Tuesday, July 9, 2019
Ecclesiastes 3:1, "There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven."
I've heard this verse quoted so many times. Or, more commonly, shortened to just "to everything there is a season". People tell you to be satisfied and content in the season you're in.
But what if the season is one of pain?
What if the season is one of trial?
What if you would like nothing more than for that season to end?
Have you ever struggled with something where you felt as if the struggle would never end, would never cease? Have you ever gone through a time of waiting where you just wanted to something to begin?
It's hard, when you wish the season you are in would end. There are times when we are so passionate about God, there are times when we struggle in our faith, there are times when we are waiting, and there are times when we're going through trials.
But the thing is, we aren't guaranteed tomorrow. And we were never promised a life without suffering.
So what do you do when caught in a season you wish would end?
Philippians 4:11-12, "I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. I know both how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need."
Paul figured it out. He learned that he could be content anywhere as long as he had Christ, who strengthened him.
"When you've hit rock bottom you have no place to look but up."
I've also heard that quote quite a few times (I think I paraphrased it though). It's true. Often it's at the end of ourselves that we turn to Jesus.
Like I wrote in my last post, we may not always understand what He's doing, but we can always trust in Who He is.
Psalm 42:5, "Why, my soul, are you so dejected? Why are you in such turmoil? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise him, my Savior and my God."
Habakkuk 3:17-18, "Though the fig tree does not bud and there is no fruit on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though the flocks disappear from the pen and there are no herds in the stalls, yet I will celebrate in the Lord; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!"
Those are two of my favorite passages in scripture. Why? Because they both have the same theme: Both authors, while they didn't understand what was going on, they still praised God.
That is such an important reminder to me. I'm a realist, and often I can feel a bit dragged down by the things going on around me. I can struggle with hope and joy. But no matter what happens, I know that I can and should praise God.
The problems, the sin, the trials in our world today aren't a negative reflection of God, they are a reaction to the choice of mankind when we chose to sin.
So yes, even when we don't feel like it, even when we're struggling, even when the world is in chaos around us, even when we don't understand.... we can still praise God.
Tuesday, June 18, 2019
It was late. I was lying in bed, tired, but I couldn't fall asleep. I had to be up early for church the next morning, but my thoughts wouldn't leave me alone. I just wanted it to be morning. My mind wandered, as it often does on late nights, and I started thinking about God and His Word. A Bible verse came to mind and I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep without looking it up so I grabbed my Bible and turned on my lamp.
I was flipping through the Psalms trying to find it (I didn't bother googling it), but instead of finding that verse I came across another verse.
Psalm 38:15, "For I put my hope in You, Lord; You will answer me, my Lord, my God."
As I read that verse, something came to mind...
~ When I put my hope in Christ, my hope isn't in what He will do. My hope is in Who He is.
Then I came across another verse.
Psalm 43:4, "... Then I come to the altar of God, to God, my greatest joy..."
~ When God is my joy, my joy isn't in my circumstances around me. My joy is in God within me.
God will never let me down because He is the same forever. I may not always understand what He's doing, but I can always trust in Who He Is.
My joy and my hope aren't merely emotions based on the world around me, they are results of Who God is in me.
To be completely honest, I have always struggled with having joy and hope. I still do. But when I remember that joy and hope solely depends on Who God is, it's easier to have joy and hope. God doesn't change. His character is the same as it's always been and is as it always will be.
He is my hiding place (Psalm 32:7).
He is my comforter (Psalm 119:50).
He is my peace (John 14:27).
The list goes on and on. God doesn't change (Job 23:13). His character remains the same. When we learn about Who He is through His Word, we more clearly see Who He is in our lives.
Sometimes its hard to have joy, peace, and hope. But we have to remember that those things are found in Jesus and in Him alone. It doesn't depend on our circumstances, but on Who He is.
What are some of your favorite Bible verses about God's character/attributes? What are your thoughts on the subject? Any other thoughts?
Wednesday, June 5, 2019
If you're cutting a watermelon, you can't use a plastic knife. If you want to cool off, you can't pour a bucket of hot water on your head.
That just doesn't make sense. I know those things are really obvious, but don't we do similar things in our day to day lives?
We're in a war every second of our lives. It's a war that's been raging on for thousands of years. It's a war that we can't see, but that we're very much involved in. It's a war that God has already claimed the victory in.
Ephesians 6:10-12, "Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens."
If you're going out to war, you can't bring a toy gun. You can't go into this spiritual war without the right tools at your disposal. Just like you can't cut a watermelon with a plastic knife, you can't fend off the Enemy's attempts without the things God has given you.
Ephesians 6:17-18, "Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints."
Luke 22:46, "Why are you sleeping?" He asked them. "Get up and pray, so that you won't fall into temptation."
We weren't made to go out to battle on our own.
1 Samuel 17:47, "...and this whole assembly will know that it is not by sword or by spear that the Lord saves, for the battle is the Lord’s. He will hand you over to us."
I just finished 1 Samuel and one thing that is very clear through that book is that the battle is the Lord's. He fought for His people. He fought on behalf of His people.
God is with us. He's equipped us with everything we need. We have the armor of God ready for use (Ephesians 6:13-17). We have the Word of God as a sword, available at any time. And we can talk to God through prayer.
This isn't a battle we can win on our own.
You can't combat fear, insecurity, anxiety, and expect to win on your own.
It's only in Christ that we find victory.
I don't know what you're going through today. Fear, depression, anxiety, insecurity, friendship issues, loneliness, loss... There are so many things that the world throws our way. There are so many struggles we face daily. Take it to Jesus.
Satan will use every tactic and deception he can come up with. We need to know God's Word, we need to pray, and we need Jesus if we're going to fight this war.
There's a song I recently fell in love with called "Surrounded (Fight My Battles)" by Michael W. Smith. I've heard it many times, but recently it took on a new meaning for me. There's a video below if you want to listen to it.
Psalm 24:8, "Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle."
Tuesday, May 28, 2019
The young woman looked out the window pane. Raindrops sliding down the glass blurred her vision of the big city around her.
What am I doing here?
The question lingered in her mind as she made her way out of her apartment building. She had moved two years ago for her job, yet she still didn’t feel like she belonged there. She wasn’t sure what she was supposed to do.
I thought You wanted me here, Lord. How come I don’t feel like it? What am I supposed to do?
Rose opened her clear umbrella to cover her before stepping out of the shelter of the awning. She set out at a brisk pace down the sidewalk. The subway was available for her to take, but it wasn’t that long of a walk to her workplace so she opted for walking instead.
After pushing her brown hair out of her eyes and adjusting her glasses, she shifted the strap of her briefcase so it wouldn’t fall onto the wet ground below. She approached the crosswalk and stood beside a few other souls who decided to brave the rain as well. Besides two business men, a woman braving the rain for a morning run, and herself, there was a young woman who looked around her age, holding the hand of a little boy who looked to be around six. Rose smiled at the pair.
The little boy sneezed and the young woman with him looked worried.
“It’s okay,” His mother told him. “We’ll be there soon.”
“I’m cold.” He said. “And I’m wet. I don’t feel good.”
After a moment’s hesitation she turned their way again. “Hi. I couldn’t help but overhear. Would you like my umbrella? If he’s sick it might help so he doesn’t get as wet.”
The woman bit her lip, glancing from the little boy to Rose again. “Are you sure?”
Rose smiled, not regretting her decision in the least. “I’m positive. Here.” She handed over the umbrella to the pair. The woman held the umbrella over her and the little boy.
“Thank you so much. We just moved here and I was taking him to the doctor and got turned around and it started raining…” She trailed off. “You probably don’t care about that, sorry.”
“No, it’s fine. I’m glad I could help. Have a great day!”
“Thank you, you too.”
That said, Rose and the pair went their different ways. Rose was now getting soaking wet, but smiled as she continued walking in the cold rain.
This is why I’m here, she thought to herself. I’m here to show love.
That's a short story I wrote a while back. We're all in different places for different times, but one thing remains the same: We're here to show love. That may look different for some of us. Perhaps its starting a Bible study, or serving children in your church, or engaging your cashier in conversation. Or maybe it's giving up your umbrella :).
1 John 4:7, "Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God."