Spiritual amputees

In all our lives we can feel weak. We can feel emotionally or spiritually disabled. The sin that we’ve been born with has caused us to loose a part of ourselves. We are all, in a sense, spiritual amputees. We cannot love. We cannot have faith. We cannot do good.

Romans tells us, “They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

“They are together become unprofitable”

Basically everyone on this earth is useless.

But we don’t all feel that way do we? The rich man feels that he is better than the poor man. The strong man feels  he is better than the weakling. The ruler feels he is better than the commoner. In our own little world, we give glory to those who we see as wise or strong. We erect these measures of status and profitability for our own comparisons among each other. We become disillusioned and blinded to the true measure and standard of God’s power and worthiness.

God doesn’t want to leave us in this false world of fake and useless status, so He shakes things up a bit.

In Corinthians we find, “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.

God basically reveals himself by taking those considered weak, and making them strong. He takes the poor man, and uses him to show up the rich man.

He takes a bunch of lowly fishermen, and transforms them into apostles who revolutionize the demographics and belief systems of the entire world. He chooses Gideon, who was lowly in status, to lead an army of very few to defeat a massive army. He takes a life as common and lowly as yours or mine and uses it to make a difference for His glory.

So next time you feel as if you have nothing to offer God. Or that you don’t measure up. Or that you don’t have the tools to succeed. Realize that might just be what God is looking for. God can use anyone. He can use the strongest person in the room. But He seeks out the weakest. He chooses the foolish. He plans to use the ones no one would ever expect, to do the things they could never do on their own. And why? So the world can know all the things they value and esteem worthy of praise are worth nothing. They are all gone out of the way, they are all together become unprofitable. Everyone is useless without Him. There is not exception. There is no comparison worth making between us.

“That no flesh should glory in his presence.” 1 Corinthians 1:29

 

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Nicodemus saw the witness

Have you ever seen the impossible? Maybe you were at a magic show, or a fair? Someone ate fire or they sawed a woman in half? A bunny disappeared and then reappeared? We know these acts to be fabricated and only slight of hand, but what if you saw such a thing that was undeniably genuine?

The wonder. The questioning. The demand for answers.

These are all feelings I believe you would feel. This is exactly how Christians should make the world feel. In John 3, a man named Nicodemus approached Jesus. The first thing he says to Christ is this, “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.”

Nicodemus saw what Christ had done. He knew the miracles were real. He wanted to know. Wanted to understand. He was looking for answers.

As followers of Christ, we are to inspire the same feelings in people around us. We may or may not work miracles, but our testimony and character should inspire wonder and questioning in the heart of unbelievers.

“How are they so calm when they are in so much trouble financially? What do you mean God will take care of you?”

“How can you go on happy when you have such a terrible disease? What do you mean you’re not afraid of death?”

“How can you speak so kindly of such a horrible person? What do you mean God wants you to love your enemies?”

These are the types of questions that the world will ask when Christians live in accordance to God’s Word. This is the types of questions they will ask YOU when you live fully believing God and His Word!

I challenge you, develop a heavenly mindset. Live in faith and live knowing that God is real and His promises are sure. Your lifestyle and attitudes may do more to attract people to Christ than your actions will ever do.

When Nicodemus spoke to Jesus, he didn’t ask a question. But the Bible says that “Jesus answered and said . . .” And then Jesus told Nicodemus the gospel. When you live in a way that shows God’s power, people will have questions they may never ask. But you will be able to give them the answer- Jesus.

 

Castles in your mind

I hear Christians speak all the time about how they have a weakness about this or that. They say that they have a weakness towards gambling, or gluttony, or white lies. It’s so easy to mindlessly excuse such faults.

“It’s a weakness of mine”

It sounds innocent, but it isn’t. Children are weak, sick people are weak- Bible believing Christians who have the Lord working in their lives should not be weak! And they should not be content with sinful thoughts or actions in their lives.

Living rightly before God is a war. It’s a war between our carnal desires, and His desires. We can’t afford weaknesses. Soldiers don’t mention a weakness and then continue on as if it is acceptable. Weaknesses are a matter of life or death to them.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 communicates this idea perfectly, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations . . .   and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

I would encourage you read the entire chapter, but for now we will focus on these verses. God tells us that even though we are living an earthly life, we do not fight an earthly war.

We fight a war that is in the spirit and in our minds.

We fight against imaginations. We fight against thoughts. And sometimes they are hard to notice. Perhaps you are thinking of exaggerating a story, eating more dessert than you should, or letting your thoughts stray to immoral things.

When you succumb to those temptations, that’s not weakness, that’s allowing the enemy to cross into your territory. When you allow sinful thoughts to occupy your mind it’s like allowing the enemy army to occupy your land. Eventually they’re setting up camp, getting used to being there, and they start building castles- and they’re harder to drive out.

Just like an enemy army is hard to evict once they’ve been in your country a while, evil thoughts are hard to banish from your mind once they’ve set up camp.

But don’t give up! There’s hope!

God promises that his power is strong, even unto the “pulling down of strongholds.” There may be a castle of sin in your mind, but it doesn’t have to stay. God has the power to remove it!

What sinful thoughts or actions are hard for you to resist?

What castles of sin are in your mind today?

Won’t you ask God for the power to remove them?

In heaven . . . while on earth

If you are saved today, you are sitting in a heavenly place. Or places. God has placed you in heavenly places for his own purposes. You might think, but I’m here- on earth. Well, that may be true, but it is also true that you have been placed (figuratively or somehow literally) in a heavenly place.

In Ephesians 2:6, we read, “And [God]  hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Whoa, so reread that a little. God raised us up, and put us in Christ. In Christ, we are seated in heavenly places. Here’s where it sorta comes together. In Hebrews 12:2 we find that Christ is “set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” That word for set, is the root word for the phrase “sit together” in Ephesians 2:6.

So, in a roundabout poet way, Ephesians 2:6 tells us that in an authoritative/positional way we are currently sitting at the right hand of the throne of God while we are in Christ Jesus. That is the second part of what Christ did on the cross. First he raised us up, but then he added an extra bonus by placing us “in Himself” so that we could enjoy all the rights and privileges that He receives and will receive from the Father.

Or, as the Scripture puts it – “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

Now that’s something to look forward to. Or is it? God has put us at the right hand of His throne right now. We receive His grace every day! Personally, I don’t think God put us in Christ in heaven right now, to enjoy His grace later. In fact, Hebrews 4:16 tells us to come boldly for grace right now!

So I challenge you, as a fellow Christian, realize who you are in Christ and all Christ has done for you. It is an encouraging thing to know all that God has done for us. As we live our lives in obedience to Christ, we live in heaven, in Christ, while on earth!

Do you count your sleep hours?

Since I graduated college, I have now gone home and am currently working to save up some money. I’ve been working about 60 or 70 hours a week, and it’s been a little fun. I’ve found that sleep is a necessity, so I try to get as much as I can. Over time, I started to count the hours that I would get to sleep.

I’d be going to bed and I’d be like, “Oh, so I’m only getting 6 1/2 tonight.” Or “I’m getting  a full 8 so tomorrow should be a good day!” I began to measure and predict how the next day would go based only upon my hours of sleep. I started getting frustrated when situations worked out so I’d get less. And I became stressed, when I knew I would have to go without a good rest for several days. Well, to make a long story short- I was completely in the wrong.

I really don’t know what I was thinking!

God’s in control. He had given me that schedule, and He knew how much sleep I’d be getting. Who was I to think that God couldn’t help me out and get me through the day on less sleep? I mean, think about it, when Joshua needed to get things done, he didn’t ask for more sleep, only daylight. God gave Joshua the strength to continue into battle for almost an entire second day. So why not me?

I challenge you, if you find yourself gauging your next day based on your hours of sleep (like I did), make a change! I’m not telling you to go without sleep because, “God will sustain me,” but if you find yourself being unavoidably sleep deprived, don’t just expect to have a horrible day and “just get through it.” Expect God to do something great. Ask Him to give you the energy you need to accomplish His work for His kingdom. If you ask in faith, I know he will provide.

“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” – John 15:7

So next time you go to sleep, don’t be counting the hours, be counting on His power! 🙂

Will you stand in judgment?

Psalm 1 is a beautiful description of the righteous man. This servant of God, has nothing to do with sin. Not in his lifestyle, partial participation, or even occasional activity. He desires and delights in God and in His law. Because of His obedience and desire for God, he stands tall and brings forth fruit while others fall away.

Because of his innate strength gained from God’s blessing, he will remain when the wicked pass away. After the Psalm mentions the ungodly falling away  like chaff, verse 5 says, “Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.” This seems to imply that the righteous man will stand in the judgment and in the congregation of the righteous.

But what does it mean to stand in judgment? Is God saying that the wicked won’t be judged? Obviously not. In this passage, I believe standing in judgment means to stand as a judge. As 1 Corinthians 6:2 says, “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” God will appoint people to be judges when he returns, and the wicked will not fill those positions.

In contrast, the man who delights in God and lives rightly, will. It’s easy to live the Christian life, sinning without care and repenting later. After all, once you’re right with God the slate’s clean? Right? Well, not really. There will always be the consequences of your actions. You will have negative effects from your sin, and so will others.

Our lives must be lived for Christ to have maximum influence. Someday our lives will be over, and we may very well see the impact of every thought or deed we have produced. It may be that even though we are saved, we may not be counted worthy to judge very much in the next life. As Christians we must focus on the eternal. Our lives are too short and precious to be lived for ourselves. I challenge you, be like the righteous man in Psalm 1 who completely shuns evil. You will see how much God can produce through your life. You will stand in judgment- and in the congregation of the righteous.

Have God lift up your head

Have you ever heard someone say, “Keep your head up!” Maybe you were going through a tough time and they wanted to encourage you. Many times when troubled times hit those around us, we cannot fix their problem. We can encourage and pray for them, but ultimately their help has to come from God.

When it comes to keeping your head up, there’s no better helper than God Himself. Do you know that in Psalms, David actually says that God brings His head up? In Psalm 3, David says,

“But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.”

God lifted up David’s head. That’s right, God Himself lifted David’s head. And how was that possible? If you look at the Psalm you can see David’s thoughts. First he speaks of how many people have come against him. Second, he recalls that many people say that his condition is hopeless. The next verse reveals that David was speaking to God the whole time. Even though trouble seemed to be all around, David was not shaken.

David’s head did not hang down. He knew who his God was.

So next time you find a friend with his head hanging low, remind him of Who can lift up his head. God is the one that protects us, He is what we can glory in, and He is the one that keeps our head up.

Is your head up today?

Riches are not forever . . .

When God says something about the uncertainty of riches, He usually is reminding us of the eternality of spiritual things. This trend is repeated many times in His Word. But in Proverbs 27, God says something a little different.

In verse 23, God says, “For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?” The first word, “for” tips us off that this truth is a reason to do something. So, we have the reason for action- What’s the action? When we look to the previous verse- it says, “Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.”

Here in this verse, God does not seem to feel the need to remind us of spiritual things. He’s giving some simple advice on life. Since flocks and herds were the general measure of a man’s wealth in that day, we could say that God is saying: be diligent with your money. He repeats Himself by telling us to “look well” to our wealth. Those words “look well” literally mean: “put your heart into it.”

And why should we do this? Because money doesn’t last. And authority and ruler-ship does not always pass to the “rightful” person. God’s telling us that we have to be diligent with what we’re given or we could easily lose it.

But He’s not telling us to go out there and focus our life on money, either. We must use some discretion. God has said in other places, “Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.” – Prov 23:5

“Riches make themselves wings” – truly.

So my friends, be diligent to protect what God has given you. Whether it be riches, authority, or anything else. Don’t work only to be rich. Don’t spend your life chasing after the wind. Remember: God gives you to ability to get wealth. (Deut 8:17-18) When we are diligent with our money, we are for His sake- not our own. When we are diligent, God can give us more, and we can be used greater for Him. He doesn’t need servants that chase after riches. And he doesn’t need diligent servants in order for Him to get money.

He wants us simply to be obedient. And that means here and now, with whatever we’ve been allotted.

Let’s be diligent stewards with what we’ve been given!

When God will do it

Have you ever thought of something that you wanted. You desired this material thing, promotion, status in life, position, relationship, etc. You believed it was God’s will for you to have this good thing. Not only did you believe that it was God’s will, but you were fixed on the idea that you must work to gain this ________.

I’m speaking generically, but please, visualize something. Think of something good you believe or know God wants you to have.

Now, remember, God desires this for your life. That’s why you desire it, right? Because you want only God’s will for your life. So if God desires this too, do you think He’s going to let you battle the whole world for it? No, of course not. God has everything in His control. So there are only a few reasons why you don’t have what God wants for you.

1) God doesn’t want it for you now. Think of the Israelites. They spent hundreds of years in bondage, and yet God had promised them a homeland. I honestly don’t believe God has their land in store for them yet. David was anointed king. God obviously wanted Him king, but it would be several years before God brought that to pass. Sometimes, it’s not the right time.

2) You haven’t prepared yourself for the blessing. Think of the Israelites again. They wandered in the desert without the promised land for forty years. Why? Because they had not believed God. God wanted to bless them, but they couldn’t be blessed because they were spiritually unprepared.

Now, remember those two conditions. If God doesn’t want something for you right now, or you haven’t prepared yourself for His blessing, and you try to get it, then you’re fighting God. It’s going to be a struggle. And you’re going to lose. God will either refuse to give it to you, or He’ll give it to you and you will see why He didn’t want to give it to you in the first place. Either way, you’re wasting energy God could be using elsewhere, and it will end badly.

It would have been vain for David to lead a revolt against Saul. Why? Because God wasn’t leading Him to. And it would have been completely disastrous for Joshua to lead the Israelites to war with the Canaanites after God had condemned them to wilderness wandering because of their unfaithfulness.

Both of those situations would have ended badly, and so would yours if you were to try to take God’s will into your own hands.

God’s will doesn’t need a well planned out flesh move. We live in the Spirit and we must walk in the Spirit. We must be obedient to God and be willing to do anything. If God requires hard work, we will do it. If God requires character training, we will allow Him to train our character. If God requires patient waiting, we will patiently wait. We don’t have to fight for His will, He will give it to us when we are obedient.

So next time you think of something you believe God wants you to have, don’t stress over it. No matter what it is, God could give it to you today if He wanted. All you must do is obey Him now, and when the time comes, you will be in position to receive it when it comes.

Psalm 37:4-5 says, “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”

Notice that God brings it to pass. You don’t earn it, and you don’t fight for it. God brings it in His time, when you are obedient to Him.

Isn’t that comforting?

God’s time warp?

Imagine if you could have more than 24 hours in a day. If you could choose to lengthen your day. Throughout my life I’ve always heard people say things like, “We all only have 24 hours a day.” or “I wish I had more time today.” While I was reading the Scripture, I found that it seems that God has provided a way for us to get more “time” out of our day.

In Proverbs 3, Solomon tells his son to keep his commandments. Solomon tells him that the reward for this is, “length of days, and long life, and peace.” Long life and peace are both easily understandable. But length of days, seems a little confusing. How can your day be longer? Is God talking about a time warp for the righteous?

I don’t really think so. I once heard the phrase “length of days” interpreted as the ability to get more done in your day than others.

You see, when you follow the Lord and obey His commandments, He is with you. When Joseph was in Potiphar’s house, he was highly favored, and God prospered everything he put his hand to. I honestly believe that when we follow the commands of the Lord and work for His glory, then we can accomplish far more in a day for Him than we could ever accomplish by ourselves.

So I encourage you, obey the commands of God, and when you go to work in the course of your day, remember who is with you. Ask God to give you length of days. Ask Him to help you get more done in the time you have. You might be surprised how much you can accomplish when God divinely directs you.

Oh, and if you ever need a day to be a few hours longer, don’t be afraid to ask for a few hours. I mean, He did it for Hezekiah, and for Joshua, so why not for you?