It’s Time To Look Up and See Our Saving Grace

Jude 1:24 (WEB)

Promise 270: I will keep you from falling until you joyfully stand blameless in My presence.
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Unity In Trials

Unity In Trials
Should it come as a surprise when we go through trials, especially prior to the Feast of Tabernacles?  Sometimes we may experience “heavier” trials, perhaps having the feeling of being alone, that there is nobody out there who can help or comfort us.  It’s quite normal to have that feeling at times but we need to understand that EVERYONE goes through trials and EVERYONE suffers in their own way.  We go through trials for the purpose of our individual course towards perfection.
These particular tests affect each and every one of us.  Not all trials are the same for each of us.   Our responses and reactions, our strength and our faith are always being tested.  Do we pray to God when we are facing difficulties, asking Him to give us strength through His Holy Spirit?  Or is it in the back of our minds, not valued as important enough?  Is prayer just something we do when we have the time for it, when it’s convenient, sometimes even forgetting to pray altogether?  Do NOT neglect the power of prayer for anything, because, as Paul says in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
But we are human and we still think like humans, process thoughts by using our carnal minds, and at times give in to sin.   We can quickly change that way of thinking because we have something the people of this world don’t have who have not been called by God. We have the power of the Holy Spirit that we received during our baptism! God’s Holy Spirit helps us distinguish between right and wrong, which is why it is important to pray to God to grant us more of His Spirit when we are going through difficulties, and why it is so important to replenish it daily.
We shouldn’t be afraid when we go through trials, but it’s never a bad thing to ask ourselves why we may be going through certain trials.  Isaiah 41:10 tells us, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  And 2 Timothy 1:7 continues on saying, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
David understood this, and he also faced many difficult trials. He pleaded with God with fasting and prayer and knew that he had to change.  He was not too proud to admit that he sinned when he recognized it and bitterly repented. He was still punished, but God accepted his repentance and he was forgiven.  After all, he was a man after God’s own heart.  His heart was in the right place.  He loved God’s law and he received strength from God.  He didn’t have anything to fear since his absolute faith was in God (compare Psalms 27:1; 118:6).
Our trials may be different from other’s trials, but we all go through trials for we are ALL being tested.  And that is why we pray for and comfort one another, because we are never alone.  It’s a unified effort!
Just as our beliefs and what we preach is unified, we then are to speak the same thing, agree that there are no divisions, be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment (1 Corinthians 1:10).  We need to be of one mind (1 Peter 3:8).  Romans 12:16 adds that we need to be of the same mind toward one another and not be wise in our own opinion.  If we think that we can make it on our own, saying that we don’t need the church or the ministry, don’t need to keep God’s law and just do what we believe is correct in our own eyes, we will fail.  Where do we put our trust?  Proverbs 3:5-6 gives us the answer.
Yes, God will direct our paths, but God also provides help because we are not alone.  Who can understand the Bible without direction, explanation and guidance? God provides help for the purpose of teaching (compare Ephesians 4:11-13; Acts 20:28).  We are to be helped by the ministry because we have a work to do.  But we need to be of one mind.  How can two walk together unless they are agreed? (Amos 3:3).
To be truly unified we also must have humility (Philippians 2:1-8), we must have peace (Ephesians 4:3) and we must have love, which is the bond of perfection (Colossians 3:14).  Are we doing enough?
We ALL go through various trials.  Through unity of like mind, we receive strength and comfort from God and our brethren (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). We must allow God to help us when we go through difficult times. We must not take Him for granted nor His Church nor all the things that He has given us. Rather, we need to really think about what His purpose is for us.  Why are we here? What are we commissioned to do?  We ALL have a part—individually and as a whole.

 

Saying Yes To The Call

Exodus 3:1-15

How do you respond when God tells you to do something that seems beyond your capabilities? Are you full of excuses, giving Him reasons why He picked the wrong person? That’s exactly the way Moses responded. In giving him the gigantic task of leading the Israelites to freedom, the Lord was calling Moses to a high level of commitment. If we hope to step obediently into our God-given challenges, we must answer the same two questions Moses asked.

Who is God? The answer is important because it reveals whom we recognize as having authority to tell us what to do. The two names the Lord used in answering Moses—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Ex. 3:6) and “I am who I am” (v. 14)—identified Him as the sovereign Creator and self-existent, everlasting One who keeps His promises. This means there is no higher authority, and He has every right to command our obedience.

Who am I? When Moses questioned whether he was the right man for the job, the Lord gave him a promise: “Certainly I will be with you” (v. 12). Moses was able to fulfill the assignment only because God chose to enter into a relationship with him. Likewise, our source of adequacy is a relationship with Jesus Christ and the presence of His indwelling Holy Spirit in our life.

Has God given you a tough assignment? Remember that as your Creator, He’s designed specific tasks for you to achieve. If you refuse to obey, you’ll miss what He has planned for your life. Just think what Moses would have forfeited, had he said no. Too much is at stake. Trust God and do what He says!

Praising HIS Name

Praising His Name

Jesus’ request as He looked to the cross was that He might glorify His Father. (See John 17:1) That is to be the desire of our hearts as well. From the moment we wake up each morning, and then as the day unfolds and as news of tragedy or success reaches us, our request is to be, “Father, glorify Yourself.” In the simplest tasks as well as in the hardest ones, a Christian’s longing should be to reflect the Lord to others.

When we pray for His glorification, we’re saying, “God, do whatever will bring You the greatest honor and make You known to the world.” It means that we are also surrendering what we want the outcome to be. God in His sovereignty will choose what will bring honor to His name. And whatever happens, we are to believe He has done just that.

It will come as no surprise to hear me say we live in a world that doesn’t always give God the honor due His name: There will always be some who reject the Son of God and refuse to believe in Him. But our desire should be the same as our Father’s—for people everywhere to know the perfection of His character, which never changes.

God calls us to praise His name and reveal Him. We honor the Lord as we worship in our churches, as we testify to His work in our lives, and as we proclaim the truth of His holy Word in our communities.

By our attitudes, actions, and words, we have the privilege of revealing our loving Father to a world that desperately needs Him. Let us join together, united in love, to give Him the glory.

djs

Inspiration And Burn Out

Inspiration And Burn Out!

Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?”
For it is not wise to ask such questions.
— Ecclesiastes 7:10

We’ve all been there. At the start of a diet — and then several weeks into it. At the beginning of a new initiative — and then a few months later. The moment we make a decision to make a significant change — and then a year down the line. When we start something new, whether it’s a do-it-yourself home project or a change in lifestyle, we are filled with excitement and motivation in the beginning.

However, the inspiration is hard to sustain, and we often find ourselves out of steam later on. The initial excitement has worn off and all that’s left is the hard work. Yet, truly, that moment is the most defining of all. If we can persevere when inspiration has worn off, we will conclude with even more excitement and joy than when we began.

There was a student who had recently discovered this passage in his Bible. Excitedly he began to live his new lifestyle and dedicated his time to the study of the Bible. But as could be predicted, months into his new life, he lost that initial passion. Depressed, he approached his teacher for encouragement.

The sage opened up the book of Ecclesiastes and read: “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions.” The teacher commiserated with the student and said, “What’s wrong with asking why things were better for you in the past then they are now? Why isn’t that wise?” Then the sage suggested that they read the verse a little differently and that by doing so, they would find the answer.

The teacher re-read the verse in the following way: “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ those days were not out of wisdom.” The sage explained: “Those first days of inspiration were a gift from God – to get you going and started. However, those actions were not the product of hard work and thought. Now, it’s time to reclaim those ‘good days,’ but this time through your own sweat and perseverance based on your wisdom and determination.”

When the passion wears off and we get depressed, that’s precisely when it’s time to press on. God might gift us with excitement at the start of something new in order to get us moving, but it’s up to us to carry on when things get tough.

If you are going through a slump or feel that you are lacking the passion you once had, don’t get down. Instead of acting from passion, lead with wisdom until you reach your goal and reclaim even more inspiration than before.  Ask God for His patience, motivation, guidance, persistence, and grace. This is a prayer that will surely be answered…in HIS way, time and will.

djs

 

Finding True Fulfillment In Life

Finding True Fulfillment In Life

In a world full of distractions and endless ways to spend our time and energy, how do we use the time that we have each day? And even more importantly, how do we feel at the end of a day? Do we find ourselves fulfilled from ALL of our engagements? We touch so many people throughout a single day that we don’t always realize how we are impacting others. Colossians 3:23-24 points out that whatever we are doing, we are to do it “heartily” or with our entire heart. We are to be pouring out ourselves into what we do. And the amazing thing is that if we are doing this, God gives us the knowledge and understanding that we need to accomplish our tasks. But the important caveat is that we do it with our entire heart. If we half-heartedly approach every day, our jobs, people, anything really, how can we be fulfilled? How can we fill up others if we are half-hearted? How can we serve joyfully? Ephesians 6:6-8 admonishes us to serve “from the heart”—with good will. There is no room for back-biting, hate, ill-will, or anything negative.

How hard is it though to not complain when things go wrong? When we think that things should be different than what they are? When we think we are being treated unfairly or unkindly? How do we react? We would do better to keep in mind the words Solomon wrote down for us in Ecclesiastes 7:20-22. We must be careful with the attitudes and the thoughts that we allow ourselves to have. We must come to rely on God more and more for wisdom and understanding in ALL matters.

James 4:7-9 gives us the right ideas in this regard. We need to be submitting ourselves to God to fully understand how we can fulfill our days in the right ways. In verses 13-17, James goes on to admonish us that in the scheme of things, our lives are over so quickly. All our strivings and goals are in vain if they are not rightly ordained by God. He indeed sets our courses. When we go wrong and need adjustment, He makes corrections, as long as we are willing to accept them and get back on the right track.

So let us ask ourselves these questions:

How fulfilled do we find ourselves at the end of each day?

How willing are we to seek God and allow Him to lead?

As we approach the Passover, what can we take away from this short time we have left in examining ourselves? Ephesians 5:16 tells us that we should be “redeeming the time” by making the BEST use of our time, “because the days are evil.”

David had the right approach in Psalm 127:2. Even though our work may be heavy and burdensome, when we do it with God’s Will in mind, seeking what He wants, then we can go to bed at the end of the day and feel fulfilled because God will give us good rest. And He will recharge us for our continual fight each and every day. Psalm 90:12 says: “So teach us to number our days That we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Let us allow Godly wisdom and understanding fill us up each day so that we may feel fulfilled and others may see that and be encouraged to follow our example.

djs

Happy No Matter What!

Happy No Matter What!

Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs. —
Psalm 100:2

Everyone is in the pursuit of happiness. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “The U.S. Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself!” But for most people, happiness is elusive. We say, “I will be happy when . . . .” And then fill in the blank — when I have more money, when I get that promotion, when I get married, when I have kids, when the kids move out, when I retire, and so on and so forth. It’s no wonder so many people feel like they just can’t catch happiness.

In Psalm 100, however, King David lets us in on a little secret about happiness. He wrote: “Worship the Lord with gladness . . .” The sages understand it this way: If you want to be happy, then worship the Lord.

Truly, few things bring us greater joy than serving our Creator. When we are serving God, we are focused on what we can give and not on what we are lacking. We focus on what is good in our lives and not what is wrong. When we contribute to God’s world we feel good about who we are instead of upset about who we could or should have been. When we bring joy to others, we can’t help but light up with joy ourselves!

What’s more, serving the Lord is something that we can do anytime, anywhere, and under any circumstances. In times of abundance, we can give. In times of scarcity, we can have faith. When things are easy, we can sing out praises to God. And when times are tough, we can call out to Him in prayer. In our homes or in our workplaces – there is always someone to help or God’s Word to share. The possibilities are endless.

We can always worship God, which means that we can always be happy. No matter what! We don’t have to pursue happiness. We just have to stop running away from it – and serve the Lord today!

Let’s try this ancient advice and think of how we can serve the Lord today. How can we worship Him throughout the day? Let’s try dedicating just one day – or even better – one week, to give of ourselves to God, to His children, and to His world. We will be happy we did!

Shalom, Peace To All,

DJS