My Dear Friends,
So many are giving up and giving in to despondency, discouragement, disappointment and depression. It is evident in their general “I don’t care attitude” resulting from a mistaken belief that what they are doing really doesn’t make any difference in life any way. This sense of failure is often the result of trying and praying only to have their expectations not met.
Life is a journey in which we frequently find ourselves sliding off the paths before us. It would be so easy just to lie there and give up. Many find themselves in situations where fear, failure, and frustration have paralyzed them until they have lost all desire to go on. How we need to hear what Jesus is saying to us at this moment when He says, “Arise, let us go on” (John 14:31).
There are so many things that can cause us to slide off the straight and narrow path of life. We must let Jesus, who has promised “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5), guide and direct us each and every moment. Disappointment, sickness,
or the death of a loved one can cause us to slide off the path of life to the extent that we feel like giving up. As we make this journey, we must never forget we are not alone. The wonders of creation are a constant reminder of God, the Creator who is forever with us. The Bible is the Living Word, which reveals to us a Savior who has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.
Paul, a man whose life was a slippery journey until he came face to face with the Living Christ, declared, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3: 7, 8).
Knowing about Christ is quite different from knowing Him. There are many great theologians who know a lot about Him but in a time of crisis or personal loss, they totally crumble because they don’t really know Him.
The Prophet Habakkuk, because he really knew the Lord, did not slide off the path of life. He not only declared in Hab.2:4, “The righteous will live by his faith,” but he also went on in chapter 3 verses 17-19 to show us how this is applied in times of difficulty. “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, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He make my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.”
Knowing God’s grace, love and power manifested through Jesus Christ and the wonders of creation enables us to not only stand firm but go on to new heights. In the Revised Standard Version, Daniel 11:32 states, “The people that know their God shall stand firm and take action.” Instead of slipping and sliding down the road of life, those who know God will stand firm, not paralyzed, by fear or frustration but posed for direct action.
In the book of Daniel we see how Daniel and his three friends, even when moved as captives to a foreign land, did not slip into depression but rose above their circumstances to do a mighty work for God. They prayed trusting God, and were delivered from the fiery furnace, the lion’s den and the tyranny of the age in which they lived. In the midst of adversity Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-nego and Daniel were fully persuaded that God had everything under control.
Psalm 40:1, 2 tells us what it means to know God and to be delivered from the slimy pits that we find ourselves all to frequently sliding into. “I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”
Jesus is our solid rock. As we stand upon His word, He gives us a firm place to stand in this slipping age of greed and corruption.
Psalm 40:3-5 tells us the result of trusting in the Lord. “Blessed is the man (and the woman) who makes the Lord his (or her) trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.”
Knowing God involves first humbling ourselves and honestly admitting how much we need Him and His direction in our daily lives. “This is what the LORD says: “The wise man is not to boast in his wisdom; the strong man is not to boast in his strength; and the rich man is not to boast in his riches. Rather, let the one who boasts, boast in this: that he understands and knows me, for I am the LORD who acts with gracious love, justice, and righteousness in the land. I delight in these things,” declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:23 ISV).
God made it possible for us to know Him by sending His Son our Lord Jesus Christ, into the world (John 3:16). For that reason Jesus could declare “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him” (John 14:6, 7).
Knowing the Lord allows us to see ourselves the way God sees us. We believe it when the Bible says, “The Lord is with you O valiant warrior,” (Judges 6:12).
Yes, you may have made mistakes in the past, but thanks be to God who through Jesus provides forgiveness of sins and the hope of a new beginning. It is a new day and God desires to do a new and powerful work in you and through you. Don’t give up. Stand steadfast and stop allowing your weaknesses and insecurities of the past to keep you from the greatness God is calling you to this day.
The Lord has said, “My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.” Now develop the same attitude that Paul did as he continues in 2 Cor.12:9, “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me.”
You don’t have to keep beating up on yourself every time you give in to that nasty habit that you are struggling with. Instead, further surrender that area of your life to Jesus Christ and pray, “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings” (Ps.17:8).
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Eph.6:14-15).
Stand steadfast as the scriptures say. Don’t give up but remember, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph.2:10).
You may not feel at this moment that you are God’s workmanship, created in His image. Maybe you even feel trapped in a rut, but there is hope. Christ is risen! Say to yourself at this moment, “God has lifted me out of the horrible pit, and He set my feet upon a rock and put a new song in my mouth” (Psalm 40:2-3).
Let God put a new song of praise in your mouth today and fill your life with hope. He wants you to know He loves you more than you can ever imagine. “For God so loved the world,” (means you and me) “that He gave His only begotten Son. That whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Right now you have a choice for “It shall be done to you according to your faith” (Matt.9:29). If you expect this year defeat, failure and mediocrity, that is what you will get. Or you can remember that it is just as easy to believe God for strength, success and victory, knowing that God has everything under control and that He loves you and wants His best for you.
The reason you can believe God for His best for your life is because you have dedicated your life to Him. You desire to serve Him, reaching out to those in need, sharing His love with others. Take God at His word and make Phil.1:6 personal by declaring, “I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in me will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
When we see that, with each passing day, in spite of the circumstances God is perfecting His work within us, we are free to believe that, “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
When we believe God is working for our good and we know we have been called according to His purpose of sharing His love in word and deed with others, we are free to believe God’s best for our lives. This doesn’t mean we will allow ourselves to be trapped in a greedy materialistic lifestyle, for we know God’s best far exceeds filthy lucre (money) as Jesus referred to it. God’s best frees us to live in His presence, knowing that God is working daily for our good in spite of the circumstances.
When we realize that God is at work in every situation, life becomes an adventure in faith. What is faith? “It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.”(Heb.11:1)
Now instead of believing the worst, choose to “taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”(Psalm 34:8)
This past year as New Life Evangelistic Center faced a mountain of financial need, I found myself itemizing these needs on a piece of paper and putting them in my Bible at Phil.4:19 where it says, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” When worry and uncertainty would strike, I found myself turning to that passage, knowing that God would meet that need.
Now I want to invite you to join me in accepting Jesus at His Word when He says, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:13, 17) Let us ask Jesus now to work in us to share His love by reopening the 1411 Locust building. Then we could once again provide from that location help for the homeless, food to the hungry, and good news of the eternal life Jesus has provided through His death and resurrection.
Now “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Heb.12:1, 2). Don’t give up. Give God 100% by doing your very best on every job He has given you. Your efforts for good do make a difference. Your labor is not in vain.
At this hour our Lord is telling us, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
Yours in Christ,