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Psalm 23: God’s got my back! In Psalm 23 there are eight promises. The first is that God will meet my needs. Similarly, Jesus tells us that when we pray we should ask for our daily bread. What he offers is the main entrée. We may not often get dessert, but neither shall we hunger. I love the balance of this promise. Scripture tells us to pray for the desires of our heart, but sometimes the answer is no. How many would praise God that the boy or girl they prayed God would let them marry, during their teens, is not who they ended up with? Besides meeting our needs, God grants us rest. Jesus once told his followers that in his service we find rest for our souls. In the jail I serve at inmates often sleep 8-10 hours per day. I encourage them that though rest may not be the primary reason God has them inside, many of them were running 100 mph, and sleeping 4-5 hours per day, on the outside. Could it be God is using the jail to provide them the rest they so desperately need? We realize that our situation is not so bad when we take time to hear others. I consider the inmate who is coming to the end of a 12 year sentence. He’s upset at the time he’s wasted. Then another inmate comes along and starts complaining about his 10-month sentence. The first fellow is internally furious. “What a baby! What a weak, tender soul!” he thinks. Yet, he listens. At the end, the second inmate says, “Thanks for listening, brother. I feel better. You’re the real deal!” At first the long-timer is thinking that he’s done nothing for the other guy but judge him. Then those last words hit him. “No matter what, that guy was blessed by my listening,” he realizes. Suddenly, he’s feeling less upset about his own situation. It’s still there. It still stings—but less so. This too is a kind of rest. As important as rest is, we need to be restored. Consider Peter, who denied Jesus three times. Peter wept over his denials, and he waited on Jesus, so he could repent before him. Jesus challenged him three times, asking, “Do you love me?” Underlying the question had to be, “If so, how could you deny me?” Yet, Peter responded affirmatively all three times, and Jesus restored him. We see the power of this restoration a few weeks later. The disciples are in the temple, and the Holy Spirit comes on them. They begin speaking in tongues. It’s noisy and seems chaotic. The Jewish leaders are accusing them of disgracing the temple by their drunkenness. Peter stands up and says that they are filled with the Holy Spirit, in fulfillment of Joel’s prophesy. Then he preaches and 3,000 are saved. People tell inmates that they are too bad to be forgiven or restored. God says that those who repent are already restored. After restoration, we want to know what to do, where to go, how to be. Jesus says he is the way, so we must follow him. We do that by loving God and our neighbor—even the troll who intentionally misconstrues our words on Facebook! A simple way to love people is to bless and focus on them. Isn’t it interesting that our eyes only see forward—outward? God designed us to focus on others. Love finds self-satisfaction in the satisfaction of others. By the way, that’s great marriage counseling! Guys always chuckle about the old saying, “Happy wife, happy life,” but it’s true. When we focus on her pleasure, our own lives are more love-filled. Jesus not only guides us, he comforts us—especially during the difficult stretches. Whether we are in recovery over addictions, or we are struggling to love difficult people, Jesus says his spirit will strengthen us, so we can meet the challenges, and not falter. Perhaps the most dramatic example is the first Christian martyr, Stephen. As he is being stoned to death, he declares that he sees Jesus. If God can comfort us in the midst of a violent death he can comfort us at any time! Another beautiful promise in the Psalms is that God will vindicate us before our enemies. We must not seek revenge, because God will avenge us. So, we show kindness to our enemies. If they repent, they’ll owe us gratitude for all eternity. Otherwise, God will take care of the ones who come against his children. A great example is Jonah. He hated his enemies, the people of Nineveh. Nevertheless, he obeys God, and goes through the city, telling them God will destroy them. They repent, and God spares the city of 100,000 for three generations. This means that nearly 300,000 people will thank Jonah, who hated them, for saving their souls! Finally, David tells us that God will never abandon us. In John 14:18 Jesus says: I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. So many of us know abandonment—most often by fathers, but sometimes by spouses, or other loved ones. God is the good-good father. He was the original father, before Adam and Eve ever conceived children. Similarly, even as Jesus was leaving the earth, he promised the Holy Spirit would come to be with us forever. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus says he will always be with us. We are no longer alone—we are reconciled to God Almighty! With God as my Shepherd, I know I am safe, I am loved, I am strengthened, and I am useful. Thank you Lord for being my shepherd. Thank you for having my back! To view a video presentation of this message see: https://www.facebook.com/pg/anglelakechurch/videos/ , click on the 08/13/2017 service. The message starts at 56:00.
Hello again... I'm really in a bit of a jam here and I really need an answer... Basically, last night, I was feeling strong temptation in my mind to sin, but I resisted it. But as I went to bed, I still felt it strongly. So I prayed earnestly to please have it removed. I prayed for 5-10 minutes for this thing, and I had faith that the Lord could and would help me. But... I received no help... And I do not know why. It's been said numerous times that sometimes we have a delayed response to our prayers. It is also said that if our desires do not align with God's, we will not receive what we ask for. (Most of the time. The other times being when Heavenly Father wishes to teach us something.) I understand all that... But my desires were clearly righteous... I do not understand why Heavenly Father would leave me to my temptations when it is also clearly stated over and over to pray so you may receive strength to resist temptation. I feel kind of abandoned here... Did Heavenly Father wish me to pray more? Was I doing something wrong? I just don't know...
Prayer to Honor Veterans Preparatory comments: In the Old Testament book of Joshua (1:9) we read God’s charge to the people of Israel, who were about to face many battles, as they entered the Promised Land: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." And then, in the New Testament book of John (15:13), Jesus offers a bit of wisdom that ought to shine honor on every veteran. He said: Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. Let us pray: LORD, the military personnel serving today, and those veterans we honor on this day, they have been—and are—strong and courageous. They have loved, not only their friends, but their country—and even those our nation seeks to protect in far-away lands. Because our veterans and military pledge and risk their lives—because they love so sacrificially—we honor them today. They may not seek public accolades. They may not even fully recognize just how much they gave and risked. You do. You see all. So, honor our veterans today: First, by protecting our men and woman who continue to serve in dangerous places today. Then, by providing blessing to our veterans. Bring peace to their hearts and minds. Drive away all anxiety and distress. Provide for their families. Heal their bodies. And, would you plant within them a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction? Military service is never clean, neat and easy. Pain, frustration, and uncertainty are abundant. Heal all of that—and bestow upon our veterans honor—honor for all they risked, and for signing up to defend us when they did not have to. GOD, honor our veterans today … In Your most holy name, amen.
It's been a while since I've posted, but I have good memories of my time here. What I remember best is how knowledgeable and supportive the regulars are. That's why I'm here today. I could use some of both. Bit of background: I was sexually abused as a child, which led to a sexual addiction when I got older. About four years ago, I got therapy. It helped a lot, as did my time on these forums. I learned to separate healthy relationships and desires from unhealthy ones. My husband was also sexually abused. He went the other direction. He completely closed off (we've since learned it's called sexual anorexia). It's gotten progressively worse over the years, until he can barely stomach any sexual contact. He is afraid to get help; his way of dealing with stress is to ignore the problem. I've really been struggling lately with severe longings for sexual intimacy. We've talked about it several times, and he's very apologetic, but he just...can't do it. He knows he should get help, but he can't make himself and I can't (and shouldn't) force him to. Enter the problem: I shared my issues with a close friend who has a similar problem, and he asked me to sleep with him. I told him no. He wouldn't let it go though. I cut off communication with him, but before I did, he told me I could go to him anytime. I know he's there and willing, and the temptation has been nearly overwhelming the past month. I'm not looking to justify giving in. I won't. I refuse to give into Satan. I'm not looking for advice like "divorce your husband." It's not his fault. I love him and covenanted to be his wife for eternity, no matter how hard it got. I've spoken to the bishop, but he didn't know what to tell me. He said he'd pray about it. That was three weeks ago. In answer to my prayers for help and strength, I was prompted to seek outside myself. So here I am :) What I need is loving support and advice on how to stay strong. Thank you!!!