Help in Trouble

Thursday, August 10, 2017, 2:32 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 46 (NASB).

God our Refuge (vv. 1-3)

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.

Life is full of changes. There are no guarantees that life, as we now know it, will continue. Our jobs could go away. Our spouses could die, or they could leave us for someone else. The stock market could crash, and we could experience another “Great Depression.” Our present form of government, as we understand it to be, could suddenly disappear, and in its place the beast (one world government) could rule supreme. Our houses could burn down to the ground. A hurricane could sweep our houses (or apartments) away, or so could a major earthquake or a tsunami. We could suddenly be struck very ill, or we could be involved in a serious automobile accident. Or, our nation could suddenly be attacked, once more, by a foreign nation (or entity).

Yet, in all of these things, and so much more, God is our refuge and strength to help us in times of trouble, if our hope and our trust is in him, and in his salvation. He is completely sovereign (in control) over all that he has made. He is all powerful, too. Nothing catches him by surprise, and there is not anything which he cannot handle. He will see us through any and all changes in our lives or in our circumstances. He may or may not remove us from our difficult situations, but he will give us the strength and courage we need to endure, to persevere, and to remain faithful to him in all things despite the difficulties we are experiencing in this present world of ours. So, we need to rest in him, trust in his grace, believe his promises, and carry on in Him.

Our Stronghold (vv. 4-7)

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.

When difficult times come our way, which they will, we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and not be frightened in any way by the waves of the sea crashing in all around us. God’s presence is with us. He will never leave us or forsake us if we are truly his by faith in Jesus Christ. His grace is sufficient to help us in times of need. And, not only that, but God allows difficulties to come into our lives to purify us, to prune us, to make us holy, to conform us into his likeness, to revive us, and to mature us in our walks of faith, as well as to correct and rebuke us, if we have gone astray, so that we will turn from our sinful rebellion to walking in his holiness and righteousness.

We don’t ever have to be afraid of anything. Nothing can happen to us in this life but what God allows it, and he allows it for a purpose, and he will see us through it to victory. He will provide all that we need, but not necessarily all that we think we need, or all that we want. Especially here in America we have this idea that we need so much, but we don’t. We can survive on very little, in reality. We don’t need much food, either. Restaurants have been notorious for serving large portions of food, and to one person, which could probably feed an entire family in another country. But, we don’t need a lot of food, and, in fact, it is unhealthy to eat so much.

What comes to mind right now are the lyrics to the song “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken” (by Henry F. Lyte):

Jesus, I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow Thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou, from hence, my all shalt be.
Perish every fond ambition, all I’ve sought, and hoped, and known;
Yet how rich is my condition, God and Christ are still my own!

Cease Striving (vv. 8-11)

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has wrought desolations in the earth.
He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariots with fire.
“Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.

Yet, it isn’t just that God allows troubles and hardships, but sometimes he is the one who brings them upon us. He is not only a God of mercy and grace, but he is a God of justice and righteousness. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, which is why he has delayed judgments, in many cases. Yet, he is a God who judges the people of the earth, too, and even his followers, and in order to bring those who have strayed from their pure devotion to him back to him as their Only Lord and Master. He warned of this in Revelation 2-3, among other passages of scripture. There he called his wandering saints (parts of his church) to repentance, and he warned of divine judgment if they did not repent.

God also judges nations and peoples who have come against his children, i.e. against those who have been born anew of the Spirit of God via death to sin and resurrection to new life in Christ Jesus, their Lord. I believe much or all of the world is already under the judgment of God. I know that America is, and that what our nation (our government) has done to other nations, it will be done to us. And, what our nation has done to their own people, and to God’s laws, and to demoralize our nation, and to dilute the gospel message of salvation, God will judge, too. Yet, he will do this to stop all the evil, and so that the gospel message will go out to the ends of the earth before he returns for his bride, so that many more will be saved.

So, we are not to be anxious or worried or fearful when these things take place, but we are to put our trust in the Lord, and believe that he will work all things together for good for those who love him; for those who have been called according to his purpose. Instead of letting life’s difficulties get us down, we must recognize who God is, that he is God, and that he will be exalted (praised, revered) in the earth, and among the nations. He is still with us, he has not deserted us, and he is our stronghold. He will see us through to the end, and he will accomplish his purposes in all of our lives.

Have Thine Own Way, Lord
Adelaide A. Pollard / George C. Stebbins

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!

Take up The Shield

Wednesday, August 2, 2017, 7:21 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Courageous.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 62 (select vv. NASB).

Jeremiah 17:9 says this:

“The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?”

When we come into this world, we are born with sin natures. We are fleshly. We are under the control (power) of Satan, slaves to sin. Our human hearts are easily deceived and are given over to deceiving, as well. We come up short of attaining God’s divine approval, because we can’t save ourselves. We can never be good enough. In and of ourselves, our hearts are incurable. So, that is why Jesus Christ died on a cross for our sins so that we might be turned from darkness (sin, wickedness) to light (truth, righteousness), and from the power of Satan to God, that we might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who, by faith in Jesus Christ, are sanctified.

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. But, this does not mean we are no longer capable of sin. We are. Yet, if we are in Christ, by faith in him, sin should no longer have dominion over our lives, because Satan has no power over us. Jesus Christ set us free! So, we should walk in freedom! Yet, if we continue in willful sin, i.e. if we make it our practice to sin against God, the Bible says we will die in our sins, not have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven. So, it is possible to think you are saved and going to heaven but still be dead in your sins.

Blessing and Cursing (vv. 3-4)

How long will you assail a man,
That you may murder him, all of you,
Like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence?
They have counseled only to thrust him down
from his high position;
They delight in falsehood;
They bless with their mouth,
But inwardly they curse. Selah.

So, for those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of their lives, but who have drifted away from their pure devotion to Christ, and have fallen back into sin, or for those who profess to know Christ, but who are living sinful lifestyles, or for those who have never claimed to believe in Jesus Christ at all, these questions are posed.

How long will you continue in sinful rebellion against God? How long will you continue to hate one another, and attack one another? How long will you accuse falsely and persecute those who are following Jesus Christ with their lives, or will you try to trip them up in order to bring them down with you? When will you stop being deceived and deceiving others with your lies? When will you cease speaking kindly to people only to their faces, but then stab them in the back when they are not in front of your face?

For God Only (vv. 5-8)

My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah.

Our only hope for overcoming sin is faith in Jesus Christ, but that faith must be accompanied by repentance and obedience to Christ and his commands. To merely acknowledge what Jesus did for us in dying for our sins, but to never turn away from the sin, nor to turn to God to walk in his ways, will not result in eternal life with God, but only a fearful expectation of judgment.

Jesus/God needs to be our only hope. He needs to be the one we give our full allegiance to with all our hearts. Humans are going to disappoint us, reject us, persecute us, falsely accuse us, betray us and maybe even kill us, just because they don’t like us, because we are not like them. Humans will lie to us, too, so we need to be very discerning so that we don’t become deceived, too. We need to pray and ask the Lord for wisdom to recognize the lies so we can reject them, and to know the truth, so we can follow it.

When we are persecuted, because we trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives, and because we follow him in obedience to his will, we need to rely on the strength of the Lord so that we are not shaken from our faith and give way to fear. People will attack us. They will hate us. They will try to bring us down, and they will lie to us and will try to deceive us. And, they will speak kindly to us to our faces all the while they are stabbing us in the back when we aren’t looking. Although they act like they are our friends, they may betray us. So, this is why our hope needs to be in the Lord, and we need to find our strength in him so we don’t cave in and lose heart.

So, we need to pour out our hearts to him. It isn’t as though he doesn’t know what we are going through, though, but he wants us to cry out to him in our distress, in our pain, in our sorrow and in our weakness, and he desires that we let him heal us, comfort us, encourage us and counsel us in the way we should go.

We need to keep trusting him, even if all hell breaks loose all around us. For, he is completely sovereign (in control) over all that he has made. And, he has a plan and a purpose for everything he allows into our lives. And, he will work all things together for good for those who love him, and who have been called according to his purpose. So, take refuge in him, be of courage, be strong in the Lord, and persevere in your faith.

Courageous! / An Original Work / December 24, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures

The Word of God throughout taught.
Some people heard, but did doubt.
Still others had faith in Christ.
By grace He purified them.

They turned from sin
And they obeyed Christ.
He opened up their blinded eyesight;
Turned them from darkness
To the true Light;
Forgave their sin by His might.

He strengthened them in their faith.
He said, “Remain my faithful.”
He called them to obedience.
By faith, they were so grateful.

By faith, they were to follow Jesus;
To daily sit and listen to Him;
To have such faith
That mountains could move;
To love those whom He gave them.

Be on your guard; courageous.
Stand firm in faith. Be thankful.
Take up the shield of your faith;
Protect against all evil.

Do not move from
The hope that you have.
Your faith in Jesus let it endure.
Hold to the truth;
Your conscience be clear.
Endure with perseverance.

Trust and Rest

Wednesday, July 5, 2017, 9:03 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Believe Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read select vv. (in the ESV) on the subject of “rest.”

Our Rest (Mk. 14:40-42)

And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

Rest can be good, and it can be bad. In today’s culture here in America it is believed and propagandized that we need rest, relaxation and recreation whenever our work day has ended. Probably the average American puts in a 40-hour work week, some less and some more. Some people are workaholics and would do well to take time to relax and rest some, while others do as little work as possible and think they are entitled to live in leisure the rest of their lives. A parent of small children usually doesn’t get much rest, unless her/his children are asleep, and even then they are probably doing laundry or dishes, etc. Yet, too many people in our culture are obsessed with relaxation and recreation, and they have this sense that they must continuously be entertained or be entertaining to others.

It is reasonable that we should be able to sleep when we get tired, but we can’t always do that. Sometimes our jobs demand much of us, or our families, or the Lord has work for us to do that might involve losing some sleep here and there. If the Lord has work for us to do, even if it is in the middle of the night, we should do what he has called us to do, even if it means losing a little bit of sleep now and then, for the Lord can sustain us, and he can give us the strength to endure and to persevere even when we are tired. I have seen him do this in my life over and over again. So, sleep, rest, relaxation and recreation should not be our central focus, or our entitlement, but we should submit to our Lord in all that we do, trust him, rest in him, do what he says, and believe him to give us all we need.

No Rest (2 Co. 7:5-6)

For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us…

Sometimes, when serving the Lord, there may be times when we are going through much hardship, persecution, opposition, and affliction, and we won’t get the sleep our bodies require, or that we think we need to keep going. But God knows all that. And, he is quite capable of seeing us through it all. He is still absolutely sovereign (in control) over all things, and he allow what he allows in our lives for his purposes and for his glory in our lives. And, sometimes we may get physical rest, but our minds and hearts will be troubled by what we are having to endure, and they will need rest, as well. So, the Lord comforts us with his love and grace, and with his compassion and mercy, and he encourages our hearts, and he strengthens us with his mighty power. I often pray for him to help me, especially when my body is tired or when my emotions are weak, and he never fails me. Not once!

His Rest (2 Co. 12:8-10; Matt. 11:28-29)

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Sometimes the enemy’s opposition against us is so strong that we plead with the Lord to remove it from us. Yet, sometimes we need this opposition to make us stronger and more determined to follow our Lord in obedience, and to keep us humble so that we don’t take credit for what God is doing in and through us, as though we somehow did it ourselves. Also, when we go through difficulties, persecutions, and rejections, and we face much opposition, because we are serving the Lord, and doing what he says, it teaches us not to rely on ourselves, but on God. God’s grace is totally sufficient to see us through any and every situation we may encounter. We just have to learn to trust him in it all, and rest in HIM, and in his strength and power, and not in our own resources or strength. And, then we are strengthened in spirit, heart, mind, emotion and in body, too.

God’s rest is not like our rest. God’s rest is inner peace, strength, comfort, joy, and fulfillment even in hard times, difficulties, times of sorrow and pain, and even in sleepless nights, and labor for the Lord and for his gospel, etc. So, in all things, we need to trust him, rest in him, obey him, walk in his love, and let him meet all our needs and comfort us with his love and grace.

Believe Him / An Original Work / July 15, 2013

My heart cries: Lord, won’t You hear me
Seeking You for the answers
To my heartache and questions
I have concerning my life?
Speak, Lord, to me right now.

“Oh, dear one, why don’t you trust Me
With your life’s circumstances?
Give your all on the altar
In submission of your will
To My purpose for you.

“Surrender your life completely
To your Lord and your Savior.
He has all things planned for you
For His glory and honor.
He’ll work all things for good.

“Believe Him. He will fulfill all
Of His promises to you
For your life and your future.
Trust Him. Rest in His love.
He’ll give you peace from above.”

Strength to Help

Sunday, June 25, 2017, 7:15 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “You are Loving and Forgiving.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 86 (Select vv. NIV).

Forgiving and Good (vv. 5-7)

You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
abounding in love to all who call to you.
Hear my prayer, Lord;
listen to my cry for mercy.
When I am in distress, I call to you,
because you answer me.

Our God is a loving and forgiving God to all who call on him in truth.

The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them.
The Lord watches over all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy. Ps. 145:18-20

If we are seeking God’s forgiveness of our sins, we must understand that calling to him means doing so in truth (faithfulness), with no deceit found in our mouths. It also means that we fear him, i.e. that we reverence, respect, and honor him in our request for forgiveness, and with our lives (conduct). And, it entails that we love him, and to love him is to obey him. So, to call on God is no light matter, or something we do casually just to relieve guilt from our minds. God’s forgiveness of our sins is conditional to our repentance, i.e. to us leaving our lives of sin behind us and us now following Christ with our lives. It means we have been turned from darkness (sin) to the light (truth, righteousness, Jesus Christ), and from the power Satan had over our lives to God, to walk with him in his ways, and in his truth (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Acts 26:16-18).

Teach Me Your Way (vv. 11-13)

Teach me your way, Lord,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths,
from the realm of the dead.

The goal of God’s forgiveness of our sins and of our salvation is not just to deliver us from hell and to give us the hope of eternity with God in glory. God’s goal in saving us from our sins is to eradicate sin from our lives so that we no longer walk (in lifestyle) according to the flesh, but that we walk (conduct our lives) according to the Spirit, in the ways of God. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. His grace to us is not carte blanche (free rein) to continue in willful sin against God while claiming heaven as our eternal home. His grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Tit. 2:11-14).

So, when we come to genuine faith in Jesus Christ, and our sins are forgiven, our hearts should, thus, long to have our Lord teach us his ways so that we can walk in them. Our desire should be for God, his truth and his ways. We should not be numbered among those who look to God’s grace as merely an escape from hell and the hope of heaven, but who teach we don’t have to repent, obey or submit to our Lord, and that God is pleased with us no matter what we do. That is a slap in the face to Jesus Christ who died that horrible death, and who took all our sins upon himself in order to deliver us out of slavery to sin, not give us free rein to continue in it without guilt or remorse. In other words, we are not saved from our sins so we can straddle a fence between righteousness and wickedness, with one foot in the world while the other is in God’s kingdom.

If we are truly born again of the Spirit of God, and we have been turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, we should want our Lord to teach us His Ways so that we can walk in them (in how we live our lives), not try to worm our way out of them. We should also desire truly to have undivided hearts which are not trying to live in two opposing worlds at the same time, and we should willingly remove from our lives all that is worldly and is opposed to righteousness and holiness. We should pray in all sincerity, and ask the Lord to show us anything in our lives which is displeasing to him or which stands opposed to his righteousness, and then, in obedience, love, and in surrender to our Lord, we should get rid of all that stands in the way and which hinders our walking in the ways of God. Our lives, thus, should result in praise to God for his deliverance from sin.

Arrogant Foes Attacking (vv. 14-17)

Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God;
ruthless people are trying to kill me—
they have no regard for you.
But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
Turn to me and have mercy on me;
show your strength in behalf of your servant;
save me, because I serve you
just as my mother did.
Give me a sign of your goodness,
that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

When we truly walk in the ways of the Lord, with undivided hearts, and we are committed to his righteousness and holiness, and we rid our lives from all which hinders our walks of faith, so that we can walk in his holiness, we will be opposed. People will not like us. Even others who profess faith in Jesus Christ will despise and reject us. They may call us self-righteous, holy rollers, goody-goodies, and religious extremists, and the like. And, it is because our lifestyles are an offense to theirs, and because we teach holiness and walking righteously before God. And, holiness means we live separate (unlike, different) from the world of sin, because we are being made into the image of Christ. This is not to say that we will be absolutely perfect, but that our lives are committed to obeying our Lord and to walking in his ways and in his truth, and that we do so as the practice of our lives.

So, when we are opposed, and we are treated unfairly and with disdain, and just because people don’t like what we believe or how we choose to live, we need to call on our Lord, lean on him, trust in his sovereignty and grace, rest in his love, and keep on living for him and doing what he says. We need to pray for our enemies, do good to them, and speak kindly to them, but also speak the truth in love, for that is the kindest speaking we can do. We need, too, to pray for wisdom in knowing how to respond to unfair and harmful treatment with grace, but also in truth. And, we need to trust in the strength of the Lord to get us through difficult times, and to show himself through our circumstances and through our lives as a testimony for him as to his grace.

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea…
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Psalm 46:1-2, 7

You are Loving and Forgiving
An Original Work / February 19, 2012

Based off Psalm 86

You are loving and forgiving,
Jesus, Savior, King of kings.
You provided our redemption.
By Your blood You set us free.
You are gracious; full of mercy.
No deeds can compare with Yours.
Great are You; there is none like You.
Glory be to Your name.

Teach me Your way, and I’ll walk in it.
O Lord, I will walk in Your truth.
May I not have a heart divided,
That Your name I give honor to.
I will praise You, O Lord, my Savior,
For great is Your love toward me.
You have delivered me from my sins.
Your grace has pardoned me.

You, O Lord, are full of compassion,
Slow to anger, bounteous in love;
Faithful to fulfill all You promise;
Glory be to Your name above.
Hear, O Lord, and answer Your servant.
You are my God. I trust in You.
Turn to me and grant Your strength to me.
You are my comforter.

Testing Your Faith

Sunday, June 4, 2017, 8:15 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “When Pretty Things Get Broken.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read James 1 (select vv. ESV).

Various Trials (vv. 2-4)

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

What is joy? Joy is “grace recognized,” i.e. “the awareness of God’s grace, his favor” (biblehub.com). Jesus, for the joy set before him, “endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). What was the joy set before him? His grace, which he was to extend to all the world via his death on a cross for our sins, and via his resurrection from the dead. It was the knowledge that his death and resurrection would mean life everlasting, and freedom from slavery to sin, to everyone who trusted in him as Lord, and as Savior of their lives.

So, can we be joyful and sad at the same time? Yes, I believe we can, because joy is not dependent on our circumstances. It is not conditional to our human emotions. Even in times of severe trial and great sadness, we can prayerfully and thankfully be appreciative of God’s grace to us, in its various forms, calling on him to help us in our time of need, even with tears streaming down our cheeks. And, that can be joy, because it focuses on Jesus, who is our compassionate and merciful high priest. So, we should “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Heb. 12:3). We need to just rest in him.

Yet, what does it mean to count it all joy when we go through trials? It means to recognize God’s grace in our lives, i.e. that he is doing things in and through us way beyond what we could even imagine. It means trusting in his sovereignty over our lives, believing that, “in all things, he works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Ro. 8:28). Yet, “good” is not necessarily what we want or desire, but it is what God knows is best for us, i.e. what we truly need for us to mature in our faith, and to have steadfastness (persistence) of spirit, and for us to be Christ-like in heart, mind, attitude, faith, word and in action. So, we need to believe him, submit to his Lordship over our lives, and trust him to work it all out according to his plans and purposes, and for his glory.

Need Wisdom? (vv. 5-8)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

When we go through difficulties and trials, we definitely need wisdom to know how to respond with grace, and to not let our circumstances or what others do or say to “ruffle our feathers,” i.e. “to cause confusion, agitation, irritation or annoyance” (yourdictionary.com). There are probably always going to be people in our lives who will try to “get our goat,” i.e. who will attempt to irritate us. But, we can’t let them. We need to rise above these situations, by the grace of God, and by exercising godly wisdom. We must put on the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20), as well, in order to fight off the temptation to give way to our circumstances and to not trust our Lord.

Yet, when we pray for wisdom to know how to respond with grace and godliness to difficult trials, and to people who want nothing more than to trip us up, and God shows us what to do, then we need to apply to our lives what he shows us, otherwise it was pointless to even ask him.

Remain Steadfast (vv. 12-15)

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Some days are better than others. Some days we feel stronger, and other days we feel weak emotionally or physically, and it is more difficult during those times when the trials come. Yet, we don’t endure and persevere in our own strength or willpower. The steadfastness of spirit doesn’t come from within our own flesh. It is supernatural. And, it comes as we yield to our God, cry out to him in our suffering, and trust him to work in and through our lives for his purposes and for his glory. It comes when we learn to rest in him, and we don’t feel like we have to make things happen ourselves, and when we lean on him for understanding and trust in him for his strength.

When we are tempted to give in, give up, blow up, or clam up, that doesn’t come from God. Now, there will be times when God will tell us to be silent, but that will not be all the time, for he has given us mouths to sing his praises, to proclaim his excellencies, to share his gospel, and to call people to repentance and to faith in Jesus Christ. It is Satan who wants to silence us, and to get us to give up, and to yield to pressure to compromise our faith so that people will like us, and so we won’t face persecution. Yet, Jesus said if we are ashamed of him and his gospel, he will be ashamed of us (Mk. 8:38). The devil will also send people along in our lives to try to trip us up, and to try to get us to blow it. We can’t give in to them for a second!

Yet, the devil is not the only force in our lives which tempts us to sin against God. We can be lured and enticed by our own sinful desires. For example, we may be tempted to compromise our faith, or to not speak to people about Jesus, or to dilute the gospel, because we want to be liked by others, and not hated. And, when the Spirit within us prompts us that we need to speak, and not keep silent, or he impresses on our hearts that we need to say something to someone, and we know we will be hated and rejected, we may be tempted to rationalize our way out of it. This is because we know it will mean, not only that this particular person is going to now reject us, but that they are probably going to convince many others to hate us, too. Yet, we have to obey God, even if it costs us our reputations or our very lives.

When Pretty Things Get Broken
By Joni Eareckson Tada

I have a piece of China, a pretty porcelain vase –
It holds such lovely flowers; captures everybody’s gaze.
But fragile things do slip and fall, as everybody knows.
And when my vase came crashing down, those tears began to flow.

My life was just like China, a lovely thing to me;
Full of porcelain promises of all that I might be.
But fragile things do slip and fall, as everybody knows.
And when my life came crashing down, those tears began to flow.

Now Jesus is no porcelain Prince. His promises won’t break.
His holy word holds fast and sure. His love, no one can shake.
So, if your life is shattered by sorrow, pain, or sin –
His healing love will reach right down and make you whole again.

Now don’t we all cry when pretty things get broken?
Don’t we all sigh at such an awful loss?
But Jesus will dry your tears, as He has spoken;
‘Cause He was the one broken on the cross.

https://www.joniandfriends.org/media/uploads/downloads/when_pretty_things_get_broken.pdf

Our Loved Ones

Wednesday, May 10, 2017, 5:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Be Strong and Take Courage.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 31:15-22a (NASB).

Bitter Weeping (v. 15)

Thus says the Lord,
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
Lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
She refuses to be comforted for her children,
Because they are no more.”

Do you have loved ones who do not know the Lord Jesus as Savior of their lives? Do you have people you care about in your life who profess to believe in Jesus Christ, but their lifestyles speak just the opposite? And, or do you have friends, neighbors or family members who have believed in Jesus Christ, who once walked with him in sweet fellowship, but have since fallen back into some of their old sinful patterns of behavior? If you do, there is still hope they will turn around, and will come to their senses, and will repent of their sins and trust Jesus, so we should never give up praying for them.

Do you, as well, have a burden for the part of the church, the body of Christ, who is living in spiritual adultery against her Lord, who is fleshly, sensual, worldly, and idolatrous; who is following after human desire instead of after the Lord? She partnered with the US government in an unholy alliance, which God forbids, and she turned the Lord’s house into a marketplace, which Jesus spoke strongly against (That is why he cleansed the temple). She incorporated the body of Christ and turned the church into a business of men, and she is marketing it just like any other business, and thus bases a lot of what she does after human desire, rather than after what God desires.

She gives honor to the government via a pledge (vow) of allegiance (fidelity) to the republic of the USA, via the singing of patriotic songs, and via the honoring of our soldiers who are fighting in all these other countries, and by trusting in the news media and believing their stories, without even testing to see if they are true. And, she gives honor to the world by making the church and the gospel more attractive and appealing so that the world will want to come to the meetings of the church. So, she entertains the world, and makes the church fun, comfortable, and non-threatening, as well as she dilutes the gospel to where it is no longer a narrow road but a broad path that just about anyone can travel, regardless of lifestyle or other beliefs.

And, yet she pushes God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – into a corner, and she does not give him the honor, respect, value, submission, obedience and reverence he so deserves. This Sunday we honor our earthly mothers who birthed us, but so many who call themselves Christians do not truly honor the ONE who gave them the breath of life, as well as who gave them eternal life. They do not honor the ONE who died on the cross for our sins, and who gave his life up for us to free us from the punishment of sin, and from slavery to sin, and to free us to now walk in his righteousness and holiness. Instead, they teach a gospel absent of death to sin and walking in righteousness. They teach a gospel which requires no repentance, obedience or submission to Christ, and they think it is ok for them to live in sensuality and to indulge in the flesh, and yet still claim heaven as their eternal home.

Because this fleshly, sensual and worldly church has pushed God into a corner, and has pretty much all but pushed the Holy Spirit out the door, she also rejects the Lord’s servants who do still hold to the tenets of the faith as taught by Jesus, and by his NT apostles. Even her leaders are being trained in how to “sift out” certain people with “strong convictions,” and in how to encourage them to “go someplace else” where they will be a “better fit.” And, many of them are even coming against the Lord’s servants by accusing them of teaching “works-based salvation,” even though they teach what Jesus and his NT apostles taught. Some even go so far as to accuse the Lord’s servants and messengers of hatred, bigotry, and intolerance, and may even refer to them as “dangerous,” too, because they preach the gospel.

This worldly and sensual church may not realize it, but they are under the influence (spell) of Satan and his many false shepherds (wolves in sheep’s clothing), who have deceived naïve minds into believing lies, rather than truth. They are being held emotionally and spiritually captive by clever manipulators of truth who say what itching ears want to hear. These false shepherds have convinced much of the church to unify with them in their marketing goals and objectives for the church, thinking they are obeying God, since the Bible says much about unity, although it is unity with Christ first of all, which then is what unifies us together as the body of Christ. They are convincing many of them to be like-minded with these “dogs” in ridding themselves of all which divides us as a nation, so that we can join hands and hearts with all the people of the world in singing “Kumbaya.”

In some places of the world, our government is even literally taking Christians captive, and is rounding them up like cattle, and is placing them in camps with horrible conditions where many of them will die off, if they are not killed first by all the bombs our nation drops on them. I believe this is coming to America, too, because this is all part of this New World Order beast conquering nations, peoples and the saints of God (See: Rev. 13). And, this should bring us to tears – all of this! We should grieve over the spiritual condition of much of today’s church here in America, and over what our nation (the USA) is doing to innocent people throughout the world, in the name of democracy, and we should lament over all the Christians who are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ throughout the world.

Work Rewarded (vv. 16-20)

Thus says the Lord,

“Restrain your voice from weeping
And your eyes from tears;
For your work will be rewarded,” declares the Lord,
“And they will return from the land of the enemy.
“There is hope for your future,” declares the Lord,
“And your children will return to their own territory.
“I have surely heard Ephraim grieving,
‘You have chastised me, and I was chastised,
Like an untrained calf;
Bring me back that I may be restored,
For You are the Lord my God.
‘For after I turned back, I repented;
And after I was instructed, I smote on my thigh;
I was ashamed and also humiliated
Because I bore the reproach of my youth.’
“Is Ephraim My dear son?
Is he a delightful child?
Indeed, as often as I have spoken against him,
I certainly still remember him;
Therefore My heart yearns for him;
I will surely have mercy on him,” declares the Lord.

The encouragement here, I believe, is not that we should show no concern. We should (1 Co. 5:1-2; Jas. 4:8-10; Lu. 6:21). But, the encouragement is rather that we should not feel without hope. We should not be so caught up in lamenting over our loved ones, or over the worldly church, or over the persecution much of the church worldwide is enduring, that we forget that God is absolutely sovereign, that he is in control over all things, and that he cares about his children, too. We need to believe that our labors of love in the Lord, and our service in ministry, and in sharing the truths of the gospel of our salvation, and our prayers for the church and for our loved ones will be rewarded. We need to believe God for the salvation of loved ones, for the revival of the church, and for the strengthening of his persecuted saints.

What may look bad, from a human perspective, may be a blessing in disguise. I believe God will chastise his wandering saints who have been duped by master deceivers and manipulators, and in order to open their eyes to the truth, and so they will repent of their sins and turn their hearts back to God and truly honor him with their lives. Yet, this, too, is God’s grace to us. It is called “tough love,” and its goal is to bring his wandering ones back into pure fellowship with him, and also to get us ready for his return and for the consummation of our marriage to Jesus Christ, our husband. It is to purify us in heart and mind, and to restore them to God. God’s heart yearns for his wandering ones to return to him, for he loves his children, and so he will have mercy on them, but the mercy will come in the form of divine discipline and correction, but the results will be for our good.

Direct Your Mind (vv. 21-22a)

“Set up for yourself roadmarks,
Place for yourself guideposts;
Direct your mind to the highway,
The way by which you went.
Return, O virgin of Israel,
Return to these your cities.
“How long will you go here and there,
O faithless daughter?”

So, the counsel here for us is to turn our thinking (our minds) toward the way of holiness and righteousness, i.e. the way of the cross of Christ. We, as the people of God, need to get our minds away from the things of this world and its values, philosophies, attitudes and behaviors, and we need to fix our thoughts firmly on Jesus Christ and on his Word (the whole counsel of God). I believe God is also calling the body of Christ to come out from underneath this unholy union with the US government (here in America), and to return to Jesus as her ONLY Lord (head). I believe he wants her to also forsake following the schemes of humans for how to conduct church meetings, and to put her focus back on Christ and on the purity of his Word (his truth).

As well, I believe that we, as the body of Christ, need to get away from this diluted gospel which so many are following, and we need to read scriptures in context so we can see what the gospel is that Jesus and his NT apostles taught, rather than putting our trust in humans to tell us the truth. We need to know that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, and that faith in Jesus Christ means we now walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit, and no longer according to our flesh, for if we live according to the flesh, it will result in eternal death, not life (1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 8:1-14).

Be Strong and Take Courage / Don Moen

Be strong and take courage
Do not fear or be dismayed
For the Lord will go before you
And His light will show the way

Why don’t you give him all of your fears?
Why don’t you let him wipe all of your tears?
He knows, He’s been through pain before
And He knows all that you’ve been looking for

Stand and Obey

Sunday, May 7, 2017, 8:08 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Be Strong and Take Courage.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Acts 5:17-33 (Select vv. NIV).

Go, Stand! (vv. 17-20)

Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”

In this world we are going to have trials, tribulation and persecutions. We will face opposition from the enemy, and from those who have fallen under his deception; under his spell. Some of these enemies have infiltrated the church, and some are even the pastors, elders, deacons or otherwise spiritual leaders within the church. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing, or else they are the naïve who have been duped by a clever adversary.

Today’s modern church movement has brought worldliness into the church as a way to market the church to the world. So, they entertain the world rather than proclaim God’s plan of salvation from bondage to sin; rather than make calls for repentance – turning from sin to Christ and to his righteousness. In fact, many of them teach God requires no repentance, no submission to Christ and to his cross, and no obedience to God. They teach a grace, instead, which gives free license to lasciviousness (immorality/sin).

Because of this, many of these churches have embraced ecumenicalism or even syncretism, i.e. the blending or merging of different religions and beliefs. Their bible, in practice, rather than being the word of God, has often become marketing books on how to grow their churches (businesses). And, many of these leaders and their followers are followers of humans, rather than followers of God. Thus, the Holy Spirit has been pushed out of many of these churches, because he does not fit with their marketing plans.

Thus, many of these church leaders are being trained in how to choose their targeted audience, and in how to discourage participation from those with “strong convictions,” i.e. from those who still teach the gospel as Jesus and his NT apostles taught it. They don’t want to offend the world with the true gospel, so they create one which is less offensive and more acceptable to the world. And, for many of them, the gospel has been reduced to “good deed doing” rather than confronting sin, warning of judgment, calling for repentance, and promising the hope of eternal life with God for the repentant and the obedient (to Christ and to his commands).

Because of this, many Christians who are following Jesus Christ with their lives, who are living separated lives from the world, who still hold to the tenets of the Christian faith and practice, as taught in scripture, and who stand on the Word of God, and on his gospel message, are being persecuted, even within the worldly church. Some of them, I am sure, are being told to “go someplace else” where they will be a “better fit,” because many of these pastors are saying this, so this is their training. And, not only that, but Christ’s followers are being accused of teaching works-based salvation, even though they are teaching what Jesus and his NT apostles taught. And, beyond that, they are also being accused wrongfully of being hateful, bigoted, intolerant, judgmental, unkind, and even dangerous.

Yet, the Lord Jesus is saying to his persecuted saints to “Go, stand on the Word of Truth, and tell the people about this new life in Christ Jesus.” We are to tell them that Jesus didn’t die just so they could be rescued from hell and have the hope of heaven when they die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us; and that we might no longer walk (in lifestyle) according to our sinful flesh, but according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. His grace is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Ro. 8:1-14; Tit. 2:11-14; cf. Lu. 9:23-25).

Obey God! (vv. 25-33)

Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.

The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death.

When we obey God, and we do what he tells us to do, according to (in agreement with) the teachings and biblical principles of scripture, there are going to be people who will not like us, who will object to what we are doing, and who may even kick us to the curb. Some of these may be pastors. Some may be elders in churches. Some may even be moderators or owners of Christian websites. As well, they may also be government enforcers whose job it is to stop the gospel of Jesus Christ from spreading further, so they may clamp down on what can be said on the internet or in person with people. They may even declare it to be a hate crime to confront sin in sinful humans, to tell them that faith in Jesus Christ is the only path to God and to heaven, and to warn of judgment and to call for repentance.

In the Western World, in particular, it is not the name of Jesus that is an offense, for many make Jesus out to be whatever fits with their lifestyles. What is an offense is the cross of Christ, but not just that he gave his life up for us on the cross, but that he requires that we die with him in death to sin and that we are resurrected with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness, and in order for us to have eternal life with God (See: Eph. 4:17-24; cf. Ro. 6:1-23; Lu. 9:23-25). For, this is what it means to be born again; to be born anew of the Spirit of God.

Yet, when we face opposition to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and even if we are commanded to stop teaching the whole counsel of God, and if we are instructed to take it down a notch, i.e. to remove the offense of the cross, we must obey God rather than men. Always God’s Word trumps! Yes, we are told in scripture to obey our leaders, but NOT if they are commanding us to disobey God, to deny our Lord, and to stop preaching the truth. We need to be men and women of God who stand strong on the Word, who do not compromise with the world of sin, and who do not dilute the gospel message either to be liked by people or out of fear of what humans might do to us.

So, keep on keeping on. Don’t give up. Don’t let discouragement set in, either. God has a plan and a purpose for it all. He is still sovereign over all he has made, and he is still in control over all things. Trust him! Do what he says, and leave the results to him. His word will never return empty, but will accomplish what he desires and achieve the purpose for which he sent it.

Be Strong and Take Courage / Don Moen

Be strong and take courage
Do not fear or be dismayed
For the Lord will go before you
And His light will show the way

Why don’t you give him all of your fears?
Why don’t you let him wipe all of your tears?
He knows, He’s been through pain before
And He knows all that you’ve been looking for.