Daily Walk With God

My Daily Journey With God in Athens Ga.

Psalm 139: God’s GPS

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Apr• 27•16

IMG_2478Psalm 139:7-12: Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,”even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.

Photograph of Earth from space

As I was reading and praying through Psalm 139 this morning, I began to think about a piece of modern technology: Global Positioning System (GPS). Basically, GPS tells you where you are on planet earth. This technology was first developed by the United States military but was made available for civilian use in the late 90’s. I remember using a GPS device to find the location of a church, where I was to preach a few years ago, and it put me in the middle of nowhere, many miles away from the church. I finally had to stop and ask for directions to the church. Now, I depend on the GPS built into my phone to help me navigate unfamiliar cities and towns. It is very useful and I have come to depend on it greatly.

Long before the US military designed GPS, God had his own GPS. In the first six verses of Psalm 139 we see God described as inescapable. God knows when we wake up in the morning and when we go to sleep at night. He discerns our thoughts from afar and identifies what our future actions will be. God is present everywhere and our thoughts, desires, and physical location on earth is always known to God.

In today’s text, Psalm 139:7-12, we see there is absolutely no where we can go on earth or in the heavens to escape God. He presence is with astronauts as they circle the earth or rocket into space. He is with sea captains as they sail across the depths of the ocean and to the far side of the sea. It doesn’t matter where you are on planet earth or the universe; God is with you and is available to guide you. God knows your physical location at this very moment and He wants to connect with you and draw you closer to His love, compassion, and mercy.

As I continue to read and pray Psalm 139 on a daily basis, I am so much more aware of God’s presence in my life and His hand upon my life. Whatever your location on earth or your situation in life, God’s hand will guide you and lead you into the light of His kingdom. God never gives up on us even if we give up on ourselves. God, at all times, stands ready to raise you up and give you a new and more fulfilling life through belief in Christ. You can try to run from God and hide from God, but even then, God is with you and knows your thoughts, worries, and fears. Allow God’s GPS to bring you into the light of God’s kingdom, which does not rust, spoil or fade away. God’s kingdom and His love for you is eternal. Allow God to place you where He wants you to be!cropped-Heaven.jpg

The Inescapable God

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Apr• 24•16

Psalm 139:1-6 (NSRV): O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.

I read recently of someone who praIMG_2474yed Psalm 139 as a daily prayer and that really got my attention. The next morning, I read through this psalm and it really spoke to me and gave me the strength I needed to make it through that particular day. It reaffirmed for me, the promise that God is with me every second of the day, and every step of my life.  In his commentary, Matthew Henry wrote: “Wherever we are, we are under the eye and hand of God.” During our day and all through the night, God is watchful and “familiar” with all our ways. That’s both very comforting to me and also somewhat disconcerting, because sometimes my thoughts and actions are not very pleasing to God.

God’s knowledge of us is perfect. He not only knows our hearts and minds at this very moment, his knowledge of us extends to what our future actions or words will be. So when I read and pray these first six verses of Psalm 139, it helps me to focus my thoughts and my actions on what God would have me to do. It makes me want to lead a better life and focus my time and energy on pleasing and glorifying God in all that I do.

Psalm 139 gives me great comfort in knowing that God is always with me and watching over me. If you feel alone in the world or separated from God, this psalm will help you to reconnect with God. If you are a believer and you are having a difficult time sensing God’s presence in your life, this psalm will help you to draw closer to God.

The world that we live in may tell you that God is not real. Psalm 139 describes the nature and presence of God, with each one of us as we journey through life on this earth. We are not alone! At times, we may try to run or hide from God, but His presence and his knowledge of us is inescapable. Read and pray the promises from Psalm 139 daily and ask for God’s presence in your life today. God knows you and loves you and He wants the very best for you.

What Do You See?

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Apr• 09•16

It never ceases to amaze me how God can speak to us through His word and through other people. Two weeks ago, our Senior Pastor began teaching on the book of Jeremiah during our Wednesday night service. Jeremiah is often called the “weeping prophet,” and if you read the book of Jeremiah you will soon understand why.

                Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people. Jeremiah 9:1

                My heart is broken within me; all my bones tremble. Jeremiah 23:9

Jeremiah endured many intense, personal struggles and had only a few friends, which is not surprising, given the message that God called him to proclaim. He is often referred to as the prophet of doom, since he prophesied that God would bring divine judgment upon Judah. Because of the impending calamity, God ordered Jeremiah not to marry and have children.

                See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant. Jeremiah 1:10

                Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you, declares the LORD.  Jeremiah 1:17, 19

Now, back to how this study of Jeremiah has spoken to me and has affected (distressed, upset, moved, touched, shook) me over the last two weeks. The following two verses from the first chapter of Jeremiah, have stirred up so many emotions within me as I have prayed and tried to look at people in the way that God wants me to see them.

                The word of the LORD came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?”  Jeremiah 1:11

                The word of the LORD came to me again: What do you see?”  Jeremiah 1:13

God asked Jeremiah, What do you see?” God wants Jeremiah to “see” and fully understand his calling. God wants to be certain that he and Jeremiah are on the same page. And I believe that God calls each of us today, to “see” what God sees, and then to react in the same way that God would. I can often “see” things in the way that God wants me to see them but I have a more difficult time reacting in the manner that God calls me to do. We often look at people and judge them based on our own preconceived notions. For me, I often struggle with seeing others in the same manner that God does.

What would happen if we asked God to help us “see” other people in the way that God sees them? (A word of caution: I did and thus my intense struggle). Could you begin to look at other people and “see” them in the same way that God “sees” them? These two, rather simple verses from Jeremiah have stirred up many deep thoughts and feelings in me:

                The word of the LORD came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?”  Jeremiah 1:11

                The word of the LORD came to me again: What do you see?”  Jeremiah 1:13

There are two people that God has placed in my path over the last two weeks that have caused me to struggle with these two passages from Jeremiah. One is a homeless woman that I encounter almost every day. She talks about other people’s lack of compassion towards her and then suddenly becomes angry and hateful. (Please realize there are mental issues at play). After my encounter with her yesterday, I felt as if I had failed to “see” her in the way that God sees her. The other is a homeless man that I have noticed over the last two weeks; about the same time I asked God to help me “see” others in the way that God sees them. I have only observed him from my car, walking or sitting on a sidewalk, on a street that I travel four to six times a day. I have not seen him holding up a sign asking for money or carrying any personal possessions. But I see him almost every day on that same street and I have been drawn to thinking about him and praying for him. Now that I see, what is God calling me to do next?

Do you dare ask God to help you “see” others around you that could use a helping hand or a kind, compassionate word? As I said, be careful! Because God just might answer your prayer and give you a burden, like He gave me, to act in some way, to not only “see” but to be compassionate and Christ-like to those that most of society simply ignores.

 

 

 

               

 

Holy Saturday Passion Week

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Mar• 26•16

Today is called Holy Saturday and it is the day after Good Friday. Holy Saturday is also called Black Saturday. It is the last day of Holy Week, in which we await the resurrection of Christ on Easter morning. On Holy Saturday we remember the day that the body of Christ lay in the tomb.

From the book of Matthew we find this event happening on Saturday, which was the Sabbath. Matthew 27:62-66: The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

John 16:20-22: I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

On this day, I am certain that the disciples were confused and scared. Jesus had been crucified and all may have seemed hopeless and lost. We know that the disciples often struggled in their walk of faith and on this dark day they probably could not begin to comprehend what was about to take place the next morning. The despair that they must have felt and the guilt of abandoning Jesus would have been a heavy burden to bear. They probably could not see or imagine – the light and the hope that would forever change the world – come tomorrow morning. Even though it may have seemed that evil had prevailed we know that evil will never prevail against God’s Kingdom. Tomorrow we can say with complete joy and confidence that – Christ is risen – Christ is risen indeed!

Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Mar• 17•16

As Jesus was preparing to leave this world, he said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:1-4 (NIV)

Today would have been my mother’s 88th birthday. And while it would have been great to celebrate this day with her, I am thankful that she is at home with the Lord. I am also thankful that her pain and suffering is no more. She struggled through the last few months of her life here on this earth but she now has a new and glorious body and she is free of any sickness, sorrow, or pain.

My mother had a great impact on my life. My father did as well, but it was my mother who taught me more about how to have a life long relationship with God. She lived a life that reflected the love, mercy, and grace of Jesus Christ. She was not perfect but she gave me her time and made me feel loved. As I grow older, I find myself doing many of the things she did for me for my own children. I love them fiercely and there is not a day that passes that I do not begin my day praying for their health, safety, and for God to be merciful towards them.

Jesus wanted his disciples and us to know that heaven is a real place that is being prepared for each one of us who believe in Christ, as our Lord and Savior. Before Jesus left this earth he said, “I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” What a wonderful and reassuring promise from Christ. He has prepared heaven for all who trust him and believe upon His name. And he waits for us in our heavenly home.

In this life we come to know many disappointments. When we lose someone, we certainly feel sorrow and disappointment. Jesus promises us that in heaven, we shall never again encounter sorrow or disappointments. In heaven, we will have all that we need. We will never lack anything and there will be so many good and wonderful things that we will enjoy. Although I miss my mother today, I take great comfort in thinking about her and all that she is seeing and experiencing in heaven at this very moment. She is where we all desire to be.

On earth, we are separated from our loved ones who have passed and we are separated from God. However, in heaven, there will be no more separation. The seas on earth separate people and continents from each other. The Bible tells us that in heaven there will be “no more sea.” In heaven, we will no longer be separated from our loved ones who have believed in Christ and we will no longer be separated from God. In heaven, we will be perfectly content and have all that we need. We will dwell with God. “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).

I recall standing by my mom’s bedside and holding her hand as she drew her last breath. I remember looking into her face for the last time. I remember asking God to bring her into the heavenly home that Christ prepared for her long ago. I had a powerful feeling of peace as we let her go, knowing that she was already in the presence of God. Happy Birthday Mom! I know that I will one day see you again in that incredible heaven that I can only imagine, but you are experiencing, in the presence of God.

God Is Speaking, Are You Listening?

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Mar• 16•16

1 Samuel 3:1-10 (NIV):

The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.

One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.

Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”

Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

How often do you find yourself saying, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening?” It’s more likely that we find ourselves saying, “Lord, why don’t you just listen to me?” Or, “Hurry up Lord, I’m listening!” We become so wrapped up in ourselves and our own lives that we fail to acknowledge that the creator of the universe knows what’s best for each of us and is more than willing to give us direction for our lives, if we will just stop and listen.

Most people lead very hurried lives and they allow little or no time to slow down and listen for God. Think about how you either begin or end your day. Do you set aside any daily time for God in the morning, at night, or at some other time during the day? I often hear people complain that God seems distant and far away from them. They tend to blame God for this lack of communication instead of their own failure to seek out and spend some quiet time, listening for God.

The text from 1 Samuel makes it very clear that God expects us to “listen” to him. God can and does reveal himself to us in many different ways. God greatly desires to connect with us through the reading of his word, through prayer, being outside enjoying the beauty of nature, and often through other people. God can and does communicate to us in countless ways, but we must be willing to listen.

We see in this text that Eli, the priest, was not listening for God. His sons were doing bad things and treating the offerings made to the Lord with contempt. “Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they had no regard for the LORD” (1 Samuel 2:12). Eli had failed to restrain them and so God reveals to Eli that he and his sons will be judged accordingly. Remember that it took Eli three times to realize that it was God who was calling out to Samuel. It appears that Eli was more preoccupied with other matters rather than listening to God. Is the same true for you in your daily walk with God?

Remember the story of the transfiguration from the Gospel of Matthew? Peter, James and John are led by Jesus up a high mountain and Jesus is transfigured before them. These three disciples were given a unique revelation of His glorious nature. And Moses and Elijah even appear before them and began talking with Jesus. And what does Peter do? He keeps on talking! And then do you remember what happens next?

Matthew 17:5: While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

While Peter is talking, God interrupts him and says, “This is my Son – Listen to him! It doesn’t take a genius to understand that God wants us to listen! 

Do you desire a closer, more intimate relationship with God? Do you want to feel God’s presence and sense His direction for your life? If so, the Bible is very clear on how we are able to do that – Listen to him! We can’t listen to God or feel his presence if we push him to the outer part of our lives. You must make God the center of your life, each and every day. And then you must be patient and listen! Are you willing to listen and then follow where God leads you?

Remember the words of Samuel in your own daily walk with God: “Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peace in a Troubled World

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Mar• 13•16

John 16:33: I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

It seems that each time I read or listen to the news; I am constantly reminded of all the turmoil that is going on in our country and our world. We are exposed to so much violence and evil on a daily basis that it can cause us to become discouraged and even fearful of what is transpiring in our world. It is important to remember, that as followers of Christ, we have a choice. We can continue to allow the world that we live in to cause us to worry and become fearful, or we can remember that our Savior has already overcome the world and its many trials and tribulations.

Jesus warned his disciples of the many troubles they would face, as he talked about leaving this world and going back to the Father in heaven, after His resurrection. He warned them that they would face ridicule and suffer many tribulations because of their ministry in Christ’s name. He also promised them of a future time in which “no one will take away your joy” (John 16:22). Like the disciples, we remember and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, as the sign that Christ has already defeated death, and the sin and evil of this world. This should be a daily reminder to us that no one in this world will ever take away our peace and our joy. Because of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross, we have the joy and peace of knowing that through belief in Christ, we have the promise of eternal life in our heavenly home.

As followers of Christ, we should begin each and every day in God’s word, as we remind ourselves of the truth that Christ has already overcome the world. God’s word can guide us through the many pitfalls and traps that this world sets for us as followers of Christ. This fallen world will never know complete peace until the second coming of Christ. However, as believers, we have the promise that absolutely nothing in this world can take away our joy that comes through the promise of salvation for those that believe in the name of Jesus the Christ. May the peace and joy of Jesus Christ be with you this day and every day!

Love!

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Feb• 24•16

John 13:34-35 (NIV): “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

In John’s Gospel reading for today, Jesus had just sent out, Judas, the betrayer, from his close fellowship of disciples. Jesus was about to institute the Last Supper for his disciples and Judas would have no part in that fellowship. Judas loved money and the things of this world more than he loved Jesus and there was no place for him in sharing this last meal with Christ. The heart of Judas was apparently filled with greed and love of self. Although he had spent three years being a disciple of Jesus, he couldn’t accept into his heart what Jesus was all about. It’s difficult for me to fathom how Judas could have spent this time with Jesus and not been changed in a way that opened his heart to selfless service, compassion, and love towards others. It appears that Judas loved the material things of life more than he loved or cared for his fellow man. Where are you in regards with love for others or love of self?

I meet so many people today, both church and unchurched, that fail to grasp this command to “love one another.” Jesus warned us that in the last days, “because of the increase of wickedness the love of most will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). We certainly don’t have to look very far today to see this becoming a reality. There are exceptions of course, but as a general rule, most people are focused on the love of self and the things of this world. I can’t call myself a follower of Jesus unless I try my best to follow his last command to “love one another.” If this is an area of your walk with God that you struggle with, ask God, through the Holy Spirit, to open eyes and your heart to those around you who could benefit from the love, compassion, and mercy of Christ.

Jesus loves us so much that he laid down his life for each of us. There is simply no greater love than this. How can we not respond with love to those whom Jesus loves?

 

 

Finding Strength in God

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Feb• 13•16

2 Chronicles 16:9 (NIV): For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

Psalm 28:7 (NIV): The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.

Are you struggling to sense the Lord’s presence in your life? Do you sometimes feel that God is so far away and out of touch with the pain and struggles you are going through? If you do, then I want you to be encouraged by the two verses of scripture above. God is much closer than we often think or realize. Our creator God did not just create this world and all that is in it and then decide to disconnect from it. God is still involved in every minute detail of our lives and He is nearby to strengthen and encourage those “whose hearts are fully committed to him.”

I must admit that during this past week, I experienced moments in which I felt like God was so far away. The world that we live in takes great delight in causing us to turn our attention and our focus away from God. Instead of turning to God and pouring out our hearts, our fears, our worries, and our doubts to Him, we attempt to try and solve our problems on our own. Because we fail to sense God’s presence we try to “help” God. We take matters into our own hands and, speaking from experience, we usually end up making things worse. If we could only learn to trust in God and in His perfect plan for our lives…..oh how much better off we would be!

If you are feeling hopeless or helpless, remember and reread the passage from 2 Chronicles 16:9: For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. If you are feeling drained of your own strength, remember that God is close by and will strengthen you if you will just turn to Him and trust Him and ask for help. Pray to God and pour out your fears and anxieties before Him and He will give you the strength to persevere and overcome. What we are unable to accomplish on our own strength, God can and will help us, through His might power and strength. As King David writes, “The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1). Trust in the LORD and in His strength.

 

Boasting in the Lord

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Jan• 30•16

We have all met people who like to boast. It seems that they always turn the conversation back to themselves as they craftily work into the dialog their accomplishments or their possessions. You will find people who boast about worldly things and you will find those in the church who also boast about their achievements. Social media has become a forum for many to boast and to announce their accomplishments and good deeds.

The Apostle Paul wrote a lot about boasting in his second letter to the Corinthians. Paul is having a difficult time with the church at Corinth. Many in the church at Corinth have accepted Paul and his authority as an apostle but there is a group that is committing slander against Paul. They accuse him of being bold when writing to them but timid when meeting them face to face.

Paul writes that he will boast only about the work of spreading the Gospel that the Lord has given him to do. 2 Corinthians 10:13: “We, however will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you.” Paul is adamant that he will not boast or take credit for the work that others have done. 2 Corinthians 10:15: “Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others.” Paul then concludes chapter 10 by saying: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord. For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends” (2 Corinthians 10:17-18).

Paul is being forced to defend his ministry which was given to him by Christ. If anyone could boast, it certainly would be Paul. However, Paul reminds us that we must always be careful to give all of the glory back to God for anything that we are able to accomplish in His name. As weak and mostly ineffective human beings, we must be careful to not become arrogant or overstate our own self-importance. We should remember that it is only by God’s power that we are able to accomplish anything worthwhile in His name. “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

If Paul had the internet back then he could have boasted to everyone about “being flogged, exposed to death again and again, being beaten with rods, ship-wrecked three times, in danger from rivers, and from bandits, as well as from his fellow Jews and also Gentiles.” He could have bragged about being hungry and thirsty and being cold and naked, as well as facing the daily pressures of caring for all of the churches that he helped to establish. (See 2 Corinthians chapter 11).

But Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 11:30: “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” You see, that’s how God works. He chooses those of us who are weak to carry out His work, because in our weakness, God’s power and glory is made known. I find that to be especially true of my own life, because I could not do what I do, except for the power of God, that He gives to those of us who are weak. Like Paul, we must boast only in our weakness through which the power of God and the Cross is made evident. Let your work be commended, not by your own boasting, but through God.

“For to be sure, he (Christ) was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him in our dealing with you” (2 Corinthians 13:4).