Monday, December 10, 2018
You Have To Leave Circumstantial & Conditional Faith & Finally Attain Concrete Faith! Don't Let Pressure Stop Your Press. Jonah Worshiped, Daniel Trusted,The Three Hebrew Boys Maintained & We Do What?
“I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience His resurrection power, be a partner in His suffering, and go all the way with Him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.” (Philippians 3:10-11 MSG)
While John was a prisoner on the Isle of Patmos, far from his loved ones and surrounded by the cries of abused captives, he had a vision of Jesus. He writes, “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as if dead…” (Revelation 1:17 AMP). He received an incredible revelation in the midst of confinement, chaos and pain – and isn’t that often how revelation works? God certainly has an amazing way of showing Himself mighty in the midst of our misery. The problem is however, we don’t respond like John. Despite what John was facing and surrounded by, when “…he saw Him…[he]…fell at His feet as if dead…” Let’s be honest, how many of us actually fall into worship mode when in the midst of struggles? Truth is, far more often, we become snappy, our attitudes get out of control, our emotions are doom and gloom, our faith falters, our countenance falls, our hope becomes helplessness, we invite family, friends and even foes to our self-proclaimed pity party. It’s sad but true. Rarely do we immediately fall into worship when life hits us with its worst!
But even Jonah learned to worship in the worst of it! “Jonah 2:2-6, Describes Jonah’s Fish Temple of Worship: The Bible says, “In trouble, deep trouble, I prayed to God. He answered me. From the belly of the grave I cried, ’Help!’ You heard my cry. You threw me into ocean’s depths, into a watery grave, with ocean waves, ocean breakers crashing over me. I said, ’I’ve been thrown away, thrown out, out of your sight. I’ll never again lay eyes on your Holy Temple.’ Ocean gripped me by the throat. The ancient Abyss grabbed me and held tight. My head was all tangled in seaweed at the bottom of the sea where the mountains take root. I was as far down as a body can go, and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever…” (MSG). And you think you’ve got problems??!!
Jonah worshiped in the midst of fish guts and seaweed and you mean to tell me you can’t worship God in the midst of what you’re going through? Look at what Jonah worshiped in the midst of! But yet in still, you cancel your worship due to rolling eyes and attitudes; over what someone said or didn’t say; because they didn’t sing your song or preach you happy; because it’s raining outside; because they sat in your seat; because of what the doctors said. Tell yourself from this day forward, the devil is a liar! I’ll let nothing and no one cancel my worship again! Not their words, facial expressions, opinions, criticisms, discouragement, or bitterness! If Jonah could worship with his head tangled in seaweed at the bottom of the sea; surely you can continue to worship God as He keeps your head above the waters that He promised you would not drown you! Isaiah 43:1-4, “…Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That’s how much you mean to Me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.” (MSG) And yet, you would allow worries to steal your worship, problems to steal your praise, fear to steal your faith, hurt to steal your hope and circumstances to steal your commitment?!
When in the midst of what John was surrounded by, he still fell at the Lord’s feet. In the midst of what Jonah faced, he still worshiped. So what’s your excuse? Do you really believe that trials, troubles, struggles and tribulation are all bigger than the God you say you serve? Well, if that’s your belief, then I’m here to tell you your broken belief system needs repairs!
Please understand that the difficult circumstances you’re going through right now can actually clear your perceptions, cause you to seek God as never before, and find answers for your life, to questions that have been bombarding your sanity! John’s predicament proves that negative experiences don’t hide the Lord – they reveal Him!The Bible reads: “I saw this and fainted dead at his feet. His right hand pulled me upright, His voice reassured me: “Don’t fear: I am First, I am Last, I’m Alive. I died, but I came to life, and My life is now forever. See these keys in My hand? They open and lock Death’s doors; they open and lock Hell’s gates. Now write down everything you see: things that are, things about to be…” (Revelation 1:17-19 MSG). As bad as it was, John saw the Lord, bowed before Him in reverential fear and had the Lord Himself to encourage him: “…His voice reassured me: “Don’t fear…” That’s the beauty of being a child of the King, even when all of the Kingdom of Darkness is against you! He Always Reveals Himself to the Righteous, Regardless of How Bleak Their Circumstances May Appear. After all, the One Whom we serve is still the first and the last, which encourages us to know that no matter what transpires in the middle, God got it covered from beginning to end! And He’s so awesome that He admits Himself that He died and came back to life and now lives forever. He’s reassuring John (and us) of just how powerful He really is! All He desires is that we trust Him and believe Him! And then, if that weren’t enough to increase our faith, lift up our heads, square off our shoulders and straighten up our back, He goes on to say in His hand are keys, and He alone has the access to open and lock death’s doors and Hell’s gates, so you’re afraid of what? Right! Absolutely Nothing! Because this is the God you serve!
I think sometimes we unfortunately forget the Lord’s promise to us: “…for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)!
[Assuredly not!]” (Hebrews 13:5 AMP) How do you read a promise like that and fear anything or anyone? The Lord Himself DELIBERATELY REFUSES to fail you; give you up; leave you without support and will under no circumstances leave you helpless; nor will He forsake you; let you down or relax His hold on you! You are so loved, cherished, treasured and protected by God that He Initiated This Promise To You! You didn’t have to ask Him to do it, you didn’t have to ask Him for it, He Chose To Give it to You Himself! So regardless to what you’re in, what you’re surrounded by, what you’re going through, who you’re up against or what you’re facing, you have full CONFIDENCE that God’s Got You COVERED!
No Matter Your Circumstances, Never Cast Away Your Confidence in the God That Has You Covered!
I love the way Joseph words it: “…Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good…” (Genesis 50:20 MSG). Not even the Best attack of the enemy against you can stop all the Good God is going to make happen towards you because of it! And He’s so awesome as God that He only needs ONE plan for your life, and No Back-Up! Why? Because the ONE plan He has for your life is more than sufficient! “…I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I HAVE IT ALL PLANNED OUT – PLANS TO TAKE CARE OF YOU, NOT ABANDON YOU, PLANS TO GIVE YOU THE FUTURE YOU HOPE FOR.” (Jeremiah 29:11 MSG). Who needs a back-up plan to that?! God will in fact shame your enemies so that He will even use THEIR PLANS FOR YOUR DESTRUCTION AS THE BRICKS TO BUILD YOU UP IN THE END! Joseph’s brothers had some Bad plans for him, but God used them to Bless Joseph Real Good! And He will do the very same for YOU! So lift your bowed down head, square your shoulders, straighten your back and put a smile on your face, God is not done blessing you yet!
It always amazes me how God’s saints of old could worship Him in the midst of absolutely anything and we can’t seem to worship in anything. They pursued God on just promises, and even the ones that weren’t fulfilled in their lifetime, they never lost their appetite for God. They continued to hunger and thirst after Him. Maybe that’s why they were so Full and we’re so Empty. The depth of their faith propelled them to continue in their deeds for Him, despite what was being done to and against them. They maintained such a Faith Under Fire That No Fierce Attack Could Put it to Ashes! They mastered how to Press In and Press On…Anyhow!
Think about it: Where did God prove His faithfulness to Daniel? In the Lion’s Den! “The king caved in and ordered Daniel brought and thrown into the lions’ den. But he said to Daniel, “Your God, to whom you are so loyal, is going to get you out of this.” A stone slab was placed over the opening of the den. The king sealed the cover with his signet ring and the signet rings of all his nobles, fixing Daniel’s fate. The king then went back to his palace. He refused supper. He couldn’t sleep. He spent the night fasting. At daybreak the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. As he approached the den, he called out anxiously, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve so loyally, saved you from the lions?” “O king, live forever!” said Daniel. “My God sent his angel, who closed the mouths of the lions so that they would not hurt me. I’ve been found innocent before God and also before you, O king. I’ve done nothing to harm you.” When the king heard these words, he was happy. He ordered Daniel taken up out of the den. When he was hauled up, there wasn’t a scratch on him. He had trusted his God.” (Daniel 6:16-23 MSG). My favorite part? “…HE ORDERED DANIEL TAKEN UP OUT OF THE DEN. WHEN HE WAS HAULED UP, THERE WASN’T A SCRATCH ON HIM. HE HAD TRUSTED HIS GOD.” Daniel was able to trust God in the midst of his attack, why can’t you do the same? After all, He is still the SAME GOD! We need to learn like Daniel to pursue God, to trust Him, rely on Him, rest in Him no matter what, because He’s Got Us…No Matter What or Who is Trying to Get at Us!
Let’s Recall Paul's Words: “I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience His resurrection power, be a partner in His suffering, AND GO ALL THE WAY WITH HIM...” (Philippians 3:10-11 MSG) He’ll clearly go all the way to life, death, and life for you, won’t you even go to prayer, praise and worship for Him? Won’t you follow and obey His commandments? Won’t you read and apply His Word? Won’t you go to His house of worship and celebrate and serve Him and His people? Won’t you give up anything for Him since He’s given up everything for you?
Likewise, think about this: Where did the Lord reveal Himself to the three Hebrew boys? In a fire that was heated seven times over! “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. BUT EVEN IF HE DOESN’T, IT WOULDN’T MAKE A BIT OF DIFFERENCE, O KING. WE STILL WOULDN’T SERVE YOUR GODS OR WORSHIP THE GOLD STATUTE YOU SET UP.” Nebuchadnezzar, his face purple with anger, cut off Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace fired up seven times hotter than usual. He ordered some strong men from the army to tie them up, hands and feet, and throw them into the roaring furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, bound hand and foot, fully dressed from head to toe, were pitched into the roaring fire. Because the king was in such a hurry and the furnace was so hot, flames from the furnace killed the men who carried Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to it, while the fire raged around Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Suddenly King Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in alarm and said, “Didn’t we throw three men, bound hand and foot, into the fire?” “That’s right, O king,” they said. “But look!” he said. “I see four men, walking around freely in the fire, completely unharmed! And the fourth man looks like a son of the gods!” Nebuchadnezzar went to the door of the roaring furnace and called in, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the High God, come out here!” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked out of the fire. All the important people, the government leaders and king’s counselors, gathered around to examine them and discovered that the fire hadn’t so much as touched the three men—not a hair singed, not a scorch mark on their clothes, not even the smell of fire on them! Nebuchadnezzar said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel and rescued his servants WHO TRUSTED HIM! They ignored the king’s orders and laid their bodies on the line rather than serve or worship any god but their own. “Therefore I issue this decree: Anyone anywhere, of any race, color, or creed, who says anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will be ripped to pieces, limb from limb, and their houses torn down. There has never been a god who can pull off a rescue like this.” Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.” (Daniel 3:16-30 MSG).
Why don’t you trust God like that? John bowed, Jonah worshiped, Daniel trusted, the three Hebrew Boys maintained their resolve, and yet you do none of the above when the circumstances of life attack you? But I Reiterate, HE IS STILL THE SAME GOD…YOUR GOD! So, whether He takes you out, or leaves you in, you ought serve Him with gladness anyhow, because He’s already promised to never leave you or forsake you, so why do you keep leaving and forsaking Him? He’s proven time and time again that He will do anything for you, when will you start to at least do something for Him?
You have to leave Circumstantial and Conditional Faith, and Finally Attain Concrete Faith!
Paul desired to know God intimately. No matter the circumstances, no matter the obstacles, no matter the pain, suffering or tragedy of death. It was all worth it, just to know Him! Paul would do anything for HIM! Will you? And just in case you think Paul had a cake-walk to getting to know God, listen at his testimony: 2 Corinthians 11:21-29, “… I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather. And that’s not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches. When someone gets to the end of his rope, I feel the desperation in my bones…” (MSG) AND YET, PAUL WOULD ENDURE ALL OF THIS AS LONG AS HE GOT TO KNOW GOD! SO, WHAT’S YOUR EXCUSE AGAIN FOR WHY YOU “CAN’T” MAKE THE SAME SACRIFICE?! WHY CAN’T YOU ENDURE? WHY CAN’T YOU PRESS AND PRAISE THROUGH? WHY CAN’T YOU WORSHIP STILL? WHY DON’T YOU TRUST REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU SEE?
Listen, I know struggles and attacks can make it hard sometimes to press in, but you’ve got to press anyhow! No matter how bad it may become, remember your God is always good and will always bring about good on your behalf: “AND WE KNOW THAT ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD TO THEM THAT LOVE GOD, TO THEM WHO ARE THE CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE.” (Romans 8:28) YES, THAT DOES SAY ALL THINGS (GOOD, BAD, UGLY, BEAUTIFUL, ETC…) WORK TOGETHER FOR YOUR GOOD! So continue to trust God no matter what you’re in, He’s a proven provider and protector of His people! “The Lord is my light and my salvation; He protects me from danger—whom shall I fear? When evil men come to destroy me, they will stumble and fall! Yes, though a mighty army marches against me, my heart shall know no fear! I am confident that God will save me.
Remember This: Fiery Trials Work For You, Not Against You!