Yes Sur

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The word render means to “provide or give”.

This reminds me of a few verses from the Bible:

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:33‭-‬34 ESV

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! – Matthew 7:7‭-‬11 ESV

“Render, Oh God!”

Sometimes we find ourselves with a wrong mindset about our relationship to God and His to us, even in our time of great need. When we want God to “render” for us through our requests “our will to be granted in heaven” this is not from a right mind or a right heart. See, He is master and Lord and He makes the decrees and commands, not us.

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
James 4:3 ESV

“The render is freed by the sur”

The prefix sur means “over and above”.

See, when we address that prefix “sur” and put God “over and above” our lives — when we truly want “His will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, it is then that the “surrender” takes place that opens the floodgates of heaven.

Many would take just this one bold verse in Malachi 3:10 with hopes to use it for their own gain and prosperity, as if they could “bind God by His promise for their own profit” — but let’s see the whole of its context. God is not the means by which men would manipulate a “spiritual” financial transaction for the increase of their own will and purposes and power and honor to be increased upon this world, No!

Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts. “Your words have been hard against me, says the Lord . But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.'” Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.
Malachi 3:10‭-‬18 ESV

Master, Lord, these words when speaking of God and not self — are either heard in the ears of the wise as beautiful to you — or they are beasts as hatred and condemnation in the deaf, blind, fools who inhabit the earth.

The call is not to make ourselves gods and to make God our servant, but to truly lie down in surrender and find ourselves truly sons of God. Because we are either surrendered sons of God or you are sons of another father.

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Matthew 6:24 ESV

And

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
James 4:4‭-‬10 ESV

This I will RENDER unto the Lord – my praise, for He has heard my prayer and granted me a surrendered heart:

I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you. For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.
Psalms 56:12‭-‬13 ESV

What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord , I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. O Lord , I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds. I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord . I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the Lord , in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord !
Psalms 116:12‭-‬19 ESV
http://bible.com/59/psa.116.12-19.ESV

Letter to a friend

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. Some of the traveling teachers recently returned and made me very happy by telling me about your faithfulness and that you are living according to the truth. I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.

Dear friend, you are being faithful to God when you care for the traveling teachers who pass through, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church here of your loving friendship. Please continue providing for such teachers in a manner that pleases God. For they are traveling for the Lord, and they accept nothing from people who are not believers. So we ourselves should support them so that we can be their partners as they teach the truth. I wrote to the church about this, but Diotrephes, who loves to be the leader, refuses to have anything to do with us. When I come, I will report some of the things he is doing and the evil accusations he is making against us. Not only does he refuse to welcome the traveling teachers, he also tells others not to help them. And when they do help, he puts them out of the church.

Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God. Everyone speaks highly of Demetrius, as does the truth itself. We ourselves can say the same for him, and you know we speak the truth.

I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to write it with pen and ink. For I hope to see you soon, and then we will talk face to face. Peace be with you. Your friends here send you their greetings. Please give my personal greetings to each of our friends there.
3 John 1:2‭-‬15 NLT

This letter from John to Gaius is quite loving, quite personal, and quite revealing.

John starts out with a loving compliment and encouragement. He equates following Jesus (“following the truth”) to faithfulness and living according to the truth — an abiding faith that is actively impacting his friend’s daily life.

He then commended his friend for helping strangers who are traveling teachers. He mentions not only that we should support them while they are with us, but to partner with them so they can continue to travel and teach. How many traveling teachers have you or I even encountered? And how many have we helped? We might wonder, how do we know if they are true or false, tricksters or truth bearers?

John contrasts these traveling teachers (unknown missionary evangelists presumably) who are continually trusting God and strangers (humbling themselves), with a man who “lives to be the leader” (a recognizable, charismatic, authoritative kingdom builder presumably) that refuses fellowship (proud and exclusionary).

Don’t the worldly gravitate towards building up one type of leader for themselves, while those truly trusting in God, have a relationship with their unseen but well recognized teacher and don’t need to call anyone teacher (Matthew .

I heard Paul Washer preach on a similar subject some time ago ( link here ), and it still rings true — not just about mega-church celebrities on TV that don’t preach the whole counsel of the Word of God, but those in many grand gatherings within your very own towns!

But even knowing this, John encourages his friend not to let this influence him. He doesn’t tell his friend to be so offended that he makes out his life’s testimony to speak against this false teacher? No, John says,

Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God.

I’ve also seem many who are so distracted and offended by others that their teaching gets stuck in the mud of only standing with a pointed finger talking about others rather than hearing the warnings for themselves and following and doing only what is good not evil. We do not return evil for evil, we do good. Yes, we must remember that as soon as we find our message turning outward, it may be a distraction attempting to hide what needs to be revealed about ourselves not about another.

And Paul mentions that there are more intimate and personal things that He has to share with his friend that are better said in person. I wonder if there is a conversation that would better be had between you and I, friend, face to face? Not far away from each other, but close like friends? Is there something troubling you? Is there a need that needs meet as you travel proclaiming this gospel? Or maybe I’m the traveling teacher and you want to partner with me? Maybe we can walk together for a season and reach many with the gospel of Jesus Christ?

As Paul said to his friend,

I hope to see you soon, and then we will talk face to face. Peace be with you.

And to the enemies of Christ,

When I come, I will report some of the things he is doing and the evil accusations he is making against us. Not only does he refuse to welcome the traveling teachers, he also tells others not to help them. And when they do help, he puts them out of the church.

Out of Gas

First off, my wife is amazing.

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
Proverbs 31:10‭-‬12 NLT

My savior Jesus Christ revealed Himself yet again through my loving wife, who got to be my roadside savior this morning!

————

Remember how in my post yesterday (see here), I mentioned that my car was on empty?

Well guess what happens when you don’t do something about it?

What a lesson about life, when you find yourself so busy running from one place to the other that you forget to refill your own tank.

Yesterday, I was quick to pull over when I thought someone needed help, but I wasn’t so quick to take care of the items I needed to tend to. I didn’t stop and get gas, because I was in a hurry and I forgot.

So now, I’m the one sitting on the side of the road myself, in need of help myself. How often had this same thing happened in different ways?

How many times has a pastor who counsels others about their marriages found that he’s not pouring into His own wife and kids like he should?

How many times have we sat and listened to a friend and tried to help them with what we thought we heard in their words, thinking we had advice for them instead of hearing the conviction that was meant for us?

How many times have we been blind guides, acting as if we are able to lead the blind ourselves, instead of relying on and giving all credit to Christ (who lives in us as we stand in awe that He would use even us).

———–

Last night, Mia and I set a goal for this day that wee would be an extra special blessing to someone in a way that isn’t just part of our normal day. We wanted to brighten up someone’s day intentionally just for the purpose of seeing their smile, their joy, their encouragement. But I started out my day having to interrupt my wonderful wife’s morning with the burdensome task of bringing me has on the side of the interstate. And I sit here in a powerless car that must wait for the source of its power to be refilled.

My prayer isn’t that Mia and I strive today and do some good works under our own power so that we might brag to each other tonight about our filthy rags, no. But my prayer is that God would reveal Himself to someone today through the loving kindness He has poured out in us.

Lord, help us to remember that we are just as reading upon your grace and mercy and live and help as the next. And remind us that much business is not necessarily greatly used. And that being a blessing is sometimes giving someone else an opportunity to be a blessing and to receive pour praise and honor for being an unexpected blessing, especially when it costs them something. Remind us to keep our own tank filled. Remind is to be grateful to those willing to pour into us, and help us to carry your blessing and pour it out in love. Amen.

Bodies and Cars and Love by the Wayside

Ever been driving on a cold, rainy morning — and see a body off the side of the road, face down in the grass, not moving?

I did this morning.

FaceDownGrass

And even as I continued by and watched in my rear view mirror, I knew what I had to do. Even though my fuel gauge was on empty, even though I was going to be late for work, even though my phone was dead and I had no way of calling 911 — so many reasons to let someone else handle it — but I knew that I had to go back.

As I turned the car around and headed back, I wondered to myself, “What am I even going to do if this guy is dead and not just passed out?”

But imagine my surprise when he was surprised by my approach and my loud shout of, “Is everything okay?” Imagine my surprise when what I thought was either a dead body or a passed out drunk — responded alert and quite as much surprised by my unexpected presence in his morning, as I was about his presence in mine.

I then realized that he had been laying on his face, motionless with his right arm (that I thought was beneath him) actually down some type of hole or pipe and he was doing some type of utility work with his hand deep in the ground.

“Sorry, I just wasn’t sure if everything was okay,” I stammered as I stopped short and made it clear to him that I wasn’t approaching as a threat but as a concerned neighbor.

I don’t know if he laughed or exactly what he said, but we both realized the humor of each other’s side of the situation for a moment — we had both for that split moment looked at the situation from how the other was seeing it — him seeing a guy who thought he was about to deal with a body on the side of the road — and me seeing a guy just trying to start his dirty morning work to have a stranger come up from behind and scare him.

I said, “God bless” and headed back on my way to work.

But it got me thinking — how many times do we see metaphorical “dead or hurt bodies along the ditches of this life through which we are walking” and choose to do nothing about it?

And how many times might we think that we’re about to help someone who is in trouble to realize that they are just fine and don’t actually need our help?

Do we even stop to find out?

I’m not saying that to glorify the fact that I stopped this time, because there are many times that not only did I not stop to help my brother or sister in need, I didn’t really care about them because “I had my own things to worry about.”


Let’s look at it from a different angle too…

I spent time with a friend who drives a wrecker early, early this morning for the second Thursday morning in a row where he was picking up a car from the side of the road. Last week it was a vehicle that had flipped and rolled over multiple times. This week it was a vehicle that had been stolen and recovered by the police. In the first case, the occupants of the car wanted and needed help. The occupant of the car this time needed help but definitely didn’t want the help he found by way of the back seat of a police car.

But even though we might see the parallels and connections up to this point, I want to bring out something that Nickey (that’s my friend who drives the wrecker) mentioned while we were riding in that roll back wrecker early this morning.

He said, “Hop, you know how some folks are quick to hug and tell each other they love each other?”

“Yes,” I replied.

He said, “I don’t do that, because I think that the English language does a disservice to that word love. There is only one word for ‘love’ in English, but in Hebrew and Greek and many other languages they have different words to describe the actual thing they are talking about.”

“I understand what you’re saying. People can say ‘love’ and mean all kinds of things in English — passion, intimacy, deep brotherly love, superficial love, like, lust — all kinds of things,” I replied.

He continued, “If I ask you to help me with something and you tell me that you’re too busy, what are you really saying?”

I understood his line of questioning immediately. I answered, “I’m saying that I care more about what I have planned or want to do.”

“And that speaks to what you truly love, right?” Nickey prompted and then quickly mentioned, “You remember when I asked you a few weeks ago about us getting together with our wives for dinner sometime?”

Boom! Bomb dropped in love. Correction accepted. I love this man, this friend, this brother.

Here I thought we were having a Luke 10:25-37, Parable of the Good Samaritan, conversation. And we were passing through that “town” of love, but the “street address” that Nickey was looking for as we rode along in that flatbed wrecker together was John 13:35.

I spoke with my wife this morning. We’ll be doing dinner with Nickey and his wife next week.


 

John 13:34-35 (NLT)

34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

 

Luke 10:25-37 (NLT)

The Most Important Commandment

25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”

27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”

29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Parable of the Good Samaritan

30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.

31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.

33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins,[c] telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’

36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.

37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

His Plan

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies has sworn this oath: “It will all happen as I have planned. It will be as I have decided.
Isaiah 14:24 NLT
http://bible.com/116/isa.14.24.NLT

Everything has already been decided. It was known long ago what each person would be. So there’s no use arguing with God about your destiny.
Ecclesiastes 6:10 NLT
http://bible.com/116/ecc.6.10.NLT

Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.
Isaiah 46:9‭-‬10 NLT
http://bible.com/116/isa.46.9-10.NLT

The Lord does whatever pleases him throughout all heaven and earth, and on the seas and in their depths.
Psalms 135:6 NLT
http://bible.com/116/psa.135.6.NLT

All the people of the earth are nothing compared to him. He does as he pleases among the angels of heaven and among the people of the earth. No one can stop him or say to him, ‘What do you mean by doing these things?’
Daniel 4:35 NLT
http://bible.com/116/dan.4.35.NLT

The Lord has made everything for his own purposes, even the wicked for a day of disaster.
Proverbs 16:4 NLT
http://bible.com/116/pro.16.4.NLT

Who can command things to happen without the Lord’s permission? Does not the Most High send both calamity and good?
Lamentations 3:37‭-‬38 NLT
http://bible.com/116/lam.3.37-38.NLT

I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the Lord , am the one who does these things.
Isaiah 45:7 NLT
http://bible.com/116/isa.45.7.NLT

Look now; I myself am he! There is no other god but me! I am the one who kills and gives life; I am the one who wounds and heals; no one can be rescued from my powerful hand!
Deuteronomy 32:39 NLT
http://bible.com/116/deu.32.39.NLT

But before they were born, before they had done anything good or bad, she received a message from God. (This message shows that God chooses people according to his own purposes; he calls people, but not according to their good or bad works.) She was told, “Your older son will serve your younger son.” In the words of the Scriptures, “I loved Jacob, but I rejected Esau.” Are we saying, then, that God was unfair? Of course not! For God said to Moses, “I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.” So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it. For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, “I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you and to spread my fame throughout the earth.” So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen. Well then, you might say, “Why does God blame people for not responding? Haven’t they simply done what he makes them do?” No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction. He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory.
Romans 9:11‭-‬23 NLT
http://bible.com/116/rom.9.11-23.NLT

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
Ephesians 1:4‭-‬5 NLT
http://bible.com/116/eph.1.4-5.NLT

For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.
Romans 8:29‭-‬30 NLT
http://bible.com/116/rom.8.29-30.NLT

Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.
Ephesians 1:11 NLT
http://bible.com/116/eph.1.11.NLT

For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up.
John 6:44 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.6.44.NLT

For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 1:9 NLT
http://bible.com/116/2ti.1.9.NLT

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Ephesians 2:8‭-‬10 NLT
http://bible.com/116/eph.2.8-10.NLT

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38‭-‬39 NLT
http://bible.com/116/rom.8.38-39.NLT

Comparison and Division

The Word of God is the source of power, not our filthy rags.

Comparing your filthy rags to mine or someone else’s is not only useless for righteousness (because we should only compare ourselves to Christ and be humbled), but it is not a profitable example we want to set for others to follow (comparison, division, outwardly pointed fingers vs self examination, repentance, Christ dependence).

Jesus knew His audience and spoke to their needs, not “about others”. The arrows were pointed at those listener’s hearts and not at the world, and not at those not in attendance to defend themselves.

He didn’t spend His time standing around talking to the people about the Pharisees (or “other people’s sins”) and condemning those not in attendance. He didn’t teach comfort where I am because I can look out and see the errors of others. No!

Outward facing messages are pridefully self serving and self egrandizing instead of humble testimonies of self examination and repentance, and they can be founded upon a foolish, prideful, works based perspective of “we’re doing so much better than them” perspective instead of a humble, “I’m the chemist of sinners” perspective.

When the Pharisees were specifically there and were his audience, he addressed it by speaking what the Pharisees needed to hear, but He didn’t let that distract from the message that mattered when his listeners were the public.

I’ve seen men with good intentions but a lack of understanding about who their audience is — teach rebellious people to hate authority because it tickles their ears — just as often as I’ve heard others teach ceremonial people to stay the course and not stop by the wayside because it tickles their ears as well.

And both are in error because the message is setting people’s eyes upon others instead of upon themselves.

I say these things, because I have seen the error in my own ways in this area.

And because I have been willing to see it in myself and repent, I can clearly see it in others to pray for them and speak to them individually about my testimony as a friend, in hopes of gently bringing them to repentance. I don’t share because I’ve ignored self application in preference for using it as a sword of division and war against my brother.

This Morning’s Praise

Our family devotional this morning is from 1 Thessalonians 3 and is a great encouragement and praise in response to last night’s “personal lament psalm” (click here to read that post) that was shared as part of our small group Wiersbe study’s homework on Psalm 3. When we cry out to the Lord with our troubles and trust in Him for a good night’s rest, we can praise Him in the morning, because He answers us.

Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
2 Thessalonians 3:6‭-‬15 ESV

[Small Group] Lament

Tags

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This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.
Isaiah 48:17 NLT

NOTE: Part of our assignment this week as we finish lesson 1 in the Wiersbe Study on the book of Psalms was to write our own personal “Psalm of Lament”. Considering my general joy in the Lord, and that just this week someone asked me in choir practice if I used to be a cheerleader because I’m always so bubbly and social — this took me outside my comfort zone to dig deeper and come up with an item of lament. But it was great using Psalm 3 as the original example by which I thought about my own life and what could be brought to God deep, challenging, and intimate, crying out to God and trusting Him to answer yet again like He always does.

Oh, Lord,

I see the needs around me,

I see the people crying out for me for help.

I see my responsibilities to my own household and family.

I see the limits of my own abilities.

I do not want your people to suffer.

I do not want to forsake those to whom I might be merciful.

I do not want them to cry out against me,

or to think that we do not care,

or to think that you do not provide for both their and our needs.

I do not want to be a hypocrite who is not willing to sacrifice or to step out in faith and help a neighbor in need,

And I do not want to forsake my family and responsibilities.

I have helped many in the past,

Only to see so many ungrateful,

Only to see them enabled in their foolish squandering and their lazy and selfish ways.

So many have borrowed and never returned or repaid,

And you know that I don’t care about the things or money that is gone,

because you continue to supply,

But I find myself overextended by virtue of either my mercy or my foolishness,

And at times I truly do not know the difference,

Nor do I know whether I am doing more good or harm

– both to them

– and to myself

By my stepping out in faith and loving kindness to show the love of Christ,

Not because it is deserved,

Not because it will be returned,

But purely because the opportunity is there.

Lord, give me wisdom

To not give what is holy to the dogs,

To not think your children dogs,

To not deny crumbs from my table even to the dogs,

And to have all the needs and responsibilities met within my own household and family.

May my treasure and portion be you,

And my eyes be set upon those things heavenly and eternal.

Lord, bless us to be able to give generously,

Discipline us gently to reduce any wasteful spending,

Favor us in all things we do for your honor and glory,

And give us wisdom to know your will as it comes to the needs around us.

You will hear our prayer,

And you will answer,

Oh Lord,

Our shield,

Our comforter,

our teacher,

Our God,

Because you do not forsake your people

who are called by your name,

and who are sealed by your Holy Spirit,

and who are washed in the Blood of the Lamb,

And who trust in you,

And who delight in your law,

And who meditate upon your Word day and night.

You know the hearts of men,

And you examine their secret motives,

Lord, sift through my anxious mind,

Reveal anything in my flesh that is hindering your spirit,

Establish my footsteps that I might walk upright in your will, for your name’s sake,

And restore in me a fully surrendered trust in you alone as the savior and provider for your people,

That you do not require sacrifice and suffering produced through striving,

But that I should remember that:

“The work of God is this: to believe in the one He sent.”

Help me to rest soundly tonight,

knowing that you have even this firmly in hand,

And that I can awake in the morning to rejoice and sing your praises.

Want to see His response? Click here

What a Friend!

After David had finished talking with Saul, he met Jonathan, the king’s son. There was an immediate bond between them, for Jonathan loved David. From that day on Saul kept David with him and wouldn’t let him return home. And Jonathan made a solemn pact with David, because he loved him as he loved himself. Jonathan sealed the pact by taking off his robe and giving it to David, together with his tunic, sword, bow, and belt.
1 Samuel 18:1‭-‬4 NLT

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
John 13:34‭-‬35 NLT

This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.
1 John 4:10‭-‬11 NLT

We can see how Jonathan in 1 Samuel chapter 18-20 loved David dearly and even intervened on David’s behalf with his father. What friendship and love we can see here!

And even moreso, what friendship and love we can see in Jesus doing the same, even greater, for us!

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 15:13 NLT

“I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd. “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”
John 10:14‭-‬18 NLT

So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
Hebrews 4:14‭-‬16 NLT

Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” ) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:33‭-‬39 NLT

Faith not Forecast

Worried about the forecast, or trusting that He has supplied and sealed those who are sent?

David wasn’t listening to the Goliath forecast.

Caleb wasn’t concerned in his receiving the land with the greatest forecast for himself.

But they knew that the Lord was with them. They might say, “Let the others have their good forecasts and human efforts, I have the Lord who will faithfully see me through every trial and circumstance! I have found my greatest treasure and it isn’t in the land, or even in this life, but in the Lord!”

David’s perspective:

“Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!” “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.” But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” Saul finally consented. “All right, go ahead,” he said. “And may the Lord be with you!”
1 Samuel 17:32‭-‬37 NLT

Caleb’s perspective:

https://www.gotquestions.org/Joshua-and-Caleb.html

Do you trust in the Lord?

Do you believe that He has set you apart with a purpose, that He is the one that has supplied you, that He has sealed you with His Holy Spirit, and that He has sent you to do His will on earth as it is in heaven?

Don’t listen to the whispering lies of the enemy — who wants to cut you off from the great and eternal things the Lord has for you!

Don’t let fear and doubt and distractions of this world deter you from your purpose.

See the forecast of your trials ahead as opportunity for an even greater testimony of the peace, love, joy, and patience that flows from the Lord.

He has won the victory!

Don’t run your life, your ministry, like a well thought out business based only on verifiable forecasts! Yes, that can testify to your own human skills, knowledge, and puffery. But good business skills alone don’t demonstrate faith. Don’t go where you know you can be profitable and paid and configurable by your own skills, but step out in faith and let God show Himself faithful.

I’m not saying to test God for the sake of testing Him, No! But I am saying that it is only by faith that we can please God. Not faith in ourselves and pour own abilities, but faith in Him.

And Caleb wasn’t some great chess player, thinking to himself, “If I prove that I’m willing to trust the Lord, He will have to bless me.” No! He trusted the Lord, He valued the Lord, He sought first the Lord wholeheartedly in faithful abandon instead of through reasonable consideration of the “forecast” — and “all these things were added to him”.

See how the Lord responds to Moses (the one whom God some to “face to face”) when Moses was praying (interceding on behalf of the people) — the Lord honors Caleb (and we know that He resists the proud and honors the contrite of heart):

“Please, Lord, prove that your power is as great as you have claimed. For you said, ‘The Lord is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. But he does not excuse the guilty. He lays the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations.’ In keeping with your magnificent, unfailing love, please pardon the sins of this people, just as you have forgiven them ever since they left Egypt.” Then the Lord said, “I will pardon them as you have requested. But as surely as I live, and as surely as the earth is filled with the Lord ’s glory, not one of these people will ever enter that land. They have all seen my glorious presence and the miraculous signs I performed both in Egypt and in the wilderness, but again and again they have tested me by refusing to listen to my voice. They will never even see the land I swore to give their ancestors. None of those who have treated me with contempt will ever see it. But my servant Caleb has a different attitude than the others have. He has remained loyal to me, so I will bring him into the land he explored. His descendants will possess their full share of that land.
Numbers 14:17‭-‬24 NLT