Thursday, 1 December 2022

Burn The Ships

Proverbs 4:25 Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.

      Many events concerning what is recorded in history are being rewritten as new documents are found, or some of the old chronicles are being properly interpreted. The argument about whether in 1519, Hernán Cortés burned the ships or scuttled them does not take away from the fact that after arriving in the New World with six hundred men, he made it clear to his crew - there would be no turning back from the mission they were to accomplish. Therefore by destroying the ships, Cortés was saying, "We are going to do this or die trying!"
      Jesus expressed something similar when He said that we should keep our eye on the prize,- God's kingdom. Luke 9:62 And Jesus said to him, "No one having laid the hand upon the plow, and looking on the things behind, is fit for the kingdom of God." Jesus had the determination of purpose and had burned His ship so to speak when He headed to Jerusalem to fulfill the finished work of the cross, where He would bear the sins of mankind. Luke 9:51 As the time drew near for him to ascend to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. The Lord did not look back but kept His eyes on the eternal plan our Heavenly Father had prepared for whosoever would accept God's gift of forgiveness.
      In this oversensitive society, where picking up an offence is becoming the norm, we will need to rise above this commonplace attitude and become determined to possess stronger willpower and a forthright resolve of character while walking in faith. The drastic changes that need to happen within the Christian consciousness will need to correspond with an equally drastic resolution within our hearts to make the changes that will help us become valiant members of God's kingdom. We will have to burn the ships that carry the strife in our lives because if we don't, we will end up sailing through life with corrupted cargo that will weaken our lives, our thinking, and our willpower toward living within and expanding the kingdom of our God.
      This may sound odd to some, but in this world of distractions, and the constant seeking of entertainment, being able to focus is a superpower. Remaining attentive to what the Lord has sown in our hearts will take God's grace as well as our willpower to keep our eyes on Christ and walk His straight path of righteousness. Prov. 4:25 Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. We need to scuttle, get rid of, and break away from the temptations that call us back to the attractions of sin. In effect, we will have to burn those old ships that once carried us toward Godlessness.
      We are bombarded on every side to surrender our full attention and focus on anything but God. If the enemy of our soul can keep us dimwitted and coasting in mediocrity, then Satan has maneuvered us to the place where we will eventually start to deceive ourselves by not doing what the word of God says to do. We will end up giving lip service to Christian clichés rather than stepping forward by faith to accomplish what God's word says to do. James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. As my wife often says, "Christianity is not for wimps, it takes courage and willpower to do what God asks."
      Some might have thought that Hernán Cortés was a bit over the top and leaned to extremes. I think he understood the nature of man, which in general states, "If times get hard, a man looks to retreat and will surrender to his weaker tendencies." We are no different. Courage in the middle of a battle is a choice. Cortés made the options limited to the circumstances. Maybe we need to take a lesson from his handbook and limit ourselves to doing what God is asking of us rather than giving the devil a say in what we do. We need to burn the ships Satan offers us. We are fortunate to have the Holy Spirit helping us make forthright choices. He is our helper and we need to accept His divine help so that we may walk in the fulness of Christ's righteous resurrection power. With Christ, we can succeed. Phil. 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Amen! 

Thursday, 24 November 2022

The Peter Moment

Proverbs 20:9 Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”?
      
      Have you ever experienced that Peter moment when Jesus turns and looks you in the eye? When you mess up and sin, and in the moment of knowing that fact, an ominous Peter moment comes upon you. Luke 22:61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times." 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly. We have all been disappointed in ourselves for missing the mark God has set before us. The realization of it is as if Jesus looks at you in the eyes and you know that you know you need to repent. 
      That moment after denying God by disobeying Him is when the conviction of God's love persuades our hearts to repent. The repentance must be on God's terms, however, many times our flesh wants to rise with a promise to God that from that moment on, we will be the soul of exactitude and will never fall again, but, like the empty promises of an alcoholic who is in denial, we do fall again. Our flesh always wants to take over the repenting process. The Holy Spirit directs us to repent, and we start directing the guidelines and conditions of our repentance. Prov. 20:9 Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”? Will we ever get out of God's redemptive way and let Him do His work in us? God's forgiving grace is life-giving and will establish the assurance of faith within us. How can any man manufacture that amazing grace? 
      We do not want to be the reason or give Satan the ammunition to stand before God and accuse us of sin that we willfully took part in. Rev. 12:10b For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. What we want in our lives is the declaration from the Lord, "Well done faithful servant!" Instead of giving Satan a legitimate sin report to shoot off his mouth about, we should be looking for the eyes of Jesus to affirm His righteousness at work within us while giving us the grace to overcome sin.
      After Jesus had risen from the dead, He began the restoration of Peter's heart and affirmed the love God had for him. When Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James had gone to the tomb of Jesus, they met someone who said to them. Mark 16:7 Now go and tell His disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there, just as He told you before He died. Go tell my disciples and Peter to meet Me in Galilee and the healing can start. Make sure Peter knows to head in the direction of his redemption that only Jesus can provide.
      We can learn from Christ's counselling that was given to Peter. Jesus went right to the crux of the matter. Love must be at the root of our relationship with the risen Christ, and what is on the Lord's agenda is the agenda we are to adopt. In Peter's case, love was established and the agenda was clear. John 21:15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. For Peter, feeding the Lord's lambs was the love language that would help him grow in his love for God. The former Peter moment that brought condemnation had turned into an ah-ha love moment of clarity. Jesus had always loved Peter, even throughout Peter's denial. Jesus was demonstrating His love by giving Peter's heart the grace to fulfill what would be a life assignment in the kingdom of God.
      What Peter moments are you still fretting over? What was the sinful event in your life that made you feel like you could never come back to believing the love God has for you? We need to remember that Christ rose from the dead so that we could be free of all the sins the devil has accused us of for decades. Like Peter, we have to turn our bad moments into an ah-ha moment where we accept the forgiveness of God through Christ and get on with the calling in our lives. We need to believe in the love that God has for us. 1John 4:16a And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.
      When we repent of our sins, that is not when God finds out about them, that is when we get rid of them through the Lord's love and mercy. The power that is in the righteous blood of our Lord Jesus will take away our sin and reproach that envelops our hearts. This amazing salvation is continually working within us every moment of the day. All we have to do is rest in it and believe it by faith. People are always chasing happiness. True happiness is walking in God's forgiveness. Psalm 32:1 O the happiness of him whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. Happy is that man!

Thursday, 17 November 2022

I’m The Wrong Fisherman

Proverbs 1:5 Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.

      I was talking with my friend Trent, and he was expressing his concern about being asked to do something ministerial that was not within his spiritual giftings. He said, "I'm the wrong fisherman for what they are asking me to do, but if they can't get anyone, I reckon I will do it until they find the right fisherman." Knowing our place in the kingdom of God is a blessing to the heart, and peace to the mind. Knowing that God has our life's plan in His hand, and has put within us certain giftings for particular work in His realm is reassuring. Jer. 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
      Being the wrong fisherman for the work at hand can be arduous to get the things that need to be accomplished done right. Having someone who cannot sing lead the congregation in the singing of praise can be hard for people to sing along without noticing the off notes and pitch. Yes, there are times when God's anointing takes over and it does not matter that the person leading is two beats behind and three notes too high, but that is God's grace loving on everyone while rescuing the time of praise and worship. It is not an endorsement that the terrible singer should keep the position. God's giftings are for specific purposes. 1Chron. 15:22 Kenaniah the head Levite was in charge of the singing; that was his responsibility because he was skillful at it.
      I remember a brother in the Lord had been asked to lead a bible college for a couple of trimesters until a leader could be found. He accepted the position, but he was not able to fulfill what God had put in his heart under the restrictions of college leadership requirements. I could tell he was not at peace with the assignment that came to him from a committee. He looked like he was smothering in a too-tight shirt collar that was buttoned to the neck. He decided to ask God for guidance and soon his answer came, allowing him to resign from the position. Prov. 1:5 Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance. His joy of the Lord returned in full when he was doing what God had put in his heart. As for the college position, he was the wrong fisherman for that kind of fishing in those kinds of waters.  
      People who know their God and know their place in His work are blessed because some people have difficulty finding their purpose and end up thinking God does not want to use them. This is so far from the truth. There are multiple areas of life when just passing a blessing forward can become a miracle in a person's life. Although most ministerial callings are exercised and developed within a church organization, not all ministry is found in a church. Most of the miracles recorded in the New Testament were done in the marketplace where common society lived their lives. People sometimes mix up the calling of God with being available in serving God. Everyone can be used by God, whether in full-time ministry or not. 2Tim. 2:20 In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use.
      I do not mind being a cheaper vessel used for everyday use, because the fruit can be so rewarding. I was working out at the gym and noticed a young man who had not been coming as regularly. He explained that he had started Chemotherapy and didn't have the strength to work out, but decided to workout out anyway. Right there at the gym, we prayed to our Heavenly Father for healing and favour during this difficult time. I was the right fisherman for that moment. James 5:16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. I did not need to get permission to do what God has already asked us to do, and that is to pray for each other.
     Somehow, we have made being a hand extended or a fisherman for the task on God's behalf a difficult thing. All we have to be is available, and God will move us into the right place and time. I know that we cannot die on every cross because there are so many needs to be met, but we can encourage and support those who are working tough, demanding, and burdensome ministries in God's realm. We may not feel the same compassion and have the same drive as some people, however, we can uphold them to our God so that He gives them the ability to complete their purpose. Matt. 9:38 Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest. When we pray for others to succeed, we too are blessed in what they do.
      For many of the offices in ministry, I am the wrong fisherman. If I find myself in that situation, then I need to ask God to lead me back to the waters where I do my best fishing for His kingdom. When I am fishing in the right waters, I can count on my Lord to equip me for the work. After all, the battle does belong to our Heavenly Father, and we serve our God to fulfill His vision for the world. May God bless us all and help us catch the souls He wants to bring into His realm of righteousness. Amen!

Thursday, 10 November 2022

Fortitudine Vincimus

Proverbs 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.
      
      Fortitudine Vincimus: By endurance we conquer. I would like to add to this statement. By endurance in Christ, we conquer all of the onslaughts that the enemy of our soul throws at us.
      Picking ourselves up after falling headlong into sin takes courage and endurance to keep running the lifelong race we are engaged in. Heb. 12:1b Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. The grace of God helps us repent, get up, and endure the battles of life that will come our way. With the guidance and corrections our Heavenly Father administers within our hearts, God also demonstrates the fulness of His love that He has for us. Heb. 12:7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 
       The goodness of God helps us repent and remain in a relationship with Him. Even when we are being disciplined by God, it is done with a loving hand. Psalm 103:13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear Him. Not only does God's loving discipline help us overcome sin, but it also gives us the endurance to fight the temptations and trials that the pressures of sin bring. James 1:2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
      The trend to pathologize every little problem people come up with as an excuse for their misbehaviour is grinding down the grit that was once part of a man's character strength. People are handing over their responsibility to mature as responsible adults to a laissez-faire social attitude that promotes mediocrity and sloth. I'm not advocating for strict ascetic practices, but it might be a good idea to at least adhere to the disciplines that keep us walking in Christ’s righteousness. 
      In his book, Discipline Is Destiny, Ryan Holiday writes, “A weak mind must be constantly entertained and stimulated. A strong mind can occupy itself and, more importantly, be still and vigilant in moments that demand it.“ Our Christian walk demands vigilance and being still, calm, and assured before our God. The question arises, how do we acquire a quiet spirit before God when we are constantly looking to be distracted and entertained? The Apostle Paul knew the words - vigilant and endurance. His life demonstrated the discipline he asked of others. 1Cor. 9:27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. The idea of disciplining ourselves to what God asks of us, and enduring the trials that will come has become irksome to many. They want an easy Christianity with all the blessings and none of the commitments or dedication to the Lord's righteousness.
      Hopefully, it is our intention as we come near the end of our time on earth to be able to say as Paul did. 2Tim. 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. This scripture has words and thoughts that need to be revived in our hearts. Words like. "I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith." These statements are becoming foreign concepts to a generation that thinks not upgrading their phone is a hardship and a sacrifice. Forgive my sarcasm, but, By Endurance We Conquer will take a supernatural awakening of the Holy Spirit if we are to become the people who can conquer what lies ahead.
      The word of the Lord continually encourages us to get up and destroy the works of darkness. This is not a small skirmish but a full-blown-out war against Satan and the kingdom of evil intentions. We will need God's discipline and His knowledge to valiantly overcome and win this fight. There does not seem to be a place on the sidelines to wait it out. We are in or out. As the Proverb says, we respond to God's discipline, or we end up dull-witted. What is it going to be? Prov. 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid. Father, in Jesus name, help us choose your disciplines so that we may endure and conquer in Christ. Amen.

Thursday, 3 November 2022

A Giant Germ Pit

Proverbs 1:10 My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them.
      
       When there is a sea of humanity gathered at a concert, a monster pot-luck, or a carnival festival packed with people, my friend Jessica, with a crinkled expression of disapproval and distaste, will describe those settings as a giant germ pit. You can go to the event healthy but may not come out that way. I know what she means, as not everyone is hygienically astute and therefore, can spread many illnesses to others. This image of a giant germ pit had me thinking of how the world is a giant sin pit if we allow ourselves to be infected by multiple sinful activities and illicit desires that are available. The similarities in what Jessica was saying sounded like the father's warnings to his son to stay away from the sin pit of society. Prov. 1:10 My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them. 
      We have seen over the past few years how all kinds of germs (and everything that word entails) can be caught just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Similarly, this can take place when someone happens to be walking through or hanging around a particularly known district that caters to the sinfulness that mankind chooses to play in, pay for, or promote. Sin, iniquity, and wickedness will eventually rub off if we continue to flirt with the sins that so easily beset us. Heb. 12:1 Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We need to protect ourselves from temptation's abundant supply of transgressions that are available all day long. The only way we will have the strength to overcome the lure of sinfulness is through the protection and power of the Holy Spirit. John 16:13a But when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will teach you all truth
      God the Father is giving us the same advice as the father is giving his son when he says, "My son if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them." Don't give into the many tricks and traps the enemy of our soul lays out for all to fall into. The sin pit is a difficult pit to climb out of once a person is entrenched in a life of iniquity. The scripture's use of the words miry clay to describe the type of dark quagmire to be climbed out of is a perfect example of the hardship one can find themselves in when trying to escape the results of sinful choices. 
      Miry clay will hold fast to whatever is stuck in it. Its thick viscous clay will cling to whatever it touches and will leave the stench of its fermenting bog on and around the person stuck in the oozing mess. The combination of clay, filth and smell overwhelms everything a person tries to do. Getting cleaned up is an ordeal, and this is why we need the Lord Jesus to pull us free out of the whole iniquitous swamp. Psalm 40:2 He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. We can be rescued because with God all things are possible. We can be delivered and healed, including being carried through the consequences of a sin-stained life. It will not be easy, but it can be done if we change our direction.
      Pastor Bryan Grant says it best. "If you don’t like what you are reaping, then change what you are sowing." If you don't like the reek you are emanating because of a sinful life, then change what you are sowing. If you don't like the sin pit you are stuck in, then change what you are sowing. If you don't like the giant germ pit you have become part of, then change what you are sowing! Gal. 6:7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. This type of sinful sowing only gets worse, because eventually, the sower of corruption will reap way more grief than they ever expected. Hos. 8:7a For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.
      We have to escape the old ways of life and we need to move into a new territory of righteousness that Jesus provides through His blood and sacrifice. There are sin and germ pits the world over, and we need to choose whether or not we are going to take part in what Satan is offering. Many will choose to participate in what sin has to offer, but that does not mean we have to join in. If we are in Christ, we can tear down (through faith and prayer) the strongholds that affect the weak-hearted. The weapons that God gives us are mighty in pulling down the evil spirit's effectiveness in promoting sinfulness. By faith in Christ, we are the soldiers and ministers to do it. 2Tim. 2:3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
       There have always been, and will always be, germ pits, sin pits, and miry clay pits to fall into. There will always be pits of despair, depression and destitution to crawl out of. We cannot effectively overcome all these pits on our own. We need the miracle work of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to fulfil our lives and help us do it righteously so that it lasts our whole life. Thank you, Lord, God, for giving us the choice to live outside of any sin-laced dark hole or deep grave that we come across in our daily walk. Thank you, Lord, for giving us Your strength to walk in Your righteousness and salvation. Amen!

Thursday, 27 October 2022

Conversational Quicksand

Proverbs 6:2 You have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth.

      I had the opportunity to step into some conversations quicksand this week. Those conversations we tend to avoid because of the possible arguments they can cause. I was with people I had not seen in a very long time. The topics of freedom rallies, cryptocurrency, vaccines, government tracking capabilities and other touchy things came up. With the Lord's grace, I was able to tip-toe by these volatile topics and change the subject without stepping into the inevitable conversational quicksand these matters bring up. Col. 4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Sinking into the neverending quagmire of uninformed opinions and rehashed rhetoric that has become irksome to many over the last few years is now something to be graciously avoided. 
      Political correctness, doublespeak, and subjects that lead to conversational quicksand have become the minefield in today's ever-increasing ideological biases that are spoken out and fought over throughout society. We can't seem to have a calm conversation without crossing someone's sacrosanct belief that they end up defending with a loud verbal diatribe that says we have just stepped into a dead zone of sticky and mercurial double-talk. Someone might have simply stated that they enjoy drinking their coffee black, and the resulting verbal tirade becomes a denunciation of how drinking black coffee is an act of exploitation against the coffee pickers of South America. Prov. 6:2 You have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth. The coffee drinker thinks, all I said was, "I like my coffee black, how did I end up in this screaming match about coffee pickers?" These are the erratic nuances pulsating through conversations these days. The spirit of Leviathan is working overtime to confuse mankind's ability to respectfully talk with each other. 
      The skill of communicating around a touchy subject will be a competence needed to get through a peaceful day. Learning to change the subject as fast as possible when noticing we are beginning to sink into a conversational dark pit is becoming an acquired skill. Many people are walking the razor's edge, careful not to disrupt anyone's anti-movement policy that has been taken up with full indignation. After all, we do have all of the information on all of the subjects all of the time. Ya right! Prov. 18:13 Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.
      The Apostle Paul could reason and talk about complicated subjects. Paul looked for the opportunity to ingratiate himself and bring forth what he believed into the conversations of the day. He clearly stated that he was a servant of Jesus Christ, but was also able to communicate with grace his willingness to reach out to anyone looking for answers in life. Acts 17:23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you. Paul proclaimed the good news and God supplied the words needed for the occasion.
      For those who find themselves falling into a pit of - oh, oh, how did I get into this conversation? The Lord has said that He will give us the right words at the right time, which will be needed when we are being persecuted for our faith, or need wisdom for a difficult moment. Matt.10:19 When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. God always has the word we need for any situation, however, it will take faith to believe God speaks clearly within our hearts.
       Hearing God is also an acquired skill. We need to put quality time and heart-felt zeal into hearing the Lord so that our relationship with Christ is at the forefront of our hearts and growing in maturity. How can we share what the Lord gives us if we are not familiar with communicating with Him, or used to hearing what He sounds like in our hearts? When God is guiding our thoughts and what comes out of our mouths, conversational quicksand will become a none issue, because wisdom will be the word of the day. May we all get through these temperamental times with the wisdom and grace of God on the tip of our tongues. Amen.

Thursday, 20 October 2022

Offended With God

Proverbs 19:11 Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offence.

      The ever-increasing number of people who live with offendedness within their hearts are finding it difficult to live with themselves. They often have a ready-made excuse for the disquieting noise vibrating in their souls that points to the lack of peace they are feeling. We have become a people who are touchy-feely and easy to upset. We are quick to fly off the handle and think the worse before we hear the whole story. Then, whatever the reason was for being offended, it ends up aired out on every social media platform, resulting in a lifetime recording of the offence being ranted about. This has become a national pastime while seeking viewers to give the rant and rave a thumbs up or down. 2Pet. 2:18a They brag about themselves with empty, foolish boasting.
      The sad thing is the increasing number of offended Christians venting their gripes in the church assemblies, and then vowing to never set foot in a church again. Even though Christians have the Lord who will heal the effects of offences when the hurts are brought to God, many still choose to be offended. The healing grace that is available to all believers in Christ is not fully accepted or appropriated to initiate reconciliation. It is disheartening to see Christians living like secular people stewing in offences causing them to live miserable lives. Why is this occurring? Choosing to be offended, disgruntled, or becoming aggrieved at every little thing is a sign of immaturity, or as the writer to the Hebrews suggests - being a baby still needing milk and a soother. Heb. 5:13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 
      We need to put on and use the whole armour of God and grow up within the expectations of our Lord. What people do not realize is that when they are offended with a person, in reality, they are offended with God. God will not allow any of His children to maintain an offence since the Lord's commandment is to forgive one another. If Christians maintain an offence in their heart, they become upset with God because they feel God is not on their side justifying their right to be offended. Therefore, in truth, they are offended with God, regardless of how they disguise their words and attitudes toward God. 
      We can see a similar example when Samuel tried to get the people of Israel to see that asking for a king rather than a God-appointed Judge would bring hardship to their lives. Samuel felt they were offended and angry with him, but in reality, God points out that it was God they had rejected. 1Sam. 8:7b They have not rejected you; they have rejected me as their king. To the least of these, you have done to me. God was saying, "Samuel, you are not the one they are offended with even though it feels that way. It is Me they are rejecting." God sees what is in the depth of a man's heart. In effect, when we are offended by a brother or sister in the Lord, we are offended with God Himself. 
      Rather than fighting God and demanding the right to be offended, we might want to take a lesson from Job, who thought he was right in his evaluation of the situation. Job kept defending himself in his own righteousness, and eventually saw that his self-righteousness was nothing compared to God's righteousness. He then professes a repenting statement that we too should declare. Job 42:3b Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. As someone profoundly said, “We cannot rise above something we do not name.” We will never overcome being offended until we admit to who or what we are offended with. God's will for all of us is that we are to be reconciled to each other and God. We are to repent of the offence we have picked up and leave it with God, who knows how to deal with this sin. Like all sin, offendedness was nailed to the cross and we can find forgiveness for it.
      Prov. 19:11 Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offence. Are you offended with your pastor? Then you are offended with God. Are you offended by your brother or sister in the Lord? Then you are offended with the Lord. Are you offended with your spouse, friend, or civic leader? Bring the offence to the Lord in prayer who will help you let it go. God's love for us is never in doubt, but He will not help us to keep sin in our hearts. If there is a side to pick, God is on His side, and we are to walk along with Him. God is truly for us and loves us, but He will not join us in upholding a transgression against Himself, others, or even ourselves. God's admonition to all Christians is to get along with all men as best as we can. Rom. 12:10 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Help us, Lord, to hand over our offences so that we may live in peace. Amen!

Thursday, 13 October 2022

Fictional Reality

Proverbs 6:18 A heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil.      
 
      Many citizens worldwide, and notably in the United States, have found themselves having a front-seat view and becoming participants in what seems to be real-life violent video games. The freaky realization is that it is happening in real-time and in mid-daylight. In these scenes of mayhem, characters from every level of life and race are pawns being moved by master gamers. There is no on-off switch to stop or pause the game being played out. From what is taking place in the war-torn streets of Syria to the slums of downtown Los Angeles, it is like watching the progress of someone moving through game levels as they use a handheld gaming console, controlled by two major players who are named, Need and Want.  
      Shoppers coming out of a mall, carrying multiple brand-name parcels are targeted and robbed by bandits running them over using a car or truck. The robbers take everything these people have and leave them laying injured as they race away in their vehicle. Prov. 6:18 A heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil. Store invasions by vandals are so violently overwhelming that the staff are walking away from their jobs to safer places. The owners of the brand-name stores are shutting their businesses down and leaving the city and state. Street muggings are being recorded on webcam video feeds, and the muggers are smiling for the cameras as they carry out their crimes. All happening on a repetitive daily basis and becoming apocalyptic. Gen. 6:5 The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.
      It is heartbreaking to see drug-crazed zombie-like souls trudging along in the agony of their hell as they wander through the inner city slums they have become residents of. I can't help but think of all the post-apocalypse, zombie outbreaks, alien invasions, atomic accidents, and catastrophic end-of-the-world movie scenes and scenarios that now seem to be taking place before our eyes. It is as if fiction has become reality. The sad thing is the only answer the ruling ideologues can come up with is to suggest that everyone pick up a gun to defend themselves while they continue to spew out slogans to defund law enforcement officers. What are these leaders who are talking out of both sides of their mouths expecting citizens to do? Why can't they help the people who voted them into positions of power? 2Tim. 4:3a For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching.
      I have recommended this on many occasions, but it bears repeating. God asks us to pray for our leaders who are in power so that God can get through to their hearts and help them make sane decisions rather than the helter-skelter choices they are making now. 1Tim. 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, 2 for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. The reward for taking the time to pray for our leaders in all areas of government is that we who do pray will live in God's peace. It does not mean that there will be peace in the land, but God will make sure that we will live in peace and dignity. That is an amazing trade-off for living in a precarious world full of dangers on every side. This may sound like religious fiction, but it is a holy reality that we can walk in.
      It is such a blessing that God has us looking up to Him when the world is hellbent on destruction. Luke 28:21 So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near! God knew this day would come upon us and that we would need to come through it in His power. I can understand why so many folks are moving off the grid and buying acreage. I also understand why so many more people want to do the same. It is a feeling of wanting to escape to a quiet place. However, it does not matter where you go, you will still need the wisdom of God and a righteous relationship with Him to make it through life, even out in the boonies.
      We need to double down in our faith and believe the word of God that promises us that God will never leave us forsaken. Heb. 13:5b God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” As I look at all the unjust events going on around the world and watch what was once written as fiction become a form of reality being projected daily on news feeds, I have no choice but to call upon the Lord Jesus for the strength to make it through the day. This blessed assurance can only come through Christ our saviour. I cannot fabricate God's peace and confidence within my heart without Jesus living there in the first place. Thank you, Lord, for the reality of your grace and salvation that has been given to us through Christ. Lord, help us see that your love is not fiction but the real thing. Help us walk in the assurance of our salvation. Amen!

Thursday, 6 October 2022

Desperate To Believe

Proverbs 29:1 Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.
     
      We have gone through a lengthy dispensation of uncertainty. There is a desperation within people who want to believe in something significant or someone of strength, or anything of value. These desperate souls can become disappointed, disheartened, and depressed when their trust has been betrayed by those they believed in. At the point of betrayal, they will either admit to making the wrong choice and will learn from the experience, or double down and remain obstinant in believing the one who deceived them. When a person chooses what they want to hear regardless of what others have said, this chosen blindness to the truth is childish and can be ruinous to a person's life. Their stiff-necked attitude will cause problems. Prov. 29:1 Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.      
      For example, when someone puts their faith in the words of a political leader and that leader is exposed as a fraud and has been caught in criminal acts, the trust that was in that person gets shaken. If those who put their trust in the fallen politician continue to stubbornly deny they did anything wrong, then they will also have to admit to themselves that they were wrong with their choice of candidate. Their admission to being deceived does not settle well in a person who is desperate to believe in something relevant. It reflects poorly on their self-esteem, which barely exists because they have nothing of substance to believe in. Jer. 17:5 This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD.
      In the last few years of disruptions throughout the world, there have been a lot of desperate feelings in people's souls. They are latching onto whatever they can if only to believe in something. Many people have become bitterly disappointed with government leaders. When these politicians make promises, it is often said or written in vagueness and designed to be misunderstood and therefore, can be denied, leaving the impression of being corrupt or inept. In some cases both. It is not only in the political arena that this is happening. Unethical business practices, school-board shenanigans, and condo strata groups all seem to be laced with perfidious management and double-dealings.
      Where there is no God, all is permitted and foolishness reigns. Psalm 14:1a The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” Where there is no belief in God, the desperation to believe in something becomes paramount in people's lives. The fundamental need that vibrates within our existence is to believe in something. We were created in God's image and have a built-in desire to worship, believe, and express our hearts. This is what separates us from all creation. The problem we create is when we remove God from our belief system - we end up vulnerable to being deceived. This is why some of the most nonsensical things will be defended by seemingly intelligent people and will cause the strangest of choices to be clutched onto.
      When reading historical events, we sometimes marvel at the people's ignorant and silly ways they dealt with their problems, and we think, "Surely they must have seen how pathetic and irrational it was to believe in despots like Hitler, Stalin, or Mao Zedong." We smirk and mock those who once believed in ridiculous superstitions, mythical beings, and those who thought the world was flat, and yet, we are no different. To this day, we allow despots to rule and wage war and they are still arguing whether the world is flat or not. We are constantly discovering how ignorant we are and prove our folly by what we defend and insist on believing regardless of the mountain of evidence to the contrary. Rom. 1:22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. In a hundred years from now, what will the people be laughing their heads off at the woeful choices we made and the nonsense we insisted on defending even with the evidence of the truth that surrounded us?    
      There is a high intensity of polarising views worldwide. The desperation to believe in something is causing this divergence in people's hearts and the only way it will stop is to believe in who God has given us to save our souls. John 3:15 That whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. Jesus is Lord, and if we could start from that premise there would be a softening of the hearts to allow Godly reasoning to influence our lives. The Lord instructs us to test what is said before we run headlong into something contrived and irrational, and give our souls to defending it. 1John 4:1 Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.
      Jesus is our lifeline, and through Christ, we can walk in His peace and grace rather than the world's desperation, dysfunction, or disillusionment. The Lord provides clear answers for our heart's necessities, but we need to ask the Lord for the answers by faith, and we need to act upon the wisdom He gives us. If our hearts are full of Jesus, we won't be so heartbroken when those who manage the world's affairs let us down. We might even become mature enough to pray for them rather than curse their existence. Our desperation should be in wanting more of what God has for every one of us. Jer. 29:13 And you shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart. When our hearts are busy seeking God it will be difficult for the events of the world to disrupt the eternal assurance we have in Christ. Desperate beliefs will not be part of our daily bread. Amen!

Thursday, 29 September 2022

Stop Watering Dead Plants

Proverbs 11:25 The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.
      
      I understand that when people do not know God, they throw out a flare-prayer request to the powers that be, asking for success in their worldly endeavours. They are doing what they think a god is used for. I get it. We were all there at one time before we met God the Father, through Jesus Christ. We would kind of look up and say, "If you are real God, maybe you can do this for me or give me this thing." However, Christians ought to know better when asking by faith, what God's will is for their lives. Sometimes, Christians will ask God to bless something that has been long dead or has no resurrection life in it. They will also keep asking for a "Yes" on a dubious want when God has already said "No" to it. 
      Stop asking God to bless what is not blessable. Quit trying to twist God’s arm into agreeing with your choices of sins and iniquities. This is what the non-saved do. Stop making the word of God say what you want to permit yourself to do outside of God's will. This is what immature Christians do. The Lord cannot agree with the sin you take pleasure in. Hab. 1:13a But you are pure and cannot stand the sight of evil. Will you wink at their treachery? How can a holy God bless our sinful choices? Stop watering dead requests. We need to align ourselves to the Lord's standard of living through Christ and not ask God to come down to our state of degradation. 2Cor. 6:17 Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. 
      God cannot support our choice to disobey, and the Holy Spirit will always bring conviction within our souls when we are walking in disobedience. If a person has lost their peace, that is a good indication that God is not blessing their recent choices. The love of God for every person is never in doubt, but God's blessing upon our lives can wane because of our desire for a sinful lifestyle that leads to death. Plus, that sinful desire is not a joy to the Lord nor can He permit it. Why would we give our heart's love to dead projects and ways of living that God will not bless? Let the dead things die if they are not of God. Luke 9:60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” We need to change our focus and take our eyes off what the Lord considers a dead issue, and refocus on the things that bring life to our souls.
      It is only after the prodigal son had wasted everything he had, and participated in every kind of misspent activity that he finally woke up to himself. He realized that God was not blessing anything he did. From a rich heir to a low-level servant, dishing out pig slop that he was thinking of eating because he was starving. All because of his lifestyle choices. Luke 15:16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. He had come to a place where no one gave him anything. I'm only speculating here, but what happened to all the people who helped him waste his inheritance? Where were the comrades and joyful pats on the back that came from the so-called friends who helped him sin his life away? The prodigal kept watering a dead lifestyle, and the lifestyle was giving him back the death he had sown.
      Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. The futility of watering dead plants is a waste of water, and so do we waste our lives when we follow a parallel path. If we sow death, then death is the harvest we get. Someone might say, "I thought the generous soul will be made rich. Why did the prodigal son not get richer as he lavishly spent everything on everyone? If that is how the prodigal son blew his wealth, he learned the hard lesson. Being a good steward of God's wealth, and being irresponsible with - whatever money can buy - are two different things. God gives us wealth to be a blessing and an encouragement to those who are trying to make it in life. We are not to add to the cursed life that so many people are living. Don't water the dead things of the world that are at work in another person's life. Help God's goodness water them so they can get out of the dead zone they find themselves in. Prov. 11:25 The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.
      I know people who keep watering terrible family relationships that are dead and have been dead for years. Some water dead friendships only end up drained of life themselves because they keep giving everything to the friendship. These people are wasting water through their own efforts, and they need to know that only prayer to God for the family and friends' souls who have become dead bones need God to do the watering with His life-giving waters. Rev. 22:17b Let the one who is thirsty come. Let the one who desires take the water of life freely. We are God's hand extended, but we are not God. Stop watering dead issues, and give that mess over to God. Only the Lord knows how to bring the dead back to life, so ask God to do the watering for you. Eze. 37:5 This is what the Lord GOD says to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you will live. Amen and amen!