Sunday, May 31, 2020

Psalm 13 (Summer Playlist Series)

Today we are looking at Psalm 13.  My pastor is leading us through what he is calling our summer playlist series.  The book of Psalms is a collection of poetry and music, thus the summer playlist title.

The following are my Bible study notes based on my pastor's message.

You are invited to watch, listen, and worship with us here.

We are all fellow strugglers.  We all need God and we need each other for encouragement.  Psalm 13 was written by King David during one of his lowest points in life.  David had been on the run from King Saul for 12 years.  David loved God but hated his circumstances.  Four times within the first few verses, David cried to to God, asking God how long he would have to endure his circumstances.

In 6 short verses, David transitioned from deep despair into a spirit of worship.  Let's take a look at the full chapter.
A Prayer for Help in Trouble

How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?

How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
And my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.
But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.

I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.
In the first 2 verses, David is complaining..
In verses 3 and 4, David is praying.
In verses 5 and 6, David is praising.

What is your posture before God right now?  Are you complaining, praying, or praising?

Let's look back at verses 1 and 2.  David feels abandoned, as if God has forgotten him.  Do you sometimes feel like David does in these first two verses?  I think there are times in our lives when we all feel like this, but the Bible tells us that God numbers every hair on our heads and that we are more valuable to Him than sparrows.  He keeps track of all our sorrows, collects our tears in a bottle, and records each one in His book.  He writes our names on the palms of His hands.
Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. - Luke 12:7

You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book. - Psalm 56:8
Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;  Your walls are continually before Me. - Isaiah 49:16
Do you suppose David felt resentful because of his harsh circumstances?  Do you sometimes feel resentful.  I know I sometimes do, but let's take courage as we move on to verse 3.

In verse 3, David stopped complaining and really began to pray to God.  This is when the mood of this chapter changes.  David prays for God to take notice of his circumstances.  David acknowledges his personal connection with God when he calls him, "MY God."

David was alone.  Isolation robs us of our right perspective.

In verses 5 and 5, David is trusting, rejoicing, and singing.  His circumstances have not changed, but His heart has changed.  David is still alone and he is still hiding from King Saul, but instead of complaining and crying out in despair, David has chosen to trust, rejoice, and sing in praise to God.  David decides to glorify God in his circumstances.

We are not victims in this life.  We are victorious in Christ Jesus.

How do we apply Psalm 13 to our lives?

1.  Recognize that pain in life is unavoidable, but don't miss the purpose.  Pain will drive you to something.  Does your pain drive you to Netflix binges, pills, alcohol, pornography, isolation?

Pain should drive you straight to God.  God can use pain to grow us spiritually and to prepare us for future assignments.  God can turn our pain into a platform for service.
It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply. - A.W. Tozer
2.  In our worst of times, believe that God is always good.  God will never separate us from his love.  We can't avoid pain, but we also can't run out of God's grace.

Jesus experienced hardship and endured separation from God so that we don't have to.  There is a day coming when Jesus will redeem everything.
And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. - Revelation 21:4

God changed David's heart.  Is God changing your heart today?  

How long until you trust God?

How long will you live in rebellion?

How long until you surrender to Him?

Learn more about how to fully surrender to God through Jesus Christ here.

Read all posts in this series here


Sunday, May 24, 2020

Psalm 2: Our Need for a King (Summer Playlist Series)

We have a natural yearning for a person a leadership in our lives.  Psalm 2 is a Biblical passage about a King so read that and then follow through with me as the following are my Bible study notes based on my pastor's sermon titled "We Need a King."

You are invited to watch, listen, and worship with us here.

Our Need for a King

Psalm 2 is about Jesus, King Jesus.

We all desire a King.  From childhood, we enjoy stories and music about kings.  In the United States, we make people like celebrities and other high profile people kings.  Why do we do this?  We do it because we desire kings.

God says, "There is a King."  If we don't find a King, we will invent one.  Jesus should be the only King in our lives.

We all dislike the King.  We are a fickle people.  Our sinful hearts are stubborn.  We don't like authority.

Because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. - Romans 8:7-8
If we desire salvation, we must recognize rebellion in our own hearts.  God will not be ignored.  We like to be our own authority but God says, "Be holy for I am holy."
Because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” - 1 Peter 1:16

We desperately need a King.  There is no refuge FROM the King.  There is only refuge IN the King.  Be wise.  Be warned.
Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, O judges of the earth. - Psalm 2:10
If HE is our King, we will obey Him, serve Him, and we will let go of bitterness and anger.

At this point in the video above, my pastor refers to a book by John Piper called Coronavirus and Christ.  You can find that resource here.

Coronavirus and Christ by John Piper
Coronavirus and Christ by John Piper is available here.

We can trust the King.

Joy is the flag that flies from the castle of my heart when the King is in residence there. (Original Source of Quote Unknown)

Read all posts in this series here.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Psalm 1 (Summer Playlist Series)

My pastor is taking us through a summer playlist series.  Today, his message is on Psalm 1.
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish. - Psalm 1
The following are my Bible study notes based on my pastor's sermon.

You are invited to watch, listen, and worship with us here.

Psalm 1 is called the "Wisdom Psalm."  There are no commands in Psalm 1 but it mentions two paths:  the blessed path in verse 1 and the perish path in verse 6.

When it comes to our faith, we cannot compromise.  Compromise is sneaky.  It often happens so slowly over time that we don't even realize we are compromising.

At this point in my pastor's sermon, a song comes to mind, Slow Fade by Casting Crowns.  This song accurately shows how we can slowly compromise over time until we have lost our way completely.

Psalm 1 is about keeping a God-focus.  Verses 1-3 describe the Godly.  Verses 4-6 describe the ungodly.

The Godly life in verses 1-3 is not referring to a live without struggles but rather someone who desires to live in the will of God.

The ungodly is someone who pushes God out of his or her life.  This is not necessarily referring to a bad person, but someone who pushes away from God.

Sin starts small and then grows.  Refer back to the slow fade of compromise above.

We all sin, but the Godly will not stand or sit there in sin for long.  Once a person sits in sin, he or she might become too comfortable there.  Then, sin becomes a lifestyle.

Compromise begins small but then grows into a sinful beast.

Look at Psalm 1:2.  What are you delighting in?  Are you delighting in God's Word?  God's Word provides absolutes in a world where there are none.  Psalm 119 tells us that God's Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.
They word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. - Psalm 119:105

The Bible shows us a meaningful view of life in a world lacking meaning.

The Bible tells us the truth in a world built on lies.

Are you building our life and faith on a foundation of rock or on a foundation of sand.

Do you delight in God's Word?

Meditate on God's Word so that it stays with you.  It's there in your mind when you need it.

Psalm 1:4 compares the ungodly life to chaff.  Chaff is the wasted part of grain.  The ungodly lack confidence.  Wickedness will have no confidence before God.  The ungodly path leads to death.

Stay on the path that leads to life, eternal life.  Learn more about how you can have eternal life here.

Read all posts in this series here.


Sunday, May 10, 2020

Learning from a Mother's Faith - A Mother's Day Message

The following are my Bible study notes based on my pastor's Mother's Day sermon.

Learning from a Mother's Faith

You are invited to watch, listen, and worship with us here.

 Our Scripture passage on this Mother's Day is Matthew 15:21-28.

1.  The struggle is real.

The woman's daughter was demon possessed.  Life is hard.  Sometimes we can do everything right and and life still hurts.  Sometimes struggles are because of choices we make.  Sometimes struggles come from circumstances which are not our fault.

2.  Life's great struggles require great faith.

This mother's great faith was persistent.
Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?  I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” - Luke 18:1-8

What if the answer you are looking for is on the other side of your next prayer?

The  most important thing you can do is give your children to Jesus.

Great faith is humble.

There are two things that move the heart of God:  tears and prayers of a mother.

How many lives have been changed because Mama prayed?

I'm not sure if this song is the one my pastor was referring to in the video.  In my search, I found there are several versions of songs titled "Mama Prayed," but I landed on this one and loved it.
"Not much more than 5 foot tall, but mountains big and small crumbled all the way when Mama prayed."
Jesus doesn't promise to always heal, but He does promise that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

Are you someone whose mom is praying for you?  You can learn about how to have a relationship with Jesus here.  I hope you will make Him your Lord today.


Thursday, May 7, 2020

Redemption by Karen Kingsbury (Book Review)

A little while back, I read my first Karen Kingsbury book.  I had been hooked on Amish romances, but someone highly recommended a book by Kingsbury so I read it.  I don't know why it took me so long to read one of her books!  I've heard her name for years, but for some reason, my eyes had not landed on one of her novels until fairly recently.  Since then, I've read several of her books and have loved every single one.  I've heard a lot of good things about her Baxter family series so I thought our current COVID19 "quarantine" would be a good time to start reading those books.  The first book in the Baxter family series is Redemption and it did not disappoint.  Was there any doubt?

Redemption by Karen Kingsbury - Book Review
Redemption by Karen Kingsbury (Image Created in PicMonkey)

Redemption, as did Kingsbury's other books, had me immediately captivated.  This book, as captivating as it was, was also a hard one to read.  It wasn't hard to read due to the writing.  The writing was great!  It was the content that was so hard to grasp.  In Redemption, we are introduced to the Baxter family, a family of loving parents and several adult children.  The focus of this story is on Kari Baxter Jacobs and her husband.  Kari's husband teaches at the local university.  One evening, Kari is stunned to learn of her husband's affair with a student.  Kari believes God has taught her that love is a decision and God wants her to fight for her marriage.

Some readers might misunderstand this book to push the belief that God wants women to stay with husbands who mistreat them.  This is not what the Bible teaches but this is also not what Kingsbury is trying to teach her readers.  I'm a Southern Baptist raised woman.  I'm as conservative as they come and I believe that unfaithfulness in a marriage gives a woman Biblical grounds for seeking a divorce.  This is not the message Kingsbury is pushing.  In her story, Kari's personal testimony based on her relationship with God is that He wants HER to fight for HER marriage, not that this is what all women should do.  I need to add, however, that some women in real life situations similar to Kari's have felt this same calling on them as wives of unfaithful husbands and they have incredible personal testimonies of God's faithfulness to them and their families. I have always wondered how some women can come to the same decisions as Kari Jacobs.  This story helped me see how they do.

I can't relate to Kari's marital circumstances but I can relate to the need for redemption.  We are all fallen.  We all need redemption.

There are other plot twists to keep you guessing about how the story wraps up.  Kari has an ex-boyfriend, one who broke her heart many years ago.  Now, he's back in her life.  His presence makes Kari's fight for her marriage even more challenging.  Kari has other sisters and a brother.  They each have complex personalities, interests, and beliefs.  They were all raised by the same loving, Godly, and well grounded parents but they are all different, molded from different life experiences of blessings and brokenness.

As you flip through the pages of this first of many in a vast series of Baxter family stories, you'll laugh, cry, rejoice, and hurt.  Your heart will break, but also learn to heal. 

Redemption by Karen Kingsbury
Redemption by Karen Kingsbury

If you are someone who can relate to Kari's story on a level that I cannot, I hope you will find her story inspiring, even if your choice is different from hers.  My personal prayer for you is that you will be encouraged by this fictional story and that you will gain a desire to seek knowledge, understanding, and wisdom from the only source of real truth concerning marriage and relationships, the Bible.

Marriage is not the only area in our lives that can produce a broken relationship.  This book demonstrates how God can heal any kind of broken relationship even if restoring the relationship seems hopeless.

At the end of the book, there is a list of discussion questions to help you discover a deeper understanding of the story and applications to your own life.

I can't wait to start the next book in this series, Remember.  I'll let you know what I think.  :)

Other books I've read and recommend by Karen Kingsbury:


One Tuesday Morning

Beyond Tuesday Morning

Remember Tuesday Morning

Shades of Blue 

Oceans Apart 

On Every Side  

Where Yesterday Lives


UPDATE:  Since I wrote this post, I have finished all five books in the Redemption Series.  You can find my review here.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

What Will the Future Be Like? (Asking for a Friend Series)

We all have an eternity.  We need to think about where we will spend it.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”  Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.  He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.  But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. - Revelation 21:1-8

Two things are forever sure:  Future and Forever

The following are my Bible study notes based on my pastor's sermon.

What Will the Future Be Like?

You are invited to watch, listen, and worship with us here.

Heaven is in the future and it is forever.  

Heaven will be perfect.  All that Adam and Eve enjoyed before the fall, we will one day enjoy (if we know Jesus).

Heaven will have no sea.  There will be no sin in Heaven.  Nothing bad will be carried with us into Heaven.

Heaven will be an incredible home.  Here, men walk on God and worship gold.  One day, we will walk on gold and worship God.

Heaven is where God will be.  We will live in His presence.  Heaven is a place of comfort.
And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. - Revelation 21:4
Revelation 21:4 Stone Plaque
This beautiful stone plaque representing Revelation 21:4 is available here.
There will be no crying in Heaven, no sadness, so sorrow, and no COVID19.  There will no longer be any struggle with temptation.

There will be no racism and no injustices in Heaven.

In Heaven, we will have new bodies.

In Heaven, we will enjoy absolute satisfaction . . . FOREVER.

We won't go to Heaven by accident.  Heaven is a place prepared for us (those of us who know Jesus).  Heaven is prepared for a prepared people.

The unprepared will go into what the Bible describes as a fiery furnace or Hell.

Hell is also in the future and it is also forever.

Hell wasn't made for you.  Hell was made for the devil and demons.
Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels. - Matthew 25:41
We send ourselves to Hell when we decide we do not want Jesus in our lives.

Hell is a place of agony.  Hell is not a party.  It is not a fun place.

Hell is a place of awareness. 
Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day.  And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.  Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried.  In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom.  And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’  But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.  And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’  And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’  But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’  But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ - Luke 16:19-30

Both the rich man and the poor man died, but only their locations were changed.  

Hell is a place of absence.  There is no God, no love, no joy, no peace, no mercy, no second chances, and no hope.  You do not want to go there.

How does your now impact your future?  In the Old Testament, Esau gave up his blessing for a bowl of soup.  Don't be Esau.

Both Heaven and Hell are in the future and both are forever.  We need to bring our future into our now.

Do you know Jesus?  Do your children know Jesus?  Peer pressure won't matter in forever.  We need to be aware of how we spend our money and how we treat others.

We need to receive Jesus Christ as our Savior.

Even Satan knows there is a Jesus, but are you willing to put your faith in Jesus and trust Him with your whole life?

Friends, the hour glass is pouring sand and it is pouring fast so let me ask you again . . . do you KNOW Jesus?

You can learn more about genuinely knowing Jesus and trusting Him as your Savior HERE and you can pray to receive him NOW.

Read all posts in this series here.

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Verse of the Day from Bible Gateway