Do Not Delay!
“Please, God, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, and help me. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, ‘God is great!’ But as for me, I am poor and needy; please hurry to my aid, O God. You are my helper and my savior; O Lord, do not delay.” Psalm 70:1, 4, 5 NLT
Hurry up God! Have those thoughts ever gone through your mind? The author, David, reminds us that when everything in our lives seems to be going against us, we should cry out to God. He is the only One that can rescue us in our times of trouble.
My favorite parable comes from Luke 18 when Jesus tells a story that we should always pray and never give up. The story is about an unbelieving, unjust judge and a widow that repeatedly asks him to give her justice. Because of the constant requests from the widow, the judge finally gives her justice. Jesus explains that God will answer quickly to those who cry out to Him day and night.
I’m always moved when I hear about prayers being answered after someone has faithfully prayed for the same thing for years. I’ll never forget the Sunday when I was backstage while a wife baptized her husband. I asked her why she was crying and she explained that she had been praying for over twenty years for her husband to accept Christ.
We don’t understand God’s timing. It’s only when we come to understand that God answers prayers from His eternal perspective. When we persist in prayer, we grow in our faith and character.
Be persistent in your prayers and don’t give up!
“Then I called on the name of the Lord: ‘O Lord, save me!’ The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the simple-hearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.”
I want to issue a simple challenge to you today… read through these few verses for a few minutes. Read it over again and again. This is from the NIV1984 translation, and it’s one of my very favorite descriptions of God’s love for his people in the entire Bible.
Maybe you’re feeling overlooked today; maybe you feel overwhelmed or under appreciated. Maybe you feel like you’re not good enough or you’re “too much of this” or “not enough of that.” Let these beautiful verses change you today. Pray that they might come deep into who you are and lift you. Let the truth of these words inspire you and challenge you and encourage you. The almighty God loves you this much… it’s enough to change you.
Let Your Light Shine
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16 ESV
It’s that time of year where on any Friday night you can see where the football games are because of the lights. They not only illuminate the field but they also put off a glow that lights up the sky for miles. It’s a beacon for all around that something exciting is going on!
The Bible says that Christians are the light of the world – not because of anything we have done, but because our heavenly Father shines through us. As followers of Christ, we get to share the light of Jesus to those who may be living in darkness. Loving the unlovable, giving to the needy, forgiving the unforgivable, being honest and striving to be Christ-like are just some of the ways to share the light of Jesus.
Just like a light bulb, we can’t stay lit unless we are plugged into the source of light. A life not connected to Jesus through prayer and Bible study can’t be an effective light in the dark. We can’t fake it, at least not for very long. Without a constant connection we either burn out or don’t put out enough light to make a difference.
We definitely have something exciting going on so let your life be a beacon of light for everyone around you! You are the light of the world, so let it shine and bring glory to Jesus Christ.
…even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. – Ephesians 1.4
Our beginnings begin before we began.
Most of us know the origin of our life story. There is a date set in history that commemorates our birth. As the years go on, the celebrations become fewer and further between, but we very rarely forget the date that our stories began.
But what if the story of our life actually begins before we began?
Some of you think you know where this is going – boy meets girl, boy falls in love, girl chooses to overlook boys’ flaws, etc., etc., they become Mom and Dad. So surely, before we were born, our story includes their stories.
Yet Paul tells the Ephesian church that we are chosen in Christ “before the foundations of the world.” Trying to understand the space-time continuum is something that hurts my brain (even Doc and Marty McFly could barely comprehend its complexities). But God is not bound by my limitations.
Before He spoke light into existence, separated the waters, made dry land to appear, populated the land with vegetation and saturated it with animals, and even before He breathed life into the man of clay, Paul says that we were chosen in Christ.
The beginning of our story begins before we began. It’s the intention of God that speaks to my heart this morning. He chose us to be “before him” meaning that we are created to be in His presence. We know that only “holy and blameless” beings can be in the presence of God, so we press deeply into our Savior to be found as we were intended.
I just wanted you to know this morning (or afternoon/evening) that God has been thinking about you for a long time, longer than we can fathom; and that His primary reason for bringing you into existence was so that He could delight in the company of the true you, holy and blameless, for all eternity.
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” James 1:19-20 (NIV)
Listening is a skill that can be learned by anyone. Sometimes we talk about being a good listener or a bad one as if it is a personality trait that we have or not. While it may be true that our personalities affect how natural or unnatural listening will feel to us, James says that everyone should be quick to listen and slow to speak. These go hand in hand.
This can only be done when we are not rushing through life. Our culture is fast paced and busy. We do many things fast that used to take lots of time. And we are starting to expect things to be faster and faster. Have you ever noticed the connection between your agitation with something and how long you have to wait? Think about waiting in lines or traffic….
Relationally, listening requires time. It requires being willing to understand fully before responding. This starts with God. Am I quick to listen to Him, or tell him what I want? Am I quick to listen to his Word and his thoughts or my own thoughts and opinions? Or the worlds? My ability and willingness to listen to God will directly impact my ability and willingness to listen to others.
Who will you slow down to listen to today?
“Do not resist . . . Give.”
It is an unwritten rule in baseball that if a team’s pitcher hits an opposing team’s batter, it is only “right” that the opposing team beans a player of their choice to settle the score. Right or wrong, it is woven into the inner fabric of the game. But there is always a choice.
We have certain inclinations built into us when we are “wronged” by someone. When you are insulted, taken advantage of, or have something unfairly taken from you, how do you respond?
It seems we are more interested in “our rights” versus what a right response should be. “But you don’t know what s/he did to me!” The notion of exacting revenge or settling the score runs deep. We’ve all heard the old adage, “two wrongs don’t make a . . . ” and yet our first response often is to defend, resist, and to make sure the other person knows what they did. With six kids under one roof, Team Sniff replays this script a lot.
And yet Jesus says, “do not resist . . . give.” Literally meaning do not stand in opposition to or firmly set yourself against another person. Instead, turn the other cheek, let someone take your possession(s), go an extra mile, and ultimately give like you are bestowing a gift to a dear friend. That sounds amazingly ridiculous.
In a culture of litigation and personal rights, nowhere is the Jesus way more distinct than when retaliation is at hand. Retaliating seems only natural, a “tit-for-tat” way of living. Retaliating is convenient, it’s a quick way to ease pain, embarrassment, or disrespect. It brings comfort to an open wound, but it drives a stake in relationships.
An “eye for an eye” is a principle of justice belonging to courts of law. It was meant to restrain personal vengeance. God wanted Israel, and Jesus wants his followers, to be slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Psalm 103:8, James 1:19). What sets us apart is when we reflect the merciful character of Jesus when we don’t have to (John 13:34-35).
Some say anger fuels the competitive spirit and makes a team play better. I tip my cap to the team that chooses not to retaliate, to the manager that says we value other people, and to the Christ-follower who responds by saying, “the Lord is my strength and redeemer.”
“The Lord is my light and my salvation- so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?” Psalm 27:1 NLT
I read an article stating that FEAR was the dirty little secret of the church. Many Christians live out of fear not faith. Fear is one of Satan’s favorite tools that prevents you from becoming who God created you to be and doing what God created you to do. Fear will paralyze you. If you are a follower of Jesus and living in fear, then you have a diagnosis of spiritual amnesia. You have forgotten that God is your loving Father and that you are His child.
You should be afraid when you think you’re strong enough on your own. Author, Paul David Tripp says, “Don’t fear your weakness, God supplies all the strength you need. Be afraid of those moments when you think you’re independently strong.” No one likes to admit weakness. We don’t like facing the truth that we’re all weak, it’s a condition of a fallen world. We are in desperate need for a Savior all the time. We were also created to live in community with one another by sharing each other’s burdens.
When you trust God with every situation in your life, you can live without fear. What are you facing? Children going off to college? A recent medical diagnosis? Loss of a job? Rebellious children? An unfaithful spouse? Overwhelmed with life?
May this be your prayer today: God, help me not be afraid, for You are with me. Help me not be discouraged, because You are my God. Help strengthen me and help me. I know You hold me up with Your victorious hand. (Isaiah 41:10)