True

Some of My Least Favorite Verses

By LuAnn Edwards

By nature, I am a pessimist. It is something I am very good at; I don’t even have to try. To me, the glass is always half empty. For a pessimist like me, there are some verses in the Bible that are hard to accept. When we do accept them, however, they bring hope and grow our faith.

In the midst of a pity-party and feeling as though nothing is going right in my messy life, I read Romans 8:28. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Really? What about that job that went sour?

James 1:2 states, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” Joy? When I could barely go into work each day?

When I want to bring up past hurts and dwell in them, I find, “…Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” (Philippians 3:13). But I have to attend this function and she will be there! She deeply hurt me! I cannot forget that!

As a pessimist, these verses were not very helpful. That is, not until I accepted them as truth. By faith in Christ and His Word, I have learned to acknowledge, “…all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27). These verses have become a source of strength and power in my life.

When my faith overpowers my pessimism, I can focus on Christ and His power in me working all things together for my good.

I know I can do all things through Him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13). I can find joy in my trials knowing God is in control and nothing is too difficult for Him (Jeremiah 32:17). By faith I can press on and let go of my past hurts because I know that if God is for me, who can be against me (Romans 8:31).

I have also learned that when pessimism tries to creep back into my mind, I can pray and gain strength and victory over its lies. Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). I have confidence in prayer to come boldly before the Lord to ask Him for what I have need of and to believe that He hears me and will answer.

If you, too, are a pessimist by nature, accept His Word as truth. Read His promises over and over to yourself; then read them out loud for His Words are powerful and worth hearing. Fill your mind with these promises and meditate upon them daily until they abide in your heart. Pray and ask the Lord to reveal Himself to you in a whole new way so you can acknowledge that “all things are possible with Him.”

True – Faithful to the End

By Karen Polich

God’s call on your life should be what you desire most. Faithfulness is essential.  – Pastor Michael Cook

In the final installment of his True sermon series, Pastor Michael Cook took us to the end of Samuel’s life and the lessons we can learn about being faithful and true. (1 Samuel 16) Listen to the entire True series here. There are four patterns in Samuel’s life that we can apply to our own.

Be faithful in the shadows. Samuel was. When he was young, he lived in the shadows of the priest, growing in stature and favor with God. He was doing the right things when no one was looking. Being faithful in the shadows means when the spotlight comes, you will be prepared. If you are young, don’t wait to be generous with your time and money. You are becoming who you will be. Don’t wait to do the right things. God’s call to be faithful is now. It is not intended for something to be done someday.

Embrace repetition in life. Samuel was consistent. He followed through with his responsibilities. People could count on him for fair judgement and dependability. If you are always looking for the next new thing, you will miss the rewards that come from being faithful to the things you do again and again.

Watch your step. Samuel was a man of integrity. He knew the value of doing the right thing for the right reason. It takes years to build your credibility and reputation. It requires discipline. A worthy lifetime can be torn to shreds in an instant. Choose wisely what steps you take.

Live to be missed. The Bible tells us when Samuel died, Israel cried. The people mourned the loss of God’s faithful servant. Are you living to be missed? People are drawn to someone who is faithful. Who are you impacting today and will your impact build a lasting legacy?

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

True faithfulness is something desperately needed in our lives. We can place faithfulness above ability, wealth, notoriety, and anything else that diminishes God’s call to be true. The choice is ours.

True – Rejected and Replaced

By Karen Polich

Being true matters.

Continuing his True sermon series, Pastor Michael Cook examined  what it means to be faithful and the bleak reality of seeking a false sense of security outside of God’s best. Listen to the podcast here.(1 Samuel 7: 15-17, 1 Samuel 8)

We find Samuel as an adult, leading God’s people when their hearts were scattered. Samuel was a man of integrity. He was true and faithful to the call of God. His years were spent visiting the same places over and over, delivering trustworthy judgement, counsel and communication to God’s people. His routine and behavior were consistent. Again and again he brought his best.

While Samuel was a reliable man of God, his sons were not. As Samuel grew older, the tribal leaders gathered and asked him to appoint a king. They wanted to raise an army and create more security as a nation. Samuel prayed and God was clear that they weren’t firing Samuel, but replacing God as their provider. They had forgotten that God had been faithful to His promises to make them into a nation. They ignored the calling that they were supposed to look different than those in surrounding areas who had kings.

We too look for security, and we often look to things other than God. There is nothing wrong with achievements or having strong finances or whatever it may be. The problem arises when we look to these things to find the security we already have in God.

God is interested in being God, while we tend to be interested in replacing Him. – Pastor Michael Cook

We can learn from Samuel. His focus was on God and his routine never wavered. He understood living out the fruit of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)

When we have a solid routine in our lives, there is much to gain about what it means to be faithful. We should be bringing our very best in everything we do. A champion is not made without the discipline of a good training program. It takes accountability created through consistency. A champion gives their best and follows a routine. Over time that consistency bears fruit. It is the same in our lives.

What does your life’s routine look like? Does your security rest in His faithfulness?

True Decisions

By Karen Polich

Does God have your total devotion?

In his True sermon series, Pastor Michael Cook asked the question, “What is competing with God for your devotion?” (Listen here.) Read 1 Samuel 4, 1 Samuel 7.

The Bible is clear about God’s command: “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3) In biblical days, idol worship was easier to spot than it is today. During those times idol worship often revolved around statues and false gods. Today the lines are blurred.

We may not bow down to a golden calf, but God doesn’t always come first in our lives. We allow other things to consume us. Our idols come in many forms. Our focus on success, control, a relationship, past pain or our bank account is a problem when it rivals the attention we give God. Often when one idol fails us, we quickly swap it out for another one. Idols build in our hearts and we decide to follow paths that turn us away from Him.

Discerning the need to add and subtract what rules our lives is a monumental decision. Clarity from God can give us the ability to identify what needs to be removed from our lives.

Remember Samuel? Samuel kept his focus on God. Eli’s sons were focused elsewhere. God prepared Samuel along the way while those around him served themselves. What needs to go or be adjusted so that God comes first? Does God need to be added as the center of our lives?

God’s preparation in our lives is frequently subtle and small. We can look back and see where He was moving us towards Him. Sometimes we don’t see it until we are in a big moment and it suddenly seems clear.

Could today be the beginning of a season of change, marked by a decision to give God our full attention?

 

 

True – Sights and Sounds from Hard Places

By Karen Polich

Do you stand out in your environment?

In his True sermon series, Pastor Michael Cook continued to examine the story of Samuel. Read 1 Samuel 2-3. Listen to the podcast here.

Hannah honored her promise to God and took little Samuel to live at the temple. He was under the care of the high priest, Eli. At a glance, we might assume that this was a “pure” environment surrounding Samuel, but it was far from what it should have been. Eli’s two sons had no regard for the Lord. In the midst of their immoral choices, Samuel stood out. He was different. Imagine a young boy running around in the temple “ministering before the Lord” while those around him were wicked. Eli verbally rebuked his sons, but the scoundrels were the ruin of Eli’s family. Their vile behavior against the Lord continued.

God called out to Samuel and told him of His plans to destroy Eli’s sons and remove Eli as the high priest. God chose to speak to Samuel, the little one, over Eli, the educated priest.

How can we live lives that are true and faithful? We can learn a lot from Samuel. His response to life around him was remarkably different than the behavior of Eli’s sons. They heard the same things and saw the same temple, yet Samuel honored God while Eli’s sons were detestable.

There are times when being true is quiet and subtle.

To be faithful and true in a difficult environment is challenging. We all have struggles along the way, but our faithfulness matters. Samuel answered the call from God. How about you? Is your heart open to hearing God when He calls?

The world needs people marked by faithfulness to God. How we deal with people around us reflects the love we have for Him. Are you standing out?

 

 

 

 

 

True – The Collapse

By Karen Polich

Being true matters. It matters regardless of circumstances. When life isn’t easy being faithful and being who you need to be is important. You may be in the midst of a challenging time right now. If not, can you think of a season that was heavy with difficulty? Can you feel the depth of despair that comes with the collapse? Pastor Michael Cook began a new sermon series, True, showing us that there is hope even in difficulty. (Listen here.)

In 1 Samuel 1, we learn the story of Hannah. She was a woman with a deep ache in her heart. Her husband’s second wife, Penninah, had children, but Hannah had none. If that weren’t difficult enough, Penninah provoked Hannah year after year until Hannah was in a place of collapse.

Despite the intensity of her pain, Hannah moved toward God. She had complete trust in Him and poured out her heart in fervent prayer. Hannah begged for a son. She pleaded for a son that she vowed to return to the Lord. God heard her and gave her a son that she named Samuel. True to her word, she gave him back to the Lord when he was young and he lived in the House of the Lord.

What can we learn from Hannah? We can learn to trust God, even in bleak circumstances. Hannah remained true and faithful, even when her pain seemed unbearable.

God often delivers a brilliant outcome from something that is unspeakably wrong. – Pastor Michael Cook

We can learn to trust God with the big things and the little things. Every challenge we face is an opportunity to lean in and grow closer to God. We will all face challenges. It is inevitable. How we choose to live within those challenges defines who we are.

What situation in your life gives you an opportunity to trust God more deeply?