Thursday, November 06, 2008

Building your boat in a storm

The new year is fast approaching. As humans we know that we don’t know what the future holds. But as Bible-believing Christians we know that

God has planned good things for us,
that we have sowed good seed which, through the watering of praise, will bring future fruit
that God has made us more than conquerors and we will triumph in whatever comes to us.

I’m forty-seven years old now and as I grow older I discover that each year brings sorrow and the possibility of triumph. I say “possibility” because very often we do not triumph over the emotional, financial, spiritual and physical sorrows in our lives. It is not God’s fault that we fail. God loves us. But as a good soldier must learn how to triumph, Christians must also learn how to triumph.

There’s an old saying: It’s hard to build your boat in a storm. This is a good saying, and as Paul would say, it’s worthy of all acceptation.

The Lord Jesus told us that we must build our house upon rock and not upon sand because the storms of life will come.

But many Christians either don’t know how to build their house or don’t build it at all. When the rains come and the harsh winds blow, they find themselves at a loss. They lose financially, spiritually, psychologically. Some even lose their faith.

As the new year comes, let us determine in our hearts to build our boats now. Let us study to make sure that we are indeed building our houses upon rock. Those of us who are mothers must also teach our children how to build their own houses.

I am no expert in boat-building. I’m only just learning – and yes, I had to learn to build my boat in a storm, but I’d like to share with you a few things I’ve learned in this building process.

ALL WORDS SHOULD BE JUDGED AND DISCERNMENT IS A NECESSITY.
We should learn to judge everything by the word of God. This means that when doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc tell us how the way the world works, we must have so trained ourselves to understand God’s word that we trust God’s promises explicitly. If they hear that they have cancer, or are incapable of succeeding in some enterprise, many Christians trust the professionals more than they trust God’s word. It’s a hard thing to learn to trust God’s word when one is in dire straits. One has to learn how to build one’s entire life around it before the storms come. This means that when one hears any bit of “truth” from some television personality or from one’s doctor or from one’s son’s negative teacher, that one must learn how to counteract it with the word of God. For instance, the Bible tells us that “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” If we believe this, we will eat properly but we won’t become paranoid slaves to healthy eating gurus. As Christians, we are called to prove God’s love and power in this world. Christ has made us more than conquerors.

THERE IS POWER IN THE TONGUE
The writers in the Bible tell us many things about the tongue. In order to build our boat before the storm hits, we must learn that the tongue is indeed the rudder of our live and that death and life are in the power of the tongue. We must learn to control our tongues and to speak only blessings over our lives. We must pray in the spirit, and sing praises even when we think there is nothing to sing praises about.


WHEN WE PRAY, WE MUST BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE RECEIVED WHAT WE HAVE PRAYED FOR BEFORE WE RECEIVE IT.
This is a truth taught by Jesus. We walk by faith, not by sight. Our weapons are not carnal but are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. When we praise we must believe that something is happening in spite of what we see. God is spirit and we must learn to “see” the kingdom of God. Most of us have been taught by the world that when we pray, we should look for the manifestation of the answer to the prayer. If someone lays hand on us for the healing of a bad back, we often walk away checking to see if we have any pain in our back. But this is not the way we have been taught by Jesus. Jesus taught us that God works through seedtime and harvest. In answer to our prayer, God gives spiritual power, God gives seed. God’s promises are seeds. That’s God’s part. Our part is to continue in prayer with thanksgiving, believing that God has answered our prayers even if we don’t see the answer. After we water the word by our praises, we bring forth fruit. First the blade, then the full stalk, then the flowers. When faced with a bad situation, we must learn to stop seeing the pathological truth and to see the Biblical truth. We must call those things that are not as though they are, and we must “rest” in the knowledge that God’s word is working in our lives.

WE MUST LEARN TO CONTROL WHAT WE HEAR AND SEE.

Jesus told us to take heed what we hear. James told us we must not be doubleminded. This means that as Christians we must understand the spirit realm in which God exists and to trust that the spirit realm is more powerful, and more real than the earthly, material things we see. This doesn’t mean that the material world isn’t real. It does mean, however, that God’s word and God’s promises are our armor. To become pure in heart we must learn not to be doubleminded. This means that we must understand that spiritual warfare is usually about not feeding our unbelief. When we listen to human reasoning, we must discern what it is we are hearing. This means that no matter how entertaining a television show is, we must learn to challenge the world’s liesif something spiritually untrue is being said. For instance, it’s fine to watch a time travel movie. That’s just entertainment. But if you’re watching a movie where someone casually says that God doesn’t answer prayer or some such untruth, then it would be best to click to another channel.


TRUST GOD WITH NOT ONLY THE MOST POSSIBLE THING BUT ALSO WITH THE MOST IMPOSSIBLE, AND THE MOST UNIMPORTANT

The Bible says we must cast all our care upon God because He cares for us. This means we must make it a habit to speak to God about everything in our lives. Our joys, our sorrows, our decisions, everything. By doing this, we learn to love God at all times and we learn to see how He really does love us. We learn how to hear from him for ourselves, and we get to understand His personality and character. In short, we become God’s friend and we understand this friend who sticks closer than a brother. We get to know what God is like by what He does in our life and also by what He does in the Bible. We will not be confused by what other people say about our Divine Friend.


LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR

The Bible tells us many truths about friendships. Jesus spoke often on the need to forgive. He also told us to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. The Proverbs tell us what kind of friends to have. Love is the most excellent way to grow in spiritual matters. It is often hard to love people because people can be cruel, judgmental, and plain unloving but Jesus said, “when you stand praying, forgive.” Forgiveness, faith, and meditating on the word of God are the most important ways to getting one’s prayer answered. As Christians, we must pray for the needs of others. We must truly love those around us. This doesn’t mean a small little prayer casually tossed off before bedtime; this means... striving to pray for others in the same way we pray for ourselves. In addition, we must not harm anyone.


LEARN TO STAND ALONE
Every Christian needs a backbone. It’s good to be part of a group but we must also learn to stand alone. We will be in situations where people will insult Jesus or the Bible and we must gently defend Him. If we deny Jesus on earth, He will deny us in heaven.


GET WISDOM AND WITH ALL YOUR GETTING, GET UNDERSTANDING.
The Bible tells us to meditate on God’s word. This is not so hard to do, really. Often people think that it will take a big slice out of their day to meditate on God’s word. Meditation is nothing more than pondering. We’re always pondering negative things. We see someone on television talking about cancer, diabetes, avian flu, and we spend the rest of our year fearing and worrying. But just as we meditate on the latest disease scare, we can meditate on what God wants us to meditate on. When we hear fearful talk, we must pick up the Bible, look at a psalm – psalm 91 for instance– and decide that for the rest of the week we will think about that psalm. We can also meditate by listening to sermons or the Bible on tape before we go to bed. Our spiritual growth depends on church but we must also do our part during the week. There are sermons available for download all over the internet. Local ministers also tape their sermons. Your friends have tapes they bought at Christian conferences. Study. Read up on healing, miracles, heaven, evangelism. Study missionary stories. Read testimonies.


DO WHAT JESUS TOLD US TO DO, YET AT THE SAME TIME LISTEN TO THE HOLY SPIRIT.
This is a tough one. We rarely walk in the spirit, but we must learn to do so. This means that we should listen to Jesus’s commands about what to do to heal the sick, love God, etc. And we must also study everything Jesus did. Meditate on his actions and see why He did them. This does not mean slavishly following Jesus without comprehending the reason for His actions. Why did Jesus choose to heal one man in one way and another man in another way? Because Jesus was listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Imagine being buffeted and tossed by the winds and waves of life on some ricketty old unfinished dinghy. Preparedness is a valuable virtue. Who wouldn’t want to have a sleek stalwart vessel when the storms of life hit?

Let us be wise and build our house on a solid foundation.
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