Thursday, August 31, 2017

Be Still and Know

Psalm 46:10
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,    I will be exalted in the earth.”

What does 'Be Still' mean to you?  The original Hebrew root of 'be still' doesn't mean be quiet; but 'Let Go and know that I am God.'  Therefore, when we are in chaotic and stressful situations, our best response is to calm ourselves with God's peace knowing He has full control to take care of each of us.  He is all-knowing, always with us and all-sufficient.

"By believing God keeps His promises, we grow stronger in our faith and gain peace. Hardships that would have thrown us off course lose their power to shake us. Hope replaces discouragement, and trust overcomes doubt. When trouble comes, focus on God's ability to care for you."  []

In the verses above, God is addressing everyone--followers and enemies to be still and acknowledge Him as Lord over their lives.  God wants his enemies to threaten and rage no more, because it is all for nothing. "God  will be exalted, He will have his way, will do His own will, will glorify His own name, and wherein they deal proudly he will be above them, and make them know that He is so."  [M.Henry]

God wants His people to not be overwhelmed by the wrongs of this world but to know that He alone is God, He will be exalted over the heathen. God is our refuge and shelter and His people are satisfied by His provisions that secures their well-being.  His grace quiets our minds and fears when we trust and lay it all before Him and let go.

As for myself, my relinquish of control has not always been voluntary but a part of my progressive disease.  Voluntary or not, God desires for me to let go of the fear that comes with loss of  control over my body parts.  For the first 21 years of my life, I unknowingly took for granted the pleasure of sleeping unconfined in any way.  Ah, you cannot put a price on that kind of freedom.  For the past 25 years, I have been forced to sleep on my back with no turning from side to side.  There is fear in mind and body that comes with the lack to do or move as you like.  God has eased those fears with His peace and comfort, that only He and I have gone through together.  Some people say 'I could never' but God's grace is sufficient!

"So as your world crumbles around you, the call from Scripture is: don’t flinch in faith in God. Stand still—not because of a self-made confidence, not because you are the most composed person in the face of disaster, not because “you’ve seen it all.” Be still because of what you know about God.  It is “God’s past” that provides calm for “our future.” Know that he is God! Know it, not merely intellectually, but practically, spiritually, and emotionally. He is your God. He is the ruler of kingdoms of this earth and the all-powerful Creator of the Universe." [ J. Jackson]
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth do change” (Psalm 46:1-2)

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Share and Hold Tight to Your Faith

Hebrews 3:12-14  " See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.  We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end."

        Isn't the world like a whirlwind in it's ever changing view of things in this world?  Even in my short life, I'm dumbfounded by the topics up for debate by people of today's world. We need to share our faith with everyone in this world and not be swayed by the whims of false ideas floating around in our culture.  The devil's goal is to turn us away from the living God and His work in our lives. 
        How do we best resist the devil's plot against each of us?  "Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today.”   When you search your heart on ways to encourage another soul, you too will be blessed with encouragement.  We all need daily encouragement, because each day has trouble of it's own.  We need to encourage ourselves, as well as others, with the Truth that only the Bible provides.  God and His Word never changes so we can be encouraged in the right direction by comparing our thoughts against The Word.
      What do we risk if we do not remain in The Word and aren't encouraged by it?  "A sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God...and you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness."  "The hardening of our hearts is the spring of all our other sins."  God tells us, in no uncertain terms, about the evil of sin and the need to accept Him by faith as our Savior, so don't shut 'your' heart, mind and soul off from His calling to you.
      "There is a great deal of deceitfulness in sin; it appears fair, but is filthy; it appears pleasant, but is pernicious; it promises much, but performs nothing.   The deceitfulness of sin is of a hardening nature to the soul; one sin allowed prepares for another; every act of sin confirms the habit; sinning against conscience is the way to sear the conscience; and therefore it should be the great concern of every one to exhort himself and others to beware of sin."  [M. Henry]
       If we 'indeed hold our original conviction firmly to the very end', what do we gain?  We get to be partaker's in Christ by the Spirit and profess who He is,  what He has done, what He does now and can do until the very end.  " There are a great many who in the beginning of their profession show a great deal of courage and confidence, but do not hold them fast to the end. Perseverance in faith is the best evidence of the sincerity of our faith." [M. Henry]

        Why Is Encouragement Important and Needed Daily

1] We should be doing all the good we can for one another.  Life is short and uncertain.  "Don't grow weary in doing good."

2] Tomorrow is not promised to anyone of us, so make the most of today for His Kingdom.

3] The devil targets us every day to turn us from God, so we need daily reminders of Truth.

       "Unbelief is the great damning sin of the world, especially of those who have a revelation of the mind and will of God. This sin shuts up the heart of God, and shuts up the gate of heaven, against them; it lays them under the wrath and curse of God, and leaves them there; so that in truth and justice to himself he is obliged to cast them off for ever."

      Encourage someone today in your life, because you may be the only one who cares about them enough to make an eternal difference.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

God Is With Us

2 Chronicles 32:7-8  “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him.  With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.”

1 John 4:4  "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world."

           Have you ever felt defeated before the situation even began?  The battle before you seemed overwhelmingly against you?  I have often felt that way, so my reading last week in 2 Chronicles 32 were verses that hit home and comforted me.  God is greater than anything we will ever face.  Yes, greater than our sufferings, our losses, our fears, our heart aches, our disappointments, and our sins.
          We too can need reassurance, like the people of Judah, to be strong, courageous, unafraid, and not discouraged in our daily battles and our battles as a Christian nation.  Ephesians 6:12  "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
        "Our enemies strive to prevent our ascent to heaven, to deprive us of heavenly blessings and to obstruct our communion with heaven. They assault us in the things that belong to our souls, and labor to deface the heavenly image in our hearts; and therefore we have need to be upon our guard against them. " [M. Henry]
         We each struggle with our own individual fears.  Just because another person doesn't share that same fear, doesn't make it any less real for you.  We must keep and strengthen our faith in God so that we might calm and suppress our fears.  "A believing confidence in God will raise us above the prevailing fear of man."  The enemy of our souls tells us, “Live only for the present,” when he knows it will result in our eternal loss.
         As believers, we are gifted with the Holy Spirit within us to lead us in the way of righteousness.  We are assured to be God's chosen and given the hope of victory beyond this life.  "The Spirit of God dwells in you, and that Spirit is more mighty than men of devils.” It is a great happiness to be under the influence of the Holy Ghost. "
        "He who knows the purity and holiness of God, the love and grace of God, the truth and faithfulness of God, the ancient word and prophecies of God, the signals and testimonials of God, must know that he is with us; and he who knows this will attend to us, and abide with us."  [M. Henry]
        As for myself, I have feared the future and doubted the next step in God's plan for me.  He has been faithful to me.. always!  After finishing college, it took me 2 years of interview rejections before I was hired for my 'perfect' job.  My enemy was doubt but persistence paid off.  The world seemed like an army against me with every rejection but faith told me that God had purpose and a plan for me 'somewhere'.

        Isaiah 41:10  "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

What to remember in times of fear [M. Henry]

1] God is all sufficient for us and will not forsake us
2] Don't let the threats of the enemy overwhelm you with fear
3] Fear leads to doubt, but don't doubt the promises of God
4] "Fear not that thou shalt perish in thy affliction"
5] "Fear not that the promise of deliverance shall fail"
6] God is for us, so whom shall I fear?

At times our fears may loom so large,
We long for proof that God is near;
It’s then our Father says to us,
“Have faith, My child, and do not fear.” —D. De Haan

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Strength Comes From God

"This is what the Lord says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord."
Psalm 18:32
"It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure."

         How would you define strength?  Is it mere muscle ability? Is it the power to resist a force against you?  Is strength a level of confidence?  Is strength a product of man or God?  When we think about our own strength for today, I think we should consider these questions.

       Where does your true strength come from, the gym or God's Word?  Don't we all rely on ourselves or others too much and find disappointment?  It is a sin to place our trusted confidence in the wisdom, power, kindness and faithfulness of man because those attributes are trusted wholly to God alone.  "It is making flesh the arm we stay upon, the arm we work with and with which we hope to work our point, the arm under which we shelter ourselves and on which we depend for protection. God is his people’s arm, Isa. 32:2."  [M. Henry]

        As the poem above states, we need strength in many different ways.  We need strength just to survive the day.  We need strength to live without fear, for whatever we face.  We need strength to endure the troubles of life.  We need strength to not be overwhelmed by our duties for the Lord.  We need strength to not be consumed by sorrows.  We need strength physically, emotionally and spiritually because Satan attacks at every angle.

        Those that trust in man and not God, "can neither produce the fruits of acceptable services to God nor reap the fruits of saving blessings from him." [M.Henry]

3 Characteristics of Those Who Get Their Strength God  [M.Henry]

1] They live by faith in God's providence and promises

2] They seek God's guidance at ALL times

3] They seek God and His love in the most difficult and unquiet times

       As for myself, strength is going down in some aspects of my life and soaring like an eagle in other areas.  My strength from God sustains me through the daily battles and gives me hope for my tomorrows.

      My prayer for you is that you find your strength in God as you build a life of faith trusting in God alone.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Thinking Through the Trials

James 1:2-4  "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

             Life is a series of trials, don't you agree?   As the verse above tells us, it is not all for nought.  It is a faith strengthening process that hopefully will transform us into who God intended us to be.  It's no quick fix either, but completion awaits us at heaven's door after a lifetime of learning God's truth and ways.  
           As Christians, we must not think we can escape the troubles of this world.  God may use our responses to afflictions as a way to reach this broken world.  "By suffering in the ways of righteousness, we are serving the interests of our Lord’s kingdom among men, and edifying the body of Christ; and our trials will brighten our graces now and our crown at last."   The devil uses our troubles to tempt us to sin, but God intends our trials to better ourselves.  " The gold is put into the furnace, that it may be purified."  Our trials vary person to person, so we don't know how the devil will try to deceive and attack us.  Therefore, we need to put on the full armor of God.  " We must be armed on every side, because temptations lie on all sides."  Our trials should lead us to look beyond ourselves.  We should look to the One who is in control of all things, provides strength for each day, comforts the weak and weary, and never leaves our side.
           "We must not sink into a sad and disconsolate frame of mind, which would make us faint under our trials; but must endeavor to keep our spirits dilated and enlarged, the better to take in a true sense of our case, and with greater advantage to set ourselves to make the best of it." [M. Henry]
I've copied some truths from to help you deal with the trials you face and how to respond.  

1. God is in full control of the timing and intensity of your trial and will not allow it to go beyond His boundaries.
2. He has a specific purpose for your suffering which you may not understand until it is over.
3. This trial will prove to be profitable if you submit to God and trust Him through it.
4. Trying situations are opportunities for faith to prove genuine and grow stronger.
5. When you endure extreme pressure with unexplainable peace and joy, the Lord will demonstrate His sustaining power to a watching world.
6. Your difficulties are used by the Father to produce Christ-like character.
7. God will walk with you through all trials.
8. The Holy Spirit will enable you not only to survive but also to come out a conqueror.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Loved by God

Malachi 1:2
“I have loved you,” says the Lord.
“But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’

       Have you ever felt unrecognized and unappreciated for your efforts toward someone?  We have all felt ingratitude at some point in our lives and it's not a good feeling.  We put our hearts, thoughts and actions for that person first but no acknowledgement.  I think God feels this everyday and yet holds back His anger with mercy.
      The verse above from Malachi displays the arrogance and ingratitude of Israel towards God's love to and for them.  God's love had shown them great kindness, even when He rebuked them.    Jeremiah 31:3  "“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness."   M. Henry states, God’s people need to be often reminded of his love to them.  I have loved you, but you have not loved me, nor made any suitable returns for my love.” 
        Can we not look 'everywhere' and see God's love surrounding us.  In creation, in protection, in giving us what we don't deserve, and in withholding the wrath that we do deserve, in strength for today, for the hope and promise of everlasting life for those who believe and for the greatest gift of all, His Son who became flesh to pay with his life our sin debt.  Romans 1:20 "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse."
         God loves us through all the suffering and trials of this life.  "The sufferings of the righteous will have an end and will end well; all their grievances will be redressed, and their sorrow turned into joy; but the sufferings of the wicked will be endless and remediless." [M. Henry]  1 Peter 1:6-9  "In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,  for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
        God, who created us in His own image, does not want us to be separated from Him by sin.  He cannot justly overlook sin either.  Therefore John 3:16-17 explains, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."   There is and never will be a greater act of love than God becoming flesh, enduring a life of ridicule and pain without sinning, giving up His life for ours so that we might be saved, and declaring victory over death with His Resurrection.  "Amazing love, how can it be, that my King would die for me?"
      As for us, I hope that rather than be like Israel in questioning how God has loved us, that we would ask ourselves "How have I thanked God for all the ways He has shown me His love?"  Is my prayer life thankful?  Are my life choices righteous ones? Is my life God-honoring?  Do I put God first, above all else?  Actions speak louder than words, so let your Light shine to all, as a testimony of His love to you.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Appearance Judging


1 Samuel 16:7
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

        I just love this verse and I find great comfort in it, especially when the world assumes so much and yet knows so little.   God sees our authentic self, which is our heart and mind, without any pretenses.  He knows our naked, rock bottom, true soul and will judge us accordingly.  So many times, we act like the Pharisees by trying to speak, dress or act to impress others, but God knows the 'fake it till ya make it' performance and is never fooled by it.  Isaiah 11:3-4 "He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,  or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth."
      "The good disposition of the heart, the holiness or goodness of that, recommends us to God, not the majesty of the look, or the strength and stature of the body."  Whew, can we all be thankful for that?  We are not defined by our bodies but by the condition of our hearts toward God.  People will see your life as a reflection of your heart, whatever that may be, with time.  
        Our problem is that we are quick to judge based on external factors.  What if we were judged everyday by how we looked before we 'got ready' for the day?  What if we had no control over our hair, smell, breath, etc.?  Well, people are judged all the time over things out of their control and it's wrong to assume.  Take a minute to think about that... what are you judging others on?  Thankfully, God isn't as narrow-minded as we are.  He sees what's important in each of us... our heart as for or against Him.
         As for myself, I've been humbled many times by people's assumptions because of my small frame.  I've learned it's better to give grace than try to defend yourself.  Your response is a witness in itself.  I'm passed the stage of trying to impress others, but my goal is to keep my heart right and pleasing with God.  I am trying to be my authentic self.