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Friday, May 16, 2014

It Came to Pass Not to Stay

The Reality of  Our Struggles 

I am excited to share with you this week's Koinonia Reflection from Psalm 25 shared with us by Linda Bottoms, who emphasizes the importance of remembering when it comes to our relationship with God, we are not alone. 

Koinonia Reflections

Linda Bottoms 
  • Cain and Abel had some issues 
  • Job (Trial was his middle name)
  • Moses led a bunch of people who murmured and complained a lot
  • Daniel dealt with the lions with very sharp teeth
  • Noah suffered ridicule while he built a boat before anyone even knew what rain was
  • Three Hebrew children found themselves in a fiery furnace. They had to figure out how to take the heat
  • Esther was living with the threat of death for her choice in talking to the KING
  • Ruth and Naomi were widows who had to make difficult choices which would change their lives forever
  • Mary and Joseph lived with whispers and gossip 
Psalm 25 
 "O Lord, I give my life to you. I trust in you, my God. Do not let me be disgraced (ashamed) or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat.
"No one who trusts in you will be disgraced, but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others. Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow.

"Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me (the God of my salvation); all day long I put my hope (and wait) on you. Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love, which you have shown from long ages past.

"Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth. Remember me in the light of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, O Lord. The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray.  He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.
"For the honor of your name, O Lord, forgive my many, many sins. Who are those who fear the Lord? He will show them the path they should choose. They will live in prosperity, and their children will inherit the land. The Lord is a friend to those who fear him. He teaches them his covenant. My eyes are always on the Lord, for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies. Turn to me and have mercy, for I am alone and in deep distress. My problems go from bad to worse. Oh, save me from them all! 

"Feel my pain and see my trouble. Forgive all my sins. See how many enemies i have and how viciously they hate me! Protect me (keep my soul) and deliver me. Let me not be ashamed, for i put my trust in you (in you I take refuge) 
"May integrity and honesty protect me; for I put my hope in you.

The New Living Translation   


The first half of this psalm is a plea for mercy and deliverance. Psalm 25 is a psalm of lament (a cry, one of weeping/mourning); but in the middle of David's sorry he petitions the Lord to forgive him. Although the Psalm contains statements of an expression of grief, psalm and a repentant psalm, the mixture of the two forms, makes this one unique. 
According to commentator, Matthew Henry, this psalm is a word puzzle, with one poetic line for each successive  letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Unfortunately, in English we (can ) miss it. 
  • Verses 1 - 3  reveals the dependence that David had upon God. It is his very soul crying out.  
Have you ever been in a place where everything seemed to be failure rather than success -- 
It seems everyone and everything is against you 
(Ask Yourself) Where have you placed your trust?  

Psalm 143:8 tells us, "Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go; for to you I entrust my life."   

  • Verses 1-3 speaks to waiting on the Lord -- the equivalent of hoping in Him ("Let no one who waits on the Lord be ashamed" - v 3)  
Psalm 40:1 tells us, "I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry"  
  • Verses 1-3  Let me not be ashamed is the opening and closing appeal of Psalm 25. That we would not be ashamed or disgraced and that our enemies would not rejoice in our defeat. Shame is the intended end of the enemies of God but not of the faithful. 
Reasonable Service
  • Verses 4-7 Show me is an appeal to God to enter into David's life more directly, to help him become conformed to the character of God.
Romans 12:1-2 tells us, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." 
  • Verses 4- 7 There are two ways we can go. We can go God's way or our own way. (Which way will you go?)  
Proverbs 14:12 tells us, "...there is a way which seems right to man, but its end is the way of death..." 
  • Verses 4-7 God gives us a choice. We can walk in the path of our choosing -- Or we can choose God's Way. 
Being Guided by His truth   

"Guide" means someone else is leading...we are asking God to guide us in his truth, letting him be the leader and us the followers. 
"Teach" is to impart, to instill in us His Ways.
  • Verses 4-7 Point out to me your path o Lord; the right road I should be on
  • Verses 4-7 All about Your great mercy and unfailing love  
Lamentations 3:22-23 tells us "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."
  • Verse 4-7 Sins of our Youth speaks to both the sins of immaturity and the transgressions of adulthood. Both need forgiveness.  He is faithful to forgive us. 
1 John 1:9 tells us, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 
  • Verses 4-7  Don't remember those sins of my youth. Remember me in your unfailing love, merciful God 
Expressing our Confidence in God  

In this second section of the psalm David expresses his confidence and trust in God.
  • Verses 8-22 Good and Upright. In the midst of David's plea for forgiveness, he praises God by speaking of two of God's characteristics. God is both. He extends mercy to repentant believers and at the same time promises not to allow the guilty to go unpunished. 
  • Verses 8-22  He leads the humble in doing right; teaching them HIS ways      

Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths" 
  • Verses 8-22  His unfailing love (mercy)...His faithfulness (truth) for those who keep his covenant and obey his demands. 
  • Verses 8-22  Who fears the Lord is shown the path they should choose 
Psalms 111:10 tells us, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding -- have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever"

Obeying his commandments and Growing in wisdom 
  • Verses 8-22  God's love and his righteousness are revealed in His provision of salvation 
  • Verses 8-22  God forgives us for Christ's sake, never for Our sake. We do not merit forgiveness. It's only by what Christ did on the cross on our behalf. 
  • Verses 8-22  The "secret" of the Lord speaks to him being that friend to those that fear him, as he teaches them his covenant. 
We tell our secrets to God our friend in whom we trust. God wants to share his secrets with us. To be a friend of the Lord, we need to fear Him and stop questioning Him with every aspect of our lives.

Are we constantly in a questioning state?

When we walk with the Lord, many times we do not need to ask questions; we just need to put our hand in His and trust Him. 

The truth of scripture and of Psalm 25? No matter what we are going through today, next week, or next year, it will not stay as it is forever. Our troubles may come to pass, but they are not here to stay. 
  • Trust in the Lord and he will show you, guide you in his truth, teach you.
  • We need to look for God's path, and always remember he is faithful. Stop asking questions and just hold on to his hand and let him do the leading  
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  tells us, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

Monday, May 5, 2014

Do you ever find yourself in the pit of despair?

The Pit of Despair

After a few minutes of sharing a personal testimony, Michelle Connolly offered up some words of wisdom according to scripture that might minister to those of us who often find ourselves in that "Pit of Despair." We've all been there. Some of us may be there now.

The following is an edited portion of what Michelle shared with the Koinonia Community. Take time to share with us and be blessed by the scriptures we can all cling to.

(When) our feelings enslave us, keep us in bondage, God will always provide a way out. Ezra pointed that out in his prayer.

We have a choice to get out of the pit and grow to the heights the Lord wants for us, but few will choose God’s grace.

The Israelites had been captured and brought to Babylon but God promised they would be able to go back to their home land and rebuild. (Unfortunately) when given a chance to do so few chose to do that (Ezra 9:8-9).

When something happens to us, we as human beings, children of God, daughters of the Almighty Father, all of us full of sin nature can find ourselves in the pit.

You know the place, the place where we go when we get to be in our feelings of wallowing and self-pity. (More often than not) along comes someone who can listen and(too often) we want that person to jump into the pit with us.

But how often does God himself come by the pit, stick out HIS hand so HE can pull us out, and we (respond by getting) angry?


Does this ever sound familiar to you? “No God don’t pull me out, jump in here with me while I sit in my feelings”.

God tries all kinds of tactics, including sending those people HE knows will help lend a hand out of the pit. Sadly, we struggle with that by turning away from the help.  In the confusion of our feelings   

In the moment of struggle and in the moment of confusion It is then that we can’t recognize God’s hand, his presence in action.

Why can’t we recognize God’s hand or presence?
What stops us from reaching for HIS help?
What stops us from seeing the help HE is providing?
Why can’t we recognize HIS divine intervention? 

God’s word will not teach you to wallow in your circumstance, “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along” (Psalm 40). 

God’s word will not encourage you to stay downThe name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10), “So do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10), 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) 

There are many more verses so take time to read them… John 16:33, Ps 16:8, Ps 46:1-3,2Tim 1:7, Ps 55:22 (Take some time to search out your own. The Bible is full of verses that can minister to you personally)

God’s word will not provide excuses to stay in that place and in that moment, “But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high” (Psalm 3:3)

“We are made alive in Christ”  “As for you, your were dead in your transgressions and sins In which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air,  (example of jumping in the pit of despair)the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient All of us also lived among them at one time gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts” (Ephesians 2:1-3)

“Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called uncircumcised by those who call themselves the circumcision which is done in the body by human hands remember that at the time you were separate from Christ excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise without God in the world (God’s hand), But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations (his plan once we get out of the pit) His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two thus making peace an in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross by which he put death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near for through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit” (Ephesians 2:11-18)

“The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed He made know his ways to Moses his deeds to the people of Israel The Lord is compassionate and gracious slow to anger, abounding in love He will not always accuse nor will he harbor his anger forever he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities For as high as the heavens are above the earth so great is his love for those who fear him as far as the east is from the west so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:6-13)

That "IN THE MOMENT" Struggle
God wants you and I to see that even when we are “in the moment” of our struggle and dealing with our feelings HE will provide what we need to come out of the pit. All it takes is for us to reach up with our hand and see HIS hand waiting to reach back and give us the ability, opportunity and courage to start again. 
“For we are God’s handiwork created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph. 2:10)

Are you in the pit of despair today?

Spend some time reflecting on the scripture verses above and let your heart dwell on the words so beautifully expressed in the worship song, Amazing Grace.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see.
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved, how precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed.

My Chains are gone, I’ve been set free, my God, my Savior has ransomed me, and like a flood His mercy reins, unending love, Amazing Grace.
The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope secures,
He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, the sun forbear to shine, but God who called me here below.

Will be forever mine   Will be forever mine  You (GOD) are forever mine
Amazing Grace