Nancy Henry – I love sharing the HOPE of JESUS. "For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12 NLT
“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do? The LORD is in His Holy Temple; the LORD is on His heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth; His eyes examine them.” Psalm 11:3-4 NIV
The very foundations of our world are being destroyed as we sit back and watch. Morals are in the gutter. People are standing on the streets chanting “Up with Satan”. Children are being murdered with society’s blessing. Men and women are marching to celebrate perversity, and dancing naked and nearly so in the streets. Politicians lie with impunity, and live a blatant double standard. Eugenics is alive and well in these United States. Racism is promoted as being “progressive”. Corporations push transgenderism on our children through toys and clothing lines. Christians are persecuted and murdered in many countries. “Entertainment” is actively anti-Christian.
Where do you stand? The very foundations of Christianity are being challenged and watered down to suit the enemy’s agenda, while we – at least, for many – stand by and watch.
“When all that is good falls apart, what can good people do?” (Max Lucado)
I’ve already run for dear life straight to the arms of GOD. So why would I run away now when you say, “Run to the mountains; the evil bows are bent, the wicked arrows Aimed to shoot under cover of darkness at every heart open to GOD. The bottom’s dropped out of the country; good people don’t have a chance”? Psalm 11:1-3 MSG
This verse hit me. The enemy of GOD and all His Children. The leader of the fallen angels. The devil. Satan. Lucifer. Old Scratch. He’s out to get us. Me. You. Any and every person. He only wants to win, and he can’t do that when we pray. I really like the way The Message presents the verse.
“Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” Ephesians 6:13-18 MSG
We are not on our own anymore! When we accept the Gift of Salvation from our LORD Jesus Christ, it’s like painting a bull’s eye on our backs. But see, here’s the thing. Satan may have painted on that bull’s eye, but we have a mighty shield to protect us! Not only has GOD assigned His angels to watch over us, but we have the Holy Spirit on our side. We have GOD’S Word and we have prayer. How’s this for a mental image: if you are leaning against GOD, your back is against Him and the enemy can’t even see the target! If he does get in a shot, we know it can only penetrate us and do damage if we aren’t protected.
Bottom line: Pray. Pray while driving to work or school. Pray while cleaning the house and cooking the meals. Pray (silently) for the person in the store or restaurant who is helping you. Pray before you go to sleep and pray when you wake up. Pray while walking. Pray while waiting. Mess up the enemy’s day! Go through your day with a high hedge of protection from the LORD.
It doesn’t mean that nothing bad will happen. In fact, it will spur the enemy to try all the harder to hurt you and discourage and destroy you. So why pray? It will keep your mind where it belongs, on Jesus, and on what is to come – not what’s happening here. It’s the only way to live.
I’ve been texting with my “little” brother this morning. He’s sending pictures of their place. The garden and greenhouse he built for them. My attempts are so feeble compared to his. It’s not that I don’t want to do better and have better, I just can’t keep up. There was a time when I could. My body has betrayed me, and I hate it. I look at my yard, and I can see how I want it…. and that’s where it remains. In my mind.
Then I opened my devotional by Max Lucado to today’s selection. Tears came. God knew I would be upset, and He arranged this for me to read today. It’s in God is With You Every Day, for May 22, titled Your Best Days. He tells the story of a little boy trying to keep up with his family in an airport, until he plops himself down on his bag and shouts, “I can’t keep up!”
That’s how I feel. “GOD, I can’t keep up!”
Max Lucado goes on to say this: “Sometimes the challenge is just too much. You want to keep up. You try. It’s not that you don’t. Life has a way of taking the life out of us. When you run out of fight,remember that the promises of God are your to claim. God’s Word dares you to believe that your best days are ahead of you. God promises you a Promised Land.”
Thanks, Max. I needed that today. My Promised Land is coming. I know that, and I need to be reminded sometimes. It may not be on this earth, but someday, I’ll have a garden that defies anything I can imagine now. Remember that. Whatever your dream is. Your Promised Land may not be on this earth. Are you confident that you will reach it? Are you a Child of the King, to claim your inheritance?
“You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your GOD gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.” Joshua 23:14 NIV
Satan is devious. He wants us to question God and rebel against Him, but if we forget God, that’s even better. He wants us to succumb to the lusts and pleasures of the flesh. He knows how dark and depraved our human nature truly is. BUT he doesn’t “make us” do things – he can’t force us to do anything, ever … it is OUR choice. “But God,” made us ALIVE. We DESERVE death, but because of God’s Mercy we have LIFE instead of hell and damnation.
Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love. Micah 7:18 NASB1995
But GOD Who pardons our sins and rebellion, Who is limitless, unending, and Who loves us in spite of who and what we are.
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But GOD, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of GOD; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which GOD prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:1-10 NASB1995
Compare: Buddha’s dying words, which were to “strive without ceasing” to the dying words of The CHRIST, Jesus, whose words were “It is finished.” By Grace and through Faith in JESUS we can receive Salvation …. Both of these are gifts of and from God; there is nothing we do can earn them. Because He died…. it was never because of anything I could say or do. No justification.Just like the thief on the cross, it is always just because “the Man on the middle cross told me to come.” We are HIS workmanship; we are HIS Masterpiece!
But GOD demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 NASB1995
O LORD, GOD of my salvation, I cry out to you by day. I come to You at night. Now hear my prayer; listen to my cry. For my life is full of troubles, and death draws near. I am as good as dead, like a strong man with no strength left. They have left me among the dead, and I lie like a corpse in a grave. I am forgotten, cut off from Your care. You have thrown me into the lowest pit, into the darkest depths. Your anger weighs me down; with wave after wave You have engulfed me. You have driven my friends away by making me repulsive to them. I am in a trap with no way of escape. My eyes are blinded by my tears. Each day I beg for Your help, O LORD; I lift my hands to You for mercy. Are Your wonderful deeds of any use to the dead? Do the dead rise up and praise You? Can those in the grave declare Your unfailing love? Can they proclaim Your faithfulness in the place of destruction? Can the darkness speak of Your wonderful deeds? Can anyone in the land of forgetfulness talk about Your righteousness? O LORD, I cry out to You. I will keep on pleading day by day. O LORD, why do You reject me? Why do You turn Your face from me? I have been sick and close to death since my youth. I stand helpless and desperate before Your terrors. Your fierce anger has overwhelmed me. Your terrors have paralyzed me. They swirl around me like floodwaters all day long. They have engulfed me completely. You have taken away my companions and loved ones. Darkness is my closest friend. Psalms 88:1-18 NLT
If you stop reading here, you’ll probably be filled with hopelessness and despair. This Psalm was written by Heman the Ezrahite, a Temple musician, song leader, and a wise and worshipful man. This psalm shows that anyone can suffer from depression. Even the great scholar and preacher Charles Spurgeon suffered terribly from depression. No matter how strongly you believe in God and salvation, depression can be a serious issue. There are many possible causes: situational, systemic (chemical imbalance), physical issues, satanic, or spiritual, but there are things God can teach us in the darkness that we cannot learn in the light. Like in verse 7, it can feel as though God is pouring out His wrath on us, even though we know He doesn’t do that. This Psalm shows that God truly knows how we feel.
Did you know that depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S.? Statistically, we are the saddest, most depressed nation in the world. There’s plenty to be depressed about. Man made viruses, abortion on demand, war and rumors of war, violence threatened against conservatism, out of control inflation, food shortages, the highest gas prices in decades (ever?), and the utter confusion our kids and young people are dealing with with multiple genders and the LGB+ agenda being crammed down their throats from every side. Christians are constantly being attacked, in print and in the news as being bigoted. Being white or light skin automatically labels you as racist. It isn’t okay to be patriotic for our own country or to want our own country safe from invaders ….. but you’d better support sending billions of dollars to other countries to defend their borders! (It’s kind of depressing to me to even write about it!)
What can we do? How do we deal with depression? Keep talking to GOD! Tell Him everything. Cry to Him and with Him. Even our hymns show that other Christians struggle with depression and understand our needs from being depressed: “I need You, Oh, I need You….” “I must tell Jesus”…. Be reverent, but also be honest with God. Be persistent in prayer, even if you are being repetitious. Let the Spirit speak when you can’t form the words. We deserve the darkness because of our sins, but because of JESUS, we don’t have to dwell in it! “No pit is so deep, that He is not deeper still” – Corrie Ten Boom. Don’t be ashamed or let anyone embarrass you for needing antidepressants to help you out of the pit of depression. God gave us doctors for a reason. Let the LORD set you free from the darkness!
I will sing of the Lord’s unfailing love forever! Young and old will hear of your faithfulness. Your unfailing love will last forever. Your faithfulness is as enduring as the heavens. Psalms 89:1-2 NLT
“But when the fullness of the time came, GOD sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, GOD has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “ABBA! FATHER!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through GOD.” Galatians 4:4-7 NASB1995
“And the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.” Matthew 28:5-6 NASB2020
In 50 years (or probably less), no one outside of a few family members will remember my name, or any of my so-called achievements. I won’t be in any history books, and there won’t be any statues or streets named for me. No holidays to remember my life. My reputation and my relationships won’t be of any consequence. That’s okay. I’m not looking for fame.
Here’s what is important. GOD’S Name. His Name is eternal, and immortal. His Name is Holy. David is asking God to for his, David’s, wrongdoing for the sake of the Name above all names, the Name of God Himself. When we call ourselves Christians, everything we do reflects on God, reflects on the Name of God. Going forward, maybe we should be more concerned about the way people see GOD’S Name in us, rather than how they see our name.
There are several reasons to work: to provide for yourself and your family, to do good for the world, and to give God Glory. Whatever kind of work we do, as Christians, our work should always be done well. As we near the end of this earth as we know it, there are some who believe that we (followers of Christ) can just sit back and wait for Jesus to return. Don’t fall for it! Paul gave very specific instructions on this.
“Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business. We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living. As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good.Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.”
There were people in the church in Thessalonica who had become undisciplined and were not working, and instead, were being busybodies and stirring up trouble. All sin being equal, then being a gossip or meddlesome is no better than being murderers and thieves! At the time Paul was writing this, Greek philosophy was prevalent in this society. The thoughts of Aristotle and Plato and the immaterial v. the material world. “Work” was for slaves, and the leisure life was for slave owners and those who could pay others to do their work. There was also the erroneous belief that the world was about to end anyway, so why bother working? Paul makes a point to remind them how he supported himself while he was with them, and he was very clear that if a person was able bodied and hungry, don’t give them food, give them work!
“For you know that you ought to imitate us. We were not idle when we were with you. We never accepted food from anyone without paying for it. We worked hard day and night so we would not be a burden to any of you. We certainly had the right to ask you to feed us, but we wanted to give you an example to follow.” 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9 NLT
Paul’s example is of servant leaders who labor for the good of others. He practiced what he preached. When our motivation is to give God Glory, work is not a burden. He also wrote this to the Colossians about work.
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” Colossians 3:23 NLT
Paul has couched this letter in no uncertain terms: he starts in verse 6 with the word command. These are his (our) “brothers and sisters”, fellow Christians, the people who make up the church. Those among them (us) who defy this instruction are not to be associated with, but are to be warned. Shamed, NOT shaming. The goal is always restoration to fellowship and the LORD’S table.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we give you this command in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Stay away from all believers who live idle lives and don’t follow the tradition they received from us. ….. Take note of those who refuse to obey what we say in this letter. Stay away from them so they will be ashamed. Don’t think of them as enemies, but warn them as you would a brother or sister.” 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14-15 NLT