Serve and Trust

Posted December 12, 2011 by Doug
Categories: Uncategorized

I Timothy 2:1-6 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men – the testimony given in its proper time.

Political correctness is found in verse 1. We are to pray for everyone. Our leaders be they kings, presidents, parents or queens. We are instructed to pray for them and in so doing pray for peace. We live in a world of unrest, where nations are rattling their sabers in contempt and threatening war. Brutal dictators are killing innocent people. Terrorists are killing innocent people in the name of religion. The world appears to be on a collision course with doom and gloom. Economic uncertainty is in every corner of the world. Employment for many is non existent or a day to day proposition at best. Large corporations have stolen retirement funds from people leaving a wake of broken lives and shattered futures. Many are asking: “Where is God in all of this?”

In all honesty there have been times in my life when I’ve asked that very question. I’ve blogged about how it seemed my prayers left my lips to fall to the floor to be trampled on, unheard by God. It is easy to wonder what we did to bring discomfort to our lives. When we review our circumstances in a negative way depression can easily follow. We are told in scripture that all things work together for good. When we are in the heat of the fire it is difficult to live in this belief standard.

Malachi 3: 14 – 18 “You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape.’ ” Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name. “They will be mine,” says the Lord Almighty, “in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”

I encourage you to not give up hope. God is Faithful and True. Stand in your faith and know that the Lord does hear you. He cares and is listening to you and the many others who are finding life difficult right now. I wade through the quagmire of problems frequently myself. Everyone does. Our efforts in dealing with problems needs to be prayerful and respectful. Know in faith that God knows our every need. For those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ their hope and future is eternal.

Responsibility

Posted May 5, 2010 by Doug
Categories: Uncategorized

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Have you ever wondered where responsibility begins and ends when it comes to accomplishing a God given project? It can get a little confusing and exasperating when we seemingly are not getting the job done.
There is a story of a man named Joseph in the Bible. The story of Joseph starts in Genesis 36 and goes to the end of Genesis. Joseph had a dream that he talked about. I believe that Joseph knew God had big plans for him. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers who despised him. That could have been enough to derail his dream, yet there was still more trouble. He later, while in bondage, was wrongfully accused of sexual misconduct. He was thrown into prison for something he didn’t do. That could depress and distract almost anyone. Not Joseph. While in prison he interpreted dreams for two fellow prisoners. Later, while Joseph was in prison he was asked to interpret a dream for Pharaoh. He came before the King and interpreted the dream. Pharaoh was so impressed he made Joseph second in command of all Egypt.
Joseph had no chance to gain this position on his own. God had to open the door of opportunity for him. It was Josephs responsibility to be ready to act in faith when called upon.
I often take on the role of trying to figure out how to get Gods work done. It can be real overwhelming.
Our responsibility when called into a God project is to be ready. The position of opportunity likely needs to come from God. Provision will follow. Be patient and wait for God to work. Remember, God lives in eternity with no time limits.
Father, please guide us into understanding and patient faith.

Trials / Frustrations / Complaining

Posted April 30, 2010 by Doug
Categories: Uncategorized

It is very easy for us to complain about trials and circumstances surrounding us. We complain about weather, health, economy, etc. We are all guilty of complaint. Frequently I complain about things that I can’t control or change. I try to be positive and upbeat but there are those times that life just seems to bring out the complainer in me. I’m committed to try and reduce this trend and do a better job of being upbeat.

Job is a book in the Old Testament. The book is about Job.  God gave Satan the approval to try and turn Job against Him. Satan attacked Job with everything he had. Satan took away the life of Job’s children, his wealth, his health and then Satan tried to use Job’s wife against  him. Job stood firm in the Lord but was caught up in listening to friends who thought the problems stemmed from something Job had done wrong. Although Job remained true to the Lord, he complained and wished he were never born. God listened to the counsel of the friends and all the complaining and then after a long while He Spoke to Job.

Job 38: 2 – 3 Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you will answer me.

How would we answer God if he were to ask us this question? Would we be proud of our behavior and thought pattern? Would we stand up nice and straight and be proud of all the time wasted in wonder and complaint?

God allows circumstances to surround us for correction, growth, maturing in faith and many other reasons.  We need to take the position of faithfully looking to Jesus and knowing He is always with us. He knows our every need before we ask. He knows the future and is preparing us for just that. I need to stand as a man and be counted now. Lord what are you teaching me today and how might I learn the lesson of this circumstance. Lord, this is going to take a lot of practice but please guide me.

Father – please help us gain a better disposition and behavior – we believe you work all things for good because that is your promise for those who love you. For those who are called according to your purpose. We believe you are working out patience and humility in us. Please help us learn and grow by the circumstances we experience. Amen.

Counting Your Blessing #4

Posted April 19, 2010 by Doug
Categories: Uncategorized

In our last lesson, we learned that perseverance is essential. These are the concluding thoughts from Sheila in this 4 part lesson.

I can imagine the smiles on the faces and perhaps the tears of joy on our cheeks when the Lord looks into our eyes with His perfect love and says “My beloved – you have persevered under trial!  You have stood the test!”  And as He presents you with the crown of life, He says “Well done, good and faithful servant!  Well, done!”  At that moment, I imagine we will realize the promise of James 1:12 “Blessed (happy) is the man or woman who perseveres under trial.”  Let’s pray.

Lord:

Thank you for your Word and for revealing to us that as we strain at the oars due to various life storms, we can take courage knowing that you see us and you are with us working good through the difficulties and we do not need to be afraid.  Please help each of us to have a willing (not hardened) heart to let you into the boat with us so that we may have calmness and peace.  Please provide us with wisdom of your will and understanding to see the good you are doing through our trials and help us to be able to consider it pure joy and count it as one of your many blessings upon our lives.  We give thanks to you in all things.  In Jesus’ name, I pray.  Amen

Count Your Blessings #3

Posted April 13, 2010 by Doug
Categories: Uncategorized

3) To use us to help others –

-Matthew 5:14 – Jesus tells us we are the light of the world.

-2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

-Sometimes God uses people in my life that never say a word to me or do anything for me.  Just seeing their godly example or hearing of their faith and perseverance in the midst of a trial encourages me and helps me to keep going even though the going may be quite difficult. In the midst of my trials, I aspire to have the same attitude as:

1)  Paul in Philippians 4:11-13 – “I have learned the secret of being content in whatever the circumstance, in any and every situation.  I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (or sufficient grace).”

2)  Jesus who said in Luke 22:42 “Father, not my will, but yours.”

3)  My friend Ann who would hold out her life to God like holding out her hand with an attitude of “God, you put into it or take from it whatever you see best.  I trust you!”

When we have this attitude, we are able to faithfully persevere and God gives us these promises for doing so: Revelation 21:3-4 tells us “There is a day coming when God will wipe every tear from our eyes.  There will be no more death, mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will have passed away.”

Luke 6:21 says there is a day coming when we will laugh!

James 1:12 gives us this promise in trials:  “Blessed (happy) is the man or woman who perseveres under trial because when he or she has stood the test, he or she will receive the crown of life that God has promised for those who love Him.”  In other words, God will not forget our faithfulness in trials.  He will “bless” us for it.  The Bible tells us there will be a reward!

Adversity Study #2

Posted April 9, 2010 by Doug
Categories: Uncategorized

Sheila’s study continued:

The disciples struggled with this too and the Bible gives us an example of how their hearts were hardened because of their lack of understanding about what was happening

in their lives.  This event takes place immediately after Jesus fed 5,000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.  Let’s look at Mark 6:34-52.  Jesus told the disciples in their terrifying experience and we can apply this to our lives as well that in the midst of a trial to “take courage” and see that He (the Lord) is in the midst.  He said “Do not be afraid.”  In Proverbs 3:5, God says to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”  In Isaiah 55:8, the Lord declares that His thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are our ways His ways.   We think with a limited-in-knowledge, sin-tainted, earthly perspective and God thinks with an all-knowing, perfect eternal perspective.  That’s quite a difference, wouldn’t you agree?

The Bible tells us that trouble sometimes comes to us through the exercising of our own freewill and making our own poor choices in life and sometimes we are the victims of someone else’s poor choices.  Like the trial in Paul’s life, other trials are a part of our lives as well.  Like the disciples, if we let God into the boat of life with us, He can bring calmness or peace.  He works in the midst of our trials or life storms in three ways:

1)  To reveal His glory – His power to do what is humanly impossible.

-We see this in the feeding of the 5,000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish

-We see this with Jesus walking on the water and calming the wind

-We can see this in our own lives – “Everyday holds the possibility

of a miracle (Elizabeth David).  In Matthew 19:26, Jesus said “all

things are possible with God.”

-The Lord told Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that God’s power was made

perfect in Paul’s weakness.

2)  To work “good” in our lives –

-Paul said the “thorn in his flesh” was to keep him from being

conceited because of surpassingly great revelations (2 Cor. 12:7)

-Paul also says of his many hardships in the province of Asia that

they happened that they might not rely on themselves but upon God

(2 Corinthians 1:9)

-Trials prepare us for eternity.  James 1:3 says “The testing of our faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that we may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.”

2 Corinthians 4:17 says that “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

-When we walk in sin, God disciplines those He loves to redirect us toward godly living which is His best for us.  (Hebrews 12)

-If it were not for trials in my life, I would not have sought God, the Creator.  I was pursuing fulfillment through the pleasures of what He created.

Isn’t it interesting how the news media has been reporting that people are beginning to go to church.  Our church has seen an increase in people lately.

-Romans 8:28 tells us “in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Part 3 will continue this thought pattern

Counting Your Blessings

Posted April 7, 2010 by Doug
Categories: Uncategorized

Part one of several parts: Sheila is the author

What comes to mind when you hear someone say “Count your blessings!”

A blessing is “a thing conducive to happiness.”  To be blessed is to “pronounce happy!”

It is pretty easy for most of us to build a list of things that bring us blessing or happiness in our lives, but maybe you are thinking over your life at this moment and you see a glaring aspect of it that is difficult and frustrating.  You don’t understand it.  It does not make you happy at all!  In fact, you may be quite angry about it.  If that is you, I would like you to know that you are not alone.

  • I can personally relate to you.
  • If you have been listening to the news over the past few months, you are

aware that many Americans are experiencing great difficulties right now.

  • There are also many Biblical examples of people who throughout history have

struggled and experienced great trials in their lives.

  • Even Jesus struggled to carry out the cup given to Him in His life.  We see this

in Luke 22:42 when He cried out “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me.”  Jesus sympathizes with us.  Scripture also tells us Jesus weeps with His

people and He prays for us.  This thought has been a great comfort to me in my own personal struggles.

  • The apostle Paul also understood life difficulties – In 2 Corinthians 12:7, he says

“there was given to him a thorn in his flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment

him.”  (Paul’s language indicates that it was physical, painful and humiliating.)

You may be thinking “I thought we were talking about blessings and here we are talking about life difficulties.  I don’t get the connection!”

The connection is found in James 1:2.  God’s Word tells us that we should “consider it pure joy whenever we face trials of many kinds.”

Joy means a source of happiness or blessing; something in which to

rejoice, to have gladness in, to view as a benefit or for profit.

I don’t’ know about you, but this is not always easy for me and even Paul struggled to have this attitude – it says in 2 Corinthians 12:8 that he pleaded with the Lord three times to take away the thorn in his flesh that tormented him.  Paul’s understanding of his situation was obviously different from God’s because we see in verse 9 the Lord answered Paul’s pleading with “My grace is sufficient for you.”