THEY WILL WALK AND NOT BECOME WEARY

Isaiah 40:31 – Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

Patience, many people pray to have more of it in their lives.  When God answers it is usually by allowing circumstances to arise that require growth [becoming broken] in the area where patience is absent or lacking.  It is only in our brokenness that we are then able to successfully honor God with our responses to difficult times in our lives.

Initially my ideas were to merely reflect on patience as related to hassles of everyday life.  Most all of us have experienced the slowest line at the grocery store or stand still traffic on the interstate.  If you’ve spent any time in the military you know the true meaning of “hurry up, and wait.”

However, as I prayed the Lord opened my eyes to the true value of learning to wait on Him with a spirit of brokenness.  He has also caused me to realize the danger that comes from not being broken, humble and willing to wait on the Lord in obedience.

The value of patience is so much more than just waiting in a long line or tolerating a difficult person.  Not waiting on the Lord can lead each of us down the path of self-centeredness that yields a demanding spirit of entitlement.

Here in the States our culture is packed with avenues providing immediate gratification.  Our inclination to wait, seeking the Lord’s wisdom has become all but extinct in our society.  The result is attitudes of me-ism, massive debt and making life choices that take us far from what and who God has designed us to be.  This is true even within the Christian community.

Because of the ease of immediate accessibility, value for nearly all things, including life itself, has fallen into the abyss.  Let me show you how self-centeredness, a failure to seek God’s wisdom and not waiting on His guidance has yielded a tragic result.

The legal choice of an abortion has devalued human life to the point of overlooking the murder of the innocent.  The choice to abort is usually initiated to gain immediate freedom from a very natural and even predictable consequence of another choice for immediate gratification.  Would being patient, broken in our spirit and waiting on the Lord truly make a difference?

Over 98 percent of the abortions performed today involve women who simply do not want to have the baby.  Less than two percent of abortions are for the reasons of rape, incest, or the mother’s life being at risk.

Of the remaining less than 2 percent of abortions performed, only 1/10 of 1 percent are done “to save the life of the mother.”  In many of those cases inducement or C-sections can be performed.  Early inducement may result in the death of the baby, but it’s extremely rare that a baby must be actively aborted in order to save the life of the mother.  In fact, many physicians say that abortions are rarely necessary to save the life of the mother.

For the small number of remaining pregnancies that are the result of rape or incest, one must ask the question:  Is it possible that in this case alone, two wrongs will result in a right?  Is the murder of the innocent baby the path to follow to correct the evil acts of the criminal father?  Perhaps seeking God’s wisdom and waiting on His direction would bring viable, meaningful alternatives.

Psalm 139:13-16 speaks of God’s active role in our creation and formation in the womb.  One could easily conclude that God considers a baby in the womb to be just as much of a human being as a full-grown adult.

Unplanned or even unwanted pregnancy is certainly a difficult challenge.  While in the moment, the individual finding themselves in this predicament can easily become overwhelmed with floods of fear and emotions, that pregnancy is not beyond God’s ability to bring about His plan for our good.

Becoming broken as we wait upon the Lord is difficult

Patience requires us to lay aside our agendas, our schedules and simply trust God.  As the Spirit produces patience in us He is making us more Christlike.  2 Thessalonians 3:5 speaks of the “patience of Christ” (ASV).  Christ is even now patiently awaiting the completion of the Father’s plan: after Jesus “had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God.  Since that time, He waits for His enemies to be made His footstool”  (Hebrews 10:12-13).   We should be patient, even as our Lord and Saviour, Christ Jesus, is patient.

God doesn’t give us a free pass around difficult circumstance or annoying people.  Nor, does He prevent us from making self-centered choices.  However, in our brokenness He does give us the strength to overcome the circumstance, to show compassion toward the difficult person and to endure as we patiently wait on Him.  God longs to refine us for His glory and works in all things for our good (Romans 8:28 – 29).

So, would being patient, broken in our spirit and waiting on the Lord truly make a difference?  Patience, after all is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, produced by God’s work in us.  In brokenness, as we yield to His call, the fruit of patience comes alive within us.  God’s patience is love’s endurance.

PEACE IS LOVE’S SECURITY

The other day the news reported a two-year-old child had fallen into a deep well while on a picnic with his parents.  Against all odds the community was frantically working to rescue this little boy.  Bliss turns to sorrow.

Friendships once close, now covered with ugly bitterness and sharp words spewed by unbridled tongues.  Disease, war, famine, divorce, drugs, terrorists’ attacks and what could only be described as pure evil fill news reports daily.  God’s Eden has become a glorious ruin because sin has entered the world.  Since that event mankind has been plagued with pain and suffering of all kinds.

As we move through our personal journey, life often finds us lonely in a community of restless others.  Each one constantly searching for security and peace.  This lonely search is the result of sin.  It is the disease of sin that yields the fruit of our sins.

For many, the search for peace in this fallen world has a wrong focus.  The world preaches that wholeness comes with fame, wealth and/or controlling power.  These avenues, according to the world will quench the thirst for peace and satisfy our hunger for security.  They will not.

You and I were not given the gift of life so we could become absorbed and preoccupied with self.  It is also not our role to be “good deed doers” like the Tin-man in Oz.’  Doing good things is not bad but, if that’s all there is then one must agree with Solomon when he said:  “If this is all there is to life, then it truly is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”  (Ecclesiastes 1:14).

Returning to the place of, ‘In the beginning,’ one sees that God in His masterful plan made man unique within all of Creation.  While He spoke all other life into existence, with man He lovingly formed us with His hands and with His breath breathed life into our lungs.  We were created in their image.  Only mankind has been given the supreme gift of life that is designed to be in a full and intimate relationship with God.

Without living our lives rightly aligned with God we are incomplete and destined to an endless search.  We spend countless hours filling the void with more things, other people and new events, but these never fully satisfy.  The hunger and thirst of our longings are present within us.  Our stomachs remain empty and our throats are still dry.  Where is peace and security to be found?

It is a true statement that the further we separate ourselves from God the harder we must work to hide our insecurities.  Insecurity wears so many different masks and takes on so many different forms.

Some of our masks hide insecurity by appearing compliant and submissive.  Other masks that we wear take on the appearance of being strong and in charge, even bossy.  There are those that are controlled by the opinions of others, working diligently to gain the approval of every man.  Some of the imposter’s masks are unable to admit fault and see everyone else as committing all the wrongs.

These various roles often lead to addictive behaviors in an attempt to either make things work perfectly or escape the realty of failure.

The Prince of the Lies offers the false hope that peace and security have their roots in this harsh world.   Those that listen, remain on the path of sin living as a slave to insecurity, self-focus and pride.

Working to find peace and security in our own strength leads to a meaningless life.  Moving further from God leads to emptiness.  This is nothing new.  To the people of his day, the prophet Jeremiah declared, “Ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, we will not walk in it” (Jeremiah 6:16).

Centuries ago St. Augustine wrote, “You have made us for Yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.”  God has given you and I a precious gift.  The gift is an eternal relationship with Him and a deep understanding that beyond this life there is indeed more.

God created you and I for His good pleasure.   With His breath He sustains us so that we may enjoy intimacy with Him.  It is because He loves that we can love.  With each new day comes the wonderful opportunity to draw near to God and to walk with Him in His peace.  It is in this reality where we find hope.  It is only with God that we can find peace and live securly in the midst of the world’s uncertainties.

In His perfect love we find peace

28Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

When the darkness of this world causes you to lose your bearings, remember that Jesus is always with you.  It is my prayer that you will press into Him and draw close.  Jesus has promised:  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27).  Peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, produced by God’s work in us.  To have peace in Him is His will for us.  God’s peace is love’s security.

JOY IS LOVE’S STRENGTH

Like many, I woke up on Christmas morning and had a special Christmas breakfast of family recipes reserved for this one morning of the year.  After a 2ndcup of coffee the family gathered to hand out the presents.  Each person had one small gift under the tree.  Our celebration has never been extravagant like so many homes that have allowed the commercialism of the holiday to alter its meaning.

For us the gift exchange is fun and serves as a reminder of the precious gift that we have been given through the birth of the One we celebrate during the Christmas season.

However, even though the gifts had been carefully placed under our tree, the joy of those gifts couldn’t be shared until the gift had been received. So is it with the gift of God through Christ Jesus.

For many the gift that God has given has never been received, so the joy of such a gift is never experienced.  For others this wonderful gift is received by reciting a prayer of salvation but, the realization of living in the joy of that gift never is accomplished.

Every one of us has a past.  There is a memory, an event that creates for us great sorrow and shame.  These things cannot be changed, they are indeed indelibly inscribed into the story of our lives.  We are all sinners.

While the truth of our past is out of our control, our future can hold hope and new beginnings.  If we place our present in Christ and walk in His steps this can take us far away from the places of our past.

Over the past several days millions have made the familiar New Year’s resolutions.  These resolutions usually center on making improvements in their lives.  They have set their course, they have determined to eat better, to exercise more, to be kind and gentle, to read and study God’s word more, and the list of positive, hoped for change goes on and on.

I suspect that you might be one of those that have determined to be more [or less], whatever.  You truly want this year to bring about positive change.  Taking an inventory of one’s life and making a resolve to bring about growth and improvement is a good thing.  So, one must ask, if this is good, then why are so many of these New Year’s resolutions, these determined efforts to walk a different path so easily abandoned?

Many times, resolutions to begin anew are met with a common fatal flaw. The flaw is the effort to accomplish a chosen behavior and/or to become a Christ follower in one’s own strength.  This approach predictably ends in absolute failure, sorrow and an absence of joy.

The apple and the pear tree don’t work to produce their fruit.  Being filled to the utmost with splendid fruit is only possible by submission not by way of hard work or stress and determination on the part of the fruit tree.

The fruit produced is only possible because as the seed or seedling hit the ground years ago the task required was to merely dig deep and develop a root system.  It would be through this root system that all the moisture and nutrients from the soil would be brought to the tree for growth and prosperity.  This was the seed’s part of what God had intended.  In fulfilling its part, the seed responded in obedience to God’s perfect plan in Creation.

It is that work, developing a root system, that lies before each one of us in the Kingdom of God.  “But, his delight is in the law of the Lord. And in His law he meditates day and night.  And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1:2-3).

Galatians 5:22 states that:  “The fruit of the Spirit of God is love.”  Only as we live in love can we fulfill the will of God in our lives.  By submitting to the power of God’s Holy Spirit the believer can become love-inspired, love-mastered and love-driven.  Yes, the fruit of the Spirit is love and this fruit, this love is manifested in joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

If Jesus is our foundation, if He becomes our power source, we find joy. It is a true saying that:  “If the roots are holy then so are the branches.” (Romans 11:16)

You and I aren’t here by chance or by accident; God put us on this journey called life.  Before the foundations of all Creation were made, God knew us because you and I are part of His divine plan.  We came from Him, and our greatest joy will come through receiving His gift of life in humble obedience.  Our lives will become filled with His fruit as we give ourselves back to Him and learn to walk with Him each and every day.

One day we will return to Him, by His grace, to live with Him for all eternity. By yielding our will to His Spirit we can have the fruit of joy in our lives.  Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, produced by God’s work in us.  To have joy in Him is His will for us.  For you see, joy is love’s strength!

MERRY CHRISTMAS

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  (Isaiah 9:6)

Merry Christmas 

from the ministry of SOLID GROUND

(Rye and Becky Bell)

DO YOU BELIEVE?

This is the third of a three part series:

♪♫•*¨*•.¸♪♫•♪♫♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♪♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♫•♪♫♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♪  It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♪♫♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♪♫•.¸¸♫•♪♫♪♫•♪♫

This baby whose birth we celebrate is God with us, Immanuel.  He is the living Word.  This baby made the claim that He is:  …the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

 14”And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  (John 1:14)

The Word is divine breath that carries the power of God:  “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16)

The Word is the Work of God:   Oh, that we would hunger to be filled with the Word of God, for there is no greater armor, no greater strength, no greater assurance that He is with us and in us. While those around you are filling their minds with bad news, steep yourself in the Good News about God found in His precious Word.

 The Word is a sword that has the power of life and death:  “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…” (Ephesians 6:17)

The Word convicts and refines us: “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4: 12).

The Word has the power to destroy:  “Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29)

The Word cleanses:  John 15: 3 says, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” Christ sanctifies and cleanses with the “washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5: 26).

The Word gives us new birth: First Peter 1: 23 says we have been purified, “having been born again . . . through the word of God which lives and abides forever.”

The Word keeps us from sin: “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119: 11).  God enables us to live a spiritual life by “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4: 4).

The Word guides our actions:  “Blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice” (Luke 11: 28 NLT).

The Word is a plant that puts down roots and bears fruit:  “Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:21)

The Word is rain and snow that causes growth:  Isaiah 55 says, “10For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

The Word is a seed that grows to create new life:   “…since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God…” (1 Peter 1:23)

The Word nourishes our souls: We are told to desire the pure milk of the Word— it enables us to grow (1 Peter 2: 2).  I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food. (Job 23: 12)

The Word is solid food that strengthens the mature:  “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food…” (Hebrews 5:12)

The Word of God helps us discern the will of God:  2 Timothy 3 says,  “16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17o that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

The Word gives us eternal life: “Have you not read what was spoken to you by God? . . . God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matthew 22: 31– 32).

The Word is to be obeyed:  1 John 2 says, “5But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him.  That is how we know we are living in him.”

This baby is the living Word.  Revelation 19 says, 13He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”  (John 6: 68)

Is Jesus your way, your truth and your life?  Jesus is wonderful.  Have you come to the Father through Him?

Do you believe?