Ever Present Help in Times of Trouble

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging (Psalm 46:1-3).

When is the last time you remember getting in to trouble?  Not necessarily in trouble with someone who has authority over you, but “trouble” in terms of a situation or issue where you felt helpless and didn’t know how to easily resolve it on your own.  What did you do?

I had one of those situations on Monday.  I had thoroughly thought out a decision over the course of several months.  When I started to execute it, however, key factors started showing up differently than planned.  Red flags.  I was definitely in trouble.  I had to decide whether to continue on or reverse course.  The right direction was definitely unclear.

In the midst of a horrible, sick feeling in the pit of my belly, I struggled to even put words to the situation.  I got in my car and cried out to God for help.  He knew.  I didn’t have give a well-crafted explanation or even describe the issue, all I had to do was ask for his help.  My ever present help in times of trouble knew exactly what I needed.

Over the course Monday afternoon and evening, I met with a few advisors who not only talked through the issue with me, but also prayed for me to have discernment and peace.  By the end of the evening, I made a decision and began to take action.  It was by no means easy, but as I’m writing this two days later, I am at peace.  God answered our prayers.  He is my ever present help in times of trouble.

God has been faithful, He will be again
His loving compassion, it knows no end
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful, He’s always been faithful
He’s always been faithful to me

(Sara Groves, 2010)

 

Heir of all Things

How are you doing?
How are you REALLY doing?

My Dad had a good friend that used to greet him with both of the above questions. He was looking for the “sit down” answer. We use to joke that it was too intrusive but looking back it was actually an important question. Really, how are you doing? What’s your answer today? Is anyone asking? The past 3 weeks have been challenging. I have had a few sleepless nights and with that increased irritability and crabbiness. While being a devout introvert I see more than ever the benefits of going to work and  being part of a community outside of my home. At the same time, I have loved the extraordinary time with my kids. Watching movies that we never would have had time for, baking cookies, sitting together watching church from the couch, and seeing them take on school in a way they never planned.  It has been fun to connect as a family but I still find myself looking for reassurance or answers in the media. Not only is our health at stake, but our economy is suffering its own viral infection.  Even after a few weeks in quarantine I find myself in a state of limbo. Will things ever go back to normal? When and how?  Where is the reassurance?

Hebrews 1:1-3 “Long ago God spoke many times and in many was to our ancestors through the prophets. But now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he made the universe and everything in it. The Son reflects God’s own glory, and everything about him represents God exactly. He sustains the universe by the mighty power of his command. After he died to cleanse us from the stain of sin, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God of heaven.”

Today’s name of Jesus is “Heir of all Things”. Jesus is the son of God and God is the creator of all. As God’s son, Jesus is the heir to all that is God’s. When we put our trust in Jesus we become part of the family of God and our inheritance becomes eternal life. This is a gift from God that we certainly do not deserve but it is one thing that does not change and cannot be taken away. And while waiting for that eternal life with Him we have the joy of relationship with Him through Jesus. We have the gift of prayer and the Holy Spirit that intervenes on our behalf when we don’t have the words to express ourselves. None of these things change with social distancing or our current pandemic. If anything, it is growing our faith and revealing more about who He is and why we desperately need a savior.

While our table will be smaller than usual this Easter Sunday and loved ones are far away we are still celebrating the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. It never changes! This is our good news in the midst of uncertainty and distancing. We do not have to be in a church pew wearing our Easter best to celebrate Jesus. He sees us just as we are at all times.

John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his son into the world to condemn it but to save it.”  

Psalm 16:5Lord you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine.”

Happy Easter everyone!

 

 

Heart Searcher

” I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”  Jeremiah 17:10

Good Morning Bible Journal family, Happy Easter Week!

The other night I found myself up for multiple hours praying and reflecting on this verse. You see, my daily prayer involves the Lord searching my heart and continuing to do His transformational work. (My selfish desires always get in the way.) There are really only you and God that knows all depths of your heart.

I continue to pray for some Heavenly heart surgery and have felt more grateful for this time we have with His word and to ourselves to examine our hearts to see what God sees.  There are many negative impacts our current pandemic has shown us, but I can also say there have been many praises in our household as well.  Before being forced to stay at home, our family often ran the worldly race between job, children, selfish desires, and other mental and physical to do’s lists. Many times this left only my scheduled parts of the day to God before I got too busy with worldly agendas.  I would be running a race so fast I was missing opportunities with my beautiful bride and children and mainly with God.  For many of us as we run this race we are able to put on an outside image that mirrors the Goldilock’s “just right” appearance that things are “ok” but inside still have some battles going on.  Thankfully, we have a savior who sees our hearts and says, “I love you, follow me.”  Thank you, God, for seeing my sinful heart and helping us to see how we need you. Lord, help us to produce fruit.

And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:27

God will send His Spirit to intercede for us.  The more our heart is open and talking with Him, we will start to abide by His will and not our own earthly desires. Pray for the Holy Spirit to work in your heart today.  To intercede for our desires.

“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 1 Chronicles 28:9

Remember in this time and when things return to “Normal” to seek Him.  I know many people have questioned why we have so many things going on in our world today? Where have our priorities been compared to where they may be today? When we truly seek Him, he finds us and will change your eternal life.

I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. Revelation 2:23

I know what a very strong verse for early in the morning.  Strike dead.  Truth is we are all going to die one day.  I pray that as God searches our hearts He finds the transformation that highlights deeds performed only to glorify His kingdom.

It’s not to late, there is nothing that you have done in your past that can’t keep you away from a relationship with God.  Yes, we all have sinful hearts, God won’t be shocked by what He sees.  His desire is for us to turn to Him, repent, and seek Him with our hearts.

Here’s my heart Lord, speak what is true!

I can’t think of a better song.  This last Saturday I was going to take our son to his first concert, Casting Crowns.  I look forward to making it soon.

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. Psalm 139:1

Happy Easter Bible Journal readers, praying for you and your families.  Produce great fruit this week.

 

 

 

Head over Every Power and Authority – Preeminence

Today’s Reading: Colossians 1:18

The most sacred weeks of the Christian year began yesterday with Palm Sunday.  It is traditionally the beginning of the Passover and the being of the last days of Christ before the resurrection.  As we look at the scripture passage for today it rings so profound to the awesomeness of God.

Colossians 1:15-18

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by[f] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

This is the entire Jesus story in a paragraph.  This is the reason that all of this happened, is happening, and will happen.  This is the Creation, the Fall, the Blood, and the Resurrection in one unified statement.  God in his infinite wisdom loved us and wanted to share Himself with us. We could not open the relationship and maintain it, so He came in the likeness and fullness of man to reconcile us to him.  He loved us more than we can or ever could understand.

During these very difficult times it is sometimes impossible to see the goodness of God, but he is continually here with us.  It is stated in the above passage

16 For by[f] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.  This section gives me peace. I have cried and worried a little during this current crisis.  This is a wake up call for everyone in the world.  It is getting to a point that all creatures are being affected. But when you are able to have a true relationship with God, you may weep for a while before you are able to realize that He was in the midst of all things before they created. There is nothing that God has not seen or not known about, because he created it.

Heavenly Father,

As we prepare for this coming week, allow us not to dwell on the worries of the world.  Allow us to find your inner peace that you have given us and remember that you are in complete control of all things.  Thank you for loving us so much that you sacrificed yourself to reconcile us to you. Amen

The Lord is His Name

When you meet someone for the first time, the first thing you usually learn about them is their name.  You might chat for a bit, walk away and then think, “what was their name?”  My husband is a master at learning and remembering names.  When we moved to Arizona years ago he had to manage 150 employees and he was determined to know their names before he started his first day on the job.  He sat for hours with pictures and names and memorized them all.  I remember him telling me  how impressed the people were when he actually knew their name before he even met them.  Now I on the other hand am really bad and don’t usually make an effort at knowing someones name.  I should probably work on that.  

Names are important.  There is nothing more personal to you than your name.  To execute a legal document, you have to sign your name.  No matter what you fill out on a form, it is not final till you end with your signature.  Your name is what identifies you.  Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches”.  People associate your name with your character.  

Regrettably, 3000 years ago in the book of Amos, the people of Israel got so caught up in their prosperity that they lost their connection with the Lord and His name.  Likewise, we today are not much different.

Over the years, Israel lost touch with the Lord.  Each generation moved farther and farther away from who the Lord was.  So Amos had to introduce them to the Lord them all over again.  They had to start with His name.

He who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns deep darkness into the morning and darkens the day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the Lord is his name;

Amos 5:8

Amos wanted to do more than tell the Israelites about the name of the Lord.  He  wanted them to know that the Lord is at work and is actively involved in their lives.  In the book of Amos, the Lord is active.  52 times in this book the Lord says, I WILL:

I will send

I will break down

I will destroy

I will not let

I will slaughter

I will turn

I will not

I will make

I will bring

I will give

I will test

I will no longer

I will not delay

I will never

I will kill

I will reach

I will search

I will command

I will never

I will give

I will restore

I will repair

I will rebuild

I will bring

I will firmly plant

People today might believe that God created the Heavens and the Earth, the stars of Pleiades and Orion, the day and the night, the rain and the seas, but they are not convinced that He is directly involved or active in their everyday lives.

If you look back over your life, can you see things that occurred, and say that was the Lord?  In Amos 2 we see that God has the Israelites look back to see what He has done in their lives.

“Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars and who was as strong as the oaks;  I destroyed his fruit above and his roots beneath.  Also it was I who brought you up out of the land of Egypt and led you forty years in the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite.  And I raised up some of your sons for prophets, and some of your young men for Nazirites.  Is it not indeed so, O people of Israel?”  declares the Lord.

Amos 2:9-11

We may not know it at the time, but isn’t it amazing to look back at your life and see the hand of God who directed your steps and decisions?  

In today’s society many if not most people know about God.  They have heard about Him and His power, but they don’t know His Name.  Paul tells us in John 17:26 that we are to make His name known to others.

I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

His name is the Lord and He is active in our everyday life!

He Who Turns Blackness Into Dawn

Almost every day, I’m awake well before the sun rises, with a cup of coffee and a book or game, working on waking up very slowly as dawn breaks. There’s comfort in the sunrise; to know a new day is beginning, to know the Lord has blessed me with another day. That quiet start of the day always seems to offer a chance of solemn realization and thankfulness; a reflection of God driving away the night and giving us a new day.

We all know the imagery of light vs. darkness representing good vs. evil; we see it right off the bat as God creates light in Genesis 1, calling it good. We know and often experience first hand the danger of darkness, of promises of thieves emboldened by the cover of darkness, adulterers and criminals sinning away from the eyes of the world, of being blinded to the world around us and lost and confused. It’s easy to see the contrast in this of the light too; the world around us revealed again, the possibilities of a new day, the beginning of a new journey and new work to be done.

It’s important in these reflecting moments to think of, as Amos describes in Amos 5:8, “he who turns blackness into dawn.” To make it easily understandable for us, the Bible paints our experiences with sin as being trapped in a deep darkness, our sight of God obfuscated. It’s as Jesus says in Matthew 8:12 – “The subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Or in John 11:10 – “It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light.” When sin surrounds us, we are as if trapped in a deep darkness, without a protector to lead us. We are left helpless and hopeless, no choice but to succumb to the wages of sin: eternal death.

But just as the sun rises every day, as God turns blackness into dawn, through His grace He acts as a light, driving away our sin. For as proclaimed in 1 John 1:5-7: “This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.” What a reminder to start the day with. God is perfect, flawless, free of sin; the example who’s path we can always walk in. When we try to walk on the path of our own volition, it’s just about impossible to not stumble. But God will never lead us astray into the dangers sin present.

Thinking back to the tougher times of my life, a number of my memories are swallowed by a thick darkness of sin. I remember all of the fear, the doubt, the despair, the hopelessness whenever I tried to walk on my own without God’s help. This spiritual darkness is all too present, and ready to consume those who don’t follow God’s teaching. What about in your own life – do you have a time in your life you tried to stumble your way through the dark on your own without God’s guidance? How did those moments of isolation from God’s warmth make you feel? And most importantly, how can you express that feeling of security when you returned to God’s shining grace? And how can you share that through your actions and words with those still in the darkness? For according to Jesus in Matthew 5:16, “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

With God, none of us have to endure that terror. Together, through the blood of Jesus, God purifies us, frees us from darkness and sin. He turns the blackness that seals our fate into the light and purity of His holy presence. If this darkness sounds familiar, if you’re struggling without God’s light right now, know He seeks to shine in your life and in your heart again. Don’t be afraid to express your true feelings while seeking help and support from other Christians in your life. Most importantly, immerse yourself in prayer and Scripture to receive His encouraging word. For as surely as God begins each new day until He returns, He will free you from ever needing to walk that dark path alone again. As Psalm 48:14 says: “For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end.”

Our Guide

Today’s readings are from 2 Corinthians 1:22, 2 Corinthians 5:5, and Hebrews 7:22 as we focus on the word guide to describe God.

A good friend of mine, fellow believer, and fellow Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Advisor, Josh Waite, shared something very interesting with me a few years back which I now share with my clients. I’m not a mountain climber, but Josh is. In recent years, he climbed the highest peak in the continental U.S., Mt. Rainier in the state of Washington, with his siblings in memory of his late father. He shared with me that most people who die climbing some of the world’s highest peaks do so on the way down…not on the way up as many would be lead to believe. They think when they have made it when the reach the top, and they get complacent on the way down. However, the 2 things that help climbers complete a successful journey up and down the mountain are having a map and a guide. This is a good way to describe how we help our clients in retirement planning, and it is in times like we are experiencing today in the financial world that having a map (a financial plan) and a guide in us to help coach them through the challenges becomes most critical. Josh has actually written 2 books on this topic called Up and Down the Mountain for both corporate executives and medical and dental professionals.

The map for climbers shows the best route to take to get down the mountain and fully complete their journey. Fortunately for us, our God has also given us a map in his Word, the Holy Bible. A regular map shows you the route to take, but does not tell you anywhere on it that you will face unexpected and unknown challenges making the journey longer and much tougher. However, thankfully the map God has given us in His Word tells us there will be pitfalls and challenges like those many of us are facing right now with Covid 19 and its trickle down effects. Pastor Mike Baker once said that God doesn’t tell us exactly what specific challenges are ahead for us because we would probably freak out, and we would probably mess things up thinking we can do it better than His perfect plan. Again, He does tell us though we will in fact face challenges (yes..even Christ-followers) and that those challenges mold and shape us into who He wants us to be prior to the great joy that lies ahead in verses like James 1:2-4, James 1:12, 1 Peter 1:6-7, and John 16:33.

Thankfully, not only did God gives us a map in His Word, but he also gave us his Holy Spirit in Acts 2 as our guide which is our word for today. In 2 Corinthians 1:22, it tells us the Holy Spirit is on our hearts. He is always tugging on your heart and telling you where to go..to Jesus. Even though we don’t always go where the guide, the Holy Spirit, is telling us, just like we don’t always go the way the voice on Google Maps or Waze tells us, we end up realizing the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to our hearts and telling us the way to go would have been much better..just like we usually realize when we don’t follow the Google Maps or Waze voice. Sometimes the voice on our GPS can be wrong though…but 1 Corinthians 5:5 tells us the voice of the Holy Spirit as our guide, which we can hear in our hearts leading us to Jesus, is guaranteed to be the best route.

As I mentioned earlier, my friend Josh taught me most people die on the way down the mountain because they get complacent thinking they have made it after reaching the top. We are much the same in our lives. We think we have made it and are victorious when we have really just hit some base camps along the way, and we think we can make it without Him. But, since birth we are all really headed down the mountain in descent because each day we are closer to our last day on this Earth, not knowing when it will be. Every single one of us will miss the shiny snow over there which is really ice, like sin, causing us to fall off the cliff to our death as we are told in Romans 3:23 and Romans 6:23…we just don’t know when.

However, when we follow His Word as our map, and we listen to His Holy Spirit as our guide on our hearts, we will fall less and take fewer wrong steps. But, when we do take missteps, because we will…every day….we have Jesus as a guarantee to catch us in His loving and forgiving arms and safely deliver us to the bottom of the mountain where we have eternal victory as our verses today tell us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 also tells us He actually took our place and fell for us…and in trading places with us…again now delivers us safely in victory, without blemish, to the Holy Father at the bottom. While I’m sure my friend Josh would say making it to the bottom of Mt. Rainier and completing that journey was an unbelievable feeling, as a brother in Christ, I suspect He would also tell us the joy he felt pales in comparison to the everlasting euphoria we will experience when we complete our journey on this Earth and meet Him face to face in eternity.

Gracious

 

 

Isaiah 30:18, Nehemiah 9:17

In this culture and time, people are doers, fixers, problem solvers. When we face an issue, we research, plan and figure out what needs to be done to fix the problem. We help each other by doing tasks that require more time, skill or brainpower than our loved one, friend, or coworker has for a given situation. Sometimes we just provide a different perspective which helps others view the issue from a different lens, and enlightens a better solution than was previously obvious. We solve problems by implementing our time and our talents. Many times our love and care are shown by doing.

…Until we face something we cannot solve. I feel like we can all concur that we are at just that point. We can’t do much to change the situation the world is in today. Yes we all have our personal parts to play by following directions from the CDC, but by in large, we are helpless to make a real difference in the midst of this pandemic. We cannot stop it or change it’s effects. We hate not being in control. We don’t like the unsettled feelings we face because it has become obvious that we are mostly helpless against this virus today, and if we honestly look back over our lives we have faced other sets of circumstances that have caused these same helpless feelings and loss of control. This is helplessness brings us to the place where we are forced to look outside of ourselves for help and hope. Isaiah 30:18 tells us, “So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.” Nehemiah 9:17 says, “You are a God of forgiveness, gracious, and merciful, slow to become angry and rich in unfailing love. You did not abandon your people.”

God won’t insert Himself in our hearts and minds. That’s not how He operates. He loves us too much to choose for us. He waits for us to recognize Him. He waits for us to realize how much we need Him. He waits for us to come to Him so He can show us His love and compassion, His Grace, His mercy, and His unfailing love. If we come to Him, He will not abandon us. These promises and characteristics of His are like gifts of gold to us. They comfort us, bring peace to our lives and change our focus from our selves and our fears to His gifts of grace. He doesn’t promise us He will remove the pain or the causes of fear, but He does promise to never leave us, and to love us perfectly through whatever we have to walk through.

I have loved the past few months of looking into the scriptures that describe God’s many names. The circumstances of these last few months have made these posts more meaningful and more precious than previous times I have studied through God’s names. The Bible says that God’s word is “living and active” and I sense that His word is more applicable, healing and comforting for a lot of us now than maybe other times in our lives. Circumstances change our outlook and our thoughts. I am praying that soaking in the names of God, over these next few months overrides our human thoughts, fears and reality. I am so grateful that God nudged BJ to choose this topic of study for this portion of the year. I don’t think BJ had any idea what these months would hold for all of us when he chose this, but God did. God knew what we would be facing, and how our hearts would react to these circumstances. I am so grateful for the daily reminders of who God is. I need the reminders of His perfection, His grace, His faithfulness and His unfailing love. When I focus on Him, I see the world differently than when I sit with my own thoughts. He is waiting for us to come to Him for help, hope and whatever else you are carrying this morning.

God Who Sees

Mankind wants to be understood, known, and seen. I believe each person is wired with a sense of longing to be known by other people. Most people want to be recognized for something. What if someone has already recognized you? What if someone already sees you and recognizes you as the person you were created to be?

The story that we have in front of us today needs a bit of background. This story in particular is one that takes us back to the first book of the Bible, Genesis, where Abram and his wife Sarai are about to put their “destiny” in their own hands. In Genesis 15, God makes a covenant (a promise) with Abram. God promised that even in Abram and Sarai’s old age, their descendants would be vast (Genesis 15: 4-6). God made a promise that Abram’s family would be God’s chosen people and given a land that was not currently theirs (Genesis 15: 13-16). God, the creator of the entire universe made a promise with his creation.

Abram’s whole life changed in one chapter. At his age, he was told by the creator of the universe that somehow, he would have descendants that would reach beyond the numbers of the stars. Being in that position, it would be difficult to understand how that is going to play out. Genesis 16 starts shows how as humans, we want to take things in our own hands and not trust someone else.

Abram and his wife Sarai saw an opportunity to make sure that God’s promise came true. They had a plan to have Abram lay with their servant Hagar so that they can have a child. Hagar was a bondservant from the land of Egypt and served the household of Abram and Sarai. Once Abram had lain with his wife’s servant, Sarai was immediately jealous and treated his servant with harshness (Genesis 16: 5-6). Once Hagar saw an opportunity she fled away from her master! All through this Hagar has been mistreated, used, and uprooted from her homeland. She is most likely confused about the direction of her life and is tired of being mistreated for a plan that she didn’t want to be a part of.

Then…an angel of the Lord shows up and challenges Hagar to go back to her master and submit to her. Soon after that the angel then says in Genesis 16:10, “The angel of the LORD also said to her, ‘I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude’”. Hagar has to be thinking that she is out of her mind. She is being challenged to listed to an angle of the Lord, that is not of her home religion, and then believe that she will be with child. Also, the child that she is going to have will bring about many decedents. After first glance, I am thinking that she will surely run back to Egypt or go somewhere else. Why would she listen and return to her harsh master Sarai? What benefit does it have for her? How can she trust God during this time?

In Genesis 16:13, Hagar says in response to the angel of the Lord, “So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing’, for she said, ‘Truly here I have seen him who looks after me’”. After all that Hagar has gone through and the pains that she will continue to bear, she still looks to the LORD and says that God understands, sees her, and will be there for her through it all.

Hagar’s story is much like our own. Hagar wanted to be seen and known. She spent her entire life submitting, being mistreated, and taken advantage of. Hagar wanted her own life without any restrictions, where people would see her differently. However, God had a different plan, one where He told her how He saw her. God showed Hagar that His plan was far greater than hers. Hagar’s experience is much like ours. We want to be known and understood in our own unique way. We all want to be recognized. However, God has already recognized us. He already has a plan and wants us to know how much He cares and loves for us.

We are recognized and seen by the one that created and died for us when we didn’t deserve it. We constantly seek after our own ways. Every single day we mess up, but God picks us back up and calls us chosen and redeemed. God sacrificed His only Son to die on the cross for us so that we know this eternally. Jesus, God in the flesh (John 1:1), came down to this Earth to die a gruesome death, so that way we can be called redeemed and known by God!

To be seen by God is to be known by Him. For those that believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are a chosen people who God sees and recognizes all the days of their life!

The God of Wonders Will Bring You Peace

Have you ever cried out to God in sadness or frustration? Have there been times in your life where you were troubled and felt overwhelmed? I know I have <insert COVID19 virus here.> Certainly, given the worldwide pandemic, we can all relate to feeling troubled and being filled with uncertainty.

The 77th chapter of Psalm begins with with author talking about “crying out to God” because his “spirit was overwhelmed.”

“I cried out to God with my voice— To God with my voice; And He gave ear to me. In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; My soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭77:1-3‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

There are many people right now feeling not so great about their lives. Their lives have been disrupted and will never be the same. Major life events have been altered, graduations and school cancelled for the year, sports discontinued, jobs lost, as the entire world has been shut down. Could God have a greater purpose for our lives with this pandemic? Is God trying to send us a message?

I was inspired by a message this past week from Max Lucado. Mr. Lucado referenced the book of Lamentations, in which Jeremiah cried out to God in frustration. Lamentations chapter 3 begins with Jeremiah expressing his frustration as the Jewish people had been overtaken by the Babylonians and Jerusalem was destroyed. Is it ok to cry out to God and express our frustration? Yes. Jeremiah cried out to God in Jeremiah 3:1-20 and spoke to his frustration and sadness related to the state of his life. Jeremiah then rallies in verse 21 and 22 and refers to “his hope” and that “God’s mercies are new every morning.”

Back to Psalms. The Psalmist evolves later in chapter 77 to recognize God for His wonders.

“You are the God who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the peoples.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭77:14‬ ‭NKJV

In the midst of frustration, turmoil, or disappointment, we can cry out to God to express our sadness and vulnerability. Prophets in the Bible did this frequently. God loves us and wants to know our pains and disappointments. He wants us to recognize that through Him, we can find peace and fulfillment in every situation. Even though our current circumstances may seem insurmountable or impossible, through Christ, we can find hope. Christ wants us to turn to Him and rely on His love and mercy to fulfill us. We will not gain hope through our focus and desire for fulfillment in this world. Only in Christ, will we find peace and purpose.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

“The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” is the verse that keeps coming to my mind. People change, lives are improved, and sinners become clean through Jesus Christ. Jesus wants a relationship with you. Talk to Him. Tell Him about your happy times, your frustrations, and your doubts. Every good relationship revolves around communication. Tell Christ what troubles you, acknowledge His presence in your life, and He will bring you peace.