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Archive for the month “August, 2012”

Do you know where to find wisdom and understanding?

Funny how today we can mine the most precious of stones in the earth, perform all kinds of technological wonders, find stars invisible to the naked eye, visit space, store volumes on a chip but somehow cannot nail that elusive wisdom required for our daily lives.

Only God can show us the way because He is true wisdom.  He alone can give us perspective on life.

It makes sense because He is our Creator, in fact, the Creator of all life and knows whats best for us.

Maybe that is why it feels futile and fruitless when I spend too much time trying to become wise to my colleagues and associates via my education.  At the end of the day, only my time spent with God provides me the opportunity of seeing the greater purposes of God in this world – something my own study, observations and efforts seem to always miss.

I am sure that most of us know a verse somewhere in the Bible that indicates that to have respect, reverence, a sense of awe for who God is and His majesty is wisdom.  In fact, I am reading such a verse this morning that says that the Lord is true wisdom and to forsake evil is real understanding.

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Where to find God

Even this morning, a young teenager exclaimed that faith is a feeling…and I had to gently remind her and the others that there will be many times where we will feel so distant from God.  If we left our faith to be only justified in a feeling then we would be prone to losing our faith and our salvation far too many times.

Yet in those dark times of our lives we do wonder what we have to do to find Him.

I mean wouldn’t we bear suffering so much better if we knew why it was happening – but that would require no faith would it.

Maybe if we knew what sin we needed to repent of so that the punishment of seeming rejection could pass – right?

Maybe if He loved me enough, He could forgive me if He chose to.

One thing is for sure – questions about God, life, and justice are not as simple as assumed.  Finding God is crucial to my survival – especially in times of darkness.  It is here, in these moments, that the practice of prayer, Bible reading and obedience to God will find me in good standing.  For my faith is one of practice and in those moments, even though darkness may surround me, God will appear as a still small voice and a flame will flicker and a revival will burst inside me bringing me back into the presence of God just at the mention, the whisper of His name.

 

 

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There is hope in spite of this

Funny thing about hope, it always exist.  I think as long as God is alive and well there is hope.

Most of us count on hope – hope that our sin will not longer be remembered, hope that there is life after the loss of a loved one, hope that healing will take place after abuse, hope that there will be a job that will provide for the needs of your family, hope that someone will love you for who you are and hope that you will not be alone – the list goes on.

There are some false hopes too – hope that you will win the lottery, hope that its okay to have sex before marriage, hope that addictions are okay if they are not hurting anyone else, hope that there is no heaven or hell, hope that there is no God who will hold us accountable one day – the list goes on.

So what happens when these two lists collide.

I think of the verse where God promises those who will seek Him, and pray, that He will come and heal their land.  That might be the first step, but how do we engage with the next few steps is what will really matter.  Those steps will define where our hope lands.

These steps can be quite painfully – loss of friends, change in lifestyle can be misunderstood by many, marriage/relationship troubles and the list goes on.

The power of hope – the hope that God is faithful, that He is watching, that He cares, that He sees the outcome of our situation, not only for tomorrow – but for years down the road, that He is holding us in the palm of His hands, that He is carrying us, that for eternity we will be spending our lives with Him, that His promises are true and that He has given us His life as a pledge for that promise and the companionship of the Holy Spirit to empower us to hold on to this hope – it is this power that changes us to be more like God.

There is always hope – in spite of what we go through each day, there is hope because of who God is.  May we never lose that promise nor fail to believe in it – it is our salvation.

http://youtu.be/Wrb1go3dqpg

 

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Declaring a fast

If you are like me, fasting is something that I do not do often.  It speaks more to my pride than my desire to spend more quality time with God.

When I do fast, it is one where I humble myself before God and spend time in prayer.

My prayer might surprise you a bit.

I pray for my faith journey, since  am in a ministry that is quite high in the spiritual warfare arena – I pray for God to protect those involved in the ministry, my family – especially my children and for our property.

It is one of those things that I do not leave to chance and there is no way I am going to ask for any one to take this responsibility on, even though I have many prayer partners.

Why do I pray in this manner?

Just as I would prepare in making a physical journey, so I must prepare before making a spiritual journey.  I want God to see my dependence on Him, I need to let myself know that God is in control and that I am not strong enough to make the trip without Him.

My life and the lives of my family are part of our testimony to God’s protection on all those who worship Him.  Disaster may take place, but only because God has something with purpose from it.

So may fasting is about praying for protection, blessings, favour and grace so that the name of God may be glorified and that He may take care of us.

 

 

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Gracious hand of God

As a leader, I can prepare, study, engage, lead, mentor and be all that God has called me to be.

This I can do as part of my day-to-day calling and workplace experience.

The adventure takes place when I count on the graciousness of God to take over, to open doors that are closed, to protect when I make myself vulnerable, to provide when the access to resources are not available.

I also look at the absence of God’s grace as something that sends off an alarm in my spirit.

Is He removing His hand because of my sin, others sin, wants to direct me in a different direction, wants to see me grow or to learn discernment or maybe to practice listening to His voice?

It is my task to not just let life happen – I need to understand the signs that God is directing in my life.  His gracious hands are always there – that is a fact.  So regardless of my feelings, He has promised to never leave me.  So my task is not to doubt, it is too always engage – Lord, are you telling/showing/guiding me today to an opportunity or are you warning me of a threat?

The gracious hand of God will give me incredible favour that will assure that the path I am on is the one I am to be on, and it is up to me to seek God’s face when His hand is removed – discerning a time of growth versus a warning that I am off the path He has called me on.

I am thankful to Job – he has led me a lot in my journey as being a follower of Jesus.  His life has taught me much about who God is and some way of understanding how He works in this area.

May your ability to discern and understand the signs of the times and God’s call in your life help you make the right decisions.  Even if a mistake is made, His gracious hands will continue to be there.- we can count on that all the time.

 

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God is watching over me

Do you have those days where you feel that your hands which are usually strong, are now weak?  You are discouraged and oppressed by others and it seems to be coming from every possible direction.

Are you troubled enough by situations that you have stopped moving forward?  Have you been threatened or dissuaded to stop moving forward and there seems to be a purpose in hindering from doing so?  Maybe funds have dried up or withheld?

Every attempt to revive an active following of Jesus will stir up the opposition of Satan, and of those in whom he works.

When these days come to me, this one thing I know, my God is watching over me.  It is that flicker of flame within me that Satan cannot blow out.  It is my hope, my strength, and eventually my renewal – my God is watching over me.  He is not just any God – He is all-knowing, all-present, and all-powerful – and He is watching over me.

I can rest, I can become renewed, I can be strengthened and I can continue to do the work He has called me to do with such a thought.  It enters my mind, moves into my heart and strengthens my soul.  Discouragement has no place there and oppressive expressions seem to bounce off me – they just do not stick.  My hands are strengthened once again and I am encouraged to move forward.

My God is watching over me.

 

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Serving God because I am fearful?

If you are like me, everyone around you is saying that no one should serve God out of fear – it is all about loving Him because He first loved us.

Yet, maybe, just maybe, if we reflected on our journey – maybe, just maybe, we had a bit of fear that enabled us to begin our journey with Christ.

My dad could “scare” anyone into the kingdom.  He talked up hell and vividly described it that anyone in their right mind would not want to spend eternity there and so they made a decision to say a prayer asking Jesus to accept them so they did not have to go to hell.  So do some Baptist ministers that I know.

Others are afraid of people around them that could hurt them – gangs, violence, bullies, workplace confrontations etc. and so they look upon their worship of God, and the amount of time they spend with Him as a “good luck” charm – keeping evil away.

Others think that God is ready to pounce on them at any moment, taking away blessing or causing pain when they do something wrong.  Unfortunately that is what makes penance so popular.

So I started to try to remember what my experience has been with God.  Am I using Him because I want a free “get out of Hell” card, or is He my lucky charm and I can sleep at nights knowing that I am doing enough worship to guarantee protection, or do I just want to get by in life without getting sucker punched because I messed up on something?

I told you about my dad, so I think that when I was between 12 – 15, there is no doubt that I followed Jesus because I was absolutely scared into heaven.  I mean, for those that remember the movies from MarkIV Productions and Hal Lindsay and David Wilkerson, I think you know what that could do for a teenager.

However, if that is what it took for me to follow Christ, along with some huge arms and fists that belong to my dad who demanded a walk that was pretty intense about manners, values and character, then I accept it.  Each of us begins our journey in a certain way and we all discover a bit more about Jesus as we go along.

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God gives us desires

I am pretty sure that we can’t even tell the difference between our desires and God‘s desires.

It looks like our idea, sounds like our idea, comes from a passion that we have – so tell me again, how is this a desire that is planted in my heart by God?

That’s still my main point – I do not know.  But I do know that God moves the hearts of people to accomplish what He wants done.  There are too many examples of this in the Bible to mention – never minding the fulfillment of over 350 prophecies in the OT about the life of Christ and how impossible it would have been for Him to fulfill them on His own.  God had to direct lives in order for the prophecies to come true.

I believe that each of us have a purpose in life that God has called us to and I believe that God instills in us His desires to accomplish those purposes.  I think it is one of the reasons we need to worship and glorify Him in all that we do – for what we do, is what He has called us to do.

It goes without saying that the desires you had before you met Christ, will still be the same desires you will have now that you have decided to be a follower of Christ.  That is why so many people who do great things, especially leaders that we recognize, need to understand that those good things were done because God wanted them done.  Once they recognize that they are not really in control and that God is orchestrating His plan through them, they are humbled.

I think that is one of the reasons Einstein is thought, by many, to be a Christian.  I do not think he was, but I do believe that he knew that God had imparted to him many wonderful things and most of all the desire to understand how the world worked.  He communicated that often and thanked God for the opportunity to serve in this manner.

May I suggest that we thank God for the many areas that we serve.  I believe we serve in them because God gave us the desire to do so, to accomplish something He needs done – and He chose you and I to do it.

Let us thank Him each day for that great opportunity, thank Him for calling us to a special task, thank Him for allowing us to be an important part of His plan and thank Him for caring.  May we have the graciousness to see His handiwork in those around us and let them know from time to time when you see what God is doing through their lives.

 

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Ignoring God’s message

First of all, how easy is it these day to ignore those people who always hear from God and who end up not getting it right?  It almost embarrassing and you hope at times that these people who are pontificating are rookies trying to come across as heros.

So what happens when we ignore a message from someone who is not even a follower of Christ?

I mean, I am set up both ways to possibly miss something really important by making a mistaken assumption that either the message from the follower is flawed or the message from the non-follower could not be part of God’s larger plan for my life.

It is true – I need to be really humble when it comes to listening.  If I miss God’s point because of my false assumption, it could really cost me.

I need to come back to a naive stance and that is any message from God can come in unexpected ways.

Lord, don’t let my prejudice or false assumptions blind me from Your message.

 

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Change

Based on my search for a proper picture, the word change is quite an interesting word.  I found photos of butterflies and frogs, both of whom change as God has created that process – it just happens.  I found a fish jumping from one fish bowl to a “better” fish bowl but that is just a “grass is greener on the other side” kind of change.  I found a lot of challenges out there for you and I to “be the change.”  That’s not bad, but there was little encouragement for the change to come from within.

The change I am talking about deals more with us walking in a certain direction and then realizing that direction does not take us where we want to go or I should be more direct, where God wants us to go.

It is our opportunity, no matter how bad or how far removed we are from God, to turn, change direction, and move toward Him.

This of course produces another change that comes through growth.  When we are not growing, we are not changing.  Change = growth, right?

This is what you have to love about our role as stewards of what has been given to us.  As leaders, we are constantly in need of growth.  We can’t lead unless we are growing, can’t teach unless we have stories to tell of how we have changed.  I believe the word used in various Christian circles is sanctification – but “change to grow” makes a lot more sense and it applies for today, not yesterday.

So when Jesus is praying all night, when He is not eating, when He is up first thing in the morning – these are things, sacrifices that push Him towards God.  These are the activities that enable Him to calm the storm, walk on water, feed thousands, heal, deliver and more importantly, mentor a group of men and disciple another group of men and women into the leaders that changed the world.

Do not think for  a minute that the person who is slip sliding down the slippery slope of drugs, alcohol, sex and rebellion against God s not changing – they are – and they are growing.  When they come back to following Jesus, they will be incredible followers of Jesus having experienced the growth and reality of the other side of the world where there is no hope, no faith, and no peace.

May your devotions this day cause you to look inside and see what could you change.  If you spend only 15 minutes a day for every day, working and changing this one area of your life, I am sure you will see incredible growth.  If you do not, no worries, someone who knows you well will tell you that they see it.  Maybe that’s the best indicator of change and growth – may it then be part of your testimony of God’s incredible grace in your life.

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