Wynonna Judd has a song that goes;
“When you hit rock bottom, Aint but two ways to go;
Straight up or sideways.
I have seen my share of hard times and I want you to know,
That straight up is my way.
Things are tough all over, But I’ve got good news,
When you get down to nothing, You got nothing to lose.”
Have you ever been “down to nothing?” Have you ever been crushed? Many of us have.
A spouse says “I don’t love you anymore.”
A child drifts and begins to do things that you have told them is wrong.
You lose a job.
A friend betrays you.
Any of the those things and others can crush us. We can be on the floor… face in the floor… with little or no energy to get up. We feel like no one cares about us.. No one gives a rip.. to put it bluntly.
While Satan can get into our heads and really make us think no one cares, the fact is, God cares. God loves us.. when everyone turns their backs on us… God loves us.
Psalms 34:18 says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted…” Think about that… when we are down… with pieces of our heart lying around us… we think no one cares… God does. God is near to the brokenhearted.
If your heart is crushed this morning…. know this… God knows where you are. Yes, I know… we want a person to no where we are… we want someone to knock on our door or call us or text us and say, “I love you… and I’m hear if you need me.” And, more than likely, that’s exactly what’s going to happen… but, even if that doesn’t happen.. God knows us… God loves us… God cares for us…
God is near to the brokenhearted… and saves those of us who are crushed in spirit.
The lure or the temptation to do something we aren’t supposed to do.
We all face temptation.
Maybe it’s the temptation to buy something that we know we shouldn’t.
Maybe it’s the temptation to buy some clothes even though we said we wouldn’t spend any money.
Maybe it’s a man or woman who are tempted by a member of the opposite sex. Temptation is real and powerful. But, even though it is powerful, with the Lord’s help, we can resist it.
In I Corinthians 10:13, the Bible says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such that is common to man. But God is able who with the temptation will provide the means of escape also.”
That verse tells us a couple of things about temptation.
First, we aren’t the only ones to face temptation. Of course, Adam and Eve were the first to deal with temptation but every person that has come into the world has faced temptation. So, we aren’t alone.
Second, God is able to give us the power to resist it. The verse says, “… God is able…” I John 4:4 says, “…greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.” The power given us by the Holy Spirit is enough to help us overcome temptation.
Third, God helps us escape temptation. “…will provide the means of escape also..” How does God provide that? James said that when we are tempted, we should “Submit therefore to God, resist the devil and he will flee.” That means draw closer to God… and God will give us the strength to resist Satan.
Now, using common sense will help us deal with temptation as well. If you are and alcoholic, don’t go to bar. If your money is tight, you probably don’t need to visit a store that will tempt you. We all need to learn what tempts us and stay away from those things.
We all face temptation… but God gives us the strength to deal with it.
“The joy of the Lord is our strength.”
What does that verse mean?
It means to rejoice in our relationship with the Lord and draw strength from it.
But let’s be honest… lots of Christians do not seem to have much joy in the Lord. Why is that?
Some of it is because over the years, we have preached and taught more about what we are NOT supposed to do as opposed to what we are supposed to do. We have majored on “Thou shall not’s” to the point that we have a tendency to think, living the Christian life is more about what we don’t do or what we refrain from. There are some things we are not supposed to do but, that’s not all the Christian life is about.
In fact, Paul said in Galations that one of the fruit of the spirit is “joy.” So, when we are living a spirit-filled life, our lives will be marked by joy and that joy provides us with strength.
We will be content in Jesus. Paul said, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Phil. 4:11).
We will trust the Lord for provision. Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them” (Matthew 6:26).
But also, some may not have much joy because their walk with the Lord is not very strong. I’m not saying we need to go about the day jumping for joy.. but, if we have a good walk with the Lord our lives will be marked by joy and happiness and contentment.
The joy of the Lord is our strength. The joy of KNOWING the Lord will be strength. The joy of SERVING the Lord will be our strength The joy of TRUSTING the Lord will be our strength.
Today, may your strength and happiness come from your relationship with the Lord.
Yesterday morning, I met a young couple in a restaurant in nearby city. I am doing their wedding ceremony in September and we were having a time of consultation. My plan was to have my meeting and have enough time remaining to worship somewhere.
When I arrived, the couple was already present. The place was full. I visited with the couple for about an hour and got up to leave and the place was packed. There were people waiting for tables. I thought, “it’s Sunday morning.. but you wouldn’t know it in here.”
Now, to be fair, I have no idea what was going on with those people. It is possible that some of them had gone to early service or maybe even Saturday night Mass. That’s possible but I’m guessing that hadn’t happened. So here was a restaurant FULL of people at 10:30 on Sunday morning right in the middle of a time when Christians should be in worship. In fact, there were more people in that restaurant then there were in many churches.
I realize we are living in a different day… and I don’t believe you need to be in church every time the doors are open but, every Christian needs to worship.. some time during the week.
God gave us twenty-four hours in a day… God gave us seven days a week… That’s one-hundred-and-sixty-eight hours in a week. Surely, we can take one hour and set it aside to worship God.
I encourage you to find time to worship. Make time for worship.
In the past, I was a member of a local Rotary club. The club met every week at Tuesday for lunch. Shortly after I joined he club, I had to miss a meeting. An older member told me I needed to make the meeting up. I needed to attend another Rotary meeting to make that meeting up. At first, I thought the guy was joking… but he wasn’t. Rotary is fairly serious about you not missing meetings. Now, nothing against Rotary… it’s a great civic group.. but if a civic group believes so strongly that it’s member should not miss meetings, shouldn’t the church be the same? Sure it should!
We need to prioritize worship and make time for it. If you don’t prioritize it, you will miss worship frequently. There will always e an excuse. Put the Lord first in your life and make time for worship.
Have you ever had a job or maybe a project that you struggled with? Oh, you reported for work… you tried to take care of your assignments… but you weren’t happy to be there. It was or is a job. A way to feed the family. But you weren’t excited about it.
Or, you were given a project that your heart just wasn’t in. You went through the motions to get it done but again, you weren’t excited about it. If your heart isn’t in something, it’s not going to happen… well, it may happen but it’s going to take longer and be not be good work.
The book of Nehemiah is about Nehemiah leading the people of Israel to rebuild the broken down walls of the city of Jerusalem. Nehemiah learned of the broken walls and was moved by their condition. He prayed and fasted and asked the king for permission to go to Jerusalem and his request was granted
Once he got to Jerusalem, he surveyed the ruins, called the people together and challenged them to join him in this monumental task. Nehemiah 4:6 says, “So we built the wall and the whole wall was joined together to half its height for the people had a mind to work.”
Focus on those last couple of words… “… the people had a mind to work.” That means, the people put their hearts into the task. They worked hard and faced ridicule because, they had “a mind to work.”
Is there something that you need to put your heart into? Is there a project or a task that you have been kind of fumbling around with… because, your heart really wasn’t in it.
If you are excited about something… if you are convinced that something needs to be done… you will put your heart into it. You will not quit. You will persevere because, you believe in what you are doing.
Some time back, I was selling at a particular dealership. A young black guy had joined the sales team and was having a very good month. One day, I was talking to the General Sales Manager and asked him what that guy was doing that I wasn’t. The manager told me, that the guy I was referring to was coming in early to learn the product. He got honest with me and said, “You aren’t doing your best to learn the product.”
It stung but, he was right. The other salesman had put his heart into his work. He had “a mind to work” and it showed. I didn’t and my sales reflected it.
In order for anything to take place, we must have a “mind to work.” Do you have that today?
Are you going through some tough times and you are facing some fear?
Are you anxious about something?
Do you have something you need to do and it’s going to be a challenge?
All of us face fear or anxiety or challenges from time to time.
Psalms 31:24 speaks to us… It reads “Be strong and let your heart take courage, all of you who hope in the Lord” (Ps. 31:24).
As I read that verse, my mind goes back to the book of Joshua. When Joshua took over for Moses, God knew Joshua would face anxiety. I mean, who wouldn’t? Joshua was having to follow the great leader, Moses. So, God repeatedly told Joshua, “Be strong and courageous..” God knew Joshua would face some great challenges so God was preparing Joshua for what he would face.
Maybe you are facing a challenge. Maybe you’ve lost a job. Maybe you’ve been given a new assignment at work. Maybe there is something you want to do but it is going to be tough. The Lord says to us, “Be strong and let your heart take courage… all of you who hope in the Lord.”
Nehemiah faced a great challenge as well. Nehemiah learned that the walls of the city of Jerusalem were torn down. Nehemiah could have said, “I will be praying for y’all” and left it at that. Instead, Nehemiah asked the king for permission to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls. And, God’s hand was on him and the walls were rebuilt.
Whatever you are facing today… the Lord says “Take courage… be strong… all of who hope in the Lord.”
“My times are in Thy hands.”
That was David’s prayer to the Lord. He had just explained the various types of trials and adversity he was dealing with. David was going through some tough times.
In verse 9, David says, “My eye is wasted away from my grief.”
In verse 10, David says, “For my life is spent with sorrow. And my years with sighing. My strength has failed because of my iniquity.”
In verse 11, David says, “Because of all my adversaries, I have become a reproach.”
Then, in verse 12, David says, “I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind.”
Clearly, David was going was facing adversity. So, what did he do? How did he deal with his adversity?
After listing everything he was facing, David says “But as for me, I trust in Thee, O Lord, I say ‘Thou art my God.’ My times are in Thy hand.”
I love that verse! It’s one of my favorites… “My times are in Thy hands…” and, what better hands could our lives be in other than the Lord?
David was going through touch times and there was very little he could do about it. So, he trusted God. He said, “My times are in Thy hands..”
Whose hands are your times in? Are you trusting in money? Are you trusting in your job at work? Are you trusting in your network of friends or your family?
All of those can fail you… they can disappoint you or let you down. Only the Lord never lets us down.
“My times are in Thy hands..”
Today, whatever you are facing, put your times… your life in God’s hands..