When Life is Dark and Heaven is Quiet

Posted byBryan LowePosted inbelieverdarknessdiscipleshipencouragementfollowing JesusGodlife lessonsSatantheologyunderstandingTags:discipleshipGodJesuspromisestestingtrialsunderstanding

God’s people have always had to wrestle with the things from the dark.  As believers, the Bible tells us that we’re in a permanent state of war against Satan. There has never been an armistice or treaty signed to my knowledge.  Each one of us is on the front lines.  The devil has been practicing with a deadly form of “spiritual terrorism.”  And he terrorizes many with his posturing and manipulation.

Life can get quite dark, and desperately bleak. No one needs to educate us about the dark nightmare that is now active. Over a couple of millennia, God’s covenant people have been harmed and harassed.  Enemies are constantly manipulating and twisting God’s Word. As disciples, we’re under steady surveillance by the dragon.

Sometimes heaven is silent. But I believe it is never, ever disinterested.

But He certainly has not overlooked us.  As we read our Bible, our faith becomes like Teflon.  Nothing can stick to you; even though so much is thrown at us.  When life is really dark or terribly bleak, we can protect ourselves and others. There are times when we can sense nothing.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

We are not theologians, we are just simple disciples.  He knows this.  I believe He simplifies things in order to help us understand. God has little reason to complicate things for us.

I believe that we are “surrounded” by saints of all ages.  They see in us a faith that justifies us.  And I must admit, that helps me.  I am part of a continuum.  I now know that my simple faith must always pass the test of discouragement.

But now the torch is passed, and now you must run with it faithfully and honestly.  And when all is so dark, and things seem far too quiet, I still intend to hold up that torch and carry it all the way to my Father’s house.

“There was a castle called Doubting Castle, the owner whereof was Giant Despair.”

John Bunyan, “Pilgrims Progress”

I don’t know

I feel the most unsettled when I’m uncertain about the future.Many of you are also probably facing circumstances that have left you feeling caught off guard and unsure about what tomorrow holds. So many times I find myself bracing for impact when I check my daily news feed. If there’s one word that seems most certain to describe the times we are living in, it’s “uncertain.”There are thousands of scenarios that evoke these feelings of uncertainty, fear and exhaustion from life not being like you thought it would be.Whatever your situation, you probably feel like you can’t change it, but you still have to live through the realities of what’s happening right now. Sometimes you just have to walk in your “I don’t know.” The Lord makes it clear in His Word that things will not always go as we wish they would in this life. The crucial detail for us to have peace in the middle of everything we face is to stay close to the Lord. We think we want comfort in the “I don’t know” times of life. But comfort isn’t a solution to seek; rather, it’s a byproduct we’ll reap when we stay close to the Lord.I wish I could promise you that everything’s going to turn out like you’re hoping it will. I can’t, of course. But what I can promise you is this: God is close to us even in our “I don’t knows.” God has lessons for us that are crucially important for our future, and we’re learning them in the middle of our “I don’t knows.” God has a strength He must prepare us with, and the training ground is here in the “I don’t know.”This time isn’t a waste, and it’s definitely not pointless when we are walking with God. Let’s cry out to God, declaring that this hard time will be a holy time, a close-to-God time. And let’s choose to believe there is good happening, even in these places. We can rest in the knowledge that wherever God is, good is being worked.-What difficult “I don’t know” season are you walking through today?

Lysa TerKeurst

PROVERBS 31 MINISTRIES

The Power of Broken Prayers

Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, author and co-founder of The Bible Study Club

How do you approach God and people when your faith is small, when you can’t believe and when you wonder if God is even listening?

That’s why I want to encourage you today to pray broken prayers. Consider this passage in Luke:

“While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ And immediately the leprosy left him” (Luke 5:12-13).

There was something about this man that I think you can relate to. He was broken by life because he was a leper. We are not sure how he caught leprosy, but nevertheless he had it and it was a terrible disease. To be a leper in those days was to be an outcast. I will spare you the details of the horror of this disease, but beyond the physical pain and suffering there was the mental pain and suffering because no one wanted to be around you. Lepers were shunned and people thought they were cursed by God and their leprosy was a result of their sin. Some scholars say a leper couldn’t come within six feet of any other Israelite and within 150 feet if there was an east wind blowing (I guess this was the original form of social distancing).

In our story, this leper comes to Jesus. He was sick, probably in pain, and shunned by the outside world. In one word he was broken. In his place of brokenness he cried out to Jesus for help and Jesus responded.

How Does This Apply to You?

There are usually two ways we end up in positions of brokenness or helplessness. In one instance you are doing everything right. You are living right. You are giving right. You are serving. You are following God, obeying his word and doing everything you are supposed to do – and all of a sudden you get hit with life, leading you to a broken place. 

On the flip side, maybe you are doing everything wrong. You’ve made a series of bad decisions and choices and your life feels like it’s falling apart. Everything is breaking down around you and you don’t know what to do. You too are in a broken place. 

You see, it does not matter how you got there, you end up just like the leper. Whether it’s by your own fault or no fault of your own, you are in this place of desperation and brokenness. What do you do?

The Power of the Broken Prayer

What I love about this story is the way the man came to Jesus. He came and threw himself at his feet. He came humble. He came honest and he came broken. He didn’t even pray what would be considered a faith-filled prayer. He said Lord, if you are willing. In essence he was saying I know you can, I just don’t know if you will.

His prayer was not coming from a place of expectation, it was coming from a place of desperation. In other words, he came to Jesus just as he was. Unclean, rejected, desperate, broken and out of this place he cried out to Jesus. He was offering what I would consider a broken prayer, yet this prayer had much power in it.

Lessons from This Broken Prayer

1. Come to Jesus Just the Way You Are 

Too often we make the mistake of thinking we have to come to Jesus with everything right. The same mask we wear into church on Sunday morning we take into prayer and into the presence of God. If I could encourage you with one thing let it be this. Stop thinking you have to always have it all right. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to have your faith right, your worship right, you have to pray the right words and when you do then God will hear you. That is not what God responds to.

You can come to Jesus just as you are, broken and all, with the mask off and pour your heart out to him. Broken prayers aren’t perfect prayers, but they come from a place of humility and honesty and that is exactly what God wants. 

Psalm 51:17 – “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”

2. God Doesn’t Only Respond to Our Faith, He Also Responds to Our Brokenness 

There is something amazing in this story of Luke that if you read too fast you will miss. Before Jesus healed him, he touched him. Remember this was a man who was shunned by society. Who knows how long it had been since someone had touched this man?

Before Jesus addressed his obvious physical need for healing, he addressed the less obvious emotional need to be touched. We already mentioned earlier that this man did not pray a prayer of great faith, yet Jesus responded. This tells me that God not only responds to your faith, he responds to your brokenness as well. Jesus could have healed the man first and then touched him, but he didn’t – he touched him first.

That is why it’s ok to come just as you are. Don’t worry about having everything all neat and buttoned up, God will respond to your broken condition.

3. When You Touch the Heart of God, It Will Move the Hand of God

Luke 5:13b – “’I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ And immediately the leprosy left him.”

I believe the reason why Jesus moved in this man’s situation is because this man touched his heart. When you touch the heart of God, it will move the hand of God. You must also be mindful of something. When you pray broken prayers, sometimes God will change the situation instantly which is what happened here. However sometimes the situation may remain the same, but he will change you instantly. At the place of brokenness, you are laying it all down and asking God to move on your behalf as he sees fit. The beauty of the broken prayer is that you may come to God broken, but you will walk away whole.  

If you are sick you may walk away healed, but even if God doesn’t heal you, walk away whole.

If you are discouraged you will walk away encouraged.

If you come with no faith you walk away believing God to do great things in your life.

If you come with no joy you walk away with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

If you come with no peace you walk away with peace that passes all understanding, even in the midst of brokenness. 

The beauty of the broken prayer is that God takes it, strengthens you and gives you the confidence to know that God is going to bring you through. 

Final Thought

I don’t know what feels hopeless, broken, or desperate in your life today. I do know that if you will pour it out humbly and honestly, God is waiting to touch you, heal you and restore you. You are reminded from Scripture to cast all your cares upon him because he cares for you. The situation you are in today matters, and Jesus is waiting with open arms to touch all the broken places in your life. However, it begins when you take the mask off and begin offering up those broken prayers.

God’s plans give us hope and a future

Jeremiah 29:11-13
New International Version
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Read at Bible Gateway
Read all of Jeremiah 29

NOTHING can separate us from the love of God

New International Version

Romans 8:38-39

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Read at Bible Gateway

Read all of Romans 8

The perils of disapproving God

NOVEMBER 8, 1998

The Perils of Disapproving God


Paul’s teaching about why a society degenerates into unrestrained, debauched, destructive evil is unlike any analysis you would read today. One of the reasons for this is that when a society is sinking into moral decay, one of the traits of that decay is the inability to see what is happening. The social mind becomes so defective in the moral decadence that it doesn’t have the categories or the framework to recognize evil for what it really is.

We do live in such a day. The inability to render sound moral judgments is evident almost wherever you look. Which makes this passage of Scripture one of the most relevant and needed texts in all the Bible for our day — precisely because it seems so foreign. Today, if something doesn’t seem spiritually or morally foreign, it is probably part of the blind and decadent atmosphere we breathe, and therefore of no real use to us, no matter how good it makes us feel.

What we need is a word from outside our defective world and our depraved thinking. We need a word from God. And we may certainly expect such a word to be very strange, because we have become strangers to the reality of God in a very self-absorbed age.

What we have in today’s text is a list of twenty-one ways of sinning or twenty-one kinds of evil. And what I think we should do is notice, first, why Paul gives us this list and where such evil comes from. Then we should look at the list itself and ask why it’s here. Then we should ask what the solution is to these kinds of things.

Why Do We Have to Deal with Evil?

So, first, where do the evils listed in verses Romans 1:29–31 come from? It all started back in verse 18 where Paul gave the reason for why the gospel of the gift of God’s righteousness is so desperately needed. You recall that he said in verse 16 that the gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

“We need the righteousness of God because it is the only thing that can protect us from the wrath of God.”TweetShare on Facebook

Why? Verse 17: “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous shall live by faith.’” In other words: The gospel is the power of God to save believers because in it God gives us what we need and could never produce on our own, namely, his own righteousness. The righteousness that he demands from us he freely gives to us, if we will trust him. This is the great biblical truth of justification by faith.

Then in verse 18, he tells us why this gospel of the gift of God’s righteousness is so desperately needed: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” We need the righteousness of God because it is the only thing that can protect us from the wrath of God. And we need to be protected from the wrath of God because we are unrighteous by nature and suppress the truth of God. By nature we don’t like God and we don’t want him in our lives. I tremble just to say it.

The Effects of Suppressing the Truth of God

So what Paul does in the following verses is describe for us the effects of suppressing the truth of God. He wants us to see all the evil of the world as a river that flows from this spring. Reject God, suppress God, distort God, recreate God in your own image to your own liking, and the effect is worse than we expect. And the thing that is worse than we expect is that God joins our crusade against God, as it were, and delivers us into the debasing effects of our own rebellion against him.

We’ve seen it three times. In verse 23, we exchange the glory of God for images, and verse 24 says, “Therefore God gave them over to the lusts of their hearts.” In verse 25, we exchange the truth about God for a lie, and verse 26 says, “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions.” And today in verse 28 we see it again: “They did not see fit to acknowledge God (or literally: they did not approve to have God in their knowledge), [therefore] God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.”

This is what Paul means by the wrath of God being revealed (verse 18): God’s wrath is being revealed against the world, as human beings all over the world set their affections on other things more than on God. God’s response to this worldwide disloyalty and treason against our Creator is not, first, to send us to hell, but to see that we sink into the swamp we have chosen.

This is what I was referring to at the beginning when I said that Paul’s teaching about why societies often degenerate into unrestrained, debauched, destructive evil is unlike any analysis you would read today. Today you might hear someone say: “Okay, America, you have built your bed of secular, God-belittling relativism and amorality, so now sleep in it.” But that is not what Paul says here.

He says something far more horrifying about God’s wrath. He gives us his analysis of our situation in four steps. Just take verse 28 from today’s text to see all four. First, he says that the root problem is that we don’t like having God in our knowledge. “They did not see fit to acknowledge God.” That is the fundamental problem in the world. That is the essence of the human condition. We don’t want God. We want self-determination and self-exaltation. That was the first sin in the garden. And that is the root of all evil today. We do not want to know God or have him in our lives.

The Depth of our Sin Deserves Divine Judgment

The second step of God’s analysis is that God, in an act of judgment (recall the revealing of “wrath” in verse 18), withdraws his common restraints on our rebellion and gives us over to sink in the swamp we have chosen. This is what you will not hear in any social analysis today. Who today has the God-centered realism to say: The depth of our sin does not just deserve divine judgment, it is divine judgment? That is what Paul says. You can’t really understand America (or any other country) today without this revealed truth. Even if we tried to boast over God that at least we have our self-determination in rebelling against God, God would answer, “You think so? Think again.”

“Wherever we are sinking in sin, it is because we have jumped off the rock of the glory of God.”TweetShare on Facebook

The third step in Paul’s analysis (in verse 28) is that the effect of God’s giving us over and removing his common restraints (see Genesis 20:6) is that we are imprisoned by a “depraved mind.” “God gave them over to a depraved mind.” Our minds become more and more defective in sin. Not only do we use them to sin, but we can’t even think clearly about sin. We can’t recognize it. It’s as if we turned away from God and fell in love with the African black fly that carries the roundworm that causes river blindness, and then God gave us over to the fly and the worm — and the blindness — so that all we can do now is fondle the fly (of sin!) and keep trying to convince ourselves that it’s a precious tuft of velvet.

The fourth step of the analysis (in verse 28) is that our defective mind produces all kinds of evils. Paul goes on to list twenty-one of them as samples. So now we have our answer to the first question, namely, where does such evil come from? It comes from: (1) our desire not to have God in our knowledge; and (2) from God’s judgment on mankind to give us over to sink in the swamp we love; and (3) from the depraved or defective mind that we sink into.

Failure to Love God Breeds Evil

So now we can ask the question: What is this list of evils? What are we to make of this long list and why is it here? Let’s read it again. Verse Romans 1:28–31:

God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful.

Of course, a person could raise an objection against Paul here: This is not the way all unbelievers are. Some are very conscientious, law-abiding, philanthropic, courteous, decent people. Yes, that’s true, and Paul knew it was true. He was quite aware, for example, of the Stoics of his own day — people like Seneca and later, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius, who prided themselves in not being like this list of evils, and yet, who were not Christians.

Downward Spiral

No, the point of this list is not to say that every society that refuses to love the true God will look just like this. We know this because, in verses 26–27, Paul says that homosexual desire is also a result of not loving God above other things, and being handed over by God, and yet Paul clearly does not think that every unbeliever has homosexual desires.

Similarly, here in verse 28–31, when he says that all these sins are the result of refusing to acknowledge God, and he doesn’t mean that every unbeliever, or group of unbelievers, has all these sins or in the same measure. Instead, these are samples. They are the sort of thing that comes from rejecting God, and the more God gives a people up to their own unrestrained depravity, the more their society will have these sins in greater and greater measure.

Sunk in Sin

So what’s the point of listing all these sins? The point, I think, is to give us enough examples to show that virtually every form of evil has to do with God and comes from failing to know him and approve him and love him above all things. In other words, he gives us a sweeping array of evils to awaken us to the fact that the ruin of any area of life is owing to the abandonment of God. Verse 28: they did not want God in their knowledge, therefore . . . and then he gives his list of evils.

In other words, the point of the list is to connect God with every sin in the world. And we’ve seen that the connection is twofold: every sin is rooted in our preferring something else to God; and every sin gets worse as God takes away his restraints and gives us up to sink in the swamp we have chosen.

If America has the highest murder rate in the western world, it has to do with God. If our executives are greedy, it has to do with God. If our politicians are deceitful, it has to do with God. If we gossip about each other behind the back, it has to do with God. If our talk show hosts are insolent and boastful, it has to do with God. If our children are disobedient to parents, it has to do with God. If we are untrustworthy and don’t keep our marriage vows, it has to do with God. If we are blind to obvious wrongs and are unloving and unmerciful, it has to do with God.

That’s the point of this list. Wherever we are sinking in sin, it is because we have jumped off the rock of the glory of God.

How Do We Battle Destructive Evils?

Which brings us finally to the third and last question: What is the solution? How shall we battle back against these destructive evils in our own lives and in our culture? The answer is what the whole book of Romans is about. But let’s close by looking at three great reversals.

  1. We need the reversal of God’s wrath against our unrighteousness.
  2. We need the reversal of God’s handing us over to a depraved mind.
  3. We need the reversal of our mind’s moral decay so that it can be renewed for right and proper use in God’s service.

The good news is that God has provided every one of those reversals. You do not have to sink any further if you will embrace God and his provision. The key verse for the reversal of God’s wrath against us is Romans 1:17: In the gospel of Christ, “the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”

In other words, the righteousness that God demands from us, he freely gives to us, if we will turn back to him and trust him to be our greatest Good. And if you have the righteousness of God, you are not under the wrath of God anymore — a very happy reversal!

God Grants Righteousness

The key verse for the reversal of God’s handing us over to a depraved mind is Romans 6:17: “Thanks be to God that, though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were handed over [same word as Romans 1:28].”

“The righteousness that God demands from us, he freely gives to us.”TweetShare on Facebook

This is the exact reversal of the handover in Romans 1:28. Here it is to a form of teaching that is true and holy, not false and dirty. And notice that it is God who does it. “Thanks be to God,” Paul says, that you became obedient to this teaching. God gives us over to truth and righteousness as much as he once gave us over to sin.

Finally, the key verse for reversing the defectiveness of our minds is Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Receive the Reversal

When God has given us his righteousness by faith in Jesus, and when he has handed us over to a new teaching of truth and begun to make us obedient to it, then, little by little, we are transformed in the renewing of our minds and the long list of sins in Romans 1:29–31 becomes shorter and weaker to the glory of God.

This is the key to life. This is the message that we take to the neighborhood and to the nations. I call you and urge you to receive these three reversals from the hand of God by faith: (1) the reversal of God’s wrath through the gift of God’s righteousness; (2) the reversal of being handed over to depravity through being handed over to truth; and (3) the reversal of a depraved mind through the transformation of a renewed mind.John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist and most recently Providence.

Are you ready to march?

Think about the Christian you want to be. What qualities do you want to have: more compassion…more conviction…more courage? What attitudes do you want to discontinue: greed…guilt…endless negativity? With God’s help you can! You can close the gap between the person you are and the person you want to be. Indeed, the person God made you to be. You can live “from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

To inherit your inheritance is God’s vision for your life! Imagine the thought. You as you were intended. It’s a life that is yours for the taking. You can expect to be challenged. The enemy won’t go down without a fight. But God’s promises outweigh personal problems. Victory becomes, dare we imagine, a way of life. Isn’t it time for you to change your mailing address from the wilderness to the promised land? Are you ready to march?

~ Max Lucado

Worried Enough to Pray?

by Max Lucado
Last week’s blog struck a nerve. I wrote a piece entitled “Decency for President.” The premise was a simple one. Shouldn’t a presidential candidate who claims to be Christian talk like one? When a candidate waves a Bible in one speech and calls a reporter “bimbo” in the next, isn’t something awry? Specifically, when Donald Trump insists that he is a Christian (“a good Christian” to use his descriptor) and then blasts, belittles, and denigrates everyone from Barbara Bush to John McCain to Megyn Kelly, shouldn’t we speak up?

If the candidate is not a Christian, then I have no right to speak. But if the candidate does what Trump has done, wave a Bible and attempt to quote from it, then we, his fellow Christians need to call him to at least a modicum of Christian behavior, right?

Again, I struck a nerve. More than three million of you read the article in the first 36 hours! Thousands of you weighed in with your comments. They were fascinating to read. (Not all of them pleasant to read, mind you. The dozens of you who told me to stick to the pulpit and stop meddling in politics– I get it. By the way, I’d like to invite you to attend our services. My upcoming message is “Kindness”.) Detractors notwithstanding, your comments were heartfelt and passionate.

I detected a few themes.

You have a deep sense of love for our country. Patriotism oozed through your words. You cherish the uniqueness and wonder of the USA. You have varying opinions regarding leadership style, role of government, and political strategy. But when it comes to loving the country, you are unanimously off the charts.

You have an allergy to “convenient” Christians. You resist people who don the Christian title at convenient opportunities (i.e., presidential campaigns). You would prefer the candidate make no mention of faith rather than leave the appearance of a borrowed faith that will be returned to the lender after the election.

You are concerned, profoundly concerned, about the future of our country. The debt. Immorality. National security. The role of the Supreme Court. Immigration. Religious liberty. The list is as long as the worries are deep.

So where does this leave us? When a person treasures the country, but has trepidation about its future, what is the best course of action?

Elijah can weigh in on this question.

He lived during one of the darkest days in the history of Israel. The Northern Kingdom had 19 kings, each one of whom was evil. Hope had boarded the last train and optimism the final flight. The leaders were corrupt and the hearts of the people were cold. But comets are most visible against the black sky. And in the midst of the darkness, a fiery comet by the name of Elijah appeared.

The name Elijah means, “My God is Jehovah.” And he lived up to his name. He appeared in the throne room of evil King Ahab with a weather report. “‘As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word’” (1 Kings 17:1).

Elijah’s attack was calibrated. Baal was the fertility god of the pagans, the god to whom they looked for rain and fertile fields. Elijah called for a showdown: the true God of Israel against the false god of the pagans. How could Elijah be so confident of the impending drought? Because he had prayed.

Eight centuries later the prayers of Elijah were used as a model.

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops” (James 5:16-18).

James was impressed that a prayer of such power came from a person so common. Elijah was “a human being” but his prayers were heard because he prayed earnestly. This was no casual prayer, comfortable prayer, but a radical prayer. “Do whatever it takes, Lord,” Elijah begged, “even if that means no water.”

What happened next is one of the greatest stories in the Bible. Elijah told the 450 prophets of Baal: You get a bull, I’ll get a bull. You build an altar, I’ll build an altar. You ask your god to send fire; I’ll ask my God to send fire. The God who answers by fire is the true God.

The prophets of Baal agreed and went first.

“At noon Elijah began to taunt them. ‘Shout louder!’ he said. ‘Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.’

“So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention” (1 Kings 18:27-29).

(Elijah would have flunked a course in diplomacy.) Though the prophets cut themselves and raved all afternoon, nothing happened. Finally Elijah asked for his turn.

“Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come here to me.’ They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which had been torn down. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, ‘Your name shall be Israel’” (1 Kings 18:30-31).

Elijah poured four jugs of water (remember, this was a time of drought) over the altar three times. Then Elijah prayed.

“LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command.   Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again” (1 Kings 18:36-37).

Note how quickly and dramatically God answered.

“Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!’” (1 Kings 18:38-39).

“Pow!” the altar was ablaze. God delighted in and answered Elijah’s prayer. God delights in and answers our prayers as well.

Let’s start a fire, shall we?

If your responses to my blog are any indication, you are anxious. You love this country, yet you are troubled about the future. You wonder what the future holds and what we can do. Elijah’s story provides the answer. We can pray. We can offer earnest, passionate prayers.

It’s time to turn our concerns into a unified prayer. Let’s join our hearts and invite God to do again what he did then; demonstrate His power. Super Tuesday, March 1, is the perfect day for us to step into the presence of God.

Dear Lord,

You outrank any leader. You hold sway over every office. Greater is the occupant of Heaven’s throne than the occupant of the White House.

You have been good to this country. You have blessed us in spite of our sin and guarded us in spite of our rebellion.

We unite our hearts in one prayer. Let your kingdom come. Let your will be done. Please, speak through the electoral process to reveal your leader.

This we pray in the name of Jesus,

Amen

© Max Lucado
February 29, 2016

God will guard you from the evil one

riday June 27

Today’s promise:

What do I do when Satan attacks?

Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour. Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith.Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.

1 Peter 5:8-9 NLT

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.

James 4:7-8 NLT

Not the real thing

 

Wickedness, when you examine it, turns out to be the pursuit of some good in the wrong way. You can be good for the mere sake of goodness; you cannot be bad for the mere sake of badness. You can do a kind action when you are not feeling kind and when it gives you no pleasure, simply because kindness is right; but no one ever did a cruel action simply because cruelty was wrong — only because cruelty was pleasant or useful to him. In other words, badness cannot succeed even in being bad in the same way in which goodness is good. Goodness is, so to speak, itself; badness is only spoiled goodness.…Evil is a parasite, not an original thing.

C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity
Quoted in The Quotable Lewis edited by Wayne Martindale and Jerry Root (Tyndale) p 193

Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted

I have always loved this passage in Psalm 34. Read the whole chapter (which I have copied from biblegateway.com and included it after the following message from The Life Application Study Bible).  Let it bathe over you with comfort.

~~~~~

God pays attention to those who call on Him.  Whether God offers escape from trouble or help in times of trouble, we can be certain that He always hears and acts on behalf of those who love Him.

God promises great blessings to His people, but many of these blessings require active participation.  He will deliver us from:

  • fear (34:4),
  • save us out of our troubles (34:6),
  • guard and deliver us (34:7),
  • show us goodness (34:8),
  • supply our needs (34:9),
  • listen when we talk to Him (34:15)
  • and redeem us (34:22),

but we must do our part.

We can appropriate His blessings when:

  • we seek Him (34:4, 10),
  • cry out to Him (34:6, 17),
  • trust Him (34:8),
  • fear Him (34:7,9),
  • refrain from lying (34:13),
  • turn from evil,
  • do good and seek peace (34:14),
  • are humble (34:18,
  • and serve Him (34:22).

34:8  “Taste and see” does not mean “Check out God’s credentials.”  Instead it is a warm invitation. “Try this; I know you’ll like it.”  When we take that first step of obedience in following God, we will discover that Je is good and kind.  When we begin the Christian life, our knowledge of God is partial and incomplete.  As we trust Him daily, we experience how good He is.

34:9   You say you belong to the Lord, but do you fear Him?  To fear the Lord means to show deep respect and honor to Him.  We demonstrate true reverence by our humble attitude and genuine worship.  Reverence was shown by Abraham (Genesis 17:2-4), Moses (Exodus 3:5, 6), and the Israelites (Exodus 19:16-24) showed this kind of fear of the Lord.

34:9, 10  At first we may question David’s statement, because we seem to lack many good things.  This is not a blanket promise that all Christians will have everything they want.  Instead, this is David’s praise for God’s goodness–all those who call upon God in their need will be answered, sometimes in unexpected ways.

Remember, God knows what we need, and our deepest needs are spiritual.  Even though many Christians face unbearable poverty and hardship, they still have enough spiritual nourishment to live for God.  David was saying that to have God is to have all you really need.  God is enough.
If you feel you don’t have everything you need, ask:

  • Is this really a need?
  • Is this really good for me?
  • Is this the best time for me to have what I desire?

Even if you answer yes to all three questions, God may allow you to go without to help you grow more dependent on Him.  He may want you to learn that you need Him more than having to achieve your immediate desires.

34:11-14  The Bible often connects the fear of the Lord (love and reverence for Him) with obedience.  “Fear God and keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13); “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching” (John 14:23).

David said that a person who fears the Lord

  • doesn’t lie,
  • turns from evil,
  • does good,
  • and promotes peace.

Reverence is much more than sitting quietly in church.  It includes obeying God in the way we speak and the way we treat others.

34:14  Some may think that peace should come with no effort.  But David explained that we are to seek and pursue peace.  Paul echoed this thought in Romans 12:18.  A person who wants peace cannot be argumentative and contentious.  Because peaceful relationships come from our efforts at peacemaking, work hard at living in peace with others each day.

34:18, 19  We often wish we could escape troubles–

  • the pain of grief,
  • loss,
  • sorrow,
  • and failure;

or even the small daily frustrations that constantly wear us down.

God promises to be “close to the brokenhearted,” to be our source of

  • power,
  • courage,
  • and wisdom,

helping us through our problems.

Sometimes He chooses to deliver us from those problems.  When trouble strikes, don’t get frustrated with God.  Instead, admit that you need God’s help and thank Him for being by your side.

34:20  This is a prophecy about Christ when He was crucified.  Although it was the Roman custom to break the legs of the victim to speed death, not one of Jesus’ bones was broken (John 19:32-37).  In addition to the prophetic meaning, David was pleading for God’s protection in times of crisis.

 

Psalm 34

1 I will extol the Lord at all times;
His praise will always be on my lips.
My soul will boast in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt His name together.

I sought the Lord, and He answered me;
He delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to Him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
He saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
and He delivers them.

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.
Fear the Lord, you His saints,
for those who fear Him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and His ears are attentive to their cry;
16 the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.

17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
He delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19 A righteous man may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20  He protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.

21 Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord redeems His servants;
no one will be condemned who takes refuge in Him.

 

 

To read this passage in the King James Version, please click on this link:

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%2034&version=KJV

What leaders and Bible writers say about the Bible

 
“Within the covers of the Bible are all the answers for all the problems men face. The Bible can touch hearts, order minds and refresh souls.” Ronald Reagan
“…God’s Word impacts human hearts…” Chuck Swindoll
“The Bible is endorsed by the ages. Our civilization is built upon its words. In no other Book is there such a collection of inspired wisdom, reality and hope.” Dwight D. Eisenhower
“…the Bible is the best Book in the world…” John Adams in letter to Thomas Jefferson
“The Bible is for the Goverrnment of the People, by the People, and for the People.” John Wycliffe
“It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” George Washington
“WHEREAS the Bible, the Word of God, has made a unique contribution in shaping the United States as a distinctive and blessed nation and people;…WHEREAS many of our great national leaders – among them Presidents Washington, Jackson, Lincoln, and Wilson – paid tribute to the surpassing influence of the Bible in our country’s development, as in the words of President Jackson that the Bible is “the Rock on which our Republic rests”; WHEREAS the history of our Nation clearly illustrates the value of voluntarily applying the teachings of the Scriptures in the lives of individuals, families, and societies; WHEREAS this Nation now faces great challenges that will test this Nation as it has never been tested before; and WHEREAS that renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through Holy Scripture can strengthen us as a nation and a people;”
US Congress, in resolution passed to establish year of the Bible.
“The Spirit gives life. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” John 6:63
“whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.” John 5:24
“The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” Psalms 119:130
“He chose to give us birth through the word of truth.” James 1:18
“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:31
“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17
“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

Don’t take anyone else’s word . . .

“Don’t take anyone else’s word for God.

Find Him for yourself, and then you too will know by the wonderful,

warm tug on your heartstring,

that He is there, for sure.”

~ Billy Graham

(My note:

“Don’t take anyone else’s word for what’s in the Bible.

Read it yourself.

Many people,

including even some well-meaning pastors,

take scripture out of context

and use it for their own opinions to try to get a point across. ~ Sharon)