Saturday, November 22, 2014

From My Distress ...

Psalm 118:5-6 - "From my distress I called upon the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me in a large place. The Lord is for me; I will not fear."

Nobody likes to be in pain. A troubled or grieving heart is often the worst type of sickness because there does not seem a quick remedy. To lose a loved one or to experience morbid depression can feel as if something has scooped our insides dry and left us numb. However, at our lowest we can become God's candidate for a miracle. At these times, we need to lean on God and others to help us through.

However, often God desires us to learn to rely upon Him. While distress is often the precursor to relief, pain can likewise cause us to seek relief. While these truisms may seem obvious, how many of us continue to wallow in our sorrow and grief when the Lord has made a way for us? No longer should we feel trapped and claustrophobic God has promised to put us in a large, expansive place if we cry out to Him. Then, as the psalmist, we can truly say, "whom shall I fear? for we will know without a doubt the Lord is for us.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Lord is Good!

Nahum 1:7 - "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him."

Do we know the Gatekeeper, the One in whom we can take refuge when all hell is coming against us? His Name is Jesus Christ and He only allows refuge to those whom He knows! We cannot expect to turn to God in a crisis and imagine Him allowing us sanctuary if we have been living like the devil. The Lord is compassionate and slow to anger with much patience. However, He is also good. Many people think that "good" means God is a Santa Claus or a sugar daddy that will say, "Oh that's okay!" and wink at their sin and give them a few hundred bucks to get them out of a jam. God is good, but He is first of all fair. He will not be mocked but will be both merciful and full of justice. If we accept His mercy, we best be able to also accept His righteous nature and character.

Once we know "the Lord is good" and understand He a Father who disciplines His children in love, then we will know the strength of His stronghold. There will be nothing to assail us for we have put our trust in the One who is vigilant to watch and keep us through every danger.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Saved By Grace!

Titus 3:5 - "He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,"

God's mission statement to mankind is encapsulated in this verse, beloved. First and foremost, it is nothing we have earned out of our own righteousness. Only the blood of Jesus and His redemption could take the foulness of our treacherous souls and cause us to born again by His Spirit. Oh what mercy and grace!

Justification before God can only be achieved through a total cleansing. We will never be more white and holy in God's eyes then when we first accepted Jesus' redeeming work. Though our sins were as scarlet they were made as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). In Christ, we have been made the righteousness of God (II Corinthians 5:21). Ah, but there is so much more! We have the privilege as sons and daughters of God to live holy by the "renewing of the Holy Spirit." Our gratitude for His indescribable gift should be one of passion and desire of to dwell in His presence. By surrendering to God, moment by moment, we experience sanctification, causing us to be changed into the image of our Savior while in mortal flesh. Oh, the prospective joys of looking like our Master in this lifetime! It should thrill us and propel us to His feet that He might make us instruments of love to this dying world!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Fall and Rise of the Believer

Micah 7:8 - "Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise; though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me."

We will fall from time to time. It is inevitable because we are sons and daughters of light and we live in the darkness. A beloved brother who is from what many would call the heart of darkness in Africa states how the darkness is so much more pronounced here in America. "At least there," he states "we recognize the darkness and what we must fight. Here, there are so many things pulling at you that it makes it much harder to live as a Christian in your country." While this may be true, God will always give us grace to live in the midst of sin. He will allow our lights to shine in the darkness if we will but allow Him.

The subtlety of the flesh and the devil will sometimes get the upper hand in our lives. When we fail, the enemy of our souls desires we concede and believe we will never overcome. This deception has claimed many, but it does not need to claim another. "Though I fall I will rise" is a fundamentally accurate promise which all believers can put their hope. In order to rise, we must first fall upon the Lord and then He makes us ascend through His redemption. The tragedy is when we fall into the arms of despair rather into His arms. May we always fall on the Rock of our salvation. There is only hope in Him.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Jesus Our Healer

Jeremiah 17:14 - "Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for You are my praise."

What is our first reaction when we get sick? Do we reach for the Bible and God’s promises, or do we swallow an aspirin? Or, how do we react when we are sick with anxiety or depression? Do we go to God or the things of this world to help us?

Religion and medicine are products of the temporal world, imperfect instruments that seek to make a cursed world right. However, when God heals and saves He does it perfectly because He invokes the eternal to supersede the temporal. He famously calls into being that which formerly did not exist. Beloved of God, we must continue to seek God for that which replaces the natural efforts of mankind. We must cry, "Abba, Father, Papa!" and He will cause supernatural deliverance, saving us to the uttermost.

Monday, November 17, 2014

God Our Deliverer

Psalm 108:12-13 - "Oh give us help against the adversary, for deliverance by man is in vain. Through God we will do valiantly, and it is He who shall tread down our adversaries."

How many of us lie in bed and worry about the coming day and all we must do? Martin Luther is said to have risen an hour earlier for prayer when he knew his day would be busy with the things of this world. It was his buffer against the cares and concerns he knew that would try to consume him. Prayer was the key to him remaining in God’s peace.

God never meant for us to pursue our careers on our own, nor raise our families by ourselves, or face life's troubles without His help. Life will always serve us our share of adversity. However, whether we decide to be our own god and go it alone, or choose to trust God Almighty will be the great determiner concerning our outcomes. Not only will God give us the victory if we trust in Him, but we will overwhelmingly conquer as He pulverizes our troubles. May we all fall on Him so He might crush all that would assail us.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Miracle of Confession

I John 1:7 - "But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin."

Possibly no other scripture explains sanctification and living holy better than this one of John's. It's not about making ourselves obey it's about making ourselves confess. Once we are honest about our sin (and sins) before God and man, THEN God empowers us to obey. The blood of Jesus doesn't merely cover our sins but rather obliterates them! (It is like a nuclear blast producing a spiritual mushroom cloud of destruction!)

Never underestimate the miracle of confession, beloved of God. Without it, it is like trying to send a rocket into space without rocket fuel. Once confession through humility is added to our “spiritual tank,” then we soar.

The devil and our flesh cringe at the prospect of it because it means their demise. What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus! What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!