Sunday, August 21, 2016

What God It Is In Our Times Of Trouble

What God Is To Us In Times Of Trouble
Psalm 46.1

Franklin Graham wrote this week: Today my heart goes out to the people of Milwaukee who are caught in the middle of violence and unrest–the community is being described as a powder keg of volatility. My heart also goes out to the people of Louisiana and Mississippi who are again experiencing devastating flooding and loss. Some may wonder—where is God in all of this? The Bible tells us that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). He promises to be with us through the trials and difficulties we face in this life. 

God's people have their share of trouble on earth, some an overwhelming amount, more than they can handle.

C.S Lewis
Lewis struggled profoundly with despair after the death of his wife, Helen Joy, in 1960, after only three years of marriage.

He wrote:
... Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be — or so it feels — welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?

I tried to put some of these thoughts to C. this afternoon. He reminded me that the same thing seems to have happened to Christ: 'Why hast thou forsaken me?' I know. Does that make it easier to understand?

Marital breakups, death of loved ones, financial pressures illness are all troubling. Breakdown in all kinds of relationships add to this trouble today. More broken hearts today than ever before. Rudy and my conversation yesterday morning.

We are looking this morning at the LORD's help for us in times of trouble. What God is...

1. He is Our Refuge

A shelter from rain or storm, from danger, of falsehood

Our refuge. Our only, impregnable, accessible, delightful place of retreat is our God. Emma and I at Disney, Hall of the Presidents, watching the parade.

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18.10

We are in a spiritual battle today. 
Satan hurls fiery darts at us. These are designed to take us out.
I think the big ones coming our way are discouragement and depression and the feelings of hopelessness. 

Satan is relentless. When a person is down often he heaps more troubling thoughts to their mind. He can get us to imagine some horrible scenarios. If we do not take refuge in the LORD Satan can actually immobilize us. The "What Ifs " of Satan.

At times we need a retreat due to exhaustion. Jesus did that.
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, "Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Mark 6.31 I think we need to listen to this more than we do. We need to find refuge in the LORD in this rapid paced world so we can regroup, have our soul restored and to go on with life.

Our quiet times with Him are a refuge provided by Him where we commune with Him and are seated with Him in heavenly places. How good it is to sit quietly and reflect upon God's goodness in our lives.

When trouble comes and it will  the LORD is our shelter in the storms of life. 

2. Our Strength
As we reenter the battle, come out of retreat, He is our Strength
might, strength
material or physical
personal or social or political

Our strength. Our all sufficient, unconquerable, honourable, and emboldening strength is our God.

The LORD Himself is our strength. He is in us and we are in Him.

Troublesome times can wear us out. The tax our emotions, weigh upon us until we cast our burden upon the LORD.
Psalm 55.22 Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.

This trip to Florida last week reminded me of one I took 6 years ago this month.

In August of 2010, my family in Florida was in shock at the death of Christopher, my cousin Lee's son. Six years ago on that Sunday morning in my cousin, Lori's home, I got up early before we were to leave for church and was reading my Bible and journaling. The day before I was on a Southwest Airline flight out of MacArthur. I had been reading Psalm 50-70 while I waited. These are some of David's psalms of difficulty written while Saul was pursuing him and trying to take his life. I encourage people to read these psalms while going through deep grief. I discovered how much they can help from my own experience.

Suddenly Psalm 55.22 jumped out and grabbed my heart there in MacArthur Airport. That is the verse for my family I thought. I took my journal out the next day, on that Sunday morning and wrote down the verse, "Cast all your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you." I had no sooner written it than Lori my cousin, came out and greeted me with a "Good morning". She picked up what had been our Nana's (Rose Biggs) old Promise Box, full of scriptures,  the Word of God Nana had based her life upon.

Then my cousin Lori began to tell me a story about it.

She showed me how she had one card sticking out of it. She said that during a very difficult night in her life, she could not sleep, so she got up to clean. She was dusting and she accidentally knocked Nana's Promise box off. It fell on the floor and one card flew out. She showed it to me. It was Psalm 55.22 and I Peter 5.7. I showed my journal in which I had just written out Psalm 55.22 and how the day before as I began my trek to Florida the LORD had given this to me for my family there. And suddenly we realized we in the Presence of God and HE was speaking to us from His Word and our Nana's life.. We prayed, thanking God for the wonderful gift of our heritage. Our Nana had gone to heaven 22 years ago but the influence of her life lived on and the LORD was showing us that and that those promises were as true today as the day He gave them and the day our Nana read them and the night that card popped out. Our God is an Awesome God.

In the hospital 2 weeks ago and in my prayers that Sunday Evening for MaryLois and her husband, my cousin, John I reminded everyone of the Christian heritage we have. 

There are times when we find life's situations to be unbearable .Six years ago  I thought of Tiffany, Christopher's fiance. Wedding Invitations all sent out and now he is gone and what was to be three weeks of wonderful expectation has become difficult beyond description. Horatio Spafford and Joseph Scriven knew about this. They wrote, It is Well With My Soul and What a Friend We Have in Jesus. Scriven's fiance drowned the night before they were to be married. Spafford's entire family went down on a ship in the Atlantic. He went back to that place and wrote, "It Is Well With My Soul". We sang those hymns on the way to see MaryLois in the hospital 2 weeks ago this evening. God took her home that Friday but not before we had a wonderful time of talking about heaven. God was her guide right up to the end.

After 20 years of marriage my cousin's wife was taken from him up to heaven. In our losses when all is weakness within He is our Strength! He will be that for my cousin, for me, for you today.

He gave strength to those hymn writers in the most troubling days they could have ever imagined. He is with us1

He is an
3. A Ever Present Help In Times of Trouble

Exceeding Abundant

Trouble= straits, distress, vexer, rival wife

Paul wrote to the Corinthians in II Corinthians 1.1-9a
 8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves... in our hearts we felt the sentence of death!

In this world you will have trouble!

He has overcome the world.
He never deserts his people in their time of distress. We may ask, "Why?" We may feel ( and that is an important term) like He has forsaken us but He never will.

Paul continued, II Corinthians 1.9-11 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God Who raises the dead, 10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in Whom we trust that He will still deliver us, 

A dear friend who has been severely tested wrote this week: I would never know God the way I do without having been in the the where I have been closest to Him.

"He is found an exceeding, or superlative, help in difficulties."  AC

Our help. Ever near, sympathising, faithful, real, and powerful ruler is our God.

There will be times in our lives where we feel like we are going to die, we cannot go on. Then God comes and raises us up. He delivers us!

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Have I Got News For You!

Have I Got News For You!

John 14.1-3

Surprising News... the announcement of a new baby coming... 

News of a visit from a dear relative or friend.

News of a windfall or inheritance.

 Jesus had ministered for 3 1/2 years with these men. They had watched Him perform miracles, preach the Good News and just this week allow His followers to proclaim Him Mashiach, the Hebrew word for Messiah. They were waiting for Him to restore the Kingdom to Israel.

This evening nationalistic feelings (which were hard to distinguish from spiritual feelings) were running very high. They had just celebrated an age old rite of their people, the Passover. It was a celebration of their independence from Egypt, well much more than that- their deliverance from Egyptian slavery. This Passover was different, very different. They had heard things they never had heard, words like the ones the Master spoke that night while they ate. 

All of a sudden Jesus began to talk about things that shook them up, about being betrayed, about them all leaving Him, about the days ahead. They were hit with news that night about their LORD that deeply troubled them.

This news Jesus gave was...

1. Sad News
I am going away. (John 16.5-6)

The thought of Jesus leaving them brought pain and sorrow to the hearts of the disciples. 
Verse Six describes grief that is filled to the brim. Overwhelming.

How could He leave when all was going so well and they were ready for Him to establish the Kingdom in Jerusalem? Where was He going? What was this about?

I think the big thing here was that they just loved hanging  out with Jesus much like we do. My friend Kim's comment: "I could sit here all day and enjoy the beauty God has created."

One of my favorite things is hanging out with the LORD. I love time alone with Him. It is the best part of my day. I also love hanging out with Christian friends. 

They were already missing Him!... and He had not left.

It was going to get worse. He was not just leaving. He was going to die.

Worse yet! He was going to die a horrible death at the hands of His own people and the Romans!

The questions they had that were not satisfactorily answered.  They had more questions as they talked. None of them were feeling peaceful, rather troubled. 

When we receive sad news, heartbreaking news we ask, "Why?" It is certainly okay to ask that. David did, Jesus as well. But seldom if ever do we get answer from God. People come up with answers that are far from being satisfactory. 
We need to listen to Jesus!

2. Glad News
I am coming back. John 14.3

He didn't say when.

If we have the assurance of seeing someone we love information of details is not necessary. I think of Mothers and Fathers who have sent sons and daughters to war, to defend our country.

I think of  the missionaries who have gone overseas over the centuries and have not known when they will return. In the days before mass communication months would go by without loved ones hearing from them.

But these waited in hope. They waited for news. Letters or telegraphs would arrive telling of their return. What wonderful news!

Part of the glad tidings of the Gospel was that Jesus would come again.

The Good News today included in the LORD's Supper and God's Word, the Bible is that Jesus is returning one day soon.

This Hope does things for us.

1. It encourages us  to continue.
If we know He is coming then we are motivated to go on. We will be on our watch. 

Mark 13.32 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. 34 It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. 35 Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— 36 lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”

2. It has a purifying effect on the church.
 on us!

I John 3. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

3. It prevents us from quitting.
When are tempted to "get away from it all" or throw in the towel when we think of Christ's return we look up, we go on, we keep running the race.

Hebrews 12.12 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

4. It gives us a sense of urgency.
John 9.4 The night is coming when no man can work

3. Bad News
Those who do not know Him Sheep and Goats
Separation from God.
Outer Utter Darkness 

Paul tells us that they live for themselves
Their god is their stomachs.

As Christians 
How do we live?

I Thessalonians 4.18-5.11
Watching and Waiting
Witnessing and Praying

Ready To Go in the Twinkling of an Eye!

Revelation 21.21 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John,[a] saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Living In The Overflow of God's Love

Living In The Love of God

Psalm 36.5 Your love, O LORD reaches to the heavens,
    Your faithfulness to the skies.
6 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
    Your justice like the great deep.
    You, O LORD, preserve both people and animals.
7 How priceless is Your unfailing love, O God!
    People take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
8 They feast on the abundance of Your house;
    You give them drink from Your river of delights.
9 For with You is the fountain of life;
    in Your light we see light.

God is love. He has told that in a number of places in His Word. 
God loves you. The Apostle John, also called the Apostle whom Jesus loved and the Apostle of Love wrote, "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them."
I John 4.16

We can live in the love of God.  It is the only place to live!

1. His Love is Greater Than We Can Imagine- v.5

Paul prayed that we may know the unknowable.
Ephesians 3.17a And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

We can experience this love that is beyond our ability to comprehend.  
I believe that is to be a significant portion of our experience/ relationship with God: experiencing things we cannot comprehend. We are to grow  in the knowledge of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ but there are also things many things we will not understand until we see Him Face to face.
This is in difficult things and in blessings. 

We have talked much about trials and how we seldom understand why.

How about His blessings? There are many which we don't understand.
Grace- we can define it but as we experience it we really don't understand.
Numerous blessings- the extent to which God blesses us is often beyond our ability to understand.

When it comes to Him loving us Andre Crouch's song says it well, "I don't know why Jesus loved me, I don't know why He cared..." I really don't!

God's love for us is huge.

It reaches to the heavens.
Psalm 57.10 For Your lovingkindness is great to the heavens And Your truth to the clouds.

Psalm 89:2
For I have said, "Lovingkindness will be built up forever; In the heavens You will establish Your faithfulness."

Psalm 103:11
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.

Psalm 108:4
For Your lovingkindness is great above the heavens, And Your truth reaches to the skies.

Living in His Love means many things happening in our lives we do not understand! It is beyond measure.

2. He Cares About People And Animals

He feeds the birds. Matthew 6.26
"Your Heavenly Father feeds them."

He was concerned about the animals in Ninevah.
Jonah 4.11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

Proverbs 12.10 A righteous care for the needs of their animals

God's Love For Us:
He gave up His life for us.

He is with us.
Luke 12.22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 

3. His Love is Priceless.
Beyond ability to measure monetarily. 
Some versions have excellent. The Hebrew word literally means valuable, prized, weighty, precious, rare, splendid, costly,  highly valued, precious stones or jewels. It is a term used for appraising precious stones.

Impossible to measure, none like it.

4. Love Never Fails
People take refuge in the shadow of Your wings
I Corinthians 13.8
Put Jesus' Name in
Put your name in place of love, how far can you get?

5. Refuge, Feasting, Drinking, Living in Light are all gifts of His Love.

We experience life. Living In the love of God.
He is our refuge.
We feast on His goodness, and drink from the rivers of life.
We live in His light.

Live in the Love of God always. Remain in His love.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Living In The Overflow Of God's Blessings

Living In The Overflow Of God's Blessings

Psalm 31.19 How abundant are the good things
    that You have stored up for those who fear You,
that You bestow in the sight of all,
    on those who take refuge in You.

God has stored up an abundance of wonderful things for those who respect and worship Him from their hearts. Those who are under His protection are the recipients of these good things. If we worship Him privately He will reward us publicly. (Matthew 6) He takes care of His children.

God is wanting to do more than you can imagine in your life. I believe many live a lot less fruitful lives than He desires for us.

We can live in the overflow of His blessings. Life can be a crescendo of glory, The way can keep on getting brighter if we fix our eyes upon Him.

1. The Abundance of God.

to be or become many, be or become much, be or become great
10 Thousands
Good things= property, prosperity, goodness (of taste, discernment)

The wildflowers of New Hampshire

The wildflowers no one gets to see all over the world.

Water gushing over rocks continually. We turn power off. God keeps it flowing freely.
Sitting under those falls for 15 minutes... I am still loose. Aerated pure water.

The sea, the waters, the land, good land

Sun, moon and stars in their courses above!

Open a cucumber or pepper. See the abundance of seeds. Understand the miracle of seeds and you will understand more about God's work in you. In each pepper there are enough seeds to have a very large garden.

Mark 6.13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? 14 The farmer sows the word.
The seed is the Word of God.

With His Word hidden in your heart you have seeds to share, to spread. Sow seeds, the good seed of the Gospel.

"Oh the joy of knowing the living God, of seeing the living God, of resting on the living God in our very special and particular circumstances! I am but His agent. He will look after His own honor, provide for His own servants and supply our need according to His own riches... " - J Hudson Taylor

God is a God of Abundance.
Abundant Grace
Abundant Seeds
Abundant Power

How abundant...
Large Amount
Question that is answered only as we live by faith.
It is a beautiful thing

2. The Good Things

Good=to be good, be pleasing, be joyful, be beneficial, be pleasant, be favorable, be happy, be right

He knows exactly what I need

Stored up
to hide, treasure, treasure or store up, treasure up
to lie hidden, lurk
to  hide from discovery- only those who trust Him/ fear Him find out
If you want to know step out in faith and watch God work.

Psalm 146.6 He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
    the sea, and everything in them—
    He remains faithful forever.

His Grace, mercy and love
Forgiveness, pardon
None of these things and more do we deserve. He abundantly blesses us with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Ephesians 1.3)

The LORD has reserves which are  infinitely beyond our imaginations and our dreams. He has ways of working we have not even thought about. He is a supernatural God!

I love to give my grandkids surprises. We are often surprised by Him as He blesses us.

Garden surprises- finding a new plant (periwinkle) that you did not plant
Finding fruit on something you were not expecting (Korean Eggplant this week)

The rewards of the righteous:

It makes us thankful
It builds our confidence

3. Fear the LORD

Psalm 147.11 the LORD delights in those who fear Him,
    who put their hope in His unfailing love.

Fear (reverence and awe and respect) that is life long.

Part of this is I believe trusting in Him and not in ourselves, not even looking to where the provisions may come from but continually looking to Him.

 Psalm 123.1 I lift up my eyes to you,
    to You Who sit enthroned in heaven.
2 As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master,
    as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the LORD our God,
    till He shows us his mercy.

It is not easy to keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus because there are so many distractions.

People, even other Christians
If I want him to remain alive until I come back what is that to you?

World and National Problems

Bitterness and Unforgiveness

As long as I think I can figure out how to meet my needs out I am not looking to Him. Surrender to Him is being aware that He gave you the abilities to make money and do things. 

The proud in heart miss out on the blessings of God, the good things He has.

4. Take Refuge in Him

 flee for protection
to put trust in God
confide or hope in God

We cannot live in the overflow of God's blessings unless we are taking refuge in Him.

Let's live in the overflow, the waterfalls if you will, of God's good blessings!