Have you ever asked God for a sign?
Even if you never said anything out loud. Did you ever just think to yourself, if you're real God, have that person "do this" or "say that". Or maybe you needed know about making a decision. Have you challenged God to show you in some specific way?
I have. I've asked Him for signs more than once. Sometimes I saw the signs. Sometimes I didn't. Either way, it was always a scary proposition. Because whether you're a person of faith or not, fear gets in the way. I mean, who wants to test God and then get a lightening bolt, right?
What if God challenged you?
That's what happened to Ahaz. You see, there was this king long ago. He wasn't a man who followed after God. In fact he worshipped many other gods. But he sat on the throne of Judah and was in the lineage of David. (Matthew 1:9) This meant that the seed of the Messiah needed to come through him.
But Ahaz had a problem. There were some bigger, badder kings who were planning to come into Judah and takeover. So God sent the prophet Isaiah to give him some encouragement before the battle.
Isaiah's words from God were,
‘Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram...' Isaiah 7:4
Through Isaiah, God told Ahaz that this defeat would not happen and...
'If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.’ Isaiah 7:9
Finally, the prophet Isaiah's words ended by telling Ahaz to ASK God for a sign.
Ahaz had the GO AHEAD!
Ahaz was given a GREEN LIGHT!
Ahaz could ask for a sign without any fear or doubt because God told him to.
Yet Ahaz already had a plan in place. He had paid tribute to the evil King of Assyria to protect him. He had paid him with the treasures from the temple of God. So how convenient it was now to quote a faithful and religious sounding word to keep him from "testing" God. When in fact he most likely feared God the most.
I wonder how often I do this?
I get my ducks all lined up in a row. I plan things out, at my own expense. Even at the expense of others. And THEN I think (or someone suggests) I should put my faith in God. Like it's an afterthought.
"Oh yeah, I probably should have prayed about it." But I don't want to "test" God because that would be wrong. Sure, that sounds better. But isn't it really just my stubborn pride. Isn't it really that I'm planning to rely on my Plan A?
But God wasn't willing to rely on Ahaz' plan. Because He had a plan for salvation that needed to happen. And He wasn't going to let Ahaz ruin it.
God's plans are always better.
If Ahaz went through with his plan and was defeated, the line of David... the lineage of Judah, may have ended. Where would we be now without a Messiah? No Jesus... no salvation.
So God overruled Ahaz. He continued to speak through Isaiah and told Ahaz his sign anyway.
Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:13-14
How grateful I am that God was so stubborn with Ahaz. How grateful I am that He is so stubborn with me. That He does not let me get away with my own way... my own pride, my own reasoning. How grateful I am that God persisted in His plan to send Jesus as our Savior so that we could be saved from our own stubbornness and sin.
So in this today, I believe...
'If you do not stand firm in your faith,
you will not stand at all.’
The Word of God is training me
to have stubborn faith...
to stand firm in it.
Knowing that He stood firm for me.
He overcame evil for my good.
I too can stand firm in my faith
so that evil can be overcome!
Thank You, Lord for stubborn faith.
Help me to persist in this.
Give us all a sign today!
Let us KNOW, without doubt
that YOU are stubborn for us!
You know those times when you find yourself in a jam... when even your best intentions got you stuck in a bad position? What a relief when help finally comes!
So the last thing you want to do is go back to a place where you could get stuck all over again, right? But what if an angel told you to?
For that's what happened to Peter and John.
They continued to preach about the death and resurrection of Jesus in the temple complex even when the teachers of the law had warned them not to. So they got arrested and thrown in jail.
But somehow without the notice of anyone else, an angel opened the door, releasing them with instructions to go back to the temple... and tell the people about this life.
It's pretty clear these guys had never seen a jail-break movie because they do exactly as the angel says. They don't even consider making a run for it.
It would seem that when God wants to be Our Open Door, releasing us from what binds, His intention is that we openly use it to tell others about the life it brings us, the freedom found in it. Even though it's possible that it may bring persecution and trouble.
But I guess if He sent one angel, He can certainly send another. It's not like God is short on angels or open doors. And He wants us to realize that His word of life has more meaning when we boldly return to the scene of the crime and share it from our personal experience.
Thank You, Lord for being Our Open Door of opportunity. Let us enter in boldly to tell others about this life You gave, so that we could live.
Don't you hate it when you think of something clever to say, but the moment has passed? You wish you had been quicker, sharper, wittier?
If I'm honest in those moment, all too often I realize it's just me wanting to impress others. Then I read about people like Peter and John who made a real impact, who had something amazing to say at just the right moment... and said it.
In the depth of my heart, that too is my desire. But does my prayer life truly reflect it?
The early church was started by the apostles of Jesus. These were the eye-witnesses of His life, death and resurrection. They were convinced and convicted to spend the rest of their lives telling and re-telling His story to spread the good news, even if it meant persecution.
And their prayer life showed it.
When they were threatened... like literally threatened, by rulers who could imprison and put them to death for such, they prayed all the more for boldness and the hand of God to show wondrous signs.
When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak God’s message with boldness.
Acts 4:31 HCSB
How I desire this boldness as well.
How I desire to be like these.
So what holds me back?
I'm not persecuted for my faith.
What are my threats?
Could they be the doubts in my mind which tell me I'm not good enough? Could they be the daily distractions of a life I've built too busy? Could they be the wrong influences I allow to cloud my vision like social media feeds and binge watching?
Lord, consider these... my threats, and grant that I can serve as Your slave. Help me to speak Your message with complete boldness, while You stretch out Your hand for healing, signs, and wonders to be performed through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus. Let the place where I stand be shaken, let me be filled with Your Holy Spirit and begin to speak Your message with boldness.
How many days I've wandered.
Confused in my own thoughts.
Trying to reason, trying to understand.
If you've ever suffered times of hopelessness, uncertain of which way to turn, I totally get it. You think back on days when life seemed easier. The times when your routine was simple and ordered.
Maybe you've made a choice that has turned your world upside down. You can't take it back. You can't get a do-over. But it's so hard to move forward when you're beating yourself up, wishing you could just re-wind.
You are totally normal.
Everyone feels this way at times.
It's how disciples must have felt after they had been following Jesus for three years. They grew more and more dependent on His leading, believing t
all that Kingdom talk meant He was going to overthrow the Roman rule. They must have believed freedom was near.
Then He was crucified.
He was dead.
He was gone.
All their hopes and dreams died with Jesus. And they had no history book to make sense of it like we do.
So on that third day when He reappeared to Mary and the two on the road to Emmaus, the stories were just too much to believe.
But these words seemed like nonsense to them, and they did not believe the women. Luke 24:11
How much like our life today.
Confusing, filled with nonsense, difficult to find our way.
Thankfully, we have hope knowing that Jesus left us the gift of His Spirit... the breath of life. How beautiful that He appeared to the disciples and He spoke a word of peace over them, then breathed on them.
But this was not just earthly oxygen and carbon dioxide exchanged. This was a holy breath, like that given at the creation of the first human.
Dust gathered together from earth, breathed into, life given... eternal life.
And we too can receive such.
The Holy Spirit, full of peace to take away the hopelessness.
The Holy Spirit, living within us daily to light the way in darkness.
The Holy Spirit, comforting us, even in the lonely times.
Breathe in, Christian...
RECEIVE the breath of Christ.
The Holy Spirit is yours for the taking.
He can help make sense of the confusion.
He can lead you even after a mistake.
He will love you no matter where you are, no matter what.
Breathe in, Christian...
RECEIVE Our Breath of Peace!
This Psalm gives a great synopsis of the history of the Israelites. But change up the places and titles and it might as well be an account of my life.
For how often have I cycled through the highs and lows of my relationship with God? The seasons I am faithful and drawing near. The times I rebel and crave my own way, only to find that my own way doesn't satisfy. And I cry out to God once again... "Save me." As if I've fallen into a pit that was not my own doing.
And thanks be to God for His rich and faithful love. How amazing His grace and forgiveness to turn from the justice I fully deserve for my rebellion and lift me out of my sin, setting my feet back on the solid ground of His righteousness.
Lord, I am completely undeserving of Your forgiveness, yet ever grateful knowing it is always there. Thank you for so generously offering the riches of Your faithful love. You are the Trustworthy Treasure which redeems me.
from my heart...
I write as an overflow... an expression of my true love for God and with a deep desire to encourage others in their day to day lives. For we can only find peace, joy, and satisfaction when we yield to the One who yielded His life for us.