3-8:

  • Rom 12:3-8
  • 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body , and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. NIV
There are four speaking gifts
  • •Prophecy – Proclaimers/God’s Loudspeakers
  • •Teaching – Explainers/Guardians of Truth
  • •Exhortation – Encouragers/”How to” Persons/Concerned with the way we act
  • •Pastor/Shepherd/Teacher – Guardians of the Flock

Now we are going to look at the Encourager – the gift of EXHORTATION.

Encourager – is another name for the exhorter. Encouragement to him/her  is more than “cheering you up” or assuring you everything will be “OK”, they will stand beside you and walk with you through very difficult circumstances.
All Christians should seek to be encouragers. However, there are some who are especially equipped by God with the gift of exhortation. They usually make good counselors.
Additional Traits of the motivational gift of EXHORTATION:
  • The word translated “exhortation” is a form of the word paraclete. The word literally means “one who is called alongside to help”. The exhorter has a dual role – One is the comforting role. The other is the counseling role.
  • They are good listeners
  • They show empathy and understanding
  • They never stop with “It’s OK. You’re OK”
  • They almost always encourage with a plan of action for moving forward to greater emotional and spiritual health
  • The gift exhorter knows when we need to be admonished or challenged
  • “Coach” would be a good modern word to describe the gifted exhorter
  • Good coaches have an uncanny ability to know when to get in a player’s face, when to give an understanding pat on the back when a player has messed up, when to show a player a better way to execute the plays, and when to help players develop the skills of their position
  • They often express their gift in writing as well as speaking – they may write terrific notes of letters and encouragement
  • They are big on application – they believe that Bible truth works in the lives of believers
  • They delight in showing individuals how to change, whereas the person with the gift of prophecy wants them to decide to change
  • They feel comfortable in small groups or one on one
  • They prefer dialog and discussion rather than lecturing
  • They prefer to help you “work it out for yourself” than just to tell you what to do or believe
  • They are spiritual “cheerleaders”
  • They desire to cheer on believers to walk in faith, whatever circumstances they face
  • They won’t just tell you everything is going to be OK. They will stay with you to work out a plan of action
  • They will stick with you during difficult circumstances to help you be strong and remain faithful to the Lord
  • Potential is a key word for the exhorter
    •They perceive potential in people who want to grow spiritually
    •They see potential for growth even in times of testing
    •They are more person centered than the teacher
    •They are more patient than the one with the gift of prophecy
  • They are likely to challenge persons to either get with the program or make room for somebody else!

In addition to my own material I have included quotes from the following:

  • C. Peter Wagner “Your Spiritural Gifts”
  • Gordon Lindsay “All About the Gifts of the Spirit”
  • Adult Education and Discipleship Ministries – FBC – Garland “Gifts are for Giving”
  • Biblesoft Libraries
  • Sandy Trice
  • David Francis

What Do You Love To Do?

3 Jul

Discovering Our Spiritual Gifts (1)

Rom 12:3-8
4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body , and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. NIV

I want to do a series on Spiritual Gifts. I believe that every Christian should know their Spiritual Gift. Knowing your gift will assist you in understanding why you do what you do. You will also better understand those close to you and what motivates them.

A Spiritual Gift is sort of like an assignment from God. It is an ability He give us. Some may describe it as a natural ability we possess. This gift from God motivates us to use our talents in a specific area.

As born-again Christians we have been commissioned by God to go into all the world with the Good News. Hold on – this isn’t just for Pastors, Music Leaders, Sunday School Teachers and other Church Leaders. We all have a part to play. Remember that Jesus said we are all one body of which He is the head. God empowers us with the desire and the energy to accomplish His work with excitement, not dread. There is a difference between “good work” and “God work”.

The Spiritual (Motivational) gift God has given you makes you happy. You are the happiest when you are using this gift. You seem to have more energy in this particular area. You get excited at the thought of being involved in projects where your gift can be used. God has something for each of us to do for Him. He never intended for us to just sit and watch everybody else get things done.

As an example, let’s take a look at how many workers are needed for any event. A successful event cannot be accomplished by only one person. There are a number of gifted and talented people involved. Look at the list below to get an idea of some of the helpers needed in any event. This list covers only a few of the areas where those with differing gifts will be asked to help.

• The Origination of the event – A Banquet
• Establish a Committee to make decisions
• A Treasurer
• A Secretary
• A Venue
• A Caterer
• Decorations
• Tables & Chairs
• Table Linens
• Musicians
• Media Person
• Concessions
• T-Shirts
• Transportation
• Printer
• Speaker
• Entertainment

This will give you an idea of the teamwork required to create a successful event. Everyone has a particular area of interest they are responsible for. No one is more important than the other. It takes everyone doing their part to make it all happen successfully.

We can’t all be the leader. Each one of God’s children is gifted and their gift is as important as any other on the team. Consider a football team without a football; a concert without musicians; A play without actors.

God has distributed His gifts throughout the church to prepare us to do His work – so that we can help one another – so that we can build up one another.

Throughout this series we are going to examine this subject closely. God gave His children, you and me, ministry gifts, speaking gifts, gifts of faith, the desire and ability to serve, a hunger to speak to the world about Jesus (Evangelism), the ability to understand and explain God’s Word to others, the ability to lead, the heart of mercy to comfort those in pain, and exhortation to help people in setting goals.

These are only a few of God’s gifts to us. Stay with me and we will explore this subject in greater detail. I invite your comments and questions.

God Is Talking To You – Are You Listening?

24 Jun

Yes, if you are a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, God speaks to you! You think not? The Bible clearly tells us that Jesus said. “My sheep know my voice and the voice of another they will not follow”! If you are one of His sheep, you know His voice. You may not yet recognize it or even know how to recognize it, but He IS speaking to you.

It is critical that we know how to hear God speak to us if we want to be able to truly know Him and be led by Him into His perfect will for our lives. God speaks to us through His Holy Spirit – to our hearts. There are many different ways He speaks, but when we begin to recognize His voice, it will always, always be in line with the Bible, God’s Word – already given to us. I like to explain it by saying that it is kind of like making a new friend. At first, when our new friend calls us, we may not recognize their voice. But, we talk to them more and more, the better we get to know them. Eventually, we will recognize their voice immediately.

The more time we spend with our new friends, the better we get to know them. It works the same way with God. The big difference is He already knows us. He knew us in our Mother’s womb. As we read His Word, we learn more about Him. As we read about characters in the Bible we find that they all were plain, ordinary people like we are. You see, Moses only performed the mighty task of leading God’s people out of slavery because God called him to do it. Moses, argued with God and did his best to convince God that he was not capable to do what God wanted because he wasn’t good enough. God does not called the equipped – He equips the called. God knows how to get your attention. But, like anyone else talking to us, we have to pay attention. We have to listen.

God wants to be our friend – yes, He does. I know it is hard to believe. Friends talk. And, it’s not just one-sided. We talk, we listen. So, if we listen, God must be speaking. If you are a born-again believer, have accepted Jesus Christ into your heart, then you are His child and he speaks to you. It is as simple as that. You will need to develop a sensitivity to listening to Him. He speaks in many different ways. When you accepted Jesus into your heart, the Holy Spirit took up residence there. Part of His duty is to change your heart so that you understand the ways of God – He helps you to rightly divide God’s Word from the other words that try to overcome you.

You cannot rightly divide God’s Word if you don’t read it. God’s Word, the Holy Bible, was written by men who were inspired by God’s Holy Spirit. There is nothing to be added to it and nothing to be taken away from it. As we read the Scriptures, we learn about God and His ways. We are taught how to distinguish God’s ways from man’s ways. We can clearly identify with the men and women of the Bible because they were the same as we are. They weren’t super human, holy individuals who led perfect lives of peace and glory. They made mistakes – bad mistakes – mistakes like we make today. So, as we read about them, we learn how God dealt with them. We see how much God loved them. We see how they disobeyed and the consequences they paid or the blessings they received from doing as God directed.

The voices we hear in our minds come from a myriad of different places. He speaks in a still small voice to our hearts. Sometimes, so small that we ignore it. God speaks to us through friends, Pastors, nature, children – just about any way you can imagine. What makes it possible is the Holy Spirit within us. So, we can’t just believe everything we think we hear. All things that we hear aren’t in agreement with God’s written Word. If we hear something that doesn’t fall in line with the Bible, it isn’t God speaking. So, how can we know it’s God if we don’t read His Word?

Another Sinner – Used By God!

12 Jun

Lydia was a woman of substance. She grew up in paganism and became disillusioned with it. She wanted more. Lydia had something very special – an open heart. God had a plan for her life and saw to it that she was at the right place at the right time to receive Him into her life.

Scripture tells us that “All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes.” We are all called, some just don’t answer.

Lydia loved her family. It has been determined that she was a widow. We pick up her story when she was away from home on a business trip. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatire, famous for its dyeing trade.

It is interesting to note that Lydia had not yet accepted Christ. She was not a child of God. Or, was she? We have the advantage of seeing Lydia’s story from start to finish, through God’s Holy Scripture. We read it in God’s Word, after the fact. God is omnipotent, He sees it before it happens! As a matter of fact, He orchestrates all of the events.

God is always in control. Sometimes, it doesn’t appear that way to us. Circumstances become overwhelming and we just can’t seem to get a handle on things. We do all we can. We take the steps we know to take. This is the point where Scripture tells us to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. We are told to rest in Him as we go about our daily routines.

It is too far out of reach for us to understand how God can orchestrate –arrange our lives – everyone – so that all things work together for everyone’s good. Just think about it. That is exactly what He does. Knowing this should help us to rest in Him, as we are told through the Scriptures. We don’t actually take that as a profound direction. But we should. This story of Lydia and Paul will help us understand a little about how God works all things together for good.

Paul was a mighty man of God by the time he met Lydia. He had been forbidden to preach in her hometown. Interestingly, God arranged for Lydia to be on a sales trip in the same city where Paul was ministering. Had she not been away from home she would never have been where God had arranged for her to meet Paul and be introduced to Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.

On that day, Lydia was at the gate on the Sabbath for her own purposes –to gather with her people to pray. Paul and Silas also journeyed to the gate on that Sabbath. Paul, Silas and Lydia were brought together by the providence of God. This is an example of how God’s plan is working together to bring about good. Paul was shut out of Bithynia and silenced in his journey through Mysia and was now in the same place as was Lydia!

In this case, all circumstances were changed in their lives. God brought them together, and Lydia was introduced to Jesus Christ and became the first European convert. God had prepared Lydia’s heart and opened it to hear and receive Paul’s words.

Why is this story important enough to be in the Bible? Lydia is only mentioned briefly in the Scripture. She was enough of an example for us that she was mentioned by name that we might follow her example.

Meditation upon God’s word is important. If we read through it quickly without understanding, we can miss valuable insights that God has for us. As God gives us revelation to these insights our faith is increased, our trust in God becomes stronger, and we learn more of how to walk in peace and not to fear our future. God is always in control.

God brought His mighty Apostle, Paul, together with this widow proselyte by rearranging both their circumstances. As soon as Lydia heard Paul’s message and believed in Jesus, her heart was at rest. Her destiny had been changed for eternity!

Lydia immediately, with her family, took a stand for Jesus. Her heart was full of excitement and gratitude. She wanted to give back. It did not take weeks or months, it was immediate. The joy of the Lord was now in her heart. Her life had been changed forever. It now had meaning and purpose. Some people never apply the truth they hear. They are hearers only, not doers. Some think what they hear is for others and not for themselves.

Lydia wanted to show her gratitude and invited God’s servants to her home to abide there. God knew Lydia would respond and step forward to provide what his servants needed. Once again, we see God providing for His own.

It is said that actions speak louder than words. Although there aren’t many verses of Scripture in the Bible about Lydia we can learn many things from her example. In fact, Lydia sets an example for all who accept Jesus as Savior and Lord of their lives.

Amazing is the fact that one individual made such an impact that the Holy Spirit inspired the writer of Acts to tell her story. Of major significance here are the actions of Lydia upon her conversion. We get a glimpse of how we are to behave in the world around us to show our love for God in our actions. We don’t have to be someone special. Like Lydia, God can use as in a mighty way even if we are a salesman.

There are many people today who only learn about Jesus through our actions. We are not always free to discuss our beliefs with those we love or those we see on a regular basis. When we do try to “preach” at someone and they are not receptive, we are then scrutinized with our every move, and especially every mistake or failure. This indicates clearly that our actions have made more of an impression than our words.

Additionally, we need to realize that it is the Holy Spirit that convicts – not an individual. It is not our words, or our prayers – really, it’s not even our actions that change a person’s heart. It’s the Holy Spirit of God who tells us in his Word that He knew us while we were being formed in our mother’s womb. Still, our actions as we listen and obey God, following His lead, show the world there is something different about born again believers. Even we, as believers, recognize other believers by their actions, as well as their words.

Continued Tomorrow. . .

If God Promises Me That I Am An Overcomer – Why Do I Still Have Problems?

11 Jun

Spending time daily in prayer and with God’s Word is the answer to developing our relationship with Him and allowing Him access to our hearts so that we can make necessary changes in the way we think and feel about the circumstances that surround us.

God’s Word tells us that in this life we will have trouble, but Jesus came that we might overcome the trouble that faces us in this world. Being a believer is like having on an invisible armor that shields us from every kind of evil that we can imagine. God’s grace is sufficient for everything we need. Our part, our responsibility, is to spend time with our Lord, loving Him, acknowledging Him in all we do. As we keep our mind stayed on Him throughout the day and turn to Him when we have a question or concern, He is there for us.

• 11 For he will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

Verses 11 through 13 of Psalms 91 tell us that God commands His angels concerning us, that they are to guard us in all of our ways. It is so! Angels unaware are around us, to guard us, to keep us from harm, to help us when we need it. Verse 13 is God’s way of telling us that He will protect us from the dangers around us that would try to destroy us. Further, he is telling us that we are the ones who will be victorious!

Our God gives us every reason to trust Him. It won’t take long to realize that God is real. He is alive today, here, now! If we will be sensitive to the situations around us every day, we will see God in action on our behalf. We must make a choice to be aware of God’s work in and around us. That is one of the ways we acknowledge God in everything we do.

• 14 “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue Him; I will protect Him, for he acknowledges my name. 15 He will call upon me, and I will answer Him; I will be with Him in trouble, I will deliver Him and honor Him. 16 With long life will I satisfy Him and show Him my salvation.” NIV

God tells us in verse 14 of Psalms 91, that it is because we love Him that He rescues us, and protects us, because we acknowledge His name. And, in verse 15 He says that if we call upon Him He will be with us in trouble and He will deliver us and honor us. Wow! How awesome is that! Further, He says He will satisfy us with a long life and show us His salvation. This means that God will show us, He will teach us His ways.

This one chapter in the Bible is so powerful! They are not just words – they are WORDS OF LIFE! These are God’s Words – His promises to us. Meditate on these promises – memorize these words and turn to them when any of life’s difficulties try to hinder you in any way.

Acknowledgement of His Word is a powerful way to pray. Repeat this to God in prayer. He encourages us to “prove Him” – meaning God Himself will demonstrate to us that we can trust Him, that His Word is real, it is true – it works! God will confirm to us in many ways that He is listening and that we can trust Him.

If God Promises Me That I Am An Overcomer – Why Do I Still Have Problems?

All throughout history we read of the trials and tribulations of God’s people. They struggled in so many ways. When they were obedient to God, they were victorious. When they were rebellious, they paid consequences.

Some believe that the Old Testament is not relevant to us. That could not be further from the truth! It is in the Old Testament that we learn so much about who God is. The Old Testament is just that – it is a testament, evidence of our beginning. We learn from the recordings of the scribes how the people of that time lived, how God led them, protected them, provided for them and corrected them.

The world has obviously changed – it has progressed in tremendous ways. However; God’s children today are basically the same. We share the same struggles, the same victories, and the same rebellion. The Old Testament was given to us as an example. It is full of truths that will impress upon our hearts what God’s ways are like – yes, they are the same. He tells us He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. – Circumstances may have changed, but basically, the root causes are the same.

How Can I Be Triumphant When Circumstances Are So Difficult?

There are some people who believe that once you accept Jesus and become born again, you are instantly changed into a new personality. Once we accept Jesus and invite Him to rule and reign in our lives our hearts are instantly changed and our names written down in the Lamb’s Book of Life. However; our personalities do not change instantly. At this time our lives do become new and we begin a new way of life. God has no expectations of our becoming immediately changed. He accepted us just as we are. God is aware of our past our present and our future. The blood of Jesus covers our sin — past, present, and future. We are the reason He gave His life upon the cross. It was our sin that sent Him to that cross to die.

It is extremely important that we know right up front that our enemy, satan, will come immediately to try to steal, kill, and destroy. He cannot. We are now in God’s care, under His wings of protection. His Word tells us that “there is therefore, now, no condemnation to those who love the Lord”. This means that we, now being born again, have all of God’s promises, His word, God Himself to protect us. God loves us with an unconditional love. The depths of His understanding are beyond measure. After all, remember, God gave Jesus, His only son, to die on our behalf. With such an act of love and unselfishness as that, how could we question whether or not God will do anything else for us, as long as it is in His will, for our good!

His Word also tells us that God came to give us abundant life. We cannot interpret this to mean, “Oh boy, now I can have whatever I want”. Another important fact we need to understand from the beginning of our new walk is that God’s ways are not like our ways. For this reason, we acknowledge God in all we do day by day.

God is definitely on the cutting edge. We sometimes think we’re way ahead of God, that He is old-fashioned. Nothing could be further from the truth. Walking with God is the most exciting thing you will ever experience in your life. Nothing can compare to it. Having God in our lives is bigger than any problem, any heartache, and any trouble of any kind that we can experience. His love is so dynamic, so powerful, so exciting, and that far exceeds anything else we can think or imagine.

Who’s In Control?

So many people believe that we have no control over how we feel or how we act. Therefore, we can be tossed back and forth, wavering, undecided, and confused. Our feelings may change from one day to the next, depending on our surrounding circumstances. We may give in to whatever circumstances are present at the time. We may be completely unsettled. We could be unpredictable and difficult to be around.

God wants us to be on an even keel. He wants us to trust Him in all things and to be at peace no matter what the situation. It is possible – – it can happen! We may still have questions and that is OK with God. We may have concerns and that is OK. Fear may try to grip us, that is not OK. This is where we call upon God and take Him our questions, our concerns, and even our fears.

Reading and meditating upon God’s Word will allow our hearts to be in a position to receive what God has to say to us. His Holy Spirit will speak to our hearts and bring comfort and possibly, direction. The direction He gives us may simply be to wait on Him. That does not mean that we do nothing. It means continuing our daily lives and allowing Him the time He requires to “make all things work together for good according to His purpose for our lives”.

When Circumstances Take You Off Guard . . .

10 Jun

Chapter 91 of Psalms gives us great assurance that we will prevail in every area of our lives as we dwell in the shelter of God. It IS possible. God promises us that He is always with us. No matter what we face in life, He is walking beside us. We can trust Him. He is our protector. We don’t have to be afraid.

• Taken from Ps 91:1-10

• 1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

We can trust that God has protected us from many traps that the enemy has set for us. By His divine grace He preserves our spirit and protects us from many temptations that the enemy sends our way. God is constantly watching over us to protect us from the things we cannot see.

• 4 He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Tenderly God covers us with His wings and keeps a sheltered at all times. Many things are happening in the spiritual realm that we are unaware of. However; God is aware.

• 5 You will not fear the terror of night, the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
• 7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.

God tells us all throughout His word not to fear. We don’t have to be afraid in the night or during the day. When we look around and see all of this happening the enemy will use it to bring fear to our minds. Things may be happening all around us but God’s Word says that even though 1,000 may fall at our sides and 10,000 at our right hands it won’t come near us.

We all obviously come very close to the happenings around us. Sometimes we find ourselves physically and emotionally in the middle of it all. But, our God promises in this Scripture to be there with us. He will also walk us through whatever situation we find ourselves facing. He will lead us out. In the event we do face death, we are promised a mansion in heaven and eternal life, if we make Jesus our Lord and Savior. So, nothing that comes our way can touch us that God does not allow. His plan is to always work things out for our good.

As we walk daily with the Lord and develop an intimate relationship with Him, He will make Himself known to us in so many ways. God knows just how to get our attention. He knows what will speak to our hearts. His desire is for us to trust Him with all of our heart and soul, and with our minds.

It has been said that worry is suffering in advance. Fear is not from God. Fear will haunt us continually if we allow it too. God has given us everything we need to fight the spiritual battles that continually arise to defeat us. God has given us His Word with promise after promise to protect us, to guide us, to warn us of things to come and to keep us at peace if we will keep our mind stayed on Him.

To keep our minds stayed on God indicates that we have a choice to make when confronted with situations that would cause fear, frustration, anger or anything else that would try to disrupt the peace and joy that God has so freely given to us. We can choose not to fret and worry. This is not to say that at times we may be caught off guard. Our enemy, satan, strives to catch us off guard. Our first response may be panic. Our minds begin to race and our emotions are deeply stirred. We immediately begin to come up with a plan of how to handle the current situation.

On the other hand, as our personal relationship with our Heavenly Father develops, we will soon learn how to turn immediately to God when faced with surprise attacks from our enemy, satan.

• 9 If you make the Most High your dwelling — even the LORD, who is my refuge — 10 then no harm will befall you no disaster will come near your tent.

In this quote from Psalms, God wants us to see that there is nothing that can harm us. He is there for us in every situation we face. Yes, we will have difficulty in our lives. There will be circumstances arise that will try to defeat us. We will eventually learn that our first response should always be to call on God. He is there and He will guide us and direct us. He will encourage us and reassure us that He is there to see us through whatever it is that seems bigger than life at the moment.

Spending time daily in prayer and with God’s word is the answer to developing our relationship with Him and allowing Him access to our hearts so that we can make necessary changes in the way we think and feel about the circumstances that surround us.

God Is Not Like Grandma, He’s Not Old Fashioned or Behind the Times!

7 Jun

Many of us don’t think much about the spiritual side of things. We believe we have our lives under control and we are ready for what comes our way. Conversely, we are experiencing more and more stress and frustration. We have been taught by the world around us that we need to be strong. We dare not let anyone see us as weak.

Perhaps our spiritual condition doesn’t seem like much of an issue. Some of us may even think that our spiritual lives are separate from our daily lives. Definitely not! We may try to keep it separate thinking it isn’t part of daily living. Besides, it’s not cool to be spiritual. Exactly the opposite is true. Our spiritual condition (our heart of hearts) is where our true character resides.

• Prov 16:9 “ In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” NIV

• Matt 15:18-20 “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart , and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.” NIV

The ways of God obviously are not the ways of man. If man had his way there would certainly be no suffering. It is imperative that we realize how much we need God every day with every step. We could not take another breath, or another step if He did not allow it. Whether we believe it to be true or not doesn’t matter. Our denial of God’s truth doesn’t invalidate it.

God is always with us, not just for our bedtime prayers, but as we get dressed, eat breakfast, drive to work, and in all else that we do. We can talk with Him at any time about any and every issue. It’s kind of like being at home with a loved one. We are busy in one room and they are busy in another. We know that we can call out to them at any time and they will answer. Only God is not in the other room, He is right with us – wherever we are.

Our conversations with God are not one way. He will speak to our hearts. He will take away our fears and direct us through our every concern, if we will allow Him to.

• John 10:26-27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” NIV

God has His own time-table. It most often does not agree with ours. He is not intimidated by our deadlines. Don’t think that just because He does not work like the high-speed internet that He is old-fashioned and out of date. To the contrary, His ways far exceed that. He created the universe out of nothing. He knew us before we were formed in our Mothers’ wombs. He can handle today’s technology. God is actually the one who gave knowledge to the creators of our technology. What? You think they did it on their own?

Scripture tells us that there is nothing new in the world. Technology was part of God’s plan from the beginning. Don’t think for a moment that we have moved on without Him. No, Friends, He is the one who made it all possible. He is not just our Grandma’s God. God’s miracles and ancient stories of the Bible didn’t stop when the Bible was made into a book with a cover. God is the reason we have progressed to where we are today.

• Eccl 1:9 “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” NIV

His ways are not outdated. He is the author and finisher or our faith and the reason that we are who we are. We need to recognize His authority. When we read the Scriptures we will find that events do not just happen on their own. God is the force behind them. He places people where He wants them and uses them according to His plan.

God’s Word, the Holy Bible, still operates in our lives as it did in the lives of those ancient men and women of the Bible. They are not fictional like Winnie the Pooh or Alice in Wonderland. Rest assured you will not meet those characters in heaven one day. However; you will meet many of those ancient men and women of the Bible there. You will hear from their own lips of their awesome adventures.

God is just as real today as He was when all the events of the Bible took place. He walks with us, covers us like a shield. He goes before us, behind us, beside us. We cannot go anywhere that He is not there.

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