At times I have approached the Word of God—whether reading, hearing, or studying it—feeling fearful. I feared I could never do enough or that maybe I couldn’t please God or that I would find that I was a hopeless failure. That kind of thinking interfered with the benefit or growth I might have had.
But fear lies. The truth is that Jesus took care of my failures at the cross. Another truth: I could never be good enough to earn God’s love, but God loves me anyway. And another: I’ve received God’s gracious gift of salvation and have become His child. Furthermore, God has given me His Holy Spirit. He is a spirit of power, love and a sound mind (1 Tim. 1:7).
Because of these truths, I can look at Scripture in the faith that says God loves me and wants to show me His ways which are life-giving. When I use that filter—the faith filter—in my reading, hearing, and studying of God’s Word, I can learn to really live.
Verses from Psalm 86: 1-5, 8, 12-13, New International Version, with my thoughts:
1. Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Am I poor and needy? Maybe not financially since any American is rich compared to most people in other parts of the world. But I am spiritually poor when my faith is small and I get discouraged. I’m needy because I am a broken person living in a broken world and both body and soul can be wounded and/or knocked off balance.
2. Guard my life, for I am faithful to You; save Your servant who trusts in You. You are my God. The key to receiving God’s help is for me to faithfully seek Him instead of other answers and to trust His power and care. I will have no other gods besides the living God, Almighty Maker of heaven and earth. I will be faithful to You, Lord.
3. Have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to You all day long. I will be persistent and patient in prayer.
4. Bring joy to Your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in You. I will trust in You, Lord, with all my heart and not lean on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). (In Your presence is fullness of joy—from Psalm 16:11.)
5. You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to You. Thank You, Lord, that You abound in love to me as I call on You.
8. Among the gods, there is none like You, Lord; no deeds can compare with Yours. For example, what other god could cause a dead stick to bud, blossom, and bear almonds as You did with Aaron’s staff?
12-13. I will praise You, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify Your name forever. 13 For great is Your love toward me. You have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead. Yes, I will glorify Your name forever and praise You with all my heart, Lord, for great is Your love for me!
(Image from Pinterest)
In the New King James Version, 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” It is almost the same in the New Living Translation: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
Yes! God has given me His Holy Spirit. He, being the third Person of the Holy Trinity, certainly is full of power and love, and He works in me to get my wild thoughts under control and to take my upside down thinking patterns and set them right.
Because this Spirit of power, love, and a sound mind (or self-discipline) lives in me, I can:
Do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
Be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:58)
Keep my eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith. (Hebrews 12:2)
Keep my mind stayed on God, trusting in Him. (Isaiah 26:3)
Go into each day with courage and confidence. (Joshua 1:9)
Bring glory and honor to God every day. (Isaiah 61:3)
Consider the interests of others as more important than my own.(Philippians 2:4)
Develop the humility of Christ in thoughts and attitudes.(Philippians 2:5)
Ephesians 5:18, Amplified Bible: “…Ever be filled and stimulated with the [Holy] Spirit.”
“But have nothing to do with irreverent and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness, 8 for, the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8 Holman Christian Standard Bible).
What are some spiritual exercises? I thought of the following possibilities:
1. Running to God. Running with patience the race of life set before me.
2. Resistance exercise Resist temptation.
3. Weight lifting Lift worries and cares to God and exercise trust muscle. Concentrate on the good and true things of Philippians 4:8
4. Push-ups When I sin/stumble, push up with confession and repentance
5. Crunches Forgiving others and humbling myself to ask forgiveness of others
6. Endurance training Set my mind and keep it set on things above where Christ is. Keep my eyes on Jesus the author and finisher of my faith. Take every thought captive to Jesus
7. Pull-ups –Scripture memory
8. Sword-practice Study and apply God’s Word.
9. Stretches –Praise and thanksgiving
10. Swimming through thoughts to take hold of truth
Dear Lord, please help me be diligent to do these things so I will grow more and more like Jesus. Amen.
Several years ago, one friend told me how she came to faith in Jesus Christ. She had attended a church most of her life and thought her relationship with God was fine. Then she ran onto Ezekiel 18:4 (“For all people are mine to judge—both parents and children alike. And this is my rule: The person who sins is the one who will die.”
It haunted her. Finally someone told her the good news that “…God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:21)”
So she prayed and asked God for forgiveness for her sin because of Christ’s sacrifice. That day she believed in and received Jesus as her Savior and Lord. The last time I heard from her, she was still following Jesus.
My own commitment to following Jesus Christ began when I was a child and involved some stumbling. My friend and I came to Jesus differently, but we have this in common—we believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel, our Lord and Savior, and the only Way to the Father. He is Truth and the source of life now and forever.
If your faith and trust are in someone or something else (such as your good deeds, your religion, a church, your parents’ faith, or a belief that God is okay with our doing what we please and/or ignoring Him), please ask God to show you the truth about Himself and about Jesus. Do it today. His love for you is so great, and His plan of redemption is so marvelous that I don’t want you to miss out on it. God longs for us to be with Him forever, and we can be if we choose to go His way.
Ecclesiastes 7:20 “Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins.”
John 3:16-18 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. 18 There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”
(All Scriptures New Living Translation)
The Commander of the Lord’s army gave Joshua instructions for conquering Jericho. All the soldiers, as well as seven priests carrying trumpets, were to march around the city once a day for six days. The Ark of the Covenant (representing God’s presence) was to be carried behind the priests. On the seventh day, they were to march around seven times, the priests would blow the trumpets, and everyone would shout. The walls would fall, and the city could be overcome.
So was it the marching, the trumpets sounding, or the shouting that brought the walls down? Or all three? I believe that the obedience of Joshua and the Israelites opened the way for God’s powerful Spirit to destroy the walls. Zechariah 4:6 says regarding Zerubbabel’s work on rebuilding the temple, “’Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
When I encounter seeming impossibilities, I need to listen to the Lord and obey Him completely. That will open the way for God to accomplish His purposes in and through me. Those who wait on the Lord renew their strength (Isaiah 40:31). Lord, please teach me to wait to hear and then obey. Amen.
Once when Saul and his army pursued David, David and his men lived for over a year in the Philistine town of Ziklag. At one point, the Philistines prepared to go to battle with Israel. The Philistine king Achish asked David and his men to go with them, which they were going to do. However, the Philistine commanders rejected David, so King Achish sent him and his men back to Ziklag. But when David and his army got home three days later, they found that the Amalekites had attacked Ziklag and had taken as prisoners all the people remaining there, including women and children. (From 1 Samuel 27-30)
“Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep. …6 Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” (1 Samuel 30:4, 6)
One teacher connected verse 6 above to Ephesians 5:18-20 (“…Instead [of being drunk with wine], be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”). We can encourage not only ourselves, but also others, in the Lord our God.
Dear Father, when distressing things happen, let me encourage and strengthen myself in YOU. Oh may I quickly turn to You and seek and wait on You so my strength can be renewed (Isaiah 40:31)! Yes, as I trust in You, I find that inner peace that enables me to face what life throws at me. You, Lord, are my joy, source of strength, victory, and song. Amen.
(Scriptures are New King James Version).