Monthly Archives: September 2013

Taking matter into our own hands

Psalm 37:5-9, “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land. “

It can be hard when someone who has hurt us seems to prosper. I don’t think there is anyone who has lived life a little who doesn’t understand the grief and heartache of watching the person who hurt him or her appear to be winning.

God tells us in Psalm 37, if we will commit ourselves to Him; if we will put the situation in His hands and wait for His answer, “we will inherit the land.”

Taking matter into our own hands leads to sin; and sin will destroy you and me if we allow it in our lives.

I had an experience many years ago when a person I trusted betrayed me financially. After getting over the initial shock of being wronged, I stood back and watched as this man continued to prosper even though he cheated many people – including me! This verse became front and center in my mind because I knew, that I knew, that I knew, God would handle it for me – in His own time. As the years passed, I actually began to forget the pain of that time and move on. I ran into this person a few years ago. It was as if he had never done anything wrong. My heart wanted to shake a fist in his face and give him a piece of my mind, but trusting God when He has asked me to wait, is more important.

I don’t know if he will ever “get” what he deserves, but it’s really not for me to know. What I have to control is how I act, not how he acts.

If you are struggling with someone; if someone has hurt you; think on Psalm 37. Pray and ask God to help you forgive and move on. He loves you more than you can imagine. I pray you find peace and forgiveness for the wrongs done to you. Trust God to set the record straight.


By faith ____________,

Hebrews 11:17-19, “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’ 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.”

The story of Abraham is one of the most lesson-filled stories in the Bible to me. It is one of those stories that I read and wonder how Abraham could actually have followed through with God’s instructions. In Genesis 22, God directs Abraham to take his son, Isaac – the son God had promised him he’d receive at an old age; the son who would give Abraham descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky – and sacrifice him on an altar.

I don’t know about you, but such an instruction from God would be extremely difficult for me. I cannot say with certainty I would do it. Imagine, walking along side your son, your precious boy, knowing you are going to kill him. Imagine answering his questions, “Daddy, where is the sacrifice? Where are we going?”

Genesis 22: 3-5, “Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, ‘Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.’”

There are times in our lives when we face obstacles that seem impossible to overcome. Death comes unexpectedly of a loved one; we lose a home to fire; we lose a job; health issues; trouble  comes like a hurricane – out of nowhere. In times like these, we have to remember Abraham.

Do you know how Abraham marched up that hill, carrying wood, a knife, with his son beside him? Because he gave God credit; he calculated all God’s goodness; he knew God had a plan. If God wanted him to sacrifice Isaac, then God would raise Isaac from the dead. He didn’t doubt God’s ability or God’s goodness; and even in this potentially horrific situation, God would not forsake him.

In verse 5 of Genesis 22, when Abraham addresses his servant, notice he replies, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then WE will come back to you.” He reasoned in his head the ability of the God he served. His faith in that God saw him through the trial.

Some of you are facing similar tests or trials in your life. You may feel weary and disheartened, but don’t. The God of Abraham is the God of your life too. He will turn for good that which is meant to destroy. He will rise above your anguish and heartache. He will bring joy in the morning, not because He has to do so, because He wants to do so.

Declare this morning By faith _______________, (fill in your name), overcame the trial, the heartache, the illness, the lose. Calculate God’s goodness in your life. He will not forsake you.


Reaching out to your neighbor

In today’s world, I don’t know if there is anything more pertinent than our reaching out to our neighbors with the love of Christ.

Mark 12:28-31, “One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’

‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Sometimes it can be confusing. Who exactly is our neighbor? And is it really possible to love our neighbor as ourself?

Steps to becoming a Good Neighbor:

1. Loving our neighbor means putting our needs aside.

When we love our neighbor as we should, we are showing a selfless act, an admittance that demonstrates divine love in ways nothing else can. Showing love to our neighbor is the best example of Godliness there is. When Jesus came to walk with us here on earth, He came as a servant to all mankind. We, in turn, are to be servants to others, demonstrating a Godly love. Whether or not the person to whom you are showing love accepts it or not, it is still our responsibility and duty as Godly people.

2. Who is our neighbor in God’s eyes?

 

When Jesus was asked this question, He told the story of the Good Samaritan. Once I heard a story of a Sunday School teacher who asked a group of Third Graders what they would do if they saw a person on the road beaten and bloodied. After some thought, a little girl raised her hand and responded, “I would probably throw-up!” And the Good Samaritan might have felt that way too, but he helped the man anyway. A neighbor is anyone close by to where you are. Regardless of how we feel, God asks us to demonstrate His love to them.

3. Love is the greatest witness of Christ.

Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

1 Peter 2:15, “For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.”

1 John 3:18, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

Be the neighbor God has called you to be to those around you.


What is God asking you to do?

Jonah 1:1-3, “The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.’

3 But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.”

I often think of Jonah early in the morning. I’ve come to expect a fresh new word from the Lord every morning. Sometimes I hear it and sometimes I do not. When I don’t, my day doesn’t seem to flow as well, and I wonder how I need to regroup in order that I hear His word the next morning. It is impossible to walk in the way of the Lord if you are not communicating with Him every single day. You’re either following His path or you are following your own.

Jonah, on the other hand, heard the word of the Lord. He was told to go to Nineveh and preach against its wickedness. I dare to say, it is probably far better not to have heard the word of the Lord than to hear it and disobey it. Jonah finds himself in a tough spot. He actually tries to run away from God’s request and he heads to Tarshish.

Which are you?

Are you missing the word of the Lord because you are too busy to stop and hear it? Or are you hearing it, but wanting to do your own thing?

There are times when God calls us into areas that are out of our comfort zone. I had a friend once tell me God had to be using the wrong frequency because there were so many other people more equipped to do what He was asking my friend to do. God doesn’t call wrong numbers and He doesn’t have to use frequency. If He has asked, He’s got the right person, and He will give you all the tools – maybe not all at once – but He will give you exactly what you need to do the job.

Sometimes life’s journey finds us in unusual places with unfamiliar people. While you may feel alone, you are not.

What is God asking you do? What is your Nineveh?

Make sure you are listening for the voice of God and when you hear His direction, do not follow the example of Jonah. Connie and I have a standing joke. When I hear from the Lord and it is taking me a particular place, she will smile and ask, “So, are you going to Nineveh?” Most of the time, my response has been, “I’m going to Nineveh.”  When that wasn’t my response a piece of me has died in the belly of my great fish.  I learned…it is better to go to Nineveh.


We are like “eyes” to God

A complex anatomical device, the human eye is a remarkable, architectural wonder of our body. It gives us the ability to see by refracting light and producing a focused image that stimulates a neural response. It is probably one of the most protected parts of our body by eyebrows, eyelashes, eyelids, and blinking. Our reflexes involuntarily react to anything that threatens our eyes, from dust particles to flying objects.

In every day life, we use references to the eye or pupil to indicate characteristics of our lives:

“She is the apple of his eye” indicates the importance of one person to another. “The movie was a real ‘eye-opener’ for me” indicates that we learned something from an experience. “Keep your eye on the ball” indicates caution in focusing on detail. “He really has an eye for it” indicates a person’s ability to do something well.

The eye is also an indicator in wisdom or ignorance:

“I see what you mean” expresses understanding. “Hind-sight is 20/20” is an expression used after something happens in our lives; if we had just known a particular thing, we could’ve changed the outcome. “He turned a blind eye” expresses when someone ignored something. “Due to an oversight” is used when we forget something. “To oversee a project” is to be in charge of it.

Psalm 17:8, “Guard me as you would guard your own eyes. Hide me in the shadow of your wings.”

We are like ‘eyes’ to God and He guards us with great care. He is as protective of His people as we are of our eyes. In Zechariah 2:8, “For this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘After he has honored me and has sent me against the nations that have plundered you – for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye’ -“ In those words, I feel the protection of God. I feel the wall of fire around me; I feel the power of His reflexes; I know I am protected from evil.

We are given a divine guardianship. Think today on God’s protection of  you.  It is far more than you could ever imagine. Understand that wherever you go, He is with you. In a 16 hour day (the time you are awake) you will blink probably an estimated 15,000 times – that’s around once every five seconds. Consider as you move around throughout the day, God is covering you like a blink of the eye.

As a young boy my grandmother would tell me, “God will always rescue you, Michael, either here on earth or in the heavens. You do not ever need to be afraid.”


The solution for a perfect life

Awwww…the perfect life. No worries. No decisions. No grief. No pain. No sickness. Where do I sign up?

Psalm 18:30, “As for God, His way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him.”

Sometimes I read this scripture and that is what I ponder. By perfect, what does God mean? No struggles? No trials? If I just do exactly as God says to do every second of my life, do I get the perfect life? Well, if so, we’d have to remember Christ’s life, it was perfect, but definitely not free of suffering.

Because of the fall of man, we are faced with many issues and obstacles. Trials, struggling, pain, grief are all inevitable because of Adam and Eve. The secret is following God’s way in dealing with them all. He has all the answers – every last one. His directions will NEVER lead us astray. We may run into trouble; but He knows the way out. We may suffer for a period of time; but He knows the perfect remedy. We may fall down and get hurt; but He will pull us to our feet every time. If we let Him…

I know life is not about luxury. Life is about learning. Life is about building our character and giving us the integrity we need to fight the spiritual battles daily. God’s way is the perfect plan, if we will just obey it.

My dad was big on making us follow instructions, from how to mow the lawn to cleaning up the church, there was a certain way to do everything. As I entered my teenage years, it bothered me tremendously. I knew a better, faster, more efficient way to do it! Woe be unto me if I should alter his directions. Now that I am a grown man and a father myself, I am grateful to my dad. It wasn’t about doing it “his” way, it was about following directions.

God is the same way and He gave us an instructional manual and sent His Son to reiterate it. It is up to us to actually do what He says. Believe me, He isn’t looking for someone to tell Him a better way to do it either. His way is PERFECT…period.

If you are struggling, maybe you need to step back and look at how you are dealing with a particular issue in your life. Is it the way God would have you to deal with it?  If not, read the Word and find out “how to deal with it.” If you are handling it in a Godly way, then be assured, you will be “out-of-it” soon. He will never forsake His beloved children.


Your feet are not slipping

I have always enjoyed nature, particularly when I can incorporate sports with it. Hiking appeals greatly to me. Here in the Northeast Georgia mountains, where I am privileged to call “home,” the Appalachian Trail begins. About a 2000+mile trek from Georgia to Maine, enthusiasts have picked particular pieces along the way to have the bragging rights of hiking the AT (at least a portion of it). I am one such enthusiast. To hike the entire trip would take someone at least 5 months to a year and cash resources. It is a dream of mine but one I do not see fulfilling. It is just fun to imagine.

There is a particular stretch of trail that I like. It starts at Three Forks Stream Valley and ends at Springer Mountain. Approximately 8.6 miles, the variety of terrain and the beauty of the streams is indescribable.

Years ago, I found myself hiking alone to clear my head and pray. I hadn’t been on this particular trail before. I wasn’t certain what was ahead of me or for that matter behind me. The sounds of the rushing creeks were almost deafening as the trail changed from sure-footed to rocky paths. The scent of Mountain Laurel and the thickness of the rhododendron caused me to stop momentarily and take it all in…and I thought of David.

In Psalm 18, David is writing because God has delivered him from his enemies, particularly Saul.

As I stood in the midst of all the beauty, I started to quote the words I’d read so many times, “I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies. The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook;  they trembled because he was angry.”

God was angry because someone was messing with His son. Let me tell you, that same God who adored David, adores you. Don’t mess with His people. He will come down like a hurricane. When we call on Him, He will come down and rescue us. And not to stand around a campfire and be friends again kind of revenge…no, when the enemy messes with you and me, God’s precious children, He will swoop down with all His might. Be assured, children of God, you are His temple, and His temple will be protected.

Psalm 18:36, “You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.”

There are times when God asks us to take a certain path and the uncertainty of the direction causes us to fear the next step. David felt the same way; but God will not even allow us to turn our ankle on the rocky trail. He will broaden the path we are on. The terrains of life can be tough: rocky, steep, twisted, narrow, and dark. Life’s journeys can be overwhelming. But David’s words, filled with praise for our God, affirm for us, that even in the toughest of times, God is there.

Some of you may enjoy hiking as well; consider this the next time you are out walking and praise Him for His goodness. Every step you take, God is broadening the path, monitoring the roots, providing the safety net, and strengthening your steps. We can trust God to keep our feet from slipping.