Tag Archives: God’s Mercy

God is still rewarding faithfulness

Over the last month or so on the “Your Life With Purpose” radio broadcast, we’ve been discussing Abraham and faith. One of the most enduring lessons that I have relearned as I’ve gone through these shows and the pages of my Bible is that there were times when Abraham moved without questioning God, there were times when he didn’t trust God as completely as he should have, and there were even times when he thought what God was saying was so outrageous, that he laughed at God. However, the thing that stands out the most is that Abraham was ultimately faithful to God, and God was in turn faithful to Abraham.

What I often find amazing in my writing and in my ministry is that I’m often trying to encourage others with my thoughts or words, and in the end, I end up encouraging myself. I do my best to be obedient to the Holy Spirit in reference to what I speak and write, only to go back and realize that God was ministering to me. While people have often told me how they consider me strong in my faith, I always remind them that I ask God questions as well. I do my best to obey Him, and I assure you that I never doubt Him, but I will ask questions.

I do wonder why I’m put in certain positions. I do wonder at times why it seems as if I’m overlooked in certain areas of life and ministry. But what I love about God is that He doesn’t answer me in words, He answers me in action. He answers me in provisions. He answers me in protection when I feel under attack. He answers me by preparing a table for me in the presence of my enemies. Even when I have questions, God answers with faithfulness. Even when I find it challenging to serve, I feel as if I have no choice because He always rewards my faithfulness.

What we can learn from Abraham is that in the midst of doubt, fear, trepidation, concern, and all out disbelief, even when our faith is lacking, God is still a rewarded of them that diligently seek Him. If you look through the narrative of Abraham, you find him doing two things quite often: Talking to God and worshiping God. He was committed. Know that God is still blessing people just for ultimately believing in Him. God is still moving on behalf of people that hesitate when He calls them to the impossible, but will ultimately proceed anyway. God is still rewarding faithfulness!

We often find ourselves in places where we feel overwhelmed, unappreciated, unprepared, and even unqualified. The truth of the matter is some of those places are the places that God has actually called us to. We must remember that God rewards our faithfulness, not our perfection. He rewards us according to our obedience, not according to our accolades and acumen. He knows we don’t have all the answers. He knows we’ll doubt at times. He even knows we’ll fall short from time to time. But if we stay with God, He’ll stay with us. And not only will He stay with us, He will reward us.

God reminds Abraham, and even us, in Genesis 12:3 that if we remain faithful Him, He will “bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you”. This encourages those of us that are fearful of what man will do to us, and it encourages those that seek to help us along the way because they are faithful to what God is doing in our lives. All that God promised Abraham came to fruition, not because he was perfect, not because he did everything right, and not because he was the most gifted. God blessed him because he believed and because he was faithful.

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Rejecting God: We ignore much more than we miss

Did you really miss your blessing or did you just ignore it when it came? I’m a writer by nature and by profession, so I’m a stickler for words. It’s popular for us to say things to people like “You missed your blessing” when they seem to have bypassed God’s provisions. But I want to challenge that thinking, because upon further inspection, I find that we don’t miss God with anywhere near the regularity that we actually reject Him.

It’s really very simple to me. As an example, if you miss a bus, you either weren’t there when the bus showed up or you arrived as it was pulling away and you couldn’t catch it. However, to reject a bus means that you were standing there when it arrived, you knew that it would take you where you wanted to go, but for whatever reason, you refused to get on. 

Maybe it was too crowded. Maybe you didn’t like the style of the bus because it was an older model and not a brand new bus. Maybe you didn’t like the driver. Whatever your reason for not getting on, there’s no doubt about it, the bus came. You just rejected it and now it will take you longer to get to your destination.

The truth is God is always placing blessings right in front of us. The lie is that we somehow know better than God. Often, the blessing doesn’t look like we want it to look or it doesn’t come when we expected it or from where we expected it. We fail to see that God designs the blessing to fit its purpose, not necessarily to be pleasing to our eyes or our other human sensibilities. Can He design such a gift that’s pleasing to us? Of course He can. But we’ll often only see it that way when we use our vision as opposed to our sight.

The point here is this: To suggest that you missed something from God is to suggest that God’s timing is somehow off. Now, you may be saying, “Wait Rev, if I say I missed it, how am I blaming God?” Well, let me hit you with another Christian catchphrase: “He may not come when you want Him, but He’s always on time.” That says to me that if you’re early, God will be there. If you’re running late, God will be there. You can’t miss what God has for you, but you sure can reject it trying to do things according to your own understanding. 

Even if your aim is off, God’s aim is true. And even though we may miss out on some things, we won’t miss it in its entirety. But you wanna know what else is awesome about God? Even when you reject Him, He’s so full of grace, that He’ll bring that blessing back around and give you another chance at it. However, I must warn you. You don’t wanna keep ignoring God. You may find yourself stuck with your plan instead of His, and that’s a mess you don’t want. My suggestion to you? When the bus comes, don’t outsmart yourself. Your best bet is to just get on.

Laboring in vain: Our work is ineffective without God

Old-NewUnless The Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.Unless The Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for He gives to His beloved sleep – Psalms 127:1-2 (ESV)

One of the most dangerous thoughts to ever enter the mind of a Christian is that of self-reliance. The idea that we can actually do something on our own. The idea that we alone can rise above issues, situations, and circumstances. The idea that if we can do things to our own level of satisfaction and by our own standards, we can somehow achieve a level of happiness that goes beyond what God can provide.

This attitude is often what shapes our prayers. It causes us to try and order God around as opposed to seeking His plan for our lives. We’re more concerned with our wishes and our desires than we are with the spiritual order of things. However, the scripture at the heading of this lesson tells us that a spirit of self-reliance is an exercise in futility. We know that God is there, but are we remembering why? In fact, it is the idea of self-reliance that will drive us crazy because we will inevitably come upon a situation that is beyond our control. If you’re only relying on self, what will you do in these moments?

Any act without prayer and acknowledgment of God is an act without real hope. For with everything WE attempt to put into place, we attempt to eliminate God. The reference “in vain” in our text speaks to something that is ineffective or improper. Therefore, to do anything without first seeking God’s guidance and blessings will be ineffective and improper. Where we often miss the mark is in falling in love with initial or temporary successes. Something works once, twice, or maybe even more without seeking God and we assume that it will work all the time. In our flesh, we seek that instant and immediate gratification, and not the long-term promises of God that those who are spiritual are seeking.

This particular text is stressing to us the importance of keeping God at the head of all that we do. It’s great that concerned citizens (the watchman) want to keep watch over their cities. But who are we counting on to cover the watchman? When we live in a society that has become not only anti-prayer, but anti-God, how can we expect things to remain peaceful and orderly? When we would rather rage than pray, what will the outcome be?

Your Christianity can’t only be skin deep and situational. You can’t look in the face of the evil in the world and say that you’re tired of praying and you’re now ready for revenge. Scripture tells us that we should never cease praying (Luke 18:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:17), but we only seem to believe that during times in which we’d like a blessing. But what about during times of death? What about during times of immorality? What about during times of destruction? What about praying to God just because He is God?

Look at our text today and look at how we’re conducting ourselves in society. There can be no real activism without first activating our faith in God. There can be no “grinding” for a better life without Godliness. There can be no peace without The Peacemaker. There can be no healing without The Healer. If God isn’t at the head of whatever it is that we’re doing, it will fail. Let me simplify: we will fail without God, but God Himself will never fail without us.

No matter what problems we may face in life, God is capable of delivering us from them all. If we face them alone, it is simply because we have chosen to. However, as this scripture tells us, to face them without God is to face them in vain. You can work all the days of your life, but if you haven’t placed God over your finances, your labor will be in vain. No matter how much you have, it will never seem to be enough. If you refuse to bless God with just a portion of what He has already blessed you with, you will find that what you have will disappear without explanation (Haggai 1:5-7). It is through God that we find the value of life, not the price of it. After all, Jesus has already paid the price for our lives (1 Corinthians 6:20). The cost was much too high for us.

This Scripture tells us that if God doesn’t build our house, we that do build it are doing so to no avail. This doesn’t just include your physical house, but also your spiritual house (1 Corinthians 6:19). What this says to me is that God must be at the foundation of what we do. If He’s not the foreman of the project that is our lives, the structure itself is for naught, constantly on the edge of implosion.

We must always remember that God is a provider to His children. Whatever we have need of, He will supply according to His will. If you’re hungry, He will feed you. If you’re struggling with a load, He’s there to help you carry it. If you’re grieving, He’s the best shoulder to lean on. And if you’re weary, He will give you peaceful rest. It makes no sense for us to stay up toiling day and night for material possessions or out of fear of what man can do to us. We mustn’t be weary in our well doing, so we must continue to stand and work for what is right. But we can never accomplish anything without acknowledging the God that owns it all.

Protection and provisions: Exploring the beauty of Psalm 23

Old-NewMany Christians lean on Psalm 23, and for good reason. One of the most popular passages of Scripture in the Bible, it shows God’s leadership, His protection, His provisions, and His blessings. While we often recite this Psalm, many fail to see the depth of it. Let’s examine it verse by verse and witness just how beautiful and encouraging this passage of Scripture is.

Psalms 23:1 – “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want”

Immediately, we see that God is a provider. However, this verse doesn’t tell us that we won’t or shouldn’t have any desires. God has promised to give us the desires of our heart, as long as they don’t collide with His will. Instead, this verse reminds us that when God is our guide, we will have all that we need. Not only does a good shepherd care for and provide for his sheep, he’s even willing to risk his life. When we consider the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, we see just how much God loves us (His sheep).

Psalms 23:2 – “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters”

Look at where God leads us to rest (lie down): green pastures and still waters. Consider those green pastures, as opposed to desert places or a wasteland. Green pastures is representative of fertility. It is representative of life! If the place where God led you wasn’t healthy, the grass would be dying. We often focus too much on our wilderness experiences without considering the places that God wants to lead us to.

And what do we think of when we sit down by still waters? We think calm. We think peace. When we consider the fertile ground and the still waters, we see that God wants to calm all of the raging waters of our life and bring us to a place of peace and growth!

Psalms 23:3 – “He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake”

The restoration of the soul is key. Consider what it’s like for us when it seems as if everything is weighing us down. Consider what it’s like when we feel like giving up. It is God that comes to our rescue and uplifts us. When the world is beating us down, only God can restore us.

Like the good shepherd that He is, God will only lead us in the right way, to the right destination. As we toil in life looking for the right path on our own, God is willing to lead us there as long as we’re willing to follow Him. We must remember that sheep aren’t the most intelligent animals, and they often wander off on their own, getting into dangerous situations. Following our Shepherd will help to avoid such things. When we’re going through struggles in life and every path seems to lead to hurt and disappointment, we must remember that such things are not of God and are not His plan for our lives. He wants greater for us. We must follow the Shepherd.

“For His name’s sake” reminds us of the promises of God. He makes good on what He said because He has a reputation to uphold as a loving and kind God that takes care of His children. God has repeatedly said in His Word that He would never leave nor forsake us. He keeps His word, but not just to impress us, but to show exactly who He is.

Psalms 23:4 – “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me”

God takes no days off. He’s always there in times of trouble. When we consider “the shadow of death”, we must understand that death is ever present. In the flesh, we have a fear of the unknown, and death is in fact something we know nothing about in the physical. But when we’re spiritually born again, we have victory over the grave. In those moments of weakness, when we find ourselves fearing death, we see that God is present to comfort us.

Even in times of evil, when death is all around us, we should never be afraid. In the times when loved ones are leaving us more often than we’d like, we should be looking to God as a comforter. We should never allow ourselves to believe that God has made a mistake or that the devil has done something outside of God’s control. The moment God loses control of any situation, He ceases to be God, and that hasn’t happened. Instead, we are to trust God when we don’t understand His will, and look to the comfort He provides to make things easier.

Psalms 23:5 – “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over”

Here is why we should never concern ourselves with those that are against us or speak ill of us. God will exalt you in due time, and He will do so in a way in which your enemies will see it. “A table in the presence of mine enemies” tells us that we’re at a feast where our enemies are in attendance. Don’t be surprised when you’re in the same room with them. God wants them to be a witness to your elevation and celebration.

But we mustn’t be arrogant. It’s not so that we can gloat or boast, but so that God may be glorified. Revenge is God’s business. When we seek it on our own, we’re out of order. God has a way of showing those that mistreated us that He has in fact favored us.

He shall also anoint us and bless us in a way that will leave no doubt that we are chosen, blessed, honored and protected by Him. God’s anointing us in front of others is a verification. Again, we are blessed for all to see! Our blessing are so great, that they run over! They will be so abundant that we won’t be able to contain them. Such blessing are not given for selfish reasons, however. An overflow of blessings is given so that we can bless others.

Psalms 23:6 – “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever”

This brings us full circle in this Psalm. Goodness and mercy will follow us as long as we follow the directions of our Good Shepherd. Consider the fact that mercy is God not giving us what we deserve, because at times, we’re outside of His will. When we as sheep go astray, God isn’t always looking to punish us, but rather show us mercy and lead us back into the fold. Man holds a grudge, but God holds us close to His heart. Staying with the Good Shepherd ensures that we will be under God’s goodness and mercy. And we should all have the desire to dwell in the house of the Lord (in His presence) forever. There is no place safer than that!