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Iím the quiet, intelligent type. When Iím quiet, Iím intelligent. But I limp to the Bible and find comfort. I bump into Isaac, who blessed the wrong twin; and Jacob, the scheming mummyís boy, who had to marry his sister-in-law to patch up his first mistake. I hear Job clawing for words to recount the tragedy that marred his childhood Ė he was born alive. I see Saul hiding amongst the baggage; David squabbling with his brothers; Jonah bewailing the death of a weed; Thomas poking holes in Jesusí side. Whenever they had a brainwave heaven ducked for cover. Hard-boiled? These egg-heads were always in hot water.
Genuine success Ė the synthetic varieties donít last Ė is achieving what God expects of us. Only God can measure it. Donít gauge hurdlers by how high they jump, or pole-vaulters by how fast they run. Judge archers by their accuracy but donít apply this measure to javelin throwers. If that seems obvious itís because sport lacks the mystery of real life. In the game of life spectators speculate, the Judge judges.
God is making a smart cookie. If Iím covered with spilt milk, thatís marvelous. If thereís egg on my face, itís a bonus. If Iím mixed up, Iím delighted. If Iím beaten, Iím making progress. If the heat is on, Iíll warm to my task. If Iím half-baked, something good is cooking. When I feel I could crumble, Iím nearing perfection. Everything is going my way.
No matter how much you cry, beg, and wish, you have not moved from superstition to authentic Christian prayer until you can thank God for the answer, knowing it is yours before you hold it in your hand. Faith is not thinking that God can ; it is knowing that he will (Mark 11:24; James 1:5-8).
Faith empowers us to soar beyond human limitations into the realm of the divine.
Like Naaman fuming at being told to have a bath, (2 Kings 5:7-14) we might do something heroic for God Ė terrorize demons, hang by our thumbs in the heart of Islam, rush an injured angel to a vet (who else sets broken wings?) Ė but when it comes to the mundane Ė well I stacked the chairs last week. And you had a bath last Christmas.
If you think praise is hot air, youíre right. Itís the hot air that makes faith balloon, lifting us to new heights in God, while warming the Fatherís heart.
The mind-boggling intensity of Godís love is as close and as crucial as the oxygen you breathe. Despite this, we tend to drift into regarding the infinite love of God as if it had the practical relevance of the countless grains of sand in a desert we have never seen. Letís bring our thinking down from the clouds to hard reality. The fact of divine love makes the happiness of Almighty God forever dependent upon your happiness. If you hurt, God hurts.
We may seem the object of ridicule, but weíre the focus of infinite love. Weíre fruit growing sweeter, wine gaining value; not milk going sour. Weíre not cardboard caving, colors fading, under the weight of time; weíre concrete drying stronger, trees growing higher, dawn glowing brighter.
The enemy of our souls is the master deceiver because that is all he can do. The devil cannot change reality. He cannot change the fact that God loves you with all of this unlimited love and that Christ died for the sins of the entire world, which has to include every sin you have ever committed. So all he can do is mess with your feelings, hoping that you will start to believe them rather than believe in the power of Christ and the love of God.
One of the most important things in the Christian life is to focus on Godís great love for us and not let Satan trick us into thinking that God frowns on us when we fall into sin. Yes, God is disappointed, but when a little child falls, whatís the first thing he does? He runs to mommy or daddy for comfort. You, too, can run to Daddy, the instant you fall. The tender, forgiving Lord is devoted you. Satan, however, wants to you to fear, and feel bad about running to God. He knows we instinctively recoil from anyone we fear might be angry or displeased with us and keep that person at armís length. He wants us to be standoffish from the only One who can truly deliver us and defeat Satan in our lives. He doesnít want us to rejoice in Godís forgiveness but to feel miserable.
Heroism is not the absence of fear, but plowing on regardless. Likewise, faith Ė spiritual heroism Ė is not the absence of doubt. In fact, doubt serves us as our personal spiritual trainer, enabling us to build spiritual muscle, and thus empowering us for eternal greatness.
Earth sees us flattened on the wrestling ring canvas in faithís fight. Heaven sees us forming on the canvas of the Great Artist.
From tongue-tied Moses (to er is human) to cave-mouth Peter; from down-in-the-mouth Jonah to high-as-a-kite Noah (Genesis 9:21); from Job in his trouble-bath to Mordecai having the last laugh, the Bible bristles with ordinary folk who achieved extraordinary things for God. And you were born to continue this tradition.
Encouraging fellow Christians works miracles because God is already working powerfully within them. Encouragement releases God to burst through the drizzle of despair and negativity that dampens the fire of God within a person. It builds the faith that gives God free rein to do the beautiful things he longs to do in the personís life.
From the age of four, I loved helping grandpa lay cement paths. Almost anyone could do a better job than a little child, but that was irrelevant. I was irreplaceable. I had a special place in grandpaís heart.
Christians wishing they had the abilities of others are nightingales coveting a peacockís beauty or soaring eagles envying the powerful legs of an ostrich. Donít despise the unique blend of abilities bestowed on you by the keenest Mind in the universe. Stop envying the ministry of others and start clarifying your own call. If, to your thinking, that call seems insignificant, the thing to be ashamed of is not your calling but your thinking!
The world is filled with Godís undercover agents Ė ministers of the gospel who have successfully infiltrated enemy territory using all sorts of ingenious covers Ė housewife, plumber, bus driver . . . Their exploits, unknown on earth, are the talk of heaven. These resolute, Christ-like conquerors cannot be bought. They refuse to trade eternal acclaim for temporal applause. Heavenís megastars may be so inconspicuous, youíd think theyíre in training for the Pew Warmer of the Year Award. No one would guess the shock-waves they send through Satanís camp when these spiritual gladiators plunder his kingdom. Everyone scrambles to be in the limelight, except these saints: they are light Ė the light of the world.
In my mindís eye I saw myself charging into a burning building to rescue someone I loved more than life itself. Every movement began to slow down. Shielding her body, I suffer horrific burns to carry her to safety, where I collapse, writhing in agony. But it is worth every throb of pain because the love of my life is completely untouched by the fire. All that matters is that sheís unharmed. Seeing my wounds she says, ďI donít deserve such love!Ē I look on in horror as, overwhelmed by a feeling of unworthiness, she then runs back into the fire and kills herself; breaking my heart by her death and rendering all my suffering an utter waste.
He became human so that divinity could flow through you. The Eternal died so that you could be more alive than ever before; took on your mortality to give you immortality. He wore your limitations so you could enjoy his infinity. The Almighty crumbled with your weakness to give you supernatural strength. The Pride of the universe agonized with your loneliness so that you would never be alone again; suffered your isolation so that you and he could be inseparable. The King of kings bore your shame and darkness so that you could be radiant with his honor; was humiliated with your depravity to infuse you with his holy majesty; lowered himself to the dust of death so that you could be enthroned with him in highest heaven. Godís noble Son shamed himself with your foolishness to give you his intellect; exchanging your dirty, cloudy thinking for his crystal purity; suffering for your idiotic blunders so that you could be dignified as a superior being, graced with divine wisdom. He let your sorrow crush him to let you beam with his joy; was impoverished by your debts so that you could revel in his riches. He absorbed within himself all your inadequacies so that you could overflow with his abundance.
No matter how you feel, you are the focus of Godís attention; doted on as though you are the only friend God has. If ever a man wanted to shower his bride with love, or his son with gifts, God longs to lavish you with his extravagance. Expect great things from God. Anything less is an insult to your almighty Savior. With your Lord impossibilities are playthings.
Faith is not a non-stop flight above reality; itís a fight. What distinguishes people of faith is not how rarely they hit the dirt, but how often they get up again. To be perpetually positive is impossible. The mere attempt embroils us in prayer battles and Abrahamic effort. The enemy often flees to his corner, only to prepare for the next round. You might even have climbed out of the ring, but the reward for getting back in exceeds anything anyone could offer.
The great mystery of Christian life is not unanswered prayer, itís unfinished prayer. Prayer that quits before the answer arrives is like a mansion carefully constructed, almost furnished, and then abandoned.
God loves playing hide-and-seek with his children. He deliberately hides spiritual truths and then begs us to seek them.
If you were treating the open wounds of accident victims you would realize that the most gentle, well-meaning touch could send patients reeling. You would not be offended if someone you were seeking to help lashed out in pain with almost involuntary action. You would half expect it. But imagine the confusion if the wounds were invisible and the person looked uninjured. Consider the further complication if in that personís experience everyone who had tried to help (and how does he know you will be any different?) had in their ignorance done little but inflict pain.
We will never find the peace of God with a mere piece of God. For the peace of God we need all of God. For Godís peace to rule in your heart, God himself must rule in your heart. Peace is not found in a box of spiritual trinkets we can rummage through and select whatever titillates us. It comes inseparably melded to everything else that together forms Godís heart, such as selfless love, integrity and so very much more. Having peace and joy necessitates not merely acting as if we have the heart of God but, through the miracle of spiritual new birth and daily dying to self, actually having his very heart throbbing within us; driving our thoughts and deeds every moment of every day.
The Bible is the biggest eye-opener. It shocks us by revealing that reality is spectacularly different to our superficial impressions. It declares that trials, though by their very nature highly unpleasant, are reasons for rejoicing, not sorrow. I used to think the Bible was saying, ĎRejoice, even though trials are tragedies.í Finally, I began taking more notice of the context and discovered that it is actually saying something stunningly different. It is not saying, ĎRejoice, despite the trials,í but ĎRejoice, because of the trials.í It is saying, ĎTrials are a spiritual windfall. Throw a party when hard times come because they are like being given an exciting promotion at work, only exceedingly better.í They increase your spiritual status, your contribution to the Kingdom, and your spiritual pay packet. By developing your character, tough times increase both your eternal reward and your ability to achieve things of lasting significance.
At first thought, Godís will seems so oppressively restrictive that itís frightening. And weíre scared weíll be told to go somewhere awful and do something embarrassing. In reality, no one understands you like your Maker. No one knows your future like your God. No one has your best interest at heart like the One who shed his blood for you. No one can bring you happiness like the Inventor of sex and sunsets, sight and sound, touch and taste, life and beauty. He alone offers heaven.
As we draw closer and closer to God we will discover that real living is not about feeling good; itís about being good. Like champions, our yearning will not for ease or comfort but for victory. Our own happiness will no longer interest us, just as Christ did not come to earth to be happy but to express his love for us and for the Father by being tortured to death. And our high calling is to follow him. We will be so deliriously in love that all we will care about is bringing joy to God, since real love seeks not its own happiness but the happiness of others.
Blinding light flashes from the Throne. Creation quakes. On Heavenís Throne is a shining figure robed in purity. Powerful. Majestic. Holy. Who is this mighty victor, the one deemed worthy to rule forever, the joy of the Fatherís heart? You. Yes, you, the butt of jokes, the focus of Satanís slur campaign.
To be in this world is to be exposed to godless acts and to the inevitable suffering that results. But to be removed from this world is to be torn from the very place that most needs us; the place where we can achieve the greatest good and win for ourselves eternal glory.
In the next life, when we at last see things clearly, weíll probably look back through the years and praise God far more for unanswered prayer than for almost all the answers to prayer we received.
ĎThen will I teach transgressors your ways,í crooned David. When? After a calamitous moral fall.
Suppose you are in a leaking boat. You are lounging on deck as the water seeps in a few bucketfuls an hour. No problem. Any fool can bail that out. Hour after hour you continue to snooze until you suddenly find yourself plunging towards the ocean floor. You then bail furiously but itís too late. The disaster was not the product of some momentary weakness or inexplicable lapse the last five seconds. It was all so avoidable, if only the danger had been taken seriously.
We are a fallen race. Spiritually, we each entered this world with hideous birth defects. Trying to overcome our spiritual defects is like someone born with severe physical deformities heroically battling to overcome all the handicaps. Although on one level the attempt might look pathetic, people have won for themselves worldly fame and honor by battling physical handicaps to live close to normal lives. Likewise, we each have the potential to win eternal honor and acclaim by battling our spiritual handicaps.
Immersed in gloom.
Confounded by a curse,
Scorned and spurned.
Haunted by despair,
Mocked by words of doom.
My eyes may fill with tears,
But not with dread or fear.
This grub, wings will sprout.
Founded on his Word;
Basking In Infinite Love
Swap Indignity For Indignation
Consider the vines of the vineyard,
How they grow;
They neither toil nor strive,
Yet, I tell you,
Even man with all his technology
Cannot produce fruit like one of these.
If God so fruits the vine,
Which today is alive
And tomorrow is cast into the fire,
Will he not more surely
Produce fruit in your life,
O you of little faith?
So do not fret, saying:
ĎHow shall I achieve something worthwhile?í
Or, ĎHow shall I leave my mark on this world?í
For after such fulfillment the heathen crave,
And your heavenly Father knows your need of it.
Who among you,
Taken from Waiting for Your Ministry, Chapter 3
Did you know ???
* Most actors wanting the role of Long John Silver are hopelessly inadequate. They have too many legs.
Without God, nothing is significant. With Him, nothing is insignificant.
Kill time, and eternity bleeds.
Your name is on Godís calendar.
Lifeís too short to skimp on prayer.
Success is failure that tried one more time.
Faith in God is not escapism, itís the power to face problems head-on.
You start from the top to dig a grave. You donít commence a life-giving ministry that way.
Every problem will break under the weight of stubborn, faith-filled prayer.
If opposition brings you to your knees, remember what Christians do best in that position and victory wonít be far away.
Weíre grounded on the Word, or grounded.
Can you be ripe for ministry if youíre green with envy? Can you make a sweet offering to God with bitterness in your heart? Can you enter holy service with unclean habits?
Committed to God, a string of failures are but a rainbow, at the end of which lies golden success.
Too often we speak piously of Ďclosed doorsí as if Christ had never uttered those powerful words, ĎKnock and it shall be opened.í
As an eagle is created to soar, and a yacht to sail, you were made for God.
Heaven is a bit old-fashioned. The Ďbuy now, pray laterí philosophy has never caught on up there.
The Bible is full of contradictions. Hereís one: God knows everything and He loves you.
As a piano and a pianist together make beautiful music, you and your Lord can unite to create things of exquisite beauty. What you can do together defies imagination. You make an awesome team.
Defeatists say, ďYesterday.Ē Winners say, ďYesĒ today.
Winds that kill candles make coals glow brighter. Weíre a new creation, nothing like the wimps we used to be. Opposition will merely toughen us.
If oppression brings you to your knees, remember what Christians do best in that position, and victory wonít be far away.
Ministry is the height of intimacy. It is God and you in exquisite harmony bringing heaven to earth. It is your spirit mingled with Godís Spirit flowing out to a needy world. After refreshing the land, bringing life to desert sands, it ascends in clouds of adoration to heavenís throne.
All service should be an act of worship; the overflowing of a heart brimming with love; a cascade of joyous thanksgiving to your wonderful Savior.
Even when the cause seems beyond human influence, all heartache can be traced not to Godís will, but to rebellion against Godís will.
It is usually the lowly tasks, not the great ones, that best reveal the heart. Like a stone in a slingshot, the lower you sink, the higher you will soar.
God made you a star, not the movie; an essential instrument, not the orchestra. We need each other.
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