Most every day, I spend time listening to issues people are facing and first provide a caring and empathetic presence. People often want someone to listen and care before they want advice. The resounding theme I find with people is that they are not just experiencing one difficulty. They are often being bombarded by multiple problems. Many feel there is no end in sight.
We have all been there. I am facing some circumstances right now where I am praying for miracles. I know that there is no way there will be a breakthrough apart from the power of God doing the impossible. However, I am clinging to His promises and power.
For those who feel like you are being bombarded, here are some verses from the Bible to help you know that God will bring you to the other side better than you were before.
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 17 ESV).
Notice there is a difference between the way we feel and reality. We must cling to the reality of who God is and what He is doing. Our feelings will doom us. We need to choose God’s perspective and await a miracle. He will bombard hell on our behalf. Glory to God!!!!!
For many years, I have heard about things that would disqualify someone from doing something in Christian service. I believe that I have seen this taken to an extreme in Christian circles. I’ve seen churches allow a sexually promiscuous teenager (a non-member I might add) to represent the church while denying someone who missed some services. They would brag about having high standards for those who represented the church in this way while those standards were extremely and politically inconsistent. I have come to the conclusion that whether one is disqualified all depends on how much political clout he or she has within a church, denomination, or religious circle.
Why didn’t God disqualify Abraham from being the father of many nations when Abraham stepped out of God’s plan to have a child with Hagar? Why did God call David (an adulterer and one responsible for murder) a “man after God’s own heart”? Why did God use Peter to preach in the book of Acts and lead thousands to saving faith when he denied Jesus, thus leading to His crucifixion? Shall I continue?
This post isn’t in any way condoning consistently blatant sinful behavior. Those of us who continually with our fist in the face of God sin without caring bring shame to His name. But what about those who genuinely repent (turn their back against their wrongdoing)? Somewhere, with Abraham, David, and Peter, I see God demonstrating some grace. They may have messed up royally, but they got back up and God continued to use them.
For those of you who are quick to disqualify someone from Christian service for one sinful act committed 55 years ago (definitely sounds like politics), I ask you to reconsider. I would hate for you to have to stumble royally in order to get a glimpse of what God’s grace truly is. So many things are often left undone for Christ because someone says that some man or woman can’t do anything for Jesus anymore. You and I will have to answer for that. This is something worth pondering.
I know that many of you may be wondering where I’m going with this. Some may think I’m going political or addressing some major concern of the day. This is actually pretty general.
Are you afraid of something? Failure? Poverty? Making a bad decision? Disappointing someone you love? Many of us have fears if we are honest. We struggle with faith, believing that God will fulfill His promises. We worry because it is second nature to us, and we often allow fear to paralyze us rather than motivate us to believe God for the miraculous.
This post stems from my own personal fears. God is doing and has been doing something in my life for some time. I must be honest and say I’m afraid of failure. It would be a giant leap of faith, and the fears are numerous. I’m afraid I may get ahead of God and force something that may not be in His timing.
I know I am not the only one who is facing fears. What am I doing now and what would I recommend to you? Pray through the fear! Test God’s hand! Praise through the fear! It aligns your perspective. Push through until you see the answer! It may happen differently than you expected, but you will gain a spiritual victory on the other side of this.
Remember, my friend, that God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Unhealthy fear is always a tool of the devil to keep you living your mediocre, mundane life. God is calling you to an adventure of obedience. Are you willing to follow Him all the way?
Some of you have been praying for me for some time about some decisions I am facing. I invited my blogging family to join me in praying yesterday. Today, God made it clear about a particular issue. I wish I could say that the conclusion was easy, but I had to look at the broad spectrum and consider many factors. In the days ahead, I will continue to pray through and navigate my place in the work of the Lord.
I want to say thank you to all those who have encouraged me and prayed for me during this time. To all who read, remember that the high road isn’t the easy road. I want to challenge every one of you to be men and women of principle. Sometimes, we have to recognize our own limitations in the process. These decisions may not be easy, but God honors the right thing. In the end, I want to know that I have done my best to please Him.
After a year of minimal ministry opportunity, I have been pretty busy for the last two months. I preached more since September than I did in the last year. Because of this, I have a few requests for my praying friends.
First, I have a potential opportunity for which I have no clear direction from God yet. I want to make sure it is a clear call from God before I set out to do anything.
Second, I have a short-term opportunity that would require the finances to do this. I know this could not happen beyond the miracle provision of God.
I never want to take a step without a clear call from God, yet I don’t want to limit God as to what He may be doing. God is bigger than I am and can guide and provide in ways that I could never imagine. Would you pray with me and for me? Thank you!
“God convicts you of your sin by reminding you of your righteousness…because Jesus is your righteousness.” – Steven Furtick
Many people struggle to grasp this idea of imputed righteousness. You may ask what I mean by imputed righteousness. When the believing sinner turns from sin and turns to Christ, he or she receives Christ’s righteousness.
Does that mean the believer always acts righteous? No! He or she still has free will to make good or bad choices. It does mean that positionally you have the righteousness of Christ applied to you.
Where would I get such an idea? The Bible! James 2:23 says that Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Second Corinthians 5:21 says that Christ knew no sin but became sin (took our sin on the cross) “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
So, it is His applied righteousness that preserves your salvation. PLEASE NOTE: THIS DOES NOT GIVE YOU A LICENSE TO LIVE LIKE YOU WANT UNTIL YOU DIE! Grace is NEVER a license to sin! Christ freed us to obey Him! So, my friend, walk in that righteousness! You no longer call your own shots. Jesus is your “commander in chief”. You are His to do His will and enjoy the satisfaction of pleasing Him all the days of your life.
I’m laughing hysterically at this internally because Pharisees always make themselves known. You may ask what a Pharisee is. Pharisees were the “holier than thou” religious people of Jesus’ day, and we still have them. They do all the right things on the outside, but their hearts are far from God. They will judge you because you don’t act like them.
Pharisees continue to infect the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. They may be deacons, pastors, denominational leaders, or just people who faithfully take up space in a pew and wish someone else had been there to hear the message.
How do we deal with these Pharisees? I find it best to answer them with love and walk on. They are going to talk about you or someone else anyway, so let them flap their lips. Pray that they will experience a real relationship with Christ rather than one they fake. Pharisees can change. The devil has them blinded by religion. Religion has sent and will continue to send many to hell. A relationship with Christ will give you peace with God and an eternal home in Heaven. Many Pharisees will find themselves in hell because they thought they were good enough for not doing certain things on a checklist. Those who have a relationship with Christ will go to Heaven because Christ’s righteousness has been applied to them. Religion enslaves. Christ sets you free from religion. I choose Christ!
If you know me, you might be saying “Which problem, Matthew?” We all have our faults. There is one, however, that I think many of us share – we can extend love and grace to a lot of people but certain ones push us over the edge continually.
I wish I could say that the simple solution would be to stop it, fake it, etc. I know many Christians who would be quick to tell you to just do it whether it is fake or not. I have learned to be civil, but I won’t fake what should be a genuine love for people for whom Christ died. I will tell you to walk closely with Christ so that His love becomes an overflow of your relationship with Him.
Our churches, sadly, are filled with outward conformists who know how to fake the Christian life. I wouldn’t give two cents for that mockery of Christianity. Give me someone who is daily being changed by Jesus Christ and real enough to admit they aren’t perfect but truly want to be like Jesus.
It’s time to be real about where we fall short. But we can’t just admit it and plan to stay the same. Let’s aim together to become so much like Jesus (which only comes when we yield to His Spirit) that we can love the people who hurt us the most and honestly have no animosity toward them! Let’s strive to be like Jesus while still being real!
October is the month that has been set aside as “Pastor Appreciation Month”. However, I hope that all of you who attend church or have someone who is a pastor to you receives appreciation throughout the year. Many pastors have no one to call pastor, so it is up to you to be that refresher in your pastor’s life.
Since I have not been in vocational ministry, I went without a pastor for several months. This summer, God gave me a wonderful pastor. I want to give a shoutout to Josh Ratliff and his wife, Valerie. They have been wonderful to me and my family and supportive in what God is doing in our lives. I know that our entire church family would give me an “Amen” on this.
Show your appreciation to your pastor AND his family. His family is often forgotten and ostracized. Many of them have moved miles away from family, and you are the only family they have. Send a text, invite them to lunch without talking about church or problems, etc. Don’t leave them on a deserted island thinking that Jesus will be their only Friend. Let them know they are loved and valued.
After I returned from vacation, everything was in high gear (and still is). I had 4 new hospice patients to see at various ends of the earth. Our patients are in their homes, so I do a good bit of traveling. Today, I was in high gear again. However, God slowed me down for a minute.
As I was leaving a visit with a patient, I stepped out and felt a cool breeze that forced me to stop and recognize the glory of God in the midst of what I was doing. I leaned my head back for a moment just to enjoy what God was doing through nature.
The hearts of many of us in our area were shaken this week when a 14 year old shot a teacher and 2 students in a nearby elementary school. This was on the heels of crime and riots in Charlotte, NC which is within a few hours of us. Many also are worried about our national situation as we will be electing a president.
Through all this tragedy, God still whispers and send the wind to remind us that He is still in control. Don’t be so busy that you miss God’s gentle reminders!