Hope to the Rescue

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Life will take you to some rough water.

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24

As the world swirls in pandemic turmoil,
My hope is in the Lord.

As the economy topples into depression,
My hope is in the Lord.

As I struggle with temptation,
My hope is in the Lord.

As I try to calm my anxious thoughts,
My hope is in the Lord.

As I worry for my family,
My hope is in the Lord.

As evil seems to have its way,
My hope is in the Lord.

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you. Psalm 33:20-22

Write your own difficult trial on paper and follow it with—my hope is in the Lord. This little exercise really does help.

Singing Sea Lions

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All Creation Sings

Jesus is the music of life. We can either sing along with the celestial chorus, or make our own noise, missing the great and wonderful part He has for us. Search yourself would you rather have Jesus’ song brought forth in your life to the thunderous applause of creation, or leave your part unsung to the sorrow of the heavenly host.

Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things;
his right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him. Psalm 98:1

All creation sings

Sing to the Lord a new song,
His praise in the assembly of the saints. Psalm 149:1

So put your trust in the Lord and come join the choir

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:1-3

The Confusion of Love and Lust

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Tears from heaven

“But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all (1 Corinthians 12:31).” Apostle Paul’s introduction to the love chapter.

Unfortunately, the church has lost its way and often allows politics to lead instead of love. Lust disguised as appropriate behavior has replaced what should be foremost—our love for God. Thus causing a dimming of the church’s light in the world.

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Revelation 2:4

Lust seeks to control others – Love seeks to free others.

Lust wants to be served – Love wants to serve.

Lust is self-seeking – Love seeks good for all.

Lust is self-promoting – Love does not boast.

Lust flees from hardship – Love always perseveres.

Lust lies to get what it wants – Love rejoices in truth.

Lust becomes angry when it doesn’t get its way – Love is patient and kind.

Lust seeks to gratify self – Love is willing to sacrifice self.

Lust sucks life from life – Love gives life to life.

The one who lusts becomes like the purveyor of lust. The one who loves becomes like the author of love.

Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You. Psalm 63:3

Light for the Coming Darkness

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Light on a hill

Where there looms fear,
There is need for drawing close to God.
Where there is no fear,
We invest little in prayer.

Where there is grief,
There is need for hope.
Where there is no sorrow,
We grip tightly to the present instead of Jesus.

Where there is doubt.
There is a need for faith
Where doubt does not exist,
There is little need to exercise faith.

Where there is love and forgiveness,
There is passionate devotion.
Where there is no love there is indifference,
and indifference makes the heart grow hard.

Where there is horrid ugliness
There is a longing for innocence.
Where people accept the grotesque,
There is no desire for salvation.

All the doubt, the fear, the sorrow, the ugliness does not show the absence of God, but quite to the contrary … Shows our need for Him.

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart I have overcome the world. – Jesus John 16:33

America! America!

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O beautiful for spacious skies

We hear a lot of people talking about “my rights” — my right to say what I want, my right to carry a gun, my right to wear what I choose, my right to assemble. A lot of this is coming from Christians who should be following Christ instead of divisive political rhetoric. We should ask ourselves if what I say and do is from love for my neighbor or from “my rights over yours.”

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross! Philippians 2:3-8

Wearing a mask and following the pandemic guidelines is showing that you care more for others than your own comfort. Seeking justice and goodness for every family is what makes America beautiful.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Forgiveness—like rain on parched land

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Rain on Eastern Washington

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
“Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”  Luke 7:39-50

You can’t see others as God sees them unless you forgive.
You can’t see yourself as God sees you unless you forgive.
You won’t be able to forgive yourself unless you forgive others.
You can’t love others as God loves unless you forgive.
You can’t love yourself as God loves you unless you forgive.
You won’t know how much God loves you unless you forgive.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 13:34-35

We are to forgive as we’ve been forgiven.
We are to love as we have been loved.
Love and forgiveness are intertwined.

Just Peeking

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The moon playing “hide and seek,” Alaska inland passage.

If you have ever played “hide and seek” then you probably said this and complained mightily if someone didn’t follow the rules. In fact, throughout life, we all want to be treated fairly… it is built into our humanity. Jesus speaks to this point in the Sermon on the Mount:

God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. Matthew 5:6 NLT

Justice is something we have to hunger and thirst for… to work at diligently, and we are told we will be blessed by God if we do. Unfortunately, we have hungered for other things letting justice be put on the shelf. We hunger for power, wealth, pleasure and security. Justice gets twisted into “what I want.” We substitute what is good for me and my family, rather than what is right and good for our neighbor. Black Lives Matter is a cry for justice (don’t be sidetracked by certain people’s breaking and looting that’s wrong and evil and co-opts the call for justice). When Jesus returns He will bring truth, justice and judgement. On that day will Jesus find we have turned away from our neighbors cries for justice, or did we hunger and thirst for justice?

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. Matthew 23:23 NIV

If we have knowledge of justice as children playing “hide and seek,” how can we neglect working to act justly as Christ’s followers?

How Lovely

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California Poppy opening to the morning sun

Where there is love, life is too short.
And too long where there is none.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Eternity is pure joy where there is love,
And pure hell where there is none.

A Day of Rejoicing

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Standing before the throne.

When I awaken in the morning, it takes a while for my mind to awaken and get going. It is the same on a spiritual level. What I mean is God’s promises and love are still there, but it takes awhile to wake up to them and orient my spirit around my Lord.

My spiritual wake-up goes something like this:
My Lord God, You love me and will never leave me nor forsake me. (Hebrews 13:5, Romans 8:38-39)
Your love for me stretches out beyond my understanding and overcomes my every shortcoming. (Ephesians 3:18)
In that love You have redeemed me to be Your child (John 1:12)
I will not worry about my past nor carry it about like a ball and chain. When You redeemed me, You redeem my past too. You have given me a wonderful heritage in Jesus. (Psalm 61:5, Psalm 103:4)
I will not worry about today or tomorrow for You hold them in Your hand and will give me strength for all that lies ahead. (Psalm 139)
I rest in Your love for my family. I know You dearly love them. (Matthew 19:13-14)

One glorious day I will stand before God’s throne in the light of His love, praising Jesus for all He has done for me. What a day of rejoicing that will be!

Whoever is wise, let him heed these things
and consider the great love of the Lord. Psalm 107:43

How little we see—How little we love

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How great is God’s love for us.

Praise the Lord!
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
Who can list the glorious miracles of the Lord?
Who can ever praise him enough? Psalm 106:1-2 NLT

“Who can list the miracles of the LORD,” implies we are only seeing a small portion of what the LORD is doing. These miraculous happenings arise from God’s goodness and enduring love. His mighty love holds me even when I cannot see it. A simile for comparing our knowledge to what God is actually doing would be like looking out upon the trees and flowering fields, and all you think is that the lawn needs mowing. But the truth is if we saw life with clear eyes the wonder would blow us away and cause us to kneel in praise to God. That is why the Psalmist says—who can ever praise Him enough?

Fortunately, God’s goodness and love are poured out regardless of our level of understanding. But the ability to enjoy His gift depends on our hearts readiness to receive.

This is easiest to see with God’s love.

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:12 NIV

It is here we fall way short of loving in the measure we have been loved. Jesus calls it—little love.

Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.
I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Luke 7:44-47 NLT

This “little love” not only chokes our love of God, but makes us apathetic to the pain of those around us. An example is racism. Most people feel they aren’t racist. But our feelings are not the measure here… it is have we loved our neighbor as God has loved us. Our “little love” has resulted in a trail of tears down through the generations, from the cruel days of slavery to the killing of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbury.

If we truly saw the enormity of God’s love in Jesus, and the pain our indifference to others has caused, it would drive us to fall at the feet of Jesus pleading for forgiveness and stir afresh the desire to show His love to our neighbor. Lord, cure us of our “little love”… O who can ever love Him enough?