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Dismay is for Wimps

"Dismay" - that's an odd word. We don't hear it much anymore. What does it even mean? Glad you asked. It means, "to make discouraged at the prospect of trouble". What does that mean? It means you get discouraged by the "what-ifs" before you even get started.

Has God given you an assignment, a vision, a desire? Are you looking at all the things that could go wrong? Are you afraid of failing? Are you afraid of making a mistake? If you answered yes to any of these, then you are dismayed.

Everyday offers opportunities to be discouraged, afraid, or confused. But you can choose what you're response is going to be. I'm going to give you some scriptures where God tells us not to be dismayed. Notice that each "do not be dismayed" is accompanied with "be of good courage".

Deuteronomy 31:6, 8: "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you." "And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, do not fear nor be dismayed."

Joshua 1:9: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

Joshua 10:25: "Then Joshua said to them, "Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage, for thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.""

(My favorite) Isaiah 41:10: "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

There is a well known quote I like by Ambrose Redmoon, "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear."

What are you facing today? Are the "what ifs" keeping you from fulfilling the vision God has given you? Don't be discouraged by imagined difficulties. God did not give you a spirit of fear! Strengthen your mind with the confidence and assurance that God is your Help! Move forward, being convinced that whatever difficulties 'may' lie ahead, God is greater and He is for you!


In the Light of Eternity ....

What's important in your life? What struggles are you having? What's your "hot button"? What are your pet peeves? These are all things we have to deal with in the here and now, but how important are they in the light of eternity?

We let things upset us, we worry, we fear, we get angry. But how would things look from an eternal perspective? That co-worker who got your promotion or who is making life miserable for you, that person who cut you off in traffic, that family member who is causing you grief, that addiction that plagues you .... what are they in the light of eternity?

I'm not saying that we ignore life and the challenges it brings. We have to deal with those things. We have to pay the bills, go to work, live with our families, battle temptations. They are important, But what's more important is eternity. The situations we deal with in the natural will one day pass away. The Bible says that everything that is temporal (earthly) is subject to change - it will change.

Eternity - the Kingdom of God - never changes. And every person is an eternal being. Each one of us will spend eternity in one of two places. We will have eternal life in heaven with Jesus, or eternal death in hell. It is our choice. Accept Jesus as your savior and you have eternal life. By not accepting Him you have made a decision for eternal death.

Eternity is a long time! The things we deal with in the here and now, even though necessary, are very small in the light of eternity. Don't get so wrapped up in the here and now that you don't consider your eternity. Choose this day eternal life, then live that life making an eternal difference in the lives of others.

What if there were no missionaries?

I received a letter the other day from some missionaries who, like many others, are experiencing a decline in their offerings. I think we can all agree that our finances can be a real challenge. It's hard to make ends meet. For some of us, we have more month left at the end of the money. Unfortunately, one of the first places people look at for cutbacks is in giving. It has the least impact on us personally. When I read the letter from these missionaries, I wondered if people have considered what would happen if all the missionaries had to come home because of lack of support? What would this world be like without missionaries? What if there were no more missionaries?

What if:

there was no one to go to hostile countries and tell them of God's love?

there was no one to translate the Bible into foreign languages and dialects?

there was no one to start orphanages in poor and destitute countries?

there was no one to care for the widows and elderly in third-world countries?

there was no one to train pastors, evangelists, and teachers in countries eager to learn?

there was no one to take medicine or medical help to dying nations?

there was no one to bring the Light of the world into a darkness of lies?

there was no one to see, first-hand, the persecution of the Church in other countries and bring news back to America?

These are just a few of the things that missionaries, whom we know personally, are doing for the Kingdom of God. Some of these things we have done ourselves. Missionaries, sent ones, are God's vehicle for taking His good news to the nations. They are the ones to accomplish the command Jesus gave - "Go, therefore and make disciples of all the nations .... teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you;" (Matt. 28:19,20) And in Mark 16:15, Jesus said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." In Acts 1:8, Jesus said we would be a witness to Him to the end of the earth. Romans 10:14 & 15 asks us, "How can people believe something they haven't heard, and how can they hear about it unless someone tells them, and how can someone tell them if they can't go?"

Missionaries are a primary means of spreading the Gospel in the whole earth. Jesus isn't returning until the Gospel is preached to all the nations. "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come." (Matt. 24:14)

We know personally how financially challenging these days are. Acts 29 Ministries has been affected. We support missionaries through Acts 29. Some months are more challenging than others, but we have determined that we are not going to stop. The world needs missionaries. God needs missionaries. If you support a missionary - praise God! Keep it up! If you have stopped supporting a missionary, please reconsider.

Giving into the Kingdom should not be the first place to go for cutbacks. You may not think you have anything left to give, or you may think the little that you have won't do much good. Look at it like this - if you gave a dollar a week, that's fifty-two more dollars that missionary has than if you didn't give. In some countries, $52 could be a month's groceries.

God gives seed to the sower. If you have a heart to give, God will show you where the money is. And it will probably be in places you haven't looked before.

Next time you see a missionary, or send an offering to your missionary, tell them how much you appreciate what they are doing. If you're not supporting a missionary, find one to support. Keep the Gospel spreading throughout the world!

A god made in man's image

I don't think we Americans realize how blessed we are to be able to hear the Gospel as freely as we do. We have every opportunity and device to hear, read, or watch the Word of God imaginable to man. Some of what we hear, read, or watch is not the Gospel. It's full of condemnation, rules, works, guilt, and trying to please a judgmental God. So we tune it out. We grow indifferent. We don't think God cares so why try to make Him happy. Our indifference has caused us to be callous to the actual Truth. We have hardened our heart to what we perceive to be an indifferent God.

We have made God in our image - unpredictable, judgmental, condemning, angry, uninvolved, uncompassionate, powerless, and distant. We see Him as too busy to get involved in our lives, too indifferent to care, and powerless to do anything about it.

Do you know what Gospel means? It means good news. If we're not hearing good news about God, we're not hearing the Gospel. What we're hearing is man's idea of making God in our image. We have it so backwards. God made man in His image. God wanted someone He could fellowship with so He made man: a spirit-being like Himself but housed in a body. Sin entered when man believed the lie that he wasn't like God. True, we are not God in our humanness, but if we are born-again we are God in our spirit.

Our time would be better spent understanding that we are made in God's image not making God in our image.

To be able to proclaim the Gospel is not only an honor and a privilege, but also a mandate, a responsibility, a commission from Jesus Christ. To proclaim the good news, to announce, to broadcast that God is a loving God, that Jesus died for the sins of the world to make peace between God and man, that God is not mad at us, should be our life mission if we are born-again.

Even news this good we can take for granted. We think, "Oh, I've heard that. I've read books and seen TV shows and webcasts. I've listened to CDs, sermons, and podcasts. That's old stuff." But what if it was taken away? No more Bibles, no more TV or radio shows, no more books or church services, no more webcasts or seminars or conferences. If we lived in a country where it was forbidden, would we miss it? Imagine for a minute what a totally godless world would be like. I can describe it in one word - hell.

We must never take the Gospel for granted. Our relationship with God is something to be guarded, cherished, protected, and valued. God's desire for a relationship with man is something to be announced and proclaimed and broadcast to the world. Doing that must be our highest priority as it is God's - to complete Jesus' mission on this earth.

Why should it be important to us? What difference does it make? Why should we get involved? We figure people are too busy living their lives to care. Why should I care what happens to others as long as I'm going to heaven? Let somebody else do it.

The answers to these questions would pretty much define a man. But it's more important for us to define God, to understand Who He really is, not Who religion has made Him - a god made in man's image.

Why is telling people that God wants a relationship with them so important to Him?

Because He is love (I John 4:8&16) and in order for love to be expressed there has to be an object, a recipient. He expressed His love by sacrificing His own Son to pay the debt/penalty for sin. (John 3:16, I John 4:9,10).

Because He wants our lives to be full of Who He is: joy, peace, power, healing, health, patience, wisdom, righteousness, justice, love, eternity, truth, mercy, compassion, generosity, prosperity, wholeness, etc. As He is, so are we in this world (I John 4:17).

Because He desires all men to be saved and know the truth about Him (I Timothy 2:4).

Light Up Your World

How many of you know there is a lot of evil in the world today? And do you also know that evil is not going away? In fact, it's going to get worse. But let me give you some good news. John 1:4, 5 says, "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend (overcome) it." Darkness cannot overcome light. Darkness is the absence of light. When the light comes on, darkness disappears.

Matthew 5:14, 15 says, "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house." If you are a person who has accepted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, He lives on the inside of you, then you are a light in this world. Wherever you are - work, shopping, visiting neighbors, sports events, family, restaurants - your light is overcoming the darkness.

Matthew 5:16 says, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Are you going around with a bushel over your head? Are you intimidated to let your light shine because of what people might think about you? When unbelievers look at you, do they see the light of Life or a reflection of themselves?

I want to encourage you that Jesus still walks in this earth today. How can I say that? Because He lives in us who have accepted Him. We are His light. We have His nature. We are His hands, feet, and mouth. We should be different from this world. If people can't tell the difference in us, we better take the basket off our head.

Ephesians 5:8 says, "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light..." Verse 11 says, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose* them." Verse 14 says, "Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light." I encourage you, as I do myself, to get your wits about you, shake off indifference, apathy, passivity, and complacence and stand up to illuminate the world around you! Light makes a difference!

*Expose or reprove. Reprove means to gently correct or correct with kind intentions. It's not condemnation or anger or arguments. You can be firm while speaking the truth in love.

What are you brooding about?

Have you ever brooded about some situation or relationship? I know I have - a lot. There is one particular situation I brooded over a lot and I was imagining all the negative ways it could come out. My imagination was going crazy, and not in a good way. In the midst of all that brooding, you know what the Lord told me? Phil. 4:6, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God:"

That's what 'anxious' means - a brooding fear about how something might turn out. I was wasting good time brooding about something that might never happen and over which I had no control.

Now there are some situations that we can do something about. We need to do what we can do and let God do what we can't. Or it might be a negative situation that we can do nothing about and we know what the outcome will be, He still tells us to not brood about it.

God said, "Instead of brooding - pray." Now, we know that God knows all things, so why would He say to make our requests known to Him? I believe it's because God is trustworthy. He is true to His Word.Then He says in verse 7 that His peace will hem us in, it will protect our hearts and minds. His peace will be watching out for those thoughts and situations that want to steal from us. His peace will spy out those areas where we are brooding. I know, every time my thoughts drift to that particular situation I am brought back to this scripture and His peace.

If we're not brooding, what are we going to do? Verse 8 tells us. "whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, 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." Your first question may be like mine - "There's nothing good about this situation to meditate on." Then don't meditate on the situation - where did that get you anyway. What is always true and just and pure and a good report? The Word of God. That is what we meditate on, day and night. It's a much better use of our time.

You can't ignore situations in your life. You can't pretend they don't exist. Not brooding isn't going to make the situation disappear. God knows that and so did Paul when he wrote this. What we can do is focus on God's Word so we are better equipped to handle the situation. That is what I have decided to do with my particular situation. The circumstances are still there, but my focus is on the Word and trusting God. I am hemmed in with His peace.

I pray if there is a situation you are brooding about that you will make it known to God, release it to Him, let the peace of God rule in your heart, and focus on the Word with thanksgiving. I also pray the love God has for you will manifest itself in your life and you will allow His joy to be your strength.

God does not forsake us!

This is a verse that grabbed my attention. It's the last part of Ps. 37:28. It says (God) does not forsake His saints. It's a right now, definitive statement. There's no 'ifs', 'ands', or 'buts' about it. He does not leave us destitute or withdraw from us or fail us. Even if we mess up, He does not turn His back on us. If the devil tells us that we've done so many wrong things that God could never use us - God never gives up on us. He has made His home in us (if we are born-again) and cannot forsake Himself. Heb. 13:5b says, "For He Himself has said,"I will never leave you nor forsake you."" This verse is a quote from Deut. 31:6, 8 where God, through Moses, is encouraging Joshua because he is about to take on a totally new role that has massive responsibility and consequences. Joshua could feel totally inadequate and unqualified, especially following after Moses. But God wanted Joshua to know that he wasn't alone and didn't have to depend on his strength and ability alone. It says, "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you." "And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed."

In whatever we do, wherever we go, no matter what, we can have the confidence and assurance that God is with us (because He lives in us). His presence, His ability, His strength, His love, His grace, never leaves us, never fails us, is never withdrawn from us, is never denied or withheld from us because we make a mistake. God's promises to us and His relationship with us has no expiration date or conditional clauses. Therefore, as Heb. 13:6 says, "we may boldly say: "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" (Ps. 27:1, 118:6)

I pray that in whatever situation you find yourself right now, you will experience the manifest presence and strength of God in your life. You have not been abandoned!

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