Trust in the LORD always, for the LORD God is the eternal Rock. (Isaiah 26:4)
Does it ever surprise you that out of nowhere you suddenly remember an incident that happened years ago that makes you feel uncomfortable? Perhaps someone did something that hurt you or made you angry. You thought you put the whole thing behind you, but there it is again popping up in your memory, and it still bothers you.
I believe that when that happens, the Holy Spirit is prompting us to forgive someone because we didn’t do it before. We hold on to resentment, anger, bitterness over something that happened so long ago we forgot about it, but the emotions are still impressed deep within our spirits. God wants to clean us up, to heal us of past wounds.
I have learned that whenever I suddenly remember a past event like that to pause and think – did I ever forgive that person? No I did not and that’s why the memory and feelings still persist. So now I forgive without question. There’s no reason to hold onto bad feelings, ever. I think that the more we clean out those bad feelings, but easier it is to hear God.
And that’s not the only reason to forgive. “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt 6:15) That’s a startling reason to forgive. Jesus told the story of the unmerciful servant (Matt 18:23-35) as a clear teaching on what He expects of us. His blood covers our sin. His blood, tortured from his body. He did that willingly because He loves us so much. If we can’t forgive people after what He did for us, He has every right to not forgive our sins, and we know that the wages of sin leads to death.
Just forgive. It’s not that hard. You just acknowledge you haven’t forgiven that person and do it. Then ask God to forgive you for not doing it sooner. Then be aware of those awkward memories. Ask yourself, do I need to forgive them? Is that why the Holy Spirit is reminding me? Just do it.
Several years ago a church changed their street message board to say “God is not made at you”. Soon after, they were inundated with angry phone calls for some time. Apparently, many people believe that God is mad at them and feel the need to vent, to ask why, to affirm their stance that God is indeed vengeful. Do you wonder, Is God mad at me?
Rest at ease, He is not. How do I know that? I can read it in every book of the Bible. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal live. (John 3:16) A vengeful God does not sacrifice His most precious Son. A loving God does. Why? Because He wants to ensure a way for us to be with Him. Jesus took on the sins of the world, including ours, and covered them with His own blood. All we need to do is accept that gift of sacrifice with humble thanks. His love for us is outrageous and never ending.
But what about the Old Testament God who looks pretty vengeful? God told His people what they needed to do to stay safe within His protection and grace, but over and over again they deserted Him to worship idols. His anger was against their actions, not the people themselves. He repeatedly told them to trust in Him and He would cover them with His mercy. Most of the time, they did not.
Do you believe that God is mad at you because bad things happen to you? Bad things happen to everyone, even when we know how much God loves us. He never said we wouldn’t have problems. He said if we trust Him, He’ll be with us and work things out. It’s the trust part that trips up most people. We don’t know how to take our hands off to let God be in control. Most of the time, we doubt that He will do anything for us. It’s a real test of our faith. If we really believe, if we really trust that God is who He said He is, we can relax and watch Him do what we could not.
Bad things may happen because we’re not even trying to trust Him so we just make stupid decisions. We suffer the consequences of what we got ourselves into. Even then, all we have to do is tell God how sorry we are for what we’ve done and ask His forgiveness. He will always forgive. It’s His nature.
No, God is not mad at you. He loves you very, very much. He’s a great, good God who wants to give you every blessing in heaven. All you have to do is receive it.
“I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the LORD, who call you by your name, am the God of Israel.” (Isaiah 45:3) This verse has always fascinated me. God must be so amused by how much we think we know about – everything. We know so much and yet so little about the human body, life in the ocean, the expanse of space. We think we know about Him. And yet He has the amazing promise that He would show us treasures and riches that have been hidden just so He could reveal them to us.
God is far more giving and generous than we know, yet the Puritan ethic is that we should not ask anything for ourselves. It is somehow selfish to want to be blessed. I don’t think God sees it that way. I think He wants to bless our socks off. Yes, James does warn us, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:3) It can’t be denied that selfishness can get in the way when what we want means more to us than God Himself.
However, when our priorities are straight, when we love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind (Matthew 22:37), our loving Papa God says, “Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession.” (Psalm 2:8) He wants to bless us. He’s waiting for us to come to Him as loving sons and daughters so He can pour out blessing that only He can provide. But until He can trust us with the treasure, He will wait until we are ready. We must have a generous soul, a heart of humility, a willingness to be corrected. He won’t trust His treasure to babies. He is looking for maturity and faith to trust Him completely in hard times. He is looking for our love and praise that spills from us like a delighted lover. That one can be blessed with the treasures of heaven.
I wonder about these treasures. Knowing that God is magnificently awesome, His treasures will be mind blowing and I want to see them. So I press in. I want to know Him more. I want to hear His voice and see His face. I want every blessing that belongs to me because it shows me how stunning Papa God is. It makes me so excited I could dance.
The simplest prayer is no prayer at all. It is loving and being loved. It is looking into the eyes of the Father while trying to say thank you. You may try, but when his love floods your soul, the best you can do is smile through your tears. No words have to be spoken in a moment like that. The words are necessary for other times, but when you are locked into the heart of God, the best you can do is try to absorb it all. He knows that and it’s OK. In fact, you may go through seasons were all you do is weep when you think of him. It does something inside. I’m not sure what, but I feel it. Sometimes I choose to be wordless with him so I can just sit in his peace. Other times I couldn’t speak if I had to. The loving, the listening, the tears, and the wonder – it’s all prayer and it all matters.
God’s Great Plan decreed our inheritance before creation. “He chose us before the creation of the world.” Ephesians 1:4
His Great Plan laid the foundations for a supreme sacrifice. He knew. And he came. He wanted us to be with him. He wants us to be with him. All his desire is for us to be with him. All our desires should answer his. Imagine the unbounded greatness – the meeting of our great desire with his. Like worlds and galaxies colliding. The shockwaves of love that move mountains and shake the stars. Imagine living within the hub of that intensity in perfect peace. No harm. No fear. Not easy, but no fear. Life is still messy, but inside the hub is light and peace.
But there’s only room for one. We must each love him to the edges of our desire, our own worlds colliding with his. Only after we attain the hub do we join together to create an even stronger unity. Is it correct to say we live in a hub? He is a strong tower, a fortress, a wing of protection. I think hub fits.
Let the collision begin.
Why is it that we love hero stories? We seem to especially love super hero stories. There must be inhuman odds of the hero ever finding success. The earth itself must be in peril. The greater the opposition and difficulty of the hero to even survive makes the story that much better. This is not a recent phenomenon. Hero stories have lasted for thousands of years. There’s something about them that we humans love.
I think it has to do with something that we’d never associate those stories with. I think it has to do with the very nature of God. It is the nature of God to overcome evil. His goodness banishes evil by Him being good. Consider this, God breathed life into Adam. That breath of God contained the essence of the Godhead. It gave life to the spirit of Adam so that we retain, how ever minute, the essence of God within us. We love stories that overcome evil because God put that desire in us. They inspire us to live above our humanity.
But is it real? Is Superman real? In a sense yes. With God, all things are possible. ALL THINGS. Nothing is impossible. When we stand against evil, we become heroes in the kingdom. That doesn’t happen when we confine our Christian experience to church attendance and potluck socials. It only happens when we stand face to face against cancer, terrorism, sex trafficking, massive floods, death and destruction.
How do you release your super powers? By standing in the authority that God gave you. He did not say, pray and ask me to heal the sick. He said, “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons.” (Matt 10:8) That’s super hero stuff, and every believer that is filled with the Spirit of God has it in him to do. We are capable of so much good, if we only believed it. We can stand against the very tide of evil and turn it back with a word, just as Jesus stopped the storm. He left us with the command to do as He did. (Jhn 14:12)
I believe that we will face an accounting for what we did with the power that Jesus gave us. Like the talents buried in the ground, we waste so much of what we’ve been given. And the unprofitable servant will be cast into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt 25:30) Is that scare mongering? Perhaps, but it is also truth and plain as day in the Bible.
God did not expect us to allow the world to be overrun by evil. He gave us the power of His Spirit for a reason — to heal, bless, and release the kingdom of God everywhere we go. Whenever we stand against the devices of the enemy, the real Super Hero within us is released in power to effect His good. And He doesn’t mind us enjoying stories that inspire us to do that.
I learned to pray the hard way. Sometimes we just find ourselves in seasons where we need help. When it hit me, I thought I knew what to do: trust God. Jesus said, Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? (Mat 6:25) He said He would take care of us.
So when I ran out of money and couldn’t find a job, I trusted God. I would spend my devotional time telling Him how much I trusted Him, that I knew He would take care of me, that He would open doors of opportunity. I trusted Him. But nothing changed. Small jobs would come my way, but nothing that would help significantly. It frustrated me because I believed I was doing what He wanted me to do in that position. The problem was, I was still looking at my problem.
Then something changed in my attitude. Instead of telling Him how much I trusted Him, I began telling Him how good He is. I filled pages in my journal praising Him and loving Him. I poured out all the greatness that belongs to Him in every way I could think of. It wasn’t an action that I felt I had to do, it was genuine and loving.
Almost immediately money started coming my way. I knew that I’d need to continue to rely on God’ provision going forward, but it was going to be ok. It was amazing.
As I sat back and thanked Him for all that He was doing for me, I began to think about a nice hot chai latte. I love chai lattes, but I had not allowed myself any indulgences because all my money had to go to paying expenses. I heard the Lord say, “Go get one.” I said, No, I can’t. I still have bills to pay. “Do you think I will stop providing for you if you spend $5 on something that will please Me?”, He said. Why would it please You?, I asked Him. “Because it is a form of worship when you obey Me.”
This astounded me. He has promised to give us life abundantly, but the only way we can enter into that is to trust Him and enjoy who He is and what He is doing for us. I would never have considered spending $5 on a chai latte as a form of worship, but because I could trust Him to continue to love me and provide for me, He wanted me to enjoy something that He knew I would love. So I did, and I loved it, and I praised Him for it.
This lesson that I learned was to seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to us. It’s true and it works. Take you eyes off the problem and look to God’s amazing goodness. Then watch what He will do.
ISIS has a lot to offer a young man looking to find his way in life — a chance to be part of something big, something powerful and growing, something with tremendous impact. It offers brotherhood and camaraderie. It offers a way to become great.
But ISIS is not the only way to find those things. You don’t have to kill people to become great. You don’t have to kill people to be part of something powerful. You don’t have to kill people to belong to something big.
Most people joining ISIS don’t even understand the religious aspect of what ISIS stands for. God seems to be behind the ones with the guns and bombs and the ruthlessness to use them. My guess is that most people don’t want to kill, they want to matter. For those who want to make a difference without violence, there’s another way.
Looking for greatness in God is not entirely incorrect, just misguided in who to believe. Before joining ISIS, look to Jesus. See what He says. See what He has to offer. When we become believers of His grace, we become sons and daughters of the King of Kings, royal heirs. The God of the universe becomes our amazing Father. The life that Jesus lived on earth is a model for us to live today. Everything He did, we have the ability to do. Can ISIS raise the dead? Can ISIS heal cancer? Can ISIS restore broken lives and relationships? Does ISIS provide love, joy, peace, and kindness?
Carrying a gun does not make you great. Living the life you were meant to live with all your gifts and talents leads you into the greatness of God. Anything else will always bring pain and loneliness. Jesus can make your life matter in ways you can’t even imagine. I’m not promising that life will be easy. There is still evil in the world to contend with, but Jesus will always make a way. He will always be there when you need Him. He will be everything that you need Him to be.
All you have to do is ask Him into your life. It’s that simple. He hears you and He knows you. When you pray, you will hear His voice in your heart. Learn to trust Him, He knows how to take care of you. If you have questions, let me know. People care about you. You’re not alone.
Everyone feels little confident that they know what faith is. Intellectually, we understand that faith is trust. I’m going to talk about what it is to trust in God. For most of my life, I agreed with what just about everyone else believes, that faith is trust. I believed in God and counted that as faith. I prayed. I believed that God would, and should, answer my prayers because I trusted that He would. Did He? Not as often as I wanted. Why? Because I didn’t actually have faith.
My knowledge of God was not the same thing as trusting Him. My knowledge of a political party does not make me an active participant in that party. I have to believe their core values and act on them. It was a shocking burst of reality when I discovered that all my years of “believing” only amounted to years of “knowing.” When my faith called me to believe, I had a meltdown.
Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Heb 11:1) That’s the tricky part — we don’t like having to trust in something we can’t see. Yet, that’s exactly what God wants from us. That’s what faith is all about. It means that you will trust and not worry. Will the money come in? Trust and not worry. Will your son be ok in the military? Trust and not worry.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. (Heb 11:6) It starts with believing that God exists. When we know that, we have to understand His nature. If we seek Him, because we want to find Him, He rewards us with what we need and blesses us even above that. Once we understand who He is, trusting Him gets easy. Read His Word and see just how generous and kind He is.
Here’s my challenge to you: check your heart and judge if you think you have faith, or you know you have faith. The way to determine that is checking your worry meter. If you worry at all, then faith is absent. If you turn to God and believe that He will do what He’s promised to do, then faith is active. Try it. Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve been worrying. Repent. Ask God to forgive you and ask Him for more faith to trust Him. Then try it out. See how far it takes you. We grow from faith to faith, always trusting Him more. If worry sneaks in because it’s been a habit, repent, ask for forgiveness, and move on.
Faith will save your life if you allow it. It is definitely God’s plan for you.