Sometimes, we’re given a choice. We can help someone or not help someone. We see someone get injured, and we can help or not help. For us now, the outcome doesn’t look to be different. We think someone else can help. Or we think the situation is helpless altogether.
Esther was in the same predicament. Haman was planning to get rid of the Jews. Esther was warned by Mordecai and told her husband, the King, the plan and saved the Jews just in time.
Mordecai told Esther, “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14b) to encourage her that her role as Queen was God-ordained.
While we don’t necessarily run across situations like this every day (or perhaps in our own lifetime), situations we face may be happening because they’re God-ordained.
So, Esther was given the choice, and the decisions she had to make led to two completely different outcomes. The same for us, sometimes. We’re between two worlds - which path will you choose when the time comes?
Your Life's Not a Failure
Have you ever had a time in your life when everything was not going well?
Most of us have. Bad thing happens after bad thing, or things at work keep going wrong. Sometimes you feel like giving up.
“Why?” you may ask.
Habakkuk 3:17-18 gives a perfect example, and of course Job gives a bigger example. Let’s look, however, at the Habakkuk passage:
“Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls—Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”
The Jewish society was very agrarian. Many farmers relied on external factors for their job to be done as needed. They needed to produce food. They sometimes needed to take care of the sheep. They needed rain to produce crops, but if none of that went well, they still had God.
In today’s society, what we do for a living sometimes becomes our identity. However, when you make that your identity, and things go wrong, you think it’s you that’s going wrong.
However, as Christians, our identity’s in Christ. Our rejoicing should be in God, not in our work. Our salvation comes from God, not from ourselves.
Therefore, even if everything goes wrong in our work or in our personal life, that’s not our identity. It’s Christ who gives us our meaning. Your identity is in Christ, and Christ didn’t die for trash.
“Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins,” James 5:19-20.
Every one of us knows a Christian who has backslidden.
The Bible says that if we help a Christian get back on track with God, we’ll “save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”
Today’s encouragement is to consider a backslidden Christian that you know and to encourage him or her to come back to the faith. While it may take much more than that, a simple encouragement may go a long way in turning him or her back to the truth.
Waiting on God's Promises
Lamentations 3:25: “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him.”
God’s promises will always come true. Moses had to wait and work 40 years before he was led to bring Israel from bondage in Egypt. Abraham had to wait years for the promise of a son to take place. Noah had to build the ark for around a century before he and his family was saved from the flood. Not all promises are fulfilled on this side of Heaven, but they will always be fulfilled.
The key is patience and waiting for God to fulfill them. It’s tempting to try and make them come to pass on our own. Abraham learned that the hard way. He and Sarai tried to make it happen through her handmaiden.
When you shortcut the path to God’s promise, you make a sacrifice - you sacrifice growth, patience-building, and God’s timing.
They're Not the Problem
”[I]f My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land,” 2 Chronicles 7:14.
It’s so simple to just blame everyone else for what’s going on. However, Scripture shows us that they don’t hold the solutions (God does), and healing comes from a revival of the saved, not from the purification of society.
We always want to look to other solutions because we feel that everything around us is evil (which it is). However, the solution isn’t better government or more pure (but unsaved) culture. Both of those would be good, but they wouldn’t solve the root problem - which is sin.
A revival of Christians is what’s needed, not less nudity in films, less violence on the streets, a purification of (still secular) society.
Until we as Christians (me included) realize this, we won’t see the change that is needed. Scripture tells us this clearly in 2 Chronicles 7:14. Yes, that was written for the Jews, but also for us (2 Timothy 3:16).
If “they” aren’t the problem, what can we do about it? James 4:2b-3: “[Y]ou do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” When Christians’ motives become pure, we can see the changes that are needed.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
I don’t mean to frighten you, but there are real things out there that aren’t ok.
No matter what happens to you, God is with you if you are a Christian. You could be facing the worst of circumstances right now, but God has your situation under control, whether you believe it or not.
Take any major person from the Bible…
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego…
All faced major but different problems in their life, but they all have one thing in common. What is that?
God was with each one of them.
And, if you’re saved, He’s with you as well.
So, the next time Satan gets you to start worrying, think of Joshua 1:9. The enemy, who is the destroyer, will be destroyed.
Oh, and whatever you’re facing, don’t worry. God’s got this.
When the Wind Blows
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall” Matthew 7:24-27.
Jesus equates obedience to building your house on a firm foundation. Who is this foundation? None other than Jesus Himself. However, those who only listen to what God says (and don’t do it) are likened to a man who builds his house on the sand.
“[T]he rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” This is a powerful and scary warning. If you’re just attending Church, hearing God’s Word, but don’t apply it to your life and don’t obey God, the Bible calls you foolish.
COVID is a good example of this “rain,” “floods,” or “winds.” These are related to natural disasters as COVID is a natural disaster. COVID has either brought people closer to God or further from God. There are some who aren’t Christian after having gone through this period of COVID. They would be those with a house built on the sand. The scary warning given to those who built their house on sand is this: “And great was its fall.”
“Great was its fall” is an ominous warning to those who don’t follow what God says. This is the sudden destruction of spiritual life. It could mean at the end of someone’s life and they go to Hell, or it could potentially be the falling away of someone from the faith (1 Timothy 4:1, Hebrews 6:6).
Whatever this “fall” refers to exactly, it isn’t good. So the question is: What kind of foundation do you want to have when the wind blows? The storm is coming, so be sure you've built your home on the right foundation.
Be of Good Cheer
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” John 16:33.
The Bible has some hard things in it, especially about tribulation/persecution. However, those passages aren’t in there to give us unrest. It’s actually to give us peace during those times. Because we see what will happen in the End Times (and even though we know that we will go through persecution, some more so than others), we know that God wins in the end.
Read these passages in this light, because it was God’s reason for including them in the Bible.
“A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you” (John 16:21-22).
Matthew 14:22-33: "Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, 'It is a ghost!' And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.' And Peter answered Him and said, 'Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.' So He said, 'Come.' And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, 'Lord, save me!' And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, 'O you of little faith, why did you doubt?' And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, 'Truly You are the Son of God.'"
After Jesus had learned of John the Baptist's death, He went with His disciples to rest. A crowd wanted to learn from Him, so He taught them (and fed them). After He went by Himself to pray (and His disciples went by boat to the other side), Jesus appeared to them on the water.
The disciples were afraid that they were seeing a ghost. After Peter knew it was Jesus, he showed his faith by walking on the water to meet Jesus. When he saw the waves, he was afraid and started sinking, but Jesus reached out and saved him.
What can we learn from this? We may quickly respond by faith in life sometimes, but then we lose sight of Jesus (as did Peter when he sank), and we begin to sink, ourselves. We sink in our faith, sink in our fears, and sink in thinking we are worthless or not worthy to do God's work.
There's still much to get done, so look to Jesus to help you accomplish what He has for you to get done. So, are you sinking ... or walking with Christ?
Whatever You Do
In the book of Colossians, we’re reminded about what’s important - glorifying God. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” Colossians 3:17.
We’re to glorify God in all that we do. This also means that, if we’re doing something that isn’t glorifying to God, we shouldn’t do that (no matter what it is). Usually, this is sin, but it’s not always sin that we have to stop doing. Sometimes it’s something that doesn’t please God, yet probably wouldn’t be classified as a sin.
This is a type of sacrifice that God calls us to do. We sacrifice, not because it’s a chore, but because we love the God who has saved us.
What are things that you are being called to sacrifice in order to please God? How are you going to be held accountable for this, so that you continue to reject what isn’t good and hold on to what is good (”Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” 1 Thessalonians 5:21)?
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