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!

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.

True Confessions

true confessions  Would it be fair to say that you have something in your past that you wish you wouldn’t have done? Something you regret? Someone you hurt you wish you hadn’t? A dark moment that you’d do differently if you only could? If you’re like most of the human race, you probably have several such things lurking in your past. And from time to time, they problem tug on your conscience.

The past does have a way of creeping into our thoughts and affecting our future. Try as we might, we can’t always escape the consequences of our prior actions, and sometimes the residual effects of our past affect us in unpredictable ways. So what do we do when faced with our own history? Is there any escape from the regret we feel? Any way to truly put the past in the past?

Fortunately, the answer is yes! God has made provision for our forgiveness and our path forward. His mercy is actually part of his very character and when we turn to him and sincerely seek his forgiveness, he does not withhold it from us. “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” (1 John 1:9) God actually wants to forgive us.

In twelve step recovery programs, dealing with the past is paramount to success. From the book, Alcoholics Anonymous, pp 63-64: “We launched out on a course of vigorous action, the first step of which is a personal housecleaning, which many of us had never attempted. Though our decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us.”

Indeed, in AA, steps 4-9 all deal with setting the past right. Steps 4-7 primarily focusing on setting our relationship with God right and steps 8-9 solidifying that spiritual direction by pursuing reparation with those we have hurt. Few people realize that the twelve steps are based on Biblical principle, which certainly explains why they have been so successful for so many. Turning to God is the natural solution for our Creator longs to render us aid!

So when those darker things from your past creep into your today, turn to the one whose very character is defined by his love, grace, and mercy. Find a close friend, confidant, or spiritual leader and make your confession. You will feel an instant and tangible easing of your burden, like having a weight taken off your shoulders, and you will start to feel a new freedom and a new nearness to your Creator. “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16)

God loves you. More than you will ever know or understand.

Here are some links that you might find helpful:

The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

KnowGod.org

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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.

Your Stalker

stalker threatening-1541063_960_720   Your stalker is out there. You may not ever see him, or even know that he’s lurking about, but he’s watching you. He watches you when you wake up in the morning, he watches while you shower and while you dress. He follows you on your morning commute and he watches with steadfastness while you go about your daily work activity. He’s got eyes on you when you stop at the gym after work, when you’re having a drink with friends, and on your way home. And as you settle into bed after a long day, he’s there waiting. Your stalker never rests, always watches, always waits. In broad daylight and creeping around in the dark of night, he’s there. He’s always there, a shadow lying in wait.

Your stalker’s name is Death and Death is a hunter. A patient hunter, stalking his prey with precision and endurance. He never worries about missing his quarry, for he knows they all succumb eventually. It doesn’t matter how adept his subject is at survival, Death will introduce every victim to his partner, the grave. And all your efforts to avoid Death are in vain. It doesn’t matter if you eat right or work out regularly. Neither the fitness guru nor the glutton can avoid their common fate. Some things we do may help delay the inevitable, but even then Death often strikes without warning. Auto accidents, cancer, storms, and fire are just tools in the hands of Death.

Each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)

It may seem this subject is a bit grim but let’s face it, the one statistic we can be sure of is that 10 out of every 10 people will die. That’s you, me, them. Everyone. Most people don’t like to think about it, but almost all of us have already faced death with the loss of a friend, family member, or coworker, so we know how real death is. But it is so much easier to focus on our careers, our hobbies, our friends, our social lives, our favorite TV shows, our vacation plans, or just about anything else. Death is not a subject we like to think about.

But the fact remains, death is stalking us, and as much as we may not wish to think about it, it may come much sooner than we care to imagine. We all know someone who died much too young and tomorrow anyone of us could be that person, so time is short. And we all instinctively know that death is not the end, so making sure we are ready for it should be our highest priority. So how can we be ready?

First, we must admit that we are a sinner. That should be really easy, for who among us would ever consider themselves perfect? Indeed, we all know deep inside we have made mistakes, we have done things that have hurt those around us, so let’s not waste any time with denial. Next, we must repent. This is also really simple; we just acknowledge that we are sinners and we turn from doing things our way and we start doing things God’s way. Lastly, we put our faith in Jesus Christ. For “if you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 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 10:9-10)

Please, please take these steps today, for everyone likes to think they have another day, or year, but the reality is we may not even have another minute. May God bless you richly as you consider your eternal future and the reality that God loves you enough to send his only Son that you might be forgiven.

Learn more at: KnowGod.org

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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.

Before Anyone Else

BAE couple-1599046_960_720

BAE. Before anyone else. A term to describe the most important person in your life. Most use the term to describe their significant other; so, for example, I would say that my wife is BAE. And she definitely is…in human terms. But there is one who comes before her, and should be BAE for all of us, and that one is God. This is not just my opinion, it is one of God’s commandments, one that God gave us for a very specific reason. Let’s look at God’s Word:

“I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. You must not have any other god but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.” (Exodus 20:2-6)

Now, some people can find the meaning of these verses from the ten commandments a bit troubling, but in reality they are not so difficult at all. God is communicating to us his intended design that places Him first in the order of all things, and especially as it relates to our relationship with Him. Any difficulty in understanding often comes when we bring our own, modern day understanding to the text (a poor practice called “eisegesis”, which space doesn’t allow us to discuss in detail here). When we use the technique of understanding the text in terms of the original writer’s perspective (a more acceptable practice called “exegesis”) then we begin to understand what God is saying to us.

When God is described here as a “jealous” god, the word in the original language is “qannā,” a word that refers directly to the attributes of God’s justice and holiness. He is to be the sole object of human worship and he does not tolerate man’s sin. Understood this way, we see that the term “jealous” in Exodus 20:5 is not the same kind of jealousy we might feel in our lives, rather, it reflects God’s ordained order of things, and His rightful place in that order is before anyone else, or BAE. Anything less will not be tolerated.

This is a good point for us to be reminded that when God says “don’t,” He means “don’t hurt yourself.” There is a clearly designed order in God’s creation, of which we are a central part, and when we stray outside that order we begin to experience consequences that may take many forms. To stray from God’s intended order in any way is to sin, and sin always comes with repercussion. And this is where we see God warning us in Exodus 20:6 – “I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected…” So maybe the cliché “don’t means don’t hurt yourself” might better be stated: “don’t means don’t hurt yourself and others”.

As human beings, we often have a strong tendency to think only in terms of ourselves, but our lives are not our own, and our choices and the actions we take affect those around us as much as they affect us, and this is especially so within our families. Most of us have known family dysfunction at some level, and we see here that the ultimate root cause of that dysfunction stems from not recognizing God is BAE. So when we lose sight of God in His rightful place as Lord, and we pursue all those things that we desire, we really make ourselves BAE (even if we don’t realize it) and all those things, those pleasures, they become idols to us.

So what are we to do? How do we escape this tendency to put ourselves in the center of our lives? Simple, really: we accept God’s forgiveness and we start doing our very best to keep God at the center of our thinking and our lives by reading the Bible, praying, and trying to follow His commands. Psalm 119:1-9 offers us this encouragement:

Joyful are people of integrity,

who follow the instructions of the Lord.

Joyful are those who obey his laws

and search for him with all their hearts.

They do not compromise with evil,

and they walk only in his paths.

You have charged us

to keep your commandments carefully.

Oh, that my actions would consistently

reflect your decrees!

Then I will not be ashamed

when I compare my life with your commands.

As I learn your righteous regulations,

I will thank you by living as I should!

I will obey your decrees.

Please don’t give up on me!

How can a young person stay pure?

By obeying your word.

We can see that when we keep God as BAE, and follow His commandments, then we experience joyful living. That doesn’t mean we will be without trials or difficulty. Quite the contrary, it means we will be joyful despite our trials and difficulties, and that joyfulness will bear witness of God’s power to all those around us, and to our own families, and family dysfunction will start to fade away. And that seems an admirable goal, doesn’t it? So…is God BAE in your life?

Learn more at: KnowGod.org

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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.