Sunday, April 28, 2019

Overcoming The Scars

        Last week's blog talked about where our help comes from, which is Jesus Christ.  I want to continue this week with how we must not let the world and it's sin, harshness, hurts, cold heartedness, and manipulative ways change us from the path God intends.  1 John 4:4 reminds us as believers, whose we are and where to put our faith in Him and not false gods or witnesses..."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."  Also in 1 John 5:3-5 "In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God."
        TobyMac has a new song with lyrics that describes the point of this blog well.  "It doesn't matter who you are, this world's gonna leave some battle scars."   Can we not all relate to the following?  "When life cuts so deep, try and remember..You, you're are not alone, We've all been there.  Scars come with livin',  You, you're not alone.  We've all been there, oh, so lift your head, lift your head, to where your help comes from, you're not alone."
       Yes, it's true, we all have both physical and emotional scars from living in this world.  God knew this and that's why He gave us assurance by saying in John 16:32-33, " “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

3 Things We Can Live With As Christians, God's Chosen People
[J.D. Greear]

1] Assurance-- Salvation begins in God, it is accomplished by God and what God starts He will finish.  He chose us before there was anything good in us.  He is more committed to our salvation than we are.  John 6:37-39  " All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me,but raise them up at the last day."

2] Hope-- We can bravely face all of our trials, because God works all things for good for those who believe in Him.  We don't see the big picture, but God does and controls it.  God will one day turn our messy threads of life into a beautiful masterpiece for His glory.  Romans 8:18  " I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."

3]Boldness in Evangelism--  God has revealed to us that it is our job to share Christ with others, and not discriminate with who we think is 'elected.'  Obedience to share the gospel with others is all that is required.

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.

1 Chronicles 28:20

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Where My Help Comes From?

Psalm 121:2  "My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth."

1 Thessalonians 3:13  "May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones."

Psalm 22:19  "But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me."

2 Thessalonians 3:2-3  "And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith.  But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one."

Psalm 33:20  "We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield."

Psalm 28:7  "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him."

Psalm 12:1  "HelpLord, for no one is faithful anymore; those who are loyal have vanished from the human race."

       The human race has developed many ways to call out for help; like the Morse code, 9-1-1, 'uncle', code blue.  Our greatest call is through prayer to Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  Psalm 46:1  "“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”   God is waiting for us to call on Him for help and stop trying to rely on our own failing strength.

        God is real, and when you trust in Him, He promises to be with you always.  Hebrews 4: 15-16  “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

      "Each one of us has a particular level at which our emotions overflow and we cry out, “God help me!” We may have just received disappointing results to a medical test or some devastating news from a family member. Our emotions are a mess! We don’t know if we’re angry, panicked, scared, fearful of the future...we do know that we can’t continue on our own strength.  Destructive fear (worry, panic, suspicion) is generated from anticipation of the unknown. We all like to be in control of our circumstances. (And doesn’t it just make you angrier when you can’t be in control?) But when I compared my minimal human capabilities to that of an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present God, I surrendered my control. Suddenly my fears (and anger) diminished (Psalm 131:1-2).  When you cry out, “God help me,” do you believe that there is a more fulfilling life ahead? A relationship with a dedicated and loving Heavenly Father changes your worldview from a temporary to an eternal perspective (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). The relationship that you develop through knowing God’s Son, Jesus Christ, as your Lord and Savior renews you mentally and physically."  []

       As for myself, my relationship with Jesus has comforted and sustained me as I've continually lost my physical strength and traded it in for spiritual strength.  I'm constantly crying out to God for help, because in reality, I can't do anything on my own.  He tells us all that we can do nothing without Him, but in my case it is a little more real and obvious.  I depend on God to send me help to do all things in this life, for His will and my own.  First, I ask for His help.  Second, I trust in Him to provide.  Third, I wait patiently for His will and don't rush into actions that don't align with His will.

         Sometimes when we are waiting on God to answer our cries for help, we may feel forsaken by God. We struggle with troubling thoughts. Our hearts become sorrowful. We’re sure that we’re fighting a losing battle.  David in Psalm 13:1-2 felt this way:  How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?  How long will my enemy triumph over me?"   The needed response--Plead with God, trust Him, and praise His name.  

Friday, April 12, 2019

Money Matters, But What You Do With It Matters Most

       They say money can't buy happiness, which is true, but our goal in life is neither money or happiness.  Money is a tool, in which we can use to further the Kingdom and it's purposes.  "It is not your salary that makes you rich, but your spending habits."   Charles Spurgeon says, "Whatever a man depends upon, whatever rules his mind, whatever governs his affections, whatever is the chief object of his delight, is his god."  What does your bank statement say about your spending habits?   Do you give with others in mind, tithe regularly to your local church, and invest in the building of the Kingdom and it's purposes?  God uses money in your life to test your faith, responsibility, and honor with it.

       Things money cannot buy:  Manners, Morals, Respect, Character, Common Sense, Trust, Patience, Class, Integrity, Love, Honor, Blessed Eternity, Fruit of the Spirit, Time, and Peace of Mind.

      Hebrews 13: 5-6  " Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have,because God has said, never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."  So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.   What can mere mortals do to me?”

      "When God blesses you financially, don't raise your standard of living.  Raise your standard of giving."   I believe giving activates abundance.  2 Corinthians 9:7 "Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under  compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."  "A rich man without God is just a poor man with money."

       Matthew 6:31-32  "So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them."

       Romans 13:8  "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law."

       2 Peter 1:3-7  "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.  For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love."

      "How we handle money reveals much about our priorities. That’s why Jesus often talked about money. One-sixth of the Gospels’ content, including one out of every three parables, touches on stewardship. Jesus wasn’t a fundraiser. He dealt with money matters because money matters. For some of us, though, it matters too much."  []

        "Walking on the narrow road requires faith, discipline, and determination. We all have desires—that is, fleshly appetites—that find the easier pathway more attractive." []

If we pursue mere earthly gain,
We choose a path that ends in pain;
But joy and peace are in our soul
When we pursue a heavenly goal. —D. De Haan


Monday, April 1, 2019

A Question of the Heart

Deuteronomy 4:39  "Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below."

Deuteronomy 5:29  "Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!"

Deuteronomy 6:5  "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength."

Deuteronomy 10:12  "And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul"

Psalm 13:2 "How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?"

Psalm 26:2-3  "Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;
for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness."

Psalm 51:10  "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."

Psalm 64:6  "They plot injustice and say, “We have devised a perfect plan!” Surely the human mind and heart are cunning."

Psalm 81:12  "So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices."

Proverbs 20:9  "Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”?"

Jeremiah 17:9 "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.    Who can understand it?"

       If your heart could speak to you, what would it say?  Sin begins in our hearts, when our will goes against God's will for us.  Our hearts can lead us astray, unless we turn and seek God in all things.  When the Bible refers to our heart, what is it referring to?  Our heart refers to our mind, intellect, thinking, reflections, memory, will, passions, feelings, conscience, character, motives, soul, understanding, the seat of our appetites, the seat of our courage.  Matthew 6:21  "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  Psalm 139:23  "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts."

        Proverbs 4:23  "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."  We often let our hurt or damaged hearts affect other things in our life, even without meaning to.  Our hearts become bitter, and therefore so do our words, thoughts, actions and reactions result in bitterness.  When we are out of our depths, we must turn and begin to touch the depths of God.  Forgiveness isn't impossible, but with God, forgiveness is HIM-possible.   Guarding our hearts means to watch over, preserve, protect, and be proactive in our habits that keep our hearts in line with God's will for us.

      "Unless we respond correctly to conflict, we limit our potential to grow, because we aren’t learning what the Lord is teaching. Also, we can develop an unforgiving spirit, which leads to bitterness and resentment. Eventually, such an attitude can destroy relationships.  
      There is also a positive way to handle conflict. Luke 23:34 reveals how our Savior responded when He was wrongly accused, unfairly judged, and killed for something He didn’t do. Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” [] 

       "Circumstances often prove painful. But even when situations seem overwhelming, believers can trust that our sovereign Lord knows all, is in control, and lovingly works everything for His children’s good. We can rest confidently, knowing that the unchanging God of all creation is taking care of us."

        "The soul is cast down when our sorrow does not bring us to God, but away from God. There is no discouragement in any affliction or trouble whatsoever, but it is a lack of trusting in God. We may not know the reason God has allowed it, and this requires our trust. When we do not trust in God, we are trusting in ourselves, and we cannot experience victory in our own strength." - R. Sibbes

        As the saying goes, “Life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we react to it.”  Lord, please change our hearts and attitude about hard times. Bring about joy, perseverance, and maturity in each of us.  May our hearts be humbled by who You are and how powerful, just and loving You are as You watch over and protect us, even from our own heart's wickedness.