Trials and Trusting God

Trusting-the-Lord-YHWH2 Corinthians 1:3-9,  Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4  Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 5  For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. 6  And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. 7  And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation. 8  For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: 9  But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:

A casual study of Paul’s life and ministry will reveal that he was a man who suffered much. He was a man who went through many a trial and trouble for the Lord Jesus Christ. It is also very clear – when we read Paul’s words concerning these troubles – that God allowed Paul to go through all that he went through in his life and ministry, first and foremost, to help him to get to the place where he was willing and able to trust God, rather than trust himself or others, regardless of the circumstances and the consequences, Paul chose to trust God, and so should we!

It’s only when we learn trust in God, regardless of our present circumstances or future consequences, that He receives the glory He desires, demands, and deserves!

Jeremiah 17:5-9, Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. 6  For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. 7  Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. 8  For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. 9  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Proverbs 3:5-6,  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Just Reflecting!

Are We Becoming Tone Deaf?

Speaks 1Acts 7:3-5,  And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee. 4  Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell. 5  And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child.

Acts 7:33-34,  Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground. 34  I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt.

Acts 8:26, And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.

I never cease to be amazed how God works, especially how He works through His word. This morning, our last day in the States, while reading Acts chapters 7-9, God reassures me, in the midst of my doubts and fears, about the next step in our journey with, and for Jesus, that following Jesus there is often much uncertainty. But we must hear and heed His words!

This is what we call faith!

In Acts 7:3-6, I was reminded that when the whisper of God came to Abraham, he was willing to step out by faith, not knowing where he was going, and he simply obeyed God. And, so should I!

In Acts 7:34-36, I was, once again, reminded that when God wants to meet the needs, whether physical or spiritual, of people, He looks for someone to send, and someone who is willing to GO, regardless of present circumstances of future consequences. And, so should I!

In Acts 8:26-27, I was reminded that God often brings us from a place of blessing to be a blessing to others, and that when God spoke, Philip didn’t DEBATE WITH GOD, he didn’t DELAY HIS DECISION (delayed obedience is disobedience), and he didn’t DISOBEY GOD, he simply AROSE AND WENT. And, so should I!

Speaks 3In all of these stories, along with Paul’s experience on the Damascus Road in Acts chapter 9, we are reminded that when God speaks, we need to hear and heed His words to us. As one author noted:

“Still, I’ve come to believe that hearing the quiet whisper of the transcendent God is one of the most extraordinary privileges in all of life— and potentially the most transforming dynamic in the Christian faith. When people hear from heaven, they are rarely the same again. When the sovereign God chooses to communicate with someone— whether eight, eighteen or eighty years old— that person’s world is rocked. …  If you lower the ambient noise of your life and listen expectantly for those whispers of God, your ears will hear them. And when you follow their lead, your world will be rocked. …Whispers can be dangerous things. They can come with huge price tags.”

The question is not whether God is still SPEAKING and SENDING today, the question is, are we hearing Him speak, are we willing to heed His words, or have we become tone deaf?

Speaks 2Oh, give me Samuel’s ear, an open ear, O Lord, alive and quick to hear each whisper of Thy Word; like him to answer to Thy call, and to obey Thee first of all.”

Just Reflecting!!!

 

Servants (Not Leaders) Needed

Jesus feetJohn 13:4-17, He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. 5  After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. 6  Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? 7  Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. 8  Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9  Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. 10  Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. 11  For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. 12  So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? 13  Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14  If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15  For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16  Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17  If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

There are very few stories in the Gospels, in fact, in all of the Bible, that are more humbling. convicting, and challenging than the story of Jesus washing the feet of His disciples. The Creator washing the feet of the created. The eternal Son of God washing the feet of mere man. The Redeemer of mankind washing the feet of those, who in just a few hours, would betray, deny, and flee from Him. During His earthly ministry, Jesus taught His disciples many great and needed truths, but few more important than this one:

It’s not our ability to LEAD THE WAY that is most important, but our willingness to SERVE THE PEOPLE that is of the most importance!

If you have been in the ministry for any length of time, you know that we are living during a time where “leadership” has become a great emphasis. As one author noted:

Over the last three decades, there has been a seismic shift across the landscape of the church. The advent of church-growth theory, coupled with exponential advances in technology, has created a hyper-pursuit for leadership muscle that has never been seen before. Seminars and conferences have become trendy leadership fitness centers. Titans of business and megachurch pastors serve as leadership fitness trainers, while books and periodicals deliver leadership steroids and growth hormones. The goal of such industry? To create better leaders, stronger leaders, to make and multiply leaders.

Serve 1It’s interesting how seldom Jesus actually talked about “leadership.” Another author wrote:

In the world, greatness is judged by the power a person exercises over others. In the kingdom, greatness is judged by service to people. As children of the King, we follow kingdom values.

Jesus not only taught this truth, but He modeled it in His life and ministry!

Philippians 2:5-7, Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: Are “leaders” needed today. Of course, but our greatest need today really isn’t for more “leaders,” but for more “servants.”

Just Reflecting!!!

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” 

Serve 2

 

Where’s Mary Today?

Sitting 1John 12:1-9, Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. 2  There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. 3  Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. 4  Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, 5  Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? 6   This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. 7  Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.

This same story can be found in Matthew 26:6-13 and Mark 14:3-9. If we read all three accounts of the story we find so many rich and rewarding truths. In fact, life transforming truths!

Lazarus had just been raised from the dead. He and his family, along with Jesus and his disciples are celebrating the great victory. As usual, Martha is doing what she does best, serving others. Where’s Mary? As was often the case, Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus, loving and adoring Him.  Oh, and by the way, not everyone-including the closest of Jesus’ disciples-are happy about it!

Jesus is looking for people who ADORE HIM above everyone and everything else in life. A people willing to SACRIFICE ALL for Him! He is looking for a people who are willing to SIT AT HIS FEET, LISTEN TO HIS WORDS, and RESPOND WITH HEARTS OF ADORATION!

Sitting 2I have a feeling that Jesus is still looking for a few Mary’s who are willing to sit at His feet in love and adoration in the midst of all the wonderful celebration’s, commotion, and confusion of our day [REV 3:14-20]!

“Every age has its own characteristics. Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us.” — A. W. Tozer

“Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”

Just Reflecting! 

The Christian Life isn’t Complicated

ComplicatedRomans 12:1-21,  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 3  For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 4  For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5  So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 6  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7  Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8  Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9  Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10  Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11  Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12  Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13  Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14  Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15  Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16  Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17  Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18  If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20  Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21  Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans Chapter 12 should be read regularly, pondered reflectively, and obeyed sincerely by all of us. While reading this passage this morning, I was reminded once again, …

The Christian life isn’t really COMPLICATED, but it definitely takes a COMMITMENT to the word and will of God, is LIFE-CHANGING, and it is COUNTER-CULTURAL!!!

As one author noted: “In a culture that places great emphasis on leisure, luxury, financial gain, self-improvement, and material possessions, it will be increasingly countercultural for Christians to work diligently, live simply, give sacrificially, help constructively, and invest eternally. Yet this is what we must do.”

I would encourage all of us, this morning, to take some time to drink from the wells of this passage of scripture and ask God to do something in our hearts!

Just Reflecting!

It’s Time to Wake Up!

Wake up -1“In these lay a GREAT MULTITUDE of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, WAITING for the moving of the water. … The impotent man answered Him, SIR, I HAVE NO MAN …” (JN 5:3, 7).

Can you imagine what it must have felt like when day after day, week after week, and possibly year after year, this impotent man lay by the waters, along with multitudes of others, seeking help and hope, and yet, there was NO MAN who was willing to wake up from his complacency, self-centeredness, busyness, and callousness to help?

Here we are nearly 2,000 years later and the GREAT MULTITUDES of the spiritually powerless, the spiritually blind, and the spiritually crippled, are STILL WAITING and can honestly say, “Sir, I have no man.”

Another tragedy struck last night in Manchester. There is persecution, pain, and poverty all around the world. A vast majority of the world went to bed hungry last night. A great majority of the world has not only never heard the Gospel, but there is very little accessibility for them to ever hear the Gospel. And yet, like the priest and the Levite in the Parable of the Good Samaritan [LK 10:30-37], we just keep walking on by as if everything is just fine!

The words of Jeremiah ring so true today: “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow …” [Lamentations 1:12].

Pondering the pain and problems in our world, along with our personal indifference, and our inability to get along with one another last night, I posted the following words:

With all the serious issues that our world is facing, with nearly half of the world living in dire poverty, with all of the pain, persecution, and suffering our fellow believers are going through around the world, and nearly one-third of the world with little or no access to the Gospel, God’s people are striving and fighting over trivial issues! 😏‬

Wake Up -2Time to Wake Up Church!!!

Just Reflecting!

O Wretched Man that I Am

Paul“O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (ROM 7:24)

Paul wrote these words from the City of Corinth approximately 25 years after his dramatic salvation experience on the road to Damascus. Most commentators believe these words were written just prior to his leaving for his third and final missionary journey.

At the time of his writing these words, Paul has been saved and serving for many years. He has won many to Christ. He has discipled many in their faith. He has led missions teams into the great harvest fields. He has planted and established many churches. He has written holy scripture. Yet, Paul understood something we often tend to forget. Other than God’s grace, there was absolutely NOTHING GOOD in him.

NOTHING! ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

As I read these words this morning, this thought came to my mind: If I see myself as anything more than a “wretched man” today, regardless of how long I have been saved and serving, I have either reached heights that Paul had yet to reach when he wrote these words. Or, I have become extremely proud!

NO NEED TO SPECULATE WHICH OF THE TWO IS THE RIGHT ANSWER!

It has been said that pride is the last stronghold of the enemy in the life of a “committed” Christian. Our adversary may fail in many areas when it comes to “tripping us up,” but, if we were to be honest this morning, this strategy (causing us to become proud) has been used very effectively in our lives and ministries often!

“The call to humility has been too little regarded in the Church because its true nature and importance has been too little apprehended.” – Andrew Murray

O Lord, help me to see myself accurately in the light of Your word. Keep me humble, hungry, and holy for Your glory!

humility

Half of My Goods to the Poor?

Poor 1Luke 19:8-10,   And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. 9  And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. 10  For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Proverbs 19:17,  He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.

Last night, just before I preached at my home church, they read a Prayer Update from one of our missionaries. He and his family are serving in the country of Panama. While I was in the military, I had a chance to spend about a month in  this country.  For a 19-year old young man from America, the poverty was gut-wrenching to say the least. This missionary mentioned that many of the children in his country only eat one meal a day and his church is doing something about it.

Then this morning, I read the passages above. Great reset button!

Poor 2There are very few topics, if any, found in all of the Bible, that are mentioned more than the topic of God’s heart for the poor and the needy, and His expectation for us, His people, to meet the needs of the poor around the corner and around the world!

When Zacchaeus trusted Christ and was converted, immediately, he was willing to GIVE HALF HIS GOODS TO THE POOR!

How about us?

Whether it is the passages above, which I read this morning, the passages below, or the hundreds of other passages that could be cited, it is very apparent that the God we claim to serve has a heart for the poor, and He expects His children to have that same heart!

Deuteronomy 15:7-11,     If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: 8  But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.  … 10  Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto. 11  For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.

Poor 31 John 3:16-18,   Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17  But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18  My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

James 2:14-18, What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15  If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16  And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17  Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

Poor 4Zacchaeus was willing to give half of his goods to the poor. What are we willing to GIVE for the sake of the poor? Where are we willing to GO for the sake of the poor

Just reflecting!!!

Oh, that Self-Righteous Heart of Mine

SR 1Luke 18:9-14,   And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10  Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12  I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13  And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

This is not only a sad passage above, it’s a sobering passage. Especially for those of of us who have known the Lord for awhile. Those of us who have had the Spirit of God change us, those of us who are “different” than the average “sinner,” and for those of who, whether we realize it or not, might have been overcome with a proud and “religious” spirit!

Has God ever shown you the pride in your own heart? He has me. And, I sadly confess, it’s on a fairly regular basis. And, it’s not a pretty sight!

While reading another passage in Luke’s Gospel this morning, I was reminded that true humility is recognizing that regardless of how long we have served, what accomplishments we have seen, or how many people “pat us on the back,” we are still “unprofitable servants” (LK 17:7-10).

Pride

Someone has rightly said, “All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.”

We need to go to Calvary daily. We need to drop in humility at the foot of the Cross and allow Christ to deal with our sins, rather than focusing our attention on the sins of those around us!

Self-righteousness reveals a heart filled with pride, it makes God sick, and it literally “turns off” the very ones we are called by Christ to reach with the Gospel of Christ!

Just Reflecting!!!

A Source of True Change

Prayer 2“And as He prayed, the fashion of His countenance was altered …” (LK 9:29).

When one reads the Gospels, he finds many things about the Lord Jesus. How He lived? How He loved? How He served? What he taught? And, how He taught it? :^)

One thing that is really hard to miss when we read the Gospels is that our Lord Jesus was a man of prayer. Jesus prayed all the time. He prayed in the morning. He prayed in the evening. He prayed during the good times, and yes, He prayed during the bad times!

Jesus prayed constantly and consistently, and so should we!

I love what one author noted about the importance of prayer:

I often wonder what would transpire if every Christ-follower got serious about installing solid prayer practices into their lives. What kind of kingdom gains do you suppose would be made if each of us made pressing into God through prayer a nonnegotiable part of our everyday experience? I believe hearts would soften. Habits would shift. Faith would expand. Love for the poor would increase. Positive, purposeful legacies would be built. And a ravenous hunger would rumble through us all to get usable and to get used in significant ways by the one true God. We can make this happen in our lifetime, friend. And it all starts with learning, and loving, to pray.

That’s one of my favorite quotes on the topic of prayer. Another author wrote:

Every time I set my face to seeking God in a fresh way, God begins to change my heart, my mind, my preaching, and my leadership skills. When any believer commits his or her heart to seeking the Lord, everything is going to change.

The passage above-when we find Jesus and a few of his disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration –is a really good reminder that a time of sincere, Spirit-led prayer may not always CHANGE OUR CIRCUMSTANCES, but a sincere time of Spirit-led prayer always CHANGES US!

Prayer -1And, I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of changes that I need in my life, so it might not be a bad idea to pray more!

Just reflecting!