Come Before God And Stay Awhile

Can you be quiet?

Psalm 62:5-8 Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.

6 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. 7 My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.

8 O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.

Usually when you go to see somebody it is because you have a purpose for the visit, some kind of agenda that you want to accomplish, as soon as we see them we start in on our list. It is too easy to approach God with the same mentality, we step into his presence and start in on what we have to say and when we are finished we go on our way, we never think that maybe God wants more out of our relationship.

To allow yourself to be in God’s presence without talking is to acknowledge that God is in control and that he is our hope. If we can come into his presence and just be quiet and refrain from talking  about yourself or about anything else that is cluttering up your mind is then we have proven that we are relying on him for everything.

God is looking out for our complete well being, our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being are in his hands. He is our fortress, a place of rest and refuge, there isn’t any good reason to put my confidence anywhere else, whether it be self confidence, confidence in somebody else or idolatry, nothing else can compare to God’s goodness and providential care.

I need to remember that he is a fortress, he is my salvation, my victory and honor comes from him and nowhere else. I need to approach him quietly and listen to his voice instead of making him always listen to my ramblings about my cares.

When Faith is a Mystery

Faith can be a mystery to us as we struggle with the deeper questions and the more daunting challenges that we can face. It’s not so much the question of its existence. After all, most who abide in it understand that “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) Rather, it’s a question of the why and how, finding ourselves wondering what possible good could come out of this even as we try to hold fast to the hope that we need.

Sometimes we don’t easily or quickly find the answers we need. Sometimes it feels as if we push a little too hard, trying to get to where we want to be, to where we feel like we need to be. We battle with these ideas and these thoughts that we just can’t seem to escape telling us something needs to be different, trying so hard to convince ourselves that these things too shall pass, but not entirely sure when or even if they ever really will.

It’s in these times that we struggle, not necessarily with the existence of God, but in what grand scheme, what grand design He has for us. We just don’t necessarily know. We cling to the promises that He has made, the promise that He will never fail us or forsake us (Joshua 1:5) or that if we need answers that He will give them to us. (James 1:5) We pray with that sincere heart, searching for the purpose and the meaning we are in such desperate need of and it seems like it is far removed from our lives.

What we have to remember is that God, He never promised us that the road we are going to go down was going to be an easy one, nor does He promise us easy answers or quick fixes. Sometimes we are told that our Heavenly Father, He just wants us to be happy. The truth is He does, there is little question of that. The redeeming sacrifice of His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, is the perfect example of that. Yet, He wants us to be happy for the right reasons and the right times, knowing that He has a time for all things. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) This is the way that He ensures that we are as He wills, never letting anything touch us that is more than we can handle. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Though the answers and the reasons may not be clearly apparent at first, this is why Christ, our blessed and good Shepherd, is there for us. He is there not just as the great and wondrous deliverance for our sins, but also to take upon Himself the yoke of our burdens, giving us the rest, hope and peace that we so need during the trials that we must face during this existence. (Matthew 11:28-29)

God’s path, and His design may not be the simplest or the easiest. It may, at times, even go beyond our ability to understand or comprehend as we travel it. That’s okay. Not all things are meant to be revealed right then or there, regardless of the challenges it may create. Sometimes, by knowing at that very moment it would even create a greater challenge to the spirit and to the soul that we just find ourselves unable to wrap our heads around, because not only did we not need to know right then, we just aren’t capable of knowing right then and there. Sometimes we need time to travel down that path to give us what we need to grow, to be, to find ourselves before the answers make any sort of sense to us.

Sometimes we need to let go of the how and the why and let ourselves be just transcend it. We need not to think of faith as a mystery but as a journey through the deeper places within ourselves, knowing that the trials we face and the adversities that are there are nothing more than markers on a road towards a greater end for our lives. We grow when we learn to let go, and we learn that though the moments may be hard, all of them weave together to create a greater picture that we are meant to see with time and space.

Let these moments pass through you, but don’t let their lessons pass by you as you search for meaning in them. In the end they will tell you of a grander, greater vision that God, in His infinite love has for you. You just have to let it.

God Cares For His People

God is the ultimate family man.

1 Kings 17:8-16  Then the LORD said to Elijah, 9  “Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you.”

10  So he went to Zarephath. As he arrived at the gates of the village, he saw a widow gathering sticks, and he asked her, “Would you please bring me a little water in a cup?” 11  As she was going to get it, he called to her, “Bring me a bite of bread, too.”

12  But she said, “I swear by the LORD your God that I don’t have a single piece of bread in the house. And I have only a handful of flour left in the jar and a little cooking oil in the bottom of the jug. I was just gathering a few sticks to cook this last meal, and then my son and I will die.”

13  But Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and do just what you’ve said, but make a little bread for me first. Then use what’s left to prepare a meal for yourself and your son. 14  For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the LORD sends rain and the crops grow again!”

15  So she did as Elijah said, and she and Elijah and her son continued to eat for many days. 16  There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the LORD had promised through Elijah.

Every time that God punished the nation of Israel there was always a prophet to announce to the people and make it clear that the harsh times that were coming wasn’t just a coincidence but that it was a result of their sin and turning away from God.

God’s punishment for the sins of the nation of Israel didn’t exclude the prophets that were sent to announce the coming judgment, they also had to live through the hard times, but God took care of the men that took a stand for him and were willing to live for him.

Elijah told his countrymen that there would not be any rain which would in turn create a famine and even though Elijah had to live through the condition that he prophesied about he was sustained by God’s care. At first God provided a brook for Elijah to drink from and he sent the ravens to deliver meat for his prophet, but then after the brook ran out of water God chose a different way to provide for Elijah.

There were plenty of widows in Israel, women whose husbands had been killed in battle but God didn’t send Elijah to live with them but instead he was sent to a Gentile widow. Who knows, maybe this Gentile widow was a God fearing woman and was far more faithful than any of the widows of Israel. She certainly had some measure of faith since she was willing to prepare food and water for Elijah prior to feeding herself or her son. She believed in the promise of God and showed it by giving him his part first and then taking her portion from what was left.

Over and over again in scripture we see the Lord use the weak in this world as we see him give them the opportunity to do his work instead of the strong.

God’s people will have to suffer in this world when the country that they live in strays away from him. As America drifts away from God his people may have to suffer and may be persecuted but he will sustain his people and give them a bright future.

In desperate times we need to have the faith that God will sustain us.

Thank you for your love and goodness that provides for and sustains your people. I pray that our country will return to you and declare that you are the one and only God.

Romans: Fulfillment of the Law

Romans 8:4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

As Christians, it’s no longer our duty to live up to the Law.  The commands given to those under the old covenant are no longer our marching orders.  What then; do we throw away all of the commands as if they don’t matter?  No, we fulfill the Law by obeying our new command.

Jesus did not tell those under the new covenant to try and keep up the old.  Instead He gave a new command: to love.  (Romans 13:8-10)

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.  For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

It’s really as simple as that.  You want to obey God? Love.  You want to please Him? Love.  You want to do what’s right? Love.  Freedom from the Law is freedom to walk in love, and in doing so to fulfill the Law.

Marking Success and Failure

How do we mark our lives? How do we note the successes of it? How do we mark the triumphs that come with it?

Last week we talked about the feelings of failure that we can have. We talked about those gnawing senses that something just isn’t right. It was a question of when you look around and you can’t help but feel yourself overwhelmed and even a bit overshadowed as this sense that something just isn’t as it should be comes to dominate over you, leaving you with this lingering feeling that you aren’t as you should be.

It’s a difficult challenge that we can face, one that can wreak a special sort of havoc on us. Yet sometimes it’s not a matter of how we understand success or failure. It’s a matter of how we understand life.

You see, for as much as we want it to be sometimes, life isn’t something that’s just black and white. Situations, circumstances, they don’t make it that simplistic. Yes, perhaps we want it to be. It would, in most cases, make everything a lot easier for us. There wouldn’t be the conflicts and the struggles that cause the deeper questions to arise within us. We would know who we are, what we were meant for. No one and nothing could take that from us, because we would see the path’s that are in front of us just so much clearer.

It’s why we need to understand that though God has plans for our lives, plans that He has set out since the moment of our conception, since the time of our birth, (Jeremiah 1:5) it’s never quite as simple or easy as we may like it to be. This isn’t because God is somehow confusing. Our Heavenly Father is anything but, making Himself apparent in all things if we choose to look and to see it. (Isaiah 40:21) The problem is we don’t necessarily live in a world that’s that cut and dry, in a world that is solely guided by His hand and His influence.

Perhaps this is why we are called His workmanship, created anew in Christ for the works that He has intended for us. (Ephesians 2:10) Note the fact that isn’t that it doesn’t tell us that we are completed. No, it tells us that we are a worked by the hand of the Master Craftsman Himself, molded and form, shaped for the things that He has intended for us and for our lives.

What needs to be remembered is that though God’s design for our lives is towards the divine, He sets out His plan for our life with a deep knowledge of this world and our nature. He understands that to the person who everything is given, nothing is really valued, and to those who are never challenged, nothing is ever enough. It isn’t a matter of testing us, it is a matter of teaching us all that we need to know, never giving us more than we can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13) while showing us the path, showing us the road and the journey that we need to be on.

God uses this, whether it is our failure or our success, to guide us. They don’t define us, not even our greatest success or most tremendous of failures. They are intended to be nothing more than the deeper lessons that we can learn as we are directed towards the people we need to be. Even as one failure grips us, a success is waiting around the corner, and just as one success satisfies this need in us, chances are there are more failures still waiting for our lives. It’s because our Heavenly Father, He knows us. He knows that there are certain things we are only going to examine, that we are only going to question, and to actively seek the answers for, the answers He is waiting to give us (James 1:5) in these situations. Sometimes we need to be humbled to find where we need to be, while other times He elevates us because these triumphs are meant to show us a view that we need to have.

In all of this the question the Disciple needs to ask themselves is why? Why has this happened? It’s not a question to be taken lightly, or out of a sense of pity or arrogance. It’s a question that is meant to lead them towards the sense that they are supposed to make out of it, so they can find what God is trying to show them for their lives.

Once you see your successes and your failures as nothing more than markers on the road of life you can set about really living your life, moving through the journey that it’s intended to be to become the person that you need to. Each one step, it tells you, teaches you a little something about yourself as it shows you not who you are but directs you, in love, hope, faith and compassion, towards the person you need to be.

As we understand that we understand what is intended for us better than we ever did before dwelling on nothing more than the challenges, and the successes and failures of our lives.

Romans: Power Over Sin

Romans 8:3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh

 We misunderstand the Law handed down by God if we think it’s our job to keep it fully in order to be on the Lord’s good side.  I’m not talking about earning salvation, most Christians would agree that we are saved by grace through faith alone and that our good works don’t get us there.  But what happens after that?  Something seems to change inside of us that makes us think we can now earn God’s favor by obedience to His Law even after we’ve been saved.

Just as we couldn’t keep the whole Law before we were in Christ, we still can’t keep the whole Law after we’ve been saved.  We’ve been freed from sin and empowered to obey, but we’ll still never make it to the perfection the Law requires.  We’re still human.

So, if we can’t keep the Law, what purpose does it serve Christians?  If it doesn’t earn us salvation and it doesn’t perfect us in sanctification, what is it good for?

The Law does serve a purpose in showing us our sin.  It shows us our need for Jesus.  This is true on both sides of salvation as it shows us our need for a Savior before when we are lost and then shows us our continual need for the power of the Holy Spirit working in us as we walk in our faith.  God knew we would never live up to the Law.  It’s why He sent His Son to fulfill the Law that we might be freed from it’s bondage.  Now it serves as a reminder that we need Him every single day.

 

Where Is Your Bible Hiding

If it really is God’s word then why don’t we use it more?

2 Peter 2:1-3, 13-15  But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves.

2  Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. 3  In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed.

13  Their destruction is their reward for the harm they have done. They love to indulge in evil pleasures in broad daylight. They are a disgrace and a stain among you. They delight in deception even as they eat with you in your fellowship meals. 14  They commit adultery with their eyes, and their desire for sin is never satisfied. They lure unstable people into sin, and they are well trained in greed. They live under God’s curse. 15  They have wandered off the right road and followed the footsteps of Balaam son of Beor, who loved to earn money by doing wrong.

2 Peter 3:3-4  Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. 4  They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”

Do you see your Bible as a valuable asset? It is a very useful tool that will help you to avoid many dangers as you navigate life. Chapters two and three of Second Peter give us two good reasons to be in God’s word everyday:

So that you won’t be deceived by the false prophets and teachers.

Peter warns us all about false prophets and how you can easily spot them, he spells out exactly how they behave, he also gives us plenty of warning to steer clear of this group so that we won’t share in the judgment that is waiting for them.

So that you won’t deceive yourself and become a scoffer or a mocker.

What a danger to become one that ridicules the things of God, this may be a person that is led astray on their own or it could be somebody that fell for the lies of the false teachers. The best way to know God and be wise about the things that are important to him is to study his word every day. He has revealed as much about him as we need to know, for now, through what is revealed of himself in scripture.

It is amazing that our creator gave us an instruction book for life, a book that has proved it’s worth, and yet we don’t rush to it so that we can benefit from the instruction that God gave us.

I will stay in God’s word everyday so that I will be pleasing to him.

Thank you Lord for showing us how to be pleasing to you and warning us of the destruction of following after false teachings and ideas that we dream up about you.

That Feeling of Being a Failure

It’s hard, at times, not to feel a bit like a failure, isn’t it? Sometimes we know exactly where these feelings coming from, we tried something and it didn’t work or something in our lives just isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. It’s a lot easier in those moments because we know what the problem is, and, even if we don’t necessarily know how to fix it, we can pinpoint it, we can put our finger on it and we can try to figure out how to make that change, even if we know it’s going to be slow going.

The real challenge is when we feel like that failure and we don’t necessarily know where it comes from. It’s when this darkness seems to just twist and turn around us, and we can’t quite manage to put our finger on what it is or why it’s there. It could be a combination any number of things and yet nothing at the same time, just this lingering feeling that something isn’t right, and you’re the one to blame.

Have you ever felt that way? Looking around, kind of questioning what’s wrong with your life as you know it’s something but you can’t quite put your finger on it. Slowly you start to feel overwhelmed and overshadowed until finally it becomes this inescapable feeling that dominates so many of your thoughts as you wonder what you’re even doing, trying to define your life, trying to figure it all out, but not entirely sure where to go or where to start.

In a sense there is no simple answer to this question, except life itself.

You see, by its very nature, life and living is an act of faith. It is an understanding that it is going to be wrought with challenges and adversity, with struggles and things that we just don’t seem to understand. Yet it is also a question of living for the moments of joy and peace, knowing that whatever darkness may surround us, they do come and they wrap around us in ways that bring to us a hope that we can feel devoid of in our lives at times. Perhaps we don’t even realize we are living in that faith, but, by living and breathing, by taking those steps forward we are seeking out the answers that we need to find our place.

The beauty of it though is that it is nothing that we have to go through alone. To live in faith is never to walk a solitary or lonely path. It is to have a constant companion with you, a confidant who doesn’t only know every unspoken place within you, but who doesn’t need for you to say it to see it. As our blessed Savior, Christ Jesus, reminds us, even when we feel the most alone, we never are because God, our Heavenly Father, is there to carry us through the most difficult of chapters and the most trying of times. (John 16:32-33) In this love, and commitment to us, He never fails us or forsakes us. (Joshua 1:5)

Yes, there are perhaps going to be times in our lives when it feels like the world, when it feels like our world, is just nothing that we quite understand, and we feel like a failure in it, unable to necessarily do anything right. Yet that’s never just the end of the story for us. There is a plan for our lives, one that has been set out from the day in which we were conceive, appointed by the Great Architect and the Grand Designer of the Universe (Jeremiah 1:5), the Creator who has made all things small and large, who takes not only an active interest in your life, but whose hand guides it.

For whatever other struggles we may know, for whatever failures we may think have taken hold of our lives, that is nothing more than the beginning of the story, a story of self-discover and self-awareness that shows us our true worth and value beyond anything we ever quite knew. It just has to come with the understanding that though God answers all questions for us, giving to us freely of His knowledge, (James 1:5) not all answers we feel we need are the ones that we need right at that moment. It’s a matter of relying on His understanding, His timing, more than our own, knowing that it will come. (Habakkuk 2:3) Revealing itself in its own time, in His time, it comes when we need it most.

Failure, for however it might feel, for whatever challenges it may bring, or wherever it may come from, is nothing more than a path towards a greater end if we let it be. Yes, perhaps we don’t necessarily even know why we feel like a failure, but then, whatever those feelings are, or wherever they come from, they need not weaken you if you understand they are not meant to drag you down, but rather push you forward. The struggles that it brings, it is meant to teach us more about ourselves, about who we are and what we want, about the intrinsic value of success that could and would otherwise be lost on us.

We are defined by what we let define us. We can define ourselves by what truly matters if we look at each day of our lives as a deeper journey into our faith, and understand that these feelings, they are not defining feelings, but tools to help us build the path, to lay the brick work that will lead us down the road of our greatest possible success, a success that our Heavenly Father wants for us to have in our lives.

Keep My Commands

Commands of Jesus Series

John 14:15  “If you love Me, obey My commandments.

1 John 2:5  But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love Him. That is how we know we are living in Him.

I have been studying the fifty commands that Jesus gave us while he was on earth and now today I come to the command that tells me to obey all of the other forty-nine commands. So what’s the big deal? Why is it so important that I bother with studying what Jesus told me to do and then why should I have to attempt to put these rules into practice?

Jesus told us that the only reason that he expects us to live by his teaching is because we love him. There is no other way to show proof of our love for him than to keep his commandments. Professing that I love him isn’t any proof, anybody can throw words around but if I agree with Jesus about what is right and wrong then I can’t refuse to obey or I will be a hypocrite.

It is pretty obvious that I love him if I am denying myself, taking up my cross, loving everybody without complaining about how they treated me. If I am laying up treasure in heaven, seeking opportunities to serve, protecting my marriage and making disciples then the world will know that we truly love Jesus our Savior. Isn’t that what really matters?

I will strive and pray daily that I will be faithful to the teachings of Jesus, it isn’t about following a list of rules, it’s about showing the world through my obedience that God’s truths matters.Help me to obey your commands everyday Lord, give me the wisdom and the strength to put your teaching into practice and give me grace for when I fall short.

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Romans: Free in Christ

Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last!  The work of Jesus Christ on the cross accomplished what you and I could never achieved for ourselves.  Under the Law, we could never reach the expectations of a holy God who requires perfection.  The Law is restrictive, Christ is freeing.

Though we had the Law, in being unable to keep it we earned death.  Because of our sinful nature, into which we were born, we never stood a chance at anything other than bondage and suffering.  But in His love, God made a way for us to know freedom and life.  In freeing us from the bondage of the Law, Jesus gave us true life and true freedom.

There is no reason to keep living as though we’re under the restraints of the Law.  This is not license to sin, but rather freedom to obey God.  True freedom is a life submitted to the lordship of Jesus Christ, and in this freedom there is life, peace, joy, and real fellowship with God.  This abundant life is bought and paid for by Christ, our Redeemer, Savior, and friend.