Who Embraces a God Like our God of Forgiveness and Mercy? Micah 7:18-20

Micah 7:18-20Amplified Bible

18 
Who is a God like You, who forgives wickedness
And passes over the rebellious acts of the remnant of His possession?
He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He [constantly] delights in mercy and lovingkindness.
19 
He shall again have compassion on us;
He will subdue and tread underfoot our wickedness [destroying sin’s power].
Yes, You will cast all our sins
Into the depths of the sea.
20 
You shall give truth to Jacob
And lovingkindness and mercy to Abraham,
As You have sworn to our forefathers
From the days of old.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Sometimes words are just not enough. God’s creation – it leaves you speechless.

Your spouse’s strength of character – it bears no comparison.

Your child’s imagination, laughter, growth, maturity – it tests your vocabu­lary.

Sometimes words can’t ever say enough.

The prophet Micah understood that concept as well.

His prophecy alternates between visions of doom and hope.

In chapter 7 he starts with a very bleak picture: “What misery is mine! … The godly have been swept from the land; not one upright man remains” (vv. 1, 2).

The prophet sees both Israel and Judah in need of ref­ormation.

Both kingdoms were living in affluence, which produced self­ish materialism.

Morals floundered, and corruption abounded.

Exile was awaiting.

Yet Micah does not despair but can end his prophecy with such great hope.

He sees that God will graciously forgive his people and restore her fortunes, and this puts Micah over the moon – All he can really say is, “Who is a God like you?”

What a beautiful question!

This exclamation is a play on the meaning of Micah’s own name: “Who is like Yahweh?”

Micah’s question is one that other nations – Egyptians, Babylon­ians, Assyrians –also asked as a way of praising their gods.

Yet Micah by no means implies that there are other gods.

The one and only God is 100% incomparable because of his forgiving character!

“Who is a God like you, who par­dons sin?”

Another way of reading this is, “Who is a God like you, who carries away sin?”

We come across that phrase in Leviticus 16, concerning the Day of Atonement.

Aaron the high priest was to lay his hands on the head of the live goat, confess all the iniquities of Is­rael over it, thereby transfer those iniquities to the goat.

Leviticus 16:22 says, “The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place.” 

Through the high priest the Lord transferred the burden of Israel’s guilt to another, and that substitute carried away all Israel’s sin and guilt.

And that’s what Micah is getting at.

God “pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance.”

In mercy Yahweh pre­served for himself a remnant, and he forgives that remnant!

This applies to us today as the church of Christ.

When you consider forgiving the people who have hurt you, you must always consider how much Jesus has forgiven you!

You don’t deserve His love and can never earn it.

He forgave you because He is a merciful, gracious God.

Because you have already been forgiven of ALL your sins and set free, you must forgive others by becoming so transparent that His mercy and grace will radiate through every aspect of your life.

You are never to be a giver of condemnation but always a giver of mercy.

Mercy is distinctly different from forgiveness because God is merciful to us even when you don’t sin, just as you can be merciful to those who have never done anything against you.

God’s mercy doesn’t just forgive your failures and faults but reaches deep into all your weakness and need.

His attitude toward you is merciful.

We are his possession by grace.

We don’t deserve forgiveness and salvation.

But it has been promised to God’s family, God’s inheritance, in Christ!

And it is given only to those who, like Micah, are deeply sorrowful over their sins, and cry out for forgiveness.

Micah’s song of praise continues: “You do not stay angry forever.” 

The remnant would experience the judg­ment and punishment of the Lord.

But marvel upon marvel, the Lord does not hold onto his anger.

So, the people of God could look away from their time of judgment and toward the Lord.

They could rejoice that this was just tempor­ary. “You do not stay angry forever, but you delight to show mercy.”

This is all very remarkable.

Micah is saying that the Lord acts this way

– God carries away our sins,

– God forgives our rebellion, shows his mercy

be­cause that’s just who he is.

It kind of leaves us scratching our heads and asking, “Why is he that way?”

The only answer we get is, “It is my delight to do it this way!” 

Our God, by his very nature, is so very ready to forgive sinners.

That leaves us dumbstruck at the forgiving character of our God.

We see God’s forgiving charac­ter especially in his Son.

The words Micah uses in verse 18 are also used for the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. Verses 10-12,

Yet it was the Lord’s will (pleasure!) to crush him and cause him to suffer … Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, be­cause he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgres­sors. For he bore (carried away) the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

The LORD God does not wink at sin.

He offered the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ.

He came to take our sin outside the city, to the cross of Golgotha.

He shared in our sins.

That is just who Christ is.

It moves us to bow our heads, bend our spirits to say, “Who is a God like you?”

Do you see his incredible mercy for sinners?

Mercy is also related to grace.

Grace is what saves you – mercy is what sustains you.

Mercy eliminates the pain; grace cures the disease.

Mercy offers relief from punishment; grace offers pardon from the crime.

Mercy is a word you will hear used in the legal system.

After the conviction has been made, the jury has unanimously declared the persons guilt, the sentence is about to be handed down, MERCY is begged for.

The Hebrew word for mercy is “chesed”

which means to get inside someone’s skin,

to look at where they view life and feel what they are experiencing; to move in and act on behalf of the one whose hurting.

That is exactly what Jesus did when He chose to leave the indescribable comfort and glory of Heaven to become one of us.

Mercy has also been defined as the giving of compassionate treatment, having the disposition to be kind and forgiving when kindness and forgiveness are not your first thoughts, would not define or characterize any of your first actions.

As God gives you a fresh start each new day, so should you reach beyond the pain and give to those who have hurt you a fresh start through your forgiveness.

Mercy is forgiveness soaked in the life blood of Jesus, soaked in the love of God.

Every day, when you forgive, the anger, bitterness, resentment and pain that you feel from the wrong suffered at the hands of another is weakened.

It’s only through the giving of mercy that our emotional wounds will be healed.

If you do not show mercy and forgive the unforgivable you may never find total and complete healing for your spirit, mind and body.

Right in this exact moment, do you see your God is ever ready to give mercy?

Right in this exact moment, do you see that your God is ever ready to forgive?

Only when you fully see all these can you genuinely embrace a holy fear of our awesome God, only then can you wor­ship him truly, in utter speechlessness.

This is the God whom we adore.

Cherish and embrace his mercy for repentant sinners!

Cherish and embrace his forgiveness for repentant sinners!

Cherish God as God cherishes you!

Embrace God as God embraces you!

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Loving Heavenly Father, Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy forgiveness and mercy which you have shown. You have loved me with immeasurable love. You are love. I pray that I will be strengthened in my inner being – in my soul – with the love that is wider than I can understand, deeper than I am able to imagine, and greater than I could ever know. As You encourage and embolden my life, may I more fully know the mystery of the Gospel as revealed through my life. In the love of Christ, I pray. Amen.

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Embracing Forgiveness. Choosing only to Embrace the Grace, the Embrace of ABBA, our Father God. Matthew 6:14-15

Matthew 6:14-15Amplified Bible

14 For if you forgive [a]others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others [nurturing your hurt and anger with the result that it interferes with your relationship with God], then your Father will not forgive your trespasses.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

I believe most people have arrived at the conclusion that it is utterly impossible as human beings to avoid somehow and, in some way, offending others by our words, or lack of words and being offended by others, when we are still alive.

And, while we do not have the ability to control how others feel or act when they somehow feel offended by us, we do very much have free will over our own lives to decide how we will react or will not react when allegedly offended by others.

Our making the choice – Forgiving others wholeheartedly is the definite secret of a happy and prolonged relationship in all facets of life: in our family, in our work, at school, in Church, community, neighborhoods, mission and ministry.

It is definitely not easy to forgive others, but it’s what Jesus commands us to do.

Even if the other person is not really sorry, even if we are not very sorry about our actions, we still have to forgive sincerely in order to fulfil the will of God.

Matthew 6:14-15Easy-to-Read Version

14 Yes, if you forgive others for the wrongs they do to you, then your Father in heaven will also forgive your wrongs. 15 But if you don’t forgive others, then your Father in heaven will not forgive the wrongs you do.

Jesus’ teaching here at the end of the Lord’s Prayer might be confusing.

It almost sounds as if we have to earn God’s forgiveness by forgiving others.

So, we definitely need heavy dose of a different kind of thought process here.

Ephesians 4:30-32Amplified Bible

30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [but seek to please Him], by whom you were sealed and marked [branded as God’s own] for the day of redemption [the final deliverance from the consequences of sin]. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor [perpetual animosity, resentment, strife, fault-finding] and slander be put away from you, along with every kind of malice [all spitefulness, verbal abuse, malevolence]. 32 Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave [a]you.

I envision about any kitchen sponge that has not been used for a long time.

When you put it under the tap, at first the water runs right over the sponge.

But if you set that old sponge in a bucket of ­water for a few minutes, it will gradually and inevitably transform, will soften and becomes usable again.

Our own hearts and our souls and our spirits can be, can become like that too.

When we hold onto new resentments and old bitterness’s, nursing our anger, hugging old grudges close to our chests, hearts can become as hard as a rock, and God’s grace for us will be like water running over a rock – it won’t soak in.

At this point – someone needs to get on our case – come into our throne rooms and disrupt our lives, disrupt our dysfunctional patterns of behaving, thinking.

We are not hiding anything from God – but we are trying to – and this will most definitely get big time God’s attention – God will send someone – guaranteed!

That moment of confrontation will inevitably occur – someone will arrive and will get up inside our personal space – then we will have to make some serious choices – push that other person back out the door they entered or “get God!”

Reckon ourselves with our actions – then reckon, reason things out with God:

Psalm 51:1-12English Standard Version

Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

51 Have mercy on me,[a] O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
    and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
    and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
    and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right[b] spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.

But when we are “pried” open by our remembrance of God’s forgiveness of us, we are “exposed” to forgiving others, we become soft like a moistened sponge.

God, our Father’s boundless and bottomless grace soaks in and saturates the entirety of our hearts, and we become abundantly available to share his grace.

Just as a wet sponge moistens other things when it touches them, we can share grace, the blood of Christ helping to wipe others’ dirt away as we forgive others.

Dying to our accumulated resentment, anger, and bitterness softens our hearts to receive God’s all-encompassing amazing grace, to share it freely with others.

Psalm 103:11-13English Standard Version

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so, the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

Why should any of this matter – of what relevance – of what significance to me?

The question of genuine forgiveness is one of eternal importance and relevance.

And why is it, you may ask, so crucial that Christians forgive?

For starters, Jesus’ statement in today’s text is quite a compelling reason, for “if you do not forgive others…neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Suffice it to say then, we had better make sure we are forgiving “our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).

Here’s the bottom line: forgiveness is such a central element to Christianity that it is an indicator of salvation!

Not that we are saved by any works of our own, such as forgiving others, but that when we are reconciled to God through the lifeblood of our Savior Jesus Christ, our new life will be eternally marked by grace giving and forgiveness.

Remember, our unrighteousness was exchanged for Jesus’ righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21), our wrong for His 100% right, our injustice for His justice.

God meets our enfeebled efforts at rebellion and pride with His matchless grace in and through the person and work of our only Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Those to whom grace is extended should also extend grace, and those to whom forgiveness is extended should also extend forgiveness.

Forgive as you have been forgiven.

Not because it’s easy, but because it’s at the very exact core of who you are in Christ.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Dear Lord, search my heart. Reveal to me any remaining burs of hurt where I have attempted to forgive apart from You. I pray You would cover these hurts in Your healing grace, and through Your strength, empower me to forgive others as wholly and completely and utterly as You first forgave me. In Savior Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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In God we will Trust though the earth gives way beneath our feet, the winds blow and the houses crumble into the heart of the sea, we will still not fear!

The earth was once an empty place!

Chaos was everywhere or as one translation puts it; the earth was a total wasteland. It was filled with darkness.

And in the darkness, the Spirit of God moved to prepare for God’s creative work.

The Lord is a Creator!

God is a God of order!

For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God.” Hebrews 3:4.

God took a mess of chaos and made it orderly.

From ugliness emerged beauty.

Chaos is replaced by order.

Purpose takes the place of emptiness.

God transformed darkness into light.

Are things falling apart around you?

Life rarely turns out the way we’ve planned.

We all have those times when life seems to take an unexpected turn and we wonder what to do.

Perhaps there is a problem in your relationships?

Are you facing difficulties at work or is it unemployment?

Do you have a health issue?

Are you experiencing a crisis in your ministry, business, or family?

Has your house quite literally collapsed around you?

Has your house quite literally fallen into the sea?

There’s no cause for alarm.

You’re not alone!

The Holy Spirit is present with you.

Your life may seem to be without purpose, but God’s there to turn it around.

He’ll never leave you or forsake you.

So be conscious of His presence everyday!

The presence of God gives us inward peace and joy even though our external circumstances may be turbulent.

Be still and place your hope in Him.

Psalm 46:1-3Amplified Bible

God the Refuge of His People.

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah, set to soprano voices. A Song.

46 God is our refuge and strength [mighty and impenetrable],
A very present and well-proved help in trouble.

Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains be shaken and slip into the heart of the seas,

Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains tremble at its roaring. Selah.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

The ancient cities were often protected by large surrounding walls and imposing gates.

Inside the walls was peace and a safe atmosphere where commerce could thrive.

God is our fortress!

The Lord is our refuge.

He is the constant and consistent place of refuge and safety in the times of trouble.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.

There is not a promise in the Bible that says we’ll be free from troubles.

Yet those whose confidence is in the Lord have nothing to be afraid of.

Fear is a faith killer!

When a believer is afraid, it means he does not trust God enough to bring him or her out of trouble.

To act on our fear is to act as though the problem is bigger than the Almighty God.

But the truth is, there is nothing too big for Him.

“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace…….” 1 Corinthians 14:33.

The Online Dictionary defines chaos as, “A condition or place of great disorder or confusion.”

It is a state of havoc.

Chaos is discord.

It is a state of anarchy and lawlessness.

Chaos is a state of mess.

It is mayhem.

Chaos is disruption.

It is a state of disturbance.

Chaos is turbulence.

It is a state of pandemonium.

Nothing flourishes in a state of chaos.

Chaos takes away your joy and peace of mind.

But God is a God of order and not chaos.

PERFECT PEACE:

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3.

Everyone desires peace.

We want peace in our mind, marriage, business, circumstances and ministry.

But God has something much better for us! His agenda is for us to experience His perfect peace every day.

“Peace, I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27.

The world defines peace as ‘a concept of friendship and harmony in the absence of strife, hostility and attack.’

It is a lack of conflict.

Peace is the handshake between two enemies.

It is the laying down of arms.

Peace is the lack of trouble.

It is freedom from the fear of violence between individuals or groups.

So human peace is based on feelings and circumstances!

It is conditional upon the fulfillment of a certain assumption.

Worldly peace is not permanent!

In every generation, there has always been treaties made to hopefully ensure world peace, yet so many times these treaties are violated and short lived.

But God always has His own better alternative.

The Hebrew word for peace is shalom which means ‘calm, tranquility, serenity, harmony, wholeness, completeness, and wellness.’

Shalom is an inner sense of contentment and quietness, regardless of the circumstances.

Perfect peace is internal stability!

You may be in the midst of the worst kind of trouble and still have peace.

It is irrelevant to the chaos around.

Perfect peace is calmness and reassurance in the midst of conflict.

Perfect peace is not the absence of a storm but the ability to remain calm in spite of the hopeless situation.

It is the calm of mind and heart that isn’t shaken by adversity.

Perfect peace is to be joyful in the midst of unhappiness.

It is not a trouble-free life; perfect peace is serene in the midst of difficulties.

Perfect peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7.

So, how can we stay calm when there seems to be turmoil all around?

In a broken world, how can we find stability?

How do you keep calm when things aren’t going the way you want them to?

1. Seek peace with God.

Sin makes us enemies of God but the blood of the righteousness of Christ brings us peace with Him.

It is therefore important that we seek peace with God.

Are you still living in sin?

Have you encountered the Lord Jesus?

Are you saved and living a life pleasing to God?

Perfect peace begins when we enter into relationship with God through Christ.

So, fix your broken relationship with God first. Proverb 16:7.

2. Remember the goodness of the Lord.

“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:” Psalm 103:2.

God knows our tendency to forget.

That is why He is adamant that we should be intentional about remembering His goodness.

It’s good to look back and praise God for His presence, power, provision, and the people He has placed in our life.

Forgetting leads to unbelief and discouragement.

Remembering helps us overcome fear.

It fuels thanksgiving, praise and worship.

Spend time daily reflecting on God’s goodness. Psalm 77:11-12.

3. Take it to God in prayer.

Until you cast all your burdens on the Lord, you may not know perfect peace. Prayer will stay your mind on God and fill your thoughts with His peace.

“In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.” Psalm 18:6.

Take everything to God in prayers, pray without ceasing and let the peace of God reign in your heart. Colossians 3:15.

4. Read and Meditate on the Word of God.

God wants us to fill our hearts constantly with His Word.

When a crisis comes up, He wants His Word to be so deeply rooted and firmly established in our hearts that we will automatically react to what His Word says instead of reacting with fear. Psalm 112:6-8.

Turn to the Scriptures for fresh spiritual nourishment each day.

5. Guard your heart.

We often relinquish the peace that God has given us by the words that we allow to come out of our mouths when we are under stress.

So, control your tongue!

You and I will never enjoy perfect peace unless you learn to control it.

In other to control your tongue you need to guard what goes into your heart and what you believe in.

The information you feed into your mind determines what you believe.

So, if your heart is troubled, it means you’re looking at, and feeding in, the wrong information.

If your heart is full of worry, fear and doubt, in the times of crisis, it will bring forth words of defeat.

If your heart is full of the Word of God, your tongue will constantly speak it.

6. Give thanks.

A lifestyle of continuous thanksgiving, praise and worship keeps us in perfect peace.

Paul and Silas had peace in the prison; they gave thanks to God at the midnight season of their lives.

Although this may be the last thing you feel like doing in times of yet it’s what God first requires of us.

You can keep a bright outlook in the midst of crisis.

You can have peace when there’s trouble and chaos all around.

The Joy of the Lord is your strength.

7. Win the battle over worry.

Worry is the chief robber of peace.

It prevents you from lying down and sleeping in peace at night.

So, whenever a troubling thought shows up in your mind, pray about it.

Give it to God, and step forward in faith as He leads you.

Ask Him to exchange your worries for peace.

Don’t let your worries grow into fear.

8. Place your trust in God.

Even when you don’t understand why He has allowed certain challenges, you can trust His love and purpose.

Shift your focus away from your circumstances.

God is bigger than your challenges and is able to help you.

9. Get rid of bitterness.

Refuse to hold onto anger and resentment.

Flush out the poison of bitterness.

Choose to forgive as an act of your will, despite your feelings.

Trust God to bring about justice rather than wasting your time and energy trying to get revenge.

A vengeful attitude is a cancer of the mind.

It destroys joy and peace.

Be willing to pray for the people you’re forgiving, and act in love toward them.

Enjoy the freedom that forgiveness gives.

11. Don’t give up!

Remember that God is not through with you yet.

Wait on God to complete His good work in your life.

Keep placing your hope in God and finding your strength in Him.

12. Be still.

“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10.

The original Hebrew word used for being still is Raphah.

It means for us to stop striving, to cause yourself to let go and to willingly submit ourselves wholly unto God and his control, surrender to God, to stop worrying, to relax or to be quiet.

When we’re still with God we become small, He becomes big. (John 3:29-30)

When we become smaller, we place less and less trust in ourselves.

We begin to put our trust in Him.

When we’re still God’s gentle whispers are heard.

We will have perfect peace of mind when we stop striving.

“I have set the Lord always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope.” Psalm 16:8-9.

In this world we will have troubles.

You may be in a situation right now where everything around you seem to be falling apart.

Maybe it is your ministry, career, health, or business or whole life.

Perhaps there’s a crisis within your family.

Sometimes the challenges of life shake us off balance, blowing us to and fro in ways that we never expected.

But God doesn’t want us to live stressed out!

He wants us to live a life of rest and peace.

It’s the will of God that we stand firm in faith and unshaken in the storms of life.

We should not be afraid, agitated, and intimidated when trouble comes.

God is our Rock and Refuge!

He is our Strength and Shield!

With Him by our side, we’ll not be shaken.

So, pray! and stand firm, be still read your Bibles and be at peace!

When you’re at peace, you’re displaying your unconditional faith in God.

If you focus on Him, you won’t be moved by circumstances.

The mind that is stayed on God is always calm.

You will be renewed and refreshed!

When you release your burdens to the Lord, you’ll find rest for your weary soul.

When you prioritize your thoughts on God, you’ll experience His perfect peace.

“10 For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, But My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,” Says the Lord, who has mercy on you.” Isaiah 54:10.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

PRAYER POINTS:

1. Father, thank You for always being with me in the times of trouble, in Jesus name.

2. O Lord, teach me how to find Your presence in the midst of uncertainty, in Jesus name.

3. Father, help me to turn away from my circumstances and enable me to be still, in Jesus name.

4. O Lord, help me to stay steadfast in my faith, in Jesus name.

5. I will not allow my heart to be troubled, but I will trust in God, in Jesus name.

6. O Lord, help me to stand firm. Help my heart not to be troubled, in Jesus name.

7. Thank You, Lord, for answering my prayers.

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How To Have Faith in God When Life Gets Tough – Building Up Our House, Hearing God’s Words. Matthew 7:24

Matthew 7:24-27Amplified Bible

The Two Foundations

24 “So everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, will be like a wise man [a far-sighted, practical, and sensible man] who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods and torrents came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not do them, will be like a foolish (stupid) man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods and torrents came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great and complete was its fall.”

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

In our Gospel narrative story of the wise and foolish builders, Jesus explains that it’s not enough to hear God’s Word.

We also have to put it into practice.

We need to live, love and breathe in and breathe out the choice: obey the Lord and seek to follow and to serve him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.

Picture the two kinds of people in the illustrations Jesus gives here.

Both hear his words, but one puts them into practice and the other does not.

One hears and obeys; the other hears and ignores.

Both have had the same basic instruction.

But while one follows the proven practice of building on a firm foundation, the other ignores that wisdom and builds a house that has no foundation at all.

Jesus is using a simple illustration that even children can understand.

Among his listeners, everyone knew that only a fool would try to build a house without a foundation.

A house like that would fall apart in the path of a heavy storm.

But a house with a firm foundation would withstand many storms.

Similarly, Jesus was saying, we must put God’s words into practice.

The only way to build a life that will last is to base it on the firm foundation of God and his Word.

As the psalmist had said many years earlier, “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge” (Psalm 18:2).

As we consider these Words of God today, in truth, how well can we say that?

As we faithfully ponder and meditate upon these Words of God today, in truth, how much faith-filled faith do we choose to have and exercise in these days?

It’s easy to have faith in God when things are going well.

But what about when life gets tough, and it feels like He’s nowhere to be found?

Here are 3 ways to exercise our hearts, souls and minds to build a foundation of strong, enduring faith in God when life inevitably, subtly, suddenly gets hard.

Faith In God Through Prayer

First things first: pray.

Proverbs 27:17Amplified Bible

17 
As iron sharpens iron,
So, one man sharpens [and influences] another [through discussion].

Talk to God like you would a friend.

Tell Him what’s going on and how you’re feeling.

Connect and engage and relate with God! Ask for his help and guidance.

Prayer will connect us with God even when we are feeling lost or alone.

He is a God who hears us.

Study Scripture, Increase Your Faith

Another thing which has helped me maintain my faith is studying Scripture.

There are so many passages and verses throughout the Bible that offer comfort and hope in times of trouble.

When I’m struggling, I will often turn to familiar passages like Psalm 46:1-3:

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam and the mountains tremble with its tumult.”

These “go to” verses reminds me that no matter the severity of what happens, God my Father is always going to be with me, and he will never leave me alone.

Get Moving and Get Serving

Finally, we build our faith by choosing to move forward and serving others.

When I am outwardly focused on helping others, it helps me zoom out.

My fears become dim and more distant. My troubles gradually become small.

When we actively partner with the Holy Spirit, we see just how big our God is.

Jesus Didn’t Promise Easy

In John 16:33b, Jesus said:

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Inevitably life will certainly become hard—but in the end, Jesus always wins.

And so do we.

1 Corinthians 15:57-58Amplified Bible

57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory [as conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord [always doing your best and doing more than is needed], being continually aware that your labor [even to the point of exhaustion] in the Lord is not futile nor wasted [it is never without purpose].

By disciplining ourselves, we build our houses – praying, studying Scripture, serving others, we will stay connected to God even when we feel lost or alone.

Let’s not only hear the Word, but also obey it.

In God’s strength we can build houses which will withstand whatever comes!

In God’s strength we can build churches which will withstand whatever comes!

In God’s strength we can build up and we can edify God’s Neighborhood which will withstand whatever comes.

Whether sunshine or rain, whether severest droughts or mightiest hurricanes, with God on our side, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us!

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

My Father, You are the author and sustainer of my soul. Lord, I thank You for the strength that You give. Through Your Scriptures, You embolden me with courage and cause me to stand upright. I am so grateful for Your presence in my life. In all of life, may I turn to You for an increase in these qualities. Keep me from looking within myself or to sources other than You. I thank You in the name of the Son. Amen.

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Being the Content Christian: Keep Calm, Carry On! Philippians 4:11-13

Philippians 4:11-13 Amplified Bible

11 Not that I speak from [any personal] need, for I have learned to be content [and self-sufficient through Christ, satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or uneasy] regardless of my circumstances. 12 I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need. 13 I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Contentment was a powerful word to the Greek-speaking people of Paul’s day.

To be content literally means “to find everything you need within yourself.”

Many teachers in that day believed contentment was the greatest virtue.

But their version of contentment was based on their self-accomplishment.

To become content, they taught, a person had to be able to provide completely and fully and utterly everything for himself or herself.

Paul knew that it was a myth to think that a human being can be completely self-sustaining – but it did not stop him from zealously, over zealously, trying.

And yet here within our passage from Philippians chapter 4, he looks deeply within himself and joyfully finds that everything he needs is there within him.

How did it get there?

God weaved it there even before he was born (Psalm 139:13-18).

God’s own Spirit had already begun living inside of Paul.

This contentment provided by the Spirit of God gave Paul tremendous freedom.

He goes on to say sometimes his physical needs have been met, and sometimes they have not been met.

But even when he has not had enough food, clothing, money, or other basic needs, he still found God’s peace and strength have been present within him.

I just realized something – You know what’s great about being a Christian?

Christian Life comes with a survival kit.

In all the roller coaster twists and turns and hiccups and hang-ups of life, we have a trusty and handy source of strength which can get us through it all.

Of course, I’m referring to the strength we find in our Lord and Savior Jesus.

The life of Saul the Master Pharisee, The Apostle Paul, serves as an excellent example in these perilous seasons of surviving everything life throws his way.

12 I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need.

Please entertain this question – What hadn’t Paul been through in his life?

At the top of his Profession as a learned and educated, influential Pharisee.

Trained and mentored by Israel’s greatest Rabbi of that time – Gamaliel …

He was the “go to Pharisee” – the #1 expert in the Law and its applications.

He had great power and influence with the Temple Authorities to pursue the “new followers” of Jesus to the ends of the earth and arrest, imprison them.

Everyone knew you didn’t get in his way – the price of such action was severe.

Then at the peak of his greatness, his power and his influence, he encountered the Resurrected Jesus on the Damascus Road and stopped cold in his own tracks.

Suddenly, he was quite literally blinded.

In less than an instant, he was made utterly helpless.

For three days he fasted and prayed – not knowing whether or not help would ever arrive, if he would ever see again, if he would be reduced to blind begging.

From the very pinnacles of success, from the top of living then thrust straight to the bottom at the snap of someone else’s finger – someone he did not know.

He no longer had his great power or his vast influence over the people.

In an instant, he was now virtually “untouchable” ……

And he was still “alive” – trying to sort out what or who was coming next!

Can we begin to place ourselves into his mounting levels of stress and anxiety?

Suddenly thrust into the unknown – he was utterly helpless as a newborn baby.

He had to “figure out” how to live in a world which he could not see and may never see again – waiting for someone, anyone, to offer him a little charity.

He did not know who he could rely on for whatever assistance was going to be required for meeting his hourly and daily needs – food, clothing, and shelter.

Then, suddenly within his blindness, Paul received a vision – Acts 9:12

Then a man named Ananias, a man called by Jesus from his life of contentment, suddenly came to his bedside – touched Paul’s eyes and healed him – “In the name of JESUS CHRIST, Be Healed” and Saul/Paul’s sight was literally restored.

Then he received meat and was strengthened ….

Sight restored Paul took up residence with the disciples who were at Damascus.

After Three Days of Prayer and Fasting – Jesus redeemed his life from the Pit.

Psalm 40:1-2

40 I waited patiently and expectantly for the Lord;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry.

He brought me up out of a horrible pit [of tumult and of destruction], out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock, steadying my footsteps and establishing my path.

Humbled to the maximum, he began to proclaim Jesus in the Synagogues ….

Acts 9:17-20

17 So Ananias left and entered the house, and he laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came [to Damascus], has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit [in order to proclaim Christ to both Jews and Gentiles].” 18  Immediately something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized; 19 and he took some food and was strengthened.

Saul Begins to Preach Christ

For several days [afterward] Saul remained with the disciples who were at Damascus. 20 And immediately he began proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “This Man is the Son of God [the promised Messiah]!”

Now, several years later, after who knows how many beatings and hardships,

He wrote today’s devotional Bible Passage from “house arrest” a Roman Prison.

How’s that progression for setting the example for us in 2022, learning how to be content no matter what pinnacles and “valleys of death” life sends our way?

Verse 13 is often used more on a regular basis by than the previous two verses: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13).

I especially love the fact that this verse is written in direct support of “I can be content in any situation.”

So often we isolate verse 13 and we apply it to only encourage us to believe we can do the impossible because Christ strengthens us, which I am 100% all for.

However, sometimes we need to remember that this strength from Christ is not the strength to rip car doors off their hinges or to lift tractors or to lift boulders.

That strength comes from within from crazy high levels of Adrenaline when we are under an acute level of stress – following car accidents so to rescue a person.

The strength of Christ Paul talks about here in verse 13 is to help us manage the long concourse of our workdays, survive thru our toughest day to day activities.

Paul says he can remain content no matter what the circumstances are around him – he had absolute confidence, faith, hope, love and trust in Jesus his Savior.

Paul is saying the presence of the Holy Spirit within him would get him through any and all experiences – no matter how potentially catastrophic the situation.

I do not pretend to know what is going on in your life now but think about it.

The Apostle Paul wrote these words while he was locked away in a prison.

And even while captured, he wrote to people he never met about rejoicing and being full of joy (Philippians 4:4)!

I heard a preacher once say,

“You’re either in a storm, just got out of one, or about to enter one.”

That can sound daunting at first, but realistically we all know change and difficulty happen at a moment’s notice and even without a moment’s notice.

Anything can change for the better or for the worse at the snap of a finger.

Self-Related, Family Related. Work Related, Financially Related and Medically.

Like Saul who became Paul, we still have to work out the details of how we are going to actually live and navigate ourselves through these very trying times.

Koinonia Fellowship, Prayer, Fasting and Bible Study are all critically essential.

Connection and Relationship with God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – are our absolute #1 priority – drawing from the strength which we simply will not have.

Through Jesus, we can breathe easy, rest confidently because we can handle it.

How ever gentle or severe or even catastrophic our hiccups, our let downs or our hang-ups, the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus gives us additional strength.

And he is with us before, after, and during the bad parts in our lives (Psalm 121).

When the winds of change blow, whether a gentle breeze or hurricane force winds, or unsearchable troubles are on the horizon, or everything goes swimmingly, know Christ has your back and will be your source of strength to keep calm and carry on!

In the name and strength of God, the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Heavenly Father, giver of every good and perfect gift, thank You for this example of generous giving and of gracious receiving. I pray that I may be content in all things, whether I have much or little, but I also pray that You will prompt me give of what I have, when others are in need, not out of obligation but out of love for You. Thank You that all good and perfect things come from You, and may I be a good steward of all I have… and by your strength, trust You for all I need – in Jesus’ name, AMEN.

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The Absolute Surety of God’s Love for Us. What More is there for us to say? What More is there for us to do now? 1 John 4:7-21

This probably comes as no surprise to you, but since covid-19 rearranged so many of our lives and schedules, we have changed how much time we spend looking at a screen, whether it’s a tv, smartphone, laptop, or computer screen.

As a whole, we are spending a significant amount of time on these devices.

With that increased usage comes an increase in our exposure to hateful and divisive behaviors.

Anger, violence, and unrest that is posted to social media platforms only reflects and magnifies the anger, violence, and unrest in our communities.

With all of this unrest in our global communities, some people may reasonably wonder exactly where God is in all of this.

Others are max tempted to question the quality and quantity of God’s goodness.

They might ask,

They might shout,

They might scream at the top of their collective lungs,

They might march in the streets, raising high signs of protest and indignation,

“If God is so good, then how can He allow all of this hate and violence to exist?

But just because there is human hatred and violence in our presence, this in no way negates God’s goodness and love.

You see, the world’s concept of love cannot hope to compare with God’s love.

I am referring to God’s love that was on display when He gave His one and only Son to die on the cross for the sins of the world.

We can’t do anything to deserve God’s love, but He loves us anyway.

God’s love abides forever, and He wants us to be sure of His love for us.

Today we will be using 1 John 4 for our focal passage.

John has already spoken to us twice on the theme of love as we looked at his writings in 1 John chapters 2 and 3.

Now he was dealing with the topic for the third time.

It is critically important here to know this about Scripture: when Scripture addresses a matter even once, it is important, but when God inspires a biblical writer to address a topic repeatedly, we should really sit up and take notice.

So, let us “sit up” and take notice once again to what God tells us about love.

1 John 4:7-10Amplified Bible

God Is Love

Beloved, let us [unselfishly] [a]love and seek the best for one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves [others] is born of God and knows God [through personal experience]. The one who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love. [He is the originator of love, and it is an enduring attribute of His nature.] By this the love of God was displayed in us, in that God has sent His [One and] only begotten Son [the One who is truly unique, the only One of His kind] into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [that is, the atoning sacrifice, and the satisfying offering] for our sins [fulfilling God’s requirement for justice against sin and placating His wrath].

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Love is the very nature of God.

So, John writes,

“Love is from God, and love comes from God because God is love.”

Love is not just another characteristic of God among many.

It’s God’s very nature from which all the other attributes come.

Everything that comes from God can be attributed to His love for us.

So, if God judges, He judges in love.

That does not mean God condones sin, but in love, He is exposed to that sin and sent His son to die for sin’s penalty.

Most all of us are familiar with John 3:16, that says

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

1 John 4 verse 9, John is reminding us that God sent His one and only Son into the world so that we can know that God loves us.

The origin of Love is God.

Love began with God.

So, Jesus is the manifestation of God’s love.

God showed his love toward us by sending His Son to pay our sin debt.

How great is God’s love?

The answer to that is that God’s love is seen in the value of the gift: God gave His one and only Son (John 3:16-17).

And that is an extremely valuable gift.

So, God sent His Son as a demonstration of His love for us.

The Greek word used in 1 John 4 verse 9 for “only son” is the same word that was used to describe Abraham’s offering up of his only son, Isaac.

Let’s go back in Scripture several hundred years and I will explain that.

In Genesis 22, God tested Abraham.

He told Abraham to take his only son, Isaac, whom Abraham loved, to the land of Mariah and offer him as a burnt offering on the mountain to God.

Abraham did not question God but obeyed God immediately.

The story reaches its climax when Abraham, who had bound Isaac and laid him on the altar, raised his knife to the sky.

It was not until then that God’s angel called to Abraham, telling Abraham not to harm the boy.

Abraham proved his reverent fear of God.

God knew Abraham’s heart and knew that Abraham would carry out God’s order to sacrifice his son Isaac.

Then, in a beautiful display of His vast mercy and grace, God provided a ram to sacrifice in young Isaac’s place.

God, out of His love, provided the substitute sacrifice.

Do you and I see the similarities?

God spared Abraham’s son, but the difference is He didn’t spare His own Son on the cross.

God willingly gave His Son to die in our place, and Jesus willingly took the punishment for our sins upon Himself.

God did not do this because we are lovable, rays of sunshine on a stormy day.

By no means.

He loved and sent His Son to rescue us, not because we are lovable, but because God is love.

So, the greatness of God’s love is seen in the costliness of His self-sacrifice for us who are so utterly and completely undeserving.

So now with all of that in mind John writes,

“Let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”

1 John 4:11 – “Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another.”

We’ve already seen in 1 John 4:7 the command to love one another.

John repeated that twice more here in 1 John 4 verse 11 and then in verse 12.

With this call to love one another as God loved us comes great responsibility.

We are to love others as God has loved us.

That is an enormously tall order.

Are we even capable of such an indescribable magnitude of Love?

God has loved us with a boundless, changeless, ultimate self-sacrificing love.

God still loves us in the same way today, as he seeks to display that magnitude of love through us.

So, we saw in 1 John chapter 4 verses 8-9, that God revealed His love when His Son, Jesus, became the sacrifice for our sins.

He took away our sin, but He didn’t just take away the bad.

He gave to us as well.

What did he give us?

Jesus gave us life that we might live through Him.

Now you are perhaps asking the inevitable question, what does that mean?

That clearly means that we are to live in Him, which means we are to allow others to see His love in and through us.

People should see Jesus’s love shine from us without us saying a word.

To love with God’s love gives evidence that we have a relationship with the One who displays His love through us.

Then, if we didn’t understand the positive side of that, John States it negatively in 1 John chapter 4 verse 8. “The one who does not love, does not know God.”

Now that all sounds pretty and nice doesn’t it?

But here comes the test.

Think about your relationships right now.

It is reasonably safe to say there is someone that you find difficult to love.

It is reasonably safe to say there is someone that you find impossible to love.

It is reasonable safe to say there is that someone you have no trouble hating.

Your instructions here are to ask God to help you love these individuals as He loves them.

Again, that is a pretty tall order.

Kind of like standing or sitting still as someone runs nails down a chalkboard.

But it is not something that, through God’s miracles, we cannot accomplish.

John goes a little deeper and says:

1 John 4:12 – 13 – “No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is made complete in us. 13 This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.”

John reminds us here that no one has ever seen God.

So how do we even know that God is around?

Believers reveal the presence of God through the way they love one another.

The very fact that we love one another serves as evidence that God remains in us, and we remain in Him.

We embrace God’s love, He comes to live in us, and His love pours out of us as we love others.

So, when individual or groups of people see the mutual love given and shared between brothers and sisters in Christ, they see the display of God’s love.

A quick recap.

When we accept Christ as our personal Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to live within us.

In that, we now possess the fruit of that spirit.

One of those fruits is love.

As a Christian, love is the fruit of God’s indwelling Spirit.

God is perfect in His love.

He Lacks nothing.

But God’s love is made complete when that love flows through us.

God has chosen to use His people as channels of His love.

So, we are to present ourselves to Him daily as instruments of His continual love.

When we love others, we cooperate with God’s redemptive plan for the world, so that others can be sure of God’s love for them.

Let me ask you.

If you ever plan on going to another particular church and you see the church members fighting and quarreling among each other, is that a church you would want to attend, give of your time, tithe and other material spiritual resources?

On the other hand, if you go to another church and the people are loving and caring and show a genuine love toward one another, is that a church you would like to attend and be part of, give of your time and tithe and material resources?

I rest my case.

And here’s the thing.

Putting God’s love on display is to be a continuous, ongoing activity.

Now we will all have to admit that there are times when it is hard to love, especially when we feel that we have been wronged or hurt by someone.

It is in those moments, in our humanity, that the last thing we want to do is express forgiveness and extend acts of kindness to that person.

But God has commanded us to love one another as God first loved us, and what God commands, He makes possible through the max example set by His Son.

Will we, do it?

Sadly, probably not!

It is in our sin nature that we simply find it much too easy to magnify hate.

Can we, do it? Can we unconditionally love one another as God first did?

Yes, we can!

If we willingly surrender our whole selves – hurts, hang-ups and hates too – and sacrifice all of those hurts, hang-ups and hates on the altar of His Mercy.

Psalm 103:1-5Amplified Bible

Praise for the Lord’s Mercies.

A Psalm of David.

103 Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is [deep] within me, bless His holy name.


Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul,
And do not forget any of His benefits;


Who forgives all your sins,
Who heals all your diseases;


Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you [lavishly] with lovingkindness and tender mercy;


Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the [soaring] eagle.

So, we are to love, not for our enfeebled sake, but for the sake of Jesus Christ.

And the key to transforming boundless hate into loving others is in loving God.

Luke 6:27-36Amplified Bible

27 “But I say to you who hear [Me and pay attention to My words]: [a]Love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies, [make it a practice to] do good to those who hate you, 28 bless and show kindness to those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 Whoever [b]strikes you on the cheek, offer him the other one also [simply ignore insignificant insults or losses and do not bother to retaliate—maintain your dignity]. Whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you. [c]Whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. 31 Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32 If you [only] love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend [money] to those from whom you expect to receive [it back], what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners expecting to receive back the same amount. 35 But love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies, and do good, and lend, [d]expecting nothing in return; for your reward will be great (rich, abundant), and you will be sons of the Most High; because He Himself is kind and gracious and good to the ungrateful and the wicked. 36 Be merciful (responsive, compassionate, tender) just as your [heavenly] Father is merciful.

The more we love God, the more of God’s love will flow out of us toward others.

Picture it as a garden hose attached to the outdoor faucet of a house.

When the faucet is turned on, the water flows.

The hose doesn’t produce the water.

It is only the conduit for the water to flow freely.

In ourselves, we might find it difficult, impossible to love, especially to love unconditionally, as God loves.

But when we are attached to Him, when we remain in Christ as Jesus said (John 15:1-5), His love flows freely through us.

And I would commend all of you reading this for your demonstrations of your sacrifices of unconditional mercy towards one another, love of one another.

God loves watching us constantly encouraging others. Writing notes, making phone calls, giving of your time, and just spending time with one another.

That lets others know we truly care. And remember what God has always said. If we want to make a lasting impact on our society and community, then just care.

Our lives ought to be characterized by daily acts of kindness.

We should serve in order to share Christ’s sacrifice that gave us salvation.

To love others is to seek their highest good.

God’s presence, God’s mercy, God’s love does not just seek to meet needs, but it aims to max exceed those needs in maximum abundance in the name of Christ.

Let me give you a biblical example.

The gospel of Mark 2:1-12, illustrates for us a crystal-clear example of loving sacrificial service with genuine gospel intent.

You might remember the story.

Four men carried a paralyzed man on a mat to meet Jesus, believing Jesus was able to heal the man.

But when they arrived, the crowd’s size made it impossible for the men to get their friend to Jesus.

But they refused to give up.

They would not be denied.

Their love for their friend compelled them to max out the extra mile.

They had that man’s highest good at heart.

The men climbed to the top of the house, removed the roof, and lowered their friend before Jesus.

And Jesus, who is love, not only healed the man but also forgave his sins.

What a beautiful example of tangible acts of kindness.

What a glorious example of seeking someone’s highest good.

If only you and I had such a story to tell …. imagine the max impact on others!

1 John 4:19-21 – “We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And we have this command from him: The one who loves God must also love his brother and sister.”

John didn’t leave any gray areas here, did he?

Nor did he sugarcoat his words. “If anyone says I love God and yet hates his brother or sister he is a liar.”

Then to further stress that truth, John said, “For the person who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

The statements strike to the core of the issue.

Of course, some would say it’s easier to love God because He first loved us.

But John argued just the opposite.

Logically, it’s easier to show love to people who are visibly present, rather than God, who is an invisible spirit.

So here is the issue.

A failure to love people whom we can see is a failure to love God whom we cannot see, and a failure to love is hate.

It gets down to this, we live out our love for God when we choose to love other people whom we would find it easier to rationalize and fully realize our hate.

Love overcomes hate.

There is so much visible hate in our world today that it is vitally important that Christians love one another. But our love should not stop with other Christians.

Impossible love needs to go out into the world and seek to win the lost to Christ.

Jesus came in human flesh because He loved us. He gave His life out of love for the lost, and we are to follow His example.

We, too, are to love the sinner.

We are to love the down cast and broken.

We are to love the weak and lonely.

We are to love the sick and needy.

We are to love the least of these as Jesus said. (Matthew 25:34-40)

So, to be sure of God’s maximum love, there is something we must do.

How can we be sure of God’s love for us?

Commit yourself to love like Jesus, who unselfishly gave His life for others.

Try to keep in mind and max love like the four men who did whatever it took to get their paralyzed friend to Jesus.

Practice sacrificial, transforming love like the Good Samaritan who willingly set aside the traditional hatred of others towards him, to meet a stranger’s needs.

This is the kind of love that grabs someone’s attention and changes the world.

By showing our love for one another, even those we declare our worst enemy, it will “heap coals on their heads,” help others to be sure of God’s love for them.

Maybe you have never felt God’s love. If you have not, is it because you have never asked Jesus Christ, God’s son, to come and pour his love into your life.

Why not do that now?

Stuff your pride under the chair and take that first critical step toward Jesus.

Your heart and your soul and your whole life will surely be glad you did.

Pray unto the Father and Author and Weaver of your life and ask Him to come into your heart and instruct and guide and love your life from this day forward.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Loving Heavenly Father, You have loved me with immeasurable love. You are love. I pray that I will be strengthened in my inner being – in my soul – with the love that is wider than I can understand, deeper than I am able to imagine, and greater than I could ever know. As You encourage and embolden me, may I more fully know the mystery of the Gospel as revealed in my life. In the love of Christ, I pray. Amen.

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How Jesus Viewed Ministry Success: Focus on God’s Purposes. Luke 4.43

Luke 4:40-44Common English Bible

40 When the sun was setting, everyone brought to Jesus, relatives and acquaintances with all kinds of diseases. Placing his hands on each of them, he healed them. 41 Demons also came out of many people. They screamed, “You are God’s Son.” But he spoke harshly to them and wouldn’t allow them to speak because they recognized that he was the Christ. 42 When daybreak arrived, Jesus went to a deserted place. The crowds were looking for him. When they found him, they tried to keep him from leaving them. 43 But he said to them, “I must preach the good news of God’s kingdom in other cities too, for this is why I was sent.” 44 So he continued preaching in the Judean synagogues.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Ministry success is easily attributable to Jesus.

He captivated thousands because he taught “as one with authority” (Mark 1:22). He was utterly unique, like no one they had ever seen nor heard before.

Each Child of God is utterly unique, like no one else anyone has seen before. We all uniquely offer a unique diversity of God given gifts to God’s unique kingdom.

He made himself available to people when they needed a presence – (verse 40)

He did something incredible positive with His availability – healing – (verse 40)

He did something incredibly powerful with His availability – rebuking demons with an unheard-of authority (verse 41).

He was incredibly available and incredibly flexible, would preach to thousands, heal the sick, and spend time with the untouchables. At one point, his renown, authority was so great that people tried to make him king by force (John 6:15).

He took time for himself – to make himself available to His Father in Heaven. (Verse 42) How frequently do we honor our Father by honoring His Sabbath?

How often do we prioritize making ourselves available to God and his healing? Do we value “setting ourselves apart” and permitting God to Minister unto us?

Rabbi Jesus recognized that his ministry was ever changing according to the purposes set aside by His Father in Heaven and he needed to be flexible in his ministry – keeping his focus on the purposes of his Father God knowing when to move onto the diversity of needs, addressing the needs of people elsewhere (verses 43 and 44).

Rabbi Jesus could have stayed where he was and regularly had large crowds gather in his presence. But what did Jesus do with this “ministry success?”

Did he set up headquarters, hang up signs, pass out flyers, and increase seating capacity? Did he get hung up on denominational differences, and divisiveness?

Did he stay with the people begging him to remain and bask in their adoration?

Praise God! Absolutely not. That’s not how Jesus defined ministry success.

Real Ministry Success

Rabbi Jesus focused only on his God ordained purpose: to teach the truth. Jesus repeatedly says this in passages like John 18:37 and Mark 1:35–39, as well.

Jesus did not look to boasting of the crowds as proof of his success in ministry. He did not withhold his identity from people flocking to hear, see, touch him.

His sole focus? He did and said only what the Father led him to do (John 5:19).

For what purpose of His Father God was His Son, Rabbi Jesus led to do?

Preach the Gospel — Announce the Good News to all people.

Luke 4:14-19Common English Bible

Jesus announces good news to the poor

14 Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news about him spread throughout the whole countryside. 15 He taught in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

16 Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been raised. On the Sabbath he went to the synagogue as he normally did and stood up to read. 17 The synagogue assistant gave him the scroll from the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me.
He has sent me to preach good news to the poor,
    to proclaim release to the prisoners
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
    to liberate the oppressed,
19     and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.[a]

For what other purposes did God send His Son?

Offer the people an everlasting connection to God.

Offer the people an everlasting relationship to God.

Offer the people an everlasting Koinonia – fellowship with God.

John 3:16-17English Standard Version

For God So Loved the World

16 “For God so loved the world, [a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Luke 19:10English Standard Version

10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

John 10:14-18English Standard Version

14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So, there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

A thought. It can be tempting to look at success in ministry as a numbers game.

Our logic?

The more people that come to our church or ministry, the more successful we are in the kingdom.

Except numbers never define success – God defines success by relationships.

Steadfast and Immovable, Faithful under all circumstances, Connections, Koinonia, Fellowship, Relationships with Him, His Son and the Holy Spirit.

God defines success in relationships by His Son’s understanding of Success:

Mark 10:42-45English Standard Version

42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great one’s exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, [a] 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave[b] of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

God’s Servant Leader Rabbi Jesus is a great example for what success looks like.

Jesus teaches us that success is not merely defined by popularity or crowds, but by our steadfast and faithful obedience to God and to his purposes for our lives.

Faithfulness is the key to ministry success.

But don’t misunderstand me. I don’t define faithfulness as merely plodding along, barely making a ripple for the Kingdom of God…

…not even close!

What’s the root word in faithfulness? Faith!

Jesus didn’t simply bumble along.

He had absolute faith in what the Father had called him to do.

So much faith that he bet his entire life on it.

To faithfully pursue God’s purpose means two things:

  1. To desire his will infinitely more than our own finite and temporary glory.
  2. To believe he will accomplish his mission in us and through us for His sake.

Are we faithfully Pursuing God’s Mission?

So, are we pursuing God’s mission for us?

So, are we aware of God’s purpose for us?

Our ministry and mission fields might be:

  • Our family, both biological and church families
  • Our workplace,
  • Our schools,
  • Our communities and neighborhoods,
  • Our vocational ministry – inside the church, missional outside the church,
  • Our volunteer work,
  • Or anywhere else God ordains us to be (Isaiah 6:8-11).

Define your mission field.

Refine your measurement of ministry success.

And above all, have a steadfast and immovable faith – God always accomplishes his will— God will always fulfill His purpose for me, and he will do so through you, too.

Psalm 138:8English Standard Version

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
    your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
    Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Individually, how well do we, in our contemporary 2022 context, understand our God (not ourselves) fulfilling His singularly unique purpose for our lives?

Individually, how well do we, in our contemporary 2022 context, understand faithfulness to God’s fulfilling of our singularly unique purpose for our lives?

Individually, how well do we, in our contemporary 2022 context, understand faithful obedience to God’s fulfilling of our singularly unique purpose for us?

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Sovereign God, You have authored my life, have ordered each of my steps and opened this door to success in my life. With this new path comes a new uncertainty that tempts me to fear. Make me strong, Mighty God! Make me courageous, God of Heaven! In the face of new challenges, I will trust You. For from You comes Your Spirit which empowers me to be Your witness in all circumstances. In Jesus’ name. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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Blessed Assurance! God HAS got My Back! Will I trust God to “Be There?” Will I fall Backwards into His Hands? Isaiah 6:8-10.

Isaiah 6:8-10ESV

Isaiah’s Commission from the Lord

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” And he said, “Go, and say to this people:

“‘Keep on hearing,[a] but do not understand;
keep on seeing,[b] but do not perceive.’
10 Make the heart of this people dull,[c]
    and their ears heavy,
    and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
    and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
    and turn and be healed.”

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

It is that old familiar scene on any playground populated by young kids and their parents – the young child closes their eyes, turns their backs to their moms or dads and suddenly out of the blue they yell out: “Catch Me” as they lean out their arms as far and wide as they can and then free fall backwards.

Hopefully that young child hears their Mom’s or Dad’s voice: “Here I Am!”

And prayerfully, Mom or Dad is quick enough to catch their free-falling child.

We trust our parents to be there when we need them.

We need to not just hear of that trust but to actually feel that trust for ourselves.

We need to experience that trust then we can give that trust back to them.

Whether we fall forward or backwards, we need to know someone will catch us.

Not just catch us – some of the time (pranking us) but absolutely all the time.

So, here in our text from Isaiah chapter 6, God has just empowered Isaiah for a mission of who knows what kind of magnitude and God’s knows what purpose.

Without question, Isaiah utters these “famous first and last words” ….

“Here I am! Send me.”

These words are among the most famous of Old Testament texts.

Often, they are taught in a motivational light in an attempt to inspire people to completely leave behind whatever they were doing and to step up, to serve God.

Sadly, what is frequently left out is the mission that Isaiah was volunteering for.

But God did not try to hide His mission and message from Isaiah before he sent Isaiah back; he was straightforward.

However, behind and underneath all of that were these unwritten, but certainly implied questions and statements by God,

– “In this exact moment, I need to know how much you trust me, Isaiah?”

– “In this singular moment of your life, how far does your trust of me extend?”

– “Exactly right now, Isaiah, do you completely trust me with your whole life?”

– “Will you free-fall backwards into my arms when not having a good day?”

– “Will you always move forwards – even in those most very uncertain of days?”

– “Even when distrust of Me becomes your first desire, will you still go for Me?”

– “Even if it means Me getting behind you, subtly or not so subtly, pushing you forward against your will, into places we both know you would rather not go?”

“Think about these things, Isaiah. take what time you need. I will still be here!”

Now, ask yourself this question- How much time elapsed before Isaiah said:

“Here I am! Send me.” 

An hour? A day? “A week?”

An immediate response – no time lapse at all?

What can be implied by Isaiah’s apparent and immediate response?

Isaiah’s Immediate and Unconditional and Unquestioning Trust in the Lord?

The unsaid, immediately understood – “Yes! Lord! I know you have my Back?”

“Yes! Lord! I absolutely trust that You WILL have my Back 100% of the time?”

Do you somewhere believe maybe Isaiah had crossed fingers behind his back?

Or that his expression of ““Here I am! Send me.” was utterly unconditional?

If you had been the one called away by God in such a moment as Isaiah’s, would there be “every available finger crossed” behind your back – toes crossed too?

Immediate, Unquestioned and Unconditional Trust – given to God on the spot?

“Just like that?”

Is that exact, exacting magnitude of trust really somewhere in human nature?

Consider what we are not considering nor even aware of in that exact moment:

Sadly, what is frequently left out is the mission that Isaiah was volunteering for.

Blindly, Deafly, and Boldly, moving forward in some direction through the ages with a very specific mission known only but to God message to who knows who?

Are we really so prepared to be that trusting with what Isaiah was trusted with?

Isaiah was called to be an unpopular preacher with an unpopular message.

Despite the enormous risks – that Scripture never really specifically identifies?

For a God no one’s ever personally seen – Jesus will be born in about 800 years.

Isaiah 6:8English Standard Version

Isaiah’s Commission from the Lord

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

Just what indescribable magnitude of trust did Isaiah possess in those days?

Just what undeniable magnitude of trust did Isaiah just communicate to God?

Essentially, God instructed Isaiah:

“{consistently, continuously, constantly} Tell your countrymen,
Listen, but the words will go in one ear and out the other.
Look, but you’ll never realize what you’re looking at, never get it.
Your hearts are going to be hard, your ears shut, and your eyes blind.”

Isaiah 6:9-10 ESV

The commentator Matthew Henry wrote of this passage, “there are many who hear the sound of God’s word, but do not feel the power of it.”

There are a few hard lessons for us to be learned here.

For starters, God’s word does not only soften us, it also hardens us.

Those to whom Isaiah was called to speak God’s words to were going to be willfully obstinate and oppositional and therefore hard toward the truth.

Considering such a magnitude of obstinance and opposition, how easy or how hard was it for Isaiah to maintain his covenant promise of unconditional trust?

If this passage of Isaiah were transplanted into 2022, how easy or hard would it be for Isaiah (for us) to maintain his covenant promise of unconditional trust?

What do you think his conversion rate was then?

What do you think or believe his conversion rate would be in 2022?

By our standards today would we hold Isaiah up as a picture of ministerial success or nothing but his wasted time, effort and money and resources?

Or would we declare him irrelevant for the times we are living in and with a brush of our 2022 theology cast him aside as unloving and non-anointed?

What this encounter with God should teach us, is that first and foremost our success should be gauged by our actual unconditional trust and obedience.

Such a magnitude of unquestioning trust and obedience to God will most certainly produce fruit, but we may not always be able to see it right away.

Still, we must ever be unconditionally prepared to fall back into the trusting arms of our Savior Jesus Christ – knowing He WILL always be there to catch us.

Isaiah’s work and message may have seemed to him incessantly grim, and a burden which grew heavier and heavier, more and more impossible to bear.

Our work and message in 2022 are not that much different from Isaiah’s and undoubtedly bear the same magnitude of burden – still we bear it up for God.

Will we be there for each other as God is always there for us in Christ Jesus?

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Loving Heavenly Father, Author and Solemn Protector of my life. You have loved me with unconditional, immeasurable love. You are love. My life is wide open. I pray that I will be strengthened in my inner being – in my soul – with the love and trust that is wider than I can understand, deeper than I am able to imagine, and greater than I could ever know. As You encourage and embolden me, may I more fully know and trust the mystery of the Gospel as revealed in my life. In the love of Christ, I pray. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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A Most Amazing Question: If God is for Us Who Else Can Be Against Us? God has Got Your Back! Romans 8:31

Romans 8:31Amplified Bible

31 What then shall we say to all these things? If God is for us, who can be [successful] against us?

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Amazingly enough, this is a question that we should be asking ourselves regularly. ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ 

In Romans 8 alone, Paul has written extensively to prove this very point.

God loves us, he sent his son Jesus to die for us, he gave us the Holy Spirit to be our counselor and guide and to remind us of everything Jesus told us.

In lieu of this, this question holds amazing implications for us as believers… understanding the dynamics of how God feels about you will change your life.

When we are holding this perspective in view and weighing everything else that happens against this revelation of God’s unceasing love, unceasing protection towards you and me, then the rest seems less than relevant and unimportant.

David held this perspective throughout his entire life, he wrote in the Psalms, “The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6).

He penned this in the midst of the high potential for great turmoil and unrest.

Reasonably, the people would be mightily afraid of that turmoil and unrest as in the briefest of moments people’s lives could go from wonderful to catastrophic.

Reasonably, the people wanted to know who would protect them and who could protect them and who should be protecting them from the coming Roman fury.

Significant questions to ask since no human being could long stand against a Roman soldier with Roman training carrying Romans Swords, Roman Spears.

Who could stand up to or against the commands of an unstable Emperor Nero?

Based on human history, Paul knew the Emperor was going to do whatever was on his mind, was going to give his orders and his will would not be questioned.

Ask yourselves this question: how many times Paul had asked himself the same question during his missionary journeys when he had no control over his life, how much time did he have to live, who was going to be trying to end his words.

Paul undoubtedly had asked himself – “who was powerful enough, who was loving enough, who was strong enough, could protect him from “what’ next?”

But all of his life – he had earned one very valuable lesson – there was always God who would never, ever leave his side under any circumstance (Psalm 121)

He could write about God’s eternal vigilance (Psalm 23) because he knew God and knew that God always loved him and in light of that, nothing else mattered.

Just as asking this question is important, so is our reminding ourselves of the answer. 

‘If God is for us, then who is against us?’ 

Who can be our foe if God is on our side?

With growing confidence, Paul goes on in the next couple of verses to explain how God is the one who justified us (Romans 8:33) and Jesus is the one who died for us (Romans 8:34) so in reality who can bring an accusation against us.

This is so critically important to teach our children, the stranger on the street.

This is so critically important for everyone to hear.

This is so critically important for everyone to listen to.

This is so critically important to for everyone to learn.

This is so critically important to understand.

This is so critically important for us to “wrap our minds and our lives” around.

So many people, too many people miss it in life, take God’s grace for granted, if they do not understand the boundless extent of God’s daily love towards them.

Jude tells us to keep ourselves in the love of God (Jude 1:21) because he knew that having this revelation equips the saints to be powerful in the kingdom.

It is amazing to me to know that God chose me and called me to be his child.

It is beyond amazing to know Jesus died for me, while yet his enemy, and sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for us all – “As Iron Sharpens Iron!”

It is amazing to know that nothing can separate me from his love.

Understanding this will empower you to overcome any obstacle you face.

Understanding this will release you from the fear that keeps you in chains.

David said in the Psalm, 

“The LORD is my light and my salvation- whom shall, I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life- of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1). 

And in today’s passage Paul asks,

What, then, shall we say in response to this?” 

What is there to say?

Could anything be a stronger encouragement to faith than the unalterable evidence of what God has already done for the salvation of His people of faith?

God is the Sovereign Lord, and it is from Him that our salvation comes and with Him that our salvation forever rests and remains undeniably, eternally secure.

God who gave so amazingly and so abundantly of Himself to provide salvation will certainly give continued, final salvation, protect His Children at all costs.

To those who are “in Christ Jesus” ……

there are no rational grounds for apprehension for their salvation is secured.

In spite of my many unanswered questions,

with my whole heart, I believe.

I believe in the living God, the joy of the universe,

  who is the pulse and purpose of all things seen and unseen,

  who from the dust of earth calls up living beings to be children of eternity,

  who through countless ages has provided for us many liberators

  and tirelessly seeks to bring victory out of defeat and life out of decay.

I believe in Jesus the Christ, God’s one and only true Son,

  who is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh,

  who took upon himself the healing of the human race,

  who bearing the burden of our sins went to Golgotha carrying his cross,

  who was betrayed, crucified, dead and buried in a borrowed tomb,

  who on the third day was found to be gloriously alive,

  meeting with those who trust him and serve him to the end of the world.

I believe in the Holy Spirit of God,

  within and among all who cherish Christ and his way, truth and life

  who brings hope out of despair, love out of apathy, and joy out of sorrow,

  who unceasingly regenerates and reforms and transforms His church

  that it may always be the contemporary body of the risen Christ,

  loving the world through prayer, word and deed.

I believe that even I am caught up in the resurgent life of Christ Jesus,

  and that nothing in life or death can separate me from his love and joy.

In spite of unanswered questions, yes! I believe. Amen!

This affirmation, this glorious revelation leaves me absolutely speechless!

Today, I am blessed to know and understand that God loves me, and nothing can or will separate me from him.

Today we celebrate our life for what and where it is, with our families, may we take time to praise God for the marvelous thing he has done by sending Jesus.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,  

Let us Pray,

Thank You, God, for being my Father and forgiving all my sins, not because I deserve it, but because in absolute love Christ died in my place to pay the price for my sins, all of them. Thank You for all You have done for me, will continue to do, and that my future glorification is as equally complete in Christ as my past justification, when I first trusted Jesus as my only Savior. Thank You that because I am in Christ, You are 100% ‘for me.’ Let me never forget that amazing truth. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN.

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Consistent Habits Will Consistently Change Everything. The Key to Desire God’s Word and Prayer. Psalm 119:18

Psalm 119:17-24Amplified Bible

Gimel.

17 
Deal bountifully with Your servant,
That I may live and keep Your word [treasuring it and being guided by it day by day].
18 
Open my eyes [to spiritual truth] so that I may behold
Wonderful things from Your law.
19 
I am a stranger on the earth;
Do not hide Your commandments from me.
20 
My soul is crushed with longing
For Your ordinances at all times.
21 
You rebuke the presumptuous and arrogant, the cursed ones,
Who wander from Your commandments.
22 
Take reproach and contempt away from me,
For I observe Your testimonies.
23 
Even though princes sit and talk to one another against me,
Your servant meditates on Your statutes.
24 
Your testimonies also are my delight
And my counselors.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Let us begin with a short prayer from today’s biblical text for this devotion,

17 
Deal bountifully with Your servant,
That I may live and keep Your word [treasuring it and being guided by it day by day].

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Amen

The prayer of the Psalmist is for God to deal “bountifully” with His servant.

We read this prayer because we opened our Bibles, and we opened our eyes.

When we opened our eyes, we gave God full and unfettered access to our souls.

Except,

When we never open up our Bibles, what will we consistently never find?

When we sporadically open up our Bibles, what do we consistently expect to find?

When we consistently open up our Bibles, what do we consistently expect to find?

When we habitually open up our Bibles, who do we consistently hope to find?

When we habitually open our eyes to read our Bibles, what is likely to happen?

If like David, we could, would, should, expect to discover “wondrous things.”

If we are like David, we expect to discover “wonderful things” done by God.

Remember, David only had a small portion of the Bible God’s given us today!

The reality is this…

There is no wasted moment reading God’s Word!

Let me qualify that statement a bit – there is no wasted moment reading God’s Word when we do with consistently open eyes, consistently open hearts, souls.

Even if you only read a single verse, you are hearing from God himself.

And you have the chance to “behold wondrous GOD things” in his Word.

From now on, starting today, learn a new habit, never let a single day pass without consistently reading at least one verse.

We can do that, right?

With consistent practice, then “enlarge thy tent”- read two… Three… Four…

And before you know it, you are consistently reading whole entire chapters.

This tiny habit, consistently done will consistently snowball and change your life.

Will we do this?

Perhaps and then again, perhaps not ….

Psalm 1:1-2Amplified Bible

Book One

The Righteous and the Wicked Contrasted.

[a]Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example],
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of [b]scoffers (ridiculers).

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night.

Perhaps we are in that moment of life when we are not consistently feeling so blessed, not feeling so very fortunate, or so prosperous and so favored by God.

And that is why we have our eyes and our hearts, and our souls closed off now.

Psalm 13:1-4Amplified Bible

Prayer for Help in Trouble.

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

13 How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?

How long must I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart day after day?
How long will my enemy exalt himself and triumph over me?


Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
Give light (life) to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,

And my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.

Have you ever spent seasons where consistently getting into the Bible felt more like ceaseless drudgery than ceaseless delight?

Where you perhaps have felt guilty, because you knew you should be studying God’s Word every day, but you just simply never felt like consistently doing it?

If so, you’re not alone.

Many “steadfast, stout hearted” Christians said that their biggest struggle in their devotional life was a lack of desire to “read the Bible and to pray daily.”

This certainly isn’t something to feel guilty about.

Instead, it’s a consistent reality a lot of us will consistently face every day.

One has to wonder – if we consider all of the intrigue David experienced on a daily basis, if we recall all of his efforts to hide from Saul, avoid his enemies and avoid his own son, Absalom, his hours, days and weeks spent hiding in caves,

Did David really have the time to consistently read and study God’s Scriptures every single day – or have them read and then interpreted to him “on the run?”

But what if it could be different for us?

Imagine this…

Changing your mindset …. use what we have learned from our consistently inconsistent efforts at reading and studying and praying through the Bible,

To learn a new habit – we can consistently and habitually get our hearts, minds and souls into…… letting God open our eyes, revealing, teaching us about trust.

Psalm 13:5-6Amplified Bible


But I have trusted and relied on and been confident in Your lovingkindness and faithfulness;
My heart shall rejoice and delight in Your salvation.

I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

A great place to begin learning and practicing this new habit is with Psalm 119.

This lengthy but beautifully written Psalm has its entire focus on the Word of God, which contains the instructions of our Heavenly Father for His Children.

How we consistently need the Word of God, for it is our daily food, and it is refreshment for our souls.

Psalm 119:1-7Amplified Bible

Meditations and Prayers Relating to the Law of God.

[a]Aleph.

119 How blessed and favored by God are those whose way is blameless [those with personal integrity, the upright, the guileless],
Who walk in the law [and who are guided by the precepts and revealed will] of the Lord.

Blessed and favored by God are those who keep His testimonies,
And who [consistently] seek Him and long for Him with all their heart.

They do no unrighteousness;
They walk in His ways.

You have ordained Your precepts,
That we should follow them with [careful] diligence.

Oh, that my ways may be established
To observe and keep Your statutes [obediently accepting and honoring them]!

Then I will not be ashamed
When I look [with respect] to all Your commandments [as my guide].

I will give thanks to You with an upright heart,
When I learn [through discipline] Your righteous judgments [for my transgressions].

When I slowly, subtly, begin to give thanks to God with an upright heart ……

When I slowly, subtly begin to learn ….

When I slowly, subtly, begin to discover ….

When I slowly, subtly, begin to change what I believed to be unchangeable ….

When through discipline, I start to realize it is God who is consistently trying to reveal something indescribably wonderful – to “shock open” my eyes and soul.

How we should consistently treasure the Word of God, for it is our #1 guide and #1 teacher, our strength, and our #1 sure and certain and consistent defense.

How we should consistently read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the Word of God, for it is consistent life and health, it is peace and light, it is joy and hope.

And as the Psalmist trawls the depth of its treasures, his whispered prayer is: “Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your Law.”

We are not only servants and students of the Word, but we are sons and daughters of its Author, and so that should stir our hearts to search the Scriptures daily to discover the truths in which the Lord desires to teach and train us, as well as the areas in which He seeks to guard and correct us.

As His children, we should treasure His Word in our heart that we might not sin against Him, and as we reach for our Bible, our prayer should mirror that of the Psalmist: “Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your Law.”

We need to ensure that our eyes are wide open to all that is in the Word as we saturate ourselves in His wonderful ways, reflect on the beauty of His person.

We should crave for the milk of the ever-Living, ever transformational, Word of God so that we may continually grow in grace and in a knowledge of the Lord Jesus, and we should habitually meditate upon the meat of the Word so that we may walk in spirit and truth and live in submission to the guiding of the Spirit.

Day by day, our prayer should consistently be: “God, my Father, God, my teacher, open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your Law.”

When our eyes are open and earnestly looking to Jesus, they are not searching out the things of this world.

When our heart is gasping for the Lord, it is not lusting after the things of the flesh.

But when our eyes are consistently closed in disinterest or discouragement, our own imagination can be consistently, tragically, funneled in a wrong direction.

Let us continually, consistently look to the Lord in excitement, open our eyes in prayerful expectation that we WILL see the wonderful things that are written in Scripture and contemplate on the glories that are contained in the Word of God.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Heavenly Father, I pray that You will open my eyes, that I too may behold wonderful things from Your Law. Open my eyes so that I may contemplate the glories of Your person and gain nourishment from Your instruction. Open my eyes, I pray, to see the consistently wonderful truths in the precious Word of God. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

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