It’s dead

What if a man told you that is was going to rain very hard, but left his umbrella home. What if someone told you they knew of a stock that would quadruple in value in the next 4 months, but they weren’t investing any money. What if they told you that they really loved a sports team, but were never going to watch a game.

It would be kind hard to believe any one of these people right? There’s an old saying, “Actions speak louder than words.” When a person truly believes or cares it shows in how they act. If they “believe” something, but never act on their belief they probably don’t believe it.

It’s the same in the Christian life, God spoke through James, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” God says that if you believe something, but never act on it, your belief is dead. I challenge you to examine yourself, what does your belief in God motivate you to? What is your action as a result of believing in God?

If your belief in God does not motivate you to any action other than a non-believer, then your faith is dead. If you worry and stress, just like a non-believer- then your faith is dead in that area. If you put entertainment and people before the Almighty God- then your faith is dead in that area. As Christians, we must strive to harbor a heavenly mindset. If we say we believe in God, yet don’t act on it, how can we expect anyone to believe us?

I’m sure that if we just took a glance around, we could find people who say they believe God, but never act like it. The important thing is whether or not we see that kind of person in the mirror. And if we do, what we will do about it.

Think about it. If someone told you they believed in God, but acted like He didn’t exist and His promises weren’t real- Would you believe them?

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It’s in the fine print

We’ve all been there. When you sign a contract thinking you know what you’re getting, but in fact you don’t. That contract that left out the fees. That olive oil that was 95% canola. That used car that wasn’t really represented properly. The world is filled with liars, crooks, and people who just shade the truth a little. And it’s easy to get bamboozled if you don’t read the fine print.

Salesmen like to point the way to the so called “benefits” of trading what you have for their merchandise, and they always seem to leave out drawbacks. It’s just the same way in our spiritual lives. From the earliest record we have, Satan advertises that eating the fruit will make Adam and Eve, “as gods, knowing good and evil.” And he was right. What he decidedly lied about was all the repercussions that would bring.

Eve was deceived and tempted, and Adam fell.

Even today, Satan loves to advertise sin as something that will bring pleasure. And it does, even God says that sin brings pleasure for a season. But in the end it brings complete destruction. That was in the fine print.

Just like your financial life can be destroyed if you make decisions without considering all the consequences, your spiritual life can be destroyed as well. If you look at the world, Satan and those deceived by him will tell you to enjoy this sinful pleasure or that immoral desire, but in the end it brings destruction.

God tells us very plainly. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23 No hidden fees, no fine print, it’s all in the open. Choose God- Choose life. Choose sin- Choose death. It’s that simple.

I challenge you, next time some unrighteous thing seems like fun, or the easier way, remember how things really are. Remember the truth of God’s Word and choose life. God’s looking out for your interests, and He wants you to live an abundant life. Won’t you choose Him today?

“For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Galatians 6:8

The patient wait

What stirs the heart of God? What brings the interest of God? In what is God pleased? What causes God to move to action? These questions could be answered by many different qualities found in righteous people, but I honestly believe that a person’s patientce combined with expectation or hope is most effective in bringing God’s intervention.

Proverbs 40:1 says, “I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.” Notice the action that David took. He waited patiently. In our fast paced world, we don’t like to wait for things. We want it now, or we want something else that we can have now. These impulses are deeply rooted in pride and selfishness. Think about it, humility brings us patience. Many people¬†would wait all day to meet a famous actor or politician. Why? Because they find that person worthy of their time. But many times people fail to recognize the God of the universe as worthy of their time as a mortal being.

In order to patiently wait, David had humility.

One interesting thing about this verse is that the Hebrew word for “patiently” and the Hebrew word for “waited” are exactly the same. The word carries more than one meaning and in Hebrew, its interpretation is intensified by it’s repetition. ¬†One other meaning in this word is to expect or hope for something. Honestly, you don’t have to be an amazing scholar to recognize that the only reason that you would wait for something, is that you actually expect it. I mean, who waits for something that they know is not going to happen?

So two qualities of David’s heart are portrayed by his waiting: his humility in his willingness to wait, and his expectation (faith).

And what was the answer? God inclined to him and heard him. We see such an equation repeated over and over in the Bible. When people humbly stand in faith for God to move, He moves. When they humbly ask and believe, He answers. Over and over again.

So how about you? What do you need from God today? Are you asking in humility? Do you ask God for something, and then soon give up because He doesn’t answer immediately, or do you patiently and expectantly wait for His reply?

I challenge you, whatever you desire from God: deliverance, wisdom, ability, strength, health, patience, etc. , ask Him. Ask in humility, and ask in expectation and He will answer.

Ask not, have not

Prayer is a powerful thing. Throughout all of Scripture we can witness the power of prayer in providing rain, bringing healing, lessening punishment, providing food, giving victory in battle, opening barren wombs, multiplying loaves and fishes, and countless other acts of God. God has told us that we can pray. In fact, He commands it! Then why are many of us so apathetic in our prayer life?

God promises, "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." John 14:13.

When we pray, we grow closer to our Savior. When we pray, we get to be used by God as an instrument in glorifying Him and bringing His will on earth. And when we pray and see our prayers answered, our faith grows and we learn how to be used of God more.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, "Pray without ceasing." Do you? How often do you ask God to work mightily in your life? Do you want to be used by Him? Do you want to grow in your walk? Do you want His will mightily in your life?

James 4:2 says, "ye have not, because ye ask not."

I wonder, how much of God’s will have we missed out on, because we have failed to ask? Let’s make a decision to ask God continually for His will in faith. Ask Him continually for specific things throughout this next week.

Are you awesome?

A lot of things depend on our perspective. For instance, if I consider myself an awesome person, and someone insults me and tells me I’m an idiot, then my deductive reasoning would go like this: "I am awesome. They say I am not awesome. They are wrong." If however, I value the opinions of others more than my own thinking, I’ll think something like this: "They say I’m an idiot. Popular opinion is always correct. I am an idiot." Well, in all reasonableness, neither schools of thought are correct, but they serve as an example. Whatever you accept above all else, will govern your beliefs.

I would like to give you another example, an example that is a little more serious and relevant. John has a Christian family member that dies of a serious disease. John thinks, "This disease was a terrible thing. God allowed this disease. God is terrible." You see how having an improper focus can distort the truth.

Let’s turn that same thing around. Imagine if John were to have a firm biblical basis for his thinking. John would think, "This disease is terrible. God allowed this disease. I know God is good. Somehow, someway God must have had a reason for allowing this disease. God is still good even though He allowed this "terrible" thing.

Now, if John were to continue to read his Bible, He might find a verse such as Romans 8:28, "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Using that verse, John could deduce that God had a loving purpose in allowing the disease.

Now, I don’t know of many people who want to have Romans 8:28 quoted to them when they are grieving a serious loss. Please don’t try to tell grieving people that they should cheer up. Grieving is normal and natural. Our Lord and Savior wept for Lazarus even though he knew that he would raise him from the dead in a few moments!

But, I would like to share this thought with you: Take God at His word. Whether you are a "logical" person or not, you use some form of logic. We all have beliefs that we take without proof. As a Christian, I would challenge you to take God’s Word, The Holy Bible, as your ultimate proof. When you face the world, never question it. Trust God alone, and you will find your life a lot simpler.

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding." – Proverbs 3:5

The great thing about mercy

God loves all His children. He loves to hear them cry out to Him. He wants them to go to Him in times of distress. God has all the power than anyone could ever need.

Today I would like to share just one simple thought with you. A thought about mercy. It’s simple.

Mercy is not deserved.

In fact, when you look the word up in the dictionary, it says, "to treat an offender better than he deserves." It’s not deserved.

You can’t earn mercy.

So my simple thought to you, is that when you find yourself in a predicament where you deserve serious consequences. It’s not too late to turn to God. It’s not too late to beg for mercy. The Psams records at least 10 times where someone calls out to God for mercy. God has an abundance of mercy, and he loves to act on behalf of His children.

Whatever your situation, call upon God in faith. Ask Him to show mercy. Ask Him to work on the hearts of those in authority that they would show mercy. Call upon Him out of a pure heart. And wait to see the power of the Lord.

God knows that we are frail. He understands that we are dust.

"So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy." – Romans 9:16

"Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." – Isaiah 55:7

"For thy mercy is great unto the heavens," – Psalm 57:10

Do you even shed a tear?

I remember being told as a child to remain quiet out of respect to the mourners. I wasn’t supposed to laugh or joke, or run around with other kids at the funeral. I was to mourn with the family who had lost someone special. I’d like to share something with you about the time of mourning that each of us must have in our lives. It’s a command in scripture, a command I think we often forget.

In James 4:6-8, God gives a recipe for revival. God explains that if we want to grow close to Him we must humble ourselves, resist the devil, and purify our lives of sin. Okay great! Sounds simple to me, if we will just do these things, then we will be coming close to God, He will come close to us, and we’ll have a great relationship!

But, it doesn’t end there. Verse nine gives another command, or ingredient if you will. The verse reads, "Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness." That’s not a verse I like to spend a lot of time in. It’s not something that we like to talk about. Weeping over sin. Mourning our loss of service to God. Coming face to face with the seriousness of the sin that separated us from our loving Savior. It’s not fun. But there is hope.

1 John 1:9 reads, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." God says that he will forgive us and cleanse us if we simply confess. Isn’t that amazing? But what is confession? Is saying that we’re sorry really enough?

Many people think that confessing our sin is simply saying, "Oh, I lied, please forgive me. I stole, forgive me God. I was lazy this afternoon, forgive me." The word confession means "to say the same as." So, in essense, God wants us to say the same thing about that sin that he would. Do we speak of sin, or think of it, as God does? When you make a decision to turn from sin, do you take it seriously? God isn’t interested in His servants having a flippant attitude towards sin, sin that was so serious, that it’s atonement could only be brought about His death on the cross. Sin is serious.

My friends, do you take sin seriously? Or do you acknowledge your sin and make a half-hearted decision to change later. I am very guilty of treating sin as something of no consequence, but God commands us to view sin as He sees it. He tells us to mourn over it. Do we mourn? He tells us to weep. Do we even shed a tear? When you confess your sin, take a moment to realize the greatness of your offense and what it cost Christ.

I’ve said it multiple times now, but sin is a serious matter. When you repent, it’s a time to mourn, it’s a time to weep. Take the time to mourn. Don’t simply mention how you’re sorry and then pretend like nothing happened. Realize your guilt, and acknowledge it. Then, afterward, rejoice in the Lord. God promises to forgive you once you have confessed your sin. You don’t have to live in guilt. Weep, but realize that joy comes in the morning, and your God will always be ready to forgive and cleanse a contrite heart.

Reality check

Life isn’t always fun. And it doesn’t always go your way. There’s a reason there are things called emotions. If we were always happy we’d only have one emotion. And I’m sure that’d get boring. Although emotions are real, we must remember that emotions are not reality. They are results of our physical body here on earth. Emotions are governed by many things. Amount of sunlight, degree of hunger, comfort level, how many hugs we had recently, stress level, endorphins/hormones, amount of sleep, and situations in general. Emotions can seem like they have a great affect on the universe, but emotions aren’t the issue, our situations are the issue. (explanation to follow)

I want to give you an illustration of serious emotions, and a Biblical response to them. In 1 Samuel 30 David and his men return to their home city to find it burned. Their wives and their children are gone. When these mighty men who have slain thousands in victorious battle find their home in desolation, they have an emotional response. Yeah, they cry like babies. (1 Sam. 30:4) And can you blame them? Their families are gone! After crying until they can’t cry anymore, they start thinking about what to do.

What do they decide? Let’s kill David! Brilliant.

Now, think of David. His family is gone, his home is burned to the ground. And now his best friends and comrades want to kill him.

What would you do in that situation? How would you react? I’d probably fall apart.

In verse 6, we find David’s reaction. It says, "but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God." That’s right, David looked beyond his "situation" and saw the true reality. He could have looked at his surroundings and despaired, but he "encouraged himself." The word ‘encouraged’ means to strengthen. David made himself strong in the Lord.

How does this apply to us? Well, what’s going on in your life today? Are you in a "situation" that looks hopeless. Do you find yourself feeling terrible , stressed out, and emotionally distraught? Remember, emotions aren’t the issue, your situations are.

You might say, "My situation is horrible! I’ve got so much to do! I’m inadequate! Nothing is turning out right!"

I would challenge you, if you are feeling that way, you need a reality check. Your situation is better than it seems. You’re a child of God. You have a promise that He’ll never leave you. He’s working everything out to your good. (Rom 8:28) Your God is in control of all. If God is allowing difficulty in your life, it’s probably because He wants you to learn to react properly and go to Him about it. Are you going to let your emotions dictate your manner of life, or will you let God’s presence give you peace?

I challenge you, remember your true reality. God is your God. What could possibly go wrong?

Encourage yourself in the Lord.

Praying for the random things

Have you ever been living your Christian life, and you realize that you are lacking. Most of us, if we are honest with ourselves, find that we have a plethora of problems and issues that arise every day. Like Paul, we often do that which we don’t want to do. (Romans 7:19) I would ask you though, do you ever pray for the random flaws and faults you find in yourself?

James 1:5 says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." In this verse, God is saying, "You want wisdom, Ask!" It’s that simple!

In another portion of scripture, God says the well known phrase, "Ask, and it shall be given you . . . For everyone that asketh, receiveth" I would think that it is safe to say you can ask for just about anything. In fact, many verses say exactly that. So, now that you know you can ask God for things, how are you using that power?

I would challenge you to go throughout the day in an attitude of prayer. Ask the Lord to show you your shortcomings. Ask Him to show you your cycles or patterns of sin. Where do you fall the most? As He reveals your downfalls to you, pray for them.

Ask God for random things.

"Lord, I noticed I showed pride when this person insulted me, help me to be humble. Lord, I got impatient today waiting in line, help me to live in peace. Lord my attitude wasn’t right here, help me to react in love and be an ambassador for you." Like little threads that eventually can bind a strong man, your little prayers can slowly bind you to God’s will. It’s not a perfect picture, but you get the idea.

Little prayers, for little things can make a big difference. God promises that he hears the prayers of the righteous.

Are you praying?

“Behold to me” vs. “Look to the stars”

Our lives are often fraught with trying situations. Impossible odds and formidable difficulties. Many times, God’s promises to us seem faint and distant in light of our present circumstances. Such was the situation Abram found himself in thousands of years ago.

Abram was faithfully serving God. God had promised Him that his descendants would be a great nation. There was however, an apparent wrench in the works, as it were. Abraham was old. His wife was old. They were past childbearing years. From a human’s perspective, it was impossible to have a child.

This situation is played out in the discourse found in Genesis 15:1-6. Abram is simply asking God about His promise. In Abram’s speech, he says, "Behold to me thou hast given no seed." It looks impossible, in fact, Abram even suggests that his steward be his heir. Think about that for a moment. Think of Abram’s situation. He’s old. It looks like it’s past time. Did he miss out? Did he mess up? Did he misunderstand? What’s going on? Why doesn’t he have a son? Has God forgotten?

Have you ever felt that way? Perhaps you applied for a job and didn’t get it. Or a relationship didn’t work out. Have you ever felt discouraged because of your "impossible" situations? I know I’ve felt that way many times. There is only one solution. You must go to God.

Just like Abram, we must take our eyes off our surroundings and fix them on our all-powerful God. In this account, Abram asks God for reassurance and God answers. God tells Abram that his heir will be his own son and then God pretty much tells him to take a walk.

After they had gone a little ways, God says, "Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be." That’s a pretty amazing promise for a childless man with a barren wife.

The next verse tells us that Abram believed God, and God reckoned Him righteous. I’d like to ask you a question. Is the Word enough for you? If you were Abram, would you simply believe God? Abram did. We don’t see any further conversation. God says it, and Abram believes it. That’s how our walk with God should be.

Do you believe the promises in God’s Word? Do you claim them as your own or have you forgotten His goodness? When we stray from God, we forget Him, and we forget His goodness. I would challenge you, stay close to God, trust in His Word. Remember how good of a God He is. He’s watching out for you, He’s taking care of you, and everything will be alright in the end. Don’t look down at the world around you, look to the stars, and remember his promises.

"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." – Hebrews 11:6