Rest In The Midst Of The Test

Rest is something that all of us desire. The circumstances of life often dictate unrest for the soul. This morning I shared a promise from God”s word to bring about peace for the believer. Isaiah 41:10 states: “'Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.' There are many promises found in this verse alone, but in our daily walk of faith we still struggle to surrender things unto our Lord. How then are we to find complete rest? It is simple to state a truth about God, but it becomes totally different when we actually place our entire faith into those promises. By my own admission, I must agree that I still struggle in the flesh; but my heart desires to learn how I may find rest in all circumstances.

To attain human wisdom is practical for us all, but not necessarily beneficial when confronted with something our Lord is asking you and I to surrender. The Apostle Paul encouraged the believers in Philippi with a similar text found in Philippians 4:6. “ Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Do you possess a heart of thanksgiving in all things? I often encourage others to maximize their blessings and minimize their disappointments. When we are fearful, the lest we can do is pray. Oswald Chambers offers us some encouragement in his devotional ‘My Utmost For His Highest’. He writes this: “God expects His children to be so confident in Him that in any crisis they are the ones who are reliable.” Our Lord Jesus reiterated this fact in Matthew’s gospel while the seas tossed the disciples about stating: “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?”(Matthew 8:26). We need to move farther from our elementary panic stricken prayers and rest in the promises of God. God uses the uncertainty of circumstances to stretch our spiritual muscles.

Job rested in the truth that he had not sinned against God (Job 5), even when accused of that by Eliphaz. Search your heart today and allow the Spirit of God reveal any lack of faith or sinfulness that may be hindering your walk of faith. It is then, that you will discover the peace amidst the circumstances that arise. Grace and peace always.

What Do People Say About You?

How do people perceive your life? What legacy are you leaving behind? How does the Gospel compel you to live? These are all questions that people contemplate at different times in life. I certainly understand that many people in society desire the moral aspect of the first two questions, but maybe are not connected to the third. This line of reasoning is crucial for the believer. Needless to say, our reasoning as Christians should be a discipline that we endeavor to work on daily. The truth exists that people are watching one another and hope to see how you and I may react to circumstances that the Christian faces. The Bible reminds the Christian that we are “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1). The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John

Are read by more than a few,

But the one that is most read and commented on

Is the gospel according to you.

You are writing a gospel, a chapter each day

By the things that you do and the words that you say,

Men read what you write, whether faithless or true,

Say, what is the gospel according to you'

Do men read His truth and His love in your life,

Or has yours been too full of malice and strife'

Does your life speak of evil, or does it ring true'

Say, what is the gospel according to you'

Our verse of encouragement today is found in Job 4:3. “Surely you have instructed many, and you have strengthened weak hands.” These words are expressed by a visitor and self proclaimed friend of Job named Eliphaz. The early account of Job’s suffering states the arrival of the three individuals and Job not conversing for an entire seven days. Silence is now broken and Job curses his day of birth which leads to Eliphaz’s response. Earlier in these posts I expressed the importance to reaching out to those in need, but sometimes expressing your thoughts first can dictate the outcome of further dialog. Notice that Eliphaz’s statement attempts to offer encouragement by stating some truth about Job, but we must not allow the flesh to show its ugly hand. Pride will always lead us down a path of derision;' if we permit it.

Reading further into the chapter, Eliphaz suggests that he has received a vision which causes concern about the spiritual condition of Job. I believe it is important to be reminded that our moral reasoning is often clouded through our finite minds. What Eliphaz is stating is that God chastens His children, therefore Job must have some un-confessed sin prevalent in his life. The fact remains that Eliphaz and the other two were not present when God and Satan had their dialog in Heaven (1:8; 2:3). Our Lord will defend Job’s integrity later in our study. Through all of this account, we will witness that Job never lost his integrity.

Now that leads us to today’s encouragement. Will we uphold our Christian integrity in all circumstances? This will require accountability and much prayer. Ask the Lord to reveal how you might uphold the integrity of the Gospel. I guarantee that God’s word will offer tremendous encouragement as we attempt to perform this action. Listen to these words from God. "Therefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath “ (James 1:19). That verse offers us valuable wisdom. Grace and peace.

Curse My Birth, But Not My New Birth

We celebrate the arrival of a newborn into our families. The full gestation period for most children involves a nine month pregnancy for the mother. From the moment of inception, the appointed time of birth and the introduction of a child into this world brings about great anticipation . I have enjoyed the rewards of parenting our two daughters . Ooh by the way, the parenting responsibility never ends; just as the honoring of children toward their parents never ceases. The reality that occurs as the result of birth brings also the evil and results of the sin nature which every person born inherits. We all can relate to the struggles to exist in a scarred/sin cursed environment. Life brings about tremendous struggles at times. The sickness and pains these mortal bodies experience bring grief and anguish. We pick up the passage in Job 3 now and experience some of these realities in the account,

Scripture records that “Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth” (Job 3:1). Now before we can express criticism upon Job, i would suggest that many of us would have grumbled long before Job. There is a fiery tone recorded here in this passage of scripture. We will see throughout this study that Job curses many things but never curses our Lord. Reflect for a moment. My birthday is soon to arrive this month. Some plans are being made now to celebrate the occasion. In our passage of scripture, Job curses his birthday, day of conception; and even the truth that he was to be born as a male child. The dialog continues throughout chapter three, but we realize that Job never forfeits his integrity. When we experience the trials of life, it should behoove us to remember that our God is greater than our circumstances. There is described a great darkness in chapter three by Job.

You may know of an individual that is faced with the darkness of circumstances. They feel isolated from the surroundings about them. Depression is often described similar to the words as expressed by Job. But I believe it is important to recognize what this passage of scripture is also expressing. Look closely into verses eleven through twenty six. All of these verses address our inability to help ourselves. Our dependency and existence is controlled by someone else. The curse of sin has incorporated similar results. We are helpless within our natural condition of sin. The curse of sin has infiltrated into every aspect of humanity. It has deprived us of even simple reasoning. I like what J. I. Packer states in his book entitled Concise Theology. Total depravity declares that “no part of us is untouched by sin, and therefore no action of ours is as good as it should be, and consequently nothing in us or about us ever appears meritorious in God’s eyes”. (p. 84). Having shared this; it should create a great humility among the Christian that God orchestrated and implements all of the salvation process for humanity.

Our new birth includes all of the promises which God has stated in His word. Our new birth is grounded in the hope which provides assurance that God will fulfill all things. The new birth of a believer creates great celebration in the heavenlies and around the throne of God (Luke 15:7). Our circumstances may not be joyful here in these mortal bodies, but a new body will be adorned upon every believer either by death of the grave or the resurrected church is called home. Grace and peace.

God Has Not Given Fear, But A Sound Mind

We conclude our look into 2 Timothy 1:7 today. We began to exam this verse as the result of interaction between Job and his three friends. Scripture records that no one spoke a word to another for an entire week (Job 2:13). These blogs are intended to seek the wisdom of God to learn practical ways to demonstrate our faith in Jesus Christ before others we encounter.

i want to point out the contrast found in 2 Timothy 1:7. The words fear and sound mind serve to contrast each other and help us to understand where every believer can find assurance. The curse of sin carries the element of fear. We hear of so many phobias prevalent in today’s society. Some common fears are known as the fear of heights or the fear of entrapment ; and beyond these are the fear of death. In a previous post I spoke of how many fail to offer encouragement because they fear rejection or inadequacy. The fear of death has been abolished according to scripture through the redemptive work on the cross at Calvary. So why do we still allow fear to remain present in our lives as believers? It stems from our dependence of the flesh rather than the Spirit of God.

I have a copy of the Precious Bible Promises book in my office. I also carry some truths about God according to scripture in my wallet. Circumstances attempt to distract our thinking. The Bible says the “cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful” (Mark 4:19). Every believer must remember that our Lord is greater than our circumstances. In my bathroom at home is a simple reminder each day of this truth. Fear not tomorrow because God is already there. What a promise! If we are to combat fear; it begins on the recollection of so many promises that God has stated.

2 Timothy 1:7 says that God give us a sound mind. How would one describe a sound mind and what are the steps to possess it? The ministry of the Holy Spirit equips every believer with the characteristic of a sound mind. Let’s look at a few works of the Spirit which substantiates this reasoning. The Spirit enlightens us (Ephesians 1:17-18), regenerates us (John 3:5-8), leads us into holiness (Romans 8:14), transforms us (2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 5:22-23), gives assurance (Romans 8:16), and gifts for ministry (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). Each of the a fore mentioned truths lead the believer to possess a sound mind. Wisdom is gifted to the believer by simply asking God (James 1:5).

Suppress the fears of life by trusting what God has proclaimed. Every believer must crucify the flesh and its desires daily. When given the opportunity to share an encouragement with others; take the truth of God and His redeeming message of love into the circumstances which cripple hope in others. There you will be amazed by the fact that God will combat the fears we might sense and perform the healing that others are in need of through us. As always, grace and peace.

Love Surpasses All

This week’s blog has looked into the actions of Job’s three friends upon their arrival to visit Job after hearing of his affliction. Let’s quickly review. Job 2:12-13 records: “And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept and each one tore his robe and sprinkle dust on his head toward heaven. So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw his grief was very great.”

I believe there are moments when we should abstain from conversation and simply listen to God. The Bible instructs us to do so (Psalm 46:10). There is no doubt that Job was performing this discipline while under great affliction from Satan. But how can we interact with such a person and offer Godly encouragement? When is the right time to do so? I do sense that sooner than later always is best.

With this thought in mind, I encourage each of us to call upon the resources that God has granted to every believer. So we have been looking at four things about God promises each believer as found in 2 Timothy 1:7. Today brings about the third truth found in this verse. God has given us the a spirit of love. Love is a tremendous gift. The Apostle Paul claims that love is far superior than all things (1 Corinthians 13: 13). If the believer permits the love of God to prevail in their walk of faith; then love requires us to be proactive.

The world has misconstrued the actual meaning of love. We use the word to express our satisfaction in many earthly desires. If we hold to a biblical perspective, our definition of love and actions are driven closer to the truest definition of this word (Agapē). This Greek word suggests that we extend a love which conveys the thought of pure love. Since God has given every believer the power of love and love is the above everything else; how much more do you believe that God is prepared to demonstrate love through your compassion towards a friend? Ask God to help you today to visualize the burdens that many of your friends are carrying. It will be the first step to experience the power of love as God intended. Suppress the element of fear through prayer and Bible study. Permit the Holy Spirit to use you as you offer encouragement. I invite additional thoughts or testimonies of practical occurrences that you may have experienced. Until tomorrow, grace and peace.

God Has Given Us The Power of God

As we continue to look into the book of Job, we have encountered the arrival of Job’s friends (Job 2:11-13). Job had been inflicted with so much physical affliction, scriptures record that his friends did not recognize Job. I must agree that Job’s friends initial intentions were admirable, but that would soon change. These blogs are a febble attempt to search for purpose and encouragement; but my prayer is that the Holy Spirit will unveil truths found through the disciplined study of God’s word.

There are friends in our lives which encounter the physical/emotional struggles of life to the point that we no longer recognize them at first glance. If we are not mindful of our own spiritual health; we can be blinded to the spiritual needs of our friends. I wanted to conitue our study of 2 Timothy 1:7 and the promises that God provides when our thoughts and words seem inadequate. Yesterday I addressed the promise that God does not give us a spirit of fear. Today we will examine the gift of power that God is ready to perform through our obedience.

Our verse of encouragement today is found in 1 Corinthians 2:5. ‘That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” The Apostle Paul was concerned for the souls of men and women in light of the Gospel. Paul certainly was educated among man’s standards (Acts 22:3), but understood the need to be simplistic when sharing the truth. “For I determine not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). Paul tapped into the power of the Spirit of God to convey the message.

Returning to the passage of Job, we read that no encouragement was shared for a week among Job and his friends. Too often we feel inadequate to share an encouragement with those hurting among us. This is nothing more than our selfishness to demonstrate human wisdom through our conversation. The power of God is not limited to human wisdom, nor is it designed to revealed anything except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The power of God is supernatural to perform the work it is meant to provide. This is why the Apostle Paul would state: “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for in it is the power of God” (Romans 1:16). As Christians we are given the Spirit of God to reside within us at the moment of salvation. Its function is to comfort and encourage us into a deeper relationship with the Father and the Son. When we place our rest and dependence in God, scriptures promises “that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort with which we are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:4).

Seek ways in which God can use you today to extend His peace. This may include include an expression of comfort through a gentle hug and reminder to someone that you are available for them to simply describe their feelings of anxiety and hurt. I am confident that the Holy Spirit will be able to use you in a simple but powerful way. Then you will experience how God will use you to share in love and of a sound mind. More on those promises tomorrow and Thursday. Until then, grace and peace always. .

Job 2:11-16 Encouragement in the wake of the Storm

Our passage of scripture moves into the account and visit from three of Job’s friends. In verse 12 we learn “when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept and each one tore his robe and sprinkle dust on his head toward Heaven. So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word”. This raises a question. Why do we feel inadequate when trouble arises for a friend and seem lost for words? We have all encountered circumstances where a person we care for faces trouble. Maybe a friend has lost a loved one or is going through a separation period of marriage. Circumstances like these can leave us with a feeling of inadequacy to say the right encouragement to a friend. Also, the level of our friendship often dictates whether we sense the need to reach out. We sense the fear of rejection, the fear of a severed friendship, or just the fear of being misconstrued. I believe that the Bible offers us wisdom in times of inadequacy. Listen to what the Apostle Paul shared with young Timothy. In 2 Timothy 1:7 Paul writes: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”. There are four statements in this verse about God. We will examine the first. God does not give us a spirit of fear. Fear is an attribute of our sin nature. Fear is not an attribute of God. Scripture records after the fall of man that Adam and Eve “heard the sound of God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and Eve hid themselves from the presence of the Lord” ” (Genesis 3:8). Here is the first account of fear in mankind. Sin and its influence will always attempt to lead us into a crossroad of doubt. The death and resurrection of our Lord has abolished fear and death for the Christian. Colossians 1:20 offers us great encouragement. “And by Him, to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth, or things in Heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” The Christian has great hope because of the work of Christ upon the cross. When encountered with the element of fear, turn towards your greatest strength. That strength is found in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. Pray unto God for the wisdom to share an encouragement to the one that you love or care about. It may require you to step beyond a comfort zone, but remember that “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Romans 8:34). I encourage you to jot down some of God’s promises and carry them with you as you walk by faith. I invite any further discussion.