God I Need You!

Today, I needed God a little more than I normally do. I always need God, but I went through some things today that made me realize that, with God, I can endure and overcome anything. When I feel hopeless and helpless, God reminds me that – with Him – all things are possible. When I say to God, “I just can’t do this on my own,” he is there to supply my every need. Philippians 4:19: And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Do you trust in God with all your heart and with your very being? When I try to lean on my own understanding, I usually (always) fail. Trusting in God is sometimes difficult because we think that we can figure a better way out of our predicament. In times like these, we usually learn the difficult lesson that we should place our faith and trust in God, first and foremost. Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Life brings so many worries and concerns to our doorsteps; it seems, on a daily basis. As believers we are not promised a life free from the problems and anxieties of life. We are promised however, that we can take all of our worries and our concerns to God. He will ease our burdens and teach us to release our anxieties and troubles over to Him. 1 Peter 5:7: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Psalm 55:22: Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.

When faced with disappointment and troubles, we can turn to this world for answers and comfort, or, we can call upon God. The Bible tells us that we can approach God’s throne of grace confidently and we will be given mercy and grace to help us in our time of despair and uncertainty. Hebrews 4:16: Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 13:6: So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

As believers and followers of Christ, we are to rejoice in the Lord, in good times and especially in difficult times. Paul tells the Philippians to “rejoice always.” Not when you feel like it or only when things in life are going your way – but rather “always.” God is pleased when we thank Him even in the midst of trials. If we give thanks to God in all situations and we pray to God in good times and bad times, He will give us a peace that our human minds cannot begin to comprehend. Philippians 4:4-7: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

 

“The Earth is Full of His Glory”

Isaiah 6:3: And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Psalm 19:1: The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Psalm 24:1-2: The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.

Psalm 33:13-14: From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth.

I don’t know what you are facing as you read this devotional. Many of you may be facing pain and hurt that is brought on by the ones you love the most. There are many who are facing serious health issues and your worries seem to only grow larger. Some of you may be facing severe difficulties at your job, with demands that are completely unrealistic, and pressures that are escalating with each passing day. Many of you are worried about making ends meet and how to put away enough for the future. Our worries and our fears can be overwhelming, if we allow them to.

Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, warns us about excessive worrying. “Who by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27). Jesus goes on to tell us that if we seek God’s kingdom first, then all of our worries will be taken care of. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). When I worry, I have to stop and remind myself that God is in control.

Tonight, I was able to do that by focusing on just who God is – our creator. When I think of the beauty of the earth and the universe that He has created, I find a certain calm reassurance. My problems seem so insignificant in the grand scheme of things and I am able to focus on God and His awesome power. God created the earth and everything in it belongs to Him, we are His creation. God looks down from heaven and he watches over all of us who live on this earth. God is with those of us who believe and trust in him. 2 Chronicles 16:9: For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

Prayer: Thank you God, for this world that you created. Help each of us to see your glory, here in our earthly home. You made the earth and you made each one of us. Grant us peace and reassurance as we believe the promise that you continually watch over us and strengthen us. Amen.

 

 

Raising Good Christian Kids

Proverbs 22:6 (KJV): Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Joshua 24:15 (NIV): But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to raise good Christian kids in this world that we live in, but it’s certainly not impossible. We want our children to follow the teachings of Christ and we also want to be good role models for them by living out our life of faith in the best way possible. Parents today must invest a tremendous amount of time with their children and be available to talk with them about what’s going on in their lives. Keeping the lines of communication open is a crucial part of knowing what you child is thinking. Simply asking questions about your child’s day can lead to further discussion and questions that they would not ask otherwise.

The scripture from Proverbs 22:6 is a verse that I often remember when faced with child rearing dilemmas as a parent. We absolutely must teach our kids the correct way to live out their life of faith as a Christian. And Christian parents must not only teach the correct way to live, they must also genuinely live out their life of faith so that they set a good example for their children to follow. As a parent, how many times have our actions failed to be consistent with our words? 

As human beings, there will be many occasions when we will make mistakes and fail to set a good example for our children to follow. However, if we are doing a good job of teaching our kids the right way to live, they will usually call us out on our mistakes. That’s when our own faults become a teaching moment with our children. We have to be honest and admit our mistake(s). We must then have a truthful and straightforward talk with them about why our own behavior was not pleasing to God. I believe that our children respect our honesty and learn a valuable lesson in the discussion that follows.

Too often we allow the world that we live in to “teach” our children and impress upon them the wrong message. A parent must be tuned in to all of the many things that compete for our children’s attention. Parents are busy, so we allow the internet, television, and other forms of entertainment to instill in our children, ideas and beliefs that are not consistent with our Christian faith. If we allow those ideas and beliefs to go unchallenged, we should not be surprised when our children look to the “world” for help in solving their problems, instead of turning to their parents and God.

Proverbs 20:11: Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.

As parents, my wife and I have made many mistakes in raising our own children. We continue to grow and learn from those mistakes as we strive to be better parents. Setting the proper example for our kids to emulate is important to us. While we are certainly not perfect, we want our children to know that we put God first in our house. We pray before we eat, whether at home or eating out, because we must remind ourselves that God provides for us on a daily basis. Our family believes in God and we trust God to provide for us and guide us in our life of faith. Although we can’t predict what will happen tomorrow, we know that God watches over us and lovingly cares for our family. And every day, we pause to thank God for all of our many blessings.

We live in a world that is uncertain and unpredictable. There is rampant sin and violence, it seems, almost everywhere. Families are being torn apart and children are being left to figure things out on their own and to grow up too quickly. Families are under attack, and many are in a hopeless state of mind, as they desperately search for answers. It’s not too late to decide who your family will serve. Will your family stand up and declare that your household will serve the Lord? Raising our children is not an easy task. It takes a commitment from parents, extended family, church family, neighbors and other loved ones who want to see our children and our families thrive. But first and foremost, we must help our children to understand why God is given the highest priority in our household. And we must not only give lip service to that, we must live it as an example for our children to follow.

May God’s rich blessings and His strong presence be upon you and your family.

 

 

 

Living By Faith

Hebrews 11:1,6: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

2 Corinthians 5:7: For we live by faith, not by sight.

The Apostle Paul writes, “We live by faith, not by sight.” How many times do we find ourselves asking God for a visible sign so that we can more easily understand what is happening in our lives? Sometimes, it’s ok to ask God to provide reassurance, to let us know that we are on the right path. Most of us certainly want to believe that we are following God’s will for our lives. There are other occasions however, when God simply wants us to trust Him, even when everything around us seems to be falling apart. Through our many trials and struggles, we come to the realization of our need to fully trust and believe in God. Our trust and faith allows God’s power to be made evident. We can’t seem to manage or resolve the many problems and trials that life sends our way, but God can.

Often, we try to find the quickest or easiest solution to the problems we face. We have been conditioned to think that we can solve our own difficulties. We may turn to self-help books or people that are “experts” in understanding the psychology of our situation. Precious time is spent seeking a human solution that will address our problem or fulfill a need. Countless hours are spent analyzing our present condition in hopes of finding an answer to our mounting worry and distress. We wonder how we have come to be in our current predicament instead of trusting that we are exactly where God wants us to be. Trusting in God, whom you can’t see, is a necessary and true mark of faith. It is through that “trust” that God’s power is made evident.

Do you believe that God is capable of answering you when you pray? Bear in mind that often our prayers go unanswered, or they are answered in a different way, because God knows what is best for us at this particular moment in our life. We think we know our needs but we are frequently misguided or mislead in our limited thinking. Too frequently in our society today, I am finding that many “believers” doubt, or don’t fully trust in the power of God to answer our prayers. And we often make the mistake of believing that our prayers have gone unanswered when we don’t get our way.

The following is a story that helps to illustrate the power of prayer and the faith required to trust God completely.

Hebrews chapter 11 is often called the Heroes of Faith chapter, because it lists believers who firmly decided to place their faith and trust in God. They had the faith to believe that God did exist and that He would reward those who placed their faith and trust in Him. They knew the truth that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” Noah had faith even when “warned about things not yet seen” (Hebrews 11:7). Abraham obeyed God when he was called to go by faith to a land that he knew nothing about (Hebrews 11:8). God’s people are to wait, as patiently as possible, and to live by faith.

Do you have the necessary faith to trust God and believe that your faith can move you towards the place where God wants you to be? Do you have doubts today that God can take your present situation and transform it into something better? If you do, I pray that God will give you what you need to believe. With God, nothing is impossible if you have faith. My prayer is that God will give you the faith to believe and to place your trust in Him. Seek and trust in God, who alone can bring hope, healing, and transformation.

Thanking God For Problems

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.”

Have you ever thanked God for your problems? If we are honest, most of us don’t even consider that we should thank God for our problems. When difficult circumstances come our way we usually try to handle things on our own. We think that we are somehow better equipped to solve our own problems rather than turning them over to God. Yes, the same God who created the universe in all its splendor, and who created each one of us. Our problems, we think, are bigger than God.

In John 16:33, Jesus is preparing his disciples for his death. He tells them that a time is coming when they will abandon Jesus and be scattered because they fear the powers of this world. And then Jesus tells them something that can help each of us today. He says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Do you see the connection? The world is full of trouble, it is inevitable. We can’t escape trouble as followers of Christ. However, in Christ, we can find peace because Christ has defeated sin and death and He has overcome the world!

The last three weeks for me have been very grueling and I have been confronted with problem after problem. For three weeks, I have tried to solve each one of my problems on my own, without any help from God. I did manage to spend a good amount of time in prayer to God asking for help, but I have failed to fully trust in his answer and in his timing, and have proceeded to take matters into my own hands. And the results have not been good!

I am familiar with and know many verses of scripture that speak to how we should approach the troubles of this world. Paul in his letter to the Philippians writes: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). In EVERY situation, both good and bad, give thanks FIRST to God. And my favorite verse of peace and comfort in times of trouble is found in John 14:27 when Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” I know the promise of scripture and the truth of God, but I still tried to handle things in my own power instead of giving my problems over to God and allowing Him to take control.

Yesterday, at the end of a very difficult week, I opened up a book that a dear friend gave me at the end of last year. It is a daily devotional book that is entitled, Jesus Calling. When I opened the book to the May 10 devotional, I knew that God was about to get my full attention. The first two sentences read, “Do not resist or run from the difficulties in your life. These problems are not random mistakes; they are hand-tailored blessings designed for your benefit and growth. Embrace all the circumstances that I allow in your life, trusting Me to bring good out of them. View problems as opportunities to rely more fully on Me.” (Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young, p. 137).

So in this coming week, I am determined to look at my problems or difficulties as blessings, designed for my development and growth. And I am going to remember to give praise and thanks to God, not only for my blessings, but also for my problems. Instead of allowing myself to focus on my problems, I am going to trust that God is going to make me a better follower of Christ, and a better man, by enduring life’s challenges and difficulties. With God as my creator, Christ as my redeemer, and the Holy Spirit as my sustainer, I can be more prepared and better equipped to face the certain troubles of this world.

There is a verse of a song that I often remember when faced with troubles or trials. (Through It All by Selah)

“So I thank God for the mountains
And I thank Him for the valleys
I thank Him for the storms He’s brought me through
Cause if I never had a problem
I wouldn’t know that He could solve them
I wouldn’t know what faith in His Word could do”

 

Overcoming Trials and Temptations

Matthew 4:1-4: Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Jesus is our only model for successfully overcoming temptation. In Matthew’s Gospel, immediately after his baptism, we find that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil (Mt. 4:1). This temptation came after Jesus went without food for forty days and nights. He was hungry and at his weakest point. We know from our own life experiences that Satan will usually attack us when we are most vulnerable. Like Jesus, we can overcome temptation by relying on scripture to defend against attacks by the evil one.

What can we do to resist and overcome temptation? Jesus used his knowledge of scripture to remain strong in the face of temptation. Jesus studied and memorized Hebrew Scripture and he used that knowledge to answer and thwart the attacks of the evil one. Can you call upon Scripture to help you when facing adversity or temptation from the devil?

“Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).

Do you try to resist temptation or do you give into it without a struggle? Most people would admit that they often give themselves over to temptation without putting up much of a fight. We often fool ourselves (or we allow the devil to mislead us) and say that we will stop this type of behavior tomorrow or next week. Temptation can swallow us when we are at our weakest point, when we find it easier to give into our desires rather than fight against them. This is when we truly find out what we are made of and how strong our relationship and faith is in God.

1 Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

C.S. Lewis in his book, Mere Christianity (p.126) writes: “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means—the only complete realist.”

Matthew 4: 8-11: Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

In this final temptation, Satan basically offers Jesus a way to have everything without having to suffer on the cross. How did the Son of God respond to the devil? He again quoted scripture when he said, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only” (Mt. 4:10b). Jesus recalls Moses’ command to the Israelites to serve God alone. And then Jesus tells Satan to take a hike! Jesus says, “Away from me, Satan!” (Mt. 4:10). And Matthew’s Gospel tells us that the devil left him.

James 4:7 (NIV) Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

When faced with temptation, will you choose the path of least resistance or will you call upon scripture and the example of Jesus to help you overcome your temptations? Will you choose to allow the devil to separate you from God or will you seek God and place your faith and trust in Him? Jesus shows us that we can follow the path of faith and be assured of God’s presence and power to overcome temptation.

Are you struggling with temptation? If you are, you are not alone. I encourage you to follow the example of Jesus. Read the Bible, memorize scripture, pray to God and find the deep faith and strength that only God can provide to resist the devil.

Ephesians 6: 10-13: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.