by pastor david
"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You."
The words of Isaiah in this text have an immense prophetic interpretation for a future day. However, these Holy Spirit inspired words also have an intense personal application for today. Three questions are addressed in this brief declaration.
1. What Promise has been Expressed to the Christian? "You will keep him in perfect peace"
The Lord gave Isaiah a similar promise in (Isaiah 41:10 NKJV), where we read, "Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." Jesus reiterated this promise to His disciples in (John 14:27 NKJV), "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
The peace offered here is "perfect peace". Implicit in these words are . . .
Keep in mind that this peace is conditioned upon our faith in and our focus upon the Lord. Therefore, consider the second question addressed here.
2. What Priority must be Established by the Christian? "Whose mind is stayed on You"
Upon what is your mind focused?
May I ask another question? Upon what should your mind be focused? When preparing to build the magnificent Temple for the worship of Jehovah, David challenged his son Solomon and the leaders of Israel with these words, "Now set your heart and soul to seek the Lord your God." (I Chronicles 22:1-19)
The Apostle Paul's simple and succinct injunction is, "Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth." (Colossians 3:2 NKJV)
In this hectic and hurried world, it is very difficult to make the time to quiet ourselves alone with the Lord and truly focus on Him and all He has done, all He is doing, and all He will do for us in the future. Despite how tenaciously the devil opposes our time alone with the Lord and clamors for our attention, we must set aside a specific time and a special place to commune each day with our Supreme Love, the Lord Jesus. We must speak to Him in prayer and allow Him to speak to us through His Word.
A final question deserves consideration as well.
3. What Principle will be Embraced by the Christian? "Because he trusts in You"
It is often easier to trust Christ with our eternal souls that to trust Him with our temporal circumstances. It is very hard to hear the "still small voice" of God when inauspicious circumstances are screaming in our ears. This is the point at which it is essential that we set aside a daily time to meet quietly with our Lord in prayer and the study of His Word.
Pray the Psalmist's prayer found in Psalm 119:18, "Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law."
King David's prayer in Psalm 141:8 is appropriate for anyone at anytime; "But my eyes are upon You, O God the Lord; In You I take refuge."
When our focus is on the right object, our faith will be in the right object. Our faith always follows our focus.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
in the light of His glory and grace.
Lord let the light of your Truth penetrate the darkness that engulfs me just now. Even when Your radiance surrounds me, I can only see far enough to take one step at a time. Please guide each small step I take today. Theses things I pray in the Name of Jesus, Amen.
"Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'. So we may boldly say: 'The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’”
Several years ago, I preached a series of sermons about various Bible characters that I called, "Lonely People". Little did I know that there would be many days when I would be one of those lonely people. There have been numerous times, even when a crowd of people surrounded me, that I felt dreadfully lonely.
Did you ever feel like this? As his UCLA football team suffered through a poor season in the early 1970s, head coach Pepper Rodgers came under intense criticism and pressure from alumni and fans. Things got so bad, he remembers with a smile, that friends became hard to find. “My dog was my only true friend,” Rodgers says of that year. “I told my wife that every man needs at least two good friends—and she bought me another dog.”
Loneliness is a growing problem in our society. A study by the American Council of Life Insurance reported that the loneliest group of people in America is college students. Is that surprising? Next on the list are divorced people, welfare recipients, single mothers, rural students, housewives, and the elderly.
Yet, I realize Jesus Christ understands exactly what we are experiencing at times like these. There was a time in Christ's earthly ministry when . . .
How wonderfully comforting it is to know that Christ understands exactly how we feel when that tormenting loneliness engulfs us like a dense fog on a rainy night.
What is a believer to do when he feels lonely, even though he knows he is not alone? The Bible teaches that there are three tremendous truths upon which we should meditate during these times of emotional despair.
1. There is a person to whom we can retreat when we are lonely.
(13:5a) "For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'"
The One who gives us this encouraging pledge is the Lord Himself.
This assurance comes from the God Who, according to (Titus 1:2), cannot lie. This guarantee comes to us from the God who is immutable (never changing). We are talking about a God from whose love neither you nor I can ever be separated (Rom. 8:38-39)!
Every believer can rely upon these words today, even though they were originally spoken to Joshua (Josh. 1:5). Notice in our text the personal relationship God has with us, implied in the words "I" and "you". God says to us today, "I want to be near you! I will always be near you. All you have to do is call out to Me and you will know I am near!" Jesus said, "The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out." (John 6:37 NKJV)
2. There is a promise upon which we can rely when we are lonely.
(13:5b) "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
The word "leave" translates the Greek word, "aniemi", which means "to send back, to relax, to loosen, not to uphold, to let sink". Two negatives in the Greek text precede it, which in English make a positive, but, in Greek only serve to strengthen the negative. It is literally, "I will not, I will not cease to sustain and uphold you."
The word translated "forsake" is a compound of three Greek words which, when put together mean, "to abandon, desert, leave in straits, leave helpless, leave destitute, leave in the lurch, let one down." There are three negatives before this word, making the promise one of triple assurance. It is, "I will not, I will not, I will not let you down, leave you in the lurch, leave you destitute, leave you in straits and helpless, abandon you."
All of this means that when we find ourselves in difficult circumstances, God will come to our rescue!
(13:6) "So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"
What a powerful testimony this is. Not only does the writer know these truths but also exuberantly proclaims them to all who will listen.
Make note of . . .
To point out how lonely people can be, Charles Swindoll mentioned an ad in a Kansas newspaper. It read, “I will listen to you talk for 30 minutes without comment for $5.00”. Swindoll said, “Sounds like a hoax, doesn’t it? But the person was serious. Did anybody call? You bet. It wasn’t long before this individual was receiving ten to twenty calls a day. The pain of loneliness was so sharp that some were willing to try anything for a half hour of companionship”.
Please join me in this prayer.
Lord, thank You for this wonderful promise. It is so encouraging to me today. I have always known that You would never leave me - especially when I am going through difficult times, but today my heart rejoices because I feel Your presence so intensely. Help me to be always conscious of Your presence in my life. Help me to let You live Your life through me today. Empty me of myself and fill me with Your Spirit. Amen.
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."
For more than ten years, the Lord has been repeatedly emphasizing one essential truth in my life. Again and again, from a variety of Scriptures, God has been teachings me one simple and yet profound principle. That often-repeated axiom is this:
All that God does or allows is designed to drive us to greater dependence upon Him.
The wise writer of Proverbs, in Proverbs 3:5-6, under the inspiration and superintendence of the Holy Spirit, underscores this truth when he warns us, "lean not on your own understanding" and commands us, "in all your ways acknowledge Him". This is the essence of trusting "in the Lord with all your heart".
We might be tempted to question the accuracy of the truth stated above in light of the all the tragedies, troubles, and temptations in the world around us. However, in spite of how difficult it might be to believe what God is saying, these situations should always remind us that there is a God who is still in control of this universe and everything in it. To add an exclamation point to the original premise and to help us see the scale of God’s control over His creation, the Psalmist said, “The Lord sat enthroned at the Flood” (Psalm 29:10). There has never been devastation on the earth as horrific and deadly as the great Flood, recorded in the Book of Genesis, and the Psalmist David said that God was seated on His Throne, even in the midst of this catastrophic event.
If God allows such things as wars, disease, tragedies, and upheavals in nature like earthquakes and tsunamis, then He apparently does so for a reason. I would never pretend to understand all God's reasoning in these matters but one thing is clear from the Scriptures. God wants the men, women, boys, and girls He created to live in constant and trusting reliance upon Him.
Again, I do not pretend to know all the answers to those questions but I know that one of the benefits was a greater dependence upon God in the lives of those involved. I also know that what is true on an international, national, and Biblical scale is also true on a personal scale. Why is God allowing you to face the difficulties you are facing right now?
Think about it. What has God been doing or allowing in your life in recent days? Whether the things that came to your mind were good, bad, somewhere in between, please know that God has a purpose for your life and a plan to bring about that intended goal.
However, His purpose and plan for our lives will never be realized to its fullest potential until we learn to live in complete reliance upon Him. As we learn to live with increasing confidence in Him, we are progressively "conformed to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:29). This always brings glory to "the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise" (1 Timothy 1:17).
With this kind of dependence upon God and His sovereignty, there is always greater peace and more sublime tranquility than you have ever known.
"Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.
For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'".
Moses first uttered this wonderful promise, "He will never leave you nor forsake you", to Joshua, as recorded in (Deut. 31:6). As his 120 year-old mentor, Moses was preparing Joshua for the enormous task that lie ahead - the task of leading the people of Israel into the Promise Land.
God Himself repeated this promise to Joshua after the death of Moses, just prior to leading the Israelites into Canaan. In (Joshua 1:5), God said to this new leader, "No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you".
This was such a significant promise that the inspired writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews quoted it in his words of edification and encouragement. (Heb. 13:5) "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
Most of us, who read the Bible with any frequency, are somewhat familiar with this promise but I wonder how many of us actually take this promise seriously and honestly apply it to our own personal lives.
If we do, then, why are we so often lonely? I realize that many who are reading this feel like you are alone.
However, you are not truly alone, if you are a child of God. When you acknowledged Christ as your Lord, He immediately took up permanent residence within you. He is there with you every moment of every day. You may be alone from a human perspective, but in reality, Child of God, you are never alone!
Stop reading for a moment and let that truth sink deeply into your soul. You are not alone!
Therefore, you never again need to be lonely. That sense of loneliness that you feel at times is God's way of drawing and driving you to greater dependence upon Him.
Hear His words in (Matthew 11:28): "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." He is calling you to His side. Turn to Him in prayer. Open His Word and read what He wants to say to you today. "For the word of God is living and powerful..." (Hebrews 4:12).
Christianity is all about a relationship with the living God through His resurrected Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. When you have that relationship, you are never alone and never need to feel lonely. Let that loneliness drive you to the right hand of God to commune and communicate with the Lord of universe. He is calling out your name. He wants to hear from you today. He wants to know how you are feeling and what you are thinking. Go to Him. Go now! You are not alone!
“I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.”
At www.dictionary.com, we find the official definition of the word, “conscience”. It reads, “The inner sense of what is right or wrong in one's conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action.”
The Bible teaches that our conscience, or inner sense of right and wrong, is a part of our original DNA. However, like everything else about us, that aspect of our DNA was polluted by sin in the Garden of Eden. The corrupted DNA has been passed down to each of us, from that day until now. It is a part of our “sinful nature” with which we are born and a part of us that needs to be redeemed.
In (Acts 23:1) we read Paul’s bold declaration, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day”.
Every person who has come to God and acknowledged Christ as personal Lord and Savior should strive to maintain a clear conscience toward God and toward his fellow man. A clear conscience involves that inner freedom of spirit toward God and others, that comes by knowing that God’s holiness is not offended by one’s thoughts or actions. It also includes the freedom that comes from knowing that no one can point a finger at you and say, “You have offended me, and you have never asked for my forgiveness”.
Far too often, when our conscience alerts us to our wrongdoing, we begin to rationalize. It is our natural inclination, because of our polluted conscience, to find other people or circumstances, which are to blame for what we have done. The greater our guilt, the more we must blame. The resulting bitterness and guilt are devastating to our mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.
It is essential that we recognize and confess wrong actions against God, as well as others we have offended. However, it is more important to discern, confess, and change wrong attitudes, which either caused or resulted from our wrong actions.
In (1 John 1:9), we read, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. The wise writer of the Proverbs tells us that, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy”. (Proverbs 28:13)
The only way to “live in all good conscience” is to keep short accounts with God.
According to Jesus, one of the tasks of the Holy Spirit is to convict us when we have done wrong. (John 16:8) The moment we sense in our spirit that we have done something wrong, we should pray for clarity: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24) God will immediately make perfectly clear to you what you have done wrong and will graciously forgive your sincere confession and repentance. Again, (Proverbs 28:13) is applicable here: “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”
The peace of mind that comes from a clear conscience is priceless. Knowing your sins are forgiven and that nothing stands between you and your Savior is inestimable. Let us make it our goal to “always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men”. (Acts 24:16)
2 Timothy 2:22
“Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
Some time ago, a very sad story was in the national news. A leading member of an evangelical church in our area was arrested. According to the court record, he allegedly offered a house he owned to be used for prostitution and was also involved in an invitation-only party for customers who were visiting the prostitutes.
Upon hearing this horrific story, my first question was, “How does a believer get to this point in his life?” One does not move in a day or even a few weeks from walking with the Lord in a close and personal relationship to participating in a prostitution ring. How does this happen?
A careful reading of the news account revealed what I believe to be the starting point to such aberrant behavior. This wayward believer was viewing pornographic material online.
Many believe that such conduct is normal, acceptable, and natural, even for a believer. However, nothing could be further from the truth. According to God’s Word, this kind of behavior is deviant and damning. Jesus said, “I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)
You may be caught up in similar activities and you might be saying to yourself, “But what should I do? I’ve tried to quit these activities!” Let me suggest three steps that will help you bring your sinful desires under control.
1. Get Right.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
You need to get your heart right with God before you take any other steps. You need to go to your knees and confess your sin -- all of it. Do not beat around the bush or try to dress it up with pretty language. Just call it what it is and ask for God’s forgiveness. Then make up your mind that you are going to do whatever it takes to prevent it from happening again.
2. Get Away.
“Flee also youthful lusts.” (2 Timothy 2:22)
In other words, you must separate yourself from anything that makes it easy for you to abandon your new commitment to purity! Perhaps you will need to get away from certain people, certain places, and certain pursuits that lure you away from your commitment to obedience.
3. Get Help.
“Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14
Turn to an older and more spiritually mature church leader and let them help you. Find someone with whom you can establish accountability.
Does the idea of a guilt-free, shame-free, deception-free life sound nice? Would you like to live every day without the fear of being exposed and ruined? Would you like to be able to give your spouse a kiss that is not also a lie? Would you like to go to church next Sunday without feeling like a hypocrite?
You can and you will, with God’s help. Say with the Apostle Paul, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling.”
“Where was God when I needed Him?” Have you ever heard anyone say that or something like that? Perhaps there have been troubled times in your life and, before you knew it, that very question came bellowing from your lips.
Well, the Psalmist felt the same way on more than one occasion. The background for the passage above is intriguing. The year was 701 B.C.; the King of Assyria was a man whose name struck terror in the hearts of those in the Mediterranean world - Sennacherib. He intended to expand his kingdom. He had already taken Israel to the north and then his Assyrian troops surrounded the walls of Jerusalem.
They hurled their abuse and sent a menacing letter, which King Hezekiah spread before the Lord. The King left it all with God and he waited. The ominous moments ticked by. Then God intervened! One angel, in one night, and 185,000 Assyrian soldiers were slain. You can read the detailed account in 2 Kings 18-19.
When the break of day came, the men of Judah could hardly believe their eyes. It was a landscape of death. The Bible says, “Behold they were all dead corpses,” (2 Kings 19:35). It was a red-letter day in the nation of Judah and this red-letter Psalm was penned to commemorate it.
I have no idea what you are going through right now, but God does. 185,000 enemies may not surround you but it probably feels like it. Well, not only does the Lord know what you are facing but He also knows exactly what you are thinking and feeling right now.
The promise of Psalm 46 is that, for the believer, God is our source of safety and strength. “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.”
His presence is the source of protection and power, so you can face your difficulties victoriously. We must accept this truth by faith and act on that faith, by trusting Him in and with every situation.
God’s presence is your source of protection and power.
Does life seem to be tumbling in around you? Is the battle raging? Is the storm blowing? Do you need to hide in the shelter of the rock? Well, do not forget that the Lord hides you, that He might help you! Follow the advice of the Apostle Peter, who said you are to be “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you”. (1 Peter 5:7)
Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Anxiety has been called “the official emotion of our age”. It is an increasing and universal problem – even among the followers of Jesus Christ.
Men and women find it equally troubling. Those who are old and those who are young find themselves pulled into the vortex of worry. Neither is worry a problem belonging only to Americans. Anxiety is a worldwide epidemic. Even veterinarians are now treating our dogs and cats for similar maladies. It really is “the official emotion of our age”.
Yet, God’s Word makes it abundantly clear that worry is unnecessary, unproductive, and unhealthy, as well as being a clear violation of an explicit directive from God. Look again at the passage above (Philippians 4:6-7). Underscore in your thinking the word, “nothing”. Now concentrate on the word, “everything”. Those two words give us a practical solution to the crisis of worry and anxiety.
We are to worry about nothing and pray about everything.
In his book, “Transformed by Thorns”, Dr. E. Stanley Jones remarked, “I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. I live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt, and anxiety. In anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath--these are not my native air. But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely--these are my native air”.
I am convinced that Jones has succinctly captured the essence of the problem. Is not worry the product of fear? Is not fear, to some degree, a lack of faith? Yet, the Apostle Paul challenges us with these words, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Today, I want you to be free from worry. God wants you to enjoy the liberty that comes from trusting Him with “everything” and worrying about “nothing”.
(Psalm 46:1-3) “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling.
The next time you feel that characteristic heaviness in your chest and you are tempted to worry, stop! Remember God’s promises and refuse to be filled with anxiety.
Pastor David Boggs
I hope these occasional posts will encourage and challenge you as we grow in Christ together.
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