God Prepares Your Way

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But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land. (Exodus 23:29-30)

          God’s prepares you to accomplish what He destined you for from the beginning of time. Many times, you pray for God’s provision and His provision first comes as preparation for His bigger purpose. That’s why many times our lives seem to become more difficult after prayer. We were expecting a divine miracle to bring us relief when instead God groomed our character to walk in His upcoming revelation. God is more interested in our character than our pleasure. That may sound unpleasant to someone who is always seeking instant gratification, but you should consider what kind of joy and peace come from a character refined by God. How much more will you be able to succeed in His provision and plan for your life when you have submitted to His preparation?
          The scripture above shows God’s purpose in preparation. He could have driven out all of the enemies of the Israelites as they entered the promised land but that would have left them fighting into the dangers of the wilderness. Instead He allowed the enemies to keep the land farmed and provision gathered so that His people would be taken care of as they conquered each group of enemies in turn. At the same time, He was allowing His chosen people to increase so there would be enough to inhabit the land. God let His people grow in strength, number and relationship with Him before they were spread out over the land He had promised. Spreading His people too thin, too weak, and not focused on Him would have left them vulnerable to the things that try to destroy God’s plans.
          Know that God has a plan much bigger than what you can see. His ways are higher than our ways. Rely not on your own understanding of a situation but on your understanding of the God you serve. Submit to His refining, like the refining of gold. Let God increase your strength and value for His name sake, for His kingdom purpose. Be clay that is pliable in the potter’s hand and know that the joy found in the purpose God designed you for is worth the difficult season. Know that the God that sees all things from beginning to end has your best in mind as He grooms you for a purpose beyond your wildest dreams.

The Glory of His Patience

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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)

Lost in Pride

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                Many people think of pride as someone who thinks they are better than those around them. People focus on the “chest beating” pride that is the most outwardly evident form. The dangerous kinds of pride are the less obvious types. These are self-reliance and self-focus. All pride drives us away from God and opens up a foot-hold for the deceiver. God opposed the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6) Pride is the reason the devil was cast out of heaven and is the source of all sin. The pride of the deceiver is what causes him to oppose God and oppose those who serve God here on earth. Any pride that you hold is a connection to the nature of satan and a barrier to closeness with the Lord.

Self-Reliance

                It is human nature to try and do things for ourselves in our own way. We drift from reliance on God. This sinful nature draws us into a life soiled by pain, frustration, and worry. We feel out of place and unsettled as we try and mask the missing peace with worldly pleasures through more self-reliance. These earthly “band-aides” leave us deeper in despair. Someone who lives in self-reliance builds a house with no foundation. When they fall there is no limit to the depths of that trouble.

                On the other hand, we can fight that nature. We can rely on God. He desires us to rely on His provision and designed us to walk in reliance on Him. We were designed for a purpose and God wants us to walk in His light. If we follow the path of God we a fulfilled and at peace in our journey through life. We draw closer to God in reliance on Him and the deceiver loses his ability to draw on the pride that causes self-reliance. God calls us to humility and submission so that He can lead us in the peace and joy found in Him.

Self-Focus

       Humans are selfish by nature. From birth we think only of ourselves. The dangerous position of self-focus causes many things that create deep turmoil in our live. This kind of pride is the source of anxiety, depression, anger, unforgiveness, etc. It’s sad to see the world turn to medication over God. When we think the world revolves around us or that we deserve more than we do, we fall victim to pride. We are anxious when we think we can control the things around us. We get depressed when we don’t get what we feel we should or feel the way we want. Anger occurs when we feel wronged because we don’t deserve undesired treatment or belong in a certain situation. We have trouble forgiving when we want additional attention for the wrong we perceive. All of those situations find their source in personal opinions on what we think should be true.

       We have to turn to God and realize our mission on earth is to serve the growth of His kingdom and to glorify Him as His image bearers. The world owes us nothing. We have no control over the outcomes when God is in control. People are not focused on how we are affected by their actions because their fallenness causes them to be self-focused. It’s not our job to hold anyone accountable for the pride that we can now recognize. We must show them what humility looks like as they continue to walk in pride. Their escape from the prison of pride is between them and God. Focus on God and His plans. Focus on your involvement in His kingdom and turn away from the temptation to make any situation revolve around you.

 

       The most dangerous part of pride is that pride keeps us from seeing the pride in ourselves and others. We cannot admit the existence of our pride because our pride will not allow it. That is the reason why, even in the eyes of defeat, the devil cannot admit to himself that he cannot defeat God. People cannot see their own pride so you cannot call out their flaw. You must be an image bearer of humility and love that draws them to God’s peace that radiates from you. If you read this and find pride in your heart, you can thank God for that revelation and know that He personally is calling you out of the darkness of sin. You cannot see your own pride without the humility God gives you. The cycle of pride requires Godly intervention to break. Thank God for His continued work in and through you. Love others in their fallenness and draw close to God who loves you too much to lose you to pride, the source of all sin.

Silent Faith

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 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.  And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. (Luke 1:18-22)

The Scripture above is part of the story that tells us about an angel of the Lord telling the father of John the Baptist of his upcoming conception and birth. John’s father, Zechariah was a priest. The angel came to him as he was doing his duty in the temple. Zechariah’s disbelief was met with an inability to speak. This scripture spoke to me. I don’t see this inability to speak as a punishment but a gift. Not only was Zechariah left alone with the ability to only communicate with God, but his doubt was also kept to himself and away from those who looked up to him as a priest.

 [In Scripture silence was the prelude to extraordinary events. It was a sign that God was about to work… he could not be allowed to take his doubt out to the people.  It was thus not just a punishment. It was a chastening with a purpose. – Peter Pett’s Commentary on the Bible]

[When this realization struck home, the crowds knew they he had seen a vision in the temple and that God was about to do something marvelous in their midst (v. 22).- Bible.org]

            Many times, in midst of our troubles, we run to earthly comforts. It might be a substance or people. In doing this we run the risk of turning away from a God that uses troubles to draw us to Him. He wants us to rely on Him so that He can groom us for our purpose. “So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.” (Hosea 13:6) When we run to other things to comfort us we leave God out of the process He is drawing us to in our trouble. I feel the silence of Zechariah represents our tendency to pour out our hurt, doubt, disbelief, and frustration to the people around us who God desires to influence with our faith and obedience. God wants the people around us to see His work in us. Don’t be quick to spread your doubt and hurt to anyone around you. Seek wise counsel from other believers to speak the truth of God to you in your difficulty. The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him;  let him put his mouth in the dust—there may yet be hope (Lamentations 3:25-29)

 for when our faith is weak, and we throw out many obstacles, the truth of God, in continuing to flow toward us must, of necessity, break through them with a kind of violence – Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible

When People Prosper Without Christ

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But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. (Psalm 73:16-17)

                This Psalm describes the trouble many of us have when we see the non-believers walking in “happiness”, “security”, “health”, “wealth”, etc. The Bible describe throughout its pages how worldly prosperity will lead to destruction. The structure of worldly prosperity is built on a foundation that is falling apart. There is no real security in a world that is deteriorating and will ultimately be destroyed. As believers, we are called to store our treasure in the eternity of Heaven. When we build wealth and other earthly attachment they pull us away from a God focus. We drift into self-reliance and self-security, neither of which can be trusted. Trusting in ourselves and the security of this world is trust in fallenness, in sin, and in darkness. When we go into the sanctuary of God, as the psalmist says, we allow God to give us His divine provision which is more than we need or deserve. We also can glorify God for and with His provision which let our focus stay on God and our relationship deepen with the God of eternity. The more secure we become with the provision of God and His work in our lives the more we can see the artificial confidence people have in worldly pleasure. As the psalmist says: we can discern their end. We can see how thin the ice is below their confidence. We can see how easily their security can be shaken and how truly fragile their earthly prosperity is. Obey the call of your Lord to be not of this world and allow His grace to fill you with joy, peace, purpose and love. Don’t be distracted by the “prosperity” of the lost. Their gain apart from God will deteriorate and fall to dust. Your trust and hope in God will earn you a relationship that will prosper you here and last into eternity.

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous (Proverbs 13:22)

To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God (Ecclesiastes 2:26)

Though he heaps up silver like dust and clothes like piles of clay, what he lays up the righteous will wear, and the innocent will divide his silver… He lies down wealthy, but will do so no more; when he opens his eyes, all is gone. (Job 27:16-17,19)

Provision to the Faithful

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    As the multitude followed Jesus, it was recorded twice that He stopped and provided for them so that they would not parish in their pursuit of Him and His truth. (Jesus feeds the 5000 –> Matthew 14:13-21) When our focus is on God and serving Him He will provide for us in our faith. Jesus made this clear in the way He provided for those seeking Him. And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.  Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. (Luke 12:29-31)

    The problem occurs when people seek that they want over what God is looking to provide. In our sinfulness we lean toward self-sufficiency and self-guidance. We walk a path we have designed in our own power and look to God for the provision to help us along our own fallen path. We can fall away from fear and anxiety when we realign ourselves with the plan God has for us. We have to realize that we were designed for a Godly purpose. God’s provision is meant to supply us for that walk. Our following of Jesus allows us to appreciate that what we have been provided is more than we need. God will provide excess so that the overflowing of His provision can be showered upon those around us. One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much (Luke 16:10) When God sees you walking faithfully in union with Jesus using His provision to accomplish what God has laid before you. He will multiply that provision so that your walk can continue in greater ways.

    Don’t look to God for the worldly things you want, but instead ask Him to give you what He desires you to have. This will insure that your path is His, your desires are His desires, your will is His will, and all glory belongs to God the Father through a life transformed through salvation in and obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Money to Christians

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                People long for financial stability. They seek money in order to pay for what they want or feel they need. Most people begin to develop a financial focus in order to erase debt they have accrued. Having a mind that is focused on money leads to a slippery slope that moves us from a focus on the provision of God and toward our own ability to provide. We forget that even our own ability to provide is a provision of God. It is important that seeking money doesn’t outshine our seeking of God. (Luke 16:15) For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. The Christian walk should include avoiding debt. Being in debt to a person or a financial institution allows them to have a control over you that should only belong to our Lord. (Proverbs 22:7) The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender. This is why God instructed His people to lend the provision He provided, but to never seek provision from outside sources. (Deuteronomy 28:12) you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. God doesn’t look to see you suffer, He looks for His children to rely on their Heavenly Father. Seeking the things and provisions of this world reduce our eternal view of God’s kingdom. (Revelation 3:17)  For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. The true treasures belong to our soul, which is eternal and not of this world. We must strive to remain in reliance on the provision of God which leads us in His light and the path He designed for us before the beginning of time. We must be servants to God’s plan and not the materials that the deceiver uses to make us slaves to earthly institutions. We must maintain our focus on who we desire to serve.  (Matthew 6:24) You cannot serve God and money. A focus on money and wealth is a focus on what we own or who we owe. In reality we own nothing because all things will turn to dust as God reigns in Heaven forever, and it is Him that we owe everything. Allow only the provision of God to lead you, keep you, bless you, and overflow from you!