Daily Walk With God

My Daily Journey With God in Athens Ga.

God’s Holy Spirit: You Are Not Alone

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Aug• 21•15

1 Corinthians 2:9-10 (NIV):

However, as it is written:
“No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no human mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

Are you struggling in your daily walk with God? Do you try to seek out and think about God, only to have the worries and struggles of this world to cause you to lose your focus on God? Have you ever felt that God was distant as you encounter life’s many obstacles and frustrations? If you have – you are not alone! All believers go through periods of uncertainty and doubt. Satan wants you to believe that you are not good enough for God to care about you. He wants to bring up your past sin and failures to make you believe that you are not worthy of God’s love and mercy. You must remember that God loves you and cares deeply about you. And most importantly, God is always present with you, as you go through the many highs and lows of life on this earth. 

I read a passage from a book the other day on this text from 1 Corinthians: “You are never alone, for I am at your right hand. Never despair, for I am watching over and caring for you. Be not anxious. What seems to you to be at present a difficult situation is all part of My planning, and I am working out the details of circumstances so that I may bless you and reveal Myself to you in a new way.” From the book: Come Away My Beloved by Frances J. Roberts, p. 14.

Earlier this week, I was having a difficult time with a work related problem, and I felt completely overwhelmed and alone. I had begun my day praying to God for help but as soon as I was out in the world, I felt as if I would be crushed under the weight of my worries and I allowed my mind to wander away from God. Throughout that day, I struggled and I fought with my own strength to solve my problem, but to no avail. I was completely overcome with anxiety and despair and I felt as if I were on a ground of sinking sand.

As I came home that afternoon, I was mentally and physically exhausted. I wondered why God seemed so distant during my day and I almost felt defeated and without any hope. I fell asleep early that night and woke up the next morning already worrying about the day ahead. And then I began to pray for God’s help. I asked, no I begged God, for the ability to feel His presence throughout my day. I admitted my human weakness and I told God that I was going to trust Him and I would cast all my burdens and anxieties upon Him, just as the Apostle Peter advised. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” 1 Peter 5:7.

In the midst of our despair we must always remember that God is watching over us and caring for us. Even as we are faced with difficult situations in life, we must have enough faith to realize that God will use these times of struggle in order to strengthen us and bless us in a new and better way. Remember that God continues to be in charge of this world that we live in – God is walking with us and ahead of us at all times. So keep your focus upon God and allow Him to lead you down the path that He has already prepared for you. God loves you and always wants the very best for you and He is with you every step of the way!

There is one verse of scripture that I always turn to that serves to remind me of God’s continued presence in my life and it is from the Old Testament. 2 Chronicles 16:9: For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

 

 

More Faith, Less Doubt

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Aug• 08•15

Matthew 14:22-36 (NIV): Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

Our scripture passage for today picks up immediately after Jesus had performed the miracle of feeding the five thousand. Jesus told the disciples to get into the boat and go on ahead of him, while he finished talking to and teaching, the crowd of people following him. Jesus, in need of time alone with the Father, went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. He had just received word that John the Baptist had been beheaded in prison and I’m sure that his heart was heavy because of the loss of his cousin and friend. In addition, Jesus had to deal with the ever increasing demands of the crowds following him and he surely needed time to recharge, pray and commune with God. Have you ever taken the time to consider that if Jesus needed this quiet time alone with God, don’t we need it even more?

 
After a long time in prayer and fellowship with God, Jesus looks up to find the boat carrying his disciples, a considerable distance away from land. Matthew’s Gospel tells us that during the fourth watch of the night (between 3am and 6am), Jesus walks out to his disciples on the lake. When the disciples first saw Jesus they were terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost. Jesus immediately tells them to take courage and he identifies himself. Peter, probably still unsure if it is really Jesus, replies, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus tells Peter to come to him, and having some faith, Peter begins to walk on the water towards Jesus. However, when Peter felt the wind and saw the effects that the wind was having on the water, he began to lose faith, became afraid, and started to sink. Peter cries out to Jesus, “Lord, save me!” And Matthew’s Gospel tells us that, “immediately,” Jesus extended his hand to Peter and caught him. Then Jesus said, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Why do you doubt or have fear if you are a follower of Christ? Well for starters, this world that we live in gives us many reasons to allow fear or doubt to creep into our minds. Many people only put their faith and trust in things that they can see, touch, or feel. They read, see, or hear the distressing news stories that are occurring around the world and they begin to doubt  – they begin to lose faith. The troubling news and violence that we are exposed to every day causes us to fear, just as the effect the wind was having on the water caused Peter to fear, and to doubt and lose faith. Many people, including believers, become so overwhelmed with their worries and doubts and they turn to other things, like alcohol or drugs, to help them momentarily escape from or put aside their burdens for a short while. And Jesus asks, “You of little faith, why do you doubt?”

James, the brother of Jesus, gives us some encouraging words on how to overcome doubt and to strengthen our faith in God. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4 NIV).

The life of a follower of Christ will not necessarily be an easy, carefree life. We will face many trials, temptations, and obstacles. Our faith will be tested. However, when faced with these difficulties of life, we must learn to persevere in our faith, clinging to the hope and trust that we have in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our perseverance and faith in God, and in Christ, will grow and mature our life of faith. We will be given the strength to stand firmly against the many crashing waves that life, in this world, sends our way. Perseverance in our walk of faith and in our daily lives will bring us to a more mature and complete faith in God.

Rest for the Weary

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Aug• 06•15

Matthew 11:28 (NIV): Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

In our society today, it seems that everyone is in a hurry. We rush around aimlessly trying to fill our lives with material things that will satisfy us and make us happy. It’s important to us that we appear successful and in control of our lives and our destiny. We fool ourselves, and we try to fool others, with the pretense that we live perfect, stress free lives. For many of us, the lives we lead are anything but trouble and worry free.

Many people misread this passage from Matthew and the words of Jesus. As believers, we are not promised an easy stress free life. Our bodies will be physically tired and we will face troubles, worries, and burdens. However – through Christ and the Holy Spirit – we are enabled to encounter this daily life of stress and worry with a higher power that makes our very soul content. We can find rest and peace, not necessarily for our body, but for our very soul. 

Isaiah 40:28-29 (NIV)
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

This demanding and unforgiving world that we live in is often not a friend to those of us who feel weary and weak. War, terrorism, and violence seem to fill the earth and that can cause us to worry and even waver in our faith. We must remember that the same God who created the earth is still in control of what transpires on this planet. This passage from Isaiah helps us to remember that our creator God remains in control and is tirelessly working to provide strength for the souls of the weak and weary.

Psalm 62:1 (NIV)
Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.

Make an effort to unplug from this world and rest in quietness with God. Allow God to refresh you with His Spirit and to give you rest and the strength needed to face each day. Instead of worrying about what the day ahead holds, trust that God will be with you and will supply you with what you need to make it through the day. Pray for God’s presence and trust that He goes ahead of you to prepare the way. End your day by thanking God for guiding you and sustaining you, for being present with you.

The Church in Laodicea and America

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Jul• 29•15

Revelation 3:14-22 (NIV):

14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

In the book of Revelation, Jesus speaks to the seven churches, which some believe to be symbolic of seven church ages. To the first six, Jesus points out their good qualities and some additional areas they must improve upon. For the most part, these six churches are following the leadership of Christ and will be rewarded in the end. However, the last church mentioned (the Church in Laodicea) does not receive the same treatment. “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Jesus does not point out anything they are doing, that is pleasing or glorying to God. Jesus condemns the Laodicean church because they are too “cozy” with the world around them and are not obedient to the leadership of Christ and the Holy Spirit. They are a worldly church.

As we look at how the Laodicean church is described, think about the state of the church in America today. Do you see any similarities? Christ describes the church in Laodicea as being: lukewarm, rich by the world’s standards, wealthy and not needing anything. Then Christ reveals their true spiritual condition: wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked (Rev. 3:17). In our own modern terms we would describe this church as being: blind to their own spiritual condition, spiritually dead, apathetic, complacent, self-deceived, self-sufficient, etc. There are many who would argue that this is the state of many of our churches in America today.

After Jesus has listed his complaints against the church he calls them to repentance. Repentance, now that’s a message that’s missing from many of our churches today! Then he instructs them to listen for his voice, and not the voice of the world around them. Many churches today try to compromise with the world around them because they don’t want to offend anyone. They have a big budget to meet so they can’t afford to offend their largest contributors. They want high attendance numbers so they avoid any message that would be offensive to anyone. Their message is crafted to make everyone feel included and to feel good about themselves. Repentance is a word they try to avoid because it does not have that inclusive feel to it that the church today likes to promote. Christ loved everyone and so should we, but we must never compromise the true Gospel message of salvation by faith and belief in Christ. And we should never try to “water-down” the true Gospel message in order to conform to the society around us.

The church in Laodicea was a self-sufficient church; they relied on themselves instead of the leadership of Christ and the Holy Spirit. Does your church follow the leadership of Christ and the Holy Spirit or does it try to conform to the world around it?

God’s Unfailing Love

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Jul• 25•15

Psalm 143:8-10 (NIV)

8Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
    for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
    for to you I entrust my life.

9Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,
    for I hide myself in you.

10Teach me to do your will,
    for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
    lead me on level ground.

How do you begin your morning? Most of us have a morning routine that we usually don’t vary from. Some of us must have at least an hour to wake up, have our coffee, and mentally prepare ourselves for the day. That mental preparation could include surfing the internet, watching the early morning news or sports shows, or reading a book. There are others who simply wake up, shower, and get ready for school or work hurriedly, as they make a mad dash for the door. I know of others who enjoy their favorite morning beverage outside, sitting on their back deck or porch, and taking in the sights and sounds of God’s amazing creation.

In Psalm 143, a psalm of David, we find that David is greatly distressed as he cries out to God for relief from those who want to harm him. He prays for God’s mercy and he calls upon God’s faithfulness and righteousness to bring him some relief from his enemies. David doesn’t know what his day may hold, but he has the faith to begin each morning, calling upon God for guidance and reassurance.

Do you allow the morning to bring you word of God’s unfailing love? Do you look to God and trust Him to guide you throughout your day? Spending time alone with God each morning is the best way I know to gain strength and reassurance for the day ahead. Although we don’t know what the day ahead has in store for us, God does, and He asks that we only trust Him as He shows us the way.

We learn to trust God by drawing closer to Him each day, as we acknowledge His unfailing love and His presence in our lives. As we read the Bible, or sit in silence praying to God, we are learning to deepen our trust in God and acknowledge His presence in every area of our lives. Through the Holy Spirit, we can ask God to lead us down the path that He has ordained for us. And as we grown into a deeper relationship with God we will begin to proclaim what David so beautifully affirmed: “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”

Have You Been Changed? The Parable of the Wedding Banquet

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Jul• 18•15

 

 

Matthew 22:1-3: Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

In this parable told by Jesus, a “king” prepared a wedding banquet for his son. This “king” then sent out his servants to those guests who had been invited, telling them to come, but the invited guests refused. In this parable, the “servants” were Old Testament prophets that God had sent to proclaim the future coming of Christ. The King in this parable is of course God, the Son represents Jesus, and the bride of Christ represents the Church. In verse 3, we are told that the invited guests refused to come. 

Matthew 22:4: “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

In verse 4 we find that God sent out even more prophets to proclaim the free gift of God’s salvation, but we will soon see that the people refused to believe. Prophets such as Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and John the Baptist, invited people to accept the free gift of salvation that was offered by God the King. Sadly, the people rejected this offer and refused to believe.

Matthew 22:5-7: 5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

The King then sends out more servants (prophets) to invite other people to come to the wedding feast but those invited guests offered up many excuses to not attend. Many paid no attention to the invitation and just went about their normal daily routines.

Others seized, mistreated, and even killed the servants, who were God’s prophets. Many decided to choose the pleasures of life instead of accepting the free gift of eternal life that was being offered by God, to those who would believe. The sending of the king’s army, the destruction of those who killed the prophets, and the burning of the city, foretold the eventual destruction of Jerusalem.

How often do we go through life without ever thanking and acknowledging God or asking Him for direction in our lives? We make ourselves busy with the things of this world, while pushing aside God and failing to seek His guidance and accept his invitation to share in this banquet.

Matthew 22: 8-10: 8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

The invited guests represent the Jewish people who rejected Christ. So God the King says, “Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you can find.” This is a reference to the Gentiles who were considered unclean and thus the “bad.” Eventually we find that the wedding hall was filled with guests, both good and bad. We know that even the church today is filled with both good and bad because the church is made up of human beings. There are many in the church that belong to the church but have not truly been changed by their encounter and belief in Christ.

Matthew 22: 11-12: 11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

The Holy Spirit guides believers in our walk of faith. Sadly, many believers block the power of the Holy Spirit by following the ways of the world instead of being guided by the Spirit of God. Are you transformed by the leading of the Spirit or do you allow the world that you live in to guide you and shape your beliefs?

The King coming in to view the guests represents God at the final judgment. As followers of Christ, we are charged with living a life that shows evidence of our being changed by the acceptance of God’s free gift of salvation. If we believe and truly encounter the living Christ, we must be changed and our lives must bear witness to that. Galatians 3:27: for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Matthew 22:13-14: 13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’  14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

At the last judgment we will be held accountable for the way that we have lived out our life of faith. If we have truly been changed by our encounter with the living Christ, then our lives will have reflected that. We are called to live repentant and pure lives that allow others to see Christ in us. If we have not lived a Christ like life, then our inner darkness and failure to follow Christ will be exposed.

The “attendants,” in verse 13, are the angels who are God’s servants and will help to carry out God’s final judgment. God will separate those who have been changed from those who have not.

If you are a believer, then you must be a changed person through faith and belief in the Risen Christ. You can go through life as a believer not being changed and it may not be apparent to those with whom you share a pew in worship. Someone who is truly “changed” will lead a life that reflects the glory and the presence of Christ in all of their words and actions. You can go through life “faking” it, but at the end of time, God the judge, will not be fooled. Belief and faith in Christ must lead to a new life in which you are truly transformed and changed.

Strength For Today, Hope For Tomorrow

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Jul• 12•15

Lamentations 3:19-23
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

The author of the book of Lamentations is uncertain, although many ancient Jewish and early Christian traditions ascribe it to Jeremiah. Jeremiah has been called the “weeping prophet” because he so often would express the anguish of his spirit. Jeremiah was a prophet of doom and not surprisingly he only attracted a few close followers. God commanded Jeremiah not to marry and raise children, because the Lord was going to send a divine judgment upon Judah that would sweep away the next generation.

The book of Lamentations mournfully expresses the people’s overwhelming sense of loss that accompanied the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, as well as the exile of Judah’s inhabitants from the land that God had covenanted to give Israel as a permanent national homeland.

In 1923, Thomas Chisolm wrote one of the greatest modern hymns about the faithfulness of God from this text in Lamentations. In the first stanza he writes about the character of God and how it does not change. God is compassionate and that compassion will last into eternity. In stanza two he writes about God’s faithfulness in maintaining the order of the universe. In stanza three he writes of God’s faithfulness in forgiving our sins and providing strength for today and hope for tomorrow. Each stanza leads to the great culminating chorus that declares the victorious words of Jeremiah, “Great is Thy faithfulness.”

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God, my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above;
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin And a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today And bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, With ten thousand beside.

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

Prayer: Our heavenly Father, as your followers we are aware of the great and eternal love that you have for us. We believe that you watch over and guide our lives each and every day. Help us to remember that your love is unfailing and your compassion is everlasting. Give us the strength and the hope to arise every morning remembering how great your faithfulness is to each one of us. In spite of what the previous day has brought into our lives, let us awake with a new hope, a hope for a better and brighter day. And in the midst of a changing world, we have the promise that you do not change. Help us to feel your compassion, your mercy, and your grace upon our individual lives. Amen.

Sources used:
NIV Study Bible Zondervan
Dailyencouragement.net

Focus on Christ

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Jul• 04•15

 

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV):
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Helen H. Lemmel (1863-1961) wrote the words and the music of Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus in 1922. Her inspiration for the song, which Helen entitled The Heavenly Vision, came from the writings of author and artist Lilias Trotter (1853-1928). After struggling in prayer for two years, Trotter came to the conclusion that she must lay down her love of art in order to fix her eyes solely on Jesus, and on His calling to the mission field. She subsequently served for more than 38 years as a missionary to Muslims of Algeria. She also authored several books and tracts. The following is an excerpt from her tract, Which Passion Will Prevail? (http://www.sharefaith.com/guide/Christian-Music/hymns-the-songs-and-the-stories/turn-your-eyes-upon-jesus-the-song-and-the-story.html)

“Never has it been so easy to live in half a dozen harmless worlds at once — art, music, social science, games, motoring, the following of some profession, and so on. And between them we run the risk of drifting about, the good hiding the best.” It is easy to find out whether our lives are focused, and if so, where the focus lies. Where do our thoughts settle when consciousness comes back in the morning? Where do they swing back when the pressure is off during the day? Dare to have it out with God, and ask Him to show you whether or not all is focused on Christ and His Glory. Turn your soul’s vision to Jesus, and look and look at Him, and a strange dimness will come over all that is apart from Him.”
– Lilias Trotter

Has your walk with God lost its focus? Are you “fixed” on your Savior, Christ Jesus? Are you fixated with the current wave of news and social media that bombards our minds on a daily basis? We are easily drawn into the debate on whether or not we support gay marriage. We are consumed with the debate over a flag that has created constant debate and attention. We seem to have forgotten the Charleston, South Carolina church shooting that took the lives of nine followers of Christ, including the church’s pastor. Our attention and talk has turned to debate over a flag instead of hearing stories about these nine Christians and their walk of faith and their strong desire to follow Christ, even in a world that does not acknowledge Christ.

As followers of Christ, we come face to face with sin and opposition to God’s word every day. We must remember that Christ endured the same kind of opposition and he kept His faith firmly entrenched in God. Christ calls us, as His followers, to do the same. When we become entangled in the endless debates that rage on and on, we take our mind and our focus away from Christ. And that is exactly what the evil one wants us to do. Say “no” to this world and to Satan and “turn your eyes upon Jesus.” Live out a life of faith that keeps its focus on Jesus, “the author and perfecter of our faith.” And do this so that, as the author of Hebrews reminds us, “you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

How do you keep your focus upon Christ? I would love to hear from you.

God’s Familiarity With You

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Jun• 28•15

Psalm 139: 1-4: O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.

When I feel distant from God, I often go to Psalm 139 in order to draw nearer to God. In Psalm 139, we are given the promise and the assurance that God is always with us. He is there when we wake up each morning and He is still there when we fall asleep at night. Knowing that I have that intimate, personal connection with God helps me to pull in closer to Him. It helps me to realize that God is there, He continues to know who I am and He watches over every detail of my life.

This psalm of David is an appeal for God to examine the heart and even the soul. David is declaring his loyalty to God and the awareness that God knows his every thought. God even knows the words that David (and you and I) will speak before they are formed on his tongue. I wonder how different the words that come out of our mouth would be if we considered that before we spoke.

Knowing that God perceives our every thought and has knowledge of what lies deep in our hearts can be troubling to many of us. We hold grudges, we judge others, we harbor hate, and we want God to bless us but not necessarily someone that we don’t like. This psalm tells us that we can’t hide these thoughts from God because God’s presence is everywhere. God is present in the heavens, the depths of the sea, and all across this world that we live in. God knows what we are thinking at this very moment, as He “searches” our hearts.

Psalm 139: 13-17: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

This passage helps me to remember that God continues to “think” about me and about you. The same God that created us continues to watch over us and wants to be intimately involved in each of our lives through His Holy Spirit. Even in those times when we try to run away from God, He is still there. God greatly desires to draw us close to Him again. I don’t know about you, but that gives me hope and encouragement to continue on my path of following and seeking God.

David then concludes this psalm with these last two verses. Psalm 139: 23-24: Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

David is asking God to examine his heart and to make him aware of anything that he needs to correct. The psalmist is declaring his love and devotion to God, while also acknowledging that he continues to have impure thoughts and motives. He is asking God to search his heart for those thoughts and to forgive him. He then asks God to guide him to the path that leads to eternal life. We should all pray that God will lead us down that path instead of the path that lead to worldliness and destruction.

When you are feeling that God is distant or if you think that God has forgotten about you, I encourage you to read Psalm 139. Remember that you are God’s creation and you are loved and known by God. That same creator God wants to be involved in every detail of your life. God is asking you to seek Him for relief from life’s daily struggles, worry and anxiety. God is with you and He alone can bring peace and assurance to your life today.

Hear these words of promise and hope from James 4:8: Come near to God and he will come near to you.

Praying for our Nation

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Jun• 27•15

2 Chronicles 7:14 (ASV): if my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

As a country, we are not seeking God. Many have fallen for the countless lies that come from the evil one and the desires of the world that we live in. We are told by the world that we should be tolerant, understanding, and respectful of the views and beliefs of others. However, when Christians begin to talk about our views and beliefs, we are attacked and ridiculed for our values and principles. This passage from 2 Chronicles reminds us that we must first “humble” ourselves and realize that we are all sinners. 1 John 1:8 (NIV): If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. For me personally, I am going to take a deep breath and confess to God my sinfulness, and get myself right with God. That is the first step for all of us before we go around pointing fingers and casting judgment on others.

Then I am going to pray, pray, and continue to pray for our country and for every person in our country. God has established, through His Holy Word, the manner in which we should live our lives as a person that was created by God. God’s intentions for how we are to live our lives are crystal clear and there is not a court or a political leader that can redefine that. God always has been, continues to, and will eternally be in control of this world that we live in.

As Christians, we must seek the “face” of God through daily prayers and the continued reading of God’s Holy Word. Psalm 27:8 (ESV): You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.” We must begin to seek God every day and to pray for the healing of our nation. We must pray that people will “turn from their wicked ways” and live a righteous and holy life that pleases and honors God’s design for human beings. If Christians will continue to do this on a daily basis we can have hope that God will work in the hearts and minds of those that are “lost” and help them to “turn from their wicked ways.”

Will you dedicate yourself to pray for our nation and for the healing of our land on a daily basis?

Ezekiel 22:30 (ASV): And I sought for a man among them, that should build up the wall, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none.

Job 38:1,4-7
Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

God will not be mocked. Even well intentioned Christians, who make light of God raining down judgment upon our nation, are on shaky ground. There is not a person on earth who has the understanding or the right to say what God will or will not do. God is sovereign and He has already decided what needs to be done to get our attention focused squarely back upon Him. 

Paul’s advice to Timothy is good advice for all of us who believe in God and his charge to those of us who belong to Him. As Christians, we are called to bring the “lost” to the saving knowledge of Christ. All of us who are followers of Christ have this duty, especially in light of the events of recent days.

2 Timothy 4: 1-5 (NIV): In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

Please join me in continued prayer for our nation and for God’s forgiveness and healing.