The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. (Psalm 23: 1-2) David understood something about God that transformed his life. God wants us to live in peace. When David said the Lord was his shepherd, he described a life of protection. Sheep don’t worry about wolves if the shepherd is near. David so trusted that God would protect his life that it allowed him to face a giant and win.
But there is another deeper truth in these two verses. God makes me lie down in green pastures. We need rest. We need peace. Our souls are designed to recharge in rest. He leads me beside still waters. The Hebrew for this is “waters of rest”. (Strong’s H4496, H4325) How amazing is that! If we allow Him, God will lead us to waters of rest. The sabbath was made to be a day of rest because we need it. Life can be overwhelming and if we are not careful of our rest, we suffer the affects of stress, which is physically and emotionally damaging.
When we rest in peace, God restores our soul. We don’t have to wait to be dead to rest in peace! We are meant to enjoy that now. God knows how stressful life is. He promises to restore our peace if we let Him. Human nature is to be fearful so we’re told over three hundred times in the Bible to fear not. It’s a choice to trust that God will take care of us. Seek first the kingdom of God and He will take care of us. It’s His promise. It’s only then that He can restore our soul and help us live in rest.
Rest is yours for the having. Enjoy it everyday. Your soul will thank you.
There’s a lovely story in the gospels about a centurion who’s servant was very sick. Matthew (Matthew 8:5-13) said the centurion approached Jesus and Luke (Luke 7:1-10) says that he sent elders of the Jews to speak for him. In both accounts, all he asked Jesus to do was speak the word of healing because he understood authority. “For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
Jesus was amazingly impressed by this man’s faith. “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.” In all of the travels that Jesus did up and down the region where people were being healed everyday, he’d never seen this much faith. What’s even more amazing is that the man was a Roman, not even Jewish.
I love this centurion so much because he epitomizes what a believer should look like. According to Luke, he sent others to speak for him because he didn’t feel worthy to have Jesus come to his home. I think that kind of humility must have been uncharacteristic for most Romans. And he loved the Jewish people enough to build them a synagogue with his own money. He was humble, loving, and generous–all the qualities that we should exhibit.
On top of that, he was a man who understood power and authority. I don’t believe for a moment that any order he gave was second-guessed or ignored. The Roman army was notorious for its discipline. His orders would be obeyed or heads would roll. Imagine that combination of gentle caring and power. That’s exactly what we are called to live in.
We’ve been given all authority to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and cast out demons. (Matthew 10:8) We are to do what Jesus did, and more, but we are to do it in the power of the Holy Spirit who is the source of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22) Gentle, loving, power and authority, working in the kingdom for the sake of others without needing recognition. This centurion has a lot to model for us. I, for one, can’t wait to meet him in heaven.
You know those times when everything hits the fan at the same time; when everything that could go wrong, does go wrong; when the pressure of life and work gets the better of you? Nothing feels good then. In fact, anything good seems so far away, you can’t even see it on the horizon. That’s when you know you’ve lost touch with the goodness of God. He’s still with you, but you forgot that. It’s actually your job to keep joy in your heart not His, even in the hard times.
The problem with keeping joy isn’t how to do it, it’s remembering to do it. Maybe you need to make a sticky note or have some memento that reminds you to check you joy level because it’s important to do for your spiritual strength. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit and His always with you, so it’s always yours to have. Always, even when life gets tough. So how do you do that?
Joy is easy when life is good. You can look at all the goodness around you and happily thank Papa for what He’s done. But the tough times, that’s when you need determination. Here’s what you do: think of what you’ve prayed for, all the promises of God that you haven’t seen fulfilled yet. There’s the source of your joy when you don’t feel it any other way. Jesus said, “whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24) That means that all those things that you prayed for are on their way! Imagine that!
Just stop and think about all your prayers being answered today. What would it look like? How would it make you feel? That’s joy, my friend. Answered prayer is a ready source of joy and you just read that if you believe, it’s a done deal, so rejoice! Thank Papa for what He has already done even though you haven’t seen it yet. Remember that He’s outside of time. He answers when we pray, we just need to catch up to the reality.
Holding onto joy when times are tough will keep you from all manner of bad thoughts and decisions. It keeps you grateful and expectant. All you need to do is believe that when you pray, He will answer. As long as you know that, you’ll be singing everyday.
Trust in the LORD always, for the LORD God is the eternal Rock. (Isaiah 26:4)
All you who fear the LORD, trust the LORD! He is your helper and your shield. (Psalm 115: 11)
Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)
Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. [Jesus] (John 14:1)
Over and over again we are told to trust God. It should come naturally when we love Him with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind. But do we? Easier said than done sometimes.
We don’t live in a society where we are encouraged to trust God, so when we run into situations that can turn us into panicked monkeys, it’s not always easy to remember to trust the One who excels at making everything work out for the best. Take another look at the scriptures above. Not one of them says, if you feel like it. You will notice that they are emphatic. These are not suggestions, these are commands, because if we will indeed trust in the Lord, He will save us from immeasurable pain.
Sounds good, but how do you do it? I remember my small cousin when she was about eighteen months old. My uncle would hold her standing straight and tall in one hand and lift her up so she stood six feet in the air as calmly as if she stood on solid ground. Why? Because she had absolute trust in him. She had no reason to believe that he would allow her to be hurt. The rest of us watched with terrified glee, but she never batted an eye.
We must trust God the same way. Don’t let your heart be troubled. This takes some self discipline. Anxiety will come, it will, but then you must rebuke it. Literally rebuke it and then turn to God and tell Him that you trust Him in this situation. When it happens again, you know the drill. Don’t allow your heart to be troubled. Sit back and think of God the Father as the loving God who holds you in His hand and will not allow you to fall. Thank Him for that. The more you acknowledge His goodness and ability to take care of you, but easier it will be to turn your trust to Him automatically. Soon anxiety will have no hold on you. You can be free.
Why is it that we love hero stories? We seem to especially love super hero stories. There must be inhuman odds of the hero ever finding success. The earth itself must be in peril. The greater the opposition and difficulty of the hero to even survive makes the story that much better. This is not a recent phenomenon. Hero stories have lasted for thousands of years. There’s something about them that we humans love.
I think it has to do with something that we’d never associate those stories with. I think it has to do with the very nature of God. It is the nature of God to overcome evil. His goodness banishes evil by Him being good. Consider this, God breathed life into Adam. That breath of God contained the essence of the Godhead. It gave life to the spirit of Adam so that we retain, how ever minute, the essence of God within us. We love stories that overcome evil because God put that desire in us. They inspire us to live above our humanity.
But is it real? Is Superman real? In a sense yes. With God, all things are possible. ALL THINGS. Nothing is impossible. When we stand against evil, we become heroes in the kingdom. That doesn’t happen when we confine our Christian experience to church attendance and potluck socials. It only happens when we stand face to face against cancer, terrorism, sex trafficking, massive floods, death and destruction.
How do you release your super powers? By standing in the authority that God gave you. He did not say, pray and ask me to heal the sick. He said, “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons.” (Matt 10:8) That’s super hero stuff, and every believer that is filled with the Spirit of God has it in him to do. We are capable of so much good, if we only believed it. We can stand against the very tide of evil and turn it back with a word, just as Jesus stopped the storm. He left us with the command to do as He did. (Jhn 14:12)
I believe that we will face an accounting for what we did with the power that Jesus gave us. Like the talents buried in the ground, we waste so much of what we’ve been given. And the unprofitable servant will be cast into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt 25:30) Is that scare mongering? Perhaps, but it is also truth and plain as day in the Bible.
God did not expect us to allow the world to be overrun by evil. He gave us the power of His Spirit for a reason — to heal, bless, and release the kingdom of God everywhere we go. Whenever we stand against the devices of the enemy, the real Super Hero within us is released in power to effect His good. And He doesn’t mind us enjoying stories that inspire us to do that.
Everyone feels little confident that they know what faith is. Intellectually, we understand that faith is trust. I’m going to talk about what it is to trust in God. For most of my life, I agreed with what just about everyone else believes, that faith is trust. I believed in God and counted that as faith. I prayed. I believed that God would, and should, answer my prayers because I trusted that He would. Did He? Not as often as I wanted. Why? Because I didn’t actually have faith.
My knowledge of God was not the same thing as trusting Him. My knowledge of a political party does not make me an active participant in that party. I have to believe their core values and act on them. It was a shocking burst of reality when I discovered that all my years of “believing” only amounted to years of “knowing.” When my faith called me to believe, I had a meltdown.
Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Heb 11:1) That’s the tricky part — we don’t like having to trust in something we can’t see. Yet, that’s exactly what God wants from us. That’s what faith is all about. It means that you will trust and not worry. Will the money come in? Trust and not worry. Will your son be ok in the military? Trust and not worry.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. (Heb 11:6) It starts with believing that God exists. When we know that, we have to understand His nature. If we seek Him, because we want to find Him, He rewards us with what we need and blesses us even above that. Once we understand who He is, trusting Him gets easy. Read His Word and see just how generous and kind He is.
Here’s my challenge to you: check your heart and judge if you think you have faith, or you know you have faith. The way to determine that is checking your worry meter. If you worry at all, then faith is absent. If you turn to God and believe that He will do what He’s promised to do, then faith is active. Try it. Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve been worrying. Repent. Ask God to forgive you and ask Him for more faith to trust Him. Then try it out. See how far it takes you. We grow from faith to faith, always trusting Him more. If worry sneaks in because it’s been a habit, repent, ask for forgiveness, and move on.
Faith will save your life if you allow it. It is definitely God’s plan for you.
The blessings of God belong to us. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. (Eph 1:3) These are real promises. Every spiritual blessing is ours. What does that look like? Look at the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control. (Gal 5:22-23) Does any of that look like anything you’d like to have in your life? What about physical blessing? Jesus said: Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. (Mat 6:25) That means that God will provide all that you need in life!
Does it start to look like God wants to bless you in just about every way possible? So, if He’s so willing to give it, why don’t you have it?
One reason is because you may not think you deserve it. We’ve been trained to earn what we get. We think that if we behave ourselves, we’ll be rewarded. When we screw up, we feel guilty and don’t feel like we deserve any reward, and that blocks what God wants to do. And, as it turns out, we’re human, so we screw up all the time — so we never feel like we ever deserve blessing.
But here’s the thing, God knows we’re human. He’s known that all along, and He’s not bothered by it. In fact, Jesus died for us knowing just how human we were, and loved us the whole time. We can’t earn His blessing. He gives it freely, knowing who we are. There’s no way to be perfect, so get over it. When you mess up, repent. Give it to Jesus and let it go. Guilt, condemnation, and fear will block all the goodness that God wants to put into your life. Confessing your sins and continuing to feel guilty is not His plan. You have to know that you are forgiven when you repent.
Now ask God to bless you. That’s perfectly ok to do. He wants to do it. Say, “Father, I receive all the blessings that you are giving me.” Now watch what happens in your life. When you see blessing begin to come to you, thank Him. Be grateful, then ask for more. That’s ok, too. There’s no limit to how much blessing you can have. It’s all yours. More than you could possibly hold onto. In fact, you may have to ask Him to hold back at some point so you can take it all in.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil 4:13)
Is this true? It’s from the Bible, so it’s either truth or a lie. I choose to believe that the Bible is truth. It is the word of God, and God is telling me that I can do anything. Wait…anything? That probably means that if I put my mind to it I can do all things that are within my limitations. Because, if I study hard enough, or practice hard enough, or think good thoughts long enough I can do things that are pretty hard.
Nope. That’s not what it means. Studying hard and practicing are works of my own effort, not through Jesus. God says that I can do anything, if I rely on Him. That means that it’s all His effort, not mine.
So what does anything look like? Well, use your imagination. Imagine that the Holy Spirit is asking you to do something that seems impossible. It probably looks a little scary, because it if wasn’t you could do it on your own. But what if you accept that God can do what He wants, and what if you agree with Him to do what He asks. Now impossible things begin to happen. Now you can do anything because Jesus is with you.
What’s stopping you right now from doing impossible things? Fear. Fear is lying to you. Fear says that God will not what He says He will do. Fear is a liar. Tell it to leave you. Turn to God and tell God that you trust Him. Ask Him to help you do impossible things, then trust Him. Just do it. Now the next one will be easier because you have experience that God will be there for you. Keep doing it. Soon, the impossible things will become an amazing and fun adventure.
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matt 5:14-16)
It’s easy to read this to mean that as long as I believe in God, I have His light in me and that’s all I need — my light is shining because I say I believe in God. I used to believe this — for a long time. The problem was, my light didn’t do anything. Light is supposed to chase away darkness and my light wasn’t all that visible. I went to church and read my Bible but no one was affected by it. No darkness fled before me. Why was that?
My light was weak because I didn’t actually trust God as much as I said I did. When the storms came, my house built on sand came crashing down. (Matt 7:24-28). My light was indeed hidden under a basket. Weak light hidden under a basket does not change the world, much less your own life.
I finally began to read the Bible for the truth that it is. When God says to trust Him, He means it. He means it when He says He’ll take care of me, but my responsibility is to stop worrying about it. He said He would provide for all that I need. The job, the house, the relationships, everything that matters to me matters to Him.
Learning to trust Him for the good Father that He is will turn the voltage up on your light. Pretty soon the basket has to get out of the way. And when we walk into the room, the atmosphere changes because of Who we carry in us. Darkness has to flee. People will be affected because the God of the universe just came in.
Life is never the same after we embrace Jesus for who He said He is. His love for us is a light that just won’t go out, and the more we embrace Him, the brighter it gets.
I would like to suggest that God is unreasonable. Not because what He asks of us is just too difficult, but because we can’t reason Him fully. There’s only so much we can understand of Him, after that we just have to trust our spirits. Our spirits understand God perfectly because God is spirit. When we learn to trust what our spirit knows, it’s called faith.
When we intellectualize God without having a relationship with Him, we become like the Pharisees. They knew who Jesus was. They listened to Him teach. They saw what He did, but they didn’t want what He offered. It messed with their intellectual understanding of God.
Jesus didn’t come to set up a code of rules that the Pharisees would be familiar with. He came to be in relationship with anyone who wanted God. Relationships are messy. They get personal. Jesus wanted to connect with real people, not rules.
Coming to Jesus takes an act of will. That involves your intellect, but it also requires faith. You have to step off the cliff at some point and trust that God will be there for you. He promises that He will, all the time. Don’t over think it. He’s not asking you to stop using your brain, He’s asking you to trust your spirit.
And when you do, God goes from being unreasonable to very, very reasonable. When you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you get a new brain. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2) Renewing is just like being born again. It’s a new brain, not the same old one born again. Instead of your old brain, you get the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16) Don’t reject this. This is exactly what the Bible says, and the Bible is the word of God. (2 Timothy 3:16)
Now that you have the mind of Christ, God becomes understandable. This is going to take some getting used to. Knowing the depths of God won’t come in a blinding flash of revelation, though that will happen too. You learn and grow — precept upon precept, line upon line. (Isaiah 28:10) You begin to trust when the Holy Spirit is speaking to you. You begin to get ideas that you know weren’t yours. The mind of Christ begins to broaden your thinking and you begin to trust Him more. It’s a journey into the realms that your natural mind could never take you.
But this relationship doesn’t just happen because you read about it. It requires an active decision. You must want it and go after it.
Let’s pretend that you are isolated in a place with no access to the outside world. There’s no way to learn the things that you need to survive or help you. Then let’s say that you had an uncle who knew you were in that difficult place and wanted to help. Let’s say that he spent all of his savings to buy you a computer that would help you with everything you need. But in order to get the computer to you, the uncle has an accident and loses an arm. How would you feel about receiving that gift after it cost him so much, both financially and physically? Would you leave the computer in the box and dust it off now and then? Would you thank him kindly and use the computer to play games? Or would you hug and kiss him for the sacrifice that he made and plug that computer into the internet and discover the world?
The gift you’ve been given by God is far, far more valuable than a computer. Jesus, the Son of God, sacrificed His life and then gave you access to all of heaven. His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3) It’s just amazing. Everything you need in life is yours. God has promised to take of you and delight you. The key to receiving all that you need is this: But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:33) Seek after the Lord. Ask for more understanding of who He is. Find Him in the scriptures, in your prayer time, in looking at His creation. He’s there, and He’s waiting. There is so much He wants you to have. He’s a great Father and He wants the best for you. Go get it.