Shelter

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” – Psalm 91:1-2, ESV

When we think of shelter, many of us tend to lean toward protection and safety. Shelter is something that many of us value and that we all want to find.  We think of Shelter in times of storm and trouble; we think of shelter in times of tribulation.

When we think of trials and tribulation, storms and trouble, we tend to think about events that can tear apart our lives at the seams.  It doesn’t always have to be a literal storm we are facing; sometimes it may be the storms of life that are bringing us down.  It could be that diagnosis that we unexpectedly got from the doctor that has left us questioning; it may be that fire that took away all our possessions, or maybe even the traffic accident that nearly took our life from us, or the loss of a dear loved one and the uncertainty of where things will go from there.

Whatever the trial we face, God has promised us that the outcome will be under his control, all we must do is trust in Him completely.  Why do we find it difficult to trust in the Lord with our circumstances?  Why do we find difficulty in turning over things to God?  Why do we wait so late in our situation to trust in Him when He has promised us safety and shelter?

Look back at the verse I opened this with, “He who dwells in the shelter…”  We are protected when we spend our lives within the Shelter of God.  But what does this mean?  How do we dwell in that shelter?  We devote ourselves to His word and make it a vital part of our lives.  If we embrace his word and allow it to infiltrate our everyday lives we can see this played out each day.

This doesn’t mean that we will always stay clear of the storms, but it does mean that we will praise Him through the storms and that we will have shelter during the storm.  He is our ever-present shelter in the time of storm.  He is our protector, defender, savior and friend.  He is our help.  He is our Father, who loves us and wants nothing but the best for us.

Are you facing a storm today?  Seek Shelter from the Almighty and trust in His ways.  Remember that He controls the storm, He walks on the waves, and just the sound of His voice will quiet the storm and provide calm.

“And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” – Matthew 8:24-27, ESV

This man is Jesus, let Him calm your storm.

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Missing Mayberry

I have been thinking lately about the simple life of Mayberry that we see on the Andy Griffith Show.  What happened to the days where we could be a community, where folks trusted one another, where people enjoyed a good church service and a get together where they weren’t afraid to sing praises to our Lord. What happened to these days?

We live in a time of corruption; we live in a time where folks have turned their back on the old way of life.  Many seem to have forgotten where we come from.

Looking back to Mayberry, I think we can all see a way that life could be simpler for us.  We must learn to trust the Lord and trust one another again.  The problem is, no one cares these days if they are trustworthy.  People are too busy trying to look out for themselves and forget to look out for one another.  We forget that we are to be praying for one another.  We forget that we are to be showing the love of Christ to others and we forget that we need to band together as a community.

Ephesians 5:15-21 tells us about what has happened to our way of thinking:

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

We must watch out for our steps, we must guard our actions, but we must also watch out for each other today.  We can’t be afraid to allow God to work in our lives.  We don’t have to miss Mayberry today, we can pray and get ourselves back to those days.  There is nothing wrong with the old way of life. What is wrong is our perspective.

I encourage you today to think back to how things used to be and see what changed.  I guarantee you that you are the one who has changed, the Savior is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Fly Like an Eagle

A verse that has always been a strong part of my life, and I know has also been a favorite for many is Isaiah 40:31 which states, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

This verse was a favorite of both of my parents, as well as a verse that became a major part of my life because of the meaning that we see in it.  “But they that wait upon the Lord…” is a promise for each of us.  If you can be patient and wait on the Lord’s timing things will fall into place.

To me, this is saying, wait on what God has for you; do not try to pursue a life that may not be within the realm of His calling.  Do not try to force his hand and jump head first into something without prayer and application of the scripture.  God wants us to wait for His timing so that His work in us can be made perfect.

This verse continues with the promise, “…shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles…” We shall mount up as eagles if we just wait.  We may be worn down and ready to give up because we just don’t understand what is taking so long sometimes, but today I encourage you to wait.  Wait because our strength will be renewed; our strength will be restored…we will be lifted up.

We will run and not be weary and walk and not faint…nothing can overtake us when we are patient with the Lord and wait upon his timing.  God has a plan for us today, and when we are patient and wait for that fulfillment we will be blessed; we will be restored; we will feel renewal.  Revival happens when we ask the Lord to move and wait on His move rather than pursue it with our own motives.

Fly like an eagle today, wait on the strength the Lord will provide and mount up with wings like an eagle.  Fly majestically and beautifully through the plans of the Lord in your life while pursuing Him and His timing.  Spread your wings and embrace all that He has for you today and allow Him to complete His work in you in His way and His time.

If we today can be patient, waiting for the Lord while working to live a life worthy of His calling on us, we will soar above all that will come our way.  Nothing will be able to pull us to the ground, we will rise above it all and become what He wants us to be, all because we were willing to be patient and trust in His plans.  Today, you can fly like an eagle if you put your trust in Him.

Better Days Ahead

I know that many struggle at times with uncertainty in their lives. Uncertainty of where they are, how they got there, and even what to do to get out. One common misconception when it comes to struggling with difficulty is that we have a sin in our life that has caused it. This doesn’t have to be the case; in fact, I would venture to say that in most cases it is not the situation at all.

Take a look at the book of Job if you don’t believe me. Early in the book we find that the devil felt that Job was successful in life and able to serve God because he had everything going for him:

“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” – Job 1:8-12 (ESV)

We see a couple of things in this passage that I want to focus on this week. First, that we do not necessarily have to have a sin in our life as a reason for why things are seemingly going wrong in our lives; it could be that Satan has taken notice of us because of our relationship with God. The next thing we see is that God will allow the testing of our faith, but will not allow us to be harmed in the process.

If you are following the will of God you will get the attention of Satan, because he can’t stand for someone to follow the will of God. Satan will leave you alone if you are already out of God’s will because he doesn’t need to work to get you where he wants you, but someone who is striving to live a life that is pleasing to God, as was the case for Job, will grab Satan’s attention and he will do what he can to try and cause you distress.

We can hold on to hope today in our suffering that we will be taken care of by God, and He will not allow us to be harmed. God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11 holds true in the story of Job, and will hold true in our story as well. God looks after His children, and no matter what trial we are facing, we have a promise today that it will not be something that will harm us. It may hurt when we lose a loved one, it may sting if we lose a job, and it may seem like our world is upside-down when life seems to slap us in the face, but according to scripture, all of these things build our perseverance and lead us into a joyous life with God.

The beauty of the promise is that we are given a hope and a future. We see that Job was doubly blessed in the end, and we can know that God will do the same for us. He will make our trials a blessing. We must learn to praise him through the storms in our life and take every opportunity to thank Him for the trials that are molding us into who He wants us to be. Today, take the chance to ask God to show you ways you can praise Him through the tough times in life, because, it is the tough times where we can see that there are better days ahead.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)

Faith: Not in a Floor Plan

One of the best movies I have ever seen is called “Simon Birch”.  It is a story of a young man who was born with a disability, but he continued throughout the film to talk about how God had a plan for him; How God would use him for something great.  Here I need to offer a spoiler alert for those of you who have not seen the film, and would also like to say that it is definitely worth the watch.

The film is about this young man who is searching for his place among the community…no one wants him, not his family, not the teachers, not even the leaders in the church.  He is an outcast because he is different, not unlike many of us.  Along with this, He continues to tell others that God has a plan for him.  Simon and his friend Joe are on a search for Joe’s real father, but the thing that is interesting to me is that this youngster has more faith than many of us could ever imagine.

It reminds me of the scripture in Matthew 17:20 that states, “He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.””

This is the type of faith that Simon had and by the end of the film, his faith allowed him the chance to be the hero that he claimed God had put him here to be.  This heroic act took a toll on his small body, but his sacrifice lived on in those that he worked to save.

One of the best lines in the film for me comes in a scene where the pastor of the church is telling him his “place” in the church.  Simon responds with, “Faith is not in a floor plan.”  I think we need to take that mentality into our churches today and realize that we cannot find faith in the layout of our churches; the “place” that we feel others ought to take in the church, or even the structure that we place into a service.

In order for our faith to be effective in today’s church, we must allow the Spirit of God to do the work that is necessary for us to carry out the plan that God has for our lives and for our churches.  We must realize that sometimes our “structure” is actually the very thing that is holding us back from growing in the Lord today.

I ask you today to examine your idea of the church, of the people of the church; take a close look at what you feel God should be doing and then take a step back and allow Him to do what HE feels should be done.  Today, we need to realize that our “Floor Plans” for the church may just be the very thing that is holding us back from fully experiencing the Glory of God in our own lives.  Trust in him today and allow Him to do the work He deems necessary, you won’t regret that decision.

Tune In

Radio has played a big part in my life, and I got to thinking about how with the old transistor radios how you had to work and work to get it tuned into the station that you were trying to pick up, but once you find that spot the static goes away and the signal that is being transmitted comes through clearly.

Working in radio now, we deal with static on a daily basis; our objective is to completely remove it from the air so that the product that you find when you tune in is clear and the message is presented clearly.  From the advertising that goes on our airways, to the songs and ministry programs we make available, all of it is something we clearly want to get out so the message is loud and clear on your end.

This is a lot like our relationship with Christ.  God is transmitting on a station that we must work, much like we did on that old transistor unit, to tune into for a loud and clear message.  I can think of one radio that we had that you had to tune in the knob to find the station, making sure it was on the right band.  Once you found it there was a fine tuning knob that would work to get the clearest signal possible.

Life is like that old radio, tuning in to the message that God is sharing, but the Bible acts as that fine tuning knob that will help us to get the programming loud and clear.  Our pastors also act as a second fine tuning knob that will help us to even better tune into the Gospel message.  All of this working together to help us hear God’s message clearly in our lives.

Today we need to take the words of the old Gospel song, “Turn the Radio on” to heart:

“Turn your radio on and listen to the music in the air; Turn your radio on and glory share. Turn your lights down low and listen to the Master’s radio; Get in touch with God, and turn your radio on.”

We all have a receiver that is able to tune in to God’s radio; we just have to know how to work the knobs to get the clear message.

John 14 opens our eyes to how this works:

“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:25-27, ESV)

Tune into the Holy Spirit today! Turn your radio on!

“Look at What I Can Do”

I can remember a few years back a comedy show called MadTV, and specifically, one skit of a “young” man named Stuart who was a glutton for attention.  He was always fighting of the attention of those around him, to the point that he would always come out with the statement, “Look at what I can do.”

While this was a comedy sketch based on the actions of young children and their desire for parents and others to drop everything they are doing and focus on what they are doing…it has sadly become a more troublesome situation in society today.  It seems that with the rise of social media, this mentality has become prevalent among youth and adults alike, with the sole focus of these outlets becoming to bring attention to self.

What makes me say this?

Let’s look at it for a moment…Social Media has become a way to quickly show everyone what we are doing.  We use it to brag about our jobs, our possessions, our accomplishments…or in some cases, to tear down others, while attempting to share our values and beliefs in a way that we convince others to see our worlds-eye-view.

Folks, while I realize that this is not always the case, I see that the reason our society is so divided comes because we all have quick access to sharing points of view and speaking our mind without a filter.  We have become a society that is more interested in tearing one another down through hurtful words and posts to make sure that others see how we were wronged and treated…however innocent and misunderstood a situation may be…all in an effort to boast about how good of a person we are, how well we treat others, or how much we have accomplished.

This is dangerous ground, and it is not a new concept to the world…in fact, James addresses this in his letter, stating that, “You BOAST in your arrogance, all such BOASTING is evil. (James 4:16)”

Paul addressed boasting (or bragging) in that he reminded the Church that if we should boast, we should boast in the Lord, because apart from Him we have nothing.  Being humble is a common theme throughout the Scripture, and we are constantly reminded that pride is a dangerous place for us to take up residency.  Proverbs 11:2 states, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but with the humble is wisdom.”

Be wise today. Humble yourself before God, allow Him to lift you up, and do not try to convince others of how great you are by the accomplishments that you feel are noteworthy.  Stop telling others how good and wonderful you are, and start telling them how great and awesome is our God!

Aesop may have said it quite well when he said, “Vanity pushes a man to ridiculous boasting and hypocrisy.” We need to take a step back and realize that our pride only serves to drive a wedge further between us and what God has for us…

“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5)”