The Choice of Trust

Posted: March 7, 2013 by bigdawgsm in Uncategorized

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Scripture- Psalm 43:5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Observations- The psalmist finds himself engaged in introspective “self-talk.” He is dealing with discouragement and he is experiencing inner conflict. The psalmist reminds himself who to turn to and where to place his hope. The discouragement and inner conflict is keeping him from praising God as he has in the past and as he knows he will in the future. He has praised God and will praise God because of what God has done–he has saved him. He has praised God and he will praise God because of who God is–a personal and knowable God.

Application- Internal conflict is the experience of us all. Our “self-talk” reveals the ebb and flow of discouragement and hope–of worry and trust–of pain and praise. The question becomes whose voice we will listen to? Will we listen to the voice of worry and discouragement, or the comforting inner voice of the Comforter? And what response will we choose? Will we choose a self-focused despair or a God-focused praise? Will we choose the hopelessness that comes from the futility of trying to control our circumstances or the hope of surrendering our lives once again to the care and control of God? Will we “again praise him?” Praise is the choice of trust.

Prayer- Abba, I choose hope. I choose trust. Again I will praise you. I will praise you for what you have done and I will praise you for who you are. You are my salvation and my God.

Shaken but not Shattered

Posted: February 12, 2013 by bigdawgsm in Uncategorized

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Scripture- Psalm 13:5-6 (ESV) But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Observations- David was feeling shaken (v. 4) because of his circumstances. He felt forgotten and forsaken (v. 1). He was turned inward and feeling depressed (v. 2). Yet he made the choice to cry out to God, and that good choice led him to other good choices. David chose to remember the unchanging character of the God had had put his trust in. He chose to remember how God loved him no matter what. He chose joy because of his salvation. The God who had saved him would continue to save him. David chose to focus on what he had in his relationship with God instead of focusing on what he didn’t have in his present circumstances.

Application- At times during this transition I feel forsaken and forgotten, but I do not have to be ruled by those emotions; I have a different choice. I can choose joy. I can choose to rejoice in God my Savior. I can choose to focus on how God has saved me from my sinful separation from Him. I can choose to focus on how God will save me from the pain that is so often part of life in this sinful world. And I can choose to focus on how God is saving me from the oppressive power of sin in my life today. I can choose to focus on the bountiful gifts God has given me–family, faithful friends, provision for today even when tomorrow seems so uncertain.

Prayer- Abba, by your sustaining power I am shaken but not shattered. I can choose to focus on the salvation you are still working into my life. And I choose to thank you for the bountiful gifts you have given men. I am neither forgotten nor forsaken.

I’m Circling the Drain!

Posted: January 10, 2013 by bigdawgsm in Journal entries

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Scripture- Psalm 6:2-3 (ESV) Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; heal me,O Lord, for my bones are troubled. My soul also is greatly troubled. But you, O Lord–how long? 

Observations- David prays for God’s grace because he was spiraling down emotionally. He was keenly aware of his need for God’s grace because this was something he couldn’t pull himself out of. His emotional spiral was so deep it began to affect him physically–he felt it in his bones. David’s spiral even affected his faith. Deep down his spiral had him questioning the reality of God’s presence and help in his life.

Application- In the midst of a downward spiral I need God’s grace, healing, and keeping. Despair affects my emotions, my health, and even my faith. In the midst of despair I need God’s grace because I don’t feel accepted. I need to be reminded that my acceptance is not based on me but on God in His grace. In the midst of despair I need God’s healing because despair wears me out and runs me down. In the midst of despair I need God to hold me and keep me close. I need Him to remind me of His presence even in the midst of my despair. I need God to save me from spiraling down the drain.

Prayer- Abba, lately I have felt like my life is draining away. It is hard to face another day of what feels so uncertain and hopeless. Striving to keep myself from going down the drain has me worn out. So I am going to quit striving, be still, and know that You are God. I am going to choose to reach out and trust You to save me, to keep me, and in Your timing to deliver me.

The Source of the Spring

Posted: December 24, 2012 by bigdawgsm in Journal entries

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Scripture- John 7:38 (The Message) He (Jesus) cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.”

Observations- Jesus stood up at the feast and made a public declaration about Himself. This statement was given with a sense of passion as Jesus “cried out.” The statement “If anyone thirsts” demands a universal “yes” because, just as we all thirst physically, we all thirst spiritually. David reflected that truth when he wrote in Psalm 42:1 “my soul pants.” Jesus declared that He was the spiritual drink needed to quench spiritual thirst. Then He pointed ahead to the time that was coming when all who turn to Him in faith would receive an inner spring of spiritual satisfaction that would bubble out and overflow. That inner spring of living water is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who, after Pentecost, would indwell everyone who puts their faith in the Source of the living water–all those who would trust in Jesus. This indwelling of the Spirit was a fulfillment of what the prophets foretold about the New Covenant and the presence of God with His people.

Application- Just as I need constant fulfillment of my physical thirst; I need constant fulfillment of my spiritual thirst. Jesus is the Source of living water and the Holy Spirit is the Spring welling up in my soul. The Spirit wells up in my soul, satisfying my thirst for God’s forgiveness. Jesus is the Source of that forgiveness through His death on the cross. The Spirit wells up in my soul and satisfies my thirst for God’s direction. Jesus is the One I follow. The Spirit wells up in my soul and satisfies my thirst for God’s unfailing love. Jesus came to demonstrate that unfailing love.

Prayer- Abba, thank you for sending the indwelling Holy Spirit as the constant, inner Spring that satisfie my spiritual thirst for living water. Abba, thank you for first sending the Source of that living water. Thank you for sending you Son. Jesus, thank you for surrendering to the Father’s will by becoming flesh to serve in humility. Jesus, thank you for surrendering to the Father’s will by shedding your blood as our substitute. Jesus, thank you for being the Source of the living water that satisfies my thirsty soul.

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters…” (Isaiah 55:1)

Whatever you may be facing that leaves you spiritually thirsty, may you and yours drink deep of the living water this Christmas.

 

Relentless Light

Posted: December 17, 2012 by bigdawgsm in Journal entries

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Scripture- John 1:4-5 (The Message) What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.

Observations- The pre-existent Word who is God the Son came into our place of existence. The pre-existent Word became God Incarnate and was the personification of true Life. That Life was a revelatory Light that displayed how God created human beings to live. That Living-Light also revealed God’s existence and nature, shattering the overwhelming darkness of sin–a darkness that tried to overwhelm and hide God Himself; to no avail because Jesus is the Relentless Light.

Application- We live in a dark world. An overwhelming darkness invaded an elementary school in Connecticut last Friday. It was an overwhelming darkness that descended on parents who lost children, on children who lost siblings and friends, on husbands who lost spouses, and on a community that lost its innocence. This overwhelming darkness tried to hide our faith, tried to hide our hope, tried to hide our love; and ultimately, tried to hide our God–all to no avail because “the Light-Life blazed out of the darkness.” The Light of God in Jesus is Relentless Light. The Relentless Light blazed out in the prayers and the comfort and the support. The Relentless Light blazed out in vigils and churches and the Newtown High School gymnasium. And the Relentless Light blazes out in the celebration of hope that is Christmas. As overwhelming as this darkness of senseless violence is; the darkness can’t put out the Life-Light because Jesus is Relentless Light.

Prayer- Abba, thank you for the Relentless Light you sent into the world 2,000 years ago–the Relentless Light of your Son, Jesus. Thank you that when the darkness of our world seems overwhelming, that the Relentless Light blazes out of the darkness. Thank you that when the darkness of my sin seems to overwhelm my soul, that in Your grace and mercy the Relentless Light blazes out of the darkness. Thank you that when the darkness of my circumstances seems to overwhelm my hope, that the Relentless Light blazes out of the darkness. Jesus, thank you for being the Relentless Light.

Surviving the Emotional Roller-Coaster

Posted: December 11, 2012 by bigdawgsm in Journal entries

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Scripture- Colossians 3:13 (The Message) Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.

Observations- Emotions are not to be the defining aspect of our lives. We shouldn’t respond like we are on an emotional roller-coaster, even when it feels like we are. When our emotions are volatile, we need to control our reactions so that they are calm and collected. One key to an even-tempered spirit is the sense of contentment we have when we yield first place to God and to others. When we aren’t striving to be first, our reactions can be calm and controlled. The other key to an even-tempered spirit is an ongoing attitude of forgiveness. when people wrong us or when thoughts of past offenses flood our minds, we must quickly make the choice to forgive. That choice to forgive must not only be quick, it must also be complete. There is no room for grudges or conditions. Our goal is to be as quick to forgive and as complete in our forgiveness as Jesus is. No other standard leads to an even-tempered spirit.

Application- So here it is in a nutshell. Real people have real emotions; but I don’t have to be driven or defined by my emotions. The best way to keep my emotions from driving and defining my life is to surrender the place of prominence. When I make God first and when I “consider others better” (Philippians 2:3), I can and will forgive quickly and completely. How can I fail to forgive quickly and completely when a holy God forgives me that way? Surrendering the place of prominence will keep me from putting my rights before my relationships. After all, isn’t servanthood about surrendering my rights? Yes, the feelings of hurt, disappointment, and anger toward others; along with feelings of grief, loss, even guilt and shame toward myself will rise and fall in my life like a roller-coaster. But my reactions can be more even-tempered when I surrender the position of prominence, particularly in the area of forgiveness.

Prayer- Abba, I admit that I feel the roller-coaster of emotions every day; but You are first, not me. My eyes need to be focused on You and my concern needs to be focused on others; even when my stomach drops in the free-fall of life’s roller-coaster. Since I don’t see the end of this roller-coaster ride coming very soon, particularly in this season of transition; I need to respond to others with my eyes fixed on You.

Forks in the Mindset Road

Posted: December 10, 2012 by bigdawgsm in Journal entries

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Scripture- Philippians 4:7-8 (The Message) It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious–the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.

Observations- Great things happen through a Christ-centered life. Focus on Christ will drive worry out of the picture. It all comes down to what a person fills his or her mind with. Fill and focus your mind on truth, which is most clearly found in God’s Word. Fill and focus your mind on noble thoughts–thoughts that champion the greatest good for all. Fill and focus your mind on the kinds of thoughts that no one would be ashamed of. Fill and focus your thoughts on what is real and genuine and not phony. Fill and focus your thoughts on what inspires the pursuit of a cause that matters–a cause that is worth giving your life to. Fill and focus your thoughts on the value of people. Give them the benefit of the doubt and the security of unconditional love.

When it comes to our lives we constantly face forks in the road. This includes how we are thinking–our mindset. The different forks we choose will make a decided difference in the quality of our journey through life. It also has a huge impact on our companions for the journey. When it comes to the forks of your mindset; will you choose optimism or pessimism? Will you choose to notice what is attractive or focus on what is flawed? Will you choose to think of how to compliment or how to criticize? The forks in the mindset road determine the quality of your journey.

Application- In this challenging season of transition I have to choose my mindset. If I don’t fill and focus my mind on Christ, worry will rush in and fill the vacuum. It is a day by day, often moment by moment, battle to choose the mental fork of truth over “what if.” Fill and focusing my mind with God’s Word keeps me in tune to my mental “turn by turn” directions like the g.p.s. on my phone–turn true, turn noble, turn reputable, turn authentic, turn compelling, turn gracious. The directions are clear and if I follow them I will not only end up at my desired destination, but I will have greater joy in the journey. If I don’t follow the directions I will end up backtracking from a frustrating dead end or recovering from driving off into the ditch. God’s Word is a great tool for directing my mind; I just need to remember to access it every day.

Prayer- Abba, thank you for your Word; my mindset g.p.s. I’m tired of backtracking because I either ignore your Word or fail to access it. Help me trust you to direct my paths and my mindset.