Thursday, June 27, 2013

Talk Tuesday-A Lesson From Psalm 95: Thank Him In The Day of Your Trial

Last night I learned a very valuable lesson from Psalm 95. This was a Word GOD had given in the midst of a very dark and long trial. It begins with praise:

“Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the LORD is the great God, and the great King above all gods. In His hands are the deep places of the earth; the heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.” Psalm 95:1-7

For those of you who don't know, I am a worship leader and a soloist at church. My heart's passion is to sing God's praises and to encourage others to join in unbridled praise to the LORD. I am happiest when I am worshiping with my brothers and sisters in Christ, with my family or by myself with my guitar in a room. I love meditating on His Word. I love to remember His great deeds, the many times He parted the 'Red Sea' in my own life, and to give Him the praise of thanksgiving.

Yet I will be the first to confess that it is much easier to praise and thank God when life is going well. It is hard to 'sing joyfully' when everything seems bleak and hopeless. When your situation seems to be getting worse instead of getting better, and when you cannot see the proverbial 'light at the end of the tunnel', the temptation to shut down spiritually is very great. The temptation to find alternate means of coping becomes even greater. I recently began to experience discouragement that was so great, I started slipping towards spiritual apathy- watching t.v. and reading fiction books so that I could block reality out. I started spending less time with God, and more time in pursuit of earthly pleasures. This lasted about two weeks. A few days ago, a very close friend of mine came to visit. Unbeknownst to her, God used her to snap me back into the reality of who He is. Then last night, as I sat down to meditate on Psalm 95, I realized that it is precisely at this time we MUST remember that GOD alone is our Refuge! Like the Israelites, who passed down through oral tradition, the many miraculous works that the LORD had done on their behalf, we MUST remind ourselves of who God is by thanking Him for the many answered prayers in our own lives. A posture of praise will keep us grounded in Christ.

“Today if you will hear His voice: 'Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, as in the day of trial in the wilderness, when your fathers tested Me; they tried Me, though they saw my work. For forty years I was grieved with that generation, and said, It is a people who go astray in their hearts, and they do not know my ways. So I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest.'” Psalm 95:8-11

LORD, we pray for the grace, strength, courage and fortitude to remember who You are in the midst of the storm. Holy Spirit, bring to the forefront of our minds, the memories of the many things God has done on our behalf in the past. Help us to recall His wondrous works. Lord Jesus, You sit at the right hand of God the Father making constant intercession for us. Help us to be a people of praise and great faith, so that we would not harden our hearts in the days of our own trials, but declare through faith in You, that we are more than conquerors! We ask these things, in the Mighty Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Talk Tuesday-How Do You Hear The Voice of The Lord?

I have often heard Christians say, “God spoke to my heart.” I could remember being confused by this as a much younger Christian, yet as I journeyed with the Lord I began to understand. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me,” John 10:27. “15 If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth,” John 14:15-16. As a young christian, I had a passion for reading the Bible. I would sit and spend hours reading, then silently meditating on what I had read. It was as though some invisible force was connecting my heart to the words, and the words were challenging, shaping, moulding, correcting and transforming my heart. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart,” Hebrews 4:12; “26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you,” John 14:26.

Let me share a personal experience with you. It was my turn to lead worship last Sunday at church. As I was going through the list of songs, I asked the Holy Spirit to help me choose. He brought to mind a hymn, 'Great Is Thy Faithfulness'. I had never personally done that hymn in my worship set before, but I complied. Worship was anointed and sweet. Together as a congregation we sang, “Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father, there is no shadow of turning with Thee. Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not. As Thou has been, Thou forever wilt be.” Now as we got to the chorus, the truth of the words became palpable in the sanctuary, “Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see: All I have needed Thy hand hath provided, Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!” All day I kept humming that song.

Since then, I have continued to experience an ongoing trial. As I woke up this morning, the first thing I heard was the song, echoing in my heart. As I proceeded to do my homework for my course on Spiritual Formation, which I am taking at seminary, I opened up my workbook to today's exercise. We are required to read the entire Book of Lamentations...and there I saw it! “Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness,” Lamentations 3:22-23. Section c) of my workbook states, “The following songs have been inspirational for the people of God throughout past and present generations. As you read (sing) these songs try to discover how they speak into your life today,” (Re-Connect, Spiritual Exercises To Develop Intimacy With GOD by David Sherbino, p.69). Below, in my workbook, was the song, 'Great Is Thy Faithfulness'!

Now some may attribute this to coincidence, but for me, it is the voice of God! The Holy Spirit led me to that hymn. The Holy Spirit began to work its truth in my heart through music, and today, through the reading of the actual scripture. As I sat to do my homework, I stopped in my tracks and stared in amazement at the words before me, 'GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS, LORD UNTO ME!' Now I can continue to walk through my trial with the peace that God's faithfulness will bring a blessed result.

How do you hear the voice of the LORD? How do you know it is He who is speaking, and not another? Please click on the comments link below to share your thoughts with the BGO Community of believers. We love hearing from you!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Talk Tuesday-Our Battle Cry

I have often heard it said that the battle the Lord's. What does this mean? We are called to trust God in every season of our lives, but when the battle is raging, the struggle between faith and fear escalates. In 2 Chronicles 20, the people of Moab, Ammon and Mount Seir come to battle against the people of Judah. King Jehosaphat gathers all the people together to pray and seek the LORD. They begin their petition by acknowledging who God is, recounting what He has done for them and declaring their dependence on Him alone. 

“O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You? 7 Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever? 8 And they dwell in it, and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your name, saying, 9 ‘If disaster comes upon us—sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine—we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.’ 10 And now, here are the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir—whom You would not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them and did not destroy them— 11 here they are, rewarding us by coming to throw us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit. 12 O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You,” 2 Chronicles 20:6-12.  

God's response, communicated through Jahaziel son of Zechariah, is a bold proclamation of protection, favour and victory.“Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s,” 2 Chron. 15; “'You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you,” 2 Chronicles 20:17. 

In the midst of the battle patience, perseverance and faith are required of God's children. Yet, it is the presence of praise and worship that moves God's mighty hand. “Now when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated,” 2 Chron. 20:22.  

How can we trust God when things seem impossible? What are some of the things you do to keep grounded in faith when fear is pounding at the door of your heart? Why do you think praise and worship was important here? Do you find it hard to worship in the midst of the battle?  Please share your thoughts with the BGO community by clicking on the comments link below. We look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Talk Tuesday-The Voice of The Deceiver

This week I was talking to someone who shared a testimony of how her obedience brought the blessing and faithfulness of GOD in her life. Her parting words were, “The only things that matter are obedience and faith.” I began to ponder this and wondered, “Why do we disobey God when we know what He requires of us?”

In the book of 1 Kings, chapters 12 & 13, we meet a broken Israelite kingdom after the death of King Solomon. Ten tribes went with Jeroboam son of Nebat, while Judah and Benjamin remained with Rehoboam, Solomon's son. Jeroboam believed that if the people went to Jerusalem to worship at the Temple, their allegiance would revert to Solomon's son so he built altars of idolatry in Bethel and Dan, placing golden calves upon them telling the people, “Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt,” 1 Kings 12:28. The LORD sent a prophet, 'a man of God', to Bethel to speak against this altar of idolatry. The prophet was given strict instructions by God not to accept the hospitality of anyone from the town, but to prophesy and leave. When the 'man of God' had finished his task, King Jeroboam invited him into his home and offered him a gift. He replied, “Even if you were to give me half your possessions, I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water here. For I was commanded by the word of the Lord: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water or return by the way you came,’” 1 Kings 13:8-9.

“Now there was a certain old prophet living in Bethel whose sons came and told him all that the man of God had done that day,” 1 Kings 13:11. This old prophet went in search of the prophet. “He found him sitting under an oak tree and asked, 'Are you the man of God who came from Judah?' 'I am,' he replied. So the prophet said to him, 'Come home with me and eat.' The man of God said, 'I cannot turn back and go with you, nor can I eat bread or drink water with you in this place.'” 1 Kings 13:14-16. The old prophet responded, “I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the LORD: 'Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.' (But he was lying to him.) So the man of God returned with him and ate and drank in his house,” 1 Kings 13:18-19. “While they were sitting at the table, the word of the Lord came to the old prophet who had brought him back. He cried out to the man of God who had come from Judah, 'This is what the Lord says: You have defied the word of the Lord and have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where he told you not to eat or drink. Therefore your body will not be buried in the tomb of your ancestors,’” 1 Kings 13:20-22.

Why did the first prophet-'the man of God'-reject God's instruction? What caused him to change his mind even after he declined the King's offer? What causes us to disobey God, even after He has directed our paths in the way in which we should walk? Please click on the comments link below to share your thoughts with us at BGO. We look forward to hearing from you and thank you for walking with us! Let us encourage each other in Christ!