Are you part of the promise or part of the problem?

“But, beloved, even though we speak to you in this way, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and of things that accompany salvation. For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown for His name in ministering to [the needs of] the saints (God’s people), as you do. And we desire for each one of you to show the same diligence [all the way through] so as to realize and enjoy the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be [spiritually] sluggish, but [will instead be] imitators of those who through faith [lean on God with absolute trust and confidence in Him and in His power] and by patient endurance [even when suffering] are [now] inheriting the promises.”

‭‭HEBREWS‬ ‭6:9-12‬ ‭AMP‬‬

http://bible.com/1588/heb.6.9-12.amp

True Believers in Christ do not bend to the powers of darkness that stand before us. It is true that our circumstances are sometimes very difficult and seemingly never ending. But followers of Christ understand that we do not fight for worldly comfort and pleasures but instead fight for eternal promise and the hope that we have in the coming Messiah who will soon come to bring us eternal light and final rest. We persevere only through the conviction of that day and trusting in our belief in our God who is good, sovereign and who loves us.

If we succumb to our present circumstances as dark, as bleak and as never ending as they seem to be, then evil wins. We must stand in our convictions seeing beyond our realities into the truth of our King, who died so that we may have life and who sent us the Holy Spirit to help us in our fight.

We can choose to sit in our discomfort defeated and discouraged or we can choose to be hopeful, believing in our God who eventually will lead us into eternal good and who is working all of this out for our greatest good even though today it may appear that nothing good could come out of our present circumstances.

It is through these tests our true faith is revealed to our King Jesus and to our Father God.

Who is it you are revealing yourself to be? Are you an imitator of hope or are you an imitator of hopelessness? Do you believe in God’s promises or are you buried instead in your circumstance?

True Believers carry hope and promise. What are you carrying?

Petitioning our King

In 1 King 1, King David is not doing well. He is getting up in years, and his sickness had gotten him so lean that he couldn’t even keep himself warm. Because he was so sick, he was not able to pay close attention to what was going on in his Kingdom. His 4th son, Adonijah took advantage of this opportunity, and sought to become King. To gain credibility and support, he gathered a few of King David’s high power officials and convinced them he was next in line. Some of these men had fallen out of favor with King David anyway, so in their quest to retain their wealth and status they of course thought it would be a good idea to support this potential future young king. Adonijah, did as many ambitious people do, he started taking advantage of his position in the Kings family to help him in his climb to the top.

Though his father had not given him the title, Adonijah threw parties and started gathering high power officials around him, in essence he was acting like a king although he was not officially given the kingship. He was slowly dethroning King David without any opposition.

Fortunately, one of David’s loyal prophets Nathan saw what Adonijah was doing. He knew Adonijahs intent was not good and brought it to the attention of David’s wife Bathsheba. Bathsheba’s son Solomon was actually the chosen one of God to take over King David’s throne, and not Adonijah. Nathan, King David and God had some history. Nathan was the prophet who God used to rebuke David when he stole Uriah’s wife (Bathsheba), got her pregnant, and then to cover up his act had Uriah killed on the front lines. When Solomon was born to David and Bathsheba, God told Nathan he was Jedidiah (Beloved of the Lord).

I find it interesting, that to the world at the time, it probably looked like Adonijah would be the next king. He was rich, surrounded himself with power, and was taking control of the kingdom. King David, because he was so sick, was no where to be seen, so it would’ve been logical to believe that Adonijah’s ambitions were coming true. But his worldly ambitions were not going to get in the way of God’s sovereign plans.

Both Bathsheba and Nathan petitioned King David. They brought Adonijahs actions to the King’s attention and reminded him of his own words which were that Solomon would be King and reign after him. Honoring their petitions, King David, from his death bed, ordered that Solomon be brought down to Isreal and annointed King.

I find this turn of events interesting for a few reasons. One, it proves that even when someone powerful rises up against us that the Lord can make people and circumstances align for their defeat. Two, even when it seems that our God is nowhere to be seen when a powerful opposition seems to be rising up, that we should remain faithful and petition him with his own promises and he will take a stand against and defeat our opposition. Thirdly, often times we will see our friends and once loyal companions flee to the opposing side, in our loneliness and abandonment, God will send prophets to encourage us to continue to stand strong and believe in our King.

Keys to Trust

“Now God said to Abram, “Get yourself out of your country, away from your kinsmen and away from your father’s house, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, I will bless you, and I will make your name great; and you are to be a blessing………So Abram went,”. (Gen 12:1-4)

Would you trust God enough to leave your home, your friends and your family to go to a place unknown, to a place where God will lead you?

Abram was 75 years old, and was a rich and well established man when God called him to move. I’m fairly certain that he struggled with what God asked him to do. I’m sure he even wondered if the voice he heard was actually Gods. I can imagine the conversations he had with Sara, his father and his closest friends when he told them God wanted him to pack up and leave for some unknown destination. I’m fairly certain their response included these comments: “Really, aren’t you a little old to do this?”, “Are you sure that was God speaking?”, “Why would God have you leave us?”, “Your suppose to leave your land and family?”,”That seems a little crazy!” They were real people with the same thoughts and feelings we have, so I’m sure that they had the same human reactions we would’ve had in the same situation.

Courage. The decision to follow Gods order would’ve taken pure courage and over the top trust. First of all, its not like God spoke to him in this booming, clear voice, like he did for Moses in the the burning bush. Very rarely does God speak that way. It was most likely through a thought or a still, small voice. A voice that is often hard to discern and easily missed, unless one practices listening for it. Secondly, most people at 75 are not thinking about big change. They are instead settling down and enjoying the life they had created over the past 75 years. Thirdly, many people at 75 would find doing something like that physically impossible. Packing, lifting, shifting, hauling, loading, unloading isn’t easy work. Fourthly, convincing your aging wife to leave her family and friends to live like a nomad would be like facing fire. Then there is always the question, why? Why would God want this?

Have you ever asked God why he wants you to do something totally out of the ordinary? I have, and the answer I get is usually “you’ll see”. Which is not very helpful in a dramatic, life altering decision.

Knowing all of this, why did Abram go? Simply, because he trusted God. He had been practicing listening for and following Gods voice for a long time. It wasn’t like it was the first time he heard Gods voice. If it was, he likely wouldn’t have went. He knew that God was the reason for all that he was, all that he owned, and all that he was to become. He was very secure in who he was with God, so when God told him what he wanted him to do, he knew he could trust Gods way.

A life with God requires trust. The key to trust is obeying God. The key to obedience is learning to follow Gods voice. The key to following Gods voice is listening. The key to listening is getting quiet with God. The key to getting quiet with God is believing he exists. The key to believing he exists is reading his word. The key to believing his word is faith in his son Jesus, who IS the Word.

God says: You are MY WITNESS and MY CHOSEN….in the balances.

 

pilates-classes-in-kansas-city
(warning: these words hold truths you may not be ready to hear)
Isaiah 43 vs 10-11says: “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he.   Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.  I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior.
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     As I listened to the pundits this week and reviewed what was going on with the Kavanaugh hearing it became very apparent the importance of eye witnesses.   As much as the opposition tried to build a case against Kavanaugh there was no basis to their accusations unless the eye witnesses were able to corroborate the evidence.  The four mentioned witnesses were not able to testify that the events happened that the accuser said took place, so the accusations were then dropped and Kavanaugh was then able to keep his credibility and character in place to be voted in as a Supreme Court Justice.  Witnesses were key to the case.  Witnesses were called to verify or to deny what was being said was the truth.  Without witnesses, it is very difficult to prove something or someone is true.
     In Isaiah 43, the Lord declares we are his witnesses.   We are the ones who he has chosen to testify that He is the Lord, and that there is no other.   Earlier in this passage (vs 2) he foretells of what he is going to do.  He is going to allow us (his chosen) to ‘pass through water’, to ‘pass through rivers’, and to ‘pass through fire’, and we will safely pass through these circumstances because he will be with us and in vs 8 & 9 he challenges his opposers by saying “who else can proclaim this?”  “Let them bring their witnesses…so others, upon hearing, can say, “that is true”. Meaning, who else can proclaim to do this, where are their witnesses?  Bring them forward!
     We have been chosen so that we can know and trust him, and witness to who he is and to what he is doing.   It is essential for God to have witnesses.   He needs his chosen to rise up and open up their eyes and ears and to witness to what he has done and to what he is doing.  He has “declared, saved, and proclaimed!” (vs. 12).  We have seen him declare, save and proclaim, yet are we witnessing to his work?   He is our only Creator and our only Savior, yet are we witnessing to His power and existence?   Or are we claiming the credit for ourselves or giving the credit to someone or something else (ie. hard work, talent, luck, investment strategies, education…the list goes on)?   We need to stand up and declare his truths against his accusers.  As his servants and chosen ones it is our responsibility to do this.
     Kavanaugh was unrighteously accused.  There was no witness to stand against him.  They were called, and they testified, but their accounting of the event did not align with what the accuser claimed happened.   In vs 8-9 God calls on his accusers.  He actually calls them to stand and he states the nations will gather together and bring their witnesses.  We are called to stand against his accusers and testify to who he is and what he has done in our lives.  Is our silence, our failure to acknowledge our King, our Provider, our Healer, our Creator actually allowing his accusers to build their case against God?
     Take heed to these words: Read vs 25-26  God is also our ONLY Savior.  Jesus will take account of our behavior.  He will be OUR WITNESS against the accusers.    He will hold us to the truth and we will stand accountable to what we have said and done.  Just like Kavanaugh, our accuser will make a case, and it will be up to Jesus whether or not we will pass through the gates into Heaven.   Many of the accusations will be very, very old and we will say, ‘but that was a long time ago, that was in the past and we are not like that today’, or we may even deny remembering it happened or that we actually said it. Jesus will hear our case and not heed these accusations IF AND ONLY IF we choose him as our Savior (John 14:6) .  But, if we choose him as our Savior, in return, we need to stand up for his cause.   We MUST be his witness here on earth, so he will be our witness up in Heaven.
    This is all true, but I’m not going to leave you with just this, because there are additional truths that we must also hold on to:
     In our witness we must also know his promises for us.  His promises hold our strength, our power and our hope.   His promises give us the power to be his witness.   Knowing this, God has given us some very good and strong promises.   Read vs. 3-7  because they include these promises:  God loves us.   God values us and honors us.  God will be with us.   God will fight for us.   God made us.    Remember, these promises.  Hold on to these promises.   Seek God to uphold these promises.    Then, as his chosen one, GO witness to the world ALL of these truths!
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Choosing a life worthy of pursuit

     In Matthew 10:29 Jesus is quoted saying “whoever finds his own life will lose it, but whoever loses his own life for my sake will find it.” in John 12:25 he is quoted again saying “He who loves his life loses it, but he who hates his life in this world will keep it into eternity.”  
     What does it mean to “lose our life”?  How do we lose our life and then find it again? How do we love our life and lose it, hate it and then keep it into eternity?  Does Jesus mean that if we sacrifice our careers for raising our children, put our spouses wishes before our own, or give up many of our own desires for someone or something else, that we will find our life somehow again?  No, that is not the life sacrifice he is talking about here.  He is talking about much more.
      So, does he mean that if we hate our circumstances, hate how we are living, hate where we work, hate our marriages, hate our relationships, and/or hate many of the other components which define our life, if we hate all of these things, then we are on the road to eternity?  No, this is not what Jesus mean’t.
     Yes, Jesus is talking about sacrifice.  Yes, Jesus is stating we need to hate our lives.  Yes, Jesus is telling us to lose our life.  But what Jesus is really asking for is that we give up all that we know, all that we desire, all of our ambitions, all of our personal goals, and all of our own plans and to hate all of those things we think are important to our lives, all of those things we we love more then we love him.  We are to give up EVERYTHING about our own lives, lay them all down, and pursue ONLY those things that are important to him.   To live a life of service only to our King.  If we sacrifice all that we want, for only those things he wants, then we will find our life and live it forever.   Not just for this lifetime, but, forever into eternity.   Conversely, is he also saying that if we don’t give up our life, if we don’t lose our life for his, if we don’t hate our lives, that we won’t make it into heaven and live into eternity?  Yes, I believe so.   To be certain that we will live into eternity is to surrender fully and completely our lives to serve only our King, if we do not do this, then we cannot be certain we will gain eternal life.
     A life of eternity is up to you. You can roll the dice and continue to follow your own life ways or you can surrender to King Jesus and pursue a life worthy of eternity. Remember, you are living your life out by every decision you make moment by moment and its how you walk it out that will determine your future. Are you basing your life’s decisions upon your own desires or are you living your life based upon serving Jesus? At some point you will be held accountable for all of your decisions, and they WILL and do determine your destiny. Choose wisely.

…prayers not answered?

 

prayer

What are your prayers like? Take a minute and think about the answer to this question. Not from your own perspective, but from the perspective of the one whom you are petitioning too. Are you asking God in earnest? Are you asking God in belief? Are you asking God in trust? Are you asking God in humility? Most importantly, are you asking God in a way he wants?

Jesus is quoted in Matthew 7:24 “Not everyone who says to me “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father, who is in heaven.” Read that again. “NOT, everyone who says to me “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, BUT ONLY, he who does the will of my Father, who is in heaven.” [Caps are for my emphasis]. Simply stated, praying “Lord Jesus….” is not all that is required, but the prayers need to be said from a heart that is seeking to be within Gods will. I know, these words aren’t easy to digest. But His truth says, God will only receive into his kingdom those who have done his will.

Living within his will includes praying within his will. How do we pray within Gods will? Paul, gives us an answer in 1 Thess 5:16-18 when he says “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Rejoice always. Bank accounts are empty, lenders are calling. Close ones are dying and doctors aren’t healing. Households are dark and battles are looming. Days and days go by, prayers aren’t answered. Circumstances aren’t changing. Rejoice. “Seriously?” You ask. “Rejoice?” Yep, God says..”Rejoice”.

Pray without ceasing. Pray when you wake up, pray when your in the shower, pray while you are cooking, pray while you are playing, pray while you are reading, pray while you are working, pray while you are driving, pray before you go to bed..pray, pray, pray. Practice praying. Practice praying. Practice praying. Practice praying so much that your first reaction to anything is prayer…become one of those people who even pray for a great parking spot!

Give thanks in ALL circumstances. Thank the Lord for your breakfast, thank the Lord for sunshine, thank the Lord for storms, thank the Lord for your broken car, thank the Lord for the heat, thank the Lord for the cold, thank the Lord for hunger, thank the Lord for being full, thank the Lord for water, thank the Lord for sleep, thank the Lord for insomnia, thank the Lord for your sickness, thank the Lord for your children, thank the Lord if he has not given you children, thank the Lord for your battles, thank the Lord for every win, thank the Lord for every loss, thank the Lord for your difficult boss, thank the Lord for your great boss, thank the Lord for your unbelieving husband or wife, thank the Lord for your believing spouse, thank the Lord for your poverty, thank the Lord for your wealth, even thank the Lord for your great parking spot….pray thanks, pray thanks, pray thanks.

This is praying without ceasing, combined with thankfulness, combined with praying in all circumstances, combined with rejoicing. This is how the door to God is opened and prayers are answered. (Matthew 7:7-8)

A Secure Perspective!

You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  (Matthew 5:14-16)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old is gone.  The new has come.  (2 Corinthians 5:17)

To often, we define ourselves by what man, the culture, or what our circumstances tell us we are.    Instead, stand firm on who your Lord says you are!