Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God


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Pandemic Perspective – Part 11 Fear

Not only did David look to the Lord and live with the Lord but he also:

  • Listened to the Lord vs 7-10

Psalm 27:7-10

7 Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me! 8 My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” 9 Do not turn your back on me. Do not reject your servant in anger. You have always been my helper. Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me, O God of my salvation! 10 Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.

David focused on God by listening to His voice over the voice of fear or that of the cynical critics. Are you going to listen to the Lord and hear the voice of victory or that of the naysayers who want to fill you with fear? As David meditated in God’s Temple, he mulled over God’s word. Which means that he took the time to chew over his conversation with God, so that instead of choking on God’s Will He was able to swallow and digest it. One of the reasons we struggle to swallow God’s Word and have difficulty digesting it is that we don’t take the time to chew it. Our quiet time with God should involve contemplation not just conversation. If we fail to take the time to chew over God’s Word we will end up with indigestion, instead of satisfaction we will have a stomachache. David chose to listen to the Lord which means he learned to let God speak, he didn’t try to control the conversation. How about you are you dominating the time and trying to dictate to the deity? Or are you letting Him lead while you listen? So often our prayer time amounts to little more than petitioning without paying attention. We dominate the time with our demands, ramrodding our requests without ever realizing what it is that God wants to say. Is there a place in your prayer life to listen, a space for God to speak? When we create space for God to speak, we learn to listen to the voice of counsel instead of confusion. When we chose to look to God, live with God, and listen to God we will come to know Him intimately. We will stop seeking a solution and start seeking the Savior. As we do, we will be able to look fear in the face and by faith like David voice the victory, “5 For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. 6 Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me. At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the Lord with music.” Which voice are you going to listen to the victor and live in the victory or that of the enemy and live as a victim? Looking to the Lord, living with the Lord, and listen to the Lord will result in:

  • Letting the Lord Lead vs 11-14

As David prays he acknowledges his need for God, which means that he is confessing that he cannot handle life by himself. When we admit our need for the Almighty, we will turn to Him and learn to wait on Him. Letting the Lord lead means learning to rely and rest on Him. This means that David turned to God trusting only in Him to intervene on His behalf with concern and compassion, verse 7, “Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me!” He also turned to God for guidance and protection, verse 11, “Teach me how to live, O Lord. Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me.” God desires to see child-like dependence, where we come to Him with all of our heart and say, “I need you!” So often we miss God’s peace and end up living in the fear because instead of going to God for help we try to handle things on our own. What about you are you trusting or trying? When my children were little and became sacred, they would turn to me and hold on tightly. Instead of facing their fears on their own they turned to their father and so should we. Verse 8 reminds us that we can be confident when we come to God because He is the one calling us: “My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” How will you respond to God’s invitation to come and commune, are you going to seek His comfort or stay in the chaos? God cares about His children; He will never turn you away. Sometimes we are fearful to come to Him because we feel that we have let God down and He no longer wants us. David expresses this fear as he says in verse 9 “do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger… Do not reject me or forsake me…” But in verse 10 he focuses on the truth and rests in the reassurance that God will never reject us no matter what! As David chose to focus on God his fears dissipated, and his heart grew confident that he would see “the goodness of the Lord”even though he had not yet received the answer he was looking and longed for. It is here that David gives us some of the greatest counsel concerning God, verse 14 to “wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart…” Like David we have many reasons to fear but we also have one greater reason to have peace. As we like David focused on the Lord and remember that he is the source of our Light, our Salvation, and our Stronghold we can have victory over fear. What about you, are you going to give yourself over to waiting on the Lord or worry?

 

 

 


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27. Test 5: The Works Test – Part 4

James 2:20-26

20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? 21 Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. 23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. 24 So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. 25 Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. 26 Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.

The third kind of works that reveal evidence of true faith are works that show a:

  1. Hope pinned on God’s promises (20-24)

A hope based on the belief that God will do what He says He will do. James reminds us of Abraham who was called by God to offer his only son as a sacrifice. As Abraham obeyed, God intervened and provided a substitute sacrifice. Now there are some sticky words here if you take them by themselves. Is James really saying that Abraham was saved through his work of laying Isaac on the altar? The word “justified” means for a person to be declared not guilty as if he had never sinned. But it’s used in two different senses. The first is the actual act of having been justified, the act of salvation, God’s grace given through faith. But the other sense of the word deals with being shown to have been justified. In the first sense, God signs the paperwork that declares the sinner, “not guilty.” In the second sense, the one whom God has declared not guilty produces the paperwork signed by the judge that declares him not guilty. The first is the fact, the second is the evidence. It’s the second that James uses here. He is saying, “Didn’t the fact that he was obedient reveal that he had pinned all His hope on God’s promises? Yes, it did. But what enabled him to do that? Hebrews 11:17-19 reveals the reason Abraham was able to lay his only son on that altar, because God had promised him a seed that would come from Isaac. God promised and Abraham placed his hope in God’s faithfulness to keep His promise. He believed God, even if He had to raise him up from the dead. Abraham exercised his hope with action, by cutting wood and building an altar. He obeyed God because He believed God. What about you are you hanging onto the hope of God’s promises? Are you focused on the problems around you or the promises that surround you? The fourth kind of works that reveal evidence of true faith are works that show

  1. Show service to God’s people (25-26)

James continues with his Old Testament example, which is not surprising considering his congregation was made up of Jewish Christians. He uses the example of Rahab the harlot who protected and provided for the spies that Joshua sent to scout out the city of Jericho. In Joshua 2:11 she gives her profession of faith as She said, “When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” But those were just words, was her profession of faith real? What did her works show? They showed her faith to be real when she gave service to God’s people. She became as a Jew just as Ruth would also later do. And, like Ruth after her, by God’s grace, Rahab is one of three women listed in the earthly genealogy of Jesus. Her works showed her faith by her service to God’s people. Her immediate service to the Israelite spies and her eternal service to the lineage of Christ. Do you risk or sacrifice anything to serve God’s people? What are you doing that will impact God’s church for future generations? If you don’t your faith might be dead.

Once again, we have been given a test. A test to see if your faith is real or not, a test comprising of 4 questions.

  1. Do your works show concern for the crown of God’s creation? Do you truly help the needy by giving them what they need most, Jesus?
  2. Do your works show total trust in God’s Word? Does God’s Word determine how you act? Does it fill your life so that it overflows into godly living?
  3. Do your works show a Hope pinned on God’s promises? Even though you might not understand the circumstances that God has placed you in, do you trust Him anyway? Trust Him enough to show Him by your actions?
  4. Do your works show service to God’s people? Are you doing things to serve God’s church? If not, your faith might be dead.