Getting Knocked Down

While we should be active in doing the tasks the Lord has put before us, we should not wait until He knocks us down to rest.

2 Chronicles 32:24-26

24 In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death, and he prayed to the Lord; and He spoke to him and gave him a sign. 25 But Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him, for his heart was lifted up; therefore wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem. 26 Then Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah.

No, I did not start today’s entry the way I usually do just because today’s Scripture was just so powerful to me.  You know, when we get sick or have an illness, we get mad at God.  We wonder why He is letting this happen to us.  I can personally speak of this because I don’t get hit by gradual illness, I get hit by “on this day you’re fine, oh and tomorrow, I’m not.”  It’s extremely disheartening, but it’s also humbling.

You see whenever we are in good health and have things going well, we can get prideful.  Sometimes, like me, that involves me going at full tilt, full speed all the time and not slowing down and resting when the Lord is telling me to.  A lot of this week’s entries, if you haven’t noticed, have dealt with God attempting to get our attention and if you don’t listen to Him one way, He will put you in a position where you have to do what He tells you to.

It shouldn’t get that far.  While we should be active in doing the tasks the Lord has put before us, we should not wait until He knocks us down to rest.  A proper amount of rest can assure we are going to be continually fit to serve Him as He wants us to serve Him.  Going full tilt and full speed all the time will lead to burn out, just like in a car engine and it can do more damage than would have happened had we just listened in the first place.

If the Lord is telling you to rest, then you need to heed His prompting and take the time to rest.  That resting time is not only a humbling experience, but it is time the Lord is giving you to work on things perhaps you never noticed were faltering, such as your relationship with Him.  The bottom line is, don’t get knocked down, humble yourself, sit down and rest.

Testing God

Jesus is the example we have to follow with regard to stepping out in faith.  He did everything in faith, knowing the Father would handle things.

You know in the years that I have been a believer one of the saddest things I have ever seen is the lack of faith among Christians themselves.  They profess to believe and claim faith, but when God says to do something, they need proof that He is going to do what He says He will do before they step out in faith.

Judges 6:36-40

36 So Gideon said to God, “If You will save Israel by my hand as You have said— 37 look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You have said.” 38 And it was so. When he rose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece together, he wrung the dew out of the fleece, a bowlful of water. 39 Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more: Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew.” 40 And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, but there was dew on all the ground.

We return to Gideon, the runt of the litter from the runt tribe of Israel.  The one whom God chose to use to get Israel out of oppression.  And yet here he is, testing God, wanting proof this is what God wanted him to do.

Faith in God means faith in what He wants us to do.  It’s not faith based upon anyone’s interpretation or based upon anyone else’s life.  Yes, God will show His faithfulness through the work He has done in the lives of others, but this should be a testimony as to what He’s done.  Each Christian has a different walk and we are all in a different place with God.  He’s not going to ask me to do the same thing He asks you to do, or step out in faith the same way.  But what He is going to do is tell you to have faith in Him.

I personally am an analytical person, sometimes over-analytical.  It takes a great deal of strength for me to do anything just based on faith.  But when God is telling me to have faith in Him, He’s working, He’s fighting or to go do something, I simply do, without question and without needing proof that He is going to be faithful.  Jesus is the example we have to follow with regard to stepping out in faith.  He did everything in faith, knowing the Father would handle things.  That is the type of person that I wish to be, faithful in Him, faithful He will handle things and faithful He knows what He’s doing.

Choices and Consequences

Listening to God with regard to our choices will always yield positive results.  It’s when we are not obedient to Him that we end up having problems.  

There are always choices in life.  Some choices are easy, like what to wear for work or what to eat for breakfast.  Other choices are much more difficult, like whom to allow into your life or whose advice to listen to.  The easiest way to make those choices is simply to listen to the Lord.

Joshua 7:20-21

20 And Achan answered Joshua and said, “Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I have done: 21 When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it.”

Some quick background, at this point in history, Israel was running rough shod over every enemy they encountered.  They defeated those enemies without a single issue because they had God behind them and were obedient to Him.  Now, in this scenario, they had been told not to take anything from the enemy they had previously defeated and Achan made a choice, yielding to the enemy and not obeying God.  And it cost Israel dearly.

Listening to God with regard to our choices will always yield positive results.  It’s when we are not obedient to Him that we end up having problems.  And then we have to face the consequences of those choices.  In some instances, the consequences are minor and we can handle them.  In others, the consequences can be disastrous, as was the case here where Israel was defeated by an outpost much smaller than they were.  So how do we know the right choices and how do we hear from God about the choices.  Simple prayer and the Word.

Yesterday, I spoke about God attempting to get our attention.  Today, I am going to conclude with directing your own attention to Him without His prompting.  If you want to know what you should do or what path you should take on the more difficult choices in life, direct your attention to Him.  It’s like going to ask your Dad for advice.  You go to Him, lay everything before Him and then He gives you the advice.  He’ll tell you what you can do, and then He’ll tell you what He wants you to do.  Doing what He wants you to do will always be the more difficult task, but also the more rewarding.  So today, when making your major life choices, make them wisely so you can avoid the negative consequences later.

Getting Your Attention

We shouldn’t have to wait for something major to happen before we start heeding God and His calls for our attention.  We need to be doing it every single day.

To my readers, my apologies for not writing an entry yesterday.  I experienced a personal loss that effected my focus.  I ask for the forgiveness of those who look forward to these entries regularly.

Do you ever wear headphones?  Have you seen some of the modern headphones that completely and totally block out any sound that comes in from the world outside?  One more question.  Ever try to get the attention of someone wearing a pair of these headphones?  That is the way unbelievers and many Christians live their lives.  They have their own little tunes going on in their heads and are completely oblivious to the world around them or what God is calling them to do.

Exodus 3:1-3

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to the mountain of God. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.”

Now we all know who Moses is, and if you read further along in this chapter of Exodus, God told Moses to do something.  But notice what it took to get Moses’ attention.  It took a burning bush that wasn’t consumed.  How different are we from Moses where it takes something big before we start heeding God’s attempts to get our attention?

While He shouldn’t have to, God tries to get our attention through a lot of different things.  The problem with us is we get so busy doing things, we either ignore Him, not a good idea, or we just don’t hear.  So eventually we get hit by the proverbial 2×4 from God.  In other words, He will eventually make certain we are in a position where we have no choice but to listen.  Something will happen where we will have no choice but to focus and draw near to Him.  And I don’t speak of this allegorically, I have had it literally happen to me a few times.

We shouldn’t have to wait for something major to happen before we start heeding God and His calls for our attention.  We need to be doing it every single day.  There can be a moment during the day where He says, “You need to pray for this person,” or “Don’t take this step or shortcut” at work.  Sometimes it may be just to speak to a person who needs to hear from Him.  And remember, if the Father is telling you to speak to someone, you are not responsible for what they hear.  He may be trying to get their attention through you, but they have their headphones on so loud, in their own little comfort zone if you would, they don’t want to listen.  You have to do what God tells you and He will deal with them.

Staying Humble

But it’s better to be an outward Christian and be limited, than a closet Christian and be successful.

Every once in a while I will hear about a great sports star or celebrity being interviewed and during the course of the interview, they thank the Lord for giving them the ability to do the remarkable and sometimes miraculous things they do.  It’s refreshing in today’s self-centered world.  It’s also, more often than not, an active career killer.  But it’s better to be an outward Christian and be limited, than a closet Christian and be successful.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

As many of you know, I have a normal nine to five job as an HR assistant/payroll person.  What all of you, except for my Catherine who reads this regularly, may not know, is that it is an assignment from a temp agency.  I will not bore you with the rigamarole of how I ended up there, but I thank God for it every single day, not just for it allowing me to pay my bills, but because it reminds me to stay humble.

I am not trying to boast here, but I am good at working with computers.  I am an idiot-savant in that way.  My boss and I actually discussed how quickly I learned not only the payroll program, but the inventory program as well.  Then she remarked, but you can’t seem to get your own time in and out right.  It was quite humorous.  With this weird knack I have been gifted with, you’d think they’d make me permanent since I have been there since November, but they haven’t.

You see this temp assignment, for me, is a lot like the thorn in Paul’s side.  He prayed for God to remove it, but God used the thorn to keep Paul humble and not boastful about who He was or how good of a Christian he was.  More importantly, it drew Paul closer to Him.  Now history never tells us whether or not God removed the thorn from Paul, but Paul was thankful for and grateful for it and continued on his course for the Lord.

I can honestly tell you that I have many people praying for me to get permanency, and I cannot begin to express how thankful I am for those prayers.  I pray for it myself.  Everyone from the COO of the company to one of the owners has told me already that it will happen, it’s just a matter of determining my duties under the new inventory control and timekeeping system.  But I don’t trust in them, I trust in the Lord.  His grace is sufficient, and right now His grace has provided a job with which I can make ends meet and take care of what I have to take care of.  So I will boast in the fact for my nine to five job, I am a temp. But my real job is a lot like Paul’s, I write for the Lord.

Not the Same

I know we’d like to believe the ones who have died before us were all believers.  It actually pains me to know that some of the people I loved who have passed from this life were not.

Fair warning to everyone, today’s entry will be long and a hard pill to swallow, but I would be remiss if I did not write about it.

We live in a world today where there is a multi-religious system and everyone believes they are praying to the same god.  The problem is, we all aren’t.  The God of the Bible is not the same as Allah, nor is he Buddha, or the Wiccan Earth Mother.  As much as we may have friends and loved ones who want to look at things this way for the sake of unity and not offending, it is not true.

1 John 2:22-23

22 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

Please hear my heart, this is not a message of hate, but an attempt to correct some misguided notions people may have.  Here are the facts.  Muslims do not believe Jesus was the Son of God.  They believe He was a great prophet, but nothing more.  If that is the case, then our belief in Him and His salvation and God’s grace through Jesus is worth nothing.  Am I saying they don’t have a right to believe what they believe?  No, simply that they are wrong.  Next Buddhism believes in self-enlightenment being the way to attain heaven.  If we could do it ourselves then, again, Jesus wouldn’t have had to die.  And finally Wicca, teaches, again controlling things through self, that by casting spells or consulting with spirits, something specifically spoken against in Scripture, is how to do things.  This is not Biblical, nor is it safe.

I don’t know a great deal about other faiths and the three I chose are the ones I have personal knowledge of, Islam, Buddhism and Wicca.  I have studied one of them in great detail and the other two, I was a practitioner of in the past.  Yes, big reveal, wasn’t always a Christian.  But even if I hadn’t been involved with Wicca or Buddhism the simple illogic of it should make sense.  With Buddhism, it’s about saving yourself.  As Christians, we need to understand we can’t save ourselves.  With Wicca, consulting spirits is inviting disaster.  In Leviticus, when God was actually speaking and the laws not being interpreted by the High Priests of the time, God says this, “31 ‘Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God,” and He says, “‘And the person who turns to mediums and familiar spirits, to prostitute himself with them, I will set My face against that person and cut him off from his people.”  Extremely strong words from God Himself.

I know we’d like to believe the ones who have died before us were all believers.  It actually pains me to know that some of the people I loved who have passed from this life were not.  But I do know their spirits are not sitting around here, on this earth, roaming around if they were believers.  The logic is this, if you are in a perfect place, heaven, with a perfect body, with no pain and no suffering, why go back for a visit to where you did have all those things just to watch the people you love suffer?  And I am not arrogant enough to believe my grandmothers or my grandfathers are coming back just to play tricks on me or watch over me.  I’m not more important than Christ or God, whom, if they were believers, they are now worshiping.

Alright, I know today’s message may have seemed like a downer…alright, let me be real here, it plain sucked.  It brought out an unfortunate reality that some Christians refuse to accept.  But the bottom line is, we are not all praying to the same God.  My God is the God of the Bible, the One who loved me enough to sacrifice His Son so that I could come hang out with Him in heaven.  He did the same for you and for all those who profess belief in Him.  Don’t let yourselves be deceived into believing in the world’s system and how we are all praying to the same God.

Facing Off With God

Our enemies need to be shown, despite how they have treated us or what they have said or done to wrong us, we forgive them.

I have mentioned it before that I have trust issues where people are concerned.  It’s difficult for me to make friends because of how many times I have been burned by people in the past.  The Lord has worked with me on these things and many wonder how I can still remain cordial or even friendly with those that have wronged me.  The simple answer is, I try to follow God’s Word as best as I can.

Proverbs 25:21-22, 28

21 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;  22 For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, And the Lord will reward you.
28 Whoever has no rule over his own spirit Is like a city broken down, without walls.
As a forewarning, I haven’t even gotten to the devotional part of things yet for my personal reading.  As I was going through today, these three particular verses in Proverbs 25 just jumped out at me, which usually means the Lord has something to say, either to me, or to you.
Like I spoke about yesterday, there are people in this world who are simply malicious and mean-hearted, and will try to ruin or destroy your reputation.  I also stated we should let the Lord handle them.  All that still stands.  Keep in mind who the Lord is and how hard He goes at those who wrong the ones He loves.  What comes to mind for me is how He handled every battle He was involved in during Old Testament Israel and how He dealt with the Roman Empire who were oppressing the nation of Israel before, during and after Jesus’ time.  My point in discussing these things is this, after God does what He does, those who would be our enemies need mercy.
Our enemies need to be shown, despite how they have treated us or what they have said or done to wrong us, we forgive them.  We need not forget, but we have to show them that God is merciful and loving through our behavior.  It’s not easy, it never is and it is something I struggle with all the time.  But two things happen when you do this, as today’s reading shows.
Firstly, that malicious person will at the very least feel foolish for what they have done, seeing your acts of kindness in response.  Secondly, and this should not be the reason you do this, but the afterthought, God will bless you.  Now I didn’t say three things because the third is not something that happens, but an effect it has on you.  You gain more rule over your spirit, which the third verse says we need to have.
Ruling over your spirit is the equivalent to having self-control.  A person without self-control will automatically say, “Good, I’m glad that bad thing happened to them.”  A person with self-control prays for their enemy like Jesus commanded us and will make an extra effort to give their enemy aid.  I have had people ask me why I commit acts of kindness for people who have wronged me, as I said before.  I don’t want my spiritual city to have broken down walls.  I want to serve the Lord and sometimes serving Him means not wishing ill-will on those who have wronged us, because God will deal with them.  Sometimes having a controlled spirit means praying for Him to have mercy on them, because they will need it when they face off with God.