Archive for August, 2017
“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you’” (Isaiah 41:13).
While rational capabilities make you aware of your disadvantages, the same rational mind has the power to think and assess things differently. Obstacles become opportunities not with a change in circumstances, but with a change of attitude. The parent/child relationship depicted in today’s passage is an assurance of God’s power and presence. The raised right hand is the Father’s defense against the enemy while his left holds securely the hand of his child. Thus, in any situation, we are in the advantaged position.
“Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, ‘if this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner'” (Luke 7:39).
While often criticized for his associations, you never find Jesus turning away those whose sins were too great or needs too many. A fresh start awaits those who drop all pretense and self- righteousness. Taking hold of God’s forgiveness opens the door to a new life.
“And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’” (Matthew 14: 29-31).
Just as walking on water is humanly impossible apart from Divine help, so is living the Christian life. It’s a supernatural act, accomplished only as we allow the Holy Spirit to play out the purposes of God in our life. Try it on your own determination and self-sufficiency and, like Peter, you soon find it to be a sinking proposition. Faith releases God’s power and opens the door to other possibilities.
“For I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts” (Colossians 4:8).
Things will happen to you—count on it. Things will then happen in you—your perspective on life will be forged; either wisdom and compassion will emerge, or bitterness and anger. Then things will happen through you—your influence within concentric circles around you will be for good or bad. Regardless the circumstances of life, as they happen to you, in you, and through you, these can be an encouragement and inspiration to others.
“…so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else” (Philippians 1:13).
Recognizing the “progress” (v.12) of the gospel as a result of his imprisonment, Paul’s example reveals that even our most difficult circumstances become the vehicle for fulfilling the providential purposes of God. That Paul now has members of the praetorian guard chained to him 24 hours a day, in rotating four hour shifts, means inroads have been made into a people group that would not have been reached in normal conditions. Just as a detachment of woodcutters cleared a path for an advancing Roman army (the original use of “progress”), through what appeared to be an impenetrable forest, so our circumstances open doors to audiences we would have never imagined. Time and eternity will reveal the impact of what you are currently facing.
“According to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:20)
Whether present circumstances, or all future circumstances, Paul’s only desire is that his response would honor and glorify Christ. It is a game-changing perspective on how to view life and interpret the things that happen to us. Instead of allowing external circumstance to be the constant blame for what is blocking your way, the apostle shows us an internal perspective of faith that will not be denied. People may soon forget the hardships you faced, but they will never forget the way you endured and walked through them.
“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel” (Philippians 1:12).
Despite all safeguards and precautions, we inevitably live in the context of ever-changing, and uncontrollable circumstances. Circumstances are no respecter of persons. They hammer us just as they they hammered Jesus—a man of sorrows…one acquainted with grief (Is. 53:3). The appropriate question in such circumstances isn’t, “Why is this happening?” but, rather, “When things happen, what is my response?”
“So that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my Helper. I will not be afraid’” (Hebrews 13:6).
Instead of sticking with the facts, we tend to embellish and tell ourselves more than is actually true. To hear your child is sick doesn’t mean his life is in danger. That the corporate office is looking into the efficiency of operations doesn’t imply your position is about to be eliminated. Much worry can be eliminated by just getting out of our own heads and not adding to the known facts; to see things as they actually are; nothing more, nothing less.
“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).
Confessing one’s sin is to say the same thing as God regarding a matter. Most of the time we don’t have a very accurate assessment our shortcomings. What God’s word would define as sin, we dismiss as an addiction, a disease, a predisposition. Until we confess and agree with God on those things that are destructive and impede the accomplishment of His purposes in our life, we can never move forward. It’s not about wallowing in guilt but wanting more.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love” (1 John 4:18).
God’s grace allows us to live each day with a sense of vibrancy and abandonment for Him; not cowered down in the fear of some cruel punishment at our slightest mistake. Our Heavenly Father knows that the most effective discipleship and service of faith grows out of love and not fear. Go ahead—live and love.