Still and Quiet

Softly flowing White River

I took this photo of the White River with a slow shutter speed to smooth out the flowing water (I didn’t do anything to the color… that why it is called the White River). It reminded me of Psalm 131.

My heart is not proud, O Lord, 

my eyes are not haughty; 

I do not concern myself with great matters 

or things too wonderful for me. 

But I have stilled and quieted my soul; 

like a weaned child is my soul within me. 

like a weaned child with its mother, 

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord 

both now and forevermore. Psalm 131

I think it is apropos for the turmoil of an election in the midst of social unrest and a pandemic. Lay aside all the pride and malice. Still and quiet your soul by reaffirming your hope in God. Remember, it is by the Lord’s strength we will get through this both now and forevermore.

Paying Attention to the Son

Dogwood blossoms turning toward the sun.

We can’t imagine the emptiness of life without God’s love.
We can’t imagine the fullness of life with God’s love.

So why do we ignore it?

Though we are faithless,
God remains faithful to give us mercy if we will just ask.

So why do we ignore it?

When we are hopeless, dying from the failures and wrongs in life.
We can find hope in the Lord who has triumphed over all even death.

So why do we ignore—God’s love, His faithfulness, and the Hope He offers?

We ignore it when we are distracted by other things
We have ears that do not hear above the noise of this world.
We have eyes that do not see beyond the glitter of this world.
But God sends His Spirit to stir our spirit with conviction for ignoring the Lord.

The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he said through Isaiah the prophet:
Go to this people and say,
You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.” Acts 28:25-27

So stop letting lesser things hold your attention,
for they cause you to miss out on all of God’s good things.

Hope for the Day

Ray of sunshine breaking through.

Hope reminds me of good to come.
Hope is the thumping of God’s victory drum.
Hope is the music that sets the mood.
Hope the aroma of the banquet food.
Hope is the lighthouse piercing the storm.
Hope is the blanket keeping me warm.
Hope provides strength to my weary feet.
Hope is the breeze cooling toilsome heat.
Hope holds on to me when I fear.
Hope is the whisper, “God is near.”
I’ll have no regret when I’m called home.
For my hope in Jesus is life’s cornerstone.

And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:2-5

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.

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

Hope Ahead

Spring is just around the bend.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

During the current COVID-19 pandemic and economic uncertainty this verse gives us hope and reassurance. It all turns on love. We can love God because He first loved us. We can trust Him because He is faithful, even when we have been faithless. We can put our hope in Jesus, because His name means God saves (Matt1:21).

I realize that some hurts run very deep (like death in the family), and I don’t expect this verse to miraculously change your tears to joy, but loving God will plant the seeds of hope, and trust… and just knowing there is purpose… helps.

Praying Through the Pain

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Hope in the dead of Winter

I find it hard to pray without my mind wandering in the best of times. But, when I am hurting and in pain, then I find it difficult to put two words together in prayer. So what are we to do when our prayers are moans and groans… rasping laments beginning and ending with two feeble words—O God!

How does God expect us to pray in pain?

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 as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  Romans 8:23-24

I have attended many deliveries in my career and for most anesthesia was not available. I would often hear screams during labor—“O God help me!” or “Lordy, Lordy!” Were these words of anguish really prayers? The one thing that kept these mothers praying through the pain was the thought of new life coming.

Pain, or grief, or a deep hurt from our point of view seems to interfere with our prayers to God. But like a woman in labor who cries out to God—keep praying for our groans are not lost upon God. There is new life coming.

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 with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. Romans 8:26-27

Perseverance

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Icicle Creek persevering to the Pacific Ocean

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.  Luke 8:15 NIV

It takes perseverance to produce a crop. Why doesn’t God just click His fingers?

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus… Romans 15:4-5 NAS

God encourages us to persevere. But how does perseverance produce hope?

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:3-5 NIV

Perseverance is a word I don’t want to hear because it means waiting and bearing up under difficult circumstances. I certainly prefer convenience, not perseverance. But God makes enduring hardship part of a believer’s life. I can either trust that He knows what I need and will help me, or go my own way.

You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.  Matthew 7:13-14

On second thought, maybe it is God who perseveres with me.

Hope at Midnight

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Waiting for the sun

A few years ago a hurricane hit South Texas. National evening news showed people at an evacuation center singing praises to God. They showed hope and light in the midst of devastating tragedy. Even the newscaster got caught up in their praise and ended the newscast with “Amen,”

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Acts 16:25

No matter what our situation, even at midnight in prison, we can have hope in Jesus,
Because:
we have goodness in Jesus,
we have God’s faithfulness in Jesus,
we can talk to Jesus,
we can have forgiveness in Jesus,
we can know our life has meaning in Jesus,
we can have strength in Jesus,
we can hide in Jesus,
we can run to Jesus,
we know nothing will separate us from the love of Jesus,
we have a glorious future in Jesus,
we have a mighty shepherd to lead and protect us in Jesus.
God has good works for us to do in Jesus,
we have abundant life in Jesus,
And we have all eternity to enjoy life in Jesus.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12