Tag Archives: Psalm

Fear

Psalm 56:3 When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.

Fears in the night are unfriendly visitors. They wake you, trouble you and will not let you rest. Fear of what might be, fear of what you think is happening…..fear for fears sake is as good as a cup of strong coffee to wake you up in the middle of the night, but it doesn’t taste nearly as good.

We are in a time when everything is being shaken to the very core. Jobs, culture, finances and all we have trusted in is being shaken. It’s as if the great earthquake has already begun to rumble and the very tremors we feel cause us to be afraid.

After only a couple hours of sleep tonight I awoke with thoughts of great fear bouncing around in my head. I know fear comes when we feel a sense that we cannot control the things that are happening around us, but truthfully we never could….we only thought we could. Now, realities become clear that we cannot control the world around us and so fear invades even our rest.

Being a pastor does not make me exempt from these fears. All humans struggle with them…the fears that could fill a page if I listed them are all resolved by what we do about them….and so I go to Psalms to read the directions for the indigestion of fear.

Psalm 56:3 When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.

What I hate to admit, but is true, is that when fears invade my mind I’m not trusting God. And so, I must come back to what I know….God loves me, he’s fully in charge of all that goes on in my life, he’s working for my good, my world is not spinning out of control, but is fully in the hands of my Father. When I am afraid, I will put my trust in YOU, dear Father. There is no other place to run, no other place to hide, no safer place to be.

So when you awake with fears racing through your mind affecting even your heart rate, go to this short Psalm and realign your trust….come back to the one who will calm your fears and care for you. Whatever is causing your fears can easily be taken care of by our wonderful, loving Father. Trust in him……now…..back to sleep….

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

The Pursuit Of Contentment

We have had an unusual number of days this year over 100 degrees. It’s been hot! I’m amazed at how hard it is for me to be content with my circumstances, with the heat. If it’s too hot, I wish it were cooler. If it’s too cold, I wish it were warmer. If it’s raining, I wish it weren’t. If we go through a drought (as we have), we all pray for rain. We seem to enjoy being discontent. We just recently got back from a mission trip to Russia, and when asked how the trip went my first response is, “it was really hot.” Why is my focus on my comfort, my contentment? Why do we all verbalize our discontent and everyone understands what we feel?Why is it so hard for us to be content? I hear it from everyone I spend any length of time with, “If I only had ____________.” Now, they may have a nice home, food, great kids, cars, enough to get by, but there is always that “one more thing” that will make them content.

We all struggle with it, and it has been a problem since the garden of Eden. In every country I have traveled the struggle for contentment is alive and well.

This morning I was reading Psalm 78 as the author recites the history of Israel and their sins. It’s interesting how he views it as he writes,

Psa 78:16 He brought forth streams also from the rock And caused waters to run down like rivers.
Psa 78:17 Yet they still continued to sin against Him, To rebel against the Most High in the desert.
Psa 78:18 And in their heart they put God to the test By asking food according to their desire.
Psa 78:19 Then they spoke against God; They said, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness? 

They saw God provide rivers of water as they had asked, but is that enough? No, of course not! Can God give us bread too? And in the middle of this the author calls that discontent sin, putting God to the test.

It seems we are always trying to fill a part of us with something instead of someone. “Stuff” will never bring contentment. Our culture will make sure of that, because as soon a I get the latest and greatest of whatever toy I want then, suddenly, there is an ever better, faster more wonderful one available and I’m unhappy again.

Contentment comes from someone, not something. I see in scripture the clear teaching that contentment is a result of an intimate relationship with God. The “stuff” is another topic altogether. In fact Jesus invites us in the gospels to live our lives with open hands and freely give our “stuff” away. That’s hard to do if we consider it the source of our contentment, the reason we are happy.

I love the story that Phillip Yancey tells of a friend who went on a monastic retreat. As the little monk was taking the visitor to his room he said, “Now, if there’s anything you need let us know and we will teach you how to live without it.”

Although I have no intention of living a monastic lifestyle it’s very appealing to me because I wouldn’t have all this “stuff” to worry about and drag around.

Paul discovered the secret and talks about it in Philippians. Here is what he said,

Phi 4:11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
Phi 4:12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
Phi 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. 

Lord, teach me to be content. Help me to find my contentment in you, and not in the “stuff.”

Henry Brandt says it best when he said, “My goal in life is not to get to the end of it and compare my pile of ashes to your pile of ashes.”

The stuff will be thrown out, sold, given away, but an intimate relationship with the living God is priceless.

I’ll gladly give all my “stuff” to get that!

But somewhere inside of me I hope I don’t have to. We are sad creatures, aren’t we?

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Seekers

We all search for something.

We seek happiness, love, peace, companionship, friendship, security.

We are born seekers.

But it’s easy to get confused about what is really important to seek after.  Our search for the things that satisfy the heart and meet our real needs is often unfulfilled.  Our search for meaning and happiness often ends in frustration.

As I read this morning I came to these words in the book of Zephaniah, “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, Seek humility;” I was struck by the invitation to seek and the direction in which way to look.  It’s natural to be a seeker, but we don’t always know where to look.

As children we all played “hide and seek”.  We are seekers by nature. There is a natural thrill in the hunt, the quest, as we seek out that hidden treasure.

It was interesting to notice that God is not only inviting us to seek, but he helps us with where to look.  And so I thought, is this seeker invitation in other places?  Does God invite our search and does he help us with clues to the quest?  If seeking is part of who we are and invited by the God who made us, does he also help us with our quest?  Here are just a few of the clues that I found,

Psalm 53:2
God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.

Matthew 6:33
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

As I went on my own quest for this theme of a seeker it was all through the bible!  To be a seeker is natural, to be invited by God to be a seeker fits well with how we are made, but to help us he gave us clues about what to seek.

We are, by nature, seekers of things.  God invites us to be seekers of relationship.  We search out external happiness.  God invites us to seek internal happiness.  We make our search about US.

God invites us to seek HIM.

Seek Him.  In our quest for happiness, peace, comfort, joy, and a hundred other things we find ourselves exhausted with our quest.  It’s simply not enough to fill our empty hearts, but God invites a much simpler search…a search for him, and in that quest for him we find everything else we were seeking after.  It is, finally and ultimately, all about him.

Seek Him, and in that quest you will find everything else as well.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

On being a fool

I woke early this morning thinking about a passage of scripture that I thought I understood. As I thought about my own life and the verse I will share with you in a moment it suddenly struck me that the way I had viewed the verse was all wrong. I had missed the main point! Here’s the words from Psalms,
Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”As I thought about this verse and my own life I realized I’m the fool! It’s not the denial of God that’s the problem, it’s thinking and living like there is no God! I’m the greatest fool of all in this. 

Yes, I am a Christian. I’m a pastor. I do love the Lord, BUT I often think, act and live like there is no God. The bible calls me a fool and it’s right to do so. If God is really there then my thoughts and life should be different because of that.

If there really is a God who is there then that will affect what I look at on the internet and on television. For any man or woman to get involved in sin, whatever the flavor, is to say in your heart, “there is no God…no one is watching…no one will ever know.” If you’ve ever done that, and I have, then you’re a fool. I speak from first hand experience. When you make a decision to sin, in any way, you’re saying in your heart “there is no God…no one will know.” But he does. He sees. You’re being a fool when you do that and so am I. Continue reading On being a fool