Trusting Though Surrounded

Do you expect that following God’s way will make life easier?  If you study the Scripture and seek to keep all its precepts, will your circumstances be easy and smooth?  While our loving Heavenly Father promises many good things to us, His children, a life of comfort and ease isn’t one of them!


Psalm 3 (New Living Translation)

1O LORD, I have so many enemies;

so many are against me.

2So many are saying,

“God will never rescue him!”

3But you, O LORD, are a shield around me;

you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.

4I cried out to the LORD,

and he answered me from his holy mountain.

5I lay down and slept,

yet I woke up in safety,

for the LORD was watching over me.

6I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies

who surround me on every side.

7Arise, O LORD!

Rescue me, my God!

Slap all my enemies in the face!

Shatter the teeth of the wicked!

8Victory comes from you, O LORD.

May you bless your people.

How Can the Wicked Prosper?

Certainly in our society today, we find many people opposed to God and His Word.  As in David’s time, there are many mockers and slanderers of God’s followers.  Sometimes we may think that God should tear down these people directly with His mighty right hand, or at least give us victory over them so they will see the truth in what we speak.  But, God’s ways are not our ways—no, his are much higher.  In His good pleasure, God often holds back his wrath and judgment from those who break his Law and oppose His people.

For a time, we find ourselves surrounded by a mighty army of enemies.  Christians around the world today face physical violence from groups who oppose the gospel, and every day men and women are beaten and even killed for following Jesus.  And God continues to give life and breath to even those who harm and kill His people.  How can God do this??  Why does he allow His people to be surrounded?

He’s Longsuffering with Us, Should He Not Be with Others?

God’s mercy is very great.  His grace, or unmerited favor, is lavished on all of mankind, even those who actively oppose Him.  And while we may desire comfort and ease in our lives by following Him, God knows better.  Often these trials and tests produce greater faith and dependence upon God.  See in the Psalm how David exudes confidence in God and His power during the time when he’s surrounded.  This is the faith that moves mountains—trust in God even in the times when it appears that God’s enemies will triumph.

While There Is Time

The good and bad news is that a day is coming when God’s patience with sinners will end.  When Christ comes to judge all the earth, all who are not covered by His blood will be cast out of His presence for all eternity.  Jesus referred to this hell as a place of weeping and knashing of teeth, and all who oppose God will find themselves there.  Yet while we live and breathe there is yet time.  Have you repented of your sin and unbelief and turned to Christ?  Have you asked Him to wash you clean and adopt you into His family?  Do not let the sun go down today without finding hope and rest in the Lord Christ Jesus.  Call on Him now, and watch as He transforms you into the person you were meant to be!

Why Do Clean Hands Matter?

Whoever loves Christ has the remarkable privilege of adoption into God’s family.  Since we call God Father, we may inadvertently diminish His great power and His holy wrath toward those who oppose Him.  The following excerpt from Psalm 18 depicts God in his mighty majesty and power, and reminds us that in times when those who pit themselves against God seek to harm us, our Father yet holds the strength and the will to bring down those who lift themselves up.


Psalm 18

13The LORD also thundered in the heavens,
And the Most High uttered His voice,
Hailstones and coals of fire.

14He sent out His arrows, and scattered them,
And lightning flashes in abundance, and routed them.

15Then the channels of water appeared,
And the foundations of the world were laid bare
At Your rebuke, O LORD,
At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils.

16He sent from on high, He took me;
He drew me out of many waters.

17He delivered me from my strong enemy,
And from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.

18They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
But the LORD was my stay.

19He brought me forth also into a broad place;
He rescued me, because He delighted in me.

20The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness;
According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me.

21For I have kept the ways of the LORD,
And have not wickedly departed from my God.

22For all His ordinances were before me,
And I did not put away His statutes from me.

Nature Obeys Him

In verses 13-15 we get a clear picture of the massive strength and power of our Mighty God.  The elements of this earth obey His every word, as he sends forth lightning to scatter groups of men who would oppose Him.

The psalmist remembers past times when the Lord has delivered him from his enemies.  Strength and safety was found in the secure presence of God himself.  This haven was provided to the psalmist because God delighted in him.  He chose righteousness and clean hands, rather than falling to the temptation that undoubtedly surrounded him.

What You Place Before Your Eyes

See in verse 22 how the psalmist continued to keep the ways of the Lord:  by keeping God’s Laws before his eyes.  This is a great example for us to follow—day by day placing the statutes of the Lord in front of us, that we might live in them.

To those who do not understand the ways of God and who He is, it seems silly and pointless to place such restrictions upon ourselves.  For example, why would we choose to “miss out” on all the fun of casual sex or drunken partying?  Many who engage in these things seem to do just fine, and disaster and destruction don’t necessarily rain down on them.  But there is wisdom in the words of this Psalm, and in the example set by the psalmist.  By living God’s way when it seems that we could “get away” with behavior that displeases Him, we are storing up a reward (v20) with Him who holds all things in His Hands.

What Will That Day Be Like?

Days of struggle and even oppression by the unrighteous occur in the lives of Christians more often than we’d like to think about.  When these days come for you, how will you face them?  Will you confidently rest in the comforting protection of your Father God, or will you look back in regret at all the times you broke and disregarded the statutes of the One who stands in power over all things?

In our culture, it can be so easy to push the Laws of God into the back corners of our mind—to focus on so many things which fill our schedules, until there’s no time for reading God’s Word or talking with Him.  Let’s encourage each other to adopt some new habits of placing the statutes of God ever before our eyes.  Let’s work as a group to grow in righteousness and love of our Lord Jesus Christ, that we may face our enemies and disasters with clean hands and a pure heart, watching what our Mighty God will do in defense of His children!

Worthy of Praise

Life can get pretty hectic in our fast-paced world! If you’re like me, you rush through breakfast and your morning routine to get to work on time, spend the day on various projects, get a workout in, cook dinner, kids to bed, chores, snack, and crash into bed. Just writing it all out makes me tired!

Add to all that the pursuit of a thriving life and you’ve got a full plate! But if we’re not careful, this “pedal to the metal” living can wear on us, even working against us in the pursuit of a successful life.

The best medicine for a life starting to spin out of control is a time of quiet reverence in the presence of God. While it can be easy to neglect spiritual matters when life gets busy, it’s vital that we take time to commune with our heavenly Father, as we will find in Him the peace and satisfaction that can be found nowhere else.

Psalm 145 is a great passage to bring praise to God and foster a time of meditation and prayer:

1I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
2Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.
3Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
4One generation will commend your works to another;
they will tell of your mighty acts.
5They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.b
6They will tell of the power of your awesome works,
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
7They will celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
8The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
9The Lord is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.

The Psalmist begins in reverence of His creator–exalting him as King. God’s name is lifted high in praise. When we approach God, recognizing his authority and glory, we find our hearts softened and open to His life-giving Word.

In verse 3, we read that no one can fathom the greatmess of God. Though we see the splendor of God in His Word, creation, and in our lives personally, we can never fully comprehend his greatness. The highest thoughts we can imagine fall terribly short of his true glory, power, and greatness.

We do well to speak to one another of the great works that God has accomplished throughout history. From the awesome display of his power in creation, his wrath against rebellious men at the flood and the Red Sea, to his infinite mercy in sending a Savior to redeem us from death, the Lord has displayed His greatness to us. We do well to consider his works, call them to mind regularly, and speak them to each other all throughout the day.

How thankful we are that verse 8 speaks the truth! God is slow to anger–allowing us time to recognize the insanity of sin, turn from it and to him, where he waits with open arms to freely forgive. Praise God that Jesus has made a way for our forgiveness through His atoning death on the cross!

The Lord is good to all, according to verse 9, and He has compassion on all He has made. Even those who hate him enjoy the blessings of rain, sunshine, laughter, and love. God is rich in mercy and allows us sinners chance after chance to spurn our rebellious ways, give up our lives to Him, and place our faith and hope in Him alone.

If you’ve never trusted Christ as your Savior, thank God for his grace and mercy, and turn to Him today. Though you now stand guilty before the all-powerful just judge, you can yet be saved from the punishment you deserve. Because Jesus lived a perfect life, His torture and death has paid the debt that you owe. Trust in Him alone for salvation, give your heart to Him, and He will wash you white as snow.

Our Awesome Creator

This post is fifth in a series of six articles on how fitness benefits many other areas of your life.  So far, we’ve discussed how challenging fitness regimen can improve your productivity, disposition, relationships, and finances. Today, we’ll discuss how embarking on a fitness regimen can awaken your heart and mind to the glories of God.

Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  Can you sing this Psalm with the psalmist?  Is this the sentiment that flows through your soul today?


Unfortunately, for many of us, the drudgery of everyday life can suck the praise and admiration of our Lord right out of us.  Demanding clients and rude coworkers can pull our eyes off the simple beauty of the world around us, and by the time we get home in the evening, we’re more likely to ignore or mistreat our families than lead them in a song praising the awesome power of our Creator.

So how can a challenging physical regimen help us reclaim a child-like sense of awe for our God?  First, by stimulating bloodflow through the body and serving as a outlet for frustrations, as we discussed a few weeks ago. But there is another element to fitness training beyond these simple chemical responses.

Incredible Design

Have you ever seen someone drive up in a fine-tuned Corvette or a shiny new Harley?  The moment you see the sleek exterior and hear the engine purr softly, you are flooded with a feeling of admiration and appreciation beauty.  If you bask in the moment a bit longer, you’ll find you have an appreciation for the designers and builders of such a fine automobile.  You think about all the planning that went into the production of the car, and you’ll see how each individual piece gracefully fits into the complete package, each part fulfilling a particular role in harmony with every other part.

This simple example is merely a slight glimpse into the appreciation of the human body that can come with an ongoing commitment to fitness.  When I first began exercising in high-intensity functional movement training, I had a certain level of appreciation for what my body could do.  But as I progressed in various compound movements such as squats and snatches, I became more and more amazed at the amazing intricacies and harmonious interaction of the body’s many systems. This machine that God built by his infinite divine creativity is indeed something to be marveled at, not only for its beautiful cohiesiveness but for it’s incredible ability to adapt to new challenges.

See His Glory

It is very easy to neglict our bodies and take for granted the life we are given each new day, and many in our culture have done just that.  They spend their time on other things and allow their bodies to slowly decline–allowing flexibility to wane and strength disappear.  Along with the loss of these capabilities comes a loss of appreciation for the miraculous systems that make up their body.  If you want to gaze on the glory of God the way an art patron might gaze on a beautiful work of da Vinci, start your journey by visiting the ThriveFit page and trying out Workout 1.  Although it may take many workouts for you to reach a deep appreciation for all the capabilities held within your body, in time you too may just find yourself singing with the psalmist, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made!”

The Problem of Evil

If you visited our site in the last week, you may have noticed a rather peculiar message on our homepage.  An image of a skull and crossbones was displayed with a message of: “you’ve been hacked!”

Though I’m not certain, I believe the intruder gained access to the site because my password was too simple.  Hackers today can use programs to guess many common passwords automatically, so if you have a simple password for your sensitive information, take this opportunity to change it before thieves get into your accounts too!
I’m very grateful to my hosting company, for automatically saving backups of all my content.  A few quick emails back and forth with the support team had be back in business again!  And yes, I’ve improved my passwords and backed up my files locally so I’m prepared for next time.

Pointless Destruction

It’s odd, but from what I can tell, the hacker didn’t use their access to do anything useful for themselves.  They hacked in, deleted my content, and displayed the “you’ve been hacked” page.  But there was no gain for them in the whole thing.  All that was accomplished was that they destroyed someone else’s work, requiring many hours from me and others to repair the damage.

This brings up a few key issues.  First, what’s going on inside someone who will seek to destroy the possessions of another, not for their own gain, but simply to cause pain and destruction?  Second, how can the all-powerful and all-loving God of the Bible allow these things to happen?

Unfortunately, the hacker from last week is bit a small example of someone who’ll harm others for no reason but to cause harm.  While my site was repaired quickly, some evil acts leave their victims with lasting scars. Murder, rape, and abuse occur everyday in cities across the U.S. and the world. If God created all things and has the power to do anything He wants, why doesn’t he zap these people?

The Story of David

The Bible answers this question very clearly and in many places. One of the most dramatic examples in the Bible is David.  This man was chosen by God to be king of Israel after Saul, who had turned away from God.  But even though David was God’s choice for king, Saul continued to live and rule.  Saul even commanded his entire army to seek out David to kill him, forcing David to flee his home, leaving all friends and family.
Think how David must have felt—all alone in the wilderness, hiding from an entire army, waiting for God to fulfill His promise to make him king.  He must have thought, “God, why don’t you just zap Saul?!  He’s persecuting me, your servant and breaking your Law.”  Many of the Psalms written by David during this time have this theme (e.g., Psalm 42, 43).

But God did not destroy Saul here, even though he did deserve it.  This is the basis of our question too—why doesn’t God destroy evil people?  One major answer the Bible gives us is that God is great in Mercy.

You see, if God were not merciful, He would never have let Adam and Eve live after they disobeyed Him in the garden.  He would have destroyed everyone in the flood, instead of sparing Noah and his family.  God is a God great in mercy, and he holds back the punishment that is deserved, giving us time to turn from our sin, repent, and trust Christ as our Savior.

Ironically, in David’s story, we see later see King David doing exactly the same thing to Uriah that Saul had done to him.  Uriah’s wife Bathsheba was beautiful, and when David saw her, he decided to go to her and sleep with her, committing adultery.  Because he was afraid of being caught, he sent Uriah into the front lines in battle where he was quickly killed.  He then took Bathsheba as his wife.  The same David that cried for God to destroy the evil men that persecuted him in the wilderness, had now persecuted another.  By the rules David asked God to set up, be himself should have been destroyed by God.
Thankfully, God is a God of mercy.  When David was confronted with his sin, he repented in sorrow.  He remembered that God is merciful, and cried out to Him for forgiveness.  This was his prayer (Psalm 51):

1Have mercy on me, O God,
because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.

2Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin.
3For I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night.

4Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
and your judgment against me is just.

5For I was born a sinner—
yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
6But you desire honesty from the womb,b
teaching me wisdom even there.

Who Draws the Line?

We too can be quick to ask for God’s justice and wrath on those who do evil to us.  But we must remember that we have received God’s mercy, and we didn’t deserve it either.  One of my favorite atrists, Lecrae, puts it this way in one of his songs:

“Some people say that God ain’t real ’cause they don’t see how a good God can exsist with all this evil in the world. If God is real then He should stop all this evil, ’cause He’s all-powerful right? What is evil though man? It’s anything that’s against God. It’s anything morally bad or wrong. It’s murder, rape, stealing, lying, cheating. But if we want God to stop evil, do we want Him to stop it all or just a little bit of it? If He stops us from doing evil things, what about lying, or what about our evil thoughts? I mean, where do you stop, the murder level, the lying level, or the thinking level? If we want Him to stop evil, we gotta be consistent, we can’t just pick and choose. That means you and I would be eliminated right? Because we think evil stuff. If that’s true, we should be eliminated! But thanks be to God that Jesus stepped in to save us from our sin! Christ died for all evilness! Repent, turn to Jesus man!”

You can see the full video of this song here:

Much more could be said on this topic, but I hope this helps give you a better understanding of the problem of evil.  We may be hacked again here at TotalThriver, but we’ll always come back, and will be praying that those who’s feet rush to evil may be changed by the power of God to faith in Christ Jesus.  Thanks for reading and feel free to add your comments or questions.