Posts Tagged With: Trusting God

God’s Mysterious Ways

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Today I wanted to share with you one of the great poems of old which expresses the poignant thoughts of many of Jesus’ Saints down through the years. I find it evocative,  stirring deep feelings of awe and filled with reverant compulsions to worship our mighty God. Enjoy.

 

 

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm. 

 

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will. 

 

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head. 

 

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face. 

 

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r. 

 

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain. 

 

William Cowper, 1774  

Copyright Public Domain

 

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For those who are truly interested in Christianity, and want to know what the bible teaches about God, about mankind, and about being Saved from our sins, please be sure to catch my upcoming series of posts on “Reclaiming Truth from Error,” In them, I’ll be discussing sound biblical doctrine, which every soul needs to be aware of.

Have a great day, and God Bless You!

 

 

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Categories: Christian Doctrine, Christian Living, Faith, Poem, Poetry, Providence, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When An Unsaved Loved One Dies

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The Lord has whispered in my heart concerning you, and His spirit urges me to pray, and to speak His truth into your difficulties which in turn brings strength and peace. In times like these we can go to our well of hope and strength to bask in the Lord’s glory. Suddenly, our burdens lift under the light of God’s wisdom and loving providence. John Piper offers good perspective for difficult times of grief and loss. He writes, “What we must keep our focus on is that God is just, God is good, and God does not do anything that we will not ultimately approve someday.”

The Lord has affirmed this truth to me in a personal way during a time of deep grief and loss.

 

One day we will look back upon all that was painful in our lives and nod in agreement with God. We will understand that He allowed the right thing to transpire at precisely right time, every time. I am glad that God is so big and mysterious. If I were to understand everything He does and all that He allows to happen, He might not seem quite so big and all knowing.  His infinite immensity is more than our imaginations can fathom. As we focus our thoughts upon God’s love, being absolutely convinced of His faithfulness to always do or allow what is best and good, we cling to the knowledge that we belong to Him. Doing so has often helped me to reconcile difficulties in my mind. Like the old hymn says, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to Trust and obey,”—It rings from the hearts of those who can say along with Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”

 

Genesis 18:25 is like the voice of a clarion proclaiming the righteous faithfulness of our majestic Holy One, saying “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” We can rest in the understanding that God will always do precisely what is right and best for His children. He is the only one qualified to judge because He is holy and pure, and He makes judgements on our behalf that display the grandeur of His delectable mercy. But He also has the paternal passion for you and I that elicits tsunami sized waves of compassion and comfort. Let’s lift our voices to our Heavenly Daddy saying, Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  2 Corinthians 1:3-4

 

Go to Him, and rest in His loving arms while trusting that God knows all things and we do not. Trust Him.

 

When Christ returns and gathers you and I to be with Him forever, there will be no sorrow, pain, suffering or tears. This is His promise. How will He accomplish this? I don’t know—nobody does. But what we do know is that God is faithful to keep His word. He will keep all of His glorious promises to you. I know a lot of people, many of whom I do not believe to be saved. I love them, and my finite mind cannot reconcile how I will not be bothered in the least by the fact that they will be in hell while I am in bliss. But I trust God, and I know He can and will keep His promise to wipe every tear from our eyes. Never doubt His love. He has inscribed your name upon His palms. That’s what He said. Rest in the glorious warmth of God’s mighty love, He will comfort you.

In summary, the one thing that will salve our hurting hearts during times of grief and loss is faith in God. Personally, I can feel His love for you in my own heart as He confirms His words of promise that He’s given to us all. Hope is found in Christ Jesus and His love will comfort us.

 

Categories: Bible, Christian Living, Death of Unsaved, Faith, God's Faithfulness, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How To Be Sure Of Heaven

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The question weighs heavy on the hearts of many people: “Am I really saved? If I died today or Jesus returns today, will I go to heaven?”

 

Romans 10: 9-10 promises that if we confess with our mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead that we will be saved.

 

Someone may ask, “But preacher, what about Matthew 7: 21?”  There Jesus said:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

One verse says I just believe and confess, and the other states that I must also do the will of the Father. Is this a contradiction? What is the will of the Father?

 

During Jesus’ earthly ministry the people asked him an important question which weighed upon their hearts, and I believe the same question weighs upon the hearts of people today. They asked, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”  What does God want from us? How can we please Him, and how can we have His favor on our lives? Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:28-29

God would have us believe on His Son Jesus as our Christ (Savior). That is His desire for you. But we must understand what kind of belief this is that God requires. The two verses, Romans 19:13 and Matthew 7:21 are saying the same thing. They actually expound and clarify each other.

Listen to this little illustration of a woman who told her husband every single morning before he and she both left for work, “I love you.” Yet, the wife was having an affair with another man from her job. Hmm, not very loving if you ask me.

Considering that love is an action, rather than just a feeling, she was not at all acting in love toward her husband. She did not really love him. The same is true of belief. If we truly believe, we will show it by our actions.

 

If we really love God, we will want to do His will. We will follow Jesus and obey God’s word to the best of our ability—this is what it means to believe. The kind of faith that saves us is the faith that follows Jesus, acting upon what our intellect believes to be true. This is true saving belief, better known as faith.

 

Very graciously, God has made provision for the times we slip-up and make mistakes, or fall to a temptation that we regret. 1st John 1:9 is a wonderful and a comforting promise. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. God is so very merciful, and He knows how difficult it is for us to be perfect. But here’s the big difference between a non-saved person sinning and a saved person sinning. When a saved person sins they hate what they have done. We hate sin just as God does. We desire to be pure, even though we cannot achieve it on our own. God sees our hearts, and He knows the ones who truly hunger and thirst for righteousness. Jesus said: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” 

 

We believe we are forgiven, because He said we are forgiven. This is a part of believing on Jesus. God is always faithful to His word. We confess that we are sinners and need a Savior. After salvation, we confess our sins to maintain a good relationship with the Lord, and to cleanse our consciences. We turn away from those sins instead of running towards them. In other words, we repent. Our sins are covered by the blood of Christ. We also believe that God is working in our hearts to make those errors fewer and fewer as we mature in faith. It is God’s Spirit working inside you, reproducing holiness and creating the beauty of Jesus inside you! It is a growing process. The bible says that one day the glory that is being created in us will one day be revealed. (That’s in Romans chapter 8)

God bestows salvation based upon our faith. Ephesians 2:8: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–

 

AND THIS SAVING FAITH IS BELIEF IN ACTION!

 

We have such a gloriously wonderful salvation! It is a free gift of God’s truly amazing grace in Christ Jesus. Ours is a relationship of love, of trusting God, and of an intense desire to obey Him, because of our love for Him. Our first act of obedience to God is to be Baptized into Christ and into His church. We will want to be with other people who are saved. God has designed our spiritual growth around the structure of our spiritual family on earth, in the church. We need each other to help us grow, just as with any family. Eternal life and all the riches of Christ are ours through faith in Jesus Christ. Praise God!

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10: 13

 

Pray this prayer with me:

Father God, please reveal your word to my understanding. Thank you for calling me to faith in Christ. I believe in your Son Jesus and the work He did by dying on the cross to take the penalty for my sin. Then he rose from the dead, guaranteeing that I too will be raised up to everlasting life. Please help me to live in a way that reflects my belief in you, my trust in you, and my love for you. Thank you for saving me and giving me this wonderful hope and peace. In Jesus’ precious name, amen.

 

Allow God to speak to your heart today as you read Matthew 7: 13-29. God Bless You!

 

Categories: Faith, Growing in Faith, Salvation, Sanctification, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Time To Rejoice

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There are nearly a dozen hot button topics that have come up over the past week that I had hoped to expound. It would have drawn a lot more readers. But life kept on happening, effectively robbing me of the time I needed to plant my butt in the seat and type. But then again…

Today I want to block out all those other things bouncing around in my thinker, to relate what the Lord spoke to my heart this morning, through His word. Hold onto something now, we are entering my brain.  ☺

We hear the verse often, and most every Christian is familiar with it. I think there’s a danger in over using popular verses. When we hear them, our minds believe we’ve already received the full impact of that particular passage of scripture in the past, and so we don’t really think much about it. Opening my bible this morning, I turned to one such verse.

“This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

I can say with confidence, I’ve read that verse lots of times over the years, and have heard it quoted even more. But let’s dig in, and see if we can draw some deeper meaning than what appears on the surface.

First, let’s list the topics that this verse includes. Certainly it speaks of God’s sovereignty: God is in control. He can do as He pleases. I’m thankful He is a good and loving God, aren’t you?

This verse also proclaims that the Lord is the Creator of time.

Trusting God through whatever the day might bring is another grand principle we need to apply to our minds, which this verse implies.

God is working out His grand plan for mankind corporately. He also has individual, personalized plans for each one of our futures. (Jer. 29:11) He is aligning circumstances and events so that His plan for you will be brought to pass. This verse shouts the topic of Divine Providence.

We should rejoice.

When we can rejoice in the Lord, regardless of what is transpiring around us, or happening to us, God is very pleased. It reveals that we are trusting the Lord, and acknowledging His sovereignty. We are showing our understanding of His providence. We are acknowledging His provision of all we need, and we are joyful over His love. So here’s the thrust of the message I received today. God led me to the book of Job to make the connection.

“He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” Job 2:10

You should already know the story of Job, so I won’t get into that, but suffice it to say that God allowed Job to suffer horrendous tragedies in his life

Yes, it is easy to trust God in the good times of plenty and health. But what about the days when my sciatica is raging, causing terrible pain in my back? What about the days a migraine headache forces me back into bed? Can I rejoice then?

Often, I think I know what needs to be done in order for me to continue growing in holiness. I have mapped out how to best serve the Lord, and what I need to accomplish in order to minister to others. I have my days all planned out. But sometimes God interrupts my plans, with His plan. He might say, “No, Sheldon, today you need a headache.” Will I trust Him still? Will I rejoice in the fact that God knows what he’s doing, and that it’s all for my own good? Can God show love to me by allowing me to have a splitting headache? Yes! I may not enjoy the pain, but I can rest assured that God’s love for me remains intact. I can rejoice because I trust in His wisdom, which eclipses my own.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think people should shout, “Praise the Lord, I have cancer!” I’m not going to actually thank God for my pain. But I am going to thank Him that He is using my pain to shape me into the image of His holy Son, just as He has promised. I will praise Him for aligning events to coincide with, and bring about His perfect will, because His will is better than good.

Another popular verse states, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” Philippians 4:4

If I am going to rejoice in the Lord at all times, even during a sciatica flare up or a blasting migraine, I will need to trust God. I must accept the bad along with the good, as did Job. I must believe that in His providence He is working all things together in a way that will bring about all that is good for me. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

Perhaps I needed to be reminded today that God is in control, and that He loves me very much. Maybe I required a refresher course in remaining joyful over my relationship with Jesus. But then, maybe God simply wanted me to write all of this out so that you would be reminded of these things. Whatever the case, the Lord is working.

Not perceiving or acknowledging God’s loving control does not hinder His plans from progressing, not in the least. But it will harm us, and steal off with our joy. Let’s lift up the mighty name of our glorious God today and rejoice in Him! Because, as we all know, God is good, all the time!

Pray with me:

Heavenly Father, we praise you that you are a holy God, and we praise you for your goodness and your sweet love. May your mighty name be forever exalted. We especially thank you for sending your Son, Jesus to pay for our sins and reconcile us unto Yourself. What an awesome plan of salvation! It is so wonderful that we have this precious relationship with you, and with Your Son, through Your Spirit within. We pray for your will to be done in each one of us, and across the earth. Teach us, oh God, to recognize your Lordship over all things, and to rejoice in the fact that you love us so much. Thank you for providing everything we need to grow in goodness and in godliness. We praise you for nurturing us along, as we become more and more like Jesus. We love you, Lord! We praise your mighty name, Hallelujah! In Jesus’ glorious name, Amen.

Categories: Growing in Faith, Ministry, Providence, Testimony, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Unstressed Servant

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As the multi-plenteous things I needed to accomplish today swirled in my head, and blood pressure began to rise, the Spirit spoke to me. You better spend some time in prayer and bible reading first. I was stressed with a capital “S”. There are just not enough hours in my days to accomplish all I hope to do. It’s possible that I have two hairs left which have not yet turned white.

Yesterday I finished my planned bible reading, and so this morning I realized that I’d failed to plan where to read next. I’ve been through the bible many times, yet it continues to teach me new things, as if it’s growing along with me. So, I did that thing that perhaps others have done at some point. Allowing my bible to fall open, I simply read whatever passage my eyes fell upon.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

That’s all it took to remind me that God is in control, and He has my situation well in hand.

As I began praising God, and thanking Him, another passage flashed through my memory. “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)  

My thoughts were: Christ is the one doing the work, not me. I’m just a tool in His hand. My breathing slowed to become deeper inhalations, and I began to relax. The fact that the work I do is actually Jesus’ work took a considerable amount of pressure off of me. Nobody expects a tool to rise up all by itself and accomplish this or that each day. I must simply yield myself to Christ and be available to do as he directs. He’s the one controlling and empowering the tool (you and me).

Then I flipped the pages of my bible to another random scripture and looked down to read this: (May God) equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ…” Hebrews 13 (Parts of 20 &21).

“Okay Lord, I get it. Forgive me for taking your job onto myself. I’m getting back behind you—help me to follow closely. Please use me for your purposes today, and lead me. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

We can step into each day with confidence, knowing that as long as we are following Jesus everything is going to work out fine. There are still some projects I need to complete, but now I’m relaxed and confident in Christ. Whatever situation you find yourself in today, know that the Lord is with you. Make certain that you are following His lead, and remember, He never fails!

At this juncture in my day a second cup of coffee is calling my name. Mine is always fresh ground, but it would taste much better if you were here having a cup with me.

Faith, hope, love & peace to you today, and may God Bless You.

 

Categories: Faith, Testimony, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

What God Wants to Teach Us

Over the past two weeks I’ve been diligently seeking God’s will for the next phase of my life. I’m still praying over some aspects of what He is leading me to do. It is exciting to know that God has a plan for my future and for your’s as well. Jeremiah 29:11 states the following. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper
you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Whatever God has in store for you and I, we can rest assured that He is leading us towards great success! I’ve been doing a video series on godly success on YouTube. And because I’ve been so occupied with the other things God is leading me to do, I’ve neglected this blog. My apologies for that, and I plan to do all that is in my power to make it up to you. I have some excellent posts in the works. For now, I wanted to offer this 3rd video in the series, “Journey to Success”. Stay Blessed!

Journey to Success 3

Categories: Success, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

How-to: Be Successful (Step One)

SUCCESS 1

Do you hope for tried and true steps to lasting success?

Which work for every worthy venture on planet earth?

You want it to be clear and easy to understand?

“What’s it going to cost me,” you ask?

Here’s the entire cost up front: A little of your time & attention, and a lot of effort. That’s all it costs.

If you are reading further, I suppose you’ve decided to invest a little time and attention. So let’s move on to our efforts.

  1. TRUST IN GOD
  2. Be Willing to Change
  3. Be Determined & Persevere

Step one: Defining Success.

 I have a certain friend who loved to flaunt what he felt was his success. He had more money than most anyone else in our circle of acquaintances. He had more material possessions, and he had a great deal of influence in the world. He also had lots of associates who held him in high esteem. The sad part, however, is that he was not/is not happy; in fact he suffers great depression. Recently, the Lord allowed his entire life to come unraveled. His wife left him, his dog actually died, and his business was in the toilet. God was vying for this man’s attentions, and trying to teach him what real success is all about.

“When our ideas of success are contingent upon bank balances, popularity, influence over others, titles, or any other worldly endeavor, it is extremely temporary! Our success will be as fictional as Marvel’s superhero character, The Flash. Those temporal things can end in a blink of The Flash’s eye.”

Just as with my sad friend, most people today believe the definition of success that the world programs us to believe. We’ve heard it ever since we were toddling around in diapers. “You can do anything you want to do in life.” We are told “Just believe in yourself and try hard enough.” Here in America it is often billed as “The American Dream”. We’ve been taught things such as: “You can even be the President of the United States.” Or, “You can be the best.”

Right out of the starting gate we are programmed to think from an egocentric perspective: It’s all about me. But these notions are diametrically opposed to God’s outline of success for every individual on earth.

When our ideas of success are contingent upon bank balances, popularity, influence over others, titles or any other worldly endeavor, it is extremely temporary! Our success will be as fictional as Marvel’s superhero character, The Flash. Those temporal things can end in a blink of The Flash’s eye.

For Christians, even our identity is bound up in who and what Christ is. Our lives are centered on and around God (theocentric). Instead of struggling to be the best, where our efforts are zeroed in on ourselves, it’s all about Jesus. Our efforts are to serve Him, and to exalt Him in the best way we are able. We make Him the best instead of striving to make ourselves the best. Accordingly, when we do so, God elevates us to the best that we can be. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 1st Peter 5:6
When we discipline ourselves to conform to God’s way of doing and thinking, He rewards us with success. But exactly what is God’s idea of success?

We will be offering God’s definition of success in increments, because success involves many things. It affects every area of our lives, including our finances, our station in life, our popularity, and more. We’ll discuss each of these in turn. But first let’s look at the most prominent characteristics of biblical success.

Success is taking the talents, skills and gifts that God has blessed us with, and putting them to work in a way that does the following.

  1. Trusts God
  2. Brings Glory to God
  3. Increases (Returns a Harvest)
  4. Keeps us Busy

This is not being the “Master of your own Destiny,” as we are taught by the world. Our destiny is in God’s hands, and we must trust Him enough to do things His way. In the Parable of the Talents (Mathew 25:14-30) Jesus indicates the criteria by which our lives as Christians will be measured.

In this teaching Jesus shows 3 servants, representing 3 children of God. There are three for a reason. The first two receive exactly the same rewards (verses 21 & 23). But they were given different amounts to work with. One had been given 5 talents to work with, and the next servant was given 2 talents to work with. The third servant received 1 talent to work with. The first man went to work with what his master had given him, five talents. He increased what he’d been given to double the amount. The second also put his 2 talents to work and doubled them. The one who produced 5 more talents received the exact same reward as the one who produced 2 more talents.

The third servant did nothing with his talent. He hid it in the ground until it was time for the Master to call upon all three of them to give an account of their labors. This is what each one of us must face: A day of reckoning, when we will be assessed for how well we used what God gave us to work with. It’s not the amount that is important. What we do with what we are given and how we use what we are given is what will be gauged. Jesus could have employed only two servants in his illustration, but he didn’t. He used three servants to show that just because one servant has more money, more talent, more skill or greater gifts, it makes no difference on the Lord’s measure of success. God’s expectation is the same for all of His servants and children. We are to use what we are given to the best of our ability for His glory and not our own.

Paul gives a good talk against the world’s egotistic and egocentric idea of success in 1st Corinthians 4. Look at verse 7: For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

How can we boast about having something that somebody gave to us? That’s like the kid at school whose parents are rich. And he or she think they are better than the other kids because they have more money, better clothes and an expensive car that daddy bought for them.

Let’s not think for a moment we are throwing out the good advice of being a hard worker. This is essential if we hope for success. But God is the one who gave you your brain, and your ability to think. Do you have a good head for business? That’s great, but God is the one who gave it to you. Do you work hard? Excellent! But God is the one who gives you the strength to do so. Besides, working hard is simply doing your duty. God gave Adam work in the Garden of Eden as a blessing, to give him extra purpose, and responsibility, without which no one can be happy.

Success is also being happy and satisfied as we accomplish what God has assigned for each of us as individuals to do. While at the same time, exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control. Now that, my friend, is step one for SUCCESS!

To be continued…

 

Categories: Faith, Success, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Church Hopping

“There’s no place like home!” Dorothy made those words famous in the Wizard of Oz. And we all know it to be true. Ideally, there is no place more safe and secure than at home, among your family where you are loved and cared for.

God has ordained that whatever Church congregation you have joined, is your spiritual home until Jesus returns. The members of your congregation are your spiritual family, your brothers and sisters in the Lord. But all too often, when difficulties arise we look for a new church to attend. Usually, God would have us stay put, and mature through adversity.

So how often do Christians change churches because of a dispute, or we feel like we just don’t fit in? Perhaps we say we are not being fed spiritually. Maybe God would have the person who feels that way to do the feeding? Maybe some spiritual family member treated us badly. Many times the divide comes from some doctrinal difference, which in the end, has no real bearing upon salvation or the gospel of Christ.

I’m hoping to present this without giving the impression of finger pointing—Lord knows, I need grace from my spiritual family too. I’ve said and done some dumb things in the past, including changing churches for the wrong reasons.

We see it all too often today: people jumping ship when they realize everyone is not following the same spirit. In a perfect church everyone always agrees with each other and there’s nothing but love. But we all know: that perfect congregation does not exist.

I was that guy, hopping from church to church searching for the right one for me. It had to fit all of my requirements. It wasn’t until God put the thought in my heart that I needed to stop looking for the right church and simply look for a place where I could be of service to others. Rather than, a place that would satisfy my needs. What a tremendous difference this made. For a few years after finding my church home I still thought I was in the wrong church. Why aren’t these people doing what they supposed to do as Christians? I constantly wondered.

Many righteous people today work diligently for the Lord, yet they see little result or reward from their labors. Sadly, some are wearied from working alongside or beneath church leaders who seek to elevate themselves rather than Christ. I too have faced this dilemma in the past. I wanted to change churches and I asked God’s permission to do so many times. But every time He said, “NO!”

Wow, was I ever miserable. Until I finally submitted and said, “Yes Lord.”

I needed to simply remain humble, submit to God, and submit to the leaders who were over me. I had to trust the outcome to the Lord. My leaders had been selecting who they wanted to edify and support, while leaving myself and others out in the cold. They wanted followers for themselves, who would heed their every whim. Oh they did it subtly and covertly, of course. It looked to me as if they were trying to take the place of Christ as head of the church. They would nefariously hold down or suppress those they felt were a threat to their own exaltation. Part of that included refusing to facilitate the obvious spiritual gifts God had given to others. But in so doing, they sabotaged themselves, along with the entire congregation. Every believer’s gifts are for the purposes of edifying their spiritual family—building up their fellow church members, while bringing glory to God. Those church leaders would have been highly exalted by God, had they themselves submitted.

Thank God I did as He directed so that I could learn of His power and ability to transform hearts and lives!

Sometimes the answer may be to change the church family you work with. Far more often, God wants to use that hardship to grow you, and to teach you what diligent and faithful patience will bring.

  1. Trust God to work in that situation.
  2. Simply serve others, love and forgive (this is serving Christ).
  3. Reverse lead your leaders. Perhaps you are there to lead by example, even though the ones you may be leading have been placed in a position above you.

David experienced similar things from his predecessor. Just think of David’s righteous example to King Saul and his followers. Listen to his words in Psalm 37.

Verse 1:Fret not yourself because of evil doers, neither be envious against the workers of iniquity.”

Take comfort in knowing that God sees your dilemma. He watches over you and takes note of your faithful work for Christ. Continue following Him. We are learning to love the unlovable, and forgive the ugliness, just as God loves and forgives us.

Verse 2: “For they shall soon be cut down like the grass and wither as the green herb.”

Yes, we are applying this to leaders of the church, whose hearts may only be half on Christ. Maybe their love is simply lukewarm. Remember, it was the religious leaders of Jesus’ day who drew His harshest criticisms. But even some of them became true followers of our Lord Jesus. Nicodemus comes to mind. Love them through it. Kill the bad with kindness and save the good in them.

Consider this: If you leave that church, how will the innocents of that congregation ever see the light of truth, having only ego driven leaders? Or leaders whose hearts are not fully set on Christ? What about the others?  They need you and your example!

*Most Importantly*

Pray for your leaders. And love them through their spiritual obstacles. Watch God work through your faithfulness and your prayers. Watch His mighty love work and watch how wonderfully He reconciles each one of His children to Himself.

Verse 3: Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and verily you shall be fed.

Continue to trust God for your advancement, and for the freedom to use those God given gifts for the building up of others in the church. You shall be fed and nourished up in Christ; our spiritual sustenance. Wait for God to vindicate you and He will lift you up.

 

The dilemmas I faced at a particular church, which I will not name, have since been resolved. Oh there are still disagreements and possibly we can get on each other’s nerves at times…but isn’t that the same with all families?

You are not free to choose your biological family. Neither are you free to choose your spiritual family in Christ (a particular congregation).

The Spirit of Christ (Holy Spirit) adds you to His church. And then, He is the one who leads you and dictates which spiritual family you will grow among. What an epiphany that was when God first revealed it to me!

Be certain you are walking in the Spirit and following God’s direction when selecting a church home. Then stick with it, for better or worse. But in Christ, it always gets better.

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Finding God in the Storm

This post stirred up a whole lot of discussion on my old blog, and yes, I’m recycling again. But trust me, I’m not simply being lazy. I’m busy with another ministry project and wanted to bless my new readers also with this post. To the faithful followers of my previous blog, as well as to my new followers, thank you. Blessings!

Finding God in the Storm

Some days my suffering felt as if I were sitting next to Job in sackcloth and sharing his ashes.

“Pass me that clamshell there Job, I need to scrape this boil.”

Also like Job, there were times when God was so close I could smell the sweetness of His breath on my shoulder. Up there on the spiritual mountain, where His presence is so real and loud, it’s easy to have faith. But the bulk of my growth, in a spiritual sense, didn’t take place there. It took place in the difficult valleys of hardship.

As anyone could imagine, I wasn’t enjoying those low points in life. I certainly wasn’t having any fun in the midst of those tough circumstances.

Suffering through a separation from my wife thirty-five years ago, I lost my means of employment as well. I became a pauper and a social outcast. Even my church family shunned me.

What happened? How did I go from the exhilaration of sharing glorious moments with the creator of the cosmos, to here? I was stuck in that dismal place, where jagged gray rocks of loneliness, emotional pain, hard toil and suffering were my clinging companions. I was quickly feeling rather disillusioned. Had God failed to follow through with His promises? Was He unfaithful to His word?

Once a person experiences the ecstasy and elation of close fellowship with Jesus, they forever seek to reproduce that experience. Nothing else can measure up to that wonder and joy. And I was having trouble finding my way back up that mountain to where I could feel those wonderful sensations again. I’d had a taste of spiritual heroin and I was instantly addicted to the Lord. His love is like no other.

“By night on my bed I sought him who my soul loveth: I sought him, but found him not. I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him but I found him not.” (Song of Solomon 3:1-2 KJV)

I had yet to unravel the splendid mystery of truth, which lie right there within me. Desperately I would try to manipulate circumstances, cramming them together in the shape I was certain would bring back that sensation of nearness to God. Heaven is perfect and so my circumstances must be perfect if I hoped to attain that paradise. Though I’d never actually assembled those words in my mind, that’s what I thought; my actions proved this to be my belief.

Fervently I prayed and fasted, pleading with God to ease my suffering. I was weak. But it would be through the weakness, and in the hardship, that I would come to discern His strength and comfort, because of those storms. You see, He had never left me. I just couldn’t feel Him. I’ve never seen God, but I’ve seen His omnipotence at work and felt Him most powerfully.

How did I eventually perceive His working in the bad times? How did I come to feel His powerful presence while beneath the black clouds of stormy circumstances? It was the same way that in spirit I stood face to face with God the very first time, up on that glorious mountain of elation. It was through faith, mixed with knowledge from His word.

Immediately upon coming to Christ and placing faith and trust in Him, grace is bestowed upon the believer. That first encounter will be forever cherished as a wonderful epiphany, the apex of elation and joy. It is upon that first moment of standing in close proximity with God, that because of our faith, God reveals Himself to us in all His loving character and divine virtues. Instantly all of the promises of God are ours; the promise of eternal life, the promise that He will never leave or forsake us, and the promise of peace that goes beyond all earthly comprehension. In a nanosecond the entire myriad of promises for supernatural benefits are delivered unto us, the fruit of the Spirit, the hope and joy and strength and comfort. The list goes on and on. It’s a package deal and all these things come along with salvation.

When I first purchased a new laptop, which had been preprogrammed with all sorts of software, I had no idea what to do with most of that stuff. I didn’t even know how to enter data onto a spreadsheet. But I owned it. All those programs were mine. I simply had to learn how to access and utilize them. I’d bought a package deal. And it was the same for all of those precious promises of God. He’d delivered them to me the very first moment I decided to believe and trust Christ as my Savior.

I’m now able to do a lot of things on my laptop, which previously I never dreamt possible. I have the power of those technologies at my fingertips. And I am now, finally, learning to access and benefit from all those promises I’ve received from God as well. I’m becoming adept at finding His presence within the storms of life—within the hardships. Sometimes, He even allows me to perceive some of His jaw dropping purposes in allowing those difficult circumstances to come upon me.

If I never knew how lifting weights would increase my strength, I certainly wouldn’t waste my time and wear myself out like. That work would be for naught. But I do know, and so I lift weights. That’s what my hardships are for too—only the difficulties are spiritual weights—to strengthen my faith in God and teach me how faithful, trustworthy and able He really is. And there are more reasons that only He knows. But we don’t need to know everything. It is enough to be convinced of God’s faithfulness. He is trustworthy. Life experiences through the eyes of faith, combined with the knowledge found in God’s word allows us to experience that closeness to God always. That elation and joy can be ours regardless of where we are or what we are going through.

God’s word equips us for every contingency in life. (See 2 Timothy 3:15-17) It is a part of the package deal of salvation, just as my computer came with an operator’s manual. When we begin a new life in Christ, it is necessary to learn and grow before we can benefit from all of the glorious benefits of God. Every Christian already has all they will ever need. It is merely a matter of learning to use it. Life experiences, whether times of elation, or hardship and suffering, are all a part of learning to wield our faith, trusting Christ in every circumstance.

“Have you seen the one my heart loves?” (Song of Solomon 3:3b NIV)

“His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”
(Song of Solomon 5:16 KJV)

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Thru the Fire—A Powerful Testimony

Jim, a fellow minister of the gospel, is one of the men I work with at West Park church.

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