Luke 10:38-42 NLT As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
One of the major reasons of burnout is busyness. We put too much pressure on ourselves. We believe that we have to get everything done today, and that it has to be done our way. When we put that kind of pressure on ourselves and we can't get it things done then we stress out. Too much stress and then we burn out.
Busyness is today’s badge of success. We even carry this over to ministry, thinking the busier we are for God, the more He must be blessing our church, our business, or our ministry. But God would rather have us be with Him than do a bunch of things for Him.
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?”
Yes, we are to work hard when we work
Colossians 3:23-24 (NLT2)23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.24 Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.
The Bible calls those who will not work lazy, Proverbs is full of sayings about being lazy and the circumstances from it.
Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth. He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son. Proverbs 10:4-5 NIV
Proverbs 19:15 (NLT2) Lazy people sleep soundly, but idleness leaves them hungry.
But the Bible also calls those who will not rest disobedient.
Deuteronomy 5:12-15 (NLT2)12 “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you.13 You have six days each week for your ordinary work,14 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 oxen and donkeys and other livestock, and any foreigners living among you. All your male and female servants must rest as you do.15 Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, but the LORD your God brought you out with his strong hand and powerful arm. That is why the LORD your God has commanded you to rest on the Sabbath day.
We’re a culture that glorifies busy. It’s a mantle we wear with pride. When someone asks us how we’re doing, we respond with a “I’m good, but crazy busy.”
We seem to derive our value from asserting that we’re just so much busier than the next person. Our over packed, overwhelmed schedules actually give us a sense of pride, even a sense of identity.
When the fast food chain Chick Fil A decided that it would stay closed on Sundays, everyone was shocked. Sunday was the day that fast food restaurants made the most money. Today, the company generates more revenue per restaurant than any other fast-food chain in the US, and it's only open six days a week.
God honors us when we honor Him with our time.
If you and I are too busy for prayer, then we are simply too busy. If we are too busy to read the Bible, then we are simply too busy.
Maybe you and I should reorder our priorities so we make time for the things that are important and not merely what’s urgent.
Gracious God, I marvel at the fact that You’re never too busy for me. Scripture says that Your ear is inclined toward me. Help me realize that being too busy to spend time with You actually depletes me and drains me of life and energy. Help me, Father, to always prioritize time with you. Amen
- From “Finding Rest In A Busy World” Reading Plan by Susan Narjala
Those of you that follow me on Facebook, Google+ or this blog know that over the past several months I’ve been writing about burnout. Whenever I see or find something that I believe the Holy Spirit wants me to share with you I published it in my blog..
In one of my first posts on burnout I gave you five signs that you may be headed for burnout;
We stress when we hide our hearts and go into survival mode, going through our checklists and ignoring what we need most: love.
Today I want to give you some more things to look out for to keep you from falling into the burnout pit. The eleven warning signs are excerpts, edited by me.
Some of you might be really alarmed right now because you’re registering eight out of eleven symptoms—or maybe all eleven. Some of you might be concerned for your spouse or a best friend because you recognize the symptoms in him or her. So what do you do?
If you show any signs of burnout, Get help. The best help will come from a combination of the care of a medical doctor and an excellent, trained Christian counselor (if you can't find a trained Christian counselor find a counselor anyway). Your medical doctor will help you figure out how serious your symptoms are, and a skilled counselor will help you identify the reasons and conditions that caused you to burn out. If you’re in a state of burnout or nearing it, I can guarantee that you have issues.
Get help! If you don't you’ll not only hurt yourself but those you love and those who love you.
Psalm 27:14 (NKJV) Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!
You may be praying for something that hasn’t happened yet. Maybe it’s for you, a friend, or family member to be healed of an illness, maybe it’s for a financial blessing, maybe it’s for a new job, maybe it’s for a spouse, whatever it is hasn’t happened and you are wondering if it will ever happen. Yes, you have faith in God and His promises but it’s so hard to wait.
Waiting doesn't mean just sitting around and doing nothing but waiting on God is active as we exercise faith in Him. While we wait never forget that God is with us as we wait.
Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
While we wait God may be working to put things in place for the perfect time. Waiting teaches us patience which will end in perfection.
James 1:2-4 NLT Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
I am learning to wait patiently on God’s timing. I’m not there yet but I’m getting better.
What does waiting on God involve?
Waiting Means Resting
Resting in the Lord requires patience. That doesn’t mean doing nothing because patience is active. Patience requires an act of your will. You determine that you will wait on the Lord.
Psalm 37:7 (NKJV)7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
This is the psalm that we Christians like to quote
Psalm 37:4 (NKJV)4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Part of the delighting ourselves in the Lord is waiting on His timing.
Waiting Means Listening
Actively listening for further instructions instead of running headlong toward our idea of a solution. We listen by reading and studying God’s word, talking to other believers, listening to the Holy Spirit during our quiet times with God. When we get further instructions then we follow them even if the instructions are to continue waiting.
Psalm 143:8 (NLT)8 Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.
Waiting Means Accepting
When we wait we must accept what God is doing in our lives.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
Waiting Means Surrendering
Some of us may have to give up what seems like an immediate need and then resist the temptation to set our own timeline. Surrender the timing to God.
Ecclesiastes 8:6 (NLT) for there is a time and a way for everything, even when a person is in trouble.
Waiting Means Anticipating
Our waiting is purposeful anticipation that God will accomplish His purposes for our lives.
Isaiah 55:10-11(NLT)10 “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry.m11 It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
How to Keep “Waiting Time” from Being “Wasted Time”
* Dr. Robert Jeffress
** Bold Emphasis mine
“In life, God will always work sovereignly, strangely, and slowly,” pastor and author Steve Farrar says. “He will take time, but He will not waste time.”
In this culture of ours, we have become accustomed to things happening quickly. Fast food. Online check-ins. Call ahead seating. One-hour photo processing. And while these cultural conveniences are minor in the grand scheme of things, they certainly haven’t helped us learn how to wait on the big things.
We’ve been praying for a new job. For healing from a dreadful disease. For God’s direction, His supernatural wisdom and discernment, a display of His power in and provision for our lives. We don’t understand why it’s taking so long for Him to answer. We don’t understand why we are having to wait.
But those who desire to experience an extraordinary life will learn the value of waiting on God’s timing.
Waiting time does not have to be wasted time. God often calls on us to take a time-out, because waiting has always been a part of God’s plan for those He uses in a powerful way. God’s most extraordinary servants have had to learn that significance is developed not on the playground of activity, but during the quiet recesses.
Elijah was one of these extraordinary servants. After Elijah’s initial confrontation with Ahab, God told the prophet to leave Samaria and go to the wilderness. “The word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘Go away from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan’” (1 Kings 17:2–3).
Why would God send the one man in all of Israel willing to stand up to the godlessness that had gripped the nation to sit beside a small creek in the desert? I do not think it was for Elijah’s protection. God was more than capable of ensuring that no harm came to His prophet without hiding him in the desert.
Instead, God reassigned Elijah to the wilderness for two other reasons. First, Elijah’s withdrawal from the national scene was itself a judgment against the nation of Israel. Additionally, God would also use this parenthesis in Elijah’s ministry to prepare him for a great future mission. By isolating him in that uncomfortable place, God was teaching Elijah to trust Him in ways he had never trusted before. This deepening of Elijah’s faith was not optional, but essential for the future assignment God had in mind for His prophet.
Perhaps you are in a similar place in your life in which you feel cut off from others and even from God. Your Cherith may be the result of:
- the loss of a significant relationship due to death or desertion of another person,
- a moral failure in your life that continues to produce painful consequences,
- a poor decision in your finances or your career that has separated you from your dreams, or
fulfilling the mundane—and often unrewarded—responsibilities of caring for your family.
Although your present circumstances make you feel cut off from the life you dreamed of, God is using this experience to cut down your reliance on anything or anyone other than Him so you might learn to trust God completely. Learning to depend upon God fully is vital for anyone who wants to experience an extraordinary life.
During Elijah’s boot camp experience, God taught his servant three vital skills necessary for spiritual success—skills we must develop as well if we want to experience a significant life. These three skills are what we need to keep our “waiting time” from becoming “wasted time.”
1. Walk with God Daily
The path God calls us to walk is one of faith and obedience, not sight and independence. Paul encouraged the Corinthian believers with this truth: “we walk by faith, not by sight”
2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV) For we walk by faith, not by sight.
God is not in the habit of revealing His entire plan for our life all at once. If He did, we would race forward without ever feeling the need to slow down, listen to His voice, and wait on His direction. While God does not unravel His entire blueprint for our lives, He can always be trusted to reveal to us the next thing we need to do. Every Christian who wants to experience an extraordinary life needs to answer the question, “What is the next thing God wants me to do?”
For Elijah, God’s answer came through a simple command:
“Go away from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan” (1 Kings 17:2–3). God did not reveal to Elijah what every day would be like at Cherith, the next phase of his training at Zarephath, or the daunting contest that awaited him on Mount Carmel. The Lord simply revealed to His servant what he was to do next.
What was true in Elijah’s life is true in yours. Usually, God only reveals as much of His plan for your life as you need today. Do not worry about what He has in store for you in the next year, the next month, or even the next day. “Tomorrow will care for itself,” Jesus said. “Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt. 6:34).
2. Obey God Completely
When God recalled Elijah from the palace and redeployed him to the wilderness, he did not balk. Elijah did not dig in his heels and remind the Lord that He was the one who had dispatched him to Samaria on this risky mission in the first place. Nor did Elijah protest the unreasonableness of going into hiding when his influence was making such a difference in the culture. Instead, when the Lord told Elijah to pack his backpack for a camping trip, he obeyed instantly: “So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and lived by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan” (1 Kings 17:5).
I think about the honest confession of my friend and mentor Dr. Howard Hendricks, who said, “The Lord and I have a running argument. I constantly attempt to impress him with how much I know. He constantly seeks to impress me with how little I have obeyed.” If a godly leader like Howard Hendricks struggled with obedience, then why should you or I be surprised by our difficulty in obeying God immediately and completely?
However, Elijah not only preached God’s Word to others but also practiced God’s Word himself. When God spoke, Elijah listened and obeyed. God’s prophet in hiding was a living illustration of what the New Testament writer James had in mind when he exhorted Christians to be “doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22).
3. Trust God Absolutely
God promised that He would take care of Elijah at Cherith. Though the means of God’s provision seemed unusual, Elijah trusted God without reservation. The Lord said to Elijah, “It shall be that you will drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there” (1 Kings 17:4).
After Elijah found a spot to set up camp, the Lord dispatched ravens to feed His hungry prophet. Twice a day, morning and evening, those big black birds brought Elijah bread and meat, and he drank from the clear, clean water of Cherith.
1 Kings 17:6 (NKJV) The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook.
Every day Elijah experienced the truth one of Israel’s kings had written years earlier:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:5–6)
If Elijah had chosen to “lean on his own understanding,” then he would not have retreated to Cherith after his initial successful encounter with Ahab. Instead, he would have embarked on a speaking tour throughout Israel! He would have called the people back to faithfulness, cajoling the nation to repent from its idolatry. He probably would have immediately challenged the prophets of Baal to a showdown on Mount Carmel. After all, Elijah was a hot commodity in Israel. Everyone was talking about this up-and-coming unknown prophet who had the courage to confront the most powerful person in the nation.
But that was the very thing God did not want Elijah to do—not at that time, anyway. God wanted His prophet to regroup, rethink, and renew his soul. And in Elijah’s process of waiting for his next assignment and trusting the Lord to provide for his needs, God would refine and strengthen his faith.
Cherith seems like an odd place for a successful prophet to wait, but it was exactly the place where God wanted Elijah.
What about you? Are you where God wants you to be right now—even if it is in the waiting place? If so, He will provide. Not necessarily all at once, but day by day. Learn the lesson Elijah learned: trust the Giver of gifts more than the gifts themselves. Your waiting time will not be wasted.
** Dr. Robert Jeffress is senior pastor of the 13,000-member First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, a Fox News contributor, and a member of the executive committee of the White House Faith Initiative. He is the author of the new book Choosing the Extraordinary Life, available now. Jeffress’ daily radio program, Pathway to Victory, is heard on more than 930 stations nationwide, and his weekly television program is seen on thousands of cable systems and stations in the US and in nearly 200 countries around the world.
Think about this for a minute. Those of us whose ancestors went through the degradation of slavery, the beatings, the separation of families, the total loss a personal and familial identity, ancestry and heritage we have a tiny idea of what it was like for Jesus when on the cross. He was beaten, and killed, not for anything that He had done but for all of the sins committed by all those before He came to earth, those committed during the time that He was on earth, and every sin that will be committed until He returns to the earth. Think about that and then think about this; God commanded that no Israelite be punished to the extent that he or she was degraded.
Deuteronomy 25:1-3 ESV "If there is a dispute between men and they come into court and the judges decide between them, acquitting the innocent and condemning the guilty, then if the guilty man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall cause him to lie down and be beaten in his presence with a number of stripes in proportion to his offense. Forty stripes may be given him, but not more, lest, if one should go on to beat him with more stripes than these, your brother be degraded in your sight.
Yet He allowed His Son, Jesus, to be beaten to a pulp and then hung on a cross with a crown of thorns to mock the fact that He was a king. God the Father allowed His Son to be degraded, to be treated or regarded with contempt or disrespect for you!
This is something that we as humans can’t understand. All that we can do is praise and worship the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit for His love, grace, and mercy.
After reading “A Prayer of Praise for the Cross” written by Mark Altrogge, I have an even greater appreciation of what really happened on the cross.
A Prayer of Praise for the Cross
By Mark Altrogge
“If there is a dispute between men and they come into court and the judges decide between them, acquitting the innocent and condemning the guilty, then if the guilty man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall cause him to lie down and be beaten in his presence with a number of stripes in proportion to his offense. Forty stripes may be given him, but not more, lest, if one should go on to beat him with more stripes than these, your brother be degraded in your sight.” (Deuteronomy 25:1-3)
How merciful God was in dealing with Israel. A convicted man was to be whipped in the presence of the judge. But he was only to be given a number of strokes in proportion to his crime. The maximum he could receive was 40 stripes, so that he would not be degraded in the sight of his brother. Some crimes might have deserved more than 40 strokes, but God in his kindness did not want to see anyone humiliated in front of his brothers.
But he did not show the same mercy toward his Son.
Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified. (MT 27:26)
The ESV footnote for the word “scourged? says: “A Roman judicial penalty, consisting of a severe beating with a multi-lashed whip containing imbedded pieces of bone and metal.” These cruel whips would literally shred the skin of one’s back and sides.
God, who would spare a guilty man from excessive whipping so he would not be humiliated in front of his brother, did not spare Jesus from degradation. How dehumanizing it was when the Roman soldiers mercilessly whipped him, crowned him with thorns, draped a purple robe over his shoulders, placed a reed in his hands for a scepter, then bowed before him paying him mock homage. How degrading as they struck him and spit in his face. How degrading it was when they stripped him in front of everyone than crucified him like a criminal. How humiliating it was for Jesus to hang there gasping for air, while the crowd mocked and laughed at him in his suffering.
Jesus endured the ultimate degradation of becoming so identified with our sin that his own Father poured out his wrath upon him.
He did all that for us – guilty sinners – we deserved to be degraded and humiliated in the ultimate sense. To perish in hell for eternity. But when we believe in Jesus and call upon him to save us, instead of receiving the degradation we deserve, he clothes us with his righteousness, adopts us as his own children, crowns us with glory. What an incredible, amazing God we serve!
O Lord Jesus, you were scourged and humiliated and degraded for me that I might be lifted up, adopted as a child of God, and share in your inheritance. All glory, honor and praise to you.
Philippians 4:7 ESV And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Peace isn’t a given Today there is the fear of terrorist attacks and civil disorder. Fear created by those running for political office that pits races, religions, and those with different sexual orientations against against each anxiety over the economy, health scares over new diseases or old one for which there is no cure, fear of being alone, on and on.
Even though we Christians live in a world with all this fear around us and who go through the same issues or situations or circumstances as the world and who yes do become afraid, have been from God and that gift is peace. At those times I become anxious because I don’t think I’ll have enough money to pay my bills, eat, or deal with emergencies I pray and acknowledge my anxiety, but I also remember that at similar times I had the same anxiety and God was faithful to do what He said that he would do and I was no longer anxious. I had been given the gift of peace. The young man who leads a bible study at my church often reminds us that when we pray God may not answer right away or He may no answer in the way we envisioned or would like but we can be sure that He will always give us peace.Peace is a gift from God. It’s nothing we can earn. We can strive for it, pray for it, work for it but in the final analysis it’s a gift. If we accept it as a gift then and serve Christ knowing that then God is pleased and because we have become peacemakers through the Holy Spirit, people will be pleased with us also. For our part we should work to have the gift of peace work through me in the church and if others do the same we will all be built up.
Top 20 Bible Verses for Finding Peace
Written by: Brannon Deibert
Published: August 23, 2018
Peace is often sought but not always found in this chaotic world we inhabit today. In order to live peacefully, both internally and externally, we need a foundation of faith and appreciation. Throughout history, Christians have turned to the Word of God as providing this foundation of faith. Scripture reminds us what we have to be thankful for and what truly matters, as we frequently forget. In gratitude of this, here we have gathered 20 Bible verses for finding peace.
2 Thessalonians 3:16 ESV Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.
John 16:33 ESV I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."
Philippians 4:6 ESV Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Isaiah 26:3 ESV You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
Matthew 5:9 ESV "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
1 Peter 5:7 ESV Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Romans 12:18 ESV If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
1 Peter 3:11 ESV Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.
Romans 15:13 ESV May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Hebrews 12:14 ESV Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV 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 4:8 ESV In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
Isaiah 12:2 ESV "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation."
1 Corinthians 14:33 ESV For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints,
Proverbs 12:20 ESV Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy.
Galatians 5:22 ESV But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
1 Peter 3:9-11 ESV Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For "Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.
Proverbs 16:7 ESV When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Colossians 3:15 ESV And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Romans 8:6 ESV For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
Psalm 46:1-11 (NKJV)1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.2 Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;3 Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.6 The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted.7 The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has made desolations in the earth.9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire.10 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!11 The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
A Mighty Fortress
God is our refuge and strength - God is a place to which we may flee for safety; a source of strength to us in danger. The word, "refuge," is from nāṣāʾ a verb meaning to "flee," and then "to flee to" - or to take shelter in, a place to which one would flee in time of danger -like a wall; a high tower; a fort; a fortress.
Psalm 18:2 (NKJV) The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
The idea here is, that the people of God, in time of danger, may find Him to be what such a place of refuge would be.
Proverbs 18:10 (NKJV) The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.
The word "strength" implies that God is the source of strength to those who are weak and defenseless; or that we may rely on his strength "as if" it were our own; or that we may feel as safe in his strength as though we had that strength ourselves. We may make it the basis of our confidence as really as though the strength was our own.
A very present help - The word "help" here means aid, assistance. The word "trouble" would cover all that can come upon us which would give us anxiety or sorrow. The word rendered "present" māṣāʾmeans, "is found," or "has been found;" that is, he has "proved" Himself to be a help in trouble. The word "present," as if he were near to us, or close by us, does not accurately express the idea, which is rather, that "he has been found" to be present, or that he has always "proved" himself to be such a help, and that, because of that we can trust Him. The word "very," or "exceedingly," is added to qualify the whole proposition, meaning that this is "emphatically true." God had always been found to be such a helper, and, "therefore," there was nothing to fear.
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
Lyrics by Martin Luther
A mighty Fortress is our God,
A Bulwark never failing;
Our Helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth His Name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo! his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers,
No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through Him who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His Kingdom is forever.
Martin Luther wrote the words and composed the melody sometime between 1527 and 1529. It has been translated into English at least seventy times and also into many other languages. The words are a paraphrase of Psalm 46.
I’ve often wondered where I would be financially, spiritually, or emotionally if I had allowed the Holy Spirit to direct me. If I had heeded what it says in Proverbs;
Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
When I look back I realize that I was either rebelling against what my grandmother thought I should do (she wanted me to be a preacher), or trying to be like someone that I thought was successful. I also took up some of the not so good things that I saw my father do. Still today I see the success
of many of my high school and college classmates and wonder why I was not as successful.
After reading the chorus of a song called “I Can Just Be Me” written by
Laura Story, I realized that I had just preached a sermon “God’s Masterpiece”, that had a real message that I didn't see until I read those words.
In that sermon, although I never said that you shouldn't compare yourself with anybody else, it’s obvious to me today that was one of, if not the major point of that message.
Here is some of what I said in that sermon;
What would you say is the greatest of His masterpieces?
You could give many different answers to that question. Many would say that God’s greatest masterpiece is the sunset that paints the evening sky or the millions of stars that twinkle so beautifully each night. Others might point to the majestic mountain ranges or the mighty, rushing rivers. And some might say the flowers that bloom in the spring or the many amazing creatures that populate our planet. All of those masterpieces are impressive, but none of them are the greatest that God has created.
If you are a Christian you probably saw one of these works of art already today . . . that is, if you looked in a mirror. Yes, YOU are the greatest of God’s masterpieces.
Each one of us is completely unique – there will never be anyone just like you. God knows all of us personally with all our strengths and weaknesses.
David said in
Psalms 139:13-14 NASB For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.
God has a plan for us, even before we are conceived
Jeremiah 1:5 NASB "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations"
According to Scripture, there is a unique and custom-designed plan that God has in store just for those who have put their trust in Jesus Christ.
A masterpiece, when talking about a poem or work of art indicates that it is perfect.When I look at my life, I guarantee you that I don’t see perfection. When we see ourselves, we tend to see our flaws. We see so many things that need to change.Yet God says, that you are His workmanship. “You are my work of art. You are my poem. You are my masterwork.”
Ephesians 2:10 ESV For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
God is not like a doting father who’s oblivious to his child’s faults. Rather, He is your all-knowing, yet all-powerful Father in heaven who can see what you will be when it is all said and done. God can look at you and can see what you will become before you have actually become it. We look at ourselves and say, “I don’t get it. This doesn’t look like a perfect person. This doesn’t look like a work of beauty.” , but God sees you through the lens of Jesus’ work on the cross.
2 Corinthians 5:20-21 NASB Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
That's how God sees you. He sees you as the righteousness of God through Christ.
You are a masterpiece that is a work in progress. It is a process that doesn’t happen overnight. It is going to take all of your life on Earth. It won’t be completely finished until you get to heaven.
Then you will see that you indeed are a perfect work of art — God’s masterpiece. God has created you to be a masterpiece so that He could show you off! He has a plan and purpose for you. He wants you to be that showpiece everyone talks about. The next time you look in the mirror say it out loud for your brain to capture. “I am God’s masterpiece!”
Lyrics to “I Can Just Be Me”
I've been doing all that I can
To hold it all together
Piece by piece.
I've been feeling like a failure,
Trying to be braver
Than I could ever be.
It's just not me.
So be my healer, be my comfort, be my peace.
Cause I can be broken, I can be needy,
Lord I need You now to be,
Be my God, so I can just be me.
I've been living like an orphan,
Trying to belong here,
But it's just not my home.
I've been holding on so tightly,
To all the things that I think
Could satisfy my soul.
But I'm letting go
So be my father, my mighty warrior, be my king.
Cause I can be scattered, frail and shattered,
Lord I need You now to be,
Be my God, so I can just be me.
Cause I was lost in this dark world
Until I was finally found in You
So now I'm needing, desperately pleading
Oh Lord, be all to me
And be my savior, be my lifeline, won't You be my everything.
Cause I'm so tired of trying to be someone
I was never meant to be
Be my God
Please be my God
Be my God
So I can just be me
So I can just be me
I can just be me.
Songwriters: Jason Ingram / Laura Story
Every time something bad happens, a disaster, a death, an illness, or a financial catastrophe, many people either ask “Why would God allow this to happen” or why did God do this”? When things happen that don’t appear to make sense, or go against what we think is good, we say God did it or allowed. It probably doesn’t surprise you that many Christians who don’t like Donald Trump or voted for him try to rationalize it by saying that “God put him in”. I’ve heard that very thing more times than you think. We say that God does or allows bad stuff because we don’t understand how a God that we know loves us can allow us go through situations that stretch our abilities as human beings to handle or understand. Why are we struck with a debilitating illness in the prime of life, why does one of our children die young, or why do we lose a job right after we sign a big mortgage? What about facing foreclosure because we haven’t been able to find a job? Why is your spouse stricken with a chronic illness ending in death? When these things happen in succession we search for answers. When we Christians say that God does or allows these things, without any explanation, why would anybody want to become a Christian? Think about it. If on the one hand we say that God is love, merciful, faithful, compassionate, and forgiving, and on the other hand say that God took a loved one, or caused a natural disaster just to punish, or teach us a lesson what kind of message are we sending?
Christians and non believers alike might wonder, “What do you think they did to deserve cancer?” If someone’s wife walks out, insensitive churchgoers might think, “If he had been a better spiritual leader, his wife wouldn’t have done that.” If a teenager is rebellious, hardened onlookers might privately reflect, “If that kid’s parents had been more involved, this never would have happened.” When we are going through a tough time, or have a tragic loss our well-meaning Christian friends say “This was God’s will,” and that, “we don’t always understand why God does what God does, but we must accept God’s will.” What a terrible thing to say! I don’t believe that it is God’s will that we face disaster. I haven’t been able to find anywhere in the Bible that God wants His children to suffer.
1 Thessalonians 5:9 (NLT) For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us.
How about turning the question around and asking "Why would an all-good, all-knowing, and all-powerful God allow good things to happen to bad people?" After all, if seeing good people suffer is horrible, it's not much fun seeing evil people having fun either.
Being a Christian doesn't exempt you from suffering. Jesus Himself assured us that there will be trouble in our lives.
John 16:33 (NKJV)33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
1 Peter 4:12 (NKJV)12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;
The Bible tells us that no matter the situation we are never alone.
Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Hebrews 13:5-6 NIV Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
Psalm 34:19 NIV The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all;
However when troubles linger lingers and even more trouble comes we may may start to wonder it anybody hears or really cares. When it get to that point we need to be reminded that God who made those promises loves us.
1 John 4:7-11 NIV Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
He’s left us reminders of that love!
Reminder #1 Creation
The creation itself should remind us of how all powerful God is. It is also evidence that He does, in fact, exist. The very fact that he created the universe and then allowed us to be masters over the earth should remind us that there is somebody out there who is bigger than we are.
Romans 1:20 (NLT)20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
These things about God’s creation remind us of how big God is, His faithfulness, and proof that He loves you.
● The next time you see a sunrise, remind yourself, God is faithful.
● The next time you see snow-covered mountains with their peaks pointing toward the sky, remind yourself, God is faithful.
● The next time you see flowers that have burst into bloom because winter couldn’t stop them from developing in the hidden places, remind yourself, God is faithful.
● The next time you hold a soft-skinned baby in your arms, remind yourself, God is faithful.
And the biggest thing of all is that we are made in God’s image.
Genesis 1:26 (NLT)26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like ourselves. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”
Reminder #2: The People We Meet
God uses what we may consider chance meetings or encounters to benefit us later. God had plans for you before you were born. Like the prophet Jeremiah
Jeremiah 1:5 (NLT) “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”
You’ve never met anybody by accident.
Psalms 37:23 NLT The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.
Reminder #3: The Circumstances We Go Through
Our circumstances change and they change us. For example moving from one city to another is a change in location or circumstance. There are two possibilities. We can be put in a situation where it is more expensive to live than where we were before and that creates stress. That’s a change for the worse, at least for a while. On the other hand we move from one city to another and we get a huge increase in income, that’s a change of circumstance that is for the good. But in either case it the change in circumstance changes us.
Reminder #4: Jesus - The Greatest Reminder
Jesus is the greatest reminder of all of God’s love. When things seem so overwhelming we need to change our focus. When we realize that God gave His Son Jesus so that He could pay the ransom for mankind and take the punishment of sin we know that God loves us. Jesus came and willingly laid down His life as our sacrifice He then sent the Holy Spirit by and through whom we are able to live a life that is pleasing to God.
When you wrestle with anxiety and stress especially in situations where you have no control remember all that He went through for you. Remember the agony in the garden of Gethsemane, the humiliation at His trial, the paid of the beatings and finally His crucifixion. It looked as if He had no control over any of this but on the third day He rose from the dead to show that God never lost control. Jesus is the Great Reminder that God loves you.
In addition to these reminders that God loves you there are other certainties about God and His relationship with the believer.
6 Certainties to Give You Hope in Times of Suffering
*Scriptures inserted by me
When times of heartache and trouble come our way, don’t we begin to trade certainties that we have never doubted for the uncertainties and unknowns that may or may not even exist?
You lose your job and your mind immediately races to I’ll never get hired again. But that’s an uncertainty. Don’t trade the fact God is your provider for uncertainties that may or may not be the case.
Your relationship fractures and you assume I’ll never meet anyone else who could make me happy again. But again, that’s an uncertainty. Don’t trade the fact that God knows and wants what is best for you for uncertainties that may or may not reflect reality.
Certainty #1—Suffering is universal and unavoidable.
Suffering comes in all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t matter where you are from—Jesus was from eternity, after all—what ethnicity you may be, how much you have or don’t have. We live in a fallen world; we all suffer. No one is immune to it. But like Jesus, we can use it as an opportunity to meet with God on the mountain.
Certainty #2—Suffering is not a judgment for sin.
This is perhaps the biggest lie we believe when we go through times of suffering. When we experience difficulty in life or go through a trial of some kind, it is very easy to think that God is judging us for our sin.
As believers, this could not be further from the truth. We may suffer due to the consequences of sinful decisions we make. If we choose to rebel against God or make a decision that is contrary to his Word and outside his will, we will reap what we sow. And sometimes the consequences of reaping what we sow are severe. God disciplines those he loves and chastises those whom he considers sons and daughters. But God does not send suffering as judgment for our sin. Jesus took our judgment with him to the cross.
Certainty #3—Suffering is temporary.
Though it doesn’t make it easier in the moment, it’s good to remember that all suffering is temporary. Scripture says that we will suffer “a little while” (1 Peter 5:10), that we suffer only “light momentary affliction” (2 Corinthians 4:17), and that our sufferings are only for the “present time”
Romans 8:18 ESV For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
At times we may think we’ll never see light again. While we’re in the middle of the dark night, though we may feel completely lost and utterly hopeless, we trust that Christ can resurrect anything. Just as Jesus was on the cross for six hours and in the grave for three days, there is a set limit to our suffering. It is temporary.
Certainty #4—God loves me and has not forgotten me.
It’s so easy to forget this truth when we are enduring hardship or are confronted with a tragedy of some kind. I offer you this certainty from God’s Word. I used personal pronouns so that you could own its truth. God loves you and he has not forgotten you.
Romans 8:35, 37-39 ESV Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Certainty #5—God empathizes with me in my suffering.
Perhaps we don’t often consider that God the Father suffered in the garden as well. This was not a one-sided affair. The Father and the Son shared intimate fellowship from all eternity. God was able to empathize because this suffering was a shared experience. And if God empathized with Christ, if he made a way for Christ, won’t he make a way for us too?
Certainty #6—When we suffer, it’s okay to ask “Why?”
Earlier I said that “Why?” isn’t always the most helpful question. But it is usually the most human. We see the humanity of Jesus on display in the garden as he essentially asks, “If there is another way . . . Why is there not another way?”
It’s also okay to not understand why we are having to endure suffering. God’s ways are not our ways.
Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord . For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
And even if God explained what we were going through and gave us his reasoning, it’s likely we wouldn’t understand, let alone agree with it.
Asking “Why?” does not show a lack of faith but reveals faith. It’s acknowledging that God alone has the answers to questions we desperately desire answers to. There may be more from this mountain garden story, but there are at least six certainties that we can hold to and embrace by faith when we walk through dark and lonely times. Let’s never trade what we know for what we don’t know.
Adapted from The Mountains Are Calling: Making the Climb for a Clearer View of God and Ourselves. Copyright © 2018 by Jarrett Stephens. Used by permission of Multnomah, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.
Back in August I published the post “Relax And Let God Drive” In it I wrote;
“One of the major reasons of burnout is stress. We put too much pressure on ourselves. We believe that we have to get everything done today, and that it has to be done our way. When we put that kind of pressure on ourselves and we can't get it things done then we stress out. Too much stress and then we burn out. When we burn out we are of no use to our sales on anyone else. The best way to relieve stress is to delegate. without sounding condescending to God what I mean is that the things that we are responsible for we let God handle. You feel comfortable in delegating something to someone else when you have confidence that they will accomplish the task. If we say that we have faith in God and trust him we have confidence in him. We all can quote the scripture that nothing is impossible for God. What if that's the case then let him do it. We've seen the bumper sticker to let God Drive. well let him drive and let him relieve the stress. and when we turn the wheel over to him we should not be back street drivers just let him take us to the places that he wants us to go.
Proverbs 3:5-6 CEV With all your heart you must trust the Lord and not your own judgment. Always let him lead you, and he will clear the road for you to follow.
Lord Jesus, Please Lead Me. Take The Wheel. Take The Whole Car! Take My Life. No More Pushing To The Front Of The Line For Me. I Want You, Jesus. I Want More Of You.”
How many times has the GPS application installed in our cars, or on our phones taken us on roundabout way to your destination? Once you reach the destination you realize that you could have taken a more direct route. Well when God is your GPS you can be sure that He will guide you to your destination by the most direct route. The route that He takes you may not be free of hazards but if there are hazards your driver will never panic (if God is your driver too). He will remain in control and you will arrive safely. God is the perfect driver and He’s the most accurate GPS.
Oh, the Places God Will Take You!
From Crosswalk the Devotional
by Veronica Neffinger
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." -Proverbs 3:5-6
Looking at my stash of postcards, I can’t help but think of the Dr. Seuss book title, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”
I have been a lot of places (within the U.S. anyway): Bayfield, WI for their apple orchards and outdoor concert venue, winding Lombard Street in San Francisco, the mangroves of the Florida Keys, Pike’s Peak in Colorado...and the list goes on.
As I look at the postcards which mark each place I’ve been, I also can’t help but think that rather than the places I’ll go, the theme for my life has been “Oh, the places the Lord will take you!”
Sometimes these are literal, physical places like the ones mentioned above, but more often they are intangible places of spiritual growth.
All Christians seem to love the popular Proverbs verses: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight,” but oftentimes it seems we do not trust in God to lead us down the right metaphorical path, while we do trust our GPS to get us to that scenic overlook, that historical attraction, that famed wonder of nature--all physical realities.
I would wager that many of us have discovered the hard way that when you think you know better than your GPS and you override it, you usually end up lost.
I don’t think it would be a stretch to claim that we often do the same with God as our guide.
It’s easy to think we know best how to direct our own paths and get where we want to go, but the truth is, we probably wouldn’t have many spiritual “postcards” hanging in the room of our hearts if we went our own way.
God is trustworthy. He is always ready to prove that.
I bet many, many of us could look back on the life we have already lived and point to dozens of times when we saw God’s hand orchestrating situations, bringing certain people into our lives, opening certain doors, closing others, bringing us to a place in which we can look back and see his Providence.
Many of us will also probably admit that those paths didn’t look very straight at the time when we were in the valley, but after all, it’s the same on a map: a road may look straight from a bird’s-eye view, but when you walk or drive it, you may find it has many bends and curves.
And yet, we still trust that the road will take us where the map or a GPS said it would take us--what if we did the same in our relationship with God?
In my ongoing desire to address depression in the church and our tendency to ignore and not address it I’m publishing another article that the Holy Spirit has directed me to read and share with my readers.
This one is especially important because it addresses the fact that men who deal with tremendous anxiety, and worry hide it, and don't know how to handle it. The result is often tragic. Marriages collapse, father and children become estranged, loss of a long time job, businesses fail, and even suicide.
You are not alone men. David, the man that God said was a man after His own heart, struggled. He wrote about those struggles and God saw fit to have them preserved for you..
3 Psalms for Men Who Are Struggling
Scott Slayton, scottslayton.net
*Full scriptures and bold emphasis added by me
Men face overwhelming pressures both internal and external. We feel an internal drive to provide for our families and to contribute to our communities. Whether we want to admit it or not, we struggle with the expectations other people place on us too. We have trained ourselves to ignore the nagging pain because we can’t show weakness.
Our churches often don’t know what to do with the weight men carry. Too often, we berate men for their failures without pointing them to the resources that will help them grow. We pretend like the inadequacies we feel either don’t exist or shouldn’t be talked about in polite company. The grace we talk about fades from view and we replace it with heavy weights that sink us deeper into the abyss.
Turning to the Psalms
The Psalms made no sense to me when I was in college because they sounded so bleak. Here were these compositions that were supposed to be so worshipful, but the Psalmists just spent too much time complaining about how hard life was. Now that I’m in my 40’s, the Psalms resonate with me because in my frustration with the difficulties of life I’ve said many of the things they say.
If you are a man who struggles in silence, turn to the Psalms. In them, you find strong men revealing their weaknesses and showing you where you can turn to for help. There are three Psalms in particular that give you grace for the difficult situations you face.
Psalm 127, for When You Feel the Weight of the World:
Psalms 127:1-5 ESV Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord , the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” God built men to take responsibility, work hard, protect, and provide. In our brokenness and sin, this God-given wiring can become a complex where we feel like we have to become not only our own savior but the savior of the people who rely on us as well. When we do this, we take a responsibility upon ourselves that only God can fulfill. We wear ourselves down and exhaust the people around us.
Psalm 127 does not call us to a “let go and let God” approach to life, but rather to an appropriate understanding of God’s work and our own. We work, but we realize our work accomplishes nothing if the Lord does not work through it. We work hard, start new ventures, and look for new opportunities, but we do it entrusting the results to the Lord and praying he would give us the strength we need.
Sleep for the Anxious
The second verse speaks a truth that every man needs to hear. “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” When we take the sole responsibility of leading, providing, and working upon ourselves, we tend to become slaves to our work. The anxiety this produces destroys our sleep. However, what does God give to those who don’t vainly toil day and night with an anxious spirit? Sleep. When we entrust our work and our provision to the Lord, we can lie down at night and sleep soundly knowing that God works even when we don’t.
Psalm 56, for When You Fear the Future:
Psalms 56:1-13 ESV Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me; all day long an attacker oppresses me; my enemies trample on me all day long, for many attack me proudly. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? All day long they injure my cause; all their thoughts are against me for evil. They stir up strife, they lurk; they watch my steps, as they have waited for my life. For their crime will they escape? In wrath cast down the peoples, O God! You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord , whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you. For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.
David wrote Psalm 56 during one of the most terrifying moments of his life. He was on the run from King Saul and hid among the Philistines at Gath. The servants of the king questioned the king about why he would harbor the one who had the song sung about him, “Saul has struck down his thousands and David his ten thousands.” David sensed the growing tension around his presence and grew so fearful about their killing him that he pretended to be insane so they would send him away.
David faced danger on every side and this Psalm breathes the kind of honesty that goes along with a situation this terrible. “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” We are often afraid to say these kinds of things, even to God. In our pride, we are scared to admit that we are afraid. Yet, here is the man who slew Goliath crying out to God because he is filled with fear.
Your Weakness Displays Christ's Strength
The refrain “what can man flesh do to me” occurs twice in this Psalm because the answer is nothing. David knew that no one could do anything to him unless God permitted it. This is why David could say, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” David knew he was in a position where he could not deliver himself, so he looked to the Lord who is the only one who could protect him.
Men, you will deal with fear. You will be afraid of the future and you will walk through seasons where you know there is nothing you can do to deliver yourself. These moments remind you of what is always true. You always need God. No time has ever or will ever exist when you are truly self-sufficient. Learn, as Paul did in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, to see that your weakness and need is when his strength shines through.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Trust him. You have the need and he has the strength.
Psalm 51, for When You Have Sinned:
Psalms 51:1-19 ESV Haven't mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem; then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
We all know what it’s like to struggle with the guilt and shame of sin, so we should turn to Psalm 51 often. David wrote this Psalm after Nathan confronted him about his sin with Bathsheba. He took another man’s wife and had him killed. He did not come clean until Nathan stood before him and uttered the words “You are the man.”
Psalm 51 shows us how to accept responsibility for our sin, how to repent, and how to seek God’s forgiveness. David does not hide his sin but rather confesses that he has sinned against the Lord. He repents, knowing he can no longer walk in his foolish and sinful ways. He also prays that God would forgive him, cleanse him, and restore the joy of his salvation.
A Better Alternative to Hiding from or Wallowing in Sin:
This Psalm confronts two deadly tendencies we run toward when we have sinned. We either hide our sin or wallow in our guilt. We pretend nothing has happened or we act as if there is no hope. David shows us a better way. Though repentance is often painful, it leads us to the place where we can receive grace and know we are forgiven. Because Christ bore our sins in his body, we can come clean about our sins and know our guilt is removed.
One Tip for Reading the Psalms:
When you read these Psalms and absorb their message, pray them as if they are your own words. Take these complaints, fears, and confessions before the Lord. Pray them, laying your sins, anxieties, and burdens before the Lord. Then, rest in the peace, assurance, strength, and forgiveness that only he can give.
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.