Eyes To See

God is in the business of causing mankind to see the impossible. To see what is not yet. Seeing requires faith. Faith, not in things or people, but God. The belief that God can do the impossible is necessary. 

To build our faith, believers need to look to the Bible for confirmation. Some do not believe that God still performs miracles today. They believe miracles do not happen today, probably because they have never had the faith to believe God answers prayer. Asking God to intercede in the events of life requires faith. Trusting God to alter the routine procedures of life requires a developing relationship with Him. 

One doesn’t need to be a famous person to see divine intervention. An unnamed man was cutting wood with a borrowed ax. Somehow the ax head flew off the handle into the Jordan River. The young servant was devastated. So, the man of God threw a stick into the river, and the ax head floated to the top where the young man retrieved it. 

Also, in the same chapter of II Kings 6, the Syrian army had surrounded the village of Dothan overnight to where Elisha resided. When his servant went out the next morning, all he saw was the vast army surrounding their village. He was scared. So, Elisha prayed that the young man would see God’s chariots of fire protecting the town. He saw the Chariots of Fire.

Jonah’s background was unknown until the Lord told him to go to Nineveh to share the good news. Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh because of their reputation. Their ungodly, evil living and cruelty were notorious. Jonah couldn’t see their spiritual turn-around. All he could see was the present harmful condition. Even later, the conversion of 120,000 people didn’t make Jonah happy in the Lord.

If we try and honestly put forth the effort, God will not hold us accountable for their demise. But for trying, God will reward every effort on our part. Galatians 6:9 (HCSB) tells us, “We must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.” What an encouragement. We need to remind ourselves. Maybe even place a note in a prominent place to remind us often of God’s provision.

The New Testament tells us to look at the harvest fields of souls needing a relationship with Jesus. In Matthew 9:37, Luke 10:2, and John 4:35, it appears by the present spiritual condition of God’s children, no attempt to harvest the world will happen. Is it because we cannot see? Do not care? Refuse to try to obtain what God has put in front of us?

Do we still believe in the impossible? Do we trust the Bible? Our answer is yes. So, we do understand God can use us. Then we need to put our feet to our belief and trust him to do the impossible.

Running From God

God occasionally nudges us to do something specific for Him. He may impress a verse directly to our hearts. Scripture can jump off the page in our Bible reading. The words of a child may stab us in our hearts. Whatever method God uses, He gets our attention.

Jonah had one of those moments. God’s voice spoke plainly to Jonah. I want you to go to Nineveh and proclaim My Word. 

Nineveh was a wicked city. Its reputation was well known and about 600 miles from Joppa by sea and land. Instead of seeing the opportunity to be used by God, the fear of man took over.

In the New Testament, Saul of Tarsus (later known as Paul the apostle) was on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians. As the city came into sight, the Lord struck Saul with blindness. After three days, God instructed Ananias, a certain disciple, to go to the street called Straight. Upon arriving, he restored Saul’s sight.

God’s children need to know you cannot outrun God. He knows where you are regardless of where you hide. When you play hide and seek with God, you always lose. Think about this situation. The Lord knew Jonah was inside a fish. He also heard the prayer that Jonah offered.

What does it take for you and me to surrender to God? When the God of the universe wants His children to do something, He will enable you to accomplish the assignment. So, when Jonah surrendered his will to God’s will, the Lord delivered him to dry land. The Lord in His patience confirmed His assignment to Jonah—Go to Nineveh (a gentile city) and proclaim the Word of God.

Jonah kept saying to himself on to Nineveh, on to Nineveh, until he was three days from the heart of this city. Then Jonah began his God-given message. The city repented becoming believers, including the king.

What a revival. Did Jonah rejoice over this great accomplishment? No. Jonah decided to pout and sulk. Instead of being happy, he wanted to die.

God used Jonah to bring a revival, but he refused to enjoy the moment. Jonah could have instructed 150,000 new believers in how to live for God. Maybe Jonah wanted God to rain down fire and brimstone on the city as He did to Sodom and Gomorrah.

When our wonderful all-powerful God uses us in a way that does not satisfy our expectations, do we have the right to get mad at Him?  

We are to obey Him.

God is in charge, not man. 

Sometimes we get things mixed-up.

So, when the Lord gives you an extra nudge, be the obedient child of God and complete the task. Be thankful that The God of the universe chose you to be His instrument for service.

Something to ponder. If Jonah was happy that God used him, how would the last chapter of Jonah be written? The book abruptly ends with nothing else about Jonah.

What Does It Take?

The Bible gives a number of illustrations of God speaking to individuals. It could be an audible voice, like Paul on the Damascus Road. It was a once in a lifetime happening. Salvation is a once in an eternity event. It is unforgettable. 

Moses had a burning bush experience. A bush was burning, but not being consumed. So, Moses had to go and see. His curiosity led him to an encounter with God. After a lengthy conversation and lots of excuses, Moses finally said yes to God. The Lord truly is patient to allow any man to rationalize with Him before saying yes. The Lord does not mind an honest inquiry.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, questioned how she could have a child without knowing a man. Upon the explanation, she said yes. No more questions. A real example of faith in action.

The apostle Paul, known previously as Saul, had an encounter with the Lord on the Damascus Road. Jesus asked him why was he persecuting Him? To get Paul’s undivided attention, Paul was blind for three days. That had to make Paul think. After his sight returned, he served the Lord for years. Now think about the number of people who prayed that Paul might quit persecuting believers. There had to be thousands of unnamed Christians praying for him.

Fast forward 2000 years. Can you hear the Lord’s voice? Would you say that God doesn’t speak to people that way today? Maybe that’s your opinion, but I know differently. No, I’m not crazy, but I know how He gets my attention. He speaks to my heart. Let me tell you about some of the ways He speaks to me.

When the Lord speaks, it’s always with some divine intervention. Someone shows up at just the right time unannounced. The appearance may be in person, or someone felt the need to pray for you. Whatever your need, someone is interceding for you. God uses people to help other people. 

The overlooked thing about divine intervention is other people. Somewhere an individual or individuals are praying for you. They may be next door or hundreds, maybe thousands, of miles away, and you have no idea that they are praying for you. All you know is that you get your answer to your prayer. You thank God for his divine intervention.

Maybe the next answer to your prayer, you will take the time to say thank you to the God of heaven for speaking to someone to pray for you. Oh,! God, would you tell them I said thank you should be my prayer.

So, maybe when our incredible Lord speaks to your heart about a particular individual, you will stop whatever you are doing and offer a prayer for them. God will impress your heart with the person and their needs.

That is part of the law of sowing and reaping. We can all talk about it in eternity. What a delightful conversation that will be when we are reminiscing how our God got our attention to pray for someone else at a specific time.

Can I Follow My Own Advice?

This message is for me, but you can read it. You have my permission. Are you running from one situation to another? You put out one fire, and then you see another one burning. Grab the water hose and extinguish it. It is the mission of the day. By the time the fire equipment is in its proper place, there’s another one burning bigger than the last one.

Sound familiar? Probably. Too familiar. Huh.

Headaches every day, take a couple of pills and keep on going. How long do you keep going? Usually, till something gives. You. Them. Employment maybe. What does it take until you honor yourself? Yes, I said it. I’m guilty of all the above.

Is this some kind of scenario? No, just real life. It’s Sunday, went to church, came home, took some ibuprofen, and laid down for 15 minutes. It turned into 45 minutes. Now I’m going to be late for a meeting that is 45 minutes away. I got in the car and started the journey. One-third of the way there—headache still there.  Made a decision. Turned around and headed for home. Going to miss this meeting, the first one in 3 years, not feeling very well. Felt guilty, so I self-indulged. Stopped for ice cream, the first in weeks. It didn’t satisfy.

Reached home, picked up a book to read, and got my mind to relax. There it was—a section on relaxation. It reminded me not to feel guilty and enjoy some “self” time.

Even the God of creation took a day off. He rested on the 7th day (Genesis 2:2). If God set the example, wouldn’t it be wise if we do the same? It is a principle that many people do not follow until something happens. Reread the first part of this paragraph. Read it again and again and again. Did you get the message? I did. Now the question is, can I follow my own advice? I hope so.

I’ll let you know in a couple of months from now in a future blog.

Maybe it’s time you decide to follow God’s pattern, too. There will always be fires of situations burning. Let someone else grab the water hose and put out some of the fires.

The Fire In Heaven

Fire isn’t just for Hell. There will be a fire in Heaven. The height of its flame will be higher than we thought possible. The fuel for this fire is surprising to most Christians. It will be our works, not the actual tasks, but the motives behind them. I Corinthians 3:13 NKJV states the burning this way, “Each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.” There will be a revealing of the true intentions of our deeds. Why did we do certain things? Who were we trying to impress? Man, or God?

Part of the Christian’s eternal reward is an evaluation of our actions for Him. Were they really for Him or an attempt to look good in the eyes of our peers and friends? The ultimate test for us regarding our actions is fire—a visible, revealing truth concerning the motive for each of our deeds. Just like the purifying of precious metals—silver or gold—the smelting pot reveals impurities. After the removal of the contaminants, the real, pure metal is brilliant. The fire in heaven removes – burns – all the contaminates of man’s actions. The spotless remains are the rewards that Jesus will bless.

This evaluation will take place at the Judgment Seat of Christ in Heaven (II Corinthians 5:10). It is there that each person will receive their “just” rewards. Those that have been tried by fire.

How big will your fire be? The size of a match, a campfire, or a bonfire. Maybe it would be good for each believer to do some self-inspection of our lives and contemplate our motives for some of our actions. Are they to look good to friends, co-workers, etc? Hopefully, we do right because that is what God wants us to do, all the time. Even when it may hurt us. It’s the eternal picture that we must keep in mind. We certainly do not want to see a bonfire in Heaven, burning up our deeds.

Unnoticed

Some people never seem to stand out in a crowd. They’re the quiet ones. Hardly ever noticed, yet, still there. They are part of the group, but seemingly not part of the crowd. Society calls them introverts. They’re usually the silent ones and often the smarter ones.

Extroverts are quite the opposite, always talking, laughing, and expressing their opinions, no matter what. They know everything about everything and everybody. When they open their mouths, they usually reveal something about their intelligence or lack thereof. Extroverts, although prominent, have a way of saying too much sometimes. They may lack compassion at times, so they will tell you what they think regardless.

Love is an introverted characteristic. Sometimes affection is better communicated without words than with a lot of words—actions best express love. Many times, their efforts go unnoticed, but at least they are sincere, and this sincerity is always there. The Apostle Peter spoke at times before he thought. He was the extrovert of the disciples and their spokesman. Sometimes he put his foot in his mouth. Words are just words, but the motive behind the words reveals the love of the one acting. 

Real love requires a commitment that reveals sincerity and genuine, honest devotion. Christ commands husbands to love their wives. Interestingly, the Bible talks about the man doing the loving, but not the wife (Ephesians 5:25a). 

Christ demonstrated His love of the church by giving Himself for it (Ephesians 5:25b), laying down His life for it.

The New Testament church shows their Christian love in their worship and actions.

We celebrate Valentine’s Day in February. It’s a day that we honor those that we love. Husbands and boyfriends usually give cards, candy, flowers, and/or special dinners in an expression of their outward love. That’s the extrovertedness in us.

The introvert, however, does the thoughtful, little things. Most of the time, they go unnoticed, but they are the actions that are valued because they reveal the heart. It’s those thoughts that build relationships beyond what words can describe.

Most introverts live in the shadows of others that go unnoticed by the crowds. It’s after they’re no longer with us that the realization becomes evident. We will miss their thoughtfulness. The quiet little things that went unnoticed are appreciated later. 

It’s Past Time, Really Late

It has been one of those weeks. Busy, crazy busy, or maybe it was busy crazy.

Where did the week go? Almost everything fell into place. However, one thing fell through the cracks. I’m doing it now, trying to play catch up. 

Have you ever been behind? 

Sure, you have. Everyone has.

So, what did you do? I just decided to relax. I watched an old movie on TV. One of those sweet tear-jerker ones. The kind where the main character gets stepped on all through life. Finally, the hero comes to the rescue.

Life has seasons where things do not always work out. Some people never have a saint come marching in. Life seems to beat them up every way they turn.

How does one keep going? 

As a wannabe published author, I keep pitching my book proposal. So far, I am batting a 1,000–a perfect score. I have been turned down by every editor and agent. Should I quit? Not a chance.

There is a mission and purpose to my madness. To be obedient to my Lord. 

I was even told by one editor, recently, not to use the word “Lord” in my writing. Her reasoning was the millennials think that lord refers to the “Lord of the Rings.” My assurance comes from scripture. “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62 NKJV). What does that mean? To me, simply do not quit.

God’s family has lots of people who have become discouraged and dropped out of sight. That’s a shame. Good people have let cruel people become strong discouragers.

But God’s grace is always enough. He allows second, third, and fourth chances. He is understanding. That is the way He is. Maybe it is time to let the God of the universe take care of things.

Where Do You Start

Every time a person speaks to an audience, they must decide where to start. What are the introductory remarks? Sometimes that is a difficult decision. There are times a mental debate occurs to find the ideal starting place. Most individuals begin with thorough, thoughtful planning of the content to be presented. As the presentation progresses, the emotions of the situation can seize control and unplanned words just pour out.

When you were young, you may have suffered consequences for not telling the truth. I did, how about you? My parents wanted to build moral character in me. When a person comes into God’s family, their personality begins to change by their ability to be truthful. Everything rises and falls on that principle.

So, what does the Lord have to say concerning starting? Three scriptures come to mind with the same premise. All of them are in the book of John. First, in 1:14, “And the Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us . . .full of grace and truth.” Then in verse 17, “But grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” Finally, in 14:6, “Jesus said to him (Thomas), I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Jesus emphasized the truth. This principle is foundational to every society.

One of the great things about truth is you do not have to remember the lie you told. When a person lies to hide the fact, any fact, sooner or later, they will forget the lie that they said. Or maybe they tell so many lies they get confused about what is the truth and what is the lie. That’s a sad fact in which some people get trapped; however, there are people who fall into that category. 

How does this personality trait impact society? When the truth is not there, doubt is. If uncertainty is present, then trust is absent. Honesty is the substance on which everything stands. Homes, churches, and governments also thrive on that standard. Without this foundation, all parts of society eventually crumble. It begins with an obscure crack that keeps getting bigger and bigger. Then, it becomes visible, sometime in the future, without a remedy.

It’s a subtle thing, but do you remember who told the first lie? Satan, serpent, Lucifer whatever you call him. Scripture calls him the father of lies (John 8:44). Too many people get caught up in his deception. They always hurt themselves by doing so. It is a hard lesson to learn, and there are times the consequences are expensive in more ways than one.

So, where do you start? The answer will always be the truth. Please do not let that truth escape you.

Doing What Is Right

Most children were taught from an early age to do what is right. The parental guiding hand wanted to instill integrity into the child. Part of the process involved was to honor their parents. That learning endeavor began by doing what was said. Soon started a struggle between the child and authority. Children have always wanted their way, and insightful parents wanted the best for their children.

God has always blessed the person who is not deceitful. The Lord honors truth. He always has and He always will. Jesus said to him, “I am . . .the truth” (John 14:6). When a person comes to the Lord and experiences salvation, they will change. II Corinthians 5:17 calls the redeemed “new creatures.” What does that mean? It means the character of the new believer now can become more like Christ. The new man can now put the old ways behind him and start a fresh, clean life.

The original helpers for the church in Jerusalem were men of respected reputation and wisdom (Acts 6:3). These men were used by the Holy Spirit to advance the work of the Lord. This mature spiritual journey develops slowly for most individuals. The lifelong development of a Christian is a process, slow at times, and rapid at others, depending upon our receptivity.

There are times we stumble. Other times we fall flat on our face. How one moves forward is up to him. Integrity is the guide. Trusting in Jesus and depending on the Holy Spirit’s guidance, will make the journey sweeter.

John Mark, an apprentice of Paul and Silas, offended Paul by quitting on a missionary adventure (Acts 15:37,38). Later, Mark, as he is better known, had re-established his testimony as being dependable. Paul recognized that and then requested Mark’s presence in II Timothy 4:11. Mark somehow became useful for the ministry. God used John Mark to write part of the New Testament, the book of Mark. God would not have used Mark if he was still a quitter.

Why the above example? Let me explain. Regardless of your past faithfulness or lack thereof, there is still hope for you. God can encourage you, use you, and bless you for His glory.

God always desires what is best for each of His children, regardless of the past. Do not let a haunting memory continue to discourage you. If Mark can re-establish his usefulness for God, so can any other sincere believer, including you, to do what is right in His sight.

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