Tag Archives: God’s Protection

The blessings in “all things”

FullSizeRender(2)How thoroughly do you read your Bible? Do you skip over words that seem insignificant, but in fact, they hold some significant power in the verse? We’ve all done it before. We look for the most majestic words in a sentence, all the while overlooking the strength that God has hidden in the small and seemingly unimportant. By simply taking the Bible word for word, you can receive the fullness of what God has to say to you.

Look at Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”. Now, we all know that there’s power whenever Christ is mentioned in the text. However, once we get beyond Jesus, we often seek the power in the words “I can”. Yes, it’s in our human nature to focus on what we can do. However, when we do that, we often miss “all things”. Sometimes we misunderstand and misapply it, while other times we overlook its significance. We often see “all things” as an opportunity. We see it as God blessing us with gain. Also, “I can do all things” becomes a battle cry against those that oppose us or in instances where we’re trying to achieve things. But we often miss the entire blessing in the words “all things”.

These two words cover a multitude of things. We must remember that doing all things through Christ covers things beyond what we desire for our material growth. Those words also cover our healing. They cover grief when you feel like you can’t make it through. They cover broken homes and financial hardships. They cover wayward children. And yes, they cover church dysfunction and spiritual growth. Yes, when that scripture tells us that we can do all things through Christ, it really means all things!

One of my pet peeves is Scripture being taken out of context. All of us have been guilty of pulling Scripture out just to make a point, while not really considering the context in which it was spoken. Philippians 4:13 falls into this category. We see that we can do all things, but we don’t go back a few verses to find out exactly why the Apostle Paul was making this statement.

An examination of the Book of Philippians provides some insight. Paul, writing this letter to the church at Philippi from jail, is still rejoicing in The Lord. In the midst of his circumstances, he remains confidant in Christ! Sometimes we struggle to look past our circumstances to the God that controls it all, but as Christians we must always look to Christ rather than focusing on the bars that imprison us. If we aren’t trusting God in all things, we begin to focus on our limitations, and not His power.

By Philippians 4:11-12, Paul tells us in those verses that he has learned that Christ sustains him, no matter what his situation may be. Whether he’s rich or poor, hungry or full, or whether he’s high or low, he knows that Christ is his strength. This gives us the proper perspective. Does this verse apply to our various quests in life to be prosperous or to overcome our adversaries in life? Yes, it does. But we must also remember that this verse is a survivor’s verse. It’s a verse that reminds us that no matter what we may face in life, we can conquer it through Christ (also see Romans 8:35-39)!

Scripture also tells us in Philippians 2:5: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus”. So we can’t trust God in “all things” with the mind of the unsaved. When we fail to look to Jesus in all things, when we lack the faith that God can bring us through all of the situations that we face in life, we are thinking with an unsaved mind. Not to suggest that you are unsaved if you lack confidence, but you’re engaging in unsaved thinking.

Its human nature to have fear and anxiety in certain situations, but we as saved Christians ought to have a new nature. We ought to be different. We ought to have a change in our mindset. A change that will allow us to see things in the spirit, not the flesh. Keep 2 Corinthians 5:17 in your hearts: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”. Not some things. Not a few things. Not the things that we thought we couldn’t outrun. No, if you’re in Christ, ALL THINGS become new!

Advertisements

Walking the path to your purpose

10846337_10203187423746321_5228810459576158689_nSomething you often hear from Christians is: What is my purpose? We often struggle with our purpose because we have an idea of what we want to do with our lives. From the time we’re children under the age of 10, many of us have dreams of what we wanna be when we grow up. On into high school and college, we’ll take classes and pick majors that line up with what we feel we wanna do. We do things that line up with our will. But all of that should change once we turn our lives over to Christ.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with pursuing your dreams, and scripture tells us that God will give us the desires of our hearts (Psalms 37:4), as long as it’s within His will (1 John 5:14). But as far as our purpose in concerned, as Christians, it should always be according to what God would have us to do.

The trouble we have is walking the path to our purpose. We all seem to want the purpose, but not the process that comes with living it. Even when following our dreams, there can be steps that we have to take that aren’t necessarily glamorous, but necessary in order to achieve what it is that we desire. The same is true with our purpose. There are times when God sends us through some things on our way to that purpose. It’s so easy to look up during these times and feel lost and confused, as if we’re not on track with what we’re supposed to do. This is where our faith is supposed to kick in.

When the children of Israel were led out of Egypt by Moses, there was a destiny awaiting them in Canaan. But in order to get to that destiny, they had to cross a river and spend some time in the wilderness. They had to overcome an obstacle and then go through years of preparation (which included some people and some habits dying off) in order to reach their promise. What this means is that in order to reach what God has promised for us, we sometimes have to be in uncomfortable situations. Situations where it seems as if there’s no progress or growth, but if we continue to walk the path ordered by God, we will eventually receive His promise.

Part of getting to our purpose is doing what God has ordered us to do right now. Even if it’s not what we want to do, it may be essential to what God wants us to do. At issue is the fact that we’re more focused on the finish than we are on the race. There are times when we’re doing things that seem to be (according to our understanding) a waste of time. However, it may in fact be those things that will lead us to our purpose. We get frustrated because we don’t know all of the steps to our purpose. Only God knows that. So when we feel we’re lost, we could very well be on track. It may not be comfortable, but necessary. The only way to find comfort during this time is to surrender our will to God’s will and trust Him along the journey.

If I may share my testimony, I started writing in my teenage years in high school. I started out writing poems and short stories. I was also a musician, playing in the school orchestra and dabbling in other instruments like guitar and piano. My plan was to put my gift of poetry and music together and become a professional musician. After graduation, I enrolled myself in a college for creative students and began taking music theory. As far as I was concerned, I was on my way!

A few years after that, however, I found myself in broadcast school, learning radio and television production. My mother, recognizing my love for music, thought I might make a great deejay and brought me some information on the school. However, I fell in love with and excelled at television production, so after graduation, I went that route instead. I still had dreams of fame, but now as a television producer/director.

After working in that industry for 7 years, I felt writing calling me again, so I began writing my first book. In the midst of doing that, I started making music on my computer. Though signs were there, and even the call on my life from God had come (with me running from it), I had no plans to become a minister. That was my ordained purpose from God, given to me from the time I was in my mother’s womb, but I couldn’t see it because, as far as my eyes were concerned, the path I was on said anything but minister.

PhotoGrid_1432925643414Fast forward to today, and it’s all clear to me now. I’m now the author of 6 books, the last three spiritual in nature, and references to God and His Word are all throughout the first three. I now host a weekly radio broadcast where I can use the training I received in broadcast school. The theme music for my broadcast was something I created on my computer 13 years before I ever had a radio broadcast. It was something I created for my personal enjoyment, never knowing how it would ever figure in ministry down the road. I’m now using my editing skills from my video background to create YouTube videos (we’ve only scratched the surface with this).

When God finally called me into the ministry, He begin to open up my understanding as to why I had gone down all of these different roads in life. I thought I was gonna be famous, but He wanted me to preach His Word. The ministry that He has called me to is unique. It’s not just a ministry for the pulpit or to be used only inside the church walls. For this specific time, in a very specific way, God prepared me for a very unique ministry. I didn’t understand the plan or the purpose, but I walked every road He told me to walk. For that reason, I’m able to do ministry exactly as He’s called me to.

Scripture tells us that the steps of a good man are ordered by The Lord (Psalms 37:23). If there’s anything I want anyone reading this to remember, it is the fact that there will be times when you’re walking certain roads in life and it will seem as if you have no clue of why you’re doing what you’re doing. It will seem as if what you’re doing is fruitless. I’m here to tell you that if you’ve given your life to Christ, you are what the scripture calls a “good man” (or woman). This means that God has ordered your steps. This means that just because you don’t know where you are, it doesn’t mean that God doesn’t know where you are. He won’t order your steps without mapping out your path. You must surrender your will (what you had planned for your life) to His will (what God has ordered for your life).

If we are servants of God, then we must come to understand that a servant has no will. A servant’s desire is to do the will of his master. In this case, we are all bound by Romans 8:28, which states that we are called to God’s purpose, not our own. Once you accept that, then you’ll truly know the difference between being lost and being uncomfortable. And when you’re living according to God’s purpose, there can be no greater definition to your life.

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!