Tag Archives: faithfulness

Do Only Good

God is good. Always. The Psalmist declares this and it is true. God is good, “and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon (Him)” (Psalm 86:5 NLT). “The LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 100:5 NLT).

Not only is God good, but He does only good. You may hear someone say otherwise or you may think otherwise at times. Understand God is good and He cannot do anything that is not good. He is good. Goodness comes from Him. He only can do good. When something not good is happening, He may have allowed it but He did not cause it.

God uses everything for His good purpose. Remember Romans 8:28: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (NLT). If you are going through something right now, trust that He will use it for His good purpose. He is faithful. You are not alone.

“You are good and do only good; teach me Your decrees.” – Psalm 119:68 [NLT]

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Hold Tightly

To hold tightly means you hold firmly. You cling to something or grip something, usually in attempt to not let go. I think back to when my children were small and I would hold their hands tightly as we crossed the streets. I remember walking up a high staircase and holding the handrail tightly in hopes that I could safely navigate the heights. When the wind is blowing hard, we hold tightly to our personal items as we try to get from the car to the house without losing anything. We use all the strength we have so we can keep a hold of these things.

In Deuteronomy 11, we read about “holding tightly to Him.” Do you hold as tightly to God, with the tight grip, in an attempt to not let go when the winds get high? Do you hold as tightly to God as you climb the high heights? Do you cling as tightly to God’s hand as you cross the streets of life?

The Bible tells us we are to walk in God’s ways and hold tightly to Him. It’s hard, but it’s not impossible. To walk in His ways, you must hold tightly to Him. Abide in Him and He will abide in you (see John 15). His power working through you will give you all you need to walk in faithful obedience. Today, realign yourself to Him.

“Be careful to obey all these commands I am giving you. Show love to the LORD your God by walking in His ways and holding tightly to Him.” – Deuteronomy 11:22 [NLT]

The Cave

As you read Genesis, you learn of the Promised Land, the land that God had promised to Abraham as part of the Abrahamic Covenant. Remember: blessing, land, and descendants. This Promised Land was eventually inhabited by Abraham’s descendants when Joshua and the Israelites entered Canaan. Nonetheless, Abraham never got to claim the Promised Land—He never got to reside in this area, the Promised Land.

In Genesis 23, we read of the death of Abraham’s wife Sarah, and we read of her burial. Here we read of the patriarch’s wife dying and Abraham attempting to purchase land to bury her. Why did he need land? He had none! Despite God promising him land, there was no land. Abraham was a sojourner. But Abraham negotiates a deal with Ephron the Hittite for a cave and a field to buy and then bury his beloved wife. In making settlement on this land, in purchasing the deed, Abraham was buying a very small piece of the Promised Land.

You may think, why should Abraham have to buy a piece of land that God promised him. God said that land would be his, but it didn’t mean it would happen overnight or even in his lifetime. But as Abraham lost his precious wife, this situation gave Abraham a reminder of what would come. By purchasing this small piece of the Promised Land, he was able to lay down roots in the land that would one day be the land of his descendants. He was burying the first of many of his family, in the land that God promised would all be his. As he was making this purchase, he was trusting in this great promise from God—and declaring His faithfulness.

We don’t know how God will work in a situation. We don’t know the steps, the plan, or even if things will happen during our time on earth. But we do know we have a faithful God and His Word never fails.

“So Ephron’s field in Machpelah near Mamre—both the field and the cave in it, and all the trees within the borders of the field—was deeded to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city. Afterward Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre (which is at Hebron) in the land of Canaan. So the field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham by the Hittites as a burial site.” – Genesis 23:17-20 [NIV]

Led Away

When you start reading Hosea 4, you can instantly note that God is accusing Israel of being led away from Him. The inhabitants of the land were not faithful to God. They did not even have knowledge of Him. They were so far from God; their lives were filled with sin. The Bible lists some of those sins, showing us that this wasn’t a simple issue. The people were drowning in sin so much so that the land even mourned. Talk about corruption.

It is a shame to read this passage, to see that there were people who were led so far away from God that they did not even have knowledge of Him anymore. It all went away. They fixed their eyes so long on that which was not God, and participated in sinful acts so long, that God was far from them—so far He was not even known to them.

This is not a strange concept. The sad truth is that many places in the world, and even in our country, people do not know God. The world is filled with corruption. Temptations are lurking all around. People are drawn to sinful pleasures. Social media glorifies that which is ungodly. Non-believers and Christians alike are being led away, down the wide path that leads to destruction. This is not the life we are meant to live. God has something better for us. When you feel as if the world is trying to lead you away, fix your eyes on Him and drown yourself in His Word. Only few will be found on the narrow path—may you be part of the few.

“Hear the word of the Lord, O children of Israel, for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land; there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore the land mourns, and all who dwell in it languish, and also the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens, and even the fish of the sea are taken away. Yet let no one contend, and let none accuse, for with you is my contention, O priest.” – Hosea 4:1-4 [ESV]

His Perfect Timing

God’s timing is always the best timing. Oftentimes we consider how we don’t receive a particular blessing until just the right time when it is needed, but He also keeps us from seeing or experiencing things until it is the proper time as well. Not only can we look at His perfect timing when it comes to the blessings we receive, but we also can look at His perfect timing when He protects us or keeps us from something until the timing is more appropriate or better for His great work.

This past week was Holy Week. It was a full on week of preaching and ministering. Throughout the week, I kept myself fixated on God’s Word, continuously in prayer, and I tried to balance out things so I had rest built in within the busy schedule. But in the midst of it all, God was not allowing me to see things that would throw me off course as well. We don’t often consider how He is fighting for us, moving behind the scenes to ensure His children stay the course and run the race before them. He is a faithful God. He is a merciful, gracious God.

God’s timing is always perfect. Today, consider what you do not get to see happening—the protection of God, the hand of God keeping you from items hidden from your view. The Lord embraces you—covers you with His protective wings. It is not by chance that you missed a particular newspaper article. It is not by chance that you caught that red light that didn’t seem to go off like the normal traffic timing at that time of the day. Everything is under God’s control. Today, thank Him for His protection. Thank Him for seeing things through to the end. Thank Him for using you for His great work and for never letting you go. He is faithful! He is awesome! He is Lord of all!

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!’ For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper And from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.” – Psalm 91:1-4 [NASB]

 

Overwhelming Joy

JOY is all about JESUS and the gift of salvation He offers. Because of JESUS, we wanderers can come back home to our Heavenly Father. This relationship was always God’s plan for us. It is only possible through CHRIST JESUS. Only through faith in JESUS are we children of God. Salvation is a gift from God. JESUS, our greatest gift – this is the cause of our “Overwhelming Joy.”

When you live with the Overwhelming JOY of JESUS, this JOY will become Overflowing JOY.

Luke 2:10-11 – But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. [NIV]

What JOY isn’t:

  • Positive thinking
  • Happiness because things are going your way
  • A glass half-full attitude

NO ONE WILL ROB YOU OF YOUR JOY – John 16:22 says “So you also have sorrow now. But I will see you again. Your hearts will rejoice, and no one will rob you of your joy.” No one can rob you of your JOY because it is founded in JESUS, in your salvation.

What is JOY?

1 Peter 1:8 – “You love (Jesus) even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.” [NLT]

  • Glorious joy – ascribing weight by recognizing real substance/value – personally acknowledge God in His true character – JOY [POINTS TO GOD]
  • Inexpressible joy – unable to fully describe, impossible to adequately convey with words, unspeakable – JOY [WORDS CANNOT DESCRIBE]

Definition of JOY:

“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.” – Kay Warren

The JOY OF JESUS

The JOY of JESUS was His absolute surrender and sacrifice of self to His Father. He had JOY in doing what His father sent Him to accomplish. Hebrews 12:2b says, “Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”

Why did this all happen….

  • God loves youJohn 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” JESUS WAS BORN TO COMPLETE A MISSION – A SINLESS LIFE, A SACRIFICE, SALVATION FROM THE WAGES OF SIN.
  • God is for you – Romans 8:31b “If God is for us, who can be against us;” John 3:17 “God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him” (NLT). JESUS CAME TO SAVE YOU
  • God is with you – Joshua 1:9 “wherever you go;” Deuteronomy 31:6 “He will not leave you or forsake you;” Isaiah “(He) is with you;” Matthew 28:20b “I am with you always, to the end of the age;” Immanuel means “God with us” – prophesied in Isaiah 7:14, mentioned in Matthew 1:23. THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS SENT TO US.

IT’S ALL ABOUT JESUS AND RELATIONSHIP

 What Jesus say about JOY:

  • All of heaven celebrates those who repent. Luke 15:7 – Parable of Lost Sheep – “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” [JOY OVER REPENTANCE]
  • Jesus celebrates faithfulness with you. Matthew 25:21 – “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” [JOY OVER FAITHFULNESS]

REPENTANCE IS THE FIRST STEP

FAITHFULNESS IS ALL OF THE STEPS AFTER

JOY is grounded upon God Himself:

  • Joy is glorious gladness & deep delight in the person of Jesus
  • Joy is greater and stronger than any trouble in life
  • Jesus is the source of all JOY (Psalm 43:4)
  • In His Presence is fullness of JOY (Psalm 16:11)
  • His Word is a JOY & delight of heart (Jeremiah 15:1-6)
  • Faith in Him causes us to brim with JOY (Psalm 33:20-22)

JOY is Good News – Entire Gospel is full of JOY at every turn:

  • Birth of Jesus (Luke 2:10) – Good news of GREAT JOY that will be for ALL the people.
  • Triumphal Entry (Mark 11:9, Luke 19:37) – Whole multitude of disciples began to PRAISE GOD.
  • After the Resurrection (Matthew 28:7-8) – So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled WITH JOY, and ran to tell his disciples.
  • The Promise Yet to Come (Isaiah 51:11) – Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.

How does the JOY fade?

  • Sin – going against God – Pastor Miles spoke the first week about Repentance
  • Past – focusing on past mistakes – I spoke about the past – about how we should only look back when we are remembering what God has done.
  • Fear & Doubt – not believing/trusting God, doubting God – Pastor Ryan spoke about trusting God
  • Selfishness – pride tries to control rather than rest in Him. Pastor Matt spoke about our need to surrender control and admit we need Jesus.
  • Lack of prayer – JOY is fruit of the believer. (Galatians 5:22). Every believer is to share in the JOY of CHRIST by walking with Him daily. Prayer & Bible reading. JESUS said in John 15 that it is MY JOY IN YOU – JESUS’ JOY in you – if you abide in HIM. You cannot produce this JOY alone. It needs to be cultivated. It’s linked to your relationship with JESUS.

Great Example of JOY in the Bible

Churches of Macedonia – 2 Corinthians 8:2 – “In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.”

This doesn’t make sense if you define JOY using the world’s definition. But it certainly makes sense when you have encountered JESUS and you walk with Him.

If you haven’t taken that first step to JESUS, do it now! Enter into His JOY!

If you already have taken that first step, where are you at with the steps that follow? If you are walking with JESUS, where is your joy?

2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” He did this so we could do life with JESUS, so that we could be in the presence of God. JOY is wrapped up in His presence.

Romans 14:17 – the Kingdom of God is RIGHTEOUSNESS, PEACE, & JOY in the Holy Spirit. The Kingdom of God is about righteousness, peace & joy—and it’s all from the Spirit of God. No one can take the Spirit of God from you. No one can take the joy & peace & righteousness.

Psalm 16:11 – “You will show me the way of life, granting me the JOY of Your presence and the pleasures of living with You forever.”

May this be your prayer.

More Than a Story: Faithfulness

[The Loaned Money: Matthew 25:14-30]

  • Also known as the Parable of the Talents
  • A talent is a monetary unit worth about 20 years’ worth of wages.
  • Talent is useless if it is not used.
  • No one is without talent.
  • Talents given according to ability – 5, 2, 1

Responsibility – Faithful over little, set you over much – Action is required

Time – Talent – Treasure

 

  • We are to be RESPONSIBLE and CREATIVE
  • We are all different but His expectations are always appropriate.
  • Talents (Resources from God) + Action for God + Time (Gift from God)

                                                                                   = Profit for Kingdom

The third servant – the evil, lazy servant…

  • Hid the talent because he was concerned with safety more than service
  • To avoid not doing anything wrong, he ended up not doing anything right.

To be faithful, one must be:

  • Focused on Jesus – All about Jesus, growing His Kingdom (Colossians 3:17)
  • Founded in Jesus – Abide in Him (John 15)
  • Fearless for Jesus – Hope in Jesus = Boldness/Courage (2 Corinthians 3:12)

Bible Study Questions:

1) What was the Master’s commendations for the two successful servants?

2) What did the Master do for the successful servants?

3) The unfaithful servant was described as three words. How was he described?

4) What happened to the unfaithful servant when the Master returned?

5) How do we bury the talents God has given us?

6) How can we discover our talents? How can we use them for God’s glory?

7) How can we encourage others with their talents?

more than a story

More Than A Story is a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on the parables of Jesus.

Richness
Forgiveness
Persistence
Fruitfulness
Obedience
Humility
Compassion
Responsiveness
Repentance
Readiness
Faithfulness
Kingdom-Focused

More Than a Story: Compassion

[The Good Samaritan: Luke 10:25-37]

Compassion – Deep awareness of the sufferings or misfortunes of another with a desire to relieve it.

Verse 37 – And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.” [NASB]

Mercyeleos (el’-eh-os) – pity, mercy, compassion, tender mercy, kindness

Samehomoiós (hom-oy’-oce) – In like manner, similarly, in the same way, equally

Psalm 86:15“But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.” [NLT]

CompassionRachum – (rakh-oom’) – compassionate, full of compassion

Jesus expressed compassion to:

  • Weary (Matthew 11)
  • Tempted (Hebrews 2)
  • Helpless (Mark 9)
  • Sorrowful (Luke 7)
  • Multitudes (Matthew 15)

 Zechariah 7:9“Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another.” [ESV]

Colossians 3:12 – “Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” [HCSB]

“Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.” – Albert Schweitzer

Bible Study Questions:

1) Before the Parable was told, Jesus was tested by a lawyer. The lawyer answered correctly about the Law (v. 27). He knew what God’s Word said. Jesus said, “Do this, and you will live.” What was the “do this”?

2) The lawyer intended to justify himself and asked, “Who is my neighbor”? In the last verse of the passage, Jesus asks him who was his neighbor. Which fellow from the Parable was the neighbor? What did he do for the man?

3) What did the compassionate fellow do for the man that can remind us of the unfailing, unending compassion of our God? (See verse 35)

4) What do you think it means to be compassionate toward someone? Was there a time in your life when you did this to another? Was there a time when someone showed compassion to you?

5) Jesus showed compassion to all people, and these people each lived in various circumstances. How can we show compassion to the

  • Weary –
  • Tempted –
  • Helpless –
  • Sorrowful –
  • Multitudes –

more than a story

More Than A Story is a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on the parables of Jesus.

Richness
Forgiveness
Persistence
Fruitfulness
Obedience
Humility
Compassion
Responsiveness
Repentance
Readiness
Faithfulness
Kingdom-Focused

More Than a Story: Fruitfulness

[The Unproductive Fig Tree: Luke 13:6-9, Withered Fig Tree: Matthew 21:18-22]

Colossians 1:9-10“For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” [NIV]

*BEARING FRUIT IN EVERY GOOD WORK*

  • Filled with the knowledge of His will
  • Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord
  • Bearing fruit in every good work

INTERNAL FRUIT + EXTERNAL FRUIT

            Internal Fruit – Deeper walk with God which produces: Fruits of the Spirit

            External Fruit – Abiding in Christ impacts relationships and increases effectiveness of your ministry

Galatians 5:22-23a – “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” [NLT]

John 15:5“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” [NASB]

John 15:8, 11“My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples… I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” [HCSB]

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” – Ephesians 3:14-21 [NIV]

Bible Study Questions:

1) Looking at the Parable of the Unproductive Fig Tree, who is:

            The Vineyard Owner –

The Vineyard Keeper –

2) The Keeper of the Vineyard pleas with the Owner to give another chance. What does this say to us?

3) In Matthew 21:18-22, we read of the Withered Fig Tree. The fig tree bears a false resemblance of one that would have fruit. How can we appear to be fruitful but not yet not bear any fruit?

4) What does the Withered Fig Tree represent to us? What can we take from this message?

5) Read Colossians 1:9-10. The passages mentions being filled with the knowledge of His will, to walk in the manner worthy of the Lord, and about bearing fruit in every good work. How can we:

            Be filled with the knowledge of His will?

            Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord?

            Bear fruit in every good work?

more than a story

More Than A Story is a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on the parables of Jesus.

Richness
Forgiveness
Persistence
Fruitfulness
Obedience
Humility
Compassion
Responsiveness
Repentance
Readiness
Faithfulness
Kingdom-Focused

How the Mighty Have Fallen

In 2 Samuel 1 we read about the death of Saul and Jonathan at the hands of the Philistines. David is told this news and he lamented. He writes this long lamentation that says “how the mighty have fallen” three times (vs. 19-27). It is such a beautiful collection of words as a tribute for these men. As I read through this passage, it is easy to see how David wanted to honor these men; however, it also can serve as a reminder—“How the mighty have fallen.”

No matter how strong we are on our own, we will fall. No matter how much we achieve, we will fall. No matter how high up the ladder we climb by our own human standards, we will fall. We will fall. But that’s not the end of the story. It’s only a small smidgen of life. God has promised us life and life in abundance (John 10:10). His Word says that if we believe in Him, we will have everlasting life (John 3:36). We may fall but we will rise with Him. On His shoulders He carries us home (John 6:40).

You can trust in the promises of God for He is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9). He is true. He is the Promise Keeper. Each of us will fall again and again, but with each sin we are covered by the blood of Christ. Each of us will one day breathe our last breath, but that last breath of air is not the end. Oh how the mighty have fallen— but oh how the children of God will live forever with Him rejoicing together, singing “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty who was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8 NIV).

“I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.” – John 5:24 [NLT]