In Your Face

Today, tomorrow and every single day, you are faced with constant lies.  The lies come in the form of slick advertisement with upbeat music and breathtaking scenes.  The lies are conveyed through talented actors whose lives themselves are not all what they appear to be.  The lie is simply that you need more in your life to experience real contentment and satisfaction.  Those who truly are thankful don’t get caught up in the frenzy of getting more stuff.  We all have needs and God knows that, but are you content?  Do you know how to live a life of contentment?  The apostle Paul said,

It takes a lot of personal growth to get to this spiritual summit of contentment, but that is where you can see the goodness of God all around you for miles and miles.  It’s there that you realize, “I really already have all I need in my God and Savior Jesus Christ.”  It’s at this spiritual altitude where your gratitude empowers you to overcome the non-stop nagging desires for more stuff.  We don’t know how long it took Paul to learn the most valuable life lesson, but his contentment was comprehensive because he said, “everywhere and in all things I have learned.”  That’s the life God has for us, to be content no matter where we are, and that’s how Paul was able to say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

The advertisers are never going to stop appealing to our fleshly desires to buy more and get more because that’s what they are paid to do.  But we can keep climbing/walking/growing in our faith in God to be the one who satisfies us and meets our needs.  He already knows what we have need of, so we don’t have to be anxious or worried, but we can be content and at peace.  You can be where you are in contentment, but only as long as you are where you are “through Christ” and trust God to supply.

“THE WAY IT SHOULD BE”

 

Recently we took the training wheels off my 5 year-old grandson’s bicycle.  Actually, it was his suggestion, but we thought it was a little bit too soon since his 10 year old brother was a little late in taking his training wheels off.  While working in my shop, I could hear my 5 year-old talking to himself about riding without the training wheels.  I looked out and he was on his bike and trying to stay upright.  I just thought it was pretty cool that he was out there trying without anyone helping him.  He really wanted to make it happen.  I was blessed just watching him and hearing the conversation he was having with himself.

Later the same day, my 10 year-old grandson came out while Lansyn, the 5 year-old was going at it again.  Finally, after just a few minutes, Lansyn took off on his little green bike riding all by himself around the patio.  What a wonderful moment that was, but what topped it off was my 10 year-old grandson’s response.  Layton started yelling with excitement, “He’s doing it, He’s doing it!”  Layton was overwhelmed with joy watching his brother do what he had been working so hard to do.  As my wife and I joined in the celebration, I was reminded by Layton’s reaction of rejoicing by what Paul said in Romans 12:15:

”Rejoice with them that do rejoice.”

Layton reacted to Lansyn’s victory as if it had happened to himself.  He didn’t act like it was no big deal, nor was there any hint of jealousy over the victory.  Rejoicing when someone else rejoices is a telling sign of how you feel about that person.  Rejoicing when someone else is rejoicing is a telling sign of how connected you are to that person.  Rejoicing when someone else is rejoicing is a telling sign that their victory is important to you.  What great encouragement my 10 year-old brought to my 5 year-old all because he rejoiced with him.  This is love,
and this is the way it should be!

Work it Out!

There’s a lot of things in this life that need to be worked out, such as conflicts in marriage, troubles at work, demanding schedules, arguments between friends.  And the truth is, we should do all we can to compromise where we can and negotiate towards a common acceptable goal.  The follower of Christ also has something critically important to work out.  The apostle Paul spoke of it in his letter to the church at Philippi.

Philippians 2:12-16 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for [His] good pleasure. 14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

We have to be careful when interpreting what Paul was saying.  He wasn’t tell those believers to “work for your salvation,” because that’s what Jesus Christ did on the cross.  On the cross Jesus said, “It is finished.”  Jesus finished the work necessary for us to have a relationship with God the Father.  So Paul was talking about the work that was not finished.  Paul was saying, “God has put something inside of you, a treasure, that needs to be worked out.”  Salvation is not something you receive and then sit on for the rest of your life waiting for it to pay off one day, but salvation is active and ongoing.  To work out your salvation you have to go inside and examine the areas in your life that are not completely surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  The question is, are you working it out?  How often do you examine the different areas of your life?  It takes a lot of work to surrender to God’s will and God’s agenda and God’s plan.  Why, because we have our own, right?

What happens when you surrender to God’s will and God’s plan?  God works in you and when God works in you what happens?  You develop an attitude of humility, an awe of God, and greater gratitude and thanksgiving towards God.  However, there are some Christians who surrender while complaining and that’s why Paul said, “Do all things (not some things, or a few things, or the things that you agree with), but “Do all things without complaining and disputing.”  Are you challenged yet?  I can tell you that believers in Christ who work out their own salvation live life with a greater contentment and joy in God.

So, not only do we need to work out our own salvation because we have this charge on our lives and we want to experience the fullness of God in our lives, but work it out because your witness matters in all places and at all times.  There’s not much heavenly light shining through complaining Christians, so kill the complaining!  How, be conscious of it and close the gate it comes through.  Not only be conscious of it, but consider yourself to be the most blessed person on earth because you have salvation.

Work out your own salvation, how?

  1.  Through absolute surrender each day and every moment God shows you His will
  2. Without the drama of grumbling and complaining
  3. With faith believing your witness for Christ matters
  4. With an understanding that one day you will stand before God either rejoicing because you worked it out or with regrets because you constantly complained after receiving the greatest gift ever given, our salvation

Don’t Stay in the Cave!

Our natural tendency and temptation is to find a place where we are comfortable and feel safe and secure and stay there.  When David was on the run from King Saul because Saul wanted to kill David, David found a cave for himself, his family and for all others who wanted to join him in his place of refuge.  Over 400 people joined David in the cave of Adullam and it was because they believed in David’s leadership and they needed a place of refuge.  Even though David had found a place that was safe for himself and others, God sent a prophet to give David specific directions.

SCRIPTURES

“Now the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold; depart, and go to the land of Judah.” So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth.“  I Samuel 22:5

God knew the temptation David faced and God also knew the relentless pursuit of the enemy, so the message to David was, “Don’t stay in the cave.”  That temptation is with everyone today who has come to Christ as Savior and come to the gathering of the Lord’s church.  We must overcome the temptation of staying in the comfort of our churches.  Yes, we should find our churches as a place of refuge and safety, but there’s no way to fulfill God’s calling on our lives by staying in our comfort zones.  Unless you keep moving in faith, I can promise you the enemy will find you and stop you from making it to your destination.  David’s destination was not the cave, but it was sitting on the throne of Israel.  Are you still moving in faith?  Have you settled in a place of safety and spiritual comfort?  Are you getting out and trusting God and engaging those who are searching for a place of refuge?  Think about it, the life of a disciple of Christ is characterized by “going in and going out.”  We go in to be with other believers and are encouraged by God’s word, and then we go out into the world to share the good news and to lead others to the cave.

And Everyone Gathered to Him

People attract people and God has designed it that way.  We see this in the story of King David before he became the King of Israel.  For around 13 years David lived his life on the run as he was being chased down by King Saul.  David experienced one escape after the other and went to hide in the cave of Adullam which was only a little ways from Bethlehem.  While there literally hundreds of people came to where David was including his own family, but why?

SCRIPTURES

“David therefore departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. So when his brothers and all his father’s house heard [it,] they went down there to him. 2 And everyone [who was] in distress, everyone who [was] in debt, and everyone [who was] discontented gathered to him. So he became captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him.“ I Samuel 22:1-2

Please notice who it was that gathered to David, it wasn’t those who were prospering where they were and it wasn’t those who were comfortable where they were and it wasn’t those living in the fullness of freedom as a gift from God.  Those who gathered to David were miserable where they were and the life they were living.  Don’t you know there are still people like that today, just oppressed, miserable, joyless and completely stressed out, and looking for a way out?  David lead the way out for those 400 men and families to experience a better life even though it must have been a scary step of faith for them.  If you have been delivered from the power and oppression of Satan and the power of sin, God will use you to lead others out of their misery of life to faith, freedom and eternal salvation.  It’s usually miserable people who take great steps of faith and experience the abundance of life offered only by God.

Have you ever taken a step of faith that resulted in freedom and joy and peace?  That’s what God has for those who by faith, take Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.  If you haven’t taken Christ as your Savior, tell God today that’s what you want.  Do it quickly and verbally, and sincerely and take Christ to the point that He becomes everything to you.  You will never regret gathering to Christ in faith and giving up everything for Him.

Moving Mountains

Life is full mountains that get in our way from living in the fullness of life meant for us.  Those mountains range from being raised by parents who are distracted with their own desires, to personal disabilities to significant loss in life.  But here’s what we know about mountains and the obstacles that stubbornly stand in our way—they were meant to be moved. Jesus Christ spoke to His followers about the faith they need to move mountains.  This came right after a demoralizing failed attempted to heal a young boy.

SCRIPTURES

So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.“  Matthew 17:20

Most people see their mountains or obstacles in life as things outside of them and completely fail to see the high peek mountain inside of them.  Jesus declared to the disciples, the mountain was not in the young boys condition, but the mountain was towering in the hearts and minds.  Think about it, don’t we all have mountains on the inside that need to be moved?  Can you see the mountains in the lives of those around you?  Some people will never live in the fullness of life because they live with a mountain of guilt or hurt from the past.  Some will never live with exceeding joy, because they’ve never tried to move the mountain of anger.  Then there are those who live with a mountain of worry that confronts them every time some kind of adversity comes into their lives.  Some have mountain ranges of unforgiveness and grudges that will always be there, until by faith they are recognized and removed.  The biggest mountain in all of us is the mountain of unbelief, just like the disciples.  Think about how blessed the young boy and father would have been had the mountain of unbelief not been in those disciples.  Those around you and me will be blessed also when we get busy moving the mountains lodged in our hearts and minds.  Do you see a mountain in you?  At some point in your life you need to start talking to that mountain and demand in faith it be removed.

You Have An Attitude!

You have an attitude, but is it the right one?  Is it an attitude that honors the Father in heaven?  Do you need an attitude adjustment?  We are quick to detect the attitude in others, especially in those who are ungrateful, arrogant, and self-sufficient.  Remember the attitude you had when you were a teenager?  Maybe not you, but many teenagers have the attitude that they know everything.  That attitude of omniscience carries over into adulthood for some.  But we all have an attitude towards certain things like money and possessions and even death.  But what is your spiritual attitude?

The apostle Paul voiced his attitude in a fair well speech to the elders at Ephesus.  See if you can pick up on Paul’s attitude from what he said.

SCRIPTURES

“And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 “except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24 “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.“. Acts 20:22-24

What a great attitude to have concerning God’s will for your life and the mission of the Gospel.  In a way, Paul’s attitude reflects that of a 4 year old with his mind set on doing what he wants.  Paul had a spiritual stubbornness about him and a dogged determination to stick to the mission of the gospel.  Paul’s attitude was a “nothing-can-stop-me” attitude.  Paul even had an attitude about himself and the threats against his life.

Let me tell you that Paul didn’t have a death wish, but he did have an attitude towards death.  When the threat of death can’t stop you, then you are unstoppable.  Spiritually, we need to be unstoppable with the good news of God’s love and salvation.  Today, why not join me in asking God to give you a selfless and unstoppable attitude for the life-saving mission of the gospel?

The Arrows are Beyond You

“Look, the arrows are beyond you.”  That was an encrypted message sent by Jonathan to David who would eventually become the king of Israel.  When Jonathan, the son of King Saul, found out that his father desperately wanted to kill David, he went to the field with his bow and arrow to shoot the arrows and to give a message of warning.  Jonathan was speaking to a young boy who was with him telling him where the arrows were so he could fetch them, but he was also speaking to David who was nearby.  This manner of secret communication was set up by David and Jonathan so David could escape for his life or return to his place with King Saul.

SCRIPTURES

“Then I will shoot three arrows to the side, as though I shot at a target; 21 “and there I will send a lad, [saying,] ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I expressly say to the lad, ‘Look, the arrows [are] on this side of you; get them and come’–then, as the LORD lives, [there is] safety for you and no harm. 22 “But if I say thus to the young man, ‘Look, the arrows [are] beyond you’–go your way, for the LORD has sent you away.  I Samuel 20:20-22

When David yelled out, “Look, the arrows are beyond you,” he was telling David that his life was in danger.  He was telling David, you are still in the strike zone of King Saul’s weapons.  He was telling David, you need to run for your life if you want to stay alive and fulfill God’s purpose for your life.  Still today, there are many people who live within the danger zone of the enemy.  Just like it was with David, everyone has a decision to make, to either stay in the danger zone of the enemy or to move to a place of safety.  The arrows of death of the enemy are long range, but there is only one place to go to be out of reach of the enemy. 

 By faith we escape the danger zone by placing our lives in the hands of God.  God is our place of refuge we should be running to.  God is our strong tower, our shield, and our buckler.  When you give your life to Jesus and accept His free gift of salvation and eternal life, you are out of range from the enemy.  That doesn’t mean difficulties will not come to your life, but it means that nothing can ever separate you from the love of God.  

Messengers

Whose messenger are you?  You are a messenger and may not realize it, but you speak a message every single day of your life.  You can be a messenger of the world and be a strong advocate for what the culture around you thinks and likes.  You can be a self-messenger that speaks mostly about yourself.  There are even people who are messengers of Satan who spew out dark sayings disguised as something spiritual and godly.  Included in this list of messengers are false messengers of God who say what they know people want to hear.  They are also called false prophets.  False prophets are like some politicians who will say whatever pleases the people to keep the attendance up and the cash flowing.  But you’ve got to know this, God’s heart is that you will become one of his messengers.  God takes messengers who were once messengers of someone else and makes them a messenger of His.  A great example of this messenger transformation is found in I Samuel 19.

“Then Saul sent messengers to take David. And when they saw the group of prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing [as] leader over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied. 21 And when Saul was told, he sent other messengers, and they prophesied likewise. Then Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they prophesied also.”  I Samuel 19:20-21]

Three groups of messengers of Saul became the prophesying messengers of God.  They changed their message and their mission and spoke of the glory and majesty of God.  It’s also been suggested that these messengers prophesied of David being the King.  But how did those messengers change?  The messengers of King Saul came under the influence of God through the a group of prophets who were with Samuel prophesying and the Spirit of God came upon them.  That wasn’t their mission or goal, but that’s the power of God’s Spirit and the power of godly influence.  Let me ask you, when do you come under the influence of God’s Spirit?  Hopefully that happens when you attend church services or Bible study groups.  The messengers/prophets of God were instrumental in this spiritual transformation.  Godly influence grows one messenger at a time.

I was once a messenger of the world and never had anything to say about God, or Jesus, or heaven, but today I am a messenger of the true and living God and my Savior Jesus Christ because He changed my life!  Messengers are all around you and you are one of them.  Whose messenger are you?

If You Failed

If you failed yesterday, start over today with a heart and mind to live in victory.  We do fail, and we fail more often than we would like to admit.  We fail more than people know and we fail in areas that in our minds we shouldn’t be failing in.  Let me just start by saying, we fail mentally to have the right thoughts circulating in our minds.  The enemy loves to invade our minds with thoughts that are anything but uplifting.  We fail mentally when we judge others or entertain thoughts that are self-defeating.  We also fail when it comes to temptations.  Our flesh and old nature still craves what it has always craved and the enemy knows where and how to tempt us.  We fail in our actions or the lack of action.  You should have done something maybe to help someone, but you didn’t.  The enemy that you can’t see wants you to see yourself as a failure because you do fail, and so do I, but that’s not how to see yourself.  It’s true that we fail at home and at work.  We fail the people we love the most and it happens more than once or twice, but that doesn’t make you a failure.

Here’s what you need to know about the failures in your life, mine too!

  1.  Our failures let us know how much we need God’s power and presence in our lives.
  2. Our failures are there sometimes to help us stay humble before God and others.  (We don’t have it all figured out after all.)
  3. Our failures are there as immediate history lessons.  Let’s learn from our failures, and move on doing our best to avoid the traps of temptations and mind games from the enemy.
  4. Our failures serve to remind us that we need the mercy and grace of God.  They should make us grateful to God for another chance in the next day or the next opportunity to get the victory.
  5. Our failures can turn into testimonies for others to hear who know something about failures, but haven’t experienced yet the grace of God in every failure.

If by chance you failed yesterday, get up today and go again.  If you need to apologize for something, then do it and then go again with victory in mind.  Be who God created you to be in this world today.  He didn’t create you to be a failure, but one who constantly looks to Him and leans on Him in faith.  You are not a failure!

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