Saturday In The Psalms—In Over My Head!

Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck! (Psalm 69)

Not just up to David’s neck, but he felt like he was in over his head! Ever been there? You feel like…

  • …there’s no solid ground to stand on
  • …you’re stuck in deep muck
  • …the floodwaters are rising fast

David cried himself dry and hoarse because of the troubles ganging up on him!

One of David’s motivations in asking God for help was not just to alleviate his own suffering, but to not be a burden to other God-followers—“Let not those who wait for You, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed because of me; let not those who seek You be confounded because of me, O God of Israel.”

So David made his prayer to God, believing that God would completely vindicate and rescue him. And as he prayed, he praised—“Let Your salvation, O God, set me up on high. I will praise the name of God with a song, and I will magnify Him with thanksgiving.”

When you’re in over your head, there’s nowhere else to look but up! 

Our prayer: Holy Spirit, when I feel like I’m in over my head, may You remind me to lift up my prayer and my praise to my Savior. Don’t let other God-followers be ashamed because of me, but let my deliverance be the reason they continue to look expectantly to You!

Saturday In The Psalms—Do The “Dos”

…because of evildoer… (Psalm 37)

Not one person on earth can escape from having an evildoer cross their path. The question is not IF we’ll have to deal with them, but HOW we should deal with them. For the one who follows God, here is what David writes to us.

Don’t

  • Fret over evildoers
  • Be envious of them
  • Get angry because of them
  • Do evil things back to them

Do

  • Trust God to handle them
  • Do good to them
  • Find your delight in God’s goodness
  • Commit your lifestyle to God
  • Rest in God’s grace
  • Be patient with evildoers
  • Be content with where God has you
  • Extend mercy to evildoers
  • Keep on following God’s way of doing things

The bottom line for those doing the “Dos”—And the Lord shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in Him.

When evildoers cross your path, don’t just avoid the “Don’ts” … do the “Dos”!

Poetry Saturday—The Monster Death

Break off your tears, ye saints, and tell
How high your great Deliverer reigns;
Sing how He spoiled the hosts of hell,
And led the monster death in chains:
Say, Live forever, wondrous King!
Born to redeem, and strong to save;
Then ask the monster, Where’s thy sting?
And, Where’s thy victory, boasting grave? —Isaac Watts

Pray Like Jesus

Private prayerThere’s a really interesting story recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. It’s the one where a father brings his demon-possessed boy to nine of Jesus’ disciples to ask for their help. But the father sadly reports back to Jesus, “But they could not help.”

Jesus calls His disciples out. He says that their faith is lacking. Even the boy’s father is short on faith. He says to Jesus, “If you can do anything, please help us.” To which Jesus says, “‘If you can’? Anything is possible if you believe.” Jesus rebukes the demon, which immediately comes out of the boy.

Now here’s the interesting part: His disciples asked Him, “Why couldn’t we do that?” Jesus says, “This kind comes out only by prayer.” Let’s review all the words Jesus said to the father and his boy:

  • “How long has he been like this?”
  • “‘If you can’? Anything is possible if you believe.”
  • “Demon, come out of him and never enter again.”

So here’s my question―Jesus said the demon was cast out by prayer. So when did Jesus pray? Look at those words He said again … which of those was His prayer?

Actually, if you look through all four gospels you won’t find Jesus laying His hands on people and saying, “Heavenly Father, will You please heal this leprosy?” Or, “Please bring life back into this little girl.” Instead He says, “Be clean” or “Little girl, get up.

So I ask again: When did Jesus pray? The answer is―He prayed all the time.

  • Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed. (Mark 1:35)
  • After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone. (Matthew 14:23)
  • But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16)

Do you want to pray like Jesus? He prayed all the time. He had times of prayer with His Heavenly Father, but He was in unbroken communication with Him.

Private prayer leads to public power! 

That’s how we can pray like Jesus!

We will be learning more about prayer in our series The Prayers Of Elisha next Sunday. Please join us!

8 Quotes From “The Christian’s Secret Of A Happy Life”

The Christian's SecretSometimes people slap the label “timeless classic” on a book just because it’s old. But in the case of The Christian’s Secret Of A Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith, the label is well-deserved. The thoughts she shares are so biblically-grounded that they truly are timeless. You can read my full book review by clicking here. I highlighted way too many things to share them all, but here are a few quotes that I especially liked.

“You have been forced to settle down to the conviction, that the best you can expect from your religion is a life of alternate failure and victory, one hour sinning, and the next repenting, and then beginning again, only to fail again, and again to repent. … Can we dream that the Savior, who was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities, could possibly see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied in such Christian lives as fill the Church today? … Can we, for a moment, suppose that the holy God, who hates sin in the sinner, is willing to tolerate it in the Christian, and that He has even arranged the plan of salvation in such a way as to make it impossible for those who are saved from the guilt of sin to find deliverance from its power?” 

“Positive transformation is to take place. So at least the Bible teaches. Now, somebody must do this. Either we must do it for ourselves, or another must do it for us. We have most of us tried to do it for ourselves at first, and have grievously failed; then we discover, from the Scriptures and from our own experience, that it is something we are unable to do, but that the Lord Jesus Christ has come on purpose to do it, and that He will do it for all who put themselves wholly into His hands and trust Him without reserve. … The Lord’s part is to do the thing entrusted to Him. He disciplines and trains by inward exercises and outward providences. He brings to bear upon us all the refining and purifying resources of His wisdom and His love. He makes everything in our lives and circumstances subservient to the one great purpose of causing us to grow in grace, and of conforming us, day by day and hour by hour, to the image of Christ.”

“Sanctification is both a step of faith, and a process of works. It is a step of surrender and trust on our part, and it is a process of development on God’s part. By a step of faith we get into Christ; by a process we are made to ‘grow up into Him in all things.’ By a step of faith we put ourselves into the hands of the Divine Potter; by a gradual process He makes us into a vessel unto His own honor, meet for His use, and prepared to every good work. … The maturity of a Christian experience cannot be reached in a moment, but is the result of the work of God’s Holy Spirit, who, by His energizing and transforming power, causes us to grow up into Christ in all things. And we cannot hope to reach this maturity in any way other than by yielding ourselves up, utterly and willingly, to His mighty working.” 

“Just as we reconcile the statements concerning a saw in a carpenter’s shop when we say, at one moment, that the saw has sawn asunder a log, and the next moment declare that the carpenter has done it. The saw is the instrument used; the power that uses it is the carpenter’s. And so we, yielding ourselves unto God, and our members as instruments of righteousness unto Him, find that He works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure, and we can say with Paul, ‘I labored; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.’ … Just as the potter, however skillful, cannot make a beautiful vessel out of a lump of clay that is never put into his hands, so neither can God make out of me a vessel unto His honor unless I put myself into His hands.”:

“Most Christians are like a man who was toiling along the road, bending under a heavy burden, when a wagon overtook him, and the driver kindly offered to help him on his journey. He joyfully accepted the offer but when seated in the wagon, continued to bend beneath his burden, which he still kept on his shoulders. ‘Why do you not lay down your burden?’ asked the kind-hearted driver. ‘Oh!’ replied the man, ‘I feel that it is almost too much to ask you to carry me, and I could not think of letting you carry my burden too.’ And so Christians, who have given themselves into the care and keeping of the Lord Jesus still continue to bend beneath the weight of their burdens, and often go weary and heavy-laden throughout the whole length of their journey. … It is generally much less difficult for us to commit the keeping of our future to the Lord than it is to commit our present. We know we are helpless as regards the future, but we feel as if the present is in our own hands, and must be carried on our own shoulders; and most of us have an unconfessed idea that it is a great deal to ask the Lord to carry ourselves, and that we cannot think of asking Him to carry our burdens too.”

“He is our Father, and He loves us, and He knows just what is best, and therefore, of course, His will is the very most blessed thing that can come to us under any circumstances. I do not understand how it is that the eyes of so many Christians have been blinded to this fact. But it really would seem as if God’s own children were more afraid of His will than of anything else in life—His lovely, lovable will, which only means loving-kindnesses and tender mercies, and blessings unspeakable to their souls!”

“You have trusted Him as your dying Savior; now trust Him as your living Savior. Just as much as He came to deliver you from future punishment did He also come to deliver you from present bondage. Just as truly as He came to bear your stripes for you has He come to live your life for you.” 

“The one chief temptation that meets the soul at this juncture is the same that assaults it all along the pathway, at every step of its progress; namely, the question as to feelings. We cannot believe we are consecrated until we feel that we are: and because we do not feel that God has taken us in hand, we cannot believe that He has. As usual, we put feeling first, and faith second, and the fact last of all. No, God’s invariable rule in everything is, fact first, faith second, and feeling last of all; and it is striving against the inevitable when we seek to change this order.”

9 Quotes From “Finding God In Hidden Places”

Finding GodFinding God In Hidden Places by Joni Eareckson Tada is a delightful, heart-warming collection of stories in which Joni shares how she has seen God at work in some unexpected places. You can read my full book review by clicking here. Below are some of the quotes that especially stood out to me from this book.

“I take comfort in this: Although it seemed as though God were asleep when I was at the wheel, He wasn’t. He was there. I remind myself that no matter if it’s by the skin of the teeth or with miles to spare… God helps His people. If it’s not their appointed time to die, God will deliver them. God will keep us. He’ll help. He’ll intervene—perhaps just in the nick of time. Is that too close for comfort? Maybe. But our trust in Him was never meant to be comfortable—only close. And the nick of time is close enough.”

“Right now you may be in the middle of a long stretch of the same old routine. … You don’t hear any cheers or applause. The days run together—and so do the weeks. Your commitment to keep putting one foot in front of the other is starting to falter. Take a moment and look at the fruit. Perseverance. Determination. Fortitude. Patience. Your life is not a boring stretch of highway. It’s a straight line to heaven. And just look at the fields ripening along the way. Look at the tenacity and endurance. Look at the grains of righteousness. You’ll have quite a crop at harvest…so don’t give up!”

“If we’re going to stand up and make a difference for Christ while others lounge about, you can be sure we will encounter hardships, obstacles, nuisances, hassles, and inconveniences—much more than the average couch potato. And we shouldn’t be surprised. Such difficulty while serving Christ isn’t necessarily suffering—it’s status quo.”

“Labels, labels, labels. I’m glad Jesus referred to people as people. He never mentioned His friend being a coward; He simply called him Peter. He never referred to the woman who loved Him deeply as a prostitute; He just called her Mary Magdalene.”

“This is the daily stuff of my life. It always involves more than simply picking up hamburgers and cokes, or clothes from the dry cleaners. It involves a chance to make God real to people. A chance for them to serve, to feel good about themselves, to experience a new way of doing things. It’s a chance to break the mold and accomplish a task in a different manner—an opportunity to throw a hand grenade into the ordinary way of living and, in so doing, take people by surprise.”

“Problems are often God’s way of grabbing a lever in order to pry us out of our ruts. And when you rise up out of a rut, you end up enjoying the fresh air of possibilities, the new breeze of challenge and change. Your faith finds feet. Your witness begins to work.”

“Jesus didn’t pass me by. He didn’t overlook me. He answered my prayer—He said, ‘No.’  And I’m glad. A ‘no’ answer has purged sin from my life, strengthened my commitment to Christ, and forced me to depend on grace. It has bound me with other believers, produced discernment, disciplined my mind, and taught me to spend my time wisely. It has stretched my hope, increased my faith, and strengthened my character. Being in this wheelchair has meant knowing Christ better. Feeling His strength every day.”

“I wonder how many of us second-guess a prompting and ignore the Spirit’s leading. That night I learned that every urge to do good, every prompting to share the gospel, is a prompting from God. We need not second-guess. … This week you’ll hear God’s still, small voice whisper, ‘Say something to her… invite him… make that call… apologize.’ You’ll be tempted to brush it off—but don’t. Seize the moment! Today is the day of salvation! The prompting may never pass your way again. Neither might that person. Ever.”

“It’s just like God. He steps into our tightly controlled, private space, raises His hand, and says, ‘Pardon Me, everyone. I have something to reveal about this person.’ He presumes on our comfort zones, tears aside curtains, throws open locked doors, and pulls the fire alarm on stuffy, sacrosanct attitudes. He oversteps our nicely organized plans and strips the veneer off our smug ways. He boldly intrudes into our sin, brashly calling it what it is and challenging us to leave it behind. It’s called humiliation. It’s one of the painful ways we face our sin. If we remain unaware of our sin, we cannot truly know or understand ourselves. Humiliation lands a knockout blow to self-esteem, reminding us that without Christ we are nothing.”

11 Quotes From “God’s Favorite Place On Earth”

God's Favorite Place On EarthI loved this book! Please read my full book review of God’s Favorite Place On Earth by Frank Viola by clicking here, but my one-word review is: Wow!

Here are a few quotes that especially caught my attention—

“Jesus talked a lot about losing, taking up our cross, denying ourselves, and laying down our lives. These are the fruits of brokenness before God. It’s not hard to spot a Christian in ministry who isn’t broken. Unbroken people don’t know how to lay their lives down and lose. They only know how to try to win. If they’re criticized they retaliate. If they’re attacked, they return fire. If misunderstood, they defend in anger. They are capable of doing all sorts of damage to others in order to save their own ministries and keep their reputations. 

“On the contrary, people who have been broken by the hand of God know how to turn the other cheek. They know how to go the second mile. They know how to give their coats when asked for their shirts. They know how to speak well of those who misrepresent them. They know how to return good for evil. They know how to lose. And in so doing, they exhibit the Spirit of the Lamb and allow God to win.” 

“All service must flow out of a razor-sharp desire to please God rather than a desire to get noticed by others. If it does not, it will lead to either complaint or criticism.”

“As high as God is going to elevate you is as deep as He digs to lay the foundation. Sometimes the brightest light comes from the darkest places. And what doesn’t destroy you ends up defining you in some significant way.”

“Suffering is worldwide and neck deep. But for the Christian, suffering has a special purpose. It’s the chiseling of God designed to transform you into the image of His Son.”

“A Spirit-led man or woman is someone who has faced tragedy, faced loss, looked unbearable and exquisite pain in the face … and has stood his or her ground. With their garments still smoking, these men and women have said before God, mortals, and angels: ‘It is well with my soul. God’s enemy has thrown his best at me, and I’m still here. I’m still on the Rock. I’ve not sunk. I’m still standing. I’ve not been destroyed, and I’ve not gone under. I will continue to follow my Lord, come hell or high water, He is still on the throne!’”

“Christ saves as the Son of God, but He feels as the Son of man.”

“Faith often takes a nosedive when we are on the brink of tragedy. At such times, we forget the Lord’s words. Sometimes confessions and creeds, as important as they are, are not enough to move God to act. Only falling at His feel and weeping will suffice.

“Every crisis in our lives is an opportunity to broaden, deepen, and heighten our revelation of Christ.”

“Basing your faith on God’s performance—what you think He should do according to what you’ve been taught about His promises—is a profound mistake. … Thus the only solid basis for unwavering faith and an unshakable devotion is to believe that God is … and that He does ‘all things well,’ no matter what takes place.”

“Christians aren’t saved from troubles or delivered from problems. We have been given an ascendant life to rise above them.”

“Sharing what one has with others is what keeps our hearts detached from earthly treasures.”

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