Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Keep Going, Despite Discouragement

2 Corinthians 1:3   "All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. You are our merciful Father and the source of all comfort." 

Psalm 68:19   "Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day you carry us in your arms." 

 Psalm 40:16  "May all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, “The Lord is great!”"

Ephesians 1:3   "All praise to you, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ." 
 Psalm 9:1–2"I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High."   

         Lately, I have felt discouraged with just about everything. I also feel guilty for those feelings, because I know how blessed I am.  Have you ever felt the same way?  Is it just a longing for a better place, way of life, and righteousness with everything?  C.S. Lewis puts my thoughts into words, "There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind."  Doesn't that make you eager for heaven?  It does for me, but until then I pray for God's will to be done here on Earth, as it is in heaven.  

         "Knowing that God can change a country, you may be wondering why He has waited so long. Maybe He is asking you a similar question: “Why have you waited so long to pray?” Every authority on earth can be touched by the power of prayer if we are willing to ask and believe God."  [intouch.org]

       "God sees our true character and always knows exactly what we need. With perfect vision, which even sees the inner workings of our hearts, He watches over those who love Him and put their hope in Him. He’s our attentive, loving Father."  [odb.org]  I've seen this when God answers both our spoken and unspoken prayers.  He knows what's best for each of us, according to His pre-ordained plan for us.

         "Sometimes people who try to run from God are acting out of pure selfishness—it seems we have an unlimited capacity to believe we know what is best for us, no matter what God thinks or says. At times we balk out of simple fear: we are afraid that we might not succeed; we are concerned that others will be critical of our efforts; or perhaps we fear obedience might be too costly. But no matter what our reason is, we often fail to recognize the high price of turning aside and trying to flee from the Lord.  God has given believers personalities, abilities, and spiritual gifts which will equip them to accomplish His specific plans for their lives. But each one must choose to step out in faith and obedience. At times the Lord challenges us to do something that seems beyond our ability, but if we back off, we’ll miss His awesome blessings."  [intouch.org]

       Certain attitudes prevent our receiving the Father’s intended blessings:   [intouch.org]

Impatience...... We want it now and are unwilling to trust that God is in control.

Insecurity......... We feel that if certain things don’t happen, we simply cannot continue.

Identity in the wrong things....... We feel good about ourselves only if we are a success by societal standards.

Ignorance of the Word....... We decide for ourselves what is right.

Impure motives...... Discontent or jealousy causes us to push ahead of God and use manipulation to get our way.

Impulsiveness......... Without asking God, we assume every seeming opportunity is a door He has opened.

Ingratitude..... Lack of thankfulness for what He’s given skews our perspective.

Notice these obstacles all start with “I”! Humility does not come naturally. [intouch.org]

 Let us not only humble ourselves, but think of others first; in prayer, thoughts and actions.  We will be blessed, when we bless others.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Spiritual State of Mind

Psalm 25:16  "Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted."

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."

         Today's blog is about what our spiritual state of mind is and how to benefit from it.  We have all experienced a state of loneliness, regardless of whether we have many friends or very few.  Being alone and being lonely are two very different things.  You can be alone in a room and be fully content but you can also be in a crowded room and feel completely alone.

        "The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.” 

        As for myself, I can completely identify with the quote just above.  I've had life moments where I've just had to roll with the punches and the flow of life.  There was nothing I could do, but trust God and His Word that "He works all things for good, for those that love Him."  Being humans, we will all experience times of loneliness. But Jesus helps us understand that we always have the presence of the Father with us. God is omnipresent and eternal. Only He can be with us all the time, for all time.

       "The world constantly changes; it is never constant except in its disappointments. How quickly we may move our lodgings and make our pillow in the dust! The world is but a great inn where we are to stay a little night or two, and then be gone. What madness it is so to set our heart upon our inn - as to forget our eternal home! [ Thomas Watson]
       "The One who loves us perfectly is in full control, working everything out according to His good purpose. Knowing this should fill us with hope, even in the midst of crisis situations. The Lord even promises to turn disaster to good for those who “are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28)."  [ F. Scott Fitzgerald]

        “We can say with Romans 8:28 that God uses all things for the good of those who love him, even our loneliness, because our loneliness leads us to our deepest spiritual need, who is Christ. And we can also say with 1 John 3:20 that, even when we feel condemned, God is greater than our hearts and that loneliness cannot separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38–39). We have a solution to our spiritual problem, and if we will submit to the Lord and accept his solution for our deepest spiritual problem, the atoning work of Christ on the cross, God can attack loneliness at its root and overcome the pain of separation in our lives that leads to separation from him, which leads to separation from other people.” [odb.org]

       “Loneliness is a wilderness, but through receiving it as a gift, accepting it from the hand of God, and offering it back to him with thanksgiving, it may become a pathway to holiness, to glory and to God himself” (Elisabeth Elliot).

        “The wilderness is that season of our lives where God, through our loneliness, teaches us that his will is to do something in us, not merely do something for us. That is, by walking by faith and not by sight, he works in us a stronger faith, leading to a deeper worship that results in a greater joy.”

       “Loneliness is seeking to run from the presence of people and the pressures of life, and to withdraw from reality, but aloneness is experiencing the reality of God’s presence, running into the hiding place, not so you can just escape, but so you can enjoy God’s presence.  The hiding place can be viewed as that place or season in our lives when we run from people and circumstances, feel that the world is against us, and embrace loneliness only to encounter God, learn that he is for us, and therefore experience true aloneness.”  [P. Matthies]

       As you finish reading this blog, I hope you see loneliness with a new perspective.  To see it more as an opportunity to draw closer to God and bring Him to others.  "There is no deeper sadness that ever comes over the mind than the idea that we are alone in the world, that we do not have a friend, that no one cares for us, that no one is concerned about anything that might happen to us, that no one would care if we were to die or shed a tear over our grave.  Whatever the cause of loneliness, for the Christian the cure is always the same—the comforting fellowship of Christ. He is the friend who “sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24), who lays down His life for His friends (John 15:13-15), and who has promised never to leave us or forsake us but to be with us until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). We can take comfort in the words of the old hymn that says it best: “Friends may fail me, foes assail me, He is with me to the end. Hallelujah, what a Savior!”" [gotquestions.org]


Saturday, July 6, 2019

The World Changes, God Does Not

1 John 2:15-17  

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Romans 12:2 

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Psalm 136:1

 "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.  His love endures forever."

Philippians 3:8

  "I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord."

         Today's blog is about how we must follow our unchanging God and not the ever-changing world.  I'm sure it's true with all generations, but I am amazed and shocked by how much the world I live in has changed in my short lifetime.  The wickedness of our culture in values, morals, tolerance, and behavior is flabbergasting and the acceptance of it is worrisome.  We live in a throw-away society, where very few things remain lasting; marriages, jobs, family ties, and the golden rule of treat others how you want to be treated.  We do have a safe, unchanging place to go to, Jesus Christ.  "In the darkest hours of life, only through the eyes of faith can we see the loving hand of God." [ odb.org]
         Even when we feel discouraged and disconnected from God, we can remember that He will help us advance in our faith by making us more like His Son. His Word assures us that “He who has begun a good work in [us] will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). [odb.org]

         "One reason we stop following God’s plan is the influence of our culture. Ungodly people are always ready to give believers advice, and too often we find the world’s methods and “wisdom” attractive. Divine direction is needed if we are to set ourselves apart from nonbelievers’ thinking and yet stay close enough to be able to share God’s viewpoint and message of hope with them."  [intouch.org]

Our unchanging God, however, has promised that His loving mercy endures forever. In Psalm 136, the singer celebrates this wonderful promise by making statements about God’s wonder, work, and character. He then punctuates each statement about God with the phrase, “For His mercy endures forever.” Whether it is the wonder of His creation (vv.4-9), the rescue of His people (vv.10-22), or His tender care for His own (vv.23-26), we can trust Him because His mercy will never fail. In a temporary world, the permanence of God’s mercy gives us hope. We can sing with the psalmist, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (v.1). [odb.org]

          Our trust is also strengthened by God's inviolable, steadfast, never-failing faithfulness. God's goodness inclines him to make his promises, and his faithfulness engages him to keep them. If the Word has once gone out of his mouth, heaven and earth shall pass away sooner, than one iota of it will fail (Luke 21:33). God in faithfulness will make good his promises. He never has and never will fail the man who puts his trust in him (Psalm 9:10). - Thomas Lye

         It’s not our responsibility to change our culture. Only the power of God through the gospel can do that!  We are good—and we please God—when our hope and faith are in Christ alone, not in our goodness.

Christ frees us from the penalty
And power of our sin,
And He will change society

As hearts are changed within. —Sper

I sing of mercies that endure,
Forever builded firm and sure,
Of faithfulness that never dies,
Established changeless in the skies. —Psalter

God’s grace is immeasurable; His mercy inexhaustible; His peace inexpressible.