Why I Believe – Psalm 7

Throughout David’s ordeals on his way to becoming king, I can’t imagine the extent of the feelings he battled. The fear for his life from his enemies; the anger towards his father-in-law’s behavior; the frustration of those who twisted Saul’s ear with deceptions against David; the deep resentment over the betrayal of Saul after all David did for the kingdom of Israel; the loneliness and exhaustion from fleeing danger across the country all on his own. As faithful a man as David was, I can only assume in his human condition he fought these things the same way I imagine many of us would. I imagine most would people nowadays may feel a thirst for justice or desire for revenge in David’s shoes.

Psalm 7 is an incredible song of deliverance from these captive chains of revenge. David demonstrates an incredible surrender of his own accord to God’s judgement; as he states in verse 8, “The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me.” God will shield the righteous from destruction, and will rightly punish those who do Him wrong and refuse to repent. David could totally get mad and go all Goliath round 2 against those chasing him and take his rightful throne by force. But even as death chases him, he knows his opinion of who is in the right and wrong is purely subjective, and instead sings for the Lord to judge according to His standards, even if it ends with David punished for wrongdoings of his own.

The freedom from hatred within the heart, the recognition of an authority over right and wrong beyonds our capabilities and judgement, the practicing of God’s control over our lives; David’s words speak to reasons my own faith is essential. When the world feels so saturated with evil, full of men only after the desires of their own selfish hearts, my belief in God’s continued sovereignty and righteous judgement calms my heart and assuages my reactions towards these things. In David’s actions and words of mercy towards his pursuers (1 Samuel 24:12-13, 1 Samuel 26:19), I see faith in action. I see the Lord healing the scars borne of our fallen humanity and bringing a righteous calm to a raging storm.

This is one thing I think clearly demonstrates God’s existence and the enacting of His will. I have borne the burden of a fallen human heart myself, and empathize with the feelings David must have felt. To hear him take his burden to the Lord and praise His righteousness and judgement above all else – to experience this lightening of burdens when I likewise bring my own troubles and failures to the Lord – this is more than proof enough for me that God changes the hearts of those who believe. Knowing the condition of our sinful hearts firsthand, I know no one and nothing other than God could possibly put minds at true peace and fill hearts with joyous praise, despite our natural inclinations otherwise. This is part of why I believe: from experiencing firsthand the refuge and deliverance David describes when we right ourselves with God.

Like David in his time of need, we must hold firm against Satan whispering in our ears, encouraging us to overstep our bounds over God’s rights. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also (Matthew 5:38-39).” Our culture encourages – and often even celebrates – vengeance and payback against the perpetrators when we are wronged. We as Christians demonstrate our belief  when we defy this and surrender our need for justice to Him – not that we should at all tolerate or accept wicked deeds, but knowing recompense for wickedness extends beyond our human reach. When our actions display our trust in God’s judgement and we relinquish our pursuit to ruin those who wrong us, we defy the way of the world and show faith in the Lord’s deliverance. The world needs a ridiculous love, and I can attest we offer proof of a ridiculously loving God when we trust in Him to right things when we are wronged – if not in this life, then the next. And let us always sing alongside Psalm 7:17: “I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.”

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

Why I Believe

 

Psalm 5

 

Psalm 5 has God’s personhood written all over it. As we read though this chapter we see the thoughts and actions of the Living God.

~God hears

~Listens

~Takes no pleasure in wickedness

~Hates all who do evil

~Destroys all who tell lies

~Detests murderers and deceivers

~Leads

~Is refuge

~Spreads protection

~Fills with joy those who love Him

~Blesses the godly

~Surrounds His people with His shield of love

These thoughts and actions must come from a living being. No figure or dead person can think or take action. I have to believe that David would not have written this chapter had he not experienced all of these actions. The only other explanation I can come up with for Him to write these things if were not true, is that he could have been a lunatic and out of his mind, but I find it hard to believe that a crazy persons words would have lasted more than 2000 years. There is no point in preserving nonsense, so I choose to believe that this list accurately describes who God is and what He is capable of doing.

 

 

 

This chapter also shows us that David had a personal relationship with God because he spoke to Him as he would any other human in his life. David asks God to:

~Hear him

~Pay attention to him

~Listen to him

~Lead him

~Make His way plain to follow

~Declare his enemies guilty

~Let his enemies be caught in their own traps

~Drive away his enemies

Why would David cry out for help from someone or something powerless to save him? He was running for his life from a powerful king and the king’s armies whose orders were to kill him. David was a desperate man who needed supernatural power to protect him and he knew Who to call on. His lifetime of relationship with God made it second nature to ask for help from the One he knew was his only hope. You can see David’s respect for God, reverence for God, and friendship with God all throughout. He knows what pleases God and what God hates. David knows what God loves and how God loves His people. David knows what God is capable of and who God blesses. This chapter speaks of a real relationship between two living beings.

 

 

I want to experience God, trust God with my life, and know God as intimately as David did. I want to be characterized as one who:

~Cries out to God my King for help

~Brings my requests to Him

~Knows that the proud may not stand in His presence

~Experiences His unfailing love

~Worships Him with deepest awe

~Rejoices in His refuge

~Loves His name

 

It amazes me how much of God’s personhood and character are revealed in just 12 verses. We are given thousands more to explore and learn from. We get to see hundreds of people’s relationships with God throughout the Bible so we can learn more about who God is and how He responds to us. He wants to make His way plain for us to follow, but we have to want to follow Him. We have to spend time with Him. We have to choose Him as our King. Do today’s verses give you a deeper understanding of how God interacts with you? Do you see more of what He wants to be allowed to do in your life? You get to decide…He won’t choose for you even though He could.

Why I Believe: BJ Armstrong

Dwight D. Eisenhower says “plans are useless.”  I agree with him.  Do you need any more proof than 2020?  I made great plans.  You probably did too.  Nothing, absolutely nothing went the way that I planned.

So, what did I do at the end of the year?  I made great plans for 2021.  Same as you.  There is a second part of Eisenhower’s famous quote.  He continues by saying, “planning is everything.”  Guess what?  A thousand things will go wrong again this year.  How do I know?  Its been happening since the beginning of time.

Take a read through Psalms 4.  What do you hear?  I hear a man crying out to God because his life is not going according to plan (v1,2).  I hear a man searching his heart for righteousness (v3).  I hear a man placing his hope in God’s wisdom (v4).  I hear a man grateful in his current circumstances (v5).  He knows God is in control.  Only in Him, does he find joy and peace (v8).

Why do I believe?  I believe for the same reason David did.  In this crazy world, there is only one constant and only one surety.  Peace and joy are not found in planning for abundant harvests of grain and new wine (v7).  They are found only when our confidence and our faith is placed in the Lord.

Living With Hope

Life provides us daily challenges and difficulties.  The unexpected, the hard to understand, the situations where we have no answers, and the challenges that seem to have no end.

How can we believe there is a God when the world we live in is so troubled, sinful, and sad?

Our reading today is Psalm 3 in which we learn of an unimaginable challenge in David’s life.  As a leader who had done many good things in the name of the Lord, he was also a man of God who committed what seemed like unforgivable sins. In this chapter, David is attempting to escape from his son, Absalom, who is attempting to overthrow his father and kill him.

Psalm 3

1-2 – David cries out to the Lord in trouble

3-4 – David recognizes God’s grace

5-6 – Dave acknowledges the rest God provides in troubled times

7-8 – David gives thanks

For me, faith boils down to one word…HOPE.

  • The Bible exhorts hope that God is with us, all the time, and there is a reason for strife and challenges. (Colossians 1:5)
  • I believe that the bad things that happen have a purpose in my life. I will learn from them. I believe bad things can be used for good.  (Hebrews 11:1-3; 2 Thessalonians 2:16)
  • I believe that our struggles will not last forever. (Romans 5:1-5)
  • I believe that the disappointments and failures in my life do not define me. (Romans 15:13)
  • No matter how bad this world gets, our Father has a plan and purpose for everything. (Romans 8:24-25)
  • All of things that are awful and unexplainable will someday be explained in Heaven. (Romans 12:2; Hebrews 10:23)
  • I believe that we cannot look for happiness and fulfillment in this world, because we will always be let down and disappointed. (Hebrews 6:18-19; Titus 1:2; Titus 2:11)

I encourage you to read the Bible and study scripture regularly.  God will provide you hope in troubles, strength in difficulties, and “pull you through” when it feels like you cannot go on.

Formula for Hope

  1. Cry out to God when you are troubled
  2. Recognize that God provides hope in the worst situations
  3. Acknowledge that God will provide you “rest” if you turn to Him
  4. Give thanks to God for what He has provided you – know that He is with you and ask Him for strength

When writing this, I am aware that those reading this fall into different levels of faith and belief in Christ.  1.) You may be a devout believer, 2.) You may have have believed in the past but are wavering, or 3.) You do not believe in God and Christ at all and think those of us that believe are “brainwashed.”

I would encourage you to open a Bible and read the scripture listed in the Bible Journal posts like this one. Seek information so you can make an informed decision about Christ. Think about scriptures you read each day and try to apply them daily to situations, decisions, and interactions.  Find a great church community with leaders that walk you through explanations and study the scriptures. Attend church regularly in person or online.  (Cornerstone Chapel or Eastview Christian Church) The more time you spend learning, the more you can use the information to make an informed decision about your faith in Christ and most importantly, allow your faith to impact your daily life.

I have learned that my relationship with God is similar to my relationships here on Earth.  The more time I spend learning and listening, the stronger the relationship.  I find hope and faith when I seek answers. If I do not spend time reading and studying scripture, then my faith falters and fades.

My prayer is that we do not let our faith be framed by the place we live now.  My prayer is that our faith is built based on the HOPE and belief in the place where we want to live, Heaven.

The Bible was written by 40 different authors over 1600 years.  It is complex and it is can difficult to understand.  Seek guidance and interpretation of how to understand scriptures and you can learn how to utilize the message to impact your life today.

I Believe: Begotten

In the best known scripture in the world – have you ever wondered about…

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

…have you ever wondered about begotten? I’ve always accepted it as had, or a word for possession. Simply, God gave His Son. Which is true.

I was intrigued and enlightened to learn more about this word.

C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity explains that this word represents Jesus as the same being as God, from before all worlds was even created. He contrasts begotten from created… Begotten being the same as the begotter, and creation being different than the creator. People beget people. Squirrels beget squirrels. God created earth. A bird creates a nest. I create a painting. But God beget Jesus, His Son, who is also fully God in his image.

So what’s the big deal? Does this begotten matter?

Back in 325 AD, apparently it did matter – there was a large discussion (debate?) within in the early church, which resulted in the Nicene Creed (the first half is below). Nicene, because it happened in city of Nicaea (present day Iznik, Turkey), and Creed, which is a fancy word for statement of beliefs, usually in the realm of faith.

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth, of things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the begotten of God the Father, the Only-begotten, that is of the essence of the Father.
God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten and not made; of the very same nature of the Father, by Whom all things came into being, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible.
Who for us humanity and for our salvation came down from heaven, was incarnate, was made human, was born perfectly of the holy virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit.
By whom He took body, soul, and mind, and everything that is in man, truly and not in semblance.

So, the question I ask myself, do I truly believe in Jesus as fully God, begotten, not made. Born from a virgin birth. Or have I accepted this as a sweet traditional story during Christmas, folklore almost? And does this differentiation matter?

Here’s what I’ve come to, and I am curious about where you land.

I believe it does matter. This is the basis of Christ, who He is, why He came, and the sufficiency we have through Him. Without the virgin birth – without the begotten – He wouldn’t be fully God, and able to be the perfect and full sacrifice for our sins. Without this, we aren’t able to live in eternity with the Father.

What proof or why do I believe this? Sure, I can go with “it says so in the Bible”, but without the belief in the inerrancy of scripture, or taking God’s word as truth, it might be difficult to stand firm in this belief in the begotten Jesus. Like other questions of faith, it requires prayer. Persistently asking the Holy Spirit to guide you to truth. In this you might land where I did – begotten Jesus is in sync with other truths God has shown us. Collectively and personally. The consistency of the begotten Jesus reaffirms salvation available through a perfect sacrifice. Personally, this sacrifice has been life changing. This side of eternity, I experience salvation and life as a new creature. This personal testimony can only be attributed to the begotten Jesus.

This belief is also woven all through scripture. In the first chapter of John, it’s noted that In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Jesus is the Word, and He was both with God and fully God. Mind blowing. Perfect. Complete.

In Psalms 2, which is our reading for today, you can read through the passage and see these themes:

        • Verses 1-3 Our sin and rebellion
        • Verses 4-6 God’s response
        • Verses 7-9 Begotten Jesus’ authority over all
        • Verses 10-12 Our response

I love how Psalms 2 ends in a charge for us to respond. Be wise, serve the Lord, humble ourselves.

How do you answer this question in your own faith journey? Do you recite John 3:16 or the Nicene Creed in a routine manner, without having explored your true and full belief in the begotten Jesus?

I’d love to hear your reflections and thoughts. I’m praying for each reader to feel the promptings of the Holy Spirit – to identify your belief or areas of doubt as we journey through the Psalms. Don’t be afraid to recognize those corners of your heart that have questions. I’m praying that each of us has a renewed conviction to search through the doubts we carry. A desire to ponder our uncertainties. Through this we can develop our own personal creeds.

Revelation 12:11 says that we will overcome by the blood of the Lamb (thank you Jesus) and the word of our testimony. Our personal testimony of who Jesus is and what he has done in our life.  I can’t wait to testify together in 2021. Creed on, friends!

Begotten References

        • John 1:18 begotten Jesus is declared by God
        • John 3:18 condemnation through  disbelief in the begotten Jesus
        • Hebrews 1:5, 5:5 and Acts 13:33 reference to Psalms 2
        • 1 John 4:9 begotten Jesus is a manifestation of God’s love

 

Why I Believe: Jon Harris, Part 1

People keep talking about how bad 2020 was, but what does God say about that? Maybe he said something like: I WAS THERE WITH YOU ALL ALONG, YOU JUST HAD TO OPEN YOUR EYES!!! I USED THIS AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO DRAW NEARER TO YOU AND CHANGE YOUR LIFE!!!

Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. (James 4:8 NLT)

As a start to the new year, the Bible Journal team will be sharing thoughts as to why we believe what we believe. I am praying in this very moment that what is shared here reaches the hearts, minds and souls of our readers for the sake of eternity.

Background

There was always the fear of death; not necessarily the act of dying but the question: What will happen to me when I die?

I grew up attending church and Sunday school regularly and had even made confessions of faith verbally and was voluntarily baptized. Those were outward actions but the life I was living made me look more like a fan of Jesus (at best) than a follower.

Tired of living on the fence, I decided it was time to truly challenge the topic once and for all. Is there a God? Was Jesus who he said he was? Why should I care about any of this? Is there such thing as eternity?

Who was Jesus: God, madman, or liar? We must all choose.

These words captivated me many years ago and still do to this day. Only one of these three things can be true.

Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. (CS Lewis, Mere Christianity)

Foundation

The biography of Jesus found in The Gospels provides evidence of eye witness accounts of the life, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. From a firm research perspective (significantly based on reading “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel) I believe that the New Testament is an authentic document. There is legitimate evidence of the man Jesus of Nazareth and in his life he made claims as to who he was. He was a real person.

I also believe that there is no other book in the world where more people try to dispute what it says. I believe we (yes we) want to dispute it mainly because of our selfish nature. We don’t want to be told that sin is wrong or even that there is such a thing as sin.

Something happened.

There is significant evidence of early martyrdom and it continues still today around the world.

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. (John 15:18)

All but one of the twelve disciples are believed to have died as a martyr for Christ. After 50 AD, Christianity actually became illegal, punishable by death.

What did the early believers and proclaimers of the resurrection know and believe that they would never deny, even to the point of being burned alive, crucified, or sawed in half? There are a multitude of things I’d renounce (even great things) if I were threatened to be sawed in half. Why didn’t they renounce their religion? What would be in it for them to keep propagating something they believed was a lie?

Prophecy, an innocent man.

Isaiah 53 is a beacon, a summary of Christianity written ~700 years before Jesus. The more I read this chapter the more I see Jesus (as Isaiah talks about an innocent man being put to death). In the trial of Jesus, he was found innocent (Luke 23:13-16) yet put to death. This man who had served and healed many became the object of hate.

He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth. (Isaiah 53:9)

Seeking

Seeking the real, authentic Jesus translates into a growth in faith. God promises it.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

This verse is something that brings me to faith because the more I seek Him, the more I find Him in all things. Whether in relationships, nature, work, prayer, hearing songs of praise, reading scripture, or sensing him walking alongside me especially when I am at my worst.

Peace in a storm

Fifteen years ago on this very day (1/1/2006), my wife Amy and I found out she was pregnant. We began telling people the great news three months later when suddenly we thought she had a miscarriage. May I never hear her scream for help like that again. Blood everywhere, and other facts too gory to share in this moment. To our astonishment at the hospital we heard a heartbeat, but our worries were nowhere near over. That night we arrived home late, and with the little faith I had, I prayed. The moments before going to sleep that night were the most surreal in my entire life, even to this day: Never before had I gone so quickly from such deep sorrow and fear to such great peace which is difficult to explain.

There was almost the sound of a whisper, “Things are going to be ok“. It hit me like a wave, like being under water for too long then taking that first deep breath. While the medical condition remained, anxiety and fear had been replaced with peace, and I have no other explanation apart from this being a true miracle.

Those are just a few of the reasons I believe. How about you?

Today’s chapter is Psalm 1 which can be a great beginning to 2021 and great hope if we choose to turn from sin and meditate on the Lord.

2020 Reflections

Today’s reading:  Ecclesiastes 3:1-14

Can you believe we made it to the last day of 2020?  What a year it has been.  Has the first global pandemic in your lifetime, the far reaching impacts of racial injustice and the polarizing political divide changed you?  Do you think you are the same person today as you were last January 1?

For most of the year, I felt like I weathered the storms of 2020 pretty well.  But I am no longer the same person.  I’m weary.  As winter drags on, I am intellectually bored to tears, dying for an exciting challenge to rescue me from wasting away.  If you can’t stand me right now, I’m not surprised, I can barely stand myself!  While my brain knows this is just a season that will eventually change, my heart still struggles.  In preparing for this post today, one of my favorite passages of scripture kept coming to mind:

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:4).

a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away (Ecclesiastes 3:6).

He has made everything beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Read verse 11 again.  Do you believe it?  Do you trust God will make everything beautiful in his time?  I do.  When I stop thinking about myself and shift my attitude to gratefulness, I look back over 2020 and see several unexpected blessings God gave me  –

  • More time with my husband and kids – this is the most time we’ve spent together in years
  • More time for healthy habits – I am in the best shape of my life and feeling great
  • More time to cultivate friendships – less busyness has given me more time to spend focusing on others

As we get ready to embark on 2021, who knows what it will bring.  I hope it is better than 2020, but it may be worse.  What I know for sure is God has it under control.

Because he lives, I can face tomorrow.  Because he lives, all fear is gone.  Because I know he holds the future, and life is worth a living just because he lives (Bill and Gloria Gaither, 1971) .

 

 

 

Keep Reading

I’m 47 years old and I have yet to read through the entire Bible. I profess to know God, love Him and follow Him yet I’ve always relied heavily on what I’ve learned from church, books, or pastors with their comedic wit to lure me to the foot of Christ.  Thanks to Bj and his Bible journal invitation I have read more than I ever have in the past 2 years. I admit that it’s hard to read sometimes. It’s old and can be overwhelming. There are really boring parts with names I cannot begin to pronounce and I often find myself rereading portions because I fell asleep a few verses back. In this world of immediate gratification I have snatched up a psalm here and there or a familiar gospel to fulfill my daily reading while avoiding others. Those are the easy reads of the Bible. But if we take bits and pieces of the Bible we miss out on the real power and love of God and Jesus our Savior. It takes time, dedication, and desire to read the the Bible in its entirety, but I have noticed that when I take the time to read a little everyday (and not skip the hard parts) the time is sweet and rewarding. It really does come alive and it becomes a part of my daily thoughts. All the pieces start to fit together and they all point to Jesus.
I found a new appreciation for the book of Chronicles. It is a record of all the kings and whether or not they followed God and how that effected their lives and the people they lead. If you want to read of kings and kingdoms and gruesome wars this is it. My favorite king, of course, was David who followed God so imperfectly. He messed up so many times, but still came back to God. And God still used him in spite of his mistakes.  In 1 Chronicles God gave instructions to David on how to build the temple. SPECIFIC instructions. Then God proceeded to tell David that his son Solomon would be the one to actually build the temple. I wonder if that was hard for David to give up some of that control. To pass on what God told him for the next generation to carry out. Maybe he had a moment of wondering if he had raised Solomon well enough to complete such an important task. As parents I think we can all relate to this. As kids we can relate as well. Carrying out a legacy of faith can be daunting and overwhelming – what if I screw up or fail? How will I move forward? Davids words to Solomon in 1 Chronicles 28:20 are words of wisdom and encouragement for the future.
1 Chronicles 28:20 “Be strong and courageous and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the Lord God, my God is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you”.
We have much ahead of us as Christians in our world today. Don’t be discouraged by the size of the task…….God will be with us. We do not move through this world alone. Let’s continue to spur each other on in our faith and consistently spend time with our Almighty Father.
Happy New Year!!
Shelly

Armor of God

Good Morning everyone! I pray everyone had a great Christmas and still enjoying this special time between now and the new year. How has 2020 been for you? For myself, I feel the Father of Lies has been working overtime this last year to win the battle in our minds and hearts. I know I have been on the end of some losing battles this year. Thankfully, He reminds me us in 1Corinthians 15:57 these minor defeats are temporary and victory is ultimately His.

Maybe this last year you were impacted by a job loss or didn’t get a position you had applied for. The devil will often speak the lies of insecurity, failure, and struggles that will ask you what’s next?

Maybe you have lost touch with some friends, family, or haven’t been able to meet with your small group face-to -face? I’m grateful for Facetime or Zoom but I also know these are not the same as sitting together in the same place, face-to-face enjoying time together with laughter, tears, and great big hugs!  The devil will speak lies of loneliness that can lead to questioning yourself or turning to false pleasures.

Maybe you have lost a loved one this last year?  I’m sorry. The devil will make you question why this horrible thing happened to you or maybe even you did something to deserve it? Whether it be Covid related, mental health or just the stress that living through this last year has brought; the fact is those are only lies.   You have not lost faith, hope, or love.

1Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ

I’m asking us all to pray for each other as we head into a new year. Pray for those areas we each need strength. If you need specific prayers please comment back.  We would love to pray with you! Here are some ways we can fight against the enemy that has worked hard this last year.

  • Keep the Faith – Have faith like Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen God has been and always is working for the good for those who love Him. Romans 8:28.
  • Have Hope – God will always prevail. Sometimes our timing is not always Hs timing. His plans are not always our plans.  Romans 8:24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?
  • Always have Love –  God’s love is present in every joyful circumstance and painful experience.  We can ask for spiritual strength to trust 1 Corinthians 13:7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Let’s put on the Whole Armor of God! The biggest war is in our minds. Be active this year. Full of Faith, Hope, and Love! Ephesians 6:10-20

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Dear God,

The devil is constantly seeking to destroy me. Yet, in Christ, You have given me all that I need to win this battle. Please help me to put on Your armor daily and to stand strong against the enemy’s attacks.  Amen