Is God directing? Or are you just uncomfortable?

Throughout our lives we will feel uncomfortable with the way things are. Seeing how something needs doing and nobody’s doing it can really wreak havoc in our minds. Tension can grow and we can find ourselves with the urge to act in a way that God is not leading us.

Such was the situation with King Saul in 1 Samuel 13. At this time the Israelites were in the middle of a military conflict with the Philistines. The people were scared and the prophet Samuel had not come to make an offering to God yet. The people literally scattered and were hiding.

The Bible tells us that they were hiding “in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits.” Literally anywhere they could hide, they were hiding.

Imagine King Saul. He’s King! He’s responsible for these people. He wants to lead them to victory to protect their homes, but Samuel needs to offer a sacrifice to God and ask God for direction.

Samuel isn’t there.

In verse 8 we find that Samuel said he would be there in 7 days, but he hadn’t come. In the end, Saul made the offering, and Samuel arrived as soon as he was done.

Saul didn’t wait for God’s timing or God’s direction. As a result he lost many opportunities to serve God and he found himself in disobedience.

Saul tried to do a good thing for a good reason, but he failed to trust God- the most important part. If Saul had walked in faith, he would have not been so anxious to make a sacrifice without the man of God.

I challenge you, if you find yourself uncomfortable because of a situation in your life, pray for God’s direction. God wants us to walk in faith. God wants us to trust Him! If we are reacting in fear, we are in sin. It doesn’t matter how “good” the thing is. It doesn’t matter how “good” our intentions are. What matters is our complete trust and total surrender to His will!

“Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Romans 14:23

Human emotion, or sinful response?

Our culture seems to teach that our emotions define us, and that we and our emotions are the same. I’ve heard it said that we should not try to bottle up our emotions, but instead, we should “Be real.” Interesting enough, God does not call us to “Be real” he calls us to be Christlike.

Emotions are an innate part of being human, and emotions aren’t all bad. It is up to us to determine if something we are feeling is human or sinful. One sinful response to a situation is worry.

Worry is a result of fear. It’s that nagging anxious wondering if everything will be alright. When we feel this way, we are in direct opposition to God’s will and plan for our lives.

The Bible tells us in Philippians, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

The word “careful” isn’t referring to safety, it means to be full of cares. To be anxious. To be worrisome. God says that nothing should fill us with worry. But in everything we should ask God our desires from a spirit of thanksgiving.

Worrying is not an excusable human tendency, nor is it a personality type. It’s not something we can push aside and say, “That’s just how I am.” Worrying comes from a heart that disbelieves God. A heart that refuses to trust in His promises.

I challenge you, if you struggle with worry, turn to God right now and confess your fault to Him. Ask God to help you to trust Him, and live in His peace. Ask Him to meet the needs that concern you or resolve the problems you see. Thank Him for His goodness in your life and all He has provided. Lastly, trust His Word! Know that His promises are true, and He will be working everything to the good of those who love Him!

If you will do this, He promises that, “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7

 

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?

Who knows what the future holds

Walking through an antique store surrounded by 200 yr old books and a multitude of curiosities, I chanced upon an interesting find. A large old book lay collecting dust with several other antiques on top of it. After clearing it off, and examining it closer I read, “The Great War.” The book was a catalog of photos chronicling the great war. “What Great War?” World War I of course.

The book had been written before the second World War, and it was a gigantic collection of pictures from the war. While I didn’t have time to sit down and flip through the whole book, something struck me that I realized on a new level. The book was entitled, “The Great War.” Like there was only one. Like there wasn’t going to be another. History lessons flashed through my mind. Wilson’s phrase- “A war to end all wars.” Chamberlain’s words right before WWII – “Peace in our time” The people of that time had no idea what was coming only in a few short years. They thought they knew what the future would hold.

But they didn’t.

In Luke 12 a man saves up and works hard and provides for himself. He says, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” He thought he knew what was coming- but he didn’t. God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee:” He died that night trusting in his riches, and someone else took his wealth.

It’s interesting to note that when someone experiences a car crash, or perhaps a sudden loss, they often come out changed. I’ve had more than one friend experience this. They walk around in a state of revelation in a sort of daze. They say things like- life is so fragile, and you never know what will happen in the next moment. How wise that is.

Today, my challenge is simple. Realize that life is not as predictable as you may think. You don’t know about tomorrow. You don’t know where you may find yourself. The only thing you have to rely on is God and His Word. If you refuse to take security from how things appear, and put your trust in the promises of God, you will not be shaken when your surroundings are. Your strength will be drawn from the Rock of Jesus and the immortal promises of the Lord.

Let us remember the words of God written in James 4.

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”

Let us trust in God, and make every moment count!

 

The source of confusion

Have you ever been in the complete center of God’s will and you knew that you were right with Him- and nothing made sense? You were confused, you didn’t what was going on, you were unsure about many things? Well, you probably can’t relate to such a situation because confusion and God’s will don’t really go hand in hand.

1 Corinthians 14:33 spells it out very clearly for us when it says, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” Confusion is not something we are given from God as a reward for faithful service. Confusion is usually a result of sin.

Proverbs 4:19 says, “The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.” This “confusion” is contrasted with: “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” The idea of “perfect” here means established. So the wicked stumble and fall at unknown things, but the righteous or just, continually become more and more established.

My question for you today is simple. Is there confusion in your life?

If you are finding yourself repeatedly confused about issues in your life, or you’ve been having problems and you’re not really sure why, you may have been inviting confusion into your life by unholy living. Life isn’t difficult to understand. Life is simple. Honor God and serve Him. Cast your cares upon Him. Trust Him to handle everything.

If you find yourself in a pattern of confusion, unsure feelings, and doubt you may have some unconfessed sin in your life. Ask God to reveal what you must turn from in order to walk in the light again. God knows just what you need and knows just how to help you. You never need to live in any manner of confusion or doubt.

God doesn’t want you to live in any form of confusion or darkness. Don’t ever settle with that sort of condition! Live in the light as God intended you to!

Be righteous, and your afflictions will be many

Even if you are a faithful and obedient Christian who loves the Lord and follows His statutes, there will be times of trouble and trial. And God tells us those times will be many.

Psalm 34:19 tells us, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.” – Psalm 34:19

Look at David! He was a man after God’s own heart. As He was following the Lord, He was betrayed, plotted against, and hunted down by the king like a wild animal.

Paul was a great apostle, and while he was doing God’s work, he was subjected to all sorts of trials. Shipwreck, beaten at least 8 times, subjected to the ocean for a day and a half, bitten by a poisonous snake, and even stoned.

It is easy for us to complain. To mutter. To feel bad for ourselves when things like this happen. But that isn’t the right way. We must trust in the second part of the verse. We must put our faith in the Lord that He will deliver us. And when He does, others will see His goodness, we will be stronger and more devoted servants, and our faith and his faithfulness will ring out His glory for all eternity.

So I challenge you, when your many afflictions come- and they will come- Trust in God. Fear Him. Honor Him. Don’t allow yourself to be conquered by the enemy and wander in a desert of self pity or fear. Put your trust in the Holy God whose strength is beyond measure and whose power is without compare. He will deliver. He will save. And we will praise His name!

“But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble. And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.” – Psalm 37:39-40

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” – Romans 8:18

“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

Praying to be persecuted?

As Christians, we often like to think things of our God that are not really correct. For instance, most Christians around the world do not consider religious persecution a good thing. But in fact, the Christians enduring persecution around the world often consider persecution a blessing. They ask for prayer, not to stop the persecution, but that God would give them strength to endure. Sometimes, they even pray that God would send persecution to places such as America so that the apathetic church would be purified.

You see, our perspective is not always right. Our thoughts, are not God’s thoughts. He is higher. He is greater. His understanding is so vastly greater that we can’t always fathom what goes on in the mind of God. Sometimes, we think that a worldly perspective of an "easy" time is a good idea. This isn’t exactly right.

Psalm 34:19 says, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous." We might look at that verse and be taken aback. Aren’t the righteous those who are serving God? Why would God allow them to have affliction? Doesn’t that sound inconsistent with God’s love for His people? From our perspective perhaps, but we don’t have the full picture. In fact, I didn’t even quote the whole verse.

The rest of the verse says, "But the Lord delivereth him out of them all." God will not leave His people in affliction. He won’t forget them. He’s right there with them. He allows it for a purpose. When God allows affliction in our lives, and then delivers us out of it, we get to see his kindness. Imagine how much affliction He protects us from! Also, The troubles of this life act like a refiners fire to make us stronger.

Like Paul said in Romans, "We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;" – Romans 5:3

There’s no substitute for . . .

Many years ago, a famous American general, Douglas MacArthur spoke. He said over and over again, "There is no substitute for victory." He was speaking about how someone should wage war. In the Christian life, we are in a war against the world, our flesh, and the devil. Our warfare is not carnal, but it is just as real.

In our Christian lives, there is no substitute for truth.

In John 17, Jesus is praying to the Father. He is praying for us! He prays that we would remain in the world, but that we would be separate from them. His plan is revealed in the plea to the Father in verse 17, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth."

In short, Jesus prayed that we would remain in the world, but that His Holy Word, would continue to cleanse us and set us apart for service. That truth He was speaking of is the Bible. God’s Word is essential to the Christian life.

We need God’s Word to permeate our lives, and cleanse us and make us new. God’s Word is our lifeline. Fellow Christian, I would challenge you, realize that there is no substitute for truth. There is no substitute for God’s Word. If we are to succeed in our lives, we need God’s Word. As a Christian, you cannot substitute God’s Word with people’s advice, psychology, or even Godly devotionals. God’s Word is the only thing that can sanctify us for His service.

Won’t you spend time in God’s truth today?

Unseen consequences

Yesterday when I was at work I made a pretty bad mistake. It wasn’t my first, or my second. There were consequences for my mistake. My workplace has consequences and documentation for every mistake made. Your third mistake is a suspended shift.

As I was walking to work, I was thinking about the consequences of a shift suspension. I really didn’t want to have one, so I was praying that it could be resolved without one. For me, the suspension was something I really wanted to avoid.

The Lord really spoke to my heart and that’s what I want to share with you. You see, I was so focused on this suspension that I thought that it in itself would be a terrible thing. The Lord used it to show me something. It was almost like He was asking me, "Do you only regret disobedience when there’s a punishment involved?" That got me thinking, because I wasn’t as upset about my mistake as I was upset about the punishment.

The second question that the Spirit posed in my mind was more revealing, and even more convicting. "Don’t you think that you made that mistake because you weren’t doing your work ‘heartily, as unto the Lord.’ Do you really believe that a suspension is the only consequence for not doing your work unto God and not unto men?"

This really got me. I’ve realized that no matter if there are visible consequences for our sin, there are always consequences. We never "get away" with anything. So my challenge for you is this: next time you consider disobeying God’s law, or you belittle some sin because you can’t see the consequences, really think about what you are doing. Inviting sin into your life is to invite corruption and confusion. There will always be consequences.

Are you sure you want them?

"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;" – Colossians 3:23

"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

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 6:7-8