Tag Archives: Fear

The Rewards of Obedience vs. The Cost of Disobedience

18 May

Obedience Or Rebellion?

1 Sam 15:22-23   22 But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Obedience is far better than sacrifice. Listening to him is much better than offering the fat of rams. 23 Rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you from being king.” NLT

As God’s children we want to please Him. Our inner struggle is constant though it might not be prominent. There is a undurcurrent within us that we have become accustomed to. I don’t believe it is because we are bad or purposely rebellious. With me it’s more about sometimes not knowing for sure what the right thing is. Of course, many times it is very obvious what is right and what is wrong, but I want to speak to what is buried deep within our hearts at the root of our reasoning.

I have always been a confident person in most areas of my life. Even as a child I was compliant – always wanting to do the right things. To rebel was not in my nature, at least not to the point of being defiant. When I faced decisions that I believed were wrong, I somehow just couldn’t force myself to comply. In the few times I did, I was in constant turmoil until the situation was terminated.

As I am reaching the winter of my life I can see that even though I was unaware of it, God had a plan for me. (He also has one for you!) Here is proof in a few of my favorite Scriptures from Psalms 139, written by King David:

O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise;you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down;you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. . .

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;your works are wonderful,I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body.All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me,and lead me in the way everlasting.  NIV

Notice starting with verse 13 that God created our inmost being – His eyes saw our unformed body and all our days were ordained for us before one of them came to be! Selah – Pause and calmly think of that.

None of us are here by accident. God made us – He created us with a purpose and He knew today, right now, what you and I would be doing at this very moment. – No words can express the emotion for knowing that.

The Rewards of Obedience

It takes us a while to realize there is more to life that “me.” Seriously? It is human nature from the moment we are born into this world. We spend a lifetime struggling with ourselves vs. the good and the bad.

Recently I had an assignment from God. You might ask “How can you be sure it was from God?” I know because He instructed me clearly to do something I have said at least a million times that I would not do! The interesting thing is that He won’t force me to do it. It won’t even hurt me NOT to do it. In fact, it would be easier for me NOT to do it. After all, I could just chalk it up to “not being sure it was God.” Or, I could just stop thinking about it and move on.

Well, I don’t know about you, but God won’t allow me to do that. It’s that deep, small voice that continually woos me. I can make it go away – at least for a little while. Then, I sense it wooing me again. I then begin to get deliberate in praying about it to make sure I haven’t imagined the entire thing.

God is so good about giving us little sign posts along our journey. If we aren’t sensitive to the Spirit we might not recognize them. We might think “It’s only a coincidence.” God gave us the Holy Spirit to teach us and to counsel us and to lead us into truth. We have the choice as to whether we listen and follow His instruction or to just ignore it until it goes away.

God’s Instruction to Me

That brings me to my main point – My obedience to that still, small voice could be a life changing event for a child of God who is seeking desperately to find a solution to a great problem. My attitude, though I didn’t realize it was wrong, kept me from even considering offering my help. The reason? – I didn’t want to get involved. It was all about me and the price I wasn’t willing to pay to obey God. It wouldn’t really have hurt me, except that I would disappoint God by my disobedience.

No, that’s really not all my disobedience would do. God made it clear to me that to be disobedient could rob someone of a complete change in their life – a life free from hell on earth. I know it sounds drastic. In fact, it is.

Could someone else do it? I don’t know. That’s not the issue. The issue is will I choose to obey or not? Maybe I am the only person that could help. The consequences of my disobedience could be amazingly wonderful or disastrously terrible.

Think about that for a moment. I did. It kept me awake all night asking God if He was really asking me to do something I was adamantly opposed to doing. I’ve missed God before. Not always on purpose but because I am always still evolving (really). I’ve also missed Him out of ignorance of the Scripture or misunderstanding. Sometimes I’m just rebellious. Ugh! It’s hard to even say.

I learned from Charles Stanley that when God is speaking to you and you are struggling with what you think He is saying to you that peace will eventually develop and you will know God is leading you. If that peace does not develop, I call that a “red flag.” There isn’t a deadline that God can’t push back or overcome. Don’t look at the deadlines – look to the God who created you and made you for this day.

Send Me – Yes, No or Maybe?

God was searching for someone to send to His people and Isaiah said:

Isa 6:8  8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me !”
NIV

Have you ever said that? I have, however: I recently discovered that many times my “send me” reply is conditional on  my terms. Goodness! God really has a way to slap us on the wrist, doesn’t He?

I’m hoping you can see that our minds and hearts are so full of the busyness of the world that God’s voice doesn’t always make through to our hearts. It isn’t His fault. It has to do with the condition of our hearts and our natural instinct to rebel. Sorry to have to say it.

The Final Outcome

After struggling with myself and trying to determine whether I had simply lost my resolve or if God was actually trying to get through to me, peace began to develop. Let me add, the peace was in my spirit, not in my head. My mind was spinning with many doubts and questions and concerns about something I had been claiming as impossible for me to do for many years.

But, when I opened my heart and let God – He began to use His sweet Holy Spirit to speak to me in His ways by speaking to me of How Jesus would handle the situation and my purpose for being one of His disciples.

The Future? – What does it hold for this situation? – I don’t know. It’s a little scary. But I know the Creator of the Universe. He made me – formed me from a tiny seed planted within my Mother. He had a plan 69 years ago for what I would do this very day. He’s the One I look to, not the situation I dread. Do I have a plan? No. Do I know what the outcome will be or what will happen along the way? No. Am I nuts? – I’m not sure, but I don’t think so.

God has proved Himself to me over and over and over. As I heard from Sunday’s message by Pastor Scott Jones at Grace Church, not all of the amazing miracles and things Jesus did while He was on earth were recorded. I can identify with that because my Father God – My Friend, Jesus – and the Sweet Holy Spirit – are constantly present in my life doing things for me that are too many to count.

He is trustworthy – are you?

 

 

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Back to Goliath

28 Mar God Is With Us

Continued from last week . . .

1 Sam 17:4-7   4 A champion named Goliath , who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall. 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; 6 on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. 7 His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield-bearer went ahead of him.  NIV

In the beginning David didn’t have much of a part to play in the battle that was taking place. He was just there to deliver food to his older brothers. I think it so odd that the war was so close that David could walk the distance to deliver food for his brothers. And, to think – they could actually hear the giant, Goliath, yelling obscenities at them.

David was struggling with the fact that not one soldier was doing anything about this enemy of theirs. He questioned them about it, wondering why someone didn’t shut him up. The truth is that they were all afraid. They had heard of the giant’s reputation. No one had ever survived his attacks. They knew that to fight him meant sure death.

David’s reaction (remember, he was just a boy – not a soldier) was one of great wonder and frustration. He reprimanded the soldiers for allowing this man to dishonor them and God with his taunting. David’s brothers made fun of him and told him he didn’t have a clue about anything because he was just a shepherd boy. They demanded he go back home and leave the Goliath to them.

David didn’t go home. He went out into the desert to pray. As he prayed his faith grew stronger. He went back to where the soldiers were and offered to fight the giant. Of course, they laughed and jeered at him, and  made fun of him. His brothers were embarrassed and even questioned why God had anointed him to be the future King instead of one of them.

David went to Saul, the reigning King, and asked for his permission to confront Goliath. King Saul also denied his request telling him he could now allow such a young boy to be subjected to sure death. David didn’t quit there. He continued to present his case to the King until he was finally given permission to fight Goliath. The other soldiers gathered burial clothes for David and attempted to deliver them to David’s brothers. The brothers were angered and refused the burial garments. Saul tried to persuade David to put on his armor and carry his spear, but David refused. They were too big for him, and too heavy.

Amazing!

God had seen in David a man after His own heart. He knew that David had faith in Him and that he would follow Him in obedience, not looking at circumstances, and not doubting God’s provision and protection. Can we say that about ourselves? At what point would we have given in and given up? Apply this to your situation today. What Goliath are you confronted with – a difficult circumstance – the loss of a job – not enough money – a failed relationship – illness? There are many Goliath’s in our lives. Some we feel confident to face. Others, not so much.

The most amazing part of this story to me is how much negative reaction was happening around David. No one even gave his request to fight Goliath a tiny bit of thought. The had already accepted defeat. They even believed this giant was so big that even God couldn’t stop him!

After warning David again and again, they realized they couldn’t stop him so they just gave in, expecting Goliath to kill him. In the movie, David’s brothers asked him what he was going to do since he wasn’t going to take the King’s weapon? David replied, “I don’t know.” Have you ever been there – said that? I have.

David made his way down the mountainside right into the enemies’ camp. All the while the enemy soldiers were taunting him, laughing at him, and making fun of him. David kept his eyes on Goliath who was also jeering at him and laughing at him. This is what he said to the enemy soldiers:

1 Sam 17:45-47 “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” NIV

David just kept staring at him as he reached down and gathered five stones. As Goliath threw his head back in laughter at David, David released the pebble from his sling which hit Goliath in the forehead and killed him immediately. The soldiers stopped jeering and gasped at what had happened. King Saul’s soldiers, watching from the mountain began to cheer for David’s defeat of the giant.

Back to Our Personal Goliath

This Bible story is more than an “old movie.” This event took place. What some call “Bible Stories” were written down by God’s chosen men, inspired by His Spirit. They were recorded so that we could learn about God and His ways, and so that we could get a better picture of how vital our relationship is to Him AND our obedience.

I have personally faced a few giants in my walk with God. David’s encounter was and is uplifting. He made it a point to trust in God and not in himself. He knew that he, alone, could not win the battle. He wasn’t even sure just how to proceed. What he did know was that God is bigger than any giant we face, but we can’t just wander around in fear, murmuring to ourselves about what we’re going to do. It also doesn’t help to begin accepting and preparing for defeat!

Walking with God is our assurance that we can face any giant – any – with God at our side. We will always be victorious, even if things don’t turn out exactly like we want them to. With God, HE takes the weight of the load off our shoulders, as we put our trust and confidence in Him and as we seek Him for answers – and the most important part  – that we obey as He directs us.

 

 

 

What Is Your Goliath?

22 Mar

Watch Out For The Giants

1 Sam 17:4-7   4 A champion named Goliath , who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall. 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; 6 on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. 7 His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him.  NIV

I’ve been facing Goliath for several months – circling him with my sling, trying to work up the courage to let God be God, and to trust Him to guide that small stone from my sling to the Goliath that I face. While circling my thoughts run rampant. “What if I miss the target?” “What if I make things worse than they already are?” “Maybe I should just drop this sling and stones and just run.” “There must be another way out.”  Goliath was a giant – he was huge, and scary. His voice thundered and he roared at the soldiers, and they were all afraid. No one had ever escaped this giant. To fight him meant sure death in their eyes.

This story in 1 Samuel describes how we feel when facing the giants we face in our lives today. I have been facing several for months now and have allowed them to beat me down so far that everything seemed hopeless. I admit that reluctantly because now that I have come out of it I am disappointed that I allowed it for so long. It happens slowly – very slowly. That’s why the enemy can beat us down so far. We get our eyes off Jesus and begin to give in to negative thoughts.

How It Happens

Here’s how it happened with me. It wasn’t obvious or intentional. My focus changed gradually to my circumstances and my lack – things I wanted and couldn’t have or make happen. That’s when the reasoning takes over and the doubting. Dread steps in along with fear. Worry takes over working itself up to outright fear.

The trip down wasn’t obvious. Everything seemed to be going along the same as usual – until it wasn’t. I was already praying and doing all I knew to do, thinking I had a handle on everything. I found myself walking around my home asking God what was wrong with me. Depression and lethargy were taking over every moment of my day. This was my Goliath.

So, What Do I Do About It?

I had already been praying and searching for answers – doing all I could to force myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I had been fighting a bad chest cold and cough which was making matters worse. After about six weeks I began to feel better which immediately made my outlook better to begin with.

God seemed to be sitting back and letting me flounder. I’m not blaming Him, I just don’t   understand why it takes so long sometimes for me to get it! But – in the process – I am discovering things about myself that need to be fixed. And, so I did.

A couple of days ago I was watching a very old movie that caught my eye, simply called “Goliath.” I knew the story. It caught my eye because many years ago God had nudged me to read and study about David and Goliath. I was going through some traumatic things and His Word in the Bible is always encouraging.

I had heard the story from childhood and all throughout my adult life. I have read it many times. (Hint: Never assume you already know it all or that God’s Word, even though you might have memorized it, isn’t new every morning.) God’s Word is progressive. It IS new every time you read it.

Back to the movie. At first it didn’t seem very exciting – the scene was in a desert with only sand and rocks and soldiers. Didn’t matter – I was multi-tasking – playing solitaire on my tablet. I looked up every now and then to catch a glimpse of the characters. I especially wanted to see who was cast to play David – the young shepherd boy God had anointed to be the next King. I also wanted to take a look at Goliath to see just how big and mean he looked. He looked about like I suspected. But . . .

David – the young shepherd boy who would one day become King as God had decreed and Samuel had anointed – that was a different story. He wasn’t as I imagined him at all. He truly looked like a young teenage boy.

God Doesn’t Look At Things The Way We Do

Saul’s soldiers were dressed in sharp-looking uniforms with great helmets, shields and swords. The opposing group looked very scary and mean. Goliath was taunting God’s men saying awful things about what he was going to do to them, and his mission was accomplished – they were scared. They had heard of his reputation and knew that no one had every survived his attacks. None of the soldiers would volunteer to fight him.

David just happened to be there to deliver food to his brothers. It’s hard to imagine a war where the men are so close that they can yell at one another, but that’s how it was. David heard Goliath taunting the soldiers of God and couldn’t believe that they were allowing him to do so. After all, he was God’s enemy and David couldn’t understand why Goliath was being allowed to  get away with his taunting and his  threats.

Continued . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Accomplish Great Things – Me?

14 Feb

“Accomplish great things – me?” You say, “I’m not Moses. He was a great man of the Bible, and I’m just ordinary.” 

Accomplish God’s Plan For Your Life

You can  accomplish great things with God’s help. It might surprise you to discover that Moses, too, was just an ordinary man. Reading about him in Exodus will shine a light on just how ordinary he was.  He was not a great man. He was just a man who God used to accomplish His will. It is always God we look to, not man. We need God, in all we do and in all we are.

Moses was born after Joseph died and a new king ruled over Egypt. The king decided that the population of Israelites (God’s children)  was growing too fast and he feared that they would become greater than the Egyptians. He also feared that if they became too great they would join the enemies of Egypt and fight against them.

In order to get more control over them, the King decided to set hard taskmaskers over them. God’s people became even more afflicted, but the Israelites were still multiplying. (God has promised to Abraham that his descendants would multiply greatly, and God always keeps His promises.)

The King came up with another plan. He instructed the Hebrew midwives to kill any male child born  to the Hebrew women, but to let the daughters live. The midwives feared God and did not do as the king had commanded them. They told the king that the Hebrew women were “lively and gave birth before the midwives could get to them.”

Since the midwives were obedient to God, He multiplied their numbers even more. So, the Egyptian people were instructed to throw every baby boy born into the river and drown them.

Moses was born at this time in history. His mother hid him successfully as long as she could but the time came when she could no longer keep him hidden. She feared for his life. She  placed him in a basket and sent his sister, Miriam, to place the basket in the river, and to keep an eye on it so she could report back as to what happened to Moses.

In God’s divine plan, the daughter of the Pharaoh was bathing in that very same river at the very same time that little basket floated by. (God’s timing is always perfect and miraculous!) She sent one of her maids to see what was in the basket.  When she saw the baby she knew it was one of the Hebrew children, and she had compassion on him because he was crying.

As another great part of this miracle, Miriam asked the Princess if she would like for her to find someone to nurse the baby. Guess who Miriam took the baby to? – You guessed it – back to Moses’ mother! And, to make that even greater, she paid Moses’ mother to feed him and take care of him until he was old enough to return to the King’s palace. God is just so good. His ways are truly amazing.

Moses Returned To The Palace

The day came when Moses was returned to the Pharaoh’s daughter, and she named him “Moses” saying, “Because I drew him out of the water.”

I find it so interesting that God had a plan for Moses before he was even born. Even though everything man could do to stop that work from taking place, God would not and could not be stopped. His perfect will for Moses and the children of Israel was set in motion. They needed someone to deliver them from captivity. God heard their prayers and Moses was sent to accomplish that task.

God sent Moses to live in the palace of the King who did all he could to destroy him! What’s even more spectacular to me is that Moses was raised in the King’s palace and learned all of the Egyptian ways. He experienced all the earthly material things of the King himself.

Moses Lacked Faith

Moses had received a great education and all the King had to offer, but he lacked what was most important to a child of God – faith. As he grew older and discovered more about his heritage. One day he made a big mistake – (interestingly, this mistake was used by God to make Moses into the man God wanted him to be from the beginning).

Moses saw an Egyptian man beating one of his Hebrew brothers. He checked to make sure no one was watching, then killed the Egyptian and buried his body in the sand. The next day Moses discovered that his secret had been found out and he fled from the palace in fear that he, too, would be killed when the Pharaoh discovered what he had done.

Moses fled into the desert and dwelt in the land of Midian. There he became a shepherd and took a wife. This was the new life of Moses. He no longer enjoyed the fine life of the king’s palace and his royal duties. He made a big mistake and traded his kingly robes for a shepherd’s robe in the desert.

The Desert

The Desert

A tree in the desert

One hot day in the desert, Moses saw a fire burning in the middle of a bush, but the bush was not consumed.  He decided to take a closer look. He went closer to the bush, burning – but not burning up. When he got close to the bush, and God spoke to him from the middle of that fire! He told Moses to remove his sandals because he was standing on holy ground.

Do you ever take a closer look when something gets your attention? Or, do you let it pass and continue on your way? As disciples of Christ, it is extremely important for us to acknowledge the whispers of God – the small signs He places in our path to get our attention. Lots of times we just go on our way, oblivious to what God is saying to us. Know this, God is always with us and many times His Spirit gives us signs along the way as encouragement and warnings as to His will for our lives.

Self Doubt

This is the part I like best – God begins to tell Moses that he is now ready – he’s been prepared to do the work he was prepared for. God had taken all of Moses’ rights and wrongs – all of his mistakes. Every event of his life up to that point had prepared him to be the answer of thousands of prayers being sent up from the people of Israel for deliverance.

I don’t think Moses intended to be stubborn. Mostly, he doubted himself. He gave in to doubt, fear, and even unbelief. He doubted whether God could accomplish such a great task using a man like him. He was focusing on himself and what he could do rather than on God and what HE could do.

He questioned God about many things. I don’t think God minds our questions. I believe He would rather us ask Him in prayer and seek His answers in the Bible than to run to friends or other sources. After all, He IS The Way!

Moses offered up to God every excuse he could think of as to why he was the wrong person for the job. God answered his questions. Moses even asked God, “Who am I, that I should go to the Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”  It  makes sense to me that he would ask that question. I certainly would have, and most of you probably would, too.

In the midst of the argument against his assignment, Moses challenged God by asking Him what he would do if the people did not believe him. God assured Moses that He would be with him every step of the way. He also told Moses something key to how God works in us. He asked Moses what it was he held in his hand. Moses had “only” a staff.

God can use what we have, whatever it might be, for His glory. Even if we don’t know how to do what He asks of us, He will see to it that we are prepared for what He calls us to do.

Next Time

In the next blog, I will continue with how God used an ordinary man to do a great work – not a work to bring honor to Moses, but a work to bring honor to God. When God gives us direction – He is responsible for the outcome, if we are obedient.

What is in your hand? Will you argue with God about what He wants from you? Even if you have nothing in your hand and God calls out to you, He will provide what you need.

It’s okay to ask questions, we are instructed to do that in the Bible. Initial doubt and fear are understandable. Give it back to God though. That’s part of His plan for you – not to carry the burden, but to let Him carry it.

Exodus  1-4 The Essential Everyday Bible Commentary NKJV

Check out https://www.biblegateway.com/

TRANSITION

11 Sep

The DicBlog Pixtionary describes transition as a period of changing from one state to another. Other meanings include:

  • change
  • passage
  • move
  • transformation
  • conversion
  • metamorphosis
  • alteration
  • switch
  • progress
  • development

This was Sunday’s message presented by Pastor Brett Jones,  one of our senior pastors at Grace Church  http://gracechurchlive.com/locations/humble-campus/.  I have been considering some major changes in my life for many months now. Actually, the seed was planted a few years ago, but I had so many doubts and pre-conceived ideas about making any changes. I was fearful that I was too old and just not qualified to do what I dreamed of doing. I lacked the faith to follow through. So, even though I never really gave up on the idea I did do exactly what the following message is going to speak to. God knows just what we need and when we need it!

It’s not always easy to make changes, and some of us don’t like change at all, so we decide to stay right where we are continuing to do just what we do. Pastor Jones referred to a Scripture in Exodus where God’s people were calling out for help – they were suffering – they were being mistreated. God told Moses that He had heard their cries and seen their suffering, and that He had a plan to rescue them. :

  • The people were suffering and cried out to God
  • God heard them and He was concerned for them
  • God had a plan to rescue them
  • God already had an answer waiting, and a place to take them

Pastor Jones explained to us that God had already set the destination – He had already made preparations for them. What had to happen next was that the people had to recognize God was directing them. He sent someone to help them and they struggled with recognizing  the man God sent because he was just an ordinary like you and me. So, they began to question, criticize and complain. (Sound familiar?)

Many times we have mind-sets and pre-conceived ideas about the way our situations should work out. We can get so focused on that one idea that we literally don’t see the forest for the trees. We are unwilling to look at any other options.  So, we prefer to stay in our comfortable little world because at least we are familiar with it, and we let fear convince us that anything different would be too uncomfortable and too much trouble.

The truth is that remaining in the same rut (Charles Stanley calls a rut an open-ended grave), is much harder t10623321_270154349848682_7235250059908727006_ohan stepping out in faith toward what God has already prepared for us. Most of our limitations in life are given to us by us, according to Pastor Jones. We just aren’t willing to adjust our capacity to take a step forward. We focus on our shortcomings, our failures and our limitations instead of what God can do, but God has plans for us that we can’t even imagine!

God doesn’t get in a hurry and we shouldn’t either. I am impatient much of the time, as I imagine many are in today’s world. However; I’ve learned (the hard way) that God doesn’t expect me to be stressed, always hurrying, frustrated because I’m not meeting my own goals, and sometimes just plain weary.

Pastor Jones told us that when God gives us an opportunity He expects us to follow through. God wants us to grow to our maximum capacity, and maximize our opportunities.  One of the most powerful statements he made was that if we don’t have the capacity to do something, we will pull it down to our level.

Pastor Jones explained it this way; he likened it to the Israelites wandering around in the desert for 40 years when they could have made their trip in less than a couple of weeks. Look at what they did:

  • They continually complained about their situation
  • They blamed their leader because he didn’t do more for them
  • They doubted God and Moses and continued to mumble about their situation
  • They saw miracle after miracle but it wasn’t good enough for them, they still doubted God
  • They continually wanted to go back to slavery because it was what they knew
  • They didn’t have the capacity to move forward and enlarge their vision

As a result, all of the Israelites under the age of 20 were not allowed to receive the things God had planned to give them. Even Moses, himself, didn’t get to enter the Promised Land because he became frustrated and angry, and struck a rock demanding water from it instead of waiting on God.

We are all subject to the consequences of disobedience and rebellion. We sometimes believe that the way things are just isn’t  our fault. We limit ourselves so much to our small world that we fail to look up and see that God can, and will, save us if we ask Him and then let Him.

We need to ask God today for help in maximizing every opportunity He gives us, and to help us look beyond our own finite world. (Finite means something has an end or finishing point.) Let’s don’t look around us and determine our lives are dull, stale, a waste – or finished! Let’s look to God, the author and finisher of our faith, and follow as He leads us to our destination – with the full assurance and expectation of achieving all He has for us.

Please Hear What I’m Not Saying

29 Jul

I did not write the following three paragraphs. I don’t remember where it came from but I read it years ago and it touched my heart. I pray that this will speak to all who read it:

As Christians we are expected to appear victorious. We are expected to be on a continuous spiritual high. We are expected to fly, as the sparrows, undaunted into the storms of life. After all, we are God’s children.

We wear masks to cover our broken spirits, and our emotional wounds. The need for affirming one another is crucial to our process of becoming real, not phony or hypocritical, people of God.

We must be affirmed and we must affirm others. Otherwise, we miss one of the main concepts of the New Testament – to love one another and to bear one another’s burdens.

Please Hear What I’m Not Saying

Don’t be fooled by me.

Don’t be fooled by the face I wear

For I wear a mask. I wear a thousand masks —

    masks that I’m afraid to take off

    and none of them are me.

Pretending is an art that’s second nature with me

But don’t be fooled, for God’s sake don’t be fooled.

I give you the impression that I’m secure

That all is sunny and unruffled with me

    within as well as without,

    that confidence is my name

    and coolness my game,

    that the water’s calm

    and I’m in command,

    and that I need no one.

But don’t believe me. Please!

My surface may be smooth, but my surface is my mask,

My ever-varying and ever-concealing mask.

Beneath lies no smugness, no complacency.

Beneath dwells the real me in confusion, in fear, in aloneness.

But I hide this.

I don’t want anybody to know it.

I panic at the thought of my weaknesses

and fear exposing them.

That’s why I frantically create my masks to hide behind.

They’re nonchalant, sophisticated facades to help me pretend,

To shield me from the glance that knows.

But such a glance is precisely my salvation,

my only salvation,

and I know it.

That is, if it’s followed by acceptance,

and if it’s followed by love.

It’s the only thing that can liberate me from myself

from my own self-built prison walls

from the barriers that I so painstakingly erect.

That glance from you is the only thing that assures me

of what I can’t assure myself,

that I’m really worth something.

 

But I don’t tell you this.

I don’t dare.

I’m afraid to.

I’m afraid you’ll think less of me, that you’ll laugh

and your laugh would kill me.

I’m afraid that deep-down I’m nothing, that I’m just no good

and you will see this

and reject me.

 

So I play my game, my desperate, pretending game

With a facade of assurance without

And a trembling child within.

So begins the parade of masks,

The glittering but empty parade of masks,

And my life becomes a front.

I idly chatter to you in suave tones of surface talk.

I tell you everything that’s nothing

And nothing of what’s everything, of what’s crying within me.

So when I’m going through my routine

Do not be fooled by what I’m saying.

Please listen carefully and try to hear

what I’m not saying.

Hear what I’d like to say

but what I can not say.

 

I dislike hiding.

Honestly.

I dislike the superficial game I’m playing,

the superficial phony game.

I’d really like to be genuine

and me,

But I need your help, your hand to hold

Even though my masks would tell you otherwise.

 

It will not be easy for you.

Long felt inadequacies make my defenses strong.

The nearer you approach me

The blinder I may strike back.

Despite what books say of men, I am irrational;

I fight against the very thing that I cry out for.

You wonder who I am?

You shouldn’t –

for I am every man

and every woman

who wears a mask.

Don’t be fooled by me.

At least not by the face I wear.

– Anonymous

Don’t Fight Pointless Battles

29 May

I get really frustrated with myself for fretting.  Actually, the Bible tells us not to.

  • Matt 6:25-27  25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?   NIV

I know better. I also know God is not ever going to forsake me. He is and will always be with me every step I take. Scriptures also tell us that we should not worry about tomorrow because each day has enough trouble of its own.

  • Matt 6:33-34     33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
    NIV

These Scriptures make it very clear that we are to take one day at a time. Obviously, we can’t completely ignore the future, but we can avoid wasting precious time letting our imaginations run wild as we create scenarios that we might be challenged with  – possibly – maybe – in a few days or weeks  or some day. Come on now, does that really make a bit of sense? Absolutely not. More than likely most of the things we worry about will never happen. So, why, why, why do we worry?

Sometimes I focus so much on what “might be” that I am not able to do what is right in front of me. That is when I get so frustrated with myself. I know better. When future possibilities worry me, I begin to thank God for all of the blessings He has poured out on my life. There are so many – too many to count. He has never let me down. I stand in awe of His love and His mighty works. So, I still don’t know why I worry.

I heard someone say that to worry is to suffer in advance. There is so much truth in that. I know that God is going to protect me, no matter what the situation, and I want the battle in my mind to cooperate with the Word of God, not give in to the thoughts that the enemy throws my way.

I try to walk in the Spirit and give everything to God, but there are times I take it back from Him and continue to fret over it. I can’t do both. I either give it to God and put my trust in Him or I hold on to the imaginations and continue to fret. My actions are saying, “God, I don’t really trust you and you might not take care of my problem this time. So, I’ve got this.”

That is the exact thing that frustrates me. God knows me intimately. He made me the person I am today. He knows what is in my heart more so than I do. I can’t thank Him enough for that. There is really no question in my heart and spirit that God will fail me. The question is in my soul – my flesh, if you will. There is a constant battle going on between the two.

The great news is that God never fails me. He is always faithful, even though I may not be. He is right there beside me all the time. I have not completed my race. I’m not a runner, but I know a person doesn’t just decide to run a marathon and sign up. There is a time of preparation. There are challenges to overcome – one being that we don’t give in to the doubt and fear that tries to overtake our minds.

That is exactly what satan tries to do to us. He constantly throws doubts and fears at us, hoping we will give up and turn away from God’s will for our lives. So, that tells me that as long as I am fighting the battle, I am winning the war with God at my side. I am not immune to satan or his evil ways. Scripture tells me that he comes as a thief to steal, kill and destroy but that Jesus wants us to have life to the full.

  • 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

It is important to stand firm, doing our best not to waver and, when the enemy comes to steal our peace, destroy our emotions, and kill or destroy whatever we are attempting to accomplish, we stand still and see the great thing the Lord is about to do before our eyes!

  • 1 Sam 12:16   “Now then, stand still and see this great thing the LORD is about to do before your eyes! NIV

We win! Winning means we are triumphant. Even when life isn’t always easy. Actually, life is seldom easy. Being a child of God, a Christian, doesn’t mean we don’t face the trials and tribulations of life, but it does mean we are overcomers through Jesus Christ.

 

 

Don’t Panic

22 May

Life is full of surprises. Ask me how I know!! But, keep in mind that nothing surprises God. He knows us – our past, present and future.

Naturally, staying calm in a crisis is much easier said than done. But, there are some ways we can prepare ourselves in the event we have to face those surprises in life. Most important is that we do our best to stay in a close relationship with God. His Holy Spirit lives within us and is there to be our comforter, our guide and our teacher.

As we mature in the ways of the Lord, we learn that He has all the answers. He IS the answer. That isn’t just a “churchy” statement. Our first reactions is usually to take matters into our own hands or call everyone we know.  We need to make it a habit to turn to God first, at all times in every situation. Then, it is important that we allow Him to lead us. I realize how difficult this may sound, but if we can discipline ourselves to do this in all things, we’ll be better equipped to handle life’s harder, unexpected events.

God knows not only what is behind us, but what is ahead of us. He can take us on a straight path to the solution of any problem. Look at it this way – if you were lost without a map and had no idea which way to go, and a good Samaritan came along and said he knew the way, he could help you. He could draw you a map and tell you about all the turns and signs along the way, or he could just say, “Follow me”. Following him would be the easiest, quickest way.

That’s what God does for us. He just says, “Follow me”. There is no need for us to waste any  time trying to work out what we are going to on our own, making wrong turns along the way. The quickest, easiest way is just to follow God. The stumbling block is for us to do is get control of our emotions and to keep our minds from imagining all sorts of scenarios.

I heard a story once that is a great illustration. It was told by a police captain who was called to an automobile accident, a really bad one. There were people everywhere – medics – policemen – firemen – and bystanders. The captain was criticized later because he seemed cold, unemotional and too far removed from the events going on around him.

He was later interviewed by a local reporter about his seemingly uncaring attitude. The captain’s reply  to the reporter brought a hush to the crowd and turned their outcry  to one of a quiet hush and tearful eyes. He explained that in order for him to do his job, he had to remain calm and keep his mind alert. There was so much chaos all around him and so much anger and confusion that there had to be someone who could make the hard decisions and direct the others in a manner to keep order. He said that his heart was breaking inside and his mind was racing, but it was mandatory that he keep his mind focused so that he could do his job.

If we all fall apart in a crisis there is confusion and chaos.  There must be order. God is a God of order. We can see all throughout the Scriptures that God had a plan from the very beginning of time. We cannot presume that we know better than He does. We can’t know better. God is our strength and our refuge. He knows the way out. He has the answers.

Some would say that they can’t control their emotions, which is a lie they have believed from satan. Their emotions take over and they can then cause other problems that have to be addressed, adding to the already bad situation and taking up valuable, possibly life-threatening time. Controlling our emotions is a matter of self-control. It’s not that we can’t, it’s that we don’t want to.

It’s not easy to control our emotions when everything within us is screaming and our hearts are racing. We think we don’t have time to talk to God about it. If we proceed without Him, it’s kind of like jumping off the top of a building and calling out to God to save you. We can’t unscramble eggs. We can avoid making our situation worse by taking just a few minutes to ask God for His help. We can ask Him for the peace we need and to direct us as we make decisions. It just takes a moment to call out to Him. And, that moment can change the entire outcome of the situation. The Bible tells us  to acknowledge God in all our ways.

  • Proverbs 3:5-6    5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart  and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. NIV

We all want our path to be as straight as possible. The key is to acknowledge God. Put Him first, not last. Don’t be guilty of making Him an afterthought. Don’t take detours, follow God’s path. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

  • Matt 11:28-30    28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  NIV

Where ARE You, God? How You Can Be Certain God Is Listening.

10 Apr

I have published an eBook which you can find at the following link or you can click on the book cover at the right.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00J1906PK.

Where ARE You, God? – is the testimony of a few of the struggles and tragedies that God has walked me through. It also contains documentation of a great many amazing miracles God did for me during this time.

This booklet will encourage anyone who is struggling and questioning God. It will also testify to the fact that even as Christians we are not exempt from adversity. But, if we let Him, God will walk us through the fire and direct every step we take to an outcome that is best for us.

An Excerpt:  At 60 years old, I was taking care of my mother who had advanced Alzheimer’s disease. I was doing all I could to keep my head above water. My financial situation began to fail despite my best efforts to keep things in check. Eventually, I exhausted all possibilities to work things out on my own.

I saw the storm clouds gathering, again. Disaster darkened the horizon. I tried to prepare myself, but there was nothing I could do to stop the disaster from crashing in on me. I faced bankruptcy and foreclosure on the home that God had so miraculously provided for me. 

Nothing in my past struggles prepared me for the frightening ordeal that God was about to walk me through. I had to learn to listen hard to God’s leading—step by step—trusting Him to save me at the very brink of disaster. 

After crying uncontrollably one day, I picked up my Bible and God spoke to me out of I Samuel 12:16 (NIV) “Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes!”

I felt as though He had seen my tears and my breaking heart and was now telling me He had a great future for me. Yet, here I am at what seems to be one of the most frightening events of my life. And, now, I wasn’t sure what was happening to me.

 

 

 

 

Just Because You Can’t Do It, Doesn’t Mean God Can’t!

2 Jul

Don’t Limit God!

What God has given me for you today pertains to any limitations you have placed on Him regarding yourselves and your abilities. This means in your personal life, as well as, in your ministry.

If you are limiting God this is what you are doing:

1. YOU are placing boundaries around what God can do and what He cannot do. YOU are telling Him that He can go THIS FAR, but no further.
2. YOU are telling God to what extent He can move in your life, YOU are placing restrictions on your vision, your money, your work, your ministry – your life in general.
3. YOU are RESTRICTING God because of the limits you are placing upon Him.
4. Remember, God gave you a FREE WILL. YOU make choices daily. It is not His plan for you to be limited in any way.
5. FAITH is the substance of things unseen.
6. You will see by the examples listed below what limiting God in your life can do.
7. More than likely you SAY just the opposite. But, take a close look to make sure. Ask God IF you are limiting Him and ask Him to show you HOW you are limiting Him.

In Numbers 13 God told Moses to send out 12 men, the leaders of each clan of the children of Israel to check out the land He had given them. Check it out:

 I believe this was one way for God to prepare His people so they could get ready for the job that was before them.
 The Bible identifies the men – they were hand-picked by God. They were the leaders of their clans.
 They saw that the land was full of giants. There was a bountiful supply of fruit. The grapes were so big that two men carried a cluster back home to show their people.
 Then came their report. Out of twelve men, 10 of them were afraid and doubted God. I guess they thought that what God gave them to do wasn’t possible.
 The doubting 10 leaders spread their doubt, unbelief and fear among the people. They were responsible for inevitable punishment of their people.
 There were only two men (Joshua and Caleb) who said “Lets go up at once and possess it, for we are well able to overcome it. But the men that went up with them said “We can’t do it. These men are stronger than we are. Then they said: “The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.”
 What they were saying was “to those men we looked like grasshoppers, and to US – we looked like grasshoppers. SO – THEY win!” They didn’t even attempt to do what God told them.
 They didn’t even stop to think that God would not have sent them to the land and told them to look it over to scare them out of their wits! He wanted them to prepare. To get ready to take the land that was their inheritance. He had already proven Himself to them and promised to be with them.
 When these leaders went back and gave their people this bad report, what do you think they did?
 It is important that you see the influence you have as a leader.
 Whose report will you believe? God’s – Your’s – Satan’s?
 This is what their people did: “And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!”
 Do you know who God held accountable for all the murmuring? THE LEADERS!
 Joshua and Caleb tried to convince the people that it was a good land, flowing with milk and honey and that they could take it. God would be with them. They begged the people not to rebel against God. But the people stoned them for their good report! Can you imagine! Then the glory of the LORD appeared before the people. Uh Oh!
 This is what God said to Moses: “How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them? I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.”
 Moses begged God not to do it. He interceded on behalf of his people.
 So, God pardoned them because of Moses’ prayer, but because those men saw His glory and His miracles and still tempted Him by not listening to what He told them, He denied them the privilege of entering into the promised land. They had to wander in the wilderness until they were all dead.

Only Joshua and Caleb and the younger generation were permitted to leave the desert after 40 years of wandering. Once they reached the promised land, only Joshua and Caleb had faith in God’s promise to give them the land. The other clan leaders let fear and grumbling rob them of the future God had planned for them.

Only Joshua and Caleb trusted God enough to encourage the people to take the land. God honored their faith. Only Joshua and Caleb and the children under 20 years of age were allowed to enter the land God has promised them. All those who doubted God let fear and unbelief rob them of God’s best. Instead, they lived out the remainder of their years living in the desert.

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