Monday, 9 March 2015

How to have a cheerful week {believe God's promises}

My daily readings brought me to the end of Acts, today. I must confess, I can't read chapter 27 without having flashbacks to my hubby's days in Bible College.  As they had such a busy schedule, with classes and work (as in, work to earn money!), sermons were often preached more than once.  Needless to say, the fellow college students, and any wives accompanying them on deputation meetings, got to the stage where THEY could have preached the sermons themselves! On the whole, it was a good thing - especially when it was a particularly noteworthy sermon.

The verse that struck me today was one that was the basis for such a sermon.

It's a verse of encouragement - of hope - of courage - of CHEER!

"be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me."
Acts 27:25

This narrative in scripture is one of the most detailed there is, regarding a journey.  We have a blow by blow account (no pun intended....) of the stormy journey that Paul undertook, to get to Rome.  He was on his way to speak to Caesar, which was his right as a Roman citizen, after being arrested in Jerusalem.  The journey didn't go quite how the crew expected.  They tried to judge the best time to sail on their journey, and Paul even gave them warning about setting sail.  However, sail they did, and shipwreck ensued.  

Before they got to the point of shipwreck, we read the verse I have shared.  It follows a message from Paul, speaking of an angel of God who had come to Paul, telling him that he WOULD go to Rome, and the entire populous of the ship would be saved, alive.  

The ship was literally being torn apart, and they were chucking things over the side as fast as they possibly could, in attempts to save the ship from going down. A storm so bad, that the experienced crew had given up all hope that they would be saved.

But God, Himself came to Paul. Paul, when retelling the visit, says "Whose I am, and whom I serve" That is GOD.  No other! In the midst of the storm, He gave Him a promise.  They would be saved.

He had been given a promise.

He believed the promise.

He claimed the promise as his own.

He knew it was true.  It gave him peace, confidence, and CHEER, in the midst of a STORM!

Now, do you see?... God didn't say "I am going to the the storm away".

No.  That was not the promise.

The promise was that he would get THROUGH the storm.

In fact, the storm gathered momentum, and continued for days more, with more drama and attempts to lighten the ship. The sailors had got to the point of fasting, and Paul urged them to eat, assuring them they WOULD be saved! Not only that, but he continues to keep his eyes firmly upon honouring God, and being a faithful witness, by breaking bread with them, and giving thanks to God for the food, before them all. The next day, they find a creek to ground their ship in, and they all jump ship -   and, as God promised Paul, they all survived the ordeal!

As you head into a new week, there may be storms in your life.  There may be struggles and difficulties, that make you feel surrounded by darkness, like Paul had been in (Acts 27:20). Dark, hard days, can make us feel overwhelmed and weak.  But, you, too can have cheer.

We have the SAME God that Paul loved and served, as our Saviour.  He has given us many precious promises in His Word, and we need only to meet with Him to receive fresh joy, hope and cheer.

It may be a verses simply recalled from memory, in a time of need.  THAT is God giving you cheer.

It may be a verse you see on a wall, in a book, or on the Internet.  Perfect timing, and cheer in the storm.

The best source, of course, is the regular reading of His precious Word - His balm to our soul, His comfort to our heart, and His courage in our trials.  His voice - His Word - His promises - all ready to bring us cheer.

Some of my favourites are the "fear not" verses. These verses whisper "Peace, be still" to my soul.  They don't always cause the storm to cease, and like Paul, they may just need to be ridden out.  But peace in the heart brings calm to the situation.  Knowing that I don't have to fear the storm, brings great cheer.

"So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me."
Hebrews 13:6 

You see that?  We can even be BOLD in our trials. Not just get through them, but being BOLD! WOW!   Knowing that God is our helper takes away any fear  - especially the fear that can come because of other people, and the way they treat us.  

 "For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee."
Isaiah 41:13 

Such a precious verse.  Just as we mothers will hold our child's hand, to give them a sense of safety and security, so God "holds our hand", and takes our fear away.  WE can have cheer, because God is holding our hand, through the trials.

"But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. 
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. 
Fear not: for I am with thee:"
Isaiah 43:1-2, 5

Precious, precious thought.

God.  The one who created us, and formed us in our mother's womb.  God, who has redeemed us from sin, and the punishment of death.  The one who has called us by name.  The one who OWNS us - who we belong to.

We, who are HIS.

We don't need to fear when we pass through waters.  He will be with us.

We don't need to fear, because He is with us through the deep rivers.  They won't overflow us.

We don't need to fear, because He is with us when we walk through the fire.  It won't burn us.

"Don't be afraid - I am with you"

My sweet friends, you can have cheer today! God has promised us SO much, in His Word.  His promises are faithful and true.  They are dependable.  We can place our hope and trust in God.  He WILL fulfil His promises.

 It doesn't matter what storms you are going through -  be of good cheer - God keeps His promises.

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