Are You Friend of Foe?

You need to know if you are a friend of God or a foe.

Have you ever read the Psalms? Who is our God?

He forgives sin, yes.

He also delivers, provides abundantly, makes our hearts glad, defeats our enemies.

He rescues. He does it by sending His arrows and lightning and hailstones and coals of fire to vanquish the enemies.

He saves us from our strong enemy. He leads us and shows us the way to go.

He makes the wine to increase. He comforts. He bows the heavens to come down to us.

He blesses and gives us righteousness. He plucks us out of the net that’s trapped us. He lifts our heads and puts our feet on the rock, high above our enemies. He subdues them under our feet.

How far does God go for His children, for His friends?

What about Hezekiah’s story? The Assyrians are attacking. Hezekiah prays. Because he turned to God and prayed, God wipes out 180,000 Assyrian troops while the Israelites sleep.

That’s what He’ll do for His child who asks for help. It’s also what He’ll do to an enemy. He had 180,000 Assyrians killed.

It would be really good to know if you were a friend or foe.

Are you a friend of God? Do you believe you can ask for help and He’ll get angry enough with those coming against you that He’d wipe out an army for your sake?

The Bible says we’re enemies of God if we are sinners, if we are in the world.

What does the Bible say?

For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.

Philippians 3:18-19 NASB 1995

That’s a stark description of those who set their minds on the things of the flesh instead of on the things of the Spirit. Is your mind set on earthly things – job, money, entertainment, social media, sports, activities, food or other fleshly lusts, hobbies, books, knowledge, fashion, gossip, politics, dieting, health, exercise? It’s death.

Is your god your appetite? Can your appetite control you? Do you have a craving to do this or that, and then you do it? Your appetite is controlling you. It’s your god. You are submitting to it.

What’s your mind on when you wake up in the morning? What’s the first thing on your mind? If it’s not the Lord, something else has your heart. What do you talk about throughout the day? If it’s not the Lord, something else has your heart. What do you gravitate to when you are tired and worn or stressed? If it’s not the Lord, something else has become your god.

If you can’t get out of bed to pray, but can get up in the cold, dark morning to exercise, something else has your heart.

If you can’t find the time to read your Bible but can stream shows and movies, then something else has your heart.

Your thoughts are on the world.

Their end is destruction because they are enemies of the cross of Christ.

You may say you love God, but so did the Pharisees. God says, “Their lips praise me, but their hearts are far from me.”

You turn your heart to God by forsaking your sin. He will help you get it out of your life. You have to hate it and want it out. You have to choose to love God. Choose to love God.

This cuts off before his wife walks in. There are flowers where the computer was with a note that says, “Love you more.”

That’s what we need to say to God, not just with our Sunday praise songs, but with our daily choices. When that temptation looks you in the eye, you say back, “I love God, not you.” If it’s true, you’ll be able to walk away. It won’t have power over you. And God will smile at His friend.

For Me Not From Me

I asked the Lord what He wanted from me. I immediately knew that was the wrong question with the wrong attitude and said with a smile, “What do you want for me?”

He’s not after our sacrifice. He’s not after our suffering. He’s not after our obedience and worship for Himself. He’s after our hearts. He’s for us.

When He requires our worship, it’s for us.

When He requires obedience, it’s for us.

When He requires suffering, it’s for us.

When He requires sacrifice, it’s for us.

He’s not trying to get from us. He doesn’t need anything. We’re the needy ones. He’s doing everything for us. It’s what we need, so it’s what He wants for us.

Keep your thinking right toward God. He is for us, not against us.

He’s only good and always good.

Like Jesus and Paula Deen

I want to be like Jesus and Paula Dean. I want to live with a calm confidence, never in a hurry.

I have a clear picture of Paula Dean carrying a cake pop on an episode of Iron Chef. I don’t know who her competition was, but she was taking care of business without the frenetic fuss and fretting of everyone else involved. They ran. They rushed. They dashed back and forth. Paula walked. I have held that image in my head ever since. She was unhurried. Everyone else felt the demand of the ticking clock. She accomplished everything she needed to without letting time push her in a way she didn’t choose to go.

One of my markers to know if something is from God or not is that if it’s trying to hurry me along to a decision, then it’s not God. Satan is pushy. God is never in a hurry. Jesus had desperate people pleading with him to save loved ones. He waited days after Lazarus was already dead. He didn’t hurry. He was always where He was supposed to be and everything was done on time.

There is much to be done. There is so much need in ourselves and in the world. We can know that the Lord will accomplish His eternal purposes. He will transform us glory to glory into the image of truth and grace, Jesus Christ. He will flood the nations with grace and mercy. He will bring His light to the nations and bring us safely home to Himself. He will accomplish it all. And I guess that’s the key. He accomplishes the work. If we just surrender ourselves and put all the work in His hands, then we’ll never be in a hurry to accomplish anything.

Can we trust Him with all things from work to home life, from ministry to getting dinner on the table? I don’t want to let the demands of the clock, the schedule, the deadlines, the people who are sure their demand is most urgent draw me out of calm confidence and into panic mode of rushing to get things done. I want to walk not run, unless the Spirit is moving my feet!

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.

Isaiah 30:15 NKJV (partial)

The Trial is for Deliverance (cont.)

I wrote a post called The Trial Is the Deliverance. It talks about how God trials and tribulations for our deliverance. Here are some more Scriptures where the trial was for deliverance.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were tied up, bound. Their fiery trial didn’t harm them, but it unbound them!

Jeremiah was in prison when Nebuchadnezzar overthrew Israel and drove the Israelites into captivity in Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar releases Jeremiah into the care of the governor who will be staying and ruling in Israel. Then Jeremiah is released to go where he wishes (Jer. 40:4). God used the trial of the Babylonian invasion for Jeremiah’s deliverance. And Jeremiah is spared the Babylonian captivity.

Joseph is delivered from slavery through the long trial of prison.

Elisha had to lose his master to receive his double anointing and move into ministry.

Paul is blinded by the light so that he could walk in the light.

God used Paul being arrested and locked in the armory as a means of deliverance from the Jews who wanted to kill him (Acts 23).

John is exiled to Patmos, but God uses that place to reveal Christ and the greatest vision recorded in the Bible.

There is nothing Satan can do to a believer that doesn’t result in God’s good, God’s blessing, God’s victory, God’s glory, and God’s kind intentions and good pleasure being carried out.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good…

Romans 8:28

The Illusion of Safety or The Illusion of Danger

The last lesson I wrote was called The Peace that Surpasses Understanding. It was about God providing peace if there’s a situation but how we tend to worry when there’s nothing to worry about. Now, I don’t want to contradict myself here. That’s not my point. My point is that I don’t want you to fear and worry. But I wanted to point out in relation to that previous post as to how way more people die from household accidents compared to car accidents. I just had a perception that it’s more dangerous for him to drive than to be at home. My thoughts about it made it seem more dangerous to me.

But stats have NOTHING to do with God’s ability to protect us. Psalms 91 declares that thousands may die all around us but it’s not going to touch us. It talks about pestilence, plague, arrows, and destruction, and how we don’t need to fear any of it if we dwell in the secret place, that place of rest of abiding in Christ, knowing you’re in Him and He’s in you and neither of you are going anywhere.

If you are hidden in Christ, how could evil touch you? When troubles do come your way, you know it’s from the Lord and so it’s good. It’s for your good and His glory. We want God’s good will done in our lives. We want Him working out the kind intention of His will in our lives.

We try so hard to protect ourselves from the harm that God says won’t come our way. We end up like the fellow in this verse:

“In that day you will be like a man who runs from a lion— only to meet a bear. Escaping from the bear, he leans his hand against a wall in his house— and he’s bitten by a snake.” (Amos 5:19 NLT)

               No matter how much we think we can control our lives, we can’t. But more, we shouldn’t want to! If God’s good and perfect will is that a trouble come your way for your good and His glory, wouldn’t you want that? Running from it, trying to protect yourself from His will being accomplish, will just have you ending up with a snakebite.

               The safest place to be is in God’s will. Running from it, trying to protect ourselves from perceived dangers, is claiming God can’t protect us or not trusting that He will. It’s not believing that His will is good and perfect, that He knows best.

Peace that Surpasses Understanding

When my oldest was going to get his driver’s license, I thought to myself, “How does anyone let their teenage just walk out the door and drive away?” When he got his license, I hurried him out the door so he’d be on time and then forgot he was out.

What happened? God gave me the peace that surpasses understanding when I needed it. Why didn’t I have it before at the times those thoughts would invade? I didn’t need it then. I was safe at home. He was safe at home. There was nothing needing peace about.

Worrying about something that isn’t going on doesn’t need special peace. It needs trusting God. It needs taking our thoughts captive. It needs thinking on good things, what is excellent, worthy of praise, pure, true…It wasn’t true that he was in any trouble at the moment. He was sitting down in his computer chair.

We’re given the commands: “Don’t be anxious about anything…Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Now, I do believe that command was spoken softly, not in any harsh way, like how Jesus spoke to Martha when she was “troubled by so many things.” There’s just one thing that matters.

We just need to keep our eyes on Jesus. That’s the only way we should be working on being “present,” looking to Him and following Him as He leads us through our day, the way He kept His eyes on His Father and did what He saw the Father doing.

The prayer for the times of troubling are to give our cares to the Lord with thanksgiving. “Thank you, Lord, that you are in control and have good plans and watching over us and always caring for us. Thank you that we can always trust those things are true.” And when we’re just worrying ourselves when nothing is going on, our prayer can be something like Psalm 25:17, “The troubles of my heart are enlarged; deliver me out of all my distresses.”

Turning to Him is the answer each way. Looking to Him for deliverance and salvation is the answer each way. Thinking about Him because He is good is the answer each way.

Just As You Are

When we say come to God just as you are, that you are welcome and accepted just as you are, that doesn’t mean all we have, are, do, identify, etc. are welcome and accepted in God’s presence. It’s that we, ourselves, are.

“Come just as you are” means you don’t have to change to be welcomed and accepted. No amount of self-help betterment is going to make you more accepted and welcome. It would leave you in the SAME state.

Come just as you are, accepted just as you are, welcomed just as you are, means birthday-suit you. You come to God with nothing to offer. You strip away anything you might think you have to offer. Good works? Filthy rags. You strip away your identities, diagnoses, money, degrees, relationships, plans for the future, all that happened in the past. It’s all left at the foot of the cross.

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked shall I return.” (Job 1:21) When we’re born again, we’re naked. We have no identity or relationship other than our new life in Christ. Then we let Him build our new life from there.  

Goodness and Mercy Shall Follow Me

               When we say that goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives, it’s not that goodness and mercy tail along, as if they are chasing us and never catch up. We live a life of God’s goodness and mercy all the time.

               When it says it follows us, it means that we can look back, and what we see behind us is a trail of goodness and mercy. Every moment that could have been a memory of suffering is now a memory of God’s goodness and mercy. Everything that could be a memory of trial and struggle is now a memory of God’s goodness and mercy.

               Our lives should be a story of God’s goodness and mercy because every moment of suffering, of trial, of tribulation is an opportunity for a miracle, an opportunity for deliverance, an opportunity for God’s goodness and mercy to shine brighter than the world around you.

Don’t Be Afraid. Just Believe.

Don’t be afraid; just believe.

Mark 5:36

Jairus’ daughter was sick. He goes to Jesus for help. Jesus starts to go with him and gets interrupted. Then people come and tell him that his daughter has died, to let it go. It’s over.

Jesus’ response? “Don’t be afraid. Just believe.”

Don’t be afraid. Afraid? Afraid of what? Is fear what you would describe Jairus as feeling when he heard that his daughter had died? Grief? Shock? Fear? We might say, “I’m afraid it’s true.” Fear? It’s not how I would describe it. I’m trying to place it. Fear of the future? Fear of the unknown? What happens to our family?

Fear is defined by the dictionary as the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. Fear is a belief. It’s a belief that something is bigger than God. It’s a belief that something is more true, more real than God.

We can’t believe in God and believe in fear. They are contrary beliefs.

When Adam and Eve sinned, the first expression of sin in them was fear. They were afraid and hid. They used to love God and go to Him. Now they were afraid of Him and ran and hid from Him. They ate the forbidden fruit. They took in Satan’s lies instead of feasting on God’s true word, our bread of life. We need to live by it. A life lived by the Word is a life free from fear. Where there is fear, there is a lack of either knowing or believing the truth.