Return unto Thy Rest

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Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.” Psalm 116:7-9

Careworn, and weary, oh, i cannot sleep;

I’m tossing, and turning; still counting those sheep.

Worried ’bout tomorrow, worried ’bout today,

Still worried ’bout some things that happened yesterday.

So many hurts and tensions; concerns and duties, too-

So much that is occurring, and I don’t know what to do.

I flip open my Bible (that will help me fall asleep!);

At first I read with casual eye, and then I start to weep.

“‘Return unto thy rest, my soul,return to thy sweet rest,

for the LORD’s so bountiful to thee;you are so very blessed!’

He’s kept my soul from dreaded death; my eyes from bitter tears.

He’s not allowed my feet to fall- I’ll serve Him all my years.”

Oh, how those words did touch my heart, my soul, my mind!

How fretful, worried, troubled, I’d forgotten God is kind.

In counting up my worries, my blessings I left out.

In counting up my problems, His provision I did doubt.

The Holy One Who saved me, can take my worries too.

The Loving One Who wipes my tears can make my heart anew.

The Blessed One Who guards my steps can catch me if I fall;

The Mighty One Who conquers foes can help me when I call.

I wipe my eyes, set Bible down, and breathe a silent sigh:

Return unto your rest, my soul; Your God is ever nigh.

 

 

 

 

 

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God’s Mercy to Us

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Mercy: that benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant.  It implies benevolence, tenderness, mildness, pity or compassion, and clemency, but exercised only towards offenders. Mercy is a distinguishing attribute of the Supreme Being.”

This definition of ‘mercy’ is found in Webster’s 1828 dictionary, and accurately describes the denotation and connotation of the word. The meaning of the word simply means to not make someone pay for something they deserve to pay for, but the emotions the word carries is far more than that. Mercy brings to mind love, compassion, pity and most frequently, God; for God is the epitome of mercy.

Who is God? Is He some unattainable Being that set the world into motion, then left us to our own devices? Is He cruel and uncaring, or does He really care about us?

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

If God thinks about us, don’t you think that He cares about us? Yet over and over, in the past and to this day, we continue to turn from Him, and even to criticize Him! The Israelites did this in Ezekiel’s day. They turned from the Lord’s law to go after other gods, and when He offered His full forgiveness, His mercy, they mocked it!

“…if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right…he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord GOD.

[but] a son that is a robber, a shedder of blood… that doeth not any of those duties, but… hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath spoiled by violence, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination… shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.

But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.”

“Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal.”

Right here, God promises His mercy to anyone that will truly repent; and Israel says it’s not enough. Israel’s problem was not that God wouldn’t take them back; it was that they didn’t want to go back. This is a problem today just as much as it was 3,000 years ago. God freely offers His mercy, but we are too proud to take it. ‘I’m ready to accept it’, you say, ‘but what do I need mercy for? I’m a pretty good person…’ There is one great big huge reason that you need mercy—you’ve sinned. There is not one person in the world that can say they’ve never done anything wrong, save Jesus Christ.

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one…”

When we sin, we wrong God, and He has instituted a payment for that wrong— death.

“For the wages of sin is death…”

“And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”

The only way that we can avoid that second death is to somehow become righteous.

“For I [Jesus] say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Yet Isaiah says that,

“…all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…”

Our righteousnesses are so little that they don’t even count as righteousness! How then can we be saved?!

“And he [Noah] believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness.”

“Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”

If we believe God, He will impute righteousness to us.

“…to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

Not because we deserve it, not because we’ve worked for it, but because He’s merciful.

For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.”

There are no requirements for His mercy. You don’t have to pay a lot of money, or live inside a cave, or do a lot of good deeds. God’s request is that we repent of our sins, and call upon Him in faith.

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Even after salvation, we still commit sins. This does not mean that we become “unsaved”. While sin will affect our relationship with God, it will not affect our salvation.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God…”

Salvation is not dependent upon us, it’s dependent upon God. Only His mercy can save us. Won’t you accept His offer in faith today?

Be Thankful

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Today’s the day that’s set aside

To thank the Lord with all our might.

We set a time to make a list

Of things, if gone, so quickly missed.

We’re grateful for His love so shown

When He sent down His only Son,

To die for sin’s so awful cost;

For saving us when we were lost;

For home, and friends, and family too;

For joy, for love, for lots of food;

For shelter, heat, and shoes to wear,

For stars above, for land so fair.

For books to learn what e’er we will,

The chance to at an alter kneel.

Sometimes we moan and cry because

We don’t have what another does:

But if we look at what we have,

Our lives, you’ll see, are not so bad.

What Is Your Purpose?

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Are you unhappy? Do you ever wonder why you were even put on this earth? Do you question why you can’t ever seem to find joy or contentment? Well, you’re not the only one. Every year, thousands of unhappy people try to bury their sorrows in alcohol, in illegal substances, or even in their work. Every year, thousands of those try to end their discontentment by committing suicide; causing the suicide rate to drastically increase throughout the world. Why are so many people unhappy and depressed? The answer is this: they can’t find their purpose. It seems like everyone is trying to ‘find themselves’. The truth of the matter is that they know where they are, they just don’t know what to do with themselves! So what is the answer to this oh-so-important topic? God’s Word. The Bible not only teaches us right from wrong, but it shows us how to lead our lives…with purpose.

1. Why should I even try?

Am I any different than the animals? Does God care about me any more than He does about my pets?  The Bible is very clear about these matters. The Bible itself is proof that people are different from animals. The fact that all the stories in the Bible are about people (not animals) should be enough to convince anyone. We are also more important than any animal. “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matt. 10:29-31) Does God care about the animals? Yes! He knows when each one dies. But not once does the Bible say that God counts the hairs of an animal. Not once!  God the Father cares about us so much that He numbers the hairs of each and every human being! That is some intense love right there. So, yes, we are different from animals, and thus more important to God. Consequentially, if we are different from animals, then we must have a different purpose. Humans are not designed to simply eat and sleep. We have in us the potential and the desire to build, to design, to learn, to be different. It’s ingrained in us! God, Who designed us, knows this and gives us specific tasks to fulfill our needs.  If we don’t fulfill these tasks, we can not and will not be happy. It’s impossible!

2.What should I be doing?

A. Our primary task is to serve God. Most people are unhappy because they aren’t fulfilling this most important desire. Man may try to replace God with paganism, cults, humanism, or atheism; but it won’t work. Deep in the heart of every man is the desire to be accepted by the one true God. While this need can be temporarily pacified by worshiping the devil, the devil can’t fulfill our desires.  “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.“(Matt. 6:24) If we wish to be happy, we have to worship God. There is no substitute.

B. Our secondary task is to serve others. If you are a selfish, uncaring person, you won’t be happy. Part of the reason for the unhappiness of our generation is the “take care of #1′ mentality. While this selfish way of life may sound good in theory, in reality it makes people miserable. We like to be liked, and the only way to be liked is to be a giving, caring person. Someone once said,”An unhappy,selfish person thinks the world revolves around him, while a happy, giving person chooses to make the world revolve around others.” The Bible teaches that a man who isn’t friendly will bear the fruits of it in his spirit. “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?… A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly…“(Prov. 18:14,24a) We need friends: if we don’t have friends, our spirit (heart) will become wounded and depressed. If we want to be happy, we must not be self-centered.

3. How can I change?

If you have decided that you are tired of being unhappy, and want to fulfill your purpose in life: Congratulations! The very act of deciding to change is a big step in the right direction, because you can’t fix a problem until you acknowledge it’s there. Here is a simple list of ideas to get you started. This list is by no means exhaustive, and doesn’t claim to be. However, doing these things will help you get back on the right track. Here we go!

A. Accept Jesus as your Savior. Before you can have happiness or peace, you must settle the question of your eternal destination. The first thing you must do is accept the fact that you’re a sinner. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…” (Rom. 3:23)  You must also believe that there is a penalty for sin, and Jesus has paid that penalty. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23)  You must next accept that Jesus is the only way to Heaven. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) Lastly, call upon the Lord to save you from your sins. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.(Rom. 10:13) Only those who have trusted in Him can be truly happy.

B. Begin to serve God. As stated earlier, you can’t be happy without God in your life. You can serve God by going to church, being baptized, reading your Bible and praying daily, obeying His commandments, and teaching others what you have learned. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”(Matt. 28:19-20) If you ask me, nothing could possibly make you happier than Christ being with you forever. If you desire to have God’s hand on your life, then follow His instructions.

C. Care about others. Plain and simple, helping people makes us happy. Even if it didn’t, the Bible commands us to treat others as we would like to be treated. “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matt. 7:12) And again, “…Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself…” (Mark 12:31b) If you would apply yourself to being loving and kind, you would be amazed by the results. Smile at people! Decide to do an act of kindness every day! Think before you speak! Write thank-you notes! Call on birthdays and anniversaries! These seemingly little things will revolutionize the way you look at life. Suddenly, a whole new world will open up- a world of joy. It doesn’t take much… just a little of your love. Believe me, you’ve got plenty of that to spare !

D. Don’t quit. It won’t be easy at first. These things don’t come naturally- you have to keep at it. People might look at you funny, and maybe even think you’re trying to butter them up; don’t let them discourage you! The peace of mind you will get from doing kind things is well worth any sideways looks you might recieve. And if you keep at it, people will accept the ‘new you’, and maybe even be convicted to change themselves! The greatest joy you can ever have is watching someone else change for the better because of your influence. Don’t give up-it will be worth it in the long run.

When I Heard…

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When I heard God loved me

Before I loved Him,

So much that He gave

His own Son for my sin-

When I heard that His suffering

Was not a mistake,

But that He had given

Himself for my sake;

When I heard that His promise

Was eternal life,

Away up in Heaven-

Forever with Christ!-

I called upon Jesus,

And He took my call-

And I’ve never regretted it,

No, not at all.

Away Back When

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Away back when-
Before my time-
The Lord stepped out
And watched mankind.

Then, finding they
Were wicked so,
Sent down a flood:
Earth covered whole.

For forty days
And forty nights,
It rained so hard
The sun took fright.

Then, finally, God’s
Just wrath was spent.
He stopped the rain,
A wind He sent.

The earth did dry,

The ark did land.

All were saved

Who’d done God’s plan.

Then God did send

A mighty sign;

A glorious rainbow

In the sky!

Through it the people

Understood,

That God forgives,

And God is good.