Christianity 201

January 21, 2023

Problems, Pain and Heartache

This is our third time with Rolain Peterson in Zimbabwe and his blog called Kingspeech. Two of his recent blog posts were related, the first is presented below in full, the second was originally Christmas-themed, but there was some content related to the other article that we felt fit perfectly and we slightly edited it for year-round application. Better yet, click the blog’s link above or the titles linked below and read these where they first appeared.

Big Problems, Bigger God!

There will always be giants to fight, trials and difficult times that come our way but we must always remember that no matter how big the giants are, or how threatening the trials and problems seem, that God is bigger than ALL the problems we face.

In the midst of the problems you face remember that God is bigger.

There is NO problem that you are facing right now that is bigger than God.

And it’s especially important where you are focused. Make sure that you are not focused on the problem alone.

Focus on the Lord in the midst of what you are going through.

The enemy wants you to focus on the problems, and the giants that are in your way so much that they seem bigger and stronger than God. That’s what happened to Israel when they faced Goliath.

Goliath stood and shouted a taunt across to the Israelites. “Why are you all coming out to fight?” he called. “I am the Philistine champion, but you are only the servants of Saul. Choose one man to come down here and fight me! If he kills me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be our slaves! I defy the armies of Israel today! Send me a man who will fight me!” When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken.

1 Samuel 17:8-11 NLT

And this happened for 40 days and nights. (1 Samuel 17:16)

They were so focused on the GIANT problem in front of them that they forgot that God was bigger and much stronger than Goliath. But that was not the case with David. He knew God was bigger than Goliath. He was confident that God would destroy Goliath. (1 Samuel 17:34-37)

Friends, I want to encourage you to look to God in the midst of the difficult things you are going through today.

He is bigger than EVERY problem you will ever face.

No matter what you are going through call on Him.

You don’t need to go at it alone. You are not alone in the fire.

God is with you and He will deliver you!

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.”

Psalm 18:2 NLT

You Are Not Alone

(excerpt)

… The reality [is] that there are a lot of people facing depression, people who are contemplating suicide, people who are facing mental health issues and so many other negative things.

But there is an answer to all the pain and difficult things we go through… throughout the year.

“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

Isaiah 53:3 ASV

I love this scripture because it’s talking about JESUS. He was despised and rejected by men. He was acquainted with grief.

He was a man of sorrows! What a title.

If there is anyone who knows the pain you are going through it’s JESUS. He knows exactly what you are going through?

He knows the darkness you are in and the chains that are suffocating you.

He knows the hopelessness you are feeling at the moment and that is why you should call on Him immediately.

Whatever you are going through at the moment I want you to know that you are not alone. He is with you. He wants to help you and bring you out of the darkness. He wants to break the chains that are suffocating you right now.

Whatever pain and heartache you are going through remember that Jesus went through it. He was the man of sorrows.

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.”

Isaiah 53:4 ASV

Give Him your grief. He will carry your sorrow.

So cry out to Him for help. He loves you and wants to be there for you.

He knows your every pain that you are going through right now.

There is hope for you… And His name is JESUS!

January 3, 2023

Staying on Track: A Verse for the Year

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:31 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

NLT.Ps.119.162 I rejoice in your word
    like one who discovers a great treasure.
163 I hate and abhor all falsehood,
    but I love your instructions.

CSB.Ps.40.8 I delight to do your will, my God, and your instruction is deep within me.”

NASB.Ps.32.8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.

We regularly draw material from the devotional website of The Presbyterian Church in Canada, which features a different writer each day, and although it’s only been six months, we’re back again. The writer today is Lynne Phipps. Clicking the header which follows also gets you an audio version of today’s thoughts.

The Goal

Psalm 34:8Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. (NIV)

When I was pastoring, at the end of the old year, God always gave me a Bible verse — or a thought that lined up with Scripture — that I could use to base my preaching on for the coming year. I would write out the verse or thought and then my goal would be to see if each Sunday’s message lined up with the year’s focus, according to what God had placed upon my mind and in my heart.

Since leaving the pastorate, I have discovered that every year, as the old one comes to an end, God still gives me a verse or thought for the new year. I always write it out and tape it to a windowsill in my kitchen where I have my baking and work station. This way, not a day goes by that I do not see and read it multiple times. Throughout the year, I am always amazed at how those words are exactly what I need to keep me on track with God’s will and ways as I struggle with issues, have decisions that I need to make, or am in need of encouragement.

The thought for 2022 came from a book that I was reading. As soon as I read those words, I knew immediately that they were to be my focus for this past year: Trust and know that the Lord is good.

Googling these words, the Scripture closest to them was today’s verse, where instead of “trust”, the word “taste” is found. To taste something if we have never tasted it before is always a bit of a risk. We may or may not like it. But the only way to find out is to take that risk. We usually do so, based on the experience of others whom we trust, who have already tasted and found it good.

Tasting and trusting God are similar. They involve risk. But the more that we choose to trust God by remembering previous experiences of trusting Him or by seeing the evidence of it in the lives of other Christians, the more that we are able to taste and know His goodness and His love, His presence and His wisdom, and all the other wondrous things that make Him Who He is. Tasting and trusting go together. The more that we trust God, the more that we partake of Him. The more that we partake of Him through Scripture, prayer, fellowship, and embracing the beauty of His revelation through nature, the more that we trust Him.

Once again, I plan to choose a verse for the coming year. How about you? As this new year unfolds, though I do not know what it shall bring, I do know that as I choose to trust God, the more that I will know Him, which is a goal that I believe is truly worth pursuing.

Prayer: Father, thank You that the more that we step out in faith to trust You, the more that we are able to taste or experience how awesome that You really are. Help us each to taste and know that You are good in each and every circumstance of our lives, that our trust in Your faithfulness may abound, no matter what may come our way. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.


NIV.Jeremiah.17.7-8 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

January 2, 2023

When it Feels Like God Has Left the Building

This is our fifth time at Before the Cross, but this time around we’re highlighting a different writer, Daniel Barber. You’re encouraged to visit the page where you’ll find teaching videos and articles. Click the title which follows to read this where it first appeared.

Feeling Forsaken

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1a)

It’s a question we as Christians find ourselves asking throughout our lives as we encounter various trials. God feels light-years away from us as yet another year passes of our weighty prayers going unanswered. We pray diligently, believing that at any moment of any day God will finally answer our requests beyond our wildest dreams. We’ll get that cool job with all the benefits, flexible schedules, and laid back bosses we’ve always wanted. The spouse, whose physical characteristics, personality and theology match everything we wrote out on our lists to a tee, will find us and fall madly in love with us overnight. The doctor will tell us every trace of our cancer has completely vanished. But, these things don’t happen. So we wait. We pray, read our bibles, regularly attend church and bible studies, and we wait.

During this period of waiting, we see others receive the very things we’ve been diligently praying for. People we deem as “less deserving” of God’s miraculous grace. Three months after accepting Jesus Christ as their savior, the newest member of our church is engaged, promoted at their job, and singing on the worship team. We know we should be happy for them, but something is holding us back. We think to ourselves “I’ve been in church seeking the Lord for years, doing my best to honor God in all that I do, and the biggest prayers of my life have gone unanswered. Meanwhile, this person comes in off the street and receives everything I’ve ever wanted. How is that fair?”

Bitterness begins to take root in our hearts. The growth is slow at first, but over time we begin to lose faith. God can’t truly love us. He must have something against us. Why else would he cruelly parade others amazing lives in front of our faces, while we face nothing but hardships and deafening silence?

“Oh my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, I find no rest.” (Psalm 22:2)

But then, we begin to see God’s provision. A friend offers to pay for our lunch, not realizing our bank account is down to double digits. We find a new place to live and get the help we need moving, all on a week’s notice. A tornado lands less than a mile away from our workplace and we don’t even realize it until the next day. God is providing for our needs and protecting us from harm. He must love us.

“Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.” (Psalm 22: 3-5)

“God, I know you answer prayers”, we say while down on our knees, “So why have you not answered THIS prayer? The most important prayer of my life?” While some may blame our unanswered prayers on a lack of faith, we know that’s not it. According to Matthew 17:20, all we need is “faith as small as a mustard seed” to move mountains, not because of any inherent power tied to the size of our faith, but because of the omnipotent power and infinite size of our God. Even the most infinitesimal amount of faith is all that God requires to work wonders in our lives. Psalm 135:6 says “Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps”, so we know that no matter how much we may want something, if God doesn’t want it, or the timeline in which we want it doesn’t match His, He won’t do it.

This is a particularly hard concept to grasp when what we desire is a good thing. Doesn’t God want us to have spouses with whom we can better serve Him, good jobs in which to provide more for our families and pay better tithes, or an end to our various forms of physical suffering? While we may think we know what God should do and when he should do it, which is usually whenever we want it done, Proverbs 19:21 tells us that “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand”, and no purpose of God’s can be thwarted (Job 42:2).

Sometimes we may receive the good thing we want when we want it because it lines up with God’s timing, but sometimes we may not. We must come to terms with the fact that God’s ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9). Who are we to question the one who has commanded the morning since our day began (Job 38:12) or make demands of one who can “send forth lightnings” (Job 38:35)? As highly as we may think of ourselves when the sin of arrogance gets the better of us, we cannot honestly claim to have these abilities or any other of the imaginable and unimaginable abilities of God. Because we are so completely powerless by comparison, why don’t we leave our desires in the mighty hands of the one who is the source of all power?

So yes, we should pray without ceasing about every need and want in our life, but we should not be anxious about any of them. Through this prayer and supplication, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,” will guard our hearts and minds in Jesus (Phillippians 4:7).

When we find ourselves yet again asking God why he has forsaken us, let’s remember He has not and will not ever do so. Jesus is the “friend that sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24) who has numbered the hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7). We may be stuck in the pain of the here and now, but God can see our future, and knows that “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Instead of fretting over whatever it is we think we lack, let’s “we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Even when our prayers go unanswered and we begin to doubt God’s love for us, we can rest in the fact our feelings aren’t truth. God’s Word is truth.

November 21, 2022

The Next Move of God

A popular worship song from a few years ago, performed by both Elevation Worship and Bethel Worship is titled “Do it Again.”

I’ve seen You move, You move the mountains
And I believe, I’ll see You do it again
You made a way, where there was no way
And I believe, I’ll see You do it again.

Excerpted phrases from the lyrics include:

  • You have never failed me yet
  • Your promise still stands
  • Great is Your faithfulness
  • I know the night won’t last

It’s a confidence-inspiring song, trusting God to act as he has in times past. While everyone else is singing it, I am joining in as well, believing that God is fully able to move as he has in times past, and knowing that there are people standing nearby who long for God to move as he has before, either in a general sense of revival or restoration, or concerning a current need they are facing that day.

But life involves the valleys as well as the mountains.

What do you do if the Passover has already passed over, the Red Sea has already parted, and the son has already stood still? Habakkuk no doubt felt like he’d missed Israel’s “glory days.”

Habakkuk 3:2(NIV) LORD, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD.
Repeat them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.

We do the same thing. It’s easy to wish that we could see the miracles. Maybe you missed the “third wave” of the charismatic movement in the 1970s; or missed the ocean baptisms of the Jesus movement, also in the ’70s. Maybe you missed the moment at a Christian music festival; or couldn’t attend a particular year of Promise Keepers. Perhaps you weren’t there when that church doubled its attendance in six months; or when that individual was dramatically healed, or another delivered from a particular addiction.

Or maybe you were there, but have a sense of that was then and this is now. You — quite correctly in one sense — don’t want to be coasting spiritually on that event that happened all those years ago, but desire to see God move as he did then.

Or maybe you didn’t miss or aren’t missing a thing, but feel like nothing compares to Old Testament signs and wonders or first century miracles. Like Habakkuk you say:

Habakkuk 3:2(NIV) LORD, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD.
Repeat them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.

But always remember how he ends this particular chapter. Even if life appears to be the opposite of all that you’d like to see, even if, as the Brits say, it’s all gone pear shaped; our faith is not shaken. It doesn’t negate the prayer of verse 2, but in 17-19 the prophet puts things in a larger perspective:

Habakkuk 3:17-19a (NLT) Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
The Sovereign Lord is my strength!

It’s also important to remember that God doesn’t always move the same way twice. Compare the two healings of two blind men; one involves Jesus simply speaking, the other involves a messy, muddy paste. One is a single-step process while the other is a two-step healing.

Asking God to “Do it again” may mean that God answers your prayer but in a wholly different manner.

Isaiah 43:18 (NLT) “But forget all that—
it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
19 For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.


November 2, 2022

Letting God Do the Driving

One year ago we introduced you to the blog called Basic Bible Thoughts where the writer is simply credited as S. Joiner. This time around we’re back with an older post, written nearly two years ago, but one which we selected after reading several other worthy articles. (There’s a really good series from Spring ’21 on the subject of faith, for example.) Click the title below to read this one when and where it first appeared.

I Am A Passenger

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I have recently had knee replacement surgery. With that process comes the fact that I cannot drive during my recovery, I have become a passenger. Being the passenger has removed an aspect of the journey that I enjoyed more than I knew. The control that comes with being behind the wheel of my journey; hands on the steering wheel, foot on the gas and ready to stop when I decide. But being the passenger forces me to live under the control of the driver.

Galatians 1: 14                                  ESV

And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.

The Apostle Paul reflecting back on the time when he drove his own life as Saul of Tarsus. This passage is just one example of how that man was in control, we would call him driven. Judaism was his way of life but also it was his career and he excelled at it. He was a rising star inside the ranks of Judaism.

I also, relying on my own strength, worked my way up my career, personal, and spiritual ladder. I pushed hard and showed my worth and abilities to all who could assist me in the climb. I quickly learned that the ability to increase the value of those above me drove my ascent even faster.

Philippians 3: 4b-6                            ESV

If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 

I have mentioned in past Blogs that I grew up in church. If there was a job to fill, I was the one to fill it. I taught classes from children to adults and often on the same Sunday. I filled seats on leadership boards, I started ministries from the ground up, and my last name brought extra attention inside the church we served in, it was a family achievement.

What did all that hard work and respect get me? Church became more of a job than it was a place of worship. I walked the halls with my head up high. One day it all became increasingly clear – I was all about what I was doing to assist God and not what He was accomplishing through me. It broke me and I cried for days just thinking about how I had twisted the very purpose that God had designed me for.

Acts 9: 3-5                            ESV

Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 

Riding on his horse and directing his team on their journey to destroy those troublesome Jesus followers. A light bulb moment happens, and it completely knocked Paul off his horse. Laying on the ground and unable to see, he hears a voice. He hears what others are unable to see, the voice of Jesus.

Acts 9: 13-15                       ESV

But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel

Ananias was a follower of Jesus; Paul was coming to make him renounce his faith in Jesus or die. Instead of driving his own journey, Ananias became an instrument of God’s mercy toward Paul. Yes, Ananias did raise a concern but once God said go, the instrument sounded clearly as Ananias went. Before Paul’s encounter with God’s life changing light, his name was Saul (meaning ask or question). God changed his name to Paul (meaning small or humble).

I have never known an instrument to make a noise by itself. Someone must properly work and create the noise with the instrument. I learned quickly that I was not making God look better by the work I was doing; He was using me to play music that leads others to Him.

This blog came into being this week not because I am creative but, because I wrote something that resounded through my soul. A friend posted at Thanksgiving with an eye over this past year, realizing that her biggest blessing in 2020 was being forced to slow down and focused on Jesus. Then God placed this note in my heart, “The best place to be is understanding that God is directing your life and you find yourself in the passenger seat.”

October 24, 2022

Prayer: Erring on the Side of Audacious Expectations

John 14 : 14 (NIV)  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

John 16 : 23 (NIV) In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

John 16: 24 (NIV) Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

John 16: 23-24 (The Message) “This is what I want you to do: Ask the Father for whatever is in keeping with the things I’ve revealed to you. Ask in my name, according to my will, and he’ll most certainly give it to you. Your joy will be a river overflowing its banks!

It can be hard to find the balance. On the continuum between, at one end, half-hearted prayer that is more doubt than faith, and the other end, believing that as your day began God was like a genie ready to grant you your daily three wishes.

We are commanded to go to God with our needs — our prayer petitions — and leave them before him. But what are our expectations of what happens next?

There are many people who believe that God’s intervention in the affairs of humankind are an extreme rarity, if he intervenes at all. The world is simply what it is, and that is the answer to the question, “If God… why all the suffering in the world?” We live in a fallen world where there is bound to pain and sorrow; flood, fire and famine; doom, defeat and despair. (That wasn’t a cheery sentence; but it was rather alliterative.)

There are other people who believe that God certainly hears our prayer requests and that this is the end in itself: That God wants to be in communication (or fellowship) with us. This is the idea that just as a father behaves towards his children, God wants us to tell us when and where it hurts. He wants each situation to bring us back to him. He wants us to come to him when we are ‘burdened and heavy-laden.’ But it’s about keeping the channel of communication open, ‘without ceasing.’

Still others believe that while God’s intervention is rarity, miracles do exist; they just don’t happen every day. We’re talking about genuine miracles here, not things contrived for the glare of the television lights or the crowd in the arena. So God is indeed a miracle working God, it’s not (as with the first group) a complete rarity, but just don’t get your hopes up.

Further up the ‘hope’ ladder are those who would say, ‘God is positively disposed and favorably inclined to give us what we ask.’ Why this doesn’t happen may be related to the complexities of other situations we can’t see, or a lesson that we need to learn before the answer comes. But absent those factors, God’s default position would be to give us what we come to him asking. I wrote about that this time last year:

A former pastor of ours used the phrase, “God is positively disposed and favorably inclined” to hear and answer our prayers. Many are praying right now for the world to be set right (or as N.T. Wright phrases it, “set to rights.”) It might appear that God is not answering. I believe that’s why we’re told to be tenacious about our praying. Keep on asking. Keep on seeking. Keep on knocking. (Matthew 7:7 even spells out the acronym ASK!) But it doesn’t say that if we ask enough times we’ll get a ‘yes.’  Even as many are praying, we would appear to be living in what a songwriter called, “the mystery of unanswered prayer.”

And there are those who believe that God is constantly orchestrating more details in the lives of his people than anything we can possibly imagine; that there are constantly situations where God is even giving us ‘answers to requests we haven’t made;’ or that life consists of many seen and unseen coincidences, defined as, “Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.”  This view ranges — depending on the person — from the dramatic holding on to the hope of healing even when doctors say the situation is incurable; to the trivial belief of some that God is truly willing to intervene in life on Planet Earth so that you will get a parking space next to the big box store entrance.

…Parking spaces notwithstanding, I fall into the latter camp. I have to pray believing that my prayer is not only keeping the lines of communication open, not only making a difference in me, but making a difference also in the situation. Regardless of statistical odds or past prayer performance, I have to go to him with an ultimate faith that he is willing and able to execute deliverance from whatever situation is pressing in. This is the faith of children; what it means to ‘come as a child,’ and it’s a faith that is not double-minded, but believes without doubt (See James 1:8 and 1:6 and Mark 11:23) and without wrong motivation (see James 4:3).

(Deliverance might be a better way of defining the situation. If you are praying for money for a specific need you are praying for a deliverance from poverty with respect to that financial issue!)

…The greatest danger I see is in not asking at all. Not coming to God to bear our souls and cry out for help or mercy because the petitions we brought before him last month were not answered in the affirmative. I believe God will respect our tenacity in prayer; our willingness to go to him even in the absence (so far) of the answers we sought before.

He longs to see faith that is lived out in a concrete assurance of things not apparent (Hebrews 11:1).

Right now, we hear a lot about deconstruction or to say it slightly different, people deconstructing their faith. I think some of this has to do with is termed “the mystery of unanswered prayer.” (We wrote about that here in this 2020 devotional.)

Some of this may have to do with the ‘big one’ that God didn’t answer. Maybe the request was indeed to audacious, or our motives were wrong, or God clearly had another plan and granting the request would have been to our peril.

But I also think we need to consider what our general expectations are when we pray. Where do we fit in with respect to the above five categories of what we think God can do, is doing, or will do?

October 22, 2022

Abraham Had No Idea Where He Was Going

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:34 pm
Tags: , , ,

Today’s highlighted writer was referred to us from another blog. Brandon Bentley writes at The Beacon Post and is currently working his way chapter-by-chapter through the book of Romans. Clicking the title/header below will take you there.

Romans 4

“For the Scriptures tell us, ‘Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.’” – Romans 4:3

“But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.” – Romans 4:5

“Circumcision was a sign that Abraham already had faith and that God had already accepted him and declared him to be righteous – even before he was circumcised. So Abraham is the spiritual father of those who have faith but have not been circumcised. They are counted as righteous because of their faith.” – Romans 4:11

Faith. It is the foundation of everything in Christ. It is the path of righteousness. The life of Abraham, as Paul lays out for us in this chapter, depicts the perfect example of faith leading to righteousness, which leads to obedience to the Lord. Abraham’s faith in God was so strong and so deep that, even when it may not have made sense, he trusted God enough to do what He said. This is true faith that leads to righteousness. The kind of faith that says, “God, I know You and I know Your promises. I don’t know how we are going to get from here to there, but I know that You are faithful to do what You have said You would do. And because of that, I will do what You say because I have faith in You and Your power.”

Our faith in God, our pursuit for God, is not always going to make sense. Think about it. Abraham was living the life with his family. All of the sudden, the Living God, whom Abraham had never met prior to this, comes in and says, “Hey, I want to do something amazing and prove My sovereignty to the world. And I want you to be the guy through whom I accomplish My plans. I’ve got this land that I want to show you. In fact, I am going to give this land to you and your descendants to inhabit for all of time. What do you say?”

Ok first off, you can never tell me that faith isn’t blind. Abraham had no idea where he was going. He just knew that he had been chosen by God Himself to do something amazing! So, not knowing where he was going (and really not yet knowing Who he was following), he left everything behind him. If you are afraid to follow what God is telling you to do because you don’t know what’s going to happen, then you are relying on your own way of thinking and you don’t actually have faith in God like you say you do.

Second, Abraham’s faith was being shown to us from the very beginning when God called him out. God, give us the faith of Abraham! Gives us the eyes to recognize that You are faithful even when we can’t see what’s going to happen.

Now hear me in this, Abraham had some mess-up moments. Yet he was still counted as righteous before God. Why? Because even with those moments of messing up, his faith in God never wavered. And because of his unwavering faith in the Lord, he recognized his mess ups and he repented of them, ensuring that he remained in faith with God. THIS is what righteousness is! Abraham didn’t make excuses for his faults. He didn’t remain in his mistakes. He recognized them for what they were, acknowledged his responsibility in the situation, and returned back to walking in step with the Lord rather than doing things his own way.

And this is where we find ourselves in the American Church. We have turned to doing things our own way rather than doing them God’s way. We have decided that we know better than God. Well, look where that has gotten us. We have plenty of buildings that are decorated with radiant, earthly things. Yet they are void of the Lord’s presence.

We have these “experiences” that happen on a weekly basis where people gather to hear their favorite worship leader or pastor, yet these are all void of the glory and power of God.

Yet, we have the audacity to pray for revival and think that God is actually going to give it to us when we are focused on and caught up in all of the wrong things?

Revival will come. But it is not going to go to the ones who want to remain where they are. No, God is going to pour, and in fact He already is pouring, out His Spirit and glory of revival on those who are willing to step out in the faith like that of Abraham and say, “God, I don’t know where you are taking me, I just know You said to come. I don’t know what any of this is going to look like, I just know You told me to follow. I don’t care if anyone else comes with me, I just know that I need You and only You.”

October 16, 2022

Achievement by the Right Metrics

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Last year at this time we introduced you to Rev. Taylor Mertins  who writes at Think and Let Think, has co-authored three books, and hosts the Crackers and Grape Juice Podcast, and the Strangely Warmed Lectionary Podcast. Click the title below to read this where it first appeared.

When Is Enough, Enough?

1 Timothy 6.6-9

Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and fearful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 

A recent study noted that at least 80% of Americans experience daily stress regarding the economy and their personal finances. More than 50% are worried about being able to provide for their families basic needs. 56% are fearful about job security. And 52% report lying awake at night thinking about one thing and one thing only: $$$

Admittedly, those statistics probably aren’t that shocking considering how much of our daily lives revolve around our wallets. With the ubiquity of online banking we can figure out exactly how much, or how little, we have at any given moment.

And yet, the “we have” in that sentence betrays the basic Christian conviction that our money doesn’t belong to us: it belongs to God.

A professor of mine once opined about how different the church would be if, when individuals took vows of membership, they read their tax return aloud from the year before. Can you imagine the fervor that would follow if the church announced personal financial disclosures as new membership requirements? And yet, to do so would be faithful!

Jesus talks about money/possessions, and the use of them for others, almost more than any other single subject in the New Testament, and yet (outside a stewardship campaign) we rarely talk about them in church.

Instead, wealth is something so privatized that we can scarcely imagine what it would mean to share it with others, let alone the church. We hoard it, like the man with his store houses in one of Jesus’ parables. Or, we spend it with such reckless abandon that we go into a debt we have no hope of ever repaying.

A relevant question for anyone, particularly those who are part of a faith community, is: when is enough, enough?

The gifted preacher Fred Craddock tells the story of a time when he and his wife had a guest in their home who was spending the night. As Craddock read from the newspaper in the corner of the room, consumed by the movement of the Market, the guest was rolling around on the floor with Craddock’s kids teaching them a new game. And Craddock thought to himself, “How long has it been since I came home from work, got down on the floor, and had fun with my kids?”

Later, after dinner, the guest declared, “That’s just about one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time.” And Craddock thought to himself, “When was the last time I thanked my wife for our dinner?”

Craddock was merely going through the familiar patterns of life, keeping up with the rat race of all things: coming home from work, reading the paper, eating dinner. And then, through the guest, everything started to look different. Craddock said to himself, “Where in the world have I been?”

God has richly blessed each and every single one of us in a variety of ways. From the air we breathe, to the food we eat, to the friends we love.

Sometimes it takes a guest in our home, or a particularly striking passage from scripture, for us to finally ask ourselves the same question, “Where in the world have I been?” Which is just another version of, “When is enough, enough?”


From last year: A Roman Catholic writer on material possessions.

 

October 7, 2022

You Don’t Need to ‘Get More Faith,’ You Need to Trust God

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:32 pm
Tags: , , ,

A year we shared briefly some content from the website Great Bible Study. Today we decided to present a full devotional highlighting their ministry. Their articles are smaller than we usually run, but they are indexed by theme, and in selecting the two we have today, I noticed that they both ended with the same scripture verse, somewhat confirming our choice. Click each of the titles below to read these individually where they first appeared.

Exposing False Faith

Many times, people are trying to ‘get more faith’, thinking that if they just believe they will be healed, then it will happen. I have news for you, that is new age faith, NOT Christian faith!

Did you know that Christian faith is merely knowing the promises of God, the provisions of the work of Christ on the cross, and the Word of God, and then accepting and believing those provisions? Let me put it another way, Christian faith is merely knowing the will of God (which is found in His Word), and believing it. Fear comes when (a) we don’t know the will of God or (b) when we don’t really believe that it is true. This is why the Bible tells us that faith comes by hearing the Word:

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Romans 10:17

If Jesus said that your healing was paid for on the cross, do you really believe that? Jesus asked Peter, “Why did you doubt me?” Why do you think He did that? Because Peter questioned the integrity of Jesus’ command to “Come!”

And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

Matthew 14:28-31

In other words, Jesus was saying, “Peter, didn’t you believe me?” This is why it is so important to know what God is saying to us (get in His Word!), and believe it. Fear questions, casts doubt upon, and calls God’s Word a liar! The Bible even tells us that without faith, it is impossible to please Him:

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Hebrews 11:6

The key is to get yourself to the point where you know the Word of God, then simply believe what He says… THEN you will have real genuine faith… anything else is just false faith.

Do You Trust God?

So many of us would like to think that we trust God, but how many of us really do when we face trying situations in our lives? I was talking with a friend of mine recently who was tempted to take revenge into his own hands against somebody who has done him much wrong. I told him to give place to wrath and let God repay them for what they’ve done. As the Bible tells us, we are to give place to wrath:

Romans 12:19, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

Do you know that even when we become bitter and allow ourselves to brew over what somebody has done to us… that we are not trusting God to judge rightly in the matter on our behalf?

There are countless everyday experiences just like this that reflect the trust that we have in God. The fact is… if God’s Word gives us an assurance and we continue to ponder the matter… we don’t really believe God in that area of our life!

James 2:23, “And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.”

It is time that we take God and His Word seriously and BELIEVE what He’s telling us! This sounds like a simple matter, and it is… but this one truth will separate a mature God-fearing and God-trusting believer from the rest of the church today. God is relying on you to believe what He tells you… for without faith it is impossible to please Him:

Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

 

September 27, 2022

You Will Get Through It

“No weapon that is formed against you will succeed; And you will condemn every tongue that accuses you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me,” declares the LORD. – Isaiah 54:17 NASB

I loved the devotion we’re presenting you today from the very first sentence. We’re introducing another writer here for the first time. Shubricca L Bell (or just Bricca) was a Chef du Cuisne, managed two restaurants, changed careers and became a voice-over artist, has written four books, and hosts a podcast. Clicking the title which follows below will take you to where this appeared earlier today on her blog.

God will give you the strength to endure it, and the grace to come out of it

Oh, the weapons WILL form, but they WILL NOT prosper…

You know what I love. I love when when things that were supposed to take us out, actually makes us better. There’s no doubt that going through the unfortunates of life is wearisome, and we don’t understand it when we are going through, but if we could look through our spiritual lenses, we will see that it’s a set up for something GREATER!

Greater is coming…

You see, what was sent to take you out, God used it as ammunition to make you better. The Word of God says in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

God will give you the STRENGTH to not only ENDURE the pain/test/trial, but He will give you the GRACE to COME OUT of it!

That’s right, you may be stuck between a rock and a hard place, but you’re coming out. On the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand!

The Word of God says in Psalm 118:22, “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.” This scripture is referring to Jesus, but guess what? You are in Christ Jesus, so I’m talking to you!

You may be overlooked, rejected, talked about, done wrong, betrayed, laughed at, mocked, spit on, abused, misused, misled, manipulated, kicked when you were down, frowned upon, shunned, I could go on and on… BUT GOD!

This is a reminder that YOU WILL, get through it! God didn’t promise us an easy life. Jesus didn’t have it easy, so what makes you think we will.

It’s all about our focus. Stay true to what God has called you to do in THIS SEASON. It may not make sense, but be obedient. Walk by faith, not by sight and not in fear.

You may feel like giving up, but God is saying keep going. You may not know where the heck you’re going, but keep going. You may not think you have the strength, but keep going. You may get sick, but keep going. You may be alone, but keep going. You may not know how you’re going to do it, when it’s going to happen, where it’s going to happen, what is going to happen, but you can be certain of who it’s going to happen to- you, and why it’s going to happen- God!

The favor of God is on your life! You shall live and NOT die! You will see the goodness of the Lord IN the land of the LIVING.

Your dreams will not die with you, but they will manifest through you, in THIS LIFE!

So, when you can’t do anything else, keep going. God will give you strength for the journey.

September 17, 2022

Anger: It’s What You Do With It

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Two years ago we introduced you to last year, Wattsup with Kids (tag line: Kids, Coffee and Christ Every Day) written by Tracy Watts. Looking at her writing again, it’s clear she holds scripture in high regard, and while this topic may not land perfectly with your situation today, make note of the value placed on God’s word to establish each of the teaching points. Click the title below to read this recent article at her site.

Anger

Mr. Rogers poses an excellent question in his song “What do you do with the mad that you feel?”

This was of course, a question aimed at children, but I think it is something adults struggle with too. Perhaps we explode verbally or physically. Perhaps we take it out on those around, snapping short temperedly. Perhaps, we hold tightly to it and it festers inside our hearts, turning to bitterness and resentment.

None of these are good options. What then, can we learn from God’s word about anger?

Anger itself is not wrong

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger ~ Ephesians 4:26

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. ~ Mark 3:1-6

Even Jesus got angry (though it is helpful to note the things that make Jesus angry – and perhaps the less eternally important things that irk us!)

Either we control our anger or our anger controls us

A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. ~ Proverbs 29:11

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. ~ Proverbs 16:32

Man’s anger does not produce good things

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. ~ Psalm 37:8

For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. ~ James 1:20

So… as Mr. Rogers so poignantly asks, what do we do with the mad that we feel?

We can place it in God’s hands

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” ~ Romans 12:19

We can pause before speaking in anger

Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah ~ Psalm 4:4

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. ~ Proverbs 15:1

We can replace the anger with something good

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. ~ Galatians 5:19-21

We can exercise self control

A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. ~ Proverbs 29:11

It’s comforting to me that the wise man does feel strongly, he does have a passionate spirit and does feel emotions. He just does not allow “full vent” to them. He does not explode in verbal vomit. He does not erupt with his emotions and spatter them across the unfortunate people nearby.

Instead, he “quietly holds it back.” What does that look like? A person who has learned the beautiful art of self-control. It’s not that he somehow magically got rid of ever feeling anger or frustration. It’s that he has learned to respond instead of merely reacting. He grapples inwardly to not explode outwardly.

Of course, this is a process, a learning of how to channel our anger (and our other emotions) and ultimately to be more like Him.

And indeed, we can agree with Solomon’s wisdom:

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. ~ Proverbs 16:32

May we each learn to control our spirits better, with the help of Him who made us.


Second Helping

Two other recent articles from Tracy:

August 24, 2022

Self-Control: The Elusive Character Trait

Today we have another new writer to introduce.  Drew Koch was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, and created the blog-site Truth & Discernment to share enlightenment and encouragement while engaging with people about God’s Word. Remember, clicking article titles like the one below not only lets you read things here where we located them, but you bless the authors with some internet traffic!

A Rare, But Essential Quality

How rare it is today to see self-control on display. It is a discipline that very few ever capture, and more and more it seems as though it’s not even a trait that people aspire to pursue.

However, for those of us who truly yearn to live a life of holiness, self-control is essential. In 1 Peter 1:14, the apostle tells us that we must live as God’s obedient children. We’re commanded not to “slip back into our old ways of living just to satisfy our own desires.” Peter then says, “You didn’t know any better then.”

But Peter then tells us in the next two verses what we must do now that we’re in Christ. “But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16)

To further drive home the importance of the characteristic of self-control, Paul gives us contrasting ways to live in the letter to the Galatians. One way leads to a life of righteousness and the other ends in spiritual darkness.

Several qualities (idolatry, jealousy, drunkenness, envy, lustful pleasures, etc.) are attributed to following the desires of our sinful nature. Other traits (love, joy, patience, kindness, and self-control) are called the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Paul then closes Chapter 5 of Galatians with these beautiful words, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” (Galatians 5:24-25)

What phenomenal counsel from Paul. Rather than permitting your sinful nature to take hold of you, allow the Holy Spirit to guide you toward a life of self-control.


Big decision need big prayers. Here’s a bonus devotional for you from Andrew. Click the title below to read this at Truth & Discernment.

What is God Moving You to Do?

My wife and I recently moved. Not just to a new neighborhood or even a new town, but an entirely different state. While my wife has moved more times than she’d care to count, I’m now over 400 miles removed from everything I’ve ever known.

Now, this wasn’t some haphazard, thoughtless decision. I’ve never been that adventurous. No, this was a calculated, well-thought out plan that both my wife and I put in place some time ago.

But one thing that we did prior to making this change was pray together. I’m not talking about a simple, one-time occasion. This was an intentional act that both she and I participated in on a nightly basis.

We both decided that such a big decision required God’s leading. Were it not for us leaning hard into our faith, I’m not sure I’d be sitting in a small-town coffee shop right now, reminiscing on what brought us here.

There are countless examples throughout Scripture of Jesus rewarding the faith of those He met or admonishing his disciples to have faith. One example that comes to mind is in Matthew’s gospel. After his disciples were unable to heal a demon-possessed boy, his father begged Jesus to cast out the evil spirit.

Jesus scolded the crowd for their unbelief and then counseled the apostles who privately asked Jesus why they were unable to cast out the demon saying, “…Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”  (Matthew 17:20-21 NIV)

How often we want to do everything on our own, am I right? We are so proud and we want so badly to take the credit. But what I’ve found is that when we are able to humble ourselves before the mighty hand of God, having faith that He knows what we need, we are then able to experience the fullness of His love.

I know I haven’t yet reached the point when I’ve given up all control to Him. No matter how much I may want to, that old nature continues to creep back in. But when I am prayerful and able to put my faith in Him, only then am I able to experience the true joy of everything God offers.

August 2, 2022

The Love of Our Guide, Protector and Provider

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Today we’re back again with Devotions by Chris by Chris Hendrix and two shorter devotionals which he presented in the opposite order to the one which I decided we’re going to read them today. Click each of the title headers below to read these where they first appeared.

A Foundation Of Love

I was at a celebration of my aunt and uncle when a lady walked up to me. She said, “You don’t know me, but I know you. I grew up in your grandfather’s church.” She shared some stories with me about him, and then she said, “He gave that church a foundation of love.” That phrase resonated with me for many reasons. I couldn’t help but think of how you and I are the Church. It’s important that we build our faith and our lives on a foundation of God’s love. If we don’t do that, our lives can become full of meaningless rituals or a cold relationship with God. When that happens we must return to our first love.

In Luke 7:36-47, Jesus was dining at a Pharisee’s house. A lady who was a prostitute came in, bowed at Jesus’ feet, cried tears on His feet, then dried them with her hair and poured perfume on them. The Pharisee was stunned that Jesus allowed this to happen. Jesus told him a parable of two men who owed a debt to someone. One owed a little and the other a lot. The creditor forgave them both. Jesus then asked the Pharisee which person loved the creditor more. He replied that the one who was forgiven more. Jesus agreed. He then looked down at the lady and told the Pharisee that her many sins had been forgiven and this was a display of her love.

In Ephesians 3:19 Paul concluded a prayer by saying,

And [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself]” (AMP).

You and I can’t just have a head knowledge of God. We must experience His love and forgiveness in our lives. When we do that, we will experience God’s presence and be filled with it. When we have the foundation of His love in our lives, we can make a greater impact on the people around us.

Being Shepherded

One of the things we lose context for in a modern society is the idea of being shepherded. We use the word sheep as a means to put someone down, yet the Bible constantly refers to us as sheep and God as the shepherd. There is great trust between the shepherd and the sheep. He makes sure the sheep are cared for, fed and protected. When one runs off, the shepherd goes after it. There is a unique relationship there that is incredible. It’s the same relationship God longs to have with us. He wants to watch over you, protect you and make sure you’re well fed, but you must submit to His shepherding in order to receive the benefits the Shepherd offers.

Here are some Bible verses on God as your shepherd.

1. There once was a shepherd with a hundred lambs, but one of his lambs wandered away and was lost. So the shepherd left the ninety-nine lambs out in the open field and searched in the wilderness for that one lost lamb. He didn’t stop until he finally found it. With exuberant joy, he raised it up, placed it on his shoulders, and carried it back with cheerful delight!

Luke 15:4-5 TPT

2. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep [the protector and provider].

John 10:2 AMP

3. I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me,

John 10:14 NLT

4. The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide and to shield me], I shall not want.

Psalms 23:1 AMP

5. You were like sheep that had lost their way, but now you have been brought back to follow the Shepherd and Keeper of your souls.

1 Peter 2:25 GNT

July 29, 2022

Trusting Despite All Odds

We tend to think of Psalms as a poetic book, but there are passages where what we’re reading is really history; and occasionally (as in the ‘rivers of Babylon’ verses) we’re given details beyond the original narrative.

Today’s devotional was sourced at the page From The Heart. We don’t know much about this except that “From The Heart (FTH) is a movement of Christ followers in FPCP to make Jesus known online through blogging.” We’re guessing, but we’re going to go with First Presbyterian Church of Plymouth. Clicking the header (title) which follows will take you to read this at their site.

The Joseph in You

He called down famine on the land and destroyed all their supplies of food; and he sent a man before them— Joseph, sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons, till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the Lord proved him true.

Psalms 105:16-19 NIV

Joseph is a familiar character in the Bible. At least once in every church, he must have been preached in the pulpit.

And every time we hear about him, we know that it will end up well because his life story is good. It is probably one of the best turnaround stories in the Bible. But have you ever imagined actually being Joseph? Imagine being betrayed to death by your brothers just because you had a dream. Imagine being a child sold out as a slave knowing you have a family somewhere. Imagine losing your freedom just because of a betrayal. I would probably have given up on the first trial. I most likely would not make it until the time Joseph became in charge of Egypt.

God had to strip Joseph of every single thing he could put his trust in so that when He lifts him up, he will be fit for the job. God had to strip Joseph of every hint of pride so that when He puts him in the position of power, he will be ready.

Maybe the story of Joseph is not just about God lifting him up from all the trials he went through and restoring his family in the end. Maybe it is also about the humbling power of God that prepares every person who keeps on trusting Him despite all odds being against their faith, for the appointed time He can use him.

There was no other person who can help Egypt survive the famine but Joseph, because God had molded him from childhood. God also used his calling to answer lifelong questions he had kept within himself.

There is a Joseph in each of us, the one who will persevere against all odds; who will still believe in the dream; who acknowledges the One who manages everything; who has gone through enough troubles to know it is the Hand of God at work; and the one who knows what the enemy meant for evil, God turns for good.

I am claiming this over your life. This is a timely reminder regardless if you’re sick, struggling, wandering, or transitioning. I believe that the Hand of God is at work, moving all the pieces together until the time is ripe. You will know that all this time, it was Him who is preparing you for your future. Trust that God has a better plan for your life. Leave your anxious thoughts to Him, and ask Him for guidance in the way you should go. No matter what you’re going through, and no matter what lies ahead, let God unleash the Joseph in you.

 

July 26, 2022

The Lord Will…

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The first paragraph below is from Psalm 138. The second paragraph consists entirely of different renderings of the verse which follows, Psalm 138:8.

Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly;
the arrogant he watches from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
Lord, you preserve my life.
You stretch out your right hand against the anger of my enemies;
and you save me.

The Lord will vindicate me;
The Lord will avenge me;
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
The Lord will accomplish all that concerns me;
The Lord will do everything for me;
The Lord will work out his plans for my life;
The Lord will finish what he started for me;
The Lord is with me until the end

Those last phrases are all translations of the same verse taken from different translations of the Bible. These are all a number of different translators’ understandings of how best to express the idea that the Psalm writer included in verse eight. The idea that God will. He will.

It’s the same idea that we see in the writings of the apostle Paul when he says, “I am confident of this: that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

It’s that idea that God doesn’t give up. He doesn’t give up on us when we keep making the same mistakes over and over again. When we wake up in the morning feeling like failures because of whatever happened last night. God doesn’t give up on the people we love who we are praying for.

Some of us have people we are praying for for one thing or another. God does not give up on them. God does not give up and he will complete the good work that he has begun. God is working, he is active. He is always working on the good thing that he began in us and in Creation.

– Ruth Wilkinson


Related verse: 1 Corinthians 1:18

He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you will be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.


In Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary, he looks at verse 8:

The assurance we have that whatever good work God has begun in and for his people he will perform it (Psalms 138:8; Psalms 138:8): The Lord will perfect that which concerns me,

1. That which is most needful for me; and he knows best what is so. We are careful and cumbered about many things that do not concern us, but he knows what are the things that really are of consequence to us (Matthew 6:32) and he will order them for the best.

2. That which we are most concerned about. Every good man is most concerned about his duty to God and his happiness in God, that the former may be faithfully done and the latter effectually secured; and if indeed these are the things that our hearts are most upon, and concerning which we are most solicitous,* there is a good work begun in us, and he that has begun it will perfect it, we may be confident he will, Philippians 1:6.

Observe, (1.) What ground the psalmist builds this confidence upon: Thy mercy, O Lord! endures for ever. This he had made very much the matter of his praise (Psalms 13:6), and therefore he could here with the more assurance make it the matter of his hope. For, if we give God the glory of his mercy, we may take to ourselves the comfort of it. Our hopes that we shall persevere must be founded, not upon our own strength, for that will fail us, but upon the mercy of God, for that will not fail. It is well pleaded, “Lord, thy mercy endures for ever; let me be for ever a monument of it.”

(2.) What use he makes of this confidence; it does not supersede, but quicken prayer; he turns his expectation into a petition: “Forsake not, do not let go, the work of thy own hands. Lord, I am the work of thy own hands, my soul is so, do not forsake me; my concerns are so, do not lay by thy care of them.” Whatever good there is in us it is the work of God’s own hands; he works in us both to will and to do; it will fail if he forsake it; but his glory, as Jehovah, a perfecting God, is so much concerned in the progress of it to the end that we may in faith pray, “Lord, do not forsake it.” Whom he loves he loves to the end; and, as for God, his work is perfect.


*The term ‘solicitous’ means that which we are most interested in and most concerned about, or perhaps most anxious about


The verse in Matthew that Matthew Henry refers to is this:

These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.

It’s the verse which proceeds, “But seek first the kingdom of God…”

Next Page »