How Is Your Walk With God? 

A few years ago, a friend remarked that he thought it was weird that a pastor asked him how his walk with God was going. I thought it was sad that he was weirded out by that question, for as brothers and sisters in Christ, we should all be asking and encouraging each other in this (Hebrews 10:24). As believers, we all have a walk with God, be it bumpy and bruised or close and constant. Each walk should entail our prayer life, our gospel infusion, and our Scripture interaction. As we lovingly and caringly ask our brothers and sisters about their walk with God, let us encourage or spur them on in these areas.

Prayer Life 

Do you talk with God?

Are you coming to God throughout your daily experiences?

Like the Psalms record prayers to God in both good times and bad, distress and rejoicing, we should be coming to God in all situations. For God, our Heavenly Father, knows and sees, loves and cares, hurts and rejoices. Our Heavenly Father is the first person we should turn to.  Sadly, we turn to others for gossip and slander to work our hurt and strife, or to worldly wisdom and advice to work through indecision and confusion, or addiction and entertainment to medicate our frustrations and loneliness. But there our Heavenly Father waits for us to come to Him.

Gospel Infusion 

How does your awareness of your sin and God’s grace affect how you view yourself and others?

Our understanding of the gospel is of greatest importance. If we misunderstand it, then we are buried in guilt and fear or untethered, floating in a vast and treacherous sea of sin and confusion. The gospel clearly states who we are, as condemned sinners who are forgiven and free by Jesus’ work. It clearly states who God is, as our holy, righteous, and just creator, who loves us enough to save us and restore us. This understanding invigorates us to live holy and God pleasing lives. It helps us view others as fellow beggars and strugglers. It helps us live lifes oozing and ooching mercy, love, grace, and righteousness (Romans 6-8). 

Scripture Interaction 

Do you read the Bible? 

As you do, do you sense God’s power? Conviction? Peace? Direcion? Hope?

The Bible is God’s word to us. The thoughts, desires, commands, plans, promises, and purposes of God were recorded by men in prayers, visions, stories, histories, wisdom, and poetry. God’s word is what we need to hear from God and learn of His heart and ways. If we are walking with God it is essential that we immerse ourselves in understanding and applying His word to our lives. We do this purposefully by planning times of reading, hearing, meditating, and memorizing. God’s word is living and active which means that it is what we need to keeping going and growing (Hebrews 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Let it not be weird to ask each other about our walk with God! Day by day, step by step, let us keep growing closer to our Heavenly Father, expanding and overflowing in our understanding of grace, being assured, inspired, convicted, and challenged in wisdom and truth. As Adam and Eve walked with God in the garden, may we delight each day in the presence of our Creator and Savior! It’s not wierd but loving to ask and care about that. 

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Heavenly Father

With thoughts of Father’s Day, it is good to remember and draw near to our Heavenly Father. Many are without fathers or good fathers, so it is comforting to know that we all can come to our Creator, Sustainer, Savior, or Heavenly Father. Both as an example to us as a father and as a relationship that we must develop, God is our Heavenly Father. He is a good father and many have walked in His ways by being good fathers by:

Listening and Caring
God desires to know us and be known by us. He has opened up the lines of communication by revealing Himself in creation, His words, and His Son, Jesus. Jesus told us to pray to Him as our Heavenly Father (Matthew 6:5-9). This is a relationship of love, care, listening, and enjoying. As our Heavenly Father, God delights in us as His children and wants us to come to Him at all times and situations (Think of the Psalms, where these men came to God and expressed their hearts of fear, anger, sadness, hurt, loss, frustration, and anxiety).

Providing and Protecting
God desires that we realize that He is our rock and salvation. He is where we should run for help, safety, and hope. God is all-wise and knows what is best for us. He is all-powerful and can do anything or provide anything that we need. As our Heavenly Father, he is with us, giving to us, keeping us, and wants us to run to Him and trust in Him. We should have great peace and less anxiety knowing that our Heavenly Father is providing for us and protecting us. (Matthew 6:11, 25-34)

Disciplining and Directing
God has a plan and purpose. We are a part of that. God is working His glory and our good. He is bringing His kingdom to our hearts. As our Heavenly Father, he disciplines us to make us more like Him or what we were created to be. His discipline is sometimes confusing or painful and we chafe under His loving guidance. We must remember that He knows what is best and is working what is best in us and ultimately in this world.

Like a good father disciplines his children, God does the same. He is working holiness and love in us. He is working eternal things and helping to have the right undestanding and appreciation of worldly things. We should surrender to His loving guidance and direction. (Hebrews 12:7-11; Matthew 6:10, 19-24)

So the challenge and encouragement is that:
1. We all have a Heavenly Father to run to, talk with, and trust in… He loves us more than we will ever know.
2. As fathers, we have an example to follow in listening and caring, providing and protecting, and disciplining and directing.
3. We should encourage the fathers who are walking in the ways of our Heavenly Father and let them know they are loved and appreciated.
4. We should train our young men to walk in the ways of our Heavenly Father so that we have loving, peaceful, nurturing, and godly families.

Defeating the Murmur Monster

Life is difficult and how we respond to that difficulty demonstrates our measure of trust and delight in God. Many times we are too self-centered or self-focused that we miss all the God is doing and working in us and in others. When we are self-focused, we complain, gripe, or murmur. The books of Exodus and Numbers show us what God thinks of murmuring and it should be a warning for us when we spot it in our thinking and attitudes. 

Murmuring is complaining about people or situations, which shows our lack of trust and gratefulness in God and spreads to infect others with this bitter spirit.

Hebrews 12:14-15 (Root of Bitterness- this is a heart condition)

Ways that we murmur:

Numbers 11-12

  • Disappointment– I’m not getting what I want! (11:4)

  • Nostalgia– The old days were better! (11:5) (Ecclesiastes 7:10)

  • Blame/Accusation– Why did God bring us here? (11:6) Why (God) are you doing this to me? (11:11)

  • Defeat– I can’t do this! (11:12-14)

  • Ultimatum– If You do this, God then I’ll be able to handle it. (11:15)

  • Doubt– This can’t work! (11:22-22)

  • Envy– Why them and not ME! (12:2)

God’s Response:

  • Anger (Numbers 11:1)

  • Help work through the situation (Numbers 11:16-17)

  • Hears the cries (Numbers 11:18)

  • Appropriate consequences (Numbers 11:19-20)

  • Anger/Plague (Numbers 11:33))

  • Puts people in their place (Numbers 12:5-9)

  • Anger/ Leaves (Numbers 12:9)

  • Sends Disease (Numbers 12:10-12)

Other passages: Exodus 16:7-8; Numbers 14:27-36; 16:11; 17:5

Fighting the Murmur Monster

Remember Hebrews 12:14-15 (Root of Bitterness)

Principles from Philippians

  1. What does this matter since Christ is proclaimed? (Philippians 1:18)

  2. Humility (Philippians 2:3-11)

  3. Pure and Blameless witness (Philippians 2:14-15)

  4. Eternal Values and Goals (Philippians 3:7-10)

  5. Philippians 4:4-9

    1. God is NEAR

    2. God will HEAR

    3. Seek His PEACE

    4. Set your mind on GODLY THINGS

    5. PRACTICE what you have received-the GOSPEL

When we sense murmuring inside our hearts then we must remind ourselves of:

Who God is (His loving-kindness)

What God is doing/working (His holiness and kingdom)

What should be most important to us (What God wants)

Joy And Shame, Cross And Throne 

“who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the righthand of God’s throne.”  Hebrews 12:2




The Christian life is to be a life of joy. Yet the living of this life brings circumstances that are less than joyful and many times are downright depressing. How do we find joy in this turmoil? And how do we maintain it? Looking to Jesus and learning from our great cloud of witnesses should help us.

who for the joy that lay before Him

Jesus had a mission to bring glory to the Father by dying on the cross for us. His mission entailed leaving the glories of heaven for the cruel, crude realities of earth. He was misunderstood and misrepresented, and eventually mocked, beaten, whipped, and crucified. Yet these circumstances contained joy. How?

Jesus’ joy came from bringing glory to the Heavenly Father not in circumstantial comfort or advancement. Jesus’ joy was rooted in the eternal not the temporal. Jesus’ joy focused on spiritual realities not fleshy remedies. Jesus’ joy was about His relationship with the Heavenly Father and the opportunity to bring us into that.

Joy is what we delight in or take pleasure in. Sadly, most of us only know joy in worldly things. When life goes right, feels good, and works out for us then we feel joy; but we miss the greater joy and the bigger picture 

The bigger picture is God’s glory. We have reduced God to an impersonal force or some superhuman being who is at our beck and call or an irrelevant religious object, but God is not to be treated like that. God has created us and the universe we live in. God has loved us with a deep and sacrificial love. God desires our friendship, so much, that He has communicated His ways and provided a way to Him. God is far beyond our comprehension yet He has revealed Himself in ways we can understand. 

God is what our life is all about. Knowing God should bring us joy and knowing that He has a plan to make us more like Him so that we can live with Him should make us ecstatic. This life is where God is doing this, making us more like Him through our experiences. 

endured a cross

Jesus went to the cross with all of its pain and terror. He did this with the joy of what would come from it. He did it to reconcile us to Him. Like a mother struggles through the pain of labor for the joy of holding her baby, we can struggle through the “crosses” of this life for the joy of being nearer to God.


despised the shame

Jesus thought less of the curse, other’s opinions, or cultural taboo than the glory of our salvation. Galatians 3:13 speaks of the curse of hanging on a tree… Jesus did that. Why? Jesus “despised” or “thought less of” what shame he would experience in comparison to glorifying His Heavenly Father. Many times we highly value the shame or taboo over obedience to God and in doing so, we despise God and His love.
Think of the “shames” or ridicule that we put greater value on than obedience and boldness for the gospel…

Jesus faced greater shame than we will ever know but always kept God’s glory greater than that shame. 

has sat down at the righthand of God’s throne

This should bring to mind the word RESTORATION. Jesus was restored to:

His rightful place in heaven

His relationship with the Father 

His completed work to restore us to God 
Jesus did what He did to do a specific work…

1.  He pleased the Heavenly Father 

2. He worked out the way for our salvation 

3. He brought restoration 

We must first receive and believe this then we can follow His example…

1. Live in joy by living to please the Heavenly Father 

2. Live in joy by sharing the gospel message with others

3. Live in joy by hoping in our day of complete restoration or glorification 

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”    Romans 8:18-23

God Likes Big “BUTs” and Cannot Lie…

Read: Psalm 22

Recognize

Trouble will come! It may seem that if something bad can happen then it most likely will. Life is filled with pitfalls of pain- loss of health, loss of jobs, loss of love, loss of control, loss of hope, loss of direction, and loss of passion. The pressures of life will push us down and cause us to wonder, where is God and what is He up to?

David felt these pressures of life and cried out to God. He asked God

Why have you forsaken me? (1)

Why are you so far from my deliverance…? (1)

Why do you not answer? (2)

David charged God of forsaking him, being far away, and not answering him. David cried out and was restless because what he sought from God seemed lost, hidden, and silent. David did not stop there BUT pressed on to find God beyond all the confusion and quiet. What we see in this psalm is an example of the “waw adversative,” where the psalmist shifts gears from pity and pain to hope and help. The “waw” is used as the Hebrew word for “but” and contrasts the previous thoughts to the following thoughts.
Look through Psalm 22 and point out all the “buts.” (or “yet”)

As you look at all the “buts” what thoughts are contrasted?

How does David see God? (3-5, 9, 19-21)

How does David see himself? (6-8, 12-18)

When we realize these things about the LORD, how should we respond? (23-31)

Jesus experienced and cried out these things as well. Much of Psalm 22 is prophesying what will happen to Jesus at his crucifixion. Jesus entered our pain and frustration.

See:

Psalm 22:1 Matthew 27:46; Galatians 3:13

Psalm 22:7-8 Matthew 27:39-44

Psalm 22:15 John 19:28

Psalm 22:16 Crucifixion

Psalm 22:17 John 19:36

Psalm 22:18 John 19:24

Jesus endured awful circumstances for the greater good of our salvation. In the moment, the pain seems more real than God’s love and the loneliness seems stronger than God’s presence. The Heavenly Father seems to have abandon us and shut us out from all the blessing, comfort, and peace we desire. So we cry out! Jesus was able to see past the momentary affliction to the glorious end (Hebrews 12:2) and Paul exhorts us to see these afflictions producing “incomparable weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). God desires that we cry out to Him and also see His eternal perspective when we are at the end of our own. This why we can say life is (insert bad things) BUT God is (insert God’s character or promises).
Thankfully, we can have “buts!”

Although life is crazy- God is in control.

Although life is lonely- God is there.

Although life is sad- God cares.

Although life is painful- God brings healing.

We all need big buts in our thinking.


React

When life is difficult and God seems far away or life is out of your control, remember your “buts.”

Look at Psalm 22:24, 26. How do these verses give you hope?

Think of ways you can remind yourself of God’s promises of His love, healing, restoration, and presence.

Cry out to God all of your hurts, fears, pain, and resentment. Then look back over this psalm and remind yourself of God’s promises and His heart. Just because you are in the thick of pain right now, it does not mean you will be there forever.

Consider why God may be allowing you to experience the things you are going through. What is God developing in you through all this pain? Just as a good (painful) workout develops strong muscles, life’s struggles can develop spiritual strength and increase one’s faith.


Remember

Write out some of the “buts” in Psalm 22 on note cards and look over them to remind yourself of who God is and what He desires for you.

Write Your Own Psalm

They told me when I was younger that as I grew older I would love reading the Psalms more and more. They were right! The Psalms capture the heart, emotions, struggles, frustrations, and realities of the life of a follower of God. God doesn’t work as we would like Him to most times. Therefore we need to voice and vent our feelings of frustration and aggravation.

God desires to hear from us! He desires that we relate to Him even if we are miffed. He is God and He can handle it. In conversation with God, hopefully our eyes will be opened to His great love for us and a better appreciation of His holiness. His ways are not only different and higher than our ways but far better than we can imagine. Like the Psalmists of old, we can write psalms too. Although we will not be writing Scripture, we will be recalling and living out the Scriptures. We can express our hurts and hopes, frustrations and failures, questions and quibbles, passions and praises to our God.

The main thing is, no matter what you are going through, that you go to God. Many times we shy away from God because of how we feel, thinking that God doesn’t care or understand or that He will condemn us. What we must remember is that God came to us in Jesus, so that should prove that He does care, does understand, and does not want to condemn us.

So find that journal or back of a napkin or whatever electronic devices that you use to write… slow down, go to God, and invite Him into your situation.

1. Begin by being honest about where you are at in life and how you feel about it. 
Write it down…
Ex.
I hate my job and I want to quit!

My friends have turned on me and I want them to feel the hurt that I feel.

I wish I wasn’t a screw up.

Or for those living the good life…
I am so happy that I met this wonderful person!

I love my new job and new house!

2. Share your questions, hurts, frustrations to God.
This is where you release all that is within you to God. Read some Psalms to see how the Psalmists did this. God wants to hear your heart so that He can bring the healing, truth, and change that you need. You need to be honest so that this can happen.

3. Now throw in some imagery to make it come alive… (Imagery- word pictures of what it is like)

Ex.
Working each day is like drowning deeper and deeper in a cesspool of depression.

My friends are ravenous wolves they tear me apart.

I’m as useless as a roll of soggy toilet paper.

This step is important because it helps us think through what we are really feeling. We have so many emotions and reactions that may be difficult to put into words but they may be captured in images. This helps us to see where we are and to be honest and energizing in how we communicate it. What we are experiencing in life is real and intense and God wants to meet us there.

4. Remember God’s character and promises.

After expressing what is on your heart, this is the most important part because we invite God into the situation. We invite God into our lives to be God. He may not be or do what we would like. He may not change the situation or circumstances but we allow Him to be who He is and do what He do. We allow Him to rule and reign as our living and loving God and Heavenly Father.

The Psalmists did this as they wrote by remembering the promises and character of God revealed in the Law.

Exodus 34:6-7
Isaiah 40:28-31; 55:8-9

As you read the Scriptures write down verses that describe what God is like. These truths you need to remember and add to your daily psalming.

5. Ask God to show up and work in this.

This is where we seek God in our circumstances. This is where we wait and trust. These are our prayers based on the truth, promises, and character of God. This is where God turns our hurts to hope and healing. This is where our minds and hearts begin to see God’s perspective on our lives.

God is working and moving in your life.
When you write it out…
You slow down
You face up to reality
You invite God into your situation

Sustenance or Suppliment?

​keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith,

Hebrews 12:2




We run and quickly run out of gas because we are not filled with the right fuel.
“Keeping our eyes on Jesus” means that He is our source or what causes us to do anything. He is the source or author of our faith. It is because of Jesus that we believe and have new life. If we try to life this life on any other fuel or source then we will go kaput!

We run and run in the wrong direction because our focus is on the wrong thing. “Keeping our eyes on Jesus” means that we run toward Him as our goal. He matures us and grows us as we are conformed to His image or life and ways. When we run toward or focus on other things, they let us down and confuse us. God knows what is best for us and that is knowing Him and being like Him. All the other pursuits and obsessions end in disappointment and frustration because they cannot ultimately satisfy and give us meaning. God is the ultimate and most awesome, therefore, He is the only true fulfillment or goal.

We run and run into trouble because we run for the wrong reason. If we live the Christian life for selfish or worldly desires then we will be sorely frustrated. God’s work in us is not for worldly advancement or profit. When we seek to be Christians to get more of this world or puff ourselves up or to enhance our own comfort then we find that Christianity is lacking. God is making us like Him and causing us to grow in greater affections for Him, therefore, our comfort and pride are often distroyed.

When we run the Christian race and feel inadequate, that is an opportunity to readjust our gaze. What are you focused on? What is your goal? When you align your gaze on Jesus then He becomes your adequacy. 

When we run the Christian race and feel we have lost control, that is an opportunity to readjust our gaze. What is it you want to control? Why do you want control over this? Why do you feel God doesn’t have this? When you align your gaze on Jesus then He is in control. He has the power, authority, and means to get done what needs to get done.

The real issue is whether God is the source or just some suppliment to life. Is Jesus what it is all about or just an addition? If He is the source then He demands our constant attention, affection, and aquiescence.