Save me from myself!

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Romans 7:21-25  “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

     When I was younger I didn’t really ‘get’ what Paul was talking about when he despaired of wanting to do the right thing and ending up doing the wrong thing.  Sadly, too many harsh retorts from a high horse, too many compromises with the way of the world, too many actions motivated by the fear of man and pride gradually imprint Paul’s desperate realization on the fabric of our flawed lives.  We read it  in the hurt and disappointed eyes of loved ones and friends.  The memories haunt us! And we ask; “Is this all it adds up to?”

     The pull of selfishness perplexes us as it destroys us; “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15)  And so a battle rages in our mind; “For in my inner being; I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war; against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.”  (Romans 7:22,23)  Our mind is the battleground between the spirit and the flesh.  Following the flesh doesn’t end well; “But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.”  (Romans 2:8)

    Without Jesus, life is just cruel chance.  Events unfold into two equally likely outcomes – one works out to please us and the other works out badly; “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”(Ecclesiastes 9:11)  Without the outworking of God’s law and His inner call upon us the law of chance degrades our life to empty random events governed by ‘the pull of flesh’.  Life becomes wretched and more wretched as every year goes by until a very desperate old age is reached.

       King Solomon, for all his riches and wisdom summed up a life without Jesus as; “I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts. For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.”  (Ecclesiastes 3:18,19)  And Paul cries out; “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?”

     The rescue is as simple as it is profound. Is it   a work any man can do?  Is it  an action that any person is capable of; “‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’ Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’” (John 6:28,29)  We can step out of the dim, darkened world of chance and death.  We can walk in the light and see our way to life; “The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” (John 12:45,46)

     Our own minds are accomplices to the thief that would steal a life of meaning and joy from us. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand – one decision away; “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

     Praise the Lord!


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Romans 5:20,21 “The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase.<sup class="crossreference" value="(AB)”> But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death,<sup class="crossreference" value="(AD)”> so also grace<sup class="crossreference" value="(AE)”> might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life<sup class="crossreference" value="(AF)”> through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

     I have often said to my students in physics class that there are three laws that can’t be broken  – Newton’s laws of motion. “However,” I tell them, “these laws may break your car and you if you’re not careful on the road.”  It’s a great lead in to the the study of dynamics.  The body of law that Paul was taking about wasn’t the same.  It seemed to be made for breaking!

     The law is also made to keep people within it.  So the law makes a boundary.  And a boundary shows not only those within the law but those on the ‘wrong’ side of it. So, no law – no trespass.  In this way, what Paul says is so true.   The law brings a kind of cold hard clarity.  However, there is no love in the law just harsh judgement.  The law separates.  The law judges.  The law condemns.

     The law was  made for lawless people; “We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers,  for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers . . . ” (1 Timothy 1:9,10)  The law was made for us!  Maybe we aren’t murderers but what about unholy or irreligious or lying.  The Bible tells us: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10)  Paul sums up; “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)

     The only thing that covers sin is grace – grace free and available to all.  As the law shows sin, so also does it show grace.  Not as a consequence but rather in contrast – as dark calls for light so sin calls for grace.  A world of lawlessness alone would be mute towards grace!  We must realize that ‘available to all’ does not mean ‘acceptable to all.  Grace is not free, a terrible price was paid for it. We didn’t have to pay that price;  “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

     To accept grace we must acknowledge our sin, acknowledge the price and be desperate for grace.  Only then are we prepared to accept the King of grace as our Lord and Saviour.  Self-righteousness is the contentment that slides a person down to  hell.  The self-righteous are a law unto themselves and have no need of grace because they are beyond the law.  It is not that they live by the law, rather they delude themselves into believing they keep all of it by multiplying doctrines that keep none of it;  “This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men . . . ” (Mark 7:6,7,8)

     Satan has made empty religion into his weapon of  mass destruction.  Without Jesus there is no grace.  Without grace, the contrast to perceive sin fades in the mind – sin fades.  If there is no sin, the law and its boundaries become invisible to us.  And in this world of materialism – what is invisible doesn’t exist.  Jesus upholds the law just as sin upholds lawlessness.  And our society has gone so far down the road away from the Bible that there is no one to teach us;  “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”  (Galatians 3:24)

     Life comes out of the law because the law comes to its conclusion in Jesus.  We cannot find our righteousness in the law but we find our sinfulness in it.  The only way out of that terrible doom is Jesus’ sacrifice and our acceptance of His death for us.  Jesus said; “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”  (Matthew 5:17)

     Some think that the law doesn’t exist because they can’t see it – yet it operates just like Newton’s three laws of motion on the highways of life.  Others think that they aren’t lawbreakers – they can’t see their predicament because they are self-righteous.  The very law they believe they keep completely, condemns them completely.  A few see their doom and grab onto Jesus and never let go.

     The Bible tells us: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”  (Romans 8:1)

     Praise the Lord!

Fully Persuaded!

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Romans 4:20-25 “Yet he [Abraham] did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,  being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why it was credited to him as righteousness.’  The words ‘it was credited to him’ were written not for him alone,  but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.  He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”

     The life of a faithful person is a fully persuaded life – not mostly persuaded, half persuaded or somewhat persuaded but fully persuaded!  The example Paul is using here is Abraham.  Abraham was a fully persuaded man.  Why?  The Forerunner Commentary states: “There was nothing vague about God to Abraham. His relationship with God was of such intimacy that he thoroughly understood His character and purpose.  . . .  He chose to trust the One he knew has the power and is faithful.”

     How did Abraham come to be a fully persuaded man?  Abraham walked with God, talked with God, followed God’s instructions and believed everything God said to him.  Matthew Henry writes: “The nature and power of Abraham’s faith are shown. He believed God’s testimony, and looked for the performance of his promise, firmly hoping when the case seemed hopeless.”  We too can have this kind of righteousness provided we live this kind of intimacy with God. 

     Trust is to look for ‘the performance of God coming through on his promises’ in our life.  Do we do that?  This is quite a challenge; “Unbelief is at the bottom of all our staggerings at God’s promises. The strength of faith appeared in its victory over fears. God honours faith; and great faith honours God.” (Matthew Henry)  Do we know God well enough to trust Him?  Sadly many times our life shows otherwise no matter what our mouths say.

    Like the father of the child that Jesus healed we want to believe –  we need to believe – yet can’t seem to come up with the faith needed.  Jesus tells us: “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23) We are left crying out; “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (v. 24)  How we stagger!  How we struggle with unbelief!  Are we not fully persuaded!  Yet it is in that heart cry to Jesus for help when all else, even our faith, fails that our fully persuaded life unfolds into reality.

     The cry; “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” contains our desperate predicament as frail humans and the mighty Power of God.  Paul tells us: “Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. . . . Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.” (Romans 14:1,4)  Call out to Jesus, He will stand in the gap of your unbelief and carry you.  Some can’t even believe this.

     The Gospel good news is that faith is in the small steps just as much as it is in the great leap.   Remember what the Bible says about Peter walking on the water; “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said,’Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind,  he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him,  ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat,  the wind ceased. Then those in the boat worshiped him, saying,’Truly you are  the Son of God.’” (Matthew 14;28-32)  We need to remember that even Peter staggered with unbelief even while he was walking on the water!  And it was Jesus who kept his head above water not Peter’s faith!

     A fully persuaded life comes about with many many small steps of trusting in God’s promises and calling out to Him to save us.  A fully persuaded life is a life of depending on Jesus to come through when you see the ‘wind and the waves’ all around you – when you start to sink you must call out ‘Lord save me!’  Jesus knows that we will struggle with doubt.  Those who prevail are those who call out to the Lord!  

     Faith isn’t killed by momentary doubt.  It is killed by living in silence; “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

     Praise the Lord!


The trouble with trouble!

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When people are in trouble it can get hard to know how to help.  That’s the trouble with trouble.  Performance oriented people, like myself, always tend to want to fix problems – the quicker the better!  Quite forgetting that people struggle with problems that have been years in the making.   People adapt to their situations even if the situation isn’t healthy and will tend to remain in it out of inertia and habit.

There is nothing more frustrating for a performance oriented rescuer than a slow response or even resistance to your best efforts to ‘help’.  Conversely, a person in trouble may not see their situation as dire or overwhelming as you do and not really want a change especially if it means that they have to give up something – like dope or alcohol.  Sometimes people can get as frustrated with ‘sincere ‘attempts to help them as ‘do-gooders’ like me get frustrated with their lack of response or resistance.

When trying to help someone you think is in trouble you need discernment, big time!  Pray for it.  Ask lots of questions.  Listen, Listen, Listen!  Most problems are not a crisis but rather chronic.  That means that you don’t need to respond right away.  There is time to pray, ask questions, check out the situation, talk to other ‘helpers’.  Sometimes a hasty inappropriate rescue attempt can make things worse.

A number of years ago, I was asked by a friend to help intervene  in the life of a long time alcoholic.  My friend and I went to the fellows place and tried to talk some ‘sense’ into him.  He was drunk as a ‘skunk’ while we were with him.    He had a long list of grievances, resentments and problems to rationalize his out of control drinking.  He didn’t see his life out of control rather the world had handed him a raw deal.  I asked him to stop drinking and he said he would as soon as he was done with his ‘six pack’.  He wouldn’t pour them down the drain.  Our ill conceived ‘intervention’ was a big waste of time for us.  Although, the fellow liked the attention, at least until I suggested getting rid of the beer!

Bob Lupton describes the difference between a crisis and a chronic issue in the following way; “Starvation is a crisis need; hunger is a chronic issue. Address hunger (chronic) with a free feeding program (crisis) and unhealthy dependency occurs.”  Making an addict your own personal ‘clean up’ project will harm you and it can also harm the addict.  Why? You can’t succeed because you are not the solution.  The addict has to come to the point of dealing honestly with themselves; “Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.” (Alcoholics Anonymous)

Until the addict reaches the point of being honest with themselves and others that they are out-of-control no one can help them because they can’t even help themselves.  AA’s Big Book continues: “Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas: (a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives. (b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism. (c) That God could and would if He were sought.”

Both the performance oriented ‘rescuer’ and the addict are in trouble if they can not let go of their own agendas.   Although AA’s Big Book speaks to the addict much of its wisdom can be applied to the helping person; “The first requirement is that we be convinced that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success. On that basis we are almost always in collision with something or somebody, even though our motives are good. Most people try to live by self-propulsion. . . . What usually happens? The show doesn’t come off very well. He begins to think life doesn’t treat him right. He decides to exert himself more. He becomes, on the next occasion, still more demanding or gracious, as the case may be. Still the play does not suit him. Admitting he may be somewhat at fault, he is sure that other people are more to blame. He becomes angry, indignant, self-pitying.”  (AA’s Big Book)

The trouble with trouble and helping people out of it boils down to providing support where appropriate without removing a person’s accountability for their actions.  An article on ‘Helicopter Parenting’ underscores this general principle:  “And therein lies the problem: how can we help our children (and our spouses, friends and co-workers) achieve their goals without undermining their sense of personal accountability and motivation to achieve them?  The answer, research suggests, is that our help has to be responsive to the recipient’s circumstances: it must balance their need for support with their need for competence. We should restrain our urge to help unless the recipient truly needs it, and even then, we should calibrate it to complement rather than substitute for the recipient’s efforts.”

The Bible tells us; “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”  (Proverbs 3:27)  Following this simple proverb will help you avoid getting to the point where you resent helping in the face of resistance or lack of change and your own exhaustion.  It will also keep you from judging which is a real danger to your spiritual health; “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke  6:37)  And finally when trying to help, learn as much as you can about the situation; “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment”  (John 7:24)

Judge yourself first!

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Romans 2:1  “You, therefore, have no excuse,<sup class="crossreference" value="(A)”> you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”

     How easy it is to look critically at the other guy!   Your neighbour’s faults are easy to spot while your own escape notice.  Jesus did not like this nastier kind of hypocrisy; “Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”  (Matthew 7:1-3)

    Don’t denounce people for lying until you have confronted your own lies and truly repented of them.   Don’t denounce people for being hypocrites until you have confronted your own hypocrisy and truly repented  if it.  Hypocrisy is the grease that eases the way for all kinds of judging.

     We have all seen lies admitted to and then rationalized by claiming ‘good intentions’ while served up in a kind of false humble repentance only to have lying be ‘business as usual’ afterwards.  My own personal and public testimony is that we all struggle  with hypocrisy; “Anger and pride drove my actions just as much as any notion of doing the right thing for His sake. ‘Tony is not pleased’ was more operative than ‘God is not pleased’ as to the inner motives of my heart.” The end state of the cancer of hypocrisy is when a person believes their own self righteous lies about themselves.  A pathetic fool is a  self-deluded fool.

   When we come before God who is Holy, the best attitude to have is that of the ‘publican’; “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.”  (Luke 18:13)  The Pharisee’s prideful attitude in contrast will kill you spiritually; “And he [Jesus] spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:  Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.” (Luke 18;9-11)

     The attitude of your heart has profound implications for you when you approach God.  Paul deals with this problem when he discusses taking communion in an unworthy manner.  Paul writes; “Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.  For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment.” (1 Corinthians 11:28-31)  When we take  communion let us approach with a heart cry for mercy rather than with self-righteous entitlement!

     The Gospel good news for us struggling sinners is you don’t have to be good to approach God. We can approach God because we are covered by Jesus.  Jesus is our advocate; “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)

     No self-righteous Pharisee can block you from God’s Grace or from approaching His throne as long as you approach with Jesus holding you upright.  No hypocrite can place a burden so heavy on you that Jesus can’t lift it off your back.   Jesus calls out to us; “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28,29,30)

     Praise the Lord

Visiting God, once a week is not enough!

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John 14:23 “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”

What a wonderful promise!  All we have to do is to show our love for Jesus by obedience to His teaching and He will come and be a part of our family.  He’ll move in and live with us.  His rules become your house rules rather than what the world passes off for morality. Fear of God replaces fear of man.  The home truly becomes a place of refuge, rest and restoration.  Many ache for that in a world filled with trouble even for Christians.jesus at the door So easy to want – to have God making His home with us, yet so hard to live it out!  In the good times when life is great we forget about God and in the hard times when tragedy or disappointment happens we wonder ‘God – where are you?

Why is this happening!’ Both reactions – forgetting about God when everything is going right and being angry with God, maybe even blaming Him when things go wrong – are immature.  Life has taught us that good and bad happens and we all get a share of both.  Often we think not enough of the former and too much of the latter.  And this is a result of not living with God! What do I mean by that?  Well, people tend to visit God – once a week, every Sunday.  Then they go home and live their regular lives until next Sunday.

We bring our children to church to visit God and learn about Jesus for an hour hoping that ‘it’ will take and overcome the hundreds of hours of TV,  video gaming and the general Godlessness of our culture.  That’s plain crazy! Religious people will tell you that the House of God is their particular church down the street.  They will go and visit God once a week for an hour (and no more than an hour).  If they are especially pious they will come to midweek and read His Word.  And sadly for some, that is where His rule starts and ends – in His house not theirs.  I know this because for many years I was such a person.

Religion can promote the opposite of faith by keeping God at a distance in His house far away from daily life.  It’s OK to visit every Sunday but don’t bring Him home with you.  If you absolutely have to be seen with Him during the week make sure you go to the ‘mid-week’. We need Jesus in our lives and the lives of our children 24/7.  That means bringing God home with us after church is not an option.  Bringing God with us to Church isn’t an option.    I mean living with God and being under His rule 24/7 is not an option it is a necessity!

Two questions come up – How do you do that?  And will it be hard?  I’ll deal with the second question first.  Yes it’s hard!   It isn’t easy to live with God 24/7.  Any married person will tell you (after the honeymoon is over) that it isn’t always easy to live with your spouse – 24/7.  Trouble happens, personalities and priorities clash and peace has to be made – sometimes over generous helpings of humble pie! And any married person will tell you that the rewards of persevering, struggling and getting to know your spouse is well worth it.  A good marriage is a blessing and they don’t just happen!  You could never achieve it just by visiting your spouse once a week for an hour!

Why do we think that we can have an intimate rewarding relationship with Jesus Christ on the basis of one hour per week? God, like your spouse, demands commitment in order for you to have an intimate relationship with Him.  Anything less is casual relationship and not a relationship at all. To the men out there who are husbands – what happens when we ignore our wives, when we don’t pay attention to them? They get mad!  Nobody likes to be taken for granted!

Any wise husband fears his wife’s anger – not because of what his wife can do to him but because of what’s happening to their relationship!!!!  We like to act so tough – I’m not afraid of anyone or anything – I’m a tough guy! The reality is I’m afraid of my wife’s anger BECAUSE IT TELLS ME THAT I AM HURTING OR HAVE HURT OUR RELATIONSHIP!!!!  Scripture says; “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.  For by me your days shall be multiplied, and the years of your life shall be increased.” (Proverb 9:10,11) This is what God says; “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”  (Exodus 20:3)

And now we come to the  question – How do we bring God home with us and live with Him 24/7?  Again scripture gives us the answers; “You that fear the LORD, trust in the LORD: he is their help and their shield.  The LORD has been mindful of us: he will bless us . . . “ (Psalm 115:11,12) Get to know God – don’t ignore Him; read His Word – daily, memorize scripture, pray,  follow His teachings and when you fall short – repent, give testimony and praise for what He has done and is doing in your life.   These things aren’t hard when you get into the good habit of doing them by practicing. Getting into the habit is the hard part especially as you tackle whatever unhealthy or bad habits are getting in the way.  Remember, Jesus is patient and willing to help as long as you are willing to go the distance with Him.  In all of this we have a helper that Jesus promised us; “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”  (John 14:26)  The Holy Spirit will work with you to clean up your life bit by bit!

And if you fail and mess up the Holy Spirit will help you be convicted of your sin and clean up the mess if you repent of it. King David, who after he really messed up by having another man killed and taking his wife for himself repented and called out to God;  “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence; and take not your holy spirit from me.”  (Psalm 51:10,11)  This was the cry of a man who truly feared God because he had hurt his relationship with Him.  This was the cry of a man who valued intimacy with God before all else.  This is the beginning, the middle and the culmination of holiness. Next you must practice trusting in God.  That is the hardest part.  Scripture tells us; “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.” (Psalm 20:7)  Praise the Lord!

That reads so well, sound so beautiful and IS SO TRUE.  But as you’re arguing with your spouse over finances, ordering your kids not to do the very things you did when you were their age, or dealing with a terrible illness in you or a loved one – do you trust. Or if we’re struggling with a combination of some or all of these troubles;  do we remember the name of the LORD our God?  Does He become our Help and Shield?  Do we stand on the promises of God?  Scripture tells us; “For every one of God’s promises is ‘Yes’ in Him. Therefore, the “Amen” is also spoken through Him by us for God’s glory.”  (2 Corinthians 1:20) And His name is Jesus and this is His promise; “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  (Deuteronomy 31:8)  Is this what you ultimately trust in for yourself?  For your children?  Do you speak this word into your life situation?  Do you speak this word into your children?

A few years ago my daughter Rachel was looking for work and she couldn’t get any.  She was getting pretty discouraged and my heart ached for her as she struggled through this trial.   My wife and I prayed for her and we tried to help out as much we could but the trial was Rachel’s we couldn’t live it out for her.  It wasn’t our resources that got Rachel through (and us).  Rather it was His promise.  I would often speak it into Rachel and into her situation – God has a job for you and He will see you through your troubles.  I said to her; “Keep on and have faith God has something wonderful planned for you.”  Although I couldn’t see what the future held for Rachel I knew God would come through for her.  And He did – big time – in all the areas Rachel thought she was missing out on.  Praise the Lord!

To conclude – I’ve got more good news for you.  If you can’t manage to bring Jesus home with you from church; if he isn’t in your home now and you don’t think He is likely to be but you think you might want Him to come home with you – HE KNOWS WHERE YOU LIVE!  He even knows what kind of mess your house is in.  He doesn’t mind.  He wants to come in anyway; “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”  (Rev. 3:20)

As you leave today, Jesus is going to follow you home.  Even if you manage to get your car out of the parking lot before Jesus can get in, He’ll just run along behind.  If you look in your rear-view mirror you may catch a glimpse of Jesus jogging along.  He’ll be knocking at your door.  He’ll be knocking at your door 24/7.  He won’t come in until you open that door – so why don’t you!  Couldn’t you use a friend and King like Jesus – I do!

When friends let you down

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Proverbs 18:24  “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

     There are many kinds of ruin.  A common kind of ruin that occurs frequently today is disillusionment about your ‘friends’ and community.  Sadly, there is a great deal of pretense in this world.  Some of it on purpose and some of it quite unconscious.  We think we know our friends only to find that we don’t.  A mentor of mine once said:  “Tony, you think people are your friends but some will turn on you in a moment when you least expect it.”  He was right and it is always a hard lesson to learn.

     How friends treat one another is influenced by the community they live in.  If deception and punishment are part of the ‘DNA’ of the community healthy friendships within it may be difficult if not impossible to develop and keep.  Everyone is busy looking good and pretending to be obedient to the authority all the while hiding their faults by exposing others.  Betrayal of confidence becomes rife.  Friendships suffer terribly;  “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.”  (Proverbs 18:19)

     Jesus knew all of this and urged those in His church to use the following as a first step for dealing with  disputes; “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.”  Failing that; “But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (v 16,17)  Toxic communities go right to the final step and use public shaming because in these groups it is all about control.

     If you see this sort of thing happening or if you are on the very unpleasant receiving end of this nasty kind of abuse, I have some good news for you.  You have a friend that will stick with you no matter what.  His name is Jesus. He has promised; “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8,  Hebrews 13:5)

     You need not carry the heavy burden of shame and guilt that toxic leaders try to heap upon you.  Anyone who tells you different is a liar!  Ruin can become restoration if we go to our one true Friend.  Jesus calls to us; “Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls.”  (Matthew 11:28,29)

    Praise the Lord!


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