I Peter 4:11 “If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.”

Imagine with me your Church is a large ship. Now it can either be a cruise ship, where people come in every Sunday to relax and be waited on hand & foot…or it can be a battle ship where it’s a “All hands on deck” atmosphere. An interesting statistic about serving/volunteering at Church is…only 43% of people serve in some regular capacity in their Church…with the top 10% doing 72% of the majority work. That leaves a whole lot of people with a whole lot of gifts & talents just languishing away. Serving/volunteering at Church really needs to be looked at as a form of discipleship and spiritual growth, not as some menial task I’ve been asked to do. Just think about it, the Twelve Disciples worked side by side with Jesus everyday…caring for others, serving the needy, and acting in the best interest of the less fortunate. It was a “All hands on deck” kind of Ministry they were involved in…and look what they learned from it.

Psalm 78:32 ” In spite of all this, they kept on sinning; in spite of His wonders, they did not believe.”

Regardless of what God did for them, the Israelites grumbled. They didn’t fully believe or trust that He could deliver them safely to the Promised Land. First they cried out for water in the desert and God split the rocks and gave them water as abundant as the seas verse 15 of Chapter 78 tells us. Then they grumbled about food, and God opened the doors of heaven and rained down manna for the people to eat. (verse 24) But when they grew tired of manna and complained about wanting meat… again God showered down quail like dust inside their camp. (verse 27) But every time, God’s graciousness was met with grumbling…His loving-kindness answered with rebellion…even while the food was yet in their mouths. But it tells us in verse 38, “Yet God was merciful; He forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them.” Which only goes to show the vastness of God’s grace, mercy, and love towards His people.

Psalm 71:18 “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare Your power to the next generation, Your might to all who are to come.”

It’s the duty of older members of God’s Community to teach the young what He has done for His people. We need to remember, recount, and pass on God’s justice and mercy…and our required response of faith and obedience. For it would only take one generation to lose sight of God’s goodness to abandon Him. And Psalm 22:31 specifically tells us that we are to declare the Gospel Message into the future… to those people yet unborn…generations yet to come, that they may know God.

Exodus 23:25 ” Worship the Lord your God, and His blessing will be your food and water.”

Our life can be full of running after temporary satisfaction that may fill us for a while, but then when it doesn’t… off we go looking for the next pleasure to gratify us. Isaiah 55:2 asks, “Why do you spend your money for which is not bread, and your labor for that which doesn’t satisfy?” This vicious circle of searching for temporary satisfaction will continue until we realize that true, and full satisfaction can only be found in a right relationship with God. Deep contentment and satisfaction with the Lord is of itself is a blessing we can hardly contain…filling our souls with only good things (Psalm 107:9) So stop running after that which only satisfies for a moment, and instead look to God to fill you fully and forever.

Psalm 16:11 “You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your Presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.”

Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:14, “That small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life”…and that starts with submission to God’s correction and direction. For if you think about it, Jesus was the perfect balance of gentleness and sternness…righteousness and toughness among the wicked. He pulled toddlers up on His lap to bless but yet pulled tables over in the Temple for what the people had allowed it to become. Yes, Jesus was perfectly balanced…magnanimous in spirit to forgive any sinner seeking pardon, while calling out with no uncertain terms those who indulged in evil.

Daniel 3:18 ” But even if God doesn’t…”

God’s answer to our prayers often is contrary to what we’ve been beseeching Him for. The loved one in ICU succumbs to their injuries, the eviction does go through & we find ourselves homeless, the biopsy report doesn’t come back benign. That’s when we need “even if He doesn’t” kind of faith. Isaiah 43:1-2 tells us that God is always with us, but we may still have to walk through adversity and affliction…(with here in these verses water and fire representing opposite dangers and so then encompassing every danger in between.) As a Believer, we know God can heal, deliver, and perform miracles…but what we pray for may not be within God’s Divine Will and we need to have that same kind of “even if He doesn’t” kind of faith that when our prayers aren’t answered like we would like our confidence in God doesn’t falter. For no matter what happens to us, in the end, we will be ultimately delivered. (Daniel 12:1-2)

James 1:19 ” Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

This Scripture can be boiled down to this simple phrase…One should listen well before speaking. That means to listen intently to what the other person is saying, not formulating your answer while you wait for them to take a breath. The Proverbs are full of why we should pay attention when someone is speaking to us. “He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame.” (Proverbs 18:13) “Let the wise listen…” (Proverbs 1:5) and “A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered.” (Proverbs 17:27) When we blurt out opinions on matters that we’ve not taken the trouble to hear carefully first, we show ourselves as prideful and arrogant, and that what we believe is the only correct answer. Listening well takes discernment, discretion, and prudence on our part…but what will follow is sound judgment in making right decisions with full understanding.

II Thessalonians 3:3 ” But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”

Why did Jesus spend 33 years here on earth, when what He wanted to do could of been done in a week or less? He could of popped down to earth from heaven, preached at the Temple, got arrested, crucified, died and rose again in the span of a few days. Instead Jesus spent years doing and experiencing very mundane and human activities. For even though Jesus was fully God…He was also fully man, and with that came every human emotion, sensation, bodily function and condition. Isaiah 53:3 points out that, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.” Jesus spent 33 years on earth going through exactly the same things you do…sickness, weakness, humiliation, hunger, thirst, grief, and sorrow. But why? He did it in order that you would trust Him…not as some high & lofty Deity that has no idea of what you’re going through, but as a fellow human being whose been where you’re at today. The steadfast faithfulness of Jesus can be trusted in whatever you’re going through today…or as David wrote, “I am in pain and distress; may Your salvation, O God, protect me.” (Psalm 69:29)

John 4:14 “The water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Rivers run from the source, and even when it meets an obstacle blocking its path, a river will soon find a path around it. The river of God is the same way…overcoming all obstacles, flowing onto the barren desert of our life, transforming it into something new. And when we are securely planted by the river of God, we will flourish and yield fruit, we will not wither, and whatever we do will prosper. (Psalm 1:3) But we must always pay attention to the Source when obstacles and difficulties block our path. For the power comes from the Source…and as we fasten our eyes on God, abundant blessings and endurance will flow into our lives.

Acts 2:23 ” This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the Cross. But God raised Him from the dead…”

The angry crowd might of thought they were putting Jesus to death of their own will, but actually, their every action was within the sovereign determination of the Will of God. We only have to look back to Isaiah 53:10 and read, “Yet it was the Lord’s Will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer.” This amazing statement true because Jesus was delivered up, according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God. In other words, the eternal plan and purpose of God…His divine decree and the basis for the story of redemption was decided before the beginning of time…and no thing or one can or ever will change the plans of God.

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