Philippians 3:13 (NIV) “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,”
Forgetting the past…We are encouraged that in order to move forward that we must forget the past…but how? It’s impossible to not think of things that hurt us? shameful things we did? painful days? Some of those things, when we’re honest with ourselves, we will always remember. So, why does Paul say, “forgetting the past?” How can you say you will never look back again? The key isn’t in not remembering, but how you remember. It’s not in not looking back, but why you look back.
It’s your frame of mind. Remember Lot’s wife? God allowed Lots family to escape the destruction of Sodom, but was warned to not look back. (Genesis 19:17). They were leaving…
One of the most used pieces of ammunition by those who don’t believe in God is – “the bible is written from the perspective that the world is flat” They look at quotes like, “Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?” from the latter part of Isaiah 40:21 and reason, how could God inspire someone to write words for Him while believing the world is flat? Wouldn’t God allow all of those who are anointed by Him to fully understand all the truths of His creation?
It’s amazing how we allow education to prevent, cripple or extinguish faith in God. Especially science, astronomy and medicine. The more that God allows people to discover, the more people say God is not there. That man created God to explain what they did not understand.
Check out what 1 Corinthians 1: 18-31 and 1 Corinthians 2:13 says…
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”[a]
20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 2:13
13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Now after reading those verses…go back to Isaiah 40. Consider this, the verse immediately after the one speaking of ‘the foundations of the earth’ states…
“It is He who sits above the circle of the earth…”
Wow! “Sits above the circle of the earth”. I’m no whiz in geometry, but the last time I checked a circle was ROUND. Wow, for those who are skeptical, here’s real bible evidence of knowledge that the earth was round in the what we call the late bronze to early iron age. Our God is awesome!!!
Now dig this…God is a God of order. He has always allowed different things to occur during different dispensations of time. Some find it hard to believe that people lived for hundreds of years as stated in Genesis. While, if you were living then, you would find it hard to believe that people would be able to travel by air hundreds of miles in a matter of hours.
As much as we think we know right now, with our educated selves, there is still more about the earth and universe that we DON’T know than that we DO know.
There is still so much we don’t know. So much we have not discovered. And, some things we may never discover.
If Jesus delays His return, future generations will look at our knowledge now that think that we were primitive in what we knew.
There is still so much our modern, contemporary, civilized selves haven’t overcome…
How dare us with our limited knowledge, come on God’s earth and through the little knowledge accumulated from others before us, we decide that there is no God? How foolish is that?
How would you like for someone to come into your house on a day and through observing one room out of many determine that you don’t live there?
Looking back at Isaiah 40…verse 21, ”the foundations of the earth” is in reference to time…from the beginning. One of the Hebrew words used for foundation in the Old Testament us Yasad…it means to establish, build up, to appoint or assign. It’s less about a literal foundation and more about establishing…beginning.
It’s speaking figuratively not literally. Much like today when we say ‘sunrise’ and ‘sunset’ fully knowing that the sun actually does neither.
Isaiah 40:22 is speaking of position and shape, ”above the circle of the earth”.
Use this as ammunition for when someone is critical of God’s existence due to what people knew thousands of years ago. And be very careful not to allow your education to weaken your faith.
Isaiah 40:21-23 (NKJV)
Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22 It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. 23 He brings the princes to nothing;
He makes the judges of the earth useless.
Life on this earth is far from easy. It takes great effort and struggle just to stay alive. Think about it…
You have to eat and drink, not just every day, but several times a day to stay healthy.
About 71% of the earth is water and about 57% of the land is uninhabitable.
Many of the earth’s climates are not conducive to life with great extremes of heat and cold. Even the habitable climates require great effort for survival through proper clothing and shelter.
There’s a wide variety of storms and natural disasters with the potential to kill then give way to a beautiful day.
There are germs, invisible to the naked eye, all around us with the potential to wipe out millions.
Most wildlife can easily overcome any man.
Even our bodies must maintain the proper blood pressure, proper temperature, etc. with very little room for deviation.
Our hearts have to continue beating for us to continue living.
LIFE is fragile…frail…and uncertain. God created us to depend on Him. He is our keeper, He is our peace. Only HE sustains our lives!
He encourages us in…
“The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night. 7 The Lord shall preserve you from all evil…”
Even though God gave man dominion over the earth, He created us to depend totally on Him.
Never begin the day without praying for His PROVISION, PROTECTION and POWER to make through the day, and STAY ALIVE in this hostile world.
Psalm 121 (NKJV) 121 I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help? 2 My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. 3 He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand. 6 The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night. 7 The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. 8 The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.
The fun and rush of the holiday season can be intoxicating. The trill of seeing someone open a gift that they really wanted can provide quite the emotional high. If this one done within our budget, then all is well but…THEN comes December 26th..
If we spent money we couldn’t afford…used money for our bills…borrowed money for gifts or simply over spent, we can come down hard off that high straight into anxiety, worry, buyers remorse, stress and even depression…You’ve got a HOLIDAY HANGOVER.
When the real world comes calling…we remember that bills, obligations and commitments didn’t stop for Christmas.
If you do have a holiday hangover, I offer the same remedy as for a hangover from alcohol…time.
And just as someone whose been drunk with liquor…next year remember how you feel right now when you’re tempted to drink from the same bottle of HOLIDAY SPIRITS next year.
Proverbs 23:29-35 (MSG)
Who are the people who are always crying the blues? Who do you know who reeks of self-pity?
Who keeps getting beat up for no reason at all? Whose eyes are bleary and bloodshot? It’s those who spend the night with a bottle, for whom drinking is serious business. Don’t judge wine by its label, or its bouquet, or its full-bodied flavor. Judge it rather by the hangover it leaves you with— the splitting headache, the queasy stomach. Do you really prefer seeing double, with your speech all slurred, Reeling and seasick, drunk as a sailor? “They hit me,” you’ll say, “but it didn’t hurt; they beat on me, but I didn’t feel a thing. When I’m sober enough to manage it, bring me another drink!”
Do you feel that He sometimes allows others to ‘get away’ with more than you?
Do you feel He requires more of you than others?
More suffering, more patience, more strength?
Are there some people in your life of whom you expect more? You expect them to treat you better. You expect them to ‘have your back’, you expect them to have more patience with you and for you.
You expect them to be more loyal, dependable, caring, loving? How does it make you feel when they aren’t? It’s okay when people who don’t know us let us down, but it’s different when those closer to us do…because of our RELATIONSHIP with them.
Because of our relationship WE EXPECT MORE.
That’s how God feels about you. Jesus says in…
Luke 12:48, “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required.”
He loves you. He sent HIS only Son to die for you. He’s invested much into His relationship with you and He expects more. He’s invested His Son, grace, mercy, the anointing of His Holy Spirit into you.
When we think life’s not fair, we must ask ourselves is it fair that Jesus had to die for our sins. You expect some people to be ‘ride or die’. You expect some people to put you first, you expect that some people don’t give up on you…because of your relationship with them.
I just want to remind US today, that’s what God expects of us. God didn’t expect Job to give up. Job’s affictions were not fair, but God knew Job could be trusted with them. They were severe, but they were temporary.
Be encouraged today. What ever you may be going through, even though it seems severe to you, remember that God trusts you with it, and it’s only temporary. He has invested His love into you. He has invested His purpose into you…so don’t give up on Him.
Back in the day, people used to get directions or purchase a road atlas or map, but now most people use GPS technology. They either have it in their car or on their phone. As you know GPS technology works off of the many satellites in space. All you do is put in your destination, and it GUIDES YOUR PATH TURN BY TURN until you, hopefully safely reach your destination.
You can call it GUIDANCE FROM BEYOND THE SKY.
The only problem is that sometimes you can LOSE your signal, and if you don’t have a map, atlas or WRITTEN directions, you can FIND yourself LOST.
Or, sometimes the GPS can take you on on route in which you did’t want to go.
I think by now you get the HOLY ANALOGY I’m making here. Some people trust their GPS more than they trust GOD. Our Heavenly Father…
Have you noticed that people treat Christmas shopping like a duty, an obligation… almost like a job?
One person will ask…
“Have you finished your Christmas shopping?”
“Are you ready for Christmas?”
and another will answer…
“No, I HAVE , GOT to get it done!”
During this season, people spend enough money to make or break many retailers’ fiscal year…
During this time of year some people are prepared because they’ve saved for the holiday…
During this time of year some people spend money they can’t afford in order to buy presents…
During this time of year some people borrow money and end up paying for this Christmas into and beyond the next.
Are any of these people you?
Think about the fervor, the diligence, the stress….
Think of the hustle, the bustle, the FUSStle…
Consider this. What if people approached benevolence with the same attitude they approach the holiday?
Have you given to the poor? homeless? needy? orphaned?
Have you visited the sick? lonely? imprisoned?
No, but I HAVE GOT to get started!!!!
If we, in the Body of Christ, approached cheerful, unobligated giving all year as we do at Christmas…what kind of world would this be?
2 Corinthians 9:7 (NKJV)
7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
Just think about it…
Matthew 25: 31-46
31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy[c] angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
44 “Then they also will answer Him,[d] saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Has anyone ever embarrassed, hurt or insulted you openly in public? Have you ever done so? Have you ever made public some information about someone later to find out that information was wrong? Have you ever defamed or slandered someone?
For whatever reason, we all openly hurt one another from time to time. Sometimes we do it on purpose, and sometimes it’s unintentional. These ‘public displays of ‘non-affection’ can leave bad impressions and potentially ruin reputations of all parties involved.
Many times when we realize what we’ve done, truly feel sorry and want to apologize. We’ll pull the person or persons to the side and tell them, “I’m sorry… I was wrong”. This is good but not good enough…
Acts 16:37 (NKJV)
37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out.”
Those who heard or witnessed the embarrassment may still think you were right. Those who heard or witnessed the insult may still be influenced by what you did or said…that public embarrassment deserves a public apology.
I remember growing up in church that sometimes in testimonies, people would stand before the church and proclaim, “If I’ve ever done anything to hurt anyone here today, I’m sorry”…if you know who you hurt and what you did, this also is not good enough.
If you know that you slapped someone in the face, simply saying, “I’m sorry IF I hurt you” isn’t enough. If you slandered someone, making a blanket statement to a group that, “If I hurt SOMEONE, I’m sorry” is just not enough.
If you know what you did and who you did it to, then you need to show enough respect to call out their name.
It’s good to apologize, but if we aren’t careful, we can take the easy way out and not fully respect the person or persons that we have injured.
Matthew 5:23-24 (NKJV)
23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
As we supplement our bible study with word study, hermeneutics (interpretation), culture, history, and anthropology…
We will be confronted with information that will challenge our personal/preferred theology, traditions and things we always accepted as true.
If we aren’t careful, we can allow fiction into our faith. We can find ourselves sincerely believing things that aren’t true. Unfortunately, Christianity is fragmented into numerous denominations and groups…and none of US have everything 100% true. That’s we must always be students of the word and have open hearts and minds to growth.
Accepting something false as true is a problem for all Christians, but this can present a challenge to sincere Christians, but especially to Pastors, Ministers, Teachers or Evangelists who must sometimes admit to themselves that even though they are God-called, sincere, saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Spirit…they’ve been believing, teaching and preaching something WRONG.
For example, during Christmas time most Christians include the traditional nativity scene as a part of their decorations and celebrations. They show the Baby Jesus, Joseph, Mary, the shepherds and the wise men or magi…
However, with a little study combined with common sense, we realize that the wise men or magi were not there during that night when Jesus was in the manger. Look more closely at Matthew 2…
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
5 So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:
6 ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”[a]
7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”
9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.
According to verses 9-10, when they came to where the star stood over where the YOUNG CHILD was (not baby), they came into THE HOUSE (not stable) and found Jesus with His mother (Joseph wasn’t present at the time).
According to verse 12, after being warned in a dream, they departed into their own country…you can’t do all of that in one night’s time.
In verses 16 Herod ordered that all male children age 2 and under be killed…because that’s when the star first appeared.
After the wise men leave, that’s when Joseph’s name reappears as he takes his family into Egypt.
The problem is, that many are so accustomed to believing the wise men were there in the stable, that rather than accept that may not be true and they came later, we start trying to find a way to prove what wish to believe is true…rather than seek the real truth.
If we’re not careful, this is the approach we can take to all scripture when our theology is challenged.
God just wants us to worship Him, but wants us to worship Him in Spirit and truth…
John 4:24 (NKJV)
24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
God doesn’t just want us to be passionate and zealous for Him, but that our passion is according to knowledge…
Romans 10:1-3 (NKJV)
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel[a] is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.
We owe it to God to seek His truth and not just defend our traditions or what we want to believe. God left His perfect word with perfect man, which means we have all received some erroneous teaching and information…sometimes intentional and sometimes unintentional.
Take your study beyond the bible to other resources to further establish you in your faith in God.
Challenging your personal theology isn’t necessarily challenging your faith. Faith is like a marriage. Sometimes love isn’t proven unless it’s undergone a real challenge…
Challenging your theology isn’t necessarily challenging your faith.
I feel one of the most revealing and powerful facts in scripture is that God has given everyone a measure of faith (Romans 12:3). Eventhough everone doesn’t believe in God, everyone not only has faith, but lives by faith, and puts their faith in something, whether they believe it, or not. They just haven’t found the right fit for their faith. Hebrews 12:1 defines faith as the evidence of what we can’t see.
Even those who don’t believe in God exercise and live by their measure of faith every day.
Everyone CAN’T SEE, MORE THAN THEY CAN SEE.
Everyone DOESN’T KNOW MORE THAN THEY DO KNOW.
Every one begins the day not knowing what will happen, everyone sometimes trusts food they didn’t prepare , drives in a vehicle fully confident that it will stop when they’re ready.
Unbelievers drive over bridges confident it will stand, work jobs in faith that they will get paid.
Many people will take an umbrella when the weather forecaster calls for rain, even though the sun may be shining.
Eventhough many don’t believe in the bible, unbelivers still put faith in knowledge and teaching of other people, believing their theories, facts and beliefs …everyone lives by faith.
Our challenge as Christians is to help everyone put the faith that God gave them in Him.
It’s God’s will that all come to the knowledge of Him, that all be saved, and that none should perish (2: Peter 3:9 and (1Timothy 2:4).
God has equipped everyone with the capacity to believe in Him. Everyone puts their faith in something…
It is our responsibility to help them find the right fit for their faith.
It’s interesting how many people quickly claim, “God’s on my side!”
Sometimes it’s people (or on a larger scale denominations) on both sides of an argument, issue, situation…how is God on everyone’s side?
Many times people will go through the bible, selfishly hand picking scriptures out of context to prove their point.This is reading or using the bible carnally.
God promises TO BE WITH US, as made perfectly clear in…
Romans 8-28-38. Verse 31 asks rhetorically, “If God is FOR US, who can be against us?”
But notice verse 28 says all things work for the good of those who are “CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE”.
Yes, God is with us, but that doesn’t mean that we have ‘a side’. God is WITH US when we are on HIS SIDE.
In John 15:16, Jesus tells us, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.”
Jesus told us no one can serve two masters ( Matthew 6:24). When Jesus died on the cross and arose from the dead, all power in heaven and earth was placed in Him( Matthew 28:18)…it’s HIS SIDE because He paid for it with His blood.
When we accept the call of God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we are ON HIS SIDE, so if we are on His side, then by default He’s with us….our battles become His battles as God told Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20:15.
Notice when David slew Goliath, David wasn’t about proving how mighty he was, but he was standing for God and His armies. (1 Samuel 17:45)
We are on HIS SIDE and, it’s our responsibility to be IN HARMONY WITH HIS TRUTH. Issues, situations, disputes and disagreements are much bigger than whether or not we are ‘RIGHT’ or ‘WRONG’.
We can easily get caught up in trying to prove we’re ‘RIGHT’, or someone else other group is WRONG, rather than be IN HARMONY WITH GOD’S TRUTH. We as individuals and groups can get caught up in being more concerned with what WE WANT TO BELIEVE, and OUR PREFERRED VIEW of the bible, which becomes a static doctrine that we feel compelled defend rather than trying to defend our faith and be in harmony with God’s truth.
That’s how you can tell who is in harmony with God’s truth when two people or groups are looking at the same scripture with two points of view…which person or group is removing how THEY WANT TO see it and their own will out of the way and is only seeking God’s point of view and His will. So, let’s be careful how we loosely throw around, “God’s on my side”, and strive to always be on His.
Stop and enjoy your life. Trear yourself. Play with your children. Spend quailty time with the people who are special to you.
Yes we have to work, yes we have responsibilities, but God expects us to enjoy ourselves, our families and the fruit of our work too.
So many people are striving to make a living, but aren’t living.
They are living to work rather than working to live.
They brag about, “I got to the office hours early or stayed hours late”. “I volunteered for hours of overtime.” That’s good and it has its place at times, but too many people are missing years, and some of life’s best memories trying to make it, get more or take care of what they may have over obligated themselves to. That’s not God’s will for our lives.
Working…and working…and working…without stopping to enjoy life is like chasing wind. That’s what the book of Ecclesiastes says. And, even if we stop and enjoy all that God has blessed us to obtain and achieve, we will still find void, emptiness and incompleteness without a relationship with Him through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That’s why material things are never enough, it’s like chasing and grasping at the wind.
Only enjoying and sharing what we have through a relationship with God can fulfill us. Don’t just spend your days in the pursuit of life, but never living. Read Ecclesiastes Chapters 1, 2, 6 and 12….notice what it says about CHASING THE WIND…so you can avoid WINDY DAYS.
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I often hear some Christians say, “I don’t believe in luck because I have grace”. Well that’s partially true. Yes, those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior enjoy the benefits of God’s grace, which as you know is God’s unmerited, undeserved favor reserved for His people. Grace can’t be earned. As stated in Ephesians 2:8-9 and Ephesians 4:7, grace comes only through our faith in God through Christ, and it’s a free gift for each of us.
Grace is God’s favor that all things will work for our good no matter what the circumstances, so what the world calls COINCIDENCES, Christians call CONFIRMATIONS. Since God is working on our behalf in all things Christians aren’t lucky.
So if grace is God’s favor reserved for His people, then what is it when those who aren’t in the Body of Christ have unexpected, serendipitous, good things happen?…
“Trust your heart!” “Follow your heart!” “The heart doesn’t lie!” How many times have you received or given that advice?
“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?
The fact is that we can’t always trust what lies within our hearts.
How much trouble has your heart gotten you into? Our passions, our desires, our motives, even our dreams aren’t always within God’s will.
How much trouble has ‘your heart’ gotten you into?
How many bad relationships?
How many bad purchases?
How many bad decisions?
We can’t even trust our hearts when it comes to what we do for God. Just because we have it in our hearts to do something for God doesn’t necessarily mean it’s His will for us.
David had it in His heart to build a house for God…
1 Kings 8:17-19
Now it was in the heart of my father David to build a temple[a] for the name of the Lord God of Israel. 18 But the Lord said to my father David, ‘Whereas it was in your heart to build a temple for My name, you did well that it was in your heart. 19 Nevertheless you shall not build the temple, but your son who will come from your body, he shall build the temple for My name.’
Just because it’s in your heart to do it for God, it may not be His will for you! David was a man of war, musician, psalmist, king…but not it wasn’t for him to build the temple. You need to KNOW YOUR CALLING, YOUR SPIRITUAL GIFTS…KNOW YOUR ANOINTING.
It may be your passion to be an Olympic athlete, but you may not be athletic enough to do so. There are some preachers who are gifted speakers, but they don’t have the ability to lead as a Pastor.
The adage, “Trust your heart” is an example of the world’s wisdom which God warns us to beware of…
1 Corinthians 3:19 (ESV)
For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,”.
James 3:15 (ESV)
This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.
God expects His children to rely on His wisdom and the guidance of His Holy Spirit…
James 3:17 (ESV)
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Romans 8:14 (ESV)
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
From relationships, to choosing a job, to finding your purpose in God, our Heavenly Father never meant for us to allow our flesh to lead us, but to be led by His Spirit…
Galatians 5:16 (ESV)
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
With the help and guidance of God’s Holy Spirit, we don’t have to worry about trusting our hearts – all we have to do is trust Him!
When you stop and take look, you can see God’s wisdom in everything…and I mean EVERYTHING!
God’s first institution established in His Kingdom was the family. He put man and woman together with a plan. He told us to be fruitful and multiply because God wasn’t going to continue creating men from dust or women from men’s ribs.
God gave us the gift of physical intimacy (sex) to bring children into the world, and to enhance our marriages. God wants us to enjoy one another just as much as he wants us to enjoy Him, and that’s very clear in the bible.
Proverbs 5:19 (NKJV)
As a loving deer and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
And always be enraptured with her love.
Hebrews 13:4 (NKJV)
4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
He even told husbands and wives to ‘take care of each other’ intimately so neither is tempted…
1 Corinthians 7: 1-5
Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me:
It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
God made sex a physical crescendo that builds to a climactic, brief culmination of intense pleasure sought after by both those who are married and unfortunately, unmarried….We will use the euphemism ‘THE BIG O’. Everything God did has a holy purpose. It’s not God’s fault that we misuse His gift…and what a perfect gift!
Here’s where God’s wisdom comes in.
If we were going to ‘be fruitful and multiply’…
If we were going to have long, healthy marriages…
Our gift would need to be something we look forward to…something we crave and not something we dread.
Few people want the physical crescendo without the ‘BIG O’…
And, few people want the ‘BIG O’ to come too soon…
But, dig this!
As much as we enjoy…
As much we anticipate the ‘BIG O’.
As much as we enjoy reaching that brief moment of euphoria…God was wise enough to make it brief.
It’s brief enough for us to look forward to it, but it’s short enough for us to enjoy it.
Think about it…no one would be able to withstand 5, 10, 15 uninterrupted minutes of the ‘BIG O’. I don’t even know if our bodies could take it.
If the ‘BIG O’ was too big or too long…we would dread it.
If the ‘BIG O’ was too big we would avoid it.
There would be no ‘be fruitful and multiply’.
There would be a strain on marriages due to lack of intimacy.
Even the most holy person can admit that a well-timed ‘BIG O’ is just the pressure release valve needed sometime to relieve us of the stresses of life.
God knew just how good to make it…Just how strong to make it…and just how long to make it.
I told you when you stop and look at it, you can see God’s wisdom in EVERYTHING.
It’s easy to see why the apostle Paul proclaimed…
Romans 11:33 (NKJV)
33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
How many times have you heard someone say, “You aren’t going to change my mind”?
As Christians, we say that to anyone who tries to convince us to reject Jesus. So, as we strive to promote the love of Christ, and to convince people to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, it’s easy to understand how some people who were born and raised in other faiths or no faith will say the same thing.
But, we must understand that our challenge as Christians isn’t to change MINDS, but to touch HEARTS. When you touch someone’s HEART with the love of Christ, their THINKING changes.
In Jeremiah 33:31, God promises us,
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their HEARTS. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
Notice, God didn’t say He’d put His word in our minds, but hearts.
How many times have you struggled to change someone’s mind?
Some have even married people determined to change their MINDS and thinking.
Any effective social movement such as the Civil Rights Movement was successful because it changes hearts. You can’t FORCE people to change how they think, but when you touch their HEARTS, their thinking will change. The NON-VIOLENT protests of the 50’s and 60’s were designed to change hearts.
People will tell you, “You can talk to me until you’re blue in the face, you won’t change my mind!” And they’re right. Talk makes people defensive of their thinking, but God’s love has the power to change their heart. Talk is CHEAP, but LOVE is action.
Don’t beat your head against the wall trying to change someone’s mind.
Don’t rely on LOUD talk and FORCE to change someone’s mind.
LIVE out loud and LOVE out loud to change the HEART, and the MIND will follow.
One of the most frustrating things for some people is trying to repair bad credit. Good credit gives you access to a world of material things and services. Good credit makes navigating the material world much easier, but on the flip side, bad credit makes the material world more difficult, more expensive and in some ways…impossible. Bad credit closes some doors. Buying homes, cars and other things can be a fun experience with many choices when one has good credit, but bad credit makes it a stressful, limited, and dreaded experience for many. Even if one changes their behavior, it can take years to establish good credit after it’s been bad, with bad items still coming up on your credit report years after…AREN’T YOU GLAD GOD ISN’T LIKE THE CREDIT BUREAUS?
From the earliest days of God’s interaction with His people, not only can GOOD CREDIT be instant, but easy…
Who was there when God ‘SAID’ “Let there be…”? There was no audience. Moses wasn’t there…the revelation of creation was given to him much later.
The Hebrew word for “said”, AMAR, according to The NAS Old Hebrew Lexicon means, to say, to answer, to say in one’s heart, to think, to command, to promise, to intend.
When God wills it…God says it.
God’s will is His words. He wills and it happens.
Jesus Christ, Yeshua, IS the living word. Jesus was there in the beginning as the Word and later became flesh. Just as your spirit, your essence of life, is invisible but your body is the image of your invisible spirit. God is a Spirit and Jesus Christ is not only the Word that was there in the beginning, He is the image of the invisible God.
Colossians 1:15 (NKJV)
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
John 1:1-3, 14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
But what is ‘word’? The Greek words RHEMA and LOGOS are used as equivalents for the Hebrew word DABAR, as the Word of God or Divine Word.
God’s will is His words. He wills and it happens.
God can place His will, thoughts and desires inside of us, it is us that must use language to communicate. Language is for us, not God.
Language is what we use to communicate our thoughts, our intents…what’s in our hearts. We use language to communicate…God doesn’t have to. God is not limited to English, Igbo, Spanish, French, Portuguese or any other language.
His ways our not our ways and thoughts our not our thoughts. God can communicate with us through a thought. God knows your thoughts…does God hear them in a language? Or, does He just KNOW what’s in your heart.
Yes, we confess with our mouth, for the benefit of others, but we aren’t saved until we believe in our heart that God raised Jesus from the dead. How does God know you believe? Does He need a language to do that?
Many times people are critical when someone says, “The Lord told me”… And rightly so, because people tend to say that very loosely…too loosely. People will critically and sarcastically say, “What did God SAY to you?” Did you HEAR His voice?”
Yes God has spoken audibly at times for our benefit…Moses, The Mount of Transfiguration…but God doesn’t have to SPEAK audibly to SPEAK…
Nehemiah 2:12 (NKJV)
12 Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me; I told no one what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem; nor was there any animal with me, except the one on which I rode.
Jeremiah 31:33 (NKJV)
33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Matthew 16:17 (NKJV)
17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
Hebrews 8:10 (NKJV)
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Revelation 17:17 (NKJV)
17 For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.
Remember. Those who rejected Jesus (Pharisees, Scribes etc.) heard Him with their ears… They heard Him speak in their language…but they didn’t hear Him in their heart.
No matter how successful, everyone falls into a rut sometimes. I’m talking about beyond the financial rut we can all fall into, but also physical, emotional, relational or especially SPIRITUAL.
Ruts along our journey have their place in our overall purpose. A well-placed rut, or ditch has a way of keeping us humble…
Yeah…let’s look at our ‘rut’ as a ditch. Have you ever fallen into a ditch?…a big ditch?
You could have:
Carelessly fallen into the ditch…
Been pushed or tricked into the ditch…
Or, the ground on which you were standing could have just collapsed.
Just been inthe wrong place.
Either way…you fell and you’re in a ditch.
Sometimes if you fall into a big ditch, you can’t just climb out in the same place from which you’ve fallen.
Sometimes you have to walk for a while in that ditch until you can find the right place, which many times is the only spot in which you can either climb out or be lifted out.
The right place to get out:
Usually isn’t the same spot where you fell…
Has enough light to see your way out…
Has walls that you can either crawl, climb, jump for be lifted out of…
Has stable ground on the outside strong enough to prevent falling right back in…
If you’re in a rut, or a ditch. Don’t get discouraged while you’re working your way to the right place to get out. Remember, that no ditch goes on forever, even the big ones (valleys). And, always remember to avoid going back to the same spot in which you stumbled.
As you keep your eyes open for the LIGHT to get out…
and keep progressing!
God will not leave you in the ditch if you keep your eyes on the Light.
Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV)
2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Matthew 15:14 (NKJV)
14 Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.<span data-fn="#fen-NKJV-23287a" class="footnote" data-link="[a]” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; vertical-align: top; top: 0px;”>[a]
Why don’t more people accept the truth of God’s word? Let me rephrase that…why don’t WE, those who call ourselves HIS people, why don’t we always accept it? I’m not talking to those super spiritual people who claim they always gladly accept God’s word, but those who are willing to admit that sometimes what God requires can be difficult for our flesh. Also, when I say accept, I don’t just mean hear it. I mean those who hear it…receive it…and make the immediate appropriate changes in their lives according to it….ACCEPT IT.
Yes , God’s word is perfect…In what we call the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13, Jesus calls the word SEED…GOOD SEED.
Matthew 13: 18-23 (NKJV)
18 “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. 23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
Good seed only grows in good ground.
Sometimes, our mindset, our attitude, and how we let our circumstances affect both can make our hearts bad soil, or bad ground.
Have you ever received the truth of the word when you were…
Angry with God?
Angry at the world?
In a bad lifestyle?
In a bad relationship?
In the midst of doing wrong?
Had doubt in the source from which you received the word?
While you were self-righteous and could see fault in others but not yourself?
Whatever the reason, when we’re honest with ourselves. Most of the time we know when what we’re hearing or reading is right…
We know when it’s speaking specifically to us…
We know when it convicts us…
Sometimes, we just aren’t ready to accept it yet.
God works hard to make sure our hearts are ‘good ground’ for His word to be planted. Seeds can’t be planted unless the ground is broken, and sometimes the difficult situations that we endure is God’s way of breaking our ground so we can be ready to accept the seed of the word. Some digging has to take place. Once that good seed is planted in good ground, it can produce a harvest of good fruit… that leads to future harvests.
We must be careful not to let life’s challenges harden our hearts and our ground.
We must be careful not to allow our flesh to harden our hearts and our ground.
We just be careful not to allow weak faith to harden our hearts and our ground.
Let us always make it our daily prayer that our hearts are always GOOD GROUND FOR GOOD SEED.
If you ever get frustrated when those closest to you:
Don’t do what you want…
Do what you don’t want…
Say no when you want them to say yes…
Say yes when you want them to say no…
with forethought, then say…
If you’ve seen them take your love…kindness…and patience for granted.
But, you still feel compelled to love them anyway because…THEY’RE YOURS.
Stop and PRAISE GOD for His love because…NOW, you see how He feels about US.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)
14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
10 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
6 NOW THESE THINGS BECAME OUR EXAMPLES, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 7 And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.”8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; 9 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now all[b] these things HAPPENED TO THEM as examples, and they were WRITTEN FOR OUR ADMONITION, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
The Old Testament introduced us to God… through Israel. We learn who He is, and since we’re made in His image we learn who we are. We learn His expectations. We learn how He reacts when we sin. We learn through what I like to call EXTREME EXAMPLES what He loves and what He hates through His interactions with Isreal. We learn that when we sin, before He gets angry – He’s hurt….as implied in Judges 2:1-2…
“Then the Angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said: “I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you. 2 And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed My voice. WHY HAVE YOU DONE THIS?”
Here God asks, “Why have you done this?”
Have you ever asked that to a loved one that hurt you?
Have you ever said that to a child before you punished them?
We learn God’s heart through His interactions with Israel. Through EXTREME examples of judgement we learn how much He hates some behaviors. We also learn through EXTREME acts of mercy and miracles what behaviors He loves.
Those extreme judgements are much like a police officer pulling over ONE speeding driver, when many are speeding. Every now and then they will have to remind drivers of the law by making an example of some drivers and not all.
Some say we don’t have those EXTREME judgements as in the Old Testament anymore…but don’t be too quick to assume so. Many of the natural disasters and calamities of TODAY could be God getting our attention and reminding us of His expectations.
As you read the history of the Old Testament, from now on as you read an EXTREME judgement (such as the earth opening up and swallowing people in Numbers 26:10, or the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19) pay particular attention to the reasons God did it.
Pay attention to the behaviors that He was responding to.
Pay particular attention to what He calls abominations.
God doesn’t change, if He hated it then, He hates it now.
People love clichés. A well-placed cliché makes conversations, speeches and even sermons more interesting. One very popular cliché used when people have misfortune is or difficulty is, “When life gives you lemons make lemonade”. BUT WHAT IF YOU DON’T HAVE ANY SUGAR? What if you have a health condition that doesn’t allow you to have sugar? Sometimes in life we have to faith our way through some difficult days. Sometimes we have to take some medicine that just doesn’t taste good. Sometimes you have to swallow a really big pill that’s hard to get down. Some people can’t have sugar in their diet. Sometimes your healing comes from something bitter.
AREN’T YOU GLAD THAT JESUS DIDN’T MAKE LEMONADE ON THE CROSS?2 Timothy 2:3 tells us to endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Hebrews 12:2 teaches us to look to Jesus, who endured the cross for…
Some days…Some days…. Some days life can be so HEAVY!
You want to stay in bed, but as you close your eyes…your troubles are STILL staring right at you.
You get up and they follow you everywhere you go…
Even if you forget them for a brief period of happiness, they come rushing from the back of your mind whispering loudly…RHHEMMEMBER USSS???
Some days, even the strongest of us don’t feel we are going to make it.We feel overwhelmed emotionally, physically, financially and most of all SPIRITUALLY.
There are days that we may not even feel like praying or worshiping. It’s okay, you can admit it. God knows your heart anyway…and that’s a blessing.
It’s a blessing that God knows His children… because He knows we are flesh.
Psalm 103:13-14 (NKJV)
13 As a father pities his children, So the Lord pities those who fear Him. 14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.
Isn’t that good to know?
Remember when Jesus prayed in the garden before He was betrayed, he found His closest disciples, His inner circle sleeping in His darkest hour….
Matthew 26:40-41 (NKJV)
Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Jesus knows that no matter how willing we may be, and how good are intentions may be, that the flesh HE PLACED US IN, GETS WEAK. He knows this…
Peter, James and John were overwhelmed physically and were about to be overwhelmed spiritually and scattered, that’s why Jesus told them to WATCH and PRAY, then acknowledged and warned them and us that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
When we don’t FEEL like praying or worshiping is when we need to most.
PRAY and PRAISE your way through. It doesn’t have to be deep, eloquent or profound.
“Lord help me!” “Lord have mercy”,
Or, the battle cry of praise…“PRAISE THE LORD, YOUR MERCY ENDURES FOREVER!”(2 Chronicles 20:21, Psalm 106:1, Psalm 136:1).
The truth is that, when it comes to your UTILITIES, if you don’t PAY you lose CONNECTION to your POWER SOURCE.
If you don’t PRAY you lose CONNECTION to your SPIRITUAL POWER SOURCE.
You still have your account with the utility company, you just have to PAY to stay connected.
And yes, you still have your ACCOUNT with God through JESUS CHRIST . You just have to PRAY and PRAISE to stay connected.
If you’re OVERWHELMED today, God is STILL worthy of your praise, and still listening for your prayers. Pray and praise your way through, because just like Jesus in the garden, even though your situation may not turn around, God WILL give you the strength to endure.
If my blog blesses you, I gladly accept donations of $2 or less. 1 Corinthians 9:14 (CJB) 14 In the same way, the Lord directed that those who proclaim the Good News should get their living from the Good News.