Promises You Can Count On

Promises You Can Count On

Those of us who live in the north of the country are now enjoying the beauty of Springtime. The birds have migrated back to their nesting places and bulbs planted in the fall are pushing their way through the earth. The trees and bushes are blooming in a glorious array of color everywhere we look. Farmers have begun the process of tilling the soil and planting new seeds with hopes of a good harvest. This is all looked forward to with great anticipation in the full circle of the seasons – especially the warmer weather! The promise of Spring brings hope and it has been proven scientifically that more sunshine and longer hours of daylight elevates our moods.

Our politicians make many promises we cannot count on. Weddings and graduations bring many promises of a bright future but sometimes those promises are broken and plans do not turn out as hoped for. The farmer plants with great expectation but he cannot control the rain and sun that is needed for heathy growth. Are there any promises we can count on?

The definition of a promise is, “a declaration or assurance that one will do a particular thing or that a particular thing will happen” or a “binding pledge from one person to another”. The person to whom the promise is made has every right to expect the promise to be fulfilled. A mans’ (or womans’) word used to mean something. If you gave your word and shook on it it was as good as done. When we were kids on the playground we would “pinky promise” about something and it meant you could be trusted and would never betray your friend. There are almost 7500 promises from God to mankind in the Bible. Throughout the Scriptures faith is the trustful human response to God’s self-revelation through His words and His actions. He has proven over and over that He is faithful to His Word even when we are not.

In an article I found on Bible.org it listed 12 types of promises we can find. God promises 1) to answer our prayers, 2) provide healing 3) give us strength and power 4 )hope for the future 5) to be with us 6) forgiveness of sin 7) protection 8) peace of mind 9) wisdom and guidance 10) to supply our needs 11) eternal salvation 12) an end to suffering.

A verse I memorized as a child told me where to look for the answers in life and here are some other favorites. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  Psalm  119:105

For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100: 5

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.   1John 1:9

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  John 14:26,27

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.    Romans  8:38,39

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?   Matthew 6:26&29

Yes, we can count on our great and mighty God’s promises. The second verse of an old hymn, “Standing on the Promises of God” says it well.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail.
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God. [Refrain]

Does Jesus Care?

Does Jesus Care?

When you are facing a crisis of any kind, do you wonder if God cares? When you feel lost or alone and think , “can’t He see I’m struggling here? ” When you watch tragedies unfold on the television do you wonder if He hears our prayers? I can tell you dear reader that yes, He cares. From cover to cover the Bible reminds us of Gods’ love and faithfulness to individuals as well as groups of people.

Reading through the Psalms of David gives us insight into this “man after God’s own heart.” David was called as a young man to serve God and was anointed to one day become king of Israel. But most of his life was filled with difficulty – running from a crazy man(Saul), family disfunction and wars to name a few. That is why his words so often reflect the feelings and questions of our own hearts.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Ps 34:18. ESV

A person’s steps are established by the LORD, and he takes pleasure in his way. Though he falls, he will not be overwhelmed, because the LORD supports him with his hand. Psalms 37:23-24 CSB

Why, my soul, are you so dejected? Why are you in such turmoil? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise him, my Savior and my God. I am deeply depressed; therefore I remember you …. Psalms 42;5&6 CSB

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. Psalm 56:3 CSB

One time when the Lord Jesus travelled across the Sea of Galilee with His disciples, a great storm arose. In terror, the men roused their sleeping Master. “He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’ (Mk. 4:38). What a question! The irony of it is striking. Why had He come to this earth? To save those who are perishing and destined for eternal ruin (Lk. 19:10; Jn. 3:16). On another occasion, the Lord was visiting in the home of Mary and Martha. Mary sat at His feet, absorbing His teaching. But “Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me’” (Lk. 10:40). If the first example represents fear’s mastery over faith (Mk. 4:40), the second strikes at the root of values and priorities (Lk. 10:41-42). by Robert Cottrill in Wordwise Hymns

Frank Ellsworth Graeff (1860-1918) was a Methodist minister who was well known for his sunny disposition and story telling abilities especially with children. However he struggled deeply with a number of losses, pain and testing experiences in his life. He often turned to Scripture for strength and solace and 1 Peter 5:7 “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you”, became especially meaningful to him and spoke to his need. It was during a time of great despondency and doubt that Rev. Graeff penned the words to the hymn, “Does Jesus Care?”.

It is only human to to experience times in our lives when we have doubts and question the nearness of God. Our struggles can leave us feeling defeated and depleted of joy when we lose sight of who God is and His loving care for us. It is in these moments we need to read in the Bible about the character of our God and cling to His promises.

God is Eternal, Faithful, Holy, Just, Loving, All Powerful, All Seeing, All Knowing, Always Present, Unchanging, Prince of Peace…

God is our Advocate, Counselor, Healer, Provider, Protector, Redeemer, Savior, Shepherd and Friend…

You can bring all your concerns, petitions, shattered dreams and wounded hearts and give them all to Jesus because YES He cares!

It Is Well With My Soul

It Is Well With My Soul

We hear and read about great tragedies on a daily basis. The deadly car crash, fires, hurricanes, the wild tornadoes and now a deadly war rages in the Ukraine. Our friend, a former fire Captain, told us that even if a building is a total loss but there is no loss of life it is a success. How do you respond to personal tragedy?

Horatio Spafford was a lawyer and supporting friend of the evangelist Dwight L. Moody. In the spring of 1871, Spafford invested in real estate north of Chicago . The Great Fire of Chicago in October 1871 reduced the city to ashes and most of Spafford’s investments with it. Two years later the family planned a trip to Europe. Late business demands kept him from joining his wife and daughters as they headed for England on vacation. On November 22,1873, while crossing the Atlantic, their ship was struck by an iron sailing vessel and sank rapidly killing 226 people, including all four of Spafford’s daughters. His wife Anna survived the tragedy and upon arriving in England she sent a telegraph that read, “Saved alone.” Spafford sailed to England to join his grieving wife and as the ship passed the area where his daughters had died he was inspired to pen the words to the now famous hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul’.

1. When peace like a river. attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.

Habakkuk prophesied just before the Babylonian invasion and captivity of Israel around 607 BC. The book presents a picture of a man who trusted God even though he was perplexed by current events.

17 Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,
18yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17–18 (ESV)

King David and others wrote Psalms crying out to God for hope and help, courage and strength in distress.

3When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
4In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:3–4 (ESV)

1God is our refuge and strength, a very sufficient help in troubles.
2Therefore we will not fear though the earth change, and though the mountains totter into the midst of the sea,
3though its waters roar and foam, though mountains shake with its surging water. Psalm 46:1–3 (LEB)

Matias, director of Word of Life in Ukraine shared a post from a graduate there. Here is a shortened version: “Tomorrow, there is a van leaving for Germany from my city in the Dorbass region, which is almost entrenched by enemy forces…….However I decided to stay. I gave my life to God at camp last summer….This is my attitude now, I am ready to go in the fire. I understand that this is the place for me to be here to work and to serve… I’ve come to understand that I can find myself in the coolest country in the world and still be unsatisfied, or I can stay here, in the midst of bombings and fear, and be the happiest person in the world, because I am doing what I should be doing. I am not scared at all now, because I know the One who goes ahead of me.”

When I have found myself wondering why God is allowing something in my life I have read and hung on to His word, His promises. Whatever circumstance you may find yourself in whether great danger, financial disaster, illness, loss or even war, are you able to say with confidence, “It is well with my soul”?

Four Verses for Difficult Times

Four Verses for Difficult Times

I always bristle when I hear Scripture taken out of context, twisted around and made to fit the speakers’ agenda.  Recently one of our top politicians did just that to maybe make her words sound righteous: “Let us think on these things”. If we actually look at the whole passage we will find deep truth for everyday living.

No one would deny that we are living in very difficult times and that is exactly why the Bible is vital today. When the Apostle Paul was writing his letters, Caesar Augustus was conquering the world. Caesar and his armies took what they wanted, persecuted Christians and advanced his Empire all the way to Spain with much collateral damage left behind. Paul was no stranger to political upheaval, mob mentality, religious persecution, fear, poverty or health issues. In his letter to a beloved church, St. Paul gives us a key to living for Christ in a difficult world in Philippians chapter 4: 6-9.

Remember, the Lord is coming soon.6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

The opposite of worry is trust. Trusting our heavenly Father for every need means that when we pray we expect Him to answer. He is the Prince of Peace and promised to never leave us comfortless. Therefore we can rest our hearts and minds in His everlasting arms knowing He loves us and is in control of the situation.

8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

How we think determines how we will act and what we believe determines our values. Truth does not depend on experience or comprehension. Truth is an absolute and doesn’t change with our opinion or feelings. God’s Word is truth. However, we are still challenged to seek the whole truth and not settle for subtle lies and misinformation. We also need to do a self check on what we are fixing our thoughts on.

It is easy to pick out someone else’s faults but Jesus told us to take the “log” out of our own eyes first. We can change the atmosphere around us by looking for the good, the beautiful, the honorable.  Paul was so confident in his walk with the Lord he told us to follow his example. We can do that by reading God’s word, praying, trusting and practicing thankfulness.

Christians should be the calmest people on earth because we know the Lord is in control and He holds the future in His hands.

Rushing or Trusting

Rushing or Trusting

Every year it seems the holiday commercials, decorations and sales start earlier and earlier. This pushy commercialism actually takes away from our joy because we all know that money buys toys but not happiness. This fall it seems my friends are pushing towards Christmas not to celebrate but just to decorate. One friend did most of her shopping this summer and another put up all her Christmas decorations in the yard right after Halloween because it made her happy. But will it really?

This year has been filled with anxiety, depression and fear due to the Pandemic. Our daily lives have been turned upside down by something we never experienced before. I am just wondering if we are trying to rush through the holidays to reach 2021 hoping that when we turn the calendar everything will be “normal”. If so, it will only bring more pressure to our weary souls.

Dr. Libby Weaver has published a book called, “Rushing Woman’s Syndrome”. Rushing through tasks is actually killing us. We get overwhelmed, fatigued, eat poorly, don’t sleep well and then wonder what’s wrong. We were not designed to live at this pace . Everyone is given 24 hours a day, seven days each week and God gave us the Sabbath to REST, which most of us don’t take.

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matt 6:34 (ESV)

I feel the pull to rush and it makes me anxious. So I am trying hard to enjoy little things each day as they come. In reality, with Covid 19 restrictions, I have plenty of time and no where far to go. When I look out the window to watch the birds activity and the leaves change I try to see a world bigger than just myself. Our attitude needs to be one of gratitude for what we have right now, not worrying about what might happen. Joy is stolen by worry and worry blocks trust.

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Matt 6:26-27

 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: Eccl 3:1 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Eccl 3:11

Our Heavenly Father is watching over us and knows exactly what is going on down here on planet earth. He hears our every prayer and sees every tear and tells us that we can lean on Him when we don’t understand the circumstances around us. (Prov. 3: 5&6) God knows when a vaccine will be ready and this virus gone. We know this years’ holiday season will be very different from the past in many ways. Gatherings are limited, parties will not be happening and for some a loved one will be missing this year. But we can use technology for our benefit and enjoy the little blessings along the way.

There is no need to rush. Life goes by too fast. So let us pause and breathe and trust and rest in His love and grace for each day.

Eye of the Storm

Eye of the Storm

Once again the eastern coast has been bombarded by a devastating hurricane.  Hurricanes are the most violent storms on earth. The warm tropical air rises, causing an area of lower air pressure below while air from higher air pressure pushes in becoming warm and moist too. The whole system of clouds and wind spins and grows, fed by the ocean’s heat and water evaporating from the surface. As the storm system rotates faster and faster, an eye forms in the center.  When the wind speeds reach 74 mph it is officially a hurricane and winds could then increase up to 157mph or greater.

The calmest part of the storm is the center or “eye”. It has no wind at the center and typically clearer skies. Located just outside the eye is the eye wall, the place within a hurricane that holds the most damaging winds and intense rainfall. A common mistake is for residents to exit their homes to inspect the damage while the eye passes over, only to be caught off guard by the violent winds in the opposite eyewall. 

Meteorologists watch these storms carefully to warn us of the impending danger – if everyday life had such warnings would we really listen? I think not.  Just like the people who insist on “riding out the storm” despite official notice, we think we know better or just don’t care. A lot of folks don’t pay attention to environmental, health and safety warnings. The Ten Commandments give us basic rules for living peacefully but they have been taken off the government and school walls.

Jesus told a parable about wise decision making for the storms of life.

Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.26 But anyone who hears my teaching and ignores it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” Matt 7:24-27

2020 has held severe damaging winds of uncertainty, loss and un-normal change. A tiny virus has upended the whole world. The bad actions of a few have caused political upheaval, protests and riots. There have been fires on the west coast and now hurricanes on the east coast. Whether you are in the middle of a horrible “storm” or if you find yourself waiting in “the eye” – you have to finish the course.

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out.23 As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger.24 The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. The storm stopped and all was calm!25 Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!” Luke 8:22-25

Our God is in control despite the biggest storms. He can be trusted because He is our Creator, Sustainer and Friend.  Nothing is new to Him or unknown.  Just like the disciples, we can cry out to Him to help us and He does hear our prayer. He is the source of peace beyond normal comprehension. Won’t you trust Him for today? There is nothing better than feeling His arms around me when I’m in the eye of the storm.

Eye of the Storm by Ryan Stevenson

In the eye of the storm
You remain in control
And in the middle of the war
You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor
When my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me
In the eye of the storm