Experiencing a Crisis? Trust and Obey

What is our temptation in times of severe and sustained trouble? …

To take things into our own hands, abandon trust in the Lord, and do things our way… in a word – disobedience!

The inspired advice of Scripture?  Don’t do it!!! 

I read this wise advice in Psalm 119 in the Bible this morning! (Psalm 119:145-160)

The situation?  Severe and sustained trouble coupled with a cry for God’s help – expressed in the first phrase of several of the verses… “With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord! … I call to you; save me! … I rise before dawn and cry for help! … My eyes are awake before the watches of the night! … They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose! … Look on my affliction and deliver me! … Plead my cause and redeem me! … Many are my persecutors and my adversaries!”

Our temptation when an answer does not come quickly?  To abandon trust in the Lord and do things our way – disobedience!  Here’s the Psalmist’s inspired advice…  Don’t do it!  Instead trust in God and obey what His word directs you to do!  This is expressed in the second phrase of those very verses! … “I will keep your statutes! … That I may observe your testimonies!… I hope in your word! … That I may meditate on your promise! … You are near, O Lord, and all your commandments are true! …. I do not forget your law! … Give me life according to your promise! … I do not swerve from your testimonies!

And to sum it up?  “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever!” (vs. 160)

Let me tell you, I’ve decided that regardless of the pressure, regardless of the problems, regardless of persecution, I will not yield to the temptation to abandon trust in the Lord and do things my own way!  I’m going to continue to trust in the Lord and obey His word!  Oh, help me Lord, never to forget that!

“Oh What a Savior!” – PREEMINENT!!!

Our Savior – Preeminent! … And then us!

This morning I read one of the grand and greatest passages of Scripture in the entire Bible – Colossians 1:15-23!  In it Apostle Paul presents a stark contrast… The eternal preeminence of Jesus Christ and our abject sinfulness and need!

Preeminence probably needs to be defined!  The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “surpassing all others – superiority.”  But the passage itself, describing Jesus Christ our Savior, reveals what it is perfectly! …

“He (Jesus Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through Him and for Him.  And He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.  He is the head of the body, the Church.  He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, THAT IN EVERYTHING HE MIGHT BE PREEMINENT!  For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell!! (vss. 15-19a)

Wow!!!  Jesus Christ, our Savior… fully God!  Existing in eternity past… there at creation… involved in every aspect of creation (from the smallest to the cosmic)… supreme and sustainer of everything… head of the Church… the One who not only gives life, but conquered death!  Yes… PREEMINENT!!!  I mean, think about it – it blows your mind!!!

And then the contrast… US!!!  Alienated and enemies of God – guilty sinners! We who were, “Once alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in His body by His death, IN ORDER TO PRESENT US HOLY AND BLAMELESS AND ABOVE REPROACH BEFORE HIM! (vss. 21-22)

Oh what a Savior!!!  And He, by his “preeminence” is not only able to save and reconcile us – “though Him to reconcile to Himself ALL THINGS, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross! (vs. 20b)  One more time WOW – WHAT A SAVIOR!!!

Praying “Apostolic Prayers”

This is what Scripture declares… “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective!” (James 5:16)  In fact, I am one who believes that the prayers of the righteous, offered in faith and submission to the will of God, are ALWAYS ANSWEREDALWAYS!!!  In fact it is prayer that transcends generations!

So this morning I read the great thanksgiving and “apostolic prayer” of Paul in Colossians (1:3-14) and jotted this note in the margin of my Bible… “This great apostolic prayer was prayed centuries ago!  Oh may it be answered in the life of every believer – each aspect of it!”  Hey, I believe Paul’s apostolic prayer was powerful and effective not only for the little church in Colossae, it is still being answered TODAY!

Why don’t you let Paul’s apostolic thanksgiving and prayer become an echo on your lips today (i.e. reinforce it with your passion and faith for your Christian friends, your congregation, and Christians everywhere)… Here’s an adaption of it I developed and used this morning during my time of “coffee with the Lord”…

“Lord, I thank You because of the report that I am hearing about my Christian friends… About their faith in Christ Jesus, about their love for all of God’s people, everywhere, and about the hope they have of heaven through the gospel!  And Lord Jesus, I praise You that the gospel they received and are sharing, is bearing fruit and growing all over the world, just and it has been doing among them, where they are!

“Lord, for these reasons, I continually pray for them – I ask You to do the following things for them… First of all, please fill them with the knowledge of Your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding…

“And then I pray that they will…

“Live a life that is worthy of You – worthy of what You have done for them and who You are.  And I pray that they will please You in every way… That they will… Bear fruit in every good thing they are doing for You and others in Your Name; that they will continually grow in their knowledge of You personally;

that they will be strengthened by Your glorious power – with the result that they have great endurance and patience as they serve You; and finally that in all of this, they would joyfully be giving thanks to You, Heavenly Father – the One who has qualified them to share in the rich inheritance they have as Your people.  Oh Lord help them to be aware of the fact that You have rescued them from the dominion of darkness and transferred them into Your wonderful kingdom – granting them redemption and forgiveness of sins!” (Adapted for personal prayer and thanksgiving from Colossians 1:3-14)

Hey, I believe the Lord will hear and answer that prayer!  Apostle Paul prayed it in the will of God – the Lord heard it, has answered it, and is answering even now!  Why not let your praying of it be a passionate, believing echo!!

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