Sunday, November 30, 2014

Content in an Ungodly World

Do you ever wonder what type of influence you have on the people around you?  Would you consider yourself to be someone who has a godly influence on your family, friends, and co-workers?  When we study the life of Lot, we see a man who did not have a godly influence on those around him.  2 Peter 2:7 reveals that Lot was a righteous man, but when we study his life we see that his testimony in the city of Sodom meant nothing to the people.  Prayerfully ask God to reveal to you if you have a godly testimony to those in your realm of influence. 

In Genesis 13:10-11, we notice Lot making a decision that had detrimental effects toward his family.  He decided to move his family near Sodom, a city that was known for its wickedness - its sin.  Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt.  (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.)  So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east.  The two men parted company.  Life presents us with a series of choices.  Our choices affect many and can reach into the future.  Prayerfully seek God’s direction when making choices.  Even though the choices look promising in the moment, the future consequence can be devastating. 

Lot had an opportunity to be a godly voice in this wicked city.  In Genesis 19:1, we see Lot sitting in the gateway of the city.  The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city – Genesis 19:1.  The ones who sat in the gateway of the cities were judges.  Lot not only chose to move to Sodom, but once there he got into politics.  He had an opportunity to be a godly influence but Scripture reveals when the time of destruction and judgment had come upon Sodom, those near and dear to him did not take him seriously.  Genesis 19:14 – So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters.  He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!”  But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.  Lot lived so long among the wicked and sinful in Sodom and was so content among the ungodly people; he was no longer a believable witness for God.  Lot had allowed his environment to shape him instead of shaping his environment.  Are you shaping and influencing your environment in a godly way or is your environment shaping you? 

Lot blended in and became one of the crowd and when he finally made a stand, nobody listened.  For us to make a difference and a godly influence in our sphere of influence, we have to choose to be different in our faith and our conduct.  We will never be able to conform to the world’s standards and make a godly influence.  Romans 12:2 – 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.  Lot chose to conform to his environment.  Let’s prayerfully seek our LORD and ask Him to empower us and guide us to be a godly, spiritual influence in our environment. 

We live in a world filled with sin.  We must guard ourselves that we do not become accepting of the sin that is in our world.  Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it – Proverbs 4:23. 

Dear Heavenly Father, help us to be a godly influence in our sphere of influence.  Help us to recognize sin and understand we cannot flirt with sin.  Father, we recognize that You have called us to be a godly light in this lost and dying world.  Provide us with the power and strength to stand strong.  In Jesus Name I Pray…..Amen.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

God's Deliverance

From the LORD comes deliverance.  May your blessing be on your people.  Psalm 3:8

When you and I study Scripture, we see many examples of Almighty God’s deliverance.  Are you in a season of life where you may be crying out to God for deliverance?  Scripture reveals to us that sometimes God delivers us from, sometimes God delivers us through, and then sometimes God delivers us later.  Whether God chooses to deliver us from, delivers us through, or delivers us later, we can be assured that He is present with us.  Psalm 139:7-10 – Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  We can be assured that no matter what we are facing, our God is with us desiring to provide the comfort that only He can give. 

In the Book of Genesis, we read the account of when God destroyed the earth.  God looked at His creation and saw that the earth was corrupt and full of violence.  So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them.  I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth” – Genesis 6:13.  God delivered Noah and his family from this destruction.  He instructed Noah to build an ark that would protect his family when the flood waters came upon the earth.  Almighty God is sovereign and for His honor, glory, and purpose, chose to deliver Noah and his family from the flood. 

In Daniel 3, we see God’s deliverance of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego through the blazing furnace.  All the people in the land were instructed to fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.  Whoever refused, were to be thrown into the blazing furnace.  When the time came to bow down and worship the image of gold, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused.  They refused to worship anything or anyone other than Almighty God – the One True God.  The king, in an angry rage, summoned the three men.  The king said to the men, “If you do not worship it (the image), you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace.  Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” – Daniel 3:15.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego boldly replied to King Nebuchadnezzar.  “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” – Daniel 3:16-18.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were pressured to deny God, but made the choice to be faithful to Him no matter what happened.  They trusted that Almighty God would deliver them, but if God chose not to deliver them they would still remain faithful to Him.  Will you choose to be faithful to God whether He intervenes on your behalf or not?  Our eternal reward will be worth any suffering we may have to endure upon this earth. 

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the blazing furnace.  Scripture reveals God saw them through and delivered them through the blazing furnace.  As King Nebuchadnezzar gazed into the furnace, he saw four men walking in the fire unbound and unharmed.  Daniel 3:24-26 – Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”  They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”  He said, “Look!  I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”  Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out!  Come here!”  So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire.  God sovereignly chose to deliver Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego through the fire.  There may be times, when in His sovereign grace, God will see us through difficult situations and circumstances.  Know that when He see us through, He is right there with with us, providing His comfort and peace.  Choose to rely on Almighty God. 

Then there are times when God’s deliverance comes later – when we reach our eternal home.  We live in an evil, fallen world.  Believers will encounter difficult circumstances, illness, pain, and lose.  Suffering will occur in our life and in God’s sovereignty, He may choose not to deliver us from or through the pain.  Know deep in the depths of your soul, a better day is coming.  Hold on to the deliverance that can only occur when we are ushered into the presence of Jesus.  Hebrew 11:35-40 reveals saints who received deliverance later – in their eternal home.  There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection.  Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.  They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword.  They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated – the world was not worthy of them.  They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.  These were commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. 

Prayerfully ask God to help your faith stay strong no matter if He chooses to deliver you from, delivers you through, or delivers you later. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithfulness.  LORD we recognize Your sovereignty.  Thank You for Your presence no matter if you deliver us from, deliver us through, or deliver us later.  In Jesus Name I Pray…..Amen.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Seasons of Refining and Transformation

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 

2 Corinthians 3:18

Have you been through a season of refining and transformation?  Seasons of refining can be quite difficult.  These seasons can leave us with many unanswered questions.  During the midst of the refining we are often unable to see the reason, the purpose for the refining; but often afterwards, we are able to look back as the LORD reveals His purpose.  Then there are seasons of refining that we will never understand the purpose of the refining, until we reach our eternal home. 

We are ultimately being refined to be conformed to the image of Christ.  The Christian life is a process of becoming more and more like Jesus Christ.  This process will not be complete until we are ushered into our Heavenly Home and see Jesus face to face.  Knowing that Christ is molding us into His image should help us to surrender to the work of God in our lives.  Romans 8:28-29 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, and have been called according to his purpose.  For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sister. 

Scripture reveals that we are the clay and our Heavenly Father is the potter.  Isaiah 64:8 – Yet you, LORD, are our Father.  We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. During the transformation process, the pressing and molding might be unpleasant.  But we must remember that our LORD is sovereign, He loves us more than we can even comprehend.  During this molding process, hold on to the promises of your Savior and LORD.  Allow Scripture to soothe your hurting soul.  We do not have to understand to submit to the molding from our LORD.  Isaiah 55:8 – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.  Some works of God we will never understand until we are ushered in to eternity, but we can rest in knowing that we can trust our Savior and LORD.  Proverbs 3:5-6 – 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. 

Trials refine our character and bring us a new and deeper wisdom.  Trials also help us realize that life is a precious gift from God.  Whatever the trial you may be facing, Almighty God is with you.  There will be deliverance from the trial, either in this life or in our eternal home.  Without testing we would never know what we are capable of doing, nor would we grow spiritually.  Prayerfully ask God to help you submit to the refiner’s fire.  Allow your trials to refine your faith and purify your heart.  1 Peter 1:7 – These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 

When we are in the midst of the refiner’s fire, we can have confidence that Almighty God knows, plans, and directs our lives for good.  Our Savior and LORD is leading us to a better future.  Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  When in the midst of the refiner’s fire, we can also have courage.  Jesus is with us and will not abandon us.  Deuteronomy 31:8 – The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. 

Prayerfully ask God to fill you with strength and courage as you submit to the refiner’s fire. 

Dear Heavenly Father, help us to submit to You when we are in the refining fire.  Allow us a glimpse of Your mercy and grace during the difficult times.  I pray that we will draw closer to You and allow Your Word to soothe our parched souls.  In Jesus Name I Pray…..Amen.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Driven By Desperation

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

Has there been a season of your life where you have felt desperate, hopeless?  The King James Version Dictionary defines desperate as a giving up of hope or hopelessness.  When driven by desperation, people tend to run to God or run from God.  What will you choose to do? 

Scripture reveals several examples of people driven by desperation.  They had lost hope and knew that Jesus was the only answer to their desperate need.  We must realize when we are driven by desperation that Jesus Christ is the only answer.  He is the only One who can give us hope, comfort, peace, and healing – whether it is spiritual healing or physical healing. 

In Matthew 9, we notice a man who is driven by desperation.  His daughter had died and he believed that Jesus could bring her back to life.  He believed the healing touch of Jesus could bring his daughter back from death.  This man was a synagogue leader.  He was educated, religious, and well respected.  His education, religion, and his status could not help him in his desperation.  The synagogue leader knew he had to approach Jesus with his desperate need.  Matthew 9:18-19, 23-25 – A synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died.  But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.”  Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.  When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, he said, “Go away.  The girl is not dead but asleep.”  But they laughed at him.  After the crowd had been out outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. 

The synagogue leader did not come to Jesus until his daughter was dead.  It was too late for anyone else to help.  Jesus Christ can make a difference when it seems too late for anyone else to help.  If you are driven by desperation and your situation and circumstances look hopeless, know that Christ can do the impossible.  Luke 19:27 – Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”  This father knew the touch of Jesus changes things.  “But come and put your hands on her and she will live.”  Choose today to be like this father.  Allow your season of desperation to drive you to Jesus Christ. 

In Mark 2, we read of four men desperate to get their paralyzed friend to Jesus.  Because of the large crowd gathered around Jesus, the men could not enter the home where He was teaching.  These friends were determined to bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus for healing, so they took him to the roof of the home and lowered him to where Jesus was teaching.  Mark 2:3-4 – Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them.  Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on.  Can you just imagine being in the home watching as a man on a mat is lowered from the roof into Jesus’ presence?  These four men believed that Jesus could heal their paralyzed friend.  They were desperate to get him into the presence of Christ.  Their desperation led them to Jesus and because of their faith, the paralyzed man was healed by Jesus Christ.  Mark 2:5, 11-12 – When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.  I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”  He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all.  This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Desperation is irrespective of title, position, or social standing.  When your season of desperation comes, let it drive you to Jesus. 

Dear Heavenly Father, when we are faced with hopelessness I pray that we will seek You.  Help our faith in You be strong no matter the situation or circumstance.  In Jesus Name I Pray…..Amen.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

When Faced With Distractions During the Journey

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:10

We are on a journey towards our Heavenly home.  Until Jesus Christ calls us home, we are called to do good works that God has prepared for us.  Because we are individually unique, your calling is unique.  What is Christ calling you to do today?  Are you willing to step out in obedience to His call upon your life?  When we step out in obedience to our call, there will be times on the journey that we will face distractions.  How will you handle the distractions on your journey?  Satan will do everything he can to keep us from carrying the Gospel Message to a lost and dying world.  He will attempt to stop us from carrying out the good works God has prepared for us.  Let’s choose to stay focused on our God given calling and our Savior and LORD.

We notice in Acts 16:16-25 that Paul and Silas were faced with distractions during their journey.  Scripture reveals that Paul and Silas were in Macedonia and were going to a place of prayer.  A slave girl, who had an evil spirit, began to follow Paul and Silas.  She followed the men for several days shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.”  Paul became annoyed and commanded the spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come out of her.  What the slave girl said was true, although the source of her knowledge was a demon.  If Paul accepted the demon’s words, he would appear to be linking the Gospel with demon-related activities.  This would damage the Gospel Message because truth and evil do not mix. 

The girl’s owners were faced with the loss of the girl’s fortune telling ability and their way of financial gain.  They became angry and had Paul and Silas dragged into the marketplace to face the authorities.  They were stripped, beaten, and placed in stocks in a prison cell.  Acts 16:19-24 – When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.  They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”  The crowd joined the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be striped and beaten with rods.  After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully.  When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.  Despite Paul and Silas awful situation – distractions during the journey – they praised God by singing and praying.  Acts 16:25 – About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 

How did Paul and Silas handle the distractions they faced on their journey?  They remembered the call.  Acts 16:9-10 – During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”  After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.  When you are faced with distractions during the journey, remember the call the LORD has placed upon your life.  Remember the good works God has prepared for you to do.  You are unique, you have a unique calling.  Stay focused on Almighty God and the task He has called you to.  When Paul and Silas were bound in prison, they continued to share the Gospel Message through praying and singing hymns.  No matter the distractions, continue to share the Gospel Message with those you come in contact with.  When our journey is filled with distractions, we must trust our Savior and LORD.  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.  Almighty God desires for us be obedient to our calling.  God is faithful and will be with us as we travel on our journey towards our eternal home. 

Dear Heavenly Father, we recognize that as we journey towards our Heavenly home we will be faced with distractions.  Help us Father to remember the calling You have placed upon our life.  Help us to stay focused on the good works You have prepared for us to do.  LORD, help us to trust You.  In Jesus Name I Pray…..Amen.