Archive for February, 2019

The Book of Jonah

Thursday, February 28th, 2019

Revelations of Jonah

The outline of of the Book of Jonah depicts Jonah’s flight from the voice of God, prayers for deliverance, sermons to Nineveh, and then closes with his pity party. However, the book of Jonah is not truly about Jonah himself, but reflects the heart of God and His feelings toward the prodigal. God never gave up on the city of Nineveh and didn’t give up on Jonah.

We’re All Jonahs

We’re all very much like Jonah. We all disobey and do things in opposition to what God instructs us. This is why we need God’s grace in our lives every day. God wants to bring us back to where we should be in our life.

Our Personal Nineveh

One sentence changed Jonah’s whole life when he was commissioned to go to Nineveh and preach God’s destruction (Jonah 1:1–2). God didn’t have a message of prosperity but judgment because the city was wicked and steeped in idolatry. These characteristics of Nineveh (as well as others) fed into reasons for why Jonah didn’t want to go.

Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh, but when we look at our lives we have our own personal Ninevehs. These are places we don’t want to go because they take us out of our comfort zone. Our Ninevehs bring danger and discomfort for us. Our Ninevehs are people that we don’t like or those who persecute us. No matter the Nineveh, we need to show others mercy because God is willing to show mercy. God will ask us to go to our own personal Nineveh. What will our answer be when He asks us to go?

Disobeying God

Jonah ran from the Lord and headed in the opposite direction (Jonah 1:3). There was about a 2,500 mile gap between God’s call and Jonah’s desire. He wanted to get as far away as He could because He knew God was going to destroy the city. We need to be careful that we don’t keep such a distance from people that we lose our love for the lost.

When Jonah disobeyed God, he walked through a downward spiritual progression. Jonah went down to Joppa (Jonah 1:3), down into the hold of the ship (Jonah 1:4), down into the sea (Jonah 1:15), and down into the belly of the whale (Jonah 1:17). When we make the decision to disobey God, the further we’ll move away from Him. This greatly increases our  risk of not being able to return upward to our Heavenly destination with our Lord and Savior.

Drivers of Disobedience

When Jonah went to Joppa there just happened to be a boat available for him (Jonah 1:3). When we choose to run from God, Satan will always provide the transportation and means for us to aid in our disobedience. Outside of the devils aid, our flesh can also always find an excuse and justify our actions. We must be careful on how fervent we are in our disobedience because at some point, God will let us fall deep into sin and give us over to a reprobate mind. However, if we become conscious of our disobedience and repent, God will restored us to Him.

Overall Lessons

In sum, there are three main lessons we can learn from Jonah’s disobedience. Every time we step out of the will of God, it’s a downward step. We will get away quickly, but we’ll recover slowly. Lastly, Satan can work through circumstances just like God can. Jonah knew the will of God, but he didn’t want to do it. The most important lesson we can learn is if God calls us to do a work, we need to go. We never know what our Nineveh will be, and God will call us to it at one point in our life. No one can hide from God!

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on February 27, 2019 with Guest Speaker, Brother Koonce

Finding the Right Place to Dance

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

One-two-three, one-two-three, one-two-three, step together! These words echo in my head as if I heard them just yesterday, but in reality, they were spoken almost 30 years ago. My grade school gym teacher was instructing my class on how to waltz in our dance unit. I loved it—the waltz, cha-cha, tango, square, etc., but the boys in my class were less-than thrilled.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve loved dancing. However, I couldn’t ever figure out the right place or the right time to do it. After I learned to walk, I danced and sang with a plastic spoon. The result was a trip to the hospital and stitches in my lip. Years later, I danced in the bathtub. Hospital, stitches—the trend continues.

I’ve already shared my cat-stool escapade, which ended in disaster. I opted to practice my river-dancing skills in the kitchen whilst my mom made dinner and got reprimanded. I went to dances in junior high and high school, and got into trouble for dancing too close to my partner. There just never was an outlet for me to fulfill a heartfelt passion.

Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp (Psalms 149:3, KJV).

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:4, KJV).

When I started digging into the Word of God as a young adult, I read Scriptures about praising God through dance. I initially thought, that’s weird. Who praises God by dancing? Then God answered my question.

King David was bringing the ark back home in II Samuel 6. He was beside himself in joy that the presence of God was returning with him. Therefore, after every 6 paces, he sacrificed and danced before the Lord with all his might (II Samuel 6:13–14). I’m unsure of the distance David journeyed home, but for every 6 paces, that’s a lot of dancing!

The word dance in Hebrew is karar, which means to whirl and dance. I don’t know exactly how David danced, but He found the right time and the right place to do it. He unlocked a gateway into the presence of God through sacrifice and praise, specifically praise by dancing.

You might think I’m weird, but if I read something in the Word, I’m going to test it out. So, after years of dancing the wrong way and in the wrong places, I tried it in the presence of God. And, would you know it? God met me there through my praise and became the best dancing partner I’ve ever had in my life.

It turns out, there was a reason God put a desire to dance in my heart. I initially looked to the world to provide an outlet for it. All along, God’s design was for me to do it in His presence. God has done so much for me: He’s changed my life over and over again and given me joy unspeakable. As the prophet Jeremiah said, I’m going to rejoice in the dance (Jeremiah 31:13).

If you’ve never danced before the Lord, I encourage you to try it. Part of finding the right place to dance is understanding there’s not just 1 place to do it. Dance in the church house, dance in your utility room, dance in the storage closet at work, dance in your classroom. If you do it in God’s presence, I promise every time, you’ve found the right place. Just dance.

Choosing to Love Each Other

Sunday, February 24th, 2019

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A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:34–35, KJV).

Love Defined

Jesus observed the Last Supper with His disciples before He fulfilled His mission on earth. Here in Scripture, Jesus revealed His heart: He instructed His disciples to love each other in a new way than ever before. They were to love each other only the way Jesus loved them.

God doesn’t ask us to mimic what He does; He asks us to go much deeper. When it comes to love, we can’t just have a surface love, we must go deeper! We need to allow the love God has for us funnel through us into who we are and every action. Today, love is becoming harder to find. Paul warned Timothy about the lack of love in the last days (II Timothy 3:3). The devil has been waging a war against our ability to love people. The only defense we have is to position ourselves to allow the Spirit of God work through us to love other people.

Three Elements of Love

True love will only come from a pure heart, clear conscience, and genuine faith (I Timothy 1:5). As we see in our Savior, everything He does is due to His love for people. We struggle to comprehend His love, and because of this, we spend too much time engaged in meaningless things (I Timothy 1:6). If we don’t understand the love of God, and it isn’t inside of us, our meaningless activities equate to being meaningless in the Kingdom of God (I Corinthians 13:1)! Therefore, God’s love must be the center of everything we say and do.

God’s Love Works Out of My Pure Heart

A pure heart stops hurting other people, doing what’s wrong, saying hurtful words, and thinking harmful thoughts about others. If we don’t have a pure heart, we will hurt other people and lose our sense of right and wrong (I John 2:9). We must love people with a pure love and not harbor any hate (ill will) toward others. God came to change our hearts at the core and not just the way we act on the surface. Our actions will manifest what’s at the center of our heart (I John 3:18).

God’s Love Works Out of My Pure Conscience

A pure conscience makes right any wrongs we’ve dealt or any wrongs we’ve felt. This is a difficult concept because when we’re hurt, we hurt others, especially those closest to us. But, we must realize everyone is a human being and no one deserves to be treated poorly. If we have opposition in our life with another person, we’re called reconcile with them before we come before the Lord with praise and thanksgiving (Matthew 5:23–24). God operates in this kind of love—when we make things right with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

God’s Love Works Out of Genuine Faith

We must trust that when God loves, and it works through us, it will work! There is a difference between His love and our love. God’s love is an agape love—it is the highest level of love. Our human love is a feeling-based love and has limitations and boundaries. But, God’s love is a decision to love just because. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for (and loved) us (Romans 5:8). The love the Holy Ghost brought into our life was to help us love everyone around us. Believe that God is able to operate through us with His love!

The Vision of Discipling People to Jesus

Thursday, February 21st, 2019

A God-Given Vision

A vision is an act in power or anticipation of that which is soon to be. Scriptures refer to visions as spiritual insight or dreams. To a believer, our faith is what helps give us vision: faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). In our Christian walk, every believer needs a God-given vision. That vision is reaching the lost and discipling them to Jesus.

We must be able to identify our God-given vision. Jesus has a plan and purpose in the earth: He came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). Scripture teaches us that redemption is God’s vision for all mankind. For this vision to be perpetuated on earth, we need to be a witness to this vision; however, for us to take part in being His witnesses, we need to see the big picture (God’s vision) that all of humanity needs salvation.

The Risk of No Vision

Where there is no vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18). If God doesn’t set the pace and give the vision for our lives, the church, the Kingdom, etc., it won’t work. If we can’t see God’s vision, we’ll personally become less than what God called us to be and do less than what He called us to do. Visions from God will sustain us and the work of our hands. He will make it successful!

Our Vision and Mission

We’re all commanded to go (Matthew 28:19): to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). Where God commands, He always empowers; He will never ask us to do something impossible. Scripture tells us that God will give us power through the Holy Ghost to be witnesses for Him (Acts 1:8). We need to submit ourselves to the vision of God and allow Him to speak His vision into our individual vision/mission to reach the lost.

The Spirit Helps Us Become a Witness

The Spirit is the vital element that helps us to become (successful) witnesses for Christ. There are 3 benefits it brings to our witness. One, the Spirit gives us words we wouldn’t necessarily (or couldn’t) speak on our own. We see an example of this in Scripture when Jesus told the disciples not to think about what they would speak, for the Holy Ghost would teach them what to say when they needed it (Luke 12:11–12). Secondly, the Spirit gives us favor our own actions could never produce. Lydia was a woman who needed the Gospel. When Paul spoke, the Lord opened her heart to hear what he had to say. She wouldn’t have received the Gospel unless God gave Paul favor with her (Acts 16:14). And third, the Spirit will give us direction on when and where to act and speak. Philip had just finished a revival, and was translated in the Spirit to minister to an Ethiopian eunuch. Upon arrival, it was the Spirit that told him to minister to the specific man (Acts 8:29).

A Tale of 2 Visions

Acts 10 tells us a story of 2 important visions. When Cornelius, a devout man, was in prayer, the Lord gave him a vision. An angel instructed him to send men to find Peter. In a nearby town, Peter began to pray on a rooftop. It was here, God gave him a vision of a sheet with all kinds of animals. They were deemed unclean to eat according to the Jewish law. After seeing the spread, Peter heard a voice telling him to rise and eat. Peter was being instructed to go and do something that had never been done before. The story ends with Peter sharing the message of Jesus Christ to Cornelius and his entire household, and the Holy Ghost fell on all who heard the Word. While Cornelius received a vision that saved his house, Peter’s vision brought the Gospel to all the Gentiles and the door of salvation was opened to all people that day. This is why obedience to a God-given vision is eternally important to unbelievers!

Fear has a tendency to keep us from following God’s vision and working in His harvest. But, we cannot let this be a hindrance to us! Remember, we’re not only commissioned to go, but we’re chosen and ordained to go and bring forth fruit that will remain (John 15:16). In this Scripture, we see 4 key elements: 1) chosen—we’ve been selected to do something for God, 2) ordained— we’ve been set and positioned to do a task, 3) fruit—we’ll see results, and 4) remain—the results will still be around next year!

Ways to Go

There are many ways for us to go. Because we’re all fearfully and wonderfully made, with unique talents and abilities, our calling will be different. One person’s “go” maybe to wait in line for a specific cashier. Another may be to spend time cultivating a relationship with a neighbor. For a different individual, it may be to financially support missions. Going is very simple! If we don’t “go” we’re in disobedience to God. We need to be obedient, allow Him to work through us, and go where we’re called.

Knowing Your Field

Part of having vision for an empowered witness is knowing where or what is our harvest field. Our field isn’t hand-selected by us but by God alone! Each field will be different because we all have different spheres of influences. Even though our fields might look different, we all share the same vision: the one of Jesus Christ. Jesus read His personal vision and mission statement in Luke 4:18–19. He realized the world—with a lot of hurting people—was in need of Him. We need to look for broken, bruised, blind, and captive people in the world because everyone needs to hear the good news of the Gospel. Someone in our world (where we live) is broken and they need to know Jesus is able to heal them!

Obstacles to Vision

Vision for discipling people to Jesus comes with some some baggage. The biggest obstacle (or baggage) to the vision of our harvest is the lack of work in us and the church. We need to pray that God sends laborers into His harvest (Matthew 9:37); we all need to be ready and willing to work. An apostolic witness does not have a life of ease and leisure. A burden for the lost may cost us some sleepless nights, skipped meals, or time sacrificed when we rise to pray and/or meet with people to build relationships. Remember, not all seed will fall on good ground in our witness. It’s ultimately up to God to give the increase. A God-given vision of the harvest is a compelling force to empower us to be His witnesses no matter the obstacle. Paul summed up his life’s commitment by stating he didn’t care about anything else but ministry and loving Jesus (I Corinthians 2:2). This should be our commitment no matter what life (or people) bring.

Conclusion

Vision to minister to people can be activated quickly when we realize the need to share Jesus with those around us. Realize people can leave this world without God in their lives; if they do they’ll face judgment. We must have a vision for the harvest and to share the whole Gospel to the whole world!

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on February 20, 2019 with Pastor Nave

What are You Still Doing Here?

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

Difficult. That’s a word that doesn’t rank at the top of my favorite concepts list. Difficult to me is bad news, something wrought with much labor, or will really put my patience to the test. In itself, difficult is hard and undesirable. But, combine it with the word people and you’ve just created a living nightmare.

Difficult people—they’re everywhere. I can’t escape them. Have you noticed this? No matter how you hide, they always find you. And, they get in the way…always. I try to leave their vicinity and hope that when I return, they will have vacated the area. But, to no avail, they’re still there. And, it takes everything within me to keep from screaming, “What are you still doing here?”

I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land (Exodus 23:29–30, KJV).

I can only imagine that the Nation of Israel shared my perspective on difficult people when they were introduced to the Promised Land. It was full of difficult people too—Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites. Those people were idol worshippers, aggressive, did things the wrong way, and were occupying their Promised Land! D-I-F-F-I-C-U-L-T!

God had given Israel this land as a blessing, but smack dab in the middle of all of it were these heathen nations. I’d be asking them, “What are you still doing here? Get out—this is my land!” But, would you know it? God had those people (difficult people) stay there for a bit while Israel got settled in.

While nearly relegating myself to the fact that difficult people will always be here to stay, God called this Scripture to my attention. Yes, the difficult people will be present for a time, and seem to invade our blessing. But, they have a purpose in the grand scheme of things.

God said the heathen nations would remain because they would continue to help care for the land. If God had removed all the difficult people immediately, the land would have become desolate. The blessing to God’s people would have turned into something that wasn’t such a blessing after all.

God knows that by keeping difficult people around us, they really help rather than hurt us. While it doesn’t seem, or even feel like it, they’re there for a purpose. Over time as God develops godly characteristics in us—longsuffering, patience, meekness, etc.—He’ll start eliminating the difficult parties from our lives as we become ready to actually handle the blessing God has in store for us.

As Israel grew stronger and increased (in number, wisdom, strength, etc.), God would drive out the difficult people from among them. And, the blessing, the Promised Land, would be left for them to occupy alone and in peace.

You might be finding yourself in a place where you feel surrounded by difficult people. You might be ready to scream, “What are you still doing here!” But, take a step back, take a breather, and realize what God’s really trying to do in your life. Is He preparing you for a greater blessing? Is He working something in you? Developing something in you? Is it only for a season?

Lord, help us to see the good in the difficult people around us. Thank you for not allowing our blessing to turn into desolation. You have perfect timing and perfect plans. We don’t need to wonder why these difficult people are still here—You already know. We just need to figure it out with Your help.

The Four Chairs of Proverbs

Thursday, February 14th, 2019

Making Mistakes

We all make mistakes. And it’s easy for us to see the mistakes of others, especially when we’ve made them ourselves! The Bible helps us determine right from wrong, and deter us to make future mistakes. But, what do we do when the Bible isn’t black and white about a subject? Should we take action anyway and find out our mistake later? Before we make any decision or take any action, we should seek to make them in the context of wisdom. The only source of wisdom is from our Creator. If we need it, we can ask God, and He’ll give it to us (James 1:5).

The Wisdom of Proverbs

Solomon was the wisest man who lived upon the face of the earth. He wrote many proverbs to expound wisdom in the matters of the heart. So, what’s real wisdom? It’s obedience to God. Scripture tells us the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). Therefore, proverbs were written to help us perceive and receive the Word of God.

Proverbs 1 identifies 4 different types of people and their response to God’s wisdom (and His Word). One group of people think nothing will happen to them. This group is the simple or naive. The second group of people realize an outcome, but they don’t care. This group is comprised of fools. The third group realizes a finality in their life, but don’t want the truth preached to them. These are the scornful. Lastly, the group of people is the wise. They realize the need for wisdom and instruction. These are the 4 chairs of proverbs and we’ll continue to learn about them in detail below.

The Chair of the Simple (Naive)

The simple person constantly gets into trouble. They’re stubborn and don’t want to listen and they typically learn lessons the hard way. When a wise person speaks into a simple person’s life, the person perceives them to be an extremist (Proverbs 21:11) and doesn’t take their words to heart. Scripture teaches us that we can gain understanding if we watch and listen to others (Proverbs 7:6). God sends people into our lives to help instruct and edify us. Look for opportunities to learn! Above all, we should trust God and follow Him in all things. An obedient heart preserves our future; disobedience will bring destruction.

The Chair of the Fool

Fools know the difference between right and wrong but just don’t care; they don’t think their sin is a big deal. It’s a game or a sport to do mischief to a fool and they want the whole world to know what they’re doing (Proverbs 10:23). Fools will continue to repeat the same mistake over and over again without learning a lesson (Proverbs 15:2). The only way for the fool to change is to face the full consequences of their decisions. They may have to hit the bottom of the barrel in order to wake up and become right with God. Scripture warns that that companion of a fool will also face great harm. Fools will lead their children in their footsteps as well as their close friends (Proverbs 13:20). Be careful who you allow into your life and stay away from the fool.

The Chair of the Scorner

Scorners (scoffers) have chosen to be critical of those who are doing things right. If you try to disciple or preach to a scorner they will hate you (Proverbs 9:8). On the contrary, wise people welcome rebukes because they learn from the instruction. Scorners feel like they are the judge of everyone else and try to control with criticism (Proverbs 4:29). Their ultimate goal is to drag everyone else down with them; they don’t want to see anyone do what’s right.  Scripture teaches the church that the only thing we can do is drive them out (Proverbs 22:10); only a miracle can save them. We must pray for the scorner!

The 3 Bad Chairs

If we sit in any of these 3 chairs, it gets harder and harder to receive wisdom. Grace is available to the occupants of these chairs, but these people don’t want to receive it. They’re bitter, stubborn, and don’t want to change their ways. If we’re sitting in any one of these chairs today, we need to change our seat and begin to fear the Lord (Proverbs 10:9). When we begin to recognize the holiness of God, this will lead us to the beginning of wisdom.

The Chair of Wisdom

We need to seek the wisdom of God daily, but seek it in the right places. Wisdom is better than rubies; nothing in the world can compare to it (Proverbs 8:11). Scripture teaches that if we’re wise in our hearts, we’ll think in an eternal mindset. We’ll strive to follow God’s commandments (Proverbs 10:8) and to save souls (Proverbs 11:30). In the parable of the 10 virgins, the 5 foolish knew the Lord was coming, but they didn’t care enough to keep oil in their lamps (Matthew 25:1–13). The 5 wise made sure they had enough oil (Holy Ghost) stored up. If we seek to have a close relationship with the Lord, we will care for His wisdom and desire to keep it close to us more than anything in this life.

If we want true wisdom in God, we need to acknowledge God in everything. If we seek Him, He’ll help us to keep keep our lives straight and simple (Proverbs 3:5). We must seek to sit in the chair of the wise and stay out of the others. Pray for wisdom so that we may hide the Word of God in our heart that we might not sin against Him.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on February 13, 2019 with Guest Speaker Brother Koonce

The Universal Word

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

I’m an avid reader and I long for others to be as well. Therefore, I’m a huge solicitor of books—if you have a topic, problem, interest, etc., I’ve got a book recommendation for you. I’ve come across books with words written within that drastically change my life. I sit in profound awe and wonder at how God could use a writer to pen words so transformational to my life.

However, after recommending a book, there are times (albeit few), a person doesn’t have the same life-changing experience I did after reading a text. When asked how they felt about the book, they respond, “Ah, it was okay.” Okay? I immediately wonder how could this person not fall in love with the same pen and ink that I had poured over myself?

The truth of the matter is that we all don’t respond to the same words, stories, or books the way everyone else does. We all have a unique interest and draw to specific subject-matters, ideas, and prose. I can feel enlightened after reading a theological text, but put poetry in front of me and I’m lost.

While we all have different thoughts about what we read and what speaks to us, there is one book that has a unique, universal effect:

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name (Psalms 138:2, KJV).

David wrote that God magnified His Word above His name. He was trying to explain that God has exalted or made His Word greater than everything else. Why? Because His Word is actually God Himself. John’s opening Scripture explains this truth:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God (John 1:1–2, KJV).

See it? The Word was God! But, how does this play into our book-reading?

Any other book in the world, other than the Bible (the infallible Word of God), can be misunderstood, un-appreciated, or sub-par in quality. But, God’s Word (who He is) is above every other book. His Word is greater than anything else a human could ever write, no matter the context, subject, or genre. No matter who reads it, God’s Word has the same impact—life-changing.

When praying about this concept, God impressed a notion upon me: God (and His Word) are universal. Not, just universal in the sense of being everywhere, but universal in the sense that all can understand Him (and His Word), and all can know and desire it.

There are many languages in the world, but not one person can know them all. There are many books in the world, but no one can read them all. And, even further, all the books in the world could never impact someone the same way. But, God and His Word are universal. It is the one book, subject matter, text, and truth that has been magnified. It has been exalted above everything else for one purpose—so we can know it, respond to it, and praise God for His truth! There’s no doubt as to what’s the best book. There’s no question as to what’s the greatest truth. It’s Him, it’s His Word, and He’s graciously given us the greatest story ever told.

If you aren’t much of a reader, I encourage you to pick up the one book that will change your life. It’s the universal Word, the breath of God, the Bible—and it’s just waiting for you to open it and dive right in.

On Hold

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019

When traveling away from home for an extended period of time, I always take advantage of the the handy-dandy hold mail service our US post office provides. There’s no fear of mail getting wet in my less-than water-proof mailbox, going missing, or having no room to fit after several days’ accumulation.

At the end of the hold duration, I have the wonderful option to have my mail delivered in bulk right to my very front door. What service and peace of mind! I wish I had this option in other areas of my life. How grand would it be to put a hold on laundry, receiving electronic communications/notifications, trials and tribulations—just about anything we choose?

In all seriousness, the process of putting my mail on hold is a simple one. It’s a choice I make and a quick click of a button. But, the “hold button” isn’t only used on just my mail, and I promise it’s not the only time you use it either.

“…To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Hebrews 4:7, KJV).

Pending our travel or day-to-day schedules, we have a tendency to set up temporary hold patterns in one area of our life we really shouldn’t: our relationship with God. We don’t need to log onto a Website and set up a hold schedule. We make a decision in our mind (heart) we’ve had enough of God for the day and put a mental hold on our relationship with Him. We put a spiritual hold on the messages coming to us from glory.

When I’m in a spiritual funk, I always see God convicting me about what I’m doing at every turn. When my flesh gets out of whack, it’s easy to want to push back on God and say, “that’s enough. I don’t need any more spiritual instruction today.” We can’t shut God off and then pull Him out of the postal bin when it’s convenient for us (or when we’re in a better mood).

My mother recently articulated her woes of held mail delivery. Multiple times, she’s had to call the post office and inquire as to the location of her held mail. It just doesn’t show up when it’s supposed to after being put on hold. When we make the conscious decision to put God on hold enough times, He might linger a little while before returning to us. After our fleshly episode, He might want to see if we truly want Him in our life (Psalms 25:4–5).

My mother’s been lucky to find her mail in a short amount of time after her search, but with God, we might not always be as fortunate. The more we choose to put God on hold—in duration and frequency—there will come a point in time when we won’t be able to find God in the random post office bin anymore (Genesis 6:3; Isaiah 55:6). I don’t want to run the risk of losing my “knee-mail” from God. Do you?

Lord, help us today to make a conscious decision not to put You on hold. We need to hear from You every hour of every day. Guide our footsteps and help us to be a vessel that brings You honor and glory. Help us desire to hear Your voice and seek after your correction. Don’t let us look to You only in a convenient season. Thank you for helping us keep our heart focused on You, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

It’s time to stop putting God on hold. Pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17) and let His praise forever be on our lips (Psalms 34:1)!

The Dangers of Looking Backwards

Sunday, February 3rd, 2019

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I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent (Revelation 2:2–5, KJV).

Facing the Wrong Way

Backwards can look good at times and seem like the right thing to do when faced with unclear moments. We back-up when we don’t know what else to do. But, backwards is not a natural reaction—we weren’t built to move that direction! God designed us to move forward. In Revelation, God wasn’t saying that Ephesus left their first love, as in the first person they loved, but first in importance. Even in looking at their track-record, they still left their first love. They were currently facing the wrong way and moving slightly backwards.

Straining to look behind toward our past for whatever reason is an incredible danger to our spiritual walk. The only purpose looking back serves is as a testimony for where we are today or to better position us to move forward. God isn’t behind us; He’s in front of us trying to move us forward.

Looking Back Puts Us…

In a Position of Weakness

Scripture admonishes us not to turn back to look at the things God’s already delivered us from (Galatians 4:9). God wants us to focus on our deliverance and the truth of His Word. We need to stay strong in the truth. In the Old Testament, Lot’s wife looked backward at a life and place she lived which God wanted to destroy. Where we once lived was only acceptable at one point in time, but God’s trying to take us forward to a new location and place in Him.

In Danger’s Path

God’s judgment had not come for Lot or his family, but for the city in which they were living. It was a vile city, full of corruption and discord. Because Lot’s wife looked back, she slipped right into the pathway of danger—right into God’s judgment. She backed her way into fire, brimstone, and destruction and lost her life because of it. There’s more in our future we should cling to than any part of our past (Luke 7:33).

In the Dark

Lot’s wife looked back to what she knew was burning and being destroyed. Why did she do this? The prince of darkness had blinded her to the wrongness of Sodom and Gomorrah. Like Lot’s wife, he can also blind our eyes to what’s happening behind us and the destruction it holds. If Satan blinds us from the light, we can’t move forward and see where God wants us to move. It’s important we let go of the sin that blinds us. We can’t serve 2 different masters (Matthew 6:24). We need to reach forward to what is before and forget those things that are behind (Philippians 3:13). We can’t stumble if we keep our eyes forward!

Look Forward

It’s high time for us to wake out of sleep. Our salvation is nearer than when we first believed (Romans 13:11). Jesus is coming again, and He’s only going to appear to those who are looking forward. We must examine ourselves, see where we’re at, and make up our minds to look and move forward in God.