"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
Ephesians 6:18King James Version (KJV)
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Hebrews 4:14King James Version (KJV)
14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
Proverbs 15:29King James Version (KJV)
29 The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.
Psalm 102:17 (KJV)
17 He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.
Psalm 17:6 (KJV)
6 I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech.
1 Chronicles 16:11King James Version (KJV)
11 Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually.
BUT GOD ALSO SAYS:
Deuteronomy 6:16 (KJV)
16 Ye shall not tempt the Lord your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.
Matthew 4:7-10 (KJV)
7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
Luke 11:29 (KJV)
29 And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.
Most of us Monday-Saturday spend our time trying to keep up with the world. We all seem to be busy in today’s world. Even my retired grandparents seem to be busier now that they ever were while working.
It is in this business that we often lose track of God. He is long forgotten until next Sunday when we realize we need to pick Him up again. We grab our Bibles which sat Idly on our coffee tables (most of us never get it out of our cars) and we head over to attend service.
-Have you ever paid attention to how children pick things up about us, habits that we have that we ourselves don’t even notice?
-When a child picks up on a weakness or habit, they will use that to their advantage and train themselves to always when rejected, seek out that weakness until they get what they seek.
My kids know that they can win my wife over with kindness and sweetness, me not as much. Sadness works better for me.
We have trained them with that over time when we finally give in on situation after situation.
Children figure out really fast what types of behaviors gets them attention. After being a father, working in youth ministry, and being a juvenile justice officer, it is often easy to tell which children had good parents who paid them mind and who didn’t. I can tell you that most of those kids locked up did not because they figured out that bad behavior got them recognized by their peers and caused adults to surround them on all sides. They began to associate their negative behavior with the attention they got when they committed it. Now, instead of their parents doing their jobs, they are locked up with us and we are expected to give them the best care and treatment as if they were doing a good job and critique us.
Get HIM on the phone, hurry up, call 911 Jesus because I don’t think I can take another minute.
* You know when calling a dispatcher in an emergency, that person on the phone does not know you personally.
When Rescue Finally Arrives And You Are In The Midst of Your Trouble, How Do They Treat You?
That EMS is Like The Holy Ghost: He Is Your Guide, Protector, Provides Conviction, And Prays For Us……………911 Jesus
Finally They Get You Loaded Up In The Ambulance and On The Way To The Hospital For Professional Medical Help And Healing.
Isn’t That Just Like God, To Allow The Enemy To Knock Us Off Our Feet, Just Enough So He Can Bring Us Back To Him. And When We Embrace His Loving Arms, He Sets Us Back On Path For His Will.
1 John 5:14-15King James Version (KJV)
14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
911 JESUS… ONCE AGAIN HE HAS SAVED A LIFE!
Don’t Wait Until Jesus Has To Bring You Back To Life Again Before You Heed This Warning, This Time Stay Close and Draw Near To Him…..Don’t Make Him A 911 Jesus!
The Great Setup
You know that feeling you get just when you believe God is going to do something great in your life and then the most undesirable thing happens? I know that feeling really well….. REALLY WELL.
It’s the trouble that arises in the midnight hours, the flat tire the day after getting new ones, the spilled coffee on the new shirt you bought yesterday. It’s also the long-term undesirable events in your life such as the spouse becoming disabled after being completely healthy, the loss of a loved one, or the car accident that changes everyone’s life. It can’t be by accident right? No. I call this a setup, the Great Setup.
Sometimes when we believe bad things are happening and there can be no other answer than the enemy is trying to take us down, God can make situations result in our blessings.
Romans 8:28 tells us that, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Paul was a man who understood this concept of being set up well. He was truly “set up” at every corner he turned. There was not a place that Paul went where he did not run into some type of resistance. However, “we must endure and practice persistence to overcome all resistance!”
I don’t think you may have heard that, so let me say it again, “practice persistence to overcome all resistance!”
Paul knew a few things about persistence. You see, Saul (later known as Paul after God changed his name) knew about persistence long before he was even converted. Paul showed great persistence while chasing after the Christians while he was still a Jew seeking to destroy Christians.
Acts 8:3 says, “As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.”
This took great commitment and time to run down Christians who were already used to being secretive about their movement. They already knew that their lives were at risk, therefore they moved in secrecy. He even went long distances to find them which is why he was on the road heading towards Damascus when he was converted. God had to literally blind him just to get him to stop. He was a workaholic, a machine, a working maniac. Which was great for the cause of the gospel. He was such a hard worker, that he thought of marriage as so much of a time burden that he said it would be better and easier to not marry than to marry and work for the Lord.
Out of all the situations God led Paul to however, there was one that sticks out to me the most. That is the story of Paul and the viper.
Acts 28 King James Version (KJV)
28 And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita.
2 And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.
3 And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand.
4 And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.
5 And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.
6 Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.
7 In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously.
8 And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.
9 So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed:
10 Who also honoured us with many honours; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary.
Paul, after being ship wrecked at Melita stayed behind to minister to the people of that island. However, as he gathered wood to build a fire for warmth against the rain, a viper comes out of the woodpile and bites him on the hand. Due to the beliefs and customs of those residing on that island, the snake bite gave him the credibility to minister to those people.
Right now, someone under the sound of my voice has either recently, is about to, or is currently going through a similar situation as Paul here in Acts 28. I want to encourage you that you must remain confident in your faith. Know that God has your back and remember Romans 8:28. I have had to remind myself many times of such Scripture and God’s promises.
Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”
We are reminded of this also in Hebrews 13:5 by Paul himself to, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
Paul had just been bit on the hand by as the Word states, “viper.” This would have certainly been a venomous snake as most vipers are. The residents of the island believed that he was cursed because of this event, but isn’t it amazing how God can turn our situations from worse to the most well. He can turn bank accounts from negative, to positive numbers with commas, He can take broken lives and mold them like clay on the potter’s wheel because that’s just who Jesus is. He is the Lord God, He is the King of Kings, He is the Alpha and the Omega. He turned his birth in the humbleness of no room in the inn, to a triumphant return of a King coming to claim his treasure! Certainly He can take your situation and turn it around.
He did it for Moses, He did it for David, He did it for Paul, He has done it for me, and He can certainly do it for you!
So the next time you see someone and it looks like they just rolled out of hell itself, tell them to, “shake it off!” We must shake off the vipers, hold ups, and hang ups that come our way.
Those things that try to stop us, slow us down, and make us unfruitful are nothing more than imaginary vipers, set in place to keep you from accomplishing God’s purpose for your life.
All you were trying to do is collect some provision so you could carry on again tomorrow. You might be trying to work, so you can earn some money to eat, but because you witnessed to a few people along the way, a viper was set in your path to trip up your finances, your family, your job, your relationships, and we have to “shake it off!”
In due time, God is going to take that viper bite and use the enemies own venom against him to get the respect of the very individuals who are shouting you must be cursed because you’re a Christian and your life isn’t perfect.
Your island might not be Melita, it might just be the Merita bread factory, but its still the island God has put you on and the island you are destined to be a witness to.
Don’t overlook small or humble beginnings because Jesus didn’t start in the Mega-church, he started with just the priests as a boy. There were amused by his knowledge at such a young age, but it was obvious He was entertainment to them. Jesus was looked at as a joke in His hometown, but a hero in others. You must serve to the best of your ability wherever God has placed you and sometimes that means you may be shipwrecked along the way in your journey to the place you thought you were going.
You may have intended on being a missionary in New Delhi and instead get shipwrecked in Istanbul. Either way, you are doing the Lord’s work, so make the best of it. Either way, God has placed you right where He wants you in exactly the right moment He wants, so do your best to sow seeds wherever you go. Shake off the vipers along the way my friend, keep a positive attitude, and watch the Lord do miracles through you that you would have never imagined in your lifetime!
Swimming Against The Current
Jeremiah 2:19 (KJV)
19 Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts.
Jeremiah 3:22 (KJV)
22 Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God.
James 4:7-8 (KJV)
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
Romans 12:2 (KJV)
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
There is always opposition in this world whether we choose to face it or not. While there is a certain amount of spiritual warfare and resistance that will come, we should never add to it with our actions. Like an elevator that is occupied, we are only going two directions in life: forwards or backwards, but we never stay still. We can never be still because we are either growing in the Lord or we are backsliding. I can prove that to you....
Hebrews 6:1-3 (KJV)
6 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
3 And this will we do, if God permit.
Here in NC we have several main rivers that run East off of our elevated Appalachian mountain chain. One of those rivers is called the Roanoke River. We have a town called Roanoke Rapids where this river runs South East into the town’s area. This town got its name due to the speed of the current of the river at its location. It's known for its fast current and danger, however it's also a great location for catching large fish. Unfortunately, it is not an ideal location for man to be in the water. We are not equipped naturally for such strong currents as we are made to live on land. While we can walk in water that isn’t that deep or we can swim in it, it is nearly impossible to swim against such a strong current as we find in the Roanoke Rapids area.
Just as the progress of swimming against a current is determined by the speed of the water coming against you, the progress of our walk with God is determined as well. The things that we allow to be in our lives, the doors of sin that we open allow the current of life to come against us. This is true both corporately as a church and individually as Christians. We can open doors of resistance both as the church by living in complacency and not obeying the will of the Lord and by individuals by the same methods or by entertaining the sin of the world.
However, we are the controller of our own current. How comfortable we get today determines the speed of the current which comes against us. The more comfortable we get today, the more power the current will have tomorrow that we fight against. This is because our own comfortability and complacency has allowed that current to build up speed. This is where we are in America today, swimming against a current. Our children deny God because of our complacency. The world denies God because of our complacency. Babies are murdered because of our complacency and now we can't swim back because the current is to strong.
Salmon which are a type of fish do the same thing. They will sometimes swim as much as 2,000 miles upstream from the ocean to spawn. There drive to do what they do makes them fight with all their strength to reach their goal and destination. Yet many times, they do not make it or they die in the process.
Some of us are just like that fish Dory on the “Finding Nemo” movie by Disney. She loves to say, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” It helps her stay on course when the going gets rough, but is that always the best thing to do? It is if you serve God and abstain from sin, but not if you’re still held captive by sin, SWIMMING AGAINST THE CURRENT!
How many of us search this world over and over, swimming upstream, yet we do not find what we are so desperately seeking?
We will not find what we seek swimming against the current. We must grab ahold of a tree branch or whatever we can find. We must grab ahold of the hand of Christ as He convicts us, sends the gospel our way, or knocks on the doors of our hearts to let Him in to begin to free us. Let Christ throw you a life vest today! Let Christ save you from the sins which come against you in the current you have created against yourself! Don’t let another minute go by as you fight for your life, let God save it today!
If you are a seasoned Christian and have professed Christ as your savior, stop the bleeding of your backsliding and turn back to Him. Do as Jeremiah 3:22 tells us to “return, ye backsliding children.” “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil!” “Draw night to God today, and he will draw night to you!”
The Professional Opinion
Numbers 13:1-3, 27-31 (KJV)
13 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them.
3 And Moses by the commandment of the Lord sent them from the wilderness of Paran: all those men were heads of the children of Israel.
27 And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.
28 Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.
29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.
30 And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.
31 But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.
Mark 4:35-41 (KJV)
35 And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.
36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.
37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?
41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
Mark 7:1-16 (KJV)
7 Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem.
2 And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault.
3 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.
4 And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.
5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?
6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:
11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free.
12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;
13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
14 And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand:
15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.
16 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.
Many of us have encountered situations in our life that have required us to go seek someone else with a more specialized knowledge. I know that I have done this many times myself. I do not trust my limited understanding of concepts which I am not experienced at. I don’t fix my own cars or do my own plumbing. That is who I am, I call someone who does those things well.
The specialist you may have dealt with could be a number of things such as a carpenter, electrician, or painter. It might be a more specialized professional such as an I.T. security consultant, a financial professional, maybe even a medical specialist.
There are times when that knowledge helps us, while other times their specialized knowledge is not knowledge at all, but rather more like a walking book reference.
Sometimes these so called “professionals” speak from their limited experience or their negative outlook on life which they have gained from the pressures of life. Sometimes these individuals may even go beyond their area of specialty into areas not as well known.
We have just witnessed this type of situation in all three scenarios we just read about.
Looking at Numbers 13, the Israelite spies were self-proclaimed professional advisors to Moses. God told him to assemble a team of “heads of the children of Israel” as they were called. Notice they were not trained soldiers. God didn’t ask them to go get an opinion of the area, become experts in the field of war, navigation, planning, consulting, none of those things. The Word says they will, “search the land of Canaan” or another way of saying it may be, “explore the land of Canaan.” They were to report back, not give an analysis of what they believed God could do. Listen to what it says next, “which I give unto the children of Israel.” However, when they returned, a few seemed to believe that they were specialists in all of the above. Some of the spies, in their “professional” opinions, did not believe that they had the firepower necessary to take on such a feat as this, while others believed in the process God had laid out for them. They had seen what God had done and heard what He would do.
In Mark we see the disciples were professional sailors and fisherman. They were very well experienced and had the knowledge to navigate the water. They had made a living navigating some of these same waters prior to joining Jesus. However, they were not the creators of that water and the weather they faced. If they had just enough faith to ask God to remove that danger from their presence, He may have done it without even waking Jesus because only the Lord knows how much Jesus needed that sleep at the moment.
In Mark 7 the Pharisees were professional ministers of the Law, however little did they know that the fulfillment of the law stood right before their eyes. Their focus was so beamed in on idols that they missed the whole purpose of the law which had been given to them. These guys were so dilerious that they must have thought they were health inspectors, chastising Jesus over having unclean hands. This is why God knew He had to provide another way because the way that was already provided had been distorted and misconstrued by the religious of that day. That same attitude attempts to pervert the gospel today as well. However, unlike the law, we no longer need anyone to read God’s Word to us in order that we may understand it. We don’t need anyone to dictate God’s blessings, make sacrifices, and to pray for us as a holy priest. Jesus Christ has stepped in as our intercessor for us today, making atonement for our sins and restoring our relationship with God.
We have all witnessed “professional” opinions like this in our day.
You might have been the recipient of such a “professional” opinion recently. That opinion may have brought bad news about what is to come or what could happen. What they don’t know is that you serve God and what you do know is that God is greater than all these things. He is our creator, He is our provider, He is our healer, our restorer, and our promise of eternal life. We must have faith in the real professional who created all of these things and knows our situations.
There is only one professional opinion worth always listening to and that is the opinion of Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior!