Assurance

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Now, this is what the Lord says, the one who created you, O Jacob, and formed you, O Israel: “Don’t be afraid, for I will protect you. I call you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I am with you; when you pass through the streams, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not harm you. … Isaiah 43.1-2

The assurance, that the prophet passed on to the remnant of Israel, was given to those who had remained faithful to God, who was, and continues to be faithful.

In John 8, Jesus made the comparison of children and slaves. The Jews were taking pride in their physical heritage, but were no longer obeying God due to their rejection of Jesus. They had become slaves to sin. Jesus put their place in perspective by stating that they were not the children of Abraham for he acted differently, verso 40. Those who obey God are the spiritual sons of Abraham.

The prophet stated that God would protect those whom he called by name, those that belonged to him. No matter what came upon them, he was with them and would bring them through it. In Matthew 16.18, Jesus stated that not even death would be able to overpower his church. The faithful Christian has the assurance that nothing can separate him or her from God’s love, Romans 8.38-39.

#risingjoy #Isaiah #assurance

Do Not Fear

For I am the Lord your God, the one who takes hold of your right hand, who says to you, ‘Don’t be afraid, I am helping you.’ Isaiah 41.13

The Israelites had disobeyed God. As a result, they were overthrown and taken into captivity. God was about to bring them back together from where they had been taken. Israel did not feel up to the task.

In Isaiah 41.10, the Lord told them not to be afraid because he was with them. He would give them strength and uphold them in his right hand. The right hand was a symbol of the Lord’s power to save and protect. Exodus 15.6 told of the majestic power of his right hand that shattered the enemy.

The Lord continues to be with his disciples today. God knows the number of hairs that each one has on his head, Luke 12.7. Jesus gives us his peace telling us not to be distressed or lacking courage, John 14.27. The Hebrew author writes to remind us that God will not abandon us, Hebrews 13.5.

Truly, we are privileged to know who God is and how we may serve him. There is no need to be afraid, for he is helping us.

#risingjoy #Isaiah #fear

Soar Like the Eagle

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

But those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength; they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings, they run without growing weary, they walk without getting tired. Isaiah 40.31

Do you ever get tired? If you are like the common person, you do. How do you recharge or realign yourself? Some might take a vacation. If you cannot get away, you might read a book, watch a movie, or soak in a warm tub. These things might provide temporary relief, but for the one who is mentally tired, they are like bandaids.

When you have the Lord as your lifeline, you can be renewed daily. The daily practice of communing with him through his word has the power to renew your spirit and recharge your batteries, 2 Corinthians 4.16. You can cast all of your anxieties on him in prayer because he cares about you, 1 Peter 5.7.

Find your strength in him. Soar like the eagle!

#risingjoy #Isaiah #strength

Pleasant Words

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16.24

Words have power. They have the power, both to destroy and to edify.

James 3 talks about the tongue. It is hard to tame. It is compared to a flame that can quickly start a blazing forest fire that destroys everything in its path.

Psalm 12.6 reads that the Lord’s words are absolutely reliable. All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for us, 2 Timothy 3.16. God’s word teaches a person how to live. It teaches you how to make corrections in your life. Scripture trains us how to live righteously.

Proverbs 12.18 states that words that are recklessly spoken are like the thrust of a sword. They have the power to debilitate a person to the point that the person may never overcome what was said. Negative words can destroy a person’s character.

Proverbs 12.18 also states that the words of the wise bring healing. Positive affirmations can change a person’s habits. They can change a person’s perspective and attitude.

The words that we use in speaking with others or with ourselves are powerful. Let our words be pleasant and reliable, with the ability to heal.

#risingjoy #Proverbs #words

God is Awesome

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

The Lord is near all who cry out to him, all who cry out to him sincerely. Psalm 145.18

This psalm, written by David, is a hymn of praise to God. It talks about the greatness of God. It extols his mighty acts and amazing deeds. It recognizes God’s mercy, compassion, patience, and love. It states that the Lord is just in all his actions and exhibits love in all that he does. He is there to help those who cry out to him in truth.

Many of the same ideas are stated in the New Testament. In Matthew 6, Jesus taught that God takes care of his creation. He feeds the birds as an example. He certainly loves mankind and has shown that love in an amazing way. John 3.16 states that he gave his own Son to die for us. Romans 8.28 states that all things work together for good for those who love God.

God is near and his love for us is real. In return, he asks that we love him and show that love through obedience to the truth.

#risingjoy #Psalms #love

Deliverance

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Magnify the Lord with me! Let’s praise his name together! Psalm 34.3

This psalm was written be David. The superscription makes a reference to 1 Samuel 21.10-15. David had gone to King Achish of Gath to flee from Saul who was King of Israel.

When David heard what the king’s servants were saying about him to Achish, he was very afraid. He altered his behavior and pretended to be insane in their presence. David was able to leave there without coming to harm.

This psalm praises the Lord. The Christian should be continually praising him. Our boasting should be in the Lord and all that he has done for us. As his name becomes known in the earth, his glory is increased and magnified. He answers our prayers for help and delivers us from our fears.

Let us be like David and taste and see that the Lord is good!

#risingjoy #Psalms #praise

The Shepherd’s Care

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He takes me to lush pastures, he leads me to refreshing water. He restores my strength. He leads me down the right paths for the sake of his reputation. Even when I must walk through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff reassure me. Psalm 23.1-4

David wrote this psalm from his own experience. David was a shepherd who took care of his father’s flocks, 1 Samuel 16.11-13. He was well aware of the flock’s dependence on the shepherd.

Jesus described himself as the good shepherd in John 10. He takes his sheep and helps them to find pasture, verse 9. He also lays down his life for his sheep, verse 11.

Jesus knows his own. They are the ones who listen to his voice and follow him. He will care for them and save them. Are you a part of his flock?

#risingjoy #Psalms #shepherding

Sleep Well

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

I will lie down and sleep peacefully, for you, Lord, make me safe and secure. Psalm 4.8

Do you have nights when your mind is in overdrive? It jumps from one item to another, usually, from one problem to another. You toss and turn in your bed, knowing that you need to sleep to face the next day. And it just does not come. Or when sleep comes, it is shallow and fitful?

What do you do with your cares and your worries? Do you stubbornly hang onto them, determined that you will resolve them yourself, while knowing that it is not possible?

Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5.7 that you should cast all you cares on God because he cares for you. Paul wrote for you not to be anxious about anything, Philippians 4.6, but to tell your requests to God, and his peace will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Only the Lord can provide safety and security! Make sure that you abide in him!

Sleep well, my friend.

#risingjoy #Psalms #sleep

Do Not Fear!

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

The Lord will fight for you, and you can be still. Exodus 14.14

After leaving Egypt boldly, the Israelites are terrified. They are at the edge of the Red Sea watching Pharoah’s army overtake them. They cry out to Moses, blaming him for the situation in which they find themselves, fearful that they are about to die in the desert.

How does Moses respond? He tells them not to fear, to stand firm, and to watch the Lord save them from Egypt, Exodus 14.13.

How does the Lord respond? Basically he tells Moses and the people to quit crying and to move forward. Moses parts the Red Sea. The Israelites walk through the middle of it, not through mud, but on dry ground. Then, in the morning watch, he threw the Egyptian army into a panic by jamming the wheels of their chariots, Exodus 14.25. They wanted to flee for they recognized that the Lord was fighting for the Israelites! After extending his hand toward the sea, Moses watched as the waters returned to their normal place, covering the army of Pharoah, which was completely destroyed.

Fear can be debilitating. It can stop us where we stand and cause us to freeze, unable to even breathe properly. In fearful times, we need to remember Moses’ words to the Israelites. Do not fear! Stand firm! Watch for God’s salvation! He will fight for you!

#risingjoy #Exodus #fear

Are You Blind or Do You See?

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith excellence, to excellence, knowledge; to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness; to godliness, brotherly affection; to brotherly affection, unselfish love. For if these things are really yours and are continually increasing, they will keep you from becoming ineffective and unproductive in your pursuit of knowing our Lord Jesus Christ more intimately. But concerning the one who lacks such things – he is blind. That is to say, he is near-sighted , since he has forgotten about the cleansing of his past sins. 2 Peter 1.5-9

How is your sight? Do you look forward to the future, striving to make every effort to grow in your faith? Or do you make excuses or complain because you feel weak spiritually? Are you reading your Bible daily or does it sit unopened on the shelf gathering dust?

Christians must feed upon God’s word. However, it cannot go in one ear and out the other. Focus is necessary to renew our minds, making it possible to grow, through practicing what we are learning. Just as stagnation in the physical realm is unhealthy, it is debilitating in the spiritual realm. Use it or lose it! If we are growing, we will be effective and productive in the kingdom.

#risingjoy #2-Peter #spiritual-growth

Transforming Prejudice

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

My brothers and sisters, do not show prejudice if you possess faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For if someone comes into your assembly wearing a gold ring and fine clothing, and a poor person enters in filthy clothes, do you pay attention to the one who is finely dressed and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and to the poor person, “You stand over there,” or “Sit on the floor”? If so, have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil motives? James 2.1-4

The difference that Jesus makes in your life can be seen in how you treat other people. God is not a respecter of people. Everyone is on the same level for him. Since all men have sinned, Romans 3.23, we are all guilty.

When someone becomes a follower of Jesus, he learns that he must put away his old way of life. He must make a change in his actions and attitudes. How can someone do this? We all know how hard change can be. Yet, Paul wrote in Ephesians 4.23 that one must renew his way of thinking. This renewing of your mind has a transforming effect bringing about the desired change, Romans 12.2.

This transformation does not give in to fear, 2 Timothy 1.7. It acts out of a spirit of power, love, and self-control. Our love for others must reach out to everyone defying what the world would determine as who is worthy and who is not. Christians must not show prejudice to others, no matter their social or racial status.

At times, we give in to prejudice because of our own fears and insecurities. Or we want to impress someone to gain their favor so they will like us. In the end, it is not important whom one impresses or fails to impress here in this life. God is the one who matters. How do I appear before him?

#risingjoy #James #prejudice

Not a pleasant way to live

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

For we too were once foolish, disobedient, misled, enslaved to various passions and desires, spending our lives in evil and envy, hateful and hating one another. But “when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, … Titus 3.3-5

People are not innately good. In fact, they are quite the opposite! When left without discipline, a child will learn to be very selfish, throwing fits of temper when they do not get their way. Unfortunately for the child, no one takes pleasure in their company and many may cringe when they arrive. As an adult, their behavior will cause them many problems.

Paul wrote to Titus describing how man acted without God in their life. It was not a pleasant way to live. It was very negative and often full of strife. It seemed hopeless. Mankind has not changed.

Then God stepped into the picture. He had always been there waiting for the right time. God loves man. He always has. But he gave mankind the ability to choose. Man did not choose wisely. Romans 3.23 reads that all sin and fall short of God’s glory. Once having sinned, you are stained and not capable of restoring a relationship with God. Romans 6.23 teaches that the wages of sin is death; that is what is earned.

But God, in his kindness and mercy, made it possible for everyone to make another choice. One choice is to stay in sin, thereby being separated from God, Isaiah 59.1-2. Or you can be born through the washing of the new birth, through faith, obedience, and baptism. The basis of his mercy makes it possible. The result is renewal through the Holy Spirit bringing peace and hope.

#risingjoy #Titus #choice

Functional families

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

In this way they will train the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, fulfilling their duties at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the message of God may not be discredited. Titus 2.4-5

Paul wrote to Titus whom he had left in Crete. He had a task for Titus to do. Paul wanted him to set in order the remaining matters and to appoint elders in every town, 1.5.

Paul gave Titus the characteristics that the elders were to have. The man had to be faithful to the message and live according to the faithful teaching. In this way, he could encourage others to live faithfully and correct those who taught against it.

Our conduct must be consistent with the sound teaching of the truth. We must read and study the scriptures to know what sound teaching contains. Then we must put into practice what we teach.

The older women were given instructions to train the younger women in the way they should live. It was important that they were keepers of the home, loving their husbands as well as their children and taking care of their needs.

The reason for this was that the message of God not be discredited. God wants Christian families to be functional. He has left instructions on how that can best be done.

#risingjoy #Titus #women

A serious problem in the church

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

But reject foolish and ignorant controversies, because you know they breed infighting. And the Lord’s slave must not engage in heated disputes but be kind toward all, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance and then knowledge of the truth … 2 Timothy 2.23-25

Many times false teaching can become a serious problem in the church. It is something that has happened since shortly after Jesus walked on this earth. Paul dealt with the problem on several occasions.

Christians need to be able to deal with false teachers. Paul told Timothy to reject foolish and ignorant controversies. How do you know if something is foolish in order to reject it? You have to know the word of God and its contents to be able to discern if something is true or false. That can only be done through reading and studying the scriptures.

Peter wrote in his first letter that you should always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope that you possess, 3.15. You should answer with respect. However, if you know someone is teaching something that is not true, it is important to patiently and gently correct the teaching.

The tool that is used to correct false teaching is scripture. 2 Timothy 3.16-17 tells us that the scriptures are inspired by God and can be used to teach, correct and train people so that these can be capable and equipped for every good work.

#risingjoy #2-Timothy #false-teachers

Stop lying!

Rising Joy, Vicki Matheny

Instead, be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you. Ephesians 4.32

In Ephesians 4.25-32, Paul wrote regarding several things that had to be stopped or put away. These dealt with attitudes, actions, and the tongue.

The tongue is such a small member of the body. Yet, when it is used for evil, it can destroy the strongest of relationships. We must lay aside falsehoods. Stop lying! There is no such thing as a little white lie! A lie is a lie.

Be angry and do not sin. When we are angry, we often let our mouths go off without any attempt at control. Paul wrote to not give the devil an opportunity. Watch what you say when you are angry! Control your tongue.

Paul also encouraged the Ephesians to speak only those words that would be beneficial to the one hearing them, putting away any evil, slanderous talk. Make sure that your words give grace to those who are listening!

How do you accomplish this? By being kind and compassionate to one another, you can use your tongue to build up and not to tear down. By forgiving one another, you can stem the flow of anger that can cause angry words to spew forth like hot lava.

Always remembering that you have been forgiven by God in Christ Jesus!

#risingjoy #Ephesians #anger