All posts by ITWMinistries

What I Learned in 2018

This people I have formed for Myself; They shall declare My praise.  Isaiah 43:21 (NKJ)

Yes, it’s that time again.  Another year has passed and I find myself asking, “where has the time gone and what did I do with it?”   As I glance over at the grocery store newsstand, I see the various renderings of what 2018 has been about—politics, weddings, and celebrations of life.

As it is with the dropping of the New Year’s ball in Times Square, it is the tradition of In the Word Ministries to mark the start of the New Year by asking, “What did I learn this past year?”  This year, I avoided looking back at 2018 WordBytes or my journal to give me a hint.  Instead I simply asked the Holy Spirit to distill all I had experienced in 2018 into two or three areas I could share with you.  The Holy Spirit (as usual) exceeded my expectations and gave me one word—PURPOSE.  Although one word, my learning about purpose could fill volumes.  I will attempt to be succinct.  See if any of these resonate with you.

  1. It is critical to understand God’s purpose (Acts 17:28). Every New Year a dear friend asks me what I am believing and depending on God for in the upcoming year.  The better question should be, “how can God best use me for His purpose in the upcoming year?” Key to understanding purpose is accepting the sovereignty of God—the “True Source” of our purpose.  As we begin our year fasting and praying, we should seek to understand our purpose as a direct outgrowth of God’s divine plan (Eph. 2:10).
  1. It is important to pursue God’s purpose (Heb. 11:13). Not to follow God’s purpose is willful disobedience that can result in negative consequences.  This year, God challenged me to undertake an area that did not “fit” the core competencies or strategic plan developed for the ministry.  God had spoken this new direction to me in three separate prophetic messages over a four year period.  I knew it was a mistake—mine!  But God was patient.  And yes, God has the authority to “change our direction” and do a “new thing” in our lives (Is. 43:19). I finally accepted the direction although I haven’t a clue as to where God is taking me.  God, however, knows and that’s what is important (Gen.12:1-4).
  1. It is essential to position ourselves for God’s purpose (Heb. 12:1). In Isaiah 43, God shares His future plan to redeem His people, Israel, now living in captivity.  They had historically rejected God’s purpose which was to reflect God goodness and glory to the world ultimately bringing them into His eternal Kingdom.  But Israel pursued its own purpose (Jer. 17:23).  They were not in position to accomplish God’s purpose, therefore they were sent into captivity for 70 years.  Their disobedience and distrust of God deprived them of God’s glorious purpose.

Like the children of Israel, we as believers often miss God’s divine purpose for our lives because of a number of factors.

  • We may operate out of fear. We are afraid of God’s purpose.  We fear we may not have the skills and capability to what God desires.  You may not have what you think you need, but God, through His Holy Spirit within us, will equip us for every assignment He gives.
  • We may lack trust. We’re afraid God won’t give us what we want.  God may not give you what you want but, be assured God will always give you what’s best for you.  Learn more about the nature of God—His goodness and His greatness.
  • We may be bound by sinful habits and relationships that we aren’t willing to release. Even King Solomon in all his wisdom was hindered from fulfilling God’s purpose because of willful disobedience and sinful patterns in his life.  Confess, repent, and lay hold of the extraordinary purpose which God has for you today.  Trade in what you think is “good” for the “best” God has in store for you.

The Westminster Catechism is a series of questions and answers (proof texts), on which Believers, affirm their faith in God.  The first question (out of 107 questions), is this:  “What is the chief end of man?”  In other words, what is man’s purpose?  The answer, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

“To glorify God” is realized when we represent His rule and presence on the earth.  Created in God’s image, man can bring into reality the kingdom of God on earth and be in intimate relationship with Him.  With and in Christ, we now can pursue God’s unique purpose for our lives (1 Pet. 2:9).

“To enjoy God forever” has begun with the presence of the Holy Spirit with us—a foretaste of the ultimate glory that we will experience in full when we next meet Jesus—in heaven (upon our death) or in the air (upon Christ’s Second Return) (John 14:3).   The end will be the same—“eternal enjoyment.”

In 2019, I am living to understand, to pursue, and to position myself for God’s purpose.  “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen. ” (Matt. 6:10, 13)

What did you learn in 2018?

The Divine Gift Exchange

Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. Romans 5:18 (KJV)

The tradition of exchanging gifts did not originate with man.  It was God who first gave the very best of Himself in exchange for man’s sinful soul.  Upon acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior, the new believer is gifted with a new heart and a new mind to follow God (Ezek. 36:26); he becomes part of the Body of Christ (The Church) with spiritual gifts for evangelizing, equipping, and edifying others.  The Apostle James states that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father above who never changes (James 1:17).   God’s divine gift exchange exceeds anything that man can ever imagine.

In our study text, the Apostle Paul reminds the church in Rome of the perfect and free gift they have received in Christ Jesus (Rom. 5:15-18).  As a result of the first Adam’s sin, man was condemned and separated from God.  In contrast, with the arrival of the second Adam (Jesus Christ), God offered to mankind the free gift of grace—the gift that would last throughout eternity.   What is the unique nature of that gift exchange?

The “incarnate life”—deity for humanity.  The arrival of Christ into history represented a holy God putting on flesh and dwelling with us (Matt. 1:23).  It was necessary that a lamb be provided for the atonement of sin (Lev. 4:32-35).  So God prepared for Himself a human body that would later become the “perfect lamb” for the sins of man (Heb. 9:13-14).  Jesus’ incarnation would mean that “whomsoever would call upon the name of the Lord would be saved” (Acts 2:21).

The “exchanged life”—righteousness for sin.  The Christ child was more than a sweet babe in swaddling clothing.  He was the long awaited “Consolation of Israel” and “redemption in Jerusalem” (Luke 2:25, 38).  Just as the prophets had foretold, Jesus provided the bridge whereby man could be reconciled to God (Mat. 1:21; Titus 3:4-7).  Being justified by faith in God, redeemed man would receive Christ’s imputed righteousness as if it were his own and thereby become acceptable to God (Rom. 5:1).

The “empowered life”—strength for weakness.  The arrival of the Holy Spirit after the ascension of Christ  would provide the power needed to accomplish the work that Christ had commissioned for not only His Disciples in the 1st century but also for the disciples in the 21st century (Matt. 28:19-20).  Prayer is the connection by which faith is energized.  There is an old Christian axiom that says, “Little prayer, little power; Much prayer, much power.”  Prayer and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit provide the strength needed to meet the challenges of living and ministering in this fallen world.

The “resurrected life”—life for death.  Eternal life with God.  This is the greatest of God’s gifts.  Death’s sting has been removed; the fear of death is no more.  Through spiritual regeneration (2 Cor. 5:17) and continuous renewal by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 12:2), Jesus pours out His life abundantly on us.  We now stand as heirs of God patiently wait for the redemption of our human souls for eternal life (Ep. 1:14).  “As we have born the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly; putting on the incorruption for corruption and immortality for this mortal” (1 Cor. 15: 49, 53).

We often misdirect our attention on Christmas shopping, holiday events and special parties.  While there is nothing wrong with these activities, we may often fail to acknowledge the Divine Gift and the Divine Gift Giver.  God has given us The Perfect Gift (Jesus Christ) through the ultimate gift exchange.  God has given us The Gift that will keep giving for all times and through eternity. “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people,  And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David.” Luke 1:68-69

Participate in the greatest gift exchange in your life by giving Jesus Christ YOUR LIFE.  St. Augustine said it this way, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.”  If you have not given your life to Him, do it today.

I Hate to Wait: The Process of Waiting

And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in thee.  Ps. 39:7 (RSV)

What goes on in our mind while we are waiting?  Why are we so anxious?  Why is waiting so difficult?   What is waiting really about?

Waiting is the action of staying where one is or delaying action until a particular time or until something happens.  It is the act of staying in one place or remaining inactive in expectation for something.

There are many views with regard to our “waiting tolerance.”  Some are unique to specific generational differences while others are common to all people regardless of age, socio-economic factors, or gender.

While much of our anxiety can be allayed based on the quality of the item one is waiting for, there is still a level of frustration that cannot be eliminated.

In a paper written by David Maister, The Psychology of Waiting Lines, he provides some insight into the psychology of waiting.  The main point is that the actual time spent waiting may have little to do with how long the wait feels.  What appears common is the whole issue of what to do with the time a person spends while waiting—the “unoccupied time”.

Unoccupied time is the window where the anxiety of waiting is the greatest.  It is the time spent in the present until the delayed outcome occurs. Give people something to occupy their time, and the wait will feel shorter.  How do you spend the unoccupied time while waiting?  (More on this aspect of waiting next week)

On a spiritual level, when one is waiting for healing, a word from the Lord, or emotional/financial release, the psychology of waiting takes on a distinctive difference.   Our normal perspective on waiting changes in lights of who we’re waiting for (God) and our level of confidence in the final outcome (also God’s).

In today’s text, David is crying out to God in a time of trouble.  His initial frustration in waiting is later transformed into “hope” by declaring his trust in God, who has always shown Himself faithful to his people and His Covenant.   David knows God will continue to do so, even when God’s specific plan for the future might not be fully understood.  Comfort in waiting is based on an overwhelming confidence or hope in God personally.

Interestingly, in my research of the word, “wait”, I was “re-directed” to the word “hope”.   Hope is one of the four principles we explore during Advent season in which we commemorate mankind’s waiting for Emmanuel, the promised Messiah.  Hope focuses attention on both “what awaits us” (Lam. 3:26; Ps. 37:34) and “the object of our wait” (Ps. 130:5-6).

In both the Old and New Testament the connection to hope and waiting is built on a personal relationship with and reliance on God.  While waiting in the secular world, causes frustration and anxiety, when anchored to God, waiting is filled with patience, encouragement, and enthusiasm (Acts 1:4).  Those who wait on God have the assurance that their waiting is for a specific purpose, which God is orchestrating.

There are many reasons we may have a problem with waiting.  Do any of these characteristics impact your waiting on God?

  • Impatience. We want what we want now.  Impatience is the inability to control one’s desire for action (Numbers 20:10-12).
  • Pride. We operate with an inflated opinion of what’s the best answer or solution to our problem or situation.  Pride is the conceited sense of one’s superiority (Hosea 7:8-10)
  • Independence.  “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”  Independence is the need to control one’s affairs apart from outside influences (Luke 15:12-16), even God.
  • Stubbornness. Who can talk a fool out of his folly? Stubbornness entails the trait of being difficult to handle or overcome (Proverbs 26:3-5)

As believers, we are not exempt from suffering and experiencing tragedy, yet we can face the future expectantly, waiting for the movement of God in our life.  We may have to wait a while for the full experience of the good that God intends for is, but be assured, God is fully committed to everyone who makes a faith commitment to him.

“Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you;

therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.

For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him”.  Isaiah 30:18 

God, Time, and Waiting

For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.  Psalm 90:4 (RSV)

What is the socially acceptable time to wait?  In college, in the event the professor was delayed, we were instructed to wait for fifteen minutes before leaving.  If you go to a restaurant, you most likely can expect to wait before being seated.  The time wait is generally dependent on time of day, the popularity of the restaurant and the quality of the food. Regardless of “acceptability”, we still, at one time or another, are required to wait.

One of the biggest frustrations for individuals living in the 21st century is waiting.  Americans spend roughly 37 billion hours each year waiting in line. The dominant cost of waiting is an emotional one: stress, boredom, that nagging sensation that one’s life is slipping away.

There are varying leveling of “waiting tolerance” based on generational differences, expectations, and the attraction of the desired outcome.

Baby Boomers, who tend to be more intentional in planning, are fairly comfortable with waiting based on the value of the outcome—waiting is tied to worth.  This is seen in their loyalty to career/employers and investment in relationship building.

For Generation X and Y, waiting is generally acceptable when it is connected to the availability of the desired item, vis-à-vis waiting for the latest IPhone or designer tennis shoe.

For Generation Z, born into a world that screams “instant gratification”, waiting is viewed as a negative—denoting that something is “broken” or “wrong” therefore interfering with receipt of their desired outcome.

All generations hate to wait—the difference lies in “what” or “who” is causing the delay—that even includes God.

What is the “spiritually” acceptable time to wait?

Are the rules different?

If we are waiting for God—His intervention or direction—let me answer the second question first.  Yes, the “rules” are different because God is spirit—everlasting, eternal and immortal (John 4:24).

God exists not in the confines of human time but in eternity where there is no time (Is. 57:15).  Time simply put is duration.  Our earthly time pieces mark change in duration that indicate the passage of time.  Eternity, in contrast, expresses the concept of something that has no end and/or no beginning.  God has no beginning or end. He is outside the realm of time (2 Pet. 3:8).

In Psalm 90:4, Moses used a simple yet profound analogy in describing the timelessness of God: “For a thousand years in Your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” A second is no different from an eon; a billion years pass like seconds to the eternal God.

In answer to the second question,“What is the “spiritually” acceptable time to wait?”

My answer is simple—as long as God tells you to wait.  The thing about waiting for God is that there is no set or agreed upon time when an answer might be forthcoming.  You can move ahead of God, but you risk missing or delaying the desired purpose God has for your life (Eph. 2:10).

Waiting for God is where our faith comes into play.  We must believe and trust that God loves us and will always do what is best for us.  What we see as a delay is really God’s “best timing” for our life.  What makes the waiting for God “acceptable” (I struggle for a better word) is that God is always worth the wait (Lam. 3:26).  Next week we’ll spend time exploring why we “hate to wait.”

Waiting

Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain.  James 5:7 (NRS)

Advent has begun.  For the secular world, this season is spent in anticipation of Christmas.  And how will the world prepare for its arrival?  By catching all the sales, looking for the best deals, and insuring their credit limit will survive the endless gift lists for friends and family.

How different are these times we live in now from those in which Jesus  first made entrance into the world.  In the 21st century, we are thought to be more informed and equipped due to technological enhancements and scientific improvements.  But are we?

Global warming is crashing in—changing the ecological systems of our time.  Social and economic disparities cry out for justice and fairness throughout this nation and the world.  Senseless killings and rising suicides, especially among our young people, confound communities who continuously ask, “why” and “when will it end?”

For believers Advent marks something definitively different—it is a time of waiting.  Advent is a time when we not only wait to celebrate and commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ but we should also be joyfully anticipating  Christ’s “imminent” return for His Church (2 Tim. 4:8).

Imminent comes from the Latin word meaning “to overhang”.  To say that something is imminent is to say that it is hanging over you and about to fall, in a metaphorical way.  Christ will return but we don’t know when.  So we wait for his return.

Remember what the angels told the disciples at the ascension of Christ:

“You Galileans!—why do you just stand here looking up at an empty sky?  This very Jesus who was taken up from among you to heaven will come as certainly—and mysteriously—as he left.”  (Acts 1:11, The Message)

In the Gospels, Jesus spoke with certainty about His Second Coming or the Second Advent (Matt. 16:27; 24:44; John 14:1-3; Luke 21:34-36).  How then are we to wait?

In our scripture text, James, the brother of Jesus speaks of patience while waiting for a desired outcome.  He uses the illustration of the farmer and his need to wait on that which he has no control and yet is  critical for his future provision—rain.  It is the same with believers as we await Christ’s return.  We don’t know when it will happen, but we know we desperately need Him both now and through eternity.

And so we wait—we wait for the hope of One whose return is imminent yet unknown specifically when.  We hope in the midst of what appears hopeless, because God alone can resolve what ails the world.  So we wait for his return (Prov. 20:22). 

I contend that waiting—godly waiting –is a spiritual discipline that every believer should cultivate and embrace versus accept with great resignation.   So for this Advent season, we will explore “Learning to Wait on the Lord”—the purpose , the process, and the privilege of waiting.  See you next week.

The Abundance of God

And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed,

“The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering,

and abundant in goodness and truth.”

Exodus 34:6 (KJV)

In an age of scarcity, high costs, and uncertainty, God offers abundance.  God’s abundance extends beyond a measure of material quantity but is seen in its “spiritual quality”.  Abundance infers power and ability.

God offers abundance in many areas that mankind is in desperate need of today.

  • He offers for all who would believe in Him an abundance of mercy—relief from the punishment we deserve. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3)
  • He offers grace—His unmerited favor. “For where sin abound, grace did much more abound.” (Rom. 5:20)
  • He offers an abundance of lovingkindness. “For I know that You are gracious…and abundant in lovingkindness. “ (Jonah 4:2) Who couldn’t use more of that!

The place where this type of abundance was desperately needed was in the area of human sin.  Throughout history, God had sought solutions to man’s sin condition.  He used mediators to “stand in the gap”—prophets and priests (Heb. 8:6).   He instituted sacrifices to cover man’s sin—the blood of goats and calves (Heb. 12:9) but none proved to be sufficient and effective in extinguishing sin.

However, when Christ entered the landscape of time, God offered an abundance of grace through His Son’s precious blood thereby eliminating sin’s power and obtaining eternal redemption.  Christ also offered the gift of righteousness—the state or condition of perfectly conforming to God’s perfect law and holy character (Romans 3:21-26).

Abundance, by its very definition, offers the promise of great supply and more than sufficient quantity.   God offers abundance plus much more for our daily wants and needs.  There is no need to worry or fear that we will deplete God’s abundance of grace.  In an age of scarcity, high costs, and uncertainty, God alone offers us inexhaustible abundance.  

New Things in the Wilderness

“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”   Isaiah 43:19 (KJV)

Are you currently experiencing a wilderness in your life?    For the nations of Israel, living in captivity in Babylon and Assyria was their “wilderness experience.”  For seventy (70) years they were removed from those things which they loved the most—their land, their temple, and most importantly, their God.

God, through His prophet Isaiah, sent words of consolation to Israel during their wilderness experience.  He promised to do a new thing. “New” in Hebrew (chadash) means to renew, rebuild, or repair.

God promised Israel that He would not only renew, rebuild, repair that which was loss during the exile, but He would also, do the impossible—“make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”  God would revive Israel physically and spiritually.  “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants” (Isaiah 44:3).

Wilderness experiences are times in our lives when we lack those things that bring us happiness, contentment, and peace.  Wilderness experiences are different for everyone.

For some people the wilderness may be relational—failed, estranged, or disappointing relationships.  For others the wilderness may be professional—pursuit of the right vocation or personal significance.  For still others, wilderness experiences may be experiential—moments of personal loss, loneliness, or misfortune.

No two wildernesses are the same.

During wilderness experiences we may feel alone and isolated.  We may even feel God has left us and no longer hears our prayers.  Is God with us in our wilderness?  He answers, “Yes!”  It’s in His Word (Psa. 91:15; Isa.43:2; Isa. 49:15).

Regardless of the type of wilderness experience, we can trust God to do a new thing in our lives.  He can renew, rebuild, and repair our lives in spite of the brokenness we may experience (Psa. 130:5).  After our wilderness experience, God will also do the impossible by bringing us back to a healthy, vigorous and flourishing condition (Isa. 40:31).   This revival includes intimacy with Him where there is true happiness, contentment, and peace (Rev. 21:7).  God creates new things in our wilderness.  “…now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it?” (Isa. 43:19b)

Fellowship with God

“That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.   And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.”    1 John 1:3-4

What does “fellowship with God” look like in the life of the believer?  Fellowship has been described as the sharing of experiences with likeminded people.  However, fellowship with God is much more, for “who has known the mind of God?” (Romans 11:34)  The believer’s fellowship with the Father is dependent upon accepting His Son as Lord and Savior.  It is through Jesus Christ that believers begin to “know by experience” God’s heart and mind.  Such was the case with the Apostle John and the disciples were uniquely privileged to witness, first hand, the person and works of Christ.

  • “That which was seen” included the many miracles of Christ; miracles that would attest to the coming of the promised Messiah (Matt. 11:2-5). 
  • “That which was heard” were truths that Christ declared concerning the kingdom of God and His offer of eternal life (Luke 4:43; 9:11).
  • “That which was looked upon and our hands handed” recounted the disciples’ examination of Christ’s glorified body after the resurrection (John 20:27).

All of the disciples’ senses were engaged as Christ manifested (revealed) Himself and the Father.  Since Father and Son were one (John 17:11, 22), the disciples concurrently experienced fellowship with the Father (v. 3).  The disciple’s experience with Christ was not viewed from a distance but up close and personal.

Fellowship (koinonia or koy-nohn-ee’-ah) is translated as “communion” and “joint participation in a common life.”   John’s personal witness was an invitation to the early church to participate in a life style that centered on relationship—unending communion with God the Father and the Son.    Therein is the basis for John’s reason for sharing about fellowship with God:  so that their “joy may be full” (v.4).

Joy (pleroo or play-ro’o) means “to fill to the top so nothing is wanting; to complete”.  One explanation of joy is to cause God’s will to be obeyed as it should be and God’s promises to receive fulfillment.  Joy begins and ends with fellowship with the Father and the Son (Luke 4:21).

How would you describe your fellowship with God?  Have you seen, heard, and looked upon Christ presence in you daily walk of faith?  Do you have joy and is it full?  Many times we miss the opportunity to fellowship with God because of competing priorities and the busyness of life.  Perhaps sinful behavior patterns and unhealthy influences have interrupted your fellowship with God.  We are to walk daily in fellowship with God, armed with the knowledge that you are no longer “slaves to sin” but “servants of righteousness” producing fruit of holiness (Rom. 6: 22).

Though John’s letter was written thousands of years ago, its message is still relevant for today.  To both the believer and unbeliever, it is an invitation to participate with the only true Source of joy.  Jesus invites us to draw near with faith (Heb. 10:22) and learn of Him (Matt. 11:29). In return, those in Christ enjoy glorious fellowship with Him.  Let us be faithful witnesses to what it means to live in fellowship with God.

The Lord Reigns

Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; And let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.” 1 Chronicles 16:31 (NKJ)

The Lord reigns?  To some this may be a question spoken in general disbelief.  As one looks around this world and our nation, there is question as to the reality of God and God’s involvement in the activities of mankind.  Does God really care about me? Does God see me in “my” situation—in my humanness?

  • We look around and see the effects of sin on our world. Even in the midst of “peril, sword, and nakedness”, God extends to mankind love, mercy, and grace.  In gratitude for God’s reign, David cried out:  “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”  (1 Chron. 1:34)
  • Outside God’s reign, man struggles with and against “life”; his intent is to control the challenges of 21st century living. Doing what feels “right in their own eyes” (Prov. 21:2), men often disregard the plans of God and God’s purpose for this world.
  • “God reigns” whether people choose to believe it or not. Their unbelief does not reduce or minimize the reality of God’s reign.  God is patient and long suffering not wishing that anyone would perish but that all will come to the knowledge and recognition of His lordship (1 Tim. 2:4).

The Lord reigns!  This is the reality and declaration of people of faith who anchor their lives to the “King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God” (1 Tim. 1:17).  God is the only One worthy of our loyalty and praise.

  • As we witness the impact of economic disparity, social injustice, and moral failure in the world, our expectation of fairness is founded in the fact that God reigns!
  • As the doctor renders a diagnosis that leads to extensive treatments yet no guarantee of success, our hope for healing lies in the belief that God reigns!
  • As we face our own mortality evidenced in the frailty of our bodies and failure of our souls, our eternal security is guaranteed in Christ, our inheritance because God reigns!

People of faith trust that even in the suffering and pain, God is working all things together for His glory and ultimately our good (Rom. 8:28).  We know that our God is eternal—reigning both in “human time” (chronos) and “His perfect time” (kiros).  We wait and watch for His hand at work around us and in our life (Psa. 123:1-2).

The Lord reigns.  To you I offer this as a statement of reality and personal identity.  The reality is that God alone is sovereign.  It is because of His goodness and greatness that He alone is worthy to rule over the hearts of men and nations.  Our personal identity in Christ guarantees our reign with Him in glory (Rom. 8:17).

  • God alone is motivated by love—in first loving us (1 John 4:9-10) God offers grace and mercy to all who humbly come to Him by faith with no fear of retribution or risk of punishment.
  • God’s perfection, purity and trustworthiness enable Him to rule impartially and fairly. God alone can be both “just” and the justifier” for sinful man (Rom. 3:24-26).
  • God is the only real answer for the “heart issues” we face in 21st century living. The Lord’s reign over heaven and earth gives us hope in the midst of a “fallen” (Gen. 3) and “falling” world (1 John 2:16-17).

The Lord’s reign is fully realized in the coming of Jesus the Christ.  In Jesus’ arrival the kingdom of God is ushered into this world we now live in.  It is here that those who are in Christ are to take authority and witness to this glorious fact—God reigns!

In the Presence of God

“Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.” Psalm 139:7-8 (NRS)

Our life consists of more than “flesh and blood”.  It includes our assumptions, beliefs and behaviors that regulate our personal preferences and pursuits; they can be “of the world” or “of God.” These assumptions, beliefs and behaviors eventually influence the choices we make daily and are ultimately reflected in our life style.

It is important that God’s influence is evident in our lives.  This begins by our acknowledging His glorious presence.  In Psalm 139 David shares the effect such knowledge can have in the life of the believer.

In this psalm God’s presence is demonstrated through several of His key attributes. In verses 7-12, from which our text for today is found, David speaks specifically of God’s omnipresence.  God is everywhere all the time.  In Jeremiah 23:23-24 this characteristic is spoken of by God Himself.  “Am I a God near by, says the LORD, and not a God far off?   Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them? says the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the LORD.”

The impact of living in God’s presence offers extraordinary benefit for the believer.   First, knowing God is everywhere offers us great comfort.  The new norm for living in the 21st century requires us to be ever vigilant—watching for potential risks and dangers that may threaten us physically, financially, and/or socially. To know that we are never out of the presence of God should settle the faint-hearted.  God alone can make good on His promise that He will “never leave nor forsake us” (Gen. 28:15).

Secondarily, believers living in the presence of God possess great confidence knowing that God is ever-present. Even in the most routine of transactions, recognizing that the “only wise God” (Rom. 16:27) is there to guide and direct our steps, releases us from unnecessary stress and concern (Phil. 4:6-7).

Finally, living in God’s presence provides us great clarity as to how we are to live in this present age (Titus 2:11-13).  This acknowledgment requires that we live obediently according to His Word and under the direction of the Holy Spirit.  God’s Word, especially the Epistles, describes God’s expectation of the believer’s conduct in light of living in a fallen world. The believer’s reality is expected to be very different from the world’s view (Rom. 12:2; 1 Pet. 1:13-16; 1 John 2: 16-17)

As believers in Christ, our reality recognizes that God is the center of our universe and it is God who sustains us and keeps us (Ps. 3:5; Heb. 1:3).  We are to joyfully seek His will—the divine purpose of the ever-present God.  The believer’s life and reality is derived from knowing we live continuously in the presence of God.