‘Praise be to My Rock!’

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Some of my greatest memories from raising our two daughters involve our vacations at the beach. Every summer we would head to the beach and while there, one of our favorite actives was to build sandcastles. For us, most of our castles were very simple, but occasionally we would see the castles others had built which were so elaborate they were almost unbelievable. Yet regardless of how much time or talent someone uses to build his or her sandcastle, as soon as the tide comes in, it will be washed away.

Adults know that sandcastles are temporary, yet many do not realize that their lives are as well. We read from scripture, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14) James tells us that our time here on earth is much like the morning mist. We are here only for a short season and then we are gone. David recognized the uncertainty of life and that is why he put his trust in God. .

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:2) The Lord lives! Blessed be my Rock! (Psalm 18:46)

Twice David refers to God as his ‘rock.’ Why is God a rock for those who trust Him?

He is a Rock Because of His Unchanging Attributes

David knew that God will never cease to be anything other than who He is. God will always be all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere present. See Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8.

He is a Rock Because of His Unchanging Authority  

Though enemies were attacking David, he knew that God was still in control. Again, we note verse 2, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:2)

He is a Rock Because of Unchanging Affection

As I read Psalm 18, I count no less than 99 personal pronouns. David did not say that the Lord is ‘a’ rock. He declared that God is ‘my Rock!’ Even when it seemed like the world was against him, he knew that God was still for him.

Perhaps there is very little stability in your life right now. May I encourage you to go to the Rock for your strength and security? God is sure and steadfast. He is a shield and salvation. He is our strength and our stronghold. God is everything you or I will ever need.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.
(Edward Mote)

God bless you, Brethren.

* Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is taken from the New King James Version.

‘The Great Physician’

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Matthew 9:9 As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him. 10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

The Pharisees could not understand why Jesus would associate with someone like Matthew and they asked His disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Matthew 9:11) Perhaps that same question was going through the minds of the disciples. “What is going on? What are we doing here? Is this what heaven is all about?”

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‘Praying for Those Who Spitefully Use Us’

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Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Earlier in this same sermon, Jesus said that the normal approach to handling conflict was ‘an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ (See Matthew 5:38) In other words, if someone attacks us, we should attack them back. Yet according to Jesus, this approach is neither godly nor beneficial. How then should we handle our conflict with others?

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‘How to Deal With Angry Feelings’

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Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Sometimes we think that we can win an argument by using harsh words; in reality, we are only causing our enemies to become more entrenched. How should we handle our differences with others? Rather than being quarrelsome and argumentative, Solomon encourages us to be gentle. Consider this story about David and his dealings with a man named Nabal.

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‘The Secret Place’

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He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2)

Where is the secret place of the Most High? Is it a building, a country, or heaven? It is the heart of God. He who dwells near the heart of God shall find safety and rest. He will also find a love that can’t be explained. Consider some of these aspects concerning our secret place with God:

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‘God Makes Everything Beautiful In Its Time’

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To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. He has made everything beautiful in its time. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, 11)

According to Solomon, ‘there is a time and season for everything.’ This means that there is a God-ordained time for both pleasant things such as laughter and peace, as well as unpleasant things such as mourning and weeping. Solomon also tells us that these two contrasting groups of events are not enemies, but rather co-laborers which are working together in order to make ‘everything beautiful in its time.’ As the backward and forward motion of the pendulum is necessary to enable a clock to run with longevity and accuracy, so also is God’s will for our lives. We need both sunshine and rain.

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‘Battling Discouragement’ (pt. 3)

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Everyone has his moments when the pressures of life seem almost too much to bear. Yet ‘in Christ’ there is always hope. The Apostle Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) Literally that verse means, “I can be strong in every situation, whether it is good or bad, through the strength (grace) Christ supplies for me.” Let’s return again today to our study of Elijah and learn some of the principles God used to help him win his battle with discouragement.

In the story of Elijah, I see three directions of focus:

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‘Battling Discouragement’ (pt. 2)

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And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a [a]broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (1 Kings 19:1-4)

Many would consider Elijah to be one of the greatest prophets who ever lived. He was strong, fearless, and powerful. Yesterday we saw how he called down fire from heaven and then slew all the false prophets in the land. Yet, Elijah was also human. We read from the book of James, “Elijah was a human being, even as we are.” (James 5:17 NIV) Though he was a great man of God, he was only a man. His humanity is easily seen by what he did after Queen Jezebel threatened his life. Scripture says that he, “arose and ran for his life” and then he prayed, Lord, take my life.” Read the rest of this entry

‘Battling Depression’ (pt. 1)

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If you’re someone who sometimes struggles with depression, you’re not alone. Being a believer does not his us from difficulty or discouragement. Sometimes even the greatest of God’s people can feel overwhelmed by their circumstances. Consider the story of Elijah.

Elijah was a prophet of God who lived during the reign of an evil king named Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel. Of all the sins Ahab and Jezebel committed, the worst was their leading the nation of Israel to abandon God in order to worship idols. The Lord told Elijah to gather all the people of Israel, along with the false prophets, to a mountain called Carmel where they were to build two altars: one for Jehovah God and one for the false gods. Then Elijah said to the people, “Therefore, let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other bull, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it. Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord; and the God who answers by fire, He is God.” (1 Kings 18:23-24) Scripture says that the false prophets cried out to their gods and pleaded with them to send down fire upon their altar, yet nothing happened. Then Elijah laid his sacrifice upon his altar and had the people drench the sacrifice with water. Three times he had them pour water upon the sacrifice and altar until they were completely saturated. “And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.” Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench.” (1 Kings 18:36-38)

“And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal! Do not let one of them escape!” So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Brook Kishon and executed them there.” (1 Kings 18:40)

One would think that such a mighty man of God would never struggle with fear or discouragement. Yet, we read from scripture, And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, ‘So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.’ And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (1 Kings 19:1-4)

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