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How Can I Have A Greater Peace? part 1

How Can I Have A Greater Peace? part 1

My last message, Why Should I Be Worried?, evoked the greatest response to any prior messages. Was it because my writing skills have improved significantly? I think not. I think that the topic that God gave me struck a chord and it hit home with many of you. One of my close friends put it this way if I can paraphrase him: “You discussed something that we all go through but no one ever seems to talk about.”

In light of this great response, I thought I would focus on how we can experience a greater peace and offer some practical ideas on discipleship.

In a practical sense, worry and fear are probably the worst emotions a believer can display. This terrible twosome can cause paralysis and can ruin our witness. If non-believers observe that we worry as much as they do (and they do observe)… “Just how great is their god?, What does she have that I don’t, she worries just as much as I do? He’s worried about a job just as much as I am.” 

Do you see where I am going with this? Do you see why it just might disturb our Lord a bit when He tells us time and time again in His Word not to be afraid and we’re out there in amongst the mass population not any different than the atheist next door?

I think we might agree that there is a worry-peace continuum with worry and fear being on one end of it and peace and joy on the other end. Since last week we focused on “not worrying”, I thought we’d approach it in a more positive way by focusing on having peace, one of the fruits of the spirit.

When it gets right down to our personal ministry, if we are overly preoccupied with our own circumstances, to what degree will that hinder us when it comes to serving others with love and attention? We owe it to our loved ones and the people we serve to find His perfect peace and walk in that path. This is not easy and requires great care and patience, but it’s worth it.

Galatians 5:  22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.

The key words here are “the Holy Spirit produces”, that’s not “you will produce” or “your pastor will produce for you” or even “after much effort, you will produce”.  Here are more promises:

Psalm 29: 11 The LORD gives his people strength.

The LORD blesses them with peace.

Matthew 11: 28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

John 14: 26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.  27 I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

How does that work? Does He just give peace to all and that’s it? Do all believers receive it regardless? I don’t believe so, re-read Galatians 5: 22 above.

It is fruit. How does any living thing yield fruit? By staying in fertile soil and getting fed.

Let’s review that wonderful parable of the Sower:

Luke 8: 13 The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation.

This verse probably doesn’t describe you, someone, that yearns for a deeper relationship. It does, however, contain a most valuable message and one to share with our friends who are “living on the surface”. It is easy to fall away when we are not deepening our faith (growing spiritually). This was me several times in my life when I just didn’t take God seriously. “I prayed the prayer, I know I’m saved. How can I live up to His standard anyway?”

14 The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity.

Unfortunately, this used to describe me perfectly and I am afraid many believers are caught up in this today. Can you relate? “What time is the game on? Oh, what did the pastor just say? I wonder where we will eat after church. I gotta get me some baby back ribs! Hold on, this pastor is way too fast for me, did he just use a Star Wars reference in church? I wonder when that new movie comes out…” I’m sure this does not happen to you, does it?

15 And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.

Personally, I prefer to read the Word of God rather than listen to it. My mind wanders way too easily, as I’ve illustrated above, and I miss things when I hear it. But when I read with the intent to understand, I take the time I need to devour the His Word as if it were a tender, juicy, medium rare Rib-eye steak, taking delight with every bite.  I have friends who prefer to listen or even both. I know God’s made us all different and I think whatever it takes to get His Book into your body(heart, mind, and soul), do it! And at all costs.

This is where we need to stay in order to produce fruit, compare with:

John 15:  7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

These two verses clearly spell it out for you: Keeping a soft heart and receiving and meditating on scripture is required to produce fruit. The list I put together in my last post as a lesson from Job is a good list for growth, by the way.

If you’ve been frustrated that you have no peace or joy and always felt that being a believer in Jesus should be a life of peace, perhaps now you know why.

We read our Bibles daily to grow in spiritual maturity and get to know God more, not just to say we do it or just a habit.

“But I’ve tried to read daily before, I just don’t get it” Or “I want it to be from my heart, not an obligation, so I choose not to read because I don’t have the right motives”

These are cunning tricks that Satan loves to employ to keep the child of God at arm’s length of their Heavenly Daddy.

John 10: 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

If the desire is not there, I understand (been there). But pray that God will soften your heart and read it anyway. If you continue to pray for God to work on your heart and read out of obligation in spite of your attitude, keep reading and the joy of His Words will come to you and the more you read the more you will enjoy it and the more you will get out of it. Then keep reading.

If you do not understand it, I get it (been there). Pray that God gives you understanding. In the meantime find a friend/elder/woman of faith that does understand and ask for assistance. But read anyway. I have a close friend that knew nothing of the Bible (was an unbeliever, but a seeker), started reading Genesis and read straight through the Old Testament which prepared his heart for the Good News of Jesus Christ. He did not understand much of what he read but he understood enough, talked with various people about it and kept reading. What excuse do you have? All believers should continue to be seekers.

Psalm 105: 4 Search for the Lord and for his strength;
continually seek him.

DO NOT LET ANYTHING, ANYONE, ANY SIN OR ANY REASON stop you from getting to know the loving and living God, the One who created you. 

This message has eternal implications and cannot be stressed enough. After all, what else is there in life worth excelling at, much less compares in importance?

The Kingdom of God is not like High School.

Matthew 13:  44 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.

With God we can’t afford to squeak by in class, going through the motions hoping He’ll give us a passing grade on judgment day. He’ll either know us, or He won’t. Do we really want to casually hope for the best? The time you spend serving in ministry is meaningless if you’re not spending the time to know Him. Where does my passion to serve come from? The heart and mind of God, or from my filthy self-righteousness?

Matthew 7: 21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

This is the difference between participating in ministry because it was just a good idea and God calling you to ministry because you heard His voice and were obedient.

If we stay in good soil, as explained above and develop the disciplines of being in His presence daily with prayer, reading, and regular fellowship, we will continue to grow. We will experience His peace, joy, and eventually all the fruits I believe. Trees don’t think about producing fruit when they keep growing, good fruit happens. Same with us, when we stay in good soil and diligently pursue Him, He will produce good fruit in us and it will just happen, right before our eyes.

I’ll leave you with a couple more verses on peace and that’ll wrap it up. Thank you for reading, I pray that you take this message to heart and seek Him with all you’ve got!

Isaiah 26:
  3 You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Psalm 46: 10a Be still, and know that I am God!

Psalm 34: 14 Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

Will you join me in seeking His peace?

“Dear Lord, thank you for this message. I pray that all who read this message take it to heart and set time for you each day so that they can get to know you a little better and understand you more.  Please help me hang in there when the situation is tough and remain steadfast in my effort to pursue you. You are the only One worth pursuing and I thank you for getting my attention. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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Why Should I Be Worried?

Why Should I Be Worried?

I don’t know about you, but I have more than a few things to worry about. Some big, some small. Some short term, some long term. A few things I have some control over and others that I have no control over. On top of that, I receive emails filled with details about additional things to worry about as if I should join the sender in their concern. There are a lot of things to worry about.

Can you relate?

If I choose to, I could worry about my car falling apart, my yard that needs mowing, a project that is really late, bills that are behind, the lack of money that is coming in and the fact that I have no health care. Oh, but that’s not all. I could also worry about my office that is a mess, or that many people, friends of mine, who struggle with little income and worse circumstances than I. While I’m at it I could also worry about our state and federal governments and everything else that is madness in the world.

My friends, all that I’ve listed here are genuinely a part of my reality.

Now I know that many of you have even longer lists than I. Some of you might be tempted to say “big deal, you think you’ve got problems, take a look at my list!” What I find fascinating is that I know people with long lists with poor circumstances that worry less than people with shorter lists and seemingly smaller issues.

Lessons I’ve learned

With this knowledge I draw these conclusions:

    1. Our worries and concerns are relative and in no way can be compared with someone else’s. People that live an “easier life” should not be put down or their problems minimized because they don’t “compare” to mine. Who am I to judge?
    2. It really is a choice to worry, but harder for some to break. I’ve been told by people that their mother worried so it became a learned habit for them, or even maybe a genetic trait, I don’t know.
    3. Some people can hide it well and some people wear it on their sleeve. Appearances can be deceiving, people don’t always “have it altogether” as you may think.
    4. Everyone’s worried about something, in various degrees. Everyone also has something to be thankful for. (Read Psalm 103)

What amazes me is that I can be out doing anything and can be in a cheerful mood when I suddenly have a worrisome thought enter my mind. If I ruminate (Beth’s word, not mine) on these thoughts without considering the sovereignty of God and His plans and purposes for my life then I’m left hopeless. It is that simple. Without God, there is no hope. If I fail to acknowledge my Creator then my cheerful mood quickly turns to despair.

1 Thessalonians 5: 16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Nothing substitutes our time spent with God

This is just one reason why it is essential to spend time with God daily in prayer, His Word, and spiritually charged fellowship regularly if we want any hope of having a joyful life regardless of the circumstances.

I think worry or fear is the absence of or lack of faith. Is God truly sovereign? Is He in control? Does He want what’s best for me?

Based on this passage from Psalm 112 I think the measure that someone worries is an indicator of how well they know their God, personally and/or intellectually.

Psalm 112:
1 Praise the Lord!
How joyful are those who fear the Lord
and delight in obeying his commands.

 6 Such people will not be overcome by evil.
Those who are righteous will be long remembered.
 7 They do not fear bad news;
they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.
8 They are confident and fearless
and can face their foes triumphantly.

This passage in 1 John says it well:

1 John 4:16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

ALL things work together…

One thing that I’ve found is that God allows us to experience “rough spots” so that we learn to depend on Him more (which is what He desires most):

Romans 8: 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

And He stretches and matures us through the process:

Romans 5: 3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Knowing this should excite us and then we can really shout with joy.

It tells us that there really is a purpose and that we’ll be better witnesses on the other end.

“Hard times”, when allowing God to work with us (remaining submissive), yields patience, compassion, joy, understanding, and perseverance. There are things you learn through difficulties that you simply cannot learn otherwise. Do you remember the book of Job?

Job was blameless from the beginning.

Job 1: 8 Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.”

He naturally went through a great period of despair. When God finally reveals Himself to Job He sets Job straight by making it abundantly clear that He is God and Job is not. What I think is really cool is how God showcased His creation to illustrate just how great He is. This humbled Job. It was this great experience with the Almighty and the revelation of things “far too wonderful” for him that led to his repentance and, after praying for His friends, concluded His test.

Job 42: 1 Then Job replied to the Lord:
2 “I know that you can do anything,
and no one can stop you.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’
It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about,
things far too wonderful for me.
4 You said, ‘Listen and I will speak!
I have some questions for you,
and you must answer them.’
5 I had only heard about you before,
but now I have seen you with my own eyes.
6 I take back everything I said,
and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”

One significant lesson to learn from Job is that being blameless is not enough.

If that is all you are seeking, you will miss out on Life Himself. What God desires most is for us to continually get to know and understand Him more which will only perfect our love and admiration for Him. This is why the greatest commandment is to “love God…” and not “Don’t sin and be blameless”. After all, it is our love for Him that ultimately gives us the power and desire to do good.

Here are some lessons from Job that will lead you to peace:

  1. Don’t count on advice or sympathy from ignorant friends, but pray for them.
  2. Spend time with people that know God personally more than you do. Usually, they are the older ones (not necessarily as in Job) at church that always seem to be full of joy.
  3. Continually strive to know God, both intellectually and personally (Bible reading, prayer, journaling to name a few activities).
  4. Do whatever it takes and pray that you stay humble and meek, keeping your heart soft.

I’m not at all suggesting that if you continue seeking God that you’ll ever be worry-free, for even Jesus was distressed in the garden of Gethsemane. What I am saying is that listening to and following these words will greatly reduce your worry, giving you peace, improving your witness and moving you towards godliness rather than bitterness.

These are great passages to memorize:

Philippians 4: 4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 6:  31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

If God, the Creator of all things seen and unseen, is for us, what do we have to worry about?

“Dear God, Let all that I am praise your name!, Thank you for teaching me so many things. My hope is in you and you alone, for you do not disappoint. Continue to lead me in your Truth so that I may grow in knowledge and understanding. Help me to know you better so that I can lean on you in dark times. You are awesome Lord and I thank you for loving me to begin with. Your loving mercies endure forever. In Jesus’ name, amen”

Take comfort from these closing words…

Job 23:
8 I go east, but he is not there.
I go west, but I cannot find him.
9 I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden.
I look to the south, but he is concealed.
10 But he knows where I am going.
And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.

 

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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Have You Got Everything Figured Out Yet?

Have You Got Everything Figured Out Yet?

2 Opinions 3: 5 Blessed are those that have everything figured out or think they do.

Don’t try to look this verse up, it’s a joke!

Does life make sense to you? Are you still trying to figure how this planet works or have you given up by now?

Let’s face it, life is confusing at times. Sometimes, just when I think I have everything all figured out, everything turns upside down. Can you relate?

Should I blame God for this confusion? I don’t think so. I believe that mankind, generally speaking, has been guided by the devil, who has pervaded our society leading us to run counter to the ways of the Lord. Sound strange?

Ephesians 2: 1 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

Jeremiah 10: 21 The shepherds of my people have lost their senses. They no longer seek wisdom from the Lord. Therefore, they fail completely, and their flocks are scattered.

Adam and Eve never had this problem, they had an intimate relationship with their Creator and it all made sense to them, that is until the deceiver showed up one day. It made sense for her to take a bite of the fruit, right? As a matter of fact, she was convinced:

Genesis 3: 4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it.

You’d think she’d know better, the devil directly contradicts God’s Instruction, she seems to be seduced by the fruit (and by Satan) and she just had to eat it, didn’t she? Does this sound familiar to you? Can you relate to this?

Proverbs 14: 12 There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.

Did it make sense for Noah to build the boat, even though it had never rained before then? (Gen. 6)

Did it make sense for Abraham, the promised father of many, to sacrifice his son? (Gen. 22)

These are both great examples of times when God asked his servants to do something that went against logic and they obeyed God.  Let’s look at an example of disobedience:

1 Samuel  13: 7 …Meanwhile, Saul stayed at Gilgal, and his men were trembling with fear. 8 Saul waited there seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didn’t come. Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away. 9 So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself.

He just couldn’t wait, could he? But how much longer?

10 Just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to meet and welcome him, 11 but Samuel said, “What is this you have done?”

Apparently not much longer; and why did he disobey?

Saul replied, “I saw my men scattering from me, and you didn’t arrive when you said you would, and the Philistines are at Micmash ready for battle. 12 So I said, ‘The Philistines are ready to march against us at Gilgal, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help!’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.”

Saul was surrounded by dreadful circumstances, but if only he could’ve waited a little longer. The message I get from this is that Saul’s heart was motivated more by fear than by God. There were miraculous events that led him to be king and he was given a golden opportunity to lead God’s chosen people and he blew it because he just couldn’t wait long enough. It’s tragic, isn’t it? But God uses this act of disobedience to set the stage for King David, one whose heart is for God.

13 “How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”

This is what I receive from this: When my heart is for God, I willfully choose to obey Him, but if my heart is hard, not wanting to submit to Him, I’d just as soon do what seems right to me and not obey Him.

This is why I think it is most crucial to do whatever we can to keep our hearts soft. I really don’t think we are much use to God when we have hard hearts. This reminds me of this:

John 15:  5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

Try telling this to your unregenerated co-worker, he’d give you the strangest looks, wouldn’t he? But for the one who desires God the most, this makes the total sense.

Proverbs 20: 24 The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?

Will you trust God to give you the sense you need to stay close to Him?

“Dear Lord, thank you for loving me and showing me the way to eternal life. Before you, Lord, my life didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but with your Word, I can see more from your perspective and I can take comfort in that. For you are sovereign and are in total control. This gives me hope. Please continue to guide me down your path Lord, the one that leads to life. In Jesus name, amen.”

 

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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How Do We Trust? part 2

How Do We Trust? part 2

Psalm 103: 13 The Lord is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
14 For he knows how weak we are;
he remembers we are only dust.

When I was six years old and my dad threw me way up in the air, it was fun, exciting, and a time of joy. I trusted him. Not once did I doubt that he would catch me. It was a sure thing. It’s what he did, toss me into the air… and pull me down. I relied on him and never thought twice about it. He was my dad and I was his boy.

What was it that led me to trust him? First of all, he was the only dad I ever knew. I had six years as his child to know him enough. Second, he never gave me a reason not to. I was just learning how to be a kid and he was big enough, strong enough, and responsible enough to handle all my needs. He was there for me and made me feel safe. As a six-year-old boy, I was at total peace in his arms. The same arms that were able to crush the boogeyman in the closet, by the way.

Can our trust in God be like this? I think so and I think He desires that more than anything.

1 Chronicles 28:  9 “And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.10 So take this seriously. …

Reading this makes me think that God intends for us to know Him more intimately than most people know their dads today. The key words here are “learn to know”.

How do we learn to know anybody? Time, attention and persistence

But who has time for relationships anymore? Could it be that the single most important activity we should be participating in has taken the lowest priority?

Jesus models for us the appropriate use of time when it comes to “spending time with His Father”:

Luke 5: 16 But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.

Mark 6:  45 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home. 46 After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray.

It appears in these last two verses that Jesus made a concerted effort to be alone with the Father, it was very important to Him.

If His own son needed to spend time with God, how much more do we need it?

Spending time with God alone is a learned habit and is developed over time. Alone time with God is not a natural activity. It is especially unusual for the newly awakened. For those fortunate enough to learn this discipline as a child or young adult, they’ve been greatly blessed with spiritual leadership in the home or church.

If you think you should spend more time with God, let’s discuss how you can overcome it. I can’t think of something more worthy of striving for, there’s only one thing worth being concerned about:

Luke 10:  39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught.40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

If it’s the case that you are not finding the time to spend with God, then everything you are finding time for is more important than God. Yes, you may have a schedule, but where is God in that schedule? The time you spend throughout the week and day to day is an indicator of the priorities that you have set. It’s that simple.

Try telling your wife that you have only five minutes to spend with her and that it will have to come after the 11 o’clock news, brushing your teeth, and before setting the alarm for the next morning.

If this sounds familiar to you, I don’t think you are alone. These five minutes was a goal I used to have and at the time I was happy to do just that. I’d still fall asleep trying to pray.

I know that God wants this time with you more than anything else you do. I am convinced that if you took the total time that you take on your Sabbath day from getting ready for church service to getting out of your church clothes and divided that time by seven to be spent each day, He would rather you spend that time alone with Him than corporately with others. Please don’t use this as an excuse not to go to church! By all means, keep it up. Just know that God values your alone time with Him more than He does as part of a group, although both are important.

For those of you that desire a better relationship with God and seek the abundant life that Jesus promises, allow me to make a suggestion.

    1. Schedule time with God during your peak hours. A time during the day that you are most alert. Set aside at least 5 minutes and adjust accordingly.
    2. Devise a plan to read the Bible. Say you wish to read the book of Romans, one chapter a day, that’s great, but what will you read after that?
    3. Know that God is present and believe that He is with you.
    4. Pray whatever is on your mind. (This is the time to give your worries to Him.)

(Click here to create a reading plan: http://www.thebibleteam.com/PlanMaker.asp)

If this plan is followed consistently over time and you take it seriously, then I am certain that you will grow and this will turn into 10-15 minutes and even more as you develop this most sacred discipline.

Psalm 105: 4 Search for the Lord and for his strength;
continually seek him.

Are you taking Him seriously?

“O God, thank you for opening my eyes to see that you desire more time with me. Lord I pray that I can be more persistent and diligent in seeking you. Thank you in advance for drawing me closer to you and leading me along your path. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Photo by Leio McLaren on Unsplash

 

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If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or “Bible Time” come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God’s Word.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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How Do We Trust?

Does trust come automatically or is it learned? Of course, it is learned.  Trust takes time.

Just because someone says “trust me”, can we trust them? For those few people in our lives that we can trust, the people we say we can “count on” when things are tough, how was that trust developed? I am sure that those people have shown themselves to be trustworthy, over time. Perhaps they have come through for you like when your car broke down, or when you needed help with a personal emergency.

But what about those times that require more than human help? What about a terminal illness or a dire financial situation? I’m sure you know where I’m going with this. Certainly, God is there for us when we need Him, but although we know this intellectually, do we know in our heart that we can trust Him?

Psalm 9: 10 Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.

I think this verse says so succinctly what I’m trying to say. “Those who know your name trust in you”. Reading about trusting in God or listening to your pastor about trusting God is one thing, but actually trusting in God personally is a completely different matter.

Pray or just pay?

When money seems like the obvious or only solution, do we reach for the credit card or do we wait on God and seek His advice? The problem is if we always seem to “figure it out”, there is no way for us to learn how to trust in Him. This is why I think He sometimes leads us down a path so that we have no choice but to trust in Him. How does this work? Let’s review the story of Elijah and the widow at Zarephath:

1 Kings 7: 8 Then the Lord said to Elijah, 9 “Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you.”

10 So he went to Zarephath. As he arrived at the gates of the village, he saw a widow gathering sticks, and he asked her, “Would you please bring me a little water in a cup?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called to her, “Bring me a bite of bread, too.”

12 But she said, “I swear by the Lord your God that I don’t have a single piece of bread in the house. And I have only a handful of flour left in the jar and a little cooking oil in the bottom of the jug. I was just gathering a few sticks to cook this last meal, and then my son and I will die.”

God tells Isaiah to visit the widow, so he goes. Isaiah asks for some bread, and as far as she’s concerned she has just enough for one more meal, then she and her son will die.

“You’re asking me for bread???”

 13 But Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and do just what you’ve said, but make a little bread for me first. Then use what’s left to prepare a meal for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!”

15 So she did as Elijah said, and she and Elijah and her son continued to eat for many days. 16There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah.

So Elijah reassures the woman and says that there will always be enough until the crops grow again. So that’s what happens. She lives through this somewhat miraculous time while her needs are being met day by day and they get through it. But then something happens:

17 Some time later the woman’s son became sick. He grew worse and worse, and finally he died.18 Then she said to Elijah, “O man of God, what have you done to me? Have you come here to point out my sins and kill my son?”

Her son dies.

She’s distraught and questions the man of God altogether. It doesn’t make sense. He comes there, she witnesses the daily miracles, and then her son dies? Why God? Elijah is clueless as well…

19 But Elijah replied, “Give me your son.” And he took the child’s body from her arms, carried him up the stairs to the room where he was staying, and laid the body on his bed. 20 Then Elijah cried out to the Lord, “O Lord my God, why have you brought tragedy to this widow who has opened her home to me, causing her son to die?”

21 And he stretched himself out over the child three times and cried out to the Lord, “O Lord my God, please let this child’s life return to him.” 22 The Lord heard Elijah’s prayer, and the life of the child returned, and he revived! 23 Then Elijah brought him down from the upper room and gave him to his mother. “Look!” he said. “Your son is alive!”

The non-believer is blessed by God through the believer and only after seeing her son die does God have a chance to work so that this happens…

24 Then the woman told Elijah, “Now I know for sure that you are a man of God, and that the Lord truly speaks through you.”

She’s now a believer!

God has revealed Himself to her and she has a great testimony. I love this. In this process of the woman becoming a believer, Elijah is strengthened and encouraged by the whole event. I think that the daily miracle of just having food to eat prepared the woman for what was to come.

Mark 4: 39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”

God allowed the child to die just as He allows the storms to come into our lives so that we may see Him at work in our lives, learn to trust in Him, and also that those around us will know that He is God.

Exodus 14:18 When my glory is displayed through them, all Egypt will see my glory and know that I am the Lord!”

Do those around you know that He is the Lord?

“O Lord, thank you for what you are doing in my life. I don’t understand all that you are doing and you know that I get frustrated at times and ask ‘why?’. Please be patient with me as I continue to learn and get to know you more. For you are God and I am a mere human. Lead me down your perfect and pleasing path so that the people you have put in my life will know that you are God. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Photo by Leio McLaren on Unsplash

 

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If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or “Bible Time” come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God’s Word.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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