Thursday, August 29, 2013


Nearing the end of preparing a post for today my computer got attacked. Now I wait on the techs. Interesting that today's post was about waiting on the Lord.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Green, Growing and Fruitful

“How blessed is the man who … delight[s] is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away.” (Psalm 1:1a,2–4, NASB95)

As I look out back I can see things thriving and others struggling, depending on where I look. When I look in the garden I see cherry tomatoes in quantities that baffle my mind as I think that I would have to eat massive quantities each day in order to keep up (either that or share them). When I look to the mature fruit trees I see branches that are bending under the weight. Yet when I look just outside the garden where our blueberries are supposed to be thriving, I see weeds that have gone crazy, burying the berries. When I look to the front yard and a section of the back yard I see green grass, but when I look to the further reaches of the back yard (areas which I choose to sparingly water) I see dry brown grass. I see things that have been fed, watered, and weeded and are thriving as a result, and I see things that are struggling because of a lack of attention, a lack of nutrition, a lack of rain, and an abundance of baking sunshine.

This picture resembles our world around us and it also can resemble our lives as we daily make choices about how we are going to live. In Christ, we have been given all that we need to grow, mature, and bear fruit. But in ourselves we can choose to ignore this enablement and struggle in our own flesh. Paul talked about this tension to live as he knew he should live in Romans 7:13-25. But then in Romans 8 Paul wrote about our ability to live victoriously as we read in verses 1-11.

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:1–11, NASB95)

He set up a contrast—literally a battle raging within us—one leading to defeat and one to victory. The one leading to victory is dependent on our walking according to the Spirit which, as Christians, we are able to do because we are in the Spirit because the Spirit of God dwells in us (8:9). This is not true for those who have not placed their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. And it is not true in the sense of our daily skirmishes when we choose to walk according to our own desires and not according to Christ.

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” (Colossians 2:6–7, NASB95)

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31, NASB95)

“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37, NASB95)

(Afternoon Update: With a little bit of attention half of the berry bushes can see light as they have been set free from the choking weeds.)

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (8/28)

Grow strong in the Light of My Presence. As My Face shines upon you, you receive nutrients that enhance your growth in grace. I designed you to commune with Me face to Face, and this interaction strengthens your soul. Such communion provides a tiny glimpse of what awaits you in heaven, where all barriers between you and My Glory will be removed. This meditative time with Me blesses you doubly: You experience My Presence here and now, and you are refreshed by the hope of heaven, where you will know Me in ecstatic Joy.

Many are asking, “Who can show us any good?” Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord. You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:6-8

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. Revelation 21:23

Monday, August 26, 2013

These Things I Have Said To You

There is so much that happens in our lives that is out of our control, but which can drive us buggy at times trying to manage them. If our stability is found in things running smoothly then we have at best a very temporary and most likely a shaky foundation. Because the simple truth is that in this world we will have troubles.

In John chapter 16 Jesus repeats five times the phrase, “I have said these things to you.” Knowing that He would soon be leaving His disciples as the time of the cross was at hand, He shared with them statements of assurance and hope even in the midst of the trials which would soon come upon them.

In chapters 13, 14 and 15 Jesus shared with His disciples what was about to happen and why. He shared His need to leave, their assurance of a future home in God’s presence, His oneness with God the Father, and what He would accomplish through them after His leaving. He spoke of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the power and guidance that they would receive because of the Spirit’s indwelling. He told them of their need to abide in Him and even the power of love that would bring Him to lay down His life for them. And He also told them that they would be despised by some just as He Himself was hated. And just prior to chapter 16, Jesus ends this portion of His talk with His disciples with our triune God’s plan for them to go forward (one God manifest in 3 persons-Father, Son, Holy Spirit).

“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.” (John 15:26–27, NASB95)

The first two came as a sandwich of assurance that God’s plans had not gone awry when the disciples were to soon face persecution as they went out testifying about Christ. “These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling. They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me. But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them.” (John 16:1–4a, NASB95)

The next one comes in explanation of why Jesus had not clearly said all of these things before, but why they were so important for now. He explained both what the Holy Spirit was going to accomplish (verses 7-15) and that even in His leaving that they would also see Him again and in the meantime if they had need all they had to do was ask (verses 16-24).

“…These things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.”

“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.

“A little while, and you will no longer see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me.” Some of His disciples then said to one another, “What is this thing He is telling us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and, ‘because I go to the Father’?” So they were saying, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’? We do not know what He is talking about.” Jesus knew that they wished to question Him, and He said to them, “Are you deliberating together about this, that I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me, and again a little while, and you will see Me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy. Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.” (John 16:4–24, NASB95)

The fourth is said by Jesus as an assurance that though they might not fully understand now, one day He will explain it to them in full and they will understand. It is important for them to know that God the Father loves them, that He sent Jesus and that He (Jesus) was now returning to the Father. ““These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father. “In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father. I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father.” (John 16:25–28, NASB95)

To this His disciples responded that they now understand the most important thing, and that is that they knew that Jesus knew why He had come and what He was doing. In this they could trust Him even in the things they did not understand for themselves. To this Jesus responded that just as He would not be alone in what He would soon endure, that He also would not leave them alone and in that they could come to know real peace. “His disciples said, “Lo, now You are speaking plainly and are not using a figure of speech. Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that You came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”” (John 16:29–33, NASB95)

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Following these words Jesus began to pray to the Father, a prayer which we can read in chapter 17.

In the messiness of our days, when there are plates spinning and other ones even falling, remember that our God does indeed loves us, that the Father has given us His Spirit, and that when we need help all we need do is “ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.” (John 16:24, NASB95)

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (8/26)

Trust Me in the midst of a messy day. Your inner calm – your Peace in My Presence – need not be shaken by what is going on around you. Though you live in this temporal world, your innermost being is rooted and grounded in eternity. When you start to feel stressed, detach yourself from the disturbances around you. Instead of desperately striving to maintain order and control in your little world, relax and remember that circumstances cannot touch My Peace.

Seek My Face, and I will share My mind with you, opening your eyes to see things from My perspective. Do not let your heart be troubled, and do not be afraid. The Peace I give is sufficient for you.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Psalm 105:4

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Cleansed Temples

Yesterday the focus was on God being everywhere present all the time regardless of man’s position in relation to Him. We touched on the relational closeness we have with Him when we have placed our trust in His Son, Jesus Christ, for our salvation. Today is a little closer look at this relational closeness, and in doing this the focus is on our personal closeness as individuals and our corporate closeness as the church. Foremost in my mind are a couple of verses in 1 Corinthians that refer to being God’s temple—a place where His Spirit abides and is powerful.

“Do you not know that you [the recipients of his letter or collective group of believers] are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.” (1 Corinthians 3:16–17, NASB95)

“Or do you not know that your body [individual of all believers] is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20, NASB95)

This does not have to be an issue of either/or, but is one of both. Remember that our God is an everywhere-all-the-time present God. He can and does abide fully everywhere, in every believer, in every group of believers, and in all believers. The temple historically has been a place of worship, a place of gathering, and a place where at its holiest core God could be approached. As Christians we have been declared holy by God. In many translations we see believers referred to as saints. The actual Greek word used in the New Testament is ‘hagios,’ literally meaning ‘sacred’ or ‘holy’ and is used to describe us as His holy ones. This holiness is nothing of our own doing, but rather is something imputed (put on or credited) to us by Jesus Christ.

Yesterday I left off with Abraham having righteousness credited to him because of faith. Paul continues later in chapter 4 with, “Now not for his [Abraham’s] sake only was it written that it was credited to him, but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.” (Romans 4:23–25, NASB95) The same righteousness imputed to Abraham is credited to all who believe in Him [God]. A little further on Paul adds, “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:18–19, NASB95)

Our response to live differently, reading in Romans 6:13-14, “and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:13–14, NASB95) And our reason for living differently is simply because we are now different, now serving a new master and having now the enablement to live changed by the Spirit of God in us.

“However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:9–11, NASB95)

Romans chapter 8 is an incredible chapter declaring our position in Christ and the victory which He gives us in life through the indwelling enablement of His Spirit. Where people may have thought they had to go to a certain location to seek God and His favor and to request someone of a certain position to intercede or even pray, we have been given, as a gracious and loving gift from our God, the very presence of God dwelling in us as individuals and as corporate believers where we build into and encourage one another, serving Him side-by-side with others in His church which is even called the body of Christ and His bride.

“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” (John 17:20–23, NASB95)

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (8/25)

I am the eternal I AM; I always have been, and I always will be. In My Presence you experience Love and Light, Peace and Joy. I am intimately involved in all your moments, and I am training you to be aware of Me at all times. Your assignment is to collaborate with Me in this training process.

I have taken up residence within you; I am central in your innermost being. Your mind goes off in tangents from its holy Center, time after time. Do not be alarmed by your inability to remain focused on Me. Simply bring your thoughts gently back to Me each time they wander. The quickest way to redirect your mind to me is to whisper My Name.

God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:14

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16

The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare. Psalm 25:14-15

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Everywhere Present All The Time

There was a bumper sticker I remember from years ago which read “GODISNOWHERE.” It could be read two ways, but regardless of how some might choose to believe the second (God is no where), the truth is that GOD IS NOW HERE and He always has been. There is a universal truth about our God, and that truth is that He is everywhere present all the time (omnipresent). This does not mean that we can see Him or feel His presence, but it is absolute truth nonetheless that He is present. The interesting thing is that He is just as everywhere present around those who know Him as those who don’t know Him.

And when it comes to knowing Him, Scripture declares that all men have a basic knowledge of His presence and His ways. We read in Romans 1 and 2 that man will even be judged based upon his response to this awareness through Jesus Christ.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” (Romans 1:18–21, NASB95)

“For when Gentiles [Greek: ethnos meaning race or people which is associated more specifically with non-Jews] who do not have the Law [given to them by God and passed on] do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.” (Romans 2:14–16, NASB95)

Even before I came to a place that I really understood that God loved me and that He wanted to have a relationship with me, I knew He existed. And there was a desire in my heart to find Him. As I’ve talked with others I heard the same story over and over, as people are prompted to look to God. On my own I wouldn’t know where to start, but God placed that spark and He nurtured it—preparing my heart to respond to His gift of salvation.

In Romans chapter 3 we read of God’s answer to that burning in our hearts, whether we were raised being trained in His Word, as a Jew who has had the Law passed down for thousands of years, or we came from a place of little to no understanding. That answer is to trust in Christ.

“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:21–26, NASB95)

And this answer was the same even for those who came before the cross, such as Abraham of whom Scripture declares: “”For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,” (Romans 4:3–5, NASB95)

I love marching through Romans and easily could continue. But be it enough said for now that God is present to reveal Himself to those who are close and those who are far away. And He is relationally present for those who have trusted in Him for salvation. If you haven’t done so yet, it’s really simple—just talk to Him, admit your need for a savior, thank Him for that Savior in His Son, Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and was raised again on the third day not only giving us freedom from sin, but newness of life for all eternity, and ask. He promised He would give. And for those who have trusted Christ, know that our God will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), nor will anyone or any power ever snatch us from His hand (John 10:27-29).

Enjoy His presence.

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (8/24)

I am all around you, hovering over you even as you seek My Face. I am nearer than you dare believe, closer than the air you breathe. If My children could only recognize My Presence, they would never feel lonely again. I know every thought before you think it, every word before you speak it. My Presence impinges on your innermost being. Can you see the absurdity of trying to hide anything from me? You can easily deceive other people, and even yourself; but I read you like an open, large-print book.

Deep within themselves, most people have some awareness of My imminent Presence. Many people run from Me and vehemently deny My existence, because My closeness terrifies them. But My own children have nothing to fear, for I have cleansed them by My blood and clothed them in My righteousness. Be blessed by My intimate nearness. Since I live in you, that Me also live through you, shining My Light into the darkness.

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. Psalm 139:1-4

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:13

God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Friday, August 23, 2013

Into His Hands

“But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep His covenant and remember His precepts to do them. The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.” (Psalm 103:17–19, NASB95)

As August is drawing near its end, parents are readying children for school. For some of those parents that school may be college and the child leaving the shelter of their home for a residence somewhere else. Last night I was at a meeting and a grandmother shared with me that her granddaughter was leaving the daycare she had been a part of since she was seven months old to start kindergarten. For a lot of children this can be a very exciting time and one for which they might even engage in a countdown of the days until it starts. But for this child there were a lot of tears because her two best friends, while also heading off to kindergarten, are each going to separate schools and their daily close bond will soon to be broken. Thinking of this caused the grandmother to choke up.

Whether our children or even grandchildren are heading off to kindergarten, college, or even marriage and/or a new career in a new location, letting go is a difficult thing to do. Yes, there are those you would like to use a pry bar to get them out the door, but even then I imagine it would be with some degree of mixed emotions.

And for those older children who have established a life apart from yours there is the tension which you feel as you hear of their struggles and as they experience new joys in which you now only share in at a distance. There is even intense heartbreak for some as their children make seemingly foolish or destructive decisions, some even turning from the foundation upon which they were raised.

A long time ago I heard the phrase, “Let go and let God.” I think it I might have even seen it on a poster with some kind of ‘cute’ picture like the cat with its paws grasping a bar with the phrase “Hang in there.” But this can be a difficult thing to do when it comes to someone for whom you feel responsible.

This is where we need to step back and remember that while we have been given charge over our children to raise them and to care for them, even this charge is subject to the protective hand of God. We can give them big hugs, put band aids on the hurts, take them to the store to get their school supplies, spend hours on the phone or chatting through some form of social media. We can fix meals, tuck them into bed, listen to hurts, give direction, and pray with them. We can do so much that is of extreme value and builds into our love relationships, and all of these are things that they desperately need. But this all comes with the humbling understanding that God has largely put us into roles in which we are learning as we go, roles in which we do so imperfectly, and roles in which we regularly realize our limitations.

When we commit before God to care for, raise, train, and love the children He has entrusted to us or to fulfill whatever role we might have in relation to others in our lives, we do so with an understanding that just as He is sovereign over our lives He is also sovereign over theirs. We move forward trusting Him to direct not only our steps but our interactions with others. We even trust Him to do what is best for them as we trust Him to do what is best for us. And when things go awry and we recognize just how limited we are, we can find rest in knowing that God does not have limitations such as ours.

“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate.” (Psalm 127:3–5, NASB95)

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:7–11, NASB95)

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (8/23)

Entrust your loved ones to Me; release them into My protective care. They are much safer with Me than in your clinging hands. If you let a loved one become an idol in your heart, you endanger that one – as well as yourself. Remember the extreme measures I used with Abraham and Isaac. I took Isaac to the very point of death to free Abraham from son-worship. … I detest idolatry, even in the form of parental love.

When you release loved ones to Me, you are free to cling to My hand. As you entrust others into My care, I am free to shower blessings on them. My Presence will go with them wherever they go, and I will give them rest. This same Presence stays with you, as you relax and place your trust in Me. Watch to see what I will do.

When they reached the place God had told them about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Genesis 22:9-12

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us….Ephesians 3:20

The Lord replied, “my Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Calm In The Storm

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27, NASB95)

Our day began with a large thunderstorm moving over. At first you heard the loud rolling thunder off in the distance, but as time passed it drew closer and it became much, much louder and the rolls seemed to be right on top of each other as the lightning repeatedly lit up the sky. In the midst of this the power went out in our home, and even though it was day time the thickness of the cloud cover kept our home in the dark. This was quite unnerving for the kids and the cats. The cats hid, but the kids we could talk to and assure, as we talked about the relative safety of our home as compared to standing exposed under the power of the storm and related it to the power of God to protect us from the storm.

As the thunder and lightning moved off into the distance again and the sky lightened up a bit, the kids became more relaxed, and then when the sun popped out and the lights eventually came back on things quickly went back to normal. Through this they once again have come through, what was for them, a frightening time knowing that all is well.

In a sense don’t we all struggle with fears in some way? When something imposing presses in there is that tension to look at the size of the storm and to maybe even momentarily lose sight of our God who is sovereign (totally in control) over the storm. But God, He does not leave us alone. He is always present and always protecting. We have no reason to fear, and He will bring us out on the other side.

“Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name. Let Your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us, according as we have hoped in You.” (Psalm 33:20–22, NASB95)

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.” (Psalm 46:1–7, NASB95)

Psalm 146:1, 5-6, 10 “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul!” … “How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, Whose hope is in the Lord his God, Who made heaven and earth, The sea and all that is in them; Who keeps faith forever;” … “The Lord will reign forever, Your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord!” (NASB95)

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (8/22)

Trust Me, and don’t be afraid. I want you to view trials as exercises designed to develop your trust-muscles. You live in the midst of fierce spiritual battles, and fear is one of Satan’s favorite weapons. When you start to feel afraid, affirm your trust in Me. Speak out loud, if circumstances permit. Resist the devil in My Name, and he will slink away from you. Refresh yourself in My holy Presence. Speak or sing praises to Me, and My Face will shine radiantly upon you.

Remember that there is no condemnation for those who belong to Me. You have been judged NOT GUILTY for all eternity. Trust Me, and don’t be afraid; for I am your Strength, Song, and Salvation.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2

“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Timely Reminder For Today

Often change in our lives takes time, whether that is a change in attitude and action or a change in work and whereabouts. While God is absolutely able to bring about change instantaneously, this is not generally how He does it except as it pertains to our salvation. Salvation happens at the moment we place our trust in Jesus Christ for our salvation, admitting to God our need of a Savior and accepting His free gift in His Son, Jesus Christ. At that moment we become a new creation in Christ and set secure in His eternal hands. But even then, for most of us there was a process of our eyes being opened and our hearts being softened until we understood, believed, and accepted. Following our salvation and our becoming fully justified based upon the shed blood of Jesus Christ and not anything we did, we then began the process of sanctification in which we are continually growing more and more into the image of God’s dear Son. It is during this process of learning more and more of Him and seeking to follow Him more and more closely that He shows us areas of our lives in which we need to change, and then His Spirit enables us to make that change. This process continues until that moment when we step out of our earthly bodies into His eternal presence, whether that happens by death or the second coming of His Son when He meets us in the air in a moment, in a twinkling of the eye. It is then, as Scripture even tells us, that we will receive glorified bodies—bodies not made with human hands, eternal in the heavens.

Spattered throughout this statement there were numerous Bible verses that came to my mind and which I hold onto with all hope. Yet I imagine with each of us there are times when we may struggle with exactly where these verses are found. Last night was one of those nights for me, and while I am thankful that His truth stands forever, I was shaken by my inability to remember their location. As I sit back now and rest I do so in the assurance that His truth does indeed stand forever and is totally reliable, and I can even relax a bit as I open to those passages and read them anew.

All of us who have placed our trust in Jesus Christ for our salvation are in the process of growing and our God is committed to growing us. As such we need to be continually looking to Him, continually hiding His Word in our hearts, continually spending time in prayer, meditation, and listening. Today Sarah writes about the path that God has for each of us, a path which is totally unique and appropriate to each of us as individuals submitted to Him. This path involves setting aside old ways, growing in our knowledge and understanding Him and His ways, and putting on those ways that He sets before us. This path includes service and even being served. It includes being His ambassadors to a world that so desperately needs to know the salvation which He has called us to and given to us. And it involves, most importantly, us giving back to Him our entire being in worship as a response to His great love shown to us and in admiration of who He is.

“Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:50–58, NASB95)

“but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;” (1 Peter 3:15, NASB95)

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1–2, NASB95)

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (8/21)

Wait with Me for a while. I have much to tell you. You are walking along the path I have chosen for you. It is both a privileged and a perilous way: experiencing My glorious Presence and heralding that reality to others. Sometimes you feel presumptuous to be carrying out such an assignment.

Do not worry about what other people think of you. The work I am doing in you is hidden at first. But eventually blossoms will burst forth, and abundant fruit will be borne. Stay on the path of Life with Me. Trust Me wholeheartedly, letting My Spirit fill you with Joy and Peace.

O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below – you keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way.” 1 Kings 8:23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 

Monday, August 19, 2013


In Scripture we read that we are to be anxious for nothing (Philippians 4:6) and that we are to cast all of our anxieties on Him (God), because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Mirriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “anxiety” as “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.”

Whether real or perceived we all have times when we are pressed in some way and we become greatly concerned about an impending event or encounter or even the gain or loss of something important. The list of things which could be included in this category is probably innumerable, but it is not infinite.

Last night after dinner we were watching “America’s Funniest Videos” with the kids, and there was one segment where animals were trapped in varying ways in things (from peanut butter jars to clothing) and they were momentarily constrained. As I watched this I felt a pressure come upon me, and I was feeling as if I were constrained myself. I couldn’t watch anymore, so I got up and grabbed a glass of ice water and walked out on the porch. Yesterday was the birthday of someone we love dearly, yet with whom we have a strained relationship due to life choices. Shortly before this happened we found out that this person’s phone number had changed and our birthday messages were not received. Robin, having just received the new number, made a phone call and left a message—not having actually been able to speak directly. As this event was occurring with me the phone rang, and it was that special person. Robin talked on the phone, not knowing how I was feeling.

As I stood on the front porch I realized that the real source of this tension, while having physiological symptoms, was really spiritual in nature. I had become so anxious over this strained relationship and some other pending concerns that it affected my body. At that time I spent some time in prayer—casting my anxiety upon God knowing that He knew perfectly what was going on and even what He was going to do, and then feeling greatly relieved I went inside and had my turn on the phone.

It is amazing how paralyzing anxiety can be. This is not something that I really have experienced much to this degree, but I know that there are those who live more of their lives struggling in this area. And I also know that the instructions of Scripture are good and right for those who occasionally struggle with anxiety and those who do so more regularly and even more intensely. No matter the extent, our God is bigger and His power is stronger and His ability to release us from the bonds on anxiety are limitless. In Christ we are made more than conquerors, and this includes over the battles of our mind or the attacks of spiritual oppression by the evil one.

In Ephesians we are told to stand strong, and our ability to do so is found in being properly attired in Christ.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:10–17, NASB95)

“Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:15–17, NASB95)

As Moses and the Lord both told Joshua numerous times (Deuteronomy 31:6,6,23; Joshua 1:6,7,9), “be strong and courageous.” “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9, NASB95)

I read this yesterday several times, but waited on it….

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (8/18)

Expect to encounter adversity in your life, remembering that you live in a deeply fallen world. Stop trying to find a way that circumvents difficulties. The main problem with an easy life is that it masks your need for Me. When you became a Christian, I infused My very Life into you, empowering you to live on a supernatural plane by depending on Me.

Anticipate coming face-to-face with impossibilities: situations totally beyond your ability to handle. This awareness of your inadequacy is not something you should try to evade. It is precisely where I want you – the best place to encounter Me in My Glory and Power. When you see armies of problems marching toward you, cry out to Me! Allow Me to fight for you. Watch Me working on your behalf, as you rest in the shadow of My Almighty Presence.

After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,…” Revelation 19:1

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest of the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Adversity Does Not Equal Punishment

Adversity does not equal punishment. The book of Job is the account of a man of God who endured great pain and loss through the death of his children, the loss of his possessions, and even physical affliction. Job’s “friends” came to him in his affliction and tried to encourage him. While they spoke highly of him, they also pointed to him and told him that in spite of all of the righteousness that they had seen in him and the way he lived his life there must be some secret thing for which he was being chastised by God and in need of repentance. Even Job, himself, listened to that line of thinking, and in chapter 7:17-21 we read just a small portion of what he felt and said in response:

““What is man that You magnify him, and that You are concerned about him, That You examine him every morning and try him every moment? “Will You never turn Your gaze away from me, nor let me alone until I swallow my spittle? “Have I sinned? What have I done to You, O watcher of men? Why have You set me as Your target, So that I am a burden to myself? “Why then do You not pardon my transgression and take away my iniquity? For now I will lie down in the dust; and You will seek me, but I will not be.”” (Job 7:17–21, NASB95)

They had all in some way considered the false principle that if something significant goes awry, it must be punishment from God in some form for something which they had done. In Job’s case, we have the benefit of being able to read the whole account from beginning to end. In the beginning we read,

“There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.” (Job 1:1, NASB95) And at the end we read,

“The Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the Lord increased all that Job had twofold. Then all his brothers and all his sisters and all who had known him before came to him, and they ate bread with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversities that the Lord had brought on him. And each one gave him one piece of money, and each a ring of gold. The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; … After this, Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons and his grandsons, four generations. And Job died, an old man and full of days.” (Job 42:10–12a, 16-17, NASB95)

God knew Job’s heart and his actions, and He even knew how Job (and his friends and his wife) would respond and how He (God) would ultimately return blessing to Job. What Job suffered was not as a result of disobedience or because he had riled God in some way. Though God made it clear that Job was in no position to judge God and that Job was not the creator and sustainer of things as God is, God also made it clear that He would not abandon those who are His and that He indeed is aware and in control of all that He allowed to come Job’s way (and our way). And unlike our ability to see the account of Job from one end to the other, we (like Job) may not understand what God is doing while we are in the middle of it. (Consider reading the whole book of Job if you have not done so, or done so in recent memory)

So far this concerns a man who was considered righteous by God, who lived his life in obedience to God and was impacted severely by events beyond his control or his own initiation. Yet there are also things which come into our lives which are results of actions we might have taken. These are known as consequences, and our God is even sovereign over consequences.

First and foremost, He is faithful to forgive. If you have placed your trust in Jesus Christ for your salvation then all of your sins—past, present, and future—are forgiven and God will not hold them against you. What He tells us in His Word is that we are to come before Him and admit (confess) those sins, thank Him for His forgiveness, and commit (as before) to obey Him in the future (1 John 1:9). Then what God does with the physical consequences of wrong actions in this life is really subject to His overwhelming mercy and grace. For example: When we break a law we may be convicted and then have to go to jail. This does not mean that God loves us any less, what it does mean is that there are consequences to our actions. This does not change our eternal acceptance by God or His willingness to grow us even in our transgressions and through the consequences. After all, it was not our cuteness and cuddliness that brought about His action to save, but our dire need and our inability to do anything about it.

So, when things press in and you are tempted to question God’s love and even His punishment, know first of all, that His love never fails and our acceptance by Him is never in question. Ask if there is something you need to confess, and (if there is) deal with it before Him. Then, ask Him to strengthen you for the things that lie ahead, whether you know the cause of them or not.

As with the past few days I was a bit out of whack in my devotional reading, with today’s “Jesus Calling” actually being the one from the 15th. And you know what, as I was going to bed last night and considering the season we (my family and I) are in, I am very thankful that this is how God spoke to my heart today.

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (8/15)

I am the God of all time and all that is. Seek Me not only in the morning quietness but consistently throughout the day. Do not let unexpected problems distract you from My Presence. Instead, talk with Me about everything, and watch confidently to see what I will do.

Adversity need not interrupt your communion with Me. When things go “wrong,” you tend to react as if you’re being punished. Instead of this negative response, try to view difficulties as blessings in disguise. Make Me your Refuge by pouring out your heart to Me, trusting in Me at all times.

Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. Psalm 55:17

Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. Psalm 32:6

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:8

Friday, August 16, 2013

Built Up And Encouraged

When working with people in counseling situations I frequently find that they do not have a regular practice of reading the Bible. Along with selecting passages of Scripture for them to consider, I also encourage them to start with a daily devotional. In doing this I encourage them to stick with the day, but not to feel that they are locked to that day as the most important thing is to read, think, pray, and meditate on. And if the devotional they opened up to for the day just did not connect, rather than blowing it off, just turn to a different day. Some devotionals even have themed or passage directories in them.

On the 14th I read “Jesus Calling” for the 16th, and then I continued that into the next day as well. So, being flexible, I just switched the dates. And in switching the dates I am reminded today about our God who never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He speaks to us from an eternal perspective, addressing our daily condition and needs. When everything around us is changing we can be certain that He doesn’t and as such He is indeed our firm foundation.

The Word of God was penned thousands of years ago, and it is the Word of God that is alive, totally accurate, powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). On the other hand, when someone writes a devotional well in advance of the day it will eventually be read by another, it is hopefully written from the vantage point of accurately handling the Word of God and drawing appropriate and wise insights related to it. They are not the same, but the same God is at work to speak to us as we commit to spending time before Him, seeking His face and following His direction for our lives. Scripture tells us to accurately handle the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15), to take what we have learned and to teach it to others who in turn will do the same (2 Timothy 2:2), and build up and encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Being in the body of Christ is indeed a privilege, and having the benefit of being built up and encouraged in the Lord by others is a real blessing. Being able to do the same in return is how God designed we should function.

“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:19–25, NASB95)

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (8/14)

I am yours for all eternity. I am the Alpha and the Omega: the One who is and was and is to come. The world you inhabit is a place of constant changes – more than your mind can absorb without going into shock. Even the body you inhabit is changing relentlessly, in spite of modern science’s attempts to prolong youth in life indefinitely. I, however, am the same yesterday and today and forever.

Because I never change, your relationship with Me provides a rock-solid foundation for your life. I will never leave your side. When you move on from this life to the next, My Presence beside you will shine brighter with each step. You have nothing to fear, because I am with you for all time and throughout eternity.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end. Psalm 102:25-27

For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end. Psalm 48:14

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Gears In My Mind

So, today as I opened “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young and reading the WRONG day (8/17 instead of 8/15), I read, “Find Me in the midst of the maelstrom. Sometimes events will whirl around you so quickly….” As I read this a crazy children’s song came to my mind, and is often the case (which my kids can attest to), I can rarely leave the words as they were written. Following is what came as a result.

(Sung to “The Wheels on the Bus”)
by Joe Burgess

The gears in my mind, they grind and grind
Grind and grind, grind and grind
The gears in my mind, they grind and grind
All through the night.

The thoughts in my mind, I capture them
Capture them, capture them
The thoughts in my mind, I capture them
And give them to God.

The peace in my heart, it grows and grows
Grows and grows, grows and grows
The peace in my heart, it grows and grows
For He calms my soul.

(Other thoughts)
The strength for my day, is from my Lord
From my Lord, from my Lord
The strength for my day, is from my Lord
As He guides my way.

The gears in my mind, they slow and slow
Slow and slow, slow and slow
The gears in my mind, they slow and slow
As He gives me rest.

There are times for all of us when something sparks a strain of worry in our minds. We might think it warranted in some way because of an upcoming or recent event or a pressure, but at other times we can’t even put a finger on the source or cause. We have an incredible thing in our brains which God designed and gave us the ability to use, but this incredible thing can also be a force to drive a wedge between us and Him. It is for that reason that Scripture speaks so frequently about the battle that wages in our minds, and the need we have to actively deal with it.

In 2 Corinthians 10:5 we read that those things we worry about are best dealt with when we take them captive and turn them over to God and do as His Word instructs. “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,… (NASB95)” I like that the words “Speculation” and “every lofty thing” are used, because worries seem to grow as we give them credence. They can become a consuming monster, while for the most part they are based in things which have not happened or over which we have no control. God tells us to surrender these things to Him, first of all by taking those thoughts captive. In taking them captive we rein them in and recognize them for what they are—things which He has control over and through which He has promised to faithfully direct our steps and bring us through (Proverbs 3:5-6; 1 Corinthians 10:13).

Knowing this of our God, we can then also know the peace that He gives, a peace that passes way above all understanding or comprehension—what we can grasp. Paul wrote of his confidence in God as one that drove him to his knees“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14–19, NASB95)

Paul also said, “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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6–7, NASB95)

Peace is found in replacing a focus on the size of your worry with trust in the size and faithfulness of our Lord. He knows our every thought and He knows how to lead us to victory. So when the wheels start spinning, remember who is the owner and driver of your bus.

Therefore, I will place my trust in Him and look not to the size of the situation, BUT to the size and faithfulness of my GOD.

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (8/17)

Find Me in the midst of the maelstrom. Sometimes events will whirl around you so quickly that they become a blur. Whisper My Name in recognition that I am still with you. Without skipping a beat in the activities that occupy you, you find strength and Peace through praying My Name. Later, when the happenings have run their course, you can talk with Me more fully.

Accept each day just as it comes to you. Do not waste your time and energy wishing for a different set of circumstances. Instead, trust Me enough to yield to My design and purposes. Remember that nothing can separate you from My loving Present; you are Mine.

Therefore 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 confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11

But now, this is what the Lord says – he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. Isaiah 43:1

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

God Is The Author Of Joy

There is a children’s repetitive song that has been around for many years, “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” There are more verses to this song than I could ever imagine, as people have counted their happiness in one way or another. But one of my favorites is, “If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it.” We often confuse our feelings of happiness with our deep sense of well-being in which we find our joy. But happiness is definitely one way in which we show how we feel inside, though it is not the sole determinant of how we are.

Christian comedian Ken Davis in his “Seriously Funny” DVD said the following, “I am so tired of people who claim to be followers of Christ who walk around with a face that looks like they swallowed a profusely sweating toad.” He continues, “I’ve been a Christian for twenty-seven years [scowling], and it’s been great [more scowling].” “I want to say, ‘well, tell your face. You need to send missionaries to your face. Your face has not yet heard the good news.’ God is the author of joy…..”

As we all know, our feelings change as we go through our days. We encounter things to which we respond with satisfaction and happiness, and other things which cause concern and sorrow. Yet, as children of God and joint heirs with Christ, we know that neither the best of the best here nor the worst of the worst is comparable to the overwhelming joy of knowing that our eternity is secure and that God’s hand on us is never failing. In both extremes we can find joy because we know that God will bring us through and that His purposes will be fulfilled.

James said to, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4) We can do this because of the confidence we have in our God that He will not abandon us, and that He will indeed complete that which He has started—which is a good work.

Jesus Himself was the ultimate sufferer for our good. We read in 1 Peter 2:21-24, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” And in Hebrews 12:2 we even read that it was Jesus, “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Our welfare is not determined by our circumstances and God’s love is not fickle. His love is everlasting as Psalm 136 repeats over and over and over again, and His faithfulness reaches to the skies (Psalm 36:5). Peter’s response to this was to praise God and to encourage his fellow believers as we read in 1 Peter 1:3-9,

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

I know this is a lesson I need to regularly remind myself of as I face daily trials, and I have also grown in knowing that my God is immensely faithful for these trials. As such I have done better and am encouraged to do better in finding my joy in Him in both the good and the bad, the rest and the wrestling. Knowing Him to be in control really does allow for my face (more and more) to show what my heart and mind already know.

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (8/13)

Learn to enjoy life more. Relax, remembering that I am God with you. I crafted you with enormous capacity to know Me and enjoy My Presence. When My people wear sour faces and walk through their lives with resigned rigidity, I am displeased. When you walk through a day with childlike delight, savoring every blessing, you proclaim your trust in Me, your ever-present Shepherd. The more you focus on My Presence with you, the more fully you can enjoy life. Glorify Me through your pleasure in Me. Thus you proclaim My Presence to the watching world.

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” – which means, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:10-11

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Guarded Heart

Roller coasters can be a lot of fun, especially for those who are a bit more adventurous and not having queasy stomachs. There are so many incredible coaster rides out there, and there are even people whose have a goal of riding all of the major ones. These coasters spin you around, raise you up high only to turn you over or throw you back down, stomachs in your throats, all the while having the clickity-clack of the track and the chain ever present in your ears and vibrating your body. These are truly times when the adrenalin flows for the riders. At the same time, there are others who strongly prefer to keep both feet firmly planted on the ground, refusing to step on the loading platform.

Life can also be this way for many, seeming to have no control once you’ve stepped into it. As a result, there are some who go for the ride kicking and screaming (maybe even enjoying it for a while), and others still who seek to hide and escape. Whether the ride is of our own doing, the impact of others, or circumstance, life is challenging and stuff happens. And how we deal with those challenges is very important.

God tells us through His Word that there is so much more than just these two options. He offers both help and hope for the turmoil and strength for the journey. Our lives are not an out-of-control coaster ride, rather we have a God who frames up and limits everything. He knows our limitations and He gives us the strength to endure. He also knows our fears and He gives us the strength to face them.

In Proverbs 4:20-23 we read, “My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them and health to all their body. Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”

An unguarded heart is a volatile heart. It is subject to every wind or whim, and it can lead to a life that is more volatile than the greatest roller coaster ride on one extreme or becoming more distant than hiding in the darkest of closets on the other. The instruction to watch over it with all diligence is an important instruction, but there needs to be a framework to that watching, and that framework is found in having a relationship with the living God through salvation in His Son and being led by His Spirit firmly grounded in His Word.

In verses 25 and 26 of Proverbs 4 we go on to read, “Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established.” And in looking straight ahead, we  are told to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

Resist the temptation to ride the roller coaster, unless it is at an amusement park. And don't retreat to the closet, unless it is to get quiet with God. Set your eyes on Jesus, hide His word in your heart, and trust Him to help you navigate through the difficult things in your life.