Monthly Archives: June 2020

Jesus My Redeemer Lives

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Jehovah-mekoddishkem

In the Hebrew language, the words sanctify, set apart, and holy are derived from the word qadash. We find this root word used in the name that we will study in this Devotion for our heavenly Father, Jehovah-mekoddishkem.

In Exodus 31:12-13, 16-17, God instructs the children of Israel concerning the Sabbath day and the significance of sanctifying or setting apart a day of rest and worship.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy. The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.'” (NIV)

In this passage we discover the Lord sanctifying or setting apart, not only a day, but the Israelites themselves as His very own people by instructing them to observe the Sabbath. Notice in verse 17 that the covenant was between the Lord and the Israelites forever. God was telling them that they were His people, a set-apart people, a holy people. They were to look different and act differently from all the other peoples of the land.

Repeatedly in the New Testament we are told that the blood of Jesus sanctifies us and sets us apart. Because of Jesus’ blood that was shed on the cross for you and me, we are to look and act different, even peculiar, from the those who do not call themselves Christians.

How should we, with the help of Jehovah-mekoddishkem, look differently than those who are not Christians? Consider a few suggestions for a set-apart life:

  • Observe a Sabbath. This means more than simply going to church. It means taking time to rest, reflect on the Lord, and worship Him.
  • Offer a simple prayer of thanks before meals.
  • Listen to music that encourages you in your Christian walk.
  • Choose your close friends carefully. Are they encouraging you and holding you accountable in your walk with Christ?
  • Be very selective regarding television programs and movies that you watch. You may feel that you can ‘handle’ foul language or adult content, but why take that chance. Remember the children’s song that says, ‘be careful little eyes what you see, be careful little ears what you hear’?
  • Make certain that the words that come out of your mouth are acceptable to God. Turn Psalm 19:14 (NIV) into your personal prayer: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
  • Dress with discretion. Less is not more when it comes to clothing.
  • Be very careful not to place yourself in compromising or questionable situations. Shun the very appearance of evil!
  • Keep your tongue free from gossip and backbiting.
  • Tell the truth. Speak it in love, but tell the truth.
  • Be trustworthy and reliable.
  • Spend time each day talking to the Lord and reading His Word. He desires to direct and guide your life, but we have to listen and obey.

God is not interested in you and me looking like everyone else in the world. He expects us to look, sound, and act differently than those who are not Christians. He expects us to be a sanctified or ‘set apart’ people.

So, I ask you … in what way do you look different or peculiar because of Jesus living within you? When the unbelieving world cruises around your life, do they consider you to be odd or peculiar because you are allowing Jehovah-mekoddishkem to sanctify you through and through or do they wonder what the big deal is about being a Christian because you look no different than anyone else?

God desires to sanctify us, to set us apart, but He requires our cooperation. We must make the choice to live a sanctified life. Are you making that choice?

I Know My Redeemer Lives

Centuries before the birth of Christ, Job, the suffering patriarch of Uz, exclaimed, “I know that my redeemer lives…” (19:25).

Job could not possibly have appreciated the magnitude of his statement, nor how his confident hope would be fulfilled. He was suffering terribly — both physically and emotionally. But he sincerely believed that his pain and anguish were out of proportion to any evil he unintentionally might have done. Though he spoke of God irreverently at times (like a pet that bites when its master is attempting to treat a wound), underneath it all he maintained a confidence that eventually “justice” would issue from his righteous Maker (cf. 13:15 KJV; ESV).

There is a wonderful song with the lyrics, “I know that my Redeemer lives….” We should sing it with zest. Another song, however, asks this question, with answer supplied: “You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart.”

I am not so sure this phraseology, as commonly interpreted, is prudent. If a person has these thoughts in his mind, “He lives in my heart [mind] because of the credible, historical facts I have learned,” that is one thing. But to use the term “heart,” as such frequently is employed by the religious community at large, is quite another thing.

For example, a sincere Roman Catholic may claim, “I know that Mary hears my prayers, and conveys them to her Son. How do I know? I know it in my heart.”

How many times have we heard the statement: “I know I am saved; my heart tells me so, and I trust it. I would not feel this way if I were not truly saved.” But such statements are in conflict with the truth as revealed in numerous biblical passages (cf. Proverbs 14:12; Acts 23:1; 26:9; 1 Timothy 1:13b).

We do not “know” that Christ lives, just because this idea makes us feel good. Here is how we really know, and know that we know.

We have the testimony of the scriptures. (1) David prophesied that though Christ would be murdered, he would rise from the grave (Psalm 16:10; cf. Acts 2:25ff). (2) Isaiah foretold that while Jehovah’s suffering Servant would be put to death, nonetheless he would “see his seed” (i.e., numerous spiritual offspring, cf. Isaiah 11:1; Romans 7:4; Hebrews 2:13), and his days would be prolonged (Isaiah 53:10b). (3) Jesus himself promised he would be raised from the dead (Matthew 16:21; John 2:19, 21). (4) Many witnesses testified to the fact that Christ was raised to die no more (Romans 6:9; Revelation 1:18). For a consideration of some of those witnesses, see 1 Corinthians 15:1-8.

The second issue is this: how does one know that the biblical record, asserting these prophecies and affirmations of fulfillment, is true? That is an excellent question, but the answer is not, “because I feel it.” Rather, the solution is in evidence.

Is there a sufficient body of evidence that demonstrates the Bible documents could not be of human origin, and therefore, by default, must be divine? Indeed there is. (1) There is the astounding unity of the volume — 66 books, written over sixteen centuries, yet speaking as one voice. (2) There is the matter of prophecy — history written in advance. Thousands of prophetic details that no human could possibly have predicted are fulfilled with precision. (3) The flawless accuracy of the Bible, in history, science, geography, etc., absolutely defies any “natural” explanation. (4) The lofty ethical tone of the scriptures testifies to the fact that mere man would not have written this volume if he could have. (5) The things the Bible does not contain, which it surely would have — if left to the imaginative minds of men — are conspicuously absent, e.g., a flamboyant, absurd explanation for God’s “origin” (common in pagan literature), his appearance, etc.

These areas of evidence, and many others, buttress our faith. True faith is not a blind leap into the dark. It is grounded in solid history. Upon this basis we “know.”

 

My Redeemer Lives!

by Inspiration Ministries

“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth.” Job 19:25 NASB

Samuel Butler came from a family dedicated to ministry. His father was a pastor, and his grandfather had been a bishop. It was hoped that Samuel would follow in their footsteps into the ministry. But Butler, born in central England on this day in 1835, found it difficult simply to believe the Gospel.

Determined to be an independent thinker, he left the church and immigrated to New Zealand. While there, Butler read Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species. As a result, he became an “enthusiastic admirer” of Darwin’s evolutionary theories. He even renounced Christianity.

Yet, he could not escape what he had been taught as a child, and eventually rejected Darwinism. Returning to England, he anonymously wrote a book to provide “Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.” While believing in the resurrection, he still wanted to be independent. He gained fame in 1872 with his book Erewhon (a rearrangement of the letters in “nowhere”), which attacked both Darwinism and Christianity.

He once said, “I have never written on any subject unless I believed that the authorities on it were hopelessly wrong.” In one of his notebooks, Butler wrote, “What is faith but a kind of betting or speculation after all? It should be: ‘I bet my Redeemer liveth.’” He never seemed to have the kind of childlike confidence that Job had, when, in spite of all his problems, he proclaimed, “I know that my Redeemer lives.”

Today, many people are like Butler: independent, skeptical, and filled with doubt. They never experience the simple joy of a childlike faith in God.

Don’t allow doubt or worldly sophistication to rob you of joy and peace. Jesus came to free you from your sins, so you can experience an abundant life (John 10:10). Declare with confidence that your Redeemer lives!

 

My Redeemer Lives

From: crosswalk.org.

 

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.” (Job 19:25 ESV)

 

TODAY’S ENCOURAGEMENT

I enjoy listening to modern Christian music. But, every once in awhile, I like to hear some of the older hymns. The words of those old classics take me back to childhood memories where I attended church with my parents. I remember my dad belting out the tunes in his thick, Irish accent.

The song “He Lives” by Alfred H. Ackley remains one of my favorites. The writer speaks to my heart with the words, “He walks with me and talks with me. Along life’s narrow way.” Because our Savior lives, we can establish a genuine relationship with Him. Through our relationship with Christ, He will guide and direct our steps daily.

Job had the right idea when he spoke the words recorded in Job 19:25: “I know my redeemer lives” (ESV). Like Job, I know my Redeemer lives, and someday He will stand on the earth once again. Such a great thought which can help us get through difficult times.

Joy Comes From A Cheerful Heart

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Get Your Joy Back

Were you robbed? Has your joy been stolen? No deadbolt was compromised, no alarm system was set off, you just know at some point your joy had been taken from you. Was it all of a sudden or was it a gradual sinking into despair – so subtle a shift you barely noticed until it was too late?

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 (NIV)

The enemy is that despised thief who steals from us. He tries to mess with us and take everything good that Jesus painstakingly suffered and died for us to have.

Through the blood of Jesus at His crucifixion, we have complete authority over the enemy. No matter what he tries to do to us, we will always win! The Bible says that Jesus died for us to have a blessed, full, and happy life. The enemy has no place in our lives, he is below us, he is under our feet. When we feel ourselves getting down, depressed, frustrated or fearful, we must be armed and ready for battle. We must know The Word of God so we are constantly equipped with the necessary defense!

God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11 (NIV)

This scripture clearly states that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—even those from under the earth. The enemy must bow down to Jesus, and he must flee!

How do we get back those things the enemy steals from us? How do we restore and maintain our joy? The good news is that God is in the restoration business. He will give us back double for our trouble and beauty for our ashes!

The story of Job in the Bible is an amazing example of God’s pure loving kindness and faithfulness. The enemy took everything from Job, his family, his home, his wealth, his joy and his health. All through this trial, Job praised God and never gave up. Because of his faith, God restored everything back to Job. He gave Job so much more than he ever lost for the trouble and anguish he had to endure. Job let his faith be bigger than his fear and he got his joy back and was completely restored in every way!

The Bible says where there is pain in the night, joy comes in the morning. We are to have the mind of Christ and be completely transformed in God’s image. God says He will fight your battles for you and you will not even have to lift a finger in your own defense! The great I AM is never too busy or on a God hiatus. He’s always ready to fight for us. Call on Jesus … Jesus! He will never leave you or forsake you. He rescues you in times of trouble. He will honor you and deliver you from all evil. He will always cause you to triumph and you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. With God, you are always more than a conqueror!

When you are feeling down and feel your joy and peace slipping away, get in the presence of God and boldly confess that the joy of the Lord is your strength. Pray continuously and trust that God can and will perfect all that concerns you. He will fight for you always … all ways!

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11 (NIV)

Joy: True Happiness

Joy: True Happiness

I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. — John 15:11

Remember Eeyore and Tigger in the Winnie-the Pooh-books? For Eeyore, no matter what amazing circumstance came his way, doom and gloom remained the focus. For Tigger, bouncing through life without a care in the world, he never perceived anything to go wrong. In our daily lives, it is easy to have the attitude of Eeyore while wishing we could have the outlook of Tigger — two quite extreme viewpoints of life.

The biblical brand of joy is not simply overcoming our inner Eeyore, nor is it strolling through life in ignorant bliss; rather, it is to be found in facing each day’s ups and downs through the contentment Christ offers.

KEY QUESTION: What gives us true happiness and contentment in life?

The first order of business is to identify the difference between joy and happiness. For many folks today, being happy is fully dependent on whether life is “all good.” If someone asks, “Rate your life right now on a scale of 1 to 10,” often the number given is based on the number of problems present. Happiness slides up and down the scale, based on the perception of negative issues going on at the time. Problems rise; happiness goes south. Troubles begin to go away; the happy scale starts to climb. Joy, however, is not dependent on circumstances, and, in fact, ironically, can become strongest when trouble comes. The psalmist reminds us of the reality of joy that comes when we rest in God’s presence:

You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. — Psalm 16:11

KEY IDEA: Despite my circumstances, I feel inner contentment and understand my purpose in life.

Joy has more to do with remaining in the presence of Jesus than with avoiding problems and struggles in our lives. Harkening back to John 15, we know that joy is always available to us when we remain in Christ, through whatever life brings. Let these statements guide you to see how true joy differs from mere happiness.

  • Happiness is a state of mind, while joy is a mind-set.
  • Happiness comes and goes, while joy can be constant.
  • Happiness is dependent, while joy is independent.
  • Happiness is conditional, while joy is unconditional.

The apostle Paul had learned the secret to the joy found in Jesus:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength. — Philippians 4:11-13

James drives home the definition of joy in the kingdom of God as having nothing to do with eliminating negative outward circumstances, but rather with embracing them as opportunities to strengthen faith and gain resolve:

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. — James 1:2-4

Note the end result of choosing eternal joy — being mature and complete in Christ. Joy becomes the fuel for the believer on this road to maturity. Only Jesus can make our lives flourish in the midst of trouble. In him, joy is strengthened when life is challenging.

And finally, there is a source of deep joy available from an intimate place of serving Jesus.

 

MAINTAINING JOY

READ | Psalm 40:16

Though some people use the terms happiness and joy interchangeably, there is a vast difference in their meaning. Both cause a pleasant emotional response, but the former relies entirely upon circumstance. As soon as difficulty arises and pain intrudes, a person ceases to be happy. On the other hand, joy is a gift from God that enables believers to find hope and peace—even when life seemingly falls apart.

At times, however, even Christians live joylessly. Sinful behavior, of course, is one reason. But there can be other causes, too, including regret about past failures, fear of future mishaps, or a pattern of discontentment that’s ingrained in one’s personality.

If you are a follower of Jesus but lack gladness, take a moment to remember who Christ is—and who you are in Him. To begin with, you are saved eternally, and your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. The love of almighty God is unconditional, and His indwelling Spirit will never abandon you. He understands everything that you face and promises to provide for your needs.

When you stop to consider the amazing blessings that are yours in Christ, gratitude will likely overwhelm you. Sadness concerning circumstances may still endure, but the joy of the Lord will carry you through even the deepest pain.

Amid the ups and downs of life, does God’s joy sustain you? Or do trials leave you hopeless and discontented? Our Father offers a higher way of living—not without pain but with strength to endure. Continually remember the vast treasure you have in Him and His promises.

 

Joyful, Joyful

by Inspiration Ministries

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11 NKJV

Henry van Dyke had experienced many inspirational moments, as a navy chaplain, pastor, and author of numerous devotional writings. He also had been an honored politician (as United States Ambassador to Holland and Luxembourg).

But something unexpected happened to him one day in 1907 when he was visiting Massachusetts. Filled with joy at the sight of the Berkshire Mountains, he wrote words that became the powerful hymn, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.”

Filled with overwhelming joy at what God was revealing, He described how he adored Him, the “God of glory, Lord of love.” Looking toward Him, our “hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.” This joy changed our attitude toward life’s problems. His prayer: “Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away; giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!”

He saw God’s works all around, realizing that He was “giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blessed.” He was the “Wellspring of the joy of living!” He was our Father, and Christ was our Brother. He asked, “Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.”

Then, he invited people everywhere to “join the happy chorus,” marching with joyful music that “leads us Sunward in the triumph song of life.”

He felt the only music that could accompany these words was the “Hymn to Joy” from Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

Today, in whatever situation you face, remember that God knows what you are going through. The Bible assures us that He is ready to help you be a victor, not a victim. He can give you joy in the midst of every situation.

During this Christmas season, be sure to allow the joy of Jesus to fill your heart. Praise His name.

Restore My Soul

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Restore My Soul

On a trip to Florida’s Gulf Coast, I witnessed a beach restoration project. The beach, seriously eroded by high winds and surging waves caused by tropical storms, had all but disappeared. In fact, the coast had washed away to the point that high tide threatened the beachfront properties.

The Atlantic Ocean stole the sand, and then released it in a nearby waterway. So much sand had been dumped there that the depth of the waterway was reduced, threatening the safe passage of ships and fishing boats.

The restoration process was fascinating to watch. A dredge, situated on the water, sucked sand from the sand bar. The sand was then flushed through connecting pipes to various points along the beach where workers on Bobcats spread it. Little by little, the beach was replenished to its former beauty and the pass became safe again.

My soul felt like that beach, seriously eroded.

Following weeks of disruptions to normal life and routines because of Covid-19, I’d slipped away from God as surely as the sand had slipped from the beach. Not that noticeable to begin with because I put up a good fight. When the pandemic first struck, I made sure to keep some structure to my days.

But as the days wore on with no clear end in sight, I grew weary. Impatience, worry, irritation, and even anger stalked me. The already loose structure of my days crumbled to the ground, former good habits tumbling into the debris. Stripped of words, I couldn’t write, although I became a “Words with Friends” champ.

I hoped the beach would remedy that. But instead of writing, I spent hours contemplating the quiet. This brought on the guilt. Why didn’t I have the perseverance to stick to a regular writing schedule as most of my writing friends did?

As I enumerated my failures, God spoke. It’s okay to take a break from work, I heard Him say. It’s far more important to cultivate a relationship with Me. His presence was comforting, and my soul longed for Him to stay.

“He restores my soul.” Psalm 23:3 NKJV

The beautiful words in Psalm 23 indicate three components of restoration: rest, reflection, and replenishment. As I watched the glorious sand shoot out of those pipes bringing the beach back to life, I realized I needed the same thing. I asked God to restore me, to bring me back to life.

The most well-known use of the word restore in the Bible is probably Psalm 23, but the verb appears 1,060 times in the Old Testament. According to one old testament dictionary, restore suggests a “movement back to the point of departure.”

That’s where the sand was headed with the help of the dredge, back to its original point. That definition applied to me, too. God brought me back to my point of departure before the pandemic: firmly in His presence.

God was restoring me before I knew I needed it. He led me to a time of rest. He gave me hope through a restoration of His creation. And He provided me the stillness to feel His presence and hear His voice as I reflected on His work in my life.

Rest assured, God will always welcome your return. He desires to bring you back to Him, no matter how far you’ve strayed. Hear His promise in Hosea 14:4:

“I will heal their waywardness and love them freely for my anger has turned away from them.”  (NIV)

 

He Will Restore Your Soul

Staff writer, desiringGod.org, Jon Bloom

 

King David wrote Psalm 22 and Psalm 23, but if we weren’t told that, we might not believe it. These two ancient songs of the faith are about as different as they could be. The first few verses of each psalm capture its tone. Here are the first two verses of Psalm 22:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. (Psalm 22:1–2)

Now, read the first three verses of Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (Psalm 23:1–3)

In Psalm 22, David feels forsaken by an unresponsive God. In Psalm 23, David feels shepherded by an ever-attentive God. In Psalm 22, David’s soul is in restless agony. In Psalm 23, David’s soul is restored to a trust-fueled rest in the Good Shepherd’s care.

Two Perspectives on Reality

It is a beautiful and merciful providence that these two starkly different psalms are placed right next to each other, authored by the same person. Because they illustrate the diverse ways we experience the strange reality that is the life of faith in our world. If we live long enough, we all experience the occasional agonizing phenomenon of God’s apparent silence. And we all will also experience God’s kind restoration, peace, and protection. In fact, we eventually come to realize that what felt like abandonment was a merciful nearness and shepherding of a kind we hadn’t previously understood or perceived. We discover that God’s promises are infinitely more substantial and reliable than our perceptions.

But there’s an even deeper beauty and mercy in this poetic and thematic juxtaposition. Both psalms are messianic — they foreshadow and prophesy of Jesus. And in this profound realization, we discover that the order in which these psalms appear is no accident.

Jesus Was Forsaken

We know Psalm 22:1. Its first sentence is among the most famous in the Bible. For Jesus screamed them out while in unfathomable agony on the cross: Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani? (Matthew 27:46).

Stop and think over this sentence. Delve into it as deep as you can. You will never get to the bottom of it.

There was a moment, at the crux of history, when God was God-forsaken. To we who are not God, and who are only able to experience a few dimensions of reality, this is mysterious. But it was not a mystery; it was horrifyingly real. God the Son, the eternal delight of the Father, the radiance of the Father’s glory, the exact imprint of the Father’s nature, and the Father’s earthly visible image (Hebrews 1:3Colossians 1:15) became in that incomprehensively dark moment unholy sin — our unholy sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). And while that moment lasted, the holy Father and the Holy Spirit could not abide the holy Son made unholy. God became the object of God’s wrath. A terrible, once-for-all-time fissure rent open between the Father and Son.

For Jesus, it was a truly hellish moment, which is why, in the words of R.C. Sproul, Jesus’s Psalm 22:1 scream “was the scream of the damned. For us.” Out of a love for us we have hardly begun to fathom, he took upon himself our damnable curse, becoming the propitiation for our sins (Galatians 3:131 John 4:10). And he did it for us so that our curse would be eternally removed and we might become the objects of God’s eternal mercy, clothed forever with the holiness and righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Psalm 22 does far more than give us words to pray during our seasons of spiritual desolation. It gives us words to grasp the desolation God the Son experienced to purchase our peace and restoration.

So That You Will Never Be Forsaken

This restoration, the great messianic restoration, is what made David sing for joy in Psalm 23. The Good Shepherd, having laid his life down for the sheep (John 10:11), gives his sheep eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will be able to snatch them out of his hand (John 10:28).

No one. Not “death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord,” the great Shepherd of the sheep — even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death (Romans 8:38–39Hebrews 13:20Psalm 23:4).

Our great Shepherd has walked through this valley before us and for us. In this valley, he was stricken and afflicted, betrayed, beaten to a bloody pulp, and brutally crucified by evil. He was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5). He was smitten and forsaken by God (Isaiah 53:4Psalm 22:1).

And he did this for us so that he might say to us, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

He Will Restore Your Soul

In this world we will have tribulation (John 16:33). The Bible’s portrayal of tribulation is realistically horrible. Psalm 22 is a description of David’s tribulation, and it was severe. But it is also a description of Jesus’s tribulation, which was infinitely more severe than David’s — or ours.

Do you feel forsaken by God? Jesus understands. He truly understands more than you know. We can feel forsaken by God; Jesus was forsaken by God. We feel lonely; Jesus was, for a horrible moment, truly alone. As our Great High Priest, he is able to sympathize with us in all our weaknesses, since he was tempted in every way that we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).

But Jesus does far more than sympathize with us. As our great sacrificial Lamb, he atoned for every sin we commit in all our weak, faithless stumbling, removing our curse forever by becoming our curse. And as our great Shepherd, he is leading us through every tribulation — no matter how severe — to eternal restoration.

That is the promise of Psalm 23, purchased by the price of Psalm 22: your Good Shepherd will restore your soul forever. He was forsaken by God, scorned and mocked by men, and his hands and feet were pierced (Psalm 22:16–716) for your sake. So that he could guide you through every evil valley, honor you before every evil enemy, pursue you with goodness and mercy every day of your earthly life, and bring you to live with him in his house forever (Psalm 23:4–6).

Psalm 22 may be your song for a brief night, but Psalm 23 will be your song for an eternal morning (Psalm 30:5).

 

God Can Restore What’s Been Lost and Broken

“… the LORD restored his fortunes. In fact, the LORD gave him twice as much as before!” Job 42:10b (NLT)

In a short period of time, and due to circumstances beyond my control, life changed dramatically.

As a result, the financial situation for my three children and me went from secure and life-giving to unsecure, unpredictable and insufficient to sustain even our basic needs. Desperate fears of how to provide for my family pulled me into a pit of fear and despair.

But one night I had a dream, and all that changed.

In this dream, I was slumped over. Tears pouring down my face. Sobbing out loud. Rubbing my eyes. Completely broken and spent. My waking emotions playing out in my sleeping subconscious. Then I noticed a figure slowly entering the room. Yet I wasn’t alarmed; in fact, I felt totally at peace.

Rather than fear, a strange sense of calm and safety washed over me. I immediately knew in my spirit it was Jesus. He spoke softly and gently with a deep, yet tender, and loving voice: “Why didn’t you come to Me earlier? I will restore all that has been lost and broken.”

Hearing His voice startled me into consciousness, and I abruptly awoke — fully believing I’d experienced a divine encounter with my heavenly Father. His words kept echoing over and over in my mind, “I will restore all that has been lost and broken.” Words I had longed to hear. Words that reaffirmed He saw me and was watching over me. Words that gave me great hope and reassured me He not only had the power to restore all that had been taken from my life, but indeed He had plans for it.

But what about hearing Jesus whisper, “Why didn’t you come to Me sooner?”

This was perplexing, because I honestly believed I had come to Him. A million, gazillion times in fact. However, what I had not brought to Him was my total surrender and trust. Instead of surrendering my problems to Him, I just told Him about them constantly then continued trying to solve them on my own.

Rather than trusting for miraculous provision, I fretted and worried whether He would come through or not. I continually felt crushed and hopeless under countless adversities — much like Job in the Bible when he faced great loss and calamity.

In one day, Job lost his 10 children along with all his possessions and wealth. Shortly after, he was afflicted with a horrible skin disease. (Read chapters 1-2 in the book of Job to get the full story.)

Job didn’t understand why he had to suffer so much. So, throughout the book of Job, we see him expressing heartache and anger at the pain and suffering God was allowing. We also see evidence of his impatience regarding how long it was taking God to bring about restoration.

Yet through it all — and despite his human emotions — Job never doubted that full surrender and trust was necessary. In Job 1:21b he even says, “The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!” Despite his suffering, he trusted God’s will for his life and continued to praise Him. As a result, not only did Job’s faith soar, but his life did as well.

Eventually in Job 42, we read how God blessed Job and his faithfulness in every way. Today’s key verse, Job 42:10b, says, “… the LORD restored his fortunes. In fact, the LORD gave him twice as much as before!” God gave Job a double portion of all he’d lost, restored his marriage and many relationships, gave him a new household of children and allowed him to live happily to a ripe old age.

Whether it’s our hearts, finances, relationships or lives that need mending, God always has a plan to heal and restore. Although I don’t know God’s exact plans for my future, I do know He is good, and I fully believe restoring my heart and my life are on His holy to-do list.

Total surrender and faithfulness will always open the door for God’s restoration to begin.

Trust God With Every Moment

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Trust God with Every Moment

 

“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Go south to the road – the desert road – that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’” (Acts 8:26 NIV)

A friend mentioned a nudge from God received on the job. He works in a nursing home. While seeing to the needs of an elderly resident recently, he felt the strong impression to pray for her right then. He prays regularly for those he serves, but silently, in obedience, he began to lift her to God.

What happened next was that this withdrawn woman with the glazed over look of so many institutionalized older adults, began to share about her life. “She just opened up and told me many things about herself,” said my young friend. Though filled with strong faith, he was pleasantly surprised about the reminder: God is with us every moment and will order our steps – giving us direction in the present. Why we’re surprised at His ready help and direction is curious. It’s there in His Word about His availability to those dependent on Him:

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” (Isaiah 30:21 NIV)

A fictional book that I just finished has one character offer this thought, “The great lie of this broken universe is that God cannot be trusted and that we have to take care of ourselves. That’s the lie that snagged Eve.” (Jake Colsen, So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore)

It’s the lie that can snag any of us – “Everything’s up to me. I’m on my own. I have to figure out what to do next.” And so comes the temptation not to pray or to pray with little hope and to act without having listened for guidance.

But God knows our needs before we speak them. He knows the needs of others and how we might intersect with them. He has plans not just for a distant future but for this day just as Jesus said,

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? … For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, …” (Matthew 6:25, 32-34 NIV)

This is a huge step to take in trusting God – to believe that He cares about THIS day and that He has mapped these 24 hours out for us, if we’ll lean on Him.

The story of Philip helps me to grasp this wonderful idea – that God cares about us moment to moment and will orchestrate a Divine schedule with us. Philip, along with most of the early Church, was driven out of Jerusalem by persecution, just when the Church was beginning to explode with growth. Philip had been named a church “deacon.” Fleeing to Samaria this “deacon for a season,” under God’s leading, stepped into the role of a powerful preacher, healer, and miracle worker. Then, again, under God’s leading and provision, he took the road into the wilderness to explain the gospel to one lone African man – a time of one on one ministry that led to the man’s baptism and some think, to Africa being invaded by the gospel.

After this, there were more towns. Philip went forward not knowing what would come next. He demonstrated an openness to being led daily.

One of the greatest shifts we can make as Christ-followers is to start each morning simply praying, “I’m here, Lord. What‘s on our schedule?” God will give impressions through His Word, other people, circumstances, the nudges in our hearts. There are, perhaps, certain things fixed on the calendar.  Yet, believing that in the midst of this, God will bring what we have not planned, could not foresee, and cannot resource except by His strength, helps us to get up unruffled, hope-filled, and ready to touch other lives with His grace. And if you are in a difficult season, being able to stay focused and present, non-anxious about next week or next year because you hold onto the words, “I am with you,” is to know peace and usefulness in the storm.

 

How the Habit of Trust Transforms Your Life

From Joyce Meyers

Unshakeable Trust

 

For a long time, there was so much turmoil in my life. It really saddens me to think about all the years I wasted living this way.

I was a Christian and went to church, but I spent a lot of time being upset about things I couldn’t do anything about, and had continual feelings of guilt and condemnation much of the time. As a result, I had no peace and just didn’t enjoy life.

But thank God, I’ve experienced radical transformation in my soul. And the key was developing a habit of learning to trust God at all times, in every area of my life.

What It Means to Trust God

Trusting God is simply believing that He loves you and knowing He’s good, He has the power to help you, and He wants to help you.

Christians are called believers, but many times, we are more like unbelieving believers. We trust our friends, the bank, the stock market or the government more than we trust God and His Word.

In John 15:5, Jesus says that apart from Him, we can do nothing. We need to lean on Him for help with everything in our lives.

Sadly, a lot of people go to church, hear what they should do and then go home and try to do it on their own. They usually end up desperately telling God how hard they’re trying to do what they need to do, and they’re leaving Him out!

God wants us to put Him first in our lives. He wants us to put our confidence and trust in Him, all the time, in everything.

Learning to Trust God, Not Myself

I used to have a habit of trusting myself. I formed this habit through years of trusting people, getting hurt and finding out I couldn’t trust them.

I thought, If you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself. If you don’t ask anybody for anything or open your heart to them, they can’t hurt you. But this mindset just kept me from trusting God.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. 

When you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, the Spirit of God comes to live inside you. This means you don’t have to go through someone else to get to God. He dwells in your heart and you can learn to hear His voice.

The best way to hear from God is knowing what the Bible says. God’s Word gives us wisdom, and as we study it, our mind is renewed (Romans 12:2), so we no longer just think the way the world thinks – we can think the way God thinks!

The Good Habit That Makes All the Difference

We have to habitually study the Word to really have confidence in God and know we can hear Him. As we spend time reading and meditating on Scripture, we develop a strong spirit. Then we can hear God speaking to our heart and make decisions based upon what He’s leading us to do, not just what we think, feel or want.

When you go beyond what you want, what you think and what you feel and do what the Word and the Spirit of God tell you to do, you are able to develop good habits and break bad ones. You come to a place where the blessings of God – His righteousness, peace and joy – overflow in your life.

Life is simple and peaceful when we come to God like little children and say, “God, I don’t want to live on my own. I want to trust You. When I don’t know what to do, I’ll trust You. When I don’t understand why, I’ll trust You. I’ll do my part with Your help, and when I’m done, I’ll trust You to do the rest.”

 

A Life Without God

by Inspiration Ministries

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’ … There is no one who does good … All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good.” – Psalm 14:1, 3 NIV

On the surface, this psalm seems directed against those openly denying the existence of God. But, in fact, the principles articulated here have implications for everyone.

What David learned was how easy it can be for anyone to forget about God and to go his own way. And he learned the importance of focusing on God, placing Him first, seeking Him, trusting in Him, thinking about Him, and being guided by His principles. These attitudes are the foundation for a life of blessing.

This is true for everyone. Yes, denying His existence leads to a life without His blessing, protection, and wisdom. But even those who superficially believe in Him can act as if He does not exist.

Without a consciousness of God, we can believe any argument. When we stop focusing on Him, we can embrace any lifestyle. We can drift into any belief system and develop our own interpretations of events. We can follow any magnetic personality or be enticed by any clever-sounding teaching.

The sure path is to stay focused on God. To be committed to constant prayer, remembering that He is with us, all the time. To be sensitive to His Spirit. To live according to His Word.

In your life, seek to have a more intimate relationship with God. Read and study His Word. Spend time in prayer. Commit the issues of your life to Him.

 

Prayer—the forerunner of mercy

By: Charles Spurgeon

 

“Thus saith the Lord God; I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock.” Ezekiel 36:37

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Samuel 22:9-23:5

First, I enquire what the promise is. I turn to my Bible, and I seek to find the promise whereby the thing which I desire to seek is certified to me as being a thing which God is willing to give. Having enquired so far as that, I take that promise, and on my bended knees I enquire of God whether he will fulfil his own promise. I take to him his own word of covenant, and I say to him, “O Lord, wilt thou not fulfil it, and wilt thou not fulfil it now?” So that there, again, prayer is enquiry. After prayer I look out for the answer; I expect to be heard; and if I am not answered I pray again, and my repeated prayers are but fresh enquiries. I expect the blessing to arrive; I go and enquire whether there is any tidings of its coming. I ask; and thus I say, “Wilt thou answer me, O Lord? Wilt thou keep thy promise. Or wilt thou shut up thine ear, because I misunderstand my own wants and mistake thy promise?” Brethren, we must use enquiry in prayer, and regard prayer as being, first, an enquiry for the promise, and then on the strength of that promise an enquiry for the fulfilment. We expect something to come as a present from a friend: we first have the note, whereby we are informed it is upon the road. We enquire as to what the present is by the reading of the note; and then, if it arrive not, we call at the accustomed place where the parcel ought to have been left, and we ask or enquire for such and such a thing. We have enquired about the promise, and then we go and enquire again, until we get an answer that the promised gift has arrived and is ours. So with prayer.

For meditation: Asking comes in two shapes—questions and requests. God is able to give us all the answers we need (Luke 11:9,10).

Pain And Patience

ROMANS 5

Faith Triumphs in Trouble

1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

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Pain and Patience

“To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty. “ (Job 6:14 NKJV)

My wife was angry at God yesterday because a dear friend “Just can’t get a break.”

She was overwhelmed by yet another medical disaster that our tender-hearted sister in the Lord had experienced just that day. The woman was having a reaction to medication that had turned her foot into a dead lifeless looking appendage. My first thought when I saw the picture was her foot was going to have to be cut off.

Our friend is a Godly handmaiden of the Lord and had not forsaken the fear of the Almighty. Yet, after a lifetime of medical issues, now she had this scary reaction. My wife showed her overwhelming worry in a brief anger attack.

I was proud of my wife having an honest tender heart instead of the self-righteous attitudes of Job’s friends. They were quick to assume if a person was allowed by God to suffer it was because they were not righteous enough. And Job called them out about that hard-hearted attitude in today’s reflection verse. A friend is to “show kindness to our friends that are afflicted,” which will demonstrate to them they are not alone during overwhelming times. Then, deep trusting prayer for help can take over and the peace that passes understanding through Christ our Lord can result as we are taught in Philippians 4:6-7:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (NKJV)

Summarizing Job’s message to God’s children about pain and patience:

  • The Bible has a lot to say about pain. One of the key lessons found in Job is the Lord God is Sovereign during times of overwhelming trials.
  • Satan is heartless and mean in pursuit of his goals. Remember the evil one’s schemes, terrorizing, and murder.
  • Satan often uses self-righteous people when we are at our lowest. Aloof, judgmental people make things worse.
  • Job overcame and found a better future by holding onto his belief that the Father knows best no matter what happens. This attitude is a trusting heart’s strength and is often necessary to survive overwhelming trials.
  • The Lord understands when we get angry at Him. He “pities His children as He knows they are dust,” Psalm 103:13-14. He understands that we are weak and human.
  • We become stronger through pain or we are crippled by it when we blame the Father. Only our Father knows the big picture and the future. Our Father knows best.
  • Pain comes to both the righteous and the wicked, permitting opportunities to develop relationships with God Almighty. Pain is not our enemy as it provides a chance to learn and grow.

The New Testament agrees with Job:

  • Tribulation brings about patience. Romans 5:3.
  • God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God. Romans 8:28.
  • God will never leave or forsake you. Hebrews 13:5

Suffering and Patience

“As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord” (James 5:10).

– James 5:10–11

So many of the situations that we find in life are endurable because we know what their end will be. For example, women can endure the pains and changes associated with nine months of pregnancy because they know the joy that will come when the baby arrives.

In his epistle, James reminds us that we can be obedient to God and endure suffering because of what will happen at the last day. At the Father’s predetermined time, Jesus will return as judge and reverse the fortunes of His people (5:1–9). Only the confidence in God’s final deliverance at Christ’s second coming enables us to rejoice in the trials that produce perseverance (1:2–3). As well, it helps us to understand that in the final analysis, our wealth will not give us any advantage in the kingdom of God (vv. 9–11; 2:1–10; 4:13–17).

In that final day, our trust in God will be vindicated before all men. In today’s passage, James continues to exhort us to wait patiently for this day by pointing us to the prophets and to Job as examples of patient servants (5:10–11).

The prophets are good examples of patience because in the midst of trials brought by those who hated God, they persevered in their callings. At one point in his life, Jeremiah was imprisoned (Jer. 37:11–38:13). Tradition testifies that Isaiah and many of the other prophets were martyred. Yet they patiently preached repentance to hardened sinners, calling Israel to embrace justice and mercy even as the people stubbornly refused. And if they could do this without actually seeing God’s promises in time (Heb. 11:39–40), how much more can we, having seen God’s full revelation in Jesus, do the same?

Some might question why Job is given to us as a second example of patience since he did impatiently demand that God explain his sufferings to him (for example, Job 6). But Job is an excellent paradigm for us because though he questioned God, he never gave up his faith. Also, if Job is our example we can see that even the most patient of God’s servants will not be perfect until they are glorified. Finally, because Job was one of the first to anticipate the final judgment, he serves as an example for us who also await that day (Job 19:25–26).

 

Patience in Suffering

by 

I hate pain. I try to avoid suffering, and I don’t go out of my way to look for affliction. But pain, suffering, and affliction find me. They find all of us. If you are free of these things, brace yourself and be patient. All you have to do is live long enough. Suffering and affliction are human conditions. And when suffering and affliction come, be patient, remembering that God is sovereign.

And thank God that He is sovereign over suffering, using affliction first for His glory and secondarily for our good. But that doesn’t mean we have to like it, nor is patience easy in the face of suffering and pain.

But, remember, the important things in life are generally formed over time. The strongest tools are forged by the hottest fires. The most beautiful artistic expressions take the most energy and care to create. So it is with the beautiful thing called “holiness.” It is not achieved quickly, or without effort, or in the absence of pain. In our instant society, much to our disappointment, there is no such thing as “microwave holiness.” Metaphors abound.

God is described by Jeremiah as a potter, and we are described as clay (Jer. 18). The most pliable clay is that which has been most thoroughly mixed, beaten, rolled, and, finally, pushed and pulled on the wheel. Only then the potter, with care and patience, begins to pull and shape the clay into something beautiful. But it is painful to be pulled and drawn into a new shape. Do you feel pulled in every direction, drawn thin and fragile, left out to dry, placed in a fire of unimaginable heat? The Potter is having His way with the clay, and the vessel He makes will be beautiful in His hands.

God may be seen as a weaver, creating in us individually and corporately a breathtaking tapestry of His glory. But the design only begins to take shape after the threads have been spun, wound, spooled, and drawn through the warp. Only then is the thread thrown through the woof and beaten by the bar into a tightly knit design. Do you feel like life spins around you, like you are being thrown and beaten? The Weaver has His way with the cloth, but the resulting fabric promises to be a stunning display of glory.

In John’s gospel, God is portrayed as a vinedresser, cultivating His vineyard to maximize His harvest (John 15). But the cultivation of grapes requires pruning the vines, pulling the dead brush away to be burned, tying the branches up to allow growth and nurture. Only after this grueling process may the vine achieve its potential of rich and satisfying fruit. Do you feel like parts of your life are being cut off, pulled away, burned up? Do you feel like God’s hand is personally tying you to a wire? The Vinedresser will have His way with His field and the harvest will be succulent and rich. The writer of Hebrews says, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (12:11).

Joni Eareckson Tada writes of God as a painter, a master artist. She says that, along with the bright colors, “God brings the cool, dark contrast of suffering into your life. That contrast, laid up against the golden character of Christ within you, will draw attention … to Him. Light against darkness. Beauty against affliction. Joy against sorrow” (Glorious Intruder, p. 158). Is God bringing dark shades into the portrait of your life? The light of Christ in His children is made more manifest to the world through the dark colors of suffering, borne through patient endurance.

James tells us that trials and testing develop perseverance resulting in maturity and wisdom: “You know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (1:3–5). In J.R.R. Tolkien’s massive legend The Lord of the Rings, made popular again by the recent films, we see a subtle example of this hard truth. In The Silmarillion, the story before the story, Tolkien speaks of the creator of Middle Earth, Iluvatar, and the process of creation. Of the race of Elves, we read: “Though the beauty of the Quendi was beyond all other beauty that Iluvatar has caused to be … sorrow and wisdom have enriched it.” Do you see it? The Elves in Tolkien’s legend are portrayed as most beautiful. But these qualities are magnified and enriched by sorrow.

Affliction and suffering have been appointed by God as instruments He uses to make us more holy, to make us more like Jesus. They remind us that we are weak and we must rely not on ourselves, but on Jesus. They remind us that this world is not our home but that we are only passing through toward our real home in heaven with our Father, our Savior, Jesus Christ, and our Comforter, the Holy Spirit.

The Scriptures say that we are the height of God’s creation, made in His image (Gen. 1:26–27). Affliction and sorrow — almost never brief, almost always difficult — are necessary elements in our Creator’s hand to bring His people, over time, to a place of wisdom, joy, and holiness. Though we are often impatient to get to the destination, the deeper the affliction and sorrow, the greater the wisdom, joy, and holiness at journey’s end.

Great Things Happen By Faith

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Faith … in What?

Does your faith seem small? Take heart. Perhaps you just need to redirect it.

Consider Jesus’ statement below:

Then he touched their eyes and said, “Because of your faith, it will happen.” Then their eyes were opened, and they could see! (Matthew 9:29-30 NLT).

The obvious meaning of Jesus’ words is that faith sets the stage for the Lord to help us, and that unbelief keeps us from receiving from him what we need. The blind men in this narrative believed Jesus could heal them—and he did. Conversely, the residents of Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown, did not believe in him—and no great miracles happened there (Mark 6).

What is not so obvious is that both the blind men and the residents of Nazareth believed. The blind men believed Jesus was a prophet who had miracle-working power and Jesus’ hometown acquaintances believed he was a man like them so he couldn’t be a miracle worker.

Do we not all believe something, all of the time? And what we believe, what we really have faith in, greatly impacts our relationship with God and the outcome of our prayers. If I ask God for help, but remain anxious and uncertain, could it mean that I have greater faith in the problem than I do in God? In that case, Jesus’ words “Because of your faith, it will happen” (Matthew 9:29 NLT) seem to imply “Because of your faith that things will continue to be bad, that is what will happen.”

Is that not why the Scriptures urge us to do the kind of thinking that creates a climate for faith in God? For example:

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8 NLT).

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night (Joshua 1:8 NKJV).

But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night (Psalm 1:2 NLT).

In the vicinity of Nogales, Arizona, where my family moved when I was in high school, is a butte-like peak referred to as “Monkey Mountain.” The front of it is a sheer vertical wall, so climbers have to hike around to the back of it. There, they can step from boulder to boulder, shimmy up crevices, pick their way gingerly along narrow ledges, and, finally, cross the narrow saddle connecting to the summit.

Even after my siblings and I grew up and moved to distant parts of the United States, we looked forward to making this climb when home for a visit. On one of the last such occasions, we parked the car at the Peña Blanca picnic grounds and began the trek toward Monkey Mountain. Although we were only a few hundred yards from the base of the mountain, our progress was slow because of the rocky ground and the trench-like depressions (probably dry arroyos, or stream beds) we had to cross. Amazingly, when down in the lowest part of these troughs, the view of the mountain was completely cut off. If one spent much time down there, one might even forget there was a mountain just a hundred yards away!

Problems always loom large. When we are sunk down in the middle of a challenging situation, these circumstances are all that we can see. God is much greater than our difficulty, but our view of him seems cut off. If we pray in that gloomy frame of mind, is that praying in faith? At such times, we have to purposely remind ourselves that God and his power, his love, and his solutions are still there—right over that pile of rocks.

Since our faith affects what will happen, let’s make a point of setting our expectations on God. Let’s not allow ourselves to become trapped by faith in the wrong thing!

“Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” Genesis 5:24 (NIV)

Is there a person in the Bible whose story you simply love? One who encourages you, challenges you or with whom you share a similar life circumstance?

Perhaps it’s Moses and his keen leadership skills? Or, Esther — the compelling queen, both beautiful and brainy — who used her quick thinking to help save an entire nation? Maybe Joseph is your favorite, as you contemplate how someone so mistreated could continually take the high road which led him not only to political power but also to family forgiveness?

All of these are fabulous choices, but I choose Enoch.

I first heard of Enoch as a teen, and he fascinated me. Not a lot is written about him in the pages of Scripture, but what is there piqued my interest: Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away” (Genesis 5:24). Hmmm. My young mind pondered that strange description.

As I grew in my faith, I learned more about this Old Testament mystery man. In Hebrews 11:5-6 we catch more of the story. By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: ‘He could not be found, because God had taken him away.’ For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (NIV).

That’s it! Enoch was whisked away, spared the pain of death and transported immediately to God’s side, all because of one simple thing: He pleased God.

I say simple, but I don’t say easy.

It is a simple thing to please God. You just do what He says in His Word. Straightforward enough, right?

However, my years as a follower of Christ have taught me that simple is not always easy. Choices present themselves, the world screams, our flesh gets in the way and we want revenge or glory … so we often lack faith, and instead try to control our own destinies. We mess up the pleasing God part with our very own hands and hearts.

Enoch walked with God.

Oh, don’t we long for that to be said of us? I’ll admit I don’t always walk with God. I take a stand for God — believe the right things and make it known. I may walk after God. And sadly, sometimes I run ahead of God, make my own plans and then say, “Oh yeah. By the way God, do ya mind blessin’ these plans? I made them in Your name. I may have forgotten to consult You in the midst of them, but they are for You, alright?” What a shame and a sham!

Walking with God means we daily give up our desire to navigate our own lives, and we place our faith in Him. We admit He knows what’s best for us and realize He might not always reveal the hows and whys until the very last second. God is seldom early, but never late. Only day-by-day faith-walking pleases God.

Do you long to be one who pleases God this way? One who makes Him smile as He sees you place complete trust in Him and His infinite wisdom daily? Maybe then we just might be like my Bible hero Enoch … the one who walked so closely by our Creator’s side that one day, during one of those long walks, God looked at him and said, “You know, we’ve been walking together for so long now that we are actually closer to My house than yours. Why don’t you just come on home with Me right now?”

 

Praying to Be Able to Walk in Faith

Praying to Be Able to Walk in Faith

What if this Jesus thing is all a hoax? I thought to myself in horror one day nearly two years after I accepted Christ as Savior. What if none of it’s true? What if the pastor suddenly says, “This is all a joke, and you fell for it! Jesus isn’t real and you’re not really saved!”

That day a wall of doubt settled around me like steel bars separating me from my future. The possibility of a life of nothingness became a temporary reality, and I panicked. What brought this on all of a sudden? I wondered. I struggled with that flash of doubt for days, and the more I thought about it, the more unhappy I became. I knew I had to reevaluate everything.

What was your life like before you met Jesus? I asked myself.

I was dying inside, I replied. How did you feel?

I questioned further. Full of pain, hopelessness, and fear, I answered.

Are things better now? Much.n What’s different?

I don’t feel depressed, fearful, or hopeless, I answered.

When did that change?

When I received Jesus, I started to feel better.

Your experience with the Lord was real? I asked.

Well, yes, I think so.

Then what’s your problem? I asked.

The problem is I can’t prove that Jesus is real.

Can you prove that He isn’t?

No, I answered.

Well, then it looks like the choice is up to you, doesn’t it? To believe or not to believe. It’s your decision.

It’s my decision, I answered.

Yes!

Okay, then. Weighing the quality of my life before I met Jesus against the quality of my life since then, I choose to believe Him.

Are you sure? I asked.

Yes. I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back.

This little scenario happened five or six times in the first ten years of my walk with the Lord. In retrospect, I believe it occurred in busy and stressful times when I had not spent enough time in the Word of God or had neglected being alone with the Lord in prayer and praise. Eventually I realized that sending a doubting spirit to torment us is one of the devil’s favorite tactics.

Without a Doubt

Faith is a spiritual muscle that needs to be exercised in order to prevent atrophy, which makes our entire spiritual being weak. Faith is first a decision, then an exercise in obedience, then a gift from God as it is multiplied. Our first step of faith is taken when we decide we will receive Jesus. After that, every time we decide to trust the Lord for anything, we build that faith. And whenever we decide not to trust Him, we tear it down. Faith is our daily decision to trust God.

The Bible says,

Whatever is not from faith is sin. — Romans 14:23

How much clearer can it be? Faith is obedience. Doubt is disobedience. Faith is a gift from God because He enables us to believe, but we have to obey by building on that faith.

 

Built on the Word

How do we start building faith? Once we have a little, how do we get more? The first step is to be totally open and honest about any doubt in God’s ability or His faithfulness to provide for our every need. Oswald Chambers said,

Faith is unutterable trust in God, trust which never dreams He would not stand by us.1

Doubt emanates from a lie of the enemy, which says God is not all-powerful. If you’ve listened to this lie, confess it as sin.

The next step is to fill your mind with the Word:

Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. — Romans 10:17 NIV

Reading the Word daily, regularly submitting to Bible teaching, and speaking the Word aloud will build faith. Your mouth and heart have to be united in this. One can’t be saying, “God can,” while the other says, “God can’t.” Your mind will convince your heart as you read or speak God’s Word.

Whenever I’m afraid or doubt that my life is secure, I read the Bible until I sense God’s peace in me. The more I read, the more hope I have. Then, when I pray, I’m confident that God will answer my prayers.

Even if you are not given to fear and doubt, you can be attacked by a spirit of doubt, as I was. When that happens, don’t carry it by yourself. Take it to the Lord immediately. Or ask a mature believer to pray with you if you need to.

Sensing your own limitations doesn’t mean you don’t have faith. Feeling that God has limitations is what indicates a lack of faith. When faith has blossomed, it gives birth to hope, and says, “There is an end to this. I won’t be in this situation forever. I won’t always feel like this. I won’t always hurt.” Hope and faith together give you a vision for your life.

The Bible says of the people who could not go into the Promised Land,

They could not enter in because of unbelief. — Hebrews 3:19

Don’t let that happen to you. Choose to enter in to all that God has for you by taking this important step of obedience.

The Heroes Of My Faith

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The Heroes of My Faith

I didn’t grow up in church. I didn’t learn the stories of David and Goliath or Joseph and his coat of many colors, or his brothers who plotted to kill him. I didn’t know about Abraham and Isaac, or Daniel and the lion’s den. I didn’t know about Baby Jesus in a manger or Paul meeting Jesus on the Road to Damascus when he was still named Saul. I didn’t know about the Israelites crossing the Red Sea or about Noah and the ark or Jonah in the whale.

But I learned these stories after I was saved and reading my Bible. I also heard them in the context of messages in church and Sunday school classes and other Bible studies. They are not mere stories. They are true accounts of men and women God chose to place in the Holy infallible scriptures for our benefit. We are to learn from them.

I have my favorites. I call them the heroes of my faith. Their stories and struggles, their victories and faith have taught me the most. We all need heroes. here are a few of mine:

When I need courage to face a giant, I remember David.

And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:37 NASB

When I need to forgive when others hurt me, I think of Joseph and the injustices he endured.

But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” Genesis 50:19-20 NASB

When I can’t see the next step of my journey, I remember Abraham.

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. Hebrews 11:8 NASB

When I struggle with contentment and joy, I think of Paul.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know also how to abound: in everything and in all things have I learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want. I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:11-13 ASV

When I don’t understand anything in the face of hardship, I think of Job.

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped.He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God. Job 1:20-22 NASB

The greatest Hero of my faith is Jesus Christ, because He is my Savior.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16 NASB

 

What Makes a Hero?

By: Greg Laurie, crosswalk.com

What Makes a Hero?

Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”). Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. – (John 1:41–42)

We hear the word hero a lot in our culture, but do we really know what it means? We seem to have a lot of celebrities but very few heroes. Historian Daniel Boorstin compared the two this way:“Celebrities are people who make news, but heroes are people who make history. Time makes heroes but dissolves celebrities.”

A hero is someone who does something selfless, something sacrificial. A hero is someone who puts the needs of another above his or her own. Sometimes heroes are known in their lifetime for their achievements, and sometimes we call them heroes after they’re gone. In that case, we sometimes call them unsung heroes because we didn’t realize how heroic they were until time had passed.

One unsung hero from the New Testament is Andrew, Peter’s brother. Andrew didn’t get a lot of ink in the New Testament, but what we do read about him is significant. Andrew is primarily known as the guy who brought others to Jesus. In fact, when he discovered that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah of Israel, he went and found his brother and brought him to the Lord.

How easily Andrew could have kept this to himself and said, “I don’t want Peter to get in here. He probably would try to take over the whole operation.” Instead, Andrew brought him to Jesus. In fact, every time we read about Andrew, he is bringing someone to the Lord.

We might say that Andrew is the patron saint of unsung heroes, the kind of people who are willing to do what needs to be done and fly under the radar. They just want God to get the glory. And here is the thing we need to remember: If we had more Andrews, we probably would have more Simon Peters.

 

Jericho captured

By: Charles Spurgeon

‘And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor. And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.’ Joshua 6:2–3

Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 11:29–38

‘Go round about her: tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks.’ These men were practical surveyors of Jericho; they could well understand the strength of the battlements, how many feet long the huge stones were at the corners, and how near the stars the loftiest towers were raised. They had the difficulty, I say, always before them, yet they kept on in simple faith, going round the city. Sometimes we get into the habit of shutting our eyes to difficulty; that will not do: faith is not a fool, faith does not shut her eyes to difficulty, and then run head-foremost against a brick wall—never. Faith sees the difficulty, surveys it all, and then she says, ‘By my God will I leap over a wall;’ and over the wall she goes. She never brings out the flaming accounts of ‘Signs of the Times,’ in her favour; she does not sit down, and say that evidently public sentiment is changing; she does not reckon upon any undercurrents that may be at work, which she is told by Mistress Gossip really are doing great things, but she just looks at it, and does not mind how bad the thing is reported to be; if anyone can exaggerate the difficulty, faith is of the same noble mind as that famous warrior, who when told there were so many thousand soldiers against him, replied, ‘There are so many more to be killed.’ So faith reckons: ‘So many more difficulties, so many more things to be overcome;’ and even impossibilities she puts down as only so much burden to be cast upon him, with whom nothing is impossible. She keeps Jericho’s walls before her.

For meditation: Walking by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) does not mean having blind faith. The Christian is not to close his eyes to the difficulties (Romans 8:35,38–39), but to open them to see the hand of the invisible God at work (Hebrews 11:27). Hezekiah had the right approach (2 Kings 19:14–19).

 

Streams in the Desert – June 24

Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t

This is what the Lord says, the Holy One of Israel, the one who formed him, concerning things to come: “How dare you question me about my children! How dare you tell me what to do with the work of my own hands! (Isa 45:11)

Our Lord spoke in this tone when He said, “Father, I will.” Joshua used it when, in the supreme moment of triumph, he lifted up his spear toward the setting sun, and cried, “Sun, stand thou still!”

Elijah used it when he shut the heavens for three years and six months, and again opened them.

Luther used it when, kneeling by the dying Melanchthon, he forbade death to take his prey.

It is a marvelous relationship into which God bids us enter. We are familiar with words like those which follow in this paragraph: “I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.” But that God should invite us to command Him, this is a change in relationship which is altogether startling!

What a difference there is between this attitude and the hesitating, halting, unbelieving prayers to which we are accustomed, and which by their perpetual repetition lose edge and point!

How often during His earthly life did Jesus put men into a position to command Him! When entering Jericho, He stood still, and said to the blind beggars:

“What will ye that I shall do unto you?” It was as though He said, “I am yours to command.”

Can we ever forget how He yielded to the Syrophenician woman the key to His resources and told her to help herself even as she would?

What mortal mind can realize the full significance of the position to which our God lovingly raises His little children? He seems to say, “All my resources are at your command.” “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do.”
—F. B. Meyer

Say to this mountain, “Go,
Be cast into the sea”;
And doubt not in thine heart
That it shall be to thee.
It shall be done, doubt not His Word,
Challenge thy mountain in the Lord!

Claim thy redemption right,
Purchased by precious blood;
The Trinity unite
To make it true and good.
It shall be done, obey the Word
Challenge thy mountain in the Lord!

Self, sickness, sorrow, sin,
The Lord did meet that day
On His beloved One,
And thou art “loosed away.”
It has been done, rest on His Word,
Challenge thy mountain in the Lord!

Praising My Way Through Grief

Combat Grief With Praise.  Also, read the psalms.

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Praising My Way through Grief

Praising God when things are going well seems the right thing to do. But when my world seems to be shattered, praising God can feel unnatural. And so it is.

This is why God rejoices when I do it, and my life is transformed in the process.

There’s no doubt that the Word instructs me to keep on praising the Lord—no matter what my circumstances are like.

I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34:1 KJV

What a challenge this has been in my Christian life. Too often I want to “bless the LORD” with my praise only when all seems right with my world.

When it feels to my near-sighted soul that He has withdrawn His blessings from me–such as when tragedy or trouble comes–I want to withdraw my praise.

The course in the midst of troubles has too often been: I will praise Him when things get better—when He is blessing me again.

The truth is God never stops blessing me. Every day and every moment of the day He pours His grace on me. He helps me through my troubles—if I’m willing to receive that help. His love for me does not change—even though my circumstances may.

Praises can cease when I start judging God– accusing Him of bringing calamity to my life for all sorts of unholy reasons. The truth is God remains holy and righteous through every season of my life. His view of me does not change just because I think it does or because the way I see Him becomes skewed. He is not punishing me through trials just because my wayward soul determines it is so.

When tragedy struck on February 28, 2012 due to the suicide of my brother, there was a part of me that wanted to stop praising God. How can I praise a God who refused to intervene to save this precious life? But those thoughts were short-lived as I determined to stay in praise no matter what my emotions told me.

As I have stayed in the Word—especially in the Psalms—I’ve been reminded that God is deserving of all my praise. Praise the Lord! I’ve recalled all He has brought me through. Praise the Lord! I’ve recollected how at times He has carried me when I’ve felt too weak to go on—both in this tragedy and in the midst of calamities in the past. Praise the Lord!

Not only do I praise God for His faithfulness in days gone by and in my present struggles, but I also praise Him for His promise to be faithful in the future. I feel excited about what He is going to do next to continue to bring good out of this latest heartbreak as He has done with every challenge in my life.

I’m still going through the valley of grief. This month is hard because it’s my brother’s birthday. Suddenly at times I’ve felt overwhelmed with guilt and anger again. Guilt over not doing more to reach out and encourage. Anger over the devil’s taunts that he has won the victory in this tragedy.

When I look at what has happened from God’s perspective, I see Him bringing triumph from tragedy. Hearts are being drawn closer to Him and to each other. I’ve never felt closer to the Lord.

My heart echoes what David said in Psalm 43:5

…for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (NIV)

Moving From Grief to Grace

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 (NIV)

Grief hits each one of us and can come from so many different directions.

A romantic relationship gone awry. The loss of a cherished friendship. A puppy put down. Empty arms and a broken heart due to abortion. Infertility. Abuse. The death of a loved one.

Dreams with a hope and future dashed in an instant. I know. I’ve lived it, too.

A phone call changed my hopes and future as Matt, my older son, wailed into the phone about my younger son, “Kyle died last night!”

Oh, God.

NO, GOD!

Hopes, dreams, future …

Wedding invitations from his friends simply ripped my heart apart. Birth announcements of babies from those now married friends rekindled the loss. And the realization that there would be no grandchildren from him — running to me, holding their pudgy little hands or him tossing them into the sky showered with shouts of glee — hit hard.

Yes, weddings, graduations, birth announcements — all reminders of those hope-filled dreams that had been shattered — caused weeping, groaning and bitterness. My heart often wondered: Will I remain bitter or will I get better? Will I continue to dissolve into tears, or will I ever erupt into cheers for these precious friends?

At one of my lowest moments, realization and remembrance flooded my heart and mind: God lost His Son too, His only Son. The Father knew my loss, pain and brokenness oh so well.

That revelation was like supernatural glue applied to bind my wounded soul. The lost, dark, broken part receded as God proceeded to heal my broken heart with His love and light.

How about your lost plans, hopes and dreams?

Are you bitter?

Do you want to be better?

Are you ready to lay your heavy cares at the foot of the cross … and leave that burden there, so you can step into God’s plans for you? Jesus promised, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light,” (Matthew 11:30, NKJV).

God’s plan for His Son was not what the people hoped for and expected as they celebrated the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday, then experienced His death on the cross by week’s end. They did not know Easter Sunday — His Son’s day — was coming.

Remember, friend … Sunday’s coming! Jesus arose from the grave by the grace of God to save and redeem us. He has plans for us that include a hope and a future, even when our plans are dashed and we can’t see beyond the overwhelming loss of now.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).

We lost Kyle seven years and three days ago today. Yet, out of the ashes of grief a story of grace rises — the grace of our Lord, Jesus.

 

Season of Grief, Journey of Faith

Through a Season of Grief; Season of Grief, Journey of Faith

Understanding Your Grief

But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. — Isaiah 40:31

Grief is not an enemy or a sign of weakness. It is a sign of being human.

Grief is the cost of loving someone.

Since grief comes to everyone, why do some people seem to work through it better than others?

“Some people think that going through the losses or crises of life are the exceptional times,” says Dr. H. Norman Wright.

“I see it differently. I see the times of calm as the exceptions. Life really is going through one loss after another, one crisis after another. Instead of avoiding talking about these times, let’s do our homework. When you know what to expect, you’re not thrown by them as much, and you’re going to be better able to recover.”

Lord God, teach me to embrace my grief and not fight it, so that I may experience the true healing that comes from You. 

Grief Is a Unique Experience

O LORD, You have examined my heart and know everything about me… Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex… You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. — Psalm 139:1,14,16 (NLT)

You may feel it is useless to talk about your grief because no one truly understands what you are going through.

“You sometimes feel after an experience like this that you’re talking a foreign language,” says Dora, whose daughter died. “You feel like there’s no way anybody can know what you’re feeling. There is absolutely no way anyone can know the depth of your pain. So you feel like it’s futile to talk about it because words can’t express the pain.”

Although countless people have experienced grief before you, each person’s response to grief is different. Your path of grief will be uniquely your own.

Be encouraged that regardless of how your grief appears to you or others, it has a precious uniqueness to the One who created you.

God, who knows intimately your personality, your relationships, and the experiences of your life, knows your grief and isn’t shocked or surprised by your responses.

Father, thank You that my way of grieving is distinctly my own, reflective of all You have sovereignly created me to be and experience.

Grief Runs Deep: Where Is the Hope?

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD. — Psalm 31:24

Dr. Joseph Stowell says, “Even though your heart is breaking and tears are clouding your eyes and staining your cheeks, God does give us something worth trusting in tough times. And that’s Him, and Him alone.”

When your heart is breaking, you can place your hope and trust in the Lord.

Anne Graham Lotz defines hope: “Biblical hope is absolute confidence in something you haven’t seen or received yet, but you’re absolutely confident that whatever God has said is going to come to pass.”

She also declares that “Jesus is your hope for the future. One day Jesus Christ will come back, and He will set all of the wrong right. Good will triumph over the bad. Love will triumph over hate. Righteousness will triumph over evil. He’s going to make it all right, and you can have absolute confidence that that’s going to take place. That’s your hope.”

Sovereign God, I choose hope. I choose faith. I choose life. Give me an unshakable faith in You.

Grief Lasts Longer Than Expected

Grief ’s unexpected turns will throw you again and again. You may feel that for every step forward, you take at least one step back.

The grieving process generally takes longer than you ever imagined. Please don’t rush this process. Remember, what you are feeling is not only normal, it is necessary.

“It’s been seven years, and I’m still going through it,” says Dr. Larry Crabb, whose brother died in a plane crash. “I don’t know if it’s a very holy thing to admit, but when someone says, ‘Well, it’s been a week, a month, a year — Larry, for you it’s been seven years. Get a grip. Where’s your faith in Christ, for goodness’ sake?’ I get really angry.

“Knowing the Lord and His comfort does not take away the ache; instead, it supports you in the middle of the ache. Until I get home to heaven, there’s going to be an ache that won’t quit. The grieving process for me is not so much a matter of getting rid of the pain, but not being controlled by the pain.”

We read in the Psalms that David grew weary with the process of grief and cried out to the Lord. Then he left the timing in God’s hands.

Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish. How long, O LORD, how long? Turn, O LORD, and deliver me; save me because of Your unfailing love. — Psalm 6:2-4

I am weary with my sighing; Every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears. My eye has wasted away with grief. — Psalm 6:6-7

Heavenly God, I cannot even begin to put my grief in a time frame. Thank You that I don’t have to. Comfort me and support me as I lean on You. 

He Will Carry You

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to You, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. — Psalm 61:1-3

The Lord will carry you if you ask Him. When you are feeling so weak you cannot take another step, ask Him to lift you high into His loving arms. Then rest in Him with an open and listening heart. This does not mean your problems will disappear, but it does mean you will have Someone to share them with.

“If you are someone who does not know Jesus Christ as your Savior and you have just been widowed or bereaved, you have a tremendous burden,” says Elisabeth Elliot. “You are tired, and it is too big a burden to carry. The Lord says, ‘Come to Me, you who are tired and over-burdened, and I will give you rest.’”

To receive peace and rest in Christ, the instructions are clear. Jesus says, “Come to Me.” You must first approach Him and then talk to Him and quietly listen.

 

The Waves Were None of His Business – Streams in the Desert – June 23

Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t

So he said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind he became afraid. And starting to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:29-30)

Peter had a little faith in the midst of his doubts, says Bunyan; and so with crying and coming he was brought to Christ.

But here you see that sight was a hindrance; the waves were none of his business when once he had set out; all Peter had any concern with, was the pathway of light that came gleaming across the darkness from where Christ stood. If it was tenfold Egypt beyond that, Peter had no call to look and see.

When the Lord shall call to you over the waters, “Come,” step gladly forth. Look not for a moment away from Him.

Not by measuring the waves can you prevail; not by gauging the wind will you grow strong; to scan the danger may be to fall before it; to pause at the difficulties, is to have them break above your head. Lift up your eyes unto the hills, and go forward—there is no other way.

“Dost thou fear to launch away?
Faith lets go to swim!
Never will He let thee go;
’Tis by trusting thou shalt know
Fellowship with Him.”