Troubled

Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.

—John 14:1

Do not let your heart–

my heart,

the part of me that is,

that thinks,

that tries to understand

 

Be troubled—

worried, distraught, fearful, anxious

 

Believe in God–

God, my Father in Heaven,

the Creator,

the one who holds the universe together

 

Believe also in Me—

Jesus, the one who died in my place

to pay the penalty for my sin,

who loves me greatly with no conditions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

troubled

By Which Also

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Jesus died for our sins according to the scriptures.

I believe that.

Jesus was buried.

I believe that.

He rose again the third day according to the scriptures.

I believe that.

Many people saw Jesus after He was raised from the dead.

I believe that, as well.

Because of Jesus’ great love, I can be saved.

So can you…

 

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Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,  and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,  and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.  After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.  After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.

–1 Corinthians 15:1-7

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by which

Save the World

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It was quite by accident that I saw it.

There was something I had just passed down the highway that I wanted to photograph.

While turning into a new housing development area, there was quite a bit of acreage with wild grasses and trees.

It was a lovely scene, made even more interesting by its contrasting centerpiece–an abandoned construction machine.

This type of equipment is quite costly and very specialized.

Why was this one left behind?

As it rusts in the harsh sun each day, the moments that it was once in use become more of a remnant of times gone by.

It appeared useless and condemned.

I suppose that if the right person came along, this big piece of machinery could be restored.

Like machinery rusting out in the elements, people need to be restored.

Not just some people—all people.

The rust and corrosion of sin affects everyone.

There is only one remedy.

Only one redemption.

Jesus came to save us.

When He died on the cross and rose from the dead, He paid the penalty for our sin.

God doesn’t want us to be lost and separated from Him forever.

He doesn’t want us to be in a condition of condemnation.

Instead, He wants us to be restored—to be made right with Him.

To be forgiven, whole and well.

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For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.

–John 3:17

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condemn

On Your Own

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If you were going to climb a pretty tall mountain, what would you take with you?

How would you dress?

Whatever you might list as clothing essentials for your trip, most of the articles would be fail to be as important as  your shoes.

Think of it—climbing up the mountain wearing a special, pocketed vest to hold important items, a hat to shield you from the sun, rugged trousers, a good belt—you’re all set, right?

There’s just one problem, though.

You’re barefooted….

“I can do this,” you think.

The first hour or so of incline isn’t so bad.

But little by little, the path becomes more rocky.

The terrain before you promises only to be worse.

So, what do you do?

You resolve to keep going, ignoring the pain and focusing on how smart you were to have brought a hat and worn study pants.

Another hour goes by, but your pace has slowed.

Occasionally, you have seen other climbers passing you by.

They were wearing hiking boots….

Isn’t it strange how we would never set out to climb a mountain barefooted, yet we think we can ascend through life without God’s help, determined to believe that we have secured all the help that we might need on our own?

Even when things get tough, we resolve to keep going, ignoring the pain and focusing on how smart we were to have planned for our lives on our own, doing only what we thought was best, without including Him.

Proverbs 3:5-6 instructs us:

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.

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on your own

I Lack Nothing

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The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
     He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for His name’s sake.
 Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
 Surely Your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

—Psalm 23

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dwell in

The Truth

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Walking along beside the water, I noticed them in a distance.

Today was the first time I had ever visited the park, so I was unfamiliar with the surroundings.

Two beautiful birds were swimming in the pond near some water lilies.

With my camera in hand, I walked a little closer to photograph them.

I was soon to be disappointed.

The birds that I thought were so lovely were—–plastic.

Fake.

Just simulated reproductions of the real thing.

One had been fabricated with it’s neck down, as though it was drinking or getting something out of the water.

The other had its neck up.

I had been fooled.

Although the artificial birds provided some aesthetic appeal to the otherwise very natural scene, I was personally let down.

Many of us have never encountered plastic ducks in the water, but we’ve come face to face with something we thought was true that wasn’t.

Spiritually speaking, it is quite common to hear that there are many ways to Heaven.

Doing this.

Doing that.

Following a certain tradition…

We find these words in the New Testament:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

—John 14:6

Jesus is the way.

He is truth.

He is life.

Life for us.

No one can come to God the Father except through Him.

Coming into a believing relationship with Him, we find this truth.

Have you experienced this truth for yourself?

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the way

Believe In Your Heart

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Today is our third son’s birthday.
We have four sons.
Our third son was killed in a car accident in 2005. He was 19 years old.
When he was in elementary school, he gave his heart to Jesus.
I still have the Bible he read when he was in high school and college.
The pages and bent and it is somewhat tattered.
Remembering him today—loving him, missing him.
It brings everything to a true focal point.
All the things in my son’s life that are not the most important get moved off the table to leave only one.
Just one.
Did my son know Jesus as His Savior?

The answer is “yes.”
That’s the most important thing.
Because it is “yes,” he is alive with Him now, and will always be.
In my life—and in yours—we MUST ask the question: Do we believe in God the Father and in His Son Jesus Christ?
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If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
—Romans 10:9

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your heart

Who Believes

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When I got up this morning, I was planning to go to a funeral later in the day.

The sister of a dear friend of mine had passed away after battling cancer.

A couple of hours later, I received a phone call with the news that my cousin, who was also battling cancer, had died.

Both my friend’s sister and my cousin were Christians.

I know they are both with Jesus now and that is a comfort to me and to their families.

After leaving the funeral this afternoon, I drove to the cemetery.

As I was leaving the grounds, I noticed some beautiful red flowers blooming at the entrance by a brick wall.

Flowers so vibrant and full of life!

For those of us who know Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we will live for eternity with Him.

Vibrant and full of life, as well.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is found in the conversation between Jesus and Martha when her brother, Lazarus, had died, just before He raised Him to life.

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;  and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

—John 11:23-27

My cousin and my friend’s sister believed that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God.

Do you?

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even though

To the Throne of Grace

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Below are some of the lyrics to a popular Christian song:

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me
Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay

(from “Lord, I Need You” by Matt Maher)

Lately, the words, “And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You” have gone to a special place in my heart.

How precious to even consider that during our greatest weakness, God is there for us to fall on.
In recent weeks, several people that I know have faced extreme circumstances.
In fact, some of them are still facing these trials today.
This song, when changed to an intercessory prayer, is a comfort to me concerning them:

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Lord, they come, they confess
Bowing there, they find their rest
Without You they would fall apart
You’re the One that guides their heart
Lord, they need You, oh, they need You
Every hour they need You
Their one defense, their righteousness
Oh God, how they need You
Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, they are free
Holiness is Christ in them
Teach their song to rise to You
When temptation comes their way
And when they cannot stand let them fall on You
Jesus, You’re their hope and stay
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My heart is solemn as I yearn for healing of every situation in the lives of my each of my friends who are facing troubles.
God is the only One who can take care of each of the needs.
What a precious privilege to have the gift of prayer.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.—Hebrews 4:16

 

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Throne of Grace

Troubled, Neither Let It Be

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Jesus said,

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

—John 14:27

Jesus is able to to give me peace, even when those I love are ill.

My cousin is in ICU tonight.

Jesus is able to give me peace, even as I realize that I am not in control of others’ lives.

Those I love must make decisions for themselves.

Jesus is able to give me peace, even when I realize that I cannot know the future.

God alone knows the future and the past in its entirety.

In the passage above, Jesus told His disciples not to have troubled hearts or to let their hearts be afraid.

Instead, He wanted them to have peace.

I think this is what He wants now, for me and for you.

Does your heart need His peace tonight?

Are you troubled and afraid?

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peace

Anyone Who Calls

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For salvation that comes from trusting Christ—which is what we preach—is already within easy reach of each of us; in fact, it is as near as our own hearts and mouths.  For if you tell others with your own mouth that Jesus Christ is your Lord and believe in your own heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is by believing in his heart that a man becomes right with God; and with his mouth he tells others of his faith, confirming his salvation.

 For the Scriptures tell us that no one who believes in Christ will ever be disappointed.  Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect: they all have the same Lord who generously gives his riches to all those who ask him for them.  Anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

 But how shall they ask him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?

—Romans 10:8-14

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anyone

Living Water Will Flow

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It’s one of my favorite places.

Nestled in a soft, rolling landscape, a wooden bridge–strong, but weathered–stands above a waterfall.

Being in a sub-tropical area, the foliage this time of year is thick and green with life.

Even though it is December, the flowers and emerald leaves mimic the summer with a lush performance.

The sound of the water cascading down on the flat rocks is soothing and inviting.

It is the perfect place for quiet thoughts and inner reflection.

Jesus said,

“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

–John 7:38

Like the waterfall beneath the bridge, lives are changed when the living water of Jesus flows from the hearts of those who love Him.

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rivers

Examined

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What means more to you?

After work yesterday, I decided to stop at a large store to pick up a few items that I was needing.

Three of the items were located in the same section of aisles because they were similar products.

As I browsed the displays, I selected an item from a brand I had purchased before and was familiar with.

The package boasted, “Over 40 Million Sold.”

It also gave a date it was first manufactured—1987.

Well, that is impressive.

After all, I was buying it as a returning customer (one of 40 million).

I also chose another item in the same area that was less expensive.

The package didn’t advertise popularity for the past 27 years.

It didn’t say how many people had purchased it.

Instead, it had a shiny, silver bar of color with white letters at the top of the packaging.

The letters read, “NEW.”

New.

New?

Maybe this product would be better than the rest.

It might out perform others that were more expensive.

Maybe…..but I wouldn’t know unless I purchased it to see for myself if it was of good quality or not.

The word new gives a hint of hope in advertising.

What are the possibilities?

Perhaps something better has arrived.

When considering spiritual matters, it’s important not to be drawn by popularity or the hope of the next new thing.

It doesn’t matter if 40 million people share a personal belief when it comes to what you choose to believe.

Always looking for the latest religion to come about won’t be what you need, either.

In the book of Acts, we find a passage about the Jews in a place called Berea.

Paul and Silas told them about Jesus.

As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue.  Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.  As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.

Acts 17:10-12

The Bereans examined the Scriptures every day.

They wanted to be sure.

It probably wouldn’t have mattered to them if Paul had said that thousands had believed his message if they had found that it contradicted the Scriptures.

They didn’t just believe because it was a “new” message, either.

They listened and sought God’s word.

In today’s world, the wisdom of the Bereans holds fast.

What about you and God?

What does the Bible actually say?

What does it say about Jesus?

About salvation?

About what your eternity holds?

It’s a very good idea, no matter where we may be on our spiritual journey with God, to listen….

and examine the Scriptures daily.

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Bereans