Tag Archives: trusting God

(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.

(Job 37-42) Blessed Be The Name of the LORD

So after God spoke and Job repented, God blessed Job with even more material blessings than he’d had before the trouble began. Doesn’t that seem to support the prosperity gospel so appealing to so many theses days? If you say the right thing, manufacture the right faith, BOOM – you win the lottery. Makes me want to get my checkbook out and write a big one to Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Peter Popoff, Kenneth Hagin, and the like. Let that “seed money” do its thing.

I’ve sat here for quite a while this morning, trying to make sense of this because I don’t believe the property gospel is Biblical. I can think of many examples of believers who struggle physically and financially, yet consider themselves blessed. I believe the above mentioned public figures are charlatans. But the health and wealth gospel seems to be here in Job’s life. I went to the internet and read things from sources I trust, and even from sources I consider questionable to try to make sense of this passage.

Then I prayed.

Yeah, I know. I got that backwards, didn’t I?

God seemed to point me back to chapter one. And I was reminded that the book of Job is not primarily about suffering or loss, or even restoration. It’s about worship. Remember Satan challenged God on the idea that Job worshiped God because his life was easy. Satan’s premises was that if things turned for the worst in Job’s life, he would stop worshiping God.

The book of Job is full of imagery. We see pictures of nature, of creation, God’s supremacy, and His intelligence which is far above our own. We hear Job question, and can almost feel his agony. But what we don’t see is Job turning his back on God.

In fact, in the end, Job confesses his sin and falls on his face before the one true God as he realizes God’s ways are far above our own, and that through it all, God can be trusted.

However, as demonstrated in the book of Job, God delights in blessing his obedient children. Job once again enjoyed a materially blessed life. He had other children to fill his household. His physical problems were behind him. But here is what I think God pointed out to me today: Job wasn’t blessed because of things. He was blessed by his relationship with God. Remember what he’d said from the beginning?

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. (1:21)

If we make the book of Job about material blessings, we miss the point. The question asked and answered in these chapters is: is God worthy of praise and worship no matter the circumstances of life?

The answer is a resounding YES! Read what God says about Himself as He asks Job those probing questions. Is He worthy?

Paul told the church in Philippi (4:11-13)

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength.

That’s the message from Job’s life. Is it your experience as well, or are you waiting until your ship comes in before you truly worship God?

I pray we will all bow before our Creator God who is holy and righteous and does all things well. I pray that no matter what our struggles or disappointments or challenges or devastating circumstances, we will with Job continue to say:

Blessed be the name of the LORD.

Not because we think saying that will get us out of our trouble or move us to Easy Street. May we say it believing it’s true because:

The NAME of the LORD is worthy.

(I Samuel 19:9-18) Choosing Between Pure Good and Pure Evil

The question posed in my Apologetics Bible is this: “Was Michal right to deceive and lie?” Read these verses in I Samuel, then think about it for a minute. What is your answer to that question? Was she right to lie?

The apologist said that, although God expects His people to be truthful, Michal “was not obliged to give (Saul) information that would help him carry out his wicked act,” that of killing David. He argues that if Michal had not lied, she and David would probably have died.

The writer goes on to say, “…within an environment where human sin abounds, it is not always possible to choose between pure good and pure evil.”

Thoughts?

Personally, I am appalled! God’s demand that His people be holy is NOT situational. Show me a verse where God declares that He only expects holiness of us when it’s convenient. Friend, we cannot decide to be holy when it’s easy, and allow ourselves to be unholy when things get tough.

Here’s what I believe to be true concerning Michal’s lie: She prevented God from revealing Himself to Saul (and us) in that situation. We will never know the miracle God would have performed had Michal trusted Him and told her Dad the truth. I don’t agree with the writer of the commentary that she and David would provably have died. We just don’t know how God would have saved them, because Michal lied.

Like Moses, who threw a veil over God’s power when he tapped the rock in the dessert, Michal threw the same veil over God’s power here. The reality is, both Moses and Michal sinned, and God couldn’t do great things because of their unbelief.

I believe Scripture teaches that any lie – no matter how “small” or how difficult the situation – is sin that comes with a death penalty. Lying, no matter what spin we put on it, is a slap in the face of God.

I have said it before, and I will continue to say it again and again, you and I have got to be reading God’s Word, commentaries, blogs, listening to preachers and teachers with discernment. Do not accept everything everyone says is truth. If I accepted what this apologist said, I might give myself a pass for a sin because my situation is uncomfortable, and sinning is my solution. That, dear one, would be inviting sin into my life and expecting God to be ok with it.

God will never be ok with it.

Choosing between pure good and pure evil is not only possible, it’s expected of us who know Jesus as our Savior. If we think we have to lie to get out of a difficult situation, we are preventing God from revealing Himself, perhaps preventing someone who needs Him from finding Him.

I pray you will consider this issue today. What do you believe about Michal? What do you believe about situational sin? Are all sins equal in God’s sight? Do all sins demand a death sentence? Is it your responsibility and mine to allow God to reveal Himself through us today, no matter what the situation? Do you trust Him?

I pray you and I will choose pure good today. It won’t be easy. But God will be faithful to honor our choice. I believe that with all my heart.

(Numbers 33) Unnecessary Detours

If I counted correctly, the Israelites moved 44 times during their forty year romp through the wilderness. God had brought them right to the door of the Promised Land, but because of their unbelief, they were forced to turn away and roam the countryside.

I taught school for almost forty years. During that time I made eight moves. One was during the worst snow storm Ohio had ever seen. None of the moves I made were fun. I can’t imagine picking up and moving 44 times. That’s more than one a year! No thanks!!

What makes this a tragic tale is the fact they didn’t have to have moved at all. If they had only trusted God, He would have given them the land He’d brought them to. It was right there. It was so close. It’s what God wanted for them. But they just couldn’t trust Him, and God closed the door. Such an unnecessary detour.

As you look back on your life, do you recognize the unnecessary detours you’ve taken because you hadn’t trusted God? It happens. God brings us right to the door of blessing, but we hold back. We try another route. We question, and doubt. And God closes the door.

We find ourselves taking that detour that includes hardships and heartache. Yes, there are blessings in the detours. Yes God can and does use us during those times. But we miss what was beyond our doubt at the time God wanted us to accept it.

God is speaking to me about trust today. Are there areas of my life I keep to myself, things I think I need to handle on my own, ministry opportunities I decline because I think the hurdles are too high? What am I missing if I don’t trust God with it all?

I want God’s perfect will in my life. Not just because there are blessings there, but because it’s God’s perfect will for me. I would rather not take unnecessary detours to get there.

(Numbers 26-30) Priorities

There seems to have been a lot of livestock and wheat among the nomadic Jews there in the wilderness. If you count up the things required for daily sacrifices, not to mention the special occasion sacrifices, there’re a lot of cattle, lambs, goats, as well as bushels and bushels of grain.

So why was it necessary for God to provide manna? Why would the people complain about being hungry? I mean, surely not all of the livestock was unblemished. Couldn’t they have eaten the less-than-perfect animals?

As I was thinking about that this morning, I remembered when Moses told God there wasn’t enough cattle in the world to feed all the people for even a month. At that time God sent quail to satisfy their desire for meat.

This is what I feel God wanted me to see in these chapters today: priorities.

God had given specific instructions concerning the sacrificial system. They weren’t suggestions, they were demands. Their sin required those sacrifices be made… and often.

If the people had exhausted their supply of livestock and grain for food, there would have been no animals to sacrifice, no hope of being forgiven of sin. So what do you do? Do you eat like a king for a month? Or do you protect your relationship with God?

The Jews had their priorities straight. As tempting as it must have been to grill a steak or bake a cake, they ate what God provided in the form of manna. It was more important for them to be able to give to God what He demanded.

And here’s the lesson: when we get our priorities straight, when we put God first, when we deal with sin in our lives first, He will supply our needs. Nothing is more important than having a right relationship with God. That which comes after is icing on a manna-baked cake.

That’s how to get our priorities straight.

(Exodus 26-31) Plans and Blueprints and Details

Why did God think it was important to have every tiny detail of the tabernacle spelled out? My brain doesn’t work like this. I honestly don’t care how many rings held a pole or if the covering hung over six inches or six feet or not at all.

I’ve shared my church is in the middle of a building project. There are plans and blueprints and details I don’t understand – or care to understand. But before I walk through those doors and sit in a chair under that roof, I’m going to be very glad someone thought about the feet and inches and materials and placement, and cared enough to not only understand those details, but made sure they were carried out to the letter so the building doesn’t come crashing down on my head.

Now, I know every detail God recorded here in these chapters in Exodus have symbolic meaning and draw a beautiful picture of God’s Sovereign plan of salvation. But when I read this I can’t help but think, not so much of the plan, but the Planner, not so much of the building but the Architect, the Master Designer who not only drew up those plans, but oversaw the process of turning His plans into an amazing place of worship there in the desert. That tabernacle would not come crashing down on the Israelites because it was designed by God Himself and built by people who followed His blueprints to the letter.

That gives me peace and joy today as God’s tabernacle in 2021. Because as interested as God was in every detail of that Old Testament tabernacle, He is infinitely more interested the details of my life. And if I follow the blueprint, if I build according to the plans He has laid out in His Word, I won’t come crashing down even in the middle of a virus scare, or a job loss, or a medical setback, or a change in government.

So I am thankful God included these details I read today here in the book of Exodus. It reminds me how invested He is in the details of my life. The Master Designer is my peace and joy and hope.

Immediate (Mark 8)

I find it interesting, and personal, that it took Jesus two tries to heal the blind man in Mark 8. Or did it?

Some people had brought the man to Jesus for healing, and Jesus took him by the hand and led him to a private spot. This was not going to be a public display of God’s power. This was personal.

Jesus spit on the man’s eyes and laid hands on him. But the man was only partially healed. He confessed he saw, but not clearly. Jesus touched him again, and he was healed.

Now I know Jesus could have absolutely healed him immediately – with a word. (He’d healed people immediately many times before.) So why was this healing a two-parter?

I think it’s something to consider in our day of instant gratification, impatience, entitlement, and self-absorption. We pray and, knowing Jesus is able to answer, we expect immediate results. We don’t want to wait, and we certainly don’t want our request answered in stages.

Then, what if the end result isn’t exactly what we’d prayed? What happens to our faith? What if, when the man in Mark 8 realized his sight wasn’t fully restored the first time, he left in a huff, if his faith was only as good as the immediate? He would have missed the complete healing.

I think of a fellow-blogger who was diagnosed with ALS 24 years ago, is confined to a wheel chair with a mind that is sharp, and a body that will not move. I didn’t know him back then. But I imagine he and those around him prayed for healing. I imagine those prayers are still being brought to God. Those prayers were met in other ways, besides a physical healing. If you want to know more about his journey, check out Unshakable Hope.

Our Good News club is looking at the life of Joni Eareckson Tada. She’s another example of a believer whose physical body was not healed, although there were a lot of prayers to that end. The answers to those prayers came in stages, and the end result looked much different than those praying imagined. But both of these people have ministries today they would not have had if they had been healed of their physical challenges.

As I think about these people, the man in Mark 8, others I’ve prayed for without seeing the results I wanted, I have to ask myself if I really trust God even when my requests aren’t fulfilled in my timing or in the exact way I’ve prayed?

I find it’s not about the outcome of my prayers, but the faith I have along the way. of course I believe God can do anything. He could remove Covid from the world right this minute. That’s not what God wants me to see today, though. God wants me to see Him, to trust Him, to have a faith that is not shattered if answers to my prayers aren’t immediate.

If God answers my prayers in stages, I pray that I will have the patience to see Him working in my life and in the lives of others in the situation with me while we wait. I pray that if the outcome isn’t what I demanded, I will trust Him enough to know and do what’s best for eternity.

I think God is reminding me today to pray, to trust, to have faith that He does all things well, and to rejoice in every step of the way.