Saturday, May 8, 2010

Be Still, My Soul

In fiction, the hero takes a journey, often perilous, that will cause him to change in some significant way. Will his adventures make him stronger, wiser, and more competent--or will he fold under the weight of his trial? That all depends upon the author of his book.

Sometimes the child of God feels discouraged, fearing he'll fold under the weight of his trials. But we need never be afraid, for we have the Author's promise that he will help us.

"So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
~Isaiah 41:10

Our Author-Creator will sometimes lead us to green pastures and quiet waters. At other times He will lead us through the valley of the shadow of death. But always He guides us in paths of righteousness. And always always He is with us.

So when you are afraid, remember these words from the old hymn, Be Still, My Soul*:

Be still my soul: the Lord is on thy side; 
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain. 
Leave to thy God to order and provide; 
in every change He faithful will remain. 
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Thru' thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

God is our Friend, He is on our side, and He will guide us to a joyful end.

* Text: Katharina von Schlegel, 1752; trans. by Jane Borthwick, 1855 (Ps. 46:10)
Music: Jean Sibelius, 1899

Thursday, May 6, 2010

National Day of Prayer

How great it is to know that, as we observe the National Day of Prayer, we have a God who actually listens.

The God who sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross to redeem mankind is the same God who lovingly calls us to prayer.

"Call to me and I will answer you
and tell you great and unsearchable things
you do not know."
~Jeremiah 33:3

The God who lovingly calls us to prayer is the same omniscient God who knows who we are and what troubles we face.

"Your heavenly Father knows 
that you have need of all these things."
~Matthew 6:32

The God who knows our needs is the same omnipotent God who can do something about them, and will do more than we could ever ask for.

"Now unto him 
who is able to do exceedingly abundantly
above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that worketh in us . . ."
~Ephesians 3:20

The God who has promised to more than meet our needs is the very same God who hates evil and will stamp it out according to his timetable.

"And I saw a great white throne,
and him that sat on it . . .
and death and hades were cast into the lake of fire.
This is the second death.
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life
was cast into the lake of fire."
~Revelation 20:11-15

The God who hates evil and will stamp it out according to his timetable is the same God who is coming quickly...

"Behold, I come quickly.
Blessed is he that keeps the words 
the prophecy of this book."
~Revelation 22:7

So on this National Day of Prayer, rather than focus on our problems or persecutors, maybe we should focus on God and His Son--our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ--who prayed specifically for us:  

"I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world,
but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil . . . 
Neither pray I for these alone,
but for them also who shall believe on me
through their word;
that they all may be one,
as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee . . ."
~John 17:15-21

May we all be one in praising God and thanking him for bearing our great burdens on this National Day of Prayer.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Don't Make Them Beg!

Has anyone ever asked you to do something good that was entirely in your area of competence? You had no other commitments, and it was actually something you enjoyed doing. But you said no!

While I totally understand the wisdom of building helpful margins in life, there are times when we allow ourselves to wallow in a state of inertia. Our natural man doesn't want to be bothered. We just want to be left alone. Then along comes that pesky neighbor needing bread to feed his friends (Luke 11:5-8) or that persistent widow asking for help (Luke 18:3-5), and we struggle within ourselves.

But God wants better from us. He wants us to be like himself who will quickly "bring about justice for his chosen ones who cry out to him day and night" (Luke 18:7-8).

"Do not withhold good from those who deserve it,
when it is in your power to act.
Do not say to your neighbor,
'Come back later; I'll give it tomorrow'--
when you now have it with you."
~Proverbs 3:27-28  

Treat others as you would have them treat you. In other words, "Don't make them beg!"

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hopelessly Devoted to You

Do you remember Olivia Newton John's popular song, Hopelessly Devoted to You (more recently recorded by Taylor Swift)? The song tells of a failed human love, and the chorus goes like this:

"But now there's nowhere to hide since you pushed my love aside
I'm out of my head hopelessly devoted to you."

Most, if not all of us, have experienced the heartbreak of a lost love. That's the bad news! The good news is that there's a love that will stay true to the end.

Jesus is hopelessly devoted to us! 

Sent by his father to redeem the world, he will not turn anyone away who comes to him in love--anyone who comes with a repentant heart. And, even when we mess up, he forgives and welcomes us back into his good and loving arms. For it's the kindness of God that leads to repentance.

Furthermore, there's nowhere to hide from his love.

"Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast."
~Psalm 139:7-10

If you've experienced the loss of fickle human love, there's no better news than the constancy of God's love for you.

Monday, May 3, 2010

To Everything There Is a Season

Every April the pink dogwoods in our front yard delight us with their prolific blooms! The whole process takes about a month--
barren branches develop hundreds of tight orbs
which gradually swell and open 
to reveal deep red blossoms 
that slowly fade to light pink 
before drifting lazily to the green lawn below.

This lavish display coincides with the flowering red and orange azaleas along the driveway! Our yard is a riot of color, testament to God's artistry. And then it is gone--leaving us to anticipate the annual event eleven months hence.

I love the seasons--from spring flowers to summer vegetables to autumn leaves. Even the drab gray of winter has its purpose. As the Scriptures say:

"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace."
~Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

There's an ebb and flow to life as we pass through the seasons. Are you struggling through a difficult season at the moment? Be assured, it will run its course. Your weeping will give way to laughter. 

"Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:5).