Archive for April, 2018

FaithFULL: Faithful to Follow

Sunday, April 29th, 2018

And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me (Ruth 1:16–17, KJV).

What We’re Following

Direction is a powerful thing in our life. We make goals and follow directions to help us attain them. Even the most aimless among us will still follow after a direction. We live according to direction because God made us this way—He created us to follow, to worship Him. God also created every man and woman with a measure of faith. Our faith and our ability to follow work together in life. And, this is what we see in the life of Ruth. In our journey through this series, we must all ask ourselves what is it we’re following, and is it worth following?

Changing Direction

When Ruth considered her mother-in-law, she expressed heartfelt words. This is what she spoke after Naomi when she begged her not to leave. She wanted to take part in Naomi’s life: her travels, her people, her home, and her God. Not much is said about Naomi, but Ruth was drawn to her. This is a strong indication of the life she lived as a reflection of her God.

Because of Naomi, Ruth wanted become a worshipper of Jehovah. She desired to leave everything she knew because she had faith there was something greater in worshipping the Lord. After comparing her experience with Naomi’s, she changed direction—from a life of idol-worship to a life of worshipping the one, true God. She was full of enough faith to recognize what was missing from her life and make a change.

Serving the Lord

Ruth’s native people were Moabites, and they served the idol Chemosh. Idol were everywhere in her life—idols that couldn’t speak or do anything real. We might think we’re much different than Ruth, and we don’t serve idols, but there just may be idols in our life. What disappoints us? What do we complain about the most? Where’s our sanctuary?

We will find what we long for could be something that’s taking us away from God’s presence. Our greatest disappointment or loss could be something that’s our wrong focus. The focus of our complaint could be an unknown idol. Where we run when we’re upset and frustrated, when it’s not God, can be our idol. Most of all, we don’t even know it. We need to have enough faith to serve a living God and not anything else in this world.

Times of Hardship

Ruth was met with much hardship in life. She was living during a famine, didn’t have a lot of provision, lost her husband, and truly didn’t have anyone to care for her. In the midst of her hardship, she had enough faith to turn to a God she didn’t even know, but realized He was better than her current circumstances and could bring her out. She decided to follow something that was worth following.

Jesus tells the church not to lay up treasures in earth which can be easily corrupted and pass away, but to seek for treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19–20). Do we have enough faith to follow after the things that won’t pass away, things that are eternal in the Lord just like Naomi? Do we want to be filled with things that last?

Follow Until the End

Ruth wasn’t willing to extend her faith for just a short time. She was willing to die following in her faith (Ruth 1:17). We must make up our minds today to exercise enough faith in our life to last us our lifetime here on earth. No matter what happens, no matter what people say, we must serve the Lord no matter what. Let’s be full of faith.

The Transformation that Comes with Information

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:9–10, KJV).

Context of the Book of Colossians

Paul spent a great deal of time in prison during his lifetime, but it wasn’t the typical prison institution of the 21st century. Paul had various freedoms: he could have visitors, move around, and write letters. Colossians, Philippians, Ephesians, and Philemon are known as Paul’s prison letters.

Colossae was a trading center in the middle east, and was a crossroads of ideas and religions. There were a few churches established in the area as there was a heavy Jewish population that fled there due to persecution about 200 years before Christ’s birth. Epaphras, a follower of Paul, established the church at Colossae (Colossians 1:7), but Paul was writing a letter to them to dispose of a heresy that was surfacing within: Gnosticism.

Transformation with Information

Paul’s main thesis of Colossians was for the church 1) to be filled with God’s wisdom and to have understanding and 2) to produce good fruit as they grew in their knowledge of the Lord (Colossians 1:9–10). Many people today aren’t versed in God’s Word. If they are, they don’t understand the Word or haven’t applied it to their life. Knowledge of God is not a secret only few may discover. All are called to have God’s truths revealed to him/her and to transform his/her life (Colossians 1:25–26).

Knowledge isn’t meant to come into our life without changing us. There is work on our part after hearing to Word. God wants to live in us and thereby change us (Colossians 1:27). A believer should be changed when they encounter a revelation from God; it must change their purpose in life and walk with Him. The ultimate change in will be the fruit we bear.

Purpose of Prayer

Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae is praying a specific prayer with a specific purpose. He wants the church to:

  • Understand what God wants them to do
  • Gain spiritual wisdom
  • Walk in a way that honors and pleases God
  • Produce every kind of good fruit
  • Learn to know God and to do better
  • Be strengthened by God’s glorious power
  • Have great endurance and patience
  • Be filled with joy
  • Give thanks always

Ultimately, Paul wanted the church to be filled. This is where Gnosticism comes into play, the heresy Paul was addressing.

Gnosticism

Gnosticism valued the accumulation of knowledge. However, the premise of this ideology was the belief that a “lesser god” created the world we live in and was responsible for all the sin, sadness, trials, etc. we face day-to-day. This belief system coexisted with Christianity as Gnostics pitched their doctrine as a supplement to other religions. Their stance was that you could be a Jew and obtain a “fullness” with Gnosticism. Gnostics believed if you abided their doctrine, you would be “complete” in whatever religion you followed. Furthermore, Gnostics believed Jesus was just an illusion or that he wasn’t the true God incarnate.

What is evident to us today, and to the Apostles then, is that Gnosticism is wrong. The Apostles confronted this false teaching; they preached anyone who claims Jesus isn’t God has the spirit of antichrist (I John 4:3). Paul noted all treasures of wisdom and knowledge are only in Jesus Christ, and in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:2–8). Ultimately, knowledge has no worth unless it leads to a changed life and right living.

Paul’s Teachings

Paul taught the church that God’s motive was not what the Gnostics taught. God’s motive was redemption (Colossians 1:12–14). When God creates something, it’s to make up for a deficit in our life. God creates in us so we can be more like Him—this is our life’s pursuit.

The wisdom of God will help educate us about what’s true, right, and holy. Throughout our walk, God will constantly renew us in the knowledge of Him (Colossians 3:9–10). Through this process we need to 1) understand what’s in us that’s not like God, 2) identify what’s in our life that we need to change, and 3) adjust.

Much of this happens through prayer and reading the Word, which is why we must set our affections on things above (Colossians 3:1–4). The fullness of the truth and wisdom of God should change our lifestyle. But, this transformation isn’t automated—it takes work from us and a desire to be like our Lord and Savior (Colossians 1:21–23). When we kill the desires of our flesh, we can make our lifestyle match on the outside what God has changed on our inside (Colossians 3:5–8).

Practicality in Life

Gnosticism didn’t have any life-application and didn’t make sense for the believer. Therefore, Paul starts to dispense the wisdom and knowledge of God, directing the church in the way it needs to be transformed. Paul wanted the church to understand God’s instruction will not just cause a change in the individual but the world around them as well (Colossians 3:11). When it comes to the Kingdom of God, He’s in everyone and He changes us.

Throughout the book of Colossians, practical examples are provided to apply to daily living. Paul addresses the need to love, forgive, have patience, and be fruitful in everything we do (Colossians 2:12–15). He discusses relationships and how wives, husbands, children, parents, and servants should behave and interact with one another (Colossians 2:18–22). Into Chapters 3 and 4, Paul also talks about the improvement to our prayer life, testimony, and our speech.

The bottom line Paul wanted the church to understand was the transformative power of God’s knowledge in our life. When we apply that knowledge, we will ultimately see a change in every part of us. This is God’s ultimate desire for the church.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on April 25, 2018 with Pastor Nave

Separated for Song

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

On Sunday mornings, most of us just roll out of bed at the last minute, rush to get ourselves and our children ready, speed to church, and arrive just minutes before the service begins. We enjoy the presence of God moving throughout the worship service, devour the Word, and relish in the love of God pouring over us during the altar call.

But, do we ever stop to think about what’s happened earlier that day or even the previous week to allow us to enjoy such a powerful, anointed service?

Moreover David and the captains of the host separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals (I Chronicles 25:1, KJV).

In the Old Testament, King David separated individuals for a specific service. This wasn’t a church service to attend away from the rest of the people. David appointed church members for a servicing ministry. This ministry would be comprised of musical instruments and song, and they would serve God and the people of Israel through music. He was sanctioning a music ministry team.

It’s easy to think about music just being a “part” of the church service. People blessed with the ability to play instruments and to sing haven’t just found an outlet to use a talent. They’re serving in a specialized ministry created and sanctioned by God.

God has anointed these individuals to be able to cultivate an atmosphere for His presence to dwell. This is why when we walk into the house of God, we feel His presence and desire to lift up praises to Him. Long before we’ve ever stepped foot into the church, the music ministry team has been practicing—singing and worshipping God and getting His attention. They’re doing on the hard work so that we can reap the benefits!

King David told the music ministry team their ministry would be wrought with the prophesying of harps, psalteries, and cymbals. Our music ministers are speakers of the Word of God, proclaiming His truth through music and song. If the Word is God Himself (John 1:1), our music ministers are loosing His presence every time they praise in song. This why we can come into church on Sunday morning and know God’s presence is already there.

This Sunday is music minister appreciation day. I’m not only thankful for the lovely presence of God in our church services, but I’m thankful for the music ministry team that works hard to help perpetuate His presence. Let’s take time this Sunday to honor our music ministers. They’ve been called and chosen to do a great work in God’s Kingdom and in our local churches.

Thank you to all our music ministers for prophesying the Word of God through music and song. The church is blessed because of your ministry and sacrifice.

Are You Caesar’s or God’s?

Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it. And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s. And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him (Mark 12:13–17, KJV).

Ulterior Motives

Jesus knew the Pharisees and the Herodians had something up their sleeves when they both approached Him. Two groups, normally at odds, were working together to create a scandal; they were trying to turn the public support from Jesus back to them. These religious groups were building up Jesus as a good man, one who always spoke God’s truth. But, after building expectations, they turned the tables and questioned Jesus about taxes.

Based on Jesus’ answer, the Pharisees and the Herodians thought they had backed Him into a corner. If Jesus embraced taxation, it would put Him at odds with His followers. But, if He denounced taxation, He would be noted as a terrorist figure.

Image of Jesus Christ

Jesus asked to see a Roman coin of which had the face of Caesar. Whoever’s face was on currency at the time was in power. The Jews resisted anything with imagery because they were fearful of God’s law against idolatry and graven images (Exodus 20:4). But, Jesus was trying to demonstrate the authority of Caesar vs. God’s.

There is only one image we should have in our mind, Jesus Christ. He is the image of the invisible God. Whatever image is in our life is the one in which we submit ourselves to. This is why idolatry is bad: people submit themselves to an authority other than the Lord.

Made in His Image

God created man in His image so we would have dominion over the sea, the air, and the land (Genesis 1:26–27). God created us in His image, not in Caesar’s; therefore, we should give to Caesar what’s his and unto God what’s God. We are to be in submission to God and to serve and worship Him. We have an image of Him in our life. There are some things God never intended for us to give Caesar (the world).

We struggle with the image of God in our life because it has been marred by the world. God formed us in the clay, and we are “pottery” in a sense. We become chipped, cracked, and married by the things of this world; sin has twisted the authority of God’s image in our life. We need to be restored and renewed by the Holy Spirit working in our life so people see the original image of Jesus in us again!

Which Inscription Do We Bear?

We must ask ourselves a critical question today: whose inscription do we bear? Caesar’s or God’s? We need to look to see what inscription is in our heart. God said He would write His laws in our mind and write them on our hearts (Hebrews 8:10). We are called to be an epistle of Jesus Christ, read by all men (II Corinthians 3:2–3). So, what do people see when they look at us? The world or Jesus Christ?

When we’re in the world, the enemy of our soul has chiseled things into us we can’t get away from. He’s put thoughts in our hearts and our mind that are evil, and inscriptions that also tear down the child of God. We’ve given someone the authority to write things in our life and engrave images that was never meant to be there! We belong to God! We bear His image! We need to render unto Him what’s His!

The Proper Seal

Inscriptions are important in our life, and this is why we need to receive the Holy Ghost. Scripture tells us we are given the Holy Spirit as a seal (a guarantee) of God’s promise (II Corinthians 1:21–22). We belong to Jesus and no one else. We were bought with a price (His blood) and sealed with the Holy Spirit. We’re His. That’s all that matters.

So today, we must ask ourselves if we bear the right image, do we have the right seal? God wants to put His imprint on our hearts today (Acts 2:38; Colossians 2:11–13). All we have to do is ask and receive that Holy Spirit of promise. We were made in His image. It’s time we start looking like Him.

Travail Never Ends

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

It was another typical night in our college Biology class. We were learning about something science-related (clearly, I’ve blocked this life-changing experience from my mind). And, over the course of the lesson, our teacher thought it was a good idea to show a birthing video.

Now, I had the general idea of how childbirth worked, but five seconds into the video, all the blood drained from my face and my head started to spin. As I turned to my right, my eyes locked with a gentleman sitting down the lab table from me—and he looked exactly as I did.

We decided childbirth was a horrifying miracle. And, being the only two people in the class that felt (and looked) this way, we became kindred spirits. That man is now my husband: we bonded over blood, pushing, and violent screaming.

Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child. Who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children (Isaiah 66:7–8, KJV).

Childbirth is long and painful. You can’t see a child birthed without travail. This is true for natural births, and the same for spiritual births: the prophet Isaiah notes there must be travail in Zion to birth souls.

Part of the miracle of childbirth is that after the pain, life emerges. A new soul enters the world. The mother ceases from travail and rests. But, here is where the natural birth process differs from the spiritual birthing process.

Travail never ends in the church. This is hard to comprehend because we know in natural births—when the baby is born—there is no longer a need for the mother to travail. But, Zion (the church) never stops travailing.

We’re all called to be disciple-makers and to win souls for the Lord. This all takes work, countless hours of time and devotion, and we’ll pour our blood, sweat, and tears into a new child of God. We’ll travail over them in prayer, interceding for them before the throne of God. After we’ve worked, and God gives life, a new soul is born into His Kingdom.

But, our travail isn’t over. Travail doesn’t cease, but changes immediately to another new baby. There’s another soul we must travail over. There’s another soul we must be in anguish over. We must travail until another new child is born, and we continue on, over and over again.

It isn’t just my job to travail. And, it’s not just your job to travail. We’re called to travail together in Zion. As I travail to birth souls for the Kingdom, I may need a brief rest to regroup and return to my labor. It’s in these moments fellow-laborers in the Kingdom take turns, helping me push. They’re travailing not only over my child, but over their own children as well. And, when I have some extra strength to give, I’m going to help my brothers and sister travail over their children too.

Childbirth isn’t easy. It is painful. But, it’s a miracle. In the end, we can take joy knowing there’s another soul going to make it to glory. All of heaven rejoices with us. But, remember the harvest is plenty, the laborers are few. God is calling for His people to travail in Zion to birth a few more souls in our last moments before He returns for His church.

It’s not time to rest just yet. It’s time to push. It’s time to work. It’s time to travail.

Outside the Lines

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

It was another ordinary trip in the van to visit our grandparents, and my sister and I were coloring to keep ourselves occupied. There I was, struggling to keep my crayon strokes inside the lines as we traversed over the bumpy highway, until one inadvertent bump jolted my eyesight toward my sister.

Normally, I would have returned my focus to the task at hand, but in that particular moment, I did a double-take. My instantaneous glance became a lingering stare. In a shell-shocked stupor, I stammered out the following phrase to best describe my sister’s activity that day: She—she’s coloring the sky!

My sister, in all her coloring-glory, had a fist-full of crayons. And, with a rainbow of colors, was drawing a bullseye on the ceiling of my parent’s conversion van.

To say my sister was punished is an understatement. We all learned a valuable lesson that day. No matter how artistic we felt, the one surface we would never, ever color again would be a ceiling of any kind. From that moment on, my sister took extreme care to make sure she didn’t color outside the lines on her piece of paper again. And, I became even more meticulous than ever before.

But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee… (I Kings 8:27, KJV).

Culturally, we’ve been taught to stay inside lines. We drive between lines on the road. We write our name between lines on a piece of paper. Lines govern our life. If we cross any line, typically there’s not a positive end-result. (Case in point, my parents never could remove the crayon from the van’s upholstery…)

We’re encouraged to think and act strategically and carefully, and not go outside the boundaries. Don’t get me wrong—there’s a time and a place not to go outside the lines. God even has safeguards in place when it comes to living a righteous life. But, the concept of staying “in the lines” somehow translates into how we think about our God, His power, and other characteristics.

We serve a God who’s the ultimate inventor of coloring outside the lines. The heavens cannot contain Him! His power cannot be measured! He is everlasting to everlasting!

We forget many times living between the lines doesn’t translate to God. We must stop trying to put Him in a box. We can’t limit who He is and what He can do. God’s bigger than anything we can imagine. He exists off the page, off the grid, and on a multitude of surfaces. Furthermore, His Spirit living inside of us isn’t meant to be constrained. The limitless God wants to be limitless inside of us!

My sister had the right idea, although the wrong medium. She wasn’t scared to take a tool in her hand and use it in another dimension. We have the Holy Ghost, and it’s a power working in us that doesn’t have any limits. We’re to use it wherever we can—no matter what the world thinks or tells us.

It’s time for the church to realize we don’t operate in a world of preset lines, and the God we serve doesn’t either. God’s given us the ability to operate outside of every line, reach Him at any time, and color the world wide open.

Can you imagine what the world would look like if we all realized God wasn’t contained to a piece of paper just in front of us? The world is your canvas. God is everywhere. Allow Him to be the big God that He is—and let Him be that big God in you. It’s time to start coloring outside the lines.

The Authority of the Word of God in Your Life

Thursday, April 5th, 2018

The Struggle to Submit

Many of us say we believe in the Word of God, we study it, and know it’s true. But, there are those who still refuse to submit to the Word when it speaks into our life. There’s a difference in saying something is true compared to actually submitting ourselves to that truth. Because of this conundrum, we struggle with the Word having authority in our life. When the Word violates our personal sovereignty—what we’ve decided is right, convenient, or appropriate—disobedience arises. The same occurs when the Word starts to dig into where we’re deficient in our life. It’s easy to submit when we’re stronger in a particular spiritual area, but more difficult where we need help or see a gap.

Submitting to the Authority of God’s Word Means…

Believing it’s Promises and Consequences

We believe in and embrace authority because we believe in consequences. Whether secular or spiritual, this concept holds true. With God, Scripture tells it’s impossible to please God without faith, but He rewards those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). It’s easy to embrace God’s authority His promises say we’ll be healed or He will never leave or forsake us. But, even though it’s more difficult, it’s just as necessary to embrace authority when Scripture warns of consequences. Those who submit themselves to the Word of God will enter into His Kingdom (Matthew 7:21). Those who don’t will be told to depart from Him. When we look at the story of Saul, he didn’t obey the Word of the Lord because he didn’t believe in consequences. He decided to sacrifice instead of obey and kill all the livestock (I Samuel 15:13–26). God is looking for someone who’s completely submitted. We must allow the Word of God to get into every part of our living: decisions, behaviors, etc. If we believe or preach anything different than submission to God’s Word, we will be accursed (Galatians 1:8).

Believing it’s Necessary for Salvation and Christian Living

Salvation doesn’t end after repenting, being baptized in Jesus name, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. All of those elements are just the beginning! With the infilling of the Holy Ghost, we enter another spiritual dimension: we learn to submit to the authority of the Word of God in our life, which means becoming more like Him. Sanctification is a process of being made holy and more like God. It defines a separation resulting in a changed lifestyle. Paul told Timothy to continue in the things he had learned. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness (II Timothy 3:14–17). The Word is present to sanctify us, and we must submit to it so it can complete its perfect work in us. Sanctification is a process; therefore, we must receive the Word with readiness of mind, and make a decision to submit to it’s authority.

Knowing its Identity

The Word of God isn’t just literature—it’s alive! The Word is God Himself (John 1:1). So, if reject the Word, we’re not just rejecting some philosophy, we’re rejecting God. Jesus even noted to the Pharisees they had “searched” the Scriptures, but they truly had rejected what they said they believed because they rejected Him (John 5:39–40). We cannot deny what the Word represents. No prophecy is of any private interpretation. We have a more sure word of prophecy than ever before (II Peter 1:16–21). If we’re going to be able to submit to God’s Word, we have to know what it is.

Going Against this World’s Culture

As humans, we have a tendency to fall to the “norm” of what culture or society is doing. We follow “group think,” and don’t stand out against the crowd. But, submission to God’s authority isn’t going to be mainstream, and we’ll find ourselves pushing against the flow of what the world deems appropriate. We’re admonished in Scripture to be instant in season and out of season and not turn to cunningly devised fables (II Timothy 4:2–4). We must know the God we serve, His truth, and submit to it instead of everything else. We must be careful God doesn’t allow us to believe in false delusions and experience a famine of hearing and understanding His Word (Amos 8:11). Stay true to the Word. Submit to its authority.

3 Teachers that Foster Submission to the Authority of God’s Word

The Bible

The Bible is the foremost authority that will help us learn submission. It uses 2 kinds of truths: explicit and implicit. Explicit statements are very clear (e.g., thou shalt not…). There’s no possibility to misinterpret when God says not to do something or when we should do something. Implicit principles helps us apply concepts to any time, regardless of culture. Being told to ensure no unclean communication comes from our mouth is an implicit principle. The words culture deems inappropriate have changed over time, but the principle still holds true.

God’s Human Leaders

God provided the five-fold ministry to help lead and guide the church: preachers, teachers, apostles, prophets, and evangelists (Ephesians 4:11–15). These leaders have 6 distinct areas in which they help the church and the members within: 1) contribute to the spiritual growth and completion, 2) training for other’s ministry, 3) encouragement, 4) teaching and promoting unity, 5) deepen other’s knowledge of Jesus (giving insight into God’s Word), and 6) providing spiritual stability and protection against false doctrine. Their responsibilities are significant, as they cannot add or take away from God’s Word, they must explain and apply the teachings of Scripture, as well as base all authority on the Word (not personal preferences or opinions). All of these members of the five-fold ministry play an important role in the spiritual development of the church, and help with submission to God’s authority.

Holy Spirit

The Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit) will never contradict the Word of God. Scripture teaches us that God is a Spirit, He is the Word, and He will never contradict Himself. The anointing of the Holy Ghost will live in us and help us learn and follow truth as He has taught us (John 16:13I John 2:27). We have a built-in teacher to help us follow God’s authority!

Improper Alternatives to the Word of God

We cannot submit to tradition instead of truth. This is not an option for the child of God! We must follow after what has been taught to us through God’s Word (II Thessalonians 2:15). And, we must be careful not to submit to ungodly human figures. We’re challenged to try the spirits and determine if they’re of God (I John 4:1). We must be diligent in what we give our heart and mind to. Let’s submit to the right things—the Word of God—and see what powerful changes it can make in our life.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on April 04, 2018 with Pastor Nave

Redefining the Silver Lining

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

Each time I step out of my house and face rain, I grumble silently. I think immediately how wet I’ll be running from my car inside my future destination. I hate being wet—especially in clothing I’ll need to don the remainder of the day.

As I gaze (glaringly) toward the heavens, I take a deep breath and tell myself there’s a silver lining. We are blessed the Lord brings the rain, which waters the vegetation, which provides oxygen for me to breath, and therefore, I can live. With a “thank you, Jesus” muttered between gritted teeth, I step into the downpour.

It is good for me that I have been afflicted: That I might learn Thy statues. The law of Thy mouth is better unto me Than thousands of gold and silver (Psalms 119:71–72, KJV).

Seeing the “silver lining” is a valiant effort to find the hopeful side of a bad situation. The old adage “every cloud has a silver lining” speaks to how the very worst events or situations have some positive aspect.

But, I ask myself today, why do we see a silver lining? Why do we view situations as bad?

Scripture tells us how it is good to be afflicted—trials and tribulations are great (my flesh doesn’t like this). Psalms 119 is one of many Scriptures teaching this truth.

Why are trials good? Because they grow us and help us become mature Christians. Ultimately, seemingly “bad” situations facilitate learning the Word of God, which is more valuable to us than anything this world can provide.

Part of learning God’s Word—the law of God’s mouth—is getting the right perception. We need an accurate view of our life, situations, and what God’s doing. Therefore, we can’t look at any situation and think—I don’t like this, but the silver lining is that it’s going to help me. Through learning and discerning God’s Word, our perception changes. We grow to understand every situation we encounter is ultimately good. The entire picture we see of our lives needs to be one color: silver. There’s no lining!

We need to redefine our vision and realize every situation doesn’t have a bad side; it’s all good and helpful to us. We should see everything as experience, growth opportunity, God’s will, etc. You fill in the blank. Once we learn to do this, we will realize there’s not just a portion (a lining) of our life that’s a blessing from God. It’s all good for us. It’s all a blessing! And, it’s perfectly framed together, right out in the open—taking up the entire view.

Let’s pray today in our pursuit to learn God’s Word that He helps us learn good judgment and vision (Psalms 119:66). We need to have the right perception in our situations and cast aside the world’s thinking and definitions. Instead, we can know a lining doesn’t exist in our life—we can redefine the picture. Let’s see all the goodness of God’s handwork in our life without limits, borders, or any silver lining.

Saved By Grace: When Grace Looks Like Hope

Sunday, April 1st, 2018

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (I Peter 1:3–5, KJV).

The Hope of the Resurrection Changes Lives

This setting of Scripture is a strong statement coming from a man who denied Jesus three times prior to His death. Peter went from a man saying, “I don’t know Him,” to saying “Jesus gives a lively hope by the resurrection.”

There was a change that happened in Peter, and it occurred in the rest of us as well. Between three o’clock in the afternoon on Friday until Sunday, Jesus Christ died and then rose from the grave. Saturday looked like a failure to most as well as pain and hopelessness. But, while Peter wondered with the rest, He soon realized His life had been changed forever (Luke 24:11–12).

With the resurrection, everything that’s dark becomes light. The resurrection brings a hope into life we can’t find in this world. We all need to experience the power of the resurrection ourselves—the power and the presence of a holy God that makes us alive.

When Grace Looks Like Hope, it Never Fades

Hope, according to the world’s definition, isn’t the same hope we see in Jesus Christ. Peter noted Jesus brings a hope that doesn’t fade away (I Peter 1:4). God has a peace that passes all understanding, not matter the situation (Philippians 4:7)! We have a tendency to put our hope in things that fade, but we can hope in the fact Jesus’ hope never will.

There’s a danger hoping in things that are lost. When you do, you’ll be left lost, confused, and looking for a real hope. We can’t decide what’s real on our own because we’ll create a self-defined reality that will surely let us down. There’s one thing we can trust in, which is a hope that doesn’t fade in Jesus. No matter how long we live for Him, His hope will be just as powerful! Scripture reminds us God’s grace is new every morning (Lamentations 3:21–24). We have a new hope today in Him.

When Grace Looks Like Hope, We Can Live Alive

Peter notes Jesus’ hope isn’t just a hope, but a lively hope. The word lively means full of life and vigor, constantly alive with hopeful feelings, and a state of being saved from spiritual death. This is a perpetual hope that lives through a lifetime and beyond. Jesus said if we believe in Him, out of our belly will flow rivers of living water (John 7:38). There’s a river starting in our life that takes us from death to a life of everlasting hope. If we get into a relationship with Jesus, will transform our life forever.

If there’s living water, there’s dead water too—and some of us are plagued with this in our life. God is looking for an opportunity to purge out all the old, stinky water from our life and pour in hope. The cross wasn’t just a place of death, but it was a place of life. It was a bridge to life everlasting and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The cross will take us somewhere and make us alive.

Jesus said He was the One that lived, was dead, and now is alive forevermore. He has the keys of death, hell, and the grave (Revelation 1:18). He died to conquer the ultimate problem: death. But, His resurrection gave us hope so we could all walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). We’re new creatures in Christ—old things are passed away (II Corinthians 5:17). And, through Him, there’s now a hope that’s here to stay.