Lying Vanities (Psalm 31:6)

Life seems to be going along fine and them circumstances quickly change. What once seemed to be an easy life is suddenly changed into stormy circumstances of trials. When this occurs, we have one of two options: either to attempt at working out our own deliverance or by faith rely on The Lord to deliver us from or through our circumstances.

The Psalmist contrasts himself with those who rely on resources other than The Lord. I have hated them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in the Lord. (Psalms 31:6). The lying vanities are those things which others trusts to deliver themselves in times of trouble. The Psalmist, David, was not saying that he never struggled with trying to deliver himself. The scriptures give examples of how David attempted to bring about his own deliverance (2 Samuel 12 & 2 Samuel 24:1-3, 10). But what he was saying was that his heart at that time was fully relying on The Lord and not vain opportunities.

Each day we face the same decisions concerning our trials: shall we trust The Lord or strive to work out our deliverance and pray for The Lord to bless our efforts? Many are confused about this matter and think that they are trusting God, but in reality are only looking for his help at self deliverance. When we are trusting God and not lying vanities, we will be resting in him. When we rest in him, we are not working to deliver nor are we experiencing worry, fear or anxiety. If we find ourselves striving, worrying, fearful or anxious, we are not resting. Instead of resting in God, we carry the problems in our hearts as if we were responsible for solving them. Rest is just that: to rest. When we rest, someone else does the needed work. For our trials, that somebody is The Lord. The abundant life is the life of resting in Jesus. As we rested in him for salvation and deliverance from sin, we too should rest in him for deliverance from trials. If not, all other work is trusting in lying vanities.

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The Testimony Of Prayer (Part 2)

How long did Zacharias pray? The scriptures do not say. He may have began praying when his wife was still of child bearing age, but as time went on his prayers became a little more earnest. How often do you think he became discouraged? How many times did he want to just give up and accept the fact that he would be fatherless? But instead of giving up, he continued to prayer.

What he did not know was that when his prayer would be answered, his testimony would shine like a spotlight. However in order for his light to shine, God would need him to wait for answered prayer. Had his wife had a child at 40 years of age, people would have said, “Great!” and the brightness of his testimony would be dim. At 50 years of age, his light of testimony for answered prayer would have been even greater, but if she was 60 years old, those around her would have been stunned by his shinning testimony. The brightest light of testimony in prayer will take time. The longer we are willing to wait, the more glory God will get in the eyes of those who witness our answered prayer. The question is are we willing to wait on God?

As you struggle in your trial, continue praying and yield to God. Ask for his strength and let him know that you will trust his will and yield to his plan. He will provide the strength that you need and in his time will answer your prayer. The testimony of what he has done in your life will shine like the sun, but we must wait. Waiting is never easy, but if we can understand why God requires us to wait, the waiting becomes more bearable. This is not the only reason why God delays in answering prayer, but hopefully it will enable you to endure through the night.

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The Testimony Of Prayer (Luke 1:14)

Years ago, I worked at a Bible college on the east coast. In the first year, we had an open house for the families of students and visitors to meet us and visit the facility. During the event, a person entered the dormitories and was in the process of stealing jewelry when I caught him during a routine walk through. After the police were called, he was taken into custody. Not long after that, I was required to give a court testimony. All I needed to do was share the information that I knew and by doing so, the court could make their own judgment.

Many may struggle with not knowing what to say to lost friends, family and colleagues about The Lord Jesus. But what they fail to recognize is that God is doing a mighty work in their lives and he can use them as they testify of those events. Zacharias was such an individual who had a great opportunity to share the wonder of God simply by getting a prayer answered. The scriptures state that the people were affected by his answered prayer in that they rejoiced at the child’s birth.

And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. (Luke 1:14)

Our answered prayer can make the lives of those around us better. We do not need to convince people of God and his greatness: our testimony about how he works in our lives will testify of him by itself. Your next answered prayer could be what your coworker, friend or family member may need. Prayer not only works for you, but also for those around you. It testifies and shines of the wonder and greatness of God. This is the light that the scripture says is set for all to see. Our answered prayer and its testimony is a shining light like a city on a hill. Pray! Pray for your needs and God will answer and brightly shine through your testimony.

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Faith Beyond The Circumstances (Luke 1:13)

In his old age, Zacharias prayed for his wife to have a son. All reasoning suggested that it would never occur and in more probability it would most likely take a miracle. Nevertheless, he prayed and his prayer brought these words, “But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.” (Luke 1:13). How was Zacharias able to continually pray in spite of what appeared to be a hopeless situation?

It is not desire that will keep you praying, but your faith. It was not Zacharias’ desire for a son that motivated him to pray, but instead his faith in God. Desires may change, but the expectancy of faith will remain the same. Any hope for situations to change can be explained away, but faith will remain firm.

When circumstances turn darker, faith becomes the only option. Thoughts of faith may momentarily dwell in the heart of man, but in order for faith to stand firm there must be communion in God’s word and with the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit will bear witness of the truth of the word. His witness coupled with the promises of God’s word will strengthen faith. Strong faith is not a greater amount of faith, but instead a faith that endures longer. The duration of your faith will last in direct proportion to the depth of your relationship and walk with The Lord. If your relationship is shallow, your faith will only be short live. If your relationship is deep, then your faith will much longer endure.

To develop your faith, you must spend time getting to know the person of God who is the focus of your faith. As you fellowship each day in his word, reflect on the character of God and what he has done for you. Personalize the scriptures, which means when God speaks of love, consider that he is speaking of loving you. When he declares to take notice of every need, he is speaking of his care for you. Remember to speak to The Lord in prayer and bear your heart to him. In time, he will manifest his presence to you and draw you even closer to himself. The closer you get to God, the greater your faith will become.

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You Can Always Come Back (Mark 16:7)

Did you ever have a friend that you were close to, but then something happened between that marred the relationship to where it was never able to be restored? If it did not happen to you, you probably know somebody who experienced it. In situations like that, the division may be mutual with neither person attempting to reconcile the relationship. There probably have been situations where both people wanted to reconcile, but thought that the other would have nothing to do with them and therefore never made any attempts for restoration. Cases like this are similar to the Apostle Peter and Jesus.

At a most critical time, Peter denied Jesus and went against his proclamation of never denying him and even being willing to die for him. The shattering in the relationship occurred at the sounding of the cock crowing. From that moment on, Peter lived with the guilt and shame of his decision and subsequently walked away and returned to fishing. The self verdict from his guilt was that The Lord would no longer want him, but he was wrong. Jesus knew the struggle that Peter experienced. So when he sent message that he was going to Galilee, he told Mary to tell the disciples and Peter that they could see him there. Had he merely told her to tell the disciples, Peter would have excluded himself from the group because he felt unworthy.

But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. (Mark 16:7)

The love of God is so great that regardless of how far we have walked away from him and how long we have been away, he wants us to return. There is nothing that we have done that can deter or diminish his love for us. He will always want us back into a relationship with him. If there are any hinderances to us returning, these hinderances are either created by our own belief system or we have bought into the lies of the enemy that daily war against our hearts and minds.

If you are away from God, he wants you to return to him. Nothing needs to be accomplished in order to be accepted back. Whatever baggage you bring, he will sort out the mess that has been created. He will lead you back into the path that leads by the still waters and bring restoration to your soul that you have been longing to experience. Right now, he is waiting for you to come back.

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Whom Should I Obey (Mark 14:6)

The woman with the alabaster box loved Jesus and wanted to present to him some gift or service to show her love and appreciation. While unknowingly anointing Jesus for his burial, others stood in opposition. They had a better idea and plan for how her money and service could have been rendered.

It is important for us to remember that our walk with The Lord is personal and one of devotion. When The Lord presses upon your heart to do something for him, it is because he desires it. Others do not know what your walk with The Lord is like and exactly what expectations he has for you. Therefore, they are unable to determine if you are correctly following The Lord or not.

And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me. (Mark 14:6)

If your act of devotion is not contrary to clearly stated doctrine, do what The Lord has led you to do. You would be better to obey God than man. In this day, many have abused their position in the church and have adopted a view that they have the mind of God and can determine exactly what you can say and do and in fact how you should live your life down to the smallest details.

God does not want us to live a life of fear and bondage, but to enjoy life with him. (Romans 8:15) We should obey those that have the rule over us and to follow their example of faith, but not to the point of failing to follow God.

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Not My Will (Mark 14:35-36)

After the last supper, Jesus went to the garden of Gathsemane to pray. He knew his time had come and that what had been planned before the foundation of the Earth was going to come to pass. He, with full understanding, knew exactly how he would experience the wrath of God the Father and that much more awaited him besides a cruel crucifixion. As he entered into this experience, Jesus revealed something very important to us about trials, suffering and the will of God. Jesus asked the father to allow this cup to pass before him: in other words, he was asking the Father that if there was any other way to accomplish the task at had, that he would do it instead of having him suffer under the holy hand of punishment. However, he closed his request with words of submission to the Father’s will.

And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. (Mark 14:35-36)

Many may convey that the proper response for trials is cheerful submission to The Lord with gleeful praise for his sovereignty. However if we just would be honest with ourselves, we know that we never respond to trials that way. We usually struggle with the negative experience, question why it is occurring, and struggle in our soul yet finally believe that God is good and has allowed this for his glory and our good. But what we have learned from Jesus is that it is alright to request that God remove the trial circumstances from our lives. We do not need to pretend that we enjoy what he is doing and can express our fears and desires. However, what we must eventually do, is submit to the Father. Our prayers may open an unexpected opportunity that may remove us from the trial or they may not. In either case, we must submit ourselves to the Father and his plan. It may not be easy to do and the process may take a bit of time. Allow yourself that time to pray and sort out the matter before God. In the end, you will be submitting yourself to him and not to a standard of obedience that has be taught or preached to you. God wants your heart to submit to him and not a standard. Your salvation is personal and he wants your relationship with him to be personal as well. Pray your way through and his grace will lead you to submission.

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Casting Away To Get (Mark 10:50)

The day started as many others. He awoke in darkness, arose from his bedding and began another day of begging. Staggered in the dark through the city, he found his spot by the gate. With his garments wrapped around him, he sat and waited. As the city stirred, he began to cry the same humbling words that he had for many years. In discouragement, he probably said to himself, “How much longer can I live like this? I can’t wait to die.” These may be words that filled his heart until he heard about Jesus and the miracles that he performed.

One day, which started the same as every other, was about to change when he heard that Jesus was in the city. As he cried out to Jesus, others tried to get him to stop. Because this was his only hope, he continued to cry out, Jesus thou Son of David, have mercy on me! Jesus heard his cry and gave Bartimaeus his sight.

My favorite part of this miracle account was when Bartimaeus cast off his garment. And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. (Mark 10:50). By this act, he abandoned any expectation of returning to his begging post and the location of the garment was unimportant, because he would for the first time be able to look for it with his own eyes.

For those who had the opportunity to come to Jesus, they dropped everything so that they could cling to him. Nothing else was important because they found him or he who is the most important in the universe. Many have come to him from all walks of life and he disappoints none. No longer do they hope for a better life, but instead possess it.

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Becoming Great (Mark 9:35)

The disciples of Jesus, who one day soon would be turning the world up side down with the gospel, struggled in their growth with Christ. At one point, Jesus confronted them about their conversation about which of them would be the greatest. Their debating didn’t seem too promising for the hope of the world. In response, Jesus said, “Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.” (Mark 9:37). Many are unsure as to what Jesus meant when he said these words. Was he stating that those who reach children will be the greatest or is there a better explanation for his response?

It appears that the greatest people will be those who humble themselves to reach even the lowest of people. Children did not have much to offer and those seeking to reach them would do so for the children’s gain and not for themselves. This action would take humility as explained by The Lord. And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. (Mark 9:35)

This humility and being the servant of all is not strictly limited to reaching children. Children were the example that he used to illustrate the principle of greatness. I do not believe that Jesus was teaching a cast system or different classes of society, but that those reaching out to others for the purpose of their betterment and not for personal gain or recognition would be those who are great. Society is filled with such opportunities. Many will seek to help those who can offer something in return while passing by countless hurting people. How many seek to reach the addicted, abused, fatherless, social outcasts, terminally ill, inprisoned, and those bound in sexual sin? They may not look good in the church or their presence may cause problems with the more “elite” members, but they still need to be reached. If we are really honest with ourselves, we will recognized that under all of our sparkle and glitter, we were nothing better and just as needy when we came to Christ.

If you want to do something great, humble yourself and reach those who have nothing to give in return. You will not only do something great, you will be someone great.

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Satisfied In The Wilderness (Mark 8:4)

I remember several years back when I was on one of those high protein-low carbohydrate diets. My diet consisted of items such as meat, nuts, eggs, cheese and protein drinks with very little bread, potatoes and pasta. I endured for a while until my Italian urges kicked in. For days, I began to crave nothing but spaghetti. All I could think about was a large plate of pasta, covered with the family sauce and some sliced white bread. One day, I just couldn’t stand it any longer. I came home from work and began preparing the long desired meal. My daughter asked what I was doing and in a pasta withdraw tone I snapped, “I’m making spaghetti!” In just a short time, I was stuffing myself with several pieces of bread and two large plates of pasta. Finally, I was satisfied.

After three days in the wilderness, the people hungered and longed for food. With compassion, Jesus fed them with bread and they too were satisfied. They were not satisfied in the towns, but were satisfied where they were which was in the wilderness.

And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? (Mark 8:4)

Remember your life before coming to Christ. You too were in the wilderness. You aimlessly wandered to and fro looking for something in life to satisfy. You found that nothing the world had to offer could fill and satisfy the longing in your soul. Then one wonderful day, the truth of the gospel came into your heart. You saw Jesus for who he is and trusted him as Savior. Immediately he satisfied you in the midst of your wilderness. Fountains of water sprung up in your desert heart and your parched soul was quenched. You too were finally satisfied.

Today, you still experience trials and they too seem like wilderness experiences. Praise be to God that his presence with us in trials is as pools of water in the desert. The trials may put your soul into extremely undesirable circumstances which try your faith, but as Jesus did with those in the wilderness and for you many times in your past, he with compassion will again satisfy your soul’s needs. Look to him, the supply is coming.

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