To be one that sticks close by and not one that falls away

I have been reading a lot and hearing a lot lately about suffering and crises. My daughter even asked about it the other day while doing her devotional with her. Suffering as a Christian. We can read in the new testament about how some of Jesus’s followers quit following Him because it was too difficult. Psalm 23:4 says that even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. James says that we should consider it joy when we face trials. Jesus says that we are blessed when we are persecuted.

None of these statements talk about if, but when. I’m convinced that the more we pursue Jesus and His righteousness the more Satan focuses in on us. The more we seek His Kingdom, Satan throws that many more distractions our way to throw us off track. Job was blameless and upright, yet God allowed Satan to strip him of everything including his health, Job suffered immensely. Peter denied Jesus and wept bitterly, even after Jesus told him he would deny Jesus, Peter should not have been surprised.

Yet in all these struggles and trials, it could be God refining us. Tony Evans says when God wants to move us to a deeper level of experiencing Him He will typically uses a crises. At those times we need to call on Him and realize we can’t do things on our own. Just living life and meeting the demands of life can be difficult, let alone trying to follow Him faithfully.

Job was restored and blessed even more than he was prior to his trials. Peter was restored greatly and preached an awesome sermon on Pentacost.

It can also get really lonely when being obedient. As I said above even followers in Jesus’s human presence walked away, even after seeing all the awesome things He did. Charles Spurgeon talks about how only three of the twelve were allowed to accompany Him at Gethsemane and see the sorrow Jesus endured and that was even at a distance.

Jesus says we need to deny ourselves, pick up our cross, which can be different things for different people, and follow Him or as the original text says, do what he does. He loved others in the face of crises, while being persecuted and when others didn’t love Him back. He suffered immensely before being arrested, He sweat drops of blood because of His anguish, yet God sent an angel to strengthen Him.

We need to stick with Jesus regardless how hard it gets. We need to not just call Him “Lord, Lord”, we need to do what He says. He is the foundation on which we need to stand when the floods come, because they will come, there are no it’s about it. We need to keep our eyes in Him when the winds and the waves try to overpower us and He will reach out His hand for us.

Even Then- Micah Tyler

Lord, turn my sufferings into rejoicing.

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Prayer

I have found myself having a growing desire to pray over the last few years. In fact, one time I spent three and a half hours praying over scripture one day and have since had a couple of times praying for an hour or so over scripture. Those times in prayer were fantastic. God’s presence was truly around me in those times.

I was reading this morning about how prayer is linked with faith. Charles Spurgeon says that “faith is the medium of communication that links heaven and earth. And if that link is broken or disconnected, how can we receive His promise?”

James tells us that “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. ”

I like what the Matthew Henry commentary says about this.

And when a righteous person, a true believer, justified in Christ, and by his grace walking before God in holy obedience, presents an effectual fervent prayer, wrought in his heart by the power of the Holy Spirit, raising holy affections and believing expectations and so leading earnestly to plead the promises of God at his mercy-seat, it avails much.”

And what the Gills Exposition of the Entire Bible says about this.

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Not any man’s prayer; not the prayer of a profane sinner, for God heareth not sinners; nor of hypocrites and formal professors: but of the righteous man, who is justified by the righteousness of Christ, and has the truth of grace in him, and lives soberly and righteously; for a righteous man often designs a good man, a gracious man, one that is sincere and upright, as Job, Joseph of Arimathea, and others.”

Man, to be able to have the prayers of Job or Joseph of Arimathea, or other great ones from the Bible, how awesome would that be! Anyone can pray, but to have prayers that are fervent and energetic is something else. How different would our country or world or even city or neighborhood be if we as Christians truly humbled ourselves and prayed and sought God’s face, if we do that He promises to heal our land.

When Jesus died on the cross, the curtain in the temple tore in two from top to bottom giving us a direct line of access to God Himself, a great gift and mighty weapon in the battles we face.

I pray that this encourages you to spend time daily in God’s presence reading scripture and praying. It’s the first thing I do every day and I love it.

When We Pray – Tauren Wells

Living for who…

I woke up this morning a little bitter.  Beyond the struggles of life,  we have  8 week old puppy who thought it was time to get up at about 3:30 in the morning and need to go outside.  After I and then my wife tended to her, my alarm went off about an hour later.  I have my morning quite and prayer time then go to the gym.  After I finished working and while cooling off out I read Jim Dennison’s First 15 devotional.  Today’s was about Living for God’s Glory.

First 15 – Jim Dennison

One thing struck me in the devotional, he says “God’s word won’t have power in our lives if we don’t read it. We won’t hear God effectively if we’re not listening. And we can’t experience his nearness if we constantly fill our lives with other things.”  The part about filling our lives with other things is what struck me.  “Other things” can be lots of things, materials possessions, job status, financial freedom, kids activities, etc and the chasing of all these things.  The world tells us to achieve greater things, that we can crate our own success, but in reality, chasing after worldly things is futile.  The things God tells us to chase after are the only things that can truly satisfy us.  A couple of Sundays ago our pastor preached on the feeding of the 5,000.  The people, disciples and Jesus had traveled for a couple of days and were away from somewhere where food was readily available, especially for that number of people.  Yet, in His sovereignty God fully satisfied these people with what started out as 5 loaves and two fish.  I realized that we can only be satisfied when God provides ad not when we chase after things.

Matthew 6:33 tells us to seek God’s Righteousness and His Kingdom before anything else, and if we do, we need not worry about being provided for.  I believe I saw God fulfill this promise in my life last year after being laid off from work.  I was out of work only about 2 and a half months, but when I returned to work I wasn’t making as much money, but we never had to worry about being provided for.  yes we had to watch our spending a little closer, but we were never hungry, and had a warm bed to sleep in.

I am far from being able to live without worry, but I am constantly reminded how good God is, I just need to acknowledge it and remember it more often and thank Him for His Goodness.

Being a real husband, father and man

I’ve been thinking a bit lately about being a father and husband and what in God’s eyes what it really means and looks like. It’s not the first time but with some recent events and some reminders I’ve been looking at it again.

I think there is a big issue, and some may say, a growing epidemic in our country with fathers and husbands not truly leading and loving their families as they should. There is such an emphasis and great pressure from society and our culture for the dad and husband to be successful in the work place, which is not always a bad thing, but there also needs to be an emphasis for us as men to be successful in the home. Paul tells us that as husbands we should follow the model of Jesus and love our wives as He loved the church. Jesus sacrificed His place in heaven to come and give us the opportunity to have fellowship with God directly, because He loves us that much. He anguished and sweat drops of blood in carrying out His mission, yet in His time of need God sent angels to strengthen Him.

In some ways I think Satan has some fathers and husbands right where he wants them. We hear in the news and I would venture to guess in our communities, of the scandals of men being caught up in sex trafficking and prostitution, married men, men who you would think have everything they could want and need. It’s not hard to look and see where depression and suicide impact the men if our country and of the world. But the pressures of being the head of the household and being a godly husband and father are there and are very real today. The adulterous influences are everywhere around us TV shows sporting events magazines, you name it, its difficult to avoid.

I truly believe that the closer we walk with God, the more Satan turns the screws on us and the more distractions and pressure he throws our way.

In our society and culture today, unfortunately its unmanly for a man to ask for help or be part of a men’s support group. I’ve had a small group of men around me for the last few years, a group of awesome godly men that I know I can call on anytime and ask for prayers and encouragement, and I do the same for them anytime. I started this group because I knew that I would have trials and would need encouragement and for other men to speak God’s Truth into my life. There’s nothing unmanly about recognizing your own weaknesses.

Do I have being a godly husband and father down, absolutely not. Yes I do things to make wife upset and my kids cry. I went through a period in my life that I was not a good husband and father. But after some time I knew I was messing up and dug into God’s Word to see what He wanted and expected of me. I am still very much a work in progress. Our actions or even inactions as husbands and fathers influence and can impact those in our family, sometimes for long periods or even a lifetime.

I also truly believe that if men would grab a hold of their responsibilities as husbands and fathers like they pursued their careers most of of our societal issues would go away. Fortunately we don’t have to be strong enough, we have a God that strengthens us and hears our cries for help. The below devotional is one I get and this one tells about investing in our kids.

I believe we invest in things that are important to us things that are a priority in our life. Some day we will retire from our jobs and professions but we never really retire from being a husband and father.

I like what David told Solomon

“I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, act like a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go
1 Kings 2:2‭-‬3 NIV

We need to act like godly men and walk in obedience to Him. Like Solomon, we need to ask for a hearing heart in order to lead our families.

Being a godly husband and father is definitely not an easy thing to do. Jesus was ridiculed and spat on for loving us, but He completed His mission.

Uncommon Devotional

Go home and live your wife and kids today, be the husband and father God has called you to be. Wives and kids are truly gifts from God.

Worship

I was driving into work this morning and heard the song “O Praise The Name (Anástasis)” by Hillsong on the radio and felt God’s peace and it was great and very much needed.  Its been and incredibly busy week, one where I felt like I was just running.

And then I started thinking why can’t I bring that peace everywhere I go and into everything I do and feel God’s peace every day and in every moment.  But in order to feel that we have to worship in all we do all day long.  Its so easy to just grind out the day and get caught in the everyday happenings of daily life and attempt to run on our own strength.

As a husband and father and son, most of the time I feel like I carry the burdens and the weight of my world, but in reality Jesus is where my strength comes from.  Each morning I get up and spend tie in prayer asking for God’s strength, grace and mercies for the day and thanking Him for the previous day’s strength, mercies and grace.

Psalm 29

1 Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings,

ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;

worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.

3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters;

the God of glory thunders,

the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.

4 The voice of the Lord is powerful;

the voice of the Lord is majestic.

5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;

the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.

6 He makes Lebanon leap like a calf,

Sirion like a young wild ox.

7 The voice of the Lord strikes

with flashes of lightning.

8 The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;

the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.

9 The voice of the Lord twists the oaks

and strips the forests bare.

And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;

the Lord is enthroned as King forever.

11 The Lord gives strength to his people;

the Lord blesses his people with peace.

O Praise His Name – Hillsong

Praise His name and lift His name high!!

I believe, but do i need help with my unbelief?

I believe God has been repeating Himself to me lately.  Feb 16th of my daily devotional, Morning by Morning by Charles Spurgeon, was based on part of Philippians 4:11, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  Spurgeon says “Weeds naturally spring up in the same way covetousness, discontentment and complaining are as natural to us as thorns are to soil” and “Contentment is one of the precious flowers of heaven, and if we desire it , it must be cultivated.”  The point being is we have, as human beings, have a bent to complain and look at the negative and the things we don’t have or wish we had.  But somehow through his trials Paul had learned to be content in all his circumstances.  Which means contentment in all circumstances didn’t come naturally to him either.  Spurgeon goes on to say that there is a great lesson to learning contentment and that Paul probably failed at it many times before “getting it.”

There is not doubt in my mind as I write this and that I believe that God’s word is as true as Truth can get and that all of God’s Word is filled with promises that He is causing all things to work for my good and that His word goes out and does not return void.  But i was reminded of the man in Mark 9, who had a son possessed with an evil spirit and brought him to Jesus because, I’m sure he had only heard about the incredible things Jesus was doing, was desperate enough and asked if Jesus could help.  To which Jesus replied ” ‘If you can?’ Everything is possible for him who believes.”  Mark says the man immediately cried out “I do believe; help me overcome my belief.”

The man obviously had faith in and believed in Jesus being able to cast out the demon from his son, but yet the man still had a faithlessness or unbelief and wanted Jesus to help him with that too.  Learning these lessons is difficult and arduous at times.  But like a precious metal I truly believe I am being refined.  I just struggle with my natural bent to want to complain and, like Peter walking on the water, taking my eyes off Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith.  I am grateful that I have a Savior who knows me and hears me and when I do turn to the right or the left speaks to me saying “This is the way, walk in it.”

I pray that those who read this know Jesus and this encourages them and if you don’t I pray that you would come to know Him, that you would read God’s Word and the incredible promises in it.  Unfortunately life here on earth does not get easier once you become a believer, but you can trust in the fact that you have a Holy Savior walking with you daily and that what’s in store for those who believe is incredibly, beyond our imagination, worth it.  The peace of the Holy Spirit that I have felt at times is amazing.

Who’s your designated driver

Its been a rough week for us in a certain area of our life, and I have been praying for direction and wisdom in order to know what the right thing to do in our situation.  Then I opened up my daily devotional, Morning by Morning by Charles Spurgeon.  The devotional was actually yesterday’s, but the verse was 2 Samuel 5:23 “So David inquired of the Lord.”  The context is that David had just defeated the Philistines and ran them off, but the Philistines came back again and spread out around David and his men. Then in verse 23 it says David again inquired of the Lord.  I believe David had such a heart for God that he wanted to follow God’s will in all situations and because of this God gave him victory again over the Philistines, in fact, for the second battle God gave him the battle plans.

Spurgeon writes about this, “If you want to be able to steer your ship through the darkest, highest waves, place the control of the rudder into the hands of the Almighty.”  We’re much better off allowing God to steer and direct us as we navigate life.

So, I have been praying about this situation today, through Sunday School and church and believe God has answered my prayers and given me direction because I inquired of the Lord.

It amazes me, that when I truly pray for an open heart and for God to speak in my prayer time, He does, not always in that moment or in what I am seeking from Him, but he does.  He is the same God who spoke to David.