He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths for His name's sake.
Leading us in paths of righteousness is in God's best interest (as well as ours). And for that, if nothing else, we can trust Him to do it. We just need to resist the temptation to try to determine for ourselves what that should look like. Jesus said "Take up your cross and follow me." John TB said "I must decrease so that He might increase." The paths of righteousness will not be easy. And in life stuff will always go wrong. But trusting in HIS will (over our own) will always lead us to green pastures and living waters. And you know you're following HIS will when you're experiencing green pastures and living water DESPITE the storm around you. Ease of life is not an indicator of spirituality. On the contrary, it's generally an indicator of complacency. Not even the unsaved get through life unscathed. Why should we expect to? Don't judge your life by the challenges you face or even the lack thereof. The quality of your life is determined by the blessings God bestows on you. Especially when life is tough.
In God's economy, there's no such thing as fail, only not trying. He has already won, and He knows your every weakness. Not one of your failures could ever thwart or hinder the will of God. If you fail, forgiveness erases the failure immediately. "I have removed your sins as far away from you as the east is from the west." Psalm 103:12. And God's plan carries on. “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.” Psalm 33:11 Don't let what you've done in the past get you down. Remind yourself, it never happened. If you've asked for forgiveness, it's gone. God remembers it no more. Why hold it against yourself? Faith lets you carry on and forget the past.
The only way you can suffer from your sins is to punish yourself for it, hold onto it, refuse to forgive yourself. Why judge yourself for a sin that God has erased from His own memory? Why identify yourself as a failure? That isn't you. You are not your failures. Failure only illustrates your humanity. And your failure is never unique to you. Why not see yourself as God sees you? As you truly are. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. God knew you before you were born. He had a plan for you from the beginning, and nothing, not even your failures, can thwart God's plan. Not only that, but He knew your weaknesses before you were ever born. God says, "For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight." Ephesians 1:4 God fashioned you in the womb; He has numbered every hair on your head.
God called you to worship Him and serve Him. You cannot fail except to not try. You can't fail because HE can't fail. You are part of His plan, and by virtue of that, you WILL succeed because HE will succeed. Trust Him. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. Amen that His blood covers us. So the next time you find yourself falling short, don't let Satan steal your joy. You have NOT failed. Only tripped....but God caught you and you are forgiven. Just try again. In the end, God wins either way, but He wants you to be a part of the getting there. Don't give up. In the words of Dory, "Just keep swimming...."
But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever;
his intentions can never be shaken.
God's will is unchanging. For thousands and thousands of years, God has had the same goal. We forget that I think. We easily get wrapped up in our own little world and all the struggles we face, and forget that God's will is bigger than us. Our life here on this earth is a speck in the span of eternity. It's a miracle from God Himself that our little speck even matters at all. But it does, or He wouldn't have created us. But it only matters when we're fully yielded to His will. It's HIS big picture that needs to fill our focus. Not our own big picture. Outside of God's big picture, all of our own plans are meaningless. I think a lot of people sense this--that's why there's so much depression. But they don't realize where the emptiness is coming from. When we remember (and live accordingly) that God's plans from eternity and into eternity are never changing, and that He designed us to be a part of fulfilling that plan, our lives will be ever so much richer. Living for Him instead of ourselves gives meaning and purpose to all of our suffering and the challenges we face. It subdues all the worry, the strife, the bitterness and our anxiety when we put His plan over our own, knowing full well that He works all things to the greater good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Amen that God is the same yesterday, today, and always. Thank you, God, that I don't have to live for myself.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Don't let evil press in on you until you give in and return evil for evil. Don't stoop to evil's level. Recognize evil for what it is and let light dispel the darkness. But what is evil? The dictionary defines it as anything profoundly immoral or malevolent. It's hurtful words or actions. It's a self-serving attitude, putting yourself above another. It's immoral behavior--one that pricks the conscience. It happens all around us all the time. It happens to us. It happens in front of us. It happens to those we love. And we do it ourselves, leaving our soul full of regret, anguish and emptiness. It takes place in obvious ways, and it takes place in subtle ways.
Sometimes evil just gets the best of us and we're tempted to take matters in our own hands, or just react with anger and bitterness. But darkness added to darkness leaves everyone in the dark. It's like my dad used to say, "Two wrongs don't make a right." Instead, be the guy with the flashlight. Recognize evil for what it is and turn to God's Word. He says, "...abide in My Word...then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." It's the only way to be free from evil. And you'll not only set yourself free, but you can set free those around you.
2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.
3 I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and he saved me from my enemies.
Our enemies are often not physical in form. Even when they are, they're not. Ephesians 6:12 says, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Our enemy is the thoughts that drag us down. It's the ideas that come to mind that are mixed with lies. It's those notions that make us doubt: God, ourselves, others, and leave us in worry, anxiety, bitterness, hate, frustration, etc. When these enemies press in against us, only God can rescue us. We are hopelessly vulnerable to this kind of sin--the sin that doubts God and His Word, and causes us to take matters into our own hands (by letting our thoughts run unbridled over the matter, judging the situation or person, plotting a course of recompense, etc), or else to give up and give in. We must catch our thoughts when they come to mind, recognizing that we're on the wrong thought train, and give the matter whole-heartedly over to God. Let His thoughts be your thoughts, no matter how aggravating or painful the circumstances are. For God says, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9. It's not up to us to interpret the circumstances we're in. There's often more than meets the eye, and without God's wisdom, we can never see the whole picture. Without God we're hopelessly lost in our own dark, little bubble. When the challenges of life pile up on you, remember that God is your Savior and only He can guide you through your trial. He will hear your cry and come to your aid. However, you must trust Him to do it. (His way. Not yours.)
5 But I trust in Your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because You have rescued me.
6 I will sing to the Lord
because He is good to me.
I love that I can always count on God's faithfulness. He loves me. Period. Others may treat me harshly or unfairly. Sometimes people can be downright mean. They can say they love you but their actions demonstrate self-centeredness. People can love you today, when you're serving their needs, and despise you tomorrow when things don't go their way. Human love can often be so undependable. But this is never the case with God. He has loved me with ever-lasting love, with ever-lasting kindness. He never trips up. He never tires. He is more steady and dependable than the rising of the sun. Lord, I praise you that you are ever patient with me and kind to me, even when others aren't.
7 I will bless the Lord who guides me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
8 I know the Lord is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
The author of this Psalm is living life as an adventure. This is hard to do. This is pure faith. Knowing that whatever you may suffer, whatever challenges you face, He is always guiding you through it. God is our Comforter. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5) We don't need to be disturbed when life gets challenging. We know that nothing escapes our God's attention and nothing is wasted in God's economy. If we trust Him and lean on His Spirit, He will show us what to do. "The Lord is my Shepherd. I will not be afraid." (Psalm 23:1) It takes a lot of faith to resolve that your mission is bigger than your suffering or discomfort. Jesus said "In this life you WILL have tribulation..." (John 16:33) So we might as well take heart. No one gets through life unscathed. But Jesus has overcome the world! Amen!
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time,” ~1 Peter 5:6 HCSB
And the next verse reads "Cast all your cares upon Him...." because the minute we decide to humble ourselves and put God first, we're going to find we have a lot of cares. ..."What if I don't get what I need?"; "But I really want..."; "What if no one appreciates what I do?"; "What if I get over-looked and people forget about me?"; "I will probably get too tired to keep doing that." And on and on the worries will come. But God knows what we need before we ask, and He always provides. We must remember that God works all things out for the greater good, and trust that our humbling circumstances will produce a great harvest if we yield to it cheerfully, and our comfort is less important than His will. In the end our reward will pale any amount of suffering we endure. Now read Galatians 6:9-10.
Why “So Long Self?” I got the inspiration from Mercy Me’s song of the same name. It’s the simple reality of a life walking with Jesus. In Matthew 16:24, “Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me’.” And, well, pretty much every lesson we glean from the Bible directs us to put aside ourselves for Christ. Even the promises of God, which are there to encourage us and lift us up and fill us with joy, require us to put aside all of our doubt, shame, contempt, and the temptation to focus on all that’s wrong. Even when Jesus tells us in Jeremiah 31:3, “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness,” we have to put aside our self-loathing (there’s that ugly “self” again), and resist the temptation to focus on all our failures, weaknesses, and our undeserving nature, and put our focus on Him and His Word, which promises that He loves us with unfailing kindness and everlasting love. The temptation to focus on ourself is everywhere in life, and the command to put ourself aside is everywhere in the Bible. It’s not until we shift our focus from ourself to Heaven that self-centeredness begins to wane. It’s an ongoing struggle and presents an ever-present conflict. So as we go through this journey of life, you might just notice that your self often rears its ugly head too. (I’m pretty sure it’s not just me! haha!)