“I didn’t want it anyway!”

Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55.22

Everyone I know has had a burden too heavy to carry sometime during his or her life. It doesn’t matter what it is, it is a burden we were never intended to carry on our own. Our verse for today speaks to this very issue. God says, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord … ” There are no conditions, no words of caution, or prohibitions.

Peter gives similar advice in 1 Peter 5.7: “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” It should be clear to us then that God does not intend for us to carry burdens. To insist on doing so is an act of defiance toward God that says, “God doesn’t want this. He can’t fix what is wrong. Why bother?” We need to be careful trying to define what God can and cannot do in our lives.

What will happen when we DO cast our burdens on the Lord? The psalmist states clearly and unequivocally: “he shall SUSTAIN thee …” The word sustain means: “To cause to continue or be prolonged for an extended period or without interruption.” God intends for us to live life with an ongoing zest that we cannot do when we are burdened down.

What does it mean when the psalmist says: “he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”? I believe the psalmist is saying that once we commit our burden to the Lord, He will see to it that we stay on the path of righteous living and not be moved away from what we know is right. When our focus is right, then our next step is right. When our next step is right, then our path remains true to what God wants for us and that is His very best. I must never stop believing that God the Father always has my best interests at heart. Just my thoughts …


Forgive? Really?

Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. 25And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” Mark 11.24-26

Jesus has made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem and He is teaching His followers some last minute truths. The topic is “prayer” and how to get answers to our prayers. It would be easy enough to scan through Jesus’ words and conclude, “I can ask what I want and He will give it to me.” V. 24 seems to give us a magic formula for answered prayer.

However, vs. 25-26 give us a little different picture. Look at this phrase: “ … if ye have ought against any …” Can you look deeply into your heart and say, without hesitation, that you don’t “have ought against any”? If that is an honest assessment, then you have already forgiven those who offended you.

Many of God’s children struggle at this point in their lives. But if we are serious about answered prayer, we will give heed to Jesus’ words here. We are not to forgive others so we can feel good about it or so they are “off the hook” with you. We are to forgive others because that is one key to answered prayer.

It seems clear that in order to have answered prayer, we must have faith: “when ye pray, believe that ye receive them”; and we must be willing to forgive. Anything short of these two criteria will short-circuit the answers to our prayers.

I like to keep short accounts with God. I don’t want to let things “stack up” between us. So I try to clear the slate often. It would be good if we could all do the things mentioned in these verses and keep “short accounts” with God. Just my thoughts …

Yes He Is. He Really Is!

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. 2 My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121.1-2

It is really difficult to not include all the verses of this wonderful Psalm. Consider this simple truth that the psalmist declares: “My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.” Let that soak in for a moment. The same God who made heaven and earth is available to us to help with whatever we need.

You may be thinking, “He doesn’t have time for me. I am nobody. Besides that, I am facing an impossible situation.” Ever felt that way? Maybe you feel that way right now. I have good news for you. He DOES have time for you. Jesus died for every NOBODY who ever lived. Compared to Jesus, we are ALL nobodies.

Let’s talk about “impossible situations.” Genesis 1.2: “the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” THAT was an impossible situation, but God could handle it. He simply said, “Let there be light, and there was light.” Nine (9) times in 31 verses we read, “And God said …” and every time that which followed took care of another “impossible” situation.

I want us to look at the remainder of this Psalm:

3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The LORD is thy keeper:

   the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.

6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

7 The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

8 The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and

even for evermore.

So, what is God saying in all of this? “Your help (whatever you need) comes from me. Just ask.” Think about it. Just my thoughts …

Till the Whole World Knows!

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10.9-10

This message is not only life changing, it is world changing. I wonder how many of us realize that there are parts of the world where this message has never been heard. I have always been in a church where missions has been one of the main thrusts of their ministry.

The gospel-preaching missionaries who are scattered around the globe are doing their part to reach as many as they can, but there are not enough people going to reach the whole world. There are parts of this world where the inhabitants do not even know that God has a Son, let alone that He died to save them.

How important is this message to YOU? If God asked you to go to some far-flung part of the world where the gospel has never been heard, would you? If you are part of a church that emphasizes missions with a Mission Conference each year and missionaries reporting to the church on a regular basis, are you giving regularly to missions? If your church uses Faith Promise Mission Giving as its way of generating funds for worldwide missions, are you part of that crowd that makes a commitment each year and gives regularly to Faith Promise Missions?

One of the things I hear every missionary say is that they need our prayers more than our money. It takes money to go, but it takes prayer to stay. Take a look at your prayer list. How many missionaries are on it? Would you make a covenant with God today that you are willing to do whatever He wants you to do regarding worldwide missions? That may be going, that may be giving, and it will surely be praying! Just my thoughts …

Do You Know This? The Lord is Faithful!

But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.” 2 Thessalonians 3.3

What a powerful first phrase in this verse: “ … the Lord is faithful … ” Have you ever thought about that truth … really thought about it? Aren’t we glad that God’s faithfulness to us is not based on our faithfulness to Him?

What does it mean, “the Lord is faithful”? (1) He does not abandon us just because we turn away from Him. (2) His love for us is not based on our performance for Him but on His choice to love us. (3) As the verse above says, He “shall stablish you …” He wants far more for us that we can ever imagine. He wants us to be rooted and grounded in His Word. If we aren’t, it is our fault and not His. (4) He wants to “keep (us) from evil.” Sometimes we act like we don’t want to be kept from evil. But God’s purpose is to do that for us when we allow Him to do it.

Consider for just a brief moment the fact that God IS faithful to us, and that He wants to ESTABLISH us firmly in His truth, and that He wants to keep us from evil. Do we RECOGNIZE God’s faithfulness when we see it at work? Do we listen carefully when God wants to LEAD US in a path that will place our feet firmly on the solid ground of truth? When the Holy Spirit prompts us to turn away from evil, do we do so WILLINGLY or are we hesitant to obey the Spirit’s prompting.

Job 1.1 tells us this: “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed (turned away from) evil.” The story that follows in the book of Job is heart breaking but Job still proclaimed, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him … ” (Job 13.15a) He knew God will still with Him and though he did not understand his circumstances, He knew God was faithful. May we come to understand that in a very personal way today. Just my thoughts …

Be Careful What You Say!

Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” Proverbs 16.24

WORDS – we all use them everyday. Some use them well and some use them crudely and are offensive to many around them. As followers of Christ, we want to be certain that we build bridges to reach those who are unsaved rather than putting up a wall that shuts them out.

Isn’t it interesting that Solomon conveys two concepts and one result in this verse? Words should be (1) pleasant and (2) sweet. The result is health to the bones. Pleasant words may or may not come easily to all of us, but in order for us to speak pleasant words, we need to think about them before we speak. I have heard people say about someone who has just said something that was “not pleasant”, “That’s just the way he/she is.” I assume they mean we are to just take it” from them. As believers we represent the kingdom of God and need to speak in a manner that reinforces that.

When you think about a honeycomb, if you hold it up, the honey just oozes out. You don’t have to force it. That is a pretty good picture to describe our words.

Then we are told that words are “sweet to the soul …” The soul and spirit are the part of me that makes heart decisions – whether good or bad. When someone speaks to me with “sweet” words, they positively affect my soul. That is a good thing. I want to be able to do the same for those who are listening to me.

Finally, Solomon says that pleasant words are “health to the bones.” “How so,” you ask. I believe when people are treated with respect, they feel better about themselves and consequently there is less stress on their body. I had a teacher in high school who said frequently, “You can draw more flies with honey that you can with vinegar.” If it is my goal to reach out to a lost world, I want to come across to them as “honey” and not “vinegar.” Think about it. Just my thoughts …

No One Else Was There!

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Genesis 1.1-2

Every time I read these verses, I remember afresh that the Bible begins with a major assumption. That assumption is that there is a God. There is no attempt to try and explain the existence of God. Nor does the Bible attempt to explain how God became God in the first place.

The opening phrase demonstrates to us that only God could create “the heaven and the earth.” Why? There is no other Supreme Power that exists to do what God did. It was by the power of His voice that God said, “Let there be light: and there was light” and “there was light.

I always find it amusing when people try to explain the age of the earth based on their human calculations. Recently my wife and I toured the Ohio Cavern in West Liberty OH. The guide was telling us that based on how long it takes to form a stalagmite or a stalactite, the earth is millions of years old. After all, as they observe the formation of them today, it takes so many years for one to form.

When Adam was created, was he created as an infant or was he created with the appearance of age? If he were an infant, he could never have done the things that God left him to do in the Garden of Eden. Rather, he was born with the appearance of age. After he had been created for 30 minutes, he certainly could have appeared to be 30 years old.

So rather than be rattled by the common assumption that we got here by evolution, I find that it takes far less faith to believe that “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” I choose to accept God’s version rather than today’s politically correct belief that we evolved. After all, none of us were there to observe what actually happened. So, by faith I believe that “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” These are just my thoughts …

Go Ahead – Ask!

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:” Matthew 7.7

We find this verse tucked somewhere in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount. Chapter 5.1 tells that Jesus’ disciples came to Him, and He begins a rather lengthy dialogue with them about how to live.

In the midst of others principles for living He utters this verse. We all immediately recognize three key words: (1) ask, (2) seek, and (3) knock. In the arena of “asking” I believe we are called upon to be living in such a manner that we want for ourselves what God wants for us. That being said, we certainly want to know His will when we are asking.

When it comes to seeking, would you agree that God wants us in His Word on a regular basis so that the things for which we are seeking are things He wants us to find. I have heard so many Christians say something like: “If God would just show me His will, I would do it.” God is not going to show us anything OUTSIDE His Word until we have obeyed all we know that is revealed INSIDE His Word. When we read God’s Word, the Holy Spirit is able to teach us what our net step needs to be. This is just my belief, but I think God wants us to read His Word in some systematic fashion, so that we eventually have read all of it and have begun to obey those things He has told us to do.

Finally, this word “knock” carries a lot of weight. Have you noticed that there is a difference between “knocking” on a door and “forcing” a door open? We have watched enough programs on TV to know how the police open a door that is locked and the person refuses to open it.

Consider this principle … when God opens a door, He intends for us to go through it. If He doesn’t open it and we force a door open, what we find on the other side may APPEAR to be just exactly what we wanted, but it will prove to be something other than God’s Best for us. Just my thoughts …

We Are Blessed Indeed!

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” Psalm 32.8

In verses 1-7 David has been rehearsing the blessedness of his life when he is I fellowship with God. Look at vs. 1-2: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.” David was indeed blessed because his transgression is forgiven. David is blessed because his iniquity has not been credited to his account, but rather his sin is covered. David, along with the Old Testament saints, was looking forward to the cross and the work that the coming Messiah would do with regard to sin. Today you and I are looking back to the cross and the work that Messiah has already done regarding our sin. He has paid for it and His blood has covered it.

Here in v. 7 the scene changes and we read the words that God is speaking to David (and to us). I don’t know how many times I have mentioned the simple truth that God wants to show us “the next step” in our walk with Him, not the entire journey. Here He says to David: (1) I will instruct thee, (2) I will teach thee, and (3) I will guide thee. In these three simple phrases we find the perfect pattern for success in our walk with God. God’s instructions are found in His Word. This is the only reference source we need. Instruction is the “what” that God wants us to know. Teaching is the “how” to do what God has told us He wants us to do. Guidance says, “turn here” or “don’t go there” or perhaps “wait until I tell you when.”

David needed all three of these phrases to keep him in the path God wanted. Guess what? We need them too! How blessed we are to have our transgressions are forgiven and our sins are covered. Just me thoughts …

“Take no thought …”

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” Matthew 6.25

The things Jesus talks about here are what we would call “life essentials.” We need food and drink and something with which to clothe our bodies. V. 26 brings these thoughts into sharp contrast with how God provides for the animals. Let’s look: “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” If He provides for them as their Creator, will He not provide for us as our Redeemer?

We know the answer is “yes” but we still are prone to worry at times. As we continue reading in Matthew 6, we come to v. 33: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” I believe God is calling us away from being overly concerned about the things that seem to occupy our minds each day. He is calling us to something far more important, and that is His kingdom.

If there was no kingdom work for us to do after we are saved, then why doesn’t He just take us on to heaven and get it over with? I don’t think any of us really believe there is nothing for us to do related to God’s kingdom, but I do think we are intimidated by the prospect of doing something for God in our own strength. He has NEVER asked us to do that. I learned long ago that with God’s calling goes His enabling. That has always been true for me. Are you willing to “Take no thought for your life …” but rather “seek … first the kingdom of God … ”? I pray that each of us will find encouragement in these verses and give Him our best without worry. Just my thoughts …