Mary Cantell

Focus on the light

While David struggled during his life in the Old Testament, what stands out is his faith. Despite the trouble he encountered, David knew God would be there to keep him from swerving too far off course, and the Lord’s guidance would be the lamp unto his feet.

In Psalm 27:11, David prayerfully sought the Lord as he dealt with his enemies whose goal was to do him harm.

Teach me your way, LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.

The only thing that can protect us from evil darkness on our road through life is to keep our focus on the light. When we make the wrong turn or become mesmerized by the dazzle of worldly lights, which beckon or entice, that’s not necessarily the right kind of light to follow! It’s more likely a warning of snares ahead. Be discerning.

We may never have such a trial as someone like David, who feared being murdered. Our struggles are often more subtle than someone lurking around the corner with a spear. Although, in the scheme of things, Satan lurks like a lion and wishes to consume us just the same. Keeping our eyes, ears, and whole body prepared for the insidious nature of the evil one, we are more likely to err on the side of caution than fall headlong into the trap.

 

Be still before God

Our earthly foes come in all forms, all guided by the prince of the power of the air. They seek to destroy, but they have no power in our lives to fulfill their objectives when God is at the helm and steering the ship.

To be silent before God and to wait on Him… to hear his still small voice is to empty ourselves of worldly noise and distraction. To allow our Creator to take prominence in our hearts and minds, as we struggle to silence the worldly chatter, is a sure balm for whatever ails us.

In a world where many man-made remedies are so easy to obtain, the first thing to reach for is prayer and the healing arms of Jesus—our prescription for life. In the midst of a sin-filled world where evil doesn’t seem to quit, there’s no better joy than knowing the Lord is on the throne, and he will lend the wisdom, aid, and guidance.

Holding onto the rock of our salvation is the only fortress against the battles. When we cling to our Lord and Savior, there is nothing else to fear for we are in capable hands. What can mere man do to remove us from the safety of Jesus?  When the uphill roads of life are under foot and when we feel we’re losing our traction, keeping our faith strong in the Lord through meditation and prayer is our only defense. Our hope remains steadfast as we dwell in Him and his Word.

 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” ~ Isaiah 40:31

 

A marvelous grace

 

The grace of God is so unfathomable, it may take an eternity to comprehend it. With our finite minds, there is so much about our gracious Lord that escapes us—even as God’s elect.

Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God ~ 1 Peter 3:18

Sadly, the unfathomable opportunity to have our sins separated “as far as the east is from the west” and no longer held over our heads in judgement, will not be the legacy of some. That they choose not to receive the free gift of salvation, offered through none other than God’s grace, is also unfathomable. But even Jesus himself does not force himself upon an unwilling, closed heart.

At best, the Lord gently calls us and woos us unto himself. He knows who are his and his patience with us knows no bounds. But it will not endure forever. There will be a Judgement Day.

 Now, what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach… love the Lord your God…walk in obedience to Him…choose life ~ Moses, Deut. 30:11

Our finite minds cannot begin to comprehend the depth of God’s grace to mankind. However, Jesus’s finished work on Calvary says it all.

 

Got life?

Sin is a horrible thing. Both in life and even death, the results of sin will have an immeasurable impact on our lives for we reap what we sow. When an unrepentant man dies, he dies under the weight of his own sin. Who can pardon one’s own accursedness? Certainly, not that man.

But Jesus took all that away. His trip to the cross on our behalf paved the way to life everlasting. Rest assured, when a believer dies, his soul does not decay through death; it remains untarnished. It’s alive—shiny and bright—in the presence of our Redeemer.

 “There is now no condemnation for those who believe” ~ Romans 6:14

 All of God’s faithful, through the redeeming power of Christ, are united with him in life and also death. The first Adam brought death but Christ brought us life. By faith, we are united to Christ, and by his resurrection we are assured of our own. Through the sin of the first Adam, all men became mortal. Through Christ’s resurrection, we have been given immortality.  For us, death means we enter a glorious rest and a new life that is everlasting. Not by our own moral fortitude but through the grace of Messiah Jesus.

 

Where’s your true strength?

No other stronghold is needed to keep a believer steady in the face of a storm than when we grab a hold of the rock of our salvation—our blessed Lord Jesus. The winds of defeat may rage all around us, but the buffeting blows can only threaten; they cannot take us down.

When a frightened David cried out for protection from the threats of Saul, he said, “You are my Lord…apart from you, I have no good thing.” In the midst of his situation, David knew that through his adversity, the only sure thing to keep him safe was his Lord.

When we place our trust in our Lord’s care, we know that we’ve entered a sacred place amid enemy territory. While the battle rages, we can be as sure as David and say, “My heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure because you will not abandon me…”

There’s nothing that can separate us from the Lord, his love, and his protection. Though our worldly foes—the flesh and the devil—would wish it otherwise, their efforts cannot stand up to the Lord’s plans and purposes for us. Should we go through hard times in the midst of keeping with the Lord, it is all part of his honing and refining to make us into the image of his beloved son. There is nothing to fear.

While on earth, there will be trouble, but Jesus tells us to take heart because he’s overcome the world!

Sometimes, our efforts to share the gospel feel like we’re just spinning our wheels. Like a laboratory rat, the wheels go round and round, but we see little progress in the lives of those to whom we’ve ministered. We pray for people or lend encouragement, invitations, etc., and yet there is no fruit for our labor.

Yet, the word of God says that when we serve Him out of a pure heart, it is not our job to reap the harvest. That’s the Lord’s doing. When we are committed to the Lord’s work, our labor is never in vain just because we don’t see change. Our job is to continue to sow the seeds of love. The rest is up to the Lord.

When our expectations don’t meet reality, remember that the work we do is for His glory and not our own. All that is done for the Lord is what counts—whatever the perceived outcome.

Encouraging others to love and good deeds should be an extension of our love for Christ as he leads us; otherwise, we may find our spirits dragging and frayed. Our efforts to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ as ministers to others is our joy, for he is the strength of our lives and he lends the ability. God’s plans and purposes are being fulfilled whether we see the results or not. He is still on the throne.

“Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:58

A new song

With the past several months a blur due to the imposed constraints of quarantine and restrictions taking precedence because of a global pandemic, it’s amazing to realize that spring slipped right by and now the calendar says…yikes, August?

While the new breed of “cancel” culture is thriving, so, too, is the Lord thriving. Our local government may mandate closings, but there’s more liberty in the oracles of God than any man can thwart. As believers, nothing has changed for us, only the culture around us. We remain steady in Christ despite our circumstances.

So, with the government’s restrictions slowly being lifted and most of Pennsylvania now in the green zone, we have double the reason to rejoice. May we sing a new song unto the Lord for delivering us from everything—most importantly, our sins through Christ.

What Path are you on?

Walking down the right path, we can rest assured of our security and safety. Despite the winds of defeat or the storms that buffet, no other anchor is needed to keep a believer’s head above water than holding onto the blessed rock of our salvation, our savior, Jesus.

In Psalm 16, David seeks the Lord and flees to him for protection from the threats of Saul. “You are my Lord,” he says. “Apart from you, I have no good thing.” David’s desire to cling to the Lord through his adversity is an example for believers today. “I will set the Lord continually before me; because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

David, like all believers, knew that God was his security and would never leave him. When we walk with the Lord and place our trust in his hands, we can rest knowing that he’s got our backs. “Therefore, my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure because you will not abandon me to the grave (Sheol) nor will you let your holy one see decay.”

On earth, there will be trials but by abiding in God’s word, we will not fall into the pit of destruction nor will we be shaken with every wind of trouble. If we stay on the path he ordains, we can rest in knowing he’s there.

Like David, we, too can say, “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

Looking to Jesus

The world has been— from the beginning of time—a place where man seeks his own predominance. Love of one’s self began in the Garden when the serpent tempted Eve to become a self-seeker and deny God’s commandment. The battle continues today to gain ground when we take our eyes off of Jesus.

Cultural clashing of one group over another is more than ideologies butting up against each other. It’s not just about civil unrest vs. civility, racial fairness vs. inequality. It’s more about man’s idea that he wants to take the reins of power upon himself to live, rule, and dictate toward these same ends. It’s all about domination and dictating as man sees fit and not seeking God in the process. Unless the Lord builds the house, our labors are in vain.

In the midst of cultural warfare, there is but one weapon that needs to be used. It’s God’s truth shared in love. If man were to take his cues from the Almighty and keep his eyes focused on him, there would be no necessity for war, rioting, or societal upheaval.

The right kind of hope

What do you hope in? To what do you ascribe your faith? Most would say they have faith in things that make them secure. The Hebrew word for faithfulness literally means “firmness”; figuratively, it means “security,” and “fidelity” is the moral definition.

In 2 Thessalonians 3:3, Apostle Paul appeals to the believers and reminds them the Lord is faithful. His promise to us is that he will strengthen and protect his children from the evil one because he is faithful.  He demonstrates this to us in several ways. Through his faithfulness, God not only protects us from evil, he sets limits on our temptations, forgives our sins, and sanctifies us.

While God is faithful to us in various way, our faith in him has different facets as well. There are different ways to ascribe our faith to God:  Faith as belief, faith as commitment, faith in our waiting on God, and faith in him as our refuge. Our whole world can fall apart, but Jesus has said that he will never leave us or forsake us.

God’s faithfulness is the pivot upon which turns his whole purpose for humanity. God calls and then through his goodness leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4; 1 John 1:9). “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

The better we truly know God, the more we will want to put our complete hope and trust in him. God’s children walk by faith and not by sight.