Friday, May 31, 2013

Overwhelmed? Stand Strong

In summary of 2 Chronicles 20:20b it says, “Put your trust in the Lord your God and you will stand your ground. Believe what his prophets tell you, and you will succeed."

Bottom Line:
Trust in the Lord your God, and you will be made strong. Trust in the men who speak for Him, and you will do well.

What This Means to Me:
In this Chapter of 2 Chronicles Jehoshaphat and his people were at a point of being overwhelmed by opposing armies.  It didn’t look good for them. Jehoshaphat went to God with his concerns and listened to one who spoke up and encouraged others in the group. Jehoshaphat provided these instructions to his people before they went out to the battlefield and these are a great example for me as well when I’m feeling overwhelmed by situations around me.  
In summary, I need to put my trust in God, and then stand my ground.  When I do He will provide the strength for me to do this.  I also need to trust in the men who speak for God (believe in his prophets.)  If I do, then I can succeed in what’s against me.  In verse 15, Jahaziel told the people, ‘Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.’
I need to carefully examine what I’m focusing on right now.  If discouragement is present, it’s not from God.  I believe it would be difficult to be discouraged and focus on God at the same time.  I should always turn to God first and talk to him about my problem.  Then trust him to help me and remember "The Lord says you must not be discouraged or be afraid to face this vast army. The battle depends on God, not you" (2 Chronicles 20:15b GNT).  Instead of fighting the battle, I’m to ‘stand strong.’  To stand strong is an attitude of quiet confidence.  I’m not getting ahead of God, but I’m also not backing up or away from Him.  I’m staying put and watching God work.  
One of the most important truths I need to remember and learn is that is never God’s will for me to run from a difficult situation. If I do, he’s going to bring it up again. God wants me to learn that he is sufficient in every situation, and if I don't learn it in this situation, he’ll just provide the opportunity again in a different situation.
So, I am to stand firm in ‘putting my trust in God.’  To be successful, I need to stand and rely on the character of God and the Word of God and then have faith in God and what his prophets have said.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Giving God's Word More Than Just a Gaze

In summary of James 1:22-25 it says, “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”

Bottom Line:
Don’t just listen to God’s word, do what it says.  When you only listen and do nothing you are only fooling yourself.  Those who hear and do nothing are like one who looks at the mirror and then immediately forgets what they look like.   Looking carefully into the perfect law and doing what it says, not forgetting what you heard, will bring blessings from God.

What this means to me:
I can’t just listen or glance at God’s word and expect to gain a lot.  I must take the time to look intently into it, absorb it, use it to change my values, my perspective and ultimately my behavior.  James calls God’s Word a mirror.  A mirror will help me evaluate myself.  After looking at the mirror I can decide if I need to make any changes before I leave for the day.  God’s word does exactly the same.  In order to make it more permanent in my life, I must get into it deeper.  God promises that blessings will result from me application of it.  
I need to:
  • Read my Bible. “... whoever looks intently ...”
  • Review the Bible. “... and continues in it ...”
  • Remember the Bible. “... not forgetting what they have heard ...”
  • Respond to the Bible. “... but doing it ...”


So I can’t just glance at the Word of God in a rushed, hurried manner and then leave.  Just glancing at God’s work will not likely change my life.  

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Preparing My Heart for Good Reception


In summary of Romans 10:17 it says, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”

Bottom line:
So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.

What this means to me:
My faith was first established from hearing the Good News about Christ and what Christ has done for me.  Good hearing / listening is much like a gardener and planting.  Differing results can occur from the same seed planted into different types of soil.  In order to grow properly the soil must be prepared.  Unprepared soil will not yield good results.  
The same is true for how I hear God’s Word. Two people can hear the same message and have different reactions; for one it really speaks to them, to the other they didn’t get anything.  It turns out that the heart of one who got something was more prepared to listen.  
So what this tells me is that my heart has to be prepared in order to get value out of His Word.  Typical frustrations in life; getting up late, having problems with the commute or other things that make me irritated or put me into a rush will keep me from being properly prepared to list (I’ll likely not be in a receptive mood.)  The Bible reminds me, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you” (James 1:19b-21 NIV).  
In order for me to maintain good reception, I need to adopt four attitudes.
  • I must be quiet. I can’t hear God if I’m talking.
  • I have to be calm. I can’t rush God. If I’m frantic, I’m not going to hear God. The Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God.” In other words, “Sit down and shut up.”
  • I need to be clean. Before I can meet with God, I need to take out some emotional and spiritual garbage. I need to get rid of the stuff that stinks in my life. I get rid of this garbage by confessing my sin to God and agreeing with him that what I did was wrong.
  • I need to be humble. I need to be ready to do whatever God tells me from his Word. A prideful attitude just won’t work.
It is vitally important for me to adopt these four attitudes so that I can get the most out of my time with God.  I have added these four areas to my quiet time routine for incorporation.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Value of Self Control


In summary of Proverbs 25:28 it says,
“Those who do not control themselves are like a city whose walls are broken down”


Bottom Line:
Being unable to control yourself is much like a city whose protective walls have gaping holes.

What this means to me:
Being able to control my reactions (anger) to what occurs is paramount to overall protection.  If I fly of the handle, I’m more likely to respond in an unkind or selfish manner, which leaves me open to retaliation and even attack from the enemy.  This proverb equates the lack of self-control to being like a city in days of the past with broken protective walls.  It could be easily attacked and infiltrated because it lacked any form of protection from it’s enemies.  For me, maintaining control, my responses and anger will keep me from being open.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Learning To Pray First And Pray More


In summary of 2 Chronicles 20:1, 3 it says,
“After this the armies of the Moabites, Ammonites, and some of the Meunites declared war on Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the Lord for guidance."


Bottom Line:
After a period of time, war was declared on Jehoshaphat.  News of this terrified him and he begged the Lord for Guidance.

What this means to me:
Sometimes it seems the odds are against me. I’m facing insurmountable and overwhelming problems or tight schedules.  What I’m learning is that before I do anything else, I should take it to God. Something as simple as “God, I am overwhelmed!, what do you think about this situation and what I should do?”  
In reality my perspective is limited while God's perspective is eternal.  God can see the beginning and the end; the past, present, and future all at once. I need to get his perspective (a bigger picture of what the problem really is.)  Often I go to prayer as a last resort rather than as my first thought. Prayer should be my first choice, not my last. If I want God to help me overcome the odds in any area of life, I need to turn to him first.  With every high, there is a low. After every victory, there is a letdown. And with every blessing, there comes a testing. I should expect blessing but also battles. There’s no escaping it, I’m going to have difficult times. I should never let an impossible situation intimidate you. Instead I should let it motivate you to pray more and turn to God first.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Faith Testing


In summary of 1 Peter 1:7a it says,
“These troubles come to prove that your faith is pure. This purity of faith is worth more than gold”


Bottom Line:
Trials come to prove your faith is pure and genuine.  Purity of faith has the highest value in life.

What this means to me:
This verse reminds me that troubles and trials that come my way are a way of purifying and strengthening my faith.  To God my faith is more precious that any of the most valuable things (i.e Gold.)  God has repeatedly told me in his Word that he will meet my needs.  In every promise is a condition and that condition is that I trust in Him.  The more I trust God, the more God is able to meet needs that come up in my life.  What I’m learning is that faith doesn’t come from just talking about it.  Faith is more like a muscle which gets developed as it is used.  Like building any muscle, the more I use it, the more it gets stretched and the more God is able to bless me.  The circumstances that God creates to stretch my faith is the "troubles/trials":  They come to show my faith is genuine, being tested as fire will test gold.  There are four common trials that God uses to test faith, and, I have found that I’m in one right now. These are opportunities to develop my faith so I can trust God more.
  • The Pressure Test - this one asks the question, “How will you handle stress?" Will I depend on myself, or will I depend on God? Psalm 50:15 says, “Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me" (NIV). Will I turn to God when i’m in trouble and not to other things?
  • The People Test - God often uses people in my life to test and stretch and develop your faith. This test asks, “How will I handle disappointment?” Life is often disappointing. Plans don’t turn out the way we planned them. But the most disappointing thing in life is people. I get disappointed by people because I often expect them to meet a need that only God himself can meet. This is a test!  In this my problem is not the people in my life. My problem is my response to the people in my life. People are not the problem, and they’re not the answer to the problem, either. The answer is God. When I expect other people to be my savior, I’m setting yourself up for disappointment.
  • The Persistence Test - this one asks: "Will I keep my commitments?" Life is about making commitments. The problem most of us have today is that we are only half committed to two dozen things instead of being totally committed to the one or two things in life that really matter for now and eternity. Such a waste!  If i’m weak I turn toward giving excuses. If I’m strong I’ll find the time and way to do what I said I’ll do.  This is a test of the kind of character you’re going to develop.
  • The Priorities Test - This is the most important test, and it asks, "Who will be first in my life?" How will I you know if God is really first priority in your life? By asking myself three questions: What do I think about the most? Where does my money go first? How do I spend my time? Answers to these reveal the priorities of my life.

God’s Word tells me that “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12 NLT).  This crown he mentions is a symbol of all that God wants to do in my life — all the blessings he wants to bestow on me, all the needs he wants to meet, all the rewards he wants to eventually give me in Heaven. Such a great a deal if I can keep focused when troubles and trials come my way!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Learning To Surrender to God's Loving Control


In summary of Romans 5:1 it says,
“Since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”


Bottom Line:
We are made right in God’s sight by our faith.  We have peace because of what Christ did for us.

What this means to me:
When I put my faith and trust in the Lord I became right in God’s sight.  I know have peace because of what Jesus Christ my Lord has done.  The best evidence of a deep, personal, satisfying peace of mind comes from a complete surrender of the control of my life totally to God.  And obedience is outward evidence of this surrendered life. When God says, “Do it!” I need to do it. It shouldn’t matter to me if I don’t understand it, if anybody else is doing it, if it’s possible or not, if it’s hard or easy. I just need to do it.  
Listening to God’s Word and following his direction, will result in peace in my life.  The greatest stress will only come from me continuing to control my life and the outcomes.  If I put God in control He will help relieve my worry, guilt, bitterness, resentment, anxiety, fear, fatigue, depression, and despair.  God offers peace, power, strength, wisdom, purpose, meaning, eternal life, significance, and joy.  So Today I pray,
“Dear Father, you know how I have resented the problems in my life, and you know how I have resisted the things that have caused me pain that I can’t change. You know that I’ve asked you many times for an explanation that has never come.
Today, I want to stop fighting you over things I don’t understand. Forgive me. I want to begin the path of personal peace. So I ask you for help. Help me to change the things that I can, and help me to accept the things that cannot be changed. Help me, Jesus, to trust in your loving care when things don’t make sense. Help me to trust that you are a good God and that you have my best interest at heart.
Today, I make an unconditional surrender of all my life to your loving care and control. Please give me your strength and wisdom and peace and purpose. I want to make peace with God by faith so that I can have the peace of God through you, Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Friday, May 17, 2013

Learning To Accept What Cannot Be Changed


In summary of Philippians 4:11-13 it says,
“I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”


Bottom Line:
Paul learned how to be content in with what He had.  He knew how to live on little or lots.  He learned the secret for living in every situation.  You face with the knowledge that Christ helps give you the strength to do everything.

What this means to me:
Just like Paul, it is my desire to learn how to be happy and content with what I have, whether it be in times of plenty or famine.  I want to embrace his secret which is to face each day knowing that Christ is with me and will help provide the strength to do anything.  So this means I should stop and recognize when I start worrying about things, especially the ones that can’t be changed.  I should learn to not be bitter or resentful about what’s in front of me.  Peace will come when I accept what cannot be changed.  Paul wrote this passage while in prison awaiting execution.  I would imagine the Paul would have liked to have change his circumstance.  Instead he trusted God for the things that he could not change and chose to give God the glory.  One of the hardest parts will be getting beyond the question of “God, why is this happening, why are you allowing it?”  In reality God doesn’t own me an explanation at all.  I need to remember that God is good, just, and fair.  He understands things I can’t even comprehend. I just need to say “ok”.  I can count on the presence of God in my life to comfort me.  Today I will stop looking for something that I really don’t need, and stop trying to change things that are out of my control.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

God Says I’m Acceptable


In summary of Ephesians 1:6 it says,
“We thank God for His loving-favor to us. He gave this loving-favor to us through His much-loved Son.”


Bottom Line:
Let us praise God for his glorious grace, for the free gift he gave us in his dear Son!

What This Means To Me:
God provides me his glorious and abundant grace, for this I thank and praise him daily.  This is a free give he gave through his dear Son’s sacrifice. Belonging to Christ allows this grace to flow freely in my life.  However, In my life I still lean toward basing my self-confidence on what others think.  I work at being accepted by them.  The concept I need to focus on and remember is that God has already accepted me, and loves me unconditionally.  He accepts me for who I am, in fact he made me the way I am.  I need to learn that I won’t need anyone else’s acceptance.  
Two of the main reasons for this is, I’ll never fully get the approval or acceptance of everyone anyway. This is not because of who I am but mainly because of who they are. Secondly, I really don't need their approval because I am acceptable to God just the way I am. Their approval should not be a prerequisite to allowing me to be happy.  In this life, I only need the love and approval of one person, and I’ve already got it: God says I’m acceptable!  This simple truth should be a focus for me when I’m feeling like I want and need the approval of others.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Joy Is a Choice


In summary of Philippians 1:6 it says,
“I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”


Bottom Line:
God Who began the good work in you will keep on working within you until the day Jesus Christ comes again.

What this means to me:
When I turned my life over to Him he started doing His good work within me, helping to shape my perspective and adjust my values, and His work with continue up until the day that Jesus comes for me.  As I mentioned yesterday, Paul in the book of Philippians used the word “joy” 16 times in just four chapters. As a prisoner in a Roman jail, awaiting execution, it’s pretty amazing to think that he was able to write an extremely positive book of the Bible during one of the darkest times of his life.  I am learning that I can have that same kind of joy. In the book of Philippians, Paul provided six joy-builders to use in constructing a  joyful life, no matter the circumstances. Yesterday I reviewed the first three letters in the acrostic — JOYFUL. Here are the last three joy-builders.
F: Focus on what’s good.  Life can be filled with ups and downs, however I have a choice: Which are you going to focus on — the good or the bad? Paul says in Philippians 4:8, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (NLT).  The only real place I can find these things are in God’s Word. The more I fill my mind with this book, the more positive and joyful I’ll be. God’s Word is true, it is right, and it is admirable. It is worthy of value.
U: Use your life to help others. Paul was joyful because he was unselfish. He invested his life in others. In order for me to experience continuous joy in my life, I need to give my life away. Stop focusing on my puny problems and aches and pains, and start focusing on helping others. The more I give my life away, the more you find it. The more unselfish I become, the more joyful a person I’ll be.
L: Learn to be content.  This is the bottom line: Joy is a decision. I’ll be as joyful as I choose to be.
I tend to get caught up in “when and then” thinking (“When ‘this’ happens in my life, then I’ll be more content”). I’m as joyful as I choose to be, because joy is a choice. Philippians 4:11 says, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (NIV). I can always be joyful — no matter what happens — because God is in control.
I have a chance to determine my destiny. Changing right now the priorities of my life. Change right now what I’m going to live the rest of my life for. If I can continue to yield myself to God’s purpose, getting to know His Son, and using my life to help others, then I’ll have more joy than I could ever imagine.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Learning To Be Joyful In All Things


In summary of Philippians 4:6 it says,
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”


Bottom Line:
Instead of worrying, start praying.  Tell God what you are concerned about or what you need.  Ask Him with a thankful heart.

What this means to me:
Instead of being anxious or worrying about things, I should turn and shape them into prayers.  But to be sure and ask Him with a thankful heart.  I need to remember that God wants to hear from me.  
Joy is a fundamental need for life.  Life without joy can be overwhelming, overburdened and oppressive.  When joy is present I can have much more energy, creativity, and productivity.  
In the rather short book of Philippians (4 chapters) Paul uses the word “joy” 16 times. The amazing thing is, Paul didn’t write this book when he was on vacation in a tropical paradise. He was in prison in Rome, waiting to be executed. In the darkest days of his life, he wrote the most positive book in the Bible.  In Philippians, Paul presents six joy-builders that if I take heart in will help diffuse any discouragement and lift depression. I found an easy acrostic for them — JOYFUL.  Here are the first three:
J: Jettison all regrets about your past.  This means to “to abandon as worthless, to discard, to eliminate, to get rid of.” Paul says if you want to enjoy life, there are some things you’ve got to get rid of because they are wearing you down and overburdening your life. The Bible says to forget your regrets, because that's what God does — he chooses to forgive your mistakes once they're confessed. The starting point of joy is letting go of the past. Philippians 3:13 says, “One thing I do is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead” (GN).
O: Omit all worries about your future. If you’re going to enjoy the present, you must omit all worries about your future. Worry, is the greatest killjoy of them all. You cannot be joyful and worried at the same time. Paul’s antidotes are these verses: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (Philippians 4:6 NLT). You can either worry or you can pray.
Y: Yield yourself to God's purpose.  If you’re just drifting, if you don’t know where you came from or where you’re going or why you’re here, of course you’re not going to have any joy in your life. We all need a cause greater than ourselves for which we live. That is what brings us joy. Living for yourself does not bring joy.
Even when Paul had literally lost everything, there was one thing that could not be taken away from him — his purpose in life. Paul says in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (NIV).
To start on having a joy-filled life, I need to get in line with God’s purpose for my life. When I begin to live the purpose for which I am made, life will makes sense, and joy is more easily found.  Today I will consider what I’m worried about?   Then what will I need to do to release my worry?  How will I need to yield?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Live Relaxed In God's Grace


In summary of Psalms 103:13-14 it say, "
13 The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. 14 For he knows how weak we are;"


Bottom Line:
To those who take him seriously, God is like a father.  He is tender and compassionate and knows how weak we are.

What this means to me:
When I take God seriously he will have compassion on me much like a father to his children.  He knows exactly what I’m made including my weaknesses.   In essence God understands me completely and is fully aware of my humanity. He knows what makes me tick. He knows my faults, my fears, my failures, and my frustrations. And more importantly, He doesn't expect me to be Superman.  God loves me at every stage of my development / life.  I do not need to fret over unresolved guilt and unrealistic expectations. God's love for me is unconditional and not based on what I do or don't do.  His Word tells me that, "There is no condemnation now for those who live in union with Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1 TEV) Which means I can take a card and write every single thing I've ever done wrong on it -- all my sins, all my faults, all and my mistakes. And then I put the card into a book and close it.  Afterwards I won’t be able to see the card anymore, I’ll only see the book. That's the way God sees me when Jesus is in my life. He no longer sees my sin; he sees Jesus at work in my life.  When I come to Christ, Jesus wraps me with His love. He looks at Jesus and sees that Jesus is perfect. He doesn't see my sin. And with this, I can relax in God's grace.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

God Uses All Things For Our Good And His Purposes


In summary of Romans 8:28 it says,
“We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”


Bottom Line:
God will use everything to work toward the good of those who love him, he will work them into his purpose.

What this means to me:
This verse reminds me that everything I go through and experience in life will be used by God, whether I consider it good or bad.  God has a purpose for everything and uses it to further his kingdom and grow me.  So in this I can be sure that every detail in my life of love for God will be worked into something good.  As I look at this this morning, I’m reminded of several folks in my life who are facing difficult situations (sickness, job stability, illness in a family member.) For them those pills are bitter going down, but all of them have peace in knowing that God is working regardless of the outcome.  I too have experienced similar issues in the past, but I have come to realize (like my friends) that God is up to something good, even if we can’t always see it. He is actively working to bring good out of whatever happens in life. To hold on to hope in the midst of tough times, it’s important to grab a hold of this truth on hold onto it always.  
This verse, tells us that when you put your whole life together, every piece of it works together for good. It’s similar to making a cake in which I might not like the taste of each ingredient, but when it’s all put together, its hard for me to keep my hands off of it. God wants to bake an amazingly tasty cake with my life, and he wants to use even the distasteful and bitter elements to do it.  It’s important to note that God doesn’t say that everything works together “like we want it to” or that every story will have a happy ending. The reality is not every decision I make will be a success.
The verse also reminds me that since I’m a believer I can have absolute confidence that the Master Designer of the universe causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God.  Hope isn’t the same as optimism. It isn’t the belief that something bad will turn out well. It’s the absolute confidence that every part of your life ultimately makes sense regardless of how it turns out this side of eternity.  
From my vantage point, my life look like a mess at times, but God’s view from Heaven isn’t the same as ours.  You can’t even imagine the good that God has in store for your future. In Jeremiah 29:11 God says, “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future” (NCV).  My future is in his hands — and there’s no better place for it to be.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

There Is Always Hope


In summary of Romans 15:13 it says,
“May God, the source of hope, fill you with joy and peace through your faith in him. Then you will overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”


Bottom Line:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

What this means to me:
This passage reminds me that God is to be my ultimate source of hope.  He will fill me with all the joy and peace.  This is a result that comes from trusting and believing in him.  He provides his Spirit living within me, He is never far away.  There have been darker times in my past when I have asked myself, “Is there hope” and “Is this life worth living?”  These were some dark times when long struggles had been present and I was not walking daily with Him.  I believe it is extremely difficult to go on without hope.  Hope is an essential part of life.  Real hope is in such short supply in our society today, people tend to fall for all kinds of scams. Instead of turning to God, they trust in false hopes, like psychic hotlines, palm readings, astrology, fake healers, and quack cures. Inevitably, those false hopes disappoint.  Real hope in this life is found by turning to God.  Romans 15:13 says, “May God, the source of hope, fill you with joy and peace through your faith in him. Then you will overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (GWT).  God is the only source of hope that has never disappointed me. When I place my faith in him, he provides joy, peace, and hope that overflows.  God is everywhere. And I am never, ever alone.  And where God is, If find hope is present.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

God's Shield of Faith Provides Protection


In summary of Ephesians 6:16 it says,
“At all times carry faith as a shield; for with it you will be able to put out all the burning arrows shot by the Evil One.”


Bottom Line:
Use the shield of faith, it can stop all the burning arrows of the Evil One.

What this means to me
The enemy will do all he can to distract me, cast doubts, and cast burning arrows my way.  This verse reminds me to always carry with me and use the shield of faith, as it can extinguish and stop what the enemy casts my way.  Because I have decided to be a follower of Jesus, I have fiery darts coming at me all the time (I’m a target.). His fiery darts are items Satan implants into the thoughts of my mind such as:
  • Doubt. asking myself, “Did God really say? Can I really trust God? Isn’t that just your interpretation?”
  • Discouragement. Satan tells me, “I’m never going to get any better. My life won’t change. I shouldn’t even try.
  • Delay. I start asking myself, “Why is this taking so long?”
  • Difficulty. I ask myself, “Why is this so hard? Why is it so hard to make _______ work? Why is it so hard to do ______?”
  • Depression. I tell myself, “It’s not worth it.”
  • All these darts can come my way on a regular basis. They create uncertainty in my life. In times of great uncertainty these fiery darts will fly even faster. My best action is to just be ready for them.

Paul provides me with a proper antidote to these fiery darts: the Shield of Faith. The Bible says, “At all times carry faith as a shield; for with it you will be able to put out all the burning arrows shot by the Evil One” (Ephesians 6:16 GNT). The Shield of Faith is my only protection against doubt, discouragement, delay, difficulty, and depression. I need to Trust God, no matter what I see, hear, or feel about the world around me. I need the certainty of God when I face the uncertainty of Satan’s fiery darts.  In short, I’ll need to learn how to doubt my doubts and believe my beliefs. Most other normally do the opposite. They doubt their beliefs and believe their doubts. The truth I need to hold onto is, “God said it, and that settles it.” God’s truth isn’t based on whether I believe it or not. It’s still true even if when I don’t believe it, because God can’t lie.  It is the certainty that God’s promises are true even when they don’t appear to currently be true in my life.  Whenever I start believing my doubts and doubting my beliefs, Satan cracks a door open in my life, and he’ll use that door to attack me on many levels.  I can’t ever take off the Shield of Faith, either. Paul tells me to wear it “at all times.” Satan will never stop throwing his fiery darts at me. I am to stay on my guard. Trust God and his Word, no matter what’s going on in life.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Faith, Not Feelings, Please God


In summary of Job 1:21, it says,
“He said, ‘I was born with nothing, and I will die with nothing. The Lord gave, and now he has taken away. May his name be praised!’”


Bottom Line:
We bring nothing into this world, we take nothing when we leave.  The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.  Praise God.

What this means to me:
This passage reminds me that I brought nothing physically into this world.  When I leave I will take nothing physically with me.  In my life the Lord has given me what I have and there are times when the Lord may take it away.  What I need to learn and rely on is that regardless of what happens, God should always be praised.  What His word tells me is that God will always be present in my life, even when I’m unaware of him and his presence.  God is more concerned that I learn to trust him rather than feel him.  It is faith, not feelings that please God.  Situations which stretch my faith most will be those times when life seems to be falling apart and God seems nowhere to be found.  This is what happened to Job.  On a single day he lost everything: his family, his business, his health, and everything he owned. Most discouraging - for thirty-seven chapters, God said nothing to him!  So the question comes, how do I praise God when I don't understand what's happening in life and God appears silent?  How do I stay connected to him in a crisis without communication? How do I keep my eyes on Jesus when they're full of tears?  I can only do what Job did: "Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.'" (Job 1:20-21 NIV)  The key is to tell God exactly how I feel. Pour out my heart to God. Unload every emotion that I’m feeling.  God will be able to handle my doubt, anger, fear, grief, confusion, and questions.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Satan Is A Real Enemy


In summary of Ephesians 6:12 it says,
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”


Bottom Line:
Our fight (struggle) is not against people here on earth, rather its a battle against wicked rulers and powers of the unseen darkness, the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly realms.

What this means to me:
I have an enemy and it’s not one I can see like other people in my life.  This enemy isn’t flesh and blood at all.  This battle is with Satan, the enemy himself.  At times I feel discouraged, defeated and often think it’s the economy, a political action, a segment of people, or those I disagree with.  I blame things on these instead of the one whom the Bible calls a thief and a liar.  Satan is one who is out to destroy anyone who loves and follows Jesus.  On my own, I’m no match for battling him and his influence in my life (it's sort of like shooting a rubber band against a battleship.).  To find victory in these feelings, I need to start attacking the right enemy (Satan.).  I need Jesus and his power to help me.  Satan uses everyone, putting thoughts into my mind as well as other Christians, making us all pawns in his realm.  I need to learn that not everything that is spiritual is good.  There is spiritual light and spiritual darkness.  Satan does not fight fair.  He may not slug me, but he will insert discouraging and depressing ideas into my mind.  I need to protect myself with the armor of God. I need to learn to catch him in the act, let him know I know where that idea comes from, and ask Jesus for help.  Satan is a real enemy who disrupts life.  But there is good news, he doesn’t have a chance against Jesus.  

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Learning To Let Go Of The Eternally Useless


In summary of 2 Corinthians 4:18 it says,
“So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever”


Bottom Line:
Don’t focus on things or problems we currently see, rather focus on the those things that cannot be seen.  For what we see today will not last.  Things that we don’t see will last forever.

What this means to me:
This passage reminds me that there is far more in life than meets the eye.  I should not focus and give attention to the things and troubles I currently see.  As they will not last.  Rather I should focus on things that cannot be seen as they are the ones really matter and will last forever.  It is vitally important for me to remember that life on earth is only a temporary assignment.  With this perspective in mind I can adjust my values and what I fix my attention to on the eternally important things.  "All that is not eternal is eternally useless. - C. S. Lewis"   It would be a fatal mistake for me to assume that God’s purpose for me was only material or just popular success (what the world usually values.)  In God’s perspective an abundant life has nothing to do with material abundance at all.   Faithfulness to God will not always guarantee success in a career or even in my ministry.  I should never focus on the temporary crowns of this life.  Examples in scripture; Paul was faithful - yet he ended up in prison,. John the Baptist was faithful - but he was beheaded, help illustrate this.  But the end of this life is not the end at all!  So I need to remember that when life gets tough for me, when I’m feeling overwhelmed with doubt, or even wondering if living for Christ is worth the effort, I only need to remember that I’m not home yet.  Upon my death I won't be leaving home - i’ll actually be going home.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Learning To Never Give Up On What God Has Asked!


In summary of 2 Chronicles 16:9a it says, "
The Lord keeps close watch over the whole world, to give strength to those whose hearts are loyal to him. "


Bottom Line:
The Lord searches the the whole earth, he looks to give strength to those committed to him.

What This means to me:
God is keeping close watch, he provides strength to me as I fully commit my heart and life to him.  Delays, difficulties, detours and dead ends are all part of everyday life.  I can’t always predict when they will happen, and often things can take much longer than what I want.  In the story of Noah I find that it took 120 years for him to build the ark (this is a really long time of day after day after day activity.).  In all that time Noah trusted God and believed what God had told him to do.  In all of this, Noah did not give up.  So when I face issues accomplishing what God has communicated to me, I too should not give up.  I need to realize that God is in control and is always on the alert / lookout for those who are totally committed to him."  Overall God is looking to bless those who are committed to him. So when I face trouble, I’ll recommit myself and not give up on what God has asked me to do.

Choosing to Accept God’s Grace

In review of Romans 6:23 it tells me that “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lor...