Trust In GOD

“Who out there fears GOD, actually listens to the Voice of His servant? For anyone out there who doesn’t know where you’re going, anyone groping in the dark, Here’s what: Trust in God. Lean on your GOD! But if all you’re after is making trouble, playing with fire, Go ahead and see where it gets you. Set your fires, stir people up, blow on the flames, But don’t expect ME to just stand there and watch. I’ll hold your feet to those flames.” Isaiah 50:10‭-‬11 MSG

I wonder a lot about why we have to suffer so much; why people have to go through so many hardships. I’m reading a devotional by Elizabeth Elliot, called Suffering is Never for Nothing. If you are going through a period of suffering, it’s well worth your time to read. Even if you are in a good time of your life, it’s very insightful. She refers to this verse from Psalms 34:1, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Then she says this:

“Just start thanking God in advance because no matter what is about to happen, you already know that God is in charge. You are not adrift in a sea of chaos. So, what is there to be grateful for in the midst of suffering? Well, God is still love. Nothing has changed that. God is still God. He’s sovereign. He’s got the whole world in His hands.”

Just think on that for a minute. Is your world falling in on your head? I know how that feels, and how utterly helpless and hopeless it can feel to be in the midst of it. But think on that verse.

“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

Every Good Thing; It’s Simple

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from Above, coming down from the Father of Lights, with Whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17 NASB

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:27‭-‬30 NASB

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:7‭, ‬9‭-‬10 ESV

“But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart , ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), or ‘Who will descend into the abyss ?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” But what does it say? “The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart ” – that is, the Word of Faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as LORD, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same LORD is LORD of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the Name of the LORD will be saved.” So Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ.” Romans 10:6‭-‬13‭, ‬17 NASB

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 NASB

Is there a simpler, more easily understood way to say it?

Christian Living

“But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are Blessed. And do not fear their intimidation , and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as LORD in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the Hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.”
1 Peter 3:14‭-‬16 NASB

This verse should constantly be on my lips and in my heart: “always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the Hope that is in you” ….

Are you Blessed; do you have Hope? Are you ready, with gentleness and reverence, to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others, especially in the face of scepticism and derision? Are afraid of upsetting – or even angering – friends or family with your testimony of the saving Grace of Jesus?

I answer ‘yes’ to each of my questions, but am I being truthful? I am Blessed, I have Hope eternal, but I find myself holding back when I should be sharing the Love of Jesus, because I don’t want to upset or anger someone. But then, is that even the truth? I have no problem telling anyone that I am a patriot and staunch defender of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution. I happen to like firearms and shooting. I’m not afraid of offending anyone, because I know that I am correct in doing so, and yet all of that pales in comparison to Eternity, and the SAVING GRACE of my Saviour Jesus Christ! I’m so glad Jesus loves me in spite of myself!

Humans are so weird.

I Am No Longer Bound By Fear

“But I rejoiced in the LORD greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:10-13 NASB

We can’t control what is without us, but we can control what is within us. Contentment is dynamic; it is not complacency or settling, but in very circumstance and every situation, it is glad submission to God’s providence. Contentment isn’t based on the “if only’s” – not “when you have” but what you have in your heart. The LORD wants us to have it through all the circumstances of life, whether in plenty or in want. It has to be learned over a lifetime, by experience and hard work. “All things” means the ups and downs, the fluctuations of life, ALL the circumstances of life, and it comes from the One Who is constantly pouring His strength into me. It is up to me/you to stay in contact with Him. Contentment does not come from WHAT we have but from WHO we have, because to be content is to be satisfied, and we gain it with the sufficiency and adequacy of Christ. Both abundance and loss will pass. GOD is the ONLY constant in life.

“He only is my Rock and my Salvation, My Stronghold; I shall not be shaken.” Psalms 62:6 NASB

I am no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of GOD.

“Now to Him Who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the Power that works within us, to Him be the Glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20‭-‬21 NASB

Worship the Creator

“Thus says the LORD, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD.” Isaiah 66:1‭-‬2a NASB

Who are we to question the Creator? Who is man, to build fancy buildings and claim that they are GOD’S house? How do we become so arrogant as to believe that something we put together is sufficient for Him?

I have been blessed to be able to travel some in Europe, and see some of the stunning, soaring architectural features of many cathedrals. I’ve been in the backwoods of middle America, and in the Southwestern states, and witnessed majestic churches and humble adobe ones. The awe that I felt was the same for all. Stepping into a building that is dedicated to the LORD brings a sense of worship to me. I have felt His Presence.

BUT.

I have felt the majesty of my God even more profoundly out in His Creation. Have you ever stood on the edge of a mountain at sunrise, or sunset? Have you witnessed the unspeakable grandeur of the Grand Canyon? Have you stood in a creek at daybreak, witness to His creatures waking to a new dawn? Have you been in a field, listening to His breath as it brushes across your skin? Watching clouds as they appear to boil up on the horizon, or been caught out in a summer rain shower? It amazes me that anyone can see these things, and still refuse to acknowledge our Almighty God!

For all of history, man has been trying to impress God with buildings. I’m not against church buildings. They serve a necessary purpose for the gathering together of fellow believers. It’s when we try to out-majesty the Majesty of our God that we often begin to go astray. Are we trying to impress God, or people? I’m not against pretty churches. I attend a pretty (in my opinion) church. I have enjoyed visiting God’s church buildings across the U.S. and Europe. I’m just afraid that we get too caught up, sometimes, in “going” to church. Especially now, in this weird time of social distancing and not being able to join together in our usual manner, we have the opportunity to observe God in His Creation and worship with Him there.

If you are able, take your online worship outside. Use our Savior’s beautiful creation to enhance your time. I think He will be pleased with us. Even my humble backyard is a part of His glorious world.

Attitude of Gratitude

In recovery programs, this is a key concept. Since beginning my steps into a life free of of codependency, I know I’ve heard the phrase hundreds, if not thousands of times. Have an attitude of gratitude. Make a gratitude list. When we take time out of our misery – because that’s what addictions are – and make time to write a few things we’re grateful for, it moves our focus onto something good.

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the LORD Himself is GOD; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the LORD is Good; His Lovingkindness is everlasting And His Faithfulness to all generations.” Psalms 100:1‭-‬5 NASB

What five things can you write down that you are thankful for today? Make a list; write them down!

1) LORD, I’m grateful for a warm house today!

2) Thank You for my part time job at the little local grocery down the street.

3) Thank You, God, for Christian radio, that I can listen to 24/7 if I choose.

4) I’m grateful for 2 little dogs who wormed their way into my life and who taught me how to spoil them.

5) Thank You, LORD, for the financial hardships that encourage me to trust in You for my sustenance daily. Amen.

Reflections on Life in 2019

This past year is not how I expected my life to be at this point. My plan was to be contentedly – if not happily – married, retired and living on a small farm, traveling, and living a comfortable life with family and friends close.

God, apparently, has something different in mind!

Single for the past 10 years, widowed since 2001, unemployed for since April 2016 except for a little part time work….. NOT the way I saw my life!

A year ago I moved 35 miles to be closer to my Oklahoma family; Mom, sister, nieces, and their families. We have other family (4 more siblings and their families!) and it’s the most I’ve been involved with my immediate family since my college years. It has been a huge blessing to be this close for the past year. Since moving, I’ve been attending worship services with my Mom, and what a blessing that has been to me, too. Being able to participate regularly in corporate worship is something that we don’t give enough credit to, and hearing the teaching of God’s Word is incomparable. If you haven’t been attending church regularly, I can’t recommend it strongly enough. We need it in order to focus on the important things in life. I want to be like Simeon, for I have, too, seen the LORD’S CHRIST, Who is JESUS:

“Now LORD, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your Word; For my eyes have seen Your Salvation, Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, A Light of revelation to the Gentiles, And the Glory of Your people Israel.” Luke 2:29‭-‬32‭ NASB

There is insanity in our country’s capital, and the liberals and socialists are attempting to overrun this great nation we live in. Every day, the news is full of murder and mayhem. Christians and conservatives have become the ‘whipping boys’ of society, and political correctness is making it difficult to speak without offending someone. At times, I am filled with hopelessness and despair at everything that is going on. In spite of all this, and even though I still don’t know what plan God has for me and my life, I have HOPE.

Happy 2020.

We Are Insufficient

“Blessed be the LORD, Who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant. May the LORD our GOD be with us, as He was with our fathers; may He not leave us or forsake us, that He may incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways and to keep His Commandments and His Statutes and His Ordinances, which He commanded our fathers. And may these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the LORD, be near to the LORD our GOD day and night, that He may maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel, as each day requires, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is GOD; there is no one else. Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the LORD our GOD, to walk in His Statutes and to keep His Commandments, as at this day.”

In 1 Kings 8 we learn about the temple Solomon builds for the LORD GOD. To build today, it would cost $200 billion dollars, or $60 million dollars per square foot* for Solomon’s temple; just the building itself. For reference, the average square foot price in the Oklahoma City Metro area is $117*, according to Zillow Real Estate Marketplace.

[See 2 Samuel 6:13 for the story of moving the Ark containing the tablets of Moses with the Ten Commandments to Jerusalem. We learn in that passage that Aaron’s rod and the pot of manna are no longer in the ark.]

Consider the scope of this day:

“And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who were assembled to him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen they could not be counted or numbered.” 1 Kings 8:5 NASB

Nothing we can do is sufficient; and these passages highlight just how insufficient we are. 1 Kings 8:1-64 describes the temple Solomon built to house the Ark of the LORD; to glorify the Most High God. In spite of being the most beautiful, expensive building (v27) ever built, it is insufficient for God. The countless sacrificial animals are insufficient. The priests are insufficient. The altars are insufficient. The immense sacrifice of all of the animals was insufficient. God’s PRESENCE was there, but He doesn’t LIVE there. Anything we can do is insufficient, because GOD ALONE is sufficient for us, for every area of life. It took the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus (Hebrews 9:26) to be sufficient to cover our sins.

The significance of this passage is to highlight the insufficiency of man, and the sufficiency of God. It talks of God’s Presence (v.57,59), God’s Power (v58), God’s Passion (v.60), and God’s Pardon (v.62-63). Seven times in the chapter Solomon highlights the listening of God.

Now the king and all Israel with him offered sacrifice before the LORD. Solomon offered for the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered to the LORD, 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. So the king and all the sons of Israel dedicated the house of the LORD. On the same day the king consecrated the middle of the court that was before the house of the LORD, because there he offered the burnt offering and the grain offering and the fat of the peace offerings; for the bronze altar that was before the LORD was too small to hold the burnt offering and the grain offering and the fat of the peace offerings.” 1 Kings 8:56‭-‬64 NASB

Where is your significance? Does it it lie in Jesus Christ alone, or are you still trying to prove your own sufficiency to the LORD GOD of the Universe?

To Honor Those Who Serve….

I wrote this 4 years ago, but I think it’s worth sharing again. I want to acknowlege a few of the pastors who have touched my life and helped me in my journey through life: my Dad, Bill Henry. Mark Hitchcock. Dennis Newkirk. Chuck Robinson. Lonny Lee. There are many others, and I’m not leaving you off to offend you!

As a nation, we have several designated days for remembering. Yesterday was the anniversary of an unfathomable tragedy for these United States. In May, we honor our fallen service men and women; in November, D-day.

EVERY day of the year is an anniversary for honoring someone who has given their life for another. It is Army and Air Force, Marines and Navy; Police officers and firemen. Ambulance personnel, EMT’s and ER doctors and nurses. Airline pilots and personnel. Everyday, ordinary people. Pastors.

Why would I add “Pastors” to this list?

Have you looked at your pastor lately? REALLY looked? I’m not speaking of preachers who stand in the pulpit on Sundays and lead separate lives during the week, or the ones who are all about appearance and wealth. I’m talking about Pastors, and missionaries who devote their lives to service. Men who love their spiritual flock as their own families. Men – and their wives – who sacrifice themselves to God and His work.

We, as their flocks, their congregations, are doing better these days to recognize their need for respite from their service, I think – but our pastors need our care and support. Physical care and support, obviously, but even more importantly they need our emotional and spiritual support.

My Dad served in the United States Merchant Marines as a radio officer during WWII. Over the course of his life, my Dad gave his life in total to serving his Lord and his flocks at the expense of his health. Wherever, whenever he was called, he gave everything he had, even at times at the expense of the family. Even during his last days on this earth he was witnessing to his health care workers. He gave all. What an example.

To me, he was and is a great example of a hero.

Every day, I miss him. I can’t wait to see him and have his arms around me in heaven. Let’s dance, Daddy. I love you.