Posts Tagged ‘Isaiah 55:8-9’

Obstacles and Opportunities, Part 1

January 29th, 2016

“This is the day of the Lord’s victory. Let us celebrate.” Psalm 118:24 TEV.

The impossible is what God does best.

My comments today are about “obstacles and opportunities.”

I have observed that life presents both obstacles and opportunities. It is unrealistic to presume you will have either without the other. Every opportunity presents an obstacle; every obstacle presents an opportunity. The bigger the opportunity, the greater the obstacles. The greater the obstacle, the bigger the opportunities will be.

You learn a lot about your own character when you experience obstacles. And in every obstacle, God offers an opportunity to learn about His character as well. “This is the day of the Lord’s victory. Let us be happy. Let us celebrate.” Psalm 118:24 TEV. Any day is a good day when you are offered the opportunity to walk and live in His victory.

Take a few minutes to read Joshua 1:1-10 and Joshua 3:1-17 NIV. Joshua and Israel faced serious obstacles; an uncrossable Jordan and an invulnerable Jericho were both impediments to entering Canaan, the land of God’s promise and plenty. Why would the armies in Jericho neither offer opposition to Israel crossing Jordan nor demonstrate any active resistance as they marched around Jericho seven days? I suggest, with such flooded dimensions and depth of the Jordan, they must have assumed it unimaginably impossible for two million people to navigate such a crossing, just as they believed the capture of their city to be impossible. The impossible is what God does best.

Under the cover of darkness, Joshua sent two men went into Jericho to assess the situation ahead. What they heard was that Jericho was more afraid of them than they were of Jericho. Fear creates battles that God has already fought and won. A Canaanite woman in Jericho said, “I know the Lord has given you the land . . all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea when you came out of Egypt . . our hearts melted . . no courage remained in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God is God in Heaven and in earth.” Read Joshua 2:9-11 NIV. Imagine! Canaan’s current and continuing fear began more than forty years earlier, when God drowned the Egyptian army and divided the Red Sea for Moses to lead newly liberated people across on dry land.

Upon return to Joshua, their report was with assurance and certainty, “The Lord has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.” Joshua 2:24 NIV. But first they still had to cross the treacherous currents of a flooding Jordan. God always makes a way where there seems to be no way. With divine authority, Jesus said, “The things that are impossible with men are possible with God.” Luke 18:27 NKJV. But be prepared, God’s way will be what you least expect and never imagined. God said, “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘As the Heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV.

Maybe you face an obstacle, feeling uncertain of the path forward. Sometimes the past feels difficult to overcome; sometimes the future seems unsure and concerning. “This is the day of the Lord’s victory. Let us be happy. Let us celebrate.” Psalm 118:24 TEV. Let me remind you that the God Who makes a way where there seems to be no way knows where you are and what you need, and He is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20 NIV. Today can be your day of victory. Celebrate!

Today, I pray for you that you will believe God for the impossible.

To be continued . .

I spoke last weekend at the Cathedral of Faith in San Jose, CA. They have posted the video of the teaching, “Seize the Day.” My comments today originate from that teaching. I hope you will take the time to listen . . .

ARR and Screen COF 1-24-16

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God Makes Life Make Sense

September 11th, 2013

“Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Genesis 18:25 NIV.

The hurt you feel is not apart from the hope you have and healing you need.

My thoughts and comments today are that “God makes life make sense”

Life isn’t fair; serious disappointment waits for those who expect it to be. Today, September 11, is a stained date on America’s calendar when our stunned nation puzzled how crazed jihadists would rob hearts and homes of more than three thousand lives, guilty of nothing more than going to work that morning. Everything in our national grief cried, “Unfair!”

Unfair; everyone feels that way sometimes. Jesus told a parable about workers in a vineyard who agreed to a proper day’s wage for a full day’s work. Read Matthew 20:1-16 NLT. As the day progressed, other workers were needed and hired. But at the end of the day, the owner of the vineyard said, “I wanted to pay this last man the same as you . . should you be angry because I am kind?” Matthew 20:14 NKJV. “Unfair,” seemed a legitimate complaint! Read Vs. 8-12. See Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT. With which worker did you first identify – the ones who got what they agreed to receive or the ones who received a grace they could not earn? We have more likely and more frequently been the latter. See 2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV.

Probably one of the important questions of everyday life is: do you trust God to be fair? When he interceded for God to spare Sodom, Abraham affirmed his trust by a rhetorical question whose answer assumed to be obvious, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Genesis 18:25 NIV. Of course, God will! He is righteous and cannot do less. And He will always do right by you.

“Unfair!” That’s a familiar exclamation or emotion anyone might say or feel.From a child’s earliest years there seems to be an innate sense of fairness, not so much in evidence when you are the one getting the best deal but certainly when someone else is and you are not. People never seem to outgrow the need to be first, have the most, the best, or the biggest; do we? When you don’t and someone else does – that you think deserves it less than you – your feelings scream, “Unfair!”

In their pain and tears, I have heard many good people say, “Life isn’t fair.” And they had every right to feel that way. The hurt you feel is not apart from the hope you have and the healing you need. A good person struggles with hardships, while a lesser person lives carefree. A hard working person seems not to get a break; another stumbles into unbelievably good fortuneLife isn’t fair. But God is just – every time, all the time. See 2 Timothy 4:7-8 NIV.

The Psalmist anguished over the incongruity that the wicked prospered yet the righteous suffered. The inequities bewildered him; “But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold . . when I saw the prosperity of the wicked . . Till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.” Read Psalm 73:1-28 NIV. There is a sanctuary for you where God makes life make sense. One day, the scales of justice are balanced, the wrongs made right, the innocent vindicated, the guilty punished.

My prayer for you today is that you trust in the goodness of a righteous God.

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Ruling Your Thoughts

June 20th, 2012

“If anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 NIV

God is with those in whose minds are thoughts pleasing to Him.

My thoughts and comments today are about “ruling your thoughts.”

Whatever dominates your thoughts eventually directs your life. You either rule your thoughts, or they will rule you. Your inner life consists of your mind, will, and emotions. And the mind often has a predominate role in directing your feelings and choices. Your thoughts act like a personal rudder that steers your decisions and directions you take. Though referring to the tongue, the Bible describes a ship’s rudder in ways that could also be applied to the disproportionate influence of one’s thoughts, “Ships . . although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.” James 3:4 NIV. A thought seems so small but it is far from powerless.

Direct your thoughts where they ought to go rather than allow their taking you wherever they seem to go. Make thoughts your servant rather than master. Some people’s thoughts are like a whimsical preschooler, extremely active but not particularly productive, unless properly, sometimes forcefully directed. In Peter’s first epistle, he links your mind and thoughts with your proper conduct. Read 1 Peter 1:13-15 NKJV.

Thoughts will dictate how you feel about your life, sometimes unnoticeably at the moment – coloring the memories of your past, interpreting and often misinterpreting present events, and projecting future expectations. That makes them important for you to manage. You need to guide your thoughts for them to be productive and carefully guard them to be profitable. Much hurt can result to you or others if your thoughts are not daily purified by the “cleansing with the washing of water by the Word” (Ephesians 5:26 NKJV), and daily “transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2 NIV.

The Apostle Paul often referred to your mind as holding the key to one’s happiness, “. . guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Whatever is true . . noble . . right . . pure . . lovely . . admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things . . and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:6-9 NIV. The God of peace is with those in whose minds are thoughts pleasing to Him. “The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” Read Romans 8:5-6 NIV/See Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT.

Do you wonder how to accomplish that? I can assure you that such rightly directed thoughts do not come naturally. You have to do a lot of sorting and selecting. First, recognize the mind of Christ resides within you. “No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God . . but we have the mind of Christ.” Read 1 Corinthians 2:11-16 NIV/Philippians 2:5-9 NKJV. With the mind of Christ within you, you can choose truth over error, contrast right from wrong, crave purity over impurity, choose excellence instead of mediocrity, and recognize what is praiseworthy.

Ruling your thoughts includes you but begins with God. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me . . For the word of God is living and active . . it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Psalm 139: 23-24 NIV/Hebrews 4:12 NIV. When God has done His part, you must then do yours. “Pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments . . bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 KJV.

My prayer for you today is that your thoughts are of things excellent and praiseworthy.

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Trust the Process

September 9th, 2011

“First a leaf . . then the heads of wheat . . finally the grain ripens.” Mark 4:28 NLT

“Harvest comes in God’s time – after you work diligently, obey fully, and trust God’s process.”

My thoughts today are to “trust the process.”

Who likes to wait for what they want? But aren’t we usually better when we do? Waiting seems to encourage appreciation for what you gain, while promoting wiser use and better care of what you have. There is a better sense of the necessity of effort, importance of time, and reality of cost. The quicker and easier you receive something, the less intrinsic value you attribute to it.

To most of us, now is more satisfying than later. That’s why charge accounts, and then credit cards, replaced “layaway accounts” for merchants and customers. Just today, the Associated Press reported “Walmart stores are bringing back what customers have been asking for: layaway.” You may not remember or know what such a thing as a “layaway account” was. If you could not pay cash, the store would “lay the item away” while you made small payments as you were able , interest-free, and pick up your merchandise when it’s paid in full. Only when you had fully paid for the item, you took it home. That process of affordable sacrifice created anticipation and appreciation. With credit cards, a store completes a sale more quickly and the customer goes home with purchase in hand, ready for immediate enjoyment without the pain of payment. Instant gratification, you want now; cost, you happily defer till later. Too much too quickly is at too great a cost.

Most of us are not content with process. We want what we want when we want it, and we want too much now, regardless of the real cost known or unknown to us. People buy houses they cannot afford, cars too expensive, and expenditures too extravagant while living on borrowed time and burdensome debt. Our nation, like too many other countries, is being slowly destroyed by a system of debt we cannot afford. Debt destroys our marriages homes, and lives. Our nation’s debt is a reflection of its citizens’ financial addictions, as much as its politicians’ misbehavior.

At Creation, God decreed, “Let there be . . and there was! . . then God saw everything He had made, and indeed ti was very good.” See Genesis 1. Flowers were created in full bloom; fruit was abundant on mature trees; nature’s wildlife was full grown. Since Creation, God works by process, purposeful and measured. Process always has beneficial and relational elements. Solomon observed, “God has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 NKJV. Paul echoed God’s principle of process this way, “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NIV. See also 1 John 3:1-2. You have to learn to trust His process. “As the Heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways . . As for God, His way is perfect.” Read Isaiah 55:8-9/Psalm 18:30 NKJV.

Jesus described the perfect ways of the Kingdom of God by nature’s process. “A farmer planted seeds in a field . . as the days went by, the seeds sprouted and grew . . because the earth produces crops. First a leaf pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. When the grain is ready, the farmer harvests it.” Mark 4:26-29 NLT. Note Jesus description of Kingdom process: desire followed by effort, effort resting in anticipation, anticipation producing trust, trust seeing development, development increasing evidence, evidence of growth, growth bringing harvest! Where do you see yourself in God’s process today? Harvest will come in God’s time – after you work diligently, obey fully, and trust the process. Impatience and unbelief interrupts God’s process with delays.

My prayer for you today is that you live in step with God’s purposes and processes.

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