Monthly Archives: March 2016

Being Rescued

  
A couple of years ago I joined a concierge service at the airport. With my card, I could bypass all the lines, go past the TSA person checking tickets and ID’s, and go straight to the X-Ray machines. It was great. I no longer had issues at the airport. I didn’t have to worry about getting there two hours early or worry about all the TSA drama. It was worry free traveling. It was a lot like many people think life will be like when they become a Christian.

They think that becoming a Christian means you have no more troubles, problems, or issues. You can coast through life bypassing all of its issues. If you have a need, simply pray and ask God for it. If you do have problems or unanswered prayers, you must have hidden sin or be out of God’s will. Their perception of Christianity is all wrong. Being a Christian doesn’t exempt you from any of life’s problems. It gives you someone to cast those troubles on.

Every Christian can attest that their troubles didn’t stop the day they became a Christian. They didn’t become a perfect person, nor did their life become perfect. In many cases, their troubles increased. When troubles over take my life, I like to remember Psalm 34:19. It says, “The righteous person faces many troubles, but the LORD comes to the rescue each time” (NLT). No matter how many troubles I face or how hard my life gets, I can count on God to come to my rescue.

That doesn’t mean the troubles go away or the devastation they cause in my life disappears. It means that God doesn’t abandon me in those times. He comes to give me strength to endure them. God knows that troubles produce growth, strength, and endurance, so why would he keep us from things that produce positive traits? Christians will have troubles, but they don’t have to be afraid of them because God comes to their rescue and uses them to work out His good in their lives.

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The Best Friend 

  
I don’t know of a greater friendship in the Bible than that of David and Jonathan. I Samuel 18 says their souls were knit together. Jonathan knew he was next in line to be king, but also knew that God had anointed David for that role. He gladly gave up his rights to the throne for his friend. His loyalty was to what God wanted and not what he was entitled to, and it showed in his actions.

When Saul was desperately trying to kill David, Jonathan would warn him. He helped David escape. On one such occasion in I Samuel 23, Saul was trying to find him, but God hid David. In verse 16 it says, “Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God” (NLT). To me, that’s what real friends do. They go to their friend in need and encourage them to trust God and to stay strong in their faith.

David didn’t have to tell Jonathan he was tired of living in caves, constantly having to hide, or that he was hungry. He didn’t have to tell him that he was doubting that God knew his situation and was telling God to wake up. As a friend, Jonathan proactively went to David and encouraged him. He prayed for him and stood by him in the struggle even if it meant his own father would kill him. He didn’t care about the consequences to his own life.

I would venture to say that many of us don’t have a friend like that and aren’t willing to go to that extreme for someone. However, each one of us can encourage another friend to stay strong in their faith. Each one of us can go to someone in need to stand in the gap for them and to pray for them when they don’t have the strength or faith to do it themselves. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and is born, as is a brother, for adversity” (AMP). Be like Jonathan and love your friends in the good times and in the bad. Be there for them in adversity and encourage them when they’re weak. God will honor you if you do.

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Don’t Panic

  
It didn’t take long after David killed Goliath for Saul to despise David. He tried to kill him underhandedly over and over again by putting him in positions where the odds were against him. Each time David was outnumbered or up against the wall, God made David victorious. I Samuel 18:14 says, “David continued to succeed in everything he did, for the Lord was with him” (NLT). This only made Saul hate him worse.

Even though David was successful each time, it was still stressful for him. In Psalm 59:4, David cried out in prayer, “Wake up! See what’s happening and help me!” He was scared and felt like God was asleep and not even paying attention to his situation. He was afraid and unsure that God even knew what was happening to him. He prayed long and loud for God to deliver him.

I find it interesting that one writer says that God was with him and made him successful and David’s own words were, “Wake up, God!” I wonder how many times in my own life that God is with me and I don’t even realize it. Just because I’m going through a difficult  situation, it doesn’t mean that God is asleep or has abandoned me. It doesn’t mean that He’s not paying attention.

Instead, God uses these times to prepare us for greatness. The struggle is what gives us the character and strength to do what God is calling us to do. Just because we can’t see God’s hand in a situation or don’t feel His presence, it doesn’t mean He isn’t there with us. Whatever we are facing, God is there with us. We can change our prayer from, “God, where are you” to what David said in verse 9. “You are my strength; I wait for you to rescue me, for you, O God, are my fortress.” Even though David had moments of panic, he remembered where his strength and protection came from. We can do the same.

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Spiritual Eyes

  
When I was in high school, I played basketball. We had a great team every year except for my senior year. We had a sophomore on the team who was 6’8″ tall. The problem was, he wasn’t very good either. Before every game though, while the other team was warming up, I would send him out to the court. I would say, “Here’s what I want you to do. Go out there to our side of the court, reach up as high as you can on the net, hold it, and just stare down the other team with a mean face. Do that for about a minute, then walk back in here.”

I knew that the other team would judge him by his size and not his ability. That’s just how we are wired. God knew that when He sent Samuel to Jesse’s house to find a new king for Israel. I Samuel 16:6 says, “When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, ‘Surely this is the LORD’s anointed!’” (NLT) He was looking for a person who looked like a king. God was looking for someone who would act like one.

In verse 7 the Lord said, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” He wanted Samuel and us to learn to see people the way He does. He doesn’t look at the brand of clothes we wear, the car we drive, the job we have, the neighborhood we live in, or the people we are connected with. God looks at our ability to serve Him and to be obedient to His voice.

In the next chapter, when the Israelites faced Goliath, they made the same mistake. When they looked at him, they saw a mighty warrior. When they saw David, they saw an inexperienced boy. David won the battle not because of who he was on the outside, but because of who he was on the inside. He had spent time with God in prayer and in worship. He had been on his knees long before this battle began. In the spirit realm, their size was flip flopped. David was the giant and Goliath was merely a little boy.

Whatever you’re facing today, let me encourage you not to be discouraged by what you see. It is not as it appears. Quit looking at it through your physical eyes, and learn to see it with your spiritual ones. You are more than a conqueror. You are a child of the King of Kings. You have the One who is greater than anything living in you. Rise up with the confidence of knowing who you are inside, fight, and win your battle. If God is for you, who can be against you?

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Saving Jesus

  
A few years ago, i played the part of Pilate for our church’s Easter drama. As I rehearsed my lines and got into character, it dawned on me that I was the one sentencing Jesus to death. My first thought was, “I don’t know that I want to play this part.” Of all the characters in the drama, I’m the one who has the power to save Him and keep Him from being crucified. Even though I find no fault in Him, I still release Him to the mob to be killed.

As I struggled with playing that character, it hit me that it wasn’t Pilate who sentenced Jesus to death. It was me. Me! Chris Hendrix. It was my sin that condemned Him. It was my faults that nailed Him to the cross. These are things that I’ve known my whole life, but as I began to play the part of Pilate, I realized I’ve not really fully accepted that blame. I’ve been shifting it to those who actually crucified Him.

There were all kinds of accusations being brought against Jesus in the different courts that night. The religious courts made up charges against Him, but they didn’t stick because the people they paid off couldn’t get their stories straight. They continued to harass Him and finally found a “guilty” verdict for Him speaking the truth about who He was. They just didn’t want to hear it.

In Pilate’s court, the religious leaders shouted accusations. In fact, the Message says, “The accusations rained down hot and heavy.” During all of the accusations, Jesus didn’t say a word. He fulfilled the prophesy in Isaiah 53:7 that says, “He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet He never said a word” (NLT). Pilate was impressed that He was silent among all the false accusations and tried to pass the buck to Herod in Galilee. He didn’t want to be the one to condemn Him.

When Jesus came before Herod, all Herod wanted was to see Jesus perform a sign or a miracle. When Jesus remained silent, Herod became offended. He dressed Him up like a king and joined in with the others and began to mock Him. They insulted Him to try to get Him to speak. Finally, he got board and sent Him back to Pilate. He couldn’t find a reason to condemn Jesus either.

We all fit into one of these courts with our lives. We can be like the religious leaders and say that He wasn’t the Son of God. We can accuse Him of lying and deny that He was who He said He was. We can be like Herod and mock Him and those who believe in Him. We can say, “Show me a sign and I’ll believe.” Or we can find ourselves like Pilate. We are impressed with Him and find no guilt in Him, but refuse to act on it. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what court you’re in, it was each of us who condemned Him to death. He went willingly to the cross for those of us who lie about Him, those of us who mock Him, and those of us who bow to the pressure of sin.

Each of us in our own way condemned Him to death. Even though I thought that as Pilate I had the power to save Him, I really didn’t. His ultimate plan was to die on the cross. If He hadn’t been crucified, we would still be in our sins and without hope. He kept that in mind as they hurled their accusations at Him. He loved them enough to stay silent in the face of their lies. He loved them enough to not perform a miracle for Herod. He loved you enough that He willingly died so He could pay the price for your sin. The real power was in His hands, not Pilate’s, and He used it for us. He took our “guilty” verdict on Himself to make us “innocent”. This Easter weekend, if you haven’t thanked Him for that, let me encourage you to. If you’ve never accepted Him for who He was and is, it’s time to recognize Him as the Son of God and invite Him to be Lord of your life. He died for you. Will you live for Him?

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Simple Obedience 

  
Do you remember when you were told to clean your room? What did you do? You probably went in there and thought of ways to not do it. After a long time contemplating, you decided to either shove everything under the bed or put it in the closet. When your room is checked, you didn’t fool anyone. The shelves and boxes where your things should have been are still bare. Your closet gets opened and your sheets pulled back exposing your lack of obedience.

Sure the floor is free of clutter, but you didn’t do what was asked. You didn’t clean your room. You merely rearranged it without putting things where they belonged. In your mind, you think you obeyed, but deep down you know what you did was an act of defiance. You try to argue your case by using technicalities, but you don’t get very far. What you’ve done is caused more work for yourself and lost more time because you have to do it over the right way.

Saul was like that. He got specific instructions from God on what to do, but somehow put the toys in the closet every time. He obeyed, but didn’t. Each time he had an excuse for doing what he did. God finally had enough and Samuel called him out on it. In I Samuel 15:22-23 Samuel said to Saul, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the LORD, he has rejected you as king” (NLT).

Each of us struggle with simple obedience for some reason. God gives us simple instructions, but somehow we complicate them. God is looking for us to simply obey what He’s asked us to do. Anything other than obeying His call on your life is an act of rebellion in His eyes. Whatever He’s called you to do, you need to do. Wherever He’s called you to go, you need to go. Whatever He’s called you to say, you need to say. Don’t find ways to put they toys in the closet. Do what He’s asked willingly and with a good attitude and your life will be fulfilled like never before.

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Guilt And Grace

  
As Samuel was retiring after making Saul King, he reminded the people of Israel of their history and pattern. He told how God would deliver them, they would honor Him for a while, they would later abandon Him for other gods, they would hen be captured, they would repent, and then the Lord would deliver them. They had followed this pattern for hundreds of years. It was a vicious cycle they were caught in. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t break it.

It’s easy to read the Bible and wonder what was wrong with them. Why couldn’t they see? But when we look at our own lives, we too follow similar patterns. We have certain things that seem to pull us away from God at various times in our lives. Certain temptations get the best of us. We sin, we feel like we’ve disappointed God so we don’t ask for forgiveness for a while because we feel like we are cheapening grace. After some time passes, we ask God to forgive us, and we go right back into serving Him.

No matter what our pattern is, in those times when we feel like we are far away from God, it’s important to know that God is not far from us. We may feel like we’ve abandoned Him, but know that He has not abandoned you. In I Samuel 12:22, as Samuel was reminding them of their pattern, he said, “The Lord will not abandon His people because that would dishonor His great name” (NLT). Even though they had abandoned Him, He had never abandoned them.

It’s our guilt that makes us feel like God has abandoned us when we sin. It’s our guilt that makes us feel like we don’t deserve forgiveness. But no matter how many times you fail, no matter how badly you sin, no matter how long you’ve walked away from God, or how far you’ve gone, God has not left your side. He’s patiently waiting to restore you. He wants to bring you back to the place of blessing and healing. He wants to re-enter that place of fellowship with you. There’s no set amount of time to wait. His great grace is waiting for you to repent and return to the life He has for you. Don’t let guilt force you to abandon God. Let grace restore you.

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