Your Repeated Rescue

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From six calamities he will rescue you; in seven no harm will touch you.  (Job 5:19)

Job dealt with the most unimaginable tragedies that any man could endure. He lost his health, his wealth, and all ten of his children in a single day. To be sure, he grieved—he even lamented the day he was born—but he never stopped leaning into His Lord.

When Job’s three friends arrived to comfort him, Eliphaz was the first to speak. And in these words above, which comprise our verse of the day, we see a poetic expression in his use of “six . . . seven” which is used to mean “more than many” calamities . . . an indefinite number. Christian, you see in the words of Eliphaz that you have been given a great promise from God: regardless of how many difficulties and calamities you face, our God will repeatedly rescue you.

Job dealt with one catastrophe after another in rapid succession, like a boxer being bludgeoned on the ropes. He did not have time to process what had happened, let alone recover from any of them. Yet God was in the middle of Job’s storm and promised to rescue him over and over and over again. There is simply no limit to the resources God will send your way to help you in times of need. Regardless of the number of storms you are currently facing, divine deliverance has been promised for each and every one of them.

I say this often, but I feel I must remind you that our rescue may not look exactly like we want it to look. We may be hoping for one thing, but God gives us another thing altogether. But we can be assured that we will be rescued in God’s way and in God’s timing . . . and that that rescue will be good and perfect.

On the night Jesus was betrayed, Peter denied His Lord three times, just as Jesus had said He would. Crushed by the weight of his failure, Peter went out and wept bitter tears of repentance. Yet shortly after our Lord’s resurrection, He sought out His beloved disciple and restored him to a place of service. Not long after that, Peter preached at Pentecost and 3,000 people were saved!

Regardless of the waves of challenge you may be facing today, God has promised to rescue you from each and every one of them. And if this finds you in a place of peace and prosperity, praise your God! But prepare for the storm that is surely on the horizon. As I have said many times, there are only three positions in life: Either we are in a storm . . . coming out of a storm . . . or going into a storm. Yet in all these positions, we have a loving heavenly Father who has promised us:

Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Powerless Promises

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“Our ancestors possessed nothing but false gods, worthless idols that did them no good. Do people make their own gods? Yes, but they are not gods!” (Jeremiah 16:20)

When we hear the word “idolatry,” we have a tendency to think of primitive people in remote areas of the jungle bowing down to sacred cows, stone carvings, special bushes, the sun, moon, and stars. We pity the poor, uneducated heathen who worship a god of stone . . . but we, who consider ourselves sophisticated and superior, bow down in worship to gods of gold! We have become experts at making gods out of everything.

In the 1830’s, Alexis de Tocqueville made this observation regarding the state of America: “There is a strange melancholy that haunts the inhabitants . . . in the midst of their abundance.” We live in a cultural context that believes “more” is the key that will unlock the door to happiness and contentment. We yearn for more prosperity . . . more power . . . more possessions . . . more pleasure. The list could fill pages. Our contemporary culture has erected its own “totem poles” and “spiritual shrines.” Yet, none of them will ever satisfy us or meet us in our deepest place of need. All they will ever be able to deliver is a powerless promise.

Here is the simple way of understanding idolatry. There is nothing wrong or idolatrous with prosperity, power, possessions, or pleasure. But when we take these good gifts that God gives us and regard them as ultimate gifts, then they become bad gifts.

What we must keep in view is this: what rules our hearts ultimately shapes our lives. So if we are counting on anything smaller than Jesus to give us meaning, purpose, significance, contentment, or anything else that matters to us in life, we are trusting in a powerless promise. The truth of today’s verse will inevitably come blazing through: They are not gods!

So let me ask you . . . is there anything in your life right now that is more important to you than Jesus? Let me reframe the question this way: Is there anything in your life right now that, if you lost it, you would consider your life as you know it to be ruined?

Remember, we are often blindsided by the good gifts God gives us, such as family, friends, or career; without realizing it we turn them into ultimate gifts. But they simply cannot bear the weight of our expectations; in the end, it all leads to despair. But there is One who will meet and surpass all your expectations: His name is Jesus, He who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.

Every promise Jesus has made, He will keep. Only Jesus can make good on His promise to meet you in your deepest place of need, regardless of what that need is. Keeping Jesus on the throne of your life will keep you in a perpetual place of promised blessing, whether in seasons of plenty or seasons of want.

Here is a promise with power, given by the only One who will never fail to deliver, the God who will never leave you nor forsake you:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Our God On Guard

watchman

He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  (Psalm 121:3-4)

When I served in the Hollywood Fire Rescue Department during the 1980’s, each station had a position called the “watchman,” who was responsible for keeping watch at night while the other firefighters slept. When a call came in, the watchman would respond to dispatch as the alarm bells began to sound and make sure that everyone who needed to be up was up and rolling in response to the call. You could say that the Fire Department is never asleep, but is always keeping watch over the city.

I have a word of eternal encouragement for you from the Psalmist, who assures us that the God of Israel never slumbers or sleeps. In other words, the people of God have a God who is always on guard, always keeping watch over His people, both day and night. Our Savior is a watchman who continually keeps watch over His flock. No one can harm the sheep, because the Shepherd refuses to slumber or sleep. What a tremendous comfort to know that we have a God who is on guard for our wellbeing twenty-four hours a day, seven days each week, month after month, year after year . . . right up to the moment when we take our last breath on this side of glory.

It is impossible to exhaust the practical implications of this truth. God is continually protecting and preserving us against all those who would come against us. To know that our God is always on guard is to know that nothing happens to us that doesn’t first pass through His nail-scarred hands. God is never caught off guard and is never surprised by anyone or anything. To sleep each night in “heavenly peace” should be the confession of the lives of all those who are His.

If God never slumbers or sleeps, then we can know with certainty that we are continually on His mind and constantly in His heart. We are never forgotten nor forsaken. Our good God who is our great Guard has given us a promise that we can count on. Jesus will not let our foot slip like those who “sleep the sleep of death” (Psalm 13:3). He will guide us with His providence and preserve us with His power because He is always on the watch, working out everything for our good and for His glory.

Christian, regardless of where this finds you today, you can rest in your redemption, knowing that your Redeemer is keeping watch over you and every aspect of your life. He who refuses to slumber or sleep has made this promise to you: He who began this good work in you will absolutely, positively, bring it to completion.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Faithfulness In Little Things Is A Big Thing

grown

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” (Matthew 25:23)

I am not sure if there is anything harder than being faithful in the little things. We live in a world that constantly urges us to want “bigger” and “more.” The world tells us “Bigger is better” . . . a bigger car, a bigger house with a bigger yard and a bigger flat screen TV, a bigger office, a bigger title, a bigger paycheck, a bigger bank account. I could go on with that list, but let me say here that many of us learn from experience that bigger is not always better. “Bigger” often brings with it a bigger headache and greater heartache.

But if God does indeed have something bigger in His plans for your life, you can be assured of this: you will not receive it until you have been faithful in your stewardship over the little things that you have already been given. In other words, God is calling each one of us to grow where we are planted. Why? Because this is the place where He has placed us, and until we are faithful with what we have, God will not give us the bigger things we desire.

Let’s look at a wonderful illustration of this principle:

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. (John 6:5-13)

There may be no greater story in Scripture about faithfulness in little things. Faithfulness in little things was indeed a very BIG thing in the feeding of the five thousand. When Jesus told His disciples to tell the people to sit down so they could be fed, they could not imagine how this would be possible. The only one who had anything was a little boy . . . and what he had was not much. But that boy was faithful in the little things and gave what he had to Jesus, who multiplied them to feed the multitudes . . . they even had plenty of leftovers!

You see a clear contrast between the disciples and the little boy in this story. The disciples saw what they believed could not happen with so little, while the little boy saw what he believed could happen. The disciples saw the challenge before them; the little boy saw the Christ before him. The disciples focused on what they did not have; the little boy focused on what he did have. To be sure, faithfulness in little things is truly a very big thing.

So . . . where in your life right now is Jesus calling you to be faithful in the little things? In your resources? In your education? In your life experience? In a friendship? In service to your church? In your time, talent, or treasure? God has given you everything you need to do everything He is calling you to do right now, right where this finds you. Like the little boy with the meager meal, give what little you have in service to your Lord, and watch your God return multiple blessings . . . to you and to others!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Incidents…Not Accidents

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Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.(Matthew 10:29-31)

If a sparrow does not fall to the ground outside of the Father’s care, is there anything that is happening to you right now that is outside of the care of your Father in heaven? I think not!

To the unbelieving world, life simply looks like a series of never-ending accidents . . . one accident after another accident after another accident. To the naturalist who does not believe in God, life appears to be a random roll of the dice. Some rolls work out in your favor and others do not. But to the child of God, everything that happens is part of God’s providential plan and nothing is outside of His care.

Think about it this way: in our verse of the day, Jesus is speaking to His disciples and preparing them for the persecution they will certainly encounter as ambassadors for the Almighty. In the book of Acts, we see our Lord’s promise fulfilled in the lives of the disciples. They suffered at the hands of both their enemies and their friends. Yet these words from Jesus were designed to encourage them with the truth that God is in control of all things. If a sparrow is cared for by God, and you are worth far more than a sparrow, you can rest assured that your Father in heaven is caring for you in both the times of sunshine and the storms.

It should be a great comfort to you today to know that nothing happens by accident in your life. “From him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever!” (Romans 11:36). God is superintending and overruling all things that occur in the lives of everyone all the time. Nothing happens apart from the sovereign will of God. Life is a series of “accidents,” but rather “inspired incidents,” delivered by the will of God for two simple reasons:

Your good and God’s glory!

So regardless of where this message finds you today, remember that God is still on His throne and in control of all things. Again, ask I’ve said so many times, this does not mean you have been promised a trouble-free life on this side of the grave; you have been promised just the opposite.

“It has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him . . .” (Philippians 1:29).

You will have troubles in this life; you will walk through storms. But always remember, throughout it all, that God is for you . . . so it really doesn’t matter what comes up against you! God loves you. God cares for you. And his care never slumbers or sleeps. Let that truth fill you with His peace, the peace that passes all understanding.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Hapyy 24th Anniversary Kim!

tommy and kim

Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.  (Malachi 2:15)

It was 24 years ago today that God gave me my greatest gift after salvation . . . YOU! The holy covenant of marriage is a great gift from God. It is an even greater gift when you get to marry your BEST FRIEND in all-the world and that is what you are to me.

Your love for me has always been unconditional and your forgiveness complete. You have truly lived out the truth of the biblical definition of love, and for 24 years, you have continually laid down your life in sacrificial service for me and our four beloved children. You are not only the greatest wife in the world, but you are, without a doubt, the greatest mom in the world too.

Of all the sacrificial things you have done over the past 24 years in honoring our marriage covenant, there is one thing that you refused to do, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

To love in proportion to the love given!

You never let my level of love to you set the temperature of your love for me. You simply took God at His Word, and lived out the truth of the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13 . . .

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

God has brought us through many seasons together, and through it all, your love never failed. I know being with me has not been easy, especially with the demands of the last five years as church planters of The Cross. But you have stood by my side every step of the way. God knew exactly what I needed in a wife and best friend and graciously gave you to me. You not only complement me – you complete me in every way. Here is a truth that cannot be denied . . .

You are everything I am not . . . and that’s a lot!

Happy 24th Anniversary Kim . . . I love you with all my heart and will for the rest of my life.

Tommy

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Seeing Eye God

guide-dog

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.  (Isaiah 42:16)

Seeing Eye dogs—also frequently referred to as “service dogs” or “guide dogs”—are trained to act as the “eyes” for men and women who are visually impaired or completely blind, helping to enhance the independence of the disabled person. Have you ever thought of God as a “Seeing Eye” God? No? Well, I have a great word of encouragement for you today, because that is exactly what we have in our God. And the reason He acts in this way on our behalf is because we are all blind!

By nature, we are all blind to the spiritual things of God . . . until He raises us out of the darkness and into His marvelous light. As Paul wrote, “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8). The prophet Isaiah tells us that our God graciously leads us, the blind, because we are incapable of leading ourselves. We all know what happens when we try to lead ourselves; we find the wheels coming off the tracks, and eventually we wind up derailed and in a ditch. Yet even when our eyes are opened to God’s light of truth, we must continue to trust in Him to lead us, and this is the promise we have been given in the Word of God.

Isaiah went on to say that once God starts leading us, He never stops. “I will not forsake them” is the promise our Lord makes to us. Every step of the way into glory, we are shepherded by the great gift of our Seeing Eye God, who has promised to lead us safely to the other side.

Now, I must remind you that He did not promise to get us home without having to go through some storms along the way. In fact, He has promised just the opposite: “In this world you will have trouble,” Jesus said matter-of-factly. The storms have been guaranteed! What God has promised is to guide us and take us through the storms, not leave us alone in the midst of them. And along the way He will make all the rough places smooth. “Take heart!” Jesus assures us. “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

One final point: Isaiah said that the blind (you and I) will be led by ways we have not known and along unfamiliar paths. God leads us out of our particular zones of comfort and into His calling on our lives. God does leave us where we are, because comfort zones are not conducive to developing Christlikeness. It is only when we faithfully follow our Seeing Eye God down pathways we have not known that we begin to grow and mature in our faith.

Make no mistake, living a life of meaning, significance, and purpose will only happen when we allow ourselves to be led by our Seeing Eye God, trusting in Him completely, regardless of where He leads us. Always, always stand on the promises of God your Savior:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

And lean not on your own understanding;

In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He shall direct your paths.  (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV)

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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