Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Encouragement: Overconfidence Or Self-Assurance?

Overconfidence is usually viewed as a negative personality trait. The youthful boasting that Joseph displayed with his brothers was no exception to the rule. His claims that the others would someday bow down to him, coupled with his father's favoritism, led to jealousy and borken family relationships. In the end, his brothers sold him into slavery, cutting him off from his family altogether.

All the suffering Joseph had to go through was due to his dream! How quickly we want to share our dreams with others!? We have to be careful and wise in revealing God-given secrets to others who may not share in our joy or welfare. Often people can become jealous and may create unnecessary hindrances to realizing out goals. Samson is another sad example of the one who revealed his secrets and lost everything in life. Secrets must be kept secret. It may not be appropriate to share them even with close friends, etc.

Throgh years of difficulties and suffering, Jospeh's overconfidence was developed by God into a mature self-assurance.In times of personal struggle, this self-assurance, based on his on his personal knowledge of God, enabled Joseph to ask, "what shall I do now?" instead of "why me, God?"

Joseph's self -assurance made him capable of tackling and succeeding at jobs that most other people would have run away from. His high personal integrity , resulting from his relationship with God and refined throughout his life, took him from the bottom of the social ladder to the top. Because of this, Joseph was in a position to save the young nation of Israel during a time of terrible famine.

Overconfidence without God's perspective will invariably lead us down the pathway to other personal problems and mistakes. On the other hand, self-assurance based on a strong faith in God will enable us to overcome the obstacles we face in life.

Principles to remember:
Our responses to the circumstances we face are more important than the circumstances themselves.
God can mould our weaknesses into strengths.
God can cause good to come out of the evil intentions of others.

So persevere in spite of various trials and testings in life, to realize your dream and vision. The best is yet to come! Never give up because others don't appreciate or approve of your goals. Don't be discouraged when you face opposition from others while pressing towards your God-given goals and plans. Remember what God shows and begins in your life, He will bring it to pass and ultimately you will win.

Be Encouraged,

A.Othniel
(www.aothniel.net)

><> Letter # 39 (6. 12. 2009) <><

Encouragement: The Stress of Not Knowing

The National Institute of Mental Health (USA) once conducted an experiment to determine the impact of the truth upon human stress levels. Four groups of soldiers were assigned the same fast-paced march. When the march was over, each soldier's blood was tested for the level of stress hormones. The only variable was how much truth each group was told about the march.

Group I was told the whole truth about the march before it started. Group 2 was told the march would be 14 kilometers long, but then were surprised when 6 more kilometers were added. Group 3 received changing information throughout the march. Group 4 was given no information at all.

Guess who had the lowest stress level at the end of the march? Group I. And why? Because, as the head of the experiment concluded, "Hope, kept alive by knowing the truth, slows down the production of harmful hormones created by mental stress."

Man's greatest stress comes from not knowing the truth about what's going to happen, as life is so transient and uncertain. Especially, man does not know for sure what happens after death and where he goes. And this can be a real source of anxiety and stress for many.

Since we do not know what happens tomorrow (Proverbs 27:1; James 4:14), we become so concerned that many become depressed and lose the joy of living happily today! However, we can be sure of something good happening because our lives are in the hands of the Almighty God, our heavenly Father. He always gives and does what is good for us, even better than our earthly fathers! (Luke 11:13).

Many are anxious and worried about meeting the day to day basic needs. But we are given definite promise about these that our heavenly Father knows our needs and has made better provision to mankind than other living beings on the earth. We only need to make sure that our focus is on Him and we seek to live righteous lives (Matthew 6:30-33).

We can also be sure that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His plan (Romans 8:28). This is such a powerful and reassuring promise. We only need to make sure that we love God and do what is pleasing to Him and seek His plans always. Rest He will see that all things somehow work together to bring good to us, even if it appears not good to us.

None of us has to suffer the stress of not knowing where we're going after death. The Bible tells the whole truth about the end of this march called life. Those who made sure that they are saved and received eternal life by faith in the Lord Jesus will know for certain that they are headed to their eternal home with the Father. This was what the Lord promised in John 14:2-3. He is preparing a place for all who follow Him in this world.

And many in this world who live in sin and follow Satan and die without any hope of eternal life are condemned already to end up in the lake of fire prepared for Satan and his devils. But many are not knowing these truths and so they live in perpetual despair and agony. You can know for sure without any shadow of doubt where you'll go and what will be your destiny. That will in turn decide how you'll live in this present world. You can be free from stress if you know that you had made a wise choice- today!

"Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27.

Be Encouraged,

A.Othniel
(www.aothniel.net)

><> Letter # 38 (29. 11. 2009) <><

Encouragement: If Not the Cs, What then are the Keys to Joy?

What brings joy? In South Africa, I have seen that people are crazy about 2 or 3 'Cs'- (Bollywood) Cinema, (IPL) Cricket and (imported) Cars! In India and other countries people's top interestes are the 5 Cs! Can cash, credit card, condominium, country club membership or car make you happy? If joy be abiding and happiness momentary, then the above can at best bring happiness but not joy. Where then can the elusive joy be found?

* Joy and fruitful labor: As a student, there is the satisfaction of being able to solve a tough question. As a working adult, there is the pleasure of meeting a deadline or completing a project after working on it for months. The wages obtained from honest labor is sweet indeed.

The Bible tells us that blessings and prosperity will be yours when you eat from the fruit of your labor. (Psalms 128: 2). From the very start, work is a gift from God. (Gen. 1: 28). We derive satisfaction from the end product of our creativity be it assembling a computer, writing a new program or cooking a new dish. Sin makes work hard not ad. (Gen.3: 17). The satisfaction and pleasure gained from work is joy.

* Joy and wonder:Young parents can testify to the ceaseless inquisitiveness of their toddlers. Questions about the world abound. Their sense of wonder is palpable. And in their presence one can learn joy.

The well-known writer and philosophical speaker Ravi Zacharias said that as we grow older, it takes more to preserve the same amount of wonder. He added that only the infinite God can be the source of continual wonder. Hear the amazement of the psalmist when he says, The heavens declare the glory of God and the skies proclaim the works of His hand. (Ps. 19: 1) Joy and wonder are intertwined. When I lose my sense of wonder, I lose my joy.

* Joy and hope: Uncertainty causes worry and insecurity. That unsettles us. In the midst of retrenchment, sickness and death, can there be joy? No one can promise me that tomorrow I will find a job, my health will improve, my spouse will come back.

Against the backdrop of fear and pain, I hear the words of Jesus, Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. (Jn 14:27, Heb. 13:5). Beyond the veil of suffering, God alone is the source of hope. When the cries of agony and melancholy resound, joy is the settled peace and assured hope that the sovereign God is still in control. His throne is intact. The scepter remains in His hand. The curtain is torn. With compassion and love, God beckons His child to enter with joy.

* Joy and relationships: Joy flourishes at the meeting of hearts. Observe the camaraderie of a group of friends whose ties are strengthened by the years of being together through school and the army. The spontaneity and laughter is priceless. Note the quiet affection between couples married for a long time. Relationships are fragile entities. In relationships when love, trust and acceptance are given and reciprocated, one finds joy.

However this joy is a foretaste. To paraphrase CS Lewis, " Our earthly loves are but a pale reflection of heaven where our ability to love and be loved will be perfected in Christ." There, my friend, is the ultimate joy.

Joy can be found in fruitful labor, wonder, hope and relationships, the source of which can all be traced to the Creator Himself. So let us turn ourselves away from the temporary pleasures of sin, lust, covetousness and greediness, toward the One who came to give us His heavenly and everlasting joy.

The Lord Jesus said: " These things (i.e. about abiding in Him) I have spoken unto you, that MY joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be FULL!" John 15: 11 (Emphasis mine).
That's the secret! His joy in us!

Be Encouraged,

A.Othniel
(www.aothniel.net)

><> Letter # 37 (22. 11. 2009) <><

Encouragement: The Importance of Grief

The Importance of Grief

Grief is the process that helps us release our pain and losses to God. In it we come to terms with our past and find freedom to live in the reality of the present. It also lays the ground work for our hope for the future. When we harden our hearts and refuse to grieve over pain, we make it difficult to progress in our spiritual renewal. We see that God honored the tears and grief of Jerusalem. He will also honor our honesty as we share our pain with Him. Then He will bring healing for the present and hope for the future.

The Pain fo Consequences
God does not always protect us from the consequences of our attitudes and behaviors. Through them we learn to accept responsibility for the mistakes we have made. Then our spiritual growth can continue.

The Gift of our Emotions
Emotions flow from the core of our being. If we have developed a pattern of denying or hiding our feelings, we will lose the sense of who we really are. Jeremiah shows us that we have nothing to fear in bringing even our most raw or embarassing emotions to God. The more honest we are about how we feel, the more completely we will become involved in our relationship with God and with others.

Forgiveness- A way of Life
Jeremiah, in the book of Lamentations, finished his grieving and turned to God to seek forgiveness. The book ends with a question of remorse, "Are you angry with us still?" Behind this question is Jeremiah's humility, coupled with his hope that God will start the process toward reconciliation and forgiveness. Jeremiah knew God's heart, so he knew that God would forgive. If we truly repent of our sins, we ca be sure that God will forgive us, too, no matter how great our sins and failures. We need to come humbly before Him and place our lives in His strong, gentle hands. Amen.

" Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The unfailing love of the Lord never ends! By His mercies we have been kept from complete destruction." . Lamentations 3:21-22.

Be Encouraged,

A.Othniel
(ww.aothniel.net)

><> Letter # 36 (15. 11. 2009) <><

Encouragement: Hoping when all is lost!

How did you feel when you saw on TV, so many dying such a tragic death when the twin towers were destroyed in USA some years ago? Neeedless to say, the world reacted with unbelievable shock and sorrow. Tears came down many eyes and it appeared the end of the world was so near! Though many were expecting some sort of judgment to visit the ungodly in America, no one ever imagined to such terrible extent the destruction would be wrought by the enemy! But it happened before the very eyes of the world! It appeared impossible to comfort America and all those who love humanity. Yet, it is now a part of history and life goes on as usual.

We have similar incident recorded in the history of Israel, many years ago, in the Old Testament by the Prophet Jeremiah. With head bowed in humility and pain, Jeremiah penned the book of Lamentations in the Bible. His heart was broken. He wept to see the great city of Jerusalem destroyed and God's people in exile. He had lived with God's people and pleaded with them to return to God.But his pleas fell on deaf ears.The prophet's tears were God's tears,for God weeps for our sins and mourns with us in our losses. Jeremiah did not mince his words or hide his pain. he wept openly and fully, releasing his emotions to God. His example can help us as we grieve our own losses.

As we read the book of Lametations, we discover that it is all right to be real- to be angry, to be dissappointed with life, or to be concerned about what tomorrow holds for us. God accepted Jeremiah as he was- angry, tired, and discouraged- and He will accept us as well.

Here we have a model for expressing our pain to God. IN response to his honest cries, God listened to him and comforted him. In the midst of his agony, Jeremiah found one ray of hope despite the destruction around him- " The unfailing love of the Lord never ends! " (Lamentations 3:22). As we face great pain in our lives, we also can find hope as we tell God what we are feeling. he really does hear us and care for us.

Be Encouraged,

A.Othniel
(ww.aothniel.net)

><> Letter # 35 (8. 11. 2009) <><

Encouragement: What It Takes To Make the Right Choices?

Life is so full of choices. Some are easy, but some are hard. Everyone must make choices. No one is exempt. We must learn to make the right choices. Unfortunately, we often learn the hard way, by making the wrong choices. It requires God's wisdom to make the right choices. How we make our choices can mean the difference between success or failure. It is vitally important that fathers make the wisest choices because their entire family will be affected by them.

Joshua is a good example of a godly father who made a major choice that touched his family and affected a nation. God appointed Joshua to be Moses' successor to lead the children of Israel into the promised land. For 25 years he gave direction to them, but they still remained undecided as to which God they would serve - Jehovah, the false gods of the Egyptians, or those of the people in whose land they lived (Josh. 24:14-15).

Joshua reminded them of God's goodness, telling them that God had never failed to be true to His promises (24:13). He then called them to choose who they would serve. In doing so, he set a challenge and an example before them: "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve ... but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD" (24:15). Joshua's choice was not dependent on theirs. It was already a settled matter with him and his family. Tragically, we often wait to see what others do before we decide.

To be as decisive as Joshua in making our choices, we need five things.

DESIRE

We have to want to do it. It is the lack of desire that often keeps families from making important choices.Somehow we've come to believe that it's easier to remain undecided, to stay neutral. But in doing so, we've already made a choice, and it's usually the wrong one. We need to desire what God wants.

DETERMINATION

We have to make the commitment to do it. Lack of determination is where desire dies. We may want to make the right choice, but if we are not determined, it won't happen. Joshua not only had the desire, he determined to do right even if his was the only family in the whole nation to do so.

DISCIPLINE

We have to pay the price to do it. Making choices is costly! That's what discourages many families. They have the desire, and are determined, but when they count the cost they change their mind. They lack the discipline to make the choice and abide by it regard less of what's involved. There is risk in making choices. That's where faith enters. Facts and feelings can be discouraging, but faith says, "I can trust God, no matter what!" Joshua was willing to take a step of faith in spite of the risk.

DIRECTION

We have to have a plan to do it. Where can we get the direction we can trust, when we have to make choices? Only in the Word of God! Human reasoning is not enough. We often shy away from making difficult choices because we lack confidence. Romans 10:17 says, "Now then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." Psalm 119:105 reminds us that God's Word is "a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." The darkness of the unknown can be very forbidding. But allowing God's Word to be our light gives us the security we need in the choices we must make.

DYNAMIC

We have to have the power to do it. God's Word gives us direction; God's Spirit gives the dynamic. Human wisdom and strength fail. But in God's strength we succeed. God says it is "not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit sayeth the LORD of hosts" (Zech. 4:6). What we can't do in human weakness, we can do in God's strength. Only as the Holy Spirit energizes us can we make those all-important choices that seem so hard. Is your family facing difficult choices? If so, remember Joshua. His determination to make a very hard choice encouraged Israel to say, "The LORD our God will we serve, and His voice will we obey" (Josh. 24:24). You never know how your choice to obey God may affect your family and other families as well.

Be Encouraged,

A.Othniel
(ww.aothniel.net)

><> Letter # 34 (1. 11. 2009) <><

Encouragement: Do You live by Feelings or Faithfulness?

Nobody is immune from emotions. At times, emotions rule our minds and hearts and we lose balance in life to make wise decisions. There have been times when I was so emotionally down and depressed and wanted to run away from people and all that is disturbing me emotionally. Here's a powerful example of a great prophet of God who was also emotionally so down yet remained faithful.

God Understands our Emotions:
Jeremiah (in the Old Testament History of the Bible) has often been called the weeping prophet. But he did more than weep- at times he was bitter, angry, discouraged, depressed, and lonely. We have all experienced those feelings. Jeremiah even complained to God, "Why then does my suffering continue? Why is my wound so incurable? Your help seems as uncertain as a seasonal brook. It is like a springthat has gone dry " (15:18). God's acceptance of Jeremiah's emotions frees us to bring all of our failures and strong feelings straight to God. He accepts and understands us just as as we are, and He is ready to heal our broken and hurting parts. We simply need to be honest with Him.

Faithfulness overcomes Failure:
From our human perspective, Jeremiah was a failure. But from God's point of view, Jeremiah was one of the great success stories in the Bible. He remained faithful to God and His commands despite the powerful opposition he faced. When we feel discouraged, we need to remember that God simply calls us to be faithful - to keep on going. We don't have to be a raving success. We just need to be faithful in the long haul. God will honor our faithfulness by providing us with the strength we need when we need it.

Hope Despite Disaster:
Jeremiah's warnings of approaching judgment are punctuated by promises of ultimtate deliverance. Jeremiah told the people about the "new covenant" that God has for them. Despite their impending doom, he told them that God loved them and had a wonderful future planned for them. "For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope" (29:11). When God confronts us with the truth about our sin, He also desires to give us a message of hope. He is the God of hope and restoration.

Be Encouraged,

A.Othniel
(ww.aothniel.net)

><> Letter # 33 (25. 10. 2009) <><

Encouragement: Your Future is Blessed- Beyond Your Wildest Dreams!

I visited the jail where Joseph was a prisoner and I found the warden and he was astonished. When I sought to know what was happening he said Joseph had gotten a promotion he is no longer a prisoner but a prime minister!

Do not worry about your past; your future is blessed.

I went to the forest to look for David and met with Samuel with anointing oil in his hands. When I asked him about David, he told me, David is no longer a shepherd boy but is destined for State House!

Do not worry about your past; your future is blessed.

I went to the hospital to look for Job and went to the ICU i did not find him.The doctors told me, Job was miraculously healed- Jehovah Rapha touched him without any payment. Now he is a billionairre and is so blessed.

Do not worry about your past; your future is blessed.

I went to see Matthew and found he wasn't there and so i knocked at Luke's house, he wasn't there also, the same to John and when I enquired, I was told they were writing the gospel. Jesus had uplifted them to spread His Word through writing.

Do not worry about your past; your future is blessed.

I went back to Abraham to greet Sarah. I was told Sarah has gone to maternity ward. She had not gone to visit someone but to deliver a baby. Later it was announced, grandmother Sarah now has a baby called Isaac. The baby was a blessing.

Do not worry about your past; your future is blessed.

Mary visited Jesus' grave and found it was empty and when she asked the soldier where the body was, he answered He is not there but alive. He who was crucified has defeated even death!

Do not worry about your past; your future is blessed.

I went to the factory to visit my brother. I was told nowadays he has been uplifted. Instead of being an office messenger, he is now the Manager! Another one, I was told, has ceased to be employed and now he recruits employees!

Do not worry about your past; your future is blessed.

"Do not worry what you eat or what you wear... seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added into you" - Lord Jesus. (Matthew 6:32,33).

Be Encouraged,

A.Othniel
(ww.aothniel.net)

><> Letter # 32 (18. 10. 2009) <><

Encouragement: Living Life Reflectively

Here are some questions that may help in our reflections those deliberate, thoughtful pauses that we need to create in the whirlwind of life.

  • Where am I heading? ...in my job, my business, my family, my relationships...? Is where I am where I want to be? Is where I am bringing me to where I want to be?

  • What am I doing now? Is it what I really want to do? Would I be very happy at the end of my life that I had done what I am doing now? Am I doing what I am doing because that's God's best for me, or am I just pleasing others...my spouse, my pastor, my friends, my family?

  • Am I growing in my job? Am I growing my job? Am I doing dfferent and new things regularly that stretch my potential and myself, or am I just repeating the same old stuff that keeps me on a perpetual plateau?

  • Am I growing in my relationship with God? Is He occupying a greater and greater part of my life, including my thoughts, my heart, my finances, my priorities, and my time? Am I growing in my knowledge of God? DO I know more about Him today than yesterday, not just mind-knowledge, but in heart and experience? Do I detect His hand in every incident of everyday? Am I seeking more and more of Him than the goodies in His hand?

  • Am I growing in my marriage? Is it becoming better and fresher or is it degenerating into staleness and sluggishness? Am I taking my spouse for granted or am I more and more thankful that I have this person for my spouse? Are we sharing more or are we drifting further and further apart? Is the romance still alive or has life been reduced to grocery lists and children's needs?
  • Am I growing in love? In patience and kindness? Am I becoming more calm and collected, or am I getting more touchy, demanding, and resentful? Do people matter than results to me? Do I care more about relationships than things? Do I think well of others or am I continually submerged by critical and unforgiving thoughts?
  • Am I growing in faith? Do I believe God to provide, or have I succumbed to the worldly way of getting things? Am I walking by faith or by sight? Am I asking God for the impossible or has my God become too small to meet all my needs and desires?
  • re my children more and more blessed? What part am I playing in their lives? Are they learning the fear of the Lord from me, or do they see in me the image of Mammon? Are they better off because I am their parent, or are they limited because of my neglect? Do I know my children more today than yesterday? Are they sharing with me their secrets, hopes, dreams, problems, and heartaches? Am I spending quality time with them?

    As you reflect on the foregoing questions, think of ways you can make the necessary changes to improve yourself with God's help. Remember all things are possible, if you determine to achieve, seeking God's grace and strength.(Philippians 4:13).

Be Encouraged.

A.Othniel
(www.aothniel.net) ( typed in Kenya Airport)

><> Letter # 31 (6. 9. 2009) <><

Encouragement: What Causes Conflicts?

" From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. "

James 4:1-3.

As we behold with fear and awe what may happen between Korea and USA in the nuclear arms race, India and Pakistan relations and Iran and Israel in missile war, we think of conflict being inevitable. Especially so when it comes to personal conflicts. And we can see that the Conflict is unavoidable. Now, one of the most practical things we can do is realize that as far as conflict is concerned...
The problem is not the problem. Disagreement over issues is not what causes us to walk all over one another. Disagreement is not what causes committee meeting to erupt in anger. The real story of conflict occurs not in what we are disagreeing about, but in why and how we are disagreeing. Until we get below surface issues to our own unseen motives, we have not even begun to deal with the problems that are dividing us. And until we get below our unseen motives to the underlying beliefs that form them, we will still have a very shallow approach to conflict.

Our differences might be important. What we need to see, however, is that issues do not cause conflict. Unseen motives and underlying misbeliefs cause conflict.

To cultivate relationships that enjoy the freedom of healthy disagreement, we need to develop an understanding of unseen motives.

Motives Behind Issues.
The issues in a conflict are like the tip of an iceberg. Underneath are the unseen motives that cause healthy disagreements to turn sour.
The Apostle James shows us (James 3:13-16) that unseen motives can cause us to be like trouble looking for a place to happen. He made it clear that if we resent the attention or recognition that someone else is getting (envy), or if we are committed to getting ahead even at the expense of others (self-seeking or selfish ambition), we have a hidden conflict of interest that will shape and sour our approach to disagreement.
Paul, on the other hand, shows us ( 2Tim. 2:24-26) that if our motives are right, we can act graciously- even toward those who are against us. Even if we are convinced that the other side is caught in serious error, our goal can be for their good.
James and Paul are not alone in their emphasis on the role of right attitudes and motives. The whole Bible is a book of the heart. The Scriptures teach us that if our motives aren't right, our knowledge, faith, and self-sacrifice are of little value in the eyes of God (1Cor.13:1-3). Over and over the Word of God calls for the kind of love that is a motive before it is an action. The Scriptures are also clear about what happens when bad motives displace good ones. (Lk. 22:14-27).

Beliefs Behind Motives.
Conflict could be defined as "two or more people trying to occupy the same space or control the same limited resources." This was what was happening between the herdsmen of Abram and Lot. There was not room for both of them. (Gen.13:1-9).
Abram's response was peaceful- offering Lot his choice of land. The reason for Abram's generosity goes beyond his good motives. Abram was able to be so vulnerable because he was being taught by God to realize that his well-being was not found in his own clenched fists but in the open hand of the One who was leading him (Gen. 13:14-18).
Our motives and approach to conflict will not be shaped by rules but by whether or not we join Abram in trusing the Provider God. Are we willing to let Him provide for us on His terms and in His time? Or do we believe our security depends on our ability to take matters into our own hands?
This is not to say that we are to lie down and let people walk on us whenever they want. Love doesn't always give others their way. Sometimes they need to feel the weight and intensity of our concerns and convictions. In the process, however, they need to sense that our disagreement is gracious and loving in nature. They need to know that we are not resisting merely to protect our own interests. And the only way we can be so loving is to rest in God's ability to provide for us.
People who know they are secure in God's hand find their motives shaped in that awareness. They learn to live with grace, to love freely, and to trust God from day to day when matters beyond their control do not go their way.

Misbelief Behind Cycles.
We repeat cycles of conflict when we assume that what we want is always what we need, or when we are more concerned about the people who are against us than God who is for us. Misbeliefs are the fuel of ongoing cycles of conflict. They lead us to think that it is up to us to take matters in hand, and that if we don't protect ourselves no one else will.
Underlying misbeliefs also help to explain why the apostle Paul wrote as he did to disputing parties in Philippi. See Philippians 4:2-7. He must have known something of the matters that were separating them. Yet he didn't even mention the specific issues. Instead, he wrote as if the details could be worked out once both sides came to terms with the underlying misbeliefs that had caused them to turn away from the Lord and against one another.
By addressing the real issues underlying belief, Paul gave them a means of breaking the cycle of conflict that could have spread to many others. He knew that the formula for unity is not found in agreeing about all issues. Neither is the solution merely in knowing that we should find it within ourselves to love one another. The answer for those who know God is to have the right beliefs about Him in the troubling circumstances of life. This alone will enable us to avoid the self-protection, fear, and anger that otherwise lead to returning evil for evil and harm for harm.

Be Encouraged.

A.Othniel
(www.aothniel.net)

><> Letter # 30 (30. 8. 2009) <><

Encouragement: Faith Runs on a different Clock

"... With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible ..." Mark 10:27.

Many of our struggles with faith have to do with timing. We believe, at least in theory that God will keep His promises-but when? If the answer does not come as soon as we expect, fear begins to assault us, and then soon we are tempted to "throw away [our] confidence," ignoring the fact that "it will be richly rewarded" (Hebrews 10:35). How many times have you prayed for your son or daughter to be more obedient? Are you still praying? Do you really believe God is listening?

It would be a good idea if we all just admitted that we need to learn about God's way of doing things. One of the best illustrations of divine pacing in the Bible is the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth, which is laid out in elaborate detail. In fact, the Gospel of Luke has almost as much to say about these two senior citizens as it has about Mary and Joseph.

GOD MAKES SOME VERY ODD CHOICES
RIGHT AWAY THIS STORY shows us that God's way of doing things is very different from ours. Even the way He chooses to order events holds specific lessons for us.

Many times in life, God waits while a situation goes from bad to worse. He appears to let it slip over the edge, so that you and I say, "There's no way now for this ever to work out. But that is the point when the omnipotent God intervenes in our hopelessness and says, "Oh, really? Watch this...!"

So many times when we get into emergencies and the situation seems totally hopeless - it's actually a setup. God wants to do something great. He wants to demonstrate his power, so that his name will be praised in a new and greater way. The next generation will hear all about it. After all, their spiritual nurture is far more important than mere material things.

GOD IS DRAWN TO PRAYER
God could have shown up at any time, but over and over in the Bible, He revealed himself when people began to pray.
When we seek God for answers, we must persevere in prayer, letting it build up day after day until the force of it becomes a mighty tide pushing over all obstacles. No wonder God says his house is supposed to be known as a house of prayer-not merely a house of preaching or of singing, but especially of prayer. How else will we receive great answers from God unless we persevere in prayer?
What a terrible epitaph: "You do not have, because you do not ask God" (James 4:2). God is drawn to prayer. He delights in communion with us. Prayer releases his blessing into our lives.

GOD DOES NOT APPRECIATE SECOND-GUESSING
When God sends his divine promise, He is very grieved and saddened if his people do not believe him. It breaks his father-heart to hear his own children say, "Well, maybe ... I hope so... but how could that be, really, now?.. .Yes, God has said he will bring back my daughter - but, you know, she's so hard...." Is it not enough that God declared he would do some thing? He doesn't have to explain any of his methods in advance. "Nothing is impossible," remember?

The great battle of our spiritual lives is "Will you believe?" It is not "Will you try harder?" or "Can you make yourself worthy?" It is squarely a matter of believing that God will do what only he can do. That is what God honors. He treasures those who respond and open their hearts to him. He's looking for faith so strong that it will anchor on his Word and wait for him, the One who makes everything beautiful in its time.

LET GOD DO IT HIMSELF
THE HARDEST PART of faith is often simply to wait. And the trouble is, if we don't, then we start to fix the problem ourselves - and that makes it worse. We complicate the situation to the point where it takes God much longer to fix it than if we had quietly waited for his working in the first place. The timing of God is often a mystery to us, and even sometimes a frustration. But we must not give up. We must not try to arrange our own solutions. Instead, we must keep on believing and waiting for God. We will not be alone as we patiently wait for his answer in his time. We will be joining the great host of saints down through the ages whose faith was tested and purified by waiting for God. This is what David meant when he testified, "I waited patiently for the LORD" (Psalm 40:1). Instead of taking matters into his own hands, or despairing of God's help at all, David learned to wait for God to work out his plan in his time. But after a while, God proved faithful as always, for David continued his story by adding, "He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm; place to stand" (vv. 1-2). What happened was all – glorious, but it came only after a time of waiting in faith.

Don't give up today, and don't give in to the voices of unbelief and impatience. Remember these words from a beautiful song: Keep believing in what you know is true; Keep believing - you know the Lord will see you through. When troubles rise in your life, and you don't know what to do, You'll be fine if you just keep believing.

It’s not STARTING the race that counts; its how you FINISH! Amen.

Be Encouraged.

A.Othniel (www.aothniel.net)

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