Saturday, June 30, 2018

In Him, No Need

Hebrews 13:5 NKJV 

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."

What a precious promise from the Lord. Imagine if we really believed it, how much happier we would be.

How often lately I have caught myself coveting, wishing I had a little more money, for instance. It makes me sick to even say it. Compared with the rest of the world, I have so much, how could I ever want something someone else has in order to be happy? The fact is that if I got that thing, like a fancier house for instance, I still wouldn't be happy. If that made people happy, then why are the rich and famous committing suicide? The real fact is, this whole business of coveting is a big lie from the enemy, telling us that God is not enough.

Not only coveting material things, I find it easy to covet when I hear about other people's vacationing all over the world, as if seeing the world would take away the dissatisfaction in my soul. I remember hearing once from my old pastor, "Wherever YOU go, you have to take YOU with you." So even if I jet-setted over all the place, I would still have to contend with the person I see in the mirror every morning.

It has taken me a long time to realize this is just plain sin, and to be able to overcome it by realizing how very rich I am to be one of God's children, to be a part of His church and His very own body, even. It is not about what I see all around me, but being part of an invisible Kingdom. And that is enough to cause satisfaction that the world and all its tantalizing temptations cannot ever take away.

The whole world seems to scream at us to get more, want more, promising us happiness but never, ever delivering.  "Grab the gusto," the world hollers. But still we yearn for more.

Maybe that is part of the reason why people are giving up. They realize it is all just a big lie but they don't know what the answer is.

Just one verse from Psalm 23 is enough to quell this anxious stirring to have what others have, to do what others do.
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." Psalm 23:1
The most commonly quoted verse from the Bible tells us the answer if we just took the time in our busy lives to stop and think about it. We could spend the rest of our lives contemplating what that single verse promises to the child of God. We don't have to covet even one thing if we have the Lord. Not wanting means I will always have what I need, not necessarily what I want, but what I need.

 The plain and simple fact is that we live for the promises of the next life, not this life. So we really can agree with Paul when he told Timothy in I Timothy:
Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.          I Tim. 6:6-8

"The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!" Lamentations 3:8

Friday, June 8, 2018

There is an Answer...

Let not your heart be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Me. John 14:1   

And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.  Matt. 28:20

Oh what a time to be alive. I see a headline in the Tribune Review online today. The rate of suicide in Pennsylvania has gone up by 34%.  Also today, I open to another a major news story online, a famous chef has followed a famous fashion designer in ending his life. These two in just the last week. Suicide seemed to be their only answer...but was it really the answer? Where did they go, once their heart beat for that final time? Did they find relief, or just another nightmare, one without an end?

Many people are running out of other options to the hopelessness and despair that they feel. Where is their relief? It is not in a bottle, it is not in a pill, it is not in food, it is not in money, it is not fulfilling the greatest dream of one's life. Those people tried those things, and they did not work. Still, deep down inside the emptiness remained and options ran out.

 Most of my generation would agree that the Beatles Let it Be is a powerful song. Seems perfect for this age we live in, They sang that there would be an answer.  But as much sway as that song held over me when it came on the radio, I found myself changing the words slightly as I sang along. Instead, I sang to myself, "JESUS is the answer..."

Maybe that sounds too simplistic to most who read this? But I would be in the same boat with the fashion designer without my Rock, my Anchor, my answer in a world that is running out of answers, that actually ran out of them ages ago.

Jesus is the answer. Just try Him, really. Take Him at His word. He will not make all of your problems disappear. In fact, He promised our lives would be full of problems on this side of eternity.

"What's the use in trusting Him if I will still have problems?" I can hear someone thinking that even as I write the words. No, the hard things do not stop when we believe in Christ. In many ways, our human life gets harder because Jesus is not welcome on this planet. His enemy has temporary control. Temporary, remember that.

But the biggest problem of your life will be solved by your believing in Jesus. Now, instead of drifting in a world of uncertainty, you can be assured of an eternal home with the One who created you. You will not face separation from Him at the end of your time here. Your problems can be the very things God uses to bring you closer and closer in trusting Him, in advancing your faith. Give Him a chance, I beg you.

In a devotional I love, None but the Hungry Heart, by Miles Stanford, for the day of June 5, I read these words:

"Not a hair of the child of God can fall without God's permission. Satan is but the unintentional instrument to accomplish God's will; he can do no more than he is allowed to do..."

If this were not true, how could any of us keep on trusting God in the light of everything we see around us? Last night I was lured into feeling sorry for myself for certain hardships I face in my life. Then it hit me, God allowed them. He knew beforehand the tragedies I would face. All I need do is to believe that He really does have this, He will bring good. And all the stirred up anger and frustration just melted away.

I now think of another song. This time, it is a Christian hymn, Only Trust Him by John Stockton. How simple the chorus is. So simple that the proud could pass it right by. But if any child of His will just believe, there is peace. Peace this world cannot ever give.

Only trust Him, only trust Him, only trust Him now. He will save you, He will save you, He will save you now.

I can let my heart be troubled by all I see and hear around me. Or I can trust the One who is unseen, and have peace in the storm. Jesus told us to do it, so we really can choose to not let our hearts be troubled. I give Him my problems, and He gives me peace, what an exchange. You can have it too.

Then Peter began to speak: Now I really understand that God does not show favoritism, but in every nation the person who fears Him and does righteousness (ie, believe in Him, my comment) is acceptable to Him. He sent the message to the Israelites, proclaiming the good news of peace through Jesus Christ-- He is Lord of all.  Acts 10: 34-37