Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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Pandemic Perspective – Part 130 Thankful Trust

Psalm 28:7

 7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.

There are many things that can steal our joy like painful losses and broken relationships, but the bible says that a Trusting heart is a Joyful heart. There are over 200 references to joy in the Bible and when I talk about joy I don’t mean “happiness,” because happiness is dependent on circumstances. Happiness is fleeting because it is tied to how we feel, like heartburn, from eating too fast that can make us unhappy because it doesn’t feel good. Joy on the other hand is an inward attitude that has God as its object and its source. Joy has a depth deeper than just feeling and is present even in the midst of pain, because the focus of joy is not the pain or the problems but the presence of God.

The real truth is that joy can still be a major component of our lives even in the pain and problems, when things go wrong and we are left with the heartache and hurt. Sometimes in those moments we are tempted to walk around with a plastic smile on our face pretending that everything is okay but joy is not faking happiness. Joy stems from a trusting relationship with the Lord that permeates our attitude impacting how we carry ourselves in the midst of the problems. How would others characterize your attitude? Do they see you living a life of joy, peace, and rest, or do they see someone who looks like they have no hope for today, much less for eternity? Which attitude do you think is likely to attract someone to the gospel? Why would anyone want to be a Christian if the one they see is sullen and grumpy? Imagine someone with a perpetually long face sharing the “Good News?” Have you forgotten the joy found in the truth of the “Good News?” Is it time to reclaim the joy in life? Becoming a person who lives a lifestyle of joy starts with:

  • Trusting God

A trusting heart is also a thankful heart. When we trust God we lean on Him, where does your strength and protection in this world come from? David did not face Goliath in his own strength and unlike his adversary he did not rely on a mere physical shield. David trusted in the true shield bearer the Lord his God and like Nehemiah he discovered something about God’s strength and joy Nehemiah 8:10: “…The joy of the LORD is your strength.” We need to release our problems to the Lord. One of the hallmarks of Christian joy is that it can be experienced in the midst of intense sorrow and loss. We may define happiness as the absence of something undesirable, pain, suffering, or disappointment, but joy is truly the opposite because joy is a response to the presence of something desirable, God Himself.

  • Finding Joy in the relationship.

Do you trust God enough to rest in your relationship with Him? True Joy stems from having God as its object and its source. If you focus on God you find joy, because joy is not found in circumstances but the creator. As you focus on God how do you view Him, do you recognize Him as joyful? In our journey of joy we need to see the Almighty not as a taskmaster, but as the God of the Universe with a smile on His face. Have you discovered Zephaniah 3:17? It describes how the God of the universe feels about you: “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” One of the reasons we have so little joy in our lives is because we don’t know God well enough which is the result of a trust issue. Joy is one of His character qualities that should draw us to God. He is not an aloof judge just waiting for us to mess up so He can unleash His fury, He has created us to be His delight. Have you discovered the truth that God finds great joy in you, He sings over you? Like the Good Gardener who toils over us with constant care, waiting patiently for His fruit to ripen and with great joy He longs to gather in the harvest. There is enthusiasm in everything He undertakes and sweet satisfaction in all He does, His joy is transmitted directly to us by His Holy Spirit who lives within us.

Will you take the time to think of all He has done for you in securing your salvation and in offering you a full and abundant life? Take time today to look over some of His wonderful promises in Scripture given so that you can live a life in close relationship with Him even though you don’t deserve it. Will you rejoice in your relationship today, not only has He given you breath for today, Ephesians says that He has given us every spiritual blessing in Christ! He has promised to be active in all of your life at all times, think about it, the great, awesome, mighty God of all creation loves you. King David’s trust allowed him to go deeper and as a result his heart leapt for joy, giving thanks to the One he trusted. Will you stop trying and start trusting?

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Pandemic Perspective – Part 129 Trusting through the darkness Part 2

Isaiah 50:10

Who among you fears the Lord and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God.

God wants to teach His children how to know Him apart from feelings. He wants to deepen your walk with Him and show you how to rely on Him through faith so you can experience true rest in your relationship with Him. As we go through the darkness we must remember that it is simply a pathway to greater spiritual maturity, God is still with you and His purpose is both redemptive and constructive.

•             What is revealed in the light is often developed in the dark

When do we seem to grow the most spiritually, during the sunlight or the darkness? When the difficulty of darkness comes knocking at the door of our heart we may moan but we also seem to mature more than at other times in our life. When I was in college I developed all the film for the newspaper and yearbook and so I spent many hours in a darkroom. To develop film you need darkness so you don’t expose it to light and ruin it.  Sometimes faith is like film, it is better developed in the darkness. As Christians we talk a lot about light, as we should, but there are some benefits to God directed darkness. So how does God develop our faith in the darkness? It is really a two-step process.

First, we are to look to the Lord as Isaiah 50:10  says “trust in the Lord” Warren Wiersbe said, “We live by promises, not by explanations.” We need to remember that just because it does not make sense to us, does not mean that it does not make sense to God. Also, just because it does not make sense now, does not mean that it will not make sense later. Trusting allows us to continue to stand on God’s Word regardless of what is going on in life. God’s Word never changes; it is one of the few things that remain constant through all of the seasons of our life. It has been said that where reason cannot wade, faith must swim. We must continue to live according to God’s Word even though tough times come our way. Will we continue to give our tithes and offerings even though there may have been a financial crisis? Will we continue to trust in the Lord even though we may not understand Him? Will we continue to attend and worship in God’s house even though through the pain? Will we continue to quietly meet with God even though our dry darkness? When we commit to trusting we continue to stand on God’s Word because His promises remain the same whether there is light or darkness.

The second step is that in the darkness when we cannot see we need to lean upon the Lord. Our human nature wants to lean upon answers but when you are in the dark, you need God more than you need an explanation. Answers are nice but they don’t always prop us up! The truth is that there are some things that I want that I don’t need and some things I need that I don’t want. Only God can truly discern between what is bad and good and what is good and best for us. Sometimes, God removes all the answers in order to give us Himself and a relationship is more important than a reason. Rely on another means shifting the weight and resting on them. As we rest on our relationship with Him we find that God desires to use us even in the midst of darkness. John Milton, in the darkness of his blindness, wrote Paradise Lost, John Bunyan wrote Pilgrims Progress while in prison for preaching. During John’s exile on the Island of Patmos he wrote the Book of Revelation. God wants to develop our faith and we should never doubt in the dark what God revealed in the light. The test of our character is not what we do in the light but what we do in the dark. It is more important to be with God in the valley of darkness than to be on sunlight peaks without Him.

•             Darkness can reveal what cannot be seen in the light

Isaiah 50: 3-4 says “I dress the skies in darkness, covering them with clothes of mourning.” The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will.”

As we look back we realize that in the darkness we have learned some great truths, these are what I call the treasures of darkness. Have you ever heard someone say, “The stars are out tonight.” The truth is that the stars are out in the daytime, but they are obscured by the light. There are some treasures of darkness that are only revealed in the dark. The stars are there to praise the Lord (Ps. 146:3) and they do it in the darkness. Do you have a star in your darkness with which to praise the Lord? I have discovered several treasures of darkness. In the light we see things that are near, but the darkness lets us see further. We may think our brightest thoughts in the day, but we will think our deepest thoughts during the night. We may learn more about others during the day, but we will learn more about ourselves during the dark.

•             God’s darkness is better than man’s light

Isaiah 50:11 says “But watch out, you who live in your own light and warm yourselves by your own fires. This is the reward you will receive from me: You will soon fall down in great torment.”

One of the most dangerous temptations in the dark is to light our own fire in an attempt to produce our own light. If God has ordained the darkness, then we must wait on God. We can wait with Him in the darkness because darkness can never overcome His light. Darkness cannot withstand God’s light, it runs from His light. If you do not believe this is true, then turn on the light in a darkened room and open the closet. You will find that the darkness is hiding inside the closet! If you are in a lighted room, darkness cannot overcome the light. Darkness can never chase away light. You cannot open the front door of your home and let in the dark. The only way that darkness can enter is that the light be removed. So, if the light has been removed from the rooms of your life, then God in his wisdom has allowed you to be in the darkness. If God is the One who has allowed darkness to come your way, then do not be foolish and try to light your own fire. Do not be deceived into trying to undo with a man-made fire what God is doing. Often the endurance of darkness is preparation for great light, it is better to serve God in the darkness than to be standing alone in our own light. Will you trust and lean on God in your darkness?