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When The Going Gets Tough . . .

Sometimes things are overwhelming.  I’m am not talking about a busy schedule; I am talking about those things that happen when it seems like hope is lost. These moments are hard, and we tend to ask the question, “where is God?”  There is a simple answer to this question – He is right there with you.

We need look no farther than the account of Joseph in Genesis.  At times, things were pretty rough and overwhelming in Joseph’s life.  Where was God when Joseph’s brothers threw him into the pit?  Where was God when Joseph was sold into slavery?  Where was he when Joseph was falsely accused of an attempted rape?  Where was God as Joseph was innocently thrown in prison and then forgotten about?  Where was God?  Acts 7:9 tells us, “And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him.”

We live in a Genesis 3 world.  This means that everything around us is corrupted and tarnished by sin.  Evil takes place all around us because mankind rebels against the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, God.  Jesus told the disciples that they would have trouble in this world, but they were not to fear because he had overcome the world (John 16:33).

Are things overwhelming?  I want to encourage you to have hope.  I am not speaking of hope as if it is wishful thinking; I am talking about an anticipated certainty.  2 Corinthians 4:17-18 tells us, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Don’t lose heart.  I cannot promise you that your current situation will change, but I can promise you that if you lean into God and the truth of his love you will find hope.  This is because our momentary affliction is nothing compared to the eternal glory that awaits us.  Our circumstances do not change God’s love and purpose for our lives. We trust in God’s plan and we faithfully proclaim with Joseph that what is meant for evil, God intends for good (Gen. 50:30).

Our hope is in the Lord.  By the work of the Holy Spirit, through the redemption of Christ, God is bringing us to a place where his presence will be uninterrupted by sin.  Don’t let the current circumstances lose sight of your hope in Christ.  Remember that God is with you, even when you don’t see Him or feel Him.

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Speak Your Mind?

George Orwell wrote, “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”  Orwell not only acknowledged the power of thoughts through the expression of language, but that language has an effect on the things we think.  Orwell wasn’t the first to discover this relationship.  This view has a root in what the Bible teaches us about the things we think and say.

We all know people that pride themselves on speaking their mind, but not every thought we have is worthy of speech.  Why is this?  It’s because not every thought (or feeling for that matter) is good.  Our minds and our hearts struggle with sin daily and many times the things we think and feel do not bring glory to God.  We should not speak our mind or our feelings without filtering them through the truth of Scripture.  Sure, the idea of speaking our minds seems like a noble attribute of honesty, but is something noble if it is not right?

What does the Bible teach us about the things we think and say?  First, our hearts and minds are in the process of being transformed into the image of Christ.  Romans 12:2 tells us that our minds need to be renewed to know what is acceptable to God.  Meaning there is still work to do.  This journey is not complete until we die or Christ returns.  Scripture speaks in similar fashion about the heart.  Jeremiah 17:9 tells us the “heart is deceitful above all things.”  It is also something that must be daily purged of sinful desires.  So, not everything we think or feel is right.

Second, if the thought or feeling is not right we have a responsibility to capture that thought.  This one aspect of the message found in 2 Corinthians 10:5. We must evaluate our thoughts and feelings through the truthfulness of Scripture.  If it does not align with God, it should never make it past our lips.  We must stop it in the mind and if anything is spoken, it should be a rebuke of that thought or feeling.

Why is this battle of the mind so important?  Because our words have the ability to influence our own thoughts and the thoughts of others.  This takes us back to Orwell’s statement, but the Bible is also clear on this subject.  Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 12:36 that we would give an account on the day of judgement for every idle or careless word spoken. Don’t get caught speaking your mind or following your feelings unless they align with God’s word.  “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 (ESV)

This post was published in The Monitor of Naples, Texas, 5/12/2016.

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Where is God When It Hurts?

  No matter how many times it happens, it always amazes me how God orchestrates things in our lives.  Several weeks ago we started a sermon series in Malachi and since then we have been walking through this book.  I missed last Sunday because we were in Akron, and when I sat down this week to finish preparing, God let his glory show once again as I read this week’s passage.  I couldn’t make past one verse.

  In Malachi 2:17, a new section starts and as in other cases, it begins with a question and answer.  God tells the people that they have wearied him by their thoughts and this verse concludes with the question that had plagued the Israelites, “Where is the God of justice?”  They were God’s chosen people.  If this really was the case, why had they been conquered by empires and through the generations from Solomon to present been suppressed and oppressed by their rulers.  It seemed like God was on the side of the heathens, not his chosen people.  Now there were many things in the history of Israel that led to their situation in Malachi, but there question is legitimate and is in the hearts of many today.

  When we began to learn of all the problems Levi may have and were warned of the many complications that could accompany his birth, I was asked several times, why.  They thought that because I was a pastor, God wouldn’t let anything like this happen.  In their minds, these types of things only happen to people who defy God, not those that try to follow him.  I was even asked by one person that isn’t a Christian, where was God in all of this?  Did this situation not make me doubt?  I want to share from my heart.

  I praise God for what he has done in our family and how he has worked miracles in Levi’s life, but long before we had kids, Amy and I surrendered our lives to be used by God however he desired.  Where was God in this situation?  Everywhere!  Why was he allowing this to happen?  For his glory and purpose.  Over the past weeks we have been able to share Christ with many people.  And the way God has worked within us has poured out into the lives of others.  We were able to meet, share, and pray for people that we would have never met otherwise; thousands of people were united in prayer over the life of one little boy; time and time again God showed his provision; he challenged us to pray more; he challenged others to pray more; he granted peace beyond what the world can explain; we were brought to our knees and raise with hope; he was there the whole time!

  I am not sure what is happening in your life and the circumstances you are facing.  I don’t know what lies in your past or the deep wounds that haven’t been healed, but I know that God that loves you and cares for you, working all things out in the end.  As we have been studying through Malachi, it is easy to forget the beginning of the book.  Malachi 1:2, ” ‘I have loved you,’ says the Lord.”  How has he loved you?  John 3:16.  He loved you that much and no greater love has ever been shown, John 15:13.  As a believer, the Lord is our shepherd, what more could we want?  He is there when it hurts.  He is there when it seems like everything is going wrong.  He is there when the hope of the world has failed.  He is there in pain and he is there in sorrow.  He is there with comfort and he is there with open arms.  He is there with love; never let Satan convince you otherwise.  The joy of the morning always trumps the darkness of night.

Join us next Sunday as we look at the hope that is to come.

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Thankfulness

There are many things that I am thankful for this year.  If I were to ask you, some of you could give me a large list.  While on the other hand there are many of you that would simply state you have nothing to be thankful for.  Take a moment and write down the three things you are most thankful for this year.  I know this sound elementary, but sometimes we really need a reminder.  Now that you have written them down or at least acknowledged three, cross out one of them.  I know it is a hard choice, but do it anyway.  You see the thing we are thankful for are not always going to be with us.  I am thankful for my children, but I know they are going to turn into teenagers one day.  I will love them the same, but they will no longer be little.  Now that you have one of them marked off, look at the final two.  Yep, you know what I am going to ask you to do: mark another one off.  I know; it may seem like I am ruining your Thanksgiving spirit because I just asked you to mark out two of the three things I asked you to write down.  I promise you there is a point.

Look at this last item.  What is it?  What I want to share with you is that if it is not your relationship to God established through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, you are missing the one thing you should be most thankful for.  We rewind back to the Lord’s Supper in Luke 22:19-20.  Jesus told his disciples to “do this in remembrance of me.”  Isn’t it sad how quickly we forget.  We forget that Jesus Christ gave his life so that we could have eternal life.  Remember what Psalm 23:1 says? “The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.”  It is to this end that I ask you, what more is there to want?  Through Jesus Christ we have a Heavenly Father that provides everything we need.  Letting anything trump our thankfulness for this gift seems rather foolish.

This Thanksgiving I pray that you begin to see the true sacrifice of Christ and you let that take preeminence in your life, it comes first.  I pray that amid the hustle and bustle, the material fulfillment and the indulgence of food, you begin to be truly thankful for the grace we receive through faith.  If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9-10)  Live a great life of thankfulness.

Join us next Sunday @ 10:45 as we begin our new sermon series Unwrapping Christmas with The Integrity of Joseph.

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2010 in Uncategorized