Spotting the counterfeit … whatever comes from the fear of man

“While there is a caution born out of wisdom, our challenge is to spot the counterfeit — whatever comes from the fear of man. This kind of fear is an affliction of the heart. It causes us to silence courage by wondering what someone will think of us if we make a bold move.

Father, I want my life to count for something. For that to happen, You must pour out your grace upon me. I confess that I have feared what others might think of me at the expense of considering what You value. Forgive me. I am tired of living with mountains that are outside of Your purposes. Forgive me for giving them virtuous names that have allowed them to remain. By Your grace I will be bold and declare who You are without shame or fear.”

– Bill Johnson, Experience the Impossible

Why are you so afraid, you of little faith?

 

“You of little faith, why are you so afraid? Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.” (Matthew 8:26)

Excerpts herein are from Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest for August 12, The Theology of Rest.

“When we are in fear we can do nothing less than pray to God.”  Even though God expects us to come to him in confidence when we pray, “our trust is in God only up to a certain point, and then we go back to the elementary panic prayers of those who do not know God. We get to our wits end, showing that we have not the slightest confidence in Him … He seems to be asleep, and we see nothing but breakers ahead.”

We can relate to Jesus’ disciples also to whom he said “O ye of little faith!”.  “What a pang must have shot through the disciples – ‘Missed it again!’”

When there are no storms or crises in my life, I can be on top of the world, but when disappointments or crises come, I must consciously keep my focus on Christ so that I remain steadfast in Him. Otherwise, I succumb to my storms and sink below the waves.

Have you ever ridden a wave?  I’ve never surfed, but I’ve watched surfers mount their surfboards and ride the wave.  If they are experienced, they will ride the wave all the way into shore; if they are just learning to ride the wave, they will often fall, get back up and try again.  Such is the Christian life.

God’s promises are like the crest of the wave. When I trust in God and believe in His promises, God makes it possible for me to stay atop the biggest waves, even though there is a powerhouse of energy under me that can pull me down. In Isaiah 43:2-3 it says “When you go through the sea, I’ll be there with you … for I am the Lord your God.”

Oswald Chambers also stated that “If we have been learning to worship God and to trust in Him, the crisis will reveal that we will go the breaking point and not break in our confidence in Him.”  So as a surfer stays tethered to his surfboard at the ankle by a cord so that he does not lose sight of his surfboard, a Christian’s stays tethered by a combination of things so that he does not lose sight of God.

Well, you ask – how can I do that in an awful situation?  Here are some points to apply to your life when you incessantly worry about a bad situation, or you can’t fall asleep at night.

  • Force yourself to think about God instead of your situation. “Whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
  • In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6).
  • Fellowship with other believers.
  • Rejoice always in the Lord (Philippians 4:4)

It’s a battle for your will, but if you force yourself to change how you think about things (Philippians 4:9), “the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

 

Copyright 2017 by Bill Hutzel

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Be made new in the attitude of your minds

 

Do you let your words of doom and failure defeat you in life? Your words, then, do not agree with God.

This may be a challenge to your old self, but it is also a choice to not speak them. Speak only the end result of what you desire. Don’t counteract that which you declare in faith. Speak as if every word you say will come to pass.

You can do this by filling your heart and mouth with faith, by daily voicing God’s Word in the Bible. Let your mind be renewed by the Word of God. Forbid thoughts of failure and defeat.

“You were taught to put off your former way of life, your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:23)

Copyright 2017 by Bill Hutzel

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God Wants Our Tears

Several months ago, I was going through a tough few months, even struggling to write. And then I read this verse one morning – “This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). But I didn’t feel much like rejoicing, and I didn’t feel much like praying.  If you have ever felt like this, then watch this video.

The Peace that Jesus Gives


“You’re my place of quiet retreat; I wait for your Word to renew me” (Psalm 119:114, MSG)

The Bible says in John 14:27 “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” (GNT)   The peace that Jesus gives us is not the peace of this world. Jesus brings peace, which when we bend our hearts toward him, He can keep our hearts from being troubled and afraid.  It is a supernatural peace that psychologists and psychiatrists cannot offer, that drugs cannot provide.

Here’s what to do if you are feeling discouraged and have lost hope.  Don’t go home and turn on the television. Instead, spend time in God’s Word. “Listen to Dr. Luke instead of Dr. Phil. God’s Word has the power to change your life. It has God’s power in it. Nothing else does. The Bible will give you the ‘real stuff’ – true encouragement.”[1]

“You will keep in perfect peace, him whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in You.” – (Isaiah 26:3)

 

Copyright 2017 by Bill Hutzel

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FOOTNOTE

[1] Rick Warren, “When You’re Down, The Bible Lifts You Up” from Pastor Rick’s Daily Hope, February 11, 2017

BACKGROUND PHOTO Courtesy of picjumbo.com

 

Don’t Give Up

Background photo: Courtesy of Picjumbo.com

Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent. – Marilyn Vos Savant

Maybe life has dealt you defeat.  You don’t know what to do, and you do not know how to pray.  Don’t feel like you are alone.  I too have faced setbacks, and am rebounding from one right now. I’ll be sharing more about this another time.

There is a tendency sometimes for many to run away from their troubles, to just give up. But I know that God will not let you drift too far from Him, for we are like a boat tethered by a short rope to an anchor. We drift only slightly before the line goes taut and God pulls us back towards Him.

Giving up is an admission of defeat, although which can be temporary unless we do not bounce back from the loss. These defeats can be battles or wars of a personal nature.  We fall to our enemies, our emotions, or unanswered prayer, etc. And every one of us, if we are honest with ourselves, has “been there, done that.”

Did you rebound, or did you give up?  Did you pray fervently in the midst of your battle, or did you stop praying?

Was it a bitter divorce? Was it a feeling of rejection?  Was it something you were waiting for that did not happen?

Perhaps you blame God, or maybe you do not believe God hears your cries, or that He cannot or will not answer your prayers as you have not seen any results yet.

Don’t give up! Giving up is what makes your defeat permanent.

Is it possible “for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age” (Hebrews 6:4-6, NIV), to fall away permanently?”  I believe so. I think that some people fall away from grace and go back into the world. Jesus explains in Matthew 13, verses 20 and 21 that they are like seed falling on rocky ground, referring to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.  But since they do not establish good roots in themselves, they endure for only a short time. When life’s troubles and battles, disappointments, and failed expectations visit upon them, they quickly fall away in defeat.

Here is what a friend shared on her Facebook page, and which inspired me to share Marilyn Vos Savant’s quote.

“At this moment in your life, all evidence may be pointing to drought, but a drought doesn’t have to mean the death of your promise.[1] It may just simply mean delay.

If you’ve been looking for the evidence of what God has promised, don’t give up after the first glance. Go back. Just as Elijah instructed his servant — go back — and keep going back until you see it come to pass.

What God promises, God will do. The question is, will you have the patience to see it?”

So whether or not your defeat is spiritual or emotional, DON’T GIVE UP.

Here’s how:

  • Be faithful to spend time with God in His presence, AND God will reveal Himself to you just as He did with Joseph who abandoned by his brothers, was thrown into a hole and sold into slavery. Joseph, however, did not give up. Joseph had the resolve and courage to “shake it off and step up.”  God, in turn, used Joseph’s suffering to prepare him for extraordinary service.
  • Return to the Truth, God’s holy Word. Don’t slide along daily without a blessing from Him.  When we stop reading God’s Word and fellowshipping with believers in Christ, we tend to fall away from God.  Don’t let God slip away from you.
  • Learn to pray fervently and continue to praise and thank God, whatever your battles might be.
  • Say this prayer – “Lord, saving me will bring glory to your name. Bring me out of all this trouble because you are true to your promises.” (Psalm 143:11, TLB)
  • AND BE ASSURED THAT GOD WILL HEAR YOU. HE WILL NEVER GIVE UP ON YOU!

 

Copyright 2017 by Bill Hutzel

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FOOTNOTE

[1] Chicago: Elevation Worship on Twitter: “At this moment in your life .., https://twitter.com/elevation_wrshp/status/822535117017116673 (accessed March 22, 2017).

My Hard Unhearing Heart

Those that will not wait for God’s counsel shall justly be given up to their own hearts’ lusts, to walk in their own counsel ….. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul (Psalm 106:13, 15).

Can you think of a time in your life when God has allowed you to walk into a storm because of your hard unhearing heart? Oh, the stress, the worry, the turbulence, and maybe even despair.

In 2001, the small company of 50 employees whom I worked for was acquired by the 5th largest corporation in the world. I was one of 12 people invited to move with my company. I was pleased that I was asked to be one of a chosen few, although I knew in my heart that it was the wrong decision to accept their offer of employment. Who was controlling my thinking? Who was directing my life? Was God ruling it or was I?

Had I lost sight of God because of my insecurity, fears, and worries about finding another job or was the promise of a significant pay increase my reason for not seeking God’s direction?  Probably a little of both; and so I reasoned that I could balance work and family and I accepted. Had I listened to God before making my decision to accept the offer; I might have spared myself months of distress. It would be 7-months later that my hard unhearing heart would be forced to listen.

Instead of a 40-minute commute to work, my 5:45 am commute was now two to three hours each way by car. On my trip to work, I sometimes found it necessary to pull over and close my eyes for 5-minutes so as not to nod at the wheel. The 20-ounce coffee usually helped, but a pit stop would always be pressing half way to my destination. This got old very fast.

By 5 o’clock I would need to be on the road again if I was to get home in time to relieve my daughter’s Nanny of her duties. Leaving on time was not frowned upon by the company, as long as I got my assignments done on time. However, it became too often that I would inquire when a project was due, the reply would be “I needed it yesterday.”  Unfortunately, yesterday was not the answer I wanted to hear. This too got old rather quickly.

I was overworked; I became depressed, did not sleep well, I was sick more than usual, and my marriage was strained. There was no peace in the middle of my pain. I dreaded going to work. Some days it was necessary for me to get away from my desk and stretch out in a recliner, draw the curtains closed and take a 20-minute snooze in what were called “nap rooms.”  For a growing number of companies across the country, sleeping on the job was encouraged as a way to increase productivity and ease stress.

I used to work willingly and without complaining, donating my off-time nights, weekends, and sometimes vacations, to pursue the company’s best interests and my own. However, there was one day when I cracked.

On a Monday morning in November, my director called me into her office.  “Please sit down Bill.” Now mind you, Gertrude was German. Germans are known for being very straightforward and goal-oriented. They also love rules, organization, and structure.  And, one more thing, they are punctual.  So, being too early (impatient) rather than on time is considered a virtue to them.

“Bill, we have three projects due this Friday that I would like you to complete,” she said.  I had now been with the company several months and had become apathetic and indifferent towards my job.  I was, as you say, burned out.  “That’s nice Gertrude,” I said.  “Pick one.”  I could see the surprised look on Gertrude’s face. “No, Bill, you misunderstand.  You have three projects due” she said.  “No, you misunderstood, Gertrude. Pick one” I replied.  I got up, left the room and closed her door.

Whatever got into me to be so bold?  Later that day, the Vice President of my past company that was acquired saw me passing his office and asked me to come in. “Bill, please shut the door.” “What’s up, Chester?” I asked.  “Watch your back,” he said.  “What do you mean?” I replied, playing dumb as if I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. “I think you know,” he said, “just watch your back. You’ve ruffled some people’s feathers here at the company.”

I asked Chester if he thought there might be a layoff shortly, with severance pay, and he nodded his head affirmatively.  I asked him “do you think you can put in a good word for me to get me laid off?” knowing full well that he did not have to intercede on my behalf, not one iota of a bit. I was surprised when he replied “Yeah, me too.”

I knew my days were numbered at the company now.  In December, there was a twenty percent layoff, and I would count as one of them. Chester was also let go. For the next 1 ½ years I became a “stay at home mom” taking care of my daughter. I was glad for the time off and was not “bad off” financially especially with the severance package the company gave me. For me, having been laid off was a blessing in disguise, although I had to learn the hard way because I followed my counsel rather than God’s counsel.

God’s counsel

  1. Consider your actions before you do them, and see that they agree with God’s plan for you, and then you can expect God’s blessing and success in them (Proverbs 4:26).
  1. Pay attention [and be willing to learn] so that you may gain understanding and intelligent discernment. For I give you good doctrine; Do not turn away from my instruction (Proverbs 4:1-2 AMP)
  1. Do not turn away from her (Wisdom) and she will guard and protect you;
    Love her, and she will watch over you (Proverbs 4:6 AMP).
  1. Pay attention to my words and be willing to learn; Open your ears to my sayings. Do not let them escape from your sight; Keep them in the center of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing and health to all their flesh. Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:20-23 AMP).

Copyright 2017 by Bill Hutzel

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The Impoverished Ministry of Jesus

impoverishedministryofjesus

It is in the night time when I am sleeping that I am especially vulnerable to allowing negative thoughts to infiltrate my mind, telling me “it’s not alright”.  Perhaps it was a life-changing event or events of the day that caused concern.  “You are not going to be able to afford this or that, or you will not be able to pay your mortgage or taxes, or you will not be able to find a job, the stock market is going to crash and you are going to lose everything”. I think many of us succumb to our worst fears in the night.  And during the day, some of those anxieties and distress play themselves out.  As an example, just the other day, with investors reacting to the uncertainty of an unprecedented U.S. election, stock prices took a steep nosedive, although by the end of the day the market had mostly recovered those losses.

A few weeks ago, I awoke early to Dr. Charles Stanley speaking on the radio. His message resonated with me.  “God, where are you? I can’t handle it anymore. God, I really need you to speak to me”.  For a while, Dr. Charles Stanley even stopped preaching.  He had recently had a bad turn of events, life-changing events that brought him to the lowest of lows. Maybe you also are worn, weary, frightened, anxious, uncertain, wondering if you will ever get back.

My well is deep. Where will my help come from?  Who will satisfy the thirst of my soul?  Who will intercede for me and pull me from the depths of my troubles?

That same morning, I also opened to a devotional by Oswald Chambers based on John 4:11. I will share it with you below. It also coincidentally coincided with the same chapter in the Book of John that I was studying that week for my Monday night Bible study. Chambers looks at this verse from a different perspective than how I understood it, and it is insightful. 

The Wisdom of Oswald Chambers

“The well is deep” — and even a great deal deeper than the Samaritan woman knew! (John 4:11). Think of the depths of human nature and human life; think of the depth of the “wells” in you. Have you been limiting, or impoverishing, the ministry of Jesus to the point that He is unable to work in your life? Suppose that you have a deep “well” of hurt and trouble inside your heart, and Jesus comes and says to you, “Let not your heart be troubled…” (John 14:1). Would your response be to shrug your shoulders and say, “But, Lord, the well is too deep, and even You can’t draw up quietness and comfort out of it.” Actually, that is correct. Jesus doesn’t bring anything up from the wells of human nature— He brings them down from above. We limit the Holy One of Israel by remembering only what we have allowed Him to do for us in the past, and also by saying, “Of course, I cannot expect God to do this particular thing.” The thing that approaches the very limits of His power is the very thing we as disciples of Jesus ought to believe He will do. We impoverish and weaken His ministry in us the moment we forget He is almighty. The impoverishment is in us, not in Him. We will come to Jesus for Him to be our comforter or our sympathizer, but we refrain from approaching Him as our Almighty God.

The reason some of us are such poor examples of Christianity is that we have failed to recognize that Christ is almighty. We have Christian attributes and experiences, but there is no abandonment or surrender to Jesus Christ. When we get into difficult circumstances, we impoverish His ministry by saying, “Of course, He can’t do anything about this.” We struggle to reach the bottom of our own well, trying to get water for ourselves. Beware of sitting back, and saying, “It can’t be done.” You will know it can be done if you will look to Jesus. The well of your incompleteness runs deep, but make the effort to look away from yourself and to look toward Him.[1]

ARE YOU LOOKING TO GOD?     

“Troubles almost always make us look to God, but His blessings tend to divert our attention elsewhere.

Our difficulties, our trials, and our worries about tomorrow all vanish when we look to God.

Wake yourself up and look to God. Build your hope on Him. No matter how many things seem to be pressing in on you, be determined to push them aside and look to Him.”[2]

Copyright 2016 by Bill Hutzel

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FOOTNOTES
[1] Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest”, February 27th
[2] Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest”, February 22nd

Don’t pick the fruit, it’s still green

Habbakuk 2_3

Have you prayed and prayed for something, yet there was no manifestation?  How often did you not wait for the fruit to ripen, often insisting on picking it while it was still green? Of course, you have. The demand for instant results has permeated our society.

As an example, you have a meltdown while waiting on the phone listening to an automated message. In your frustration, you scream at your phone and proceed to hit the “0” button repeatedly until a live person answers.  In 2003, the Journal of the American Medical Association linked impatience to increased risk of hypertension among adults.

Or perhaps you have grown impatient while waiting in lines. Recently, while I was standing in a long checkout line at the grocery store, the checkout process seemed to take too long, so I switched to another line. Ironically, I picked the wrong line. The person who took my place in the line that I had just left, checked out before me.

Surely, these are harmless examples, but what if you hastened the end-result, and adversely changed the intended outcome? One such example in the Bible was of Abraham and Sarah; they did not wait for God to give them the son that He had promised (Genesis 16:1-2).

God moves in His timing, not yours. He is never late, but He is usually not early either. He is often the God of the midnight hour. He sometimes waits until the last second before He gives you what you need. Before He intervenes on your behalf, He has to be sure you are not going to take matters into your own hands and do something out of His perfect timing. You must learn to trust God’s timing. But first, your self-will and your spirit of independence must be broken so that God is free to work His will in your life and circumstances. If you are waiting for something, set aside your own timetable tonight. Trust God and believe that while you are waiting for your breakthrough, He is doing a good work in you for His purpose.[1]

Charles Henry Parkhurst enumerates below the many benefits of waiting patiently.
Patience eliminates worry. The Lord said He would come, and His promise is equal to his presence.
Patience eliminates weeping. Why feel sad and discouraged?  He knows your needs better than you do, and His purpose in waiting is to receive more glory through it.
Patience eliminates self-works. “The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent” (John 6:29) and once you believe, you may know all is well.
Patience eliminates want. Perhaps your desire to get what you want is stronger than your desire for the will of God to be fulfilled.
Patience eliminates weakness. Instead of thinking of waiting being wasted time, realize that God is preparing His resources and strengthening you.
Patience eliminates wobbling. “He touched me and raised me to my feet” (Daniel 8:18). God’s foundations are steady, and when we have His patience within, we are steady while we wait. Patience yields worship. Sometimes the best part of waiting is ‘experiencing great endurance and patience…JOYFULLY.’ (Colossians 1:11).

In Jeremiah 29:11-14 it says that God knows the plans he has for you, plans for well-being and not calamity, plans to give you a future filled with hope.  And when you call upon Him, it says that he will listen to you. And if you seek Him with all of your heart, it says that you will find him.

Wait patiently, therefore, for it surely will take place.  Wait patiently for God’s promises because he will not disappoint those who seek him with all their heart.  “It won’t be a lie. If it’s delayed, wait for it. It will certainly happen. It won’t be late.” (Habakkuk 2:3, GOD’S WORD Translation).

Copyright 2016 by Bill Hutzel

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FOOTNOTE

[1] http://www.centralbaptistsaltpoint.org/2013/06/todays-scripture.html

Only in the darkness can you see the stars

darkness-stars

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars”. – Martin Luther King Jr.

From experience, I know that we all experience struggles and challenges in life, and at times we may feel like giving up, that all hope is lost.  Yet, all we have to do is look up and see the stars through the darkness.

“Jesus Christ is the light that keeps shining in the darkness. True light and life comes only through faith in Him. Expect to receive from God more than you ask or imagine as the Holy Spirit gives you understanding and brings light into your life.”[1]

Lord, the Light of Your Love is shining,
In the midst of the darkness shining,
Jesus, Light of the World, shine upon us,
Set us free by the truth You now bring us,
Shine on me. Shine on me.

Shine, Jesus shine,
Fill this land with the Father’s glory.
Blaze, Spirit blaze,
Set our hearts on fire.
Flow, river flow,
Flood the nations with grace and mercy.
Send forth Your word,
Lord and let there be light.

Lord I come to Your awesome presence,
From the shadows into Your radiance.
By the blood I may enter Your brightness,
Search me, try me, consume all my darkness.
Shine on me. Shine on me.

As we gaze on Your kindly brightness.
So our faces display Your likeness.
Ever changing from glory to glory,
Mirrored here may our lives tell Your story.
Shine on me. Shine on me.

– Song lyrics “Shine Jesus Shine”,   Cliff Richard

Copyright 2016 by Bill Hutzel

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FOOTNOTE

[1] BSF Lesson 1 Notes on Book of John