Monthly Archives: August 2016

Battling Resistance


When you are called by God to do something, and you begin doing it, you can expect resistance. Sometimes it comes in the form of people, and other times it is in the form of the elements. In April of this year, I went to Washington, D.C..to pray with Church leaders from across the nation. I expected people to try to prevent us, but it was really the weather that did its work. Once we started praying, the temperature dropped. It began to rain first, then came hail. After that, it started snowing, which got very heavy unlike anything I’ve seen. Then the wind started blowing and got up to 50 mph. When the time of prayer and fasting was over, the sun came out immediately. 

Through all of that, most people stayed to pray. When I think of resistance to the work of God, I think of the book of Ezra. While the Jews were in captivity in Babylon, God put it in the king’s heart to send the Jews back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Several years later, and under the rule of another King, people tried to intimidate the Jews and wrote to the new king to stop the work. They were successful. What the Jews did next, we can all learn from when we face resistance.

The first thing they did was surround themselves with people who would pray for them and over them. Ezra 5:1 says. “At that time the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo prophesied to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem. They prophesied in the name of the God of Israel who was over them” (NLT). When we surround ourselves with God’s people, we receive encouragement to continue the work. God often speaks to us through others when we get distracted. It’s important to have people around you who allow God to speak through them.

Next, you need to begin the work again and accept help from godly people. If you’ve been pressured into quitting, and you were called and reminded by God to do it, start doing what He called you to do. Ezra 5:2 says, “Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jehozadak responded by starting again to rebuild the Temple of God in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them and helped them.” No work of God is done alone. He places people in your path to work with you. Don’t push them away and try to carry the burden yourself. Look around, see who God has placed in your life, invite them to help you, and begin working.

Lastly, they were bold. Ezra 5:3-5 says, “But Tattenai, governor of the province west of the Euphrates River, and Shethar-bozenai and their colleagues soon arrived in Jerusalem and asked, “Who gave you permission to rebuild this Temple and restore this structure?” They also asked for the names of all the men working on the Temple. But because their God was watching over them, the leaders of the Jews were not prevented from building until a report was sent to Darius and he returned his decision.” Remember, there is no higher authority than God. When He calls you to do something, no one else has the authority to stop you. Be bold, keep working, and trust God.

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Delayed Answers


One of the most frustrating things for me is to leave on time and to arrive at work late. This recently happened several days in a row. When I turned on my app, it showed I would arrive at work 30 minutes early. As I drove, it kept rerouting me and delaying the time. It would beep and say, “Found new route. No time saved.” Then it would beep and say, “Delayed eight minutes.” I went through side streets, back roads, highways, and freeways to get to my destination. In the end, it was about 30 minutes after I was supposed to start my meeting. I came in, apologized, and delivered the content.

As I read Daniel 10, it made me think of that day in traffic. Each of us has been delayed trying to get where we are going. We’ve all tried to get somewhere important only to have to take alternate routes. It turns out, these things happen to angels as well (on a whole different level of course). They have places to be and messages to give, but are delayed as well. Daniel had been fasting and praying for three weeks, but hadn’t heard from God. It turns out, the angel ran into traffic and was delayed in bringing the answer.

In verse 13, the Angel said to Daniel, “But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia” (NLT). He wasn’t delayed by 30 minutes, he was delayed three weeks! He had to fight rulers and principalities of the air in order to bring Daniel the answer he was seeking. If it happened then, it happens today.

I love what the Angel said just before that in verse 12. He said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.” It’s a great reminder that when we begin to pray, our prayers are heard in heaven immediately. Sometimes there’s traffic in delivering our answer. We can’t give up praying because we haven’t been answered. There is a spiritual war raging that we don’t see, and it can cause delays. Daniel’s answer took 3 weeks of fasting and prayer. Imagine if he hadn’t been fasting or had quit praying.

Don’t quit seeking God for the answers to your prayers. We have no idea why answers don’t come as quickly as we would like. I wonder how many times I’ve blamed God for not answering my prayers, and I quit praying not knowing He had sent the answer and it got delayed. Just as God’s Angel was determined to get to Daniel with the answer, we need to be determined to keep praying and fasting until we get God’s answer. We can’t control how long it takes for the answer to arrive, but we can control how long we seek God for answers. 

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Walking Freely In The Fire


To me, one of the coolest stories in the Bible is the one where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace. As you know, they refused to bow to the god King Nebuchadnezzar built and set up. When the king confronted them, they didn’t back down from their beliefs knowing it would mean their death. In Daniel 3:17-18, they said, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up” (NLT).

Their response visibly angered the king. He ordered that the furnace be heated up seven times hotter than normal. He then had the boys bound up, hand and feet, dragged to the furnace, and thrown in. It was so hot that the men who dragged them there died. The king then noticed something odd. In verse 25, he said, “Look! I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!” He then called them out of the fire and promoted them to higher positions.

When you look back on your life, when was God most evident? Where can you see Him most clearly? For me, it’s in the hardest times. You could say it was when I was walking through the fires of life. When we are cast in the fire, we don’t always know if we will survive. We know God is able, but there is no guarantee He will get us out of the fire. Even still, we are required to endure and to be willing to be subjected to the fires of life.

Remember, it was in the fire that they were freed from the ropes that bound them. But even before that, God was with them. He’s not always visible leading up to the fire, but I know He was standing there with them as they refused to bow. It was only in the fire that He was revealed. God is most evident in the hardest times of our lives because those are the times we trust Him the most. When we all through the fire, our faith is deepened, our character is strengthened, and God’s love for us is proven.

You and I don’t have to fear the flames. We can walk freely in them with the Son of God beside us. I don’t know if the three Hebrew boys saw the Son of God in the fire with them or not, but He was there. We don’t always see God walking in the fire with us until we look back on it. So if you’re in the furnace now, look around. God has not abandoned you. He is there walking with you. He may not be visible now, but He’s there growing you, preparing you, and making you more like Him. Don’t give up in the furnace. Walk freely in the fire. 

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Biblical Determination 


When my mom was in the hospital and the doctors said there was nothing else they could do, my dad pulled all of us into a room. He explained that the hospital was sending her home and that hospice would be providing care at the house. He then said, “I still believe God can heal her, but if He chooses not to, we need to be prepared for that. I want each of you to determine in your heart that you won’t get bitter against God.” That choice, made with determination, is what kept my relationship with God during my stages of grief.

The word “determine” comes from the Latin words “de” and “terminare”, which means to completely terminate. When we determine something, we completely terminate all other options. We have a single-minded focus to do what we are set out to do. I believe Jesus was determined to pay the price for you and I. The Bible says His face was set like a flint toward Jerusalem. He had terminated all other options and was determined to complete His mission. You and I can have that same determination to do what God has called us to do, but we have to terminate all other options in our heart first.

Here are some verses in the Bible about being determined:

1.   Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.
Ephesians 5:10 NLT

2.   You paid careful attention to the way we lived among you, and determined to live that way yourselves. In imitating us, you imitated the Master. Although great trouble accompanied the Word, you were able to take great joy from the Holy Spirit!—taking the trouble with the joy, the joy with the trouble.
1 Thessalonians 1:5-6 MSG

3.   But Ruth answered, “Don’t ask me to leave you! Let me go with you. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and that is where I will be buried. May the Lord’s worst punishment come upon me if I let anything but death separate me from you!” When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more.
Ruth 1:16-18 GNT

4.   Indeed all who delight in piety and are determined to live a devoted and godly life in Christ Jesus will meet with persecution [will be made to suffer because of their religious stand].
2 Timothy 3:12 AMPC

5.   Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
Proverbs 4:23 NLT

6.     Remember that I have commanded you to be determined and confident! Do not be afraid or discouraged, for I, the Lord your God, am with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9 GNT

7.   Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour. Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset–rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world.
1 Peter 5:8-9 AMPC

8.   I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your regulations.
Psalms 119:30 NLT

9.   As for us, we have this large crowd of witnesses around us. So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us.
Hebrews 12:1 GNT

10.   Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame.
Isaiah 50:7 NLT

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Wake Your Dream Up


I recently asked a group of people what was the difference between a goal and a dream. I got several answers, but one stood out to me. They said, “A goal is something you can attain through making a plan, but a dream is that thing that is unattainable.” I thought, “If a dream is unattainable, then why have them?” Because so many of us think our dreams are unattainable, we let them die. We never chase them or go after them, so we focus on goals.

When I was younger, God gave me a dream of who I was to become. Yes, it was a calling, but it was so far out of reach, I treated it like a dream. I felt like if God wanted me to be who He wanted me to be, He’d just have to do a miracle. I lived all of my life with that dream in the back of my mind, but never had a thought of how I could attain it, so I never worked towards it. I knew the things I could do to move in the direction of it, but I stayed still.

In 2012, my former youth pastor was invited to speak at our church. I hadn’t seen him since the mid 90’s. After his sermon, I sat in my pew and quietly prayed, “God, if you want to make this a reality, I’m ready to do the work.” Immediately, he spoke into the microphone, “God just told me that someone in here has been running from their calling and just surrendered to it. If it’s you, He wants me to pray for you.” He actually got into more specifics than that and it was clear he was talking about me.

On that day, the dream God put in my heart came back to life. I began to do things, like starting this website, to get me closer to that dream calling. It’s no longer just a pipe dream. Each day that I do something about it, I get closer to God completing it. When I think about the Israelites, they couldn’t get to the Promised Land unless they were willing to leave the desert. They couldn’t enter it from the Sinai desert. They had to go towards the Jordan River. Once they got to the Jordan, God could perform the miracle for them to cross over into their dream land.

If you’ve allowed the dream God placed in your heart to die or lie dormant, I want you to take a step today from Ezekiel 37:9 and say what God told Ezekiel to say to the army built from the dry bones. Say, “Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again” (NLT). I believe if God placed a dream in your heart, He wants to revive it. You don’t have to be afraid that it’s too big. If you can’t accomplish it without His help, it probably didn’t come from Him. Speak life into that dream today and do something that moves you in the direction of your Jordan. 

You’re not too old. It’s not too late.

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Your Market Value


When I was a kid, my best friend and I would collect baseball cards. We would walk to the little store in the neighborhood to buy packages of Tops baseball cards. After we got back to his house, we would go through our cards and look them up in a book to see how much they were worth. The book had the value of all baseball cards in it. The most expensive card listed was for a player named Honus Wagner. It was worth several hundred thousand dollars. We dreamed of getting a Honus Wagner card one day.

In 2007, a Honus Wagner card auctioned for $2.7 million. Originally, the card came free in a can of tobacco, but now it was worth the millions to the person willing to pay for it. The market value of anything is based on what someone is willing to pay and auctions are proof of that. What made this card so valuable was that it was in mint condition. The better the condition, the greater the value. Who knows what that card will sell for the next time it goes to auction.

Sometimes we look at our lives like baseball cards. We think some are more valuable than others. We are always wondering what we are worth. If only there was a book where we could look ourselves up in and see. Of course, then we would wonder who is the most valuable. Who is the Honus Wagner of our generation? Who’s life is in mint condition? We look at our own life and know we are battered, wrinkled, and have torn edges. We somehow think that devalues us.

You are not a baseball card. Your value however, is based on the market value of what some is willing to pay. You read that right. God paid the highest price for you. To purchase you and to give you freedom, He gave up His one and only son. Romans 5:8 says, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (NLT). He doesn’t care how messed up your life is and that it’s not in mint condition. He sees Honus Wagner type value in you.

Your value is not based on what you or anyone else thinks. It is based on the price Jesus was willing to pay for you. The next time those thoughts of worthlessness come into your mind, remind them that you were bought with a price. When someone treats at you like you’re worthless, don’t dwell on it. They don’t determine your value. God does, and He already said you are worth everything He has and more. The market value for you is Heaven’s firstborn. Don’t let anyone cause you to think you’re worth anything less than that.

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How To Keep Bitterness Away


I’ve combed through the book of Jeremiah looking for things to learn and grow from. What I found was a man who obeyed God, said what he was supposed to say, and was rejected because of it. He was beaten, thrown into a public prison, dumped into a cistern to die, dragged off against his will, and called a liar when people didn’t like the messages God gave him. Before he even gave the messages, he knew that the people were going to reject the messages. He even tried to keep quiet at one point, but he said the word of God felt like a fire trapped in his bones until he spoke it.

I can only imagine what he felt. In Lamentations 3:16-19, he described some of it for us. He wrote, “He has made me chew on gravel. He has rolled me in the dust. Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is. I cry out, ‘My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the LORD is lost!’ The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss” (NLT). Powerful words describing a bitter time.

Even though this period of life was bitter for him, he didn’t become bitter. For me, that’s been one of my goals in life. When times get tough and all hope is lost, find a way to not get bitter through the process. When we have to endure bitter times in our lives, we have a choice. We can dwell on our losses, our disappointments, our failures, and our suffering or we can choose to dwell on God’s faithfulness through it all. One choice will make you as bitter as your circumstances and one will give you strength to endure.

Jeremiah chose the latter. In Lamentations 3:21-23 he wrote, “Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” No matter what you’re having to go through, God has been faithful to you and He loves you. Concentrate on who He is and what He’s done for you throughout your life instead of your present situation. A smooth life isn’t guaranteed to any of us, but the love and faithfulness of the Lord is.

Sing this hymn to yourself today to help you remember:

Great is Thy faithfulness! 

Great is Thy faithfulness! 

Morning by morning new mercies I see. 

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided,

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

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