- The people are really, really nice.
- The Google map is not nearly as big as real life.
- The weather changes. Really fast.
- The scenery is gorgeous. And clean.
- The Mall of America is huge.
- God is all over this place.
There are moments when you must step up and do the right thing for your family. While not getting into details, I have recently found myself embroiled in an ugly, sad situation in which I was actually concerned for the safety of some of my family members. I’ve had to give advice and support to those I love the most. Most of all, I’ve prayed for the Lord’s safety and direction for them. Yet I am confident that somehow, some way, God will get the glory and His name will be magnified.
But through this, it has brought to my mind a question that we should all ask ourselves when we are struggling through life’s difficult times: when the going gets tough, in what do you trust? Our culture and our own flesh tends to rely on the things that seem best and most convenient: the law, politics, emotions, even manipulation to somehow “win” people over and gain a “victory.” We see these sort of things often in the workplace, social media, or in everyday arguments. However, any so-called victory with these tactics and results are temporary and hollow. In fact, peace, true peace, is never found, only the absence of outer conflict for a season.
Therefore, to achieve real peace, we must be different. Our real trust is not to be on the what, but on the who. While the world will cling to their self-righteous, egocentric tactics based on nothingness, God’s people need to learn to trust Him first. Proverbs 16:20 says, “He who gives attention to the word will find good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.” In the same way, Proverbs 29:25 says, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” In other words, God is always sovereign and always good, and will always sustain you through your issue at hand as you always trust Him.
Will there be consequences to a situation, including suffering and damage? Sure, this is the broken world that we live in, yet this shouldn’t matter, since God is still with you. Besides, by allowing God to be preeminent in your thoughts, feelings, and practices, He will lead you the right way and the right direction and even in the right methods to work for His glory. And along with this too, He will be your Comforter even now in this time of need.
Lay it all before the Lord, trust in your sovereign God, and let Him lead: “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him” (Ps 34:8). Praying for God’s peace in your time of need.
P.S.- in case you missed it, you can find out how to follow Christ by clicking this link or by contacting me.
What I read: This week has been an exploration of various Psalms. In fact, tomorrow’s reading on Psalm 136 is what the message will be on for Sunday.
Scripture passage that popped out to me: Ps 130:3-4, “LORD, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive? 4 But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you.”
Reflections: these psalms are by various writers, many of which were sung by the people of Israel as they made their way towards Jerusalem. As you read these, you get a real feel for their humility and dependence on the Father prior to the celebration of each of the festivals. It’s even likely that Jesus and His family sang some of these psalms as they ascended to Jerusalem!
Read this word from Paul Tripp in his Wednesday Devotion:
Have you ever been in the middle of a difficult season and someone says to you, ‘Hang in there!’ Maybe you’ve said it to a friend just recently yourself. I think we mean well with phrases like this, and our aim is to encourage our friends or loved ones, but let’s be honest: ‘hang in there’ doesn’t actually do much to lift our spirits or strengthen our resolve. If I can be even more honest, sometimes I think we say ‘hang in there’ because we’re…
Source: Hang In There
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. Romans 8:5
Last night, I had a vivid, realistic dream, the type of dream that only comes on occasion. I dreamed that I was outside in a field preaching a message and that there was a crowd of thousands of people from many different people groups. As I spoke, I was also being shown on a large screen behind me, and I was sharing the gospel of Christ and how to live a life in the Spirit. One of my sons was also in the dream, and he was holding a camera as I walked around sharing the Word of God.
Suddenly, a man in the crowd asked me a question. He simply asked me how he too could serve God with his spiritual gifts. I responded, “First, you have to know Jesus, and then you have to find out how God has gifted you. Beyond that, find your passions and serve God in that way.” He nodded and seemed to understand, and I woke up.
I told my wife about the dream, and being the ever practical one, she asked me what I thought it meant. I told her that first, God is doing something amazing and will keep on doing it, and second, I just need to keep doing what He called me to do, to live for Him and serve Christ with the spiritual gifts that He has given me. Such a comforting, encouraging thought!
Without a doubt, all Christians are called to do the same. We are to live and serve our Lord as we walk in the Spirit. In fact, you cannot separate the two. If you are Christ’s, you will serve Him because of a love for Him- there is no such thing as an inactive Christian! This is because when your mind is set on godly things “in accordance with the Spirit,” then you will reflect it by loving others, living in peace, showing patience and kindness, being gentle, and having self-control (Gal 5:22-23). Simply put, if you live a life centered in the Spirit, you will do what He says.
Jesus said as much, when in Luke 6:46 He asked the question, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” and then proceeded to compare those who heard and then acted on His words to a house that was built on a solid foundation. As the Pharisees showed, talk is cheap, and a true ambassador for Christ is not just a person who “talks the talk,” but also “walks the walk.” We thus walk worthy of the calling (Eph 4:1), not by human power but by the power of the Spirit. This is a powerful testimony of a changed life in Christ!
Go. Walk worthy of the calling. Serve in the way that He has called you with the gifts that He has given you in the Spirit. Live for Christ, under the conviction of Christ. And as you walk in Him, and do what He says to love God and love others, you will indeed glorify Him now and for eternity.
From my lovely wife’s blog…
I have the privilege of sharing exciting news about a Kickstarter campaign by Oasis International to produce the first ever African Study Bible (ASB).
What makes the Bible different? The ASB was developed by Africans for Africans— written by African theologians, pastors and leaders from 50 countries in Africa. The ASB was designed to grow the faith of African church members, teach them to evangelize their communities, and apply a biblical worldview to their society. Dr. John Jusu, the supervising editor, proclaims, “The content of the ASB is bubbling up from the cultures of Africa. The biblical truth is percolating through our own cultures and stories to create a rich and textured tapestry that Africans can claim as their own.”
The goal of the Kickstarter campaign, which runs from April 18 to June 16, is to raise one million dollars to print the first 100,000 copies in an effort…
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Fasting is a discipline. It is a time to get serious about prayer and intimacy with the Lord, turning aside from the usual routines in order to seek God’s direction and power. When you fast from food, you are reminded that you are dependent on God’s daily provision, and even the growling of your stomach will serve as a reminder to stop for the moment and pray.
We see multiple examples of fasting and prayer in Scripture, so this is a biblical, spiritual work to draw you close to God. Our church, First Baptist Church of Mt Healthy, is having a church wide 48 hour fast for this very reason: to seek God’s vision, guidance, and provision as we grow in our love for Him and the community we are located.
That said, here’s some items to keep in mind as you fast:
- Fast Secretly. No one needs to know that you are fasting. Even though we are fasting church wide, there’s no way to know who is and who is not fasting. This is a discipline that’s between the Lod and you. Jesus said as much in Matt 6:18.
- Fast Regularly. Let this be a steady, ongoing discipline that you do on your own every so often. Make sure that it’s a regular practice, as long as it’s not relegated to a cold, ritualistic activity that loses focus (Luke 18:9-14).
- Fast Purposefully. So often, we do practices without really understanding the reason and the purpose for them. Be sure that when you fast and pray, that there is a purpose to this time of intimacy. In other words, don’t just do it because others are doing it. Make it a memorable, faith growing experience.
- Fast Wisely. not everyone can fast meals because of health reasons. If you are diabetic or have other health conditions, consider fasting something else. One good type of fast might be to have a time of no screens such as cell phones, TV, or computer. The point is to place God first and grow closer to Him, not to put your health in jeopardy.
- Fast Willingly. nothing that is done for the Lord should be forced upon an individual. For example, the discipline of giving to the Lord is something that has to be done willingly and not begrudgingly. Likewise, there’s no difference in the example of fasting and prayer. Don’t just do it because one of your leaders says you must do this, especially if you think this is what makes a “good Christian” and failing to do it makes you a “bad Christian.” Such thinking is actually unhealthy and contrary to the concept of grace.
- Fast Joyfully. When you fast, be joyful. There’s nothing worse than a person fasting and being grouchy about it- believe me, I know this from experience! As a guy who loves to eat, I get a little grouchy when I skip a meal. As a result, I have to really watch how I act, think, and speak to those closest to me. Kind of self defeating otherwise, right? Instead, follow Jesus’ commands in Matthew 6 and wash your face, showing joy instead of mourning.
There you have it. As you fast and pray, keep these things in mind. I’d love to hear other ideas and warnings. Any thoughts?
“Something is wrong with a philosophy that relegates God and His Word to a subordinate role in the church. It is clearly unbiblical to elevate entertainment over biblical preaching and worship in the church service. Sadly, some actually believe that their salesmanship can bring people into the kingdom more effectively than a sovereign God – a philosophy that has opened the door to worldliness in the church” (John MacArthur, from his book Ashamed of the Gospel).
If you are a pastor, teacher, or church leader, remember that for life change, the Word of God is more powerful than anything we can say or do.