Bold Confidence

Faith

The book of Nahum is not a popular Old Testament book and the author is not one of the Major Prophets because the book is very short in length—only three (3) chapters. However, there is a powerful message that can build our confidence in the character and power of God. Nahum predicts and describes Nineveh’s fall. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, the most powerful empire during ancient times. The Assyrians were cruel and ruthless enemies of God’s people. But Nahum said:

“The Lord is slow to get angry, but his power is great, and he never lets the guilty go unpunished. He displays his power in the whirlwind and the storm. The billowing clouds are the dust beneath his feet.” -Nahum 1:3

Few people can stare into the face of such raw power as that of the Assyrian empire and come away unimpressed. Nahum did so only because he had seen a far greater power—the power of a God whose wrath could shatter rocks. If God was angry, how could Nineveh stand? Nahum’s absolute confidence in God is underlined throughout his book. Nahum sounds intimidating, almost lordly. He spoke with confidence because he knew God’s character.

Continue reading….

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Trusting His Heart

By Michael Brick and John L. Mone   of Associated Press

By Michael Brick and John L. Mone of Associated Press

There is so much devastation and destruction going on in the world today—bombings, explosions, tornadoes, murder, violent acts against each other—all kinds of criminal activity. If you’re honest, like me, you have probably said, “I don’t understand why God allows these terrible things to happen.” 

I’m not writing this in an attempt to defend God; no one can come to His defense, nor does He need anyone to defend Him. Trying to defend God would be absolutely ridiculous!

I am mainly writing to help myself and encourage you to learn to trust God completely when it comes to dealing with life’s challenging difficulties that we cannot understand.

Like Apostle Paul, here’s what I have concluded:

“Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!” (Romans 11:33 NLT).  

Tornado damaged home in Moore, Oklahoma (WQAD Photo)

Tornado damaged home in Moore, Oklahoma (WQAD Photo)

Truth is, God hasn’t told us everything. He reveals only what He wants us to know on an “as needed basis” and we have to trust Him for the unknown. 

Our finite minds and limitations keep us from fully grasping some things that happen in our personal lives and in the world.  If God told us everything, we’d have no reason to trust His sovereignty and His faithfulness to carry us through our darkest days of grief and sorrow.

I admit, I have a tendency to be totally independent and do things my way rather than God’s way.  To be honest, most of the time, I don’t like God’s way of doing things. That is because I can’t see the “big picture”—the end from the beginning, as He does. From life’s experiences, I’m learning to rely totally on Him as my Source,  my Strength and the Lifter of my head. Above all, His grace is sufficient for me.

The greater the calamities in life the better I can understand to some degree Job’s ordeal.  The end of Job’s story gives me consolation and hope that just as God restored Job’s losses, He is able and willing to do the same for us who believe.

I have learned this:  As painful as the challenging events in life may be, I must trust God’s heart.  Babbie Mason’s song, “Trust His Heart” says it best:

God is too wise to be mistaken

God is too good to be unkind

 So when you don’t understand

When you don’t see his plan

When you can’t trace his hand, trust his heart.”

With God’s comfort and peace this song got me through the toughest experience in my life—the sudden tragic death of my 9-year old grandson.

May I encourage you to join me in trusting God’s Heart?

Gains and Losses

SOON TO BE RELEASED!

I’ve learned it’s so easy to focus more on our losses in the past that we lose sight of any spiritual gain in the future.I firmly believe that gains and losses are a necessary part of life.  I also believe that when professing and practicing Christians lose, God has a plan and way of restoring or replacing what we’ve lost with something better and more valuable.  Usually, it requires an attitude adjustment on our part before we can attempt to make sense out of what we’ve experienced in terms of loss. 

Additionally, if we don’t assess the gains as being more valuable than what we lost, from God’s perspective, we may never realize this truth; and we certainly won’t appreciate the goodness and sovereignty of God. Why? Because we’re too focused on our loss; we are crying hopelessly and looking backward rather than forward to the possibilities of having better and being greater in God.
Also, I am persuaded to believe the greater concern we have is with a carnal analysis of what we define as gains in comparison to what we consider loss.  Unfortunately, our analyses are calculated from a worldly system of operation and thought based on past personal experiences and present unpleasant circumstances.  If we itemize our losses and gains from a worldly system rather than a Kingdom view, we can be easily deceived into believing God is not trustworthy, and is out to destroy us. (That’s a lie from the father of lies!).   Consequently, we itemize our gains and losses from a faulty and unstable system rather than align with God’s way of operation.  No, it doesn’t mean our losses are unimportant nor have no value to God. However, it does means that God sees beyond the here and now.  Remember, God’s thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9).  So often what is valuable to us, based on our limited knowledge and understanding, has no real value in the Kingdom, and is useless when it comes to fulfilling God’s purposes.

For example, Apostle Paul came to a point in his life when he made an analysis of his gains and losses. He itemized using the same value system as God.  Paraphrasing, he said in Philippians 3:7-11, what were his assets (gains) he wrote them off as a loss.  Why? Because what was most valuable to him was gaining Christ… having Christ…knowing Christ, the power of His resurrection, and the participation in his sufferings.  Sufferings! Are you serious? No one wants to suffer, right?  Obviously, Paul viewed all the suffering he endured for the sake of Christ as gain! That was Paul’s mindset.   What about you and me? What are we willing to lose so that we might gain for Christ’s sake?

Sadly, too many Christians fall apart and panic when they experience loss of materials items. No one should deny the truth that it hurts to lose stuff… even loved ones. I know the pain of separation!  It hurts to lose anything you consider as valuable; especially life. But what can be gained? A more constant and consistent prayer life, deeper trust and dependency on Christ to sustain,  increased faith that looks to God for provisions, better stewardship practices,  a greater witness to the faithfulness and peace of God during life’s storm, greater commitment to the work of ministry and helping others in need.  God gives you so much more in place of what you lost when you trust Him as your Source.  

Beloved reader, remember it’s so easy to focus more on our losses in the past that we lose sight of any spiritual gain in the future. Also, like Apostle Paul, we haven’t been perfected yet, but let’s press forward and grab hold of what God desires for us.  Let’s press in to get to that place where God is calling us to reach in Christ Jesus. Let’s not focus on our past losses, and what we’ve left behind so much that we miss what God wants to do  in our lives now, and what He has destined for your future. 

Moving forward on the path to promise,

Book! Soon to be released!

Power: How important is it, after the storm, Part 2

Photo By SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

After the storm, I pray that all will have hope and grab hold of the visible and colorful reminder that God keeps His promise.  Like many of you, I watched the news and read about the destruction and devastation caused by Super storm Sandy throughout the eastern coast, which impacted some twenty-three states.  Sandy has been classified as an unprecedented storm by those who have covered storms in the past and weather related news for many years.

As I watched and prayed, I was saddened because many will write it off as “Mother Nature” doing her thing…it’s just something that happens.   I am certainly thankful for man’s giftedness to provide a scientific explanation of how storms are formed, to track them, and give warning to prepare and evacuate, if necessary. However, I believe preparation should go beyond the physical.  When the warning to prepare is given, it’s the perfect time to prepare spiritually— where are you in your relationship with God? Pray. Repent. Ask for forgiveness. Do you even believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? What if there’s a real heaven and hell, where do you want to spend eternity if you die in the storm? Are you ready to go, if you must? Ask God to save you, rescue your life to fulfill your life purpose if you know your heart is wicked and evil. This is the essence of spiritual preparation.

While systems are in place to track and trace a storm, no man can stop it! No one can change the course of its winds powerful enough to uproot huge trees, or stop the fifty-foot waves and floodwaters from breaking through dams and levees.  Storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes should help us put life and power in perspective.  Only God can speak to the winds and waves and they obey His voice. Psalm 107:29, “He calms the storm, so that its waves are still.” Mark 4:35-41, records this unprecedented power that Jesus demonstrated, which gripped the attention of the disciples.

Knowing this is reason enough to give greater consideration to how important is man’s power and authority in comparison to God as being all-powerful and all-knowing.  It’s something about being vulnerable or in a life or death situation that raises our awareness to what matters most.  Usually it is in times of disaster and tragedies that we personally and as a nation realize pain is not prejudice, and death does not discriminate.

Consequently, my prayer is always that people ponder and give deeper thought to the spiritual implications or supernatural aspect of storms that sends a message about power and authority. A storm reminds us of our human frailty, our vulnerability, and speaks to the power and authority that’s totally out of man’s control.   Storms should get our attention. They should make us to search within, change our actions and attitudes, look at life differently—its sacredness. After the storm, we should seize the opportunity to regroup and reevaluate our priorities.  Those greatly impacted by a storm should forever look at life differently; it should never be taken for granted, if you survived the storm or even if you lost loved ones in the storm.

Kurt Wilberding, a fashion and street photographer, snapped this Instagram photo in lower Manhattan, after Superstorm Sandy made its way through New York City.

The destruction and devastation our fellow Americans are experiencing as a result of Sandy should remind us all of what matters most—love for one another, promote justice for all, and to walk humbly with our God.

Once again, disaster reminds us that division is the greatest downfall of a nation that “supposedly” believes in democracy.  But,, even after the storm, there is hope.  The LORD God always keeps His promise amid the destruction, devastation and sorrow for the lives lost.  After the storm, I pray that all will make the decision to have hope and grab hold of the visible and colorful reminder that God keeps His promise. You are not alone.

Praying for peace after the storm,

Power: How important is it?

How important is power to you?  How are you keeping it in perspective? These are questions that candidates should be asked, especially during an election year for the highest office in the land. Not only should the presidential candidates be asked, but we should ask ourselves. Perspectives on positions of power and authority are critical to the influential outcome of a nation, government entity, organization, home and family environment, as well as the personal leadership role in any sphere of influence.

I’m a witness that power can go to an individual’s head, especially if they’ve never held an official or professional position of power. I say, “official” position because we all have personal power—influence—over others in our circle of friends or acquaintances. Continue reading

Spiritual Leverage

Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, “Remember, LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.  —2 Kings 20:2

Reading this passage of scripture encourages me to be committed in my relationship with God. It inspires me to be consistent and persistent in my prayer life. Not only does it remind me of the power of prayer, but the credibility that my obedience to the Lord has when I petition him in prayer.

When God sent word telling Hezekiah to prepare to die, he chose to cry out to God for life.  For so long we have been taught that if God says, “It’s your time to die,” you get everything in order, and wait until you gasp for your last breath.  Not so with Hezekiah! Instead he chose to reject his confrontation with death.  He positioned himself for prayer. He made a decision to turn his back to what he was facing—death.  By turning his face toward the wall he would not be distracted by what he was facing but would look toward the place that represented stability, safety, and protection.   From that position he fervently petitioned God. 

No doubt you have received painstaking news, faced challenges with sickness and disease, felt gut-wrenching pain, and out of desperation and anguish you wept bitterly before God pleading for His mercy.  Scripture does not imply that Hezekiah asked for mercy.  Usually, when we pray for healing we appeal to God’s mercy.  However, Hezekiah sought God on the basis of covenant relationship. He asked God to remember how he had lived before Him—faithful—as a man wholeheartedly devoted to pleasing God.  Wow!!  How many of us can ask God to examine our lifestyle, and based on His findings extend the length of days—heal us.   Hezekiah seized the moment to hold his life up before God.  He had spiritual leverage and used it to petition God.  Amazingly, God responded favorably. Hezekiah’s prayer changed things!  Beloved, I believe this truth for us even now—prayer changes things.  God hears the prayer of His people.

 The bible says, “And it happened, before Isaiah reached the middle court that the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you.” God heard Hezekiah’s prayer, and saw his tears, and promised to heal him.  Actually, God healed him and added fifteen years to Hezekiah’s life.

Reading this passage of scripture has inspired me to remain committed in my relationship with the LORD.  Living in obedience to His word, walking in truth with a loyal heart devoted to the things of God gives me spiritual leverage to petition God for healing and help in times of adversity, and hopeless situations.

Got spiritual leverage to petition God?

©Queen E. Phillips.  All rights reserved. Permission granted for nonprofit use only by the copyright owner.

9/11: Lest we forget…

Photography by: Pool, Getty Images

Lest we forget that day that we mourned together as a nation, we may never learn to celebrate together as a nation.

So every year on September 11th, we are reminded that pain is not prejudice and sorrow does not segregate on basis of national origin, color of skin, ethnicity, religious beliefs, or gender.  If that day we mourned together as a nation has taught us anything, it should be that we are all human beings, frail at our best; that life is sacred, and we can be here today and gone within an hour.

And lest we forget, we must be reminded that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

It is my prayer that we as Americans will rise above petty differences, and pessimistic perceptions; put an end to polarizing political views, and outlandish promises to get elected; stop racial ratifications, and repent of immoral and illicit behaviors; seek God’s forgiveness, and accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and live in peace and love with one another as brothers and sisters.

Photograph by: Spencer Platt, GETTY IMAGES

I pray for those who suffered such great loss on that day eleven years ago.  I pray that they are healed and restored, and they are able celebrate the life of their loved one and friends each year with happy memories that will give comfort and peace.

May God continue to bless America, and shed His Grace on her.