Just Because He Is

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By Tom Chase

Remember the story of Job, a very rich man, had everything he needed and more? Then trouble struck him and he lost everything except his life. His riches, his family, his reputation, and even his health — all were gone.

Job’s response when he found out?

Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. He said,

“I came naked from my mother’s womb,
and I will be naked when I leave.
The Lord gave me what I had,
and the Lord has taken it away.
Praise the name of the Lord!”

Job 1:20-21 NLT

I have to say that I am totally blown away by a man whose response to trouble like this is to worship God. Wow! Really?

I am pretty sure that is not our typical response, and I know it is not mine. Yet what bothers me is that it should be. Over the past several weeks I have been pondering Job’s response. I have been checking his response compared to the things that cause me (and, I believe, sometimes us) to praise God. It seems to me that we have become really good at praising God for what He has done … and we should do that. But I also believe that we (and I) need to become really good at worshiping God because He is.

There is so much to appreciate about our creator God. Scripture tells us that He is glorious … that He is beyond compare … that there is no one else like Him. We do see some of that in the things He does for us. It gives us a glimpse into His character. But I have to say that He is worthy of our praise because He is — not just because of what He has done for us (or me). As I continue to think this through, I have been finding myself in awe of the person of God and I have found joy in God in praising Him simply for Him. He is our greatest “Thing,” and not because He gives us stuff, but because He is.

If you are feeling like your praise has been heavy on the “because-of-what-God-has-done” side, take some time and just praise Him for Him and give Him glory!

If a song will encourage you in this way, “Just Because You Are” by Philip Sandifer has been an encouragement for me.

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Limits

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By Jeff Foerster

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise God for your limitations. What?! Yes, I said that. Sunny days and puppies, candy and rainbows, vacations and honeymoons; all are easy to praise God for.

When the livin’ is easy, the praises are plentiful. But limitations? Isn’t it enough to simply endure them without swearing? What limitations are you facing today? Are you limited by a lack of money, making you unable to retire, purchase a house, or meet monthly expenses? Do you have physical limitations that keep you from being or doing what you greatly desire? Is your limitation time, frustrating you because you’re unable to accomplish the goals your eyes can see but your hands can’t quite reach? Do the limits before you involve relationships with others?

My limitations create in me a need. No matter how much I am able, it is not enough. Neither can my needs be satisfied by others. Two choices emerge: hopelessness or dependence. Hopelessness is the reward of self-determination. Dependence is the route to peace.

Wherever and whenever you find limits, opportunity has arisen. Choice lies before you. The most difficult and unnatural of these choices for me is also the most beneficial: praising God. I would often rather complain or sulk. I would rather seethe or look for someone to blame, or at least displace my anger toward someone else. Yet none of these things will help, save praising God.

How do we praise Him in such times? We must acknowledge that our circumstances do not control our mindset. We have the choice; we can train our thoughts upon that which ails us or we can place them upon Him who heals us. Doing so will not make difficulties disappear, but it will put them in perspective. Scripture tells us to, “… set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2) When I cast my gaze upward, I begin to loosen my grip on this life. My limitations begin to fade from view.

A fellow once said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” I agree. For in knowing my own limitations I can truly appreciate the God who has none.

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Disneyland Radio

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By Nate Champneys

Think about the most difficult thing you have ever had to endure: A divorce, the death of a loved one, a season of unemployment, or worse. Did you feel you could talk to God about it? When you came to church, did you feel connected to God by the worship? Or did you feel disconnected and alone?

The reason I ask these questions is that something has been bothering me for awhile. Last year I used many Psalms as the basis for worship themes, and one thing I noticed is the large number of laments in the Psalms. Literally 70 percent of the Psalms contain lamenting (or mourning) language. I decided I wanted to do a service on lamenting, and I was very surprised to find that there are very, very few worship songs that are laments.

This brought me to take a closer look at the Church in general in this area. As I listened to Christian radio, I couldn’t help but feel a disconnect. Over and over I heard the words, “positive and uplifting” or “uplifting and kid-safe.” I felt like I was listening to Disneyland Radio because it was “happy all the time.” As I tried to think of regularly used worship songs in the church that are laments, I only needed one hand to count. I thought about my own planning of services and the lack of laments.

But if 70 percent of the Psalms are laments, that should tell us something about life and how hard it is. David, the one man in history who is referred to as “a man after God’s own heart” said to God, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13). And it’s not just Psalm 13 which speaks like this — it’s literally 70 percent of the Psalms!

This should tell us something: It is okay to be weak. It is okay to not have it all put together. It is okay to cry out to God. It is okay to be so upset that you feel like you can’t even pray. In Psalm 77, David talks about being so upset he cannot speak. Have you ever been there? I know I have.

When you look at the life of David, it is clear that very few men have had such a close relationship with God. What characterizes David’s relationship with God? Brutal honesty. David tells God exactly how he feels. He tells God when he feels alone. He tells God when he feels like God has turned His back on him.

But there is one other thing that characterizes David’s relationship with God. While being brutally honest with God in how he felt, he always moved on to remembering the faithfulness of God. Psalm 77 is a perfect example of this. David spends the first half of the chapter crying out to God in his distress, but in verse 10 the whole chapter shifts. He then says, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles long ago.” David continues on to list off the amazing things God had done in the history of His people.

This life can be brutal and it’s okay to be weak. It’s okay to weep. It’s okay to be upset, and it’s okay to tell God exactly how you feel. That is exactly what He wants from us. It’s okay for a time, as long as that is not where we stay. We also need to remember. We need to do what David did over and over in the Psalms: Lament, weep, and cry out to God, but then take time to remember His faithfulness.

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Count your blessings

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by Gordy McCoy

Welcome to the McCoy Home. In our dining room is a maple table that was bought in 1971 for our first anniversary. On the center of the table is a beautiful glass jar with several pieces of paper in it. Written on each is either an answer to prayer or a particular blessing. We want to pay attention to what God is doing, thank Him and praise Him for all He is to us. We want to realize His loving provision and His tender care.

Like many others, things have been a little rough for us emotionally and financially, so we decided to focus on the positive things happening in our lives. We needed to watch and see the different ways God was helping us and showing He cares. This is helping us so much.

At first, we were writing His blessings on a tablet. The first week we had 3 pages full. Not because we are blessed more than anyone else, but that we were taking time to notice the details, the not so little things He does. Like the old Sunday School song,

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS,

NAME THEM ONE BY ONE,

COUNT YOUR MANY BLESSINGS,

SEE WHAT GOD HAS DONE!

A few of our recent blessings:

  • Capri’s adoption anniversary date December 12 … remember how we felt: the relief, the joy, the thankfulness!
  • 40 lbs. of free chicken … He is our provider!
  • Good news at Gordy’s doctor appointment: the blood clots are going away, his blood levels are normal, no more Coumadin, no more surgery because leg is healing well. He is our Healer and Great Physician!

Our beautiful blessing jar came from our new friend at church, Chol. When Linda unwrapped it on Sunday she knew what we would use it for. Chol bought it and wrapped our gift, but we know ultimately Who it was from. We thanked them both.

So yesterday, we brought our oldest granddaughter back to her house after taking her for a gourmet meal at McDonald’s, and Jack was skyping with our daughter in Kansas. We are all talking with her cute little family and she texted Linda. Linda screams with joy because on her phone it says, “Mom, I’m pregnant!!!!!” Wow, God sometimes we are utterly amazed by Your overwhelming generosity of Your grace, mercy and love.

So right now, it is 3:00 in the morning, God prompted me to get up and write this for the Last Word. I had already wrote something else but this is what He wanted me to share.

Another blessing. Thanks, God.

So, count your blessings, name them one by one, count your many blessings and see what God has done. Share them with someone and see how your blessings may be a blessing to someone else.

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Thanksgiving … Giving thanks for what?

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by Pastor Martin Schlomer

As we enter into preparations for Thanksgiving, I want to prepare you to take a different approach from what you may have taken in the past. Regardless of your circumstances, God has met all of us in various ways this past year. How he meets us reflects His character. For example, He met Hagar at the lowest and most desperate point in her life (Genesis 16.13). As she wept, God met her and revealed Himself to her. She responded, “You are the God who sees me.”

How has God met you this past year? Please … give serious consideration and reflection to this question. He has met every one of us in various ways. Sometimes, we don’t see it because we don’t make time to reflect and remember.

I have listed below some of the many names of God revealed in Scripture. Each name illustrates one way God meets us. This Sunday, we will have our annual Thanksgiving celebration service. During the service, I will give you the opportunity to answer the question, “Which name(s) represent the way(s) God has met you this past year?” Together, we will remember and celebrate the manifold glory of our Father through your stories.

May you and your family experience the presence of our Father as you celebrate His manifold grace!

God says: “I Am Your …

1. Abba

2. Advocate

3. Almighty

4. Alpha

5. Author of our Faith

6. Bread of Life

7. Bridegroom

8. Comforter

9. Consuming Fire

10. Cornerstone

11. Counselor

12. Creator

13. Emmanuel

14. Eternal God

15. Everlasting

16. Father

17. Faithful and True

18. Glory of the Lord

19. God Almighty

20. God Most High

21. God Who Sees

22. Guide

23. Healer

24. High Priest

25. Holy One

26. Hope

27. I Am

28. Jesus

29. Judge

30. King of Kings

31. Lamb of God

32. Life

33. Light of the World

34. Lily of the Valley

35. Lion of Judah

36. Living Water

37. Lord

38. Lord of All

39. Lord of Glory

40. Lord of Lords

41. Love

42. Master

43. Mediator

44. Merciful God

45. Messiah

46. Omega

47. Potter

48. Prince of Peace

49. Provider

50. Purifier

51. Redeemer

52. Refiner’s Fire

53. Resurrection

54. Righteous One

55. Rock

56. Ruler

57. Savior

58. Servant

59. Shepherd

60. Shield

61. Source

62. Sovereign Lord

63. Spirit of God

64. Teacher

65. Truth

66. Vine

67. Way

68. Wisdom

69. Witness

70. Wonderful

71. Word

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Spinning out of control

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by Jeff Foerster

Wings spread wide. Whirling and swirling. Nothing within grasp. Three choices were before me: Do nothing and watch. Hasten its demise. Save. I reached down and the moth pressed into me as it made another rotation in the water. I lifted it from its watery mess.

I don’t know exactly what incited me to keep this tiny creature, whose relatives I have quite frankly often viewed as pests, from drowning. I placed it on dry ground and watched as it stretched each weary leg slowly outward and away from the churning water. On its own it would not have ended well.

That’s when it hit me – no, not the moth. It was Jesus. I realized I had been the one twirling to and fro, grasping at many things, but securing nothing. But God reached down, gently, until I pressed into Him. He lifted me from the mess.

Think back to what your life was like before Jesus. Thank Him. Praise Him. Recall and recount the ways He has changed you. He is not through with you, and no one is beyond His reach.

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