Good Friday morning ...

Let me tell you a secret. It’s not really a secret. But it’s something that we often forget.

Wherever you are going tomorrow, next week, or next year … God is ALREADY there! It doesn’t matter if you’re going to work, to school, to the hospital or on vacation … God is ALREADY there! One of these days you’ll be experiencing a loss of income, or retirement, or some physical difficulty, perhaps cancer or heart disease … and, you know what? God will ALREADY be there too!

Life is a journey! And God accompanies you all the way through ... all the way to the end. He never gives up; he never stops; He never says, “I quit on this guy!” He is with you ALL THE WAY! Never, ever forget that!!!
And He gives you strength for the journey! Don’t forget that either!

When I turned 50 twenty-three years ago … I had a kind of an epiphany of sorts. I had a personal revelation that surprised me. Something about that particular milestone made me stop and take stock of my life. To my chagrin I realized I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was way back when I was younger … especially when I got out of college and then graduate school and then started on a doctoral program (which by the way, I never finished).

All those years of studying Latin and Greek and German and Hebrew and theology and Bible exposition and church history and hermeneutics … after all those papers and theses and presentations. I was smart with capital letters. But life has a way of bringing us down a few notches … which is something we all have to experience every once in a while. When we start dealing with real people and real problems and day-to-day issues … we discover that some of the things we learned in school or college or grad school aren’t as important as we thought they were.

I have come to rest my soul on a handful of biblical truths. They keep me steady in the storms; they encourage my spirit when I'm down; they assure me I'm OK, even when I don't feel like it. Here are my core beliefs:

The Bible is true … God is holy and just and good … His mercies endure forever.

Jesus is LORD … His blood cleanses me from every sin … He rose from the dead on the third day … He is now enthroned in heaven … one day he will return to earth as Judge.

The God who created me has a purpose for my life … I am special to Him … all things work together for good for those who love God … and the Holy Spirit is my constant companion in life.

At the core of my faith is an unshakable belief that God is sovereign. He is God and I am not. He knows all the details of my life … and I can trust Him completely … even when those details seem to be spinning out of control. God knows what He is doing … and He is doing it!

Sometimes life is so tough, all we can do is dig in and hold on. And when trouble comes … sometimes that is the best thing to do. More than anything else … we need to hear these two words: STAND FIRM. Remember what you have learned. Stand on the truth you already know. Take God at His Word! There is no reason to quit or to give in to evil.

Here is my prayer for anyone reading this musing (they are actually the words of Paul):
“May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word” [II Thessalonians 2:16-17]

God has ALREADY loved us … He has ALREADY encouraged us … and He has ALREADY given us hope. He did that when He died for our sins on the cross. In light of that … we pray for two things: for an encouraged heart and for a stable heart. When we are encouraged … we face the trials of life with hope and confidence. And when our heart is stable … we won’t be swayed back and forth by circumstances and emotional mood swings. The stable heart is fixed on the Lord … and so it is consistent.

So here is the verse in a nutshell: Since God has died for your sins and thereby offers you salvation, stand firm in that faith amid all the trials of life … knowing that God will encourage you and make you strong on the inside so that your life will be filled with good words and good deeds on the outside.

And remember this too, because it will happen at some time or another … when life caves in … when your plans are dashed … when you can’t see the end of the tunnel … when you find yourself in a place you never wanted to be … that’s when you discover what you really believe. As long as things are going good … you don’t really know what you believe. It’s all theoretical … it’s all just words. But you discover your theology at midnight. Anyone can sing “Shout to the Lord!” when things are good … when your job is humming along ... when you’ve got good grades … when all your friends are giving you high praise … when you’re upbeat and happy.

You come to grips with your faith at midnight ... when the light is dim and your life is miserable. It is then you discover your true self. And not only will YOU discover what you believe in times of trouble …but everyone else will also discover what you believe. Because that’s when the real truth comes out.  And people will be watching you and they will see that either God is enough or He isn’t. That either Jesus is more precious than life or He isn’t.

Have a blessed weekend ... mindful of God's presence everyday, everywhere ...

PR

Service Times

8:00 AM - Traditional Worship Service

9:40 AM - Sunday School & Bible Study Classes for all ages

10:45 AM - Contemporary Worship Service

Holy Communion is celebrated at both services on the first and third Sundays of each month.

Location

Grace Lutheran Church & School

12200 McCormick Road
Jacksonville, FL 32225

(904) 928-9136

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