Tag Archives: God

True security

Psalm 91:2  I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.

Just as we seek satisfaction and pleasure in meaningless things in this life, we also seek security in equally meaningless things.  We have a tendency to think that having enough money will keep us safe from disaster or unhappiness, that enough respect will keep us free from loneliness, that enough power will keep us secure from threats.

But the day comes for everyone when that stuff isn’t enough.  The economy tanks, a mistake is made that ruins a hard-earned reputation, the job that seemed stable is lost.  These things, for all they promise, can’t provide security.  Only he who puts his trust in the Lord will find true refuge.

God is able to be our shelter from life’s hurts, our fortress from attack, our deliverer from danger.  Only He is enough.  Only He can live up to the promise of security.  Dwell in Him and He will prove faithful.

———-  Think of one thing that you’ve put your trust in, only to have it fail to live up to its promises. Now compare that to God’s faithfulness shown in Scripture.

To God be the glory

1 Corinthians 10:31  So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

What is the meaning of life?  It’s a question that’s been asked throughout the ages.  What am I here for?  Why did God make me?  These questions will be asked for many ages to come, yet the answers are right before us.  They aren’t hidden from us.  Within God’s Word is the meaning of life.

Many attempts have been made, many guesses at the meaning of life.  From the simple yet naïve “Happiness” to the more discerning “helping others”, we’ve tried to figure it all out.  But we need not guess.  God did not leave this question open-ended.  He spoke and we should listen.

We’re told repeatedly in the Bible that all things were made by God and for God (Colossians 1:16, Romans 11:36).  This includes us.  You and I were made by God for God’s glory.  We’re made in His image! (Genesis 1:27)  I love how Psalm 8 describes God’s creation and our relationship to it. Salvation comes from Him and Him alone.  Not one of us is worthy of one bit of the glory. We are the created but He is the Creator, the Sanctifier, the Redeemer, the Savior.

None of this is by accident, none of it coincidence.  We’re all created with a purpose and that purpose is God’s.  We’re here for Him.  So what do we do?  Live like it!  Whatever we do: when we work, when we play, when we create, when we marry…when we die…  We can do it all for the glory of our God.

 

God Helps Those…

overcastJohn 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

One of the most often quoted theological statements is “God helps those who help themselves”. The troubling thing about basing one’s view of God on this idea is that it’s just not biblical (The statement itself is most often attributed to Benjamin Franklin). One of the main themes of the Bible is that man is incapable of helping himself. Apart from God we are depraved, unable to life ourselves out of the pit that sin has led us to. We cannot help ourselves.

But God, in His sovereignty, chooses to help us anyway. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). In other words, He helped us though we were not helping ourselves. Even if we tried to gain some ground without God, our best efforts are useless (Isaiah 64:6). Our Lord knew we would be helpless. His plan is to be our refuge, our shelter (Isaiah 25:4), our comforter (John 14:16), our advocate (1 John 2:1). The list goes on. Why would God have such descriptive names of one who defends and provides for the helpless if we were able to doing anything for ourselves?

Secular theology may find it reasonable to accept that we must do something to earn God’s favor, but to the Christian it’s irreconcilable with The Word. God helps those who cannot help themselves. Find rest in that. Live with that hope.

Fix your mind on God

lightstock_152996_medium_user_3963721Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

The saying goes, “Garbage in, garbage out.” This is as true of the heart as it is of the mind. If we fill up our lives with the wrong stuff, there’s no more room for the right stuff.

This past week, as I was teaching the elementary school aged kids in church, I spoke on this topic. I talked about Romans 12:2 and being transformed by the renewal of your mind and how that meant that you need to spend time with God daily by reading what He has said in His Word. We talked about how we can have peace in times of fear or comfort in times of worry if we have our minds set on the Lord. Sensing that the kids were getting it, but needed a bit more, I gave an analogy.

If we were to only feed our bodies once a week, we’d be incredibly weak and may even starve. That would be nonsense, yet we do it spiritually by not spending time in the Word more than once or twice a week. How could we expect to know God’s will or to have peace when we haven’t been with the one who leads and comforts? It’s ludicrous.

The truth is, to be truly healthy mentally, we’ve got to have the right thoughts. In order to have the right thoughts, we’ve got to put the right things into our mind. We’ve got to feed our minds with the Scriptures, our spiritual food. That’s how we stay fixed on God.

Can I challenge you, if you’re not already reading the Bible daily to start with a Bible reading plan? There are some great ones available online.

Meet with God daily

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Proverbs 8:34 Blessed is the one who listens to me,
watching daily at my gates,
waiting beside my doors.

 

 

 

 

In the world of Christianity, we’ve come to refer to prayer time spent with God as “quiet time,” but in my life there’s very little time that could be qualified as “quiet.” With three little kids running around, it’s not easy to etch out time for a daily devotional time. Waking up earlier is not always an option, because certain kids in my home (who shall remain unnamed) wake up at incredibly early hours. So am I doing this quiet time thing all wrong? Am I less of a Christian if I don’t follow the many people who get up SO early and spend that time dedicated to the Lord?

The thing is, when we boil down time with God to a few minutes first thing in the morning, we do two things: 1) we cause people who don’t do well at that to feel very guilty or like a failure, and 2) we make prayer to our Father into something that can just be checked off of a list. Time with God is so much more than something to get us going in the morning, though it’s a great way to start the day. It’s an ongoing conversation throughout the day with Him.

Reality check: All that said, if we don’t take some time every day to intentionally meet with God, it may never happen at any other time during the day. If you’re like me, that may not mean you do “quiet time” when you first wake up. I’m willing to be that many of you, like me, don’t function at all until the first cup of coffee has been consumed. I spend time with God after I’m capable of processing what I’m reading from His Word and able to communicate coherently in prayer. Maybe that’s not the way everyone does it, but the important thing is that I spend time with my Lord every day.

He’s always got something to say to me, and I’ve always got something to say to Him. It’s time well spent. Better than anything else I could be doing, as a mater of fact. If you don’t take specific time to meet with God daily, will you give it a try? Start today.

Everlasting to Everlasting

Psalm 90:2  Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Our God is eternal.  He has existed from before time and will continue in existence for all eternity.  From everlasting to everlasting He is God.  You’ve probably heard this truth before, but have you taken the time to meditate on it?

There’s assurance in the fact that the God to whom we belong has always been and will always be.  He knew you before there was a you.  He’s aware of your every struggle and He cares about your every pain.

Unlike the false gods of this world, our God lives and cannot die.  He is present in your life and seeks a deeper relationship with you, His child.  Take comfort in knowing that the Creator of all things has everything under His control.  He is capable of being our dwelling place because He is eternal and unchanging.  Abide in Him.

Continue reading Everlasting to Everlasting

Falling from grace

Galatians 5:1-6 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

What does it mean to “fall from grace”?  We have this impression in our minds that when someone commits a serious sin or gets found out for some secret sin, that all of a sudden grace is gone and the person is left to the wolves, unable to be saved.  But when that person is already saved, when that person has already been forgiven for every sin they’ll ever commit…how can they “fall from grace?”  This is contradictory to the gospel.

I was reading a book earlier today called Jesus + Nothing = Everything (I highly recommend reading it), and one part in particular struck me.  It struck me because I had never thought of things in the terms of the author, but they were no less true.  He pointed out the passage I’ve quoted up above and caused the reader to look at the part where Paul tells the Galatians that some have fallen from grace.  Notice he doesn’t say that they fell from grace because of some heinous sin.  He says they fell from grace because they accepted legalism as a way to salvation.  Legalism is the enemy of grace.  It is literally the WORST enemy of grace.

For those of us who have been redeemed by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, those of us who have saved by grace through faith, we have been set free.  That freedom means we’re not under legalism anymore.  We’re not under the yolk of slavery that legalism brings.  We’re free to obey the law, not oppressed by it.  So when we fail and miss a step, either intentionally or unintentionally, it doesn’t mean that Jesus’ grace doesn’t still cover us.  His grace is sufficient for all our sins, for all time.  No sin can separate us from Him once we’ve already been justified and found not guilty.  He already paid the price for our sin, so we can’t just fall away from His grace because we did something wrong.  No, we can only fall from grace in one way.  If we don’t trust in Him alone for that justification.

When we begin to think that it’s Jesus plus some other act or ritual that gets us to God, we’re not accepting grace, we’re trying to win God’s favor through our actions.  That’s just not the way things work.  He forgives us in one way and it’s through Jesus.  When Christ died, the holy, sinless Son of God took on the sin of the whole world and bore the punishment for us all.  In exchange, when we believe in Him for our salvation, we gain His righteousness, the perfect standing before God that only someone who has lived a perfect life can every receive.  Because He already won the victory, we don’t have to worry about losing His grace.

God’s grace is powerful.  It’s so powerful that once we’ve received it, we’re set free in a way that nothing else could achieve.  His grace is enough.  We don’t have to add to it.  We’re not only saved by His grace, He continually works on us through His grace (sanctification) and ultimately brings us to Himself through grace.  We can depend on that, we don’t need to depend on ourselves to earn standing with God.

Our refuge

Psalm 18:2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Where do you turn when things get tough? Your answer to that question reveals a lot about your faith. Do you put your trust in things that can’t deliver? Do you find comfort from that which cannot guarantee it? There’s only one safe place to turn. God is our refuge.

The very same God who spared Noah’s family from the flood, delivered His people into the promised land, defeated an army using only 300 men, and sent a Savior to earth will be there in your struggles. He’s there fore you in your loss, in your surprising diagnosis, your layoff, or your broken relationship. You can turn to Him when you’re hurt, afraid, worried, depressed, confused, or unsure. He’s been there. He understands your needs, frustrations, and heart-felt desires.

Your heavenly Father can deliver on anything because He owns it all. Most of all, He can provide comfort. That other stuff – money, therapy, alcohol – none of them make a good refuges in which to take shelter. Only in the arms of your loving Father can you truly be safe and secure. He loves you, He cares for you, and He’s available anytime you need Him.

Awe: God in the flesh

Colossians 1:15-20  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Can I be honest with you all? Sometimes I forget what it’s all about. I have this habit of making my life about me and when I do that I get things all twisted. It’s no wonder I sometimes lose my awe for God. I’m focused on myself.

The thing about this world and this life is it’s all about Jesus. If you want to have joy, look to Jesus. If you want peace, look to Jesus. If you’re looking for healing, look to Jesus. If you want to know God – look to Jesus. He’s the image of the invisible God. Everything God the Father wanted us to know of himself, He revealed in the Son (Hebrews 1:2-3).

With everything going on in this busy world, it’s far too easy to get lost in the wrong stuff and forget what really matters. All things were created through Christ, for Christ. It doesn’t matter what people think of you, it doesn’t matter what you have or where you live. What matters is Him.

Take some time and reflect on who Jesus is – God in the flesh. Just think about the fact that the Creator of the universe came down into humankind and revealed himself. You will be in awe.

Why Do Good Things Happen to Bad People?

 

For as beautiful as faith is, for as wondrous as the hope that it brings can be, the devout and determined Disciple meets with challenges to it daily.

I sat across from a friend recently, and I had to ask, “How is your faith?” I could hear it in his voice, the pain and the struggle. Life, it gets hard for all of us, and in those moments as we feel the weight of it bearing down on us, we can’t help but wonder to ourselves. We feel angry but once the anger subsides, as the fairness, or lack thereof, of it weighs down on us, it turns to a sort of quiet depression as we try to figure out what’s the point of trying when all trying seems to do is lead to disappointment.

After a brief moment of silence he met my eyes, and with a slight sigh, shrugged as he answered, “Not as strong as it used to be…”

His problem, his challenge, the question that lingered on his mind was a simple one, one that we all perhaps battle with now and then, but that we don’t give much thought to during the good times in our lives when things seem simple and easy for us. When the rough times come though, it plagues us as we try to hold on to our faith while remaining a good person, while trying to live the life that we know we should live.

“Why do bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people?” That was the sum of his problem, the one question that he couldn’t quite wrap his head around. The truth is that I’ve been there, I’ve toiled and struggled with the same question, with the same thought rolling around my mind. I’ve wondered why and how a loving God, a caring God, one who is meant to draw His children so near could let them slip so far away from Him. In the depths of depression I wondered how He could be so far removed from the toils of us mere mortals He so loved, that He loved so dearly that He gave His only Son as a sacrifice for. (John 3:16)

The question though answers itself. Yes, it seems as if “good things happen to bad people” while “bad things happen to good people” but the question of why that is the case isn’t so much a mystery, or at the very least, isn’t as big of a mystery as we perhaps let it become in our own minds.

Let’s consider, for a moment, the nature of this world. Despite the imperfections of it, despite our own imperfections, God is not removed from us, nor is He, even in His own perfections, distant from this world. (Romans 3:22-24) Yet in this He warns us that this world that we live in, because of its flawed nature, is going to be a battleground, it is going to be a place of a deep and lasting spiritual warfare. The temptation of Christ (Luke 4:1-13) itself is very telling of just that, not just because our blessed Savior faced the challenge of the sin and the Devil as we did but because he tempted Him in every way he knew would possibly make Him stumble.

This is what he does with us. He looks into our hearts, he examines and he explores our spirits and our souls, searching them for the weaknesses that we have, for those small shreds of self-doubt, for those little bits of vanity, for any piece of pettiness or pain that might plague us. He uses them against us, he turns them against us, to swallow us whole in them and thus devour us himself. (1Peter 5:8)

Why though would he use such tactics against “The Bad” when he knows already that he has won with them? Why would he use them against “The Bad” when he can hold them up as an example of the good things that can happen if you just succumb to temptation and yield to him, relenting in your effort to try and live that good life, that righteous life you have been called to? This is a weapon in his arsenal that he uses to wage his war, that he uses to win his battles and he is going to use it against the faithful Disciple in order to try and win that they may fall on the fields amidst their struggles and their wounds.

Our Heavenly Father, He does not abandon us during these challenges (Joshua 1:5) regardless of how distant He may feel. He arms us that we can stand (Ephesians 6:10-18) knowing that, through Christ, we can find the strength we need to stand triumphant in all the battles, in all the adversity that we may face. (Romans 8:37) This is the promise He has made to us in the love that He has for us, and it is never removed from our lives even as our old and ancient Adversary seeks to put a wall between us and Him that we may not gaze upon the love that He has for us in the faith He has granted us.

It isn’t a question of God’s grace or even a question of faith, but rather a question of how you stand, how you push back when you feel the weight of your enemy, the weight of someone trying so hard to steal your peace from you. Good things may happen to bad people and bad things may happen to good people in this world, but the real victory, it comes not just from knowing this but knowing that the truest rewards, they come to those who accept that and live with faith, hope and love in their hearts, refusing to let this have any power over them, understanding that the real power comes from the blessing they can be despite it all as they hold fast to the wondrous miracle of grace in their life.

God is there for you, He always has been and He always will be. This is His promise to you, hold fast to it in the love that He has for you and you will stand firm against the challenges that this world has, refusing to let imperfect notions, thoughts and understandings create imperfections within you.