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“We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days, in the times of old. How thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand, and plantedst them; how thou didst afflict the people, and cast them out. For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them.” (Psalm 44:1-3)

It matters not if we act to serve God or act to work against God, if we believe in God or do not believe in God, if we believe in God and transgress or if we believe in God and do not transgress. Create any scenario you like, at the end of the day, or more precisely, in God’s perfect timing, HIS WILL, will be done! God has a plan and He is going to stick to it, regardless if it’s for the short term or the ‘big’ picture prophetically – God’s orchestrating the entire thing and He always has been.

Consider the ‘blessing debacle’ with Isaac, Jacob, and Rebekah. All three, despite being Godly folks, were operating sinfully, while not realizing that God’s plan (for Jacob in the short term and for mankind in the long term), was going to happen regardless if this trio worked with God righteously or against Him sinfully – the result was always going to be the same. The fact that God allowed the event to occur as it did and then use it to convey the Divine principle to us now, just demonstrates His sovereignty and the unfathomable intricacy of His plan.

I’m not suggesting that as followers of Jesus Christ we might as well sin. That would be so very foolish (as brother Paul confirms in an epistle), as we always want to be working on the side of righteousness. But aren’t you comforted in knowing that if we sin, or if we make mistakes, or if for a moment or a season we ignore the pleadings of the Holy Spirit, that God’s plan is moving forward anyway?

I don’t know about you, but that gives me much peace.

I believe (at least in part), this is what Jesus was talking about when He said His yoke was EASY and His burden is LIGHT. Consider the ‘burden’ that all Christians are called to share (the Gospel) and how so many of us are weighed down by the thought of doing it, so much so that many don’t.

Why?

Because we’ve made what was supposed to light, heavy.

Remember, God’s plan is going forward regardless of what we do, and He is responsible for drawing believers unto Himself. Our ‘very light’ burden is to just start the conversation, a conversation by the way He will equip us for. The bulk of the burden falls on God, not us. More importantly, if God wants a particular person to hear the Gospel and we fail in our obedience, God will make another way for it to happen, but how very foolish we are if we choose to not participate in God’s plan. Our salvation is not threatened, but know we have forfeited the opportunity to bless and please God, and there will be loss of some sort.



As I write this blog, the nation is suffering greatly from a decimating virus, an unrepairable financial deficit, riots, looting, and destruction. The solution is Jesus, and everything He brings to the table. The world’s solution, such as dismantling our police departments, is insanity, especially in light of the knowledge that God’s plan is going to prevail in the long run.

This is the message the Church needs to be bringing, while simultaneously not being burdened with the notion that we carry the weight of saving America (or the world) on our shoulders. We preach it, we teach it, we share the information, and God will take it from there. For us, we just want to be on the right side of it all.

Learning to Pray

“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” (Romans 8:26)

I remember my first time(s) praying corporately. It was a little unnerving due to a lack of confidence and the awkwardness associated with public speaking. Looking back I see what an amazing and Godly learning experience it was. Not only did I learn how to pray stylistically (by listening to others), but I was simultaneously being taught that my trepidation was steeped in pride and selfishness. Today if somebody says, “Prayer changes the pray-er,” I know where they’re coming from.

Praying privately or corporately is now an easy thing (generally speaking), however that does not mean I fully know how to pray. The Romans 8:26 passage reminds me that learning how to pray, or perhaps more precisely what to pray, is a never-ending process. The key I found is in paying attention to what I prayed for and then how God responded. Did what I specifically pray ‘for or about’ come to fruition, or was there another result?

That’s of course where the Romans verse applies. When I pray amiss, the Holy Spirit steps in and essentially tells God (as I imagine), “Father, this is what Dave meant to say…” and God answers that prayer. It’s still my prayer, but God tweaked it and in so doing made it doable, in that His will and my will were now in harmony, thanks to the Spirit’s interceding. My role as a learner (disciple) is to pay attention to the changes that He made and adjust my future prays accordingly, while submitting myself to Him for the changes in me that need to be made.

“Okay, I prayed for this, but God did this instead. Hmm, what do I need to allow God to change in me so I do not make that same error again? Was my prayer selfish or prideful? Did I not see the bigger picture? What was it?”

God says yes to these prayers.

In fact, God never says no to our prayers when the Holy Spirit prays with us. If we think or believe God has said “No,” it is because we have forgotten, or do not know that the Holy Spirit was interpreting for us, and/or we were not paying attention to what God ultimately did as it relates to our initial prayer. So while it may seem He said no to us, in reality He said yes to the Holy Spirit.

God cannot deny Himself.

And lest we forget, while this is all going on, Jesus is also making speaking on our behalf.

Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” (Romans 8:34)

It’s a win-win in regard to prayer, as long as we’re paying attention and willing to learn. If God is for us, He is for us.



“Break the arms of these wicked, evil people! Go after them until the last one is destroyed. The Lord is king forever and ever! The godless nations will vanish from the land. Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them. You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so mere people can no longer terrify them.”(Psalm 10:15-18)

This Psalm is King David’s and it is essentially a prayer. Does it seem harsh to you? That’s because it is harsh, so it deserves an explanation.

First, keep in my mind that God has told us that vengeance is His, not ours, but He is not saying we can seek justice through our legal system when we are wronged. The vengeance being spoken of (and implied in David’s Psalm) is as severe as it can get and the type of punishment only God is able to dispense. It is also eternal.

Second, we don’t know who is deserving of this kind of punishment. We think we know, but only God knows. For example, we look at Hitler and think, “Surely he should go to hell,” but the truth be told we ALL should go to hell; Hitler could have ‘sincerely’ repented and came to believe in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, just as we did. Let us not waste our time in pondering that that was highly unlikely. Accept these 2 facts: we do not know and Jesus does know. Consider the Apostle Paul. The guy was a mini-Hitler. Instead of Jews, he exterminated Christians, but yet he saw the light and repented. Aren’t you glad that some vengeance-minded posse didn’t take him out?

I am.

King David’s prayer reflects his understanding of God’s sovereignty in this regard. And since we cannot inflict our own sort of revenge, and since we don’t know who will be damned (by God) and who will not, our call is to love our enemies, that is to say to love them enough to share the Gospel message with them, wearing our faith and ambassadorship on our sleeves. We surely don’t condone evil behavior, but if given the opportunity (by the Holy Spirit, mind you) we attempt to side-step evil to reach the soul of the one doling it out.

In summary:

1) If you’re wronged, try to settle it in a Biblical manner. If you don’t know what that is, ask your pastor or google it.
2) Protect yourself and others as the law permits.
3) Call the police, a lawyer, etc. if necessary.
4) Vengeance is God’s. Don’t go there. Pray has David did.

Any Other god

“I know the greatness of the Lord—that our Lord is greater than any other god. The Lord does whatever pleases him throughout all heaven and earth, and on the seas and in their depths.” (Psalm 135:5-6)

The Psalmist, in comparing our Lord to any other god, is not suggesting that these other gods are legitimate divinity. These gods are only real in the sense that men have created them in their own minds and errantly worship them. Having said that, we should consider Allah for a moment.

Allah, is the Arabic word for God. Christian Arabs have no other word for ‘God’ than ‘Allah’, so in this circumstance, the God of the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, can legitimately be referred to as Allah.

Muslims obviously use the same word, however their Allah is a perversion of the one true and living God. In other words they have taken the God of the Bible and changed His attributes and altered Bible-truth to harmonize with the false, Muslim faith. Therefore, the Allah of the Muslim religion is a false god. I don’t say that maliciously. I surely do not hate Muslims, I am just proclaiming the truth. Their god and their religion is detrimental to their eternal future.

For the record, there are many religions that have hijacked the God of the Bible and perverted His true identity by adding too, or subtracting from God’s Word. Sadly, many of them masquerade as Christian.

Looking at it another way, imagine some one took the likeness of Colonel Sanders (of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame), and began promoting him as a purveyor of hamburgers. We all know the truth, so we could boldly and truthfully say that they are lying; they have perverted the Colonel’s true identity and the person they are presenting, despite the familiar picture, does not exist in real life.

There can only be one God – Jesus made that absolutely clear. You would recall that our Lord and Savior was humiliated, brutally tortured and murdered. His sacrificial death served as sufficient atonement for our sin. God did this to His Son. Jesus asked of His Father if there were some other way. There was not. This was the only way. If there were another way or some other god that could have paved the way for our eternal security, then God allowed His Son to suffer a horrifying death for nothing.

It would all just be a nice story, a myth, or folklore, if Jesus our Messiah had not risen from the grave.

“If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee.” (Proverbs 25:21-22)

Let’s start with what the proverb is not saying: if you do something nice for your enemy, he will become enraged, inflamed if you will, and thus it will serve as a God-approved retaliation.

Do we seriously think God would reward us for that?

Of course not.

Isn’t our ‘Christian kindness’ designed to draw people towards Christ?

Of course it is.

The ‘head’ being spoken of in the Proverb is a term which refers to the barely glowing, seemingly dormant embers of a fire, as in a furnace or an old locomotive, that are intended to go low, but never go out, the rationale being that a blaze can be easily stoked by just adding fuel, without having to start a fire from scratch. 

 

The ‘enemy’ in the proverb is a broad term. It simply could mean those who have done you wrong, but it could also typify the unsaved or back slidden person whose head has gone cold. The niceties of the Christian who blesses this person are likened to hot coals that will serve to restore the flame that has expired or perhaps was never there to begin with. 

This is the type of behavior the Lord rewards.

HELP!

“Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord.” (Psalm 130:1)

“Help me God!” is a familiar phrase to many Christians, so much so we often incorporate it into our testimonies. These believers will go on to tell you that after crying out to God they discovered, either immediately or later on as they matured in their faith, that the help they needed was always there – Jesus provided it 2000 years ago and all that was required was to lay claim to it.



What must we say to take ownership?

“I believe.”

Of course it’s just not uttering those two little words, it must be a truthful confession and it must be all encompassing – in due time you must believe Jesus, His account and commands, as they are recorded in the Bible – the whole Bible. When you desperately call to God for help, you’re agreeing to surrender your ways of doing things for His way of doing things, despite not knowing or understanding all that that means. That is the essence of faith. Some key things you may grasp initially (or will eventually):

1) I’m a sinner and I’m going to hell.

Many folks have difficulty accepting that. They’re not yet in the ‘depths’ (sometimes referred to as ‘hitting bottom’) and life appears to be good; they enjoy their sin and it doesn’t seem to be hurting anyone. They laugh at those who tell them their path is the way of destruction, but then it happens: their habitual sin begins to hurt, causing pain to themselves and to others. In time it brings them to a place where they cannot escape. It’s from these ‘depths’ they eventually cry out, “Help me God!”

2) There’s NOTHING I can do to save myself.

a) You want to reject sin; turn away from it, but you can’t. You may stop for a season, but it always draws you back. You’re desperate.

b) Your sin-history prevents you from going to Heaven and there’s nothing you can do to change that. You can’t ‘do good’ to counteract the bad. Entrance to Heaven requires perfection and our sin (just one sin) makes us all imperfect. Once again, you’re desperate.

3) Jesus is your only help. He is perfect and He paid the penalty for our sin.

It’s not required to understand all the doctrine behind Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross, at least not initially, not when you’re crying out to Jesus from your depths of despair. Just accept the fact by faith that He did it and He’s the only one who can help you. Later on, when the bonds of sin have been broken and you’re free from satan’s grasp, you’ll desire to know more about the Jesus who saved you. You’ll come to realize that He wants a relationship with you and you’ll want a relationship with Him. In so doing, your faith and knowledge of Jesus will grow, and you’ll desire to share Him with others.

4) God will help you even if you don’t believe.

Can that be true?

Yes, but it’s not a wise course to take. I have heard countless stories from folks who, in the depths of despair cried out to God for help and He helped them. Myself included. Promises were made and promises were broken, not by God, but by us. We may have uttered that we believe, but there was no truth in those words. God knew, but He helped us anyway. But our words were empty and the bonds of sin were not broken, therefore our reprieve was temporary. We were pulled out of the quagmire and given a chance to repent; to keep the promises we made, but instead we rejected God. As a result we wound up in a worse place. Sometimes it took several trips before realizing Jesus way is truly the only way.

5) You don’t have to hit bottom

It seems most people take the hard way to faith, but some people actually discovered that there is an easier way. The path is essentially the same, but without having to endure all the pain and suffering caused by self-inflicted sin. They simply believed the testimony of Christians (many of whom took the hard way) or opened their Bibles and learned (and believed) for themselves. God spells out the path very clearly in His word:

  • Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” 
  • Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” 
  • Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
  • Romans 10:9, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
  • Romans 10:13 “for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

That’s it in a nutshell. Believe it and you’re saved. Repentance, ie turning away from your sin and turning to Jesus, is implied in the text and explicitly recorded elsewhere in Scripture. Turning away from sin is not a work, it’s a choice. Besides, good works (deeds) are not needed to be saved. Actually, they’re useless. However, you will develop good works as a result of having been saved. If you’re truly saved, good works are inevitable and you will enjoy doing them.

Please share.

Is that true? Are Christians destroying the United States of America? In order to answer the question, I ask that you consider this portion of Scripture found In 2nd Chronicles:
 
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” —2 Chronicles 7:14
 
Who is God speaking to?
 
If you said ancient Israel, under the reign of King Solomon, almost three thousand years ago, you would be historically correct. This is a specific covenant (contract), to a specific people (Jews), to save a specific nation (Israel), so it is not applicable to the church (Christians).
 
I’m not wholly convinced.
 
First, Christians are God’s people and God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We have been grafted into the vine that is Israel and the church collectively is the Bride of Christ. In regards to America being saved, well that’s not likely to happen; in the end, it is Israel that survives — no mention of the good ‘ol USA in the Bible. However, that does not mean our nation can’t be healed for a period of time, nor does it mean that America can’t be better than it is today. America’s end is inevitable, but her in-betweens are not.
 
Back to 2nd Chronicles
 
Why is America in such a moral mess? I can tell you
that’s it’s not the government’s fault, nor is it the fault of non-believers. “We have met the enemy and they are ours!” it’s the fault of those prideful, non-praying, self-seeking, hypocritical Christians that fill our pews every Sunday! Across the board we ignore God in prayer, we ignore or pervert His word, we turn a blind eye to sin, and although not directly participating in wickedness, we sure enjoy watching it on TV. Dare I mention fornication, abortion, and intoxication?
 
You get the picture.
 
Let’s be clear: this country has been entrusted to those who are called by His name, and be us devout or nominal, we outnumber the God-less folks. Our country’s dismal condition is due to the fact that we have dropped the morality-ball, not them. If there is to be any hope for this nation, Christians must repent — it is the very definition of revival. If this occurs, then there will be a healing. 2 Chronicles 7:14 simply gives us the recipe: humility, prayer, turning from sin and pursuing God.
 
I believe it safe and logical to assume that America is broken because most Christians reject revival. If we want the land revived, we ourselves must first be revived, individually and corporately. And if you are one to say that revival is only a movement of God, I will not argue, but say, “Look around – God is moving!” adding, “were you really waiting for a miraculous sign before you repent, humble yourself, and seek God’s face?” That seems quite faithless to me.
 
Revival begins with humility. God already knows our spiritual condition; He’s just waiting for us to recognize and confess it. Start there. Then pray. Then pour into His word. Then wait and see what God will do.
 
Will God heal our land? We cannot be sure, primarily because we cannot predict how many Christians will respond, but this I do know, if one person is revived, he or she will be healed, and that alone should be sufficient.

The Ruler asked, “What should I do to inherit eternal life.”

After some back-and-forth, Jesus said, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Luke 18:22)

I’ve been studying the life of Lot. You know the story — Lot’s an oppressed, non-influential believer, living in sin-filled Sodom, a city that God is about to reduce to ashes. Two angels stand beside Lot pleading that he leave the city, but Lot hesitates.

Why?
He believes in God and he believes these messengers are angels. I submit to you he was experiencing the same despair as the ‘Rich Young Ruler’ in the Gospel of Luke story. Lot was a ruler of sorts, holding some type of government position in Sodom, and likely had a measurable degree of wealth. Lot was respected in Sodom, that is, as long as he turned a blind eye to sin and corruption, and kept his religion to himself. While Jesus told the Ruler to sell all that he had, in similar fashion two angels told Lot to abandon all that he had. We know what happen to Lot; the angels took him by the hand and plopped him outside the city walls, directing him to walk the rest of the way. We don’t know what the Ruler decided. I’d like to think that he made the proper choice. 
 
We’re a lot like Lot and the Ruler.
 
What if you were told right now to leave it all behind? Don’t consider what you would eventually do, consider what your very first reaction would be. Would there be any hesitation? Would you pause to ask why? Or would you simply turn and start walking, leaving even vehicles behind, carrying only what was on your back? If you’re honest (if I’m honest), we’d probably react just like Lot and the Ruler did: we’d hesitate, seek explanations, and proffer justifications. 
 

Where does that leave all of us?

It’s okay to ask the question; the disciples were wondering the same exact thing. They too were struggling with the notion of being able to walk away from all they had. Could they leave their homes? Their cars? Their cable TV? Well that’s certainly what their question implies. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they ask.

Jesus responds with the most gracious, merciful, and loving answer, and frankly, it’s the bedrock of the entire Gospel message: “What is impossible for people is possible with God.” (Luke 18:22-27)

Absolute repentance and complete submission is a little frightening at first. It speaks to perfection, so we naturally shy away from that which we cannot achieve. Jesus knows this too. It’s why He bluntly said, “It’s impossible!” And that’s the whole point. Are we not made strong in our weaknesses? We cannot save ourselves. We are helpless by design! It is when we recognize our imperfect condition that the Perfect One can do the impossible.
 
The angels brought a vacillating Lot out of bondage and he ultimately walked by faith. Jesus brings us out in the same condition and simply asks we do the same.

A Lot of Unholiness

I became a police officer in 1981. I came to faith in 1984. Young, stupid, and un-discipled, I eventually fell back into my old, sinful ways. I did not yet understand the spiritual principle regarding holiness — the notion of being set apart for God and endeavoring to make it known, perpetually.
 
I attempted to share my faith, but rapidly succumb to the ridicule of both criminal and coworker. I blame neither for my downward spiral – – the fault was my own. I was like the seed that sprang up quickly and the one that fell among the thorns: shallow roots growing amongst weeds. In other words: I was not growing in my faith and I was not practicing holiness (set-apartness).
 
It reminds me of Lot.
 
Consider one of the most disturbing portions of Scripture:
 
“Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing.” (Genesis 19:8)
 
For centuries scholars have debated why a man would make such a despicable offer. Some have even attempted to defend Lot’s action. The truth be told, the deed is indefensible. We can however surmise that Lot got to this horrendous condition through a lack of spiritual growth and a lack of holiness.
 
Sodom was a vile place, replete with depravity, perversion, and sexual sin. Why Lot chose to live in such a place we may never know, but we can speculate that on day one, week one, or even year one of living in Sodom, Lot would not have offered his daughters up to be raped. However, after 25 years of living there, he was worn down by the continual vice, brutality, and materialism. Two and a half decades of compromise, turning a blind-eye, cowering in fear, and concealing his faith brought Lot to this place. It did not happen overnight. Shallow roots among thorns have little chance.
 
On the other hand, consider Abraham. While not a perfect man, he was a faith-filled man, a man who grew in his knowledge of the Lord and exercised holiness, opting to remain untethered to the world as a nomadic tent dweller. Sodom essentially lay at his doorstep, but he was not of Sodom. He was free to engage with the world on his terms and not on theirs. As a result, he was used mightily by God.
 
As with Lot, God did not abandon me, He rescued me. Like Lot, my salvation was secure because by faith I believed. But in those days, I was not of much use to God. Thankfully our Lord is both gracious and merciful, and remains faithful when we are not. He restores what the locust devours, that is if we allow Him to.
 
Study the word, be in prayer, and be ye holy.

Signs

I got the love of woodworking from my dad. He was not a skilled carpenter by any stretch of the imagination, but he enjoyed making things and I enjoyed making things with him. He would put on some work clothes and then make the announcement:

“I’m going out to the garage to do some work, if anyone wants to help me!”

I always jumped at the opportunity.

It’s not that I was ever much help, but my dad would let me hammer a couple of pieces of scrap wood together, or try my hand at sawing a 2 x 4 in half (no power tools, of course). It was during one of these sessions my dad gave me my first hammer, a hammer I still have today.

I’m so glad that I never missed the signs: his donning of work clothes, the house-wide announcements, or coming home to the sounds of construction coming from the garage. I could have ignored those signs and our father-son relationship would be still be intact (my rejection would not affect dad’s love for me), but at the end of the day, he would be working alone.

So it is with God.

Our Father in Heaven also gives us signs. He doesn’t need us, but He wants us to be a part of what He is doing. Sometimes we’re too busy to notice them and other times we outright ignore them. It doesn’t mean we’re not saved and it does not affect His love for us, but we will have missed a valued chance to work with and learn directly from the Father, and I suspect that saddens Him.

Signs. Look for the signs.

It shall be when these signs come to you,
do for yourself what the occasion requires,
for God is with you.
(1 Samuel 10:7)

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