The JOY of Blessing AND the Necessity of Diligence

I have been a home gardener since I was a child–vegetables, fruit trees, flowers…you name it, I’ve tried growing it!

But I’m not a child any longer, so a few years ago, I decided to transform my small backyard lawn into a raised bed, natural food garden endeavor.

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Natural Food —

Although the size of the vegetable garden is somewhat small, I still have to make time and effort to either grow something or… go to the store and buy the food, then prepare to cook it–to get gas, I must allocate time to make the effort to go to the station to fill of the car–to get clean, I must set aside the time and make the effort to have a shower each and every morning and my wife is thankful on all counts.

But somehow, we want to get God and His BLESSINGS on the fly without any daily effort or commitment of time on our part.  And as a result, we get nothing and we find our spiritual condition begins to start wilting, goes limp and deteriorates, as lack of attention does to the produce in the garden–which it cannot help but do.

We will experience a loss of PEACE, a loss of JOY, and a loss of TRUST in God, and instead, we find increasing doubt, irritability, confusion, anger, criticism of others, worries.

We find ourselves making poor decisions and PRIDE begins to take over as weeds in a garden, which means a fall is on its way.

Also, we become totally unable to bear any spiritual fruit of living words into other people’s lives.

When all this happens, we are prone to complain a lot about where we find ourselves–and indirectly, we are complaining against God, which is music to the ears of our enemy.

All this because we wouldn’t invest adequate time and spiritual effort [work] to seek and find God, to be fed by Him with our essential, daily, spiritual food.

I am referring to the study and reflection on the Word of God; not casually reading a chapter a day in your bible–and that’s not wrong–but that’s not a full meal.  It’s a ‘spiritual snack.’  And, a snack now and then is okay, but a steady diet of “snacks” won’t make you physically fit.  See how long your physical body can be sustained on nothing but snacks each and every day!

The Word of God is the only spiritual nourishment that will sustain and grow our reborn spirits–the real us that will survive our natural bodies.

BLOG’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE – 2 Thessalonians 3:10 (naturally or spiritually).

2-thessalonians-3-10

The JOY of the Blessing and the necessity of DILIGENCE when it comes to connecting with God.

THE NECESSITY OF DILIGENCE–

According to the Oxford Universal Dictionary, DILIGENCE is…

“Careful attention, unremitting application, persistent endeavor.”  A “diligent person” ids one who is “industrious, conscientious. thorough; not idle, not negligent, not lazy.”

God takes DILIGENCE seriously! 

I love the writer of Hebrews words of explanation of due diligence–Hebrews 11:6:

[6]  “And without faith it is impossible to please Good, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (NIV)

Even more than our physical endeavors, God EXPECTS us to be spiritually diligent–spiritually fed!

That old belief that God will accept you “as you are” is simply not true.  

God will not accept just anybody into His family–but only those who will respond to His calling and choose to diligently follow Him.

Psalm 77:6:  “I call to remembrance my song in the night; with my heart I meditate and my spirit searches diligently:”

Proverbs 12:27:  “…the diligent man gets precious possessions.” 

To constantly find God requires constantly searching for Him with my heart and not quitting.

Jeremiah 29:13:  “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart (NIV).

1 Chronicles 28:9:  “…If you seek Him [inquiring for and of Him and requiring Him as your first and vital necessity] you will find Him…”  (AMP)

Acts 17:27:  “…so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him.  He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us.  He’s not remote; he’s near”  (MSG).

The earlier I SEEK Him and find Him, the sooner I will start my day with the JOY of Blessing of trust.

Psalm 63:1:  “O GOD, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirst for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water (NIV).

Isaiah 26:9:  “My soul yearns for You [O Lord] in the night, yes, my spirit within me seeks you earnestly…”

Hebrews 4:11:  “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest…”  (KJV).

Hebrews 4:11 (AMP):  “Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest…”  

HOW DO I DO THAT?

Proverbs 4:20-22:  

[20] “My son, attend to my words; consent and submit to my sayings.  [21] Let them not depart from your sight; keep them in the center of your heart.

Consider all of these ACTION WORDS (attend, consent, submit…) God uses that all imply some effort on my part.

[22]  For they are life to those who find them, healing and health to all their flesh.

If I’m hungry for God, I’ll always find Him and He will always feed me with Himself.

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Jeremiah 15:16:  “Your words were found, and I ate them; and Your words were to me a joy and the rejoicing of my heart…”  

Isaiah 1:19:  “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.”

Psalm 34:4:  “I sought (inquired of) the Lord and required Him [of necessity and on the authority of His Word], and He heard me…”

10cd8e4f7c408c0b6556656dcd665155Matthew 5:6:  “BLESSED are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”  (NIV).

Proverbs 27:7:  “He who is satiated [with sensual pleasures] loathes and treads underfoot a honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.”

Psalm 37:3:  “Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.”

Job 23:12:  “I have not gone back from the commandment of His lips; I have esteemed and treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.”

THE HOLY SPIRIT, when guiding my spirit, always leads me to today’s necessary spiritual food.

There’s a big “IF” here.

IF… I give God adequate, quality time with due diligence in SEEKING Him with ALL my heart, by getting quiet in my thought life, by ceasing from all other activities, and by BELIEVING that, just as He promises, HEAR HIS VOICE–then I can expect to find Him and be fed.

John 16:13:  “But when He, the Spirit of Truth *the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth)…”

Matthew 6:11:  “Give us this day our daily bread…”

Father, by your Spirit, breathe life into your words–so giving us our daily spiritual bread.

John 16:15 –  Jesus–who is the Word of God, speaking about the Holy Spirit, says…  

“He [the Spirit] will take the things that are Mine and will reveal (declare, disclose, transmit) it to you.”

I would love to hear from you in regards to your DILIGENCE to be fed, or the lack thereof,  for the encouragement to others who read this blog.  Leave your comments in the REPLY section.

 


CREDITS –

Photos:  Backyard Vegetable Garden by Mel Thompson; Google Image Search.

Commentary:  Final Expectations Regarding Idleness in the Church (2 Thes. 3:6-18), by J. Hampton Keathley, III @ Bible.org

*The NIV Complete Concordance.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.

 

 

 

 

Where is God when things go wrong?

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TEXT for this Blog: Habakkuk 2:1-20

This weeks blog-post all began with a question my nephew-in-law proposed.  He was commenting on and trying to get a discussion started on Facebook.  Now there’s a challenge.

The QUESTION:  “If God is real, why would he create us to watch us destroy ourselves and the world?”

It was interesting to read some of the comments and answers to his question–which in turn, prompted me to search out answers found in God’s Word: Where IS God when things seem to be deteriorating all around us?

When you ask a question, what do you want?  

I know what I want–I want an answer!  Not only that, I am fussy.  I would like the right answer as well!!

In the Book of Habakkuk, we notice right away, there is a DIALOGUE going on between the prophet and God.  In today’s religious circles, we might call it, CONVERSATIONAL PRAYER (I do, anyhow).

We can plainly see that Habakkuk is looking for ANSWERS from God.  As he watches the faithlessness of his nation’s people, he wonders why God doesn’t change it.

So, HABAKKUK complains about God’s seeming lack of concern.

But…

IN CONTEXT– When the prophet COMPLAINS of God’s INACTIVITY, God gives him an ANSWER that distresses him even more.

JUDGMENT!!!

God is going to send the wicked nation of Babylon as an instrument of judgment.  Now that is definitely NOT the answer Habakkuk was looking for.

In fact, he finds it hard to believe that God would use an even more sinful and evil people to establish His righteousness (Do you know any people, leaders who you think could be evil?).

For Habakkuk, this seems inconsistent.  It doesn’t make sense.  But he doesn’t give up on God.

Learning to Wait!

WATCHTOWER
WATCHTOWER

(verse 1):  “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the rampart; I will look to see what He will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.” [N.I.V. Bible]

GROWING CONFIDENCE –

Proverbs 3:5  Amplified Bible:  

“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.

“WATCH” = a military term.

HABAKKUK CONSIDERS HIMSELF A MILITARY MAN THAT LOOKS FAR OFF –

The Need for a Better Perspective–

At this point, Habakkuk is reserving any more comment until he understands.  For as confusing as he thought God’s INACTIVITY was, His ACTIVITY is even more confusing.

So Habakkuk comes to the conclusion that not ALL WORKINGS of God can be understood by our own reasoning.  He would agree with Solomon when he wrote:

“TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL YOUR HEART

AND LEAN NOT ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING.”

HABAKKUK MOVES TO THE HIGH TOWER –

What a great vantage point in getting yourself above and away from the world’s distractions.  Habakkuk is no longer doing all the talking–he’s listening!  He is no longer arguing–“Why not?”–“What for?”–he is submitting.

So…

God Responds to Habakkuk’s Waiting  (verses 2-3)…

“And the LORD answered me and said, Write the vision and engrave it so plainly upon tablets that everyone who passes may [be able to] read [it easily and quickly] as he hastens by.  For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end [fulfillment]; it will not deceive or disappoint.  Though it tarry, wait [earnestly] for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behindhand on its appointed day.”

God wants His ANSWER to be permanently recorded because… of future generations who are going to read it (or, should read it).

God says, ‘Mark my words!  Mark it down!’

I love God’s last statement.  Oh, how impatient we get for answers to our prayers.  God literally says, “Though it delay…it will not delay.”

Simply put; Though the timing is not ours…it is not a delay in God’s timing.  He is in control!!!  There are not random circumstances.

Our CONFIDENCE on Display –

How can we become CONFIDENT in our asking?

GOD IS MERCIFUL:

God gives us a contrast here in Scripture:  BABYLON thinks that they are powerful, but in reality, foolish.

God wants us living by FAITH–

It is not what I do that puts me in right standing with God; I will never be good enough.  But instead, I need to LIVE A LIFE of Dependence on God.

– WE MAKE IT BY FAITH.

– WE MAKE IT LIVING IN ASSURANCE of God’s Grace.

When we are not living by FAITH, God, in His MERCY will go to extraordinary means to get us there!  I don’t know about you, but that sure gives me CONFIDENCE!!

God is always working for our best.  The truth is, however, when God works for our best interest, often we go through a very painful process of acknowledging the TRUTH.

AN “ALLIGATOR STORY” –

It takes DISCIPLINE going through the process…

Several years ago on a hot summer day in south Florida, a little boy decided to go for a 1437516296_0ccededa8aswim in an old swimming hole behind his house.

Being in a hurry to dive into the cool water, he ran out the back door, leaving behind his shoes, socks, and shirt on the floor.

He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an ALLIGATOR was swimming toward the shore.

His mother–in the house was looking out the window–saw the scene unfolding before her eyes.  In utter fear, she ran toward the water yelling to her son as loudly as she could.

Hearing her voice, the little boy became alarmed, making a U-turn to swim to his mother.

IT WAS TOO LATE!

Just as he reached her, the ALLIGATOR reached him.

From the dock, the mother grabbed her little boy by his arms, just as the ALLIGATOR snatched his legs.  The incredible tug-of-war began.

The ALLIGATOR was much stronger but the mother was much to passionate to let go.

A farmer happened to drive by and heard her screams.  He raced from his truck, took aim, and shot the ALLIGATOR dead!

Remarkably, after weeks in the hospital care, the boy survived.  His legs were extremely scarred and on his arms, were deep scratches from his mother’s fingernails that .dug into his flesh in her effort to hang on to the son she loved.

A newspaper reporter interviewed the boy after the trauma and asked if he would show him his scars.  The boy lifted his pant legs.  And then, with obvious pride, said to the reporter,  “But look at my arms.  I have great scars on my arms, too.  I have them because my Mom wouldn’t let go!”

We Have Scars, Too!

Some of those scars are from our own foolishness because they are unsightly, causing deep regret.

But some wounds are because of God, in His Mercy, has refused to let go!  He will go through extraordinary means to get us where we need to be, even if it’s PAINFUL.

WE CAN BE CONFIDENT BECAUSE GOD IS MORAL (verses 5-19) –

(verse 14):  “But [the time is coming when] the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”

God desires to REVEAL Himself…

As we know Him better, we discover He is holy!

When we know God, we understand HIS STANDARD.  He is a holy God and rightly condemns SIN.

Throughout this section of Chapter 2, we find the description of SIN as practiced and lived by the nation of BABYLON.

God is telling HABAKKUK that He knows they’re bad–they are evil.  And yet, God’s own people were headed down the same PATH.

God hast to stop them, discipline them. get them back where they belong…LIVING BY FAITH!  They needed to be a people who live by faith!!  (2 Cor. 5:7; Eph. 2:8; Heb. 11:6).

So…

GOD REVEALS THE FAITHLESS PATHS THAT THE COUNTRY IS ON:

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HEADING DOWN THE WRONG PATH IN OUR LIVES:

THE PATH of GREED (5-8):

Babylon is never satisfied.  It is always gathering and collecting for itself; It makes itself rich carrying out material pursuits in a way that shuts out all other concerns.

THE PATH OF INJUSTICE (9-11):

I found it interesting in my studying, the verses that the road from righteousness changed direction to a path of wickedness.  A Nation full of people who are outraged by the SIN around them.  And yet, they’re still characterized by INJUSTICE because they tolerate the SIN that is within them.  They not only sin against others, but also sin against themselves.

This is the type of INJUSTICE that is spoken of here:

It’s the breaking of one’s own MORAL CODE.

A PATH OF SENSUALITY (15):

HEARTS that are adrift in sexual permissiveness–

There exist a carelessness in the society during Habakkuk time; of sexual activity, instead of seeing it in its proper sacred place (Sound familiar?).

Finally, the PATH is one of…

DOWN THE ROAD OF IDOLATRY (18-19):

SIN doesn’t go unpunished (verse 16)–

Babylon was serving the creature rather the Creator.

They sought their own substitute which demonstrated their own ignorance of REALITY–

– It was a god of their own making…

– It was a god in their own image…

Yes, there were deliberate failures made when it came down to God’s standards, but they too would learn.  SIN doesn’t go unpunished.

And this was the message that God has for Babylon (16):

“You will be filled with shame and contempt instead of glory…”

Their own SIN will find them out!  God is going to have the last Word!!

GOING DOWN THE RIGHT PATH gives the confidence we need:

WE CAN FIND CONFIDENCE IN GOD BECAUSE HE IS MAJESTIC (20)

Note the end of God’s  MESSAGE to HABAKKUK in verse 20:

“But the LORD is in His holy temple; let all the earth hush and keep silence before Him.”

GOD is very present!!!

– IN HIM WE LIVE & MOVE AND HAVE OUR BEING!

We may try to shut Him out, ignoring His purposes over our own.  THE FACT remains–GOD IS THE WITH-US GOD!

WORSHIP IS FOR GOD ALONE –

We continue to be creative in searching for the answers we seem so desperately need in our daily lives.

Perhaps, we are more spiritual in following certain preachers religiously.

Perhaps it is PLEASURE that we really worship or the accumulation of things, with the thinking that, “He who dies with the most toys…wins.”

If you wonder in your WORSHIP, and realize that God is in His holy temple–

CONFIDENCE BUILDERS FOUND IN WORSHIP:

The Lord our Creator, our Redeemer, and the self-existing, everlasting, un-caused cause lives…

No one makes Him…

He’s not a conceived and developed concept…

He is not controllable or manipulated…

In Majesty, He reigns.

WORSHIP IS FOR GOD ALONE, EVEN WHEN WE DON’T UNDERSTAND HIM.  

SO…

Where is God when things seem to be going wrong?  When it’s not going the way we expected…

It is time to trust; time to live by FAITH…  

For…this is how the JUST live out their lives, they LIVE BY FAITH and not by sight!

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CREDITS:

Photo Credits by,  Photo Pin & Google Search – Images; Melinda Todd (Isaiah 45:2).

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible, except where noted.

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“I’m MAD as Hell, and I’m Not Going to Take this anymore!”

Mad_as_HellThe infamous line in the movie Network is often used to describe our hectic lives.

How many of us have ever felt the pressures of life?  Let’s not fool ourselves.  We live in a fallen world surrounded by everyday troubles and stresses. 

*  Financial

*  Family

*  Ministry

*  A nation in conflict

“I’m at my wit’s end over all this!”

THE APOSTLE PAUL Addresses the Issue – 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 NIV:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us.  [8] We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  [9] persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  [10] We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  [11] For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.  [12] So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”

Looking at this Scripture, we can discover a few applications from it–

#1.  You and I are going to have problems.

Here we have Paul, who wrote the majority of the New Testament and having and facing problems in his life.

—  He was shipwrecked 3 times…

—  Beaten…

—  Put in prison multiple times…

  He had many ministry issues…

—  He had a “thorn in the flesh…

It doesn’t matter who you are, how spiritually mature or immature, you are going to experience problems and pressures in your life.  Just because you come to JESUS, it doesn’t mean that the world and your enemy are going to cut you any slack.  In fact, it will probably intensify!  And, you might even say to yourself at times…“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” 

Overcoming the Types of Problems and Stresses in Life–Soda Pop Cans and “Jars of Clay”

Paul not only describes the types of problems and stresses we all face, but how to overcome them at the same time.

A.  I’m PRESSED but not CRUSHED!

Paul is telling us we are “hard pressed on every side.”  This is the PRESSURE OF THE WORLD.  But, I am NOT crushed – Why?

An Illustration:

Unopened Can
Unopened Can

TWO ALUMINUM POP CANS – One can is unopened and full of soda pop.  The other can is opened and empty.

If I take the FIRST CAN and squeeze with all my might, I can’t crush it.  Now, I know that with enough pressure the can will rupture, so bear with me in this.

CRUSHED CAN
CRUSHED CAN

If I take the EMPTY CAN and apply only a small amount of pressure, it will collapse.  I wasn’t able to crush the first can because it isn’t open to the world.  SECONDLY, there is something inside.

“He Who lives in you is greater (mightier) than he who is in the world”  (1 John 4:4).

ONE CAN collapsed easily–

1.)  Was open to the world.

2.)  There was nothing on the inside.

How then can we be PRESSED but not CRUSHED?

We make a decision not to open up to the world; to allow Christ Jesus to be our strength.

B.  I’M CONFUSED, BUT NOT FREAKING OUT!  (verse 8)

The word “PERPLEXED” in the Greek language literally translates  “to have no way out; to be at a mental loss.”

Have you ever been confused?  Not knowing where to turn or what to do?  Yes, we have all dealt with circumstances in life where we thought there was no way out.

So how is it that we can be “at a mental loss” and not FREAK OUT saying, “I’m not going to take this anymore!”?

Same reason as before:  IT IS CHRIST WITHIN ME!

Jesus is ALL-KNOWING!

He is OMNISCIENT!

He knows what tomorrow holds!

He is in control.

The reason I’m not freaking out is because I know God is going to work it all out for my good.

“And we know that God causes EVERYTHING to work together for the good of those who LOVE GOD and are called according to His purpose of them”  (Romans 8:28 NLT–capitalized for emphasis).

God might be working you right now, but He’s working you for your own good.  TRUST in His promises.

C.  I’m Bloody, Not Broken.

If you get smacked in the nose, it hurts!  Your eyes well up with TEARS dealing with real pain.

I remember playing baseball in High School one year, and while in the batter’s box waiting for the pitch, I was struck between the eyes with a fastball.  It broke the safety-glasses I was wearing in half.  No blood, but suffered two black eyes and plenty of tears from the pain.

In LIFE, we all deal with hurts, wounds and yes, even black eyes.  It may come from our PAST or PRESENT situations.

How then, can we deal with our HURTS and still PRESS forward?

Allow Christ to manifest Himself in your life through the Word of God.

Build up RELATIONSHIPS of other brothers and sisters in Christ which helps us through our tough times.  Sometimes we just need someone with skin on them to comfort us in a time of need (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

D.  I’m Knocked Down, Not Knocked Out!

Yes, sometimes we do get knocked down; hit in the gut by betrayal, death of a loved one, loss of finances…the wind is knock completely out of us as we lie gasping for breath and afraid to get back up on our feet.

FEAR of being hit again can keep you down.

DOUBT can keep you down.

The only person keeping you on the mat…IS YOU!

Why cant the DEVIL keep me down?  Because Christ is in me.  The devil and every demon in hell couldn’t keep Him down!

“Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over ALL the power that the enemy [possesses]; and NOTHING shall in any way harm you”  (Luke 10:19 AMP).

HOW CAN I ‘KEEP ON, KEEPING ON’, WITHOUT GETTING MAD AT MY REOCCURRING CIRCUMSTANCES?

It’s coming to the REALIZATION…it’s not about you.

It’s a CHRIST thing.

To be a Christian you need to let JESUS, not you, control your life.

You have to SUBMIT to Him fully–not half way; not kinda, sorta, BUT fully!   This allows Him to flow through you.  Remember, you’re going to have problems.  There’s no escaping it.

I have been BLESSED to be a part of 5 Billy Graham Crusades over my Christian life.  I will always remember George Beverly Shea; Canadian born, American gospel singer and hymn composer, who died this past April 2013 at the age of 104.  One song in particular he composed and used to sing at the Crusades fits in nicely I think with 2 Corinthians 4:7-12:  I’d Rather Have Jesus than…

He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;

He’s sweeter than honey from out of the comb;

He’s all that my hungering spirit needs;

I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead.

WITHOUT HIM, I CAN BE…

–  Crushed

–  Freak Out

–  Be broken

–  Be knocked out

JESUS tells us this:

“And Jesus said,  [You say to Me],  If You can do anything?  [Why,] ALL things can be (are possible) to him who believes!”  (Mark 9:23 AMP).