He Remains Faithful (May 12)

May 12

He Remains Faithful

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 68:28-35 | 1 Samuel 12:1-13:22 | John 7:1-29 | Proverbs 15:4

Today’s Scripture Focus: 1 Samuel 12-13

“For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own” (1 Samuel 12:22 TNIV).

“If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (2 Timothy 1:13 TNIV).

The children of Israel proved themselves unfaithful again and again.  Yet God remained faithful to them.

Samuel reminds them of their pattern of unfaithfulness.  While they had cried out the LORD for help in Egypt (12:8), when they got to the Promised Land, “they forgot the Lord their God” (9). A time of judgment led to them once again to repent: “they cried out to the Lord” (10). He delivered them again.

Despite God’s protection and blessing, the people of Israel wanted a King they could see.  They wanted an earthly King.  Once again, they proved less than loyal; less than faithful.

Yet God proves faithful to his people over and over again.  They may be unfaithful but he is always faithful.  Why?  Samuel tells us: “For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own.”

His faithfulness is rooted in the glory of his name.  He had by his own good pleasure chosen these people and made them his own.  For the sake of his glorious name, he would not abandon them or forsake them.  He would show them and all the world the greatness and glory of his name (and the character it reveals) as one who is loving, good and faithful even to those who prove unfaithful.  His chosen people may not always be a glorious reflection of his character and name, but the perfections of his character must never be doubted.  His faithfulness is made all the more glorious as it is revealed in his dealing with imperfect, unfaithful Israel.

How often the same thing is true in our lives. We prove unfaithful. Yet for the glory of his name, he will not forsake those he has chosen and made his own. We are his holy, chosen and dearly loved ones and he will remain faithful to us for the glory of His name. Indeed we proclaim with Jeremiah, “Great is Thy Faithfulness!”

Dear Heavenly Father, we rejoice in your faithfulness. Thank you for your relentless lovingkindness–for not giving up on your children. You always treat us better than we deserve with abundant grace and mercy. We come again to your throne asking for the grace and mercy we need for this day and trusting in your faithfulness to give us all that we need. Amen.

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He Bears Our Burdens (May 11)

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HeBearsOurBurdens2May 11

He Bears Our Burdens

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 68:19-27 | 1 Samuel 10:1-11:15 | John 6:43-71 | Proverbs 15:1-3

Today’s Scripture Focus:  Psalm 68:19-27

“Praise be the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves”(Psalm 68:19-20).

The old gospel song says it best: “What a friend we have in Jesus. All our sins and griefs to bear.  What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.”

We carry our burdens to our Lord and Savior who promises to daily bear our burdens.

Listen to his words of invitation:

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)  

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your…

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Stepping In, Stepping Up

I’ve begun a New Sermon Series on Titus at Big Trees Community Bible Church.

Introduction to the Series: Stepping In, Stepping Up

Week 2: Stepping In to a Grace-Trained Life–What does it Look Like?

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Let Him In the Boat (May 9)

From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

May 9

Let Him In The Boat

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 68:1-6 | 1 Samuel 5:1-7:17 | John 6:1-21 | Proverbs 14:32-33

Today’s Scripture Focus:  John 6:16-21

When they had rowed about three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading (John 6:19-21 TNIV).

The disciples found themselves in a dangerous place. They had rowed their boat three and a half miles from shore and a storm was brewing.  The strong winds started blowing and the waters were growing rough. Despite the seasoned fishermen that were among them, they seemed to be getting nowhere and were growing frightened.

Then Jesus shows up walking on the water. At first it made them even more frightened. But then they heard his encouraging words: “It is I; don’t be afraid.”

Immediately fear turned to hope and they took him on board.  Immediately they reached their destination.  They were instantly transferred to the desired shore. That must have been quite a ride.  

In their own strength, it all seemed impossible.  With Christ in the boat, all things are possible.

When we find ourselves in difficult places, even frightening places, we need to let Jesus in the boat. In his presence we find joy and strength. When he is there, fears are turned to hope.  In his strength we reach our destination despite the wind and waves.

Are the seas of circumstance getting rough and choppy? Do all your best attempts seem to be getting you nowhere? Don’t give up. Don’t be afraid. Let Jesus in the boat.

Jesus, I let you into my boat today. Calm the storm of my soul; the anxiety, the worries, the fears. I know that when you are near, everything changes. I put my hope in you today. Apart from you I  can do nothing, but with you all things are possible. Amen.

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Speak Lord, Your Servant is Listening

From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

May 8

Speak Lord, Your Servant is Listening

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 67:1-7 |1 Samuel 2:22-4:22 | John 5:24-47 Proverbs 14:30-31

Today’s Scripture Focus:  1 Samuel 2:22- 4:22

So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. [10] The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9-10 NIV). 

“I suspect that the difference between a person of seasoned prayer and one of smaller prayer experience is the amount of time they spend talking rather than listening.” Calvin Miller

Are we listening?  Are we really listening?  Are we taking the time to know the heart of the Father so that we know—really know—his voice?

In Samuel’s day, the word of the Lord was rare. Not many were hearing from God. Not because God was not speaking.  It was because the people were preoccupied with other things—and they weren’t seeking or listening.

Even Samuel needed to learn how to listen.  And the key to learning to listen is take the time to know the Father’s heart, to know him deeply and intimately.  And of course, we must wait expectantly, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

We are very good at talking, but not so good at taking the time to wait in God’s presence and listen. We, too, need to learn the lessons of young Samuel.  Take the time to wait in his presence.  Say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” and then enjoy the fellowship of a two way conversation with God.

“Those whose prayers are unending monologues make themselves a giant mouth while making God a small ear. The best prayers are dialogues of rapport.  Presence is being ‘with God.’ It is neither talking nor listening. It is abiding in the presence of God.” Calvin Miller

Speak, Lord, your servant is listening . . .

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Hold on to Hope (May 7)

May 7

Hold on to Hope

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 66:16-20 | 1 Samuel 1:1 – 2:21 | John 5:1-23 Proverbs 14:28-29

Today’s Scripture Focus:  1 Sam. 1:1-2:21

“My heart rejoices in the LORD; in the LORD my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies for I delight in your deliverance.  There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God” (1 Sam 2:1-2 TNIV).

When others would be tempted to give up, Hannah held on to hope. She continued to trust God for a child even though she had been barren for many years. She refused to give in to the disappointment of things seen and continued to look in hope to that which was yet unseen.

Hannah had many battles to fight as she held on to hope. She had to battle the circumstances.  She had been unable to conceive for many years. The situation appeared hopeless. Yet she held on to hope in the one who was her Rock and Deliverer.

She also had to face persecution. If being childless was difficult, having a rival constantly taunting her made things nearly unbearable. There was another wife who had no trouble bearing children. She persecuted Hannah and made fun of her. Yet Hannah held on to hope.

She even had to face misunderstanding—and this by a religious leader—when she went to the LORD’s house to pray.  Eli, the head priest, saw her praying and thought she was drunk and scolded her. Hannah politely set the record straight and went on praying. Being misunderstood would not keep her from holding on to hope.

She was a woman of prayer. She was a woman who trusted God. She was a woman who knew how to worship. All of this enabled her to keep her focus on God, her Rock.  

One day God answered her. She conceived. Her hope became a reality. She was able to rejoice in the deliverance of the LORD.

Don’t give up hope. Don’t be distracted from it by the trials, persecution or misunderstanding.  Keep your eyes on the one who is always faithful to His promise. Hold on to hope.

God of Hope, fill me with all joy and peace as I trust in you that I may overflow with hope by the power of your Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

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The Place of Abundance (May 6)

From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

May 6

The Place of Abundance

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 66:5-15| Ruth 2:1-4:22| John 4:43-54|Proverbs 14:26-27

Today’s Scripture Focus:  Psalm 66

For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.  [11] You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; [12] you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water,  yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance (Psalm 66:10-12 ESV).

Sometimes the road to the place of abundance is a very difficult one.  Often it calls for a time of testing and refinement.  The psalmist looks at the difficult road they have been on and calls the people to “bless the Lord.”  Why? Because God has taken them through the time of testing without allowing their feet to slip and he has brought them out to a place of abundance.

He recounts the difficulty of the time of testing.  He describes it as a net in which they were trapped (one translation uses the word prison), and how the times of testing feel that way.  He describes it as a crushing, oppressive burden on their backs.  It was as if men were riding over their heads—utterly crushing and devastating.  It was a time of going through fire and water.  We have all gone through such times.  They are not easy and they are not fun.  But God does use such times to refine our faith and our character.

They also prepare us for the place of blessing—the place of abundance.  Often in the nation of Israel, the times of testing were a means by which God brought his people back to himself.  The times of testing led to times of repentance and revival that led to “the place of abundance.”

Perhaps the crushing burden you are under will be just the thing to prepare you for the place of abundance. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t lose hope. Pour out your heart to God and look for Him to rescue from the midst of the fire and water and to bring you into the place of abundance.

Lord, give me strength in times of testing. Give me hope to carry on. Remind me that these difficult times prepare us for the place of blessing. I turn to you and cry out to you. Meet me here and carry me on to the place of abundance. Amen.

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