Proclaiming Jesus, Preaching the Bible, Providing Hope!
The Pastor's Pocket
by Pastor Bruce Freeman
Practical, personal, powerful truths from God's Word with fresh and relevant content for today's generation, The Pastors' Pocket is a series of devotions written by Pastor Bruce Freeman with the intent of enriching your walk with the Lord during your quiet time.
Do you know that “fear not” is the command most often repeated in the Bible?
It’s true! Fear and timidity are never God’s will for His people. They are never an option for children of the living God.
Fear and faith are opposites. When fear walks in, faith walks out. Yet we know without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). If we want to please God, we must conquer fear and walk in faith. Oh I know there are a hundred reasons to be afraid; high energy prices, home foreclosures, wars, civil unrest, sickness and disease. The list goes on and on. Yet the Lord would have us trust Him with our fears and not worry.
I love Psalm 46:1-2a, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear...” A choice is involved here. Either we worry all day, or we trust God. To live in fear is as much a disobedience to God as stealing or lying. Most of us haven’t thought of worry like this. Instead of living in fear, why not pray instead. Give your fears to the Lord and claim this promise, “I sought the Lord and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).
Some of life’s greatest disappointments stem from someone we know and trust leaving a wound on our soul. All of us, at some time or another, have been seriously disappointed in other people (even Christian brothers and sisters) by their behavior, their attitude, their words, or they responded to us in a way that we felt was inappropriate.
Knowing ahead of time that offences will come is a hard lesson, but it must be learned. Someone said, “the best of men is a man at best”. We must accept the reality that every person is a human being, subject to multiple failures and mistakes in their relationship with others. If we are prepared for disappointment, it will lessen the level of pain we feel, or at least lessen the frustration and help us heal and overcome our attitude toward them.
Here are a few “words of wisdom” to consider: (1) Your immediate family is a “classroom”. They are often the last to understand what you’re all about. Don’t be surprised if they misinterpret your passion for God. (2) Disappointment in people makes us reach for God (Psalm 73:28). It’s a built-in motivator. We will never develop intimacy with God as long as we place all our hopes and dreams in another human being. (3) Disappointment is the tool God uses to break our dependency on other people. Remember; only God will never disappoint. Put your faith and trust in Him.
When God does something wonderful for you, you have a right to be happy about it!
In Acts 3:1-10, consider the incredible miracle that this poor crippled man experienced. His whole life up until that moment was filled with misery, humiliation, pain and frustration, but by the power of God, his humiliation turned into jubilation! For the first time in his life, he was overwhelmed with pure joy. He was so happy that he just couldn’t hold it in! He entered the temple with Peter and John “walking and leaping and praising God”.
In most churches today, there is not enough rejoicing. The sounds of happy Christians, clapping, shouting, singing and testimonies of praise are too often absent in our services. It’s no wonder we don’t attract the lost! We’ve given the unsaved the impression that our salvation has made us miserable.
May I remind you dear friend that the gospel is still “good news”. God loves us, in spite of ourselves, and He still offers eternal life, forgiveness, peace and joy, to any and all who will believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Every Christian has been delivered from the penalty of sin. We’re not going to hell, we’re going to heaven! We have Holy Ghost power. We’re not going down, we’ve been lifted up by God’s amazing grace. Our past is forgiven, our present secure, and our future is as bright as the promises of God! We must bring our joy to the surface, just like this crippled man who was healed did.
You know how blessed you are. Go ahead and rejoice!
It’s been said that we learn two ways; mentors or mistakes.
Think about that. We can learn from some-one or some-thing. We can be instructed, coached, motivated, helped, or guided by someone with more wisdom, more knowledge, more skill, more talent or more strength than we have ourselves. Or, we can do things our own way, in our own limited understanding, with our own limited skills or resources. When we allow ourselves to be mentored, we can avoid many mistakes that we would make otherwise.
Over many years of pastoring, I’ve watched people make a lot of mistakes in their marriage, their parenting, their finances, and their health. They made poor decisions because they refused to learn from someone who could help them. Did they learn from their mistakes? Proably so, but those are hard lessons that led to a lot of frustration and heartache.
I’ve preached a lot of sermons through the years that would have helped some people with problems they are facing, but they never showed up to hear those sermons. I’m amazed at people who say they can’t afford to buy an audio sermon series or won’t buy a book written by someone with a lot of wisdom in a certain area, but they will pay a lot more for the mistakes they will make because they refused to be mentored.
Moses mentored Joshua. Elijah mentored Elisha. Naomi mentored Ruth. Timothy and Titus learned a lot from Paul. Who are you willing to learn from? Your future is determined by who you are willing to listen to.
Most of us live close enough to the ocean that we have been there and watched the waves crashing in on the shoreline. They just keep coming, don’t they? Wave after wave. The process never ceases. That to me is a picture of God’s grace. Yes, the grace of God. His undeserved favor poured out upon our lives, wave after wave, day by day, even minute by minute, His grace keeps coming.
God spoke to the Apostle Paul with these words, “My grace is sufficient for thee…” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Sufficient: meaning always enough. Just like the waves of the ocean, grace keeps coming. It never runs out. It never ceases to flow into our lives, in our crisis moments, the dark seasons of our lives. Just when we need God’s touch, He will provide His grace for whatever we face.
Have you ever thought, “Lord, when will my breakthrough come?”
I’m always amazed when I read the story of Rahab. Here is a woman facing a crisis. She is living in a city that is about to be destroyed and she knew it. Her situation, from a human perspective, looked hopeless. A crisis is a situation in which your future will take one direction or another. It will get better or it will get worse. But God can make a way!
Even though Rahab was a prostitute, faith rose up in her soul (read Joshua 2:9-11). She cried out for deliverance and God heard her cry.
Let’s note three amazing things: (1) God hears the cry of every person who calls to Him and declares that He is the true and living God (John 3:16, Romans 10:13). (2) God doesn’t determine your future based on your past. No matter where you’ve been, what you’ve done, or what you are, God will set you free and give you a future filled with the best He has to offer. (3) Your faith is what moves God. God doesn’t look at your resume, He looks for your faith. Your faith activates the grace of God.
When Jericho fell, Rahab was spared because she placed her faith in the God of heaven and earth. Trust the Lord. Your breakthrough will come!
“Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for Thee” Psalm 25:21
Wait? Oh my Preacher, that is so hard to do! I hear you. Waiting seems difficult, useless, and even impossible to do. But, it does have a significant role to play in our development and growth process.
This generation is one of rush, rush; hurry, hurry. I believe one of Satan’s tactics is to speed us up, bypassing the blessing that comes with lingering in the presence of God. We must learn to enjoy the now, to savor the present moment. After all, it has taken us a lifetime to get here!
Yesterday is in the tomb, tomorrow is in the womb. Today, this moment, is all we have. So why do we find it so hard to wait on the Lord if that’s what He instructs us to do? I have made many a blunder by failing to wait on God. Pushing though my agenda seldom works out.
Here are some tips to help you and I wait when necessary: (1) Waiting is hurry’s enemy. Patience brings power, vision, motivation and perseverance. All are things that we need (Isaiah 4:28-3). (2) True change occurs in the presence of God. Our impatience will cost us valuable time with our Maker, and we may make the biggest mistake of our life if we don’t wait on Him. (3) If we learn to “stay awhile” in His presence, we can hear His voice; hope can be birthed; wounds can be healed; confusion can disappear; love can be re-ignited; anger will subside; true joy will return.
Someone once wisely said, “no man is an island unto himself”.
The truth is we need each other. We need our family and friends, and we need the Lord most of all. Without Him we are nothing (John 15:5b). God designed us to be social creatures. After God made Adam, He said “it is not good that the man should be alone...” (Genesis 2:18). So, God created a helpmeet for Adam – Eve – who became his companion, his helper, his encourager, his wife, and the mother of his children. Keep reading the story and you will find the word “beget” over and over and over again. God filled the earth with people!
Whatever you are facing today, don’t try going it alone. Swallow a little pride and reach out to others to help you bear your burdens and cares. If you look around you, you will find a lot of folks to help you along your journey. This is one reason the local church is so valuable to a believer. A church is a family! Brothers and sisters, pastors, teachers, administrators, talented, gifted people God placed all around you.
Quit trying to be an “island” and instead be a continent filled with others to lean on and learn form. The great Apostle Paul rejoiced over the many friends from churches who reached out to him in his need (Philippians 4:16). He helped others also. Try to interact with someone today. God just may connect you with a friend...again.
We could all use a lot more boldness in these evil days.It seems the rotten culture around us is getting more wicked every passing day, and bolder too. It’s displayed at parades, on social media, in politics, in music, in education. I’m asked the question all the time, “What can we do?” We can do what the Christians in the first century did amid an aggressive persecution against the early church and their leaders (Acts 4:29). They asked God for boldness.They needed BOLDNESS and they needed courage to continue to witness and preach the gospel. We need the same.
God heard their request and answered their prayer (Acts 4:31). He filled them with the power of the Holy Spirit and made them bold.Their witness efforts only increased, they never wavered.
In this season of ungodliness, have you asked God to make you more bold for the gospel’s sake? This is not the time to cower in fear and yield ground to evil forces.We must stand strong for Christ and BE BOLD! Ask the Lord to help you – He will.
“Be thou not envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them.” Proverbs 24:1
A lot of people have said to me over the years, “Preacher, there are just so many bad things happening in my life”. And then I think about the people they are associating with on a regular basis. It’s no wonder bad things are happening all around them.
One, yes I said “one”. Just one wrong person in your life can lead to disaster (remember Samson?). We make choices every day, but few choices we make are more critical than who we choose to associate with.
The Bible has a lot to say about unwise associations. In Proverbs 1:10,2:11-14, 6:3-10, 14:7, 16:27, 22:24-25, and 23:17, we are taught to be wary of lazy people, naughty people, angry people, people who lie and deceive, the proud, the disrespectful, the rebellious, the foolish.
When you remove yourself from the wrong people in your life, the wrong things stop happening. When the right kind of people are around you; honest, kind, respectful, wise, spiritual, positive and happy; it affects you. Good things start happening in your life instead of bad things.
Take inventory of your friendships today. It’s up to you to choose your friends wisely!