Audacious means to show a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks. To have audacious faith is the willingness to believe God’s promises no matter the circumstances. God did not create you to be ordinary or complacent. You need to step up, step out and step into your purpose. And when you do this, expect some resistance in many forms but this is what you do: activate your audacious and persistent faith.
1 John 5:14-15 (NLT2)14 And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.15 And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.
Mark 11:22-24 (NLT2)22 Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God.23 I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.24 I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.
Audacious faith is the kind of faith that Joshua had when he prayed and asked God to make the sun stop in the sky until the Israelite army defeated the Amorites.
Joshua 10:12-14 (NLT2)12 On the day the LORD gave the Israelites victory over the Amorites, Joshua prayed to the LORD in front of all the people of Israel. He said, “Let the sun stand still over Gibeon, and the moon over the valley of Aijalon.”13 So the sun stood still and the moon stayed in place until the nation of Israel had defeated its enemies. Is this event not recorded in The Book of Jashar? The sun stayed in the middle of the sky, and it did not set as on a normal day.14 There has never been a day like this one before or since, when the LORD answered such a prayer. Surely the LORD fought for Israel that day!
The Perhaps Paradox
Excerpts from the YouVersion Reading Plan Sun Stand Still Devotional by Steven Furtick (Edits mine).
If you'’re not daring to believe God for the impossible... you'’re sleeping through some of the best parts of your Christian life. And further still, if the size of your vision for your life isn't intimidating to you, there’'s a good chance it’'s insulting to God. You should be living by audacious faith every day. Audacity is not just for “elite Christians.” It’'s intended for every believer. So today we’'re beginning a spiritual journey toward trusting God for what seems impossible. I'’m thrilled to think about what it’s going to do for our lives and our world.
1 Samuel 14:1-15 (NLT2)1 One day Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “Come on, let’s go over to where the Philistines have their outpost.” But Jonathan did not tell his father what he was doing.2 Meanwhile, Saul and his 600 men were camped on the outskirts of Gibeah, around the pomegranate tree at Migron.3 Among Saul’s men was Ahijah the priest, who was wearing the ephod, the priestly vest. Ahijah was the son of Ichabod’s brother Ahitub, son of Phinehas, son of Eli, the priest of the LORD who had served at Shiloh. No one realized that Jonathan had left the Israelite camp.4 To reach the Philistine outpost, Jonathan had to go down between two rocky cliffs that were called Bozez and Seneh.5 The cliff on the north was in front of Micmash, and the one on the south was in front of Geba.6 “Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer. “Perhaps the LORD will help us, for nothing can hinder the LORD. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!”7 “Do what you think is best,” the armor bearer replied. “I’m with you completely, whatever you decide.”8 “All right then,” Jonathan told him. “We will cross over and let them see us.9 If they say to us, ‘Stay where you are or we’ll kill you,’ then we will stop and not go up to them.10 But if they say, ‘Come on up and fight,’ then we will go up. That will be the LORD’s sign that he will help us defeat them.”11 When the Philistines saw them coming, they shouted, “Look! The Hebrews are crawling out of their holes!”12 Then the men from the outpost shouted to Jonathan, “Come on up here, and we’ll teach you a lesson!” “Come on, climb right behind me,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “for the LORD will help us defeat them!”13 So they climbed up using both hands and feet, and the Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor bearer killed those who came behind them.14 They killed some twenty men in all, and their bodies were scattered over about half an acre.15 Suddenly, panic broke out in the Philistine army, both in the camp and in the field, including even the outposts and raiding parties. And just then an earthquake struck, and everyone was terrified.
The army of King Saul has been locked in a standoff against the Philistines. And Jonathan, the king’'s son, has become so aggravated with the inaction of his fellow warriors that he decides to make a bold move. He enlists his armor bearer to join him on a two-man commando raid.
His battle plan is potentially God inspired— - and a little ludicrous. The two young men will openly approach the enemy outpost. If they get a go-ahead sign from God, they will attack. A borderline suicide mission. But if God is with them, Jonathan figures, nothing can stop them.
In his motivational speech to his bodyguard, Jonathan seems to be speaking out of both sides of his mouth: •
- Nothing can hinder the Lord.
- Perhaps the Lord will act.
At first glance this seems like spiritual schizophrenia.
But perhaps Jonathan isn’'t schizophrenic. Perhaps true faith always feels this way. On the one hand, I know that God is able to do anything. On the other hand, I think He’'s willing to do this specific thing. I know God can. And I’'m pretty sure He will. But I can'’t be completely sure.
That’'s where audacious faith comes in.
Audacity isn’'t the absence of uncertainty and ambiguity. Audacity is believing that God’s promise is bigger than my perhaps.
The Bible says that God’'s Word is a lamp unto our feet (Psalm 119:105), not a floodlight beaming to our destination. So, armed with the confidence that there’'s a decent chance and an interesting possibility that my impulse might be from God (perhaps, in other words), I start investigating.
We'’d all like to live in a world where God lets us do big things that require minimal risk. Where the voice of the Holy Spirit carries for miles and miles, piercing through static and fuzz, jeers and taunts. The fact is, though, that the land where the sun stands still is a land where promise and perhaps must coexist. Audacious faith does not eliminate doubt and fear. It eclipses their power one decision at a time. You know God’'s will by doing God’'s will.
Jonathan and his armor bearer ended up saving the day in a spectacular way. Their act of audacious faith tilted the fate of an entire nation.
How much of God’s miraculous power are we unable to experience because we never pray prayers that are bigger than us?
Pray prayers beyond the scope of your own life, and watch what God will do in your own life.
There’'s nothing our world needs more desperately today - —in individuals, families, businesses, churches, and communities— - than God’s saving, supernatural acts. And God is ready to act if we will be bold enough to ask, not just for a good day or a better life, but for the impossible and then will step forward to act in audacious faith.
God has an incredible life for you beyond your imagination. But to get there will require taking bold risks. It will require stepping up and facing your giants… and the unknown. Audacious faith goes hand in hand with trusting God’s will. This is an opportunity to leave your comfort zone and bravely move to where God is calling you.
Power that comes with authority can be applied for good or applied for evil and the Bible addresses both. It’s important for us to know the difference so that we know how to pray for those in power.
Last year, because of all the angst about the current President of the United States (POTUS), I wrote the post “LIke It Or Not The Bible Says We Must Pray For Our Leaders” . In that post I quoted scripture that says we should pray for and submit to our leaders because authority was established by God to maintain peace and order so that we, especially Christians, can live and worship in peace. Please notice that I did not say that we were to pray for an individual but for the authority (official capacity or office). Our prayers should ask God to surround them with wise counsel and to actually change them and any evil in them.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NLT)1 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.3 This is good and pleases God our Savior,4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.
1 Peter 2:17 (NLT)17 Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God, and respect the king.
Titus 3:1 (NLT)1 Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good.
Romans 13:1-5 (NLT)1 Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.2 So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.3 For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you.4 The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong.5 So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.
That post gives five very good ways to pray for those in power that you don’t agree with, no matter where you are on the political spectrum, Republican, Democrat, Independent, liberal, moderate, conservative, or anywhere in between.
Ezra 6:9-10 (NLT)9 “Give the priests in Jerusalem whatever is needed in the way of young bulls, rams, and male lambs for the burnt offerings presented to the God of heaven. And without fail, provide them with as much wheat, salt, wine, and olive oil as they need each day.10 Then they will be able to offer acceptable sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the welfare of the king and his sons. (Bold mine)
1 Peter 2:13-14 (NLT)13 For the Lord’s sake, respect all human authority—whether the king as head of state,14 or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. (Bold mine)
When evil leaders are in authority, our prayers for them are just as needed. Manasseh's reign over Judah which resulted in his capture and exile to Babylon was reversed when he repented. This shows that when evil leaders sincerely repent they can be used by God to restore what they have ruined.
2 Chronicles 33:1-3, 11-13 (NLT)1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years.2 He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight, following the detestable practices of the pagan nations that the LORD had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites.3 He rebuilt the pagan shrines his father, Hezekiah, had broken down. He constructed altars for the images of Baal and set up Asherah poles. He also bowed before all the powers of the heavens and worshiped them11 So the LORD sent the commanders of the Assyrian armies, and they took Manasseh prisoner. They put a ring through his nose, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon.12 But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the LORD his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors.13 And when he prayed, the LORD listened to him and was moved by his request. So the LORD brought Manasseh back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh finally realized that the LORD alone is God!
Jeremiah 29:7 (NLT) And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”
Proverbs 21:1 (NLT) The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the LORD; he guides it wherever he pleases.
When our leaders obey the will of God, it is easier to “live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness”. When evil leaders are in authority, our prayers for them are just as needed.
Proverbs 29:2 (NLT)2 When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan.
Read the following devotion from the YouVersion Reading Plan Living In The Light: Money, Sex, And Power by John Piper
Mark 9:31-37 (NIV) because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it. They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
When great power is wielded in the pursuit of great good, we stand amazed and rejoice. God has appointed human government, for example, to wield power for good. “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good” (1 Peter 2 v 13-14). When power is wielded to do justice, we rejoice.
But there is another side to power: “When the wicked rule, the people groan” (Proverbs 29 v 2).
Power may pursue great good, but it may also pursue great evil.
And therein lies one of the dangers of power. Morally, it is no better than the goal it pursues. It is a “good” only in the way that a saw is good—and one can use a saw to cut firewood but also to deface an heirloom.
Not only is power dangerous because it can be used to bring about evil, but also because it can be used to exalt the one who has it. Since all humans admire glory, and power can be part of glory, we are all tempted to seek this admiration by getting this power. We love to be admired and praised, and so we bend what power we have toward getting applause. In other words, our power is employed to exalt ourselves. This is a great danger.
Why do all humans have this craving? Because we have all exchanged the glory of God for images—especially the one in the mirror.
Romans 1:23 (NIV) and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
The reason we abuse power is because we do not delight in the glory of God’s right to all power. When we are blind to the glory of God’s passion to be known and loved as the source and sum of all power, we take it for our own, and use it for ourselves. That is not why God created the universe—or us.
God wants you to rest, to recharge, and to recover from the hustle and bustle stress, anxiety, and worry of life. He wants you to rest much that he commanded it. I wrote the following in my post “Stop Ministry Burnout Just Say No! It’s Not A Sin”, but it’s so important that it bears repeating;
The Commandment with the most written about it is the one commanding rest.
Exodus 20:8-11 (NLT)8 “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
9 You have six days each week for your ordinary work,10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you.11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.
Shabbat is the original Hebrew word for our English word sabbath. It comes from the root Shin-Beit-Tavand means “to cease, to end, to rest.”
The Bible says that those who will not rest are disobedient.
Exodus 31:14 (NKJV) You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people.
Deuteronomy 5:12 (NKJV)12 'Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you.
Rest doesn’t come naturally to us. In order for us to truly rest we have to trust that God will take care of things for us. That includes all the ministry things that we do. We often use the fact that we are, in our words, “doing the work of the Kingdom” or we say “Satan never takes a day off so why should I?”
Since we refuse to rest, as God commands, no matter the reason, thank God He has put a mechanism in place that signals us that it just may be time to slow down and obey. I believe that mechanism is burnout which can come in a variety of ways.
Ministry is not a sprint; it is a marathon. Take the long view and realize that sometimes slowing down will make you more effective. Structure your time so that you are not always rushed. Take frequent breaks. Give yourself permission to take a nap and to rest.
Even When You're Worn Out: Always Enough, Never Too Much
Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan
Even When You’re Worn Out
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. — Psalm 23:1-3
Shepherds are tough mamma-jammas. There are still shepherds today — did you know that? There aren’t too many in America, but in rural areas across the globe, you can still find one lone guy who literally herds his sheep, moving them around and tending to their needs.
You know what a shepherd has to do to a particularly unruly sheep that won’t go where it’s supposed to? It’s pretty graphic, so hold on to your hat.
He’ll break one of the sheep’s legs.
If that sweet little ball of fluff won’t rest, won’t go the right way, won’t cooperate, the shepherd will take matters into his own hands to make sure the sheep is completely reliant on him as he nurses it back to health after the very wound he himself caused.
If you are worn out, here’s the deal: you’re human.
You live with the effects of a fallen world. You live in a world where people need sleep and rest and restoration. God made your body with the need to shut down for eight-ish hours a night. He made your mind with an intrinsic desire to get quiet and recuperate when things are too hectic or overwhelming. He made your soul desperate to find respite and rejuvenation in Him.
If you’re burned out, worn out, needing rest, and feeling tired, the good news is that you’re human.
The bad news is that if we continually resist His invitation to be human and resist our God-given need of recreation, He has the capacity and the loving inclination to break us a little so we are forced to stick close to Him.
God is beckoning you into a life full of pushing, pulling, and advancing for the sake of His kingdom. But He’s also inviting you into a life full of rest and stillness so you can draw near to Him. What would it look like to rewrite Psalm 23 for yourself, reading “He made me lie down” and remembering that first “He invited me to lie down. He went to quiet waters and so I followed Him”?
What would it look like to finally trash the idea that needing rest automatically equals some kind of deficiency or lack?
This is how He made us. He is not surprised. Rather, He is glorified by our resting and trusting in Him.
Let’s follow our Shepherd to the water and the quiet spaces. And let’s kick the Enemy in the teeth when he tells us we’re not enough because we’re worn out!
Excerpted with permission from Always Enough, Never Too Much by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan, copyright Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan. Published by Zondervan.
Click any link or this image to purchase your copy of Always Enough Never Too Much.
Discover God’s wild freedom as you find your identity in Jesus with 100 devotions that will help you target and banish lies and insecurities. Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan, bestselling authors of Wild and Free, walk you through the gift of truly knowing who you are in Christ in Always Enough, Never Too Much: 100 Devotions to Quit Comparing, Stop Hiding, and Start Living Wild and Free. We’ve all been there. We know that sneaking, small voice in our heads all too well—you’re too loud. Too quiet. Too young. Too old. Too unimportant. Too ugly. Too silly. Too serious. You’re not as successful as she is—look at her perfect family, look at her high-powered job, look at her great hair and size 4 skinny jeans. Why can’t you be more like her—be more in general? Why do you expect so much from everyone? Why can’t you take up less space? Ask for less? Be less? The lies track well-worn paths in our minds and our hearts, wearing us down and making us question our role in God’s kingdom. With a unique flip-book design, these 100 devotions are topical, so you can choose what you need most every time you open the pages. This book is designed for you,
Psalms 34:1-22 (NLT) I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the Lord ; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the Lord ’s greatness; let us exalt his name together. I prayed to the Lord , and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the Lord , you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing. Come, my children, and listen to me, and I will teach you to fear the Lord . Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous? Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies! Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right; his ears are open to their cries for help. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil; he will erase their memory from the earth. The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken! Calamity will surely destroy the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be punished. But the Lord will redeem those who serve him. No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
The Lord Delivers The Righteous
When running from King Saul David went to Achish, king of the Philistine city of Gath. However Achish’s officers didn’t want him there so David pretended to be insane. He wrote Psalm 34 after being sent away from Gath.
1 Samuel 21:10-15 (NLT2)10 So David escaped from Saul and went to King Achish of Gath.11 But the officers of Achish were unhappy about his being there. “Isn’t this David, the king of the land?” they asked. “Isn’t he the one the people honor with dances, singing, ‘Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?”12 David heard these comments and was very afraid of what King Achish of Gath might do to him.13 So he pretended to be insane, scratching on doors and drooling down his beard.14 Finally, King Achish said to his men, “Must you bring me a madman?15 We already have enough of them around here! Why should I let someone like this be my guest?”
David opens this psalm of praise and thanksgiving by inviting others to join him in his praise and acknowledgement of God’s goodness. He bases his praise on his deliverance so he knows God’s faithfulness firsthand. Because God has delivered him David urges others to “put God to the test” that’s what he means when he says “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” True blessings come only to those who trust, fear, and seek the Lord.
Hebrews 11:6 (NLT2) And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
Right in the middle of the psalm David changes from exhortation to instruction. His experiences have given him the right to teach others. He starts his instruction by telling those who follow him that the first thing necessary is that they fear God. The kind of fear David is talking about is not terror but reverence. The rewards of that reverence are protection and deliverance from the actions of others. Those who fear (reverence) the Lord are also rewarded by deliverance from God’s wrath while the wicked will overtaken by calamity and punishment.
Psalm 34:22 (NLT2) But the LORD will redeem those who serve him. No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
David could teach others about the fear of the Lord because he had come to understand it more fully from his own life experiences.
Philippians 2:5-8 (ASV)5 Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:6 who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped,7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men;8 and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross. (emphasis mine)
This is one of the scriptures that those who say that Jesus is the Son of God, but He is not God. I’ve written several posts that I believe provide proof of Jesus’ divinity (see my blog category Who Is Jesus ), but have not addressed the questions raised by this scripture in Philippians. Those who question Jesus’ divinity say how can God empty himself, become a man, and still be God? As I said in my previous posts Jesus, while taking on human flesh and nature, minus sin, still retained the attributes of God, making Him fully human and still fully God. The following is from Jesus Has Attributes That Are Attributes Of God Alone.
Jesus was not created; He existed eternally.
John 1:1-3 (NKJV)1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2 He was in the beginning with God.3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
The Word did not become; he was. “With God” suggests equality as well as association. “The Word was God” (deity) without confusion of the persons. - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.
Jesus is everywhere-present (Omnipresent)
Man is limited by a physical body, and can be only in one place at any one time. God, however, is spirit and can be everywhere in the universe at the same time. This attribute, is also related to His unlimited power to act and to know. God is present everywhere in the sense that everything everywhere is in His presence. He can see, know, and act in all places at once.
Jesus promised His disciples that He would be with them no matter where they were.
Matthew 18:19-20 (NKJV)19 Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."
Matthew 28:19-20 (NKJV)19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
Jesus is all-powerful (Omnipotent)
Man and other created beings have limited power over other created things. Only God has unlimited power over all creation. Absolutely nothing is impossible for Him.
Job 42:1-2 (NKJV) Then Job answered the LORD and said:2 "I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
While on earth, as a human, Jesus exercised power over;
Luke 8:24-25 (NKJV)24 And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm.25 But He said to them, "Where is your faith?" And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, "Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!"
Matthew 8:2-4 (NKJV)2 And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean."3 Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.4 And Jesus said to him, "See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
Mark 1:32-34 (NKJV)32 At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed.33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door.34 Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him.
John 11:14-15, 41-44 (NKJV)14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead.15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him." 41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me."43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!"44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Loose him, and let him go."
Jesus is all-knowing (Omniscient)
Colossians 2:1-3 (NKJV)1 For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh,2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ,3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Peter and his friends were experienced fishermen and after working all night in a place that they knew well they didn’t caught any fish. Jesus however, a carpenter’s son and no fisherman, knew exactly where to go to catch the fish.
Luke 5:4-9 (NKJV)4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."5 But Simon answered and said to Him, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net."6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.7 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!"9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; John 16:30; 21:17 - Jesus' disciples claimed that He knew all things. He never contradicted this claim nor rebuked them for it.
Peter needed money for the taxes and Jesus knew where to get it.
Matthew 17:24-27 (NKJV)24 When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, "Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?"25 He said, "Yes." And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?"26 Peter said to Him, "From strangers." Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are free.27 Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you."
Jesus Is Worshiped
Scripture is emphatic that only God can be worshiped.
Exodus 20:3 (NKJV) You shall have no other gods before Me.
Yet there are many examples of people worshiping Jesus. There is no account in scripture where He stopped the worshiper.
Matthew 8:2-4 (NKJV)2 And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean."3 Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.4 And Jesus said to him, "See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
Matthew 28:17-20 (NKJV)17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
John 20:28 (NKJV) And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"
As you see Jesus did not lose any of these of God when He took on humanity. Let's look at the Greek word kenosis which is translated “emptied himself”. The word means “to empty”.
This appears to mean when Jesus put on humanity He accepted limitations, constraints. The problem then is that if Jesus gave up, or emptied Himself of any of the attributes of God He became less than God and therefore not God at all. For example when asked when the end would come here’s how He answered;
Mark 13:32 (NKJV) “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
If Jesus knew all things, as is implied in His divine nature, then why did He not know the day or hour of His own return. The answer is that Jesus cooperated with the limitations of humanity and voluntarily did not exercise His attribute of omniscience. He still was divine but was moving and living completely as a man. If Jesus was not fully divine, then His atoning work would not be sufficient to atone for the sins of the world.
Jesus is both fully God and fully man and did not give up any divine attributes while as a man on earth.
Colossians 2:9 (NKJV) For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;
How Did Jesus 'Empty Himself'?
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. -- Philippians 2:5–8 (emphasis mine).
This passage is so rich; we only have space to examine one jewel. It’s the phrase, He “made himself nothing” (v.7a). Notice, Jesus “made Himself.” He didn’t get a memo. He wasn’t pushed out of heaven. He was fully engaged in God’s whole plan!
That phrase there, “made himself nothing,” is actually the basis for a lot of false teaching. Some translations rightly put it, “He emptied Himself.” Then the question becomes, emptied Himself of what? Some falsely suggest that Jesus emptied Himself of Deity and that He literally became a first-century Jewish man; that there was no God, just Jesus, the man. But the Bible teaches the Incarnation of Jesus, 100 percent God; 100 percent man, undiminished Deity dwelling in humanity.
You ask, “Well, what did He empty Himself of then?”
Answer, at least five things:
Taken from “Jesus’ Selflessness” (used by permission).
Most people have heard of Jonah. They know him as the man swallowed by a big fish and lived to tell about it. Now a lot of people don’t believe that this ever happened however most believers do believe it because we know that God and do anything even preserve the life of a man swallowed by a fish. If He could bring a man back to life, never die again, who had been killed, and placed in a sealed guarded tomb a man in a fish for three days is nothing. What we may not know is how and why Jonah ended up in the fish in the first place.
The Old Testament book identifies Jonah as being from Gath-hepher, near Nazareth which was in the area of Galilee in the northern kingdom of Israel (Israel split into two nations after the death of Solomon with the northern kingdom retaining the name Israel and the southern kingdom came to be known as Judah).
2 Kings 14:25 (NLT2) Jeroboam II recovered the territories of Israel between Lebo-hamath and the Dead Sea, just as the LORD, the God of Israel, had promised through Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath-hepher.
Jonah is unique in a couple of ways. He is one of the few prophets from the northern kingdom of Israel. Most were from Judah even those who prophesied to Israel, the northern kingdom.
Jonah is also unique in that although he is reported to have prophesied that Israel would recover some territory, the book of Jonah recounts the story of God’s commandment that he go yo preach and warn Israel’s enemy, Assyria, in its capital city of Nineveh.
Jonah 1:2 (NLT2) “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”
The story gets interesting when instead of obeying God Jonah decides not only to disobey but to go in the opposite direction by ship.
Jonah 1:3 (NLT2) But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the LORD. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the LORD by sailing to Tarshish.
We know what happens after that. God orchestrates the events so that Jonah ends up in the “belly of a big fish”.
Jonah 1:4, 12, 15-17 (NLT2)4 But the LORD hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart. 12 “Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.” 15 Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once!16 The sailors were awestruck by the LORD’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him.17 Now the LORD had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.
We know the rest of that part of the story. Jonah prays and God delivers him for the fish’s belly.
Jonah 2:1-2, 10 (NLT2)1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from inside the fish.2 He said, “I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and LORD, you heard me! 10 Then the LORD ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.
Jonah then decides to obey God and go Nineveh. He preaches, hey repent and God does not destroy the city, much to the Jonah’s displeasure.
Jonah 3:1- 4:2 (NLT2)1 Then the LORD spoke to Jonah a second time:2 “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.”3 This time Jonah obeyed the LORD’s command and went to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to see it all.4 On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!”5 The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow.6 When the king of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying, he stepped down from his throne and took off his royal robes. He dressed himself in burlap and sat on a heap of ashes.7 Then the king and his nobles sent this decree throughout the city: “No one, not even the animals from your herds and flocks, may eat or drink anything at all.8 People and animals alike must wear garments of mourning, and everyone must pray earnestly to God. They must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence.9 Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us.”10 When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened. 1 This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry.2 So he complained to the LORD about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people.
Why Is Jonah Important?
Jonah was one of only four writing prophets (books that have the name of the prophet who wrote or whose actions are chronicled) that Jesus mentioned by name during His earthly ministry.
Mark 7:6-7 (NLT2)6 Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.7 Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’ (emphasis mine)
Matthew 24:15-16 (NLT2)15 “The day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about—the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place.” (Reader, pay attention!)16 “Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. (emphasis mine)
Matthew 23:35 (NLT2)5 As a result, you will be held responsible for the murder of all godly people of all time--from the murder of righteous Abel to the murder of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you killed in the Temple between the sanctuary and the altar. (emphasis mine)
Jonah however gets more than a mere mention. Jesus identified Himself with Jonah’s three days in the fish’s belly as a prediction of His own death and resurrection.
Matthew 12:39-41 (NLT2)39 But Jesus replied, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah.40 For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.41 “The people of Nineveh will stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for they repented of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone greater than Jonah is here—but you refuse to repent. The book of Jonah presents a picture of Christ’s death and resurrection hundreds of years before they actually occurred.
When Jonah got the command from God to preach to the Assyrians he refused because of his desire to see God punish them. He didn’t want to be the one to alert them and give them a chance to seek God’s mercy, which is what they did when he did finally go to Nineveh.
Because of his disobedience God had to break Jonah of his selfishness so the he could relay His message. His time in the fish and his deliverance is a convincing example of salvation coming for the Lord alone.
Jonah 2:9 (NLT2)9 But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the LORD alone.”
Jonah also learns, and conveys to us, that God’s power is supreme and that He is the one who decides where and on whom to pour out his salvation and mercy.
Jonah 4:10-11 (NLT2)10 Then the LORD said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly.11 But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”
God Is Omnipresent
Man is limited by a physical body, and can be only in one place at any one time. God, however, is spirit and can be everywhere in the universe at the same time. This attribute, is also related to His unlimited power to act and to know. God is present everywhere in the sense that everything everywhere is in His presence - He can see, know, and act in all places at once.
Psalm 139:7-10 (NKJV)7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.9 If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,10 Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.
God Is Omniscient
If God has the power to do whatever He chooses to do, it makes sense that He also has unlimited knowledge and wisdom.
Psalm 147:4-5 (NKJV)4 He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.5 Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.
God Is Omnipotent
Man and other created beings have limited power over other created things. Only God has unlimited power over all creation. Absolutely nothing is impossible for Him.
Job 42:1-2 (NKJV) Then Job answered the LORD and said:2 "I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
God Is Sovereign
God is in control of all things, including human decisions.
Psalms 135:6 (NKJV) Whatever the Lord pleases He does, In heaven and in earth, In the seas and in all deep places.
Ephesians 1:11-12 (NKJV) In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
These attributes of God show us that He is Almighty God and can do anything that He wants to do, anywhere and anytime. God is also, good, holy, faithful, loving, just, patient, and righteous, and since these things make up God’s character there are some things He can’t do. What????
Maisie Sparks believes in the omnipotence of God, yet has come up with a list of 101 things God cannot do, including lie, forsake his own, despise a contrite heart, allow anything to separate us from his love, or let our prayers go unanswered.
Here are 20 of those things from her book 101 Things God Can’t Do.
20 Things God Can't Do
It is because God is unable to do these things, that we can do all things through Christ.
“That by two immutable things in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.” – Hebrews 6:18
Can’t Leave You
“And, behold I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.” – Genesis 28:15
Can’t Forsake You
“I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5
Can’t Despise a Broken Heart“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite hear, O God thou wilt not despise” – Psalm 51:17
“Behold, He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” – Psalm 121:4
Can’t Stop Loving You
“I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” – Jeremiah 31:3
Can’t Go Unnoticed
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” – Psalm 19:1
Can’t Bear Sin
“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” – Isaiah 59:2
Can’t Leave Work Unfinished
“Being confident of this very thing, that He which begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:6
Can’t Forget You
“Can a woman forget her suckling child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.”- Isaiah 49:15
Can’t Get Tired
“The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary…” – Isaiah 40:28
Can’t Make Losers
“Now thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ.- 2 Corinthians 2:14
Can’t Be Silenced
“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” – Matthew 24:35
Can’t Be Imperfect
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” – Matthew 5:48
Can’t Be Second
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” – Exodus 20:3
Can’t Be Divided
“I and my Father are one.” – John 10:30
" I am the Lord. I do not change." - Malachi 3:6
Can't Be Destroyed
“Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.” – Psalm 145:13
Can’t Break a Promise
“My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips” – Psalm 89:34
Can’t Be Selfish
“He that spareth not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” – Romans 8:32
The word burnout means “the reduction of a fuel or substance to nothing through use or combustion.” It can also mean “physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.” Both definitions are applicable when it comes to ministry burnout.
In Beware Of Ministry Burnout, my first post on burnout series, I said that the signs that you are heading towards a ministry burnout include; experiencing unexplained stress, depression and/or anxiety. Ministry can be all-consuming. A true spiritual ministry does not exist for the benefit of the ones ministering. It is a call of God to continually give of oneself—to invest time, resources, and energy in work that often has only heavenly reward.
Mark 9:41 NIV Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.
Emotional burnout can be felt when you feel like you don't have anyone you can go to when you are anxious, or stressed out. This type of burnout can wreak a family because of the feelings of isolation. Emotional burnout can numb your ability have normal emotions and have a sense of failure and self-doubt.
Here’s a prayer from Max Lucado’s book Pocket Prayers when you are headed for or suffering “ministry burnout”
Prayers For When You Feel Overwhelmed
Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. -- Psalm 61:1–2
Father in heaven, You are the God of King David and my God too. You reign forever and over everything.
Bring me peace when I am overwhelmed. I don’t know how I can accomplish all of the things I need to get done. Light my path and show me the activities and obligations I can say no to. Help me release the burdens that preoccupy my mind and keep You at bay.
God, please hear the cries of those who feel overwhelmed as they serve You. Many of them don’t feel Your presence right now in their lives. Remind them of Your faithfulness.
Thank You for Your nearness and consistency. Thank You for hearing my cries no matter where I am.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
Your sun shall no longer go down, nor shall your moon withdraw itself; for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended. -- Isaiah 60:20
Father, You have the power to control the sun and the moon. You are the everlasting light.
Help me to see a light at the end of my tunnel.
Sometimes I can barely remember what light looks like or what it feels like to have simple joy. Help me to focus on You even in the darkness.
Support my friends as they suffer losses like miscarriages, death, and illness. When these trials plague those I love, I feel so helpless. Would You show off Your light in their lives?
Thank You, God, that You are our rock and healer and that You will bring our mourning to an end.
In the name of the everlasting Light, amen.
You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head. I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill. -- Psalm 3:3-4
Dear God, holy and mighty one. You are worthy of all praise, all honor. Your steadfast love amazes me each morning.
When I hear voices around me saying I am not good enough, help me hear Your truth in my heart and give me strength.
Be with those who feel inadequate and doubt if anyone cares about them. When they question their value, give them a deeper sense of worth in Christ, and Christ alone.
Thank You that we don’t have to fight for our worth because You have already called us Your children.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
Excerpted with permission from Pocket Prayers by Max Lucado, copyright Max Lucado.
When the chaos of our daily lives becomes overwhelming, where can we turn for peace and rest? Bestselling author Max Lucado points to the Source of all hope and strength in Pocket Prayers. This companion to Before Amen contains forty guided prayers and complementary scriptures for any situation. Pocket Prayers 40 Simple Prayers That Bring Peace And Rest By Max Lucado Price: $2.99
Grace given at special times of need, especially during adversity or suffering.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV) And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Nearly three years ago I started a Grace category for this blog. I started the category with a four part series. In that series I wrote that; “Grace is the most important concept in the Bible, Christianity, and the world. It is most clearly expressed in the promises of God revealed in Scripture and embodied in Jesus Christ himself.”
Dictionary definition for grace;
a. unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification
b. a virtue coming from God
c. a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace
I identified six types of God’s grace.
The kindness or favor God gives to all mankind, believer or not.
Matthew 5:44-45 (NKJV)44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Emphasis mine)
The provision of salvation through Jesus
Romans 5:15-17 (NLT)15 But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ.16 And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins.17 For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.
The favor of God by which the Christian's salvation is kept secure in spite of sin.
John 10:27-29 (NKJV)27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand.
The Spiritual Gifts that believers have been given by the Holy Spirit are serving grace. The Greek word translated grace, charis is the root of the word charisma which is the word Paul used for spiritual gifts.
Ephesians 4:7 (NKJV) But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.
Following something that I read today, the Holy Spirit has prompted me to write more details about these six types of God’s grace, starting with what I read today about His Sustaining Grace in an excerpt from the book The Comeback by Louie Giglio.
Here a description of the book:
Have you ever longed for a comeback?
We all know what it feels like to have life disappoint us and not work out as we’d hoped. We all know what it’s like to long for something different, something better, something more.
The Comeback celebrates new beginnings. It offers encouragement and perspective, and it’s for you if you feel frustrated or confused, if you’re sorrowing or in pain, if you’ve made mistakes or are grieving, if you’re disappointed or feel as though life doesn’t make sense.
The good news is that God is in the business of giving fresh starts to people. He gives hope to the hopeless. Direction to the directionless. Help to those who need help. God is always good, all the time, and God’s plans will always prevail, even when our plans don’t.
God already knows what the solutions are. No matter what kind of disappointment or grief or pain or trouble or heartache you encounter, God always offers a new beginning, a change of heart, or a powerful spiritual turnaround. God offers the way forward, and his pathways are always good.
Your current circumstances will not get the final say in your life. God is the God of the comeback, no matter what kind of challenge you’re facing.
And your story can become a great comeback story too.
The excerpt that I read today, and the one that I am sharing, hit home in a personal way to me because in it Louie talks about those times when there is no comeback. Something has happened in your life that will never be the same again no matter what God does. For me it was the death of my wife of over 40 years. Ruth died, over three years ago, from complications caused by lung cancer. The day that she died, although God gave me His peace that passes all understanding;
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:5-7 NIV
However even with that peace and the knowledge that Ruth was now in the presence of God and that I would see her again, I knew that as long as I was still alive and in this body I would not see, hear, or hold her. A part of my life was gone forever. What I didn’t realize until today is that what has enabled me to go on without great sorrow is God’s Sustaining Grace.
Here’s are some excerpts from Jesus is Enough from The Comeback by Louie Giglio
Sustaining Grace Is Grace Upon Grace Upon Grace
“But what do you do when you can’t come back?”
Jesus is enough
That statement acknowledges there won’t always be happy endings to our comeback stories — at least not here on earth. Things break in this life and can’t always be repaired. Not every story has a happy conclusion on this side of eternity. We don’t understand the reasons God allows grief to come into our lives, but it does.
Still, within the journey, Jesus can become enough for us.
And that’s the strange sort of comeback that God’s Word offers. God can bring Courtney back from her deep loss in a way that only God can define, and the way God is going to bring her back is by being enough for her every day. And God can do the same for you.
I call this sustaining grace, a moment-by-moment grace. It’s the type of grace that God gives for each and every moment of intense grief, frustration, sorrow, agony, or pain. This type of grace is a tailor-made grace specially designed for each person. It does not transfer over, and it’s never repeated exactly the same way, and it’s not experienced the same from person to person.
This grace is specific. Timely. Personal.
This is the type of grace that God gives you when you get a phone call that changes your life forever. The shock of the blow hits you so hard, and your mind is a jumbled mess of questions. Where do I go now? What do I do? Who do I call? God gives you sustaining grace for that moment.
This is the type of grace that God gives you when you walk down a hospital corridor and know that behind the door is the body of the one you love. Nothing can prepare you for this moment. There’s no textbook for this. You have feelings of agony and shock that can’t be put into words, and God gives you a sustaining grace for that moment.
This is the type of grace that God gives you on the day you bury your spouse. You struggle to put one step in front of the other. You can hardly breathe. It feels like half of you has been buried in the grave. And God gives you sustaining grace for that moment.
The sustaining grace you receive in the first moment is different than the grace you receive in the second. And the grace received in the second moment is different than the grace received in the third moment. And in the fiftieth moment. And in the two thousandth moment. And every moment after that.
There is a grace for everything. God gives you what you need, and what you need is Him.
You feel His sustaining grace holding you together. You feel His sustaining grace as you fall apart. You feel this grace because God never leaves you or forsakes you. You feel this grace when you can only be still and know that He is God.
There’s a new grace for you when your child doesn’t live. There’s a new grace for you when your father dies. There’s a new grace for you on the first Father’s Day after your father dies. There’s a new grace for you when you lose a limb to an IED in Iraq. There’s a new grace when you know what’s lost isn’t coming back. There’s a new grace when what was dreamed is never going to come to pass. There’s a new grace when what was hoped for isn’t going to be seen.
This is not a grace that promises you that everything is going to work out for you as you’d hoped. This is not a grace that offers you any guarantees — except one. This grace is seldom fully understood. This grace can hardly be articulated even when it’s felt. This grace is nothing you need to produce on your own. This grace is what God gives to you when you have nothing left. This grace is the only hope of the moment, the hope of Christ today, the grace that Jesus is enough.
Excerpted with permission from The Comeback by Louie Giglio, copyright Louie Giglio.
I’ll end with this prayer for inner peace and calm written by - John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892).
Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways;
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.
Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.
Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.
Psalm 119:1-176 (NKJV)1 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, Who walk in the law of the LORD!2 Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, Who seek Him with the whole heart!3 They also do no iniquity; They walk in His ways.4 You have commanded us To keep Your precepts diligently.5 Oh, that my ways were directed To keep Your statutes!6 Then I would not be ashamed, When I look into all Your commandments.7 I will praise You with uprightness of heart, When I learn Your righteous judgments.8 I will keep Your statutes; Oh, do not forsake me utterly!9 How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!12 Blessed are You, O LORD! Teach me Your statutes!13 With my lips I have declared All the judgments of Your mouth.14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches.15 I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways.16 I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.17 Deal bountifully with Your servant, That I may live and keep Your word.18 Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law.19 I am a stranger in the earth; Do not hide Your commandments from me.20 My soul breaks with longing For Your judgments at all times.21 You rebuke the proud--the cursed, Who stray from Your commandments.22 Remove from me reproach and contempt, For I have kept Your testimonies.23 Princes also sit and speak against me, But Your servant meditates on Your statutes.24 Your testimonies also are my delight And my counselors.25 My soul clings to the dust; Revive me according to Your word.26 I have declared my ways, and You answered me; Teach me Your statutes.27 Make me understand the way of Your precepts; So shall I meditate on Your wondrous works.28 My soul melts from heaviness; Strengthen me according to Your word.29 Remove from me the way of lying, And grant me Your law graciously.30 I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments I have laid before me.31 I cling to Your testimonies; O LORD, do not put me to shame!32 I will run the course of Your commandments, For You shall enlarge my heart.33 Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes, And I shall keep it to the end.34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.35 Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, For I delight in it.36 Incline my heart to Your testimonies, And not to covetousness.37 Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, And revive me in Your way.38 Establish Your word to Your servant, Who is devoted to fearing You.39 Turn away my reproach which I dread, For Your judgments are good.40 Behold, I long for Your precepts; Revive me in Your righteousness.41 Let Your mercies come also to me, O LORD-- Your salvation according to Your word.42 So shall I have an answer for him who reproaches me, For I trust in Your word.43 And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, For I have hoped in Your ordinances.44 So shall I keep Your law continually, Forever and ever.45 And I will walk at liberty, For I seek Your precepts.46 I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings, And will not be ashamed.47 And I will delight myself in Your commandments, Which I love.48 My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments, Which I love, And I will meditate on Your statutes.49 Remember the word to Your servant, Upon which You have caused me to hope.50 This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life.51 The proud have me in great derision, Yet I do not turn aside from Your law.52 I remembered Your judgments of old, O LORD, And have comforted myself.53 Indignation has taken hold of me Because of the wicked, who forsake Your law.54 Your statutes have been my songs In the house of my pilgrimage.55 I remember Your name in the night, O LORD, And I keep Your law.56 This has become mine, Because I kept Your precepts.57 You are my portion, O LORD; I have said that I would keep Your words.58 I entreated Your favor with my whole heart; Be merciful to me according to Your word.59 I thought about my ways, And turned my feet to Your testimonies60 I made haste, and did not delay To keep Your commandments.61 The cords of the wicked have bound me, But I have not forgotten Your law.62 At midnight I will rise to give thanks to You, Because of Your righteous judgments.63 I am a companion of all who fear You, And of those who keep Your precepts.64 The earth, O LORD, is full of Your mercy; Teach me Your statutes.65 You have dealt well with Your servant, O LORD, according to Your word.66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge, For I believe Your commandments.67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word.68 You are good, and do good; Teach me Your statutes.69 The proud have forged a lie against me, But I will keep Your precepts with my whole heart.70 Their heart is as fat as grease, But I delight in Your law.71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.72 The law of Your mouth is better to me Than thousands of coins of gold and silver.73 Your hands have made me and fashioned me; Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.74 Those who fear You will be glad when they see me, Because I have hoped in Your word.75 I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right, And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.76 Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort, According to Your word to Your servant.77 Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live; For Your law is my delight.78 Let the proud be ashamed, For they treated me wrongfully with falsehood; But I will meditate on Your precepts.79 Let those who fear You turn to me, Those who know Your testimonies.80 Let my heart be blameless regarding Your statutes, That I may not be ashamed.81 My soul faints for Your salvation, But I hope in Your word.82 My eyes fail from searching Your word, Saying, "When will You comfort me?"83 For I have become like a wineskin in smoke, Yet I do not forget Your statutes.84 How many are the days of Your servant? When will You execute judgment on those who persecute me?85 The proud have dug pits for me, Which is not according to Your law.86 All Your commandments are faithful; They persecute me wrongfully; Help me!87 They almost made an end of me on earth, But I did not forsake Your precepts.88 Revive me according to Your lovingkindness, So that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth.89 Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.90 Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth, and it abides.91 They continue this day according to Your ordinances, For all are Your servants.92 Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction.93 I will never forget Your precepts, For by them You have given me life.94 I am Yours, save me; For I have sought Your precepts.95 The wicked wait for me to destroy me, But I will consider Your testimonies.96 I have seen the consummation of all perfection, But Your commandment is exceedingly broad.97 Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me.99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation.100 I understand more than the ancients, Because I keep Your precepts.101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way, That I may keep Your word.102 I have not departed from Your judgments, For You Yourself have taught me.103 How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth!104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way.105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.106 I have sworn and confirmed That I will keep Your righteous judgments.107 I am afflicted very much; Revive me, O LORD, according to Your word.108 Accept, I pray, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD, And teach me Your judgments.109 My life is continually in my hand, Yet I do not forget Your law.110 The wicked have laid a snare for me, Yet I have not strayed from Your precepts.111 Your testimonies I have taken as a heritage forever, For they are the rejoicing of my heart.112 I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes Forever, to the very end.113 I hate the double-minded, But I love Your law.114 You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word.115 Depart from me, you evildoers, For I will keep the commandments of my God!116 Uphold me according to Your word, that I may live; And do not let me be ashamed of my hope.117 Hold me up, and I shall be safe, And I shall observe Your statutes continually.118 You reject all those who stray from Your statutes, For their deceit is falsehood.119 You put away all the wicked of the earth like dross; Therefore I love Your testimonies.120 My flesh trembles for fear of You, And I am afraid of Your judgments.121 I have done justice and righteousness; Do not leave me to my oppressors.122 Be surety for Your servant for good; Do not let the proud oppress me.123 My eyes fail from seeking Your salvation And Your righteous word.124 Deal with Your servant according to Your mercy, And teach me Your statutes.125 I am Your servant; Give me understanding, That I may know Your testimonies.126 It is time for You to act, O LORD, For they have regarded Your law as void.127 Therefore I love Your commandments More than gold, yes, than fine gold!128 Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way.129 Your testimonies are wonderful; Therefore my soul keeps them.130 The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.131 I opened my mouth and panted, For I longed for Your commandments.132 Look upon me and be merciful to me, As Your custom is toward those who love Your name.133 Direct my steps by Your word, And let no iniquity have dominion over me.134 Redeem me from the oppression of man, That I may keep Your precepts.135 Make Your face shine upon Your servant, And teach me Your statutes.136 Rivers of water run down from my eyes, Because men do not keep Your law.137 Righteous are You, O LORD, And upright are Your judgments.138 Your testimonies, which You have commanded, Are righteous and very faithful.139 My zeal has consumed me, Because my enemies have forgotten Your words.140 Your word is very pure; Therefore Your servant loves it.141 I am small and despised, Yet I do not forget Your precepts.142 Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law is truth.143 Trouble and anguish have overtaken me, Yet Your commandments are my delights.144 The righteousness of Your testimonies is everlasting; Give me understanding, and I shall live.145 I cry out with my whole heart; Hear me, O LORD! I will keep Your statutes.146 I cry out to You; Save me, and I will keep Your testimonies.147 I rise before the dawning of the morning, And cry for help; I hope in Your word.148 My eyes are awake through the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word.149 Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness; O LORD, revive me according to Your justice.150 They draw near who follow after wickedness; They are far from Your law.151 You are near, O LORD, And all Your commandments are truth.152 Concerning Your testimonies, I have known of old that You have founded them forever.153 Consider my affliction and deliver me, For I do not forget Your law.154 Plead my cause and redeem me; Revive me according to Your word.155 Salvation is far from the wicked, For they do not seek Your statutes.156 Great are Your tender mercies, O LORD; Revive me according to Your judgments.157 Many are my persecutors and my enemies, Yet I do not turn from Your testimonies.158 I see the treacherous, and am disgusted, Because they do not keep Your word.159 Consider how I love Your precepts; Revive me, O LORD, according to Your lovingkindness.160 The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.161 Princes persecute me without a cause, But my heart stands in awe of Your word.162 I rejoice at Your word As one who finds great treasure.163 I hate and abhor lying, But I love Your law.164 Seven times a day I praise You, Because of Your righteous judgments.165 Great peace have those who love Your law, And nothing causes them to stumble.166 LORD, I hope for Your salvation, And I do Your commandments.167 My soul keeps Your testimonies, And I love them exceedingly.168 I keep Your precepts and Your testimonies, For all my ways are before You.169 Let my cry come before You, O LORD; Give me understanding according to Your word.170 Let my supplication come before You; Deliver me according to Your word.171 My lips shall utter praise, For You teach me Your statutes.172 My tongue shall speak of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness.173 Let Your hand become my help, For I have chosen Your precepts.174 I long for Your salvation, O LORD, And Your law is my delight.175 Let my soul live, and it shall praise You; And let Your judgments help me.176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; Seek Your servant, For I do not forget Your commandments.
THE GREATNESS AND GLORY OF GOD’S WORD
Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. Most commentators believe that it was written by David and composed throughout his entire life. Others believe that it was written after the Babylonian exile. It was likely written over some period of time and later compiled, because there is no definite flow of thought from the beginning to the end.
The psalm is arranged in an acrostic pattern. Meaning that it is written so that each section is given a letter of the Hebrew alphabet and and each line in that section begins with that letter. There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, and this Psalm contains 22 sections of 8 verses each. The closest parallel to this pattern in Scripture is in Lamentations 3, which is also divided into 22 sections.
This psalm refers to the Torah as God’s revealed Word. The English word “Torah” comes from the Hebrew word toh·rahʹ, which can be translated as “instruction,” “teaching,” or “law.” Toh·rahʹ often refers to the first five books of the Bible—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, as God revealed them to Moses. These are also called the Pentateuch, from a Greek word meaning “fivefold volume.” The Torah was written by Moses, so it is called “the book of the Law of Moses.” Evidently, it was originally written as one book and divided later.
Psalm 119 refers to the revealed Word of God over and over again, and is mentioned in at least 171 of its 176 verses.
There are 8 basic words used to describe the Word;
The lessons from this psalm are that the Word of God is sufficient to make us wise, train us in righteousness, and equip us for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV)16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The Scriptures are a reflection of God’s nature, and from them we learn that we can trust His character and His plan and purposes for mankind, even when those plans include affliction and persecution. We are blessed if we delight ourselves in His law (Word) and meditate on it day and night.
Psalm 1:1-2 (NKJV)1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. (Emphasis mine).
Psalm 37:4-6 (NKJV)4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday.
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.