Regarding our “Focus”

Like many of you, I wear glasses. For me, it is because I can’t read anything without them! I don’t have a problem seeing the street signs while I am driving, but boy, if I look at my phone to read a telephone number or message that someone sent me, it is a blur. I don’t care how much I squint my eyes and try to focus on whatever I am trying to read, it won’t do me any good.

What brought this up, I was recently reading something in Isaiah that made me think a little. Take a look:

“Woe to those who run to Egypt for help, trusting their mighty cavalry and chariots instead of looking to the Holy One of Israel and consulting him. In his wisdom, he will send great evil on his people and will not change his mind. He will rise against them for the evil they have done and crush their allies too. For these Egyptians are mere men, not God! Their horses are puny flesh, not mighty spirits! When the Lord clenches his fist against them, they will stumble and fall among those they are trying to help. All will fail together” (Isaiah 31:1-3)

To help you understand what was happening here, Israel was about to face an army that was much stronger than they were. I mean, a larger army, but also, an army that was much better trained, then they were. The “proverbial” David vs Goliath! However, unlike David, their confidence wasn’t in the Lord (who is certainly far more dependable and powerful than any nation in the world), their focus was on how big their enemy was! Holy Moly!

On top of that, because of their sin, their vision had become fuzzy! Those silly people! It was no different from me trying to read something without my glasses! My friends, if you take your focus off of the Word of God and His promises, everything is going to become fuzzy and confusing! You begin trusting what you see with your physical eyes instead of trusting what you have learned about Yahweh’s promises! How foolish!

All you have to do is to keep your “spiritual” glasses on! Well, in all fairness, that’s not all of it. You also need to make sure your script is up to date. Serious! If my prescription is old I don’t care how clean my glasses are, they won’t help me. I have to go to the Optometrist and have my vision tested to obtain a new script for my glasses. I hate admitting it, but I am getting older and my vision is changing. Ah, but Yahweh’s people didn’t need an Optometrist, God sent Isaiah to remind them of how powerful He was!

You people run to Egypt for help, trusting their mighty cavalry and chariots instead of looking to the Holy One of Israel and consulting him. In his wisdom, he will send great evil to his people and will not change his mind. He will rise against them for the evil they have done and crush their allies too. And yet, even with these reminders, they still couldn’t find it in themselves to trust in God (Isaiah 31:1-2)

Okay, so how do we avoid finding ourselves in this kind of mess in our lives?

Well, we wear our spiritual “eyeglasses” and get our script updated EVERY day. Huh? How in the world do we do that? Ah, by reading, memorizing, and studying God’s Word! Think about what the Psalmist told us:

“Praise the Lord! Yes, really praise him! I will praise him as long as I live, yes, even with my dying breath.

That is our starting point!

Don’t look to men for help; their greatest leaders fail; for every man must die. His breathing stops, life ends, and in a moment all he planned for himself is ended. But happy is the man who has the God of Jacob as his helper, whose hope is in the Lord his God — the God who made both earth and heaven, the seas and everything in them. He is the God who keeps every promise, who gives justice to the poor and oppressed and food to the hungry. He frees the prisoners and opens the eyes of the blind; he lifts the burdens from those bent down beneath their loads. For the Lord loves good men. He protects the immigrants and cares for the orphans and widows. But he turns topsy-turvy the plans of the wicked.

The Lord will reign forever. O Jerusalem, your God is King in every generation! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!” Psalm 146

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A Message of Encouragement

Each time I prepare these messages, one of my constant prayers is, “Father, if someone is struggling with the “affairs of life,” how do I bring hope and comfort to them?” I am thinking about People who want to live faithfully, but face a battle to simply wake up each morning. My desire is to write a message that will cancel their doubts and fears, and instead bring encouragement and strength! To present truth that will dry up the tears and put a song on their lips!

I am thinking of what Prophet Zephaniah stated:

The Lord your God is in your midst, a Mighty One, a Savior Who saves! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest in silent satisfaction and in His love He will be silent and make no mention of past sins, or even recall them; He will exult over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17)

Oh wow! For each of you, I keep hearing the Holy Spirit say:

“Go to my Word, and stand on my promises. Reject your ‘feelings‘ of doubt, stand strong, because He is faithful to care for you.”

All your hope is born out of God’s promises!

I don’t know all the details of your life; what pains you are experiencing; what conditions you face each day of your life. Frankly, I don’t have to. It could be pain from a debilitating disease, or maybe it is the sadness and grief over the loss of a loved one. Some of you see your children in rebellion and living lives far from the Lord. Maybe it’s something much simpler, but still just a debilitating, like the loss of a job or overwhelming debt.

My friend, it doesn’t matter the condition you are in or the circumstance of life you are experiencing, the Lord’s message for you is still the same: “Go to my Word, and stand on my promises.” All your hope is born out of God’s promises.

The Lord wants me to encourage you to, “Celebrate God all day, every day.” What I mean is to revel in him! Our Lord is on your side, He will work with you and not against you. The Master is about to arrive to deliver you in your particular circumstance. He could show up any minute!

“So don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let your petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, let God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life” (Philippians 4:4-7)

In the face of everything you experience, my friend, amid even the most devastating event of body and soul, you can maintain your hope in God’s Word. It will provide an incredible peace — a peace that transcends your ability to understand.

Has the enemy tried to tell you that God has passed you by? Have you been tempted to think that the Lord isn’t with you? That he isn’t on your side? Have you almost given up your faith? Put your hope in the Lord’s Word to you:

“I will never, never fail you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

“All who are oppressed may come to Him. He is a refuge for them in their times of trouble. All those who know your mercy, Lord, will count on you for help. For you have never forsaken those who trust in you. ‘Oh, sing out your praises to the God who lives in Zion'” (Psalm 9:9-11)

So this morning, do that! Sing your praises! Shout the news of your victory! You don’t just conqueror your “stuff of life,” you are more than a conqueror!

Read what Paul wrote:

“The Spirit helps us in our present limitations. For example, we do not know how to pray worthily, but his Spirit within us is actually praying for us in those agonizing longings which cannot find words. He who knows the heart’s secrets understands the Spirit’s intention as he prays according to God’s will for those who love him.

“Moreover we know that to those who love God, who are called according to his plans, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good. For God, in his foreknowledge, chose them to bear the family likeness of his Son, that he might be the eldest of a family of many brothers. He chose them long ago; when the time came he called them, he made them righteous in his sight, and them lifted them to the splendor of life as his own sons.

“In face of all this, what is there left to say? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not grudge his own Son but gave him up for us all–can we not trust such a God to give us, with him, everything else that we can need?

“Who would dare to accuse us, whom God has chosen? God himself has declared us free from sin. Who is in a position to condemn? Only Christ Jesus, and Christ died for us–so he isn’t going to. Christ also rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us!

“Who can possibly separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble? No. Can pain? No. Can persecution? No. Can lack of clothes and food, danger in life and limb? No. Can the threat of force of arms? No. Indeed some of us know the truth of that ancient text:

For thy sake we are killed all the day long;
We were accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

No, that is not true. We are not simply accounted as ‘sheep for the slaughter.’ In all these things we win an overwhelming victory through him who has proved his love for us.

“I have become absolutely convinced that neither death nor life, neither messenger of Heaven nor monarch of earth, neither power from on high nor a power from below, nor anything else in God’s whole world has any power to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!”

Rejoice! (Romans 8:26-39)

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What Has Happened?

What has happened to the Christian message? Most of the teachings we hear these days seem to only focus on comfort and assurance. There is nothing challenging. No messages that teach us to “crucify” ourselves. Instead, they teach you to reject such things. Ignore anything that points out our shortcomings. Everything must be positive and encouraging.

But as Spurgeon said,

Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord. . . .” (Charles Spurgeon)

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Bright Stars or Simple Candles?

This morning I wanted to share something that is so basic, so simple you will probably slap your head and say, “Yeah, of course!”

Let me explain what I mean. Many times I encourage people to “listen” to their Father (Heavenly Father, that is). Allow Him to teach you, to guide you, and form His character within you. Continue reading

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You Are Never UNABLE To Serve!

I have a great story for you. Now, sometimes when we read Scripture we don’t really use our brains enough. For instance, in II Kings we read:

“Josiah was 8 years old when he began to rule, and he was king for 31 years in Jerusalem. His mother was Jedidah, daughter of Adaiah from Bozkath. Josiah did what Yahweh considered right. He lived in the ways of his ancestor David and never stopped” (II Kings 22:1-2) Continue reading

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The Importance of Obedience

I’m sure we have all heard the story about Jesus’ first recorded miracle. Do you remember? It took place while He was attending a wedding celebration. Does that help? They ran out of wine to serve their guests, Mary asked her Son, Jesus, to do something about the situation, telling the servants, “Whatever He tells you to do, do it!” Jesus ordered them to fill up several huge water pots. When they did, He told them to draw out the water which by then had been miraculously changed into wine (See John 2:1-11). There are many things we could discuss here, one of the points of the story is that because they obeyed Jesus, the physical needs of many were met.

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but it needs to be repeated sometimes. If you’re looking for a miracle in your life, make sure you are sowing seeds of obedience. The Lord has promised us that if we are obedient in patient confidence and trust in Him, we will eventually reap our reward: “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9).

Sometimes when things aren’t working out the way we thought they should or we aren’t receiving the answers to our prayers as quickly as we would like, you get the idea, “Well, since God’s not doing anything, why should I? Why should I be obedient if it isn’t producing results?” Well, that’s when we get in trouble. First, your obedience is never to be based on any rewards or payback you think is due. So you better examine your heart before praying in the first place. We also have to realize that God is always working. We just may not be able to see it, because He usually works in secret and rarely (if ever) consults us.

Well, let’s pray about that:

Father, I admit that I have been slow to respond to your instructions and I ask you to forgive me. I am indeed willing to obey you, but your Word says that isn’t enough, that if I am willing and obedient I will eat the good of the land. So, I am willing and I will be obient. period. Amen!

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A Master Archer

Tell me. Have things been piling up and are you feeling overwhelmed with frustration, bitterness, anger? Saying to yourself (or even shouting out) “I can’t take anymore!Continue reading

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