Whom Shall I Fear?

“The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.” Psalm 34:7

Read this verse over and over. What is the Holy Spirit whispering to you?

This morning the whisper in my ear is “whom shall I fear?” Our verse comes from a Psalm of David during a time of turmoil in which the Lord our God saved Him. His Son Abimelech just took over his kingdom as a consequence of David’s sin. But God didn’t allow him to be killed but spares his life. David gave into temptation and took Bathsheba. He committed adultery and to cover it up he had her husband killed. When confronted David pleaded for forgiveness and God forgave him but not without facing the consequences of his sin.

Being a person of God doesn’t exempt us from temptation. It doesn’t mean we won’t sin. It means that we live in grace. That we seek God and fall at the mercy of His forgiveness when we do sin. But it also means we still live with the consequences of our sin. Some sin caries great consequences and others are subtle, depending on the sin. Living in our own will can destroy our lives and those around us. King David was humiliated by his Son who took over the kingdom and slept with David’s wives. It led to hardship on David as he lived in exile. But he didn’t blame God, instead he continued to worship and seek God’s will. And God protected him and restored his kingdom.

Being a person of God, loving God with all our heart, doesn’t shield us from our own decisions. It doesn’t keep us from experiencing all the horror of this sin filled world. But it does protect our soul from destruction. We will live on with God. The key is seeking Him. Letting God be our fortress, our protector. It means relying on Him instead of our own will.

I don’t know what you are going through. Don’t place blame but accept your circumstances and pray for God to help you through it. God doesn’t rule the earth with an iron fist. He allows us to be participants in His creation. This means we are capable of sinning. He didn’t leave us to die in our sin. Instead He sent us help in a Savior. This means we are saved! Sin doesn’t have to kill our souls. It is just a momentary weakness and hardship that if we reject it and put our trust in God, it will pass.

I can’t tell you why we suffer. I know that Jesus said we will. I know that suffering can bring us closer to God if we allow it. I know that suffering gives us connection with others. It gives us credibility in this sin filled world. I also know that God is our comfort and our salvation. We will live with Him in heaven. Whom shall I fear? Only the God who has control over my soul. For through His grace I am saved. Without that grace I die.

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Keep Going

“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.” Hebrews 10:36 ESV

Read this verse over and over. What is the Holy Spirit whispering to you?

This morning I am being reminded to keep going. It is interesting to watch when someone thinks they have won a race and they let up only to be passed. Or in football a receiver slows down thinking they have a touchdown only to be tackled at the one-yard line or to drop the ball before they go into the end zone. Don’t make the same mistake. Keep going till it is done.

Our faith is till the end. If we drop the ball, we lose all that we have gained. Don’t give up. Don’t stop helping people because you think you have done enough. Keep going. Keep living for God. Too many times I have seen Christians in church who reach their retirement age and then they stop volunteering. They are burned out. They think it is time for them to rest and be served. That isn’t how it works. We may need to change the way we serve but we are to serve all the time until we can’t.

I know it is good to get a break. Stress can get to us especially if we are one of the few who did everything. It is important to step back and let others take charge, to let others get involved but don’t abandon them. Support them, help them without needing to be in control. Let them do it their way. If it is wrong let God help teach them. There is more than one way to get a job done.

As we get older we may fall into the trap that we have done it all. We have earned a break. We have learned all we need to learn. That is a false narrative. We can’t earn our way into heaven. In the Bible there was no retirement. You worked till you couldn’t. If you couldn’t do the job physically you managed those who could. We can learn right up until we die. This means we need to keep studying the Bible. Keep praying for guidance. Keep going to church. We can serve in so many ways. If we can’t do things physically then be a witness with our words of wisdom. Be a cheer leader to those who are struggling. Be a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen. Keep on loving people as God loves us.

As we finish one chapter in our lives the book isn’t over. We move on to the next. God closes one door, so we will go through the next. The will of God is to love Him with all our heart, mind and soul and then love others as ourselves. This doesn’t change after we help one person, or twenty, or two hundred. It continues until we die. Serve God with everything. Keep going, persevere till the end. If we stop, we miss the celebration. We miss the reward. We miss the life promised.

It is always darkest right before the dawn. When our struggles get worse the end is near. You can’t jump up until you hit the ground. The key is to trust God all the time. Don’t give up. Keep going.

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Are You Thirsty?

“To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.” Revelation 21:6

Read this verse over and over. What is God whispering to you?

Are you thirsty? Of course, it is not a physical thirst but a spiritual thirst. The question is do you thirst for God? Do you thirst to know Him? If you do God promises to give you drink. If you want to know God and want to be closer to Him, He will draw you in and fill you.

Yesterday we worked cattle, we also worked cattle the previous Monday. Both days went well, and I am glad it is over. Now I move on to getting stuff ready to wean calves. We have had years that weaning calves has been bad. Cows get in with the calves and we have to separate them several times. We have had calves get sick and loose up to a quarter of the herd. So over time we have developed a way that works better than all the others we have tried. We wanted to figure out a way to make things better. We thirsted for more.

Our spiritual journey is more important than how we wean calves. Yet how many of us put the extra effort into learning more about God? How many of us thirst for Him? To be honest I can’t remember a time that I didn’t thirst for God. I can remember as a kid wanting to hear the stories of the Bible. But I had a thirst for knowledge. I didn’t understand there was more. Knowledge is one thing. We can know about God through study and reading and hearing the message but to know God is another thing. God reveals Himself through prayer. Prayer is our relationship with God. If you thirst, God will fill you. If you thirst you will pray. Pray for God to fill you with Him. Pray to know God. Pray to hear God. Listen for His voice.

If we stop and think just a little bit I think you will realize there is more. There is something deep inside that wants more. That is our thirst. The key is understanding what will fill it. What will fill that emptiness inside? Some people try to fill it with all kinds of things, work, drugs, alcohol, sex, money, power, stuff and so on. The key is realizing the only thing that can fill that hole is God. Our pride doesn’t want to admit that we need God. So, we try to appease ourselves. We try to do things in our control which only leads to us wanting more. Nothing will satisfy that yearning except God. King Solomon explains it in Ecclesiastes. Everything else is vanity. He tried everything only to discover that God is the only thing we really need. The only thing that brings us relief. That gives us peace.

Come to the well. Come to God. Let Him fill you. Let Him lead you to the eternal fountain. Drink from the everlasting water. Drink from the spring of life.

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Let Go of the World

“For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” Luke 9:25 ESV

Read this verse over and over. What is Jesus whispering to you?

This morning Jesus is whispering to “let go of the world.” That is not an easy thing to do, after all we live in this world, how can we not grab ahold of it and make the best of it. The point is not to allow the world to hold us back from who God has made us to be. Don’t lose our purpose. Don’t lose ourselves, our soul.

We were created to be God’s people, but Adam and Eve rejected God when they sinned in the garden and since then we have been at odds with God, choosing the world, sin, instead of God. We became slaves to sin until Jesus set us free. Now we are free to be children of God, but we continue to reject our inheritance by choosing the world. It is time to reject this world.

Of course, we can’t remove ourselves from this world, we still live in it. Instead we are to reject the sin of this world. The pride, control, anger, jealousy, greed, etc., you get the picture. Instead we are to embrace God through grace. We are to allow Grace to hold us. Giving us love and humility. We are only journeying through this world until we reach our destination of Heaven. We are to bring as many people with us as we can.

I will admit that I struggle. I love the stuff of this world. The cool electronics, cars and trucks, everything mechanical, food, control, money, and I could go on, but I don’t want to bore you. This stuff can bring pleasure and make living in this world easier but if they replace our relationship with God they are harmful. If we become obsessed with them then they can make us miserable. The things of this world can be a blessing or a curse. If we hold on to them instead of God, they become a curse. If we seek after them with all our heart, they control us and never give us the satisfaction we seek so we keep wanting more always pursuing instead of savoring. If we accept them as gifts from God to be enjoyed but not our soul existence, then they are blessings.

Jesus is telling us to seek Him. To trust Him. To let God be our reason for living and then we will gain everything. But if we become attached to this world, only seeking the things of this world we will lose all. We will not only loose those things but also our eternal life in Heaven.

It is time to let go. Let go of the sin that holds us back. Let go of the things that we think bring us pleasure and instead allow God to hold us to bring us peace and joy. Let go of this world.

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Don’t be Lazy

“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” Hebrews 6:12

Read this verse over and over. What is God whispering to you?

This morning God is whispering “don’t be lazy.” It is a wake-up call to all of us. God isn’t going to make things easy so that we can lay back and do nothing. If you want to run a marathon and you pray for God to help you win, He isn’t going to give you the ability without you training for it. If you want more faith God isn’t just going to all of a sudden give you the faith of our forefathers. We must pray, study the Bible and patiently live the way God is calling us to live. Look to those who are strong in faith and imitate them. This doesn’t mean you will suddenly become like them. They had to endure temptations and hardships and sacrifices. We will have to endure the same. Don’t be lazy!

I have dreams. I want to be someone who helps others in their faith. I want to own businesses that help people provide for their family and allow them to still have time to worship and spend time with their families. I want to fund a non-profit organization that helps people to know God and find their God given purpose. I want to write a book that leads people to God. I want to write songs that lead people to worship and experience God. My dreams are big, and I pray for God’s help. This morning God is reminding me that it isn’t easy. He is reminding me that I’m not ready yet. I need more training. I need to work harder. Stop being lazy about things.

I need to study. I need to work hard. I need to focus on Him more. It will take sacrifice. That is probably the area that is holding me back the most, sacrifice. I don’t want to give somethings up. Yet all those who are extremely successful are that way after great sacrifice. What do we need to sacrifice? The biggest is our need for control. I need to sacrifice my fears. I need to sacrifice my pleasure, my time, my comfort. I also need to sacrifice my dreams. Let go of my dreams and accept God’s purpose for me and make that my dreams. I know that some of my dreams come from God. But I must trust that if I work hard and trust Him, his purpose will be realized through me. Ultimately that is the dream I want to see come true. I want others to be closer to God because they knew me. I don’t need them to remember me. I just want more people to be saved because God used me.

Is your focus on God? What needs to change so that God can accomplish great things through you? Are you willing to work for it? Are you willing to sacrifice for it? Don’t be lazy!

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You’re Not Alone

“Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Hebrews 2:18

Read this verse over and over. What is the Holy Spirit whispering to you?

This morning the whisper I hear is “you’re not alone.” Why is it that when we suffer we tend to think that we are the only one suffering? We also tend to hide away in the darkness not wanting to tell anyone and not seeking help from anyone? From my experience I have thought that I can handle it. I have thought that I don’t want to trouble anyone else. I have felt ashamed that I am struggling with this. What if someone found out how much I was struggling, they may look down on me or think that I am weak. Those are some of the feelings I have had. I have also felt God was punishing me and if I get others involved they may punish them too. It all sounds silly to me now. I have learned other wise and yet I still fall for some of the lies of the Devil as he tries to isolate me.

Isolation is a tool of the devil. If he can keep us away from other Christians and especially away from God, then we are easy pickings. Isolation will lead us to depression. Isolation can destroy our faith. The first thing we need to realize in our struggles is that we are not alone. God is always with us no matter how dark the hole is. The next thing we need to understand is that Jesus knows what we are going through. He suffered too. He understands all that we may experience.

Now that we know we are never fully isolated we need to seek fellow Christians and be in community with them. God created us to need community. We are to rely on each other. Share our burdens and our triumphs so that what ever happens to one in the community it happens to all in the community. This can be family. It can be your church. It can be a small bible study group or prayer group. It is important that you have other Christians that share in your beliefs. Who can push you to be a better Christian. Who can help you understand and share love. This group of people needs to be a group you can share everything with.

Its not easy to find such a group. It takes time to develop relationships of trust and openness. In fact, we will be let down by people. Some will even stab us in our back. In which case it is time to practice love and grace. To give forgiveness. We can’t allow sin to isolate us from others whether it is our sin or their sin. We always have God to share everything with. Jesus even communed with the traitor, Judas. He communed with a denier, Peter. All of His apostles ran when He need them the most. John stood by the most, yet at a distance. Still, they were His closest friends. Let that be our lesson. There are no perfect friends. We have to choose love over hate. Choose forgiveness over revenge. Choose trust over doubt. We need to trust in stead of fear.

There will always be pain and suffering around each corner. Those who are closest to us will hurt us the most. Yet those relationships are the ones that will support us. Those relationships will bring us peace and joy if we don’t use them to replace Jesus. Those relationships should point us to Jesus. Give us glimpses of Jesus. At times they will be Jesus. Other times they will drive us to rely on Jesus. The key is to develop our relationship with Jesus as we develop relationships with others.

Those relationships should be outward focused. If they turn in to all about one person in the group, it won’t work. We may struggle with finding people who share our passion for Jesus. We may struggle finding people who will focus beyond themselves. It may take some teaching to develop a group. It will take sacrifice by you and others. Be patient. Don’t give up and rely on Jesus. Pray for a group. Pray for help. Pray for a relationship with Jesus and in time God will honor it. It will happen in His time. He may have to first prepare you and the others before it will work. This means we may have experiences we have to go through to change our mind set. Other people may have to go through things before they are ready to look beyond themselves. In the mean time trust Jesus. He knows what you are going through. You are never alone.

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Listen

“Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:9

Read this verse over and over. What is God whispering to you?

This morning I am being reminded to listen. It is easy to spout out a quick prayer asking God for guidance, but do you listen for that guidance? I try to listen but sometimes I get busy and get lost in the things I’m doing and forget to listen, or I have too much noise to hear or I really don’t want to hear because it isn’t what I want to do or know. Do you have the same problem?

Listening isn’t easy. We hear what we want to hear then we go about our business. I often find myself thinking about what I’m going to say next instead of listening to someone talking to me. It is hard to be still, quiet and just listen, comprehending what is being said. It is even hard to do this with God whom we can’t see. Who doesn’t just stand in front of us and talk. His voice is different than that of the world. So how can we hear let alone listen?

God’s voice is distinct, but it is a soft whisper. It requires us to be still. It requires experience which means having a relationship that is built over time. God isn’t going to tell you what you want to hear all the time. In fact, most of the time it goes against what you want to hear. It leads us to a life that is different from this world. A life that will bring conflict with this world. But it will be a life of love and peace.

Do you hear God’s whisper? Are you listening for it? I’m not going to pretend that I am an expert, I’m not. I have experience but with that experience I have lots of failures. I continually get it wrong. I continually forget to listen or just plain choose not to. I continually fight against what God is calling me to do. In other words, I struggle with letting go of control and turning my whole life over to Jesus. But God is forgiving and full of patience. My life is proof of that.

It is never too late to learn to listen to God. It is never too late to start building a relationship with God. Even when we continually mess up God will always forgive if we ask. He will take you back with open arms when we turn to Him. Now is the time. Take ten minutes right now to just sit is stillness and listen. Then take that stillness with you the rest of the day listening for God’s whisper with everything you do.

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Are You Blessed?

“And let the loveliness of our Lord, our God, rest on us, confirming the work that we do. Oh, yes. Affirm the work that we do!” Psalms 90:17 MSG

Read this verse over and over. What is Holy Spirit whispering to you?

Do you feel blessed? Our verse today comes from a Psalm of Moses. It is asking God to affirm the work that they do. We can look at it in different points of view. In the whole Psalm Moses is reminding God of the hardships of His people. So, it sounds like he is asking for a break for the struggles. But it could also be a reminder of who God is and how they are sinners and thus asking God to take their broken abilities and make them His. To turn their work into greatness for the glory of God. As I read this verse this morning I feel that the Holy Spirit is reminding me that He is the one who makes our work great. He is our source of blessings. My work can’t achieve that without Him.

Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in doing things trying to earn blessings. We are trying to bring favor upon us and our household by the work of our own hands. We must realize that our work on its own is still sin no matter how much good we think we are doing. In other words, work done in my control isn’t good works. Only work done by God through me is good. In that instance God can take my brokenness and make it great.

I am a recovering perfectionist. But in my struggles, I can’t ever remember being blessed by my own perfection. In fact, my quest for perfection usually led to my brokenness instead of greatness. If you don’t feel blessed, then that is our que that something isn’t right. Either we are focused on the wrong thing and missing our blessings or God has withheld those blessings because we have ventured down the wrong path. It’s not about me. It is about God. It is about God’s work in and through us. It is about pointing others to God. So, our work should be God’s work. If this is our attitude, then God will indeed bless it and establish it or affirm it.

How do we know? If we want to know, God will reveal it to one way or another. But if we are lost in ourselves we will miss the signs. When I’m struggling with whether I am going the right direction God usually finds some way to reassure me. It is sometimes very random and suddenly I know God just affirmed what I was doing is for Him. It has gone the other way too, God has revealed that what I’m doing is for me instead of Him. In those moments I have a choice to ignore Him and keep going or swallow my pride and turn around. I am sad to say that too often I ignore those signs that say I’m doing the wrong thing. I try to push through the closed door instead of trusting God and following Him.

Here is the good news. Despite our sin, despite our brokenness God can still make our bad, good. We don’t have the power to mess up God’s plans. He is capable of doing good even if we are really bad. The difference is if we repent and ask for God’s help we will experience blessings but if we continue to fight God and do our own thing we will miss the blessings.
God forgive us. Help us. Bless the toil of our hands so that it is your work instead of ours.

Give us a heart for you and help us to see and feel your Blessings. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.

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Sing!

“Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.” Psalm 96:1

Read this verse over and over. What is the Holy Spirit whispering to you?

This morning the Holy Spirit is telling me it is time to sing! I love singing. I do it almost every day. If I’m not singing, I’m listening to songs. But our verse talks about singing a new song. It is a call to go deeper. This seems to be a theme lately. So, lets dive in.

I remember when I was little I would just sing. It wasn’t songs that were known. I would just make something up right on the spot. It would be about what I was doing or how I was feeling at the time. Why did I stop? I always enjoy watching and listening to young kids sing especially when it is made up songs. They are so innocent. There is no rhyme or reason other than it is what is going through their heads. We need to be more spontaneous about our singing to God. I know if we would just burst out in song while at work or in the middle of a crowd people would think we are out of our minds, or would they?

At some point, usually in our teens we become aware of what other people think. Then we start to stress over what other people think. Suddenly how we appear to others matters and we change our lives in order to please others. Most of us will spend the rest of our lives living the life we think other people want us to live in order to gain their approval. It maybe our parents, siblings, church family, neighbors, friends, teachers and you can probably add someone to this list. But do we live for God?

Living for God means living with authenticity. It means living beyond our world view. It means living beyond our self-centeredness. We don’t need to prove anything. Just being who God made us to be. Part of that is praising Him all the time. Becoming kids again by just bursting out in praise and thanksgiving to God not caring what other people think. Singing a song that no one has song before expressing our love of God. That is what the Psalms are. Expressions of our love and understanding of God, to God as prayers in the form of songs. They came from spontaneous singing.

Just thinking about it has me nervous. I write songs, but they usually come after brutal and long attempts of trying to find the perfect words. What if I just sang? What if you just sang? What if we just sang from the heart new songs to God? Don’t worry about it being good enough. Don’t worry about it rhyming or falling into any particular pattern. Just sing. Sing from the heart. Sing with joy. Sing like a kid again.

To be honest as I think about it I feel silly. I think too often we make our relationship with God out to be too formal. It needs to be personal. It needs to have feeling. That may be feeling silly at times. It may be serious other times. But it is a relationship that is open and alive. A relationship that is comfortable singing even if our voice sounds bad or we have no rhythm. Even if we can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Let go of control and burst forth a new song. Sing!

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You are More

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV

Read this verse over and over. What is the Holy Spirit whispering to you?

This morning the Holy Spirit is whispering “you are more!” I believe this is a response to some doubt that I have. God is reminding me that I am more than what I perceive. That there is power in me that is beyond me. This is a reminder to you as well.

Our verse is written by the Apostle Paul to Timothy. Paul is reminding Timothy of the same thing. “God has not given us a spirit of fear.” The word for fear here is derived from a word that means faithless. In other words, God has not given us a spirit of faithlessness. Instead He has given us a Spirit of Power, Love, and Sound Mind.

These three words are important. They explain what we have in us all the time as Christians. First Power. This is more than just human strength. The word alludes to miraculous power. Power beyond our selves even power beyond our understanding. This kind of power allows us to do things we would not be able to do as ordinary humans. We have God’s power in us. This is a force stronger than any evil power. It is a force that can move mountains. With this kind of power become great responsibility. It requires faith, trust. It is also used with the next two words: Love and sound mind.

The Greek word used for Love is agape. This word literally means a love feast. It is over flowing love. It is Godly love. It is love that can not be contained and must be given. With this kind of love there is great power. With this kind of love and power we must also have a sound mind.

The word for sound mind means discipline, self-control. It is a way of thinking beyond your years. It is a kind of thinking that is selfless. It trusts in its power from within and fears nothing because it knows the power of God is in it. It doesn’t allow circumstances to dictate how to react but instead changes its circumstances by its action. There is no victim mentality here. A sound mind does not panic. It doesn’t over react. It doesn’t lash out. It is full of love. Always thinking of others first, and does the will of God instead the will of man. That is what self-control and discipline looks like.

Are you ready to go out for battle now? God has given us all that we need to live in this world but to never be of this world. He has given us all we need to live out His will for us. To point others to Him. To do the impossible by being more than the sin that is in us. You are More!

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