Prayer For The Future

Why are you in despair, O my soul?  And why have you become disturbed within me?  Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.  I remember Thee from the land of the Jordan.  Psalm 42:5-6

       Even if there are no rational grounds for it, man still continues to hope.   Biblical hope is inseparable from faith in God. Because of what God has done in the past, because of what God has done through Christ, and because God has changed me, I dare to pray for future blessings  that are, at present, invisible. (2 Corinthians. 1:10).

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         Lord, I want to pray like the one who wrote this Psalm.  When his heart failed because He couldn’t see Your power, he stopped the cycle of despair.  He preached to his own soul.  He told himself to hope.  My faith is not based on what I can see or perceive.  Can I see into the heavens?  Can I see the future?  I am mortal and live in the moment.  You are eternal and live in eternity.

         The one who wrote this Psalm hopes in You as he remembers You from the land of Jordan.  I follow his lead!  My hope is in you.  My expectation of You working all things for good is solid.  My faith that You are aware and working behind the scenes may be tenuous but I strengthen the cord of my faith with the promises of Your Word.  I remember what You have done for all my spiritual ancestors.  You did not fail even one of them and You will not fail Your children in the midst of devastating news.  You reign and You answer the prayers of the saints.

         Lord, take me back to one time in our story when Your intervention and power overwhelmed me.  Make my heart re-live the memory.  “Remember and review,” You told the children of Israel.  So, as I remember a piece of our story today, I see that I despaired for nothing.  My faith in You was well founded.  Every promise I hung on was true.  Everything the enemy told me about You was a lie.  Everything I worried about, You provided for.  For every crisis of faith, there was a Word from You.  I remember – and my despair is stilled.   In Jesus’ name, Amen

Clinging To Truth is Clinging To Jesus

CLINGING TO TRUTH IS CLINGING TO JESUS

Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ.  Jude 1

Jude was the brother of James (James the less) and Simeon, and all three were the half-brothers of Jesus.  They had at least one thing in common; they did not believe that Jesus was the Christ until they were older.  Blood relatives can be blind to anointing. Proximity yields a normalcy that obscures the signs of kingdom greatness. In spite of rejection, they all became bright lights after fully receiving the love of Christ.  Their passion for Him was stunning. They defended the faith and were martyred by people in far off lands, people who were hostile toward the Gospel.

Jude’s only letter was short but powerful.  He wrote generally, to the church at large, about the deterioration of doctrine.  He just about begs his listeners to defend the faith, to contend for it vigorously at all costs, even unto death.  He was clear to convey that when you and I defend doctrine, we defend Truth and Truth is a Person.  When we err from any one important tenet of the faith, we mar the face of Christ.

Today’s church is weak in theology. And, if weak in theology, absent in faith. We must know Jesus’ history, understand the sweeping narrative of Scripture, and become intimately acquainted with the backbone of our Rabbi’s faith if we are to possess the steel foundation that endures challenging times.  If our doctrine is mushy, so is our faith and weak is our light. Continue reading

Can Words Really Crush My Spirit?

CAN WORDS REALLY CRUSH MY SPIRIT?

A soothing tongue is a tree of life but perversion in it crushes the spirit.  Proverbs 15:4

         We often don’t equate words with weaponry. The idea seems overly dramatic yet anyone who has suffered the long-term effect of others hurtful attacks can attest just how much damage words can inflict.

         I am struck by the strong language of Solomon’s words.  Perverse words don’t just sting or cause someone to wince.  They have the ability to crush the spirit. The recipient of a tirade can tell you what happens to their body as the words come at them.  I hear many wives and husbands say that a bitter confrontation with their spouse leaves them physically weak.  As the barrage of accusations is spoken, they feel themselves sinking in spirit.  Some are even reduced to a state of wordlessness.

         But here’s how insidious it is. Many suffer from verbal abuse and are completely unaware of it because it can happen without shouting and without nasty name-calling.  Here are some signs if you suspect this is happening to you. Continue reading

Never Ending Stepping Stones

NEVER-ENDING STEPPING STONES

The path of the upright is a highway.  Proverbs 15:19

         A woman who takes the time to listen to and obey the voice of God is never stuck.  Every step she takes is leading somewhere.  No gesture is ever inconsequential.  No task performed is ever hollow.  No pain is ever senseless. Everywhere she places her foot is strategic even though she may be unaware of the significance.  Solomon said so.  “The upright one is on a path that makes up a highway.”

         Satan’s urgent agenda for us as God’s children is to cause us to distrust God.  If he can alienate our affections, he knows we will lose heart and abandon the way of faith.  One of his biggest lies is the one that says, “This is a dead end.  You’re trapped.”  Oh, how well I know.  I believed that and was crippled by a severe depression in the early nineties.  Everywhere I looked, I saw traps instead of doorways.  I didn’t know that they were a mirage, a smokescreen.  If only someone had told me to call Satan’s bluff with a well-fashioned arrow of the word of God.

         Now, two decades later, I’m still on a soapbox to declare that each ‘trap’ was really a doorway into glory.  Continue reading

Singing a Solo in Modern Day Babylon

SINGING A SOLO IN MODERN DAY BABYLON

By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. On the willows there we hung up our lyres. For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”  How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy! Psalm 137:1-6

The dusty scroll of an old violin rests in the middle of a musical score. Only one line of music is in focus.         Not all Psalms were written by David. This one was written by a Jewish exile living in Babylon. Having seen his homeland destroyed and taken as a captive into the foreign culture of the Babylonian Empire, he struggled to find his voice and get his spiritual bearings. His new homeland was corrupt and excessive and the people of God stuck out like sore thumbs. They were invited to sing their simple songs of faith to the taunts of the crowd, not unlike the Jews who were made to perform in the camps for Nazi soldiers. Brilliant violinists, violists, cellists, and bass violin players formed string quartets to pacify the military tyrants who despised them.

       This week, our song was rendered just as peculiar against the backdrop of the Supreme Court ruling. As we continue to witness the rapid decline into the abyss of godlessness, we know that we must not conform. God’s grace will enable us to stand and to sing. Our allegiance is to the kingdom of heaven and the culture of holiness.

       For many of us, depression is near and inviting. Admittedly, there is emotional and spiritual adjustment for what we’ve witnessed and what we know will come next. But in our grief, God invites us to sing the songs of the exiles. We are clearly outsiders here and the brunt of society’s jokes but our voices must not be silenced. The noise of evil must not, and cannot, prevail over the praise of God’s people.

         It’s not time to close the piano lid. It’s not time to retire the pen of the poet. It’s not time to put away the instruments. Never has the music of faith been more important and never are the songs sweeter than when saints raise their joyful voices with tear stained faces.

You are my joy. Let my hope sing. In Jesus’ name, Amen

When I Don’t Want To Be With God

WHEN I DON’T WANT TO BE WITH GOD

 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” John 6:66-69

         When I was spiritually shortsighted (and it was easy because I was in distress), God looked guilty when I considered my present circumstances. No matter which way I looked at things, I felt that He failed to love me the way He should if He was really a good Father. Angry and hurt, I made some very bad spiritual decisions. Here’s what I would say to do if you and God are not intimate right now.

  1. Go toward him, not away from him. The very one you’re angry with is usually the last one you want to run to for help. And yet, God invites all of us to pour out our complaint. If you don’t have God, who will you run to for help?
  2. Verbalize your issues. When things swirl in your head, there is not clear thinking and the cobwebs only multiply. Talk to God. Write out what you’re thinking and feeling. Spell out the conclusions you’ve made about him. Repent for name-calling.
  3. Ask God to take you to the right scriptures and then open your heart to them. He is the God who promises to write His Word on our hearts.
  4. Look for a temporary mediator with skin on. Verbalize your issues for the 2nd time to a seasoned Christian who has survived crushing times. They have, most likely, felt the same things you’re dealing with and yet God has gotten them to the other side with their faith in tact. They will offer perspective that is life saving and valuable.

Continue reading

Waiting in Moab

WAITING IN MOAB

Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation. For the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain and Moab shall be trampled down in his place. God will spread out his hands in the midst of it. Isaiah 25:9-11

         From it’s very beginning, the land of Moab was cursed. Moab was born to Lot and his daughter; incest was the foundation of the their history. As the nation grew stronger, they became more evil. They practiced sorcery, open adultery, incest, and prostitution. They even threw any unwanted children into the fire. When Moab is spoken of metaphorically in scripture, it refers to any place where evil reigns and God is dishonored.

         As a nation, we are residing in Moab. We are waiting for the Lord’s salvation. He is the One who will bring down the pride of His enemies, stripping them of the very things they are proud of. He will break their power and disable their ability to sin. He will destroy all their fortresses. While we wait, we have great hope in the promises of a God who preserves his people until the day of deliverance.

         ‘Living in Moab’ can also describe the personal existence of many of God’s children. Maybe you are one of them. Moab may represent your home. You co-exist with unbelievers who are resistant to the very idea of Christ Jesus. Sin and idolatry are at the center of your loved one’s life. They sin boldly without the slightest wince. The closer you get to Jesus, the more friction you feel in your ‘Moab’. Continue reading