Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hope Through Affliction

All the days of the afflicted are evil, But he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast. (Proverbs 15:15 NKJV)

Affliction comes to every child of God. It's a well-known fact of life. If we follow Jesus, we will find affliction in many shapes and forms. God uses these to sharpen us, strengthen our faith and patience, and to mold our character. However this does not mean that these afflictions are sent upon us by God Himself.

The world is a dark place because of the wicked actions of sinful people. God gave us the earth, (Psalm 115:16) and the terrible things that happen upon it are results of sin. So it makes sense to me that this verse would say "all the days of the afflicted are evil". Affliction is what we receive because we live in a world full of evil. The Amplified Bible says it well:

All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances]. (Proverbs 15:15 AMP)

Praise God that even though hard times come against us, we still have hope! God promises to deliver us, strengthen us, and give us joy through the difficult times. When He puts His joy in our hearts, we have a continual feast: a continued fulfillment of peace and gladness. How awesome is it to know that our Father in heaven loves to give GOOD gifts to His children? How wonderful it is to know that even through the dark times the world throws at us, we still have a good God to carry us through.
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Monday, October 1, 2012

Life = Good

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10 NKJV)

Jesus said the thief is the one who comes to kill, to steal, and destroy. So by what manner of thinking do we perceive that God is the one who brings trials upon us? If we are sick, our health is being destroyed, and we are slowly being "killed" by the disease. If we are constantly in the red financially and money is scarce, than our riches are being "stolen". If our God-invested plans come to ruin, or our circumstances turn terrible, our hopes and dreams are being "destroyed". If you look at things objectively, there is no way these things are of God.

Jesus came that we might have life; and have it abundantly, pressed down, shaken together and running over. "Every good and perfect gift comes from above". Who are we to call good things evil, much less evil things good? Life is health. Abundance is prosperity. Dreams and hopes that have life are evident goodnesses in our world. These things are what truly comes from God.

Jesus didn't say life would be all a bed of roses. He said trouble would come, and this is because the devil is in it, seeking to kill, steal, and destroy us. However He told us not to fear - for He overcame it that we might also. In Him, we can overcome all that the devil throws our way. Psalms says "though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death", not camp in the valley. Though sorrow may last for a night, joy comes with the morning.

If you are in the valley right now, don't set up camp. Press onwards to what God has promised for you, and lay hold of those promises. For through Him, you can overcome *all* things.
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Friday, August 31, 2012

Don't Look Back

The highway of the upright is to depart from evil; He who keeps his way preserves his soul. (Proverbs 16:17 NKJV)

I find this verse very interesting. A highway is an easy road to travel. It is long and straight, with very few turns or bends. One can travel for miles on it without so much as turning the steering wheel. The lanes are broad and wide, leaving plenty of room for error. It is paved smoothly and evenly, with the least amount of bumps so as not to trouble the occupants of the traveling vehicles. No road is so easy to traverse as a highway.

This verse tells us that to travel through life easily as on such a highway, we must depart from evil. Pondering this is quite interesting as well. To depart means you must first have been in a certain place. We have all been evil: lost in our sin without a Saviour. Once lost, but now found and saved. Since we are now the righteous, our instruction then is to depart from evil - depart and leave the ways of sin which we were accustomed to, behind.

Lot and his family lived in an evil city. Yet God had mercy on them and gave them a straight way of escape out of the city and out of the way of Sodom's destruction. However, though they had left the city, Lot's wife turned back to look whence she had come, and it was her undoing.

If you have made the decision to leave the city of evil, _don't look back._ Keep your eyes on the goal ahead and keep your feet on God's highway. Don't be lukewarm. Make up your mind as to whether you truly want to leave the city, and then don't look back.
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Monday, August 6, 2012

Keep Your Feet

My son, do not walk in the way with them, Keep your foot from their path; So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; It takes away the life of its owners. (Proverbs 1:15, 19 NKJV)

There are many paths in life that lead to death, however many of them are subtle, and not all of them lead to physical death. Spiritual death can often be the result of wandering from God's way.

Proverbs tells is to keep our feet from the wicked's path; to completely avoid it, not even setting foot upon it. Why should this verse be so emphatic in warning us not to cross paths with the wicked, even by accident?

If we indulge in something unGodly even once, the images and the experience never leaves our minds. It becomes a constant source of temptation and creates a conflict and struggle in our spirit.

It only takes a toddler one taste of something sugary for them to be unsatisfied with the food that is good for them. So one taste of wickedness can make us unsatisfied with God, driving a nail into the coffin of our walk with Him.

These are some of the reasons we are so strongly warned to flee all appearances of evil. What the eye doesn't see, the heart doesn't grieve. Therefore if we forsake the wicked path, the tempting things of the world will have nil effect on us because if we never indulge in them, we can't be tempted by them.

Let us then follow the wisdom of Paul to Timothy: "Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart." (2 Timothy 2:22 NKJV)
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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"T" Word

In the Lord I put my trust. (Psalm 11:1a NKJV)

The big T word. Why is it so many of us struggle with trusting the God of the universe? Why is it us, with our limited vision, doubt the God who can see all things, and to Whom all things are revealed?

We are creatures of the senses. Even in a dark room, we do not trust where  we are going without feeling our way because we can't see the way. When things cause roadblocks in our lives, we are prone to fret and worry because we cannot see past them. Or if we are at the convergence of two roads, we panic because we can't perceive which one we ought to take.

Reading Psalm 139 shows just how well God knows us. He has incredible and intrinsic plans for us as His children, which He will fulfill as He promised. How much easier would we make those plans come to pass if we trusted His every move?

Jesus said to Thomas: “because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29 NKJV)

So many of us only choose to trust when we see things turning out okay. Or upon seeing the road suddenly up ahead and praising God, "I knew I should have trusted you!" However, blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believed that God will bring them through. Blessed are those who trust in God's guidance, yet do not know the road ahead.

You can get to where God is going a lot faster if you trust His navigating, and cut loose the weight of worry.
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Daily Revelation

Where  there is  no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy  is  he who keeps the law. (Proverbs 29:18 NKJV)

The definition of the word "revelation" according to Webster defines the word - 1: an act of revealing or communicating divine truth 2: something that is revealed by God to humans
3: an act of revealing to view or making known 4: something that is revealed; especially : an enlightening or astonishing disclosure.

In reading and studying Scripture, if one does not receive continued revelation in what they are reading, the Word will not impact them, and will not be making constant changes in their lives. Reading Scripture then merely becomes a moral obligation without any real evidence of God's working in them because the Word has not made an impact. It leads to an unhappy and unsatisfied life and a heart growing bitter towards God.

However those who seek God diligently and pray for fresh revelation daily are those who keep His law. Proverbs 4:20-23 states, "My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they  are  life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh."

In keeping the living and revelational Word of God in our hearts, the Lord promises us a happy and fruitful life as we continue walking with Him. May He give you fresh revelation in His Word today!
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Preparing the Ground

Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear. (Psalm 10:17 NKJV)

The condition of our heart is one of the most vital aspects of our Spiritual life. When Jesus told the parable of the sower and the seed, the soil depicted the heart. There were those hearts of stone, which could not accept His teachings; the Word of God bouncing off them with nil effect.

There were those hearts that were shallow, and before the Word could take root, it was choked out by the distractions of the world.

Then there was the soft, deep heart into which the Word fell and grew; till it multiplied and bore much fruit.

However one thing that may go unnoticed is that the ground (heart) had first been prepared to accept the seed. No soil is loamy and good without having first been thoroughly weeded and turned by a trowel.

For God's Word to take effect in our hearts; for it to grow and bear much fruit in our lives, we must constantly be allowing Him to tend it by weeding out the things that hinder us, constrict us, or distract us. We must permit the Lord to turn over the soil of our hearts so He can know all of its depths, that His Word may take root, flourish and manifest itself in our lives as good fruit.

Are there placed in your heart that are overgrown and needing the tending of the Gardener?
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Heart Ties

Therefore the Lord said: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me, And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men, Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work Among this people, A marvelous work and a wonder; For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, And the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden.” (Isaiah 29:13, 14 NKJV)

There are times where life drags you from the day to day and throws you into upheaval, in everything from your daily routines to your daily devotions. Someone may call needing a hand, dragging you away from your ordinary day to soak up all of your time; arriving home late to collapse in bed at night with nothing more than a briefly murmured prayer. It may be a holiday season with a houseful of aunts, uncles and cousins, where you haven't even seconds to spare for some quiet time. Either way, we all have those periods where the world kidnaps us for a ride on its rollercoaster circuit of confusion and it is during these times of spiritual depravity that our heart before God fills in.

The above verse tells about a people who say all the right things according to the Lord; do all the right actions such as reciting Scripture and going to church, yet are without hearts that are closely communing with Him. These people are ones who wither and die spiritually when life takes them for a whirl. They conform to men's standards of righteousness by works, rather than cultivating a heart that is passionately on fire their Saviour.

Work on strengthening the heart ties you have between yourself and God rather than falling into the trap that merely good habits will make you acceptable before Him. This is not to say that spending ample time in His Word and in prayer are not important, but when times come that you are without devotions to read or a Bible to study, your heart relationship with the Lord is the ground you will be standing on, so make sure it is firm.
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