Medicine For Our Myopia

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God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)


 

Medical textbooks define myopia as a condition which causes visual images to come into focus in front of the retina, resulting in defective vision of distant objects. In other words, myopia is an improper focus, which causes faraway objects to appear fuzzy or blurred, though we clearly see what is close to us. A recent study by the National Eye Institute found that the prevalence of myopia grew from 25% in 1971 to a whopping 41% of Americans aged 12–54 today.

Whether you are one of those affected by physical myopia, I do not know. But I do know that virtually 100% of Christians are affected by spiritual myopia more often than we would care to admit. Our improper focus makes the promises of God appear uncertain, while our present problems are crystal clear, which causes us to be overcome by doubt, fear, and despondency.

So what is the cure for this kind of myopia? Odd as it may sound, we will be restored to 20/20 spiritual vision when we remember that every problem we face actually proves the promises of God. Look at it this way: in today’s verse we read that God has promised to meet all of your needs. Any true problem that you are currently facing is a need that certainly must be met.

  • Difficulties at work
  • Loneliness in your singleness
  • Troubles in your family life
  • Too much month left at the end of the money

Not only does the problem prove the existence of God’s promises, but also His provisions too. The riches of His glory in Christ Jesus are limitless and available for all who call on His name. Every problem we face has a corresponding promise and provision that will meet us in our deepest place of need. The problem for the children of Israel wandering out in the desert was a lack of food and water. The problem proved the promise and provision of God, because God had promised to care for His people, and that meant He would give them food to eat and water to drink. So manna rained down from heaven and water sprang forth from a rock.

What problems are you facing today? God has promised to supply all that you need, and He will do it! As I wrote in the previous article, Scripture assures us that “No matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:20). And He promises time and again to meet us at our every point of need.

Remember that every problem, no matter how daunting, presupposes both the promise and provision of God. Tell Him what you are struggling with today. He cares for you. He wants to hear from you! Look past your problem to see the Prince of Peace, who has promised to do for you what you cannot do for yourself. Instead of heading to the optometrist’s office, let us come boldly to the Throne of Grace and let the Great Physician correct our myopia today.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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SUPERNATURAL SHOWER

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I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. (Ezekiel 36:25)


Oh, what a word of encouragement we have before us today! The Lord, who shed His blood on Calvary’s hill to pay the penalty for all our sins and bring us into the family of faith, has promised us the supernatural cleansing of the Holy Spirit. Notice these words: and you will be clean. Of all the promises of God that are “Yes” and “Amen” in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20), this one should come to us like a cosmic cheer, encouraging us to keep fighting the good fight of faith.

However, I am convinced that this truth will cheer us only to the extent that we understand just how unclean we truly are. If we, like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, believe ourselves to be already clean and thank God that we are not like other men, this promise won’t mean all that much to us. But if we are like that tax collector who cried out, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner” (Luke 18:13 NASB), we will be supernaturally strengthened and encouraged to press on toward the goal. Only the dirty can fully grasp and appreciate what it means to be truly clean.

Look at just how great this promise is. God will cleanse us from all our impurities. He will clean up our language; He will sanctify our desires; He will purify our thought life. But that’s not all! God also promises to cleanse us from all our idols. And who of you reading this right now can count the number of idols to which you have bent the knee and bowed your heart?

Perhaps you’re thinking, “Idols? What idols? I don’t bow down to some sacred cow or golden calf!” No, in this culture we are far too sophisticated for that. Instead, we bow to the approval and applause of others, the achievements we produce, and the assets we possess. We make idols of our work, our families, our relationships, even our hobbies and recreations. But God will send His Spirit to make us clean from our sins . . . and our idol worship too.

So regardless of where this finds you today, please be encouraged! God has promised a supernatural shower that will one day bring to completion the work He has begun in you. Until that day, keep looking to Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of your faith, knowing that He who has promised to cleanse you will not fail, regardless of the uncleanliness that still remains.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Never An Unmet Expectation!

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My expectation is from Him. (Psalm 62:5 NKJV)


One of the common denominators that comes up in many pastoral counseling sessions is “unmet” expectations. The primary reason for this is due to the fact that we tend to put our expectations upon someone other than God. Let me make something perfectly clear right up front: no one other than God Omnipotent can bear the weight of our expectations. Oh, the world will make promises multiplied, but they simply cannot produce.

David knew this truth and centered his expectations on the Eternal One. When our expectation is from Him, we are never left with an unmet expectation. When we set our desires on nothing less than God’s perfect will in our imperfect lives, our expectations will not only be met, they will be abundantly exceeded.

Jesus never had an unmet expectation because every moment of His life was spent in the eager expectation of the Father’s perfect will. His life of prayer and constant communion with His Father caused Jesus to seek and savor God’s eternal plan for His life, which met His every expectation.

Here is the key to unlocking the door leading to never having another unmet expectation. It is not in lowering your expectations; rather, it is in raising your expectation to God. God has promised to meet your every need, but not your every want. To be sure, God meets many of our wants along the way, but the promise is for our needs:

“My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

God has never broken that promise to anyone at any time. He hears our prayers and answers them according to His plan and purpose for our lives. As I often remind the congregation at Cross Community Church, sometimes God says “Yes,” and our expectation has been met; sometimes God says “Wait,” and our expectation has been met; and sometimes God says “No,” and our expectation has been met. How can it be that our expectation is met when God’s answer is “Wait” or “No”? Because when our expectation is from God, we receive His response with joy and gladness, whatever it is, because we trust that our God always works in our lives for our ultimate good.
Where does this find you today? Have you been dealing with some unmet expectations? If so, then you can be sure your expectation is not from Him. You have put your expectation in something smaller than God, and it simply cannot support the weight of your expectations.

When your expectations are from Him, they will never go unmet. That is true not only in this life, but in the next life also. Heavenly glory awaits you and the joyful expectation of hearing the words, “Well done.” Your room has already been prepared, but the door has not yet been opened for you to enter . . . which means that God still has work for you to do here! So do that work for His glory, and you can be assured that your expectations will be abundantly exceeded.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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The Prodigal Promise

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While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20)


After having spent all of his inheritance on riotous living, the Prodigal Son was left with nothing but the memory of what he once had: a roof over his head . . . food to eat . . . a bed to sleep in. Most importantly, he had a father who loved him with all of his heart. But he had turned his back on all that and set off to a distant country. It did not go well for him there. Now, sensing his overwhelming need, he imagined what it would be like to be back home, even if only as a servant rather than a son. And so, with a heart filled with a godly sorrow for the way he had spurned his father, the Prodigal set out for home. No doubt he was feeling some trepidation; when he had asked for his inheritance while his father was still alive, he was essentially saying, “I wish you were dead now!”

Take a second look at today’s verse; you read that the father saw the son “while he was still a long way off.” Do you see what that presupposes? The father was looking for and longing after the return of his son. Each day the father looked off into the distance, hoping that this might be the day when his son would return home. Finally that day arrived, and the father could not even wait for the son to walk up to the front door. Filled with compassion, the father ran out to meet him. Now, in the patriarchal culture of Jesus’ day, fathers just did not do this sort of thing! It would be considered undignified and embarrassing.

As the father was running toward the son, you can be sure that the son’s anxiety was accelerating. What kind of greeting was he about to receive? Would his father scold him for his utterly foolish behavior? Would his father rebuke him for his harsh, unfeeling words when they had last been together? The son knew he had that coming—he deserved a good tongue-lashing! But this was his great fear: Would his father disown him and order him to turn around and leave at once? No doubt the Prodigal was nervously rehearsing his apology one more time: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men” (Luke 15:18-19).

But because the father in the story represents God our Father, he did the one thing that the Prodigal hadn’t expected—what he hadn’t dared even to hope for. The father threw his arms around his son and kissed him! The son began to confess his sin, but his father interrupted him:

The father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” (Luke 15:22-24)

In other words, the son would be received back in the same capacity in which he left—as his father’s son! This is what I call the “Prodigal Promise.” We are all prodigal children who wander away from our Father more often than we would like to admit. We turn away from our Father’s plan and purpose for our lives, determined to blaze our own trail. Perhaps it may seem like we made the right decision for a while. But before long, we find ourselves in the same sorry circumstances as the Prodigal: empty, unfulfilled, and desperate.

There is only one thing left to do at this point: return to our Father. That’s right; no matter what we have done or failed to do, the Prodigal Promise is offered to all who will simply return to the Father.


If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)


How is it with you today? Do you feel like a prodigal son or daughter? Have you wandered away from your Father in heaven? Fear not! Your heavenly Father is waiting and watching for your return. And please remember this: your Father will not wait for you to get all the way home.

“Come near to God,” James promised, “and he will come near to you. . . . Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:8, 10). While you are still a long way off, your God will come running with open arms and nail-scarred hands. Your final steps toward home will find His kiss still warm upon your cheek.

Now that’s a homecoming worth coming home to!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

 

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Redeemed To Be Refined

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I have refined you in the furnace of affliction.  (Isaiah 48:10)


Some Christians believe that redemption is the end of God’s great work of salvation. That is simply not true; redemption leads to refining. We have been redeemed to be refined, and God will not stop His work in us—conforming us to the image and likeness of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ—until He has completed it.

God saved us just as we are—dead in our trespasses and sins. But He steadfastly refuses to leave us in the condition in which we redeemed. Redemption’s goal is to refine us into the image and likeness of our Redeemer. It doesn’t happen in a day; God is refining us little by little, day by day, removing the sinful self and replacing it with the sinless Savior. And we must remember that God has promised to accomplish this through the furnace of affliction. God uses the fiery furnace to refine us, and if that furnace must be heated seven times hotter to accomplish the task, so be it! But we can be confident that our Lord is right there in the fire with us, just as He was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3:25).

It is far better to be refined by God and rejected by the world than to be refined by the world and rejected by God. In the beginning, God created us in His image. But when sin entered into humanity, that image was marred. When God raises us from death to life by giving us the gifts of repentance and faith, He begins the process of refining that distorted image into the very likeness of His Son. And what God starts, He always finishes, which means that He who began this good work will bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6). But that simply will not happen without time spent in the refining fire.

So . . . what fiery furnace are you facing today—personally, professionally, or relationally? Remember, when Jesus prayed for you in His High Priestly Prayer, He did not pray for you to be taken out of this world; no, He prayed that you would be protected from the evil one (John 17:15) while you remain in the world. We are here in the world to witness for our Savior; God often calls us to live out that witness in the furnace of affliction—not the furnace of affluence!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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The Blessing of The Blocked Way

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God has blocked my way with a high stone wall. (Lamentations 3:9)


How we love to proceed unhindered from point A to point B in our daily pursuits! So how is it possible that there is a blessing to be found when the way we are attempting to travel is blocked? When God blocks the way in which we are going, we can be assured that He has ordained a special blessing for us by sending us in another direction.

One thing we can be sure of: God did not block the way because He means us harm, nor does He intend to weaken our witness. On the contrary, the blocked way is delivered to us by our loving heavenly Father, who is calling us to trust Him even when we cannot trace Him. The blocked way is designed to direct us in a new direction that God wants us to travel, one which will be for His greater glory and our greater good. The Bible is full of examples of the blessing of the blocked way, but perhaps none is better than the account of Saul on the road to Damascus.

Saul was in hot pursuit of those who were followers of the Way, “breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples,” (Acts 9:1), and seeking to arrest and imprison any that he found. He requested letters to take to the synagogues in Damascus to get assistance in arresting Christians, both men and women, with the goal of bringing them back to Jerusalem in chains. But God had another plan for Saul.

As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:3-4)

Jesus blocked Saul’s way to Damascus because He had a much better way for Saul to travel. After receiving a divine healing from his brief bout of blindness, Saul began to go into the synagogues, preaching that Jesus is the Son of God. The blessing of the blocked way turned Saul the persecutor into Paul the preacher, who penned almost half of the New Testament. Saul had his own plans for his life, but God sovereignly directed every one of his steps (Proverbs 16:9).

And the same is true for you. The blessing of the blocked way simply cannot be overstated. Regardless of where this message finds you today, if God has blocked the way before you, you can trust that He has a better way for you to go! God formed you and shaped you; He knows you intimately, even numbering the hairs on your head. He knows exactly what you need and when you need it. He is calling you into His perfect plan for your imperfect life—and, more often than not, that plan will include a few “detours” along the way.

Remember, the blessing of the blocked way will only be realized when you get to the other side of it. So, don’t give up and don’t give in!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Special Strength

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The Lord gave special strength to Elijah. He tucked his cloak into his belt and ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot all the way to the entrance of Jezreel. (1 Kings 18:46 NLT)

Have you ever felt like you were “running on empty”? Maybe it would be better to ask, “When was the last time you felt like you were running on empty?” Perhaps you felt that way just recently. Well, I have a word of great encouragement for you today, so please read on.

The Lord is in the business of giving His saints “special strength” to do what He is calling us to do. I have found over the years that I am most drained of energy and strength when I am pursuing what I want to pursue rather than what God wants me to pursue. In other words, God does not provide me with any special strength when I am seeking to achieve my desires rather than seeking His will for my life.

In our verse today, God gave Elijah more than natural strength; He gave him special, supernatural strength, which enabled Elijah to outrun Ahab’s chariot for many miles all the way to Jezreel. I should point out that Jezreel was known as a city of chariots, which enabled the people there to excel in warfare. In the ancient world, those who had chariots possessed a great advantage over those who did not have them, just as a modern army with tanks possesses a significant advantage over an enemy without them.

Chariots represent the power and strength of man. But God demonstrated through the special strength He gave to His prophet Elijah that even the formidable power of chariots was no match for the power of God. As David wrote decades earlier . . .

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall,

but we rise up and stand firm. (Psalm 20:7-8)

Did you know that God has special strength available for you today? Regardless of the “chariots” you come up against, whether in your personal life or your professional life, God is calling you to stand firm in His strength and not your own. Sure, it may be tempting to climb aboard one of the chariots of this world that seem to offer you a promise of getting you to your desired destination with greater ease and speed. But even if you do reach that destination, you will be left weak and wanting.

Let me encourage you to look past worldly chariots of this life, whether they are enticing you or arrayed against you, and to fix your eyes on Christ. He is ready, willing, and more than able to give you the special strength you need to finish your education, start a new business, expand your ministry of service in your church, or mend any broken relationship in your life.

Scripture promises that those who find their strength in God will “go from strength to strength” (Psalm 84:7). He will always give you everything you need to do all that He is calling you to do.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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