Archive for Trusting God

When All is Lost, Not All is Lost!

by Rev. Rick Robinson 

Did you ever feel like all hope was gone? Even when all is lost, all is not lost! Sometimes we fall short of what God expects of us, as believers. God knew we would fall short, before we even thought about it. Jesus told Peter he would deny him three times before the rooster crows and Peter argued with him about it. 

Luke 22:34

Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” 

Luke 22:54-62

Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”  But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.  A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” “Man, I am not!” Peter replied. About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”  Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

There are several reasons we come to a state of feeling hopeless. One of those reasons is our sin. Jesus didn’t love Peter any less in his failure, and He still loves you and me, no matter what we have (or have not) done. This is not an excuse for sin, but the enemy likes to beat you up with your sin. There is a difference between conviction and condemnation. When God brings your sin up, he always offers a solution. Repentance, and restitution when necessary, is all that is required for you to walk in freedom from the hopelessness that sin brings. The enemy always brings your sin up as a hopeless situation—one that has caused God to hate you. God hates our sin, but He always loves us. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

It is not always an intentional act of sin that causes our self inflicted pain. Just like Peter, our fear can get the best of us. God is always there for us, even when we are not thinking about it.

Our circumstances are another reason we may feel hopeless. You may be in a certain predicament because of your own foolish decisions or someone else’s decisions beyond your control. That does not mean it is beyond God’s control. I love this character study found in the book of Acts. As you read this excerpt, think about which of the characters you most relate to.

Acts 27:9-22

Much time had been lost, and sailing had already become dangerous because by now it was after the Fast. So Paul warned them, “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.” But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship. Since the harbor was unsuitable to winter in, the majority decided that we should sail on, hoping to reach Phoenix and winter there. This was a harbor in Crete, facing both southwest and northwest. When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they had obtained what they wanted; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete. Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the “northeaster,” swept down from the island. The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along. As we passed to the lee of a small island called Cauda, we were hardly able to make the lifeboat secure. When the men had hoisted it aboard, they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together. Fearing that they would run aground on the sandbars of Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and let the ship be driven along. We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved. After the men had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.

Are you seeking first your own desires? Have you given up all hope? Are you accepting the loss of things you thought were important, with thanksgiving to God for His mercy with the things that matter most? The enemy will always get you to focus on what could have, would have, and should have been. The only way Satan can defeat you, is to break your will to fight. Once you loose hope, everything bad that happens is traumatic, everything good that happens is too little too late, and your relationship with God (and others) will suffer along with you.

All these years after that shipwreck, the ship that was destroyed is lost and worthless in itself. The story of Paul has become part of the greatest book ever published, for all generations until Christ returns. The lives that were saved have untold stories of another opportunity for salvation before death. Only God knows the rest of the stories about the 276 passengers on board.

Storms are part of life. Sometimes we bring them upon ourselves, and sometimes they are beyond our control. Just as Jesus watched Peter deny him and just as God saw Paul in his distress, so is God watching you. Keep up your courage. Call out to Him in your distress, and realize that when all is lost, all is not lost.

Have you come to the place in your spiritual life, where you know for certain if you died today, you would go to heaven? For information about the ultimate hope, follow this link. 

Copyright 2012 Church Growth Associates, Inc.

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Help Wanted … Under Qualified But Overwhelmed

by Rick Robinson

Did you ever feel like God has call waiting, kind of like your telephone, and He switches between the calls He wants to talk to—and you’re the one on hold? Here you are in the most difficult of situations, and God doesn’t seem to be concerned about it at all. If this description fits your life right now, you and God are in a great place to help each other. Yes—I said help each other. Let me explain. There are scores of stories in the Bible to illustrate this, but I have selected accounts of Moses as an example. 

God called upon Moses to help deliver the people out of Egypt. God did not need Moses, any more than He needs us, but He loves working together with us. He is not cold and impersonal, but a relationship oriented God. Trusting us with a task is one of the ways God draws us closer together. Even as God ask Moses to participate in the deliverance of His people, Moses feels under qualified.

Exodus 3:10-11

“Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?”

God has great patience with Moses, showing Him miracles and proving His power, yet Moses continues to express his own feelings of being under qualified and overwhelmed, even begging the Lord to enlist someone else. 

Exodus 4:10

Then Moses said to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” 

Have you ever made excuses about why you can’t do something for God? I am a pro, but He is not impressed with that part of my resume. As Moses surrenders to “help” God with this task, we can see the relationship transformed as he transfers his trust from his own ability over to confidence in God. If you want your relationship with God to prosper, you too will have to look at the truth of His ability, not your own. 

While the people are in the desert for what should have been a short journey, disobedience sends things sideways. There is no meat and fresh produce in the desert and the people grumble wishing they had not left Egypt. Moses is found questioning his own relationship with God, because he is looking to himself for answers. Once again, Moses is feeling under qualified and overwhelmed and perhaps overlooked. Have you ever felt that way? You’re in good company and not alone like you thought. 

Numbers 11:11-15

So Moses said to the Lord, “Why have You been so hard on Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all this people on me? “Was it I who conceived all this people? Was it I who brought them forth, that You should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom as a nurse carries a nursing infant, to the land which You swore to their fathers’? “Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me, saying, ‘Give us meat that we may eat!’ “I alone am not able to carry all this people, because it is too burdensome for me. “So if You are going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in Your sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness.” 

Quail would migrate across the Sinai Peninsula in large numbers at certain times during the year, usually between March and April. God brought the birds over the camp of the Israelites with a great wind in the evening, and also wherever they camped for forty years, daily He dropped manna to the ground with the dew. Each family was to take what they needed with no leftovers. God made the manna unfit to eat overnight, so it was of no use trying to store up a supply. Daily trust in the Lord for provision was required. In case you wonder about it as you read, a measure of omer is about 2 liters. 

Exodus 16:16-24

This is what the Lord has commanded, ‘Gather of it every man as much as he should eat; you shall take an omer apiece according to the number of persons each of you has in his tent.’ The sons of Israel did so, and some gathered much and some little. When they measured it with an omer, he who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no lack; every man gathered as much as he should eat. Moses said to them, “Let no man leave any of it until morning.” But they did not listen to Moses, and some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul; and Moses was angry with them. They gathered it morning by morning, every man as much as he should eat; but when the sun grew hot, it would melt. Now on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, then he said to them, “This is what the Lord meant: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.” So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered, and it did not become foul nor was there any worm in it. 

This was not the normal manna they were familiar with. It melted in the sun, it became foul overnight, and it could be worked into nutritional bread. This was not a normal substance that the people recognized, it was a miracle. 

Deuteronomy 8:3

He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. 

If we want to live in the provision of God and share in deep fellowship with Him, we will need to take heed of these words the Prophet Isaiah wrote. 

Isaiah 55:8-9

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. 

Isaiah used this timeless picture of the heavens, which is a great illustration of the wonder of our God. We cannot even imagine the things He has created. The speed of light is our basic measurement for distance in space (the heavens). Light travels at some 186,000 miles per second. That means a beam of light could travel around the earth several times in one second. We don’t all own rockets, but most of us own a man made car. If you could drive your car non-stop to the sun, it would take over 160 years to get there, yet the light from the sun (God’s creation) reaches us in seconds. How great is your God? Are you still looking for provision on your own standard? Are you looking for a place to serve in your own ability or still making excuses of why you will fail? God wants to provide for you, and wants your help in some capacity. Most of all, God desires an intimate relationship with you. Did you know God has given you manna (bread) from heaven? Will you scoff and complain, or expect daily supply?

John 6:30-33

So they said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform? “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.’ ” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” 

You and I may be under qualified for certain things and we may be overwhelmed with others, but God is neither under qualified nor overwhelmed. His word will accomplish everything as He desires, and you are a part of that plan—we all are. 

Isaiah 55:10-11

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. 

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Let’s Play Trouble Swap!

by Rev. Rick Robinson

Everyone has some kind of trouble to deal with. What if there was a reality show called “Trouble Swap!” I bet you can think of a few people you would not like to swap your trouble with. There are even more people suffering in silence that you know nothing about. There are people right now that may wish they could have you as the other contestant on “Trouble Swap!”

Is that hard to believe? Do you feel like nobody cares what trouble you’re in, and everyone ignores the trouble you are having as though it were trivial? When you call the counseling center, does your call get put on hold with the 1965 song by The Fortunes “You’ve Got Your Troubles (I’ve Got Mine)” playing.

Each trial we go through brings with it the opportunity to testify to the reality of God’s presence in our lives, or the opportunity for us to blow the testimony of His gospel. Our real problems come when we refuse to trust in the reality of God’s presence and power.

Are we intellectually dictating to God what we intend for Him to make of us, searching through the Bible to back up our demands? No–we must learn the discipline of submitting our intelligence (whatever we have) and our reasoning to Jesus Christ. The reality of God’s presence is not dependent on the evidence of a situation, but on His word. The unseen solution is much greater than the seen situation.

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 

You can see the unseen is greater than the seen by looking at this passage using the original Greek words. Faith is pistis–meaning conviction of the truth, assurance is hupostasis—meaning firm foundation, conviction is elegchos—meaning proof and things is pragma—meaning an accomplished fact. If you read Hebrews 11:1 in that light, this is what it says.

Now conviction of the truth is the firm foundation of things hoped for, the proof of accomplished facts not seen.

How beautiful and simple that is. We must have God’s word alive in us and walk in His light to deal effectively with our problems. Otherwise, you may as well hope for the best on a show called Problem Swap. The choice is yours. Are you spending time in God’s word to increase your conviction of the truth (faith) or just hoping for the best?

Romans 10:17

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

This is from the New American Standard Bible, some versions read “by the word of God.” The word of Christ is a phrase that means hearing and learning about Jesus–which is the purpose of the word of God. In other words, conviction of the truth comes by learning about Jesus. Jesus Christ is everything to me. My eternal hope and my strength for the problems I cannot swap away. The Apostle Paul knew he could not swap away, or even pray away some of his problems.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

I am not saying we should not pray about our problems–we should. Many of them are self inflicted, and many may not be as bad as they seem, especially in light of the wide array of trouble swap contestant wannabes. One thing that all problems have in common is that God has allowed them. When things do turn around for us we must not then have an “I’ll take it from here!” attitude with God. Complete reliance on Jesus Christ is the standard of living for the Christian. We must strive not to walk in the light of our experience, (or someone else’s) but in the light of God’s word.

Do you have this almighty Christ, or just the attributes and experiences of a believer? There must be total abandonment to Christ for us to obtain true peace through our problems. Jesus loves you and gave his life for you that you can have an eternal relationship with him. Don’t let your problems cut you off from the solution God has provided. Religion by itself, will display attributes only as deep as experience can take you–but a relationship with Christ will show you the unseen is much greater than the seen.

Romans 8:35-39

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

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Gone To the Dogs

by Rev. Rick Robinson

When someone speaks of something going to the dogs, it usually annotates a distinct turn for the worse. Have you ever felt like your life was going to the dogs? How did those lovable dogs get a bad rap for a saying like that anyway? Dogs were not always as popular as they are today. There was a time when calling someone a dog was a serious insult–in fact; the Bible is full of contemptuous references to dogs.

The book of Revelation places dogs on a list of outcast.

Revelation 22:14

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.

The psalmist compares his enemies to dogs. Keep in mind that the narrowness and the darkness of the streets at night, along with the odd corners, made the cities vulnerable to violence. Evil people could hide easily to wait on unsuspecting victims. Dogs roamed the area looking for food with howling and growling.

Psalm 59:14

They return at evening, they howl like a dog, And go around the city. They wander about for food and growl if they are not satisfied.

Many of the religious Jews would refer to Christians as dogs, and Paul dished it right back at them as he also mentions his list of achievements from their standards.

Philippians 3:2-7

Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.

In volume 6 of his books of Antiquities, the famous ancient historian Josephus gives account of a conversation between David and Goliath.

Accordingly he laid by the armor, and taking his staff with him, and putting five stones out of the brook into a shepherd’s bag, and having a sling in his right hand, he went toward Goliath. But the adversary seeing him come in such a manner, disdained him, and jested upon him, as if he had not such weapons with him as are usual when one man fights against another, but such as are used in driving away and avoiding of dogs; and said, “Dost thou take me not for a man, but a dog?” To which he replied, “No, not for a dog, but for a creature worse than a dog.” This provoked Goliath to anger, who thereupon cursed him by the name of God, and threatened to give his flesh to the beasts of the earth, and to the fowls of the air, to be torn in pieces by them. To whom David answered, “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a breastplate; but I have God for my armor in coming against thee, who will destroy thee and all thy army by my hands; for I will this day cut off thy head and cast the other parts of thy body to the dogs; and all men shall learn that God is the protector of the Hebrews, and that our armor and our strength is in his providence; and that without God’s assistance all other warlike preparations and power are useless.”  — Flavius Josephus

In the book of Kings we read that King Ahab wanted a piece of ground that was near his palace. He asked the owner to sell it to him, but he was not willing to sell because his father had given it to him before he died.  

1 Kings 21:1-3

Now it came about after these things that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard which was in Jezreel beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden because it is close beside my house, and I will give you a better vineyard than it in its place; if you like, I will give you the price of it in money.” But Naboth said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid me that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.”

Ahab was so upset about it that he would not even eat. The King’s wife, Jezebel, told him that he need not be troubled, for she could get the land for him. She cooked up a scheme to have Naboth killed by stoning. 

1 Kings 21:5-10

But Jezebel his wife came to him and said to him, “How is it that your spirit is so sullen that you are not eating food?” So he said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if it pleases you, I will give you a vineyard in its place.’But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’ Jezebel his wife said to him, “Do you now reign over Israel? Arise, eat bread, and let your heart be joyful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and sent letters to the elders and to the nobles who were living with Naboth in his city. Now she wrote in the letters, saying, “Proclaim a fast and seat Naboth at the head of the people; and seat two worthless men before him, and let them testify against him, saying, ‘You cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.” 

God was so displeased with the actions of this couple, he told Ahab the dogs would lick his blood from the very spot his victim died, and the dogs would eat Jezebel. This was understood in that day as the fate of the most despicable people. Dogs were often fed the remains of people who were executed and enemies of the King. The bodies were thrown outside the city for the dogs to eat. 

1 Kings 21:23

Of Jezebel also has the Lord spoken, saying, The dogs will eat Jezebel in the district of Jezreel. 

2 Kings 9:34-37

When he came in, he ate and drank; and he said, “See now to this cursed woman and bury her, for she is a king’s daughter.” They went to bury her, but they found nothing more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands. Therefore they returned and told him. And he said, “This is the word of the Lord, which He spoke by His servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, ‘In the property of Jezreel the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel;and the corpse of Jezebel will be as dung on the face of the field in the property of Jezreel, so they cannot say, “This is Jezebel.” 

Not all dogs were ruffians and misfits in that day. Many shepherd’s would lead sheep, fighting off any predators with the use of a sling and stones in front, while his dogs brought up the rear, ensuring that the sheep were not attacked by wild animals and keeping them in pace with the shepherd. Isaiah made reference to this double protection when he delivered his message from God. 

Isaiah 52:12

But you will not go out in haste, Nor will you go as fugitives; For the Lord will go before you, And the God of Israel will be your rear guard. 

Solomon writes a message of hope to those who feel life has gone to the dogs, placing a lion at the top of animals in nature (King of the jungle?) and a dog at the bottom of the animal kingdom. 

Ecclesiastes 9:4

For whoever is joined with all the living, there is hope; surely a live dog is better than a dead lion. 

So…do you feel like your life has gone to the dogs? Are your dreams wasting away? There is hope for you, no matter how bad you think your life is right now. Honor the Lord with your life and actions. Don’t let possessions control your actions as Ahab and Jezebel did. Possessions won’t bring you lasting peace or make you happy for long. Only a personal relationship with Jesus Christ can provide what you truly need. Place your trust in the God who will protect you from all sides and keep you on pace with Him. 

Copyright Church Growth Associates, Inc.

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Enjoy the Day

by Rev. Rick Robinson

I remember when I was an inventory manager at the Chevrolet store; a gentleman came in and introduced himself as Elvis Presley. The self proclaimed Elvis claimed he wanted to purchase 50 new pink Chevrolet Corvettes for his newest movie. I knew he wasn’t Elvis. I knew that there was no new Elvis movie scheduled for production. I also knew he was not going to buy 50 pink Corvettes. He had a woman he introduced as Pricilla with him. Mormons usually come in pairs, but it is unusual to have nutty people in pairs.

He wouldn’t take my word that Chevy doesn’t paint production Corvettes pink, and even if they did–I couldn’t get him 50 of them. He wanted to talk with someone that could get him the cars, so I introduced him to the sales manager. He was nice to the man too, but refereed him to another Chevrolet store to get him to leave.

Almost every time I go to a store to purchase something, the clerk greets me with “How are you today?“ and when I leave they tell me to “Have a nice day!” Do they care how I feel? Do they care if I have a good day? When you are having a bad day, do you explain that to the clerk? Do they even know your name? (Your real name.) There is someone who knows your name, cares how you feel and is sincere when he tells you to have a nice day. When you are walking through problems, it is an act of your will to have a nice day.

Psalm 118:24
This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it

God made this day and we should actively be thankful to Him. The word used for glad in this passage is samach–which means to be joyful and merry. Can you be joyful today? God really does want you to have a nice day. It is not all the things you can get that will make you happy. It is not all the things you do not have that will make you sad; it is your attitude.

1 Timothy 6:17
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.

I know there are things that happen that will make you sad, like the death of a loved one. Two of my friends died this week. There are times we become overwhelmed with circumstances. Jesus was moved to tears over the death of Lazarus.

John 11:32-35
Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept.

I cannot pretend there will not be trials that are overwhelming. I can only say there comes a time when being glad must be an act of the will. Knowing that God is in control. Knowing that God has the final say over our life and death. Those who are in Christ will be together again in a new place where things not imagined in this world will be enjoyed together.

How is your life ever going to become normal and happy again? Are you waiting to figure it out for yourself, or are you willing to accept that this is the day, which the Lord has made? If you focus on God’s word you will find strength–but if you focus on the world you will find no lasting hope, only uncertainty.

copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.

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How’s Your Vision?

By Rev. Rick Robinson

How is your vision? Are you seeing things clearly? Even if you have perfect vision, there may be a whole world out there you are missing. When I was a Mormon, I met a man named Charles Roesel. This man put his arm around me and said these words I will never forget. He said, “God loves you. One day I am going to baptize you and you’re going to join my church because I am going to be praying for you to get saved. Not only that… God is going to use you in ways you can’t even think or imagine right now.” How is that for vision? Charles had a vision for me before I could have one for myself. He used to make me so angry when he said things like that to me–yet every word of his vision came true.

Does your vision come from God, or is it something you dreamed up yourself? God has a perfect plan for your life, but you can miss out on some of it if you don’t have a clear vision. Your heart is the largest factor that will determine how great your vision is. Jesus often spoke in parables to his audience. A parable is like the skin of the Florida orange that keeps the flavor protected for the diligent, but keeps its delight from the lazy. Jesus explained to the disciples when they questioned him about it.

Matthew 13:13-16
“…I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE; FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES, OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.’ But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.

I know many people have vision for the future. They operate businesses, invest for the future, and make diligent plans enabled by their vision. If you have plans for the future that don’t include God’s plan for you, then you do not have eyes to see. There is a vast difference between earthly vision and godly vision.

Proverbs 2:6
For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Do you have vision for others in your life or do you just want to survive? Do you desire to prepare for the eternal future or just the temporal future? God has given us a “corrective lens” to improve our vision. The Bible is a light that gives direction for those who are willing to seek, but it is simply a distraction of life to the lazy who will not open it for the sweet delight inside.

2 Peter 1:19
So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.

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Who’s Hungry?

By Rev. Rick Robinson

Most people are at least somewhat familiar with the Bible story of Daniel in the lion’s den. The story takes place in a land full of hungry men and beast where all these hungers will meet. A group of wicked men were hungry to see the prophet Daniel dead. He was an outsider, being promoted above them by the king. Since these men could find no wrong with Daniel in deed or even neglect that would require him to be executed, they cooked up a scheme they thought would satisfy their appetite. The constitution of their land provided that if the king made a decree, it must be followed without compromise or exception. These men knew Daniel prayed to his God three times a day, so they convinced Darius the king to sign a decree that for the next thirty days, anyone praying to any god or man except the king would be fed to the hungry lions. Once the decree was signed, they knew Daniel’s hunger for his God would not fail. When Daniel prayed, they ran to the king and turned him in.

Daniel 6:10-13
Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously. Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and supplication before his God. Then they approached and spoke before the king about the king’s injunction, “Did you not sign an injunction that any man who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, is to be cast into the lions’ den?” The king replied, “The statement is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked.” Then they answered and spoke before the king, Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the injunction which you signed, but keeps making his petition three times a day.

The king was not happy about the whole situation. His hunger was to find a way to let Daniel off the hook. He realized how foolish his decree was now, but there was nothing he could do but to send Daniel to the hungry lions. The king recognized the hunger Daniel had for his God.

Daniel 6:16
Then the king gave orders, and Daniel was brought in and cast into the lions’ den. The king spoke and said to Daniel, Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you.

Even though the king told Daniel his God would deliver him, he spent a restless night worrying about Daniel. He rushed to the lions’ den early in the morning to see if Daniel was alive.

Daniel 6:18-20
Then the king went off to his palace and spent the night fasting, and no entertainment was brought before him; and his sleep fled from him. Then the king arose at dawn, at the break of day, and went in haste to the lions’ den. When he had come near the den to Daniel, he cried out with a troubled voice. The king spoke and said to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?”

Once Darius saw that Daniel did not even have a mark on him, he declared the God of Daniel was to be feared and recognized as the living God. There were accounts of this incident recorded in other ancient writings as well. Although it is not scripture, the famous and well-respected historian Flavius Josephus wrote the following in his account.

Now when his enemies saw that Daniel had suffered nothing which was terrible, they would not own that he was preserved by God, and by his providence; but they said, that the lions had been filled full with food, and on that account it was, as they supposed, that the lions would not touch Daniel, nor come to him; and this they alleged to the king; but the king, out of an abhorrence of their wickedness, gave order that they should throw in a great deal of flesh to the lions; and when they had filled themselves, he gave farther order that Daniel’s enemies should be cast into the den that he might learn whether the lions, now they were full, would touch them or not; and it appeared plain to Darius, after the princes had been cast to the wild beasts, that it was God who preserved Daniel, for the lions spared none of them, but tore them all to pieces, as if they had been very hungry and wanted food.  I suppose, therefore, it was not their hunger, which had been a little before satisfied with abundance of flesh, but the wickedness of these men that provoked them [to destroy the princes]: for if it so please God, that wickedness might, by even those irrational creatures, be esteemed a plain foundation for their punishment.

The Bible is clear about the clash of all these hungry men and beast, and it is clear about what our hunger should be. Are you as hungry as the lions that wanted their needs met? Are you hungry for answers to the things you worry about like the king was? Are you hungry to make things happen for yourself like the men who schemed against Daniel? Are you hungry to have fellowship with God like Daniel was? A quick self-exam of your actions will reveal where your heart is in this matter. Would the king have seen in you the evidence that your God may protect you? Would the wicked need to build a scheme to trap you, or would you hand them enough to get you in trouble just by looking at the truth? Spend time with God on a regular basis and cast all your trouble on Him. He is the one who can shut that hungry lion’s mouth.

Copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.

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Want To Lose The Wait?

By Rev. Rick Robinson

Many people would like to lose weight, but many more may want to lose “wait”, although they may not think about it in those terms. Waiting on God can be a frustrating thing. Imagine with me for a moment of a world without waiting. No smells of the fine cooking coming from the kitchen as you wait in anticipation of the flavors dancing in your mouth. No waiting in anticipation as a child waiting to open the Christmas gifts. Perhaps no one wants to wait in line to buy the anticipated gifts anyway. Don’t bother enjoying that movie night, the ending is now instant. No waiting seems like such a loss of treasured memories. You have accepted the fact that next Tuesday cannot arrive until then. All of history would need be condensed into the now without this thing called waiting.

Would all the prophecies of the Bible be erased (since there was no waiting) and be updated by telling a historic perspective? The vision came immediately and you most certainly have heard about it by this time. The promise came without delay, and if there was such a thing as waiting–but there is not, I would then look forward to the anticipation of the next thing in line for me.

When it comes to waiting on God, we think we know best about the timing of it all. If we never had to wait on something from God, would it void this thing we know as faith? Faith is not a lonely thing you use to get what you want; it is an interactive thing that is rewarded by waiting on God’s perfect time to deliver His promise.

Habakkuk 2:3
For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay.

We should be able to be at peace with the wait, since it is God himself that is delivering us through the situation. The battles you face are won or lost in the wait time first, long before they become part of our physical world.

Isaiah 40:31
Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

When our expectations and desires are counted all lost, it is most often because we failed to manage the wait. Inspiration to wait on God is the spiritual truth that has not yet been experienced in the natural–nevertheless it is just as real. Do you really want to lose wait? Can you see what an impossible thing that is and how interactive waiting on God is meant to be? Enjoy the anticipation of what God will do next as you wait—knowing it will be in His time–the way you wait on the natural events in your life.

James 5:7
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.

copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.

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Are Looks Everything?

By Rev. Rick Robinson

Many people would say that looks are not important. Most people spend more time evaluating looks than they might think, but is it important? Have you ever wondered how a certain guy ended up with a certain beautiful woman? On the other hand, companies spend millions of dollars each year to research how to make packaging for their products more attractive. So are looks really important, or not? Before you judge your looks, not including grooming and hygiene, let me say God created you just as you look, unless you didn’t like His taste and changed something. I want to give you three ways God says you can change the way you look.

1. Look Forward
Change the way you look forward. Are you worried about something in the future? Do you have anything to look forward to? When you have lost hope it may seem useless to look forward. God has wonderful plans for you even when you don’t have them for yourself.

Jeremiah 29:11
‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

Proverbs 23:18
Surely there is a future, And your hope will not be cut off.

Proverbs 23:17-18
Don’t envy evil men but continue to reverence the Lord all the time, for surely you have a wonderful future ahead of you. There is hope for you yet!

When the past seems irreparable, the future does not appear irresistible. The sense of failure seems always to corrupt perception of the future. If allowed, the past will constrain your actions until failure repeats itself.

2. Look Back
For this reason it is important to change the way we look back. Some may think if only things were the way they used to be, if only I could go back. Things are not generally as great as we romanticize them. The people of Israel wanted to go back to the past, and it was foolish.

Numbers 14:1-5
Then all the people began weeping aloud, and they carried on all night. Their voices rose in a great chorus of complaint against Moses and Aaron. We wish we had died in Egypt,” they wailed, “or even here in the wilderness, rather than be taken into this country ahead of us. Jehovah will kill us there, and our wives and little ones will become slaves. Let’s get out of here and return to Egypt!” The idea swept the camp. “Let’s elect a leader to take us back to Egypt!” they shouted.

The Bible is full of contrasting stories about how people looked at the past. There are also stories where people gained encouragement from looking to the past. Isaiah wrote that we should remember all the good things God has done in the past and not doubt Him for the future.

Isaiah 46:9-10
Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.

3. Look up
The only way we can keep the future and the past in proper perspective is to look up. Looking around at the things in this earth will never bring lasting peace. We have to keep our focus on Jesus Christ who is our fortress and our deliverer.

John 14:27
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

When it comes to finding peace in troubled times, looks are everything. Where are you looking for this peace?

Copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.

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Getting the “I’M” out of Impossible

By Rev. Rick Robinson

I don’t discount the value in hard work and strategic planning but there comes a time when no matter how hard you try, some things still seem impossible. You wonder if a thing will ever be complete to your satisfaction. Will God ever help me to accomplish this or that, or is it impossible for me? The “im” in impossible stands for I’m—or “I am” in the way of what God can do. We must learn to be partners with God instead of working against Him.

Matthew 19:26
And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Luke 1:37
“For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Satan wants to steal from you and keep the “im” on the front of possible. It is only through Jesus Christ that you will be able to get the im out of impossible.

John 10:10
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

I am going to show you four ways that are effective in Satan’s mission to steal from you. The methods used to steal kill and destroy are usually subtle enough to go un-noticed or even seem attractive to us.

1. Ignorance

The lie is the first method ever used to steal from man. It was effective then, and it is equally dangerous today. The lie is used to keep you ignorant of God’s will and direction for your life. Even when you get a clear directive from God, it is the lie that is used to steal it from you and keep you in ignorance.

Genesis 3:1-6
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’ The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

2. Impatience

You may be thinking God needs a little help delivering his promise or expects you to figure it out on your own. Satan wants to keep the im in front of possible by making you impatient with God. (Get the im out of impatient too!) We can see a great example of this when Abram was promised a son and then he and Sarai decided God could use some help.

Genesis 16:1-2
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “Now behold, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.

The weapon of suffering is also used to keep you impatient with God. Your suffering may be real, like pain in your body, or it may not be as bad as all that, but you are convinced how bad you must suffer while others live carefree.

1 Peter 5:10
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

3. Independence

Pride is a tool Satan will use to keep the im in impossible. When you are filled with pride you become independent of God. You don’t care if He says you must forgive, or anything else for that matter, because your circumstances justify your actions. You are independent of His will and pride has shown you a way to elevate yourself from victim to judge. You have come up with a brilliant strategy to hold the door open for Satan while he steals from you.

Proverbs 16:18-19
Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling. It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly Than to divide the spoil with the proud.

4. Indictment

The last weapon I will remind you about is the indictment Satan brings against you. Satan will accuse you and tell how much trouble you are in. This directly opposes faith, by causing you to focus on yourself. Why would God give you a miracle when you are so not worth it? The Holy Spirit will convict you of sin and compel you to get things right. He does not want you to live in guilt. You need to focus on God and the power He gives you to walk in freedom from the sin that binds. This story is a great example of Satan bringing accusations while God brings hope.

Zechariah 3:1-4
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. The LORD said to Satan, The LORD rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel. He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, Remove the filthy garments from him.” Again he said to him, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.”

If you have accepted the work of Jesus to forgive you of your sin, then you too have festal robes as opposed to filthy garments.

If you are living in ignorance because you believed a lie, then study God’s word.

If you are impatient with God while you’re waiting on answers or results then accept God’s grace and peace.

If you are living independent of God, trusting in yourself (or anyone else) for anything, then turn your life and emotions over to God for restoration.

If you feel accused about your sin and failures in the past, Make certain you are trusting in Christ alone for your salvation. If Jesus Christ is your Lord then remember there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.

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