Saturday, August 30, 2014

Feeling Empty

I've been reading and studying the Psalms for my personal time and it has been very encouraging and yet challenging.  At times it almost seems like David insults God by asking Him "where are you" or "do You even care about my predicament."  Although I've read the Psalms many times, I wait for God's hand of correction or stern voice to come down and rebuke David--after all, he deserved it.  Of course it's easy for me to have the answer when I'm not the one going through the trial.  Through David's time alone with God, his perspective was brought back to God.

According to Scripture, David struggled with loneliness and times of feeling very empty in his heart.  Opposition from others and a lack of peace with circumstances was a regular part of his life.  It was typically during those times of struggling, frustration, and feeling lonely that David would recall God's faithfulness to him (read Psalm 13).  We can often allow the busyness of the moment and the pressures of life to squeeze God out.  We, along with David can allow our circumstances to be bigger than the God we serve.  It would appear from reading Scripture that God intentionally places us and keeps us in certain situations in order that He can have our full attention.  It is during these times that we can hear best from God.  At times, it would appear that the only way God's Spirit pierces our spirit is when we have nothing else to hang onto.  It would make the most sense to seek God early and first in order to understand His purposes for our lives rather than for Him to cause us to slow down.

How can we expect God to direct us or add His blessings on our lives when we fail to seek and acknowledge Him?  I believe this is insulting to the God we say we serve.  Sometimes our struggles last much longer than we feel we can bear, but God wants to bring healing; and it is often through times of difficulty that we see Him best.  God's Word is a healing balm to our souls and provides the comfort we often overlook.  Psalm 147:3 says, "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."  David declares, "The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.  And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you (Ps. 9:9-10).  God loves us more than we could ever know and desires that we seek Him (Mt. 6:33).  Our circumstances may not change overnight but the strength to carry on with the right perspective will.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Stormy Days

There are times when no one else knows the depth of pain, discomfort, and emptiness that we feel inside.  At times the path seems so lonely and it can be so long.  Having a firm grip on troubling circumstances sure feels comforting and yet contrary to what God wants us to experience.  I believe with all my heart that God wants to bring a calm assurance to us and that regardless of the storm in our lives He will provide the grace to see us through.  The longer I live and grow in Christ, the more I understand that my wanting to be in control robs God of being the One He wants to be to us.  He wants to be our strength, joy, confidence, rock, shield, and deliverer in the very time of need.  My limited grip of the circumstances can not compare to resting in the palm of His hand.  Why would I be so foolish to desire any other security in this life?

I was just reading Psalm 84:11, "For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless."  At times, all I can see is the storm and the crashing waves when I need to see God!  The more I understand Him and His ways through Scripture the more I wonder why I ever wanted a good grip on the circumstances myself.  The greatest blessings come to those who are walking with God and trusting Him in difficult times.  There is a peace that comes in the midst of the most troubling storms of life that we can not explain.  Jesus Christ wants you to have peace and confidence in Him today.  Might we consider transferring our grip to His full control?

Enjoy walking in the confidence that He brings!

Pastor Gary

Friday, August 8, 2014

Daily Planning

It has been almost seven weeks since I've started my sabbatical and I thank the church and its leadership for granting me this refreshing time.  I've been working on a great deal of school work since I've started and I have spent some precious time with my family.  I am bringing to completion my current doctoral seminar and hope to work on the completion of my ordination with the Free Church before returning.  This will mean writing another twenty pages to be added to my doctrinal statement.

In the midst of all my planning each day to juggle all the things I see as important, I regularly ask myself, "why am I here"?  The easy answer is to say "to glorify God" and that would be correct but how do I glorify Him.  Most Christians live a very inward focused life and spend almost all of their time time around only Christians, perhaps signing up for another Bible study group or discussing the value of theology.  The greatest theology Jesus Christ asks us to share is called the Gospel, found in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).  When was the last time we verbally shared the Gospel (that Jesus Christ died and rose again to forgive sinners) with another person.  The reason I ask is because this is living out our theology.  Jesus Christ clearly tells believers what their lives ought to be immersed with.  We often pray for the lost but do we share the Gospel with the lost--I mean ourselves and not a missionary or a pastor?  We can live moral lives and feel good about ourselves but I don't believe God feels as good about us as we do ourselves especially if we don't share His plan of redemption.  Plain and simple, when was the last time we told a lost person about the One who came to save their soul from Hell?  Is it part of our daily practice or planning?  Wouldn't it be great if we were obsessed with  sharing this Good News to the point that we awoke each day with our day built around this mission.  Imagine what our churches would look like if we not only believed the Gospel but SHARED the Gospel???  WOW!

Each day I strive to spend time with God first, reading His Word, and praying through my prayer journal which serves as a great start.  I am personally working harder each day to bring the Gospel to each person I connect with because they are not coming to me to hear the Gospel--besides, Christ told me to go and tell and not for others to come and listen.  I don't want to fulfill the Great Omission, NOT sharing my faith.  This is the largest job we have been commissioned to do.  One characteristic of inward focused churches is that the programming serves only us which leads to declining churches. The church has neglected its calling and we are the church.  Sometimes we allow ourselves to be busy just going to church but we need to be the church to a lost world--share the Gospel.

Genuine Christians who are obedient, according to Scripture, will verbally share the Gospel to a lost and dying world--if they really understand the Gospel!  Let's be careful not to pomp ourselves in how spiritual we are if we are not sharing the greatest, transforming news that Jesus Christ died for sinful man.  Please email me if you would like to share how God is opening doors for you to share the Gospel.  This would encourage me and others as well!

Together for the Gospel,

Pastor Gary