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My Great Source of Confidence

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time; casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.” -1 Peter 5:6-7

Those are the words I used to read about 30 seconds before I would preach. Now they ring in my heart naturally. It has been said that people place the fear of public speaking right up there with death! For me, confidence does not come naturally and yet I have grown to enjoy and thrive in speaking from my pulpit every week. The source of my confidence, however, may surprise you. I don’t use public speaking gimicks or tricks. I don’t picture everyone in their underwear (I’m wondering how it is that so many people actually recommend this???). I simply visualize two things: one is my big God, and the other is an audience that needs what I have to say.

You see, preaching is the delivery of God’s words through a human personality. I came to grips with my inability to present God’s message on my own a long time ago. If left up to me, I’d stumble and bumble through an eight minute presentation, then go hide somewhere in shame. But when I realize that God is up to something great within the hearts of my listeners, I can’t wait to share what He’s given me in the study. It’s actually thrilling to watch Him work.

My confidence is rooted first of all in the identity of my God – He’s big, audacious, and radically committed to seeing His truth spread throughout all the world for His own glory. Second, my confidence is rooted in my identity as His child, His called Ambassador, His earthly spokesperson, His mouthpiece. God never calls the qualified, He qualifies the called. What is the source of your confidence in life? For me, it’s the fact that I’m called and the One who called me backs me up! He’s ready any moment to rescue me if I’m ready any moment to speak for Him. Are you ready to live in total God-confidence?

Cartoons These Days!

“Thou, O Lord, remainest for ever; thy throne from generation to generation.” -Lamentations 5:19

Cartoons these days!! I can remember when cartoons were actually funny instead of gross and wierd. Remember Bugs Bunny outsmarting everyone? Remember Donald Duck always fighting with Chip and Dale? Recently I saw a show about a cow and a chicken and the cow was shooting milk out of its utters like a gatlin gun. What’s going on? Actually, If I’m honest I’ll admit that Wile E. Cyote was pretty violent toward the Road Runner also, but I miss the good ole days (and I’m only 29)!!!

It’s hard to watch generational changes and shifts. Young people today struggle with new problems. Those who do take a stand for Christ suffer far greater persecution than in times past. Temptations are more prevalent with most of the things that were once viewed as “vices” now being seen as part of the normal adolescent experience. This truth should trouble us greatly. But one thing I know… The God of my Grandfather is the God of my (future) grandchildren.

God is always. He has always been, He will always be. So no matter how our culture may shift, the same, immutable, uncompromising God will be here for our teenagers and toddlers that was here for us. It is possible for young people to be godly in the midst of today’s culture. Sadly, we’ve bought Satan’s lie that it’s “just too hard” to live the Christian life “today.” Well wasn’t it hard for Moses in the midst of pagan Egypt? But he chose “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” Remember when you thought you’d just “enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” or “sow your wild oats?” Hmm, maybe your generation didn’t really have it that much better after all.

Let all of us old fogies covenant to pray for the up-and-comers today. They face the fire every day. They’re walking through a spiritual minefield but prayer invites the involvement of the God of every generation. He will see them through. He always has His people, in every generation. He calls them out and sends them forth. Let’s pray right now…

The High and Holy One

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; His glory fills the whole earth.” -Isaiah 6:3 (HCSB)

God’s holiness cannot be defined in terms of human goodness for “there is none good, no not one.” Instead, we must realize that God’s holiness speaks of His transcendent perfection. To say that God is holy does not merely mean that He is ultimately moral, but rather that He is completely removed from anything imperfect. His holiness is defined by His separateness.

God’s glory cannot be defined in human terms either. His glory is the outward manifestation of His holiness, His infinite worth. His holiness is the shining radiance, the majestic splendor of His ultimate worthiness. Isaiah said that the whole earth was filled with His glory. All of creation screams that God is holy, transcendent, and set apart. All of His creatures testify of His creative power and genius.

Only human beings fail to bring God glory and one day “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father.” Have you yet caught the vision of Isaiah concerning our holy and majestic Lord? Only when He is the object of your devotion will He receive glory from your life, and only when He receives glory from your life can you fulfill your God-given purpose for existence. Have you called Him Lord yet? Will you call on Him as Lord today?

Do You Believe God?

“Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.” -Acts 27:25

Do you believe God? Notice carefully the wording. I didn’t ask, “Do you believe in God?” but “Do you believe God?” It’s one thing to believe He exists, even this is true of the demonic world. In fact most people believe in God for very few people are true atheists. But do you believe God? When He makes a promise, do you take Him at His word?

There will be one sure test of your belief in His promises and that test will be your actions. How do you respond in a given situation? Depending on God’s promises or figuring things out on your own? Paul was being held prisoner, was going to stand before Caesar Himself at trial, was bound on a ship with dozens of other hardened criminals, and was now shipwrecked in the middle of nowhere. Most of us would immediately be figuring out how to escape our circumstances, but not Paul. He realized that he was bound to his circumstances by chains given to him by God. It was not a nice situation, but God had a purpose in it.

If you believe God, faith to act will follow. You may not see the greater purpose, but you’ll know that there is one and you’ll act accordingly. Lord, help us to believe what You say at face value and to base our choices and our actions on Your precious promises.

Astounded By His Authority

“And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, ‘Who can this be, that even the wind and seas obey Him?'” -Mark 4:41 (NKJV)

Early in the ministry of Jesus to his disciples, He offered them a powerful demonstration of His power and authority. They were astounded that the forces of nature were totally obedient to His voice. This respect for His authority would create in them a tremendous respect for Him throughout His earthly ministry. Indeed, Peter would be willing to say (brashly) that he would follow Jesus even to death. James and John would expect to call down fire from heaven in His name.

There is a detail, however, that we will miss if we read too quickly this wonderful story. Theirs was essentially a transfer of fear from nature to Jesus. Their spiritual depth grew during this turmoil in the sea. Have you ever looked at a stormy sky and been awestruck at the magnitude of nature’s power? The bigger question is, have you ever looked at a stormy sky and been awestruck at the magnitude of God’s power? There’s a huge difference.

When storms and crises come our way in life, we’ll either fear the storm and brace ourselves for what nature and life bring our way, or we’ll fear God and be prepared to watch Him work in our situation. The disciples were at a disadvantage. They did not have the record of this event recorded in a Bible for them since it was, of course, a developing story. We, on the other hand, have the privilege of knowing by past revelation that Jesus is there with us when crises come. So, when you see a storm coming, do you look for the One who calms the storm? Or do you simply look at the ominous clouds? Turn to Him and trust Him. Only the Prince of Peace can bring the ultimate calm.