Thursday, January 20, 2011

Why am I so miserable? If this is the Lord's will

Why am I so miserable? If this is the Lord's will is the title of the new book I have written. If life is not making any sense, and “doing the right thing” is not producing the results you expected or hoped for, and God seems to have let you down, this book may be of interest and help to you.
This book describes the misery that results from disappointed expectations of life and how joy, meaning, and satisfaction can be found when everything seems hopeless. The connection between the flesh and misery is revealed, showing how the flesh impacts every area of life. Discover what the flesh is, how its demands can lead to misery, and how to overcome the flesh and find true joy.
Barnes and Noble

Friday, January 14, 2011

Finding joy

Finding joy in Christ this moment requires:

Surrender: accept what, where and when God has allowed or provided for your life. Embracing with thankfulness whatever circumstance you are in, whether it is just simply boring or painful or frustrating or depressing, or enjoyable and fun.
Repentance: of any pride, arrogance, self-reliance, independence, or pursuit of the world and demands of the flesh that has kept you from fellowship with Him. (1 John 1:9)
Participation: be fully present and engaged where you have been placed, and in what you have been given to do. It is not living for what you plan on doing, or what you would like to be doing, but living for God now.
Dependence: (on God). Requires recognizing that our way, methods, plans and efforts do not work! Only God’s way will ever “work”. His way is the only way to peace, joy, and life to the full. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10b, NIV) Knowing this, yielding to His way throughout the day, depending on His enablement in prayer.

“Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7, NIV)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV)

“For to me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21, NIV)

“Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face evermore! (Psalm 105:4, NJKV) “For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.” (Psalm 9:10b, NJKV)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for you souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7, NKJV)

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through Me.’” (John 14:6, NIV)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Recognize your enemy

Our flesh (human nature) is always in opposition to the will and glory of God. Anytime we feel, want, or desire something that does not serve or honor God it is of the flesh and should be identified as what we are in opposition to, for the flesh is our enemy and will destroy us if we serve it.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Living by faith

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20a) How? Galatians 2:20b: “the life which I live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:21: Righteousness comes not by the law, but by the grace of God.
Faith: to act based upon what is believed. In v.20-21, faith in the Son of God is based on the belief that both salvation and sanctification is the work of Jesus Christ, made available to us by the grace of God. Living in Christ, abiding in Him is only possible by God’s grace. To die to self and live for and in Him requires total dependence on God’s grace. It is to act believing that He makes and will make it possible.
“I live by faith in the Son of God” (v.20) Our confidence is not in ourselves or in the law, but in Jesus Christ. We do not believe in ourselves, in what we can do, plan, or accomplish. To live by faith in the Son of God is to believe in Him and in what He can and will do in and through us when we abandon our will and way for His.
“Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life”. (John 14:6) “If you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:13) We have a choice: life (Christ) or death (self).
How is this applied? How do we stop trying to get this accomplished ourselves? When we hear we need to die to self, we think, OK, what do I do? How do I die to self and live for Christ? We strategize, plan, or make systems to follow to achieve this goal. But we fail. This approach always will fail because dying to self cannot be achieved by focusing on self-effort! (How can we die to self if we are continually focused on it?)
The only way dying to self takes place is in a positive approach: putting our focus, priority, attention on God instead of ourselves. Instead of focusing on dying, it is focusing on who we are living for.
Changing our focus does not mean that our emotions, wants, or desires are going to fall right in line or not conflict with our new priority (God). Living for and in Christ is a choice of our will, made possible by God’s grace. It is choosing to do what honors and pleases God despite how we feel, depending on His enablement through prayer to do it.
One of the ways in which God makes living for Him and in Christ possible is with the truth of His Word. Our emotions, wants, and desires can be so intense that they can over-power our will with rationalizations like “it won’t hurt me or anyone else”, “I need this to function/cope”, or “God is still honored as long as we keep the ‘important’ rules”; all these and others to convince us that living for Christ is not necessary every moment of the day. When this happens, it is the truth of God that will keep us from pursuing death instead of life. It reminds us that only God’s way is life (John 14:6); no matter how needful or desirable a selfish want may appear to be, it will not bring life, but death. It will not bring peace, but strife; sorrow, not joy; restlessness, anxiety, and irritability, not contentment or satisfaction. When we depend on God in prayer and are supported and encouraged by His Word, living in and for Christ can and will happen.
All praise to God for His great grace that made our salvation and sanctification possible, and who continues to do the work of sanctification in us. “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” (Hebrews 2:10-11)

Friday, December 24, 2010

True blessing

Do I see all that happens to me or that I suffer as God's design for blessing me?
When experiencing distress in any form or cause, the natural reaction is to find an escape from, or solution to this distress. Life becomes an endless pursuit of avoiding distress, whether it is emotional or physical. As it is impossible to avoid everything that will upset us or prevent all physical ups and downs, life becomes a frustrating struggle in which there are brief moments of "success" surrounded by situations in which we are unable to avoid distress. "Joy" in experienced when physical or emotional stress is avoided or resolved; God is praised for these "blessings".
But blessing does not come from a stress-free life. It comes from: 1)being poor in spirit; 2) mourning over sin; 3)being in submission to the Spirit's control (meek); 4) hungering and thirsting after righteousness; 5)being merciful; 6) purity of heart; 7)being a peacemaker; and 8) persecution for being righteousness. (Matthew 5:3-10)
How can poverty of spirit, mourning over sin bring blessing? Blessing would not be possible without them. Blessing comes from delight in, and fellowship with God. "Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!" (Psalm 34:8) If we are trusting in ourselves, and putting our confidence in what we do, then God isn't what we are delighting in or trusting; therefore, no blessing. If we are full of ourselves, there is no room for Him! Those who are poor in spirit are those who see the utter futility of their efforts to achieve peace, joy, contentment and satisfaction. They see that they are unable, God is able; that we are weak, He is strong; He never fails, but we do. The start to blessing is acknowledging our need of God and what He provides for us. Once this is done, acknowledging what offends Him and prevents fellowship(sin)and depending on Him for the forgiveness made possible through the sacrifice of Jesus. The more we know Him, the more we are offended by what offends Him,and mourn over our sin; as we agree with Him about our sin and the sin of others, we are blessed, for we honor Him.
Everything else described in v.5-10 of Matthew 5 are a result of abiding in Christ, having fellowship with the Father. When we are in fellowship with Him, we will hunger and thirst after righteousness; we will have mercy because of the great mercy shown to us; we will be pure in faith and in heart; we will bring peace and not strife, because we will bless and not curse when attacked (v.9, 44-45); the more we are like Christ, the more we will be persecuted (v.10-11), "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you." (John 15;18)
To want to avoid that which is painful, uncomfortable, or inconvenient is understandable. Doesn't the absence of these things make life more enjoyable? On the surface, that is exactly what they may appear to do; but any "enjoyment" that is found this way is temporary and lasts only for a moment.
If however, we choose to abandon our way, our means, and our will for God's, and accept all emotional and physical distress as part of His design to bring true blessing into our lives, we will find that knowing Him is a blessing that far surpasses anything the we can achieve without Him.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Driving me crazy

Is there anyone else out there who finds themselves getting bent out of shape when behind the wheel of a car? I am amazed at just how quickly I lose patience and get frustrated with the way other people drive. To compound the problem, try driving when you are tired, hungry, and irritable. While for me it does not develop into "road rage", if anyone could hear the conversation I are having with people that cannot even hear me, they would think it ridiculous. Many times I have found myself saying a few choice words, and then are convicted straight away. I know that the way I am reacting is not honoring the Lord or being loving to others.
So I prayed about it. What God enable me to understand is that when you are emotionally and physically worn out, and when someone frustrates your method of driving (the way you want to do things),it will reveal whether at that moment you are walking by the Spirit or according to the flesh.
Our flesh does not make demands or complain as long as it is comfortable and things are going our way. But when it is not comfortable and is being inconvenienced, our natural response is to resolve it immediately. Whatever means we use to cope: whether it is food, TV, games, socializing (Facebook), etc. is sought. When we cannot get to or use our coping mechanism, that is when we will get angry and frustrated. Everything and everyone that is hindering us from coping becomes our enemy. Our flesh will irrationally accuse others of purposely going out of their way to make us miserable.
When we allow the frustration that we feel control our responses, this is walking according to the flesh. Walking according to the flesh will always result in interpersonal conflict, for it is placing our needs before the needs of others and seeing what they do as preventing our happiness. It is self-centered, self-destructive and will only result in misery. It is opposed to the will and way of God, who is love.
What to do then? How do we respond when other cars won't let you merge on, cut us off, go ten miles under the speed limit, etc.? As soon as there is an irritated or angry reaction, bring it to the Lord and let it go; accept the circumstances that He is allowing and thank Him for them! Praise and give thanks to Him for all things. "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:4-7, NKJV)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What is a call of God?

A call of God is an inward desire, compulsion or conviction that God gives us to do a work of ministry for Him. This work of ministry can be anything from teaching to hospitality to foreign missions; it can be for a particular people or place.

A call of God is not anything we can develop on our own. Neither can another person develop it in someone else. Only God calls; and when He calls us, He always makes it crystal clear what He wants us to do; He will provoke us until we do it! An example of this is the prophet Jeremiah, who was called of God to preach; he testifies in 20:9 of what happened when he tried to keep silent: "Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay."

If we are wondering if we are called for a particular task, people, place or ministry because we are feeling a response to an outward appeal, always bring this response to the Lord. If this is what He wants us to do, He will make the call certain; He will burden us to do it, and will bring other people to confirm it. If He has a different work in mind for us, uncertainty will remain. If there is no clear answer in the affirmative, then do not pursue it! Continue to seek His will and what particular work He has for you. He will always place a burden on our hearts, a desire to do what ministry He has for us to do.

Can we miss a call from God? Yes, if we are out of fellowship with Him (we are walking by the flesh and not the Spirit, that is, we are in sin) we will not be able to hear His call. "If I regard iniquity in my heart,The Lord will not hear." (Psalm 66:18)NKJV We can also hear it and choose not to obey it (which is sin and results in misery).