Archive for the ‘faith’ Category

What to do when you are scared (Psalm 129-131; Hosea 10)

November 4, 2014

“But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with it’s mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.”  Psalm 131:2

The past few months world news has been dominated by the Ebola virus which is claiming the lives of many people in West Africa.  In the United States there is much fear as people scramble to determine what to do with this deadly virus.  Certainly we must pray that our leaders are given godly wisdom and are granted the answer for this virus.

Recently I was in a prayer meeting where a person spoke with genuine concern and fear about this situation.  As I thought about their mental state I was reminded of one of our scripture readings, “Psalm 131”

Here the Psalmist is considering things that are extremely deep and extremely intense.  It is clear that the things he is considering are too great and beyond his ability to understand.  But instead of being scared, he simply turns to the Lord.

Think it through:

“I will not occupy myself…” 

The Psalmist knew that if he did occupy himself with constant though of his circumstances, he would become deflated and defeated.  These were things that he could do nothing about.

So he choses to come before the Lord and cast his burdens before the Lord.

Notices what he does next:  “He positions himself as a child with his mother.”

Here is the deal:

1.  Take the position of humility knowing that you are not the parent (God is in charge of the events of this life).

2.  Occupy the position of faith (As a child leaves the details to his parents, so too must we leave all in God’s trustworthy hands).

Romans 12:16 “Never be wise in our own sight”

Our response:

Jesus wants us to become as a child in our humility in trusting Him with our very souls, Matt. 18:3.  This day I know we can rest in the assurance that our Lord cares for us, Matt. 6:33.  We can face this day knowing our Lord is not scared and He is not going to be overcome by our enemy (Ephesians 6:10:13).

When you are scared, it should be a clear reminder that you are trying to take the place of God.  In these moments, relinquish your position to the only one who is qualified to hold the position of leader.

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Do Not Forget (Psalm 74; Ezekiel 26)

September 23, 2014

“Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild beasts; do not forget the life of your poor forever.”  Psalm 74:19

Question:  “Do you ever forget?”  Answer, “What are you talking about?  What have I forgotten?”  This was the conversation between a mother and her child as the mother was trying to get her child to own up to forgetting what he was supposed to do.

In life, especially as we get older, it is easy to forget things.  Question;  “Do you ever think God forgets?”  This question is front and center in Psalm 74.  The people of Israel have lost their nation, their homes, their temple, and their joy.  The first 11 verses of Psalm 74 describe these devastations.

Think it through:

It would seem as if God were doing nothing about the problems before His people.  But the opposite is the case, God has not forgotten His people.  Every second of every day God knows what is happening with His people.  The fact is, the people were facing the judgment of God against the sinful lifestyle they were living.  It was also the same for the world as well.  Ezekiel 26 gives us a prime example of this.

There are moments when it seems as if God has forgotten, at least it seems this way when we forget to think about God correctly.

Beginning in Vs: 12, the writer brings us back to right thinking.  Two things stand out:

1.  God’s power is never shortened, Vs: 12-18

We serve a God who created everything, rules over everything, and work’s mightily as He choses.

2.  God’s promised are never side-stepped, Vs: 19-20

God never forgets His covenant promises.  He never fails to care for the poor.  He never fails to move on behalf of those who love Him.

Yes, there are moments when it seems as if God has forgotten.  But be assured He is an on-time God.  Paul helps us to see this in Galatians 4:4, “But when the fulness of time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”

Our response:

I believe God never forgets.  When I am tempted to believe otherwise, the cross stands as a reminder that God never forgets.  This very day I challenge you to believe in both the power and promises of the cross!!!  The cross will help you to never forget.

More than, “I am sorry,” (Psalm 51; Ezekiel 12)

September 9, 2014

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise,” Psalm 51:17

It was becoming obvious, the statement, “I am sorry,” was simply a way of trying to get out of punishment. This became clear to the parent as his child showed no signs of being truly sorry.

Question, “What does it really mean when a person is sorry for their sin?”

We find our answer in Psalm 51.

The Psalmist (David) has been confronted with his sin which is well chronicled in II Samuel 11-12.  He is now before the Lord.  It is clear that this man is sorry for his sin.

Think it through:

I.  David understood his position as a sinner.

As with every person, David was born as a sinner, Vs: 5.  This speaks of original sin being imputed to every man.  As with every person, David was broken as a sinner, Vs: 4.  His sin was against God.  Because of this sin, he had lost fellowship with God.  David is miserable at the beginning of Psalm 51.

2.  David understood the pain of sin.

David had engaged in adultery, murder, and cover-up.  He knew he could do nothing to reconcile the situation. David pleaded for the mercy of God.

3.  David understood the path to salvation.

David repents of his sin in Vs: 16-17.  David seeks the redemption that only Christ can bring, Vs: 7-10.  David walks the path to restoration and joy in Vs: 12-15.

Our response:

I want to challenge you to spend time today, walking through this passage.  Allow yourself to really see the text, interact with the text, and apply the text.

We see the same path of more than I am sorry illustrated in Luke 15:17-24.  Read the passage and ask yourself the following question, “Have I come to the place where I am more than sorry?”  Also ask yourself this question, “Am I teaching others about being more than sorry?”

If I could Go back (Psalm 42-43; Ezekiel 5)

September 2, 2014

“Why are you cast down, oh my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?  Hope in God for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”  Psalm 42:5

Imagine the scene, “here is a person who cannot possible stand where they are any longer.  They are in a foreign land facing trials on every hand.  All they can think of is the place where they used to live.”

Question:  “What was back there in the place where they used to live?”

This was the heart of missionary Sam Hughes as he and his family were forced to leave the Ukraine during the recent uprising in that nation.  For months Sam, Melissa, and the two children had to return to the states to await the outcome.  Finally, by God’s grace they are back in the region ministering the gospel. Please pray for their ministry!!!

Their story and the Psalmist story brings up a deeper point.  Where is the place where you and I should always long to be?

Think it through:

The Psalmist wanted to be in the Temple of the Lord.  He describes his longing as that of a deer who is running and is in need of a drink from the water of  a fresh spring, 42:1.  This metaphor speaks about the relationship one can have with Jesus as the living water, John 4:12-13.  This metaphor also speaks of the blessed Holy Spirit that lives within every follower of Christ, I Corinthians 6:19-20.

The Psalmist knew that if he could go back into the temple, he would feel the sweet fellowship and direction of God.

Brothers and sisters, unlike the Psalmist you and I have the honor of God’s presence (through the Holy Spirit) in our lives not only on Sunday but in every day!!!  We do not have to look back to last Sunday, we can look to this day and experience His presence and His direction in our lives.

The Key, “You have to both desire his filling and dedicate yourself to faithfulness.”  In this way, “His leadership will guide you, protect you, and strengthen you as you face each new day!”

Our response:

May we hear and trust in the same God who spoke to Paul in Acts 18:9-10, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will harm and attack you..”

Peace In The Night (Psalm 3-4; Jeremiah 33)

August 5, 2014

“You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound,” Psalm 4:7

“It just did not last long enough!”  This was my comment a few years ago as Sherry and I talked about an extended time of vacation.  I can still remember how quickly the days passed.  Question, “Do the things of this life really satisfy?”

Matt Chandler explores this question in his recent book release, “Recovering Redemption.”  In chapter 2 Chandler lists 4 attempts to recover redemption.  Here is his list:  1.  We want to have redemption in our own efforts.  2.  We want to find redemption in others lives.  3.  We want to find redemption in the world.  4.  We seek to find redemption in religion.

All of these efforts fall short of what David had discovered.  Only in Christ can we truly find a restoration with God.  This restoration brings about peace even in the night-times of adversity.

Notice David’s redeemed life:

I.  David had the correct perspective, 3:3-4

His God was encamped about him.  This is a picture of the God who leads us to take up the shield of faith.

His God was encouraging to his heart.  This is a picture of the helmet of salvation (Eph. 6:10-13).

II.  David had the correct peace, 3:5-6

God’s wisdom kept David in a place of peace, Prov. 3:19-26

III.  David had the correct plea, 3:7-8

David knew that God delight’s in His people (He wants us to come to Him).

David knew that God would deliver His people (Rev. 7:10; 19:17)

Think it through:

Are you and I in possession of a redeemed life?  If so, we will have the correct perspective.  We will not look to ourselves, others, the world, or to religion to find peace.  We will be looking to God alone who provides redemption.  Here is how Jeremiah describes the life of the redeemed, “Give thanks to the Lord of hosts, for the Lord is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”  Jeremiah 33:11

Our response:

Confess to God your inability to find peace in anything but Him.  Cling to the cross that brings peace!  Cry out in faith seeking the peace that passes all understanding.  In these efforts we find the mercy we need to face even the toughest of nights!!!

A Lesson about the small things (Matthew 6, Isaiah 58)

June 26, 2014

“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith,” Matt. 6:30

Sometimes the smallest of things and the smallest of people can be used of God to illustrate great truth.  For example, In Matthew 6 Jesus is teaching His disciples about authentic Christian living.  In Vs: 25-34 we discover authentic Christian living includes being able to serve the Lord in an unhindered way.

Here is the deal, “If you are living in worry, you are hindered from Kingdom living.”

Think it through:

1.  There are those who can never focus on what God is calling them to do because they are always focused on their own needs and desires, Vs: 25

2.  There are those who can never walk in faith because they are always in the rocking chair of worry.  Always, there is something to do, but never getting anywhere, Vs: 26-28

3.  There are those who can never walk in faith because they are trapped in the passions of the world, Vs:30-32

4.  But there are many who learn to trust in the God who cares about the small things!

The fact is, the birds of the air, the lilies of the field, and the grass all find a gracious God who cares for them.  How much more does God care for you!!!

Our response:

This very day we should have great peace in knowing how much He loves us.  This very day we should reach out in faith to do the very things worry has kept us from for years.  May we learn to trust in God with all of our heart!!!  Yes, you can do God’s work with the assurance that all our needs will be met.

Going All The Way (Matthew 5; Isaiah 57

June 25, 2014

“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” Matt. 5:20

As Jesus sits on the Mountain side somewhere beside the Sea of Galilee, he gives a message that will alter the landscape of the preaching in his day and every day since.  The scribes and Pharisees (Vs: 20) were teaching the law of God with a bend to make allowances for their personal bias.  We see 6 illustrations of this in Vs: 21-48.  Each time Jesus began with, “You have heard it said..”  Six times Jesus corrects the errors of these teachers who were changing the meaning of the law to fit their own sin.  But Jesus speaks in complete obedience to the law of God (Vs: 17-19)

Think it through:

“The condition of ones heart determines His or Her going part of the way or all the way in obeying the commands of God.”

Question: ”  What is the condition of your heart?”  Could it possibly be true that we deceive ourselves into believing that we are totally in line with the Word when we may not be?  Here is a simple check list:

1.  The heart must have the right attitude before God, Vs: 3-11

2.  The heart must have the right assignment before God, Vs: 12-16

3.  The heart must have the right alignment, Vs: 17-20

Our response:

Lord help us to align our hearts with you so that we will have the right attitude toward all of your commandments.

“Forever,” Revelation 22; Isaiah 52

June 20, 2014

“And night will be no more.  They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”  Rev. 22:5

Just how long is forever?  This question has been debated so many times, but the best description I ever hear was as follows:  “In the time that it would take a raven to carry all the sand from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean one beak at a time, this is how long one day will be in forever.”  This is an amazing fact considering that most of us are only living for the moment.

Consider John’s last recorded Revelation found in Revelation 22.  After God has redeemed the world through the removal of Satan and the removal of all rebels, we see the beauty of forever.

Think it through:

I.  John sees the river of life, Vs: 1-5

This river pictures the life given to us in Christ (John 7:37-39).  Those in forever have experienced the curse being removed.  Those in forever will live with all the accursed things removed.  This is truly eternal life.

II. John speaks of the coming of the ruler of life, Vs; 6-10

Before He comes those who think nothing of forever will be living in their evil state.  They will still be doing evil.  But those in whom God has brought to eternal life, they will do right!

III.  The right to life, Vs; 14-22

John reminds us that it is because of the blood of Jesus that we have been given the right to life.  In the forever we will be able to drink of the water of life, forever and ever!!!

This is an amazing reality to those of us who are dealing with the mortality of our flesh.  There will be no forever in this flesh. But praise be to God, there is forever in Christ.

Our response:

Cease making plans for the temporary and begin to daily live in light of the forever.

The One Who Helps You (Isaiah 41, Revelation 11)

June 9, 2014

“You whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from the farthest corners, saying to you, ‘You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off.'” Isaiah 41:9

It is a wonderful thing to know that “we are not alone in the struggles of life.”  This morning I was gloriously reminded of this truth in both Isaiah 41 and in Revelation 11.

In Revelation 11 we  encounter two witnesses being called to witness in the tribulation period.  These two witnesses are invincible as they fulfill their assignment.  When they are finished, “God gloriously helps them in resurrecting them from the dead and carrying them home to heaven.”  This is our God who helps!!!

In Isaiah 41, “God calls the world into His courtroom.”  Once in the court room, God occupies the position of prosecuting attorney.  Here is God’s case:

1.  He is the one who created all things, Vs: 2-4

The eternal God created this world and everything in it.

2.  Humanity did rebel and continues to rebel, Vs: 5-6

3.  God called a people out of rebellion, Vs: 7-20

He called them from the four corners of the earth (Lk 1:54).  Those He chose He also protected (Vs: 10).  The one who protects His people is, “The Great I AM!”    This one is also our Redeemer (Vs: 14).  In this moment I had to stop and say, “WOW!!!

Think it through:

Along the journey from being called, carried along the way, and called home, the Lord provides for His people.  “I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys.  I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water,” Isaiah 41:18.

Brothers and sisters we see a God who proves in the court room that not only is man guilty of rebellion and is still rebelling according to 41:21-29, but that God is redeeming people to Himself.

If you are one of these people, you live with the assurance that you serve a God who is helping you through every moment of life.

Our response:

Take a moment and breath in and out a sigh of relief in knowing that success in life is not up to you!  Yes, you do have a role to play.  This role is to be the one who walks in obedience to God.  His role is to remove every mountain and to provide every drop of refreshing water for your dry and thirsty soul.

So admit that you are powerless to overcome on your own.  However, also proclaim, t you are an overcomer through the One who helps!!!  Live each day knowing the God who called you is seeing you through.

Still To Come (Hebrews 4, Song of Solomon 4)

April 29, 2014

“So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from His.”  Hebrews 4:9-20

“I know you that you keep saying I will experience rest, but it sure does not seem like it now.”  These were the honest words that came from a person who was enduring a great trial of faith. These words came out as a flood breaking forth from a dam in response to my statement, “God will give you rest from this trial.”

Question, “Do you ever feel as if God’s rest is beyond your grasp or maybe beyond his ability?”  If so, you are in the company of some amazing people.  These amazing people are being addressed in the book of Hebrews.  The letter they have received is intended to point them to Jesus Christ who is the faithful high priest of their faith.

Here in chapter 4 we discover truth that is still to come.  Keep in mind the first 13 verses of this chapter are connected with chapter three.  The author is teaching and pleading with his readers to be careful (4:1) to by faith enter his rest.

In this chapter we see a timely reminder of the example of their forefathers who were offered rest, but did not benefit from the offer because they would not walk in faith (Vs:2) but chose to walk in disobedience.

Think it through:

1.  Practically, “there will never be any rest for those who walk in disobedience to God (Vs: 6-7)

2.  Theologically, “There remains a rest for those who walk in faith.”  Rev. 14:13 “They will cease from their labors…”

All who follow Christ will some day enter the eternal rest he has promised.

Our response:

1.  We must strive to walk in faith until we enter the eternal rest, Vs: 11-13

This striving speaks of spending time in God’s Word.  As we spend time in the Word we discover the areas of our life that are not at rest with God.  As we spend time striving in His Word we discover how to grow in our faith.

2.  We must stand in faith until we enter the eternal rest, Vs:14

We are called to never waver in our faith.  We are helped along the journey as we walk together with others in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, Hebrews 10:25

3.  We must seek His help until we enter the rest, Vs: 15-16

Yes, there will be days when we fail the Lord.  But in those failures we come before the God of rest and we know He will help us to overcome sin and to someday enter His rest.  This is His commitment to us, since before the foundation of the world, Vs: 3.