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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It’s easy to be a naysayer, that’s why there’s so many of them

It takes some courage to think an idea. It takes more courage to act upon it. It takes no courage to sit there and say, “That will never work.” If you look down the long road of history, you will find an incredible trail of people and ventures that were spoken negatively about until they succeeded.

It is the same with the Christian life. When things don’t look right, we will be surrounded by those who will speak negatively. It takes the power of God to have faith. We must rely on God to help us develop our faith, and it is up to us to decide to exercise it.

Psalm 3 gives us an incredible example. In verse 3, David says, “Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.” David had naysayers, just like countless others. In the next verse, David praises the Lord for his comfort. David reminds himself of God’s faithfulness. He says that God is a shield, God encourages him, God heard him, and God kept him alive while he slept.

It would seem that he encourages himself by these reminders, because when he ends his praise he declares: “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.”

Hallelujah!

When David was surrounded by people who doubted God, he reminded himself of God’s faithfulness. He could have focused on negativity, but he didn’t. He focused on what God had done for him, and praised God for it.

It’s easy to be a naysayer, that’s why they are so many. But you don’t have to be. You can chose to live in righteousness and faith, and see God’s great power in your life.

I challenge you, exercise your faith and choose not to be discouraged by any situation. Remind yourself of God’s goodness in your life, and be encouraged. Stand in faith for God’s deliverance, and you will see your faith rewarded.

If you’d like a great example of this principle, take the time and check out one of the greatest stories of overcoming discouragement: Nehemiah 4:1-6:16

What if God made your bed for you?

When you take care of the poor, God takes care of you. Verse after verse in the Bible reiterates this same truth. A person may say that it’s a bad thing to be redundant, but when it comes to important truth, it’s not all that damaging. So, just for good measure, let me say that When you take care of the poor, God takes care of you.

Psalm 41 begins by saying, “Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.” Pretty amazing truth right? But it goes on. The next verse says, “The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies.”

Wow, so far you have protection, life, blessings, and deliverance from your enemies! What else could you ask for? Well, the next verse gives you healthcare.

“The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.” Incredible! God says that those who care for the poor will be strengthened when they are sick! The second part of the verse is a little harder to understand. God will “make his bed” when he’s sick?

I used a concordance on this part and the word for “make” basically means “to change,” so in essence, God will figuratively change the sheets. So in essence, God will make his bed. I’m guessing this has some significance in saying that the period of sickness is over. But let’s not think too much about this, God is obviously saying that the man who gives to the poor will be healthy, and that’s an amazing promise!

Let’s take advantage of that promise today.

I challenge you, consider those who are less fortunate than you are. Ask God to give you the inclination to help others and send people across your path that need help. Obey God, and watch His blessing flow on your life. Give Him the glory no matter what, and let others see His power.

Do you focus on what He takes?

When Job experienced great loss, he fell down and worshipped God. He said, ” the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” It is interesting to note that Job first recognized that all that he had was from the Lord. He said, “The Lord gave.” Job did something that most people would not, He focused on what God gave, and because of that, He saw what God “took” in a proper light.

In Psalm 3:5, David says, “I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve rarely found a person (including myself) who is truly thankful that God sustained them when they wake up. Usually they focus on their stressful day, their lack of coffee, their manner of awakening. They focus on what God takes, or just anything He didn’t give.

Through this verse, we can learn much from David. That line about God sustaining him in his sleep, when do you think that was written? It wasn’t written while he was lounging in luxury in his palace just trying to find a Hebrew rhyme to put in his next album hit. No, it was written while he, the king, was on the run. His own son had turned against him and was threatening his life.

This ancient king found occasion to thank the Lord for sustaining him in his sleep, while he had his throne taken from him, his son rising up against him, and his very life in danger. He did so because he focused on what God had given him.

If a man in such conditions could still find it in him to sing the praises of God, couldn’t we?

” I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” – Psalm 34:1

Pause for praise

I would like to differ from my normal devotional format. I’m not really going to follow my usual routine. Today, I would just like to share with you from the heart. Last night, I was getting ready for bed and I really didn’t feel like reading my Bible. I felt perhaps that maybe I should just skip my usual reading instead of doing it out of “duty.” The Lord quickly showed me that was wrong and I decided to read a few chapters despite my feelings.

I flipped to Psalms and just glanced at the last Psalm. It read, “Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him . . .” The chapter went on, and it ended with, “Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD.”

I reflected on a previous time when everything in my life seemed to be perfect and God was blessing tremendously. I was encouraged, I was excited, and practically dancing for joy because of God’s blessings. But this moment seemed different. I wasn’t feeling quite so happy. The atmosphere wasn’t so bright, and I was sullen.

The idea of praising the Lord hit me like a ton of bricks. I am completely humiliated to say this, but I hadn’t been taking time during my day to praise the Lord. I’d like to think that I’ve been thankful, but I haven’t praised Him. I haven’t reflected on His greatness and His love. While I was reading, I couldn’t believe how much I had forgotten something so important and so rudimentary.

I am to praise God.

While I read the previous chapters of Psalms, I realized that part of praising God must be a proper fear of Him. We can praise God in hard times and in times when things seem less than great because we know Him and how great He is. When we live in awe of Him, and how big He is, our problems and situations look so small. He is so much greater than anything else in our lives, and we ought to fulfill our purpose in serving Him.

I could ramble on about how great God is in comparison to our lives and situations, but I won’t. I am writing this to you, because I couldn’t help wonder if there was someone else out there who hadn’t taken the time to praise the Lord. If you haven’t taken the time, pause. Stop your thoughts; stop your actions. Empty your mind and rest.  Remind yourself of His greatness and rekindle the fear of the Lord in your life.

“He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man. The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.” – Psalm 147:10-11

Praise ye the Lord.

Who reads Leviticus?

When was the last time you were reading through Leviticus and you got passionate about God? Or Deuteronomy? Do you spend all your time thinking about the burnt offerings or the sacrifices that Israel had to make? Maybe you do, but if you are like most Christians I know, you’re probably thinking, Are you kidding me? Those are the boring books. Who does their devotions in Leviticus?

Honestly, that’s been my attitude for the majority of my life. And I’m ashamed of how I’ve despised the Word of God. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that, all scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness; that every part of the Bible is useful for the maturing of the man of God. But, most of us would have to admit that our actions and attitudes toward some parts of the Bible declare our scorn for God’s Word.

David was a man after God’s own heart. He pursued God. He loved God. He wanted to serve Him. In the Psalms, David wrote, O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day. Psalm 119:97

You might object that he liked it because He was under the law and we aren’t. But realize, David understood that the law was only a shadow. In Psalm 51 he wrote, For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. David knew that the law was not an end in of itself. He understood that the heart of God was more than regulations, yet he loved God’s regulations just the same.

One more thought, if we think that some parts of the Bible are boring, do we meditate on the parts of the Bible we think are more interesting? I know I don’t. I fail every day.

Do you spend time meditating on the Word of God? Do you love the Word of God? Do you spend time in the Old Testament? God tells us that the people in the Old Testament were recorded so that we could learn from them. I challenge you, as I challenge myself, take the time to meditate on Scripture today. Maybe even flip back to the Pentatuch or one of those weirdly named prophets. Take a chance, read through an Old Testament book. Ask God to teach you something through His Word. Ask God to help you love His Word more.

Try it and you won’t regret it, I have no doubt.

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. Psalm 119:65

Break the snakes

There are many good things in life that God gives us. He gives us certain things for certain times in our lives. Sometimes, the things that God has given us, loose their effectiveness. They were great for a time, but now God wants us to continue on. One example of something that lost its effectiveness was the brazen serpent in the Old testament.

You see, at one time, the Israelites were very disobedient and ungrateful to God. God allowed judgment to come upon them in the form of deadly snakes. When the people repented, God told Moses to make a brass snake. Anyone who looked at it, would be healed as a result of their obedience. (Numbers 21)

Years later, the Israelites still had the brass snake. You might think, Oh, thats nice, they have a piece of their history. But that was not all. They had started to worship the snake. They were burning incense to it, and treating it like a deity. God was not pleased, and when Hezekiah destroyed it because of their worship, God was pleased. (2 Kings 18:4)

Hezekiah looked at it and called it, Nehushtan or a thing of brass. Hezekiah had a proper view of the brass snake. He called it a thing. An item. It had no importance. God had used it in the past, but it was God that was special, not the thing He used.

Perhaps there are some brass serpents in your life. Think for a moment, what has God used greatly in your life? What has he used to help you grow the most? Perhaps it was a book you read, or a speaker you heard? I know in my life, I have often elevated people or tools that have helped me in my walk with God. Some of my attitude was a healthy respect, but there were times when it was in a sense an actual worship.

I would like to challenge you, if you find yourself in need of anything, realize that it is God that you need. When God works through your pastor, dont allow yourself to worship him. Look beyond the creation, and see the Creator who is the true provider. Dont ever ascribe worship or anything like it to Gods creation. God alone is worthy of our worship.

Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. Psalm 29:2

A second look at Psalm 23

Psalm 23:2,5 “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.”

Still waters, green pastures, a cup that runs over – these all have a similar thing in common. They are more than necessary. They are blessings that have a little something extra. I’ve been reading some sheep farmer manuals and I’ve gathered that still waters aren’t absolutely necessary for a sheep’s survival. They prefer still water. I’m sure sheep could live off of any old pasture, but the good shepherd gives them green pastures. Lastly,  God gives so much blessing that our cup runs over. Oftentimes, God’s blessings are so plentiful that we cant even contain them!

There are so many blessings we enjoy in our lives that are extra. God provided for us, then He added something just to give us pleasure. God didn’t have to make different colors or tastes. God didn’t have to make nature beautiful, or bless us for doing right. God is good to us, simply because He wants to be.

Today I would like to challenge you: look at God’s blessings in a new light. Next time you enjoy your favorite meal, remember, God didn’t have to give you the best. He did it because He wanted to.

Are you thankful for His blessings? Are you grateful? Realize the goodness of the God we serve. And praise Him for it!

“Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, andfor his wonderful works to the children of men!” – Psalm 107:8

Content to hear the boss praise you?

Believing on God is not always the most sociably acceptable thing to do. It isn’t always “easy” and it often requires certain sacrifices. Or maybe we should call them, “realignment of priorities.” As almost any Christian, we would say, “God is first,” but to we live that way?

In John 12, many Pharisees believed on Jesus, but they didn’t confess. Why? “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” (John 12:43) You see, these men wanted the praise from others. They forgot the person they should have been living to please. They focused on the people around them, and not on God. Their perspective was wrong, their priorities were skewed, and as a result they never experienced God like they should have.

How about you? Are you hesitant to share things about your faith with others because you are wary about what others would say? Do you change your actions, or compromise to please others around you? How about this? When you go to work, are you content to hear the boss tell you that you did a good job when you know you could have done better? Are you striving for the praise of men, rather than the praise of God?

I would challenge you, ask God to show you if you love the approval of men more than you love His approval. If you do, in any way, make a conscious decision to change your attitude. Remind yourself of the person you should really strive to please. Ask God to help you seek for His approval alone. If you live for Him alone, you will never regret it.

“How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?” – John 5:44

A Christian’s response to a bad day

Has anything ever gone wrong in your life? Ever had a bad day, or your plans messed up or it seemed as if every step of the ways you had to fight to get things done. When things go wrong, do you go to God in anger and frustration? Or, do you praise Him despite what is going on? God wants us to praise Him despite all the hardships that He has justly allowed in our lives.

If we take a look at scripture we will find an example of one guy who had a really bad day. It probably is the worst day ever recorded. This man’s name was Job. In one day, He lost all of his oxen, all of his donkeys, all of his camels, all of his sheep, and all of his children. Yes, he lost all of his children. If you know much about ancient wealth, it was measured in livestock. Basically, he lost most if not all of his wealth. But more than this, all his children died. And it wasn’t broken to him in the easiest way, all the servants came up to him at once and told him what happened.

Job’s response is one of absolute reverence and faith. The bible tell us that, he got up, shaved his head (a sign of mourning) , and then he fell down and worshipped God. He says specifically, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD, ” Job 1:21. Did you hear that at the end? He blessed the Lord! The next verse tells us that in all of this, “Job sinned not nor charged God foolishly.”

How many times do we have a bad day because we were late to work, or our food wasn’t the way we like it, or other insignificant thing happens, and we get upset at God? Have you ever gotten upset at God or anyone else, because some insignificant detail of your life didn’t go the way you planned? Job’s life is such a rebuke. Job had a proper view of God, and he most definitely had a proper view of himself.

I would like to challenge you, strive to be content in any circumstance. Whatever God allows in your life, he is allowing for your benefit. Don’t get angry at someone or God because something didn’t turn out the way you wanted. God wants us to practice contentment in whatever circumstance we find ourselves in. Let us learn to be content, with whatever God gives us.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” – 1 Timothy 6:6