Tuesday, July 19, 2016

where is your security found

Have you ever seen the TV show about people who hoard? They keep EVERYTHING!  It is hard to imagine someone keeping everything including trash to the degree that some of these people shown do.  It is seen as a mental disorder. One of the biggest things they talk about it a feeling of security. Usually on the show there is a psychologist there to help address the underlying psychological issue. It seems so sad and shocking to see the turmoil and fear it gives the person to let go of even the smallest piece of what we would consider trash. This may all seem to be an extreme, but how many of us hang on to things?  I can tell you I have a couple (maybe a few) things I really don't need. I guess in some ways there is a feeling of security that comes from having "stuff."
Growing up, my mom ALWAYS wanted to make sure she had a full cupboard of food. She stockpiled canned goods. She hated to think of running out of food.  This turned out to be a good thing when my dad, along with an entire steel mill of people were laid off for about 6 months.  There were very few jobs available and we may not have had much, but we had food. Her stockpile dwindled down to near nothing but we did not go hungry.  She never let it get low again.  When she passed, we all laughed as we were cleaning and found about 20 bottles of flavored extracts, most of which were mint flavored.  She had enough cans of beans to feed an army.  I think this stockpile created a sense of security for my mom.  She felt that as long as there was food in the house, she could provide for her family and those that were hungry.

Security is  something we all seek. We want to feel safe and secure. We like to believe we have resources and the ability to provide for our family.  That in itself is a good thing.  There are times when our security is threatened and this creates great insecurity, turmoil and uneasiness. How many times have I worried about paying a bill or affording something that was necessary? How many times have I tried to figure out how to save up money for something only to have another debt arise?  How many times have I heard others discuss financial struggles and woes?  Insecurity also comes from other areas as well.  Insecurities come from relationships or lack thereof. Insecurities come from inner self-image issues. Insecurities come from beliefs about who you are and what might think or say about you. We all seek security in many areas of our lives.

It really hit me this morning, that we try so hard to find security when God can provide it all along. I always know and believe that God provides and I pray for needs and situations, but how often I allow myself to worry.  Worry boils down to feeling insecure.  It actually reveals that I may not fully trust in the fact that God provides.  He is called Jehovah-Jireh.  Jehovah Jireh translates as YHWH will provide. He is my provider. In Genesis chapter 22, we read where Abraham was told by God to sacrifice his promised son, Isaac.  He willingly obeyed, yet the whole time reassured Isaac that God will provide. He kept saying God will provide the sacrifice.  In the end, his faith proved well what God can do. The ram was provided and Isaac was not sacrificed. In Genesis 22:14 it says, "And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”"  God tested his faith. God provided for the need.

We also can read of the widow who came to Elisha in 2 Kings chapter 4. She had a great need. She knew Elisha was a man of God. She wanted to God to move for her need. She owed a great debt and feared for her sons being taken and sold to pay the debt. Elisha gave her a plan. Collect many pots and use what she had, a small cruse of oil, and start pouring into the many pots. God miraculously caused the oil to flow until she ran out of pots to fill. She was able to sell the oil, pay the debt and had money left over.  What an amazing miracle of God's provision.  She found security when she turned to God for an answer. Her situation was hopeless and caused great insecurity, but she believed and trusted that God knew what to do.

We cannot find true security without trusting in God.  I found a big reminder of that this week.  I was concerned about our finances this week. We had some things in mind that are going to take money we don't have to do. They are important things, and really need to be done. Of course, there is no extra money for these things and I had no idea how we would have the money or resources needed. I prayed and talked to God for a couple of days about the situation and I heard Him remind me that He is Jehovah-Jireh, my provider. I heard him tell me that He already had to answer of the way.  I figured I better diligently check the mail.  That was not where the answer came from.  The next day, the money was provided in completely different way than I could ever imagine and is what we need to take care of the issues at hand.  My God provides in mighty ways. I look back at the day when God spoke and gave me peace about it.  He did tell me that it was on the way.  He did tell me not to worry.  He did answer in a great an mighty way.  God knows our needs and takes care of His children.

Jesus spoke on this very issue in Matthew chapter 6:25-34
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

We have a great big God who loves us and is always ready to provide. Why do we worry? Why do try to stockpile and become fearful of the 'what-ifs?'  God does not leave his children and he does not ignore their needs.  David said in Psalms 37:25 I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread.

We have no reason to allow worry into our hearts when we know God. It actually says we have little faith when we worry.  Faith and trust in God should be our attitude and worry should never have a place in our hearts and minds.  God is asking us to step out in faith and trust Him to provide all of our needs. Not just a few here and there, but ALL of our needs. He takes care of His children. I need to really trust that and know that God is already meeting my needs.  He never fails and He never ignores. He never lets me down.  I thank you, God, for your provision. Thank you, God, for your reminder that You are a Good Father who provides for his children. Thank you, God, for all you have provided and will provide. Rather than seeking security in things, we need to find that God is our security. He is the One who holds us, carries us, and provides for us.  Our security should be found in Him and in Him alone.  There is no reason to fear or worry when we know the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. There is no reason to fear, but every reason to feel secure and safe.  He is Jehovah-Jireh.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

what does God expect....

This week has been one full of horrific events. The news is full of terrible incidents of murder, shootings, and horrific criminal acts.  Many people are debating who is at fault and who or what is to blame. It is racism, is it authority figures, is it lack of respect?  The list goes on and on.  On Facebook, there is post after post of who hates who.  There are reports of rallies and protests in many cities.  Acts of violence, hatred and fear are obviously making sure we are divided and looking over our shoulders. What are we to do in times like this?  Darkness and evil acts are charging forth into our world. Where is the light? As a christian, I turn to the Word of God and find out He had a lot to say about this.

First and foremost, I read Ephesians chapter 4.  It is entirely about how we are to live and relate to others. There is a call for unity, for us to apply spiritual gifts and be a new man in Christ. It also speaks of not grieving the Holy Spirit. This is the part of scripture I will use here.

Ephesians 4:30-32
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

That last verse says it all. It tells us us to not hold grudges or be separated, but instead, we are to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving.  The key, however, is in the statement, "even as God in Christ forgave you."  Here is where we find a condition.  We first need to understand that we are forgiven by Jesus.  He came to seek and to save the lost. He makes a way of escape for all who sin.  He does not want us to be bound by sin and given over to our sinful nature. When we accept Jesus and repent of our sins, we are forgiven of our sins. We are supposed to turn around and apply this forgiveness to others. 
This shows that we are different and changed by Jesus Christ who is in us.  When we are hateful, grudging, spewing forth evil sayings and causing division, we are not acting in accordance to God's will.  Galatians 5:19 tells us these acts are works of the flesh.  We, as Christians, are to bear the fruit of the Spirit, not works of the flesh. We are to be kind, forgiving and tenderhearted toward one another. All others, not just those we look like, act like, or even just those we like.

Galatians 5: 22-26
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

As we can see here,if we were all bearing the fruit of the Spirit, it would have a completely different affect than works of the flesh.  So I can say that this week, much of what we are seeing is works of the flesh.  It is evident that Christ would be ashamed of such things as we have witnessed this week.  I believe God is grieved by such horrific acts that go completely against His will. The works of the flesh have been evident and displayed in full form. The fruit of the Spirit of God needs to be developed and brought forth.

Now, I know some will say that I am holding non-Christian people to Christian standards here and I shouldn't expect that of people. But here is the way I see it. I am going to do so because God's standards are the ultimate law by which everyone will be judged at some point.  We will all face God's judgement whether we believe it or not. We are all held to His standard. Unfortunately, many do not realize this fact or even believe it. Many people have turned their backs of God and on His law. Many have denied He exists and even mock those that do believe.  Those that do say they believe have often not really spent time in the Word of God to understand God's law and His standards. They do not understand that their life should reflect the changing power of the blood of Jesus Christ. That the fruit of the flesh should be replaced by the fruit of the Spirit.  We have backed down and stepped aside out of fear of offending and out of lack of understanding who God is.  We have a lack of faith to take a stand.  I feel ashamed to say that there have been many times I have not spoken up or stood up based on the Word of God when I knew I should have. God forgive me. On top of that, most of our laws and morality are based upon the standards of God whether we recognize that fact or not. That is a whole other discussion.

I am going to speak directly to those of us who call ourselves Christians. Are we living the Word of God and meeting His expectations? God is expecting His church to be His light, His hands and feet, His voice to this world. God is expecting His people to shine in the darkness that so permeates this world. To be the light, we must first be in the light. Moses went up on the mountain into the very presence of God and when he returned, the people of Israel made him wear a veil because His face literally shone with the glory of God. There was evidence of Moses spending time with God.  That makes me ask: Is there evidence in my life that I have spent time with God? Does His glory shine through me and from me because I have been spending time with my Savior?  What about you?  Are you spending time in the presence of God so that His glory is shining forth from you?

The church, God's people, have a responsibility to be the light of the world. To be a light, we must be showing evidence of spending time with God.  We must be in His Word, spending time in prayer and fasting, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together. We must be about our Father's business. 
This enemy, Satan is pushing and making great strides as he has caused great division and hatred to reign this week.  He laughs with derision and glee at the violence and hateful speech that is spewing forth out of the mouths of even those who call themselves Christians. We need to put aside those things of the flesh that are taking us deeper into darkness and get in the light of God.
 We need to drop to our knees and call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to change us and make a change in this world. Prayer and time with God is the only way we are ever going to defeat hatred and fear that is rearing its ugly head.

Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 

Are we ready to really fight hatred? Are we ready to really fight violence? Are we ready to really fight evil?  The only answer is to live as Jesus Christ has called us to live. We need to be that light that pierces through the darkness. Only then, can true love, forgiveness and kindness permeate into society.  Only then, can the words of Jesus take full effect and be evident. Only then, will people find out that God is love and His people live it and represent God's love.  Only then, can we truly do what Jesus commanded. Only then, can this dark world experience true hope and true light.

 Matthew 22:36-40
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Are we ready to really be the light that shines in the darkness?

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

2 Corinthians 4:6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Here in these verses in the Word of God, we have the answer for the evil in this world. Here in the Word of God is the Will of God for people to love Him and love one another.  Isn't it time for His people to become this answer for the world and shine the light? It is time to apply the Word of God and live it out in this world. Let's work on that individually and corporately. I believe and I know obeying God's word will make all the difference if we really do it. I guess I can come to the conclusion that God expects His people to be the light of the world that shines brightly. He expects His people to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving one another. Lord help us all to meet Your expectations.