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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Just Praise God Anyway

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NIV)
17  Though the fig tree does not bud 
and there are no grapes on the vines, 
though the olive crop fails 
and the fields produce no food, 
though there are no sheep in the pen 
and no cattle in the stalls,
18  yet I will rejoice in the LORD
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
19  The Sovereign LORD is my strength; 
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, 
he enables me to go on the heights. 

Things don't aways go badly. Sometimes they go so badly that bad is no longer an adequate description. The unexpected bill joins forces with the car breaking down, the washing machine water supply hose breaks and floods the downstairs of the house and the heater just won't come on. It is at this time that your boss tells you that your job is in jeopardy and your daughter reveals a tattoo from a parlor that has been known to spread hepatitis. Meanwhile it is suspected that your next door neighbor may have a deadly communicable disease which he received while on a mission trip to West Africa.

Do you still praise the Lord?

Extremely tough times do not determine what we believe. They prove it.

There was a time I read those verses almost every day. I was spending increasing amounts of time working in the ministry. The ministry was failing. I remember working three weeks without a day off. I worked seven days a week for at least ten hours each day. I took one day off and a lady from the church called me to ask why I wasn't at work. She may never know that she was just an agent of Satan. 

I couldn't get my head above water no matter how hard I tried and I read those verses and shouted, " Yes, Lord, I will praise you! No matter what, I will praise you!" I was very unsure of that last statement. I didn't really know if I would praise Him tomorrow. 

I hung on those last words: The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights." I knew that I was in the lows but if I was ever to get to the heights I would need His strength and sovereignty. So, I praise Him for a future I could not see but knew was coming.

No one escapes bad times. They always seem to last forever. They claim that we are doomed. Yet, those who know the Lord also know that He is sovereign and will give us strength to carry on through the bad times. He will make us as those who will climb the heights. The days of woe do not last for the Lord of glory has His hands on every one of them and limits their ability to cut us off from Him.

So, just praise the Lord, anyway. The bad days have a short shelf life.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Believing Jezebel

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Believing Jezebel

1 Kings 19:1-3 (ESV) 
 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword.  Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.”
 Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. 

Elijah was a great prophet. He had seen God do miracles. He had believed God and confronted Ahab. He had the prophets of Baal killed. He prayed and the sky withheld its rain. He prayed again and it rained like crazy.

Yet, when Jezebel threatens him through a messenger, he runs for his life, becomes depressed and prays for death. I know how he felt. I, too, have acted as if the forces against me are greater than those with me, become depressed and prayed for death. It is so easy to believe the conventional wisdom and ignore the spiritual.

We see God so clearly in the victories. He arrived to do a miracle and provide what was needed. He healed someone we were praying for. He gave us a task which seemed impossible and we did it with His strength. We praise Him and know He is right there with us.

But then bad things begin to happen. People go without even though we have prayed for them. Someone dies whom we have put at the top of our prayer lists. The simplest of tasks can't be done. Failure, not victory, seems to be our future.

We call ourselves believers in God but fall into the belief that God is not there. We cry out and He does not answer. We prostrate ourselves before Him and receive silence. The silence makes us forget all the times He has spoken to us. We forget the worship services in which He called us to His service. We forget the times we prayed and He answered. We become like anyone who doesn't know the Lord. And we run.

We believe more in the fear of the future than the God who is already in that future. And why? Because of the present circumstances. We believe that what we are experiencing now predicts our future.

Does defeat predict the future of those who love God? Our flesh tells us that it does. That is why we cannot allow the flesh to rule. It is the spirit which God has placed within us who must dig deep into our faith and reinforce our faith. The Spirit speaks to our spirits to reject the threats of Jezebel.

Does that mean that victory comes instantly? No. The time of distress may still seem like an eternity. So, each day must be focused on living in the Spirit. The Spirit continues to tell us that no matter what things look like, God is still in control.

Isn't that what scared Elijah? Jezebel made him think that God was no longer in control. I don't know about you but that is at the root of my fears. My flesh does not believe that God is in control when bad things begin to happen.

But my spirit knows better.