Tag Archives: Hope

Prayer Changes Us

Prayer Changes Us

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.  John 15:7

“A fifth grade boy who had heard a sermon on persistence in prayer was praying by himself in his room one night. As his dad passed his door, he heard the boy praying over and over again, “Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo.” The next day, the dad asked his son what he was doing. The boy replied that he had given the wrong answer on a test for the capital of Mexico, and he was praying that Tokyo would become the capital of Mexico.”

Some people pray trying to “fix” a situation or change the way things are.  What if prayer changed us more than the situation?  It is very possible. Observe.

  1. When we pray the will or Word of God, we are “in tune” with God’s plan.
  2. When we pray for the will of God, we are asking for more than merely what we think is best.
  3. When we pray in the will of God, we are demonstrating faith and confidence that “His way is best.”
  4. When we pray the Word of God, we are allowing His presence in us to be more evident.
  5. When we pray in God’s will, we are able to rest, have peace, and totally rely on His working it out. All the while, the practice of prayer is also changing us.

While pray does “change things” – it can also change us!

 

 

 

 

 

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Understanding God

Understanding God

There are some things that happen in life that we will never understand.  There are some events that God orchestrates or allows in our lives that are beyond our human comprehension and understanding.  That’s OK.  If we could understand everything about God then He would be minimized and we as humans would be elevated like God.  That would be the religion of humanism. We all fall far short of the Lord.

We have legitimate questions:

  • Why did the loved one develop cancer?
  • Why is it that you have a debilitating sickness?
  • What will you do now that a family member has died?
  • Where will I find another job?
  • Who do I turn to when relationships are strained?
  • What happened to my kid?
  • Why are there so many problems in the world?
  • Another car wreck? Really?

Job was accused and assaulted by Satan himself.  If you read Job chapters 1-2 you will find that if there was a way to suffer in life and still not die – Job suffered it.

  • Job’s oxen company was stolen by a neighboring tribe of people.
  • Job’s wool business with 7000 sheep was shut down when lightening (fire from heaven) struck, killing them instantaneously.
  • Job’s transportation enterprise with 3000 camels was closed when the camels were “carried away” by thieves.
  • Job’s 7 sons and 3 daughters were celebrating a party in one of the sons houses when a storm came knocking down the walls and killing Job’s entire family.
  • On top of the family businesses and the family dying, Job comes down with a devastating illness. His body is covered with boils from the bottom of his feet to the top of his head.  The boils ooze and he scrapes them with sharp shards of pottery while applying fire ashes to his wounds. He aches with burning pain from the inside out.  He cannot sleep at night.  He loses weight and his cloths wrap up around his body.  His condition is so bad that when friends come to see him – they cannot recognize him.
  • This pain is suffered for about 12 months. An. Entire. Year.

The young friend, Elihu, suggests in his last speech to Job that man cannot “comprehend” God.  He says in Job 37:5 “God thundereth marvellously with his voice; great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend.”

Very true.  All the bad things that we see, feel, and endure in life are much bigger than us. We need the Lord – even when we do not understand.  Romans 8:28 assures: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

If we cannot understand the Lord in the “bad times” what about the “good times?”

David writes in Psalm 40:5 and declares: “Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.”  

David was also no stranger to tragedy.  In this Psalm, we see him trying to count the blessings God placed on his life.  We cannot count all the blessings, but we should try.  David could not stop talking about the “wonderful works” of God.

We will still not be able to fully comprehend “why” or “how” it is that God would choose to bless us.  We do not deserve grace, goodness, or the love of God.  Go figure that.  We cannot explain the Lord!!!  Just be thankful for Who God is and what He has done in both “good” times and “bad” times.

Counting the blessings helps us in several ways.

  • Counting blessings removes our eyes from being fixated on our problems and to refocus our gaze upon the Lord.
  • Counting blessings reaffirms in our mind God’s love for us.
  • Counting blessings realigns our perspective to be thankful.
  • Counting blessings helps us realize how great, big, incredible, wonderful, amazing, loving, giving, and awesome our God is.

We will not fully comprehend all that God says, does, or allows in life.  That’s ok.  Let God be God in your life.  His way is perfect – even when we do not understand.

 

 

 

 

 

Snow Day Scriptures

Snow Day Scripture Verses

Here are all the direct references to “Snow” in the Bible.  You could have your own “Snow Day” Bible Study with this…

Exodus 4:6 And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand [was] leprous as snow.
Numbers 12:10 ¶ And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam [became leprous], [white] as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, [she was] leprous.
2 Samuel 23:20 And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man, of Kabzeel, who had done many acts, he slew two lionlike men of Moab: he went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow:
2 Kings 5:27 The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper [as white] as snow.
Job 6:16 Which are blackish by reason of the ice, [and] wherein the snow is hid:
Job 9:30 If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean;
Job 24:19 Drought and heat consume the snow waters: [so doth] the grave [those which] have sinned.
Job 37:6 ¶ For he saith to the snow, Be thou [on] the earth; likewise to the small rain, and to the great rain of his strength.
Job 38:22 Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail,
Psalm 51:7 ¶ Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Psalm 68:14 When the Almighty scattered kings in it, it was [white] as snow in Salmon.
Psalm 147:16 He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes.
Psalm 148:8 Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; stormy wind fulfilling his word:
Proverbs 25:13 ¶ As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, [so is] a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.
Proverbs 26:1 ¶ As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.
Proverb 31:21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household [are] clothed with scarlet.
Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Isaiah 55:10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
Jeremiah 18:14 Will [a man] leave the snow of Lebanon [which cometh] from the rock of the field? [or] shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken? {the snow…: or, my fields for a rock, or for the snow of Lebanon? shall the running waters be forsaken for the strange cold waters?}
Lamentations 4:7 Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, they were more ruddy in body than rubies, their polishing [was] of sapphire:
Daniel 7:9 ¶ I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment [was] white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne [was like] the fiery flame, [and] his wheels [as] burning fire.

Matthew 28:3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
Mark 9:3 And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.
Revelation 1:14 His head and [his] hairs [were] white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes [were] as a flame of fire;

Remember when it snows outside:

  1. Each snow flake is unique and you too are unique and special to God.
  2. Snow is cleansing and causes the air to be clear of many allergens and molds.  Snow should remind us of the cleansing blood of Jesus and how a person who is saved by Jesus is washed “Wither than snow” cleansed from his sin.

Stay safe in the snow today!

 

 

 

 

The Opposite of Worry

The Opposite of Worry

Jesus taught in Matthew 6:26, “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

Perhaps if we could understand the song birds, we could hear them say something like the following:

“Said the Robin to the Sparrow…

‘I should really like to know

Why these anxious human beings

Rush about and hurry so.’

Said the Sparrow to the Robin,

‘Friend, I think that it must be

That they have no Heavenly Father

Such as cares for you and me.’”

Of course, the Lord cares so much for you – much more than the creatures of His creation!  May God help us to not let “worry” define and destroy our lives.

If anyone could have had a “good reason” to worry – it could have been the Apostle Paul.  He had many troubles that he endured.  From declining health, to the government wanting him dead, to even having Christians fighting each other and even fighting against him, Paul had much potential to worry.

Philippians 4:6-7 declares, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

“Be Careful” is a phrase that means “to be anxious about.”  It is a Bible term for worry.

I like how one person wrote: “Let us not bankrupt our todays by paying interest on the regrets of yesterday and borrowing in advance the troubles of tomorrow.”

Synonyms for “Worry” include “concern, apprehension, and fear.”  We fear much and worry a lot – it is natural.  Things we worry about may include:

  • Will by health decline or what if I acquire a disease?
  • What type of relationship will I have with family members in the future?
  • Will I ever get married?
  • Does he/she like me?
  • Where will I go to college?
  • What type of house will I have one day?
  • Where will I live?
  • Can I get enough money for this vehicle?
  • Can I really pay these bills?
  • Wil I get this promotion?

“Don’t worry, be happy” may seem like a helpful statement, but it is inaccurate.  The opposite of worry is not happiness.  The opposite of worry is peace.  While worry is natural, to have peace is supernatural.

Understand the peace of God is the presence of God.  Most people never have victory over worry because they are attempting to live life apart from God.  Even Christians struggle sometimes with leaving each burden with the Lord can casting their cares to Him.  When we know His presence, and let that guide us, we will experience peace of mind and heart.

How can I have the “peace of God” in my life?

Be Sure to Pray.  Philippians 4:6 says our response to worry should be prayer.  There are 3 terms used for prayer in this verse.

  • Prayer – This is a general term used in our addressing the Lord, and seeking Him. It implies worship. Perhaps each of us should take more time to “Adore” and show love to God in prayer.
  • Supplication – This is a term for special and detailed requests. It means to ask a petition.
  • Thanksgiving – Gratefulness is missing in our prayers sometimes. This term means we should have grateful language in our talk with the Lord.  Instead of “demanding” and asking, why not pause in part of your prayer moments and be thankful to the Lord?

Be Sure to Check Your Mind.  As verse 7 indicates, the peace of God can “keep our hearts and minds.”  Righting thinking goes a long way in the search for peace of mind and victory over worry.  Bible teacher, Dr. Warren Wiersbe wrote that only 8% of the things people worry about happen.  That means 92% of the things people worry about will not or cannot really happen.  How much time, energy, and thoughts are wasted on worry?  Perhaps too much to count. We control our minds by thinking of “Good things.”  Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Replace worrisome thoughts with the peaceful thoughts that God gives us in the above verse.

Be Sure to Check Your Actions.  Philippians 4:9 goes on to describe the third way to replace worry with peace: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

Do what you know is right according to the Scriptures.  Paul cites the Bible teaching he gave and the Godly lifestyle he demonstrated as a good example for the Christians in Philippi to follow.  Are your actions matching and coordinating with your prayers and your thinking?  Our actions and what we “do” should complement the prayers we offer and the thoughts we think.

If we are not doing right, and know that we are disobeying God in a certain area, then we cannot have peace in our heart.   As Christians, we have “peace with God” continually in salvation, but we may not be at peace in our heart because of disobedience.  Similar to how a small child may shy away from a parent when they know they are doing wrong.  They are still the son or daughter of their parent, but are ashamed of their actions and may even avoid being around the parent. They have “guilt.”  They know they should be doing the right thing, but have succumbed to a temptation to do the wrong thing.

Take a student for example.  A test is coming and instead of studying and preparing for the test, he plays games on facebook, texts people all night, and does things other than study.  When the test is presented to him, he begins to worry because he did not do the things he was supposed to be doing.

Take another student.  She hears about an upcoming test and takes her books home to study.  She memorizes, writes out the main subjects of the test, develops a study guide, and puts much time and effort into preparing for the test.  When she is given the test, she has peace in her heart because she did what she was supposed to do.  Humanly speaking, she did everything possible to be ready and a lasting result is – peace in her heart when tested. The same is true in our Christian life.

When we do what we pray with thoughtfulness, are controlling our minds with right thoughts, and are doing what we are supposed to be doing, we can replace worry with supernatural peace.

Discovering Joy

Discovering Joy

Joy has been aptly defined in a simple and yet profound acrostic.

Jesus, Others, You.

I like that.  Consider the depth of joy as opposed to the shallowness of mere happiness.  Happiness is generally derived from outer circumstances, while joy comes from within.  Happiness is impacted by good or bad surroundings whereas joy remains constant no matter the events a person may go through.  Joy is something that God can put inside your mind when you love and adore Him first in life.  We can be happy when our team wins; but if our team losses, we can still have joy.  We can get excited when the report comes back good; but when the doctor says, cancer or surgery, we can still have joy.

Speaking of the Macedonian Christians, Paul said in 2 Corinthians 8:2 “How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.”

These early Christians were suffering persecution, yet remained joyful in Jesus.  Many were tortured and killed for their faith.  These believers were known to be poor, yet were rich in spirit and even in sacrificing what little finances they had in order to give to missions work and Gospel ministry.  They had and Gospel focus in life.

They were so focused on loving The Lord, and on serving others that in spite of their lack of stuff, they had joy.  Even though their circumstances were tragic – they were at peace with God, satisfied with life, and expressed the joy of the Lord in their countenance, actions, and relationships.

Many times, we settle for “pursuing happiness” when we should be seeking, Bible based joy. Even if your circumstances are “less than ideal” or even if it seems like one storm after another comes your way – you can have the joy of the Lord in your life.

Following the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, the people gather together to hear Ezra read the Bible.  Following his reading, Nehemiah stands up and says in Nehemiah 8:10, “Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

The Joy of the Lord is our strength too.  Nehemiah says to “go celebrate, but no matter what happens the rest of your life – you can rely the joy of the Lord.”  This joy gives us strength and hope for the journey called life.  The Jews in the rebuilt city of Jerusalem were to face more troubles and challenges in the days ahead – and we will too.  Relying on the power of God can reinforce this idea that no matter the circumstances, the joy of the Lord can be real in our life.

Change the priority and focus of your life.  When my love shifts from selfishly loving myself to selflessly loving God, then others, and then far down the list, myself – then joy is can be discovered in my life.

Jesus – First.

Others – Second.

You – Last.

It will change your life.

Responding to Tough Days

Responding to Tough Days

Isaiah 1:17

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Bill was depressed.  Many traumatic things started to occur in his life all at once.  He had injured someone at work and even though it was an accident, he was let go from the job.  His wife was troubled with “empty nest syndrome” and she could not let her children live their own life.  She would try to have Bill control their decisions and would constantly talk about them.  With his prospects for a job thin, and his wife’s emotional troubles, Bill had had enough.  He was not sure what to do, but he needed help.  The mornings were hard because there was no real reason to get up and get going.  His motivation dropped, his desires for the things of life waned and he was flat out depressed.   He could no longer afford the paper and the internet was cut off because of not paying for it.  Bill moped around feeling sorry for himself.  The zeal and enthusiasm he once had had disappeared.  Bill asked the classic questions: “Why? Why me? Why this?”  He would come up with self-philosophized answers that soured his outlook.  Sometimes he would ask well-meaning friends, who could not really help.  Their answers only fed the humanistic nature of Bill as a man and led to a more self-righteous and selfish perspective.  Every day, the same cycle of depression increased until the point that Bill no longer wanted to live.  What can Bill or someone like Bill do?  You know of similar stories.

Every reader of this post will either be discouraged or know someone that is discouraged.  Each of us know or will know someone fighting with depression.  Perhaps you or I will battle with depression.  What should we do in troublesome times?  How should we respond when the going gets tough and we do not know what to do?

Isaiah was an Old Testament prophet for the Lord.  His name means “salvation of the Lord.”  Isaiah was a married man.  The people called his wife “prophetess” according to Isaiah 8:3.  They had 2 sons who they trained to serve the Lord.  He started his preaching ministry during the year that King Uzziah died in Isaiah 6:1 which would be around 739 BC.  He preached during reigns of King Jotham, King Ahaz, and King Hezekiah.  He was contemporary with the Prophets Amos, Hosea, and Micah. Tradition says that King Manasseh had Isaiah sawed in half.  He could be the one “sawn asunder” that Hebrews 11:37 speaks about:  “They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented.”  What a tragic time of history Isaiah lived in!  Could imagine facing a saw for execution for doing what was right?

For over 50 years Isaiah preached.  They were difficult days internationally.  Nations could come and go defeating and carrying away the Hebrew people.  Civil war between Israel and Judah was commonplace.  Wars, fighting, spying, crime, famine, shortages, and other problems connect to international war were the life and times of Isaiah.  They were also dangerous days internally.  Most problems we face come from our own sinful nature.  Many times we are the ones who create the problems we face.  It could be because of our lack or faith, the friends we choose, or the focus of our heart.  In this case, the people had forsaken the Lord again.  The people would swerve back and forth between false gods and the Lord Jehovah God   Isaiah delivers a message of judgment and also a message of hope.  We find that salvation and deliverance are major themes of this Book of Isaiah.

To a man who could have been depressed, who could have lived a discouraged, defeated life, God gave an answer.  We find this helpful answer in Isaiah 1:17 which says:  “Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” When the pressures of life are pressing down on you, the Lord gives us a solution.

Let’s break down this verse and apply the 4 truths we discover in it in our lives.

“Learn to do well.”  This is the goal when facing difficult times.  We all want to do well, to do right by God, others, and ourselves.  We should do well in actions, do well in our thinking, and do well in our talking.  The goal is to “do well.” Then we find 4 measurable objectives to help us achieve the goal of “doing well.”

  1. Seek judgment.
  2. Relieve the Oppressed.
  3. Judge the Fatherless.
  4. Plead for the Widow.

Objective #1:  “Seek Judgment” is the only point given that has to do with how the individual thinks about himself.  Many times people who are depressed will say “I have to work on me for a while.”  It sounds noble, but it is only ¼ of the solution.  All discouragement comes from some form of selfishness.  All selfishness comes from pride.  Proverbs 13:10 informs us “Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.”  To seek judgment has to do with making a judgment call.  It is to make a right choice after perceiving and looking at the situation the right way.   Each person dealing with depression MUST see their situation the way God sees it.  They must look at their lives with the lens of God’s Word and through the prism of the Holy Spirit.  Only then can they identify the pride that may have taken form in their lives in self-pity, self-denial, or plain old selfishness.  This is a discipline of self-examination in light of the Lord.  “Are things really that bad?  Am I overdramatizing the situation?”  It may be a truly bad situation, but things could always be worse.  No matter what, the Lord is always there to help.  Are you seeking God’s perspective on your life?

Objective #2:  “Relieving the Oppressed” turns the attention of the individual from self-assessment to assessing and assisting the needs of others.  It is answering the question of “How can I help other people?”  The ridiculed co-worker needs a friend.  The laughed at classmate needs someone to talk to.  The loners in the office, the seemingly “backward” individuals on the floor, and the lonely person in a corner all need an advocate.  They need someone to help them.  That person can and should be you.  No longer looking at your situation alone, you can relate your experiences and help others that are being oppressed.  Who have you helped in the last month that was being oppressed?

Objective #3:  “Judging the Fatherless” is a Hebrew phrased rooted in the word “justice.”  When judging the orphaned and abandoned, it is not in a condemning way, but looking at them in a compassionate way.  Life has given them a difficult start.  A father has not nurtured them or cared for them.  The fatherless develop emotionally without knowing the love of a daddy.  The warm embrace, pats on the back, and words of affirmation a father would normally give are missing in their lives.  Seeing their needs and deficiencies with the eyes of justice will help you choose to do right by them.  A person in this case would offer to take a boy to the Father and Son Campout and be a personal mentor to him.  A girl and her mother would be asked to enjoy dinner with a “more complete family” comprised of a father and a mother.  A leader in the church will teach these children how to pray, how to serve, and how to live in a mentoring type way.   There are fatherless children at your church; are you helping and encouraging them each time you see them?

Objective #4:  “Pleading for the Widow” is seeing the needs in a widow’s life and trying to meet those needs.  She may have chores to be done that are beyond her ability.  She may need to have special care as the years increase.  A Christian will look to help the widow.  1 Timothy 5:16 says: “If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.”  She may or may not have sons and daughters around to help her.  She could really be all alone with no-one to turn to.  The Lord gave the widows the church in this situation.  Each widow with no-one else should be connected to a local church.  Perhaps every church member should have at least one widow they are looking out for.  It can be a for sure cure for preventing and curing depression!  Who are you ministering to that is a widow?

Conclusion:  Notice how ¾ of these objectives have to do with serving other people.  This is a great cure for battling depression.  When the previously depressed person is focused on these 4 objectives, he will have victory daily to the temptation to become depressed again.  To focus on yourself in a moment of depression is a foolish thing to do as Proverbs 26:12 states: “Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.”  You can have hope today because of the wisdom of the Lord!  Respond to tough days by “doing well” according to the Lord’s plan in Isaiah 1:17..

Bill will live to see another day.  With Bible counseling such as this in his mind, he can have victory and Bible hope for a bright future serving the Lord on this earth.  When focused on serving others, the time and miscalculated attention he was devoting to himself will turn into productivity for others and this will change his sadness into joy.  He will discover the satisfaction he had been missing and he will have a fresh motivation for each new day.