Saturday, August 3, 2019

God's Purpose for Loneliness Part 4

I haven't had as much time to write these blog posts with so many changes that often happen in life. Moving and all that is involved with it and teaching in various places has made this a busy season for me and my family.
   In my last post I looked at the third reason God may bring a lonely season into our lives which is for times of rest. The fourth and final reason I have observed in my own journey is for communion. I have found that in these lonely places we meet and commune with Christ Himself in a very personal way.
     I had the privilege of  speaking at a funeral recently and the wife of the man who had passed away told me she had been thinking about the scripture, "Jesus wept." She asked me if that passage was something that should be shared at a funeral because she wanted it to be a time of celebrating her husband going home to be with Christ.  As I got to thinking about that verse, I think it's a very good scripture to be shared because it shows that He can sympathize with the places in which we are walking. It even says He was tempted in every way we are but without sinning. This is the very thing that makes Jesus so personal and a High priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses because He has walked through those temptations. He endured temptations and sufferings and overcame them to empower us to be able to be overcomers. It's in these lonely places that we walk alone with Jesus himself pouring out our hearts to the one who knows and loves us better than anyone. Let Him in to the lonely places in which you find yourself. Pour out your heart to the one who loves you so much that He endured the cruel and lonely sufferings of the cross, for you.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

God's purpose for Loneliness Part 3



And He *said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) Mark 6:31 NASB

As I reflect upon the subject of loneliness in these blog posts, I want to remind you of something encouraging from my own journey with the Lord. I have found that there is a purpose behind the lonely seasons that God will reveal to us as we get quiet and listen for His voice.

In my last two posts I talked about how God allows these seasons for times of testing and as preparation for times of change.

Today I want to talk about the third purpose, that I have found for these lonely seasons. Sometimes it may be for the purpose of rest. God may be, "recharging our batteries," so that we can endure what He knows is ahead of us. We have a faithful High Priest, Jesus, who knows our frailties and needs along the journey. He's the Good Shepherd who is not distant but in fact He is intimately and actively involved in the details of your life. When you find yourself in that lonely season, keep your eyes on Jesus and remember that He who numbered the hairs of your head has not forgotten about you.

14 But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
And the Lord has forgotten me.”
15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child
And have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.
Isaiah 49:14-15 










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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

God's Purpose for Loneliness Part 2


14 Then he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”
1 Kings 19:14

The second purpose for loneliness is when God is bringing change or a new vision into your life. In the preceding verse, Elijah has fled to a lonely cave and tells God that he alone is the only one still obedient to Him. God replies to Elijah;

15 The Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus, and when you have arrived, you shall anoint Hazael king over Aram; 16 and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. 17 It shall come about, the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall put to death. 18 Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
1 Kings 19:15-18

God spoke to Elijah and gave him a vision in that lonely place. If you are walking through a lonely season right now, be encouraged that God may be bringing a new vision or direction to your life. 

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.
Psalm 32:8



For further study today consider this audio message:










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Sunday, April 28, 2019

God's Purpose for Loneliness Part 1

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:1-4

The first purpose for the lonely seasons in our lives is when the Holy Spirit leads us into times of testing.

Listen, we all have to walk through times of trial and testing and it's through these trials that our faith is perfected. When you find yourself in this lonely place of trial, that is where you must walk by faith and not by your feelings. These are the times that you have to keep your mind set upon Jesus and lean upon Him as your beloved. 

   The Spirit of God will remind you of things that have come out of your heart during these lonely times, things that you have turned to instead of coming to Him.

Whether it's food, alcohol, pornography or even entertainment, none of these things can fill that lonely place. They only make you feel more lonely in the end. In those times that you are looking for something to fill the need of your heart, spend that time alone with Jesus.

He loves you and He wants to fill the need of your heart. He longs for you to turn to Him in your lonely valley and be satisfied.

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12





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Monday, April 1, 2019

Loneliness


Turn to me and be gracious to me,
For I am lonely and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
Bring me out of my distresses.
18 Look upon my affliction and my trouble,
And forgive all my sins.
19 Look upon my enemies, for they are many,
And they hate me with violent hatred.
20 Guard my soul and deliver me;
Do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in You.
21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me,
For I wait for You.
22 Redeem Israel, O God,
Out of all his troubles.


Psalm 25:16-22

There are going to be seasons in our lives when we walk through valleys of loneliness. Sometimes it involves loss. Loss of friendship, loss of family members and loved ones.... sometimes it involves change or difficult circumstances or financial problems.

Loneliness doesn't simply mean being alone. You can experience loneliness while in a crowd of people or even in the company of your spouse or those closest to you.

That is because there is a place in your heart that is only reserved for Jesus Christ, the King of kings, our faithful unchanging friend.

Consider this...., I believe there is a reason or purpose for these lonely moments and it brings comfort to me as I walk through them.

I have found in my own life, four particular reasons for lonely seasons that I'd like to share with you over the next few blog posts. I hope you will be encouraged in your faith and reflect upon these posts as you walk through your own valley seasons.



Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,”

Hebrews 13:5 NASB



For further study today, consider this video:










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Monday, March 25, 2019

From A Curse to A Blessing

  Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.

 Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;

 For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.

 Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.

For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.

Isaiah 54:1-5 King James Version (KJV)

How many of us are ashamed of the past, of things we have done or said that have affected other people's lives? There is not one of us in moments of ignorance that haven't done that and carried the guilt, regret and shame of it. Here in this passage in Isaiah it talks about God removing the shame of our youth. Jesus wants to do that in each one of our lives, to take us from being a curse to being a blessing. 
  I remember one time when I first moved to Houston, still young in my faith, I was working at the courthouse and I would go sit on a park bench at lunch and read my Bible. 

One such day a man came up to me in a trench coat and saw me reading. He asked me, "Have you given up everything for God?" I looked at him a little taken aback and replied, "I...think so, I sure want to." 

"Well, do you have a car?" he asked.  I said, "Yeah, I do." and he said, "Well then you haven't given everything up." 

He continued his questions with, "Do you have a place to live?" I stopped for a moment and replied, "Yes I do." and he retorted that Jesus had no place to lay his head."

 I replied, "Where do you live?" He shrugged and conveyed that he lived in a homeless shelter. 
I asked him, "So you have a home too." We continued to go back and forth in this discussion of what he perceived that it meant to obey the scriptures. I said to myself, Lord, this can't be right.  
I believe what Christ was really saying in those passages is to be strong and fearless in your devotion to Him. 

When God puts something before you he desires you to take you from being a curse to being a blessing and our job is to simply be faithful where he has put us. 

Be strong in courage trusting that there isn't anything that you need that He will not provide.  Be salt and light right where he has you. In the job he has you in or in your home with your family He will make you a blessing!.

Some of you are the first to be saved in your family and to know Jesus in intimate personal relationship. Just as salt is a preservative, you are a preserver of your family by walking with Jesus.  

 He will do in and through you His perfect will for your life as you seek to love Him and those he has put around you. All of these things He will do as you faithfully abide in Him.

Where you once were a curse he will transform you into a blessing and that is just another reason to love Jesus more today.

Smile and be encouraged that God loves you and is making you a blessing!


  
For further study today consider this video:










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Friday, February 22, 2019

Who is the Star?

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
Psalm 23:1

The life of a disciple is always moving forward on the journey of faith. 

If we don't realize God's sovereignty, wisdom and love we will fight against our circumstances. 

In each of your valleys there is a purpose. The children of Israel walked through the wilderness with God for 40 years and never learned to trust Him. 
   In Psalm 23:1, David the Psalmist said the Lord is his Shepherd, he shall not want. He acknowledged God's lordship over his life. What about you? Maybe you have prayed a prayer or gone to church every Sunday, however, like the Bob McLeod songs says, "Who is the star on the stage of your life?" Is Jesus the star, or you? 

  Each one of us has to come to the place where we say, "Lord, I don't understand all of your ways or the circumstances of my life but I recognize that I don't have all the answers and
I submit to your Lordship." 

That means God has the freedom with our lives to do whatever He wishes. In order for us to submit to Him we must have a revelation of His love for us. If we don't trust Him we won't submit to Him.

 If you trust Him you will begin to release and surrender your life to Him. If you're in a difficult situation and you've prayed and don't know what to do, wait upon the Lord until He speaks clearly. 

Examine your heart and go back to the last thing that God spoke to you and be obedient. 

Don't step out hastily and make decisions without God's direction. The Lord will let you do that but you have to live with the choices you make. 

Don't lose heart if you're in that place. That is how you learn to wait upon the Lord and to trust Him.

Who among you fears the LORD
and obeys the voice of His Servant?
Who among you walks in darkness
and has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the LORD;
let him lean on his God.
Behold, all you who kindle a fire,
who array yourselves with firebrands,
walk in the light of your fire
and in the firebrands you have lit!
This is what you will receive from My hand:
You will lie down in a place of torment.
Isaiah 50:10-11

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Shipwrecked

Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults. 
 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me! 
Psalm 19:12-13


A dear brother in one of the prison units asked if I would share about what David meant about the sin of presumption.  I always thought it meant sin you do out of ignorance but the more I began to study the word about it, I couldn't be more wrong about that. What he was really saying was for God to keep Him from outright rebellion. 

God has put within us a knowledge of right and wrong and a presumptuous sin is a sin that disregards that inner conscience. It is where you know something is wrong but you set your heart to go in that direction anyway. One of your most prized possessions is your conscience! It is there to help you and guide you what is right and wrong to help you make right decisions.

The sin of presumption is a sin against your own conscience and it is a serious thing. 1st Timothy 1:5 says;

 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:

Here Paul is saying that everything his teaching is working toward is to produce love, true faith and a good conscience. He goes on to say in verse 18;


 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;
 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:
Here he is saying there are some that have compromised the light of conscience within them and some having done so have become, "shipwrecked" in their faith. They no longer listened to their conscience and were walking in outright rebellion to the faith. Paul said he turned such men over to Satan so that they might learn not to blaspheme. 
How many of us would have been delivered or kept from a bad situation had we only listened to conscience. Sometimes the Lord uses Godly friends and family to speak to your conscience and warn or guide you.  It's dangerous to disregard Godly counsel when we know it is bearing witness with our conscience. 
Consider Proverbs 1:20-31 where God is trying to speak to us....
20 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:
21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying,
22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?
23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.
24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;
25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:
26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;
27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.
28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:
29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord:
30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.
31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.

There is coming a day in every one of our lives when we are going to die. Then we will see every time God extended His hand in love and we refused Him. 
There is a passage in 1st Corinthians 10:13 which says;
 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
Don't harden your heart today if the Lord is speaking to you through your conscience or even the Godly counsel of others. 
The sin of presumption is to ignore your conscience, to ignore Godly counsel and it's a deliberate act of the heart.
David knew he was capable of willful sins and so he cried out to the Lord for help.
Throughout this brief blog has the Lord convicted you of any presumptuous sin? Have you become shipwrecked in your faith? Ask God to help you and restore tenderness to your heart.
Today if God is speaking to your heart don't disregard the commandments of God or His counsel.  Today is the day of your salvation and remember, obedience to God's ways always leads to righteousness and assurance with God.

 Sin always leads to death and leaves a path of suffering and destruction in our lives and the lives of others. Today while there is hope, repent and walk in obedience to God's counsel and instruction.  

                  Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
            But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.
                                               Proverbs 27:6

For further study today, consider this podcast: