Wednesday, December 21, 2005

His Plans Are Fool Proof

There have been times in my life when God has opened up huge doors for me but I’d become worried about whether or not I was able to do what God was giving me the opportunity to do. Everything would be perfect; all that I would ever need in order to do what God was allowing me to do was provided and all I had to do was use the gifts He’s given me in order to do so; but still I would doubt by abilities.

Our boy Moses was in the same situation, well almost. In Exodus 3 and 4 we read of when Moses was tending his father-in-law’s flock and he went deep into the wilderness to the mountain of Sinai. Out of nowhere, a burning bush caught Moses’ attention. He was amazed at the fact that the bush wasn’t burning up, and like any guy, he was curious enough to go figure out what was going on.

When he got to the bush, God spoke to him from it and told him that He was going to send him to deliver the Israelites from Pharaoh’s grasp in Egypt. Once this information soaked in, Moses began to question the plan. In verse 11 we see that Moses had already started doubting his ability to do what God was asking by voicing his concern that he didn’t feel able enough. God then reassures Moses in verse 12 that He would be with him.

Even though talking to God through a fireproof burning bush is enough proof for most people that everything is going to work according to plan, Moses continued to doubt. In verse 13 he told God that the people wouldn’t believe him when he’d tell them that He had sent him, with which God once again reassured Moses that things would be ok. As if Moses didn’t hear the answer, he once again protested and told God that there was no way that anyone would believe him. God again told Moses that the plan would work out as He said it would and that he didn’t need to worry.

In Exodus 4:1-8, Moses continues to question whether or not He is able and God continues to show him that He will prepare him for anything that he will encounter. God even gives Moses the power to perform miracles like turning his staff into a snake, causing leprosy on his hands, and turning water to blood, yet Moses still complains—this time that he is not a good speaker.

I can only imagine what was going through God’s mind. He was sitting here providing everything that Moses would need in order to carry out the objective He had given him and Moses still doubted! This must have been so frustrating to God! In Exodus 4:11 God finally tries to talk some sense into Moses by showing him that He makes and controls everything, “Who makes mouths? Who makes people so they can speak or not speak, hear or not hear, see or not see? Is it not I, the Lord?”

Even after this, Moses still asks God to send someone else because he didn’t feel he was a good speaker. God, who we can clearly see is upset in verse 14, decides to send Aaron along with Moses as the speaker and Moses finally does what God asked.

Have you ever been in a situation where you know that God provided the opportunity for you to be there and yet you doubt whether or not you’re able to fulfill what God has sent you to do? It could be as simple as moving into a new job that God has provided and feeling that you aren’t able enough to match the quality expected. Or maybe God’s called you to move somewhere and He’s provided all that you’ll need, yet you feel you aren’t good enough to do what God has called you to do there. When we are in situations when we feel like God has provided for us and then left us, we must remind ourselves that God will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6) and that through Him we can do all things (Philippians 4:13). Be encouraged by the fact that God will cause everything to work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Affiliation Examination

For many students, the worst time of the year is exam week. Everyone is giddy because they know that vacation is about to start, but instead of being able to just enjoy the last couple of days of class, students everywhere are busy getting ready to take tests that determine whether or not they've used their time wisely in class. Their future counts on these exams; if they do well enough then they could get into a better college or their GPA may rise and their resumes will shine brighter, but if they fail, they will have to take the class all over again and the money they spent on their education will be of waste.

Sadly, there are many who claim to be Christians but they fail the “Affiliation Examination”. These “Christians” fail because others assume they are in no way affiliated with Christ—they are confused by others as heathens. They say they love God, or that they are Christians, yet their lives don't show it. They ask the world what is right or wrong instead of finding the truth in the Bible. If they do decide to go to the Bible for answers, they ignore passages that convict them and distort the Word of God by reading verses out of context. They want to hear “God loves you” and “Heaven is a wonderful place” but they don't want to read/believe the passages that tell them that they need to reform their ways. They go to church on Sunday but they don't strive to apply what they've learned Monday-Saturday. Their faith in Christ is not genuine and Christ is not among them. In Romans 8:9, Paul tells us that if we are Christians then we will allow the Holy Spirit to guide us and not our sinful nature:
But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them are not Christians at all.)
Just like the Jews who relied on God's law but didn't obey it caused non-believers to blaspheme the name of God (Romans 2:24), so do those who claim to be “Christians” yet do that which is of this world. Those who have truly accepted Christ into their lives have the Holy Spirit in them who guides them and helps them determine what is right and wrong (John 14:26; John 16:8).

Have you been spending your time wisely by applying God's Word to your life so that your lifestyle will mimic that of Christ's? Or have you ignored God completely and turned to this world for satisfaction and guidance? Paul says in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves to see if your faith is really genuine. Test yourselves. If you cannot tell that Jesus Christ is among you, it means you have failed the test.” Because we all stumble, we must constantly examine our lives and faith. Strive for excellence and dive deep into God's Word. Strengthen your relationship with Christ by learning His ways and work hard at mirroring the lifestyle He led. Let there be no mistake as to who you are affiliated with.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Devine Mirror

Because we are human, maintaining our walks with Christ and keeping them in tip-top shape will always be a challenge. So, how do we as Christians work on our walk? What do we need to do in order to strengthen our relationship with Christ? There is a tool that I use in order to make sure I model my life after Jesus. This tool is extremely valuable, yet many Christians don't seem to give it enough thought. The tool I am talking about is God's Word itself: The Holy Bible.

Sadly, there are some Christians who wonder through life without any true guidance. They seek out counselors, family members, and friends yet they don't rely enough on the word written by the greatest counselor of all, our loving father and our merciful friend, the Lord Himself. They read parts of the Bible but are picky on which parts they obey, but how can we love the Lord and not accept His Word in its entirety?

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do."

We must be careful to take to heart what His Word tells us. The Bible is like a divine mirror that shows us how to improve our relationship with Christ, but if we don't do what it says, we are no more than fools (James 1:23-26).

It is easy to go a long time without reading God's Word because of the busy lives many of us live but it is important that we stick to it and make an effort to set aside a time during the day when we allow His Word to engulf, inspire, convict and uplift us. We must crave the Word of God as it will nourish us spiritually (1 Peter 2:2)!

Do you make time during your day to read, pray and live out God's Word? Do you purposely ignore certain scripture because of the conviction it brings? The Bible is a divine mirror that guides us to be more like Christ; we must look into this mirror constantly so that we can stay on His path. Strive to grow in knowledge of God's Word and you will find joy in doing His will (Psalm 40:8). "The grass withers, and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever" (Isaiah 40:8).

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Do I Know You?

The other night I went out to eat with some friends after a Bible study we had. Once we were seated we began to chat and look through the menus. In no time our waitress appeared, laid down our silverware, and proceeded to give me the “Do I know you?” look. She then asked me if I went to Fellowship Church with which I quickly replied “I do”. She then told me that she was friends with a girl that used to work in the preschool with me. She mentioned how much she loved Fellowship and after a while of chatting she left to give us some time to ponder about what we wanted to eat.

As we were waiting for this waitress to come back, I was reminded of how important it is that we constantly act Christ-like. If this waitress would have seen me doing something bad, and then asked me if I went to Fellowship Church, she would have assumed that there was no change in me and my witness would no longer be credible to her!

The Devil wants no more than for us to fail; he knows that as humans we are weak but because we have accepted Christ we are not normal humans! We are peculiar people, people who should be eager to do what is good (Titus 2:14)! The Bible tells us that as Christians we need to be the salt and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16)! Therefore, we must constantly strive to be more Christ-like no matter the situation or the people we are around.

Are you conscious of the watchful eyes of this world? Are you constantly doing things that could cause others to question whether or not there has really been a change in you? As Christians our hearts are no longer full of darkness, they are full of light from the Lord. Because of this, our behavior should show it (Ephesians 5:8-9)! Strive to be like Christ, make His Kingdom your primary concern and you will find that He will provide all that you'll ever need (Matthew 6:33).

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Urge To Show His Love

You’re in public, surrounded by people who you don’t know and all of a sudden you get the urge to sit by someone and talk with them. Why do you have this urge? Why are you interested in talking with this person you don’t even know? The truth is, you may not know, yet you do it anyway. You sit down and converse with this person even though talking with them wouldn’t be the normal thing to do since you have never talked with them before. There have been a lot of times in my life where I have been in situations just like this and the outcomes have been nothing short of gifts from God.

My mother also has a collection of stories where she satisfied an urge that the Lord gave to her. For example, about seven years ago, at the church that we used to go to, there was a ladies retreat that my mother attended. During this retreat, a woman who was just merely an acquaintance of my mother’s, walked down the isle in the middle of a speaker’s speech and asked my mom to follow her. When my mom and this lady were at a place where they could talk, this woman told her that she felt like committing suicide. My mom then prayed with her and asked God to alert her, day or night, when this lady needed to be prayed for. The next morning at three o’clock, my mother woke up and her thoughts were flooded with this woman. She immediately remembered asking the Lord to alert her when this lady needed prayer so she began to pray for her. The next day, my mom called to check on this woman and she said that the night before she was indeed in need of prayer! Not only did she need prayer, but the time when she was having trouble was at three in the morning!

Another great story of a time when my mom did something that she felt the Lord was telling her to do, even though it didn’t make sense, was during Easter one year. The Lord has blessed my mother with great creativity and she uses this gift in her soap business called “Heavenly Scent Soapsuds”. This soap business isn’t just a business to her though, it’s a ministry--my mom includes a business card in the soap packages that tells people about Christ. During Easter, my mom felt God tugging at her heart to take a bar of soap to the grocery store and give it to someone who needed to be pampered. It turns out that when my mom got to the store there was a woman who had to work the night shift and was exhausted. My mom didn’t know this at the time, but she randomly talked with this woman and the lady was amazed at the blessing provided to her by my mom! The soap was even the lady’s favorite color and scent!

Many times we tend to stay in our own bubble and not communicate with others. We get in the habit of only talking to those who we know and are comfortable talking with. It’s not natural for many of us to be so outgoing but Hebrews 13:1-2 says, "Continue to love each other with true Christian love. Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!"

Are there times when the Lord puts you in a situation to help someone but you ignore them and continue on? Do you sometimes have an urge to take a leap of faith and do what you feel God is telling you to do but instead you don’t follow through? We are called to love one another and treat each other as we would want to be treated (Matthew 7:12). Dig deep into God’s word and mirror God’s example of supporting and loving others, even if the method you feel God is leading you to use feels weird.