Is it true that everything happens for a reason?

Question: “Is it true that everything happens for a reason?”

Answer: Does everything happen for a reason? The short answer is “yes”; because God is sovereign, there are no random, out-of-control happenings. God’s purposes may be hidden from us, but we can be assured that every event has a reason behind it…

Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/everything-happens-for-reason.html

Devotional Thought for Today – 05/04/2021

14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

2 Chronicles 7

As always context is here is so important. The immediate context of v.14 tells us that King Solomon has finished the Temple and the fact that God will send judgment upon the land in the form of drought, locusts, or pestilence for their disobedience. God hears Solomon’s prayer but gives him this dire warning of the consequences of continued rebellion, v.12-14.

God’s promise of restoration v.14, is offset with ongoing warnings in verses 19-22 for abandoning the law, seeking and worshipping false idols. The consequences of which are so grave, that not only will the temple be forsaken but the people of Israel will be ridiculed among the nations; I will cast this house, which I have consecrated for My Name, out of My sight, and will make it a proverb and an object of scorn among all nations (AMP).

So the question becomes can this text be rightly applied to America today?

My answer is yes, under certain very specific parameters:

  • If my people,NO, we are not as a nation God’s chosen people, No, we were not founded as a Christian Nation (I would be happy to discuss this), Yes, we were however clearly founded upon Judeo- Christian principles, that we as a nation have forsaken.
  • which are called by my name, – God does not call all citizens of America His children as were the those of the Nation of Israel. However, Pew Research as of 2019 shows 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christians. That is 213.2 million Americans.
  • shall humble themselves, The first requirement for Israel back in the time of Solomen and for America today is proclaiming for Christians must humble themselves all other actions fall short.
  • and pray, and seek my face, – Next, Christians need to be in an attitude and altitude of prayer. Just as God told Solomon here, the only way one can hope to forestall the Lord’s righteous judgment is to earnestly seek Him in prayer.
  • and turn from their wicked ways; – Finally, we must Repent, obviously for our own sins of commission and omission, but also for the sins of the nation as a whole.
  • then will I hear from heaven, – God promises to hear the prayers of the righteous.
  • and will forgive their sin, – God promises to forgive the sins of the truly repentant.
  • and will heal their land. – God promised to heal the land of Israel, but as we know from history they were overrun many times and still to this day live in turmoil. Here in America are praying for revival, for the end to abortion, for the destruction of anti-Christian enemies, etc. I pray more “Christians” would Humble, Seek, Pray and Repent before the Sovereign God of all creation. Imagine if all 213.2 Million had the same goal to Make America MORAL Again.

Are We Praying?

Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary on the Bible

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Repentance According to the Scriptures: 2 Chronicles 7:14 …

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/29/2021

I woke up this morning and MHM of Prayer below was in my inbox. It led to this devotional, this one verse, in my opinion, is sufficient evidence to refute anyone who says we do not need the Old Testament. Here the Lord Himself says those Scriptures directly point the way to Him, and that is reason enough to study them.

1. The Big Picture - Jesus
https://images.app.goo.gl/ULQQ1hcaboSTUMhx9

JOHN 5

In chapters 1-4 of John’s Gospel Jesus was sort of low key avoiding any public display or controversy. Here however He starts off v.1-17 with a bang (Miracle) by healing an invalid near the Bethesda pool, on the Sabbath.

If that was not enough to upset the apple cart (ruling class Jews), when they challenge Jesus under what authority He has to heal someone on the Sabbath His response is even more controversial. Instead of a simple answer, Jesus says all His authority has been given to Him by God the Father and He is equal with God the Father v.18-24.

Jesus then lays out four (4) reasons why HE has this authority, v.25-32 the coming resurrection, v.33-35, the testimony of John the Baptist, v.36, the testimony of His works, v.37-38, the testimony of the Father, and finally v.39-47, the testimony of Scripture.

Look at v.38, Jesus says to the local religious leaders, you have God’s word in front of you but not in you. He then goes on to our text for today, [h]You search and keep on searching and examining the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and yet it is those [very Scriptures] that testify about Me; (AMP).

It may sound funny but all I kept thinking or hearing in my head was that old country song Looking for love in all the wrong places. Just like the fool who can’t find his true love because he won’t look in the right place, these religious leaders search scripture looking for a King and Leader but not the Messiah before them.

In Jesus’ day, there was more “proof” of His deity than we have today in the sense that Jesus was physically there performing miracles and still He was denied and crucified. That is the problem, then and today as folks want individual proof, just because 2+2=4 does not mean I have to believe it, you have to prove it to me personally.

NO! God does not have to prove anything. He owes us nothing and we owe him everything. It’s abDevotional Thought for Today – 04/29/2021out Jesus, not us. We need to read the scripture from that point of view, we need to worship in church with that mindset, and not the want can I get out of it. Focus on Christ and the Holy Spirit will handle the rest.


Praying through John 5:39
Heavenly Father, thank You for the inspired scriptures, which point us to Christ. May we read them with understanding and be guided into all truth by Your Holy Spirit. Keep me from seeking to add to Your finished work of Calvary, through my own works of the flesh.. knowing that eternal life is only to be found by faith in Christ alone and that I am only accepted by You because I am ‘in Christ,’ and not because of anything that I could do. Praise His holy name and draw me closer to Jesus day by day – in Whose name I pray, AMEN.

Source: https://prayer.knowing-jesus.com/John/5/39


Matthew Henry's Method for Prayer

Thank God for the Scriptures

For the writing of the Scriptures and the preserving of them pure and entire to this day.

We thank you that we have the Scriptures to search, and that in them we have eternal life, for it is they that bear witness about Christ; John 5:39(ESV) and that all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16(ESV)

That whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope; Romans 15:4(ESV) and that we have this sure prophetic word, as a lamp shining in a dark place. 2 Peter 1:19(ESV)

That the vision has not become to us like the words of a book that is sealed, Isaiah 29:11(ESV) but that we hear in our own tongue the mighty works of God. Acts 2:11(ESV)

We thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that the things which you have hidden from the wise and understanding and which many prophets and kings desired to see but did not, 1 Peter 1:10(ESV) are revealed to us little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. Luke 10:21(ESV)

Sunday Sermon Series – The Mute Christian

Psalm 39

CONTEXT

Matthew Henry’s Commentary reads: David seems to have been in a great strait when he penned this psalm, and, upon some account or other, very uneasy; for it is with some difficulty that he conquers his passion, and composes his spirit himself to take that good counsel which he had given to others (Ps. 37) to rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him, without fretting; for it is easier to give the good advice than to give a good example of quietness under affliction. What was the particular trouble which gave occasion for the conflict David was now in does not appear. Perhaps it was the death of some dear friend or relation that was the trial of his patience, and that suggested to him these meditations of morality; and at the same time, it should seem too, he himself was weak and ill, and under some prevailing distemper. His enemies likewise were seeking advantages against him, and watched for his halting, that they might have something to reproach him for. Thus aggrieved,

  • I. He relates the struggle that was in his breast between grace and corruption, between passion and patience (v. 1-3).
  • II. He meditates upon the doctrine of man’s frailty and mortality and prays to God to instruct him in it (v. 4-6).
  • III. He applies to God for the pardon of his sins, the removal of his afflictions, and the lengthening out of his life till he was ready for death (v. 7-13).

C.H. Spurgeon in his masterful work The Treasury of David comments on this verse as follows:

I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it. This had been far clearer if it had been rendered, “I am silenced, I will not open my mouth.” Here we have a nobler silence, purged of all sullenness, and sweetened with submission. Nature failed to muzzle the mouth, but grace achieved the work in the worthiest manner. How like in appearance may two very different things appear! silence is ever silence, but it may be sinful in one case and saintly in another. What a reason for hushing every murmuring thought is the reflection, “because thou didst it.”! It is his right to do as he wills, and he always wills to do that which is wisest and kindest; why should I then arraign his dealings? Nay, if it be indeed the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.


I often wonder at how my mind works. I was reading some of the daily devotionals that come in my email this morning, Romans 10:9-10, and that got me thinking about how sometimes even true believers feel like they have been abandoned by God. Maybe it is because of the devotional series on Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying that I have been writing?

This Psalm exemplifies that struggle (at least to me) knowing in our heart that God is sovereign, controlling all for our good, yet our minds saying He has forsaken us. The following from Thomas Brooks is a classic on the subject. I pray it edifies you greatly.

SERMON

“Mute Christian under the Smarting Rod” or,
“The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes”

by Thomas Brooks, 1659, London.

Objection 8. Oh! But God has deserted me! He has forsaken me! He who should comfort my soul—stands afar off! How can I be silent? The Lord has hid his face away from me; clouds are gathered around me; God has turned his back upon me! How can I be silent?

Supposing that the desertion is real, and not in appearance only, as sometimes it falls out—I answer…

Continued at Source: https://www.gracegems.org/Brooks/mute_christian4.htm

Sunday Sermon Series – The Man of Sorrows and Grief

Logos.com

Isaiah 53

The Suffering Messiah or Servant is the Major theme of Chapter three. Matthew Henry divides it this way: The person. (1-3) sufferings. (4-9) humiliation, and exaltation of Christ, are minutely described; with the blessings to mankind from his death. (10-12)

In keeping with our ongoing Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series, the above artwork was in my inbox this morning and of course, just begged to be today’s feature sermon.

Last Sunday, we returned to Lakeshore Baptist Church, Pastor Don Elborne preached a sermon from 1 Peter 2:24 & Galatians 2:20, entitled;  “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?”. In it, he reminded us of the old Black spiritual of the same name. If you have never heard it, here is the 1899 version (v.1-4), the oldest known written copy as passed down and likely the closest to the original.

1 Were you there when they crucified my Lord? (were you there?)
Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Oh!
Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

2 Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree? (to the tree?) Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree? Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?

3 Were you there when they pierced Him in the side? (in the side?) Were you there when they pierced Him in the side? Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when they pierced Him in the side?

4 Were you there when the sun refused to shine? (were you there?) Were you there when the sun refused to shine? Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when the sun refused to shine?

5 Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb? Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb? Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb? * Added around 1907

6 Were you there when he rose from out the tomb? Were you there when he rose from out the tomb? O–sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble;
Were you there when he rose from out the tomb? * Added around 1950s

No one suffered or grieved on earth more than Christ Jesus. Man cannot even begin to comprehend the weight of all sins bearing down upon him. The inability to grasp this should not deter in fact it should sour us to think about it frequently.


Sermon

The Man of Sorrows

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, March 1, 1873,

Scripture: Isaiah 53:3

From: Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Volume 19


Other Resources:

Surely He Has Borne Our Griefs, John Piper

“Acquainted With Grief”, Oswald Chambers

Why is Jesus referred to as a man of sorrows in Isaiah 53:3

Made Righteous In HIM!

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/08/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part – VII

Palliative Care Icon , Free Transparent Clipart - ClipartKey

Today’s post will be short because Entergy is about to cut the power to my neighborhood. They announced it yesterday as routine maintenance. We will pick it back up tomorrow (hopefully) when the power is restored.

Being grateful for your Grief may seem like an illogical ideal but we have some Biblical examples. Job and Paul come to mind. Paul is sitting in jail in Rome and in Philippians 3:12-16 writes I do not dwell on the things of the past but reach toward what lies ahead.

No words can express how much the world owes to sorrow. Most of the Psalms were born in the wilderness. Most of the Epistles were written in a prison. The greatest thoughts of the greatest thinkers have all passed through fire. The greatest poets have “learned in suffering what they taught in song.” In bonds, Bunyan lived the allegory that he afterwards wrote, and we may thank Bedford Jail for the Pilgrim’s Progress. Take comfort, afflicted Christian! When God is about to make pre-eminent use of a person, He puts them in the fire.

George MacDonald

Here are two articles I found helpful in this area:

Gratitude and Grief

Grief and Grace

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/06/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part V

Palliative Care Icon , Free Transparent Clipart - ClipartKey

Today we continue our series by looking at the third stage of the 5 Stages of GriefBargaining.

Everytime I think of someone trying to bargain with someone, (I am speaking under duress of some sort) two things come to mind (neither advantageous), first is the legend of Robert Johnson the famous blues artist of the 1920-30’s. The story goes he made a bargain with the devil at the Crossroads of Hwy 49 and 61 here in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He fame and fortune were short live however as he died young in 1938. The second is folks who want to play let’s make a deal with God. Jewish talk show host Dennis Prager addresses the issue of deal-making in his book Think a Second Time:

I have come to realize that many religious people, of all faiths, believe that they should be able to avoid the calamities that afflict the less pious. They believe, in effect, that they can make a deal with God — ‘I’ll do what You want so that You do what I want.’

It should be apparent that both of these example do not have a “happy or expected ending.” This problem in both is selfishness. The person is asking for a self centered goal, I want because I want, or I am entitled to it and you shouldn;t withhold it from me.

In our study we need to remember a couple things. First Not everyone goes through all stages, or in the exact order. Yet Bargaining really does naturally follow Anger. Once the anger has begun to subsided we tend to try and work out solutions, anything to alleviate the pain we are in or anticipating, even if they may not be the most rational at the moment. It begins with trying to figure out how one could have and should have done things better and usually ends up with statements like:

  • ‘heal this person God and I will change my life around’
  • ‘I promise to be be good if you just let ____ live’
  • ‘I will get the counseling I need if you can stop him/her from dying or leaving me’

It is important to note that folks are feeling helpless both emotionally and physically and we can cause more harm than good if we approach this wrong.

Biblically the question has always been can we bargain with God? My answer is, Yes and No, which is probably not what you expected or wanted to hear. So let me give you some examples that seem to indicate we can bargain with God:

  • Abraham, in Gen. 18:16-33, when he pleads with the Lord over the fate of Sodom
  • Jacob, in Gen. 28:20-22, Jacob make a vow to God concerning finding a wife
  • Jephthah, in Judges 11:30-32, The Amorites have said no to peace so Jephthah made a vow to the LORD: ‘If you give the Ammonites into my hands…
  • Hannah, in 1 Samuel 1:11, Hannah is barren and made a vow, saying, “O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will…

If we look at each of the above scripture it would appear that these individuals struck a bargain with God, for God fulfilled their requests. All these folks had one thing in common they were desperate and seemingly had nowhere else to turn. Yet to imply they “Bargained” with God is to say they held a Low View of God. Which their stories reveal to be false.

For He has not despised nor detested the suffering of the afflicted;

Nor has He hidden His face from him;

But when he cried to Him for help, He listened.

PS 22:24

So how does this apply to Chaplains and Ministers dealing with grieving folks? First we need to encourage them to pray. We need to encourage them to pray in the right manner. Encouraging them to pray in a manner that Bargains or Negotiates with God is wrong. Praying to God for comfort, clarity, healing, etc. assumes He is sovereign over all things. It is not about making a trade it is about putting God’s will first. Now, caution here I am in no way suggesting shoving doctrine or theology down some grieving souls throat. I am encouraging Chaplains/Ministers to guide them (provide that care, comfort and COUNCEL) in praying correctly.

Okay, I hope you can see why I said Yes and No, while seemingly “bargaining” with God. Since God is in control of all things, He wants us to, and expects us to intercede, on behalf of others and even ourselves. This is where we can be most effective, when grief has no voice as I said yesterday, is can become malignant, our job as I see it (care, comfort and counsel) is to guide them (again for the short time they are usually with us) through the grief process. Here in the Bargaining Stage guiding them to “righteous bargaining” or properly put intercession.


How to Deal With Negative Emotions and Stress

How Do Christians Deal With Stress?

How to Overcome Negative Emotions and Feelings

Sunday Sermon Series – Resurrection of Christ

He Is Risen Illustration Free Stock Photo - Public Domain Pictures
https://images.app.goo.gl/iGTNYL4CtYdb17C39

Whether you call it Easter or Resurrection Sunday is not the crux of the matter. Today we celebrate our Risen Savior, Christ Jesus. There would be no other reason to celebrate this or any other day if He were not Alive. Whom do you celebrate and serve today?

Philippians 3:20-21

SERMON

Philippians 3:20-21 – The Power of Christ Illustrated by the Resurrection by C.H. Spurgeon

Other Resources:

The God of Peace Brought from the Dead the Good Shepherd by John Piper

Evidence for the Resurrection by Josh McDowell

Devotional Thought for Today – 03/30/2021

Logos.com

Proverbs 15

Like all the wisdom books; Ecclesiastes, Job, Psalms, and, Song of Songs, the end goal of the Book of Proverbs is to demonstrate God knows best. His course of action(s) is always far superior to men.

Proverbs however goes about it a little differently, Job for example shows us wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice, while Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience.  Proverbs gives us short simple comparisons or contrasts usually between good and evil.

Our text for today, v.3, is a little different, it is a clear and definitive statement regarding the Sovereignty of God.

  • God sees, eyes of the Lord, therefore, knows everything – omniscient – Hebrews 4:13
  • God is everywhere, are in every place – omnipresent – Jeremiah 23:23
  • God stands guard over all creation, keeping watch on the evil and the good – Omnipotent – Jeremiah 23:24

Man can try an fool himself into thinking he knows best, but it is nothing more than lying to ones self. God and God alone is the true judge of “good and evil” He has set forth His moral law and all those who refuse to follow it, (Think Abortion, LBGTQ, Evolution, Etc.) will one day answer to Him.

The “Good News” is that all who repent and have Christ as Lord of their lives reap the reward of eternal life in the kingdom glory.

Today’s Prayer

Lord, help me to walk in Your light, understanding that most of mankind will refuse Your grace and mercy. Help me to always show them that self same grace and mercy. Help me to trust in Your Sovereignty, and no my ways, knowing Yours are always better. I pray for wisdom and knowledge to be a warrior for Your Kingdom and its glory. – Amen

Devotional Thought for Today – 03/29/2021

What Does Deuteronomy 6:4 Mean?
https://images.app.goo.gl/87trm6vfkMdj5kWMA

Deuteronomy 6

As always some context is required with our main text v.4. In the previous chapter, God has made a covenant promise with His people and the 10 Commandments are delivered through Moses.

Chapter 6 can be broken down as follows: A persuasive to obedience. (1-3) An exhortation to obedience. (4,5) Obedience taught. (6-16) General precepts, Instructions to be given to their children. (17-25) – Matthew Henry

Our text obviously come from the second part an exhortation to obedience:

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.[a] And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.

I do not usually quote from the NLT but in this case, I like its rendering over most others for a couple of reasons. First where it says … the Lord alone it is making a definitive statement there can be no other God but Jehovah. Second, in verse 5, where most translations render You shall love, the NLT renders it

you must love again nothing passive or suggestive about it.

Not only the Jews by birth but all those who were grafted into the nation of Israel sounds like the New Testament Gospel message were to acknowledge God’s sovereignty and love Him unconditionally.

Hawker’s Poor Man’s Commentary

What a blessed verse is this, which folds within its short, but mighty contents, the foundation of all our faith. Our GOD, though existing in a manner totally distinct from all his creatures in a threefold character of Person, is but one and the same JEHOVAH. For, as the apostle beautifully represents it, There are Three that bear record in heaven; the FATHER, the WORD, and the HOLY GHOST yet these three are but one. I would beg the Reader to remark with me, that though the verse be but short, yet no less than three times is the glorious name of JEHOVAH repeated in it. May we not suppose, that the very design of this was to convey the glorious truth of a threefold character of Persons in the divine unity? Happy the soul who hath an evidence in his own breast of the truth of this; in being enabled there to trace the tokens of the FATHER’s love, and the Redeemer’s grace, and the SPIRIT’s fellowship. I detain the Reader only to make a short observation more upon this precious Verse, and to ask him, whether the manner in which Moses calls upon Israel to attend to this leading truth, that our GOD is but one LORD, doth not carry with it a testimony, that as the people had been accustomed to receive tokens of a plurality of persons in the GODHEAD, they were not to lose sight, at the same time, of the unity of the divine essence. 1 John 5:7.

Today’s Prayer

Heavenly Father, You alone are worthy of our praise and worship.. for You alone are the true and living God. What amazing grace You have shown to me, and the entire human race, that Your love for us is so great.. that You would send Your only begotten, Son to die for our sin. No matter what it takes, I pray that I may learn to love You with all my heart, and soul, and mind, and strength – and with every fiber of my being, knowing, that it is only as I die to self and live for Christ, that Your love may be manifested in me Praise Your holy name for You alone are worthy of our worship, in Jesus name we pray, AMEN.

Modified from Source: https://prayer.knowing-jesus.com/Deuteronomy/6