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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Taking Over.

The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites; go to all the neighboring peoples in the Arabah, in the mountains, in the western foothills, in the Negev and along the coast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates. See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land the Lord swore he would give to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—and to their descendants after them” (Deuteronomy 1:6-8, NIV).

"You have stayed long enough at this mountain..." They had been in the desert of their wandering for 40 years. They had doubted God, fought God, complained at God, and had attempted to rebel against both their leaders AND God. Therefore God allowed them to stay in the desert so as to learn from their mistakes and not to believe that their methods had helped them to get there. But now they had learned what they needed to know. God had disciplined them, He had not punished them. His heart's intention was for them to get to where He had promised them, but it would be on HIS terms, and not by their own hand or mind. This, now, was God's way of letting them see that restoration was at hand. Their time in the desert and then on the mountain had been a result of seperation (from His immediate blessing), preparation (for what He had promised them), and restoration (connecting them to original intent). God is not mad at you. He loves you more than you will ever be able to fathom or understand this side of Heaven. There will be times, however, when He will slow you down or even stop you dead in your tracks from reaching what He has for you. He loves you too much to let you receive His blessings on your terms. Embrace the desert seasons of your life. Let God use the times of separation for preparation for restoration.

"Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites..." It was time to go. Their time in the desert and on the mountain had become their launching pad into the hill country of the very ones that had become the "poster-child" of intimidation from decades past. The Amorites were seen as giants, fierce, and mighty, and were the roadblocks that stood in the way to where God had called them. God didn't instruct them to sneak, to creep, or to crawl, but He did call them to advance. There will be opportunities that God calls you to that is going to require you to step out in faith IN THE DIRECTION of that whih intimidates you. Do not fear. Have faith. Take ownership of the opportunity. Stare intimidation in the face with the grace and strength you receive from God. The time for waiting and preparing is over. It is time to advance. It is time to do what needs to be done to receive what God has destined for you. No more excuses. The giants are big, but your God is bigger!

"See this land I have given you..." God was reminding them that His promises had not become lost in the 40 years of wandering in the desert. God is not bound by the time which is a creation of His own hand. He used that time to bring them closer to HIMSELF before bringing them closer to the promise. But here they were. God showed them the land. It was still there. It was also still theirs. He reminded them that He had given it to them. There was nothing that could stand in the way of their receiving the inheritance that had always been purposed for them, EXCEPT FOR THEM. By their doubt, they could miss it completely. By giving into fear over faith, they could bypass the best that God had laid up for them and for generations to come. It was theirs. All they had to do was to trust Him, see what He saw, and receive it in their hearts. If you don't receive what God has for you in your heart, by faith, you will never receive it in your hand, by fact. Look at what God has promised you. Trust Him completely. See it as He sees it. Yours. Let your life, your words, actions, thoughts, and attitudes reflect the faith that reads, "This is mine and I will have it, because God has promised it to me."

"Go in and take possession of the land..." He was bringing them close, not that they could sit, dream, and wonder, but so that they could go in and take ownership of what was theirs. This had been God's promise to them. Since God is sovereign, and God knew before time began what would be theirs, this land had ALWAYS been theirs. It was time to go in and take back what had been inhabited by those that were never intended to be there. To go in and take possession was going to be a matter of war. It was going to take a fight. Those that were there, the Amorites, had decided because no one had claimed the land, it would be theirs, and they would use fear and intimidation to keep out anyone who dared to think otherwise. God had told them that this was the land HE had given them, which meant He was there with them, and would equip them with everything necessary to go in and take what was theirs. What about for you? You're not going to receive the breakthroughs or the answers to prayer you want by sitting by wishing, hoping, and praying faithless prayers. Whatever is rightly yours, given to you by God, but has been invaded and taken over by the enemy, is going to take a FIGHT to get it back. Are you afraid of the fight. Do you have faith to believe that you can achieve EVERYTHING that God has said is yours? It's time to fight, not with the weapons that have become culturally acceptable and justified. The warfare in which you will engage in is on a completely higher level, to the pulling down of every stronghold that even tries to separate you from ALL that God has promised and destined for you. It's time to fight! It's time to believe! It's time to pray! It's time to go in with the battlecry of PRAISE and TAKE ALL that God has for you! The devil can't have your peace. The devil can't have your marriage. It's time to take back the control he has had over your finances, your family, and your faith. Take it back! It's yours! Go in and take possession of the land!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Love Even.

Vengence. It is the way of our culture. It is the justifiable means of righting our wrongs and bringing fulfilling closure to our hurts and healing to the wounds that have been inflicted upon us. Even in the context of Christianity and church, the welfare of vengence is alive and well. It may not be as apparent as other tales of vengence have been told. Vengence isn't always about what is done, but sometimes by what is not done. There are many of us who claim to know God and love God, but are so preoccupied by the nursing of our own wounds that we don't see ourselves as living in a hyprocisy of not loving those who have inflicted those wounds upon us. If 1 Corinthians 13 (love is patient and kind, not rude or self-seeking, and keeping no record of wrong) really is more than just a poetic recitation at weddings and church Valentine banquets, then there is a definition of love that must be realized even in the moments when our hurts are most obvious.

You can't love God and hold hate, resentment, bitterness, or unforgiveness for another...especially against another believer. Life is never about getting even, but about loving even...EVEN WHEN it still hurts. There will undoubtedly be seasons in life where you will be hurt by those who love you, or at least claim to love you. There will even be times when someone who loves you, yet continues to hurt you, claims to have a passionate relationship with God and declares their love for God. It will hurt badly as it appears to be a glaring contradiction, and all you want to do is point out that contradiction because of the hurt you hold on the inside.

Love EVEN WHEN you don't understand and their actions don't make sense. Love EVEN WHEN your mind wants to think of them as hypocritical, judgmental, and a living contradiction. Love EVEN WHEN it would be easier to hold onto the wounds. Love EVEN WHEN they use your words, actions, or past against you, though they seem blinded by their own obvious infractions of the same. Love EVEN WHEN you want to stop loving. Remember, Jesus loved you EVEN WHEN you were still dead set against Him. He loved you EVEN WHEN you were still a sinner. He loved you EVEN WHEN you didn't deserve it.

Don't focus on getting even. Let God help you in the toughest moments of life to LOVE EVEN...EVEN WHEN.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Take it from Here.

"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love" (2 Peter 1:5-7, NIV).

"...make every effort to add to your faith..." You have a responsibility in growing in your own faith relationship with Jesus. He has done everything that is needed to give you access to all that you need. You, however, have to do it. In other words, "take it from here." The faith you have is in Him and because of Him. How you live out your faith is up to you.

"Make EVERY effort." It's not always going to be easy, and at times, you're going to want to give up, quit, and move on to something else. Don't give in. Make every effort to add what He has given you to what He wants to do in you. There is such a temptation to give into spiritual laziness that if you "just pray," God will take care of everything. Yes...pray. Many times however, what God will do is to perform inside of you and to position you so that YOU can step out and apply it in action.

Imagine the conversation Peter could have had with Jesus when Jesus encountered them in the boat as He walked towards them on top of the water:

Jesus: It is I.
Peter: If it's you, Lord, invite me to come out and walk with you on the water.
Jesus: Okay. Come on out. You can do it.
Jesus: Hey Peter, I said you could do it. Come on out and walk on the water with me.
Jesus: Peter, why do you look so conflicted and confused.
Peter: Lord, I want to walk on the water with you. Help me to do it.
Jesus: Peter, I will help you to do it, but I'm not going to move your feet for you.
Peter: But Jesus, that would make it so much easier and would involve any fear.
Jesus: I know, but it wouldn't involve any faith, either. I've given you the water to walk on. I've given you the feet so that you can walk. I've given you the invitation calling you out to me to walk on the water. I've even given you the faith. Now Peter, you just have to choose whether or not you will trust me enough to add to your faith the action that will propel you to walk on top of what the other 11 in the boat see as impossible.

When you pray, believe that Jesus hears you and answers. But be ready to add to your faith the action that will propel you towards the answer He has for you.

Friday, September 4, 2015

In His Hands.

"Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God" (Psalm 31:5, NIV).

It's vital that you live your life in the same attitude of this declaration from David. There is such a tendency to live according to our own way, what makes sense to us, or what is prescribed by the changing tide of our surrounding.

"Into your hands..." It's not about you. It's about recognizing the futility of living your created life void of acknowledging the Creator. Each day, place your life and your day into the hands of the One who formed you first in His mind, and then with His hands. You are not your own. You are created of God and by God for the pleasure of God. He delights in you and loves you with an everlasting love.

"I commit my spirit..." Your breath, your very life, must be committed to God. He won't force you to live it for Him, but you are called to make a choice. Each choice you make will be met with a consequence. Choose to commit. The word "commit" in this context is to "hand over charge to someone else; to give governorship to another." Release yourself from the pressure and the unsustainable responsibility of being your own master. You were never created with the ability nor the capacity to succeed in that manner. Trust Him with YOU.

"Deliver me..." You will never be able to escape successfully from every trap you will face in this life. There will be seasons of your life that you will know that you are surrounded by obstacles that are closing in that you can't escape. Life is bigger than you. But never forget that the creator and author of all life is BIGGER STILL. He can and will deliver you if you call upon HIS NAME. He loves you so much more than you can imagine. He cares for your own life more than you do, because you are His own investment. He created you. He loves your children, your family, or whatever else really matters to you, even more than you do. Trust Him for deliverance from the moments that overwhelm you. His success rate is already so much greater than anything you will ever achieve on your own.

"Lord..." He is master. He is the One in charge, or at least He longs to be. Let Him be Lord over all things in your life. It has been said that, "If He's not Lord OVER ALL, then He's not really Lord AT ALL."

"...faithful God." God may not always do what you want or when you want it, but He is faithful. He is faithful to His word. He is faithful to His promise. He's not faithful to your incomplete understanding of His word or promise, but He is faithful to a destiny for you that is more complex and complete than anything you can fathom, even in your wildest imagination. Whatever you are facing right now, give it to Him. He is faithful. He will not violate you, take advantage of you, nor will He abandon you. Your life is in better hands when you've placed it all in His hands.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

I Need to Hear You Speak, Lord!

"The voice of the Lord shakes the desert; the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh" (Psalm 29:8, NIV).

There is creatively epic power when the voice of God speaks. In the darkness of what we know of as the beginning of time, God's voice shook up the silence and forever changed the face of darkness when He commanded, "Let there be light." When Jesus stood on the boat during a storm of destructive and fatal proportion and declared, "Peace! Be still!" a total calm overwhelmed all that had violently threatened all aboard. When Jesus spoke to the other side of a tombstone, "Lazarus, come forth!" He demonstrated the power of life over the power of death. On the cross, when Jesus proclaimed with complete compassion that rocked the world, "It is finished," the power that was displayed during creation was now made public for all to see and would change the course of humanity for all who would receive that word into their lives.

What area of your life are you needing to hear the voice of God speak?

...CREATION? Are you needing God to speak to the darkness in your life? Are you ready to abandon what has become normal, even though you know that you are totally lost? Listen to that voice that longs to declare the LIGHT OF JESUS in your life. It is a light that will change your tired and ineffective outlook and perspective on everything.

...CALMING? Like Jesus standing on the boat in the midst of the storm, are you desperate to find that same tranquility restored in the midst of your chaos? Let the voice of Jesus calm the storm...even the storm inside of you. The situation around you may not change, but allow Him to change you in the mindst of your situation. He will restore a calm in your life that will allow you to rest, though the storm around you rages. You will rest because you are confident in the One who speaks and calms the storm. Let Him start with the storm inside of you.

...RESURRECTION? Like Lazarus' death of four days had brought an incredible stench to the grave, are you longing for the voice of God to speak LIFE back into you and into areas of your life? What's died? Your passion for life? Your energy? Your health? Your marriage? Your finances? Your hope? Let the voice of Jesus speak the overcoming power of LIFE into the dead areas of your life and heart. Let Him revive and resurrect within you the purpose He has created and founded for you.

..COMPLETION? Are you afraid that nothing sustainable in your life will ever be fully completed? Do you fear that the work of God in your life will be like many other projects in your life that have been started with great ambition but ended up unfinished with great apathy? Let the FINISHING work of Jesus speak hope and confidence in your life that IT IS FINISHED. Every good thing that God has intended for your life has already been accomplished. All you have to do is to depend upon Him and wait on His timing. During the waiting, you can rest assured that God is working on You and preparing you for the absolute best that He has for you!

Listen for the voice of God to speak!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Be Reminded.

"Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good..." (Titus 3:1, NIV).

This was a reminder Paul knew wouldn't be easy nor preferable for the people to always put into action, as it could easily go against personal feelings. Nevertheless, the reminder was of God and is applicable and beneficial for those who follow Christ today.

"...be subject to rulers and authorities." Simply put, respect and honor those who are in leadership over you. You don't have to agree, but you are called to submit. When human laws attempt to usurp the authority and the truth of God's laws, you are to follow God in the obedience to which He has called you. But in doing so, you are to remain respectful and honorable.

"...to be obedient." Obedience is better than sacrifice and service. God hasn't called you to obligation. He called you to obedience. Listen to His voice. It will inevitably, at times, conflict with your feelings and your preferences, but obedience will guide you in the continual favor and protection of God's presence.

"...to be ready to do whatever is good." God has called you to righteous living. This doesn't mean "good" as you interpret or perceive good, but how GOD sees "good." There is nothing truly "good" that contradicts the standards of God's holiness or the character of Him who is called good.

"...to slander no one." You've heard the old addage, "if you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all." Choose not to speak ill against those who have also been created in the same image of God as you. You can speak words of rebuke and correction and still maintain the heart of Christ. Let the words you speak always be motivated by the restorative love of Jesus.

"...to be peacable and considerate." Don't live in conflict. Choose to consider others over yourself. Let compassion and humility be guiding forces in your life. Pursue peace over position. Don't always attempt to "one up" or "be on top" in a conversation. It's not about being walked over. It's about standing on something more sturdy and strong than the fragility of personal ego.

"...be gentle toward everyone." Everyone is a pretty strong word that doesn't leave much room for interprative liberties. Gentleness IS part of the fruit of the spirit and THAT MEANS it is part of the EVIDENCE that the Spirit of God is working in you.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Control Freaks.

"The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you" (Titus 1:5, NIV).

Paul left Titus so that Titus could actually apply the lessons Paul had taught.

Sometimes you have to leave and release people to do what needs to be done. The more you stand over the shoulder or are always there for the rescue, the unprepared you help them to be and the burned-out you become.

LET GO. Learn to let go. Learn to have boundaries. Become OK not having your hand in every little thing. You're not really saving anything. You're actually killing it very slowly, because you are insisting that it all relies on you. News flash: ONE DAY YOU'RE NOT GOING TO BE AROUND. Then what? Learn to let go.

LET THEM. When you let go, you are able to release and let THEM do it. No one will ever learn to be truly successful unless those who teach, at some point, get out of the way and let THEM try it out for themselves. By hanging on, you are showing that you don't trust and that you don't believe in others. Even Eagles kick their young out of the nest and let them fall in order to teach them to fly. Be secure in the abilities of others, even when they seem to surpass your own.

LET GOD. God is in control. Let Him be. Trust God in all things. Trust God that HE cares about what needs to be done even more than you do. Let God guide you. The more you are in control, the more God is not. Let God have all that matters to you. Trust Him with the details. Let God be your strength. Let God lead.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Overcoming the Frustration of Comparison.

"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes" (Psalm 37:7, NIV)

Have you ever given into the frustration of comparison? There will be times in your life when you see others who look like they are doing less, trusting God less, and doing RIGHT less actually getting more. It seems unfair, right? Let God use those times in your life to draw you closer to Him. When all you see is HIM, rather everyone else doing everything else, you will be sustained by a peace that passes all understanding.

BE STILL. Stop trying to accomplish more on your strength than God wants to accomplish in you and through you with His strength. Be still and rest. Be still and focus on Him. Be still and listen to Him. You can't truly look at Him and listen to Him if you are constantly moving frantically trying to do something, be something, or go somewhere when all He wants you to do is to BE STILL.

WAIT. Learn to have a greater expectation in who God is rather than in who you are. "Waiting" doesn't mean to be idle. It means to trust and to expect in what has been promised to come. God never stops be God and doing what He has always done. You, however, are limited by the concept of time. What God does is perfect and in perfect timing. There may be things God is doing that you will never understand this side of Heaven. But don't lose peace. Trust Him in the waiting. The waiting will remind you of and reinforce the awesomeness of His presence.

DON'T FRET. There is no reason to fear and give into anxiety when you knw that you are being held in the hollow of the hand of God. He is with you. He hasn't left you nor forsaken you. In the presence of God, fear suffocates, can't breathe, and loses all power. Keep your focus on Him who gives you peace rather than on the dealings of those around you who exacerbate your tendency to worry and to fear.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Choose Now.

"Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted" (Isaiah 1:5, NIV).

God was speaking, through the Prophet Isaiah, to a nation that was already facing massive consequences for their actions of turning away from serving God. How much more could they take? What more would it have to take?

What about in your life? What will it take for you to really know who God is and that He has an incredible plan for your life? What about those moments when you know that you've encountered Him, He's spoken to you, and you accepted the opportunity to make a change? How has THAT moment in the past made a difference in your present?

When you make a commitment and then choose not follow through, it makes it easier to avoid the voice of God when He speaks. It doesn't diminish the truth of what He says, nor does it minimize the ensuing consequences. Let God speak to you. He loves you. He has a plan for you.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Need for Compassion.

“If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you" (Leviticus 25:35, NIV).

Sometimes we are nicer and more compassionate to a stranger in need than we are to those around us. Whether we help out the stranger, or not, we at least see that he is there. At times, we live in blindness to the need for compassion in those that live closest to us. So, what's the answer?

Open your eyes. See what's going on. Be willing to take your eyes off of you and see what's going on in the lives of real people around you, especially those that are closest to you.

Open your hearts. Allow yourself to be moved by the struggle of another. Let your heart feel what they feel. Sometimes the greatest thing you can do for anyone is to share the burden. You may not be able to change anything, but the power of sincere empathy and sympathy have potentially a greater impact than anything else you could ever give. It's just knowing that you care.

Open your hands. Extend yourself out of the busyness and the routines of your world into the lives of those who might be struggling. Open your hands and give a little of YOU. What do you have to give? Give an ear to listen, a shoulder lean on, and hand to guide, or just some time to invest in them during their time of trial. Be open with what God has given you.

Praying through the Problems.

"Save me, O God, by your name; vindicate me by your might. Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth" (Psalm 54:1-2, NIV).

David, anointed by God but running for his life, knew that there was power in prayer. He knew that when he prayed that God was listening. Rather than give up and quit, he continued to depend upon the sovereignty of Almighty God.

SAVE ME. David knew he was in trouble. He was being hunted down like a rabid animal. There were few places left to turn, but he had come to know that his greatest and only true refuge was in God. He called out to God to save him by his "name." The word "name" means "character, rank, reputation, or authority." David had come to know God in such a way that He was confident in the reputation of God. He had seen what God could do. He had seen God intervene when the lion and the bear and tried to threaten his life and the welfare of his flock. He had directly observed how God had empowered him when facing off with the fear-inducing Goliath. God's reputation was not lost on David.

VINDICATE ME. David knew that he was inadequate to right the wrongs of those who were after him. He had come to know that in the natural, those who were for him were greater in power and in number than those who were with him. But he also knew, that with God with him and for him, there was no power on earth that could stand in the way of the plans of God. He trusted God to right the wrongs. He gave his hurt and his anger and his vengeance to God. He did not allow his emotions to drive him off the path God was leading. He left it to the Lord.

HEAR ME. He trusted to the ears and the heart of God. He knew that no matter where he was, that God was also there. He would one day write in Psalm 139 that "Where can I go from your presence? If I go up to the heights you are there. If I make my bed in the depths you are there..." David knew that God would hear when he called out His name. He prayed with confidence.

LISTEN TO ME. David knew that God would hear him. He also prayed a confident plea for God to listen to him. To listen is to fully hear and apply to an action or a solution. David wasn't praying words to an invisible God. He was crying out for a solution, for intervention. He cried out to the God who had always been there for him to hear and to listen by turning it all to solution. David trusted, therefore had the confidence to pray, to believe, and to wait.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Exiled.

"Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding; those of high rank will die of hunger and the common people will be parched with thirst" (Isaiah 5:13, NIV).

The people of Israel had traded understanding based on trust and obedience for an understanding that was based on the "here and now" of their lusts and desires. They lost their understanding of the covenant that God had made with them. They lost their understanding of what He said would happen if they chose to follow a different path, one that was without His protection, provision, and void of His presence. They were now headed towards exile because of their lack of understanding. Their lack of understanding wasn't a matter of ignorance. THEY KNEW. He told them what would happen. They chose not to believe Him, therefore they traded their understanding of God for a belief that they had become their own god. Their lack of understanding was not ignorance, but rather, intentional. They chose.

When you choose to go off the path that God has already laid out, there will be consequences you will endure. When there is a lack of understanding, there will be a time of exile. You will experience a great and unquenching thirst when you are living in the exile of your own desires. You will search, but you will not find.The only way to quench the thirst for true satisfaction is to find it in the God who created you and loves you more than you can fathom this side of heaven. Don't live in ignorance, nor in the intentions of self-serving desires. Be intentional about following the path God has for you. On that path, you will find hardships and obstacles, disappointments and face potential discouragement, but you will also enjoy the presence of God that will never leave you as you stay on the path He has marked for you. You will drink of Him and you will be satisfied.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Facing the Fight.

"And the LORD said to Isaiah, 'Go out to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-jashub your son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer's Field. And say to him, 'Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands, at the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Remaliah"'" (Isaiah 7:3-4, ESV).

The King of Judah, from the House of David, had just been told that the King of Israel had joined forces with others with the intention of overthrowing and overtaking Judah. God had spoke through Isaiah to give these words to the King of Judah. When it seems like life has surrounded you with the full intent of overtaking you, you can trust that God is still with you, has a plan for you, and will never leave you.

USE CAUTION. Isaiah told the king to "be careful." Even when you are trusting in the Lord, there is still a measure of caution you are to live within. Don't mistake His protection for a liscense to suspend wisdom in your life. Whatever you are facing in your life, ask God to give you the wisdom you need. As you are placing your situation into His hands, be careful. Slow down. Keep your eyes on Him. Don't run ahead and risk of taking the bull by the horns with your OWN hands. Stay alert. There is an enemy in your life that is patiently awaiting you to slip up, mess up, and fall down. As Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5, "Stay alert. Your enemy, the devil, is roaming like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour." Don't lose sight of what is right and wrong. Don't loosen your grip on the disciplines and commitments you have made before God.

STAY CALM. King Ahaz would certainly face moments of potential anxiety with the knowledge that he was being confronted by an emeny coalition. In your life, you will face like moments of anxiety, discouragement, and threates. There is an enemy that seeks your destruction. But never lose sight that there is a God, in Christ Jesus, that guards your heart and mind, guaranteeing you the assurance of a peace that transcends ALL undertanding. Stay calm. Don't allow the situation you are facing to intimidate you or to infect your mind or your mouth. When you choose to stay calm, you have greater control over your attitude, over your temper, and over your words. When you are calm, the presence of Jesus is more evident in your life.

BE CONFIDENT. "Don't be afraid," continued the prophetic voice of Isiah. With the absence of fear comes the presence of confidence. When you are afraid, there can be no trust and no confidence in God. When you let your faith answer the door when fears come knocking, you will soon find that there's no one there. Be confident in the strength and the size of your God. Don't look at yourself through your eyes nor through the eyes of your situation. Stay focused on the eyes of God so that you are able to see what your facing through the eyes of the One who ALREADY sees it as a VICTORY. Be confident in the One who gives you strength, who sustains you, and who brings you to great success.

HAVE COURAGE. "Do not lose heart..." Don't allow discouragement to overtake you. When your focus is on what your facing rather than on WHO faces it with you, you WILL give into discouragement. Remember, however, that you serve a God who is with you, who goes before you, and who is greater and more powerful than any situation or enemy that you will ever face. Stay close to the truth of Psalm 3. "You, O Lord, are a shield around me. You're the glory and the One who holds my head up high." Face your fight with courage that comes from a confidence in the One who has already declared that "IT IS FINISHED." When you know that He is with you, you can walk and run in a courage that proclaims, "I AM MORE THAN AN OVERCOMER!"

Friday, January 9, 2015

Extended Trust, 5: In the Perseverance

“…So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.” Paul’s extended trust led to his extended obedience. Had he given into his initial reactions or to his emotions, he would have been robbed of the God’s purpose in his life. He would have also unintentionally robbed others from the receiving what God had for them, as well as those who were on his team. Paul persevered. He heard the voice of God. He trusted.

We’re almost there. We are close to departing the soil of what is familiar and arriving in a land that is not. From the moment this journey began, there have been many moments that have required trust. Don’t underestimate the power or the strategic determination of your enemy. He will work through tools of self-doubt, fear, conflict, and controversy. All of this in order to knock you off track of focusing on Jesus and the purpose of why you are on this team. Persevere. Keep your eyes on Him and persevere. Keep trusting Him over your feelings and over your fears. Through your extended trust and your extended obedience, you will see His extended reward for you.

Extended Reading Option: Romans 5:3-5

Extended Journal Option: How have you seen God change you, even in the slightest, by trusting Him? What is one thing God is teaching you about trusting Him and not giving up?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Extended Trust, 4: In the Uncertainty



“…because I have many people in this city…” Paul had no idea what this meant. He knew what he felt. He knew what he had seen. He knew what he thought. Extended trust, however, called for him to know and to receive what Christ had said. Even though he couldn’t see it and wasn’t aware of the fact, God was already prepared to advance the purpose for which Paul was called. Yes, there were those that were against him. But, there were those that God had already placed in the right place and at the right time that were for him. Paul had to resist doubting in the uncertainty and trust God extendedly.

We have already learned that no matter how well we try to prepare for what’s coming next, there are always unexpected detours. Our first temptation is to give into the uncertainty and begin to doubt. We find it easier to give into what we do see rather than to hope for what we can’t see. Trust God in the uncertainty. Don’t allow your mind to jump to conclusion about how things should’ve been, should be, or how you would do things differently. Trust God. Trust that He has a plan. Ask Him to reveal what He might be using the uncertainty to teach you. Besides, if everything always worked out according to plan, might we trust the plan more than trusting God?

Extended Reading Option: Jeremiah 29:11

Extended Journal Option: God knows the purpose and the plans He has for you. Describe how trusting Him through the uncertainties of your life can help encourage someone else? How has trusting Him changed you?