December 9, 2013
Returning to Our First Love
Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
Love is a many splendored thing, but it can also be a place of vulnerability, heartache and disappointment. So much depends on the care, attentiveness and tenderness with which we handle the most precious of gifts, one another’s hearts and their love.
That first found love between two lovers those years back, it seemed so rich. You loved one another’s presence and you didn’t want to be apart. Your desire for one another was so strong and you bathed in the love that you had for one another. Oh, that first love, how rich and full and sweet it was.
Little by little small offenses began to enter in. Sometimes unkind remarks were made that wounded your spouse’s soul, neglect, lack of communication, demands of life; so many things can tear at the foundations of your love.
We begin to take for granted that first love, as we become more familiar with the other. Those little things that we didn’t notice or didn’t seem to bother us now become a source of irritation and conflict. Our hearts that were so warm and open begin to close as we often, without even knowing why, transform from that loving unity, to opponents and foes. Little by little we can shut down in our emotions and our love to the point we forgot why we even liked this person, let alone loved them.
We can often wander and drift away from our first love for Christ the same way. Instead of being continually awed and thankful for all that Christ has done and continues to do for us, He becomes common, just another element of our lives and not the substance of them. How blind we all can become to the hardness that can come over our hearts with regards to the ones we love and what we have held so dear. Many of us have lost that which we once cherished more than life itself.
What has changed? Is it them or is it us? Maybe it is like our environment. We love the beauty of the water and streams, the woods and forest, the mountains, oceans and wildlife, but if we have them before us every day we may take them for granted and lessen in our once great appreciation of them. Somewhere in there our motives for gain, for what benefits us and for what we think will better our lives out weighs our appreciation for the other. At the environment’s expense, we begin to deplete our forest, tear up our mountains, pollute our waters and destroy what we once held so dear. It is the same thing that we do to our marriages and our relationships.
We lose sight that our spouse is our teammate that we are dependent upon one another to make life easier and sweeter. Yet we are so blind at how the enemy of our soul comes into to kill, steal and destroy what was the most precious thing in our lives. Our unity is destroyed and our marriages turn from bliss to ashes. Isn’t it because we have bought into the lie? When one of us in our marriage loses we both lose. There are no winners and losers, because we are a team. A house divided against itself cannot stand.
The older my wife and I grow together, the more dependent we are on each other to remember things, to help each other, and to be the strength in the other’s weakness. On the other hand there is the temptation to find more fault with the other’s shortcomings, especially when they have chided you for yours. We have to realize that we are a team. We need each other more than ever. Love cannot become a selfish thing that only looks out for itself. If it has and is becoming that then it has left the boundaries and definition of love. The nature of love is to serve, to give and bless another. Love always exalts the other above itself.
Perhaps it is time for many of us to remember and to return to our first love both in our physical and spiritual relationships. It is time to give the precious gifts of our humility, our forgiveness and our first love. It is time to make a safe place where we can come together, not to find fault or blame, but to find reconciliation and healing for our hearts and our relationships. Isn’t this what God wants for us? I believe He will help in this endeavor if we call upon Him and His love to fill our hearts. Let us cherish and once again hold with such tenderness and sanctity the gift of one another’s hearts and love. In the same way let us recommit to our first love for Christ and find the first passion that so consumed our soul.
December 7, 2013
Religion tries to control people and regulate God.
I’m ready to kick the lid off and let God out of our box,
so that we can relate with HIm in an uninhibited way.
December 6, 2013
Power through the Word
1 Corinthians 4:20
For the kingdom of God [is] not in word, but in power.
We live in a world full of philosophies and religions. Some would say God is too big for any one religion. It is man that has deviated from God’s way to invent his own. God has always had a plan and “the Way” that brings us to Him. I’ve heard it said that, “religion is merely man’s search for God.” Many religions and cults, Islam being one of them, take the Word of God for their premise, but then twist and pervert it to be their own. True Christianity isn’t just a religion made up of a lot men’s thought, ideas and dreams. It is an inspired book, written by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration and direction. It is not just a book about men of God who could do no wrong. It is about ordinary, sinful men who often stepped out and believed the Word of God to them. Because they dared to put their faith in this God of the Bible they often saw great and mighty things accomplished.
If God was going to write a book about His people why would he put in this book their failures, their shortcomings and their sins? You don’t read any of those things about Mohammed. The Bible isn’t a book about great men. It is a book about a great God working through weak and ordinary men. The Bible is not a great book because it is good reading or just has inspiring stories. It is great book because its words are backed by the power of God. You could burn all the Bibles you wanted, but you could never destroy the Word of God, because it is not just words on a page. It is a living Word and Testament of a living and powerful God. That is what sets it apart from any other book or religion in the world. There may be a lot of truisms in other religions, but it is satan’s little bottle of poison in a lake of truth that brings death, that makes it null and void. If it doesn’t line up a hundred percent with the Bible, it ain’t the real thing.
Why does God tell us to study and meditate on the Word of God? Joshua 1:8 says, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” Psalms 1:1-2 tells us, “Blessed [is] the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight [is] in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” 2 Timothy 2:15 instructs us “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 3:16 also says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”
These are but a few scriptures that encourage us not just to read the Word of God, but to get it down in our hearts and spirits. Why, because it is life and power. When we have a “revealed Word of God” plus “faith” to believe that word, it equals “Power” and the move of God. This is why weak, ordinary men and women like you and me have the potential to do supernatural things. It is a power, like dynamite, which resides in you, because, by faith, you asked Christ and His Holy Spirit to come into you. When He did He brought the power of God into you. You are a keg of dynamite and a potential explosion of the move and power of God. There was an old saying back in the days of powdered fire rifles and guns. It was “keep your powder dry.” Wet powder was ineffective and lost its power. It is the same with us when we let the world, compromise and unbelief come into our lives. We become like wet powder, ineffective.
Luke 17:21 tells us, “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” As a believer in Christ, you are a loaded gun. When you are primed with the Word of God within you and the Spirit of God moves upon you there are no limitation to what He can do through you. That is because the kingdom of God is not in word, it is in power. It is the living Word of God ignited by His Spirit. It will move mountains; it will bring the high place low and the low places high. It will bring down the kingdoms of this world and it will establish the kingdom of our God. You are a part of that. You are the rifle through which He fires that bullet. We are corruptible old earthen vessels until the power of God gets inside of us that, as 2 Corinthians 4:7 says, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” It doesn’t matter about the circumstances of life that work around us; it is the power of God that is at work in us. It is the very resurrection life that raised Christ from the dead that now dwells in you and gives life to your mortal bodies also (Romans 8:11). We do not believe and put our trust in a dead and ineffective word, but in the ever living and ever powerful Word of God, that through faith becomes substance and power to us.
December 5, 2013
Temporal or Eternal
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
This evening, I opened an email and one of my friends sent me something I had received a few years ago. It was sculptures made in the sand at a beach. One of the pictures was of Christ and his twelve disciples…another was Jesus on the cross and the last one was the face of Jesus. I found myself asking Jeannie, “Can you imagine spending all that time on making something that will just fade away or be destroyed by the next day?” I no more said those words when the thought came to me that’s precisely what we do everyday. We work hard in this world for money, to buy things that are temporal…those things that fade away and can be destroyed… instead of working for those things that are eternal. Why do we do this? Is it because this world has blinders on our eyes? It would have us going in every direction but on the straight and narrow road, which leads to life. Jesus says in Matthew 16:26, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Why can’t we understand and keep in mind how temporal this life is? I heard a preacher say once, “Everything we are doing now, will make a difference in our position for all eternity.” I’m sure I didn’t quote it just right, but the meaning is there. And if this is true, then why do we waste so much time? Are we building our house on a firm foundation? Or are we building on sand; and when the winds of adversity blow, what we’ve been built on, will it sink and fade away? My prayer is that each one of us would take a long hard look at our lives and the way we live, and ask ourselves what exactly our lives are about. Are we living for Christ and His destiny for our lives? Or are we living apart from Him, doing our own thing and living our lives the way we please?
December 4, 2013
Created for Good Works
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Everything that is created and fashioned has a purpose and function. Some things are fashioned for honorable purposes and some for less than honorable purposes. God’s word to us today is that He has taken special time, effort and direct thought to create and fashion you for a specific and wonderful purpose. In Christ Jesus, the Father has chosen you out and is forming His nature and character in you for good works, His works. The awesome thing about it is that it didn’t depend on any ability or natural attribute you had. You and I strictly are a product of His grace at work within us. That grace took us out of the place of the dishonorable and placed us in the position of the select and the elect of God. He chose us out and is fashioning us in the likeness of Christ Jesus for a reason, “good works.” This is how we can know what the Father is working in us, by what comes out of us. It won’t be religious works or self-righteous works or even our works. It will be us walking and producing good works because of the One that has separated us out and made us His workmanship. What is He working in you today? Are you yielding yourself to the master craftsman’s hand so that He can fashion you to be all that He desires and purposes you to be?
Let us remember our purpose and on purpose yield our will and our lives to Him so that He can work His precious work of grace in us. We will recognize it by what our lives are producing. We will produce the fruit that will bear witness to the tree from which we came from. James 2:14-18 says it quite well: “What [doth it] profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be [ye] warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what [doth it] profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” True faith will manifest the works of God in a practical way. Our good works should not just be the product of self-efforts at doing well. Those efforts will fail when they are tested with scorn, criticism or lack of appreciation. The good works Christ is working in us comes out of the Father and it is unto Him we live our lives and work the works that are produced out of His unconditional love. They will not cease because of circumstances and response of others. They are being fashioned into our being as a product and witness of our faith. Through these works people will see that we do not have just a superficial religion, but a true and unshakable faith, that truly we are the workmanship of God unto good works in Christ Jesus.
December 3, 2013
Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. 2But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
3Then Jesus told them this parable: 4″Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Do You Love what God Loves?
I have the joy of photographing many people. We jokingly tell our clients that we have one rule when they view their photographs. They can criticize anyone else but themselves. Why do we say that? Invariably, the ones we are the most critical and judgmental of is ourselves. We can see faults and weaknesses in us that no else would even notice or pay attention too. Self is sometimes the hardest person we have to live with and accept. Sometimes it is hard to love your neighbor as your self, because you don’t really love yourself.
God sent Jesus Christ to tell you that you have extreme value and worth in His eyes. We often judge ourselves according to worldly standards of acceptance. We may hate ourselves because we don’t fit into the right weight class, physical appearance, intellectual ability, race or social –economic status. There are numerous reasons we may feel condemned and rejected. We may be struggling with hidden sins or urges we know are perverse or unclean. We may have done things that we are ashamed of or feel dirty and condemned for. Do you know why these sinners and publicans liked to hang around Jesus? It wasn’t because He told them what scumbags and worthless people they were and that they were all going to hell. They were attracted by the Love. It was a love that they had never seen or known for themselves. It was a love that was unconditional and that could look past their sin and shame and see their heart. It was a love that spoke to them that they were not just refuse and rejects, but that they had value and were precious in the eyes of the Father. John 3:17 says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” God didn’t come after us with a big stick. He came after us with the greatest act of Love ever demonstrated to man. God isn’t trying to reject you; He is trying to accept you. We already stand rejected and condemned because of our sin, but God’s love says come to me, trust in My Son and His blood will cover your sin and shame. His blood, shed for your sin, can wash you as white as snow if you will embrace Him in faith. God’s heart is to save and redeem a lost and dying world. It is not His desire that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and eternal life. We have a will that He has given us and He will not violate our will. He doesn’t force us to receive salvation, He simply invites us to receive the provision He has provided for us to be delivered out of the judgement that is already in place for sin and come into His life, receiving His forgiveness.
Many that have walked in darkness for a time are really sick and tired of it. They realize the emptiness it leaves inside of them. It is fun for the moment, but then it leaves us feeling unclean, used and worthless. So we come back to that attitude so many of us have about ourselves, for various reasons. The truth is that God wants you to love and respect what He loves, and that is you. His heart beats for you, His arms are open to you and He wants to receive you and transform your life. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, the important thing for you to know is that He loves you and He can forgive you if you ask Him too. Simply give your heart to Him. Ask Him to forgive those past sins, come to live in your heart and to give you His life. He has a destiny and purpose for your life that you will never know or find in the places of darkness and self –loathing. It is in His love and His light that He will teach you the path of righteousness and show you the great value that you can have in His kingdom.
Do you love what God loves? Isn’t it time that you did? You are the object of His love.
December 2, 2013
In Pursuit of Peace
For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace.
What is the commodity, the attribute and the treasure that one most desires in the world? Some might say wealth, or fame, or power, or beauty, but what is anything if you don’t have peace and the joy it brings to even enjoy anything else. We only need to look as far as Hollywood and the sports world to see examples of people who, outwardly seem to have everything. They have the wealth, the influence and affluence, the beauty and the looks and yet, we set and watch their tragic lives unfold. How can you have so much and be so miserable? It is because you are missing the most important ingredient, PEACE. What is peace? Isn’t it the state of tranquility, exemption from havoc, war, trouble and the threat to our security? Isn’t it harmony, serenity, security, concord, safety, lack of fear, contentment, felicity and prosperity? If we possess real peace, then we are the most fulfilled people in the world.
What brings us this peace and how do we possess it? Well, we know it is not in the world; even Jesus says, “in the world you will have tribulation.” How can we know and possess peace in the midst of tribulation? Let’s look a few examples and insights the Word gives us in this regard. John 14:27 tells us, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Again, in John 16:33 Jesus tells us, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Jesus gives us the keys; peace is not found in the world, but only in Him. He is the King of Salem, the Prince of Peace and our peace is found in His kingdom that resides within us who have embraced it by faith. Like the world at large our personal worlds are rocked by calamities, conflicts, turmoil and unrest, so how can we possess peace in the midst of all these contradictory elements that are touching our lives. It is called rest. We are rested in the loving arms of the Savior, the Holy Spirit is the atmosphere of peace that covers us and we know that He has our life in His hands. We acknowledge Him in all our ways and we seek His direction for our paths, but beyond what we can physically do in the harmony and peace of His Spirit is, we must learn to rest. That rest is not dependent upon our understanding or approval, it is dependent upon our faith to believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Romans 5:1-2 tells us, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” This why the good news of Jesus Christ is called the gospel of Peace, because Jesus Christ and relationship with Him is the Peace that inwardly we are all desiring and seeking. It is a quality of the Kingdom of God, for Romans 14:17 tells us, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
Why don’t more Christians have peace? Isn’t it because we get our eyes and our hearts focused on the outward things? We begin to view our peace as the world does, in the things that we possess and the circumstances that surround us, but real peace doesn’t have anything to do with the outward things; it is fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. It is not even about the natural preservation of our life, it is only about being in the center of His will and purpose, because in that place we know there is a peace that the world cannot understand or grasp. Everything else is secondary and flows out of the peace that we bear as we abide in the Vine.
Do you have peace with yourself today, peace with God and toward others? If not, then we need to find entrance into the peace that is ours in Christ Jesus. What is standing in your way? What is robbing your peace? It is not in running away or getting rid of all your problems; it is finding the peace of Christ in the midst of tribulation and trials. Remember God is always in control even when we aren’t. “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. (Romans 15:33)”
November 29, 2013
This is the One I’m looking for.
Thus saith the LORD, The heaven [is] my throne, and the earth [is] my footstool: where [is] the house that ye build unto me? and where [is] the place of my rest? For all those [things] hath mine hand made, and all those [things] have been, saith the LORD: but to this [man] will I look, [even] to [him that is] poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.
‘Where is the place of my rest’, says the Lord. ‘I am the Lord of heaven and earth, what edifice or building could you possibly make that could even compare with what I have already?’ The Lord is not looking for what we can produce for Him out of the works of our hands; the dwelling place He desires and is looking for is a condition of the heart. “But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” Is that the condition of my heart and yours today? Are we what the Lord is looking for to be the place of His rest?
What is it to be poor? Does it mean you have to be homeless, destitute, without wealth or is it a condition of the heart wherein nothing is regarded of true value outside of God? The spiritually poor recognize that the world and all it’s riches are soon to pass away and that the only true treasures are those of heaven obtained through relationship and right standing with God. Often it is the people of low social and economic status that best grasp this concept.
Jesus teaches the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 and says, “Blessed [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed [are] they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed [are] the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed [are] they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed [are] the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed [are] the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed [are] the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” If we desire to be the blessed of the Lord here is where our heart needs to be. This is an expanded definition of Isaiah 66:2. These are the righteous who yearn and have a heart after God.
What does it mean to have a contrite heart? It is interesting in looking up the meaning of this word in the Hebrew it literally means, “dust”. It spiritually means that your heart is reduced to the base elements, there is no regard, no significance, nothing of value in your spirit outside of God and His working in you. You are as dust before Him and the heart of the contrite is that God would somehow look upon the dust of our nothingness and fashion it into a vessel pleasing to Him. Psalms 34:18 says, “The LORD [is] nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” Psalms 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God [are] a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Finally Isaiah 57:15 says, “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name [is] Holy; I dwell in the high and holy [place], with him also [that is] of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Do we see here the place of His Holy dwelling? Why do we weep and mourn in our spirits? It is because we have become cognizant of how utterly destitute we are without His holy presence and we cry out for Him to fill us and reveal His presence within us.
Lastly, God looks for those who “tremble at His Word”. This is simply the fear of the Lord. It is those who regard God and His Word with such holy respect and reverence that they in no way wish to offend the Holy Spirit in action, word or deed. It is an attitude that truly gives God His due honor and respect.
2 Chronicles 16:9 tells us what God is looking for, “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of [them] whose heart [is] perfect toward him…” Are we what God is looking for?
November 27, 2013
Bridge over Troubled Waters
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
Our hearts are often burdened and troubled with many things, our children, our marriage, our loved ones, our finances, our health and the list goes on. Jesus tells us this is a part of this earthly life. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)” It is true to the selfless nature of Christ that in the last hours before His apprehension and subsequent crucifixion Jesus is not trying to find comfort for Himself, He is instead comforting and reassuring His disciples, preparing them for what is to come. In our lives we will come to these crossroads of great tribulation when our world will get turned upside down. It will be hard to make sense out of the devastation that we feel and heartache we may incur, but Jesus wants us to know that He has not forsaken us in these times. The Holy Spirit has been given to us to be our comforter, our peace, our reassurance that God has not left us or forsaken us. Our Father doesn’t rescue us from all of the tragedies of life. We are destined to walk through them and the consequences that sin has had in the earth. The peace we have is that our Christ lives in us. He is the source and the resource of our ability to walk through the fires and trials of life and not have the smell of smoke upon us. Invariably our first inclination is to begin reasoning and fighting in the power of our flesh, but our salvation is not in us, it is in Him. It is entering into the rest of our God and knowing ‘He is working all things to the good of them that love Him and that are called according to His purpose.’ Our peace comes only as we enter into that place of faith and trust. We know that we serve a great God, who is sovereign over all the earth and the affairs of men and while God doesn’t always change the course of history or events for our particular circumstances, that doesn’t mean He isn’t at work in them. We get so nervous when we are not in the driver’s seat, but God is well able to guide and direct our situation far better than we are. When Job was met with the tremendous tragedies that took his children, his wealth and his health, was he effected emotionally? You bet that he was What made the difference with Job is that he knew life was not about the things of this earth, it was about his relationship with the Father. Job 1:20-22,”20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. [c] The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” 22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” How different from so many today who face trials only to blame God and turn away from him because He let these bad things happen to seemingly good people. Even as the second set of trials were laid upon Job with the afflictions of his flesh, his response bore out his rest and full relinquishment of his life to God. Job 2:7-10, “7 So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. 8 Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes. 9 His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” 10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.”
Our peace in the midst of our tribulation comes from not being devastated by what is happening without, but by turning within. It is by worshipping our God in the midst of trials, by placing ourselves fully within His hands to perform whatever it is He would work out through what we may only see as evil. He is our ark of safety, our fortress, our high tower, our shield and buckler. The Overcomer dwells within us. He has conquered death and the grave; He ever lives to make intercession our behalf. If our eyes and our heart are upon Him, then we are already looking at our victory regardless of what is happening without.
Is your heart troubled today? We have become anxious about many things. Perhaps we are angry with others because they are not doing something to help us. Martha was upset with Mary, her sister, because she was setting at the feet of Jesus feeding off of His words, rather than helping with the natural food preparation. Complaining to Jesus, He tells her, ““Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”” Instead of being anxious, we also need to choose the one thing that is needed, which is feeding off of the Word of God and sitting in His presence. If you need that peace today, you will find it there in His presence as you rest in Him. He is that bridge over troubled waters.
November 26, 2013
Not Our Way, but His
Now a certain [man] was sick, [named] Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was [that] Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard [that], he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.
We all have preconceived notions about how we think things should work out in our lives especially in regards to our prayer requests and petitions before the Lord. In this story is a great example of how Jesus doesn’t operate the way rational and conventional thinking would dictate that He should have. It wasn’t even consistent with how He normally operated. Here we see three siblings who were the closer friends of Jesus and whom it says He, “loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.” The sense and the meaning of the word “loved” here means that he had goodwill toward them, that they were preferred of Him and that He would wish well to them with regard to their welfare. Now if He felt that way about them why does it go on to say that when He heard about Lazarus’ sickness He continued on where He was at for two more days rather than immediately rushing back to take care of Lazarus. Now by human standards we may have judged these actions to be highly insensitive, uncaring and unloving. Certainly Mary and Martha may have struggled with such thoughts and feelings, especially after Lazarus ends up dying.
When you and I consider some of the things we have been praying for and the petitions we have made before the Lord; have we ever had the feeling that He was just ignoring us or that He didn’t really care? No matter how hard we prayed and petitioned the throne of God, no matter how much faith we tried to have to believe, it didn’t turn out the way we thought it should have. In fact sometimes we may feel that the more we pray or walk in the will of God the harder things get. Why? Doesn’t God love us? Doesn’t He care what we are going through?
Jesus loved Lazarus and His sisters, just like He loves you. He cared about them very much and perhaps it was as hard for Jesus to restrain Himself from immediately addressing their situation as it was for the sisters. The point that is being made here is that there are times when God is working a greater thing than what is evident to us on the surface. There are those times when we look back at a situation that we wanted God to immediately deal with and He didn’t and we begin to get a revelation why. Because God worked the way He did, so much more was worked through the situation than ever could have been, had it been immediately resolved. God is invested into us for the long haul. We see the immediate, the needs here and now, but He sees the answers and resolutions through the eyes of eternity and His higher purpose and good. Because our viewpoints are from two totally different realms and perspectives, is it any wonder that God doesn’t often operate the way we think He should? We can always rest in the promise we have in Romans 8:28,
“And we know that all things work together for good, to them that love God, even to them that are called according to His purpose.”
You see with Lazarus, his sickness was not about death, which to us seems to be the ultimate finality, it was about the “glory of God”. Christ needed to be revealed in an even greater aspect than a healer. It was time for certain ones, especially his more intimate friends, to get a revelation of Him as the “Resurrection and the Life”, not just in the last day at Christ’s coming, but here and now. By the time Jesus reached Lazarus he had been dead and in the tomb for four days. The natural mind tells us that is a pretty hopeless situation.
Some of us find ourselves in, or perhaps are going through some of those seemingly hopeless situations where by all natural appearances God didn’t come through. What we forget and find hard to grasp is that sometimes God allows us to come to the end of something in order to bring us into a new beginning. There may be those times when it is more than just a “God fix it”, it has to die to bring us into a greater dimension of life.
If you have a situation that looks hopeless then give it totally into the hands of the God of hope. When Martha came to Jesus, she said, “if You had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. And even now I know that whatsoever You ask of God, God will give You.” Maybe God hasn’t shown up because something or someone has to die. In the economy of God, it is death that often gives place to new and a greater dimension of life. Jesus then told Martha, “Your brother will rise again… I am the Resurrection and the Life: he that believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live; and whoever lives and believes on me, though he die, yet shall he live; and whoever lives and believes on me shall never die. Do you believe this?” We then know that Jesus did go to the tomb and called Lazarus forth and his life was raised up.
Some of you are sitting in the ashes of despair and despondency thinking God has given up on you. No, He loves you too much to allow you to continue as you are. There is the day of your breakthrough when He will speak the Word and call you forth in the newness of life in Him. There will be a resurrection day in your life if you hold steadfast and believe. This is a day to come forth in the newness and the power of His resurrection life.