Monday, October 10, 2011

God's Providential Will

There are three parts to God's will.
1. God’s Perfect Will
This is what God wants to happen. We are in God's perfect will when we obey Him.  Romans 12:2 says “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” The greatest blessings are when we follow God's perfect will.

2. God’s Permissive Will
This is when God allows us to choose our own path. We are in God's permissive will when we disobey Him. Acts 14:16 says, “He permitted all the nations to go their own ways.” Everyone has a right to make their own decisions, even if it is a wrong decision!  God’s permissive will went into effect when Israel chose Saul to be their king. It wasn’t what God wanted, but He allowed them to do it. We always suffer the consequences when we choose our own way over God's.

3. God’s Providential Will
This is when God overrules the permissive will. Eph. 1:11 says, “We have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.” Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery, but God later promoted him to be a ruler in Egypt.  Years later, when Joseph was reunited with his brothers, he told them, "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good" (Gen. 50:20). The "big hand" and the "little hands" were both working at the same time. It's like a chess game that God is playing with people on earth. God uses evil people as pawns in His hand to accomplish His purposes.  It will be hard for you to see this until you totally submit yourself under His hand. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pit Stops

God gave Joseph two dreams that he would become a ruler over his brothers. His brothers were filled with hate and jealousy, and planned to kill him.  Instead, they changed their minds and threw him in a pit in the wilderness, trying to keep his dreams from coming to pass (Gen. 37:5-24). 
Along life's highway, sooner or later someone will throw you into a pit in an effort to kill your dreams.  The dream is the destiny that God has for you. The pit is the obstacle that tries to kill your dreams. Here are three facts about the pit.
1.The pit was planned by God.
The pit was actually an abandoned cistern, which someone had dug to collect water.  God had led his brothers to Dothan (although they were unaware of His leading them) because that was where the pit was. Someone had to dig that pit at an earlier time without realizing God would use it as a holding tank to save Joseph's life. So that pit had a divine purpose. If the pit hadn't been there, his brothers would have killed him on the spot.
2.The pit makes us think the dream has died.
When Joseph was at the bottom of his pit, it didn't look like he would be a ruler in Egypt one day. There wasn't even one shred of evidence inside that dark pit that God was with him, or that his dreams would come to pass. But He was with him, and his dreams did become reality. Keep holding on to your dreams in times of darkness!
3.The pit makes us more dependent on God.
His brothers stripped Joseph of the multi-colored coat his father had given him (Gen. 37:23). When we are in the pit, we are stripped of our pride. We come to the point of helplessness. We re-examine our priorities. The pit refines us, which takes us to a new level of spiritual growth.
Eventually Joseph came out of the pit and fulfilled his destiny.  So will you.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Doubt makes us Double-Minded

Scientists once studied a snake that had two heads. Each head had a mind of its own and wanted to control the body. One moment it would crawl one way, and then the other mind would take over and the snake would crawl in a completely different direction.  The double-minded snake is a picture of a person who doubts--he can't make up his mind.  One mind tells him yes, while the other mind tells him no, and he wavers between the two.  Here is how doubt can affect us.
1.Doubt makes us unstable in all our ways. James 1:8 says, "A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." The Greek word for unstable means "restless" and "unsettled." It's like being on the waves of the sea that take you up and down. Doubt takes us up and down on an emotional roller-coaster, which makes us unstable.
2.Doubt keeps us from making decisions. I knew a man who would say, "I think I need to do this" and then a little while later, "I think I need to do that."  Then he would ask, "What do you think I should do?" He wanted someone else to make his decisions for him because he couldn't decide.
3.Doubt keeps us from making commitments. A doubter won't make a commitment because it means you've got to be sure about what you want to do. Doubt takes away that certainty.

The way to stop doubt is to put a filter on your mind. An open mind is like an open window--it needs a screen on it to keep the bugs out!  You must learn to discern God's voice and screen out those voices that contradict it. When you stop the negative thoughts from entering, your doubt will leave.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Trusting God Through Storms

In Mark 4:35-40, the disciples were on the Sea of Galilee when a huge storm hit. Waves were crashing over the sides and filling up their boat. Jesus was sleeping in the stern as the disciples panicked.
Perhaps you are going through a storm and your boat is filling up. What should you do when the storm hits?

1. Remind God of His Promises.
Before they set sail, Jesus told them, “Let us go over to the other side.” He didn’t say, “Let us go under” or “Let us go half way to the other side, and then we’ll sink to the bottom of the sea.” He promised them ahead of time that they would arrive safely. If they would have remembered His Words and trusted Him, they would not have panicked.
We find many places in the Bible where people reminded God of His promises.  You can tell Him, “Lord, you told me in Matt. 6:34 to not worry about tomorrow, so I’m going to trust what you said.” “Lord, you told me in Heb. 13:5 that you will never fail me or forsake me.” “Lord, you said in Phil. 4:19 you would provide all my needs.”

2. Put your trust in the Lord.
Psalm 56:3-4 says “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You . . . In God I have put my trust. I shall not be afraid.” To “put” means to transfer from one place to another. You put gasoline into your car by transferring it from the pump to the gas tank. You put valuables in your safety deposit box by transferring it from your home to the bank. So when you put your trust in the Lord, you transfer it from yourself to Him.

3. Believe that He is in control of your storm. 
The disciples went to Jesus and yelled, "Jesus! Wake up!" I can’t imagine Jesus waking up, rubbing His eyes, and saying, “Whoa! I had no idea that this storm was going on!” Of course He was aware of their situation. To calm down the disciples, Jesus spoke to the wind and waves and immediately it became calm. By stopping the storm, it proved that He had control over it. But most people miss the fact that the storm was also under His control when He was sleeping. Jesus knew that His Father was controlling the size of the waves and the amount of water in the boat.
Are you putting your complete trust in God when you're going through a storm, and when everything is fine?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Walking by Faith, not by Sight

Second Corinthinans 5:7 says “We walk by faith, not by sight.” Does that mean we should close our eyes whenever we walk or drive down the road? Of course not. It means that as we go through life, we can't base our decisions simply on the things we can see, but we must also take into account what God has said.
Abraham had to walk by faith when God told him to leave his own country and go to an unknown land.  We can learn several things from him about how to walk by faith.

1. To walk by faith . . . you must hear God speak to you.
The Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you. And I will make you a great nation and I will bless you” (Gen. 12:1-2).  Notice that his walk by faith began with God speaking to him. This trip wasn't Abraham's idea. It was God's. Abraham didn't leave his country because he was discontented, running from bill collectors, or didn't like the people of Ur.  He went on the journey because God told him to.

2.To walk by faith . . . you must obey even when you don’t have much information.
God said, “Go…to the land that I will show you” (Gen. 12:1) What’s surprising about this is how little information God gave him. No map. No compass. We want all our questions answered before we start walking by faith, but then it wouldn’t take faith, would it? But Abraham didn’t know where to go. Once he walked through the front door, he didn’t know what would happen next. But he took that first step by faith, trusting God to lead him. God said "to the land I will show you." He had to get down the road first, and then He would show him.

3.To walk by faith . . . you must believe He is guiding you, even if you have no proof.  Heb. 11:8 says,  By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.”  He left his house and just started traveling, having no idea where he would end up.  He had to trust that God was leading him even though he had no evidence of it.  After traveling 450 miles, he arrived in the land of Canaan and God finally spoke again, "To your descendents I will give this land" (Gen. 12:7).  The land turned out to be the Promised Land! 

When you walk by faith, you have no idea what will happen after you take the first step of faith.  Then you take a second step, then a third step, and eventually you end up where God wants you.  You don’t know where you are going, but God knows where He’s leading you. Just because you don’t know, doesn’t mean God doesn’t know. But if you will keep walking by faith, He will lead you to your Promised Land.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Church that Jesus Builds

After Peter told Jesus that He was the Christ, He replied, "Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven...and upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not overpower it" (Matt. 16:17-18). This was the first time Jesus ever used the word "church."  The disciples were probably thinking, "What's a church?" 

The Greek word for "church" means "the called out ones." These are people who are called out of the world to follow Him and His ways. What kind of church is He constructing, and what is it supposed to look like? Here are some things about the church that Jesus builds:

1) It is built on revelation, not speculation. Jesus told Peter that His Father had revealed this truth to him. Reveal means "to pull back the curtain or veil," so that you see things that you've never seen before. Once you actually see who Jesus really is, it will change the way you think and act.  It is a life-changing experience.

2) It is built more on followship than leadership.  Jesus continually talked about following and said little about leading.  "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matt. 16:24). He was looking for followers who would deny themselves. Leadership becomes easy when you have people who are willing to follow. So where do the leaders come from?  The people who faithfully serve Him with godly attitudes become qualified to become the leaders in His Church. 

3) It will fight Satan and not other believers.  Satan is the enemy, not other Christians. Jesus said, "The gates of hell will not overpower it." Hell is Satan's domain. I've never seen a soldier attack anyone with a gate because it's not an offensive weapon.  A gate is designed to keep an invading army from taking it over.  The Church is called to plunder the devil's kingdom and set the captives free, and the gates of hell aren't strong enough to keep us out!  Satan knows this, so he plants lies through gossip and slander so that Christians will attack other believers instead of him.

4) It is built on submission to authority, not resistance to authority.  "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable to you" (Heb. 13:17).  Contrary to popular belief, submission is not a curse word. Humility and submission are linked together, just as pride and rebellion are linked together. It's impossible to submit to authority without humility.  Humility is having a cooperative spirit.

5) It is built on love, joy, peace and not hate, anger, turmoil. Having a good attitude is a basic building block of His Church.  Gal. 5:20-22 tells us the works of the flesh are strife, outbursts of anger, dissensions, and factions, while the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, and peace.  James 2:19 says the demons also believe, and tremble.  They believe in God, but they still act like demons.  If our faith isn't producing the character of Christ in us, then something is wrong with our faith!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Three Parts of Faith

Jesus talked about the three parts of faith in Mark 11:22-24.
1)The object of your faith. v.22--He said, "Have faith in God." God is the object of our faith that we look to. It's easy to place faith in our money, our jobs, our own understanding, or something else. Is your faith truly in God, or something else that you think brings security?

2)The potential of your faith. v.23--Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it shall be granted you." Even though Jesus always told the truth, sometimes He would say "Truly, truly I say to you" because what He was about to say was going to be hard for them to believe. This was probably the most startling illustration He ever used--casting a mountain into the sea by faith! The mountain was the Mount of Olives and the nearest sea was the Dead Sea, which was 15 miles away. Jesus said that telling a mountain to be uprooted and transported 15 miles away actually was possible with faith! The mountain represents your problem and your faith is what can overcome that problem. What is the problem you are facing today?

3)The application of your faith. v.24--"Therefore, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." The word "therefore" means He is connecting what He just said, with something He is about to say. He is saying, "Take what I just said about moving a mountain by faith and apply it to everything you pray for." God doesn't just want us to pray, but to pray with faith, expecting God to answer.
To hear the entire message, go to and click on Faith pt 1 "The Object of Your Faith."

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Power of Peer Pressure

A study was done where 10 high school students were brought into a room. They were shown 3 lines of different lengths on cards labeled A, B, and C. The researcher instructed them to raise their hand whenever he pointed to the longest line.
But what one of the students didn't realize was that the other 9 students had been previously told to point to the second longest line. The purpose of the experiment was to test the effects of peer pressure on an individual.
When the 9 teenagers pointed to the wrong line, the lone teenager would get a confused look and then slip up his hand with the rest of the group. He knew it wasn't the longest line, but he didn't want to be the only one who didn't raise his hand. As they kept bring in new teenagers, they kept producing the same results. They found that 75% of teenagers would conform with the group and give the wrong answer!
1 Kings 11:2 says, "You shall not associate with them, neither shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods."
You can't do anything about peer pressure, but you can do something about your child's peers. As a parent, make sure your children are hanging out with the right friends. They need to be involved with the youth group Bible studies at church. If they don't make friends with the right crowd, they'll be submitting to the peer pressure of the wrong crowd.
To hear the entire message on this subject, go to and click on "Parenting 101."