Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Trust in God

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

A Christ follower knows that there is more than one way to cure a troubled heart. The inherited PEACE of Christ is one way. (See yesterday’s eDevotion “Wonderful Peace”). There is also a matter of TRUST—trust in God and in Christ.

Christ knew His disciples were about to enter the greatest turmoil of their lives. First, they would be separated from Christ by His crucifixion, and then He would leave them to return to His Father after His resurrection. The circumstances surrounding their lives were about to be turned upside down. But He also knew the answer to their anxieties. He knows about our troubled hearts, our frightful hearts, our distraught, disturbed, and distressed hearts too. The cure for the disciples’ hearts is the same for ours; “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

I am drawn to the first three words, “Do not let…” The disciples were capable of doing something about their problem—their troubled hearts. They held one key to be released from “heart trouble.” They could either let it happen or not let it happen. They could let their hearts be troubled by trusting in the destructive power of their circumstances, or not let it happen by trusting in God and in His Son.

The disciples learned to “trust in God,” the One who is still in control, who has infinite wisdom, unlimited power, and limitless love. And “trust also in me,” Jesus said, the one who would remain with them (by the Spirit of God) to the end of the age. That is the secret.

The disciples and each one of us can face the unknown with complete confidence. And we can do it in peace…if we choose not to have troubled hearts.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:1-3)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Wonderful Peace

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

A Christ follower knows there is a cure for the troubled heart. In fact, it is an inheritance. When Christ left this earth, He left us an inheritance of peace. “My peace I leave with you,” He said. And I assure you; it is fundamentally different than the peace this world has to offer. It isn’t a peace for escaping difficult circumstances; rather, it is peace right in the middle of them.

The Christ follower’s peace is right in the midst of trouble, right in the midst of distress and turmoil and heartache and pressure. How can that be, you ask? It’s because of our unique relationship. He is in us and we are in Him. Out of that comes an abiding assurance of His presence. He is there, even in the “valley of the shadow of death,” working out His purposes in us.

There you have it. You are rich because you have inherited peace from Christ. No matter what you are going through, at this very moment, you are in Him and He is in you. What a gift, this peace of Christ!

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

“That’s Enough!”

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

A minister called in the sermon title to his local newspaper.
“What are you talking about, preacher?” the editor asked.
"The Lord is My Shepherd," he said.
"Is that all?"
"That's enough," the pastor replied.
When the paper was delivered, the preacher was surprised to see his sermon title: The Lord is My Shepherd—That's Enough.
The pastor was thrilled with the title and used it to the delight and benefit of the congregation. Because the Lord is my shepherd, I do not lack anything.
Once when studying Psalm 23, I ran across this quote from Ray Stedman, pastor of Peninsula Bible Church:
“It struck me as I was reading this psalm that there are really only two options in life. If the Lord is my shepherd, then I shall not want; but if I am in want, then it is obvious that the Lord is not my shepherd. It is that simple. If our vocation shepherds us, then there is restlessness and feverish activity and frustration. If education is our shepherd, then we are constantly being disillusioned. If another person is our shepherd, we are always disappointed, and ultimately we are left empty. If drug abuse is our shepherd, then ‘we are wasted,’ as one rock artist said. But if the Lord is our shepherd, David says, we shall not want.
If emptiness, loneliness, despair, frustration, hopelessness, or wants exist in our lives, then the Lord is not our shepherd. Can we recognize His call to rescue us?”
The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Father Knows Best

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

When I was a kid our family would gather around the TV set and watch a program titled “Father Knows Best.” I can’t remember a single episode, but I do remember we watched it faithfully. I think the same is true in the spiritual realm too. A fundamental premise of a Christ follower is that our heavenly Father knows best. His plan is always best.

There is an Old Testament story that highlights this truth. It concerns King Hezekiah. God advised him to prepare himself for death and ready his kingdom for another king. Armed with that knowledge, Hezekiah pleaded with God to spare his life (see Isaiah 38:3) and lo, and behold, fifteen additional years were added to his life; but no one could possibly identify them as good years. During the added time, Hezekiah had a son, Manasseh, who eventually succeeded him to the throne. Manasseh ruled Judah for fifty-five wicked years (see 2nd Kings 21:1).

He promoted idolatry, sacrificed a son to Moloch, shed innocent blood, and ruled the nation with cruelty. His wicked reign provoked God’s anger, but Manasseh paid little attention (2nd Kings 21:16; 2nd Chronicles 33:10). Events that happened in those extended years had a direct bearing on Judah’s defeat by the Babylonians (see 2nd Kings 20:12-20). All of the sorrow Judah experienced by the wicked Manasseh would never have happened had Hezekiah believed that Father Knows Best.

There were consequences for Hezekiah’s unwillingness to accept God’s plan. God does indeed know what’s best. You can put your full confidence, and trust in the Lord. You can trust His guidance.

For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)