Monthly Archives: September 2017

The Lord has heard

Psalm 6:6-8, “I am weary with my sighing; Every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears.  My eye has wasted away with grief; It has become old because of all my adversaries.  Depart from me, all you who do iniquity, For the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping.”

All of us at some point or another feel this way. Life has overtaken us. Desperation has planted itself deep within our hearts. Despondency knocks at our door. Putting one foot in front of the other is difficult. Some of you may be waking up to such despair; but, the Lord has heard your weeping.

The enemy of our soul deceives us. Evilness wants us to doubt God’s ability to hear us; doubt His ability to pull us from the pit in which we find ourselves. Negative thought patterns begin to weigh us down and stress tempts us to do things we wouldn’t ordinarily consider.

No matter how many times you’ve cried out to Him; no matter how many times He has come to your rescue; He will hear you again. There isn’t a limit. He isn’t tired of you.

Today, do not allow the negative, hopeless, faithless attitude to steal the joy of the Lord from you. Trust in God’s power not only to help you resist the devil but also to overcome him.


Struggles

Acts 16:25, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.”

In Acts 16, Paul and Silas meet a woman who is a fortune-teller. She is following them around as they are preaching and continues to echo, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” After several days of this, Paul and Silas turn to her and command the demons in the name of Jesus Christ to leave her. Fortune Telling provided money for her owners, and those owners are angry that Paul and Silas have removed this ability from her.

The owners take Paul and Silas to the Magistrate and have them arrested. The crowds join in the attack against these men, and Paul and Silas are beaten within an inch of their lives and thrown into jail. The worst of criminals (those most dangerous to society) are held in stocks. Paul and Silas’ feet are anchored down in stocks, a very painful process. Also, they are heavily guarded.

It is fascinating to read what Paul and Silas do. First, imagine what you would do. Maybe you would demand a lawyer or protest that the treatment you had received was unlawful. Possibly, you would cry out to God in agony and defeat.  I can hear it now, “I am preaching your word, Lord! Get me out of this mess!” But the scriptures tell us that Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God.  You guessed it; the other prisoners were listening.

Who is watching you? Who is listening to you? Maybe it is a co-worker or a neighbor. Maybe it is your son or daughter. Maybe it is your brother or sister. Maybe it is a complete stranger. How we respond to adversity is one of the greatest testimonies we can offer to God; it can also be the most damaging when we respond incorrectly.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, you are an instrument for God. He will come to your rescue. He will deliver you. Remember Paul and Silas the next time you are faced with less than ideal circumstances. Allow God to use your struggles to witness to others.


With You Always…

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” Isaiah 43:2.

When I was a little boy, my best friend and I loved to explore the woods behind our homes. We could go for hours climbing trees, crawling under logs, throwing rocks, and catching lizards and frogs. One Saturday morning we came up on a pack of dogs, probably about 6 to 7 –  big, small, medium sized, scrawny looking creatures. We both knew it would not be a good idea to run, and we were smart enough to know the best case scenario would be if they did not see us. My heart was pounding. My friend looked at me, back at the pack of dogs, and then up in a tree. We decided to climb the big oak until the dogs left. About 30 minutes later, the dogs were far enough away that we felt we could come down and head home.

As we walked, my friend boasted to me he really wasn’t scared at all. I echoed his words. Then we both laughed and swore we’d never tell our parents because they wouldn’t let us go into the woods again. But deep in my heart, I knew my prayer that day. I knew as I climb the tree and sat on the limbs, WHO was with me. And even though I was scared out of my mind, I knew in my heart, God would take care of us.

The significance of the verse from Isaiah is that we are never alone. It is not just that He is with us as we pass through the water; or He is with us as we pass through the rivers; or He is with us as we walk through the fire; He is with us ALWAYS.

Today, as you reflect on the Word of God, thank Him for being with you no matter what your circumstances.

 


Afraid?

2 Timothy 1:7, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

Matthew 10:31, “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

What makes you afraid? What do you worry about? What keeps you up at night? Over the years, I’ve heard many answers to those questions and I’ve answered them myself in various ways. Fear is a very real emotion and one that God is very much aware exists in our hearts.

Maybe you fear getting old; having an empty nest; getting sick; losing your job; not being accepted by others. Maybe you fear public speaking; flying on airplanes; being in crowds; losing your home; losing your money. Whatever it is, God has the answer.

Psalm 56:4, “In God, whose word I praise – in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”

Psalm 91:4-8, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.”

Isaiah 44:8, “Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”

Pick any one of these verses and commit them to memory. When you are afraid, speak it aloud and claim it in your heart. Pray today about your fears and ask God to help you fight the fears within you. Seek the Word. God has a great deal to say about our fears.

Psalm 34:4, “I sought (prayed to) the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.”

Isaiah 35:4, “say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, He will come with vengeance; with divine retribution He will come to save you.'”

I love these scriptures because I know I serve a God who cares about me and wants to protect me. What I have to do, is trust He will do what He says He will do.


New and Different

Romans 1:1, Paul writes, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, and set apart for the gospel of God…”

Are you set apart for the gospel of God? Those words filled my mind this morning as I was reading from God’s word. The very nature of them can give us a connotation of being weird, different, strange, a nerd of sorts. Those words bring an unpopular dimension to Christianity, having to go the opposite direction of a group; having to say no to our peers; having to go against the grain of the population; having to be politically ‘incorrect.’

We’d like to imagine Christ as a popular guy; captain of the football team; good-looking; president of his class; the one everyone likes – BUT HE WASN’T! His ideas were not normal. His actions were strange and argumentative. He went against the grain and the religious establishment of His time! He included Gentiles. He spoke to Samaritans. He was an outcast of the biggest kind. I wonder if I would’ve let my kids hang out with Him!

It brings this questions to mind, “What am I willing to be for Him? How far am I willing to go to share His word?”

Paul writes, “I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.”

To whom are we obligated?  What about your alcoholic neighbor who continues to drink despite his wife’s efforts to get him to AA? Do you dismiss him? Do you write him off because he just doesn’t want help?

What about the kid at school who cuts himself? Is he just too weird to deal with?

What about the co-worker addicted to pornography? Is it just men-being- men or is it? Or women-being-women? Is it true ‘everybody is watching porn now’?

What about the friend who just doesn’t have time to go to church? Or the one who says ‘everyone in church is a hypocrite’?

To set yourself apart, is to make yourself a new and different being. It is defined in Romans 12 as not flowing in the current stream of cultural norms, but being resistant, swimming upstream.  God has a higher calling for us. We are asked to be different! We are asked to stir the pot! We are called to get the right word out to the people of the world, even if it means, we lose our friends in the process. We are asked to be set apart for the gospel.

Today, determine to set yourself apart, to stand up to the pressures from those you know are doing wrong against God, to say no to sin. Today, accept your responsibility in God’s Kingdom. Realize you have an obligation to His people to spread His word.


Who Holds the Victory?

There are days, and we all have them, when we do not understand life. Questions flood our minds. We carry the burdens of every day; and some of us carry even heavier burdens. Maybe it is divorce or a death of a loved one. Maybe it is a financial struggle or a health issue.

We look around at other people and often it seems their lives are good. Why me? Why am I suffering while he prospers? What did I do wrong?

Job found himself in a similar situation. Life for Job had been good. He was prosperous, well-educated, a righteous man. In fact, according to Job1:1-3, “This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.”

Sometimes we become complacent in our lives; in our relationship with God; in our every day activities. Sometimes we are doing everything we know to do to have the right relationship with God. Sometimes we are not living the way we should. And trials and struggles come our way. Matthew 5:45, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

It is something Jesus prepared us to have. He did not sugar-coat life. Jesus warned us of difficulties and tumultuous days.

John 16:33, “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.”

At the most unexpected times, trouble and tragedy can find us. Whether rich or poor, educated or uneducated, tall or short, male or female, life can deliver some rough blows.

But there is an answer in 1 John 5:4, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”

Whatever you are facing, know God will overcome it. Trust in Him. He alone holds the victory.


Ironed Out

Proverbs 29:11, “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.”

Anger. It is an emotion caused when something we value has been threatened. It is inescapable. It is an emotion we all feel at some point and time in our lives. Anger is inevitable.

I heard a story once of a father who was a good golfer and had taught his young son the game as well. One afternoon he told his son to show a group of people what to do when you land in a sand trap. “Son, show them what I taught you,” he coaxed.

Without hesitation, the young boy pick up the sand wedged and hurled it up into the air like a boomerang.

You will feel anger in your lifetime repeatedly; it is what you do with that anger that matters. How we handle anger is probably one of the most important aspects of our character.

I have a friend who says, “You never really know the true character of a person until you see them handle anger. How they handle anger says a lot about who they are.”

We cannot control what other people do to us. We cannot control what they say; or how they treat us; or even how they interact with us. What we can control is how we respond when it hurts us. God does not tell us not to be angry. He tells us how to manage it in a manner that honors Him.

Talk to God today about your anger. Anger is a learned response – and if something can be learned it can also be unlearned. If you have issues with anger, it’s time to get it ironed out.

Psalms 37:8 Refrain from  anger, and forsake wrath!  Fret not yourself; it tends only to  evil.

Proverbs 15:18 A  hot-tempered man stirs up strife,  but he who is slow to anger quiets  contention.

Proverbs 29:22 A man of  wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much  transgression.