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By Rose McCormick Brandon
For months, I’ve been praying earnestly for a breakthrough in a certain matter. Several times it’s looked like the answer had arrived then the bottom fell out again. Yesterday, discouragement took hold of me. “What¹s the use in praying? How long will this situation go on? Why aren¹t You listening, Lord?” These thoughts swirled in my mind.
I told the Lord I was worn out from praying, sick of waiting for answers. This morning my regular reading took me to Psalm 126:4-6 (The Message):
“And now, God, do it again bring rains to our drought-stricken lives so those who planted their crops in despair
will shout hurrahs at the harvest, So those who went off with heavy hearts will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.”
Eugene Peterson comments, “It’s clear that the one who wrote this psalm and those who sang it were no strangers to the dark side of things.” These folks knew about tears and suffering.
Everyone suffers. But God knows how to turn our tears into joy. These people left with heavy hearts like mine, but came home laughing, blessed. Today, this Scripture nourished my soul, the part of me that nothing can reach but God¹s Spirit.
Jesus expressed this nourishing of the soul when He told His worried disciples that He had food to eat that they hadn’t yet experienced (John 4:32). This Scripture made my heart joyful again and caused me to look beyond my discouragement, to experience joy in the midst of suffering. It also gave me perspective ‹ what a small suffering mine is compared to that of the psalm’s writer.
My faith renewed, I¹m praying, “Yes God, do it again! Rain down on my prayer crops; fill my arms with harvest blessings.”
*Rose McCormick Brandon and her husband, Doug, live in Caledonia, Ontario, Canada
Photo by: Jiru Balista
“Then Moses said to them, ‘No one is to keep any of it until morning.'” – Exodus 16:19
Have you ever seen God do something really good in your life only to find that you have abused the blessing He gave you? Such was the case of the Israelites as they were traveling through the desert on their way to the Promised Land. God was providing for them in miraculous ways. Manna was provided each day as their bread. God gave Moses specific instructions as to how this manna was to be eaten. God said each one was to gather only what he needed for that day. No one was to keep it until the next morning.
“However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them” (Ex. 16:20). God was teaching the Israelites daily trust in His provision for them. He wanted them to trust Him one day at a time. If they tried to hoard, God put a self-destruct feature in the manna. Yet God also told them to gather two days’ worth on the sixth day so that they would have manna to eat on the seventh day. Interestingly, this manna did not stink or have maggots.
Some gathers manna in business out of fear of not having enough. The Lord can decide to destroy the manna in order for to learn total trust in His provision.
When we operate out of fear, we can expect the Lord to lovingly discipline us in order to help us learn to trust Him. There is a danger when we seek to “insure ourselves” against calamity. If your actions are born from fear, you can expect God to demonstrate His loving reproof so that you might not live in fear.
Adapted from Disobedience Rooted in Fear by Os Hillman | Photo
Then the men of Judah said to the Simeonites their brothers, ‘Come up with us into the territory allotted to us, to fight against the Canaanites. We in turn will go with you into yours'” (Judg 1:3).
After the death of Joshua there arose a wicked king named Adoni-bezek that was creating havoc in the land. He prided himself in defeating his enemies and cutting off the big toes and thumbs of his enemies. He had done this to seventy kings. Now, without Joshua to lead them, the people wondered how they were to defeat this wicked king. Until this time, every King had attempted to defeat Adoni-bezek themselves and had lost.
The Lord told them they were to join forces with the other tribes in order to defeat this wicked king. “When Judah attacked, the LORD gave the Canaanites and Perizzites into their hands and they struck down ten thousand men at Bezek. It was there that they found Adoni-Bezek and fought against him, putting to rout the Canaanites and Perizzites. Adoni-Bezek fled, but they chased him and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and big toes” (Judg 1:4-6).
God is calling the Body of Christ – ICS – to operate in unity in order to defeat the wickedness in our cities. However, the key to victory is a willingness for our leaders and members to work together as a unified army.
Jesus said, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:23). God calls each of us individually and corporately to represent Christ to the world, but our independence, pride and individualism often prevent us from becoming unified in the purposes of Christ. The Church must come together to bless the city with practical initiatives that benefit the city [We need to ask the Lord to be sensitive in this matter and apply what is doable to make an evangelistic impact].
When unity takes place among us – when all ministry heads and church leaders in ICS focus on the purposes of God – Jesus will respond by allowing the city to respond to Jesus. You will see more fruitful evangelism, favor among city leaders and an impact on the city you never thought possible.
Source: Os Hillman
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9
The apostle Peter was one of three disciples who walked with Jesus closer than the other nine. He was the most enthusiastic and the one man who was willing to step into territories where others would not dare. He was the first to step out of the boat and walk on water. He wanted to protect Jesus at times when Jesus rebuked him for having a demon influence him. He cut off the ear of the guard who wanted to arrest Jesus in the garden. As Peter matured, the Holy Spirit harnessed his many extreme emotions.
The greatest trial for Peter was when he denied the Lord just before Jesus was crucified. Three times he denied knowing Jesus. Jesus predicted that the cock would crow after the third time just to reinforce the prophecy to Peter. Peter was crushed when he realized he had failed His Lord so badly.
The Lord forgave Peter for his denial. However, gaining forgiveness from Jesus was not the most difficult part for Peter. The hard part was forgiving himself. As we mature in the faith, we begin moving in victory after victory with our Lord. Then out of nowhere, an event happens that reveals our true sin nature, and we are confronted face to face with this reality. We cannot believe that we are capable of such sin. There is no good thing in us save the grace of Jesus Christ and His blood that cleanses us. When God looks at us, He looks at the blood of Christ that has covered our sin. He does not look at our sin once we confess it.
When we have difficulty forgiving ourselves, this is pride at its deepest level. We are making an assumption that we should never have sinned and that we are too mature to sin. This is a trap from the enemy of our souls. People who cannot forgive do not recognize from what they have been forgiven. That includes us.
Source: Os Hillman | Photo: Jan Chester Lema
So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, ‘It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared'” (Gen 32:30).
Every believer in Jesus Christ must have a defining moment in their lives. Jacob is about to meet his brother Esau in the desert after years of separation. The last time he saw him was when he manipulated the birthright from him years ago. He assumes Esau is going to try to kill him. He sends gifts ahead as a peace offering. And he spends a restless night in prayer asking God to spare his and his family’s life.
Jacob has lived a life of control and manipulation. Yet, there is something in Jacob God finds worthy of redemption. He has a heart that genuinely wants to serve and be used of God. But God must do something in him to chisel away the bad traits in his life.
He sends an angel in the form of a man to wrestle away the striving in Jacob. The only way to remove the striving in Jacob is to injure his physical abilities. “When the angel saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man'” (Gen 32:25-26). Jacob’s natural abilities were so great that God literally had to make Jacob a weaker man physically in order for God’s power to be manifested in his life. When this happened a turning point took place in Jacob. A new nature was birthed in him that required a total trust in God. His name was changed in recognition of this defining moment. “Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome'” (Gen 32:28).
Bob Mumford once said, “Beware of any Christian leader who does not walk with a limp.” If a leader has not wrestled with God over their natural abilities and come to a place of total dependence on God, that leader will live a life of striving and manipulation.
Let go and let God do the work needed in you. When this happens even your enemies will be at peace with you.
Source: Os Hillman | Photo: Jan Chester Lema
(Original title RUINED FOR A PURPOSE)
Sometimes, mistakes are the mother of invention. In 1853, for instance, a Saratoga Springs, N.Y., chef by the name of George Crum made a dish of french-fried potatoes. In those days, they were not the thin sticks of potatoes like you might get at McDonald¹s now, but they were whole potatoes cut lengthways. A diner at the Sarasota Springs resort where George Crum was a cook, kept sending back his french fries, saying they were too thick.
After a few times, George thought he would fix the finicky customer good. He cut the potatoes as thin as he could and fried the living daylights out of them till they were crisp and nearly burnt. Much to Crum¹s amazement, the man loved them! In fact, everyone who tried them loved them. Pretty soon they began to be packaged and sold as none other than your everyday potato chip. What was meant to be ruined potatoes, became one of our nation¹s most popular snack foods. Ruined, as it turned out, for a purpose.
Jesus was ruined for a purpose. Scripture says, “God] made [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NKJV). On the cross, Jesus’ life appeared to be ruined, destroyed. However, He came to fulfill His purpose: to destroy the works of the evil one by going to the cross. Ruined? The devil sure hoped so. But then came the Resurrection and The Purpose was revealed! Those events weren’t just a spur-of-the-moment thing, either. John wrote of “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). Even before God set His creation in order, He had a plan. It was for His very own Son to die. Ruined for a purpose.
We too need to be ruined for a purpose, God¹s purpose. We must no longer live for ourselves. We need to learn to live to glorify God, not to fulfill our desires. We are now marked and set apart for His purposes. When Peter fished all night but caught nothing (Luke 5:1-11), it seemed like a ruined business for Peter the fisherman. But Christ had other plans. “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch,” He commanded (v. 4). The net came up full of fish. The point Jesus was getting across to Peter was, “I’ve got a better purpose. You¹ve fished fish? Now, you’ll fish men!” Ruined for a purpose.
Perhaps you face a situation today that seems ruined. Rest and hold on, friend. It might be ruined for what you thought it should be. But maybe
there is a new purpose for you or for something that your work has brought about. Yield to God and see what He will do. Though all may seem ruined, He may be revealing to you a new purpose.
Original source: Randy Mantik is lead pastor at CrossPoint AG in Portage, Wis.
I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.” – John 3:11
Over the last several years I have seen two distinct types of Christian workplace believers. One type enthusiastically teaches their Bible knowledge to others. These people, though they may be genuine in their motive, lack one essential ingredient to being effectively used by God – a testimony. The second type of people I have encountered has a genuine testimony of what God is doing and continues to do in their lives. This was the case in the early Church. Men and women were able to give powerful testimony of events and experiences that could only be explained as a work of God. [The second group of people understand the content of the Word and they go deeper in their understanding by literally experiencing the power generated by it when it is believed as God’s Word! Furthermore, this are the people who believes in the operation of the gifts of the Spirit which is initiated by the promise and the command of the Lord in Acts 1:8].
God desires to build a testimony in each of us. Each of us is one of God’s chosen vessels to reflect His power in and through us. When others see this power reflected, they are impacted because they cannot explain that power. [Remember, the Holy Spirit made your body as His residence, “you are the temple of the Holy Spirit”]. God desires to frame your life with experiences designed to reflect the character and nature of Christ. Sometimes these events can be very devastating, but they are designed to reveal His power in and through us.
Every one of us has a testimony. What would others say your testimony is today? Can others see God’s work in your life? Is your testimony one of Bible knowledge only? Are things happening in your life that can only be explained as God? These can be problematic questions for each of us. Ask God to build a testimony of His life in and through you today.
Source: Os Hillman | Photo: Jan Chester Lema
“The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the LORD” (Joshua 9:14).
When Joshua and the Israelites entered the Promised Land, they fought many battles. In fact, they fought 39 battles in the Promised Land compared to only two in their exodus from Egypt. God instructed them to wipe out all their enemies completely. The more battles they won, the more their reputation preceded them as they entered new territories. Such was the case when Joshua and the people came into the land where the Gibeonites lived. The Gibeonites knew they were as good as dead if they didn’t do something. So, they dressed up in old, worn clothes and posed as foreigners passing through. They asked Joshua and the people to make a peace treaty with them. An interesting thing happened.
The scriptures tell us that Joshua and the people made a treaty with them because they did not inquire of God about these people. They assumed what they said was true. This turned out to be a very bad assumption. They were now forced to abide by this treaty after they discovered their true identity. They had been deceived. The Israelites were forced to make the Gibeonites slaves. This created a problem for Joshua and the people. The deception resulted because Joshua failed to keep a vertical focus with God. Joshua did not ask God about these people.
They now had to pay the consequences. Those consequences resulted in having to work to avoid cross-tribal marriages while they had to make an entire people their slaves. This was something God never intended them to have to do. The relationship was a source of compromise for the Israelites that made them susceptible to future compromises.
Many of us fall for the Gibeonite Ruse in our lives. It may be a great looking investment, a job that’s going to pay more, or a relationship that you deeply desire. Sooner or later we all get entangled in our own Gibeonite Ruse because we fail to inquire of God. – Os Hillman
Photo: Hanilette Castillo