Until You Can Run No More

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‘The socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint.’ Genesis 32:25 NKJV

When you try to run from God, you keep running into Him at every turn. It happened to Jacob. He ran from his brother Esau’s anger, and when things got too hot in his father-in-law’s house, he ran from there too. Finally, when he could run no more, he ran into God at a place called Peniel. And it was there that his name was changed from Jacob, meaning ‘the deceiver’, to Israel, which means ‘a prince with God’. The Bible says: ‘Then Jacob was left alone, and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.” And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”’(Genesis 32:24–28 NKJV) When God dislocated Jacob’s hip, in essence, He was telling him, ‘Your running days are over, and your limp will be a constant reminder of your total dependence on Me.’ We all need a ‘Jacob experience’. Oswald Chambers said when God wants to use a man, ‘He hammers him and hurts him, and with mighty blows converts him.’ Everything Jacob needed, he found when he ran into the arms of God. The same is true for you.

Don’t Try To Force It!

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‘See the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.’ Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT

Often life doesn’t go according to plan. A promotion doesn’t happen in time and your career plans get side-lined, or a relationship backfires and you spend every waking moment analyzing what went wrong. The secret to real peace lies in seeing ‘the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end’, and accepting that He works according to His own timetable. Have you ever tried unlocking the door to your house when you’re rushing, weighed down with packages, and the phone is ringing? It’s the right key, but it won’t work because you’re forcing it. Once you relax, the door opens with no problem. Counsellor Melody Beattie says: ‘Stop trying so hard. You’re sabotaging yourself. Once you decide a situation is good or bad, you put yourself in a position of having to do something about it. For example, if someone is “good” you start comparing yourself: am I better or worse? How do I need to improve? We’re exhausted before we begin! When the path is uphill—walk up the hill! When you have to go around an obstacle… go around it! Accept the path before you. The Bible says there’s “a proper time and procedure for every delight” (Ecclesiastes 8:6 NASB). Sometimes that means you don’t get what you want today, you get what you have today. Maybe something needs to happen first. Or there’s an important lesson God wants you to learn and you’re trying to avoid it. Or it’s just not time. Stop trying so hard to make things happen on your timetable. Do what you can do in peace, surrender the rest to God, and watch the “impossible” fall into place.’

Change Your Diet

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‘Glorify God in your body.’ 1 Corinthians 6:20 NKJV

One pastor writes: ‘I stood on every healing Scripture in the Bible. Finally, I got so sick that I had to be rushed to the hospital. There they discovered I had five arteries completely blocked and scheduled me for a bypass surgery. When I came through it, I started questioning, “How could this have happened to me? I’m a pastor. I believe that God heals. I’ve prayed for others and watched Him heal them.” Then I remembered! I’d been warned repeatedly that my cholesterol and sugar levels were too high. I needed to change my diet, but I wouldn’t listen. I was addicted to fried foods and fatty foods. They were so tasty I couldn’t give them up.’

Jesus said the children of this world are wiser than the children of light (see Luke 16:8). The media and the medical establishment are warning us daily to eat more healthily, yet often the church is silent. Tobacco, alcohol, and drugs can kill you, but so can eating unhealthy food! Paul writes: ‘Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which is God’s.’ (1 Corinthians 6:19–20 NKJV) You have an assignment from God, and a responsibility to stay healthy and fulfill it. Your body is the temple in which He dwells, and the instrument He uses. So seek to ‘glorify God in your body’ each day.

Listening for God’s Voice

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‘You will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the right way.”‘ Isaiah 30:21 NCV

A counselor who was once an addict writes: ‘I was in treatment for chemical dependency and needed a job to get out. I looked for months, but nobody wanted to hire me. One day I was waiting for a bus when a little voice urged: “Look behind you.” I was standing next to an attorney’s office. “Go talk to the head of the firm and tell him you need a job,” were the words I heard. That’s crazy, I thought… but that “still, small voice” urged me on, so I obeyed. When I talked to the attorney and told him what was happening in my life, he understood because someone in his family was also recovering from addiction. Then he looked at me and said, “It’s funny you came in today. I was thinking about creating a position for a legal secretary and hadn’t gotten around to advertising.” Two weeks later I got the job, and it was better than any position I’d applied for. It paid more and made the best possible use of my skills.’ The problem isn’t that God no longer speaks to us; it’s that we don’t recognize His voice. Don’t be so quick to dismiss the random thoughts that cross your mind (see 1 Corinthians 2:16). Generally speaking, God won’t send a thunderbolt from Heaven to get your attention. More often He speaks through your thoughts, a family member, a friend, a teacher, a pastor, a change in your circumstances, the sudden discovery of the ‘perfect’ Scripture, the writing of a gifted author, or in the quietness when He fills your heart with perfect peace. So learn to listen to God’s voice.

Jesus Wants To Set You Free

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‘If you abide in My Word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ John 8:31–32 NKJV

Are you trying to overcome a bad habit? Jesus wants to set you free. ‘If you abide in My Word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ You ask, ‘What is this “truth” that will make me free?’ Jesus answers in six words: ‘If you abide in My Word.’ Victory is gained in your mind, and maintained in your mind. One lady joked, ‘Giving up cigarettes is easy; I’ve done it thousands of times.’

Seriously, how can you stop going back to old habit patterns? By repenting of them, renouncing them, and replacing the old thoughts that lead us back to them with new thoughts. And where do these new thoughts come from? Jesus answers, ‘If you abide in My Word.’ This means staying out of places that foster wrong thoughts and away from people who encourage wrong thoughts. It may mean changing what you watch on television. You’ll notice that before you give in to a bad habit, you think the thoughts that lead to it. The Bible says, ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ (Romans 12:2 NKJV) In the early stages of recovery from any addiction it’s critical to saturate your mind daily in the Scriptures, pray, and be willing to reach for the support of a friend (see Ecclesiastes 4:9–10). Will you sometimes fail on your way to success? Yes. But victory begins when you decide to be free, and believe God will set you free.

Why Sin Doesn’t Work

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‘We are tempted by our own desires.’ James 1:14 CEV

James writes: ‘Don’t blame God when you are tempted! God cannot be tempted by evil, and He doesn’t use evil to tempt others. We are tempted by our own desires that drag us off and trap us. Our desires make us sin, and when sin is finished with us, it leaves us dead. Don’t be fooled, my dear friends.’ (James 1:13–16 CEV) When you keep sinning and violating your values, you can reach a place where it’s hard to live comfortably in your own skin. Any appetite that’s overindulged can quickly become an addiction. What you wanted yesterday, you find yourself needing today. Then before you know it, you give yourself over to the thing that’s controlling your life because it’s the only way you can find temporary escape. Stop and ask:

(1) ‘What about my life’s purpose?’ What about the person God called you to be? Seeing the joy others have is a constant reminder of the joy you’ve lost, and what you’re missing out on.

(2) ‘What happens when trouble hits my life or my family?’ In such moments you wonder, ‘Is this happening because of me?’ A thousand voices may tell you it’s not your fault, but deep down you are never sure. The only way to find real peace is to get right with God. And you can. Here’s His offer: ‘Turn to the Lord! He can still be found. Call out to God! He is near. Give up your crooked ways and your evil thoughts. Return to the Lord our God. He will be merciful and forgive your sins.’

Moses and You

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‘God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”‘ Exodus 3:4 NKJV

Moses had all the potential in the world at forty but felt like a lost cause at eighty. Instead of doing God’s will God’s way, he tried to expedite God’s will and delayed it for four decades! At some point in our lives, most of us feel like life has passed us by. Our dream seems like a lost cause. That crisis presents us with a choice: throw in the towel, or throw our hat back in the ring. Many of us give up on our dreams because we feel like God has given up on us. But we serve a God of restoration (see Joel 2:25). The life of Moses proves that no matter how many wrong turns we’ve taken, it’s God’s grace that gets us back on track. Moses thought his past had disqualified him, but God leveraged it to prepare him for his date with destiny. No one knew the protocol of the palace like a prince of Egypt. After all, he grew up in it. And after tending sheep for forty years he knew the ways of the wilderness—the wildlife, the watering holes, the weather patterns. Moses got it wrong before he got it right, and you may too. And here’s the good news: God can use your past failures to fertilize your character and equip you with the strength and wisdom needed to do what He put you on this earth do too. The saying is true: ‘It’s wonderful what God can do with a broken life when you give Him all the pieces.’

Giving and Receiving

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‘Give, and it shall be given unto you.’ Luke 6:38 KJV

Many of us want to give to people we love and causes we believe in. But fear stops us. We’re afraid that if we give, we might not have enough left for ourselves. So instead of sowing, we hoard our seed and miss the harvest God promised us. Why? Because on some deeper level, we wonder if God would actually bless someone like us. Jesus said, ‘Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over.’ If a bank promised that kind of return on your investment you’d beat a path to their door, right? But banks can fail and bankers can’t always be trusted, whereas God has never broken a promise! Here’s an important Bible truth: when you open your hand to God, He opens His hand to you. And God has a bigger hand! But as well as learning how to give, you must learn how to receive. Jesus said, ‘Good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.’ (Luke 6:38 NIV) When God gives back to you, He often does it through people. All kinds of people! So don’t let pride or prejudice stop you from receiving from others, because God wants to give them a harvest on the seeds they sow into your life. Don’t circumvent the harvest—yours or theirs. Never hesitate to give to a true servant of God. ‘Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.’ (2 Chronicles 20:20 NKJV) When God moves you to sow a seed, it’s because He has a harvest for you to reap. Don’t miss it!

Choose To Live Victoriously

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‘We achieve this victory through our faith.’ 1 John 5:4 NLT

The Bible says, ‘Every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.’ To live victoriously you must do these three things:

(1) Restrict the devil from moving in your life. Jesus said: ‘I promise you that God in Heaven will allow whatever you allow on earth, but He will not allow anything you don’t allow. I promise that when any two of you on earth agree about something you are praying for, My Father in Heaven will do it for you. Whenever two or three of you come together in My name, I am there with you.’ (Matthew 18:18–20 CEV) Satan doesn’t want you to know you have the God-given power to restrict his movements in your life, but you do. Use it!

(2) Dare to believe and reach for what God has promised you. Paul says, ‘Whoever sows generously will also reap generously.’ (2 Corinthians 9:6 NIV) A seed is anything you plant for the desired result, and a harvest is anything you decide to receive back from God. And both require an act of faith. Not only is God your source of supply, But He’s also unlimited, impartial, and generous.

(3) Wake up the dreamer within you. The Bible says, ‘Your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on My servants, both men and women, I will pour out My Spirit in those days.’ (Joel 2:28–29 NIV) Your season of life and your gender are no problem for God. Just ask Him to rekindle your faith and refocus your vision. Choose to live victoriously!

Take Your Stand

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‘The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ Matthew 16:18 KJV

You cannot sit on the sidelines, because God has called you to the frontlines. Sometimes that means taking a stand for what is right. Jesus said, ‘I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’Note, gates are defensive measures. That means we have been called to attack the powers of hell. In 1517 a monk named Martin Luther picked a fight with the religious establishment. He challenged the status quo by attacking the selling of indulgences (licenses to sin). He posted the Ninety-Five Theses on the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and ignited the Protestant Reformation. Luther probably didn’t know that he was making history. But small acts of faith and courage have a domino effect. When we do what is right regardless of the circumstances or consequences, we set the table for God to turn the tables. At the Diet of Worms in 1521, Luther was summoned by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and put on trial for his beliefs. Instead of recanting, Luther mustered the moral courage to take a stand: ‘My conscience is taken captive by God’s Word, I cannot and will not recant anything. For to act against our conscience is neither safe for us nor open to us. On this, I take my stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.’ So, who do you need to stand up for? The homeless? The fatherless? The voiceless? Don’t let the problem overwhelm you. Don’t let what you cannot do, keep you from doing what you can.