Friday, July 23, 2021

Perfect Power

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Perfect Power
Have you ever cried out to God for help? Do you know that His power is available to the weak, the strong not so much? You might say that makes no sense. It is power that counts. Not is God’s economy. The rich young ruler went away from God’s presence because he would not give up his love for gold, which is fleeting and can disappear in an instant.  I am studying a book by Robert Morgan, The Strength You Need, The Twelve Strength Passages in The Bible.  One of the most encouraging is Isaiah 40:31, Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but 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.” It tells us that we all grow weak. But if we hope or trust in the Lord, our strength will be renewed. We will even run and soar on wings like eagles.  Yes, God is powerful and I think the above photo taken by Douglas F. Frank, my cousin and landscape photographer, has captured a sense of God’s strength. It is not a destructive tornado, but more so a cloud formation built from powerful winds over the Badlands. It dominates the image like a mystical presence.

The Apostle Paul suffered from some sort of illness that the Bible does not disclose. He cried out to God three times in beseeching prayer, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Paul came to learn that it is God’s power we seek even in our weakness. God may want us to have some disability so that we will rely on Him not riches or position. The biblical character Nehemiah relied on God for his strength saying, “The joy of the Lord is my strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). He prayed and sought God’s guidance to help him with kings and enemies of diverse kinds. God delivers those who are meek or weak. The Beatitudes tell us that they will inherit the earth. God does not work like the world. “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak (Isaiah 40:29).

Don’t assume that you have no power. God hears your prayers and answers them, but in His timing and ways which are higher than ours.  The State of Israel is small yet God gives her power. They seek after God for strength. They are innovative and have more entrepreneurs that almost any country. They have a strong army, but nothing compared to their enemies. Yet they have overcome much greater foes often because they are “God’s chosen people.” Seek the Lord while He may be found

Friday, July 16, 2021

In His Presence

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In His Presence
Have you experienced the presence of God? Perhaps you have not thought about it. Perhaps you think of God only in terms of an impersonal and awesome monarch. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth” (Psalm 96:9). There are many Scripture verses describing God as almost unapproachable and scary.  Yet there are also many that talk about a God who is Spirit and personal, visiting us. He is “Immanuel,” God with us. This photo taken by Douglas F. Frank, my cousin and landscape photographer gives a sense of the presence of a great being. I am thinking or God not a spaceship here. 

Who or what is God for you, perhaps nothing. If you answered the later perhaps you are just not thinking or perceiving anything other than yourself. Romans 1:20 tells us, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-His eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” In the beginning God created heaven and earth and the 100s of millions of galaxies. The “Big Bang Theory” fits just fine with this. It was no accident if you don’t consider yourself God. I believe those who contend to be Atheists just worship themselves and have missed the very presence and power of God for them.

King David in Psalm 139 writes that there is nowhere that we can go from the presence of God, in darkness and light, to the ends of the earth He is there. Psalm 18 is a little awesome speaking of the earth trembling and the mountains quaking at His voice, as He soared on the wings of the wind. I love the eternal thoughts of Psalm 16:11 saying, “In His presence is fullness of joy, and at His right hand pleasures forever more.”  Descriptions of joy in His presence take some of the fearsomeness of God away.

I write a lot and usually from a perspective of nature and creations beauty. I love to see the soaring Rocky Mountains of Montana and Red Woods and Pacific Ocean in California. As I write, I can hear the dawn filling with Cardinals and Robins, migrating geese and cranes. As I write I can hear the thunder of the waterfalls and roaring of the waves on the Lake Michigan shores. Writer, Pastor and Author, Chuck Swindoll has penned many books. My favorite is his shortest, Intimacy with The Almighty. This little book speaks of finding God in Silence, Solitude, Simplicity and Serenity. As humans we live in a world full of sirens, horns, planes and trains. People yell and fuss with voices and devices. But God whispers like He did on the mountain for Elijah the Prophet in 1 Kings 19:12, “After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”  We need to slow our pace and listen for God. In the still of the night He speaks. He comes to us through prayer, His word the Bible, through other godly people and circumstances.

God speaks through His Holy Spirit, who is the third person of the Trinity. In John 14:20 Jesus says, “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you” Before that Jesus says we need to abide, dwell, remain in Him and Him in us, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me(John 15:5). You see, God has not left us as orphans; He has sent His Holy Spirit, a person. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:16-18). What an incredibly beautiful truth from Scripture and Jesus Himself saying that God will be with you and live in you by His Holy Spirit. He is the Counselor, Comforter, Convincer and Convictor. He is the One who guides and illuminates His word and our paths if we will let Him. Is this mystical, perhaps? But I believe it is true because I have experienced His presence many times.

I have experienced the Holy Spirit lifting me off the basement floor in a long embrace when I was praying for the love of the father that I never received as a child. I have experienced His healing power over depression while leading a church in disarray. His warm healing balm came over me in worship, bringing peace, clarity and joy. An even greater healing when doctors had told me that I was dying from some unknown blood born virus or cancer overwhelmed me. While I prayed aloud Psalm 103, praising the God who forgives all our sins and heals all our diseases, the warm oil of His healing wrapped me from head to foot bringing instant and complete healing. Yes, in His presence is fullness of joy.

Do you know Him? Have you put down your worries and work and contemplated the presence of the Lord God Almighty wherever you go? I suggest reading the devotional by Sarah Young, Jesus Calling: Peace in His Presence. Each daily devotion speaks of God’s presence with you always. God promised, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you(Hebrews 13:5). I included the first thought about money because many tend to worry or even be obsessed with money. Any obsession or interest that is above or more important than God will block Him out. Did you know that un-confessed sin in your life will cause your prayers not to be answered as Psalm 66:18 tells us?

We all worry or find ourselves in difficult circumstances that cause us to lose track of God. But He says through Isaiah the Prophet, ‘“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God”’ (Isaiah 43:1-2). There are some 7,500 promises of God in the Bible. Some are conditional, requiring our actions such as Proverbs 3:5-6, “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.” God is guiding and leading us if we will trust Him to do so.

God is real and has made us in His image and likeness because He loves us and wants a personal relationship with us.  Ask Him and He will come into your heart and you will know that He is God.




Friday, July 9, 2021

Groanings


Groanings
Have you ever cried out to God in anguish? This photo by my cousin Douglas F. Frank from the Oregon coast resembles a creature crying out, like a howling dog. Our dog Misty used to lift her head up and howl at fire engines running by the house. Beyond an instinctual baying, I think this can be in us as grief or deep pain being expressed.
“My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?” (Psalm 6:3). This is David crying out with all he was to God for relief from his enemies. As he has cried out for an answer in Psalm 6, He is continuing his lament in Psalm 4 saying, “Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.” It is numbered with his penitential psalms, bold and unremitting, seeking relief as he wrestles with God. “Turn an, O Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love” (Psalm 6:4).  He knows that God is loving and powerful, yet, “I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak because of my foes” (vs. 6-7). What a wrenching and painful, grief stricken and groaning sorrow.

This is real grief in the throws of its overwhelming pain. It overcomes body, mind and spirit. “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long” (Psalm 32:3). David grieved his sins and the anguish it caused him. There were consequences to sin, especially when un-confessed as his were for a year. Jeremiah groaned that his enemies wore heavily on him without requiting.  Paul tells readers, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies ” (Romans 8:22-23). We as Christians are groaning for Christ to return to redeem us from this dark and cruel world.


“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26). This is wonderful news that we have a God whose Spirit is bringing our pain and grief to God’s throne. He cares and intercedes for us that we might receive help and refuge in times of trouble as Psalm 46 tells us.  He hears and responds to our cries. “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). Our God is always present and comforting His people, so take your anxieties to Him because He cares for you.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Chariots of Fire


In the 1981 movie, Chariots of Fire, 1924 Olympic runner Eric Liddell said,
I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure."  He was a committed Christian who put the Lord above running on Sunday and winning a medal. He died a martyr in China in 1952. Have you ever felt the favor and pleasure of the Lord with you?  God made you a certain way in which you are unique that your divine gifts might glorify Him in heaven and give you distinction in Him. Now that is heady stuff. Yet we have a Creator God who has made heaven and earth and created us in His image and likeness. He has gifted us each with spiritual gifts to edify the church and be used for His kingdom. That is our charge and He equips us for it.

I do not have the physical gifts or courage of an Eric Liddell, but I do have gifts that have become more and more apparent to me through the Holy Spirit, other godly people and circumstances. He has gifted me with a desire to write and speak the “Good News” to others for encouragement and comfort. “But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort” (1Corinthians 14:3). I did not know that I could write and in fact when I wrote my Masters thesis in healthcare administration, I abhorred the mighty task. However, God in His grace brought a writing teacher into my life to demonstrate how to express myself more clearly and succinctly. It would be many years later that I would begin to write again while convalescing from hip surgery. The book that arose from my pain was from the psalms, Great is God’s Faithfulness. A chaplain friend from my hospital ministry told me, “do something useful with your time.” Her prophetic words brought life to a dead gift from God that He wanted used. That is how He works, sometimes mysteriously.

“Praise the Lord, my soul. Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind” (Psalm 104:1-3).

“He mounted the cherubim and flew; He soared on the wings of the wind” (Psalm 18:10).

The above passages from the Psalms remind us of His glory and splendor. The image is of His riding on the wings of the wind and bringing His strength and glory. Elisha the Prophet when under assault by the Arameans in 2 Kings 6:16 said to his fearful servant, “’Don’t be afraid,’” the prophet answered, “’Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”’ And Elisha prayed, “”O Lord open his eyes so he may see.”’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” These visions were the heavenly hosts surrounding and protecting them from the enemy. These are the chariots that propelled Eric Liddell and will us if we trust in Him to provide the way.

I don’t know about you, but I am encouraged when I read of God’s powerful presence to defend and empower. He has gifted all believers and wants us to trust and move as we are called. As a hospital chaplain I am primarily an encourager and comforter for people in crisis. I believe God has specially given me a gift of spiritual healing for people in doubt or despair as well. I see God bringing His “chariots of fire” frequently into the hospital rooms to fill the atmosphere with His heavenly host and promises of healing.


My daily writing today is filled with a sense of hope; even tough my four books are not best sellers. But my blog, www.greatisgodsfaithfulness.com.  goes out around the world with many readers in Ukraine, Russia, and Israel and of course North America. I don’t know how people are translating it from English if they are. I just pray and seek to use the gifts that He has gifted me in reaching the world for Christ.