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.

Page Two

Lamentations 3: 22 – 25

The Lord’s lovingkindesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I have hope in Him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.

I didn’t want to leave you with the woe of Israel. Some of you remember Paul Harvey and his radio broadcasts. He used to say, “Page Two” as he moved on with his story telling. There is often a page two in life. As you see in these verses, Jeremiah knows, and tells, “the rest of the story.” He knows from where salvation comes. And let us not only think of salvation as the divider between heaven and hell. God wishes to save us from every unfavorable situation. In these verses, God’s saving grace is exposed and proclaimed.

There is trouble in life. Jesus told us that. Read David’s psalms and it becomes clear. Of course, there is an entire book of lamentations. However, at the end of the day, at the end of the book, behind every worry there is the faithfulness of God. He is always there to scoop us up and carry us away from the turmoil and tribulation. He is our shield and our fortress. We really can hide in Him while the world spins away.

In the Old Testament, specifically the Psalms, we read about our Father as the stronghold, the fortress, our refuge. These are all places into which a person can retreat and find security. In the New Testament, Jesus calls this being “in Him.” In Christ and in the Father, is fullness of compassion and hope. We have a promise here in Lamentations that God shows His goodness to those who wait for Him, to those who seek Him. So, the way I hear this is that God has little choice. I have power in this situation. If I seek Him, if I wait for Him, He will pour out His good upon me. I mean, the formula is already there, just plug in the variable over which you have control and it has to produce its equivalent counter-part which is the goodness of God.

Our father waits on high to pour His goodness out upon us. He longs to show us His tender mercies and benevolence. He is so overflowing with lovingkindness that it is without end or limitation. Each day He begins with goodness to give to us. So, though there is trouble in the world, there is goodness, salvation and kindness is our Father. We do not have to reside in the trouble, we can choose to move into God’s loving nature.

Let Him pour Himself out to you. He is without end. Everything you need or want in this hour is in Him. Seek His face, even right now in this moment. Let Him hear your voice and let Him be a loving Father.

Lean on Me

Isaiah 41: 12

You will seek those who quarrel with you, but will not find them, those who war with you will be as nothing, and non-existent. For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, who says to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.”

How can you not love the book of Isaiah? There is so much encouragement in this book. In fact, if you haven’t read the entire 41st chapter recently, I strongly recommend it. It will lift your spirits.

One of the things I know about each of you is that there is some sort of challenge pressing on you right now. If you sit and talk with a person for even a few minutes you will often discover some area of their life which needs God’s blessed touch. Therefore, when you read this verse I want you to read the first sentence in a particular way. Do not focus only on people who quarrel with you or who are thorns in your flesh. Think also of the situations in your life right now that are trying. Your Father is every bit as cognizant of the situation as He is of the people who are bothersome.

Now, hear Him saying about that situation that He will help you. “Do not fear,” He says, because He is right there in that circumstance with you. Those challenges will be as nothing and non-existent because He is the Lord; He is your God. It is He who holds up your hand when you are too weary or even just because you are smart enough to use His strength instead of your own. Do not fear because He is going to help you with this. You are not alone. He is right beside you right now and He will not leave you. Lean on Him.

Help has a Name

Psalm 124: 8

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

So, here we are at the base of things. The Lord, our God, created this earth we live on. As the creator and all powerful one He has the ability to help us when we need help. He created the earth and He created us and He is invested in helping us to live a good and happy life. The story of humanity, though is often the story of rebellion and independence. We don’t seem to want to rely on God to help us but, in truth, our help is in the name of the Lord. He is the only real help we have. That is such a simple proposition, let the Lord help you. Truth be told, the revelation is bigger than that. The name alone has the power to help, the power to save.

In the Old Testament the words “The Lord” referred to Yahweh whom we often call “God.” In the New Testament we call Jesus “The Lord.” God gave Jesus “a name which is above every other name” (Philippians 2: 9). He gave Jesus His own name and exalted him and that name above all things. In that name, which is also the name of God, there is exalted power and authority. The name of God has life in it and light. We know, too, that Jesus is the light and the life (John 1: 4, John 8: 12). God is in Jesus and Jesus in God. I don’t think, therefore, that you have to get bogged down in which of them is going to bring about your rescue. They are in this together with the Holy Spirit. They are three in one like we are. We are body, soul and spirit. So are they. They are together working to help you in all situations. Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for you at all times. He sent the Holy Spirit here to be with us so that we are never alone. He, the Holy Spirit, is our go along. He walks beside us all day listening to what the Father and Jesus are speaking.

Our Father is God Almighty. That’s big. He sent us His son and now He has sent us His Spirit. We abide with them and they abide in us. That is front page news folks. The Father is telling us that He, who made heaven and earth, is here for us, individually. We have the power of the entire trinity working for our benefit. We have only to call out. And while I do believe in calling God by His proper name rather than this title “God” what is most important in the time of need is that you know where your help lies. It is in the creator, your Father. Call on His name and whether you call Him God, Yahweh, Jehovah, Father, Dad, Abba or something else, know that His ear is already tuned listening for you. He is your help in the time of need. Your help is in the name of the Lord God Jehovah. Just call.