Out of Tight Places

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    Do you ever find yourself in tight places?  At times it seems like the walls are closing in.  We feel restricted and limited by the obstacles in our path.  We long for relief.  This well known song reminds us which way to turn.  “I must tell Jesus.  I must tell Jesus.  I can not bear these burdens alone.  I must tell Jesus.  I must tell Jesus.  Jesus can help me.  Jesus alone.” 

Psalms 62:8 encourages us to share our hurts, disappointments, and sorrows with the One who loves and knows us best.  “Trust in him at all times, O people pour out your hearts to him.” As complex and remarkable human beings our needs are great.  We need safety, security, and a shelter in the time of storm? “God is our refuge and strength a tested help in times of trouble.”  Psalms 46:1   Sometimes we have real trouble with a capital T.  Whether its a lack of money, health, or spiritual maturity God is faithful to bring me from my small, confining space to a place far bigger than I could dream. “He brought me out into a spacious place.” Psalms 18:19  When I can’t get it together there is One who will help me. “God has rescued me from all my trouble, and triumphed over my enemies.”  Psalms 54:7  When I am laid low by illness or heartache, God gives the needed grace to sustain both body and spirit.  “He nurses them when they are sick, and soothes their pains and worries.”  Psalms 41:3   Sometimes our mind becomes troubled and we seek the answers that will set us right once more.  “In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free.”  Psalms 118:5

Friends, there is One who is both the foundation of life and the anchor for our soul.  The Lord is a mighty Rock.  When we build our life upon His strength we will not need any other power.  “Yes, he alone is my Rock, my rescuer, defense and fortress.  Why then should I be tense with fear when troubles come?”  Psalms 62:2   As a believer, we come to a decision time.  Will you join me in saying, “I follow close behind you, protected by your strong right arm”?  Psalms 63:8   So when you find you are between a rock and a hard place remember Jesus is the eternal, indestructible Rock of our Salvation.
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Forever Changed

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    What is it that really counts in life?  As believers in Jesus Christ we are challenged to make this discovery when we take “the newness test”.  II Corinthians 5:17 explains, “When someone becomes a Christian he becomes a brand new person inside.  He is not the same anymore.  A new life has begun.”

Are you in the process of becoming new through and through?  Every area of our personality, thinking, or lifestyle should be open to a major overhaul.  Isn’t it time to ask if we have been forever changed?   Colossians 3:10 tells us what that change looks like.  “You are living a brand new kind of life that is continually learning more and more of what is right, and trying constantly to be more and more like Christ who created this new life within you.” Being empowered by Christ from start to finish rules out trying to gain God’s favor through being a good person and doing good works.  But rather we willingly ask that Jesus live His life through us.  Becoming brand new is not an improvement program but people radically transformed in every area of living.

As  new creations we say goodbye to the old way of living life and embrace a truly startling reversal from how we used to live.  This is the challenge of Christ’s message.  “If you have really heard his voice and learned from him the truths concerning himself, then throw off your old evil nature.  Now your constantly changing for the better.  Yes, you must be a new and different person, holy and good. Clothe yourself with this new nature.”  Ephesians 4:21 Where once we lied, stole, used bad language, or vented our anger on others, we now tell the truth, do honest work, and use our words to build up those around us.  We enjoy displaying kindness and true compassion for the hurting.  We are committed to a life of forgiving, first ourselves, then the people we know.  When we imitate Christ love guides our life.

As a new creation in Christ we are renewed, restored, and reborn into God’s family.  Through the beauty of a renewed mind and heart we are forever changed.  Friends, does your life show God’s transformation?  As we join together with believers all around the world, may you be one that discovers a life that truly counts.
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A Raging Fire

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    “The great need of the world today is the spiritual power necessary for the overthrow of evil.”  William Bryan   This is a great concern to us as believers.  So why are we not afraid of evil?  Instead of turning in repulsion and disgust we tend to steel ourselves against the onslaught as if we could just toughen up to the evil.  Friends, evil destroys and yet countless individuals, especially our youth, flock to movies, concerts, read books, and watch tv shows that exalt evil.  Is it any surprise that the moral fiber of our nation is being dramatically eroded?  John Geikie shares this vital insight.  “Our character is but the stamp on our souls of the free choices of good and evil we have made through life.”   III John:11 reminds us of our goal as believers.  “Follow only what is good.  Remember that those who do what is right prove that they are God’s children, and those who continue in evil prove that they are far from God.”

    We desperately need an effective strategy to combat evil.  This begins through a knowledge of the reality and ever present force of evil.  Evil is defined as that which is wrong according to our God-given conscience.  It is also corruption, immorality, destruction and demonic.  Satan and his demons preside over a kingdom so insidious, deceptive and treacherous that words can not accurately portray the sorrow and misery they pour upon mankind.  Whatever power the enemy exerts over us cannot dim the hope in our great champion Jesus Christ, who has already conquered sin, death, and evil.  Jesus Christ, the supreme victor, has subdued the world and all its darkness. “In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” John 16:33  No matter how deep the trial or struggle, God’s Word declares, “Thou art my hope in the day of evil.”  Jeremiah 17:17 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”  Psalms 23:4

    We can no longer dismiss the evil that is consuming our nation, our world.  It is a raging fire that devours everyone in its path.  We would do well to remember these words of Martin Luther King Jr, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” “Hate what is wrong, stand on the side of the good.”  Romans 12:9   Dear Christian, Jesus is asking us to become the world’s salt and light before it is too late.  Our godly lives in motion are the spiritual power necessary for the overthrow of evil.

Help For Today

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    In our constantly changing world we long for security and wonder just who we can count on.  This is the perfect place to discover that God alone is our stability and offers the wisdom to live successfully.  “For the reverence and fear of God are basic to all wisdom.   Knowing God results in every other kind of understanding.” Proverbs 9:10  “For all God’s words are right and everything he does is worthy of our trust.”  Psalms 33:4

    Whether we are agnostic, a seeker, or a believer in Christ, God’s word remains the absolute truth.  He has provided wonderful universal principles that work for everyone.  If we apply these principles we will be successful.  For example, “A soft answer turns away wrath but harsh words cause quarrels.”  Proverbs 15:1  Harsh words may stir up many hidden feelings of resentment and hurt.  When kindness is applied to a wound it heals quickly.  Try it friends, it really works. 

    Another worthwhile illustration is Proverbs 22:3 “A prudent man foresees the difficulties ahead and prepares for them, the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.”  Looking back we often wish we had carefully considered before acting.  Lets examine Proverbs 23:4,5 “Don’t weary yourself trying to get rich.  Why waste your time?  For riches can disappear as though they had the wings of a bird.” Because our human resources are limited we must carefully choose our priorities and invest in the activities that will truly matter.  Next, have you have found that taking instruction is a great challenge?  “Don’t refuse to accept criticism, get all the help you can.”  Proverbs 10:17   God’s word teaches us that when we let others help us we will prosper and find the needed resources to accomplish our goals.

    We find that universal principles are amazingly practical and will cause us to be grateful we took the time to listen.  However, it often seems that our biggest difficulties lie with the things we say to each other. “Steer clear of foolish discussions which lead people into the sin of anger with each other.”  2 Timothy 2:16  “Keep these thoughts ever in mind; let them penetrate deep within your heart, for they will mean real life for you, and radiant health.” Proverbs 4:21,22   Friends, allow God to establish your life upon his powerful truths for they will stand the test of time.