Whose report will you believe? This has been a catch phrase used in the Christian community for quite some time now. For some, it may sound trite; nonetheless, it’s an important question to ask ourselves. Faulty reporting leads to faulty perception. Inaccurate information leads to bad decisions. Careless gathering of knowledge leads to ignorance, and ignorance has crept into segments of the church because of a cavalier attitude about spiritual matters. This has led to false doctrine and unbelief. People are wanton in their relationship with God because they possess inaccurate information about Him. They compromise because of their lack of understanding of grace. Why? Because they read and listen to the wrong reports.
Be selective when gathering information. You can ill afford to take someone’s word for it. You need to dig into things for yourself. This does not imply that you should become suspicious of everyone, but understand even the sincerest people on the planet are human. That being said, another question comes to mind: why do some believers elevate human reason above God’s omniscience? For example, science doesn’t tell us things; scientists do. They give us the interpretation of their findings. Much of what they believe about the data gets filtered through their worldview. If they lack integrity, and are bent on proving their theories based on that view, they will fail to present an honest assessment. In fact, they may very well not give all the available data due to conflicting information. Anything contradictory will not receive the attention it deserves. For some, science sounds more feasible than the Word of God. A lot of it sounds good, so long as you don’t really consider what’s being said. The Apostle Paul warned us about such so called science. 1 Timothy 6:20O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called (KJV). The NASB renders it: “and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’.”
Similarly, some approach the Bible in the same way. They listen to teachers based upon their belief system. There’s an unwillingness to be challenged in what they believe. Please understand that it’s not a great idea to look for teachers who oppose our beliefs for the sake of the challenge. Nor does this infer that we should become debaters. The point is you should have integrity in your approach to Scripture. Don’t be of the mindset that says, “Don’t confuse me with the facts; I’ve made up my mind.” Obviously, there are some beliefs that are non-negotiable. Such as salvation comes by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. At the same time, you cannot be so foolish as to create or adhere to false doctrine based on your likes and dislikes. Not everything in Scripture is comfortable to the flesh. Even so, there’s great comfort in the truth for the heart and soul.
The reason some have strained relationships with the Father and the Lord Jesus is they believe the wrong report. They listen to their unsaved emotions, and hostile voices. Unforgiveness runs their life, and as a result, bitterness poisons their thinking. Others simply listen to opinions about God without reading their Bible. As a secular song said, “To know him is to love him.” The same holds true for God: to know Him is to love Him. The more you know God, the greater you will love Him. If you have barriers between you and Him, it would be a great idea to read what the Word says about Him. You may find that your perceptions are skewed. In order to make the necessary changes in your life for the better, you have to get the best information possible, and believe the right things according to God. You must be willing to change, and embrace integrity in order to obtain the truth.
The Lord said He would shake that which can be shaken, so that which cannot be shaken remains (see Hebrews 12:24-28). What does that mean for us? Regardless of world events, we look forward to an unshakable Kingdom. In fact, that Kingdom comes from within (see Luke 17:20-21), therefore, we have it already dwelling in us. Even now all creation is groaning for the revealing of the sons of God. It has been held hostage to corruption, and now is ready to be freed (see Romans 8:19-23). The shaking has begun, and anything ungodly is going to get shaken out of His people. Falsehood and the like will be eliminated. If it’s not being shook, there’s something wrong. Keep in mind that there is a shaking taking place in the world, and it appears to be doom and gloom. Albeit, God is working behind the scenes, which means we possess true hope that endures to the very end.
Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1-2, NASB). Who are the branches? We are. What’s the purpose of the pruning? That we may produce more fruit. Hebrews 12 tells us the Father disciplines those He loves. That’s why there is something wrong if nothing is taking place. He only disciplines His children. If you’re not disciplined by Him, you’re not His son or daughter. What happens to the branches that don’t produce fruit? They’re cut off and cast into the fire. That means if there’s shaking and pruning taking place, you have hope. Would you rather be cut off or pruned?
God will even use our self-sabotage for our benefit. Think about it: if you did something that hurts you, would that be the result of the new nature, or because of faulty thinking on your part? Whether you find yourself driving others out of your life; ruining your finances through bad decisions; doing yourself harm, and everything in between, something needs pruning. When a person finally hits bottom, then he may be open to see what the Lord has been trying to reveal to him about his self. The Father will allow the shaking to go on until repentance takes place. The shaking is the result of ungodly thinking and acts of the flesh. If there’s nothing to shake out, why would it continue? Obviously, there is another element which has to do with the trying of our faith.
If you claim to walk by faith, plan on the test. God is not big on hypocrisy. You cannot pretend. God will reveal anything not of faith; and at the same time, solidify your walk of faith. Just as every trial has a beginning, it does have an end. The journey in the middle will you teach you to trust Him, if you allow yourself to be trained. Instead of murmuring; offer Him praise in all things. Don’t try to use your faith to get out of the test. That’s not trust. Rather, ask for wisdom and listen to what the Lord is saying. If you listen, faith will come, as faith comes by hearing (see Romans 10:17). Hold steadfast to the promise to which the test pertains, and repeat it before God. “This is what You promised . . .” Stay focused on what He said or is saying, and not what seems contrary. Don’t use events against the promises of God; rather, use the promises against the circumstances. Hope to the end!
It is easy to underestimate the power of God when you become overly aware of the conditions of the world, and try to discern events by what the world presents.
If you immerse yourself in the events of the day, but fail to immerse yourself in God and His Word, every tragedy and horror will fill your senses to the point that you will not recognize the hand of God working behind the scenes. Nor will you find the joy of salvation that accompanies the hope of the promise for which we wait. Depending on what area of the world a person focuses, it would be easy to think all is lost and there’s not hope for humanity. If you join in the conversations that encamp themselves around negativity, you may find yourself speaking things that are contrary to the Word of God. You cannot bring hope by agreeing with the world. The world seeks to sour people in relation to God. It has no interest in Him, and will therefore, deny Him. If you agree with the world, you are in danger of denying Him and His power.
The immensity of the world can be overwhelming. However, if you stop and consider the vastness of the universe, you will begin to get a small taste of the immensity of the power of God. The Bible clearly says there is nothing nor anyone who can withstand it. Some may resist, but in reality, they are opposing themselves. Our freedom of choice does not negate the decisions of God. It may not be evident to the naked eye, but rest assured they are firm and final.
The most patient Person in all the universe is God. His purposes and plans are so detailed in their fulfillment that in every event He is moving pieces of the puzzle. That includes those that are demonically inspired. That’s where Romans 8:28 comes into play. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (NASB). “All things” mean all. If you fully embrace this truth; you can bring hope to those who need it.
Nothing is impossible for God, so why do people act as if it is impossible just because it is for them?
If you put God on a human level, you will find faith fleeing from you. By lowering His ways and thoughts to our standards, we can cripple our ability to believe Him. God is not a man who can lie, nor is His ability limited; even though, He may limit Himself.
God is not intrusive in our lives. He works around our will. He doesn’t have to; He chooses to do so. He presents each of us with decisions and choices –ours free for the choosing. He even makes room for the wrong ones by giving us places of repentance. This all powerful God is so powerful, He will move through every unimaginable event, whether we decide to agree with Him or not. He doesn’t require our permission to shake that which can be shaken, so to make room for His Kingdom. Hebrews 12:26-29 And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, "YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN." 27. This expression, "Yet once more," denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; 29. for our God is a consuming fire (NASB). Don’t be moved by what you see, be moved by the Holy Spirit.
There comes a time that you learn to walk with the Lord with sole confidence in Him. That is to say, you become entirely dependent on Him for all things. While we are designed for fellowship with others, we are designed to worship and put our trust in Him alone. Even though the Lord does send people into our lives to help us, we cannot put our trust in the messengers. Our trust has to be strictly in Him, while trusting Christ in the messenger.
If you place your trust in people, your foundation will be shifting sand. If you put it in both God and people, you are being double minded. Even though we are called upon to encourage one another, and so receive encouragement, we still need to encourage ourselves in the Lord. 2 Timothy 4:16-17At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. 17. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion's mouth (NASB). Just as the Apostle Paul experienced, you may find others abandoning you. If you strictly rely on their encouragement, where would you find yourself should they leave you? Fortunately for Paul, the Lord strengthened him. There are of course a number of biblical examples of those who had encouraged themselves in the Lord, when there were no others standing by their side.
If you find yourself strangely isolated, take heart.
It may be that the Father has quarantined you, so you may truly receive Him as your loving Father. He may have separated you so you would make Jesus the true Lord of your life; instead of others. He may be training you to listen to the Holy Spirit for yourself. Separation from others for a specified period of time can be a very good thing, if you allow yourself to be trained in it. How long a time must be left to God, but know He has a specific length in mind.
Should isolation come, it would be wise to seek God first, instead of calling people. Chasing after people during those times will be as fruitful as a dog chasing its own tail. It’s a colossal waste of time. The temptation would be to become fearful or insecure, and allow self-pity to settle in: “Why don’t people want to be around me anymore?” Be uplifted, the God of the universe wants to spend time with you. The question is: do you want to spend with Him?
In order to speak words of hope, you must maintain hope in your heart. Therefore, you must purpose to believe God. Remember His Word to you, as well as His faithfulness to you. Recount in your heart what He has done for you. Just as you stir up the gifts by way of remembrance, so do you stir up hope (see 2 Timothy 1:6). When you testify of His goodness you received, you express hope to others. In turn, it stirs up in them the desire for God, and with that desire, faith as the result of hearing the Word of faith. With faith comes hope, and with hope in the Lord, joy. With joy comes strength to continue in Him with all hope and peace.
As it is written, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12). Without hope, there is no strength of heart because there is no joy. Hope and joy are connected.
Many struggle with depression because they have no hope.
As believers, we are to be carriers of hope, and as carriers, we are also givers of hope. If we withhold hope, we actively feed depression. By speaking contrary to the Word of God, we resist hope both in our lives and in others. If we agree with hopelessness, we can actually perpetuate darkness. Anything that removes faith, imparts death; for, we live by faith (see Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38).
Walking by faith actually increases hope. Therefore, if we want to bring hope to the world, we must make a conscious decision to walk by faith. A result of walking by faith is that others are afforded the opportunity to see God working in the life of another. “If God will work in his life, perhaps He will work in mine as well.”
When people are drawn to you because of the hope that you have, you have a place of influence.
They will want to be around you because they want what you have. They want hope. Hope works like a spiritual magnet. People follow hope. Those who are desperate crave it. It gives them something to hold onto during the darkest of times, and helps them maintain their course as they navigate through life.
Obviously, those who love darkness more than the Light will never have true hope. As long as they embrace it, they will only know depravity and hopelessness. At best, they will find temporary fixes in the world. Ultimately, apart from repentance, they will find sorrow upon sorrow with eternal hopelessness. That being said, do not be surprised if some people are actually repelled by you, even if you have hope. Hope is the fruit of light, and those who love darkness may crave the hope, but they want nothing to do with the Light.
The Word of hope has been delivered unto mankind. In some places of the world, it has free course, and in others it doesn’t. Nonetheless, it is unstoppable. In some places considered free, the Word of hope has actually been restricted by that very freedom. Restricted in the sense that those who have it, take it for granted. They don’t understand and appreciate its value. In those places that outright restrict God’s Word, it is greatly appreciated by those who have it. It’s a commodity to them. It is precious, where His Word is considered precious, it grows and spreads rapidly.
As eluded to already, the Word of God is more restricted in some free societies where the governments have no law banning the Word than those that don’t. Why? Because those who “have it” are more concerned about the material world than the Kingdom of God. Since the Word of hope is not as precious to them, they don’t share it with others as they could. Status and acceptance is more important. As Jesus said, “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the Word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the Word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22 [NASB]). When the world is more important, people become less concerned about others having hope.
Some say they don’t know the Bible well enough to share the Word of God with others, and are incapable of discipling them. If they don’t spend time in the Bible, how can they know it? If worldly things have priority, then their Bibles will simply collect dust, and they will become unfruitful.
We are exhorted to not love the things of the world; yet, some people believe grace endorses their lack of commitment.
It’s as if grace gets them off the hook in relation to the work of the Gospel. They fail to recognize that even though they are saved from the wrath to come, they are not exempt from the Judgment Seat of Christ. They will give an account. Those with careless attitudes don’t realize the loss they are suffering even now. They have forgotten the exhortation to store up treasures in heaven. 1 Corinthians 3:9-15 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. 10. According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13. each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. 14. If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire (see also Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10 [NASB]).
Carelessness is overcome by love.
When you love well, you will care well. Your concern turns outward. Instead of trying to gain worldly goods, you focus on giving the Kingdom of God to others. The Word of hope becomes important to you, and the desire for others to have it intensifies. When you love God, you love the things of God. Obedience to Him becomes the priority, and that includes evangelism. The Bible becomes important as well because it reveals the One you love. That love increases the desires to know Him. What is imperative to the Lord becomes imperative to you.