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The Truth About What Faith Actually Looks Like

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Have you ever been there with God, the place where nothing in life makes sense? Where you just cry out, “This makes no sense!”

Oh, how hard it can be to remember that He is God, and His mind is bigger than ours. He knows what He's doing.

Habakkuk just couldn’t come to grips with that, have you been there? When you just can't come to grips with what God is allowing? So, he gets tenacious, and he goes up in his prayer tower and he tells God, “I'm not coming down until you answer me!” Two weeks go by, and God finally answers. Hallelujah, God answers! Now, are you ready for what God said? He told Habakkuk to trust Him. Wait, that's it? Now he has a whole new problem; he's cried out to God, and God has said, “No.”

I don't like it when God says no, do you? So what does Habakkuk do? He starts recalling to his mind, all that God is, and all that God has done. He remembers how God parted the Red Sea and made the sun stand still for Joshua, and he says, “Bring on the Chaldeans.” He makes the choice to rejoice, a choice we all have.

In chapter 3, he makes this famous statement, “There was trembling on my lips and decay in my bones.” I love that statement because faith isn’t always a huge smile on our faces, faith is trembling, faith is decay, faith is “I'm dying and I don't understand, but I believe you because you are good and all that you do is good. This doesn't look good, but somehow by faith, it's going to be good, and I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.”

David says, “Though the fig tree does not blossom and there be no fruit on the vine, my soul is going to cling to you.” And what tense does David use there? He uses the present tense. You see friends, you can cling all you want in the past, it's not going to deliver you in the present. You can say that you will cling in the future, it's not going to deliver you in the present. His name is I AM, and your faith must be present tense to connect to the I AM. Take a look at what David adds, “Your right hand is going to uphold me.” That's what God does beloved, our part is to believe and trust, and God's part is to deliver or sustain.


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Believing in a God You Can’t See When Life is at it's Hardest

The Christian life is not easy, and it's not for cowards. The Bible says, “We believe that which we do not see,” and that requires tenacity friends!
Read “Believing in a God You Can’t See When Life is at its Hardest” here":

Everything you Need to Know to Run the Race

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We don't run this race in our own strength. The verses in Isaiah chapter 40 are ones we’ve heard so many times before. “Young men grow weary, even the vigorous young men grow tired and stumble, but those who will wait on the Lord,” and that word “wait” in Hebrew is “abide,” so it’s saying those who “braid” with Him. And it goes on to tell us that they shall what? Renew their strength? No, the Hebrew word “renew” means “exchange;” they will exchange their strength.

In the midst of that weary, long race of faith, if you keep your eyes on Him, and abide with Him, even though your strength becomes exhausted, He has promised that His never will. And because we run this race in His strength, you can mount up with wings like eagles and run and not grow weary. You CAN finish the race.

In verse 12, it says, “Lay hold of that eternal life to which you were called.” In other words, you already have eternal life, now lay hold of it! Lay hold of Him and the abundant life that He's brought to you.” I would put it this way, as you live in a natural world, make sure you lay hold of the supernatural life that is within you, waiting to be released through you.

This is a very important issue, my friends because though we strive, we must remember that our striving is not against each other. We strive WITH each other. We're not competing against one another, we're all in the same race to lay hold of the same prize. We compete with each other against all that comes against us, and if something comes against another person, we’re ready to step into their lives and assist them in that which has come against them. Likewise, when something comes against me, you stand ready to step in with me and help me to run that race.

Beloved, we must never forget that we're not competing against each other, we're competing against this world, and the false teachers, the enemy, and sin in the flesh. That's why I love the quote, “Keep your faith with a trowel in one hand for building others, and a sword in the other for battling.”


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Stop Judging! We Were Never Designed to Live Here.

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Come with me to Lamentations chapter 3, and let’s walk through it together. Jeremiah says, “I'm the man who has seen affliction. I've seen the rod of His wrath. He's led me into darkness and not into light. His hand is against me all day. He is building walls around me.” Have you ever felt like you have walls around you, and you can't escape, they’re closing in?

He continues, “He’s caused my flesh to rot. He's broken my bones. He's besieged me with bitterness. I dwell in dark places.” Have you ever been in the darkness so bad that you can't see the light?

“He's made my chains heavy.” Have you ever been in a situation where you’re carrying a load that you just can't get off your shoulders?

“He shuts out my prayer; He doesn't listen. He's not hearing me. I feel like He's a bear lying in wait like He's a lion waiting to ambush me. He's drawing the Arrow of His quiver, and I'm the bullseye. He's made me a laughing stock. He's broken my teeth.” Oh, I've been there, haven't you? Where the wilderness is so big and so strong that it looks like you're never going to make it through. Life is so intense that you're grinding your teeth, and you're not even aware that you’re doing it, but you can't seem to stop. You go to the dentist and end up with a mouth a guard because you know - you are not going to be able to stop the grinding.

We have got to understand this friend, we don't judge that as Christians! That person who's experiencing that is living in a world they weren't designed to live in so stop the judging! Let them be human! They weren't designed to live here!

Let’s read a little further in Lamentations, Jeremiah’s cowering in the darkness and says “I have no peace. I've forgotten happiness. My strength is gone.” He’s saying he has fear, he has no peace, he has no joy, and he has no strength! Are you there loved one? Well here’s the key to it all right here in verses 19 and 20; “Remembering my affliction,” (and just to make sure we get it he says it again,) “Surely my soul remembers, His eyes are on the rubble of Jerusalem, His eyes are on those murdered little babies, His eyes are on those weeping violated women, His eyes are on the ashes of what was once the glory of Israel.”

And in the midst of Jeremiah’s anguish, the spirit of God helps him and look what he is able to say, “This I recall to my mind, the Lord’s lovingkindness never ceases; His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is thy faithfulness. For this reason, I have hope.” He’s gone vertical! Oh, beloved, there is HOPE when death is all around you because it is NOT the end of the story. Jeremiah begins to recall to his mind all that God is, and all that God has done, and he ends up with hope, and a man cannot live without hope, he must have the belief that things are going to change.


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Faith Doesn’t Change Anything - The Surprising Truth

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David said that because God was for him, those who sought to destroy his life were going to go into the depths of Sheol and they would be delivered over to the power of the sword and would become prey for jackals. He said the mouths of those who spoke lies would be stopped. And it all happened. Absalom fled from the army of Israel, his wild hair getting caught in a tree, and Joab came and delivered the death blow with his sword. We can’t read this casually; we can’t forget that this is a dad we’re talking about - David just lost his boy. And let me tell you, I'm a dad, and no matter how much that boy rebels, he will always be my boy, right? So David is going to grieve, and if we go back and read what the passage says, he grieved heavily, but he also rejoiced that the will of God ended the rebellion and restored the nation of Israel.

I've said this many times, and I’m going to say it again, believers are the only ones that can have tears of sorrow AND joyful hearts at the same time.  And when the world sees that, they don't know what to do with us! It’s one of the greatest times we have to testify for the faithfulness and truth of who God is. The world can't relate to a foolish plastic facade of the Prosperity Gospel, they don't relate to that! But they do relate to your tears, and they'll see your faith and that will give you a bridge to introduce them to who God really is.

In David, we see a man in the wilderness. Did you notice in this passage he didn't get delivered from the wilderness right away? The world is still the world and that's not going to change. We're not going to get restored to a playground until Jesus Christ comes back, this world is going to remain a wilderness. The key here is that not only does the wilderness never change, our God never changes! He will be all that He is, to all that we need, at the moment of faith and that will allow one thing to change, and that's us. We will be the ones who change.

Like David, Jeremiah too became a changed man. The book of Lamentations reveals to us Jeremiah's heartache; he was a man of affliction.

While sitting in the ashes of destruction, with murder babies and slaughtered people all around him; miserable, hopeless and dying, he recalled to his mind that he had a hope greater than the death around him. He had the mercies of God. He knew that it was only by God’s mercy that they weren't destroyed. He knew this was not the end of the story.

Nothing had changed; the ashes and the slaughter, the murdered babies, Jerusalem, nothing had changed. The wilderness had not changed but Jeremiah had. This might tempt you to say, “That is what faith will do.” But that would be a lie! Faith doesn't change anything; all faith does is connect you to to the One who brings the change. That's the key beloved, and when you have faith in Him, He will be all that He is, to all that we need, at the moment of faith.


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The Freeing Truth Every Christian With Anxiety Needs to Know

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Friends, I want you to hear this, it’s very important for humanity!

I want to take you to the book of Psalms, where David says some very important words. He starts by saying to God, “When I remember you on my bed…” What do those words reveal to us? They tell us that he's not sleeping. He's not sleeping, gang! He's laying on his bed and he can't sleep. How do we know this? Look at the next phrase, “I meditate on you in the night watches.”

By the way, Israel had three late night watches, dusk to ten o’clock, ten o’clock to two, and two until dawn. So what does this tell us? It tells us that he's not sleeping ALL night long. Have you ever been in a wilderness, in a time of trauma, where you’re exhausted from what you're going through, and your head hits the pillow, but you still can't sleep?

Don’t you just love that this is in the Bible? Because this is exactly where we find ourselves in life. Let me tell you friend, when you’re in turmoil, when you’re in the pressure cooker of life, one of the most difficult problems you will face is the lack of being able to sleep. And sometimes if we share this with others, we will have Christian’s who tell us that it means that we must not be trusting God. Don’t you want to just slap them in Jesus' name?!

You see, they have failed to come to understand that our spirits can be at perfect rest, while our souls are all over the map. The proof of this is the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said “Not my will, but thine be done. I'm going to the cross.” A spirit of perfect rest. But what’s he doing? He's sweating blood! That's a soul that's all over the map friends. If Jesus can have the freedom to be human and have anxiety in his soul while he's trusting God, why can't we have the same freedom?

I want to share something with you, and it’s very important; David’s spirit was at rest while his soul was going crazy, he was unable to sleep, but David did not allow his mind to take him where it wanted to go and beat him mercilessly. Look at the language he uses as he tells God, “I am remembering you, I am meditating on you, I'm not letting my mind fixate on the horizontal, which is beating the daylights out of me. I've taken my mind where I want it to go, which is vertical.” And it tells us in verse 7 that he specifically set his mind on remembering that God had been his help. He remembered, past tense. David sets his mind on how God has delivered him in previous times and connected the dots of God's faithfulness.


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Why Living Vertically Changes Everything

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David, who knows the love of God says, “My Lips are going to praise you,” and by the way, don't forget he says this while he's in the wilderness. His circumstances have not changed. All that has changed is his mindset - He's gone vertical.

So he says, “My lips will praise you. I will bless you as long as I live, I will lift my hands to you. I don't need a temple, I don't need a priest, I don't even need a worship choir; this desert will be my altar.”

Friend, I don't know what you may be going through, some of you may have just heard the word “cancer” recently, you have to let that be your altar. Some of you might have received the dreaded words “neuromuscular disease,” let that neuromuscular disease be your altar. Some of you may have just had little kids diagnosed with a disease, I’ve been there friend, let that diagnosis be your altar. That altar will be where you find God in a way you've never known him before because he promises to be in that wilderness with you.

David wrote, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” How could he say that? Because he knew his God would be with him; he knew that his heavenly Father was all that he had.

When we’re in those wilderness times, I can guarantee you that all you will have is Him. Your friends won't get what you’re going through, even though they will try. I remember when we went through our desperate wilderness, we had friends that tried, but the hugs were empty, their faces were familiar and filled with compassion but they couldn’t meet the desperate need of the soul. The money you have isn't going to matter, but the one thing you can have that will not only meet the desires of your soul but the desires of your body itself, as you're wasting away in the wilderness, is God himself.

May you make your desert your altar today friend.


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The Heart Behind the Name

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Barnabas is a name that is very often found on the lips of believers, and with good reason.

From what we read of him in the New Testament, he was a pretty amazing man. He was one of Paul’s travelling companions and is listed often as one of the faithful brethren. Perhaps, what sets him apart most of all though, is that in the book of Acts he is called the “son of encouragement.” What a wonderful description for this man!

The Bible uses the word “son” to refer to a source or sphere, but when used with the word “of,” it is used to refer to that which identifies a man. This man Barnabas, was known as an encourager, he lived in encouragement to others.

Here is the amazing thing though, the name by which we know him, Barnabas, is not really his name. In Acts 4:36 we are told that his given name was Joseph. The apostles are the ones that called him “Bar–Nabas” – a compound Hebrew word that means “son of encouragement.” In other words, this man Joseph, lived such a life of encouragement to others, that his encouraging life actually became his name. He was such a son of encouragement, that his name became son of encouragement – Barnabas.

Oh if only all of us in the church would seek to live such an encouraging life to other! What would it look like if we all sought to be such encouragers? What if we so lived that the world changed all of our names to Barnabas? Wow! We would really turn the world upside down, wouldn’t we?

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How to Praise God in the Wilderness

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David says his hope is to see the glory and power of God in the wilderness, just as surely as he sees it in the temple in Jerusalem. He's saying that he doesn't need a building to find God, he doesn't need priests to find God, he doesn’t need sacrifices to find God, and here it comes - he doesn’t need a pastor to find God! You see friends, God wants to have a relationship with you, with no mediator other than God Himself named Jesus. Isn't that cool?!

Look what David says in verse 4, “Your lovingkindness is better than life.” You might want to circle the word lovingkindness; it's the Hebrew word “hesed.” It is the word for unconditional love in the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant word for “agape.”

We need to stop right there friends and really think about what he’s saying here, “Your lovingkindness is better than life.” Let’s talk about life; aren’t our lives our most precious possessions, the thing we hang on to at all costs? If a robber came up and pointed a gun at you, what would you do? You'd give him your wallet! Why? Because your life is more important than your money. If you get the dreaded word, “cancer,” what are you going to do? You're going to go through drastic surgery, you’ll take hideous chemicals into your body, why? To save your life! We fight for life with all we have. The Old Testament book of Job says exactly that in chapter 2, verse 4, “All that a man has, he will give for his life.” And it’s true.

What David says is radical, “Your love is even better than the choicest thing in my life called life itself. How can he say that? Well, let's think about it, what good is life without the love of God?

One of the things that brought me to Christ almost forty years ago now, was a little gospel tract that I received from a church I visited. It was called, “Is this all there is to life?” I opened it up after I had visited, I wasn't a Christian yet, but this is what it said on the first page, “A man is born, goes to school, gets married, gets a job, has kids, retires, and then dies; is that all there is to life?” That got me thinking, what is man really? Is he really just a bunch of protoplasm waiting to become manure? Or is there more to this thing? And that sent me on my search to find God.

What David finds, and his son Solomon wrote these words, “All of life is a vanity unless God is a part of it.” And so David, who knows the love of God, says, “My Lips are going to praise you.” And don't forget where he is when he says this, he's in the wilderness! His circumstances have not changed, all that has changed is his mindset - he's gone vertical.


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A Life or Death Choice

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It is so very easy to be a critic; all you have to do is open your mouth and speak negatively about someone. But have you ever pondered what the Bible has to say about it?

The Bible says that when we slander or gossip about someone that we are actually “Satanizing.” That’s right, we are in partnership with the enemy and joining him in his work to steal, kill, and destroy!

In 1 Timothy 3 the actual translation of a gossip is a “she-devil." Why would we want to do that? Why would we choose to live so contrary to who we are - a vessel of life, and instead choose to live as someone that we are not – a vessel of death? It is not only evil but foolish to do so.

Proverbs 18:21 tells us that every time we open our mouth, we are either going to be extending words of life or words of death. So, what do you want to be my friend? Do you want to be a minister of life or a minister of death? The choice is yours.

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The Secret to Being Truly Satisfied

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Do you remember the story of John Chapter 4? The disciples were hungry so they go to the village of Sychar and Jesus stays behind. Why did Jesus stay behind? So he could meet with a lady called the Samaritan woman, who's had five husbands and is living with a man, and she comes to the well to draw water.

Why does the woman go to Jacobs well to draw water when Sychar had it’s own natural springs? She chose to travel a mile outside of town to the well because of the way she had lived. You see, she knew that if she went to those springs the other women would talk about her saying, “Oh there she is, the adulterer.” So she chooses instead to go a mile each way, twice a day, carrying heavy water pots just so she can avoid people.

And Jesus sees her and says, “Give me a little water to drink.”

Wait a minute, what is He doing? A Jewish man, talking to a Samaritan woman?! Oh, but if she only knew who was talking to her! If she did she’d be asking HIM for water because He’d give her a water that would satisfy her thirst forever!

So they have a little conversation about who He is, and who she is, and who He can be to her, and she leaves her water pot and runs to the village. Wait a minute... put the car in park! What does she do? She leaves her water pot, the water pot she was using to collect water in, the one she’d carried a mile out of town just so she could avoid people, and now she’s going back to the very people she was trying to avoid! Why would she do that? She did it so she could tell them about the Messiah she'd just found because you see, getting water didn't matter any longer because her soul was so satisfied that she didn't even recognize her thirst anymore.

The story continues and the disciples return with the food, saying “Master, we're here with the food.” Jesus replies telling them that He has food that they don't even know about, and they wonder who fed the Master! What does Jesus tell them? He tells them, “No, you don't understand, my food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and I've just done it. I've led a woman into Life and now I'm just not hungry anymore.” Isn’t that amazing? You've experienced it, haven't you, when you're in a deep turmoil perhaps, and you do have a physical need, but the Holy Spirit of God so provides the presence of God to you, that you lose sight of the need around you. It's exactly like what happened to David; Father infused his soul with His presence and it satisfied not only his soul but his fleshly need as well.

Thank you, Father, that you can satisfy our deepest thirsts.


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God Commends the Weak

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Did you know that in the book of Revelation, the church in Philadelphia was commended because it had “little strength"?

In our modern world that is a very strange basis for being commended. Modern society values strength. Our media driven culture beckons us to be men of steel and women of iron. The city in which I live heralds, for example, that we are “Baton Rouge Strong” and “Baton Rouge Proud.” God, however, says that it is the weak, those that have recognized their minimal strength who are to be commended. Why is that?

Let’s ponder Moses for example; he was a man of great strength. Raised in the court of Pharaoh to be a leader in the nation, he was trained to be a warrior. When he thought the time had come for him to deliver his people, he mustered all the strength he could and killed an Egyptian, but failed to rally the people around him and ran like a scared rabbit into the desert.

There, he spent the next 40 years tending sheep and growing weak. How do we know that? Because when God appeared to Him, to call Him to lead Israel into freedom, he bemoaned that he was not the kind of man God was looking for. Early in his life, Moses thought he was that man because he was strong, but now that he was weak he could not dream of being a leader. He thought himself a nothing and informed God that he could not speak very well. Ironically, the book of Acts tells us that Moses was the most eloquent man in all the earth!

So how are we to explain that? Some say that after spending 40 years with a bunch of sheep, any of us would speak b-a-a-a-a-d too! I don’t buy that. I believe that after his failure, Moses no longer trusted in his natural resources, he recognized that he was not up to the demand, which forced him to depend on God in a way he would never have without his failure. His failure opened his eyes to his true state of weakness so that he could then see the greatness of God that would be exercised by God on his behalf; transforming him into a man who received the strength of God!

Though this is a hard lesson for most of us to learn, it is one that we desperately need to understand. The Holy Spirit told Paul that when he was weak, then he would truly be strong because he would no longer be trusting in himself, but in God. This is why God would offer that “not so strange” commendation for those who have little strength. I want to hear that commendation, and I hope you do too, for it is the true path to the strength we desperately need to secure to live victoriously in this fallen world.

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What Every Hurting Person Needs to Know

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There was a great onslaught against David, and he could have easily remained living horizontal and kept his eyes fixed on all the obstacles and pain around him. He could have stayed living horizontal, and looked at the wilderness he was living in instead of the throne room, but David says, “Oh no, I'm going vertical! You are my God!”

You see beloved when we encounter the adversities of life, one of the facts that we must remember is that God always holds on to us; whether we hold on to God or not though, that’s the choice we must make. And if we choose to stay horizontal, we will lose sight of God.

We must make the choice of the will to see past what is coming against us, to the God who is sitting on His throne. That is what David does, he says, “I am alone in this desert. Yet I am not alone!”

You see, in those trauma times of life, we can feel so alone, can’t we? We can feel like there's no one out there who gets us; even the one we're married to sometimes. When we're going through a traumatic time, we get the feeling that they really don't get us, and then we start to cry out, “Is there anyone out there who gets us?!” The answer is yes! Psalm 73 says, “Who do I have in heaven but you?” And then what did he say? “Who Do I have on earth but you?” Oh God, you get me.

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Exchanging Our Strength

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I have found over the years, that so many people have been comforted by the words of Isaiah 40. There we are told that, "young men stumble and fall" and that even "the vigorous young men grow weary and stumble." BUT – "those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, mounting up with wings like eagles, to run and not grow weary!" That is glorious, but it is even more glorious than it sounds. Let’s dig deep into some of the individual words and watch this glory be magnified.

"Young men stumble and fall," that is true for all of us. I take this to be a reference to the average guy. We live in a tough world and for most of us, our strength is very often, not up to the demands of life. There are, however, living among us, the elite ones; the strong and the mighty who seemingly have the fortitude of personal resources that enables them to conquer this world we live in. Uh-oh, this text tells us that they too grow weary and stumble.

This world can stand ominously against us with the demands that it places on our lives, and when even the strong and mighty are not up to the task, we could easily find ourselves overwhelmed and frustrated. Fortunately, we find one of the great words of the Bible intervening in our desperate situation… "BUT!"

"But those who wait upon the Lord." Now, if we take an honest look at that phrase, it is really not all that encouraging. We are stumbling and falling, so we need to “WAIT”… WHAT?! For how long must we wait? When will the Lord show up? Will He show up? It is an encouraging phrase, but not encouraging enough! Wonderfully, that word does not mean “wait” at all. It really means “to braid.” Think of a girl braiding her hair, intertwining, placing individual hairs into “one” – DO YOU SEE THE GLORY? It is not calling us to "wait" for God to show up, but in the moment to recognize our “oneness” with Him. It is really the Old Testament word for abiding. So as we are growing weary, and as we are stumbling, as we are in great need, in that very moment we can recognize our “oneness” with God, and “renew” our strength.

That is so awesome, but it gets even better!

The Hebrew word for “renew,” can actually be translated “exchange”. So, as we recognize our “oneness” with God, we can go way beyond having our strength "renewed," we can "exchange" our strength, for the strength of God. That is the reason we will be able to mount up with wings like eagles and run and not go weary because through faith we can experience the very life of God being lived out and expressed through our lives.

My prayer is that if these verses comforted you before, they will now comfort you more than ever as you realize how much God wants to offer Himself to you, and for you, as you walk in faith with Him in this dark and desperate world.

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Glorious News for Mankind

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In the final analysis, there are really only two “religions” in the world. First, there is the religion of Human Achievement; this is the religion that all mankind was placed into the moment Adam ate from the wrong tree, the tree of good and evil, or the tree of right and wrong. This tree says "Tell me what to do and I will do it. Tell me what not to do and I will not do it." Of course, the huge assumption is that we will be able to pull it off, and of course, there isn't, and never has been, a man who can do that.

Romans 3:23 tells us that, "ALL of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." So the religion of Human Achievement, no matter what emblem it falls under or what name it is known by, emphasizes what man does in order to merit life and acceptance from God. 

There is, however, another “religion” – the religion of Divine Accomplishment. Here the emphasis is not on what man must do for God, but what God “has done” for man – hence the name Divine Accomplishment. God has done it! It is finished! This is the most glorious news available to man! God offers what He has done for man, to man as a gift; the only “requirement” for man is simply to humble himself and open up his arms and receive the gift by faith. A gift given is not necessarily a gift that has been received. That is where faith comes in, and that is in Hebrews it says, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God!”

What is your religion? Is your religion the religion of Human Achievement, a religion that is all about you, and all that you have done and are doing in order to try and achieve merit before God? Or have you entered into the religion of Divine Accomplishment, where God loves you so much that He has done it all for you! The choice is yours!

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Receivers Instead of Achievers

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A paradox is defined as something that sounds contradictory but is actually true. We find such a paradox in the first letter Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. There he told them to make it their ambition, to be zealous and to strive eagerly - but let’s not complete that sentence just yet...

When I see a phrase that calls me to STRIVE or to be AMBITIOUS, I instantly think of the culture of the world we live in, and conclude that I need to "strive" to be a “mover-and-a-shaker,” or have "ambitions" to become an influencer or motivator; a heart charger who yearns for impact in this world. That is what I would expect would follow a call to "strive" or "be ambitious."

Paul, however, had no such conclusion to that phrase. Instead, he said that we should strive to be quiet; that we should be ambitious to mind our own business and take care of our own work. Pretty strange command, isn’t it? Not really though, when you think about it. We are made by God as human beings, called on the first full day of our existence in Genesis 2 to REST! Oh, we went out to work on the 8th day, but we worked from a position of rest. We labored, but not to achieve, because we had already been given everything by God. WONDERFUL!

Man sinned, however, and we bought the lie that we should eat from the tree of right and wrong, and in that instant we went from a human being who received all that they needed from the hand of God, to become human doings, achieving for themselves. This became our new normal, our default mode – to perform. To do.

The glory of the New Covenant placed us back into relationship with God and provided the potential for us to once again become receivers instead of achievers. To rest instead of LABOR. To simply be significant in Christ instead of trying to achieve significance. This is not easy for anyone, because we have been conditioned to achieve instead of receive. That is why the author of Hebrews said, “Labor to enter into the rest.” In other words, it is hard work to rest. And that is why Paul here in Thessalonians said that we should make it our ambition to lead quiet lives.

We have been made some kind of special in God’s eyes. It is time for us to really believe that and let it dramatically influence the way we live.

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Is the Truth on Your Lips Lived Out in Your Life?

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Sometimes I hear people say that they don’t care what others think. Though I agree that it is the Word of God that is to be the main source by which we order our lives, we should lend some consideration to what others think about us – especially the unbelieving world.

The Apostle Paul told the Thessalonian believers that they should be quiet, work hard, and mind their own business; that they should strive to do so. It is pretty clear from what Jesus said that there is more than enough on our plate every day to concern us. In fact, there is so much on our plate, that we should not even worry about tomorrow. This also means that there is so much on our plate each day that we should not have occasion to worry about what is on the plates of others. As it has been well said, “If you are not busy, you are in danger of being a busybody.” A point well taken, and it is this diligent pursuit of our own responsibilities in daily living, that will have such a great influence on what the outside world thinks of us.

Paul told the Thessalonians that when they follow his counsel to work hard, be quiet, and mind their own business, they will not be lacking. What he meant by this, is that we will be working, and barring some calamity, will be able to provide for the needs of our own lives. In other words, we will not have to go on the rolls of some charity in order to meet our needs.

It is at that point that Paul added that this hard-working lifestyle will have a dramatic effect on the unbelieving world, and we will win their respect because of it. The truth is that we are performing on the stage of life, and the unbelieving world is the audience. They are watching to see if the truth that is on our lips is also in our lives.

One anonymous saint put it this way, “Before we tell others about Jesus with our lips, we need to make sure they can see Jesus in our lives!” Perhaps Francis of Assisi said it best, “Preach Christ always, and sometimes use words!” I love that! Don’t you? Let’s preach Jesus with our lives!

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The One-Two Punch

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In boxing, there is what is called a combination; a left and then a right. It's a one-two punch that hopefully delivers a knockout blow and ends the fight. I find such a one-two punch in the book of 1 Thessalonians 2, where it tells us that God has called us into His kingdom and glory.

First of all, let’s take note of the word “called,” which is better translated, “calls” since it is in the present tense. This means God calls you, and calls you, and calls you, and never stops calling you even when you have already answered the call and have come to Him and received Him and the abundant Life He offers. Why is that?

I believe that God is so infinitely good and wonderful that we will never exhaust the glory of His being – hence we are ALWAYS going to be coming to Him to draw from Him. A second thought I had is that we are continually being drawn to things other than God in this world and therefore are ALWAYS in need of being called back to Him as our only true source of Life.

The rest of the passage tells us what He is calling us to, and this is wonderful!

First, He is calling us to His kingdom. He, of course, is the King of this kingdom, but we are not called to be His subjects. Oh no! We are called to be His children (John 1:11-12.) We are called to be the sons and daughters of the King, which of course makes us princes and princesses.

I believe, with all my heart, that this is why He added that the second thing He is calling us to is His glory! We, as His sons and daughters, share in the inheritance of His glory. This is an amazing thought because throughout the Old and New Testaments God is revealed as a jealous God, who has a rightful zeal for that which is His own. He will not allow anyone or anything to rob Him of His glory; but He will, however, freely share His glory with His kids!

What an amazing Father we have been called to. We are very privileged kids!

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“Preach Christ always, and sometimes use words.”

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I read of a man once who was pondering what Paul’s greatest sermon might have been.

Paul gave multiple discourses in the book of Acts; perhaps it was his first sermon in Damascus after his conversion? Or maybe the sermon Paul gave in Athens on Mars Hill, or the one he gave in Antioch in Pisidia? Two of his most powerful messages were when he gave defense before the Jerusalem authorities when he was falsely accused and arrested; were these his greatest?

It's an interesting question to ponder, and I love that in the end, the writer settled on Paul’s greatest sermon being not the message he gave with his lips, but the message he gave with his life.

Though he was always being persecuted, slandered, and ridiculed, Paul continued to pursue the spreading of the Gospel, and personally loving those who would hear his message and even those who sought to thwart his message.

The New Testament declares that Paul continued to be bold in his God.

He could have grown weary, he could have doubted his call from God, or he could have surmised that he had somehow disqualified himself.  He could have watered down his message and made it more palatable to men, or he could have simply ceased his efforts all together and decided to live a quiet life. But instead, Paul continued to love people and to serve his God. He continued to pursue his missionary endeavors, courageously pushing forward and continuing to herald the good news of Christ crucified and resurrected for the sins of man because God loves man so very much.

St. Francis of Assisi said, so many years ago, “Preach Christ always, and sometimes use words.” Paul certainly fulfilled those words with the powerful message of the life he lived. May we likewise so live, that men are caused to stop and take notice of the lives we live.

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Each week, Pastor Frank sends several short, encouraging videos to his circle of friends.
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