Tuesday's slice of bread

A weekly post premised on this: Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord (Prov. 16:20)

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Location: Florence, Kentucky, United States

married to my best friend, writer, teacher, avid reader, occasional poet, volunteer

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Forgetfulness and Anxiety

Last week's post was on various aspects of forgetfulness and their consequences. This week is a review of the aspects of anxiety/worry when we forget what God has provided for His own.

Anyone who is honest has struggled with anxiety and/or worry at one time or another. There are plenty of causes, both internal and external, for either. Will I meet the right person to marry? Will I get into the school I want to attend? Will I get a job that supports me sufficiently? Will I be able to be a good parent? Will I be able to help my parents in ways that are useful to them? Will I even be able to have a child? Will my marriage last? Will I run out of money? Many questions can cause us anxiety, anxious thoughts, and worry takes over our minds and lives.

I should know. I have been a victim of anxiety. It started when I was in college, many years ago. It got to the point that I had to leave school for a while. Providentially, I was able to pull myself together, return (under probation, admittedly), and complete my degree.

But that was not the end of my struggles.

How have I been able to deal with these recurring matters? Through Scripture, counseling based on Scripture, prayer, repenting, facing the fears that are behind my anxiety and worry, rejoicing in God's eternal goodness and faithfulness.

I went through a major struggle when we first moved to California in 1994, and I found a great deal of help from Elizabeth George's book, Loving God with All Your Mind, because it directed me to these places: 2 Corinthians 10:3-5: "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ"; and Philippians 4:6-8: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."

Philippians 4:8 also gave me a grid through which to process my thoughts and my emotions.

There are dozens of places in both the Old Testament and the New Testament which deal with these issues of the heart.

I have not "arrived" but now I know where to go and Who to go to when I struggle. Psalm 94:19: "When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul." Psalm 139:23-24: "Search me, O God, and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way."

What is essential is trusting in the unchanging character of the One who saved and is sanctifying His own. When His priorities are ours, we can rest.

(Books that have assisted me are many: A Lifting Up for the Downcast by William Bridges; All Things for Good by Thomas Watson; The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes; Anxious for Nothing (first published as Anxiety Attacked) by John MacArthur; A Shelter in the Time of Storm by Paul David Tripp; and Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled by Martyn Lloyd-Jones.) What do these books have in common? They are based on Scripture.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Forgetfulness and the Consequences Thereof

On any given day, Facebook has a way for you to review your memories from years past. It made me think about how quickly we forget, whether a national catastrophe or a personal, precious memory.

Who remembers hurricanes or tornadoes or droughts or floods or earthquakes past unless they have been affected by them? Or on a more sweet side, sermons or Scripture passages which seemed so significant at the time?

I suspect it is our tendency to spiritual forgetfulness that is behind all of the reminders the Bible includes.

We forget how God has met our needs, and then we become anxious. So we find ourselves needing what Paul wrote: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).

We forget how God has manifested His power, and then we become fearful. So we find ourselves where Jeremiah was: "Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and the bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning" (Lamentations 3:19-23).

We forget how God has manifested His wisdom, and then we become nervous. So we find ourselves where the Psalmist was: "Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence" (Psalm 42:8).

We forget God. We look around or within for the answers we need. So we find ourselves needing to remember what Peter wrote: "Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins" (2 Peter 1:3-9).

Finally, we need to remember the Lord's own words: "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful" (John 14:27).

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Directional Living

We are naturally inclined to the relationships we have with other people, whether family or friends. We are naturally inclined to seek our satisfaction in such relationships. We are naturally inclined to make more of these relationships than they can bear. We need to reconsider our directional living.

Directional Living

How easy it is to live horizontally,
Forgetting the vertical,
Stretching out rather than up,
Yammering frustration rather than
Offering praise,
Seeking in each other what
Only God can provide.
In the cross,
vertical and horizontal meet,
God and man greet
In the One Incarnate,
Wholly holy God and man,
Freely giving His immaculate life
To end the strife sin wreaks
Between God and man,
Between man and man.
Only a right vertical relationship
Can make any right horizontal relationship possible.
Only in Christ crucified do vertical and horizontal connect
In perfection.
Only in Christ crucified do we have reconciliation with
God by faith alone, in Christ alone and grace alone--
Grace that is greater,
Grace that is saving,
Grace that is sanctifying,
Grace that makes the 66 books we call the Bible
Clear to us and
Dear to us;
The Word Incarnate and the Word in print,
The greatest treasure for this life and the life to come,
To be treasured above all for all time.
Life up your eyes, lift up your heart to
Biblical, directional living.

In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus says, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell--and great was its fall."

This is more than a story that has been turned into a children's song, complete with motions. This is a warning regarding our response to Jesus. The circumstances of life were the same for both men--rain, floods, winds--but the outcome very different because of the responses made. The consequences would not necessarily be obvious immediately, but some day the foundation, or lack thereof, would be obvious to all.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A Difficult Time

One year was especially difficult for us. In the spring, my husband learned that he was going to lose his job after 16 years because of reorganization. In the fall, my father passed away unexpectedly. Fifty weeks were counted off between my husband's last day with that employer and first day with the next. As hard as that year was, God saw to it that our needs were met and, more than that, that we grew in our relationships with Him and with each other.

A Difficult Time

A difficult time can be a growing time if--
If we determine to choose how we respond, according to Scripture,
To respond according to the book of instructions for
Life, living it as
The Giver of life,
Provider of the river of life,
Has instructed, to be "people of the Book" as  the saying once went.
People of the Book,
And to be so purposefully,
No, momentarily,
Moment by moment,
Breath by breath,
Until breath and heartbeat reach glory,
Worshiping eternally right--
Eternally, timelessly holy.

Psalm 46:1-3: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah."

James 4:13-15: "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.' Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.'"

Psalm 90:12: "So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom."

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

It's From The Heart

We all like to think that wickedness is external and we are victims of it. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us otherwise: "The heart is more deceitful than anything else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?" The only remedy for our wicked hearts is salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

It's From The Heart

It's from the heart all wickedness starts.
No matter how much we attempt to pretend,
Real righteousness is not the end
Most seek to acquire, for hearts
Of all are wicked and deceiving,
Especially those who think they're believing
Is all it needs to be while fruitless,
Their leafless trees stand in the sanctuary
And lifeless their worship in January
And every other calendar  month we count.
No, only lies of the heart mount.
Only when we come to God for mercy can we
Be set by grace at liberty,
Can bear fruit,
Can bring worship,
Can have our hearts cleansed and hands,
As the holiness of God demands.
No, it all starts in the heart, and with that we must honestly deal,
Before the throne humbly kneel,
For grace plead, knowing how much of that we need,
And how much more than we know we need--He is willing to grant,
Willing and gracious, and He knows
The wicked deceit which in every heart grows.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

All Creation Groans

In view of the recent monster storms, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and what they did to Texas and Florida, and several other states, countries, and territories, I was reminded that all creation groans, and has, I suspect, since Genesis 3 and the curse on creation.

Romans 8 notes: "For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subject to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself with also be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth until now" (verses 19-23; NAS).

All creation groans, yet
Through earthquakes and through volcanoes,
Through tornadoes and through hurricanes,
Through droughts, fires, and floods,
Through all natural disasters and through death.

But some day all creation will be made new: no bondage, no sin, no death--
Once He returns and makes all things new and subject gladly to His rule.

And When He Comes Again

And when He comes again,
He will make all things right
As the just Judge,
Righteous and holy--
Unlike me, unlike you.
Every eye will see His glory,
Every tongue proclaims the story,
Every tribe and nation and tongue
Represented as kingdom and King are one.
Only those whom He chose,
Before the foundation,
And regenerated
And sanctified
Anticipate His coming with joy,
Saying, Maranatha!
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

God at Work in Circumstances

Do you feel that God doesn't care about your circumstances? That He is out there, somewhere, distant and disconnected? None of that is true of Him.

God and Circumstances

God is not indifferent to the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
God is not powerless regarding the circumstances, either.
God is not unwise or unable to respond to our prayers, whether for ourselves or others.
God is holy and wholly in control, no matter if appearances are to the contrary.
God rules even over the unruly.
God hears the cries of His people.
What we need to do, then, is trust Him to bring about His will, in His time, and in His way.

Psalm 135:5-6: "For I know that the LORD is great and that our Lord  is above all gods. Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps."

God's work is invisible yet certain. Paul wrote to the Philippians: "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus" (1:6).

God at Work

God's work in the life of the believer begins with giving the believer spiritual life, faith, repentance, a thirst for righteousness, a desire for Christ-likeness, which were never there before.

Read Ephesians 2--Corpses do not crave the things of God; there is silence in the grave of a dead heart.

Read 1 Corinthians 2:10-16--God's work continues through His Spirit so the believer mourns now for sins which were once delightful. Repentance for the same comes more and more easily, though sin dogs the believer day in and day out through temptation and other means.

Read Romans 8--God's work of grace makes the once-craved sin less desirable and God's glory more the goal of the believer.

God's work in the believer includes pruning in season, that they may bring forth more fruit to God's glory--read John 15 and Galatians 5:22-23.

God knows each believer more intimately than they know themselves, having chosen each from before the foundation of the world and designed each for a special place in His church and kingdom--read Romans 8:28-30 and chapter 12.

God's work will never end, for God is eternal, though there will come a Day when all His elect are made perfect. Perfected and finally sinless, believers will serve God with the greatest of love, joy, and peace--for eternity.