Expectation

“When will you comfort me?” Psalm 119:82 NLT

Expectation

“I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me.” Micah 7:7

I can’t think of anything much worse than getting the silent treatment, especially getting the silent treatment from God. Sometimes our afflictions come in the form of silence. We cry out, we plead, beg, anguish, and it seems to fall on deaf ears. “Where is that God of yours?” you hear while wondering within yourself, “I don’t know.”

We have the word, we know the promises, we claim the truths and yet we get nothing but silence. What are we to do? When will we receive our comfort? The Psalmist went through this awful silence, and he didn’t seem to like it much either. There is an answer, and we do have a choice.

The real answer comes in the waiting. The Psalmist knew that God would comfort him, that wasn’t the issue. The issue was when? It seems that this waiting is usually the problem with us. There is a reason for the silence, though. We can be sure God is not ignoring us, mocking us, playing games, or tricking us. He does care. (1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 55:22)

Do we trust what God is doing? Do we trust him in the silence, while we wait for his answer? Micah 7:7 says we can be certain he will hear us. Certain! Right now if you are experiencing the silence, you simply need to be reminded of who God is and how he feels about you. If you believe the Bible is infallible, then you must take the truth that he does care, and wrap it up in your heart like a treasure. Hold on to that during the silence. He will sustain the righteous. Hold on to that during the silence. Truth; hold on to it, stay in it, remind yourself of it, and do not give in to doubt and unbelief that threatens your security in Christ!  The enemy would like nothing more than to get us off the path of trust and into the darkness of doubt. We are rendered ineffective when we are wrecked with unbelief. We cannot help but drip the scent of that poison like garlic cloves hung around our necks. NO! Refuse the unbelief, and embrace the joy of his words to you.

We are called to be active in the waiting. We expect our God to answer, we look for his reply. We don’t stop living life and curl up in a heap while tragedy strikes. We actively trust God and walk in that trust. That is what we are shown throughout the word.

“Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.” Psalm 5:3

“So now, come back to your God…always depend on him.” Hosea 12:6

“The Lord is good to those who depend on him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.” Lamentations 3:25-26

“But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.” Romans 8:25

Lastly, we wait with confidence. When we trust someone, we have confidence in them. We know they will come through for us, and that encourages and motivates us. We have confidence in God because of his word that has proven true over and over again in the lives of millions throughout the centuries. Is it even logical to doubt now? When we consider the stars, the heavens, the earth, and all of creation so well designed, does it really seem reasonable to doubt that God will take care of our situation, silent or not?

“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

We wait expectantly for him to answer, we know he hears us and sustains us in the silence, we have confidence in him, and we live like we believe what he says!

When the answer comes, when the words are spoken softly to your heart, when understanding is clarified, you can rest assured it was in Gods perfect timing, and not a moment too soon.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I thank you for the silent times, when you have allowed me to learn to wait on you. Thank you for developing a deeper level of trust and confidence in you. Thank you for increasing my faith. I confess my times of unbelief and doubting to you, and ask that you remind me of who you are and how you care for me. Combat the lies of the enemy that tell me you’ve abandoned me with the truth that you are sustaining me. Make that truth real in my heart and open my eyes to see you clearer in my circumstances. Teach me to trust while I am waiting on you.

Shades of Black

“Your righteousness is
everlasting and your law is true.” Psalm 119:142 (NIV)

Shades of Black

Crayons, talk about a
color explosion. I would know because I am usually stepping on them or pulling
them out of my dogs’ mouth. There are so many shades of crayons these days its borderline
insanity.  Atomic tangerine, razzmatazz,
cerulean, laser lemon, dandelion, banana mania, tickle me pink, and tropical
rain forest were just a few I scanned at the top of the crayon box. It’s not
exactly red yellow blue green and brown anymore.

It reminds me of
people.

We have a lot of
colors don’t we? No, I’m not talking about race. I’m talking about personality.
No, not personality disorders, stay with me. I’m talking about faces. You know, the church face, the work face, the home face,
the shopping face. The face that
tolerates the tantrum from your child at the grocery store yet explodes at home
at the same attitude. The face that snaps at the spouse for a sarcastic comment
made at home yet holds the tongue in front of friends in public. The face that participates
in crude jokes at work but raises hands to Jesus during Sunday worship.

Does anyone besides
the God who sees our heart know the real us? Do we even know the real us? Just who are we when we lay our head on
the pillow at the end of the day and the show is over?

If I gave the Bible a
color I’d have to call it black. (And that has nothing to do with the average
leather binding on a Bible being black.) After all, there are no shades of
black, are there? In the same way the word of God is described many times as
being the chief source of truth. It
is not just a good idea, or a template for living, or a book of stories and
morals. The Bible is truth. We can’t
say that about anything else in the world. What else can we say is absolute?
God is absolute, and so is the word he breathed.

Have you ever thought
about degrees of truth? Ever told that “little white lie”? If it is not 100% truth then it is not truth at all! It would be like
putting a drop of poison in a liter of water and saying it is “mostly water”.
You still wouldn’t want to drink it because the rest of the water would be
tainted. When someone poses the question, “what is truth?” We have only one
answer to give, because there is only one certainty with no question and no
doubt, and that is the infallible word of God.

Do you find you
experience circumstances that are confusing and troublesome? You are lied to
and deceived, manipulated and left wondering what exactly is the truth? There
is but one source to go to for all facts, all certainty, all absolutes, and all
truth.

There are no shades
of black.

Prayer

Jesus, you are Truth! I love that
I can come to your word and never doubt that I will find absolute truth there.
Let me now rest on that promise alone!

Godly Friendships and the Bible

Godly Friendships and the Bible

 

What does the Bible say about Godly friendships? What does the Bible say about how we are to conduct ourselves once we have found ourselves in a Godly friendship? We can be certain that there are principles to be found in the Bible relating to this important message and how we can be sure our friendships are God-honoring, personally edifying to the glory of God, and sanctifying to both individuals.

First and most importantly we are told in Ecclesiastes 4:12 that a close Godly friendship is essential in our Christian walk. It is not really an option if we want to be successful and victorious in our Christian living.

“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back to back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple braided cord is not easily broken.” (NLT)

 

A Godly friend is necessary if we hope to stand firm against the Enemy’s attacks. Without that companionship we are made weaker. So, once we have found that Godly friend/s, how are we to act within that friendship? Will it always be perfect since all people involved are “Godly” and seeking Him first with their whole hearts? What happens in real life within the parameters of these friendships?

1-Face to Face Fellowship

“The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” Exodus 3:11 (NIV)

In this day and age this simple concept is quick to be overlooked. We text, we type, we email. Rarely do we meet face to face in real time fellowship with our friends. Can you imagine God texting Moses? Did you laugh? It sounds ludicrous doesn’t it? You might argue that this is the day and age we live in, and while there is truth in that statement, there is even greater truth in the words we read in Exodus. Friends see each other face to face. Let’s face it, when we can talk to each other and see each other’s facial expressions, hear each other’s tones, it lends itself to a lot less misinterpretation, misunderstanding, hurt feelings…etc. (Why didn’t she text me back? Why hasn’t she emailed me in 3 days? She hasn’t called me back, I know she must be mad, I better call so and so and talk about it!) Let’s commit to getting back to basics within our Godly friendships and just have some coffee (or tea or whatever!) and have some real fellowship, because that is how true Godly friendships are cultivated in a healthy way.

2-Influential

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)

It’s very clear from this simple verse that those we choose to keep company with will influence our attitudes. Whether that’s in a Godly way or in a worldly way depends on those we spend time with. Proverbs is full of wisdom written by the wisest man on the earth, and we would do well to listen to the advice given when choosing that Godly friend. If we have our radar set on someone, we should ask ourselves, is this person going to influence me towards the character of Christ? Will this person be “sharpening” me into the fruits of the Spirit or the lusts of the flesh?

3-Openly Honest and Always Sincere

“An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.” Proverbs 27:5-6 (NLT)

Sometimes even our best intentions are hurtful. The fact of the matter is this: even in the closest and Godliest of friendships, people are going to get hurt. This proverb tells us as much. It also tells us that this “friendly fire” is better than an enemy who merely pretends to be nice to your face while speaking blasphemies behind your back. I think we all know what it feels like to be betrayed in this way. You find out this person who you know and trusted has been gossiping about you, spreading hurtful rumors about you all the while pretending to be something totally different to your face. We are warned about this person, this person is double-minded, and not to be trusted. The friend who wounds us in their sincerity is much more desirable.  You can be reminded that even this wounding is a blessing! Your Godly friend is being honest and sincere as God has designed! Not that it makes the hurt any less painful…but we will deal with that.

4-Loves at All Times

“A friend loves at all times.” Proverbs 17:17

Here we have the first solution to our issue of hurts. Love. It doesn’t say “A friend loves when it feels good”, or “A friend loves until he is hurt”, it states very clearly “all times”.  Love is an action, and it is a choice. Love is not a feeling in the context of this verse. There comes a point when the hurts are going to be so deep, perhaps the pain so intense that love will not come easily, and it may not seem possible. The most logical choice may seem to move on and be done with the whole mess. It is at this moment we are faced with a crucial choice-will we love at any cost? This is the Godly friend that you want in your life! This love has no strings attached, it is unconditional, and is not related to circumstances. It is the love that Jesus has for us, and the love He tells us to have for each other.

5-Forgives First

“This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.” Matthew 5:23-24 (The Message)

Loving through hurts must involve forgiveness. This passage could not possibly be interpreted any other way then to forgive first before bringing your worship to God. God is not interested in your lip service when you have outstanding debts of bitterness against your friends. Settle all accounts before offering your praises to God! He sees our hearts, knows our thoughts, whether or not we like it! There is no way around this one. If we are hurt by the actions or words of another, we need to speak up and be honest and sincere always of how we feel, in love. Our feelings are valid, and our friend’s feelings are valid. We need to be heard, and they need to be heard, and we need good communication in order to have Godly friendships that glorify and edify each other towards love and good works! When we fail to communicate in a timely manner we allow the hurt to fester as we turn it over in our minds, often making things bigger than they are, and further misinterpreting the situation, so by the time we do talk about it, emotions are really running high. It makes things that much harder to be made right. These are the times we are tempted by our Enemy to “end” relationships. We are whispered lies that we must give up on this friendship, that it wasn’t what we thought, it wasn’t the right person, we were wrong, we failed again, we messed up again, we better just start over with someone who agrees with us on everything we believe in or hold to so as to avoid any problems. That is when we need to hold fast to the TRUTH of God’s Word, and what He says about Godly friendships. If we have already determined that the friendship we are in is an “iron sharpening iron” friend for Godly character then we must go back to our principles laid out under such a friendship. Am I loving, am I being honest, am I forgiving. Have I laid aside all my offerings to run to this person and make things right? Have I done all I can do to bring restoration, or am I insisting on being right and is that getting in the way of peace? I think the most important question here even than all of that is: am I honoring God in my decision to end this, or would He want me to obey His own command in Matthew 5:23-24? That seems rather clear. (There are SOME exceptions where relationships do need to end because of excessive sinful lifestyles or rebellion…etc, but for the sake of our discussion, I am not referring to those specific incidences.)

6-Sacrifices

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 (NIV)

Jesus as our Friend made the ultimate sacrifice for our sin, the price we could never pay. He gave His life, so we could have eternal life with Him. With this He modeled His idea of the Godly friendship for us. The true Godly friend is one who sacrifices without question. I’m not just talking about the sacrifice of taking a bullet for your friend in some “what if” scenario that will likely never occur. I am talking about the much smaller things, but perhaps more difficult. The sacrifices of time: the middle of the night phone calls, the house calls, the food delivered when sick, the trips to the hospitals, the sleepless nights, the hours of Bible study when your friend has a crisis and needs an answer, calloused knees from hours of earnest prayer….on and on it goes. These are the sacrifices of life that the true Godly friend gives without a blink of an eye. This person is selfless, and giving, and authentic. This is the person you want as your Godly friend, helping you on your journey of sanctification. If you have this person in your life, thank them, and pray for them! Because you have an Enemy who wants to destroy the beautiful relationship that God has joined together. Satan knows you are stronger together, and it scares him!

Remember to keep up the face to face contact with your dear friend to avoid that confusion and misinterpretation of email and text that may occur, especially in the early stages of a growing relationship. Ask God to help you have the Christ-like influence on your friend that you desire them to have on you, and commit to always being openly honest and sincere no matter how difficult that may be. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in speaking the truth in love at all times. Face to face is best! Throughout everything, choose to love and forgive quickly. As you reflect on building your own character, ask God to help you continue to become the sacrificial friend that He modeled for us in His Word. Putting the needs of our friend first, and truly esteeming each other better than ourselves. In this way we can cultivate our Godly friendship deeper and draw closer to our Creator in unity.

A Godly You+ Your Godly Friend+God Himself=A Triple Braided Cord Not Easily Broken!