God’s will

Pizza Restaurant Meal Italian Yummy Food

The Same is The Same Until It Isn’t

The Same Thing May Not Have the Same Results

I know Einstien defined insanity as repeatedly doing the same thing but expecting different results. Still, the same is the same until it’s different. This is a lesson that young people rarely learn, but adults know as true.

Just recently, a local Pizza Hut® closed. For as long as I can remember, it was our area’s preeminent Pizza Hut® restaurant. Its core business was seated customers. We’d go there, and the jukebox would be playing and people talking and everyone spying on the type of pizza the many waitstaff drew from the kitchen. It was a fun place, a destination for Friday night family outings and Saturday night high school dates.

That Pizza Hut® buzzed with customers for 50+ years, and then it didn’t. That thing called COVID–19 killed the owner’s business model. Now it’s being converted into a seafood and chicken restaurant. That Pizza Hut® restaurant was the same until it was different.

God Changes Things

This life lesson is found in the book of Acts. The Holy Spirit told Paul to warn the captain that they should stop their voyage and spend the winter in the closest port. But the captain and the owner of the ship disregarded Paul’s warning. And why not?

The captain and the owner of the ship had made this journey to Italy many times. Each of their voyages had been successful. So, they reasoned that concern from a Roman prisoner was an insufficient reason for them to change their journey. Every trip had been fine, but this time it wouldn’t be.

10 “Men,” he said, “I believe there is trouble ahead if we go on—shipwreck, loss of cargo, and danger to our lives as well.” 11 But the officer in charge of the prisoners listened more to the ship’s captain and the owner than to Paul. – Acts 27:10–11

Whether discussing pizzas, nautical journeys, or conversations with loved ones, we need to keep an eye on the Holy Spirit’s newsfeed. We need to ask ourselves, has God changed times or circumstances? Might this be the last time we talk with our child before Jesus returns? Is this the last time we may have the privilege of talking with our dads before God calls them home?

God Desires Us To Live in His Will

We are not to live in fear or worry, or sadness. None of those is God’s will. We find in Psalms how God would have us live.

“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.”

Psalm 143:10 (New Living Translation)

Our prayer must be, “Oh my God, lead me forward on a firm footing.” God is patient, but when He acts, He typically does so suddenly. Let’s remember the characteristic that Jesus said we, as Christians, have.

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

The Creek Don’t Rise

We are not our own; we have given our lives to God. So, let’s walk on God’s firm footing. Let’s make all of our plans be subject to His will. Let’s apply that Appalachian saying, “The good Lord willing, and the creek don’t rise.” This places our plans under God’s will.

Image by Thomas Grau from Pixabay

You may like: It’s Time for Fall Cleaning!

  1. All product names, logos, brands, trademarks, and registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners. All company, product, and service names used in this article are for identification purposes only. Use of these names trademarks and brands does not imply endorsement.
arm breaking a chain

God is In Control

Do you see Earth convulsing? Do you see the wicked aligning like armies against God Almighty? As my pastor recently preached, can you feel the shaking as God separates His own from those that have rejected Him? Do you feel the oceans raging and the heavens preparing for their retreat? Remember:

Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

Psalms 46:10

A conflict between God and the enemy must take place. The final battle is ramping up, but no one knows the “when” of Christ’s return to retrieve His Church. While we continue to walk in this world, we must understand that God still guides us, ministers to us, and teaches us. Some of His lessons hurt. I could say otherwise, but that wouldn’t be true.

Many of us are already part of the walking wounded. The collapse of Christian morals has allowed wickedness to inflict painful wounds on us. We are learning hard, costly lessons, lessons that have cut us deeply. There is an old song written and sung by Twila Paris titled “God Is in Control.” I think it’s more meaningful now than when she first released the song. Here is a small part of the lyrics:

History marches on
There is a bottom line drawn across the ages
Culture can make its plan
Oh, but the line never changes
No matter how the deception may fly
There is one thing that has always been true
It will be true forever.

God is in control
We believe that His children will not be forsaken
God is in control
We will choose to remember and never be shaken
There is no power above or beside Him, we know
God is in control

Jesus told us that there would come a time when “A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed.” (Matthew 10:21)

In America, we have not yet reached the “put to death” part, but children are “rebelling against their parents” in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago. And their rebellion is ripping families apart. Nevertheless, as the world rages, “the line never changes, no matter how the deception may fly.” Truth is truth, no matter where you find it. It may be hated, cursed, and defamed, but the truth never changes. So, though you may suffer, though there is a giant hole that this world cut out of your heart, “be still,” stand with God. God is in control.

You may like: Would We Council God?

Construction backhoe driving down the road

Get to Where God is Working

Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

John 6:29

So, what work does God require of every person that desires salvation? That work is to believe in the One – Jesus the Messiah – that God sent for the salvation of all who seek with sincerity. And faith can only be holy faith if it works with love. (Galatians 5:6)

Our salvation comes by using the faith God has given each person. Everything we hope to accomplish in and through and for God is secured by faith. The very same faith that we used to believe in Jesus was active in us when our faith combined with God’s grace and transformed us from death to life.

23 Now before faith came, we were kept in custody under the Law, [perpetually] imprisoned [in preparation] for the faith that was destined to be revealed, 24 with the result that the Law has become our tutor and our disciplinarian to guide us to Christ, so that we may be justified [that is, declared free of the guilt of sin and its penalty, and placed in right standing with God] by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under [the control and authority of] a tutor and disciplinarian. 26 For you [who are born-again have been reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified and] are all children of God [set apart for His purpose with full rights and privileges] through faith in Christ Jesus.Galatians 3:23-29 AMP

This faith is the same that we use to bear our own cross. It is the faith we use in prayer, which results in healed families, and the recovery of wayward children, allows the Holy Spirit to heal our mortal bodies, and will someday hear Christ’s trumpet call. It will be by faith that we rise to meet Jesus in the air.

And what is this faith? The very thing that allows us to enter the throne of God and make our petitions! God’s Word tells us that it is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1) The building material of our hope is faith. And faith is the thing that enables us to have a vision, a goal, a purpose and to see it fulfilled by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us through faith.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:1

So, what is it that God has laid on your heart? What have you “seen?” God’s Word says, “The people perish without a vision.” (Proverbs 29:18) The “vision” in this verse refers to divine communication as from a dream, revelation, or prophecy.

So, with what is the Holy Spirit challenging you? Only through faith can any work of God be accomplished. Faith is not an “end” in itself, It is like a vehicle on God’s highway. It’s the transportation that gets us from where we are to where God is working.

Image by RandomPhotos101 from Pixabay

You may like: Work Isn’t a Four-Letter Word!

a pic full of rocks with a question mark painted on one of them

Between My Ears

There are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them.

George Orwell

Today, as I was reading in the 15th chapter of Matthew, I came across a familiar passage of Scripture. I read it was fresh eyes because I was using the New Living Translation of the Bible instead of my go-to translation. Here’s what Jesus said to the Pharisees:

7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, 8 ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9 Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’

Matthew 15:7-9

Our nation is full of stupid ideas. Many preachers preach man-made ideas. Youth leaders teach man-made ideas. Whole denominations declare their man-made ideas as doctrine. I could extend this list, but you know who they are. These false doctrines and crazy ideas come from people that have forgotten:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.Psalm 111:10

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28

If we all followed the truth of these verses, our society would be a much better place to live.

Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

a pic full of rocks with a question mark painted on one of them

Between My Ears

55 “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. 56 All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things?” 57 And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Matthew 13:55-57

When I read this passage today, I knew I needed to comment on it.

The people of Jesus’ hometown would not accept that someone from their town could be anything more than everyone else. The people’s pride and jealousy blinded them from seeing Jesus as “God with us.” This is a problem we may have. Too often, we measure God by the yardstick of man. That never works.

Can you imagine trying to measure air with a teaspoon? That’s just silly, but that’s what we do when we try to measure God by the things we know. We may look at someone we grew up with and say, “We know his mom and his brothers and sisters; we can’t believe God is using him to plant a church in the southside of Chicago; what does he know about street gangs?”

You may feel constrained by your family and the people you grew up with. You may be like the Apostle Peter and take your eyes off of Jesus to look at the waves. Reject those thoughts. God has a purpose for you, and you are accountable to Him for what you do with your calling. God desires to use you beyond what you can ask or think. Remember, you can’t pull your mama in when Jesus judges you. She can’t help you.

Trust your Lord (owner) and depend upon Him. If you do that then, when you appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ 2 Corinthians 5:10, you will hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:23)

Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

kid playing guitar

A Lesson From My Sears Guitar

I learned to play guitar when I was in grade school. My parents doubted my commitment, thinking it an interest that would soon pass, like my love for school. They bought me the least expensive guitar that Sears carried. I’m confident Sears gave the guitar to my parents, just to get rid of it. With that Sears guitar in hand, my dad said, “Teach yourself to play a hymn, and I’ll get you a better guitar.” That was like saying, “Win the Indy 500 in this VW Bug, and I’ll buy you a real car!”

The strings on my new guitar were nearly impossible for my young fingers to press down to form a note – “a” musical note and chords were impossible. Since this was way before the Internet, the only guitar information I had was a booklet that came with my Sears acoustic. So every day after school I’d go to my bedroom and try to figure out how to read music and how to make my guitar play those notes. Having at least a modicum of musical talent would have helped.

Show Time!

Finally, the day came when I was confident. Dad got home, Mom finished up in the kitchen, and then I said I wanted to show them something. With my track record, those were frightening words to my folks! They both sat down on the sofa, braced themselves, and stared at me; I don’t blame them.

I ran to my bedroom and ran back into the living room with a hymnal and my guitar. I don’t remember which hymn I chose; no doubt, I’ve blocked it from my memory. Anyway, I played the hymn all the way through including each verse, note perfect’ ish. By the end, my fingers were bleeding; that week, Dad rented an electric guitar and amplifier, and signed me up for lessons – the horrid sound of that Sears guitar was a real blessing!

Wait, you’re writing about fasting?

So what does this narcissistic story have to do with fasting? Before I answer, let’s read what Jesus said about fasting.

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward…” Matthew 6:16

Jesus said, “when you fast,” not “if you fast.” He left us no elbow room. Fasting should be part of every Christian’s life. For those celebrating Lent, your fasting and abstinence from meat are already underway; I’m proud of you! For others, fasting and/or abstinence may be a new or atypical aspect of your walk with Jesus.

Fasting doesn’t need to be total self-denial of food. In fact, that can be dangerous or impossible for many people. The self-denial of food (i.e., fasting) is something you must discuss with your family doctor before trying it.

We each need to pray and ask Jesus to show us the things that have control over us. Food, TV, video games, shopping, and so forth; things that aren’t sin until they are. From your list allow the Holy Spirit to guide you to one and fast it. How long? It’s between you and Jesus. 

Why Fast?

Why fast? Well, there is that directive from Jesus we just read. Also, fasting is intended to help us hear from God. We don’t change His will by fasting, and we don’t fast to lose weight. We fast to carve out more time for us to spend in prayer and to draw closer to our God.

Oh, how does the story about my first guitar fit with fasting? Well, learning on that Sears guitar was really difficult and really painful, but I didn’t care. I was learning something I loved; I still play. Like the Sears guitar, fasting is something that can be difficult and uncomfortable, but those annoyances pale in comparison to what we gain from walking more closely with Jesus. 

Photo by Shawn Rodgers on Unsplash

You may like:

Like a Dog

There are times when a single word is all it takes for me to write a devotional. I’ll be sitting, drinking my coffee, reading my Bible, and a word in a verse speaks to me. I know the touch of the Holy Spirit so I know that if I start with that verse and highlight that word, then all the rest will follow.

Other times it’s a battle. I know God has something He wants me to write, but I can’t seem to grab hold of it. I told a dear friend about a “picture” God showed me about this. I saw a bloodhound dog. If that dog knows the scent of what he’s tracking, it may look like he’s lost his mind. He’ll run, stop, circle back, and cross the same path several times, but that dog will keep working on that scent until he finds its source. Sometimes, that’s the way God works with us.

When it’s a battle, I must work like a bloodhound, and I imagine it’s the same for you. We catch the “scent” of God’s will regarding a work He wants us to do. Once we have that scent, nothing will distract us. We may appear to friends and family as if we’ve lost our minds.

We’ll start off at a run, circle back, go left then right, continually searching for the scent of God’s will. And, we’ll find it. It may seem to evaporate for a while, but we just keep “sniffing” for the aroma, and soon the Holy Spirit will help us catch the scent, and off we go!

God’s Word says in Hebrews 13:20-21, “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

God does a work in us. What He does in me is probably different from what He does in you. But, we have been equipped to do His will, and that includes the nose of a Spiritual bloodhound.

I thank God for how he trains us, just as a “Search and Rescue” officer trains his dog to track a scent. We desire to be obedient to our Savior, to be dedicated and loyal to Him. And it’s that hunger that keeps us going. As Proverbs 16:26 says, “The appetite of laborers works for them; their hunger drives them on.”

Our hope in Jesus sustains us, for Jesus said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV) So, in confidence, we can cast off all our distractions when we catch the scent of God’s will. We have a great adventure to which our Lord is calling us. Let’s go!

Steven Curtis Chapman – The Great Adventure

Youtube of Steven Curtis Chapman singing "The Great Adventure"
Youtube: Steven Curtis Chapman singing “The Great Adventure”
Man in an empty room with chairs

Wasted for the Lord

Watchman Nee was a very active Christian minister, author, church planter, and teacher and established the movement for local churches in China. When the Communist Revolution took place, he was persecuted and imprisoned, where he lived the last twenty years of his life. One of the truths he wanted believers to understand was the value of being wasted for Jesus. He would preach, “It is a blessed thing to be wasted for the Lord.”

Watchman Nee is not the only Christian leader to teach the value of being wasted for our Lord. Richard Wurmbrand, the author of “Tortured for Christ” and founder of “Voice of the Martyrs,” was a Jewish-Christian that lived in Romania during the same approximate time as Nee. He was also an active Christian minister and author imprisoned and tortured by the Romanian Communists. Alone in his prison cell, Wurmbrand would preach sermons.

One of the most challenging requests our Savior can ask of us is to wait. Waiting feels like being wasted. God has saved us, commissioned us, and gifted us. We’re supposed to be in the battle. Why would Jesus put us on the shelf and not use us? Or, even more, difficult for American Christians is actually to be wasted; to be in a local church that won’t preach the gospel, but our Lord doesn’t give us the liberty to leave or to have a ministry taken from us, and we’re left with a hole in our hearts and our lives.

God is sovereign, so He seldom answers our “why.” Part of being saved is our death and regeneration. This world is no longer our home. So, it is a blessing whenever Jesus uses us, and if that use is to be wasted on Him, how marvelous!

Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” (John 12:3-4 NIV)

Photo by Patricia Valério on Unsplash

Scroll to Top