Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Illusion of Control

Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours.  Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.  1 Chronicles 29:11

We fool ourselves.  We think we are the ones in control.  What we are experiencing is the illusion of control.  We think we are in control of our destinies, but we are not.  Why do we have the need to be in such control?  Could it be a distrust of the One who is really in control of everything – Almighty God? 

Our very life and breath is in the hands of Almighty God.  Whether we acknowledge this or not, God gives us our very breath.  We take our next breath because God deems it so.  Job 12:10 – In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. 

We often behave as if we know what God is thinking and planning, and then seem surprised when God does a mighty work in a different way than we expected.  We need to acknowledge that God’s wisdom is far greater than any amount of knowledge we possess.  The only reason we possess the knowledge and wisdom we do is because of our Sovereign LORD.  We act in very foolish ways when we attempt to fit God into our mold – to make His plans and purposes conform to ours.  We can try to manipulate all manner of situations and circumstances, but God’s Word reveals that God’s plans and purposes will stand.  Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails – Proverbs 19:21.  The LORD Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.” – Isaiah 14:24.   We can think we are in control if we want to, but it is just an illusion of control. 

Today can be the day that you release your illusion of control.  Acknowledge your Savior and LORD as sovereign.  The love He has for us is incomprehensible.  We can trust Him.  Allow Him to take the reins of your life and then follow where He leads.  Even though we may not understand, His ways are better than our ways.  Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight – Proverbs 3:5-6.  Let’s stop being wise in our own eyes.  Look to God.  Almighty God is the beginning and the end.  God is the Eternal LORD and Ruler of the past, present, and the future.  Without Him we are nothing and we have nothing.  Honor your Savior and LORD who is the beginning and the end of all existence, wisdom, and power.  God tells us in Revelation 1:8 – “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

I encourage you to cry out to God and ask for help in releasing your illusion of control.  It will be a process.  The more we begin to truly trust our Savior and LORD, the easier it will be to release our life’s situations and circumstances into His sovereign hands.  God is creator and sustainer of everything.  You can trust Him.  “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” – Revelation 4:11.

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that You will help us release our illusion of control.  LORD, help us to place our trust in You.  You alone are worthy of all honor, glory, and praise.  In Jesus Precious Name I Pray…..Amen.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Hindrances During the Race

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 

2 Timothy 4:6-7

As the apostle Paul neared the end of his life, he could confidently say he had been faithful to his call.  We are in a race called life.  Are we able to say, we have been faithful to the call our LORD has placed before us?  As we continue in the race set before us, we will be faced with hindrances.  At times, we will be faced with a God-imposed hindrance.  God may be slowing us down to place a ministry opportunity in our path.  Sometimes because of a hindrance, we are in the right place at the right time to minister to another in the name of Jesus Christ.  Then there are times when hindrances enter our race which are caused by other people, Satan, and even ourselves.  How will we continue? 

In Luke 11:52, we notice the experts in the law were making God’s truth hard to understand.  Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge.  You yourselves have not entered and you have hindered those who were entering.  Legalistic people like the experts in the law, heap burdens on others that they themselves can’t keep.  We must be careful to not become legalistic and hinder others from the free gift of salvation. 

In Thessalonians 2:18, we see Paul declaring to the people that he wanted to come see them but Satan blocked his way.  1 Thessalonians 2:18 – For we wanted to come to you – certainly I, Paul did, again and again – but Satan blocked our way.  Satan is on the prowl and desires to keep apart brothers and sisters in Christ who together would serve great kingdom purposes.  Satan is pleased when he is able to divide the body of Christ.  We must stand guard over our hearts and not let Satan deceive us and keep us from great kingdom purposes. 

Other hindrances you may have in your race could be because you choose not to lay them down.  Guilt can be a hindrance to you.  After we have repented of our sin and accepted the precious gift of forgiveness from our LORD, we must lay our guilt aside.  Satan likes to hang the hindrance of guilt around our necks to keep us from fulfilling God’s purposes for us.  Holding on to the past can be a hindrance.  We must release the past and run toward our future that God has specifically preordained for us.  Philippians 3:13-14 – Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  We need to accept our forgiveness from our LORD and move on to a life of faith and obedience.  Our focus should be on Christ.  Bitterness can also hinder us as we carry out our God given purpose.  Bitterness is a root which will entangle us on our race if we choose not to lay it aside.  It eats away at our insides and is exhibited in our behavior towards others.  It will keep us from fulfilling our God given calling if not dealt with.  Hebrews 12:15 – See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 

We need to recognize that a hindrance is not always sinful.  If it is interfering with the path God has placed you on, it is a hindrance and must be cast aside.  These types of hindrances are the hardest to release.  They may not be wrong, but at the moment they are just not right.  They are hindering the race God has placed before you. 

Prayerfully ask God to reveal what in your life is a hindrance.  Then ask for God’s strength to help you cast it aside.  Blessings abound when we are obedient and faithful to our Savior and LORD.  Hebrews 12:1 – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 

Dear Heavenly Father, reveal to us the things, thoughts, and attitudes which are a hindrance to our faith walk.  LORD, when You reveal to us what is hindering our God given race, provide us with strength to cast it aside.  In Jesus Name I Pray…..Amen. 


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Emboldened By God

On the contrary, after we had previously suffered, and we were treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, we were emboldened by our God to speak the gospel of God to you in spite of great opposition.  1 Thessalonians 2:2

When we study Scripture, we see many mighty men of God who shared the Gospel Message with boldness.  Would you consider yourself to be a child of God who boldly shares the Gospel Message with those God has placed in your path?  Prayerfully ask God to place a spirit of boldness in your heart so that you can carry the Gospel Message to this lost and dying world. 

In Acts 16:16-40, Paul and Silas are in Philippi.  Here, Paul and Silas were severely flogged and thrown in prison.  When the doors of the prison were shaken opened and the chains came loose, Paul and Silas continued to share the Gospel Message with the people.  These men had boldness that could have only come from Jesus Christ.  When faced with difficulties, we too can have boldness that will enable us to continue to share God’s Message of Salvation. 

Paul and Silas knew that the Gospel Message has the incomparable power to change lives, destinies, and destinations.  These men didn’t just think it:  they knew it deep in their souls.  Paul and Silas were carrying forth the Gospel Message.  They were living it and willing to die for it.  Nothing was more important to them than sharing Jesus with others.  Is sharing Jesus with others important to you?

We too will face difficulties when we choose to share Jesus with others.  We may not face a physical flogging or get thrown in a prison cell, but we may face a verbal flogging.  We may be criticized or ostracized.  Will you be willing to get back out there?  Many choose not to.  Don’t let Satan win the battle.  He had rather us be wound-lickers instead of warriors.   Almighty God will give us the strength we need.  Philippians 4:13 – I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  The power we receive from Jesus Christ is sufficient to do His will and to face the difficulties that will arise as we share the Gospel Message with a lost and dying world. 

We also see boldness exhibited by Peter and John in Acts 4:1-21.  Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin. Through the power provided them by the indwelling Holy Spirit, they were able to boldly proclaim the Gospel Message, the Salvation Plan.  Acts 4:13 tells us – When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.  Spending intimate time with our Savior and LORD will provide us with the boldness we need to share with others.  Never neglect your personal time with Jesus.  Attending church, corporate Bible Study, sermons on the radio and the TV will not take the place of our personal time in prayer and the reading and studying of God’s Word. 

Prayerfully ask God to give you the words to share with others.  Ask Him for boldness to share His Salvation Plan.  Ephesians 6:19-20 – Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains.  Pray that I may declare it fearlessly as I should. 

Dear Heavenly Father, place in our hearts a concern for this lost and dying world.  I pray You will fill us with boldness to share Your Salvation Plan with others.  In Jesus Name I Pray…..Amen

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Relational Changes Through the Seasons of Life

“The next person you meet could become one of the dearest friends in your life.”  Beth Moore

As we journey here upon this earth, we will go through relational changes.  Sometimes these relational changes are due to a job change or a physical move.  Other times, a relational change may be due to a conflict.  We have all experienced relational changes.  The question is - how do you handle the changes and what will you choose to do next?

We all have friends we grew up with.  We may not see them often, but when we do see them we seem to pick up the conversation where we last left off.  These friends are like family.  You are separated physically but you carry them in your heart.  Prayerfully thank the LORD for these friends.  These friends are there when you experience heartache and lose.  They are also there to offer you encouragement.  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 – Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor; If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.  Friendship is a precious gift from our Heavenly Father. 

Throughout Scripture, we see several examples of beautiful friendships.  The friendship of Ruth and Naomi is one of mutual love and commitment.  Scripture reveals the loyalty Ruth demonstrated towards Naomi.  Naomi had experienced the death of her husband and two sons.  She told her daughter-in-laws to go back to their families.  But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you.  Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.  Your people will be my people and your God my God.  Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried.  May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me”- Ruth 1:16-17.  True friendships includes love, commitment, and respect. 

If you have never had the opportunity to be in transition, whether it be through a physical move or a job change, you may find yourself with the same group of friends that you have had for a very long time.  You have not been faced with having to intentionally befriend others.  This does not mean we should not look outward from our friend set to befriend others.  We live in a world where people are looking to connect, looking for friendships.  Prayerfully ask God to help you be aware of those He places in your path that quite possibly may become a very dear friend. 

In the Book of Acts, we see a relational change which took place due to a conflict.  Paul was about to begin his second missionary journey.  Barnabas, a dear friend of Paul’s, had traveled with him on his first missionary journey.  These two friends had a disagreement over taking Mark on the journey.  Barnabas wanted Mark to go with them, but Paul didn’t because Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia.  Acts 15:37-40.  Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work.  They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company.  Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord.  He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.  This disagreement caused these two great preachers to form two teams, who continued to carry the Gospel Message to the world.  These Scriptures reveal that God works even through conflicts and disagreements.  Later, Scripture reveals to us that Mark became vital to Paul’s ministry.  Paul and Barnabas probably could have handled this situation in a better way, but God worked through this situation, and the Gospel Message continued to be spread throughout the region.  These men did not allow bitterness to take root.  They continued on their journey, taking the responsibility to share Jesus with others. 

Scripture also reveals to us the dear friendship between Paul and Timothy.  Paul expressed in his letter to the Corinthians his love and respect for his friend Timothy.  1 Corinthians 4:17 – For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord.  He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in ever church.  Godly friendships contain love and respect. 

I encourage you today to be on the lookout for who God has placed in your path.  They may become a dear friend.  Also don’t allow the bitterness of disagreements to take root in your heart.  Bitterness will hinder the spread of the Gospel Message. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the dear friends you have placed in my life.  I pray Father for the friends that I don’t see often and for those I might not see again until we reach our eternal home.  Help us to show kindness and respect to the friends You have placed in our life.  In Jesus Name I Pray…..Amen.