“For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark” Matthew 24:38.
This one verse describes the people living in the days of God’s judgement flood on the earth. They were busy with life, and there’s no word here about being evil or sinful, just busy. Busy is the answer we give to people who ask, “What have you been up to?” I have decided that if you want a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you must really want it and be more intentional about it than all the other things that are crowding Him out. Stop taking so much pride in a jam-packed schedule that only leaves 5 minutes a day for your Savior. We are all guilty of giving into life’s relentless demands and giving God our leftovers, but we don’t have to continue that way. Those who were wiped out by the flood judgement never noticed the dark clouds rolling in. They never heard the distant sounds of thunder. They never took much interest in what Noah was doing. They never noticed because they were stretched so thin with their busy lives even back then. They never noticed the change in the atmosphere because they were so concerned about keeping up with their neighbors.
Let me ask you, when was the last time you took time to really stop and take notice of what is going on in the world? Does anything seem odd or strange enough to slow you down so you would seek the Lord? Please know this, there is no way you can be ready for what is coming upon the earth unless you take notice of what is happening and then become intentional in growing in your relationship with Him. There were those that lived during the days of Noah that were so busy they didn’t even know where the Ark was when the flood came, but Noah and his family were working on the Ark everyday. I don’t know when the Lord is going to return, but I do know people will not be ready because they are so busy. Know this and be sure of it, just as the Ark was Noah’s only hope, so Jesus is our only hope. Take time to spend with Him!
“One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts. 5 I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, And on Your wondrous works. 6 [Men] shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts, And I will declare Your greatness.” Ps 145:4-6
I was listening to a man pray about a week ago in between the songs he was leading and his prayer was so inspiring. He was declaring the power and dominion of the Living God. And I thought of how I fail to do this simple thing in my own life. The leper declared to Jesus as Jesus came from teaching the multitudes on the mountain in Matthew 8, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Declare God over your day and declare God over your family and workplace.
Do not assume things about God, but declare, “God in heaven, I declare Your power and dominion over my family today. Holy Father I declare Your strong presence in my life. And I declare your greatness and grace over my job and over my church and over my community. I declare that You are my supply and You are my shield. I declare Your love in my relationships and I declare Your throne over this nation. I declare God over this hospital and over the sick. I declare God over the weak, depressed and worried. I declare the light over the darkness and the truth over every false way. You are over ever spirit and there is no spirit that is not under subjection to You. There is no one greater and no one higher than You. By faith, I declare that You alone, O Lord, are over all things.” Just open Your mouth and declare God over all things!
You should be fully aware of this and be disciplined in your responses. John 8:6 “This they said, testing Him, that they might have [something] of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with [His] finger, as though He did not hear.”
Instead of reacting to the intense circumstance of a woman caught in adultery and the demand of religious authorities for an immediate answer about what to do, in silence Jesus stopped down to write something on the ground. What He didn’t do was react, like so many would today. He didn’t rush to defend her nor answer under the pressure. Even today the enemy wants you to “react” and to live a life that shows you have no self-control and are quick to take a sides. This is how we get into trouble and make decisions without prayerful considerations. This is how we get in trouble because many times we don’t have all the information. Yes, there may be a few a times you need to immediately react, but you shouldn’t live that way. Children are little reactors, but as you grow and mature, you should take every decision to the Lord and live in the awareness that the enemy wants reaction to discredit your witness for Christ and to hurt relationships and marriages.
The next time you feel the pressure, remember that in a very dramatic intense moment, Jesus kept His mouth closed and stooped down and wrote on the ground. Don’t take the bait the enemy throws at you, because it’s going to happen over and over again. Be one that stoops down to pray before responding.
You cannot be led so long as you insist on leading. The Lord can never be the Shepherd of your life until you surrender that leading role to Him. Being led by God is the safest and wisest thing you can do. God can Shepherd and lead you in conversations. He can lead you in moments of conflict and decision-making if you will let Him. Having the gift of leadership or the responsibility doesn’t mean you are exempt from following Christ. Until we learn and discipline ourselves to follow Christ, we should never lead. Some people struggle and even refuse to be led—even led by the Holy Spirit. Why? Because it requires quality time alone with God in prayer. How can you know how or where God would have you lead unless you’ve invested in the spiritual leadership meeting in the prayer closet? We must accept the fact that the Holy Spirit can lead so much greater than we can, but we must let Him. Don’t you know that God wants to be your guide in every single thing you do and in every interaction you have with others? Remember that Jesus said, “Follow me.” And every morning we get up to start the day we need to hear those two life-changing, life-blessing words, “Follow me.” Let Him lead today! You will never get lost following Jesus!
People get stuck in life for many reasons. Many people have this experience, so if that is you, you’re not alone. There is hope. After I realize I’m stuck, I want to know how to get unstuck, and sometimes that depends on how stuck you are, right? If you’ve been bogged down for years, it may take a little longer to get you free than for someone who has only been stuck for 6 months, but whatever the case, don’t live stuck. No one intentionally gets stuck, we try to avoid the areas of life that can potentially capture us. But the reality of life is that none of us are great navigators and there is quicksand everywhere. So if you’re stuck, understand the possibility of living out your life that way. Understand also that the enemy you can’t see is all about trapping you and leaving you there. So, if you’re stuck, take this seriously and take the following steps to be free.
Realize you will need help.
Ask God to help you get free.
Ask God to send you help to get free. God may send you a person or an opportunity or even a problem, but believe that if you are asking God to help you get free, He is all about that!
Start changing the way you think by positive words. Being stuck is mental, emotional and spiritual, so those are your three focus points of change. How can you start thinking differently? 1. Know that your thoughts have a point of origin, they come from some place. 2. Start determining the point of origin your thoughts come from. Romans 12:2. “And do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Colossians 3:2 “Set your mind on things above, not on things of the earth.” You must become consciously aware of the thoughts in your mind if you want to be free. You must make room for the truth of God’s word to be in the circuit of your thoughts to take down the lies the world and what the enemy speaks. If you can’t detect or tell the difference between a thought that is a lie and one that is truth, you can’t be free. John 8:32. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” To determine the origin of the thoughts in your mind, you have to make a conscious decision about what you watch and what you listen to as far as media is concerned. Cut off the music, videos, movies that feed the lies and keep you stuck, and plug in and turn up the volume on music, videos and movies that give you the greatest advantage of being free.
Start changing what you do. Change does not come easy because we all get comfortable when we get stuck, but begin new and greater efforts to spend time in fellowship with God. That means give God something to work with, like an extra 30 minutes in prayer or listening to worship music and meditating on His word.
Look for the glimpses of joy and resurgence of life in your life. Take note and give God thanks for the little changes that are taking place.
Lastly, give glory to God and get a dream from God. God still has something for you to do and it’s big and life-changing in itself. Jesus Christ has come to “set the captives free,” and not just those captive to their sin, but those of us who have been stuck in circumstances we had no control over. Get unstuck! Get free!
Are you making enough room for Christ in your life? Years ago when our kids were young, we would gather with my brother and sister and their families and pile in at my parent’s house for the holidays. My mom’s policy was—and still is today—“we will make room.” What that looks like to me is sleeping on an air mattress on the kitchen floor under the table. I remember like it was yesterday because that mattress had a pin-hole leak, and in the middle of the night the heaviest person on the mattress touched the cold floor first—that was me. The “we will make room” policy was great in theory, but practically, that was a rough night. The heart behind the policy was to do whatever was needed to be done so we could all be together. The willingness to make more room for Christ in our lives should be in our hearts, but often we make little to no room for Him. Let me ask you, what could you do to make more room for Christ? Your schedule is full and the demands aren’t going away, but the Lord deserves more room in our lives. God has made room for us in heaven, so do whatever it takes to make room for Him in your life here and now. John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” Make more room for Jesus!
When I arrived at the church this morning, I noticed the New Creation ladies were already there doing their Bible study. Instead of going in, I sat in the parking lot for a while and then decided to go for a ride on some back road in the country. In my younger days those rides on the back roads never led to anything good, but were a route taken to avoid getting caught doing what I shouldn’t have been doing. But what a blessing this morning to get out and go a backroad route and listen to the worship music slowly paving my way. I was so blessed that I just started praying out loud to the Lord over the music, and before I knew it, I got caught on the back roads. It was the Lord who jumped in the truck with me as I was praying for different people and the things they were going through in life. And what I discovered is that Jesus Christ is on the back roads. He doesn’t need a cathedral or a nice chapel, but only an atmosphere He feels welcomed and wanted in. There were two men in the Bible who Jesus found on the back roads. They were headed home to Emmaus on the day rumors were circulating that the body of Jesus was missing from the tomb. In Luke 24 it says,
“Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.”
I don’t know, it seems a little strange to me that Jesus would take the time to go for a seven mile walk with two men who had given up their hopes in Him. It’s strange, too, that Jesus could have taken the main road into the streets of Jerusalem, but stayed on the back roads. He patiently walked with the two all the way to Emmaus, and would have kept going, except they insisted He stay with them. As a result, their eyes were opened to the Lord and they immediately returned to Jerusalem. This should give us some encouragement today knowing that there are those walking and riding on the back roads of life who can have an encounter with the Savior of the world. There is hope for people in the back woods and on the back roads, because even there He will show up and touch their lives. Those two headed to Emmaus were on the back road of unbelief, but Jesus saw them, joined them, and restored their faith in Him.
Idolatry is still a thing, and you may not think you have a problem with it, but the part about you being human means you probably struggle like most people. Idolatry takes place when something or someone comes between you and God. Idolatry takes place when God takes second place in our lives. Our lives will always be ordered by the objects of our worship. There are idols of entertainment, and there’s nothing wrong with wholesome entertainment, but when the majority of our time, energy and efforts are spent somewhere else instead of on the things of God, it’s a problem. The pursuit of worldly riches and the pursuit of popularity completely robs followers of Christ of the blessings of an idol-free life.
Idolatry is not ok, and it’s something we should constantly be examining in our lives. It’s crazy to even consider this, but some people idolize other people and some people idolize themselves. No one should worship the ground you walk on, and if someone does, you should stop their worship instantly. God alone is worthy of your worship! You can appreciate and be thankful for the people in your life without crossing the line of idolatry. This was the problem with many of the Hebrews coming out of Egyptian bondage. They had been surrounded by physical idols and had only heard of God, the Father of creation. Let’s admit that it’s easier to worship what you can see and touch, but we can admit also that worship doesn’t require faith. Here’s what God’s word says about man-made idols. “Their idols [are] silver and gold, The work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see; They have ears, but they do not hear; Noses they have, but they do not smell; They have hands, but they do not handle; Feet they have, but they do not walk; Nor do they mutter through their throat. Those who make them are like them; [So is] everyone who trusts in them. O Israel, trust in the LORD; He [is] their help and their shield.” Psalm 115:4-9. The apostle Paul said, “Flee from idolatry.”
To not fall before an idol you must live a disciplined life, because even today you are surrounded by them. Don’t fall for them. Worship the One True and Living God!
John 6:25 (NKJV) And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You come here?” This question was asked by a multitude of people who had witnessed the miracle of Jesus feeding 5,000 people. When they had eaten and were full, they saw Jesus walk alone into the mountain and the disciples get in the boat to depart on the sea. They knew the disciples’ boat from all the rest, and they knew the first place to start looking for Jesus so He could feed them again was Capernaum, and they were right. They were seeking Jesus, but for the wrong reason. They were seeking Him only to be fed, but not to believe in Him and have a relationship with Him.
It’s just like many today who seek Christ for what He has, but not want to surrender to who He is. These are crisis Christians and situational saints and Sunday soloists—Sunday being the only day an hour is given to Him. And here’s the deal, God knows who and why we show up. Some will come to Jesus for the social status, but the Lord knows when our hearts are far from Him. No one can fool God!
The good news of this is that when those people came looking for Jesus, they found Him. They never saw Jesus get into the boat, but they had a good idea where the disciples were. And today if you are seeking Jesus, you should go to where you believe His disciples have gathered. Jesus didn’t tell the multitude to go away because they sought for the wrong reasons, He told them the truth about who He was, “I am the bread of life.” People come to Christ for many reasons. Why do you?
Reflecting on my life today filled with struggles and setbacks but how God has shown me so much mercy! Why? Who is to blame, or rather, who is to thank for God’s mercy on me? I know that God is “the Father of mercies.” I know that personally I have done nothing deserving of God’s mercy. So how is it I feel as if God has shown me so much mercy over the years? I know the things I’ve done and how I have acted and at times even rebelled against God, but there’s still mercy. There was mercy when in times of rebellion He disciplined me. When I think about where I should have been in the moments of my sin, I can’t help but wonder at the extent of His mercy for me. With all that being said, I believe there was someone in my life that God loved so much that He decided to show me great mercy. My parents have been faithful in serving and living for God all my life. God has loved them so much that He has shown “me” great mercy.
Just think, that how much you love and serve Christ could result in great mercy on the lives of your children. I believe that’s part of the reason for God’s mercy on me, but there is someone else that has brought mercy down on me. God has loved His Son Jesus so much that He has shown me mercy.
Let me ask you, do you know about the mercy of God? Don’t you know that He should have stopped us along time ago? But He is so patient and kind, and His desire is to show us great mercy! His mercy endures forever and for the fact that you have read this, God is affirming His mercy on you. You might not be able to point to parents or someone else for the cause of God’s mercy on your life, but you can certainly point to the Son of God, Jesus Christ.