Remember When?

“Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”  Psalm 42:6

When life comes to a point of feeling barren and dry, without hope or purpose . . . what then?  It’s easy to settle into a pit of despair and encounter the anvil of blame and self-condemnation.  Satan piles it on when our minds begin to entertain such thoughts.  No different than when he visited Eve in the garden or stood beside Jesus at the edge of the cliff, he throws a bone that looks to be covered in Grade A meat, when in fact it’s hollow, dry and splintered.

David experienced a number of moments in his life when despair seemed to be the theme.  But, without a doubt, it is apparent David was able to somehow pierce the darkness of his unfortunate circumstances and rise above them.  The key?  Well, David remembered!  He remembered the moments in his life when God delivered, embraced and sustained him.  (Psalm 63)

So often in life, in a day when multiple things go right, I only remember the one thing that went wrong.  How unfortunate that my mind cannot remember when.  I fail to reflect on the moment when God answered my prayer, when God provided a meal, when God pardoned me, when God got my attention, when God spoke through me, when God whispered, when God moved a mountain, when God gave me strength, when God held me . . . when God . . .

David reflects on moments when he saw him in the sanctuary (v. 2) and with his lips, praises Him!  He remembers Him when he sat on his bed (v. 6) and with his voice, praises Him!  He knows His right hand upholds him (v. 8) and with his lips, all will praise Him!

May I simply remember when God was there . . . yesterday . . . today . . . and forever!

“What the Lord expects from us at such seasons is not to abandon ourselves to unreasoning sorrow, but trustingly to look sorrow in the face, to scan its features, to search for the help and hope, which, as surely as God is our Father, must be there. In such trials there can be no comfort for us so long as we stand outside weeping. If only we will take the courage to fix our gaze deliberately upon the stern countenance of grief, and enter unafraid into the darkest recesses of our trouble, we shall find the terror gone, because the Lord has been there before us, and, coming out again, has left the place transfigured, making of it by the grace of his resurrection a house of life, the very gate of heaven.”
– Geerhardus Vos

by:  Mark Cruver

Faith Fueled By Belief

“One thing I do know.  I was blind but now I see!”  John 9:25

Faith can be a hard sell at times.  Buying into the belief in something without evidence of support is justifiably impossible to the mind.  Yet, beyond understanding, we believe in all sorts of things.  We need no basis or proof of it’s value or existence.

There are many things I believe in and have faith will happen.  These things warrant my faith because I’ve come to rely upon their consistency.  Their loyal nature of repetition has allowed me to forget about whether or not they’ll deliver and I’ve turned it into more of an expectation.  For instance, the sun has never failed me.  Every day since my birth, and countless stories have been told of it behaving the same before my time, the sun has risen in the east and set in the west.  Another is my car . . . it just turned over 80,000 miles this week.  Yet, despite it’s wear I’m confident it will start this afternoon when I get back into it.  Why?  It’s proven to me time and time again it will.

But it’s not with these examples or many others like them that I find my belief exercised.  Why?  Well, mainly because with these particular events I have never seen them occur.  I’ve only read about them — granted, I’ve heard their stories over and over again, but still I must ask myself, “to what degree do I actually believe these took place?”  I would argue, many Christ followers today wrestle with this same question.  Allow me to present a couple of the more popular.

Perhaps top on my list is the moment when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood in the center of the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:1-30).  With the flames ordered by the king to be heated seven times their normal temperature even the kings soldiers were killed as they were throwing the three in the furnace.  Now . . . why is this difficult for me?  Here’s why . . . I’ve stood near a bonfire before — can’t really get that close to it.  What my mind knows about flames says that it is impossible for man to live to talk the next day about what it’s like inside a massive flame.

Second on my list would be the division of the Red Sea as Moses led his people closer to the Promised Land  (Exodus 14).  Really?  Water always takes the path of least resistance.  Next time you have a bowl of water you try separating it into two halves so the bottom of the bowl between it remains dry.  Good luck with that!  The laws of water says that is impossible!

This may raise a question regarding my own faith in Christ, since in many similar ways there are miracles and moments of equal disbelief.  But here is my point . . . it’s not that I don’t believe them, it’s that I do!  It’s that belief that fuels my faith in the One who came to save me, deliver me from sin and restore me to my rightful place, seated by His side, at his throne . . . TODAY!

It’s through the belief in those extraordinary moments of life, witnessed not by my own eyes but believed through the consistency of the pure and holy nature of the One who lives in me that drives my faith further toward the cross!

So, I make my faith personal — watching, tasting and living in the arms of my Savior every day.  I believe because I know — in both the things I can see and those I will never see.  I believe because I know He is real and I have SEEN Him every day.

Lord Jesus, remind me of the simple truths of Your character!  Remind me of your faithfulness that is evermore present in the small things because you have proven your faithfulness in the big things.  I want to trust you in all things, I want my faith to be strengthened in believing your words, your promises, knowing full well You are the “same, yesterday, today and forever!”

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the quiet waters, he restores my soul.”  Psalm 23:3

by:  Mark Cruver

Don’t Press the Easy Button

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9

Have you ever had a verse just stick in your head?  I’ve been reading quite a bit lately and through the course of one of the books I’m into the author shared this verse to make a point.  I sat on this page and in this paragraph for what must have been a half-hour.  I can’t even tell you what point the author was trying to make with using the verse, I just knew that for whatever reason, I was needing to camp on it for a while.  Galatians 6:9 was that verse.

Giving up is so easy!  I think I’ve mentioned before how my son is a cross-country runner.  They have trained hard to run a 5k or 3k and very few, if any, give up during the course of their run.  They stick to it!  Endure the pain, power through it and even come in last if that’s what it takes to finish.

This is exactly how God intends for us — for me — to run the race.  Now, granted, if I set out for a 5k, I’d be looking all over for an easy button!  But God never said the race we are to run in Him was going to be an easy race.  In fact, He warned us there would be “trials of many kind.”  Some of them would look like little roots that stick out of the ground and trip you up, while others would be steep cliffs that would appear far too impossible to scale.  But Christ encourages us through Paul to “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)

When my circumstances get tough and I focus on the “here and now,” it is part of my nature to want to “get off the ride” so to speak.  I remember a recent trip to Six Flags with my family and encountering this very thought.  It’s important for you to know that roller coasters and I do not typically see eye-to-eye on the definition of “that was fun.”  And yet, for many important reasons, I agreed with my family to ride the Superman ride.  Why couldn’t I just pick the one that is simple?  But no . . . I have to agree to the one that suspends you from your back and places nothing between you and the ground, then sends you into an inverted loop and accelerates you into a corkscrew.  I can’t tell you how bad I wanted an easy button for this!  Saying “NO WAY” was an option, giving up was possible, but that would be overlooking the MANY things God wanted to teach me through being suspended by my back 140 feet in the air, diving into an inverted loop and thrusted into a corkscrew.  It actually sounds a lot like my life . . . hmmm.

It’s never going to be easy to withstand the pressures of life . . . in fact, impossible without Him.  But when I am facing my giants, with all of it’s twists, loops and corkscrews, I don’t have to give up — I don’t have to look for the easy button.  Instead, I look down and remind myself where my feet are planted — on the Solid Rock, and then I look up and see where it is I’m seated — right next to my Savior!  I’m standing on a very firm foundation through Christ who strengthens me.   It’s who I am!

So, when I’m ready to give up Lord Jesus, remind me of the many things you are trying to teach me, remind me of my footing, remind me of my position in you!

“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”  I Corinthians 15:58

by:  Mark Cruver

What’s In The Title

For me, this blog represents a place where I can express things in my mind that often make more sense to me if I get them on paper — or at least the computer screen.  Sealed & Seated came about because of my own lack of understanding the truth of who I am in Christ.

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.”      Ephesians 1:13-14

Key to this verse in my life was the two words “Having believed.”  The truth of having been sealed with Christ was good for me to know.  In fact, I can say I probably heard it a thousand times before.  But faith comes through believing it — that’s what drives behavior.  If I don’t believe it to be true, then I won’t live like I believe it!  So I know and believe that I am sealed within Christ  —  my life IS Christ!

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”    Ephesians 2:6-7

It was always a special day on Thanksgiving to circle around the family dinner table and find the place where my name was written.  It was MY place!  Chosen for me, designated for me, prepared for me!  God has gone before us and prepared that seat!  Through His resurrection I too have been raised and placed in a seat with Him!  It is MY place!

by:  Mark Cruver