Jesus is the Rock

Ps31-3-MorroRock--AMP

For You are my rock and my fortress; therefore,
for Your name’s sake, lead me and guide me.
—Psalm 31:3

I’m glad I keep notes on things that greatly impact me because I recently found one about this song. The first time I ever heard or sang “Rock of Ages (Jesus is the Rock)” was when we lived in California years ago. The first time we sang this at church, I was greatly moved. The lyrics are simple yet very powerful:

There is no rock
There is no god like our God
No other name worthy of all our praise
The Rock of Salvation that cannot be moved
He’s moving Himself to be faithful and true
There is no rock
There is no God like ours.

It wasn’t the first time (nor the last) that we have worshiped the Lord with this song. Each time I sing it, the words never fail to make my eyes leak. Imagine being someone who is “faithful and true” and who “cannot be moved”! Of course my eyes leak! Although it is hard to keep singing through the tears, I continued to sing in my heart and mind.

I suspect there are many of us who are very susceptible to our emotions. Some days, in the midst of the storms in our lives, we feel confident that God is holding our hand to guide us through it. On other days, we may despair that He’s even there. Maybe He’s forgotten about us because, after all, He has so many of us to look after.

Beloved, God is always with us, no matter what! His love for us is so vast and constant, completely unchanging—unlike our own inconsistent emotions. We have the confidence of knowing this to be true because He tells us over and over again in His Word how much He loves and cares for us. It’s the one thing in this ever-changing world we can always count on!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I can’t number how many times I’ve almost given up on You and instead tried to do things in my own strength. But You have this way of reminding me of Your immense love for me, and sometimes a little nudge is from You is all I need to get me back on the right track. Thank you for being my Rock, the One Who will always be there for me, no matter what.

If for any reason you cannot view this video, please go here for the lyrics.

P.S. Some of you native Californians or those who have lived at or visited California’s central coast will recognize that the top photo is of Morro Rock. Rick and I spent many special times camping in Morro Bay and along that section of the coast. 

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Suffering According to God’s Will [Joni ​Eareckson Tada repost]

HospitalSick-Joni ​Eareckson Tada-sm--AMP

Suffering According to God’s Will

​by Joni Eareckson Tada

“So then, those who suffer according to God’s will
should commit themselves to their faithful Creator
and continue to do good.” 

—1 Peter 4:19

​All suffering is within God’s sovereign will. There is not a sparrow that falls without His knowledge or a soul lost for eternity without His tearful purpose being accomplished. In the midst of the expanse of the sovereign will of God is one kind of suffering initiated by us that God not only allows but rewards.​

There are many ways to suffer in this world, where things happen to us. But the kind of suffering referred to by Peter is suffering we experience by choice, through obedience. Such obedience may result in mockery, beatings, discrimination, trials, and temptations. It’s the price one pays for having our bodies in the world and our spirits in the kingdom. Like being on a rack, we can’t escape the torture.

My wheelchair is a suffering that came from the sovereign purpose of the glory of God. And since that time twenty-five years ago, I’ve also suffered things that have come upon my spirit as a result of being in the kingdom. I have chosen to flee temptation, to drag my body from church to hospital, to endure the scorn of those who don’t know God. And I have suffered as a result. Such is the will of God for my life.

​The common suffering He comforts. The godly suffering He rewards. Exchange neither for anything. We can “entrust our souls to a faithful Creator.”

​_____________________________________

Lord, grant me strength to endure the common sufferings of life and the willful sufferings of Your kingdom. In all these, may Your presence sustain me and Your glory be made known.

Taken from Diamonds in the Dust.  Copyright © 1993 by Joni Eareckson Tada.  Used by permission.  Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

http://www.joniandfriends.org/

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Never Doubt…

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Never doubt in the dark
what God told you in the light. 

—V. Raymond Edman

 

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Where Are You, Lord? [MustardSeedKingdom repost]

 Here is another devotional in keeping with Part 2 of my Habakkuk series . 
This one is from the Mustard Seed Kingdom blog, from their “Advent Reflection” series.

 Hab2-3-BlueSkyClouds2sm

Advent Reflection 11: Where are you, Lord?

11 December 2012 by cfg

How long, O LORD, will I call for help, and You will not hear?
I cry out to You, “Violence!” yet You do not save. 

(Hab 1.2)

 

Today’s passage is Habakkuk 2.1-4, but to make sense of it, it’s worth looking back at chapter 1.

In chapter 1 the prophet’s cry is one that we often hear today: how can you let this happen, God? We see destruction and violence and wickedness all around – where are you, Lord? The law is ignored and justice is perverted – how can you let this continue?

At the beginning of chapter 2 we have an answer, of a sort. What do you think of the Lord’s reply?

When I read these words I’m reminded that so often the Lord’s reply to me is the same: trust me. ‘Things are moving, I’m not delaying or lying to you… trust me.’ Verse 4 contains those famous words “the righteous (one) will live by his faith”, and what strikes me is how true this is. We do live by faith, and in faith, that the Lord is coming, that he will put things to right. Though the world is often dark and violent and God is invisible, often mysterious, and frequently elusive in his replies to important questions, we have to trust him… the alternative is to put our faith in empty, powerless idols (look ahead to Hab 2.18-20).  We don’t build statues today, but we’re good at putting our trust in money, or politics, a job, or even our family. But let’s make that choice to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith…” (Heb 12.2)

One of the books that’s been most helpful to me on the question of faith is Philip Yancey‘s ‘Reaching for the Invisible God‘ (you can read Chapter 3: Room for Doubt and Chapter 4: Faith Under Fire online for free), his personal and insightful exploration of the challenges of relating to – and trusting in – an invisible God. I also highly recommend John Ortberg’s ‘Faith and Doubt‘, which is one of the wisest books I’ve read on this – or any – topic.

If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. (Hab 2.3)

http://mustardseedkingdom.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/advent-reflection-11-where-are-you-lord/

 

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Mustard Seed Faith

MustardSeedFaith

 

As long as we have unsolved problems,
unfilled desires, and a mustard seed of faith,
we have all we need for a vibrant prayer life. 

—John Ortberg

Must…..

Mustard seed faith is sometimes a difficult concept but one that is very important to understand. The mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds found in the Middle East, but that smallest of seeds grows into one of the largest of plants. Jesus therefore used this illustration several times to show us that even the tiniest grain of true faith can do very great things.

And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”

Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”

So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

—Matthew 17:14-21

We see here the central need of faith, without which nothing can happen. When Jesus spoke about removing mountains he was using a phrase which the Jews knew well. A great teacher, who could really expound and interpret scripture and who could explain and resolve difficulties, was regularly known as an uprooter, or even a pulverizer, of mountains. To tear up, to uproot, to pulverize mountains were all regular phrases for removing difficulties. Jesus never meant this to be taken physically and literally. After all, the ordinary man seldom finds any necessity to remove a physical mountain. What he meant was: “If you have faith enough, all difficulties can be solved, and even the hardest task can be accomplished.” Faith in God is the instrument which enables men to remove the hills of difficulty which block their path. —William Barclay (1)

Beloved, having and holding onto true faith is difficult in hard circumstances, but it is possible. In our own physical strength we cannot move mountains. We can’t make something from nothing. We cannot by ourselves change someone’s heart and mind about something. These are under God’s care and control.

What it does mean is that if we rely on the fact that God knows what is best for us, we can rest on the assurance that His ways and means are perfect. And if we believe—have true faith—in that fact, we will be able to pray with a faith that will steadily grow.

Just like that tiny mustard seed.

We will then understand that what we may regard as unanswered prayers are actually part of God’s grand design to mold us into becoming who He wants us to be—completely and absolutely trusting that His ways are best.

…..

(1) Barclay, William. “Commentary on Matthew 17:1“. “William Barclay’s Daily Study Bible”. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/view.cgi?bk=39&ch=17 . 1956-1959.

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The God of Hope

 

Rom15-13--Hope(2)--AMP

Now may the God of hope fill you
with all joy and peace in believing,

so that you will abound in hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

—Romans 15:13

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Good Times and Bad Times

FollowTheLines--AMP

 Consider what God has done:

Who can straighten what he has made crooked?
When times are good, be happy;
but when times are bad, consider:
God has made the one as well as the other.
Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future.
—Ecclesiastes 7:13-14

I am blessed with naturally curly hair. The fact that I can call this a blessing shows how far I’ve come in my perception of what God has given me. Since I was about 12 years old, I have hated my curly hair and have spent tons of time, money, and energy on various methods to try to straighten these curly locks. But no matter what I do, my hair eventually ends up curly anyway. Often it even gets frizzy. I guess I’ve finally come to the realization that God made me this way because He likes me like this, so why fight it?

This is a photo of me taken probably four or five years ago. This is a good example of my curly-frizzy look. No matter what I do—or don’t do—my curls frizz up!

AnnaCurlyFrizzy

 

“Who can straighten what he has made crooked?”

I don’t want to make light of God’s Word but the moment I read this verse it made me think of my curly hair. It reminds me how we humans often seem to think that what we don’t have is better than what we do have.

Take my curly hair for example. Recently a sales clerk commented: “I love your hair! Is it naturally curly?”

“Thanks, yes it is,” I replied, then laughed. “I was going to tell you how much I like your straight hair.”

Num11-4-6--IfOnly--AMP

That sales clerk and I both shared a good chuckle over this, but I thought afterward how true this is in our lives. All those if only’s come into play:

  • If only I wasn’t burdened with these illnesses . . .
  • If only I was younger . . .
  • If only I had more time . . .
  • If only I had a better computer . . .
  • If only I had more money . . .
  • If only . . .

Wow, it is so easy to get caught up in the if only’s of life! Look at how the Israelites responded to how God answered their prayers for food as they wandered in the desert:

The rabble with them began to crave other food,
and again the Israelites started wailing and said,
“If only we had meat to eat!

We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—
also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.

But now we have lost our appetite;
we never see anything but this manna!” 

—Numbers 11:4-6

Is this no different that how we usually react?

God has provided both good and bad for us for a basic reason: if we had only good things and good times, we would eventually become so used to it that the good would become mundane. How about taking some of those bad things and stacking them up against the good things in our lives? When I do that, I find that the good side of my list greatly outweighs the bad side because at the top of my good list is my relationship with my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

That fact alone outshines anything bad that could be happening to me at any time in my life.

How about you, Beloved? Are you so blinded by the bad things in your life that you find your view of God jaded and possibly fading? Well, I’m here to remind you that He loves you with an everlasting love that will never dim or fade. He loves us enough to allow those bad times so that we can grow closer to Him through those circumstances.

That is the desire of His heart.

Please join me in prayer:

Abba Father, we love You. When we seem ungrateful at times, please help us remember that You always know what is best for us. If the situation seems bad to us it is not that way to You because You allow difficult times in our lives to draw us closer to You so that You can mold us into the people You want us to be. Help us to see that although these pruning times are not easy, You are ever with us to guide us in the way of Your Truth. Thank You for being our Abba Father. Amen.

…..

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Happy First Day of Autumn!

James5-7-8--AutumnLake-AMP

Brothers and sisters,
be patient until the Lord comes again.
A farmer patiently waits for his valuable crop
to grow from the earth and for it to receive
the autumn and spring rains.

You, too, must be patient.
Do not give up hope,
because the Lord is coming soon.
—James 5:7-8

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Creator…Redeemer…the One

Creator-Redeemer-theOne

He is preeminent in creation because He is the Creator.

He is preeminent in redemption for He is the Redeemer.

He is preeminent in the church because He is
the One who gave Himself for the church.

—J. Vernon McGee

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The Ultimate Relationship [David Jeremiah repost]

Here is another excellent devotional in keeping with Part 2 of my Habakkuk series.
This one is by David Jeremiah.

Hab2-19--WoodAndStones

The Ultimate Relationship

Woe to him who says to wood, “Awake!”
To silent stone, “Arise! It shall teach!”
Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver,
yet in it there is no breath at all.
Habakkuk 2:19

To the modern, Western mind, trained in logic and rational thinking, nothing seems as illogical or irrational as some of the practices of people in the ancient Near East: Create an image out of wood or stone, then treat the image as if it was a living, breathing being — a god with whom the worshipper can relate. 

Educated people don’t do that today because we know that inanimate objects can’t be animated just because we want them to be. We know that a true relationship requires two sentient beings, at the very least. Even our family pet has more life than a stone idol. Relating to a pet or person is better than trying to relate to wood or stone, but it still leaves us wanting more. It is only when we enter into the relationship for which God created us — a personal, intimate relationship with Himself — that our hunger for knowing and being known can be satisfied.

If you are seeking the ultimate relationship in life, don’t seek it in things that cannot respond and relate in the way you are meant to. Seek it in the One who said He is the life (John 14:6). 

Man, made in the image of God, has a purpose
— to be in relationship to God, who is there.
Francis Schaeffer

Read-Thru-the-Bible
2 Samuel 4-7

Please visit DavidJeremiah.org. for many great resources.

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