Tag Archives: authority

When We Cannot Do What God Asks

13 Dec

Does God ever ask you to do something you cannot do?

I’m still reading Luke alongside Mom’s Toolbox and it’s been fabulous.

Over the weekend, I read Luke 6. I was reminded of a recent Sunday School lesson and something one of my friends pointed out in this chapter.

Jesus told the man with the shriveled hand–“Stretch out your hand.”  See Luke 6:10

The man shouldn’t have been able to do what Jesus asked. Yet, he did it.

How? Jesus provided the power.

Diseases were being cured and evil spirits cast out, “and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.”  Luke 6:19

In verses 27 – 36, Jesus gives all of us instructions which on our own, we cannot do. Truth is, we often do not want to.

  • Love your enemies
  • Do good to those who curse you
  • Pray for those who mistreat you
  • Turn the other cheek
  • Give more than what someone takes from you
  • Give without expecting repayment

Without Jesus providing the power and strength, how can we do these things God asks of us? We cannot.

Lord, please give me a heart that longs to do what you ask. Remind me to pray and ask for the desire and obedience you provide to do what you ask. Thrill me with your pleasure and joy as you grow me in my walk with you.

Candy, Cash or Christ – How can we build spiritual appetites?

29 Nov

If you stood in a room full of kids and announced you had a prize for anyone who could hop on one foot for 30 seconds, what do you picture happening next?

Probably a room with shaking walls from all the bouncing, and children falling over one another.

Undoubtedly, some kid would scream out, “Is it candy?”

Thank goodness we outgrow this behavior. Well, at least some of you probably have.

Now picture standing in an auditorium of adults and calling out, “Loads of cash and buffet tables, just down the hall. First come, first serve. No limits.”

Perhaps everyone would look around like, “Yeah, right. Too good to be true….What’s the catch?”

Cynicysm, or let’s call it realism, does seem to come with age.

But if a few bold folks decided to go check it out, a stampede would ensue. What if it is true? What if they get it all?

Psalm 19:9-11 (NIV)

9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
   enduring forever.
The decrees of the LORD are firm,
   and all of them are righteous.

 10 They are more precious than gold,
   than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
   than honey from the honeycomb.

11 By them your servant is warned;
   in keeping them there is great reward.

Respect of God.  Knowledge of His word. These are more desireable than gold.

His decrees bring more sweetness to life than honey.

Not that God’s Word should be more desireable, but that it is; whether we realize it or not. 

Verse 11 says His word illuminates His servant, and brings a great reward.

As adults, we try to curb our natural desire for foods that are unhealthy.

But, money? Another story. It’s a necessity after all.

Yet the temptation to crave more than we need has us acting much like children with a sack full of halloween candy. I’m as guilty as anyone.

How can we invite more of God’s illuminating word into our lives?  Are we as willing to do it as a kid hopping on one foot for candy?

How can we foster our children viewing God’s Word as desireable?

For me, praying for desire for God’s Word has transformed my life. And having my kids walk in on me in the midst of Bible reading or prayer has taught them more than any direct instruction I’ve ever given.

Leave a comment. What are you doing to grow your own appetite, or encourage that of your children?

How many wars get ignored?

11 Nov

How many of us are affected daily by the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Does it change our routine? Our spending habits? Are the number of settings at the dinner table different? Does the war show up in our prayers?

With so many years of war-time and so many families with a loved one serving, the number of people saying “yes” to those questions is increasing. But the majority of us do not have such a personal connection. We’re not constantly attuned to what service men and women are doing every second of every day on behalf of their nation’s citizens. Nor do we experience the turmoil of the family members serving at home without their spouse, son or daughter, mom or dad.  And we don’t see the family members whose roles are transformed into caretakers of the ones who come home wounded and changed. We aren’t confronted daily with the ongoing grief of those who mourn the lost.

One day a year is not enough to acknowledge the service, the sacrifice, the realities of war.

Yet, we are all in a war of our own every day and few acknowledge its existence.

The Word of God tells us clearly that spiritual war surrounds us. The battle for your eternity and how you impact it is constant.

Rev 12:7 – 9 tells us there are evil spirits in the world.

“And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”

The eye-witness accounts of the four gospels tell of numerous encounters between Jesus and evil spirits. Demons were repeatedly confronted and defeated by Jesus as He walked this earth. These demons are Satan’s angels and their mission is to take over humans  — to steal, kill and destroy anyone they can.

Yet, these evil spirits cannot stand against Jesus. Any person who confesses with their mouth and believes in their heart that Jesus is Lord, the Holy Spirit seals, protecting the final victory forevermore.

But what about the meantime?

We are in battle. Let’s not just wait for the final victory and show up trampled and wounded. Let’s acknowledge the war and change our daily approach to life.

How? Here are two scripture passages to show us.

1 John 4:1-6

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

 4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit[a] of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

And we are equipped by our Lord with all that is needed to conquer. Take hold of it daily.

Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Be aware. Be ready for daily battle. Be prayerful for all the saints in the spiritual war.

The national battles and the spiritual battles are both real, even though we do not see them right before us. They are real whether we acknowledge them or not.

Words vs. Logic

4 Oct
“Those are just words. Words, words, words.” Ever heard someone say that? Maybe you’ve said it.
When we’re in a situation that’s painful or confusing, sometimes talk or consoling are the last things we want. They can be down right irritating. What we want is to sort out and weigh our options, find a logical solution or choice. But, there are words that trump human logic every time.

“…Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”  (Matthew 4:4 NIV).

Jesus quoted this scripture (originally from Deuteronomy) during his temptation by the devil in the desert. It’s a familiar verse to me and I’m sure to many.
I’d always thought of “the word of God” as the scripture – and absolutely believe this is correct application (see 2 Tim. 3:16).
However, the spoken word of God is itself power. He spoke all creation into existence, the heavens and the earth. Gathering the water, creating vegetation, inventing and giving life to every creature. All of this was done at the command of God’s voice. God’s declaration, God’s words.
The scripture is God’s word. We are to live by it. Likewise, God has control and ability to speak over any situation. Regardless of the circumstance, if God speaks life–there is life!
Christ knew this power intimately even while in an earthly body, and Christ overcame the temptation to doubt it or circumvent it during his forty days in the desert.
Now Christ’s words in Matthew 4:4 also encourage me the same way 2 Cor. 5:7 does, “We walk by faith, not by sight.”
As I find myself wanting things to “make sense” in my way of thinking, I must stop and focus on the power and complete control my God has over absolutely anything. Lord, hold my hand to walk by faith, not by sight. Not by logic, nor by feelings, but by faith in your power and your love.

Meek – Third Beatitude

23 Aug

Continuing our study of the Beatitudes, we come to the third one today.

Matthew 5:5  Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. (KJV)

Meek means gentle, mild. Webster’s gives one word: submissive.Jesus is our best example of being meek. He described himself this way.

Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (KJV)

 Jesus treated man with gentleness and mildness. Remember when the adulterous woman was about to be stoned, and Jesus did not condemn her? Even when Jesus was arrested and his disciples drew swords to defend him, cutting off the ear of a Roman soldier, Jesus says “No, I’m not leading a revolt.” (my paraphrase).

Being gentle and mild with people around us shows a submission to God and his dealing with us.

Jesus taught the people with great authority. Jesus stood up to repeated attacks by the Pharisees and though gentle, he was direct and bold in his answers. He even told them He was the Lord of the Sabbath when they “caught” him “working” on this day. (See Matthew 12: 1 – 8).

So, meek does not mean weak. Meek means confident in God, to the point of being submissive to His plans and dealing with you. Be bold for him with gentleness toward others, confident in heart of who you belong to.

Mourning – Beatitude Study

17 Aug

As I write this post, we’re only five days from a new school year beginning. For my youngest child, that creates some mourning of summer. His flexible schedule, inviting neighbor friends to play, swimming, playing legos, sneaking into the pantry for a snack…ah, how he will miss you summer!

This week, I’ve read posts on Facebook and blogs of mothers sending their first child off to college, and others sending their last. Lots of red eyes and wet cheeks can be found on those campuses. And I bet they’ll continue behind the walls of homes for weeks ahead.

Still others are mourning a more lasting loss, that of a friend, a parent, a spouse, even a child. I read another update about a wife who held her husband in her arms practically two days straight after leaving the hospital for home.  She cradled him as he left this earth.

Mourning meets every one of our lives. Mostly, it is out of our control to hide from it. However, there is a type of mourning that we can actually choose.  Let’s consider the next verse in the beatitudes since our last post.

Matthew 5:4  Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.

In this verse, the original Greek word for ‘mourn’ is ‘pentheo’.  It refers  to a general mourning, or lament. Other Greek words specifically tie mourning to death and suffering. According to my Bible dictionary, ‘pentheo’ can encompass death, sorrow for sin, grief over condoned sin, grief for a church, sorrow over Babylonian system- it is an encompassing use of the word mourn. 

So, if we read this verse from Matthew and extend our thoughts of mourning beyond death of a loved one to include the examples above, we might see a heart condition behind the word ‘mourn’.  If  we mourn over sin in our own lives, if we mourn for the lack of God in our own actions, in an alive joy for His word in our churches, in the disregard for our God’s ways in our world – that is a heart condition. A heart condition that exalts God and His Ways to the point of grieving (as opposed to shaking our heads and rolling or eyes).

But what about the mourning we choose?

There is a personal mourning we can willingly take on when we give up something we dearly want, solely because we know God is telling us to. I’ve done that on some occassions and He has truly comforted me and made me happier on the other side of it. By choosing to be obedient in giving up something I desired to chase (mourning it), I experienced pain and heartache, and some consequences. But in that place (weak, yet obedient) I clung to my God and He comforted me, and gave me a bright joy after the hurt.

It reminds me of a song lyric that uses ‘morning’ (get it, a homophone to ‘mourning’ – okay so maybe it’s a

word-nerd thing).

Though the sorrow may last for the night
His joy comes with the morning

A great song by Darrell Evans. Here’s a video of the song with all the lyrics. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KsfwvpcQhY

Are You Blessed?

2 Aug

“Blessed.” What does this word bring to mind?

Most people feel it infers something received from God.

When a family moves to a new house, sometimes they’ll say,           “We’re very blessed.” Or, if everyone’s healthy, we’ll say, “We’re so blessed.”  That’s how I usually hear this word, in reference to  something that’s profitable, either materially or emotionally.

I don’t think this is incorrect. It’s right to thank God and acknolwedge him as the giver of wonderful things in our lives.

We read this in Genesis 12: 1 – 3. God tells Abraham he will bless him, and that he will bless all the people on the earth through him.

The Greek translation of the word “bless” in this passage is “barak,” a verb that literally means “to bless.”  One definition in Webster’s dictionary defines this as “to favor divinely.”

However, if that’s where we stop with the word “blessed,” we are missing another meaning. Blessed can infer something that God gives which is not of the tangible variety.

The Greek translation of “blessed” in many verses is “makarios.”  This means “happy.”

Happiness is an internal gift from the Lord, which should not be dependent upon circumstances. In fact, one of the most studied pieces of scripture in the entire Bible uses this form of “blessed” nine times. And the circumstances the word “blessed” is coupled with in these verses don’t necessarily make us think “happy!” At least not in our way of understanding.

I’m referring to The Beatitudes, also known as The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5: 3 – 12.  I’ll be studying and blogging on these verses in coming posts. I hope you’ll begin studying them and praying over them with me. Let’s see what God will reveal to us.

In the meantime, thank God for all of the ways he has blessed you in the “barak” meaning. Be specific with your praises and thanksgiving!

 

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