What I learned this past summer: God will help us!

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-11-33-57-amWhile working at Capernwray in the summer, amid all the tasks set before me, I learned practically that God is faithful to help me with each one as I depended on him.

“After that I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse [appeared]! The One Who was riding it is called Faithful (Trustworthy, Loyal, Incorruptible, Steady) and True, and He passes judgement and wages war in righteousness (holiness, justice, and uprightness).” Revelation 19:11

After giving my different tasks to the Lord, committing them to Him in prayer (Psalm 37:5) I saw over and over again that He is totally faithful. Whether it was planning a game for kids, writing a rap, or playing drums, He was faithful to use whatever task I gave him for His glory.

What stood out to me about this passage in Revelation is that Jesus is CALLED “Faithful”. As we learned at bible school, God’s names show his character! While reading scripture, it’s easy to find verses about God’s faithfulness… but this was the first time I saw a verse where He is called “Faithful”!

In many of my preparations for games and lessons for the children during the summer, I would pray, and seek Him in His word, and the Lord would encourage me.

1 Samuel 12:22 says:

“The Lord will not forsake His people for His great name’s sake, for it has pleased him to make you a people for Himself.”

God has promised over and over again in scripture not to forsake his people. If we are his children, made right with him by believing in Jesus, and he gives us a job to do and we depend on Him, committing the task to Him in prayer, he is faithful… He won’t forsake us!

“For the Lord will not cast off nor spurn His people, neither will He abandon His heritage.” – Psalm 94:14

Again, God isn’t going to abandon us!

Another promise I’ve seen in scripture, concerning doing things or praying about things for HIS glory is in Isaiah 41:10,13, and 44:2

“Fear not (There is nothing to fear)… I will help you…”

“For I the Lord your God hold your right hand; I am the Lord Who says to you, Fear not; I will help you!”

“Thus says the Lord, Who made you and formed you from the womb, Who will help you: Fear not…”

I’ve seen it again and again, how God is faithful to help us as we depend on Him, committing the tasks to Him, trusting Him, giving it all to Him in prayer. He will not forsake us! He will help us!

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Prayer Is Essential

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 4.55.13 PMPrayer is something that I’ve never seen to be as crucially important. I’ve never had a problem doing it but I simply didn’t see the importance of it you could say. God has been continuing to teach me over the last couple of months how very important it actually is. There have been instances where I’ve prayed for a unique situation that I maybe wouldn’t originally pray for and my prayer would be answered within a couple days. Now, to be clear, I’m not saying that God tangibly answers all prayers within a couple of days because I don’t believe He does. He answers prayers in His own time and in His own way that may be very different then what we would expect. I do believe, however, that God really does want us to be in constant prayer. As Philipians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” It’s been my experience that I feel God prompting my heart to talk to Him about all things, especially things that I find important to me. I think it’s important to ask ourselves, who are we going to first when we have something that needs tone dealt with? Other people of God. We need to always bring it back to God. He’s the only One even capable of dealing with the situations or challenges we find ourselves in. Why shouldn’t we go to Him? We’re not called to lean on our own understanding but to lean on Him. This all leads back to prayer as this is the way we communicate with Him. Prayer is not overrated. Prayer is essential. Our souls hunger and thirst for communion with God and we’re really robbing ourselves if we don’t take part in prayer.

James 5:13-16 reads, “Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven of him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous manna accomplish much.”

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All To His Glory

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 10.40.59 AMRomans 9 – 11 

 

“For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.” Romans 10:3

 

We may have a form of zeal for God, very active, very disciplined, but it may be a zeal that is not according to knowledge. The knowledge of God’s righteousness, which is not on the basis of works, but on the basis of God’s gracious choice to show mercy to us who were once disobedient, giving us righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. So, if it is on the basis of God’s choice, then it is rooted in His purpose, and if rooted in His purpose, then it is for His glory.

Yet this way of living must be condemned in our hearts. There is none righteous, no not one. For us to establish our own righteousness is futility in it’s highest endeavors; we are fighting against God’s design to shut us all up in disobedience and to show mercy to all of us, and so by doing this we are refusing His mercy and stumbling over the Rock of Offense as we try to support the root when we are but branches. To subject ourselves to the righteousness of God is to place ourselves in a position of dependence to receive that righteousness. As Paul stated in Romans 10, “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” In other words, ‘I am trusting in Jesus and His work to make me righteous, I am declaring by my life that He is Lord and that I am dependent on my Master’s will.’ In calling on the name of the Lord, I am not calling on any other help but Jehovah Himself, because by this point He has revealed clearly enough that there is salvation in no other. In all of this I am laying down dependence on all others, including myself, and placing it solely in Christ Jesus. In this way I subject myself to the mercy of God, and reject the efficacy I placed on my own works, my heritage, my standards and my zeal to make me right before God. All we have is Christ and by His grace He will live, the righteousness that He Is, in and through us. If it does not originate from God then it still comes from us, and that is not true righteousness. If it is true righteousness, it all comes from Him, and so He gets all the glory! We did not make the first move, we did not want God before He wanted us. We are at the mercy of His choice, and praise be to God He has shown us that mercy! There is nothing we have that we did not receive, and there is nothing we have or can give God that He should owe us repayment.

Now is the time to subject ourselves to the righteousness of God – Jesus Christ – and to trust in Him so that we will not be disappointed. For this takes the glory we were striving for and rightfully ascribes it to Christ; the righteousness we sought secretly for our own praise, now is ours, but to the praise of Jesus Christ. Therefore we must reject the righteousness that comes of works, and submit ourselves to Jesus Christ, that His divine influence in our hearts might outwork in our lives.

“So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy; For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” Romans 9:16; 11:36

tobiasulrich
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Dealing with fear.

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 10.35.46 AMSomething I’ve learned lately about the Christian life: It’s not easy. The enemy can attack in all sorts of ways when we’re depending on the Lord and seeing Him do amazing things in and through us.

One thing I’ve been dealing with in my own walk with Christ has been fear. The other day, after feeling afraid, I turned to Jesus and asked Him to guide me as to where to read in His word. I ended up reading Psalm 34.

David records that in times in his life, when he was going though trouble, the Lord delivered him from all his fears. There are 4 verses in that one psalm that mention that!

Psalm 34: 4, 6, 17, & 19
“I sought the Lord, and He answered me,

And delivered me from all my fears.”

 

“This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him

And saved him out of all his troubles.”

 

“The righteous cry, and the Lord hears

And delivers them out of all their troubles.”

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous,

But the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

I find it so comforting here, that David mentions that God didn’t deliver him from only some of his fears, but ALL his fears! It really gives me confidence in moments when I’m afraid to look at these verses and realize that whatever I may be going though or foresee myself going through in the future, God WILL deliver me from all my fears. He is a Deliverer! He’s done so for David, and I know He has even done so for me in the past! He will deliver me!
We truly have a good reason to “bless the Lord at all times” and let “His praise… continually be in my mouth.” (Psalm 34:1)

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In His Hands

IMG_0819El Shaddai stands for All Powerful Sustainer, Provider and Nourisher. I looked up the verb, to sustain, in the secular dictionary and although the definitions are meant for objects I found them to be true as principles and characteristics of Jesus Christ.

Sustaining is described as something that can bear the weight of an object without breaking or falling. God does this for us almost every day. When we hand Him our burdens He is strong enough to bear the weight of them. Our sins and troubles will not break Him and they will not be too much for Him.

Along the lines of this it also speaks of how sustaining strengthens or supports physically or mentally. When we allow God’s promises to take root in our life then we can lean on them when we’re weak. They will strengthen us and support us through the most challenging of times. I know that this has been proven true in my life. God constantly gives me strength to bear things which I cannot on my own. Even the simplest of tasks we need His help with.

Another definition of sustaining is to undergo or suffer something unpleasant, especially in regards to an injury. This can clearly be seen in scripture with Jesus’ death. He sustained the trauma of scourging at the hands of those who unjustly despised Him and He was murdered in one of the worst ways possible. He also sustained a spiritual death so we don’t have to, receiving hours worth of punishment for our sins. He sustained these things to provide a better life for us. Along with this it describes a sustainer as something that can uphold, affirm, or confirm the justice or validity of something else which is exactly what Jesus has done in reference to God. Jesus came to Earth, perfectly demonstrating the justice, validity and character of God.
A story that demonstrates this from the Gospels is found in Matthew 14:22-33. During this story Christ starts to walk to them on the water and from the account taken in Mark 6:48 it says that He actually intended to walk right by them. He wasn’t going to stop. However, they called out to Him because they were scared and I believe that it’s for this very reason that He approached them. He was providing for their mental and emotional needs. They were completely terrified and He drew near to calm their fears. He was giving them peace of mind. In this story I believe the storms are representing the worries and fears in our lives.

Like I said earlier, these predominantly come from believing that we won’t be adequately cared for. If Peter truly and fully believed in Jesus to provide safety for him then there’s no reason that he would have taken his eyes off of Jesus in the first place. He wouldn’t have shifted his focus to the other things happening and therefore he wouldn’t have started to sink. Our lives need to be indicative of the truth that God will protect us, nourish us and sustain us. People will see a difference in us if this happens because we won’t have to worry and we won’t have to have the weight of large decisions on our shoulders because we know that no matter the outcome it’s in God’s hands and He will provide for us what we need the most.

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“The Lord your God who goes before you…”

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 8.39.53 AMA few weeks ago, work slowed down, and I had no job for a while. The day after this happened, I went to a funeral. At the funeral, a couple sang a song by Kari Jobe called  “I am not alone”. I had never heard the song before, but I have never felt the Lord speak so clearly to me in a song than when I heard them sing. One of the lyrics in the chorus is: “You will go before me, you will never leave me.” I really sensed the Lord comforting me with these words when I heard them.

Since that day, pretty much on a daily basis, as I’ve been spending time with the Lord, I continue to see verses all over scripture about how God goes before us.

While not having work, it’s easy to doubt God’s faithfulness and fear the future. I know it was a huge topic at the end of bible school. I had many conversations about what the plan was when we got home after being on Thetis Island for the year. (I never really liked those.)

In Exodus, when Israel was finally let out of Egypt after all the plagues God had sent, it says that:

“The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.” – Exodus 13:21-22

God lead Israel, even to the red sea… a hopeless situation… where he showed Israel his love for them and the Egyptians that He was the Lord.

Deuteronomy 1:30 + 33 says:

The Lord your God who goes before you, He will fight for you just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes,… Who went in the way before you to search out a place to pitch your tents, in fire by night, to show you by what way you should go, and in the cloud by day.”

Again and again we see God’s faithfulness to Israel as he lead them to the promised land. He really was “The Lord your God who goes before you”. What’s awesome is that he still is TODAY!

Jesus talks about worrying about the future as well!

“So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.” –Matthew 6:34

We are commanded to “Seek first his kingdom and His righteousness” before this. God promises to take care of us if we do this! (Matthew 6:33)

As a note of personal testimony of God’s goodness during this time, my grandmother was taken to hospital while I had no work, and because I was home, my mom could look after my grandma and take care of all she needed to at work while I stayed home to do all the cooking, cleaning, etc. Perfect timing! Isn’t that cool?!

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For God Only

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 5.08.14 PM“My soul waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation. He only is my rock…” Psalm 62:1,2a

O soul, are you waiting for God only? Is He your one desire above all else that you long for intensely? Or have other things taken His place? Let go of striving for vanity. Take a break and quietly wait for the Lord to free you from all bondage of dissatisfaction. There is no aid, that you can give or call for, to improve your empty state. It is Christ alone that saves you and that continues to be your salvation! Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him! We may long for the fellowship of others, or the comforts of a close companion that we can bare our troubles to, yet it is God whom we must cast all our burdens upon. He is the closest companion, He will never leave nor forsake us, and His love is far deeper and more satisfying than all others.

If it be treasures that captivate your longings and eager expectations, then let your heart flee their lure! What “moth and rust doth corrupt” can never fulfill your eternal soul nor save to make you incorruptible. You were purchased by the imperishable, incorruptible seed – don’t let your heart be bribed by what is perishable! Setting your footing and hope and desire on those things that are fleeting makes for unstable ground. When God is our refuge we will never be shaken, for He who is our hope and salvation can never falter.
“Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” Isaiah 28:16; Romans 9:33; 10:11

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Who are we moulded by?

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 9.40.54 AMIt’s a very common desire among us to be well liked by others. We can become pushovers or be easily moulded into someone we’re not to try to please everyone else around us. When we concern ourselves with the worldly opinions of others we can be distracted from God’s opinion of us. This includes everything from our image of ourself to the relationships we have.
It’s important to recognize whether the opinions of others are helping to build us up, encourage us, and/or be constructive or whether it’s detrimental. If we’re worried about how we look to others instead of how we look to God, there’s a problem.
The people in our lives can either help to point us towards Christ or they can be causing us to focus on only ourselves. We need to make sure that we choose the people near to us very carefully. Proverbs 4:23 (NASB) says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” The people we let closest to our hearts will have the greatest impact on us. If they’re negative people we may start to behave more like them but if they’re Godly people that bring us closer to Christ our relationship with God will deepen.
If we allow everyone around us to influence who we are, how we look, and what we say then we’ll be moulded into something that society tells us is okay. However, if Christ is our example then we’ll be moulded into a person that reflects Him, bringing glory to His name and we won’t seek to please the world. 1 Samuel 16:7 (NASB) reads, “…God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance but the LORD looks at the heart.” In a world telling us who to be we must take care to remember Whose we are and what that means for us and our lives.

(Photo credit: Marty Smith)

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Even when we laugh at God, He blesses us!

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 11.36.22 AMIn the seventeenth and eighteenth chapters of Matthew we read the account of Isaac’s promised birth to Abraham and Sarah.  This really should not have been that big of a surprise to Abraham.  Years earlier God had promised that He would not only give Abraham a son (he was Abram at the time), but the number of his descendants would be as numerous as the stars, Gen. 15: 2-5.

Now many years later Abraham and Sarah have yet to have a child together.  They had to know God would be faithful to keep His promise.  And yet when the message came from God that Isaac would be born within the next year, Sarah laughed.  “Sarah laughed to herself…” Gen. 18:13.

God puts up with our frailty and our doubting hearts.  Oh how much we are like little children!  We need to be reminded again and again that our God is faithful and true!  He has wonderful things in store for us.  And rather than laugh with doubt, He longs for us to say, “Yes LORD may it be true!”

 

 

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Serving the Lord at work.

FullSizeRenderLately, as I’ve encountered different difficulties at work, I believe the Lord has really been encouraging me in his word. I’ve been seeing so many different verses of instruction for people who are servants in scripture. I know the Lord wants me to serve my boss and co-workers at work, even when it’s hard and even when they treat me poorly.

Here are the verses about serving that have stood out to me that I would like to share:

Ephesians 6:5-8

“Servants (slaves), be obedient to those who are your physical masters, having respect for them and eager concern to please them, in singleness of motive and with all your heart, as [service] to Christ [Himself]—

 Not in the way of eye-service [as if they were watching you] and only to please men, but as servants (slaves) of Christ, doing the will of God heartily and with your whole soul;

 Rendering service readily with goodwill, as to the Lord and not to men,

 Knowing that for whatever good anyone does, he will receive his reward from the Lord, whether he is slave or free.”

 

1 Peter 2:18-19

“[You who are] household servants, be submissive to your masters with all [proper] respect, not only to those who are kind and considerate and reasonable, but also to those who are surly (overbearing, unjust, and crooked).

 For one is regarded favorably (is approved, acceptable, and thankworthy) if, as in the sight of God, he endures the pain of unjust suffering.”

These verses have really spoken into my personal circumstances.  I’m learning that when others treat me poorly, I need to be submissive, not try to talk back, argue, or be angry, but forgive and continue to serve them as I am serving the Lord. I also think of what Jesus said: “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)

Concerning my attitude while working every day, these verses have been really helpful. I’ve learned I need to do all my work unto the Lord (as also mentioned in Ephesians 6 above) and to do so in God’s strength, relying on him.

Colossians 3:23-24

 “Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily (from the soul), as [something done] for the Lord and not for men,

 Knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [and not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [real] reward. [The One Whom] you are actually serving [is] the Lord Christ (the Messiah).”

1 Peter 4:11

“Whoever speaks, [let him do it as one who utters] oracles of God; whoever renders service, [let him do it] as with the strength which God furnishes abundantly, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ (the Messiah). To Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever (through endless ages). Amen (so be it).”

It’s amazing how God can really give us helpful instruction in our times of need and for our life.

His word truly is “…a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105

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