Archive for the ‘trials’ Category

When You cannot get away (Psalm 55; Ezekiel 14)

September 11, 2014

“And I say, ‘Oh, that I had wings like a love!  I would fly away and be at rest; Yes, I would fly away and be at rest,” Psalm 55:6

Yes, it would be a great thing to get away from the trial for just a moment.  The previous statement is one that is amazing to me, in light of the truth before us in Psalm 55.

Once again, David is lamenting his circumstances.  David has faced many enemies, but this enemy is different.  This enemy is one in whom that he had attended worship with.  This enemy was a close friend.  Notice David’s description of his close friend, “His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.”

Let’s be transparent with each other, “there are moments when you and I cannot get away from the trials of life.”

Think it through:

1.  God has a purpose for every trial.

In this case David discovers and delivers to us some amazing truth.  First, David reminds us of God’s power to keep us on track in the midst of hard times.  The righteous will not be moved from a place of favor because they are facing tough times.  Second, David reminds us of God’s daily provision in the midst of trials.  Thirdly, David reminds us of how God identifies with us in trials.  Our Lord faced the same betrayal of a close friend when He walked among us.

2.  God has a purpose for your trial.

God is teaching you amazing truth about who He is and what He does in the midst of trials.

Our response:

We must decided, when trials come our way, “Will we run or will we stay.”  Those who stay, make discoveries that are both amazing and life-altering.

Keep in mind, “Your trials are not only for you.”  Your trials help others see their need to follow God!!!  So for the sake of the gospel, don’t run away from your trials.  Embrace your trials with the big picture in mind.

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Blessed More Than We Realize (Psalm 44; Ezekiel 6)

September 3, 2014

“Rise up, come to our help!  Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love,”Psalm 44:26

Last Wednesday our youngest son celebrated his 13th birthday.  I am so thankful to God for all His kindness to our family over the years.  Truly, “God has blessed us far more than we realize.”

This truth was brought home to me as I read the headlines last week.  Here was one headline, “Boy shot and killed on his birthday.”  A West Georgia boy celebrated his 13th birthday with his family and went to bed, finally making the teenage years.  But he would not have another day.  While asleep in his bed, a gang member entered their apartment and shot this young boy as simply the first step in earning the right to be in a gang.

I honestly thought, “Why have I been so blessed.”

Think it through:

The people of Israel are enduring horrific moments, Vs: 9-16.  In days gone by, Vs: 1-8, God has protected and provided for his people.  But now, in this moment, both shame and slaughter characterize the horrific moment the people were facing.

The Psalmist investigates his own heart, Vs: 18-19.  He has not turned aside from following God.

Notice how he cries out to God:

1.  He cries out in frustration:

“Lord have you been asleep?  Lord are you being unkind?”

Brothers and sisters, there are moments when we worry toward God with unfounded thoughts.

2.  He cries out in faith:

“Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love.”

Brothers and sisters, “God’s love for us is based not upon who we are, but upon who He is.”  Paul writing to the Ephesian church comments, “For God is rich in grace and mercy,” Ephesians 2:4

It is our God who understands mistreatment and murder.  His only Son face the cruelty of the cross for one reason, “Because He loves us.”  On this day, I am reminded that I am blessed more than I realize.

Our response:

Consider how blessed you are this day!  Spend time praising God for His many blessings in your life.  Spend time praying for those who especially need his grace during times of trial.  Finally, keep your focus, not on the burdens of now, but on the blessings that await us because of His mercy!!

The joy of waiting (Psalm 25, Jeremiah 28)

August 19, 2014

“Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.”  Psalm 25:3

One of my many weaknesses is the weakness of waiting.  I am in the group of people who proclaim to God, “Give me patience and give it to me now.”  I am also one who struggles with waiting to see something accomplished.  I see the end result God intends, but I struggle with the waiting.  However, I am learning ever so slowly, the joy of waiting!

Our Bible reading for today is a great reminder of the joy of waiting.  David, as is often the case in Psalms, is facing enemies.  He cries out to God in trust, Vs: 1-2.  It is clear that in this moment he has not seen the end intended by the Lord.  However, he trusts in the process of waiting.

Think it through:

I.  David is actively waiting, Vs: 3-5

As he waits, David is in the process of exploration, “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.”  

Brothers and sisters, God has much to teach us along the journey if we are willing to explore our circumstances.

As he waits, David is in the process of endurance, “For you I wait all the day long.”

Brothers and sisters, God is teaching us trust and truth of His great power in our days.  Do not ask to get through something before you have discovered God’s great power in the journey itself.

II.  David is amazed in his waiting, Vs: 6-10

As he actively waits, he is reminded of how he has sinned so many times, in particular during the early days of his faith.  He is amazed at how God has given grace and continues to give grace in the journey.

Brothers and sisters, God’s grace is for the purpose of forgiveness but also for the purpose of leading us to faithfulness in Him.

III. David is offering amazing worship, Vs: 11-21

David is in AWE of God (Those who fear you).  God has entered into covenant with David.  God has cleansed David, “Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sin.”  

Brothers and sisters, each day you and I must see the wonder of our God who leads us along the path of life.  He is worthy of praise while we wait.

Our response:

Here is David’s final resolve in Vs: 21, ““For I wait for you.” The Apostle Peter encourages us with this same truth in I Peter 1:5-9, “We will obtain the outcome of our faith, the salvation of our souls.  May this be our resolve as we wait!!! 

Calling out your enemies (II Timothy 4, Ecclesiastes 8)

April 21, 2014

“Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm, the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.”  II Tim. 4:14

Have you ever just wanted to get even with someone who has wronged you?  I was shamefully reminded of the times when I not only wanted to get even, but I had worked it all out in my mind and was ready  to carry out what was in my mind.  But then the Lord, reminded me of how He intends for me to walk through difficult times.

Before us are the last words written by Paul before his death.  We know that Paul has strong words of challenge to Timothy, “Preach the Word.” We also know that Paul has sweet words of challenge to Timothy, “Fulfill your ministry.”  

Paul turns his attention to the last moments of his life.  He reminds Timothy and all his readers that he himself has fulfilled his ministry, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  

In this moment we see Paul focusing on the last mile of his journey.  He is very reflective in looking back over his ministry.  Presently he is alone with the Lord facing the trial that will end his life.  He begins to mention different people who have affected his ministry.

This morning, one man stands out for me.  His name is Alexander. Back in I Timothy 1:20 we read these words, “Among who I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blasphemed.”  

Here is a person who has shipwrecked their faith (1:19) and now they are surely facing the mistreatment of the enemy.  Question, “What were the details of all of this?”  Answer, “We do not know.”  Paul chose to leave it all up to the Lord’s discretion as to how to deal with this man.  So Paul simply calls out his enemy and leaves it in the Lord’s hands.

This was a great reminder for my life this morning.  There are far too many important things we should be giving ourselves to.  Getting even is a sinful trap that leads to broken fellowship with God and a black-eye for God in the eyes of the world.

Think it through:

Do you face any enemies today?  If so, do not go beyond calling them out.

Take away:

Allow God to be God in every circumstance of your life!!!

Being Burdened (Job 35, II Corinthians 5)

March 6, 2014

“For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened-not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that which is mortal may be swallowed up by life,” II Cor. 5:5

This morning I returned from a breakfast meeting (that was joyous).  But when I spoke to Sherry she responded, “Are you ok?  You seem to be burdened?”  Question, “Is it possible to be burdened without knowing it?”  The answer is yes, inside of us we often carry weight that does not need to be carried.  At other times (as was the case with Job) we find ourselves carrying weight on the outside.

Here is a simple discovery from God’s Word, “The old nature will always trap you in the corner of worry and fear.”

This morning I found the answer for being burdened.  The passage is II Corinthians 5:1-10

Think it through:

1.  Paul teaches us that the best is yet to come, Vs: 1-3

There is coming a day when we will lay down the trials of life.  There is coming a day when we will live forever (in peace) in heaven.  We must look to what is ahead (Phil. 3:20-21).

2.  Paul teaches us about the burdens that are still coming, Vs: 4

Yes, we would love to be beyond burdens.  We long to lay down all burdens.  In this very moment I think of Job who was facing the onslaught of burdens.  These burdens would not be able to get Job down if he had the right mindset.

3.  Paul teaches us about the blessing that has come, Vs: 5

God has prepared us a place in heaven where we can lay down all of our burdens.  But until our moment of occupying our home, he has given us a blessing in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is our comforter, director, encourager, one who empowers us, and convicts us of sin.  Because of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives we can say with John, “greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world,” I John 4:4.

Our response:

Because of these facts you and I can always be of good courage in the Lord.  We can walk by faith and not by sight.  We can cry out to God, “Take my burden-fill me with your blessing, and teach me that the best is yet to come.”

Lord, thank you for removing the burden from my soul.  I know that some day I will stand before you and I know that I will be judged not based on what burdens I endured, but I will be judged by how much I wanted to walk through the burdens because I love you.  

Worn Out (Job 16-17; I Corinthians 4)

February 17, 2014

“Surely now God has worn me out; he has made desolate all my company.”  Job 16:7

Last evening our youngest began to get worse with a cold.  He ended up coughing most of the night.  This meant that Sherry and I would spend a very restless night with him.  So, needless to say, “We are worn out this morning.”

Question, “Can you identify with being worn out?”  Certainly Job can identify.  Here in chapters 16 and 17 we discover Job facing things that have left him worn out before God.

Here are three things he was facing:

1.  Friends who offered no comfort:

In Vs:1 -6 we discover how Job felt about his friends.  He describes them as simply, “miserable comforters.”  As I read these words, I thought, “How many of my friends are in need of comfort this day?”  I found myself, gaining strength to reach out to others.

2.  Thoughts of former days:

In Vs: 12, Job is reminded of days gone by that were according to his own words, “days of ease.”  I again was reminded of others around me who were facing moments of great trial.  I bowed my head and gave praise to God for all the days of ease and all the days of not so much ease, but His eternal presence in my life.

3.  The grave was waiting:

As chapter 17 opens Job knows the following: “My spirit is broken; my days are extinct; the graveyard is ready for me.”  Brothers and sisters, Job is worn out.  In this moment, I find myself asking, “What hope is there for worn out people?”

Think it through:

Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and he who testifies for me is on high.”

Job knew that his hope was in heaven!!!  Even though Job struggled to understand.  His hope was firmly planted in the King of Heaven.  Job held onto the belief that there were better days ahead (Job 19:25-26).

Brothers and sisters, this is our hope.  Because our Redeemer lives, we will someday be in heaven with Him.  There will be no long nights and there will be no days of being worn out!!!  Check out Revelation 21 for a glimpse of what is to come!!!

 

Until the Storm Passes By (Numbers 19; Psalm 56-57)

May 10, 2013

“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by,” Psalm 57:1

Brothers and sisters, “Are there storms in your life today?”  I know for most who read this, the answer is yes.  The storms range from physical to spiritual.  Before us this Friday is wealth beyond imagination.  Before us is the only shelter that will weather the storms of life.  This shelter is Jesus.

Think how this shelter affected David’s life:

1.  David knew God was for him (Psalm 56:9)

2.  David knew he had no reason to fear what men could do to him (Psalm 56:11)

3.  David knew God would shelter him no matter the strength of the storm (Psalm 57:1)

The question for us and for the world is this, “Do we trust in God as our shelter?”  In Matthew 23:37-38 it is clear that the people of Jesus day were not willing to trust in Christ for their shelter.  For them, they perished under the wrath of God.  Through the ages this has been the same end result of countless numbers.

However, may it not be for you and I.  May we come to the shelter and may we stay under the shelter throughout life.

This Friday I praise God that I know He will shelter me until the storm passes by.  By the way, when the last storm passes by (Death), I will be with Jesus forever in heaven.

He Can Handle It (Numbers 17-18; Psalm 55)

May 9, 2013

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved,” Psalm 55:22

It was an intense moment for me as a father.  There I stood looking on from a distance.  John was about to bat in a youth baseball game at church.  He swung and missed the first two pitches.  I felt great anxiety as I thought, “If he misses the next one, he will be overwhelmed with sorrow.”  To my shock, he missed the next one and with a smile on his face, he handed the bat to the next player.”  Suddenly I realized, he can handle this.

In a much more intense way, David find himself facing a moment of great trial in Psalm 55.   Most believe this is the moment when his son had betrayed him by overthrowing the throne (II Samuel 13-16).  David describes this trial as a betrayal of a close friend (Vs:13-14).  This betrayal is eating at David.  He describes his life in the following ways; “restless, anguish, fear and trembling, and he is looking for a way to bail out.”

But in this moment there was no way to bail out. So David comes to a place where he recognizes the reality that God can handle this.  So David writes the wonderful words in Vs: 22 that we read above.

Question, “How does a person come to this place?”  Two things must happen:

1.  Pray in confidence

David believes, “The Lord will save me,” Vs: 16.  David knows, “The Lord will redeem me,” Vs: 18.  David holds onto, “The Lord will give his ear to my cry and humble my enemies.”

2.  Proceed forward with conviction

David knows the Lord in his time will lead him through this trial.  Victory in Christ awaits on the other side.

Question, “Do you believe all of this?”  If so, why worry?  Our God can handle it all!!!

For further reading consider I Cor. 10:13; I Peter 5:6-7

What Comes Next? (Leviticus 14; Psalm 17)

April 10, 2013

“And the priest shall offer the burnt offering and the grain offering on the altar.  Thus the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be clean”  Lev. 14:20

As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness,”  Psalm 17:15

There are days when it seems that with every movement things get harder and harder. On these days people sometimes begin to wonder, “What will happen next?”  Still there are other days when with every movement things get easier and easier.  On these days people also wonder, “What will happen next?”  In the first case people are looking for the hammer to fall.  In the second case people are looking for the blessings of heaven.

How would you respond if I told you the following, “In both cases we find the blessings of heaven.” Consider our More For Christ readings:

In Leviticus 14 we find God’s prescribed method for the cleansing of lepers.

Here we find a great reason to rejoice because our Lord cleanses the lepers spots.  We see this illustrated in Mark 1:41-44 as Jesus heals a leper.  We are all born as spiritual lepers.  We all need the touch of Christ.  As things get worse in our lives we realize even more our need of Christ (So the tough days are a gift from the Lord).

In Psalm 17 we find David’s prayer to the God who has him as the apple of his eye.

David reminds us of God’s power in the life of those who follow God.  David brings his cause before the Lord.  David choses to enter God’s court with those who are continuing to levy charges against him (17:9-12).  Notice what David reminds us of:

1.  Only God can vindicate a man (Vs: 2-5)

Our God tests our hearts.  Our God teaches us about our wrongs and he vindicates us in his righteousness.

2. Only God gives true refuge (Vs: 6-8)

3.  Only God could give us a future (Vs: 15) 

David reminds us of the fact of great difficulties in our lives, but at the same time he reminds us of the reality of what comes next.  There will be a day when we are before our Lord in heaven.  In that day we will celebrate the victory we have in Christ.

This is why both types of days fill us with joy because we know the best is yet to come.  For further reading, I John 3:1-3 WOW

Rest My Brethren (Exodus 31; John 10)

March 20, 2013

“It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.”  Exodus 31:17

“My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch the, out of the Father’s hand.”  John 10:29

Recently I was talking with a brother in our church who words for the Ford Motor Company.  In the midst of our conversation he said, “I worked 60 hours this week and that did not include the hours of driving to and from work.”  When I figured that time and the time he spends at the church, I came up with 76 hours.  My brother stands in need as do most who read this blog, “Of rest and refreshing!”

In Exodus 31 we find two lines of thought:  First there is the ability to work (Vs: 1-11).  This ability is given to us by God and we should work and worship for his glory. Second, there is the ability to rest (Vs:12-18).  God prescribed a time of solemn rest for his people.  We too need to follow this method of taking time to rest before our God.

When we come to the New Testament, John 10, we come to a study about the only one who can give us true rest.  In Christ we can both rest from and in our work.  I hope you will give time to this chapter.  I am going to list 5 self-disclosures of Jesus from John 10:

1.  The Salvation in Christ, Vs: 1-6

2. The Sufficiency of Christ, Vs: 7-10

3.  The Faithfulness of Christ, Vs: 11-14

4.  The Sovereignty of Chris, Vs: 15-25

5.  The Security of Christ, Vs: 26-30

Brothers and sisters, as we look and understand Christ we find the secret to rest. We can rest our minds in knowing that in whatever we face, Jesus is the victor.  We can rest our bodies because we know that Christ is the provider of all we need.  We can rest our souls because we know Jesus is the source and keeper of our salvation.

So brothers and sisters come alone before Jesus and rest!!!