Friday, December 15, 2017

THE FINGER OF GOD

When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, He gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God. - Exodus 31:18


Throughout the Bible, the word testimony is used in many ways. Testimony comes from the Hebrew word eduwth, which means "witness." The Ark of the Covenant contained the Ten Commandments, written and inscribed personally by God and given to Moses on Mount Sinai. These became known as the testimony. The ark was a divinely inspired structure that was to be used as a witness to the people of Israel and the whole world of God's power and majesty. These divinely created tablets were a witness of God's activity on earth with man.
Throughout the Bible, God looked to create testimonies with His people. At the Red Sea, He created a testimony through Moses. God created a testimony through Joshua when He parted the Jordan River and allowed the people with the Ark to cross on dry land. When Lazarus lay dead for days, Jesus came and created a testimony of His ability to raise the dead.
Jesus is still looking for those who are willing to have a testimony created through their lives. One of the major characteristics of a God-ordained testimony is for something to happen that cannot be explained in the natural. In other words, if you can make it happen through your abilities, it is not a testimony about God, but about you.
Os Hillman shared, "One time, I was invited to go to South Africa to a major conference, but I did not have the funds to go. I sensed that I was to attend this conference, but refused to use a credit card to fund the trip. I waited and waited. Finally, on the day of the registration closing, a man came to my office and said I was to go to this conference and he would fund the trip. He took out his checkbook and wrote a check for $2,500. That has become a testimony of God's activity in my life".
God wants to create a testimony in every aspect of your life - your family, your work, your church, and in your community. He is waiting to put His finger on your next endeavor to reveal His power through your life. Look carefully at the events where God might want to create a testimony out of an impossible situation. He delights in using His children for this purpose because it brings Him glory.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

ANEMIC FAITH

"For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith" (Heb 4:2-3).

I run into anemic Christians everyday. They have a form of religion but fail to mix their belief with faith and obedience. The apostle Paul described them when he said "these people have a form of godliness but deny its power."
What are the telltale signs of anemic faith? When you no longer pray about decisions, you have anemic faith. When you fail to speak to others about their relationship with God, you have anemic faith. When you're unwilling to spend time with God everyday, your faith has become anemic. You no longer have a living faith.
God spoke to John, the apostle, through a vision and told him about some Christians who were part of the church in Laodicea:
"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see" (Rev 3:14-18).
These are strong words from our Lord. We are all susceptible to growing cold and anemic in our faith. Today, ask God to revive your heart and to restore the fire of your faith so that you will experience a vibrant and active faith that impacts the kingdom of darkness.

Monday, December 11, 2017

SHATTERED DREAMS

"Then Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons. Now they took wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth. And they dwelt there about ten years. Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; so the woman survived her two sons and her husband." -Ruth 1:3-5

Naomi's life was going well. A great husband. Two fine sons who had two wonderful wives. Then the unthinkable happened. Her husband died. A little time later both her sons die. Her and her daughter-in-laws find themselves in the midst of shattered dreams. This isn't how life was supposed to be.
How did Naomi react to her situation? "...for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me!" (Ruth 1:13) Ah, we see her true feelings about the situation. "How could a loving God let this happen?!" "Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?" (Ruth 1:20-21)
Mara means bitter. She knew where she was. She was bitter toward this so called God of love. "How can I possibly reconcile this?!" No life insurance. No widow's fund. "What is going to happen to me and my daughters?"
The Bible says the rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous. Naomi and Ruth move to a community where some of her relatives lived. Ruth goes out to work in the fields to put food on the table. She just so happens to work in the field of a wealthy farmer named Boaz. When Ruth tells her this the first ray of hope penetrates her bitter heart. Even she can recognize the hand of God.
So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked, and said, "The man's name with whom I worked today is Boaz. Then Naomi said to her daughter-in law, 'Blessed be he of the Lord, who has not forsaken His kindness to the living and the dead!'" (Ruth 2:19-20).
Hebrew custom was for the next in kin to care for the widow in the family. Boaz was to be this man. He would eventually marry Ruth. She would bare a son, Obed. He would be the father of Jesse, the father of David. Jesus would come from the same lineage.
Shattered dreams often lead to a world-impacting destiny. But getting there is often a process where we must work through honest feelings before we can see the God who redeems even the most devastating shattered dream.

Friday, December 8, 2017

THE SPIRIT OF COMPETITION

"I in them and You in Me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me." - John 17:23

A story is told about F.B. Meyer, the great Bible teacher and pastor who lived a century ago. He was pastoring a church and began to notice that attendance was suffering. This continued until he finally asked some members of his congregation one Sunday morning why they thought attendance was down.
A member volunteered, "It is because of this new church down the road. The young preacher has everyone talking and many are going to hear him speak."
His name was Charles Spurgeon. Meyer, rather than seeking to discourage this, exhorted the entire congregation to join him and go participate in seeing this "move of God" as he described it to his congregation.
"If this be happening, then God must be at work."
Meyer, even though he was an accomplished preacher and teacher, recognized where God was at work and joined Him in it. [The author heard this on a radio show from Key Life Ministries with Steve Brown, based in Orlando, Florida.]
Can you imagine this story taking place in our competitive world today? Competition has penetrated the Church so much that many churches and Christian organizations approach ministry like a sports event. They view their mission as a business that seeks to gain market share among Christians - donors, members, influence - all under the name of God. I am sure God looks down at us and asks, "Whatever happened to John 17:23?" Sometimes we must remind our fellow servants that we are all on the same team! We should be seeking to impact the Kingdom of God, not increase our own market share.
When Jesus made this statement about unity in John 17:23, it represented the key to bringing salvation to many. He was saying that when His Body is unified, the non-Christian would be able to see who Jesus really is - the Son of God. Are you contributing to unity in the Body of Christ? Or are you contributing to a spirit of competition? Ask God where you can be an instrument of unity in His Body.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

BELIEF OR UNBELIEF

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

You can be a believer yet act as though there is no God. Whenever you fret over life circumstances, you immediately demonstrate unbelief. Whenever you move out of fear or anxiety, you believe a lie about God's nature.
Each day your actions affirm or convict you of your belief system. It reveals who the central focus of your life really is - you or God. It reveals who you place your ultimate trust in - you or God. It is one of the great paradoxes for believers. One day we can believe Him to move mountains. The next day we can question His very existence.
  • Peter believed God and walked on water.
  • A sick woman touched the hem of His garment and was healed.
  • A Canaanite woman believed and freed her daughter from demon-possession.
In what circumstances do you act as an "unbeliever"? Ask God to increase your level of trust so that your actions match up with one who believes every day.

Monday, December 4, 2017

CHECK UNDER THE HOOD

"But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips." - Colossians 3:8

"The root issue you are dealing with is fear. The physical symptom is control, and when you cannot control, you get angry because of unmet expectations." These were the words I spoke during a conversation in a restaurant to my friend who was separated from his wife. He described his anger and how he never saw some of these characteristics in his life until he entered this marriage.
A friend once said to me, "Anger is like the lights on a dashboard. They tell you something is going on under the hood. You must find out the source of the problem." Whenever we have expectations of another person and those expectations do not materialize, our tendency is to get angry. The source of the anger is often the fear that the unmet expectation will negatively impact us. We fear that our finances, our well-being, our image, or any number of things may be impacted by the unmet expectation. My friend's wife had not met his expectations in many areas of his life, so then, many times it resulted in harsh words that damaged his wife's self-esteem. Now, it was leading to a marriage crisis.
Jesus often spoke of living as though we were dead. How can you live as though you are dead? "In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 6:11). It is a choice each of us must make. Once you become dead to that which stirs an emotion in you, God is free to change that situation. Until then, you can expect God to allow that situation to remain until you reckon yourself dead to the effects of the issue that causes you to struggle.
Is there something that causes anger within you? Ask God what the source of that anger is. You might be surprised at what you find. Then ask God to give you the grace to reckon yourself dead to that issue. You will find new freedom in your relationships and your own peace of mind.

Friday, December 1, 2017

A HEAVENLY STRATEGIC PLANNING SESSION

"And the Lord said, 'Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?' One suggested this, and another that. - 1 Kings 22:20

There are few times we get a glimpse of what goes on in Heaven. Here is one instance when the angels were conferring with the Lord about the judgment of King Ahab for his sin and who was going to set up Ahab for this judgment.
If God wanted to use you to impact your world for Jesus Christ, what circumstances would have to be created in order for you to respond to His call? Would prospering you materially encourage you to this end? Would a major change in what you are presently doing be necessary? What would your response be should God and the angels conclude that the only way to move you into a position of fulfilling God's purposes was to remove some things that might be very dear to you? Would you agree with their plan if you knew this would be the only way you would achieve the purposes for which God made you? Hard questions, aren't they?
This is the very thing God does in many who have been called for a special mission. Moses had to be stripped of his royal position in the family of Egypt and sit in the desert for 40 years. The apostle Paul had to be knocked off his horse, blinded, and receive a personal visitation from Jesus. The 12 disciples had to leave their jobs for three years to follow Christ. Imagine what kind of disruption this had on their lives. There are many examples of God bringing major upheaval in the lives of those He called for His purposes. Why?
The reason is that we do not seek God with a whole heart in times of prosperity and comfort. Prosperity and comfort tend to breed complacency and satisfaction. It is rare to find the man or woman who seeks God with a whole heart who does so simply from a grateful heart. We often must have pain or crisis to motivate us. Eventually, that crisis bridges us to a new calling, and we embrace that calling if we are open to the Holy Spirit's work in us. We can actually thank God for the change that was required to get us to this place, but it is not without anguish of heart.
Would you be willing to sit in the strategic planning session for your life and agree with the plans God has for your life? Could you give God complete freedom to implement that plan, no matter the cost? Ask God to give you the grace and trust in His love for you to say "yes."