Trust And Doing Good (Psalm 37:3)

Not long ago, my family decided to rescue another dog. My wife found a German Shepherd that had been hit by a car and left for dead. After months of rehab, he was put on the internet for adoption. What a handful this dog came to be. You could not pet him, scratch behind the ear or attempt to rub his chest without jacking him up. He was always on the defensive and ready to respond as a means of protecting himself. It has been nearly six months now. He is finally rolling onto his back (a very vulnerable position) and allowing us to interact physically without any major reactions. The reason he allows this is because he has learned to trust us.

We are much the same. We respond to problems in life so as to protect ourselves. Much of the time, our responses only make life’s problems worse. It is only after we trust The Lord, that our actions become good or helpful to our situation. Trusting The Lord and doing good always go hand and hand. The one is a product of the other. (Psalm 37:3)

Doing good is easy when everything you need just falls into place. However, some of the most difficult times to do good or to do right is when everybody else is doing wrong or when doing the right thing has a great cost associated with it. Being financially faithful to God is easy when the bank account is robust, but when there is not enough to go around, doing good it is difficult. This is true about other situations as well, but what can you do to keep yourself in the right?

Before responding to a situation in life, first stop and a speak to God letting him know that you are deciding to trust him. Then ask that he guide your trusting heart to make the decisions that he wants so that you will not work against his mercy for your trial. Trusting is the first step. Without trust, the actions will be fruitless and not pleasing to The Lord.

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Importunity (Luke 11:8)

Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where praying for deliverance does not bring results. We continually seek God’s face and prayer for deliverance. How long this prayer continues varies between trials. When the prayer is finally answered, we believe that God did so because of our relationship with him. In other words, he answered our prayers because we are his children.

Albeit, we may be his children and because of that he is moved to answer our prayers, but what we must recognize is that answered prayer hinges more on God maintaining his reputation with man than on man’s reputation with God.

I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. (Luke 11:8)

It was the importunity or embarrassment that would be faced that caused the friend to give loaves of bread in the middle of the night. It was not his friendship that moved him but the maintaining of his name that did. Likewise, God maintaining his name among men is of greatest importance to him.

So the next time you feel that because you are not the child of God that you expect yourself to be, remember that God also answers prayer to maintain his good name.

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Another Way To Happiness (Psalm 32:2)

Are you happy? I mean are you really happy? The Lord wants you to be happy and he has declared ways for you to find and enjoy this happiness. Many times when God speaks of happiness, he uses the word blessed. Probably one of the most familiar places in scripture which speaks of the believer being blessed is found in Psalm 1 which reads: Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. This is a wonderful passages which highlights actions which bring to the believer the happy or blessed life as well as that which will bring judgment.

However, there is another passage in scripture which promises happiness to the believer and states that happiness is experienced when your sins are forgiven and covered. “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” (Psalm 32:2)

Remember how happy you were when you first trusted Christ? Your sins had been removed as far as the east is from the west and you had been forgiven. The burden of sin was removed from your heart and for the first time you experienced true happiness. God wants us to continue having this happiness, but when we sin, we are robbed of it. The longer you remain in sin, the more deeply you will experience the loss of happiness. Possessions and experiences will not change your condition and make you happy because happiness is never found them. The way to regain the happiness is to acknowledge and confess your sin to God. (Psalm 32:5). If sins removes your happiness, then getting forgiveness will bring it back again.

As you find yourself struggling through life and seeming to have lost your happiness, you would be best to ask The Lord to show you if there is any hidden sin in your heart that needs to be confessed.

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Cut Off From His Sight? (Psalm 31:22)

Trials are always difficult: hence the name trouble or trial. During such times, we not only are faced with battling the outside circumstances of the trial, but also the battle that takes place within us. David records his thoughts during such a time when he says, “For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes.” (Psalm 31:22) During the trial, David quickly responded to thoughts in his heart that whatever was taking place was hidden from God. He may have felt that he was alone, but to believe and respond to such thoughts was inappropriate. Thanks be to God for his long suffering and mercy in that even thou David had believed wrongfully, God still heard his cry of supplication.

During trials we must remember that we are not cut off from the sight of God. To encourage us from falling into these thought patterns, God has given us precious promises such as “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5). You may feel like you are cut off from God, but you cannot be because he is always present with you.

He continues to encourage us by sharing his concern for even sparrows and that we are of more value than them. “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)

One of the most encouraging promises from God is that we cannot be cut off from his sight because he knows what our needs are before we even pray. “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” (Matthew 6:7-8)

Because God will never leave us, because we are of greater value than birds for which he cares and because he knows what we need before we even pray, we should be encouraged to trust him and believe that while in the midst of our trials, we are not cut off from his sight.

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Fear and Trust (Psalm 31:19)

Faith and fear: they are not always on opposite ends of the spectrum. Sometimes they work together and in cases involving our relationship with God, they are essential. God looks for individuals who fear and trust him.

Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men! (Psalms 31:19)

There is a difference between being terrified by God and fearing him. As believers, God does not want us to be terrified of him. Through scripture, he conveys himself as a loving father. A loving father and someone of whom people should be terrified are contrastive characters. In other words, you will never see a loving father who has children who are terrified of him. God does not want us to be terrified of him, but he does want us to fear him. There is a big difference.

I may fear a police officer, but I am not terrified of him. I may fear a judge, but he does not terrify me. I fear fire, but I am not terrified by it. The difference is that fear causes negative emotions based on what it has the power to do if I fail to respect it. Being terrified occurs when a person without cause expects an impending doom to come upon them. God does not want us living under an expected doom, but he does want us to emotionally respond to his leading in our lives.

When we trust in God, we run to him as a refuge from the struggles and troubles of life. This pleases him because he wants to be our refuge, strength and deliver. Each time we run to him, we exercise faith in him and his ability to meet our needs. This pleases God.

When we fear and trust God, he responds to it. He promises to respond to us in goodness, which is to give us what is the very best for our lives. He wants this for everyone, but reserves it only for those who fear and trust him. This is something each of us can do and because of it, we can expect great things from God.

Should You Change Your Mind (John 19:15)

Have you ever changed your mind? Of course you have and we all have on countless occasions, but what made us change our minds. Sometimes our minds were changed because we saw another option from which we could choose. Other times we changed our minds because we understood the problem more clearly and saw that our choice was wrong.

There is one group of people who changed their minds that has always puzzled me. On one day, those in Jerusalem lauded Jesus Christ with praise and within a week they were shouting Crucify him! Crucify him!

On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord…….But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. (John 12:12-13; 19:15)

Why did they change their minds? Did they find another King? Did they more clearly see their condition and recognize that their choice was wrong? Some may say yes, but I believe that they changed their minds for another reason.

Israel was more concerned about what they could get from Jesus than they were about getting the person of Jesus. They wanted fed, healed, and delivered from the Romans, but God desired that they would want him, his fellowship, and his comfort. As soon as they recognized that Jesus was not going to be the person who would crush the Roman Empire and remove the oppression that had been put upon them, they rejected him. This happened because they focused on what they were getting from Jesus instead of focusing on Jesus, the person.

Before we point the guilty finger at Israel, we must stop and perform a personal inventory of ourselves. More often than we may share to admit, we too focus our concerns on what Jesus can give or do for us, instead of him as a person and the relationship that he wants to have with us. We are more concerned about what we can get from God instead of getting God. We more so appreciate the blessings we receive instead of the blessed one. It is the same as caring more about your house than you do for your home. It is similar to being more grateful for milk than you are for the cow.

Are you guilty of this? Look at the prayers that you pray. How much time do you spend requesting things or actions from God in comparison to seeking his face or asking to know him better. The Apostle a Paul set the perfect example for us when he wrote, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” (Philippians 3:10)

You like the majority of us, may need to change your mind back to how it was when you first came to Christ. It seems that back then, everything was about Jesus: who he is and how knowing him made even the most dreadful life enjoyable. We need to get back to that.

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His Voice In The Wilderness (Luke 3:2)

The word of God came to John while he was in the wilderness. It could have come to him at any time, but The Lord chose a time when John would be away from the influences of the world around him. He chose to bring the message of his word for Israel when it would be just God and John.

Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. (Luke 3:2)

Bringing a message to us in the wilderness could be another possible reason for why God allows trials to come into our lives. It is during trials where our hopes and ties with the world become weak and we turn our hearts diligently towards Him. In the wilderness experience, it is just God and you. While there, God can minister to you and bring hope from his word. He may be using these experiences to refine or equip you for the next stage in your life just as he did to prepare John the Baptist.

While in your wilderness experience, look for what you can learn from God. Consider it a time of training and development which is preparing you for your next step in your journey of life. Remember, it is the wilderness where you can most easily hear the voice of God.

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Making The Big Decision (Luke 5:28)

Levi was called by The Lord to follow him to which he did exactly what The Lord requested. As to why he made such a radical decision so quickly without really knowing The Lord and whom he would be following is unknown. It may have been the power of The Lord and his word or it could have been the culmination of dissatisfaction with his lifestyle coupled with a desire to change that brought about his response. However one thing we can ascertain is that a decision was made.

The bible tells us this about Levi’s decision: And he left all, rose up, and followed him. (Luke 5:28). Notice the progression. He left all, then rose up and eventually followed The Lord. An important question to ask is, “How did Levi leave all before rising up? The answer is that before physically leaving all, he first made the decision in his heart. The words used for “left all” carry the idea of abandoning. Before Levi walked away and abandoned all, he first abandoned it all in his heart. After making the decision in his heart, the action of walking away from his work and the prosperity and security that it offered was much easier.

We must remember that it is impossible to follow The Lord with our lives if our hearts are still attached to something else. When we trusted Christ as Savior, our calling out in prayer happened after we first made the decision in our hearts. Our acts of walking away from temptation occur after we first walk away in our hearts. This principle relates to every area of the Christian’s life.

I remember years ago when I tried to quit smoke cigarettes. I did twice. On the first try, I was very unsuccessful, but my second attempt has set me free for the last few decades. The difference between my two attempts was simple. On the first try, I refrained from smoking, but constantly talked about needing or wanting a cigarette. Needless to say, after a month of being smoke free, I fell back into the grips of my addiction. On the second try, I kept from smoking and in my heart, the last thing that I wanted was to smoke again. What was the difference? The decision in my heart affected the actions that I did.

If you continually struggle with getting victory in your life, look at how you are trying to accomplish it. Are you trying to break free from some sin because you want to escape the consequences, but all the while desire the thrill that your flesh experiences each time you engage in the act? If so, pray to The Lord to help you make the heart decision necessary for you to get victory. That pray, you know he will hear and begin to answer.

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More Than Just A Miracle (Luke 5:17)

The man with palsy had been lame for some time. He was dependent upon others for his livelihood as well as caring for many of his basic needs. Because of his infirmity, he could not engage in most activities as others and enjoy life to the fullest. Emotionally he more than likely felt less than a man: a burden on society with no sense of purpose and accomplishment. Many people in this state had become filled with anger and bitterness. However, when he heard of Jesus and the miracles that he performed, he cooperated with those who sought to aid him in his plight. The purpose for his illness may never have been know to him, but his life and testimony were about to change anyway.

The miracle account begins by stating who was in the house and that the power of The Lord was present to heal them.

And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them. (Luke 5:17).

The question is, who needed healing? At this point there were not any blind, halt, lame and diseased individuals yet in the house, but only Pharisees and doctors of the law. It were these people that The Lord intended to heal. The healing that they needed was not physical but spiritual. The very reason that Jesus’ first statement to the man with palsy was that his sins were forgiven him was so that the hearts of the doctors and Pharisees would be moved to seek that healing as well. Then to give validity to his promises of spiritual healing, Jesus healed the man of his palsy. You would think that after witnessing such a great miracle those present would beg for their sins to be forgiven, but it did not occur.

This then makes me wonder and ask myself, “How many of my trials are intended to be a testimony to others of what The Lord wants to do in their lives?” If it were the case, then God would continue to try my faith with trials so that my life would be a continual living testament of his power and grace. In this manner, your life and mine as well can accomplish more to move people to trust The Lord than preaching and teaching. Did not Paul say that our lives are epistles of Christ?

Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. (2 Corinthians 3:3)

Because I cannot always understand why trials are permitted to come into my life, I must yield to God, who always works in righteousness and love, and trust his divine plan to work what is best for me and of need for those around me.

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