Sunday, October 30, 2011

My God Is Near To Me

This morning we were singing 'You Never Let Go' at my practically-home church, Heritage Park Baptist. 
Two weeks in a row and at two different churches in different counties, I've been hit square between the eyes with "being anxious for nothing" goodness. 
here's the link to last week's thoughts: Don't Worry, Be Faithful

This week was Philippians 4:4-7
 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

While I'd love to just type out the sermon word-for-word, I won't. 
I'll summarize:
   The Lord is near (As in, CLOSE BY TO YOU!), and when you keep your eyes and your mind focused on Him, then (and only then) will your heart be guarded and protected by His peace.
There's no other way to obtain that supernatural, spiritual peace you're longing for.
The kind of peace that kept Daniel from having a heart-attack in the lions den. 
The kind of peace that gave Paul and Silas a song in the night.
The kind of peace that Jesus demonstrated as he graciously took our pain and suffering on the cross. 
The kind of peace that comes from knowing that God is sovereign over all and he truly cares about me, my hurts, my future, my family, my hopes, my very life.
   Anyways. I started off with a sentence that probably up to this point seems completely unrelated, and since I have the power of editing, I should probably have just cut that and found a new opener. But as you can see, I haven't. My writing style was born to be confusing (and unfortunately for you, I do a pretty good job keeping it that way).
Well, I want to pull that thought in NOW. (yes, go ahead back up to the top to read it again, if you already haven't)
I've loved that song since I first heard it, probably 5 years ago, but today one phrase in particular jumped out at me that never has before:

"I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on"

It was like a "DON'T GIVE UP!" shout from my soul. 
Right now, I'm going through a lot of waiting and wondering about what I should be doing and where I should be going with my life (among other things), and I feel like God's been awful silent for an awful long time. But I cannot give up, because there is a light coming for the heart that holds on. And there is a PEACE that will be given me while I'm waiting and even when the waiting is over, if I keep my eyes focused on my Jesus. 

That reminder gave me the "umph" to make it another hour, day, week, month, year..... because I know My God is Near To Me.
looking unto Jesus,

You Never Let Go (Complete with subtitles... i'm guessing portuguese?!)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

the perfect hymn

I sing the mighty power of God, that made the mountains rise,
That spread the flowing seas abroad, and built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at God’s command, and all the stars obey.

I sing the goodness of the Lord, who filled the earth with food,
Who formed the creatures through the Word, and then pronounced them good.
Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed, where’er I turn my eye,
If I survey the ground I tread, or gaze upon the sky.

There’s not a plant or flower below, but makes Thy glories known,
And clouds arise, and tempests blow, by order from Thy throne;
While all that borrows life from Thee is ever in Thy care;
And everywhere that we can be, Thou, God art present there.

[I Sing The Mighty Power Of God by Isaac Watts]
In my own (and very humble) opinion this belongs in the “perfect hymn” book. Every single line and phrase is, well, perfect at directing my thoughts to praise my Creator. I’ve been meditating on it lately and am just in awe at all that God has done and at how he cares for what He has created. He is sovereign. He is good. He is just. He is God.

Which hymn(s) would you add to the “perfect hymn” hymnal?


Monday, October 24, 2011

Don't Worry, Be Faithful!

Today I visited Calvary Bible Church in Ft. Worth. I was really blessed, and I want to share with you some of my thoughts on Pastor Brent Osterberg’s message from Matthew 6:25-34.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, o you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying ‘what shall we eat?’ or ‘what shall we drink?’ or ‘what shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do no be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
His title was Drowning Your Worry in the Ocean of God’s Faithfulness, and his focus was on five truths we can use to drown our worries.
The first thing that was made very clear was something I needed to hear: Worry Is SIN! even though we tolerate and excuse it much more easily and often than things like murder, adultery etc. We must look at worry how God sees it- as sin. Why would worry be considered something wrong? Isn’t it okay to be greatly concerned about situations and people and things in our lives? Well, I think yes and no. It’s fine for me to show concern, and to give attention to things, but when it becomes something I worry about( aka obsess over, fixate on, etc.), it means that I have begun to doubt that God is a faithful and caring God, that He can take care of it. It’s outright unbelieving God. ouch. 

Some one-liners I have written in my notes are as follows:
Worry is trying to take your life into your own hands.
Worry gives you spiritual tunnel vision- you miss out on the peripheral God’s giving.
Worry keeps us from serving God well.
Here are Pastor Brent’s collection of five truths to drown worry, from Matt 6:
1. Life is more than the things we worry about. it's about God. Worry gives you spiritual tunnel vision, and you miss the things God wants you to see, by being consumed with the one thing that worries you.

2. We don't have to worry, because our Heavenly Father values and cares for us. More than the birds of the air (which he feeds) and the grass of the field (which he clothes). He knows each sparrow that falls to the ground, and how much more does he care for you and me?

3. Worry doesn’t pay off. “Can anyone by worrying add a single hour to his life?” I starred this one-- *Bethany, you’re not making progress toward a solution when you worry. Bethany, you’re NOT making progress toward a solution when you worry. BETHANY, ARE YOU LISTENING? YOU MAKE NO PROGRESS WHEN YOU WORRY.*

4. God will provide for those who seek Him. For crying out loud, He’s already done the hard part, He already sent His one and only Son to die on the cross for our sin. Why wouldn’t he be able to take care of these menial every-day needs? Why do we trust him for eternal life, but not for our daily needs? Do I really think that I can do a better job taking care of my life than God could? If I do, there’s a major problem.

5. Tomorrow is in God’s hands. “Tomorrow will take care of itself.” as in, God took care of today, and he’ll do the same tomorrow. 
The question is: Do you trust him?

There’s so much more I learned, and so much more that I didn’t even have time to write down. It really spoke to me, because I’m such a natural worrier. Some people joke that if there’s nothing to worry about, I’ll make something to worry about. Or if I’m not worried about anything, I’m looking for the next thing to worry about. It’s a terrible habit of mine, and I’ve been working at it for years now. I feel like this sermon gave me some great ammunition against worry. And it came down to one all-encompassing thought for me: Bethany, If you’re going to be faithful to God, you must not worry. 

I'm hoping this speaks to you in some way, and if it does I'd love to hear that I'm not the only one!

In other news: 

Here are two songs I've been thinking about today:

Time for me to post this baby and catch a few zzz's...
Have a blessed week, and don’t worry, be faithful!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

From God, to Spurgeon, to Isaiah

Today’s an eclectic mish-mash of lots of things on my heart.
Think for a second about how many people you passed on your way to school/work today. Can you remember any faces? I was making note of the ones behind me at stoplights today as I was praying, and this blew me away: Just think- you’re in one city out of hundreds, if not thousands in your state/country alone. Multiply that by every other country, and it’s nearly mind-boggling. There are countless people with a life- a background, a present and a future filling up this earth. Now think about this- God is intimately acquainted with each and every person. Their genetic make-up, their personality, their dreams and desires, their struggles and failures. EVERYTHING. not only that, he intimately CARES about each and every person. That’s one great, big, amazing God. With Him there is no partiality (Rom 2). The only thing differing from person to person in relation to God’s intimate knowledge and attentiveness is how we respond to it. And so I asked myself today, “how am I responding to God’s care and concern for me? Do I ignore it, or do I appreciate it?”  “How am I showing Him my gratitude for loving me, and not getting tired of it, but continuing to love me through the good and the bad...always being there?”
I just had to tell Him like it is, “God, you never cease to amaze me!”

From Morning & Evening by Spurgeon, for Oct 7th. I’ve been thinking about this, and rejoicing in it for the past several days.

“In whom do you now trust?” Is 36:5

Reader, this is an important question. Listen to the Christian’s answer, and see if it is yours. “In whom do you now trust?” “I trust,” says the Christian, in a Triune God. I trust the Father, believing that He has chosen me from before the foundations of the world; I trust him to provide for me in providence, to teach me, to guide me, to correct me if need be and to bring me home to His own house where there are many rooms. I trust the Son. He is very God of very God-the man Christ Jesus. I trust in Him to take away al my sins by His own sacrifice and to clothe me with His perfect righteousness. I trust Him to be my Intercessor; to present my prayers and desires before His Father’s throne, and I trust Him to be my Advocate at the last great day, to plead my cause, and to justify me. I trust Him for what He is, for what He has done and for what He has promised still to do. and I trust the Holy Spirit- He has  begun to save me from my inbred sins; I trust Him to drive them all out; I trust Him to curb my temper, to subdue my will, to enlighten my understanding, to check my passions, to comfort my despondency, to help my weakness, to illuminate my darkness. I trust Him to dwell in me as my life, to reign in me as my King, to sanctify me completely, spirit, soul, and body, and then to take me up to dwell with the saints in light forever.”
What blessed trust- to trust Him whose power will never be exhausted, whose faithfulness will never fail, whose wisdom will never be overruled, and whose perfect goodness can never be impaired!
You are happy, reader, if this trust is yours! So trusting, you will enjoy sweet peace now and glory later, and the foundation of your trust will never be removed.

IN other news: an absolute favorite song of mine, especially when i don't know what to do and my new passage for memorization:

Isaiah 55 (ESV)
  "Come, everyone who thirsts,
   come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
   come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
   without money and without price.
 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
   and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
   and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
    hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
   my steadfast, sure love for David.
 Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,
    a leader and commander for the peoples.
 Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know,
   and a nation that did not know you shall run to you,
because of the LORD your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,
    for he has glorified you.
  "Seek the LORD while he may be found;
   call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
   and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him,
   and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts.
  "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
   and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
   it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
   and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
  "For you shall go out in joy
   and be led forth in peace;
 the mountains and the hills before you
   shall break forth into singing,
   and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
   instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the LORD,
   an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off."
Stumbling and getting back up,