In God We Trust

In God We Trust 4 It is easy to speak of trusting the Lord in a crisis situation and to cite Bible verses about his faithfulness and dependability. There are many such verses in the Bible and reading them is worthwhile whether you are in a crisis or not. But when the darkness rolls into our lives, when we face uncertainty or some difficult situation, just how do we physically realize the benefits of trusting God? Written words are great, but how do we manifest this into the promised comfort and strength?

On this subject I hope to render some practical advice, attempting to suggest some constructive steps that I have found useful along with some sound Biblical principles. Perhaps there is no perfect answer to this question; surely it is in the darkest times of our lives that we find it most difficult to trust in anything, but I have found that when we are successful at approaching a loving God we find it is exactly in these trying moments that he is actually closest to us.

I think the first step we all must take, or be sure we’ve taken, is to repent. Now “repent” is one of those words that scares a lot of people, or perhaps we could just say it often has a negative connotation. But a quick look at this definition from dictionary.com should help us better understand the meaning of the word: “to feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one’s life for the better.” The Bible has much to say about repentance, it is a central tenet of the Christian faith. Indeed, we see in Matthew 4:17 these words: “From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”

Simply put, until we repent of our sins, we are not yet in right relationship with God. So let us start by examining ourselves, looking for unconfessed sin, and let us bring that to God. The Apostle Peter taught us in Acts 2:38 that, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” It is not hard to do, each of us knows deep down in our hearts we have done wrong. To deny this is to be disingenuous. So open your heart and get honest with God. Speak the words out loud, he will hear and you will feel him lift the burden of sin from you.

I might think the next two items could come in either order, but let me first suggest prayer.  On the subject of prayer I will give no specific formula, other than to pray from your heart and in complete honesty. It is not necessary to know how to pray and you do not need special training. Just get alone and speak to God. Once again I will emphasize the importance of speaking your prayers out loud, there is power in verbalization. Many people also find it helpful to write down their prayers. Keeping a prayer journal will help you see patterns in your prayers and will make it easier to see how God is answering your requests.

I think I have found two key concepts for prayer most helpful: one is to pray expectantly. God longs to answer our prayers and promises to do so. James wrote in his book: “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16) And when teaching on prayer in Luke 11:9, Jesus said, “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” So pray expectantly. My other point would be to pray in Jesus’ name, for Jesus promised us in John 14:14, “You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.” There is power in the name of Jesus!

The last concept I’ll share here is very crucial for the manifestation of God’s presence and strength in our hour of need: we must read the Bible. I could write forever on the need to read the Bible, and almost certainly will say more in future blogs, but a few key reasons will have to suffice for now. First, to feel God’s comfort in times of trial we must have faith, and faith comes from the word of God. “So then, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17, NKJV) It is in the words of Scripture that we find faith, and with faith being essential for experiencing the comfort of our Lord, our quest for faith must begin within the pages of the Bible.

The Bible is also our source for renewal. And one of the areas we most need renewal is in our thinking. Each of us have endured a lifetime of indoctrination into all kinds of worldly ideas, erroneous teachings, and cultural bias. It doesn’t matter where you live or what culture you have grown up in, whether in small ways or large ways, the simple fact is our thinking has become distorted. And the Bible is our reference point to undo this distortion. Paul beseeches us in Romans 12:2: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” And Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Space has run out for this blog, so I will leave you with these two final suggestions that I won’t be able to explore in depth: 1) The Book of Psalms allows us to combine Bible reading and prayer. Each psalm is a great example of bringing a problem or trial before God and seeking His wisdom, power and guidance. Try praying as the psalmists prayed. And lastly, 2) joining a local church allows you to have solid teaching and fellowship that can provide immeasurable hope, support, and healing in difficult circumstance. So if you are not already a member of a church, please consider finding a church soon.

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Winners

winner 2 Jesus told us we would have troubles and sorrow in this world (see John 16:33). The world we live in exists in a fallen state; imperfect due to the sin that entered it in the Garden of Eden. As such, literally everything is in a state of dysfunction. We see the results of our sin predicament in all that is around us. Some common and obvious consequences include pollution, war, oppression, poverty, disease, earthquakes, terrorism, hurricanes, floods, and fires. Not all of these affect each of us in personal ways, but we read about them daily in the news and we’re all too aware of their existence.

But on a more personal basis, we experience periods of strife including such painful things as divorce, financial insecurity, illness, death of close friends and loved ones, depression, drug addiction, injury, disability, unemployment, and more. The list goes on and on. We don’t often think of these trials as the result of sin, but in God’s perfect creation, prior to the fall, these things didn’t exist. But in our day and age, they are all too real, and exactly what Jesus told us we would have to endure.

So how do we survive these trials? Where do we turn when the weight of our troubles stops us in our tracks? Jesus went on to say, in John 16:33, that we should “take heart, for I have overcome the world.” Indeed, the provision God has made for us in this fallen world is one of the sure signs of His love for us. But sometimes, in the midst of the storm, it can be hard to find just the right verse for our situation so it can help to have a ready reference list. Below are a few verses you may benefit from right now, if you are facing a specific problem, or may wish to save for future use:

Deuteronomy 31:6: So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.

Isaiah 41:10: Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

John 14:26-27: But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Psalm 34:17-18: The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10: Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4: All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

Isaiah 40:28-31: Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Psalm 46:1: God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.

A thorough study of God’s Word will yield many more verses of hope and healing. Especially useful is the book of Psalm’s, which can also function as a guide to prayer during difficult times. But without a doubt, when we turn to Jesus Christ, and trust in Him, we become victorious regardless of our present circumstances. As it is written in Romans 8:31: “Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” In Christ, we are winners regardless of our current situation.

If you have not yet placed your faith in Christ, why not make today that day? There’s no magic formula, just admit you are a sinner, and ask Him to forgive you, and believe that through His death and resurrection, you are redeemed. It’s that simple!

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Real Love

Heart-cross  There can be little doubt that people are interested in love. We talk about it, we sing about it, we spend our lives looking for it. Studies have shown love to be one of our most basic and crucial needs. When we feel we have the love we desire, we are happy and content and full of smiles; but when love fails us, our entire countenance changes and some of us may slip into utter despair. So basic and essential is love that it is the subject of books, poems, plays, movies, songs, paintings, and many other forms of art and entertainment.

Our first tangible experiences with love often come from our parents, and research has shown how vital this parental love is to our development. Parents hold us, care for us, sing to us, talk to us, play with us, teach us, dress us, set rules and boundaries for us, and become our first role models. But even parental love often falls short of our needs and expectations, manifesting dysfunction in our lives that affects our ability to give and receive love as we mature.

Eventually we seek romantic love beyond our families of origin. It is here that we tend to experience our biggest hurts and frustrations. We extend ourselves toward others in hopeful expectation and often experience rejection and letdown. Many of us try multiple times before finding that one special person with whom we feel we can spend our lives. And then, in the midst of what we were sure was the perfect relationship, we find futility and heartache. Indeed, we often find, as the popular hit song declares: love hurts.

Maybe another popular love song has it right when it proclaims that we are looking for love in all the wrong places. The fact is, as vital as it is for us to have love in our human relationships, the starting point in our search for love must be with God. For it is only in God that we can find and experience perfect love. The Bible teaches that “God is love” (1 John 4:16) and it gives us the perfect description of love: “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

The Bible is filled with examples of God’s love and assures us that “nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) When we seek His love we find all that we have been searching for; we find perfect, endless, limitless love. He will never forsake us despite our mistakes, our struggles, our bad habits, or our shortcomings.

And when we experience God’s perfect love it becomes our example of love: “We love each other because he loved us first” (1 John 4:19) and our definition of love: “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (1 John 4:10) And it is because of God’s love for us that we can approach Him in confident expectation. For we know that Jesus has experienced all our human struggles and He has empathy for us. “This High Priest of ours (Jesus) understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)

So are you ready to lay aside your struggles and receive His love? It’s easy to get started, just get alone and talk to Him. Acknowledge He is Lord and that you need Him. “For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (Romans 10:8) It’s that simple and if you are humble and genuine, you will experience new life and new hope in a way that is real and tangible. And you will know real love at last!

Our hope for you, then, is summed up in this verse from Ephesians 3:19: “May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”

Want to know more about how to experience His love? Please visit KnowGod.org

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

There’s A God in Heaven Who Loves You!

heaven 3 According to an article published in Psychology Today1, all of us have an intense desire to be loved. The article was written by Raj Raghunathan, PhD, who wrote, “The need to be loved…could be considered one of our most basic and fundamental needs.” But, it seems, this basic desire is a need that tends to go unfulfilled in many people. The Guardian2 reported in 2014, that one in five people feel unloved and one in ten people reported they don’t have a close friend at all.

Further, CBS News3 reported last fall on a Harris Poll that reveals 72% of Americans have experienced loneliness, and about a third of those say they feel lonely at least once per week. Perhaps it’s a result of the digital age, but whatever it is, there is no denying that people are longing for love and a sense of belonging. And with all the busyness most of us contend with, it can be hard to find the time for pursuing our needs.

But there is good news! There is a God in Heaven who loves you! His love is real, demonstrated, tangible. The psalmist, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote: “But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 86:15) The Apostle John said it even more succinctly: “God is love.” (1 John 4:16) Yes, indeed, we find that love is God’s very character, the essence of who He is.

And he lavishes His love on each and every person. Just read through the following verses and see how God makes evident His love for us in real and sacrificial ways:

 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8)

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)

“Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” (Ephesians 5:2)

“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)

“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

When God gave us the Ten Commandments, He did so not to limit us or restrict us. Quite the opposite, His commandments are given to guide us and protect us. They are the curbs alongside the road of life that keep us from harm and they are a mirror for self-examination. In Moses’ sermon recorded in Deuteronomy chapter five, we are taught that God promises us that if we “stay on the path that the Lord your God has commanded you to follow…you will live long and prosperous lives…” (Deuteronomy 5:33) And that is a promise from our Creator born out of the deepest love we can ever know. A love that wants to see us have long and satisfying lives.

As human beings we instinctively long for love, we long to know we are cared for, and in God we will find everything that we could ever ask or hope for. Yes, there is a God in heaven who loves you, and if you haven’t yet discovered “how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is,” (Ephesians 3:18) may today be the day you find His perfect love – the perfect love that casts out fear, that forgives absolutely, and that promises us eternal life.

Have questions about God? Want to know more about how to experience His love? Please visit KnowGod.org

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
1 The Need to Love, posted January 8, 2014, Psychology Today
2 One in 10 Do Not Have a Close Friend and Even More Feel Unloved, Survey Finds, published August 12, 2014, TheGuardian.com
3 Feeling lonely? So Are a Lot of Other People, Survey Finds, published October 12, 2016 by CBS News

Happy Independence Day

4th of julyThe fourth of July is a national holiday celebrating our independence from Great Britain. Now it was on the 2nd of July that we actually declared our independence, but in typical bureaucratic fashion, it took Congress two days of debate before they were able to come up with a declaration containing verbiage agreeable to all. Hence…we celebrate on July 4th, which is the date on the Declaration of Independence (many historians believe it was not actually signed until August 2, 1776). (Reference: “Top 5 Myths About the Fourth of July!“. History News Network. George Mason University. June 30, 2001.)

Whatever is the true and correct date of our independence, it is on the 4th of July that we celebrate as a country with parades, carnivals, patriotic displays, and, of course, fireworks. It is a time we spend with family and friends, relaxing at the lake, enjoying freshly grilled cuisine together, or any combination of fun-filled activities. Our independence as a country is certainly something worth celebrating, after all, the United States of America is the hallmark of freedom to the entire world!

Another lesser known fact about the 4th of July is that it is the day three of our past presidents entered their eternity. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both signors of the Declaration of Independence who later became president, both died on the same day: July 4, 1826. And President James Monroe died on July 4, 1831. I bring up these facts for a simple reason, to remind us all that the 4th of July is as good a day as any to contemplate that one statistic that is beyond argument: we will all one day pass from this world.

And while death is never a fun topic for discussion, it is from this very holiday that we can all find reason to rejoice! Because when the United States of America became independent it led to the eventual adoption of our constitution (in 1789) and bill of rights giving us the promise of the free exercise of religion (the first amendment was ratified in 1791). And it is with this guarantee that we are free to investigate and pursue our own religious convictions.

So, on this Independence Day I want to challenge you to spend some time contemplating the simple reality that you will eventually die and there is no escaping that fact. And while you are celebrating your freedom, I want to further encourage you to thoroughly investigate Christianity as your best religious choice. Because if you do investigate with an open heart and mind, I am confident you will conclude, as tens of millions of others have, that Jesus Christ is real, that he surely walked this earth, that he was crucified on the cross, dying a horrible and agonizing death as payment for our sins, and that he truly rose again.

In our independent country, we place a lot of faith in eyewitnesses. There were hundreds of eyewitnesses to the resurrected Christ. The apostles were so convinced of the reality of Jesus’ death and resurrection they endured beatings, jail time, and eventually death so that the message of salvation through faith in Christ would go out to all the world.

Jesus said, ““I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” And, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Folks, if you haven’t already done so, why not make this 4th of July the day you secure your eternal home with Jesus. It’s really simple, all you have to do is ask him.

(For further reading, we are pleased to recommend “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel.)

To learn more about securing your eternity with Jesus Christ, please visit:

KnowGod.org

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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