Unto Me

Matthew 25: 37 – 40

Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You as a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of Mine, you did it for Me.’

I hope you all took advantage of Giving Tuesday. If you haven’t yet, you still can. Regarding giving, I had someone say something very disturbing to me recently. I want to share it with you.

Because things are hard for so many people right now, this believer wanted to do something to help someone in real need. As we talked, she told me her ideas. She said she thought about taking money to the local church, “But,” she said, “I am not sure they will do with the money what I want.” She had doubts that the church would actually give the money to a person in need. How tragic! And yet, I fully appreciate her concern. She said, “I am supposed to give my gifts to the church and then the church is supposed to take care of the needy.” Yep! That is how it is supposed to work. Why do we doubt it actually does work out that way? So, I wanted to let you know some things about this ministry.

First of all, Ivey Ministries tithes. We give at least 10% of every dime that comes into the ministry and always have. Furthermore, we believe in giving and helping others. We give of our time and our resources. Part of the dynamic of ministry is that it is an organization of believers. Because we join together and join our resources, we are able to accomplish more and affect more people than any of us can individually. When five of you give twenty dollars to the ministry, we are able to do more than one person giving twenty dollars, say, to the food bank. Combined we can buy cases of food instead of cans. That is the idea of giving to the church, that collectively we can have a great impact. The church is supposed to be here to serve you and the community.

Now, as Paul Harvey used to say, for the rest of the story. This saint asked if she could send me the money and me use my resources to find someone to help. Absolutely! I will receive her donation within the week and the entire amount is going to help people in need.

If you ever feel like you want to do something tangible to help people with real needs but don’t know what to do, I will do my best to meet your need to be kind and generous and direct your gift to someone who needs God’s touch. Call me, email, put a note with your check. Tell me what you wish to accomplish. We can always find ways to bless people and meet real needs.

Help and Hope

Psalm 124: 8

Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

One would almost think I chose this psalm today, but you know we have been going through them, sequentially, every Monday. One must admit, it is a psalm for our times.

I am reminded, today, that psalms are actually songs. As we think about this as music, there is a tendency, perhaps, to try to categorize the psalms generally but also this one specifically. One wouldn’t likely call it a ditty, maybe a lament instead. Would you expect this to set to a blues rhythm? Maybe you would set it to a tune like an old hymn. However you feel about this verse in your heart, you are right. Because we read them rather than hear them set to music, we can set them however seems right to the mood within us. What’s more, you can listen to the tune inside you and simply begin to sing these words. Music is a stimulating medium. It can be soothing or invigorating. These words may make you pensive, meditative. Whatever form they take within you, is just the right medicine.

I cannot imagine that anyone will look back on the year 2020 and say it was an easy year. Everything has seemed to work against us. I feel compassion for those who do not know the Lord because they do not know where their hope lies. Thus, they have little to know hope. We know where help resides. It is in our Lord and He is at your side at this very moment. You are not forgotten nor has your Father abandoned you. He has His eye upon you, and He is the answer we need in this time. No matter how things look or feel right now, He is with you and is your help and hope.

Good Prayer

Psalm 106: 4 – 5              God’s Word

Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people. Come to help me with our salvation so that I may see the prosperity of your chosen ones, find joy in our people’s happiness, and brag with the people who belong to you.

Save me, show me your favor, let me find joy, prosperity, happiness and praise. Not a bad prayer, especially when you consider the psalmist asks the Lord to lead him to praise. All these things; favor, salvation, prosperity, etc. ultimately lead us to praise. Don’t you believe that praise, bragging about the great things God is doing in your life, leads to more praise and, subsequently, to more of those great things? The more I focus my mind and words on praise and thanksgiving, the more praise and thanksgiving well up in my heart.

The petition for salvation reminds me that God brings His saving grace to everything I do. I used to think of salvation only in the eternity context, but Yahweh thinks of it in a day to day perspective. The writer was already a person who knew God and yet he petitioned God to bring him help and he called that help “salvation.” How many times have I prayed, “Lord, save me,” without ever thinking that the noun form of that would be salvation? That is huge!

Within the Lord’s saving help is prosperity in all things; in your finances, sure, but also in your body, mind, health, relationships and every other way you can think of. The end result God wants to bring to life is joy and happiness. Ultimately, that is called Shalom. It is the definitive peace, completeness and wholeness.

I pray favor over you today. In that favor I hope you find complete fulfillment, joy and peace. I pray praise exudes from you from the overflow of joy you experience daily.

I also hope, that despite the coronavirus constraints, you are having a good summer. I have encouraged you to make the most of this time. Use the time you’ve gained to make life better in some way. I am going to take my advice. For the rest of the summer, beginning with this week, I am going to publish the Word of the Day once a week. We will continue our Psalms Monday. The rest of the week I am going to use as a mini sabbatical to devote my time to my studies and projects. It will simplify my life and allow me to focus my attention on a few big goals.

I will continue to be available should you need me. You have my phone number and email address. I will also continue to manage the prayer requests. The prayer team never takes a vacation from prayer so keep those prayer requests coming. Just go to our website prayer request tab and leave your request. Until next Monday . . . Be blessed!

Helping Hand

Galatians 5: 24 – 25

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

So many times, when people hear about passion and desire they think of sexual desire. That is a very limited view of what this passage is speaking about. Your passion for anything, your desire for anything that is not God can be a problem. When your consuming passion is for a new car, a favorite activity, food, etc. then you are serving the desires of your flesh instead of the desires of the Spirit. So even if sexual lust is not a problem for you there may be something that does consume your thoughts. There is help though. When we crucify the flesh, Jesus stands with the promised gift in His hands. We do not have to fulfill the lusts of the flesh because we have a helper. We are not alone.

For those who belong to Jesus the helper leads and guide. He teaches and He empowers. As He teaches us, He also leads us in our own personal reformation. He changes us from the inside out. We no longer have to adhere to a strict set of rules that we enforce through an act of our willpower. That is life according to the law. Now, in our enlightenment, we walk by the Spirit. The Spirit leads and guides us. As we surrender more fully to His guidance, we just naturally do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh because He leads us by a different path.

The key word, though, is surrender. It takes a person of courage to surrender their lives fully to God. It also requires someone who can sacrifice their ego on the altar of grace. God, through the Holy Spirit, will do all of the heavy lifting but you first have to find the guts to move out of God’s way and give your complete life over to Him. In truth, I find that many just can’t put God ahead of themselves. They do not have the courage to surrender. They are just plain scared, and they don’t really trust God. Look, it is easy to talk the talk, but it is hard to walk the walk. How many will graduate from God’s elementary school to the upper grades? Well, the choice is completely ours. Can you really let go of your control, your thoughts, your plans, your ideas, your power, your ego? If you will really let go, the Holy Spirit will take you by the hand and gently guide you in the way. He will lead you into those green pastures. He will keep you from harm even when enemies approach from all sides and He will turn your problems into victory. Let go of your control and live and walk by the Spirit into all grace.

Stirred, not Shaken

Psalm 46: 1 – 2

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble. That is why we are not afraid even when the earth quakes or the mountains topple into the depths of the sea.

Imagine, for a moment, standing on a bluff. Beneath your feet you feel the earth quaking as if shivering from a sudden chill. In the near distance you see a mountain as large as any mountain you have ever seen. While you look upon it, it crumbles like cheese, and the whole mountain tumbles into the sea. Where once stood a mountain, there is now nothing. Imagine, as you stand there, the earth still moving beneath your feet, that you feel no fear. Picture yourself standing there and see the confidence portrayed on your face. You have nothing to fear because your God is a strong refuge, a very real and very present help in the time of trouble.

You may never witness a cataclysmic event like described above, but then again, you may. There are places in the world where one could be exposed to seismic activity on this scale. All of us face those times, though, when our world is crumbling around us. The strong people and institutions we have relied upon fall into the sea, never to be seen again. It is in those times that we are best served if we have thought about, nay meditated on, this verse until its encouragement is integrated into the very fiber of our being. We need this assurance in that day.

Psalm 62: 6 reads, “He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken.” Can you currently say that with conviction? Maybe you believe it, intellectually, but it is not buried in the soil of your heart. Perhaps, it has not yet taken root. In that day when our world is shaken, we need the kind of assurance these scriptures boast of. One only acquires this level of confidence in one of two ways; either you have experienced standing on the rock and know the truth of this statement or you have meditated on it enough that your spirit is convinced.

These psalms are written by people who saw the strong tower, the mighty refuge of God. They not only boast of the Lord in song but also their songs are an attempt to transfer their experience, wisdom and conviction to the rest of us. You will never go wrong by basking in the Psalms. They are great encouragement and I hope (& pray) that you find encouragement in today’s excerpt from Psalm 46.

Trusting Heart

Psalm 28: 6 – 7                  God’s Word

Thank the Lord! He has heard my prayer for mercy! The Lord is my strength and my shield. My heart trusted him, so I received help. My heart is triumphant; I give thanks to him with my song.

These two verses capture David’s relationship with God. Praise is on David’s lips. Our Lord heard his prayer and answered from His mountain. David doesn’t stop with praise though, he declares the greatness of the Lord, extolling His strength and protection. God is a shield about us and He is our strength. If you are tired or feeling weak, no need to worry. The Lord supplies us with strength, giving us His own might to fuel our days.

I really love the part about trust. Day after day as I read these psalms, I see David writing about trust. Trust was an integral part of his bond with Yahweh. It was an important tie between them. David tells us in this psalm that the reason he received the help he needed was because he first trusted God. David vocalized his trust. It isn’t just something he thinks about. It isn’t restricted to a hopeful heart. He boldly declares to all the world that his trust is in the Lord. There is a secret in there for those who have ears to hear. The bold declaration precedes the help. David followed the answered prayer with thanksgiving and song.

You might not have liked David if you knew him. He was over the top in love with God and from what I can see from his writings, he really didn’t care who knew it. He danced before the Lord without a care for what anyone would think. I would have probably thought he was a bit of a freak but now that I have the benefit of history, I can see that his outrageous proclamations of love and trust were the recipe for success. Now, I want to be more like David. I want to lose my inhibitions and boldly declare that my God is the king and the love of my life. I want to stop hedging in my exaltation of his greatness. You might not enjoy being around me either because if my Christmas wish comes true, I am going to be a lot more like David.

Hope Alive

Romans 5: 5

[A]nd hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

I feel real sorrow for the unsaved because they have no hope. I think it a horrible thing to live life without hope. When something bad happens in the life of a believer, we can always turn to our father for help in a time of need, and He is always there to render assistance or even a rescue if necessary. To whom do the unsaved turn? What hope have they?

No matter your problem or difficulty; no matter the challenge, you have a constant helper in the Holy Spirit, who was sent into this earth specifically for that reason. No matter how steep the mountain, the Holy Spirit is here to not only help you scale it, if need be, but also to move that mountain completely out of your way. Whatever you are facing today, let hope well up in your heart because God’s love has been poured out into your heart and His love brings hope. Grasp the fact that you have a way out of your most trying problems. You have a way to win. Then also take a moment to pray for all the lost. Even as you thank God that He has given you hope, ask that He send hope and salvation to the needy. Let the world receive hope through the love that was given to us through the Holy Spirit of God.