Three Truths to Start the Day

Sunrise-Photo by Jonathan Snow (By Permission)

How we start the day often dictates how the rest of our day will go.  When we start our day with anxiety, worry and fear, these emotions likely will continue to affect us during the rest of the day.  David faced many trials and obstacles; yet he could be encouraged by focusing upon His Lord in the morning.  Starting our day with a focus upon God enables us to walk with confidence, peace, and joy.  Our life will not be dictated by the events of the day, but by our faith and confidence in our living God.

David shares his faith and confidence in God by writing Psalm 31:3:  “For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.” (Psalm 31:3) David  didn’t start his day alone.  He was aware of God’s presence throughout the day.   Here are three truths about God that gave David peace, joy, strength and direction each day

1. “My Rock”-David understands that God brings stability to his life.  We don’t know the future.  There are many dangers and pitfalls that we face each day.  We are tempted to worry.  We feel unable to handle what is happening.  We feel like we are drowning; however, we can find stability in the midst of the instabilities of life.  God is our rock!  He is there to steady us. He is there to enable us to withstand any storm.  Like Peter, when you feel like you are drowning allow the Lord to take your hand and place you on the Solid Rock.

2. “My Fortress”-David understands that God brings security to his life.  Worry, fear and anxiety can control our days because of our insecurity.  We feel insecure about our relationships, our finances, our health, our future, and our reputation.  We can say “goodbye” to these insecurities when we flee to our Fortress, the Living God.  He can protect us from whatever “enemies” or destructive thoughts that may be attacking us.

3. “Lead me and guide me”-David understands that God brings direction to his life.  Each day presents its challenges.  Often, we face situations which confuse us.  We don’t know what to do.  God is our Shepherd.  He desires to lead us each day.  As we start each day, God will guide us as we seek Him in His Word and in prayer.  James shared with his readers: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5)

“Lord, every day has new challenges, problems and unexpected trials.  Thank you for bringing stability, security and direction in my life.  Help me to begin each day focusing upon you as my Rock, my Fortress and my Guide.  Thank you for taking a special interest in me and what happens in my life throughout each day.  Amen”

 

Moving Beyond Doubt to Faith

Morning sky over Sydney, Australia-Photo by: Mark J Booth

Faith in God can often be elusive in our lives.  We know that we should have faith in God; yet everything around us is crying out saying: “Can you really trust God?”.  “Why is God taking so long.?” “Where is God in all of this?”  How can we move beyond these doubts and live in faith towards God?

How do we doubt God in our daily lives?

  1.  We doubt the protection of God.  We feel vulnerable when events bring hurt into our lives.  Like the Israelites, we feel that God has left us on our own.
  2. We doubt the promises of God.  God’s Word is full of promises, but we don’t accept them for our own lives.  We feel undeserving.  We may be ignorant of his promises.  We think these promises don’t apply to our circumstances.  Thus, we lose out on the blessings that these promises provide.
  3. We doubt the presence of God. God says that “He will never leave us nor forsake us.”  We look for God, but we can’t seem to find Him.  We may think that he doesn’t care.
  4. We doubt the power of God.  Paul says: “I can do all things through Christ which sterngtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)  However, we fail to experience this power when we are expecting God “to come through for us.”
  5. We doubt the provision of God.  God says that He will take care of us; yet we fret and worry about our money and possessions.
  6. We doubt the plan of God.  God is not working in our lives in the way we would like.  We decide to go our own way. Joseph could have doubted God’s plan because the path was dark and difficult to which God had called him.

What causes us to doubt God?

  1. We doubt God because of our own human nature.  One of the conflicts we have in our Christian life is that we choose to walk by sight and not by faith.  We allow our circumstances to cloud our view of God.  Sin blinds us to the reality of God’s Word and His Promises.
  2. We doubt God because of the influence of others.  When those around us doubt God and His Word, they can infect us with this same thinking.  The ten spies influenced one another to doubt God.  Caleb and Joshua had enough faith to withstand the pressure from the other spies.
  3. We doubt God because of the many obstacles that happen in our lives.  Job had some difficulties with his faith because his whole world had collapsed.  Likewise, we tend to doubt God in the tough times.
  4. We doubt God because of his “divine delays”.  God doesn’t work His plans in our time.  Because of this, we become impatient and we begin to doubt God.  We say: “Why hasn’t God done something!”

How do we move beyond doubt into faith? 

We know that we should walk by faith and not by sight.  We know that living by faith pleases God, but we still struggle with our doubts.  What can we do to cultivate our faith.

  1. We cultivate our faith through reading and studying the Word of God.  Romans 10:17 says:  “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  The reading of the Word enables us to learn more about God, His promises, and His working in our lives.  The more we know God; the more we will trust Him.  The heroes of the faith in Hebrews knew their God.  This resulted in their unwavering faith.  How well do we know our God?
  2. We cultivate our faith by learning to cry out to God.  Once Jesus met a man whose son was demon possessed.  This father understood his need to cry out to God:  “And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)  Crying out to God is saying: “I can’t do it.”  “I can’t continue without you.” God will respond when we cry out to Him.
  3. We cultivate faith by choosing faith when doubt is crying out to us.  When we choose faith, we are siding with God and His Word.  We put aside our viewpoints and opinions and accept the ways of God.  2 Corinthians 5:7 says: “(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)”  Paul made a choice to choose faith in spite of all the obstacles.  Our problems should be stepping stones to our faith and not stumbling blocks to our faith.

God is totally worthy of our faith.  He doesn’t need to prove Himself to us.  When we choose to move beyond doubt unto faith, we will live a life that is pleasing to God.  “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)  Faith in God brings pleasure to God because it shows that we know Him, we love Him,  and we need Him.

Faith is a choice in the midst of obstacles.  Let’s move beyond our doubts and place our faith in Him.  Doubt will make cowards of us all.  Faith will enable us to face life with courage.  Doubt will keep us from moving forward in our Christian life.  Faith will keep us walking close to God.

“Father, I doubt you quite often.  I choose to walk by sight instead of by faith.  Like the man who cried out to you to help his unbelief, I cry out to you: “Increase my faith.”

Delighting in God in Stressful Times

 

God’s is waiting for us to come to Him. Photo by: Mark J Booth
The cares of this life often seem to build up until we feel overwhelmed. We become discouraged and feel stressed about life. Is there a place of comfort in the midst of the cares of this world? “In the multitude of my thoughts within me (cares of my heart) thy comforts delight my soul.” (Psalm 94:19). The Psalmist is saying: “No matter how stressful life is, God is here not only to bring comfort, but delight to my soul.”
There are many things that can be overwhelming and bring stress upon us:
  • the stress of our own failures, sins, and worries.
  • the stress from our concern for our loved ones.
  • the stress from people who oppose us.
  • the stress of work
  • the stress of growing older
  • the stress of keeping up with others
  • the stress of trials in our lives
  • the stress of loneliness
  • the stress of not knowing the future.
  • the stress of making decisions
Stressful situations fill our lives.  However, In the midst of the stresses of life, we can always flee to the “God of all Comfort”.  We can flee to Him:
  • by prayer and praise unto Him
  • by opening up the Word of God and listening to Him
  • by submitting our lives completely to Him
  • by confessing any known sin unto Him
He is always available to bring comfort, peace and hope to the soul who is coping with stress in their lives. Will we flee to Him in midst of the cares and stresses of life? Yes!
GOD WILL CHANGE OUR STRESS INTO DELIGHT IN HIM!

 

A Sunny Way to Start the Day(Psalm 19)

The early morning sky over Sydney, Australia: Photo by: Mark J. Booth

How we begin each day not only affects us, but also affects those around us.  How can we start the day in the right way?  In Psalm 19, God shares the example of one of His greatest creations, the sun.  The sun as it begins each day teaches us many lessons.

Once, Sharon and I had the joy of staying a couple of days in a bed and breakfast on the shores of Lake Huron.  One morning, we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise over the lake.  The sunrise brought the hope of a new day. It brought a renewed sense of the glory of God, and caused us to reflect anew upon the beauty of God’s creation.

A sunrise is one of God’s masterpieces.  Psalm 19:4-6 says: “In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,  Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it:and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.”

The sun begins the day with great joy and purpose.  It fulfills God’s plan every day. Also, it brings warmth to all of us who live upon the earth.  The sun glorifies God in all that it does.
“The heavens declare the glory of God, the firmament showeth his handiwork.” (Ps. 19:1)
What about us?  How can we live each day like the sun? How can we bring glory to God?

The heavens declaring God’s Glory from the sky: Photo by: Mark J. Booth

1. The sun rejoices as it begins each new day.  (“Rejoiceth as a strong man”)
How do we begin our day?  Do we begin the day with dread?  Do we begin the day with anger?  Do we begin the day with a complaining spirit?  Have we tried rejoicing as a way to start the day?  Our joy is not based upon circumstances, but upon our relationship with Jesus Christ.  A joyful start to the day will help us through the difficulties of the day, will bring glory to God, and will brighten the lives of other people.

2. The sun fulfills God’s purpose for each day.  (“His circuit unto the ends of it”)
The sun willingly performs the task that God has given unto it.  The sun doesn’t complain.  It doesn’t get praise.  It doesn’t doubt God’s plan.  How about God’s purpose for our lives?  Are we seeking to fulfill God’s plan for our lives?  God has a great plan for each of us.  It began with our salvation in Jesus Christ and will continue for all eternity.  Daily, we have a choice: “Will I fulfill God’s plan for my life, or will I fulfill my plan for my life?”

3. The sun ministers unto others. (“There is nothing hid from the heat thereof”)
The sun brings warmth, light and a sense of beauty to all of us.  Every day, we have an opportunity to bring warmth into the lives of those around us.  We can encourage others with our words and actions.  We can share God’s love with those that God brings into our lives.  Every day is an opportunity to brighten the lives of those around us.

Each new day is a gift from God.  We have the opportunity to rejoice in the Lord, to follow God’s plan and to brighten the lives of others.  Don’t let the clouds of fear, doubt, anger and self-pity keep you from shining brightly before God and others.  Whose life will you brighten today?

Lean Hard! What to Do When the Burdens are Heavy.

Outside of Mexico City from a plane: Photo by Mark Booth

Is your burden too heavy to carry?  Are you facing difficult times?  Are you without hope? Are you without direction?  Does anybody care?  Yes, there is One who does care. His name is Jesus Christ.  What does God say: “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) God is ready and waiting for us to place our burdens upon Him.

Here is a devotion written by Octavius Winslow that expresses God’s desire for us to Lean Hard upon Him.  Octavius Winslow was a pastor during the 19th century who was known for compassionate and doctrinally sound preaching.  He is one of my favorite authors.  I would encourage any of my readers to look up his books and download them for free.  Enjoy the following devotion and don’t forget to Lean Hard! 

Lean hard!

(from Winslow’s, “The Burden Cast upon God”)

“Cast thy burden upon the Lord; and
He shall sustain thee.” (Psalm 55:22)

It is by an act of simple, prayerful faith we
transfer our cares and anxieties, our sorrows
and needs, to the Lord.

Jesus invites you come and lean upon
Him, and to lean with all your might upon
that arm that balances the universe, and
upon that bosom that bled for you upon
the soldier’s spear!

But you doubtingly ask, “Is the Lord able to do this
thing for me?” And thus, while you are debating a
matter about which there is not the shadow of a
shade of doubt, the burden is crushing your gentle
spirit to the dust.

And all the while Jesus stands at your side and
lovingly says, “Cast your burden upon Me and
I will sustain you. I am God Almighty. I bore
the load of your sin and condemnation up the
steep of Calvary, and the same power of
omnipotence, and the same strength of love that
bore it all for you then, is prepared to bear your
need and sorrow now. Roll it all upon Me!”

“Child of My Love! Lean hard! Let Me feel the
pressure of your care. I know your burden, child!
I shaped it- I poised it in My own hand and made
no proportion of its weight to your unaided strength.
For even as I laid it on, I said I shall be near, and
while she leans on Me, this burden shall be Mine,
not hers. So shall I keep My child within the circling
arms of My own love. Here lay it down! Do not
fear to impose it on a shoulder which upholds the
government of worlds! Yet closer come! You are
not near enough! I would embrace your burden,
so I might feel My child reposing on My breast.
You love Me! I know it. Doubt not, then. But,
loving me, lean hard!

Will we LEAN HARD upon Him??

P.S  Here are a couple of websites with more writings by Octavius Winslow.  Enjoy!
http://www.gracegems.org/BOOKS/Octavius%20Winslow%20books.htm
http://octaviuswinslow.org

 

 

The Pleasure of Morning Prayer (A Great Way to Start the Day) (Psalm 5)

Sunrise on the Canadian Prairie: by Mark J Booth

How we start our day often dictates how we view the rest of the day.  There are many days when I feel confused or even anxious.  I feel like I am running on empty.  What is the problem?  Perhaps, I have forgotten the pleasure of starting my day with the most important person in my life, my Heavenly Father.  The Psalmist, David, understood the importance of starting the day with a time of prayer with the Lord.  “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” (Psalm 5:3)

1. Morning prayer is a pleasure because it reminds us of our need of God.  David lived his life with one trial after another.  These trials were a constant reminder to him that he needed his Heavenly Father daily.  When we start our day with prayer, we are saying to God: ” I need you throughout this day.  I need your wisdom.  I need your strength.  I need your protection.”  Morning prayer enables us to come to God with all humility

2. Morning prayer is a pleasure because it reminds us of the greatness of God.  David recognizes the greatness of God when he writes: “Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God.” (Psalm 5:2)  David constantly writes about the attributes of God.  Morning prayer enables us to start the day focusing upon God.  We remember that our God is faithful, merciful, loving, holy, just, all-powerful, omnipresent, all-knowing, and wise.  We also remember that He is our Father, who wants to take care of us throughout the coming day.

3. Morning prayer is a pleasure because it enables us to sort out our priorities.  David says: “I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” (Psalm 5:3)  David was a man after God’s own heart because he had the proper priorities in his life.  David started his day by seeking direction from God.  His relationship with the Lord was the top priority of His life.  When we start the day with the Lord, we are saying to him:  “My relationship with you is the most important priority in my life.”  Wrong priorities create confusion and very anxious days.  When our relationship with the Lord is right, everything else will fall into its proper place.

4. Morning prayer is a pleasure because we can share our burdens with the Lord.     David writes: “Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies: make thy way straight before my face.” (Psalm 5:8)  David faced many enemies.  These enemies were a great burden upon David.  We begin our day with many burdens.  We have burdens in our family.  We have burdens at work.  We have financial burdens.  We have health burdens.  We have many other burdens.  Our morning prayer time is a great opportunity to cast these burdens upon the strong arms of our Heavenly Father.  “Cast thy burden upon the LORD and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”  (Psalm 55:22).

Every day begins with a great opportunity to talk to our loving Heavenly Father.  When you love someone deeply, it is a pleasure to start the day with them.  Prayer is not a chore, but a pleasure.  God is always available to listen to us, but are we ready to speak to Him?

“Dear Heavenly Father, there are many mornings that I forget to take the time to talk with you.  I have forgotten the pleasure I derive from spending this time with you.  You are patiently waiting for me every morning.  You are always ready to listen.  Help me to come to you each morning with an open heart, remembering that you also take pleasure in hearing from me. Amen”