Friday, October 31, 2014

Waiting on The Lord

Have you been waiting for God to work, act, guide, lead? I think we all have been in waiting modes often. Perhaps the most frequently quoted scripture on waiting is Isaiah 40:31 “Those that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with winds like eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint.” The previous verse tells us that God gives power to the weak and that we all get tired, but those who wait on the Lord have a promise, one of almost 7500 Biblical promises that if we wait we will have our strength renewed.  What else does God promise for waiting? The Psalms have much counsel on waiting. Starting with Ps 5:3,12 as “in the morning we lay our requests before you and wait in expectation…you surround them with your favor as with a shield.”  Psalm 37:7,34 says, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…wait for the Lord and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land.” Similarly Psalm 40:1 says, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a new song in my mouth.” What a promise as we wait. He wants to deliver us from evil and bring us to safety. In my book, Great is God’s Faithfulness I have images of huge rocks that represent the Lord and his unmovable presence.

How do we wait? The Psalmist in 130 tells us, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than a watchman waits for the morning.” As we put our hope and wait actively for the morning or our deliverance, we receive it.  Isaiah 31:8 tells us that we are blessed if we wait. The disciples waited in the upper room for Jesus’ promised gift of the Holy Spirit to empower them. We are waiting for the blessed hope of our faith, the return of Christ.  His timing and ways are not ours, so we need patience to wait.

I have waited for healing, for prodigal sons to return home, for work and many other things. I suspect you have too. Keep waiting for he who promises is faithful. He will make all things full and ripe in due

Friday, October 24, 2014

God is Light

“God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.” (1John 1:5). I have been thinking and meditating on this truth a lot lately. There is darkness in this world; just think of the Ebola crisis, the economic crises, the terrorist movement in the Middle East. Should I go on. No, I don’t need to for God said that there will always be famine and pain and death and darkness. Wow, that’s a negative view of life.  No it’s life as God has revealed and prophesied. In Genesis there was famine and Jesus said in Matthew 24:7, “for nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” Is this sad or good news?  Jesus tells the disciples this and then says, “And then the end will come.”  He is referring to His return and reign over all the earth. Hallelujah.

I often say that I think that we are on the last lap around the track like the runners on a marathon run. Yes, we still are running the race, but the end is near. The last prophetic event is the Rapture. What is that? It is Christ coming for his people, believers, the remnant whom he will save. In 1 Thessalonians 4 he tells us that with the blast of a trumpet he will come in the clouds and take us with him to be with him in heaven. This is good news for believers, but not to the “left behind” for they will undergo the Tribulation, which comes next.

So, I seek the light in all things as God is in all things. In fact, in heaven and the new heaven and earth there will be no need for light, for he, The Christ will be the light. So, what do we do? “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7).  Walk in the light, His light, which is love. For perfect love castes out all fear.  Receive Christ as your Lord and Savior and walk in the Light of the World.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Pain Produces Peace

David cried out of his enemies success “My heart is severely pained within me.” Psalm 55:4.  We often cry out in emotional pain when things are not going our way or seem unfair. Can I get a witness?  It is a common theme of scripture, particularly the Psalms. Asaph cried out at the ways of the wicked and their abundance as did David saying in Psalm 73:16, “When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me-.”  Why live a life of faithfulness and purity when it seems that those who don’t- win? Good question.

Emotional pain is hard and even more difficult than physical pain at times. In fact, as I write this morning, I am convalescing from hernia surgery. The physical pain has been more than advertised. My surgeon said before the procedure that I would be able to head to the gym afterwards and work out, “whatever pain you can bear.” Ah, there was the key, the pain was great and more than I could bear without pain medications. It reminded me of pains from another surgery on my hip some seven years ago that caused me to write my book, Great is God’s Faithfulness. It also reminded me of the mental and emotional anguish I wrote about a few weeks ago in this blog entitled, “Hardship.”  Which is greater? I think that all pain can be profound and distressing, even to levels of despair. The psalmist in Ps 116 writes “ The pains of death surrounded me and pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow.” (vv:3-4).  I took the photo below in New Orleans 9th Ward shortly after Hurricane Katrina had blown through, devastating property and lives. But God has been faithful. I then found victims of the storm, clinging to God's promises and now know that many have rebuilt.

What then or now when you are suffering, in pain? Do we give in and die? Has God abandoned us? The Psalmist continues, “Then I called upon the name of the Lord; “O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul! Gracious is the Lord, and righteous. Yes, our Lord is merciful. The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low and he saved me. Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you…He has delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living…Praise the Lord!”  This is an exuberant thanksgiving for deliverance from death by enemies within and without. Pain Produces Peace through the power of the Holy Spirit. "He will keep in perfect peace whose mind is steadfast."(Is 26:3).

Yes, the Lord preserves the faithful (Psalm 31:23). He tells us throughout Scripture that when we come into trials or suffering of all kinds that we are to seek Him for wisdom and strength to overcome the darkness of pain. We should even thank him in and for the pain; for he occupies and pain and praises of his people. He will guide us through the valleys of the shadow of death so we should not fear. He protects and delivers.  So today if you are in pain and don’t know where to turn, turn to the Lord, cry out and He will hear you and save you and bring you PEACE. Praise the Lord!!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Streams in the Desert

“Streams in the Desert, my favorite devotional by Christian Missionary L.B. Cowman, deals with life’s incredible journey through stories bringing alive the truth of the Scripture.  It deals with difficult times with life when, “Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.” Isaiah 35:6.

Life brings highs and lows with darkness and light. But through them all, God is our source of supply. In him springs and water falls will never stop or run dry.  For many life brings anxiety where we need God’s gracious promises that He will be our source of compassion that will never fail us. Isaiah 43 reminds us that “When we pass through the waters, I will be with you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flames scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

You can not always see what the trials and troubles in life are accomplishing; we can only trust. Draw near to me and I will draw near to you He tells us in James 4.

The hymnist or psalmist in Ps 61:2 sings, “Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.”

Recently, in my chaplaincy work in hospitals I have heard many claim that ‘God won’t give me more than I can handle.’  I believe that that is a conditional promise. 1Cor 10:13 says, “No temptation or trial comes to you that is not common to man, but God is faithful, and when you are tempted, he will also provide a way of escape or out so you can stand up under it or bear it.”  Yes, I believe we can bear it, but only with God’s help. There are many trials we cannot handle on our own. I am amazed at the bravado of many who say they can handle it. I don’t want to say that ever again. As Proverbs 3:4-6 we minds us, ‘trust  in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths (make your ways straight or smooth).’ 
I believe that this is true if we trust in him alone.

My challenges in life have often been met by my escaping on my terms and ways. This has not turned out well. Bad habits have accompanied this behavior often. I have not always waited, submitted and obeyed God, until he has released me from a job. This I believe has cost me to not gain the blessings God wanted, even in tough circumstances.  Even though I am no longer a hospital CEO, I believe after many trails, that God has changed me to be able to move from the front office to bedside. Perhaps remuneration is much less, but rewards have been much greater in the satisfaction of helping others deal with difficulties.

Are you in a difficult circumstance? Ask God for wisdom and stay the course.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Grumbling and Complaining

For years I grumbled and complained about most everything, especially people at work and circumstances. It did not make me happier, in fact it made me less happy. I didn’t get anything off my mind; I just dirtied it up more. Also, my family had to hear me and darkness instead of light. It is a bad habit.

Finally, my wife confronted me indicating that it had to go or she would. Grumbling, complaining and murmuring are a sinful habit, one that God abhors and has and will punish because it reflects on His creation badly. So I reminded myself recently about God’s thoughts on it.

In the Old Testament we are reminded in the book of Numbers of the Israelites leaving their exile in Egypt and time in the “desert” where they complained and grumbled to Moses about the circumstances. They complained about food and water and dust and everything. God is slow to anger and full of love, but he lost it with them. In fact in Numbers 14 we read that God caused ALL Israelites 20 years and older to die in the desert. He started over again, similarly to Noah’s time in the ark.

Paul reminds us in the New Testament, “And do not grumble as some of them did.” (1 Corinthians 10:10).  James 5:9 say, “Don’t grumble against each other.” You will be judged.  The Apostle John said, “Stop grumbling among yourselves.” (John 6:43). “God wants us to offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (1 Peter 4:9). In Philippians 2:14 he challenges us to do everything without complaining or arguing.  Yes, this is God’s standard and desire for us in or to walk in his way and will and to be pleasing to him and one another.

So challenge yourself to look for the good or light in each situation.