….And He said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he (Jacob) said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me (Gen 32:26)~~ Ever feel like quitting? “Are you kidding?” you ask, “A better question would be, ‘How many times TODAY have I felt like quitting?’ ” Sure. We’ve all felt like “throwing in the towel” at one time or another. If you haven’t, I suggest that you check your pulse quickly. And here’s a real shocker for you: the notion that “winners never quit” is a joke! Everyone – even (insert successful person here) – has not only felt like it, but has even quit at one time or another. Get over the notion that it’s supposed to be easy! The “road of life” that we each travel isn’t one endless stretch of flat, paved expressway, but rather, is filled with curves, crests, valleys, detours, potholes and bumps. It is this very unpredictability that makes it so interesting and alluring. We just have to have faith in what God’s Word says about what’s around the next curve. Many of us quit when things don’t happen quickly or easily or the way we want it! Just remember: The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all (Ecc 9:11) But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved (Matt 24:13). The greatest inspiration I’ve heard in a while was from a friend dealing with some personal adversity. In my offering encouragement to him I said to him “you will be fine man, just don’t give up” to which his response was “Give up? I don’t know HOW to do that!”- now if THAT’s not faith and perseverance, I don’t know what is!
Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith (Heb 10:35-38)~~ God intends that we are all blessed…when HE is ready to bless us. So often we give up on His promise for our lives because it doesn’t come when we are ready to see it. We think that if we don’t have something by a certain point in OUR time that He is not going to give it to us at all when actually God JUST might be blessing us through the manifestation of prerequisite events. Every blessing has a path that must be traveled. Christ had to go through the years on earth, the sufferings, the cross, and the grave before He could rise and be in the power of The Promise… He went through HELL! Think about that next time you think things are bad!! In order to get TO the greatness of your blessing, you may have to go THROUGH a time that requires your commitment and patience. Therefore you can’t give up on God’s promise just because you feel like it’s not happening in your time or plan. Remember His thoughts and ways are higher than yours. He sees a bigger picture and HE knows the best plan and the best time for everything. If you stop believing just because of the delay, you miss the true blessing! While you’re spending your time and life complaining. .. you are missing the blessings He has for you. You can’t be in control of everything… but rather be happy and trust in Him who IS in control. Be strong in the Lord and the power of His might. Don’t give up! Wait on Him! While waiting… keep on doing what’s right. Keep giving God your “yes” while He works out your mess. Be not weary in well doing. .for in DUE SEASON … HIS due season you shall reap if you faint not.
Feel like giving up? Think on THESE things:
- I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil 4:13
- Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
- Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. Deut. 31:6
- Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Eph. 6:10
- The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. Psalm 28:7
- I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD; I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only. Psalm 71:16
- But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
- Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. I Cor. 9:24
- Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, Heb. 12:1
- Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. Zech. 4:6
- For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. II Tim. 1:7
- It is God who arms me with strength, And makes my way perfect. Psalm 18:32
Won’t He Do It?
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts (James 4:3); For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord (Isa 55:8)~~ so often we allow ourselves into misinterpreting what the Word of God says about what we can obtain, achieve or experience. When this happens, we find ourselves feeling rejected, neglected and disappointed because we feel like we should have what we prayed for. Sure, we believe we can do what the Word says we can do, be what it says we can be and have what it says we can have, but all of this has to be in accordance with GOD’s will and thoughts, not what we seek to satisfy our flesh or raise our own stature.
Just because we pray for it and say ‘in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen’, doesn’t mean that God will say ‘yes’. There are some things, things that may be very important to us and in our own minds, vital to our happiness, success and comfort, but God’s intent is that we are brought to Him and if there is some pinnacle that we reach that will impede that progress, He is not going to just allow it, no matter how we spin what ‘good’ that desire will bring for us. God sees differently with respect to those things we ask for and even if we see ‘not having’ what we ask for as a detriment, God sees the good that ‘not having’ will do us. We can say ‘I won’t feel good about that part of my life if things don’t go this way’; but God will say ‘Your feeling good about things is not what’s important, Your faith in where I will take you beyond that desire are what my plans are for you’.
No matter how we justify what we think we should have and the good we feel like it will do for us, God’s “good” IS good. He’s not going to approve something we desire that’s not for the uplifting of our relationship with Him. Some of us are so adamant, stubborn and strong willed about what we want that we continue to seek it by any means, even without God’s approval. And guess what, sometimes we GET what we want. When we turn away from Him though, seeking to obtain in our own efforts aside of Him, He sometimes allows us to experience that thing and then in a very valuable dose of sovereignty, go through the hurt of its consequence to learn a lesson. We must learn to trust God’s ‘No’, no matter how much our complete being feels like we should have a ‘Yes’. He’s not going to just ‘give’ us what we want if He knows it is only to satisfy our fleshly desires but will hurt the relationship of our Spirit with Him!
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched–this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. (1 John 1:1-2)~~ At Christmas, we focus on the birth of Christ – the beginning of His “human” presence on Earth. But unlike every other human birth that has ever happened, the birth of Jesus was not the beginning of a new life. Rather, He who was there at The Beginning “appeared”. And this appearance was not a dream or vision or apparition. The appearance was an extended visitation, a flood of revelation, all lived in a real life. “The life appeared.” It was heard; it was seen; it was touched. Bethlehem was not the beginning of the life of Christ, and that’s why His life can change our lives. Jesus said: Before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58). What was new at Bethlehem was the way God reached out to the human race. Whereas in the past God spoke through the words of prophets, a new God-speech began at Bethlehem. God “has” spoken to us by his Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word (Heb. 1:2-3). So Christmas is about the Good beginning, and it is about the rescue of the now. A new contact with the human race by the One who has been there all along. Merry Christmas and God Bless You!
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end (Isa 9:6-7)~~ We talk about Christmas being the time we observe the birth of Jesus, but what is the significance? It’s about more than just the day we observe that our Savior was born – for we all know that the true worth of what we have in Christ is the complete cycle beginning with His birth, but including the life, death and resurrection of Him; to complete the work to our own eternal salvation. This Child, Christ our savior, was born for the benefit of us men, of us sinners, of all believers, from the beginning to the end of the world. He is called Wonderful, for He is both God and man. His love is the wonder of angels and glorified saints. He is the Counselor, for He knew the counsels of God from eternity; and He gives counsel to men, in which He consults our welfare. He is the Wonderful Counselor; none teaches like Him. He is God, the mighty One. Such is the work of the Mediator, that no less power than that of the mighty God could bring it to pass. He is God, one with the Father. As the Prince of Peace, He reconciles us to God; He is the Giver of peace in the heart and conscience; and when His kingdom is fully established, men shall learn war no more. The government shall be upon Him; He shall bear the burden of it. Glorious things are spoken of Christ’s government. There is no end to the increase of its peace, and the happiness of its subjects shall last for ever. It’s more than just remembering the ‘birth day’ of Christ…but the understanding of the victories He brings!
“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’–which means, ‘God with us.'”(Matt 1:22-23) ~~
“With us.” There is hardly a more central promise that God has ever made to human beings. The alternatives are just too horrifying to imagine. If God has abandoned us, and that is why so many bad things happen in life, then what does that say about God, and what does it say about our destiny? If God vacillates, willing to be “with us” only as long as we don’t get too obnoxious, coming and going like a father who keeps giving up on being a father, where does that leave us? If God is incapable of being with us, then we have to conclude that we will never reap the benefits of divine presence, and words like grace, mercy, love, and truth have no meaning.
Isaiah was the prophet who was given the message. In a time when Israel’s enemies where bearing down on them, he gave this startling oracle about the Lord giving a sign, a virgin would conceive and give birth, and the promise in the child: Immanuel. God with us.
Jesus was born, but He was sent, and Immanuel was one of His names. God with us! That was why so many people didn’t understand Him. His voice came from a different place. He turned life upside down with the truths He presented. But He also left people with the sense that they had never been closer to God than when they were with Him. We don’t need to stay lost. God is not indifferent to our condition. And He came to us in the most radical way, by taking our flesh, our humanity, on Himself.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins (Matt 1:18-21)~~
The most important thing we know about Joseph is that at the right moment in his life, he was full of faith and grace. He found out that the woman he was engaged to be married to was pregnant, and though Mary had the benefit of the message of an angel who explained her unique conception, Joseph hadn’t been visited yet. All he had was Mary’s word. So what was that conversation like? No, she hadn’t slept with another man. Yes, she was pregnant. And yes, a spiritual being had told her that she would conceive by a unique act of God— and as if that wasn’t enough— the child in her womb would be the Savior of the world! Why did Joseph believe her? Why did he change his first plans to quietly divorce her so as not to expose her to public shame and instead take her as his wife? I ask myself, if I were in his shoes, If I would have believed Mary.
Here is something for all of us to think about: Think of Joseph. Think of him looking into Mary’s eyes, hearing her account, knowing in his heart of hearts it was true, and having the courage to act on that faith knowledge even though he may have had doubts. As nonsensical as it seemed, he believed it. As much as the idea of a virgin conception violates every norm of what we know about real life, he knew it was possible with God. As risky as it was to stay with Mary and be branded by others as the hapless dupe of an immoral woman, Joseph decided to put everything on the line. That is true faith. And it is true grace. It wasn’t just that he believed Mary; he believed God. That God could; that God might; that God would; and that God did! May God, give us that iron-strong faith that at the birth of Jesus He really did enter this world— our world— and He is still working powerfully in it.
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Cor 12:8-9)~ We all have that ‘thing’ that is the thorn of our side, that problem or issue or ailment or condition or bad habit or vice; that pains our bodies and troubles our spirits; that we WISH God would take away. But if you’ve lived at all you know by now that you typically don’t see that prayer answered IN THE WAY YOU’D LIKE it answered. In fact, you’ve probably asked WHY does God allow this to be! The Bible tells us that “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). This is our reminder that trials and challenges are a part of our life. It’s common to hear folks say “trials come to strengthen you”. So what strength do I get from having that ‘thing’ in my life??? God allows these trials that we may trust in His Grace! He tells us His Grace is sufficient but our response has to be to TRUST in that Grace. In our selfishness, we (and I know at some point you have done it) ask, ‘Why doesn’t He just remove the pain, problem, condition or issue?’. Here’s your answer: If He removes the ‘thing’ we forget about the Grace and our dependence on Him! If the ‘thing’ stays with us, we come to keep our mind stayed on HIM, which is where we get our perfect peace! We learn to trust the Grace more and more and when you do something more and more, you get better at it. What better thing to get ‘better’ at than loving, trusting and depending on the God that gives us grace to trust in? What better thing to have on you to get you through those ‘things’ than the Power of Christ? The Lord we serve and trust, is God alone. All that God has said is plain, satisfactory, and just. We may not feel comfort with the ‘thing’, but His Grace is enough to get us through it, and He will keep us in His perfect peace if we depend and trust in Him. As God in His word calls us to seek Him and depend on Him, so He has never denied believing prayers, nor disappointed believing expectations. But He gives us Grace sufficient, and comfort and satisfaction of soul.
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour (1 John 2:18)~~ Two-thousand years ago, when the apostle John wrote this passage, he sensed that the end of the world was upon us. Yet people who want to refute the Bible say things like, “Well, here we are two-thousand years later, and the world hasn’t ended!” But isn’t it funny how many of those same people believe that the world is hundreds of billions of years old, yet a measly couple thousand years is their proof that John’s statement was wrong?
The apostle Peter, moved by the Holy Spirit, wrote the following:
First, I want to remind you that in the last days there will be scoffers who will laugh at the truth and do every evil thing they desire. This will be their argument: ‘Jesus promised to come back, didn’t He? Then where is He? Why, as far back as anyone can remember, everything has remained exactly the same since the world was first created.’ …But you must not forget, dear friends, that a day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise to return, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish, so He is giving more time for everyone to repent. But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief… (2 Pet 3:3-10, NLT)
Jude also forewarns in the 18th verse of his letter that in the last days, people would attack, retaliate against, ridicule and make fun of us who hold to the truth of Scripture. And what will be the primary reason that they will do so? He makes it clear that it will be so that they can have freedom from guilt as they follow after their godless desires.
We who believe the Bible become lights that a sinful world does not want piercing its darkness. After all, the apostle Paul even wrote that Satan is the god of this fallen world (2 Cor. 4:4). So just by being witnesses for Christ and walking in His word, we remind this world of its guilt before God. And though we are by no means perfect ourselves, we are in the only Christ who paid for our sins. Therefore, being light in darkness is something we need never be ashamed of! Yes! There are antichrists (or enemies of Christ) alive and well everywhere today. And rather than making us ashamed or afraid, it should make us emboldened and encouraged that we are constantly seeing the prophetic words of Scripture being fulfilled right before our eyes! So, Christian, don’t fall for Satan’s ploys to make you feel ashamed of your religious beliefs because there are bad examples of religion in the world. The Lord warned that the enemy would sow such tares among the true wheat (Matt. 13:24-30).
It would be far easier to get away with just being who we are and blending in with those of the world rather than standing out and having our difference from them show. We who represent Christ will be attacked very easily and comfortably by atheists and others who do not see Jesus Christ as Lord, because this fallen sinful world is their home, not ours; we’re on their turf. We’re not like them, and we don’t live like them although we live here with them, but because we’re washed in the blood of the Lamb, we are hated by the world. But once again, Scripture proves itself true, because Jesus said it would happen (see John 15:18-20). This world is not the home of the true Christian. If it were, then there would not be so many anti-Christians around. “Be of good cheer,” said Jesus, “For I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). And, therefore, so have we…
And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. (2 Kings 5:10-14)~~
At some point in your life you’ve probably felt led to do something by God that seemed a little crazy or ridiculous at that very moment. Perhaps you asked God to do something in your life, but the initial outcome was not what you expected and you KNEW that the approach you took was the easy one that YOU wanted to take, rather than what you KNEW was the way God would intend! But you were not willing to humble yourself enough to submit to God’s methods. You wanted it how you wanted it, when you wanted it and the way you wanted it to come! When we ask God to do something in our lives we should never do it with an attitude or an expectation of exactly how and when He should do it. We are not greater than God and we must place our full faith in Him that He will do it at the right time and in the right way.
We are not in charge. God is the one in charge and, each of us must fully humble ourselves before Him and realize that His ways are not our ways. Now we might see some successes in our lives doing things our way, but we always have snags along the way and more times our efforts fail us. But when we submit to the Will of God, we might experience bumps here and there as He removes from us those things that hinder our success… That we hold onto kicking and screaming until we realize they were what has held us back; but our end result is exactly what God intended for us! Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones (Prov 3:5-8).