Archive for the ‘trouble’ Category

Christmas Crime

Christmas With the Kranks

After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the LORD or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.
-Judges 2:10 (NLT)
This holiday season has disturbed me a bit.  No, it’s not because me artificial tree looks like it needs a stimulus package or recovery funds.  I can deal with that.  It’s not even because we have Christmas on a tight budget this year (and every year).  It certainly isn’t due to the fact that my Christmas savings account was empty before I had purchased a single gift for anyone.  None of that is a big deal to me.

The Ice Harvest

These holiday criminals have me puzzled.  They prey upon households that tend to be the people who really don’t deserve to be robbed blind if there ever such a list existed.  For instance, a woman from our church and a family friend spent much of early December helping prepare for our church’s Angel Tree celebration for the children of the incarcerated through Prison Fellowship.  Yet, her house was robbed and ransacked just days before Christmas.  My neighbor who never fails to speak or wave and who always seems to be ready to offer a cheery smile was robbed the day before Christmas as I grumbled about losing a gift card for one of my family members.  Here I was complaining about the $30 card I had lost, but this man and his family were wiped out in an instant.

Trapped in Paradise
It is some sad commentary on us when we think that we are immune to Christmas crimeLook at the world today.  Crime may be on an upswing due to hard times and other factors.  It’s unreal out here with the economy and the job market.  However, if we do not see the reality that is before our eyes, we may end up wondering the worst and missing our own miracles.
Home Alone
Imagine the worst and expect the worst.  It comes out like that.  It is like Murphy’s Law or a self-fulfilling prophecy.  We tend to live up to the expectations of others and we live out our own expectations of ourselves. Don’t let bad things run around in your mind to the point that you embrace cynicism and negativity as part of your outlook on daily living, even the holidays.  Embrace the miracle of what you have been given today and in this moment.  The miracle is that God allowed you to see or hear about it.  Do something about it.  Do something special for the people who had to deal with it.  Take full advantage of today.  Make the most of every God-given opportunity today.
What kept it from being your house? Grace.  Why wasn’t it you? Goodness (His, not mine).  Who could have prevented it from happening to them? No one but God.  Then, after all of that line of questioning, you still have to ask: Why did He allow it to happen to them?
I suspect it was done so the Lord could  use you somehow in some special way for someone else.

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But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works. – Psalm 73:28 (NASB)

 This psalm speaks of man’s lack of understanding the things observed and obsessed over in this life.  The pressure of life is what emerges from the psalm when the writer speaks of being “plagued with problems all day” in verse 14.  Pressure can cause a lot of things to happen with us and within us. Does your pressure lead to your praise of the Lord?

Being under pressure can cause us to stress, strain and struggle.  We can seem to barely make it.  Some of us just don’t make it.  The pressure seems too great to keep going on and dealing with it.  Pressure can be positive when it produces something beneficial.

Yes, I am serious.

When your pressure produces praise, there are some direct benefits as a result of such pressure.  Am I right? Look at the psalm again.

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. – verse 23, NIV

You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny– verse 24, NLT

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. – verse 26, NIV

 . . .I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.- verse 28, ESV

What does your pressure produce?

Pain or promise?

Pity or praise?

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Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials– James 1:2 (NASB)

Can you consider your troubles as times to boost your joy? James thought so.  Better yet, James believed so.  He said it to other believers about what they endure as a “testing” of their faith.  James spoke of enduring such trials, exercising patience and evolving into spiritual maturity (James 1:2-4).  According to James, we should look at such times as times of hope “wanting for nothing.”

Think of it differently.  Look at your troubles and trying times differently.  See them as growth opportunities.  Some will call them life lessons.  Others will consider them moments of truth. Don’t get caught up on what they may be called.  Get into understanding that what you experience is to lead to your spiritual growth , eventually making you more mature in your faith.

Do mature Christians always face their trials in such a way? That may not necessarily be the case.  Look at Moses when the people of God tried his patience.  He did not just speak to the rock.  He struck the rock.  David, a man after God’s own heart, was upset when his friend was struck down for touching the ark of God.  John the Baptist sent word to Jesus from jail, questioning if He was the Anointed One or not.  Even Jesus said that there would never be one like John the Baptist, but he questioned the Messiah when he faced his pending execution.  Do mature Christians always face their trials in such a way? The Bible tells us: no.

The Bible is in our hands and is to be in our hearts.  It should serve as a reminder to us of how we should conduct ourselves as we seek to grow in our faith.  Some tragedies simply rock our world and throw us off a bit.  We need to grow.  We grow as we go through things in life that help build up our faith.  James’ instructions were clear.  Let it grow you as you face various trials in life, allowing your spiritual maturity to grow and shine.

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In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.

What can mortal man do to me?- Psalm 56:4 (NIV)


David offers an inspiring claim in the midst of misery. David was under attack. Yet, his poetic praise states: I will not be afraid. The man was on the run and on the edge, but he stood firm in faith and faced his enemies as he trusted God and His Word.

David expressed that his enemies were after him “all day long” (Ps. 56:1-2, 5). Such a man spoke out about seeking God, even when he became afraid as others sought to slander and slay him daily. David was a hunted and wanted man, even in Gath. He pretended to be mad in 1 Samuel 21:10-15 in order to preserve himself. Look at Psalm 34 to gain more insight into how David was still able to hold on to his faith despite the forces working against him and causing him to flee for his life.

The manhunt of the mad man known as David didn’t cause David to lose his faith. Look closely at the things that push us to the edge and drive us nearly out of our minds. Think clearly about how you handle such matters and situations. Do you trust God in the midst of all of the mess? Do you maintain your faith when your world seems to get weird and go wild? Consider what the world wants you to do and realize that you do not have to react and respond like the world may want you to act. The Lord desires you to trust Him, even if you have to learn while running.

If the world makes you want to run away, be sure to run into the open and loving arms of the Lord our God.

When I am afraid, I will trust in you.- Psalm 56:3 (NIV)

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From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him.- Proverbs 12:14 (NIV)

There is either a reward or punishment for what we say and do. We can either be blessed or burdened by what we say or do. It is up to us. We make the choice. We can’t get mad at God and call Him unfair or unjust. We have to realize that it is on us.  We are the ones who need to shape up.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue; And they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.- Proverbs 18:21 (ASV)

We need to be mindful of what we say and what we do.  We can give life or cause death by the power of our tongues.  We can give birth to something or kill it before it has a chance to grow.  We have to keep this in mind.

Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue Keepeth his soul from troubles.- Proverbs 21:23 (ASV)

Watching what you say and do can keep you out of trouble.  I remember people saying that your mouth could get you into more trouble than your behind could take.  That is a real life lesson when you discover that what you say has an impact on others and can come back to haunt you.  Have you ever shared someone else’s secret with others? Have you ever said something about someone, only to have that someone confront you about it? It’s real.  It can cause real trouble for you.

 9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?- James 3:9-11 (NIV)

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Patience is more than endurance.– Oswald Chambers

Knowing that the proving of your faith worketh patience.- James 1:3 (ASV)

Patience can present a problem. Patience becomes a problem when it leads to pitfalls. You have to be careful to exercise patience to the right degree in the right situation.

Do not allow your patience to turn into:

  • Passivity
  • Pessimism
  • Procrastination

Keep your patience in proper perspective.  Do not allow your patience become a pitfall that lets you fall into a problematic trap.

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… but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.- 1 Samuel 30:6 (KJV)
Leadership is lonely business. David knew that firsthand. He had personal knowledge of what toll leadership could take on a man. There was an issue at hand, and the situation caused a stir among the camp, leaving David as the King James Version states distressed. David sought the Lord.
You may find yourself in a similar leadership position. The people are up in arms about something. They are doing anything but singing your praises. You wish you could cut your losses and leave them all behind, but that would not demonstrate genuine leadership. You, much like David, will need to encourage yourself in the Lord your God.
You will need to do something. You will need to do something on your own as a leader.
You are going to need to:

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It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.
– Ps. 119:71 (NASB)

 Trouble comes your way.  You may not have done anything in particular.  Trouble found its way to you and now you have to deal with it.  That’s part of how things go down in life.  You may or may not be the cause of your trouble, but it’s right there in your face with your name on it in bold.

The writer of this psalm helps to understand how some people have to be broken down in order to be built up.  Some have to be humbled before they are ready to accept help.  Others  have to be hindered in order to just stop where they are and see that they are in need of help.  In other cases, some folks have to be hurt before they can ever be ready to receive anything that resembles help.  You may not have experienced all of these different changes before God stepped in on your behalf, but I would suspect that you have at least experienced one of them.  Let’s be honest about that.

The issue isn’t whether you had to experience any of these.  The true burning issue is whether you learned the lesson or not.  The psalmist said that his affliction provided an opportunity to learn God’s statutes, His decrees, His Law.  We are not told whether he went into deep, secluded personal Bible study and devotional time during this period or whether he meditated on what he could recall of the Law of the Lord, but it does say that he learned God’s statutes at this point due to being afflicted.  Did you learn your lesson? Did it drive you to seek out His Word? Did it lead you to Him? Check the record today.

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“God is more eager to answer than we are to ask.”- Smith Wigglesworth

We answers.  Our hearts cry out for answers.  We wish to make sense of all that we experience in this world, so we cry out to God, seeking an answer from the Most High God to all that we experience here on earth.  Yet, we fail to realize that God has already answered most of questions in the Book.  He has carefully crafted and sketched a blueprint for our living, preparing us through earthly life for eternal life.

46If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.

47But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

John 5:46-47 (NIV)

The Book speaks about a relationship with God.  In Genesis, God introduces and establishes the relationship and by chapter 3 things occur and sin comes into play causes an issue within the relationship.  The remainder of the Book continues on how the relationship plays out with this barrier of sin.  Yet, it never really seems fully taken care of by the offerings of bulls and lambs.  A prophecy keeps coming up with Joel, Isaiah, and others demonstrating how One must come to take away the sins of the world, the Lamb of God who will serve as the ultimate sacrifice.  Then, after Malachi, things switch gears.  Jesus arrives and sets change in motion, bringing the Good News of God and offering life more abundantly through His personal sacrifice.

The answer that many of us are awaiting has already arrived and arisen.  The answer is Jesus.  Jesus is the adequate answer.  Jesus is the appropriate answer.  All of those questions that we have should not be placed in  Jesus’ hands.  If you recall the story, His hands have holes in them from when He suffered for our sinsPut your burdens in His trust.  Most importantly, Jesus is the available answer.  He was made available through the love of God for the whole world.  He is available because He sticks closer than a brother.  He is available today through belief and faith.  He is the answer.

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.- 1 Peter 5:7 (KJV)

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We often recruit people who are like us. It just seems natural. We draw peolpe who look or dress like us. In fact, we really get those people who share our personal opinions and viewpoints. They say great minds think alike, but that means little when these minds are geared towards selfish gain.
Look at recruitment in the New Testament. In John, Andrew and John are led to Jesus by John the Baptist, essentially Jesus’ cousin. Andrew gets Simon Peter his brother and brings him to Jesus. Nathanael tries to get one of his homeboys to go and meet Jesus. Based upon this type of example, we can learn to recruit through relationships.

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