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You are known by God

Do you think that the Queen of England ever forgets her status? Do you think she ever gets up in the morning, looks around the royal bedchambers, notices a staff member setting up the tray for her morning tea, opening the curtains, laying out her things and wonders, “Well, who is this and why are they doing all this?”
No. Of course not. She’s the queen, and that life is what is afforded for her. It is part of her rank and status that she would be so cared for & so well attended. While she may have no real power, she is still beloved by those who are hers.

We often forget what we have been afforded in Christ. We look around at the world God has created, at he provision He has laid out for us, we forget how dearly loved we are. We forget =Whose= we are and we fall into the trap of disbelieving just how deeply and how greatly we are loved.

Galatians 4:1-11
I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything,
but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.

God has made provision for =you= in Jesus Christ. He has shown the depth of His love, and breadth of His grace. He has given us a wonderful gift beyond measure. But so often we see and observe, and we turn back to what we once had. That is what Paul is dealing with in this portion of his letter to the Galatian church. Why would we turn back to the life that once had us, to the pain that once ensnared us? Why would you turn back to death once you have been brought back to life?

But we do it every day.

We leave behind the rich appointments of grace to wallow in the filth of our own sin.

This is why we are daily glad for grace, and for the presence of the Holy Spirit that corrects us.  There is mourning that comes with this realization, but it is a mourning that is infused with hope.

Lamentations 3:19-26
19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
    the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it
    and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
    to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.

You are deeply loved and dearly bought when you are clothed with Christ. You are afforded a richness that comes with being drawn into the presence of the Living God. Jesus gave proof to His disciples after He was resurrected by doing something simple, He ate with them. He wanted them to see that this was the new reality, the new normal. The life they had been appointed to was past and there was something new on the way. This is what Jesus does for us, this is what God has laid out for us. It’s all for =His= glory, but as heirs, we share in the glorious promises of righteousness.

Luke 24:36-49
36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them.

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

God will take great care to clothe us, care for us and shower us with His love. We are His children, deeply loved, dearly bought. Just as Christ did simple things, like eating fish, to convince His disciples that things really were as they were, even thought it was beyond hope, maybe even beyond belief, He was alive again and there, present with them. Just as He did that, we need to remember that every day, through many convincing proofs, God reminds us that He is present with us, loving us. He is our Abba, our Father, our Daddy & He cares very much for us.

Rest in His arms today. Let Him sing over you. May the joy of the Lord be your strength.

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Trust in the Lord

trust-fall

Proverbs 3:1-12

1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
    but let your heart keep my commandments,
for length of days and years of life
    and peace they will add to you.

Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
    bind them around your neck;
    write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good success
    in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
    and refreshment to your bones.

Honor the Lord with your wealth
    and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
10 then your barns will be filled with plenty,
    and your vats will be bursting with wine.

11 My son, do not despise the Lord‘s discipline
    or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
    as a father the son in whom he delights.

Trust. It’s a big word.
It’s a word that is hard to regain when it’s lost or taken away.
Trust is something that must be shared, it is no good if it is one sided.
Trust is an active word, there is no such thing as trust that isn’t acted upon.
When trust exists, trust is like a glue, bonding parties together.
Trust is an investment, a returning to an agreement and a promise for care.

Trust is a very big word.
It is no small thing.

Men can break our trust in a heartbeat. They can do it over a long period of time.
We can do the same to someone else.
We are all broken, and so sometimes we break things, even if we never intended to.
Trust can be complicated.

Trust can be rebuilt, though. Trust can return.
It takes a grain of it to begin, and over time it will snowball, grow & spread back to begin to fill in the gap that was created. It may not ever completely be what it was before, but it will be there…if both parties will let it do so. Trust is a two way street.

But when it comes to God, He is always faithful. He is always trustworthy.

Trust. Worthy.

God’s faithfulness knows no bounds. His mind & heart are always bent toward glory being brought to Himself. He is naturally,then, invested in seeing both parties come back together. When we walk away in our our broken, human, sinful, faithlessness, God is always standing there. He remains holy, just, perfect & righteous. He does not waiver. He is not tempted or swayed. He is constant beyond constant, reliable beyond words or understanding. He can always be trusted. He is always worthy.

So when Solomon writes and reminds us to trust in the Lord, it will still remain an exercise that we must participate in, but it will be one that requires that grain of trust in Him to begin with. Look at your life, look at His provision for you. Look at your health, your family, your job, your friends, your community of faith, look at the air He has given you to breathe and the sun He has provided to keep you alive and warm. Look at the opportunites He has given you to serve someone else, to the purpose and meaning He provides that beings us hope and draws our heart closer to Him.

Look at God. Look at Him.
And trust.

Don’t lean on what you know. Don’ lean on how you understand things.
Trust in Him.

In Him we live and move and have our being.
Trust in Him.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
    and refreshment to your bones.

He is present. He cares for you.
Trust in Him & feel His presence as you look toward Him.
You are not alone.

We shall not be moved

huge-boulder-at-sequoia-park
The LORD lives!
Blessed is my Rock!
Exalted is the God of my salvation!

28 For it is you who light my lamp;
    the Lord my God lightens my darkness.
29 For by you I can run against a troop,
    and by my God I can leap over a wall.
30 This God—his way is perfect;
    the word of the Lord proves true;
    he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

31 For who is God, but the Lord?
    And who is a rock, except our God?—
32 the God who equipped me with strength
    and made my way blameless.
Psalm 18:28-32

In the words of the Folk Spiritual song,

We shall not, we shall not be moved,
We shall not, we shall not be moved,
Just like a tree that’s standing by the water,
We shall not be moved.

When we stand with God, we will always find ourselves in a secure place. Encouraged by His presence, bolstered by His love, we are agents of grace in a hostile world. What a blessing to have this assurance in our faith. God is our lamp, the light for our path. No matter what shade may cross our path, no matter what obscuring lies may attempt to infiltrate our heart, the Wisdom & Truth from God the Father will always point us in the right direction. Trust in Him, even when the world screams its heresies and when it repeatedly whispers its soft, subtle lies, trust in the light of the Lord. When hard times come, when desperate times press us from all sides, rely on the strength of Christ and the power of His presence to see you through. Even when you cannot see the way, He will light the path for us.

With God, we can withstand anything, and overcome the obstacles in our path. He is the One who provides a pathway and the one who empowers His children. We are always in a good place when we stand with the Lord. be encouraged by His good promises, be lifted up by His grace. The onslaught of the enemy cannot stand against the Lord our God. He is our shield, He is faithful and true. He is our rock and our redeemer. Find your hope in Him. Find your strength in Him today. He is with you who have put on Christ.

His way is indeed perfect, He has shown us this time and again. His grace equips us for our encounters with others in need of grace. His steadfast love enables us to love those who are difficult to love. His boundless forgiveness reminds us of our own need to forgive others, echoing His great justice and mercy. His care & provision for us reminds us that we have been blessed to bless others, to reach out to those who suffer injustice, to provide for those in need.

He is everything we need.
In Him we stand secure.
In the face of all life’s struggles, we will not be moved.

35 You have given me the shield of your salvation,
    and your right hand supported me,
    and your gentleness made me great.
36 You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
    and my feet did not slip.
Psalm 18:35-36

The LORD lives!
Blessed is my Rock!
Exalted is the God of my salvation!
In Him may we find strength for the day’s trials & troubles.
In Him, may we find grace enough to share.
In Jesus’ precious & holy Name,
Amen.

The Little Ones

“If I could relive my life, I would devote my entire ministry to reaching children for God!”
  — Dwight L. Moody, evangelist

“Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.”
  — Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa

Today is the day of the ‘holy innocents.’ It is the day we remember the taking of the lives of toddlers and infants by King Herod, who was paranoid and frightened over the possibility of a contender to his supposed power. When the wise men came and informed Herod about this new born King of the Jews, he was so threatened, that he chose to kill the children of his own people rather than investigate the matter, or seek out other options. So twisted was his heart, and so desperate was his grasp on power, that he thought nothing of this massacre of innocent life.

We still live in this same world today. People are so desperate for power over their lives, so keyed up about seeing their agendas pressed through, that they will literally do the same thing as Herod, but on a much larger scale. When we talk about dark and evil people, Hitler always caps the list, Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot are his quick companions, and there are others. But none of them have measured up to the horror of the American people, and the industry of death that we perpetuate through companies like Planned Parenthood and the political agendas of those who claim to value people from one side of their mouth while opening the door for murder with the other. The haphazard abortion of our unborn children, the murder of innocents, still rings loud and clear as an ‘unfortunate reality’ or an ‘unchangeable component’ of our society. If Rachel cried out and refused to be comforted over the death of her children in Bethlehem, then why are we so quick to lower our voices? Does this have to be reality, or can we seek victory through Jesus in this matter as well?

Matthew 2:16-18
16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
    weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
    she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

This quote is well known, but quickly forgotten in our grasping culture:

“It’s the greatest poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”
  — Mother Teresa

But this is exactly what Herod did, and this is what American culture still does today. We should weep with Rachel, we should deeply mourn over the millions who are still dying daily in the midst of a culture of abundance and self-worship. They may not be brought before Molech in name any more, but our nation’s children are still being sacrificed on an altar for the worship of self, and of convenience. The unholy slaughter, this assault on the image-bearers of God still goes on.

So, cry out because of injustice. Weep openly for the lives of those lost who could not defend themselves, and had too few defenders. Pray to God, asking Him to move, and allowing your life to be moved by Him. Do not allow time or difficulty to keep you from repeatedly speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves.

And pray:
Remember the lives of Your little ones, Lord,
and break the sword of the oppressor.

If we desire to live in the rhythms of grace, then we need to make sure that a grace-filled hand is extended to those who work in the abortion industry. We must make the effort to reach out to those who perpetuate lies based in political agendas and selfish desire with a voice that lifts up the value of human life, that speaks for those who are silenced, and who never stops beating the drum of forgiveness in Christ while there is still time to be forgiven. Be a voice for adoption, be a voice for children. Light the way to Christ.

Matthew 19
13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

“Anyone who does anything to help a child is a hero to me.”
  — Fred Rogers

“When I approach a child, he inspires in me two sentiments — tenderness for what he is and respect for what he may become.”
  — Louis Pasteur

Ways to support life right now:
Support A Woman’s Choice/Necole’s Place in Louisville, KY
Like AWC/NP on Facebook

Visit the NRLC website
Like the NRLC on Facebook

Contact the American President

PHONE NUMBERS
Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414

TTY/TTD
Comments: 202-456-6213
Visitor’s Office: 202-456-2121

Write a letter:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Reach out to your elected officials in America:
https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

Psalm 119:137-144 // צ Tsade // God our Just Judge

“137 You are righteous, Lord,

and Your judgments are just.

138 The decrees You issue are righteous

and altogether trustworthy.

139 My anger overwhelms me

because my foes forget Your words.

140 Your word is completely pure,

and Your servant loves it.

141 I am insignificant and despised,

but I do not forget Your precepts.

142 Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,

and Your instruction is true.

143 Trouble and distress have overtaken me,

but Your commands are my delight.

144 Your decrees are righteous forever.

Give me understanding, and I will live.”

Psalm 119:137-144

==

God is just. He is the only One who is truly fair. His judgments are pure and unspoiled by anything. Everything He decides to do is right and good. His Word reflects that aspect of His nature. 

Read through this portion of Psalm 119 again. Listen to David praise God for His Just nature. 

Read it a third time, remembering how God’s justice came to bear on Christ for you.

Read it a fourth time, praying and thanking God for this aspect of who He is, and praising Him for helping you to see and understand it a little more today. Praise Him for providing a way for us to stand up under His judgment through Jesus Christ. What sweet relief!

Acts 23:23-35 // For those who suffer

“23 He summoned two of his centurions and said, ‘Get 200 soldiers ready with 70 cavalry and 200 spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. 24 Also provide mounts so they can put Paul on them and bring him safely to Felix the governor.’

25 He wrote a letter of this kind:

26 Claudius Lysias,

To the most excellent governor Felix:

Greetings.

27 When this man had been seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them, I arrived with my troops and rescued him because I learned that he is a Roman citizen. 28 Wanting to know the charge they were accusing him of, I brought him down before their Sanhedrin. 29 I found out that the accusations were about disputed matters in their law, and that there was no charge that merited death or chains. 30 When I was informed that there was a plot against the man, I sent him to you right away. I also ordered his accusers to state their case against him in your presence.

31 Therefore, the soldiers took Paul during the night and brought him to Antipatris as they were ordered. 32 The next day, they returned to the barracks, allowing the cavalry to go on with him. 33 When these men entered Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul to him. 34 After he read it, he asked what province he was from. So when he learned he was from Cilicia, 35 he said, ‘I will give you a hearing whenever your accusers get here too.’ And he ordered that he be kept under guard in Herod’s  palace.”

Acts 23:23-35

==

There are many places where God promises to take care of us when we are being persecuted or brought before authorities. He reassures us that if we are living with integrity in His eyes, being faithful to Him, and people are wronging us because of that, then we can be certain that we are going to be under His watchcare. It doesn’t mean that we will always get immediately out of that situation, or that He is going to repeat what He did with Paul and Silas or with Peter. Earthquakes that open doors and angels that put guards asleep are not what is promised. But God does assure us that He will uphold us in these difficult situations. We should never wonder about His faithfulness when we are standing for Him.

Where we would want to be immediately removed from the uncomfortable situation, God may have other plans in place for us in place. Paul would have the opportunity to witness to governors, kings, emporers and their households because of what was beginning to take place here, not to mention all the guards and other people associated with them along the way. Paul’s arrest and imprisonment would lead to the salvation of many people, right on up to some in the household of Caesar. Other Christians today are being given the same opportunity, to stand as a witness in a dark place, such as Saeed Abedini. There are countless witnesses for God that we would free today if we could, but who are still detained and who are still being used by God for the salvation of many. 

So, what do we do with this? We pray. We pray for those who are held captive. We cry out to God to uphold them in their spirit with His own Spirit. We pray for encouragement, that they would feel the prayers of the saints lifting them up before God. We pray for boldness in their faith and in the faith of their families and loved ones. We pray for their children who miss them so badly. We remember them, we hurt for them, and we speak up for them. 

We trust that God will continue to use them to daily GoLove their captors as we have been entrusted with the responsibility to share in the rhythms of grace with people who would wrong us. Whether mild discomfort or long term harm, we trust that our God is mighty to save, and faithful with His love. PRay that Saeed & all our brothers and sisters in Christ will feel the comfort of God’s love, and that they would hear God’s song over them while they wait in Him.

Acts 12:20-25 // Pride, arrogance, humility & mission trips

“20 He [Herod Agrippa 1] had been very angry with the Tyrians and Sidonians. Together they presented themselves before him. They won over Blastus, who was in charge of the king’s bedroom, and through him they asked for peace, because their country was supplied with food from the king’s country. 21 So on an appointed day, dressed in royal robes and seated on the throne, Herod delivered a public address to them. 22 The assembled people began to shout, “It’s the voice of a god and not of a man!” 23 At once an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give the glory to God, and he became infected with worms and died.

24 Then God’s message flourished and multiplied. 25 After they had completed their relief mission, Barnabas and Saul returned to Jerusalem, taking along John who is called Mark.”

Acts 12:20-25

Everything we do in life is a series of choices. Every attitude we exhibit, we choose. Every feeling we allow to flourish within us, we choose. Everything we do with our mind, our bodies and our hearts we must choose to either encourage or discourage within ourselves. We are all personally accountbale for all of these choices, and we cannot simply claim to be a victim of our own circumstances, or that we have fallen prey to these difficulties because it ‘wasn’t my choice.’ We don’t often think about the full ramifications of our choices. Aside form the fact that it could consume our days and nights to do so, to think through _all_ of the possible echoes of our choices would overwhelm us and trap us in a place that we cannot deal with and handle. On the opposite extreme, to never consider what we do, to never weigh out the options ,and to just ‘run with our gut’ will leave you in a desolate, dnagerous place as well. We must try to balance choice, responsibility and have some goals and ideals in mind.

A life without foundation becomes an amoral, godless mess. A life with too many rules and regulations becomes an emotionless, Pharisaical mess. Either way, we wouldn’t do a very good job of communicating the Gospel message or living lives that made a positive impact.

So, as we GoLove others in Jesus’ Name, it’s best to look at options, choose what honors God and trust in Him to move through us and those situations. We cannot let choices paralize us, and we cannot let choices that will affect other people go unconsidered. Barnabas, Paul & John Mark obviously made the right choices here, and lives were touched for the Gospel because of it. Herod chose poorly.

We all only have a limited number of days and choices to be made. Let’s make the ones that make an impact for the Kingdom and draw others to God rather than simply feed our ego and comfort the attitudes of sin & self. It’s the smart choice to make.

Acts 11:27-30 // Redefined Priority 

“27 In those days some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine throughout the Roman world. This took place during the time of Claudius. 29 So each of the disciples, according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brothers who lived in Judea. 30 They did this, sending it to the elders by means of Barnabas and Saul.”

Acts 11:27-30

From the beginning, the church has been concerned with serving others and helping to provide for people in their need. From Acts 2 & 3, we see them giving out of their means to each other as they had need, and here, as they grow and as they spread out, they still make a point of caring for those who would suffer. This interconnectedness is a beautiful thing, and we are reminded of our joining together in Christ as we partake of communion each week. We see that physical distance, racial and cultural barriers and anything else that you might think of, do nothing to separate us from one another. We also see, from these earliet examples, that the church has a redefined priority in regards to wealth, time and effort. 

 When you belong to the body of Christ, you have a new understanding of what really matters. It’s not about personal comfort, it’s not about getting your way. It’s not about building up security for yourself and it’s not about making a good impression as the world understands things. Instead, it becomes a matter of seeing others brought comfort, peace and security through whatever means you may have. There is a re-direction of the heart, a new mental focus and a greater understanding that reveals a deeper priority in your heart. Today, time is almost more closely guarded than money, but no matter the resource, to follow Christ means to GoLove people in their need, to step beyond what is comfortable or easy, and into what really and truly matters. 

Compassion redefines us. An understanding of mission redefines us. Our sense of community with one another redefines us. Communion through Christ redefines us. There are so many ways that God has provided for us to stand out as distinctive and different from the world, and it is in these ways that people will see and begins to grasp that we have something together that they lack on their own. That we have a hope, a joy and a purpose that they just cannot manufacture for themselves. And as we live our different, distinctive, redefined priorities, we need to do it knowing that even how we use our time, talent and treasure stands as a marker to a hurting world, a testimony to the goodness of Christ Jesus.  That’s why we care for the widow and orphan in their distress, provide food for the hungry, shelter for the cold and care for the sick…because Jesus made them a priority and told us that whatever we do for one of them, we also are doing for Him. We see things differently and seek to make a difference. 

Make a difference for widows & orphans by clicking HERE.

Provide water for the thirsty HERE.

Provide care for the sick HERE.

Help those in distress HERE

Find opportunities right where you are today and let those redefined priorities begin to speak out loud in your life. It’s not for our personal glory, but for bringing praise, honor and rejoicing to God Himself. 

  


Acts 7:9-16 // Jesus and the story of Redemption (pt 2)

“9 The patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt, but God was with him 10 and rescued him out of all his troubles. He gave him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who appointed him ruler over Egypt and over his whole household. 11 Then a famine and great suffering came over all of Egypt and Canaan, and our ancestors could find no food. 12 When Jacob heard there was grain in Egypt, he sent our ancestors the first time. 13 The second time, Joseph was revealed to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh. 14 Joseph then invited his father Jacob and all his relatives, 75 people in all, 15 and Jacob went down to Egypt. He and our ancestors died there, 16 were carried back to Shechem, and were placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.”

Acts 7:9-16

“God was with him, and rescued him out of all his troubles.” 

This is what God does. In our weaknesses, in our plight, in our pain and suffering, He extends His hand of mercy. He comforts our heart. He brings us peace and lifts up our head. Zephaniah says that God is mighty to save, that He sings over us and comforts us with His love.

I don’t know about you…but I need that. I need comforted because life hurts so often, my sins and mistakes wound me deeply and my fears, doubts and worries can seem overwhelming at times. There are days when things seem to press in from all sides, where issues I have no power over seem to loom over my head and press their weight into my shoulders, and I am crushed in my spirit.

On those dark days, it is a comfort to know that the one thing keeping me afloat in the midst of that storm has nothing to do with my own willpower or strength. It is the mighty hand of God upholding my spirit. His love brings me through, and His grace, mercy and love, lift my eyes up from the muck and mire and points them heavenward. He helps me remember that there is life beyond the moment of suffering, that there is joy that outlasts all pain. He reminds me of His good and perfect promises to me, and like the unending rhythm of the waves on the shore, He will never relent. He will never leave me or forsake me.

“He gave him favor & wisdom…”

As God gave Joseph what he needed in his plight, so he provides for me today. I do pray daily for wisdom, He knows I need it. But He also provides the answers and solutions to all my worries, problems, questions and concerns. He provides a faith that cannot be shaken, armor that protects the heart, and a Word that gives me sight. He truly is YHWH Jireh, providing for all my needs and even beyond. 

So, praise God today for His wonderous care! 

Praise the Lord of Hosts for His protection!

Praise God for the goodness of His creation!

Praise God for the provision He made throught Christ in the misdt of our death in sin. 

While we were already dead in our sin, He raised us up, breathed new life into us and animiated our dead bones so that He might be honored, glorified and praised. Our sustaining points glory to Him. Our blessing though provision accentuates His awesome love. The outpouring of love that flows from His people brings joy to His heart, like a Father watching His children put on His shoes and shirt and doing their best to be like their daddy. 

As we GoLove others, we mimic the heart of Christ, the eternal definition of love, care, provision and dedication. If Jesus had the strength to bear what He bore in His body for us on the cross, surely He can help us through our difficult days. Surely we can GoLove others and give them hope in theirs…

  

Acts 7:1-8 // Jesus and the story of Redemption (pt 1)

1 “Is this true?” the high priest asked.

2 “Brothers and fathers,” he said, “listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he settled in Haran, 3 and said to him:

“Get out of your country

and away from your relatives,

and come to the land

that I will show you.”

4 Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. From there, after his father died, God had him move to this land you now live in. 5 He didnt give him an inheritance in it, not even a foot of ground, but He promised to give it to him as a possession, and to his descendants after him, even though he was childless. 6 God spoke in this way:

“His descendants would be strangers

in a foreign country,

and they would enslave

and oppress them 400 years.

7 I will judge the nation

that they will serve as slaves, God said.

After this, they will come out

and worship Me in this place.”

8 Then He gave him the covenant of circumcision. After this, he fathered Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; Isaac did the same with Jacob, and Jacob with the 12 patriarchs.”

Acts 7:1-8

There is a lot of trust, faith even, that begins God’s story of redemption through Abram and his future offspring. From the very beginning, faith has been the hinge-point. Abram and his family had to trust God when they left where they were living to begin this new life with Him in the lead. They relocated again after his father died in Haran before settling in Canaan. But even then, Abram lived as a nomad, travelling with his flocks and herds as the seasons changed, in the land God promised to his descendants. Then God promises, along with the land and it’s abundance, a period of oppression and slavery under a foreign thumb. 

What kind of promise is that?

“I’m going to set you and your family here, but first, you are going to be slaves.”

Would you want to listen to that promise? Would you even consider it as an option? Probably not.

But Abram did…and we ask “Why?” 

Because Abram knew that he was dealing with YHWH Elohim, and not some capricious human being or false god.  He wasn’t going to move him around just to mess with him. He wasn’t going to allow his grandchildren and great grandchildren to go into slavery just because He thought it might be fun. YHWH Elohim had a greater plan in mind and Abram believed him. Hebrews tells us that God credited it to him as righteousness. Trust and faith cannot be separated. It would be silly to say otherwise. Trust is part of the definition of faith. And Abram had faith that God’s plan was bigger and better than anything he could ever have divised for himself, and that if there was something difficult to deal with along the way, that God had a greater purpose in mind for it. God didn’t cause the Israelites the pain of their future slavery, He allowed it, and there is a great difference to understand there. 

When Stephen began this sermon to the Sanhedrin in Acts 7, he began with the reminder of suffering and redemption. This element was a common theme through the life and history of the Jewish people. God gave direction, the people listened for a short time, they became apathetic & rebelled, they were faced with the consequences for their sins and upon their repentance, God saved them. 

Over and over again, God saves them. 

And it all began with Abram & the faith he had in God’s ability to make good come from the mess of life. And God would do this within the rhythms of His grace. The constant pulse of His great love, the beating of His heart, would be a comfort to His children all throughout their history with Him & He promised this to Abram form the very beginning. He promised His presence through the good (inheriting lands and the expansion of his family) and through the bad (oppression, slavery and pain.) 

Stephen wanted them to remember in their hearts what they knew in their minds: that God loved them and had a plan that was bigger then them or their own wisdom. God’s plan was deeper, wider and stretched further than the control they were trying to exercise over it, and in turn, Him. Stephen began this first and last sermon trying to get them to recall the faith they were supposed to have in God and in His ability to save His people, and so he told the story of their collective hearts in an attempt to get them to see the role that Jesus played in this great love story. 

AS we try to GoLove people, we need to remember these rhythms of grace as we speak and serve, teach and share with them. We need to take their hearts on the journey that God has mapped out, show them His heart in His dealings with people, and express His concern for the souls of men, His role in seeing justice done and freedom brought into the lives of all of us who are oppressed by sin. Even if it is our first and last ‘sermon,’ it will be totally worth it to speak the love of God to a hurting heart. 

  

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