Verse of the Day: Proclaim the Good News

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Proclaim the Good News.

It may seem like an arduous task, one that is better-suited to a pastor, someone with a degree, or even someone who is in the public’s eye to make such a declaration.  However, who were the followers of Jesus who were spreading the Good News with him?  A tax collector, fishermen, politician/zealot, and thief.  We all can spread the Good News of Jesus, who frees captives, brings hope to all and relief to the oppressed, and causes the blind to see.  If we desire to see a change in this world, reveal the Light amid the darkness and proclaim the Good News in whatever profession, community or situation we find ourselves in.

My prayer with you: “God reveal in us a way to show Your light that shatters darkness, allowing our actions and voices to be heard to those who need Jesus.  Give us strength in the situations to follow Your guidance to lead those we connect with to Your amazing grace, love and mercy that may otherwise be turned away.  It is only by Your hand that others can be saved, and I ask that you lead us as messengers to Your great work, Your hands, Your feet.  Amen.”

Far Removed

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.  As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.  For he knows our frame; he remembers we are dust.” Psalm 103:11-14

Rather than our sin being so far removed from us as it is written in Psalm 103:12, have you ever felt like you are the thing that is so far removed from God?  I have been in this state of mind before, and what a lie we can allow to infiltrate our hearts.

We tend to dwell upon the past, the part of our life that we cannot change.  We remember the paths that have lead us to where we are and, more often than not, the big potholes that look like craters along the way where we fell.  In these moments we can feel less than forgivable, less than loved, alone.  But do not stay dormant inside these chasms of our past, as that is what the devil wants.  Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33); and if he can do that, he certainly can be our complete rescue and redemption from our past.  Because of God’s love for us and the gift of our Savior, we can be sure that our sins are as far removed as the east is from the west.

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My encouragement for us this week is to move forward in whatever situation or state of mind we find ourselves, remembering that we’ll be alright with God on our side.

To take this thought a bit further, listen to “Power” by We Are Messengers.

“Just keep moving on
Just keep pushing ahead
Yeah, the new has come
All the old is dead
Just keep moving on
Keep your eyes on the prize
And that word in your heart
Yeah, we’ll be alright” ^

 

Take care,
Nick

 

^We Are Messengers. “Power.” Power (Single), Word/Curb, 2019.

Words to Guide Us in the Journey

We are in the summer months now and, at least in Illinois, the weather tends to be bipolar.  One day it is “sunny with a high of 75” (a little throwback Relient K reference for you) and the next low 60’s and rain.  At least for me, that is a perfect depiction of how life can go.  We should have the strength in faith to endure every situation thrown at us, but in the end we have moments where we fail in lifting our heads and hands up to the Creator.  More often than not, we tend to keep our heads down to not look our problem(s) in the face.

Searching deep inside ourselves, we are an emotional wreck.  Does any of the following conversations within yourself occur like it does with me?

“I am happy with myself when ____, but can’t stand to look at myself in the mirror when _____.”

“I’ve fallen into the same sin again, God surely has given up on me.”

Or have any of you had the feelings of loneliness, worthlessness, self-defeat, weakness, fear, impatience, or any other dismaying emotion?

You are not alone.  We are not alone.

The Bible is filled with God’s promises to us, reassurances of His ever-loving power and grace.  Below are some verses that I hold dear to myself and frequent when I am feeling frail or unworthy of God.  I hope they can help you through whatever you may be facing today or what is to come.

Verses to go to when we: 

  • Need to feel known | 1 Corinthians 8:3 ESV
    But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.
  • Need reminding of God’s mercy/compassion | Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV
    The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
  • Need forgiveness | 1 Peter 2:24 ESV
    He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
  • Need strength | Isaiah 41:10 ESV
    Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
  • Need reassurance of God’s presence/ability to destroy fear | Hebrews 13:5-6 ESV
    Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
  • Need help in listening to God/revering His power | Psalm 46:10 ESV
    “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
  • Need help with being satisfied in life | 2 Corinthians 12:10 ESV
    For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

We will have hardships in this life, but God has given us His Word that tells us of the promises, mercies, and Good News that can sustain us.

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Life is worth the journey because, in the end, we will be face to face with Jesus.  Give it all to God in prayer, and He will provide for all.

Take a listen to “Exodus” by The Lowly Heirs that walks through these emotions in raw, beautiful lyrics and music!

“I am your child
And in You I’m known
Within the storm
You are my calm
Be satisfied, be still, my soul”^

 

^The Lowly Heirs. “Exodus.” The Lowly Heirs, The Lowly Heirs, 2017.

Everlasting Joy

We are adults.  We’ve grown up and have left our youth in the past.  Yeah right.  We may have aged, but still have the same childish tendencies when it comes to our approach to contentment in life.  We complain when we don’t get what we want or don’t get what we feel is deserved.  Our attitude is still “give me, give me, give me” where, really, our souls should be crying out in thankfulness.  We are such an undeserving and selfish people, yet God has provided for us more than we can even comprehend.  You may be asking yourself how contentment can be found when life is throwing some pretty hard punches and putting faith to the test.  Maybe you feel that if you just had a little bit more money it would make life so much sweeter and much easier to find contentment.  These thoughts ultimately put God in a box, where we are defining the lines of what He can do.

When talking of contentment, there are two types of contentment: material contentment or eternal/provisional contentment.  Eternal/provisional contentment is being satisfied by God providing our needs and necessities; this type of contentment is everlasting and builds up our desire to pursue God for all His goodness.  Material contentment, such as that with money or physical things, will fade and can become a hindrance in our walk with God.

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Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5 ESV

Again, a contentment based upon our wants being fulfilled leaves us no more secure in our future provisions than where we started.  But putting our faith in God’s great provisional power in meeting our needs, our relationship with Him is strengthened as we see Him deliver His promises time and time again.  He cares for us more than we will ever comprehend and has already planned meeting our needs in the future.  We can find true contentment in all situations, when we pursue life with faith that He will provide.

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. – 1 Timothy 6:6-8 ESV

Finally, God’s provision is limitless.  He will provide for us in the highs and lows, the mountain tops and the valleys, and everywhere in between.

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:11-13 ESV

To put these verses in perspective, Paul is in a Roman prison where his circumstances are not what anyone would want.  He is telling the Philippians that he is thankful for God’s provisions, even in jail.  Finding thankfulness in the midst of despair is hard to do, as being discontented or having anger about one’s circumstance is the easier emotion to bear.  We need to remember God is faithful to provide and never-changing.  Therefore if He has provided for us in the past, then he most certainly will again.

Let’s move forward through the week with an attitude of gratitude and increased faith that He will provide our every need, every time.

 

The Star that Leads Us Home

Christmas time is upon us and with it comes this natural feeling of anticipation and excitement.  There is just something about snow on the ground, a crackling fire place and hot cocoa that just warms us the soul.  Beyond the physical excitement of Christmas festivities, there seems to be an internal yearning for this time of year.  One that is placed there by the One who makes Christmas what it is.

The Bible tells us of Jesus’s birth, which was long-anticipated and prophesied from the Old Testament.  Many of us are familiar with Jesus’s birth (Luke 2), but one of my favorite parts of his story is what happens after his birth with the three wise men (Matthew 2:1-12).  These wise men teach us so much about who Jesus is and what our response should be.

For centuries prior to Jesus’s birth, people hoped that the One who would redeem the nations would come.  These wise men lived out this hope and dedicated their journey to following the star placed in the heavens by God.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” — Matthew 2:1-2

The anticipation of Jesus was met with great rejoicing and joy when they found him.  This joy is what we experience when we accept Jesus as our Savior, redeeming us from our sins.  What an amazing gift we have been given, the gift of eternity’s hope.  Jesus.

After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 
— Matthew 2:9-10

Once they came upon Jesus’s face, they immediately started worshiping him.  They gave him their finest treasures as offerings to the king.  This is how our joy should be overflowing every time we come to Jesus, as we seek him out in prayer, singing/worship, giving, and reading the Bible.

11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.  — Matthew 2:11

We should share that joy we can find through Jesus.  That star that led the wise men to Jesus filled them with hope, promise and anticipation.  We can be the star to others who are in need of Jesus and the joy that he brings.  

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Hope. Peace. Joy.

The theme of hope has been continually brought to my attention this Christmas, especially through the music. I began to think about how Christmas is blanketed by the “happiest time of the year” and how that is not always true, as life happens. In the Old Testament starting in Ruth, the term hope is first introduced when Ruth essentially said she had no hope. The rest of the Old Testament has the theme of longing for and needing hope. And between the Old Testament and New Testament, there’s 400 years where God remains silent.

Therefore say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: None of my words will be delayed any longer, but the word that I speak will be performed, declares the Lord GOD. — Ezekiel 12:28

Guess what? God always provides and fulfills His promises. Christmas is the fulfillment of God’s promise of hope, foretold nearly 1000 years earlier in Isaiah:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.  Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. — Isaiah 7:14

Hope was given to us in the form a baby who was born in a barn with hay and animals, the most humble entrance for a King. As “Hope Was Born This Night” by Sidewalk Prophets says in the chorus, “Glory to God in the highest / Peace on Earth, good will to all men / Let all of the world sing the chorus of joy / Because hope was born this night” ^. When Christ was born, hope was restored. With that restoration and reassurance of God’s promises through the Savior’s birth, future generations can have peace. We can have peace knowing that Immanuel, God with us, was sent to this earth to teach us and show us God’s mercy, love, kindness and ultimately forgiveness by Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins. This peace, which is so often spoke of and sang about at Christmas time, is freely given to us through faith.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world.” — John 16:33

This peace leads us to joy. We can have joy knowing that we are saved through faith by the redeeming power of God’s love displayed on the cross. We can have joy knowing that Christ will come again for those who are waiting in hope for him.

so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. — Hebrews 9:28

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^ Sidewalk Prophets. “Hope Was Born This Night.” Merry Christmas to You, Fervent Records, 2013.

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Limitless God

We’ve all got our limits, right?  We feel this in strength, wisdom, health, and in any aspect of our lives.  But, God knows no boundaries as He created every little thing.  Yet, we find ourselves always taking the burdens of this life on our own shoulders and not coming to the One whose abilities are greater than we could ever comprehend.

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” — Matthew 19:26

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Look at where we are now from where we were, personally and humanity as a whole!  God created a perfect world and place for His children to reside and reign.  Then, sin came in the craftiest of ways and broke that perfectness into pieces (Genesis 3:1-24).  However, God’s power was not quenched; instead, He was able to do far greater than we could ever deserve.  Death was defeated through His Son, Jesus, who took our place on the cross for the sins of this world (Matthew 27:32-56).

Was God finished?  No!  Jesus was raised from the dead, when all hope was lost, and we are able serve the Living God.  God’s power was endlessly spoken of through the Gospel where the dead raised (John 12:17), lame and sick healed (John 9:1-7), and the lost became found (Matthew 18:12-14).

In our lives, we can look back with our hindsight in Jesus 20/20.  We are sinners who are in need of saving.  We have all made choices that were less than glorious.  Our path currently could be on the same road.  And if we’ve received that undeserved grace by faith through Christ, we are looking forward to the things to come.

Do you find yourself hoping for a better tomorrow in any aspect of your life?  Do you want to be freed from the internal prison of depression, anger, addiction, or pain?  GOD HAS MADE THIS POSSIBLE.  His power is limitless, so believe that He can do what His name commands.  You can be sure that He holds His children close to Him and will never let go.  There is nothing greater than our Father’s love, so lean on Him and just believe in the King of Kings.

Please listen to “Greater Things” by Mack Brock^ and let God’s never-ending power and hope prevail over your current trials and waiting.  We are His.

“You never fail
You never will
I trust Your name for greater things
You will come through
You always do
I trust Your name for greater things” ^

 

^Mack Brock. “Greater Things.” Greater Things, Capitol Christian Music Group, 2018.