Category Archives: David Wagner

Poor in Spirit

beatitudes-1Much has been written and preached about the “Beatitudes.” Some of which will leave you more confused than when you began. God is not the author of confusion, so with the help of the Holy Spirit, I hope to make God’s Word apply to your life.

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:3)

I think all of us would agree that we would like to be counted as one who is blessed. God has offered us a life that is full, complete, and happy. Yes, we will have trials, but our trials are not meant to define us. God offers us a blessed life if we follow His conditions.

In order to understand this verse we must look at another verse for contrast. In Revelation 3:17, God was addressing the lukewarm church of the Laodiceans. Here are His Words: “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:” The condition of the Church at Laodicea was not one of “poor in spirit,” but rather rich in spirit. Their earthly blessings had blinded them to their need for heavenly blessing. Unfortunately, many Christians gauge their success – not in the amount of Spiritual blessing – but rather in the amount of earthly accumulations. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the earthly blessings that God has given. When we take God’s blessings as proof that we are okay, and not in need of spiritual things, it makes Him sick. God said of these Christians that He would spew them out. How wicked are we to use God’s blessings on our life as an excuse to not serve God?

Our trials are not meant to define us.

To contrast the Church of Laodicea, we look at a Christian who is poor in spirit. I see the publican who prayed earnestly as opposed to the pharisee who prayed with a prideful heart. The publican knew he was poor in spirit. His heart was not filled up with pride, but empty — waiting for God to fill it. Simply stated: a person who is poor in spirit is one who comes to God empty. Their heart is not rich, increased with goods, and in need of nothing. The poor heart realizes that it is empty and in desperate need of God to fill it. His prayer may go something like this: “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.”  (Psalms 119:18)

 A person who is poor in spirit is one who comes to God empty.

It is very human to be proud and to think that we have it all together. God is there if we get into trouble but – for the most part – we have it. It is contrary to our humanness to humble ourselves before God. This, however, is what God desires of all his sons and daughters. He wants to bless our lives, but He will not put new wine into old bottles. It is our job to keep ourselves malleable, fresh, and new. We can not do this on our own, and we desperately need God’s help. Being poor in spirit does not me we drop to our knees one time and ask God for guidance. The only one time prayer is the prayer for salvation. Being poor in spirit is talking about a lifestyle that is empty before God waiting for Him to fill it.

 How wicked are we to use God’s blessings on our life as an excuse to not serve God?

Lets say you wanted to be healthy. So you ate one healthy meal, and then went back to an unhealthy diet. That one healthy meal would do little to improve your life. We expect to live Godly once or twice a week, and are surprised when we are not blessed. God is talking about a lifestyle change. Daily or even several times a day we must come before him empty asking Him to fill our spirit. These are the Christians who will enjoy the kingdom of heaven. These are the Christians who will live a life that is blessed. It takes work and commitment on our part. It is true that we are not on our own, but we must put forth the effort. The sad thing is most people will not. Some will even read this and be inspired, but only for a short time. Oh that we would open our eyes. Ask yourself this question, “Is God gagging on me right now, and am I okay with that?” 

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The Promise

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” Ps. 23:6

The Shepherd has taken us on quite a journey. We have lain in green pastures, drank from still water, walked righteous paths, and gone through the valley of the shadow of death. He has fed us, bound our wounds, and overfilled our cups. Now He wants to leave us with a promise to hold onto as we continue on our journey.

The first word “Surely” is the Shepherd’s way of telling us that we can count on this… just as surely as we can count on every thing else He has said. For the rest of my life — no matter the pain, sorrow, good times, or bad times — His goodness and His mercy will follow me. Oh, if we could only understand this concept. He is not ever going to leave you in need. He has walked the trail before many times with many sheep. He knows the danger and trials that you will face. He has provided His goodness as a gift to help us as we walk. He knows that we will struggle so He reminds us that He will always be there to provide good things for us.

It is so easy in the midst of a trial to think that God is taking a board and hitting you just for good measure. In our pain, we lash out and think that He no longer cares. Yes, the Shepherd will chastise a disobedient sheep, but He never strikes us for His pleasure. Our Shepherd is good and wants us to know His goodness is always there. We must go through trials and testing to strengthen and grow our faith. We tend to expect a Christian life in a bubble of protection; however, if you take a baby and place him in a bubble with no germs, nothing to learn, and nothing to stimulate him, he will die. As humans we need to get sick to build our immunity. We need to learn how to walk, talk, and live on our own. We need difficulty to stimulate us to persist and try again. The Christian life is no different. Just as we would provide goodness and encouragement to a child who is growing the Shepherd provides us that same goodness.

 Our Shepherd is good and He wants us to know that His goodness is always there!

As if it was not enough to have his goodness, He also provides His mercy. The Shepherd knows that we will fail Him. We were born falling short of His Glory, and salvation does not change the fact that we will fall short. Knowing this, the Shepherd has provided His mercy; not as a license to sin, but as a way to continue the journey. If not for His mercy He would strike us down on our first offense. We live our life each day in His mercy and with that mercy comes responsibility. We must rise after we have fallen. (Proverbs 24:16) “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.” His mercy demands that we get up and go on. Satan will use your falling and tempt you to remain down. The Shepherd never intended you to fall and not get up. If He did, He would never have given His mercy.

Some may ask: “Can I run out of this mercy?” According to the verse, not until He takes you home. I do believe that some sheep go home early, but as long as He gives you breath you have His mercy. In my opinion, for what it is worth, I think that many Christians who quit do so over guilt of their sin. Satan uses past failures as burdens to hold us down, but His mercy allows us to stand again.

To close it all off and finish this journey the Shepherd has taken us on, He has one more thing to say. “and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” After the journey is complete and when the path has ended – Heaven awaits. The pain of today leads to the joy of tomorrow. The trials made us able to reach more people for Christ. Our faith in the Shepherd was built to its ultimate purpose: He awaits us with nail scared hands. No longer stretched out for our sin, but now stretched our to welcome us home.

I leave Psalms 23 with some words that Paul gave those Christians at Ephesus … and having done all, to stand. Stand…
(Ephesians 6:13,14)

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The Valley

depression_by_thirsty5As I have been sitting these past few weeks thinking about the next verse my heart has struggled with how God would want this post to go. I know what my trips through the valley have been like. Each individual faces a different darkness in the valley. Let me begin by saying that the valley is a test. A test that covers a lifetime of lessons that the Shepherd has taught us. Lessons learned on the green pastures, and along still waters. Lessons taught while our soul was restored, and as we learned the right path to take. It is the ultimate test of our faith. Depending on what the Shepherd is preparing your life to accomplish you may be tested with the valley more than once.

God has never seemed so close than in the valley.

As we look at the verse there are some important things to notice. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” First of all it is the Shepherds will that you walk through the valley if His path leads through it. This means that avoiding the valley will take you out of the Will of God. We need not fear the valleys, and our Shepherd is so wise that He anticipated our fear. “I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.“ Psalms 23:4 It is important to know that the valley contains evil. I am reminded of when Satan went to God over Job. What the Shepherd wants us to understand is that we need not to fear the evil. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18 His love for us allows us to understand the Shepherd is there even if we do not see Him. Although in the valley, God may seem distant, this is a test of our faith. The same rod and staff He used to guide us in the storms on the pastures, and alongside still waters is there to comfort us. How much comfort we receive is directly connected to how well we learned the lessons of the pasture and waters.

There are some amazing blessings to be found in the valley. “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.“ Psalms 23:5 The first blessing is a table set before the enemy. Understand that we are at our most relaxed and vulnerable while we are sitting at a table. Soldiers do not pack a table in their backpack. We however in the valley have a table of blessings prepared for us. It is not the Will of the Shepherd to test you, and then leave you vulnerable to the enemy. So while the enemy watches the Shepherd feeds us. That is the power of the Shepherd; He can stop the trial at any time. Notice also in this valley our heads are anointed with oil. This is done to refresh us from the trial we have experienced.

Many sheep miss the blessings of the valley because they become weary in well doing.

Then we have my favorite part. Our cups are filled till running over. One of the things I have found in the valley is our cups seem to get drained. Not only of the blessings of the Shepherd, but also from the unclean things we have put into it. The valley tends to clean out my cup. Into this empty cup He fills Himself till it is overflowing. What would you rather that the Shepherd pour his blessings on top of your cup filled with yourself, or that He fills your empty cup up with Himself.

Notice here that with no valley there is no table, no oil, and no cup. The refining fire of trials makes room for all of these things. It is sad however that so many sheep enter the valley, but do not continue through it. It is the Shepherd’s will that you go all the way through the valley. Many sheep miss the blessings of the valley because they become weary in well doing. They faint before the blessings. They take an event the Shepherd intended to make them stronger, and walk out of the fold.

It is true that the valley hurts. It is lonely. It is tiring. It can seem never ending. Let me say however from personal experience: the table of blessing is worth it, the refreshing oil is worth it, and the cup overflowing is worth it. God has never seemed so close than in the valley. There are a lot of things I may never do again on this Earth. I will however continue to walk on green pastures and along still waters down paths of righteousness that lead through valleys to blessings.

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The Shepherd Knows the Way

If we are not careful, one of the most frustrating things about being a Christian is trying to know what God’s will is for our lives. We know in times past He spoke to Israel with moving clouds, called Samuel by name, made Gideon’s fleece wet, and sent His angles to talk. We may sometimes wish for direction just as clear as that, and not realize that we have something better.

First of all we must understand that the Shepherd does have a plan for His sheep. Continuing with Psalms 23:3, “ …he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” From the green pastures through the dark valleys He has promised never to leave or forsake us. In discussing restoration from the first part of the verse we know that sometimes He leads us though places that are a real test of faith.

A step forward in the will of God is always a step of faith.

Sometimes the problem is not that we do not understand where the Shepherd wants us to go, as much as it is that we do not want to go there. In truth, a step forward in the will of God is always a faith-step. Too many sheep walk haltingly, fearful of what the next step will bring. Our walk for God should be just as confident as our walk down the street. Take each step of faith, understanding that all the other steps in God’s will just bring us closer to Him.

A Righteous Path

Consider the path that the Psalms has laid out before us… There is no need to fear in the will of God. We must trust that His leading will always take us down the correct path. The path He leads us in is a righteous path. We know that there is no righteousness in us, but that does not stop us from walking down the righteous path. We must walk confidently knowing that whatever the path might bring, it is a righteous path we walk. The reason is even greater: we walk, “for his names sake.” Stop and think about this, would you? The Shepherd leads us along a righteous path for HIM. As Christians, we have the opportunity to walk for His name.

Here I am just a dirty little sheep. My Shepherd chose me and bought me with His blood. I no longer have to worry about where I am headed because He leads me. You get that? He leads me personally. The path I take for Him will always be a righteous path. I am a little ambassador for my Shepherd. I walk for His name’s sake. He chose me and He directs my path.

The Nuts and Bolts

When the Shepherd directs you down a righteous path, do not leave the path unless you are sure that the Shepherd is changing your path. What was God’s will, will continue to be God’s will, until He changes it. If the Shepherd wants you to change paths He will make sure that you know just what to do.

The Shepherd will never take you down an unrighteous path. Satan will tempt you to leave a path for greener pastures. He may use various methods to try to get you off the path that the Shepherd wants you on. If he can move you of the righteous path then you will not be as effective for God.

The Shepherd will always move you to be more effective “for his names sake.” If a path seems to take you from service for God, be careful. The Shepherd will train and raise you, and may even move you to be more effective for Him. We however must take our will out of the situation, and move only on His will.

For me, leaving the Pastorate was one of the hardest things I had ever done. I had pastored for the same place for seven years. I learned a lot in those seven years, and I had a blast being a pastor. God moved me before the health issues were too much trouble. They were interfering, but I could function. We moved to another Church in another state where God gave me a secular job and a home within two days. I served God in that Church as a layman until my health made that impossible. From a pastor to a homebound Christian may seem, to some, to be a downward path. The Shepherd has taken twenty-two years of service to Him to put me were I am today. I would not ever have chosen this path for myself. However, I would not trade anything for His leading me down this path for His name’s sake. That is the will of God.

Today may not seem right, but a lifetime of daily steps of faith will show you that your path is right.

So how do you find the right path for yourself? Spend time with the Shepherd. Work hard were you are. Take the steps of faith as they come. The best thing I can give you as encouragement is Psalms 46:10a, “Be still, and know that I am God:” My son recently asked me why he does not hear from God. I told him that he must learn to be still, and listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit. By the way, he has heard from God since.

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The Ship is Lost

It was a desperate situation for the captain. He had traveled a long way looking for the answers to the question about his soul. He was no longer satisfied to travel the dark seas, and had heard that there was a place filled with light. He had only to find a lighthouse to guide him on his way. Before the captain – in the darkness – stood a grand lighthouse. It had been known to shine so brightly in the past, and many had found the Kingdom of Light by its testimony. The light inside the lighthouse glowed as brilliantly as it ever had. However, the keeper of the lighthouse had become weary in his well doing. In his despondency he had ceased to keep the windows clean. The desperate Capitan would have to look for another lighthouse because this one had ceased to shine.

I continue my journey though the 23rd Psalm. This time the first part of verse three. “He restoreth my soul:” If there is any doubt of the difficulties faced on the green pastures and by the still waters the fact the the Shepherd restores our souls should settle it. Lets cut through the pleasantries and take an honest look at your soul. To many Christians are just like the lighthouse mentioned above, and way past the need for a restoration. The problem is never the Light for it always shines inside of us. Too many souls are so desperate to be restored that the light can not even penetrate into the lighthouse itself. We are discouraged, depressed, worn out, and tired. We still go to church for now, and we may still even work in ministry at our church. We are however just a shell of a Christian serving God out of a habit.

If you doubt me let me ask you one question: Were is your joy?

In Psalms 53 David pleads with God to “restore the joy of thy salvation.” One of the first things to go in a Christians life is the joy that comes with our salvation. There can be no joy in darkness. The really sad part is the number of Christians who are fine being in darkness. They would never say it, but they are as unconcerned about the lost world as they are about themselves. The Fruit of the Spirit has long since been partaken of, and Satan has victory in there lives.

Well, if I have not totally ticked you off, I will show you the good news. The Shepherd knows that you are going to need restoration. He gladly provides it. His love for us is not conditional on our obedience to Him. His fellowship with us can be affected, but He has promised never to leave us or forsake us.

So there you stand covered in dirt. Your joy is gone. Your testimony to the world is gone. You are the sheep that is standing at the edge of the flock as far from the Shepherd as you can get. I challenge you to lift up your eyes and look into the eyes of the Shepherd. For He has said, ”Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Your Shepherd stands there now, knocking on your door; waiting to restore you. You need not worry about cleaning the dirt before opening the door. He already knows it’s there, and He will wash you. Spend some close time with your Shepherd, and you will find your joy restored. See the world with His eyes, and your heart will burn for the lost.

It was a desperate situation for the captain. He had traveled a long way looking for the answers to the question about his soul. He was no longer satisfied to travel the dark seas, and had heard that there was a place filled with Light. He had only to find a lighthouse to guide him on his way. Before the captain in the darkness stood a grand lighthouse. It had been known to shine so brightly in the past, and many had found the Kingdom of Light by its testimony. The Light inside the lighthouse glowed as brilliantly as it ever had. The windows, now restored, reflected that Light far into the dark sea. The desperate captain saw the Light. His heart skipped with joy, and tears ran down his eyes. For this sheep, whom once had been lost, now had been found. His life in darkness had now been transformed into sight. This was all due to the sheep who found himself in need of restoration, and surrendered himself anew to the Shepherd.

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Green Pastures & Still Waters – but no Bed of Roses

In my opinion one of the most misunderstood passages of the twenty-third Psalm is verse 2: “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” As you read this passage, you might imagine herds of sheep eating on the green hillside and drinking in a nearby babbling brook.

What made me stop and consider was the thought that the Shepherd had to make the sheep lie down in green pastures. It would seem that life in a pleasant, green land, you would not have to make the sheep lie down. So consider with me what would make the pastures so green? Storms – of course. Remember, Psalm 23 is talking about life on Earth with the Shepherd – not life in Heaven. In Heaven the green fields will not need storms, but on Earth they do. The same applies to the Christian life. The small storms of the pasture prepare us for the dark valley ahead.

Unfortunately, too many Christians are ill-prepared for the Christian life.

We must realize that a life of faith is grown. Look at the lives of great men of faith – men like Abraham, David, and Moses were not born as men of great faith – they were grown. The small difficulties faced on the green pastures of their lives grew their faith. Yes, it is true that God provided for their need on the pasture, but he also taught them. The sheep will jump into any water to drink. It is up to the Shepherd to lead him to the water that is safe to drink. It is the responsibility of the sheep to learn to listen to the Shepherd. That is the true purpose of the time spent in green pastures and by still waters. These are the places were we learn the voice of the Shepherd. We learn to walk where He says; we learn to lay down when He says. The reason for the storm becomes less important as learning to trust Him becomes more important.

Dr. Lee Roberson led me to Christ as a 5 year old boy. I can still hear him in my head saying, “Have faith in God.” As we grow in the Christian life, we will be tested. There will come a day that you face a valley. It will be dark, and you may not see the hand of the Shepherd like you did on the pasture. It may only be His still small voice that encourages you on. If you have not learned to listen for His voice you will be lost when the valley comes. It is easy to enjoy the green of the pastures and the stillness of the water and to take for granted that the Shepherd is trying to train you. We bristle as sheep against the rod and the staff. We want to live our way.

A sheep who has not learned the basics of the rod and staff will wonder off the path.

I can not emphasis enough the importance of learning the lessons of faith early. As a teenager, I took a softball to the head. I spent my 18th birthday in a hospital bed unable to move. For the first time in my life nobody could help me. The only person who knew what was really going on was my Shepherd. After a month of the doctors shaking their heads, I slowly began to learn to walk again. That step of faith back there seems so small compared to the level of faith I need for my daily walk today. I claim to be no great Christian, but I have learned to take steps by faith. The Shepherd has had many lessons for me. Each new loss of ability seems like a giant storm coming my way. It is in those times that the Shepherd makes me lie down in the green pastures. It is when I am desperately thirsty for some life-giving water that He leads my beside those refreshing, still waters.

I can testify that I have seen many storms come by, but I must also testify that the Shepherd has always been faithful. The storms may swirl around me so strong that I can not see the hand of the Shepherd. It is in those times that His still small voice breaks through the storm. It is those times that the rod and staff comfort me. If I had waited till the storm came to learn His voice it would have been too late. The time to learn the voice of the Shepherd is when the sun is shining on the pasture.

My friend, you will face storms in life.
The faith you have in the Shepherd will be tested.

Each opportunity for faith will be one step outside of what you think you can do. The decision you face is this: Will you learn from the Shepherd, or will you try to live the Christian life alone? Think about it this way… If your faith is never tested than you can never grow in faith. I will tell you this, I do not have the faith to stand in front of a million people and stretch my rod out over the Red Sea and expect God to part the water. That is not my test nor is it yours. I can tell you this though, that when Moses acted in faith God parted the water. The question is not if God can do something, but rather will He use you to do something. Learn to walk in faith, and give God the resource to do great things. 

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The Lord is My Shepherd

I would to take you on a journey with me through the 23rd Psalm. This passage of scripture has been a profound blessing to me, as well as in my ministry. Here are some lessons God has given me.

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” This first verse contains a wonderful blessing for the child of God. This verse establishes both our position, and our possession. The little word “my” sets the tone for the whole chapter. This is a personal Psalm, and it has many applications for our Christian life.

Our position is clear here in this first verse the LORD is the shepherd and we are His sheep. His intent is to provide us the things necessary that we need to be good sheep. He will provide us with pasture and water to take care of our need. He will guide us with rod and staff to train us to hear Him. He will teach us the path to take. He will grow us so that we will walk the hard path without His continual voice. As sheep we are prone to wander. The grass that is across the way looks much better to us. The water provided is not as convenient as others. We resent and rebel the rod and the staff. We want to choose our own path. We will obey as far as we can see.

As our shepherd, the Lord does not abandon us as we struggle to do our own thing. His Holy Spirit works in our heart. Our sin is forgiven and our return to the fold is welcomed. It is true that oil is provided for our healing, however scars remain to remind us of our wandering.

Look through my eyes as I look at the Shepherd. I see One who knows me. I see One who loves me. I see One who bore my sins. I see One who died for me. I see One who picks me up, and looks me over to make sure I am not wounded. I see One who combs the dirt of the world out of my wool. I see One who comforts me when I fear. I see One who holds me when I cry. His wish for me is that I obey and fulfill His purpose in my life. He is my personal Shepherd. Religions promote their gods — gods of wood and of stone — gods who can not feel or care. Their gods are dead, and yet they serve them out of fear. Those who do not worship the true God are left without a Shepherd. Yes, our God is a jealous God, One that we should fear, but He is also the God who loves us and has provided for us a Shepherd.

This is not the only verse that deals with the provision of the Lord in our life. Picture a herd of sheep calmly moving along the path. These sheep do not have a worry in the world. Their faith and trust is in the provision of the shepherd. Oh, that we Christians could learn to live without want. We are not content with what the shepherd has provided us, but want what the shepherd has provided others. Many of us go so far as to covet our neighbors goods. We look at the blessings the Shepherd has given others, and we grow bitter with the blessings the Shepherd has given us.

The verse does not promise us we will never have needs. How can we grow our faith if we never have need? How can the Shepherd provide a blessing if there is no need? The life without want comes by walking along with the Shepherd and realizing what is important. We have been so blessed that sometimes we become carnally-minded and want after the things of the world. Living a life close to the Shepherd makes us become more like Him and makes our desires more like His.

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Who Would Carry You?

It is a sad commentary on Christianity that so many Christians stand opposed to their brothers and sisters in the faith. We have lost sight of the power God has given over our friends. We have allowed the world, flesh, and devil to keep our eyes focused on ourselves and we miss an opportunity to be a blessing.

In Matthew, Mark, and Luke we find a retelling of mighty faith that impressed Jesus. We find a man who was afflicted with palsy. We are not told the severity of his case, but in many cases a person has no ability to move. They are, in effect, paralyzed.

Jesus had come to Capernaum, and there was a great crowd of people who came to hear him. There were so many people there that the doors and windows were packed with people. The crowd pressed to hear Jesus. Into this crowd we see four men carrying a paralyzed man on a cot. We do not know the distance they had traveled, but they were there on a mission: to get the paralyzed man to Jesus.

We know that they tried to get into the house every possible way. They could not get through the door or windows. In desperation, they went to the roof and cut away a hole and lowered this man down.

Can you imagine the dust and debris that rained upon those in the house? This paralyzed man had just made a dramatic entrance. He now laid at the foot of Jesus. In the retelling of the event in four Gospels, we find the same response from Jesus: “When He saw their faith…” Not the faith of the crowd. Not the faith of the religious leaders present. Not the faith of the paralyzed man. When He saw ‘their faith’ He said, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.”

Let me stop and say that nowhere in the Bible do I see that my faith in Christ is enough to get someone else to Heaven; however, we cannot overlook the power of the faith in Christ that these four men exercised. The Bible speaks as to the rarity of these men.

Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?  Proverbs 20:6

I think that many times we think that our Christian life is one we must walk alone. We do our best to be a man of faith. We are able to accomplish some things for God, but for some reason we just cannot seem to get where God wants us to be. I believe the key is having friends of faith. A paralyzed man was healed because he had friends of faith. He could not go to Christ. Upon meeting Christ he could probably not speak. The one thing that he had in his favor was four friends of faith. Four friends who did not give up when the task seemed impossible. Four friends who did not quit, in spite of the stare of their peers. For friends who made quite a racket getting their friend to Jesus.

I believe to have friends of faith that we must be a friend of faith.

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.  Proverbs 18:24

We have many brothers in Christ, but how few friends of faith. I think that this verse may be applying to those friends.

As Christians I think you would agree that we have an obligation to be a man of faith. I think that, that goes further. I believe God would have us be a friend of faith. We should be someone who takes their faith in God and uses it to help others. Do you have a friend that you are there for? Are you willing to take up their cot, and help them in their faith? We all struggle at times in our life, but what would God allow with four friends of faith working with you? How much stronger would our marriages, homes, and churches be if they were filled with men who had four friends of faith? I fear we are in a place where we do not know.

We have not, because we have asked not. 

The power of four friend’s faith was enough for Christ to heal him enough so that withered limbs received strength and he walked. What is God waiting to do for us, but for the lack of friends of faith? Who will carry you?

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Remembering the One Who Will Never Forget

As part of God’s work in my life he has allowed me to have many different illnesses. Of all the things He has chosen to bless me with, dementia is the hardest to deal with. It was two years ago when the physiologist told me about early onset dementia. Sitting in my family doctor’s office a few months ago, he asked me if I was scared to lose my mind. Thankfully, so far it has only been little things. Forgetting how to do simple tasks, forgetting who people are, and sometimes – like a blanket thrown over me – I forget it all.

I cannot put into words the concern I was under about forgetting God. For these many years of my ministry He has been my constant companion. I do not know how I would get through a day without the special touch He gives me each day. To lose that connection would be unbearable.

The Holy Spirit brought to mind the last part of Hebrews 13:5. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake me.” I have that part of a verse burned into a small wooden plaque I can hold in my hand. There is a picture of God’s Hand, and the verse. During dystonic storms and times of confusion, I hold this in my hand to give me strength. There is no magic in the wood… the power comes from the Word of God.

One other scripture the Holy Spirit gave me was John 10:27-30. In these verses, God tells us that He holds us in His hand. In this place I am safe, and no one could take me from God.

The answer was not what I thought it would be. I thought I would find that you could never forget God no matter what. The evidence of my studies, however, took me to another place. God could not forget me. God would never leave me. God would never forsake me. God would never let me out of His hand. I may forget God, but He would never forget me. What is stronger that I have a hold of Him, or that He has a hold of me? I can slip, and I can get tired; God, however, holds me in His hand.

So nothing really will ever change. He has held me though over 23 years of ministry. Seven years of Bus Ministry, seven years of pastoring, seven years of working with a local church, and two years of total disability. In all that time He has never left me. There have been hard times, but He has not left. There have been others who have left, but He has remained. In all that time he has never forsaken me. Sadly, there have been people who have forsaken me. Some good friends in ministry have walked away. In all that time He has never taken me out of His hand. If I take a look back at what He has done, how can I fear that He would not continue?

Herein is true faith. We must trust that God will continue to do what He has promised even when we are unable to be aware of it. We must realize that we might not always remember the One who will never forget. God has promised to keep on remembering us.

I wish to say something to those to whom God’s blessings are health and a sound mind. My walk with God began way before I became ill. The faith I have today is a result of the faith of yesterday. I did not wait until I became ill to start living for God. Your today is very precious. The things you do for God today will effect your tomorrow. As I look back on my years of ministry, it seems that each step ended before I was ready. I miss working with children on buses. I miss being a pastor. I miss being a Sunday School teacher and superintendent. Those days are behind me now. Today, my ministry is one of edification. Whatever God is allowing you to do for Him today; do it with all your heart. I am not trying to lift myself up in your eyes. I am rather hoping to lift your eyes to Him.

Every day God gives is a gift that should not be despised. If today was the last day you were able to serve God in the capacity that you do, how would you serve? The day will come to me and others with dementia were our service for God will be out of our hands. Until that day, take the gift of today and use your talent to serve God.

Article by David Wagner

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Striving to Become a Weak Christian

Since you are still reading, I see the title did not turn you off… Many Christians strive to be strong for God, and they fail. They go along for awhile okay; then the world, the Devil, and their flesh drag them down. It is true that God wants strong Christians, but I dare say that most Christians are going about it the wrong way.

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. “   2 Corinthians 12:9-10

This lesson is one of the first that God taught me as I started down the road of disability. It is taken from the second chapter of my book: Overwhelmed By the Storms? You see, disability is a simple word; it means not having the ability. For me it is a long list of things I can not do anymore. It was during this initial phase of losing ability, that God spoke to me in the verse above.

I had things that I had loved doing for God. In His perfect wisdom, He was taking those things away from me. I was not someone who wanted to quit pastoring or working for a church; those things delighted me. I had, however, no more strength to do those things. I felt like I was a weak Christian. My study on grace, brought me to this special verse on weakness. Notice what God says: My grace (God’s grace) is sufficient for thee: for my strength (God’s strength) is made perfect in weakness (my weakness). There is a condition for God’s grace and strength: it is my weakness. God knows my humanity, and He knows well my limitations. He created me with humanity, and limitations. God, knowing this, provided his grace and strength to allow me to be strong for Him – but only when I realized my weakness.

It may seem strange that Paul would glory in his infirmities; however, Paul had found out that those infirmities allowed God’s power to take over in his life. If you are strong, you do not have much need for any other strength. If you are weak though, you are looking for anything to help you become a little stronger. When God took my ability to walk normally away, He provided a motorized wheelchair for free use. Spiritually-speaking, as I handed over my weaknesses to Him, He took them and made them strengths. I have had the opportunity to share Christ with people I would have never met if I not had this disability.

You most likely do not have my particular disability, but all humans have adversity in life. We all have times when we are weak. Paul called those times pleasurable. Why would Paul call adversity pleasurable? It is only at those times that you need the hand of God in your life when you realize how great it is to have the hand of God in your life. If you never have a need, you would never need a blessing. What do you give the man who thinks he has it all? You can give him nothing.

Yes, God does want strong Christians, but the only way He can get them is to make them realize that they have need. God wants to strengthen you. God wants to fill you with His power. You, however, cannot put anything into a cup that is already full. We must empty ourselves of the thought that we can do it. We can and must be better Christians. It is time that we let the Holy Spirit use us as a glove. We must realize it is His grace and His strength that will get you through a day. He does not want you to try and do something for Him. Christians, we must stop trying. It is time we realize that without His grace and His strength we will always fail. You will fail at your marriage, you will fail with your kids, you will fail with your ministry, and you will fail in your relationship to God. Your kids, your spouse, and your ministry deserve more than someone trying their best! They deserve someone who is living with His grace and strength.

We must strive to be weak Christians. I am not talking about being lazy; I am talking about becoming a Christian who realizes that without God I can “do nothing.” Let’s become Christians who realized that, with God, everything He asks us to do is possible.

Article by David Wagner

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