Facts or Feelings, God’s Word in my Heart

Psalm 119:81-88 ESV –

81 [Kaph] My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word. 
82 My eyes long for your promise; I ask, “When will you comfort me?” 
83 For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, yet I have not forgotten your statutes. 
84 How long must your servant endure? When will you judge those who persecute me? 
85 The insolent have dug pitfalls for me; they do not live according to your law. 
86 All your commandments are sure; they persecute me with falsehood; help me! 
87 They have almost made an end of me on earth, but I have not forsaken your precepts. 
88 In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.

Some days are easier than others. There. I spoke it out loud. Some days I feel lonely. useless. misunderstood. misused. dismissed. tired. pain-ridden. foggy-brained. . . (feel free to add your own modifiers)

When I am having one of those “what’s the point?” days (and, yes, there have been many more than one, over the years) I am even more grateful than usual for God’s Word planted (stored) in my heart. God’s truth must have more credibility than my feelings. That even sounds strange to say — “of course, God’s Word is true!” but, be honest — what has more impact on your mood, your identity, your behavior: your feelings, or God’s Word?

Feelings come and go. Seriously. Some days I feel useful. content. hopeful. significant . . .(feel free to add your own modifier). Is God’s Word more true on those days? No.  “Forever, O Lord, Your Word is firmly fixed in the heavens . . ” (Psalm 119:89). There is no substitute for memorizing/meditating on God’s Word. Otherwise, I am prone to believe my feelings. And my feelings change. But . . .

Psalm 102:25-27 ESV – 
25 Of old you [God] laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. 
26 They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, 
27 but you are the same, and your years have no end.

Amen.

By the way, if Psalm 119 intrigues you, Sweeter Than Chocolate: an Inductive Study of Psalm 119, by Pam Gillaspie is an excellent “digging deeper” into this psalm. There will be an online, live discussion of this 8 week study, beginning June 13. Beloved Truth Psalm 119 study. You can purchase the workbook here Amazon or here Precept Ministries

If your schedule doesn’t allow for a weekly commitment, Pam Gillaspie is also offering her study on her website in a flexible format. You can sign up here https://pamgillaspie.com/

Having God’s Word in my heart is the only way that I can survive the “wineskin in the smoke” days  . . .

Weariness is Still a Part of Life

Weariness is Still a Part of Life

Mediatations, Beverly Schlomann

I originally penned this post about 3 years ago. Recently I have been impressed with the importance of “reminders” and “remember” in Scripture. We are so prone to forget where our strength lies. We are so prone to forget on Whom we depend. . . The apostle Paul wrote his son-in-the-faith Timothy:  “I want to remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control. ” (2 Timothy 1)

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. 2 Thessalonians 3:13

Consider him [Jesus] who endured such hostilities against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. Hebrews 12:3

Ok. It seems as though the opening verses completely disagreed with the title. But there is a difference between being weary and growing weary.

God knows we get weary.

for he knows our frame, he remembers that we are dust. . .Psalm 103:14

Jesus tells us to come to him in our weariness,

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. . . Matthew 11:28

The difference is on whom I rely for my strength. Where do I run for my antidote for weariness?

for we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life . . .that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. . .2 Corinthians 1:8-9

I think we all have experienced the consequences of trying to do it all in my own strength, pulling myself up by my bootstraps and gritting my teeth (so who wants to be exhausted,overwhelmed, tripping over your boots and getting a sore jaw from gritting your teeth??)

Being weary is a part of life. Growing weary, ready to give up, feeling despairing and hopeless, is part of the consequence of kindling my own fires, making my own torches. It is relying on myself, rather than on God.

It is exhausting.

Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, ‘my way is hidden from The Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God?’
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the Everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Isaiah 40:27-29

Weariness should drive me straight to Jesus. Humility tells me to admit my weakness, and accept God’s strength. God is glorified in my life when I am openly admitting my utter dependence on God’s grace.

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for The Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:30-31

It is God who strengthens me to live another day. It is his power that gives me hope. His power is perfected in my weakness (see 2 Corinthians 12).

Come to Jesus — the right response to weariness.

Why Imprecatory Psalms?

Why Imprecatory Psalms?

 

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to make you wise for salvation through Christ Jesus. All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:12-17 ESV

Imprecate – n. To call down, or invoke curses upon, as on a person (dictionary.com)

If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all. — Thumper the rabbit, Bambi’s friend

I have heard (and read) that Imprecatory psalms are valuable and necessary because we need to know that God can handle our raw emotions. But if it is true that all scripture is profitable (and I believe it is), then there must be more to learn from the psalmist’s 14 or so cries for God to rain down his wrath on the enemy.

Currently I am reading through the Psalms chronologically, which is probably why “imprecatory” is on my radar. Many of David’s early psalms were written when he was a fugitive, running from an unpredictable king Saul who wanted him dead, and had the resources and military power to make it happen. David knew that God was in control, that God was “for him” and that God would “fulfill his purpose for him” (psalm 57:2), but in the meantime. . .

We so long for life to be fair. If I do the right things, then good things should happen. If I desire to do God’s will, there should be no obstacles or hindrances. That thinking is “prosperity gospel.” It isn’t true. It leads to death and destruction. Life is not fair. Not everyone plays by the rules. Devoted Christ-followers get sick. Believers are persecuted.

The despair of “how long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” of Psalm 13:1 is real. When life is difficult, when evil goes unpunished, when healing doesn’t happen, we want to make sense of the situation. But David’s declaration in psalm 13:5 is equally true — “I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.”

And therein lies a key lesson. When I am feeling “Imprecatory” because life is not fair and I feel abandoned and alone, I must “preach the gospel” to myself:

  • “There is none righteous” means that life will not be fair
  • “for all have sinned” means that I am no more deserving of God’s grace  than anyone else
  • Jesus took all the evil, all the unfairness, all the sin onto himself, satisfied the payment of God’s righteous wrath, and gave me his righteousness as a free gift (see Romans 3; 2 Corinthians 5).
  • God will fulfill His purpose for me (Psalm 57). He will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13)

When I consider my lack of love, my grumblings, my discontent, etc. — oh, how grateful I am for Jesus! I am grateful for the gift of repentance. God is teaching me, in my physical weakness and “unhealth,” that I truly need Him every moment of every day. My times are in his hands (psalm 31)  C. H. Spurgeon said, “God is too good to be unkind. He is too wise to be confused. If I cannot trace his hand, I can always trust his heart.”

since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

 

 

The Mission Has Not Changed

Jesus’ commission to Saul of Tarsus (renamed Paul) “. . .But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ “(Acts 26:16-18 ESV)

We have the same profound opportunity. God is sending His church into this world to offer redemption and transformation. Living our faith, sharing our lives–the task is not yet done. . .

A Mighty Fortress, Refuge, and Strength

Psa 46:1-3 ESV – 1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

God is present, Immanuel, not as an interested spectator, but alongside, supporting, carrying, protecting . . .and He is (presently, currently) our refuge (shelter, or deliverance from) and strength (power, security, or deliverance through) . . .

Because God is Sovereign, because He is both refuge and strength — we do not need to fear

not “until”

but “though” or even when the earth gives way,

even though the mountains are moved into the heart of the sea

even though the waters roar and foam

even though the mountains tremble at its swelling . . .

Note: if you are imagining earthquake or hurricane or flood . . .you are right on track . . .

God is Sovereign, He is our Refuge and Strength, not only in natural disasters, but also in relational disasters, in physical illness, in emotional distress. God is Sovereign. He is our Refuge. He is our Strength.

Not just occasionally. God is . . .present tense. . .not maybe. . .is.

Martin Luther knew this. God was his Refuge and Strength through unfair trial proceedings, through hiding from enemies seeking his life, through poverty, through distress, through depression, through exhaustion. His study of Psalm 46 resulted in the familiar hymn, A Mighty Fortress is Our God. Let the truth of this hymn encourage your soul today.

A mighty Fortress is our God, A Bulwark never failing;
Our Helper He amid the flood Of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, The Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth His Name, From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, For lo! his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours Through Him who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, This mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His Kingdom is forever

Which Way Did He Go?

Which Way Did He Go?

Which way did he go? Sounds like something you would hear in an old black and white movie. When the “coppers” were chasing Jimmy Cagney and asked a bystander “Which way did he go?”

In today’s Podcast I start with the question “Are You Pointing People to THE TRUTH? If you, like those bystanders didn’t see the way he went, you simply can’t point people in the direction of truth either. Oh, but if you watched him slip around the corner with your own eyes, your law abiding citizens duty would be to point the police officer in the right direction.

Let’s look at the Gospel of John 1:35-51 together and ,as always, I have a short Engagement with Truth assignment for you. BTW, here is a copy of the Gospel of John that you can download and print to do your markings on:

Gospel of John Observation Worksheets

1-Read through John 1 again

2-mark every reference to Jesus with a cross (use a color if you like)

    • also, mark any way Jesus is portrayed (Word, Light, etc.)
    • as we progress through John, take note of every way Jesus is portrayed and make a list of them in your Engagement with Truth Notebook

See…that was pretty easy. I hope you will join me for the Podcast go a little deeper into our passage with me.