The Weekly PowerBreak – “Need some help?”

Help is what we all need.  We need help in a variety of areas and a variety of ways, but one thing for sure is that we need help.  Admitting your need of help is an important part of receiving help.  When one feels no need of help it forces that person to try to make it on their own and the result is never good.  Jesus said it very clearly when it comes to doing life:

John 15:4–5 (ESV) — 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

We need His help in every aspect of life.  Who do we think we are when we go around and think we do not need help?  Such arrogance!  But we all do it.

Samuel, the prophet, pointed out to King Saul one time that when he was little in his own eyes, in other words, he knew he needed God’s help, then God made him king.  But the occasion proved Saul’s lack of feeling small because he totally disobeyed the commandment of the Lord, proving to Samuel that Saul now felt himself too big to need God’s help so God took away the position of leadership.

1 Samuel 15:17 (ESV) — 17 And Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel.

1 Samuel 15:22–23 (ESV) — 22 And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”

Before Jesus went to the cross he taught His disciples that He was soon to die, rise from the dead, and soon thereafter ascend to the Father.  But He assured them that He would not leave them in a comfortless state like orphans, rather He would come to their aid as He would send the Holy Spirit to them.

John 14:18 (ESV) — 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

John 14:18 (KJV) — 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

John 14:26 (ESV) — 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

One of the things the Holy Spirit does is to assure us of our standing as God’s children, in placing within our hearts the “family language” that shows up the clearest when we go through times of difficulty.  Notice how He, the Holy Spirit, is also referenced as “the Spirit of His Son” and “the Spirit of Adoption.”  God demonstrates how we belong to His family in giving us the Spirit of His Son, who is Jesus manifest to us in the person of the Holy Spirit, Who by the cry in our hearts shows us that, being adopted to the family, we have the same cry as Jesus addressed His Father.  And that cry comes out clearest whenever we pray, but particularly when we are in a moment of suffering.

Galatians 4:6 (ESV) — 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

Romans 8:14–17 (ESV) — 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Picture the toddler who falls while running and the first thing he does is cry for his daddy.  Whenever we find ourselves in need we cry to God, it’s the work of the Holy Spirit to help us as He instills the “family cry” to God the Father.  Not only does He do that in drawing us to cry to God, but He helps us as we pray.

Romans 8:26–27 (ESV) — 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

We have a gracious Heavenly Father who not only sent His Son to die for us, but as Jesus sends His Spirit into our hearts, aka the Holy Spirit, our cry to God is a cry of one of His children.  That same Holy Spirit then helps us to pray and lift our heavy burdens with groanings too deep for words.

Need some help?  You’ve got it!  And it all flows from God’s grace through our Lord Jesus Christ.  With all the help God provides isn’t it pretty stupid to act like you don’t need His help?  But that is exactly what you do whenever you do not take time to pray.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

The Weekly PowerBreak – “What is your heart’s desire?”

If God has made the promise …

Psalm 37:4 (ESV) — 4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

What is your heart’s desire?

Now some would make us think God is giving us carte blanche to come up with anything in the world and just name it and claim it.  But that is too small when it comes to the things of God.  Why should you tie yourself to your imaginations, which are not only small compared to God’s purpose and design, but also exceedingly corrupt.

Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV) — 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Ephesians 3:14–21 (ESV) — 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

So what are we to do? Go back to the text in Psalm 37.

Psalm 37:1–7 (ESV) — 1 Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! 2 For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. 3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. 6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. 7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!

What is the heart’s desire?

  • To be vindicated.  God reminds the psalmist that He has complete control over those who would do him harm so there is no reason to fret.
  • To receive blessing from God. God reminds the psalmist to be concerned with trusting God and doing the right thing and God will take care of the rest in providing what the psalmist needs and taking care of the apparent enemies.

The bottom line is in verse 4 as God reminds the psalmist to delight himself in the Lord and God will give him his heart’s desire.  It’s kind of like the reminder God gives about enjoying the Sabbath.  God says when you set out to enjoy His day, then you will find enjoyment from Him.

Isaiah 58:13–14 (ESV) — 13 “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; 14 then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Likewise, when we set out and seek out a greater desire to know the Lord Jesus Christ, honor Him, worship Him, and commune with Him, then we receive the desire of our heart.

Is the Lord Jesus Christ your heart’s desire?

Stop and think about how much you desire Him.  How much time do you seek to commune with Him?  How do you treat His word – both the reading and preaching of the word?  How is your prayer life?  How do you treat His bride, the church?  How often do you ask God for a greater desire to know, love, and serve the Lord Jesus Christ?

If He is not really your heart’s desire, then what is?  Anything other than Him will fade, but He will grow brighter and brighter as you take in more of Him.  No wonder Paul wrote the following:

Philippians 3:7–11 (ESV) — 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

The Weekly PowerBreak – “From Prehab To Rehab”

As you read this, I’m home after surgery this past Monday and on my way to a time of rehab for a total knee replacement. As I approached this surgery, I wanted to prepare as best I could, so I went into prehab mode of thinking – an idea I heard about from a major league baseball trainer. He said the best way to prepare for surgery is to begin rehab before the surgery, which he called “prehab.” As he pointed out, the more you do prehab, the better you’ll do in the post-surgery rehab. It made sense to me, so I’ve been working hard leading up to today’s surgery.

John 16:33 (ESV) — 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Romans 5:3–5 (ESV) — 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV) — 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Romans 8:35–37 (ESV) — 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

This principle of prehab leading to rehab is a biblical principle as well. The Bible is clear that all of us will face temptations, persecutions, tribulation and difficulties that set us back. Sometimes these moments of crisis will knock us down or maybe even bring defeat in our lack of faith response. However, by God’s grace, we can apply Biblical principles and get back in the race and even be stronger than before. Here’s the key: If we will apply the Biblical principles before we face trials and difficulties, we will be stronger in the time of difficulty; therefore, the greater will be our growth and recovery from the difficulty.

How does prehab look for a Christian? First, it begins by keeping our focus upon the author and finisher of our faith, the Lord Jesus Christ. Being a Christian is not doing the right things, that flows from our faith and love for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2:8–10 (ESV) — 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Hebrews 12:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

How do you keep your focus on Him? Through prayer and the study of His word. It’s the same whether in the prehab mode or rehab mode. A believer needs to keep their focus upon Christ and that is done through prayer and meditation upon His word. That means you take advantage of every opportunity you can to hear the word proclaimed and taught, as well as every opportunity to pray in your private time with God as well as public times of prayer in the setting of the church. Look what happens when we lose our focus! Jesus calls it losing your first love. In other words, Christianity has become a “religion” of doing out of necessity, instead of doing out of love for Him for what He has done for you.

Revelation 2:3–5 (ESV) — 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

The second important part of prehab as well as rehab is living out what we are taking in through prayer and meditation of God’s word.

Luke 6:46–49 (ESV) — 46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49 But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

That means great effort to not treat our devotional life as just an input or download of information. How is He changing your life by what you are reading, hearing preached, and your time in prayer? If you are still living in bitterness and unconfessed sin, God’s word does not have a place in your life and you are neither in prehab nor rehab mode – but you need to be.

Bottom line is this: don’t give up if you have fallen or you are finding yourself in great difficulty, God offers rehab through His word and through fellowship with Him via prayer. If you do not consider yourself in rehab mode at this present time, then it’s time to prehab because you can be sure it’s coming.

Thank you for praying for me as I recover from surgery and make my way through rehab.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

The Weekly PowerBreak – “Sellout or Minimalist?”

There’s a phenomenon that is overtaking endurance training known as “minimalist training.”  The advocates of minimalist training are quick to point out the typical endurance athlete over trains by thinking, “if some is good a lot is better.”  As a result, many, if not most, endurance athletes go to competitions in a state of being worn out.  So the minimalist trainer says, “just do what you have to do and no more.”

Although a minimalist mindset seems to be working for many today in endurance sports, it’s really cheating Christians as they short change God by giving Him the minimum to just get by. This “get by” attitude was the topic of discussion of many people in the days of Jesus. “What is the minimum requirement to say we kept the law?”  It’s interesting that Jesus’ answer does not advocate a minimalist attitude, rather a “sellout everything to God” attitude.

Mark 12:28–34 (ESV) — 28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.

How about you?  Are you looking to do the minimum when it comes to serving God so you can look the part, or are you living a “sold out” life to Him?  Anything less than excellence as in giving your best would be actually robbing from God. Consider why we offer ourselves to be consumed as an offering to God – because of what He has done for us!

Romans 12:1–2 (ESV) — 1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Jesus said that a “sell out” attitude is required of His followers.

Luke 9:23–26 (ESV) — 23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Luke 14:33 (ESV) — 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

God told His people that when they gave less than their best, they robbed from Him.

Malachi 3:8 (ESV) — 8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions.

Malachi 1:13 (ESV) — 13 But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord.

Or consider how Solomon reminds us the way an unfaithful servant is perceived by a master who is counting on him to do his best:

Proverbs 25:19 (KJV) — 19 Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble Is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.

So wait before you subscribe to minimalist training when it comes to serving the Lord Jesus Christ.  It may make sense to be smart and not do so much if you are training for an endurance event, but that attitude toward serving God is an offense because it implies service to the King is not worthy of your best.

What will it be for the Lord Jesus Christ – sellout or minimalist?

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

The Weekly PowerBreak – “Great Expectation”

What does God expect from us? Well that depends on what He has given us or done for us.  Creation speaks of God’s eternal power and divine nature that everyone who denies God His proper honor in submission is without excuse and shall be judged accordingly.

Romans 1:18–23 (ESV) — 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

However, those who have been blessed by God to know and follow Him have a continued responsibility to use what has been given to them as they grow in the grace and knowledge of God through what He has given them already.

Ephesians 2:8–10 (ESV) — 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Luke 12:43–48 (ESV) — 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 45 But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

Let’s hone in on this concept of God’s expectation of you. It’s evident through the teaching of Scripture that God holds you to a higher standard to whom He has revealed His truth. The standard He expects is to take whatever has been given or revealed and use it to His glory to which He rewards with more revealed truth and understanding. Jesus gave us the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 in which two out of three servants who had taken what was given them and doubled it were then given more. Whereas the one of the three that did nothing, not only had what had been given to him taken away, he was also thrown into utter darkness. The lesson being this: God holds you responsible to take what has been given to you and use it to His glory, thereby multiplying. As you do He gives more but with more comes more responsibility. When that is used to His glory then He gives more, etc. On the other hand, when we do not use what He has given to us, He judges us as “worthless servants” or servants who bring no value. Granted, we hold to the truth that none of us are saved by works and this has nothing to do with our justification, that is all by grace. However, when God has been gracious to us in saving us, He lavishes great gifts of grace in understanding the mysteries of His will. It is to those who have been so graciously blessed that He reminds, “to whom much is given, much is required.”

You can’t get away from responsibility. There is no easy chair to sit and do nothing in the Kingdom of God. If you are a Christian, you have responsibility to use what you have been given. Too many Christians spend their lives taking in but never putting forth the effort to minister to others, as in mentoring or discipling even though Jesus made it clear in the “Great Commission” that Christians are “to go and make disciples…” When Christians are not using their gifts, talent, and knowledge to the glory of God they become like Moses described the children of Israel in Deuteronomy as He said they “grew fat and kicked.”

Deuteronomy 32:15–16 (ESV) — 15 “But Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked; you grew fat, stout, and sleek; then he forsook God who made him and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation. 16 They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods; with abominations they provoked him to anger.

It’s a pretty good sign of disobedience to God’s expectation when His people murmur and complain yet feel like they are pleasing God by taking in preaching, teaching, conferences, etc. “To whom much is given, much is required.” Are you living up to God’s expectation of all He has given you?

If not, thank God for His truth that brings us to repent of our ways and find grace to set a new path of serving Him.

Proverbs 28:13 (ESV) — 13 Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker