Put your trust in God

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 10.15.58 AMIt is said all the time in Christian circles that we should put our trust in God.  But we are so easily swayed by our daily circumstances.  Just as Peter took his eyes off of the Lord while walking towards Jesus on the water and became afraid because of the wind and the waves, we become distracted by even lesser things and fail to trust God.

I believe it is a discipline.  We should make a point to often remind ourselves of God’s greatness and of His awesome power.  Is there anything too hard for God?  And yet why then do we wonder if God has what it takes to help us through the day.  What freedom we can have as we walk trusting in God.  He has already gone ahead of us and prepared a path on which we can walk with boldness and confidence.

We are also commanded in Scripture to be ready to answer anyone who asks us to give a reason for the hope that we have.  Take some time to note down the MANY times God has come through for you in the past.  Then take some more time to say thank you t0 God for helping you in those things.  It should take a long time and it will be good.

Put your trust in God.  We all put our trust in something each day.  Let’s try making a conscious choice to put our trust in the Creator of the universe!

 

 

 

 

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Matthew 6

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 11.56.41 AMAs I’ve been reading the Book of Matthew, in Chapter 6 three themes stood out to me.

The first is found in Matthew 6:8

“…your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”

I noticed that Jesus repeated this also towards the end of the chapter in verses 31-32,

“Therefore do not worry and be anxious, saying, What are we going to have to eat? or, What are we going to have to drink? or, What are we going to have to wear? For the Gentiles (heathen) wish for and crave and diligently seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows well that you need them all.”

I’m reminded of Israel in the wilderness when I read these verses. Three things are mentioned here. Food, drink, and clothing. God gave them food when they needed it (Exodus 16), water from the rock when they thirsted…more than once… (Exodus 17, Numbers 20), and it says that their clothes never wore out or got old (Deuteronomy 8:4)!

In Deuteronomy 2:7 it says: “For the Lord your god has blessed you in all the work of your hand. He knows you walking through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing.”

God supplied all their need and promises to do that for us too:
“And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:19

Something else I noticed in Matthew 6 was that Jesus wants us to be focused on HIM alone. In verses 18-21 Jesus talks about storing up treasure in heaven and says “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (verse 21)

And in Matthew 6:24:

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions, or whatever is trusted in.)”

I can see this principle in Matthew 6:33 as well:

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all his kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things will be given you besides.”

Jesus wants us to have a singular focus…on Him alone! He will work out all the rest.

Finally, a phrase continually mentioned in Matthew 6 is “Your father who sees in secret”

Matthew 6:4 “…your Father Who sees in secret will reward you openly.

Matthew 6:6 “…your Father Who is in secret; and your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open.

Matthew 6:18 “…your Father, Who sees in secret; and your Father Who sees in secret will reward you in the open.”

I think God’s concern here is not so much us trying to do everything secretly… but that our heart attitude and focus would be on Him, rather than men. This is a good reminder that God wants us not to seek man’s approval, but to live and work before Him!

“Now am I trying to win the favor of men, or of God? Do I seek to please men? If I were still seeking popularity with men, I should not be a bond servant of Christ (the Messiah).” – Galatians 1:10

 

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He is El Shaddai

leaf-654121_1920This past week I had the privilege of sitting in while some of our students shared from the Scriptures on the subject of God’s character.  They focused on four names of God:  Elohim, Adonai, Jehovah and El Shaddai.

It is always enjoyable for me and very much food for my soul!  One of the students shared about El Shaddai.  He is Almighty God and He is also the Almighty Breast.  He is the source of all and any nourishment and comfort that we will ever need.  Psalm 23 paints a beautiful picture of El Shaddai.  “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.  He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for You are with me; Your rod and staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.  Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

Read those words through slowly, thoughtfully.  He is El Shaddai.

 

 

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Through God we shall do valiantly.

Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 8.53.12 AMPsalm 108:12-13

Give us help against the adversary, for vain is the help of man. Through and with God we shall do valiantly, for He it is Who shall tread down our adversaries.”

I have been reminded practically to depend on the Lord lately. Somehow, we get distracted, maybe busy with the many details in our day that we forget… even in challenges… that God is with us and can be depended on. The Psalmist knew the secret to victory in battle. It wasn’t dependent upon his own resources, or the help of man, but only through and with God he would have victory over the enemy. In daily issues, I’ve been reminded that I can pray like the Psalmist did and ask God for help in times of trouble, when things may not be going the way they “should”, committing different situations to Him. When we’re dependent upon Him we can see victory in the situations we’re going through.

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“As we wait upon the LORD….strength will rise!”

exploring alberta (37)I don’t like waiting.  I am very impatient.  And yet, as a follower of Jesus, that is exactly what he asks me to do on a regular basis…wait.

In our world we have come to expect instant access to almost anything and we get annoyed by waiting.   I think part of the reason God wants us to wait is to see if we will really trust Him or not.  Abraham was 75 years old when God promised that he would have numerous descendants, but Isaac was not born for another 15 years.  Now Abraham was not perfect but he is held up as a man of faith in Hebrews.  He did learn to trust God in the course of his lifetime on earth.

When we wait we are saying to God that we indeed do trust Him and can spend our days serving and blessing others as God takes care of all of our needs!  So we don’t need to get tired of waiting, but should rather get used to it…

Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

Isaiah 40:31

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Faith Working Through Love

Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 11.17.06 AMThese were some thoughts I had while riding on the train in response to a sermon by John Piper talking about marriage. At one point he gave a scenario of him giving a rose to his wife on their anniversary, and if in response to her thanks he said, “Don’t mention it, I was only doing my duty,”  it would drastically take away from the gesture of “love”. I think his premise was that love isn’t really love if it’s merely done out of duty. Personally, if someone is showing me love I want them to because they want to, not because they feel like they have to. It reminds me of Proverbs 23:6-7, “Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy; do not desire his delicacies, for he is like one who is inwardly calculating. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, but his heart is not with you.” Love may be an action, but it still includes the heart.  So how do we love when the loving gets hard without merely gritting our teeth and doing our duty? I believe the answer is in beholding and putting our faith completely in Jesus Christ.

 

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly…God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6,8 ESV

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Gal. 5:6 (NIV)

(I Don’t Want to Love You for Who You are Being)

The glory of the love of God in our lives is that it is a love that does not stop with those who receive it, but generates a response in the hearts that are shown such grace to pour it out on those who are around us, whether they are lovable or unlovable, near or far, deserving or undeserving. The conditions for this love to rise are not in me or the other person, they are in Christ. I am unsteady, the other is unsteady, but Christ is a rock! The love we feel and observe in Christ is not one of cold calculated ‘sacrificial’ duty, it is one of overflowing affection and grace that endures the unbearable for the joy set before it! It’s full of hope, not depressed acceptance of terrible circumstances as if there’s no promise of freedom. It believes in the power of God to raise the dead! Christ went to the cross for me, not because I deserved it. In fact the realized reality of my undeserving state stirs my heart to tears and overflowing gratitude and joy in view of the magnitude of Christ’s outpouring love. His sacrifice was not a response to my love for Him. “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” It was an initiative “for the praise of His glory”, and that fact does not turn me away, but it draws me all the more, because that initiative will never end, and His loved ones don’t experience anything less by it – but only more. Those that are drawing their love from this overflowing fountain don’t love out of cold duty, but with warm affection, grace and joy, that is as steady as the Rock it flows from – Jesus Christ. This kind of love isn’t waiting for you to meet certain conditions before it’s given, so don’t ever be disappointed when someone doesn’t love you for who you are being, when they are loving you because of who Christ is, because that kind of love has the potential to last whether you are being charming or despicable, faithful or wavering, loveable or unbearable. It’s faith working through love, it’s Christ loving you through their surrendered person. Yet, perhaps like Christ’s great gift of salvation, it won’t be as richly enjoyed unless it’s thankfully received, and lovingly reciprocated. Being a child of God is not a one time decision, it’s a daily reality that continually takes an appropriate response in order to be enjoyed. Likewise, a friendship, a marriage, or the relationship to your kids, may start at a certain point, but it will always require love freely given, as well as the thankful reciprocation of love, if there is to be any Christlike growth and God-centered joy experienced with them.

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High places of Responsibility.

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 3.08.18 PMHabakkuk 3:19

 The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!

 

The Lord has used this verse a few times in my life to encourage me. For one, when I am afraid, HE is my personal bravery, as it says in the beginning of the verse. But I want to share about what I’ve learned from the last word in this verse in the amplified version. He makes us to walk upon our high places of responsibility.

In my own life, I’ve been seeing that as I’m getting older, and more and more responsibilities are being placed on me, God is faithful to help me in those areas of my life where I need to be responsible.

One time in particular stands out when I was looking for a job. I had no work for a month, and was trying my best to get one. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to get one. Eventually, I went on a prayer walk, and simply asked the Lord to help me to “walk upon my high places of… responsibility.” Two minutes after I prayed I got a call from the boss at my previous job asking if I could come to work the next day, and for the next 5 months, I was up to my ears in work!!! I even had extra jobs for people lining up on weekends. God really answered that prayer.

Whether it’s the expectation to be at work on time, or to look after children… whatever the task may be, God can help us to “Walk…upon our high places of responsibility.

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Sing to the LORD a new song!

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 10.50.58 AMThese days it can be easy to become discouraged when we look at the world around us.  There is the threat of terrorism, unpredictable climate, new diseases, financial crises, and that is just the beginning.  We also know that things on the world stage will not get any better but will actually worsen before Christ returns.
And yet…..God!  He is there.  He knows.  He has a plan and He is not swayed by world events.  God knows every little detail of what is going on, no surprises for Him.  So when we put our trust in the LORD as the people of Israel were told to many times, we can indeed sing to Him a new song.  The song can be one of hope for what the future holds.  The song can also be of rejoicing because of the One who is indeed holding the future.

We have something to offer in this dark and troubled world.  Let us live in such a way that we are seen as a people of hope and joy.

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Choices

Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 3.29.52 PMThroughout life, there are a numerous decisions to make. Everything from the small ones to the big ones. Sometimes they can be subconscious, like flicking the light off to go to bed, or sometimes they can be seemingly impossible. One thing that I feel like God has put on my heart recently is about exactly this. How do we, as Christians, make our decisions. Do we sit down and think about? Do we ask other people for advice? Do we toss a coin? What does God instruct us to do?

In Philippians 4:6 (NASB) it is written, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” God wants us to to ask Him. He wants us to come before Him and ask for His advice. This is really the first thing we should be doing. If we truly believe that the outcome of any given situation is in God’s hands and we are giving it to Him then we should be relieved of all anxiety and stress. God is good and He is all knowing so He will make sure that when we ask Him for help making decisions He will open doors up for us. His way is really the only way.

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Servanthood

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-2-15-38-pm“[Christ] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form,  He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:6-8 (ESV)

What does servanthood look like? Well probably a lot like the Lord Jesus when He lowered Himself from equality with God to be as one of us. And if we would follow in His example of servanthood at all, it will take a life lived by the Spirit, because the flesh will want no true part in it! Christ’s obedience went to the point of death, and if we would truly humble ourselves below God I don’t think it would be much different for us, although perhaps it would not include a physical martyrdom. 

Christ being given a physical body found it then imperative to serve. In Hebrews 10, Christ’s words are, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me;…Behold, I have come to do your will, O God…” His body was prepared for the direct purpose of fulfilling God’s will, which meant offering it once for all as a sacrifice for sins. Now it is in the blood of that sacrifice where He offered Himself through the eternal Spirit without blemish to God that we have our conscience purified from dead works to serve the living God. (Heb. 9:14) Merely wanting to serve God and to follow the example of Jesus is not enough. It takes the sanctifying work of Christ by His blood in our lives, otherwise we will be left in the deadness of our works trying to make up for our sin. As God’s servants, we should not operate from a position of debt paying, but from a cleansed conscience in loving obedience. 

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