January 20, 2016
For many people, this new year, as brief into it as we are, has already brought difficulty, uncertainty, and distress. Let us encourage one another, therefore, with the all-powerful, comforting words of the Living God –He who can change the worst circumstances around for our good, for the good of others, and for the glory of His Name.
In addition, as we meditate on God’s Word and promises, let us not forget that waiting is part of believing, that patience is part of trust, and that thanksgiving is part of faith.
Here are some of God’s wonderful words:
“My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Ps. 121:2) Wow! Can we have any better Helper than HIM?!
“Our eyes look to the LORD our God, till He shows us His mercy.” (Ps. 123:2) Let us be reminded here that we are to look steadily and patiently at Him who is Mercy itself and who does, absolutely, act with abundant mercy (as well as power) toward those who trustingly wait.
“He sends His command to the earth; His word runs swiftly.” (Ps. 147:15) Let us believe that God gives commands on behalf of those who are in union with Christ and are petitioning Him (Eph. 3:12 // 1 John 5:14,15), and that He has legions who promptly and effectively carry out His orders.
“Victory rests with the LORD.” (Pr. 21:31) No matter how high the probability of defeat, let’s keep reminding the Lord that He is the One who is able to grant us victory. And let us remember that praising His Name (even when we don’t feel like doing so), and that walking in obedience to what we already know we should be doing, are measures that prove our trust in Him.
“No ear has heard, no eye has seen any God besides You, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.” (Isa. 64:4) Let us not act presumptuously, but instead wait in loving expectation for our God to perform His will in the situation.
“Then you will know that I am the LORD; those who hope in Me [trust in Me / wait for Me] will not be disappointed.” (Isa. 49:23) Let’s believe this!
“Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld.” (2 Chron. 20:20) This is true, so even if we seem about to go over the precipice, we must keep trusting till the deliverance arrives.
“Everything is possible for him who believes.” (Mark 9:23) –Who believes in the One of whom it is said, “For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)
“Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.” (Isa. 50:10) During the uncertainty, we are to trust in and rely on God who is fully able to give us step by step help, counsel, and guidance.
“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him; do not fret…” (Ps. 37:7) For, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust in your strength.” (Isa. 30:15) Yes, “Blessed are all who wait for Him!” (v. 18)
Indeed, God asks, “Was My arm too short to ransom you? Do I lack the strength to rescue you?” (Isa. 50:2) He answers the questions for us: “By a mere rebuke I dry up the sea…” (Same verse) –A mere rebuke. –A simple command. This is all it takes for God to execute the miracle, and at the perfect time.
“The LORD will accomplish for me.” (Ps. 138:8) Let us be confident of it –no matter how long it seems to be taking!
Therefore, “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His Word I put my hope.” (Ps. 130:5)
Truly, this year, and every year, is held in God’s full and loving control. Let’s believe this and remind each other to wait in patient, grateful, expectant trust –even, and especially, when the wait feels like it’s taking forever.
Because Christ-followers walk, not by feelings, but by faith in God’s all-powerful Word.
March 17, 2015
Below is a testimony and message that I received today, written (at my suggestion) to my readers, from someone who is seeking to better know God and His Truth.
Over the past six months, I have been involved in a huge battle. I’ve been wrestling with lies from the enemy… and it has been very tough. However, as hard as it has been, I know that God has not allowed it to happen for no reason. Instead, He is using this time in my life to help me solidify my personal trust in His Truth, which He has revealed to us in His Word. I will share a few examples of this in the following paragraphs.
First, God has reminded me of who His Word claims Him to be. His Word says that He is holy, pure, and without any darkness. It says that He is not only compassionate, merciful, and loving, but that He IS love Himself! He tells us that He is just and righteous. And we have the promise that He is the Truth, and never lies! Every word He says is completely trustworthy, and those who trust in Him will never be defeated. All of these truths of the heart and character of our God have cemented my faith (trust) in Him more deeply than before.
Also, He has used this time to help me to hold His Word above the words of man, even when men are well-meaning! I used to trust the words of men, but now I know in greater depth the importance of holding others’ words against those of Scripture. Any counsel of men that the Word confirms as Truth can be trusted, but any counsel that contradicts, adds to, or takes away from the Word of God, His own revelation to us, is false and should be cast away.
And, as a final example, this time in my life has been used by the Lord to show me what is really important in life. For, truly, what does profit man if he gains the whole world and yet forfeits his soul? The most important things in this life truly are God and the souls of the people that He has created. Keeping the huge importance of Eternity in mind each day helps us to keep the proper perspective. We are told that the two greatest commandments are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as our self. Loving God… loving people. These two things overrule any and all other things in their utmost importance.
Indeed, times of trial in life are not easy. They can include great pain, whether physical or emotional. Many times countless tears are shed throughout the process. I can feel for those in these seasons of life, for I have been there. But, we cannot stop trusting that God will use these times for our good… He will use these times to shape us into the image of Jesus (Rom. 8:28)! His purpose for those in Christ Jesus is to mold us into His Own image (vs. 29)! And, truly, what Satan intends for evil, God can use for GOOD! So, don’t lose hope, friends. God can redeem even the most seemingly hopeless and painful situations… just think of how He used the death of His Son!
January 26, 2015
It’s normal to want to feel secure. We want to know that our health, jobs, marriages, and friendships are secure, that our beliefs are correct and our doctrines true. We want to know that we and our family will have enough money to live on till we die, and that our home and possessions are available to us always. Yes, security is nice.
But is anything really secure for us in this fallen world? It’s not. Nothing is. But there is One who reaches down to us from Heaven and invites us to place our security in Him. He is the Lord and the Maker of the universe –the All-mighty God. He invites us to place our security in Him because He knows He is the only true Security. He actually commands that we understand this and act accordingly. In fact, over and over, God, in His Word, tells us to trust Him and Him only, and to do so completely. (Pr. 3:5,6 and Isa. 26:4 & 50:10 and scores more)
Sadly though, people, even those who claim to believe the Word of God, try hard to trust all sorts of others besides God. They attempt, and insist on, trusting money, possessions, their own wits, and/or other people. And strangely, even when these fail them, they usually try to cling ever more tightly to the very thing, or person, who is failing them!
Isa. 10:20 tells us that the Israelite survivors “will no longer rely on him who struck them down but will truly rely on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel.” Using this verse, let’s all ask ourselves if we are relying on someone or something that has struck us down (or on anything apart from the Lord). And let’s understand that if we are, then we are not truly relying on the Lord. As God warns us in Jer. 17:5, a curse rests on the person who relies on (trusts in / depends on) man, for this is actually a turning away from the Lord. In Num. 11:20 we see this same principle when God states that by desiring to return to Egypt, the Israelites were, by such a desire, rejecting Him. How awful! Yet many “Christians” do this very thing as they go back to their bondages (slavery / addictions / toxic people) over and over again!
Isn’t it true that many people are relying on a particular pet thing, even that which they can see is continually striking them down? They actually cling to it in desperation. And they do so mainly, I believe, because it gives them a sense of security. Even if it is hurting them and ruining them, that thing (or person) keeps giving them relief in some area while also granting them an existence that is known and reliable to them. Being used to that “refuge”, and being used to the results of it, such bondage-addicts find normalcy in their bondage and thus a degree of security that they can count on. To release that thing –that addiction, that slave-master, that oppressor, that perceived security– would be to be left alone amid the unknown. And that unknownness is a whole lot more frightening to them than to continue in the bondage of that which keeps bringing them ruin, humiliation, and despair.
However, the unknown should not be considered a dangerous risk when one places their full trust in the Lord. For as we see, immediately following the warning in Jer. 17:5,6 about the curse of relying on man, God says in verse 7, “But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him.” Then God contrasts in verse 8 the resulting blessings as opposed to the curses He warned of in verse 6. The psalmist, David, knew this Truth, for he wrote, “Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.” (Ps. 40:4) Yet there are many, even so-called “Christians”, who DO look to the proud, to those who have turned aside to false philosophies, to those who do not teach by the Spirit, and to those who are walking in blatant sin.
Yes, there is a time to bear up under unjust suffering as long as the Lord has called us to that and has given us the grace to endure it, provided we are truly walking in righteousness in that place. (1 Peter 2:18-23) But, enduring patiently does not equate with trusting in, or relying on, the abuser(s)! Moreover, if the Lord has opened a door of escape, or if He is impressing on us that the time to leave is quickly approaching, then we should prepare. We certainly should not fearfully cling to the bondage! (1 Cor. 7:21) Nor should we try to appease the one who is extending deceit, injustice, and/or devastation to us! (2 Chron. 28:20,21)
Granted, we do want to be careful about running ahead of God and into the arms of any other refuge besides Him. In fact, before the blessings come, the Lord will often give us a season of lack in the wilderness to test our faithfulness to Him, to test our obedience to His every instruction, and to test how completely we trust Him and His Word. (Dt. 8:1-5) We should expect this, not be un-nerved by it, and let God see that we will trust Him even if it feels like He is slaying us. (Job 13:15) Moving when He says to move, waiting when He says to wait, pausing after each step until He reveals the next –this is the way we trust in God alone and reject the “security” that the Bondage keeps promising us if we would just return to it.
A couple of days ago after praying for a friend in a really abusive situation and asking the Lord why, year after year, she continues to make excuses as to why she is clinging to the very one who keeps shattering her, I heard, “She believes, but doesn’t trust.” Or, “[Because] she believes [in Me], but doesn’t trust [Me].” (The words in brackets were impressions while the words not in brackets were said in words. This is often the way the Lord speaks to me.) Sad and alarmed, I wrote the statement down on the back page of my Bible and asked the Lord to confirm for me if it was truly from Him. So I went to the Word and was immediately led to Num. 11:18-23 where I wrote next to verse 20 the date and, “Craving Bondage’s security is to reject God.” Then I was immediately led to Isa. 10:20 (which I quoted above), and I wrote next to that verse the date and “Confirmation…”
I share that last paragraph to say this: It doesn’t matter if we believe in God and in His Word, for even the demons believe. (Ja. 2:19) We must TRUST in God and in His Word, and thus live out action-faith, not have just head knowledge. If we do not truly trust God, then He considers us to be rejecting His leadership, His ways, His discipline, His blessings, and yes, Him. It is a serious thing to show God rejection. It is to choose a counterfeit refuge and savior. It is to disown God. This is indeed what clinging to any other security entails.
Later that morning the Lord led me to yet another confirmation –an internet article on this same subject. It is excellent and I cannot recommend it more highly. Here is the link:
September 4, 2014
What I received from reading Ps. 40 this morning:
Waiting with patience brings reward. The reward is that we will see that the Lord has heard our cry and turned to us (Ps. 40:1), that He has lifted us out of the slimy pit (v. 2), that He has planted our feet upon a firm rock (same verse), and that He has given us a new hymn of praise to Him. (v. 3) On top of all this reward, we can know that our deliverance caused others to recognize the Lord’s might and faithfulness so that they too have come to fear and trust in the Lord (v. 3) and are thus able to receive blessing as well. (v. 4)
Praise be to the Lord! Yes, I will exalt the Lord in the hearing of the people (v. 9,10), proclaiming that the Lord is always righteous and always faithful (same verses), that He is Love and that He is Truth. (same verses) In fact, because we can count on the Lord’s wonderful character, we can be assured that He will always protect (v. 11) those who abide, through their submission and faith, in His mercy. (same verse) We can know that we who seek the Lord will always have His joy within us so that we can rejoice and be glad in Him at all times, no matter the wind and the waves. (v. 16) Yes, those who experience, love, and see the salvation and deliverance of the Lord can continually exclaim, “The LORD be magnified!” (v. 16)
We praise in faith and love and trust, but it is patience which actually manifests more reasons we praise.
Many, O Lord, are the wonders You have done, the plans You have brought about for us, and the good things You have done for us! (v. 5) –Too many to recount! (same verse)
July 28, 2014
I was talking to an acquaintance of mine, a teenager, a couple of days ago, and she mentioned that she and her boyfriend had broken up due to an argument. When I asked if she still likes the guy, she said she does and that they are trying to work / talk things out. I gave her a suggestion then, based on her stated desire to continue a healthy relationship with the boy, and it really, I believe, is good advice that I myself, and everyone, should keep in mind.
The basics of my advice was that relationships take work, effort, understanding, and empathy from both sides, and that we should all remember that this is so. For though the truth of this is obvious, we still sometimes tend to forget. Sometimes it seems that we take a good relationship for granted and then get careless or lazy when a glitch stops the lovely flow of fellowship. But is it wise or Christ-like to just “throw in the towel” quickly? It’s not. This is the way of the world, and especially the way of the modern world –with all the array of choices now available for attaining conversation, relationship, and (supposed) friendship –weak, disingenuous, and uncommitted though they be. “At first sign of difficulty, annoyance, or disagreement, toss such a relationship to the ditch and move on.” Such is the slogan of the modern world.
But is this God’s way? It’s not. God never treats people like that. Instead, He woos, He waits, He speaks gently, and then He waits some more. Only if a person persists in deliberate rejection of Him does He, after much patience, leave that person to his foolishly chosen destiny.
So, I mentioned to the teen that she should maybe suggest to her guy friend that they decide together to not talk, for maybe a month, about the issue that they had so sharply disagreed about. Furthermore, to decide to look at each other’s good points, enjoy each other while avoiding those actions or words that caused the problem, and let love, affection, and honor soften the hard feelings. Then, after a few weeks of (hopefully) a peaceful, happy friendship, the issue could more easily and respectfully be discussed, though sometimes the issue, I told her, will have already by then, dissolved itself. Surprisingly, this girl responded that she liked my suggestion and would try it.
Looking past the faults of others, especially those whom we have loved for a while and who have shown that they love God and His Word, should be a practice of ours that we hold to with humility. (Rom. 12:10,16,18) “For it is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good” (Gal. 4:18), but sometimes being zealous for one’s viewpoint (whether or not that viewpoint is false or correct) can defeat the work God has been doing in many lives. (Rom. ch. 14) Sometimes, maybe often, insisting upon one’s own way or repeatedly pressuring others to view an issue the way we see it –even if ours may truly be the best choice or what is correct– is to walk in sin. The main sin is pride (Gal. 5:26), for pride is what makes us criticize others whom we think lack insight, what makes us think we see things correctly like no one else, and which makes us, in the name of what is right and true, act upset, even angry, unbending, condescending, impatient, and confrontational, when others do not cater to our wishes or agree with our convictions. Thus pride brings in all sorts of other sins, including self-righteousness and hypocrisy. And with these beams growing in one’s eye, the insistent person only increases in his blindness.
None of us is perfect every day and all the time. We hopefully strive to be –doing so by listening intently to the Spirit of God who is in us so that we press closer and closer to our goal– but if we were already irreversibly perfect in knowledge and behavior, we would not need to rely continually on the Spirit’s help. Therefore, because we know this, we should be very careful about sounding our viewpoints with an air of arrogant insistence. We should be very careful in thinking that we have it all figured out, that our method is the best for everyone, and that our conviction or way is 100% soundproof. Moreover, we should be very careful about twisting others’ words, putting words in their mouths, attaching beliefs to them they do not actually adhere to, making false accusations of any kind, or using untruths to support our view.
God has a way of humbling us if we refuse to humble ourselves. And life has a way of bringing sorrow and aloneness to those who berate others for views those others maintain, especially when those others have sat quietly, studiously, and submissively under the tutelage of the Spirit. For though there is a time to end relationships that shouldn’t be, there is more often a time to humble oneself, show others honor and respect, and reconsider one’s own viewpoint under the Voice of the Lord. In other words, it should be a priority to first get the beam out of one’s own eye so that the facts of a matter can be seen clearly by each person involved.
In this way valuable relationships that the Lord wills to continue because they are beneficial both to us and to others’ eternities, will not end due to foolishness, stubbornness, pride, or any other sin.
July 27, 2014
If we love the Lord, if we trust in His Name, His Word, and His Promises… if we believe what He says and rely on Him… if we listen to His Spirit, obey Him, and keep our gaze straight on Jesus… then we will walk strong through even the darkest valleys of life. We will walk with peace and confidence. We will walk contented and be willing to wait calmly on our Shepherd, be eager to learn what He is teaching us through it, and be anticipating with joy whatever it is He is taking us to on the other side.
But it’s not merely about what is on the other side. It is also –and very much so– about what is happening within the pain. It’s a lot. And it is wonderful for those who can endure with patience, those who can keep faith, those who can look around and rejoice in the huge blessings God is giving amid the trial, the suffering, the wait.
Then later, when it is all over and we are at rest, and we are fine, and we didn’t die, and life is orderly and normal again, we will not have to look back on the dark valley and wish we had enjoyed it more. For we will have enjoyed it! We will have appreciated each difficult step, and especially because with each one, we felt our Savior’s hands lifting us. We felt His presence in that extra-special way… so tangibly. And what about His precious, beautiful, comforting Voice, and all the priceless Truths we learned from Him? Sure, we’re quite a bit older now, and we have the battle scars, but are we not wiser? Isn’t the immaturity, the quick temper, the self-centeredness almost completely refined out? Hopefully.
So, if we’re facing what looks like another dark valley up ahead, we should not fear or be upset. Instead we should remember… remember all the miracles God performed for us in those valleys of the past… all those immeasurably valuable experiences supplied to us while we journeyed through… all that time of sweet, sweet fellowship with the Awesome God of the universe… and all the unexpected joys He bestowed on us that made the pain pale in comparison.
If we can trust as we’ve been doing, and keep the faith and not be anxious, and remember the great rewards we received by remaining calm and thankful and obedient, then we will approach and step into the next dark valley with peace and joy, savor our walk within it, and watch patiently for God to do wonders. Again.
April 26, 2014
God gives people many chances to repent. He waits patiently. (2 Peter 3:9) However, if a person remains obstinate after many exhortations, warnings, and rebukes, that person will be destroyed suddenly –and without remedy. (Pr. 29:1)
Those of us who spend a lot of time and effort trying to exhort sinning people to renounce and leave their sin, do care deeply. In fact, we have not only been chosen, we have also volunteered. (Isa. 6:8)
What we must remember, though, is that we are to use discernment about the duration of our appeals. If someone is unwelcoming at the onset, we should consider him, at least until further notice, unworthy of our time. (Luke 9:5) If someone reveals himself to be a fool, then wisdom offered to him will only be scorned. (Pr. 23:9) Exhorters should not bother with such a man very long, for his foolishness cannot be removed even if he be ground as if in a mortar. (27:22)
Wicked fools do sometimes repent. But it is almost always after they have had to have incredible humbling and pain. Only then do they possibly look up to God for forgiveness and help, open their eyes to their huge depravity, throw away their sin with loathing, and eagerly choose to walk the good and nobel path.
It takes a real miracle straight from God –including the miracle of His great patience with that fool who hangs over incurable destruction.