Friday, June 30, 2017

Psalm 13

Psalm 13
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts?
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

From our deepest pits of despair come some of the most beautiful moments of our lives.  Sometimes when we are at our darkest, we are most willing to let God do anything with us that He wants to, therefore allowing Him to do incredible things in our lives.  It may be a long wait from the time we call out to Him in despair, to the moment we see the beautifulness of our broken. 
David wrote the Psalm above when he was in the middle of a very long trial, in despair, and feeling abandoned by God.  He felt forgotten and that God must not care because He was so silent when David needed Him the most.  We all can relate to those feelings.  Hope can hide very well in the darkness of despair.  When we can’t see the solution to our problems with our human eyes and it seems that all our prayers are going nowhere, hope fades fast.  It feels like our situation will never be better and our enemies (or life) is beating us down, over and over again.  In this situation, seconds feel like hours anyway, but often God allows us to stay in a holding pattern for a purpose. 
David starts by crying out, and then shouting.  You can just imagine, at least I can because I know I am guilty of the same thing.  I start crying out softly to God and as time passes, I am louder about my requests.  David might have felt that God was not listening to him because nothing was getting any better.  He saw no hope and for a moment, he panicked and lost it when the anguish turned to desperation.  Somewhere along the way David gets ahold of himself and turns it around and begins to hope again.  He began to realize that his only hope was God and that he had to just trust in him and wait.  And David knows waiting is the hardest part.  Then he decided to praise while he was waiting.  The sacrifice of praise.  When we are in pain and we can turn the anguish to praise, it becomes one of the sweetest emotions ever experienced.  This is praise that is the result of realizing that the situation may not change, but God is still God, and regardless of what it feels like at the time, He is still good.  This is from being resolved to the facts, knowing that it is what it is, and I will praise God and give Him glory no matter what.  David came full circle, from despair to praise.  He was able to see past the moment to his future in Christ.  Make that your goal the next time you are in despair.  Look ahead, past the momentary struggle to the deliverance ahead of you.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Learning to Drive

Submitted by David Miller

I have great respect for those people that run a driving school and teach others how to drive (I also give those cars with the "student driver" sign on them A LOT of room). I taught both my son and daughter how to drive, and let me tell you, it was a real adventure for me in patience, understanding, and anger management. I remember that there were times that I had to verbally correct them and even times that I had to reach out and grab the wheel to keep us going in the right direction or not crashing and burning.  But as we drove around, I began to understand that for me, the greater lesson was in knowing when to say or do nothing. The only way they would truly learn to drive is if they did it themselves without my constant intervention. Mistakes would have to be made and the handling of the car would certainly be less than comfortable on mine and any other passenger's part, but learning would take place, and that was the goal. Road testing is a must.
Really, when you look at it, it is not much different than how the Lord moves in our own life. Without a doubt, just as I always sat next to my kids as they learned to drive, the Lord is always with us. Jesus, in giving the great commission*, concluded by saying,
"and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:20 (KJV)
We hear the same message in Hebrews 13: 5*-6 when it says, "for He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you, nor forsake you' so that we confidently say, 'The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?'"
Our Father will always be with us and can come to our aid when we need Him to. However, I also believe that there are those times when He will simply do nothing and say nothing. How else will we learn? How else will we grow? That's why James 1:2-4* says, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."
You might say, we have no money to pay the bills. We hate our jobs, or worse, can't find one. Our relationships at home more resemble a battle zone than a family. Persecution breaks out all over the place, and the devil hits our weak spots so hard we can't hardly think straight let alone live straight. It feels like our lives are "wobbling" out of control. If we didn't know better we might say that the Father has abandoned us, but we know He promised he would never do that. He's simply doing nothing and saying nothing so that we can learn and grow. Our faith is being "road tested." If things get too out of hand, He can, and will, take the wheel. But in the meantime, we need to find that joy that James wrote about, because in the end we will be those people "lacking nothing."

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Radical Gratitude

Submitted by David Miller
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.  Colossians 2:7 NIV
An attitude of radical gratitude is God’s will for you because it develops your faith.
How does gratitude develop faith? It happens when times are tough, when things don’t make sense, when you can’t figure it out, when your prayers are unanswered, when everything is going the way you didn’t want it to go. It happens when you can say in those circumstances, “God, I know You’re in control. I know You love me, and I know You can bring good out of this. I’m thankful that You’re bigger than my problem.” 
Anybody can thank God for good things. But if you can thank God even in the bad times, your faith will grow stronger as your roots go deeper. 
Habakkuk was going through tough times. He said, Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV).
During all the bad things that went wrong, Habakkuk rejoiced. When everything else stinks in life, you can be grateful because the Lord is your Savior. He will pull you out. You are not by yourself. He hasn’t abandoned you. Give thanks to God!
That is the ultimate test of the depth of your faith. Can you thank God when life stinks? When you’re going through tough times, don’t look at what’s lost. Look at what’s left, and be grateful for it! 
In all things, you can be thankful to God just for being God. He has promised to see you through those tough situations, and your faith will grow even stronger because of it.
Colossians 2:7 says, …rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
God’s will is radical gratitude. In all things give thanks. Why? Gratitude honors God, it creates fellowship, and it develops your faith. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

For The Hard Days

Submitted by Lara Cook
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparisonas we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18l

There are days... days when I feel the weight of oppression so heavy on me that I can barely breathe or move.  On these days, there is hope, but I cannot see it or feel it.  These are the days that make Satan happy because he thinks he has won a battle.  But he has not won anything.  Even momentary affliction serves a purpose as stated in the scripture above.  Ann Voskamprecently posted:
…there is a plan and there is a purpose and there is a God in heaven who didn’t just ink you onto the palm of His hands but etched your name right into Himself with nails and He’s hasn’t just got your number, He’s got your heart. He sees you, hidden in Him, and you aren’t ever forgotten because God can’t forget those right in Him. You’ve never missed the boat when you’re holding onto the Cross.   Because God’s writing your story and He never leaves you alone in your story, and His perfect love absorbs all your fear and His perfect grace carries all your burdens, and your story is a happily ever after because Christ bought your happily ever afterso you always know how this story ends: You’re going to be okay.

Beautiful wordsOn the hard days, it is so hard to remember this…there is a God, and He is in control.  Even the hard days are part of His plan and somehow they are serving a purpose.  These earthly troubles are “light” and “momentary” in the grand scheme of things, but they feel so crushing at the time.  And yet… they are only serving to make us better, preparing us for eternal glory.  At the time, we are suffocating under the weight of them, we are usually not thinking about the weight of eternal glory beyond all comparison.  We are focusing on the weight of the moment – the troubles, the pain, the struggle.  

If the only place we look for hope are in the things of this world, we will never have true hope.  If on these hard days I only seek comfort in the things that are seen, I will likely never feel better.  Comfort and hope can only be found in Jesus Christ and on the hard days, it is the things that are unseen that pull me through. 

Scripture to Claim:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.  2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Monday, June 26, 2017


Submitted by Lara Cook
And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.  Matthew 13:22

Some say the grass is always greener on the other side, and others say the grass is greener where you water it.  I fall into the group that believes the second statement, the grass is greener where you water it.  But recently I have come to understand that you can water a garden and water your grass, but you still must diligently pull the weeds and eliminate the stickers, or your beautiful green grass will still be ruined.  Stickers don’t like water.  They thrive in the dry, parched grass, but they will grow in green, watered grass as well.  So, watering is a start, but you still need to pull the weeds as soon as they start growing or you will have a beautiful green sticker patch.  

Much like stickers and weeds in the green grass in our yard, stickers can also grow in our relationship with Christ and others such as a spouse.  Sometimes we get comfortable putting the minimum amount of effort into the most important areas of our lives.  We pour a little into it with one hand while we are distracted and doing something else with the other.  If we are not diligent and attentive, the weeds can grow and the stickers will come.  The weeds will choke out and overcome the good, green grass and keep it from maturing.  The stickers will stick you every time you reach down to try and get them out.  And you must be careful to get rid of the whole “plant”.  I am notorious for pulling the weeds from my flowerbed and tossing them into the grass.  I am not eliminating the problem, just spreading it!  

We must be intentional in our relationship with Christ and others.  We need to be diligent and nurture them.  Don’t let Satan distract you.  It takes more than just doing the “right thing” to nurture and grow your relationship to God.  Just pouring a little water on the grass is not enough.  Be attentive and watch for the weeds to grow and pull them immediately.  

Scripture to Claim:
Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Apostle by Chapter 2 | Thessalonians Chapter 3

By Sam Nobles

As this letter draws to a close, the Apostle Paul felt the need to ask the believers in the Thessalonian church to pray for him in three distinct areas: (1) for the spreading of the gospel message; (2) for the success of the gospel message; (3) for the protection of those delivering that message (v.1-5).

It seems clear from the writing, that some of the believers in Thessalonica had stopped working because they were so wrapped up in waiting for the Lord's return. Paul does not encourage this as a spiritual attitude, but proceeds to give definite instructions as to how to deal with such brethren.[1] (v.6-15).

·      First, Paul told them to stay away from those who refuse to work, and sponges off others (v.6). The believers in Thessalonica were to show their discontentment of such a believer by not having anything to do with them socially.
·      Secondly, Paul instructs the Thessalonian believers to imitate them – the apostles (v.7-10). No one could accuse them of using someone's home and eating the food which someone bought. In fact, the Apostle Paul earned his own living while he was preaching the gospel as a tent-maker (Acts 18:3).
·      Third, using a play on words, the Apostle Paul tells the Thessalonian believers that there are “some who don't attend to business but are busybodies.” There are also “some that are not busy people but are busybodies.” Still, there are “some that are not busy in their own business, but are over-busy in other people's business; minding everybody else's business but their own”[1] (v.11-12).

As Paul closes his instruction to the church in Thessalonica, he does so with encouragement and warning for the believers. For those who had been working faithfully, they were admonished to keep on doing so, and not to become disappointed (v.13). For those who would refuse the instruction, a final warning is given for the rest of the church to have nothing to do with those people until they were ashamed of their behavior (v.14-15).

The final words of Paul to the believers of Thessalonica was that he genuinely loved them as brothers and sisters in Christ (v.16). Even through his apparent disability, he wrote this letter in his own handwriting, which was not always the case (v.17-18).

Scripture to Claim:

“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3 ESV)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Apostle by Chapter 2 | Thessalonians Chapter 2

By Sam Nobles

The task in understanding this particular chapter is that it is a supplement to what Paul had already taught the Thessalonians orally, and we don't know exactly what was said, but the ideas are clear enough that we can have a clue on how to piece it together.[i] Apparently, a misunderstanding of Paul's teaching had caused the Thessalonians to be troubled. Their fears centered on the idea that the day of Christ had already come, and they were going through the Great Tribulation (v.1).

Paul reassures the Thessalonian believers that the Great Tribulation had not occurred because there are two events that will precede it: A worldwide apostasy, and the appearance of a “man of lawlessness”, a “son of destruction”, the antichrist (v.2-3). Paul goes into painstaking detail to describe the acts and character of this horrible man so the Thessalonians will know this has not yet happened (v.4-12).

In the first twelve verses, Paul described the doom of the antichrist and his followers. Now he turns to the Thessalonian Christians and thinks of their calling and destiny by way of contrast. As he does so, he expresses thanks to God for these brethren beloved by the Lord, and proceeds to give a summary of their salvation—past, present, and future.[ii]

First, Paul lets the Thessalonian church that their election by the Lord was a first-fruits,
indicating that the Thessalonians were not only chosen by God in eternity past, but they were also saved so early in the Christian dispensation that they were considered to be among the first of a great harvest of those redeemed for God (v.13-14).

Lastly, Paul encourages the Christians in Thessalonica to stand firm and keep a strong grip on the truth. If you stand on the Word of God, you will not fall for the devil’s lies. God’s people can face the future with assurance, hope, and comfort because of the unfailing grace of God.[iii]

Scripture to Claim:
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 ESV)

[i] David Guzik, 1-2 Thessalonians (Enduring Word Media, 2013).
[ii] Believer’s Bible Commentary, Second Edition, accessed May 16, 2017,
[iii] Be Ready (1 & 2 Thessalonians), accessed May 16, 2017,

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