In The Midst Of It All!

In The Midst Of It All!

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way, and mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.  God is within her, she will not fail; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.  He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Psalm 46 NIV

With all the hurricanes, tornadoes, and storms of life, we can sometimes feel overwhelmed with all turmoil, chaos, and upheaval, fear and frustration. But take heart, God is in the midst of all we experience–good and bad, right and wrong. We simply need to exercise wisdom in all things in order to survive the forces of nature or man-manipulated events.

Yesterday, we acknowledged the events of 9/11 in 2001.  A disastrous day for many and a horrific event most of us will not forget any time soon. While many reverenced the memorial moments of silence–trump barreled through his (Miller written) speech without any consideration for the significance of the event.

For those who are yet dealing with the challenges and struggles left behind by Harvey and now Irma, looking at enormity of the situation–lives lost and property loss and damage, we know it’s difficult, but know that God has not forsaken and He will always be in the midst of our struggles.  This doesn’t mean that we should ignore the extended hands of those who wish to help–God has always worked through people and He always shall.

So, for those who think prayer alone is the answer–think again. Prayer works when people allow the help God sends to manifest the answer to the prayer. Simple analogy: Two people are praying to get jobs. One goes out and applies for jobs until they get one and the other, sits and mopes all day long, complaining about why God hasn’t answered their prayers. “Faith without works is dead” and if we’re praying for anything, we must also do something–make our requests known to others (apply for the job) or accept the leads from others when offered.

We can believe for healing and never do anything–see a doctor, a specialist, take medicine, whatever–and never get healed. Or we can pray and do all that we are instructed to do and get healed.

Living life and seeing God in the midst of all we do–isn’t hard. We just have to know what our relationship is with Him and trust Him in all things. God is love and He is going to love us regardless of what we do and since He loves us–He will not “send” tragedies to get our attention or teach us a lesson. We learn lessons from living–daily and in the midst of it all–God speaks to those who are willing to hear Him, but it is a message of love and encouragement, not a hateful word of condemnation. When we proceed in life with our own sense of “righteousness” we often miss God in the midst of situations that require us to show others who He is, by our interactions with them–loving others, no matter what.

Since I know my relationship with Him is strong and always getting stronger, I’m trusting Him to lead me on this path I’ve chosen (I, not Him) in pursuing a bid for the 2020 presidency. Whether He wants me to win or not remains to be seen, but no matter what happens, I know He will be right there in the midst of it all!

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The Storm!

The Storm!

The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and vents his wrath against his enemies. The LORD is slow to anger but great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebukes the sea and dries it up; he makes all the rivers run dry. Bashan and Carmel wither and the blossoms of Lebanon fade. The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it. Who can withstand his indignation? Who can endure his fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him. The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness. Whatever they plot against the LORD he will bring to an end; trouble will not come a second time. Nahum 1:2-9 NIV

There’s a storm coming! Batten down the hatches and prepare to withstand the torrential winds of vengeance and hatred, with all the word salads flying about in the chaos that is bound to cause all sorts of destruction.

Twitter rants storming across cyberspace, buoyed by insecurities and hatred and incompetence.  Empty rhetoric designed to make people quake in fear, yet they are shaking and quaking with laughter that refuses to stay under cover of politeness and dignity.

“The fool, the fool,” cry those watching the whirlwind of words that are a mockery of the “great mind” espousing “great words” that only only a limited third-grader would utter. And yet, those who refuse to see the truth beyond the clouds of emptiness keep up their rallying cries, thinking that’s all they need to see a change in the pattern that’s about to upend their lives forever.

“The lies, the lies,” cry those who can see, but for some reason refuse to do anything to stop the turbulence rumbling closer to the surface and about to crack the earth wide open to expose all the hate and corruption created by a family of wannabes.

When all the corruption is exposed with all the players that stirred the pot of chaos and hate and disdain, then the world will watch the treasonous acts be paid in full and the cry heard will be the one urged against another, “Lock him up! Lock him up!”

And if people don’t watch their backs, the cry will be, “Lock them up,” and the house of cards in the heart of Washington, DC will collapse as Russia watches gleefully for the dust to settle and they can move in–tearing down any vestiges of integrity and honor that may have escaped to survive by bullying and derision, and if necessary–death by rebellious incursion.

The storm is coming folks and only those willing to know truth from fiction, resisting the alternative facts will survive the rumblings from all over–the Middle East and Asia to the Northern most points of Russia–calamity because the uneducated and ill-informed, and the pseudo-christians,  chose a mocker and enemy of God to govern in the White House.  The mocker who mocks the disabled and blasts cyberspace with lies against others, who cannot govern himself with even a modicum of discipline and this is why we are where we are–left to deal with the storm of stupidity.

Beware, be careful and be wise–prepare to survive the storm or be crushed in its path.

Our Hope Anchored In Jesus!

“Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtains, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become the high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:17-20 NIV)

In order to understand much of what is said in the book of Hebrews, one must understand the directives given to the priests in the Old Testament, and the procedure used for entering the temple. Moving from the outer court, into the inner court, into the holy of holies was ritualistic and solemn. The priests who entered, had a rope tied around them with bells on it in case they were slain for not honoring God in the way God prescribed and they could be dragged out, since not all could enter.. If obedience and honor was a precursor now for anyone entering into “the temple” or church buildings today, not many would have leaders who could pass the test of living a holy life.

Jesus is now our high priest and all who have their hope anchored in Him, will never be disappointed nor need to fear when entering into His presence. While many attend church buildings to be in His presence, they have overlooked the fact that our bodies are the temple where the Holy Spirit dwells and He is always with us. Therefore, our conduct should always be pleasing to Him at all times and when we miss it–we confess and repent and we are still–never left alone.

Far too many people–Christians–place their hope in people or things. They develop relationships with others hoping the networking will make a difference in their lives. Sometimes, the networking may make a difference, but if the hope of having a difference made is in the people and not in Jesus, the hope is misdirected and misdirected hope usually leads to disappointment.

Our hope should not be in the pastor, the deacons, the choir, the ushers or anyone else in the building; our hope should be in Jesus alone and His righteousness in order to see our desires fulfilled on this side of heaven. People disappoint and things disappoint, but when our hope is grounded–anchored–knowing nothing shall move us from our stance in Him, we can weather any storm and the winds die down, and water recedes, we are still standing–praising His name.

Chairing the upcoming event for our high school band has helped me to realize that it is not about me, but about Jesus, who can and will do great things on my behalf to make this event successful. He has been speaking to hearts and those to whom He has spoken, have yielded to Him and they are making things happen so disappointment will not be known by any who participate in the 21st Annual Band-O-Rama! I am declaring it done–to His Glory–in Jesus’ name.

And when it is over–I will praise His name and give thanks for all He has done–recognizing all He used in making it happen. This is what we do when our hope is anchored in Jesus!

Will Your Work Stand The Test?

“By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.” (1 Corinthians 3:10-13 NIV)

In a number of places across the country, storms are a challenge to daily living. People end up watching their hard-earned livelihoods, homes, and other property–destroyed by wind and rain. However, even in the midst of the destruction, some buildings remain, untouched, as though it had been moved until the storm finished its destruction.

Companies–who miss laying a solid foundation for functioning and surviving–cease to exist in the midst of economic storms–and people lose their jobs, homes, and families disintegrate as consumer prices rise and many are left standing as though zombies, wondering what just happened.

Families–who try to exist and survive without a firm foundation of love and respect–end up scattered like the wind blowing birdseed–landing where they may, not knowing how to continue for they have no foundation on which to build.

Everything that survives the test of time and trial does so because of having a solid foundation and the church is no different. The foundation in the church is Jesus Christ and if anyone attempts to build on any other foundation–they place themselves in position to be tested and most won’t withstand the test. But this test–is not about wind and rain–it is about judgment from on high. If our foundation is Jesus Christ–then everything we do–should be according to The Word and not our own thoughts and desires.

Some people–have taken the above-referenced passage of scripture to mean that buildings used for worship services should not contain costly stone, gold or silver.  But if that were true, they also should not use hay, straw, or wood. The metaphor used is not about what the building is made of, but what’s being done within the building. If our bodies are temple where the Holy Spirit dwells, what are we doing to them? All Believers are the Body of Christ–but what are we doing to demonstrate that our foundation is Jesus Christ?

I hate to belabor a point made many times, by many people–but when I see people who proclaim to be Christians and yet live in opposition to God’s Word--I question the foundation of their proclamation–it cannot be Jesus Christ.

If we truly belong to Him, then we listen to what He says, understand what He says, and obey what He says. That is–if our foundation is Jesus Christ–we will not allow another to mislead and deceive us by trying to convince us otherwise. God’s Word never changes, while man’s fickleness is constantly changing–which is why the laws of the land are always changing to pacify those who choose not to live according to God’s Word. For if we lived according to God’s Word–there would be no need for laws and all would live in peace.

But the key to establishing a solid foundation about anything is in the ability of the leader to inspire and motivate others to build with care–that on which they profess to stand. Will your work stand the test? If not, perhaps, it’s time to tear down the existing foundation of beliefs and rebuild on solid ground with faith in Jesus Christ–who never fails or disappoints.

Refuge!

“The LORD helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.” (Psalm 37:40 NIV)

Who does the Lord help and deliver? The righteous–those in right-standing with God can count on The Lord helping them and delivering them from all that attempts to hold them bound by the temptations influenced by evil. He delivers them from the wicked and saves (those in right-standing with Him) because they seek refuge in Him.

Every community should be a “safe haven” for those who live in it, but we know that does not always happen. Evil lurks, seeking whom it will attack and devour in our times, just as it did with the walled cities of old. The difference then is the cities had the watchmen walking the walls, looking for the attempts by others that meant danger to those who lived inside. When danger was seen, the alarm sounded and everyone knew what they had to do.

In addition to the walled cities for the majority of the occupants in a region, there were also cities built as a place of refuge for those who had been estranged from their place of origin or for those seeking shelter from the harm of others because they had accidentally killed someone (Numbers, Joshua).

I remember that in one neighborhood where I used to live, my home became the apparent refuge for children seeking shelter from harm by those living there who were certainly not law-abiding. There was drama unfolding on one particular evening and I looked out the door to see my porch full of children who were trying to get out of harm’s way. Most of these children participated in my “porch” bible study during the summer and I was glad they felt my house was a safe haven–a refuge from harm.

In the midst of stormy weather, we are told to seek refuge in low-lying areas and for those of us who have basements–to run to the basement for shelter. In the Midwestern regions–open ranges, they have storm cellars in which they seek shelter from the storms.

In the storms of life, filled with uncertainty and confusion, Our God is our refuge–a place where we can go and no one can harm us. When we are in right-standing with Him, there is nothing we cannot expect from Him–safety from those who would harm us, deliverance from things that would distract us, provision when we are unable to provide for ourselves, wisdom when we lack it and ask for it, mercy and grace we cannot earn, and love overflowing–when we are emptied out and need replenishing.

If ever there was a time we needed to know where we can find refuge, that time is now. Dangers are all around us–bone-chilling weather, icy road conditions, mindsets in opposition to God’s Word–all dangers that should cause us to run to The Lord, seeking refuge in Him to avoid the consequences of staying on the path of the wicked.

Don’t linger in the face of danger–RUN to the Lord and seek shelter in Him!

O Give Thanks!

“O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever” (Psalm 107:1).

Looking around at the negative, tragic events that occur almost daily, one might think there is no reason to give thanks to God. But there is! In spite of all the devastation of property, loss of lives, and emotional despair, God is still good and if it was not for His mercy, I would not be writing this morning and no one would be reading this! Glory to God–Give Him praise!

I haven’t lost my mind, but I do realize there are some things we cannot control and rather than be resentful and bitter, I’ve decided to allow everything that happens to make me a better person and certainly a more studious, scholar of God’s Word and intent for our lives.

We all have a choice. We can allow the events of life to control us or we can control our reactions and responses to the events of life. It is our choice! I choose Jesus–through Him and His love, I can do all things well–even with my responses to life’s events.

While we pray for those who have been displaced because of the storms, heart-broken because of the loss of lives in a number of situations, let us pray they will allow God to comfort hearts and allow Him to give them insight to peace and forward movement. Let’s pray for more people using the events to get closer to God and come into a right relationship with Him instead of being bitter towards God. O give Thanks to the Lord!

O God, help us to be better and not bitter about those things we cannot control. Help us to see good in everything that happens because there is something good that can be found–to Your glory. Give us a heart of compassion to help those in need and to encourage them to keep going. This we ask in Jesus’ name, Amen!

 

Good To All!

‘The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works” (Psalm 145:9).

Sometimes, because of the things that occur in this world, we do not see The Lord being good to all, but we should.

Even in the darkest moments in some of our lives, we should be able to see The Lord’s goodness as a pinpoint of light–no matter what happens.

As tragic as it is to see lives lost–from missing airplanes, to sinking ferries, to raging storms and those dying from illness and violence–there is yet hope for those who remain–that pinpoint of light.

Sometimes, it is difficult to focus on a pinpoint of light when darkness surrounds us, but if we focus on how good He is and how He is always with us, we can overcome--the depths and ravages of the darkness and rise to see the light and make this world a better place. We must always be able to see the good and His mercies in all things–no matter how dark things appear, we have to know that there is a light that will outshine all the darkness, when we focus on Him.

We have to know–that He is not a respecter of persons and that His Word applies to all who receive Him and acknowledge Him for who He is–the Bright Morning Star, the Rose of Sharon, The Great I Am, The God who fulfills all His promises, Our Healer and Protector and there is nothing too hard for Him to accomplish through us, no matter what.

Father, in the name of Jesus, help us to focus on the Light and not the darkness. Help us to become the arms and hearts of compassion seeing need and fulfilling whatever needs to be done for those who are hurting and devastated by things out of their control. Help us to be selfless in this time of need and remain prayerful and diligent in accomplishing all You on our hearts to do, to Your glory.