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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!"