Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Thankful in Times of Opposition – Part 4 of 4

God wants to use us to influence society if we’re willing to stand up and join the ranks. Our great purpose in life is not only to care for our families. We were not placed here on earth only to preserve our own little kingdoms. He wants to use us to see His kingdom come on earth in every area of life, as it is in heaven.

It’s easy for us to recognize that there is a lot of work to be done. The vast global needs can feel overwhelming. The opportunities and possibilities are endless. Do what God has called you to do, and He will work through others to do the rest. Much can be achieved by one faithful servant of Christ, but even more can be accomplished through unity. We need each other’s gifts, talents, and personalities working together and complementing one another. Where there is unity in the body of believers, God has said He will command a blessing.

The best place to begin is by making a difference in our own families. Imagine what our nations would be like if we raised spiritually mature children who loved obeying God. Raising a spiritually healthy next generation is the first step and probably the most crucial step in bringing valuable change. We need more Christians with high morals in areas like government, politics, television, education, the arts, and missions.

We were chosen for such a time as this. We can be thankful that God has a master plan for our lives and that it’s not meant to be boring. We can be thankful for the life experiences we’ve had that prepare us for our specific callings. This is not the time to hide who we are. Instead, this is the time to let our potential shine. Remember, if God is for us, who can be against us?
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Friday, May 25, 2012

Thankful in Times of Opposition – Part 3 of 4

Both Joshua and Caleb had the kind of faith where they were willing to be used by God to make a difference in their society. That’s because they never forgot their origins. They remembered that they were the chosen people of God and that their God was all-powerful. They also chose to remain faithful to God no matter what the cost. That included standing up to popular opinion. Everyone else, except for Moses, wanted to listen to the ten spies that had come back with a fearful report. Joshua and Caleb tried to persuade them differently, but to no avail. The discussion got so heated that the people threatened them with stoning.

How do you feel when others put you down or scorn your Christian faith? Do you wilt away, hoping that they won’t take notice of you in the future? Or do you stand up taller and smile brighter knowing that you’re an heir and a ruler in the family of God?

People will take notice of you, and they’ll want to know what your secret is if you’re willing to have the attitude of Joshua and Caleb. God created you with enormous potential. As you meditate on what God says about you in the scriptures, then you won’t have to worry about what others might think, say, or do.

Part of living out your faith includes having to go against the regular flow of society. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Most people are thermometers that record or register the temperature of majority opinion, not thermostats that transform and regulate the temperature of society.” We know that Dr. King stood for what he believed in despite all the threats and criticisms that he had to face.

You have to decide if you will be the thermostat and transform society or just another thermometer. Will you make yourself available to be used by God to make a difference in the lives of others around you? Do you believe that with God you have the potential to make your life and future a success?

Perhaps you’ve lost yourself in the daily grind of caring for your children, your husband, and your home, and you no longer know who you are. Or, maybe sin and fear are standing in the way of a joyous and faith-filled life.

The Israelites were offered their freedom and a blessed future if they would turn away from their idols and worship and obey God. Instead, they preferred their spiritual and even their physical slavery to God’s gift of freedom.

Don’t be a slave to your family, to sin, or to fear. If you’re going to be a slave, then be a slave to the Lord. The apostle Paul was a Roman citizen and therefore a free man, but he wrote that He was a slave of Christ Jesus. To be a slave of Jesus actually means to be free – free from the bondage of sin and death. The devil came to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus has come to give us life and to give it abundantly (John 10:10).
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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Thankful in Times of Opposition – Part 2 of 4

If you have lost your God-given dream or never dared to have one, I’ve got good news for you. God hasn’t lost it or forgotten it. Your past failures and disappointments don’t have to hold you back from living out your destiny. God uses the positive as well as the negative experiences to shape your future.

God is not looking for flawless people but for real people willing to offer their strengths and weaknesses for His service. Perhaps Moses seemed an unlikely candidate, but God wanted him because he had become a humble man and was therefore ready for God to use. He was used mightily in signs and wonders and on such a dramatic scale. Perhaps an even greater achievement was that God used him to write the first five books of the Old Testament.

God believed in him before all of these great achievements had taken place. God could see what no one else could even imagine. And because Moses obeyed, the unimaginable happened. Yet the Israelites didn’t believe in Moses the same way God did. They didn’t fully trust him as their leader. They also didn’t trust God Almighty. How come? Wasn’t it obvious that God was someone they could trust? Wasn’t He the God of their forefathers, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?

Well, a long period of slavery took its toll on them. They were stripped of their identity as God’s chosen people and, for most of them, their Jewish faith had become a thing of the past. Many of them by now were following the idolatry of the Egyptians. They did so because idolatry was more tangible to them than an obscure God.

God was dealing with people who had forgotten who He was, and they needed proof in order to believe in Him again. That’s why God performed such awesome miracles in their sight. He was also demonstrating to the rest of the known world that He was the only God; there was no other god beside Him.

No matter how many times God proved Himself to them, they continued in their fear and unbelief. As you already know, because of this, almost an entire generation never inherited the land that was promised to them.

Ongoing sin in their lives, for which they never willingly repented, as well as their past slavery, caused them to see themselves as weak and powerless. They didn’t believe that they were able to make a difference in their world. Ultimately, they didn’t believe that with God they had what it took to make their lives and their futures a success.

Of the first generation that originally left Egypt, only Joshua and Caleb ever entered the Promised Land. They helped the second generation take hold of their inheritance because they had refused to succumb to fear and unbelief.
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Friday, May 18, 2012

Thankful in Times of Opposition – Part 1 of 4

What was going on in the hearts and minds of the Israelites the first time they wanted to enter the Promised Land? With the exception of Joshua and Caleb, the people’s hearts were gripped with fear when they saw what stood in their way. The people of the land were mighty and God’s people felt small, so they lost confidence in themselves. They doubted Moses, and most of all, they doubted God. They had a hard time believing in others, probably because they didn’t believe in themselves.

Fear crippled them and prevented them from possessing the land by faith. Fear also kept them from experiencing God’s abundant love. Fear is the opposite of love. The two cannot coexist. Fear operates through unbelief, and love operates through faith.

It’s understandable that the people didn’t respect Moses much. They hardly knew him as a leader, and what they knew of his past hurt his reputation.

Imagine yourself living a slave’s life and one day finding out that one of your own people had been adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter and raised as a prince. For the first forty years of his life Moses was sheltered while his fellow Hebrews suffered under the bonds of slavery. If Moses’ luxurious life didn’t make you jealous, then what happened next might make you think he was unworthy of respect.

His whole life took a dramatic turn when, in a moment of self-appointed heroism, he killed an Egyptian for beating a Hebrew. Then, when his cover was blown, he went on the run. For the next forty years, he lived as a fugitive and worked as a shepherd. From the pleasures of palace living to the harsh realities of desert dwelling, Moses not only looked, but also felt, like a failure.

Just before Moses killed the Egyptian, he knew that he was meant to do something great for God. But after another Hebrew blew his cover, he realized his zeal had been misguided and fled the scene. This incident so crushed his pride that his dream and passion died with it.

When God got hold of him forty years later, he thought God had the wrong man. He not only didn’t jump at the offer to lead the Israelites to freedom, he even declined it. Maybe you have felt like Moses. Maybe you have stopped believing in yourself. However, no matter how bad your past might seem to you, God is in the business of giving second chances.
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Poem - Desert Flower

I’m walking on hard ground
I’m not wearing a frown
No matter the circumstances around

Like a desert flower
I’m blooming where planted
No matter if the ground’s hard and dry
Like a desert flower
Whose petals touch the sky
I’m reaching high
Won’t let this life pass me by

When I feel tired and worn
Can’t see the flower past the thorn
And my dreams feel tattered and torn

Then I remember…
It’s just a little while
And then I will smile
As things take a turn
For this I yearn

Like a desert flower
I’m blooming where planted
No matter if the ground’s hard and dry
Like a desert flower
Whose petals touch the sky
I’m reaching high
Won’t let this life pass me by

by Christina Morley
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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Thankful in Times of Drudgery – Part 5 of 5

After everything the Israelites had gone through with God, they still missed out. They were stuck with old mindsets and refused to be reprogrammed. That entire first generation never made it into the Promised Land, except for the two scouts that had come back with a good report. God rewarded the two faithful scouts for having the right attitude. Those that were complaining, however, only got more misery.

Sadly, that generation had toiled their whole lives long, but had nothing to show for all their hard work. The end of their lives was as sad as the beginning. Sure, God had given them a few victories along the way, but they died without enjoying their inheritance. The Israelites never completely entered into His rest because they misunderstood what it was about. They thought it was just another one of God’s rules so they missed connecting with His heart.

Fortunately, it’s never too late to have a change of mind. The fact that they didn’t believe they could make the total transition into Kingdom thinking doesn’t mean that you can’t. So, even though we are no longer living under the Law, the Sabbath day is still a valuable part of our faith. We need a day off in the week to refuel and to stay connected with Him. However, if you have little children, they don’t miraculously become self-sufficient one day of the week so that you can just rest. They remain a full-time job. But we can choose to slow down and let go of all the other tasks clamoring for our attention.

His desire is to see us living out of His rest every day. We can achieve this by living from a place of peace rather than from a frantic frenzy. We do this when we give our cares over to Him and trust Him in every situation of our lives. We don’t have to strive in our own strength any longer.

God’s plan was that entering His rest would be a lifestyle. As you nurture a vibrant relationship in Christ, and live out of His rest, you’ll have all you need to thrive.
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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thankful in Times of Drudgery – Part 4 of 5

Passing through a desert in life is hard, going around it in circles is even harder, and hating every step of the way is just unbearable. So, what should a mom do when she feels stuck in time, or forgotten? I can’t say that I have any simple answers. All I can say is that this, too, will pass. It’s only for a time.

A friend of mine once told me that if you can’t change your problem, then change your perspective. So when you find yourself in a dry place, ask God to teach you what you have to learn. Determine to wake up every morning saying, “Good morning, God!” rather than “Good God, it's morning!”

As people of God, we’re not just supposed to survive; we’re meant to thrive! God never intended the Israelites just to survive either. He had a plan for their lives that was meant for good and not for evil. That plan included an inheritance, but they weren’t ready to enter into that inheritance.

Part of that inheritance was entering into God’s rest; a rest from work. This was called the Sabbath day. It was not just another rule. God did not make it up to lord it over them. Since they weren’t allowed to do any work on that day, it taught them to rely on God instead of their own strength. It was also God’s way of protecting them from exhaustion and burn-out.

Yes, God wanted them to be obedient and to depend on Him. But, He also wanted them to have a day to rest, to contemplate, and to recharge. Also, God intended the Sabbath rest to teach them to rest in God’s abilities in the whole of their lives.
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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Thankful in Times of Drudgery – Part 3 of 5

Besides being on the same diet for forty years, the Israelites also had to follow the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. God required that at any time, day or night, if the pillar moved they had to move. Imagine how much work it took to pack up and move a nation of people with their tents and animals at a moment’s notice. What fun that must have been!

God had a reason for this. He was teaching them obedience and dependence. He wanted His children to keep their eyes on Him. Otherwise, they would have forgotten about Him long before and gone their own way.

Aren’t we the same? When things are going well, we forget to pray, but when troubles strike, we pray. Then when we do pray, we try to force His hand to fix things our way. That’s because human nature doesn’t really like submitting to God’s way. His way often seems to be the harder way. At least He cares more about us becoming like Christ than we do, so He doesn’t give in to our little tantrums.

The Israelites had a forty-year sentence. God mercifully numbered the lifespan of the first generation so that the next generation could enter the Promised Land. Sadly, the second generation didn’t learn from their parents’ mistakes. The time spent in the desert was meant to prepare them for a supernaturally blessed future, but they were slow learners.
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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thankful in Times of Drudgery – Part 2 of 5

At one point along the way, the children of Israel complained that their food lacked variety. They were fed up with manna, manna, and more manna (Num. 11:4-10). Their complaining got so bad that it turned into weeping. All the men stood in the doorways of their tents and wept bitterly. Their families who were inside their tents wept with them. That must have been quite a noise!

Of course, God was highly offended, and Moses was extremely displeased with them. If they had only asked nicely, they might have received a proper portion of meat to eat every day, but because of their bad attitude they suffered God’s wrath instead. Indeed, their complaining infuriated God so much that He sent them a plague of quail (the meat that they had requested), which lasted for an entire month. They had so much meat that it made them sick.

Thankfully, His wrath didn’t last forever. There was a point where God put things back in balance because, according to the account in Exodus (Ex. 16:12-15, 35), their daily diet consisted of a day’s worth of manna in the mornings and quail in the evenings. Interestingly, they ate manna for the entire forty years that they were kept wandering in the desert, until they entered the Promised Land.

When I consider our modern-day grocery stores, I’m amazed at the wide variety of foods available. I wonder if we really appreciate what we have. Do we realize how blessed we are? Are we thankful that we can buy almost anything we want so conveniently?
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