Transitions In Life: God Gives Us the Foundation for Change

My tomorrow and your tomorrows are in the hands of God. We make our requests before Him and we trust our tomorrows to His sovereignty. —R. C. Sproul

Change is a constant in our life. Many times we don’t even recognize that change has happened until after the fact. Most changes are in accordance and adaptation to the situation we are in. Thus, why we often don’t recognize change when it happens.

Other more drastic change and transition in our life can often upset or cause us to question what is going on and why it is happening. These changes can be jobs, housing, location, health, etc. Often these kinds of changes can be scary, eventful, labor intensive, and emotionally draining.

Currently my wife and I are going through some significant changes in life. Because of the health issues I am now experiencing we have made some decisions that to some around us seem extreme. Though extreme we deem them necessary and needed to position ourselves in place where God can use us in the best way possible.

Two things that we are in the process of doing are these. One, I am currently searching for a new job. I love being self employed and doing what I do but it has become necessary for me to find something different. I need something where I am working less hours and can go put in my time and come home without the worries of owning your own business. Secondly, we have decided to sell our house and move to a townhome community. It has become quite obvious that I can no longer keep up with some of the chores that are necessary to being a home owner.

Change. I don’t like to admit that I have come to a point where I can no longer do the things I used to. I have always been able to work whatever job I chose and do pretty much any activity I wished. I now struggle just to keep up with basic things around the house like keeping the lawn mowed, shoveling  snow, and basic maintenance. My environment and responsibilities are changing.

So what does our future hold. I am not sure but I am sure of this. My God is in control of all things and His sovereignty will  reign supreme in my life. I love how Paul talked to Timothy about change and transition in life. He said it like this,

“Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit through the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”  2 Timothy 1:13-14 (CSB)

Timothy was in a time of transition. He had been Paul’s bright young helper; soon he would be on his own as leader of a church in a difficult environment. Although his responsibilities were changing, Timothy was not without help. He had everything he needed to face the future if he would hold on tightly to the Lord’s resources.

As I face difficult transitions, I to can follow Paul’s advice to Timothy and look back at my experiences. I have everything I need in the resources God has given me through the foundation of faith built on His Word. His Holy Spirit lives in me and will guide, direct, and strengthen me through transition and change.

My prayer is that if you are facing change and transition that seems difficult lean on the foundation of faith that God has given you through power of His Word and sovereignty of His grace. Also, it doesn’t hurt to lean on the Holy Spirit power that is within you.

“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, Is laid for for your faith in His excellent Word! What more can He say than to you He hath said, To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled.” –John Rippon

 

I’m Back! But Where Have I Been? Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus!!

“Trust in the Lord forever, because in the Lord, the Lord himself, is an everlasting rock!” Isaiah 26:4 (CSB) 

You may have noticed that I have been absent from writing here on the “Joyful Persistence” blog during the last few months. My explanation is both simple and complicated. You see I have been dealing with some health issues pertaining to my constant battle with PTSD and the dizzy spells I still experience on a regular basis.

The good news is I am doing ok. Every day is a new battle but with the amazing God that has my back things are good. He has provided me with an excellent support group that includes my amazing and beautiful wife Cheryl, my super service dog Olivia, family, friends, doctors and various other people.

Each day I am thankful that this life here on earth is only a temporary journey. With all of its fragility things can change in an instant. That is basically what has happened to  me these last few months. Many things have changed in an instant. Suddenly I can’t do things that used to come easily. I am going through another career change. Physically and mentally I cannot do things I used to and I must constantly adjust to these new challenges.

As a kid in a little Baptist church in Belgrade, MT we often sing a hymn that has become a constant reminder of my Savior who never changes and always has His hand of protection and guidance on me. “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus”. Take some time and meditate on these words from this timeless hymn:

'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His word;
Just to rest upon His promise, Just to know "Thus saith the Lord"

O how sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to trust His cleansing blood;
Just in simple faith to plunge me 'Neath the healing, cleansing 
flood!

Yes, 'tis sweet to trust in Jesus, Just from sin and self to 
cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking Life and rest, and joy and peace.

I'm so glad I learned to trust Him, Precious Jesus, Savior, 
Friend;
And I know that He is with me, Will be with me to the end.

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I've proved Him o'er and o'er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus? O for grace to trust Him more!

 

“Praying in the Spirit”: Excerpts from Francis Chan at the BCP&L

“Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:18 (CSB)

We have to pray for all the saints. The entire body of Christ. Each and every church. The brothers and sisters that sit next to you or are scattered abroad throughout the whole earth. Often we lack kingdom mindedness and just pray for me, me, me!

“MAKE SUPPLICATION FOR ALL THE SAINTS”IMG_2784

It can feel impossible to lead people. We need to stop comparing and start praying for each other.

We should tremble at God’s Word when it says, “Stay alert with all perseverance.” “A person should think of us in this way: as servants of Christ and managers of the mysteries of God.” 1 Corinthians 4:1 (CSB) Are we still amazed by the mystery of God being manifested through us?

Finally, come on guys. FINALLY! Get with it. Lets do this. Be strong. Use God’s strength. In our flesh we are useless. In the Spirit we can be dangerously powerful. Power is gained by praying in the Spirit.

“Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength.” Ephesians 6:10 (CSB)

“Walking By the Spirit”: Excerpts from Kevin DeYoung at the BCP&L

“I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”  Galatians 5:16-18 (CSB)

We all have desires that we are not to pursue and do. In order to over come these desires we must utilize the work of the Spirit in our lives. We are to, walk by the Spirit, be led by the Spirit, live by the Spirit, and keep in step with the Spirit.

Our personality type is not an excuse for failing in this endeavor. And how do we know we are walking by the Spirit? Our actions will be marked by the fruit of the Spirit. If not those action will be marked by the things of the flesh.

We are warned about the flesh life. You do not see God unless you are growing in holiness. Good works by believers can be done even if they are not perfect. True Christians do not give up on righteousness. True believers don’t keep on sinning.

The Spirit helps us by showing us five things:        IMG_2786

  1. The Spirit shows us the nature of sin. Our morals reflect what we believe about sin.
  2. The Spirit shows us the origin of sin. Sin is not a little thing. It is what the Devil does. Do you practice righteousness or sin? When we sin we are only continuing the Devil’s work.
  3. The Spirit shows us the person of Christ. We need to know Christ and what He does. Be who you are in Christ. Grow in to who you are. You will get there.
  4. The Spirit shows us the work of Christ. The Devil is for sin. Christ is for salvation.
  5. The Spirit shows us the new birth. The giving of the seed. A new nature, principle, and power is at work to transform us. You are not the same person you were.

Give people hard truths and give them hope. Make them know what is at stake. Warning people of great sin is a sign of great love!

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25 (CSB)

“Seeking the Spirit”–Excerpts from Pastor John Piper at the BCP&L

“you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”1 Peter 4:14 (CSB)

In times of difficulty and trial will I turn against God in anger or praise Him with joy. In this hour the critical question on our mind always becomes, “Where is God?”

Seven things to remember that the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God does.

  1. He is the Spirit of truth and He will bring to mind what ever you need for theIMG_2779 2 time. He will give you the measure of truth that you need to be faithful.
  2. The goal of the Spirit is to bring and to expose the beauty of Jesus Christ.
  3. The Spirit rests upon us to sustain the love of Christ.
  4. He causes us to feel that the glory we are losing isn’t worth keeping. The glory that we are gaining is worth infinitely more. A taste of eternal glory will come.
  5. In the hour of doubt the Spirit will give you preservation from faith destroying doubt.
  6. The Spirit will bring to mind the things to say to those around you. If you need to say nothing that will be His prompting.
  7. In your hour of trial the Spirit will give you Himself, the Father, and the Son.

Be filled with the Spirit. God wants you to be.

Meditate on what God has said in His Spirit filled scriptures. Believe what you hear and read in the word. Really believe it! Hold Fast in obedience to what you have heard and believed. In all your meditating, believing, and holding fast, desire all that God is for you. Thirst for God.

Prayer: Lord give me a deeper relationship with the Spirit.

“And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless living, but be filled by the Spirit” Ephesians 5:18 (CSB)

Bethlehem Conference for Pastors and Leaders: Olivia, Riddley, and I

Tomorrow Olivia, Riddley, and I will be heading to Minneapolis on the annual trek to the Bethlehem Conference for Pastors and Leaders. It will be my 13th year in a row. I am always excited about what God will do as a result of these three days.

IMG_2769This years speakers include Francis Chan, Kevin DeYoung, Miguel Nunez, Sam Storms, Jason Meyer, and of course John Piper. The theme is, “Gospel Power: The Christ-Exalting Work of the Holy Spirit.”

As usual it will be deep in spiritual growth, worship, networking, and learning how we all work together for the gospel to be spread with a joy and passion for all people.  I will be writing here on my blog three times during the conference. Tomorrow night, Tuesday afternoon, and Tuesday night. Thursday after I return home I will give a summary blog of the conference.

In the meantime please pray for safe travels, an open and soft heart to what the Holy Spirit has for me, and a refreshing time of worship and fellowship with like minded believers. AMEN!!

God’s Word in Our Hearts Will Guide Us Through This World of Strife

“Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams that bears its fruit in its season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers”.                      –Psalms 1:2-3 (CSB)

The current state of our world is in constant upheaval. Fighting, sexual perversion and harassment, world powers taunting each other, folks on Twitter and Facebook toying with each others feelings and desires, churches and church members doing whatever they can to one up each other. Its crazy, its disturbing, its disgusting, but most of all its blowing our faith to pieces.

We must all take a strong look at ourselves and stabilize our foundation. In some cases we will need to rebuild our foundation. The foundation of our faith. The foundation that puts Jesus Christ as the cornerstone and keep Him there.

How can this be done? One very simple answer. By relearning, or in some cases just learning, how to follow God by meditating on His Word. Its hard work but it will be worth it for the peace, joy, and understanding that comes from knowing the Bible. Spend time reading the Bible and thinking about what you have reaIMG_2737d. It will cause you to ask yourself tough questions in regard to how you are living your life. It will reveal how you should change and live as God wants you to live. Knowing and thinking about God’s Word is the first step toward applying its principles to your everyday life. In order to rebuild and shore up the foundation and be able to follow God more closely you must know what the Bible says.

The more we know God’s Word the more resources we will have at our disposal to make wise, Biblical decisions and walk in a manner worthy of His calling. The more we come delighting in obedience to God and the Bible the more peace and joy we will experience in our lives.

Trust me there will be days of failure and difficulty but when you know God’s Word those days will be much easier to navigate. When we apply God’s wisdom to those difficulties the result will be good fruit. The fruit of the joy and peace that comes from knowing Jesus Christ.

Just as a tree soaks up water and bears much fruit, we are to soak up God’s Word. When we soak it up and apply it to our lives then we will produce actions and attitudes that honor God and can be world changing.

“I rejoice in the way revealed by your decrees as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and think about your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” –Psalms 119:14-16 (CSB)