But The Lord

 

Man Sitting On Bench During A Beautiful SunsetI realize that this title is not really a “stand-alone” title. These three words jumped off the page of scripture as I ready this morning. I was tracking along with some of my favorite passages that Paul had written to Timothy, the young pastor. For example…

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. (2 Timothy 4:2 CSB)

 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. There is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8 CSB)

I love how Paul is finishing strong. He is encouraging this young pastor to keep the faith no matter what comes his way. He is writing this from prison as Paul has a deep heart for the churches that he’s been part of planting. He’s making the “hand-off” to others as his time on earth ends.

He gives some final “house-keeping” info to Timothy and it was here that the three words stopped me in my tracks. Paul is describing a court hearing in Rome, I believe and he had no one present to stand with him or speak on his behalf. Check this out…

16 At my first defense, no one stood by me, but everyone deserted me. May it not be counted against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that I might fully preach the word and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil work and will bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever! Amen. (2 Timothy 4:16-18 CSB)

But the Lord – those three words changed the scene entirely. I can be at the end of my rope and the Lord’s Presence is near. He doesn’t leave me at the crucial time. He doesn’t forget me. I would suggest that even if everyone else leaves, He won’t. He is faithful and true. He is patient beyond description. His Presence changes the ambiance of the room. His Presence ushers in hope with a profound entrance. His Presence calms my soul and directs my thoughts and actions. His Presence drowns out the noise of fear and chaos. But the Lord…. This is going from worst to first. But the Lord is Powerful and Present. But the Lord is all knowing. I would rather being in the scariest places with the Presence of the Lord in me, then to be on the beach or relaxing anywhere without Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Maturity

happy and motivated old people 3dOne of these days I feel like I will grow up. I have officially been placed on the AARP mailing list and that makes me feel old. There are some days when I feel old, yet I’m a good 20 years younger than others who consider themselves old. Being old and mature is somewhat a state of mind. It is interesting to see how some people age more quickly than others. I used to subscribe to the theory of a friend of mine that says, “since I’m a bit overweight, my skin is stretched out and I look younger than I am”. I watched a television documentary on ESPN about the rivalry between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers and the players on those teams were 30 years older and some looked quite different. I realize that as I enter the AARP stage of life that I will look “mature” even if I’m not.

Paul gives some final words of encouragement to the church at Corinth in his last letter to them. Check this out…

11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice. Become mature, be encouraged, be of the same mind, be at peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11 CSB)

I’ve certainly met people who are older, but are not mature. They are whiny and self-centered to the point that I don’t enjoy being around them. I’ve also met other older people who are kind and gracious, realizing that life doesn’t revolve around them. They have learned to love deeply and help others along the way.

Here are a few other characteristics of mature people:

Control their tongue

Show patience with others

Encourage others, especially younger people

Accepting their role in the lives of others

Self-less love

Peace makers

Trusted confidant

Consistently kind

Faithful

Honest

I could make a long list, but I’ll stop there. I want to grow old with grace and truth at the top of mind. I want to be an “old person” that younger people will enjoy being around. I won’t take myself so seriously. I want to finish this life strong with my walk with the Lord obvious to those who live, work and fellowship with me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Holy Spirit Presence

 

PresenceI used to freak out when I was a kid hearing the adults in church speak about the Holy Ghost. I knew the definition of a ghost and I really wasn’t interested. When I grew older and was introduced to the Holy Spirit, I realized that this was a lot different than “Ghostbusters” or weird little translucent being.

The Holy Spirit is the very Presence of God. It’s hard to explain if we don’t embrace the fact that there is a spiritual realm. A realm beyond our ability to see or hear. I like to think of it like radio waves or cell phone waves. What if I could see all the radio waves traveling invisibly through the air? My mind would be blown. They are there even though I can’t see them. I believe that the Holy Spirit of God dwells in the spirit realm and He is close by to those who have make Jesus Lord of their lives. Check this out…

13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 NIV)

The Holy Spirit is a game changer when I’m unsure or afraid. He is with me so I feel safe and confident that I can act on His behalf. He is the very essence and presence of Creator God but He dwells with me. Jesus said that He would leave the Comforter when He ascended to the Father.

The Holy Spirit reminds me of Grace.

The Holy Spirit pours out hope generously.

The Holy Spirit prompts me to give.

The Holy Spirit convicts me of sin.

The Holy Spirit empowers me with love.

The Holy Spirit breathes peace into my soul in times of trouble or struggle.

The Holy Spirit reveals deep facets of God to me as I walk with Him.

I can’t imagine walking with God without the Presence of the Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit You Are Welcome Here (Kim Walker Smith from Bethel)

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Hope Is Here

 

Hope word with shadow, backgroundI’ve been in plenty of situations where there seemed like only one way out and it felt quite hopeless. I know the struggle of a sleepless night. I know the paralysis that worry delivers. I also know that when the Lord enters the room of my life, HOPE flows from Him. He gives me strength and wisdom to navigate any and every situation I’m faced with. Paul speaks very clearly about the hope we have no matter the situation. Check this out….

Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:1-5 CSB)

This passage has much depth to it. This is a snapshot of life:

  • Faith
  • Peace
  • Access
  • Grace
  • Rejoice
  • Afflictions
  • Endurance
  • Proven Character
  • Hope
  • Love

I’m trying to wrap my mind around these 10 profound pieces of the journey with God.  It starts with Faith and ends up in Love. The journey with the Lord always goes through the tunnel of affliction and suffering. It’s during those dark nights of the soul that the light of hope in Him is real. The Lord never wastes a dark night to show off His Heart for me. He brings such hope and clarity to most confusing circumstances. He builds my character from the inside out and not from the outside in. My salvation journey begins with faith in Him.

When He enters the room of my heart, there is NOTHING else like it! He brings HOPE and it is a Powerful Presence. #thankful

All My Hope

By Crowder

I’ve been held by the Savior
I’ve felt fire from above
I’ve been down to the river
I ain’t the same, a prodigal returned

(C)All my hope is in Jesus
Thank God that yesterday’s gone
All my sins are forgiven
I’ve been washed by the blood

I’m no stranger to prison
I’ve worn shackles and chains
But I’ve been freed and forgiven
And I’m not going back, I’ll never be the same (C)

There’s a kind of thing that just breaks a man
Break him down to his knees
God, I’ve been broken more than a time or two
Yes, Lord then He picked me up and showed me
What it means to be a man come on and sing (C)

_____________________________________

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Grief & Sadness

Beauty girl cryThis is a word that covers many areas of my life. I have felt grief over the loss of a loved one. I’ve felt grief over the loss of a job. I’ve felt grief over the loss of a friend. I think grief touches everyone in some form or another. There are some losses that are less devastating and less permanent. If I lose a job, I can get another one. If I lose a friend I can be a friend to another and soon move forward. I’m not quite sure how you grieve the loss of a country. In Psalm 137, the writer is grieving the loss of their country being captured and their lives are forever different. Check this out…

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
    when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars
    we hung our harps,
for there our captors asked us for songs,
    our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
    they said, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’

How can we sing the songs of the Lord
    while in a foreign land? (Psalm 137:1-4 NIV)

It really is hard to think about songs of joy during pain. There are times that I can’t think because the grief hurts so deeply. I remember times when I cried until it felt like there were no more tears. I have made some decisions during times of grief that were not smart. A few years ago, after coming through a really hard time where grief was pushing on me hard, I determined that I would never go through grief alone – the Lord would always be there. I decided to claim His promises and lean into Him. His Presence did not disappoint. He gave great comfort but even greater clarity. I can sing songs of joy I the midst of great pain if His Presence is in me. He comforts me deeply and profoundly. He turns my sadness into singing. He turns my grief into joy. I can’t fully explain this to someone who amid struggle, but after the dust clears, this trust in the Lord is something to consider.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Home In My Heart

 

Young man suffering pain on his chest, isolated on whiteI’ve heard it said that “home is where the heart is”. This speaks to where I live. Wherever my family and I live is now home. I grew up calling Kentucky home as that is where I lived nearly 18 years of my early life. I’ve since lived in Tennessee and Georgia. In fact, I’ve lived in Georgia over 30 years of my life. I still call Kentucky home when I’m asking about family “back home”. Georgia is now my home and has been for a long time.

As I read in Psalm this morning about God making His home in Zion, I was reminded that He now makes my heart and the hearts of His people His home. Check this out…

13 For the Lord has chosen Zion,
    he has desired it for his dwelling, saying,
14 ‘This is my resting place for ever and ever;
    here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it.
15 I will bless her with abundant provisions;
    her poor I will satisfy with food.
16 I will clothe her priests with salvation,
    and her faithful people shall ever sing for joy.

17 ‘Here I will make a horn grow for David
    and set up a lamp for my anointed one.
18 I will clothe his enemies with shame,
    but his head shall be adorned with a radiant crown.’ (Psalm 132:13-18 NIV)

When Jesus came and conquered sin and death, He left us with the very Spirit of God to dwell in our hearts. There are churches being built where people gather to worship, but the Lord no longer dwells in temples made with hands, He dwells in our heart. I like how Paul describes it. Check this out…

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22 NIV)

I can live out my life in confidence that the Lord has made His home inside my heart. He directs me. He leads me. He settles my heart. His Presence in me gives me Power to combat temptation and sin that creeps in. He gives me strength that seems impossible and peace that is hard for others to understand. My heart is not His home – His dwelling place.

Pressing On!

Dwayne