Celebrating God’s Goodness

people-celebrating-1202x500When David wrote Psalm 62, he was in a desperate situation.  Men, who were full of evil, were scheming against  David, and even threatening to kill him.

David did what he usually did when he found himself in dire straits, he looked to God for help. Psalm 62:7-8, gives you a glimpse into the mind of this troubled king, and reveals his concept of God:

In God is my salvation and my glory;

The rock of my strength,

And my refuge, is in God.

Trust in Him at all times, you people;

Pour out your heart before Him;

God is a refuge for us.

Notice the first word in each of the last three lines:

  • Trust: You are to trust God in the good times as well as the bad.
  • Pour: Instead of trying to fight your battles by yourself, confide in God and pour your heart out to Him in prayer.
  • God: To really comprehend this verse, you need to make four sentences out of it, and contemplate each one of them:
    1. God (Creator of Heaven and Earth)
    2. God is (Not was; He is a present tense God)
    3. God is a refuge (Fortress and place of safety)
    4. God is a refuge for us. The Creator of all is always present as a fortress to meet your personal needs)

Celebrate the goodness of God today and praise Him because He is your salvation and your glory; the rock of your strength, and He is your refuge.

The TGIF Zone

thank-god-its-p6f715There are some weeks that by the time Friday rolls around, I need to get a little boost to finish the week.  I want to share a little booster  that’s tucked away in the Old Testament.  It’s like drinking a rejuvenating cup of spiritual adrenaline:

“For you are a holy people belonging to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be His own possession out of all the peoples on the face of the earth (Deuteronomy 7:6).”

When you listen to its uplifting theme, this TGIF Booster might make you crow like a rooster. Look at this dynamic definition of your righteous relationship with God:

  • You belong to God.
  • You are special because He has chosen you.
  • You are one of His prized possessions.

Isn’t this enough to make you click your heels together; shake off your mental malaise; and praise God?

Let me affirm what’s already been said: “Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture (100:3).”  This verse clarifies and verifies who you are:  You are His; you are made by Him; and, He cares for you like a shepherd does his sheep.

When God purchased you it’s not because He was looking for a bargain and you had been discontinued and discounted.  No, you’re valuable, and He paid a premium to purchase you:  “You are not your own, for you were bought at a price, so glorify God in your body (I Corinthians 6:20).”

Not only can you TGIF, but you can also TGFF.  You can Thank God For the Friday that He paid the price for your redemption through the death of Jesus.

Don’t moan about the day: own the day.  You’ve entered the TGIF zone.

Will You Rise Above?

riseabove Some people allow their life to be defined by  failure.  Others learn valuable lessons from their  failures and even see them as a blessing from:    Chuck Colson is one of these people, and he  recognized the benefits of his burdens:

The real legacy of my life was my biggest failure.  Being sent to prison was the beginning of God’s greatest use of my life!

Colson’s life was a living example of something that Billy Graham said: “Mountaintops are for views and inspiration, but fruit is grown in the valleys.”  Colson had lived the mountaintop experience as Attorney General during the Nixon administration.  When the Watergate scandal forced the resignation of President Nixon, Colson was sent to prison for the role he played in that fiasco.

During the valley years of his incarceration, Colson became a Christian, and God eventually spoke to him about the many and varied needs of his fellow inmates.  Colson would later start Prison Fellowship as an outreach ministry inside prison walls throughout the country:  This is the fruit that started to grow during Colson’s valley years.

Society is often premature in its attempt to label a person a failure.  Let me give you a couple of examples:

  • Daniel Defoe wrote Robin Crusoe while he was in prison.
  • John Bunyan wrote the Christian classic, The Pilgrim’s Progress, while in the Bedford jail.
  • While he was confined in the castle of Wartburg, Martin Luther translated the Bible.

The hopes and dreams of each of these people were shattered; but, they refused to wallow in self-pity.  Seeing their faith, God turned their tragedy into triumph and their burdens into blessings.

History is full of examples of people who defied the odds and overcame their failure.  B.C. Forbes has said:

History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed.  They finally won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.  disappointments acted as a challenge.  Don’t let difficulties discourage you.

Tragedies and trials are experienced by everyone at some time in their lives.  I want to make sure you understand that last sentence, so I’ll repeat three of the words:  “experienced by everyone.”    When you go through your time of personal sorrow, loss, or disappointment, remember that this is not an experience that is unique to you—it is universal in its scope.

As a Christian, Jesus has promised to walk with you through the hard times.  He said:  “Come to me, all of you who are weary and over-burdened, and I will give you rest! Put on my yoke and learn from me. I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls, and my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).”

The Week That Was

159-pack13-021514-tmFriday at last! So, how has your week gone? Has it been a week of daily delights or has it been a bit different?

Was it one of those weeks where you felt like you’ve been drop-kicked through the goal post of life; bounced, like a basketball, off the hardwood floors of adversity; or, one in which the time of day never mattered because no one would give you a second of their time?

Life alone can be like that, but life aside of Jesus can be much different. Whenever you think that no one will give you a second of their time, remember that Jesus has given you His life and a promise of eternity in Heaven.

The rejection you feel from time to time—Jesus knows all about it. Remember He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and very familiar with our grief; and, for the joy of obtaining the prize that was set before Him, Jesus endured the cross (Isaiah 53, Hebrews 12:2).

So, the next time you feel rejected, remember you are accepted in Jesus. To Him, you are a keeper—a “prize” that He cherishes.

And the adversity you face—you never have to go it alone because He has promised to never leave you or forsake you. The invitation is to come along side of Him, so He can ease your burden and carry your load.

You can find some comfort and reassurance in the words of Paul: “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.”

Here’s a verse or two to get you through today and to think about over the weekend: “Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will not be shaken. My salvation and glory depend on God, my strong rock. My refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is our refuge.”

The Trials and Trails of Life

Trials and trails and are similar in appearance, but they are words with different  meanings.  The key to understanding the definition of these two words is the location of the “I” within their context.

I have walked many trails that have been pleasurable experiences. I have also encountered several trails in my life that were full of trials.

When a person finds himself on a trail that is suddenly full of trials,  life can be rather confusing.  This was the case with King David, when he said: I tried to understand all this; it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood . . . (Psalm 73).

Remember what I said earlier about  the “I” context and how it can change the meaning of a word?  When David tried to understand the context of his life from just an “I” or “Me” perspective, his perception was sadly lacking.

David’s comprehension of the situation changed when he took an eternal perspective on the trials he was facing.  The “I” in his context became “not I,” “not me, me ,me,” but instead it became “Thee and Thy will for me.”

There will be times in our life when nothing makes sense.  The trail will seem too steep to climb and too long to endure. In times like these, we need to do what David did:  We need to turn to God.  David realized that God had already walked the trail that was before him:  When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then You knew my path (Psalm 142:3).

When thinking about the trails he had taken and the trials he had experienced, the Apostle Paul wrote:  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

If you are presently walking a trail full of trials, let me remind you of a couple of things:

1.  God never leads His children down the wrong path,

2.  While you may not know where the path will lead you, God does.

3.  Even though you may be confused, but God is never confounded.

4.  God is present in your trial and will comfort you, and if you will allow Him to do He will use  you to comfort someone else.

I hope this is enough to keep you thinking.

Is It Who or Which?

For sake of clarity, some new verisons of the Bible have made their appearance on the shelves of bookstores.  An example of this is the New Kings James Version (NJKV).  It is an update of the King James Version(KJV) that was printed in 1611.  The KJV had quite a few archaic words that were updated in the NKJV.

This attempt at clarity has muddied the waters in a few places.  Phillipians 4:13 is one such case:  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (KJV).  In the NKJV which has been updated and changed to who (Christ who strengthens me).

While there is truth to both the KJV and the NKJV, I believe the use of who misses the point of Paul’s teachings.  No one doubts that we find strength in the who of Jesus Christ; however, the point is we are strengthened in the which or the doing of the Christian experience.

Case in point is the time Jesus went to the mountain to pray and the disciples went to the sea of Galilee to fish.  While He was engaging in prayer, the raging sea was about to swamp their boat.  This was a learning lab that involved 9 hours of whiching that would prepare them for future endeavors.

The design of the lesson was to teach them that Jesus is present even in the storms of life.  As He was drawing near to the boat, He saw them cowering in fear.  He quieted their fears, and calmed the sea with a few words:  Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.

Notice that Jesus said, It is I–present tense.  He is not a has-been-god of the past, or a hope-so-god of the future.  As Pslam 23 says, He is present–The Lord is my shepherd . . .

Here is a thought to keep you thinking.  It is the heartache of the past and the trials of the present that which you into shape to face the future.