Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Promise of Power in Weakness!

As we wish one another a Happy New Year along with prayers for peace and blessings, the reality is that many among us live a life of pain and suffering. What can we wish for those people? Healing? Yes, of course. But God does not choose to heal everyone. Witness the Apostle Paul.

Paul prayed three times for his affliction to be lifted from him. Yet how did God respond? "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

This morning I was reading Judy Gann's The God of all Comfort (Devotions of Hope for Those Who Chronically Suffer), Living Ink Books, an imprint of AMG Publishers, 2005. On page 23 she wrote the following:

"I watched as my energetic coworker darted through the children's area of the library (italics mine). Familiar pangs of jealousy pricked my heart. I yearned for even a smidgen of my coworker's vitality."

Gann talks about the sting of chronic illness--both physical and emotional as she wrestles with the pain of limitations and weakness. But quickly she returns to God's promise of grace, even power, that is made perfect in weakness. "Without the thorn of chronic illness, I would miss the daily blessing of drawing on God's strength. When I exhaust my own resources, my thorn spurs me to trust solely in God's power."

So, along with our prayers for healing, let's also ask God to give those who suffer an awareness of His promise of grace so that they may experience His power in their weakness. And when it's our turn to suffer, let's remember this for ourselves.

What has your suffering taught you that you can share with others?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Another Promise of New Beginnings

On this first day of 2010 let's celebrate new beginnings--the beginnings of wisdom and understanding.

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."
      -Proverbs 9:10

When a city wants to honor an individual, the mayor will present that person with a key to the city. What God offers individuals in Proverbs 9:10 is far greater--keys to wisdom and understanding.

The individual who is endowed with wisdom and understanding will be sought out--at home, at church, in the work force. His opinions will be valued: his stock will go up!

So how do we attain a proper fear of the LORD and knowledge of the Holy One? We must seek wisdom as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then we will understand the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 2:4-5).

Jesus, the Son of God and our advocate with the Father, tells us in Matthew 7:7: "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."  

Today, on this first day of 2010, why not resolve to seek the fear of the Lord--not so much for the added value of your "stock portfolio" but rather for the intrinsic value of having a more intimate walk with God Himself?

What does an intimate walk with God look like to you?

Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Promise to Renew Your Strength

We've talked about mistakes we made in 2009, and our hopes for a better new year. However, hoping won't make it happen. "Turning over a new leaf" won't make it happen. We have to resolve in our hearts to follow the Lord, learn His ways, and lean upon Him.

Can you resolve to let the Lord guide you this year? Will you keep Him, rather than your circumstances, as your focus? Will you trust Him to renew your strength? This is His promise if you do:

"Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."
- Isaiah 40:31 

God promises to renew your strength so that you can:
  • soar like the eagle, above worldly concerns
  • run life's race without feeling weary
  • walk through life without fainting
What will have to change in your mindset for this to happen? What could keep you from experiencing renewed strength in 2010?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Promise of Peace in 2010

Yesterday I asked the question: What would your life be like without worry or stress?

Can you even imagine a life without worry or stress? Panic seems to be an integral part of the human condition. We sometimes even cling to panic as proof that we're conscious of the state of things. "Well, duh, of course I know the world's a mess. Look at my own life: it's spinning out of control."

Remember a few days ago we talked about Jesus offering peace--not the world's peace, but rather a peace that surpasses understanding. On one occasion He said:

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my Yoke is easy and my burden is light."
             -Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus offered a supernatural peace, not the world's peace. As a matter of fact, this supernatural peace involves gentleness and humility--not qualities the world prizes. It is gentleness and humility that recognizes our need for God, our need to trust in Him with all our heart and to acknowledge Him as guide of our lives.

If we do that, we will find rest for our souls. Yes, rest and peace will replace our worry and stress. And 2010 will be a very good year!

Can you resolve to let the Lord guide you this year?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Promise for Guidance!

With the new year upon us, most of us can look back at 2009 and see things we could have done better. Right?

Today's promise, if observed, can assure us of a better 2010.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
                         -Proverbs 3:5-6

If we trust in the LORD as our sovereign loving God, we will obey Him. Why wouldn't we? He knows our circumstances and He's powerful enough to perfect them. He will do whatever is needed to produce the best long-term results for His children.

Does that mean we won't suffer loss at some point in 2010? Not necessarily. But it does mean that we can be free from worry and stress knowing that our loving LORD is taking care of things. It means that we no longer have to figure everything out!

What would your life be like without worry or stress?


Monday, December 28, 2009

The Promise of New Beginnings!

As the new year approaches, I'm reminded of new beginnings. Are there any promises more wonderful to consider than these:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
             the old has gone, the new has come!                
-II Corinthians 5:17


If we confess our sins,
he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins
and purify us from all unrighteousness.
-I John 1:9

In the first verse, we are assured that if we come to Christ as Savior, we become NEW. Our sinful past is wiped away: we are clean as the fresh fallen snow. And, if we should sin again, we have the promise in the second verse that if we confess our sin, He will forgive us again and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Can you think of anything that can separate God's child from His love?
Can you think of any reason why you should not take God up on His offer of new beginnings?