Friday, 25 May 2018

In Whom is your Trust?

Lately, we have been feeling like the Israelites at the edge of the Red Sea!  It has been a very trying interesting time.  We as a couple have chosen to commit to faith in God and trust that He is going to part our proverbial Red Sea.  And, having decided to walk this path of faith and trust in God, we have had numerous scriptures and quotes that have encouraged us to do just that.  Yes, we feel we are doing the right thing... instead of making a plan, again, we are choosing to wait on the Lord, knowing that His word is good and true and tried and tested and thus.... trustworthy.

Is it easy?  No!  Is it worth it?  I have absolutely no doubt it will be!

Now, in a recent quiet time I was reading Isaiah 30.  Wow, what an encouraging chapter of scripture.  Judah was in the process of trying to form an alliance with Egypt for protection against Assyria.  And God says the following to them through Isaiah:
Isaiah 30 vs 1 - 3:  (1)“Woe to the rebellious children,” says the Lord, “Who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, That they may add sin to sin;  (2) Who walk to go down to Egypt, and have not asked My advice, to strengthen themselves in the strength of  Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!  (3) Therefore the strength of Pharaoh shall be your shame, and trust in the shadow of Egypt shall be your humiliation.

God is saying here that not only did they not ask Him for guidance and advice, they have not trusted Him to protect them.  He says that their "making a plan", an alliance with Egypt would result in their humiliation.  That is just awful.  In vs 7 Isaiah says that Egypt's help would result in nothing, and calls her (Egypt) a name that is a likeness to a hippo sitting on the banks of the Nile, doing...nothing!

Isaiah says to them in vs 15:  For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:  "In returning and rest you shall be saved;  In quietness and confidence shall be your strength." But you would not...

They would not!  They would not?!  Did these people not remember all that God had already done for them?  Well, um, same for us right?!  Do we remember all that God has already done for us?  Are we going to try another 'wisdom of man' solution?  Are we going to try another 'world view' plan?

For us, I stand right now and say NO!  This time we are going to trust God and return to His rest, and be quiet in confidence and His strength!  This time we are going to trust and watch what the Lord will do!


God was so gracious with the Israelites!  Knowing that they were going to go ahead and do their own thing, reap the consequences of their own actions, He says through Isaiah:  Vs 18:  Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you;  and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you.  For the Lord is a God of justice;  Blessed are all those who wait for Him.
(Italics and bold print mine)

Isaiah continues and says how the Lord will hear when they cry and answer because He longs to be merciful and gracious toward them.  And, when they choose to trust Him and wait on Him....
Vs 21:  Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it,"  whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left. 

This is what I desire.  I desire to hear the Lord, that still small voice, speaking so that I hear, "This is the way, walk in it!"  This is my desire!  To hear God speak to me.  So, in order for this desire to be met I need to trust God with everything that is in me.  I need to rest in Him, trust in Him, glorify Him and in quiet confidence, wait on Him, as a demonstration of my faith!  Waiting in faith is an action!!!!

I hope these scriptures have encouraged you as much as they have me.  Isaiah gives us the route to follow, the way to go, the "how" to live each day!

God bless
Tracy


My ABIDE scripture for this post is:
Psalm 25 vs 20:  Keep my soul, and deliver me; let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

James - Digging Deeper 2

Day 2 of our Digging Deeper in James has been really eye opening.  I have always enjoyed reading James.  I find it direct, helpful, practical and no nonsense.  But when you dig deeper, you find so much more to chew on, so much more to consider and learn, so much more that makes you grow.

This week we tackled James 1 vs 5 - 8: (5) If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  (6) But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.  (7) For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;  (8) he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

God tells us that we can ask Him for wisdom, but we must ask, believing that He will give it to us.  We are to ask in faith.  The author of the study guide we are using (James - Exploring the Elements of an Authentic Christian Lifestyle - Everett Hill) says wisdom is a tool for sustained endurance.  I like that.  James first tells us to hang in there, be steadfast, and then he tells us the tool to do so is God's wisdom.  When we choose to ask for and practice Godly wisdom, the confusion as demonstrated in a world of human wisdom fades away.  We find the ability to wait on God, to hear His guidance, to be able to determine the advice or still small voice IS actually His.  We find our path forward, through trial or not, clearer.


The morning of our bible study, the scripture of the day from a devotional I follow was 1 Corinth 2 vs 5:  That your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.  Such great confirmation that James is encouraging us to seek God's wisdom.

James also makes it clear that the asking of wisdom is available to ALL WHO BELIEVE, not just a select few, or someone of higher authority, or someone more knowledgeable, etc.  No, God's wisdom is available to ANYONE who asks in faith.

Everett Hill makes an awesome statement that God's wisdom is designed to supersede/take the place of, human wisdom.  If we choose to operate under God's wisdom and not earthly wisdom, we will find God's will for our lives coming alive and our journey will be victorious and joyful.

Double-mindedness.  The tossing and turning from one idea to the next, the non-committing to a direction, the not choosing, the not making a decision... yes, like the waves tossed and driven by the wind.  My Life Application notes calls it restlessness and that is most certainly how I feel when I cannot determine a direction for my life.  Fearful maybe to make the wrong decision, to not be hearing from the Lord, but basically in the end, getting no where in a hurry!!!!

The notes say further, "Doubt leaves a person as unsettled as the restless waves.  If you want to stop being tossed about, rely on God to show you what is best for you.  Ask Him for wisdom, and trust that He will give it to you.  Then your decisions  will be sure and solid."

I love how Matthew Henry (Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible) puts perspective on these scriptures:

  • What we ought more especially to pray for - wisdom:  if any lack wisdom, let him ask of God.  We should not pray so much for the removal of an affliction as for the wisdom to make a right use of it.
  • It is not said, "Let such ask of man," no, not of any man, but, "Let him ask of God," Who made him, and gave him his understanding and reasonable powers at first, of Him in whom are all treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  Let us confess our want  of wisdom to God and daily ask it of Him.  
  • He to whom we are sent, we are sure, has it to give:  and He is of a giving disposition, inclined to bestow this upon those who ask.  Nor is there any fear of His favours being limited to some in this case, so as to exclude others, or any humble petitioning soul;  for He gives to all men.
  • But, there is one thing necessary to be observed in our asking, namely, that we do it with a believing, steady mind:  Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.  
  • There must be no wavering, no staggering at the promise of God through unbelief, or through a sense of any disadvantages that lie on our own part.
  • A wavering faith and spirit has a bad influence upon our conversations.  A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.
This last point above makes the very valid point about our words and what we speak out.  If we are filled with doubt and lack faith, we will speak that in our conversation.  If we make a stand in faith, ask God for wisdom, and commit to that faith, we will speak that and our conversation will be rightly influenced and positive and filled with faith.  That will build us up in faith and those around us.

And so, we have been encouraged to ask God daily for wisdom, believing that He will give it to us, and thus we will not be double-minded or like a churning sea.

God bless
Tracy



My ABIDE scripture this week is:  1 Corinth 2 vs 5:  That your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.





Other posts in this series:
James - Digging Deeper 1
James - Digging Deeper 3 (coming soon)

Friday, 11 May 2018

James - Digging Deeper 1

Our bible study group, God's Girls (we call ourselves 😊), has finally tucked into our study of James.  We purchased a book called "James - Exploring the Elements of an Authentic Christian Lifestyle" written by Everett Hill, and along with our bibles, life application sources as well as Matthew Henry's "Commentary on the Whole Bible" we are digging as deep as we possibly can with prayer and sharing!

We have been at it for 2 weeks now (meeting once a week) and have dealt with Chapter 1 v 1 - 8!  When you consider Mr Everett covers chapter 1 in 64 pages we are doing well!!! 😏

In this post I want to summerize what we have learnt thus far. 

James 1 vs 1:  (NKJV)
Greeting to the Twelve Tribes
1)  James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad:  Greetings.

Here we learn that James is speaking to the twelve tribes, specifically to those Jews who have accepted Jesus as the Messiah, God and Saviour.  They were scattered all over and he wanted to unite them and encourage them as brothers and sisters in Christ.  And thus, this letter applies to us too, who have accepted Jesus as Christ and Saviour, we the Christian!

We also learn that James was a brother of Jesus.  They grew up in the same household.  When you consider siblings, and the usual spats, love/hate relationships they can have, it is amazing and humbling to know that James ALWAYS followed Christ, in life and once He was crucified and risen from the dead, James continued on in the faith.

James 1 vs 2 - 4:  
Profiting from Trials
2)  My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, (3) knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  (4)  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Another version of the bibles says that we are to remain steadfast.  The author of this study guide says that steadfast as a Christian is to remain firm, in the One who never changes, God.  And that steadfastness (in the context of a Christian remaining firm) is the ability to adapt and change and grow, whilst trusting the One who never changes.  The picture that comes to mind is of a little boat launching dock, which moves up and down with the tide, but remains anchored to the post in the ground, which prevents it from sailing off into the big wide scary ocean.  We are to be adaptable and not stubborn or reluctant to change as God would have us change.  Not headstrong and prideful.  But steadfast and humble.  


Another point made is that one needs to be able to remain steadfast, firm and true in the face of trials, but also to remain joyful.  The writer uses the analogy of  healthy eyes being able to see traffic on the highway as you travel, but also to be able to see the beautiful trees that line the highway.  We ladies added the birds one sees flying in formation above you as well, whilst driving! 😊

James encourages us to remain joyful in trials because we know that the outcome of that trial will make us better people, more patient, firmer in our faith, closer to God. 

  • We need to be thankful that God is with us through our trials.  
  • We need to be joyful, because we KNOW that trials better us and bring us closer to Jesus.  
  • We need to be steadfast, tenacious in faith, hanging in there, because we know  we serve a God who only allows things in our lives as they work together for our good!  
  • We need to remember that God, our Creator, loves us so deeply, He allowed His own Son to die for our sins!  Such love! 
We cannot but choose to do things His way, a way that James conveys in his letter to us.

God bless
Tracy


My ABIDE scripture this week is:
Phil 4 vs 12 - 13:  (12) I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound.  Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  (13) I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.


PS:  Watch this space for James - Digging Deeper 2

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