Tag: hardship

Dec 5 Peace in the storm

“[My] help is in the Name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Jesus calms sea

Father, You are the help I turn to when things are not going well.   You are the help I acknowledge when things are going right.   I love the old hymn:

“O God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our shelter in the stormy blast and our eternal home.”

You are my place of shelter and of rest.  I live on the earth now, and You shelter me.  One day I will have rest in my eternal home with You.

Like David does in this Psalm, I can look back over my life and see times when I was guarded and protected by Your hand.

I can say with David: “if You had not been on [my] side when people attacked [me], they would have swallowed [me] alive when their anger flared against [me]; the flood would have engulfed [me], the torrent would have swept over me, the raging waters would have swept [me] away.” 

I have faced circumstances I thought would do me in.  Times when I could see no way out to be at peace again.

Some were physical challenges or health issues with myself or loved ones.   Some were situations at work or with relationships I thought could never be reconciled.

Some were simple hardships like times of being out of work, or the basement flooding.  At times it actually felt like turbulent, raging waters pulling me down, away from my ability to cope.

But Father, You have shown up to give me hope when the world offered no hope.  You would often sing me a new song along with scripture to help me sense Your presence and be encouraged.  One such song’s chorus goes:

You calm me down, You give me peace

You make this battle inside of me cease

You give me hope to carry on

when all the hope the world can give is gone

Thank You that You are my hope, my help.  Thank You that John reminds me that You have given me eternal life.  Let me remember to focus on that when challenges come.

He reminds me that I can have confidence in approaching You: that “if I ask anything according to Your will, You hear me.”

Father, help me see and know Your will.  Align my desires with Your will.  So that when difficulties come, and they will, I will be able to ask for Your perfect will to be done, knowing that even if I have to walk through hardship, You will be my help.  Amen

Psalm 124:1-8; I John 5:13- 15

Advertisements

Nov 25 Live in the light like Daniel

joshua-earle-252222

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are Yours.  You change times and seasons;  You depose kings and raise up others.  You give wisdom to the wise   and knowledge to the discerning.  You reveal deep and hidden things; You know what lies in darkness,  and light dwells with You.  I thank and praise You…”  

Father, these words of Daniel’s are just as true today.  We still praise You!

After all these years of season after season, You are still the One who keeps the world in order.  And after generations of kings, You are still the One who holds their hearts and all power in Your hand.

All wisdom and knowledge are Yours.  Hundreds of years of human advancements and scientific discovery and technology, haven’t even scratched the surface when it comes to understanding this amazing universe You created!

Father, Daniel held tightly to his beliefs about You and his convictions about how to live a godly life.  And he did so in the midst of being kidnapped and taken a thousand miles away from home and family.  As a young man it would have been so easy for him to simply go along with whatever his captors pushed on him.  But even far away from family and the worship he knew, he knew that You were with him.

At that time, people worshipped pagan gods who they believed had power and influence over a specific thing like rainfall, crops, fertility or a particular place.   But Daniel knew You were the One True God over all these things.  And that no matter where he was, You were there.

“Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel.”

And You were faithful to Daniel.   You allowed him to be faithful to the ways he had been taught and gave him success.  In addition to this, You gave Daniel and his four friends wisdom and understanding far beyond that of all others.

Father, help me be like Daniel.  Strengthen me to live the way You have taught me, and not give in to the pressures of whatever society offers.  Let me stand out so others will see that I live differently from the pagan ways of my culture.

Let the light that dwells in You, shine through me.  Amen

Daniel 1:1-2:23

Oct 28 Joy in the midst

h-40pu5qr8a-david-marcu

“Shout for joy…

Worship with gladness…

Come before Him with joyful songs…

Enter …with thanksgiving”

 

Psalm 100 says this is how I am to approach You, Father.  And some days it is easy.  When the weather is good, my home is clean and in repair, when my family is healthy and getting along, when there are no disasters in the news, or storms, or shootings.

But other days, I am so affected by negative things, that it is hard to muster glad and joyful worship.  It is more likely I sit and pour my heart out to You.

There are days when everywhere I look in my home, I see only piles of stuff that need sorting or cleaning or some kind of attention I don’t have the energy for.  And when the plumbing backs up or the fence blows down, or critters take up residence in the chimney, it creates stress and worry about the time and money and energy it will take to fix things.

When my children have some unidentified blood disease, or their appendix ruptures with complications, or they become depressed and unmotivated, or rebel against the way they were raised, I feel such a sense of loss and helplessness.  When I visit with my friends and hear how they are coping (or not) with disabled children, or cancer, or divorce, or unrelenting disease and death, I am overwhelmed by my own inability to help.

When I turn on the tv and hear of destruction by natural disasters: floods, storms, earthquakes; or see evidence of man’s inhumanity towards man in attacks of arson, terrorism or murder, my heart is hardly filled with joy and thanks.

But within each of these, if I change my focus, I can see opportunities for You to be at work.

Because I know that “You are good and Your love endures forever” I can rejoice in that.   I rejoice that You are my God!  That I can call on You and You will answer me in whatever circumstances I find myself or the world in!

I thank You that You have given me friends.  And that I can pray with them and for them.  I praise You that there are no circumstances that You are overwhelmed by.  Thank You that You can give perspective and wisdom and healing to those who need it.

Thank You that You can turn a prodigal’s heart to You and bring them home.  Thank You that You can reach around the world, where I cannot, to bring healing and help.

I praise You that Your power supersedes any other.  And that Your faithfulness allows me to have hope that whatever the circumstances, I can choose to focus on You.  I can still worship with gladness and have joy!  Amen

Psalm 100:1-5

Oct 23 Waiting – hardest thing to do

pause-for-a-moment-393837_640O Father.  Have I been like these people?

It seems they were truly seeking Your will, and promised to do whatever Jeremiah revealed as Your will.

But when ten days went by, they had already evaluated their options and come to a decision they thought was best for them.  It seems once they had made up their minds, there was no room for Your Word to be heard.

I wonder if there have been times when I came to You, pouring out my heart because I was so desperate and didn’t know what to do.  Then, while waiting for Your response, I looked around for myself and became convinced of my best option.

Father, when faced with hardship and stress, would You help me be patient until I hear an answer from You.   Waiting can be very hard even in the best of situations.  But when there is pressure to make a decision, or harm may occur without action, waiting can be unbearable.  Help me bear it.

I’ve had people tell me “God can’t steer a parked car.”  They are encouraging me to get started in some direction, saying You will guide me once I commit to go.  But sometimes that is not wise advice.  I can become so committed to the direction I choose, that I refuse to course correct later.

While waiting, help me stay so close to You, that I recognize Your voice.  When I do hear from You, reassure me it is truly Your Word.  Even if it goes against what I might have thought, help me know without a doubt, that what I’ve heard is from You.

And Father, empower me to be obedient.  Don’t let me be defensive of any plan I have come up with myself, or think I know something You don’t.  Time and time again, You have shown me that Your answers are far more creative, far more successful and far more wise than any I have ever thought up.

The Israelites decided rather than stay in hardship one more day, they should go the way that seemed to benefit them.  Father, if there comes a time when I must remain in a hard place, or endure Your correction, strengthen me to be able to do that.   Even though it may seem I’m in the frying pan, I trust in Your wisdom, in Your perspective, and in Your perfect plan to keep me out of the fire.

That I have faith in You to direct my life is easy to say when the times are good.  Father, strengthen and prepare me to be able to live out my faith, even when the times are not.  Amen

Jeremiah 42:1-43:7

Oct 16 Trust God’s plan

Vintage country

 

 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 

 

 

These wonderful words of life and promise and hope that so many believers have claimed as personal encouragement were given first to a specific group of Your people who had rejected You.  They endured hardship by being forcibly removed from their homes and land.  They had been seized by a military force and taken to a foreign country to live as captives.

I cannot even imagine the trauma of being relocated like that.  I would imagine escape back home would have been considered.  Or revolt.  Some attempt to regain freedom.

But even if escape were possible, home was a thousand miles away!  And now comes this letter from Jeremiah to say “Accept captivity!  Settle down!  Live in the new land.  Pray for your new home!  For seventy years!”

That must have seemed just the opposite of what they wanted to do.  And the harsh word that this was Your doing must have been confusing and hurtful.  But then, in the same breath, comes Your promise to them. “When seventy years are completed in Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill My good promise to bring you back to this place.”

Father, I know I sometimes wonder if where I am is really the place You want me to be.  I trust the plans You have for me.  Even if it means I have to wait on Your timing.  But please don’t let it take seventy years, Lord!

The Israelites must have looked at their circumstances and doubted whether it could really be Your will.  Father, sometimes things don’t look too good to me either.  And I wonder how You will work things out for my good.  But I totally trust that You will.   I completely rely on Your faithfulness.

Father, open my eyes to the truth of where I am right now.

If I have gotten myself off Your path, show me how to return to it.  If I am where You want me to be, help me hear your voice of encouragement.  Help me feel Your presence here with me.  And if waiting is involved, help me wait patiently, prayerfully, praise-fully, and productively.

Show me those plans as I need to see them.  My hope and my future are in You.  Amen

Jeremiah 29:1-14

 

Oct 12 Rejoice and Pray

sunset-1012477_640

Father, two of today’s verses have saved me when I needed to recite Bible verses as a child.  As far as I know, they are two of only three verses that contain only two words.  I Thessalonians 5:16 “Rejoice always” and 5:17 “Pray continually”.  Because they contain only two words, making them easy to memorize and remember, and are so straightforward and to the point; I’ve always considered them important.

I loved English in school, and learned that when no subject is present, like these verses, the subject “you” is understood.  So whomever the speaker is speaking to is commanded to do the verb that follows.

A command is stronger than a simple statement.  When given by someone with authority it means to obey immediately, without further thought or discussion.  In these cases, I am to “rejoice” and “pray”.

Rejoice means to feel or show great joy or delight.  It is the opposite of showing sadness.   It is not whining or complaining.  It is not arguing or showing anger.  It doesn’t mean I can never have a negative emotion or express my feelings. But I should be watching for things to be joyful about, and then let others see why I am joyful.

people-850097_640Pray, very simply, means to talk to You.

The adverbs that follow each verb tell me how to do the action the verb specifies.  So when it comes to “rejoice”, the word is “always”.  In other words, or in the same words, in “all ways”, in all things, in all circumstances, look for the joy.

And the adverb for “pray” is “continually”, meaning “all the time, repeated frequently, constantly, without interruption.”

So, at all times, in all situations, in all things, I should strive to show my joy and be in communication with You.  Along with “give thanks in all circumstances”, “this is God’s will for you”, these directives tell me it is Your desire to hear from me.  And to hear my gratefulness.

Paul said these words to believers who were enduring hardship and persecution.  How much more should I be able to find things in my easy, twenty-first century life of freedom to be thankful and joyful about?

These are convicting Words, Father.  Words of instruction and encouragement!  Thank You for making them so easy to remember!  Amen

I Thessalonians 5:16-17 

Oct 11 A tree planted by the water

bank-250252_640

This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.  

That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes… 

 

new-jersey-77916_640

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. 

They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.’”

Father, what a clear picture comparing those who trust in You and those who do not.  I have lived in the desert.  I have seen bushes living in the wasteland.  They do not grow tall.  They don’t look healthy.  They barely look alive.  And they don’t last long.   And I have seen tall, lush, full, green, long-lived trees that grow by the water.  What a contrast!

Lord, let me be the tree planted by Your water!  When planting, one plans the location based on the needs of the tree.  Its roots grow quickly in the direction of the water.

Because of this, the tree is saturated with the moisture it needs to withstand periods of even extreme heat and drought.  There is enough to sustain green leaves that gather the sunlight to store as energy.  There is always sufficient energy and life in this tree to produce fruit in season.

I desire this blessing, so I will turn away from trusting in man’s philosophies and knowledge.  I will not count on my own strength to accomplish what the world would lead me to do.  But I will turn to You for guidance.  I will trust in Your wisdom, Your strength, and Your purpose for my life.

As You are the Living Water, I drink deeply of Your love, Your truth, and Your provision for me.  My roots are my faith, which is solidly grounded in the truth of who You are; and my identity which comes from You.  So when heat comes as hardship and trials, it is You who sustains me and Your power that produces fruit in me.

Even now, Lord, I seek direction on issues I face.  Please speak to me and give me Your perspective and insight.  And make me bold to act on what You say.  I place my confidence in You.

And this is the confidence that I have: not that things will always turn out well, but that regardless of how they turn out, You will be there with me, and use it for good.

Father, You are the One I praise.  You are the One I serve.  You are the One I worship.  You are my Hope and my Healer, my Savior and my Strength, my Fortress, my Refuge and my Reward.  And I am blessed.  Amen

Jeremiah 17:5-8

Oct 9 Evidence of belief

hammer-802296_640Father, Jeremiah saw wicked people prospering and called for their demise.  You answered saying their end was coming.

I see much the same today.  People who have denied You and live their lives for fame, power or profit are indeed prospering.

My society elevates them rather than calling for righteousness.  And every day the time approaches when You will uproot and destroy them.

So how do I choose to live in these times?  I will remember that You have chosen me.  You have set me apart.  So I will not seek the things society promotes.  But will seek to be like the believers at the church at Thessalonica.  Paul said of them: “Your faith has become known everywhere”.   Father, let me live a life that these words will be true of me also.

Many years ago, a Sunday School teacher was telling about believers who were being persecuted in another country.  And she asked, ‘If you were on trial today, would there be enough evidence to convict you of being a Christian?’  That really stuck with me.  Help me live in a way that my faith in You is evident without a doubt.

Like the Thessalonians, let me also show “[my] work produced by faith, [my] labor prompted by love, and [my] endurance inspired by hope in [my] Lord Jesus Christ.”  Show me how to work alongside You, not just look for anything I can do to stay busy.  Let me see where You are working, and join You in a faithful labor of love.   Let my hope in You inspire and hearten me to continue in whatever task You show me.

The Thessalonians were inspired to endure hardship and trials by the hope that You would return to earth soon.  I too am encouraged to be steady in my faith, believing that the time is nearing when You will return to earth, bringing eternal rewards.  Thank You that Your Word is true.  Thank You that Your justice is right.  And that in Your Sovereignty and Authority, You are righteous!  Amen

Jeremiah 12:1-17, I Thessalonians 1-2:8

Aug 30 hard pressed, but not…

Father, Paul made this statement about his circumstances and the difficulties he had been through: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed”  And it seems this is true for me and most other believers as well.

Just because my life belongs to You doesn’t mean it will be all sunshine and lollipops. Because I live in a fallen world, and because there is an evil one, and even because I am flesh, there are opportunities for and occurrences of hardship. Some caused by my own mistakes and sin.

onestalkgladiola

And although I face challenges, temptations and trials, You have assured me You are always with me, and You will make a way for me.

It reminds me of a piece of framed art I saw once with the words of a poem by an unknown author. The beauty and the security of the promise in the poem struck me.

God has not promised skies always blue,
Flower strewn pathways all our lives through.
God has not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God has promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.

Father, when I am hard-pressed, make me stronger. When perplexed, light my way with Your truth. When I am persecuted or struck down, raise me up in Your strength. Let all these things in my life bring You glory.

Thank You for Your grace and help. Thank You that You never leave me. That You will always love me. And that I will always be Yours. Amen

II Corinthians 4:8-9

May 19 not my first thought…

abigail-icons-of-the-bible

Lord, make me wise like Abigail. When a word was brought to her of disaster hanging over her household, she acted quickly, boldly and with diplomacy.

Quickly, before those set on her destruction could reach her, she sent gifts of food and drink to them.

Boldly, without seeking her husband’s approval or permission, her plan was enacted.

Diplomatically, she bowed before David, took responsibility and asked him to spare himself from burdening his conscience with needless bloodshed. All the while she praised his conquests and acknowledged his godly honor.

Here are the things I can think of that she could have done. She could have sat down and wept, bemoaning that fact that they would all be destroyed soon. Her pity party would have been well deserved, after all, it was her husband that caused the calamity, not her; she was just the victim here.

She could have gone to her husband with a belittling tirade of accusations and complaining, insisting he get up and do something about it. Or demanded he fight David to defend them all.

She could have met David with a ‘nobody asked you to protect our shepherds’ attitude. Or argued that legally there had been no contractual agreement.

Or she could have packed her things and left her husband to be killed, running to safety, only to return when it was all over. She had lots of options!

My thoughts are not as wise or as noble as Abigail’s. Thank You Father for this example of someone who did not act out of helplessness, or fear, or anger, or self-righteousness, or any other of the characteristics I tend to go to when up against a wall.

Help me remember Abigail’s quickness, and boldness, and diplomacy the next time I am facing a hardship. I think she must have heard from You. Keep my spiritual ears open so I may too. Amen

I Samuel 25:1-44

Mar 13 Egypt or Wilderness?

direction-1033278_640The Israelites. For several hundred years they had not been in charge of their fate and lived as slaves. They never really had the freedom to choose what to do, where to go, or what to eat. And had no time to worship You, or even think about what their future might hold. All they knew: slavery = more of the same.

And while their freedoms had been stripped away, there was a stability and security in what they had. Barring illness or disobedience, they were provided for, albeit to keep them in working condition for the Pharaoh.

So in this newfound freedom after leaving Egypt, when problems rose, like no food or water for two million people, it was a big deal. And they were not prepared to cope. Those things had been provided for them before. And even though their labor had been hard and bitter, it was at least predictable. So during these times, it was so easy for one of them to look back to when there was a bit of security and minimal provision; and convince others that what was behind them was preferable to the unknown ahead.

Lord, how many times have I preferred the predictable to the unfamiliar? It takes courage to step out in a new direction, to get up off the couch of complacency.

I go back and forth between disbelief at how the Israelites rebelled against You even in the presence of the observable and awesome miracles; and being able to understand where they were coming from.

Father I pray You would help me be courageous in accepting what comes from Your hand. If it requires change on my part, let me be willing to take the necessary steps without whining and complaining. Remind me of the times in the past when You have rescued, delivered and supported me through difficulties and challenges. Let those memories add to my faith and increase my trust in You.

And I will say, “whenever I am afraid I will trust in You” and “walk before You in the light of life”. Amen

Numbers 20:1-13; Psalm 56:3,13

Jan 19 Make my life a stage

redcurtain-stage

Dear Lord, I want to be just like Joseph. Only without all the hardship.

I don’t want to lose my freedom and be sold into slavery. And I definitely don’t want to be imprisoned. I don’t want a family that is jealous of me and treats me with murderous hate. But in two very significant ways, I do want to be just like him.

First, that You were with Joseph, and second, that others saw that You were.

Genesis says “the Lord was with Joseph…and his master saw that the Lord was with him.” Your presence in Joseph’s life must be what enabled him to endure such hardships as enslavement and imprisonment. And it was not only an internal sense that Joseph had personally, but it was evident to others around him that that Your blessing was on him, and that You were at work in and touching his life

I already know that You are with me always, because I have the Holy Spirit living in me; given as a seal of my salvation. There has been a merging: You are in me and I am in You through Jesus Christ. But I also know that I can feel far from You when I am walking in disobedience or sin.

Help me see through whatever lie, deception or distraction might cause me to miss where a temptation would lead, so I can turn away from it before I am enticed into sin. Show me the way of escape so I can avoid the sin trap. That way I can be fully in Your presence and will be able to bear up under whatever the circumstances are, like Joseph did.

And Lord, like Joseph, I desire that my life would be a stage upon which You act out Your purpose and Your will, so others will see You. Jesus told a parable about seed that fell on different kinds of soil. I want to be the good soil that produces a crop yielding thirty or sixty or a hundred times what was sown. That way people will see what is produced and give You glory.

I may never have a prophetic dream, or give the interpretation of one, or save my entire family from famine like Joseph did. But I ask that whatever You have planted in me, You would bring to fruition so others would see You, through me. I ask in Your name. Amen

Genesis 39:1-23; Matthew 13:1-23; I Corinthians 10:13

Oct 28 Joy in the midst

“Shout for joy…Worship with gladness…Come before Him with joyful songs…Enter …with thanksgiving.”

h-40pu5qr8a-david-marcu.jpg

Psalm 100 says this is how I am to approach You, Father. And some days it is easy. When the weather is good, my home is clean and in repair, when my family is healthy and getting along, when there are no disasters in the news, or storms, or shootings. But other days, I am so affected by negative things, that it is hard to muster glad and joyful worship. It is more likely I sit and pour my heart out to You.

There are days when everywhere I look in my home, I see only piles of stuff that need sorting or cleaning or some kind of attention I don’t have the energy for. And when the plumbing backs up or the fence blows down, or critters take up residence in the chimney, it creates stress and worry about the time and money and energy it will take to fix things. When my children have some unidentified blood disease, or their appendix ruptures with complications, or they become depressed and unmotivated, or rebel against the way they were raised, I feel such a sense of loss and helplessness. When I visit with my friends and hear how they are coping (or not) with disabled children, or cancer, or divorce, or unrelenting disease and death, I am overwhelmed by my own inability to help. When I turn on the tv and hear of destruction by natural disasters: floods, storms, earthquakes; or see evidence of man’s inhumanity towards man in attacks of arson, terrorism or murder, my heart is hardly filled with joy and thanks.

But within each of these, if I change my focus, I can see opportunities for You to be at work. Because I know that “You are good and Your love endures forever” I can rejoice in that. I rejoice that You are my God! That I can call on You and You will answer me in whatever circumstances I find myself or the world in! I thank You that You have given me friends. And that I can pray with them and for them. I praise You that there are no circumstances that You are overwhelmed by. Thank You that You can give perspective and wisdom and healing to those who need it. Thank You that You can turn a prodigal’s heart to You and bring them home. Thank You that You can reach around the world, where I cannot, to bring healing and help.

I thank You and praise You that You have made me a “sheep of Your pasture”. As Your sheep, I can ask for my Shepherd’s help for my home issues, for my family, for my friends, and for any in need due to natural disasters or violence. I praise You that Your power supersedes any other. And that Your faithfulness allows me to have hope that whatever the circumstances, I can choose to focus on You. I can still worship with gladness and have joy! Amen

Psalm 100:1-5

Oct 12 Rejoice and Pray

Father, two of today’s verses have saved me when I needed to recite Bible verses as a child. As far as I know, they are two of only three verses that contain only two words. I Thessalonians 5:16 “Rejoice always” and 5:17 “Pray continually”. Because they contain only two words, (making them easy to memorize and remember) and are so straightforward and to the point, I’ve always considered them important.

I loved English in school, and learned that when no subject is present, like these verses, the subject ‘you’ is understood. So whomever the speaker is speaking to is commanded to do the verb that follows. A command is stronger than a simple statement. When given by someone with authority it means to obey immediately, without further thought or discussion. In these cases, I am to “rejoice” and “pray”.

sunset-1012477_640Rejoice means to feel or show great joy or delight. It is the opposite of showing sadness.   It is not whining or complaining. It is not arguing or showing anger. I don’t think it means I can never have a negative emotion or express my feelings, but I should be looking to see the good side of what is going on in my life. I should be watching for things to be joyful about, and then let others see why I am joyful.

people-850097_640

Pray, very simply, means to talk to You. The adverbs that follow each verb tell me how to do the action the verb specifies. So when it comes to “rejoice”, the word is “always”. In other words (or in the same words) in ‘all ways’, in all things, in all circumstances, I need to be looking for the joy You bring me.

And the adverb for “pray” is “continually”, meaning ‘all the time, repeated frequently, constantly, without interruption’.

So, at all times, in all situations, in all things, I should strive to show my joy and be in communication with You. Along with “give thanks in all circumstances”, “this is God’s will for you”, these directives tell me it is Your desire to hear from me. And to hear my gratefulness.

Paul said these words to believers who were enduring hardship and persecution. How much more should I be able to find things in my easy, twenty-first century life of freedom to be thankful and joyful about? These are convicting Words, Father. And Words of instruction and encouragement! Thank You for making them so easy to remember! Amen

I Thessalonians 5:16-17

Oct 11 A tree planted by the water

This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.  That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes…  But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.’”

bank-250252_640Father, what a clear picture comparing those who trust in You and those who do not. I have lived in the desert. I have seen bushes living in the wasteland. They do not grow tall. They don’t look healthy. They barely look alive. And they don’t last long. And I have seen tall, lush, full, green, long-lived trees that grow by the water. What a contrast!

 

new-jersey-77916_640Lord, let me be the tree planted by Your water! When planting, one plans the location based on the needs of the tree. Its roots grow quickly in the direction of the water. Because of this, the tree is saturated with the moisture it needs to withstand periods of even extreme heat and drought. There is enough to sustain green leaves that gather the sunlight to store as energy. There is always sufficient energy and life in this tree to produce fruit in season.

I desire this blessing, so I will turn away from trusting in man’s philosophies and knowledge. I will not count on my own strength to accomplish what the world would lead me to do. But I will turn to You for guidance. I will trust in Your wisdom, Your strength, and Your purpose for my life. As You are the Living Water, I drink deeply of Your love, Your truth, and Your provision for me. My roots are my faith, which is solidly grounded in the truth of who You are; and my identity which comes from You. So when ‘heat’ comes, hardship and trials, it is You who sustains me and Your power that produces fruit in me.

Even now, Lord, I seek direction on issues I face. Please speak to me and give me Your perspective and insight. And make me bold to act on what You say. I place my confidence in You. And this is the confidence that I have: not that things will always turn out well, but that regardless of how they turn out, You will be there with me, and use it for good.

Father, You are the One I praise. You are the One I serve. You are the One I worship. You are my Hope and my Healer, my Savior and my Strength, my Fortress, my Refuge and my Reward. And I am blessed. Amen

Jeremiah 16:16-17:18

Oct 9 Evidence of Belief

Father, Jeremiah saw wicked people prospering and called for their demise. You answered saying their end was coming. I see much the same today. People who have denied You and live their lives for fame, power or profit are indeed prospering. My society elevates them rather than calling for righteousness. And every day the time approaches when You will uproot and destroy them.

hammer-802296_640So how do I choose to live in these times? I will remember that You have chosen me. You have set me apart. So I will not seek the things society promotes. But will seek to be like the believers at the church at Thessalonica. Paul said of them: “Your faith has become known everywhere”.   Father, let me live a life that these words will be true of me also.

Many years ago, a Sunday School teacher was telling about believers who were being persecuted in another country. And she asked, ‘If you were on trial today, would there be enough evidence to convict you of being a Christian?’ That really stuck with me. Help me live in a way that my faith in You is evident without a doubt.

Like the Thessalonians, let me also show “[my] work produced by faith, [my] labor prompted by love, and [my] endurance inspired by hope in [my] Lord Jesus Christ.” Show me how to work alongside You, not just look for anything I can do to stay busy. Let me see where You are working, and join You in a faithful labor of love. Let my hope in You inspire and hearten me to continue in whatever task You show me.

The Thessalonians were inspired to endure hardship and trials by the hope that You would return to earth soon. I too am encouraged to be steady in my faith, believing that the time is nearing when You will return to earth, bringing eternal rewards. Thank You that Your Word is true. Thank You that Your justice is right. And that in Your Sovereignty and Authority, You are righteous! Amen

Jeremiah 12:1-17, I Thessalonians 1-2:8