Can't Stop God

Have you ever tried to do something for God in your own strength? If you have, I’m sure you’ve noticed that there is an incredible difference between working in your own “flesh” and working in step with the Spirit. When working in step with the Spirit should come the faith and knowledge of knowing that when you are in line with what God is doing, nothing on earth can stop it. In Acts when Peter and the apostles were doing the work of the Lord, they were brought before the Sanhedrin and told to stop. When they refused, the teachers of the law began discussing what they would do with them. Then in chapter 5 verses 38 and 39 a Pharisee named Gamaliel, said in part:

"Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origins, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God."

You see, when God has a plan, no one can stop it. Even this Pharisee recognized that. I believe that God can bless anything that is done in his name - even things that we do in our own flesh. But when we are working in step with the Spirit, when we follow his lead and our hearts are in tuned with his as it was with the apostles, then the work can’t be stopped. So I encourage you, if you are doing work for the Lord, try to remain in step with him. If you do, nothing can stop his plan. If we work in our own flesh, we are striving without the power of the Holy Spirit. And if we work this way, our weak efforts will lack the anointing of God and can end in defeat.

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I challenge you to consider if your efforts for God are of human effort or if they are of the Spirit. Even the Pharisee realized that if it is of the Spirit, if it is from God, nothing can stop it. Why would we want to do anything without the aid of the Spirit anyway? When we do, it always lacks the power and anointing that it could have if we were in step with the Spirit. But when we are in step, no one and nothing can stop it because if anyone tries, they will only end up fighting against God.

Seek and Save

If you are a believer, you’ve probably pondered the amazing truth of how Jesus saved you by sacrificing himself. It is an incredibly humbling truth, especially when we think about how undeserving we are to have the perfect, faultless son of the almighty God take on our sin and punishment so that we may have eternal life in heaven. It boggles the mind, but that is just what he did. But before he could save you he first had to find you. Luke chapter 19 verse 10 says:

"For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost."

Every human being is born lost in their sin. It isn’t something we necessarily chose, it is in our nature - a nature that had been altered and redefined when Adam and Eve sinned in the beginning. No need to lament about it, it’s just the way it is. But God sent his son. And in Luke we’re told that he came to seek and save what was lost. I encourage you to give that verse your full attention. Jesus came to seek you out. He knew you were lost in your sin and that the only way out was for him to save you. That was his mission. You, me and everyone who has ever lived and will ever live was his mission. I hope that makes you feel a bit more loved and a bit more important today.

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“For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.” You as well as everyone else from the beginning of time to the end of time was Jesus’ mission. But God also chose to give us free will. You have the freedom to choose Jesus and accept his sacrifice for you which would give you the privilege to live in Heaven for all eternity, or you have the freedom to reject him - to allow the penalty of sin to remain on you for all eternity. And the penalty of sin is death - eternal death in hell. I encourage you, if you haven’t already, to accept what Jesus did for us. It was his mission to seek and save what was lost. Are you lost? Jesus wants to find you today, to save you, and to write your name in the book of life.

Turn to God

Have you ever done something really bad? Or at least you perceive it to be so bad that you are ashamed to tell anyone about it, and it weighs heavy on you like a yoke around your neck that you can’t remove? There are some feelings of despair and shame that only God can remove. But the first step is to come clean with Him. Acts reminds us that only then will we find the refreshing that only the Lord can provide. In chapter 3 verse 19 it says:

"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord."

God has the power to give us a peace that passes all understanding. And no matter what you’ve done, or how ashamed you are, God can forgive you of your sin. Acts tells us that when you repent and turn to God, that he can wipe out your sins. But it also goes so far as to say that he will give you times of refreshing that can only come from the Lord. If you have something weighing heavy on your heart, the only way to truly remove it is to come to God. Repent, turn to God, humble yourself before him and let him wipe out your sin and refresh your soul.

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“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” The older I get the more I’m amazed at what evil humanity is capable of. But in spite of all that, God has the power to forgive any sin, any wrong - even if we’re unable to forgive ourselves. So, I encourage you, if you’ve done something wrong, no matter how bad you think it is, heed the words of Acts. Repent, turn from your sins and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out and that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.

Build Others

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me”. Well, you don’t have to have lived many years in this world to know how utterly false that statement is. Our words matter. And sometimes they can hurt worse than sticks and stones because our words can be powerful. You may have heard another saying that is absolutely true - with great power comes great responsibility. As believers, we have a responsibility to use our words to build up, not to tear down. Paul says in Ephesians 4 verse 29: 

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

The book of James has a lot to say about the tongue. He says it is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body - that no human can tame the tongue. But Paul encourage us to make an effort. We need to watch what we say, and how we say it. Unwholesome talk is unbecoming a Christian, but words of encouragement, words that build others up are the type of words that Jesus would speak. So, I encourage you to be careful what you say. If you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything. Being slow to speak is a virtue that can certainly help you in your efforts to speak words that build up, instead of speaking words that you’ll regret saying later.

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“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” I encourage you to heed these words. Don’t use your words as a weapon. And don’t be in a rush to speak, but consider your words carefully. I know it’s not always easy to do, especially if we’re not in tune with the Spirit. But if we are, He can help us speak words that are helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Lukewarm

Have you ever read the book of Revelation? It can be scary, controversial and honestly, a bit confusing. But there are some things from that book that are perfectly clear. Early on, John records Jesus’ words to the seven churches. In many of these letters, he encourages, reprimands and warns against the actions of these churches. By reading these letters, we can know God’s heart when it comes to certain thoughts and behaviors of those who call themselves believers. One that always sticks out to me is what He says in chapter 3 verses 15-16 in his letter to the church in Laodicea which says:

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth."

I was reminded recently that when something is lukewarm, its original purpose was for it to be hot. So, don’t let this portion of scripture confuse you. God most certainly wants us to be hot for him, not cold. But this shows just how much God hates the state of being lukewarm when it comes to our thoughts, dedication, deeds and affection towards him. He would rather that we’d never known him or that we were opposed to him than we be lukewarm. I encourage you not to let your fire for God cool to the point of being apathetic toward him. Heed this warning, and keep your fire blazing for him.

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“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” It isn’t difficult for us to let our spiritual fervor cool for the Lord, but it is a serious mistake if we do. God sends a warning to us through the church of Laodicea that this is the absolute worst place we can find ourselves in. It is so bad that he’d prefer that we’d be cold - or totally against him than to be lukewarm. So, I encourage you to remain hot for the Lord. Do everything you can to keep your thoughts, love and affection on him. It is my goal, and I hope it is yours to, to be not only hot, but boiling hot - scalding hot, for him. Because that’s where he wants us.