A Gentle Answer

Proverbs 15:1 (NASB): A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Have you ever had one of those weeks where it seems that you face a barrage of harsh words or comments? And as you endure and are exposed to those comments, what is your response? You go about your day trying to glorify God in all that you do and you are met with so much resistance and with words that often hurt very deeply. Again, what is your response? Instead of responding out of anger, try responding with a gentle answer. A gentle answer will help to cleanse you of any bitterness or vengeance that you may have.

The word “harsh” literally can be defined as “painful.”  We all know how painful certain words can be and we also know the power that hurtful words can have on us – IF we allow them to. We can certainly make the choice to allow those words to hurt us and ruin our day. We can also make the choice to ask God for peace in dealing with those words and for forgiveness for the person who uttered those words. We can either wallow in our misery and vengeance or we can ask God to clear our mind of those negative thoughts and live out our daily life to the fullest.

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10 NASB).  God wants us to live a full life that gives complete honor and glory to him and to our Savior, Christ Jesus. The best way to do that is to forgive, and to show love, mercy, and compassion to everyone we encounter. May the peace of Christ and the mercy of God be with you today!

My Trust Is In God

I absolutely love this song from Lauren Daigle entitled, “Trust In You.” I debated whether or not to only post the song because the lyrics about trusting in God are just so perfect. So I decided to only include some scripture from the Book of Psalm, so that you can listen to the song and the lyrics, and then meditate on the scripture. I truly hope this song and the scripture blesses you as much as it did me this morning.

Psalm 9:10 NIV: Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

  • God is faithful to those who love him and trust in him. This doesn’t imply that we will not face difficulties or disappointments in life, because we certainly will. This scripture reminds us that God is always present with us in good times and in difficult times and he will guide us through those trying times if we will only trust him.

Psalm 22:4 NIV: In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.

Do you trust God to deliver you from whatever circumstances you find yourself in?

Psalm 25:1 NIV: In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.

  • Do you trust God with your very life and allow him to help you navigate the many uncertain decisions and challenging moments that everyday life sends your way? Do you trust God even when there is not an answer to your prayers or the answer is no?

Psalm 49:6 NIV: those who trust in their wealth and boast of their great riches?

  • Do you place your trust in your bank account or material goods or do you trust in God for things that are eternal? The things of this world will pass away but the promises of God are eternal.

Psalm 62:8 NIV: Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

  • Whatever life sends your way – trust in God – and look to him as your safe haven from the worries, fears, and uncertainty of this world. Pray and talk to God and tell him your worries and fears and allow his loving presence and mercy to overwhelm you and wash away your doubts and fears.

 

Doing The Very Next Thing

My son-in-law John sent me a message telling me about this song from Casting Crowns called, “The Very Next Thing,” and he suggested that I do a devotional on this topic. Immediately, I loved this idea of doing the very next thing that God places in front of you. So often we focus on long-term goals and we miss out on so many opportunities that are placed directly in our path. If we would only slow down and pay attention to those many divinely appointed moments that we so often overlook and miss out upon, because our eyes are fixed so far ahead. God often speaks and works through us in the many common moments of life.

In the Great Commission, Jesus emphasized this to his disciples. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). In other words, as you go, make disciples! Jesus didn’t say, “Make disciples from the comfort of your sofa at home or your pew at church, instead, we are commanded to pay attention to the people and the circumstances that God puts in our path and we are to faithfully disciple and show love and compassion to others. As you go and do the very next thing – be faithful to God and by showing the love of Christ, you can lead people to Christ and make disciples.

We have so many opportunities each day to do the very next thing that God places before us. My question to you is will you strive to be mindful of the very next thing placed before you and take advantage of those opportunities? As you go to school, to work, to the gym, to the grocery or drug store, will you look for the very next thing God is asking you to do and be faithful and do it? There are so many people who could benefit from you doing the very next thing that God is calling you to do and you could make such a huge difference in the life of someone who needs to be pointed to the love and compassion of Christ.

One of my favorite parts of scripture is when Jesus ascends back into heaven in the book of Acts. Jesus was speaking to his disciples and suddenly he was “taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight” (Acts 1:9). So the disciples are standing there, “looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:10-11).

The two men (angels) dressed in white were calling the disciples to take their attention away from the sky and turn their attention to the earth where there was plenty of work still to be accomplished. They also had to be reminded of their obedience to doing the very next thing that God would place before them. And that is a great example for us today. We so often look ahead and imagine the great things God would have us to do when God is simply saying – just be faithful and do well the very next thing that I place in your path. More often than not, these divinely appointed experiences will be something that you would not have normally felt compelled to do, in your daily walk with God. So let the Holy Spirit guide you and lead you into doing the very next thing that God asks you to do. If you do, you will be blessed and you will also be a blessing to others – as you do the very next thing.

God The Father

As I think about and pray for our nation, I have been reminded many times today that God is still on his throne and He is still in control of this tumultuous world that we live in. My hope lies not in a political leader or entertainer or sports hero: my only hope is found in God the Father, and I only pray that our nation will repent of our many sins and turn back to God and acknowledge him, as the only hope that we can truly believe in and depend upon.

I read a comment today that said, “God can’t change circumstances in our country, only people can.” And that is sadly what is wrong with our country today. We have become such proud, stubborn people who believe more in our own power than the power of God. All Christians must begin to stand up and proclaim God as the ultimate authority and ruler of our lives. The voices of many believers can be very powerful and we must take seriously our responsibility to God and to our Lord and Savior to proclaim the good news of the Gospel. I urge you to continue to pray for our nation to repent, and to once again, look to God to lead us as a nation.

Matthew 7:9-11(NASB): Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, ]will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!


 

God’s Great Grace

2 Corinthians 12:8-9: Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

We must learn to depend completely upon God instead of our own feeble and insufficient power. When we come to terms with our weaknesses and limitations and cry out to God, we receive grace that is sufficient for whatever difficulties we face.

Hebrews 4:16: Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Life brings so many frustrating and tiresome challenges and we often feel discouraged and overwhelmed by life’s difficulties. Instead of looking to the things of this world for peace and comfort, we are reminded to turn to God’s throne of grace, where we will receive the mercy and grace we need in our time of need.

1 Peter 5:10:  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

Sometimes we feel that God is so far away and is unconcerned about our human condition. We must remember that God’s presence is always with us as we  journey through life on this earth. This passage reminds us that in life we will face times of suffering but those times will not last forever. Our mighty God, who gives us the free gift of salvation and who calls us to eternal glory in Christ, will heal, restore, and strengthen us so we can show others the way to everlasting life.

John 1:14: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The disciples testified to the “Word” becoming flesh and dwelling among them. Jesus Christ, the Son of God and our Savior, exemplifies grace and truth. As His disciples, we are also called to demonstrate grace and truth to those we encounter out in the world. Jesus displayed love and compassion to those he came into contact with and he expects us to do the same. This fallen world seems to grow darker with each passing day. As followers of Christ, we are commanded to take the light of Christ and his eternal kingdom out into the world each day as we reflect the grace, mercy, and truth of the Gospel.

May the peace and grace of God be with you today and everyday.

 

 

 

Praying For Our Nation

I began my morning doing something I don’t normally do – listening to the morning news on television. And after my youngest daughter walked into the room, I had to turn the channel because of what was being discussed. As our country descends into a moral abyss, I refuse to let the current issues and sensational “news” stories of the day, control or influence our family life and our dedication to God. I will continue to remind my children, that the God we believe in and serve, is still on his throne and “He rules the world in righteousness” (Psalm 9:8).

Psalm: 9:15-18(NASB):

The nations have sunk down in the pit which they have made;
In the net which they hid, their own foot has been caught.
16 The Lord has made Himself known;
He has executed judgment.
In the work of his own hands the wicked is snared.

17 The wicked will return to Sheol,
Even all the nations who forget God.
18 For the needy will not always be forgotten,
Nor the hope of the afflicted perish forever.

As many in our nation move farther away from God’s will for their lives, we must continue to pray for a revival to sweep through our nation and turn our hearts back to God before it is too late. I fear that our once great nation is at a crossroads. It is crucial that we choose the right path, repent of our sinful ways, and seek God’s forgiveness.

2 Peter 3:8-9: But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Do Not Be Discouraged

Exodus 6:6-12

6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. 7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.’”9 Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor.10 Then the Lord said to Moses, 11 “Go, tell Pharaoh King of Egypt to let the Israelites go out of his country.”12 But Moses said to the Lord, “If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?”

I am teaching the book of Exodus in Sunday school, and I find myself gaining new insights as I study this great book of the Bible. Tonight, as I was re-reading a previous chapter of Exodus, I came across a passage that spoke strongly to me: “Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor” (Exodus 6:9).

So many people today are struggling with their labors. It doesn’t matter what you do for a living, most people I know feel the daily pressures of their work. Some people handle that stress well but there are also many who do not. Even people that are retired can become easily discouraged trying to make ends meet or worrying about increasing health concerns. Students can face discouragement from many directions as they try to plan their future and learn to trust God and seek His guidance. All of us face those seasons of discouragement many times throughout our lives. The way to overcoming these moments of discouragement is found in taking our problems and worries directly to God and believing in God’s promise that we need not worry about things that are beyond our control.

Moses was attempting to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, but he was in for a great challenge. The children of Israel had been in slavery in Egypt for 430 years and they were discouraged and had probably lost all hope for freedom. Being in bondage to the Egyptians was all that they knew and they seemed to prefer what was known (being in bondage) instead of trusting the God of their ancestors and being obedient to Him. They would not even listen to Moses “because of their discouragement and harsh labor.” Sometimes, we prefer the known suffering, instead of praying to God for a way out of our discouragement and burdens.

Satan constantly tries to plant seeds of doubts and discouragement in the minds of believers today. He wants to prevent us from trusting God and he ultimately wants to destroy our reliance upon God and our relationship with God. Satan wants us to believe that we are better off trusting in our own power instead of God’s unlimited power. The evil one wants us to look to the things of this world to fulfill our needs and desires so that we will be filled with a false hope. Satan’s ultimate goal is to cause us to become so preoccupied with worry, doubt, and discouragement that we either won’t think about God or we will come to believe that our problems are bigger than God.

Because of their discouragement and harsh labor, the Israelites didn’t/wouldn’t/couldn’t listen to Moses – God’s appointed deliverer to his chosen people. Their discouragement kept them from trusting God for a way out of their burdensome troubles. Even after leaving Egypt and witnessing many miraculous signs, they still refused to trust God and longed to once again become slaves in Egypt.

Jesus said:

  • “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).”
  • “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 (John 16:33).”
  • “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10).”

God wants you to trust Him and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and then follow him. You can trust the Good Shepherd to strengthen your faith and to lead you into a good life that is free of unnecessary worries, burdens and discouragement. Seek God throughout the day and trust in His power to lift you up from your valley of heavy burdens, hard labor, and discouragement. Believe in the power of God which is so much greater than all of your heavy burdens that you constantly carry around.

In this life, we will have troubles and discouragement; that is something none of us can completely escape. Instead of allowing our troubles and discouragement to overwhelm us, we must seek God for help in dealing with our burdens. God can give you a peace of mind, as He guides you through your labors in this world, while giving you a hope and a promise of a future day when all of the discouragement and harsh labor of this world will cease to exist.

2 Corinthians 4:17: For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.