Monthly Archives: August 2013

The flip side of victory

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 message, 21 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.

The Anxiety Counterattack

Psalm 20: “May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May He send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion. May He remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings. May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

May the Lord grant all your requests.

Now this I know:     The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of His right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. Lord, give victory to the king!  Answer us when we call!

Anxiety hits all of us at some point in our lives. Some of us have learned to handle it better than others. God does not want us to be anxious about anything. When we find ourselves in distress, Psalm 20 can bring us the comfort we need. I used to have a friend who carried this Psalm around in his wallet. I often saw him pull it out before football games. The greatest part of this scripture is found in verse 7.

Some of us trust our cars more than God. Some of us trust our jobs more than God. Some of us trust our homes, our education, our friends, our looks or our money. We are putting our faith in the wrong things. None of those things can save you!

God tells us the way to attack anxiety is to trust in the name of the Lord our God. It is that simple.

Today, reflect on Psalm 20. Outwardly speak the words of affirmations – “I do not trust in chariots or horses…NO! I trust in the name of the Lord my God.” Try it the next time you feel worried. See what a difference it can make.

Growth or Stagnation?

2 Peter 1:5-8 tell us, “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The work of salvation is a work that begins with God. Peter explains in verses 3 and 4, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” He is telling us, God has given us the gift of faith, life, and great promises; but, when we get to verse 5, Peter begins to explain “our” responsibilities. And he does it in such a way like climbing a ladder or participating in a mathematical equation.

When I was in elementary school, one of my favorite teachers loved math. I think probably she developed my love for mathematics as well. At the beginning of class, she would set a timer and verbally give us a mathematical equation. The person who completed it and got the right answer was the class leader for the day. 232 -12 + 15 -3 x 10 -2088 = ? The more complicated the problem the harder I worked to get the right answer and be the person who led the class to lunch and recess. I learned quickly, if I took each step, I could do the problem as she called it out and win.

Peter is telling us through HIS divine power (God) has given us everything we need for a godly life. In order to get there, we must use this simple addition formula: faith + goodness + knowledge + self-control + perseverance = godliness. When we reach godliness we have mutual affection and love. When we have these qualities, we are no longer ineffective or unproductive = excellence in God.

Too many of us are riding on the belief of the sinner’s prayer. We have our ticket and that’s it. But God wants more from us and for us. Peter stresses two routes for the Christian, growth or stagnation. There is nothing in between.

Today, evaluate your walk with Jesus Christ. Where are you on the ladder? Maybe it is time you took a step higher. My grandmother told me, “Michael, the best fruit is always at the top of the tree, the hardest to reach.” Start climbing your ladder to reach the richness God has for you in your life. It is up to you.

He wants to bless you

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.

Longing for a break-through

There is a story in 2 Kings 4 about a woman who is considered in the Bible as a “great” woman or a “well-to-do” woman. She opened her home up to Elisha anytime he comes to town. This woman actually prepared a room for him in her home and cooked meals for him. One day Elisha called her to him because he realized how much she had done for him, and he wanted to do something for her. He wanted to bless her life in some way. The Bible tells us that Elisha was resting on his bed in her home thinking about ways to help her and in verse 13 he asks, “You have gone to all this trouble for us. Now what can be done for you? Can we speak on your behalf to the king or the commander of the army?” Her answer to him is very straight forward. She tells him she is fine, and she doesn’t ask him for anything.

But Elisha doesn’t let the issue drop. He wants something more for her, and he inquires with a servant to see if there is a need or desire. The servant tells him that the woman has wanted a child for a long time but has not been able to have one. Elisha instructs the servant to call her to him again, and as she stands in the doorway of his room he tells her, “’About this time next year,’ Elisha said, ‘you will hold a son in your arms.’

‘No, my lord!’ she objected. ‘Please, man of God, don’t mislead your servant!’”

Interestingly, she knows Elisha is a man of God, and a great prophet. She heard of the miracles he has performed. It is obvious because she has gone out of her way to provide and give to him a place to stay and food. Not that she wanted anything from him in return, but because she respected who he was. Here he is offering to give to her what she desires but she objects. It is easy to read between the lines of her objection. She has probably longed for a child for so long; prayed for a child; thought and dreamed of having a child; and maybe after all this time, she just can’t take the disappointment – not again. Instead of believing what Elisha said, she puts up her guard and refuses to accept it. She objects to God’s blessing because she doesn’t want to believe in the possibility.

I wonder how many of you can relate to her pain. I know I can. How many of you have hoped and prayed and longed for your break-through miracle and it just hasn’t come. Maybe you are objecting too.

But do you know, even when we do not have the strength to believe in the possibility, God wants to bless us anyway? You and I may give up, but God doesn’t.  God knows our desires; He knows our dreams; He knows our hopes. Even though we don’t want to go there anymore; we don’t want to be disappointed; we don’t want to stick our heart out one more time; God says, “Do it anyways! Objection overruled!”

2 Kings 4:17, “But the woman became pregnant, and the next year about that same time she gave birth to a son, just as Elisha had told her.”

You may be waiting on an answer even now from God or you may have given up on ever having what you long to have. Maybe its a baby; or restoration of marriage; or a spouse; or an education; or healing. Whatever it is, don’t give up. Don’t quit. Don’t object to the blessing because you don’t want to believe in it. When we do for God, He will bless us in ways we could never imagine.

Your miracle is coming.

Say thank you!

Psalm 65:9-10, “You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it. 10 You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops.”

From the time David, Daniel, and Reneé were little, my wife Connie and I have encouraged gratitude: “Say thank you!” “David, did you say thank you?” “Remember your thank you’s Daniel!” And it wasn’t just a one time reminder either. At times it seemed constant.

We are not born with an ingrained gratitude trait. Graciousness is learned. Even now, as an adult, I need to be reminded at times too.

How often do we really thank God. Without rain, nothing would grow. All too often we go to the grocery store and fill our carts with yummy produce, not looking up once to thank Him for the rain and the sun and the trees that provided it. We just complain that Bell Peppers are .85 a piece and almonds are $8.00 a pound.

Very few of us know what it is like to be hungry. The most any of us have to wait to eat is standing in a line at the buffet table or stuck behind five or six cars at McDonald’s drive-thru. We spout off learned blessings at dinner and follow the Amen with, “Pass the potatoes!” And it all comes from Him. He provides it all.

Take time today to thank Him for the land your feet walk on; the rain which grows our grass, flowers, and crops. Thank Him for the green leaves on the trees, the fruit, the vines, the fresh vegetables, and the grain. Thank Him for the flowing rivers and oceans, the ice-cold water on a hot summer day, and the delicious tasting watermelon. He loves us so much to provide such variety and such abundance.

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah

Talk… Sometimes it can be pretty cheap. We convince ourselves: “Tomorrow, I’m going to get this house cleaned up!” or “Next week I’m going to start exercising and eating right.” Maybe its comments about your children and family: “I’m going to start putting my wife first and spending more time with my kids.” Or it could be about church and God: “When my schedule loosens up, I’ll be able to go church!” or “When life slows down a bit, I’ll start reading the Bible.”

Blah, blah, blah, blah blah…we must sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher in the cartoon Peanuts to God. He knows it and we know it; those promises are a bunch of bologna.

Mark 7:6-8, “He replied, ‘Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.’”

Who do you give your devotion? Your job? The Little League Baseball Championships? Your car? What is out there that pulls you away from God? Your career? Your education? Alcohol? An affair? What?

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:6-9, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

Some of us are forgetting who makes all things possible. It isn’t your job or the Little League Baseball Championship; it isn’t your career or your education or alcohol or the affair – what makes life have meaning is God. When our devotion is misplaced, we do not see the truth. We use our lips to honor God to make us feel better, and we use our actions to honor ourselves.

Today, ask God to be front and center in your life. Start doing what you say you are going to do. Stop making empty promises. Honor God with your life – not your lips.