COVID Counsel #3

Keep Your Eyes on the One Who Walked on Water

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.


Refrain:
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,

Count your many blessings, see what God has done.


So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;

Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

These lyrics written in 1897 by Johnson Oatman, Jr., came to my mind Monday morning as I sang along with the instrumental version playing through Alexa. The bold lines struck a chord in my heart.

Indeed, COVID has been one of “life’s billows” (a great wave or surge of water) that has tossed us in so many directions that we have been or are today tempted to be “discouraged, thinking all is lost.” How interesting our minds and deceitful hearts (Jeremiah 17:9) work at moments like these.

The battle is not with COVID but with our thinking.

Is all really lost? Note the phrase, “thinking all is lost.” Is that true? What does God’s Word say about COVID or any circumstance of life?

The songwriter got it right when he said, “So amid the conflict whether great or small, do not be discouraged, God is over all.” That is absolute, eternal truth!

Colossians 1:16–17 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.

Job 42:2 I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

Ephesians 4:4-6 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Psalm 97:9 For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods.

Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.

So, today, do not listen to your thoughts but think His thoughts. Do not listen to yourself; preach the Truth to yourself.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,

Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

Count Your Blessings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=FZECFq4BvRQ

A Husband’s Discipling Leadership

Husband! Your wife needs you!!

How does she need you? She is crying out for you to be her loving, servant leader! And, if you have sons, they really need dad to lead in the home!

How many times I have seen the wife leading the home or the husband wanting to lead the home but the wife won’t let him or the husband refusing to “step up to the plate” and lead.

Could it be that you are making decisions all day at work, and you are weary of fulfilling that role when you get home? Perhaps you came from a home where loving, servant leadership was not on display. Maybe, you would admit that you really don’t know how to lead.

May I offer some suggestions, some help?

The best way for a man to lead his wife is through a discipling model. What does that look like?

  1. Lead your wife in prayer. More than being the leader in prayer for your meals, Pray with her in the morning before you leave for work. Pray with her at the moment she shares a burden with you. Pray with her over the phone when she is away visiting family, attending a ladies’ event or just from the office. Share your prayer burdens as well as your answers to prayer with her. Hold hands and pray with her every night before drifting off to sleep. The greatest place you could ever go with your wife is to the Throne of Grace together in prayer (Psalm 16:8; Hebrews 4:16).
  2. Lead your wife in the Word of God. As you read and study the Word, be sure to share with your wife what God has been teaching you. You could read a devotional book together in the morning before you head off for work. If your departure time is before she gets up, then call her on your first break and read the devo on the phone or read a portion of God’s Word on the phone and discuss it. Take your wife to church every Sunday so she can hear the Word preached. Read a good book together. Make sure she attends a ladies’ conference periodically to be refreshed, revived, and encouraged in her walk with God. Participate in a small group Bible study. Even if you wife has been a believer longer than you have, she needs you to lead her spiritually. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body (Ephesians 5:25-30).

Wives, may I say, let your husband lead. Encourage him. Build him up. Even if he doesn’t do it the way you think he should, be thankful for any advancement. Sometimes this is just rough territory for a man. Pray earnestly for him and love him! Trust a sovereign, omnipotent God to do His work in your husband’s heart. Remember, try as you may, you cannot change him. (If your husband does lead in your home, rejoice, encourage him, keep praying for him, follow him and be his biggest cheerleader!)

More on this discipling leadership in another post to come. In the meantime, may you both surrender to Christ working through you to accomplish His plan and purpose in your marriage. Because the tomb is empty, you have hope!

COVID COUNSEL #2

We are all effected by COVID-19 in one way or another.

This past week while preparing for Sunday’s message from 2 Timothy 2:11-19, a key word in the last verse stood out as a source of needed counsel for my own heart and mind. It is a word that is greatly needed for all of us in the midst of COVID. It is a word that Asaph used so poignantly as recorded in Psalm 7323. The word . . . nevertheless.

Paul reminds Timothy that in the midst of dealing with false teachers in the church at Ephesus as well as their error and leading some astray, Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”

Asaph, dealing with the doubts and struggles within his own heart, comes to preach the truth to himself and says, Thus my heart was grieved, and I was vexed in my mind. I was so foolish and ignorant; I was like a beast before You. Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory (Psalm 73:21-24).

In Sunday’s message from 2 Timothy 2, I shared a quote that I hope will encourage and help you in the midst of how you are being effected by COVID.

The Lord says to us, “Nevertheless.”
Do false teachers seem to abound? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Are perilous times upon us? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Do we fear for the future? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Are we worried for our children’s safety? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Do we wonder how the church will survive? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Do we see some falling away from the faith? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Are we tempted to despair? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Could persecution come to us? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Do evildoers rise to power? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”

Ray Pritchard; The Life God Blesses

Today, would you let the Lord’s “nevertheless” counsel your heart?

Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His” (2 Timothy 2:19).

COVID COUNSEL

Many years ago, I heard a preacher say, “You wouldn’t say it out loud, but you probably think you are the most intelligent creature on the planet. Why? Because you listen to yourself more than anyone else.” By the way, do you ever have a conversation with yourself or with someone else in your mind?

This preacher went on to say something very needful. “Instead of listening to yourself, you need to preach to yourself! You must preach the Truth to yourself!”

David does this in Psalm 42:5, 11 and 43:5.

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
For the help of His countenance.

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.

For sure, COVID and 2020 has been filled with inconsistencies, false information, cancellations, deaths, life-altering illnesses, disappointments, fear, anxiety, abrupt changes, and unfulfilled plans and expectations.

Where do you run? Where do you hide? Where do you find rest for your weary soul? Where do you find strength to take the next step, to live the next day? The answer is found in the aforementioned scripture passages. Read and meditate on what David is saying. Put yourself in the passage. Preach the truth to yourself. Do not listen to yourself, your doubts, your confusion, your pain, your sorrow, your fears, etc.

The help of His countenance (42:5) will always be the help of my countenance (42:11; 43:5) as I hope in my God and praise my God while preaching the truth to myself. Counsel your heart.

A Song of Praise & Thanksgiving!

I will extol You, my God, O King; And I will bless Your name forever and ever. 2 Every day I will bless You, And I will praise Your name forever and ever. 3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; And His greatness is unsearchable. 4 One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts. 5 I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, And on Your wondrous works. 6 Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts, And I will declare Your greatness. 7 They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness, And shall sing of Your righteousness. 8 The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy. 9 The Lord is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works. 10 All Your works shall praise You, O Lord, And Your saints shall bless You. 11 They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom, And talk of Your power, 12 To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, And the glorious majesty of His kingdom. 13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And Your dominion endures throughout all generations. 14 The Lord upholds all who fall, And raises up all who are bowed down. 15 The eyes of all look expectantly to You, And You give them their food in due season. 16 You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. 17 The Lord is righteous in all His ways, Gracious in all His works. 18 The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. 19 He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them. 20 The Lord preserves all who love Him, But all the wicked He will destroy. 21 My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord, And all flesh shall bless His holy name Forever and ever. (Psalm 145)

May today and all your tomorrows be filled with praise and thanksgiving to God through our Lord Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit!! He alone is worthy of our praise and thanksgiving!!

As Bob Landis says so often, “Give Him praise!!!”

Grateful or Grumbling

Yesterday while driving through a nearby city I saw the following on a church sign:

Humbly Grateful or Hateful Grumbling

This is a choice.

Everyday of our lives and every moment of each day, we choose to be consumed with God or self. There is no other choice; no “in-between” choice.

To be humbly grateful in its truest sense and action begins and ends with God; His attributes and His works! If its hateful grumbling, then the focus is solely on self.

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. (1 Chronicles 29:11)

There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. (Psalm 86:8-10)

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. (Psalm 145:3)

He 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. (Colossians 1:15-17)

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:16-17)

Paul David Tripp says it this way. “Every awesome thing in creation is designed to point you to the One who alone is worthy of capturing and controlling the awe of your searching and hungry heart” (Awe: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and Do).

As you approach Thursday, stop for a moment and ask yourself, “Am I humbly grateful to God alone?” “Is my thanksgiving submissively and joyously Godward or is it based upon life going my way?” “Is my hungry heart satisfied because of Who and What God is?”

The answers to the these questions is always revealed by my humble gratitude enabled only by God’s grace or my hateful grumbling enabled by my sinful, selfish heart.

“If praise is celebrating God’s awesome glory, then complaint is antipraise.” (Paul David Tripp)

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! (Psalm 150:6)

So Much!

Wow! What a year!

Something I frequently hear is, “I’ll be glad when 2021 rolls around, and we can get beyond COVID!” or “I am ready for this thing to be over!”

So, let’s say that COVID with its mandates and masks were gone tomorrow, what would you do? What would be different about your life?

Truth is, once that trial and the inconveniences of COVID were removed, another trial would be on its heels.

So, no matter what today holds, we have SO MUCH to be thankful for in comparison to all “the bad,” especially if you are a true born again believer!

This past Sunday in our morning gathering, we sang the old song, “Count Your Many Blessings.” Consider the lyrics:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

2
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.
3
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold.
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your Lord on high.
4
So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

How about counting your blessings today? Share them with others. Don’t get caught up in the negative, critical discussions. Be a light that points others to the Theme of themes, the Giver of the Greatest Gift, the Way, the Truth and the Life! God will even give you the grace to rejoice and be thankful (2 Corinthians 9:8; Philippians 4:13).

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6)

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations. (Psalm 100:4-5)

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Start counting! You will be surprised at so much!!

Abounding With Thanksgiving

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding with thanksgiving (Colossians 2:6-7).

The most grateful people on the planet should be everyone who has received Christ Jesus the Lord for salvation! Through His work on the cross (Isaiah 53:3-11), His bodily resurrection from the tomb (1 Corinthians 15:1-8, 12-20), and the gift of saving grace and faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), we have been made eternally secure in Christ (Romans 5:1-11; Ephesians 1:13-14), rooted in Him and established in the faith (Colossians 2:6) and delivered from the wrath of God and hell (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10). The abundant gift of salvation in Christ alone is the ground for abounding thankfulness.

As you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18), your eyes are opened more and more to all of who Christ is and to all we have in Christ! At each discovery, your heart overflows with abundant thanksgiving and your lips speak forth His praise!!

As we try to move our thoughts away from a very different and difficult year to this week of thanksgiving, may your heart be turned to the One Who is totally worthy of our praise and gratitude! May your heart abound with thanksgiving!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 3-5)

Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! (Psalm 103:1)

Marriage Moment #5

It happens in the midst of a crowd, while driving down the road, during small group Bible studies, or just sitting across from each other in the family room or a restaurant.

What is it? What happens? What is that moment?

It’s when we look at each other and make sincere, intentional eye contact.

When we were dating, folks might say we were looking “googly eyed” at one another! Well, you are right. Just as Google is the internet information highway, a look into my wife’s eyes was and continues to be full of loving, adoring, caring information on the highway of romance and relationship!

King Solomon says it well as he speaks adoringly to his bride. You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes (Song of Solomon 4:9).

When was the last time your heart was captivated by one look from your spouse? Perhaps your “gazing” marriage moments are captivated by your crazy busy schedule or by the demands of your children or by your full attention to your smartphone or by drooling over your new truck or by something else that has seized your heart.

If that moment of an adoring gaze is few and far between, then start today to do something about it. Take your spouse into your embrace, look into their eyes with a heart full of love and a sparkle in your eye? Share words of love and appreciation and then a prolonged kiss.

May your spouse say as Solomon, you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes (Song of Solomon 4:9).

What a moment!!

Finish Well – Part 2

Men, if the Lord permits us to live into our senior years, there is the need to finish well in life. As I noted in my first post, there are many blessings to being a male senior citizen, but there are things that can cause us heartache, disappointment, grief, frustration, disqualification as well as loss of testimony (1 Thessalonians 4:1-12) and reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Corinthians 3).

The first of three areas needed to finish well as a man is to be sure that Christ is our life. Second, . . . cherish your wife.

One of the saddest things I have witnessed over the years is married couples who are just existing in their relationship. Watch older couples at the restaurant; communication is at a bare minimum, perhaps a grunt now-and-then. The romance is gone, the spark is very dim, and the distance is long.

Yet, one of the sweetest things I have seen over the years is a marriage that continues to thrive well into 40, 50, 60, 70 plus years of walking together as one (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:8; Ephesians 5:31).

A particular couple I know have been married for 53 years, and he still looks adoringly at her from across the room or the table. He continues to use his affectionate nickname for her. They many times act like newlyweds. He even sings to her with his guitar.

Another couple that comes to mind have been married 65 years, and a recent separation between them due to a health scare has created a much closer bond between these two “love-birds.” They hold hands while seated side-by-side on the couch. He hardly lets his wife out of his sight. He serves her every chance he gets. Kissing is still very much in vogue. The spark is still ignited!

How do you cherish your wife?

  1. Pray often with her and for her. If the vertical relationship with God stays fresh, it will certainly enhance the horizontal relationship with your wife.
  2. Live your married life for the glory of God as a first priority (Genesis 1:27; 1 Corinthians 10:31).
  3. Your wife is not your enemy but your dearest friend (Ephesians 6:12).
  4. Spend time with other married couples whose marriages are flourishing (Proverbs 27:17).
  5. Although loss of hearing and/or sight may attribute to isolationism, fight it. Continue to chat, laugh, and be together! Proverbs 5:18 is still in the Bible, Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.
  6. As a man, be gracious. Don’t be an old grump complaining about everything and being against everything, even wishing for the “good old days.” Be a delight to your wife and to all those around you. But as for you, O man of God, . . . pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11). Allow the Holy Spirit to produce the Christlife in you of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
  7. Lead your wife closer to Christ through discipleship as you permit Him to shepherd you (Psalm 23; 2 Timothy 2:2; Ephesians 5:25).
  8. Show affection to your wife by holding hands, kissing, sitting together, complimenting her looks or the way she is dressed.
  9. Act like you never stopped dating!
  10. Laugh a lot! In these years, you just can’t take yourself seriously!! 🙂

Men, even in these senior years, cherish your wife!

Finish well
Every day that we are given
Finish well
For the glory of His name
Finish strong
Until the Savior finally calls us home
Give it everything we have
Finish well every day that
We are given
Finish well
For the glory of His name
Finish well