VIDEO Unexpected Faith

However, our God turned the curse into a blessing. Nehemiah 13:2

Maybe you’ve noticed the trend in men’s socks. While some are still black or conservative, some men sport socks that are bright, striped, tie-dyed, or colorfully designed. When taken off and turned inside out, they’re a mess of strings and snarls. But turned outside in, they’re back to normal and ready to wear.

As we walk through life, we encounter a lot of problems, but think of them as socks turned inside out. To us, they’re a tangle. Maybe you have a situation right now that appears to be a jumble of snags and confused knots. But God knows how to turn things around and bring blessings out of curses.

We have to exercise unexpected faith to gain unexpected blessings. We have to trust God when things go wrong, and that involves a decision. Instead of living in constant panic, we have to say, “Lord, here is a curse, but I’m going to trust You to turn it into a blessing. I’ll wait on You, trust in You, and lean on You with all my heart.” That’s the faith that pleases God.

The circumstances surrounding our lives are no accident: They may be the work of evil, but that evil is held firmly within the mighty hand of our sovereign God. Margaret Clarkson


Nehemiah 13

Our Safest Place

God is our refuge and strength. Psalm 46:1

As Hurricane Florence was bearing down on Wilmington, North Carolina, with devastating force, my daughter prepared to leave her home. She’d waited until the last moment, hoping the storm would veer away. But now she was hurriedly sorting through important papers, pictures, and belongings, trying to decide what to take with her. “I didn’t expect it would be so hard to leave,” she told me later, “but in that moment I didn’t know if anything would be there when I got back.”

Life’s storms come in many forms: hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, unexpected problems in marriage or with children, the sudden loss of health or finances. So much we value can be swept away in a moment.

Amid the storms, Scripture points us to the safest place: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way” (Psalm 46:1–2).

The writers of this psalm were descendants of a man who generations earlier served God but then rebelled against Him and perished in an earthquake (see Numbers 26:9–11). The outlook they share shows humility and a profound understanding of God’s greatness, compassion, and redeeming love.

Troubles come, but God outlasts them all. Those who run to the Savior discover that He can’t be shaken. In the arms of His eternal love we find our place of peace.

By: James Banks

Reflect & Pray

Amid life’s unpredictable storms, how does God give you peace? How do you intend to run to Him today?

O God, the One who is greater than the storm, help me to place every fear in Your hands today and to rest in Your unfailing love.

Heart of Worship

Psalm 95

See if you identify with this scenario: You go to church and sing the songs, but you aren’t really paying attention to the words or their meaning. The pastor stands up to pray, and your mind begins to wander. During the sermon, you become distracted and miss a large part of the message.

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? It’s a common experience and has been for a long time: Isaiah denounced the Israelites for honoring the Lord with their lips while their hearts were far from Him (Isa. 29:13). As children of God, we must take this seriously and consider whether we are actually worshipping the Lord or just going through the motions.

To truly worship, we must do more than mouth words of praise and look attentive. Our minds should be set on the Lord, not lesser things. Like the psalmist, our entire inner being should be engaged in both exaltation of the Lord and humble submission to Him as our Maker and Shepherd.

Genuine worship also requires a heart of faith and a disposition of obedience to God. It would be difficult for unbelievers to worship the Lord, because they don’t have the Holy Spirit and cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). Nor does God find worship acceptable from believers who cling unrepentantly to sin (Ps. 66:18). Drawing near to Him requires clean hands and a pure heart, which is possible only through Jesus Christ (Ps. 24:3-4).

The goal of worship is to glorify God, and it begins with our attitude. We must come into His presence with a repentant and humble heart, a mind focused on Him, and a life that demonstrates obedience.

Continue To Guard Your Heart

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

The Hebrew word nasar, here translated “keep,” carries the strong idea of protection or guarding. It is used 10 times in Psalm 119 to stress the necessity of “keeping” (guarding, protecting) the various kinds of instructions in God’s Word: “testimonies, statutes, laws, precepts, and commandments.” Everything written down by God is worth guarding.

In our text, the importance of guarding our hearts is emphasized since it is the source for the “issues of life.” Jesus said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh” (Luke 6:45). Our “heart” is indeed the key to much in our life.

It is no wonder that the first commandment of all is to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” (Mark 12:30).

Here are a few important principles that we must guard if our hearts are to produce the good “issues of life.”

  • If we seek God with all our hearts, we will find Him (Deuteronomy 4:29; Jeremiah 29:13).
  • We must believe with our hearts if we are to be saved (Romans 10:9; Hebrews 11:6).
  • If we hold on to iniquity in our hearts, God will not hear our prayers (Psalm 66:18; Isaiah 59:1-2).
  • If our hearts do not condemn us, then we will have confidence with God (1 John 3:21).

“He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart” (Psalm 15:2) will live forever with the Lord of heaven and earth. HMM III

Irreconcilably Hostility

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

—Ephesians 6:12

In the early days, when Christianity exercised a dominant influence over American thinking, men and women conceived the world to be a battleground. Our fathers believed in sin and the devil and hell as constituting one force, and they believed in God and righteousness and heaven as the other. By their very nature, these forces were opposed to each other forever in deep, grave, irreconcilable hostility. Humans, our fathers held, had to choose sides—they could not be neutral. For them it must be life or death, heaven or hell, and if they chose to come out on God’s side they could expect open war with God’s enemies. The fight would be real and deadly and would last as long as life continued here below….

How different today. The fact remains the same, but the interpretation has changed completely. People think of the world, not as a battleground, but as a playground. We are not here to fight; we are here to frolic. We are not in a foreign land; we are at home. We are not getting ready to live, but we are already living, and the best we can do is rid ourselves of our inhibitions and our frustrations and live this life to the full.   TWP004-005

Help me to be willing to take a stand for righteousness, to choose clearly to be on Your side against the enemy, to pay any priceand then to look forward to laying down my sword later in heaven. Amen.

 

Giving thanks unto the Father

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.—Colossians 1:12.

 

Not their own, ah! not from, earth was flowing

That high strain to which their souls were tuned;

Year by year we saw them inly growing

Liker Him with whom their hearts communed.

Then to Him they passed, but still unbroken,

Age to age, lasts on that goodly line,

Whose pure lives are, more than all words spoken,

Earth’s best witness to the life divine.

John Campbell Shairp.

 

Only to remember that such have been, that we walked for a season with them, is a chastening, a purifying, yea, and however much we may miss and mourn them, a gladdening thought.

Richard Chenevix Trench.

 

The beatitude of the Saints is the matured result of the long course of patient strivings, which may have passed wholly unobserved because of their minuteness. One step has followed another in the mysterious progress, of daily, hourly acts, each seeming to pass away, as footprints on the sand are obliterated by the advancing tide; but the end is the Vision of God, and the recompense is the perfection of a nature made one with the Mind of God.

T. T. Carter.

 

Our Heavenly Wealth

“No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” Ps. 84:11

Many pleasing things the Lord may withhold, but no good thing.” He is the best judge of what is good for us. Some things are assuredly good, and these we may have for the asking through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Holiness is a good thing, and this He will work in us freely. Victory over evil tendencies, strong tempers, and evil habits, He will gladly grant, and we ought not to remain without it.

Full assurance He will bestow, and near communion with Himself, and access into all truth, and boldness with prevalence at the mercy seat. If we have not these, it is from want of faith to receive, and not from any unwillingness of God to give. A calm, a heavenly frame, great patience, and fervent love — all these will He give to holy diligence.

But note well that we must “walk uprightly.” There must be no cross purposes and crooked dealings; no hypocrisy nor deceit. If we walk foully God cannot give us favors, for that would be a premium upon sin. The way of uprightness is the way of heavenly wealth — wealth so large as to include every good thing.

What a promise to plead in prayer! Let us get to our knees.