God’s Sorrow

 

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“For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin”

2 Corinthians 7:10

 

“I am a man of constant sorrow I’ve seen trouble all my day. . .For six long years I’ve been in trouble, No pleasures here on earth I found. For in this world I’m bound to ramble I have no friends to help me now.” I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow – Soggy Bottom Boys

This sad, sorrowful song paints a desperate, hopeless picture of poor decisions leading to sorrow. Usually, when we read or hear of sorrow, this is the picture we see: hopeless, sad, lamenting, regret. However, God has provided a far better definition. Godly sorrow offers repentance and renewal—forgiveness!

How typical of God, the lover of our souls, to wash away the hopelessness of sorrow as we know it, and replace it with hope-filled repentance—the forgiveness of sins. Those who willingly follow Christ understand repentance and forgiveness. Not only do we understand— we relish the thought of God’s unlimited forgiveness. Interestingly, non believers, those who reject Christ, still understand the power of forgiveness as opposite of the power of sorrowful regret or hopelessness. All humans know that forgiveness, whether given or received, brings welcome relief mixed with hope. And why not— forgiveness was invented by God and shown to the world through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 7:8-10

“I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.”  

Psalm 51:16-17

  “You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering.

The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant

heart, O God.” 

Isaiah 66:1-2

“This is what the LORD says: “Heaven is My throne, and the earth is my footstool. Could you build Me a temple as good as that? Could you build Me such a resting  place?

My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are Mine. I, the Lord, have spoken! “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word.”

1 Peter 5:5-7  

“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

Psalm 33:16-22

16 “No king is saved by the size of his army;

   no warrior escapes by his great strength.

17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;

   despite all its great strength it cannot save.

18 But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear Him,

   on those whose hope is in His unfailing love,

19 to deliver them from death  and keep them alive in famine.

20 We wait in hope for the LORD;

   He is our help and our shield.

21 In Him our hearts rejoice,

   for we trust in His holy name.

22 May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,

   even as we put our hope in You.”

Hebrews 12:11

“All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”

When confronted by punishment, a child is sorrowful (perhaps because they’ve been discovered rather than for their behavior). If they’ve learned a lesson, their life will be more peaceful afterwards. If not, the cycle will be repeated. The same is true in our relationship with God. If we learn the lesson and repent, our sorrow will be short-lived and transformed into righteousness.

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Stumbling Block

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1 Corinthians 1:23

We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.


I grew up in a neighborhood with lots of diversity. My folks did not discriminate, so neither did my sister and I. People were people. Some were nice and some not-so-nice. One of the most interesting was Mr. Johnson. He was blind and he was older—like a Grandpa.

One of my friends…actually not a friend as I was to learn…who lived nearby, was a prankster. He never tired of pulling pranks on everyone and we were getting frustrated with him. Finally, he did something to Mr. Johnson that excluded him from my circle of friends.

Mr. Johnson lived alone with his dog, Pete. He used a cane to get around his yard and all over town. He had a garden out back and tended it often. He raised lots of vegetables that he shared with everyone. If you wanted to pick some veggies on your own, you just rang a bell Mr. Johnson had attached to his gate. That way he knew someone was in the yard and he would come out to visit and chat.

As you may imagine, Mr. Johnson had established walking paths around his yard to get around to everything. Often he would putter around without using his cane to detect any stumbling blocks. This is where Freddy the prankster came in.  

Freddy decided it would be funny to ring the bell after he had set up a few obstacles in Mr. Johnson’s pathway. So he did. After he placed a few blocks in the paths, he rang the bell and hid off to the side. Mr. Johnson came out smiling, bidding a welcome to whoever may need some vegetables. He hadn’t gone very far before his foot hit a wooden block in the middle of the path. Down he went, cracking his wrist bone and bumping his head on a border stone.

Fortunately, Mr. Johnson’s next-door-neighbor came to get some cucumbers right after this happened. She was a nurse and was able to tend to his bruises and swollen forehead. It turned out that his cracked wrist just needed a tight wrap for a week, along with some pain medicine. This prank did not change Mr. Johnson’s attitude or generosity. Friends removed Freddy’s obstacles and everything went back to normal in Mr. Johnson’s backyard.

Freddy was never seen in the neighborhood again. By the fall, he and his family had moved to another school district.

I wonder if I am ever a stumbling block to others by my actions, attitudes or conversation? Do I, without considering the impact of what I am doing or saying, throw up obstacles in the path of others? Do I possibly cause someone to stumble spiritually? What about those times when I just have to have my way? Who stumbled on my selfishness? Someone surely. Thank you Lord for your forgiveness.

1 Corinthians 8:9  But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble.

2 Corinthians 6.3 We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us.

Romans 14:13  Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

 

Absolute Protection!

 

Holy Father, protect them by the power of Your name.  John 17:11

 

We’ve all seen movies in which a person is protected by an organization or government embassy immunity. Their attitude is often arrogant and cocky. They go about never fearing sudden calamities or, in some cases, death. What they consider as absolute protection affects their attitude and behavior. In reality, only God can provide absolute protection and he freely gives this to all who believe in Jesus Christ. His protection removes the fear or uncertainty of death. Because with God, there is no death but the assurance of eternal life. We live without fear!

 

  2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.

  John 17:11, 15  I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.

  Jude 1  To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.

  Jude 24, 25  To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

  Psalm 27:1  The Lord is my light and salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

  Psalm 56:3-4  When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?

  Proverbs 3:5-6  Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.

    Isaiah 40:28-29  Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

  Acts 26:22 But God has protected me right up to this present time so I can testify to everyone, from the least to the greatest.

 

  God clearly promises protection and assurance to all who trust and believe in Him. There is only one thing that can stand in the way of His promises…our lack of faith. We have only to believe His promises and not faint. When all seems bleak, dark and hopeless, let us rise above what we see and believe in His words of hope, protection and eternal salvation. Anyone can proclaim trust and faith in our Lord when the waters are calm and the bank account is full. But our faith, true faith, glistens like a diamond during our greatest trials and fears.

 

  2 Corinthians 4:16-18  Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Thought Life

 

 

“What he thinks is what he really is.”  Prov. 23:7

Most everyone who knew Michael enjoyed his company. He was an excellent supervisor, a mature elder, a gifted city-league ball player, a charitable man, father and husband of one wife. Michael was the kind of guy people would line up to toast at his funeral. Most men envied him and many women secretly wished their husbands had some of his traits.

But who was Michael…really? His secret thought life was not exactly parallel with his exterior. Over the years Michael developed resentment at not being selected as the Vice President of his corporation and he harbored a simmering bitterness. The same was true in his church life. He spent more than ten years at his church before being selected as an elder. This was definitely not right or fair, he thought, casting the blame on his pastor who he knew was responsible.

And so it went for Michael, finding fault with people and companies who he blamed for various insults and rejections. His thought life was his secret refuge, a place that allowed him to get even. His thought life was also building a wall between himself and the Lord. “After all, the Lord could have given me the desires of my heart,” he thought.

Michael frequently retreated to a secret thought life in which he was superior, the winner, the smartest and best. The problem with living like that is–it is not real. It is a false life that leads us away from actual life and its challenges. And for a Christian, real life is built on their faith in Jesus Christ and forgiveness of sins, not promises to give material possessions and power.

What do you “think”? Are you building a secret thought life that gives you the pleasure and gratitude you “think” you deserve? Satan is the father of lies and is willing and able to help you along that road. He did remind a hungry Jesus that He could turn stones into bread!

John 5:39-40  You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.

Rom. 12:2-3  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

1 Cor. 8:2-3  Those who think they know something really don’t know as they ought to know. But the person who loves God is known by him.

1 Cor. 3:18-20  You should not fool yourself. If any of you think that you are wise by this world’s standards, you should become a fool, in order to be really wise. For what this world considers to be wisdom is nonsense in God’s sight. As the scripture says, ”God traps the wise in their cleverness.” (Job 5:13).; and another scripture says, ”The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are worthless” (Ps. 94:11).

Eph. 3:13-21  So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored. When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Many people have written books that promise riches through positive thinking. Why do you suppose so many books and celebrities talk about the same idea? Because there is truth in it. A kernel of truth that says whatever you think you will walk in. If you think you are a loser, that is how you will live. Your life will manifest circumstances to convince you it is so.  

As a Christian, it is essential that we think on Jesus Christ and his promises so our life will reflect the light of God. See Phil. 4:8-9. Think on these things!

 

 

Am I Generous?

 

He who loves money will not be satisfied with money.  Ecc.5:10

 

Two business graduate students from an Eastern college decided to experiment with the generosity of people across the United States. They traveled as two young men who’d lost all their money and needed help getting to their destination. Their sole purpose was to see if they could determine, overall, which economic level was the most generous; poor or rich.

            Like most of us, they had been raised with the idea that rich people, for the most part, are not generous; that they tend to grab for more and don’t have time for those down on their luck. These two students were embarking on a nationwide trip to take firsthand notes.

            After three weeks and several hundred meetings, meals, handouts and job opportunities, their discovery actually fortified the idea that the rich are not as generous as the poor. They were stunned as people with barely enough to get by were the first to help them, giving freely of food, money and a place to stay the night!

            The higher up the economic ladder they went the more suspicious and less generous they found people to be. Most often these people expressed the idea that they should take care of themselves. Rarely did they meet a person of wealth who offered them lodging.

            If these two young men came across our lives what would be our response? Would they leave our lives touched with the generous love of the Lord, filled with food, clothing and a place to stay? Or would we be found on the list of those not willing to reach out with help?

            Matt. 5:7  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

            Matt. 6:1-4  Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! 3 But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

            Luke 6:30-31  Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back.31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

Prov. 3:27  Do not withhold good from those who deserve it
      when it’s in your power to help them.

Lining our lives up with Jesus shatters our worldly ideas and dreams. He takes us beyond the rules and liturgy of the Pharisees into a world of personal responsibility and servanthood. He led the way by showing Himself as a servant instead of the Lord of all the world. Jesus did what His Father in heaven required of Him and that is what He expects of us.

Nothing Can Separate Us!

“Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love” ~Romans 8:38

 

There are some sections in the Bible that, by themselves, are an all-encompassing assurance of God’s unchanging, unfailing love for all who call upon Jesus as Savior. The Book of Romans, chapter 8, verses 31-39 is one of those sections. Simple, yet complex; powerful yet tender; adamant yet understanding. This section of the Bible will fortify and solidify our faith in a powerful, loving God who has promised to always love and protect us…as He guides us into eternity with Him.

Romans 8:31-39 ~What can we ever say to such wonderful things as these? If God is on our side, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son for us but gave him up for us all, won’t he also surely give us everything else?

33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? Will God? No! He is the one who has forgiven us and given us right standing with himself.

34 Who then will condemn us? Will Christ? No! For he is the one who died for us and came back to life again for us and is sitting at the place of highest honor next to God, pleading for us there in heaven.

35 Who then can ever keep Christ’s love from us? When we have trouble or calamity, when we are hunted down or destroyed, is it because he doesn’t love us anymore? And if we are hungry or penniless or in danger or threatened with death, has God deserted us?

36 No, for the Scriptures tell us that for his sake we must be ready to face death at every moment of the day—we are like sheep awaiting slaughter; 37 but despite all this, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us enough to die for us. 38 For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels won’t, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God’s love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, 39 or where we are—high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean—nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us.

How Fickle

“And He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in every thing He might be preeminent. ~ Col. 1:18

Father, do I live in the deeply rooted knowledge that You control everything? In this verse are a few of Your true characteristics, the very fibers of Your being: You are the beginning, the conqueror of death, You exist in everything, and nothing is outside of You. I place my hope and trust in all manner of fickle things such as medicine, science, money, and myself.

Lord, there is nothing on this earth that protects me but You. If You reign over all things and have set a course for my life, then You are my sole protector and protector of my soul. Lord, help me turn to You with the “little” things: What present should I give a friend or loved on? Should I volunteer for that event? Is it right to stay late and get ahead of my work? All these decisions I take into my own hands because they seem so insignificant, yet You purchased my life with Yours; therefore, nothing is insignificant to You.

Father, reveal to me the fickle things that I place trust in and help me turn to You with my “little” prayers and questions. When storms arise, the little moments and short trials secure my trust in You. Thank You that You are steadfast. Thank You that You are not fickle and You cannot deny Your holiness and justice, or compassion. Amen.  ~Prayers for an Anxious Heart