Monthly Archives: July 2012
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” (2 Samuel 15: 22 NIV)
God had commanded King Saul to go and attack the Amalekites and totally destroy them in retaliation for what they had done to the children of Israel (2 Samuel 15:2). Saul was told not to spare any of the inhabitants, not even the animals. He attacked the Amalekites but he spared the king and the best of the sheep, cattle, calves and lambs, everything that was good. God was grieved by the disobedience of Saul and sent Samuel to tell him that because he had rejected the Word of God, God too had rejected him as king of Israel.
There are several examples in the Bible of God giving instructions to His people either directly or through one of His prophets. No matter how ridiculous the instructions were, when obeyed, there was victory. God gave Joshua specific instructions concerning Israel’s capture of Jericho (Joshua 6:2-5). The same God instructed Gideon to reduce the number of his fighting men and told him how he would determine the three hundred that should go with him into battle against the Midianites (Judges 7:2-8). On both occasions, because they followed God’s instructions, they were victorious. In 2 Kings 5, Naaman was healed of his leprosy when he obeyed God’s prophet Elisha and washed seven times in the River Jordan.
In the New Testament, every time Jesus gave instructions which were followed, the person concerned got a miracle. At the wedding in Cana, the servants obeyed and filled the water pots with water just as He instructed and the water turned into wine (John 2:7-10). Again, in John 21:1-7, the Bible tells us that the disciples had gone fishing and caught nothing all night. Jesus, who had been watching from the shore, commanded them to cast their net on the right side and when they did, they caught so much fish that they were unable to haul in the net. Finally, we must not forget that Jesus Himself was obedient to the Father, even unto death (Philippians 2:8).
Has the Lord spoken to you concerning a matter and given you specific instructions? Have you obeyed Him? Remember that God speaks to us in different ways. For example, He speaks to us through His Word. If we are not living according to His Word, we are disobedient and will suffer the consequences. Or like King Saul, are you partially obeying Him? With God, partial obedience is disobedience. If we are to experience God’s favour, blessings, righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, we must learn to obey Him.
May we too harken to the words of Mary, the mother of our Lord, to the servants at the wedding in Cana, “Do whatever He tells you.”
Remember, obedience to God is the key to our miracle.
Lord, you desire that your people serve you with all of their heart and all of their soul. You have made it clear in your Word that the reward of obeying you brings blessings and that disobedience brings curses. May our desire be to obey you and be pleasing to you so that we might live a victorious Christian life in Jesus Mighty Name. Amen.
By: D. Hilliard
You wouldn’t give your 5-year-old a 12-gauge shotgun or a big Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Shotguns and motorcycles are great – but they’re for adults. You need maturity to handle them. Giving such gifts to your child would endanger them, and everybody else around them. The gifts just don’t fit the person.
Perhaps you’re a talented individual. God’s given you some large gifts like the ability to speak well, or organize things, or create and design. But we sabotage ourselves when our gift becomes bigger than we are. How does this happen?
When we begin to lean on the talents God gave us and don’t mature emotionally and spiritually – we ruin our chance to use those talents as God designed them. When our character doesn’t keep up with our talent, we learn to “wing it” through life. We live on the surface but lack real strength underneath. And it shows up when the crisis hits, the storm comes, or we are under pressure. You can’t “wing it” when it comes to character building.
The greater the size of your gifts, the more you must dedicate time to developing your character.
Eugene Peterson paraphrases the Psalmist in The Message: “God, who gets invited to dinner at your place? How do we get on your guest list? Walk straight, act right, tell the truth. Don’t hurt your friend, don’t blame your neighbor; despise the despicable. Keep your word even when it costs you, make an honest living, never take a bribe. You’ll never get blacklisted if you live like this” (Ps 15:1-5 TM).
So, do you live that way?
“O Lord, who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with Integrity.” – Psalm 15:1-2 (NAS)
By: J. Osteen
Back in Bible days, if you would have asked Jacob “Who are you?” he would have said, “I’m a cheater. I’m a deceiver. I’m a liar.” But really, that’s not who he is, that’s what he did.
We’ve all done things we’re not proud of. We’ve all made mistakes and said things we didn’t mean. But because of the blood of Jesus, God isn’t holding that against us. When we repent, scripture says He takes our sin and casts it as far as the east is from the west and remembers it no more. Always remember, God looks beyond your behavior, beyond your performance, and He sees you for who you really are: a person of destiny created in His image with a purpose to fulfill.
If we are going to be all God has called us to be, we have to separate our “doing” from our “being”. If you live in guilt and condemnation, it will keep you from receiving the mercy and blessing of God. It will limit your life. That’s why it’s so important to shake off the past and say, “No, I am not what I did. I may have failed at my marriage, but I am not a failure.” “I may be struggling with alcohol, but I am not an alcoholic. I’m a child of Almighty God, and I know my destiny is bigger than my mistakes. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength and I will overcome!”
I think about Moses. As a young man, he had a big dream in his heart. He knew God had called him to help deliver the people of Israel. He started off great. He was passionate and enthusiastic. But one day, he saw someone mistreating one of the Israelites. And in his zeal to fulfill his purpose, he went over and killed that man. He made a mistake. His heart was right, but his actions were not right.
Someone saw him, and he had to run for his life. He ended up spending forty years on the back side of the desert. He went through a detour. He missed Plan A, but the good news is that God had Plan B. God didn’t say, “Too bad, Moses. You blew it. You had your chance.” No, and He’s not saying that to you, either! If you will stay in faith, your destiny will supersede those poor choices.
Forty years later, when God was ready for someone to deliver His people, He didn’t go find a younger man. God didn’t go find someone who had never made mistakes, someone with a perfect record. He went right back to Moses and said, “Hey, Moses, I haven’t forgotten about you. That mistake didn’t cancel your destiny. I’m ready for you now. It’s your time. Go out and deliver My people.”
Today, you may have made mistakes or missed good opportunities. It looks like the dream has died or the promise will never come to pass. But God is saying, “Get ready. Just as I did for Moses, I’m about to open up a new door. I’m about to unleash My favor. That setback that was meant to destroy you is a setup for a comeback. That failure that’s clouded your future is not the end.” It’s a new day, so rise up and move forward into the victory God has prepared for you!
By: J. Meyer
Smith Wigglesworth was a great preacher. But before he was a preacher, he was a plumber who wasn’t a Christian—nor a very nice man.
Fortunately for him, he had a godly wife.
He didn’t want her to go to church, but she went anyway. When she did, he’d lock her out of the house, and when she came home, she’d have to sleep on the back porch. In the morning he’d unlock the door and she’d come in and say, “Good morning, Smithy!” and make him breakfast.
She was a godly example for him. She prayed for him and God gave her the grace to be good to him in spite of his rude behavior. And because she continued to be so good to him, he eventually came to know the Lord and was radically changed. As a result, he became one of the greatest preachers who ever lived.
That’s the power of prayer.
Understand What Prayer Really Is
Prayer is simply conversation with God. It’s asking Him to meet your need or someone else’s. It’s praising Him and thanking Him. It’s about committing things to Him and consecrating things to Him. We need to pray about everything and anything.
I think some people don’t pray much because they don’t understand how powerful prayer really is. The truth is it’s one of the greatest privileges we have as Christians.
“ When we pray, we open the door for God to come into our problems and situations and work on them.”
When we pray, we open the door for God to come into our problems and situations and work on them. Prayer makes us partners with God. And while we can’t really change people and make them love God, He can minister to their hearts and reach them.
I also believe that prayer is easier than we think it is. And it can be so much a part of our life that we don’t even realize how much we pray – like breathing.
What Makes Prayer So Powerful?
The Bible teaches us in James 5:16 that “the earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].” Prayer is passionate. It’s about sincerity of heart and putting your whole heart into it.
Prayer doesn’t have to be eloquent or long. And prayer isn’t better if it’s loud or if you’re on your knees, folding your hands or bowing your head. It’s good to humble yourself, but it’s not your posture or how long you pray that makes it effective.
I remember a time when God challenged me to ask for what I wanted and needed in the least amount of words possible. This was hard at first. For example, when we do something wrong, it’s hard just to say, “God, I know that was wrong and I admit it. I ask You to forgive me. Thank You, Lord. Amen.”
Instead, it’s common to hear something like this, “Oh, God! I need You to forgive me. God, forgive me. Please, God, forgive me. Oh God, You’ve got to forgive me! Please, God…I promise not to do it again.”
Hebrews 11:6 says that faith pleases God, and if we believe He exists and seek Him, He will reward us. We don’t have to beg and plead with Him to help us. God is a good God! He loves you and wants what is best for you.
Spend time with God. Talk to Him sincerely and honestly. Cast your cares on Him. Then find out what He wants to do and then follow His lead.
By: M. Lucado
One of my friends recently took a heart-stopping mission trip to Vietnam. He and two companions set out to smuggle Bibles and money to Christians there. Upon landing, however, he was separated from the other two. He spoke no Vietnamese and had never traveled in Hanoi. Imagine his thoughts, then, as he stood in front of the airport, holding a bag of Bibles, wearing a belt of cash, and knowing nothing more than the name of his hotel.
Taxi driver after taxi driver offered his services, but he waited and prayed. Finally, knowing he needed to do something, he climbed into a taxi and spoke the name of the hotel. After an hour and a thousand turns, he found himself deposited at the designated place. He paid his drivers, and they went on their way.
That’s right, “they” drove off. The front seat of his taxi had been occupied by two men. Only later did the uniqueness of this fact strike him. He saw hundreds of taxis during his days in Vietnam, but not another one of them had two drivers.
Angels minister to God’s people. “[God] has put his angels in charge of you to watch over you wherever you go” (Ps. 91:11 NCV).
Billy Graham reminds us, “If you are a believer, expect powerful angels to accompany you in your life experience.” But what if you are not a believer? Do angels offer equal surveillance to God’s enemies? No, they don’t. The promise of angelic protection is limited to those who trust God. Refuse God at the risk of an unguarded back. But receive his lordship, and be assured that many mighty angels will guard you in all your ways.
God sends his best troops to oversee your life. Imagine the president assigning his Secret Service to protect you, telling his agents to motorcade your car through traffic and safeguard you through crowds. How would you sleep if you knew D.C.’s finest guarded your door? How will you sleep knowing heaven’s finest are doing just that? You are not alone. Receive God’s lordship over your life. Heaven’s many, mighty angels watch over you.
By: F. Kong
Work! Just the sheer mention of it sends negative thoughts into your brain, because a lot of people view it as an interruption of the weekend, an evil necessity, or as an unappreciated means to earn a living.
But if you’ve been reading this column for some time now, you would have understood that work is a noble undertaking. It is a means by which we can use our creative juices and be productive at the same time.
Then again, there will always be people who tend to look at the negative side of work. You might even find that you share some of these perceptions about work.
One worker complains that life in the office is never fair. He sees that different situations are simply a matter of interpretation. He says: “When I take a long time, I am slow. But when my boss takes a long time, he is thorough. When I don’t do my work, I am lazy, but when my boss doesn’t do it, he is too busy. When I do something without being told, I am trying to be smart; but when my boss does the same, that is initiative. When I please my boss, I’m trying to win his favor; but when my boss pleases his boss, he’s cooperating. When I do good, my boss never remembers–when I do wrong, he never forgets. And so everything is just a matter of interpretation.”
Hmmmm–there seems to be some truth in there. I do have to admit that there are really instances when things like these happen in the workplace. It’s tragic, and it shouldn’t be so in the first place. But can you really say that life is fair?
Come to think about it, the world is never fair because we could not be fair to others too. We just need to remember that we have to make that decision to be the best that we can be, and that our actions and behavior in life should not be dictated upon by somebody else’s weakness or personality.
Life is never easy,
especially in the workplace.
The secret is in
not taking things too seriously.
Another material I came across talks about identifying THAT particular moment when you know your job’s on the line. This came from an article on the LaughWeb site:
You know it’s your last day at work when…
…You hand a bank teller an envelope, and when she asks, “What’s this?”, you realize you just dropped the company’s deposit in a mailbox.
…A woman comes into the store, you turn to the other salesman and say, “I waited on the last fat ugly old lady. This one’s your turn”. Your boss was standing behind you. And the woman you were describing happens to be his wife.
…Finding out that your boss is at lunch, you sneak in his office, look at some confidential information on his computer, and you spill coffee on the keyboard. It shorts out.
…You take a “sick” day. The next morning the boss asks you, “So, how was the Enchanted Kingdom yesterday?”
…You wake up with a big hangover. You have a black eye and bruised knuckles. Your clothes are all in a mess. You’re in jail and last night was the company Christmas party.
Life is never easy, especially in the workplace, but the secret is in taking things not too seriously. God has called us to that place where we can be productive, using the God-given talents within us. It’s a place where we can reach out to others, and perhaps make their day a little brighter and a little bit more meaningful.
Life’s not fair, but we all can be unfairly kind and unfairly sensitive to the needs of those who are around us. Reach out with God’s love and make their day a little brighter.
By: A. Bull
Every Sunday my son and I play soccer. Little did I know that while having fun that I’d learn something on the field.
I’m an athlete, and I don’t like to just watch sports, but I need to be involved. I’m always moving.
Almost every Sunday my son and I participate in a pick-up soccer game with folks of all ages and all skill levels. The players consist of young people from the ages of 6 to men in their 50s — so the demographics are spread out. Within that group there are guys and gals in their last few years of high school who play on select and varsity teams, sometimes at the same time.
To say they’re good is an understatement.
Then there’s me. I’m in my thirties and have been playing soccer for most of my life. However, since my playing hasn’t been that consistent over the last few years or so, my ball handling skills aren’t always that great. I have my moments. But I also have those OTHER moments that we don’t always want to run home and share with our family.
Every time I play it’s an absolute blast. It’s a time for me to see friends and release some stress built up during the week, allowing me to start the new week refreshed. It’s a time of decompression for me.
After the game I always call my wife to let her know that we’re done and we’re heading home. The other part of the conversation is what I did, or what our son did on the field. No matter how hard I try, I can never wait until I get home to give her highlights of the good and bad things that happened.
To say I love soccer is also an understatement.
To my surprise I’ve learned something from this otherwise innocuous, but exhausting game. There will always be somebody better than me. There will always be someone waiting only a step away from me who knows strategy better and who can control the ball better.
Now some of you may be wondering where I’m going with all of this. Hold on, there’s more.
Let me ask you, what can a person do to improve their skills? The quick answer is, practice, practice, and practice some more. However, let me pose another question to you. What if I’m as good as I will ever get, and my skills will probably start to diminish as I get older? Also, if I plan to get better, am I doing it for me, my family, or the guy or girl I’ve always tried to beat but simply can’t? Is it one-upmanship that motivates me?
I have to be honest. In my life it’s usually trying to prove to someone else that I am better than him or her when they have shown me up in the past. Oh how I/we love to feed our egos. Come on. Admit it. We all do. Usually the only thing that separates us when it comes to our egos is to what degree we feed them.
Now, let’s go back to that question again. Where am I going with this? I’m pretty certain — in fact completely sure, 100% unquestionably, undeniably sure, that approval of man or ourselves is not where we are supposed to be seeking approval. The only One we are supposed to seek approval from is our Heavenly Father, God — Daddy.
That’s a difficult one. Are you guilty — as I am — of wanting at least one person to notice when you do something that people don’t normally see? It could be anything from cleaning the floors at home, or finally figuring out something that’s been plaguing your department at work.
Guess what? Even when nobody else notices, someone always notices. It’s our heavenly Father. I’m reminded of a verse in Galatians 1:10.
Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
I’m also reminded of the verse found in Proverbs 14:12:
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.
I think that’s pretty fair warning of where our approval seeking should be focused. Not from man. Not from our spouse, boss, coach, etc. The only one we should seek approval from, true loving confirming approval from, is God. It’s that simple! Seek his approval with your full heart and see what happens.
So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. – Ezekiel 22:30
God looks for those whose hearts are prepared to be intercessors before Him. Intercessors have hearts in tune with God’s heart. They are so acutely aware of what is at stake, for their land, that they will stay before God as long as necessary in order to obtain God’s answer. That is why you do not volunteer to be an intercessor. God enlists you.
Why do we not intercede as we should? Perhaps we are afraid to put God to the test. We worry that God might not answer our prayers. Yet God promises that if we ask, we will receive (Matt. 7:7). We may fail to intercede because we believe the busyness of our everyday lives is more effective than prayer. Jesus warned that apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). Without being intimately acquainted with God and His will, all of our labors are futile. Perhaps we fail to intercede because we misunderstand the heart of God. Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem as He interceded for it (Matt. 23:37).
If we truly have God’s love within us, we will feel compelled to plead with God on behalf of those who face His imminent judgment.
Intercession is a lonely business. There may be many days or even years when there appear to be few results for your labor. Yet intercessors can be the only ones standing between a family and God’s judgment, or between an individual or nation and God’s wrath.
By: Z. Ziglar
Studies tell us that only 3% of people in the USA set goals, and they are among the wealthiest people in the nation! Worldwide the percentage is probably lower. Why so low? There are several reasons, but the one that concerns me the most is lack of know-how. When we ask people why they don’t set goals they often say, “I don’t know how.”
Isn’t that remarkable? We send children to school for 12 years in America before they graduate from high school. Many of them go on to trade schools, colleges and universities. We teach them many important disciplines including history, economics, literature, science, and so forth, but we miss one critically important skill: goal setting. We award them their degrees, pat them on their backs, and send them into the world full of wisdom, but ill-prepared, almost always, to design and pursue the lives they really want.
And all that’s required to change this deficiency is a single semester, even half a semester, devoted to teaching goal setting. It doesn’t seem likely that we’re going to change the American educational system any time soon, or the world’s educational system, but that’s not going to stop me from teaching you how to set goals.
The letters and phone calls that I receive are social proof that our goal setting programs work. I know that goal setting will help you change your life for the better, it will help you get what you really want from life. And when you do, that’s reason for all of us to celebrate! Whether you’re already a goal setter, you used to set goals and quit, or you’ve never set goals, this lesson will help you build a better life.
Step 1. Dream! Let your imagination run wild while you fill up a blank sheet of paper with everything you want to be, do or have. Many adults have lost their ability to dream and that’s unfortunate. By dreaming you instill hope for your future, and with hope there’s possibility. So your assignment this week is to dream. During this next week devote at least two private sessions to dreaming. I want you to create a Dream List filled with ideas. Your list should include at least 25 dreams about what you want to be, do or have.
Step 2. After you complete your list, wait 24 to 48 hours and read each item on your list and answer the question: Why? If you can’t verbalize in one sentence why you want to be, do or have this dream, then it’s not a dream and it won’ become a goal. Cross it off your list.
Step 3: Ask the following five questions of every dream on the Dream List you created last week.
1. Is it really MY goal?
2. Is it morally right and fair to everyone concerned?
3. Is it consistent with my other goals?
4. Can I emotionally commit myself to finish this goal?
5. Can I “see” myself reaching this goal?
You must answer “yes” to all five questions for each goal, or cross that goal off your list.
Here are some points to ponder: Is it really MY goal or is it a goal someone else wants me to pursue? Is it the right thing to do? Will achieving this goal distract from achieving other goals? Goals are often difficult to achieve. Are you sure you can make the commitment to pursue this goal and see it through? If you can’t “see” yourself reaching this goal, you probably won’t.
Take time during this week to think about the questions above and answer them. Once you’re finished, your Dream List will probably be a bit shorter than when you started out. That’s okay because you’re now closer to identifying the goals that you really will pursue and can achieve.
Step 4: Ask the following seven questions of every dream that remains on your Dream List (or goals list).
Will reaching this goal . . .
1. make me happier?
2. make me healthier?
3. make me more prosperous?
4. win me more friends?
5. give me peace of mind?
6. make me more secure?
7. improve my relationships with others?
If you can’t answer “Yes” to at least one of these questions for each goal, eliminate that goal from your list. Be sure to consider your family when you answer these questions. And do not confuse pleasure with happiness!
Here we go with Step 5: After asking the questions posted in Step 4 you will have eliminated some of your goals. Actually, they were not goals, just thoughts or desires at this point, so you’re better off without them.
Separate your remaining list of goals into one of three categories: Short-range (one month or less to achieve this goal), Intermediate (one month to one year to achieve this goal), or Long-range (one year or more to achieve this goal).
This step will help you quickly determine whether or not you have a balanced perspective between what needs to be done now, versus your dreams for the future.
Remember: Some goals must be BIG to make you stretch and grow to your full potential. Some goals must be long-range to keep you on track and greatly reduce the possibility of short-range frustrations. Some goals must be small and daily to keep you disciplined. Some goals must be ongoing. Some goals (i.e., weight loss, sales success, education, etc.) may require analysis and consultation to determine where you are before you can set the goals. Most goals should be specific. A “nice home” is not as good as a “3,000 square-foot, Tudor- style home with four bedrooms, three full baths, and two living spaces.”
Here we go with the final step: After specifically identifying your goals, write them down! It is important that you have a written list of your specific goals. Then you will begin to do the daily, weekly action steps that will take you closer to achieving that goal. Be selective. You may not be able to work on all of your goals at one time! Don,t over do it. If you only have time to complete one or two goals for the remainder of this year, don’t apologize. Do a little bit more than you think you can, but do not overextend your time to the point that you don’t complete any of your goals. Do not get frustrated by the process! Work the system and it will work for you. I can fill a book with the number of letters that I receive about the effectiveness of this simple goal-setting program. Trust the system.
Once you have identified your goals and plotted the activities that you intend to do to fulfill your goals, pat yourself on the back! You have just spent more time planning your future than most of your friends, relatives or associates will ever invest! Good for you.
By: M. Wittmer
Olivia Wilde is a film star who divorced her Italian prince because their marriage was requiring more effort and returning less fun. “I don’t think love should be work,” the actress told an interviewer, “My parents have been married for 35 years. They said, ‘You have to work at it. That’s what it takes.’ But we tried, and it wasn’t making us happy.”
Olivia’s comments reflect a misunderstanding of both the meaning and the motivation of love. It appears she believes love is nothing more than a feeling. Worse, she infers that the purpose of love is to please ourselves, not others. She suggests that love exists to make us happy, and that if we’re not happy we’re no longer in love.
Olivia believes her problem is as follows: “I’m a ridiculous romantic. I have very high standards for every part of life—my work, my relationships, food, love. I can’t just pretend.” Actually, her standards aren’t too high—they’re too low. I hope one day she finds the fullness of love that Jesus offers.
The apostle John declares that true love was most clearly revealed on the cross. Jesus’ sacrifice proves that love isn’t a feeling, unless you count the feeling of despair that welled up in His cry, “My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?” (Mark 15:34). Love doesn’t seek its own happiness, but requires that we sacrifice for one another. Paul explains that “love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (1 Corinthians 13:7). In other words it often feels a lot like work.
Love isn’t guaranteed to bring us happiness, but it is guaranteed to hurt. C. S. Lewis wrote: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.”
Love anyway. It’s worth the hurt.