Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Week Twenty-Six - Sweet Nothings

Sometimes we just need some assurance, don't we? Like when our father would put his arms around us and calmly say, "Everything will be alright. I won't let anything hurt you." We need that gentle word. In today's crazy world, we need it now more than ever. Well, God knows we need it too. So He listed a bunch of nothings that can calm our hearts. Have a look!

Psalm 139:1-4 Nothing will ever happen to you that God does not already know. He knows everything. Every thought you think, every word you say, and everything that touches your heart and life. He knows all about it.

Psalm 139:4, 16  Nothing will ever happen to you that is a mistake. God orders this world by design. He isn't haphazard. He works all things according to the purpose of His will. (Eph 1:11) And that includes the things that catch us off guard or that we don't understand. He never asks us to understand, but He does ask us to trust Him. He makes no mistake.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10  Nothing will ever happen that you cannot handle by God's power and grace. He is your supply. He will strengthen you, give you wisdom, and guide your steps. So you can bring that tough thing to Him for power and grace.

Romans 8:28  Nothing will ever happen to you that will not eventually be used by God for some good purpose in your life. Hard times come to all of us, but the promise of Scripture is still true. God has a purpose in everything, and if we look, we will see Him at work in our situation, and eventually, we will praise Him.

Matthew 28:20  Nothing will ever happen to you without God's presence. He is with us always. Always. Think about that for a while. God is with you when you are sitting in the hospital waiting room. When you are about to go under the surgeon's knife, God is with you. When the phone rings and the message is hurtful to receive, God is there beside you. He never leaves you. Never.

Ephesians 1:11 Nothing will ever happen to you outside God's will and purpose. This verse has been my meditation all year. God started by giving me the word purpose for 2022, and He continues reinforcing it with this verse. "According to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." As I think about this verse and apply it to the situations that come along, I relax more into the sovereignty of God and trust Him even when I don't understand. There is purpose in all He does, and since I know He works only from love, and nothing can separate me from His love, I am finding nothing outside His control.

That's a pretty good dose of nothings, isn't it? Do you feel the loving arms of God around you? Do you hear Him whispering words of assurance in your ear? How would your life change if you deeply trusted God's promises? How could God use you to encourage others as they saw your faith in hard times?

Let's use the example of one more nothing. In Luke 1:37, we read, "For with God nothing shall be impossible." This is found in the story of the nativity. I'd venture to say Mary needed all of the promises we read today when faced with the oddest of circumstances. Our reply needs to be the same as hers, "Be it unto me according to thy word."

Take time to go back and ask yourself where you stand on these nothings. You're going to need all of them at some point and time. Remember, they are promises of God, and His promises fail not. 

Adapted from Elizabeth George - Loving God with All Your Mind

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Week Twenty-Five - Bubble, Bubble

A while back, I saw a picture of a huge Christian conference. People had flocked to hear this speaker. I'm not against conferences, but the same day, I read this, "There should never be any dry spells in the Christian life. God said He would be like an artesian well, bubbling forth with a cold, fresh, never-ending supply of water, quenching any thirst, and always satisfying. You don't need to run all over the country trying to find sources of spiritual refreshment. Artesian wells do not run dry. Broken cisterns do." (Blackaby)

It got me thinking about how we feed and water our spiritual lives. Do we look to others to do that? Do we listen to all sorts of podcasts, videos, and stuff, looking for them to quench our thirst? The promise of Christ in John 4:14 is, "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."

I was forced to examine myself. Do I have that artesian well of life springing up in me? Do I know the freshness of fellowship with my Saviour? Or have I left my well unattended? Is it clogged? What does it reveal about me if I search for refreshment from outside sources instead of looking to the well of water Christ gave me at salvation?

Here's what I came up with. My best resource for encouragement is Christ. Only He can speak directly to my heart. Only He knows everything about me and still works in love toward my soul. My best resource for times of discouragement is Christ. He is the lover of my soul, the lifter up of my head, and the restorer of my hope. My best resource for direction is Christ. His Word promises direction if I will but seek it.

And the Word of God? That is the eternal source of water, the place where the well springs up as the Word comes alive to my heart. Also, the Spirit of God prays alongside me and teaches me more about Christ.

So, while I can benefit from listening to others, God never says they should be my resource. My comfort, encouragement, and spiritual stamina come directly from Him.

It reminded me of something else I once read, "Man's encouragement is gone in a moment. God's remains." I want encouragement that remains. I want that fountain of life that quenches my thirst and satisfies my longings bubbling in my soul and springing up each day.

How about you? 

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Week Twenty-Four - Short-changed

Are you satisfied with your Christian life? Or are you short-changing yourself by merely reading about God, and missing out on knowing His ways? There is a difference! You can see it when you compare Moses and the children of Israel.

Psalm 103:7 reads, "He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel."

The Israelites saw and witnessed God's miracles - His acts. They walked across the dry Red Sea just as Moses did. They ate the manna and quail from heaven even as Moses. But they were content to receive God's provision without ever knowing God Himself. They short-changed themselves. 

Are we, like the Israelites, content to experience God's activity without ever coming to know Him personally? Are we recipients of answered prayer, yet we have not come to know the Provider? Are we blessed by God's providential care over our families, homes, and jobs, yet satisfied not personally knowing the One from whom the blessings come? Do we benefit from God's protection, yet not acquainted with the Protector?

Such an attitude seems so selfish and dishonoring. It is presumptuous and disregarding. How would we feel if our children treated us the way we treat God? How much are we missing out on if we remain as bystanders snatching crumbs from the table when the Master wants a closer relationship?

Moses saw beyond the provision of God to the person of God. He knew God's ways. He wasn't content with only God's power. If he had been, he could have accepted the presence of an angel and been victorious in his efforts. But Moses wanted to experience more. He wanted to know God Himself, not just see God's activity.

How about you? Are you plodding along oblivious to the fact that the Master of all creation wants to be your friend? Have you come to know God more personally as a result of your experiences with Him? Don't short-change yourself - get to know Him better!

Start with a consistent reading of your Bible, prayer, and humility. These three open your heart’s door. Then, obey what you read, get into church and see what God does from there. 

Adapted from Experienced God Day by Day by Henry Blackaby

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Week Twenty-Three - I'm not Job!

I'm not Job; perfect and upright. I have flaws. I don't have ten children; I have five. I don't have livestock; I don't even have a pet. I don't live near my children. They are thousands of miles away. But each day, I ask God for His hand of love and protection around them. You might catch me wailing, complaining, and experiencing fear and worry when a crisis or trouble comes, but my reaction, like Job's, is my choice. What did Job believe that gave him such faith and spiritual stamina in dire circumstances? Is his secret available to me?

As I continued to read Job's story, I think I found it. The first hint is in Job 1:21, where he says, "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither; the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Do you see it? Everything belongs to the Lord. Everything! Job knew God's hand brought him wealth, family, and prestige. He humbled himself and blessed the Lord because he knew the cattle on a thousand hills and all of his temporal possessions belonged to the Lord. 

That might sound rather cold, but sometimes the truth is like that. I read on and found a few more sparks of truth that helped me see beauty in the middle of Job's despair.

Not only did Job believe everything belonged to the Lord; he also knew everything came from the Lord. The Lord gives from His abundant supply, and it is His prerogative to administer every facet of His creation. Job knew this truth and settled his heart to accept God's sovereignty in all matters.

In Job 12:9-10, he says, "Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind." Sounds like Job already knew the truth of Ephesians 1:11, God "worketh all things after the counsel of his own will."

In chapter two, Job's wife and Satan describe him as a man who "holdeth fast his integrity." Do you know what that means? We might think it refers to his manner of life, honesty, or consistency, but the actual definition means his innocence. Job believed he had not done wrong, that his circumstances were not the result of personal failure. His heart was right before God, so he didn't have to question why hard times came. He knew God was at work. There is a lot to be said for knowing your innocence. It means you don't face self-condemnation, and you stand before your enemy with a pure heart. It gives you a place from which you can evaluate the situation with more wisdom and peace.

The revealing thing to me is that though Job did not question these truths, he still grieved. "His grief was very great" (Job 2:13). He was human. I'm glad God didn't hide Job's emotions from us, but I am equally happy God showed us Job's faith. This makes it even more poignant to read Job 13:15 "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him." Though Job did not know why hardship had come his way, and he felt the sting of emotions, he rested his hope on truth. Everything belongs to God, and everything comes from God. So Job chose to trust Him.

If we want to come through our trials shining like gold, like Job, we must follow his example. God works everything according to the counsel of His will. Rest yourself there. That's the secret!

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Week Twenty-Two - Sanctuary

With her eyes cast down, all she saw was ruin and despair. War, politics, and the enemy's ploys rolled through her mind escalating the fear and heaviness that gripped her heart. Then, while strolling through the park, she looked up to see a magnificent tree in full splendor. As the light of the afternoon sun shone through the leaves, the strong, wide branches formed a heavenly sanctuary where God met her questioning heart with the beauty and strength of His word.

Psalm 96:6 reads, "Honour and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary."

Where can we go when the ugliness of this world blinds us? Where are strength and beauty found? Do you need His strength and beauty today? I know I do.

Let's lift our eyes to the truth. God doesn't hide from us. He tells us exactly where to find our soul's deepest need. It is in His sanctuary. A sanctuary is a place of refuge or safety. It can be defined as a holy place, temple, or church, but it is also any place where one finds haven, shelter, and safety. I see sanctuary as a place of restoration where the mind and soul rest and realign with God. It might be in your quiet place, or in nature, or at the church altar, but wherever it is, God wants to meet you there.

That day, as I looked up to see the Creator in the strength and beauty of that tree, God reminded me that He is my sanctuary. The beauty I am missing, and the strength I need are found in Him. He is where I go to realign my soul and restore my hope. One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 18:10. It reads, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it, and is safe." I've had to run there many times and have always found the sanctuary and restoration I needed.

Dear friend, this old world is winding down to its end, but sanctuary is still found in the Lord. There we see His beauty and receive strength as we hide in Christ. And then, we get back out there and shine for Him. Because there is still hope in Jesus, and He gives reason and purpose to our lives.

As I was reading Job today, I found another treasure in the sanctuary of His word. Job said, "Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this?" (Job 12:9). We can rest assured that God is in control of all things, working "all things after the counsel of his own will," as we read in Ephesians 1:11, and then we can join Job in placing our trust solely upon God's sovereignty.

Beauty and strength are restored when we see the light of Scripture shining above the darkness of this old world. Are you feeling hopeless, fearful, and confused? Look up and let Him restore your soul. There is safety, beauty, and strength in the sanctuary of the Lord.