Monday, July 19, 2010

Are you discouraged?


Psalm 43:1-5 Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me! (2) For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? (3) Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! (4) Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. (5) Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.


When I feel discouraged or down, many times I open up the Psalms and read the words of King David. His thoughts and expressions are so real, so honest. It's as if he tape-recorded his deepest thoughts, concerns, and feelings. When life gets heavy, go to Psalm 43. Here you see a man, hurting, somewhat afraid and aloof to the presence of God. Feeling alone, tied-up with emotions and troubling circumstances, David seems to burst from the inside out. His heart is heavy. His life feels uncertain.

David, who is running for his life, determines to trust God. He pleads. He prays. He petitions. Everything in his soul pours out, better yet, spills out. Ever felt that way? Ever felt like you were running from something frightening or painful? I think we all do. We all face situations that blanket our hearts with fear and uncertainty. Sometimes we feel it's the enemy attacking us. Other times, its just life.


Are you feeling like you need God to sustain you? Do you feel you need a warm cup of comfort? I was reading some articles on discouragement today and ran across an article by Jacob Rodriquez. It was a rhema Word from God for me. I want to share some of it with you.

There are four things that David did, and that you and I can do, to make it through a season of discouragement (Psalm 43):

1. Position yourself in His Strength - Firstly, David said, "For You are the God of my strength." Sure, he followed that very statement with worries and doubts. However, before merely complaining or whining to God, he recognized that he needed His divine strength. Often times we grumble without seeing the power God has already given us. To David, he could have already been dead and gone. He could have already been killed. But God's strength had preserved him.

Sometimes we need do to what 2 Chronicles 20:17 says, "You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!' Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you."

What a life-changing scripture! It's all about how you position yourself in God's hand. Position yourself; be patient and watchful of the Holy Spirit's influence. Cast all your cares upon Christ!

2. Pursue His Word - David went on to say, "Oh, send out Your light and Your truth!"
David yearned for God's word. I have found, that when you're in a desperate place, you get hungrier for God's word. It almost seems like no matter what the preacher is saying, your heart melts in your chest and you feel encouraged.

When we're in trouble, we tend to be less analytical of the preacher's delivery, the choir's tune, and all the other details that can easily distract us. Being in a place of brokenness unties the often-petty issues around your heart, and allows you to receive God's word openly. Turning to the Word of God is the most powerful thing you can do when in a tough situation. Simply reading or hearing the word empowers and enlightens us.

David also said, "send out your light", which harmonizes with Psalm 119:105, "Your word is a lamp to my feet, And a light to my path." Like a lighthouse's beam cuts through the fog and guides vessels towards the shore, so God's word sheds light in dark places-guiding us through the dense fog of discouragement.

3. Persist in Worship - As synonymous with David's entire life, he can't help but worship God in his time of need. He said, "I will go to the altar of God And on the harp I will praise You". This part is so powerful. In the midst of calamity and despair, with nowhere to turn, no one to talk to, David musters up a heart of worship. When it appeared that all hades was breaking loose, and the end was near, all he could do was worship and praise God. He craved the altar. He hungered for the presence of God.

I believe this was a defining moment in David's life. And the same can be true for you. Worship changes you; especially when it seems inappropriate, based on your current circumstances. The best worship is not what you offer when standing on the mountaintop, above all your obstacles, but the heartfelt worship that echoes in a lonely cave, where problems seem to be mounting. There is where God gets the most glory. This is where you can exchange your spirit of heaviness for a garment of praise.

4. Possess your Hope - Finally, David hopes again. He said, "Why are you cast down, O my soul? Hope in God." Pay special attention to this progression: after that David was positioned in God's strength, pursued God's word, and persisted in worship...he possesses his hope. Plus, he is able to praise God even more. David got his hope back, because he got his faith back. As

Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

So how do we get faith? Romans 10:17 says, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." God's word was in David, and that produced his faith.

Maybe you're wondering, "What does all this mean?" It's actually pretty simple. Life takes us all to caves of pain and distress. Life gets heavy at times. But if you can cry out to God, like David did, God is able to come to your rescue. Does it mean your situation won't hurt anymore? Does it mean that all your problems will be wiped away? Possibly not. But what will be evident is the hand of God, pulling you through each step and changing the lenses on your life-so that you can see him more clearly.


"Lord, thank you for Your Word today. It has spoken into my spirit man. I make the choice right now to position myself in strength, pursue Your Word, persists in worship, and possess Your Hope! I trust You, I trust Your Word, and Your Holy Spirit. I thank you for a spirit of encouragement that is chasing me down even now. In Jesus name, amen!"

Friday, July 16, 2010

Poisoned spirit


Act 28:1-6 Once everyone was accounted for and we realized we had all made it, we learned that we were on the island of Malta. (2) The natives went out of their way to be friendly to us. The day was rainy and cold and we were already soaked to the bone, but they built a huge bonfire and gathered us around it. (3) Paul pitched in and helped. He had gathered up a bundle of sticks, but when he put it on the fire, a venomous snake, roused from its torpor by the heat, struck his hand and held on. (4) Seeing the snake hanging from Paul's hand like that, the natives jumped to the conclusion that he was a murderer getting his just deserts. (5) Paul shook the snake off into the fire, none the worse for wear. (6) They kept expecting him to drop dead, but when it was obvious he wasn't going to, they jumped to the conclusion that he was a god!


The island of Malta is 60 miles south of Sicily. It had excellent harbors and was ideally located for trade. The islanders on Malta were of Phoenician ancestry.

Dawn brought sight of land for Paul and his shipmates, They did not know that it was Malta. A beach on the land looked like a safe place to ground the ship. What they didn't know was that beneath the waters was a treacherous reef. They cut the four anchors, loosed the rudder ropes, and hoisted the mainsail. Then it happened. The prow of the ship stuck fast in the shoal and the stern was battered to pieces by the surging waves. There was nothing to do but abandon ship and grasp anything afloat to aid in swimming ashore. Paul and the other prisoners barely escaped execution. The soldiers wanted to kill them, fearing they would swim away and, once on land, would slip out of their grasp. Julius, the centurion, stepped in. Luke tells us that he wanted to save Paul. Was this allegiance to his duty to deliver the apostle to Rome, or in gratitude for what he had done to save their lives? I think the latter. He knew that they would not have made it if it had not been for Paul's leadership, prayers, and the blessing of his Lord. The apostle had made another friend. The account of what happened on Malta is further evidence of how the Lord will use everything for His glory and our effectiveness.

But something happened to Paul while building the fire that was even more convincing than his practical helpfulness. A viper was forced out of a crevice in one of the pieces of wood by the heat of the fire. It fastened itself to Paul's hand. This was a vivid picture: a leaping fire, the apostle in chains, a serpent dangling from his hand, and the natives of the island, as well as Paul's shipmates, looking on in horrified fright. The natives who had kindly greeted the survivors now expressed the superstition of their culture. The viper's attack was surely the just punishment of one they perceived to be a murderer on the way to his execution.

Paul, with customary calmness, shook the viper off his hand and went about his duties of helping others. The natives watched, waiting for his hand to swell and death to come. After a long time, when Paul was still joyously alive and active, the natives decided that this was no murderer but a god!


How does this apply to my life? There are several things that I would like to note:

Paul was still alive because of God's favor! Every where Paul went, he had enemies because of his preaching, but he also had dependable, trustworthy friends. I want to live my life so that God is able and willing to give me favor with men. There are so many things that need to be done in God's kingdom, but he is looking for men and women who will love the Lord God with all of their "heart, mind, soul, and strength" and "love his neighbor as himself." When we do that, expect God to reward that type of love with favor with God AND man.

Secondly, Paul never thought work was below him. He didn't have to, but he got right in and helped start the fire and bundle sticks. True, godly, pure leaders are not lazy. They are willing to do anything it takes to make someone or something successful!

Thirdly, as he placed wood onto the fire, and very venomous snake latched on to his hand and attempted to poison Paul. The poison SHOULD HAVE killed Paul. In fact the villagers watched and waited for Paul to die. He didn't! He shook off the snake into the fire. I noticed it said that the snake "wouldn't let go." It was stubbornly, and potentially fatally, latching onto Paul and refusing to let go. If Paul hadn't of shaken it off into the fire, I believe it would have killed him. But by faith, he took action and did something about the snake.

As I read that, God spoke into my heart that there are things in our life that poison our spirit and and stubbornly hold on to us. It could be failures from the past, it could be offenses from years gone by, it could be dislike or hatred of a person, it could be unforgiveness...again, I could go on and on. But the bottom line is, I must shake that poisonous creature into the fire. It is time to move on! It is time to walk in victory and to stop making excuses for the reason that I am allowing that poison into my life. I must adjust my attitude and begin to live like Jesus in every area of my life. How long will I allow the poison to effect my relationships with: my wife, my children, my co-workers, my church family, my friends? It is time to take action! It is time to move past your past! God can and will use your past today and in the future, if you stop allowing the poison to effect your spirit. King David cried out, "Lord, renew a right spirit within me" and God did. He will do the same for me!


"Lord, once again, I need your help. As I daily read your Word, you are showing me areas that I need to allow your Holy Spirit to work on inside of me. There are too many times that I allow a poisonous situation or person to stay attached to my spirit for days, weeks, months or years. This ought not to be! A poisonous spirit hinders my relationship with you and every other relationship that I have. Please forgive me for not "shaking the snake into the fire" and moving on joyfully with my life. I ponder, linger, relive situations where I have been hurt over and over again. I am sorry Lord, I am wrong. I cry out to you like King David did many years ago, 'create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. Right now I make the decision to shake this poison off of my life and spirit and I will live victoriously. The way I shake this off of and out of my life is through your Word, prayer and meditation. I STOP talking about how I was wronged, and instead talk about how blessed that I really am. I decide today to focus on the good things in my life. I do that through thanksgiving and praise. Thank you Lord for revealing this to me this evening. I love you Lord, and thank you for helping the poison to be removed from my life! In Jesus name, amen!"

Thursday, July 15, 2010

“Grumbled in your tents”


Deuteronomy 1:26-27 (AMP) Yet you would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the Lord your God. (27) You were peevish and discontented in your tents, and said, because the Lord hated us, He brought us forth out of the land of Egypt to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites to destroy us.


Moses retold the story of the scouting mission into the Promised Land (Numbers 13-14). When the scouts returned with reports of giants and walled cities, the people were afraid to move ahead and began to complain about their predicament. But the minority report of Joshua and Caleb pointed out that the land was fertile, the enemy was vulnerable, and God was on their side. We become fearful and immobile when we focus on the negative aspects of a situation. How much better it is to focus on the positive-God' s direction and promises. When you are confronted with an important decision and know what you should do, move out in faith. Focus on the positives while trusting God to overcome the negatives. Problems don't have to rob you of the victory.


How does this apply to me?

Verses 27 really jumped off of the page at me: Deuteronomy 1:26-27 "but you rebelled against the command of the LORD your God; 27 and you grumbled in your tents and said..."

Notice the phrase "you grumbled in your tents." As I read that, the Holy Spirit pricked my heart. What am I saying at home about God, HIS church, or HIS people? God refused to allow the children of Israel to receive the promise of the promised land for 40 years, partly because of what they said in their tents. So the question for today is "what is going on in my tent that is keeping me from receiving Gods promise?" Are my words uplifting? Is my attitude Christlike? Am I submitting to those in authority in my life (employer, parents, teachers, etc)? Am I spending daily time in Gods Word? What is happening in my tent? Is God pleased?

What am I teaching my children "in my tent?" I am teaching the importance of God's Word by the importance I show it "in my tent." I am teaching the importance of controlling my tongue by how I control it "in my tent." I am teaching the importance of prayer by the way I treat prayer "in my tent." I am teaching character issues by the way I respect people "in my tent." I am teaching my kids how a husband and wife are supposed to treat each other by what takes place "in my tent."

Listen to what Jehovah God says in Deuteronomy 6 about how to act "in your tent"

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 Write these commandments that I've given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you
(7) and then get them inside your children.

It is so important that I get God's Word inside of me before I can get them inside my children. I get God's Word inside of me by giving it high priority "in my tent."

Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. (8) Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; (9) inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.

If the only place I discuss God's Word is at church, then I am raising children who believe that serving God is just about religion. But if I daily bring the Word of God into my tent, then I am teaching my children that being a Christian is about a relationship with a very personal God. It all starts with how I am living "in my tent." Christianity that isn't effective in my home, isn't true Christianity. So I ask again, "What's going on in your TENT?"

I made an acrostic of the word TENT to show what happened to the children of Israel to keep them from going forward into God's promised land:

Talk was laced with fear ("Giants are too big")

Expectations were encased in forgetfulness (How quickly they forgot the parting of the Red Sea, Manna from heaven, etc)

Negative Attitude replaced Faith ("Why didn't we just die in Egypt")

Trust in God displaced by Frustration ("Let's kill Moses and get another leader")

How about you? Is your talk laced with fear? Are you expectations encased in forgetfulness? Have you failed to remember how often God has come through for you? Have you allowed your faith to be overcome with a negative attitude? Has frustration displaced trust? These are questions that we need to meditate on today, if we are going to truly examine what is going on in our tent. It cost the Children of Israel forty years in the desert before they learned their lesson. What is it going to cost me?


"Lord, I come to you today with a heavy heart. My heart is heavy because at times I have been careless with what is going on in my tent. It is in my tent that I should be preparing my children for a life of trusting God, however I allow frustrations and time constraints to keep me from being all I should be in my tent. The children of Israel complained in their tents and missed out on your promised land for forty years. Basically, a full generation missed out on so many things that God had for them because of frustrations that manifested in the tents. That is why the lack of trust in God spread...inside the tent, where trusting God and His Word should have been emphasized, they were discussing how God had let them down and that He wouldn't finish what He started. When I begin to get down on them, I need to examine my own life...and tent. I repent of not being everything that you need and desire me to be in my tent. I make up my mind today that I will be more of a godly influence in my tent. I need your help and guidance. In Jesus' name, amen."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fresh Hope


Acts 20:1-3 With things back to normal, Paul called the disciples together and encouraged them to keep up the good work in Ephesus. Then, saying his good-byes, he left for Macedonia. (2) Traveling through the country, passing from one gathering to another, he gave constant encouragement, lifting their spirits and charging them with fresh hope. Then he came to Greece (3) and stayed on for three months. Just as he was about to sail for Syria, the Jews cooked up a plot against him. So he went the other way, by land back through Macedonia, and gave them the slip.


Acts 20:1-16 maintains the chronology of Paul's third missionary journey. This was also a very important and productive time in his ministry. Checking corollary references in the epistles, we discover that some of his most refined theological dissertations which have blessed Christians through the ages were written during this period.Acts 20:1 sets the theme for this brief passage. It shows us the profound love Paul had for his newly won converts to Christ. He called the disciples to him before departing for Macedonia. The scene is a tender one, dramatizing the love they shared together in the bond of Christ.

The rest of this section is so much more than a travelogue. The same love Paul felt for his new friends in Ephesus pressed him on to strengthen believers in churches he had started. His route took him to Macedonia. There he wrote Second Corinthians (2 Corinthians 8:1; 2 Corinthians 9:2-4). The energetic mind of the apostle was focused on the needs of new Christians who needed encouragement, affirmation, and loving correction. Amazing-while visiting the Macedonian churches of Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea, his concern pressed on ahead to Corinth. When he arrived there, he encouraged the church and found time to write the Epistle to the Romans, his most comprehensive statement of the gospel. How blessed we are that he was given the vision to go to Rome and that his letter to the Christians there has been preserved as part of sacred Scripture.


In today's Scripture, Paul is coming away from a time of persecution and threats, yet he is the one who encouraged the disciples to keep up the good work. Then as he traveled, again facing constant threats and persecution, he did the following three things:

Gave constant encouragement! Paul was the encourager. One of his purposes in life was to encourage as many as he could each day. I truly want to encourage someone today. Too often we are discouragers with our words, expressions, body language. My prayer this morning is, "Lord, lay someone on my heart today that I can encourage through email, text, phone call, in person, or via letter." What a way to live.

Secondly, he lifted their spirits! The disciples felt better about themselves and their Christian walk after spending some time with Paul. That is what happens when you lift someone's spirits. I have been with people before that when they left my presence, I felt horrible, as if I needed spiritual bath. They were so negative about everything and everybody. Without realizing it, they dampened or lowered my spirit. I NEVER want anyone to feel that their spirits are lowered after spending time with me. I plan to ask God to use me every day to lift someone's spirits. I want them to feel better about their walk and life in Christ.

Finally, he charged them with fresh hope! After spending time with Paul, just like a battery can be recharged, they were recharged in the area of hope. Paul was used to get their hopes up. Those around him were probably discouraged and wondering if God had forgotten about them, but this anointed, godly man reminded them to get their hopes up, to put their hopes in the God of hope. I have been around people who drained any hope that I had as rapidly as a remote car's battery can be drained by constant use. "Dear Lord, please help me to never, ever cause anyone's hope to be drained from them by my words, or actions." I want to understand hope like King David did:

Acts 2:25-26 David said it all: I saw God before me for all time. Nothing can shake me; he's right by my side. (26) I'm glad from the inside out, ecstatic; I've pitched my tent in the land of hope.

I make the choice TODAY to, give constant encouragement, lift the spirits, and charge with fresh hope anyone that I come in contact with today! Today, I pitch my tent in the land of hope!


"Lord, I thank you so much for this powerful Word that has spoken into my Spirit and challenged me. Too often I do just the opposite of what I read today. Instead of giving encouragement, I can discourage. Instead of lifting someone's spirits, I can dampen them. And instead of charging someone with fresh hope, I can drain their hope. This is not what I want, nor what you want. So TODAY, my prayer is that you will help me to understand that you are going to give me divine appointments with individuals that need to be encouraged, to have their spirits lifted, and to be infused with fresh hope. I make a commitment right now to walk in the Spirit and allow you to nudge me towards the right words to write or speak. Forgive me Lord for anything that I have done or said to discourage and allow me to be constantly aware, from this point on of how you want to use me even while I am in the midst of pain and suffering. This life is not about me, it is about you. I love you Lord Jesus, and thank you for what you are teaching me daily. In Jesus name! Amen."