What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory (Romans 9:22-23)
Just because we see sinful people prosper doesn’t mean that God has looked away from their sinfulness. We are told not to envy wicked people in their prosperity, for that prosperity will lead to their ruin. Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong (Psalm 37:1) The scripture above tells us about God and the great patience He shows toward the “objects of His wrath.” It then ask us to consider what purpose He has in showing them patience. He looks to show His children the “riches of His glory.” What could that mean? The Hebrew word for glory originally means “weight” or “heaviness.” The same word is then used to express importance, honor, and majesty. Take a moment and consider that definition in this context.
How many people that the world views as prosperous are dead and empty on the inside? They have sought and gained the best the world has to offer at the expense of their peace and are now left with nothing to fill the void in their heart. Our sovereign Father gives us the opportunity to see what gaining the world and losing your soul looks like in the flesh. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matthew 16:26) These people who have chosen to ignore God are without the most fulfilling thing available to us, a relationship with the Father.
As the “objects of His mercy” we can live with the joy of knowing the riches of His glory. We know that the presence and provision found in relationship to God outweigh the lesser things of this world. God’s provision is designed for us by our Creator, not our sinful desire. Believers can live with the peace of knowing God and the assurance that we have more than enough to walk the path He has called us to. Gaining more might drive us into worldly assurance. God loves us too much to let us wonder from what is best for us. We can let His light guide us on our walk with Jesus and be an example to those God has “prepared for destruction.” God desires that none shall parish.
Let God’s glory shine through you. You might be the reason His patience benefits someone who is looking to fill the place in their heart where God is meant to dwell. Let others know what it means to see the riches of God’s glory and what it is to grow in His mercy. Show the world that God’s great power can also be shown in the grace and mercy of His patience toward all of us.
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:3-4)
They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved…. When the Lord heard them, he was furious; his fire broke out against Jacob, and his wrath rose against Israel, for they did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance. (Psalm 78:18,21-22)
In spite of all this, they kept on sinning; in spite of his wonders, they did not believe. (Psalm 78:32)
When events happen in our life that are contrary to our plans or painful for us, we seek God to deliver us from that circumstance. We ask for a miracle that will make the problems and pain go away. We want immediate relief and resolution so that we don’t have to suffer. There are times when God will bring miracles to His children but there are many times when the trouble is the beginning of a process.
God in His infinite wisdom allows these troubles to draw us into relationship with Him as our faith in Him grows. Faith in His love, protection, provision, and plan for our life. The Bible shows us what society verifies everyday: Wonders do no good. We draw to God in trouble as our faith is genuinely grown. Our short attention span draws us to the situations that are immediate in our life. We easily forget what God has done for us both in big ways and in the things we take for granted. It’s a miracle that you have the opportunity to have a relationship with God. Of all the lost souls on this earth God has chosen you to walk with Him in adoption as His child. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will (Ephesians 1:4-5)
The Old Testament is filled with examples of God performing miracles and the people immediately returning to idols instead of God. Then God allows troubles to come upon His chosen, they seek Him in these times, He delivers them, and they turn again to worldly idols. Even if a devout follower of Jesus were given their requests immediately as miracles each time they asked, the relationship with God would suffer. The faith He desires to be at the center of that relationship would fade over time, and He would assume the role of a genie who grants wishes, no faith, trust, or relationship required.
Our perfect and all wise God knows what His children need to grow. His greatest desire is to be glorified as we grow in deeper relationship to Him. The depth comes from faith, trust and dependence through submission to His will. Focus your eyes in Him and watch Him guide your steps. It is then that you will discover the life He has for you. A life full of peace and joy that not only passes all understanding but also your wildest dreams.
The relationship God desires with His children calls us into the deep and of the metaphorical swimming pool. You can never feel the power of God fully manifesting in your life until you can’t touch the bottom anymore. Your Father is calling you into the deep water where He is your Sustainer and your own provision is exhausted. You either admitted your best attempts are worthless or they have left you empty.
The deep water is where we find spiritual connection with God. We have a heart-felt connection with His love and His Spirit fills us. Our trust and faith have lead us to follow Him into the deep water where our reliance on His will and bigger plan matures our faith and grows us. God has plans for us that exceed our wildest dreams. Those plans are found in the deep waters where He grows our character to receive something we could not handle otherwise. It is through growing closer to Him that we can see His bigger plan and walk in a way that glorifies Him in His provision.
The shallow end of the pool, where most people are too afraid to leave, reflects self-reliance. We feel ok as long as our feet are touching bottom and we perceive that we have any control over what is going to happen. We have a mental connection to God but our reliance on our flesh makes us too heavy to tread water. We find security in our own abilities and the things that the world can provide. We are in danger of missing the plans that God has to grow us. There is also the inevitability that God’s full power will never be able to fully manifest in our lives.
I pray that each of us will seek God in the deep waters. We will allow our water treading muscles to grow. As we rest in God our weight becomes irreverent as we find rest in Him. Our best efforts in life will never compare to what the Lord has for us. Our best will always be incomplete because God is not there with us. If we rely on God and walk the path He has, we will find rest and we can always be sure that His plan is one of completion. Our daily battle to maintain stability will fade away and His peace and joy will fill our hearts as His Spirit overflows from us. Follow God into the deep water and see His glory manifest in and through you.
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)
He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. (Psalm 18:17-19)
You armed me with strength for battle; you humbled my adversaries before me. You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes. (Psalm 18:39-40)
Take a moment and read the scriptures above. Think of God as your Deliverer in the first. He rescues you because He delights in you, not because you turned to Him. He brings you into a spacious place where you are no longer bombarded by your present trouble. Now think of God as your Provider and Vindicator in the second. He gives you what you need to battle the darkness of this world and walks before you in battle.
Now read the scriptures again knowing the character of God but this time see that the “foes” and “adversaries” represent your sin and your flesh. Many times, you are your own enemy as your flesh battles the spirit that is put inside you when you accept Christ as your Savior. Many times, God has to rescue you from yourself and give you weapons to battle the sin left in your soul.
We tend to think of our enemies as outward influences but many times we are at odds with ourselves. Our humanity founded in worldly things fights our spirit founded in eternal things. It is when we submit to God and the character shown in His Word above that we have the ability to fight the residual sin found in our flesh. It is when we crucify our flesh daily that the Spirit of God in us can shine forth and lead us to deeper relationship with Him. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)
The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God…. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. (Romans 8:6-9)
When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him. (Matthew 8:14-15)
In the passage that inspired this message we see Jesus heal Peter’s mother-in-law from her illness. Taken in a larger and God revealing context we see our Lord healing her from the effects of her illness in the same we Jesus, as our Savior, heals us from the effects of our sin. He takes away her fever in the same way He takes away our death from sin. In the same way she was raised, we are also raised to eternal life through Jesus.
When she was raised her first reaction was to serve her healer. This is a message to believers that we are called into servanthood when we accept that Jesus gave His life to redeem ours. We are not called to serve out of obligation but out of love. When we can truly understand what we have been saved from, and experience the life that we have access to, we should look to serve the purpose God created us for. We should seek the purpose that Christ’s sacrifice has called us to.
God’s grace has called us out of the darkness of this world, not because we deserve it, but because His love and mercy have been bestowed upon us. Only through God’s grace and the sacrifice of His Son have you been called to Him and redeemed from your sin. You have been called for a purpose. That purpose is found in submission to your Heavenly Father. As we submit to God we are called to serve His kingdom. We are called to serve others.
Develop a spirit of gratitude as you seek true appreciation of what you have been given from a gracious and faithful God. Let your love grow along with your relationship to the Father. Share the love God has for you with others through selfless servanthood.
Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. (1 Corinthians 4:1)
O LORD, surely I am Your servant, I am Your servant, the son of Your handmaid, You have loosed my bonds (Psalm 116:16)
As Christians we are called to live our life in obedience to Christ our Savior. A life lived in submission to Jesus produces spiritual fruit in the believer. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23a) Many believers know that a genuine walk with the Lord shows through in that person’s life. They’ve seen people who know the Lord and know what that looks like as it contrasts with the fallen world.
Many people fall into a cycle of trying to rid themselves of the fallenness in their hearts hoping that cleaning up their life will produce Christian maturity. The problem is they are using their flesh to control their flesh. That is contradictory to God’s design. Trying to control a spiritual process leads to self-reliance and pride. We must remember that the acceptance of Christ comes with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. That indwelling gives us the ability to mature in the truth given by God’s Word and displayed in Jesus Christ. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:26) Indwelling of God’s Spirit creates an inward change in our hearts which develops into an outward manifestation in our lives. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)
What we must be sure to understand is: simply trying to correct sin in our lives is futile. What good is there in attacking our sinful nature with a flesh that is also sinful? We must allow the sinfulness in our hearts to be replaced by the Holy Spirit of God. We must allow the darkness of sin to be forced out by the light of God. Just like cold is the absence of heat and darkness is the absence of light; sin is the absence of submission to God’s presence in us. The only way to drive air out of a cup is to fill it with water. In this case it is the living water found through Jesus Christ. Focus in being filled with the Holy Spirit and submitting. This will give you the ability to live a life where sin and its penalty (death) have no hold over you.
The verse below talks about sin returning to a heart it has been removed from. When that heart isn’t filled with the good of God the sin has a place to return to. Think of addictions. When good habits aren’t developed the bad ones have a foothold to reoccur. The same is true with sin in our lives. Let the Holy Spirit dwell in your heart and leave no room for the deceiver to pull you away from the Father.
“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.” (Matthew 12:43-45)
It is inevitable in our Christian walk that we will encounter seasons of difficulty. Some people assume that walking with the Lord takes away the afflictions of this world. We might assume that God would only use those difficulties to punish people in their sin. He brings the clouds to punish people, or to water his earth and show his love. (Job 37:13) Let’s consider that God uses the difficulties of people’s lives to draw them closer to Him. Not only to draw the lost to Jesus and reconciliation with Him, but also to draw His children closer.
God has no need to create punishment for those who walk in darkness. All He has to do is let their decision to turn from Him, into the darkness, leave them in a despair of their own doing. A life absent of God is all the pain most people need when all of their human effort fails. When all earthly securities fail there is a loving Father waiting with open arms to shine His light into their lives.
The most important thing for believers is to make sure they turn to God when life becomes difficult. God uses all things for the good of those who love Him. Part of loving Him is the obedience found in reliance on His provision and perfect plan for your life. The times of trouble in our lives leave us with a big decision: turn to God or turn to the things of this world that are destined to fade. We can turn to the eternal or the temporary. Our treasure can be gathered here or in Heaven. Turning to God in a difficult season is not a onetime choice but a daily decision as the deceiver looks to draw you away from God in your desperation for immediate relief. Beware of turning to evil, which you seem to prefer to affliction. (Job 36:21) Look to God’s purpose, which is growing the faith of His chosen. Let hard times draw you to love God in deeper ways. Make relationship with God the result of troubles.
“Daniel, don’t be afraid. God has heard your prayers ever since the first day you decided to humble yourself in order to gain understanding. I have come in answer to your prayer. The [evil] angel prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed me for twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief angels, came to help me, because I had been left there alone in Persia” (Daniel 10:12-13).
This piece of scripture points out that there existed an angel over Persia that was in opposition to the angel of God. We must see the significance of the evil angel that opposed the work of God accomplished through His angels from Heaven. This concept is huge. We know from Ephesians that: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)
Imagine with me that for every blessing God has for His children the deceiver has the ability to send one of his demons (fallen angels) to oppose that blessing, resulting in a spiritual battle. This battle exists around believers constantly. We walk in the peace and joy of the Lord and then find ourselves beat down by worry and doubt that results in depression and despair. We start to question God’s involvement when in fact it’s the actions of the deceiver through suggestion that cause us trouble. We are called to have faith in our Lord so that we can combat the seeds planted by the deceiver. We are called to put on the full armor of God to protect ourselves for his flaming arrows and then fight against him with God’s word as Jesus did in the wilderness.
Don’t lose heart when you struggle. Those struggles only exist because the deceiver sees you as a threat worthy enough to require attention. If God wasn’t using you for an important purpose the devil would have no need to concern himself with you. Always reassure yourself that the troubles that attack you as you walk in faith are attacks from the enemy and not an absence of God. Use these attacks as a opportunity to ‘fine tune’ your armor and grow closer to God. As your faith matures along with your relationship to God, the deceiver will see that attacks on you become fruitless because the fruits of God’s Spirit abound in your life.
Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. (Revelation 12:7)
Many people come to Christ and dive into trying to be good. They imitate what they think a Christian should do and end up disappointed and exhausted in their effort. The yoke of Christ is light. He bore the burden of our sin and sent the Holy Spirit as our Helper to continue our growth and maturity. When we try to walk in our own strength we end up burned out and wondering where the peace and joy is. It is impossible to control your flesh with your flesh. Even if it were possible you would not be walking with God, you would still be alone. God didn’t send His Son to reconcile you to Him and then allow you to walk alone.
Our job is to deny our flesh, turn from our sin and allow the Holy Spirit to create genuine and lasting change in us. God looks to break down our flesh and let His Spirit guide us in our walk. If we try to imitate godly attributes by ‘being good Christians’ God still has to break down those human imitations so that His Spirit can instill the eternal ones. Man-made attributes are motivated by man’s will and not the Spirit. Even at their best, which is broken, they build up man instead of glorifying God. God will not let His children settle for lesser gifts, He knows His Spirit is necessary for the relationship He desires. All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace.
Spend time daily with God in submission to His will and the correction of His Holy Spirit. Be led by the Spirit to lasting, eternal change in your spirit. It takes longer because it’s genuine. After experiencing the process, you will see changes to your heart that you were not even aware needed attention. Then you will experience the lasting changes of God that are accompanied by the peace and joy promised in Jesus Christ.
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. (John 3:5-6)