A Bigger Picture in Christ

In every job that I have ever  had I have always tried to learn as much about not only my job, but about the jobs around me as well.  I was never satisfied with just being able to do my job; I have always desired to know more and to understand how my job fit into the bigger picture.  I guess I have always understood that even if what I was doing was important that I was a part of a bigger plan, a bigger purpose.  The same applies to our walk with Jesus. 

As Christians we must seek to do our part well, but we must also see the bigger picture and realize that it is not all about us, we must realize that there are other things happening around us that we contribute to and just as a boss will assign different tasks to different people as he sees fit and will praise and reprimand when needed God does the same.  Let’s face it, not one of us is perfect, not even close.  If you think that you are and you call yourself a Christian then you probably need to do some deep soul searching because God is not looking for people who think they have it all together or who think that they are perfect, though He does desire for us to become Holy, God is looking for someone with a humble heart and one way or another He will get it.

Hannah was a woman in the Old Testament who had her womb closed by God and it grieved her immensely.  Every year when her husband, Elkanah, would take his family to worship and make sacrifices to the Lord he would give Hannah a double portion because of his love for her and because the Lord had closed her womb (1 Sam. 1:1-8).  Hannah prayed to the Lord that He would open her womb and bless her with a son and that if he did that she would give him to the Lord for all the days of his life (v. 11). 

Wouldn’t you know that Hannah became pregnant and bore a son, Samuel, and gave him to the Lord just as she had promised?  Upon doing so she prayed the following prayer, she prayed…

1 Samuel 2:1-10

My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high.  My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance.  There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.  Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the Lord is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed. 

The bows of the warriors are broken, but those who stumbled are armed with strength.  Those who were full hire themselves out for food, but those who were hungry hunger no more.  She who was barren has borne seven children, but she who has had many sons pines away.  The Lord brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up.  The Lord sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts.  He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. 

For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s; upon them he has set the world.  He will guard the feet of his saints, but the wicked will be silenced in darkness.  It is not by strength that one prevails; those who oppose the Lord will be shattered.  He will thunder against them from heaven; the Lord will judge the ends of the earth.  He will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.

Hannah’s prayer revealed something that we often times forget and that is often times neglected to be taught.  God is not just good, He is also just, He is Lord, He is love, He is Judge.  He is many things, not just good.  He sees things that we do not see, even within ourselves and our lives.  Hannah warns not to speak in arrogance because God knows and our deeds are weighed by Him.  God sees the heart of what we do, not just what we do.  When we do things to be seen, rather than with a humble heart God knows and we are weighed for our actions. 

He breaks the strong and exalts the weak.  God gives poverty and wealth, humbles and exalts.  He raises up the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap.  We tend to think of God as good and good He is.  We pray for good things to happen to us, we pray for comfort and health, riches, a good life, but our actions and our hearts do not deceive God.  He knows and gives accordingly.  The only prosperity that we can count on is in heaven and only if we believe and confess that Jesus is Lord and do our best to follow Him all of our days.  There is no promise that we will have a rich and plentiful life by worldly standards, instead we are promised the opposite.  We are told that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12).”

In the movie “Do you Believe” the following question was presented.  It was asked, If you were taken to court today would there be enough evidence to prove that you are a Christian?  James asked, “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such a faith save him (James 2:14)?”  He went on to say,

James 2:18-26

Someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’  Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.  You believe that there is one God.  Good!  Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?  Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?  You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.  And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God’s friend.  You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?  As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

So if you were taken to court today could someone prove that you are a Christian?  Is your faith reflected by what you do?   Can God use you right where you are?  Can He use you to bless others?  How can your faith be seen in your actions?   It should be noted that deeds alone bring death just as faith without works does.  Paul said it like this, “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:8-10).”

We have been saved by grace, through faith, not by works.  So wherever you find yourself today realize that God loves you and wants to save you.  As we enter into a relationship with Him we are given the Holy Spirit to guide us and direct us and as we follow Him we are slowly made more like God, we slowly become more holy.  Through Hannah’s prayer we can see that she understood that she was a part of a bigger plan.  She first prayed desperately for a son, but then she promised that her son would be God’s.  She prayed by faith and God responded, but then she responded through giving her son to the service of God.  She was not just a woman of faith, she was a woman of action who understood that God was more than just good, that He was capable of so much more and that He places each of us in our situations to help mold us into what He wants us to be.  When we are made weak, He is made strong.  When we become less, He becomes more.

I have a long ways to go before I understand all that is going on around me, but I am becoming more aware of the things that God has people doing around me and how He is using all things and is working all things together for good.  I have only a small part to play in His bigger plan, but I have an important part and so do you.  We each have an important role to play and as we do our part He will guide us along the way and give us different tasks to help things run more smoothly and efficiently, we just have to be faithful and follow through with what He has given us to do and when we do people will be able to prove that we are Christians.  Will people be able to prove that you are a Christian?    If not then something needs to change in your life right now and it starts with your heart.

Drawing Near to God

When was the last time you took a close look at your life, at the things that you aspire to, at the things that you do, at how you treat others? When was the last time you really felt connected to God, desired to worship Him with your face planted on the ground crying out to him in praise and thanksgiving and in repentance? These two things go hand in hand. Unless we truly look at our lives in honesty we cannot truly feel connected to God, at least not more than a surface level connection.

Proverbs 4:20-27
My son, be attentive to my words: incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.

How is it that we have gotten so far from the truth? We live in a world where Christians for the most part are no different than any other person, so how can we claim to be set apart? How can we claim that we are going to heaven when our lives do not reflect a heart from which the springs of life flow? Sure each of us does things that are good, but even those who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior do these same things and do we even do them with right motives?

dirty ragsWhen we examine our lives and our hearts what do we see? I’m talking about the parts of us that are both visible and invisible to others. Is your life filled with any of the following? Drunkenness, pornography, murder, abortion, profanity, speaking poorly of people (slander), road rage, gluttony, viewing of violent movies/shows, viewing of explicit material (think of what was considered explicit or sexualized sixty years ago), sexual immorality, laziness, etc…? Is your heart filled with any of the following? Lust, greed, anger, fear, jealousy, slander, immoral thoughts, pride, negativity, hate, etc…?

Whatever the things are in your life that are keeping you from God you need to get rid of them.

James 4:1-10
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

We will never be without sin which is why Jesus had to come and offer himself up as a sacrifice so that we could live, but because of Him we are able to repent and turn our hearts toward Him. So “submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let you laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (James 4:7-10).

If this was helpful or encouraging to you please feel free to share it with others. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to make a comment. We all have a purpose and can be used to help others draw closer to God. God bless you in your journey to knowing Him deeper than before and accepting yourself with all of the qualities that God desires for you to have.

A World of Tribulation

By Nicolas Raymond
By Nicolas Raymond
“…in the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). There is so much trouble in the world today and it makes my heart grieve. It used to make me angry, and it still does a little, but it grieves me in my soul and it makes me wonder why. Why are there troubles in this world? Why do terrorism, and racism, and classism, and sexism, and all of the other isms’ exist? The only answer that I have is HATE! Even writing this right now I am grieved at the amount of hate and destruction that there is in the world. Where is all of the love at in the world?

1 John 4:7-21

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this love, not that we have loved God but the he loves us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the Day of Judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

So again I ask…where is all of the love at in the world? If there are supposedly more Christians now than there ever were than where is the love? I have experience hate and anger. I have experienced the desire to kill after being attacked by the enemy in war. I know the power that hate can have and it eats away at us inside. I remember longing to “get back” at the enemy for what he had done. I remember feeling like nothing else mattered other than staying in Iraq and being in battle so that I could play my part in winning the war against terror.

That was then, when I did not know God. That was when I was so filled with anger and hate that I was blind to God’s love. That was when I felt justified to feel the way I did. That was then…

But this is now. “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn. 4:16). In the beginning was a quote from Jesus that stated “…in the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). If God is love and Jesus is God, and Jesus has overcome the world, then where is all of the love? Jesus died so that we could be reconciled in Him and be made a new creation. It is through Him that we are no longer slaves of the world but are ambassadors for His sake (2 Cor. 5:17-20). Does this mean that anger does not creep in from time to time, or fear, or hate even? Of course not! Satan wants us to turn from God and to help him advance his own kingdom and he is sneaky. He attacks us in ways that make us feel justified in our actions or in the way we feel. When things hit close to home they take on a different meaning, but “God is love, and whoever abide in love abides in God, and God abides in him (1 Jn. 4:16)”.

So where are you at today? Are you choosing to follow God or to follow Satan? Is it time to consecrate yourself so that God can do a work in you? Have you thought about praying and fasting in response to the troubles that you see and endure? What will it take for you to find the love beneath the hate, or anger, or fear? “Whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the Day of Judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear (1 Jn. 4:17-18).

The good news is that we all have a choice because through Jesus Christ we have been given a way to be made new and to be made one with God. We have a choice to turn to a God that loves us and cares enough for us to walk with us daily and guide us through life, if only we listen. The good news is that through the power of Jesus Christ the world and its ways have been overcome, but it requires calling on His name and His name only.

Father my heart grieves for the world. There is so much hate and violence that at times it seems insurmountable, but I have confidence in you God that you know what you are doing. I have confidence in knowing that though I may struggle and will be persecuted that it is all for your glory. I praise you in all of your might and your wisdom. You have overcome the world, but instead of condemning all of us that did not yet know you you have given us time to come to know you and to share you with others. God, fill my heart with overflowing love so that all fear and all hatred is completely removed from me. Give me the courage to take a stand against Satan and the evil that surrounds him and share your love with the world. I want more of you God! Guide me in my path to righteousness so that I may be humbled and made weak as to exalt you in all of your glory. Humble me so that people see only you in me and nothing of myself. Thank you Daddy for being there and gently guiding me along the path leading home to you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

If this was helpful or encouraging to you please feel free to share it with others. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to make a comment. We all have a purpose and can be used to help others draw closer to God. God bless you in your journey to knowing Him deeper than before and accepting yourself with all of the qualities that God desires for you to have.

God is so good!

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Hello and good day to you. Have you received an encouragement from God lately? Has he blessed you in some way? Maybe he has gotten you through a particularly difficult time. Well there are others out there who have been struggling that need to know that God is still at work. Would you share an encouragement with them today? As brothers and sisters in Christ we need to be encouraging one another often, so if you have a story please share.

God is so good and he is always faithful. May he richly bless you as he uses your story to bless others.

God be with you!

Jeremy

P.S.  I would love to have your story on my testimonies page if you would be willing to submit it there as well.