A Great Sleep Remedy

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Does this happen to you: You go through your simple routine as you prepare for sleep, but as soon as your head hits the pillow, instead of sleep, your mind starts racing—reviewing the days events? Your body twitches with each “Shoulda,’” “Coulda,” “Woulda” that slipstreams through your mind? I used to have this. And lately it has been slipping back.

Then I came across this great sleep remedy found in Psalm 4, and it has a lot to do what the worries and distressing events the day’s activites may have fomented.

As my mind begins racing, I review vv. 1-3 and remember the LORD will hear me when I plead to Him to stop my mind from racing. But He then shows me it is racing because of what I am focused on. I am focused on what I am not. He has set me apart. I am focused on myself and what I cannot do instead of on Him and what He can do.

Then He leads me to vv. 4 & 5 because now my frustration of a racing mind is morphing into anger…. “Be careful to not be care-filled,” I hear the LORD whisper to me. Instead, I am to simply, quietly, trust in Him to take care of these cares that are preoccupying my mind.

Vv. 6-8 then begin to quiet my soul as my trust falls upon the One Who can replace this slipstream of racing thoughts with Joy & Peace—that lead to sleep: “for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety” (v. 8).

And soon I   drift    asleep ….

Honestly, I wish I could say this has happened over night, but the truth is I need to practice this nightly as the worries, cares and concerns that preoccupy my pre-sleep mind slowly—but surely—evaporate and slip away….

Perhaps you have found yourself in the transition of this process, too? Your thoughts?

Main Text— Psalm 4:7–8 (NIV84) 7 You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. 8 I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

1 Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress;  be merciful to me and hear my prayer. 2 How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods? Selah 3 Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD will hear when I call to Him. 4 In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Selah 5 Offer right sacrifices and trust in the LORD. 6 Many are asking, “Who can show us any good?” Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD. Psalm 4:1–6 (NIV84)

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast,  because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.Isaiah 26:3–4 (NIV84)

Lord Jesus Christ, be my Peace as You. Flood my mind with the fullness of Your presence, as You, the Prince of Peace, driving out my worrisome, stress-filled thoughts. In Your Name, Amen

Pastor Mike

The Right Place

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Devotion Title: “The Right Place”

Date: 03-31-15

The Big Idea: Now this may seem paradoxical—counterintuitive even, but I go back to the very person I betrayed: I flee to Jesus.

My Thoughts: Lifestyle worshiper, is it possible that you’ve done something horribly wrong? I’m not talking white lies or burps of profanity, but something much like Peter, who denied his Lord, not once, not twice but three time? Often what happens is we begin to isolate ourselves from others, especially if they call themselves “Christian”. Our shame and embarrassment is just too much to bear, eh? (Been there; done that; got the scars and T-shirt to prove it.)

But when I finally come to my senses (and this may take anywhere from a few moments to, ah, several years), I go to the right place. Now this may seem paradoxical—counterintuitive even, but I go back to the very person I betrayed: I flee to Jesus. Now why I do this, I’m not quite sure, especially when I see others who do not. But somehow Peter’s journey with Jesus has given me hope that I, too, can be forgiven.

Have you found this to be so, too? Have you discover that our Lord Jesus is “a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love” (Neh. 9:17b)?

Maybe you haven’t done something as terrible as I or Peter, but even if you haven’t, maybe you can receive comfort and hope from the words recorded in Mark 16:6-7 the angel spoke to the women at the tomb of Jesus:

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as he told you.’ ”

Did you read that? “… and Peter”?  This is where I get my hope. If the Lord Jesus can forgive the most horrible, terrible wrong done by Peter, He can forgive me, too. I can hear my name in Peter’s place: “and….” Can you?

This is our God! This is the Hope of the Resurrection He offers. This is the reason we praise Him: Father, Son and Holy Spirit! Hosanna in the Highest!

Main Text: — Mark 16:6-7— “Don’t be alarmed,” [the angel] said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. 7 But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as he told you.’ ” [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep — 1 Corinthians 15:3-6 (NIV84)

  I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.   —Revelation 1:18 (NIV84)

 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”  — John 11:25-26 (NIV84)

 Heavenly Father, by the shed blood of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and through His power, I ask You to forgive me for _____. I thank You, Lord Jesus Christ, for bearing the consequences of my actions. Remove the pain and shame I have cause Your name. Be that part of my life that has been disobedient to You. I release myself into Your hands. Empower me with Your Resurrected Life through the Holy Spirit to live a life that is pleasing to You. In Your Name, Amen. 

Pastor Mike

“A Precious Treasure”

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Date: 12-24-14

Text: — 2 Corinthians 4:7 — But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.[NIV84]

The Big Idea: This precise Treasure, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, the Hope of Glory, is in our earthen vessel—our jar of clay!

My Thoughts: 

This precious Treasure is Light—not too burdensome, and very, very bright. Some put lampshades over the jar because of its brightness. These do not want to offend anyone. Others shine it full bore forcing others to cover their eyes. However we carry this precious Treasure of Light, I want to remind us of how precious it is….

Lifestyle worshiper: This precise Treasure is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, the Hope of Glory. Born in obscurity and in poverty, He humbled Himself to take on an earthen vessel, a jar of clay—if you will. He grew up in a small village. Lost His father at a young age and had to provide for His family as a carpenter. After a couple of decades, He stepped out of obscurity and into the limelight, preaching the good news: “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” He went about doing good: Healing the sick, comforting the mourners, giving sight to the blind, feeding the poor, and releasing those held captive.

The crowd’s cheers soon turned to jeers as they escorted Him to the cross. Ah, but you know the rest of the story. The grave could not hold Him! He is Risen and ascended, soon to come in full glory!

And it is He—the Risen, Glorious Savior, this Precious Treasure, the Light of the World—we have in our earthen vessel—our jar of clay!  Yes, those who have committed to follow Jesus, to receive Him into their lives have His very presence in us. Does this overwhelm you as it does me? This Holy Light of which we sing is ‘housed’ in my common, dirty, ‘old’ life. I know what my flesh is. …

But the Holy One puts His Holy Light in me to show that when I am hard pressed and not crushed; when I perplexed and not despairing; when I am persecuted and not abandoned; when I am knocked down and not destroyed: all this is to show that I am not doing it, but His all-surpassing power is! He is preserving me, protecting me, and promoting Him—Jesus, the Light of the World.

When you celebrate a Christmas Eve candlelight service or attend a Christmas Mass,  humbly rejoice in this powerful mystery: “Christ [—the Light of the World—] in you, the Hope of Glory” (Colossians 1:27)! Have a very blessed and Merry Christmas. Shalom to you and yours under your care.

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

 “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” — John 16:33 (NIV84)

    We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.   — 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (NIV84)

 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” — Luke 2:13-14 (NKJV)

Heavenly Father,  I join the angels in praising You for this miraculous mystery: Immanuel—God with us! I praise You for this truly awesome mystery of Christ in me, the Hope of Glory. I am speechless. Holy Spirit, intercede so that my Praise may truly honor You, and the Father and the Son! Baruch Ha Shem (Blessed be the Name!), Amen.

Pastor Mike

“All the Time No Matter What”

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Date: 11-30-14

Text: — Isaiah 9:6 — For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: I know you know that God is Good all the time no matter what.

My Thoughts: 

Out of these majestic titles comes a rather profound and oft quoted truth: “God is Good all the time”: He is a Wonderful Counselor He plans our lives well and in all things works “for the Good of all who Love Him and are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28 emphasis added).

Because I have found that some add a “footnote” to this “God is Good” (the noxious “except for me” footnote), I needed to add “no matter what” (i.e. “God is Good all the time no matter what). I did this because I am learning that during the ‘working out’ period, He is our Prince of Peace & our Father of Eternity….

And how I was one of these “footnoters”. I would constantly hear the promises of God and almost certainly know that they were clearly for someone else—someone God Loved more than me. Not to place blame but to discover origin, I think this started as a teenager. I had a deep confounding question plaguing me. I brought it to my local perish priest. His answer was so compelling, only adding to my “noxious footnoting.”  He said, “God is too busy running the universe to be concerned for your situation. You need to work it out on your own.” Well, I knew I couldn’t work it out on my own; I had already tried. So clearly, God must Love others more than me….

In coming to a more intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus, I am learning that often in the short run, it doesn’t seem too “good.” (Remember: “Trained by the Pain!?”) Oh, it is good, I just don’t see it ‘now’. So I need to be constantly reminded that the Lord Jesus is in control of the long run. (This is what is meant by the title “Everlasting Father” lit. in Hebrew: “Father of Eternity”—that is, Controller of the long run.) And during the ‘short run’ He is my Prince of Peace, giving me a peace so unlike the world’s ‘peace.’ The Lord Jesus’ Peace guards my heart and my mind preventing me from acting out selfishly or impulsively or destructively.

Lifestyle worshipers, perhaps you have had a struggle like mine. And perhaps like I am doing, you need to go back through your Bible and ‘erase’ all those noxious footnotes from all the promises of God, especially the one that says, “God is Good to all except me”. …

Deep down in your soul I know you know that God is Good all the time no matter what. So no matter what trial you may be in now; no matter what winter is engulfing your moments; no matter what doubts and fears are assaulting your faith: Remember, our Lord Jesus, whose birth we will soon celebrate, is also your Prince of Peace. So confess with confidence that God is Good all the time no matter what.  Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

— Romans 15:13 (NIV84)

  For [Christ Jesus] Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.

— Ephesians  2:14 (NIV84)

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

— John 14:27 (NIV84)

 Lord Jesus Christ, be my Prince of Peace in the midst of my winter. With You as my confident Hope I press on in the darkness clinging to the Truth that You are Good all the time no matter what. I praise Your Name for Your Faithfulness, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Trained By the Pain”

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Date: 9-14-14

(Below are some thoughts I had on James 1:12:  Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.  [NIV84])

One reason we can persevere under the trials (and these are more than slivers; they are crosses), is because of the Joy we have knowing there is a purpose in them. The purposes of a particular trial may have many facets, but one facet is becoming more like Jesus. Because of the Joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross and scorned its shame and is now seated at the right Hand of the Majesty on High. He is no longer wearing a crown of thorns, but He is now wearing the crown of the King of kings! And when we, too, are trained by the pain, we receive a crown, the crown of life.

Lifestyle worshipers, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23 NIV84).“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18 NASB 95). “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (2 Cor. 4:8-10 NIV 84). “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18 NIV 84).

Be encouraged to be trained by the pain. Remember: “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” — Luke 6:40 (NIV84)

A Humble Prayer

Heavenly Father, as You teach me to see through the current trial, let the Joy of Your Spirit flood my soul. Guard my heart and my mind with the Peace that passes all understanding: The Lord Jesus Christ, my Prince of Peace. I bless You, in Your Son’s Name Amen.