You Have To Let Me See

One of the toughest journeys of life is grief – whether it be from the loss of a loved one, a divorce, the loss of health, or a tragic occurrence – grief is tough to handle. Outwardly we can walk into a crowd and no one knows the pain we are feeling inside. I’ve stood in the check-out line at Walmart and just noticed people, wondering how many are dealing with unspeakable pain within. The outward journey of grief is difficult in and of itself, but the inward journey is even harder.

I once heard someone say, “To heal it you have to feel it.”

The quote is partially true. When we deny the pain and suffering of our loss on the inside, we are avoiding the inward journey of healing. As a pastor I have spent countless hours talking with people about grief. It isn’t a subject anyone enjoys. The pain is very real and at times, I feel as the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 22, “My strength is gone, gone like water spilled on the ground. All my bones are out of joint; my heart is like melted wax.”

Help comes to us when we reach out for the help of God. It sounds simple, but it isn’t. It is a natural instinct to want to protect that which hurts. I remember as a boy having a bicycle wreck and not wanting my neighbor to even look at my knee it hurt so bad. She would say over and over again,”Mike, you have to let me see it in order to help you.”

I was a little boy and believed if I kept it covered up, I could protect the injury and the pain. We are like that with God as well. As long as we cover the pain and suffering, we are pretending to be self-sufficient, isolating ourselves from God and the world.

But when we open our grieving hearts to God, allow Him to touch our pain, give Him the freedom to move in and through us, the healing begins.

Tragedy does alter us. No one can ever “be the same” after a tragic event, but we can learn to courageously live with what has occurred. We can begin the process of moving forward, of healing, of accepting what has been done, and believing in God’s ability to turn what was meant to harm us to good.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”  Genesis 50:20.


Moving Miraculously

John 2:1-7, “On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

4 “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.”

I love the miracles of Jesus. Of all of them, this is probably my favorite because it says so much for us today. When Mary goes to Jesus with the dilemma, she instructs the servants to do whatever He tells them to do. Think about that for a moment. These are not Mary’s servants. They do not know who Jesus is or what He is capable of doing; and yet, their hearts are willing to do whatever He tells them to do.

There are some stone water jars nearby used by the Jews for ceremonial washing. These are not small jars when you consider they are capable of holding 20 to 30 gallons of water. That’s heavy. When He tells them to fill the stone jars with water, the servants filled them to the brim.

Some of you are looking for God to move in your life miraculously. Maybe you need healing or an answer to a financial problem or help with your children. Maybe your home is near foreclosure or in foreclosure. Maybe your business is going under or you need money for an education or you lost your job. Whatever the issue, whatever the need, are you filling your stone jars to the brim? When I think about these servants, I realize, Jesus didn’t tell them how much water to put in the stone jars. Some of you would probably only put 1/4 of the way full; some of you, only 1/2. But they went the extra mile and filled it to the brim.

I know I’m speaking to someone out there, God has asked you to do something very specific but you aren’t doing it. If the servants had not filled the stone jars with water, there wouldn’t be wine. Jesus needed them to do something so He would do something.

There have been times in my life when God has instructed me to do something and I really didn’t understand at all why He would asked me to do that; but I did it anyway. I filled my stone jars to the brim and received His blessing.

I want to encourage you today to listen to what God is instructing you to do. You can hear Him through prayer, the Bible, the peace within you, through others, or some other way. God is limitless. Do what He is telling you to do!

I recently visited a friend in the hospital. He told me God had been telling him to lose 50 pounds for over a year and he didn’t do it. Now he faced by-pass surgery and his physician told him if he didn’t lose 50 pounds he was going to die. Through tears he explained he knew God wanted him to do a particular thing for the Kingdom. We prayed together and as I left the hospital he asked me, “Do you think God will give me the chance this time to do what He asked me to do?”

Don’t miss your miracle because you are too stubborn or too frustrated or too unwilling or too whatever to fill your stone jars to the brim. Your miracle awaits. Don’t lose your chance.


What the World Says About Us

It is time that you enjoy God’s best for your life. He wants to give you His favor. He wants to extend kindness to us even though none of us deserve it; but He wants to bless our lives and show us favor because we are His children.

Genesis 39:3-4, “And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight…”

Job 10:12, “You have granted me life and favor, and Your care has preserved my spirit.”

Psalm 5:12, “For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield.”

Psalm 23, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Numbers 6:25-26, “The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace. “

We have to find a way to believe what God’s Words say about us more than we believe what the world says about us. When the negative comments come our way; when failed businesses define us; when our grades don’t display our efforts; when people misunderstand us or exclude us; when our thoughts tell us we are worthless, God’s Word must hold true in our hearts. Self-doubt causes us to put stock in those around us and not God. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,    I know that full well.” – Psalm 139:14. You are no accident but designed and created uniquely. You are an incredible creation of God!

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” – Jeremiah 33:3

Today, realize who you are in Christ. Tell yourself that you walk in God’s favor; that you are the child of the King of kings; and you are loved more than you can imagine.


I am weary…

Psalm 6:6-8, “I am weary with my sighing; Every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears.  My eye has wasted away with grief; It has become old because of all my adversaries.  Depart from me, all you who do iniquity, For the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping.”

All of us at some point or another feel this way. Life has overtaken us. Desperation has planted itself deep within our hearts. Despondency knocks at our door. Putting one foot in front of the other is difficult. Some of you may be waking up to such despair; but, the Lord has heard your weeping.

The enemy of our soul deceives us. Evilness wants us to doubt God’s ability to hear us; doubt His ability to pull us from the pit in which we find ourselves. Negative thought patterns begin to weigh us down and stress tempts us to do things we wouldn’t ordinarily consider.

No matter how many times you’ve cried out to Him; no matter how many times He has come to your rescue; He will hear you again. There isn’t a limit. He isn’t tired of you.

Today, do not allow the negative, hopeless, faithless attitude to steal the joy of the Lord from you. Trust in God’s power not only to help you resist the devil but also to overcome him.


Waiting on the Lord

Luke 1: 19-20, “The angel answered, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.”

Some of the toughest words to hear in this verse are “…will come true at their proper time.” Waiting for what we believe God has promised us can be difficult, even when the promise is delivered by an angel. Prayers go unanswered. Time ticks by. We wonder if God even hears us! Zechariah and Elizabeth had been waiting year-after-year for a baby. Now, after Elizabeth has passed childbearing years, an angel appears and tells Zechariah they will have a son.

My dad has always told us, “If God is going to do something in your life, He’s usually going to make you wait.” In the case of Zechariah and Elizabeth, the chosen parents of John the Baptist, He knew the perfect time. Zechariah and Elizabeth did not.

Waiting on God’s proper time creates in us a desire, a thirst, a dependence on God. If over the years that Zechariah prayed for Elizabeth to conceive, God had sent him a blueprint, a concise plan, a future glimpse, would they have relied on God? Would their faith have been as strong? Could they have been the parents He needed them to be for John the Baptist? Would they have depended on Him for support? Probably not.

In life there will be times when we have to wait. It isn’t important why we are waiting or how long we are waiting; what is important? God’s plan is being put into motion whether we can see it or not. His promises will be delivered to us, in the proper time.  So hang in there.  Your answer is coming. 


A Different Drummer

Henry David Thoreau wrote, “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.”

I often think of this quote because I compare it to the walk of a Christian. Christians walk to the beat of a different drum. We aren’t mainstream. We are different. We do not act and do as the world does. We do as our Father in Heaven tells us to do. Faith is the reason we walk “out-of-step” from the world because our answers are not in the world but in our faith.

One of my favorite chapters to read of the Bible when I am discouraged is Chapter 11 of Hebrews. It is the book that tells us about those who have gone before us and exhibited faith and overcome great obstacles for the glory of God. I call it the “By Faith” chapter.

Hebrews 11:7, “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.”

Hebrews 11:23, “By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.”

Hebrews 11:29, “By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.”

There is something about the phrase, “By faith” that fills my heart with determination and helps me to see solutions. All the answers to every problem we face is in those two simple words, “By faith.” What then does faith mean? Many people have thoughts about faith. Some see faith as a wish. Some see faith as a positive feeling or optimism. Others see it as a declaration of what we want to happen. Faith can be misunderstood.

God explains to us what faith means in verses 1 and 2 of chapter 11 in Hebrews.

Hebrews 11:1-2, “Now faith is confidence… and assurance…2 This is what the ancients were commended for.”

Confidence and assurance – that’s it. Confidence to know God is going to work all things for our good. Assurance to know His word is true.

Noah kept hammering and building; hammering and building. The Israelites kept walking, step by step, with soldiers behind them and a wall of water around them. Moses’ mom put him in a papyrus basket in the Nile River because she knew he was no ordinary child.

By confidence…by assurance…by faith.

Have confidence the answer to your problem is on the way. Be assured God knows what you need and when you need. Trust in his timing. Exercise your faith, today.

 


The Good Fight

Have you ever thought what the flip side of victory is? Some of you may say defeat but actually it is warfare. Without a fight, there is no victory. 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

When we stand firm it means we are unmovable, steadfast, and faithful. Like David who charged after Goliath, in order to experience victory, we must not give up the battle. We cannot let the enemy wear us down.

I’m a sports fan, particularly football and baseball. Like football, in order to win the game there has to be an opponent. What would it be like if our favorite team walked out on the field, threw a few passes to one another, and the coach shouts, “Alright team! Good game! Shower up!” Would you even be a fan?

Life is like football. The battles bring the victories. The question arises though, who is the enemy and what is our weapon? Since the rebellion of Satan and his dismissal from Heaven by God along with 1/3 of the angels, we have been engaged in combat. Satan’s mission? “to steal, kill, and destroy all that belongs to God and is Godly.

The weapons at your disposal? Prayer, scriptures, fasting, faith, the name of Jesus, the blood of Jesus, the gifts of the Spirit, and anointing. You are also not alone. Jesus tells us that He is our advocate and He actually prays for all believers from the time He leaves the earth until He returns, so we will stand as one against Satan. John 17:20-23, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” He is praying for you and me.

When we fight for the Lord, our labor is not in vain. Victory will come to us, as long as we do not quit. Isaiah 40:29-31, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”     

Remember you are fighting the good fight. Today, focus on the weapons you have to defeat the enemy of your soul. Arm yourself and charge. Victory is at hand.