Friday, July 26, 2013

He's Listening!

“How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but your do not listen?” (Habakkuk 1:2)

Have you ever sometimes felt forgotten, or felt that maybe God is too busy to answer your cry for help? I am pretty sure we have all been there; we may earnestly pursue help or an answer from Him, but in return only sense His silence…or so it seems. It can be defeating, discouraging, and lonely. Just like Habakkuk, we may complain vigorously to God about a situation or hardship, but I think that God’s answer to him would be the same answer he would give to us, “if it seems slow in coming, we have to wait patiently because it will surely take place!” It’s not easy to wait, especially when we think God is being silent, but as I am sure most of us have learned in the past, our impatience only gets in the way of what He plans to do with us. In the end, we know that God is in control, and we must wait patiently for Him to answer and to act.

“For the revelation awaits an appointed time, it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it, it will certainly come and not delay.” (Habakkuk 2:3)

We humans have a difficult time waiting; why wait…why not now? We want instant gratification, and we want it in this moment! We expect instant answers without the discipline of waiting for God’s timing. Even though God may seem silent in regards to a specific appeal or request, we must remember that He is always in a constant state of communication with us. It might not be time for God to reveal the answer or solution to our problem, but we have to trust God even in His silence, because His delays aren’t necessarily His denials. One thing I have certainly learned is that God does answer prayers and requests but not always immediately or in the way I think they should be answered; but I have also learned not to question or doubt His wisdom or timing. We do not fully understand why God makes us wait, and we don’t always see the sign of God’s power while we are waiting. But we do know that He has a purpose in our waiting, and we can be assured that He is going to show up when the solution or request seems hopeless, or even impossible!

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” (Habakkuk 3:18)

We have a choice as we go through troubles, painful circumstances, and even God’s apparent silence. It starts with trust and faith; if we trust Him and wait patiently, He will answer us. And just like Habakkuk, we must choose to wait patiently and trust in Him even in His silence. Even through the various troubles and events of the evil world, Habakkuk chose to be joyful and rejoice in the Lord. His heart was filled with joy, not with bitterness, anger, or resentment.

“The Sovereign Lord is my strength, He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.” (Habakkuk 3:19)

Just because God seems silent, we should never doubt Him or stop praying. His silence is an invitation to press on and seek Him more persistently. He is in control, and hears our cries for help, and He waits for the perfect time to speak. We cannot see all that God is doing, or see all that He will do, but we can be assured that He will answer us when the time is right. And even though it’s not easy to wait when God is silent, experience tells us the wait is worth it. We can leave all of our doubts behind, because we know that our relationship with Him can give us inner energy and strength that can sustain us. Our true happiness lies in resting in His will, in His loving arms, and in His perfect timing.

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sow a Good Seed

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. (Galatians 6:7)

Every action has results, and every day (whether we realize it or not) we are sowing seeds. In our interaction with our family, friends, co-workers, or people that just happen to cross our paths, we can sow a seed by a gesture, a look, our words, or just a smile. Or…we can be sowing seeds of doubt, negativity, greed, or anger. The phrase “you reap what you sow” is familiar to us all, but how often do we really take the time to consider the meaning of the phrase? And, as the scripture above tells us, we should never deceive ourselves into thinking that we are hiding anything from God by the way we behave; if we are kind and compassionate to others we will reap kindness and compassion. On the other hand, if we are in the habit of sowing bad seeds by judging or mistreating others, then we shouldn’t be surprised when things begin to go wrong in our lives. If we plant to please God, we will harvest joy and everlasting life…what kind of seeds are you planting?

“The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8)

We hear a lot of bad stories about people who get away with sowing some really bad things, who escape judgment and consequences for illegal and unethical behavior. However, the manner in which we behave and conduct ourselves comes back to us, and we can rest assured that most of us do reap one way or another in our lifetime, and there will be consequences eventually…if not in this life, then at the judgment. Every day we have an opportunity to go into the field, plant new seeds, and sow to please the Spirit. If we rarely ever sow a good seed we can’t expect to reap blessings and favors, and we certainly can’t expect God to shower us with blessings and show us favor through others if we have done nothing to deserve it. We can never get away from the seeds we plant, and we certainly can't fool God or ourselves, so we better make sure that the seeds we sow are worth growing and reaping!

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)

We must not grow weary in planting that which draws us closer to God; seeds of faith, forgiveness, love, and kindness are essential for our eternal survival. Even if our efforts are not yielding a great deal, or our labors of love attract little or no appreciation from others, the truth is…God wants us to continue doing good, regardless of the results we see. It may be discouraging to do right and receive no words of thanks, but He challenges us to keep on doing good and trust Him for the results. And even when we think our efforts don’t amount to much, God is pleased when we are enthusiastic, obedient and trust Him to give us the heart and strength to keep going. The worst enemy of enthusiasm is weariness; what once was a joy has now become a wearisome burden, but we must battle against the weariness associated to doing good. We can never sow sparingly, give grudgingly, or do anything with the wrong motive. God promises us that what we pour out, will be replenished!
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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Spiritual Slumber

“For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret in being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13)

Do you ever find yourself a little too complacent when you are comfortable and content? I am finding that there is a major difference between being complacent and being content.  Complacency is where we adopt a “that’s good enough”, or “I’m comfortable where I am” mentality. We have come to a place in our lives where we are comfortable with the way things are, so why do anything…right? Contentment on the other hand, is a state of being when we can accept the reality of where we are in life, joyfully, without complaint or resentment. We accept the things we cannot change and work on the things we can without being discouraged.

The problem is… we often get complacent when we are too content…

…and that’s exactly what the enemy wants us to do!

Contentment is healthy. But complacency…is dangerous!

“We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” (Hebrews 2:1)

Satan deceives us into believing that as long as everything is going well we can sit back, enjoy life, and do nothing at all. He loves it when we are comfortable and He is constantly working to slow or even stop us from growing and accomplishing greater things. When we stand still, we stop paying attention to the dangers of the enemy and we just sort of float along in our Christian walk. Ouch! We better pay attention and not drift away into His false teachings! Paying attention is hard work, and it involves focusing our mind, body, and senses to stay firm and not float into a spiritual slumber!

“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12)

All of us as some point in our lives have a tendency to slip into a lukewarm spiritual state; when everything is going well and we don’t desire anything it’s very easy to just take it easy and let the days go by. Often we become so familiar with the things of God and begin to take them for granted; we lose appreciation of the grace of God and make light of His many blessings. This is when we must make a compromise in our lives and balance our contentment with a deep desire to grow and move beyond where we are today. We can’t become complacent and lazy with where we are because God has so much more for us to do, and He will provide everything necessary to complete any task. Even though at times our flesh is weak and desires the easy way out, God has given us a spirit of a sound mind and leaves it up to us to either exercise growth with a desire to move beyond where we are, or choose idleness and complacency.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing, and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

God encourages us to stay focused on where we are at all times in our walk with Him because it doesn’t take long to drift back into the patterns of the world and stop doing the things we know to be right—things known to strengthen our walk. We must be thankful for the territory we have covered, while believing and expecting Him to enlarge our territory. The best way to beat complacency is to get up, get moving, and follow God wherever He leads us; the result should be a blessing!    
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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Joyful Spirit

“The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust Him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” (Psalm 28:7 NLT)

Isn’t it incredible to be around someone who finds joy and thankfulness in the smallest of things; who on any given day, in any situation, can find countless opportunities to be joyful? But for many of us, joy can be a funny thing. When it's taken from us, it's gone unless we use all the strength that God gives us to hold on to it. Many of us fall into this trap; we allow the enemy to rob us of our gladness and peace and steal our joy. and we become so focused on this world and the hardships and internal struggles it can bring. It seems that every day there are opportunities in life to get upset and lose our joy and peace, and we can lose our joy for today by worrying about what may happen tomorrow. However, it is our choice as to whether or not we allow circumstances to ruin our day, and we can’t allow ourselves to ever become defeated by losing our joyful spirit.

There are many things Christians need to be on guard against:

…Letting our circumstances dictate our joy…

…Not being content with what we have, where we live, or how we look…

…Allowing others to steal our joy…

…Temporarily forgetting that God is on control…

…Not going to the Lord in prayer and thanking Him for everything…

“May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.” (Colossians 1:11 ESV)

Even when we feel like our lives are crumbling around us, we can find joy in our eternal relationship with our Creator! Our joy is one of the most powerful weapons we have against the enemy; it’s a great source of strength that God has given us. And even though we certainly can’t ignore the difficulties in our lives, we need to live with joy regardless of what the world may demand, and choose not to let obstacles, frustrations, or complications get us down. If we make it a point to delight in every little thing, all the small moments of joy and happiness will add up, and keep us moving down the path to the fruit of the spirit.


There are many things we can focus on for joyful living:

…Count all of our blessings and be thankful and optimistic…

…Rely on God as our ultimate source of joy…

…Set aside time each day to simply relax and clear our minds, and let God’s love dwell in our hearts…

…Learn from our mistakes and others and have a forgiving heart…

…Do something to make others happy and put a smile on their face…

Satan’s desire is to kill, steal, and destroy our joy, but joy and peace of mind are the results of making right decisions; the war is real but we don’t have to be defeated! When we open our hearts and keep our eyes on Jesus, we can keep smiling on the outside and keep a genuine joy on the inside regardless of the joy stealers who may cross our paths. We can be happy right where we are! Even in difficult situations, places, and/or crowds, God has armed us with strength for every battle, and we can have joy in the midst of that adversity if we have the right approach. Joy is a gift from God and we should never let the gift of His joy be wasted!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him , so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the holy spirit.” (Romans 15:13 NIV)
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