2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Trials – The Unseen
If you have ever operated a car, you know that if you see a careless driver, you turn the other direction. You stop at stop signs and lights and you may even yield to oncoming cars. It is because we rely on our eyes and common sense to tell us to detour. When we trust God, we are not steering. He takes us to the unseen and the unbeaten paths so that we will trust Him. Not one of us is exempt from a trial. We are given trials according to His goodness and He gives us the strength to be steadfast. I know there have been many times I’ve wondered, ‘are you absolutely sure that I can handle this God? Cause I’m not sure’. I think I’ve dealt with the same trials that everyone else has, some less and some greater. But you know what? I have survived 100% of my trials and each time that I make it through another one, God is there saying, yes child, I knew you could handle it. The important thing is to not lose heart just like 2 Corinthians 4:16 tells us. Everyday our mortal bodies die a little but inward (our souls) are renewed each day.
These verses should give us hope. Every morning His mercies are new and each day we can be renewed if we allow God to penetrate our hearts and souls. Those trials work for us to give us eternal glory and faith in the unseen. God wants us to look past the trial and see Him. Look past the storm raging and cling to the anchor. Whisper His name into the storm, you will find peace there. Do not focus on the temporary but the eternal Godly things. I wish I could tell you that it is easy. I wish I could tell you that life is a cakewalk, but it isn’t. Not even close. Do not place your faith in man but only in Christ.
Put on Righteousness
Isaiah 59:17 tells us, “For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.” How is a helmet like salvation? How many stories do we hear that state, ‘if only he had on a helmet he would have not suffered a brain injury’? A helmet would have saved their life. Her parents said that she would have been killed without the helmet. Being without a helmet will cause you harm. Being without salvation will take you to hell. Salvation means to be delivered from something. If you are saved, you are delivered from hell. 1 Timothy 2:3-4 “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 62:7 “In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.” So, by seeking God through trust, faith and hope, we receive knowledge of truth, peace and strength. We have a place to turn in times of trouble and a place to hide when we need rest. I know that I rest in the palm of His almighty hand and nothing can take that away from me. No matter how terrible things can get, we can still rest there because He will protect us from all unrighteousness and His kingdom will prevail.
Roman Soldier and his righteousness….
What does this Roman soldier’s sword teach us about using the Bible to fight our battles? In Roman infantry, the soldier would typically go into battle with more than one type of weapon. Swords, daggers, darts and spears were all used. They were heavily armed because once you attacked during the battle, that was it; there was not a do-over or a time out to pick up your weapon. It was basically a one-shot deal. But interestingly enough, Paul lists the sword as the only weapon here in Ephesians. That is because there is only one weapon we need in our arsenal. There is only one way to the truth. There is only one way to knowledge. There is only one way to the light of the world. Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” His word illuminates our lives so that we can see where we are going. He only gives us just enough light so we can see where we are going one step at a time but He always supplies that light. We got bogged down in darkness that we fail to flip the switch and acknowledge that He lights our path. We fail to look to Him in all circumstances, good or bad, and give thanks in every season. Did you know that God is unchanging? Whether we are on the mountain or in the valley, God is the same and He loves it when we meet with Him each day. He loves to talk to us and He does so through His word. Hebrews 4:12 “For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
In this life, His Word is all we need. It is the most powerful form of defense that we have in this life. It is our source of life, strength, hope and power. Without it, we are nothing. Swords were also used for close combat not for fighting from a distance. This is because God wants us in the middle of the action fighting battles on His behalf. We cannot fight a good fight from the perimeter. That is the difference between a spectator and a participant. God wants us to participate and spread the Gospel. He desires for s to be the hands and feet of His word. He longs for us to be courageous and be the mouthpieces of truth. He gives us the strongest sword we can carry and the most powerful defense in the world and He will send the strongest army to back us up when we need help. Against His word there is no defense.
I Know the Plans
We all have plans. Plans that have been made and fell through. Some plans change midstream. Some plans never take off. Some plans end in disaster and some are fruitful. We constantly make plans, dream, rearrange our lives about everything and anything. Who will I marry, where will I go to school or where will I live? In making those plans, how often do we consult the One who really knows what is going on? Jeremiah 29:11-13 tells us everything that we need to know about our plans and plan making skills. ‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find when you search for Me with all your heart.’ Let’s dwell for a moment on the face that He thinks about us. Not only does He think but He plans. He plans peace, future and hope. He doesn’t want us living in turmoil or living in defeat but we do that often. I would also like to point out that it states that when we pray that He will listen to us. When we earnestly seek His face, He listens to us and, when we are still, the opportunity to hear from Him presents itself. Proverbs 16:9 also tells us, ‘a man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.’ Making plans without God’s direction is fruitless. He places desires in our hearts, if those plans are for us, He will fertilize the seed He planted and pave the way for a bountiful harvest. He knows our future and He will guide us if we completely surrender to Him and allow Him to be in charge. He wants to give us peace, a future and a hope but for us to receive all His blessings He has for us, we must search for Him with all our heart.
10 characteristics of God to encourage and strengthen you.
God can’t get tired.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary.
God can’t take on a job he can’t handle.
Ah, Lord God! Behold, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for you.
God can’t be unholy.
And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
God can’t be prejudiced.
In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears him and works righteousness is accepted by him.
God can’t break a promise.
My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of my lips.
God can’t remember sins he’s chosen to forget.
I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake; and I will not remember your sins.
God can’t make a loser.
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ.
—2 Corinthians 2:14
God can’t abandon you.
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, he is the one who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.
God can’t stop thinking about you.
How precious also are your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with you.
God can’t stop loving you.
Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.
Are you spiritually bankrupt? Have you gotten to the end of your rope only to find that the know is untied? Are you fighting an uphill battle with no end in sight? Here’s hope…. Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Our lives are like a car wreck. Sometimes we spin out of control. Our worlds are flipped upside down. We lose control of the wheel because we didn’t see another car coming. Sometimes the music is too loud that we cannot focus on the road. Stopping the spinning is what God does best. He can make sure the seat belt is tightened and readjust our focus. Sometimes we must have the wreck so that He can get our attention. We must rest in the promise that no matter what happens, God is still in control. He doesn’t want to be the co-pilot but rather the pilot. He doesn’t want us drifting around on the water but rather He wants us to anchor to Him. Once we stop and sit at His feet for a while, we can see the other car coming and we can focus on the path that we are on so that the distractions of life do not get in the way of our worship. Because of this, we can have hope in Him. We place our hope in many things. Our family (they will always disappoint us), our friends (some have their own agenda), our jobs (everyone is replaceable). What if we placed our hope in Someone who truly deserves it? Fire, earthquakes, famine, war…. after these take place, what is left? Put your faith and hope in God Almighty. Put your faith and hope in the One who truly deserves of our time and energy. He created us to worship Him. He created us to have hope in Him.
I Will Sing Praise
“I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. May my meditation be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the Lord.” The Psalms are full of versus proclaiming how we should praise, how often we should praise and how genuine we should praise.
1. How we should praise? Praise can be defined as gratefulness in words or song. You don’t have to be great singer to sing praise. God wants us to admonish Him with our voices. Just simply recognizing that a blessing situation or experience came from Him is praise. In all things praise Him for He gives us things to bless us and strengthen us.
2. How often should we praise? One word…. continuously. Everything we have everything we feel, everything…. comes from Him. He created us to be able to work to supply our basic needs like food, shelter and clothing. He created us to be strong in Him no matter our situation in life if we lean on Him. Every moment of everyday we should praise in some way shape or form.
3. How genuine should our praise be? Don’t straddle the fence. 1 Kings 18 talks about Elijah and Ahab. There was a famine in Samaria possibly caused by Ahab and his family’s practice of idolatry. Elijah stood on Mt. Carmel proclaiming God and His provision. IN the face of adversity, Elijah stood firm and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him”. V21 The people didn’t answer. It is so easy to straddle the fence. We are caught in a world where we flip from one side to another. The pressures of life can easily find us on the “greener” AKA easier side. So, what does this fence story have to do with genuine praise? Everything! Elijah, in the middle of a struggle, in the middle of pain, in the middle of heartbreak; or on the fence, so to speak, spoke out for God! His praise was proclaiming the source of his strength. Ours may be the same. Ours could be teaching, singing, writing, raising your hands, building, giving…. if you believe with all your heart that you are living on the right side of the fence all the time and every time. With God, there is no in-between. Honestly, praise doesn’t come natural. Praise and thanksgiving should bookend our days. First thing in the morning and last thing in the evening. We should thank Him and praise Him for everything. Our praise is music to His ears and He rejoices when we rejoice. Others need to see His love through us. Drink in His spirit from the well of Living Water and find rest and freedom in His peace.
Take Heart Dear Daughter
One of my favorite stories is found in Matthew 9:20-22. We find a woman who suffered for 12 years. For 12 years she bore a burden that she thought she would have to endure for the rest of her days. She was so ashamed of her condition that she approached Jesus from behind crawling on the ground. Ridicule and insecurity became a way of life for her. The look upon her face was heart-wrenching. No friend would associate with her. Her family disowned her. She hears about this stranger with healing powers and thinks to her, “what more do I have to lose?’ She thought, “if I don’t take the risk, I will forfeit the miracle.” She believed. She had hope. With all her strength she had left in her, she reached for His hem. She was healed instantly when she reached for His cloak but because God is God, He gave her so much more that day. He questioned, “who touched me?” Even though He knew who did, He still questioned. He desires for us to reach to Him in faith and when we do, He wants us to be bold enough to proclaim His power and use it for His glory. Her faith made her complete. Imagine running a 5K. You are exhausted but suddenly you see this finish line. Your pace picks up and you focus on the finish line and run with determination. That is exactly what she did. She focused on God, pushed forward with faith and crossed the line. She had exhausted all her resources and rested in the fact that Jesus was her only hope. I love that Christ called her daughter. It confirmed that He desires to be our Father and we can go to Him for every need that He will supply according to His will. Can you imagine something so powerful that it could completely change your life? Her life changed, her gait changed, her body changed, her face changed and her heart changed. We carry burdens too. Sometimes for 12 years or longer. How does carrying that burden affect your life? When we keep carrying that burden, we limit God. He desires to take it away but we won’t let it go. She showed up expecting miracles and walked away the daughter of a King. She came to Him broken, empty, physically ill, shattered, unloved, discontented and frustrated. She left complete, full (not to the rim but overflowing), well, loved, satisfied and whole. That’s what our faith does. Faith takes us to the Rock and heals everything. Mere words are just words when it comes to this healing power. This power is at our fingertips if we would just have the courage to touch the hem of His garment. Have the courage to make the change. Reach out to Him in faith.
The word immediately can be defined as instantly or without delay. How often do we do things immediately? Or how often do we do things without really thinking about it? This same urgency describes each of the 12 disciples reaction to Jesus’ call. They all immediately left their nets, fields and offices to follow Him. Matthew 4:18-22 18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them,“Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. Immediate obedience. In fact, when Jesus performed miracles and healings, the people were immediately healed. Mark 1:42, 42 As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed. Luke 8:44 came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped. What would happen if we had the same faith? We feel the Spirit beckoning us to talk to someone about Christ, we turn the other way. We are put in a position to give someone hope, and we keep our mouths shut. Every day we are given opportunities to be immediately obedient to God. What will you do today to be immediately obedient? I encourage you to begin preparing yourselves to attend God’s house tomorrow. Pray for the services, teachers, pastor, children and worship. Be bold and ask God for a blessing. He always provides…