In Oklahoma, we know stormy weather. Our storms go way beyond reading by the fire weather. We see trees fall, power outages, flooding, and loss.
And many of us are facing a storm right now – it might be literal, spiritual, or both. But, unfortunately, facing storms over and over can dim out light.
In storm season, it is tough to see or be the light. As a result, our hope can slowly slip away. And when that happens, we start to expect or accept disappointment.
Have you started to expect the worst?
This reminds me of a quote from Spider-Man’s girlfriend, AJ, in one of the most recent Spider-Man movies. She says, “If you expect disappointment, then you can never really get disappointed.”
Side note, Spider-Man is one of my favorite Marvel movies. I’ve seen all of them, and the first movie of a series is always the best, although spider-man movies never seem to fail me.
Consciously or unconsciously, many of us have taken up Aj’s saying in our lives. We have lost hope that anything good can come from our lives, situations, family, or this world.
We have lost the confident expectation we once had in God or are now starting to doubt His promises.
Today I want to tell you: DON’T LOSE HOPE! DON’T BELIEVE THE WORST!
Yes, it storms, but there is always light. Even on a cloudy day, we can see a rainbow. And Genesis 9:12-17 says the rainbow signifies God’s promise to man.
God created rain. When we focus on HIS promises, we start to see God’s wonder, power, glory, and greatness, even on dark days.
We even begin to feel like something good comes out of a storm.
When we cannot see the sun amongst the clouds, we know that is right on the other side.
Even in the natural, the rain waters the ground and helps create new life in our soil.
Hold onto hope!
Be confident in the expectation of God’s goodness and faithfulness, even when it looks covered up by the clouds.
Have confidence in God’s promises, steadfast love, ability to do the impossible, and that He is faithful to those who love Him.
Know that God is with you in the rain, and good will come.
We all face suffering, disappointment, and grief, but our hope in God is what remains. So lift your eyes to the light!
Romans 5:3-5 tells us to rejoice when we encounter problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment.
For we know how dearly God loves us because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
I want to focus on resisting. I don’t know about you, but when I read this verse, I read it like this. “Flee from the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Yes, I know, the “fleeing” is not “resisting!” My brain skipped right over the most important word!
To resist is a military word that means “take a firm stand against.” or “To strongly resist an opponent.”
If the devil pushes you, push back.
If the devil tries to steal your ground, stand firm.
If the devil tries to move you, refuse to be moved.
Don’t let him steal your territory!
The question is, are you prepared?
The military is constantly preparing, training, and watching their ground. They are ready for war, so they are not caught off guard when it comes. They are continually learning and creating strategies to win.
In the bible, you see the word “Watchman” a lot in the Old Testament.
A watchman was someone who stood outside the campgrounds constantly on the lookout for enemies. They were to warn the people to get ready if they saw anything.
Are you keeping watch?
Are you prepared?
Are you ready for the fight?
Ephesians 6: 11 says, “Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” You must wear the whole armor of God to be prepared at all times!
Put on ALL the armor of God. If you are missing a piece, you put yourself at risk and lack protection from your opponent. It’s like running outside fully clothed but barefoot. You are risking the chance of stepping on something and hurting your foot!
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you can resist the enemy in times of evil.
Ephesians 6:14-17 says, “Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
This verse makes it clear to fight back with the Word of God. How do you do that? By confessing what the Word says, the truth over that situation.
“In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” -Ephesians 6:18
Don’t neglact prayer. Prayer is nesscary for fighting this war. Your prayer causes things to change.
It’s time to fight back.
It’s time to quit allowing things to push you over.
When reading the book of Daniel, I found a common subject – pride.
A king named Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar both had an issue with pride. Nebuchadnezzar was a successful and powerful king with Belshazzar following in his footsteps. His kingdom is described as a strong tree with a height that reached the heavens, lovely leaves, and fruit for all.
What a compliment, right?
But that beautiful solid tree would be cut down in a blink of an eye.
Pride led Nebuchadnezzar through a process of humility. As a result, he lost an honorable position and lost his kingship.
What can we learn from Nebuchadnezzar?
Guard your heart. Nebuchadnezzar let pride harden his heart.
Renew your mind. Nebuchadnezzar allowed pride to enter his mind and did not correct his thinking.
Always have a servant’s attitude, even in leadership – this is probably the most crucial one.
A humble person never loses the heart of a servant. The humble heart serves the people around them, regardless of their position. They do what benefits and exalts the other person or God.
“Humility is not shame. It’s not thinking of yourself as less but thinking of yourself less.”
Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, “those under Him.” They felt as if they were supposed to wash Jesus’s feet, but He made Himself as low as a servant (He was King, the Son of God, royalty.) Then He told the disciples to do the same to others.
A humble person, whether a CEO or a king, thinks of ways they can always serve people. Prideful people are always thinking of how they can help themselves.
God chose people to be kings who started in what the world would consider a “low position,” for example, a Shepard, but he exalted them because of their faithfulness to serve in those positions.
Matthew 23:11-12 says, “But let the greatest among you be your servant. And whoever makes himself high will be made low, and whoever makes himself low will be made high.”
Daniel 4:37 says, “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all of His works are right and His ways are just; and those who walk in pride He is able to humble.”
A king does not stop being a servant because of his position but has an even greater opportunity to serve others BECAUSE of that position.
Exalt and bring glory to God rather than yourself by serving others.
Many times, the word gentle can become confused with weak. To look at what gentleness is, you can look at the word meekness. Which often is labeled as being weak. When studying the word meekness it is described as gentle strength.
So actually, being gentle is a strength. It’s quite easy to be the complete opposite, harsh, or evening condemning. When trying not to be harsh you can find out quickly, it is a little harder to do so.
Gentleness or meekness is a fruit of the Spirit. This means it is never something humanly accomplished. We have to yield to the Spirit. It is not by our strength.
You can describe gentleness as avoiding unnecessary harshness yet without compromising or being too slow to use necessary force.
Why is it important to learn about gentleness?
Because without the balance of gentleness when handling a situation or trying to help someone, we can be harsh, which hurts them instead of helping them.
We see Paul using gentleness when teaching God’s Word.
“Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you.”
-2 Corinthians 10:1
It is something that should be balanced.
When looking at the Strong’s concordance, it describes it like this:
“Meekness, gentle force, begins with the Lord’s inspiration and finishes with His direction and empowerment. It is a divinely-balanced virtue that can only operate through faith.”
Like Salsa, not everyone can handle the spicy. Its flavor is too harsh, but that does not mean take all of the flavors out of it, leaving it with no taste. You find the balance. You learn to make it mild where that person can handle the Salsa.
You have to find the mildness in being gentle.
So, now before handling a situation or maybe a conversation you are not sure how to handle, ask the Holy Spirit to help you handle it with a gentle spirit. Remember it is a fruit of the Spirit. We need his help.