Lest We Forget

Time with God cannot be hurried for fear that we will forget to commune with Him and transcend time and circumstances.

So often in the past, I would rush out of the house on my way to work without having had a personal time of prayer. My life was lackluster, lacking spiritual growth, and my dreams were not being fulfilled. I often felt as if God did not hear me, nor did he seem to answer my prayers. My prayers, I will refer to as “flash prayers” or “popcorn prayers”, were hurried and on the go. I was too busy to hear God and too busy to realize God’s vision for my life.

As I was reading from Oswald Chamber’s devotional this morning, the message was a reminder that we are to spend time with God if we are not to lose God’s vision and stay revived in His Word. “The only way to be obedient to ‘the heavenly vision’, is to give our utmost for His highest … This is accomplished when we make a determination to continually remember God’s vision. But the acid test is obedience to the vision in the details of our everyday life – sixty seconds out of every minute, and sixty minutes out of every hour, not just during times of personal prayer”.  We must continually ask the Lord to “bend our heart toward His that we might fall more deeply in love with Jesus”[1]. Neglect this instruction, and “it is at the risk of our own soul’s welfare that we get caught up in practical busy-work, only to miss the fulfillment of the vision.”[2]

God wants more than anything for us to spend quality time with Him. And when we take the time to seek His face, only then can we commune with Him and transcend both time and circumstances. Only then can our prayers be answered; only then can Revival be the power of Christ to transform us into His likeness; only then can we love others as Jesus loved us.  This is God’s vision and desire for us.

Time with God cannot be hurried.  It is essential that we live and “walk in the light” of God’s vision for us (1 John 1:7). Will you realize God’s vision for you and be revived by spending time with Him daily?

CONTINUE READING: Time With God Cannot Be Hurried

 

Copyright 2017 by Bill Hutzel

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FOOTNOTES:
[1] Zarephath Christian Church sermon series, “Bend Me”, http://www.zarephath.org/sermonseries/
[2] Chicago: Obedience to the “Heavenly Vision” | My Utmost for His Highest, http://utmost.org/obedience-to-the-heavenly-vision/ (accessed February 09, 2017)

 

Thanksgiving: In a politically correct world

george_washington_praying_valley_forge

Although Thanksgiving was first observed here in America following the arrival of the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock in 1620, George Washington, the first President of the United States, proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving Day on October 3, 1789. The decree appointed the day “to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.”

GeneralThanksgivingGWashington2By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America A PROCLAMATION –“WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour … rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for his kind care and protection of the people of this country”.

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln urged all Americans to set aside the last Thursday of November to give thanks and praise to God the Father who dwelleth in heaven.

On October 27, 1961, quoting from the Bible, President Kennedy proclaimed “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord” (Psalm 92:1, KJV). He urged all citizens to make Thanksgiving not merely a holiday from their labors, but rather a day of contemplation, reverence and prayer.

Americans all over the country will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day tomorrow. What was once a celebration of thanksgiving to God for provision, and prayer for forgiveness, for many today, it has become secular, a holiday from their labors.

Thanksgiving is even becoming an anomaly in stores and businesses today in favor of being politically correct. As I was checking out at a store register yesterday, the employee at the cash register said to me “Have a nice holiday”. This would be the “politically correct” thing to say; certainly not “Happy Thanksgiving”, lest I offend someone. But I guess wishing someone a nice holiday sounds better than wishing them a happy day off.  As I could have replied the same, I instead wished her a “Happy Thanksgiving”.

I often wake early in the morning. It was around 4 am the other day that I awoke. I could not return to sleep, so I turned on my radio to Dr. Charles Stanley who was sharing a message on “Overflowing with Gratitude”. Thankfulness is a choice, and that which we are thankful for should be an outgrowth of one’s relationship with Christ.

So, tomorrow, as we thank God for good health, family, and turkey and stuffing, those who acknowledge God as the source of every provision and blessing in their life, let’s also be thankful for the many benefits we receive as children of God – for the peace of God in our heart, for our salvation and promise of our eternal home in heaven, for the Word of God, and God’s unconditional love for us.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Copyright 2015 by Bill Hutzel

Related Post: THANKSGIVING, November 2014

Don’t worry about it

Phillipians 4

What great advice! Only if we would always follow it … right?

Worry, however, is sadly an inevitability of life. We worry about our relationships, health, job security and employment, finances, and even appearances. For instance, you lose your job. You as a result worry about finding another job. You worry whether or not you will be able to make ends meet and pay your mortgage and taxes. Or, lets say, you run into some health issues and your doctor recommends certain tests to rule out cancer; you worry if your test results will come back positive.

And so, where there is uncertainty, the natural human response is to think negative. Some of us even play over and over again worst-case-scenarios in our heads like watching a bad movie over and over again.

Yet I am reminded that God can do anything. I am reminded over and over again that God has in the past always supplied my needs when I am faithful to Him. So why do we still worry? It is the human side of us. Trust is not a natural response. We need to exert our will to trust God in all circumstances. Instead of being distracted from God, we need to exert ourselves and equip ourselves everyday with God’s Word to combat our human nature to want control. We need to wholly trust in Him. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34).

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on Matthew 6:34 says “The conclusion of the whole matter is, that it is the will and command of the Lord Jesus, that by daily prayers we may get strength to bear us up under our daily troubles, and to arm us against the temptations that attend them, and then let none of these things move us.”

 Copyright 2015 Bill Hutzel

Mind Noise

MindNoise2B

This morning, my mind was a jumble of unrelenting chatter and noise. Like the airwaves, the DJ announces a song. I begin to listen, but it is soon interrupted.

RadioNoise

But I don’t turn off the station. I continue listening to the static and noise on the car radio, hoping that it might go away, but it doesn’t. As I continue listening, the air wave noise turns into an annoying “bzzzzzt-baba-bzzt-baba-bzzzzzzzt”. Isn’t it sometimes that way when we go to pray?

Crazy-busy thoughts infiltrate my mind at times and don’t let me have a moment’s peace. We are over-scheduled, over-committed and over-extended. Most people you will ask how they are, will reply that they are super busy or crazy busy. Nobody in today’s society seems untouched. As a result, when I go to pray, my mind continually flitters back and forth between God and my tasks for the day. This is not an uncommon problem; it is all too familiar.

Or perhaps the noise is of a different sort, a reminder of a difficult relationship, personal or professional failure, financial difficulty, or health concern. For some, when they find the time to be alone to pray, they tend to dwell on those things rather than resolving to hand over their burdens to God.

But how far will we allow our minds to wander and be distracted? Until we resolve to hand our schedules and burdens over to God, albeit difficult, these thoughts will continue to distract us and reverberate in our minds.

Nevertheless, there is hope.  When we drift away from God, or when we fail to hear God, the Holy Spirit continues to tug at us, prompting us to “tune in” to His presence again. Sarah Young uses the analogy of a boat tied to an anchor. “An anchor on a short rope lets a boat drift only slightly before the taut line tugs the boat back toward the center.” Similarly, as we drift away from God, the Spirit within us gives a tug, prompting us to return to God in our thoughts and our prayers. As we strive to connect with God and learn to pray to God, the length of rope on our soul’s anchor is shortened. You wander only a short distance before feeling that inner tug – telling you to return to Him.

God’s tugs serve to remind us to relax and let Him lead us through the day. He reminds us that He has everything under control. He reminds us that those who seek Him will find Him. He reminds us that if we commit our ways unto Him, we will be successful. He reminds us that He is able to restore that which was lost. “You will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find peace when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29: 12-13).

“You are responsible to be faithful. God is responsible for outcomes.” – Quote by Jenni Catron

“Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God.” (1 Chronicles 22:19).

Prayer: Help me Lord to love You with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my mind. Tug at my heart always to keep me faithful and return my thoughts unto You.

 

Copyright 2014 by Bill Hutzel

Thanksgiving

Rockwell thanksgiving Thanksgiving was first observed here in America following the arrival of the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620. It was a time for the Pilgrims to acknowledge God as faithful, earnestly giving Him thanks for His abundant blessings. But it was neither a feast nor a holiday. When they arrived in the New World during the winter, it was very difficult for them to find food and shelter. Most of the passengers would not survive their first few months here in America.

In contrast, for most of us today, the Thanksgiving holiday is a time to celebrate with family and friends, to watch football, and to be festive. All well and good, but it is also a time to give thanks for our well-being, for all that has been given to us. It is a time to reflect, to gather in unity, to find hope, and a time of reconciliation. It is a time to give back in gratitude for all that we have received. It is a time to be thankful in all things.

The poem “Thanksgiving” by Ralph Waldo Emerson might, I think, reflect what many of us will say as our thanks to God this holiday.

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

But do our thanks go beyond thanking God only for what we see as His abundant provision? It is a time to be thankful in all things the Bible says. This morning I opened a hymnal to “Thanks to God for My Redeemer” – song by John Hultman, 1910; words by August Storm, 1891. I thought about the words. Am I thankful to God only when things are going my way, or am I also thankful to God for the storms in my life, for the mishaps, for those things that are not always pleasurable?

The words to “Thanks to God for My Redeemer” reflect the heart of one who is satisfied always, in both abundance and lacking.

Thanks to God for my Redeemer, thanks for all thou dost provide!
Thanks for times now but a memory, thanks for Jesus by my side!
Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime, thanks for dark and dreary fall!
Thanks for tears by now forgotten, thanks for peace within my soul!

Thanks for prayers that thou hast answered, thanks for what thou dost deny!
Thanks for storms that I have weathered, thanks for all thou dost supply!
Thanks for pain and thanks for pleasure, thanks for comfort in despair!
Thanks for grace that none can measure, thanks for love beyond compare!

Thanks for roses by the wayside, thanks for thorns their stems contain!
Thanks for homes and thanks for fireside, thanks for hope, that sweet refrain!
Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow, thanks for heavenly peace with thee!
Thanks for hope in the tomorrow, thanks through all eternity.

I wonder how many of us will “give thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20), not only for what we see as His abundant blessings, but of sorrow and joy, through pleasure and despair, through lacking and abundance.

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me”  (Philippians 4:13).  Thanks be to God.

Copyright 2014 by Bill Hutzel

Time with God Cannot Be Hurried

Forgive the cliché, but in a “fast food world” and in an America where men would like their cars fast from 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds, I suppose many of us regard prayer in the same way. Fast is okay, we think. Let’s just get our prayer done and get the show on the road. Besides, God will understand. I am busy, and I will have fulfilled my daily prayer obligation.

How many of us actually think that way? I got up this morning, downed my cup of coffee, said a few prayers and was off to work. But hold on a minute! “I think I just blew past my exit”, or at least in the sense that I missed God’s exit. God says, “Time with Me cannot be hurried. When you are in a hurry your mind drifts aimlessly back and forth between Me and your tasks at hand”.

I recognize that prayer is often times difficult, especially when our thoughts are not focused on God to start with. My mind is running a mile a minute when I get up in the morning. But even with our busy schedules, God would ask, “could you not carve out from your busy schedule some time to pray to Me?”

Too many people I have spoken to, either because they are too busy or because they can’t focus, do not strive or persist at prayer and give up after 5 minutes. One person, I know, went to her pastor after trying to set aside a time to pray, and said to her pastor that it was too hard and that she was giving up. Here is what a mom was quoted as saying “Another race against the clock with only seconds to spare for a few “popcorn prayers” shot up to the Lord throughout one more busy day in the life of a mom” (2004, Welchel’s Busy Mom’s Guide to Prayer xii).  

How many of us compensate, for lack of unhurried prayer time, by having “popcorn prayer time” or “flash prayers” throughout our day as a substitute? Please do not take this the wrong way because I believe sporadic prayers throughout the day are all well and good, for we are instructed to pray morning, noon, and evening; but I also believe God wants us to find some time alone with Him to pray. When we do, we will be filled with His Presence, peace, and joy.

God wants more than anything for us, to spend quality time with Him. And when we take the time to seek His face, only then can we commune with Him and transcend both time and circumstances.

Prayer: Lord, in my busyness, help me to stop and pray to You. Help me to set aside a dedicated time to You that is unhurried, a time that I can sit and listen to Your still voice without the clutter of busy thoughts.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE TO READ – “Lest We Forget

 

Copyright 2014 by Bill Hutzel, All Rights Reserved

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Ducklings remind us to never give up

My niece Tracy Hutzel and Jason David posted to YouTube a video of ducklings trying to climb stairs in order to be united with their mother who was just ahead of them at the top of the stairs. To them, the stairs were their Mt. Everest.  The video went viral and has over 3 million views.  You will enjoy this short video.

ABC News reported, “These little ducklings are the perfect reminder to never give up on your goals, big or small”.

Similarly, we too should never give up on our deepest desires, and our quest to be victorious in prayer. Sometimes, however, things just don’t come easy, and I too am challenged by the steps I need to ascend. For me, as an example, it might be when I pray for something and it seems that God does not hear my prayers. I am impatient. But God would encourage me to keep persisting, just as we are reminded in the video of the ducklings who never stopped trying until they achieved their goal of being re-united with their mother who stayed near, and who never abandoned them.

What do you strive for?  What is your Mt. Everest?  For me, God also reminds me to pray fervently and keep at it. But my mind flitters back and forth between Him and my tasks for the day, my concerns and worries. Sometimes I don’t know what to pray, and prayer is seemingly dry and unproductive. Be encouraged though, and don’t give up. Paul encourages us to “strive to pray” (Romans 15:30).  Whether you feel like it or not, just do it!  That is half of the battle won.  “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God for you” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Many people I have spoken to, either because they are too busy or because they can’t focus, do not strive or persist at prayer, and give up too easily.  One person I know, went to her pastor after trying to set aside a time to pray, and said to her pastor that it was too hard to pray and that she was giving up; not like the ducklings who in the video persisted and persisted until they conquered their Mt. Everest.

Interestingly, the mother duck in the video waited just ahead of her flock of ducks until all were united before moving on.  She never abandoned them. God too is faithful and waits for us, for it says in Deuteronomy 31:8 that “the LORD is the One who will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged”.

Copyright 2014 by Bill Hutzel

Faith Small as a Mustard Seed

small as a mustard seed

Did you ever pray like this?  “Nothing is impossible for you God, BUT …..”

I will be the first one to admit that my faith is somewhat of a see-saw at times, going back and forth between my small faith and my little faith (yes there is a difference; I will explain herein).  Some days you hear from God and God answers your prayers, and then on other days, God’s promises seem so far out of reach.  In the story of the epileptic boy in Matthew 17:14-21, the disciples could neither exorcise nor heal the boy, yet Jesus had previously given them authority to do just such a thing.  Jesus gave them the ability, figuratively speaking, to move mountains.  So why then did they fail to exercise their faith this time?

I do believe that the disciples believed that nothing was impossible for God, but in the story of the epileptic boy, it says that they could not exercise their faith.  It says that the disciples, not understanding why they could not heal the boy, came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”, and Jesus answered them, “Because of the littleness of your faith (Matthew 17:20).   In another passage in the Bible it says that Jesus addressed them “ye of little faith”.  I cannot help but think that this was a rebuke.  The disciples were always around Jesus.  They saw Jesus feed the thousands and heal the sick. And in Mark 6:13 it says that this same authority to cast out devils and heal the sick was also given to them.

In previous times the disciples had successfully cast out demons and healed the sick. Had they not prayed and fasted this time (Matthew 17:21)?  Did the disciples now take the power given to them for granted as if it belonged to them?  Were they relying solely on their own abilities? Pertaining to starting and not finishing, I am also reminded of Peter when Jesus called him to step out of the boat (Matthew 14:29-31).  Peter believed (at least for the moment).  Trusting in Jesus and stepping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water, but then when he took his eyes off of Jesus he began to sink and he became afraid.  “Ye of little faith”, Jesus said, “why did you doubt?”

Jesus first spoke strongly about the unbelief of the entire generation here in this passage in Matthew 17.  “The crowds and religious people came to see spectacular miracles but failed to believe in Him despite all the evidence God had provided” (Bible Study Fellowship notes).  Jesus, in apparent frustration lamented, “You faithless [or, unbelieving] and corrupt people! How long must I be with you?  How long must I put up with you?”

It is interesting, the comparison between the disciples’ littleness of faith (having nothing to do with the measure of faith that God graces all believers with) and small faith (as a mustard seed). “Little faith” in the Greek comes from the word “oligopistos” which means trusting too little (i.e. lacking confidence in Christ).  This word is used 5 times in the Bible including here in Matthew 17.

In Mark 9:23-24, Jesus addressed the father of the epileptic boy – “And Jesus said to him, If You can! All things are possible to him who believes. Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, I do believe; help my unbelief”, and the boy was cured at once.  Then He said to the disciples “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.” The small faith shown by the boy’s father (in contrast to littleness of faith exhibited by the disciples), is an example of faith that is alive in the believer and that has the potential to mature into greater faith.  Answers to prayer and the magnitude of the miracle performed is also not necessarily proportionate to the size of your faith (as evidenced by the father’s small faith) when you have faith as a mustard seed, but according to God’s good grace who has allotted to each a measure of faith when “ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7).  And realize also if you are trusting and obeying, and your faith starts out as small as a mustard seed, it’s okay, for it will grow.

On a Saturday in late October last year I broke my wrist preparing for Storm Sandy.  And during a worship service the following morning, God very clearly said to me “you are healed”.  “If you can”, said Jesus, “all things are possible to him who believes.”   My initial response was that of the father of the boy in Matthew 17.  “Lord, I believe, help me in my unbelief.”  In other words, I did believe that God could do a miracle, but if there was any reason for doubt, I needed God to remove it. I needed to believe.  I knew in my heart that God wanted me to trust in Him, although weak in spirit and small in faith, I knew God also wanted me to step out in faith and claim His promise.  I needed God’s help.  “Help me God in my unbelief.”   Help me God to believe and, as the apostles also prayed “increase my faith” (Luke 17:5).   God’s countenance shined down upon me.  (See full story – “Into the Storm“).

God’s promises are there for all believers, yet so many of us prevent God from working in us for maybe fear of disappointment, or maybe we have not prayed fervently or believed God’s Word.  Yet for those who courageously come to Jesus with hope as small as a mustard seed, sincerely desiring God’s touch, God sheds His grace upon them.  God wants us to go out on a limb and ask Him for the impossible, for God is a God of miracles and delights to answer our prayers.  And those who are blessed “are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:16).  Seek God until your hunger and thirst are satisfied, and your prayers are answered.  And as we continue to grow in Christ and see miracles and answers to prayer, our faith (as a mustard seed) will also grow, in turn making it easier each time to trust in God and believe that “nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).

Perhaps you have some thoughts on this topic.  I would like to hear your answers.  Please post your comments.

Prayer:  Lord, I do believe. You saved me and gave me faith to believe, but my faith is weak at times.  Forgive me for my unbelief.  Lord, increase my faith so that I might give glory to You. 

Copyright 2014 by Bill Hutzel

Prayer of David

OnPrayer02God knows us intimately.  He knows our deepest desires and thoughts.  He knows our concerns and fears.  The other day I was reading Psalm 25.  It was timely for me, because I needed to trust in God for something.  Then during Sunday worship service at my church, I felt God speak to my heart.   “Bill, just trust me”, He said.  He said it several times.  It is exactly what I needed to hear at that time.  He was telling me to lean on Him and not to lean on my own understanding.  So often we need God to speak to us, just to let us know He is listening and that He is there for us when we need Him.

In Psalm 25, David prayed “In you, Lord my God, I put my trust”.  (some translations say “I lift up my soul”).  This was an expression of faith without the evidence of hope yet revealed.  David was praying; reaching out to God to rescue him.  God asks us also to step out in faith and ask Him to rescue us from our loneliness and affliction, our troubles, anguish and distress.   Just trust in Him.  Let our hope be in Him alone.

Psalm 25 Of David.

In you, Lord my God,
    I put my trust
.  (some translations say “I lift up my soul”)
I trust in you;

    do not let me be put to shame,
    nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in you
    will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
    who are treacherous without cause.
Show me your ways,
Lord,
    teach me your paths. 

Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love,
    for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth
    and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
    for you, Lord, are good.
Good and upright is the
Lord;
    therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right
    and teaches them his way.
10 All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful
    toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.
11 For the sake of your name, Lord,
    forgive my iniquity, though it is great.
12 Who, then, are those who fear the
Lord?
    He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.
13 They will spend their days in prosperity,
    and their descendants will inherit the land.
14 The Lord confides in those who fear him;
    he makes his covenant known to them.
15 Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
    for I am lonely and afflicted.  
17 Relieve the troubles of my heart
    and free me from my anguish.
18 Look on my affliction and my distress
    and take away all my sins.
19 See how numerous are my enemies
    and how fiercely they hate me!
20 Guard my life and rescue me;

    do not let me be put to shame,
    for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness protect me,
    because my hope, Lord, is in you.
22 Deliver Israel, O God,

    from all their troubles!

PRAYER:  Dear Lord, help me to put my trust in You.  Show me Your ways; teach me Your paths.  My hope, Lord, is in You.

Copyright 2013 by Bill Hutzel

What if prayers for healing are not answered with a “yes”?

The Story of Zac Smith

This is the touching story of Zac Smith who served God for a majority of his life. After being diagnosed with cancer, he was confused and thought he was being punished. Turning to Jesus, his confusion changed to hope and confidence that God had a plan.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOfb5A-i1oc&w=560&h=315]