Being a Giver
Every person who’s a giver is glad when other people are giving. Every person who, at this point, is a “taker” is evaluating, “Will becoming a giver actually change my life for the good?” “Are the promises of God really true?” “Will He really open the windows of Heaven for me?” “Have the righteous never ever been forsaken?” All these questions can be answered with one scripture. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16, NKJV) Because God so loved…He gave. Not just anything, but His only Son. God’s a giver! That’s why He gives His best, and that’s why those who know Him do the same.
Responding To Loss
Every one of us experiences difficulties and disappointments; even at times, devastating losses. But how we respond to them will determine whether we’ll lead victorious or defeated lives. David, one of the great men in the Bible, suffered numerous setbacks. But perhaps the most crushing was when the wives and children and property of all of his men were stolen at Ziklag. Even after his men threatened to kill him because of it, David refused to give into despair. Instead, the Bible says, he found strength in the LORD his God. (1 Samuel 30:6) Because he trusted God, everything that had been lost was restored, and even more amazingly, a few weeks later, after waiting 17 years, David was made King of Israel. Proving once again that responding well to loss activates the grace and power of God.
Why Ostriches Bury Their Heads
Why do ostriches bury their head in the sand? Is it because they are trying to hide and run away from a fight? Hardly! It’s actually because they’re turning their eggs. They are taking care of their family. They are nurturing the next generation. In the most distracted age of all time, we should never feel we are wasting our time being present and caring for our children and grandchildren. The Bible says, God “…gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them–even the children not yet born–and they in turn will teach their own children.” (Psalm 78:5-6, NLT) One of the best ways we can rescue our children from harm is to be present and vigilant in their lives.
The other day I was feeling really insecure about my life, and so I began to pray. God then reminded me that when I doubt and minimize my value, I am minimizing Him simultaneously. I may not be everything, but I am certainly something, and unless I identify what that something is, and affirm it, my insecurities will merely demonstrate my lack of trust in the beautiful life God has promised me. God is working in me and through me. I believe it! First, because He believes it, and secondly because I have seen His faithfulness over many decades. The Bible says, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.” (Nahum 1:7, NKJV) God, I reject my insecurities and trust you with my life!
Salvation and Sanctification
God has saved us from two things: our sin and ourselves. Salvation saves us from our sin, but sanctification saves us from ourselves. Our trusting in the blood of Jesus frees us from the power of sin and death, but our pursuit of walking in daily dependency upon Him further transforms us into His image and likeness. The Bible says, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11, ESV) Being “sanctified” means we have been set apart and declared holy because of Christ’s death and resurrection. And being “justified” means God has made us right in His sight. Both mean we have been blessed beyond our wildest dreams.
When You Are Attacked
The other day the enemy attacked me in a vulnerable part of my life. I had accepted a new person on Facebook. Before doing this I always examine their Facebook page to see if they’re safe and then accept the invitation. One woman seemed safe and so I accepted her friend request but when I clicked on an email she sent me alerting me to a new Facebook post, I was bombarded with full-on pornography. I clicked off immediately, but realized once again: if my enemy can’t get me to give up, he’ll try and get me to give in. The Bible says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) And advises us to, “Resist the devil and he will flee.” (James 4:7) Wise words for each of us who want to finish well.
Promises or Problems
Are you feeling overwhelmed by your problems? At times, all of us do. But it’s at these vulnerable moments we need to remember God’s promises and not obsess over our problems. Often times, God won’t even address our problems, because He wants to remind us about His promises. The truth is, in order for breakthroughs to happen in life, we have to consciously choose to get our eyes off our problems and focus on God’s promises. And the only way we can know what they are is if we spend time each day in God’s Word. The Bible says, “…the word of God is living and powerful…” (Hebrews 4:12a, NKJV) and in it “… he has granted to us his precious and very great promises…so that through them we may become partakers of the divine nature.” (2 Peter 1:4a, ESV)
An army friend who did four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan said: “I’ve seen temperatures over 130 degrees Fahrenheit.” Then he added something quite profound. “The wind always comes from the sunny-side, so you have to create shade in order to be protected.” Hmm? “…create shade!” That made me think: the wind of God’s Spirit is always in the challenges of life, when difficulties heat up. I’ve found the best way to block out the scorching heat of the day is to find shade in the Word and presence of God. King David wrote, “I trust in the Lord for protection.” (Psalm 11:1, NLT) Today, find some shade in the presence of God, under the shade of His Word, “… taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” (Ephesians 6:16, NKJV)
A friend of mine was sharing how plants that grow near contaminated or stagnant water have a higher risk of containing toxic contaminants as well as invisible bacteria or parasites. In other words, don’t eat food near water that is contaminated or stagnant. That made me think. What are the sources of my spiritual food? Do I let contaminated entertainment fill my mind? Is my spiritual life stagnant or vibrant? Am I flowing with the Spirit of God or standing still waiting for something to happen? Jesus promised, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38, NKJV) Jesus, You are the Bread of Life. Help me to feast on Your Word every day, that I may live a safe and abundant life.
Losing Hope For Our Future
Our setbacks won’t define us, but how we respond to them will. Tests always bring out what and who we’re trusting in. If you’re discouraged right now, it means you’re being overwhelmed by your circumstances. It means, in some way, you’re not trusting God. God has never lost hope for our future. And only He knows the tests we will need to face in order to live fulfilled lives. Don’t be surprised if the season you are closest to walking in your destiny is simultaneously the lowest point in your life. We have to get creamed before we can get crowned. The Bible says, “…since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering…” (2 Timothy 2:12) We’ll lose hope for our future, when we lose hope in God.
Hearing What You’ve Never Heard
We all tend to place the new that God is doing in us in old, familiar contexts. But that only produces false comfort. We put new wine in old wineskins. In Matthew 17, on the Mount of Transfiguration, the disciples wanted to build a tabernacle or temple…an old, familiar wineskin. But, the temple of God was now in man. They didn’t need an external house for God, they needed an internal relationship. So, the Father had to speak from Heaven and basically say, “Hey, this is my Son, be quiet and listen to Him.” The Creator of the Universe isn’t interested in repeating or duplicating anything. Whenever we think we know what God’s about to say, we should be quiet and listen because we’re about to hear something we’ve never heard before.
Acceptance Before God
Are you trying to live a godly life? That’s wonderful! But it won’t help you earn God’s favor? The Bible says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NKJV) We don’t merit God’s favor by living a godly life. We already have His complete love and acceptance when we receive the gift He purchased for us, a gift that cost Jesus His life when He died on a cross in our place, something that lasts forever: it’s called eternal life. John 17:3 says, “…this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Sure, I want to live a godly life, and I pursue this every day, but my acceptance before God comes through Christ alone.