Saturday, January 20, 2018

January 20, 2018

Don't Worry

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."  Phil. 4:6-7

It was the winter of 1995.  I had been looking for a church to attend, and after several attempts, finally went to the church closest to my home.  As I entered the church, a person handed me a bulletin.  On the cover it read, "Don't Worry About Anything.  Instead, Pray About Everything."  It must have made quite an impression, since I recall it so vividly.
This verse is one of those that changed my life, because I began to put it into practice.  When I would find myself worrying, I would stop myself and pray.  I would pray and thank.  I would give it over to the Lord.  When I found myself trying to take it back, I would start over again and give it to Him.  Something profound happened during these prayers - peace came into my life as I realized God was responsible for these answers, not me.  It took the pressure off!

I am so thankful this was one of my earliest spiritual lessons - learning to pray.  The peace Paul describes in Philippians does defy description; it is very difficult to explain.  This peace of God has an active role in protecting my heart and mind. 
If you have a worry today, give it God.  Talk to Him about it and thank Him for handling it.  Sense His peace flowing over you.

Friday, January 19, 2018

January 19, 2018

God's Presence and Rest

"The Lord replied, 'My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."  Ex. 33:14

Have you ever done things without the presence of God?  Did you find very little rest in it?  God's presence provides peace, comfort, and allows us to take a breath when times are challenging.  When we become intentional about inviting God into our day, He gives us rest.  One of the great facets of God's rest is that we can have it even when we are very busy.
Some days my life is very full and other days less so.  I discover much greater rest when I invite Jesus into my day.  A couple of my favorite examples of this practice is when the laundry is being folded and when beds are being made.  These are not exactly the most exciting activities on the planet.  Yet, when God's presence (literally, His "face") is with me as I fold the laundry, there is peace and rest and joy in the task.  I find myself praying for the person whose clothes I am folding, or bed I am making.  I've had a God-moment and it cannot be taken away from me.

Try inviting God's presence into your day today.  See what happens.  Write it down or let a friend know.  The Lord may give you rest.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

January 18, 2018

Fight the Good Fight of the Faith

"Fight the good fight of the faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses."  1 Tim. 6:12

The Apostle Paul stresses to Timothy that he fight the good fight of the faith.  Paul writes something similar in 1 Corinthians 9:25-26, "Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air."  Paul is letting his readers know that battles are part of the life of faith.  This should not surprise us.

When the world is trying to drag us down, it can be a battle to keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus.  When the sudden losses of life come upon us, it can be a struggle to find God in it.  The saturation of images we come across in the media can produce challenges to remain focused on the benefits of the Lord. 

Paul continues in this passage, "take hold of the eternal life to which you were called..."  This is similar to taking possession of eternal life.  We are to do just that - to grab hold of eternity, to lay claim to it as we say yes to Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  We are stake our claim to this great and glorious title deed: life forevermore. 

Friends, what Jesus gives to us, we should take hold of for our lives.  What is He giving you today?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

January 17, 2018

My Soul Waits

"My soul waits for the Lord, more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning."  Ps. 130:6

There we were, my husband, my brother, and I.  We were sitting in the waiting room and had been there quite a while.  It was a hospital that I hadn't been to in a long time, yet it brought back some memories.  Somewhere in another room was my dad, who had been brought to this hospital.  It was a Sunday afternoon, and we were waiting.

That waiting room became God's waiting room and I was in it.  I was waiting - waiting for the doctors, a nurse, anyone from the hospital who could give us some news about my dad.  I was waiting for the Lord.  It had been two years earlier that we had lost my mom after a seven month illness.  I had waited for the Lord a lot during that time.  Now, two years later, this scene was familiar.  My soul was waiting for the Lord.
My mind waited for Jesus.  My heart waited for Jesus.  My energy was directed to a singular prayer, "Jesus, help."  The doctor eventually came to see us and give us the news - it wasn't news we wanted to hear.  We were brought to my dad, where we could wait together.  There as a family, we waited for the Lord.
My soul still waits for the Lord - for the day when my dad and I will be reunited in eternity.  It will be a sweet reunion.  Only Jesus can bring it about.  Watchmen wait for the morning - they wait with diligence and perseverance.  More than the watchers of the night, my soul waits for the Lord.

January 16, 2018

Go to the Street Corners

"Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find."  Mt. 22:9

In the Parable of the Wedding Banquet, Jesus is describing the kingdom of heaven to a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.  When the people who had made the "guest list: refused to come after several invitations, the king instructed his servant to go out to the street corners and invite any person they came across.

It is a humble reminder for me - do I show partiality with whom I share the gospel?  Or am I impartial, sharing the good news of Jesus the King with "anyone I find?"  Am I willing to roll up my sleeves and go into the streets, the shelters, the projects?  After a Sunday church service of worship and soul care, am I prepared and ready to be moved out of my comfort zone to the combat zones that the Lord may want to place me?  Yes, a humbling question indeed.

May we be ambassadors of Christ bringing the gospel message to the places God has prepared for us, as instruments of peace, armed with hope and filled with joy.  May we be faithful to His call when His gentle whisper summons us to a street corner that only the enemy has visited, so we may reclaim lost ground for the Kingdom.

Monday, January 15, 2018

January 15, 2018

Trained for War

"Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle."  Ps. 144:1

Beloved, we are in a battle!  There is a war that rages with constant conflict between good and evil, light and darkness.  Here is the good news:  THE BATTLE HAS BEEN FOUGHT AND THE BATTLE HAS BEEN WON!  Our job is to appropriate and enforce the victory.  Jesus has fought the battle and triumphed!  The defeated forces of darkness would have us believe we have not won.  This is a lie.  The truth is that a man, who shed His blood for us, secured victory on a hill.  The truth is the death of Jesus Christ at Calvary secured our victory.  There, the battle was fought.  There, at Golgotha, it was won.  There, Jesus said, “It is finished.”  The burial of His body allowed Him to descend into the depths to take the keys of Hades and of Death.  His resurrection was the demonstration of His authority, power, and life.  His ascension to sit at the right hand of His Father and mediate on our behalf in intercession is the evidence of His eternal life, and representation of us to God.
King David wrote a song of praise in Psalm 144, as he thanked the Lord for training his hands for war and his fingers for battle.  In the days of David, the war was fought in the natural.  For believers today, the war is fought in the spiritual.   For our purposes, we want to glean spiritual truths from the natural realities in the times of David, Nehemiah, and Jehoshaphat.  The battle continues – the Lamb has achieved our victory.  Let us go forth in triumph!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

January 14, 2018

The Power of Silence

“He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.”   Isa. 53:7 

This passage prophetically provides the choices, thoughts, and behaviors of the Suffering Servant Jesus, and this is fulfilled in Matthew 26:63 and 27:12-14. 

·         Mt. 26:63 – Jesus kept silent after the accusations of two false witnesses;
·         Lk. 23:9 – Jesus kept silent when Herod asked him many questions; and,
  • Mt. 27:12-14 – Jesus did not respond to the accusations of the chief priests, elders, and of Pilate.  
Jesus remained silent in the face of accusations, false charges, and false witnesses.    In Mt. 26:59-63, we read that the chief priests, elders and council tried to find false testimony by false witnesses, in order to put Jesus to death.  Two false witnesses came forward and in response to the high priest’s questioning, Jesus kept silent.    In Mt. 27:12-14, when the Pilate was questioning Jesus in response to the false accusations, Jesus said nothing.  In M.t 27:15-16, when the crowd yelled out for Barabbas to live, and Jesus to die, Jesus said nothing.  He chose to keep quiet and not respond, even when the beatings, whippings, and scourging took place. 
In Lk. 23:9, Jesus refused to ask the many questions of Herod, who was hoping to see a miracle.  And, as He hung on a cross, Jesus asked His Father to forgive those who had persecuted Him.  He did this intentionally to fulfill every prophecy and to take upon Himself all sin, that those who believe in Him could be set free and live.  
Can we relate on some small level to what Jesus suffered?  There are times when accusations are plaguing us and the taunting and mocking of others is an issue in our lives.  There can also be times when we are hated, despised, forsaken, or beaten.  At those moments it can be disarming to the enemy to simply say nothing.  When we let Jesus be our defense, we are in the best position!  There is power in silence.   There is power in overcoming evil with good.  There is power in meekness.  Beloved, may you discover the power of Jesus as your defender and advocate!