Posted by: glorifyhim1 | June 6, 2018

My Resting Place

My Resting Place

“I am at rest in God alone.”

(Psalm 62:1a)

 

I have a few places that quickly come to mind when I think I really need to get away to get some rest, to relax and get recharged. No matter how beautiful or restful a place may be, however, sometimes rest – true, peaceful rest – is hard to find. We may be tired from a hard day’s work, or perhaps we are weary from a heavy load we’ve carried far too long. Yet even in our weariness, we may be unable to discover true rest. How do we come to a place of true rest when we are weary, anxious, discouraged and spent?

 

Recently, I was reading in Mark 6 about a time when the disciples of Jesus were surely weary.

 

Jesus had sent the disciples on a mission – to preach repentance, to cast out demons, to anoint and heal the sick. As they worked, they heard the news that King Herod had sent an executioner to behead John the Baptist who was in prison. The disciples went to the prison, took John’s body, and placed it in a tomb. Then they gathered with Jesus to tell him about their journey and all that they had done.

 

Don’t you know they were tired? They were surely tired from their journey and work, but as they struggled with the death of John the Baptist, they were probably also emotionally spent. What did Jesus say to the disciples? “He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.’ For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat” (Mark 6:31). Jesus called them away to a quiet place – to rest awhile.

 

However, by the time the disciples arrived at the quiet place, it was no longer deserted. Many people, knowing Jesus, ran ahead on foot and arrived ahead of them. When Jesus saw the people, He was moved with compassion and began to teach them. The text does not tell us what the disciples did while Jesus taught, but as it began to get late, they said to Jesus: “This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late. Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat” (Mark 6:35-36). But Jesus told His disciples to feed them. The disciples responded in disbelief. How could they feed so many people? Jesus told them to find out how much food they had which was a young boy’s lunch of five loaves and two fish. Jesus blessed the food, broke it into pieces, and gave it to the disciples to distribute to the people. Not only did everyone eat and were filled, but there were 12 baskets left over! Could it be one basket for each disciple who was tired, hungry, and emotionally spent?  

 

Once again, Jesus sent the disciples away in a boat to the other side of Bethsaida, while He sent the crowds away. When the disciples were in the middle of the sea, Jesus could see them struggling to row the boat because of the wind. Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. At first the disciples were frightened, thinking they had seen a ghost, but Jesus called to them: “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid” (Mark 6:50b). He got into the boat with the disciples and the winds ceased.

 

As I thought about these events, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the disciples. It seemed that ability to truly rest just kept on escaping them. Yet, it occurred to me that in each situation, the disciples found what they needed in Jesus. Perhaps their rest did not come the way they expected. Yet Jesus helped them find their rest in Him.  

 

  • Jesus saw their need. The disciples needed rest, encouragement, and strength.  
  • Jesus helped the disciples see Him and what He could do. They brought him the meager lunch they had and Jesus multiplied it to supply food for the hungry crowd and the worn out disciples. Was anything too hard for Him?
  • Jesus revealed His control over His creation – He walked on the angry sea and He calmed the wind and waves. And the disciples “were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled” (Mark 6:51b).

 

And, ultimately, Jesus showed His disciples and us as well, that He, Himself, is our rest and peace no matter what difficulty or storm that we may face. He fully knows our need; He can meet our need; He is in control! We can rest in Him, His mercy and grace, and His faithfulness to us.

 

Just as the disciples did not clearly understand, we do not always fully comprehend either. Sometimes, we cannot make sense of  the circumstances or situations in which we find ourselves. We may not really know what we need or the answer to our problems, but nothing is too hard for Jesus. We can discover rest for our souls even in the midst of chaos and confusion when we keep our eyes on our Savior and place our trust in Him. Jesus invites us to come to Him and to find the rest for our souls that we all so desperately need. He is my true resting place, the One in whom I can always take refuge. He can be your resting place, too!   

 

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

(Matthews 11:28-29)

 

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Posted by: glorifyhim1 | May 19, 2018

The One Who Changes Me

The One Who Changes Me

 

“Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.”

(Psalm 61:1-4)

 

Recently, during my devotions I read the story of Zacchaeus, the tax collector who, short of stature, climbed a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus. You can read this story in Luke 19:1-10. I have read this story countless times, animatedly told it to preschoolers, and sung songs with them about the “wee” little man. Yet I’m not sure that I was prepared for the question that God placed on my heart during my devotional time – What are you willing to do to be closer to Jesus?

 

Is there something I need to give up?

 

Is there something I need to do?

 

Is there an attitude that needs an adjustment?

 

What am I willing to do to be closer to Jesus? What are you willing to do?

 

Zacchaeus eagerly sought to get close to Jesus as he climbed up the sycamore tree to watch Jesus pass by. When Jesus told Zacchaeus he needed to go to his house, Zacchaeus gladly welcomed Him. However, as Zacchaeus got close to Jesus, we discover that not only did he welcome Jesus into his home, but he also welcomed Jesus into his heart. Getting close to Jesus made a change in Zacchaeus. “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold” (v.8). Zacchaeus willingly gave half of his goods to the poor and vowed to restore fourfold anything that he had taken from anyone falsely. Jesus had changed Zacchaeus’ heart. And that’s what happens when we truly get close to Jesus. We are changed!

 

Jesus wants to have a relationship with you and me just as He did with Zacchaeus. Do I seek Jesus? Do I read my Bible, study His Word,  and spend time alone with Him in prayer? Do I welcome Him into my life and heart just as Zacchaeus did? The writer of Hebrews stated: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts you double-minded” (Hebrews 4:8). The Psalmist exclaimed: “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth” (Psalm 145:18). As we look to Jesus in every circumstance or situation, in every joy and every need, as we seek Him in all we do, He comes to us and envelops us with His Presence. He draws us closer and closer to Him.

 

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he urged them: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

 

As I come to Jesus just as I am, as I seek Him with all of my heart, and as I bring everything before him in prayer – my worries, my struggles, my fears, my frustrations, my sorrows, my hopes, my dreams …. – He meets me where I am. Through the years I’ve learned that problems do not necessarily go away, burdens are not always lifted, the miraculous does not always happen. Yet God is faithful. He walks with me, helps me, strengthens and encourages me, comforts me, and gives me peace.

 

And, in the midst of my circumstances and situations, He changes me. He teaches me. He guides me. He may give me understanding that helps me grow. He may shine light on a situation that helps me be patient and wait. He lovingly and tenderly works to fashion me to become more like Him. And when I get discouraged because I seem to grow so slowly, He covers me with His mercy and grace and guards my heart and mind with His peace. This peace protects me from thoughts, attitudes, pre-conceived notions, and any other thing that can hinder my closeness to Him and His work in me.

 

I am so very thankful for Jesus, the One who comes near, draws me close, and keeps me near to Him. He is my Savior (Matthew 1:20-21), my Redeemer (Mark 10:45), my Shepherd (John 10:11), my Friend (John 15:13) – and the One who changes me! Thank You, Jesus!

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | April 11, 2018

Sitting at the Feet of Jesus

Sitting at the Feet of Jesus

 

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,’ says the Lord. ‘But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word.’”

(Isaiah 66:1-2)

 

One of my husband’s favorite spots is a glider swing in our backyard. Often I’ll spot him there taking a break or resting after completing a project. He may be watching our resident woodpecker battle the starling who tries to move in on his property, or he may be in deep thought planning his next project. When asked what he’s thinking about, his favorite reply is: “Sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just sit!”

 

I have my favorite places to sit and think, or to just sit, too. You probably do as well. One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of two sisters, Mary and Martha. You can find this story in Luke 10:38-42. Martha had welcomed Jesus into their home and was busily serving and taking care of her guests while Mary found her favorite place to sit – on the floor at Jesus’ feet, eagerly listening to every word He said. Martha finally approached Jesus and pointed out that she was doing all the work while Mary just sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to Him. Martha exclaimed: “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me” (v.40b). Jesus, however, gently replied: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (vs.41b-42).

 

I have been a Martha; oftentimes I’m still a Martha. I can worry and become troubled over many things and lose my focus on what is most important. But, thankfully, Jesus is helping me learn how to be more like Mary. While I may not be able to physically sit at Jesus’ feet like Mary, I can curl up at His feet in my heart. Mary let go of everything around her to feast on her Master’s words. How about me?

 

  • Do I seek Him daily, talk to Him, and rest in His mercy and love?
  • Do I read His Word and search for His guidance and direction?
  • Do I walk with Him, constantly aware of His Presence (Spirit) within me, guiding me, convicting me, helping me, giving me understanding, and blessing me with His comfort, joy, and peace?  
  • Do I determine in my heart, daily, to choose “that good part” and devote myself completely to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?  

 

When I choose “that good part” and sit at Jesus’ feet in my heart, it really doesn’t matter where I am. He is with me in the quiet, still moments. He is with me in the crowds and noise. His Words in my heart lead me and guide me. His Presence strengthens and helps me. The more I choose “that good part” and devote myself completely to Him, the more He can use me and complete His purpose for my life. I pray that I will grow to be more and more like Mary and choose “that good part.” Will you join me – sitting at the feet of Jesus?

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | March 22, 2018

The God Who Is….

The God Who Is….

 

Whom have I in heaven but You?

And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.

My flesh and my heart fail;

But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

(Psalm 73:25-26)

 

Life can be hard sometimes. We experience problems and difficulties – oftentimes through no fault of our own. We endure suffering and sorrow. Things may not work out the way we hoped or planned. Then there are those especially hard times when we know we’ve sinned and failed. It is hard to even approach God because we feel so ashamed and undeserving of His mercy and grace.

 

What do we do when life is hard? What do we do when we don’t know what to do?

 

The psalmist Asaph shared his struggle in Psalm 73. Asaph was envious of the wicked who seemed to continually prosper and have no trouble. They were proud, boastful, and even scoffed at the mention of God. Asaph cried out: “Behold, these are the ungodly, who are always at ease; they increase in riches. Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence. For all day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning” (Psalm 73:12-14). Asaph could not understand how the wicked could live lives of ease while his efforts to live righteously seemed to go unnoticed and with no reward.

 

Asaph continued: “When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me – until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end” (Psalm 73:16-17). When Asaph went to the sanctuary, He remembered something he had probably allowed himself to forget as he focused on the lives of the wicked. Asaph had something that could never be taken away from Him. Unlike the wicked who could be “brought to desolation, as in a moment” (verse 19a), the Lord was continually with Asaph. “Nevertheless I am continually with you; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory” (vs. 23-24).

 

Asaph’s hope was in the God who was always with him, who held him by his hand, who guided him and gave him counsel, and who would one day welcome Asaph to live with Him forever. Asaph took his eyes off the wicked and turned them to His God – and he received understanding.

 

I think God wants me to do the same thing. When I truly place my trust in Him, I recognize that even when I do not understand, God is in control. He will lead me and guide me as I look to Him. The writer of Hebrews expressed it well: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Sometimes we see the way God rewards and comes through for us. At other times, we cling to Him, knowing He is our reward and that He will lead us through, hold us up, and take us home to live with Him forever.

 

Like Asaph, however, we can become so consumed with our personal struggles, what is going on around us, and our own lack of understanding that we focus on those things rather than the God who is always with us. In Psalm 145, David praises this God who is good to all, who upholds those who fall and who raises up those who are bowed down and broken. He remembers the God who opens His hand and satisfies us, who hears our cries, and who saves us.

 

When life gets hard, my friend, may we like Asaph, turn and look to God and remember the God who Is! Like David, may we exult in all He is to us and praise this God who is…..

Great

Mighty

Gracious

Full of compassion

Great in mercy

Slow to anger

All-powerful

Filled with majesty

Glorious

Kind

Righteous

Near to all who call upon Him

Everlasting – His kingdom endures forever

And like Asaph, may we, too, discover that it is good to draw near to God and put our trust in Him, for even when “my flesh and my heart fail; God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26).

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | February 28, 2018

When Jesus Is Enough

When Jesus is Enough

Whom have I in heaven but You?

And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.

My flesh and my heart fail;

But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

(Psalm 73:25-26)

 

Is Jesus enough for me? Is He enough for you?

 

Recently, I was reading Hebrews, Chapter 11, often referred to as the chapter of faith. This chapter names many Old Testament heroes who were faithful to the God who called them. It also declares that nameless others “who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again.” (Hebrews 11:33-35). Surely, the promises of God were enough for these faithful ones.

 

Yet, the writer of Hebrews continues. Other faithful ones were tortured, mocked, scourged, chained, imprisoned, stoned, sawn in two, tempted, and slain with the sword. Many were destitute, afflicted, tormented. (See Hebrews 11:36-38.) Yet, these, too, remained faithful looking forward to the realization of God’s promises in Christ.

 

The promise of Jesus Christ and His coming kingdom kept these early believers faithful. Jesus was enough – whether they were overcomers or whether they were overcome.

 

Today, we look backward to when Christ came. We read eye-witness accounts of His death on the cross and His resurrection and ascension into Heaven. When we trust Jesus and accept what He did to save us, we have the very Spirit of God living within us to guide, empower, and help us. This same Spirit imparts understanding, gives comfort, and works in us to complete God’s work in our lives. And, we, too, can look forward with joy to our coming inheritance in His kingdom.

 

Jesus is enough – in fact, He is more than enough! Yet, sadly, we often live our lives in defeat rather than in the victory we have in Him. As we live in a world that is increasingly turning away from Christ and Biblical truth, we need to live our lives more and more in ways that help others see this Jesus who is more than enough!

 

  • We need to remain faithful to God’s Word and trust Jesus even when our way is difficult and when we may not understand. We know that Jesus is faithful. Our confidence is in Him.
  • We need to show goodness and mercy and Christ’s love to all people – even to those with whom we disagree. Christ died for all people and wants them to come to Him.
  • We need to invite the Spirit to work in us and bear fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness – and not live lives that give way to conceit, envy, and provoking others (see Galatians 5:22-26). We do not want to hinder Christ’s work in the lives of others, but if at all possible, live in such a way as to draw them to Christ.
  • We need to to rejoice in the life we have in Christ and live with hope as we seek, work, and pray for Christ’s kingdom on earth.  

 

The book of Acts records words Paul spoke as he stood before the Areopagus: “for in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28a). When Jesus is enough, our lives are all wrapped up in Him. It is in Him that we live and move and have our being. Even when we endure troubles or difficulties in this world, we can rejoice that our relationship with Christ, the inheritance we have in Him, transcends any trial we may face on earth (see Psalm 16:5-6). And as we place our trust in Him and walk with Him, day by day, His Word assures, and His Spirit confirms to us, that nothing – absolutely nothing can separate us from His amazing love (see Romans 8:37-39). We can live victorious lives, whatever our circumstances, when we fully surrender ourselves to Christ, knowing that Jesus is enough!

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | February 16, 2018

My Savior and My Shepherd

“For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.”

(Psalm 48:14)

 

As I listened to the news reports of yet another school shooting where at least 17 innocent people were killed, I found myself asking once again, how, then, do I live? I had written a post with this title last year. You can read it here: https://glorifyinghim.wordpress.com/2017/09/25/how-then-do-i-live/  

 

As believers and followers of Christ, we can surely make a difference as we try to live our lives in ways that honor Him. Yet, sometimes, when we become overwhelmed with tragedies in our world, or adversities we face in our own lives, it is easy to lose heart and become discouraged. Yet, at times like these, I remind myself – I have a Savior! His name is Jesus.

 

Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (see Luke 19:10), but He also came to give us abundant lives. Jesus Himself stated: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b). When we accept Christ’s forgiveness, place our trust in Him, and surrender all that we are to Him, we can have this abundant life. It is this abundant life we have in Christ that can help us live with confidence in the midst of a broken, troubled world.

 

I have come to treasure the words found in John 10:1-18 and Psalm 23. In verse 14 of John 10, Jesus states: “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep…” He knows me! When I am happy, He knows me. When I am sorrowful, He knows me. When I am weary and worn, He knows me. Yet, in addition to knowing me, He cares for me. Psalm 23 beautifully expresses how Jesus shepherds and cares for you and me.

 

The Lord is my shepherd;I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;

He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul;

He leads me in the paths of righteousness

For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil;

For You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

You anoint my head with oil;

My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

All the days of my life;

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord

Forever.

We have a shepherd who –

 

  • Knows us and cares for us.
  • Helps us find rest and restores us.
  • Leads us in the paths of righteousness, giving us wisdom and discernment.
  • Walks with us through our valleys.
  • Comforts us with His Presence as He protects, rescues, and guides us.
  • Lovingly provides for us and honors us.
  • Pursues us with His goodness and mercy all of our days.
  • Promises that we will dwell with Him forever.

 

It is this Savior, this Shepherd, to whom we cling, with whom we walk, who surrounds us with His Presence, and who blesses us with abundant life – now and forever. It this Savior, this Shepherd, who gives us joy, provides a place of refuge, and helps us walk with confidence in our world today. I am so thankful for my Savior. I hope you know Him, too.*

 

“You will show me the path of life; in Your Presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

(Psalm 16:11)

 

*Click here to learn how you can come to know this Savior: https://glorifyinghim.wordpress.com/how-can-i-be-saved/

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | February 3, 2018

In Christ

In Christ

 

“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith.”

(Philippians 3:8-9, CSB)

 

The above words were written by Paul in a letter to the church in Philippi. Paul had established the church there while he was on his second missionary journey (about A.D. 47-49). While this letter could have been written in several of Paul’s imprisonments, many believe that Paul wrote the letter while he was imprisoned in Rome (about A.D. 60-62).

 

Paul had much to boast in. He recounts these things in Philippians 3:4-6. He could trace his ancestry to Jacob, the true line of Israel. He was from the tribe of Benjamin from which the first king of Israel had come. He was a model Jew, having been trained and educated as a Jew. Paul had come from a line of Pharisees and had studied under the highly respected Pharisee, Gamaliel (see Acts 22:3). He had also rigidly defended the Jewish law. Yet after Paul came to know Christ, he counted all of these things as nothing.

 

Paul continues to detail how he has suffered since coming to know Christ. We can read about these in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28. Paul had been beaten, stoned, imprisoned, and shipwrecked. He had endured much physical suffering, faced many perils, and persisted through toil and weaknesses. Yet, even in his sufferings and losses, Paul counts these too as nothing for the joy of being found in Christ and for having the righteousness that comes not from anything he has done, but that comes through faith in Christ Jesus, alone.

 

As I read these verses and think about the life of Paul, I can’t help but think about how life in Christ changed Paul. When it comes right down to it, the only thing that really matters in this life is knowing Christ Jesus our Lord. This doesn’t mean just knowing about Him, having an intellectual knowledge of Him. Nor does it involve trying to do the right things, whereby we seek our own righteousness. It is surrendering all that we are to Christ, placing our faith solely in Him, and trusting Him in all things at all times.  

 

So often we can allow ourselves to get so weighed down with the cares of this world. If only, we could remind ourselves of what we have in Christ. Nothing – absolutely nothing – can compare to knowing Christ and having a relationship with Him. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he encouraged them to not continue in sin. “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:11). When we repent of our sins and place our faith and trust in Christ, we are united with Him (see Romans 6:5-10). We are one with Christ; we are found in Him.

 

When we are in Christ ….

 

  • Nothing – absolutely nothing – can separate us from His amazing love (see Romans 8:38-39).
  • We are forgiven and redeemed. Christ, through His death on the cross, released us from our slavery to sin. We have been bought with the precious blood of Christ (see Ephesians 1:7).
  • We are adopted into the family of God. We are the children of God and have an eternal inheritance (see Romans 8:15).
  • We have the gift of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:38-41) who  gives us power to be witnesses for Christ (see Acts 1:8).
  • The Holy Spirit within us guides us (John 16:13), confirms to us that we are children of God (Romans 15:16), gives us discernment (1 Corinthians 2:10-16), comforts us (Acts 9:31), gives us peace and joy (Romans 14:17), and intercedes for us when we pray.
  • We are never, ever, alone. “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5b-6)

 

Yes, we live in a troubled world. Yes, bad things happen and things do not always work out right. But those of us who are in Christ can know His comfort and help, His peace and joy, His guidance and direction, and His  Presence and love every single day. He will never leave us or forsake us. Like Paul, may we, too, rejoice and live in the wonder and privilege of knowing Christ and being found in Him!

 

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

John 1:12-13

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | December 24, 2017

Rejoicing in Jesus

Rejoicing in Jesus

“For unto us a Child is born,

Unto us a Son is given;

And the government will be upon His shoulder.

And His name will be called

Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

(Isaiah 9:6)

 

Many years ago I came to know Jesus as my Savior. When I accepted what He had done for me, however, I had no idea what it really meant to walk with Him day by day. Through the years, however, I have come to know both the wonder and joy of living life with Jesus.

 

Yes, Jesus came to save me, but He also came to live with me daily. This Christmas, as I read Isaiah’s prophecy about Jesus in Isaiah 9:6, I thought about the titles the prophet used to describe the coming One – Wonderful, Counselor; Mighty God; Everlasting Father; and Prince of Peace. And I realized afresh and anew that this is the Jesus I know – not just what I know about Him, but what I have experienced personally!

 

  1. He is my Counselor. He is the One I turn to for advice, help, and direction. He guides me and gives me understanding. His Word assures me that He will make my pathway straight (see Proverbs 3:6).
  2. He is my Mighty God. The same Almighty God who created the heavens and the earth, who has all power, for whom nothing is too hard, knows me by name – and He cares for me (see John 10:2-3 and 1 Peter 5:7).
  3. He is my Everlasting Father. My Father’s love is steadfast and eternal (see Psalm 136:26). Nothing can ever separate me from His great love for me (see Romans 8:31-39). Even when I fail Him, He stands ready to pour out His mercy and grace and forgive me (see Psalm 86:5). He comforts me (see Psalm 23:4). He hears me when I call (see Psalm 17:6). He rejoices over me with singing (see Zephaniah 3:17). He promises to never leave me or forsake me (see Hebrews 13:5-6).
  4. He is my Prince of Peace. Isaiah wrote: “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). Because of what Jesus did for me, I have peace. I have peace with God (see Romans 5:1). His peace guards my heart and mind (see Philippians 4:7). As I trust in Jesus, He will keep me in perfect peace (see Isaiah 26:3). Jesus Himself stated: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

 

As I celebrate the birth of Jesus this Christmas, I rejoice in this Jesus I know, the One who saved me all those years ago, and the One who walks with me today. I thank Him and I praise Him, my Savior and my Lord!

 

“Lord, you are my God;

   I will exalt you and praise your name,

for in perfect faithfulness

   you have done wonderful things,

   things planned long ago.”

(Isaiah 25:1)

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | October 11, 2017

Faith When It Hurts – Part 2

Faith When It Hurts – Part 2

 

A little over four years ago, I wrote the devotion “Faith When It Hurts”*(see this devotion below) in honor of a loved and devoted church member who, although paralyzed by a stroke and confined to a wheelchair, faithfully attended church every Sunday morning until His Savior called him home. This past week, this dear gentleman’s daughter was also called home as cancer ravaged her body, but not her spirit. Just like her Dad before her, she modeled not only an undying faith, but also a faithfulness that kept her behind the piano she had so lovingly played in our services for 37 years. She continued to beautifully play the hymns and songs that undoubtedly brought her peace and comfort in the midst of her struggle.

 

As I thought about this dear lady and her living testimony to her Savior, I couldn’t help but think how both she and her Dad, even in difficult and desperate times, held onto the One who promised to always be with them. While they did not know the “why” behind their battles, they placed their confidence in the One they knew and trusted completely – their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

 

I am so thankful for the privilege of knowing these two who showed me and countless others what a life of faith truly looks like – even when it is hard – even when it hurts. All of us have our share of struggles and difficulties in this world. Do we grapple with why? Do we wonder and question? Do we allow them to crush us under their weight as we try to carry them alone? Or do we turn to Jesus and surrender everything to Him? Scripture reminds us that our God is with us – even during the hard times.. Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).  Our God does not leave us or turn His back on us during our difficulties. He walks with us and encourages us. He strengthens us and helps us. And He will hold us up when we cannot stand alone. What a beautiful picture of our God, the One in whom we can safely trust – no matter what!

 

*Faith When It Hurts  

This past week our church lost one of its most devoted members. This dear man worked unceasingly for his church until he was paralyzed by a stroke and became confined to a wheelchair over 14 years ago. Still, with the help of his beloved wife, he was there practically every Sunday morning sitting in a chair stationed at the end of the pew next to where his wife was seated.

Although the stroke debilitated him physically and impaired his ability to communicate, it was not able to obliterate his faith. He demonstrated to everyone who saw him week after week that his devotion to Christ and the church had not changed. While he could no longer work and serve as he had been accustomed to, he could still worship – and that he faithfully did every Sunday morning.

Some people might wonder why. Why would he continue to come to church when it was undoubtedly so difficult for him to do so? Why would he continue to worship a God who had allowed him to be struck down and to suffer in such a way? Some may wonder why he didn’t take the advice that Job’s wife gave to Job after he lost his property, his children, and his health: “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9)

Yet I think he was probably a lot like Job. Job replied to his wife: “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10) What a declaration of faith! Faith is probably no better seen than when it is demonstrated in the life of an individual caught in the throes of adversity. It’s easy to trust when skies are blue, food is on the table, and all is well. But trust is more difficult when storms blow in, when provisions are meager, and when, for whatever reason, our world is turned upside down and our lives begin to unravel. Yet it is at those times – times when our faith seems so small – when we need it most of all.

One definition of faith in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is a “firm belief in something for which there is no proof.” The Bible defines faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). So what does faith look like? Consider just a few examples from Hebrews 11.

  •         Noah built an ark before there was one drop of rain.
  •         Abraham left his home and journeyed to a place to receive his inheritance, not knowing where he was going.
  •         Sarah bore a child when she was well-past child-bearing age.
  •         Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph all believed in a future they could not see.
  •         Moses chose to suffer with the Israelites rather than enjoy the worldly pleasures of Egypt.

Among many other examples, the writer of Hebrews then exclaims:

“And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of the weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again.

Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented – of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.”

(Hebrews 11:32-40)

The above examples remind us that faith is not always pretty. It doesn’t always come out on top in our present circumstances. But just as the heroes above were looking forward with faith to a promise, we also are looking forward to the fulfillment that awaits all believers – the complete realization of God’s promises in His coming kingdom.

As I think of the examples of faith above, I can’t help but think that some of these faithful ones were probably just like you and me. They wondered about their challenges. They questioned why some received miraculous deliverance while others were tormented, stoned, and afflicted. But in spite of their questions and their lack of understanding, they believed in the One who made the promise. The Scriptures remind us: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

There are still people of faith today. Sometimes their faith may be small like a tiny mustard seed (see Matthew 17:20). Often they don’t know the reason behind their trials or the purpose for their suffering. But they do know the only One who is worthy of their faith and trust. So just like Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and countless others down through the ages, they run their race, the one designed for them by God Himself, and they look “unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was 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). They surrender their need to know, their desire to understand why, to the One who loved us enough to die for us. And they walk with Him, looking forward, one step at a time, until like our friend at church, they finish their race, behold their Savior, and realize the victory of faith!

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | September 25, 2017

How, Then, Do I Live?

How, Then, Do I Live?

 

There is so much trouble in our world today, so much hatred and evil, so much division and controversy. Oh, how I wish things were different, but in the midst of all this trouble, what can I do? What can any of us do?

 

The truth is there is something that each of us who follow Christ can do. We may not be able to correct all  wrongs and make everything right, but the Bible helps us know how God wants us to live – even in the midst of hard, trying times. Am I doing those things? Am I pleasing God by the way I live?

 

In the book of Romans, Paul, among other things, attempted to help believers in the early church, who came from many different backgrounds,  to come together as one in Christ. In spite of their differences, and in spite of ours today, all believers are one in Christ. So, in the midst of all our division and controversy, let each of us ask ourselves, “How, then, do I live?” Paul gives us some guidance in Romans 12. As I read this chapter, I need to ask myself:

 

  • Am I living my life totally surrendered to God? Do I allow Him to transform my heart and mind with His Word and truth? Or am I yielding to my preconceived thoughts and attitudes, or what I think is right?  (See Romans 12:1-2).
  • Do I use the gifts God has given me in service to Him, and do I seek to encourage others who may have different gifts? Or am I critical, or envious, of others and their gifts (See Romans 12:6-8).
  • Do I love others well – without hypocrisy and insincerity? Am I kind to others in both my words and my actions? Or does my love always mask a heart that is filled with self-centeredness and hidden agendas? (See Romans 12:9a, 10).
  • Do I hate evil and cling to what is good? Or do I make peace with evil and sometimes compromise what is good? (See Romans 12:9b).
  • Do I rejoice in the hope I have in Christ? Can others see that joy? Do I tell others about that joy? Or do I keep it safely tucked away and guard it while bemoaning the discord around us? (See Romans 12:12).
  • Do I remain steadfast, doing those things I know to do – praying, helping others, encouraging others, doing good? Or do I turn inward and focus on myself? (See Romans 12:12-13).
  • Do I try to live peaceably with all men? Can I honestly say that in my actions, my attitudes, and the things I say, that I pursue peace with others – especially with those who disagree with me? Or, in my desire to win an argument, prove my point, or even convince someone of something that I know in my heart is right, do I sometimes forget to not be overcome with evil, but to overcome evil with good? (See Romans 12:18-21).

 

These are hard questions and I admit that I do not always like my own answers. Yet, I believe that the above-referenced chapter in Romans is just as meaningful to us today as it was to the early church.

 

The truths in this Scripture challenge me as I think about how, then, do I live. Regardless of our troubled and divided world, I am called to live a life that seeks God, that serves Him as He leads, and that loves others well. These verses encourage me to turn from evil and to do good, and to remain steadfast and faithful, doing those things that I know to do. This Scripture also reminds me to live joyfully, always ready to share that joy with others, and to strive, as much as is within me, to live peaceably with all people. 

 

This is how I want to live. I hope this is how you want to live, too. How, then, do we live?

 

“Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things (the second coming of Christ), be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless” (2 Peter 3:14); and “beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and               knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”  (2 Peter 3:17-18).  

 

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