Monthly Archives: October 2016

Refusing God’s Help: Humility or Lip Service?

wrongIn times of crisis, God will always provide a way out so you can get relief in a way that is still pleasing to Him. You have two options: you can accept help from God or you can get help from the wrong sources. Your intentions may even be in the right place, but if you’re resorting to unethical methods to achieve a result, your plan will often backfire, sometimes with disastrous consequences.

King Ahaz’s Story: A Message for Ahaz  (2 Kings 16; 2 Chronicles 28; Isaiah 7)

Ahaz, King of Judah, heard that two nations were going to attack Judah. God spoke through the prophet Isaiah and told Ahaz not to worry or fear “those two burned-out embers, King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah.” God promised that the invasion would never happen, BUT “unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm” (Isaiah 7:9, emphasis added).

God promised all this on the condition that King Ahaz stand firm in his faith. God even invited Ahaz to test Him: “Ask the Lord your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want — as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead” (Isaiah 7:10-11).

Ahaz’s response sounded pious: “No, I will not test the Lord like that” (Isaiah 7:12), but his actions showed that he was just paying lip service. Instead of taking God’s offer to help, Ahaz turned to the gods of his enemies (2 Chronicles 28:22-23).

Reasons for Rejecting God’s Help

Today, we could make the same mistakes as King Ahaz did.

22 In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the Lord. 23 He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus, who had defeated him; for he thought, “Since the gods of the kings of Aram have helped them, I will sacrifice to them so they will help me.” But they were his downfall and the downfall of all Israel. (2 Chronicles 28:22-23)

Notice that Ahaz relied on his own understanding.  He turned against God because of his faulty logic.  Our flesh turns against God when we should be turning to God in our time of need.  In what ways do we rely on our own understanding?

Pride – Thinking, “I’m good.  I got this; I don’t need his help.  I can [do it/resolve my own problems/take care of it] on my own without anyone’s help.”

Low self-esteem – Believing you don’t deserve someone’s gracious generosity or kindness

Lack of faith – Allowing doubt or self-doubt to get in the way of belief

In my life, I have observed that God sometimes offers His help through people without my asking; other times I had to ask and cry out to God and wait for Him to come to the rescue.  God always delivers if you trust Him, but as Isaiah 7:9 states, unless your faith is firm, no one can make you stand firm.

“So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.” Isaiah 30:18

#deliverance #Godrescues #trust #faith #prayer #seekGod #musingz4life #Godhelps

 

Following God unto Unknown Tomorrows

transform“Everywhere, people wish to be settled, but Ralph Waldo Emerson reminds us that only insofar as we are unsettled is there any hope for us,” said Pico Iyer, essayist for Time magazine and professor at Chapman University, in one of his Ted Talks.

I can speak from personal experience that feeling unsettled is one of the most uncomfortable experiences of humanity.  One wanders the earth in search for a place called home, and it could be in the form of a relationship, a safe haven where we reside, or a community group such as a church or common interest group.  We cannot stop until we find something in which we can anchor our soul, and unfortunately sometimes we anchor our souls in transient things rather than the Eternal.

There is nothing greater than putting your hope in God, the Overseer of our souls.

“The Lord is good and does what is right.  He shows the proper path to those who go astray.  He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way.  The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his commands.” ~ Psalm 25:8-10

The mark of a believer is his ability to follow God’s lead, especially unto areas of the unknown such as his future – whom he will marry, where his career path will go, and if he will have children.  The future is scary, and if things haven’t been going as planned, the unknown seems full of darkness, uncertainty and gloom.

We can use this time of uncertainty to draw close to God, for “[m]ost of the time we’re in the dark, and that’s where real intimacy lies,” as Mr. Iyer put it.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” ~ Psalm 23:4

As we move forward to the future every time we wake up, we get an opportunity to start fresh with God as our Shepherd.  Even in dark valleys, you do not need to fear what will happen to you because God is right there with you, walking beside you, comforting you with His staff, which for us today is the Word of God.

“You are my strength, I watch for you; You, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.” ~ Psalm 59:9-10

If you have been disappointed many times by others, it’s understandable that your ability to trust in God may also be shaken because you can’t really see Him and you’re not really sure if He will come through for you.  However, the scriptures testify that God is indeed reliable, and if you put your trust in Him, you will not be disappointed.

“To You they cried out and were delivered.  In You they trusted and were not disappointed.” Psalm 22:5 (NASB)

Nestled in our comfort zones, we don’t fully know who we are until we’re pushed unto the darkness where knowledge gives out.  When you don’t know what to do next, do you rely on your own understanding or do you pray and let God lead you?

Self-described as a full-time writer for the past 30 years, Pico Iyer said that the one thing he’s learned is this: “Transformation comes when I’m not in charge…We’re reminded of the first law of travel and, therefore, of life: You’re only as strong as your readiness to surrender.”

#trust #surrender #followGod  #picoiyer #tedtalk #wisdom #prayer #Christ #knowledge #ignorance #illusionofknowledge #relyonGod

Trusting God: Where the Rubber Meets the Road

promiseWhen you say you trust God, how do you really know you trust Him?  Church is like a school where you learn all the theories about trust, and life is the school of application where you put these theories to the test. The true litmus test is when you are called to put God first even when it conflicts with your personal agenda and/or it makes no sense at all.

Look at the areas where you wish you had more success. Are you putting God first in those areas?  Consider the following scenarios:

Marriage

  • Fighting with your spouse all the time
  • Not applying scriptures to your marriage, such as submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21) or considering your partner better than yourself (Philippians 2:3-5)
  • Not spending enough time praying together
  • Neglecting your spouse
  • Nagging your spouse

Career

  • Putting in overtime hours instead of spending time with family
  • Missing church services for work
  • Calling in “sick” when you just want the day off
  • Being dishonest in your work habits
  • Compromising your work ethics

Money

  • Spending money on yourself rather than tithing
  • Anxiety and worry instead of trusting in God’s provision
  • Harboring the wrong perspective about tithing (i.e., “the church is run like a business”; “all they want is my money”; “who knows where all the money is going?” etc.)
  • Living beyond your means
  • Choosing between paying bills and tithing (oftentimes, we pay “bills” outside of utilities and rent that we don’t really need to pay)

 Health

  • Neglecting self-care
  • Weak boundaries between self and others
  • Lack of exercise and a good diet
  • Shouldering all your stress instead of casting your anxiety upon God (1 Peter 5:7)

 Relationships

  • Looking for love in all the wrong places
  • Compromising your sexual purity
  • Linking up with non-Christians who can turn your heart after other gods
  • Marrying a believer too quickly as a gateway to guilt-free sex

As you may recall, Abraham went through a series of tests, from uprooting his whole life to an unknown land to sacrificing his firstborn, for whom he waited 25 years.

“By faith Abraham, when called to a place he would later call his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8

By faith, will you still obey even if you don’t know what will happen tomorrow?

“By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son…” Hebrews 11:17

Do you embrace God’s promises when you need to make the tough (and righteous) decisions?

“Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:3

In the verse prior to this, the Scripture says if Abraham was justified by works, he’d have something to boast about.  If we were brought up in a household where we only received recognition when we did well in school, it would be tempting to get validation from our acts of obedience.  We’d only feel like “good Christians” if we are 100% obedient, never straying, never deviant from the Word.  We can point to our acts of obedience and say, “Look, God! Look at all the things I’ve done for you and all the ways I served!”

But time and time again, the Scripture highlights Abraham’s faith.

If faith is not the primer for your obedience, you will become short-sighted and blind (2 Peter 1:9). You will grow spiritually weary and lose sight of what’s truly meaningful.

In closing, I leave you with one of my favorite verses:

“Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.” Joshua 21:45

#Godspromises #promisesthatneverfail #Christ #trustGod #musingz4life #obedience #faith #belief

The Difference between Desperation and Desire

boiling-waterHave you ever wanted something so badly you could taste it? How badly would your faith be shaken if you didn’t receive it in one, five or twelve years?  In the story of the Bleeding Woman (Luke 8:43-48), we see an example of a woman who was determined to get what she wanted.

Backstory of the Bleeding Woman

 “And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her.”  Luke 8:43

All we know about this woman is that she had been suffering for 12 years before Jesus came to the scene.  If you have a loved one who has been suffering from a terrible illness for which the doctors have not found a cure, or for which certain medications/surgery would not be an option because of comorbid conditions, you know the frustration of hopelessness and despair.  Yet the woman did not give up hope.

Amidst the crowds, Jesus felt her desperation.

The woman didn’t just desire to be healed.  She was desperate to be healed!  When Jesus came, she was so determined to meet him because she knew in her heart of hearts that He was the only one who could heal her.  Nothing was going to stop her – no sardine-packed crowd, no doubt, no hesitation, no one’s opinion – she was adamant about getting through to Jesus for His healing power.  Amidst the crowd that was packed so tightly that no one could breathe, this woman reached out and her faith made Jesus turn His head.

The difference between desire and desperation is determination.

When you’re desperate for something, there’s a sense of urgency that propels you toward your goal.  The crowds who surrounded Jesus wanted to meet Him, so they followed Him wherever He went, but this woman cut through the masses and made Jesus notice her.  They say that the difference between a winner and a loser is one’s character that will carry one through. Why does one achieve his goal while the other one doesn’t? Character.

  Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.  Romans 5:3-5

You achieve character first through suffering, then perseverance, and then you get hope from the character that’s forged within you.

“A sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.” – Proverbs 13:4

Waiting is part of that diligence. But what about faith?

Without faith, people give up, and therefore they allow their character to soften instead of fervently relying on God.  How long will you wait before you receive the desire of your heart?

I cannot even fathom what it’s like to be in the Bleeding Woman’s shoes, but I do know what it’s like to wait for something forever and never receiving it.  Oftentimes I wonder if I should just give up and chalk it up to “It’s not God’s will,” but if the Bleeding Woman caved into that kind of thinking, she would have never gone after Jesus because she would have believed that Jesus never wanted to heal her. 

Twelve years is an awfully long time to wait for something.  You don’t know the future; you can only hope for the best.  I wonder how many times this woman felt like giving up.  Will a miracle ever turn up?  Will the suffering ever stop?  Waiting year after year, waiting in the dark, not knowing the future – that does something to your soul.  In my despair, many times I have “surrendered” my desires to God with a hint of unbelief.

Will you surrender your desire to God with a spirit of resignation, or will you, like the Bleeding Woman, fight with urgency and desperation to get God’s attention?

#nevergiveup #faith #prayer #determination #God #Jesus #character #hope #perseverance #persistence #healing #miracles #fightofthefaith #keepupthegoodfight #musingz4life #dependonGod