Tag Archives: truth

A flannel board and flannel Jesus

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel not with words of human wisdom, let the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 1 Corinthians 1:17

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  I Corinthians 1:18

God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; He chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong…the lowly things and the despised things and the things that are not to nullify the things that are so that no one may boast before Him.  It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus.  1 Corinthians 1:27-30

I got a flier in the mail this week from a Bible study company and flipped through it.  One page was an ad for a cruise with “your favorite Bible teacher.”  Another page, ads for an event in several cities with a dozen or so attractive thirty something women on a pretty topic.  No older women, less attractive, handicapped ones could speak?  “Stop it,” I thought.

flannel JesusThen in my reading through the Bible in a year chronologically I sat down to these verses in 1 Corinthians.  It took me back to the two ladies that I became a Christian through in the tiny country Vacation Bible School fifty some years ago.  They used a flannel board, a flannel Jesus and song lyrics written on tag board.  They persistently talked about Jesus with no other props.  They came to my community with no other Gospel witness for over 35 years, armed with the love of Jesus and a commitment to serve Him like no other I have seen.

They wrote to me every month from the time I was 13 until I was almost 30.  They discipled me in the faith and would call me “their Timothy.”  They probably wouldn’t have made it as headliners at a women’s weekend.  Nor would I.  That’s not how God made me and that’s not where God has planted me.  And somehow, that’s how He has made the message of the cross to be.  It’s not to be glitzy or glamorous, lest it be emptied of its power.

It is not to be bedazzled, though we want to pretty it up.  A friend of mine told how she had a mentor named Ethyl who had the gift of faith.  She would go fishing with Ethyl and Ethyl would know where to fish because God would tell her.   Ethyl would do more big things than just bring home big catches of fish, she would allow God to use that gift of faith all over the place to do big things through her.  Only thing was, she never drew attention to herself.

When she was old, she wrote a little book about all of the things that God did and she called it, “Ethyl Nobody.”  This was years before self publishing and marketing, so I haven’t been able to find that book.  I wish I could.  I’ve thought about that title, and have thought that one day I’d like to write a book like that before I die and title it, “Martha Nobody.”  God has done so many things in and through me, just like He did with the dear old ladies with the flannel board, a flannel Jesus, and cardboard song lyrics.

Better than that, they were armed with the message of the Gospel, the love of Jesus, and the conviction that if they kept telling it that God would change lives and eventually it would change the world.  It has changed my world.

*Image from Feltark

 


Not Good if Detached

 “I am the vine: you are the branches.  Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5 

Corrie Ten Boom, one of my favorite warriors of the faith, wrote about keeping in that abiding relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit:

If the connection between the branch and the vine remains, the fruit comes from the vine.  The vine does everything and the branch much keep connected with it.  That electric lamp does not help the generator; the generator does not help the lamp.  The generator gives all the power.  The lamp must only be connected.

You do not help the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit does not help you.  The Holy Spirit does everything–the only condition is that you must keep in contact…(hence we are not good if we are detached from this abiding relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit).

This is what I have been processing the most this last week, this Holy Spirit connection.  As I’ve been reading JD Greear’s book, Jesus Continued…Greear repeats what Corrie Ten Boom said decades ago.  Greear has written about not just going out and doing things for God out of guilt, striving to please God, some kind of performance issue, or whatever thing that would drive us to go out and try to do something for God–but to actually wait for the Holy Spirit like they did at Pentecost and let Him tell us what to do.

Then instead of doing things for God, He sends us out and He does things through us.  And then we bear fruit, as John 15:5 talks about.  If we sit at Jesus’ feet first, like Mary did (Luke 10:38-41) He’ll tell us what to do and where to go.  He leads; we follow.  He commands; we obey.  He supplies; we steward.  He delivers; we worship.

It seems to me that the sitting at Jesus’ feet thing is the hardest part of the whole Christian life.  The waiting and listening and then going.  The being in the Bible, listening to the voice of the Spirit and then obeying.  That’s like the trifecta.

The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.  First off, everything else calls for our attention to keep us from getting into the Bible.  We oversleep, we hit the snooze, or we have to get to work early.  Then when we do get in the Word, our mind jumps to our to-do list, or to how someone else who needs to read this, or we run out of time so quickly.  And then the Holy Spirit puts an application on our heart.  An act of obedience, a prompting of some sort.  An apology that we need to make, a phone call that we should make to someone that will need to talk for a long time, someone who needs a visit that doesn’t have long to live and needs to hear about Jesus…

But when we walk in the Spirit and set our minds on things of the Spirit as a pattern of our lives, the result is life and peace, as Romans 8:6 promises.  It is a life filled with fruit, as John 15:5 states, and John 15:7 goes on to say, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”  Answered prayer.  Who doesn’t want answered prayer?not good if detached

Stay attached to Jesus through being in the Bible daily, listening and waiting on the voice of the Holy Spirit, and then obeying His leading.  If you do, you’ll bear much fruit.  Otherwise, we are not good if detached…

 


Be Filled With the Spirit

filled-with-the-spirit

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on things of the Spirit.  Romans 8:5

Do not be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit.  Ephesians 5:18

Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  Galatians 5:16

In our women’s Sunday school class, we are studying the book by JD Greear, Jesus Continued…Why the Spirit Inside You is Better Than Jesus Beside You (Zondervan 2014).  Greear is writing to people who, like him, come from a background where the Holy Spirit has been more of a doctrine than a person of the Trinity.  One of his quotes is:

“Many Christians might have heard of the Holy Spirit in a doctrinal sense but they have no real interaction with or dependence on Him.  Functionally they live in ways ‘unaware’ that there is a living, moving Holy Spirit.  They have all but excised the Holy Spirit from the Trinity; instead they functionally believe in the Father, Son, and the Holy Bible.”

I lead the Sunday school class, and one woman’s question was kind of challenging his doctrinal position, wondering if Greear believed that we receive the Holy Spirit at new birth from another quote: “So, are you speaking the Word of God to others?  If not, can you really claim to be filled with the Spirit of God?”

My short answer was that from everything else that JD Greear has written in his book, I believe that he is orthodox, most likely believing that we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit when we become Christians.  However, most people do not walk in the realization of the fullness of the Spirit, and that is what this book is about.

When it says in Acts 6:5 that they picked Stephen to help serve the widows, Luke noted that he was ‘full of the Holy Spirit.’  That must have meant that others weren’t as full of the Spirit.  ‘What makes someone full of the Spirit, or more filled with the Spirit than others?’ was my question to the group.

I’ve been thinking a lot more about this during the week.   Paul spent considerable time writing about walking in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16), setting our minds on things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5), not grieving the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), not quenching the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19), and praying at all times in the Spirit (Eph. 6:18).  This tells me that this tendency to set our minds on things of the flesh and live as if the Christian life depends on us is not new.

Paul battled this when he wrote the book of Galatians.  He questioned in Gal. 3:3, “Are you so foolish?  Having begun by the Spirit are you now being perfected by the flesh?”  Why don’t we talk about the work of the Holy Spirit more?  Why do we rely on the flesh instead?

It’s kind of like a friend of mine.  We were at a meeting together, in the middle of a cold winter.  We both had the same model and year of vehicles.  I pointed my key fob out of the window with my remote starter and started my vehicle to warm it up.  She said, “I wish mine could do that.”  I looked at her and said, “I’m sure you can.  Give me your fob.”  She did and she just about flipped when I started her car too.  She had a remote starter for two years and didn’t know it.

Isn’t that how it is with the Holy Spirit?  He lives within us and is ready to fight the flesh battle for us if we would just call on Him.  He is ready to speak to us, empower us, lead us and do great things through us.  Do you just need to know that you have Him waiting to be called upon?

In some ways, it’s not about whether  we have the Spirit or not, it’s about whether the Spirit has us.  Are we willing to surrender to Him, wait for His voice, draw near and go where He tells us to go?

Check out this song by Casting Crowns, “Spirit Wind,” from You Tube:

Spirit Wind

 

 


The Heart of Rebellion


Joseph Conrad wrote a book called,
The Heart of Darkness about going into the heart of Africa in the late 1800’s.  It was pretty much unexplored and treacherous to travel to the interior of Africa, hence a great darkness in many people’s eyes.

In the Bible, Jeremiah 17:9 describes the human heart as “deceitful above all things and desperately sick (wicked KJV); who can understand it?”  In Romans 3:10-18, Paul elaborates, saying that without God, no one seeks after Him.  We use our tongues to deceive, our lips have venom like asps, our mouths are full of curses and bitterness, our feet are swift to shed blood, and the way of peace we have not known.  In reading this passage at a jail Bible study, one gal said, “that pretty much describes everyone I know, myself included.”

Not a pretty picture.  It’s the heart of darkness.  But what grabbed me in reading through the New Testament, as I’m now into Acts, are the motives of the people that rejected Jesus.  They had a chance to accept Him, they heard the truth, but they flat out rejected it all for some base reasons that are common to all of us.  This is the heart of rebellion.  Let me highlight a few:

  • Mark 15:10.  Pilate perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priest had delivered Jesus up.  The chief priests were jealous of Jesus.  This jealousy theme is repeated again in Acts 5:17.
  • Mark 15:15.  So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them for them Barabbas.  Pilate wanted the people to like him.
  • John 12:42.  Nevertheless, many of the authorities believed in Jesus, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.  They were vainglorious, or in today’s slang: a glory hound or a glory hog.  
  • John 19:38.  Joseph of Arimathea asked to bury Jesus secretly because he feared the Jews.  He was a follower of Jesus, had not consented to the council’s decisions (though a prominent member) and was himself waiting for the kingdom of God.  He was afraid so he acted secretly.  At least he acted.
  • Acts 7:25.  Stephen was preaching about how the Jews’ forefathers rejected Jesus, so it was no surprise that they did too.  Moses thought that the Jews would understand that he was to be their deliverer but they did not understand so they rejected him; Acts 7:35 saying, “Who made you a ruler and a judge?”  They didn’t get it but with an edge, like ‘go away.’
  • Acts 7:39 “So they refused to obey Moses, but thrust him aside and in their hearts they turned away saying to Aaron, ‘make us gods to go before us.’”  7:42  So God turned away and gave them over to worship the ‘host of heaven,’ the stars and images that they made.”  They made fake gods instead of obeying the One and only God.  So God gave them over to their fake gods.
  • Acts 7:51 “You stiff necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit.”  Any time we are confronted with the truth and say no to it, we are resisting the Holy Spirit.
  • Romans 1:21.  “For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  When you know the truth but reject it, you become foolish.  It sends you down a dark path.
  • Romans 1:24.  “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves.”  Romans 1:25.  “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped the created things rather than the Creator.”  When you reject God and choose a lie, you live out the consequences of that lie.

The Great Turn Around

Isaiah 55:6-7  “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near; Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, that He may have compassion on him, And to our God for He will abundantly pardon.”

In the midst of our rebellion, of our turning away from God and going our own way, God still calls us back.  God  loves us, He wants a relationship with us and sent His Son Jesus to redeem us from our heart of rebellion.

Call upon God while He is near, return to the Lord and He will have compassion and  will abundantly pardon.

rebellion
*Image from Quotefancy


Kicking out the Lies

hearts

Behold, You delight in truth in the inward being, and You teach me wisdom in the secret heart.  Psalm 51:6

There are lies that we may believe about ourselves that others have spoken to us, most likely when we were quite young.  And we believed them, and they shaped who we thought we were and who we have become.  They might be false conclusions that we draw about life and about God.  They could be lies like, “You’re not acceptable,” “You can’t do anything,” “I’m not worth it and God doesn’t care,” or “I can’t count on God–He isn’t near to help.”  Or that you deserve to be “less than” for some reason, allowing yourself and others to put you down.

Our outer appearance becomes a reflection of what is in our secret heart, what we really believe about ourselves.  It may have to do with needing to earn approval, not feeling worthy, feeling fat or ugly.  Those are lies, and God desires for truth to reside in our inward being.  There are truths in the Bible about who we are and about what God thinks about us.  We need to bathe in those truths and let them penetrate our inward being.  They are truths about how God loves us unconditionally, that He made us exactly who we are for a purpose and that He has a plan for our lives.  

We need to actively kick out the lies that drive us.  In 1 Chronicles 11:4-9 David came  to take over Jerusalem.  It was to be the city of God, but the inhabitants of Jebus opposed David saying, “You will not come in here.  Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David,” verse 5 reports.  If David hadn’t of refuted their claim, “You will not come in here,” then Jerusalem would not have become the city of David and the place where God dwelt in the Temple.

The word ‘nevertheless’ is a victory word. It takes the barrier and turns it into a victory.  Nevertheless doesn’t acknowledge what other people say about us, or even what we see about ourselves.  We may be coming from a disadvantage.  Nevertheless, God has plans for us and He is at our side.  We can take hold of the things that are in front of us with the faith and confidence that He has given us.  

Identify and list out those lies that run contrary to what God has promised about you in the Bible, and put a ‘nevertheless’ behind that lie.   Jesus paid too high of a price to let you live a ‘less than’ life because of lies that continue to reside in your secret heart, the one that God sees and wants to heal.  

God sees your secret heart and He will bring about truth through His refining and discipling process.  Ask God to give you a picture of how He sees you to give you wisdom in your secret heart.  And then ask Him to transform your outside self to become the you He made you to be.

 


Come to Jesus, all you who are weary and are heavy laden

Jesus- the invitation

 

This was my jail study this last week, with seven women.  This is Jesus.  Really, to know Him is to love Him.  Some have heard this in different shapes and forms, but need to hear it again and again until it sinks in.  Others haven’t heard it before.  One gal was getting sentenced this last week to a possible 20 years (she got 25).  Jesus changed her in front of our eyes over these last three years of her being in and out, especially in the last six months.  God still works miracles, the biggest being in changing lives!

 John 3:16.  For God so loved the world that He sent His only son, Jesus, that whoever would believe Him will not perish but have everlasting life.  God loves us and Jesus gave His life for us so that we won’t have to spend eternity in Hell because of our sin.

John 11:5 and Luke 19:5.  Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus…Jesus looked up at the tree and said, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down for I must stay at your house today.’  Jesus knows us by name, and He loves us.  He doesn’t just love the world generically, but specifically.  He knows us by name, even the number of hairs on our head.  Psalm 139:4 says that before a word is on our tongues He knows it completely.

John 8:1-8.  That’s the account of the woman caught in adultery.  When Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees, “Let him who is without sin be the one to throw the first stone,” and they left oldest to youngest, she looked up and saw just Jesus.  He asked, “Where are the ones who condemn you?  Who’s left?”  “No one,” was her response.  “Neither do I condemn you.  Go and sin no more.”  Jesus doesn’t condemn them when they come to Him; He wants them to be set free from their bondages.

  •  One gal was caught up in an interesting thought about how Jesus was a part of       making the law, but yet let her break the law.  Jesus really was the fulfillment of the law.   He was the law.  He was loving, kind, merciful and just, which was what the law was really aimed at.  The Pharisees kept the law, but weren’t any of those things.  So they really didn’t keep the law.  Maybe that’s why Jesus kept healing on the Sabbath, to poke holes in their broken system.  In Romans 8:3-4 it says that God sent Jesus to do what the law couldn’t do in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.  Bottom line: Meet Jesus, look into His loving eyes and turn from your sin.

John 4.  The woman at the well.  Here’s the outcast of the outcasts at the well at noon.  And Jesus talks with her, asking for water and telling her about living water so she wouldn’t have to thirst anymore.  “I want that water!”  “Okay, go get your husband.”  “I don’t have one.”  “I know.  You’ve had five, and the guy you’re with now isn’t one of them.”  Jesus knows our backstory and He still likes us.  He knows what it is that we’re trying to fill the hole in our heart with.  Everyone has a hole in their heart that God put there so we would long for Him.  It has to filled with Him, otherwise it’s still a hole that needs to be filled.  Some people try to fill it with guys, others with drugs, others with shopping, others with food…

  • The other interesting discussion...What are you trying to fill your hole with?  Why don’t you fill it with Jesus?  We all have holes.  Andy Warhol is the guy that said “Everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame.”  That’s why people will go on ‘American Idol’ even when they’re really bad, or do whatever do get noticed.  There’s a verse in Ecclesiastes 3:11 that says ‘that God has set eternity in our hearts.’  The Oscar Meyer Wiener song illustrates it: “Cause if I were an Oscar Meyer Wiener, everyone would be in love with me…”  Why would it matter for everyone would be in love with them?  Because God put that hole there for it to be filled by Him.

Final verses: Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”

 


Better than Dove Chocolate and a whole bunch of money

chocolateThe commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.  The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.  More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.  Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them  there is great reward.  Psalm 19:8b-11

David is revelling in God’s Word.  Are you starting to get the idea that the Bible is a big deal?

The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.  Commands and precepts are similar.  They aren’t God’s suggestions, they are “must do’s.”  We can’t take them or leave them or explain them away.  The commands of God are pure, or radiant, and they give us light.  David wrote in Psalm 119:105 that God’s word is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path.  In other words, as we stake our lives on the Bible and obey what is written in it, we will receive guidance from God.  He will direct our steps.

Take the opposite side for a minute.  If you don’t have any regard for God’s commands, your eyes will be dark.  Have you had ‘dark eyes’?  Do you someone else like that?  They are troubled and evil minded.  And, your path will be muddy and jumbled.  You won’t get to where you try to get to.  Something will always get in the way.  That’s because you’re not doing things God’s way.  Things won’t work out then.

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.  In Proverbs 1:7 we find that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (or wisdom).”  If we fear God that means that we take His Word seriously and have an intent to obey, knowing that God always gets His way.  God’s word is clean, pure, and perfect.  And God’s Word endures forever.

There aren’t many things that endure forever.  Our stuff doesn’t.  Our hobbies don’t.  Our souls do, what God says (His Word, or the Bible) does, and things we do that have eternal value last forever.  Matthew 6:19 tells us to store up treasures in Heaven.  One way to do that is spend time on spiritual things, like prayer and Bible study.

The rules of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.  Other words for rules are judgments, laws or ordinances.  God’s judgments are just and righteous.  Psalm 119:160 summarizes this well by saying, “The sum of Your Word is truth, and every one of Your righteous rules endures forever.”  If you pick a fight with God, you’re bound to lose.  So surrender to the rightness of His ways and you will find peace.

More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.  God’s words are more precious than a big bank account.  And they are sweeter than Dove chocolate.  Can you say this?

By them is Your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.  God’s commands give us warnings for those who violate them and rewards  for those who keep them.  The rewards are usually not monetary, though it can involve having a blessed life.  That blessed life extends from this life into a guaranteed eternal life in Heaven.

May you have the enabling power of the Holy Spirit to obey God’s commands and to experience God’s rewards.

 


The Bible Stands

Bible thumper

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.  Psalm 19: 7-8

David is declaring his praise for God’s law, and more generally, all of God’s written word.  We know it as the Bible.  How we view and esteem the Bible is foundational to our faith.  If our beliefs about the Bible are faulty, our faith will be faulty as well.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.   There are no mistakes or contradictions in the Bible, contrary to the claims of doubters.  The Bible is also sufficient to meet all of our needs.  Some may say that this is a book written by men, but that is not true.  God told 40 men what to write through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  They wrote using their personality and writing style, but rest assured, the Bible is God’s words.  

And they are accurate and authoritative and they convert or revive our soul.  In other words, as we digest God’s words, they change us from the inside out. And they give us spiritual life and health.

The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.   That means that what God says about Himself, where we started and why we are here is true.  It is also trustworthy, rock solid and prove-able.  What God says, He will do.  He will always keep His promises and we can rest on that truth.  This makes us simple, or humble, people wise.  If you want wisdom and humility, make the Bible your best friend.  

The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart or giving joy to our hearts.  Precepts are things that we are responsible for carrying out.  They are God’s decrees and commands.  God’s commandments are given to us for our provision and our protection, just like a parent’s rules for a teenager.  Like a teenager may balk at his rules at times, but later sees it was for his benefit, so it is with God’s parameters for us.  When we follow them, we find joy and freedom.

No other book or way of life will change our lives, make us wise and give us joy.  The Bible is the prescription for whatever ails our hearts.  Or, as David reflects in Psalm 119:93, “I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have given me life.”

Are you in the Word?  Has it changed your life?  Or do you just own several copies of it with fancy covers and pens for them?  Just like your credit card: “Don’t leave home without it.”

 


God, my shield and the lifter of my head

shieldBut You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.  I cried aloud to the Lord, and He answered me from His holy hill.  Psalm 3:3-4

Have you ever been so depressed or overcome that you can’t even lift your head?   Or have you felt so attacked by troubles, people and problems that you need a shield to protect you so you can stand?  Then this is good news for you to grab a hold of and to live by!

God is our shield.  In Genesis 15:1 God appeared to Abraham and told him, “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”  So fear not–don’t be afraid or anxious.  In Psalm 5:12 David declared, “For You bless the righteous, O Lord; You cover him with favor as with a shield.”   Just like Joseph, David and Daniel had God’s hand of favor on them, we can be covered with God’s favor shield as we walk obediently with Him.  There are many verses that tell of the shielding benefit of God to rest on.

God is our glory.  If you are absorbed in weight lifting and stare at your muscles in the mirror while you’re working out, you might say that your glory is in your strength.  You take pride in how much you can lift, or in how trim or muscular that you are.  Jeremiah 9:23-24 commands, “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts, boast in this, that he understand and knows Me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.”  We do not glory in our smarts, our strength or our money.  We glory in the love, justice and righteousness of God.  In God we trust.

God is the lifter of our heads.  There are those days when you can’t lift your head out of shame, depression, tiredness, or even an injury of some sort.  On those days, call out to the lifter of your head to do for you what you simply cannot do.  He will hear and He will act through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Philippians 4:13 tells us, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”  Ask for His strength and His grace when you need it.

I cried aloud to the Lord, and He answered me.  That’s what He does.  Jeremiah 33:3 promises, “Call to Me and I will answer you, and tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”  Don’t wait until you’re in trouble to pray to God, pray early and pray often!

 


God’s prospering hand on you

tree plantedHe is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that he does, he prospers.  The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.  Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the ways of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.  Psalm 1:3-6

There is a contrast between the one who daily seeks the Lord, meditating on His word.  It is the difference between a sturdy and strong tree vs. chaff that is blown away by the wind.  The strong and mighty tree yields fruit.  It doesn’t just eek by.   These verses tell us that whatever we undertake, we will prosper.  That’s another way of saying that we’re blessed.  

The wicked might prosper short term.  They might have a lot of money, nice houses and things look like they’re on the top of the world.  But this is not a prosperity that will continue beyond this life.  In eternity they will be condemned and they will perish.  It is easy to envy those people who seem to have it all, thinking that somehow we went wrong.  Oh no.  Filter it through the eyes of God, with His eternal lenses, and we see their end.  It’s not good.

Joseph, David and Daniel are guys who God had His hand on to prosper them.  In Genesis 39:2-4 tells us, “The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.  When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and because his attendant.”  NIV  

When you flee wickedness and make faithful people your friends, get to know the Bible as your best friend, and then put its principles into practice, you will prosper.  No, you might not get rich or suddenly become a star of some sort.  But you will have God’s hand on you and your paths will be straight.  You will make decisions that turn out to be the right ones, avoid trouble, and doors will open up as people see that you are a good worker.  They might not even want to hire or advance you, but God makes it happen.

And in the end, you will have eternal life in Heaven.  That’s where our rewards come, our true blessings, our time to be with Jesus face to face forever.  But the end of the wicked is not good.  They will spend eternity in hell.