To Every Season

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven- A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace. ….He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1‭-‬8, 11 NASB

In the late 1950’s, songwriter Pete Seeger created the song Turn, Turn, Turn as an almost word-for-word rendition of verses 1-8 of this scripture passage. It has been recorded and re-recorded, and it is an amazing, beautiful platform for King Solomon’s words. But keep reading…. “He has made everything appropriate in its time.” We don’t understand God (how can we??), or why things happen the way they do, or even what we are supposed to do with our circumstances, but He does.

I’d like to know my appointed times. Well, sometimes I think I would. Other times, I don’t want to know! What would be the point in luving life, if we already knew everything that was going to happen, and when it would happen? Where would the adventure be? Anticipation? Excitement? Life would be dull. Monotonous. There wouldn’t be a reason to make any decisions. Even though I wouldn’t mind skipping the ugly parts of life, how could we possibly know just how good the good times are if there weren’t something to compare them to?

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the Will of the LORD is.” – Ephesians 5:15‭-‬17 NASB

God gave us free will. It’s up to us to make the most of it. Grab that moment of happiness, that ray of sunshine through the clouds. Hold on to the good. Spend time with the LORD, determining the best next step. Pray. Praise. Determine to let the Love of the LORD shine on you, no matter how tattered and confused you feel today. Dwell in Him.

Advertisements

Take A Break From Control

Reading my devotional this morning, I read this and it really struck home:

It’s leaving our work and striving behind to allow God to handle it, knowing that it’s not we who hold the earth in the balance, but Him. It’s trading the unhealthy illusion of control and the addiction of distraction for the beneficial gift of presence. It’s giving up the hustle and having confidence God will take care of things while we take a break.” (from Kate Merrick #HereNowBook)

Such truth! Everything we do seems like it comes back to trying to control our environments, and that is a completely impossible task. Doesn’t matter how hard you work or how much money you might have, you cannot control life. Oh, we might have a semblance of control, but it can be snatched away in an instant. Spouses and loved ones disappoint. Businesses fail. Money markets crash. Homes burn. People die. Hopelessness can overtake us in an instant, even for those of us who love the Lord and count Him as our King.

Can you even imagine how much more devastating such losses must be for someone who is doing it all on their own strength, by themself? I believe that’s why depression and suicide are so prevelant. There is really no hope outside of our Lord and Saviour. I deal with disappointment and loss and setbacks, seems like almost on a daily basis, and I cannot contemplate being here without Jesus.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9 NASB

Hallelujah! What a BLESSING we have in Jesus!

Can You Pay The Taxes Due?

(24) “When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax [the Temple tax; collected each year from every male over the age of 20**] came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?” (25) He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?” (26) When Peter said, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are exempt.” – Matthew 17:24‭-‬26 NASB

** “When you take a census of the sons of Israel to number them, then each one of them shall give a ransom for himself to the LORD, when you number them, so that there will be no plague among them when you number them.” – Exodus 30:12 NASB **

These verses tell us some incredible truths.

Jesus knows everything; He is Omniscient. He is the silent listener to every conversation. He spoke, before Peter had a chance to tell Him of the encounter. He already knew about it! He not only knows all, but He is in control of all, and He cares down to the tiniest details. In verse 25, He asks Peter for his opinion, just as He is always listening to ours.

Jesus is the Son of God, Ruler, King, and Head of the Church. He owns everything. Malachi 3:1b says “And the Lord, Whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the Messenger of the Covenant, in Whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts.” – Malachi 3:1 NASB

He already owns the Temple, so why should He pay this tax? He was exempt! Instead of arguing with the tax collectors, Jesus shows us His humility. He paid the tax to avoid offending the tax collectors. It is a wonderful example that He gives us, to forego His rights for the sake of others. The Jews paid ransom money (the Temple tax) as a substitute to going to Jerusalem and working in the Temple, and they paid the priests through their offerings to be sacrificed as the ransom for their sins. We’re exempt! Jesus pays the ransom for Peter here, just as He pays the ransom for us. We owe a ransom to God for our sin, but we are spiritually destitute. We can’t pay the taxes due – so Jesus paid it for us. JESUS pays all; He ransoms all, so we no longer need to!

“For there is ONE God, and ONE Mediator also between GOD and men, the man CHRIST JESUS, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.” – 1 Timothy 2:5‭-‬6 NASB

That’s the BEST News ever!

Victory

Oh Victory in Jesus, my Saviour, FOREVER….

Such a great hymn! Do you happen to know it? With so many churches going to Praise and Worship music, a lot of the older hymns are falling by the wayside, and people don’t get to hear the beautiful stories they tell. Don’t get me wrong! I love singing and praising the Lord, whatever the music. This one, Victory in Jesus, makes me want to jump up and raise my hands – think about it. We are Victorious!

” ‘No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me,’ declares the LORD.” – Isaiah 54:17 NASB

No weapon. Isn’t that the perfect verse? And this:

“….. but thanks be to GOD, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 15:57 NASB

No matter what happens, my God has my back. When I’m in the midst of a crisis, even – especially even – when it’s one I have created, I don’t always remember this. I’m not in control of my life, regardless of how hard I try to be! We are all at the Mercy of the Living LORD. The enemy is constantly looking for ways to trip us up, and he will definitely use our own words and actions against us. He and his minions want us to fall and to fail, and to forget what we have to look forward to in our Eternity with Christ. If he can keep us looking behind us, focusing on our pasts, then we can’t be looking forward…… and when we aren’t looking forward, we trip. I don’t mean not to remember our pasts. It’s important to remember, so that we don’t go down those paths again. Just don’t dwell on it. (If you are OCD like me, you know that I am fully aware of just how difficult that can be!)

HOWEVER……

Look at these words the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus:

“Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory. For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness 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 3:153-‬21 NASB

Our LORD, our Jesus, is not constrained by the bounds of sinful humanity. He can do anything, and He can do it in ways that are beyond our comprehension; beyond anything we can conjour up in our imaginations. Don’t be afraid to have honest conversations with Him. Ask Him for the desire of your heart. Be specific. Above all else, remember this:

” ‘No weapon that is formed against you will prosper’ ….. declares the LORD.” – Isaiah 54:17

Can I get an Amen???

https://bible.com/bible

GOD is My Refuge and Strength

“GOD is our Refuge and Strength, A very present help in trouble.” – Psalms 46:1 NASB

Big Daddy Weave sings this song called Alive. Here’s an excerpt:

I am far from being perfect
There are days that I regret
On this battlefield I struggle
With the lies that I have lived
I have fallen short of glory
I can’t make it on my own
If You kept record of my past
I’d be sinking like a stone

But God, rich in mercy
You came to save me
Now I’m alive**

Without Him, where would I be? Probably not alive! Oh, God, how I need You in my life! There is nothing I can do or say that can negate that, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. His Mercy and Grace sustain me. Everyday life gets to me sometimes, tying my stomach in knots when siruations spiral out of my control….. which means my stomach is tied in knots a lot!

Can the God Who created the Universe care about me and my everyday concerns? Can He, does He, care about my feelings? Jesus says that not only He can care, He does care about each and every single one of us!

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” ….. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:25‭, ‬33‭-‬34 NASB

Whenever I catch myself getting tense and anxious, these are the verses I need to be thinking of. No matter what is going on, He is with me.

“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose Word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?” – Psalms 56:3‭-‬4‭, ‬8 NASB

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6‭-‬7 NASB

What are you anxious about today? What twists your mind and your stomach into knots; what are you afraid of? Spend time in prayer, just talking to the LORD. It still amazes me that I can have a conversation with Him!

Thank You, LORD, for sending Your Son so that I can have a life in eternity with You. All the petty things in this life that I get twisted into knots over – I know in my heart You have it all under control! Now, if you could just get my head to follow along….. The relationship I pray for is in your hands. My home, my finances, my health. Thank You for removing those burdens from my soul. In Your Precious Name, I lay my heart. Amen.

**Alive by Big Daddy Weave Publishing: © So Essential Tunes / Fellow Ships Music (SESAC). Admin by Essential Music., Be Essential Songs / Anthems of Hope / Westeria Drive (BMI). Admin by Essential Music., So Essential Tunes / Hickory Bill Doc (SESAC). Admin by Essential Music / Writer(s): Jason Ingram, Zach Williams, and Jonathan Smith

Worried?

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” – 1 PETER 5:6‭-‬7 NASB

Verse 7, especially, is favorite verse of many, used to assure people that God loves them, and it’s true! He loves us very much, and He wants us to cast aside our anxieties, our worries, onto Him to carry instead of us. But, is it okay to just quote verse 7? It must be taken in context, as we should be diligent to use any scriptures. Verse 7 is not a new sentence, and must be included with verse 6. In humility, give your cares to God….. Are we doing this? Do we hand over our worries and our anxieties in humility? Worry is overwhelming! It is chocked off, divided; it gives a small thing a BIG shadow, and it can give us the ILLUSION of control. Worry is telling God we don’t trust Him to take care of the things that matter to our hearts. Our pride takes over, evidence of a prideful heart – the opposite of humility. Pride prevents us from giving our worries and anxieties to God. The word used here in verse 7 is singular, so it includes all of our anxiety, worry, and what if’s in one big bundle….. not some of them, ALL of them.

Sometimes it’s easy to get our concern confused with our anxiety. Concern is different; it’s a “good” worry. Concern isn’t self-focused or self-reliant. Jesus modeled the attitude and behavior for us; the perfect example:

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. …..but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” – PHILIPPIANS 2:3-4, 7 NASB

Like David, in Psalm 55, we need to turn our worry and anxiety over to God, and have confidence that He will provide what we need. (Remember though, need is not always the same as want!) Concern is not worry. Trust God – Carry it or cast it on Him. Trade worry for trust.

Thank God for what He is going to do instead of trying to fix it myself. He already took care of our biggest burden, our sin burden. why wouldn’t he take care of our little burdens?

I Surrender

“Lord, make me humble, but don’t let me know it.” Dwight L Moody

Continuing Pastor Mark Hitchcock’s sermon from Sunday …… he talked about humility in our Christian life. It makes me wonder why so many Christians are so proud.

“You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” – 1 PETER 5:5‭-‬7 NASB

“Pride is the soil from which all sin grows.” Mark Hitchcock

Merriam-Webster describes “servant” as “someone that serves other. A “subject” is “to make oneself amenable to the discipline and authority of another,” or, to be under someone, a servant, of service to someone else; humble. nothing we can do on our own, all depends on GOD. The phrase here, to “clothe yourselves” means to tie it on, like an apron on a servant – like Jesus did when He washed the disciples feet.

“….. and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to – continually fighting, open warfare – the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (Proverbs 3:34, 16:5, 6:16-19) Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, ….” – 1 PETER 5:5‭-‬6 (Deuteronomy 8:2-6, James 4:10)

“Clothed in humility” ….. are we scantally clad?

Do you see what the message is? We must consciously come under the Hand of GOD. Not just in this moment, but continuously, as we go through life. It’s so easy to let pride, the I can do it attitude, creep in! GOD will exalt the humble, not man. It may be this life, and it may not be, but it will definitely be in GOD’s Kingdom and Eternity.

Remember these words of the old hymn by Judson W. Van DeVenter, published in 1896? This is what he said of his inspiration for the hymn:

For some time, I had struggled between developing my talents in the field of art and going into full-time evangelistic work. At last the pivotal hour of my life came, and I surrendered all. A new day was ushered into my life. I became an evangelist and discovered down deep in my soul a talent hitherto unknown to me. God had hidden a song in my heart, and touching a tender chord, He caused me to sing. (Emphasis mine)

I Surrender All
All to Jesus I surrender,
All to him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust him,
In his presence daily live.

Refrain:
I surrender all,
I surrender all,
All to thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

I surrender all, I surrender all, All to Jesus, I surrender all.