I remember the first time I decided to jump off a diving board. I’m a bit of a risk taker, but I have respect for things that I’m not sure I can conquer. I can’t even count how many times I walked out, had butterflies in my stomach and couldn’t do it. Finally after a ton of pressure from friends who were there with me, I decided to jump. I jumped as close as I could to the edge and got the heck out of there.
We all can go out on a diving board and look at the water. Sooner or later you just have to jump. Or someone from the back pushes you. Christ isn’t a pusher, he waits for you to jump. F you never jump, it’s only up to you what you will miss.
Today we are going to look at diving in and the purpose behind it. Noah received a call from God to build an ark. It didn’t make sense, it wasn’t rational and everyone laughed at him because of it. In spite of this, he dove in and built an ark. Ask yourself how things would be if he hadn’t been obedient. Abraham was asked to sacrifice his child after all the promises he had been given by God. Abraham didn’t avoid the circumstance, instead he dove in.
Joseph, knowing his brothers would one day bow down to him and after the accusation Potiphar’s wife asking for an affair refused a temporary blessing. He dove in. Moses answered a call from a burning bush to deliver a nation. He dove in. David this puny little kid took on a fight with Goliath which was just the beginning of his call and the refining before he inherited the house of Saul, an entire kingdom. He dove in. Daniel ended up in the Lion’s Den under King Nebuchadnezzar’s rule to bow. Esther risked her very life to go before the king to preserve a nation. Joseph believing Mary and the Angel of the Lord to raise the son of God. All of these are examples of diving in and taking the call your God given purpose and working it until it is complete.
In John 13, Jesus began to wash his disciples feet. This freaked Peter out a bit. Peter couldn’t imagine Jesus, the son of God doing such a lowly act. Further Peter didn’t feel worthy enough to allow Jesus to do this to him. So Peter questioned Jesus. Jesus told him it was a must in order to be indoctrinated into his specific purpose. I believe Peter’s response was beyond profound. Peter replied to Jesus telling him not to just wash his feet but his entire body. In essence Peter wanted to be completely immersed into Christ’s cleansing in order to fulfill his purpose. Peter had the right heart in the end. He wanted to do whatever it took to be part of God’s purpose.
Luke 21 talks about being betrayed by the ones closest to you and the ones you love for pursuing your God given purpose. Regardless there is a promise that you will be saved and God is paying attention to every detail including how many hairs are on your head. You have to dive in to receive the reward. If you never take the plunge you never move forward.
Deuteronomy 28:13 (MSG) “The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.” Galatians 6:9 (NIV) “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Hebrews 12:1-3 (MSG) “Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
Now dive in. Dive in and say to yourself, I’m diving in!
There is clearly order to the earth. Scientists tell us all the time so then it must be true I guess. The solar system has direct predictable order. Organisms have distinguished and divine purpose. We know the human body how it functions is not random. If you broadcast seed for a corn field you will not produce as much corn as if you have equally spaced rows with set distances between plants.
Water still can't be reproduced. Our goats got out recently and a neighbor brought his trailer to help haul them back home. He was amazed when he opened the door how they made a single line and began climbing in the trailer as if they were going on a field trip. Animals have a definite
I believe order is best explained through the lineage of Jesus. The lineage of Jesus is explained in Luke 3:23-38 for his mother. The bible also speaks of Jesus’ lineage in Matthew chapter 1 with an emphasis on Joseph’s lineage. Heli and Eli are translated the same, showing Matthew is the lineage of Joseph and Luke is the lineage of Mary. Two different purposes. Regardless we are going from the son of God to man to Jesus through his mother as Joseph was not his true bloodline. Both parents were heirs of David but through different kids Solomon had.
Luke 3:23-38 backwards is as follows: Son of God, son of Adam, son of Seth, son of Enos, son of Kenan, son of Mahalaleel, son of Jared, son of Enoch, son of Methuselah, son of Lamech, son of Noah, son of Shem, son of Arphaxad, son of Kenan, son of Shelah, son of Eber, son of Peleg, son of Reu, son of Serug, son of Nahor, son of Terah, son of Abraham, son of Isaac, son of Jacob, son of Judah, son of Perez, son of Hezron, son of Arni, son of Admin, son of Amminadab, son of Nahshon, son of Salmon, son of Boaz, son of Obed, son of Jesse, son of David, son of Nathan, son of Mattatha, son of Menna, son of Melea, son of Eliakim,son of Jonam, son of Joseph, son of Judah, son of Simeon, son of Levi, son of Matthat, son of Jorim, son of Eliezer, son of Joshua, son of Er, son of Elmadam, son of Cosam, son of Addi, son of Melchi, son of Neri, son of Shealtiel, son of Zerubbabel, son of Rhesa, son of Joanan, son of Joda, son of Josech, son of Semein, son of Mattathias, son of Maath, son of Naggai, son of Esli, son of Nahum, son of Amos, son of Mattathias, son of Joseph, son of Jannai, son of Melki, son of Levi, son of Matthat, son of Heli, Son of Joseph
I know there are a lot of names in that and it may seem pretty dry. To spice it up a bit, remember Boaz is the story of Ruth. In those names is the story of Noah and the ark. Look at David, Solomon, and Esther. The story of Abraham and his children are in this order. These biblically famous people all had a direct link in the heritage of Christ, yet they had no idea how this would all play out. Most people undermine the “begats’ and how boring they are. This intricate lineage brought forth the son of God in a specific ordained fashion.
We see through the bloodline of Jesus Christ a specific and succinct orchestration. Can you imagine, Jacob instead of Esau? David’s first son from Bathsheba living? Preservation like the story of Ruth with Boaz or Esther not taking a stand with the king in support of her uncle Mordechai? The bible has dual significance. The majority of the themed individuals have life struggles, yet were the precursors to the son of God and our redemption.
Think about it, in Jesus’ line there were prostitutes like Rahab, drunks like Noah, swindlers like Jacob, and faithful like David or wise like Solomon. Every bit of that was order and in the midst of the chaos was a perfect direction in the larger picture to bring us our redeemer.
Here is your blessing. This is your promise. You are a part of Gods order. He says in Romans 8:26-39 (MSG), “ Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
29-30 God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.
31-39 So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:
They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”
There is an order to every millisecond in your life. You are in Christ and nothing will mess up the perfect appointment. God already crossed Hell and high water for you. It’s in your hands. You can allow his power and authority to take dominion in your life. You are more than a conqueror. You are an overcomer no matter what comes your way. Remember all circumstances are just a part of Gods order and all things work together for the good.
Failure is one of the devils largest tools in hindering our progress with our God appointed purpose. Failure has to be experienced if you want to be successful. Many valuable lessons are learned from failure. Experience and failure are important for everyone to experience. The problem with failure is the reluctance to act in the future after a failing experience.
Walt Disney failed and then made from his mistakes a legacy. Many of the main bible characters were failures, yet God specifically chose them and called them for a great purpose just like he calls you. Mistakes are part of our compass. Mistakes are the building blocks in our foundation. This is the beginning of what is to come, but its contingent upon us not allowing the devil to hold us back.
Genesis 25 outlines the story of Jacob and Esau. Rebekah their mother noticed very early there was an intense turmoil inside her. She prayed and God revealed to her she was having twins. After they were born, Isaac and Rebekah had their favorites. Isaac was fond of Esau and Rebekah favored Jacob. Jacob was an inside kid doing more domestic activities. Essau was more of an outside kid enjoying hunting and so forth.
One day Essau was hungry and Jacob swindled him for the birth rights over a pot of stew. This rivalry went on for many years. During the swindling Rebekah and Jacob put together goat skins and Esau’s clothing to appear before his dad and swindle him. It worked. Esau wanted to Kill Jacob so Jacob and his mom swindled Isaac once again to get Isaac to send Jacob off.
Jacob went. God appeared to Jacob and he said in Genesis 28 if God takes care of him on this journey, this would be the God he worships and provides a tithe to. Jacob went to find his mother’s brother Leban, He found Leban’s sheep herders and they explained how they were having trouble with the well. Jacob saw Rachel, Leban’s daughter walking up. She was quite attractive and he wanted to impress her so he rolled the stone away.
After getting reacquainted with Leban he asked for Rachel and advised he would work for 7 years to be married to her. Jacob worked hard 7 years and finally asked for her. There was a big celebration and Jacob was tricked. He slept with Leah, Rachel’s older sister and had sex with her. Jacob was mad and confronted Laban who said we can’t marry the older for the younger but work 7 more years and I will give you Rachel. Jacob agreed to this. Interesting how we reap what we sew. Finally Jacob had Rachel, but the disastrous family feuds from Jacob sleeping with two wives and their maidservants with everyone trying to make him happy laced with jealousy proved to be a mess.
Now Laban offers to pay Jacob. So they have the spotted and striped animal’s discussion. Jacob bred the sturdy for his benefit and the week were for Laban. Yet another scandal. Laban’s sons realized the scandal and called him out. Jacob goes on blaming Laban for the scandals and tells the women they all need to move with him. Jacob then went back to the land of Canaan after turning the wives against their father.
Leban chased after and accused him of more. Finally they worked out their differences and entered into a covenant with one another in chapter 31. Leban blessed his grandchildren and left. In Chapter 32 Jacob then sends for Esau to make things right after decades of an ongoing feud. Jacob was scared and didn’t think Esau would handle the situation well. So Jacob divided his animals and hid some.
acob entered into repentance and asked God to save him. Then he put together a present for his brother Esau to include a large portion of his possessions. They made peace. Chapter 34 shows the heart change of Jacob.
He had a daughter who was very attractive named Dinah. Dinah ended up getting raped. Jacob, though upset didn’t act immediately. Jacob wouldn’t allow his daughter to be married to the rapist Schechm unless he was circumcised. Schechm and the whole community decided to get circumcised so they could marry into the wealth of Jacob. Just after while they were all sore, Jacobs’s sons Simeon and Levi went in and called all the men in the community to pay them back for the rape.
This situation is evidence of a swindler learning the grace of God over a lifetime. He overcame mistakes. He changed. God changed him. Do we cover it like Jacob? Blame others? Turn people against each other to hide your sin? Do you keep running? Deliverance only comes when we face the mistake:
James 16-18 (NIV): “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.”
There is no blessing in running from sin,. Proverbs 28:13 (MSG) “You can’t whitewash your sins and get by with it; you find mercy by admitting and leaving them.” Our redemption is in the mistake. Analyze it. Learn from it, grow from it. And forget it.
Write down the following, put this on the refrigerator. Remember these scriptures are for you. You can overcome a mistake and God’s promises are for you.
Psalm 103 (MSG)6-18 God makes everything come out right;
he puts victims back on their feet.
He showed Moses how he went about his work,
opened up his plans to all Israel.
God is sheer mercy and grace;
not easily angered, he’s rich in love.
He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold,
nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve,
nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
he has separated us from our sins.
As parents feel for their children,
God feels for those who fear him.
He knows us inside and out,
keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.
Men and women don’t live very long;
like wildflowers they spring up and blossom,
But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly,
leaving nothing to show they were here.
God’s love, though, is ever and always,
eternally present to all who fear him,
Making everything right for them and their children
as they follow his Covenant ways
and remember to do whatever he said.
Your sins are forgiven. You can’t let mistakes hold you back from the direction God is sending you. Learn from them. You are forgiven. Your compass has been set, follow it. Follow it in victory because you have been redeemed.
During the hurricane in Texas I heard a miraculous story. This couple went to Chic-fil-A everyday for a breakfast burrito. They became known by the staff and always ordered their usual. When the hurricane hit, many businesses were closed including this one. The elderly couple was trapped in their home with the first floor being completely flooded with a couple feet of water. Emergency personnel were so tapped it wasn’t possible for someone to come and help them out of their home.
On an inkling or what I would call a divine appointment by the spirit, the man called Chic-fil-A. The manager who was only there checking on the business as it was closed heard the phone ring and recognized the name as being one of the regulars who came in. He answered and was given the usual order to include a boat. Miraculously the manager knew of a jet ski and was able to go help this couple get out of their home. Some would call this a coincidence, but I believe this was a God ordained appointment.
There was no doubt things were bad for this couple, but God never forgot them. God had the perfect plan with the perfect strategy just for them. It’s easy to read this and be happy for this couple, but what about you? Do you find yourself knee deep in disaster with seemingly no hope on the horizon?
Let’s go through Ecclesiastics 6 (MSG) to understand Solomon’s perspective a little more.
“1-2 I looked long and hard at what goes on around here, and let me tell you, things are bad. And people feel it. There are people, for instance, on whom God showers everything—money, property, reputation—all they ever wanted or dreamed of. And then God doesn’t let them enjoy it. Some stranger comes along and has all the fun. It’s more of what I’m calling smoke. A bad business.
3-5 Say a couple have scores of children and live a long, long life but never enjoy themselves—even though they end up with a big funeral! I’d say that a stillborn baby gets the better deal. It gets its start in a mist and ends up in the dark—unnamed. It sees nothing and knows nothing, but is better off by far than anyone living.
6 Even if someone lived a thousand years—make it two thousand!—but didn’t enjoy anything, what’s the point? Doesn’t everyone end up in the same place?
7 We work to feed our appetites;
Meanwhile our souls go hungry.
8-9 So what advantage has a sage over a fool, or over some poor wretch who barely gets by? Just grab whatever you can while you can; don’t assume something better might turn up by and by. All it amounts to anyway is smoke. And spitting into the wind.
10 Whatever happens, happens. Its destiny is fixed.
You can’t argue with fate.
11-12 The more words that are spoken, the more smoke there is in the air. And who is any better off? And who knows what’s best for us as we live out our meager smoke-and-shadow lives? And who can tell any of us the next chapter of our lives?
There is no doubt Solomon is in a low place. He feels life is useless and things are bad. He’s broken and struggling. We have all been broken a time or two. Sometimes we put ourselves in our own circumstance and other times it is unavoidable. I find it hard to imagine one of the wealthiest and powerful people of the time was absolutely miserable. Solomon is the author of Ecclesiastics, Songs of Solomon, and Proverbs. Yes proverbs, the very person who felt such despair has given encouraging messages for centuries.
How can a person write the painful despair in Ecclesiastics and also write the wisdom in Proverbs?
Romans 15:4 (NIV) “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope and overflow with confidence in His promises.”
This isn’t an instruction of hopelessness instead Ecclesiastics was written to teach us how to relate. Jesus spoke in parables. Solomon spoke from personal observation. Solomon was noted in 1 Kings to having spoken over 3,000 proverbs and over 1,000 songs. Not to mention his wealth and being one of the wisest men ever on earth. When he says things are bad, it’s true, things are always bad. The question is, how you are supposed to respond to those things?
Proverbs 17:22 (NIV) says, “A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing,
But a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Solomon related to the three main principles which lead people astray in life, pursuit of riches, pursuit of instant gratification, and release of sorrows through alcohol. He ruled from 960-922 B.C.E. With that being said, there are no exact dates known, but roughly Solomon authored Song of Solomon sometime between 970-930, obviously his younger years. He wrote Proverbs around 950 then Ecclesiastics was roughly 931. Toward the end of his life.
This was evidence of an internal struggle as he looked back on his life. Regardless he ends the book by saying: Ecclesiastics 12:13-14 (MSG) “When all has been heard, the end of the matter is: fear God [worship Him with awe-filled reverence, knowing that He is almighty God] and keep His commandments, for this applies to every person. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, every hidden and secret thing, whether it is good or evil.”
He never negated what he had written in the past. Instead he was relating to everyone. He closed by speaking about keeping Gods commandments, and worshiping God because in the end you have to justify your actions before God.
God’s desire is for you to stand in the midst of the battle when things are bad and look upon the horizon for hope, joy, peace and fulfillment. Let’s go through several of the Proverbs for a minute for personal reflection:
Proverbs 16:3 (NIV)
Those who have no sense deride their neighbors, but those who have understanding hold their tongues.
Proverbs 21:1 (NIV)
That promise if for each one of you. Things are never too bad. Things are never too difficult for God and not one demon in the pit of hell or a million running behind him can stop you with the power you have in Christ Jesus.
Recently I met with a friend of mine. He told me they noticed their 16 year old daughter was getting incredibly winded and tired after playing sports. Finally they took her to the doctor to try and figure out what was going on. After several tests they discovered a vein over the heart was getting restricted when her heart rate would go up. Doctors stated it was a major surgery.
After checking with their insurance and receiving a referral they scheduled the surgery. The surgery was successful and their daughter had a complete recovery. A few weeks later they received a letter from the insurance company who stated this was a preexisting condition and they could not cover the surgery. My friend stated the bill was almost half a million dollars. There was no possible way they could pay the bill. They began preparing for bankruptcy.
In the meantime they appealed to the insurance company and prayed for divine intervention. After several weeks of appealing, they received a letter stating the insurance would cover the entire surgery. This was a huge blessing. One may question if it was unwise to have the surgery in the first place. Of course not. Sometimes we question good situations due to circumstances and challenges instead of trusting God for our greater benefit.
Our temptation in the current age is to trust our own thoughts instead of pursuing God’s divine wisdom. God wants you to see the greatest wisdom. We spoke yesterday of Ecclesiastics 3 and the true struggle Solomon endured. He was a trust fund baby inheriting a kingdom and having everything he ever wanted but he knew he couldn’t escape death. He also recognized all that is done could be in vein except for a relationship with God.
Of everything in the world Solomon could ask for, he sought wisdom. Solomon was highly successful and God granted him wisdom. Today I’m going to highlight some key struggles Solomon had though God granted him wisdom. Knowing how the story ends let’s look at Ecclesiastics 2 and see a glimpse of how Solomon felt for a period.
As Solomon reflects he says to have a good time and pleasure. He admits to utilizing alcohol in an attempt to figure out his life. He reflected on the great accomplishments he had to include building homes, vineyards, gardens and an intricate irrigation system. He had slaves and large livestock herds. He had tremendous wealth. Further he could basically have any woman he wanted. This was incredible prosperity yet he hated life. He is further noted saying he took a good look at his life and realized it was hollow and seemingly pointless.
He realized everyone is going to die. Accomplishments and accumulation is of no great benefit in the end. There was no reward in hard work and the grief that goes with it. Solomon was clearly in a low place and feeling an immense amount of despair. Is this how Christ feels about us? What’s the purpose? This is a man who was asking for wisdom and was absolutely broken.
Many of you find yourself in this place of brokenness. It seems life is useless and hollow. What’s the point? Regardless of what you are asking God for, you must remember the one gift he has already given. The one prayer that isn’t contingent on growing is the love of God.
Isaiah 54:9-10 (MSG) ““This exile is just like the days of Noah for me: I promised then that the waters of Noah would never again flood the earth. I’m promising now no more anger, no more dressing you down. For even if the mountains walk away and the hills fall to pieces, My love won’t walk away from you, my covenant commitment of peace won’t fall apart.” The GOD who has compassion on you says so.”
We had a little foster boy who endured tremendous pain. The little guy really knew starvation. This was evidenced by him eating until he would throw up. At night I would get up and find him laying at our bedroom door all curled up in a ball. By heart would just break because of the foster care rules he could not come into our bedroom. It was by a miracle we were able to get a psychologist to write a letter requesting the child be allowed to sleep on a mattress in our room. He didn’t have the luxuries of Solomon, he didn’t even know love and comfort.
This has helped me keep a perspective in my own life when I reflect about frustration. That little boy had nothing yet he got up every morning and took on the day. Nothing was familiar. Every time I would greet him I would hold out my arms and ask him how much I loved him. He would get so excited and he would hold out his arms wide. Then I’d say this big and show him even more as I pulled him up into my arms. And would embrace him. I loved him, and still love and pray for him.
The love I gave him was a gift, he did nothing for it. He didn’t have to perform or grow. Christ has that very same love for you. I can’t even express the pain of giving that little boy to another home after being his daddy for two years. The pain as he screamed daddy and I continued to walk away took my breath away. Though God had his plan I still don’t understand all of it. But one thing I know for sure, I can’t even imagine the Love God has for us when he looked at his own little boy and allowed him to be tortured, mocked, and killed so you could have the greatest gift of all without even earning it.
I can see Jesus saying I love you this much as he spread his arms on the cross. You may think there is no purpose, but you are not the keeper of the starts. My God who made a perfectly functioning universe blew life into your body for a purpose. Accept nothing less. The love on the cross and the gift of salvation is not the, be all end all.
God loves you every day in every way. That very passion you have for your child, the willingness to protect and fight for their every need is innate. God’s passion for you is stronger. The bible is filled with numerous versus expressing God’s love. He thinks of you every day in every way. You matter. It isn’t just smoke. You have a divine appointment on this earth with a God given call. Though working through your call isn’t always easy and is definitely fraught with trials and tribulations.
The wisdom comes in the journey. Know this, God is with you every step of the way. Most of all, he loves you. He is proud of you and is always ready to bless you.
There is a man who had been farming several years. His wife became sick, his mother died. His father then developed health issues and died. Next his wife died. He had been fighting for years to get crops growing. Being hailed on every year and trying to keep going. He had to expand his dairy to keep afloat. This year his harvest was a bumper crop like never before. This man was a member of our church. Our church prayed and it happened.
It's exciting when something works for somebody else but what about when it's not working for you? We all are in different stages of life. Some are in seasons of spring while another is in winter. If everyone was in the same season, the perfect balance God designed wouldn’t be so perfect. Corn farmers are at harvest while wheat farmers are planting. It's difficult not to compare yourself or life with someone else's. Sometimes it’s also hard to decipher, am I being punished or is my harvest out of season?
Yesterday we spoke about David and his first son with Bathsheba. Today we will discuss his second son from Bathsheba Solomon. Also called Jeddidiah by Nathan. Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes 3 really sums up the seasons.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-22 (MSG) Note it is not in order to help get the full essence.
“But in the end, does it really make a difference what anyone does? I’ve had a good look at what God has given us to do—busywork, mostly. True, God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time—but he’s left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he’s coming or going. I’ve decided that there’s nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life. That’s it—eat, drink, and make the most of your job. It’s God’s gift. I’ve also concluded that whatever God does, that’s the way it’s going to be, always. No addition, no subtraction. God’s done it and that’s it. That’s so we’ll quit asking questions and simply worship in holy fear. Whatever was, is. Whatever will be, is. That’s how it always is with God.”
“I took another good look at what’s going on: The very place of judgment—corrupt! The place of righteousness—corrupt! I said to myself, “God will judge righteous and wicked.” There’s a right time for every thing, every deed—and there’s no getting around it. I said to myself regarding the human race, “God’s testing the lot of us, showing us up as nothing but animals.” Humans and animals come to the same end—humans die, animals die. We all breathe the same air. So there’s really no advantage in being human. None. Everything’s smoke. We all end up in the same place—we all came from dust, we all end up as dust. Nobody knows for sure that the human spirit rises to heaven or that the animal spirit sinks into the earth. So I made up my mind that there’s nothing better for us men and women than to have a good time in whatever we do—that’s our lot. Who knows if there’s anything else to life?”
“There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:
A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.”
Regardless of the season in your life, fearing God, worshiping God, not trying to understand God and enjoy your life. Look at these passages:
“Even though a person sins and gets by with it hundreds of times throughout a long life, I’m still convinced that the good life is reserved for the person who fears God, who lives reverently in his presence, and that the evil person will not experience a “good” life. No matter how many days he lives, they’ll all be as flat and colorless as a shadow—because he doesn’t fear God.”
Ecclesiastes 8:12-13 MSG
“Just as you’ll never understand the mystery of life forming in a pregnant woman, So you’ll never understand the mystery at work in all that God does.”
Ecclesiastes 11:5 MSG
“When I determined to load up on wisdom and examine everything taking place on earth, I realized that if you keep your eyes open day and night without even blinking, you’ll still never figure out the meaning of what God is doing on this earth. Search as hard as you like, you’re not going to make sense of it. No matter how smart you are, you won’t get to the bottom of it.”
Ecclesiastes 8:16-17 MSG
“Seize life! Eat bread with gusto, Drink wine with a robust heart. Oh yes—God takes pleasure in your pleasure! Dress festively every morning. Don’t skimp on colors and scarves. Relish life with the spouse you love Each and every day of your precarious life. Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange For the hard work of staying alive. Make the most of each one! Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily! This is your last and only chance at it, For there’s neither work to do nor thoughts to think In the company of the dead, where you’re most certainly headed.”
Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 MSG
This earth is full of random behaviors but all is completely organized and orchestrated by God. Every bit of your life God has the time to watch and is watching. Everyone is experiencing different seasons just like all of creation. Everything can’t be in the same season or the world would starve off. Just remember the seasons are always changing and work is being done in the background. You have to have the seasons. If the wheat doesn’t endure frost it won’t grow correctly. Many plants need winter in order to prepare for spring. These things all work together in order to bear fruit.
Whether you are in summer or winter or springtime or harvest, God is faithful. He will deliver you. You will step into harvest and your efforts are going to bear fruit. The time frame of different seasons in your life only God knows, but your faithfulness will be rewarded. God has not forgotten you nor the work which He has established. We are all in a season. Hold tight to the truths, watch expectantly and remember this is a season. Then remind yourself by the Grace of all mighty God my harvest is coming.
I read an article where a person had a misdiagnosed nerve issue. It brought him from living a normal life and working to being disabled and almost completely non-functional over the course of three years. He had given up hope but his wife continued to hang onto God’s healing promises. Suddenly one day, things began to change and over the course of a year he was healed.
Many people find themselves in a place of hopelessness. With life's frustrations many times we ask why even bother. It seems like no good deed goes unpunished. How come it works out for others and not for me? Is this how life is supposed to be? Stress and anxiety are daily factors in almost everyone’s lives. The world of information brings with it unbearable responsibility. Many of these responsibilities are overwhelming and difficult to comprehend.
In 2 Samuel 12, we arrive at the explanation of David’s first child with Bathsheba. The passage doesn’t say how old the child was, but it does say the child became ill. David the King with all sorts of means felt completely helpless. I fell prostrate and worshiped God including fasting and praying. His chief staff encouraged him to eat but he refused to do so. After seven days the child died. None of the staff were willing to tell David he was dead because they saw the passion and intercession David had for his son.
Soon David figured out his child had died. Instead of continuing his fast, he freshened himself up and began to worship God. I don’t know about you, but in my darkest moment with such a painful tragedy, I’m not sure worshiping God would be the easiest decision to make. Yet this is the absolute perfect decision to make. We will never understand God but it doesn’t mean we give up. David was given another son and it’s only my opinion, but I believe part of that reward was because of how he handled the previous son.
“With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.”
Romans 8:1-2 MSG
“Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self-ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.”
Romans 8:5-8 MSG
“But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!”
Romans 8:9-11 MSG
“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!”
Romans 8:15-17 MSG
“That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.”
Romans 8:18-21 MSG
“All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.”
Romans 8:22-25 MSG
“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”
Romans 8:26-28 MSG
“So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”
Romans 8:31-39 MSG
When you find yourself on the edge press on. If God is for you who can be against you. You have an appointed call for your life nobody can interpret except for you.
“For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable [for He does not withdraw what He has given, nor does He change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call].”
Romans 11:29 AMP
No matter how hard it is, you are to press on. The trials are part of the process and you cannot allow the devil to defeat you. When you ask if you should bother realize it's a God ordained must. Good things come from failures. Some of the greatest inventors, leaders and innovators throughout history have been deemed failures in multiple facets.
“Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men,”
COLOSSIANS 3:23 AMP
You cannot get caught up in the self-evaluation of your life and circumstances. The Lord is your evaluator. I'm sure it didn't make sense to Moses to go back up the mountain for more tablets. In fact many of the things performed in the bible don’t make sense at face value. Know this, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. God is for me so nobody can be against me. No matter what situation or task we always bother. This is because we work for the Lord and not ourselves. A thousand may fall at your side and 10000 at your right hand and you will continue to bother because you have a destination with the anointing of Christ upon you. You will get through it and God will be glorified because of it. So bother to go the extra mile, bother to lend a hand, bother for breakthrough, bother to forgive and bother for a better life.
I once read an article on the internet where a woman was struggling with depression. The anxiety and depression was so overwhelming for her, yet her fears seemed trivial. As this person grew up, when the attacks happened it drove a wedge between her and God. When she felt fears and was upset, the deception of the devil drove her further from Christ. Once she sufficiently felt God would not help her with her fears, you utilized alcohol to fill that void.
The alcohol took her down a path of destruction until there was nothing else she could turn to. She was helpless. It was time for God’s miracle. The first miracle in her life was salvation. She accepted Jesus as her savior and God began to help her rebuild her life. This didn’t mean the attacks stopped. Instead soon they intensified. She plead and begged God to take the panic attacks away. She felt others could be healed by Christ but not her. She later recognized the devil would torment her in all sorts of ways. He was playing with her mind.
Do you find yourself confused? Do you have unexplainable fears? Are you present at some home or event but your mind is in outer space with extreme conflict? Is there a heaviness in your heart that won't leave? If someone could hear your thoughts what would they say? Are you so internally conflicted that your daily functions are hindered? God wants to fix that.
Let’s talk about King David. He was known to be a man after Gods own heart. He was not genetically an heir to the throne. In fact he was the last choice his father thought would even receive the anointing to be King. Even after receiving the anointing he had to run for his life and spend years in hiding and conflict before being seated at the throne. Once David was on the throne, he wasn’t perfect and he didn’t live happily ever after. Instead he endured multiple pains and afflictions just like you and I.
In fact, in Psalm 55 David is pleading with God He asks him to listen and answer him. He goes on to explain his afflictions and how his heart is in anguish. He was frustrated with persecution and enduring death. He simply wanted to escape his current circumstance. He asked God to go after his enemies and confuse them. He was broken hearted at the failed relationship with Saul and Jonathan. David was enduring a mind game. As he prayed, the revelation came to him and he realized God is in control and his trust must be in God.
The mind game the devil was playing with David was so apparent yet so real for each of us. There are several scriptures referencing that fact that God and God alone knows our thoughts. Some of them are Mark 2:8, Luke 6:8, Genesis 6:5 and Matthew 9:4. Never in scripture is there reference to the devil or demons knowing thoughts. The prophet Daniel made it clear nobody can hear our thoughts or dreams except God. Yet we somehow provide the devil unexplainable control..
In Daniel 2:27-28 (MSG) “Daniel answered the king, “No mere human can solve the king’s mystery, I don’t care who it is—no wise man, enchanter, magician, diviner. But there is a God in heaven who solves mysteries, and he has solved this one. He is letting King Nebuchadnezzar in on what is going to happen in the days ahead. This is the dream you had when you were lying on your bed, the vision that filled your mind:”
Ephesians 6; 12 (AMPC) “For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.”
The devil uses mind control tactics much like a pedophile. He grooms us into believing he is in our thought life. Then we allow his circumstantial influence to sway our thoughts and actions. When a pedophile wants to be close with someone they began to influence them so gently it isn’t recognizable. The devil works the same way. Little comments that a person makes can be such a major contributor to poor self-esteem or lack of trust it is crippling.
Grooming isn’t from the devil knowing what you are thinking, but it's the devil teaching you how to think. We have to reprogram ourselves. Philippians 4:8-9 (MSG) “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”
Write this down and put scriptures on cards, your cell phone, in the car, or wherever else you feel appropriate but meditate on scriptures so you can reprogram your mind. Take the grooming out. Some additional scriptures to help you reprogram your mind are:
“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”
1 Corinthians 14:33 KJV
“The believer replied, “Every promise of God proves true; he protects everyone who runs to him for help. So don’t second-guess him; he might take you to task and show up your lies.””
Proverbs 30:5-6 MSG
“So [as the result of the Messiah's intervention] they shall [reverently] fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him and put him to flight [for He will come like a rushing stream which the breath of the Lord drives]. [Matt. 8:11; Luke 13:29.]”
Isaiah 59:19 AMPC
“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.”
Psalm 34:17-20 (NIV)
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
Every week I ask God to protect our thoughts. He will, he does, and he is. Your mind is your daily battleground where the enemy has no inside information. The only attacks the enemy can give are the clues you give him. Don't give him the clues. You will win with the favor from the greatest army. Dwell on scripture and Gods promises. When the fears come up, take every thought captive and your mind games will end. Tell yourself, this isn’t Gods promise and then think about His promise instead. The battleground will change. You will have victory in the name of Jesus. You have a distinguished purpose, the devil knows it, and he wants to ruin it. You will win the battle. Tell yourself you will win the battle. Now fight, fight, fight, fight, fight.
I read a story about a surfer who was in the ocean for 32 hours after he was swept out to sea over 13 miles. He was discovered hanging onto his board. He was hypothermic but he did not lose consciousness. Experts said if he had not been wearing a wetsuit he probably would not have survived. The experts discussed various circumstances which hindered the search for him and made the situation difficult.
Though he survived I’m certain there were points when he was out there all alone where his mind began to wonder. I can only imagine the fears of never seeing your family, worrying about death and how it will happen, and the inner turmoil of hope. This hope of being rescued probably was tested every few minutes. Regardless, I know for sure there was nothing further he could do for his circumstance. He could only do so much. At some point he was at the mercy of outside forces and nothing else. It was at that point anyone could clearly recognize the miracle.
We have all been in a similar situation though not literally. We have felt despair and hopeless for any significant breakthrough. When all you have is what you are clinging to. What do you do then?
In Exodus 14, the Israelites were kind of camped by the sea wondering back and forth. Pharaoh realized this was a great opportunity to recapture them and overtake them. He sent out an army to round the people up. The Israelites saw the army of Egyptians coming after them. In that moment they hit a wall. There was nothing they could do for themselves. They cried out to God. Moses cried out telling them to stand firm and trust the Lord would fight the battle for them.
God then asked Moses why he was crying out to God, they needed to head for the sea. He told Moses to raise his staff and they would go through on dry ground. I can only imagine the fear and hope these people had while their hearts were just pounding. While they were standing still God moved and parted the waters. They has been acclaimed as one of the greatest miracles of all time. Scientists for years have tried to explain away the way God showed up that day.
Verse 13 appears very profound because Moses told them not to fear and to stand still so they could witness the miracle. I wonder how many times God has told us to stand still so we can watch him work. He clearly has commanded people to stand still frequently. The Israelites were told to stand still in Numbers 9. It wasn’t just for the Israelites. 1 Samuel 12 has a command to stand still and watch God work.
Standing still is the point when we receive instruction like in 2 Samuel 18 when David commands a servant to stand still waiting for more information. This profound act amplifies what God is trying to tell us. Sometimes we can’t advance until we acknowledge there is no hope in our flesh. Job was commanded to stand still in chapter 37 after all of his morning and just before his breakthrough. Proverbs 12 tells us the wicked will be overthrown but the righteous will stand.
When the disciples prayed for a man in Acts 14 they told him to stand, he instead leaped up and walked. 1 Thessalonians 3 tells us to stand firm in the Lord. Ephesians 6 instructs us to prepare for battle utilizing the armor of God and to stand our ground so we can be in right standing with God. James 4 tells us to resist the devil or stand against him and he will flee from us. He can’t get us when God has us in a miraculous place of protection.
Think of your fears, trials and stresses. Some worries when you look back weren't worth worrying about in the first place. Sometimes when there is nothing else you can do remember that is the time to just stand. God prepares your movement but you have to be standing still to receive the instruction. Before God moves mightily he needs your full attention. And that always comes after a call to stand. Just as King David instructed his subordinates centuries ago, our military uses the same fashion to instruct troops today. There is supernatural significance in standing.
Psalm 37 tells us a good man’s steps are established by God and God is delighted to do so. It worked for Moses, Abraham, Joshua, Paul and it works for you. God isn’t finished with you. He has a plan. Your life is full of purpose and the hard times are the places to slow down and stand. So stand still for instruction. Stand still for a clear path. Stand and behold the hand of the lord as He works. Only after standing can you walk and have guided steps.
I read a story where a couple was getting ready for a bike ride on a Saturday morning. She thought she had a migraine because she got headaches all the time. She took some migraine medicine to manage it. She ended up vomiting and then collapsed. She was rushed to the hospital where they discovered she had an aneurysm.
They operated on her. In spite of very low odds, the surgery was successful. However she had a vasospasm which could cause permanent neurological damage. The doctors had to insert a drain. After a week it subsided and her brain pressure stabilized. She was later released from the hospital and went on to live a healthy life.
You are not alone. You have a burden carrier. You have a healer. You have favor. You are different. Read the book of Habakkuk. It is three short chapters. Habakkuk was very frustrated. He asked God how long he had to cry before God would do something. He didn’t understand why he had to witness evil. He didn’t understand the confusion of the world. God answered his heart cries.
Do you relate? Everyone has their own set of stress, circumstances and frustration. You are not alone. Joshua 1 tells us to be strong and courageous. We aren’t supposed to be frightened or dismayed. This is because God is with us wherever we go. This isn’t the only time God tells us to be strong and courageous. Deuteronomy 31 also tells us to be strong and courageous. We aren’t to fear or dread because God goes with us and never forsakes us.
It’s easy to say these verses and read them. Living in this peace, courage with strength requires an intangible faith which gets tested routinely. It doesn’t mean we are weak. It only means we are vulnerable. We are told in Psalm 23 that we fear no evil while walking in the valley of the shadow of death. This is because God is with us and the tools he carries provide us reassurance.
Don’t take on responsibilities and burdens which are not yours. We have a burden carrier. In Matthew 11 we are told by Jesus himself to come to him and He gives us rest. Our own stupidity gets in the way because we always want to help God along. People love to quote the saying that God helps those who help themselves, which in part is true. However, you can’t over help. Sometimes we get in the way of ourselves creating more harm than good. Isaiah 58 talks about God removing the bonds of wickedness, removing bands of a burdensome yoke and letting the oppressed go free. Nowhere in this passage does it imply we can do this. Instead it points out this is the gift God gives to us.
Our burden carrier isn’t just concerned about our burdens. Instead He also cares about our health. He is our healer. In Matthew 8 God sends forth his word and heals us. Psalm 107 says He forgives all of our attacks and heals all diseases. Do you believe that can really be true? Take the time to look around an observe God’s supernatural work in the lives around you.
God loves us so much he grants us divine favor. Isaiah 41 tells us not to fear or be stressed out because God gives us strength, He helps us and he holds us up. He concludes Matthew 28 by promising us that he is with us always to the bitter end. Paul said in Romans 8:38-39 (ESV) For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
You are different, you are grafted into the royal priesthood. In trials, frustrations, temptations, and afflictions, you are different. You don't have to look to things for your answers because you have backdoor favor with the maker and keeper of all things. You have the favor of God. Psalm 30 says we may have disappointment at first, but joy comes in the morning. It will always get better at some point. Are you looking for it to get better or have you given up? Don’t give up, the fight isn’t over. God promised in Isaiah 41 that he will help you. Let him help you.
Post Isaiah 46:4 on something you can read every day. It says, “Even to your old age I am He, and even to hair white with age will I carry you. I have made, and I will bear; yes, I will carry and will save you.” You are grafted into an unexplainable supernatural inheritance. God is with you every step of the day. As it says in acts 17:28 in him we live and move and have our being. Trials, temptations, suffering, joy, persecution, are not too big for him. He is with us and protecting us through it all. He is there with his hand in yours. Take his hand and walk. Walk with your head held high, your hair blowing in the breeze and with confidence knowing you are different!
Philip Lukens is the senior pastor of the Carr Community Church. To receive updates please enter your e-mail address below and click subscribe.
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