Trust Me?

In our everyday there are a lot of reasons we don’t trust. So many scams, so much hate, so little honesty, so little love. Who, what can we trust?

Sadly, sometimes the ability to trust others is lost at a young age. Sometimes, maybe not so tragic, but just as hard is betrayal in a relationship or business dealing. A lifetime of seeing or experiencing let-downs makes us wary and weary.

Too often it translates into our relationship with God. Oh yes, we believe He is powerful, good, loving, merciful – and yes, we trust Him. It’s just that the thing we’ve been praying for hasn’t happened, the disease we were praying against is causing sleepless nights, the unexpected loss makes us question. As this father said: “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24b NLT)

From a book by Jerry Bridges, Trusting God, here is a sobering quote: “…when we fail to trust God we doubt His sovereignty and question His goodness.”

Hmmm, that’s not where we want to be, but sometimes even when we feel we are trusting with all our heart, there can be a deceiving voice: “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’ “ (Genesis 3:1b BSB)

Whether we’re victims of past let downs, or the enemy is trying to make us doubt, or we are going through something hard – God has not abandoned us at any point. A world broken by sin is bound to bring pain in one way or another. We need to have an anchor to keep us from getting lost in the sea of doubt.

It becomes a heart choice, one that needs to be strengthened daily. A choice to know that this world is broken. That someday all that is wrong will be replaced with an eternity of no more hurts. In the meantime, only a daily immersion into the Bible and constant communication in prayer will keep us on course.

It’s impossible in a few paragraphs to capture the essence of trusting God. Truth is, God knows this is hard for us. He longs for us to rest in Him and find His peace. He sees the big picture; we walk with just enough light for the next step. Hold His hand, He will hold your soul. “I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in Me will no longer remain in the dark.” (John 12:46 NLT)

I Remember

Ever fill out one of those surveys that asks: do you feel the amount of information available via the internet is too much, just enough, not enough? ‘Too much’ is the answer every time. Our brains have great capacity, but seriously, a myriad of ways to cook chicken – make play dough – recycle toilet paper tubes?

How about trying to share with a friend information you found out about a particular topic? “Yeah, so I was listening to, ummm, can’t remember where I saw it, but they said…” Not only are we bombarded with ‘information’ – we’re trying to remember simple stuff and important stuff, like where the car keys are and our child’s birth date.

So, when confronted with the thought of remembering all Jesus has taught us in the Bible, and the wealth of words on those pages, it seems a bit daunting. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26 ESV)

That’s a relief. And He does. Lately when I work on memorizing passages in the Bible and then try to see if I can recall them, I ask the Holy Spirit to help me. He can also help us push out of memory things we wish weren’t crowding our thoughts. That’s a relief too!

Someday we will have minds that are able to learn and create and discover and not grow weary with overload. Love this verse: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1Corinthians 2:9b NLT)

In a recent rough time I went through with doubt and worry and anxiety, turned out the one thing that got me out of the darkness was not a friend or loved one, not a song or some good news, it was the remembrance of words that are timeless. Words written millennia ago but as meaningful and helpful as though they were written this moment just for me.

Next time we’re in information overload, stressed out, doubting, grieving, hurting, whatever the moment is holding, remember, our Help is right there with us waiting for us to ask. We’ll find our heart saying to our soul: ‘I remember now’.

“My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart.” (Proverbs 3:1 NLT)

On Anxiety

Maybe you, like me, have experienced those moments. The ones where deep breaths seem illusive. That feeling like something’s wrong – but what? Or anything?

In the world we’re living in maybe it’s not as rare as I think. But it’s not good for us. It’s a stress signal – and stress is not our friend. No solutions here – just a bit of compassion and a few ideas. How about some peace to replace the nerves?

It’s not going to come from ourselves. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be anxious in the first place, right? This is a journey of not only being a disciple of Jesus, but a truster of Him. Do we trust God to be God in our lives? “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV)

I’m coming off a morning of frustration with health. A morning of deep breaths and deep doubt. Not in God, but in my ability let go of control. To know that I’m a healthy person and though the last few months have had ups and downs, it’s not forever.

That’s when reaching out comes into play. We have to overcome being embarrassed to admit we need a listening ear, a heartfelt prayer, basically some Jesus with skin on. We can be that for each other. The Holy Spirit is in us, we are light in this dark world. Let’s allow the light of a fellow believer to make the darkness recede. “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16 NLT)

Still, a prayer warrior is not all we need. We need to immerse ourselves in heavenly help. Making the time to stop and search out the Father. ‘God, help’ – may be all we get out, but we’re headed in the right direction.

Making time to not only have regular time in the Word (start if you don’t already do this) – but amid the anxiety attack to have resources at our fingertips that point us to the Bible. Topical or inspirational. Music of praise and worship. Memorized Scripture (ahh, that one is super important).

There’s no quick fix. But I’m all in for relief even in baby steps. How about you? Can we decide to be obedient to the wise words of Jesus and the apostles? Those that say: ‘do not worry – about anything’, ‘seek His kingdom first’, ‘be still and KNOW that I Am God’ – and so many more jewels we need to unearth daily.

“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. 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.” (Ephesians 3:18-19 NLT)

Oh My Word

Do you ever use this phrase: Oh, my word! It’s a whole lot better than a lot of expressions out there. Yet today, it took on new meaning. Recently I was encouraged to come up with ‘my word for the year’. I’ve done that in the past and was glad for the reminder. It does make an impact.

I’ve had words like grace, kindness, etc. I’m still pondering this year’s word. Jesus, is always the best inspiration. “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1 NLT)

But why even choose a word for the year?

I’ve found it brings focus. For instance, when my word was kindness, my goal was to be more careful with what passed out of my lips. Even though I might not be overtly rude or unkind, I can be abrupt or matter of fact. And that can come across as unkind. (Still a work in progress, but better.)

When something comes into focus it means we see it more clearly. Like a light when the room is dark or directions when we’re not sure of the way. John 1:4 NLT says: “The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone.”

As I walked a trail recently it was late in the day, lots of shadows. I was being careful, trying to be watchful. Even so, the shadows and sand on the path obscured a tree root and I stubbed my toe so hard it almost took my breath away. Minor in the big scope of things but painful at the time.

Life can be challenging – in more ways than one. Anything that makes our days easier or more bearable or more productive sounds good to me. I think having a focus, the Light showing the way and making the path a lot more visible, helps.

So, as we ponder our ‘word’, look forward to life’s ups and downs, and try to miss the hidden tree roots – maybe turning to Messiah will save us a lot of heartache (and maybe a stubbed toe or two). “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it…So the Word became human and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.” (1John 1:5, 14a NLT)

The Beginning

We begin the New Year with a flurry of birthdays – three to be exact in a matter of twelve days. Truly a new year for each of them. Before days were kept track of, way back when Adam and Eve were still “new” and days passed in wonder and free of sin, it must have been amazing to think life would always be fresh and carefree.

Now we mark time. Newborn to grave. Dawn to dusk. Season to season. Some we go through with light hearts and some are heavy with burden. It’s why Jesus tells us: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34 NIV)

If we dwell in the past or in tomorrow, we miss whatever today is all about. Whether this day is hard or happy – we all have much to be thankful for.

“In the beginning God created” (Genesis 1:1 NIV) – earth filled with seas and land, night and day, and with… LIFE. In the end He will again do amazing work: “But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth He has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.” (2Peter 3:13 NLT).

The restoration of all things new, never marred by sin again, will be for all those who know Jesus as Lord, Savior.

Each day is a new beginning with you Lord, we pray You will teach us…

To call on You throughout our days, to love others, and to always forgive – even ourselves. Show us how to count our blessings and learn from our woes. Let us not be proud but be humble. Mark this year for us as one where we look forward to all You will make new, but also one where we live each day in a way that shows others Jesus. May our joy lift others who are burdened. Thank You that You have in store for us an eternity of newness. In the precious and daily renewing Name of Jesus Christ, Messiah, Savior, Lord of all, Amen

The Highest

Four days before the world pauses and celebrates. There aren’t many silent nights in our world – so much heartache and anxiety. Choruses of Joy to the World or We Wish You A Merry Christmas aren’t ringing out in many public venues these days.

This Christmas lyric reminds us how to celebrate: Repeat the sounding joy! Oh, that those who see us would know the why and the Who of the celebration – the Good News, the Great Joy that is for all the people.

A Savior was born, He grew to be a man, and in God’s perfect timing, served this broken world and made a bigger impact than all the celebrities, politicians, rulers ever. Why is that? His purpose was pure, His motivation was selfless, and His sacrifice was real. “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! For behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. (Luke 2:10 BSB)

Maybe this Christmas you feel too stressed or stretched – too tired or troubled – too worried or wanting to share Jesus. We all do at times. But the Savior reminds us to lay down our busyness, rest our weariness, and surrender our fears. He’s told us in this world we will have trouble – but He’s also promised us He has overcome it all.

In God’s perfect timing all will be made right. And in the wait, whether pleasant or terrifying, He will never leave us. And He will work out all things for the good of those who love Him. Do we know this, believe this? “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in Me.” (John 14:1 NLT)

Glory to God in the highest isn’t just a call of angelic beings. The more glory we give God the more He lifts us up out of what is holding us down. Praising His Name. Praying in His Name. Thanking our Messiah for the good and the bad.

So, this Christmas (and going forward) let’s live like we believe Jesus is God’s one and only Son, who came as a babe born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, gave that life away on a torturous cross, and is now in heaven telling God how much He loves us – no matter what.

In that there is great joy, and it can’t be stolen from us by circumstances. Merry Christmas! The Lord has come, receive your King, prepare room in your heart, and sing Glory, Glory, Glory to God in the Highest! And someday, peace on earth, good will to men will be our everyday. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests!” (Luke 2:14 BSB)

Shiny & New

Who doesn’t love new car smell, new vacation discovery, newborn baby softness? Once, so long ago, all the world teemed with new. The newness was never meant to fade. The wonder was never meant to become ho-hum.

But it did. The beauty of sunrise – splashing fish – flowers blooming, quickly turned into overcast skies – polluted waters – and pests destroying. So much for thinking the created could take the reins from the Creator.

Joy, joy, joy – for all will be made new and this time there will be no more sin to mar the beauty and wonder. “And the One seated on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5a BSB)

Do you know the “all things” mentioned includes you? Are you hurting from years of rejection? Are you wheelchair bound? Are you imprisoned? Is pain your constant companion? Or are you just tired of all the hard of life?

Oh, there is good, good news. Just one thing needed: let Jesus take your hand and walk your days here with you and then lead you straight into forever. It is yours just for the surrendering of your will to God’s. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” (Romans 3:23-24 NLT)

A dear friend of ours struggled the last year or so with ALS – a terrible wasting disease that left his brilliant mind and tender heart trapped in a body that completely withered before his loved one’s eyes. But he did not waiver in his hope in Christ nor did he despair that life was over. Because he knew it wasn’t – he knew that it was just beginning.

This is the amazing of Christmas, the wonder of it all. Teach little children that it’s not the shiny new toy, the paid phony with a white beard, the north pole or any of the other things we’ve made Christmas about. Shiny new are the hearts that once were lost made new here and now, the souls wandering aimlessly found and restored, and the knowledge that someday all will be shiny and new – never to spoil or be destroyed again.

Merry Christmas is a newborn baby, who grew to be a sacrificed lamb, and now stands with open arms to a perfect forever for all who simply say – ‘Save me, Jesus, a sinful wanderer in need of a forever home’. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!” (2Corinthians 5:17 BSB)

All I Want

So, what do you want for Christmas? The annual question. I hear lots of different answers – most of the grown-up responses begin with ‘All I want (fill in the blank)’. Then wrapped in shiny paper or draped with a big bow, voila. No sooner do we get what we asked for and we’re once again unsatisfied.

“If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7 CSB)

Hmm, anything?! Here’s the deal – did you read the whole verse and what comes before and after? God isn’t a genie and Jesus isn’t a fairy god mother.

No verse has been taken out of context more than this one. Before and after this verse here is what we are being taught: (my synopsis) as followers of Jesus Christ, in order to show outwardly who we are and Who we follow, we must stay very close to Him. Learn more and more to become like Him. Realize that we are powerless on our own. Bring glory to the Father.

And as we grow and mature in Him, we will know the things we should ask for. The things we ask will bring Him glory. The Holy Spirit will speak to God on our behalf – and yes, all our true desires, that are according to His will, will be granted. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1John 5:14 NIV)

This is the Good News! Because of Jesus, we have direct access to God, 24/7. Before Messiah: sacrifices and priests and laws. Now Emmanuel, God with us: He hears us. No religion – no traditions – no rituals.

This is the merry in our Christmas. We are not alone, this hard world will not always be, and we who call on the only Name that can save will forever have what our souls long for. People must know and we must tell. God is not silent, and He doesn’t want us to be.

So, what do you want for Christmas? Let’s fill in the blank with: more Jesus – in us and in the world.

“I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that

all who put their trust in Me will no longer remain in the dark.”

(John 12:46 NLT)

Every Day

I love that, here in America, we set aside a day to be thankful for all we have and be grateful for our nation.

Parents love to hear ‘thank you’ from their children. Cultivating a heart of gratefulness has to begin young – teaching that everything we’re given is worthy of thanks. Otherwise we’re like spoiled children who never utter thank you and carry that attitude throughout life.

I think, perhaps, there are a lot of ‘spoiled children’ in adult bodies these days. They ignore how blessed they are and only criticize. Never knowing, or at least not acknowledging, that everything they have or can have is not a product of their efforts, but from the hand of God who gives and gives. “And this is what Christ himself promised to give us–eternal life.” (1John 2:25 GNT)

Maybe that’s the reset we need. Time out for us all. To evaluate where we are – from the most impoverished to the super wealthy. Reset our brains to be thankful for what is and not continually lust for more.

Well that may be grandiose and not likely achievable. But what if we examine ourselves: how often do I find myself delighting in the online order, the cart of groceries, the freedom here in America – yet not daily taking time to delight more in the Giver than in the gift?

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” (Psalm 107:1 NLT)

As we celebrate Thanksgiving in just a couple of days here’s our challenge – will we daily lift up thanks for even the things we take most for granted? What if we just start with thanks for a new day? thanks for fresh air? thanks for this moment?

I’m thinking that if we concentrated on heartfelt gratefulness – we might just change our little part of the world. Maybe an army of us living grateful might begin to have a broader impact.

It all starts with three small words: Thank You Jesus. Every day is Thanksgiving.

“Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor

and power and strength be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

(Revelation 7:12 BSB)

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