Faithful Promise

Heb 10_23.jpg
Hebrews 10:23
“He who promised is faithful.” What a contrast to the half-hearted promises we are used to receiving. I hate making promises myself because they become commitments I have to abide by. I try to be a man of my word, even if the consequences are inconsequential. If I say I am going to do something, I want to be known as one who will keep his word. It seems like a funny thing anymore. And becomes one of the more frustrating things when I hold that same standard to others.
This is especially important to my kids, who ask me to do or buy things for them all the time. Sometimes its little things like, “Look at this new video game I want to get” or “I really want to go to this birthday party.” If I say yes, I obligate myself to them to fulfill it because I want them to be able to trust me when I say I will. When my wife asks me to sweep the living room (because of excessive dog hair) then I agree to do it, I do it. And I don’t dare disagree with her. 🙂
But by the same token, I ask the kids to clean up their room or work on dishes or something else around the house. Sometimes they surprise me and actually do as they promised. Other times, even though they said they would get to it, it never gets done. That frustrates me because I end up having to it myself because its bedtime or the kids have another obligation they need to meet. A well-oiled machine we are not.
That’s why when God makes a promise, I believe He is faithful to keep it.
I am reminded of an individual last week I talked to said who said church attendance used to be a part of life, but have since ceased, because God doesn’t answer prayer. This individual had many reasons to be disappointed with God, including a family who had abandoned this person and a government assistance program that had cast this person aside. This person had said prayer had been faithful and often, but to no avail. This person felt God had abandoned them.
I speak with many people who suffer from a debilitating illness, but whose faith has not wavered. I speak with others whose faith is wavering now and need a reminder that God has helped them through many trials in the past. If God helped you through a terrible trial when you were 20 (like a car accident) and 29 (a family member’s suicide),  would God suddenly abandon you now at 45 with pancreatic cancer?
Something else we need to consider. God’s ways of help are not always what we expect. If you are thinking that God is going to give you exactly the kind of help you demand, you will be disappointed. We need to be reminded that we are not in charge. God does what He wants and God is supremely good. This life is only preparation for eternity, a proving ground if you will of who we are to be. Bad things do happen. But they only happen in this life. We have an eternity to enjoy the fruits of our labor. There will come a time when we are sitting by the Throne and we will reminisce about those days on earth when we thought all hope was lost. We will remind ourselves how foolish we were to ignore the ever-present God, how our sins dimmed our eyes. And then we will have a good laugh at our own expense because the pain of that day will vanish like a mist.
I wonder at that. We have so much more to live for than paychecks and fine homes, fancy cars and good jobs. All of this will be so dross when we find what has real value: faith, hope, and love. God has bigger goals for us than stock portfolios and advanced degrees. He calls us to higher things, a hopeful expectation of His presence. He is our greatest possession, for He is our God. There is nothing on this earth that has value compared to Him. And equal in value is our salvation, paid for by the very blood and body that God chose in His Son, who willingly endured the cross for our shame.
Christian friend, in this world you will have trouble. Don’t be surprised when suffering comes your way. But do not be deceived. This world is not all there is. There is still hope.
May God bless you today and all days as you walk with Him.
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Listed as Safe from the Evil One

www.bible.com/72/2th.3.3.hcsb

Wow. If there was ever s verse needed, it’s this one. Do you need a verse that guarantees your divine protection from the diabolos? The Evil One? The Devil? I know I don’t talk much about him here, so maybe a few words would be helpful.

I was talking a few days ago to an individual who remarked that God and Satan are the same person. Why? Because they are both blamed for the same things. Cancer. Catastrophes. Calamity. Either or both are often blamed. I get that. I’ve heard it. If a child dies, did God take it or did Satan poison it? Did God make that choice, Or the devil.

Christians have wrestled with these issues for hundreds of years. We still struggle with them. I believe that is on purpose. God demands that despite all we think about why bad things happen to good people, we have to practice faith in His Word. Science and philosophy are not going to help us. This is a region where faith in what God says and faith in the nature of a kind and loving God comes in. He calls us to this faith despite our emotions and our natural anger. Will we believe in Him even when it doesn’t make sense?

It seems Satan’s work is on the rise. The first three verses of 2 Timothy 3 are becoming more relevant with each passing day. How can we hope that God is still protecting us? Try to imagine a world where God didn’t protect us. Which world is worse?

I know by faith that God and the Evil One are not the same. God is good. And I believe good is stronger than evil. Because I believe God is stronger than Satan. To say otherwise is to imagine that Satan is co-equal with God. Satan did not and will never die for me. Satan has no love in his heart for anything but himself. Satan corrupts good people. If I as a human being can know right from wrong, to know the difference, then there is a difference. If I know that there is a good so good that I can never achieve it, how can I possibly know it? Surely there is a good God who gave that insight to me. In my heart, I want good to overcome evil. Why do I want that? Where did it come from? I believe it comes from a good God who placed that in me, because I am made in His image.

This worldview requires faith. It cannot be proved beyond the shadow of a doubt. Science nor philosophy is equipped to do this. It must be understood by faith. Fortunately, it is built into us to receive this by faith, because we are made in God’s image. A fact I also know by faith. Convincing others cannot and never will be accomplished through proofs and theorems. But it comes through lives changed, families healed and hope offered.

I apprehend by faith that God will protect me from the evil one. May God protect you today.

Discipline Training

www.bible.com/1713/heb.12.11.csb

How is your life enriched, made deeper and more fulfilling?

Some folks work on their lives by physical discipline, training their body to endure and become resilient, running, walking, weight training and exercise. In this way they find out more about themselves and deepen their ability set.

Others travel, often to as far as their skills and abilities will take them. Whether it be on the well-trod path of hotels and interstates, or deeper into the backcountry and wilderness. They discover much about the world and the creatures that live in it.

Others, like me, don’t get out much, so we read. We like to read, expand our mind’s limits, live someone else’s life for a little while, or deepen our understanding of the world around us, even the unseen world of the Spirit.

I can’t tell you which of these is better. I think we all need all three, and the many more options that are out there. But there is one area that I know no one wants any more knowledge about: suffering.

The Lord chastises those He loves, but He seems to have favorites, doesn’t He? I have heard some of the worst tales of woe a person can hear. Man’s cruelty to his fellow man knows no bounds. But hard times are not always evil done by others. Sometimes God chastises is for our good, giving us the oxgoads and the pricks instead of honey and milk. Have you ever made a decision without God and immediately regretted it? Took a job without holding it up in prayer and realizing you have made a terrible mistake? Joshua and the Israelites did that once when the Gibeonites deceived them. Joshua was so confident in the rightness if his decision the text says very pointedly that he did not consult God. The Gibeonites became servants, but were also a thorn in their side.

But the discipline of the Lord can also be preemptive, because He knows what’s coming, so he prepares us ahead of time with hardship. Like when Joseph was sent to Egypt by his brothers. What they intended for evil, God intended for good, through His slavery and imprisonment, Joseph learned and became Prime Minister of the most powerful country in the world. Why? So he could save his family from the coming drought. He learned through hardship the discipline needed for hard times.

Not everything you suffer from is your fault. In fact, I suspect the majority of it is not. I believe suffering can be punishment from God, but it it can also be training. It can be God punishing someone else and you are caught in the crossfire. It can be the evil of this world, through which God will see you through.

Whatever you are going through today, let us pray with you, not only to hear through it, but to learn from it, if there must be anything to learn.

In talking with many caught with medical issues after a long period of health, I’ve found that many blame God for their illness. They say, “I’ve been good. Why is God punishing me?!” My response is often, “Maybe God wants to know if you will love Him no matter what happens to you. Is God only worth loving when life is going your way? Does He deserve your praise only as long as He gives you what you want?” Many of us are learning the lesson Job: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”

I do not presume for speak for God, as He is fully able to do this for Himself. But may I suggest that the discipline of the Lord is always a good thing. It produces a harvest or righteousness and peace for those trained by it.

God bless you today!

Woe

www.bible.com/1713/rom.8.18.csb

In a shot across the bow against the Health and Wealth Prosperity Gospel, we have this verse that very clearly says suffering is for the present time. Suffering? You mean like pain and sorrow, grief and loss? All the above.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not all pain and suffering. There are times of great and surpassing joy that cannot be compared. God is good and He is good to His children. But the promise here isn’t for health and wealth. The promise here is not made dependent on your faith. The promise here is that we can expect suffering in this life because there is incomparable glory waiting for us. We must be tried and tested in order to shine. We must be polished and refined before we can reflect Him. All of our rough edges need to be worn away.

An ordinary piece of gravel is nothing to admire. It’s a rock. It’s common and ordinary. You take that same piece of gravel and put it in a streambed for 30 years, or in a rock tumbler and turn it for a week, what emerges is a smooth stone, a shiny stone that you will want to admire. It’s fine crystalline structure will dazzle your eyes with detail you couldn’t see before. That is the power of trial and suffering.

This present life is filled with such trial and testing. We don’t what we will look like, but it will be amazing. If we balk at God everytime bad things happen, if we complain and resist His change, will we be as stunning? All the beauty we will ever receive in this life or the next comes from God.

Let God work in your life today. Trust Him for the outcome. God bless!

Ancient Wonders

www.bible.com/1713/psa.77.11-12.csb

What has God done for you lately? The Psalmist is lamenting that God’s attitude toward Israel has changed. He is going through a hard time right now and He feels God has turned away from them.

But then he remembers that God was not always like this. God did great and ancient wonders for the people of Israel. For them, it was the crossing of the Red Sea when the Egyptian army was pursuing them. He remembers fondly the great stories from Israel’s last when God was gracious and faithful. The Psalmist doesn’t satisfy his question though, as if he is still writing in the midst of his sorrow before God at last lifts the burden. No.

So the question he lays before God and the same question that we lay before Him is this: have you forgotten us? His answer to his own question is this: He did not. There were times in Israel’s past when their situation seemed dire. And God redeemed them, saved them from their peril. God has been faithful.

Will you trust Him now? You are in a situation now where it seems you are in peril. If God feels far from you, what miracle can you remember in your life that reminds you that He remembers you? The caption above include a view of an opened tomb, a reminder that Jesus rose from the dead for you. He died for your sins, offered you forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit. God can’t forget you. He lives in you. God can’t ignore you. He is present with you. Remember what He has done for you and whose you are. God is very jealous for His own. He will not lightly let you walk away or suffer trouble. If you are going through something right now, there is a reason for it. “Now God . . . will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little.” (1 Peter 5:10) did you see that? Suffering is part of our growth. Remember that this world is not our final destination. We have much to do before He calls us home. Our journey will be fraught with peril and difficulty. But to whom will be given the greater crown? The one who called God foul every time they stubbed their toe? Or the one who persevered through many trials, depending on God to help him through?

You say the suffering is greater than I can bear. I empathize. And I’m sorry. But can I tell you that that kind of suffering was not designed for you to bear alone? God sometimes calls us to lay our burdens on Him, trust Him through the suffering, allow Him to bear the burden with you. That requires faith, and is usually what I need to work on when I feel this way. Faith that is isn’t tested isn’t faith at all.

If we trust Him, especially in the great and precious promises He has made, them can we trust Him in the ordinary day to day stuff we labor with?

I know this is long, but this is something that has been on my heart lately. I want to encourage you. If you are going through something right now please comment below so that we can pray together about it. You are not far from my thoughts dear reader.

God bless!

Prayer of Petition

www.bible.com/72/psa.51.1-2.hcsb

Nothing hurts like a broken conscience. It’s when you can’t look a person in the eye anymore, or stand straight before others. When the burden of sin is a constant reminder that you are not a good person. It staggers the walk and stutters the speech. It points to depression and self-harm as the best answers for inner pain. Guilt will force you into decisions that you never thought you would make, and circumstances beyond your control. Who will save us from this body of death?

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! He heals the broken conscience and forgive even the hidden sins. He gives joy for sorrow and love for guilt.

Make today the day He heals your broken and contrite heart. Don’t carry your burdens any longer. Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.

God bless!

The Valley of the Shadow of Death

www.bible.com/72/psa.23.4.hcsb

“Darkest Valley” may be a better translation, but it will always be “valley of the shadow of death” for us reared on the King James. I’ve seen a few of these valleys in my my life, and counseled many others going through the same thing. It isn’t a pleasant place, but everyone’s road goes through this valley. David spoke to common experience, not just to his own.

Note here that David says we are not alone in this valley. The Shepherd is here. He carries both rod and staff. The rod to keep us on the path, and the staff to show us the way. When Christ is lifted up, He draws all men to Himself.

As sheep, we are apt to go astray and get lost in this valley. We get stuck here in grief and sorrow. We get caught in a niche or a corner and can’t see to get out. But the Shepherd will come, He will find us, and He will pull us away from danger. He is always looking for us, always working to keep us together where we are strong, rather than alone and weak. The Shepherd knows when our place goes missing in the flock.

Are you lost?

Are you alone?

Are you in the valley?

Then maybe it’s time to look for the Shepherd. He’s not hard to find. He’s the one carrying the staff. It looks like a cross sometimes.

✝️ = ❤️