It is a tremendous act of foolishness to test the grace of our God by committing sin and disobedience. But it is a great act of faith to test the truth of His promises and show the world that He will do what He says He will do; in order to show the world His greatness! I’m talking about His promises – not everything that He is able to do but what He has promised to do if we trust and obey!
Do you know God’s promises to you as a believer in the gospel of Jesus Christ? Do you know without any doubt? I encourage you to read God’s word and know for yourselves what His promises are for believers in Him. He is a God that never fails – but it helps to know what you ought to be looking for. Test Him and see …
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” Malachi 3:10
On this the 4th Sunday of Advent – I thought it appropriate to talk about the power of love.
Life happens – and sometimes it is filled with hurt, pain and disappointment. Broken relationships and shattered dreams can leave us full of worry, angst and skepticism. We avoid people and situations in order to protect ourselves; but really we are missing out on what God has for us. As believers in Christ we are admonished/exhorted and even commanded to be filled with the Spirit daily. If we allow our past experiences to fill us with these destructive feelings we block our hearts from being filled with the Holy Spirit. Our hearts cannot be filled to the full with Him if we insist on holding on to the hurts of the past.
We all have pasts – but the beauty of Calvary is that we get to live as new creatures whose sin has been cast into the sea of forgetfulness; as far as the east is from the west. We not only neglect the fullness of Christ in us when we hold on to our pasts — we also neglect people around us who would benefit from His love flowing through us. If you make a determination to forgive those in your past who have hurt you, God can and He will trade beauty for those ashes — He can and He will restore what the locusts have destroyed.
I have had deep hurts in my life – and they left gaping open holes in my heart. I was on my way to becoming unloving and unlovely. I didn’t want anyone to close to me because I wanted to ensure that my heart was safe. I thank God for my father and my beloved, Lloyd, because they loved me and helped me to get to a place where I was willing to give God my heart. I made the decision to trust God with those past hurts and I forgave those who breached my trust. I really forgave them — I hold nothing against them and have no animosity in my heart; in fact I pray for them to experience the blessing of God as I have.
Open your heart to receive and walk in God’s abundant and powerful love because He can and He will turn it all around for your good and for His glory. God is love. God loves you more than you can fathom. Ask Him to help you to receive His love and then ask Him to fill you to the full with His love, leaving no room for anything else in you. He will make you complete in Him. He will plant your roots deeply in His love and make you new. Let His Love Fill You! His love is true – unfailing – pure – real – powerful. Accept His love – and He will give you a brand new life.
It is much easier to recognize what is going wrong in our lives, than it is to rejoice for the good. I don’t know why that is, but it seems that our natural bent is to complain about what is happening to us rather than recognize what God is doing in the difficulty. I’m sure that I have been guilty of that in my own life. As we come out of the Christmas season and I have seen people returning those precious Christmas gifts complaining that the gift didn’t work; was the wrong size; didn’t meet with their liking; etc. — I could only think about how dissatisfied we are most of the time! Just like we forgot that someone sacrificed something in order that we might have that gift; we forget that He sacrificed all so that we might have eternal life.
When Lloyd and I moved to Ghana in 2004 we didn’t speak the language; we couldn’t eat the food; we didn’t know the rules; we didn’t understand the culture. People stole from us; people told us that they did work that they didn’t actually do; the car kept breaking down; pipes kept bursting (once so badly that we had to fetch water and bring large barrels into and around the house for use); bugs were getting into everything; the ceiling fell in; malaria happened; dysentery happened; etc. When all of these things happened – we were careful to encourage one another to rejoice at how God was going to fix it for us; how He was going to use us to be Him to the people we were trusting to fix the problems; how our headaches would bring Him glory. Lloyd and I would go into our room and inspect one another – miraculously we found that neither of us had scars from a thorny crown; holes from nails in our wrists or feet; and not even a spear in our sides! Incredible isn’t it! None of it was Calvary! We believed every time that He would give us the strength to bear it – and He did!! Time and time again – He brought us through all of it.
My dear friend Mike Pickett wrote a song that serves to remind me daily of what it means to count all of it as joy. The lyrics say,
“You are the salt of the earth, a preservative for some. You may be the ONLY reason destruction hasn’t come. If while following God you find yourself in the midst of circumstance; you may have been sent there to let someone know that today may be the last chance to walk in righteousness; holiness; love; peace; and joy in the Holy Spirit of God”
So, yeah — you may be driving a car that is a little older than you like, and it may require a lot of repair; but are you taking that opportunity to be salt and light to the person who will repair the car? You might be facing a different trial everyday in your health; but are you being salt and light to all who visit you and to the doctors and nurses that serve you?
This life on this earth is temporal! Don’t lose sight of that! Our home is in heaven – a place where all will be well! As for the “momentary light afflictions” you WILL face down here — count it as joy AND count it as an opportunity for you to be His glory in this fallen world. Know that as you face each hardship with joy – you will have more patience and endurance to face the next thing. Being used for His glory in the midst of it all is just the icing on the cake! I like icing and the thought of being icing on His cake is an incredible gift to my heart! May the Father move me to trust Him in the midst of it all and may He bend my heart toward full joy and the hope of my eternal hope. Remind yourself in the midst of difficulties and hardships — It Ain’t Calvary!
1 Kings 20:42 “He said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people”
God gave Israel victory and according to God’s law the enemy should have been destroyed – in allowing the king to live, Israel sinned against God.
Sometimes the things that God asks us to do are hard things. They are hard because we view them through a human lens and want to judge the actions based upon human logic. If the Lord tells us to slay a giant – we feel that this act would be inhumane – and we would, instead, want to imprison the giant. This is a truth across our lives and is truly a test of our heart’s devotion to God.
When we face an issue, are we really willing to do whatever it is God demands of us? We want Him to assure our victory, but are we really willing to do whatever he demands?
I am reminded of the scripture that tells us that those who love him and would follow him would ‘hate’ father, mother, sister, brother, etc. There are times in our lives when God may ask us to cut off relationships, confront sin, admonish the unfaithful and even harder tasks. He assures our victory if we would only obey his word without compromise. But our hearts and minds must be truly girded up with the full armor of God if we are to be able to stand. It is important that we remember at all times that our lives are hidden in – wrapped up in — and lost in … the person of Jesus Christ. If we take thought of our own desires or even the unpleasant nature of a request posed to us by the Father we are living with our minds on things of this earth. As we set our minds on God’s will and God’s way – it is imperative that we really believe that without obedience victory will not come. We must live our lives in the name of and for the sake of our King. No compromise! It is good to extend mercy – but not if God speaks against it. It is good to be gracious to our enemies – but not if God speaks against it. We must be prayerful – listening – trusting.
Father, As you lead me and guide me, may my heart be malleable, open and ready to receive your instruction. Help me to lean only on your understanding and not be tempted to bring to mind what I believe and know in the flesh. Father help me to obey completely at all times and in all situations. Help me to fight the fear of this world and this age and to embrace Your approval only. May my heart seek to obey, love and trust you with all that is within me. When you tell me to rout the enemy, please give me the courage to do so. When you tell me to extend mercy, please give me the wisdom to do so. Lead me and guide me. I will follow. Amen
The Coronavirus is a serious thing that we are all facing. Some are ill; some have passed away; MANY have survived it. The national news channels are not telling us that for every 1 that passes away, 20 survive. We are forgetting to tell ourselves that for any believer that passes away … the truth of the eternal life that we way that we believe in and desire is real! My mom says, “I’m ready to go to heaven. But, I’m not in no hurry!” She means that if the Lord calls her home at any time, she will rejoice; but that she won’t do anything to hurt herself and, of course, she is not wanting anyone to hurt her.
Truth is … this virus is only ONE of many things that we allow to affect our peace.
The troubles that we face are not for us to carry on our shoulders, but rather to lay on the shoulders of The One. The needs that we have should not be concerning – because our worry won’t make the need met. Trials – they come, I can’t solve them. Anxiety – does no good, weighs me down. Death – its inevitable, but it can’t conquer me. Money – it answers many things, but it is not the real need – EVER. Fear – it happens, but it doesn’t solve anything. These are just a few of the things that can occupy our minds; our hearts; our thoughts.
The great thing about being in Him is that we have answers for all of these things. Tomorrow – He knows what lies ahead of us. Needs – He will generously take care of them not based upon what you can do, but upon His own limitless supply. Trials – He has already overcome them all and He is working them out for your good. Anxiety – gratefulness will run it away and besides He is with us always. Death – no such thing, we are eternal beings destined to dwell with Him forever. Money – He owns the cattle of a thousand hills and as our Father, we will have what we need. Fear – we trust in Him and His love casts it out.
When you feel yourself starting to slip into worry, REMEMBER – He calms storms; He opens up seas so that you can walk right through; He brings life to things that once were passed away; His love is unfailing; He hears the cries of the righteous and delivers them; His compassions do not fail; His mercies will meet the needs of each new day; He gives endurance and encouragmenet; He is your strength and your defence; He is the source of our help; He is greater than all – what problem do you have that can stand against Him!
This virus is truly something that is causing many of us worry — but by worrying we don’t solve anything.
I am praying:
Father, fill each of us with your Holy Spirit so that our hearts and mind will just trust Your Word — believing that everything is going to be alright! Father I know that you have our back; and our front; and each side; and You even hold us up. You are faithful. Your promises are yes and amen. You are the covenant keeper. We will rest – lay back into Your presence (as I imagine the beloved disciple did) – and watch You work.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.--Romans 8:38-39