Reminder

“Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home–these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 5-7 NIV).

Jude tells the church something they already know. Why? They need to be reminded. They must never forget. This information is vital to their walk with God and to the life of the church.

So what’s so important that it has to be repeated for emphasis?

The reminder is a double-edged word of warning and assurance: God knows how to deal with people. God knows how to deliver and protect people who want to live with God. At the same time, God knows how to hold people and even angelic beings who reject God and are self-willed.

Peter concludes a similar passage that includes angels, Noah, and Sodom and Gomorrah (2 Peter 2:4-9) with these words: “. . . if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.”

I need this reminder. I don’t think I am alone.

I need to remember that God can and will deliver me. I am not on my own. My survival is not dependent on me alone. God is involved. God knows how to rescue. God knows how to deliver. God knows how to secure.

I need to remember that God can take care of punishing those who turn from Him. God can hold them. God can keep them. God can judge them. As much as I would like to throw the first stone in their punishment, that’s not my responsibility. The weight of the world rests on God, not me.

Dear God in heaven,

Thank You for all the times You have rescued people.
Thank You for all the times You have delivered me.
Thank You for watching over us.
Thank You for giving us security and assurance.

Sometimes we forget.
Sometimes we fret.
Sometimes we flail around.

May this reminder provide peace of mind and heart.

You and You alone are worthy to bring final judgment.
Thank You for reminding us.
Forgive me, forgive us, when we forget.
Forgive our burning desire to wrest control from You.
Forgive our judgemental spirits and actions.

May this reminder provide peace of mind and heart.

In Jesus’ name,
AMEN.

A Prayer for Times of Upheaval

Dear Lord,

I believe You are a sovereign God,
Creator of the heavens and the earth.

I believe You are ruler of the universe
and Lord of the landscape of my life.
However small a parcel of ground
that is within Your universe,
it is still within Your universe,
and still under Your watchful eye.

I believe You know what happens there,
and that You care what happens there,
especially in times of upheaval.

I believe You are good,
and work all things for Good
to those who love You
and are called according to Your purpose.

I believe You are all-powerful,
and that You make everything beautiful in its time.

All these things, I believe, Lord.
Help my unbelief.

from Life As We Would Want It. . .Life As We Are Given It
by Ken Gire, pages 9-10

Easily Unsettled

“Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come.” 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2

Jesus is coming and when He does, His people will be gathered to meet Him. God wants His people to be encouraged and comforted by this basic Christian teaching.

God does not want us to be a fearful, troubled people. And what better to settle us down than to let our minds rest on the end-times scene of the sky cracking open, Jesus being revealed, and our being gathered to Him.

This coming of and gathering by Jesus brings peace of mind to hearts troubled by illness, grief, poverty, spiritual struggles, and personality clashes. Whatever trials we may be going through, we can rest on God’s promise of Jesus’ return. What a blessing to be a sheep in the flock of the Good Shepherd — green pastures. quiet waters, and the assuring presence of the shepherd’s rod and staff.

Yet sometimes the peaceful flock is excited, shaken, even troubled by people claiming to have a message from God.

A rumor here.

A report there.

You begin to feel the wool standing on the back of your neck as you grow alarmed at the claims you are hearing.

“Listen to this.”

“Read that.”

“You have missed out on what God is doing.”

“This is not my opinion, I have a word from God.”

While it’s hard to believe there are people who would do this to a peaceful flock at Thessalonica – upset their tranquility by trying to convince them they were going to miss out on the joy of Jesus coming and gathering His people — it’s even harder to believe they justify their actions by claiming authority from God.

The apostle Paul calms the flock with words of reassurance. He asks them to slow down and not jump to conclusions. Not every vision, prophecy, or “breathless report” (MSG) is to be accepted. Simply put, some people who loudly and boldly claim to have a message from God, in reality, do not.

Jesus is coming and when He does, His people will be gathered to meet Him.

Settle on this promise.

Right Here, Right Now

Today I have been reflecting on God’s involvement in my life (see passages below). Wherever I go He is with me. What I think is done in secret is not. God knows me thoroughly: God knows my coming and going. God knows me thoughts, my sins, my motives. No matter where I go — be it to foreign lands or the secret places of the heart — God is already there.

And He loves me still.

  • Why should I ever be afraid?
  • When will I realize that since I can fool people but not God, I might as well be honest with God?
  • Who do I think I am, trying to live independently of Him?
  • What will it take for me to fully “put my weight down” on God, trusting Him to support me in any and every situation?
  • How awesome is this God who knows me, yet loves me

Today I am embracing God. I am embracing God’s omnipresence and omniscience. And embracing God, I feel gloriously free.

Jeremiah 16:17
“My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me, nor is their sin concealed from my eyes.”

Psalm 139:2-3
“You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.”

Psalm 139:7-10
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

Proverbs 15:3
“The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”Psalm 44:21
“. . . would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart?”

1 Chronicles 28:9
“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.”

1 Corinthians 4:4-5
“My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.”

Faithful Promises

“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the mighty. This I declare of the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I am trusting him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from the fatal plague. He will shield you with his wings. He will shelter you with his feathers. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” Psalm 91:1-4 NLT

Praying the Psalms brings balance to my prayer life, praise to my lips, and peace to my heart. Just read these words from Psalm 91, letting them pour over your heart. Slowly read them again and begin to make these words a prayer from your heart. Focus on individual words and let your heart soar —

  • shelter
  • rest
  • shadow
  • refuge
  • safety
  • my
  • rescue
  • protect
  • shield
  • armor

What a sweet time of worship.

Dylan’s Deathbed Music

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan was asked, “What’s the last song you would like to hear before you die?”

His answer: “How ’bout Rock of Ages?”

Well, I just had to pull out the old hymnal and take a look at the lyrics (written in 1776 by A. M. Toplady) and the music (1830 by Thomas Hastings).

After taking a look I just have to say “Good answer!”

I am especially moved by verses two and three.

Not the labor of my hands

Can fulfill the law’s demands;

Could my zeal no respite know,

Could my tears forever flow,

All for sin could not atone,

Thou must save and Thou alone

Nothing in my hand I bring:

Simply to thy Cross I cling;

Naked, come to Thee for dress;

Helpless, look to Thee for grace;

Vile, I to the fountain fly:

Wash me Savior or I die

Can you think of anything more comforting when on your deathbed than a song about God’s grace?

Life is not about our success. Life is about our Savior.

How much more the end of life!

Life in the Shelter

One man in Stuart, FL released his pit bulls to attack people with whom he was seeking shelter from Hurricane Frances. The real kicker in the story is that the man was an anger management counselor!

I finally got in touch with my friends in Pensacola. They went to a shelter to ride out Hurricane Ivan. While they were in the shelter, a tornado picked up their car in the parking lot outside the shelter and threw it down. The car was totaled.

In May of 2003 my family huddled in the “safety” of our closet as a tornado roared overhead. The crash of a huge limb through our roof made us very aware of what could have happened had the twister been any closer.

Safety. Real safety is something only our God provides.

“Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings!” Psalm 61:4