Sing Praise

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 26:1-19

I love worshiping through song, in the car, going for a run, working around the house, and especially Sunday mornings.  These are when and where you will witness me singing loud or attempting to stay in tune as I hit every note.  Think about your favorite songs right now? What is a recent worship song you heard that you connected with? Do you have it? Maybe it was in the car or last week at church.  Play it when you are done reading.

Today’s verses read about a song sung by the redeemed and meant to demonstrate their victory procession.  Singing can often lift us up and help us draw close to Him.  Read/Sing verses Isaiah 26:3-4.

Redeemed – Big Daddy Weave

3) You, Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in You.  4) Trust in the Lord forever; He will always protect us. (amen)

Chapter 26 is a song of trust, praise, and redemption.  We can all sing to that.  Even though our earthly lives will come with trials, we can sing praise by knowing, trusting, and thanking Jesus for paying the ultimate sacrifice.

 

Sing praise today.  Our mindset can be to live by the flesh or the Spirit.  Choose the Spirit, and you will have perfect peace.  Let’s share our joy.  Let’s tell others of our Lord’s victory that can give peace beyond any understanding.

Philippians 4:7

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

Good God Almighty – Crowder

Praise Him Today!

In Whom Do You Trust?

Today’s reading is Mark 14:32-72. In these verses we read through Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, his betrayal and arrest, and Him before the Council (Jewish religious leaders).

Life is hard. We go through many challenging times and situations here on Earth. I would venture to say some of the most difficult situations are when trust is broken and people let us down..especially those we are close to or look up to. I’ve stated this before, but it can’t be said enough, we are so blessed because we have a God who knows exactly what pain we are going through because He experienced it Himself. We read here about how stressed Jesus was knowing the pain and suffering He was about to go through on our behalf. And in the midst of getting ready to experience a punishment most of us can’t even fathom and will never have to go through, He also experienced the following within just a few hours…

  • His 3 best friends in James, John, and Peter letting him down by falling asleep, not keeping watch, and praying like He asked
  • Judas, one of his 12 disciples and closest friends, betraying Him and handing Him over to the religious leaders for money
  • His friends all leaving Him and fleeing the garden when He was arrested and needed their support most
  • The religious leaders He once likely looked up to as child or in His younger years now saying He was liar, physically striking him, and seeking to put him to death
  • Others bearing false witness against Him and telling untrue things about Him
  • As far as we know His only friend near Him while before the Council (all the others abandoned Him and were in hiding) was Peter who denied him not once, but three times

Let down, betrayed, abandoned, lied about, and alone…Jesus could have stopped it all, but He still went to the cross for each of them and for you and for me.

As tough as it is to realize and face when it occurs… our spouse, our parents, our kids, our pastors, our mentors, our best friend, leaders, and anyone we trust and hold in high regard will eventually let us down in one way, shape, or form breaking that trust. And..we will let them down, too. Despite the fact they may have let us down in a major way, we must try to move past and forgive because that is what Jesus did for you and for me. Romans 5:7-8 says, “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare to die—but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”

We must realize that Jesus is the only one who will never let us down and never break a promise. Some may say, “What has God ever done for me?”  For those who are reading this who have had a really tough life or are facing a challenging situation right now…I’m sorry. You may feel like God has let you down and that is understandable. When we dig deeper though, how can we be mad at God for promises He never actually made? In fact, Jesus said the exact opposite.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

He doesn’t say we may have trouble in this life…He says we “will” have trouble! That is why He came. That is why He went to the cross. He did that for you and for me to forgive our sins and the sin of the world. And He kept the promise of overcoming sin and death (the world) when He rose from the dead on Easter this Sunday. He did this so we can have eternal life with Him in Heaven where there will be no more pain and crying and where we will experience a joy we can’t even imagine. He is the only one we can put our trust in that will never mess up and break it. He will never let you down. He is the most important relationship in your life. Have you given your heart and trust to Him?

Going Fishing

I need Jesus. If I’m sincere, I need him a lot more than the amount of time I spend with Him now. I can’t quite figure out which one of the many human flaws keeps me from this daily surrender? ( Romans 3:23)  I’m grateful for His living word that can pierce my heart and draw me home. Hebrews 4:12

Today’s reading is Luke 5.

Verse 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”

Why did Simon say this? In reading comments on this verse, it shares how Jesus had spoken previously to Simon and Andrew. (John 1:40-42) They had heard and met Jesus previously but were too distracted by their business of fishing. ( I recall scenes of this in the series The Chosen- I would recommend this if you haven’t watched it yet) For myself, I connect with the start of school and getting everything ready. I think about worldly distractions that can come when you have young kids involved in various activities and two working parents in education—distracted by the world, distracted by focusing only on our jobs. Simon and had forgotten about the miracles that Jesus had performed. Still, Jesus pursued them and got their complete attention by filing their nets.

Have you been distracted lately? Have you forgotten the miracles Jesus has already performed in your life? I have at times. Thankfully, Jesus never stops pursuing us.

Verse 10-11 Then Jesus said to Simon, “ Don’t be afraid; from now on, you will fish for people”. 11 So they pulled their boats up on the shore, left everything, and followed Him.

The journey we all take closer to Him is incredible. Luke 5 reminded me of His miracles in my life and my lack of focus at times when the call of the world distracts me. Lord, I’m so grateful for every blessing you have provided in our lives. Let these miracles draw us closer to you. Thank you, Lord, for always pursuing me and helping me to become a fisher of others.

Whom shall I fear?

The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid; what can anyone do to me? 7. It is the Lord who helps me, and I will see my enemies defeated.  8 It is better to trust in the Lord than depend on people. 9 It is better to trust in the Lord than depend on human leaders.

I’m not sure what you have planned today.  Maybe you’ve just had a chance to read this, and your day is coming to a close.  In either case, you, as I reflect on Psalm 118, I’m reminded that as we believe and trust in the Lord, it is quick to lose sight that no matter time of day or task at hand, our Heavenly Father is always on our side.  When you truly believe and trust Him as the center of your life, you can live without fear. How awesome it is to know right now we can live every moment without any worry when we live in obedience.

Often, my lack of trust and wisdom throughout years and even in recent moments have led me down many dead-end roads. Times of complete self-absorption that goes opposite of where the Lord is asking me to be. He takes me through hills and valleys that remind me of my desire and need to put more trust in Him for every aspect of my life. Along this journey that includes being a parent, He has led me to a daily prayer asking the Lord to have His will with my life and to help me to show His love for Him in my actions and words. More Him, less me!

I think of the father in Mark that was asking Jesus for help with his son. He says in Mark 9:24 Immediately, the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”  — Help me in any unbelieving time Lord. Or times where I think I have it figured out without your

The people-pleasing days and moments can come calling daily.  Pray, Listen, and take the next step. He is by our side!

Have a blessed day.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Hebrews 11:6

1 Corinthians 2:5

One Name

Today’s reading is Psalm 54.

In whom or in what do you trust? In whom or what do you put your faith and hope in?

Last year brought us arguably the most hyper partisan election in U.S. history with each side claiming the other would end democracy as we know if the other won. With the election result nearly a 50/50 split, half the country was really happy with the outcome and half the country was really disappointed.  Unfortunately, most who voted looked at their candidate to solve our country’s problems and also many to fix their own problems and to rescue them so to speak.

If you did not put your hope and trust in one of these leaders, or even if you did, we can likely find ourselves putting our hope or trust in other political figures, leaders, athletes, or celebrities. We can also find ourselves putting our hope and trust in our careers, money or belongings, or even our spouses, parents, or children looking to them to solve our problems. Sadly, most of us we form our identity or measure our self-worth based on our career, our money or belongings, or relationships. The problem is we end up finding out politicians do not solve all our problems, careers end unexpectedly or due to retirement, money does not bring happiness and can run out no matter the amount, and relationships can end due to death or falter no matter how good of a job we do to nourish them because we are all sinful humans who make mistakes. All these things are futile and end.

As I read Psalm 54, what kept coming to my mind was….one name.

“God save me by your name

and vindicate me by your might.”

Psalm 54:1

Life is short..even if we live 90 to 100 years. There is only one thing we should really fear and that is death. There is only one name that can save us from death and give us eternal life through His sacrifice on the cross. In only Him should we put our hope and trust.

“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

Ross Blumhorst wrote in a Bible Journal post back in January, “God is always right, we never have to guess if He is right or wrong, and you that makes me rejoice-how thankful I am that there’s something in this crazy world I can always know to be true!” Wow..powerful words that are so true. Thank you, Ross. I posted this quote to my social media and my Mom reminded me of this great verse.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
Hebrews 13:8

Thanks, Mom. How great it is to know this in our messed up world?!

Earlier I asked the questions, in whom or in what do you trust? In whom do you put your faith and hope in?

We should strive to constantly remember the words of David here in Psalm 54.

“Behold, God is my helper;

the Lord is the upholder of my

life. “
Psalm 54:4

“For He has delivered me from

every trouble…”

Psalm 54:7

Let us then respond as David does…

“..I will give thank to your

Name O Lord, for it is

good.”

Psalm 54:6

By only one name are we saved. Only one name should we call on and put our faith, hope, and trust in. By only one name should we form our identity. And only in one name should we give our thanks, glory, and praise. That name is Jesus.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ypXUd_vGmI

 

 

Keeping It Real

Today’s reading Psalm 42.

I have to admit I struggled a little bit to understand exactly what the psalmist was saying here, as it seemed like he was contradicting himself. Come to find out after reading studying up a bit more, he is.

In fact, I bet as we read this more closely we can all greatly relate to the psalmist struggle.

In Psalm 42:3, he says…

My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”

In Psalm 42:5, he says…

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?….”

Again, in Psalm 42:9….

“Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”

Lastly, in Psalm 42:11…

Why are you cast down, O my soul, why are you in turmoil within me?

Can’t we all relate to complaining to God about our circumstances? There are times in our life, or even just certain areas of our life over longer periods (or even our whole life), where things just don’t seem to go our way. When we ask God, “Why?” We cry out to God, “Can’t one thing just go my way? Where are you when I need you? I’m doing everything I think you want, but I just can’t seem to catch a break! Are you still there, God? Do you really love and care about me?” And worse yet, sometimes you feel like there may be others that are happy about your challenges and problems as the psalmist describes in his situation (Psalm 42:3,10.)

Then, in his next breaths he seems to be praising God though…

Here in the 2nd part of Psalm 42:5…

“Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation, and my God.”

In the 2nd part of Psalm 42:11….

Hope in my God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

He talks about in Psalm 42:4 how he would lead the procession to praise God, and then in Psalm 42:6 he remembers past successes God has helped him. Do you remember Psalm 42:9 where he complains from above? Well, he actually calls God, “my rock” in 42:9 before doing so.

The psalmist is facing the struggle I believe nearly all of us face where we are going through tough times, yet we try to still praise God but our heart is just not in it sometimes they way it should be. When we try to say we know God is in control, and He’s got us…yet maybe we wonder or doubt. He’s trying talk himself into coming back to what He knows to be true. He’s trying to remind himself that God loves him. God has him and to trust Him. God is in control. And God has a plan and His will is perfect.

The psalmist is as some would say, ‘keeping it real,” with how many of us feel or have felt at times. Are you feeling this way right now? If so, I would encourage you to check out Romans 8. If you’re in a good spot in your walk with the Lord currently, put a bookmark in Romans 8 because you may want to come back to it in the future. I would love to unpack this more but that’s just too much for today, and I really think these few verses say all that really needs to be said anyway.

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

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with graciously give us all things?

Romans 8:31-32

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?…

Romans 8:35

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who love us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:37-39

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

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

Our Peace

Our world has changed over the past few months. Currently, we are dealing with social and racial issues that are splitting the country apart. COVID-19 has changed the economic, physical, and emotional tides of the country. Each day, in the United States, we hear on the news about everything that is going wrong in the world around us.

Many of our families live in fear and dismay over the COVID-19 pandemic and all the other concerns going on. Each one of us is shaken and made to rely on something in their lives for hope and peace.

During all the uncertainty, I keep listening to Christians and Non-Christians’ uncertainty of what the future could be. Each one of us depends on some type of faith. I believe that during all this time, that Christians should portray a peace that passes understanding.

Ephesians 2:14 is our verse today. It says, “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility”. Paul is speaking to the Ephesian church and is addressing the disagreements within the church. He addresses this issue by saying that, Jesus is our only true peace, and He is the only thing that can solve all their issues going on. Also, in Christ Jesus, we are made brothers and sisters in Christ. Therefore, as brothers and sisters, we must represent the sacrifice that Christ has made for us and rally together around that.

How does this disagreement that the church in Ephesians helps us understand peace?

Dictionary.com defines peace as “a state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations:”. As stated above, we can see that we are far from peace in this country and world. There is only one way to obtain true peace, by putting your hope and faith in Christ Jesus for your salvation. Jesus says in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you that in me you have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world”. Our peace is found in Jesus!

Each day we fight, disagree, backstab, and worry all out of the fear of the future. We are looking for some type of utopian society. Because of sin, that isn’t possible, but with Christ, we do have a peace that will surpass all understanding. See Jesus paid for our sin on a cross to provide us the peace in our hearts that we yearn for. The peace that Jesus provides, is the understanding that we have a Savior and God, who loves us so much that the Father sacrificed the Son to pay for all the sin in our lives so that we can live with Christ in eternity.

In the current season of life that we are all living, Christians need to unify under one banner, the cross of Jesus Christ. I encourage each of you to keep your hope in Jesus Christ. Life isn’t easy and there will always be some amount of uncertainty. However, when we are able to band together as believers, we gifted with the Holy Spirit that strengthens us. In Galatians 3:28, Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” There is no distinction that Jesus makes.

Our peace is stronger together as Christians. I encourage you, now is the time to reach out to Christians and Non-Christians, that you know you disagree with on topics. Pray with them, share the Gospel with non-Christians and Christians alike, share a meal together, and overall be together and unify under Christ Jesus, who provides a peace that passes all understanding.

Walking with Him

Good Morning Biblejournal family,

Happy New Years Eve,

The other day I read One Day at a Time by Stephanie.  It really spoke to me at the current time and place in my life.  If you didn’t get the chance to read it I would encourage you to go back and read it again. Reflecting on the quote by Elisabeth Elliot which said,  “The life of faith is lived one day at a time, and it has to be lived – not always looked forward to as though the ‘real’ living were around the next corner. It is today for which we are responsible. God still owns tomorrow.”  This quote got me thinking how many years I have approached the New Year with a list a of new goals or plans for the upcoming year.  I reflect on this last year and leave myself we multiple if only… Still, as we enter into a New Year I was doing some reading and found the words by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 1:2 Meaningless! Meaningless!  says the Teacher.  “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”

I know, encouraging right? Really, what I need to ask myself for the New Year is, what am I doing that is meaningful?  It reminds me that life can be meaningless when I don’t have God at the center of it.  That true satisfaction and joy only come through Him.  Many times I can do be doing things for me or/and make idols out of my wife, kids, job, sports, or earthly desires. Often I want things my way and in my timing. God shakes His head I’m sure wondering when will I let go?  My prayer is for a balance of love and grace while encouraging others and pointing everything back to Him.

Psalm 119: 133-134 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. Redeem me from human oppression, that I may obey your precepts.

I know we are broken and live in a broken world. But when I let God direct my footsteps and not seek my own satisfaction or desires, sin can take a back seat.

I recently read,  Christianity is lived on an incline, and if you’re not moving forward, your slipping backward.  What meaningless things are causing you to slip? What is causing me to slip?

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for your wisdom given to us through your living word. I pray as we enter into a New Year we will use your wisdom to help us in knowing what is meaningless or an idol that causes us to slip down that slope further from you. We pray for the wisdom to continue to take steps closer to you as we continue our journey of faith.  Help us to plants seeds and be the hands and feet to others pointing everything back to you.  God, we need you every day and as we enter into 2020 help us to trust and obey in your will for us on this earth so we can one day spend eternity with you in Heaven.  We love you. Amen