Posted in 1Peter, Exodus, Psalms

Trusting God in the Storm

“Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:13-14

The Israelites were being squeezed between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea and there didn’t seem to be any way out. In their humanness they began to speak out of their fear instead of their faith. “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?” (Exodus 14:11) They had seen God’s power in the past, but they hadn’t really learned to trust His heart so when the storm came they operated in fear instead of faith. Have you been there? Are you tempted to go there right now? Moses gives them three instructions of how to trust God in the storm that are as applicable today as they were back then.

  1. “Do not be afraid.” You and I don’t have to be afraid. God knows what’s going on and He has everything under control. He loves us and He won’t abandon us when we need Him the most.
  2. “Stand firm.” This is the time to hold on to God. Peter says the devil goes about like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour so Christians need to “resist him, standing firm in the faith.” (1Peter 5:8-9) Our enemy makes a lot of noise and preys on our fears.  It’s time to recognize who is behind the voice of fear and stand against him in Jesus Name.
  3. “Be still.” When you’re afraid it is easy to speak wrong things and do wrong things that only make the situation worse. “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations.” (Psalm 46:10) Stop the train of anxious thoughts; quiet your heart, and let Him fill you with a fresh sense of His Presence. He is exalted in our storms when we trust Him.

If the Israelites hadn’t been squeezed they never would have seen the miracle of the Red Sea opening. I believe God has a miracle for whatever seemingly impossible situation you’re facing right now. Don’t be afraid; stand firm, and be still. You are not alone. God is fighting for you!

Posted in 1Peter, 2Corinthians, Exodus, Psalms

Diamonds in the Rough

“As for the saints of the earth, they are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.” Psalm 16:3

David didn’t just forgive God’s people, and he didn’t just tolerate the saints; he delighted in them. How can we do the same? I think the key is seeing them the way God sees them: Diamonds in the rough.

In Exodus 28:17 God commanded Moses to make an ephod with four rows of three precious stones each. The stones represented the twelve tribes of Israel and the priest was to remember that this was how God felt about His people by wearing this ephod over his heart whenever he came into God’s presence. Four rows – three in each row – ruby, topaz, emerald; turquoise, sapphire, diamond; jacinth, agate, amethyst; beryl, onyx, jasper – the saints are God’s jewels.

A frequent accusation against believers and an argument against the truth of Christianity is hypocrisy. When an unbeliever sees a so-called Christian fall short of their expectation, they say out loud or think to themselves, “I thought you were supposed to be a Christian! Hypocrite!”

But the authentic Christian doesn’t claim to be a perfect diamond, but a diamond in the rough. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels,” says the apostle Paul, “so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.” (2Corinthians 4:7) We have a sin nature; we have a struggle going on inside of us, but we also have a new nature and are part of a new creation.

Our responsibility toward one another is to look past the rough and start seeing and speaking to the diamond. Christians often focus on the wrong thing and get paralyzed by sin and shame, their own, and that of their brothers and sisters. Can we look past the rough? Peter exhorts us, “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another because love covers a multitude of sins.” (1Peter 4:8) Don’t you want others to love you like that? We can’t excuse sin but after confession, we dare not dwell on it, or we will miss what God is seeing.  

His delight is in the saints; let’s learn to delight in them too.

Posted in 1Peter, Galatians

Waiting on God

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time, casting all your anxiety upon Him because He cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1Peter 5:6-10

The language of the New Testament has two different words for time. One of them, “chronos,” corresponds to our word for time in definition, but the second, “kairos,” has no one English word to define it. “Kairos” is translated in a number of ways: “the right time;” “the proper time;” “an opportune time;” or as it is in the text above, “in due time.” All of these have the same basic meaning: “in God’s time.”

God has His own time for things. He does plan to lift us up, answer us, promote us, provide for us, and heal us in His time, but there is a time of testing that often comes before which requires us to wait on God. The text above gives us important clues of how to wait.

  1. Wait on God with humility. “Under God’s mighty hand” references God’s power. His face is who He is; His hand refers to His ability to act. God is able to do what you need Him to do. To wait humbly we must cast our anxiety about our situation on Him and leave it there. Let go, and let God!
  2. Wait on God with confidence. God cares for us. He loves us even when in our minds we question why He doesn’t remove the present suffering.  It’s at this point of waiting that the enemy roars in our ears accusations against God to undermine our faith. Remember: the loudest voice in your head is often not the truest one.
  3. Wait on God with perseverance. When we are suffering there is a great temptation to give up on God and take matters into our own hands. If we persevere, God Himself will use the waiting period before the kairos to make us “strong, firm, and steadfast.” “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time (kairos) we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
Posted in 1Peter, Isaiah, Psalms

Quieting Your Soul

“O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; nor do I involve myself in great matters, or in things too difficult for me. Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me.” Psalm 131:1-2

David learned how to quiet his soul. Infants immediately seek for milk when near their mother’s breast and have to be weaned away from the habit.  After a child has been weaned, they will rest quietly on their mother’s lap without frantically searching for food. Similarly, we naturally worry about that which we cannot control and have to be weaned from this tendency, so that we can find our rest in God. How do we quiet our noisy souls within us?

  1. Accept with humility the limits to human understanding. Although we can learn things about God, there are heights and depths to who He is and the way He does things that are beyond our capacity to figure out. David had surrendered those areas and recognized that it was only his pride that kept him from trusting God just because he didn’t know the answer to all the “whys” of this life. 
  2. Recognize that God is the center, not you. “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted in all the earth…” (Psalm 46:10) Astronomers have recently  discovered that there are billions more stars than they originally thought. The earth is a small place in a small galaxy that is a small part of the universe. The greatness of the heavens should help us to grasp both the enormity of God and the smallness of us. When we become large in our own eyes, anxiety easily creeps in. Our strength doesn’t come from our activity, but in our quietness and confidence in God. (Isaiah 30:15)
  3. Trust God’s love for you and in His willingness to save you.  Weaned children rest content because they have now eaten solid food. It is not enough to stifle our need for control, we must actively feed on God’s love and salvation. You are safe in His care. Although you can’t control anything, He can, and He will exercise loving and wise oversight to our lives if we will only trust Him. Peter says it this way, “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” (1Peter 5:7)
Posted in 1Peter, Romans

Pregnant with God’s Purposes

“We know that creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time…In the same way the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” Romans 8:22; 26-27

Effective prayer is like pregnancy. Humility recognizes that we don’t really know what to pray so it starts by asking, “God, what do You want to do in this situation?” As we open our hearts in sincerity and surrender, the Holy Spirit plants in us the very word of God concerning the situation we’re praying about and we become pregnant with the answer.

God’s Word to us, Peter says, is an imperishable seed that will stand forever. (1Peter 1:23-25) The only question once God has impregnated us with His purpose is will we persevere with Him in the place of prayer and agreement until heaven’s purpose becomes a reality on earth? There is a weight when we carry His purposes; there is an inward groaning when the very opposite of what we have prayed seems to be happening. Will we continue to travail until God’s full purpose is accomplished or will we give up and allow that vulnerable seed to be aborted before birth?

“If God wants to do something why doesn’t He just do it?” you may ask. He chooses to co-labor with us and has purposed that His plan will not be done on this earth unless someone on earth wants it, prays for it, and does whatever is necessary to birth it. Why else would He tell us to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven?”

Are you just surviving day to day or are you pregnant with God’s purposes for your life? Women that are pregnant don’t do things others do and don’t eat things other people eat because they don’t want to injure the baby. They limit their freedom because they don’t want to put what they are carrying at risk. Are you conscious that your life is not just about you, but about the One you are carrying and the purposes He has for you on this earth?

Now that’s something to pray about!

Posted in 1Peter, Acts, Galatians, John, Mark

God’s Timing

“It is not for you to know the times (chronos) or dates (kairos) which the Father has set by His own authority.” Acts 1:7

Two of the Greek words for time in the New Testament are “chronos” and “kairos.” Chronos is the word for sequential time which is how mankind usually thinks about time. There are twenty-four hours in a day, seven days in a week, and fifty two weeks in a year. We make plans and appointments in sequential time and live our lives trying to fulfill them.

Kairos is a word we don’t have one English word to describe. It is not sequential time, but rather, God’s time for something to happen. 

Vine’s Expository dictionary gives this distinction: “Chronos marks quantity (of time), kairos, marks quality.” (554) So how does recognizing God’s kairos time practically make a difference in our lives? Let me give a number of ways.

  1. Although we live in sequential time our priority should be kairos time. Jesus waited for God’s time to go to the feast while his unbelieving brothers had no such concern. “The right time (kairos) for Me has not yet come; for you any time is right.” (John 7:1-2) 
  2. We should not be frustrated by our present difficulties but can have confidence that if we keep doing what’s right, the time (kairos) will come when we will see God’s deliverance. “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God and in due time (kairos) He will exalt you.” (1Peter 5:6) “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time (kairos) we will reap a harvest if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
  3. History has a purpose and a direction way bigger than us, so we should be able to put all of our minor irritations in perspective.  Jesus died at the “right time” (kairos) for us (Romans 5:6); and we can be assured that Jesus will come back in God’s “appointed time” (kairos – Mark 13:33).
  4. As we respond to God’s dealings with us with a spirit of repentance, He desires “times” (kairos) of refreshing to come to us from the presence of the Lord. (Acts 3:19)
Posted in 1Peter

Generational Telephone

“God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all were saved.” 1Peter 3:20

Do you remember playing “telephone” as a kid? Someone comes up with an original statement that they whisper into the next person’s ear. That person, in turn, tells the next until it goes all the way around the circle. At the end you have the last person tell what they heard and then compare it to the original to see how much it’s changed.

Less than 5,000 years ago there was a world-wide flood on this earth and only eight people survived it. Five generations later people had strayed so far from God they built a tower to make a name for themselves, so God confused the languages. Five generations after that God spoke to Abraham and from there the Jewish race was established who carried the promise of Messiah and were entrusted with the story of what actually happened in the early years of mankind. Moses was the one who finally wrote it down.

Most cultures that arose out of the original eight people eventually wrote down their version of what happened as it had come down from their ancestors. Today we have over 300 different versions of a flood story from people who live all over the earth.*  After so many retellings it is amazing how similar they are. Of the over 300 accounts:

  • 95% are worldwide floods
  • 88% favor one family
  • 66% the family was forewarned
  • 66% it was the result of man’s sin
  • 70% survival was by a boat
  • 67% animals were saved
  • 57% survivors landed on a mountain
  • 35% birds were sent out

Georges Cuvier, the father of modern geology (he was the first who recognized mass extinctions in the earth’s past), maintained that catastrophes had happened in the earth’s history, the most recent being a world-wide flood. He wrote an essay called: “The Concurrence of historical and traditionary testimonies, respecting a comparatively recent renewal of the human race, and their agreement with the proofs that are furnished by the operations of nature.” To Cuvier the evidence of these testimonies meant there had to be an original. Noah’s flood is not a children’s story; it’s part of the history of our planet.

Posted in 1Peter, Romans

What are You Wearing?

“Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” Romans 13:14

Just because you have a new outfit in your closet doesn’t mean that you chose to put it on today. When we accept Christ into our hearts God gives us a new nature, but He doesn’t remove the old one. Christians have the ability to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ,” or to not put Him on. When we don’t put Him on we live governed by the same appetites, desires, fears, manipulations, and agendas that those in the world function under every day. Our lives become, “the survival of the fittest,” with a little God added on here and there.

But when we get up in the morning and put on the Lord Jesus, our new nature responds and transformation occurs, little by little, from glory to glory, until those around us can sense something different about us. It’s not just reflected in what we do but in who we are. They begin to smell the fragrance of His life in us even as we go about our daily responsibilities.

So what does it mean to put Him on? First, it means to die to self. When Paul said he, “died daily,” he was referring to dying to the carnal nature. Before you put on a new outfit you take off the old one. We have to do it every day because we won’t lose the old nature until heaven. Second, it means to choose an attitude that puts God first instead of self. Humility instead of pride, loving instead of competing, praying instead of presuming, serving instead of consuming, and thanking God for what’s good instead of whining about what’s bad.

We can’t produce any of these on our own, but we can choose an attitude that activates the new nature inside of us. In Christ, you have become a partaker in the divine nature (2Peter 1:4), so that what is easy for God can eventually become easy for you and me. We must practice putting on the Lord Jesus. The world around us rarely gets a glimpse of Christ even from those who call themselves Christians, so our lives stick out like a brand new outfit when we truly put Him on. Peter wrote: “Be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1Peter 3:15) When they see Him, they will ask.

Posted in 1Peter, Matthew

God’s Timing

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God and in due time He will exalt you.” 1Peter 5:6

Timing is very important to God. We want everything right now. I remember when our daughter Christina was only about three years old holding up her cup toward me saying, “Daddy, get me some milk.” Wanting to teach her good manners I replied, “What do you say, Sweetheart?” I’ll never forget that cherubic face that seemed to be a contradiction to her demanding tone as she uttered only one word: “NOW!”

It is the pride in us that demands God and people to do what we want them to do, now. God is gracious and loves us more than we can imagine, yet He wants more for us than we often want for ourselves. We think about our short term circumstances while He thinks about our long term character. Our Father wants to break off our pride, so that we can take on the beauty of His Son who is “meek and lowly of heart.” (Matthew 11:29)

One way He does this is timing. In our text the words, “due time,” are a translation of the Greek word, “kairos.” “Chronos” is the Greek word that measures epochs and periods of time, but “kairos” is a specific point of time; “an opportune time,” “at the proper time,” or as the NIV translates, “in due time.”  They all mean the same thing: “In God’s timing.” Ours is to humble ourselves knowing that God’s hand is mighty and able to do whatever we have asked, if we will only wait for Him instead of trying to manipulate things ourselves.

The next verse gives us instruction on how to humble ourselves: “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” We are to rest in His love and know that He is going to be active in taking care of what we have trusted to Him while we wait expectantly.

Posted in 1Peter, Acts, John

Thirsty for God

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” John 7:37

Are you thirsty for God? Not thirsty for knowledge about God; not thirsty for God to do something for you; but thirsty for God Himself? The reward for drinking the very presence of God into your spirit is that “rivers of living water” will flow out of your innermost being in blessing to those around you. (John 7:38) Ministry is more than what we do, it is whose strength we do it in. Peter says, “whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies.” (1Peter 4:11)

Serving God in our own power will quickly burn us out and leave a chip on our shoulder that says subconsciously, “I did this for God, so now He owes me.” We become dry and eventually bitter if we work without drinking. Make no mistake about it – what God gets out of this relationship is not the work we do for Him. Listen to Acts 17:24-25 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything.” God doesn’t need us, He’s in it for the fellowship we give Him while serving Him.

Several years ago I was overwhelmed by the presence of the Lord in a time of personal worship and kept saying, “I will do anything for you, I will do anything for you…”, when I had a clear stream of thoughts interrupt my prayer that went something like this: “I don’t want you to do anything for Me; everything I’m calling you to do, I’m calling you to do with Me.” Since that time I’ve tried to remember that God delights in relationship and that I must always drink of Him while working for Him. Make sure you take time to drink today.