Weekly Theme June 30 through July 6

God's Word Helps Us Stand Strong
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“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!  I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.  Your word is a lamp to my feet and light for my path.”
—Psalm 119:103-105
We all need help to stand strong in many areas of our lives.  Maybe we need the power to stand strong because we have some dysfunctional relationships that seem to cause us problems.  Maybe we need the power to stand strong because we have to constantly battle an addiction that we have in our lives.  Maybe we need the power to stand strong because we are going through a season of financial difficulty and it seems like we will never come out on the other side of that struggle.  Maybe we need the power to stand strong because there are some people in our lives who seem to make it their mission in life to personally cause us problems.

Whatever the issues we have to deal with in our lives we all need the ability to find that extra effort to stand strong and to win a victory over whatever is coming against us.  We must realize that the Word of God, with its guidance, wisdom, and life-changing direction, can help us stand strong no matter what we have to face.

God’s Word if we turn to it on a regular basis can help us navigate the storms of life and attain the peace that Christ wants all of us to have.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Psalm 40:1-13
1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
    he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
    Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him.
4 Blessed is the one
    who trusts in the Lord,
    who does not look to the proud,
    to those who turn aside to false gods.
5 Many, Lord my God,
    are the wonders you have done,
    the things you planned for us.
    None can compare with you;
    were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
    they would be too many to declare.
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
    but my ears you have opened—
    burnt offerings and sin offerings
    you did not require.
7 Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
    it is written about me in the scroll.
8 I desire to do your will, my God;
    your law is within my heart.”
9 I proclaim your saving acts in the great
    assembly; I do not seal my lips, Lord,
    as you know. 

 10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
    I speak of your faithfulness and your saving 
    help. I do not conceal your love and your
    faithfulness from the great assembly.
11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord;
    may your love and faithfulness always
    protect me.
12 For troubles without number surround me;
    my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
    They are more than the hairs of my head,
    and my heart fails within me.
13 Be pleased to save me, Lord;
    come quickly, Lord, to help me.

In verse 2, the psalmist expresses gratitude for God’s help in a slimy and muddy situation. What has God done in your life to help you out of the mud and set your feet on solid ground? Express  gratitude in praise to a God who is trustworthy.

Friday, June 28, 2013

 Psalm 56
Be merciful to me, my God,
    for my enemies are in hot pursuit;
    all day long they press their attack.
My adversaries pursue me all day long;
    in their pride many are attacking me.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
4 In God, whose word I praise—
    in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?
All day long they twist my words;
    all their schemes are for my ruin.
They conspire, they lurk,
    they watch my steps,
    hoping to take my life.
7 Because of their wickedness do not
    let them escape;  in your anger, God,
    bring the nations down.
Record my misery;
    list my tears on your scroll—
    are they not in your record?
9 Then my enemies will turn back
    when I call for help.
    By this I will know that God is for me.
10 In God, whose word I praise,
    in the Lord, whose word I praise—
11 in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can man do to me?
12 I am under vows to you, my God;
    I will present my thank offerings to you.
 13 For you have delivered me from death 
    and my feet from stumbling,
    that I may walk before God
    in the light of life

Reread verse 3. What are you afraid of? Not just little phobias,  but what is your greatest fear? Give it to God in prayer and trust God to guide you.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Psalm 31:14-24
14 But I trust in you, Lord;
    I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hands;
    deliver me from the hands of my enemies,
    from those who pursue me.
16 Let your face shine on your servant;
    save me in your unfailing love.
17 Let me not be put to shame, Lord,
    for I have cried out to you;
   but let the wicked be put to shame
    and be silent in the realm of the dead.
18 Let their lying lips be silenced,
    for with pride and contempt
    they speak arrogantly against the righteous.
19 How abundant are the good things
    that you have stored up for those who fear you,
    that you bestow in the sight of all,
    on those who take refuge in you.
20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them
    from all human intrigues;
    you keep them safe in your dwelling
    from accusing tongues.
21 Praise be to the Lord,
    for he showed me the wonders of his love
    when I was in a city under siege.
22 In my alarm I said,
    “I am cut off from your sight!”
    Yet you heard my cry for mercy
    when I called to you for help.
 23 Love the Lord, all his faithful people! 
    The Lord preserves those who are true to him,
    but the proud he pays back in full.
24 Be strong and take heart,
    all you who hope in the Lord

There is a quote from John Calvin that speaks to the reading today.
“Nothing is more difficult, when we see our faith put down by everyone around us, than to direct our focus to God only, and to rest satisfied with the promise that we know to be true, THAT HE IS OUR GOD.  And certainly it is a doubtless proof of certain faith, when our lives are shaken and assaulted by difficulties, that we hold fast to this unchangeable truth, that we are constantly under the protection of God, and can say to him freely,YOU ARE MY GOD.”
How do you take heart and trust that even when our lives our shaken we are under the protection of God?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Psalm 31:1-13
1 In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
   let me never be put to shame;
   deliver me in your righteousness.
2 Turn your ear to me,
   come quickly to my rescue;
   be my rock of refuge,
   a strong fortress to save me.
3 Since you are my rock and my fortress,
   for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
4 Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,
   for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hands I commit my spirit;
   deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.
6 I hate those who cling to worthless idols;
   as for me, I trust in the Lord.
7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love,
   for you saw my affliction
   and knew the anguish of my soul.
8 You have not given me into the hands of the
   enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.

9 Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress;
   my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
   my soul and body with grief.
10 My life is consumed by anguish
    and my years by groaning;
    my strength fails because of my affliction,
    and my bones grow weak. 11 Because of all my enemies, 
    I am the utter contempt of my neighbors
    and an object of dread to my closest friends—
    those who see me on the street flee from me.
12 I am forgotten as though I were dead;
     I have become like broken pottery.
13 For I hear many whispering,
    “Terror on every side!”
    They conspire against me
    and plot to take my life.

Reread this scripture. It is full of vivid imagery of what it is like to be human. What word or phrase speaks to your life?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

John 14:1,5-7
1Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me. 5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”


1 Timothy 4:7-10
7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. 

In the verse from John, Thomas expresses the common fear of losing our way? Be honest. How does it feel to not know where you are going and to trust Jesus to lead you where you need to go?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Jeremiah 17:5-8
5 This is what the Lord says:
   “Cursed is the one who trusts in man,      who draws strength from mere flesh     and whose heart turns away from the Lord. 6 That person will be like a bush in the
   wastelands;    they will not see prosperity when it comes.   They will dwell in the parched places of the  
   desert, in a salt land where no one lives.7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
    whose confidence is in him.8 They will be like a tree planted by the water
    that sends out its roots by the stream.
    It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
    It has no worries in a year of drought
    and never fails to bear fruit.”
    that sends out its roots by the stream.     It does not fear when heat comes;     its leaves are always green.
    It has no worries in a year of drought      and never fails to bear fruit.”

In these verses, the prophet Jeremiah makes it abundantly clear that we need to trust in God not only in times of trouble but at all times in our life. Reread verse 8, discern the ways your tree of life can grow and bear fruit when you trust in God.

Weekly Theme June 16 through June 22

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” 
—Philippians 4:6
God wants us to pray because as we commune with God and let our requests be known to God it helps us remain strong in our faith.  However, a lot of people get disillusioned because they don’t think God answers their prayers.  God really does answer our prayers. Really what’s happening is that those prayers aren’t answered in the manner that we expect. 

Sometimes God answers our prayers with saying “no.”  Sometimes God says “no” because God is saying he is not going to get involved in something we think is important. In reality, God should remain neutral for some prayers as in our “Super Bowl” prayers.  God answers our prayers but not always to our liking or expectations.

We should pray and we should take our requests and our petitions before the Lord, but we should be careful to not dictate to God what God’s answer to those prayers will be.  Simply by praying we should not assume that God’s answer will match our desires.  We need to understand that God has a perspective that is much more comprehensive than any perspective we could possibly have. So we must trust God’s answer, whatever it might be, to be the best answer because God possesses more knowledge and wisdom than we could ever hope to have. 

This week we will examine how prayer helps us stand strong. To do that we will look at STRONG as an acronym for the some of the amazing things that we can accomplish through prayer.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Romans 8:26-27
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Prayer will help us grow. It will help us grow in our relationship with God. Our scripture today reminds us it is not how we pray that helps us grow in our relationship with God. The Holy Spirit prays for us with sighs too deep for words. In what other ways can prayer help us stand STRONG?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Matthew 7:13
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Prayer will help us navigate. Yesterday we talked about obedience, control, and God’s will. In our scripture today, Christ warns us that going our own way (the easy way) is not best. But if we go to God in prayer He will show us how to stay on the narrow road. Have you ever felt lost (more than just physically lost, but directionless)? Think about this. God is continually showing you the way. Will you follow?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Matthew 28:16-20
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all
nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Prayer helps us obey. Obey can be a hard word for us. Often we cringe because it means following a set of prescriptions or rules. But obedience flows from giving ourselves over to God’s will. And how do we know the will of God if we do not talk with Him.  We often read our scripture today and say let’s do that, but we forget we need to be obedient to make
disciples. We cannot share a relationship with others we do not have. When we get upset because we want things done our way, we are seeking control  and moving away from the will of God. Is there anything in your life or the life of the church that because of the it happened it has made you mad?  Talk to God about those things.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though
outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,
since what is seen is temporary, but what is
unseen is eternal.

Prayer can help us recharge. Our scripture today reminds us that in connection with God through prayer, we can remember our goal is our hope in heaven. This reminder recharges our soul to continue God’s work on earth.  Have you ever felt worn out or at the end of your rope? What did it feel like? Is it helpful to know that through your work on Earth you are bringing others to the hope of heaven and building the kingdom of God?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mark 4:35-41
35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.”36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was
completely calm. 40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Prayer can help us to trust. The disciples are always good for an example of what not to do. It is easy for us to point at them and say that they have it all wrong but they are so much like us. We forget that we have a savior that can calm the storms of our lives. If we stay in contact with God we will remember that if Christ can calm the winds and waves  then He can calm the storms of our lives. Do you ever find that you have trouble trusting that God will pull you through? Be honest without beating yourself up over this. Give it to God and  ask that He calm the raging storm of fear and worry in your life.    

Monday, June 17, 2013

Isaiah 41:10-14
So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand
11 “All who rage against you
    will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you
    will be as nothing and perish.
12 Though you search for your enemies,
    you will not find them.
Those who wage war against you
    will be as nothing at all.
13 For I am the Lord your God
    who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
    I will help you.
14 Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob,
    little Israel, do not fear,
for I myself will help you,” declares the 
    your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

Prayer can help us stand . There is a song that says we stand our tallest when we are on our knees in prayer. Our scripture today comes from the prophet Isaiah, who provides a word of hope to the people of Israel who had lost everything when they were exiled by the Babylonians. Having been knocked down time and time again the message of hope from God was that they could be made strong in Him.  Where in your life do you need God’s strength to stand up?