God Uses Nobodies

November 30, 2016 | 2 comments | Bible Studies | Blog | Devotions
God Uses Nobodies

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What happens when we read between the lines of Scripture?  We find God changing impossible circumstances through unlikely heroes.  Yes, many people know of the big Bible stories.  But the Bible is filled with several stories of “nobodies” that did significant things for God.

Take, for instance, the account of one of Israel’s greatest leaders: Moses.  He is widely known for leading the nation of Israel out of Egyptian slavery.  But his story would have never happened had it not been for a few others that protected him and propelled him forward when he was young.

Moses was born into turbulent times for the enslaved Jewish people.  We usually think of baby Moses being pulled out of the basket boat by Pharaoh’s daughter.  That’s the Reader’s Digest version.  But there’s a lot more to the story than that.

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When Things Don’t Work Out…

June 23, 2016 | 2 comments | Blog | Devotions

I recently received a message from a former Bible School student concerning hearing the voice of God and discerning His leading.  She was struggling with something she felt God had called her to do, even though it went against conventional wisdom and the advice of godly friends.  What should you do when you believe you’re following God’s leading but it’s not working out?  How should you handle this kind of disappointment?  This is part of the reply I sent her…

In answer to your question I believe your pastors will be able to help you process this decision and give you wisdom in dealing with your situation. They know more of your history and will do a better job of connecting the dots in your life than I can.

You said that God told you to take on this project. It’s always hard for a pastor to give counsel when someone says, “God told me so.” When someone says that to me I don’t really have any other choice than to say, “Stick with what God told you,” even if I believe it’s not wise. I will often add something like: “Just make sure it’s God that said it.” If you’re not sure, you should probably go with common sense. And if good, godly friends that know you well are encouraging you to go the opposite direction, you should probably pay attention. (Proverbs 11:14 & 15:22) I do know that fear is your enemy… don’t give in!

I wish I knew what to tell you… I can tell you that God is faithful, even when it doesn’t seem like it. God’s grace and provision are big enough for us, even if we do make a mistake, although this may bring needless struggles. He knows our situation and just how to take care of us.

Just as a word of encouragement… when the seas were rough Peter got out of the boat and started walking on the water to Jesus. He didn’t make it all the way. But as he “began to sink” (?!?!?!) Jesus reached out and took his hand and brought him back to the boat.

We don’t know if he took just a few steps or many. What we do know is that even though Peter didn’t “successfully” complete his mission of walking on the water to Jesus, he was rescued before he went fully under the water. And because he was willing to get out of the boat, Peter is the only other human to know what it feels like to walk on the water.

I believe God is still working behind the scenes here, in one way or another. It may be time to throw in the towel, or you may need to keep fighting. God knows the answer… and He’s not holding out on you. James 1:5 says wisdom is only a prayer away.

You definitely need to quiet yourself enough to hear clearly, but know that He’s always speaking to you. He may actually be wanting to talk to you about a different area when you are all concerned about this one. It may be that you need to correct another area before this one works out. Only He knows. But your pastors will help you work through that process.

What do you do when you don’t know what to do? Add your thoughts in the comments below…

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One Day Can Change Everything!

June 8, 2016 | No comments | Blog | Devotions

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I have a quick word of encouragement for you today.

In our Bible study a couple of nights ago we looked at the story in Acts 3 of when the apostles Peter and John encountered a disabled man.  It starts off like this…

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. - Acts 3:1-2

In first century Palestine a man with such disabilities was forced to beg in order to bring in enough money to not be a burden on his family.  It was a miserable existence, considering that no special accommodations were made within the society to take care of such a man.  Actually, in that Jewish society such a man was considered cursed by God.  First century Jews, however, were instructed to be generous to the poor and needy.  Therefore a disabled man was pigeonholed into a life of begging.

This man was laid “every day” at the Beautiful gate to beg.  It was his existence day in and day out.  And there was no hope for a change.

But notice what happens when “one day” Peter and John walk past him on their way to prayer.  They had probably seen this man before.  They may have even given him an offering as they entered the Temple gate.  But this day was different.  God was up to something.

The following verses tell us Peter and John got the man’s attention.  Peter spoke to the man, then pulled him up to his (formerly crippled) feet.  The man’s feet and ankles were instantly strengthened, and he started walking and leaping and praising God.  What’s crazy about this story is that he instantly knew how to walk.  There was NO therapy to teach him how to walk.  Now THAT’S a miracle!

We took two points from this story:

* In one day your every day can change. The disabled man’s every day experience was changed in one day!  No matter what you are going through; no matter what you are praying for; no matter how bad it looks… in one day your every day can change!

* God wants to use you to turn someone’s “every day” into a “one day experience.” Peter and John made themselves available to God.  He used them to bring healing to a disabled man.  We need to make ourselves available for God to use us as well.  He is looking for people to cooperate with Him to bring healing, comfort, peace and restoration into broken lives.  It’s up to us to cooperate!

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You’ll find what you’re looking for

April 28, 2016 | No comments | Blog

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Quick thought for the day: When you go to church you’ll find what you’re looking for.  Let’s see how this plays out in the life of Jesus…

Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath. - Mark 3:1-2

I encourage you to read the entire story in Mark 3.  Jesus is preparing to teach His followers in a Synagogue (religious meeting place in the Jewish countryside).  As the crowd comes together a man with a crippled (withered) hand shows up.  There is also a group of His enemies watching the scene, just waiting for Jesus to make a mistake so they can accuse Him.  This event takes place on the Sabbath Day.  If you’re unfamiliar with that term, Jewish Law forbids working on the Sabbath (Saturday).  The religious leaders considered healing someone to be “work,” so it was outlawed on the Sabbath.  And since Jesus healed people wherever and He went, this was His enemies’ opportunity to catch Him breaking the law.

Notice the different motivations and the outcomes in this event:

  • Man with a crippled hand – He was desperate to be healed… and he got it!
  • Jesus’ enemies – They were looking to catch Him healing on the Sabbath.  They also got it!  To them this disabled man was simply a means to an end.  To Jesus he represented an opportunity to display God’s love for people.
  • Jesus – He came in order to be used by God… and He was!  His servant heart was the catalyst for God’s miracle working power.
  • Crowd – This group followed Him from place to place, wowed by the miracles and enjoying His teaching.  A number of them were there to watch the show – to see if Jesus would do anything spectacular.  They also got what they came for – a show.

We can’t afford to come to church with the crowd mentality.  Or with that of Jesus’ enemies.  Both groups came that day with ulterior motives.  And they found exactly what they were looking for.  It will be the same with us if we don’t focus on the right things.  We can’t afford to let something as precious as a church service – intended to be a communal celebration of the goodness of God - be reduced to merely a good show, or to something we pick apart with a critical attitude.  And even worse, if we come not expecting to find anything, we’ll also get exactly what we came for.  We’ll walk away unchanged.

The only person that came away from this event changed was the man that was healed.  And Jesus got the opportunity to bring glory to God by doing His will.

We need to come to church with an open heart, desperate for an experience with the Master.  And we need to come with open hands – ready to give and serve.  If we do, we’ll find exactly what we’re looking for!

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God’s Personal Visit

February 21, 2016 | No comments | Articles | Blog | Missions
missed opportunity

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I was going over some old notes I’d made from my daily quiet times (Bible reading), when I came across a note from 2008.  I was reminded of a statement Jesus’ made in Luke 19, and how it really impacted me:

“…all this because you didn’t recognize and welcome God’s personal visit.” – Luke 19:44 MSG

In context this is talking about the destruction of Jerusalem because the Jewish people failed to recognize and embrace Jesus and His mission.  But the application for my life was clear: You don’t want to miss a God appointment!

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