Listen and Obey

Psalm 25:8-9

God wants us to make right decisions, which means choices that align with His will. He has promised to give us instruction and direction so we’ll know how to proceed . One way to discover the Lord’s will is by following Him. First, make sure you have a clean heart, clear mind, surrendered will, and patient spirit. Then, add these steps: praying persistently, trusting God’s promises, and receiving His peace.

Although we all want quick answers from the Lord, Scripture tells us to pray tirelessly, without giving up. I remember praying daily about one particular need for six months before I received a response. During this time, the Lord showed me that He’d tried to give direction earlier, but I hadn’t listened. Fear of failure had been my stumbling block. Once I surrendered my fear, He gave instructions and empowered me to obey. Persisting in prayer positions us to be drawn closer to God, where we are better prepared to hear from Him. I’m stilling working on my problem of fully trusting the Lord but I’m getting better.

Then, trusting in God’s promises will lift us above our doubts into a place of quiet rest. We may not have an answer yet, but in waiting on Him with hopeful expectation, we’ll experience His peace … which surpasses all comprehension.

Finally, Scripture urges us to let Christ’s peace rule in our heart . Doing so will help us find our way past confusion and receive His clear direction without doubting. Discovering God’s will is worth every effort we make and any time spent waiting.

God’s Word 

2 Corinthians 4:8-10: We have troubles all around us, but we are not defeated. We often don’t know what to do, but we don’t give up. We are persecuted, but God does not leave us. We are hurt sometimes, but we are not destroyed. So we constantly experience the death of Jesus in our own bodies, but this is so that the life of Jesus can also be seen in our bodies.

When we’re suffering, when it just seems to go on and on and on and on, our resolve to stay strong weakens. And after a while, the temptation is, to give up. To throw in the towel so as to speak. That’s why today’s Word from God is so important.

Some people have been victims of their circumstances for so long that they’ve forgotten what living in victory actually looks like, what it smells like, what it tastes like, what it feels like.

Jesus died and rose again to give you victory. Okay, sometimes we’re called to suffer as He did. It’s not our first choice, but there you go… it happens.

And sure, we want to get through to the other side of that and start enjoying a much better set of circumstances. But the victory that Jesus came to give us isn’t just for when we get through to the other side. His victory is meant for you and me right in the midst of those cruddy circumstances. This is how the Apostle Paul put it:

Paul suffered, but he wasn’t a victim because in the midst of it all he had his deep, personal, powerful relationship with Jesus. And I want to encourage you today that God doesn’t want you to be a victim in your suffering either. He wants you to be humble and strong, assailed and peaceful – right in the middle of the storm. 

Victory.

Having a successful Christmas

Preparing for Christmas:

Focus on Christ

To say that our nation is caught up in a fitness craze is an understatement and this time of year New Year’s Resolutions abound with losing weight and lifestyle changes. How many of you have made New Year’s resolutions to lose weight or begin working out?

But what about your spiritual fitness? How many of you made New Year’s resolutions to get spiritually fit this year? First Timothy 4:7-8 says: Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness (that is, soul training) has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” I like how the Phillips translation states it: “Take the time and the trouble to keep yourself spiritually fit.” 1 Timothy 4:7 In other words, it’s good to be physically fit, and it’s even better to be spiritually fit. Funny, but I haven’t seen too many “infomercials” on spiritual fitness. If they were, they’d be called:  Prayers of Steel, or Sermons of Brimstone.

The church too often has reduced following Jesus and growing in your faith to doing pray, worship, get in a Bible study, give, serve and witness. But to follow Jesus is as much about being in a relationship with Jesus, as it is about doing the things of Jesus. And that relationship with Jesus must be the most important thing in your life. Those closest to you influence you. They influence your actions, your attitudes and your behavior, who you are and who you are becoming. Is Jesus the most important person in your life? Does Jesus exert more influence in your life than anyone or anything else in your life?

The problem is time. Most of us are overworked and over-committed and as a result, worn out and stressed! We have 168 hrs. in the week and spend 56 hrs. for sleep, 14 hrs. for getting ready for work, 40-60 hrs. for work, 21 hrs. for eating – shopping, commuting, kids activities, yard work, etc. and somewhere we’re supposed to squeeze in worship, spiritual growth time and time for serving. No wonder, we need rest. When people try to do something new in their lives, they usually try to just add it on, making a small adjustment here and there. What we really do is just pile one thing on top of another and that creates very little margin or downtime.

Silence: Reason is so you can listen to God

Purpose: To recognize that in times of frustration, disappointment, and discouragement, God still desires to use us if we will only listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

Have you ever felt like giving up? It’s easy to become discouraged when things in our church just aren’t what we would like them to be. It’s easy to become discouraged in our ministry when it seems like there are so many challenges and obstacles in our way. Many of us, at one time or another, may have wondered if it’s really worth it. We pour ourselves into a particular task or ministry week after week with little or no tangible results. We burn up a great deal of energy in performing the work of the church and it doesn’t seem to make much difference. We finally had enough.

Sometimes it seems as if people just don’t care about the Lord’s work. Sometimes it seems as if other committee members or even the leaders of the church don’t support our work and their encouragement is absent. And we feel as if we might as well just quit and put away our aspirations and drop our dreams and resign ourselves to the status quo. We may as well let our vision fall by the wayside

Satan tends to work the hardest after a mountaintop experience. Satan works hard to make a major accomplishment look insignificant. Satan works hard to turn a significant spiritual break-through into feelings of doubt and despair. Satan works hard to cause our zeal and enthusiasm for God’s work to turn into apathy. Satan works hard to use unkind words, bickering and complaining, or false accusations to reduce our level of motivation to do God’s work. We just don’t have the strength and energy to carry on. We feel hurt and rejected.

Just maybe we aren’t taking enough time to listen to what God is trying to tell us. Remember this is on his time not ours.

Patience (To Wait)

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him, those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the land. Psalms 37:7, 9 Let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire.

Such words of the Holy Spirit show us what an important element in the Christian life and character patience is. And nowhere is there a better place for cultivating or displaying it than in waiting on God. There we discover how impatient we are, and what our impatience means. We confess at times that we are impatient with men, and circumstances that hinder us, or with ourselves and our slow progress in the Christian life.

If we truly set ourselves to wait upon God, we shall find that it is with Him we are impatient, because He does not at once, or as soon as we could wish, do our bidding. It is in waiting upon God that our eyes are opened to believe in His wise and sovereign will, and to see that the sooner and the more completely we yield absolutely to it, the more surely His blessing can come to us. We have as little power to increase or strengthen our spiritual life, as we had to originate it. We “were born not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of the will of God.”

The waiting is to teach us our absolute dependence upon God’s mighty working, and to make us in perfect patience place ourselves at His disposal. They that wait on the Lord shall inherit the land; the promised land and its blessing. The heirs must wait; they can afford to wait.

That peace keeps the heart and mind when we are anxious for anything, because we have made our request known to Him. The rest, the silence, the stillness, and the patient waiting, all find their strength and joy in God Himself. Let us remember this and wait patiently: of each promise and every answer to prayer the word is true: I the Lord will hasten it in its time.” Isa 60:22. “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.

Whether it be in the shorter specific periods of waiting, or as the continuous habit of the souls. Rest in the Lord be still before the Lord and wait patiently. They that wait on the Lord shall inherit the land. My soul, wait thou only upon God!”

"Whoever Believes"

Acts 6:1-7, Acts 8:5-40

God’s Spirit led Philip to preach to people in Samaria, a group considered by the Jews to be unworthy. As Philip returns to Jerusalem, the Spirit of God leads him to another outcast, an Ethiopian eunuch. Whether reaching out to Jews or non-Jews, Philip preached the Gospel without favoritism. He lived what he taught to insiders and outsiders. 

Though he had come to Jerusalem to worship God, the eunuch was not allowed into the temple to worship. Labeled blemished, he could only watch from a distance. As the eunuch returns home, he reads the words of Isaiah, the prophet and struggles to understand. The eunuch, identifying deeply with a person deprived of justice and without descendants asks, “Who is this about?” 

Because of his obedience, Philip was positioned to introduce the eunuch to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus who brings the dead to life. He turns nothing to something. He bestows generational legacy to eunuchs. 

Jesus invites everyone into this no ordinary family. It’s a family made up of “whoever believes” (John 3:16). The great privilege of this family is to invite others in. Philip is a great example to us all. 

Just a few verses later in Isaiah we read, “Let no foreigner who is bound to the Lord say, ‘The Lord will surely exclude me from his people.’ And let no eunuch complain, ‘I am only a dry tree,’ – to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will endure forever.” (Isaiah 56:3-5). 

Please let us all reflect: 

  • God is speaking to people all around you, and He’s inviting you into the conversation. What stops you from sharing your faith with the people God puts in your path?
  • Is there anyone you consider out of God’s reach? As God to search your heart and reveal any doubts or anxious thoughts

My prayer

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Isaiah 55:6

Dear God, We thank you for providing the cool breezes in our lives even when we fail to call on your name. We ask you to forgive us for our lack of faith and our forgetfulness of your love and the victories that you have provided for us in the time of distress. We desire to have a deeper relationship with you. Thank you for your unmerited grace that you freely give without us even asking for it. Please have mercy on us as we do our part in seeking you in the good times and in the bad times. Thank you for the sacrifice of your Son, Christ Jesus. We ask this prayer in the Worthy name of Jesus. Amen.

Our Problems

Psalm 25:4-15

When facing problems, we frequently try to figure out the solution ourselves. If we can patch it up, glue it down, or tape it together, we will attempt to do so. Other times, we may reach out to someone for advice even though we’re actually seeking sympathy and support to make ourselves feel better. What we really need to do in times of trouble is to call out to God for help.  

But that wisdom is best cultivated during times of peace, before we find ourselves in a crisis. We should have a habit of seeking the Lord, spending time in His Word, and learning what He desires. When our hearts and minds are set on the Him, our devotion grows and our values begin to align with His. A person truly seeking God finds joy and satisfaction in His presence and talks to Him throughout the day. Prayer becomes a customary and natural response, no matter the circumstances. 

Then whenever we face a problem, our first thought will be to turn to our heavenly Father. That instinct acknowledges our relationship with and dependence upon Him. It shows we believe the Lord is a loving Father who promises to provide, protect, guide, and love us.  

What if you are presently in the midst of trouble but haven’t been seeking Him consistently? Start with confessing this to God. Recognize that problems are often the means He uses to draw us back to Him, but simply wanting relief from hardship shouldn’t be our motivation for loving Him. Thank God for getting your attention, ask for help seeking Him with all your heart, and entrust your troubling situation to the one true refuge

Born Again, Or Not

BORN, AGAIN? I know I have talked on this subject before, but this is the most important thing that will ever be told to you in your life.

What does it mean to be born again? There are a variety of opinions on this matter, but to understand what this term truly means, we must go to the Bible. Jesus used this phrase to describe a spiritual change that is required in order to have eternal life. Unless we are born again, we cannot enter heaven.

Jesus was telling Nicodemus that his impressive education, obedience to the Law, and religious prominence in Judaism would not get him into heaven. What he needed was a brand-new start—to be born from above. Being born again is the act of God by which He imparts eternal life to those who were dead in their trespasses and sins but have now accepted Jesus as Savior.

Nicodemus responded to Jesus with a question, how can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he. To help him understand, Jesus explained, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God, must be born of the Spirit.

He is not unlike many people today who have the mistaken idea that they are good enough to go to heaven. They attend church, give their offering, and may have even been baptized yet have never truly been born again. Some defend themselves by reasoning that God will surely accept them because they’ve tried to live a good life and haven’t committed any crimes. But they aren’t good enough because everyone is born a sinner.

Can you point to a time in your life when you became born again? Some people know they had a radical, life-altering experience on a certain date in their past, while others only know that they gradually turned their life over to the Lord and now truly believe their sins are forgiven. If you sense this may not have happened for you yet, what is keeping you from surrendering to Christ and receiving forgiveness and eternal life? Be sure of your new life in Christ today.

Hard Heart’s

Sometimes neither the most persuasive arguments nor the most convincing deeds will change someone’s hard-hearted opposition. Such was the case for the Pharisees’ challenge to Jesus in considering the proper significance and use of the Sabbath. He had irrefutably connected the divine virtues of benevolence, kindness, mercy, goodness, and compassion with scriptural Sabbath observance. But the Pharisees stubbornly rejected His exhortations and clung to their legalistic works and self-styled traditions. Not even God’s Word or the powerful demonstration by His Son would change their hard hearts.

Such legalism has always been an implacable enemy of grace. Even the law of Moses, with all its demands, reflected a strong measure of God’s grace in that it pointed men and women toward Christ as the only true hope of salvation. Paul says this about it: “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24). If the very law of God has this more secondary role, how much less place does human tradition have in pleasing God?

Legalism and man-centered customs are also barriers to faithful, biblical sanctification after we are saved. The apostle again asked the Galatians, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (3:3). We must make sure that we, too, can answer this question rightly, bearing in mind Paul’s later admonition to the Galatian believers: It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

Ask yourself, what do you plan to do to any remaining vestiges of legalism in your heart? And how do you intend to encourage others to do the same purifying work?

Disobedience

Pharaoh was the leader of a nation, and his rebellion against God had far-reaching consequences for many people. Whether on a large scale or a smaller one, sin destroys. Lets explore the problem of disobedience and talk about how important it is to identify our weaknesses and pursue genuine repentance both as individuals and as a nation.

Throughout the bible God shows us the danger of repeated disobedience. With each act of willful rebellion our hearts grow harder, and our self-will becomes stronger. The best time to obey the Lord is immediately upon conviction. This doesn’t mean just making promises to Him but following through on our commitment to obey. We must also guard against setting conditions for our submission to the Lord because partial obedience is the same as disobedience in His eyes.

In today’s time it seems harder and harder to keep from the worldly ways. Have you ever found yourself following Pharaoh’s pattern of disobedience? What promises have you made to God in times of desperation?

Which ones have you broken after relief came?
How seriously do you take your obedience to God? What are the dangers of repeatedly hardening your heart against Him?