The hiddenness of God. Sometimes…it seems that God has taken leave – there is an absence of His presence.
The psalmist says: “Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?”
This may be a description of you today. You feel abandoned and alone.
And…it happens just when you feel most vulnerable and weak…and God seems absent.
But…the reality is in sharp contrast. The psalmist speaks to that: “You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.”
That’s the reality.
God’s seeming absence is an illusion. He is not far off. He is not hidden.
God’s promise to Joshua is yours today: “…I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Ever present – never absent.
Life through death. It’s the essence of the call of Jesus.
Some are open to the life part…but reject the death part. But…that is to miss the true call of Jesus.
Paul said: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live…” That’s the sequence – death first…and then life.
Some try to reverse the order. They are intrigued with the promise of life everlasting…the joy and peace that Jesus gives.
But…they resist the crucifixion part.
When Jesus called Saul of Tarsus…the call for him included these words: “ “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
When Jesus calls…it is an invitation to die.
But…it becomes the way to life.
Life through death.
Leaving home. That can be traumatic.
It comes with marriage – college — job assignments — or any number of reasons.
But…it marks a significant transition in life.
But that’s what Jesus did. He left home and came to earth.
Home for Jesus was to be present with the Father – in a perfect…loving…and beautiful place.
Then…Jesus came to earth. It’s a place of impurity…greed…and violence. In His thirty-three years He encountered it all.
The price He paid to leave His home in heaven…and come to earth…is beyond imagination.
And…on the cross Jesus took on Himself our sin…and suffered there to save us.
Jesus left home…so that one day we can be at home with Him.
Spices. They enhance the flavor of food.
Without spices…foods can be bland – with little taste.
What is it that takes the bland out of the daily routine?
Some people try to spice up life with synthetics — thought to bring pleasure…purpose…and excitement.
But…they do just the opposite. They imprison…confuse…and destroy.
The only authentic spice for life is the gospel of Christ – the way of love…mercy…and grace. Jesus strips away the bland of daily routine…and puts in its place the joy and peace that only He can bring.
Jesus said: “…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
The spice of life
The day and the night. Their predictability is proof that God keeps His promises.
“This is what the Lord says: ‘If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night…then my covenant with David…can be broken…”
When the sun sets to end the day…and when the sun rises to end the night – let it be a reminder that God keeps His promises.
Think of the predictability of the cycle. The universe is governed by the hand of God.
And…it is intended by God to be incontrovertible proof that His promises are true.
Today…you can be sure that not one word of God’s promises will ever fail.
That’s the message of the day and the night.
OFTR Israel-Greece Trip
As you may know, we have a trip to Israel and Greece coming up March 15-29, 2018. This trip has been carefully planned, and we anticipate a wonderful time. Please note it includes a couple days in Greece and still gives us a lengthy time in Israel.
If you have any interest in exploring the possibility of joining us, please send your request to email@example.com, and we will send you full information.
Ringing true. That’s when you can sense that what is being said is authentic.
At other times you listen…ponder…question…and come away with the sense that something isn’t right.
Sometimes there are comments about the Bible. But…the longer you listen…the more uneasy you feel.
That’s because the Holy Spirit is helping you to listen with discernment. It’s the only way you can avoid being swept in by what is not true.
And…the only reliable criteria is the Bible.
You may be disquieted by something you hear. Why? Because it does not ring true according to Scripture.
Don’t be swept in. There is much said that is totally false…partially true…or a mixture of what is true and what is false.
The Spirit of Truth will enlighten you.
A life without restraints. That’s a dangerous way to live.
During the time of the judges “…everyone did as they saw fit.”
And…the consequence was one moral collapse after another.
Today…many people live their lives in just this way. They do what they want – with little regard for the consequences of their behavior.
Jesus prayed “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” That’s the model to be followed.
At every intersection of life – prayerfully ask – what is God’s will? And you find it outlined in His Word.
Then…you will be living a life with Divine restraints – like guardrails on the freeway.
A life with restraints – that’s the safe way.
Final goodbyes. That is always a difficult time.
So it was when the Ephesian elders said their final goodbye to the Apostle Paul.
“What grieved them most was the statement that they would never see his face again.”
It’s the finality that is painful.
But…the finality is only about the journey on earth.
King David understood this. He prayed earnestly for his infant son. But…it was the Lord’s will to take him. Then David said: “I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”
This is the blessed hope of every believer. There will be a happy reunion in heaven.
Yes…the goodbyes here are painful. But…the anticipation of reunion is cause for great rejoicing.
Final – but only for now.
The cycle of revenge. It ends with people getting hurt.
Samson taunted the Philistines – who at the time had subjugated Judah. The men of Judah asked Samson why he insisted on aggravating the Philistines. “I merely did to them what they did to us.”
That’s the cycle of revenge.
It’s a common occurrence – a person suffers insult…then returns the same. And…it usually increases in intensity.
Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”
That is God’s way to break the cycle of revenge.
Human nature wants to even the score – meet offense with offense.
Instead…return good for evil.
The cycle of revenge can then be broken.