My Heart is Steadfast – Psalm 108

Parfrey’s Glen, WI

My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing, I will sing praises, even with my soul.

Awake, harp and lyre; I will awaken the dawn!

I will give thanks to Thee, O LORD, among the peoples; And I will sing praises to Thee among the nations.

For Thy lovingkindness is great above the heavens; And Thy truth reaches to the skies.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, And Thy glory above all the earth.

That Thy beloved may be delivered, Save with Thy right hand, and answer me!

God has spoken in His holiness;

“I will exult, I will portion out Shechem, and measure out the valley of Succoth.

Gilead is Mine, Manasseh is Mine, Ephraim also is the helmet of My head; Judah is My scepter.

Moab is My washbowl; Over Edom I shall throw My shoe; Over Philistia I will shout aloud.”

Who will bring me into the besieged city? Who will lead me to Edom?

Hast not Thou Thyself, O God, rejected us? And wilt Thou not go forth with our armies, O God?

Oh give us help against the adversary, For deliverance by man is vain.

Through God we shall do valiantly; And it is He who will tread down our adversaries.

For Further Study:

What is David determined to do? When? Where?

Why does he sing?

What is his request?

Notice the last 3 lines. What is the problem, What is the solution? What outcome does David see in the last line?

Things may seem hopeless, but our hope isn’t in human leaders or programs, but in God.

Jesus My All to Heaven is Gone

John Cennick (1717-1755) / George Coles

Jesus my all to heaven is gone, He whom I fixed my hopes upon;

His track I see, and I’ll pursue the narrow way till Him I view.

The way the holy prophets went, the road that leads from banishment,

The King’s highway of holiness I’ll go for all Thy paths are peace.

This is the way I long have sought, and mourned because I found it not;

My grief a burden long has been, because I was not saved from sin.

The more I strove against its power, I felt its weight and guilt the more;

Till late I heard my Savior say, “Come hither, soul, I am the way.”

Lo! Glad I come; and Thou blest Lamb, Shalt take me to Thee, as I am;

Nothing but sin have I to give; Nothing but love shall I receive.

Then will I tell to sinners ’round, What a dear Savior I have found;

I’ll point to Thy redeeming blood, And say, “Behold the way to God.”

Hymn of Trust – (Give to the Winds Thy Fears)

Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com

Paul Gerhardt’s life was not an easy one. He was a preacher without a parish, tossed from place to place, (Mittenwalde & Berlin) Four of his children died, and at some point his wife also. He had been dismissed from his last church because of disagreements with the Elector Fredrick. He wandered from place to place for two years.

The following hymn was written while he was staying at a wayside inn, homeless and discouraged. After completing it he was finally offered a parish in Lubben where he stayed until his death.

He wrote 123 hymns and was a favorite hymn-writer of the German-speaking people.

Hymn of Trust – (Give to the Winds Thy Fears)

Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676)/William H. Walter

Give to the winds thy fears, hope and be undismayed;

God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears; God shall lift up thy head.

Through waves and clouds and storms, He gently clears the way;

Wait thou His time, so shall this night soon end in joyous day.

Who points the clouds their course, whom wind and seas obey;

He shall direct thy wandering feet, He shall prepare thy way.

Leave to His sov’reign sway to choose and to command,

So shalt thou wond’ring own His way, how wise, how strong His hand!

Thou seest our weakness, Lord, our hearts are known to Thee;

O lift Thou up the sinking heart, confirm the feeble knee.

Commit thou all thy griefs and ways into His hands;

To His sure trust and tender care Who earth and heaven commands.

Let us in life, in death, Thy steadfast truth declare,

And publish with our latest breath Thy love and guardian care.

For further study: I Peter 5:6-7; Philippians 4:6-7; Psalm 125:1; Psalm 37

Overwhelming Trouble

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I have lived through periods of being overwhelmed. My details aren’t important. Insert your own circumstances into the story I am about to tell you.

One particularly difficult period went on for a few years. I would often talk to God about “this mess that is my life.” I could see no way forward. It was impossible to go back. The circumstances I found myself in were beyond my control and way beyond my ability. It wasn’t a matter of trying harder, it was a matter of being completely undone.

My life was like a train wreck. Twisted metal blocking any clear path.

Sitting crumpled on my living room floor I cried out to God. “This is too hard. I am too weak. I can’t go on.” It was as if He whispered…”Can you get through this hour? I will be with you this hour.” “Take my hand. Moment by moment we will get through this.”

I wanted no part of this train wreck. I wanted a smooth easy existence with blessings floating down to my outstretched hands. God wanted my outstretched hands to be reaching for Him not His blessings.

Severe trouble shifted my focus from things He provides to God Himself. When everything else lay in ruins, God was the only thing left. He was offering to take my hand as I stumbled through the train wreck. The train wreck took years to get through. I still encounter remnants of it. When I do I am reminded of how far God has brought me. From constant, hopeless despair to a moment by moment existence holding tightly to my Father’s hand.

What have I learned? My utter sinfulness. My need, not for new circumstances, but to be right with God. My hope could not be found within myself, but within God’s redemption.

Whatever your circumstances there is hope. Not in yourself, but in God.

We are eternal beings. We will live forever. This life isn’t all there is. You have a choice to make. Living moment by moment with God now and for eternity, or turning away from His outstretched hand to live a miserable existence in this life and the next.

“For God so loved the world, (that means you) that He gave His only Son, (Jesus died for your sins) That whoever (that includes you) believes in Him should not perish (separation from God for eternity) but have eternal life. John 3:16 ESV – (notes by me.)

For further study:

Dealing with Anxiety – Study 10 – Mary Magdalene

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“Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Proverbs 13:12

We have all had situations that didn’t turn out as we expected. A job offer that fell through, a betrayal by a friend, a baby that didn’t arrive, a lost love.

We all make plans in our head and when life turns out differently we grieve what might have been.

Today we are looking at Mary Magdalene. Her story is found in John 20:1-18. Here is the template. anxiety template

We don’t know very much about her, but Luke 8:1-3 gives us a little information. We know she was one of the women who followed Jesus from city to city. This group of women helped support Jesus and his disciples financially. It also mentions that 7 demons had been cast out of her. To say that her life was changed by her encounter with Jesus is an understatement.

She was all in. Her life was completely focused on following Jesus. Imagine her brokenness when He is crucified. This is where we pick up the story.

Notice what she does, where she is, who she tells.

We know from Mark 16:9 that she was the first one to see Jesus alive. Why do you think that was?

How am I like Mary Magdalene? How am I like all the other followers who were in hiding?

 

Dealing with Anxiety – Study 5 – Shunammite Woman

Today I went walking at Camp Riversite. It is a park a couple miles from our home. I was hoping to see signs of Spring. Instead I saw old growth. Signs that life had been there, and would probably return.

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There was an old burr oak that must have been over 200 years old.

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I tried to imagine it as a seedling…imagining all the different people over the years that might have stopped and looked at it. The children that might have climbed in it’s branches.

This tree would have been 100 years old when the influenza hit in early 1918.  They called it the Spanish flu. That pandemic killed my husband’s grandfather and 675,000 other people in the United States. 50,000,000 were to die world wide. Most of them ages 15-34. (*)  The death rate was 50%. Not good odds.

As I read through Bible passages looking for stories for these posts I am wading through hundreds  and thousands of years. The one constant is the God who created it all and is longing for us to turn to Him. Time and time again He is there when the trouble hits. He is there when people cry out to Him.

Today we are looking at someone who was given a gift they didn’t ask for. (Actually two people received things they didn’t ask for.) We are also looking at the death of someone in the age group mentioned above. You can find the story in II Kings 4:8-37.

Here is the study template if you need it. anxiety template

Let me know what you learn. Until next time.

Karen

 

* (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/reconstruction-1918-virus.html)

 

Take Courage, Where our Hope Lies

 

 

 

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. ”

John 16:33 (NASB)

 

The hope we have in Christ is more hopeful than any president or king or government policy. These are frightening days, but more frightening than a pandemic is the thought of spending eternity apart from God. If you are unsure of your eternal future take some time to work through the “Redeemed” bible study.

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I would be happy to answer any questions.

I will be continuing the series “Dealing with Anxiety” tomorrow. Watch for new posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

When Miracles Don’t Happen

It has been a difficult decade. There have been many sleepless nights. There have been many tears. I have prayed believing. I have prayed even though I didn’t believe. I have prayed when i didn’t feel like praying. My prayers have been whispered, spoken and shouted. They have been written down on my laptop, leather journals and scraps of paper. Often my prayers have been wordless. Having said all I could think of to say I left the words to the Holy Spirit who promises to “intercede for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26)

We are instructed to pray, and yet what is our response when we don’t see an answer? We want to hear about the miracles and the happy endings. We don’t want to hear about the financial struggles, the sexual abuse, people dying of cancer, prodigal children or broken families. The church speaks loudly in its silence. Like Job’s silent friends who sat and watched. (Job 2:11-15) When they finally did speak it was to blame Job for the trouble he was in. (Job 4 etc.)

We delight to look at Hebrews 11, the faith chapter. It is full of miracles. God doing great things through ordinary people because of their faith. The words “by faith” are used 19 times in that chapter. But there are others mentioned in verses 35-38 that we tend to ignore. They were tortured, stoned, sawn in two, put to death etc. They were not living the miracle life. Their situation was more of a nightmare variety, but in verse 39 it says “all these, having gained approval through their faith…”

I was startled when I read Genesis 15 the other day. It records a conversation Abraham had with God. God was again repeating his covenant promises to Abraham. Then comes verse 13. God wanted Abraham to know something…to know for certain…

Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years.”

That doesn’t seem like the kind of thing anyone would want to know for certain. Yet, I believe that we need to know for certain that life will be hard. Things won’t always go as we planned. Sin will continue to corrupt this world and our lives. We need to prepare for the ugly in our life so we don’t loose our hope. Someday it will be different. Someday the trouble we have gone through will be over. The trouble is not an indication of our lack of faith. The trouble is not an indication that God is mad at us.

The good news is we have a God who promises to always be with us in the midst of that trouble (Matthew 28:20; John 16:33) As we learn to cling to Him we understand His worth. He is a God that walks through the darkest of nights with us. I believe that those dark nights reveal more to us about who He is than the perfect ordered life, we long for, ever could.

So the next time you hear people talking about the miracles in their life remember that God often does the most amazing miracles in the dark. Some of us will have to wait until we get to heaven to see the miracles revealed, that we so longed for on earth.

(Originally posted January 5, 2015 at Lytroo Retreat.)