June 4, 2020- From Where Does Our Help Come? Psalm 121

help from the Lord

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,who made heaven and earth.                                                                                                                                            He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.                                                                             

Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.                                                                                         The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.                                                                                                         

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore. – Psalm 121 (ESV)

It is a theme in Scripture that our provision comes from God.  It’s human nature that we want to rely upon ourselves, or we expect others or even the government to defend or provide for us.  God is the One Who supplies us.  He gives us our talents and abilities so that we can earn an honest living, and so that we can serve our neighbors with the gifts we have been given.

It is easy to get discouraged and lose hope when we face adversity.  It’s hard to trust God when we can’t see him working for us.  Yet the same God Who created heaven and earth does have our lives in His hand, forever.  Even in the valleys of shadow- in the sickbeds, in the times of scarcity, in the times when others betray us, in the dark nights of our souls, Jesus walks with us.

We are guaranteed to have trials in this life.  Jesus said that we will have to take up our crosses and follow Him, and sometimes following Him is not easy.  Even so, He gives us our daily bread.  He gives us the grace to persevere in times of trouble and to lift our eyes to Him in every circumstance.

Lord, give us the gift of faith to trust You.  Comfort us in times of turmoil with the peace that only You can give.  Help us to rely on You alone for our provision, our help and our salvation.

November 29, 2017- Rejoice Always- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24, Psalm 16

rejoice kids

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil. May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 (NRSV)

Rejoice always. That’s not an easy instruction, even coming from the apostle Paul who had plenty to not rejoice about.

It’s easy to rejoice when things are going our way, but not so much when things turn dark. It’s hard to sing through pain. It’s hard to smile through suffering. It’s hard to reach out for what is good and right when so much is going wrong.  Yet Jesus invites us: rejoice always. What we see isn’t the whole picture. We are called to have faith in the unseen, and to believe even when the evidence we see doesn’t always support our faith.

One of the most depressing aspects of the late fall/early winter is that many of us don’t see daylight much if at all, several days a week. If one works in a place without windows and comes to work in the dark and leaves in the dark, at times it’s almost hard to believe that the sun exists.

choosejoy

In hard times we don’t always see the evidence that God is with us- like the winter sun that we seldom see from October until March. Yet God is with us, in all things, even in suffering, illness, grief, and adversity.

 

Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.  I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble, in whom is all my delight.

Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names upon my lips.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.  The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure. For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit.

You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore. – Psalm 16 (NRSV)

March 21, 2017 – Trust Issues- Jeremiah 17:7-8

 

weak heart strong god

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.  Jeremiah 17:7-8 NRSV

Anxiety is one of the major scourges of modern life. All of us have been anxious to a degree- some of us only in certain trying times, and others of us have experienced anxiety on a daily basis, to the point of it becoming a debilitating condition.  Everyone has known and will know uncertainty, and everyone will have adversity in life.   God knows this, and as in all things, He has made a provision for us to deal with our anxiety.

Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 (NRSV)

It sounds easy to just let God have our anxiety, but before we can give away our anxiety and fears, we have to trust God.

Trust is easier for some people than for others. People who have been betrayed by others regularly or who have had a number of catastrophic events in life have a lot harder time trusting anyone, including God.  Yet the answer to suffering from anxiety remains the same: trust God.

Since we are not able to trust God fully and surrender to Him in our own strength, the Holy Spirit is always readily available to us to provide that strength. When we lack the strength and sentience to find the words for prayer, the Holy Spirit provides those as well.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. Romans 8:26 (NRSV)

Trust is not something that is easy to give. The trust in God that is faith is not a blind trust, but a faith that is tested by adversity and struggle and doubt.  Doubt is a part of faith, not the opposite of it.  Doubt triggers us to ask questions and to seek the truth so that our faith and trust are strengthened, grounded and informed. God longs for us to surrender even our doubts to Him- as well as our anger, our fear, our frustration and our despair.  The Creator and the Master of creation can take it, and He invites us to come to Him exactly as we are, with all the baggage that entails.

There are many of us with heavy hearts and serious issues weighing on our hearts and minds today. Yet God is trustworthy. He is our Provision and our Strength, even when it’s hard for us to see it, even when we doubt, and even when we feel as if we are overwhelmed by anxiety.