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How Can We Have Renewal, part 2

Which way will you choose? Renewal, part 2

Thank you for reading the last post, “How Can We Have Renewal? part 1”.

The importance of practicing the presence of God cannot be overstated.

When we find ourselves confused, bewildered, angry, doubtful, grief-stricken and ready to “throw in the towel”, where do we turn? What immediately comes to mind? Is it exercising, gardening, pursuing a hobby, cleaning the house, or going for a walk? Some of these activities I think can be healthy outlets to taking our minds off that which we obsess and at the very least have us doing something constructive. Many people have learned over time to turn to unhealthy habits such as work (when the family is neglected), alcohol, drugs, pornography, sex, gambling, shopping, abusive anger and other addictive vices.

We all have times where we start obsessing on things and situations in our lives that don’t make sense, are painful, painful to others and incredibly frustrating. Things that, for the most part, are beyond our control. These painful and confusing situations we face are common to everyone. No one on the planet past, present or future is immune from pain, including Jesus. As humans, it is simply not healthy to bottle up the pain or ignore it.

Eventually, the pain becomes so great that we cannot ignore it.

If we continue to wallow, obsess and focus on the painful circumstance that surrounds us, the anger will build up, the depression will go deeper, the isolation will increase and we become weak in so many ways. The pain gets worse, friends disappear and God becomes more distant. After a while, after staying in the muddy and murky situation we become hardened, lifeless, and without joy. For those that harbor resentment, anger, un-forgiveness, and depression, their physical bodies begin to suffer. The result of this can be ulcers, hair loss, headaches, heart conditions, cancer and ultimately death.

How do we turn the tide and let go of it? How do we get out from under this murkiness? Remaining in this lowly place is as sinful as anything else. For when we stay there, we lose faith, lack hope, have no love to offer and really become unproductive and useless for God’s purposes. This is right where the devil wants us.

What can we do? What remedy do we have?

The answer can be seen in the actions of a young child. When a three-year-old boy falls and scrapes their knee, where does he go? How about when a child has her toy taken away, where does she turn? When a child disobeys and her privileges are removed, who does she cry out to? That’s right, they come to their mommy or daddy for consolation and comfort. They will crawl into mommy’s lap and she will kiss their boo-boo and somehow make all their pain go away. Mommies and daddies have a way of doing this by just their mere presence. Not long after a child cries for what seems like hours, the pain is gone. The toy is forgotten, they’ve learned their lesson, and the boo-boo is hidden by a Flintstones bandage.

It is most joyful to know that coming to God brings the same result, that is when we know and love Him as our heavenly Father. The more you love and know Him, the more joyful this relationship becomes.

Galatians 4: 6 And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” 7 Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.

Of course, this message only applies to the believer, those who fear God and put their trust in Him. They know who their heavenly father is.

“There is no peace for the wicked.” (Isaiah 48:22)

For those people that do not know Him cannot take solace in this message. I have no hope to offer those that reject Him. They reject their Creator and remain ignorant, some willfully.

2 Peter 3:  3 Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. 4 They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”

5 They deliberately forget that God made the heavens by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. 6 Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. 7 And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.

Just as flesh and blood are common to all people, past, present, and future, so is the Creator common to all people, past, present, and future. He created you and knew you before you were born. He wants you to know Him and to be your Father.

If you aren’t a parent, pretend for a minute that you are. Imagine your child crying out to someone else’s parent. What if your ten-year-old child visits your neighbor’s house when he’s hungry. Imagine your sixteen-year-old daughter seeking advice from their friend’s parents or asking them to buy a prom dress. As a parent, would this not make you a bit angry or in the least be painful?

How do you think God feels when we treat Him like this?

Isaiah 65:
2 All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people.
But they follow their own evil paths
and their own crooked schemes.
3 All day long they insult me to my face
by worshiping idols in their sacred gardens.
They burn incense on pagan altars.

As a small child, all we knew was to cry out to mom or dad but as we grew older and if that dependency was not transferred to the Eternal One that we are ultimately accountable to then we learn to trust in everything but God. This is why it is so essential for fathers to teach their children about trusting in God and setting this example.

Deuteronomy 4: 9 “But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren. 10 Never forget the day when you stood before the Lord your God at Mount Sinai, where he told me, ‘Summon the people before me, and I will personally instruct them. Then they will learn to fear me as long as they live, and they will teach their children to fear me also.’

If we trust in everything but God, where will that lead us?

That could mean we trust in people (friends, family, and anyone else that seems smart) or governments, banks, employers, horoscopes, religion and everything in between. In other words, idolatry. Then when the people, governments, banks, employers, horoscopes, and religion fail us we seek comfort through those activities mentioned earlier for relief.

Deuteronomy 30:  15 “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. 16 For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.

Knowing this should make our choice between life and death ever so clear. It is to choose God or anything else. This makes it very simple for the devil. He will think to himself “If I can only keep people distracted by anything instead of knowing the Almighty God in Heaven, I will keep them from life.”

The choice we have to make is a daily one. 

Am I choosing to start each morning by yielding myself to God? Do I surrender to Him before doing anything else? Am I setting apart time each day to read His Word and seek Him in prayer? Do I meet with His followers regularly to give encouragement and receive comfort and sense of family?

God loves you and He wants you to get to know Him. It is a win-win situation when we decide to make every effort to put Him first in our lives, give everything over to Him and pursue Him wholeheartedly.

Hosea 6:
6 I want you to show love,
not offer sacrifices.
I want you to know me
more than I want burnt offerings.

Let these words from Jeremiah sink into your soul.

Jeremiah 17:
5 This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
who rely on human strength
and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
6 They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
in an uninhabited salty land.

7 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit.

9 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
and desperately wicked.
Who really knows how bad it is?
10 But I, the Lord, search all hearts
and examine secret motives.
I give all people their due rewards,
according to what their actions deserve.”

14 O Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed;
if you save me, I will be truly saved.
My praises are for you alone!

Will you turn your heart toward Him?

“Dear God, please have mercy on me. I am such a sinful creature, completely lost and hopeless without You. You are my Maker, the One who knit me in my mother’s womb. Please show me how to follow you more faithfully. Help me to learn how to trust in you. Keep me on your path so that I might have the joy that only you can give and sing praises to you so that everyone may hear. For your namesake Lord, please keep me from falling away. I want to know you more, please reveal yourself to me. Thank you for having patience with me and for all that you have done in my life. Let all that I am praise the Lord! In Jesus’ name, I pray this prayer, Amen.”

Photo by Dominik QN on Unsplash

 

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If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or “Bible Time” come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God’s Word.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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How Can We Have Renewal?

How Can We Have Renewal? part 1

Let’s start 2018 with renewal! I hope you had a great Christmas and New Year.

Yes, I am late to the party, sorry for taking so long to get this blog post out. I have many more, promise. 🙂

If you have enjoyed or benefitted from any of my blog posts, I’d sure love to hear from you, thanks!

And now for the message…

One of the great things I love about God is His ability to renew.

Over the next few posts, I’d like to discuss the various types of personal renewal that we can experience.

We’ll start today with what I call the “That’s not fair!” renewal.

This is the renewal that someone can experience when it seems that life is not going as planned and things don’t look good. Frustration sets in. You may not relate to this, perhaps everything is going well for you and that what is taking place on the planet makes sense to you.

But if it’s the case that things aren’t going well for you and the world doesn’t make sense, you may be moved at one time or another to say “That’s not fair!”.

This applies to those times when we are frustrated, confused, angry, grief-stricken, doubtful, depressed, exhausted, and so on.

Can you relate to Jeremiah’s emotions?

Let’s look at a couple examples in the Bible so that we can learn from the Master himself.

Jeremiah 15:
10 Then I said,
“What sorrow is mine, my mother.
Oh, that I had died at birth!
I am hated everywhere I go.
I am neither a lender who threatens to foreclose
nor a borrower who refuses to pay—
yet they all curse me.”

Here I think Jeremiah is having a bad day, don’t you? Actually, it’s an extremely bad day, the man wishes he’s never been born! Let’s see how God responds:

11 The Lord replied,
“I will take care of you, Jeremiah.
Your enemies will ask you to plead on their behalf
in times of trouble and distress.

God seems to take it well, reassuring Jeremiah that he’ll be taken care of.

But Jeremiah’s not done complaining yet:

15 Then I said,
“Lord, you know what’s happening to me.
Please step in and help me. Punish my persecutors!
Please give me time; don’t let me die young.
It’s for your sake that I am suffering.
16 When I discovered your words, I devoured them.
They are my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name,
O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.
17 I never joined the people in their merry feasts.
I sat alone because your hand was on me.
I was filled with indignation at their sins.
18 Why then does my suffering continue?
Why is my wound so incurable?
Your help seems as uncertain as a seasonal brook,
like a spring that has gone dry.”

I don’t know about you, but this is hard for me to read.

Jeremiah is going through a lot of emotions here and is having a really rough go of it. Life is not fair and he’s making sure that God hears it. He seems ready to throw in the towel. I really think that what he says is ok up until that last sentence. I think that is what sparked this response from God:

19 This is how the Lord responds:
“If you return to me, I will restore you
so you can continue to serve me.
If you speak good words rather than worthless ones,
you will be my spokesman.
You must influence them;
do not let them influence you!
20 They will fight against you like an attacking army,
but I will make you as secure as a fortified wall of bronze.
They will not conquer you,
for I am with you to protect and rescue you.
I, the Lord, have spoken!
21 Yes, I will certainly keep you safe from these wicked men.
I will rescue you from their cruel hands.”

What can I say? God gives him great reassurance and instruction. He also puts Jeremiah in his place when He says “If you speak good words rather than worthless ones, you will be my spokesman.”

It seems as though only those who speak good words will be permitted to be His authorized spokesmen.

If you ever had “issues” with the Almighty, you’re in good company.

Consider Habakkuk…

 Habakkuk 1
2 How long, O LORD, must I call for help?
But you do not listen!
“Violence is everywhere!” I cry,
but you do not come to save.
3 Must I forever see these evil deeds?
Why must I watch all this misery?
Wherever I look,
I see destruction and violence.
I am surrounded by people
who love to argue and fight.
4 The law has become paralyzed,
and there is no justice in the courts.
The wicked far outnumber the righteous,
so that justice has become perverted.

Habakkuk lodges a general complaint about the state of his nation. Could this be a complaint we might use today?

Here’s God’s response:

5 The Lord replied,
“Look around at the nations;
look and be amazed!
For I am doing something in your own day,
something you wouldn’t believe
even if someone told you about it.
6 I am raising up the Babylonians,
a cruel and violent people.
They will march across the world
and conquer other lands.

Not good enough for Habakkuk, he had a second complaint:

12 O Lord my God, my Holy One, you who are eternal—
surely you do not plan to wipe us out?
O Lord, our Rock, you have sent these Babylonians to correct us,
to punish us for our many sins.
13 But you are pure and cannot stand the sight of evil.
Will you wink at their treachery?
Should you be silent while the wicked
swallow up people more righteous than they?
14 Are we only fish to be caught and killed?
Are we only sea creatures that have no leader?
15 Must we be strung up on their hooks
and caught in their nets while they rejoice and celebrate?
16 Then they will worship their nets
and burn incense in front of them.
“These nets are the gods who have made us rich!”
they will claim.
17 Will you let them get away with this forever?
Will they succeed forever in their heartless conquests?

These are great and legitimate questions.  How does God answer?

Habakkuk 2:
2 Then the Lord said to me,

4 “Look at the proud!
They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked.
But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.
5 Wealth is treacherous,
and the arrogant are never at rest.
They open their mouths as wide as the grave,
and like death, they are never satisfied.
In their greed they have gathered up many nations
and swallowed many peoples.
6 “But soon their captives will taunt them.
They will mock them, saying,
‘What sorrow awaits you thieves!
Now you will get what you deserve!
You’ve become rich by extortion,
but how much longer can this go on?’

God continues to answer throughout the second chapter of Habakkuk along these same lines. He seems to answer the same questions we all might have about the proud and the wicked and why injustice seems to prevail at times.

What effect does this insight and wisdom give to Habakkuk?

Habakkuk 3:
1 This prayer was sung by the prophet Habakkuk:
2 I have heard all about you, Lord.
I am filled with awe by your amazing works.
In this time of our deep need,
help us again as you did in years gone by.
And in your anger,
remember your mercy.
3 I see God moving across the deserts from Edom,
the Holy One coming from Mount Paran.
His brilliant splendor fills the heavens,
and the earth is filled with his praise.

And he ends with this:

17 Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
able to tread upon the heights.

It is rather difficult to explain how this renewal process happens but we see this time and time again through the Word of God. His people have their complaints; they bring them to God, which is what we all should be doing. God then reveals Himself to them mostly by demonstrating and explaining His awesome power and sovereignty.

This knowledge of the Divine has a way of giving us a proper perspective and helps us accept things as they are. He is in control and He knows what He is doing. It’s up to us to praise Him and give thanks for all that He does for us. This knowledge also leads us to share Him with others so that they might know they can experience peace on earth and have eternal life in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 94: 19 When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.

Have you been renewed?

“Dear Lord you are Holy and apart from you, I am not.  You are sovereign, who am I to question you? You are the Alpha and the Omega, my life is but a breath in comparison. There is so much I do not understand. Your ways are not my ways and your thoughts are so much higher than my thoughts, how can I ever imagine how great your purposes are?

Please help me keep this perspective. You are far too wonderful for me to comprehend. I give you all the praise for you’ve done many wonderful things in my life that I can’t even begin to count. Thank you for even thinking of me! Please lead me to a greater knowledge of you and all that you do. I long to know you more and seek a deeper relationship with you. Please be patient with me. In Jesus’ Holy name, amen.”

Photo by Dominik QN on Unsplash

 

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If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or “Bible Time” come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God’s Word.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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How Can I Have A Greater Peace? part 2

How Can I Have A Greater Peace? part 2

You can read part 1 here: “How Can I Have A Greater Peace? part 1”.

While watching a movie recently, I enjoyed observing the star character. It was played by the boy of a very famous actor. It was really incredible to watch his mannerisms and how he spoke. Many times throughout the film I found myself saying “He’s just like his daddy.”

I’m sure that most of you have heard that expression, haven’t you? Or perhaps you’ve been told “You’re just like your daddy”, or “You remind me so much of your momma.”  We really can’t help it, can we? When we’ve grown up in the environment of our parents we just become like them, not to mention DNA.

The same can be said about Jesus:

John 8:  19 “Where is your father?” they asked.
Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.”

Colossians 1: 15a Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.

He’s just like His Daddy! Isn’t that cool? But check this out:

Genesis 1:  27 So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

Romans 8: 15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”

(I’ve learned that the word Abba is an intimate, Aramaic term that a child would use for their father and can be translated as ‘Daddy’ or ‘Papa’. )

Do you see the similarity? We were made in our Daddy’s image, that’s how human beings were designed.

Think about this for a moment and allow it to sink in: “I am designed to be like God, which is how I am supposed to be.”

I can recall a DVD player I once had. Its purpose was simply to play the DVDs, without problems. That is what it was supposed to do.  It didn’t. It failed to play my DVDs and for that reason, I got rid of it. Of course, I gave it a few chances to work, it was not my desire to throw it way, but if it would not work for me, I considered it useless, so into the trash it went.

Matthew 21: 18 In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, 19 and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up.

Of course, the fig tree was designed to bear fruit, and when Jesus discovered that it was not, He quickly discarded it. He determined that it was useless and acted accordingly.

Isn’t it interesting that we are a lot like God without even trying to be? When something doesn’t work, we pitch it out. We like to create, He likes to create. We like to see progress, He likes to see progress.  He worked 6 days, I work 6 days. He likes to see people getting along, we like to see people getting along. This is the intrinsic nature of God that I think we all have, but when it comes to fruits of the spirit, they are developed only through our relationship with Him.

He is patient, I am…. wait. Sorry, that doesn’t work for me, at least not when I sit at a red light. He is humble, I am…. wait, that doesn’t work for me either. Let’s try He is loving, I am… wait, not always. This isn’t going so well now, is it? Then I am reminded of these verses:

John 15: 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.

This makes me so glad that God is patient, although I am not. When I first realized this, I realized how far I am from His “factory specifications”.  I can hear God saying about me: “This one isn’t working very well. What will I have to do to get him in line with my plans?”

I am so glad that God has more patience with us than He did that fig tree, aren’t you?

We’ve been discussing finding greater peace lately and one thing not to be overlooked is found in these verses above. To paraphrase: “When we ‘remain in Him’ we produce much fruit” Then “When we don’t ‘remain in Him’ we can do nothing.”

Isaiah 9: 6 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Just as Jesus is the Prince of Peace, we were designed to be People of Peace. After all, the human body works best when filled with peace.

If my life cannot be described as one of peace, that only means one thing: I have not been spending enough time with Daddy. It is that simple. We discussed this at the very beginning, a child becomes like their parents after spending years of intimate time with them. The greater the love a father has for his child, the more that child has peace. The child of a loving father feels secure.

Galatians 4: 6 And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”

God wants His children to feel secure so that they do not have to be pre-occupied with worrisome thoughts which hinder their ability to think and act as they should. This is where the greater faith we develop over time, the more at peace we will be.

Psalm 103:  13 The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.

Just like the bumper sticker says “No Jesus, No Peace. Know Jesus, Know Peace.” This is not on an intellectual level and has little to do with Bible knowledge. I’ve read about many persecuted Christians in various parts of the world who had very little Biblical knowledge but they certainly knew their Lord very well and that was by relying on Him through prayer.

That’s enough for now; I’ll leave you with my favorite verse relating to prayer (One that I think should be memorized):

Philippians 4: 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Are you your Daddy’s child?

“Heavenly Daddy, you are so good to me. Thank you for teaching me so many things. You have provided for me and have answered my prayers in so many ways that I cannot count them. You are my provider and I know that every good thing comes from you. What will it take for me to really know you and love you as a child loves His father? What will it take for me to surrender my life in exchange for the Life you have to offer? Please hold me tight and keep me on your path. It is you, Lord, that I desire more than anything. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

 

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If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or “Bible Time” come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God’s Word.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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How Can I Have A Greater Peace? part 1

How Can I Have A Greater Peace? part 1

My last message, Why Should I Be Worried?, evoked the greatest response to any prior messages. Was it because my writing skills have improved significantly? I think not. I think that the topic that God gave me struck a chord and it hit home with many of you. One of my close friends put it this way if I can paraphrase him: “You discussed something that we all go through but no one ever seems to talk about.”

In light of this great response, I thought I would focus on how we can experience a greater peace and offer some practical ideas on discipleship.

In a practical sense, worry and fear are probably the worst emotions a believer can display. This terrible twosome can cause paralysis and can ruin our witness. If non-believers observe that we worry as much as they do (and they do observe)… “Just how great is their god?, What does she have that I don’t, she worries just as much as I do? He’s worried about a job just as much as I am.” 

Do you see where I am going with this? Do you see why it just might disturb our Lord a bit when He tells us time and time again in His Word not to be afraid and we’re out there in amongst the mass population not any different than the atheist next door?

I think we might agree that there is a worry-peace continuum with worry and fear being on one end of it and peace and joy on the other end. Since last week we focused on “not worrying”, I thought we’d approach it in a more positive way by focusing on having peace, one of the fruits of the spirit.

When it gets right down to our personal ministry, if we are overly preoccupied with our own circumstances, to what degree will that hinder us when it comes to serving others with love and attention? We owe it to our loved ones and the people we serve to find His perfect peace and walk in that path. This is not easy and requires great care and patience, but it’s worth it.

Galatians 5:  22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.

The key words here are “the Holy Spirit produces”, that’s not “you will produce” or “your pastor will produce for you” or even “after much effort, you will produce”.  Here are more promises:

Psalm 29: 11 The LORD gives his people strength.

The LORD blesses them with peace.

Matthew 11: 28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

John 14: 26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.  27 I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

How does that work? Does He just give peace to all and that’s it? Do all believers receive it regardless? I don’t believe so, re-read Galatians 5: 22 above.

It is fruit. How does any living thing yield fruit? By staying in fertile soil and getting fed.

Let’s review that wonderful parable of the Sower:

Luke 8: 13 The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation.

This verse probably doesn’t describe you, someone, that yearns for a deeper relationship. It does, however, contain a most valuable message and one to share with our friends who are “living on the surface”. It is easy to fall away when we are not deepening our faith (growing spiritually). This was me several times in my life when I just didn’t take God seriously. “I prayed the prayer, I know I’m saved. How can I live up to His standard anyway?”

14 The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity.

Unfortunately, this used to describe me perfectly and I am afraid many believers are caught up in this today. Can you relate? “What time is the game on? Oh, what did the pastor just say? I wonder where we will eat after church. I gotta get me some baby back ribs! Hold on, this pastor is way too fast for me, did he just use a Star Wars reference in church? I wonder when that new movie comes out…” I’m sure this does not happen to you, does it?

15 And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.

Personally, I prefer to read the Word of God rather than listen to it. My mind wanders way too easily, as I’ve illustrated above, and I miss things when I hear it. But when I read with the intent to understand, I take the time I need to devour the His Word as if it were a tender, juicy, medium rare Rib-eye steak, taking delight with every bite.  I have friends who prefer to listen or even both. I know God’s made us all different and I think whatever it takes to get His Book into your body(heart, mind, and soul), do it! And at all costs.

This is where we need to stay in order to produce fruit, compare with:

John 15:  7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

These two verses clearly spell it out for you: Keeping a soft heart and receiving and meditating on scripture is required to produce fruit. The list I put together in my last post as a lesson from Job is a good list for growth, by the way.

If you’ve been frustrated that you have no peace or joy and always felt that being a believer in Jesus should be a life of peace, perhaps now you know why.

We read our Bibles daily to grow in spiritual maturity and get to know God more, not just to say we do it or just a habit.

“But I’ve tried to read daily before, I just don’t get it” Or “I want it to be from my heart, not an obligation, so I choose not to read because I don’t have the right motives”

These are cunning tricks that Satan loves to employ to keep the child of God at arm’s length of their Heavenly Daddy.

John 10: 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

If the desire is not there, I understand (been there). But pray that God will soften your heart and read it anyway. If you continue to pray for God to work on your heart and read out of obligation in spite of your attitude, keep reading and the joy of His Words will come to you and the more you read the more you will enjoy it and the more you will get out of it. Then keep reading.

If you do not understand it, I get it (been there). Pray that God gives you understanding. In the meantime find a friend/elder/woman of faith that does understand and ask for assistance. But read anyway. I have a close friend that knew nothing of the Bible (was an unbeliever, but a seeker), started reading Genesis and read straight through the Old Testament which prepared his heart for the Good News of Jesus Christ. He did not understand much of what he read but he understood enough, talked with various people about it and kept reading. What excuse do you have? All believers should continue to be seekers.

Psalm 105: 4 Search for the Lord and for his strength;
continually seek him.

DO NOT LET ANYTHING, ANYONE, ANY SIN OR ANY REASON stop you from getting to know the loving and living God, the One who created you. 

This message has eternal implications and cannot be stressed enough. After all, what else is there in life worth excelling at, much less compares in importance?

The Kingdom of God is not like High School.

Matthew 13:  44 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.

With God we can’t afford to squeak by in class, going through the motions hoping He’ll give us a passing grade on judgment day. He’ll either know us, or He won’t. Do we really want to casually hope for the best? The time you spend serving in ministry is meaningless if you’re not spending the time to know Him. Where does my passion to serve come from? The heart and mind of God, or from my filthy self-righteousness?

Matthew 7: 21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

This is the difference between participating in ministry because it was just a good idea and God calling you to ministry because you heard His voice and were obedient.

If we stay in good soil, as explained above and develop the disciplines of being in His presence daily with prayer, reading, and regular fellowship, we will continue to grow. We will experience His peace, joy, and eventually all the fruits I believe. Trees don’t think about producing fruit when they keep growing, good fruit happens. Same with us, when we stay in good soil and diligently pursue Him, He will produce good fruit in us and it will just happen, right before our eyes.

I’ll leave you with a couple more verses on peace and that’ll wrap it up. Thank you for reading, I pray that you take this message to heart and seek Him with all you’ve got!

Isaiah 26:
  3 You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Psalm 46: 10a Be still, and know that I am God!

Psalm 34: 14 Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

Will you join me in seeking His peace?

“Dear Lord, thank you for this message. I pray that all who read this message take it to heart and set time for you each day so that they can get to know you a little better and understand you more.  Please help me hang in there when the situation is tough and remain steadfast in my effort to pursue you. You are the only One worth pursuing and I thank you for getting my attention. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Photo by Chris Liu-Beers on Unsplash

 

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If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or “Bible Time” come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God’s Word.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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He Loves Me... He Loves Me... (not?)

He Loves Me… He Loves Me…(not?)

Does the title sound familiar? Of course, at least for some of you, I hope. In case you don’t, perhaps there are people reading this that are too young or from another culture that never heard it before.  I looked it up on Wikipedia and it seems to be of French origin.

Suppose a young girl daydreams about a boy, there is a simple game called “he loves me… he loves me not” which would determine whether the boy loves her or not. It is played by picking a daisy and then plucking the petals from it one by one. As each petal is removed the girl will say out loud “he loves me”, then the next petal is removed, “he loves me not”, next petal, “he loves me”, next petal “he loves me not” and so on until the last petal is picked which, whatever  phrase is recited, determines whether the boy loves her, or not. Suppose the last petal is “he loves me not”? Why she’d probably have to pick another daisy and try again. 🙂

Is it silly? Maybe, but cute.

Isn’t it nice to know that God always loves us and regardless of any “daisy game”, He still loves us?

But do we believe this? Day in and day out? Is this just intellectual knowledge of God’s Word or is it something that we know to be true in our hearts?

I think the greater understanding of His love for us is directly related to the less stress we have.

Here’s the real test:  Ask yourself these questions “Do I still worry?”, “Do I still have fear?” Or how about “When my bills are late, do I get anxious?”,  “Do I fear losing my job?”, “Do I worry about losing my home?”, “What do I worry about?”

If you said yes to any one of these that just means your normal. Everyone has fears and worries to various degrees. Although I believe this about people I’m convinced that that is not God’s plan for us.

Philippians 4: 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

Matthew 6:  34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

He tells us not to worry about anything! Are you kidding me?

At the heart of this, I believe that worry is simply a word to mean “lack of faith”.

Matthew 8: 26 Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.

Hebrews 11: 6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

I’ve learned that as I grow spiritually, I worry less and less, and although I still struggle with it, this knowledge gives me hope. Meditating on both Philippians 4:6 and Mattew 6:34 as seen above, has been really good for me. God is telling me not to worry. Eventually, I finally started to say to God “OK Lord, if you say so.” and I am amazed at how effective it was to meditate on these verses.

Another verse that really disturbed me and was helpful in meditating on was this:

Psalm 112: 7
They do not fear bad news;
they confidently trust the LORD to care for them.

Who is “They” anyway and why wouldn’t they fear bad news, doesn’t everybody fear bad news? Can anyone relate to this? “They”, found earlier in the Psalm, is:

 1 Praise the Lord!
How joyful are those who fear the Lord
and delight in obeying his commands.

Some days I’ll tremble with fear and others I seem to be at peace. It is the days of fear that I’ve really learned to cling to Him and go to Him constantly. It is also in these days of unrest that I find myself doubting what I know to be true. Is God really going to rescue me? Does He really love me? What I find fascinating is that after a day of gloom I can pray to my God and the next day, with the same circumstances, He gives me a renewed sense of hope and peace. It’s as if to say “He really does love me!”.

1 John 4:  16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.

   God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

 18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

I think perfect love should always be our goal; this would enable us to overcome fear. This makes sense since the greatest commandments are to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and neighbors as ourselves.

Isn’t this great news? You see, He loved us first:

1 John 4:19 19 We love him, because he first loved us. (KJV)

Then He commands us to love Him back, for our own good, of course:

Deuteronomy 10: 13 And you must always obey the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good.

In the effort to love God and learning how to love Him; this is where true transformation really happens.

The more we understand God and the love He has for us the less fear we’ll have.

James 4: 8a Come close to God, and God will come close to you.

The closer God comes to you, the more you will realize just how much He loves you and your fears will start to fade away.

How do I grow spiritually and learn to love Him more?

  1. I read my Bible daily and follow a reading plan because I need one.
  2. I seek Him in prayer on an as needed basis(at least daily), telling Him about all my fears and asking Him to fill me with His Spirit and to teach me His ways. “Lord, how can I be one of those who doesn’t fear bad news? Please let that be said of me.”
  3. I regularly spend time in fellowship with believers discussing each other’s lives and focusing on the Word of God. In groups of 2-15 people (about 4-5 times a week)
  4. I read godly books. Personal biographies are great and those focused on spiritual growth.

Sermons at church and on the radio are great, but nothing beats “individual God time” and scriptural fellowship.

 Keep in mind that this is where I am now. When I first started to seriously seek God I read the Bible, prayed a little bit and met once a week with others. Since then my desire for fellowship grew and I find great enjoyment from these weekly meetings with the godly. The more I sought God, the more time I wanted to be with Him and His followers.

Will you join me on this journey to love Him more?

“Dear Lord, thank you for calling and loving me. I am so privileged to know you and have a heart for you. Will you help me know you better? Please help me to learn how to perfect my love and learn how to love you more. You have been so good to me and I thank you for what you’re doing today and in the future. In Jesus name, amen.”

 

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If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or “Bible Time” come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God’s Word.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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