Archive for June, 2015

Let it Go

Sunday, June 28th, 2015

“Let it Go” is the second segment in the series: I Wish I Wudda, which focuses on managing our regrets with the Word of God. In addition to owning our piece of the regret, we also need to learn to let go of the regret.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1–2, KJV).

Let Go of the Weight and Run the Race

Our regret can be likened unto a circle—those involved in any regret own a piece of the circle. Paul, in our key Scripture, explains our regret “circle” is part of our life’s race. We are instructed to lay aside every weight and run. If we’re going to make it to the finish line, and successfully manage our regrets in life, we have to get rid of excess baggage.

Too many times we think our race is too difficult to run. We’re blind to the fact we’re carrying around the weight of our regrets, and our regrets are placing an unnecessary burden on us. If we continue to carry the weight of our regret, it will hurt us over time. With the same strength, effort, and decision that we used to pick up the weight of regret, we need to lay our weight back down.

Let Go of the Bad and Pick Up the Good

When King David was running from Saul in the wilderness, he came upon shepherds taking care of herds of sheep. The sheep, as well as the workers, were those of a wealthy man named Nabal. David and his men provided peace and protection to Nabal’s estate (I Samuel 25:7). After a while, David asked Nabal to provide food for his army. Nabal refused and this made David angry (I Samuel 25:8–13). David prepared himself and his army to pour out judgment on Nabal and his entire household.

Sometimes bad things will happen in life, but they are only present to help us acknowledge the blessings God has already bestowed upon us (I Corinthians 11:19). We need to stop obsessing over what was wrong, and start celebrating what is right in our life. We should let go of the bad and focus on the good!

Scripture tells us we can be angry, but to sin not. Above all, we should not give place to the devil (Ephesians 4:26–27). It is okay to be briefly angry with our regret, but we need to let go of that anger so we do not provide an avenue for the devil to come into our life. The devil wants us to focus on our regret, wallow in anger, and step outside of God’s will. We cannot allow our regrets to drag us down!

Let Go of the Past and Focus on the Future

Paul admonished the church to run the race that was set before them—the road in front of them. When we manage our regrets, we spend far too much time looking back to the past. We cannot live our life walking backwards or continually looking back over our shoulder, dwelling on the past regret. The devil wants to remind us what’s in our past instead of telling us to focus on our future. God knows what’s in store for us a year, a month, a day, and an hour ahead. There is blessing available in our future, but not in our past regret!

The road behind us is the wrong road to follow. If we choose to take this path, the devil will join us, and encourage us to continue down that road. That road isn’t the road that will lead us to God. Paul instructed Timothy to help people recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are “…taken captive by him at his will” (II Timothy 2:25–26, KJV). We cannot allow the devil to have so much influence over the way we manage our regrets. We need to look to Scripture, to God’s calling, and continue to push forward in Him!

Let Go of What Can Hurt Us

When Nabal refused to bless King David and his men, his wife (Abigail) prepared a meal, and went out to meet David and his men. She told David not to let Nabal influence him to do something that wasn’t worthwhile (I Samuel 25:25). Abigail warned David that not letting go would be a grief to him and an offense to his own heart (I Samuel 25:31). Any weak-willed person can hold a grudge and try to retaliate, but it takes real spiritual character to abstain and allow for God to complete His perfect work.

We need to let go and look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Paul tells us that Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him. He was given the authority to lay down His life for sin to gain a relationship with us! We should follow Christ—let go and gain joy!

Letting Go

The only true way we can deal with our regrets, is to find our way to an altar of prayer, ask God for His forgiveness, and for His blood to wash us as white as snow. It is when we repent and let go of our regret (our baggage) that He will give us the strength to walk in newness of life and to rise above the bondage of our regret.

Be the Man

Sunday, June 21st, 2015

Jesus is the Bridge

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

A short while ago during music practice, someone asked, “What’s the bridge?” The response was simple: Jesus. The implied meaning of “Jesus is the bridge” spiraled the team into a period of comedic remarks. (Musicians are a different breed.) After a while, someone casually said, “That’ll preach.” And, you know what? It did.

The concept of Jesus being a “bridge” consumed me. The more I reflected on it, the more I realized the volumes of truth and promises residing in that one phrase. When considering an actual bridge, we understand it to be a structure that carries or creates a path across a waterway, ravine, obstacle, etc. The possible composition of a bridge’s structure, design, and function is numerous.

When I think about everything our Lord and Savior does for us, I can draw many conclusions—but there is one overwhelming theme. Jesus truly is our bridge. Just as we could say “God is…,” and fill in the blank, I believe the same holds true if we say, “Jesus is the bridge…” We will never find a situation or occasion Jesus isn’t fit for. He is perfect, His way is perfect, and His word is perfect. He is the one solution to all things. His involvement and application in our life as a bridge is endless (Philippians 4:19).

In the onslaught of daily life, Jesus carries us through every situation. He literally creates a bridge across the ocean of spiritual and physical turmoil to secure us on dry land (Isaiah 43:19). When we stand on Jesus and His word, our feet will always follow a guarded bridge that will guide us over spiritual ravines, troubled waters, and elements of destruction.

The devil wants nothing more than for God’s children to walk on a rickety bridge of his own design, causing us to plummet to a never-ending abyss of darkness of no escape. But, Jesus creates a covered bridge for His children to traverse day-by-day, making a way for us continue on unscathed to reach our next destination and blessing in Him (Psalms 121:7–8).

To have the privilege of experiencing these blessings, an even greater bridge had to be erected. In the Garden of Eden, mankind created a chasm a sin, which separated us from the Lord. Nothing could bridge that gap until Jesus. Jesus became our sin, died on a cruel and rugged cross, and became the ultimate sacrifice. With His death, He became the permanent bridge over the canyon of sin.

Today, Jesus functions as our high priest (Hebrews 4:15) and is our mediator (I Timothy 2:5). The word mediator is from the Greek word mesités, which means a go-between, restorer of peace, reconciler, and intercessor. Jesus is a constant bridge—interceding on our behalf every time that we pray!

In life, Jesus is more than just a bridge to a song—He’s more than just a segue to navigate from point A to point B. Without Him, we couldn’t take a step, live our life, or have being. Jesus is our heartbeat and reason for living.

I pray we can all experience a revelation in who our true bridge is in life—Jesus Christ. If we know and follow “the Bridge,” we will always find ourselves walking on a pathway with a firm and rooted foundation, unshakeable strength, and unstoppable power. And, that “Bridge” will be the straight and narrow road that will surely lead us to our eternal reward.

Own It

Sunday, June 14th, 2015

“Own It” is the first segment this series called I Wish I Wudda, which focuses on managing our regrets with the Word of God. Everyone in life has regrets. We think about our regrets in one frame of mind: I wish I would have…

Understanding Our Regrets

In our walk with God, our goal is to manage our current regrets. Regret-management helps us to eliminate future regrets (we know history will always repeat itself). Living for God is not just about “knowing better”—anyone can memorize the rules. But, living for God is applying the Word of God and then living by it. Scripture tells us to be doers of the Word and not just hearers (James 1:22–23).

Regret in its simplest form is something we knew, we saw, but we “didn’t.” We cannot undo our regrets in life as hard as we may try. We could have avoided them all together—we knew right and choose not to do it. If we choose to do wrong (when we know what’s right), it’s sin…pure and simple (James 4:17). Sin will always be at the root of every regret.

Managing Our Regrets

Own Our Part of the Failure

In order to have peace about our problem, we need to own our piece of the problem. We see our failures and say we were only partially responsible for them; we always try to blame them on other people, circumstances, and the like. We are dishonest about our regrets because we’re all related to Adam and Eve—and they invented regrets.

God wanted to bless His children, provide everything they needed, and to live in His presence (Genesis 1:28–2:25). Adam and Eve had one rule to abide by to stay away from guilt and shame, but they couldn’t obey this one rule. We look at them and think obedience to one rule would have been so easy, but in all honesty, we can’t keep our own rules, let alone God’s.

We need to own our part of our failure (the piece of the problem). We failed purely because we saw something good in the bad. We acted upon that “good” and found ourselves in regret. Eve looked upon what was bad (eating the fruit) and saw it was good (to be like a god) (Genesis 3:1–6). Just like Eve, we made our choice because it benefitted us. Instead of listening to God, and avoiding something that was bad, we earned something (sin) to manage for the rest of our life (Romans 5:12).

Stop Hiding

When people don’t manage their regrets, they have a tendency to hide. In the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, their eyes were open, and they realized they were naked. They decided to try to “hide” from God (Genesis 3:9–10). When Adam sinned, he realized his guilt and he didn’t want to face his Creator. It made more sense to Adam to run from God instead of run to the One who could help him.

God asked Adam “…Where art thou?” (Genesis 3:9, KJV). God will always come looking for us when we mess up because he wants to confront us. God knew that Adam and Eve had eaten of the tree, but God wanted Adam to confess. God wants us to take part in our regret. If we are to manage our regrets, we need to stop hiding, become honest with ourselves, take inventory of what we’ve done, realize it’s us, and ask for forgiveness!

Stop Blaming Others

Adam blamed Eve for putting him in his current circumstance (Genesis 3:12). He didn’t take responsibility for his sin (regret). When we start to blame others for our regrets, we restrict our future in God. Blaming others is a form of idolatry. We put our own interest first before allowing God to try to fix us. God came to Adam to confront Him and to help him, but Adam wanted to push off God’s advance to his wife, Eve. When we blame others, we also accept a lot of baggage that God never intended for us to carry. That sin will introduce fear, guilt, and shame into our life, and we would rather carry it instead of letting go and giving it to God.

When we sin, we have chosen to do wrong. The decision process for doing wrong is the same for doing right. Instead of blaming others, we need to get right with God and allow Him to cleanse and purify us. Scripture tells us that “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8, KJV). There is significant relationship between purity and clarity. The closer we are with God, the clearer we’ll see what we’re facing and our true motives.

Why We Don’t “Own It”

We don’t like to own our regrets because they’re embarrassing. We never want anyone to know the truth. We also don’t like to own our regrets because they are too emotional for us to handle. We don’t ever want to push our emotions out in front of us. However, if we don’t own up to our regrets, and do not manage these regrets appropriately with the Word, they will destroy us spiritually.

Just Own It

King David made a huge mistake in his life when he committed adultery with Bathsheba, and used his position, power, authority to have her husband killed to cover up his scandal. God loved David enough to send a preacher into his life to confront him. When his sin was uncovered, David didn’t try to blame someone else: he chose to own it. David wrote Psalms 51 and therein acknowledged his sin and asked God for forgiveness.

Today, we can make the decision to take our own regret and claim ownership of it. We can take it to God at an altar of prayer, and he will take that regret from us and cover it with His blood. We don’t have to live with regret today. We can ask God to help us use the same power He gave us to live above sin to own our regret. Once we do this, we can start a new journey that’s regret-free in Jesus.

Lessons from Isaiah

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

“Lessons from Isaiah” is the fifth and final part of our Profiles on Prophets series, which examines the lessons and prophecies of Isaiah. Isaiah was considered one of the Major Prophets in the Bible, and he prophesied many details of the life of John the Baptist, the birth of Jesus and His ministry, as well as other profound concepts that outline the judgments and mercy of God.

Lessons on God’s Judgment

Uzziah

Isaiah 6:1–8 is a key setting of Scripture, which begins with, “…the year that king Uzziah died…” (Isaiah 6:1, KJV). Uzziah was a king over Judah, and was very rich, had a strong army, and a large kingdom. He became prideful and decided to usurp God’s direction, and took it upon himself to burn incense to the Lord. Because he ignored the warnings of the priests, the Lord, and due to his prideful state, the Lord struck him with leprosy (II Chronicles 6:16).

It is here in this setting of Scripture where we read that God caused an earthquake to come upon the land at the moment of Uzziah’s disobedience (which also struck fear in the hearts of godly men into the future [Zechariah 14:5]). Isaiah describes the power of God, the smoke of His presence, and how he realized how inferior he was to the Lord of Glory. Isaiah teaches us that God will pour out judgment, but there is an opportunity for reconciliation and salvation in Him.

Hezekiah

The King of Assyria decided to come up to war against King Hezekiah (Isaiah 37:11–17). The king of Assyria blasphemed against the Lord and told King Hezekiah that God wasn’t all powerful; that God was the same as the idols other countries worshipped. King Hezekiah didn’t need to prove the Lord’s power, because the Lord displayed His power via destruction. Overnight, God killed 185,000 men of the Assyrian army because of the proclamation of their King (Isaiah 37:36).

While King Hezekiah was on the Lord’s side for a while, he became wrapped up in his earthly wealth and decided to parade the King of Babylon around his house, showing off his riches. The Lord was displeased with Hezekiah and the prophet told him his riches would be carried off to Babylon and his sons would pay for his prideful actions (Isaiah 39). When we step outside our boundaries as a human or try to take credit for what the Lord has blessed us with, God will pour out His judgment.

Lessons on God’s Mercy

Hezekiah

Before King Hezekiah became wrapped up in pride, the prophet came to him and told him to get his house in order because the Lord was going to take his life (Isaiah 38:1). King Hezekiah went to prayer immediately and prayed so fervently, God extended mercy. The Lord sent the prophet to tell King Hezekiah that He would extend his life by 15 years (Isaiah 38:5). When we humble ourselves before God and share the desires of our hearts, the Lord will hear us and bless us. When we have a heart after God, His Word, and His will, God will be apt to bless those who have a relationship with Him.

Our Savior

Isaiah prophesied about the coming of a Savior in the midst of the sin of mankind. He foretold the coming of Jesus more than 700 years before His birth (Isaiah 7:13–14; 9:1–7). He told the people that Jesus would save them from their transgressions (Isaiah 53:5). Through Isaiah, God identified Himself as our ultimate Savior (Isaiah 43:10–11). God knew from the foundation of the world that mankind would need a Savior! Even during the life of Isaiah, God was speaking to His people about the way of Salvation and what would come for future generations. God even spoke of a plan to dwell within His people, through the infilling of the Holy Ghost (Isaiah 28:11–12), which we all have an opportunity to experience today.

Final Lessons

Through learning about a few prophets of the Old Testament, we can learn above all that God teaches us lessons throughout His Word. We can take those lessons, apply them to our life, and learn to walk in His ways. These prophets were ordinary men. But, they choose to have an extraordinary relationship with the Lord. God shows us that He is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). We too can have this close walk with the Lord if we choose, and see great things come from a ministry and relationship with Him.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on June 10, 2015 with guest speaker Brother Jonathan Pierce

The American Standard

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

While the independence of our country is celebrated each year on July 4, there is another important day of the year that goes unnoticed by most. Flag Day, celebrated annually on June 14, was established to celebrate our Nation’s flag—the grand, old stars and stripes.

On this day, citizens and governmental bodies across the United States of America are encouraged to fly our Nation’s colors. Flag Day is an opportunity to celebrate what our flag represents.

Flags typically exemplify an idea or an ideal. Patriotism is personified in showing respect to a flag which stands to represent confidence, power, loyalty, and commitment to that idea or ideal. Throughout history, flags were displayed by a nation during battles to evoke fear in the hearts of their enemies. A flag represents a nation’s power and reputation.

The American flag has stood the test of time. It has been flown in the heat of battle, for celebratory occasions, and proudly on the property of institutions and citizens all over America on a daily basis. It has served as our beacon of hope, a light in the darkness of pending victory, and flies with the power and prestige of our Nation.

The American flag has set a standard for what America is all about: what we as a Nation can do, what we’ve accomplished, and where we’re headed. That standard holds great significance for our country.

The Bible speaks of another standard in our life, even more significant and powerful than the American flag:

So shall they 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 shall lift up a standard against him (Isaiah 59:19, KJV).

The Lord of Glory holds all power in His hands (Colossians 1:17), can do all things (Ephesians 3:20), and supplies our every need (Philippians 4:19). His presence alone will elicit terror in the hearts of those who oppose Him, but awe and wonder in the hearts of those who serve Him.

Standard in this setting of Scripture is from the Hebrew word nus, which means to be displayed. Regardless of the situation and the enemy at hand, the Lord is our banner who will be lifted up high. His presence alone speaks of His power and might.

When the Adversary thinks that he has defeated us, Jesus will appear and demonstrate His power. His mere presence will retard the advance of our foes! The enemy will flee from us when they see the power and the presence of the One true God that we serve. Scripture tells us that God will come to our aid like a rushing stream driven by the wind. The enemy will be defeated and we will exit victoriously from battle!

On Flag Day, we cannot forget that we have more than one standard as a Nation. And, of our Nation’s standards, there is one that is the greatest! The ultimate power of our Nation goes well beyond the American flag, but to the Creator and Ruler of the universe—the Lord of Glory.

Our true standard doesn’t have to be flown on a flag pole, tied to the awning of a porch, or knotted to a stake thrust into the earth. Jesus is alive and flies true in our hearts and minds. All we have to do is call on Him, and our true banner will appear.

What are You Looking For?

Sunday, June 7th, 2015

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him… (Genesis 12:1–4, KJV).

Abraham (Abram) was called by God. Unlike most of us today, when God spoke, Abraham listened. Abraham believed in what he had heard from the Lord—if he walked with God, He would bless him tremendously.

Abraham was called to leave the land or Ur, which was an idolatrous nation (Joshua 24:2). The Lord called Abraham to live a life outside the bondage of idol worship—to live a new life serving a living God. Abraham was specifically chosen from an entire nation to complete a work for the Lord.

Our relationship with God didn’t begin from our own accord. God called us, just like Abraham. Scripture tells us in I Peter 2:9 “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an  holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (KJV). When God calls us, we need to answer.

Abraham was obedient to heed the call of the Lord. We may wonder why God choose Abraham. Was Abraham like the rest of his family, or what he different? Was he satisfied with the idol worship and the mundane everyday occurrences, or was he looking for something supernatural? Abraham may not have known it, but he was looking for an experience with God.

Today, God is calling us out from a world of darkness.  Are we looking for Him or to Him? When the Lord speaks in His still, small voice, are we taking action? If we choose to respond to the Lord, but aren’t 100% committed to Him, we may find ourselves with just a momentary experience. But, if we serve the Lord with our entire heart, mind, and soul, we’ll find more than just an experience; we’ll gain a supernatural relationship with Him.

Scripture notes that Abraham responded in faith “when he was called to go out into a place he should after receive for an inheritance…” (Hebrews 11:8, KJV—emphasis added). Abraham soon learned he wasn’t looking to God alone, but the promises that were available to Him through God. He was looking for a blessing. We cannot be so consumed by worldly things that we do not seek after our inheritance. We need to remember that our treasure is laid up in heaven!

Through Abraham’s journey, he found himself in a few different predicaments.  Every so often he would lose sight of the Lord, His promises, and His blessings. The devil will try to do anything to cause a child of God to stop looking to God and start focusing on our problems. We need to remember that God will provide our every need and deliver us from every situation if we call out to Him. We should look to God to solve our problem and not find ways to amplify our issue.

Can we be like Abraham today and look to the Lord? Can we build an altar to the Lord and make a commitment to serve Him? Can we keep our eyes on Him? We can make a decision today to open our ears to hear Him, eyes to see Him, and hearts to receive Him. When we get completely focused on the Lord, we will know what we’re looking for.

The Sense Found in My Struggles

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

We will all face struggles in life. And, it’s our human nature to ask God, “Why?” We may not always know the purpose of our struggles, but He will always give us the ability to emerge from our struggles triumphantly.

The Line Between Our Heart and Hardship

Paul faced many hardships in his life, and one in particular he referred to as his “thorn in the flesh” (II Corinthians 12:7). He asked the Lord three times to remove this particular issuance and God said, “My grace is sufficient for thee” (II Corinthians 12:9, KJV). Paul finally realized through all of his struggles:

…will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in my infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong (II Corinthians 12:9–10, KJV).

When we examine the story of Job in Scripture, Job lost his family, possessions, and faced bodily injury all because the devil was trying to prove that he didn’t have a strong relationship with God. In the midst of Job’s struggles, we can learn one key point:

…Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all of this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly (Job 1:21–22, KJV).

Job acknowledged that God had sovereign authority over everything He had placed in his life. God had every right to give and to take away. Both of these men—Paul and Job—drew a line in the sand in their life before the “troubles” showed up. They knew where they stood with God and the relationship they had with Him. If we do not determine where we stand in our relationship with God before hardship appears, we will not be able to draw a line afterward.

Three Origins of Life’s Struggles

Life in General

Scripture tells us that God rains on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). Everyone will get wet whether we like it or not. Fewer people are able to withstand the everyday struggles life brings. If our relationship with God isn’t strong enough to handle the minute crises of every life, we won’t be able to worship Him and stand strong in our faith when the big issues appear.

Our Own Vices

We’re all humans, and therefore, we aren’t perfect. We can’t always blame all problems on life’s circumstances, the devil, or even God—we are sometimes the one and only culprit. Paul said, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Romans 7:18, KJV). God’s Spirit needs to take control of what our flesh (which is bad) has always reigned over.

The Devil

The devil will use any instance, opportunity, and person to manipulate us and our walk with the Lord. Scripture tells us “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12, KJV). The root cause of our struggles is not always of this world—but caused in the spiritual realm. But, we are promised in Scripture that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:35–39). We are more than conquerors over our struggles because the Lord is on our side!

The Benefits of Struggles

Struggles Make a Difference

God may place a struggle in our life because sometimes, that is the only act that will make a difference in our walk with Him.  If we’re not making time for the Lord, God will cause a situation to arise in our life to draw us closer to Him. Struggles are meant to prove positive results in our life. Not everything that is good for us will feel good, be easy to endure, and be something we want to happen in our life. When we look at our situation with God’s perspective—everything is meant for our good (Romans 8:28)—we’ll see the benefit of it.

Struggles Strengthen Us

Paul said his struggle would strengthen him—life struggles would make him strong spiritually with the Lord (II Corinthians 12:10). We need to learn to depend upon God in the weak times and give Him the glory when He brings us out. When others see how the Lord has brought us through a situation, He will get that glory. We must remember that the glory that’s at the end of our struggle is worth the thorn in the middle.

Struggles Bring Better Results

If we don’t go through struggles in life, we won’t have the proper outlook on life and our spiritual walk. King David faced many hardships during his rule over Israel, but because of adversity, he spent much time inquiring of the Lord and developing a close walk with Him. I Chronicles 29 depicts the end of David’s life as one of riches and honor. Conversely, David’s son, King Solomon, who had everything given to him on a silver platter, had a negative outlook on life and ungodly mindset. He was not a man after God’s on heart. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon mentions his view “under the sun.” He never looked up to the Lord and had a “horizontal view” of life.

Three Ways Struggles Advance Spiritual Health

Struggles Help Us Be Honest About Ourselves

If we are going to overcome a struggle in life, we need to be honest with ourselves. When we come face-to-face with our own spiritual condition, we will learn to stop justifying our behavior and turn to the Lord. David, after engaging with a married woman, killing her husband, and trying to hide his scandalous affair, repents and acknowledges what he’s done wrong (Psalms 51). When we admit to our sins and ask for forgiveness, God will come in, wash us clean, and create in us a new heart and mindset.

Struggles Push Us to Depend on God

When we face a struggle that is greater than the day-to-day bumps in the road, we learn what we can’t handle on our own. Our greater situations cause us to look to God to lean on Him for resolution. God has promised to fight our battles for us. We will drown in the sea of life’s situations if we don’t turn to God and allow Him to forge through the storm on our behalf.

Struggles Build our Faith

We don’t know how much faith we have until we’ve been through the fire. Peter tells us that when we’re tried with fire, there is much joy ahead (I Peter 1:6–7). We need to endure a trial for a short while—one day there will be rejoicing; our struggles are never without benefit. Trials show evidence of God’s power and faithfulness and also speak volumes to others around us about how great God is!

Seeing the Sense

Our struggle may not just be for our benefit. David, in all of his struggles, attracted the attention of some unruly and downtrodden men. After observing David’s relationship with the Lord, and God’s mighty hand at work in his life, these men emerged as mighty men (II Samuel 23:8). David was able to influence others to become servants of Christ and to obtain a relationship with God on their own. Job emerged from his situation with two times the wealth and family he had before entering his trial. Paul continued to move on and won many hearts to the Lord through his ministry. There will always be sense to our struggles. We may have to wait for it all to make sense, but in the end, it all will be worth it.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on June 3, 2015

Postcards to God

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

As we approach the summer months, many people will be flitting away on relaxing vacations. Travel plans can be anywhere from mini weekend getaways a few hours from our residence, cross-country vacations, or even hopping continents for a distant country excursion! Whether we’re traveling alone or with family, there will always be someone “left behind” at home who we want to check-in with—assuring our safety and enjoyment while on our trip.

Growing up, it was the norm for people to purchase a postcard from their travel locale and mail it home to loved ones. It cross-functioned as a status checkup and a sentimental souvenir for the recipient. In this digital age, we now send quick text messages to those back home, update our Facebook statuses, or snap a quick photo to Instagram. Either way, we like to “check in” with how we’re doing.

As we embark on our summer travels, how often do we check-in with God? We can get too caught up in the enjoyment of being on vacation that we accidentally take a vacation from God. The late night on the lake leads to a mid-morning alarm, and after rising late, we head out for the next event scheduled on our itinerary. We missed scheduling the most important appointment of the day!

Scripture is very simple in stating that we should “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17, KJV). It is through prayer that we are able to communicate with God. Obviously we cannot pray every second of the day, but we need to have a mindset of prayer. We need to keep our focus on the Lord, and yes, spend time in prayer with Him each and every day.

Sometimes this “mindset of prayer” functions as our check-in throughout the day. Our hearts and our minds turn to Him in thanks for the day, the ability to be on a relaxing vacation, the opportunity to have new people to witness to, etc.

When we embark on a vacation we leave friends and family behind, but we can’t do the same when it comes to God. God doesn’t take a vacation from His role as Lord and Savior of our life; He never leaves or forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5). There are some friends who would be devastated if we left for a trip and a week later came home without speaking to them once. Or, even worse, we didn’t bring them a souvenir to say—I was thinking about you! How can we vacate our minds of God to come home a week later and expect to pick up our relationship with Him where we left off a week ago…or more?

Honestly, God wants more from us than a quick postcard status or Facebook check-in. This isn’t a concept exclusive to our vacations, but is something God wants from us each and every day. God is looking to have a relationship with His children that goes beyond the “Thanks God for the strength to make it through today” status or “Isn’t the sunset beautiful? God really has quite the paintbrush.”

In a sense, we need to revert back to the old ways of letter writing—composing lengthy correspondences to God where we think and ponder over each heart-felt word. Can our relationship with Him be more than just a postcard? Can it be more than just a momentary passing of our status in the now?

This summer, when we’re on the go, enjoying creation, let’s take some time with the Creator. When we’ve spent some time with Him receiving the true refreshing (Isaiah 28:12), how much more relaxing do you think our vacation can get?