Friday, 28 December 2018

We Can Do Better

Proverbs 15:17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.

      We can do better, but we have to want to. We can do better and we can be better at who we are and how we grow as individuals. However, we will have to want it and put action to it much more than just saying it with no heartfelt desire of changing.
      There was a man whose name was Jabez. We get an idea of his life being rough and not fair because his mother named him after her sorrowful delivery while giving birth. Furthermore, he seems to have had brothers who were not honoring toward him. 1 Chro. 4:9 And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow. Jabez was named after a bad experience, and love seemed to be missing in his life. Prov. 15:17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.
      
      Many people use excuses of their dysfunctional upbringing and poor circumstances to determine their poor choices in life. Jails are full of people who say they just could not make anything of their lives because of their poverty, alcoholic and drug-addicted family members, and poor choices of friends. Escape from these problems was impossible, and jail was inevitable. This is the tale they tell continually. I do agree that hard environments can cause a trend of lawlessness and self-esteem difficulties when there are no honorable role models. However, the final choices we make are still our own. We have to want to change in order to change. We cannot just wish upon a star and voila, it's done.
      Jabez wanted something more than what he had. He felt things could be better. He felt he could do better, so he went to God in faith with a simple prayer. 1 Chro. 4:10 He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request. Jabez was dealing with troubles and pain, and it caused him to consider God and not choose a destructive life path as some of his brothers did. Jabez wanted what everyone wants, but he had the sense to go to the Creator of life and ask for it.
      Maybe you feel stuck in a dead-end job with no hope for the future. Then ask God for the courage to want to change who you are and not fear thinking you could do better. You may have lived with a just-get-by life and you have a dream that things could be better. Ask God to bless you and expand your territory. Even our Lord Jesus wanted a better covenant for us. He did it with the work of the cross. Heb. 8:6 But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. The Lord's heart for us was and is for something better and we just have to say, "Yes Lord, I want that better covenant and all the blessings that come with it."
      We can all do better because the Lord of glory lives within us. We were once dead in our trespasses and sins, but no longer do we have to stay there. We have been delivered from those shackles and we can now move forward with Christ, overcoming the troubles and the pain that once had control of our lives. 
      Like Jabez, we can ask God to give us more territory and a larger sphere of influence in the kingdom of God, plus a better life purpose. We just have to want it with all of our hearts. That is the true depth of the prayer Jabez released by faith. He wanted something much more and the plea of his heart was heard on high. Jabez was serious and meant what he was asking. How serious are you about changing your destiny, or is it all just talk?
      No Saints. We can do better. There comes a time when we must realize that when we come to God with a simple an honest request, He will hear us. It is time to believe that life can be better. Eph. 3:20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Blessings to you.

Friday, 21 December 2018

A Living Hope

Proverbs 13:12 Hope delayed makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

      1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
     We are so fortunate to have a hope that is alive and living within us. This is not a wishing kind of hoping that maybe we might get something a bit better than we have right now. No saints! This is a living hope that lets us know we have an eternal inheritance in heaven and a vibrant love that is working out God's salvation through Christ within us. 1 Pet. 1:4 And we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. 
      We are able to live by faith because our hope is real and established in Christ the Lord. Without a living hope alive within us, faith cannot grow or manifest. 1 Thes. 1:3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. Inspired hope produces faith. If there is no hope in God, then our faith will wane and become ineffective.
      Without hope alive in our soul that can be seen and lived out, there literally is no hope. When God ministers to our soul, we are filled with hope because His love produces an eternal expectation in our hearts. Lam. 3:24 The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. However, when hope is removed, then so does the ability to love and walk by faith. 
      We read the effects of lost hope when the reaction of Eli the priest finds out the ark of the Lord was captured by the Philistines.‭‭ Eli hears that his sons have died in battle. 1 Sam. 4:17 And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken. 
      You would have thought there would have been a stunning reaction to the news that his sons had died. But the scripture says that when Eli heard the ark had been captured, his reaction was so shockingly upsetting that he falls off his chair and breaks his neck and dies. 1 Sam. ‭4:18a‬ When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backward off the chair by the city gate, and since he was old and heavy, his neck broke and he died. 
      Was it because the hope for Israel had been taken out of the land? The ark held the very presence of God and a living hope to the people. Eli lost hope in that very second of realization when he got the news the ark of God was gone. 
      This reaction seems to be prevalent because Eli's daughter-in-law went into premature labor and gave birth because of the shock of that same news. She died giving birth, but before she dies she names her son with a hopeless name. 1 Sam. 4:21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband. She died in pain while losing hope.
      The moment the presence of God is gone from one's life, the hope that was in God also goes away leaving a person without a working hope. How then can faith work in a life with no hope in it? This is why Jesus is the living hope. The hope of eternal life within us is alive; therefore, we have faith in our Savior. 
      We have hope because we have an inheritance in heaven and in our God. Put your living hope in a living Savior. Jesus is the living hope who gave His life for us so that we would have faith in God and give glory to His name. Psalm 33:20 We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. 
      If we have Jesus we have hope eternal, and that hope lives and moves within our soul. Keep your hope alive and give God the praise and faith due to His name. Amen!

Friday, 14 December 2018

Night Thoughts

Proverbs 3:24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid; you will lie down, and your sleep will be pleasant.

      Psalm 16:7 I will bless the LORD who counsels me —even at night when my thoughts trouble me.
      Everybody has them - night thoughts. The thoughts that float their way into our thinking just before sleep takes us under and hopefully into a night of rest. Those thoughts that come and either please or disturb our soul. Thoughts that hover in that void just before sleep. That place of uncertainty where we wonder what eternity holds. We are utterly alone with our thoughts. If we have a clean conscience, then sleep comes easy. Prov. 3:24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid; you will lie down, and your sleep will be pleasant. 
      However, if we don't have a clean conscience or a blessed assurance, then the questions that dog our mind will last into the night saying, "Who am I? What am I? Why am I? Have I done the right things? What will happen to me when I die? Where will I go when I die? Why can't I sleep? Why is this happening to me?" An endless night of night thoughts chirping away at our rest.
      God uses our sleep time to help us stay the course and keep the plans God has sown into our lives. Job 33:15 In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; 16 then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction, 17 that he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man. 

      I believe God comes to us while we sleep and seals our instructions for our life within us so we cannot argue with Him. Otherwise, there would be no end to the "Why Lord?" in everything God would say to us. This way we can clean up and repent of what our conscience is showing us because God's word is at work within us.
      Those who choose to be their own god will wrestle with night thoughts. They will have rehearsed the justifications they have used to do the things they did in selfishness or anger, no matter who was hurt or destroyed. Rationalization and excuse-ology 101 are the gymnastics going on in the hearts and minds of these sleepless souls. Isa. 57:20 But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. 21 There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked. Night thoughts haunt the soul and give no rest because there is always a time of reckoning in our lives, and just before sleep is the time all of life's noises have been shut off. 
      The quietness before sleep is the only time we are finally lying still. Then like a rising fog in the valley of doubt, thoughts come one by one to be judged and ranked in order of importance of God's word. God has given us a conscience and it is either clean with the grace of God's love or sullied with self-righteousness which produces fears, uncertainty, and sometimes terrors. Psalm 73:19 How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors.
      A clean and hope-filled conscience will be rewarded with a sleep from God that is truly restful, bringing health and peace to our whole lives. Psalm 4:8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makes me dwell in safety. Our night thoughts will be thoughts of peace and affirmation of God's love for us. We will know that we know God is for us. 

      When was the last time you rested in God and slept the sleep of the Innocent? Think of God's goodness and thank Him for it. Come to Him if you are in need of rest. Matt. 11:28 Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Rest and peace be in you. Amen.

Friday, 7 December 2018

When God Interrupts

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

      I was asked recently why a lot of Christians seem to be stuck in the same place they have been for the last few years. No growth, maturity, wisdom, or vision. What is happening and why is this dull passivity being chosen as a way to exist? It seems like a level of maturity is reached and then it dwindles from that point to simply coasting along. Rev. 3:15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot.
      I think one of the answers is that most people who live a nominal Christian life are fearful that God will ask them to do something they do not want to do. They are afraid God will ask them to sacrifice something they do not want to sacrifice in their lives. Some believe wrongly that if they get too close to God, then God will expect impossible feats of grandeur from them. So they stay just outside of the rang of God's voice, so to speak, and allow the volume of the world's activity to drown out God's still small voice. Then when someone gets blessed beyond human measure, they whine and complain these blessings never happen to them.
      
I am not saying all Christians are living in this insipid miasma, but a lot of them are. What we need to realize is that we want God to come along and interrupt our lives and shake it up so we can be a history changer in the short time we have on this side of eternity. Eph. 5:16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
      When Gabriel visited Mary with the news that she would give birth to Jesus, her world had been interrupted severely. Luke 1:30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. Change was on the way like she had never experienced. God had interrupted Mary's life and history was made.
      Gideon is threshing wheat and hiding it from the Midianites when God interrupts his oh hum day of just getting by on what could be scrounged. Judges 6:12 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. After Gideon got over the shock of being told he had been chosen to deliver Israel from the oppressors of the day, his interrupted life changed forever. Gideon went from hiding behind a wine press clipping coupons to meet his needs, to leading an army to victory with the Lord's help.
      The Samaritan woman who was dealing with relationship breakdown on a regular basis was on her way to draw water from the well when she was interrupted by Jesus who asked her for a drink of water. An everyday event turned into a life-changing blessing beyond her expectation of life and the men in it. John 4:28 The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, 29 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? Come see a real man who interrupted my co-dependent lifestyle and gave me understanding of my own heart. Come and see this man.
      Saints, we want God to come and ask us to do something we do not want to do in our own strength. We want our world changed and interrupted by God so that our lives would be far reaching into the possibilities of eternal grace. 

      Be encouraged that when God interrupts, it is for an eternal good and not some inconvenience to our shallow lives. You and God are a majority and a great team. Open your heart's ear and hear what the Spirit is saying and let Him interrupt your day. Life may never be the same again. Jer. 33:3 Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Amen Lord, show me your possibilities in me.