Psalms of Lament

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Fifty or one-third of the Psalms are classified as laments. Gary Yates further explains, “Laments are times when the psalmist prays to God in times of trouble, distress, sadness, and in life-threatening situations.”[1] Walter Brueggemann classifies laments as psalms of disorientation as the relationship between the psalmist and God is conducted in an honest engagement, and where pain and hurt are acknowledged rather than denied and avoided.[2] The basic elements of the laments consist of: (1) an opening address or an introductory cry out to God in a very personal way; (2) a lament where the psalmist gives a description of present troubles, often in a very figurative, extreme, and over the top way, to make God aware of the dire circumstances; (3) a petition or prayer, which consists of what the psalmist is actually asking God to do; (4) a confession of trust and faith that God will act; and (5) a vow of praise where thanksgiving and sacrifice are offered when the Lord delivers the psalmist from his trouble.  Logan Jones describes the depth of pain in laments, “was the characteristic way of expressing and voicing the hurt, [but] the distinctive movement from plea to praise [demonstrated] an act of boldness. This movement does not stay stuck in the plea of brokenness and grief; [it] moves beyond to praise and unparalleled transformation with joy, wisdom and hope.”[3] This transformation did not deny the reality of brokenness or grief. Instead, the lament provided trust, confidence, and gratitude towards God.

Yates also illustrates, “The Bible does not command us to fake joy; it promises us a deep and real joy that is so satisfying because we know God is with us, regardless of what we are facing in life, [enabling us to] come to Him with complete honesty, especially in times of desperation.”[4] Jones adds, “By praying the laments, Israel had a way of directly facing the hurtful dimensions of human life. Israel did not try to explain them away, deny them, or avoid them. Instead, Israel held to the premise that all of life – even the hurtful dimensions – was embraced by it covenantal relationship with God.”[5] The psalmist’s relationship with God is deep, personal, and authentic. In Psalm 13, Nancy deClaissé-Walford et al. explain:

The prayer is spoken from a situation of severe crisis… The original crisis may have been a physical, emotional, social, or economic crisis. But two things are clear. First, the psalmist definitely understands the crisis as a spiritual and theological crisis — the relationship with God. Second, the psalm is now available to any believer for reuse in a variety of life situations.[6]

Craig Broyles further demonstrates, “This psalm allows believers to voice the mixed emotions often felt toward God while in the midst of hardship, namely complaint and trust.”[7] In Psalm 79, the lament depicts a community crying out for help and most likely refers to the Babylonian exile in 586 B.C. Everything the nation of Israel had believed and trusted in was gone and the people had no hope. However, in every lament, there is a wonderful transformation that occurs, where heartache, pain, and misery turn into joy, thanksgiving, and praise.

Laments are cries for help and Yates makes a valid point that “Part of dealing with pain is being able to express it.”[8] As Roland Murphy demonstrates, “The psalms are about honest dialogue where nothing is held back. The words of the psalms speak to the very core of human experience in ways other language cannot begin to approach. In this way, the psalms teach us how to pray, how to stand faithfully before God, asking and even demanding response, action, and answers.”[9] The psalms also teach us to bring our hopes, praise, and joy to God and they call us to bring our fear, pain, and sorrow before God. In desperate times, Jones illustrates “the psalmist gives voice to the anguished part of our human experience, [where] questions are asked that have no answers: How long will God forget? How long will God be hidden? How long must pain be born? How long will the enemy be exalted?”[10] These are valid questions, which every believer has wrestled with. Jones suggests some of the greatest reasons for the laments are to help believers make it through seasons where there is no hope and a cry for deliverance, for healing, for life, for mercy, for forgiveness, for help, for vengeance, for relief, for hope, for attention, for presence, and for strength.[11]

Jones then explains, “bad things happen, circumstances change, loss occurs, and grief and sorrow break the heart, [which] leads to the first movement [as] the cry of lament speaks of the terrible truth of disorientation.”[12] However, when the pleas and petitions reach God, Jones illustrates disorientation does not last forever. Instead, the laments petition God to be true to His character and as a new orientation emerges, blessings and breakthroughs in life are witnessed and praise and worship are given for all God has done. However, spiritual growth does not happen over night; it is a life-long pursuit of trusting and praising God, despite the circumstances.

By praying the laments, individuals will be able to face any hurt, betrayal, or anxiety, by looking to God and embracing the covenant relationship he or she has with Him. Jones explains, “The movement from orientation to disorientation to new orientation… is a way to move deeper into a faith which is transformative, where God indeed makes a difference.”[13] Laments illustrate why it is important to lift one’s petitions before God because as Jones explains, “Our pain can be spoken and named, our hurt can be lifted up and heard, our cries can come from our heart, and we can rest assured nothing, nothing at all can separate us from the love of God.”[14] The believer must simply understand and trust that God hears every prayer and He is continually working in the lives of His children, according to His perfect plan.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Broyles, Craig C. Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Psalms. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 1999.

deClaissé-Walford, Nancy, Rolf Jacobson, and Beth Tanner, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament – The Book of Psalms. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2014.

Jones, Logan C. “The psalms of lament and the transformation of sorrow.” The Journal Of Pastoral Care & Counseling 61, no. 1-2 (2007): 47-58. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed November 3, 2016).

Murphy, Roland. “The Faith of the Psalmist,” Interpretation 34, (1980): 235-238.

Yates, Gary. “The Lament Psalms: Part 1.” Filmed [2011], Liberty University Website, OBST 660 Course Content, Week Two Video Presentation, 17:54. https://learn.liberty.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_328279_1&content_id=_14949919_1 (accessed November 1, 2016).

________. “The Lament Psalms: Part 2.” Filmed [2011], Liberty University Website, OBST 660 Course Content, Week Two Video Presentation, 14:18. https://learn.liberty.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_328279_1&content_id=_14949919_1 (accessed November 1, 2016).

 


[1] Gary Yates, “The Lament Psalms: Part 1,” Filmed [2011], Liberty University Website, OBST 660 Course Content, Week Two Video Presentation, 17:54. https://learn.liberty.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_328279_1&content_id=_14949919_1 (accessed November 1, 2016).

[2] Logan C. Jones, “The psalms of lament and the transformation of sorrow,” The Journal Of Pastoral Care & Counseling 61, no. 1-2 (2007): 47. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed November 3, 2016).

[3] Jones, “The psalms of lament and the transformation of sorrow,” 48-49.

[4] Yates, “The Lament Psalms: Part 1.”

[5] Jones, “The psalms of lament and the transformation of sorrow,” 49.

[6] Nancy deClaissé-Walford, Rolf Jacobson, and Beth Tanner, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament – The Book of Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2014), 158.

[7] Craig C. Broyles, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 1999), 87.

[8] Gary Yates, “The Lament Psalms: Part 2,” Filmed [2011], Liberty University Website, OBST 660 Course Content, Week Two Video Presentation, 14:18. https://learn.liberty.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_328279_1&content_id=_14949919_1 (accessed November 1, 2016).

[9] Roland Murphy, “The Faith of the Psalmist,” Interpretation 34, (1980): 235.

[10] Jones, “The psalms of lament and the transformation of sorrow,” 52.

[11] Ibid., 52.

[12] Ibid., 51.

[13] Jones, “The psalms of lament and the transformation of sorrow,” 50.

[14] Jones, “The psalms of lament and the transformation of sorrow,” 54.

Tasks and Roles of a Pastor

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       Understanding the tasks, as well as the traits of a pastor are both crucial to fulfilling the calling God has placed on one’s life. Additionally, as John MacArthur points out, “To understand one’s role as a minister, one [also] needs to understand the role of the church.”[1] Only by answering the questions as to why the church exists, and what purpose it serves today, can one truly quantify the specific and relevant tasks of any given pastor. While the Bible does indicate several things a pastor should do, much more emphasis is placed on how they should conduct themselves. Additionally, the tasks between pastors will vary depending on the specific calling placed on their lives. God can use those He calls anywhere, so some will be called to shepherd, while others are called to preach, visit the shut-ins, care for the needy, or evangelize. The important thing to remember is one must be willing to serve wherever God plants them, while also trusting in His plan and His perfect timing. For the purposes of this assignment, the role of the pastor can best be compared to that of a shepherd caring for the flock of God: His children, the church.

Top Five Tasks of a Pastor and Why

          As a shepherd, the pastor’s first and primary task is feeding the flock and this comes in the form of teaching them the Word of God.[2] Without sound teaching and biblical doctrine, the flock will starve and when they do not understand the Word of God, they cannot apply its truth to their daily lives. This was something Paul ran into with the Corinthians. He told them, “I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready.”[3]
As Gordon Fee explains:

With the words “you were not yet able,” Paul brings to a conclusion the long rehearsal of his former association with them. Both his preaching and their response to it are living evidence of the power and wisdom of the gospel. If they failed to see its wisdom, the fault was theirs, not his. Now he moves to their present situation as the evidence that the problem lay with them, not with him. He begins by repeating what he has just said, but now in the present tense. “Indeed, you are still not ready,” i.e. “you are not even now able.”[4]

         To be a shepherd was a mighty charge and in Paul’s final letter to Timothy, he wants him to know first of his steadfast suffering of the gospel and also what would be required of Timothy. Paul considered all of his converts as brothers and sisters and his love for God flowed directly to those he ministered to. Philip Towner demonstrates, “In the Greek world, formulaic charges of similar tone were made in installment ceremonies. Moses, who called on heaven and earth as witnesses, also made such charges.[5] The gravity of this charge being spelled out would not be missed.”[6]  This instructional task is still crucial today in leading and equipping the saints to do the work of the church.

         The secondary task of the pastor is protecting his or her flock as overseers.[7] This role is rooted out of the first, since the sound teaching of doctrine is vital to repelling the attacks of wolves and wolves in sheep’s clothing. Another facet of this role is the administrative aspect, which also points to exercising oversight and leadership. In Paul’s letter to Titus he lists seventeen qualifications the leader must possess: (1) blameless; (2) husband of one wife; (3) household under control; (4) not overbearing; (5) not quick-tempered; (6) not drunk off wine; (7) not violent; (8) not pursuing dishonest gain; (9) hospitable; (10) one who loves what is good; (11) self-controlled; (12) upright; (13) holy; (14) disciplined; (15) trustworthy to the message as it has been taught; (16) encourage others; and (17) refute those who oppose the Word of God. John Walvoord and Roy Zuck explain, “Not only must an overseer meet moral and spiritual standards in his [or her] personal life, but he [or she] must also be a reliable [person] of the Word.”[8]

        The third task of the pastor is fighting against what attempts to attack the flock. Ephesians 6:12 (ESV) illustrates, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” This task of the pastor runs in this same vein as training and equipping the flock to stand in the gap for each other, while also sharing one another’s burdens. F. F. Bruce illuminates,

The heavenly realm may be envisaged as comprising a succession of levels, with the throne of God on the highest of these and the hostile forces occupying the lowest. The level, which they occupy, is probably identical with “the domain of the air,” ruled[9] by “the spirit which now operates in the disobedient.” At any rate, these are real forces of evil, which are encountered, in the spiritual sphere, and they have to be withstood.[10]

         The fourth task of the pastor is modeling their life after Christ,[11] so that the way they conduct themselves is a living example of what their flock is also called to do. In most cases, this is a role that is often caught and not so much taught. When the flock knows and sees the pastor spending time in prayer, meeting the needs of others, and showing care and compassion to the lost and hurting, it speaks much louder than any sermon could accomplish. Peter Davids shows, “Jesus had clearly pointed out that the way of world at large was for leaders to domineer over the led, expecting obedience and the “perks” of leadership. But that was not to be the model His disciples were to follow.[12] His disciples were to be servants, not bosses; ministers, not executives.”[13]

        The fifth and final task of the pastor is to remain faithful to his or her calling. Bible knowledge will only get the pastor to a certain point. To be effective in their calling, the pastor must also maintain a moral life centered on godliness. MacArthur demonstrates, “[While] the focal point of any ministry is godliness, ministry is, and always must be an overflow of a godly life.”[14]

          Trying to define and understand the role of the pastors, elders, teachers, or leaders is not something new. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Fee illustrates, “He is dealing with their theological misunderstanding of the gospel, the church, and the role of their teachers.”[15] This was something that continually had to be addressed in both new and old churches. In James’ letter, he goes as far to caution, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”[16] This is not a very encouraging statement for those debating going into ministry, but as James Adamson demonstrates:

James turns to wisdom, and begins with a salutary and sympathetic caution to sincere Christians, warning them of the higher standards expected of leaders in wisdom, and the greater risks involved, since in speech, in which most of the teacher’s work is done, it is even harder than in bodily action to avoid the sin of error, willful or involuntary. All men commit many sins (including—but not only—teachers): that is precisely why men should be chary about incurring the risk of greater punishment, as we shall if we become teachers, entrusted, as teachers are, with increased knowledge.[17]

         As pastors, it is important to live a life of integrity above reproach, so when problems and misunderstandings arise, they are equipped to handle them. This ability is rooted in godly character and as MacArthur explains, “Spiritual leadership without character is only religious activity, possibly religious business or, even worse, hypocrisy.”[18] Pastors are held to a higher standard, so knowing one’s roles and the role of the church is vital to becoming an effective pastor. Being a pastor is a mighty responsibility and as Bicket said, “If you can be happy outside the ministry, stay out. But if the solemn call has come, do not run… In the long run, ministry is what we are as much as what we do.”

Bibliography

Adamson, James B. The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Epistle of James. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976), WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

Bruce, F. F. The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Epistle to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1984. WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

Fee, Gordon D. The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The First Epistle to the Corinthians. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987. WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

MacArthur, John. Pastoral Ministry: How to Shepherd Biblically. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc., 2005.

Towner, Philip H. The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Letters to Timothy. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2006. WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

Walvoord, John and Roy Zuck, ed., The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty. Colorado Springs, CO: Cook Communications, 1985. WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

 


[1] John MacArthur, Pastoral Ministry: How to Shepherd Biblically, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc., 2005), 50.

[2] II Timothy 4:2

[3] I Corinthians 3:2 (ESV)

[4] Gordon D. Fee, The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The First Epistle to the Corinthians, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 126.

[5] Deuteronomy 4:26

[6] Philip H. Towner, The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Letters to Timothy, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2006), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 595.

[7] I Timothy 3:2

[8] John Walvoord and Roy Zuck, ed., The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty, (Colorado Springs, CO: Cook Communications, 1985), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 762.

[9] Ephesians 2:2

[10] F.F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Epistle to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1984), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 406.

[11] I Peter 5:1-3

[12] Mark 10:42

[13] Peter H. Davids, The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The First Epistle of Peter, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 180.

[14] MacArthur, Pastoral Ministry, 94.

[15] Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, 156.

[16] Davids, The First Epistle of Peter, 180.

[17] James B. Adamson, The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Epistle of James, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 138.

[18] MacArthur, Pastoral Ministry, 91.

Finding Joy

joy of the lord

Finding joy in the midst of trials and circumstances can seem like searching for hidden treasure without a map or a shovel. However, if we seek God’s presence, He will grant us eternal blessings. Psalms 16:11 (ESV) says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” In this passage, David was assured that the Lord would preserve his life, even in the face of death. He rejoiced because God enabled his body to rest securely even when confronted with uncertainty. The reason David could find joy and rest is because he knew God would never abandon him.

When we turn our attention to the Lord, the light of His countenance and presence shines upon us. The more we depend on God, the more He will make us complete. Even in our weakness, He makes us strong. As we learn to live within His loving embrace, we will come to realize nothing can separate us from the love of God.

How to Combat Pride

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“Pride is insidious and you must root it out of your life—this often takes surgery of the heart and it always takes submission of the will!” Upon reading this, I was reminded of Hebrews 4:12-13, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of all joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. No creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” The word sword is translated as sharper than the sharpest sword, but as precise as a surgeon’s scalpel. The word of God in many ways also acts like a mirror in our life exposing the areas, which are not of God, and when we allow the word to penetrate our hearts, it will cut away the malignant masses holding us back from imitating Christ and bringing glory to God. Daily we must be reading the word of God learning His ways so we can put into practice what we have learned.

Pride is the result of elevating ourselves above others or even God. It is manifested in my life by my desire to be successful. I care what others think of me and often care more about how the world views me than how God does. God has given each of us desires and among them, the desire to be significant is at the top of the list, but that same desire to be significant by the world’s standards is what keeps us from intimacy with God. Desires must be satisfied within the covenant relationships and designs, which God has established. A perfect example is found in the story of David and Saul. Upon defeating Goliath in battle, the men were returning home and the people were singing, “Saul has slain his thousands and David his tens of thousands.” Saul should have lifted David up and praised God for the victory, but he could not stand to lose his significance and we see Saul become angry and keep a jealous eye on David and the next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul.

Humility before God and everyone we come in contact with is the only way to prevent pride from rising up and causing us to fall. We must trust in the mighty hand of God, that He will exalt us at the proper time. Even the person with the most money and the most accolades still dies and can take none of it to heaven. The only thing we can invest in that we take to heaven is what we invest in the lives of the people we come in contact with. Our hunger for significance can destroy us and chasing after things of this world to find happiness will only leave us unsatisfied and wanting more. The more we try to find purpose and happiness in worldly things, the more we are telling God He is not good enough for us. The world through its hallow and deceptive lies tells us our significance is bound up in the things of this world and nothing could be further from the truth.

The story of Jesus at the well is a perfect example as he explains, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water I will give him or her will never be thirsty again.” If we are prideful of anything, as Paul said, it should be that we know Christ because the only thing any of us truly deserves is hell and everything we have in our life is a blessing from God. If we keep this mindset our response to the manifestation of pride will be halted in its tracks. As Nathan Smith said regarding an attitude of humility, “It is the displacement of self by the enthronement of God.” Life is not about us; it is about God. Each of our lives finds its greatest purpose and happiness when we make everything about God. The holier and more righteous each of us becomes, the more self-evident we should become to the sin in our life. If we really understood how broken we all are, it would fuel our compassion for those around us since true greatness is making much about God and less about us.

We should avoid pride and sin because of our desire to be like Christ, to pursue Him, and to bring glory to His name. We must keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus because the moment we lose sight of Him, we begin to sink and open the door for prideful thinking. As Ben Forrest says, “Pursuing God is a posture of submission and repentance because when we recognize the holiness of God, it bends our knees and bows our head.” We will never truly know ourselves except when we endeavor to know God. Teresa of Avila said it best, “It is only by considering His greatness we discover our bareness; it is only by contemplating His purity we discover our own filthiness, and it is only by beholding His humility we shall discover how far we are from truly being humble.”

Living Above Your Circumstances

God vs. Satan

When things seem to continually go wrong in life, we must continue to trust God. When the reins of life slip from our fingers and we are no longer in control, we must still continue to trust God.Live a positive lifeYou see our response to adversity has the potential to lift us up above any challenge we may come across. Unfortunately, the natural human response is to turn to negativity and start complaining. This mindset only leads deeper down the rabbit hole to depression by darkening our perspective.

Instead of complaining, we should be crying out to God and we should be thanking Him in all things. I realize this can be hard to do, especially during times of great loss and suffering, but if you are already in the habit of looking to God in the good and the bad, it will be much easier for you to lean on and trust in God’s plan when disaster strikes.start next chapter in lifeRemember that Satan is waiting for the opportunity to inflict the most damage in your life to take you out and that can easily happen the longer life is grand and God gradually takes a back row seat in our priorities. However, with an attitude of praise during times of turmoil, you will experience an unfathomable peace regardless of what is going on in your life.

Many times in life, we have not because we ask not, so what we must never forget is the Spirit of God dwells inside every believer and His power is infinite. As we pray, praise, and trust God, we channel that power to move mountains and do miraculous things.lion-and-lambThe problem arises when we try to do things on our own with our own strength, which is finite, because Jesus tells us the main reason He ascended to heaven was so He could send the Holy Spirit to be our helper and ever-present help in time of need. In life, it is not by might or by power, but by the power of the His Spirit says the Lord Almighty.
CaddyshackOur joy in trials and tribulations is something we must also guard especially in seasons and chapters of life that seem to have no end. Our joy is not dependent on our circumstances; true joy is the by-product of dwelling in God’s presence. The joy of the Lord is our strength, so any adversity we face should not negate joyous living, in fact, we should consider it pure joy! When God is first in our lives, we can find joy even during the most difficult trials and circumstances. Even though we don’t know what tomorrow may bring, God does and our breakthrough or miracle may be right around the corner.

We must walk by faith and not by sight and in II Corinthians; Paul actually says we are to live by faith and not by sight. When we worry about whatever we are walking through or what may happen, we deafen the voice of God in our lives. Where does our help come from? It comes from the Lord and He is waiting for His children to call out to Him and to trust Him in all things. We must entrust God in every area of our lives because His ways are so much higher than our own.
Don't let things bring you downIn all things we should rejoice, for this is the day the Lord has made and we are to be glad in it. If you can wake up and start the day with that as your first thought, I promise your days ahead will be far better than your latter. It does not mean you will no longer face adversity, but it ensures that God is with you in whatever and whenever something or someone may attempt to steal your joy, so always remember to give thanks in all circumstances and God will never forsake you.

Cast Your Burdens on the Lord

never-be-afraid-to-trust-an-unknown-future-to-a-known-god-corrie-ten-boom

Whatever we are going through, God knows. That statement itself should give us peace and strength to endure anything, yet we often find ourselves fighting to survive the daily circumstances and conflicts that surround us.

While we are gasping and choking for air, we should be resting at the Master’s feet breathing in His daily peace and calmness. While we are treading water with no sight of land, we should be sheltered and safe under the Lord’s outstretched arms of protection – so why aren’t we?

God promises each of us a supernatural peace in the midst of turmoil, if we seek Him first. In turn, despite what is going on, we will know He is in complete control. To cast your cares upon the Lord also means to give God control in your circumstance. You can’t have one without the other! Carrying life’s burdens leads to anxiety, which causes us to worry, and which ultimately takes our eyes off God and focuses them on our problems and ourselves.

Worry is fundamentally a willful form of self-centeredness. Instead of praying and seeking God, we can become consumed with trivial circumstances. If you could picture heaven and earth colliding, our minds would be in the epicenter. There is a daily struggle being waged and if we lose the battle over our minds, we lose the war. Staying grounded in the Word and keeping in close communion to God is how we overcome and prevail over the siege warfare being used to wear us down. In the end, God gives beauty for ashes, like a phoenix rising from its own demise. God will do the same for us when we allow Him to use our circumstances for His glory and when we view our trials through His eyes and perspective.

We expend countless energy and resources on problems which are either unimportant or are completely out of our control. However, when we look to God and allow Him to carry our burdens, we allow Him to shine light in the dark areas of our life and we trust Him to do what only He can. In 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 Paul said, “all our troubles are light and momentary, compared with the eternal glory being accomplished by them.” These profound words mean we have no idea what or how our trials and circumstances are accomplishing. Some trials may be for us: to strengthen us, to better ourselves, or perhaps to even correct an area of our life; while other times, the trials we walk through may be for the people in our lives. We may be the epitome of a disciple of Christ, but one trial comes on the heel of the next and it’s the people in our lives who are watching how we handle ourselves when there seems to be no hope. True faith is always measured where there seems to be no hope.
TrustGodGod’s Word tells us to lay our requests before Him and to wait in expectation. This is impossible to do if we don’t keep our eyes fixated on God. As we draw near to Him; He draws closer to us and when we are in communion with God, we can hear His still, small voice speaking words of wisdom, love, joy, peace, and life. Worrying accomplishes nothing just as maybe leads us in circles that go nowhere. Jesus answers yes and amen and He empowers us for whatever life may throw our way and He is our song allowing us to have joy despite our circumstances. Today is the day the Lord has made, so let us rejoice and be glad in it. Don’t worry about tomorrow for it will worry about itself. Like manna from heaven, God will give you exactly what you need to make it through this day and tomorrow He will do the same when you seek Him with all your mind, soul, and strength.

The way of the Lord can be narrow and often steep, even perilous at times. That is why we must constantly cast our cares, our anxieties, and our burdens on Him so we are less likely to fall as we traverse the path set before each of us. The less we have to carry the less likely we are to fall. As we give God everything that attempts to hold us back, He takes them and buries them at the cross where the blood of Jesus was poured out so we never have to live in condemnation of our sin and so we can experience closeness with God. When Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom making a way for each one of us to know and experience God on a deep and personal level. God knows what you need and when you need it, so trust Him and you will never regret it. I’ll end with two of my favorite quotes: “We must cease striving and trust God to provide what He thinks is best and in whatever time He chooses to make it available. But this kind of trusting doesn’t come naturally. It’s a spiritual crisis of the will in which we must choose to exercise faith.” Charles R. Swindoll & “Fear is the glue that keeps you stuck. Faith is the solvent that sets you free.” Shannon L. Alder

What About Tomorrow?

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34 (NIV)
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Driving into work this morning, I was overcome with a sense of all I needed to get done and everything I haven’t been able to accomplish lately. toobusyAt one point, I looked down at the speedometer and realized I was even driving faster than I normally do. Granted, things have been crazy at work preparing for Easter and the Thorn production, renovating the campus, launching a new ministry and being the husband and father God called me to be, but I know I am not the only one feeling the pressures and demands of life.

God’s word tells us His grace is sufficient for us and that His power is made perfect in our weakness. When life continually piles circumstance after circumstance on top of you it’s really easy to try and carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, but when we choose to trust God the oppressive burdens of life will be lifted. When I got to work I just closed the door and began to read the word of God and dwell in His presence and then I began to look inward because where we spend our time and treasures will illuminate the desires of our heart and this is so important because our heart always follows what we treasure most.

It’s so easy to make one small choice and then another and another and before you know it everything is out of alignment. In all things, God must come first, then your spouse, then your children/family, and then your career/ministry and then your hobbies/sports/interests.2152_thumb[3] If you elevate any of these above the others, you are on the road to disaster. As life presses in on us from all sides we must carefully guard this hierarchy and the priorities in our life so when we are hard pressed on every side we won’t be crushed; so when we are perplexed, we will not be in despair and so when we are persecuted we won’t be abandoned and even when we are struck down we won’t be destroyed.

God is closer than you think; He often seems far because we have pushed Him in the background. The only thing any of us need more of is God.
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When we allow God to open our eyes, we will see Him everywhere. When we allow God to open our hearts, we will be filled with His Spirit and we will feel His presence no matter what we are walking through. When things seem out of control, slow down and look to God, not as an escape from reality, but as a way to find true reality. Remember to give thanks in all things and trust God to see you through whatever is going on. When we thank God, we open the door for Him to come into our lives in a deeper way and it builds our trust, confidence and faith in the Great I Am!