Why I Believe: Chet Bandy

Today’s reading is Psalm 6.

I’m a little embarrassed to say when reflecting and preparing on this topic of “Why I Believe” I struggled a bit. I’m blessed to have been born into a Christian home with great parents who told me about God and Jesus at a young age, took me to Sunday school and church, and sent me to vacation Bible school amongst many other things to help establish my faith early. A friend of mine and someone who I would also consider a mentor, Tom Lipscomb, says that his mom would comment about certain things, “I know it in my knower.” Many believers have had a fork in the road moment where they remember turning to God when they had no where else to go, and they felt God save them, renew their soul, and rescue them from these challenges. This is similar to what David describes throughout Psalm 6 and especially in Psalm 6:1-2, Psalm 6:4, and Psalm 6:9. In fact, the titling in my Bible above Psalm 6 is O Lord, Deliverer My Life. For me though, I’ve never not believed… it’s more like Tom’s mom said, “I know it in my knower.”

Some reading this may say if there was never a time you didn’t believe and the flip was switched so to speak, how do you really know it’s true and God is real? I will say there was a period of time around my college years when I did reflect and think to myself, “Do I really believe the Bible and what I’ve heard all these years? Or is this just something I’ve always taken as true because my parents believe and not let my mind question or think otherwise? Do I really believe myself?” As I let my mind become more open to wondering if it was true and become more cognizant to the information I was taking in, I continued to come back to what I heard and the truth I read in the Word.  Yes, there are the questions that science brings up about creation, evolution, and the miracle of the virgin birth. But, science is changing every day. Things that were believed to be scientifically true for years and years are being disproven, revised, and changed. Heck, we still don’t know fully how all the facets of the human body works today, let alone the truth about things that happened hundreds and thousands and even millions of years before any one of us were even born. I believe most of what science says just describes the way God engineered and did things. Science and God are not in opposition necessarily. For other things where science and God don’t seem to jive, I arrive at two conclusions. First, how do we know the so-called science is true? Again, science is being revised constantly. Secondly, some things we have to just say happened by the miracle of God because He is God and can do what we can’t.. and can’t even explain for that matter (Romans 11:33-34, Isaiah 55:8-9). More than anything, the love of Jesus and His grace on the cross continued to be a magnet that would not let me go away. Again, I just “know it in my knower.”

While there hasn’t been a watershed moment where I can say I first believed, I can say that almost daily I become more and more convicted as to the truth of God’s existence and the Bible. It happens when I see someone decide to break the chains of their past and the shackles of their sin and lead a changed life once they discover the love and grace of Jesus. It’s seeing the beauties of a gorgeous sunrise or sunset and looking up at the stars and moon and thinking, “There’s no way all this could happen by chance.” It’s seeing the birth of my children and reflecting on the fact that life is truly a miracle. Just think about all the things that have to go right for a baby to be born and the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of chemical interactions and nerves firings, all of which happen simultaneously without us thinking about them, just for us to live. It’s seeing how something that seemed terrible at the time like a relationship split or job loss years later proves out to be a great thing by finding an even greater relationship or career path. It’s how what seemed to be a small and insignificant decision at the time later turns out to change the trajectory of your life such as my decision to pursue finance instead of orthodontics not knowing that years later I would lose fine motor skills in my hand.  How do these things happen without a greater power? How do they happen without God? My simple conclusion..they don’t. When you believe and develop awareness and look for it, you can see God’s hand on nearly everything…eventually. For other things where we never see it ourselves, we just simply have to trust Him, and I’m confident we will find out in Heaven that there was in fact a great purpose we just couldn’t see.

What is the greatest miracle though and the reason why I believe? It’s the grace of Him sending His Son Jesus to die on the cross. As Andy Stanley described in a recent series I listened to, when we as created beings question and doubt our Creator in any way, we deserve eternal punishment. But, God did what man cannot even fathom doing if we were God.

“For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:7-8

Before some of us believed while we were rejecting Him, and while some us believed yet are still sinning by the day, hour, and even minute now…He suffered and died in an unimaginable and gruesome way for you and for me. Knowing what we would do and are still doing today..He did it anyway. It’s that sacrifice and His unfathomable grace which restores and renews me when I mess up constantly to bring me back together with Him..that’s why I believe.

Please take a few minutes to watch this lyric video. I promise…you won’t regret it.

https://youtu.be/C2U7ffUM5Ec

Your Christmas Star

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Matthew 2:1-2

This Monday night many of us saw the bright star of Saturn and Jupiter aligning for the first time in over 800 years. How cool is it that this star, possibly similar to the star of Bethlehem that shown over Jesus’ birth, would be seen near Christmas in 2020 on what most would consider a year of darkness just like when Jesus was born?! I would assume some reading this may have grown up like me thinking the wise men were there the night of Jesus’ birth. They are in most nativity scenes, right? Today, on Christmas Eve, I can remember sitting through many candlelight church services imagining shortly after midnight about 2,000 years ago Jesus was born and all the angels, shepherds, and wise men were there in the stable under the Christmas star. However, it’s clear from these verses that it was “after” He was born when the wise men arrived, and in coming from the far east of Iraq/Bablyon (without a car or plane in those days), they would not have arrived until days and most think years later. Yet, they remembered and still came to worship Him some time in the future after seeing His star.

It may seem strange reading this on Christmas Eve to be thinking about what we do after Christmas, but that’s where my mind went in reading these verses. We worship and praise him in the days leading up to Christmas and especially today on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day….but do we continue to worship and praise Him the same after? The wise men remembered His star and came sometime later still to worship Him and bring Him gifts. What has occurred in your life that is your Christmas Star that should remind you He’s always with you and to worship Him on all the other days of the year? Perhaps something has happened where you were aware of His presence and hand on your life which is your reminder. However, we can often easily forget in the years, days, and sometimes even hours that follow..and especially during the tough times. However, this Christmas Star in your life should remind you He is with you always.

I also thank God for His Word in the Bible which serves like a Christmas Star to remind us of who He is and His promises made and kept. Since man first sinned, He gave us gave us promises of a Savior (Genesis 3:15), and He has kept that and each and every one of His promises. My prayer for all reading this is that each and every one of us recall our Christmas Star which is our personal reminder of His presence in our life, and we open and read the reminder He gave us in His Word more in 2021 than we did this past year. When we do so we will not only have more peace and comfort through growing closer to Him, but we will continue to give Him all the honor and glory and praise He deserves..just like the wise men did. As notes written from a past sermon or devotional near these verses in my Bible read, “Wise men and women still seek Him today.”

Grace and Truth

Today’s reading is John 1:9-18

Since God made man there have been questions. Satan started creating them right away in Genesis 3:1 saying, “…Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’” This lead to the Fall when sin came into the world. Today, we live in time when there are arguably more questions than ever due to all the craziness in the world coupled with the access to so much information through social media and the internet. Let’s name a few. Was there fraud in the presidential election? What is true and not true about Covid 19? Do masks work? Is the vaccine safe or not and should our family get it? Is global warming a threat and caused by man or just natural and normal climate change? These questions probably ignite feelings and opinions you believe to be truth. They might even invoke anger, and if they don’t, there are probably other ones I didn’t even want to list that would. Isn’t is also ironic that access to more information than ever only seems to bring more questions than answers.

From the start, man was curious and wanted to know the truth and believed some things to be true which were not. John 1:9-18 reminds us that advent is a time where we remember God gave us truth through His Son Jesus born in a manger in Bethlehem that first Christmas. He is the One and Only source of true light and the one and only source of truth (John 1:9). He is Truth.

We are also told by John in these verses He came with grace, and we know He ultimately showed us this grace through His sacrifice on the cross. Romans 5:8 reads, “but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” It is not by our doing or works that we are saved. It is purely by His grace which we do not deserve.

As I mentioned earlier, most all of us (including me!) have a lot of beliefs about what is true as it relates to what is going on in the world right now. Let us all remember this advent season that Jesus, the Word, is the only real Truth. We don’t need to look any further and for more information than is found in the Bible. Let us remind others of this as well. But, let’s also remember this advent that every time the Bible talks about grace and truth, grace always comes first. Again, Romans 5:8 tells us He gave us this grace when we didn’t deserve it. When we hear people talking or posting on social media about what they believe to be truth which we may not feel the same, let us model what Jesus taught and gave us by giving them grace first. I don’t see a lot of this grace from Christians these days. By giving this love and grace we can then point them to the Truth that is Jesus. They can then find for themselves what they are looking for this Christmas (but likely don’t know it) which is the grace and truth God gave us through that babe in a manger on the first Christmas over 2,000 years ago. Only in His grace and truth will they find peace.

Finding Gratitude This Thanksgiving

Today’s reading on Thanksgiving is John 21.

Is it easy or difficult to have a grateful heart this Thanksgiving? For most reading this 2020 has been very challenging and for many downright heartbreaking. For others, it may have actually been a year of many blessings strangely enough. Whichever group you are in, or maybe neither or a combination of both, I pray this Thanksgiving we call find contentment and joy in the blessings we do have.

Our reading today gives us 4 examples of God providing exactly what was needed when it was needed..even if those involved didn’t realize it before or even after.

  1. The disciples went out to fish at night sometime in the days or weeks after Jesus crucifixion and Resurrection. They fished all night and hadn’t caught anything. Was catching fish needed for their next day’s meal because they were out of food or to sell for money because they had no more? What stress were they under? We don’t know for sure, but we do know they were likely feeling frustrated from catching nothing when Jesus showed up at just the right time before daybreak and told them from the shore to throw down their nets on the right side (John 21:6). When they listened and obeyed, they caught so many fish their nets tore….153 to be exact (John 21:11).
  2. While eating breakfast with Peter, Jesus asked Peter 3 different times if he loved Jesus. Peter affirmed he did all 3 times. What’s the significance of this? Three is the same number of times Peter denied he knew Jesus after His arrest. Jesus knew the significance of Peter saying he loved him the same number of times as he previously denied him. He knew 3 times would likely be needed to make Peter feel he was fully forgiven and redeemed…even though belief in Jesus was all that is needed to be forgiven.
  3. Jesus then told Peter the way he would die which was to be crucified upside down in John 21:18-19. You may be asking yourself how Peter being martyred was exactly what was needed. Well, we are also told in these verses this was necessary to glorify God. Through it God has some plan. What we want and what we think is needed is not actually what’s always needed for God’s glory. However, that’s why He made each one of us…for His glory..even if we don’t always like how He does it. This is hard…but we must figure out how to trust fully trust in this and His love for us no matter what.
  4. We learn in John 21:22-23 from Jesus that John would not be martyred. Most historians agree that John was the only disciple that was not killed due to his belief in Jesus. While Peter and the other disciples may have been thinking while facing death for their belief how horrible it was or how unlucky they were, John may have been sitting on the island of Patmos where He was exiled for his belief wishing he died and was in Heaven. Or maybe he was wondering if He was not worthy enough to be killed for his faith like the other disciples. It’s all about perspective. Whatever you are going through…there is likely someone that would absolutely love to be you or have your life right now as hard to believe as that may seem. Whatever you are going through…it’s necessary for God’s glory. We now know John’s long life and exile to Patmos was necessary to write the book of Revelation to complete the Bible and tell about God’s ultimate restoration of brining Heaven and Earth together some day when there will be no more pain, crying, or sin (Revelation 21:4).

We see through these 4 examples in John 21 how what happened and what was given was exactly what was needed at the right time for God’s glory. Whatever you are going through right now which might be really tough, I’m sorry. I pray you know Jesus faced pain, sorrow, and rejection in his life too…and ultimately suffered and died for you for the forgiveness of your sins. I pray you can find contentment and gratitude in your circumstances and through His grace this Thanksgiving…perhaps even joy.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

How Do You View God?

When you have a choice to make on doing something you know is right or wrong, what sways your decision on what to do? I made my share of bad choices growing up (and still do today), but when I made good choices I would like to say it was always because it was just the right thing to do, or even better, it’s what God would have wanted and I was following His will. However, I would say when I made good choices it wasn’t always for the right reasons. Often times, it was because of a fear of God. Fearing God is not always a bad thing, but it is if you do it because you think God is like a little boy with a magnifying glass in the sun and you’re the ant when you do something wrong. When I did something wrong and then something bad happened a few days later I wondered if it was because of what I did as punishment. Yes, there are earthly consequences for bad choices we make, but God makes it clear He does not punish us for things we do wrong.

Today’s reading is John 9, and in it we read….

As he passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned,(this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

John 9:1-3

We also read the following in Romans 8:1…

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Jesus paid the price for our sins on the cross. He does not punish us for our wrongdoings while on this Earth and if we believe in Him we are protected and saved from eternal punishment in Hell as well. It’s ok for us to have a healthy fear of God and know He does not like sin, and He’s always watching. But, it’s also more important that we know the love and grace of God outweighs our sin, and Jesus already suffered the punishment which should have been ours 2,000 years ago. We should do the right thing because of the relationship we have with God. He loves us, and we love him so we do right thing out of love and respect for Him. I pray our kids know the love of God for them and make good choices because they want to show love back to Him for His love…not because of the fear of His wrath.

Are you feeling something going on in your life right now is God’s punishment for something you did wrong? Or do you know someone who may be feeling the same way? Direct them to Christ’s love on the cross. This is the exact reason why He came….to remove our punishment. Direct them to the truth that only the Bible can give in these verses. Words like “not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.,” and “therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” And also in Isaiah 55:8-9 He tells us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I’ve said it many times in my writings, and I’ll say it again. Satan thought he won. Jesus was dead. But 3 days later God took the worst event in history, the only sinless man to ever live being beaten, crucified, and killed, and turned it in the greatest event in history by saving mankind through His Resurrection. What will God do in your life through your challenges to display His glory?

 

 

 

It’s Not About You…

When you wake up, what is the first thing you think about? It is probably something related to what is going on in your day ahead or your personal life right now. Although some days may come with excitement for the day’s events, there is probably also some worry or anxiety about if you will get everything done you need to do and also about what is going, or could go, wrong. It is natural and normal that nearly all our thoughts are focused on ourselves, or as we have children, our family. It is also human nature for us all to have Problem Centric Thinking (PCT). We most commonly focus on the negative or what’s going, or could go, wrong. This is very similar to when you are driving down the road and a bug hits your windshield. Ninety-nine percent of the windshield is clear, but you keep focusing on the one bug…and it can drive you nuts.

Our thoughts tell us that most of us believe we are the main character in our life’s story. However, in his October 25th sermon at Eastview Christian Church, Ben Miller reminded us that we are not the main character in our life’s story…God is. As much as we think it is, our life is not about us. Our life is about how we can live for God’s glory and make an impact for Him while we are here on this Earth. If we take the focus off ourselves and realize God is the main character in our story, then we are better positioned to face whatever curve balls life throws us.

A mentor and friend of mine has a great quote he always says, “Nothing happens to us, only for us.” After hearing Ben’s sermon though, I would make a slight adjustment and say, “Nothing happens to us, only for Him.” We won’t ever like and want bad, or even challenging, things to happen to us and in our lives in the same way we don’t want harm to our own physical body. However, when we take the focus off ourselves and know God is in control and He’s the main character in our story, we can better deal with and handle the challenges life brings us. Our life is not really our story, it’s His story. How awesome is it that He has made us a part of it?!

Here are a few questions we might ask ourselves when facing challenging times…

  1. What might God be doing through the challenges in my life right now that can be used for Him and His glory now or in the future?
  2. How can God take my past mistakes and/or current mess and turn it into something not only good, but something great, much like He did for some of the most influential people in the Bible?
  3. What God really wants is more of our heart, how might He be using these challenges to bring me or others around me closer to Him?

 

The amount of joy we will have in our life is in direct proportion to the amount of trust we have in God’s love, will, and perfect plan for us and our life.

 

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

 

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mine is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

 

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

 

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”   Ephesians 3:20-21

The Word

Whether you realize it or not, you probably have a lot of questions going through your mind right now. You are not alone. Every single human being on this Earth has questions. One big one is…”Am I going to make it through this?” It could be a medical issue, financial hardship, challenges with your business or career during Covid, or family/relational challenges to name few. During these times many of us in the U.S. are asking when the racial tensions and other political turmoil will end. When we will get past this as a country? Again, most questions come back to am I going to be ok, or will we be ok?

There is great news in that every one of these questions can be answered in the Word of God.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were mad through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:1-5

The Word is Jesus. He has always existed. The book of Genesis gives us the first indication of the triune God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and God the Son (the Word).

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..

Genesis 1:26

Note the words “our likeness.” From the beginning of creation, Jesus was there. God knew man would sin before He made us and due to sin would have all the problems and questions we have today, so He had a plan and answer. His plan and answer was and still is Jesus.

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him.

John 1:10

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

Jesus came down from His throne in Heaven willingly and without sin to die for you and me the cross. Because of this and His Resurrection on Easter Sunday, the answer to every question is that all who believe in Him will be ok and get through whatever challenge we are facing. However painful our life on this Earth is, it is brief and we will spend eternity with Him without any of the burdens we face while here.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

Revelation 21:4

As I was writing this I was thinking, and you may be thinking the same while you are reading this, “Wow..there is a lot of Scripture here and not much other writing/dialogue.” Well..that’s really the point. Every answer we are looking for is found in the Word. The Bible is called the Word because it all points to Him, the Word. It is not just God’s story and love letter to us, but it is our story because we are all part of God’s plan through Jesus.

When you get down to it, I believe every human being is looking for truth whether they know it or not. John 1:14 above says Jesus came in grace and truth. Note that grace comes before truth here and every time it’s mentioned in the Bible. I’m thankful that grace and forgiveness came before truth, and we should follow Jesus example in our lives. When we, and others, dig into the Word we find the truth and answers we are looking for and we fall in love with Him. We find that truth and love in His grace. Then, we can’t get enough of it.

I’ll wrap up with these 2 questions…

  1. How can you be in the Word more to fall deeper in love with Him?
  2. How can you introduce someone else to the Word who is struggling and needs the grace and truth only He can give right now?

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7

 

Unchanging

Do you believe people can change? Sometimes change is a good thing. It can mean leaving our past sinful ways and bad habits behind us. When we begin to follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that is a change which is good…really good. It’s been said that baptism is the outward display of an inward change (or decision) to follow and trust Jesus. However, change can be a bad thing. Sometimes people go in the wrong direction and begin to chase their worldly and sinful desires. You often hear it said with broken marriages…”He/She changed. They are not the person they were when I married them.”

Right now with an election upcoming, we see the topic of change come up a lot. Not just in the area of whether or not they can create a positive change if elected or re-elected, but have they changed their stance on certain topics. We can find past things they have said on topics that they now say something totally different within not just a matter of years..but a matter of months, weeks and even days. We also wonder if they have changed as a person. Being that we are all sinful humans that have made mistakes, every candidate has said or done things in their personal life that are not good. The question is…who are they today? Are these past words or actions a representation of who they are today? They will say no. Truly..only God knows for sure. Sometimes it’s exhausting to try to figure out not only who a political candidate really is…but sadly even sometimes who our friends and family really are. The fact is..we are all sinners in need of a Savior.

The good news is…the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are unchanging as James 1:17 tells us.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

James 1:17

When we read His Word, we can see that He is the one…and only one…that never changes. He is only one who is perfect, blameless, and holy. He has kept every promise and always will. He was great from the start of Creation (before actually), and He will continue to be great until He comes again and for eternity. Every one of His words has and will come to pass. He is the one “candidate” we can trust and follow who will never ever fail us. Mark your Bible and read this before every election. It is a reminder that the One who is really in control and who we should put our hope in has never run for a public office.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.

Psalm 118:8-9

No matter how “good” someone might be…they are not perfect. They have messed up and will again. They cannot be unchanging. Only He can. Let us trust and truly follow and worship Him and only Him, and remember this not only on election day, but today and every day for the rest our lives. Let us thank Him for giving His life on the cross that through the shedding of His perfect blood and belief in Him, we are now also made blameless and will spend eternity with Him.

This God-His way is perfect; the Word of the Lord proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him.

Psalm 17:30

Strength

I must be very transparent in that as I’m writing this we are wrapping up what was supposed to be a relaxing weekend getaway with my wife’s family to Grafton, IL and while it was a great time with them..I’m still tired. I’m not refreshed and recharged like I hoped. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very thankful that many of the recent events have not directly affected my family negatively. My prayers go out those who have been directly affected my all the crazy stuff going on in our world. When I say I’m tired…I mean I’m tired of all the sin and evil every day with so many bad things happening which also seems amplified in the news. Yes…we have had conflict since sin came into the world through the Fall and we always will until Jesus returns, but it seems as though the level of divisiveness is extremely high right now. At times I just sigh and long for us to do as Jesus directed us in John 15:12, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

As Jon wrote about last week https://www.biblejournal.net/2020/09/11/200-trillion-decisions/ , we make about 35,000 decisions a day. And while that can be tiring enough, it seems as though every decision we make, or don’t make, is under a magnifying glass as political or social statement these days which there also doesn’t seem to be a perceived difference right now. You are either for something or against it. If you say one thing on one side of a social or political issue..or even don’t say anything at all…you’re labeled an extremist for or against it. Even a decision whether or not to wear a mask, or what’s on the mask, seems to make an unintended statement someone may not agree with. There’s also the whole social media animal which I used to love to keep up with friends and their families. Then, there’s sports and movies. And while I’m not going to say that athletes or entertainers should be silent on issues in our world which they can potentially help make a positive impact where needed, I must admit I miss the days where we could watch a game or movie to get away from the stresses of the world without everything and everyone making a statement on something. In fact, I’m concerned as I write this that I’m going to offend someone by this prior sentence. That they might think this means I don’t care about these issues athletes and entertainers are speaking and acting on and thus I’m making a stance for or against something. Crazy, isn’t it? Please don’t misunderstand and judge me. Again, I’m not. I am just saying again I’m tired…and sports and movies were something to watch and attend as a respite for weariness..a medium to get away so to speak..and to forget about everything else in the world for a couple hours and get re-energized.

Again, I’m very blessed, and this is minor in comparison to the direct challenges others are facing due to the issues we see in the news everyday or just the everyday financial, relationship, and health challenges others are facing to name a few. I’m just being transparent with the fact that I’m feeling drained right now. Author Jon Gordon writes about staying away from energy vampires. I feel like the present times we are in are like one big energy vampire. A weekend getaway with family, scanning social media to see what friends and their families are up to, sports, and movies are not refreshing to me.

That brings me to my personal lesson in reading today’s verses and my assignment to write on which is the Lord being our “strength.” It seems as though He’s speaking to me through this topic that my relationship with Him has an opportunity to grow to look to Him to re-charge and for strength and not to the idols of this world in our everyday lives. This is the ‘what’ so to speak..I need to reflect more on the ‘how’..although their are simple steps like more time in prayer (speaking with Him), His Word (listening to Him), and worship (praising Him for His saving grace on the cross and all He’s done for me).

Please take a few moments to read the below verses and if you are just plain tired like me, reflect on if you need to turn more to your relationship with Him, and not to other idols, for strength.  Pray on how you can do so as well. As Psalm 73:26 says, when He is our strength, He is our portion. He fills us up…forever.

“I love you, O Lord, my strength.”

Psalm 18:1

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him.”

Psalm 28:7

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Psalm 46:1

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Psalm 73:26

 

My Song

“The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.”

Psalm 118:14

Even though most of our family does not have much musical talent, with the exception of my mom, uncle, and late grandmother, for as long as I can remember music has been a big part of our lives. While riding in the back of my parents’ car at a very young age, my Dad would quiz me on what the name of oldies songs were and who sang them when they came on the radio. I even had to know the back story of the song or band. For example, not only who sang “For What It’s Worth” (no…the name of the song is not…..’Stop..hey…what’s that sound’) which is Buffalo Springfield..but my dad would ask, “Where did the band get their name?” To which I would reply, “Off the side of a steamroller..” and roll my eyes. I remember one time in high school biology our substitute teacher was doing random trivia questions when he asked, “Who sang the one hit wonder from the 60’s called ’96 Tears’?” To which I shouted out from the back, “Question Mark and the Mysterians!” He was in awe and said never ever in of all his years of substitute teaching had anyone answered that one correctly. Well…not only was knowing the name and artists of songs a big deal in our family anyway, but that one just happens to be my Dad’s favorite song. In fact..as soon as he started out with “Who sang this one hit wonder from the 60’s….” I had feeling he was going to ask that song before he even finished his sentence. I love music so much I often say it’s good that God didn’t give me even one ounce of musical talent because if He did I would probably be traveling the US trying to make it as an artist with little to no chance of doing so.

Up until about 10 years ago when we started going to a church that played contemporary music, Christian music unfortunately was not a part of my life though. I thought of Christian music as being something with an organ which I was not into and just didn’t connect with so to speak. Then, I began to really get into contemporary Christian music and sing along just like I did with my favorite rock or country songs. Who knew that Christian music and singing about God and His love for us can be “cool” and fun, too? Now, it’s about all I listen to. I don’t think it’s a coincidence with music being such a big connection in my life that I would also say that’s when I started to connect with God more, too.

Have you ever noticed how impactful music in general and often times a specific song is to people’s lives? We often crank up our favorite song after a great day or week or connect with a certain song to help us get through tough times as well. How about the joy of watching a very young baby or child move and dance to music? If that doesn’t bring a smile your face, I’m not sure what will. It seems as though God has wired us from birth to connect with music. He’s also wired us to seek a connection and relationship with Him. Our words to describe Him today from Psalm 118:14 reference earlier is “my song.”

Can you imagine life without music? I don’t know about you, but I feel it would be pretty boring and just downright depressing. That’s what a life without a connection and relationship with God is like..empty. He is our song….our joy…our happiness…despite whatever is going on in our lives.

The following verse in Psalm 118:15 says, “Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous…” None of us are righteous and without sin…but through His blood and faith in Him we are. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God.” When we have faith and a relationship with Him, we are righteous and it changes us. Knowing we are free from sin through His sacrifice brings us true and everlasting joy. The song that plays in the “tents” of our heart is Him and His salvation as Psalm 118:15 says.

Today, I would encourage you to read the rest of Psalm 118 and embrace how it describes that “His steadfast love endures forever…” Psalm 118:6 also reminds us, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” If you’re going through a rough time, try connecting with Him and making Him your song and joy.

Maybe you haven’t gotten into Christian music yet, but love country. Here’s a new one from Chris Tomlin featuring Florida George Line and Thomas Rhett you may not have heard yet to get you started. Or maybe you’re already into Christian music. Either way, I hope that any time we all hear it now it will be a reminder that He is our “song.”