July 20, 2019

Don't Underestimate Your Spiritual Enemy

“A thorough knowledge of the enemy and a healthy respect for his prowess are a necessary preliminary to victory in war. Similarly, if we underestimate our spiritual enemy, we shall see no need for God's armor, we shall go out to battle unarmed with no weapons but our puny strength, and we shall be quickly and ignominiously (embarrassingly) defeated.” John Stott, The Message of Ephesians, regarding Ephesians 6:10-18.
If you knew that your enemy had 3 characteristics as being powerful, wicked and shrewd, you would not fight against this opponent without assistance, or the proper gear.
Notice also that the descriptions of whom is in this spiritual war are not in singular form but plural - rulers, authorities, cosmic powers, spiritual forces of evil.
There is more than one opponent against the believer, which is why we are to be praying at all times, for all the saints (Christians) requesting help from God.
The military doesn’t enter a combat situation without a strategy, weapons, or protective gear, and it’s never a one man show. The same is true for the believer: our strategy is Scripture, our weapons are prayer and the Body of Christ collectively praying for each other, and our protective gear is wearing the armor of God.
If you don’t think you’re in a spiritual battle now, you might be either blind, or in a spiritual coma, but there’s a spiritual war going on in everyone’s life and they need prayer.
Who are you praying for that’s going through a battle right now? How often will you pray for them? Will you pray until the enemy is defeated?
Don’t go into battle alone or unprepared.

July 15, 2019

I thought God had not kept His promise

Roger Simms was hitchhiking his way home and would be a date that would never be forgotten. The date: May 7. His heavy suitcase made him tired and he was anxious to take off his Army uniform once and for all. Flashing the hitchhiking sign to the oncoming car, he lost hope when he saw it was a black, sleek, new Cadillac. To his surprise the car stopped. The passenger door opened. He ran toward the car, tossed his suitcase in the back, and thanked the handsome, well-dressed man as he slid into the front seat.

“Going home for keeps?” the driver asked.

“Sure am,” Roger responded.

“Well, you're in luck if you're going to Chicago.”

“Not quite that far.  Do you live in Chicago?”

“I have a business there.  My name is Hanover.”

After talking about many things, Roger, a Christian, felt a compulsion to witness about Christ to this man who appeared to be in his 50s and apparently a successful businessman. But he kept putting it off, till he realized he was just thirty minutes from his home. It was now or never.

So, Roger cleared his throat, “Mr. Hanover, I would like to talk to you about something very important.” He then proceeded to explain the way of salvation, ultimately asking Mr. Hanover if he would like to receive Christ as his Savior.

To Roger's astonishment the Cadillac pulled over to the side of the road, and Roger thought he was going to be ejected from the car. But the businessman bowed his head and received Christ, then thanked Roger saying, “This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.”

Five years went by, Roger married, had a two-year-old boy, and a business of his own. Packing his suitcase for a business trip to Chicago, he found the small, white business card Hanover had given him just five years before. 

In Chicago he looked up Hanover Enterprises and a receptionist told him it was impossible to see Mr. Hanover, but he could see Mrs. Hanover.

A little confused as to what was going on, he was ushered into a lovely office and found himself facing a keen-eyed woman in her fifties.

She extended her hand. “You knew my husband?”

Roger told how her husband had given him a ride when hitchhiking home after the war.

She asked, “Can you tell me when that was?”

Roger replied saying, “It was May 7, five years ago, the day I was discharged from the Army.”

“Anything special about that day?” she asked.

Roger hesitated.  Should he mention giving his witness?  Since he had come so far, he might as well take the plunge.

“Mrs. Hanover, I explained the gospel. He pulled over to the side of the road and wept against the steering wheel and he gave his life to Christ that day.”

Explosive sobs shook her body and after what seemed like a few minutes, she composed herself, she spoke through her sobbing and said, “I had prayed for my husband's salvation for years. I believed God would save him.”

“And where is your husband, Mrs. Hanover?” Roger asked her.

“He's dead,” she wept, struggling with words. “He was in a car crash after he let you out of the car. He never got home. You see, I thought God had not kept His promise.”

Sobbing uncontrollably, she added, “I stopped living for God five years ago because I thought He had not kept His word!”

-----------------------


Even in that extreme case, God was faithful and He will be faithful to us too! Rest in Him. Trust Him. Serve Him. Believe Him. He is who He claims to be, and He will do all that He has promised to do. He is The Faithful God!

The greatest thing that you can remember concerning the faithfulness of God and what He has done for you is when your sins were atoned for on the cross that Jesus Christ was crucified on.

The greatest promise that God can give to a person who repents of their sins and who puts their faith exclusively in Christ alone is the promise of eternal life.

Who are you praying for to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? God is faithful.

July 14, 2019

When You Are Anxious for God's Promises

What are some things you may be anxious about right now? Your finances? Are you worried about having enough for the future, or that you don't have enough now? Security concerns like employment, or having security, mainly financial security in retirement years? Planning to move to a new city/state for a new job. Moving to a new home, or that you're trying to find a new home to purchase for your family to settle into. 

That could cause some anxiety a bit, couldn't it?

In Genesis 15:1-6 is the account where God was speaking to Abram and he was being told about the future of his life and how great his family would become. This was being told to a man who was physically beyond the age of engaging in sexual intimacy with a woman, and yet somehow he was going to become a father for the very first time? 
1 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.”2 Abram said, “O Lord God, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.” 4 Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” 5 And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. ~ Genesis 15:1-6
Sure, Abram had a son from his wife's mistress Hagar, but he didn't have a child through his wife Sarai. 

This was a great concern to him because he didn't have a child to rightfully inherit his estate. Isaac could not inherit anything because the child was not born through marriage. Sarai and Abram had become impatient for God's promise to be fulfilled and they had decided to take matters into their own hands, which then resulted in Isaac being born and jealousy between Hagar and Sarai.

Abram had a fear about the future because so much time had passed and he must have realized how impossible this was to become a reality. But with God there are no impossibilities, only miraculous opportunities.

So, in the midst of uncertainties in our life, how can we find ourselves relating to Abram's situation?

A GREAT COMFORT

1. God will address your fear. 

Being anxious is a form of fear and how often can you think of times in the past when you felt anxious about something that it might not happen because of whatever you could think of that wouldn't work out, and the whole thing would end up in a complete mess? 

Ever worried, or felt anxious about something a little too much that it caused you to be afraid?

God addressed Abram’s fear in verses 1-3 of Genesis 12 and Abram had heard from God 3 times since Genesis 12 concerning the promise that was made to him.
  1. Genesis 12:2, God said, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.”
  2. Genesis 13:15, God promised the land to his offspring
  3. Genesis 13:16, God said that Abram’s offspring would be as numerous as the dust of the earth, too numerous even to count.
Abram was 75 years old when he was called to leave Ur of the Chaldeans (Genesis 12:4) and Sarai was approximately 65 years old too. They had travelled approximately 1,775 miles in their journey from Ur to Haran, to Shechem, then down to Egypt and back to Shechem. When Abram went to rescue Lot when he was captured by King Chedorlaomer, he and his army of 318 men traveled more than 100 miles to defeat them. All of which was by foot and at a very slow pace at times, too.

When we read each chapter in Scripture, we sometimes forget that there is time involved when we read. We can read Genesis 1:1-2:3 and read 34 verses, but these verses in creation occurred over a period of 7 days. Genesis 12:1-15:6 is no different, but how much time are we talking about?

This span of time, from Genesis 12:1-15:6 was approximately 10 years.

What was Abram’s main concern? He had no children. Yes, he had acquired children and family members, taking on Lot and his family and all of their possessions, when they left Ur to go to the land that God was promising Abram.

The chapter begins by saying that God spoke to Abram after he had defeated King Chedorlaomer and was blessed by King Melchizedek, the word of the Lord came to Abram and He said, “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” Genesis 15:1

An important aspect to recognize here is that this reveals even more the Omniscience of God in this story. God knows more about us and how the story of our lives will be played out more than we realize. God's sovereign plan will be fulfilled and as much as we might we to know how He has written that story, it's better that we don't know and trust God by faith that He is doing, not just what is best for our lives, but what will bring Him the most glory through us.

God had already spoken to Abram concerning his promise to him, not once, not twice, but three times and He is now going to address Abram’s fear that he still does not have the offspring that God had promised to him, years before.

How many times have you read one or more of God's promises and not really heard what God has said?

Take note of what God said to Abram, just as He would say to you and I today with a concern in our lives - FEAR NOT!

These words are a reminder to Abram, as they are to us that we are not to live in fear, but by faith in God. When we live in/by faith we acknowledge that God is in control, but when we start to have fear about anything, we step into believing that God’s not in control and therefore, we must do something to regain that control, even if it is to regain control for God.

When a person walks in faith with regard to God’s will, there is tremendous peace. (Gideon, The Lord is Peace, Judges 6:24, YHWH SHALOM)

A GREAT PROTECTOR

In addition, God addressed Abram’s fear by reminding him that God was his shield - His protector whenever someone would attempt to assault him, or his family.
  • Psalm 3:3, “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.”
  • Psalm 18:2, The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
  • Proverbs 30:5, Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
When a person walks by faith with God, they have peace and they trust God to protect them during the trials they will experience along the journey. It doesn't mean that they won't go through difficult experiences, but they will have God with them to carry them through those difficult times and not feel alone.

A GREAT REWARD

Thirdly, God addressed Abram’s fear by reminding him that his reward would be very great. God’s promises in the future to us are always better than anything we could ever possess today.

The promise of God to Abram was to bless him with a family that would be greater than the dust of the ground.

If God has made a promise to you, you have to remember that His promise will be fulfilled in His timing and not ours.

When you read verse 2, you see that Abram makes a bit of a desperate confession to God and he believes that he’s going to die without ever experiencing the joy of fatherhood.

His discouragement was probably on behalf of his wife too that now after 10 years, there was no sign of a child in their lives. The territory was there but there was no one to dwell in it, as God said there would be. Even after 3 instances of reminders concerning God’s promise for a family and land there was no sign of it becoming a reality.

We must remember that God’s promises are fulfilled in His timing and not ours and that as we continue to walk by faith, encouraging ourselves in the Word, praying and seeking God’s continued presence in our lives, as each day of anticipation for the fulfillment of God’s promise comes and goes, we must be reassured that God will fulfill every promise of His that He has made.
“Prove the faithfulness of God by carrying every want to Him.” George Müeller
2. God will address your future (v. 4-5)
Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” Genesis 15:4-5
And so, God speaks again to Abram, stating to him that Eliezer would not be his heir, but that he and Sarai would experience the birth of a son.

I find it amazing that while reading these verses, we’ll acknowledge that God makes a promise to them that their would be an heir to their family, but we may miss the awesomeness of this display of the Omniscience of God in this too!

God knows the past of Abram’s life. He knows the present of Abram’s life and He knows the future of Abram’s life too!

But you and I are no different that Abram concerning the fulfillment of this promise, especially when the circumstances of his and Sarai’s life were not very favorable for them to have children either.

Abram is in his mid 80’s and Sarai is in her mid 70’s. He probably doesn’t have the energy and she, likely can’t have children because of her age. It seems like there’s no possibility at all for this to even happen.

But aren’t we reminded in Scripture, in Luke 18:27, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

F. B. Meyer said in his book, Patriarchs of the Faith and speaking of God to Abram, “I fill heaven and earth; cannot I fill one lonely soul?” (Patriarchs of the Faith, p. 71)

While you and I might look for something in the natural realm concerning the promise that God has made, He takes Abram outside and invites him to look toward heaven and number the stars in the sky, if he could.

God is the one who placed the stars in the sky, in the first place (Genesis 1:16-19), on the fourth day of creation.

The highest degree of impracticability of becoming a father seemed so distant to Abram at this point, but God shows a real picture to him of the nighttime sky and all of its beauty, to show him that his future family will be as numerous and as beautiful too.

It’s just as the psalmist wrote in Psalm 121:1-2, “I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

God was showing Abram, and even us too today, that for every fear we may have we are to trust God and that for every promise that God has made to us, we are to trust God.


Have you looked toward heaven lately?

3. God will acknowledge your faith (v. 6)
Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:6
This is a great demonstration for us of Abram's trust in God’s promise to him without ever having to do anything except believing what God has said.
The action here by Abram is threefold and our faith in the promises of God should be no different today.

First, Abram believe the Lord, he trusted, believed, he had the assurance of God concerning God’s promise to him and what his family would look like. Spurgeon said, “The moment a man truly trusts his God he is justified.”

Second, it is also a demonstration of the type of faith we are to exhibit when it comes to the promises of God for ourselves too. Faith not works.

Third, it is the example of what it means to be justified by faith, which is a biblical doctrine that is directly associated with salvation.

We have the privilege today of believing as much of what we hear personally from God through Scripture. What have you read recently in Scripture that causes you to trust Him even more?

Abram’s righteousness that God declared was so because of his faith in what God had said to him. He believed and trusted in the promises of God. 

Do you trust in God's promises from Scripture, or do you doubt that He can do what He says He can do?

Abraham was a man of faith! He had failed God before and he had obeyed God before, but now he was trusting in Him completely with regard to the promise that was being made to him, in a way that Abram couldn’t fulfill, but only God could!

Abram’s faith in God was the means that God declared him righteous - justified by faith and this is the same type of faith that a person needs to have demonstrated from themselves concerning the means of salvation. 

A person is not justified, or declared righteous before God by their own works. No adherence to the law in its perfection could ever be the means to justify a person’s salvation. No, being declared righteous by God had to be accomplished through God’s work that was done for us and not our own.


Naturally speaking, Abram and Sarai were old people and God was saying they were going to become a great nation and his name would be great too. Their descendants would be as numerous as the stars. Could you imagine both of them and their bewilderment concerning how would they survive that many conceptions and births of children?  

God’s ways are far different than ours and much better too.

I’d like you to read these closing words by Charles Spurgeon from his sermon, Justification by Faith - Illustrated by Abraham’s Righteousness, Dec. 1868.
“Dear friends, this last word, and I send you home. Have you believed in God? Have you trusted Christ? O that you would do so today! To believe that God speaks truth ought not to be hard; and if we were not very wicked this would never need to be urged upon us, we should do it naturally. To believe that Christ is able to save us seems to me to be easy enough, and it would be if our hearts were not so hard. Believe thy God, man, and think it no little thing to do so. May the Holy Ghost lead thee to a true trust. This is the work of God, that ye believe on Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. Believe that the Son of God can save, and confide thyself alone in him, and he will save thee. He asks nothing but faith, and even this he gives thee; and if thou hast it, all thy doubts and sins, thy trials and troubles put together, shall not shut thee out of heaven. God shall fulfil his promise, and surely bring thee in to possess the land which floweth with milk and honey.”
As you read the promises of God that He has stated in Scripture, even if it is something in the future that He wishes to see become a reality in your life, know that it is part of His will to be fulfilled, have faith trust to God and be patient for it to become realized. 

His delays are not his denials.

Application reminders:
  • Trust in the Divine assurance that God gives through His Word.
  • Trust in the timing of God’s promises.
  • Study the passages of Scripture that recalls people who demonstrated faith.
  • Read stories about those who lived a life of great faith like George Müeller.

July 3, 2019

Is it Worth it to Exclude God from Your Life?

Ecclesiastes is a book of wisdom sayings that examines the meaning of life’s endeavors, the value of common wisdom, and the problem of injustice.

There is a phrase that is frequently repeated in this book which is, "Vanity of vanities." The word vanity is mentioned 38 times in this book, so there must be something important about those pursuits in life that are brief, or idolatrous. Pursuits that result in a continuous experience of futility. 

Any pursuit, pleasure or satisfaction of anything without regard for God, it is all vanity. It's futile. Its focus is a demonstration of idolatry because the attention given to it above God is a sin.

The text refers to the phrase, “chasing after wind”, which would be more like a feeling of frustration of the spirit, or frustration of ambition for the unattainable. 


The question then becomes, “Is what you’re pursuing after, seeking pleasure from, attempting to find satisfaction in is it worth it in the totality of life when God is excluded from your life? 
What will it benefit you in the end when you die and then have to face God?” 

There is no profit in those resources that are temporal if all hope and trust is placed there without regard for God. It's just not worth pursuing, but God is.

June 25, 2019

Are you content with weaknesses?

Do you take delight in when you are weak? How about when you are sick? Now here is a hard one. Do you find pleasure when diagnosed with a disease, even if it’s terminal?

It sounds a bid sadistic doesn’t it? Take pleasure in feeling weak? Be content with feeling sick? Really? Who ever has really felt content about being sick, and who actually is delighted in the reality of feeling physically weak, temporarily or terminally sick? There are very, very, very few people who actually do and it’s not that they love the experience of it either. I know that I’ve not been happy feeling sick - ever.

There was one gentleman whom I met a little more than 3 years ago who was diagnosed with cancer and while he wanted to be healed from the disease, he wasn’t happy about it in the beginning. It was only as the disease consumed more of his body and brought him to becoming more and more physically weak and sick did he have a hopeful perspective of seeing Jesus rather soon.

A majority of people don’t like it when they feel weak, or sick because they wish they had the physical strength to return to a normal activity of a healthy life. Being sick is not fun and many people have desperately wanted the short-term illness that feels like forever, to be over quickly. You've been there and done that too, haven't you?

A friend of mine was in the hospital recently, for an unexpected experience with her kidneys that were failing and she needed immediate help from the hospital. I know that she was asking for prayer that the Lord would heal her, and it was my prayer as well for her.

While this was a scary moment for her and her family, she is getting better and I know that she thanks God and praises Him for seeing her through that experience of her life. Could it have been much worse? Yes. Was it? No, and that should cause anyone to not only reevaluate their life before a just and holy God, but also to use their weakness, whatever it may be, as an opportunity to glorify God.


My wife just had a root canal done after a temporary crown on one of her teeth had come off. No one EVER likes getting a root canal done and probably the most common words spoken it are the complaints about the pain that is experienced and the discomfort after the root canal is finished. The price tag for it is nothing to cheer about either.

If you have not read John Piper’s short book, Don’t Waste Your Cancer it’s a good book that he wrote it on the evening of his prostate surgery. I read this book in November 2015 and it definitely gave me a better perspective on how to handle such an experience that I might have and how to glorify God more than dwelling in discouragement, depression, discomfort or distress.

Regardless of what the weakness, sickness, or disease is Piper says, “What God permits, he permits for a reason. And that reason is his design. If God foresees molecular developments becoming cancer, he can stop it, or not. If he does not, he has a purpose. Since he is infinitely wise, it is right to call this purpose a design.”

So, it is important to understand that God permits us to go through experiences of physical weakness, temporary sickness, or even a terminal disease and we must seek to understand the purpose for such an experience in our lives.

The last time that you were physically weak, or temporarily sick did you ask God to help you understand the purpose for that in your life? Were you content about the situation? Was God glorified through your life regardless of how long, or short-lived the experience was? If you didn’t, I’m not writing this to make you feel guilty, but to help you, or someone else to make sure that the next time you feel more delight in the weakness or sickness that you will face in the future.

  • OUR WEAKNESS IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO DELIGHT IN GOD'S STRENGTH
  • OUR SICKNESS IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO DELIGHT IN GOD'S WILL

The next time you face something in your life that wasn’t quite what you were hoping for, just remember that God has a purpose for you to experience it and it’s an opportunity to take pleasure in the fact that you get to rely on God’s strength, where you have very little strength.

If it’s a temporary sickness, or a terminal disease that too is an opportunity to be content with the forthcoming experience regardless of the outcome because it’s also an opportunity to draw even closer to God.

So, remember that when you feel helpless and vulnerable Jesus Christ can and will give you the ability to endure what’s ahead for you with a delight and joy for God and his will being fulfilled in your life.

Don’t pray for the adversity to be removed, pray that God will strengthen you to endure it and rely more upon the Omnipotence of God than your feeble strength.

Paul Barnett says in his commentary of 2 Corinthians, “The grace and power of God interlock with human lives at the point of mortal weakness.” The message of 2 Corinthians: power in weakness (p. 179). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Just remember that when you find yourself physically weak, temporarily sick, or terminally ill, you are in a great position to delightfully meet the grace and power of God for your life.



June 20, 2019

Does Your Faith Model God's Love?

May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. 2 Thessalonians 3:5
The best way for a Christian to demonstrate their faith is to act as God acts. Our prayer should be that God would direct us toward others who doubt that God’s love is real and need to hear why it is unconditional.
Jesus Christ is the example of that unconditional love through how he became and endured the punishment of our sins, for our atonement and our justification before God.
If our goal, as Christians, is to strive to become a better example of Jesus to others in the world, we must want to do so through our actions as well as our words declaring God’s eternal love through faith alone in Jesus Christ.
May our prayer be to God, “Lead me to someone today where I may be an example of your love to them and where they may come to know the greatness of your forgiveness through Jesus’ death on the cross for their sins, so that they might become a new son, or daughter in Christ.”

June 15, 2019

A Blessing Before Your Day Begins, or Say Goodbye

God freely gives his undeserved favor towards his people. That is what grace is to the sinner, something undeserved from God.
Peter wrote this letter encouraging believers at a time of confusion, discouragement and persecution they were experiencing.
So, if anyone is going through a difficult time, maybe these words from Scripture, even the entire letter of 1 Peter may be an encouragement to you.
His words, his prayer for them were that the moments of their lives would be filled with a multitude of God’s undeserved spiritual blessings.
Maybe instead of saying have a good day to someone, we could pray for God’s grace and peace to be abundant throughout their day.

May grace and peace be multiplied to you. Amen!