In the Eyes of God

1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

The other day I spoke with a young man who is a student at Harvard University. He laughed with me, “You think being a southerner isn’t tough enough at Harvard, try being a Christian on top of that.” He went on to describe the bantering he receives because of his belief. “At times, I don’t feel qualified to answer their questions, but somehow God seems to find a way for me to say what I need to say.”

It can be intimidating to be around people whose IQ measures the same numbers as my mortgage payment. The Bible tells us, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” To put it simply, God in His dumbest moment (which doesn’t happen, but for the sake of argument) is smarter than the world’s wisest man and God in His weakest moment (again, which doesn’t happen) is stronger than the world’s strongest man.

Some of the smartest people I know, do not “get” the Cross; and therefore, they are the dumbest people I know. If you are one of those people, I apologize for the insult but you are perishing.

There comes a time when we have to realize, people who aren’t with Christ; people who criticize the word of God; people who do not understand the power of the Cross; those people are perishing.

Paul adds that “God has made foolish the wisdom of the world.” Some of you today think you have all the answers. Some of you may even ridicule those who live by the Cross; those who are directed and guided by Christ. One day, I pray your eyes will be opened and the intelligence you profess today; the so-called ‘smartness’ you think you’ve gained from the world will become what it is in the eyes of God – foolishness.

The foolishness of the world masquerades itself as peer pressure, political correctness, book smarts, cultural norms, scientific knowledge, whatever you want to call it. It is, however, an inability to acknowledge and accept the truths of God.

Today, pray for God to open your eyes to any spiritual blindness you may have. Spiritual wisdom enlightens and redeems us; uplifts us; brings light into our lives. Ask God to help you know the areas you need to strengthen through the Word. Ask God to make you wise in Him.


So that He can lift it up

Psalm 3:3-4, “But you are my shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the Lord I cry aloud, and He answers me from His holy hill.”

When I was a boy, often things did not work out the way I thought they should.  During those times of disappointment, my grandmother would say, “Hold your head up” or, “Keep your chin up.” In verse 3 of Psalm 3, David isn’t saying this; he is actually saying the opposite. In order for God to deliver us, we have to be willing to bow our head in humility and surrender so that He can lift it up.

Have you ever been in a situation where you just couldn’t turn it over to God? Maybe you did a little, but you held on to a piece of it? David is telling us in Psalm 3 that God is our shield – a shield all around us, front, side, and back. He will give us victory, and He will lift up our head; but in order for Him to do so, we must humble ourselves before Him, seek His help, and surrender to His will.

People in denial are some of the most interesting people I know. The outside world looks at them and utters, “How can they not see it? It’s so obvious!” Yet, they see only what they want to see. “My ex-husband, it is all his fault! I did nothing wrong.”  “Well, if I had just had a better childhood…” “If we just had stiffer gun control laws…” “It wouldn’t be right for me to speak about God in the work place…” “I can’t do what’s right, I want my friends to accept me…” Sound familiar?

God won’t step in until you move over, bow in surrender, and give Him access.

Have you ever met someone who is just determine to get even with those who wronged him or her? Bitterness and anger become front and center in their lives. The sad part is they can’t see it. God won’t deliver justice when we are walking around like peacocks validating ourselves, justifying our every move, and playing as if we were Him. David knows, until he cries out for help, until he acknowledges God’s ability, until he bows his head before Him, God will remain silent. But when, “I cry aloud…He answers.”

Some of us need to bow down before God in humility, recognizing our need for His help. Some of us need to turn the reins over to God and get ourselves straightened out. Understand this, there is no power capable of plucking you from the hand of God when you entrust yourself to His care.


the BIGGER picture

Has your life ever taken a turn that left you stupefied – standing in the road in utter shock as to how things could possibly turned out this way? I can imagine it is how the disciples must have felt as they saw Jesus being arrested, beaten, and crucified. He was the miracle worker! He was their King! Had they misinterpreted His actions that much? Had others been right about Him? Was He not who they thought He was?

Sometimes we make a decision we believe is from God. We’ve gone to Him in prayer. We’ve studied His word. We feel assured He is with us. Suddenly, out of nowhere, it turns bad and we don’t understand. Were we that off-base? Is God really who we thought He is?

I am a big believer in “the BIGGER picture.” While we may feel we are the ones going through the fire, God knows different. Maybe He is sparing us from something far more tragic than the supposed failure before us. Maybe He is preparing for something much better than we imagined. Maybe what we see as failure is a stepping stone to a greater purpose.

Jeremiah 29:11 reads, “‘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.'”

Those are not just words to make us feel better.

In the South, we often greet people, “How are ya?” Everyone knows it isn’t literal. No one would ever stop and say, “Well, my bursitis is flaring up and my septic tank overflowed and flooded the basement.” The response is, “I’m good, you?” And when we depart from one another we add, “Come see me!” No one would ever say, “OK. When? How ’bout Friday night?” The response is, “We’ll do!”

When God says He knows the plans He has for you, He means it! When He says He will prosper you and not harm you, He means it!

The next time your plans don’t fall into place as you expected, praise God for it! He is either preventing you from something painful down the road, setting you up for something much better, or using the process as a step-up to something you’ve never even thought. God is our hope for the future.

When you ask, “What happened?” Know this, God happened. And I’m so grateful He did.


May your God rescue you!

Daniel 6:19 reads, “At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God,whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”

Aren’t we all a little like King Darius in the story of Daniel and the lions’ den? An edict was issued that any person who prays to any god or man in the next 30 days other than the king would be thrown into the lions’ den. The basis of this decree was actually a plot against Daniel because he was rising in favor with the king. They knew the only way to ‘get’ Daniel and discredit him would be to throw interference in the laws of his God. Daniel was known for his devotion and love of God.

Daniel learns of the decree but continues to openly pray and worship God. When the king’s advisors come to him and tell him that Daniel is breaking the law, Darius is very distressed and tries greatly to save him. “When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed: he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him” – Daniel 6: 14.

The king is forced to give the order, and Daniel is thrown into the lions’ den. The king says to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” – Daniel 6:16.

Often, we are a lot like King Darius. We want to believe that God can rescue us. We want to believe that everything is going to work out. We dare to hope, but when it comes down to it, we refuse. In the back of our minds, we are looking up with a ‘prove it’ mentality. Some of us may even get angry at God, shaking our fists in the air like children, and turning our backs on Him. “Look at the mess I’m in! And I serve you?”

Do you know the entire night, the king did not sleep? I wonder if it is because he wanted so desperately to believe in the possibility of Daniel’s rescue, and yet he wasn’t strong enough to admit it. I can imagine his thoughts, “Is it possible for this God Daniel serves to be for real?”

What about you? When faced with the lions’ den, do you believe God will rescue you or do you sit back with a wait and see mentality of doubt?

Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

I am sure that Daniel willingly approach the lions’ den too. He wasn’t kicking and screaming or death gripping the ground. Daniel knew God would deliver him. He had no doubts.

In the morning, in an anguished voice, King Darius calls down into the pit. Do you think that King Darius did that for every execution? No. More than likely, no one ever checked on the victims. No, Darius wanted to believe but couldn’t find the courage to do so.

Are you a Darius or a Daniel? When trials come your way, how do you respond? Do you require God to prove His faithfulness to you? Or do you step into the lions’ den, knowing the God you serve will rescue you from the power of the lions?

Believe today your God will shut the mouths of the lions in your life. Faith is not an act for when times are good; faith is knowing no matter what happens in your life, your God “rescues and saves.”


You light up my life

Matthew 4:14-16, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Many of you will remember a song sung by Debbie Boone called You Light Up My Life. My mom loved it. I can remember her singing it around the house. The chorus went something like this, “And you Light  up my life. You give me  hope, to carry on. You light up my days and fill my nights with song.” I probably shouldn’t mention the fact that, as a young teenage boy, I thought Debbie Boone was incredibly attractive, but I really didn’t get the lyrics of her song.

One of my buddies from school invited me to his church one Sunday night. They had something called, “Secret Destination” after church. As the name implies, it was a secret. Each week, the youth would receive hints as to where they were going so as to have sufficient money and clothing. When the church van pulled up to a concert hall, and I realized I would be hearing Pat Boone speak and Debbie Boone sing, you can only imagine my excitement. Of course, as all of us anticipated, she came on stage, a single spotlight shining down on her, to open with, “So many nights, I sit by my window. Waiting for someone to sing me his song…”

She closed by saying these simple words, “Be a light to someone.” It spoke to my heart in ways I could not explain. Jesus came to be the light of the world. We in turn are expected to let His light shine through us.

Whose light are you? If the question were posed to your friends or family, would they say your name? Some of us don’t know if we are or not. Some of us might even wonder, who is a light in our own lives? Let’s make a decision to start today being the light Jesus has called us to be.


Change a life forever

Acts 3:1-7, “One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts.When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.”

This story in Acts intrigues me for several reasons. It is interesting that there is a man who has been crippled since birth and people helped him daily by bringing him to the Temple gate called Beautiful.  Why?  So he could beg to acquire the basic necessities of life. I assume, they would pick him up at the end of the day and take him home as well. What a blessing these people were to him.  Without the coins he received each day, he would not be able to live.  Without their help getting there, he would struggle to survive.

When he sees Peter and John, he asks them for money. Peter and John do not have silver or gold to give him; instead, they tell him “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Those words give me chills because of the power behind them. They take the man’s right hand, help him to his feet, and he takes off on strong feet and ankles.  His life has forever changed.

Which was the better help for this man? There is no way to answer that because both acts offered him assistance; yet, Peter and John’s way changed his life.

It brings me to this thought: how often do we encounter people struggling with life, and we want to help them in some way. We see what they need to change themselves, but it is easier to bring them to the Temple gate to beg instead of truly changing their lives. Maybe we do not feel comfortable telling them about Jesus of Nazareth, the King of kings and Lord of lords. We would rather offer sweet words and move on. When is the last time you’ve asked someone if they have Jesus in their life or is it just easier to drop a coin in the cup and walk on by.

I feel stronger than ever that we must become people with the faith and vision to take someone’s right hand, help him to his feet, and in the name of Jesus of Nazareth tell him to walk – in the fullness of Christ, in faith, in obedience, in a life centered by God.

Who needs your help today? Will you drop a coin and pass by, or will you change their life forever? Think about it.


Fellowship with Me

Have you ever started to pray and your mind just wandered off to your problems? Even before you say, “Good morning, Lord,” you are engaged in all that is wrong; what you have done; what has been done to you; what is the answer; how can you ever get out of this mess; and on and on and on. Do you ever wonder if God wants to interrupt us and say, “Praise Me! Glorify My Name! Talk to Me. Fellowship with Me and not your problems.”

Really, He has already told us He is with us. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” – Matthew 28:20.

He has already told us He is for us. “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” – Romans 8:38.

He has already told us He is our protector. “Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead-end— Because I am God, your personal God…” -Isaiah 43:1-4

What more do we need? What more assurance could He give us?

I don’t know about you, but I want to fellowship with God. I want to walk by faith, even when I can’t see what is ahead of me. Even when life has stung me and bruised me, I want to see my Father’s face. And though the world may toss me about, I want to know that there is NO dead-end with God.

Today as you go to God in prayer, fellowship with Him, not your problems. He knows what you need before you even ask. By faith, spend time today simply praising His Name – the Name above all names.


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