High Anxiety

Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I’m not sure what I could add to what Paul has already shared….

Do not be anxious about ANYTHING!  We just need to pray with thanksgiving because – as we learned from John: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.” (1 John 5:14-15) Knowing that we have what we asked of Him in prayer and petition should give us reason to include thanksgiving with our prayer.  And in this we experience the peace of God.  It enters our hearts and minds because of our confidence … our faith in Christ Jesus!

So let this be your meditation today.  Do not be anxious.  Cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you. (Cf. 1 Peter 5:7; Psalm 55:22)

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

Every Knee Will Bow

Romans 14:11

It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’”

Do we ever stop and think about the truth of this verse?  Here Paul is quoting Isaiah 45:23, and I would like to reprint it in context for our consideration:

Isaiah 45:22-24 (NIV)

22 “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. 23 By myself I have sworn. My mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. 24 They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone are deliverance and strength.’” All who have raged against Him will come to Him and be put to shame.

It reminds me of another instance when Paul penned a similar expression of reverence:

Philippians 2:9-11 (NIV)

Therefore God exalted Him (Jesus) to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

So back to my question.  Do we think about the implications of what Paul has asserted?  What the Prophet Isaiah before him preached?  It is the same expression of reverence Moses delivered to the Israelites on the tablets of stone: “You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 5:7)  And believers have often been admonished, “Do no forget the covenant I have made with you … and do not worship other gods.” (Cf. 2 Kings 17:37-38) God has made it known that all people will bow to their knees before Him.  We are wise to do it now … for everyone will most certainly do it later when we stand before God’s judgment seat.  Yet, I scarcely think any us will have the strength to stand when we see Jesus.  Oh … we will bow … and we will call Him Lord out of awestruck wonder and extreme reverence and honor….

So whatever you and I do each day … whatever demands our attention or draws us into the world … I pray that we will take a moment each morning or evening and just bow before God.  He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;  I will be exalted among the nations,   I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10) “Give unto the Lord the glory due His Name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” (Psalm 29:2) I believe when you take time to bow before God and acknowledge Him … you will find the stress of the day diminish and your heart will find complete rest. Oh, God wants us to know Him and to reverence Him in sincere love.  And when we know Him … our hearts are filled with full conviction that He is worthy of all praise, glory, honor!  Yes, we desire to worship Him and His Majesty.  We joyfully and reverently bow in submission before Him because of who He is … and because of who we are.  When we fall down on our knees before His presence, we express the genuineness of our faith in Him. For without faith, it is impossible to please God. (Cf. Hebrews 11:6)

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

Be Strong and Very Courageous!

Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

So I’m on my lunch break and reading this verse….

Okay … so I’m going to go out on a limb here … but how timely is this verse for each of us?  I ask that with the conviction that each of us has something God has been pressing us to do in obedience … in faith … and we just need one more “push” to do it.  Do you need this word of encouragement today?  Yes! And we all do!  Faith is what equips us to be strong … to be courageous!  Faith overcomes fear … it defeats discouragement.  Faith convinces us God is ever present.  He is with you.  He will never leave you nor forsake you. Since God is for us – we need to embrace the truth of this Scripture.

But, as usual, I see something here that caught my attention.  Something that I had not considered before and I want to share it. Look at the first sentence:

Have I not commanded you?

Wow!  Have you ever considered that God commands you and I to be strong and courageous?  Is that not the key to walking forward in obedience to whatever He has called us to do?  And when God gives us something to do for Him, will He not empower us to accomplish it?  Look at the surrounding context of this verse:

Joshua 1:1-9 (NIV)

1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

These are some powerful assurances and promises of God.  They were spoken to Joshua – but I believe they have been written (recorded) for our hope and encouragement as well.  God has given us good works to do … which He prepared in advance for us to do.  (Cf. Ephesians 2:10) And He commands us to be strong and very courageous.  He commands us to “exercise our faith.”  Strong means we flex our spiritual muscles.  Courageous means our will is engaged and expectant of a victorious outcome.  Oh, there are battles ahead and there are challenges and oppositions to face; but God promises to never leave us nor forsake us.  And I believe this strength and courage God commands us to exercise is connected to what we studied just last week: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7) He is not the Spirit of fear.  The Holy Spirit empowers us and equips us to accomplish the purposes of God in and through our lives.  He fills us with the love of God. He imparts to us sound minds to understand what we need to do and how to conform our will to what God chose us in Christ Jesus (as His Body) to complete….

So I pray we will consider this thought today: “God has commanded me to be strong and courageous.”  God has said, “Do not be afraid and do not be discouraged.”  I pray we will apply this Word to our hearts and to the situations or circumstances that God has engaged us to be His instruments.  Whatever the Lord God has called you to do … just do it!  And know that God is with you to accomplish His will.  Amen!  

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

Does God Know You?

Job 23:10-11 (NIV)

But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed His steps; I have kept to His way without turning aside.

Did you know that the Book of Job is the oldest one in the compilation of the Holy Scriptures? Biblical scholars believe Job to be a contemporary of Abraham in the Ancient Near East.  The importance of this story of Job is that it provides us with some amazing insights into the relationship between God and man. Job delves into the many questions each of us have probably already asked of God along the way of our own faith journeys.  We often wonder why “bad things happen to good people,” and Job probes the purposes and will of God in afflictions and sufferings. So I like this excerpt from Chapter 23 because it does raise some personal questions for us to examine as we walk with God through this experience of life:

But He knows the way that I take.

Job asserts that God knows him … knows him intimately. Ask yourself: “Does God know the way that I take?”  Because He is God, the obvious answer is, “Yes.”  But what are the implications of His omniscience?  Does it impact the way we conduct ourselves – understanding that God sees us … that we are continually before Him even though we cannot see Him?  Does it mean that God has already determined the course we will take in life?  Then how does “free will” interact in this process?  Fascinating to ponder … but we should take a deeper look at this issue. Are we consciously desiring to please God with the decisions we make in our walk each day?

When He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.

Job asserts that when God evaluates him (tests his faith) that he will pass the test!  How do you feel about that kind of boldness?  Would you consider it arrogant?  Yet Job appears to have complete confidence in his faith toward God.  Do you ever question the steadfastness of your own faith?  Why?  Note that Job is forward looking in his statement: “WHEN God has tested him.”  Job sees testing as a given.  He expects it!  So I believe we should, too.  And the “coming forth as gold” does not necessarily mean that he passed every test that he endured.  We most likely have not and will not either. However, I believe it does mean that Job expected God to refine him in the processes of testing such that the final outcome of his life would be purity or holiness toward God….  Think about that one for personal application if you will….

My feet have closely followed His steps.

Job asserts that He has stayed in step with God and His will has been revealed to him.  Remember, Job lived long before Moses gave the Ten Commandments, so the basis on which Job made this assertion is unclear.  However, we do know there would have been an oral tradition at a minimum from the time of Adam until Abraham.  There were customs and traditions of worship shaped by the faithful remnant of each generation. I like to think that Abraham and Job both shared a profound understanding of what it means to “believe” God.  And written sources from the period which were “morally instructive” and incorporated the wisdom given by God.  The Apostle Paul even wrote about the “natural” knowledge of God all people should possess in his Letter to the Romans:

Romans 1:18-20 (NIV)

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

If you think about it … there is a natural, innate knowing that God exists … that He created us … that He wants relationship with us … and that He communicates and reveals His purpose and will to man through His Spirit … His Word … and in these last days through His Son.  (Cf. Hebrews 1:1-2) I think, bottom line, we just need to listen!

I have kept to His way without turning aside.

Job asserts that He has not wavered in his faith or in his conduct based upon the obedience of faith.  Again, I find Job to be quite bold in his claim because I’d say few of us have been that “perfect” in our walk with God.  Maybe you have self-discipline of Job … but I have stumbled along the way and turned aside from time to time.  Yet, God in His grace has brought me to repentance and disciplined me as needed to correct my waywardness.  The writer of the Book of Hebrews gives us some insight (and comfort) along these lines:

Hebrews 12:4-11 (NIV)

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastens everyone He accepts as His son.” (Quotes Proverbs 3:11-12) Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Nevertheless; righteous Job … patient Job … remained obedient to the way of the Lord.  He turned neither to the right nor the left but made his path straight.  He was steadfast.  And God was pleased with Job … and found delight in him.  So I’m not sure the question is whether or not we have turned aside at any point in our walk with God (whether presumptuously or otherwise); but rather, “Is your relationship with God like one would have with their father?”  Do you receive chastisement or discipline from God with the same respect or reverence you would from an earthly father?  Though imperfect, our earthly fathers did what they thought best to guide us in godly or acceptable behavior. But our Heavenly Father is perfect in His manner with us.  He is the most trustworthy person we can have in our lives.  And we can expect that He is going to discipline us out of His great love for us….

Well, I might have let my thoughts ramble a bit too much, but even a few verses from the Old Testament can move us … can stir us … and help us see how God has always ordained for us to live righteous lives and to pursue His holiness.  He designed us … He created us in His image to enjoy life itself … life as He defined it and intended it for us … abiding in Him and He in us.  How I pray each of us will fully grasp that we can have a life of fellowship with God like Job did.  And this life is found in His Son. For without Jesus, there is no life. (Cf. 1 John 5:11-12)

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

Verse of the Day – 02/27/19

1 John 3:18 (NIV)

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

No matter how much we profess to love God or to love one another, the evidence of love is in the actions taken to demonstrate it.  God not only tells us that He loves us, but God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8).  John reminds us here that actions speak louder than words.  Even Jesus requires action on our part to show or demonstrate our love for Him: “If you love Me, keep my commandments.” (Cf. John 14:15; 1 John 5:3) Yes, love is a verb! Love is service oriented. Love is something we “do”.  (Love is: 1 Corinthians 13).

On a similar note, I am reminded that the Apostle James frankly addresses this point with regard to our faith.  Faith is not profession alone either.  No matter how much we “believe,” the evidence of faith is in the actions that demonstrate it as well.  Here James distinguishes between faith as a concept and faith as a reality:    

James 2:14-17 (NIV)

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

I pray that our Verse of the Day will challenge us to “live” like we “love” and to “befriend” like we “believe”.  As Paul challenges us:

Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)

I urge you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service (spiritual worship). And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

And as a reminder, I will reprint this verse for us as well:

1 John 4:20-21 (NKJV)

20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!