Puzzling Times

Life is one big puzzle sometimes, and the problem that we have as Christians is our inability to see the big picture.

The best example I can think of for this is a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. There are a lot of pieces that may look the same, they may even be shaped similarly, but there are no two pieces that are fully alike.

In the same way, there are no two Christians that are exactly the same. A puzzle will only fit together one way; in the same way, Christians are shaped and shaded to piece together according to the picture that is on the box. The difference between a puzzle and God’s children is that we don’t see the big picture. We can only see the pieces that are around us.

Too many times we as Christians want to assume we know how the final picture is supposed to look. We try to fit in where we don’t belong, and at times try to force ourselves into the spaces that are not reserved for us. God wants to work our puzzle. He wants to place us where we fit. He wants to show us the right place to fit in. It is up to us to allow God to place us where we belong.

There are many times in life where we try and take the reigns; where we try too hard to fit into a space where we were never slated to be. These are the times that we feel depressed, discouraged and torn apart by the world around us. It is in these times where we cry out for help; where we allow God to pick us up out of the wrong, and place us in the right direction.

We differ, however, from the puzzle in that we have the freedom to move and look for our space. A puzzle will lay there until you pick up the piece and look for the space in which it fits. God does not try to fit us in to His puzzle; He tries to show us the direction of our space. It is up to us to head in that direction.

God is showing us the right way to go. Why do we as Christians try to avoid it? We are selfish. We tend to think we know best what is right for our lives…this is where we as Christians forget how we arrived where we are.

This is the reason many churches seem to sit dormant. The pieces that have been placed are trying to force themselves into spaces that are reserved for others. The only true way for us to successfully piece the puzzle together is to become fully accepting of the plan that is laid out by God.

We have to allow God to place us where we fit. We have to stop holding on to the things that are tying us down to a spot that is not reserved for us. Allow God to place you in your proper spot; surrender to the plans He has for your life, and let go of the baggage, let go of the world. Cling to God…let Him work this puzzle; after all, He’s the one with the box to look at.

Protect This House

“We must protect this house!”

If you’re a sports fan you likely know that this statement comes from an advertisement for Under Armor brand.  This is something that they are using in two different ways to sell their products.  The first is to employ the mind about the importance of a home team being better as they play at home, protecting their home turf and earning the victory; an encouragement to not allow someone to come in and defeat you in your own home.  The second is that their product offers protection for the athlete who is wearing it.

I think we can take this same mindset into our everyday lives as we live as Christians in this difficult world.  Today we face many trials, and I feel that we can adopt a couple different views of this statement into our lives as well.

The first, I feel we can use it to protect the church.  The sacred ground of our home churches will soon be under attack, if they aren’t already.  The Devil wants to attack where he can to try and destroy us, and he would love to take apart God’s house at the seams.  We must be protective of the place where we worship, helping to keep it as the place that people feel they can come and be safe from the attacks of the world.

Second, we must protect our own homes.  Scripture speaks to this is the book of Joshua where we see in 24:15 where it states, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  We must protect our children from the harms of the world (Proverbs 22:6).  Men, you must be the spiritual leader of your home, and women, continue to lead by example, seeking to be like the woman described in Proverbs 31.

The third way we can look at this statement is that our body is “Home” for the Lord.  We must protect this house by striving to take care of our bodies and working to make sure that this “Temple” is pure and glorified before the Lord.  We have to keep ourselves strong in the Lord and serve Him.

How do we protect our bodies?  Look to scripture:

“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (ESV)

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” – Ephesians 5:16-20 (ESV)

Allow yourself to be filled with the Spirit of God and allow Him to work in you today.  You must protect your house, whether it is the church, your own home, or even your own body God must be seen by others in the way you live and carry yourself.

“We must protect this house!”  Is your answer today, “I WILL”?

Confidence in Troubled Times

“Lord, how my foes increase! There are many who attack me. Many say about me, ‘There is no help for him in God.’ But You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the One who lifts up my head. I cry aloud to the Lord, and He answers me from His holy mountain. I lie down and sleep, I wake again because the Lord sustains me. I am not afraid of the thousands of people who have taken their stand against me, on every side. Rise up, Lord! Save me, my God! You strike all my enemies on the cheek, You break the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord; may Your blessing be on Your people.”  – Psalm 3 (HCSB)

Each day we should begin with a confident and unwavering approach to the day ahead.  As we see in this Psalm of David, God will never abandon us, especially in our times of need.  David was feeling as if the world was against him, and he mentions this in the first few verses.  David states, “Many say about me, ‘There is no help for him in God.’” (v. 2)

David felt pressure, he felt like he was under attack from all sides, even feeling as if his enemies were increasing on a daily basis.  How many times do we feel this way? We feel as if everything in life is going against us and we fail to see what He is doing for us.  We can take a lesson from David in that we can approach things in our lives the way he did in this Psalm.

Our response should be like David’s, “But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the One who lifts up my head. I cry aloud to the Lord, and He answers me from His holy mountain.” (v. 3-4)

If we can adapt this into our thinking, we will see a change in attitude and perspective as we go through our days.  When we feel things are against us, when we feel we are being betrayed by those around us, and when we feel that God is far from us, we have to renew our thinking and trust that God is by our side.

Paul also adapted this thinking into his own life and ministry, in 2 Timothy 4:16-18, “At my first defense, no one stood by me, but everyone deserted me.  May it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the proclamation might be fully made through me, and all the Gentiles might hear. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil work and will bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom. To Him be the glory forever and ever! – Amen.”

Today, I encourage you to find the courage deep within yourselves to stand on these truths.  No matter what you are facing today, if you will put your focus into this type of trust, it will amaze you how much easier things will seem to get.  God wants nothing but the best for us, His best, which can become our best if we put all trust in Him.

Sometimes we may wonder why things happen the way that they do and today may not have been an easy one, but these are the days that we can see God working the most.  Take the time to trust Him and thank Him for what he has done for you.  “To God be the Glory, great things He hath done.”