Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

Leave a comment

11 Weighty Words – Part 1

Isaiah 43:1-4.

“1 But now, O Israel, the Lord who created you says: “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. 2 When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. 3 For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt, Ethiopia, and Seba as a ransom for your freedom. 4 Others died that you might live. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.”

As we come to Isaiah 43 we find some weighty words about our worth. This is an example of how much God loves us. Our worth rests in knowing and believing that we are the beloved. Many of us spend our lives trying to earn God’s love instead of living in His love. When we try to earn His love we end up living exhausted lives because no matter how many rungs you try to climb you will keep falling off the ladder. Not only is it exhausting but it wears on our worth because instead of resting in God’s words we end up working to feel worthy. It’s here that the enemy of our souls shows up to whisper, “You are not a very good Christian, why not just give it up.” Unfortunately, many of us do, we listen to satan and give up on God. Fortunately, we serve a faithful Father who relentlessly pursues us with His unconditional love. He continuously calls to us saying, “You are precious and honored in my sight and I love you” Isaiah 43:4. When we listen to the words of the Lord, when we embraced this as truth, our whole world will change and we will walk in fruitful freedom. The satisfaction that we so desperately seek comes not in knowing who we are, but whose we are. It’s here in Isaiah 43 that we discover four statements that God makes about us, words that should bring great weight to our worth. The first statement is found in verse 1:

  1. You are mine.

This is a statement of ownership. Ownership that speaks of belonging not controlling. Satan wants to own you in a controlling way, so he can use you and abuse you. Where satan wants to own you in a controlling way, God owns you in a comforting and connecting way, where satan wants to break you God wants to bless you. The truth is that we all want to belong, even the Hells Angels who proclaim freedom and independence gather as a gang because deep down we all want to belong. Many of us fail to see that as the beloved we already belong so we go searching for something or someone that will accept us.  In our desperation to belong many of us become people pleasers and subject ourselves to unhealthy relationships. Women stay with abusive men because they are desperate to belong and be wanted, but instead of being blessed they become bruised. Instead of feeling wanted these relationships destroy our worth. There are others who no matter how hard they try never really feel like they fit in, which can have a profound impact on our self-worth. The problem with seeking human relationships in order to gain a sense of worth is that most of these relationships require effort to feel wanted. Instead of resting in the relationship and enjoying it we are constantly working to gain worth. We end up ruining our human relationships because instead of enjoying them we end up robbing them. We end up making the goal of our relationships feeding our feelings of worth instead of feeding the relationship. When we believe God’s word and what He says about us we don’t have to work to gain our worth. Resting in what God’s says about our worth protects us from all the destructive ways we go about trying to measure up and gain worth. Some try to conquer to gain worth, some seek it through personal advancement, some turn to possessing things, if I have more stuff I can feel significant, some try to find it in a paycheck thinking that money will make them feel like they have arrived. The problem is that no matter what worldly avenue you use to gain worth it will never work because there will always be one more hill to climb. The Lord is telling us that we do not need to be afraid of anything because he owns us, we belong to Him. He knows our names, He knows us intimately. He knows what hurts us and he knows what causes us to laugh, he knows all of our needs, and he knows our past. In spite of all of this, he loves us. Not only do we belong but second God tells us:

  1. I will be with you.

It is here that we see God’s power to protect. He assures us that no matter what we go through in this life, he is with us. There will be times in your life where you will feel like you are in deep waters, doing everything you can to keep your head above them so that you don’t drown. During those times you may not be aware of everything that is going on around you, but you can be sure that God is present with you. God doesn’t say if, but “When you go through deep waters and great trouble.” Problems are inevitable and God doesn’t promise to remove the problems He promises His presence in the problems. In Matthew 28:16-20 when the disciples came to Jesus after the resurrection scripture says that they worshiped Him and yet some of them doubted. They doubted the deity even though He had just come back to life and defeated death. Jesus responded to these doubts by both commissioned and comforted them. He reminded them of both His power and His presence, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations….And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” No matter what problems you are facing, whether fire or flood God has the power to protect you. If you are in the midst of a mess right now let me encourage you to stop focusing on the problems and start focusing on His presence. Are you weighing your worth on what the world says or on God’s word?

Leave a comment

10. Worth where it all began – Part 4

Psalm 139:19-24

“If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty! 20 They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. 21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you? 22 I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. 23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

After looking at the source of our being, the wonder of our being, the plan for our being, and the joy of our being now we come to:

  • The Inventory of our Being (v. 19-24)

As we get to verse 19 through 22 there is a sudden change that almost seems so contrary to the spirit of this passage and causes us to wonder where in the world did that come from? But upon deeper inspection it actually becomes not that difficult to understand. After reviewing how great God is, and remembering how much he appreciates Him, David realizes that not everyone feels that way about God. Some people actually despise God, they blaspheme Him and want no part of Him. They actually go as far as to oppose Him and His people. This truth bothers David and this is the reason why he takes this turn in the Psalm. What is interesting to note is that these feelings of hatred that David has for the enemies of God actually causes David to become introspective. Many of us get angry and we let that anger keep us externally focused. But this introspection caused David to conclude the Psalm by asking God to take inventory of his life. Why do we need times of introspection, because most of what is deep down inside of us is not visible to us.  A large part of who we are, what we are like, and what is going on inside of us, is not seen by others and can even be hidden from us. We don’t always know why we do the things we do, think the things we do, or why we say the things we do. Sometimes our motives are less than pure, the problem is that we have learned how to look good instead of be good. We know how to spin it and play the right cards so that we look right. If we are not careful we can deceive ourselves. What we need is to bring in some outside help that can give us an honest evaluation and show us if there is anything hiding in our hearts. What about you are you willing to let God take inventory and bring those problem areas to light so you can deal with them? The business that takes no inventory finally goes bankrupt. There are many people who are on the brink of bankruptcy because they haven’t taken inventory of their lives. So when was the last time you asked God to take a thorough inventory of your life? This is what David is asking God to do in his life in verses 23 through 24. We need times where we pause long enough to look inside and take inventory of our life. The problem is that many of us are living such fast paced lives that we never stop to evaluate until the wheels come off and we are forced to stop short or have a wreck. When it comes to inspecting we need God’s help to sift through and separate the pure from the putrid. David cried out to God, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” David took time to ask God to help Him take stock so that he could see where he was at. There is a great story about a boy named Jimmy who stopped at the neighborhood store and asked the owner if he could use the telephone. Given permission, he began to make his call. The owner couldn’t help but overhear his end of the conversation which went something like this, “Hello, Mr. Brown? I was just wondering if you needed someone to mow your lawn for you. Oh… you already have someone? Is he doing a good job? He is? Are you sure you don’t want to hire someone else? Well, thank you. Good bye!” When he was done with the phone call, the owner of the store said, “Oh, Jimmy, I’m sorry you weren’t able to get the job.” Jimmy replied, “Oh, don’t worry. I already work for Mr. Brown. I was just checking up on myself!” All of us need to do this from time to time, to check up on ourselves. We don’t need to call Mr. Brown we need to call the Lord and ask Him, “Lord, how am I doing? What’s deep down in my heart that might displease you? Is there any sin lingering in my soul that might bring dishonor to your name? Are there any ugly things in my life that I haven’t dealt with? We don’t always understand ourselves and so we need God’s help. Are you willing to humble yourself and ask for God’s help as David does here in Psalm 139? Are you willing to pray this prayer with David? “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” This is us asking the Lord to bring to mind those things that bring pain, pain to Him, pain to others, pain to ourselves. So that we can not only acknowledge it as sin and turn from it. It is asking God to help us understand our own heart, so that we can grow in God’s likeness, and reflect His holiness. David’s desire is to walk in the everlasting way, that is the way of righteousness which has eternal value. The way of truth that counts forever. David despised the ungodly because they had no devotion for God, and he doesn’t want to fall into the same pit as them.He doesn’t want to be falsely pious he wants to be pure. If we are not careful we can quickly become just like those that we despise. Are you willing to let God expose all those thoughts and attitudes, feelings, ambitions, desires, and motives? God is not going to get devotion from the godless people mentioned in verses 19-22. The question is, Will He get it from us? This is the thought that confronts us as we conclude Psalm 139 today. How do we hold up the mirror of self-reflection? By getting into God’s Word, because scripture is the searchlight that exposes the true thoughts and intents of our hearts. Let God use His Word to change you so that He cultivates within you His holiness, so that when the world sees you they see Jesus. I want to challenge you to take sometime today to do some soul searching. Invite God to inspect your life so that He can reveal what is ripe and what is rotten.