Faithful Follower or Fair-Weathered Fan?

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Like a spiritual father that he was, Paul exhorts his spiritual children in Corinth to not be swishy washy in their walk. We read his words in 1 Cor 15:58 where he says, “…be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord”. As he closed this first letter he seemed to be giving them a last nugget of encouragement to keep them from vacillating in their commitment to following Christ.

Some years back when our hometown team was on the verge of going to the World Series, which they did eventually clinched. People came out of the woodwork and jumped on the bandwagon of being a fan. Everyone was buying t-shirts, banners and talking the talk at the water fountain and coffee counter. Everyone seemed to be diehard committed fans all of a sudden. They call these type fans, fare-weathered fans, because they are only committed to the team when it is easy and convenient.

I think many believers fall in this same type category of commitment in their walk with the Lord. You might call them fare weathered Christians. They are committed to Christ and His teachings as long as there aren’t any storms of life or a losing season in their daily disciplines. On the other side of the coin when they are in the midst of over flowing blessings it is easy to jump on the bandwagon of commitment. Yet, Paul knew that the believer was called to stand firm in their faith no matter what comes their way. Jesus said in Luke 9:62, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God”. Therefore, Paul also exhorts the believers in 1 Cor 9:24-26 to be like


   Only being committed when it is easy and convenient is being a fare-weathered fan for Christ


the runner in a race that runs to win the race not just to be strolling down the track of life and also to those believers in Ephesus He says, “having done all to stand therefore stand”. (Eph. 6:12) Commitment without endurance is just a desire that never manifests into reality. The followers of Christ must live a lifestyle committed to being obedience to Christ rather than just being hinged with some sort of sacrifice. What I am trying to say is there must be more than just sacrifice. (1 Sam 15:22-23) Commitment is a must for every believer!

In Ps. 132 we read the psalmists conversation with the Lord, where he prayed that God would remember David’s commitment to Him. From the sheep fields to the Kingship it seems that this determined commitment that was birthed in him, grew more and more over time. The Spirit describes his determination and intensity in Acts 13:22, saying, “a man after My own heart, who will do all My will”. The Psalmist briefly reminds God of David’s commitment in Ps 132:2-5 which says, “How he … vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob: “Surely I will not go into the chamber of my house, Or go up to the comfort of my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes … Until I find a place for the Lord”. David never strayed from this passionate commitment to God, in fact if anything, it increased. Scripture reveals how David wasn’t perfect, but his heart was moved for God and the more he leaned into intimacy with Jesus, I believe God kept pouring His heart into him. In a sense, you could say God was stoking the fire of heaven in David’s heart over the years.

After your gone, how will people remember your commitment to God? What will be written on your headstone? Have you given Him opportunity to increase your burning passion to the point that your commitment is at the same intensity as David?

 

 

 

 

 

The Cost of Impatience

1a1aa - impatienceThere’s nothing like entering the stage of life where God blesses you with children. It is an incredible season, yet the transition between only having to worry about yourself to the wake up call of now having a baby that doesn’t understand patience and timing can be eye opening to say the least. I remember in that season how the nights that I was beyond tired was when our sweet cuddly bundle of love turned into a screaming creature from the dark side. That sweet little crying baby never understood anyone else’s needs, only that they wanted their bottle now and that you’re not moving fast enough!

Sadly, many believers are responding in the same way when it comes to receiving the promises of God. When things aren’t coming together in their timetable they begin to be agitated and respond with unwarranted reactions that can, if not stopped, abort the promises of God. It says in Prov. 13:12, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick”. When we are faced with delays we can quickly turn to hopelessness and begin to lose heart, even becoming sluggish in achieving God’s promises.

We see this happening on one of Moses many trips up the mountain. We read in Ex 32:1, “Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, … we do not know what has become of him”.  Now, remember these are the people that God delivered from the Egyptians. God ended hundreds of years of slavery through a great show of His power. (Gen.15:13-14) He went before them as a “Pillar of Fire and a Cloud by day! (Ex 13:21-22)  He opened the Red Sea for a way of escape and then closed it upon the vicious army coming to annihilate them! (Ex 14:21-23, 27-28) Then shortly before this passage the children of Israel had seen God descend upon Mount Sinai in a dark cloud with rumblings and lightening’s, speaking audibly the Ten Commandments before all the children of Israel. (Ex 20:18-19, 22)

They truly had multiple encounters with their all-powerful God that had chosen them to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation before Him, (Ex. 19:6) yet they still slid to a place of impatience when Moses delayed coming down the mountain. You would think after a number of times witnessing God calling him up to commune with Him and to receive instruction on their behalf, that they would be patient and content. Yet it was not so!

The human spirit has a tendency to want things now not later, even if that means trying to help God fulfill His plan with our own strength. Just as Abram and Sari, when they became impatient and produced an Ishmael themselves. (Gen. 16:1-2) Esau was so hungry and impatient after hunting all day that he sold His birthright for soup. (Gen. 25:29-35, Heb. 12:16)

Israel’s impatience motivated them to pursue Aaron to create a god of gold that they might serve and worship it. (Ex. 32:1-2) The gold that they used is what they received from the Egyptians when they left bondage. Isn’t it like many of God’s people in our society? We get tired of contending for His promises, so we create a golden calf that fits our convenience out of the blessings we received from God in the first place.

Let me encourage you as Paul said, not to be weary along the journey, for we will see God’s promises fulfilled if we don’t quit! (Gal. 6:9) Our impatience will only end up costing us the blessings we received from God.

Thoughts to Ponder:  

  • Have you ever been so impatient for whatever reason and did something foolish?
  • Have you ever known anyone to try and help God fulfill what He has promised you? Explain?

 Quotes to Tweet:

  • The human spirit has a tendency to want things now not later, even if that means trying to help God fulfill His plan with our own strength. billvirgin.com 
  • When we are faced with delays we can quickly turn to hopelessness and begin to lose heart, even becoming sluggish in achieving God’s promises. – billvirgin.com

#TheresACostToOurImpatience           #DontDiscardWhatGodAccepts    

 

 

The First Step can be the Hardest

images-62I would imagine we all have experienced times where we are gripped with fear of the unknown. Like my sister and brother who when they were younger took skydiving lessons. Yes, they jumped out of perfectly good airplanes at 13,000 ft above the earth. They said the hardest part of their adventure was the first step out of the plane into the unknown atmosphere. Wow! I don’t want to even imagine how I might feel. I would probably scream like a baby.

Let me say no matter how old or rickety the plane might be, it’s made to fly and becomes a comfort zone for those in it. But, when we are faced with defying the established laws of the universe, as those who are expected to jump out of a plane are, you will more than likely get hit in the face with fear, doubt and anxiety. Why, because we weren’t made to fly.

With that in mind let’s look at Matt 14:23-33, where Jesus sends the disciples by boat to the other side before Him. Being in a boat on the water was a comfortable and familiar way of life and for some like Peter and Andrew it was where they had


It’s only when you get out of your boat do you see the miracles of God. 


made their living. Yet, things were radically going to change in their surrounding and life. A boisterous storm moves in changing the atmosphere and out of the dark Jesus comes walking on the water overturning their comfort and ultimately challenging their faith. Thinking Jesus could be a ghost fear began to grip and overtake them. With calming words of “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” Jesus speaks to them. But Peter wanting more evidence, like a child saying to his peers “prove it”. He blurts out, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” The vary fact that Peter would even consider asking this was mind-boggling. What he asked shows that he believed that Jesus had the power to override any earthly limitations or laws. I believe a mixture of assurance and dread came over him when Jesus answered with the word, “Come”.

It was probably like the feeling my brother and sister felt when it was time to jump out of the plane. That first step of transitioning from security and familiarity over to the unknown is one many will never overcome. But if never taken there is the absent of experiencing the wonders and adventure of over-riding the established


God doesn’t want us to stay where were at but to crossover to the other side


limitations. When Peter acted on the word of Jesus, which revealed his understanding of who he understood Jesus as, he walked on water. Peter began to move in another dimension, one that none has ever walked in to the same extent. He not only gets the award for being the only one to walk on water but more importantly he confirmed to himself the belief that Jesus was able to empower him Continue reading

Let The Pit Produce Your Purpose

images-46It’s amazing how fast things can change around us. Many of us have had some event or situation in our life where something had happened which altered our surroundings and radically changed us from that moment forward. Those earth-shaking events can either bring a positive or negative outcome depending on our faith, support and personal fortitude.

In Genesis we read a story of a young man who’s life went from being spoiled and loved by his parents to separation and devastation throughout much of his life. We read in Gen 37:18-20 where young Joseph was going to check on his older brothers who were taking care of the family’s sheep. “Now when they saw him afar off, …they conspired against him …said to one another, “…Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit”. These were his family, stepbrothers who should have protected him, but chose to bring hurt to him by throwing him in a pit. They stopped short of killing him physically by selling him into slavery aborting any life desires he might have had. Let alone they lied to their parents that wild animals had viciously killed Joseph. Needless to say, this was a life-altering situation brought on by selfishness and jealousy among family members.

It’s hard to believe that those that should bring safety and encouragement through life’s struggles can sometimes bring the most damage and devastation. Whether it is co-workers, teachers or even those you’re related to they can at times bring the worst destruction in our lives. Life can be fragile and altered many times


Earth-shaking events can either bring a positive or negative outcome depending on our faith, support and personal fortitude.


where we find ourselves in a deep pit very quickly. We can feel like the popular commercial that states, “I have fallen and I can’t get up”. This advertisement goes on to advertise an emergency button that you can have so during these serious situations you can call for help. You and I can also have in place a much more effective response for our cry for help. That is firstly, our personal relationship in Christ, secondly a strong support by family and friends of faith, as well as thirdly, our own fortitude that comes from confidence in God’s purposes for us.

It is so important that in these times we have our foundation already established in Christ so that our eyes are kept on the one where our help comes from. (Ps 121:2-3) Jesus said in Matt 7:24-25 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.” We will have storms in our


Life can be fragile and altered many times where we find ourselves in a deep pit very quickly. Who will you call?


lives for sure, but they don’t have to wipe us out completely. We can take our deepest pit and allow God to turn it into our strongest purpose to help others. Joseph went from the pit to Potifers house and even through a dark prison season. He could have and possibly did entertain the thoughts that God didn’t care or was punishing him, but ultimately we read that Joseph kept his eyes on the Lord. He knew God was a God that would bring justice in this situation. The end of this incredible story is that God used this incredible tragedy to bring triumph to His people through Joseph. God brought young Joseph from a pit to a palace with a purpose to help others!   I encourage you even though you have fallen into a pit to not stay there but look ahead for your palace!

 

Thoughts to Ponder:  

Have you ever had a situation in your life that has altered your future course? Or maybe you have a close friend that has gone through some tragedy that changed their life. Explain?

As you read the story of Joseph being thrown into a pit by his brothers and then being sold into slavery, what comes to your mind? What do you think brought on such hatred for their younger brother?

Describe what kind of support or helpful measures you have in your life to keep get you out of a pit if you ever fall into one? What do they look like in detail? How would you encourage others to be equipped to overcome adversity in their lives?

Quotes to Tweet:

  • Earth-shaking events can either bring a positive or negative outcome depending on our faith, support and personal fortitude. – billvirgin.com

 

  • Life can be fragile and altered many times where we find ourselves in a deep pit very quickly. Who will you call? – billvirgin.com

#IHaveFallenAndCantGetUp         #DontStayInThePitLookToThePalace          #LetThePitProduceYourPurpose

What has Robbed your Passion?

images-26When the new wears off and normal comes into play many lose their passion and fire. As most of us have experienced over the years in our own lives, our passion for different things comes in and out almost as often as the Sun rises and then sets hours later. I remember my siblings and I having thoughts of making big money shoveling driveways every first snow. Yet, halfway through with a mountain of snow still in my shovel the enthusiasm and passion quickly faded and before long we gave up and were all back in our warm home.

In reading the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 18 -19, we see his passion and zeal for the God he worshipped and served. He had just been used by God to turn the hearts of Israel back to Him. Through his obedience and faith, God had showed His power


Don’t run from God into what you think is a cave or safe place, when the enemy means it to become your tomb.     (tweet)


and might on Mount Carmel in front of Baal‘s prophets and Jezebel’s chaplains, as well as the nation of Israel. Elijah’s boldness and eradication of the prophets and chaplains after God worked a great victory through him demonstrated his fire for God.

But then there is a drastic shift in the story as we see in 1 Kings 19:4 where Elijah is asking God to let him die. He says, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” He compares his life with those that had turned from God even after seeing God work mightily in there midst. This mighty prophet of God goes from a mountain top experience to the valley of discouragement. One moment he has a fiery passion for the things of God and the next he is nothing more than a smoking wick of a lamp. The fire had gone out in his life and there was only a faint stench of smoke. Elijah even sinks to the depth of despair by running into the wilderness and hiding in a cave. What happened to this bigger than life passionate prophet? What made him lose the fire of God? What made Him hide in the pit of life? A cave is nothing more than a tomb waiting to be shut!

What has robbed you of your passion for the things of God! Remember back when you had your first encounter with God? It was just like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus when Jesus joined them and talked with them. (Lk 24:13-32) They said “did not our hearts burn within us?” God starts His fire with in us! But then as we go through life we allow things to quench that fire! We lose our passion for the things of God!

Elijah allowed fear to come in when the evil queen Jezebel threatened his life. He began to isolated himself and have a pity party. He believed the lie that he was the only one serving God. He forgot what God had done in his life already. (1 Kings 19:1-10) Therefore, he ran from God to a desert place, into what he thought was a cave or safe place, but the enemy meant for it to become his tomb. God never left Elijah even when he was running but sustained him, empowered him, spoke to him and guided him all the way to victory!

As Matt 12:20 says, God isn’t going to let your fire go completely out even if its just smoking. He will intervene and draw near to you. But will you respond to His whisper? Letting Him rekindle your fire?

 

 

 

Walking On The Water Isn’t For The Faint Of Heart

images-15I know that there are many individuals who like me grew up in Sunday school hearing and envisioning Peter the disciple who walked on the water and then the following week at the city pool we would try and mimic the Bible lesson as we took a step on the water. No matter how many times we sunk, we would keep trying again and again with no avail. There’s definitely something to be said about the raw undefiled faith of children.

Peter and the other disciples in Matt 14:24-33 were in the small boat going to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. They had just experienced Jesus feeding the multitude, but like so many of us, the disciples still didn’t have a grasp on who Jesus really was. They were still on their journey of getting to know who Jesus was. The scripture says that in the wee hours of the morning that Jesus comes to them walking


There are no shortages of excuses that can talk you and I as adults out of what God wants for us      (tweet)


on the stormy water. I just want to say that it doesn’t take very much to frightened people from 3 to 6am in the morning. Let alone a person who they don’t recognize walking on the sea. Yet, even after Jesus calms their fears by letting them know it was He, Peter still questions Him in verse 28 with a proposition of “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water”. So Jesus does and Peter climbs out of a perfectly safe boat onto the turbulent water.

There are no shortages of excuses that can talk you and I as adults out of what God wants for us. To often we have allowed things that we are familiar and comfortable with to become a type of security blanket in our lives, keeping us from ever experiencing the reality of who God is and what His plan for us is. It’s like the baby, who grows and matures and one day comes to the point of having to let go of their baby blanket that gives them a calming security. There’s really no protection ability or safety value in the tattered frail blanket, but it’s something that a child has


Only one disciple up until now has that testimony walking on water! (tweet)


for much of their young life giving them a disillusion of security. In the same manner many adults have settled into a place of comfort and dependability to a point of repeating the same cycle of the security blanket?

Most of the disciples like Peter had grown up spending much of their time on boats and relying on them to keep them safe. Now, Jesus challenges Peter to get out and walk to Him in the midst of a storm. So putting excuses aside and looking to Jesus through a deeper belief of who He is, got out of his comfort and walked on the water. He experienced God in a way that none have ever been able to experience before. Only one disciple up until now has that testimony! The others stayed in the confinements of what was safe and normal to them.

Therefore, there comes a time for each of us also to quit making excuses and get out of our boat and walk on the water. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are and who cares what others are saying, it’s time to focus on what Jesus is saying. You see it’s not a matter of how bad the circumstances are but what were focused on! Our eyes must be fixed on Jesus!   Paul says in Heb. 12:2, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith”.

 

Between a Rock and a Hard Place?

images-7The multitudes of Israelites made their way through the wildness as they headed to worship their God. These former slaves who had never walked with their heads up, now for the first time walk as free, healthy and blessed people. In a matter of hours their world had been totally turned right side up as the God of their fathers delivered them through signs and wonders at the hands of Moses. Words can’t express the feelings of gratitude that these mothers, fathers and children were experiencing as they made their way through the wilderness to give glory and worship to their God.

But then, we see God instructs Moses in Ex.14:1-2, to turn the Israelites and have them “camp before Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea”. In effect the children of Israel were asked to backtrack and go back in the same direction that


Being in a tight spot without Christ leads to failure, but if we have Christ, there will be deliverance and victory   (tweet)


they had just traveled. Their path would take them in a direction placing them with the Red Sea on one side, and the wilderness and mountains on the other sides. In other words they were going to be in a predicament. This new encampment would put them in a less than vulnerable place before the enemy who was now pursuing them. The children of God were now between a rock and a hard place. What was God up to anyway?

Before these once shackled ex-slaves could even begin to enjoy their freedom, the dust from Pharaohs six hundred chariots and horsemen gave signal of their change of mind and fast arrival to kill and destroy them.(Vs.7-9) In Ex.14:10 it says that God’s children became greatly afraid when they saw the coming Egyptian army.

Maybe the complaints and murmuring of the Israelites were true, that there wasn’t enough graves in Egypt, so Moses brought them to the wilderness to die (Vs.11-15) or was God up to something? It says in Ex 14:4 that God said, “I will gain honor over Pharaoh … that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord.” We see that


At the Red Sea God would use the vessel of deliverance for his children to also destroy the Egyptian army.    (tweet)


God planned to show that He was God almighty not only to His covenant people but to their enemies also. God had set up this whole scenario for His purposes!

Moses encouraged the people in vs. 13-14 saying, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord”. He goes on to say that after God fights for them that they will never see this enemy again.

Even with the hopeless circumstances to the natural eye, God’s word was to “go forward”! But how could they? The impassable Red Sea was there, and this was way before the story of Peter walking on the water. God had it all planned out and would use the vessel of deliverance for his children to also destroy the Egyptian Continue reading