Southside's Blog

Southside is a loving, vigorous, and growing congregation in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Our vision is toward the future: Our Children, Our Ministry, and Our Outreach. Our goal is to embrace all people in our hearts and fellowship as we strive together to support Christ’s mission on earth.

PRAYERS NOT YET ANSWERED

The context of Max's devotion today hits us all. We are either in a situation or know someone that is currently struggling. As I've grown older, Hebrews 13:5 takes a special place in my heart. Take it to your heart as well!

Thinking about heaven and what it will be like also is more prevalent. It just has be so much better than this life!

Mike 

 from Max Lucado:

The gospel of John tells the story of a man from Capernaum who approached Jesus in Cana. “Come heal my son,” the man asked. And Jesus said the boy would be healed, and the man set out for Capernaum.

Do you find yourself somewhere between Cana and Capernaum? Like the official, you begged Jesus for help. And, like the official, you didn’t receive the answer in the way you wanted. This is the issue of not-yet-answered prayer. Or not-answered-in-the-way-I-asked prayer. How should we react? I’m sorry the job did not materialize or the cancer chose to metastasize. Life has its share of dark, dank moments.

Read the Bible from the table of contents in the front to the maps in the back, and you will not find any promise of a pain-free life on this side of heaven. But you will find this assurance: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV). You are never alone.  

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WHY?

How many times did or do your children say Why? For us it seemed like that word came out of their mouths a thousand times each day. Sometimes it got to be too much and I would say, “Because” or “Don’t ask me why again!”

Do you ever ask God why? That four-year-old girl from the Shelbyville area was killed by a careless driver in Florida recently. Your loved one has been struggling with an illness for years now and constant prayers have not healed them. The prayers for God’s help with your marriage seem to be meaningless. Your spouse has had so many jobs over the years, you can’t keep count. The struggles with your children don’t bring about change in your relationship. A number of parents continue to be involved in drugs and are in and out of jail. There are any number of issues in our lives that can make us say, “WHY GOD?”

I’ve been struggling to produce an article with the title: IS IT OK TO PRAY FOR GOD TO CHANGE HIS WILL? for quite a while now. Even after editing it what seems like it hundreds of times, it’s still not ready in my mind. The following paragraph from that article has stuck in my mind:

“I’m not sure it’s meant for us to completely understand God’s will. Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Romans 11:34 - “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” It’s more the need of man to understand God’s will in whole than His need for us to understand everything. This is where faith comes into our life.”

My daily prayers include a number of the circumstances from above, but no change seems to come in many of them. I even think about eliminating some of these situations from my prayer. I want to say, “Why God?”, my pleas are for the good of these people and for the right reason. So, why?

Does God ever want to say to us “Because” or “Don’t ask why again”. I don’t think so. He’s more patient and understanding than I am. Remember Isaiah and Romans, have complete trust and faith and continue to pray! He does love us especially when we don’t understand!

Thanks

Mike  - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Control of Our Lives

My prayer is that Southsides' Blog provide encouragement in everyone's life for their relationship with God! As we live our lives many of us want to control it completely. We would be so much better off if we let God have control. We will still have problems and disappointments but God's grace and love will help us through them. Hopefully, you'll take encouragement from what Max writes:

 

 

PROVISION OF GRACE - Max Lucado

“’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” When John Newton penned this promise, he did so out of personal experience. His greatest test came the day he buried his wife, Mary. He’d loved her and prayed his death would precede hers. But his prayer was not answered.

"Yet, on the day Mary Newton died, John Newton found strength to preach a Sunday sermon. The next day he visited church members. Later he officiated at his wife’s funeral. He grieved, but in his grief he found God’s provision. He later wrote, “The Bank of England is too poor to compensate for such a loss as mine. But the Lord, the all-sufficient God speaks, and it is done. Let those who know Him, and trust Him, be of good courage.”

"My friend, disease, calamity, and trouble populate your world. But they do not control it. Grace does."

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Sometimes I Just Don't Understand

 
I've read and discussed II Corinthians 12:7-9 many times but confess that at times I just don't understand "WHY". Recently, one of my former CASA boys lost his mother. This young man was already angry with God because about two years ago "God let my grandmother die". He lived with her and loved her deeply. He would not allow me to have a prayer with him. His foster grandfather says his mother's death has driven him further away from God.
 
We all have been through the experiences Max describes in the second paragraph. These are not the times to abandon God but a time to hold on tightly to His grace even if you are like me and sometimes just don't understand.

 
MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT -  Max Lucado's Daily Devotion

Paul wrote, “There was given me a thorn in my flesh, from Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness'” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).

The cancer in the body. The sorrow in the heart. The child in the rehab center. The craving for whiskey in the middle of the day. The tears in the middle of the night. The thorn in the flesh. “Take it away!” you’ve pleaded. Not once, twice, or even three times. You’ve out-prayed the apostle Paul, and you’re about to hit the wall. But what you hear Jesus say is this: “My grace is sufficient for you.”

Sustaining grace. Grace that meets us at our point of need and equips us with courage and wisdom and strength. Sustaining grace. It doesn’t promise the absence of struggle, but it does promise the presence of God.

 

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A Tender Heart

Max's devotion today takes a heart that is tender to God. If you pray grudgingly don't bother. God wants our prayers with a heart that is so tender that we willingly are open to Him for complete confession with humbleness.

 

SEARCH YOUR HEART -  by Max Lucado

What would an X-ray—an MRI—of your soul reveal? Regrets over teenage relationships? Remorse over a poor choice? Interested in an extraction? Confess. Request a spiritual MRI. “Search me, O God and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).

Many voices urge you to look deep within and find an invisible strength or hidden power, but that’s a dangerous exercise. Self-assessment without God’s guidance just leads to denial or shame, justification or humiliation. We need neither. We need a prayer of grace-based confession: God, I’ve done what you say is wrong. Would you wash away my guilt and make me clean again? No chant, no candle needed. Just a prayer of confession – try it.

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Each Day

Four soldiers. One criminal. One cross. Simon, a farmer, stands among the crowd and can’t see the man’s face, only a head wreathed with thorny branches. Jesus stops in front of Simon and heaves for air. The beam rubbing against an already raw back.

“His name is Jesus,” someone speaks. “Move on!” commands the executioner. But Jesus can’t, and the beam begins to sway. Simon instinctively extends his strong hands and catches the cross. “You! Take the cross.” Simon dares to object. “I don’t care,” the soldier says, “take up the cross!”

Simon did literally what God calls us to do figuratively—take up the cross and follow Jesus. Luke 9:23 says, “If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget yourself. You must take up your cross each day and follow me.”

From Mike:  The meaning of "take up your cross" is interpreted in different ways. Some say Jesus’ point is that we must be so committed to denying yourself that you are willing to die for Christ. Others believe it implies that whatever difficulties we may be experiencing that we must follow Jesus. Whatever you may believe the interpretation is the key point is each day we must follow Christ!

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Search Your Soul

After reading Max'x devotion, I searched my soul and found myself lacking. We have missionaries we pay, although not enouh, to tell the story of Jesus but what can I do. Pray!

 

JESUS IN YOUR UPPER ROOM - April 11, 2022

When the Roman soldiers took Jesus out of the Garden of Gethsamane, Jesus’ followers took off. We don’t know where they went but we do know they couldn’t get him out of their minds. They came back and the church of our Lord began with a group of frightened men in an upper room.

Sound familiar?  How many churches have just enough religion to come together, but not enough passion to go out? Good people. Good intentions. Words. Promises. But while all this is going on, the door remains locked and the story stays a secret.

What will it take to unlock it? Allow Jesus to come into your upper room and stand before you. Place your hand in the pierced side. Look into those eyes that melted the gates of hell and sent Satan running. Look at them as they look at you. You’ll never be the same.

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JESUS’ VICTORY CRY - Max Lucado

It is finished!” Jesus cried. Stop and listen. Can you imagine the cry from the cross? What was finished? The history-long plan of redeeming man. The message of God to man. The works done by Jesus as a man on earth were finished.

A cry of defeat? Hardly. Had Jesus’ hands not been fastened down, I dare say that a triumphant fist would have punched the dark sky. This is no cry of despair. It is a cry of completion. A cry of victory. A cry of fulfillment. Yes, even a cry of relief: “Take me home.” Come, ten thousand angels! Come and take this wounded one to the cradle of his Father’s arms. Farewell, manger’s infant. Take this Son to his Father. He deserves a rest. Bless you, holy ambassador. Go home, rest well. The battle is over! It is finished.

 

Thank you, Father!

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WHAT JESUS FELT - Max Lucado

 

 

On Calvary’s Hill, Christ lifts his heavy head toward the heavens crying out, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani”—that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

We would ask the same. Why him? Why forsake your son?  Forsake the murderers.  Desert the evildoers.  Abandon them, not him.

What did Jesus feel on the cross?  The icy displeasure of a sin-hating God. Why? Because Jesus carried our sins in His body. With hands nailed open, he invited God, Treat me as you would treat them.  And God did.  In an act that broke the heart of the Father, yet honored the holiness of heaven, sin-purging judgment flowed over the sinless Son of the ages.

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Why did God scream those words? So you’ll never have to!

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GO TO JESUS - Max Lucado

Christ lived the life we could not live, and took the punishment we could not take, to offer the hope we cannot resist. Why?

Jesus was angry enough to purge the temple, distraught enough to weep in public, winsome enough to attract kids, poor enough to sleep on dirt, responsible enough to care for his mother, tempted enough to know the smell of Satan. Why?

Why would heaven’s finest son endure earth’s toughest pain? So you would know that he is able. . .to run to the cry of. . .those who are being tempted and tested and tried. Whatever you’re facing, he knows how you feel. When you turn to him for help, he runs to you to help. Why?

He’s been there. He’s not ashamed of you. Your actions don’t bewilder him. Your tilted halo doesn’t trouble him. So go to him!

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SING AGAIN - Max Lucado

What do we say about someone who claims to be a Christian, yet behaves like anything but? Well, God places a song in the hearts of his saved children. Some sing this song loud and long every single day of their lives. In other cases, the song falls silent. Long seasons pass in which God’s song is not sung.

Truth is, we don’t always know if someone has trusted God’s grace. A person may have feigned belief but not meant it. Whether or not someone’s faith is real isn’t ours to know. But we know this: where there is genuine conversion, there is eternal salvation. Our task is to trust God’s ability to call his children home. We join God as he walks among his wayward and wounded children, singing. Eventually his own will hear his voice, and something within them will awaken. And when it does, they will begin to sing again.

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A CRAFTED NARRATIVE - Max Lucado

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

You are in the hands of a living, loving God. Random collection of disconnected stories? Far from it. Your life is a crafted narrative written by a good God, working toward your supreme good. God isn’t making up a plan as he goes along, nor did he wind up the clock and walk away.

Daniel 5:21 says, “The Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will.” In Jeremiah 30:24 says “The LORD will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intentions of his mind.” These texts confirm the heavenly blueprints and plans. Those plans include you!

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TRUST GOD’S PROMISes - Max Lucado

John 3:16. Millions quote it, only a handful trust it. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Wary of a catch perhaps? Cautioned by guarded friends? Desperation heightens our interest. When he asks for a divorce or she says, “It’s over.” When the coroner calls, the kids rebel, or the finances collapse. When desperation typhoons into your world, God’s offer of a free flight home demands a second look. John 3:16 morphs from a nice verse to a life vest.

Some of you are wearing it. For you, the passage comforts like your favorite blanket. Don’t walk away from it. Give God your answer. Ephesians 3:17 (MSG) promises, “Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in.”

From Mike: I've been retired almost twelve years but I still remember Mondays. They were not fun days. I regret not wearing John 3:16 every day. Hold on to John 3:16, cherish it and live it for yourself and others. Our focus and trust needs to be on it!

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My God, My God Why, Have You Forsaken Me? - Matthew 27:46

When God inspired the writers of the Scriptures, He didn’t waste words on meaningless  thoughts. He didn’t chase rabbits. Every word in the Bible is meant for a purpose. There is a message for us in all scriptures. Matthew 27:46 is no exception.

Christ was executed. The manner was by crucifixion which is considered one of the worst forms of death. Adjectives used to describe crucifixion are cruel, brutal, harshness, horribly violet, gruesome, and others. We are very aware of the beatings; Isaiah writes about His face being disfigured after the beating. His face was most likely a bloody pulp. The whips with bone/stones tied in the tips. The whipping left His back looking like raw meat after lashes from those whips. He struggled with dragging the cross while people all around Him mocked and ridiculed Him. The nails pounded in His hands and feet.  The struggle to catch a breath while hanging on the cross. We tend to focus on the physical pain Jesus suffered which is appropriate because it was severe.

A number of commentators write that Matthew 27:46 signifies that Christ was separated from God when he took on our sins. This thought makes sense. Others write that it demonstrated the human and emotional side of Christ as well.

We should think about the emotional aspect of Christ’s suffering as well as the physical. When Christ came into the garden His emotions were already on edge. He told His disciples that His “soul was over whelmed with sorrow” before He prayed. He fell to His knees then to His face and begin to cry pleading that God deliver Him from the execution. He faced false charges, was cursed and ridiculed. Peter, one of the twelve He took into the inner garden denied Him three times. He heard the Jews cry out for His crucifixion. The Jews despised Him so that they asked that Barabbas, a murderer on death row, be released as opposed to releasing Christ. They spit in His face which is a great show of disrespect. Mocked Him with a staff, a purple robe and crown as the king of the Jews.  Christ was thirsty, He was taunted when they gave Him the bitter drink. These actions served to tear Him down emotionally adding to the brutal physical pain He was suffering.

Peter tells us that Christ did not verbally retaliate against those crucifying Him which took great restraint. 1 Peter 2:23, NIV: “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” The emotional and physical cruelty finally came out when Christ cried out in a loud voice to God asking why He had forsaken Him. I believe Christ expressed His emotions at this point.

If you read the obituaries, many say the deceased was surrounded by loving family. At Christ death, He did not feel surround by loving family even though his mother and brothers were there. He did not feel that His God was with Him.

From the internet: “Emotional and psychological abuse may not leave physical marks, but they can be just as destructive as physical abuse, leading to anxiety, depression, and addiction. Like physical abuse, they are primarily a means of control and a way for the abuser to feel superior.”

Matthew and Mark record Jesus asking God why He had forsaken Him.  Mark also records that “with a loud cry, Jesus breathed His last”. Luke records Jesus’ last words from the cross were: “Father into your hands I commit my spirit.” John records that Jesus said : “It is finished”.

The next time you think about Christ’s death focus on both the physical and emotional punishment of what He suffered! After all He did it for YOU!

Thanks!

Mike   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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YOUR ROLE IS TO TRUST - Max Lucado

Some of us have written our own Bible verse from Popular Opinion, chapter one, verse one: “God helps those who help themselves.” We’ll fix ourselves, thank you. We’ll make up for our mistakes with contributions, our guilt with busyness. We’ll overcome our failures with hard work. We’ll find salvation the old-fashioned way: we’ll earn it!

Christ, in contrast, says to us, “Your role is to trust. Trust me to do what you can’t.”

By the way, you take similar steps of trust daily. You believe the chair will support you, so you set your weight on it. You trust the work of the light switch, so you flip it. You daily trust power you cannot see to do a work you cannot accomplish. Jesus invites you to do the same with him. But just him. Not another leader, not even yourself. Just Christ. Look to Jesus and believe.

From Mike: We've all probably known people who declare that "God helps those who help themselves" is definitely in the Bible but just can't remember the book, chapter and verse but it's in the New Testament somewhere. It does make sense in one respect; we are to work to earn a living so God does help us with our work efforts. However, there are so many things we cannot solve without the help of Christ. The number one item is our salvation. My parents were very strong Christians but had the same thoughts many do; "I must be good enough for God to save me!" It's the old argument about faith verses works.

 God knew we would fail Him time after time so earning our salvation would be impossible. That's why He sacrificed His Son. Accept that fact, trust it and be grateful.

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THE ONLY ONE AND ONLY - Max Lucado

Jesus invites, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest…let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28).

Do yourself a favor. Underscore, underline, and accept this invitation. Jesus says let me teach you how to handle long Mondays and cranky in-laws. Let me teach you why people fight and death comes and forgiveness counts. We need answers. Jesus offers them.

But can we trust him? Only one way to know. Seek him out. Lift up your eyes, set your sights on Jesus. No passing glances or occasional glimpses. Search the crowded streets and shadow-casting roofs until you spot his face, then set your sights on him. You’ll find the only One and Only!

From Mike: We see people wondering all the time "what do I do?" Tell them about Matthew 11:28. You will not solve their problem but Jesus will!

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AN UNEARTHLY LOVE - Max Lucado

I have a feeling most people who defy and deny God do so more out of fear than conviction. For all our chest pumping and braggadocio, we’re anxious folk. We can’t see a step into the future, can’t hear the one who owns us. No wonder we try to bite the hand that feeds us.

But God reaches and touches. If he’s touching you, let him. Mark it down: God loves you with an unearthly love. You can’t win it by being winsome. You can’t lose it by being a loser. But you can be blind enough to resist it. Don’t. For heaven’s sake, don’t! For your sake, don’t. Others demote you. God claims you. Let the definitive voice of the universe say, “You are part of my plan!”

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DON’T LIVE WITH A HARD HEART - Max Lucado

Short memories harden the heart, so make careful note of God’s blessings. Declare with David: “[I will] daily add praise to praise.  I’ll write the book on your righteousness, talk up your salvation the livelong day, never run out of good things to write or say” (Psalm 71:14-15 MSG).

Catalog God’s goodnesses. Meditate on them. He has led you and earned your trust. Remember what he’s done for you. And acknowledge what you’ve done against God. The scripture says, “If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts” (1 John 1:10 NLT). Sin-hoarding stiffens us. Confession softens us.

Is your heart hard? Take it to the Father. You’re only a prayer away from tenderness. You live in a hard world, but you don’t have to live with a hard heart.

From Mike: Max is correct! We live in both a hard and harsh world. People write terrible messages to one another on social media. Comments written about news stories on the internet are full of hatred. Russia has invaded the Ukraine. Cost of gas is through the roof. More severe weather is ocurring. Hearts are hard! What are we doing? Are we praying or allowing the world to turn our heats hard? I urge all of us to pray without ceasing!

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BECAUSE GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD - Max Lucado

Life, at times, appears to fall to pieces. It seems irreparable. But it’s going to be okay. How can you know? Because, as John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world.”

Those are God’s arms you feel. Trust him. Believe him. Allow the only decision maker in the universe to comfort you. Since he has no needs, you cannot tire him. Since he is without age, you cannot lose him. Since he has no sin, you cannot corrupt him.

Paul said in Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can be against us.” If God can make a billion galaxies, can’t he make good out of our bad and sense out of our faltering lives? Of course he can! He is not just alive, but he is life himself. John 5:26 confirms for us: “The Father has life in himself.” He is God! And God loves you.

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Overwhelmed by John Gray

John starts his messge by stating that when you feel Overwhelmed , you're spending too much time with the world and not enough time with God... He will be our peace. from Micah 5:5

My spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed. I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land” (Psalm 143:4–6).

 “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy” (Psalm 61:2–3, KJV).

 Folks, sometimes we feel overwhelmed and don’t know what to do.  When that happens let us be an encourager – love intentionally, redeem the time, be a blessing to others and leave folks better than you found them. Brighten the corner where you are. Leave footprints of love and kindness wherever you go. Be an encouraging builder of hope – just like Jesus.

From Mike: If only we would practice John's message what a difference we will make in others' lives as well as ours!

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