Category Archives: Monthly thoughts

Cast your care on Him

The world searches for power in greater strength.
God demonstrates that greater power is found only in weakness.

The world searches for life through abundance.
God promises His abundant grace for greater life.

The world searches for satisfaction in more things.
God offers satisfaction only in Himself.

The world searches for significance in personal potential.
God confirms that significance is never found apart from Him.

For what are you searching? What are your hopes and dreams?

There is a heart-felt desire, a desperate need, common in the hearts and lives of all human beings. This desire, this need, is correctly identified as a search for strength because humans are weak. It is a search for abundance, because you are inherently needy. It is a search for satisfaction because you realize you are not whole. And this desire is a search for significance, because your battle against personal insignificance never ends.

What so few people realize is this: all of the things for which you seek is merely a search for God.

The Apostle Peter wrote,
God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time (1 Peter 5.5-6)

This is so antithetical to worldly, human reasoning as to be laughable. But the Word of God is clear: you must be reduced to the point of submission under God’s infinitely
powerful hand so that He, personally, may raise you up at just the right time.

You can’t do it without Him.

In fact, Jesus said, “…apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15.5)

You can’t do anything without Him. You can’t.

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Time to tremble

These are trying days, days of tribulation and distress, of violence and uncertainty. The people of the world are in great turmoil, the very ground quakes, and the economies of nations continue to fail. What do we do and where do we turn?

We need the courage to tremble.

I discovered a website by a New Zealander blogger,  couragetotremble.wordpress.com. The name intrigued me: Courage to Tremble.

The scripture she quotes is from Isaiah 66…

This is what the LORD says:
“Heaven is My throne,
and the earth is My footstool. Where is the house you will build for Me?
Where will My resting place be?
Has not My hand made all these things,
and so they came into being?”
declares the LORD.
“These are the ones I look on with favor:
those who are humble and contrite in spirit,
and who tremble at My word. (Isaiah 66.1-2)

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God is our refuge and strength

As tension, protests and violence escalate in the Middle East, our natural response is to cower in fear. Turmoil, whether international or personal, will often have an unsettling effect on the soul but the response of our heart is dependent on the foundation of our hope.

Thousands of years ago, David’s words offered assurance for us today, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…” (Psalm 46.1-2a)

The news from the Middle East is troublesome. Oftentimes, news in this country is difficult to understand. Perhaps, in your personal life, you have received news that is especially worrisome. But let your hope and strength be built on the personal God who offers His personal guarantee that He is our shelter in every storm of life and He is our power when we are weak.

Yes, it’s true that, “The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble!” But there is a God whose, “…voice thunders, and the earth melts!” (Psalm 46.6 NLT)

“The LORD of hosts is with us…” (Psalm 46.7a) You are never alone.

Because God is God and He is still on His throne; because He shelters us and gives us strength; because He has a complete and unalterable love for you, then trust Him.

“Be still [relax, stop striving] and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46.10

He will be exalted among the nations. There is no other option.

God has given us a remedy for all fears for all time: Himself.

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How important is Jesus Christ to me?

According to a Gallup poll taken this year, “54 percent of Americans say religion is ‘very important’ in their lives, down slightly from the past two decades. Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans who say religion is ‘not very important’ continues to edge upward and is currently at 20 percent…Today, 61 percent report church or synagogue membership…the lowest in Gallup’s history of asking the question since 1937.” (Nathan Black, christianpost.com)

Are you surprised at those findings? I’m not. The decline in interest in “religion” parallels what I see in many people as a decline in their commitment to Jesus Christ. And the decline in personal commitment to Jesus Christ coincides with the moral decline in this country.

The Christian faith is becoming obsolete before our eyes simply because that faith does not affect our words and actions.

It is critically important that you answer this question for yourself: “How important is Jesus Christ to me?”

Your life will reflect how important He really is to you.

Are you living your life in such a way that unbelievers and nominal believers would really hunger to know Him?

Is your life an example of what it means to love and to forgive? Or do others see you angry with your neighbor, slanderous in your speech, hateful in your actions?

Please read this and take it seriously: your life reflects your “version” of the Jesus you claim.

-If Jesus Christ is alive and well and active in your life, then the world will see love, forgiveness, support, caring, compassion – they will see Jesus!

-If Jesus Christ is only a concept that you have redefined to satisfy your own selfishness, then the world will see anger, hatred, unforgiveness, back-biting – but they will NOT see the real Jesus. Why in the world should anyone hunger after a fleshly, secular, hell-bent, so-called faith such as that?

If Jesus is real in your life and the life of St. Paul’s, people will be drawn here because they will be drawn to Him.

If Jesus is not real in YOUR life, then you will only succeed in turning others away from Him.

That is the choice of Christians and the Christian Church today.

That is your choice.

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He calls you by name

The gospels of Matthew and Luke record the events of angels sent to prepare certain people for the birth of Jesus.

In Luke 1.13, “…the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard…”

In verse 30, “The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.”

In Matthew 1.20, “…an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

There are two common elements in each of these verses, two components that the Lord encourages us to learn throughout the Bible.

The Lord wants you to understand that (1) you should not be afraid and that (2) He knows you by name. Both of these points are made in Isaiah 43…

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine. (Isaiah 43.1)

The Lord knows you personally, thoroughly and He calls you by your name. He has not forgotten you and you are never ignored. His eyes are forever on you. Therefore, the sovereign God of the universe, is overseeing your life at this very moment. Unless you have deliberately sought to live outside of His perfect will, in sin, you have no reason to be afraid. God loves you; He has redeemed you through His Son; He calls you by name; and, if you have trusted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you belong to Him.

May the knowledge of His presence in your life through Jesus Christ bring you complete peace in every area of your life.

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Your path, your destination

We are all on a journey in life, approaching a destination. For each person, the destination reached will fit the path chosen.

In other words, you choose your path in life and that path will take you exactly where it leads. It’s utterly foolish to think that you can walk a path of godlessness, selfishness and deceit, and end up at a destination marked with godliness, love and truth.

A hellish life will not lead to heavenly rewards.

The Psalmist writes …

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139.23-24)

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A new day with God

As I awoke this morning, I saw a new day dawning, the beginning of a new day. Each day that you and I see is a new day, a gift of God.

There are questions that often appear in our minds. These questions, though sometimes fleeting, must be asked: “Who am I” and “what am I supposed to be doing?”

The answers to those questions will always, always point to the Lord our God. He is our beginning and our end; He is our Creator and Sustainer; and He is our life.

Maybe you are facing difficulties, pain and fears. The devil would like nothing better than to steal your peace, to reroute your faith, to negate your witness and to destroy your life.

In C. S. Lewis’ fictional classic, The Screwtape Letters, we read the words of the demon, Wormwood, sharing insight with his nephew, Screwtape. (In the following paragraph, “Enemy” = God and “vermin” = people.) …

Of course I know that the Enemy also wants to detach men from themselves, but in a different way. Remember always, that He really likes the little vermin, and sets an absurd value on the distinctness of every one of them. When He talks of their losing their selves, He only means abandoning the clamour of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality, and boasts (I am afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever.

God loves you. Don’t let any enemy, whether the world system, the flesh (including other people), or the demons, convince you otherwise.

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Consider the outflow

At the time of this writing, the NC Outer Banks are being battered by the waves and wind of an approaching Hurricane Earl. I do hope and pray the damage will be minimal. We have all seen pictures illustrating the devastating effects of such a terrible force of nature. The power released in a hurricane is 200 times the electrical generating power of the entire world. One scientist estimates that a hurricane can release power equivalent to more than 11,000 Hiroshima nuclear bombs (Manuel Garcia, Jr.).

It’s hard to imagine anything on earth more powerful than that. But there is power greater than a thousand hurricanes, a million hurricanes, greater than an infinite number of hurricanes … and that power is inside you.

Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water (John 7.38).’”

The phrase, “rivers of living water,” might cause one to envision a relaxed, pastoral scene with a healthy stream of water moving quietly through the countryside between flower-laced river banks. That’s certainly a nice thought bringing a sense of peace to a troubled soul. But the “rivers of living water” Jesus referred to is the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit moves, He most often does so very quietly, bringing little attention to Himself, but He moves in universe-transforming power.

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Live life having courage

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowd. After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14.22-27 NIV)

In that last verse, Jesus literally said, “Be having courage; I Am; be not fearing.”

In these few words spoken to the disciples, the Lord Jesus speaks to us today. His faith-filled Word breathes new life into dying hope; imbues hearts with encouragement; and bolsters resolve even in the face of overwhelming odds.

Jesus Christ is saying to you today, “Live life having courage.” Live your life with an attitude of confidence. Walk, talk and live with your heart filled with cheer, joy, gladness, and rejoicing.

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A Holy Discontentment

I’m praying you will experience a holy discontentment. I’m not praying that you would experience general discontentment. There’s enough of that already. Dissatisfaction and unhappiness is a way of life as we struggle daily with people and circumstances. In fact, I want you to experience a crisis of faith, an awareness that you are at a crossroads of life. At that crossroads, I pray that you will have a revelation, realizing your utter dissatisfaction with the world’s meager offerings and your desperate need of God’s presence in your life.

King Solomon had everything the world had to offer and which every worldly person seeks for today: wealth, power and fame. Solomon ruled Israel for forty years and each year he received twenty-five tons of gold plus other revenue from merchants and kings. He lived lavishly, drinking from vessels of pure gold – silver was apparently too cheap for his tastes. His harem included 700 wives and 300 concubines. He had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen. People the world over sought him out because of the wisdom God had placed in his heart. Even the Queen of Sheba paid Solomon a visit to test his famed wisdom.

With all of this Solomon was not a contented man. His wives led him into idolatry and his kingdom was stripped away after his death. Before he died, Solomon evaluated his life and he came to the conclusion that all he had sought after, all the wealth he had amassed, all the status he had attained was futile, pointless, and useless. (Ecclesiastes 1.2)

Paul wrote in 2 Timothy that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3.16). The story of Solomon is an extreme example of the extremes we humans can be led to if the world is our heart’s goal.

But I’m praying for you that you would experience a holy discontentment. A holy discontentment would involve a general dissatisfaction with the world and a holy yearning for God.

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