by Lawrence Powell
I can do this! Those are four little words, but they carry a lot of weight when you choose to do what is right in God’s sight. For instance, Matthew 5:44 tells us to “love your enemies. Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Those commands may seem hard, but 1 John 5:3 tells us, “His commandments are not burdensome.” Let that sink in a moment: His commandments are not burdensome! In other words they are not irksome, oppressive, or grievous!
God does not ask us to do hard things; He asks us to do impossible thingsthings that cannot be done outside of Jesus Christ. But whenever God asks us to do something that is impossible, He also anoints us to do it. He provides the will, the means, and the grace to do everything He commands us to do. His anointing will break through every obstacle we may encounter.
Wayne Stiles said this: “We won’t experience the joy of God’s power if we keep running from impossible situations.” If God asks impossible things of us, He plans to do the impossible for us. God will lead you and guide you in such a way that transformation is the end result. God may allow you to go into a fiery furnace, but you will come out with a testimony, fireproof and triumphant!
What happens when we avoid hard things? The answer is, hard things come to us. Have you ever tried to escape something that was difficult only to run right into it? There’s a class that you’ve got to take in the school of the Holy Spirit, and that is Hard Knocks. But look in the mirror and tell yourself, “I can do this!”
Difficulties arise because we need to learn to confront life from a different perspective that comes with a new set of values. When we walk contrary to the way of the world, there will be difficulties. Our friends won’t understand us. It’s as if we’re speaking a foreign language. We’re talking holiness; they’re talking ungodliness. We’re talking righteousness; they’re talking unrighteousness.
Difficulties also exist for our growth potential. God will stretch us: This can be painful at times, because it requires leaving our comfort zones.
Scripture is full of examples of people who didn’t want to do what God told them to do. Moses struggled with God’s command to confront Pharaoh about freeing the children of Israel. And Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh, so he purchased a ticket to somewhere else. He ended up in the belly of a big fish until he repented. Then God delivered him, and he went on to Nineveh.
Jesus said, “Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls; for My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Note: “My yoke is easy”…but it’s still a yoke. “My burden is light”…but it’s still a burden. The good news is we don’t have to carry it alone.
Here are five things you can do through Christ, when faced with difficulties:
1. Be determined to do God’s will: When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:30-46), He struggled in regards to the bitter cup, wrestling with the purpose that the Father had set out before Him–so much so that blood, like drops of sweat, poured from Him. Yet He said, “Not My will, but Your will be done!”
2. Obey the Lord, no matter how silly or difficult it may appear: In 2 Kings 5:1-14 we read about Naaman, a valiant man, a champion among his people. The Bible says Naaman was a leper. He was also a proud man. He had heard about a prophet in Israel and decided to go to him for a healing. So he left with his entourage to see Elisha and when he arrived at the place where the prophet resided, Elisha didn’t even come out to greet him. Instead, he sent his servant who told him, “Go down and dunk yourself seven times in the Jordan River.” When Naaman heard those words, he was insulted! Dunk in the dirty Jordan? Are there not better, cleaner waters? He was doubly insulted that the Man of God had not come to him personally. But thank God, He always has someone with good sense in the midst! As Naaman turned to depart in his anger, some of his servants said to him, “This is a small thing that the Prophet asks of you, to go, dunk in the water. What have you got to lose?” So Naaman humbled himself and did as he had been instructed by Elisha…and he was healed!
3. Keep your eyes on Jesus: Hebrews 12:1-3 says, “Let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…” Everything within you might be fighting to do the right thing, while everything that is wrong is pulling at you: Tell that person off! Lie to your brother! Cheat on your taxes! But just declare, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” When you keep your eyes on Jesus, you will never go astray!
4. Expect God’s grace to do what God requires: In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul speaks of his thorn in the flesh, a problem that troubled him night and day. He went before the Lord three times and asked, “Take this away from me!” But, instead, the Lord gave Paul a revelation. And that revelation is just as valid for you and me today. God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in your weakness.” God’s got grace for everything you and I might encounter in life. And that grace, my friend, is all sufficient!
5. Enjoy the blessings of faith and obedience: James 1:22-25 says, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” The blessing comes not just by hearing the Word, but by doing it. And when you do the Word, you will enjoy the blessings that come from the Lord!
These principles will help you live victoriously in whatever situation you face. When difficulties come–and they will–stand on the promises of God. Declare “I can do this!”
|Don’t Be Deceived
by Lawrence Powell
I want to talk to you today about the important topic of deception. There is so much going on in our world. Things have changed – a lot! We must recognize that, today, there is an intense opposition to truth as God defines it. There is a demonic agenda attempting to force its way on us and certainly intent on leading people, and, yes, even the church, astray.
Take, for instance, what we see in the media and entertainment. Things that used to grieve the people of God no longer grieve them. We see all kinds of ungodliness paraded before us and we wink at it. Nudity, cussing and swearing on TV and in the movies—not to mention all of the violence! “Well, it’s just the way the world is.” And that’s precisely the problem: the things that grieve the Spirit of God no longer grieve us. It’s as if we’ve been lulled to sleep. We need to come to grips with the fact that, sadly, this blinding effect has found its way into the church. You heard me! The spirit of this age, seated in church pews, seeks to conform believers to the evils of the day, when believers should be making a difference. You and I should be making an impact that brings about transformation in our culture and our world. Paul warned us ‘not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.’(Romans 12:2). God’s got a plan, a purpose in Heaven that He wants fulfilled on earth. We should be praying and cooperating with Him that His will be done – not the will of the enemy, but the will of God. So why are we sitting back and letting the enemy have his way?
Remember years ago we were horrified and grieved to hear that the courts legitimized abortion. But how many times do we think about it now? It’s just become a part of our culture. It’s become a part of what we do. Well, my Friend, you can legalize and legislate it, but sin is still sin. The problem is people want to redefine sin. People want to redefine the Bible. They’re deceived into thinking that’s okay; it’s progressive!
I came across a quote from evangelist Billy Graham that is so very powerful. He said, “Our society serves to avoid any possibility of offending anyone except God.” Today we’re consumed by political correctness at the expense of God’s Word. Christians are so afraid of speaking out against sin and deception that it’s got Satan dancing! These Last Days are tough…and they’re only going to get tougher. Remember Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 4 that the time would come when people wouldn’t be able to stand sound doctrine and teaching, but, instead would run around like a group of chickens frantically chasing this way and that, trying to find teachers who taught what they wanted to hear. And Paul warns that “they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables.” That’s deception…and that’s what we, as Christians, need to avoid.
I want you to understand this, because, as believers faced with deception, we must be prepared to respond. What happens when you’re on the job and people begin to talk about racism or issues of sexuality or crime — what are you going to say? Here’s a little something for you to think about; a cat doesn’t bark. A dog doesn’t meow. A dog barks; a cat meows. It’s according to their nature, right? So sinners are going to act like sinners-liars will lie, cheaters will cheat, thieves will steal. When you are faced with all of that, how will you respond?
I’m going to share a personal story with you about what happened one day when I told a lie. Me, Pastor Larry, lying! I know that’s a shocker, isn’t it? I got in trouble about something and I figured, “Let me lie my way out of this.” So I kept a straight face and I lied. Everything in me was lying. And my mother said, “Alright now, I’m going to go in the room and I’m going to pray, and I’m going to ask God about it. And God’s going to tell me if you’re lying or not.” Now I knew she was tight with God, so I cried out, “Oh, Mama, I’m lying! Do what you’re going to do now, because I’m lying!” I knew my mother walked with God, so I was sure God was going to tell on me!
You know every April we’re confronted with this same choice: Do I lie…or do I tell the truth? You know April…Tax time! Whether you like it or not, if you choose to lie on your taxes, then you’re a liar! Hey, don’t shoot the preacher now! God said it – I’m just relaying the message!
When I was a child, Christians used to say, “We’re in the world, but we’re not a part of the world.” And yet, you and I have to live among people. We see each other daily at work, at school, in the supermarket. What makes us different is that we have a divine call to be a light in the darkness ; to be the salt of the earth. That means we have to keep ourselves from being deceived, so we can help others avoid deception as well.
How do we avoid deception? By staying close to Jesus. By reading the Word of God and meditating on it daily. By prayer, and fasting, if necessary. It’s not always going to be easy. There’s always going to be challenges. Life is full of them. But you can live clear-headed in God’s truth.
We all came out of sin and deception of one form or another. Paul explained this to the Corinthian church in I Corinthians 6, when he mentioned a long list of their former sins. But he said in verse 11, “And such were some of you.” You, too, my friend, have sinned and fallen short of the glory. But note that little word “were.” That means that’s who you used to be. That’s who I used to be. But we’re not those people anymore. We’ve been washed, cleansed, delivered, sanctified, and set apart unto God. Amen? We’ve been justified. Now you and I can live in newness of life, free from deception. And that’s something to shout about!