Jesus said we are wrong when we try to find a cause and effect reason for every person who has a disability or is suffering.
If you would make that your daily practice, it would change your life. You may be thinking that you’re too busy. John Wesley’s mother, Susana, had 16 children. She used to sit down in the kitchen and pull her apron over her head. All the children knew this meant they must be quiet because their mother was spending time alone with God. Every morning, we need to pull the apron over our heads and block out the distractions of life and commune with God in prayer.
Forgiveness is an active choice. Forgetting is a passive process in which a matter fades from our memory with the passing of time. We all forget things like names, telephone numbers, and birthdays. It’s amazing how some men can forget their wedding anniversary but can remember the score of the 1983 Super Bowl! The sad thing is when it comes to people who have offended us, we have total recall.
When the winds of adversity blow into your life is that what happens to you? “There goes my faith in God.” When mountains too tall to climb stand in your way and block your progress is that your response? “There goes my faith in God.” The solution to any problem in your life is simply this: Have faith in God. The answer to any need in your life is: Have faith in God.
Imagine boulders represent burdens. Sometimes we all experience the occasional heavy boulders of pain and grief: the death of a loved one; a divorce; the loss of a job. You carry your own backpack, but if a boulder rolls over onto one of your fellow hikers, you’re going to jump in and help take the load of that burden off them; you’re going to bear their burden. As you do that, you fulfill the law of Christ. The law of Christ is the law of Love. You are to love God with all your being and love your neighbor as yourself. Spiritual maturity has nothing to do with age; there are plenty of adult Christians who still cannot feed themselves.
An interesting thing about the list of names in Jesus’ genealogy is some of the people on the list we might think weren’t spiritually qualified. For instance: Rahab (who was once a prostitute) and Ruth (who was not Jewish, but Moabite). There are some pretty lousy kings who made the list too. Manasseh was one of the worst kings in Israel’s history. The Bible says he led Israel into sin and did more evil than any other king. The point is that God can use all kinds of people. If He can redeem the life of a former hooker, an unclean Gentile, and a lousy king, do not be surprised that He can make something special of your life, even if your past is less than perfect.
The amazing thing about God’s power is He can convert our troubles into joy. When the world does it worst to us, that’s when God can do His best for us! Do you think I’m making this up? Here’s a quick reality check. Joseph in the Old Testament—beaten up by his brothers—trouble. Sold into slavery—double trouble. Spent time in prison for a crime he never committed—triple trouble. Through it all, Joseph kept his focus on God, and he found joy in the midst of his troubles. So that in Genesis 50:20 Joseph said to his brothers, “You intended this to HURT me, but God intended it for GOOD, for the saving of many lives.” Joseph did look at the thorns, he looked at the rose. He never focused on the black clouds, he looked for the silver lining. He never stopped making lemonade with the lemons life game him.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t convict us of sin to make us feel guilty. He convicts us so we’ll realize the need to be clean. There is a huge difference between conviction and condemnation. The Bible says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17) According to Romans 8:1, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” When you are dirty and sweaty it’s a reminder you need to take a shower. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin so we’ll understand the need to confess our sin and experience God’s cleansing power.
The opposite of being poor and spirit and mourning over your spiritual poverty is an attitude of being proud and unbroken in your belief that you can do anything. It’s the attitude that says, “I don’t need God’s help or strength. I can do it myself!” Have ever tried to help a child do something, and they say, “Let ME do it!” That’s our old sin nature that rises up and says, “I don’t need any help. I can do it myself!” That attitude will get you in trouble.
We have now reached the climax of the book of Job. God finished questioning Job, and was waiting for Job’s reply. If Job had argued with God and said something like, “Yeah, I heard all of what you said, but, Lord, it’s just not fair that I’m suffering! What are you going to do about it, God?” If that had been his response that would have been the end of the story, and we probably wouldn’t even be reading the book of Job! Instead, Job finally gets it and responds to God in the proper way. If you are suffering and hurting, this is way you need to react as well.
When it was time for the Israelites to cross the Jordan River, it represented both the border to blessing and a barrier to blessing. Only when the priests stepped into the raging water did it stop. You have to trust God first and then He releases His power. The reason many people live on the wrong side of the river is they are waiting for God to stop the water before they step in and God is waiting for them to step right into the water. When they stepped into the water, the river stopped flowing–a miracle!
The word “consecrate” isn’t too familiar today, but it basically means to set your life apart for God’s use. Occasionally, I will make reservations at a nice restaurant for Cindy and myself. We will be escorted to “our table” and sometimes there is a little card on the table reading, “Reserved for David and Cindy Dykes.” That table has been “consecrated” or “reserved” for our use; nobody else is going to use it while we are there. When you consecrate yourself, you are saying, “God, my life is reserved exclusively for You.”
Luke’s description of the birth of Jesus is far more detailed than any other gospel writer. In order to help us grasp the fullest significance of who Jesus Christ was and what He accomplished, Luke takes us back to the very beginning of Jesus’ life. He describes more fully than any other gospel writer the announcement of John the Baptist’s birth and the announcement of Jesus’ birth, then the birth of John and the birth of Jesus. By describing the origin of John and the origin of Jesus side by side he shows how their destinies dovetail in God’s plan, but also how Jesus is vastly superior to his forerunner.
Paul says God is bigger than my brain or your brain. God is bigger than any person’s ability to even imagine God, and if you think you have condensed God down to some little thought in your mind and you’ve got him figured out where he’s convenient to you and for you, you’ve committed idolatry. God is saying, “I am the only wise God, and don’t limit who I am and what I can do.”
When God tells us to do things sometimes in the word, we look at it and we say, “Why?” That’s not the right response. We should just obey the Lord and not ask why, because God is trying to get us ready for even bigger and better things. Sometimes when God tells us to do simple things in the word of God, we want to look at and say, “Why would we do that? We want bigger and better things!” God is just training us. He is getting us ready.
In this first story about the beginning of the conquering of the Promised Land shows us that God can strike a mighty lick with a crooked stick. In other words, God can use all kinds of people–anyone who’s available to him. I want to go below the level of the actual historical story itself and talk about how what Rahab did is a beautiful picture of what all of us must do if we want to be redeemed, if we want to be part of the family of God, because this is basically what Rahab did. She was a part of the people who lived in the area around Jericho, but she made a decision. She said, “I no longer want to be affiliated with my past with these people of my past I choose to be a part of the family of God.” If you want to be a part of the family of God you have to follow five steps.
Paul said there’s a kind of Christian that caused him to thank God when he thought about them. This is what I call a healthy Christian. There are two marks of a healthy Christian according to the apostle, Paul. Number one is faith in Jesus. You cannot be a Christian unless you put your faith in Jesus. But it is not your faith that saves you. It’s your faith in JESUS that saves you. It’s the object of your faith. You can have a ton of faith but if it is in the wrong thing, it won’t help you a bit.