Be Still

My son, Aaron, and I were sitting on the back porch today enjoying all of the smells of a summer morning. I had the Bible in my lap, so I asked Aaron if I could read something to him.

“Mom, read to me about Moses and the Red Sea,” he said.
“Sure,” I said. “I love that story.”

I’ve heard the story a million times, and I’ve watched it almost every year at Easter in “The Ten Commandments.”

Today, however, something was different.
Today the story was fresh.
Today the message was clear…

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14 NIV.

Be still. It is a theme with the Lord, isn’t it?

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10.

After escaping the Egyptians, the Israelites had to trust that God would continue to take care of them. (Of course He did by providing manna from heaven!)

Exodus contains such amazing lessons of faith. We don’t need to worry. We don’t need to try to put all of the pieces together the way they should fit. We need to trust that God is in control, and we need to be still and let Him work.

I love the commentary in my Bible by Beth Moore: “Trust requires that we have unanswered questions. God’s ways are not our ways, but His ways are always best. Trust God and learn to live one day at a time. As you do , you will enjoy life more than ever before.”

Are you willing to Be Still?

Don’t Trust Anyone


“But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.”
‭‭John‬ ‭2:24-25‬ ‭ESV

I was excited when this came up as my Oswald Chambers devotional today. Understanding this verse became a pivotal part of learning how to forgive for me. And that was that I learned that, like Jesus, I should never truly trust anyone.

How cynical, right? But Jesus was anything but a cynic. So, if Jesus didn’t fully trust anyone, what did He trust?

He trusted the same thing that we can trust. God’s movement within that person’s life. Jesus saw past the person and looked for the ways that they were allowing God to use them. In doing so He used that as a scale for how much He could entrust to them. All of humanity will let you down, but God never will. When we look for God moving in someone’s life instead of their intrinsic ability to be trustworthy, the balance is set right.

When we have this knowledge our ability to forgive is strengthened. When someone fails us, we need not take it personally. It was their inability to let God use them properly at that moment. It leaves us available to give them grace and to love them and assist them back into a right relationship with the Lord.

This week I challenge you to examine in whom you have your real trust. Is it God or is it man? Have you learned to truly trust fully in no one but your Savior?

Battle of the Mower Blades

This week a friend let me know that the blades on their riding lawn mower were worn out. I quickly volunteered to fix this problem for them and assured my friend it would be done in no time.

I have changed riding lawn mower blades many times and it usually only requires a couple of tools and about 30 minutes. I removed the mower deck and discovered that the nuts holding the blades in place were stuck.

I tried using breaker bars and air impacts to bust the nuts loose, and they would not budge. I heated the nuts up with a torch and finally broke one of the nuts loose, but the other nut remained firmly in place.

After so many attempts to loosen this nut it finally stripped, and I was really in trouble then. It was time to get creative, so I got an old 15/16 open end wrench and welded it to the nut, and finally, it broke loose.

Now I have to order a new nut and what should have taken 30 minutes to fix is going to take a few days.

This situation is a lot like life. When we have problems, we are always looking for the quick fix. We want God to fix us as long as it does not take too long or hurt too bad.
We want to give that one tithe that makes everything better. We want to offer up that one prayer that will cover everything. We want to attend that one service that wins God’s favor for all time.

God does not work that way.

In 1 Timothy 4:15-16 Paul reminds his readers,
15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

A real relationship with God requires that we daily practice His Word and immerse ourselves in Him. A real relationship with God means we keep a close watch on our thoughts, emotions, words and behavior. A real relationship with God means we persist. We do not give up, and if we do not receive an answer or a solution right away, we keep trying, keep learning, keep growing and keep persevering until God gives us His answer or His solution.

Keep practicing. Keep immersing. Keep watching. Keep persevering, while you are working towards a solution, God is working on you.

Can You Follow Jesus While Ignoring Him?

Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” Luke 6:46

This week, I during my studies, I got stuck on this verse. Jesus is speaking to a multitude here. After asking the question, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord and do not what I tell you?”, he continues to describe what it looks like  using an illustration of a man building a house on a rock foundation, versus one who doesn’t. But, I want you to dwell on this verse.

This verse implies that there is more to being a follower of Jesus than just having faith and believing in your heart. This verse implies that there are some things we should be doing if we are truly a follower of Jesus. In other areas of our life, when someone has authority over us, we do what we’re told. But, for some reason, when it comes to what Jesus says, we have a disconnect.

This reminded me of a teaching by Francis Chan. Please watch this short video:

Today, I encourage you to to study Jesus’ commands to us. It’s disobedience to ignore what he says and I’m not sure we can claim that we weren’t aware of his commands on judgement day. Does this cost us our salvation? I’d ask, if we don’t try to obey Jesus, were we really his followers to begin with? I’m not perfect. I know that no one is because we learn that in his Word. But, at some point, we have to stop using our fallen flesh as an excuse and start fighting it. The battle is going, let’s suit up and fight.

I want to be done with lip service and give Jesus life-service. I am as guilty as anyone of claiming to follow Jesus, but not following his commands. I should be a disciple maker. I should be giving more to the poor. I should be giving more to widows. Jesus gave his life for mine. I want to give back all I can and do my very best to stop piling sins on His cross.

At some point, it may cross your mind, that this doesn’t line up with the thoughts that following Jesus is easy. Just say a prayer and start trying to live right. But, friends, Jesus had thousands walk away from him because what he was teaching was so hard. The rich man turned and walked away from Jesus because what Jesus asked of  him was so hard. Yet, our culture today, likes to simplify everything to match culture. Jesus, God in flesh, wants our obedience and our trust. Once we’re willing to give him everything, he sends the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and guide and comfort us.

I hope that this initiates a study of your own at the very least.

God bless you today!

~ James Oliver

Known


Do you ever feel alone and unknown? Psalm 139 details just how known you actually are. You cannot hide from the One who formed you and searches you. There is no part of you that is unseen by Him. Does this frighten you? If you have not repented and turned back to God, perhaps this does worry you. 

Your ways are known. You are known. 

On a different note, if you are a repentant follower of Jesus, you may be encouraged. Your encouragement comes from the fact that no matter how alone and unknown you feel, God’s Word says otherwise. When you are walking in His ways, you have no fear, only love. You can find hope in the knowledge that your Creator sees you. 

Whether you feel fear or hope when reading this scripture, we find accountability in this. We understand that our sins are not hidden. This should propel us forward! We don’t linger in a place of paranoia or fear. No, we use this as a catalyst for holy living. We turn to Him. We step out, walking in faith, abiding in Him, who knows and sees all of us, yet loves us and calls us His own. 

You are known.

“Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; You understand my thoughts from far away.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:1-2‬ ‭

Trust & Obey

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy path.“ Proverbs 3:5-6

It’s been an interesting few weeks of reflection due to a request that I have been presented with.

Several friends of mine have asked me to write a message or just some little note to their high school graduate.  I loved the idea and I immediately found myself wondering what philosophical thoughts I could muster or what words would make such a profound impact on their life that they would only make the best decisions from here on out. As soon as I quit laughing I thought back to my own graduation and questioned what words could have helped me? I remember all the “best wishes” or the “congratulations you did it” and even the “go for your dreams.”. All great words that are very true but I think I myself could have used more. I could have used a comment that gave me a direction and a thought that went passed the moment of graduation itself. I settled in with this scripture from Proverbs.

I felt like this gives such a beautiful foundation to live our lives by. When I say our lives I don’t just mean the high school or college graduate, I mean ALL of us. It asks and tells us several keys leading up to such a wonderful promise. The first verse is basically a “this or that.” We are given the choice to trust in the Lord with all our heart and instructed to lean not unto our own understanding. This part can itself be very difficult as our carnal mind will tell us that we can do or figure out anything solely on our own.

The next verse really seems to clarify though what that choice between those options means. When it reads acknowledge Him in all thy ways it’s almost a direct reference back to the previous verse telling us what we must do. We must trust in the Lord with all our heart and also to acknowledge Him in our ways. The beautiful promise I spoke of is what it ends on. He shall direct thy path.

I, like the rest of us, sometimes think I can do everything. At other times I feel helpless and that I can do nothing. This wonderful scripture simply tells me that if I trust and acknowledge Him in everything I will be shown the one true way. That way is His way.

kStahl

(Image Credit)

A Recipe for Peace?

This is one of my favorite passages in the Bible!

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:4-7)

Frequently, you’ll hear one of these verses cited alone, but my favorite way to read them is keep the paragraph intact. Read them all together. What you see here is a recipe for finding peace at all times. The answer begins with rejoicing in the Lord and ends with the peace of God through Christ Jesus. As always, it’s bookended with God and Jesus.

Follow the flow of meaning from one verse to the next. Let it sink in.

God bless you!

Photo Credit

Come Let Us Reason


This was the scripture of the day a couple of days ago in the Bible app. And, for the first time reading this, it struck me. God literally doesn’t want our sacrifices as much as He wants us to do right. How do we know this?

He allowed the final sacrifice to be nailed to a cross with all of the wrongdoings of everyone forever laying on His shoulders. That proved it.

So I looked in scriptures for other places where He mentioned that He didn’t want sacrifices as much as righteous action. And I was so burdened when I found it.

Guys, this is all I have for you this week, that you read what Isaiah 1:16-18 says and hopefully it strikes you as hard as it did me.

“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

Seek justice.
Correct oppression.
Bring justice to the fatherless.
Plead the widow’s cause.

The Dead Will Be Raised

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.1 Corinthians 15:51-53

When I read a scripture like this, I’m reminded not only that one day, Jesus is coming back. He’s going to raise up His people to heaven. Some day.  If you’re reading this today, and you’ve not committed your life to Jesus, then you need to consider asking Jesus into your life.

If you are a believer committed to a life of trusting Jesus is who HE said He was, the long anticipated Messiah, then this type of scripture to instill a passion for sharing the Gospel with other people. Because one day that trumpet will sound. Some of our friends won’t be going along with us. It’s important to share the message of Jesus, the Christ, with everyone we can!

Have you shared the Gospel recently? Jesus loves your friends as much as He loves you. He loves your enemies the way HE loves you. Share Him with someone!

Greetings

God’s Word Says…

James 1:1, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.” (NIV)

To Them…

James, the brother of Jesus, was writing to scattered groups of Christians during a time of great persecution. His purpose was to encourage these groups to hang onto their faith during difficult times. This letter was written around 50 C.E.

To Us…

Now, nearly 2,000 years later, we are still learning, still gaining encouragement from James’ practical, straight-talking advice. He tells us to persevere through trials, because trials build our faith. He tells us to ask God for wisdom, and God will generously give it to us. He teaches us to avoid favoritism, to control our tongues, to do good whenever we are able. James’ simple act of penning an encouraging letter has exercised influence for centuries and has served to build up countless members of the body of Christ. We never know how far- reaching our service for Christ will be!

As we read James’ timeless words of wisdom, we must ask ourselves: “What am I doing for Christ? What legacy am I leaving behind for my children and grandchildren? Whether it is a letter, or long conversations about God’s goodness, or simply bringing our faith to life through our actions, we must not neglect the future generations. Their future faith is closely intertwined with ours. We, like James, must take responsibility and pass the torch to them.

Cream and Sugar…

Name three people you can talk to today and tell how God has made a difference in your life:

Dear Father,

Thank you for the men and women who have served you throughout the ages, so that I could know You and serve You better today. Please use my life to encourage others in their relationships with You.

The Second Cup…

Deuteronomy 6:6–7, “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Acts 15:13, “When they finished, James spoke up: ‘Brothers, listen to me.’”

Acts 15:23, “With them they sent the following letter: ‘The apostles and elders, your brothers, To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia: Greetings.’”

The Last Drop…

“What we practice, not (save at rare intervals) what we preach, is usually our great contribution to the conversion of others.”

—C. S. LEWIS

This excerpt is taken from Morning Coffee with James by bestselling author Renae Brumbaugh Green. Renae lives in Smalltown, Texas (not a real place) with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly-perfect children, and far too many animals. Check out more of her work at her Amazon page.