June 30 – Tested and True


“Your word is very pure, Therefore Your servant loves it.” Psalm 119:140 (NASB)

In a book about promises is it not natural that we want those promises to be tested and prove true? Yes, we do. The Psalmist writing this song knew of the power and trustworthiness of God’s promises as they were revealed in the Holy Scriptures at that time. Psalm 119 is not only the longest chapter in verses, it is a psalm that references and says something true and good about God’s words in each verse. He saw and knew that any promises given by God were pure truth because they came from God. If God is who He says He is, then His word is true and His promises are as good as tested. Every word that we have from God is righteous and pure and we have solid reason to trust and love God’s word. His promises abound in number and in power. Nothing is stronger than a promise from God. What was the psalmist’s reaction to that truth? He said the he loved the promises. We too love the promises we find in God’s word. We love them because they are true, they encourage us, they guide us and give us strength to press on.

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June 25 – Our Flight From Danger


“(For by these) He has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” 2 Peter 1:4 (ESV)

There are good reasons for why God has given us the many promises in the Bible. The Apostle Peter taught some of these reasons in the second letter he wrote. God expects His promises to produce changes in our lives. The “precious and very great promises” include abundant and eternal life as partakers of His divine nature. The changes that God desires in us are produced when we believe His promises. God wants us to be more and more like Him. We are His children and so we should resemble our Father in heaven. In the world there is much evil and sinful desires which cause the corruption of this world. “Corruption” has the idea of something decomposing or decaying. God promises us that He will help us escape the danger of corruption, through faith, a life that is pleasing to Him. Let’s believe the promises and we can watch Him carry them out. Looking back to verse 3, we see that it is by God’s power we have all we need for a godly life, for true knowledge of Him. Because He called us to salvation by His own glory and excellence through the cross.

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June 21 – A Promise to Guard All Promises


“Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised. Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant.” 1 Kings 8:56 (ESV)

These words of praise were spoken by the King of all Israel, Solomon, son of David at the time of the dedication of the temple which he had built in Jerusalem (10th century B.C.). It reminds us of God’s perfect faithfulness of and that we can trust all of his promises to us. God had given many promises to His people through Moses almost 500 years before Solomon. In Joshua 21:45 Joshua had reminded them “Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.” Did you note what Solomon said about these promises? He said the same thing Joshua had said, “Not one word has failed.” God had kept his promises in every detail. This is the kind of God we have today. Most days we look at a specific promise to remember and today that promise is that He’ll keep every word of His promises to us. Think of some promise or promises God has given you my friend. He will be faithful to you as he was to Israel then and now.

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February 19 – God’s Spa is Best

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. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. – Proverbs 3:5-8 (ESV)

If mom told me once, she told me more than a hundred million times, “Don’t slam the screen door!” Some lessons need repetition because they are very important. Our verses today are familiar and they have wisdom and promises we need to remember. So, we return to them often. Don’t weary then of hearing Scripture quoted which you have known before. These truths need to be reviewed more than occasionally; we need to hear them often. We need to admit that we don’t have all the answers and our understanding is not enough. God knows the straight path for us and He knows the end from the beginning. He can direct us when we have decisions to make. So it’s up to us to put our trust in our loving, all-knowing God. It is risky to think our understanding is enough apart from that given to us by the Lord. It is risky messing around with any means or people who do not follow God’s way. If we turn away from evil and trust the LORD with all our heart, we will have healing and refreshment to our bones. Better than any spa visit.

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February 15 – Remember to Strengthen your Faith


“You have said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn to David my servant: ‘I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations.’ Selah” Psalm 89:3-4 (ESV)

This psalm is not a Psalm of David. It is identified in the title as A MASKIL OF ETHAN THE EZRAHITE. Looking for a blessing from God in your life? Then let’s remind ourselves of scriptures that give God’s promises of His blessing. In our chosen verses for today, we have a prayer that God would honor the covenant he made with David when he was King. God is praised for the covenant He made with King David. That promise was for eternal representation by the lineage of David on the throne. It will be fulfilled when Jesus takes the Throne one day on Earth. This has some significance as we think of when in Israel’s history it was written. Before this Psalm was written, Israel, the Northern Kingdom, had been decimated and no longer existed. Judah, the southern kingdom, about two centuries later, had most of the professional, educated, experienced, and skilled population exiled to Babylon. Ethan reminds God of what He said to David. He does so to bolster his own faith in God’s promises. When we waver in our faith it is always good to remind ourselves by stating what God has promised already.

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Just How Great Can We Make it Again?

How big is God?

No, really, this is a seriously good question to ask. We say we have a Big God but do we really believe it? Do we live as if we believe that God is even beyond big? It is my belief that we do not have in our language a word that is adequate to describe the scope of God because we cannot even possibly conceive of a God as big as He really is. God is so big that he is beyond any comprehension we have. God is size-less. God has no limits, no boundaries and cannot be measured by any method or scale that we do understand. This is truth – God is beyond any limitations we try to put on Him or put Him in.

So then, it is useless for us to try to relegate God in our lives to some obscure place where we can, when we need Him, reach out and pull His Grace and Love into our lives. It is an empty though often practiced method of organizing and compartmentalizing our lives so that we can have “the best of both world.” We do this so that we can remain friends with the world and its system and at the same time pretend that we love God and believe in Him and His Word. God cannot be contained in any way and His Word cannot be rewritten to fit what the world wants.

I believe it is time to acknowledge that God is so very big that he actually ordains everything that happens in our lives including the suffering we experience and will experience.  Whatever trials and whatever sufferings we experience are ordained by God. Everything that comes into our lives is part of all things that God works together for good, even the suffering and pain of illness, loss, and persecution.  It has to be so because if it is not so we have a pretty small God who does not control all things and leaves some things to chance. We do not believe or say “God didn’t have anything to do with that which caused our suffering.” That is not so. God is so Big that he knows and ordains even the suffering we endure.

Everything in our lives is ordained by God. All is permitted by God. Nothing happens independently from the knowledge and will of God.

No, that does not mean everything in our lives is approved by God or designed by God or instigated by God.  Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” James 1:13

It means that God is so far beyond being Big that nothing passes his attention and if something bad, evil or wicked happens, God knows about it and yes, He allows it.  God does not create the bad, evil or wickedness that comes into our world but he has ordained the world to allow it to exist until that day when all things will be reconciled and put right.

[This is an insightful dialogue about what God has to do with with the ordination of suffering in our lives.]

Turn the coin over and the nations of the world, the mighty nations are nothing. Well, they are less than nothing, if that is possible in our mind to comprehend something less than nothing. “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales;” Isaiah 40:15  “All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.” Isaiah 40:17

So, God is bigger than big and we are less than nothing when consequence is considered. All the huff and puff of the nations amount to less than nothing when viewed through the eyes of our God.  So why do we fret so much over what is happening? Why do we cry out and cry for our way of life as it has been? Why do we want back what we think we had?  How far back do we want to go? To 1950, or 1960, or 1970, or 1980? Certainly at least that far back, right? We don’t want to just go back the the America of 2008. Where in history do we want to pick up from where we were because that was “Great” America?

What did we have? Was it of any real significant value?

No. It was not. Not when consequence is considered.  So, with the campaign promise, “Make America Great Again.” What kind of “Great” is it that we are trying to make again?   Yes, we really have to face this question of what kind of “Great” is being promised in the campaign slogan. Your idea of “Great” or the candidates idea of “Great”. Because, this is true, that the “Great”, whatever it is for whoever, will not be a blessing to the ones who are in Christ, those who have Christ in them.

The day has come and is coming when it will be the Greatness of God and not the Greatness of America that has significance and consequence for those who believe in the only true God, the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, our Savior.

Do not be deceived and do not forget that if  you have come to the point that you believe in  Jesus Christ and put your faith in his redemptive work as he suffered and died on the cross and in his resurrection to a new life, you are under the promise of suffering, trials and tribulation for His sake.  And that suffering comes at us in many ways. And a way that is developing very quickly in this country because of the influence of evil through Satanic manipulation and unrighteousness is the suffering Christians will experience just because they are Christian. This has begun and it is picking up steam. Christians have lived under the delusion that it is the Constitution of the United States that has given them their religious liberty and therefore they expect the protection of the Constitution to be with us always.  This is not so.

Christians have been embracing the philosophies of the world – those that even are contrary to the never changing Word of God – and the result is that their perspective of the world and their understanding of their purpose has morphed into attitudes and beliefs that promote not the Word of God but the attitudes and views perpetuated by anti-God and anti-Christ influences.  The justification for embracing these attitudes are given in high sounding words which sound like something God would agree with except God has already disagreed with them and called them an abomination.

If we were to list the attitudes that embrace wickedness more than righteousness, it would be nearly endless. Each of us can know in our own hearts what they are if we want to. Since suffering for Christ is going to be in our lives we might be wise to be sure we are suffering for what is righteousness and not for what is wickedness. “The righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.” Ezekiel 18:20b.

 

The Elephant in the Room Part 1

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18

Why Part 1?

Because, there is more than one in the room.

This elephant is called Suffering.

Yes, I know, not a favorite topic – but that is why it’s an elephant in the room. No one really wants to talk about suffering. No one wants to think about suffering. Acknowledging that suffering is part of our lives just seems well, not right.

It’s negative.

It’s a downer.

But, it’s real. It’s present in each of our lives in some way. If you are blessed to be in a place where specific suffering is not happening to you, it’s probably touching you through someone in your family or a close friend.

Suffering comes is many different packages.

  • Some is physical, some is emotional, and some is mental.
  • Some is afflicted, some in inherited, some we are born with.
  • Some is due to illnesses or injury.
  • Some is deserved and some not deserved.
  • Some we know and some we do not know.
  • Some surprises us and some we see coming from a distance.
  • Some we experience because we have too much and some because we do not have enough.

The truth is that humans will always deal with suffering and ignoring it does not make it go away.

A gathering of believers* where we worship and learn from God’s Word has been teaching about elephants in the room. These are issues and subjects we don’t like to talk about, especially in church, but really need to be addressed.

Recently the elephant was suffering and as part of the worship service our pastor asked a couple in our church to share the journey they have had with suffering. Byron has Alzheimer’s disease. It has been five years since he and Dot, his wife, first learned that “Old Al Zheimer” was going to be taking up residence in their lives. Talk about a big elephant in the room. It is a long story but it is a story about how suffering has not crushed them and in spite of all the normal reactions and emotions and challenges and difficulties and adjustments they have turned this time of suffering into an opportunity of ministry.
What they shared – especially Byron words which came with difficulty but by the grace of God, touched me deeply. They started a catalytic chain within me. From Byron and Dot, I have begun to learn that suffering can be okay, that they will be okay. It is such an  odd thing to say about an incurable disease but I have seen and heard how God can apply a salve to the suffering and give mercy and grace so that I can know as certainly as Byron does that God is with me and that it is good, He is good and it is okay.

The source of my suffering is major depressive disorder and general anxiety disorder. I am under the care of a doctor and most of the time, these illnesses are managed. Sometimes they rear their ugly head and try to create havoc. These are very real but poorly understood by most people.

My approach up until now has been to hope and pray for relief and release and look for the day when I am no longer afflicted. I have hoped for a long time that eventually I would be free from this affliction. That is a very frustrating way to cope. Not the hope and prayers – those are my lifeline, but hoping must be properly placed and expecting that this suffering is only for a season has given me a wishful hope that disappoints on a regular basis. I’ll go a season free from the effects and be thankful. Then I am t-boned and for no reason at all, my mood crashes, crushing my feeble hope. It just happens. Trying to discern the triggers is simple a different way to look for the same thing – release.

God gives hope that does not disappoint. He gives hope that is certain and fixed in His Word. His Word is that He is with us. He will never leave us. He will not forsake or desert us. He will provide and supply everything that we need according to His riches in Christ Jesus and according to will, He will give us what we ask for. That is what he has given me in Byron’s words. I am suffering – sometimes much and sometimes not so much – and I know that all the time, every day God is with me He holds me up with His righteous right hand. Surely he helps me. It’s okay. I will live with this as long as it is according to God’s will and if that is until I am with Him in heaven, then it’s okay. No, I will not always like it but I will always be loved and cared for by my Father who loves me and gave up his only begotten Son for me so that I can have new life through Him. I know there is a day when my body and mind will be reconciled with my spirit and made perfect. That is a hope that will not disappoint and that is a hope that is okay.

 

 

*The Longview Evangelical Presbyterian Church

Surely is Most Assuridly

‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10

When facing a serious challenge how confident can you be that God is there with you and that He is ready, willing, and able to help you?  Our challenges come at us at anytime from anywhere and most often without giving us the time we need to prepare for them. They come in a variety of severity. They may be financial, physical, mental, emotional, or a combination of any or all at one time.

The challenges that I face – well let us call them what they are, the trials and testing that I face tend to leave me in a state of disorder and I do just exactly what God has told me not to do, I spend a great amount of time anxiously looking about me trying to find our where it came from. I want to know and understand why – even though I have been instructed to no lean on my own understanding. I want to know what I can do to ease the pain or the confusion or the depression that sets in on me. Isaiah 41:10 is a verse that I look to every day,  every morning. I use it to remind myself of something I should never forget. I never need to fear because God is with me. He is my God and He promises to strengthen me according to His word.

God, however, knows me and the weaknesses and the limitations I have and so he underscores his promise with the word “surely” twice.  He will most assuredly help me after strengthening me. I have no cause, no reason to not believe that all the help I need to walk through this day will be there from God – even if I do not feel it, I know it is there. And, even more he stresses that he will assuredly uphold me with His righteous right hand. Wow! Why then do I doubt that my challenges are surmountable?  Why do I view my self as defeated when the Almighty God will strengthen me?

I know the truth even when I do not feel the truth. This world is in a downward spiral morally and spiritually and people who govern and people who influence policy have turned their back on God even though the still call out His name as if they know Him. Surely, God will help us, surely He will uphold us with His righteous right hand because he has said it. God cannot promise something that He will every fail to accomplish. The very nature of God is pure perfection according to His own will.

Today, I choose to believe that he will surely be all that I need and all that I need will be supplied according to His riches in Christ Jesus. No matter what is happening in the world or in my life or in my body, God is my strength and my song and He has become my salvation.

No, Not Your Understanding

“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 your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

We have been talking a lot about suffering because or for Christ. It comes in many ways and God is not shy about letting it come. Remember we have been appointed not only to believe in Him but to also suffer for him. Well, the suffering part has been my reality recently as I once again have had to face spiritual battle and attacks from the enemy in its effort to knock me down.


It is the “do not lean on your own understanding” part that really trips me up. I want to understand everything that is going on in my life – I do not want to leave any stone not turned. So when I get broadsided by the enemy, as has happened to me this week, I want to know why. I can hardly fault myself for this but it does get in the way. 


There are so many things that are not understood by me about my walk. There are also many things that I know to be true – promises from God for me that should and do bring me comfort but when I do not understand why the storm is so fierce.  Why? I ask. When I have been walking according to God’s will – to the best of my understanding. I need to walk according to God’s will as he gives it to me.  I need God’s understanding and when I recognize that, then I can acknowledge him. “Not my will but your will O Lord.”  You see, I also need to acknowledge that I have to face trials and tests and experience certain sufferings because it is the will of God that I do so and that he is with me and will never forsake me or desert me.


No, I cannot come up with a plan (path) that I present to the Father and say, “How about this idea, it is not want you seem to be suggesting but it might work, eh?”  My plan may make great sense to me and I may understand it and there may be nothing essentially bad about it except that it is my own understanding that cooked it up. It is not up to God, my Father to acknowledge my plan (path). It is up to me to acknowledge His and he makes mine straight for me. 


I use this verse from Proverbs 3 every day to remind myself that I just do not have the understanding that is necessary to find the right path. As I believe and trust in the Lord, the right path is made by God when I do not lean on my own understanding and acknowledge Him in all my ways.