Life’s little lessons

Nancy and I came home tonight and received some news that wasn’t the answer we had hoped and prayed for. To be honest, we were disappointed and a bit discouraged. So we pulled the Bible off the end table and read Psalm 34. As we read our beloved Psalm we refocused our hearts and minds on the One on whom we depend. We were reminded to extol the Lord at ALL times and have His praise always on our lips. The Psalmist tells us to, “taste and see that the Lord is good [and] blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. As we read, we were encouraged because “those who seek the Lord lack no good thing [and] as the righteous cry out, the Lord hears them, he delivers them from all their troubles”.

As I sat and listened to Nancy read, I was reminded of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir as they sang Psalm 34, so I turned on the TV, opened up YouTube and found this song. It’s amazing to hear all those voices raised in unison praising and worshiping our God, our King, our Redeemer, the Prince of Peace, the Everlasting One, the Lion of Judah, the Great I Am!

We go to one of those ‘hand raisin churches’. You know the type of church I’m talking about. There are those people who raise their hands during worship and they even sway to and fro a bit as they sing. As I sat watching this video, I was reminded of how weird I used to think that was. Then my mind drifted to another question. What will I do when I’m face to face with Jesus? He’s the One who saw me through all my troubles and heard my hearts cry and saved me from my sin. Will I just stand there stiff as a board? I don’t think so! On that great and wonderful day, when my eyes finally behold Him, I will fall on my knees in humble adoration. I will sing to the mountain tops with joyous jubilation, I will raise my hands and dance for the One who rescued me from the pit of my sin and despair. On that day, I will praise Him because of all the nights like tonight, when my soul was disturbed within me and His Word comforted me. I will praise Him because His Spirit reminded me to trust in Him alone.

Disappointment will come, of that there is no doubt and when those times come how will your heart respond? Personally, I’m still learning to depend on Him alone, I’m still learning to trust in Him alone. I’m still learning that He does have my best in mind even when circumstances disappoint me. I’m reminded of Psalm 20:7 “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” Tonight, I’m clinging to the feet of my master, savior and friend.I’ll post the video of Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir’s Psalm 34.

~ Brad.

 

To Whom do I Listen?

Have you ever had someone in your life that cut you down, who used ‘honesty’ as a weapon? Have you ever experienced the cruelty of ‘friends’ who made fun of you because of the way you looked or dressed? When confronted about their verbal assault their response is: “What, I was just being honest”. If we’re being honest, probably every one of us has experienced what I’ve described at some point and most of us have made it a point to remove those people from our lives.

Still, there is one who causes us too doubt, steals our joy, robs us of happiness and tears us down every chance he can and we allow it. Somehow, when our adversary, the devil, whispers all those nasty, vile and corrupt words into our ears we have a tendency to listen as if it were truth. What’s more, when Satan causes us to doubt the goodness of God and the love of the Lord Jesus, we listen and if we listen long enough we begin to believe the lie.

“The thief [Satan] comes only to steal and kill and destroy” and “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (John 10:10a, 1 Peter 5:8). Satan has one agenda, your death and destruction, it’s just that simple. He will use every tactic in his arsenal of satanic weapons against you and do whatever necessary to discourage you in your life and your walk with Christ. We need to be able to discern the voice of God and the lie of Satan. And, yes it is possible.

My wife, Nancy, has been in banking most of her adult life. She told me that in order to spot a counterfeit bill she studies the genuine bill. She learns how it looks, how it feels along with the markings on the bill itself. Once she knows the real thing the counterfeit is easy to spot.

Jesus is the real deal. In order to spot the counterfeit (Satan) and his pack of putrid lies we need to study the Bible, the genuine article. As we read and study scripture we get to know Jesus, God the Father and Holy Spirit. We learn of God’s great love for each and every one of us, we learn of Jesus tender loving mercy and we’re able to spot the crafty deceit of Satan.

While Satan comes to steal kill and destroy, Jesus said; “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10b). The closer we walk with Holy Spirit and learn to hear His voice, the more we learn and the more we’ll be able to understand that “no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you” (Isaiah 54:17).

Jesus is not the accuser. He does not condemn. Don’t listen to the lie of Satan when he says you’ve gone too far or done too much. Jesus said; “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Stand firm in Christ, rebuke the devil and live in freedom.

~ Brad

Hope the Four Letter Word

Is there really hope found in Christ? Years ago someone told me that hope was an awful word. I can’t recall his words exactly, but suffice it to say, hope wasn’t something he believed in and wanted nothing to do with. As we sat, eating lunch together, we talked of other things but I remained silent and said nothing to refute the statement he made. I’ve thought a lot about that conversation over the ensuing years. How could I have responded? What should I have said? What would you have said?Have you lost your hope? Do you look at the tumultuous waves that boil around you and sink into a pit of despair? Have you prayed in earnest, only to have those prayers go seemingly unheard and unanswered?

Here’s another story. Years ago I remember crying out to God, asking Him to take my addiction from me. I pleaded, “I know you’re able to do this, I know you can deliver me from this”. I poured out my heart in a tear filled cry to God because I knew that God, in His power, could deliver me from this awful snare in which I was bound. However, what God could have done instantly by His power, in His wisdom, chose to do something different. God chose to take me on a journey of recovery, one that I needed to go on. This journey would take years and involve a wife who didn’t know all there was to ‘know’ about me when she said; “I do”. This was a road I had to travel in order to learn about the One on whom I needed to depend.

During my journey I learned that God does care for me, that He is interested in me, and that He really does love me, in spite of all I have done. I’ve learned that His love for me doesn’t wain when I mess up, when I’m short tempered or fall back into an old habit. I’ve learned He doesn’t wink at sin and disciplines me out of His love for me, just as I do my own kids. I also learned that He loved me first, before I knew Him. Through all of this I’ve learned what hope is, what grace is and how much God truly cares for the broken and down trodden. God deeply and genuinely cares for each and every aspect of our lives.

It doesn’t matter what you face, how troubled your marriage, or how far astray your kids have gone. Do you struggle with addiction, fear, depression, anger, guilt or unbelief? There is no wound so raw, no heart so broken, or a hole so deep that the love of Jesus cannot go deeper still. There is hope and it’s not a four letter word. It’s actually a five letter name – Jesus.

Recently, I came across this statement: “My experience trumps your argument”. So, in my experience, hope is a marvelous thing, despite what men may say. No matter what you face today or the trying circumstances you find yourself in, Jesus is hope. In Him there is no darkness (1 John 1:5), in Him there is peace (Colossians 3:15, Philippians 4:7) and in knowing Him, you can find the peace you’re searching for.

I’ll end with Ephesians 3:18-20, which says: And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

~ Brad