Tag Archives: God is in control

Handle With Care: Empty Pockets

Week 5 – Empty Pockets

[Matthew 6:19-21]

CARING FOR TREASURES

  • Treasures in heaven can’t be destroyed
  • Treasures in heaven can’t be stolen
  • Treasures will point to your heart

 

Time

  • God is in control of time (Psalm 74:16-17)
  • Make the best use of time (Ephesians 5:16)
  • Teach us to number our days that we may gain heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12)

 

Talent

  • Each of us have been entrusted/given gifts/possessions dependent upon our ability (Matthew 25:14-30)
  • Use your gifts to serve others & glorify God (1 Peter 4:10-11)

 

Treasure

  • Your soul is more important than the treasure of this world (Matthew 16:26)
  • Your life does not consist of an abundance of possessions (Luke 12:13-21)
  • Give and it will be given to you (Luke 6:38)

 

Breakout Sessions

Read Matthew 25:14-30, The Parable of the Bags of Gold (The Parable of the Talents)

1) Why do the men each get different amounts of gold/talents? What does this mean for us?

2) When we look at this parable, what do we see that is required of us as stewards?

3) What is the immediate response of the three men when they received their talents from their Master? What does this mean?

4) Why is the third servant described as a “wicked, lazy servant”?

 

Handle with Care is a 6-week series focused on studying God’s Word and responding with care. The six weeks of messages may sound like instructions for laundry care — but you will soon find Handle with Care beckons you to examine within, to gauge how you truly love God and love others, and to grow inward and outward. Caring starts with the heart and pours out into the community.

 

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Why Try

We all like to understand things. Some of us like to understand more than others. I remember when I was young and would take apart our VCR (remember that?) and see if I could put it back together. I learned how the VCR worked so well I was able to fix ours from time to time.

When it comes to life, we are to walk by faith. This means that we won’t always know what is going to come our way. We may not even understand some of it. But even so, we are supposed to press onward in faith. As today’s verse says, “The LORD directs our steps.” Since He directs our steps, there’s no reason to understand everything. We don’t need all of the whys because we know the Who and we can trust the Who, knowing that all the whys are for our best.

Today, understand that no matter how many times you dig into the Word, you won’t have all of the answers. But it’s okay! You may not understand everything along the way, but you will be walking with Him through it all. That’s so much better.

“The LORD directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?” – Proverbs 20:24 [NLT]

Watched Over

When my kids were little, I remember watching over them like crazy. I keep a watchful eye on them still today; however, things have certainly changed over the years. I remember when they were babies. I would stare at them as they slept. When they started to climb on things, I was worried they would hurt themselves so I would stand ready to catch them. I removed the coffee table from our living space to keep their heads safe due to a mishap. I had the oh so lovely outlet protectors everywhere. Most parents understand what it means to watch over their little ones.

Now consider how the Lord watches over you. He does! And unlike human parents who are limited by place and time (eventually we leave the room or fall asleep) God is always watching. He is always standing beside you as “your protective shade.” And unlike human parents who are limited  in ways to help, we can trust that God is always in control.

Not only does He watch over you, but “the LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life” (Psalm 121:7 NLT). He not only stands beside you as your protective shade but He keeps you from harm. This verse says that He “watches over your life.” This doesn’t mean that you won’t go through pain or be harmed in some way. This means He keeps your soul. Remember, nothing can snatch you from His hand (John 10:28). Today, may you stand firm and live courageous, trusting that you are watched over, you are loved, and nothing will snatch you from your Father. You are never out of His reach. You are never out of His sight. You are watched over.

“The LORD himself watches over you! The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.” – Psalm 121:5 [NLT]

Falling on Your Knees

Today was the big Cross Country Invitational. The event included eighteen high school teams. I am always excited when the events are nearby so I can attend and watch my daughter run. I ran back and forth taking photos. This is something Cross Country parents can appreciate. When I stood at the finish line, I saw my daughter quickly approaching. All of the sudden she fell on her knees. I prayed quietly for her as she was on her knees with her face toward the ground. It looked like she was praying. She was pouring herself out, but not just in prayer. Only a runner or a parent of a runner can understand. I wanted to run to her, but I knew what she was doing, and I knew I couldn’t touch her or she would be disqualified.

My daughter got up from her knees and finished the race, even PRed (this means she beat her personal record). As I drove home with my camera fully loaded with photos, I considered my daughter on her knees, pouring out of herself. It reminded me of a moment of prayer from the Bible that I continue to be reminded of again and again. Hezekiah received a letter that disturbed him. He took it to the Temple of the Lord and spread it out. He spread the letter out before the Lord. What an awesome example of how we should pray. When my daughter fell down on her knees with her head facing the ground it reminded me of Hezekiah’s actions.

We don’t need to always fall on our knees. Prayer is a heart action. As I quietly prayed for my daughter while she was on her knees, that prayer was heard too. Nonetheless, there’s something special about falling on your knees. You are saying God is High. You are saying He alone is in control. You are saying you trust Him. You are fully surrendering to Him. You are worshiping Him and seeking His will in the situation. Yes, there is something special about falling on your knees.

“After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he went up to the LORD’s Temple and spread it out before the LORD.” – 2 Kings 19:14 [NLT]

A Mighty Hand

As God shares His plan with Moses, He lets Moses know that Pharaoh would not let the people go when he would make the request. Even though Moses was being sent to make this special request, the numerous requests would never work. It was the mighty hand of God that would cause Pharaoh to release the people of Israel.

The “mighty hand” that “forces,” can be described as being “under compulsion.” God is saying that Pharaoh would not allow the people to go unless forced to do this at some point. Imagine being Moses. Imagine the request from God—to go and speak to Pharaoh with a promise that he would not listen. Doesn’t it seem crazy? Go ask this person to say “yes,” but understand he will always say, “no.”

If you are told that what you do will not be successful on your part, would you still do it? Would you be satisfied knowing that the mighty hand of God was going to handle it? Why would Moses even be needed at all if God’s strength was going to be what changed Pharaoh’s mind? All this points back to the glory of God. Remember, this was God’s power on display. Moses showed up and was used as a vessel, but at the end of the day, it was the mighty hand of God that caused Pharaoh to release His special people.

“But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand forces him.” – Exodus 3:19 [NLT]

Prayers of a Parent

As a parent, life changes completely. Our focus, our time, everything is different. We want the very best for our children. The most important part of our lives should be the most important part of their lives – Jesus. As both a Christian and a parent, the ultimate question that we hope is answered with a “yes” is a simple one—Did they accept Jesus? It is the most important decision. It is the difference between life and death!

My children both are believers; however, the fruit for one is more bountiful than the other. I find myself often on my knees praying that my child will let Jesus in deeper, that my child will give up the control, the emotions, the wandering focus, and allow the Spirit to move freely. The past few weeks, I’ve noticed things have been changing. The once more hardened heart is starting to soften up. It certainly has been interesting.

I am excited to see the awesome work God will do through my children for His Kingdom. Thank you Lord for holding my children in Your hands. I know You have promised that not one could be snatched from Your hands. Friends, keep praying for your children. Pray like Hannah (see 1 Samuel 1). Keep lifting them up to Him. Understand that your prayers for your children are of the most important part of parenting.

“For this boy I prayed, and the LORD has given me my petition which I asked of Him.” – 1 Samuel 1:27 [NASB]

Responder

God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. God has done the work. We respond. It is very simple but we often trivialize it. If your relationship with God is based on works, then it is not the relationship God intended for His children.

As I said before, you cannot earn your way into heaven. Today’s passage speaks of getting in step with God. How do we do this? “By letting Him set the pace.” We cannot run the parade but so often we try. Notice the verse says “anxiously trying.” We only try and then fail because we never were in control and we will never be in control.

Letting Him set the pace is difficult. Being a responder is a challenge. It means we must humbly obey. It means we must wait patiently. It means we must walk in faith. Like Abraham who believed God, so must we. Like Moses who walked in the Wilderness for years, so must we follow the path set forth for us. I pray that if you haven’t already done so, that you get your life in step with God. Let Him set the pace for the parade.

“So where does that leave our proud Jewish insider claims and counterclaims? Canceled? Yes, canceled. What we’ve learned is this: God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. We’ve finally figured it out. Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade.” – Romans 3:27-28 [MSG]

Don’t Let Go

Once a person is with Jesus, He doesn’t let go. He never lets go. Read today’s passage. Read this again, “And once that person is with Me, I hold on and don’t let go.” If you accepted Christ as your Savior—if you have given your life to Him—He has taken hold of you and He will never let go. It means that you were running to Him and now you are His.

Each day we face the world and all it brings our way. No matter what comes, Jesus is there. No matter the temptation. No matter the trials. No matter the bad things. No matter the sickness. No matter the stress. No matter what time of day. No matter who you are or the mess you have made. No matter what. If you have ran to Him, He promises that He won’t let go.

Remember this today. He is never leaving go of you. No matter how hard it gets. No matter what hardships come your way. No matter how horrible you think things are in life. He won’t let go. He is going to hold on and not let go. Trust Him. Feel the embrace. Understand that His firm hand is holding it all for you. The troubles may come but no one will snatch you from His hand. Never.

“Jesus said, ‘I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don’t really believe me. Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go. I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me.’”
-John 6:35-38 [MSG]

Unless Your Faith is Firm

In today’s verse, God says, “Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.” The Message puts it this way: “If you don’t take your stand in faith, you won’t have a leg to stand on.”

There was a great threat to David’s kingdom and they began to worry. Verse 2 says, “So the hearts of the king and his people trembled with fear, like trees shaking in a storm” (NLT).They were fearful but God told the people to calm down and stop worrying. Why? Because nothing was going to become of this threat.

God cannot make us stand firm. Our faith needs to be firm. He has promised us many things, but if we don’t trust in His promises – if we don’t trust His Word, then it does us no good. We have a choice. We can believe. We can trust. We can walk in faith. Or we can worry. We can shake like trees in the wind. He cannot make us stand firm, but he has shown us time and time again that He is faithful, He is loving, and He is in control.

“Israel is no stronger than its capital, Samaria, and Samaria is no stronger than its king, Pekah son of Remaliah. Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm” – Isaiah 7:9b [NLT]

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Deep Within the Pit

Jeremiah mentions in Lamentations that he called upon the Lord from deep within a pit and was answered. God told him “do not fear.” True story.  He was tossed in a cistern. Read Jeremiah 38 and see how this all worked out.

We each have different pits in life. We might have just fallen into a new pit or we might have been trying to dig out of a pit for months or years. Each pit is different. Each pit is a challenge. But no matter how deep the pit, no matter how wide the pit, God can hear your calls. We simply need to call upon the Lord.

God listens. God hears. God doesn’t want you in the pit but sometimes you need to be there for Him to rescue you out of the pit. Sometimes you need to be in this brokenness or imprisoned type situation for God to show you Who He is, Who is in control, and just how mighty He is—He can do all things. He can do the impossible. He can pull you out of that pit. Believe.

“But I called on your name, LORD, from deep within the pit. You heard me when I cried, ‘Listen to my pleading! Hear my cry for help!’ Yes, you came when I called; you told me, ‘Do not fear.’” – Lamentations 3:55-57 [NLT]

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