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The Promise of Light in Darkness

July 18th, 2018

How long, O LORD? Will you hide yourself forever?
How long will your wrath burn like fire?
Remember how short my time is!
For what vanity you have created all the children of man!
What man can live and never see death?
Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah (Psalm 89:46-48 ESV)

The author was nearing the end of his life and as such was petitioning God for his own needs and desires. We do not need to search very hard to see the thoughts of his heart, for he was abundantly clear with his words He felt all alone, that God had hidden Himself, that life was too short, that life’s shortness seems to even mock us. We are scarcely born and we are quickly looking at the end of our days.

But we gain encouragement realizing that all of these questions are answered graciously and encouragingly in the grace of the New Testament. Life does not end at our physical death. We live on in Christ – not merely through the memories of those who knew us and whose lives we have touched, but we live on consciously in eternity.

Is life a riddle and its purpose too illusive? It need not be to the Christian for we learn from scripture why we are created and what we are to do with our lives. We are made for God:

Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. (Psalm 100:3)

And we are redeemed in Christ from sin, from purposelessness, and even from this decaying body. We are forgiven, called to know Him and to serve Him, and promised that at death we enter into eternity with Him. “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). “I have come that they might have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10b). “And this is eternal life that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).

Throw off the skeptic’s garb and embrace God in faith, and Christ in His love for you. Let the Spirit fill you with eternal hope and joy. Look up at His love, not down at your problems. All of our problems are temporary but God’s love and our life in Him is eternal.

Daily Devotions, Dealing with Difficulties, Psalms

Faith in the Father

July 16th, 2018

Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like streams in the Negeb!
Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him. (Psalm 126:4-6 ESV)

The Negeb is the arid wilderness of Israel that, even though it is desert, still receives rain that results in lively streams, and surprising wildlife still exists under those conditions – frogs and unique species of aquatic animals that seem to defy the pervasive dryness and spring to life when there is rain.

The Christian is like this, that despite how dry things seem to be we still live with confidence in the goodness of our Father who will bless us abundantly in His right timing. If a random species of amphibian life can pin its entire existence on the spring rains that cause streams to flow in the desert, we, too, may be hopeful in times of dryness, whether it is material adversity, or a spiritual drought. Bad times do not last forever, and God will bless us abundantly in His timing. We must simply believe, faithfully work, and patiently wait.

The same is true for service and witness. Though there may be seasons of dry response to our ministry, do not despair. God will bring a harvest of souls in His timing. Rarely does it seem to happen that the response of this world to the gospel is steadily consistent. The more common experience is that it comes in waves, when there is great response, and then in trickles, where there is little response. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9). Faith is the inner evidence of the heart of things hoped for (Heb. 11:1).

And there is a reason the Father has allows seasons of dryness. All things happen by His permission. Some spiritual dryness exists because we have ceased to plant the Word in people’s lives. Perhaps we have failed to witness or pray. But sometimes the response is just not there despite our faithfulness. Here is also a time where trust in the Father is imperative.

Oswald Chambers wrote:

There are times, says Jesus, when God cannot lift the darkness from you, but trust Him. God will appear like an unkind friend, but He is not; He will appear like an unnatural Father, but He is not; He will appear like an unjust judge, but He is not. Keep the notion of the mind of God behind all things strong and growing. Nothing happens in any particular unless God’s will is behind it, therefore you can rest in perfect confidence in Him. Prayer is not only asking, but an attitude of mind which produces the atmosphere in which asking is perfectly natural. “Ask, and it shall be given you.”

 

 

 

Daily Devotions, Psalms