Where is our FOCUS when things are challenging, or as my Pastor at my home church said this morning "when we go unto the tunnel where everything is dark and things are not easy?" Will we allow the "time that we re in the tunnel" to draw us further away from God, or closer to Him?
God calls us in the challenging times to draw closer to Him, and it MAT BE EVEN IN THOSE TIMES THAT WHERE IN OUR FLESH, WE WOULD TEND TO SAY, "I don't like this!" or "I just wish I could get away from this time," THAT GOD CALLS US TO TRUST EVEN DEEPER IN HIM............AND IF WE ALLOW HIM WE WILL TRULY DISCOVER THAT IN THE TUNNEL OR UN THE STORM WE ARE ACTUALLY CLOSER TO GOD AND MORE AWARE OF HIS PRESENCE WITH US THAN WHEN TIMES ARE "GOOD."
My Pastor preached a sermon this morning on these concepts from Psalm 42 and 43, but it isn't that I am typing this to echo his words for "something to say, because I don't know what else to say" But rather, I am very clearly and intentionally typing this because to me, in my personal life,, the sermon was perfect timing as I am experiencing a few challenges right now myself. AND IT IS SO DIFFERENT FACING THEM WITH HIM!!!! Pastor Steve God used you this morning, probably in many people's lives to give a sermon from the word of God that was as Proverbs 25:11 says, "aptly spoken." Proverbs 25:11 says in full, "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver."
God calls to us in the challenging or 'stormy times of life" and says what David said. HE CALLS US TO TRUST HIM---TO DRAW CLOSE TO HIM--even when we can't see what He is exactly doing or make sense of it!!!
Psalm 62:8 says, "Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Selah"
When we are able to trust in Him--really rest and trust in Him, we discover the prior verses to be true of the Psalm.
Psalm 62;5-7 "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge."
From these verses (and in our very personal challenging times) we discover the following:
We TRULY FIND REST IN HIM ALONE--rest no matter what we are going through
WE DISCOVER THAT HE IS OUR ROCK, OUR SALVATION 9Deliverer), and that HE HIMSELF IS (that "to be" verb is SO IMPORTANT IN SCRIPTURE---A SMALL WORDS THAT SAYS SO MUCH!! our fortress.
WE DISCOVER THAT WE WILL NEVER BE SHAKEN--our trust and confidence in HIM remains FIRM AND STEADFAST despite the hard and difficult things!
WE DISCOVER THAT EVERYTHING WE ARE REALLY DEPENDS UPON GOD--our SALVATION and HONOR DEPEND UPON HIM AS DOES EVERYTHING ELSE AND WE ARE REMINDED OF HOW TOTALLY HELPLESS WE ARE WITHOUT HIM!!!
WE DISCOVER AND ARE REMINDED THAT HE AGAIN IS OUR ROCK AND OUR FORTRESS--that HE is absolutely dependable and trustworthy and that WE DON"T NEED ANYONE OR ANYTHING ELSE IN THE WORLD TO PROVIDE THAT--WE FIND OUR PROTECTION AND OUR REFUGE AND WE NEED NO OTHER.
And so He says to us in 2 Corinthians 12:9, "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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."
HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR US!! We talk so often about God's grace regarding someone's initial salvation and forgiveness of sin, but there is SO MUCH MORE TO GRACE THAN THAT!!!!
LET'S NOT STOP WITH GRACE AT SALVATION. THERE is so much MORE to it than that!! God gives us His grace moment by moment and day to day to face life and live for Him in the midst of it all....so that HE GETS THE GLORY!!!! WE are dependent upon his grace---grace that is abundantly sufficient and more than enoughfor our every need.
THAT IS, ONE AMONG MANY, OF A REASON TO PRAISE HIM!!!
In the hard times we are brought to the place that we are reminded again that HE ALONE SATISFIES---A RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM IS THE ONLY THING THAT WILL SATISFY US!!! WE ARE reminded how desperately we need Him. We don't need to keep looking to all of the junk that this world tries to tell us that we need and tries to fill us with!!
We will cry out as the Psalmist does in Psalm 42:2, " My soul thirsts for God, for the living God." NOTHING SATISFIES US LIKE HE DOES....NOTHING!!!
We also find Psalm 42:8 to be the truth that "By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life." He is the God of our life--He IS our very life and his love is with us--unchanging as HE HIMSELF IS UNCHANGEABLE!!!! And HIS SONG is with us---overflowing from grateful hearts!
And when we personally realize all of this as a living unchangeable reality, but not just a mere intellectual assent to information, We are able to as Psalm 42:5b (NASB) says, "HOPE IN GOD, for I shall again praise Him for the HELP OF HIS PRESENCE" and as 1 John 3:18-19 says," Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence".
WE ARE ABLE TO BE AT REST IN HIS VERY PRESENCE in the midst of the storm-the presence of the Holy Spirit that indwells every true believer and flows out of us. WE CAN SIMPLY REST--rest although the waves come instead of trying to fight against them.
I have a story about this that just happened yesterday. It may illustrate this whole concept better. A dear friend took my paddle-boating at a lake as a birthday gift yesterday. We had a blast talking and getting caught up on all that God is doing in our lives. However, on the lake were some bigger boats that made waves, whereas our paddle boat did not. When the first waves came, I almost panicked for a moment. But my friend told me "to rest in the waves and enjoy them." At first I thought it was almost a crazy statement, until the next wave came, and I was actually able to let myself "rest in the waves" that it was so much easier!
THAT IS WHAT GOD WANTS US TO DO IN THE HARD TIMES!!!!
REST IN HIM---that HE HAS IT ALL IN CONTROL and that HE KNOWS TRULY ALL THAT CONCERNS US!! And we are able to rest in HIM when, no matter what, our eyes are FIXED UPON HIM--without deviating to what else is going on!
Psalm 141:8 "But my eyes are fixed on you, O Sovereign LORD; in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death."
2 Corinthians 4:18 "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
Hebrews 12:2 "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
WE Remember what JESUS did for us---all He suffered and went through, bearing our sin upon Himself, being separated from the Father because the wrath of God and the sin of man was poured out upon Him, that He died and was buried (completed the work that the Father sent Him to do), and rose again from the dead, swallowing up death in victory and conquering it forever for those who believe.
AND ALL OF THE SUDDEN.....our trials and storms and hard times are indeed so small in comparison--we can go through them because of what HE DID FOR US!! 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 then apply. "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. " and verse 18 that we already earlier stated, follows, saying, "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
As I write this, it is a truly challenge to myself as well as to all of you....
LET'S EACH FOCUS ON ETERNITY, WHAT JESUS DID FOR US, and OUR PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR LIVING SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST NO MATTER WHAT WE FACE TODAY, IN THE COMING WEEKS, IN THE COMING YEARS, OR FOR THE REST OF OUR LIFE!!!!
Pray for me, beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, that I would be able to do likewise--even as I pray for you.