39: 50 Days of 3:16

Do you know any sports fanatics? They know the stats of their favourite team, they have the bio’s of their favourite players ingrained in their minds, maybe they have their own personal highlights of the team ready to share at any time? If the team has a distinct chant or song you know they have that down pat. Look in their closet and you will find a variety of shirts and jerseys with the logo. Most if not all of them are only connected to this team through the TV. Maybe they live close enough to have season passes but otherwise, they watch from afar. They have invested their lives into this team, yet they have no real stake in this team.

 

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

Colossians 3:16

 

As believers, we should have somewhat of a similar investment in our faith. But unlike the team we support, following Christ is an investment that provides dividends to the believer. We are actually part of the body of believers, the Church where all the members are one. Yet we are also part of a team of local believers in a local church. Our investment in this local church and our support of it shows our passion to Christ. Have you ever met someone who is as passionate about their church as their favourite sports team? There are a few I can think of, but they are rare and far between. Why would then people be truly interested in attending your church if you are not passionate about it? And if you are not passionate about your church and what God is doing there why is that?

 

The local church is not meant to be a club where membership has its privileges. Most church membership is really just a way for the church to connect with the family. There are some voting things but it is not like a Costco membership with deals and savings for being a member. But each member is expected to make an investment in their time and yes money, to help grow the church not just in people but in spiritual maturity. We see here in the letter to the Colossian church that each believer has the ability to teach and admonish one another. Admonish means to build one another up in the faith, to encourage and for the lack of a better term fertilize. The work of God is infectious, Jesus was infectious, the more he did the large the crowds where that followed him out of curiosity. Ever revival in history has come out of obedience in prayer and the willingness of the church to do something. People then saw that the was doing something and were curious because the church was reaching out to them. If every member or churchgoer was to get involved and work to build one another up we would see more people curious about what your church is all about. If we personal talked about our church similarly to the way we love our team there would be a shift in perspective.

 

Lastly, when you meet with other believers where does your conversation go first? Weather? Politics? News? Gossip? Faith? I will be the first to admit that this has been a shortfall for me in the past. I tend to go with my ‘ favourite things’ as conversational pieces. Yet is not God one of my favourite things? He should be the centre of every conversation. We cannot expect others who do not know God to understand who He is if we never talk about Him and what He is doing in our lives, our church and our community. We need to be more active in our daily conversations including what Jesus has done for us. Like I mentioned two days ago, this isn’t something that we can overtask ourselves with, if we’re currently not doing it we need to go forward but not so far as to discourage ourselves. One step at a time and purposefully. If we don’t know how to swim we shouldn’t jump in the deep end, but that shouldn’t keep us out of the pool. Start doing something to bring the conversations back to God and what He is doing. What is more important, your team or eternal life?

 

Father, we need the wisdom to go beyond what we are doing now. We thank you that You have given us a family of believers in our local church. Help us to keep our eyes on you and what you are doing. Provide us with opportunities to share daily about your love. We want to be as excited if not more about your grace and faithfulness then our favourite things. Use us to reach those around us. Amen

 

(I used sports team in this, but it could easily be replaced with Movies, TV Show or any other thing you are excited about)

 

38: 50 Days of 3:16

We all have our physical limits. As someone who has no hardship when it comes to running, I also know that I have limits. The more I run the higher that limit becomes as I am training my body to respond to that kind of distance or speed. To try to run the 100-yard dash at speeds beyond my capabilities would tear at my body and cause me pain. Running a marathon without any training would be unobtainable. If my mind was set on these tasks yet I was unprepared I may be devastated by my results. Paul likened the Christian faith to a race, and he knew we must strive to the finish line, yet he also was quite aware that we all are moving at different paces.

 

Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

Philippians 3:16

 

We train spiritual very similar to how we would train for anything else. Sure, I would love to walk out my door and run as fast as Usain Bolt or Andre De Grasse, but I can’t and to obtain their speed I would need years of training. I know that I can run around 5 km without any trouble, that is what I can attain. We tend to walk out our doors and set unattainable goals for our lives. This sets us up for failure. For me to walk outside and plan a 10 km run when the best I have done in the past is 5 km will set me up for failure. Once I have hit my 5 km I start to see the goal as a far way off, I may push an extra 1 km out, but I start to slow down and lose sight of the goal. I may just quit, why bother.

 

We do this in our faith as well. Maybe your prayer life is lacking and the sermon on Sunday invigorated you to spend more time in prayer. That is awesome we all need to be motivated. But we set unrealistic goals that truly are unattainable in our current state. We walk out saying we will spend 1-2 hours a day in prayer focused on God when just the day before we were lucky to have spent 5 min. This jump from min to hours will drag on a believer and make them feel like they just don’t have what it takes. Instead, they need to gradually work their way up. Adding more time each day or adding smaller sessions to break it up. God isn’t looking at the act of prayer but the heart behind it, I can pray for an hour but if my heart is elsewhere then was it worth the hour? Same as reading the Bible, many will jump in and start reading many chapters in a day but that too will fade if they are not used to it, they will miss a day and feel defeated. Joining a plan on a bible app or buying a plan at the store can help focus your thoughts and provide the training to increase.

 

I do not believe Paul is telling us to settle for where we are at in our faith. As we read in just a few verses earlier he reminds us to ‘press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus “ 14. What I believe he is trying to tell us is we need to prepare ourselves to do what is next. One cannot expect to become a believer one day and preaching to a congregation the next. Even Paul took time alone with God, two years or more, preparing himself to go where God called him. How is God preparing you in your race? What is he calling you to do? Are you preparing yourself? Have you been comparing yourself to others in the faith only to fall over and over again? Look and see how God is using you, how your race is different than any other and that you are growing. Use your training to reach others with God’s love. Using what you know will propel you to grow even more.

 

Father, many times we try to outrun what we know and are prepared for. I pray today that you will show us how to reach people with what we know. We are not all at the same level in our faith but what we know about Jesus love and grace is enough to change the world. For those discouraged, I pray that they will see that you love them where they are at and that you don’t play favourites with your children. Propel them forward in their faith, help them to grow at a pace that will starch them but not break them. Let us take what we know about you and reach those around us that need to experience your love. Amen

37: 50 Days of 3:16

All too often, and I can attest to this, we work to strengthen ourselves up with earthly riches. The quote goes something like, ‘he who has the money has the power’. The strength we receive on earth from material things is very temporary. With the snap of a finger or the stroke on a keyboard, it can all be gone. We tend to put our trust in our earthly power and hope that is enough. Yet outside of God’s grace, this is all they have. It is all they know.

 

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,

Ephesians 3:16

 

I have fallen into a trap of the comfortable. It is not an easy trap to get out of when as a believer you want to do so much more. It is very easy to be complacent and just let life just move forward. This complacency leads to lazy believers who think only of their own faith and are not too interested in making waves and sharing it with those who may have an opposing viewpoint. To much work. Too much effort. We fill our lives with entertainment satisfying our earthly bodies desires drowning out the voice of the Holy Spirit that is calling us to so much more. We go to church on Sundays out of routine and cry out asking God why we cannot hear His voice during the week yet truly are we listening? If you were to chart out your time in a week what priority would God have? I know that sadly in my life God would not be number one. This breaks my heart to write yet pushes me to make it right.

 

On our own, we are going to fall over and over again. Unless we reconfigure our lives from the inside out we are bound to go through this life on a loop. Paul understood this, he says many of the new converts making the same mistakes and was writing to remind them that in their own strength they will keep failing. Until we draw on the strength given to us personally by Jesus through the Holy Spirit, only then can we break the loop that binds us to complacency.  Take some time today to read Ephesians 3:14-20, Paul knew that together we are strong. We build one another up and keep each other accountable for our actions. He saw the power the Jesus has for us when we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us. We must embrace the Holy Spirits power in our lives, only then will our inner being be strengthened and the power we desire given.

 

There is also a part we need to play. Turn off the distractions that are keeping us from hearing God. Set limits to your entertainment time if you cannot go cold turkey. Prioritize God in your life. Spend to much time watching TV? Video games? Sports? Hobbies? Whatever it may be God needs to be glorified, those things cannot be put ahead of His love. He wants to talk to you, empower you to do the mission of reaching the lost and we must get out of our homes to do it.

 

Father, forgive me for my complacency, I have fallen into the trap of lazy faith. I want so much more and willingly turn from those things that keep me from haring your voice. Holy Spirit I invite you to call me out on these things, push me to grow in my faith and let go of the things that hold me back. I trust that what you have to offer is much more valuable then what the world is offering. I pray that eyes are opened today to this and lives changed. Use me to be a vessel of love to those around me and witness to your grace. Let me be the salt and light to the world around me. Amen

36: 50 Days of 3:16

Paul sees something in the Genesis story that many overlook. He saw that when God was speaking to Abraham and promising him the land he was offering the land not to Abrahams children but to the future King, Jesus. All too often we would read and take it as written, but the word used means seed and the seed that brings life is Jesus.

God gave the promises to Abraham and his child. And notice that the Scripture doesn’t say “to his children,” as if it meant many descendants. Rather, it says “to his child”—and that, of course, means Christ.

 

Galatians 3:16

 

I am getting better, but I had a hard time actually studying the bible. I grew up hearing the old song ‘read your bible and pray every day and you will grow grow grow.’ But it was missing something. Reading the Bible is vitally important but just reading it without investigating how to apply it to your life is like buying IKEA furniture, reading the instructions, throwing them aside and then building it on your own. If we want to do things right, we need to apply the instructions to our lives. Reading the Bible is important but how will it impact you?

 

Paul before he met Jesus knew the scriptures, it said he was a devout scholar. He would have known the original verse here and more than likely he would have interpreted it to the descendants of Abraham. Here though we see that now that he knew and understood the truth about Christ he was able to understand what the scriptures and the promise of God were truly all about.  God reveals things to us when we read and study his word. He has left us messages of love, life and purpose in these pages. Does it matter which version you look to, I don’t really think so, for if you truly start to study the word of God, you will not stick to one version but see how it is interpreted by others. The subtle differences can open the truths and reveal God’s love in many ways. However you study the word combine it with a conversation with God allowing Him to speak through his text.

 

Father, help us to not just read your word, but study it and soak in the truth. Show us how we can apply these truths into our lives and impact our world with the light of Jesus. Do not let us waste our time with idle things but bringing glory to your name. Push us to love others how you love them, see them as you see them. Use us. Amen

 

34: 50 Days of 3:16

For many believer’s today’s verse has become the line in the sand about what we can and cannot do to our bodies. Should we have tattoos? better read 1 Corinthians 3:16. Drink? Look it up. Homosexuality, quick flip open the bible here. But what if we have for years been looking at this as a verse that focuses on the individual when maybe it was meant it be talking about the church. Keith Krell suggests that we should be talking about the church in this verse, not individuals. I tend to agree.

 

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

1 Corinthians 3:16

 

As believers, we are called to be part of the family. Groups of believers that gather are called churches but part of the global Church. So as God’s church (temple) we need to represent who God is to the world. All to often the church is filled with infighting and quarrels that the focus is on those things and not the mission of reaching the lost. They will say they are focused on the mission but there is no fruit, they have forgotten that they are God’s church and have become more of a club.

 

We see this as we are experiencing an expanding trend where believers are becoming part-time attendees. They may show up to church once a month. If something more important to them comes up they prioritize church as secondary and choose other activities. Participation in prayer meetings is at an all-time low, the faithful few showing up. Commitment to spiritual growth and discipline is being replaced with our own desires and wants. Membership in a local church is dwindling as those attending don’t see the importance of commitment. If this trend continues many churches as we know them will eventually close as they won’t have the people to run it.

 

The church needs to be reminded that they are part of God’s church. What they do in their communities, in the lives of those attending and those they support worldwide matters. God is using them if they will just open their lives and let him. When they join a group of believers each Sunday and throughout the week He is giving them vision and strength to go out and fulfil the mission they are called to. When they meet the Holy Spirit is stirring them up and giving them a renewed passion. Believers are stronger when united under the same mission. The enemy knows this and works very had to keep us away from joining in worship with others in the faith. He convinces us to stay up late on Saturday, so we are just too tired to go to church. We believe the lie and stay home.

 

Are you a part-time believer or participant in your church? Feel like God isn’t speaking to you and you don’t know anything about the plan he has for you? Take a good hard look at your habits and investments.  What has your heart? What do you love? Is it God or is it something else. What do you treasure most? Whatever that is will be what is most important to you and you will make a priority in your life. God wants to be what you treasure most. Can you honestly admit that he is?

 

Father God, thank you for everything you have done for us. Thank you for the church each of us belongs to, you use each one to bring others to know you. I pray for focus in the church that they will work to fulfil the mission and if there is any fighting among the family I pray for forgiveness and civility. Let the church rise up as one to preach redemption and hope. For those who are part-time believers, not committed, I pray as they have read this you have stirred their hearts and they have rededicated to you and the church you have placed them in. Let them impact their world through their commitment. You strengthen the church you will use us in amazing ways. Use us to change our world. Amen

30: 50 Days of 3:16

On day 28 we talked about Jesus receiving the baptism from John, how John did not feel worthy to provide this task, feeling it should be the other way around. Today we see how John felt about the coming Messiah and why he felt humbled in Jesus presence. John was a man like us, he had his doubts as well, even after making a strong statement like the one today or recognizing Jesus and baptising him we see that after he was imprisoned only months later, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he really was the Messiah. 

 

John answered them all, “I baptize you with[a] water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with[b] the Holy Spirit and fire.

Luke 3:16

 

The baptism in water is an important step in any believer’s life. But John here tells the reader of another important baptism that is available through the Messiah. This part of being a Christ follower is often ignored because people do not take the time to understand the role of the Holy Spirit. Some groups of believers have taken this to far and place a higher importance on it to the point where those who do not agree are ostracized.  The Holy Spirit is God. Just the same as Jesus is God, the Holy Spirit has been given to meet with us where we are. Many put the Holy Spirit on another level just a little lower than Jesus, all because Jesus promised to send another to help us. The Holy Spirit is not like a worker who has been sent but as an ally sent to assist. He was there with Jesus empowering Him in miracles, giving Him strength on earth.

 

If we were already baptised in water why would Jesus come and there be a promise to baptize with fire? Fire consumes us, fire is used to refine us. Just like gold when found is unpure, refinement with fire removes impurities and creates something beautiful. This process is not always a fast one as we resist the process, afraid that we will lose who we are and become something else. God created you the way you are for a reason, your personality and talents are what He wants to use. Refinement will not destroy who you are but enhance you for the better removing the bad traits and solidify the positive ones. Holding on to the past and things of this world keep us from refinement. Many have been attributed to the statement ‘Let go and let God’, it is what we need to do to allow God through the Holy Spirit to work in our lives.

 

Maybe today you feel like I have in the past, a stale Christian faith that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Church on Sundays, maybe a study during the week, casual prayer and devotions. But life is just blah, you want to feel excited about your faith but you just don’t. When was the last time you let the Holy Spirit work in your life? When have you asked Him to baptise you with fire revealing things that need to be removed?  This can be done alone or in church. Many a Sunday I see the altar empty and people rushing out of the church as soon as the pastor says his closing prayer. What if the church was to take time praying for the Holy Spirit to refine them? Give them purpose? Praying for more than being a seat warmer, holding a place for entrance to heaven? We are called for so much more, but until we are ready to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire we wander through life. We can’t expect change to just happen, most times we have to make the first step, it may be that first step that carries you into a new chapter in your faith.

 

Father, I pray today that everyone who takes the time to read this knows you, if they don’t I ask that today you will show them the relationship you have for them and the forgiveness that Jesus has for them.  Use us to reach our families, neighbours, coworkers and our world. Holy Spirit refines us in your fire, not to burn us up but to remove impurities that hinder us from growing with God. Use our personalities and abilities to be effective in the mission of sharing the love of Jesus to this world. We need strength and wisdom to be effective, Holy Spirit we ask for these things. Use us. Amen

29: 50 Days of 3:16

Jesus now baptised, has begun his earthly ministry. His next task was to assemble a team of disciples to assist him in the mission. We don’t see Jesus signing up on Linkedin or starting a recruiting drive. He did not go to the temple and try to recruit the best and the brightest religious minds. We see Jesus travelling the countryside looking for those who could relate to the people that needed to meet Jesus the most.

 

These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter),

Mark 3:16

 

Jesus found men right where they were in their work environments. He requested that they just stop what they are doing and to follow him. This was a radical request, there must have been some authority in Jesus’ voice, or compassion, whatever it was it drew these twelve men to devote their lives to a cause they really knew nothing about. They left their livelihood behind trusting a man whom they did not know. Jesus never promised them fame, fortune or anything like that, if you recall he told Simon if he followed him that he would make him a fisher of men. No money in that, yet Simon saw something in Jesus character and his offer that was too good to pass up.

 

There are some who put the disciples on a pedestal and think that they had it all together. Maybe they try to compare themselves and never measure up. But the disciples were just like us, they had their failures, doubts, fears. They were not perfect by any standard. They would fight amongst themselves about which of them was the best. When trouble fell on Jesus they scattered. Some even doubted Jesus had risen from the dead. Even one betrayed him. So why did Jesus surround himself with twelve flawed people? I believe he did so to show future generations that he uses everyone to fulfil the mission. We see more flawed people being used in amazing ways from all sorts of backgrounds. Saul a religious zealot bound to destroy every believer for their faith met Jesus and he became one of the powerhouses of the faith. Timothy was a kid, but he impacted the church. Many more are layered throughout the NT. The disciples went on to change the known world with the message of salvation, each suffering for it yet never giving in to their fears of death.

 

So what does the fact Jesus found twelve disciples mean to us today? I feel it is a good example of how we need to surround ourselves with those who are on the same mission. Working together we can make an impact in our world, country, region, community and families. We were never meant to be solo believers. It may be hard to find a group of twelve people that you would call your core group of faith, but a church provides an opportunity to find a small group of believers who will stand by you in the mission. If you have given your heart to Jesus, I wonder if you have plugged into a network of believers and are working to grow in your faith. This will guide you in the mission of reaching the lost.

 

Father, thank you for the example of friendship we see with the disciples and Jesus. His choice was ordinary people with no extraordinary giftings, just those willing to follow and believed in the mission.  We often decided who we will share the faith with on our outward views, I pray that we will look past the outward and see that there are people all around who need to meet with Jesus. They may look tough, homely, tattooed, angry, dirty, smelly, professional, or they have it all together, remind us that they still need you. Give us wisdom in each situation to be effective in sharing your love with them. Use me to change my world. Amen

28: 50 Days of 3:16

Here in Matthew, we start the ministry of Jesus. The Old Testament prophets spoke of a man preparing the peoples hearts for the coming Messiah. We read in this chapter about a man named John. You may know him as John the Baptist, he was given that name as he has known for baptising people preparing them to meet God. John was teaching that people must repent of their sins and the baptism was an outward sign of an inward change of heart, very different from the sacrifices of old. Why then would Jesus who had no sin need to partake in such an activity?

 

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.

Matthew 3:16

 

As we read we see that John recognized Jesus right away as the one who would save them. We know from reading Mary’s account of pregnancy that Jesus and John had met briefly when they were yet born, and Jesus had made an impression on him then. We know they were cousins, yet we have not record of any encounters between them after they were born. We know at some point in John’s life he departed into the desert to seek God and received his calling to teach repentance and baptism. But here on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, they meet once again. Jesus asking for the baptism that John has been performing.

 

John hesitates, asking why Jesus would need this baptism, instead John wants the baptism that Jesus will provide. We see here that John was hungry for more. He had received his calling and knew that he was only the foreshadowing of one to come, his whole life was about preparing the hearts of the people for Jesus. In essence, he was the preshow to the main headliner, he knew it and never once wanted to take his place. So, when the one who he has been preparing for asked him to baptise him, it took him by surprise. Jesus reassured John that this was needed to be done so that the calling could be fulfilled. John was once again obedient and did as Jesus asked.

 

Jesus went down into the water a sinless man, he was not being baptised to show and outward sign of an inward change, but as an act of obedience that each believer should follow. He came up from the waters in triumph as a symbol of what he would do in three years time. This moment when the Spirit of God descended on Jesus could very well be the kickstart to his early ministry. All his preparation and prayer leading to this point where God said ‘go’.

 

As believers in Christ, we have accepted Jesus into our lives, asking Him to forgive us of our sins. We go through our lives and as sinful beings we continue to sin, we must daily ask for forgiveness. Not as if the sin we do breaks our relationship with God, but that the sin hinders our walk with God and slows down growth. We also called to water baptism, to go under the waters as an outward sign of an inward change. In the early church believers did this almost immediately. Today we wait and wait and some never make this statement of faith. They wonder why things fall apart and their relationship with God is rocky. This is an important step for any believer and helps cement your heart. The baptism sprinkle as a child does not have anything to do with this event. This choice must be yours something you do freely to show others the change you have made and who you serve. If you are putting off water baptism or just never knew you needed to, I pray today that you don’t delay, talk to your Pastor or mentor and encourage them to help you.

 

Father, thank you for everything you do for us. You prepared the way for Jesus so perfectly. Sending John ahead to prepare the hearts of the people, instituting baptism as a symbol of repentance. I pray that we see hearts changed, lives transformed and people renewed in their faith. Let their lives be an example of your love in this world. Use us to share your love, let any fears that bind us be taken away and replaced with strength and wisdom. Give us opportunity after opportunity to reach the lost. Amen

 

 

26: 50 Days of 3:16

If you believe God does not care about what is happening here on earth you might want to take another read of your bible. God is always watching He does not sleep like a man does. As you read some of the minor prophets letters you may just decide to ignore them as they are small and not quite sure why they were even added. But the information and revelations about God and His character are undeniable. Here in Zephaniah we again read about God’s love and hope for His chosen people. He hears their cry of anguish and promises to punish their enemies for the actions.

 

 

On that day
they will say to Jerusalem,
“Do not fear, Zion;
do not let your hands hang limp.”

Zephaniah 3:16

 

Have you ever been so discouraged that you are just about ready to give up? Everything is not going your way. Someone told you that the Christian life would be easy and you believed them, now it feels like the world is against you, you must be doing something wrong. Many around us are discouraged, they have no one willing and able to build them up and encourage them. Here in this time in Israel’s history they were exhausted, defeated and ready to give up. God was sending them a battle cry to not give up. Keep working away, do not be discouraged. Letting their hands fall limp would be a sign of defeat, an outward sign of an inward change. If the people began falling into depression and giving up any of their enemies would take advantage and destroy them.

 

One of the issues we find is that Israel was unrepentant for their sinful actions. Earlier in this chapter, they are reminded of this and the importance of asking for Gods forgiveness for the actions of the people. They had dabbled in the rituals of their neighbours partaking in the worship of other god’s. This rightfully upset God who was leading them and showing them the direction they need to take to live a fulfilled life. Unrepentance puts up roadblocks to God’s blessings in our lives. This not only includes unrepentance towards God but towards our fellow man who has done offence to us. This is not easy for us as we have been taught that revenge is expected. For us to forgive without expectation of remuneration is not the norm but is what we as believers are called to. Society demands justice and remuneration, just look at the number of lawsuits out there over the littlest things. This all stems from greed where man has learned if you complain loud enough and play the right cards you can be compensated for being offended. The courts have played into their hands fueling this engine of greed.

As believers, we need to stand up over this system. Taking a hard stand on forgiveness. Loving our enemies, not letting our hands fall limp by our side in defeat, but ready to help our enemy in moving forward.  God will deal with those who do not accept our forgiveness and love, let Him deal with the justice, we must raise our hands in a show of love. We do not have time to worry about holding grudges and making things right in our own eyes. We are called to the mission of reaching the lost in which none are excluded, your enemies are part of your mission to be told the love of Jesus. You can do this in how you respond to their attacks. Many a story is told about persecuted believers overseas that love their captors and eventually their captors receive Christ. We may not have enemies as harsh but we can love those who are here in our midst. Will you rejoice and not be discouraged? God is ready willing and able to help you push through your fears and reach those around you. Will you let Him?

 

Father, many are discouraged in their faith. Maybe they have tried to share your love and have been laughed at or threaten if they continue. Strengthen them in your love and give them boldness to keep on. Let them not let their hands go limp in defeat but help them to raise them up in a show of love and determination to be a strong force for the kingdom. Help them experience a win by guiding them to lead someone to you. Give them the wisdom to speak directly to the heart of someone they know a friend, family or enemy, even today Jesus. If we are holding on to forgiveness show us how we need to let it go and love those who have hurt us. Use me today. Amen

25: 50 Days of 3:16

We often wonder if God actually hears us. I know in my life it feels like the cries of my heart never make it past the ceiling. It takes much faith to pray to a God we cannot physically see, but we can see Him all around us in the creation. Like I mentioned already this week, we are created in God’s image. For us to say we cannot see God may be further from the truth as God’s image is all around us.

 

I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us.

Habakkuk 3:16

 

The prophet Habakkuk was a prophet of God. The people were tired of being bullied by other nations and just wanted some peace and to restore their home. Habakkuk took the complaints to God in prayer. Not just once but twice. The Lord answered Habakkuk’s prayers both times, each time being very clear that He is God and knows what He is doing. We often believe that God’s ways are roundabout and do not always make sense. But the problem is we here in the situations of life, do not see the bigger picture. For those in the situation, the problem looks unachievable, desperate and all hope is lost. But God knows the full plan and the results in every scenario that may happen. What we choose to do in each situation impacts the big picture as well. God sends the Holy Spirit to prompt us to make the right choices for the best results, that will glorify His name and strengthen your faith.

 

After the Lord had spoken to Habakkuk twice he ensured that he took time to pray and worship the Lord for revealing some of the big picture plans to him. His words here in 3:16 speak of an excitement for God to do mighty things against their enemies. He sang out his prayer for the nation to hear and rejoice with him.

 

Jesus came and turned this thought of praying to God asking for vengeance from oppression on its head. Jesus taught that we need to love our enemies and go the extra mile to turn the other cheek. Instead of asking God to destroy your enemies, Jesus taught us to ask Him for blessings on them. And not just ask for blessings but to bless them ourselves, focus on loving them despite the fact they may not deserve our love. This radical change in how we treat people who persecute, hate and oppress us is so foreign to this world we live in who is bent on revenge when we are hurt.

 

Like Habakkuk, we can still bring our complaints of oppression to God. But we cannot expect him to respond as He did here. He will bring us back to Jesus and his teachings, asking what we are doing to love our enemies? How can we work to bless them in their struggles? He will remind you that they need to recognize Jesus is the answer to what they need and that He sent you to be the one to tell them! We already have a promise from God that all who reject him will be dealt with, but as believers, we need to show the same love that Jesus did on the cross and share it, so they do not have to receive that punishment. Pray not that God will punish those who oppress you but that the will become your friends and believers in Christ.

 

Father, we thank you for what you are doing in our lives. Many times, we pray that you will deal with those who oppress us in hopes that you will smite them with a lightning bolt or something to that effect. We pray for forgiveness for ideas like this. We pray that you will use us to teach them that Jesus died for them and wants to have a relationship with them. Holy Spirit give us wisdom and words to speak that will reveal to them your love. Help us to love our enemies even when they do not deserve it Help us to forgive them for what they have done seeing them not as we do but as You do, a lost child. Use me even today. Amen