God with us and for us

Romans 8:26-28, 31: In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?

So often, we only consider this present world that we live in. Through our trials, disappointments and struggles, we put our focus and energy on what can be seen and what we think we can control. We try to solve our problems on our own terms without pausing to consider what God might be trying to tell us. Of course, we are often too busy to allow God to speak to us and to guide our lives. We allow so many other preoccupations to compete for our attention and our focus turns away from an available and caring God. We tend to believe that it’s us against the world and we often forget that God is for us and with us, in times of need and in our daily walk with God.

As God’s children, we know there to be a future, unseen world that exists. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, wants us to understand that our hope is not found in the things of this world but in the world to come. As God’s children, heaven is our home; it is what we were created for. Possessions and wealth will come and go in this world but what we have waiting for us in heaven can never be taken away. Our hope is not found in the things of this world but in the world that is to come.

In this world, we are not what we will be in heaven; we are still in many ways weak and we often feel inadequate, especially when praying to God. So when we pray, we often do not know how to pray effectively or specifically what we should be praying for. That’s where the Holy Spirit takes control, giving meaning to our prayers by filling in the gaps and giving our prayers more depth and meaning. We may not know what we are praying for but the Spirit does and He lifts our prayers directly to God.

So whatever it is that you are struggling with today, at this very moment, take those worries and concerns to God. Ask the Holy Spirit to give words and meaning to your prayers as they are carried directly before God. If you feel overwhelmed and you aren’t sure what to pray for, don’t let that stop you from praying to God. God knows what you need and the Holy Spirit will lift up your prayers and will shape those prayers in ways that we as humans can’t begin to imagine.

 Jude 20: But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.

Worrying and Trusting

Matthew 6:34: Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I must admit that I have not followed the advice of Jesus lately on worrying about tomorrow. Over the last week, I have taken my problems and worries to bed with me and ended up awake well before morning. When we worry and focus on our problems rather than upon God, we end up not trusting in God and we fail to believe that He has our best interests in mind. Jesus doesn’t suggest that God will solve our problems quickly or that God will solve our problems in the manner that we request. Our duty to God is to trust and have faith that the challenges we face and endure will make us stronger followers of Christ. Paul, in Romans 5: 3-4 reminds us that, “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” The Christian hope is trusting and believing that one day we will be delivered from our suffering and better understand God’s plan.

Many times, it’s difficult if not impossible, for us to understand how some present suffering could produce these qualities that Paul writes about. It’s equally difficult to endure these periods of doubt and hurt as we wonder when our situation in life will begin to improve. We begin to doubt that God is watching over us and working behind the scenes to get us to a better place. That is the work of the evil one, putting doubt and fear in our mind and heart. Satan’s main objective is to destroy our faith and trust in God.

This past week I have tried to begin each day by thanking God for all of the many blessings that He has given me. My family is one of my greatest blessings and I strive to be more mindful to realize every day how blessed I am because of my family. I am also thankful for the health and safety of my family as well. Focusing on the many ways that God cares for my family helps to ease my worrying.

Ultimately, I know that God is in control of my life and as a believer in Christ; I am assured that my present suffering will lead to the hope, the promise of an eternal life in the presence of God. And there will be no more suffering or pain because the worries and hurts of this world will no longer exist. In the meantime, help me to trust you God and to have an even greater faith that your way is best.

 

Count Your Many Blessings

Luke 17:11-19: Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

I had the opportunity to preach at my home church yesterday and I am thankful that I was able to give a sermon on being thankful and counting our many blessings. Three important points to consider are 1) be thankful even in the midst of difficult circumstances, 2) Praise God while pausing to count your many blessings, 3) Let your praise and thankfulness lead to action.

We are over a month away from Thanksgiving but being thankful is something that we as followers of Christ should strive to be every day. Being thankful should be the guiding force behind the way that we conduct ourselves and live out our everyday lives. It’s easy to praise God when things are going great – although we tend to forget about God when things are going really well. But it takes true faith to thank God and praise God in those instances when your life seems to be falling apart.

I know that so many of you feel overwhelmed with all that you have going on in your life and it just seems that there is never enough time to slow down and have some quiet moments with God. Life moves at a frantic pace and it becomes easy for us to focus on our problems instead of praising God for our many blessings.

In Luke’s Gospel account of the ten lepers, we see that they had to take a step of faith, to start walking in order for the healing to take place. Many times we must also take a step of faith and trust God in order for our own circumstances or situations in life to change. A believer that possesses a true faith will give praise and thanks to God even in the midst of life’s trials and challenges. If we only praised God when we feel blessed and everything seems to be going our way, well that would not be faith. Faith is praising God and thanking God even in the midst of life’s sorrows and hardships.

Many of you are worried, tired, and weary at this very moment. You are living a life that is ruled by stress and a feeling of just being overwhelmed. You pray for enough strength to face the many challenges in life. You pray for strength to just make it through the day! With so much worry and anxiety present in our lives we often fail to stop and count the many blessings that God has so graciously given us. Giving praise to God is also called worship. Make an effort to slow down at some point this week and praise and thank God for the many blessings that you do have. This is called worship and that is what God so greatly desires from His children.

One of the lepers came back to Jesus and he gave thanks and praise to God. In the midst of the joy of being healed, this man stopped, turned around and came back to thank Jesus and praise God. His thankfulness led to action! This man’s praise and thankfulness to God is evident when Jesus tells him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” A more literal translation would be, “your faith has saved you.”

What kind of action is God asking you to take today? Is the Holy Spirit placing something on your heart, calling you to help someone in need or to serve others in some way that gives honor and praise to God? Is there something that you feel compelled to do? If you believe that God is calling you to take action -then do it! Take that step of faith and be certain that your thankfulness leads to action.

 Being thankful is not just reserved for Thanksgiving Day. Praising and worshipping God is not just reserved for Sunday morning. Being thankful and then acting on that gratitude is the ultimate way to give honor and praise to God for all of the many blessings that He has given you.