Tag Archives: trusting God

How Much Is It Worth?

2 Corinthians 8-9

The TRUTH of God’s Word must be shared. It’s urgent. We see so many Christians, so many churches, stepping away from God’s Word, and the result is evident today in our ever increasingly perverted society. It is frightening.

Christians are leaving churches where the Gospel is preached, and are attending the churches that make them feel good, make them feel spiritual and religious. They don’t have to repent of sin. Sin is never addressed because someone thinks it’s offensive to tell someone they are wrong, it’s not loving if you don’t accept and include everyone.

Good churches are closing their doors for lack of members and financial support. Worthless churches are seemingly bulging at the seams, their pastors driving Mercedes and living in luxury.

I know that’s a broad generalization. I know that’s not true in every mega-church. But you and I both know that is the case way too often.

Paul is thanking the Corinthians for their financial support of the church in Jerusalem. Their support to the ministry is invaluable for a couple of reasons.

So two things will result from this ministry of giving – the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. (verses 12-13)

The needs of the people are met AND God is glorified in the process. Win. Win.

Every year our church takes up a Lottie Moon offering for foreign missions in the SBC. Our pastor encourages us to pray that God will give each of us a number, an amount He is asking each of us to give as individuals, and then to be obedient to give what God has laid on our hearts. That’s different than me looking at my bank statement and coming up with an amount I think fits.

It’s easy for me to throw in a few dollars, and feel like I’ve contributed to this important ministry. Then I hear God say:

Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly, And give according to what you have, not according to what you don’t have. (verses 11b-12)

Ouch. That number just went up.

I am not saying that giving money should replace my responsibility to go and make disciples of the people in my life. But I hear God remind me of the responsibility and privilege I have of supporting those who are making disciples around the world, too.

I am also reminded of the responsibility and privilege of financially supporting my local church, to write that monthly check joyfully and eagerly, sacrificially without strings attached, out of what I have, not out of what I don’t have.

(Are we to give that 10 percent out of the gross or net? Is 10 percent my limit so that I am operating just barely in the black on my church-giving ledger? Or should we throw out the 10 percent and, like the widow, give all we have? Or something in between? The debate goes on.)

If the Church is going to survive, and I would assume most of you reading this believe it is important that it does, then along with our prayers, our service, our witness, our worship, it will increasingly need our money.

“But,” you say, “inflation has taken a chunk out of my income and expenses.”

It’s taken a chunk out of the church’s finances, too.

Can you trust God with your finances? Read what Paul has to say about that here in his letter to the Corinthians.

I think the question we all need to ask ourselves is, “What is my salvation worth in dollars and cents?”

Can you put a price on what Jesus did for you there on the cross? He died so that all people can have the opportunity to have their sins forgiven, and enjoy a relationship with Him forever.

How much is that worth?

Faith Like Mary’s

Luke 1

Unmarried pregnant girls are so commonplace today I don’t think we can relate to what Mary’s submission to God’s will really meant, what having a baby without being married cost women back then.

Prostitution at best. Most likely death. Loss of everything and every one. And life for that child should he or she be born? Brutal.

Mary’s faith speaks to me. Her total, unquestioning trust in God is something I want for myself. If God asks me to do the impossible, may I remember:

Nothing is impossible with God. (1:37)

May I, like Mary when God asks me to do something hard, say confidently, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let His will be done in me.”

And mean it.

Praying For Healing

2 Kings 20; Isaiah 38; 2 Chronicles 32

I sat here and wondered for a time why, when Hezekiah reminded God that he had been faithful to serve God and do what pleased Him, did God heal the king suffering from a fatal disease, and give him fifteen more years of life? I kept thinking how often Scripture tells us our best deeds are like filthy rags, that salvation is a gift and can’t be earned so that no one can boast. So why was Hezekiah saved from that death sentence because of works?

He wasn’t.

I believe he was saved because he went to God, laid it all at the feet of the Great Physician. Scripture says he wept bitterly, but it doesn’t tell us what those tears represented. Were they bitter tears, tears of regret, angry tears, or tears of repentance? It seems to me they were probably tears of surrender (my opinion only), the kind of prayer God still answers today.

However, this is not a recipe for healing. God doesn’t simply heal those who come up with the right attitude, or the right words to pray.

Here’s the thing: if we are faced with a terminal illness or another seemingly impossible situation, and we go to God and pray expecting to be healed, we aren’t really going to God. We are using Him.

But if, when faced with that diagnosis, we go to God, lay our illness or situation, heartache or anxiety at His feet, submit to His will with no strings attached, the outcome of our prayer will be everything He wants it to be!

When we truly put our faith in God, we release all expectations.

That’s why I am convinced the name-it-and-claim-it theology is anti-Christ. God is not our personal genie in a bottle to grant our wishes. How dare we reduce Him to that, and think we are being obedient.

Here’s another thing, and I believe it demonstrates what Paul said in Ephesians 2:8-9:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

If you or I or anyone else is saved from sin or disease, we are saved because of God. Period. It’s not about us. It’s about God.

Sadly, after God saved Hezekiah, he became proud. He seems to have thought he had something to do with his healing in light of all the good things he said he had done for God in the past. And he squandered the fifteen years God gave Him.

Then he died.

I guess I feel God would have us consider Who He Is, not just what He can do for us. Do we really trust Him? Do we really have faith in Him? Can we honestly pray, “Not my will, but Thine be done?”

Then it doesn’t matter if we are healed in this lifetime or in death. I believe God wants us to pray for healing:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Ephesians 4:6)

That includes physical healing. Don’t worry about it. Pray about it. Pray with thanksgiving. Present it to God.

When you present something, you don’t hold back, do you? When you present something you trust the receiver with whatever you’ve given. Can we do that with our illnesses and sin?

So pray for healing for yourself or your loved ones. Pray for the salvation of those God lays on your heart. Do what God nudges you to do, go to the doctor, eat more vegetables, take that 20 mile bike ride, spend time with that person, whatever and wherever God leads.

Pray.

Then trust Him. Leave your request at His feet. No expectations, just God. Then Paul tells us that after we present our requests to God:

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 4:7)

I honestly believe that’s how we should pray for healing or anything, knowing God hears and answers our prayers. And we can have His peace knowing for sure that He will answer our prayers according to His own good will.

What Have You Done To Me?

1 Kings 17:8-24

When I think about the prophet Elijah, certain pictures come to mind: ravens, a soggy altar on fire, the starving widow, etc. Today I read about the miracle of the flour and oil in the hands of that widow. During a time of famine in the land, the little bit of flour and oil she had when she met Elijah never ran out. She had enough every day to feed herself, her son, and the prophet. Every day she was reminded of God’s power and provision. Every day she had tangible proof that God is greater than her need.

What rejoicing must have gone on in that house!

Until her son got sick and died. How quickly she seems to have turned on Elijah and, in turn Elijah’s God.

“What have you done to me?” she asked. “Have you come here to point out my sins and kill my son?”

When God shows up, answers prayer, reveals Himself in tangible ways, it’s easy to get on board. It’s easy to believe in a good miracle-working God who meets our needs, then goes beyond to shower us with blessing after blessing.

But what happens when disaster strikes? The death of a loved one. A cancer diagnosis. The loss of a job or a relationship. What happens when we suddenly find ourselves drowning in sorrow or uncertainty?

“What have you done to me, God?”

Now, I am not assuming the widow’s question was a sin or showed lack of faith. Elijah doesn’t scold her for it. It may have been a natural question to ask considering the circumstances. We don’t know her heart.

But we know God raised her son to life again. The death of that boy gave God the opportunity to reveal that even death has no power over Him. Talk about a tangible object lesson!

So the next time trouble comes, ask. Go ahead and let God know your sorrow, your frustration, your questions. Then follow it up with, “Now, what do you want me to do about this, God? What do you want me to do, to say, to be so that You can be glorified?”

James 1 tells us to count it a joy to face trials of any kind. Read what the apostle says about that if you don’t believe me.

Paul, in Philippians 1 tells us he welcomed imprisonment because his troubles advanced the Gospel. Again, read it for yourself.

These men knew God can use the worst possible situation to pour out his greatest blessings. And, when we ask, He gives us the ability to do and be what He intends for our good, and in order to bring Him glory.

What have you done to me, God? Let’s do this!

Which Way To Go?

Proverbs 3:5-6

I’m using the New Living Translation as I read the Bible chronologically this year. I really like how it translates these verses in Proverbs:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.

I don’t know how accurately that is translated from the original, but I don’t think it contradicts it. I especially appreciate how it words the last phrase: God will show you which path to take.

Because there are an awful lot of paths out there in front of us. There are so many theologies, and philosophies, and opinions out there. It can get confusing. How do we know which way to go?

Solomon tells us to trust God with all our hearts, to seek Him, yield to His will. When we do we will always find Him faithful. He WILL show us which path to take.

But if we try to figure things out for ourselves, if we listen to and believe the so-called wisdom of our present age, (yes, I mean wokeness), if we veer from Truth as revealed in Scripture, we can’t have the assurance that God will lead us anywhere. We are truly on our own.

Hear the wisdom of Solomon. Trust God with every detail and with all your heart. Don’t depend on your own wisdom or insight or “truth.” In every way and in every situation, submit to God.

Then know He will not hide His will from you. He WILL show you the path to take!

A Benevolent Master

Genesis 47

Submitting ourselves into God’s hands is a process. He reveals an area of our lives we need to turn over to Him and when we do, He blesses us! But before long He lays His finger on another area of our lives we have yet to submit to Him. And He’s always faithful to bless us when we lay that part of our lives at His feet.

I see that truth demonstrated in Joseph’s dealings with the people during the famine here in the book of Genesis. He didn’t start out by making them slaves. Yet gradually, as they submitted one thing at a time, they become totally dependent on Pharaoh for everything. They gave up their money, their flocks, their land and family, and finally themselves.

But in doing so, they received everything they needed in their lives. They became willing servants to a benevolent master.

Do you see the comparison? The Apostle Paul often identified himself as a slave or servant of Jesus. Is that where you are in your own walk with the Lord? Or are there areas in your life you’re still holding onto, reluctant to give up control?

Let me urge you today to submit that person, or dream, or attitude, or activity to the Lord. The blessings far outweigh your struggle to remain in control. Give your “self,” your family, your health, your plans, your pride to God and become a willing slave to The Benevolent Master.

(Psalm 84) Is Happiness Even Possible?

Who doesn’t want to be happy? The psalmist tells us where true happiness originates. He sets the stage in verse two:

“I long and yearn for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh cry out for the living God.”

What is it you long for? Money? Success? Relationships? Self-awareness? Health? How is that working for you? The psalmist will tell us that those who long to know God, to walk with Him in a right relationship, those who are not satisfied with a casual relationship but desire all that God is, find their happiness in Him.

“How happy are those who reside in your house, who praise you continually.” (verse 4)

Happiness comes from constant communication with God. Happiness comes from knowing God never leaves, never forsakes, and is continually blessing those who love Him. Happiness is found in praising God for who He is, what He has done in the past, what He will do in the future. And happiness comes most preciously when our focus is on God continually. When Paul and Silas praised God while chained to a prison wall, God showed up, didn’t he? He still shows up when we praise Him.

“Happy are the people whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on a pilgrimage.” (verse 5)

Verse 6 tells us that is true even when we are walking through times of sorrow and pain. The lies we believe about finding our own strength, about thinking we need to handle things on our own, that we are capable and powerful, contribute to the unhappiness so many people feel. Because the truth is, you aren’t strong enough all the time. And that’s ok. God is! The psalmist tells us if our hearts are set on the “pilgrimage” of knowing God and looking forward to heaven, if we surrender our wills to His, we will go “from strength to strength.” (verse 7). We can consider God our “shield” according to verse 9 as we look to Him.

“Happy is the person who trusts in you, Lord of Armies.” verse 12)

It doesn’t say happy is the person who is living a peaceful, successful, trouble-free life. In fact, the psalmist calls God the Lord of Armies because this is war! There will be trouble. There will be hardships and disappointments and illness and loss. There will be temptation and sin and consequences. But happy is the one who trusts in God, not in himself, not in science, not in religion, not in good deeds. Happy is the one who trusts in God. Period.

Jesus said, in 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.” (emphasis mine)

May you be truly happy today. It’s possible.

(Psalm 77) Disappointment, Despair, and Deliverance

Have you ever gone through a time of crisis when you found yourself fighting despair, unable to sleep, not seeing an answer? Do you know that God has provided some direction in His Word for those times? Deliverance is available, and He wants you to know that.

Asaph was experiencing a time of crisis himself. And the 77th Psalm tells us how he went from disappointment and despair to confidence in the loving hand of God. I’m going to use some thoughts from Warren Wiersbe’s “Be Worshipful” (David C Cook Publisher, 2004; pp 246-249).

Asaph tells us about the darkness he was experiencing in the first nine verses. Notice that the first thing he does is cry out to God in prayer. He admits that he has refused to be comforted, that even the thought of God makes him groan, that his spirit is weak.

Does that surprise you? Aren’t believers supposed to have it all together? Aren’t we expected to exhibit joy and peace and faith at all times? Why is it so hard for us to admit there are times when we question, and hurt, and don’t have all the answers, when so often God has shown us through His word that yes, even believers have struggles? Friend, if you are hurting, admit it. Don’t hide it. Put into words what you are feeling, and cry out to God. He can take it. And He won’t leave you hanging. Let’s continue looking at Asaph’s example.

After Asaph prays and tells God exactly what he is experiencing, Asaph does something important. He remembers. He allows himself a moment to leave his pain and look back upon the blessings that he’s received in the past, the times God was faithful, the times when his relationship with God brought him joy, music, and blessings.

“So why not now?” he asks of God. Now we need a disclaimer here. When we question God – which is NOT a sin – we need to prepare ourselves to receive the answers, even if those answers hurt, or are not exactly what we expect them to be. If we ask questions of God, we need to be ready to hear HIS answers. Let’s look at the questions Asaph asked, and to God’s Word to find the answers:

  1. Verse 7 – Will the Lord reject me and never accept me again? The answer is NO! There are many verses in the Bible that reassure you of that, like James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you…”
  2. Verse 8a – Has the Lord stopped loving me? Again, the answer is NO! The prophet Jeremiah tells us in the second part of 31:3 that God has “loved you with an everlasting love.” When Paul asked the question, “Who can separate us from God’s love,” he answered with: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  3. Verse 8b – Have God’s promises failed? That would be a resounding NO! Listen to what Paul said to the Corinthian believers in 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in (Jesus). That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”
  4. Verse 9a –Has God forgotten to be gracious? Another resounding NO! “For the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” (2 Chronicles 30:9b)
  5. Verse 9b – Is God too angry to show me some compassion? The answer to that is NO! The psalmist tells us “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Ps 30:5). Another psalm assures us “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” (103:8)

Then, after asking God some questions, Asaph comes to a decision. In verses 1-20 he says, “I will” three times. I will remember the Lord’s work, I will remember his wonders, and I will reflect and meditate on his actions.

Asaph turned from thoughts about himself to thoughts of God. Wiersbe, on page 248 says, “When we look at our circumstances, we focus on ourselves and see no hope; but when we look by faith to the Lord, our circumstance many not change, but we do.”

Are you struggling? I’m sorry if you are. I understand life is full of trials and disappointments and struggles. But let me ask you this: Do you love God in spite of your circumstances? I pray that you do.

And if you do, let me leave you with a bit of hope straight from the mouth of the God who loves you enough to die for you:

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. (Romans 8:28)

Yes, even your struggles. I hope you’ll take time to read Psalm 77 today. Find a concordance or Google verses in God’s Word that contain the words, “compassion,” “love,” “grace,” “strength,” “worry,” “anxiety,” or whatever it is that comes to your mind. I think you’ll find tons of verses that speak to your need.

Because God wants to intervene on your behalf. You can trust Him to deliver you.

I’m praying for you.

(Psalms 54-56) Faith

David knew about hardship. He knew danger and disappointment, betrayal and fear. But as he poured his heart out to God, even as he asked that his enemies be stopped by any means possible, David always declared his unwavering trust in God.

God: David’s refuge, strength, rescuer, helper, savior. Even in his darkest hours, David depended on the Light of life. When you read his psalms you can’t miss David’s faith in our Sovereign God.

I don’t know what you are experiencing in life right now. You may be living your darkest hours. I hope you’ll read these psalms and recognize that where David’s enemies were flesh and blood, yours are spiritual. But the same is true for your enemies as they were for David’s. They are not stronger than God!

May God annihilate Satan and his attempts at bringing you down. May you surrender yourself today to God, trust Him, place your faith in Him, and know that you can “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you.” (55:22a)

I’m praying for you today.

(Psalms 42-43) Think On These Things

The forced isolation the world has been subjected to due to the COVID mandates has been devastating for many. Disappointment, depression, and even despair are being experience by scores of people who have never been this low before – and never believed they ever would be. I’ve often said the virus is not the worst thing that has happened this past year.

The psalmist must have been experiencing the same level of low as some people feel today. He asks, “Why, my soul are you so dejected? Why are you in such turmoil?” (42:5a) He even describes himself as “deeply depressed,” and asks God why He has forgotten him. (verses 6,9). I think many of us have at one time or another felt like God has abandoned us when our souls are in turmoil ourselves.

I actually think the psalmist did something good here. He put into words what was troubling him. We don’t know the answers he came up with, exactly why he felt dejected and in turmoil. But so often in Scripture we are told to search our hearts. Look how many times Jesus, before he healed or forgave someone, asked, “What is it you want?” “What are you looking for?”

We would do well to get out pencil and paper and identify those things in us, too. “Why, my soul, am I dejected?” Sometimes we don’t even know why we are experiencing this level of sadness. I believe God would have us give voice to our troubles. Be specific.

Then, the psalmist did something else: he took his eyes off himself and focused on God instead. He said in verse 1 he longed for God like a parched deer longs for a flowing stream. He remembered God, His goodness and protection.

In Psalm 43 he asked God to send His light and truth, and lead him to Himself. He also demonstrated complete faith in God when he said:

The Lord will send his faithful love by day; his song will be with me in the night…” (42:8)

The Lord WILL, His song WILL…

I know it’s not easy. And if there is a chemical imbalance in a person’s body, he or she needs medication and Biblical counseling to help them navigate their physical need. But here is what I found to be true of my own tough days:

My tears have been my food day and night… (42:3a)

Warren Wiersbe said the psalmist “‘fed’ on his grief (not a wise thing to do) as his tears became his bread. His weeping was as regular as his eating had been.” (Be Worshipful; David C Cook Publisher; 2009; page 162).

Do you relate? Then ask yourself if you are feeding on your grief. Identify those things that are troubling you, but don’t stop there. Lay them at the feet of Jesus. Trust Him. Seek Him.

That’s not to say simply pretend everything is ok. The “Name it and Claim it” thing is garbage. Rather, name it and turn it over (and keep turning it over when you find yourself picking it up again).

Paul tells us to instead think on things that are “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and praiseworthy.” (Philippians 4:8) It’s hard to be down when our thoughts are on our blessings and God’s character.

Some people will say that’s too easy, it can’t work for everyone, that it’s wrong to believe you have the ability to change your thinking and, in turn, your feelings. I am just sharing what God has said in His Word. I’m not making this up.

I know many of us have memorized Philippians 4:6-7 which says:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends our understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Did you get that? Paul says to pray, be thankful for what you have (including your position in Jesus through His blood), and be specific about what you want God to do. Now don’t miss this:

The result of that kind of prayer isn’t necessarily the receiving of everything you’ve asked for. The result of that kind of prayer is peace in your heart that only God can give. It’s a peace the world cannot understand. And it’s a peace that will guard your heart and mind against the thoughts and feelings that are putting you in turmoil.

Someone once said, “I’ve been down so long, it looks like up to me.” Sounds like that person needs a new diet. Feeding on his grief has become normal. I pray that you, and I, will feed on the Word of God and His promises, that we will think on things that God has told us to think, that we will trust Him, seek Him, and truly look up.

I will confess that following Scripture in this area is like riding a rollercoaster. Some days I can change my thoughts, get busy looking for ways to serve my Savior, and love and seek God with all my heart, mind, and soul.

And some days I fail miserably. I feed on my grief like I’m an addict falling off the wagon.

But I thank God that He is always faithful to forgive when I ask Him to, that He is there beside me to give me the ability to obey Him, to change my thoughts, and focus on Him when I surrender to Him.

Because the Lord WILL send His faithful love to me during my day, and He WILL give me His song in the darkness if I ask Him to. That’s not wishful thinking. It’s true!

Praying for you, and me, today.