Can’t God Just Wrap Us All Up In “Bubble Wrap”?

Scripture:  2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

When was the last time someone prayed a prayer over you? What kind of things do you like to hear prayed for you? Blessing? Prosperity? Good health?

Sometimes I find myself praying for my kids and grandkids and asking God to keep them safe and healthy and happy in the Lord. I definitely want those things for them, but they aren’t the greatest needs in their lives. Some needs can only be met by going through those “hard times.” It’s through struggles in life we learn to TRUST God and develop the unshakable faith that the Bible speaks about.

You Can’t Go Through Life in “Bubble Wrap”!

 

So, instead of praying that God would just wrap us all up in bubble wrap so that we never feel any pain or have any problems, it might help for us to look at the PRAYERS that are prayed in the Bible. When I’ve been asked to pray for certain people and don’t specifically know how to pray for them, I often open my Bible and pray Scripture that pertains to their needs and requests. After all, it’s God’s WILL, His words that I’m praying for and not my own.

 

So as we look together at these 2 verses, 11-12, Paul writes, “With this in mind…”

 

What is Keeping this in “MIND”, mean? (Vv. 1-10)

 

The fact that your faith is growing, your love is increasing, you are hanging in there during the hard times, justice and judgment is coming to those who reject God and abuse and mistreat you, and final and ultimate salvation is coming for those of you who trust in Jesus!

 

“With this in mind,” Paul says, “WE ARE CONSTANTLY PRAYING FOR YOU”

What does Paul pray, and what can we learn from it?

“That God would consider you WORTHY of His calling.” 

What does that mean?  How can we be considered WORTHY of God’s calling?  Is this then like being a paying customer, not just taking up space and using up oxygen in the room?  Does it mean to make yourself useful?

“GOD’S CALLING” –

Here, it’s likely a reference to the ultimate and final salvation of God’s people.

In another of Paul’s letters to the churches (Philippians), he talks about the upward call of God.  To be considered WORTHY of His call and to be with Him forever means they will keep trusting God to the very end. 

His CALLING ISN’T TO JUDGMENT, but to life and joy with Him forever!

There are some requirements needed, according to Paul in his letter:

In the context of both letters to the church in Thessalonia, and in this chapter, ENDURANCE and KEEPING THE FAITH are necessary for one to be considered WORTHY of God’s calling into His awesome presence, especially in the face of persecution.

WORTHY doesn’t mean that we can earn our way into heaven.  Eternal life with God is the FREE GIFT of God.  We can’t earn it or do we deserve it!

That God would fulfill every good purpose (“all the good things”) of yours (by His POWER).

God does have a PURPOSE for our lives!

There may be a number of purposes for your life; God’s, Satan’s, yours, and other people’s.  This is all about bringing your purposes or intentions, your views, into alignment with God’s!  It has to do with moral conduct.

I know, good moral conduct can’t SAVE us and make us right with God, BUT…it’s part of God’s purpose for us!

“For this is the WILL of God, your sanctification (separated and set apart for pure and holy living)” ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:3 AMP.

So the Thessalonian believers had shown perseverance (a never give up mentality) in the face of their persecution for their faith having demonstrated their faith, love and Godly living in the midst of it.  What Paul seems to be praying here is that God would help them followthrough with these things of being faithful to Him to that very day! 

WHAT “DAY”?

2 Thessalonians 2:3  “…for that day will not come except the apostasy comes first”

NOTE: Apostasy comes from the Greek word, Apostasia – The falling away of those who have professed to be Christians has come.

That God would fulfill every faith-prompted act (by His POWER).

“…and [His] every gracious purpose of goodness, and with power may complete in [your] every particular work of faith (a faith which is that leaning of the whole human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness).”  (Amplified Bible)

I really like this phrase.  You’ve no doubt heard of acts of random kindness.  Well, these Christians had begun doing continual acts of faith!

Faith-prompted actions are things we do because of our trust in God. 

We learn to be generous with those in need because God is like that, and we want to be like Him!

Acts of obedience are considered faith-prompted acts.  We obey God because we love, honor, and trust Him in His promises! 

But it wasn’t enough!

These Christ-followers didn’t simply begin these faith acts and then let them taper off.  No.  Paul knew they would need God’s help to keep them obeying Him, in loving others, being generous, and serving those around them.

QUESTION:  HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOUR LOVE AND FAITH HAVE COOLED OFF?

When it becomes more about you and less about those around you.  We need God’s help in carrying out our good intentions and obey and please Him fully.

So Paul’s words here in his letter required them to realize that they aren’t alone!  God is at work in their lives, and when He works in us, it’s powerful!

That the NAME OF JESUS Be Glorified In You – (2 Thessalonians 1:12)

The RESULT of following through with our good intentions to remain FAITHFUL to God–even in the midst of persecution–is that people will see Jesus in us!  Instead of doing good things so we can receive attention and praise from others, we must live so that others will notice Jesus at work in us!

People need to see Jesus being GLORIFIED or spotlighted in your life–in your words, and your actions.

Matthew 5:16 (AMP)

“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.”

That you would be glorified in Christ Jesus.

Finally, Paul shows that Jesus also helps accomplish OUR GLORIFICATION (present/future).  It all begins when we call on the Lord and the Holy Spirit that it all begins to work in our lives.

2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us,

 

Our glorification comes to fruition when Jesus comes back for us, as He promised!

He will give us new bodies, transforming us into His likeness!

 

God has called us to a higher place.  Are you trusting and growing in Him?  Is Jesus being glorified in your intentions and your actions?

PRAY FOR YOUR CHURCH AS PAUL PRAYED FOR THE CHURCHES.

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CREDITS:

Images/Photos:  Google image search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); New Living Testament (NLT); Interlinear Bible.

Dictionary:  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary Of Old And New Testament Words.

The Actions Needed In Keeping Things In Balance

A Study in Philippians 2:12-18

One of the most difficult things I found in life over the years is maintaining to keep ALL things where they are ALL supposed to be at ALL times.

It’s called BALANCE.

Sometimes we feel like the man portrayed in the above image.  He starts at one end, starts them spinning, works his way down to the last one but as soon as he gets there looks back and the first one is failing so he rushes back down the line to restart one and goes through the sequence again and sometimes he doesn’t make it and the plat crashes.

BALANCE is critical in the Christian life (Luke 2:52)

“Jesus grew both in body and in wisdom, gaining favor with God and people”  (GNT).

This verse follows the story of when Jesus was lost or separated from Mary and Joseph for three days.  Can you imagine losing your children in a shopping mall…for three days!

When they finally located him, Jesus was in the Temple sitting among some of the great teachers of the day, asking questions.  And they were asking him questions as well and they were amazed at his understanding, after all, he was only 12 years old at the time.

The Bible is silent for about the next 18 years of Jesus’ life and we don’t know exactly what happened during that time but we do have this one verse as a summary of those years:

  • he grew in wisdom…Intellectually
  • he grew in stature…Physically
  • he grew in favor with God…Spiritually
  • he grew in favor with man…Socially

And if we are going to live as Jesus did, we have to learn to do the same.

Because of they all matter and when our life is in BALANCE we are happier.  When it’s out of balance we’re miserable!

And I find it is one of the most difficult and challenging things in life to maintain.

So the apostle Paul reminds us the areas where we must maintain balance.

There must be a BALANCE between purpose and power (Philippians 2:12-13)

To understand what he is saying needs to first understand what he’s NOT saying.

The phrase “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” is greatly misunderstood.  Paul’s NOT telling us we must do something to earn salvation.  He’s NOT telling us that we have to work to be saved.

So to understand what Paul’s saying here, we must recognize he’s writing to the CHURCH, to believers so his words have nothing to do with how to come to Christ.  These people were in the church; they already knew Christ.

The word for “work out” in the Greek NT is the potential of freedom from strife and vainglory [*See footnote [i] ].  

So here’s a few questions we all must ask ourselves at various places in life:

  • Am I reaching for my full potential as a Christian in life or am I just settling for mediocrity?

What’s my obedience to Christ?

I feel once we acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives that becomes our PURPOSE in life–to OBEY Him in absolutely everything!

Now when Paul speaks of God “working in you” in v. 13, the word there is the English word energizing.

What came to my mind here almost immediately was the Energizing Bunny in the commercials.  He keeps going and going and going!

There’s a positive and a negative side to every battery we use.  Even when it’s in the package we buy it in, it’s still working.  We just can’t see it.

But when they are placed in a device it needs to be hooked up to an electrical circuit and the electrons build up and the result is POWER!  OK, maybe I oversimplified the process but you get the idea.

So there’s POWER stored up whether we turn it on or not.

Look around the room you’re in right now.

POWER is available in every outlet.  But they’re not ALL being used for something.  Some of the outlets are empty.

So it becomes our job to plug into this POWER to allow God to use us.  That’s “Wonder Working Power”!

But too often we just choose to sit and watch everyone else plugin.

Someone has said there are THREE TYPES of people in this world.

  1. Those who made things happen
  2. Those who sit and watch things happen
  3. Those who wonder what’s happening

God wants us to be in the first group.

God is at work in us to do His good purpose.  As He pours into us we do the things that bring Him good pleasure!

Now I believe that Paul wants us to see something here:

  • It’s His pleasure (not ours)
  • It’s His will (not ours)
  • It’s His glory (not ours)

There’s a potential conflict in all this I think.  Most of us prefer to have things go our way and that’s because of our attitude.

So Paul tells us there’s a second area where we need BALANCE.

The must be a BALANCE of Attitude and Action (Verses 14-16).

For BALANCE to happen in our busy lives Paul gives us a negative and a positive response because that’s how we find balance.

On the negative side, Paul says to all of us…You need to watch your ATTITUDE.

Oh, how I need to be reminded of this daily, oh Lord!

There are TWO things Paul mentions that show our bad attitudes:

  1. Usually, one of these we do is when we’re alone grumbling.  

GRUMBLING isn’t usually loud.  It’s a low tone, negative, complaining, whining, and one thing it will do is to steal your JOY!  It just seems to come naturally for some of us.  We try to resist but we just pass it around to others.

GRUMBLING can find something wrong with everything at once and when they find it, that’s what they focus on.

I was pruning my ROSE TREE the other day as I do every year at this time.  As you might imagine, it can be a ‘thorny’ experience because the tree is covered with THORNS.  In fact, all I could see was the THORNS to the point I couldn’t remember how beautiful the tree was when it was in FLOWER.

The reason is perspective.  It’s ATTITUDE!

Paul said that you and I as believers need to prove that we are different by OUR ACTIONS.

He said to prove that you are blameless and innocent; that you are a child of God and in the midst of a dark world with plenty of thorns, you and I are told to bring LIGHT to the situation.

Paul calls us STARS.

There are no small STARS!

The smallest star in our universe is basically the same size as the planet Saturn.

The word here means luminaries (Gk. phosteres).  LUMINARIES are surrounded by darkness and that’s why they stand out.

Jesus told us to let your light shine so that people can see your good works and through that, GLORY will be given to God, the Father.

There’s no need to shout or scream, no need for drama, JUST SHINE!

The NEGATIVE that Paul gives us here–DON’T GRUMBLE.

The POSITIVE–JUST SHINE!

Get our ATTITUDE and ACTIONS in BALANCE.

Next, there must be a BALANCE between being serious and being joyful (verses 17-18).

Philippians 2:17-18 (NIV)

“But even I (Paul) am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith.  I am glad and rejoice with all of you.  So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.”

Paul goes on to describe a THIRD area we need to balance.

I thought this is an amazing word picture here.  Paul says we are “being poured out as a drink offering.”

Unbelievers, pagans had a practice in that day before and after every meal to take 2 cups of wine–they would pour one out on the ground before every meal and then would eat–then they would pour another one out after every meal in honor of the god they worshiped.  The purpose was to gain the favor of the gods.

Paul speaks of the possibility of being poured out as a drink offering.  Now that’s a serious thought.

He’s saying. I may never get out of the situation I’m in alive–remember he’s in prison facing execution at any moment.

But even if I don’t make it out…he says it will all be worth it.

You can think some really serious thoughts if you have ever faced the possibility of your own death–Paul was imagining here that he might be living his final days, and the single most serious thought a person can have and yet he was still able to REJOICE.

He refused to focus on the DARK SIDE.

He refused to let even the possibility of his immediate death steal his JOY.

Then he says to us that you need to REJOICE in the same way.

Every day we need to find something to be happy about; every day find something you can laugh about.  Take a day off, take a long walk, watch a movie, go fishing, do something that takes you away from all the seriousness of life.  Give yourself permission to enjoy the day.

The Flying Wallendas…

The Wallendas are known as perhaps the greatest group of tight wire walkers in history.

Karl Wallenda had the amazing ability to keep his focus, to concentrate and to, of course, keep his balance.  He did it for decades until that night he fell to his death.  He was crossing a tight wire strung between two sets of high-rise apartments in San Juan Puerto Rico.  Later his wife said that for as long as she had known him, he always focussed walking the tightrope but on that night she said for some reason he kept his focus on the possibility of falling.  Even to the point that he supervised the installing of the guide wires which he had never done before.  And on that night he fell to his death.

Often the difference in success and failure is losing your BALANCE and looking in the wrong direction.

Scripture tells us that we are to keep our eyes–our minds, our spirits focussed on JESUS, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

“Work out your own salvation” (Philippians 2:12)

I love the way the Amplified Bible phrases verse 12:

Therefore, my dear ones, as you have always obeyed [my suggestions], so now, not only [with enthusiasm you would show] in my presence but much more because I am absent WORK OUT (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ).

Paul doesn’t leave us there.  He goes on to tell us that we can’t work our salvation by our own efforts–our own strength or we will lose our focus and fall from the tightrope of life.

Verse 13 (AMP):

[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.

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~FOOTNOTES & CREDITS~

Footnote [i] :  Vines Complete Expository Dictionary Of Old and New Testament Words – “work out”; page 684, verb #2.

The Interlinear Bible of the Old Testament and New Testament; Greek and Hebrew.

Bible Translations:  Good News Translation (GNT); New International Version (NIV); Amplified (AMP), or where noted in the text.

Images used:  Google Image Search.

 

 

 

 

 

Going Out On A Limb Might Be Risky!

CHEERS is an American sitcom that ran on television from September 30, 1982, to May 20, 1993.  The show is set in a bar named Cheers in Boston, Massachusetts, where a group of locals meets to drink, relax, and socialize.  The show’s main theme song, written and performed by Gary Portnoy lent its famous refrain “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” is the show’s tagline.

CHEERS, (from left): Woody Harrelson, Kelsey Grammer, Paul Wilson, John Ratzenberger, George Wendt, 1982-93. ©Paramount Television / courtesy Everett Collection

Everyone likes to be known by their name.

Everyone likes to know that someone knows their name and knows their name and knows them.  It shows intimacy; it shows that the person has put in some effort to actually get to know you.  Unfortunately today, we seldom are known by our names, but rather by a number.  You have to know your ID number by heart: When you complete forms you have to enter your ID number.  When you complete your Tax Return you have a number that was given to you, and you only.  We have become numbers to people and it’s impersonal reflecting an unwillingness to know you as a person.  And even if they know your name, they probably are not willing to spend the time to get to know you better.

There is no personal relationship!

I understand that it’s impractical to suggest that everyone we meet can’t have a personal relationship.  It’s just impossible.

But with JESUS, it’s a different story.  For JESUS we are not just another name.  JESUS knows my name and He knows your name and He knows us! He knows our innermost being!!

THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 19:1-10:

WHO WAS ZACCHAEUS?

Zacchaeus is a Jewish name (it means he was a Jew) AND…it means “Pure One.”

Not only was this man a tax collector, he was the Director of the tax collectors…CHIEF among the publicans (KJV).  The Greek term indicates that it seems Zacchaeus was a tax commissioner over the district of Jericho.  He more than likely purchased this position from the Roman authorities.

The local JEWS hated those who worked for Rome because often if not always, overtaxed them.  That’s how they made their money.  They didn’t receive a salary but received either a percentage of the tax they collected or…Rome would give them amount to collect and anything more was theirs.

So we know and see Zacchaeus was a powerful man and he was a very rich man.

The GOSPEL also tells us something else about this man…

This I believe, is extremely important, but often taken as just another piece of information.

Zacchaeus was a short man.

WHAT DID ZACCHAEUS DO WHILE BEING IN A TREE?

He tried to see who Jesus was.  He couldn’t see Him because of the crowd and because of his height.  I think it was even probable that the crowd might have noticed him trying to see Jesus, standing on his tip-toes, but they blocked him on purpose because of who he was.

They hated him!

Because of this, Zacchaeus climbed a nearby TREE to see Jesus better.

He was a JEW and he knew about the prophecies.

  • He probably heard about Jesus and that he was the Prophesied Messiah.
  • He heard that THIS MAN was the savior of the Jewish people
  • He heard that THIS MAN was the savior of the Jewish people.
  • He heard that this man had performed miracles and healed the sick.

He wanted to see who this man was…but nobody wanted to give him the opportunity because of who he was.

So he climbed a tree and Jesus called him and told him that He wanted to go to his house and stay there.

AND HERE COMES THE THING…

Zacchaeus was glad to WELCOME Jesus into his home.

Luke 19:6 – The MESSAGE Bible:

“Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him.”

WHAT DID THE CROWD DO?

The people voiced their disapproval at Jesus eating at the house of a sinner.  Remember, a tax collector was seen as a SINNER; they were not allowed in the synagogue or the Temple.  “Sorry, but you are not welcome at church!”  So the Rabbis and the people rejected these people.

What it meant that Jesus knew Zacchaeus’ name.

JESUS SHOWS THAT HE KNOWS WHERE YOU ARE!

Even if you hide, He knows where you are.  He knew where Zacchaeus was.

Zacchaeus was probably HIDING IN THE TREE when Jesus and the parade of people came by; He knew exactly where Zacchaeus was!  I’m sure that he didn’t want anyone to see him in the TREE because it could have damaged his standing in the community.

So Zacchaeus was hiding in the tree, hoping to get a glimpse of Jesus as He passes by.  He was HAPPY with only a glimpse of Jesus.

But then Jesus does the unexpected!

Jesus stood still under that tree and He called him.  By doing this Jesus recognized that He knew where Zacchaeus was.

As hard as Zacchaeus tried, he wasn’t invisible to Him.  Maybe the CROWD missed him there out on a limb, but Jesus didn’t!

JESUS KNEW WHERE HE WAS.

But not just that, Jesus knew the situation he was in:

JESUS KNEW his past…

JESUS KNEW his childhood…

JESUS KNEW all his secrets…

JESUS KNEW all the pain he had to endure and still endures.

JESUS saw all the tears that flowed when Zacchaeus was growing up regarding the importance of mentioning his size.  It was important to mention it in order to explain why he was in the tree in the first place.

But I wanted to go deeper in thought about Zacchaeus’ character.

I believe that Zacchaeus was probably MOCKED as a child growing up because of his stature.  I’m sure the neighborhood kids during his time were much like children today.  They can be cruel by belittling other children.  In today’s culture, they call it “bullying”.  Because of the “bullying,” not all children grow up forgetting these experiences.  Some children grow up with these experiences and the hurt grows with them, in them.  They never heal from it.  Some of them will even go to the extreme

Some of them will even go to the extreme and dream of one day being in a position of POWER and then they will show them.

I believe that Zacchaeus was one of those children.  He was MOCKED because of being ‘altitude challenged’ and that’s why he eventually became a tax collector.

THE PROBLEM…NOTHING can really fill that void of HUMILIATION, EXCEPT JESUS!!

Zacchaeus tried but never succeeded…and then Jesus called him by name.

“Zacchaeus come down!  I must stay at your house today.”

AND THAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE.

Maybe you find yourself hiding out on a limb of a tree.

Maybe you are struggling with certain things in your life right now.

Maybe you are living a sinful life and cannot comprehend that JESUS would even look upon you, much less talk to you or call out your name. You can’t think that He can forgive you for what you have done.

HERE SOME GOOD NEWS for you!

JESUS is standing right next to you where you are and He is calling your name…

Low Self-Esteem –

Maybe there are things in your life that have broken down your self-worth, your self-esteem.  You might be in an abusive relationship with your husband or wife, physical or psychological.  You might not enjoy life as it is supposed to be enjoyed (John 10:10).  You are being abused and it has hardened your heart towards everyone, including God.

Maybe you blame God for what’s happening in your life…

MAYBE HE HAS ABANDONED YOU…

He hasn’t.

He sees you.  He sees what you are going through.

He sees your pain and He cries with you.  Tears are running down His cheeks.

AND YET, GOD IS CALLING YOUR NAME!

“Get out of that tree.  I want to stay at your house.”

Some people are happy with getting a glimpse of Jesus as He crosses their path.

BUT JESUS WANTS MORE THAN THAT FROM US!

Jesus is calling your name where you are.  So, you will have to come down out of that tree and meet Him on a personal level.

Understand this:  It is not us who called Jesus.  He called us first!

John 15:16 (NIV):

[16] You did not choose me, but I chose you…

Ephesians 1:4 (AMP):

[4] Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world…

He calls us first and on that CROSS He called out your name.

All you have to do is to give heed to His call and come!

ZACCHAEUS was carrying a heavy load.  All it took for him was to listen to Jesus’ call.

“Zacchaeus, come down…I want to stay at your house.”

ISAIAH 49:16 (NIV):

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands”

When Jesus was nailed to the CROSS, your NAME was engraved on His palms.  ENGRAVING is a process that is permanent.  That’s how much He LOVES you.  That’s how much He CARES for you.

HE KNOWS YOUR NAME BECAUSE HE KNOWS WHO YOU ARE!

Jesus Recognizes and Sees the Potential in All of Us–

Zacchaeus means Pure, Righteous.  But the people didn’t see him as “pure” and “righteous”.  However, JESUS saw the REAL Zacchaeus–He knew who he was supposed to be.

WE HAVE PURPOSE!

Jesus doesn’t see who we are, He sees who we are supposed to be.

The world sees us as they want to see us.  They see us because of what we do, what we portray, who we are.  They see only our number or title.

BUT JESUS SEES WHO WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE.

He sees Zacchaeus as pure and righteous.  He sees POTENTIAL.

You see, you and I were created for a PURPOSE: Romans 8:28-20 (NAS):

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”

YOU ARE ALREADY CALLED!  YOU WERE PREDESTINED!!

The question now becomes…Will you listen and take your calling with both hands?  ZACCHAEUS DID!

When Jesus came to his house that day he had a change of heart because for the FIRST TIME in his life somebody saw the REAL him.

For the FIRST TIME, someone ate with him.  Not because of what he had, nor because of his power or money or status.  But because of who he was. At that moment the void in him was filled–he knew that he was worth something more than money.

JESUS SHOWS THAT WE ARE PART OF THE FAMILY (v. 9):

[9] Today salvation has come to this house…

Zacchaeus lineage didn’t bring SALVATION, but his FAITH, evidenced by public confession, sure did!

JESUS sees him as part of the family.

But people will not always look at you that way.  When you repent of your sins and you accept JESUS as your savior, then you reveal your Family Relationship, your true identity.

When Jesus Called Zacchaeus’ Name He Showed That He Knew Where He Was.

He showed that he had PURPOSE and…He showed that he was part of the Family of God!

Somewhere on your journey, you may have lost that sense of family.  But JESUS is calling you right where you are.  HE’S CALLING YOU BY NAME!

JESUS wants you to come down from your tree and to accept Him into your home, into your life.  He wants to dine with you.  He wants to feed you and protect you.  But He can only do this if you LISTEN to His CALL.

AND HE IS CALLING YOUR NAME!

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CREDITS:

Harper’s Bible Dictionary: PUBLICANS, pg. 84.

Sermon Notes from Searching For Answers? A Candid Look At The Life Of A Seeker by Mike Dankson.

PHOTOS:  Google’s Advanced Image Search.

Bible Translations used:  New International Version (NIV), except where noted in the text.

 

Waiting With Expectancy

A Study in the Book of Job 1:13-22; 42:12:

THE “DIFFICULTIES” THAT CAN ARISE IN THE WAITING ROOM–

The WAITING Room
The WAITING Room

A few years back, my wife was given the news after her yearly scheduled mammogram, that there was a lump found in her breast.  Her doctor explained that it had to be removed BUT with the diagnosis…he wouldn’t know for sure if a mastectomy or lumpectomy would be performed until the actual surgery.

It is hard to wait!

The ‘not knowing’ can definitely play tricks on ones’ mind.  You can pretend to be “spiritual” in times like these, but PRETENSE doesn’t last for long.

My wife and I began listing numerous Scriptures on pieces of paper, then placed in our bibles and even on the refrigerator–constantly reminding us of God’s promises of healing.

However, the difficulties of waiting for the results; the process of upcoming Radiation Treatments after surgery tends to erode the concept of being “spiritual” through it all.

Job found himself in God’s waiting room…

The most famous man on earth; extremely wealthy; the best of the best.  But Job lost it all.  Not only did he lose everything, surrounded by carnal, judgemental friends…even his wife urged him to curse God and die!  Job found himself in the waiting room.

Some of you reading this POST can identify with Job.  I certainly did as I read, studied and mediated everyday.  You’re waiting to hear from God…you can’t see what’s going on in your difficulties whether it is personal or someone who is close to you.  But you find yourself in the WAITING ROOM.

FAITH is believing God is at work in a GIVEN situation, even when we can’t see His hand (Psalm 46:1-2):

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,” 

Not understanding all that is going on is frustrating.  I remember sitting in an enormous hospital waiting room the day of my wife’s surgery, looking at an electronic display on the wall with her name listed and the time of the surgery, updates were posted regularly, but the results were absent.  I trusted God’s hand guiding the surgeon’s hands, but it was still frustrating.

God chose not to explain the “whys” while Job was in the waiting room– 

The “waiting” is a place of delay as I found out while I fidgeted in the hospital waiting room.  My two daughters were waiting as well, as my oldest daughter kept patting me on the shoulder to comfort me.  “It will be okay dad.  Mom is in good hands.”

God is never late! 

As I discovered and as Job realized later on, God’s greatest work in and through you may be “soon” and the worry and anxiety that may arise during the anticipation of the results won’t change a thing. “WORRY” is convinced that God doesn’t care and not

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TRUSTING THE ONE WHO IS IN CHARGE–Directions posted while waiting…

Job 13:15,  “Though the Lord slay me, still will I trust Him”

Job 42:2,  “I know that You can do all things…”

Job 41:33,  “Upon earth there is none like Him”

Psalm 46:1,  “God is our refuge…”  Able,” …a very present help in trouble…”Available!” “The Patience of Job” while pacing in the waiting room–

IMPATIENCE…

I’ve always wondered about that old cliché, “The Patience of Job.”  For the more I read and study the book of Job, the more I see how impatient he really was.

—  He couldn’t understand what was going on.

—  He didn’t like how his life was going.

Aren’t our lives at times so very similar to Job’s?

One day we are secure in a profession–friends and family surround us–a “roof over our heads”–“good health”–and then all of a sudden… everything is snatched like a rug under our feet.  And yet Job still had the sense to WORSHIP God in the midst of the pain and agony.

Staying Close in waiting… Job 42:5,  “I had heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my [spiritual] eye sees You.”

Don’t desert the WAITING ROOM. That is where you are the most likely to hear from God.  [Illus. Elijah at Cherith].

PRAY… In the midst of our long-suffering, we are misguided in our thinking by the enemy…“God isn’t going to act here”, and we stop PRAYING for answers  (Job 42:1-5 a).

God doesn’t do His deepest work in the shallowest parts of our lives. Get alone with God in a time of reflection, evaluation, correction, and dedication.  Remove yourself from all the distractions.

All the while my wife was going through surgery two floors above the waiting room, I forced myself to walk outside for a few minutes to refocus on Dianne and not on myself by having a conversation with Abba Father.  Afterwards, I returned to the waiting room refreshed and with a new direction of anticipation.

Be still…and wait!

This is really hard.  All the WAITING…the “where, when, and why’s”…

WHERE ARE THE RESULTS OF THE TESTS?  WHEN CAN I SEE MY WIFE IN RECOVERY?  WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO OUR FAMILY?

Psalm 46:10,  “Be still and know that I am God.”  Literally, “Let your hands hang down.”  We want to always do something;while God may need to do something in you before He does something special for you or through you.

ANTICIPATE GOD’S RESPONSE…

“Anticipate” means to expect, hope, bargain for, foresee (EXPECTATION, FORESIGHT); predict, augur...[i]

When waiting and praying, do you EXPECT…FORESEE…even EXPECT a response from God?

Job 42:10.  “And the Lord turned the captivity of Job…”

Psalm 46:10,  “I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted (lifted up!) in the earth.”

God never left Job alone in the waiting room, nor will He ever leave you alone in the “waiting”.

DISCOVERIES FOUND IN “THE WAITING”: A New Perspective…

“And it was so that after the Lord had spoken these words to Job…”  (Job 42:7)  [NOTE:  Romans 5:3-5; 8:18].

God gave Job a new perspective, one he would never have had if he had abandoned the waiting room.

Sometimes, when we find ourselves lying our backs, we are forced to look up and have a dialogue with Jesus:  “Lord, I feel so helpless in this moment. I need your help and comfort as I lay here in bed.”

A New Provision found in waiting… Job 42:10,  “And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before…”

In GOD’S WAITING ROOM, the Apostle Paul found…

JOY…  “In every prayer of mine I always make my entreaty and petition for you all with JOY (delight)”  (Phil. 1:4).

PURPOSE…  “I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward”  (Phil. 3:14 AMP).

PEACE…  “Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me…and the God of peace (of untroubled, undisturbed well-being) will be with you”  (Phil. 4:9).

POWER…  “I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]”  (Phil. 4:13 AMP).

That particular verse in Philippians (Phil. 4:13), [ I wrote it down on the top of my special list of Bible verses claimed], gave me special encouragement while my wife went through her surgery and through the six weeks of radiation.  She told me afterwards, this same verse gave her peace and expectancy as she was prepared for the operation.

Dianne and I were “empowered” by Christ towards the outcome, while at the same time, I waited with expectancy.  God was about to do a mighty work!

And PLENTY…  “And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus”  (Phil. 4:19).

As a WAITING HUSBAND on that one day, I spent many hours in the waiting room of the hospital; not knowing all that was going on during Dianne’s surgery; not understanding it all, not being able to control the situation as I normally try to do in everyday life while pacing the floor… until it seemed I had worn the color off the tiled floors…trying to conceal my worry and anxiety from our adult children.

I trusted in the doctor’s hands, stayed close to the nurses station for expected good news, prayed, and waited… anticipating the results, knowing God had this.

When the doctor met with us all in a side room while my wife was in recovery, the good news came as expected.  The cancer had been totally removed–and a lumpectomy had been performed in lieu of a mastectomy.  The surgery had gone even better than what was expected by the physicians.  But the JOY I had received eclipsed all the difficulties of the WAITING!

Finding yourself in God’s Waiting Room…

TRUST HIM, STAY CLOSE, BE STILL… and with ANTICIPATION, with EXPECTANCY…and get ready for some wonderful DISCOVERIES!

 

Footnote:  [1] The New Roget’s Thesaurus In Dictionary Form

Researched Source: Commentary– http://www.jackiekay.org.  *An outline published November 1997 “In God’s Waiting Room”.

Scripture: Amplified Bible; NIV Bible.

 

Our Destiny Won’t and Can’t Be Overlooked!

Queen Esther
Queen Esther

THE BOOK OF ESTHER:

“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance shall arise for the Jews from else-where, but you and your father’s house will perish.

AND WHO KNOWS but that YOU have come to the kingdom for such a time as this and for this very occasion?”  (Esther 4:14).

Do I really have SPECIFIC PURPOSE in Life?

In 1963, I was single and working a grave yard shift at a local grocery store chain in Southern California.  I was a part-time student at a local Community College along with some morning classes during the week.  So, on specific days, I would get off work at 7:30 AM; drive to school and attend a 9 AM class, then come home and sleep until 4:30 PM and do it again starting!   at midnight!  I’m exhausted from just recounting the story.  And to make thing worse– at the ripe old age of 21 at the time, my social life was all but non-existent.

One day, pulling my car up in front of the house and sitting there for sometime, I got out of the car and proceeded to kicked the rear tire, with a  loud proclamation to the neighborhood,  What am I doing all of this for?  There must be a better purpose in life other than work, school, money, girls etc.  Well, maybe not girls!  And by the way, in case you might be wondering, I wasn’t a Christian at this time in my life, nor have any relationship with the Lord.  Oh I knew there was a GOD and I knew what Christmas and Easter were all about…but NO RELATIONSHIP. Not until I was married, had three children and reached the ripe old age of 30 did a new relationship begin!  That’s another whole story.

GOD HAS A PLAN:

Jeremiah 1:5  (KJV):

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Psalm 139:13  (NIV):

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

—  Moses was born to lead the children of Israel of Bondage.

—  Elijah was born to be a prophet.

—  Noah was born to build the ark.

—  John the Baptist was born as forerunner of Christ Jesus to baptize in the wilderness. 

—  Paul was born to preach and write most of the New Testament.

Until we discover our PURPOSE, our EXISTENCE, we have no meaning…because PURPOSE becomes the source of FULFILLMENT.  And, success is NOT PURPOSE…because SUCCESS, without PURPOSE, is LIFE without meaning and no, that statement isn’t out of Rick Warren’s book, A Purpose Driven Life [sorry, I’ve never read it!].

DURING THE TIME GOD MADE ESTHER QUEEN…

Haman wanted to kill ALL the Jews and Esther being a Jew, was told by her Uncle Mordecai,  she had the POWER to protect her people.  She was given this position as queen by God for such a time as this…

Although there isn’t an explicit reference to God in the Hebrew text, God’s providence is clearly over His covenant people throughout the reading of THE BOOK OF ESTHER.

Seeking a Purpose–

 Many people today turn to drugs, alcohol, sex, career, seeking a PURPOSE.  Putting a 250-channel remote control in our hands…we’re still restless because the things of life don’t really satisfy.  Maybe for an instance, but afterword, we want more!

We have been born to have a RELATIONSHIP with God and when this happens, God’s purpose becomes our purpose…

JESUS CAME WITH PURPOSE AND DESTINY:

And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem. ~ Luke 9:51 (KJV).

Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me, yet not My will, but (always) Yours, be done. ~ Luke 22:42 (AMP).

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. ~ Romans 8:28 (NASB).

For God saved us and called us to live a holy life.  He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was His plan from before the beginning. ~ 2 Timothy 1:9 (NLT).

HOW GREAT is the love the father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. ~ 1 John 3:1 (NIV).

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be had not yet been made known.  But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. ~ 1 John 3:2 (NIV).

OUR DESTINY?  WE HAVE BEEN BORN–ANOINTED–SET-APART TO INFLUENCE OTHERS!

The Christian walk in life is a FAITH WALK.  God doesn’t always reveal His perfect will and allow us to see our DESTINY He has set in place for our lives.  But that is no excuse to bury your head in the sand and wait for God to call you home.

He asks us to TRUST Him and take a leap of faith, allowing Him to guide our every step along the way until we come to the end.  Often, it is not until we have reached a milestone or accomplish a major goal that we can look back and see that God has been leading us all along.

With that all said, you might be questioning God right where you are at this moment in time: Why am I here?  Can’t I accomplish great things for your Kingdom at some other place?

Esther Felt the Pain!

Esther couldn’t understand why…why God would allow her to be forced to marry a pagan King; then taken from her family, to live in a palace, where she felt more like a prisoner than a Queen.

According to the Persian Law, Esther could not even go to her husband the King, without his prior approval.  If Esther were to attempt to walk in the presence of the King, without permission, she would be instantly killed if he didn’t want to see her.

Esther’s Destiny Could Not Be Overlooked!

AND THE RESULTS?

Esther’s people shared in the Queen’s Destiny–God’s Plan:

“The Jews had light [a dawn of new hope] and gladness and joy and honor.    And in every province and in every city, wherever the king’s command and his decree came, the Jews had gladness and joy, a feast and a holiday.  And many from among the peoples of the land [submitted themselves to Jewish rite and] became Jews, for the fear of the Jews had fallen upon them”  (Esther 8:16-17 AMP).

YOU’RE NEVER TOO OLD OR YOUNG TO DO WHAT GOD HAS CALLED YOU TO DO:

Moses was 40 years old when he began tending sheep in Median and did the same mundane chores for 40 years.  When Moses was 80 years old God called him for His purpose.

When is became a born-again Christian in 1972, I was told by a wise old pastor:  Mel, God has a special calling just for you in life.  My thought process at the time?  Okay pastor, what “calling” is that?  It took over 20 years to discover it and another 20 to follow through with it.  What was it? TEACHING!

Ways to Determine Your Purpose in Life–

When I was investigating Esther’s Destiny; her calling…I uncovered some informative ways to determine God’s calling in your life by John Piper:  10 Ways to Determine God’s Calling in Your Life ~ April 25, 2005.

Although the ten questions were directed to people who desired committing their lives to the Mission Field, I thought Mr. Piper wouldn’t mind if I shared with you a few ways of not overlooking your destiny–your God blessed purpose here on earth.

Our calling can be deep-seated and lasting in our spirit (our hearts).  After all, it is the work of God [not your work] that brings your heart to a point of conviction.  All things considered–including Scripture–this pathway is the path to obedience.

[Esther’s pathway was chosen by God but it was her chosen obedience  that couldn’t be overlooked].

 Conviction is not infallible–

Although conviction isn’t perfect, but when it is of God, it certainly brings peace to your soul.

How does God waken such a calling in our lives?

John Piper suggest 10 Ways in grasping God’s plan for your life and only one of them is infallible–The Bible.  [I’ll present only 2-ways for reference.]  All others are relative and are not absolute but still important for determination.

Also, various combinations he lists are fuel God uses to drive the engine for His calling in your life.

#1. Above all, know your Bible and saturate your mind with it:

God’s Word, His will for your life shapes our minds:  Psalm 1:1-3.

It makes us burn for Christ:  Luke 24:32.

#2.  Know your gifts and know yourself:

Every Christian has spiritual gifts (1 Peter 4:10-11 AMP):

“As each of you has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment), employ it for one another as [befits] good trustees of god’s many-sided grace [faithful stewards of the extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favor].”

“Whoever speaks, [let him do it as one who utters] oracles of God; whoever renders service, [let him do it] as with the strength which God furnishes abundantly, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ (the Messiah).  To Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen.”

Knowing your special gifts shapes your convictions about your calling and knowing yourself (as Paul illustrates in Romans 7:15-24), deepens your sense of fitness in various ministries.  Remember, this can be over-ridden by other facts that come into play.

This is but two means given by John Piper, to get you thinking.  If you want the other 8, you will have to go to John Piper’s book.

ARE YOU LISTENING FOR GOD’S CALL IN YOUR LIFE…DISCERNING YOUR DESTINY?

A blogging friend and published author, Jeannie Pallett, said recently in a message,  “I won’t be blogging this week.  I think my life [‘my destiny’]    is about to change…a sensing God wants me to open our home for my unsaved niece to live here for awhile” [the words in brackets are mine].

God’s Main Call First–

Careful Listening
Careful Listening

First, is to a restored relationship then a close fellowship.  Have you ever tried to have a verbal conversation with someone and they did all the talking?  You couldn’t even get a word in edge-ways ; an answer, if it really was a question.  How do you feel?  How does God feel when you do all the talking–asking all the time, but never listening for His answers.  That is not relationship or fellowship.  That’s spiritual deafness!

Eternal life that comes with being a Christian is not just accepting JESUS as your Lord & Savior, then waiting around to go to heaven and live for ever.  It’s about relationship with God–getting to know Him, serving Him and obeying Him because you love Him:

John 17:3–  Now this is eternal life that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

John 15:15–  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

John 15:14–  You are my friends if you do what I command.” 

“God’s call is for you to be His loyal friend, for whatever purpose He has for your life” ~ Oswald chambers “My Utmost For His Highest”.

The apostle Paul tells the church located in Corinth:

“God is faithful (reliable, trustworthy, and therefore ever true to His promise, and He can be depended on); by Him you were called into companionship and participation with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord”  (1 Corinthians 1:9 AMP).

GOD’S SPECIFIC CALLING FOR YOUR LIFE:

What is God’s call in your life?

That’s the question many Christians wonder about and seek an answer to.  Is it full time ministry, or to be a missionary, or to be a lay person, or…?  You need to prayerfully seek God and ask Him to help you discern His special plan and calling designed especially for your life.  Ask Him to give you the faith and courage to follow–obey–whenever He leads you.  You will be the happiest and full of joy when you are in the middle of God’s will and plan.