A Very Present Help

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

God is not just present—He is very present! 

God is not merely in the room with you, He is fully attentive to you. He’s never distracted, preoccupied, or disinterested. 

Regardless of the quaking or roaring around you, He is so very present that He knows your quietest sigh. You don’t have to look anywhere else for help because He is VERY present at this VERY moment. 

The rest of this psalm reiterates this promise:

  • God is in the midst
  • God will help
  • The Lord of hosts is with us
  • God is our stronghold 

God Himself speaks the words of the natural conclusion we should draw when we realize that He is VERY present at this VERY moment—

“Be still, and know that I am God!”

Hope In The Storm

And in all we were two hundred and seventy-six persons on the ship … they all escaped safely to land (Acts 27:37, 44). 

Paul knew he would be spared dying at sea because God had already told him that he would testify in Rome (23:11). But no one else on that tempest-tossed ship had that same assurance. Luke (who was on the ship with Paul) even wrote, “All hope that we would be saved was finally given up” (27:20). 

Luke wrote those words only three days into the storm. Little did he know that the storm would rage for another 11 days!! 

On the storm’s fourteenth day, Paul called everyone together with good news: “An angel from God visited me. He assured me that the ship will be wrecked, but all of you will be saved. The only condition is you must stay on the ship with me. Therefore, take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me” (vv. 22-26). 

Just as Paul told them, the ship ran aground and all 276 people on board made it safely to the shores of Malta! 

When God gives a promise, hold fast to it. Don’t let the storms—no matter how many days they may rage on—cause you to give up hope. 

And when God graciously gives you a word for others, be quick to be the message of encouragement to your storm-tossed, hope-lost companions who so desperately need something to cling to. 

God’s word never fails. God’s word is never lost at sea or in any other calamity. Hold on … be encouraged … and give hope and courage to others too. 

Christ’s Powerful “I”

“…I…” (Jesus in John 14:2, 3, 6)

The disciples of Jesus, by their words and actions, have made it perfectly clear that they are “troubled” at the thought of being on their own. Jesus assures them with three powerful “I” truths:

  1. I go to prepare a place for youyour future home is secure.
  2. I will come againwe will be with Jesus forever.
  3. I am the way, the truth, and the lifethere is no need to second-guess, no confusion; just perfect, heart-cheering clarity!

The disciple’s job—and therefore our job as well—is simply this: “Believe Me” (v. 11). 

When we believe what Jesus says—I go, I will, I am—then we unleash the power of God in our lives. The power to…

  • … do greater works (v. 12)
  • … pray more powerful prayers (vv. 13, 14)
  • … know the companionship of the Holy Spirit (vv. 16-18)

Whenever fear tries to creep in and paralyze us, may we quickly drive out that fear by believing and reaffirming what Jesus says: I go … I will … I AM!

Poetry Saturday—Smiles

Smile a little, smile a little, 
    As you go along, 
Not alone when life is pleasant, 
    But when things go wrong. 
Care delights to see you frowning, 
    Loves to hear you sigh; 
Turn a smiling face upon her, 
    Quick the dame will fly.

Smile a little, smile a little, 
    All along the road; 
Every life must have its burden, 
    Every heart its load. 
Why sit down in gloom and darkness, 
    With your grief to sup? 
As you drink Fate’s bitter tonic 
    Smile across the cup.

Smile upon the troubled pilgrims 
    Whom you pass and meet; 
Frowns are thorns, and smiles are blossoms 
    Oft for weary feet. 
Do not make the way seem harder 
    By a sullen face, 
Smile a little, smile a little, 
    Brighten up the place.

Smile upon your undone labor; 
    Not for one who grieves 
O’er his task, waits wealth or glory; 
    He who smiles achieves. 
Though you meet with loss and sorrow 
    In the passing years, 
Smile a little, smile a little, 
    Even through your tears. —Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Overcoming Unbelief Before It’s Too Late

Unbelief can shut down the “Shalom Cycle” that God intends for our lives. Even worse, unbelief can put us on a slippery slope that could be disastrous for our future! So it is vital that we understand what unbelief is, how we can recognize it in our own lives, and the steps we can take to recover from unbelief. 

First of all, let me remind you of what the Shalom Cycle looks like—

Quite simply, when we are grateful for what God has already done for us it fuels our trust in God’s future grace to meet our needs. 

But when we forget to be grateful and gratitude turns to grumbling, unbelief displaces trust.

A good way to remember how unbelief works is thinking of it as an un-complete faith. An un-complete faith is lacking power to trust God because of one of two reasons:

  • Either we don’t know there is a promise available to us,
  • Or we know of a promise but don’t think it applies to our circumstance. 

J.C. Ryle pointed out that, “Unbelief has a power to rob man of highest blessings.” 

Hebrews 3 shows us that left unchecked and uncorrected, unbelief can turn into disbelief. You can remember this word by defining it as a complete disintegration of faith. Notice in Hebrews 3 how quickly the word unbelieving becomes turns away from God, and how closely associated are the words unbelief and disobeyed (Hebrews 3:12, 19-20). 

We need to correct and reverse unbelief as quickly as possible. We do this through capturing our thoughts—or thinking about what we’re thinking about—and identifying three warning signs: 

  1. Worrying all the time—God wants you to enter His rest, not wallow in worry (Hebrews 3:11) 
  2. Making contingency plans—the Israelites forgot to be grateful and they grumbled instead. The next step (since they didn’t trust that God’s future grace would take them into the Promised Land) was to disobey by concocting a Plan B: “Let’s go back to Egypt.” 
  3. An inward focus on self-preservation—we no longer encourage others but think only of ourselves (Hebrews 3:13). 

If you detect any of these warning signs, quickly repent (Revelation 3:2-3) and then run to Jesus for help. One of the most honest prayers you can pray—and one of the prayers Jesus answers the quickest—is “Lord, I believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:22-24). 

“Lord, I believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” 

Take control of grumbling by gratitude
Take control of unbelief by repentance and running to Jesus for help
Then help others take control of their unbelief by encouraging one another daily

Join me next Sunday for the final message in our 4-part series on God’s Shalom. 

11 Quotes From “The Nehemiah Code”

All of us have opportunities where we need to rebuild something that has fallen apart. O.S. Hawkins uses the example of Nehemiah in the Bible to teach us highly applicable rebuilding principles. You can check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“One never rebuilds until he personally identifies with the need and weeps over the ruins. … Sadly, there are many who are simply not grieved or burdened about the walls in their lives that are broken and in need of rebuilding. It has been far too long since some of us have ‘sat down,’ much less ‘wept, and mourned for many days.’” 

“Those who play the blame game never get the task of rebuilding completed.” 

“True rebuilders identify with the fears and failures of those around them. They take personal responsibility for the situation—even if the problems didn’t begin with them.” 

“Opportunities most often come our way when we are knocking on the door and not simply waiting for an opportunity to knock.” 

“Nehemiah was able to convince the people to adopt his vision because he followed three vital rules in goal setting: they were conceivable, believable, and achievable.” 

“Note the repetition of the plural personal pronouns in his challenge: ‘we … us … we’ (Nehemiah 2:17). Nehemiah was smart enough to incorporate a lot of plural pronouns. He was subtly motivating his people to work with him and not for him.” 

“Nehemiah left us a stellar example to follow by laying out five important principles that are essential to the delegation process: set clear objectives with specific tasks, pick the right person for the right job, be an example yourself, hold others accountable, and be generous in giving genuine pats on the back.” 

“When it comes to personal relationships, we all need someone to whom we are accountable. Someone who will remind us of God’s standards and give a gentle nudge—or shove—when we stray from those standards. Without such a friend, the result is often self-reliance, self-righteousness, self-sufficiency, and self-centeredness, rather than God-centeredness.” 

“The fatigue factor is often at the root of our own failures. We simply give out and become too tired to go on, so we are then tempted to give in and to give up. When fatigue sets in during the rebuilding process, it brings along with it a loss of perspective, and little things often become much bigger than they really are. …Fatigue pulled their focus from their goal and placed it upon the rubbish, which led to frustration.” 

“People have a way of rallying around a cause if they are convinced that God is in the midst of it. Which voice do the troops hear from your mouth? Is it the voice of Sanballat and ‘We won’t’? Is it the voice of Judah and ‘We can’t’? Or is it the voice of Nehemiah and ‘God will!’?” 

“At last, the goal was in sight. The finish line. ‘Mission Accomplished’ just ahead. But be warned: this is the most dangerous point in any rebuilding process. This is when the enemy comes along with one final attempt to divert us from our goal. …It is not so much how long our personal race may be, nor even how difficult the obstacles we face along the way, but it is how we finish that matters most.” 

God’s Favor

What if I were to tell you that God is for you? 

What if I were to tell you that God wants to bless you? 

What if I were to tell you that God’s favor is constantly pursuing you? 

Well, here’s me telling you that it’s all true! 

“Since God did not spare even His own Son but gave Him up for us all, won’t He also give us everything else?” (Romans 8:32). 

Why would God do this? Because if you feel distant from Him, how can you glorify Him? If you feel disconnected from His love, how will you draw others to Him? If you feel like your relationship with Him is hanging by a thread, how can you happily abide in His presence? 

Knowing God’s favor is the key to living the abundant life Jesus purchased for you on the Cross! 

Join me this Sunday as we begin a new series exploring the wonderful depths of God’s favor. You can join me in person at Calvary Assembly of God, or tune in on Facebook Live at 10:30am Sunday morning.

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