Promises for the Weary

FullSizeRender-6“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand…. For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the One who helps you.”

~ Isaiah 41:10;13

 

Perhaps you are like me, when things get hard, your first reaction is to buckle down, grit your teeth and fix it. Whatever the situation may be, you foolishly think, “I got this, I don’t need help!” Or perhaps you are the opposite and when life gets hard and you crumble wondering how will you ever survive this, thinking, “What will I do?“. Where one is over-confident, the other has no confidence in themselves and both lead to stress and weariness, but the good news of the Gospel is that there is help and strength for both.

The Lord has been reminding me lately, over and over in His Word that He is in control of everything, and He gives strength to those who are weak. It is through mediating on His Word and on His promises that I have found myself less stressed lately. I know this isn’t a mind-blowing idea, but perhaps like me, we are prone to forget this, and life happens and we tense up or we crumble before running to the One who holds everything in His hand, to the One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10).

Because of Christ is in us, we are free: from stress, from anxiety, free to run to Him for peace, hope and strength.


Both the over-confident and the one with no confidence find strength at the foot of Christ!

 

Recent reminders from His Word I have read: 

Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with their whole heart

~ Psalm 119:2

Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You have established the earth and it stands fast

~ Psalm 119:90

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path

~ Psalm 119:105

In my distress I called to the Lord and He answered me

~ Psalm 120:1

I lift up my eyes to the hills, from where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

~ Psalm 121:1

I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears

~ Isaiah 38:5b

To You I lift up my eyes, O You who are enthroned in the heavens 

~ Psalm 123:1

Our Help is in the Name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth

~ Psalm 124:8 


These are some of the promises the Lord has been showing me lately, reminding me simply of who He is, and who I am. When we properly see Him, we can find rest and strength that only comes from Him.


“Remember, it is not your weakness that will get in the way of God’s working through you, but your delusions of strength. His strength is made perfect in our weakness! Point to His strength by being willing to admit your weakness.”
~ Paul David Tripp, Pastor

 

PawPaw, You Gave Me More Than You Know

photo 2

 

Rudolph Elizondo Sr. (1921-2015) 


Today, my PawPaw went home to be with the Lord, after 93 long fruitful and faithful years. Although sad, we rejoice! We rejoice because although his earthly tent has passed, he has been clothed in a heavenly one that will never perish (2 Corinthians 5:1).

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints
~ Psalm 116:15

I’m thankful for him!

I’m thankful for his legacy he has left us. The above picture is how I will always remember him, reading the Word spending time with His Savior.

I’m thankful for the way he taught us to love each other and the Lord.

I’m thankful for for the time we got with him and how up until the last day he was aware of us and knew us.

I’m thankful that in an age when marriage isn’t viewed as highly as it ought to be, that him and my MawMaw set the example for our family by being married for 72 years! (thats not a typo)

I’m thankful for his loving smile and how he always wanted the family to have fun and love each other.

And I’m thankful that I got to see him one more time two weeks ago.


Two weeks ago me and my sisters made our way back home to Bridge City for my nieces 1st birthday and our first stop, as it has been the past few years, was to see my PawPaw. When I saw him, I knew it was close, I knew the Lord would soon be calling him home. I’m so thankful the Lord allowed me one more weekend to see him. He was frail and weak, but sat there holding my sisters hand smiling, telling stories, asking how MawMaw was doing and telling us how much he loved us and how great it was to see us.  Two days later as we were making our way back home we went to see him and he had a gift for my sisters, two small  stuffed easter bunnies. One of my aunts had bought them for him to give away and he immediately knew who would get them, my sisters, his granddaughters, the “Two Most Beautiful Girls in the World,” as he called them, and was always ready to argue if you didn’t agree. He told me he was sorry he didn’t have anything for me, but lovingly joked that I was just the girls driver, bringing them to see their PawPaw. As we were leaving I hugged him told him I loved him, he smiled and again told me sorry he didn’t have anything for me but that I knew that he loved me; and I told him he had already given me more than enough.


PawPaw, You Gave Me More Than You Know


 

Here is what I have learned from my PawPaw (reposted from a previous post):

Life Lessons from My PawPaw

I would like to introduce you to my PawPaw, a man who I am blessed to have in my life and is always a joy to be around. Over the past few weeks with all the holidays I was able to spend a lot of time with him and my MawMaw at their house near my parents. Times like this are times I cherish and am so thankful for to sit with and talk with them and a lot of the time simply sit there and listen, listen to stories of how they met, listen to them joke with each other, or listen to the latest news that my MawMaw just read in the National Enquirer (she loves these stories).  These times are precious cause I know I won’t always have them, my PawPaw is 92 and although his goal is to catch Moses at 120 years old, (a joke he has had for the past 10 plus years and one I’m starting to think may actually happen) he is slowing down some along with my MawMaw who is 90. As I spent time with them over the last month and began to think of their legacy in our family and what I have learned from them over the years. This is not an exhausted list by any means, just a few of my first thoughts as I have dwelled on this.

  1. The Importance of Faith – The picture above is how I found my PawPaw one day I stopped by to say hi. He was sitting on his spot on the couch doing what he has done nearly everyday for the past 30 years, reading his Bible, as my MawMaw took a nap. He came to know the Lord while in his 60’s as the Lord saw fit to use my dad to lead him to the Lord. And since that day my PawPaw has forever been changed, after spending the first 60 years of his life trying to be good enough, the Lord opened his eyes to His love and grace. My PawPaw was worn his Bible out since then, and every time I go by there he tells me about what he read that day. One of the highlights of our time together over Christmas break, was sitting there with my 92-year-old PawPaw sat there and told me a list of answered prayers the Lord had answered this month for him, how some people may not believe in Christ, but he knows that when he prays to Him that the Lord answers him. On Christmas he told us, “This family is built on love and joy. Love for Christ and love for others.”
  2. The Importance of the Individual – This may be one of the biggest things I have noticed about my PawPaw, and that is he makes everyone feel important and as if you are the only one he is talking to. If you were to come with me and my family to meet them, he would talk to you directly and include you in everything. You would leave feeling like you are part of the family and not just some stranger who was tagging alone. And he has been this way it seems like his whole life, he was a car salesman most of his life, and even today we run into people who when they hear my dad’s name (he is a junior) they ask if his dad sold cars because they bought a car from him and remember how he helped them and how he got them into the car they wanted. I’ve purchased two vehicles in my life and couldn’t tell you the names of the salesman I dealt with.
  3. The Importance of Being a Witness – Any opportunity my PawPaw gets to point to Christ he takes it. Recently when at the doctor about to be released to go home, all the doctors and all the nurses were in his room (see point above, people are drawn to him) and they were asking him about being married for 71 years and whats the secret, his answer short, simple and powerful, “Jesus Christ.” Even at 92, and no longer able to be out and about he is still being a witness to anyone and everyone he may come in contact with, whether family member, doctor, nurse, or home health nurse that comes to check on him, he will tell you the main thing in his life and the secret to his joy is Christ.
  4. The Importance of a Never Changing Joy – My PawPaw is 92, and rides a scooter to get around in the house and has to basically sit on the couch all day long watching a TV he may or may not hear that well, but you would never know it. He is always joyful, regardless of the circumstances, and happy to see you. Never once can I recall him every complaining about his or my MawMaw’s circumstances. Through hospital trips, losing a home to a hurricane, having your car taken from you, zero complaints. Always joyful, always joking around, always thanking the Lord for what he has.
  5. The Importance of Family – My Grandparents have been married 71 years and are still in love. In an age where more than 50% of marriages end in divorce, my Grandparents have made it through, most people would be happy to live for 71 years and they have been married 71. It’s an amazing thing to see and witness and one that the world is astonished by, leading to questions as mentioned above, “How?” And the answer is always the same, “Jesus Christ,” Christ has sustained them. My MawMaw recently told my dad that no matter what family is family, they will make mistakes but the Lord tells us that whoever is without sin to throw the first stones, so no matter what you love your family cause that’s what the Lord has told us to do. And they have loved us all well, through ups and downs their love has remained constant.

This is just some of the many things that I have noticed in my PawPaw and MawMaw’s lives, and a small part of the legacy they are leaving our family. I am incredibly grateful for all that the Lord has used them to show me about living out His Word, and loving others. I cherish the moments the Lord continues to allow me to sit with them and just talk and listen. These times are precious and whether I get a few more years of these opportunities, or they make it to Moses and I get another 25+ years with them, these are the things I will hold onto.


“This family is built on love and joy. Love for Christ and love for others.”

Prayer Life Defined?

images“Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.” 

~ Colossians 4:12

Several years ago I was working on an application to go on a mission trip to Haiti, and the question I struggled with the most was, “Describe your prayer life.” Part of the difficulty of this question was that I was currently having my prayer life rocked by Sprugeon’s “The Power of Prayer in a Believer’s Life” as the Lord was continually using Spurgeon to crumble up my small thoughts and ideas on prayer and punt them away.  Another difficulty was just how do you put into words your prayer life. If we are honest and you are like me there are times when our prayer life is like a mighty rushing river and at times when it is barely a stream making its way down the mountain.


How would you describe your prayer life?


For the past few years whenever I think of prayer, and reevaluate my current prayer life, I often think of this verse towards the end of Paul’s letter to the Colossians. I love the way Paul describes Epaphras’ prayer life as one that is always struggling on the Church of Colossae’s behalf.  Here we see that Paul has taken notice of Epaphras’ prayer life and has noticed that it is one of battle, and not simply for himself but for the Church of Colossae. Perhaps a better question for the mission trip application would be,


“How would others describe your prayer life?” 


Are we known to be prayer warriors? Do others know that when you say, “I’ll be praying for you,” that we mean it and will be joining in the fight in prayer on their behalf, or are they simply empty words we offer? As Piper says in Let the Nations Be Glad, “We cannot know what prayer is for until we know that life is war!” In this life as believers we are in a war and the enemy is not flesh and blood, but is spiritual (Ephesians 6:12) and as we battle we are to pray at all times (Ephesians 6:18).

As we put on the full Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20) let us not forget to enter the battle in prayer at all times. For the sake of our local church, for the sake of churches in our cities and the greater Church worldwide, let us always be struggling on their behalf in our prayers.

 “True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that – it is a spiritual transaction with the Creator of heaven and earth” ~ Spurgeon 

Related Posts:


#PrayforYourPastor

“Must be nice to only work 3 hours a week!”

“What do you really do all day?”

“Oh you are a part-time pastor!”

With these statements and many more like them we reveal how difficult we feel that of being a pastor really is. After all we really only see them “at work” on Sunday’s and perhaps on Wednesdays, for an hour or two at a time; what do they do the rest of the week? Read the Bible? Play Golf? Fish? Sleep in? Who knows, while we are clocking in and out and putting in 40+ hours a week at our job, what is our pastor doing? So we kid with them about what they do all day, prehaps only as a joke or as a coverup when we really want to know.

As the son of a pastor, and someone who has been in ministry or close to those in ministry most of my life, can I beg you to pray constantly for your pastors, elders and deacons the Lord has placed as overseers and shepherds in your life. Theres a weight involved in being a pastor that is heavy and the burden for those people in their church that is unbearable at times. Your pastor isn’t a super-Christian that doesn’t face life’s difficulties, stresses, temptations and hurts. Your pastor needs wisdom, discernment, endurance and strength that can only come from the Lord if they are ever going to accomplish that which the Lord has called them too.

Some things to remember when wondering what your pastor does all day:

  • Thanks to the advance/curse of technology they are on call and reachable 24/7 – there is no “part-time” ministry
  • Rarely when someone says “Hey pastor can we talk” is it good news or to thank them
  • Pastors constantly step into the worse of life’s circumstances that are affecting the people of their congregation
  • They are not only trying to faithfully lead their families, but also a whole congregation of people
  • Bearing the weight of James 3:1
  • When they aren’t meeting with someone they are thinking of their next counseling session
  • The weight of reading, studying and preparing to teach the Word of God

A lot of this post comes from reading the following last night:

“From a variety of sources, ranging from the Fuller Institute to the Barna Research Group and Pastoral Care, Inc., we find these sobering numbers:

– 90 percent of pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week

– 80 percent believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families

– 90 percent feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands

– 80 percent of pastors feel unqualified and discouraged

– 90 percent of pastors say the ministry is completely different than what they thought it would be like before they entered the ministry

– 50 percent feel unable to meet the demands of the job

– 70 percent of pastors constantly fight depression

– 70 percent say they have a lower self-image now than when they first started

– 70 percent do not have someone they consider a close friend

– 40 percent report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month

– 33 percent confess having engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior with someone in the church

– 50 percent of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living

– 70 percent of pastors feel grossly underpaid

– 50 percent of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years

– Only 1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form”

~ From Jared Wilson in The Pastor’s Justification

I share these stats as a means to show the stresses and thoughts some of our pastors face.  And to ask us to constantly hold our pastors and staffs up before the Lord in prayer, asking the Lord to sustain them, encourage them and help them be faithful to their calling, that can only be completed by the Grace of God.

Your pastor loves you and is constantly thinking of you and the congregation, lets not neglect to lift them up in prayer as they faithfully lead us.

Purpose Behind the Tests

IMG_445447583Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
~James 1:2-4

I don’t think it is a bold statement to say that many of us, if not all of us hate tests. Whether we are in school and knowing a test is coming up, or worse it’s an unannounced test; or as an adult we find ourself going through a difficult season of life. Tests make us uncomfortable, stress us out, and no matter how well we may have prepared beforehand they tend to make us a little uneasy and nervous. But how often do we think of the purpose of the test, that the test is doing something; a quick google search showed that test:

  1. Identify What the Tester Has Learned
  2. Identify the Testers Weaknesses and Strentghs

The Test Is Doing Something


 

Yes, tests in life make us uneasy, are difficult, but there is a purpose in them, and it isn’t that God is mean and finds joy in watching us suffer or be stressed out but that He is growing and sanctifying us in the process. This passage in James tells us that trials produce steadfastness, these trials in our life help us remain steadfast in our faith. Or as Paul says in Romans:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
~ Romans 5:1-5

Suffering produces endurance, which produces character that produces hope! How?

One thing I have been learning recently is that it is easy to say, “Yes Lord I fully trust You” and harder to live it out. But you see in the moments when we face those tests that require us to trust on Him and lean into Him, we now have evidence of not only His provision but also our trust and faith in Him. Which can also reveal those weaknesses in our life and areas where we don’t fully trust Him. Until this is reveled to us,  and we remain blind to it, He is unable to go to work in the area of doubt or unbelief.

David was able to go out against Goliath, because in his life he had seen the Lord provide and move time and time again, whether it was a bear or a lion that came after his sheep; the Lord had delivered him. He had hope that Lord who had protected him many times in the past and delivered him was able to do so again. Without facing tests prior to this, David never would have had any hope, but would have gone out there feeling nervous, uneasy and stressed.

Not saying that tests in life should be easy and stressless, but that there is a purpose in them, and that when we grasp this it allows is to breathe a little easier knowing that He is working in us and hasn’t forgotten us. That purpose is that we will know Him and trust Him more, not simply with our words but with our lives.

“Let your cares drive you to God. I shall not mind if you have many of them if each one leads you to prayer. If every fret makes you lean more on the Beloved, it will be a benefit.” ~ Charles Spurgeon

 

And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. ~
~James 1:4

Be a Persistent Pray-er

IMG_443470911

18 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’”And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

~ Luke 18:1-8

This probably my favorite passage on prayer, and the one I turn to most often when thinking through my prayer life. Because this passage gives us permission to continually come before the Lord with our request in persistence. Often times I feel that we neglect repeatedly bringing the same request before the Lord, either out of frustration of not having an answer quickly, or out of fear that we could be annoying our heavenly Father that loves us. But here we are welcomed to bring our request repeatedly before Him. The Lord ask:

7 “And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?”

~ Luke 18:7

Who cry out to him day and night.


When is the last time we tried to wear out the ears of the Lord with our request? 


 

“Prayer can never be in excess!” ~ C.H. Spurgeon

At the end of this passage the Lord asks:

“When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”

~ Luke 18:8

Our continually going to Him with our request demonstrates our reliance on Him as the hearer and answerer of prayers. This act of continually going to Him with our request isn’t an act of annoyance, but of showing our reliance on Him as the only One who is able to answer; as well as shows our need to have Him hear and answer our request. Demonstrating our faith.

My encouragement in this passage is to never give up in bringing my request before Him. Trusting that He is a good Father who hears and answers the cries of children.

“Four things let us ever keep in mind: God hears prayer, God heeds prayer, God answers prayer, and God delivers by prayer!” ~ E.M. Bounds

Heading into the new year let us not give up on continually bringing our request before Him.

Without Love a Vain Show

Read this tonight:

Reason testifies that Divine Love is so essential in Religion that all Religion is but hypocrisy and a “vain show” without it. What is Religion but the exercise and expressions of regard to the Divine Being? But certainly if there be no love to Him, there is no sincere regard to Him; and all pretences and show of respect to Him, whether it be in word or deed, must be hypocrisy, and of no value in the eyes of Him who sees the heart How manifest is it that without love there can be no true honour, no sincere praise! And how can obedience be hearty, if it be not a testimony of respect to God! The fear of God without love is no other than the fear of devils; and all that outward respect and obedience, all that resignation, that repentance and sorrow for sin, that form in religion, that outward devotion that is performed merely from such a fear without love, is all of it a practical lie, as in Psalm 66:3– “…How terrible art Thou in Thy works! through the greatness of Thy power shall Thine enemies submit themselves unto Thee.” In the original it is “shall thine enemies lie unto Thee” — i.e., shall yield a feigned or lying obedience and respect to Thee, when still they remain enemies in their hearts. There is never a devil in hell but what would perform all that many a man [has] performed in religion, that had no love to God; and a great deal more if they were in like circumstances and the like hope of gain by it, and be as much of a devil in this heart as he is now. The Devil once seemed to be religious from fear of torment: Luke 8:28– “When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech Thee, torment me not.” Here is external worship. The Devil is religious; he prays — he prays in a humble posture; he falls down before Christ, he lies prostrate; he prays earnestly, he cries with a loud voice; he uses humble expressions — “I beseech Thee, torment me not;” he uses respectful, honourable, adoring expressions — “Jesus, Thou Son of God most high.”Nothing was wanting but LOVE.

~ Jonathan Edwards,  Treatise on Grace