Friday, 27 December 2019

Uncomfortable Prayer

Proverbs 12:25 Anxiety in a person’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up.

      Teresa of Ávila said, "More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones."
      Praying God's will for your life can be uncomfortable. God might ask you to do something that seems to be an enormous request. Nonetheless, it has been asked. When Jesus was praying in the garden of Gethsemane, it was not a pleasant time. It was a time to come to grips with why Jesus came to earth. Luke 22:42b Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done. The courage it took for Jesus to say, "Your will be done" was immense. 

      God may ask you to forgive someone for doing something so heinous and brutal, even though the brutality affected your life. The Lord may ask you to sacrifice something that means so much to you. No matter the degree of difficulty in the natural, we still have to come to God in prayer, and it may be very uncomfortable. God is moved by faith and not the hardships we are going through. Heb. 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
      I had a discussion with my uncle who is having a hard time forgiving two people in his life. One of them is dead, and the other is alive. The interesting thing is that the one who is dead, has so much power over my uncle's life, even though this person is no longer on this earth. The bitterness and resentment my uncle is feeling are being controlled by someone long in the grave. My uncle was being weighed down in anxiety because he could not forgive the past. Prov. 12:25a Anxiety in a person’s heart weighs it down.
      I explained to him - as uncomfortable as it is, he is going to have to forgive the actions that were done to him many years ago. God was asking him to forgive a dead man so that my uncle could be set free to go on living. "This is not an easy prayer," he said. The discomfort came when it was clear that my uncle wanted grace for himself but the judgment of God on those who had hurt him. He only started to get his peace when he asked God to help him forgive the living and the dead. I heard someone say, "What the tongue promises, the body must follow." If the tongue forgives, the body, soul, and mind will heal.
      We wouldn't need a saviour if we could do all these hard things on our own. We need our Lord's help in all our lives and all that we do. Phil. 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Whether we need deliverance from sin we participate in regularly, or we are dealing with a monstrous challenge in our life, we need to get down to some prayer time with the Lord no matter how uncomfortable it seems. 
      When Daniel was in the lion's den, it was not a comfortable place to pray from or situation to be in. But all he could do was pray. When Jonah was in the belly of the great fish, it was most definitely not a comfortable place to pray or be in. But, again, what choice did Jonah have but to pray? Jonah 2:1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish. After being whipped and chained in the deepest dungeon, Paul and Silas prayed and praised God in the discomfort of their pain and humiliation. These people prayed uncomfortable prayers in uncomfortable times but ended up in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
      Our Heavenly Father may be asking us to do some hard things. It will take prayer and we may not have a nice comfortable closet to pray in. We may be in the depths of our despair, pain, or suffering. The discomfort might even be palpable. Nonetheless, what else are we going to do? Psalm 121:1 I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? 2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth! That is it, saints. We keep looking to God in all our trials and hard times.
      We may be in a place of uncomfortable prayer because of a terrible situation. But, when a good word comes from God, our hearts will lose the anxiety that weighed it down. We will rise in the confidence of our God who loves us. 1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15 and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
      Father, we press into your eternal love and guidance. Many of us are going through very hard times and need your help. We ask for your help, courage, and strength as we go through the valley of shadows with our Lord and Saviour Jesus. We thank you, Lord, that through Christ, we have the victory for our lives, now and evermore. Amen!

Friday, 20 December 2019

Smile By Faith

Proverbs 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.

      Luke 18:8b But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?
      Good question. How many will have kept their faith through all the trials and tribulations that are coming against the saints on the earth? I am so grateful that one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is the gift of faith. 1 Cor.12:7 A manifestation of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good, 9a the same Spirit gives great faith to another. We can call upon the Lord and ask for His faith to be poured within us so that we can confidently walk by faith in what God has called us to do. This is truly a win-win blessing.

      This is why we can smile by faith, no matter what valley of darkness we are going through. The facts may be that you are fighting a terrible disease, but God's truth says, you have been given His word that heals. Psalm 107:20 He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions. The facts in your life may find you struggling at every turn, but God's truth is, you are more than an overcomer in all battles. Rom. 8:37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 
      Asking God for His faith to be at work within us so that we can fight the good fight of faith, is a gift worth asking for. Wouldn't you rather face the enemy of your soul with God's powerful faith? Count me in on that blessing. Prov. 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.
      Sarah, in her old age, gave birth to a son, by believing God's promise to her. Her faith turned into laughter. Gen. 21:6 And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. The years that led up to this miracle were not always easy for Sarah. However, there came the day when Sarah's faith put a smile in her heart, because she had been smiling by faith at the promise God had made to her. Gen. 21:1 And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.
      We all have dreams and visions that we want to fulfill in this life. By faith, put a smile on your face and in your heart, and keep pressing into God's word for your life. There will be trials and obstacles along the way, but we are fit for the fight. We have the God of the universe living in our hearts. We have the gifts of the Holy Spirit within our grasp if we ask for them. No wonder Satan hates us - we have everything he tried to steal from God. But God, out of His love for us, gave us these wonderful blessings.
      When the Lord returns, how many will He find on the earth who have faith? We live in a very secular world-system that makes it clear what side of righteousness we have to choose. It will take honest faith in the Lord to make our walk with God genuine and of Godly substance. We are going to have to smile by faith in a lot of the strange and confusing circumstances that are becoming commonplace in the world. 
      God was not caught off guard by the events taking place in our time. He knows what we need to get through our personal battles and have victory over the temptations of this present life. God's gift of faith is needed every day, and I ask for it regularly. By faith, I can put a smile on my face, and walk in the grace of my salvation through Christ who loves me. In Jesus name, may the Lord find faith at work within us when He returns. Amen!

Friday, 13 December 2019

Unintended Consequences

Proverbs 24:12 If you say, “But we didn’t know about this,” won’t he who weighs hearts consider it? Won’t he who protects your life know? Won’t he repay a person according to his work?

      In 1957 a visiting beekeeper accidentally released some aggressive African bees into the wilds of Brazil, and the unintended consequence resulted in what we know today as - killers bees. Invasive species of animals, reptiles, bugs, and plants in most cases are the result of people not thinking things through as they introduce these species from other countries into the local environment. The resulting havoc has brought monstrous problems to certain parts of the world. Burmese pythons in Florida. Cane toads in Australia. Snakehead fish in California have created difficulties for the domestic species in these areas and are causing great budgetary cost to eradicate the unwanted invasive species.
      In most cases, the innocent small action of the people who released these invasive species did not intend to create a national disaster or set out to destroy the ecological environment of local species that are now on the verge of extinction. However, the unintended consequences have hurt a lot of people and the natural habitats of many diverse creatures. 
      Everything we do has an effect on someone or something. When we choose to sin we do not just hurt ourselves. The unintended consequences can have far-reaching implications that reach out and touch many. We only have to look to the first recorded sin to see the truth of the matter. Gen. 3:17 And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.
      We read the story of a young prophet who was sent by God to bring a judgment against the altars of Bethel. King Jeroboam invited the prophet back to his palace, but the prophet said he could not go with the king because God had given him specific instructions. 1Kings 13:9 For I was commanded by the word of the LORD: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water or return by the way you came.’ The word was clear and the young prophet was heading out in another direction according to the word he had received.
      There was an older prophet from Bethel who went after the young man and lied to him saying, "God had instructed the young prophet to come and eat at his house." 1 Kings 13:18 And he said to him, “I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘Bring him back with you into your house that he may eat bread and drink water.’” But he lied to him. I have no idea why a prophet of God would lie to another, but he did. 
      Some would say, "It was only a small lie. What harm could come of it?" Lots of harm came of it. The unintended consequence of falling for the lie turned out to cost the young prophet dearly. Because he had disobeyed the direct word of the Lord and had believed the lie, he paid for it with his life. 1Kings 13:24 And as he went away a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his body was thrown in the road, and the donkey stood beside it; the lion also stood beside the body.
      When the ten spies returned from the land of Canaan with the evil report that said, "They were too small a people to take on the giants in the land." Num. 13:33b To ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and we must have seemed the same to them. The unintended consequence affected that whole generation. They all died in the desert and only Caleb and Joshua entered the promised land along with the descendants of the fallen. The sins of ten spies cause a whole generation to lose their inheritance. What seemed to be a small counterreaction to what God had said was possible, turned out to be disastrous.
      How we live our lives matters and has a great effect on those who are in our sphere of influence. No one falls alone! God knows our hearts, and we cannot claim ignorance of what we know to be true and right, then turn, and act to the contrary. Prov. 24:12 If you say, “But we didn’t know about this,” won’t he who weighs hearts consider it? Won’t he who protects your life know? Won’t he repay a person according to his work?
       Before you write-off your actions as insignificant, ponder the results of the said actions. What has God asked you to do that you have put off because you just don't deem it important? What cheat, betrayal of trust, or lie are you about to take part in that could negatively affect your life for a long time? Even on this side of the cross, the wages of sin is still death. We who are in Christ should keep our hearts and minds clean and available to the work of the Lord. Let us not be the reason that others fall from grace. Let us be the reason that others sought God and lived. Amen!

Friday, 6 December 2019

Ironies To Contemplate

Proverbs 28:21 It is not good to show partiality — yet even a courageous person may sin for a piece of bread.

      The Word of God has many mysteries and ironies to contemplate. The world also has its share of ironies to think about. One of the questions I have often asked God is about the irony found in the above proverb. Prov. 28:21b Yet even a courageous person may sin for a piece of bread. My part of the conversation with God normally goes like this. "Since a man may sin, transgress, or steal for a piece of bread, then why did you create him to need that piece of bread for earthly existence? This seems to be a catch twenty-two type of situation." Of course, many answers could be debated as to why, but there it is, an irony to contemplate.
      I heard someone say. "Here's an irony for you. If God is in charge of everything, including your life, then why ask Him to change the circumstance that you are in?" A good question, if we were fatalists. However, Jesus asks us to be part of the answer that the world needs. The Lord admonishes us to pray and ask God to send His help to change circumstances. Matt. 9:38 Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest. 
      Our Heavenly Father also invites us to come and reason with Him regardless of the deprivation we find ourselves in. Isa. 1:18 Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like woolRelationship with God gives us a way or an invested interest in being part of God's eternal plan. We were created in His image to exercise our creative ability to solve problems and contemplate the complexities, mysteries, and ironies of life.
      In the last few weeks, I've been attending some big family reunions, birthday parties, and gatherings. Some of the ironies I've noticed and thought about are, "Why are alcoholics so thirsty? Why are gluttons so hungry? Why do toxic people try to bring everyone down to their level of patheticness?" I'm not pointing anyone out in particular, because I'm not their judge. These thoughts are only my observations of those who are acting out some destructive behaviours. Eccl. 1:14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun and have found everything to be futile, a pursuit of the wind. Besides, if you ask my family about me, they will point out a few things in my life that they wonder about. I've come to realize, I can't change the people around me, but I can change the people who are around me, and therefore, simplify some of the ironic oddities that surround me. 
      To me, one of the ironies of life is that God has given us all we need to become the blessed of the Lord, and yet, that blessed gift is thrown back in His face with malice. People want to be freed, but don't want freedom. These same people who reject God's eternal offer, go on to live a life of destruction, then complain that their life is so unfair. Prov.23:29 Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? It's like a prisoner complaining his incarceration for murder is limiting his liberties
      It is true that with Christ a lot of problems can be conquered, overcome, and defeated. But we don't live in a world where everyone accepts the authority of God for their lives. We live in a fallen world where murder, corruption, and harsh dictatorships are considered reasonable options. Just a way of doing business so to speak. The world's business card reads - Mayhem R Us. Pslam 12:1 Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. 2 They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. 
       I have been contemplating a lot of things these past few weeks, and no matter how many theories or opinions people come up with for the woes of the world, it still comes down to this choice. Eccl. 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
      So, I come back to my questions for God on the proverb. Prov. 28:21b Yet even a courageous person may sin for a piece of bread. I believe the answer for me is - even though I need bread to live, I also need to obey God who is the bread of life and has given me His life. Bread, in itself, may give us what we need for our daily existence, but God's gift through Christ gives us our eternal life. That life gives us the power to choose God's will and choose Him as our Lord and provider. Therefore, enhancing the reason for living beyond the existence of this world. I can live with that. Blessings to us all.

Friday, 29 November 2019

Wheels Within Wheels

Proverbs 25:2 It is God’s privilege to conceal things and the king’s privilege to discover them.

      Ezekiel 1:15 When I looked at the living creatures, there was one wheel on the ground beside each of the four-faced creatures. 16 The appearance of the wheels and their craftsmanship was like the gleam of beryl, and all four had the same likeness. Their appearance and craftsmanship was like a wheel within a wheel.
      A wheel moving within a wheel speaks of continual motion and the march of time revealing God's eternal plan. The Lord's plan for man is forever moving forward and will be fulfilled regardless of what anyone thinks or does. Our Heavenly Father may have concealed many mysteries, but He expects us to find out what they are with His help. One of the most incredible aspects of God's goodness is that He wants us to share in His love and eternal life. The Lord desires and encourages us to discover how wonderful and neverending is His grace that He has made available to us all. Prov. 25:2 It is God’s privilege to conceal things and the king’s privilege to discover them.
      God's love is in perpetual motion toward us and becomes evident in the life we receive through Christ. The power of God's love moves like a wheel within a wheel, a mystery within a mystery, a prophecy within a prophecy, and a word within a word. Always displaying a new and wonderful aspect of God's favorable love for us. Right from creation, the Spirit moved. Gen. 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. The Spirit of the Lord is always moving toward us in grace.
      I have had a personal relationship with the Lord for more than half of my life and have been involved in some kind of ministry throughout the same amount of time. For over forty years I've loved the Lord and revelled in His magnificence. Truly the width, breadth, and depth of finding out who God is - is beyond comprehension. Rom. 11:33  Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! The continual discovery of God's goodness never stops moving or revealing its greatness. This aspect of discovery will never end throughout eternity. We will always be growing in God's love forever and ever.
      We, the created of God, are only eternal beings, but God is an infinite God, and our relationship with Him will always be new and fresh. Throughout our eternity, each time the wheel turns and rotates so to speak will expose a new and magnificent revelation of God to our hearts. The joy of that revelatory moment will explode into expressions of wow, wow, and wow! Our eternal gladness will be beyond our capacity to contain it. Count me in on that amount of love that will be mine to live in. Yes, bring it on.
      The Apostle Paul was not a spiritual lightweight. Yet, he had a hard time explaining being in God's very presence. 2 Cor. 12:1 This boasting will do no good, but I must go on. I will reluctantly tell about visions and revelations from the Lord. I was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether I was in my body or out of my body, I don’t know—only God knows. Fourteen years later, Paul is still trying to wrap his heart and mind around his incredible experience of being overwhelmed by standing in front of Almighty God. Yet, in that encounter, Paul was able to glean the instructions from the Lord to write so much of the New Testament. Talk about trying to explain a mystery within a mystery or a wheel within a wheel.
      If we came face to face with our Lord, we too would react like so many who felt that they were about to die. The intenseness of God's purity and holy presence does not allow us to stand there and not be affected or answer His call. We are not talking about some sports phenom or the president of a nation. We are talking about Almighty God who has given all He can to bless and save our souls. May we all keep moving forward with God's plan for our lives and become part of that wheel within the mystery of God's goodness. Amen, and amen!

Friday, 22 November 2019

I Post Therefore I am

Proverbs 30:3 I have not mastered human wisdom, nor do I know the Holy One.

      René Descartes said, "I think, therefore, I am." If René was alive today, he may have well said, "I post, therefore, I am." You would think that with all the technological advantages available at everyone's fingertip in this world, mankind would have reached some kind of spiritual intelligence that would uplift the human race. Yet, we look around and see that we are as pathetic and self-absorbed as ever. Yes, we have made great strides in technology and can communicate this technology within milliseconds. However, we have not mastered the wisdom needed to honour and respect one another, nor are we inclined to seeking God.
      There are blogs, videos, webpages, and scores of documents of every kind on any subject ever thought of under the sun. Whether the subjects are good or evil, we can access the information, then repost it within seconds. On a worldwide scale, we post at accelerated speeds, and everyone can give a pseudo-opinion on anything, whether they know the subject or not. As my friend Scott says, "People are just rearranging the cliches." In other words, there does not seem to be much original thought. Therefore, we are just regurgitating human idealism while still lacking the wisdom of doing what God has asked us to do. Prov. 30:2 Surely I am more stupid than any man, and do not have the understanding of a man.
      Posting for all to see, is not a new thing. God was doing it a long time ago, and when He did it, He got people's attention. Dan. 5:5 At that moment the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and began writing on the plaster of the king’s palace wall next to the lampstand. As the king watched the hand that was writing, 6 his face turned pale, and his thoughts so terrified him that he soiled himself and his knees knocked together. Talk about a post that had a life-changing impact. 
      Belshazzar, the king, was doing what most people do when they think they have made it in life, and do not thank God for their fortunate blessings. The king was putting on the party of the century while showing off all he owned and bragging about all his accomplishments. A self-made ruler or tycoon so to speak. But God had something to say to this king. Dan. 5:25 This is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. The post was clear and to the point, as read in Dan. 5:26 to 28 God has numbered the days of your reign and has brought it to an end. You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. 
      What an amazing post the Lord scratched into the plaster of the king's wall. Nothing to misunderstand and nothing to misinterpret. The effect was so real and truthful that the king began to panic and shut down physically. Fear had taken over his body. At that point, all the information in the kingdom could not have helped Belshazzar because he was spiritually bankrupt. Similarly, this is the spirit of our day. We know a lot, but in reality, know very little when it comes to real-life substance. 
      What has God posted on the wall of your heart? What has the Lord been showing us that we need to take notice of? It does not matter how many trillions of post the world puts out on the world-wide-web claiming to know everything knowable. If what is written is contrary to the plan that God has for your life, then it is all second rate knowledge and in most cases, mindless dribble.
      When God declares, proclaims, and posts something, we had better take notice. I may have billions of bytes of information at my fingertips, but if I don't have God's wisdom to use the information, then what good is it? Prov. 30:3 I have not mastered human wisdom, nor do I know the Holy One. Throughout my life, I will most likely post many articles. However, the posting is not who I am, it is only one of the things I do. What I am is the righteousness of God through Christ. That is who I am. This identity was given to me through Christ. Blessings.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

If You Want

Proverbs 21:21 Whoever pursues righteousness and gracious love finds life, righteousness, and honor.

      Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Righteousness is something we have to want. A question that many people are asking is, "Why should I care about being right with God?" This is a good question - especially for the people who do not know or walk with God. What are some compelling reasons for being righteous or being right with God? Why should anyone care?
      I'm asking this question because I am involved in ministry, and I have noticed a trend among people who are just floundering through life, not caring whether they are right with God or not. I feel like we have missed the message Jesus asked us to proclaim, and that is - we can now be right with God the Father, because of what Jesus did on the cross. We should be able to see the magnificence of this God-given gift that is such a wow-miracle for all of mankind. Yet, there is little desire or enthusiasm to be right with God. What will compel a man to want righteousness?
      I know that the enemy of our soul has blinded the eyes of many to see this incredible gift. 2 Cor. 4:4 In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. As previously referenced, "Righteousness is something we have to want." It would seem to me, that at least one compelling reason to want to be right with God, would be, to get rid of the devil's influence in our lives.
      What is everyone looking for in life? Most people are looking for real-life and the meaning of it. When a person wants to be right with God and pursues it God's way, that person will find life. Prov. 21:21 Whoever pursues righteousness and gracious love finds life, righteousness, and honor. This is a compelling reason to want to be right with God. We will finally find life. Jesus, who is the life, says, "If you want life and be able to enter into the fullness of life, then keep His commands, Matt. 19:17b But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments." Notice, Jesus said, "If you want to enter life." It has to be our choice, and we have to want it! I have to want God's life working in me to receive real life.
      When we become, through faith, the righteousness of God in Christ, we have life now. 2 Cor. 5:21 God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. This is good news and a compelling reason to choose life. We have the right to stand with our Heavenly Father because of what Jesus did for us. Because of Jesus' sacrifice, I have found my life.
      We read the story of Bartimaeus who was blind. Bartimaeus wanted life and a better life at that. As Jesus walked by him, he called out loudly for Jesus to help him. When Jesus asked him to come near. The Lord said, "What do you want?" Mark 10:51 Then Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man replied, "Rabbi, let me see again." Jesus healed him right there and then because Bartimaeus wanted his sight - so he could have a better life.
      How much more will Jesus give us His righteousness so we can be right with our heavenly Father? However, we have to ask for it by faith and have a willingness to want it. The compelling reason to want to be right with God - is that God, wants us to be right with Him. John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. If you want, you can have eternal life. If you hunger and thirst for righteousness, you will receive it. But you have to want it.

Friday, 8 November 2019

Famine In Paradise

Proverbs 11:3 The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.

      Genesis 47:4 And they said to Pharaoh, “We have come to stay in the land for a while because there is no grazing land for your servants’ sheep, since the famine in the land of Canaan has been severe. So now, please let your servants settle in the land of Goshen.” 
      How can there be a famine in the land of promise? I thought God would make sure nothing bad or difficult would happen to me once I signed on the dotted salvation line? We are being unrealistic if we think we will coast through this life with no battles to overcome in our walk with God. We have an enemy who's main intention toward all man is destruction, mayhem, and death. 
      Sometimes Christians are befuddled when things go wrong in their lives - as if being in Christ solves all problems instantly. "Why am I having these troubles if God is on my side?" is a question often asked. In a lot of situations, we are having problems because God is with us. John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. 
      Remember that relationship with God is not an insurance policy for a perfect life, but rather, it is a blessed assurance of the fact that God is for us and in the end, we will come out victorious. However, going through life will have multiple challenges of all kinds. Some will be easy enough to overcome and some will become brutal battles with casualties.
      As Christians, we will need our faith to defeat sickness, disease, and stress as many people in the world do. We will set goals throughout our life and will have ups and downs when the enemy of our soul throws a wicked curveball our way. We are in a world where many terrible events happen. But, we are not of the world where we face these events alone. We have the Lord in our hearts and on our side directing us through the valley of life's shadows. However, we do not stop and become a resident in the valley of turmoil. Our life is hidden in Christ and we will resurrect to victory.
      Rebekah was dealing with the fact that she could not conceive a child. If Rebekah was in covenant with God as her husband Isaac was, then why all the infertility problems? Didn't God promise Abraham that the whole world would be blessed because of Abraham's descendants? Gen. 22:18 And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me. 
      Relationship with the Lord is not a guarantee for easy living, but rather, a call to prayer and devotion with our God. The Lord will guide us toward conquering the giants before us when we ask for His help by faith. Gen. ‭25:21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife because she was childless. The Lord was receptive to his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived.
      King David was a man after God's heart, and yet, he had major battles after he inherited the promises of God concerning his reign. The Apostles had to overcome some of the most treacherous attacks on their character and physical bodies after they had been proclaimed the leaders of our faith. Historically, the cruelty perpetrated on the men and women of God has been outrageous and shameful, and yet, these saints belonged to God and battled forward. Heb. 10:32 Remember the earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings. All these people endured after the promises of Christ had been fulfilled in their lives. 
      Can there be a famine in the land of promise? Yes, but this should not stop us from proclaiming the promises of God. We should not stop drawing closer to the heart of our heavenly Father. When we keep our integrity during hard times, God will guide us through the mess. Prov. 11:2 The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them. If there can be a famine in the land of promise while we walk in the blessings of the Lord, then imagine the devastating war-torn deprivation that is prevalent in the world system, where there is no hope, future, or restoration of the soul.
      We who are in the Lord, always have a redemptive hope in our hearts. Christ, our beacon leads us through the battlefields of life where we are more than conquerors. We never need to worry, because the Lord will keep us and guide us to the very end. Psalm 48:14 For that is what God is like. He is our God forever and ever, and he will guide us until we die.

Friday, 1 November 2019

Your Schadenfreude is showing

Proverbs 24:17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles. 

      Isaiah‬ ‭3:9 The look on their faces testifies against them, and like Sodom, they flaunt their sin; they do not conceal it. Woe to them, for they have brought disaster on themselves. When disaster comes upon an enemy, politician, celebrity, or leader as a result of their destructive behavior, and the mess they caused brings the wrath of the world down upon themselves, then we need to be very careful about our joy and gloating concerning this person's fall from grace. The world media may be dumping hateful remarks twenty-four-seven on this fallen pariah, however, we Christians should remember to watch our step, less our schadenfreude starts to show. Prov. 24:17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, 18 or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them.
     When another person's bad fortune secretly makes you feel good, then your schadenfreude is showing. We all have to keep this type of self-righteous envy under control, or we may become a victim of our own disaster. Prov 27:4 Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy? As a society, have we not grown beyond the need of locking someone up with stocks and pillory in a public square, then shamefully abusing them to the point of humiliation? 
      We use terms like, "It was poetic justice that got them, or what goes around comes around." Many people rationalize their cheap shots and remarks. However, we should remember, "If not for the grace of God there go I." Plus, poetic justice, will not be enough justice for some, as they will want justice that brings personal satisfaction, and that satisfaction is a bottomless pit that can never be satisfied. 
      We have just come through a federal election in Canada. The vitriol expressed among the candidates was the normal disingenuous rhetoric that is normally heard in elections. However, it was disheartening to see the venomous lashing out, and fulminating anger coming out of the Canadian voters. I am concerned about the heart of who we are as a people. I may not want a certain candidate to win their electoral seat, but I do not wish destructive failure upon them as a parent, grandparent, spouse, or fellow citizen of this country.          
      Even though these elected members have a national responsibility throughout our country, they also have the same rights that we all enjoy and live by. What they may not have, is someone praying for them, and that is our mandate as Christians living in this free dominion. We are to pray for our leader's hearts and conscience to be responsive to the will of God. 1 Tim. 2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people.  Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. Please notice. The above verse does not guarantee that there will be peace in the land, but it does say, if I pray for my leaders, I will live peacefully.
      Posting hate and violent intentions through all the media platforms after the fact, as in, (Hey, the election is over and determined) is not going to get the work that needs doing - done. Making death threats, smashing, and defacing candidates' offices with derogatory slurs, then bragging about it, will only bring self-destruction on the ones acting out in this mob mentality. The upshot for these thugs is that the very freedom they are upset about losing - they end up losing through incarceration. Prov. 26:27  Whoever digs a pit will fall into it; if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them. 
      We need to gather our God-given emotions and bring them into line with the will of our God. When our schadenfreude is showing, and we are delighted and feel good at the misfortune of another human being, it makes us an ugly people. We shout, scream, and have fun when our sports team wins against a rival team we do not like. However, we do not jump for joy when a player on either team is physically hurt or ruined from the sport for life. Hopefully, we have not fallen so low in our souls to make this place of existence our default setting in life. 
      The law of God is love. In this loveless world, this commandment from God can be difficult to live up to. This is why we need His grace to help us love the unlovable. If you have been enjoying the fall of someone you feel deserves everything they got. Then ask God to show you what you deserved before Christ saved your soul. The Lord does not sit back and enjoy the fallen state and mess we find ourselves in. God gave His Son to free us from the pranger, stock, or pillory the enemy of our soul had us shackled to. If Christ did this for us, then we too can try and do it for others. Prov 28:9 Anyone who turns his ear away from hearing the law — even his prayer is detestable.

Friday, 25 October 2019

Where Are The Bereans?

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death.

      Acts 17:10 As soon as it was night, the brothers and sisters sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. Upon arrival, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 The people here were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, since they received the word with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
      Just because something is said from a church pulpit, doesn't automatically mean it is true. As the Berean saints did, we should also be doing. They examined the scriptures daily to see if the things being taught were so. We are responsible for the choices we make in our Christian walk and responsible to make sure the doctrines, teachings, and ministries we are living under are biblically sound and Holy Spirit led.
       Jesus said to believe in Him because of what the scriptures said. John 7:38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. Notice the method Jesus said to use for believing in Him. "As the Scripture has said," and not because He was putting on a big rock-star healing show, with fog machines and religious words being tossed to the crowd with a mind-numbing beat. I'm not going on a rant of, "Look at all the problems in the church." I'm concerned as to what we are adopting as spiritual based truth. I am pointing out a few things that should be investigated using the word of God. It is true that historically, the church grew and grows in the contemporary season of the times it is in. But hopefully, the growing church is led by the Holy Spirit and not the zeitgeist of the day.
       Just because someone comes out with a new personal interpretation of a so-called bible, revelation, or a mystical discovery doesn't make it divinely inspired. Even if the person who wrote the self-proclaimed work says, it came by a vision, dream, or osmosis through a holy man. We, like the Bereans, should seek the scriptures to see if what is written is true. Our pedagogy should reflect the methods Jesus, Paul, and the other Apostles used in teaching the scriptures. They did not teach personal interpretations of the scriptures to accommodate the trends of their day. They continually referred to what the Word of God said, and taught the truth from that pivotal position.
      We have been here before on numerous occasions throughout history. Jim Jones, who founded Peoples Temple, claimed he was a reincarnation of Christ and Buddha. The sad thing is that only a portion of the congregation walked out. Shouldn't have all the people walked out because of that nonsensical claim? If your pastor said, that he was Christ, would you stay in that congregation? James Warren Jones, and not Jesus, led nine-hundred people to their death by drinking the poisonous Koolaid. Prov 14:14a The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways.
      The soulism emanating from the secularism sneaking into our churches has become palpable. We should be concerned if our Sunday services are becoming an electronic event of bits and bytes with pithy and cutesy sayings being proclaimed by a sloganeer rather than a shepherd called of the Lord. I am not saying this is going on in every church. However, we need to check the source of where these trends of pseudo ministries are coming from. We don't need another Sunday with self-proclaimed ministers pumping out uninspired monologues while having a sing-along of hallow praise and worship. Prov. 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death. We need the Word of God being ministered to our hearts and not a watered-down social review of how things ought to be in this day and age.
      You might say, "But I feel good when I sing that popular song in church." Good for you, because there is a health benefit to singing happy songs as it releases the feel-good hormones of dopamine and prolactin bringing happiness and comradery. I feel good too, and get some of the same uplifting feelings when I sing along on FM radio, but I am fully aware that it is not praise and worship per se. It is a sing-along feel-good emotional experience. Don't confuse the feeling of a good body vibe and rhythm with the anointed presence of God. 1 John 4:1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 
      Yes, it is true that I experience God's intimate closeness as I walk through the day. I see God's hand in so many daily events. But these events do not become the doctrines of belief. These personal signs and wonders that we experienced are the developing love and relationship with our Lord. We may get a personal insight into a doctrine of belief but we cannot build our whole life and salvation on it. It is definitely a great platform to build from, but we are to live the full gospel of Christ by faith. Psalm 12: 6 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
      So my friends, what are we to do if we want the anointed glory and not the worldly gorry in our lives? Like the Bereans, we should search the scriptures to find our way. The scriptures say to pray for our church leaders and one another. Col. 4:3a And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message. Eph. 6:18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 
      Our church leaders need prayer like never before. They are fighting a battle on two fronts. On one front, the social demands of people wanting their personal sin to be accepted as their human right, and on the other front, the demonic forces coming against the body of Christ. Our ministers need God's leading and help in expressing the heart of God to bring overcoming victory to His ecclesia. Heb. 13:7 Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith.
      I have often reminded my students to go and find what I am teaching in the Word of God. I've expressed that they should not take everything I teach at face value, but, like the Bereans, go and see if these things being taught are so. We need the discernment of the Holy Spirit in all that we do, and that includes doing church. Col. 3:23  Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people. So, I say it again. "Where are the Bereans?" May God give us the heart of the Bereans so that we may be strong in our walk with God, and our understanding of His word. Amen!

Friday, 18 October 2019

Excuseology 101

Proverbs 14:8 The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.

      So, what's your excuse? The excuses used to not do a task can take more energy than actually doing the task. Last Friday afternoon, I got hit with one big flu-bug that brought shaking chills throughout my body, a gravelly sound coming from my throat, and dizziness that kept me laying down wrapped in a wool blanket. I slept all day and kept sleeping right into the early morning of the next day. I woke up energy-weak and muscle-sore but I felt a whole lot better.
      I normally arrive at the gym early on Saturdays. On that Saturday morning, however, I was feeling the residual effects of the previous day's bug. I had a good excuse not to go to the gym, but there was this other bug tickling my brain. I said, "Now listen here Norm. If you use the - I don't feel well excuse this morning, then what will be the excuse next Saturday morning, and the Saturday after that?" I'm too tired, I don't have time, I don't feel up to it, and finally, I don't want to go anymore! It does not take much effort to break a good healthy habit.
      In our perfidy, we trick ourselves by using ready-made lies to give up on what was once important. It is so easy to deceive ourselves with excuses of all kinds. Prov. 14:8 The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception. Before we know it, we are practising excuseology 101 in all our ways. Needless to say, I did go down to the gym and did my best with the energy I had. I was pleased that I had gone and worked out, because I pushed through a lot of pain and stiffness. With God's grace, I felt much better throughout the rest of the day.
      We read in the parable of the Ten Minas, a master had given his servants money to invest according to the servant's capabilities. The first two servants, without excuse, brought back a capital-gain that was pleasing to the master. The third servant who allowed fear and laziness to direct his actions came up with a grandiose excuse for not working, rather than creating a return on capital. Luke 19:20  But the third servant brought back only the original amount of money and said, ‘Master, I hid your money and kept it safe. 21 I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man.
       Excuses are a dime a dozen, as the saying goes. We can put our energy into getting out of work, or use our energy to complete the work. The energy itself doesn't care which way you go, as the energy will get used up either way. Therefore, use God's energy in your life to bring about life. 
      In the Gospel of John, we read the story of a man who had been lying in his debilitating sickness for a very long time. John 5:5 One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. John 5:7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” For thirty-eight years this man had used the excuse that he had no one to help. Was this possible after all that time, that there was no one to help? Interestingly, Jesus asked him if he wanted to get well. John 5:6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” 
      This poor man with no one to help had used that belief as an excuse for his permanent lot in life. When Jesus asked, "Do you want to get well?" He was showing the man that his focus was on his excuse of having no one to lend a hand. Do you want to get well and change the way you have lived and believed for the last thirty-eight years? I'm just speculating, but I think the Lord wanted him to declare his desire to be healed and move forward without excuses.
      We all have to answer this same question when it comes to our lives and whether we will continue to exercise our repertoire of excuses day after day. Do you want to get well? Do you want victory over what is holding you back? Do you want to live? Do you want to lose all that weight that is making you ill? Do you want to come out from under your deception and change your thinking? Well, do you? What's your excuse? 
      Of course, we all want victory in our lives, and we all want to be well and made whole. Therefore, let us change our excuses for declarations of faith, of what we want in the Lord, and focus on that. 
      Learning to stop the excuses in their tracks before they come out of our mouth would go a long way toward our maturity in Christ. We have to stay ahead of our duplicitous human nature that manifests so easily into laziness. If we are going to cut class, then let it be Excuseology 101, because most people have an A+ in that course. Blessings saints. Be strong in the Lord and the power of His might. Amen!

Friday, 11 October 2019

Better Than Yesterday

Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

      In the early 1920s, Émile Coué, a French psychologist and pharmacist taught a healing-method using positive autosuggestion, by saying twenty times when you first woke up, and twenty times before you went to bed, “Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better.” He also suggested repeating this mantra-like positive declaration a few times throughout the day. His results for healing the mind and body were very good and his method was considered avant-guard.
      In the late fall of 2014, while I was recovering from the effects of a stroke that I had suffered, I used Émile Coué's saying day after day in my prayers. While I walked in the park and I forced my body to work through an exercise program the Lord had encouraged me to do, I would pray out loud, "Lord, God, I thank you, that every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better. In Jesus name.” Prov. 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
      Often, my friends and family would ask how I was feeling. I would repeat those healing words, "By the grace of the Lord, every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better." Yes, I did receive some strange looks, but I didn't care, because it was my life on the line and no one else's. I had to believe by faith for my healing, because I knew Jesus had suffered on the cross to get it for me. 1 Pet. 2:24 He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.
      Eventually, days and months went by. I started feeling better than the previous day. Again, when asked how I was getting along, I would say, "Better than yesterday." I am blessed to report that five years later, I am doing very well and have overcome many health challenges, plus have fought many battles with God's help and I have conquered. Yes, there is still more to do and to keep doing. With the Lord's grace flowing through me, I am in much better shape mentally, physically, and spiritually than I was yesterday.
      Through Christ, God has given us the authority and permission to say what God says in His word about our life situations. We just have to do it, no matter how silly or impractical people think we are being. After all, God did say we are a peculiar people. 1 Pet. 2:9a But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people. In this case, the word peculiar means special, and that - we are!
      There is nothing new in what  Émile Coué was teaching. God had already revealed this method of healing thousands of years earlier. The Lord said, we should say and declare what the Word of God says we can be. Joel 3:10b Let the weak say, I am strong. Our Heavenly Father has given us His instruction through His word to say, "I am Strong!" We might even say it this way. "Every day, in every way, I'm getting stronger and stronger." Prov. 23:7a For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.
      Jesus taught us to say to the mountains in our life - be thrown into the sea. Mark 11:23 Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Whatever mountains there are in our lives, they can be overcome by proclaiming God's living word. It will take faith and courage to stand in faith and declare God's promises in our lives. If we don't do it for ourselves, then who will? We have to say, "I am strong in the Lord!" 
      Whatever our Egypt is that we are escaping from, we have been given instructions by our God to declare the victory we want to have in Christ. We should understand that yesterday is gone and today must be lived in the salvation of the Lord Jesus. 2 Cor. 6:2 For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. 
      When is the day of salvation? Now! Today is the day of salvation. That is what will make this day better than yesterday. When we act on that truth, we will all be able to say, "Every day and every way my salvation is getting better and better, amen."

Friday, 4 October 2019

An Audience Of One

Proverbs 5:21 For your ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all your paths.  

      In this world where pseudo fame and celebrity-statist is persued at a Herculean pace, many people are preoccupied with building and creating a personal brand for the world to buy into. It has become easy to lose sight of what is truly important. Gal. 1:10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. 

      If we are in Christ, then our lives are lived for the audience of one. Our Heavenly Father, is the only one we must satisfy. If we are living in the obedience of God's will through faith, then we are living in reality. Even though it feels good to have the approval of others, we will not need it, because we have God's acceptance and approval working in our soul.
      The self-absorption and antics that people participate in, to give the masses the impression that they've got it all together, have created many ills and dysphorias within people's lives. Sadness, depression, and hyper-anxiety have become the result of this false existence. The healing and recovery that will be needed to restore these people from the effects of these self-inflicted emotional wounds can take a long time. If the Lord is not involved in the restoration of these hurting souls, the healing can take longer.
      Most of the time, these people, are looking for some sort of affirmation to give relevance to their existence. Therefore, they spend much of their time auditioning for acceptance by everyone - except for the one who matters - God. When people perform for an audience of tens or thousands to be validated as a somebody, they will soon find out that they cannot please everybody. However, when we live our life for the audience of God, then through His Son Jesus, we can please Him by faith and be fulfilled. 

      In the end, the only thing that will matter is what God thinks. On judgment day, it is only you, and you alone, standing before God. The Lord will not be consulting the so-called status of your social media brand to find out who you are. He knows who we are at all times. Prov. 5:21 For your ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all your paths.
      Thank God, His banner over us is love, and because of that, the Lord has provided a way to receive God's righteousness through Jesus. Sng. 2:4 He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. Believing that God wants His best for us, will help persuade us to focus on pleasing God and serving Him with a full heart. The Lord will be our audience and our desire. King David said that doing God's will was a joy. Psalm 40:8 I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart. I believe, this is the joy of life everyone is looking for, but we will have to accept God's gift of salvation to live in that joy, and have the peace that comes with it.
      Perhaps, if we stopped and realize that God is watching our lives and cheering us along, we would be more discerning about our life choices. The Apostle Paul was continually living his life for the audience of one. Phil. 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. "To live is Christ," was Paul's main expression from his heart. The Apostle Paul was focused on fulfilling God's will in his life.
      Paul had seen the vain value of his personal religious brand, which he showcased for the approval of the priests of his day. Once he had accepted the Lord Jesus, as his saviour, Paul could see the importance of living his life for the audience of one. Phil. 3:8 More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ.
      Saints, this is the goal of our hearts. We continually press toward the high calling that the Lord has placed on our lives. We live to please our Heavenly Father, who is the only infinite being whose love and judgment matters. Isa. 43:11 I, yes I, am the LORD, and there is no other Savior. When we all take our final bow, may our eyes be on Him who first loved us. Amen!

Friday, 27 September 2019

Rotten In The Middle

Proverbs 20:11 Even a young man is known by his actions — by whether his behavior is pure and upright.

      In January of 1979, I was travelling through New Zealand. In the small community of Orewa north of Aukland, while standing in front of a small corner grocery store, waiting for a bus. The owner of the store came out carrying two big cardboard shipping boxes of apples with a logo on the box that I immediately recognized. The apples came from a small town just north of where I live in British Columbia. A grocery delivery-truck was pulling up and parking in front of the store just as I was about to say to the store owner, "Hey, that is where I'm from, and those apples are shipped and delivered just down the road from me." Before I could say anything, the grocer said to the truck-driver very loud and emphatically, "Don't bring this brand anymore, they are always rotten in the middle!" Needless to say, I did not pipe up one bit.
      I've never forgotten that loud and vocal declaration of rottenness. A few times over the years, as I've driven by that particular apple company's warehouse, I sometimes say, "I wonder if the apples are still rotten in the middle?" I remember the apples were so red and polished on the outside. It would be hard to see that they were rotten on the inside. These beautiful apples were hiding the fact that they were not what they seemed.
      What is happening on the inside of your soul? Are you spotless on the outside and rotten in the middle so to speak? Matt. 23:27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of the bones of the dead and every kind of impurity. Do you feel like things could be a whole lot cleaner on the inside? 
      To simply act as if we love God, will be discovered by God, because He knows what and who we are on the inside. The word hypocrite, from the Greek word 'hypokrites', means "an actor." Are we just pretending to love God and acting out a role in our Christianity, or, are our motives pure and upright toward the Lord? Prov. 20:11 Even a young man is known by his actions — by whether his behavior is pure and upright.
     This is the phony pretence Jesus was trying to reveal in the heart's of the spiritual leaders when discussions of the law came up. Matt. 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. The priests, scribes, and religious activists of the day could put on a big outward display of self-righteousness and flamboyant rhetoric, but they had no Godly substance within their hearts. Matt. 6:5 Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward. Jesus was exposing the rottenness in the middle and was trying to show us our need for an inward transformation that could only come from God Himself.
      God the Father, is after a relationship with His creation and is not interested in a bunch of automatons who are set on automatic religious response. The Lord wants a life-giving heart to heart relationship that brings out the eternal best in who we are. God has made a way through Christ and the cross to make it possible for us to get cleaned up on the inside and replace the rottenness of soul with real life.
      Unlike the Scribes and Pharisees, we should never interpret the Word of God to suit our personal views, then, turn around and expect God to honor our interpretation as if God Himself wrote it. It is our pride that makes us create our own rules and laws that were never God's intention. Isa. 29:13 The Lord said: These people approach me with their speeches to honor me with lip-service — yet their hearts are far from me, and human rules direct their worship of me. 
      Our Heavenly Father is continually moving toward us so that we draw closer to Him. If we turn our hearts to God and let Him heal our insides through the blood and sacrifice of Jesus, then, it will no longer be said of us that we are always rotten in the middle. On the contrary, the righteousness and grace of God will have filled our core with His life. Amen!

Friday, 20 September 2019

Jesus In The Fast Lane

Proverbs 4:25 Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.

      I was laughing inwardly, as someone was complaining that God was not moving fast enough on their prayer request. This person was wondering why God did not notice they were in a hurry to get this thing done and completed - like, right now! I can just see Jesus pushing his way through the crowds saying, "Hey, get out of the way! I'm in a hurry here. I've got miracles to perform and corpses to raise. Oh yeah, and there is that big bunch of people I've got to feed out in the field."  Yeah, right. Jesus in the fast lane. This vision of Jesus doesn't quite make it into my heart. Matt. 11:29 Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
      We may be all travelling at the speed of light in this world, but God has His timing on everything. Eccl. 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. Waiting for God to do His work in our hearts can be a long wait if we are fighting Him along the way. Believing God for a miracle takes faith and patience on our part. We do not snap our fingers and God jumps to our instructions. 
      We who are in Christ must come to God by faith, and not demanding our list of stuff that must be done. We must first believe that God is God and He is sovereign over all of life. Heb. 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
      Indeed, it sometimes feels like God is not moving fast enough on our behalf. Especially when it was God in the first place who put the actual vision we are believing for in our hearts. Sarai could no longer wait for God's timing to have the child that the Lord had promised her. Saria instructed Abram to sleep with her bondservant so that Sarai could have a surrogate child. Gen. 16:2 Sarai said to Abram, “Since the LORD has prevented me from bearing children, go to my slave; perhaps through her I can build a family.” And Abram agreed to what Sarai said. Sarai's fast lane idea didn't work out well at all. God did not go along with Saria's plan but stuck to His own eternal one.
      King Saul could not wait for Samuel to show up and minister the sacrifice to God. Saul's troops were starting to desert him, so Saul decided to minister the sacrificial ceremony himself to hurry things along. 1 Sam. 13:8 He waited seven days for the appointed time that Samuel had set, but Samuel didn’t come to Gilgal, and the troops were deserting him. 9 So Saul said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” Then he offered the burnt offering. Because of this impatient fast lane decision, Saul lost his kingdom, and the events in his life went downhill from this point on.
      We are never going to force Jesus into the fast lane of our time table. We have to line our lives up with His plan and timeline. Our focus must be on what the Lord has sown in our hearts and we are to keep our way straight by His grace. Prov. 4:25 Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. 
      So many people want everything by yesterday's date. However, the Kingdom of God works line upon line, and precept upon precept, so that the Lord's plans come to pass in the fullness of God's time. Isa. 28:10 For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.
      Trusting in God takes faith and patience. There have been times in my life when I simply thought of a prayer that I would pray, and the answer to that prayer manifested within the hour. There have been times when the answer to my prayers took months, and other times, many years. What I have come to understand is that when I pray by faith, I also have to trust that God's timing will make all things work for the good of my life and those of whom I am connected with. Rom. 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. 
      The keywords in the above verse are, "According to His purpose." We can get caught up in the fast lanes of life trying to make God fulfill our purpose. The Lord is the creator, and we are the created. We have to keep that perspective in our life while living out our relationship with God. 
      Jesus is Lord, master, saviour and friend. He knows when and what we need. We just have to trust His love, grace, and timing. Prov. 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Blessings to us all.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Working Through It

Proverbs 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

      Over five years ago, I covenanted with God, with His grace, that I would do my best to take care of my heart that misses a beat. Because of poor life choices, work-related stress, plus, bad eating habits, I caused my heart to become diseased and eventually I suffered a stroke. I have changed my lifestyle entirely, while I keep believing God to heal my heart, and restore it to its full natural capacity. 
      Whole and real foods have become my diet of choice, and I have been working out regularly at the gym and some of the exercise parks available in my area. Working through so many lifestyle changes has become a focus in my life. One of the keys that resulted in my present good health was knowing that I was always working through a phase of hardship to the eventual accomplishment I was after. Plus, I did not resent the slow progress that sometimes showed up. Zec. 4:10a Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin. It took a lot of effort and time, but truly worth it.
      While working out at the gym, one of the noticeable regularities is that each person is working through something in their workout routine. Some, are working through a new pain that occurred since they started exercising the muscles in a different part of their body. While many, are working toward their goals of strength and weights that they set for themselves. Others are just working out how they are going to get through the first week of training while whizzing, grunting, moaning, and screaming, "I'm never coming back," or "I will get through this come hell or high water."
      The overall theme is - everyone is working through something, and it is going to take more than just talk to get their weight-training and lifestyle changes done. It's going to take the diligence of heart and character to work through some of the difficulties that will be encountered. Prov. 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
      Every level of training brings new challenges, and it is no different in our walk with God. There will never be a time when we are not going through some kind of spiritual growth and strengthening in our faith. Phil. 3:13 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, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
      Remember that the rain falls on the just and the unjust equally. There will be some hardships in life and that is part of living. However, we have our heavenly Father who will guide us through the difficulties. The Lord will help us stand by faith in the promises of His word. 
      The Apostle Paul who suffered extensively throughout his ministry had many reasons to give up but wrote that God had continually rescued him. 2 Tim. 3:10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. Name it, and Paul went through it.
      I don't know what you are going through right now, but please realize that you are travelling in a temporary place. You do not have to stop and live there for the rest of your life. You are walking through the valley of shadows because you are battling what life throws at you. 
      We are all working through something, and they who know their God will come out victorious. We will eventually see that we were growing from glory to glory. It may take time, but as in health training, it is worth it, because this holy training is of eternal value. God bless you and give you the strength to accomplish what the Lord has put in your heart to do.