Do we really believe that God “…is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think…?” That’s His promise to us in the Book of Ephesians, chapter 3. When Jesus fed 5,000 men, plus women and children, He did it with five loaves and two fish. That’s it! To say the least, it was an extraordinary miracle. But what was perhaps even more telling, was the fact that after they had all eaten, they gathered up twelve additional baskets of food. Amazing! God took five loaves and two fish, fed thousands, and had more leftovers than when He started. God will always provide abundantly when needed. What a great principle! The next time you question God providing for your needs, remember, His leftovers are infinitely greater than our entrees.
Big Opportunities…Great Seductions
Many times, when man sees a BIG opportunity, God sees a great seduction. The Bible says, “…when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.” (John 6:15, NKJV) Jesus refused to further His kingdom with personal ambition. Instead, He departed to be alone. When you’re being tempted, go to God, not to the false comforts of this world or the approval of man. Jesus was more interested in obeying His Father in Heaven than being adored by others. I’ve known many people, in my decades of living for Jesus, who followed Jesus as long as He gave them what they wanted. Don’t be seduced by BIG opportunities, let God’s will alone guide your life.
Trusting Jesus in the Storm
Did you ever think that God was not going to come to your rescue? At times, it’s true, He won’t! The Bible says in the Gospel of John, that when His disciples were in a great storm on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus did not come to them. (John 6:16-18, NKJV) Remember, several of the disciples were fishermen; they were accustomed to fishing in this very lake. It hadn’t bothered them at all that they would be rowing across the lake at night, because in a previous storm (Matthew 8:24), Jesus was present with them in the boat. But in this storm, He asked them to trust his unseen care and concern for them. That’s the question we should ask ourselves today, having seen Jesus watch over us in one situation, will we trust Him even when we don’t see Him in the next. (Mark 6:48)
How to Know If You Believe the Bible
How do you know if you really believe the Word of God? Let’s start by saying what the Bible says we should experience when we read it. 2 Timothy 3 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience] …” (2 Timothy 3:16a, AMP) Hmm? Interesting! When you read the Bible, do you feel convicted of sin, corrected of error and restored to obedience? Let me submit, that if none of those things are taking place when you read the Bible, then you probably don’t believe what you are reading. So, the next time you read the Word of God, remember, God designed it to convict you of sin, correct you from error, and restore you to obedience.
What is God Thinking?
Though most people believe God is watching over them, the real question is, what is God thinking when He does? As we struggle. As we cry out. What is God thinking about me while I’m floundering?” Is He compassionate…concerned… supportive, and cheering me on, or is He indifferent…calloused, and critical? Here are a few Bible verses that show us exactly what God thinks. “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:17-18, ESV) “The LORD is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.” (Psalm 145:8, NLT) and lastly, “God is faithful…he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape…” (1 Corinthians 10:13, ESV)
If we could talk God into it, we’d try and convince Him to make our lives easier. People said to Jesus, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness!” (John 6:30-31, NLT). They were trying to manipulate Jesus into providing daily bread for them, just as God provided manna for Israel. We all want the express train to easy street! Jesus answered, “…Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (John 6:32-33, NLT) Jesus was trying to lift their minds above earthly things to heavenly realities. Exactly what God’s trying to teach us every day!
Creation vs. the Creator
It has always been easier to know about God than to know Him personally. That’s why the Bible says, “God made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.” (Psalm 103:7, NKJV) But it’s likewise much less fulfilling. People think they experience God in His creation. No doubt, a beautiful sunset or full moon can be breathtaking, but they are merely experiencing His creation, not the Creator Himself. How much greater is the One who made the Universe than anything in it. The Creator of love, beauty, joy and peace is infinitely more magnificent than any of these marvelous dimensions. Only by opening our hearts to the Creator of life can we enjoy His original intention for us: to be sons and daughters of the living God.
Offended with God?
Perhaps the greatest challenge we will face in life is “being offended with God.” The list of the notable offended is long: Lucifer, Adam and Eve, Cain, Judas; on and on it goes. One day, the disciples were whining about the words Jesus was saying they thought were too hard to accept. When Jesus knew they were offended, He said, ‘Does this offend you?’ (John 6:60-61, NKJV) Though Christ’s disciples found His words mysterious and hard to comprehend, it was the parts they did understand that most disturbed them. Jesus calls us to a high standard that is not easily accepted, but it’s ultimately worth the struggle. Don’t be easily offended; take time to work through God’s words with Him. His wisdom is limitless and always available!
One day, Jesus turned to the twelve disciples and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” It was quite a scene! Many would-be disciples were leaving Jesus, and so He asks the twelve if they would go also. He was searching the motive of all who followed Him. Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:67-69, NKJV) Until we come to the place where we can say to Jesus, “Where else would I go?” our relationship and future with Him is not secure. Have you come to the place that there’s nowhere else to go but Jesus? If we refuse whom Heaven has sent, then we must accept the fact that no one else is coming.
The Riddle of Spirit and Truth
One of the greatest challenges facing this generation is solving the riddle of spirit and truth. Jesus told us clearly it would be, when He said, “But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23, NLT) How critical is it for each of us to live this way? Jesus then said, “The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.” It is a riddle that each of us is asked to solve. It would be impossible to say that Jesus was more of a spirit man then a truth man…or vice versa. And that’s what He’s called us to be as well! Equally, “spirit” men and women, and “truth” men and women! Follow the leading of God’s Spirit, as you hold fast to His Word.
How we see other people is an accurate indicator of our relationship with God. Jesus saw the multitudes as sheep without a shepherd and was moved with compassion. How do we see them? With judgment…prejudice…anger and fear, or with love… understanding and compassion! Before you answer, think about the person you disagree with the most. Not someone you may know personally. How do you relate to that person? 1 Corinthians 13 says, “love is patient and kind.” Jesus ate at “Simon the leper’s” house. He had compassion. Jesus ate at “Matthew the Tax Collector’s” house. He had understanding. Jesus let a prostitute wash his feet. He cared about her. The Prodigal Son’s father saw his son returning a great way off, and moved with compassion, ran to meet him.
Redefining Truth and Love
Jesus said to the crowd who brought the woman caught in adultery, when they wanted to stone her to death, “he who is without sin, let him cast the first stone!” (John 8:7) I don’t want to be a stone thrower. I want to be a stone dropper! We know what we love most by what we defend! Robert J. Ringer says, “People say they love truth, but in reality they want to believe that which they love is true.” Unless we’re speaking the truth in love, we’re not speaking the truth. The world is constantly trying to redefine “truth.” But, only God can define truth, because He is truth. The world is continually re-defining “love”. Only God can define love, because He is love. We must never forget that each of us are caretakers of God’s love, and keepers of His truth!