Here I am

Posted: August 1, 2015 in Thoughts on God

Then the LORD called Samuel, and he said, “Here I am!” (1 Samuel 3:4 ESV)

Sometimes we forget just how big God is. In fact, we even forget the truth that God is unfathomably big. We are short sighted and self-absorbed so often that we neglect a relationship with a God so amazing. Have you ever felt the Holy Spirit tugging at your heart? Have you ever felt the nudging and leading of his hand? That voice that whispers,“Come be with me. Open my word, internalize its truth, I will transform you.” And then rolled over and went back to sleep? Or decided to keep watching your favorite TV show instead? If so, then think on this simple analogy:

The President of the United States of America has just sent for you (imagine its the President you have most admired), there is a shiny black SUV, men wearing sun glasses, black ties, and ear pieces who have arrived to take you to him. Question: Do you go? Do you answer the call?

Most of us, if not all, would answer yes to this question. We would quickly respond to the call of someone so powerful and important. I’m sure by now you understand where this is headed, but there is none more important, more powerful, or more worthy of our time than God! Yet so many times we turn to things so unimportant by comparison, and ignore the very God who made and saved us. When God calls us, we should be as Samuel was, responding immediately, “Here I am!”

Think about a time in your life when you immediately responded to the leading or voice of the Lord? Did you regret responding? Nope, and you never will.

If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. (Proverbs 24:10)

Adversity is a mirror. It’s a microscope. It’s the scalpel that opens us up and shows us what’s inside. Adversity, pain, and trials are what shake us.

When things are comfortable, we’re like a tranquil pond. Lilly pads quietly float atop the crystalline water below. Things are good. But then, the rocks of trial come hurdling down. Our water gets stirred up and the silt explodes into an inky cloud. Our once-pure pond is ruined! All of the gunk that’s lain silent is riled up and exposed. Suddenly, we discover facets, depths, and wrinkles in our hearts we’d never known were there. Maybe anger or resentment. Maybe greed or lust. Or any other number of things that come crawling out when the pressure’s on.

In trial, we find out who we really are, what’s really inside of us (Proverbs 17:3). In times like those, we have two choices: faint or faith.

We faint when we’re overwhelmed, when we’ve built the structure of our lives upon the sand. Finances can be shaken and shattered. Health can be gone before we finish crossing the street. Relationships can vanish with the wind—sweet for a moment, bitter the next. The problem is that the junk at the bottom of our pond is often the foundation we’ve built our security upon. But it shifts and shivers and shakes when adversity comes.

We faint when we’ve nothing left to stand on. We faint when our faith has been entrusted in ourselves, our bank accounts, our relationships, our still beating heart—really, our anything… But we learn from Jesus that the wise man built his house upon the rock (Matthew 7:24-27), and when the storm came, it stood. He weathered the hurricane because he’d entrusted the very foundation of his life, his family, and his hope to the great rock. Jesus is that rock. Our identity, value, and worth are both found and secured in him.

Adversity is painful. It is daunting. It is uncomfortable. But we shouldn’t spend our lives running from it.
If we want to grow, this is the path to sunlight. If we want a pure faith, this is the filter. If we want to be deepened, welcome to the dredge. Remember that adversity is the Great Gardener’s pruning, and faith in his ability and intention to care for us is our only strength in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Remember, Jesus was made perfect through suffering (Hebrews 2:10). Why should we think it will be any different for us? Should we really want it to be? Press into faith and stand in your days of adversity.

God is our refuge

Posted: July 21, 2015 in Thoughts on God

On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. (Psalm 62:7-8)

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the limitations chronic illness places on my life, and I realize that everyone around me faces some type of difficulty. A close friend tries to accept the devastating news of her mother’s dementia. A coworker fights to save her marriage. My neighbors file bankruptcy and put their home up for sale.

Life can be frightening indeed, but scripture, particularly the Psalms, can minister to our souls whenever we’re troubled. If we become weary or discouraged, this verse reassures us that we can unload every care onto the Lord’s shoulders (Matthew 11:28-30; I Peter 5:7). God replace our worries with His peace (Philippians 4:6-7).

God can handle any of the struggles or doubts that I bring to Him. He never condemns me when my emotions are involved. He allows me to unburden my soul to Him. And then, He gently restores me, allowing the Word to minister to me and to comfort me.It is during uncertain times I have learned to rely on God’s power, because when I am at my lowest, He has never failed to be my refuge and my source of strength.

Loving those who hate

Posted: July 20, 2015 in Thoughts on God

“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19)

Last week in our small Bible study group one brother asked, “Why does this world hates us, Christians?” This is the very good question indeed. The truth is that we are not of this world. We are not following the system of this world, but instead completely walking by faith and trusting the Word of God.

God has very specifically commanded us in His Word, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I John 2:15). As a follower of Christ we need to live out this commandment. When we do this, we can actually expect hatred from the world. The reason is, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).

What should be our response when we see these things? Our Lord Jesus told us that we need to love our enemy, “But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). This is tough to follow, but there is no alternative left for us. We need to show love towards them those who hate us and do good to them. By doing this we are not losing anything, rather we have everything to gain.

It is indeed blessed to walk in the love of the Lord. It is the way of peace, and the Lord manifests Himself to the world through our love-life-style. “And walk in love as Christ also hath loved us………” Ephesians 5:2). “And this is the love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, that as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it” (2 John 1:6).

May our good Lord bless us as we walk in His love with others! Prema and I love you so dearly and pray for you.

And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given me to the governors of the province Beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress of the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall occupy.” And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me. (Nehemiah 2:7-8)

Nehemiah’s countrymen, the Jews, were living in destitution. The once powerful walls of Jerusalem were little more than scattered rubble, and her great gates that once protected the people and welcomed their friends were reduced to char and ash (Nehemiah 1:2-3). This broke him, and he began praying earnestly for God to work mightily on the Jew’s behalf (Nehemiah 1:4-6 & Nehemiah 1:11). However, he didn’t stop there; rather, he started planning for the day when God would answer his prayer. Many of us wait for God to work and answer prayer, like Nehemiah, but unlike him, we aren’t prepared for when he does. God uses that time of waiting to prepare us, which he did with Nehemiah.

Nehemiah served king Xerxes as a cupbearer, a trusted position. The king, sensing his brokenness, asked him, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick?” (Nehemiah 2:2). But Nehemiah didn’t retell the sad tale, but was prepared with a well planned solution. Are we preparing for the day when God moves? Have we been praying for revival as a church, but not preparing ourselves for when it occurs? Examine your life and assess where you need to be actively preparing for God’s move, instead of passively waiting for something to happen.

Start planning today for your answered prayers.

Are you on fire for God

Posted: July 17, 2015 in Thoughts on God

Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
(Psalm 51:12 ESV)

Have you ever met someone who had just become a Christian and was “on fire” for God? Did you say to yourself, “I wish I were still like that?” We don’t intend for it to happen, but after time, that passion or joy often ebbs and other things in life take priority and focus. Or maybe, you never even had that “fire”because you were saved at an early age and have been a Christian for nearly your entire life.

Whatever the reason is, you are not alone. In fact, the Psalmist even asked for that joy to be restored as it once had been. As we read this we must realize that salvation is from the Lord and not of our own doing. We often substitute the “your” in this verse with “my”. Read these verses today and focus on the work of Jesus in our salvation and allow Him to bring back the joy of the Gospel that may have taken a backseat in your life.

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23 ESV)

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 ESV)

“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Timothy 2:5 ESV)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 ESV)

Who killed JFK? What is the Illuminati? Was there equipment on the space shuttle that caused earthquakes? If God reveals the answer to any of these speculations, we should be thankful He has brought light to our mysteries. If not, we should leave well enough alone—especially if dwelling on those mysteries brings fear.
On one level, conspiracy theories are entertaining. Trying to connect the dots through disparate historical events brings a sense of order to chaos. Speculating about mysteries incites a titillating anxiety of the future that relieves boredom and distracts from more pressing dilemmas.

Speaking up and uncovering the truth is certainly biblical. The prophet Nathan uncovered David’s conspiracy to cover up his sin of murder (2 Samuel 12). Paul’s nephew uncovered a plot to assassinate Paul, and his knowledge foiled the attempt (Acts 23). Wickedness likes to hide.John 3:20says, “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” We should always seek the truth. “Love truth and peace” (Zechariah 8:19).

Two warnings concerning conspiracy theories: first, we should never get ahead of what God wishes to reveal to us.Godreveals the truth in mystery (Daniel 2:30;Genesis 40:8). He will tell us what we need to know in His time, and there are things we do not need to know (Mark 13:32;Revelation 10:4). We should not indulge in useless speculation that takes time and effort away from our work for Christ (1 Timothy 1:4).

Second, we should not fear. “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Many conspiracy theories feed fear and prey on ignorance and gullibility. God has called us to something better.

One problem with conspiracy theories is that they place too much emphasis on worldly matters. It’s good for political intrigue to come to light, but that is not a necessary condition for the Christian life (2 Timothy 3:12). It is right for corruption to be brought to justice (Isaiah 1:17), but it is still possible to live a godly life, even if justice never happens. In our search for truth,Romans 8:31should always be in mind: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?”

Exposing the truth is good. Obsessing over rumor and hearsay and half-proven theories is harmful.Ephesians 5:11-14is an excellent guideline. Verse 11 says to expose “the fruitless deeds of darkness.” But verse 12 says not to mention them. How do we expose them? Not by conjecture or worry or fear or never-ending deliberation, but by waiting on the words of verses 13 and 14: “Everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible.” Speak the truth and wait for God’s timing.

Endless speculation about conspiracy theories is, at best, a waste of time. At worst, the obsession induces paralyzing fear as our attention is drawn away from Christ. Avoid the mysteries God hasn’t chosen to reveal yet. Let Him work according to His timing. Rest in His plan, which can never be thwarted (Job 42:2).

Above all, do not fear. “The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed.” But “He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them” (Psalm 2:2,4).