Then He said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19

Getting Alone with God

Distractions and diversions

When our family answered the call to the missionary life 4 1/2 years ago we understood that one of the challenges we would face being far away from home were the feelings of loneliness and isolation. I had a choice to make about my attitude and perspective. Either I was going to feel sorry for myself or  take advantage of this new arena by learning how to get alone with God instead of entertainment, visiting friends, spending time with family or spending countless hours on social media which for some people is starting to take the place of all other activities. I will deal with social media on another blog post later. If you do not make a conviction about getting alone with God through prayer and bible meditation then life will become just a big distraction itself from the author of life.

Alone at Last

I was recently inspired by a testimony in which they admitted, “I finally got tired of the way my life is.” which was a confession for an inner change. I said to myself now that is the kind of desperation that God responds to. It reminded of Jacobs conversion.

Genesis 32:24 NKJV Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.
Finally God had pinned Jacob down so he could begin to deal with him about his character. As spectators reading about this schemer we say AMEN! Thank God! But what about us? Our character? Is it possible for us to be harboring some schemes that is not part of Gods plan?

I want to share this illustration with you. This blog is named the tackle box, so sometimes I will allude to fishing illustrations to help me make a point. Any sport fisherman will have some type of knowledge of fishing lures. There are 3 common varieties that are fished at different water depths (top/mid/bottom)  and speeds. As follows top water/sub surface/mid range-slow sinking/deep diving or trolling lures. Generally speaking when you use a deep diving lure you are trying to locate larger predators that use the darkness of the deep to ambush their prey. Thus the deeper you go the larger the prize. I believe the same is true spiritually. The deeper we dive into Gods presence we become larger (spiritually speaking) people. I will submit this thought to you. If God is going to make our lives fruitful, then he must have access to get deeper in our heart. This will require times in our lives where we will not have anyone else to turn to except God himself. God can and will do more for you than any person or institution.

Ephesians 3:20 NKJV Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…

Let me qualify this a little better by saying it is wise & good to seek council and advice from leaders and fellow brethren at times. I am not saying you should not ask questions.  What I am saying is get alone with God first and see where that leads you, then you can couple that with advice and council. This will help keep your relationships away from resentment and bitterness as well. When we just ask peoples advice and it does not work there is a temptation to blame others for our choices. We say they told me to do this, but it didn’t work.

A divine set up (Would God purposely set you up?)

I believe God wrestled with Jacob alone purposely. Gods plan viewed in hind sight shows us that Jacob was going to be converted to Israel. The truth about Jacob was he was not the type that liked to be confronted if he could not come away with his own plans. Maybe you are experiencing something that has isolated you. You find yourself alone more than usual. Is it possible that God would orchestrate life so you might get alone with him. Do you believe God wants your relationship to get deeper? Can you think of anything that you would want God to change in your character?

HOPE: We can become useful

I believe the heart of God’s people is to make impact for Gods glory. In fact that was the main idea for Jacob “the schemer” becoming Israel “prince with God”. The new testament presents Jacob as a man who had a living relationship with God and is incorporated as one of Gods titles. Jesus spoke of the God of “Abraham, Isaac, and JACOB” as the God of the living. I think when we get alone with God not only will it benefit us, but we will become profitable to others as well.

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No matter what stage you are at in your marriage this book is written directly to husbands that are interested in improving their marriage. I believe the author does a good job of relating to the problems of married men.  As well as giving the reader plenty of encouragement on how to do something to work on these issues. I appreciate that he even goes as far as showing you a schedule and Ideas on how to effectively and affordably “Date your Wife”.

 

Many books bring up marriage problems without any real answers. But I think the author does a good job of bringing in the Word of God to identify marital issues and bring hope for change. I think some of the illustrations and personal stories will also compel you as it did me to understand his message.

 

However being that he is a pastor, he mentions that he would drink wine and smoke cigars with his friends. Although his marriage may be good, he might want to consider what kind of example he is giving to others. As a Christian and a pastor myself, whatever we do we must consider what others may do with our example. Paul said 1 Cor 10:23-24 23 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being. NKJV

Mastery Over Self

Sow a thought, reap an act; sow an act, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.

Does anyone purpose in their heart for life or ministry to end up in ruin or failure?  Probably not. I believe most of us do intend for our state of being to end well. So why do so many start off well and end up with great loss. Obviously there could be a host of reasons and excuses. In 2 Peter 1:5-11 we are strongly encouraged to GIVE ALL DILIGENCE, and ADD to our FAITH some CHARACTER VIRTUES that will help and aid us through our walk in this world.

The word of God discerns man’s heart. In that one of our human weaknesses is to NEGLECT areas of life that we may not think important. READ the text

2 Peter 1:5-6 5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness,

GIVING ALL DILIGENCE or pay attention, give yourself, initiate this because in the natural we will neglect our character. What type of person have you become? What type of person does the Word of God say you should become? What type of person do you want to become? Human nature is naturally inward. We tend to always think how others make us feel or what others do to us. Not considering that maybe we are the one’s lacking something in our own character. God cares about our lives here on earth so he warns us of the dire consequences of neglecting our character.

For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. 2 Peter 1:9

I call it Spiritual Amnesia. These are some consequences to neglecting character.

  1. Loss of Vision- you can lose focus to where you are going and why you made the decision to get saved in the first place.
  2.  Forget  What Jesus did for you – This is tragic! It will play  out in your character. Revert to the old man.

The Result: Bad (sinful) decisions are made about money, relationships, work, how you spend your time. Not having self-control has the ability to affect every area of life.

I realize that in our text there is a whole list of things we are to work on and add to our faith. For the sake of this blog post let’s key in on a virtue that I think is instrumental to undergo a character change “SELF CONTROL”.  This virtue is something we really must get a handle on because this is going to color every area of our life.  From handling money, emotions, sexual purity this virtue is desperately needed to make righteous decisions. Other words for SELF CONTROL are TEMPERANCE and MASTERY over SELF.

It is possible to be a born again Christian with bad character! I believe this is one of the chief reasons why people struggle with the same problems. Take for instance someone who is in debt. Invariably they believe if they could have just a little more money they would fix their problem. This is a false hope if they lack the virtue of SELF CONTROL. What they will do when they get more money is usually spend more and increase their debt or get more loans thus compounding the problem. It reminds me of a quote that I heard from Winston Churchill. Someone had approached him and suggested that education is the key in changing society. But Winston Churchill understanding human nature said “If you educate a crook that sleeps in empty box cars of trains all you will do is educate him to steal the whole train.” Because unless their inner person is changed they will choose according to what they are.

Some trials God will allow for the devil to tempt you, but then there are the ones that we MAKE FOR OURSELVES by making poor decisions.

In conclusion I want to leave you with this encouragement of ” The Spirits Help”.

2 Tim 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. NKJV

In 1 Sam 22:1-2it says that David when he escaped to the cave of Adullam that 400 men that were distressed, in debt, and discontent surrounded themselves to him. David who is an Old testament Christ type began to spiritually impart something into these men that resulted in the changing of their reputation and character. We read later on that these men became the mighty men of David. One of these choice men had the ability to defeat up to 800 foes in battle. Do you see the contrast? Physically these were the same men, but a spiritual transformation began to take place as they rallied their lives around David. Likewise when we get saved and follow Christ Jesus we have the same potential.

We read in Luke 8:35of the Gadarene demoniac. After he has an encounter with Jesus, he was delivered from a legion of evil spirits and redeemed by the Holy Spirit. The bible documents that part of the noticeable change of this mans life was that he was now in his right mind. Here was a man who was controlled by Satan and could not be brought under control or tamed by any man. It is written that he would break chains and fetters. Thus this man was in a constant rage until Jesus brought him under the dominion of the Holy Ghost.

We can be encouraged because the promise of the Holy Spirit’s help. In one bible version it says a “disciplined mind” brought under the dominion of Holy Spirit. This does not mean that the Spirit will it do it for you. What it means is that God has cleared the path way for us and now we must begin to build upon it.

These verses give us confidence that we can have a victorious Christian walk if we will pay attention to our character. How encouraging it is to know the will of God for our lives.

8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. NKJV

Post from my old blog – October 22, 2010

What if God was to tell you that the more you Preach to people the more spiritually deaf and blind they will become? Would you still be excited and willing to do it?

Generally when we think of calling & ministry, we are quickly grabbed by the thoughts of fruitfulness and success. Before ever answering the call to preach, when we were serving in our mother church, we would always envision ourselves being able to win our friends and family to Christ. It was preached to us, taught to us, and demonstrated to us that as we live for Jesus and make the gospel known it is just a matter of time before people will respond.

Through the years you see a lot of people come and go out of the church. It’s at this point a very dangerous attitude can develop. Now if you don’t keep a right view of God or you let pride get in the way, then this can begin to make you cynical about people and begin to doubt what God says concerning fruitfulness. Eventually this plays out in discouragement, and prevents you from ever seeing what God can do. It has been said before “If the devil cannot get you to backslide, then his next aim is to make you ineffective for the Kingdom of God.”

In my own study & reading of the book of Isaiah 6:8-11 we read about a mans response to a call. It struck me that shortly after Isaiah answered the call to be a prophet, God quickly told him is mission!

Isa 6:8-10 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?”
Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” 9 And He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ 10 “Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return and be healed.” NKJV

Why would He send His minister to people who the more you preach to them the worse off they become? How discouraging this could be, if we didn’t know that this was God’s Will. The soul winner inside of us wants to see people touched and saved, brought to the Kingdom of God. Ultimately we want our words to help people make it for God!

This is where we learn something about God. Isaiah was not to get caught up in the peoples response level, but his CALLING ultimately meant he was going to preach God’s message, because this was God’s Will & desire for his life. Now I am not advocating Laziness or an attitude of complacency. Or that we should feel justified if we don’t have people in our churches. But what I am pointing out is that there is a danger when we minister and we feel like we are not having any impact.

How do you view Isaiah? Would you say he was a success or a failure? After all, we never read about him having a MEGA CHURCH or having his own slot on TBN. Scripture holds him up as one of the most powerful men of the bible. As a matter of fact, we find that he prophesied more about Jesus Christ than any other prophet in the bible. Isaiah was a man with a calling from God, and he was faithful to it no matter the outcome. May it be said about you and me, that we were found faithful to the end.

I have always enjoyed watching Jimmy Houston Outdoors. Ever since I was a teenager, I would search for his program, so I could learn fishing tips and  become a better fisherman. When my wife came across his devotional gift book Catch of the Day, it drew my interest immediately. Now not only can I get great fishing tips, but I can also get helpful spiritual tips for my daily living as well.  Anyone who loves Gods word and catching fish will really find this book a source of help.

It was a good surprise to know that Jimmy Houston is a dedicated Christian. Many religious books today only focus on feel good issues. It is very obvious to me that though he really enjoys fishing, his first priority is his service to God. The world needs people with Godly convictions to challenge their lives.  I can see how this book could minister even to unbelievers. Because of the way he illustrates facts, knowledge, and experiences through fishing, he is able to show people’s need to believe and apply the word of God to their lives.

This book would be a terrific addition to anyone who is looking for an inspiring devotional and who enjoys fishing and the outdoors.

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