Do Not Be Discouraged

He does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities. 
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, 
so great is his love for those who fear him; 
as far as the east is from the west, 
so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 
(Psalm 103:10-12) 

When you hear the names Gideon or Samson what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Is your first thought about Gideon’s fleece, or Samson and Delilah? Or do their stories remind you of God? It is interesting that when we think of people, we often think of their colorful faults or weaknesses.

The author of Hebrews reminds us that when God sees Gideon, or Samson he doesn’t see someone who is frightened, or someone who was just as interested in women as serving God. God remembers their faith! Their stories are examples of God’s grace, forgiveness, mercy and power.

Do not let your faults and mistakes discourage you! Do not believe Satan when he tells you that you are unworthy when your faith fails at times. For in each one us something sinful can be found. My faith is halting and imperfect many times. However, none of that changes how God sees us. God sees us as men and women of faith.

When our faith falters at times, when our faith is imperfect and incomplete Jesus intercedes on our behalf to God, his Father and our Father. Jesus says “I died for their imperfections, and faltering faith.” And with great joy God replies, “Yes my son, because you willingly shed your blood for them, I have taken away their sins! I find no fault in these my precious children”

Hear the words that God has to say to you today … “I find no fault in you!”

Do not be discouraged! Press on in faith!

Your life is a story of God’s grace, forgiveness, mercy and power. Your story brings renewed hope to the people around you, and to future generations!

Since God sees no fault in you, in faith fulfill the calling God has placed in your heart! Continue to be a faithful husband or wife! Continue to be a faithful worker, manager, student, entrepreneur, or author!

May many people be inspired as your life story demonstrates God’s ability to turn weakness into strength and to deliver in times of need!

Read Hebrews 11:32-40 on BibleGateway

What is the Essential Ingredient for Life?

This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. (1 John 5:4b NIV)


Faith is the potent, energetic, active ingredient essential to life.

Faith refuses to accept any situation as it is, or as unchangeable. Faith believes that God is active in every situation. Faith moves forward in grace and love with God’s wisdom. Faith sees God’s creative alternatives when surrounded by sin, death and destruction. Faith wins moral and spiritual victories, alongside temporal victories. Faith knows that God’s promises are a present reality even when they are not visible. Faith manifests God’s power, the power which raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Faith exchanges weakness for strength, sorrow for joy. Faith realistically evaluates the present and anticipates the future that God has promised. Faith is the anchor of hope!

But faith isn’t an assurance that you will always see the victory this side of glory …

Faith isn’t a guarantee of worldly possessions, or a promise of a rose garden. In fact faith was never intended to change your social status or economic status in this life. What faith does change is your spiritual status. Faith transfers your citizenship from this earth to heaven. Faith brings the sweet fragrance of God into your life on earth as you live as a citizen of God’s Kingdom.

Faith enables you to endure suffering and adversity with serenity.

Faith is all that remains when you live in the middle of man’s inhumanity to other men. Faith is the strength to continue to love God when the world tries to compress you into a common mold. Only faith can resist Satan. Only faith can endure the evil you currently face in your life.

You are not a fool to be pitied because of your faith. No! You possesses the greatest and only hope – God the Holy Spirit! By faith you possess God’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control! The world can never, ever, ever tear or squeeze these out of your soul!

Read Psalm 119:30-36 on BibleGateway

Abraham’s Story

When one rules over people in righteousness,
when he rules in the fear of God,
he is like the light of morning at sunrise
on a cloudless morning,
like the brightness after rain
that brings grass from the earth.
(2 Sam 23:3-4 NIV)


 A life anchored in faith, living as a citizen of heaven, sets you free to enjoy everything this world, God’s creation, has to offer. As a person of faith you can live here and now your life to the max. With your faith grounded in God’s Kingdom, as an employee, manager, or executive, as a parent, a friend, a spouse, or a student you have the privilege of enriching the lives of those around you.

 

In Genesis 12 God appears to Abraham with a call and a promise. A call to follow God to a land that God would show him, and a promise to bless Abraham and to make Abraham a blessing.

 

Abraham chose to obey God leaving behind the ‘seen’ world of his former days and launched into a project of ‘daring faith’ believing that the riches of the God’s Kingdom immeasurably surpassed anything this world had to offer. Abraham kept his focus on heaven – a city with foundations whose architect and builder is God.

 

When Abraham got to the Promised Land, by faith he made a reality of what wasn’t obvious to an onlooker. He started farming, he raised sheep, he dug wells. He worked hard, and was financially rewarded for the fruit of his hard labor. At the same time, he became respected by the people he lived among as a ‘Prince of God’ (Gen 23:6). He was viewed as a ruler among the people living in that area, and went so far as to go to battle to free the Kings of that area. Abraham’s servants (or employees as we would call them today) acknowledged that God was source of Abraham’s blessings (Gen 24:27).

 

While he enjoyed the wealth and prestige he earned by his labor, people knew that Abraham’s life rested on the stability of the promises of God, not on material things.

 

By going in faith where God sent him to go, Abraham brought glory to God. Abraham’s hard work and leadership amongst the people where he lived honored God. Abraham worshipped God by his quite faithful obedience throughout his life. And so God was not ashamed to be called the God of Abraham, and Abraham was counted as a righteous man.

 

When people observe your life, what do they see? Do they see your abilities, do they see what you have, or do they see your faith in God?

Rahab’s Story

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.(Prov 3:5-6 NIV)


Men from all over the known world came through her door to stay at her place. Over the years they told many stories. Stories of the Nile River teeming with frogs, and grasshoppers. Tales of flies swarming across Egypt and unprecedented thunderstorms and hail storms. People described to her how the Red Sea dried up, and a hundreds of thousands of people walked across safely to the other side like they were on dry ground. Then over a few drinks they laughed as they recalled the sight of the Egyptian chariots tossing and turning in the swirling waves of the Red Sea. Others guests told her of the amazing sight of seeing a flock of quail fly overhead and land amongst these people. Over breakfast a few people tried to compare the taste of Manna to the food she served them. She heard stories of water coming from a rock, and a mountain roaring with thunder and lightning. She heard stories of the magnificent tent that the people carried before them, and wondered what its purpose was if the people never used it for shelter.

There were rumors of strange rules that these people were to obey. Rules carved into two stone tablets that were carried inside a wooden box ornately decorated with gold. A box carried on two long poles, never touched by human hands. Rules that condemned what her guests would do with her at night.

More recently came stories of the towns that had been conquered by these nomad’s.

Strangers at her door …

One day two strangers showed up at her door. These men were different, they weren’t interested in her body.It didn’t take Rahab long to realize that these two men were from that nomadic group she had heard all the stories about. They told her they were Israelites, and confirmed the stories she heard. They explained to Rahab that it was the Lord God, creator of heaven and earth who had brought them out of Egypt, and to the other side of the Jordan River.

Rahab was faced with a choice that would define her destiny on earth, and for eternity. For her the choice was easy. Hearing all these stories, Rahab was convinced in her heart that the Lord God, is the supreme God of heaven above and earth below.

Rahab protected the two strangers. Rahab placed her faith in God, trusting that God who had brought the Israelites out of Egypt to the gates of her city, would faithfully protect her.

In the coming weeks after the spies returned to Joshua, Rahab’s faith in God would be thoroughly tested. Would they come back and rescue her?

Waiting … in faith (mixed with a little doubt?)

With her house built into the town wall, with a crimson cord lowered from her window she waited in faith. She waited in faith until the Israelites were camped outside Jericho. She waited for another seven days as day by day the Israelites walked around the walls of Jericho and passed under her window.

Did doubts swirl in her mind? Did she wonder if God would forgive her and redeem her on that seventh day as she watched the crimson cord in her window flutter seven times as the Israelites walked around the walls and passed under her window? She waited as the Israelites blew their trumpets, as her house shook when the walls around her came crashing down. She waited as she heard the Israelite army charge into town, as she heard the screams and noise as the Israelites killed, destroyed and burnt everything in sight. Would God remember her? Would God save her?

And then somebody was breaking down the door to her home …

God is faithful!!!

God was faithful. God was powerful. God rescued Rahab and her family. By faith she and her family moved out of her home and lived among the people of Israel. Her sins were forgiven! Her life was redeemed! Because of her faith, Jesus was not ashamed to call Rahab his ancestor.

God continues to be faithful. God is powerful. By faith you live in God’s Kingdom, among God’s people. Your sins are forgiven! Your life is redeemed! Because of your faith, God is not ashamed to call you his child!

Read Joshua 2 on BibleGateway

Looking To Christ

Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things shall be added to you (Matt 6:33, NKJV)


Where are you focusing your attention and energy? Do you focus on the people around you or the King of Kings?

When you focus your attention on the unseen Kingdom of God, you are proclaiming that there is a realm that can only be perceived by faith. When you focus your attention on what is happening at work you are declaring that this tangible, physical realm is all that exists.

When you look to the invisible, living, faithful, loving God, you don’t have to be intimidated by those around you. When you have seen God who is invisible, you don’t have to be terrified by that which is visible. When you have seen God’s power, your fears of the dangers around you can dissolve.

Faith in God means moving forward one step at a time in your life here on earth with bold confidence that each step toward your future continues on the solid foundation of God’s kingdom.

The secret to persevering faith is a lifelong vision of God and God’s Kingdom. This vision enables you to constantly remember that God’s invisible order is more real and permanent than the fleeting pleasures, activities, treasures and battles of this world.

Faith in God is a choice everyone has. The only condition for faith in God is that your sin cannot co-exist with faith. Therefore God made a way through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for your sins to be forgiven, so that you can live by faith.

Living by faith is not about the legacy that you will leave behind, or how the world will remember you. Living by faith is all about how God sees you, how God sees your works, and what God will say about you. When you live by faith God sees you as holy and righteous! When you go about your work by faith, you are working from a solid foundation where God sees the fruit of each task as gold, silver and precious stones that will survive his purifying fire. When you walk in faith, with your eyes focused on the invisible Kingdom of God, God is pleased to be called your God.

God continues to be faithful. God is powerful. By faith you live in God’s Kingdom, among God’s people. Your sins are forgiven! Your life is redeemed! Because of your faith, God is not ashamed to call you his child!

With eyes always looking to Christ, rejoice in God’s power, be inspired by hope, and continue faithfully in obedience to God.

Read Hebrews 11:20-31 on BibleGateway

Faith

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Heb 11:1)


Faith in God provides your life with a stability that exceeds anything this world has to offer. What God has promised is precious, perfect, eternal, just, and untarnished by sin. God’s promises are an unshakeable foundation upon which you can build your life. They are a safe haven of rest where you will always find peace.

God’s promises are rooted in God’s character. God, the promise maker is the promise keeper. God will do everything he has said he will do. God, The Promise Maker alone has the power to turn every one of his promises into reality.

Picture an old fashioned balance scale which was used to compare the weight of two objects. On one side start placing the promises of God. Promises like …

  • God will never leave you or forsake you
  • You are God’s child, and you can call out anytime, anywhere “Abba Father”
  • If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
  • God has completely forgotten your sins-God will deliver you from temptation
  • God will provide you with the grace you need for today
  • God will reward your obedience and faithfulness
  • God hears your prayers
  • God’s steadfast love for you endures forever

On the other side of the scale start placing your life, and each of your problems, afflictions, fears, anxieties, joys, hopes, dreams, and hidden secrets. Does the scale lean towards God’s promises or towards your life?

If God’s promises outweigh what is happening in your life today; if God’s promises, outweigh all the alternatives, then let faith continue to be the dominant characteristic of your life.

Without hesitating, with great joy, obediently let faith underpin your every action and decision.

Read Hebrews 11:8-16 on BibleGateway

How do you demonstrate the existence of God’s Kingdom?

I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior (Hab 3:18)


As you look past what is happening today in your life and obediently believe in the future that God has promised – you are demonstrating the existence of God’s Kingdom to your co-workers.

The truth of God’s kingdom cannot be denied when people see the fruit of God’s spirit in your life – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control.  You prove God is real when you reverently welcome what God says.

When you accept God’s gracious, unconditional forgiveness after you catch yourself being conceited, provocative, envious, selfish, lusting, boastful, proud, hateful, impatient, lazy, unkind, or angered – you proclaim to a watching world that a gracious, loving heavenly Father exists.

Noah was a man known for conducting his affairs according to God’s will. Everybody knew that he was a good and innocent man. His behavior proved to the people of his day that God existed.

Then one day God asked Noah to build an ark. This ark would become a tangible demonstration of the reality of God’s Kingdom to an unbelieving, scoffing, sinful generation. Without questioning or doubting what God said, Noah looked past what was happening at that time in his world, and believed the future that God had told him. Noah embraced everything that flowed from God’s mouth – his commands, his promises, and his warnings. Noah’s was obedient to God for the long haul. Over 100 years Noah patiently worked on building the ark without once seeing evidence of a flood. Noah persisted, even though everybody around him thought his actions made no sense. Noah’s faith drew a sharp line between the evil of the unbelieving world and the rightness of the believing world (Heb 11:7 MSG). Noah became an heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with his faith (Heb 11:7 NIV).

You show that God’s Kingdom exists when you allow God to take the lead in your life moment by moment in every situation. Your life is a testimony to God when you lovingly obey God, staying where he tells you to stay, going where he sends you to go, doing what he tells you to do, speaking when and what he tells you to say.

When your love never gives up on someone, when you never lose faith, when you are always hopeful, when you endure through every circumstance no one can doubt that God is real.

This isn’t easy. Our finite, logical minds often can’t make sense of what God is doing. It’s challenging when we don’t understand God’s timing. It doesn’t help when people bully us, ridicule us, or mock us for believing something that cannot be seen.

What keeps us going at these times is a quiet confidence that a loving God who created this world out of what was not seen, is faithful to his promises, and will accomplish what cannot be seen. When you have doubts and fears, admit them, and ask God to help you look past them so that you can see his love and holiness. In the midst of the storms of life your songs of praise and thanksgiving show that our God reigns.

How does your attitude and behavior reveal to your co-workers that the Kingdom of God exists?

Read Genesis 6:9-22 on BibleGateway

Walking with God

Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Heb 11:6)


God eagerly desires for you to walk with him. It doesn’t matter what you are wearing, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done. It doesn’t matter who is around you. The joyous privilege of enjoying intimacy with God rests solely on God’s grace.

When you are walking with God, God won’t run ahead, and then jump out from behind a tree to scare you. When you are walking with God, God won’t run the orange light and disappear into traffic. Yahweh the one who delivers on his promises will stay by your side so that you can continuously look full on his wonderful face in every activity of your day.

God won’t hurt you, stomp on you, crush you, or say things against you when you are hurting. Instead the Good Shepherd will tenderly lift you up and carry you in his arms. The author of life and light won’t extinguish the spark of life and light inside you. No! He will help you fan the flame so that your light will shine brightly.

As you enjoy fellowship with God, you will learn God’s vocabulary of sin and grace. As you take the first step of faith with God, God will continue to turn your heart toward himself, and will teach you how to obediently keep his commands in all you say and do.

When you walk with God you are entering into a warm, prayerful, worshiping relationship with the Lord of the universe in a world that does not know peace or joy.

The cool thing is that when you are walking with God, you get to light up the darkest of rooms with the sweet fragrance of God’s grace. When you are in fellowship with God you bring God’s blessing of peace and joy to those around you. But even better than that, God is pleased with your faith!

What is holding you back from accepting God’s invitation to walk with him? Why are you afraid to do or say what God wants you to do or say? Is that part of your life that you want to hang onto for yourself really better than what God could offer you?

What Is A Life Well Lived?

All a person’s ways seem pure to them,but motives are weighed by the Lord. (Prov 16:2)


To the observer they both were hard working, successful, and had good jobs. Although their jobs were quite different. They both had a good life, and enjoyed the fruit of their work.

One chose in faith to believe that world in which he worked was created by God. He saw his work as a privilege, and an opportunity to tend and care for God’s creation. He chose in faith to believe that the tools and skills he used in his job were gifts from God. The other took pride in his own skills and abilities.

One wrestled with the weeds and thistles in the ground but in faith looked forward to a future unmarred by the fall. The other cursed the weeds and thorns as he sweated away at his work.

One believed in the hidden things of God that he was unable to detect with his own senses. He saw past the mist and darkness of this world and glimpsed through eyes of faith the Kingdom of Heaven. The other heard stories about God and went through the rituals of worshipping God.

One they the two of them came to the altar with offerings from their careers. The only visible difference to their offerings was the different products they made and brought. Neither of them realized that sin and death was lurking in the shadows at their place of worship.

The observer would have seen one walk away with peace and joy written all over his face, and the other angrily storming away.

What the observer could not see was that one came with faith, and one didn’t.

Although both of their ways may have seemed pure or good to them and the observer, the Lord was weighing their motives. God was searching their hearts and examining their minds.

One walked away from the altar that day knowing that he had been doing the will of God. He knew that God was pleased with the way he did his work, with his attitudes, with his love, with his faith.

The other walked away angry, filled with jealousy and wondering if the offering had all been a waste of time and good products. As he walked away he heard God gently, lovingly call him to do well, telling him that he could find God’s acceptance if he didn’t let sin rule over him. Had he paused to really listen, he would have heard God’s passion for his heart and soul.

Time passed, and the two brothers found themselves working in the same field. Sin had followed them from the altar to the workplace. There sin overcame Cain, and he decided to end things by killing his brother Abel.

Was it worth it for Abel to trust in God?

The murderer Cain continued to experience God’s grace. He received God’s promise of protection as he settled elsewhere in God’s creation. He continued to fulfill God’s creation mandate as he established a dynasty for himself. The Bible tells us that many of the good things we enjoy today came from Cain’s descendants – metal working, music, agriculture. What we don’t know is if Cain ever accepted God’s gracious gift of forgiveness and placed his faith in God.

To the observer, Abel’s death was a senseless tragedy. Abel would never have descendants. Abel would no longer have the privilege of creating new things from what God created. Somebody else would take over his job, and life would move on.

But Abel did not choose to live for an earthly Kingdom but for a Heavenly Kingdom. Remember that whatever Abel did, he worked at it with all his heart as working for the Lord.

At that moment when Abel breathed his last breath, Abel entered into the ultimate reality, a place filled with everlasting pleasures, riches and glories that far exceed the pleasures of this world. At that moment, in Heaven, Abel heard these words “well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of my rest”.

Abel received the promise of eternal life, and lives today in Heaven. Abel is perfectly holy, he is no longer tainted by sin. Abel no longer has to deal with weeds or thorns. Abel doesn’t have to worry about stumbling, falling or being hungry. Abel no longer feels like his prayers bounce of the ceiling or that God is silent. For Abel is face to face with Jesus. Abel no longer experiences doubt or fears. Abel sees clearly now what his faith and hope rested upon.

Although Abel is now enjoying life in the Kingdom of Heaven, the amazing part of Abel’s story is that his voice still speaks today.

Abel’s story tells you that the life of faith, a life of righteousness is possible, and priceless. Abel’s story assures you that God is wise, that God is good, that God is in control and that God is just. Abel’s story invites you to see everything in light of the Kingdom of God. Abel’s story challenges you to trust in the activity of the invisible Almighty God. Abel’s story shows you that all that the Lord requires of you is to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Abel’s story assures you that God’s approval is worth more than man’s approval.

The Lord searches every heart, and understands every desire and every thought. What will the Lord find when he searches your heart at work today?

Read Hebrews 11:1-4; Genesis 4:1-8; Micah 6:6-8 on BibleGateway

Is there hope?

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. (1 Pet 1:3-4a)


Is there a solid anchor, something immovable and unchanging, something that is purely good that you can put your hope in today?

There is a certain hope! A hope that is beyond your wildest dreams. A hope that abides in a place external to this world. A place where rust and moth cannot destroy it, and where the thief cannot steal it away.

There is a living hope that co-exists with everything you experience in your life including the joys, the beauty and all that is good. A hope that shines brightly amongst all the evil, sickness, despair, shame, sin and death that surrounds you.

This hope is firmly anchored in the reality of the Kingdom of God.

This living hope rests solely on the goodness of God, the creator of the universe, the one who created you. A good, holy, righteous, loving, unchanging God. You can depend on this living hope with absolute confidence for God is faithful and keeps his promises. God is a God of hope. God will not deceive you or trick you.

Jesus invites you based on his finished work on the cross to faithfully hold tightly to the living hope he offers. When you take your eyes of Christ and see the sin, depravity, and darkness around you, Jesus invites you to hold without wavering to a living hope. When you are blessed beyond measure, and are enjoying life to the fullest, even as God meant life to be experienced, Jesus invites you to not let go of your living hope. And if you do let go of hope for a moment, if there are seasons when God seems far away and silent know that Hope continues unchanging.

Hope whispers quietly that God has your circumstances under control.

With hope faithfully move forward in confidence and joy. You don’t have to fret or worry just set your attention and affections on the things above, upon which your hope rests.

Next time when you find yourself saying “I hope that …” remember that God is a God of hope.

What difference does it make in your day that that God has blessed you with a certain living hope that transcends all that you hope for in this world?

    “Hope” is the thing with feathers –
    That perches in the soul –
    And sings the tune without the words –
    And never stops – at all – 

    And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
    And sore must be the storm –
    That could abash the little Bird
    That kept so many warm – 

    I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
    And on the strangest Sea –
    Yet – never – in Extremity,
    It asked a crumb – of me. 

        -Emily Dickinson