Blessings and Obedience

Where is your obedience?

You have to plant the seed, keep watering it, and keep it clean.

Let it grow into what’s supposed to be! 

James 1:23-25, says “23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it-not forgetting what they have heard but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”

When you obey the word of God, you experience the supernatural. 

For example, 

– When you don’t expect something, you don’t receive anything.

James 2:16-18, says “16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.”

Obedience is an expression of faith in God and believing in his commandments. 

You qualify for all the blessings; your harvest will come. 

Deuteronomy 28:1-2 says, “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands, I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God.” 

Refuse NOT to QUIT.

Don’t get DISCOURAGED.

Don’t lose FAITH.

I believe you put yourself in a qualifying position when you trust, have faith, and obey God. 

“Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.'” John 14:23

Expect the Unexpected

What’s your vision for the rest of 2020?

Let’s be honest, 2020 has been disappointing to a lot of us so far. We’re only 8 months into this year, and we have experienced dramatic changes. Plans, & vacations have been canceled as well as schools being shut down. Overall, there has been a lot of unrest.

So, let’s backtrack to the beginning of the year when many of us were so expectant for what was to come.

Many of us went into this year with the idea of having the perfect 2020, writing down our visions, goals, and plans for the year. A lot of negativity has defined in 2020, but we can choose how we will respond to the rest of this year.

Will we walk in fear, or will we walk in faith? Will we speak negativity, or will we speak life? Will we choose dissatisfaction, or will we choose joy? Although we can’t control the future, we can control our thoughts, words, and responses.

What was the vision God gave you for 2020?

Now, take a look at your heart and ask yourself, have I given up on 2020?
The vision that you had when you started this year does it remain the same?
In this scripture, it says that God is still good, and there is still hope.

Proverbs 23:18, says, “Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”

Romans 8:25, it says, “But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance, we wait eagerly for it.”

I challenge you to ask God for what your vision should be for the rest of 2020.

Let’s choose to speak life over our lives during this time, and to not lose hope in humanity and in our visions.

Habakkuk 2:2-3 says, “And the Lord answered me: ‘Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still, the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”

This is a reminder to keep chasing and going after the things of God, no matter what the circumstances might be. His plans and hopes will always be much greater. Keep in mind, to not give up when things get hard because having a vision is being able to see something that isn’t done yet. If you want something to come to past, you have to have vision and faith before it ever comes to reality.

Get ahold of your vision so that you can do it in Christ.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

You matter.

You are loved.

God has a purpose and a plan for you.

What is Truth?

Have you found yourself recently wondering what is true and what is false?

I know I have.

There is so much information constantly being thrown at us from all directions. A lot of this information is conflicting, and it is confusing.

We hear the words “fake news” and see “false information” alerts on articles and posts now more than ever.

I have found myself asking, “What is truth?”

This is not a new question.

Thousands of years ago, this question was asked by the Roman official, Pontius Pilate.

Jesus was arrested and handed over to Pilate. Pilate questioned him, and said to Jesus, “You are a king, then!” to which Jesus replied, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

Pilate responded, “what is truth?” (John 18:37–38, ESV).

What has always stricken me about this passage is that Pilate asked this question while staring into the eyes of the very embodiment of truth.

Jesus is truth.

He said to His disciples, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NIV).

John’s Gospel describes him this way: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, ESV).

In a world of confusion and unknown, when we are always wondering what we should believe, let us not cling to truth as a concept, but as a person: Jesus.

We know that it is only in Him that we are truly free.

Run to Him today.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32, ESV)

Yet I Will Rejoice

Sometimes I find myself asking the question, “why is good news so hard to come by these days?”

It seems that good news doesn’t sell. Newspapers, social media, and other media outlets are constantly pushing out negativity.

It seems like every post we scroll by, and every channel we flip through reminds us that there are many things to fear. It weighs us down.

It is in times like these that I think it is so important to look to Scripture for help. There are so many instances in Scripture where people had reasons to fear. However, over and over in the Bible, we see people choose to hope during these circumstances.

Take, for example, the prophet Habakkuk.  

In the last few verses of Habakkuk 3, the prophet describes a situation that looks grim and hopeless. However, he chooses hope and joy during the struggle. He says:

“Though the fig tree should not blossom

Nor fruit be on the vines, 

The produce of the olive fail

And the fields yield no food, 

The flock be cut off from the fold

And there be no herd in the stalls, 

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD; 

I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

God, the Lord, is my strength; 

He makes my feet like the deer’s; 

He makes me tread on my high places.” 

~ Habakkuk 3:17–19

There is so much trust exhibited here as the prophet describes what he sees, but says, “yet I will rejoice.”

He recalls the faithfulness and goodness of God, and he has reason to have joy.

YOU have a reason to rejoice. If you have breath in your lungs, God is not done with you.

Things may look grim and tense, but there is so much for which we can be thankful. There is so much joy to be found in the God who is our strength.

Let us rejoice today because He is our salvation.

We can trust Him.

Your Inside-Out Upside-Down Calling

The Kingdom of God is so much the opposite of the kingdom of man.

In God’s Kingdom, the last are first (Matthew 20:16). In His Kingdom, the Shepherd leaves his flock of 99 sheep to go after one that is lost until He finds it (Matthew 18:12). In God’s Kingdom, the hero of the world is not a conqueror but a servant who gives up his life.

The Gospel seems paradoxical. Yet, this is the way things are in the Kingdom.  

What does this mean for us?

God has a plan and a purpose for each of our lives. Sometimes, when God reveals those plans to us, we tend to shrink from our calling because we feel unqualified or inadequate. In our weakness, we wonder if God could use us for the task at hand.  

1 Corinthians 1:27 (ESV) says, “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.”

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

You have probably heard that God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called. That statement is so true. God takes our weakness and uses it to show how He is strong.

If you feel that you are not qualified to handle the task God has placed before you, you’re in good company. Moses, David, Paul, and countless others felt the same way.

In this inside-out, upside-down Kingdom, when you are weak, then you are strong.

Don’t be afraid when God calls you to step out and take action for His Kingdom.

His grace is sufficient. His power will be made perfect in your weakness, and He will get the glory.

“For the sake of Christ I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10, ESV).

Remember

In times like these, it is easy to become discouraged and fearful of what is to come.

We can get so caught up in the confusion and chaos going on around us that we forget for Whom and why we are here.

It is in these moments that I want to encourage you to recall the faithfulness of the Lord in your life. Every believer has a story, a testimony of how God brought them out of their sin and saved them; how the Gospel of Jesus Christ restored them and set them on a path towards life and healing.

In Psalm 71, the psalmist finds himself in turmoil. He asks God to rescue him from the “hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man” (Psalm 71:4, ESV). He describes the enemies surrounding him, and he is afraid.

One particular section of this psalm stood out to me. The psalmist writes:

“O God, from my youth you have taught me, 

and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. 

So even to old age and gray hairs, 

O God, do not forsake me, 

until I proclaim your might to another generation, 

your power to all those to come.” 

(Psalm 71:17–18, ESV)

He also writes,

“You who have made me see many troubles and calamities

will revive me again; 

from the depths of the earth

you will bring me up again.

You will increase my greatness

and comfort me again.”

(Psalm 71:20–21, ESV)

I believe what the psalmist does here is vital to all who have felt discouraged: he remembered. He remembered the Lord, how the Lord taught him from youth, and saw him through many troubles. It was this recollection that assured him that God would see him through again.

What troubles you? What struggles are surrounding you today?

My challenge for you is this: remember God’s faithfulness and be assured that He who once brought you through the struggle will carry you through again.