I admit I once lived by rumors of you;
now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears!
I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise!
I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.” ~ Job 42:5-6 (MSG)
Years ago, before the First World War, a young Russian Czar was out walking through the palace garden, and he noticed a lone guard standing in a barren field…a patch of weeds. The Czar asked him what he was doing there to which the sentry replied, “I don’t know”. All he could say was that he had been ordered to his post of duty by the captain of the guard. So the Czar then sent his aid to pose the same question to the captain. But his reply offered very little…only that the regulations had called for a sentry at that particular spot. So the Czar ordered an investigation but no living man at the court could remember the time when there had not been a sentry at that post, and none could say why he was there or what he was guarding.
Finally, the archives were opened and after a long search…the mystery was solved. The records showed that Catherine the Great at one time had acres of rose gardens in this area, and on that particular spot a choice rose bush had once grown. Peasants were permitted to come in and view the rose bushes, and she ordered a sentry to stand guard over that special bush to guarantee that no one trampled upon it. But the order was never rescinded. The rose bushes had long since died and disappeared, and now one hundred years later the sentries were still left guarding the now patch of weeds. A spot now watched by men who did not know what they were watching or why they were even there. They were just there!!
Amazingly enough, this true story is played out time and time again in the lives of individuals, marriages and churches alike. The freshness of the relationship has long since worn off as we opt to live off of yesterday’s manna, last week’s miracle, last month’s breakthrough and last year’s “rhema”. Such was Job’s plight as he faced the unimaginable pain and sting of extreme adversity. Rather than asking God for fresh insight, a divine aerial view of things, he opted for the familiar…the voice of his friends. Quite frankly, most of us in his shoes would have probably done the same thing. However, when you finally arrive at your “nevertheless, not my will but God’s will be done” moment…you’re no longer content with a spoon fed, second and third hand experience. The “crusts of hearsay and crumbs of rumor” were never meant to provide the spiritual nutrition needed to take you where you need to go in God!!
Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NLT)
As Paul unpacks the imagery of “athletic competition”…several things immediately come to mind: Location, Position, Posture & Preparation.
So as you embrace your destiny and the amazing plan God has for your life…run to win! Run with purpose in every step!
Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction. ~ Proverbs 29:18 (NIV)
At first glance…you may not readily recognize this verse but we’ve all heard a man or woman of God minister from this passage and have probably quoted it a time or two as well. The King James frames it this way, “Where there is no vision, the people perish but He that keepeth the law, happy is he”. In other words, without divine guidance, vision or revelation from God…we are prone to “cast off restraint”, run wild and literally stumble all over ourselves” in a futile attempt to find our way. What a vivid description of the human condition apart from total reliance on God. If there was ever a time to immerse ourselves in the Word of God…that time is now. “A lamp to our feet and light to our path” (Psalm 119:105)…we find direction for our lives as we make time to open His Word, meditate, study, prayerfully consider and apply it. There is no sliding scale or “let’s make a deal” or quit option concerning the importance of the Word of God and our submission to it. Spiritually so…it is literally a life or death scenario.
Stripped of her hearing and sight by illness at age nineteen months…Helen Keller said it best, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” So imagine the blessing of placing your life under the authority and guidance of God’s Word on a daily basis. Imagine the spiritual growth, discernment, insight and vision you would gain over the next few days, weeks, months! There’s nothing like abiding in God’s presence as He conveys to us what’s on His mind and His heart about us. As awesome as 20/20 vision is…someone possessing 20/10 vision can see things twice as clearly. It’s vision with greater clarity, focus and direction. So why settle for the mundane, the status quo and the “just enough”? Go for “GREATER”!!
Before I learned to answer you, I wandered all over the place, but now I’m in step with your Word. ~ Psalm 119:67 (MSG)
“…when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.” ~ Isaiah 59:19 (NKJV)
Oftentimes, the emphasis is placed on the enemy coming in like a flood. However, the literal rendering of the Hebrew word for “flood” as used in this verse is really not talking about the enemy’s flood at all. Instead, it’s GOD’s flood that sweeps away the enemy and his attempts to cloud your vision, to short-circuit your purpose in an endeavor to prevent you from fulfilling your God-ordained destiny. So, my friend, when the enemy of your soul attempts to swarm you…”like a flood or like a powerful “tsunami”, God WILL lift up a standard (a wall such as a river in flood stage) to withstand and expose his strategy and schemes.
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Romans 8:31 (NLT) What an incredible promise of victory!!!
Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (Message Bible)
If you’ve ever witnessed the incredible sight of geese flying in “V formation, you were probably left asking yourself “how and why”. Well, science has proven that by flying in “V formation”, the entire flock adds at least 70% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front. When the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point. These geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. Finally, when a goose gets sick, or is wounded by gunshot, and falls out, two geese fall out of formation and follow him down to help and protect him. They stay with him until he is either able to fly or until he is dead, and then they launch out on their own or with another formation until they catch up with their group.
Say what you will…we can learn a thing or two from the God-given instinct of geese. God’s stamp of favor has been indelibly etched upon your life, your family, your ministry, your business, your gifts, your talent, your all with the intent that you embrace and walk in that favor with a servant’s heart. “Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?” ~ Romans 15:1-2 (Message Bible)
“For my determined purpose is that I may know Him that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly…” ~ Philippians 3:10 (AMP)
Often referred to as the “Information Age”… we are barraged daily with an endless stream of “data content” via computers, the internet, social media, cable & satellite television (with hundreds of channels), radio, digital media and even books (remember those). I recently saw an ad promoting a refrigerator with a built-in computer for internet access. Don’t ask me why? Yet in the midst of all this data and information, the bible tells us that men and women today are “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth”. (2 Timothy 3:7) So, how is this possible? It is well within reason to say that you or I can be aware of someone or know about them and yet not know them on a personal one on one basis.
The fact of the matter is that in order to come to the knowledge of the truth, we have to intimately know the very source of truth…Jesus! Paul encourages us in Philippians 3:10 with these words, “For my determined purpose is that I may know Him, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person more strongly and more clearly”. So, in order to authentically and totally trust God, we “must” know Him…really know Him! The Message Bible sums it up this way, “Don’t let the wise brag of their wisdom. Don’t let heroes brag of their exploits. Don’t let the rich brag of their riches. If you brag, brag of this and this only: That you understand and know me. I’m God, and I act in loyal love. I do what’s right and set things right and fair, and delight in those who do the same things.These are my trademarks.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)