“Is There not a cause?” asked the shepherd David in Israel 3,000 years ago, when he witnessed the fear of Goliath among his fellow countrymen.
It’s bad enough when the enemies of your own life overwhelm you with fear. But when the enemies of your whole culture, indeed of the very kingdom of your God, are openly hostile to the absolute values and objectives of life itself, do you think we might possibly be encouraged by this memorable ancient landmark recorded so specifically for us in our Bible?
I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s insight in Romans 15:4, telling us that:
“whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
Do you think that our generation could use some hope? Do you sense that Christians and non-Christians alike are feeling overwhelmed by the “Goliaths” that threaten our very existence in today’s world?
Take a little time to personally review the story of David’s encounter on the battlefield with the giant Goliath in first Samuel 17.
There are lots of Scriptural encouragements. We must continually reflect on them when facing fearful conditions. Those causes may make us faint or recoil from the calling of God on His people and on us individually. We need strength that comes from His Word.
“The battle is the Lord’s”
1 Sam. 17:47.
And that declaration emboldened David to proclaim to his enemy that God “will give you into our hands.”
… Let’s read the whole passage beginning after Goliath’s cursing of David, at verse 45.
“ Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. 46 This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands.”
Read Psalm 2.
Why are the nations in an uproar
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
5 Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury, saying,
6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”
7 “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
8 ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
9 ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron,
You shall shatter them like earthenware.’”
10 Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
11 Worship the LORD with reverence
And rejoice with trembling.
12 Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!
“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”
2 Chron. 16:9
Let’s not forget what is the promise of God to those who chose the Lord’s true fast in Isaiah 58:10:
“If you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday.” And look at verse 12: “And those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will raise up the age-old foundations; and you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell.”
Does that remind you of the work of Nehemiah in ancient Israel?
“When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people; “Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”
In times of crisis the urgency for followers of Jesus to “Abide” in Him could not be more absolute. Read John 15:4-11
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9 Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
We all need to be reminded daily of the message of Galatians 6:2-10:
“Bear one another’s burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ.”
And we dare not forget about the warning of 1 Peter 5:8:
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
With all the negative and seemingly hopeless conditions surrounding our generation, do you think God, the Holy Spirit, might be speaking to us to “encourage one another day after day?” Read Hebrews 3:7-19.
“Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says,
“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,
8 DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME,
AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS,
9 WHERE YOUR FATHERS TRIED Me BY TESTING Me,
AND SAW MY WORKS FOR FORTY YEARS.
10 “THEREFORE I WAS ANGRY WITH THIS GENERATION,
AND SAID, ‘THEY ALWAYS GO ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART,
AND THEY DID NOT KNOW MY WAYS’;
11 AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH,
‘THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.’”
12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, 15 while it is said,
“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,
DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS, AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME.”
16 For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.”
Today’s poorly taught Christians need to rediscover the implications of what is written in several places like Hebrews 10:12-13 about the cause to which we are assigned.
“but he, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until his enemies be made a footstool for his feet.”
Who does the world belong to?
“…who did Abram tell the king of Sodom about God? Genesis 14:22 says: “But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth…”
Is God able?
“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?”
When you think about the enemies of God in the world today, do you have your hope in God or in man to deliver the righteous children of God by the grace of our Savior Jesus Christ?
The Devil may be “the god of this world (system)” the idol of people who ignore God Almighty, but that does not mean that Jesus has revoked the authority and jurisdiction that was validated by His resurrection.
“Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.”
When Jesus decreed from the cross, “it is finished” what remained yet to be done?
Colossians 2:15 says:
“He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”
When does the end come?
“then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death.”
1 Corinthians 15:24-26
Are there enemies yet to be abolished besides the last enemy of death itself?
Read on to the last verse of chapter 15:
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”
The Bible teaches followers of Jesus Christ to ask God for wisdom when you realize that you lack it, and trust that He will give it to you. How do you think that wisdom is found? Can we really believe that there is practical wisdom available for the way forward from where we are right now? When the seemingly overwhelming crises of the world are swirling around us, how can we find a well-lighted path into some sort of sustainable future that we all want?
Joshua chapter one sets the stage after 40 years in the wilderness, facing one of the most challenging times of change that any people has ever faced. They were facing constant conflict and stress. In Joshua 24 Joshua summarizes that “we will serve the Lord.”
At the start of the years-long project to conquer the Promised Land God says in Joshua 1:8:
“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”
If we are honest, we all want success. When discouragement is all around us, God promised Joshua success when he kept his eyes on God and His Word. Could it be that God’s wisdom for those who are asking for it can come from a message like this that is delivered in a timely season?
Tom Morris put together a list of seven conditions for success that are strikingly universal and basic to practically any situation. These keys serve to lay a foundation for the most deeply satisfying and sustainable successes in life. We should apply them to every challenge, opportunity, endeavor, or relationship.
The 7 Cs of Success
(1) A clear CONCEPTION of what we want, a vivid vision, a goal clearly imagined.
(2) A strong CONFIDENCE that we can attain that goal.
(3) A focused CONCENTRATION on what it takes to reach the goal.
(4) A stubborn CONSISTENCY in pursuing our vision.
(5) An emotional COMMITMENT to the importance of what we’re doing.
(6) A good CHARACTER to guide us and keep us on a proper course.
(7) A CAPACITY TO ENJOY the process along the way.
There are, no doubt, other key concepts associated with success, but they can almost all be listed as components of one or more of these 7. These 7 Cs give us a logical and comprehensive framework for success.
Let’s take a moment to look at each concept. Start with our basic need to identify a goal or set of goals. What are the applications for each of the seven keys?
1 – A clear CONCEPTION of what we want, a vivid vision, a goal clearly imagined
No matter where we live or what we do or who we are… every facet of our lives that anticipates successful achievement of something needs us to think as clearly as possible what we want to accomplish and what we’d like to see happen.
It’s not enough to say “I want a job.” We must target what kind of job and where we want to work.
I’m reminded of the advice given to Alice in Wonderland (by the Cheshire cat – wasn’t it?). If you don’t know where you’re going it doesn’t matter which way you go. You’ll surely get there. But it may not be where you’d like to get.
True success starts with an inner vision. Sure, it’s incomplete at first. But the vision for your goal will grow once you define it. Just as Adam was given a defined goal to care for and develop the Garden of Eden, our world (as we find it) is just the raw material for what we can make of it. God created us to use our creative energies to bring unique expression to the world He made. It’s part of the condition of man to be made in the “image” of God – to be creative. It’s part of His nature and our nature to be creative, artistic and expressive. When we have clear goals in our minds and express them with our words and actions (like writing them down) then we start to develop structure for our actions.
So what do you want? Get creative and think about where you want to go and what you want to be.
Did you know that if you choose to delight yourself in your Creator, He expressly promises to actually GIVE you the desires of your heart? That’s in Psalm 37.
“Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Is it possible that if we make a habit of pleasing and worshipping Him, He actually arranges things for us to think about goals and desires that originate from the heart of God Himself? Isn’t it interesting to know the origin of the word “desire”? Think of it. “Sire” means “to father.” “De” means “of”… so “Desire” means “of the Father.” Could it be that our ability for creative expression — in dreaming about and planning goals — is a direct reflection of being created in the image of God? If you are delighting yourself in the Lord He is promising to impart those heart desires and help you see them fulfilled.
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2 – A strong CONFIDENCE that we can attain the goal
Jesus tells us in Luke 12:6-7 that “you are of more value than many sparrows.”
If confidence is in any way related to faith, then how do we develop stronger confidence… stronger faith? The Bible says that faith comes by hearing the word. Let’s face it, the more we listen to and think about whatever we choose, the more knowledge about it we gain and the more confidence or faith we have in those words and concepts. What’s our inside attitude? It is absolutely the foundational key to outside results.
Are you launching a new enterprise? Do you desire to seek a new direction? You need upfront faith in what you’re doing. Do whatever it takes to learn about your goal to have the faith, the confidence and the reassurance that you will arrive at your desired destination. If we lack experience we may have to work hard to generate a confident attitude. Is it worth it? You bet it is. Get the coaching and the education with someone who has been there before you. In the process, you will raise your prospects for success. If you want confidence … then develop competence. Let your natural curiosity urge you to dig deep in your study of the things that will help you achieve success in reaching your goal. Will this guarantee success? No… but your faith will compel you to take the risk anyway. And what if you fail? You’re just one step closer to success. You must fail. It’s part of the pathway to success. You will learn much and become stronger in the process.
3 – A focused CONCENTRATION on what it takes to reach the goal
The Bible tells us to do whatever we do with all our heart as a direct service to God and not just ourselves or other people. Aim to please God no matter what you do… it’s the best thing you can do to assure success in reaching your goal. Concentrate on your goal with focus. When children are raised to succeed at little goals and then expand to bigger goals, they will be prepared to dream about even bigger goals as they grow up. It’s important to understand that big dreams can lead to big disappointments if we don’t learn how to chart our way forward.
If we concentrate on the “what it takes” part of our vision, then our success at anything challenging will come from planning our path and then putting that plan into action.
It’s a well known Biblical principle that what you concentrate on (what you think about continually) is what you tend to become. “As a man thinks, so is he.” If you concentrate your thought and devote a lot of your energy into a new direction, two things will happen. Your goal will become clearer and your mind will find new pathways of seeing things that you might have missed before.
New ideas and insights will come to your mind. Providence has a way of guiding you to discover things you never noticed before and that relate to the goal you’ve set. Focused concentration allows you to develop plans naturally. Then you can act and adjust along the way. Even a flawed plan can get you started and lead you to where you can discover a better plan.
4 – A stubborn CONSISTENCY in pursuing our vision
I discovered that the word consistency comes from two Greek roots — a verb meaning “to stand” and a particle meaning “together.” Consistency is all about standing together.
Now just think about it. Ask yourself: “Do my actions stand together with my words?”
Go deeper. Ask: “Do my reactions and emotions stand together with my deepest beliefs and values?” This should cause some determination to rise up within our soul. If it doesn’t then your heart isn’t in your vision in the first place.
But then the challenge gets a little harder. Ask, “Do the people I work with stand together?” You may have to deliberately find new associations who support the vision you’re pursuing. If you want success, it’s important to hang around people who are supportive to your success. This is what consistency is all about. It’s a matter of unifying your energy and efforts in a single direction. Inconsistency defuses power. Consistency moves us toward our goals.
5 – An emotional COMMITMENT to the importance of what we’re doing
Ever think about the difference between “interested” and “committed?” Who would you rather have on your team? Why should anyone bother pursuing something of value without commitment to the pursuit? Passion is the core of extraordinary success. It’s a key to overcoming difficulties, seizing opportunities, and getting other people excited about your projects.
6 – A good CHARACTER to guide us and keep us on a proper course
Character inspires trust. Nothing is more attractive to other people than trustworthiness, especially in a world where there is so much mistrust and suspicion. And trust is necessary for people to work together well. Good character is required for great collaboration. Today’s world shows us that innovative partnerships are key to successful achievements. Collaboration and synergy are the new ‘currency’ of great accomplishments. Excellence in moral character is foundational for working well together more than ever before.
And good character does a lot more than just promote trust. It truly has an effect on each person’s own inner sense of freedom and insight. Bad character not only corrupts, it blinds. A person whose perspective has been deeply skewed by selfishness or dishonesty cannot understand what’s true as perceptively as someone whose sensibilities are ethical and full of positive moral character. Good character makes sustainable success more likely.
7 – A CAPACITY TO ENJOY the process along the way
I’ve found that if we don’t enjoy the journey we probably can’t fully appreciate the destination. The more you can enjoy the process of what you’re doing, the more likely you’ll have better results in the end. It’s easier to set creative goals when you truly enjoy the process of your everyday activities toward those goals. Confidence will come more naturally. Your concentration can seem effortless. Consistency will not be a battle. The emotional commitment will flow. And issues of character will not be as difficult to manage. A capacity to enjoy the process is inseparably part of every other factor of success.
These conditions of success are all intimately connected. They make up a fittingly designed framework that allows us to discover the most fulfilling forms of achievement in everything we do. They will help us to leave a legacy for the next generation that will truly be honored. They will energize and direct us to worthy accomplishments with a satisfaction that can be best characterized by the approval of our Maker when He tells us, “well done faithful servant.”
Why should we ever settle for anything less?
With all the bad new we hear around our affluent culture today, it’s easy to fall into pessimism and a rather grim expectation for the future.
It can seem like the time of the judges in the Bible when “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
Judges 1-2 stresses that Israel’s tribes failed to obey God in driving out all of the abominable pagan Canaanites from the land.
- They disobeyed the true and living God and allowed lewd idolatrous gods to become a trap to them.
- After Joshua’s death a younger generation arose that did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel. Why not?
- They did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals.
- They ignored the Godly ways of their fathers and played the harlot after false gods, turning aside from obeying the commandments of the Lord.
For anyone who is aware of his current world, there is no doubt that there are some pretty scary physical omens of…
- The HoneyBee colony collapse syndrome could quickly result in massive crop failures and widespread global famine.
- Even though mankind’s influence is miniscule, the prospect of severe changes in the climate could affect the choices that many humans have to make in coming decades.
- Whether a rogue nation detonates a high altitude bomb to cause an EMP or it happens naturally from solar storms on the sun, the fear of the collapse of much of our electronic technology could result in the death of 90% of the highly dependent population.
- The failure of pharmaceutical-based medicine to prevent the rise of Super bugs (diseases) raises the potential of large-scale epidemics like the plagues and pestilences of both the ancient past and even the major epidemics of modern times.
- The Muslim immigration to Western Countries predicts the total transformation of many cultural norms in the next two decades.
- The continuation of the ‘me’ generation, notably given to Abortion means the inevitable loss of population growth in western Christian culture.
- The unwillingness of governments to manage finances conservatively will inevitably lead to Economic collapse, inflation and depression.
- The Irrational delusion of leftist secular philosophy is overtaking the masses who have no self restraint. They are being manipulated by ‘mountains’ of influence that the church has failed to reclaim for the kingdom of Christ.
What do the facts say about what’s happening in our world?
Check out: World Revival Network Blog – “Why you have been duped into believing that the world is getting worse and worse.” http://worldrevivalnetwork.blogspot.com/2015/08/why-you-have-been-duped-into-believing.html
“Based on social media and television news reports, multitudes are convinced that the world is growing worse and worse. Yet, there’s absolutely no evidence of this. By every measurable standard, life is improving around the globe. Darkness is fading and the goodness of God’s Kingdom is truly taking root.”
War and Violence have been going down.
There has never been a time in world history where the masses have been escaping poverty like they have in our present generation.
In 1720 the average man in England only lived to be about thirty years of age. Currently most are living past the age of eighty.
The number of those who claim to be Christians around the world has nearly quadrupled in the last century, from about 600 million in 1910 to more than 2.3 billion as of 2011.
There is greater prosperity, peace, and health than ever before in recorded history. The Kingdom of God is boldly advancing and it’s transforming everything in its wake.
We need to let go of our pessimistic, “doom and gloom” worldview and truly embrace the good news of the gospel of the kingdom of God. As Jesus promised, His Holy Spirit is working through His people to bring blessing and life to a world that has been ravaged by darkness.
What can change the World? What is the reason for True Hope?
“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the Land of the living.”
Is it possible that God is raising up a generation to repent and reform a culture, guiding a new generation to God?
How must we live? Think? Act? Are we willing to think beyond ourselves and prepare to equip the “next generation” in Reclaiming their legacy?
1 Be grateful for what you have
- Focus on positive things you have.
- Write down 10 things you’re thankful for.
- Post that list and read it often.
2. Set Goals – both short term and long term
- Aimlessness brews frustration.
- Make a daily to-do list and check things off as they are done.
- Write where you want to be in a year and beyond.
3. Take care of your physical body
- Be deliberate about eating nourishing foods the build up.
- Thoughtfully avoid toxic substances you know destroy your health.
- Make a quest of finding things that enhance your wellness.
4. Take your focus off yourself
- Do 5 nice acts of kindness daily for others.
- Love the blessing of giving without expecting payback.
- Remember that what goes around comes around.
5. Put a guard on your mouth
- Consciously monitor your words to edify others.
- Your thoughts don’t all need to be spoken.
- Be careful about what you think about to guide what you say.
6. See yourself as who you want to grow into
- Find admirable role models to watch how they behave.
- Daily work on learning and doing the things that will improve you.
- Be patient with yourself as you would with a child you are coaching.
7. Express your creative self in some way each day
- Feelings of satisfaction with yourself improve when you create
- Do little creative acts with your appearance or your home environment.
- Be creative with how you treat other people.
8. Refuse the fear of failure.
- Embrace the fact that success is always built on multiple failures.
- Draw encouragement from life stories of others who overcame difficulty.
- Do uncomfortable things first, not just things in your comfort zone.
9. Do Not condemn yourself or labor your negative past or present.
- Think about what your Creator has done for your advantage.
- If it’s to be it’s up to me, always remembering you live by God’s grace.
- Think: If others can achieve it, why not me and why not now? Just get to work.
10. Stay in the moment
- When your thoughts drift to past hurts, decide you’re going to refocus on what you do now.
- Rather than worrying about future problems that might happen ask what you can do now.
- Look for things you can change for better outcomes in the short term.
11. Being happy is a deliberate pursuit.
- Smile more. You can give one without losing yours.
- Find others who are joyful and learn from them.
- Laugh often when you have the slightest reason.
12. Recharge your emotional energy daily.
- Find 5 minutes of quiet time several times a day.
- Optimism requires refocusing on happy thoughts.
- Deliberately praise others and especially God.
“For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. 7 He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD. 8 His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.”
“Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
9 For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.
10 In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
11 But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace (prosperity).”
Whether we are employed or not, the challenges facing us in today’s world require us to make choices that produce prosperity for more than ourselves.
We face so many crises today, but the one issue rarely identified as a real crisis is at the root of practically all the problems. It’s a crisis in integrity.
So many problems would be greatly diminished or perhaps even disappear if people had acted with integrity and honor. Before we take a look at how we individually can make the best choices for the challenges of the future, we need to recognize the serious reality of what all of us are facing.
Just think of some of the society-wide problems that are happening today. We choose how we deal with them. Hiding our faces doesn’t make the problems go away.
Physical problems: environmental toxicity issues; chronic degenerative health conditions; shortages; dangers and side effects from natural disasters.
Social problems: political corruption; public policy decisions; civil unrest; conflicts of world views.
Financial problems: Debt; Inflation; unemployment.
Personal problems: fear of the future; peace of mind; relational problems.
So, what do we do to maintain a sense of stability in such a swirling confusion of negative woes?
Trusting God must be the foundation of our plans and actions.
Read Psalm 37:1-11 “Fret not yourselves because of evil doers… trust in the Lord and do good. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it.”
Integrity must be what we determine to maintain no matter what.
What are the Marks of Integrity?
An article by Charles R. Swindoll focused on a vital concept found in 1 Cor. 11:28, 31.
“But let a man examine himself…”
“..If we judged ourselves rightly, we should not be judged.”
Integrity is a very personal matter of our individual willingness to be accountable to the truths and values to which we have committed ourselves.
What are the marks of integrity that God wants in our lives. Do you have these marks of integrity?
- An excellent attitude
- Faithfulness and diligence at work
- Personal purity of the highest caliber
- Consistency in your walk with God
A reminder: Only you can do the surgery on your soul. Only you! No one else can know the truth. You can cover up, twist the facts in your mind, rationalize, and ignore . . . and no one will know the difference but you. But if you really value integrity, you will come to terms with the whole truth, regardless of the consequences. Daniel refused to compromise and consequently was thrown into the lions’ den. Look what God did. He honored Daniel’s faithfulness. He’ll do the same for you.
Integrity is a matter of consistency in living out your values
Conformity leads to compromise. Compromise leads to mediocrity. Mediocrity leads to sin and a wasted life. Finally, a wasted life leads to a lost legacy. Dennis Rainey
No position in life can be secure, and no achievement can be permanent unless built upon truth and justice. Napoleon Hill
You see, we are successful when we are steadily becoming the unique person God intends us to become and when we are doing what he asks us to do. Pamela Heim
Discipline is the price you pay for freedom…Discipline restores your freedom of choice.
Norman Vincent Peale
Now if it is true that God is both Truth and Love it will be readily seen that the greatest sins will be unreality, hypocrisy, deceit, lying, or whatever we choose to call sins against truth, and self-love which makes fellowship with other people and their proper treatment impossible. J.B. Phillips
It is better to fail in a cause that will ultimately succeed, than to succeed in a cause that will ultimately fail. Peter Marshall
Christians must seek to behave among men in a way that brings praise to their Father in heaven. J.I. Packer
HOW TO CULTIVATE INTEGRITY
Cultivating integrity is not easy. It is developed on a daily basis, moment by moment, decision by decision, test by test.
Psalms 26:11 – David saw it as a walk: “But as for me, I will walk in my integrity…” It is something we do, a step at a time.
We cultivate our integrity as we respond to the circumstances we face every day. It doesn’t matter if the circumstances are big or little. They are equally effective in testing our core honesty. Some pass these tests better than others. Abraham failed such a test, yielding to the fear of man rather than the promises of God. He didn’t lie outright, but he told only part of the truth, acting as if he were Sarah’s brother. It nearly cost him his inheritance. When the pagan king learned that something was wrong because he took Sarah, he told the Lord, “In the integrity of my heart I have done this. I did not know she was this man’s wife, or I would never have taken her.” The Lord replied, “Yes, I know, and it was because of your integrity that I stopped you from sinning against me.” (Genesis 20:1-7)
David did not wait for circumstances to test him. He had the courage to invite God to test him. He had what some call aggressive integrity, insisting that God sift his heart and examine him: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; (24) and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalms 139:23, 24)
Pray like David: Psalm 26:2: “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart.”
HAVING OUR INTEGRITY TESTED
The Biblical account of Job is really a story about a good man who had his integrity tested. It’s evident by the question God asked Satan at the start of the Book:
“Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.” (Job 2:3)
People have tried to fit other interpretations for the “why” behind this story, but this is the only reason God gave. What is otherwise a difficult book to read becomes more relevant to our lives when read in light of how God will allow our integrity to be tested. Job’s wife certainly saw this as the issue, when she said, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” Even his friends raised the question of integrity: “Is not your fear of God your confidence? And the integrity of your ways your hope?”
Sometimes hanging on to our integrity is our only hope for recovery. Job held fast to his, saying,
“Far be it from me that I should say you are right; till I die I will not put away my integrity from me.”
In the end, all he could say was:
“Let me be weighed on honest scales, that God may know my integrity.”
When we come to the end of our difficult circumstances, sort through all the accusations thrown at us, examine the differences in beliefs and practices which threaten to divide us, or look at all the personality conflicts we face, they can be seen as the tests which assess the depth and development of our integrity.
When we recognize that those trials bring our integrity to bear, will we stand fast.
Integrity means ‘singleness.’ Will we maintain singleness of mind and purpose in our work and in our personal lives? God is challenging us to have integrity to shine brightly to make a true difference in the world around us. He is looking for the men and women of integrity. Will we stand in the face of challenges to do His will, no matter what? Let’s dedicate our lives to reclaim the legacy of integrity. May God give specific direction in how He will fulfill his purpose in your life.
When you think about taking a proactive change of direction to reclaim your legacy, what do you think is the most important thing that you have personally learned in your lifetime so far? With your focus on making a positive influence on your children and grandchildren – your next generation – what truth or idea have you discovered that is such a powerful influence on your own life that you would have to include it among the very top dozen or so important things that you have ever learned in your life?
Who is the one man to influence generations for God’s kingdom?
I recently read a sermon delivered by a gospel preacher who lived over 250 years ago before America became a nation. He was born in Gloucester, England, in 1714 and is often referred to as the greatest English preacher who ever lived. In both England and the American Colonies, he passionately gave himself to proclaiming Christ mostly in open air outdoor meetings heard by thousands of people at a time. One historian estimated that he preached a thousand sermons a year for 30 years. He was perhaps the most influential single person God used to create the society-transforming phenomenon of the middle 1700s called “the Great Awakening.” He became an early example of modern evangelists acquainted with the notable English pastor, John Wesley, who became best friends with one of the most influential men in the founding of America – Benjamin Franklin. Who was this unique man? (more…)
You might wonder why a whole society seems to drift into a hardened rejection of the knowledge of God. Why do people who resist God seem to fall prey to deeper and deeper deceptions in so many areas of life?
What do you want?
- Confidence in your purpose in life?
- To be pleasing to your Creator?
- Victory over destructive influences in life?
- Character qualities that glorify God?
- Greater insight for success in your own journey?
- Optimal physical well being and health?
- Freedom to use your gifts most effectively?
- Greater impact and influence on the world around you?
A wise man will hear and increase in learning and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Proverbs 1:5, 7
One of my best lessons I ever learned…
“My people are destroyed from a lack of knowledge.”
“Through knowledge the righteous are delivered.”
“… if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
What is the primary way that God gives His wisdom to those who ask of Him?
Much has been researched and written lately about the proven personal benefits of expressing genuine gratitude. It turns out that thankfulness is not typically a result of being happy, but rather the opposite is true. People who deliberately and openly confess their thankfulness to others are the happiest of people. And isn’t it interesting that those who recognize that their lives have a purpose are the ones who are prone to give thanks to their Creator and to those around them.
Have you discovered your purpose? Do you have a clear reason why you’re excited to get up in the morning? If you have a mission to drive your daily goals, you’re a much happier person than those who are just being driven by survival mode.
We’re a nation of people that has a centuries-old tradition of celebrating annual solemn days of Thanksgiving. Yet, it seems that our current generation has almost no concept of the deeply personal conviction of the importance of gratitude. And it’s pretty obvious that that gratitude should most deservedly be directed to the Almighty Giver of every blessing and perfect gift in our lives.
It seems like everybody is scrambling frantically to demand that their comforts and material desires be accommodated. How often we see people so ungrateful that complaints and cynical dissatisfaction has become society’s normal? Things haven’t changed much in 2,000 years have they?
Remember The Sin of Ingratitude in Luke 17:7-19?
Jesus healed ten men of leprosy. One of them was a Samaritan man. He was the only one of the ten who came back to Jesus and humbly thanked Him for healing him. Jesus asked him: “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Sadly, my missionary friend in Africa reports that barely 10% of those they help will bother to express their gratitude with even a word of thanks or a note card. Gratitude may be rare, but those who express it discover the most enriching lives on earth. Instead of loneliness, poverty and depression, they are the ones most inclined to be enriched, energized, inspired and transformed
Gratitude goes counter to the ‘victim mentality’ that has deceived so many who think they are entitled to everything at the expense of others in our culture. When we give thanks sincerely, we acknowledge that we have received a benefit that is unearned. We can’t help but look beyond ourselves.
When you are stunned with the reality that you survived what could have been a fatal event, how does that make you feel?
After the victory of the Battle of Saratoga during the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress proclaimed the first National Day of Thanksgiving, November 1, 1777. How did they express their feeling? Here’s what they wrote in the proclamation:
“The grateful feeling of their hearts… join the penitent confession of their manifold sins… that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance… and… under the providence of Almighty God… secure for these United States the greatest of all human blessings, independence and peace.”
If we want to reclaim our true history, we are going to have to work at telling our children about our real history. It isn’t being taught in most schools and colleges today. Thomas Jefferson was the governor of Virginia in 1779. What did he chose to proclaim for his State after Admiral John Paul Jones captured the British ship HMS Serapis? The Continental Congress declared a Day of Thanksgiving, which
“Congress… hath thought proper… to recommend to the several States… a day of public and solemn Thanksgiving to Almighty God, for his mercies, and of Prayer, for the continuance of his favour… That He would go forth with our hosts and crown our arms with victory; That He would grant to His church, the plentiful effusions of Divine Grace, and pour out His Holy Spirit on all Ministers of the Gospel; That He would bless and prosper the means of education, and spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth… I do therefore… issue this proclamation… appointing… a day of public and solemn Thanksgiving and Prayer to Almighty God… Given under my hand… this 11th day of November, in the year of our Lord, 1779… Thomas Jefferson.”
Hear what that same Continental Congress proclaimed after Benedict Arnold’s traitorous plot to betray West Point was thwarted. It was a Day of Thanksgiving, October 18, 1780:
“In the late remarkable interposition of His watchful providence, in the rescuing the person of our Commander-in-Chief and the army from imminent dangers, at the moment when treason was ripened for execution… it is therefore recommended… a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer… to confess our unworthiness… and to offer fervent supplications to the God of all grace… to cause the knowledge of Christianity to spread over all the earth.”
After British General Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, Congress proclaimed a Day of Thanksgiving, October 11, 1782:
“It being the indispensable duty of all nations… to offer up their supplications to Almighty God… the United States in Congress assembled… do hereby recommend it to the inhabitants of these states in general, to observe… the last Thursday… of November next, as a Day of Solemn Thanksgiving to God for all his mercies.”
After the Treaty of Paris ended the Revolutionary War, Congress recommended that the States declare a Day of Thanksgiving. Massachusetts Governor John Hancock, the former President of the Continental Congress, proclaimed a Day of Thanksgiving, November 8, 1783:
“The Citizens of these United States have every Reason for Praise and Gratitude to the God of their salvation… I do… appoint… the 11th day of December next (the day recommended by the Congress to all the States) to be religiously observed as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer, that all the people may then assemble to celebrate… that he hath been pleased to continue to us the Light of the Blessed Gospel… That we also offer up fervent supplications… to cause pure Religion and Virtue to flourish… and to fill the world with His glory.”
After the U.S. Congress passed the First Amendment, it requested President George Washington issue a National Day of Thanksgiving, which he did, October 3, 1789:
“Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me ‘to recommend to the People of the United States a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness; ‘Now, therefore, I do recommend… Thursday, the 26TH DAY of NOVEMBER … to be devoted by the People of these United States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be… That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble Thanks… for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government… particularly the national one now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed… to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue.”
On January 1, 1795, President George Washington proclaimed a Day of Thanksgiving:
“When we review the calamities, which afflict so many other nations… the great degree of internal tranquility we have enjoyed – the recent confirmation of that tranquility by the suppression of an insurrection which so wantonly threatened it – the happy course of public affairs in general – the unexampled prosperity of all classes of our citizens; our circumstances which peculiarly mark our situation with indications of the Divine beneficence towards us. In such a state of things it is, in an especial manner, our duty as people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God and to implore Him to continue and confirm the blessings we experience… I, George Washington, President of the United States, do recommend to all religious societies and denominations, and to all persons whomsoever, within the United States, to set apart…a Day of public Thanksgiving and Prayer: and on that day to meet together and render their sincere and hearty thanks to the great Ruler of Nations.”
After hearing those inspiring proclamations from national leaders – which, by the way, were entirely inspired by the attitude of profoundly committed preachers in the churches of the American colonies – doesn’t it seem about time that the pastors of our Bible-believing congregations lead the way for reclaiming our lost legacy for the current generation? Should they not humbly call for days of contrition, repentance and sober thanksgiving? We have such excellent Biblical and historic precedents to guide our way.
Taking God’s Blessings for Granted
Dr. Martin Luther observed: “The greater God’s gifts and works, the less they are regarded.” It seems that the blessings of life, health, freedom and food are not really appreciated unless they are lost, or threatened. Sunrises and sunsets occur daily so they are taken for granted aren’t they?
Consider the Stars
Ralph Waldo Emerson observed that “If the constellations appeared only once in a thousand years, imagine what an exciting event it would be. But because they are there every night, we barely give them a look.”
The Blessings of Being Hungry and Lonely
Have you noticed that the blessings of rain are barely appreciated unless one has been through a drought? A hungry man is more thankful for a tiny morsel than most affluent Americans for their table full of choice foods. A lonely woman in a nursing home will appreciate a visit more than a rock star with a crowd of fans. A Christian who has suffered under persecution for decades and receives his first copy of the Holy Scriptures is more thankful for one book than we are for all the Christian books, Bible translations and magazines that overflow our shelves.
You Should Experience Blindness for a Few Days
Helen Keller said: “I have often thought that it would be a blessing if each human being were stricken blind and deaf for a few days for some time during his early adult life. It would make him more appreciative of sight and of the joys of sound.”
A Biblical Command
There are at least 138 passages of Scripture that deal with the subject of thanksgiving. We are commanded: “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His Name.” Psalm 100:4.
“Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” Psalm 107:8.
“Give thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the Kingdom of light.” Colossians 1:12.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7.
Joyful, Prayerful and Thankful
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Plainly it is God’s will for us to be joyful, prayerful and thankful.
A Sacrifice of Praise
“Therefore, by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His Name.” Hebrews 13:15.
What makes praise a sacrifice? Could it be that when the blessings we are thankful for have not yet manifested themselves in God’s providence?
A Good Habit
“It ought to be as habitual for us to thank as to ask.” C. H. Spurgeon
The Parent of All Virtues
It has been said that a thankful heart is the parent of all virtues.
What is the Root of Sin?
“The wrath of God is being revealed from Heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness… for although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Romans 1:18-21. Look! The failure to give thanks to God is the root sin that leads to futile thinking and foolish, darkened hearts. Think about that.
One of the Worst Sins
In 1 Timothy 3:1-5 the apostle Paul gives a list of some of the most terrible sins including: “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, traitorous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power.” Did you see that ungratefulness is listed in the middle of a list of horrible sins?
A Fruit of Character
What’s one of the first lessons good parents teach their children is to say? “Thank You”. It takes character and courage to admit being in debt to others. It is humbling. However, those who cannot admit their indebtedness to others cannot learn, nor can they seek forgiveness.
Failure to express gratitude is more than immaturity and rudeness, it is ungodly. We are commanded to honour our parents, our elders and our leaders. It is a sign of maturity to acknowledge indebtedness. Have you learned anything? Then you’re in debt to somebody else, aren’t you? We are all in debt, first, and mostly, to God Himself, for our life, health, food, talents, family, friends, opportunities and for our salvation itself. We are also in debt to past generations who have sacrificed for the freedoms we now enjoy: Reformers, martyrs, pioneers, missionaries, soldiers, parents, teachers, pastors and so many others have sacrificed for our benefit.
An Attitude of Entitlement
Instead of the Christian character of gratitude, our present culture prefers to promote an attitude of entitlement. This is the very opposite of gratitude. It builds on pride and covetousness. It is fuelled by bitterness, greed and envy. All too many in the present humanistic society take things for granted, demand to get, rather than seeking to give. It is sheer wickedness, and is a sure road to being led astray by all sorts of empty promises and destructive ideas.
An Attitude of Gratitude
A grateful mind is a great mind. “Be thankful, therefore, for the least benefit and thou shalt be worthy to receive greater.” Thomas a Kempis. Start giving thanks to God and the humblest of servants like your garbage man for the little blessings in life. Start today to write notes of sincere gratitude to people who have blessed you in any small way. Ask God to guide your thoughts. Partner with a friend to hold one another accountable in your new habit of expressing gratitude.
“It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to Your Name, O Most High; To declare Your loving kindness in the morning and Your faithfulness every night.” Psalm 92:1-2.
Pride, Ingratitude and Unteachability
Those who do not take advice do not think they have anything to learn. They are often the same people who have a problem expressing a genuine heartfelt gratitude to others. It is a sign of pride to be ungrateful. It reveals an unwillingness to acknowledge a debt to others. By God’s grace, when we are humble enough to admit our wrong, He is powerful enough to enable us to change. We can be a thankful person.
Let’s Make this season a Turning Point for expressing Thanks-giving.
List 7 things you are thankful for in your personal life today.
Call 2 people who you can honestly thank for something they contributed to your life.
Privately talk to God about the gratitude you have for His saving grace.
Take 2 minutes to begin pondering the incredible blessings you have to live now.
Promise yourself you will thank the next 10 people you encounter for something they did for you, even if it’s just a common courtesy.
The results of gratitude?
You will become healthier. Recent studies suggest that gratitude strengthens the immune system, lowers blood pressure, improves sleep quality, and reduces inflammation in the body. Grateful people are also more inclined to eat better and exercise which obviously increases your wellness.
You will become a more compassionate person. When you make a routine of expressing gratitude to God and to others for tiny courtesies, you are looking beyond yourself. You will be kinder. You will be more forgiving. You will find joy in serving others and be willing to bear others’ burdens without expecting anything in return.
When you appreciate what you have, it’s impossible not to share it with others. On the other hand, you can’t give something away when you’re empty yourself. When you don’t know how rich you really are, you can’t take delight in sharing little insights with others. The more aware and thankful we are of the good things in our lives, the more we are able to give to others.
Your relationships will deepen. When you relate more gratefully to others you will draw closer and bond more deeply to the people in your life. When you express gratitude to the people you love, you become more satisfied with your relationships. You will reach out to others more easily. You’ll be more generous. You’ll be more forgiving and less judgmental.
A grateful heart is more content, more happy no matter what his circumstances are like. And a happy heart focuses more on the really important joys of peace and little blessings that make life worthwhile. That’s like a healing ointment to restore your health even when modern medicine can’t do it.
“Give thanks to the Lord, call on His Name; make known among the nations what He has done… Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:8,34.
– Reclaiming Your Legacy show Nov. 15, 2016
The Thanksgiving of 2016 should be remembered as one of America’s most notable times to give thanks for a major deliverance that God has done.
But like the victory of the allies over the greatly oppressive empire of Japan in 1945, I will always remember the historic commentary about the plea of General Douglas McArthur after World War 2 ended.
Do you know what happened?
General MacArthur pleaded with America’s churches to send a thousand Christian missionaries to Japan. Did they do it? No. The result? Japan is now a secular nation, mostly hardened against the gospel and waiting for a new generation of deliverance from a different kind of tyrannical bondage than the tenacious emperor who commanded kamikaze allegiance by his zealous fighters.
When God used Joshua to lead the Israelites to victory over the Canaanites to take possession of the Promised Land they were given a job to do. Remember? The individual tribes of Jacob’s family were given a province that they had to battle continuously in order to occupy their new home in freedom. Because the valiant Israelite settlers of Canaan didn’t stick to the mission they were given, their children wound up tolerating the immoral lifestyle of the Canaanite idolaters they were supposed to overcome.
God prophesied through the prophet Isaiah in chapter 44 and 45 that He would raise up a “shepard” named Cyrus, who did not have a previous knowledge of the Lord, beside whom there is no other God. That pagan king, was used by God to fulfill God’s purpose of restoring Jerusalem for the Israelite nation.
In our day, we must remind ourselves and the ignorant people around us that God is the sovereign King of kings who sets up kings and puts kings out. And we dare not forget that the founders of the only nation in the world to experience the freedoms of peace to proclaim the kingdom of God like no other in history has placed the authority in “We the People.”
People might mistakenly think we are a democracy where the majority rules. Let’s remember that we are a democratic Republic. Decisions are not made by the majority. They are made by the majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote. That is an entirely different thing.
One of the great gifts this season that I am so thankful for is that enough freedom loving Christians took action and voted. God allowed us to participate in the election of perhaps the only person on the political horizon who could actually be type of Cyrus the Great. He has the skills that God has invested in him to create an environment in this amazing land of ours to bring healing to people in nations all over the world.
Voting is the only way we can elect freedom loving representatives to govern our nation. Then we can confidently pray for our generation that the influence of the gospel of light and life and love and prosperity can bring the knowledge of our Savior to the remotest parts of creation. It takes hard work to diligently elect the right people. And that also means the right people have to be willing to sacrifice the conveniences of their life to represent the people.
If ever there was a time when we needed leadership like the sons of Issachar in ancient Israel, it is now. What was special about the sons of Issachar back in the days of King David, a thousand years before Christ’s time? We read about them in 1 Chronicles 12:32. “The sons of Issachar (were) men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do.”
We may not see any explanation or have any historical knowledge about why these particular men of one of the tribes of Israel (the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) were so gifted. Yet our spiritually minded hearts can’t help but cry out for extraordinary wisdom when we are faced with such overwhelming challenges as a nation of people. And let’s humbly recognize that just because we are citizens of the kingdom of heaven, our Lord and King of kings, commands us to ‘disciple the nations.’ And frankly, the Bible makes it clear that that is a very big part of the legacy that our Creator wants us to reclaim. (more…)
Have you found yourself lately asking questions like, “How can people be so stupid?” or “How can some politicians make such foolish decisions?”
Have you talked to a government schooled 20-something lately? Ever ask them some simple questions about geography, or history or the constitution?
What is the root cause of the destruction of even God’s own chosen people?
Hosea 4:6 says in the Bible, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.”
… and that is the observation that potentially alerts us today to make choices to change the course of human events — away from ignorance and toward the knowledge of God and his laws. That naturally leads to liberty, both personal and public, over time.