WHY IS IT SO HARD TO ADMIT THAT I AM WEAK?

MARK 14:66-72: “As Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the kohen gadol comes by. Seeing Peter warming himself, she looked straight at him. “You also were with Yeshua of Natzeret,” she says. But he denied it, saying, “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about!” Then he went outside to the gateway, and a rooster crowed. Seeing him, the servant girl began again to tell the bystanders, “This is one of them.” But again he denied it. And a little while later, the bystanders were again saying to Peter, “Surely you’re one of them, for you’re also a Galilean.” But he began to curse himself and to swear an oath: “I do not know this Man you’re talking about!” Right then, a rooster crowed a second time. Then Peter called to mind the word Yeshua had said to him: “Before a rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And he broke down and began to weep.” (TLV)

OBSERVATION: Why is it so hard to admit that I am weak? I want to be strong. I want to appear strong to others. And when I am not, many times I put on a strong front to truly hide my weakness. When I read this account of Peter’s denial, I am not filled with contempt for Peter, I am faced with my own weakness.

It is a bold reality check when we are faced with our own mortality. I was a fairly young man in my early twenties when I discovered that I had a leaky heart valve. Tests were done, and it was confirmed that it was a congenital defect. There was nothing that needed to be done at this time, and it did not affect my daily routine in any way. I worked hard, played hard, and never had an issue with my heart.

Years went by until I had my first episode on a business trip to the Northwest. My heart was racing, it was the middle of the night, and I thought I was having a heart attack. The next thing I knew I was in an ambulance heading to the hospital. After everything calmed down I was told to immediately go to a cardiologist when I returned home. I was only 42 years old, far too young to have heart problems.

Returning to my home in San Antonio I made an appointment with a cardiologist. The doctor I was given was the head of the transplant unit at the Methodist Hospital. Surely I did not need that! I will never forget that appointment. She reviewed the data from the hospital in the Northwest, assessed my condition, and told me I had 5 years. She probably said more than that, but when I heard 5 years I simply stopped listening. I got into my car and wondered how this could be happening. How could I tell my wife? How could I tell my 5 year old daughter?

For five years I was convinced that I was strong enough to beat this! I exercised, cycled regularly, and believed that a miracle would take place in my life. My follow up appointments went from every six months to every three months. The normal routine was a nuclear stress test and analysis. Yet, I was strong enough. I was strong in my faith, I was in good shape, I was going to beat this! And then, almost 5 years to the date of my first appointment it happened. I was faced with my own mortality. I was not as strong as I thought.The aortic valve in my heart went into atrophy and I was being whisked away for valve replacement surgery.

Like Peter I thought I was strong. And when I faced my own mortality, it was both a rude awakening and a call to humility. During this entire ordeal I learned that my only true strength was found in Christ alone. And in the days and years after this event I have had to walk in the balance of my weakness both physically and spiritually. There are times when I revert back to thinking I am strong enough, and the Lord gently reminds me that He alone is my strength.

Peter wept. He wept over the fact that he had failed his Messiah. He wept over the fact that he had buckled under pressure. He wept when he realized his own weakness. Here was the man who was willing to die for his Lord. He took a sword to one of the guards in the garden, and then turned and ran away. Pursuing Jesus from a distance he not only denied Jesus three times, he also cursed himself. How could he be Peter – the rock?

It is when we come to the end of ourselves that we find the beginning of His life and provision. Sometimes our self-reliance has to be pealed away like the layers of an onion until we stand naked and bare before the Lord and before ourselves. And when we do, we are not met with God’s displeasure and judgment – we are met with God’s mercy, grace, forgiveness, and strength. It was the denying Peter that Jesus restored by the seaside after His resurrection with His call to love. And it was the Spirit filled Peter who preached the great sermon of Pentecost which birthed the church. This once strong man, now weak within himself, found His strength in Christ alone!

 

In Christ alone my hope is found

He is my light, my strength, my song

This Cornerstone, this solid ground

Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

 

What heights of love, what depths of peace

When fears are stilled, when strivings cease

My Comforter, my All in All

Here in the love of Christ I stand.

 

Lord, help me today to stand – in Christ alone!

In Jesus Name!

Posted in Mark | 1 Comment

CHILDREN’S MINISTRY IS NOT MY CALLING!

MARK 10:13-16: “Now people were bringing little children to Yeshua so He might touch them, but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Yeshua saw this, He got angry. He told them, “Let the little children come to Me! Do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it!” And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.” (TLV)

‭‭OBSERVATION: I used to think Children’s Ministry was not my calling. In fact, I would boldly say – “I am called to teach adults, not children!” If I was there with the 12, and Jesus was teaching, I would have told the children to go play somewhere else. After all, they would interrupt the Master, and everyone knows that adults cannot concentrate when a child is fussing or crying.

I think this attitude has made its way into many churches. I remember one person who told me how much they loved their new church because they could drop their children off at the door and not have to pick them up until after the service. At one time I would have agreed with them. However, now just the thought of it grieves my heart and spirit.

There is nothing more precious in this life than a child. Each child represents the love of God and the hope of life. A child is open, trusting, honest, and full of hope and faith. When we separate them from our midst we are hiding God’s precious gift. This is how Jesus felt about children. When the disciples rebuked the children, Jesus rebuked the disciples and drew the children in his arms and blessed them. For when Jesus held a small child, Jesus held the heart of the Father’s love.

Since my impudent days, God has cleansed and changed my heart toward children. In fact, He has opened the doors for me to write children’s training books that are now being used in missions work all over the world. I don’t think this would ever have happened if I had not heeded His gentle rebuke, and heard the cry of His heart. Now, our entire church understands that our greatest call, our greatest ministry, is to reach children with the love and Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Not everyone will have the physical ability in their older years to work with children. You don’t have to be a children’s worker to love children. There are so many children today who come from broken homes. They are being raised by a single parent and lack the love and support of a mother or a father. The Body of Christ must become their extended mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers. You will never know how important it is for a small child to receive love, appreciation, and respect from an adult.

There is a young boy in our church who shows up every Sunday morning and helps our ushers prepare for the morning. He always puts out the water bottles in a unique design each week, and he stands by the door with the children’s bulletins in his hand waiting to give them to the small children as they enter. When I greet him, give him a hug, tell him how great of a job he did in his weekly water display, his face lights up. It does not take much to touch the life of a child, it simply takes time and consideration.

Our church is filled now with men and women who love our children each and every week. Our children worship and pray with us in our morning service, and they are only dismissed for Children’s Church during the message portion of the service. They are not a subset of our church family, they are the center of it! Young and old, prayer warriors and adopted grandfathers and grandmothers, together we have heard the call of Jesus and welcome the children to come to Him!

Lord, I pray that you will deepen our devotion and love for the children you have placed in our care. I pray that as they grow up to be youth, young adults, and eventually adults and parents, they will carry on the tradition of loving the children as You taught us to do. And may we all become as a child in our love, devotion, and service unto You.

In Jesus Name!

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WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO THE 10 COMMANDMENTS?

EXODUS 20:1-17: “Then God spoke all these words saying, “I am ADONAI your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

“You shall have no other gods before Me.

Do not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or on the earth below or in the water under the earth. Do not bow down to them, do not let anyone make you serve them. For I, ADONAI your God, am a jealous God, bringing the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to the thousands of generations of those who love Me and keep My mitzvot (commands).

“You must not take the Name of ADONAI your God in vain, for ADONAI will not hold him guiltless that takes His Name in vain.

“Remember Yom Shabbat (Sabbath), to keep it holy. You are to work six days, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Shabbat to ADONAI your God. In it you shall not do any work—not you, nor your son, your daughter, your male servant, your female servant, your cattle, nor the outsider that is within your gates. For in six days ADONAI made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Thus ADONAI blessed Yom Shabbat, and made it holy.

“Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long upon the land which ADONAI your God is giving you.

“Do not murder.

“Do not commit adultery.

“Do not steal.

“Do not bear false witness against your neighbor.

“Do not covet your neighbor’s house, your neighbor’s wife, his manservant, his maidservant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” (TLV)

OBSERVATION: What ever happened to the 10 Commandments? I remember learning them in church and Sunday School as a young boy. I remember seeing them displayed in courtrooms and public places as I grew up. When I was young there was no public outcry against them. Why is there such a huge outcry against them today?

This cultural shift did not happen overnight. It began at the turn of the 19th to the 20th Century as so called Biblical Scholars began attacking the historicity and veracity of the Bible. Slowly they began to chip away at the Bible. They called into question the miracles recorded in the pages of Scripture. And this ultimately led to a rejection of the virgin birth, the ministry of Jesus, and an explaining away of the resurrection. This move was subtle, and it was only embraced in pockets. However, its effect began to creep into seminaries of higher learning, which in turn influenced those who were preparing for the ministry, and ultimately was manifested in the sermons and teachings that were coming from the pulpit.

While the church was allowing it walls to be chipped away, stone by stone, verse by verse, the enemy saw his opportunity to storm the gates. Those who did not believe in God, who once were silent in our culture, rose up with a shout to attack the truth of the Bible and the institution of the church. The Scriptures, that were once used to teach reading in our public schools, were banned from its curriculum. And the daily prayer that I experienced as a child, was removed. Inch by inch, God was being removed from our culture. Our dollar bill still said “In God We Trust”, but only a few bold souls would still proclaim this in the public square.

The cultural shifts that I have witnessed over the past two decades seemed at one time impossible. And while we continue to spend billions upon social programs and education, we cannot make a dent in the battle against the moral decline that we witness taking place over the entire world. This is not a doom and gloom statement, it is just an honest observation. If we are not honest with our true condition we will never do anything to fix it.

What does all this have to do with the 10 Commandments? Everything! When we understand that the enemies main objective has always been to torpedo the First Commandment, we can then see how, without this commandment, it is virtually impossible to proclaim and uphold the others. The First Commandment has been stated in two different ways. The first way is found in Exodus 20:3;

  • “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

It is restated in Deuteronomy 6:4-5, and repeated by Jesus in the Gospels as the “Great Commandment”;

  • “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love ADONAI your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

The enemy of our souls knows that when we stop loving God with all our heart, soul, and strength – everything else is but a house of cards! Jesus said that the First Great Commandment, when followed, leads to the Second Great Commandment, on which hang all the law and the prophets.

  • “And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire Torah and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew‬ ‭22:39-40‬ ‭TLV‬)

If you don’t love God, then you will never be able to love your brother as yourself! Take away the first, and the second will crumble over and over again. Let’s review this in the 10 commandments:

Second Commandment: When we do not love God, we will replace Him with an idol of our own making. The idols in our culture have become science, politics, wealth, success, fame, sex, just to name a few.

Third Commandment: When we do not love God, we will use His name in vain. The name of God and Jesus are used irreverently in our culture in every arena. If you say something against any other name you are politically insensitive. Yet, you can use God’s name, and the name of Jesus Christ in the foulest ways without any revocation or reprocussion.

Fourth Commandment: When we do not love God, we will not honor the Sabbath Day of Rest. God created this day for man’s benefit. It is a day to rest, reflect, worship, and remember that God is our Creator, and we as his creation owe him everything. If there is no God, then we will just cram this day with more activity and more opportunities to serve the idol we have put in His place. The empty seats and pews in the churches across our land bear witness to this truth.

Fifth Commandment: When we do not love God, we will not respect authority, for all authority comes from God. It is God who established the institution of marriage and family. Yet, when you watch any television show today you will witness the ongoing attack against the Biblical model of the family. Parental figures are many times portrayed as out of touch, insensitive, and overbearing. Authority is rejected in every corner of the public square. And we wonder why there is an increase in violent crime, drug abuse, and anarchy.

Sixth Commandment: When we do not love God, we will not respect the sanctity of human life. We will honor some life, the life that we deem important, yet dismiss the value of others. An unborn infant in our culture is easily aborted, and the elderly are easily dismissed. While we feign horror at the atrocities that we see on the news, we as a nation continue to commit them every day behind sterile walls. And we as a culture have begun to honor the importance of the life of an animal above the life of a human.

Seventh Commandment: When we do not love God, we will not honor the holy covenant of marriage. Marriage has become an exchangeable commodity, not a life time commitment. If we are not fulfilled in our marriage, we hook up with someone else. Eventually we cast off the loser spouse for the new one, only to repeat the cycle again. Sexual union between a husband and wife is no longer a sacred trust that is reserved for marriage, but it has become the testing ground one explores to make sure they want to marry the person they are dating. And we have redefined marriage between a man and woman as between almost anyone or anything we desire.

Eighth Commandment: When we do not love God, we will not respect or protect our neighbors assets. We will begin to view everything as an entitlement. If I can grab it then it is mine. Stealing is a gray area that we bend and twist to our advantage. While we never want anyone to steal from us, we are free to steal time from our employers, resources from our government, and anyone else with whom we feel entitled. Rationalization has replaced honesty and integrity. And as a result we pay higher prices at the checkout stands and many have lost their life savings and retirements by self seeking scam artists or identity thieves.

Ninth Commandment: When we do not love God, we will not think twice about lying. To lie in our culture is as common as the air we breath. We lie about the news, our opponents, our credentials, and everything else. It is impossible today to watch any newscast and really now whether you are receiving an unbiased account of the facts or a twisted account that has been fictionally crafted for some personal or political gain. And we don’t even think twice about lying to one another in our daily lives. We need contracts for even the simplest things we use to do with a handshake. And many live in an alternate reality they create for themselves with walls created to only allow the facts that support their reality, whether these are outright lies or the truth.

Tenth Commandment: When we do not love God, we will never be content with what we have. We will constantly be driven by covetousness and envy. And the marketing gurus have locked into this reality. Just when you bring home your new HD TV that you paid over a $1000 dollars for, they release the next 4K Ultra Definition TV that leaves your old set in the dust. And to be found driving a car that does not have Apple Play on the dashboard is unthinkable. College graduates want to go from the graduation ceremony right into a high paying job, complete with a house and new car. The days of working from the bottom up are over because we are never satisfied with small accomplishments, we simply covet what everyone else has!

There you have it. A brutal yet honest profile of the world we live in. And the dominos can all be traced right back to the First Commandment. Remove it, and the rest is just a matter of time. So the next time we are tempted to dismiss a removal of the 10 Commandments from a court monument of city square, let’s think about the true impact. It is not the monument that is important, it is the place of honor and respect that the creeds written upon the stone hold in our heart.

If the world will not honor these in their heart anymore, my prayer is that the church will awaken and do so once again!

In Jesus Name!

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TURNING SETBACKS…INTO OPPORTUNITIES!

EXODUS 14:10-14: “When Pharaoh drew near, Bnei-Yisrael lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them! So they were terrified, and Bnei-Yisrael cried out to ADONAI. They said to Moses, “Have you taken us away to die in the wilderness because there were no graves in Egypt? Why have you dealt this way with us, to bring us out of Egypt? Did we not say to you in Egypt, ‘Let us alone, so that we may serve the Egyptians?’ It was better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness!” But Moses said to the people, “Don’t be afraid! Stand still, and see the salvation of ADONAI, which He will perform for you today. You have seen the Egyptians today, but you will never see them again, ever! ADONAI will fight for you, while you hold your peace.” (TLV)

OBSERVATIONS: How do I view setbacks in my life? Like everyone else, I love it when a plan falls into place. However, when my plans take unexpected turns, detours, and face countless delays, it can be very disappointing. And when these delays are compounded it can leave me wondering why I even began the journey.

I think each one of us would be standing with the children of Israel and complaining if we were in their shoes. Oppressed for over 400 years in the land of Egypt, led out of Egypt with God’s mighty hand, only to find themselves now trapped in between the Red Sea and the sea of Pharaoh’s army. No matter how you looked at it, it was not good. Had they taken this journey of hope only to die in the desert? Right now their homes in Egypt looked pretty good!

Recently I have been working on a project that is very dear to my heart. It is a project that was born out of prayer, and I truly felt the Lord leading me every step of the way. Then, just when I thought it was completed the delays and detours began. There was a time when I thought that the project would never be completed. I would face one delay, one detour, press through and make changes, only to face another. I prayed for guidance, and I kept persevering. However, as I faced continued delays and redirection I felt like the children of Israel. I questioned whether I had truly heard from the Lord.

The word of the Lord from Moses to the children of Israel resonated in my heart this morning as I read it. Moses stood before the frightened and disappointed children of Israel and proclaimed,

  • “Don’t be afraid! Stand still, and see the salvation of ADONAI, which He will perform for you today. You have seen the Egyptians today, but you will never see them again, ever! ADONAI will fight for you, while you hold your peace.”

“Stand still!”

“See the salvation of the Lord which He will perform for you!”

“The Lord will fight for you!”

“Hold your peace!”

What powerful words, and what a wonderful reminder and call to faith. As I meditate upon these words, and as I look back over the project dear to my heart, I can see that this is exactly what the Lord has been doing.

What I viewed initially as delays and disappointments have become opportunities and blessings. As I trusted in the Lord, and as I persevered in the project, I found that the setbacks were for my benefit and for the benefit of the project. And now, as I near completion, what this project has become is far more than I ever would have been able to accomplish on my own. The Lord used wonderfully gifted and patient mentors with special gifts of expertise to raise this project to a new level. What I thought initially was the end of the project was actually the beginning.

Through it all I have seen the Lord part the sea of my disappointment and lead me on the dry ground of His provision and blessing!

This morning, as I face my day I have a choice. I can try to push ahead in my own strength, or I can stand still and see the salvation of God. To stand still is not a call to inactivity. Contrary, it is a call to only act when and where God leads. And when He shows us the way, we are to charge ahead with faith and courage! As my view of the disappointments and delays has changed, my engagement and effort in my project has increased. And I have found a joy and expectation that I did not have before. An expectation of God’s miraculous touch upon the works of my hands!

Lord, this morning I stand still waiting for Your voice. Speak to my heart, show me the way, and grant me the grace and faith to walk in it!

  • “Don’t be afraid! Stand still, and see the salvation of ADONAI, which He will perform for you today.”

In Jesus Name!

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MY TIMES ARE IN HIS HANDS!

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PSALM 31:15-17: “But I have trusted in You, ADONAI. I said: “You are my God.” My times are in Your hands. Deliver me from the hands of my foes and from those who pursue me. Make Your face shine on Your servant. Save me in Your lovingkindness.” (TLV)

OBSERVATION: The Psalmist declares – “My times are in Your hands.” The word “time” in the Hebrew refers to the current moment, along with the moments to come. It encompasses all of our experiences, all of our fortunes, and every occurrence in our life, whether good or bad. In other words, if our “times” are in His hands, He is holding us firmly throughout every moment of life!

This verse challenged me with respect to my impatience. I confess, it is hard for me to wait. And when I find myself in the waiting periods of life, I am tempted to help God out by moving things along in my own strength. I then take back “my times” which are firmly in God’s hand, and put them back in my hand. I realize this is foolish, and I am learning to walk daily in a more submissive posture to the will and timing of God in my life. When I rush ahead of Him, I find myself breaking down doors prematurely, and this always leads to disappointment. However, when I wait upon Him, I find Him opening doors that lead to life, fulfillment, and peace.

In the midst of his enemies, and in the midst of setbacks, the Psalmist declares his trust in the Lord. He places his life in the Lord’s hands, and trust that God’s favor and lovingkindness will lead him to victory. This needs to become our response when we face difficulty, setbacks, and disappointments. If our times are really in God’s hands we need not push ahead. By trusting in Him, and by waiting upon Him, He will lead us to the place of victory and rest. God is more invested in our fruitfulness than we are! He has created us for His good purpose, and He will fulfill it as we learn to wait upon Him.

As I look forward today in my life, there are yet many unfinished dreams and visions in my heart. I have a choice to make as I sit humbly before His Word. I can push and try to fulfill them in my own strength and timing, or I can place my times in His hand. Faith reminds me that even right now I am eternal. I see this finite life as a time clock, when it is really only a training event. The goal should never to be accomplish everything in this short life, but to learn faithfulness unto the Lord that will carry us into the next. When we stand before Jesus on that final day, it will not be to simply float upon the clouds and play a harp. We will continue to enter into the eternal purpose and destiny that He has planned for our lives.

Our times are in His hand!

  • “Now we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those whom He predestined, He also called; and those whom He called, He also justified; and those whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say in view of these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans‬ ‭8:28-31‬ ‭TLV‬‬)
  • “To the angel of Messiah’s community in Philadelphia write: “Thus says the Holy One, the True One, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens: I know your deeds. Behold, I have set before you an open door that no one is able to shut—because you have little power, but you have kept My word and have not denied My name.” (The Revelation‬ ‭3:7-8‬ ‭TLV‬)

Lord, help me to release the grip I hold upon the times of my life and freely surrender them into Your mighty and loving hand!

In Jesus Name!

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IS GOD REALLY IN CONTROL (Of My Life)?

GENESIS 41:55-57: “When the whole land of Egypt suffered famine, the people cried out to Pharaoh for food, and Pharaoh said to all of Egypt, “Go to Joseph. Do whatever he tells you.” The famine was over all the entire land, so Joseph opened up all that was among them and sold grain to Egypt. Then the famine became severe in the land of Egypt. Yet the whole world came to Egypt to buy grain—to Joseph—because the famine was severe in the whole world.” TLV

‭‭OBSERVATION: Is God really in control? Is He really working all thing toward good, even the bad things in my life? The famine that took place in Egypt is a wonderful example of God’s sovereign hand at work in our world (and my life) to fulfill HIs ultimate plan.

Think of all the small chess pieces that God had to move to fulfill his will. Joseph’s brothers wanted to kill him, yet they sold him to some traveling Ishmaelite traders. These traders sold Joseph to Potiphar, who had Joseph put in jail when his wife accused Joseph of assaulting her. Although innocent, Jospeh is now in jail where he serves the jailer and interprets the dreams of the Pharaoh’s cup bearer and baker. Pharaoh has a dream and the cup bearer, restored to his position, remembers Joseph and Joseph is brought to Pharaoh. Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dream, and he is made second in command to Pharaoh to prepare Egypt in the seven years of abundance, for the seven years of famine. And the famine, when it hits, does not impact only Egypt, but impacts the whole world, and they all came to buy grain from Egypt, and from Joseph.

Some might dismiss this as a mere coincidental chain of events. However, it is amazing when you realize that all of this was orchestrated and allowed by the hand of God for one single purpose. Even the things that were meant for evil, God redeemed for this one single purpose. What was this purpose? It was to reunite the sons of Jacob, and to bring them together to a land where they would become a mighty nation to fulfill the promise that God had made in covenant to Abraham.

  • “Then He said to Abram, “Know for certain that your seed will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and they will be enslaved and oppressed 400 years. But I am going to judge the nation that they will serve. Afterward they will go out with many possessions. But you, you will come to your fathers in peace. You will be buried at a good old age. Then in the fourth generation they will return here—for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” Genesis‬ ‭15:13-16‬ ‭TLV‬‬

When I think through this chain of events I marvel and am comforted. I am sure that when Joseph was sold as a slave, when he was falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife, and when he was forgotten for over two years by the cupbearer that he assisted in prison, it seemed that God was not in control at all. Yet, Joseph had a deep inner conviction that God would be faithful. He did not allow setbacks and depression to sideline him. He was faithful in all that he did, entrusting his future and final outcome to the one who holds the entire world in His hands. And we have the benefit of discovering that his faith was not in vain.

Here is a wonderful promise.

  • “But there will be glory, honor, and shalom to everyone who does good—to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.” Romans‬ ‭2:10-11‬ ‭TLV‬‬

What does this mean? It means that God is actively involved in each one of our lives. When we place our faith in Jesus Christ, when we allow Him to be the Lord (king, ruler) of our lives, when we are guided by His Word and seek His will – he will move heaven and earth to fulfill His good pleasure for our life! This does not mean we will not have hardship. This also does not mean that the enemy will not try to thwart God’s plan for our lives through his schemes and attacks. What it does mean is that everything in our life, when surrendered to the sovereign hand of God, will work ultimately for our good – and for God’s perfect will for our lives!

  • “Now we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those whom He predestined, He also called; and those whom He called, He also justified; and those whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say in view of these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?” Romans‬ ‭8:28-32‬ ‭TLV‬‬

Today, I may be in the deepest valley that seems like it will never end. Or, I may be on the highest mountaintop rejoicing in the goodness of God. In both the valley and the mountaintop God is sovereignly at work. He is moving, redeeming, and creating a pathway that will ultimately lead to my good as I trust in Him. He did this for Jospeh, and all the patriarchs who went before us. And because He does not show partiality – He will do this for me (and you)!

Lord, thank You for Your awesome faithfulness and the promises in Your Word that have been spoken over my life through Jesus Christ my Lord! Today, help me to walk in them fully. Help me to see Your sovereign hand at work in the world, and in my life!

In Jesus Name!

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LORD – STRENGTHEN MY FAITH!

MATTHEW 17:14-21: “When they came to the crowd, a man came to Yeshua, falling on his knees before Him and saying, “Master, have mercy on my son, for he has seizures and suffers badly. For he often falls into the fire and often into the water. I brought him to Your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.” And answering, Yeshua said, “O faithless and twisted generation! How long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” Yeshua rebuked the demon and it came out of him, and the boy was healed from that very hour. Then the disciples came to Yeshua in private and said, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” And He said to them, “Because you trust so little. Amen, I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” [footnote: Most manuscripts omit verse 21: But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.]” TLV

OBSERVATION: What is the condition of my faith? Do I have faith in the God who can move mountains, or is my faith limited by what I see? Jesus did not rebuke His disciples because of their quantity of faith. Jesus rebuked them because of their quality of faith. Even the smallest faith in the God of all creation is enough to move the mountains of this life!

I think we can all identify with the 9 disciples that were left in the valley as Jesus ascended the Mount of Transfiguration with Peter, James, and John. Here the three beheld Jesus in all of His glory, as Jesus spoke with Moses and Elijah, and as the Father proclaimed His pleasure in His Son. Meanwhile, down in the valley, the 9 disciples were confronted with a demon possessed boy. Even after previous victories where they saw demons succumb to the name of Jesus, they were unable to fulfill the request of this desperate father. This is the scene that Jesus finds when He comes down from the presence of God on the mountain.

Jesus’ rebuke to His disciples seems at first appearance to be quite harsh. Yet, it must be contrasted with what He had just experienced on the mountaintop. For that moment Jesus was reunited in His glory with the Father. This was a foretaste of His upcoming resurrection and ascension. On that mountain Jesus was clothed in all of the glory that He willfully laid down to become a man. When Jesus came down from this experience, and saw the brokenness, hopelessness, and lack of faith in the valley – in a moment of true humanity and frustration He declared – “O faithless and twisted generation! How long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you?” But Jesus did not stop there. Jesus then said – “Bring him to me.”

Jesus then lovingly and compassionately healed the boy and taught his disciples about faith. This shows the mercy and love of God always reaching out to man. Even though the disciples had a lapse of faith, Jesus did not leave them there. He taught them so that He could restore them. The risen and glorified Jesus no longer battles with the human emotions that He experienced when He came down from the mountaintop. As our victorious Savior He always stands ready to help us, even in our weakest estate. He knows our frame, he knows we are but dust. And when we hear His promise, “All things are possible to those who believe,” like the father with the demon possessed boy, when we cry out, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief,” Jesus comes to teach us and strengthen us.

When Jesus told his disciples, “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting,” He was not giving them a formula for casting out a demon. Rather, He was calling them to intimacy with the Father so that they could be strengthened in their faith. While Jesus was on the mountain He enjoyed intimate fellowship with the Father. As a result, when he came off the mountaintop, Jesus was full of faith. On the other hand, the disciples were empty and they were trying to move in the power of faith without abiding with the God of faith. Prayer and fasting ushers us into intimacy and fellowship with God. This is where faith is strengthened and matured. This is where we find the confidence to trust in the one who alone can move the mountains in our life.

Lord, help me to pause each day and take time to be in Your presence. Give me a heart that hungers for You and that abides in prayer. Open Your Word so that I can see You and know Your heart. And as I grown in my knowledge of You, Lord I pray, strengthen my faith.

In Jesus Name!

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