scripture friday.

Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,

your right hand will hold me fast

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me

and the light become night around me,”

even the darkness will not be dark to you;

the night will shine like the day,

for darkness is as light to you.

 

-The Bible

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these words.

Perhaps never before has humanity been bombarded with instant answers, instant fixes, and instant gratification.

It’s no wonder these words get lost in the pile of everyday distractions.

Yes, even in our churches there is much activity. But you can be sure, somewhere in the midst there is someone who needs to hear these words.

If someone you know is feeling hopeless and sad – tell them these words.

Personally, I think it would do us good to hear these words at every church service. We need the reminder to keep our focus where it should be.

When bad news comes or tragedy strikes the human response is to question God.

But, he left us with these words: 

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 

For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 

According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 

After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 

Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

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looking for the new.

I think we’d agree.

We’re always looking for the new.

New colors.

New flavors.

New ways.

New styles.

New things.

Let’s face it. It’s fun. We live in a world of beauty and humanity has tapped into its offerings through innovation and personal flair.

Thing is, I think we can get bored with the old. It’s too simple.

And the scriptures are pretty simple.

I think a lot about trusting God. It’s a simple concept but not always simple in its application.

It can be quite boring to trust God in this busy, active world. Because it requires being still  – not going up hill or down hill – waiting.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart;

do not depend on your own understanding.

Seek his will in all you do,

and he will show you which path to take.

All your heart.

Without trying to understand.

Looking to God for everything.

He will show you which way to go in thoughts and actions.

It might take time. It usually does.

But you will look back and see what you did not see before.

And while you’re waiting? He helps you wait.

We may be in a different world with so much new-and-improved.

But God’s ways are timeless.

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always.

Have you thought about how God chose the color green for the earth’s landscape?

He could have chose any color. But he chose green.

Colors affect how we feel. Green is a cool color and makes us feel calm and restful.

Interesting, huh?

And what about the sky? Blue. Another cool color.

And the ocean. Blue and blue- green.

An oftentimes violent, confusing, turbulent, broken world is enveloped in a canopy of God’s care.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

And always … means always.

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never, lord, he said.

I don’t have a title or a ministry.

My name is not printed as a key-note speaker.

I do not stand in front of people with words of encouragement, truth, or comfort.

I am elusive.

Not on purpose. Some things just play out that way.

Sometimes we really don’t have much control over things, do we? God leads us on a course we did not intend to be on.

Some courses are detours and bring us around to where we were.

But for some, the course is a long journey of squalls and rough water.

Some would point another way – the right way. While their intentions are good, perhaps they have placed God in the box of what-it-should-look-like.

Never, Lord! he said. This shall never happen to you …

But it did.

What if God wanted to change course? Would you follow the course He laid or cling to the shore of life with the assurance of your gifts and talents?

When others sail out into the deep, do you question if “it’s God”?

How free are we? Over the years, Christians have embraced the Holy Spirit in fresh ways, making our faith tangible.

But be careful of the pain you inflict on those who are already hurting.

Be careful you don’t think you know what is best.

Be careful the awakening to live your faith with purpose does not make you stumble.

If you’ve been the recipient of words or the silence and you are fully anchored to the God who is enough, let your light shine.

Even if it’s a small, steady glow.

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let the rest go.

When facing tragedies as a Christian, I have discovered it is really important to embrace the core beliefs of the scripture and let “the rest” go.

The core beliefs are the scriptures that have been understood for centuries. They have been the buoyancy which has carried the nearly drowning soul since the beginning of time. And with some simple research, we can find the men and women who have rested in God’s provision to sustain them through the suffering of loss, failure, and heartache.

“The rest” can mean something different to a lot of people because there are many views within Christianity – interpretations of scripture, emphasis on certain topics, etc.

Despite the differences, Jesus Christ and him crucified is not in dispute and that is a good thing. And since losing Christopher, I have found myself time and time again, returning to the Apostle Paul’s words:

For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

That’s because “the rest” was and has been meaningless, noisy, and distracting to my shocked and confused mind.

If you don’t really know what I mean, you are likely to know if you find yourself standing at the threshold of some real suffering. Jesus is the only one who can calm the storm. There was nothing in me to “speak to the wind and the waves”.

Yes, me, of little faith.

Tragedies have a way of reducing us to running on low power and we only need some basics to keep functioning.

One way of thinking in Christian circles is the emphasis on faith and/or positive thinking/speaking.  Both fit nicely in the American culture of don’t give up, you’ve got this, keep on keeping on – all positive, good advice.

Combine this with the scripture and you might begin to think you’re invincible from tragedies. Maybe this is why so many of us go on so long with questions, causing us further pain.

Maybe if you’re reading this, the mountain moved for you.

But what about the mountain that did not move for someone else?

I remember praying Psalm 91 for years, paying particular attention to the part that says, … no evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your dwelling.

I really believed my diligent, committed, watchman-on-the-wall type prayers put protection around us and our property. After all, the effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous accomplishes much, right?

In time, I realized (since I know God is the one who shows us) the protection around us was how God protected us through the tragedy of losing a son and a brother.

This isn’t a cop-out. I am fully aware of how we can justify anything to make us feel better. But if you are tempted to think you didn’t have enough faith, you didn’t pray enough, you must have sinned, well, those are Job’s comforters’ words (and we all know how that went).

God showed me a lot during those days and he still does. Because He is all I had.

He is all you have, too.

We cannot keep analyzing what we have believed all our lives, even if it’s through what we learned through a church sermon, class, or conference.

We have to dig deeper when we’re alone in our grief. Because well meaning people think they understand or know the answer.  They don’t.

Only God does.

And the digging deeper is not weeks or months of researching. It’s actually pretty simple:

No matter how you feel, settle it now that all things are in God’s hands and you will trust Him no matter what. Then watch what happens.

If you resist, you block his help. Not because He doesn’t want to help because He is with us always. But He is watching and waiting.

Ever try and help a toddler who doesn’t want your help? Kinda like that.

All throughout history and even now, humankind suffers. It’s a fact of life that all Christians have to come to terms with or you will be bitter the rest of your life. Bitter, because you will always be searching for the answer to fit your paradigm; the way you think or the way you’ve been taught.

But the Bible tells us God’s ways are not our ways and he does not think the way we do.

Sometimes, I think our suffering does not find the relief God offers because we are trying to get out of it. That’s normal. Who likes pain? No one.

Particularly in America where we have so much when you think about it. We’ve grown accustomed to getting what we want or getting our way. We expect it. We even demand it.

This doesn’t mean we should embrace suffering as if it makes us more worthy or holy. There is more to the story of our lives and there is a good ending to be played out in eternity. God gives us this hope. Every Christian knows this.

It is not hope the way we think about it – “I hope this or that happens”.

Merriam Webster dictionary defines hope like this:

:  to cherish a desire with anticipation :  to want something to happen or be true hopefor a promotion; hoping for the best; hope so.

Here is their archaic definition:

: TRUST

Interesting how the passage of time changes meaning. Has the scripture’s meaning changed, too? Causing too many to question for too long?

We hope because we trust. We trust God is who he says he is and he will do what he says he will do.

Anything less is temporary and disappoints.

Isn’t it time to set aside the questions that go around and around in your thoughts? This is not what God wants for you. He wants you to know there is rest for your tired soul.

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