Sunday, July 30, 2017

Who's Looking Out For You?

1 Peter 5:7  "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."

Psalm 121:1-2, 7-8
 "I lift up my eyes to the mountains—    where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord,  the Maker of heaven and earth."  

"The Lord will keep you from all harm  he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going  both now and forevermore."

        Everyday, we face new situations that cause us to fear.  Do we trust God fully for His care, His protection, and His provisions for us?  I do trust God but prayer is not always my first line of defense against anxiety.  It should be tho, because prayer is my direct talk with God, who controls everything in life.
        In my Bible reading this past week, I was encouraged by the Book of Esther in that "God’s protective hand is always present, even though it is not always seen. Nowhere in the book of Esther is God’s name mentioned, but His providential hand is evident in Esther’s every move. God is at work in your life too, whether you realize it or not. "  Most of us can see in hindsight, the all-sufficient grace and mercy of God's care over us in our past.  So why is our present and future times, so hard to hand over to Him?  We trust in ourselves much, too much!

7 Reasons to Trust God with Your Life and Eternity  [M. Henry commentary]

1] God himself is our protector.  It is His infinite power and wisdom that provides safety to those who put themselves under His protection.

2] " The shepherd of the flock is the shepherd of every sheep, and will take care that not one, even of the little ones, shall perish."

3] God is a watchful keeper, who neither sleeps nor slumbers.

4] "He is always near to his people for their protection and refreshment, and never at a distance; so that he is never far to seek. "

5] "God will provide that his people shall not be tempted above what they are able, shall not fall into sin, though they may be very near it, shall not fall into trouble."

6] " It is the spiritual life, especially, that God will take under his protection: He shall preserve thy soul."

7]  God's protection is for life and shall abide with us forever.

       As for myself, I still get the 'mom arm' of protection from most of my van drivers but as good as that is, I know God is watching and protecting me always.  I also realize the greatest danger to myself is me.  I see and acknowledge His fingerprints in all areas of my life. Honestly, sometimes it has taken His whole Hand-print to turn me around.  
       There is no better place to be than in God's hands.  Have you placed yourself there?  Do you turn to and rely on that mercy and grace of protection?

  "I need Thee, oh I need Thee, every hour I need Thee."

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Find Joy

Psalm 90:14-15  "Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.  Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,  for as many years as we have seen trouble."

        Do you truly believe "God is good all the time and that all the time God is good?"  I think only believers in Christ can have that deepest level of trust, but even believers have moments of doubt.  There is joy to be found in every day for everyone because of God's grace and mercy. Needless to say, our days are not promised to be without trouble or affliction.  I believe that a person's daily focus in life is in direct correlation to their faith in God and His promises.   Can you find joy in every day of your life?
       The verses above from Psalm 90 are about God's mercy and the eternal gain, and therefore to seek it at an early age.  Mercy is a blessing sought after, a blessing that satisfies the heart, and the sooner you experience the mercy of God, the sooner you will be truly filled with joy.

An early interest in God’s mercy is essential to a happy life  []

1. "That a man may live happily, that he may rejoice and be glad all his days, it is necessary that he should be early freed from all fears of death."  Jesus death and resurrection gave victory over death.
2. "That a man may rejoice and be glad all his days, it is necessary that he should be freed in early life from a guilty conscience, and from apprehensions of God’s displeasure.  He enjoys peace of conscience and peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
3. "To render a man happy during the whole progress of life, it is necessary that he should be early freed from care and anxiety, and especially from apprehensions of losing what he most loves. But it is impossible that an unpardoned sinner should feel perfectly safe, or that he should be free from care, anxiety, and apprehension."
4. "That a man may rejoice and be glad all his days, he must early learn, in whatsoever state he is, to be content."  Circumstances don't define a believer's joy.
5. "That a man may rejoice and be glad all his days, it is absolutely necessary that he should early obtain the mastery of his appetites and passions, and be secured against the evils into which they would lead him. And no young man can have any security that he shall not be left to form such habits, unless he obtains that security which is afforded by God’s sanctifying grace and pardoning mercy."

        As for myself, I was blessed early with God's gift of grace to be saved.  His mercy has carried me through some dark and difficult times.  I seek and find joy everyday because I know of God's great love and sacrifice for me.  Sometimes, the search is a little harder but joy lies beyond my circumstances.  Each day, I struggle with physical weakness but I can remember stronger days with less joy than now.  My focus now is more on God's will for my life than my own.  Whether that may be scheduling time with fellow believers, sharing God's truth with lost friends, making the most out of my time and strength left, reading God's word for comfort and direction, or just resting in God's provisions for me. 
 Trust in God=Joy!

"God who is great in justice when he chastens will not be little in mercy when he blesses, he will be great all through: let us appeal to him with unstaggering faith."

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Every Breath You Take

  Job 33:4  "The Spirit of God has made me;
    the breath of the Almighty gives me life."

Psalm 39:5  "You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
    even those who seem secure."

          Sometimes I stretch the limits on how long I can go without my air assistance.  I feel drained and weak until I get that air pressure back in me and then it feels like I'm revived with energy.  Our organs need oxygen to make them run correctly.  Without oxygen, they struggle to keep up and to meet the demands we put on our bodies.  How comparable is God to oxygen in our lives?  Without either, we are doomed.  We are nothing without His power, grace and mercy.
        We are souls that live within that God-created body and our souls need God.  We choose how close to or how far we are from God.  Without God, our souls struggle to find meaning, peace, and purpose.  With God's soul support... we find hope, everlasting love, peace that surpasses all understanding, victory over death's sting, and an eternal destiny.  We feed the soul by using God's provisions in the way He intended.  "All time is nothing to God’s eternity, much less our share of time."
        Our souls are not meant to be fed occasionally, but daily by God's resources.  We need our daily bread of God's Word, prayers without ceasing and daily encouragement by our brethren.  Hebrews 3;13  ''But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.''
       " With this consideration also we should quicken ourselves to do good in our places according to our capacity. God has made us, and given us life, and therefore we should study to use our life to some good purpose, to spend it in glorifying God and serving our generation according to his will, that we may answer the end of our creation and it may not be said that we were made in vain. "

You may be tempted to debate
To change another’s view,
But nothing speaks more powerfully
Than what Christ did in you
. —Sper

I pray that all those who are a witness to my life.. see, feel, and acknowledge how God is working on me and thru me for His purposes and glory.

Why do we need God: [M. Henry]

1]All the creatures, and mankind particularly, derive their being from him
2]We owe our being here, as His creation, to Him
3] We depend upon God for support in this life
4]We lie at His mercy
5] We are under his direction and dominion and entirely at his disposal
6] At His summons, every knee will bow to Him.  All souls are His.

        If your soul is feeling lost and depleted, then maybe you're starving it from Who it really needs... God.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

God Delivers

Ezekiel 18:30-32 "“Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall.  Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel?  For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!"

            This blog has been on my heart for some time now but I didn't know where to start.  I wanted to challenge the idea in a lot of churches that 'God is just Love'.  That is not the whole picture of God.  I would argue that 'God is Love and Just!'  John Piper's quote above, nails this true theology on the head.  God gives both love and wrath because He cannot ignore sin, but He gave us a way through love with His Son, Jesus, to avoid that wrath.  Deuteronomy 32:4  "All His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He."   God's love and justice intersect at the cross.
           "It’s true that life is often unfair. Some seem to be blessed with far more opportunities than others, but let’s not blame God. These injustices are here because mankind’s sin has invaded God’s creation. The Lord allows them, but He has not caused them. He grieves over them more than we do, loves us equally, has made eternal salvation available to all, and will judge everyone by the principle: “To whom much is given, from him much will be required” (Luke 12:48).  At the end of time, the Lord will right all the wrongs of the ages, and even the people most deprived and mistreated in this life will be satisfied with God’s justice. Ultimately, no one will have reason to accuse Him of being unfair."
           The verses above from Ezekiel are a call to each of us to repent and turn away from our own sins before our own destined judgement day, so that we may be pardoned and washed white as snow.  Then receive a new heart and life for God and His will in our life.

4 Points to Consider from Ezekiel 18:30-32 [M. Henry]

1] We must not only repent of our sins but turn away or run from them. Just as sins are specific to each of us, so is salvation.  Your relationship with Jesus is yours alone.

2] " If we repent not, we certainly perish, and our blood will be upon our own heads."  We are judged or forgiven according to our own hearts, not others.

3] God takes no pleasure in our demise but desires our welfare.  God's mercy shows how much He desires each of us to turn to Him.

4] "We are made for ever if we repent: Turn yourselves, and live. "  God has prepared an eternal place for those who surrender to His will and ways. 

        Elisabeth Elliot wrote "Heaven is not here, it's There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for."

        Don't be fooled by Satan's lie that God's love ignores sin, instead believe in God's mercy and that His justice will prevail over sin, unless you repent.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Only Follow Jesus

John 8:12  " When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Psalm 1:1-2  "Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night."

        Have you ever considered how quickly culture has changed in your own lifetime?  Is your foundation of beliefs changing with the wind and the crowd or is it never changing with God as your true guide?  1 Peter 2:9 says, But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”   The crowd should never be our leader or decision maker, believers are called to be different from the world around them.
       Psalm 1 describes the character and ways of a godly person.  It tells of how seeking God through His Word directs his path in life.  The crowd is full of those who have no belief or wisdom in God and His plan for your life.

       Who makes up the crowd of the world: [M. Henry commentary]

1] The Ungodly-  Those who have no fear of the Lord and neglect their duty to the Lord.  They have no acknowledgement of God in their life.
2] Sinners- Those in open rebellion towards God and seek sin and the ways of Satan.  Hearts with no repentance.
3] Scorners- Those who openly defy all that is sacred, scoff at religion, and make a jest of sin

          We are to separate ourselves from evil, overcome peer pressure and not follow the 'norm' of society.  When we follow the crowd, we seek joy in the wrong places.  Joy is found in Christ alone.  The crowd will lead you to darkness and despair eventually, if not immediately.  Choose wisdom, the fear of the Lord and He will guide you as a lamp unto your feet.      
          One  of my favorite and most recommended books of mine is "Not a Fan" by Kyle Idleman.  It address the question, 'Are you a Jesus fan or a Jesus follower?'  Are we following His Truth's or the ways of man and culture?   I encourage everyone to read this book and decide which you are now and who you want to be...
Jesus fan or follower?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Grace and Mercy

Lamentations 3:22-23  "Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."

           We would be nothing without God's grace and mercy, but do we really understand their value and the difference between them.  In today's blog, I want to elaborate on these two gifts from God in a small, concise way so we can each appreciate them more.
          This past week we sang "God shed your grace on thee".  What are we asking for when we ask for His grace?  Grace is God's unmerited favor.. we can't earn this gift from God. Grace can also be defined as God giving us what we don't deserve.  "Jesus tenderly offers absolute grace. He forgave an adulteress, a thief on the cross, a disciple who had denied ever knowing Him, and a man named Saul, who had made his mark persecuting Christians. Grace is absolute and all-encompassing, extending even to those who nailed Jesus to the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” were among the last words He spoke on earth (Luke 23:34)."  This endless gift of grace reminds me of the lyrics.. 'Grace, grace, God's grace.. grace that is greater than all my sin.'
           So what is God's gift of mercy?  Mercy is God sparing or not giving us what we do deserve.  As in the Lamentations verse above... we are reminded that even if things are bad, we are not consumed by them, only because of His mercy.  2 Corinthians 4:9  "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."  M. Henry says, "Had we been dealt with according to our sins, we should have been consumed long ago; but we have been dealt with according to God’s mercies, and we are bound to acknowledge it to his praise."  When we talk with God about our struggles, we will more readily see the mercies He provides to us daily.  One of God's greatest mercies is time... time to turn back to Him.
          We may feel we are too sinful to have any hope of God's grace and mercy, but there is no one beyond God's reach.  His offer of grace to save is for all who chose to believe in Jesus' life, death and resurrection.  In 1 Timothy 1: 15-16, we are reassured by Paul that none of us are beyond hope..."Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.  But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life."

Hebrews 4:16

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."