Thursday, 29 July 2021

Blind Trust

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

      Whenever I think of a faithful man with blind trust in a human leader, I think of Uriah, who was doublecrossed and set up to be murdered by his own king whom Uriah had faithfully served. 2Sam. 11:15 In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.” He was left for dead by his fellow soldiers who did not protect his back in battle by orders of King David. Uriah's blind trust in his king got him killed even though the king supposedly followed the laws of God. Whatever trust the soldiers had in their king, up to that point, most likely started to wane because the generals and soldiers knew who had ordered the murder of Uriah.
      This is only my speculation here. I wonder if David having betrayed and murdered his own faithful soldier for no crime or cause, (except to cover up David's own sin) might have tipped the scales against David in building the temple. Because in this case, there truly was innocent blood on David's hands. Now, this is the recorded reason God gives David for not letting him build God's temple.1Chron. 22:8 But the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘You have shed much blood and have waged great wars. You shall not build a house to my name, because you have shed so much blood before me on the earth.
      God wants us to trust Him with all of our hearts, but does that mean we are to trust the man of God with the same trust we have in God? Prov. 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. I believe we can trust men when their lives line up with the word but never give them blind trust. The Bereans did not put their trust in the Apostle Paul because he was a great apostle, but rather, he was eventually trusted because what he said could be backed up by scripture. Acts 17:11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
      Blind trust without God's protection in our hearts can get a lot of people into a world of hurt. How many spouses have felt the pain of unfaithful betrayal because they had unconditional trust in their spouse? How many people had put blind trust in the pension fund of their company, only to find out the CEO and a few of his slick sharks embezzled everything? How many iatrogenic deaths have occurred because people had complete trust in their doctor's advice? 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. 
      This is why there are so many cults. People can be distracted by a person's charismatic froth and showmanship. We are to follow the peace and leading of the Holy Spirit when it comes to matters of trust. Maybe the trust that comes from my heart toward God may seem like a blind trust to the secular world. However, God has earned my trust because He is and has been faithful, plus, He is not a man that He should lie. Num. 23:19a God is not a man, that he should lie. 
      The Lord can, without doubt, be fully trusted because our trust is built and established in His righteousness which is the righteousness of the Godhead. To trust blindly in a person, concept, or even a religion is not the same as trusting wholly from our heart in The Almighty God. Our trust in God's love for us can be trusted in every way. The Lord has made sure our eternity is established even if something unreasonable or accidental happens to us on this earth. We can trust God even as we transition through death. Psalm 48:14 For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.
      Unlike the insecure trust that often happens within the limitations of mankind, we are to trust in the love that God has for us. God has an intense trust in His love for us because it is the same love the Godhead shares. God's love is true and emphatically real. It is for everyone who accepts it. If you are going to put blind trust in anything, then put it in the love of God. John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Oh Lord, help us trust you fully. Amen.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

The Fifth Gospel

Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.

      We all know about the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Have you ever heard of the fifth Gospel? That's right, the fifth one. The Gospel of Norm. Just insert your own name as the name of the fifth Gospel. The Gospel according to self. This is the Gospel we have written with all our own interpretations and highlights of all our cherry-picked verses we have collected over the years. This personal gospel gives us permission to believe what we wish to believe during times of hard decisions. Prov. 30:6 Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.
      I am amazed at the amount of energy and subterfuge people use to find ambiguities in the word of God to get away with what they want to do outside of God's instructions. Even at this point these people whether they realize it or not, have God's grace working within their souls. The only reason they keep searching for loopholes in God's word is that their conscience is still working. This is a good thing because otherwise, they would just go ahead and sin without thought. Once the conscience is seared and has become reprobate, it is a long repentful journey back. Even our own self embellished gospel will not help us out during this difficult time. We need the word of God and His word only to get us back on Christ's righteous track. 
     If the amount of energy and craftiness being used to look for a way out of obeying God were used to develop a sincere relationship with the Lord, we would become powerful in the Lord's righteousness and not need the distractions of sin. Plus, if we apply our hearts, dedication, and obedience to the directions found in the four Gospels of the New Testament, there would be no need for anyone's fifth one. The word of the Lord would be satisfactorily sufficient for life.
      The promises that have been given to us according to the Lord, are that our burden and yoke would be bearable. God's light yoke is better than man's heavy religious rules. There is truth and mercy with God but rarely is there mercy with man-made laws even when they get the laws from God's word. Matt. 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
      The Lord took a big chance when he created us with free will. He gave us the choice to walk with God or not accept Him or His way of salvation. We can apply and live within the loving instructions of His word or make up our own rules as we see fit. The gospel of whatever feels right at the time is the modern-day gospel. There is nothing new here. This road has been travelled many times. Judges 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes. The problem with this road is that it always leads to the same place of loss.
       We need to throw away all that extra-biblical revelation that we have accumulated over time. Get real with the Gospels that God has provided and we will do very well to find all we need in the Lord. God's word is pure and gives life to those who apply it to their lives. Prov. 30:5 Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can, through grace, be all who God says we are in Him. Thank you, Lord, that your gospel is truly the good news I need to live a righteous life. Amen!

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Enough, Time To Go!

Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law.

      There comes a time when moving on is the right thing to do. It is time to go! It is time to leave the place you are in. You have been stuck in one place too long. Debt is mounting up. Your relationships are failing and everything you do has become mundane. Whining has become your default setting on everything going on. The feeling of existing is stronger than wanting to live. Without a doubt, it is time to get out of that mindset. Eccl. 3:6b A time to cast away. It is time to choose life! It is time to go!
      God was pointing this out to the chosen people of Israel as they had become uninterested in their relationship with God and what God had planned for them. Deut. 1:6  The LORD our God spoke to us at Horeb: ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough. 7a It is time to break camp and move on. The people of Israel had become stuck in their thinking and had forgotten that their purpose in life was to possess the Promised Land that the Lord had given them. God started stirring up the people to move into the next thing He had for them. 
      Is God inspiring you to take possession of the vision He sowed within your heart years ago? Are you no longer comfortable in your everyday ho-hum existence? Numerous people and Christians alike, are stuck in a wasteland of hurt. They are wrestling emotional grief and living an empty existence waiting for things to change. But things do not change because they are glued in the same place they have been in for years. Hag. 1:6 You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.
      Perhaps you have become like the nation of Israel who was repeatedly going around the same mountain. God said to them, “It is time to go on.“ I ask you saints, is it time to go forward in what God has sown within you? Isa. 43:19 Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert. There really is no reason to become stuck in the same place if you are taking time to be with the Lord and entering into the relational dialogue He has provided for us. We should be moving within the freshness of God’s presence. Have you forgotten that God’s mercies are new every morning?
      If what is coming to us is fresh every morning, then why are we stuck in the same old rotten place? Lam. 3:22 The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease 23 Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. The fresh new oil of the Holy Spirit is given to us every morning. It is an invitation to renew our strength in the Lord. How good is that? We don’t have to persist in the dry places, we can go forth towards the new things God has for us. 
      Our Lord Jesus saw that it was time to move forward towards the cross. When the Lord said, “Enough! The time has come,” He knew the hardest thing He would ever do was about to take place. It was time to go do it! Mark 14:41 Then he came a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The time has come. See, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Not only suffering the cross but Jesus was raised from the dead. This was done so that we could always have the forgiveness of sin and the fresh power of the Holy Spirit available to us every morning.
      Many of us may be in a place where moving forward will not be a pleasant step to take, but with the fortitude of Jesus in our hearts we can do it. Change is sometimes scary to pursue. Walking through the Red Sea after Moses divided the waters might have been a hard step to take. However, the chosen people moved forward and they eventually made it to the other side and witnessed their enemies defeated completely. 
      If we could start looking at life through God's lens of His revealing word, we would be able to respond to the purpose that is within our hearts, plus we will have the courage to go forward. Prov. 29:18 Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law. Vision helps us keep in touch with what God is showing us to do. So, Saints, It's time to go! Let us leave the stuff that has been holding us back, and go forth in the victory that has already been given to us through Christ. Amen!

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Forgotten Promises

Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.

      Psalm 103:2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. Do not forget the promises God has given you. Try not to treat the Lord’s promises like you would an acquaintance or a politician’s promise, which are often vague and mercurial. We can put our full trust in what God says because He is not a man that He would lie to us. How many promises of God have we forgotten? Why do we forget them? Why does it take a terrible event in our life to start remembering what promises of God are available to us? 
      The Lord admonishes us to remember His precepts and commandments. Deut. 8:11 Be careful that you don’t forget the LORD your God by failing to keep his commands, ordinances, and statutes that I am giving you today. It is interesting how ignoring God's laws will eventually result in our forgetting Him and His promises. This was the problem with the Israelites who went into the land of Canaan. Within one generation after Joshua had led the chosen people into the promised land, God had been put on the back burner, and evil became a common practice. Judges‬ ‭3:7‬‬‬ The Israelites did what was evil in the Lord’s sight; they forgot the Lord their God and worshiped the Baals and the Asherahs.
      The book of Judges clearly demonstrates what happens with an on-again-off-again relationship with God. The people repeatedly fell away from God. They would go about their lives in bondage and misery until they remembered the Lord of their covenant and would finally call on His name. Then God would raise up a judge to deliver them for several years until they went through the whole thing all over again. 2Tim. 3:7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
      When someone stops acknowledging God throughout their day, there is a danger of forgetting the love of God and what He has done for us through Christ. Neglecting our Creator becomes a habit: results in putting God off to the side until eventually, the Lord is no longer being pursued. Our Heavenly Father is forgotten along with the phone bill on the counter. However, like the phone bill, when not paid, a notice shows up saying the connection is about to be cut off. In a panic, the bill gets paid. Many people tend to do the same with the Lord. As soon as a crisis comes along, calling on God's name suddenly becomes a good idea. Eccl. 12:1a Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come.
       Developing our relationship in the love of Jesus is paramount to our living within the promises God has given us. The Apostle Paul understood that all the promises of God were ours when we accepted Christ by faith. 2Cor. 1:20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. The number of God's promises are innumerable, and they all belong to those who are in Christ. Jesus said we could ask anything in His name. What an amazing provision. Prov. 30:5 Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. How can we forget so great a salvation? 
      Thank you, Lord, that you have kept me close to your heart and through Jesus' blood have given me eternal life. Your promises are real and for the day I am living in. I will bless the Lord and will not forget what you have done for me in your love. Lord, since you will never forget the promises you made to me, I will do my best to receive them with thanksgiving and grace. Amen.

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Revisiting Our Assumptions

Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

      Sherlock Holmes: There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.
      Over time, many of us have come to believe that some of our assumptions are facts that we have put our faith in. We simply assume something to be right because it has always been our reality and therefore, it must be the right thing to do, say, or act out. We can end up walking right into a mess of hurt because of a particular assumption that turned out to be nothing more than a family or social tradition based on someone's quirk, idiosyncrasy, or chosen silliness. It was just a belief that was pushed on individuals and society in general. Prov. 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death.
      Many of us have become steadfast in our religious assumptions rather than what God says is true. Someone might say at this point, "Well Norm, you are assuming there is a God and what He says is true." Yes, my assumption can be deceptively disguised as a fact, putting me in a place of vulnerability. However, the love that God has sown in my heart has revealed to me that He is real, and besides, as the psalmist said, Psalm 14:1a The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.  We have to revisit our assumptions once in a while, to find out whether or not they still have validity in life and within God's word. 
      One of the hardships that ministers go through is when they have assumed their personal sacrifices that were made in helping other individuals will be appreciated by the ones being helped. This misguided assumption has caused disillusionment among those who have dedicated their lives in the service of the Lord. Many have forgotten that doing God's work in one's own strength is nearly impossible. Serving man on God's behalf using one's own strength will sap our energy and resolve very quickly. Serving God through the power of the Holy Spirit will give us strength as needed while moving forward in the will and call of God. Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
      If you have found yourself in a state of feeling unappreciated, abused, undervalued, and taken advantage of, because you have put yourself out there to help with the needs of mankind, then you may have drawn your strength from the wrong source. Burnout among ministers is as great as burnout among nurses, first responders, and caregivers. This problem is growing fast and will continue to grow as long as these well-meaning people keep drawing on their own strength and ability to perform these essential services in our society. 
      If you have chosen this type of work with the expectation of being thanked and honoured, you may have to look for personal validation elsewhere. To assume that others will see value in who you are is not realistic. People only see what they want to see, but God sees all of us for who we truly are, including our eternal worth. God will validate our existence with His love. We have to rest in our Heavenly Father's strength through Christ which is available to all who ask for it.   
      Jesus had to make Himself and His disciples take time away to replenish their strength. Mark 6:31 Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat. One would assume that Jesus had a full supply of strength within Him to do all the good things He was doing. Yet, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit to do what God the Father had asked of Him. Luke 4:1 Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. If Jesus needed to pray and find guidance from the Holy Spirit then what makes us think we can do it in our own strength?
      The Lord admonishes us to take stock and revisit our assumptions by leading us to a place of green serenity and honest reflection. Psalm 23:2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. God's hope is that while we are in His presence, we become aware that it is through His strength and ability that we can keep going in the purpose. call, and chosen field He has placed within our hearts to live in. Once our egos are out of the way and we accept the Lord's helping grace, we can know and declare who and where our strength comes from. Psalm 121:2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. 
      Once we acknowledge that it is God's strength and grace building and holding us up, there will be more power on the way. Saints, don't assume you have it all together just because you are a Christian. We came into our relationship with God The Father through Christ by faith, and this has not changed and will not change throughout our lives. We will still have to come to the Lord by faith every day and every way, to live in the overabundant love that God has for us. Praise the Lord that the love of God is a fact we can totally put our faith in and lean into for the rest of our lives. Amen!