“This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope. Through the LORD’S mercies we are not consumed…” Lamentations 3:21-22
Want to recall hope together? Then let us recall to mind, as the writer of Lamentations did, the mercies of our God. Perhaps we might need a reminder of what mercy even is because this word seems to be in great decline. It is an amazing exchange of compassion or forgiveness in place of a rightful punishment. According to John 3:16, the whole world is the object of God’s mercy. Some have accepted this exchange and some have not. Those who have accepted should be leading in hope these days. How are we doing?
Because of the Lord’s mercies we do not have to be consumed because we have hope. Because of the guaranteed hope of eternal life, we remind ourselves that this world is not our home. Since we are just journeying through, we do not have to be constantly swayed by the latest reports, stuck in the old way of doing things and withholding love from those we do not agree with. We can march on towards home loving others in our path. We can lend hope where others are running short and share with them our source of hope.
Our smiles might be covered, but we can still communicate hope just fine. Send a note of encouragement, a text reminding others that you love them, meet a need if you get word and be gracious to those closest to you. My husband had to remind me of that last one because today was a day! So keep hanging on to hope because a better day is coming.
“Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15
Who is the “everyone else” this verse is referring? The earlier verses reference brothers and sisters, those who belong to Christ, and that would make “everyone else” those who do not yet know Christ as Savior. How do you think we are doing?
Goodness, so often I cannot even get things right in my own home, much less “strive to do what is good” to those on the outside. The pattern I notice is when I am choosing to worry or be overwhelmed, the good I want to do gets thrown by the wayside. Add in these strange times and this mama does not stand a chance.
However, if we keep reading this chapter, I see a clue to help us all. “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (5:16-18). And there we have it. There is much to rejoice over, much to pray for and an enormous about to be thankful for. In doing so, we will be abiding in God’s will for us. The easy thing, the normal response is to worry, complain and choose sides. I say we go another way. You with me?
“Praise Jesus for a house that’s worn because it’s been hospitable.” Paul Tripp
Paul Tripp posted a short video that I caught today addressing hospitality and it was excellent! He reminded the viewer to see our homes with an eternal perspective. I know I get caught up on what others will think when they walk into our home. Will our home pass some imaginary test of being found worthy and therefore seeing our family as worthy? It is impossible to pass and has nothing to do with eternity. What will matter is how people were made to feel loved and the truth that was lived within our walls.
Tripp gave the reminder that hospitality “targets a deep desire in the heart of every human being.” Everyone wants to be welcomed, known, to be loved and to belong. Our homes can be a great place for us to share the heart of Jesus just by how we treat all who come through the door. Granted right now we are not inviting many people in, but we can be practicing for when the day comes. Sometimes the people that sit at our table everyday need to be shown hospitality first before we ever swing wide our front door.
May we all have much to praise Jesus for during these days and beyond.
“There was a day when I died; died to self, my opinions, preferences, tastes and will; died to the world, its approval or censure; died to blame even of my brethren or friends; and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God.” George Muller
I might have shared this quote by one of my hero’s before, but it seemed fitting today for it simplifies freedom. Imagine what Muller’s life was like when he was not easily offended, chose not to point a finger in blame and lived fully committed to Christ. In living free, he was able to actually see who needed help because of where his eyes were focused. He actually came along side orphans and provide homes for them and built 117 schools. Incredible!
Another secret to this mans life was prayer and he expected each prayer answered. Makes sense when a heart is completely surrendered to the One who made it. Why would his prayers not be answered? A wonderful example happened on a ship when they had encountered fog that would delay their arrival. Muller prayed about the fog and then said, “Captain, I have known my Lord for more than fifty years and there is not one instance that I have failed to have an audience with the King. Get up, Captain, for you will find that the fog has gone.” And it was and the captain became a Christian very soon. How incredible that God used an obstacle of fog and the prayer of a faithful man to draw another person to Himself.
So today as fireworks light the sky, may we consider true freedom. Who knows who or what God will use to draw others to Himself. It is quite possible He might use you if your life dances free in the wind like our American flag. For you can be a symbol of freedom for many.
*Picture from 2014. My how they have grown!
“Encouragement is oxygen for the discouraged soul.” Jennifer Rothschild
The most amazing thing happened while we were in Colorado, my lungs expanded. I am not medically minded at all, so I had to google this to make sure what I felt had indeed happened. The increased elevation required more than I had and my body adapted. Since we have come down from the mountains, I have practiced breathing deep because I do not want to lose what was gained.
Anytime we go through things that require more from us than we have, the Lord can use it for good and glory. Sometimes what feels like a never ending climb up a mountain, can serve as an instrument to shape us more into His image. In His likeness we are better equipped to walk beside others who are starting their own mountain experience or are in a really discouraging place. With our increased capacity, we have extra oxygen to share, to encourage if we are willing. Pretty soon encouraging will come as naturally as breathing. What a beautiful way to live, friends.
“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6
One summer I volunteered at a camp and my job was to help run the go-carts. It was a lot of fun and completely different from my normal. One thing I learned about was something called a governor that kept the cars from going a dangerous speed for the designed track. It was not set to reduce fun, but to optimize the ride for everyone. Reading this verse brought that concept to mind.
We are seeing what governs us during these days, aren’t we? I have been shown places in my heart that were not under the control of the Spirit and I have the fruit to prove it. It is not something to stay stuck over, but to repent and keep going. For us to live as we were made is to be completely controlled by the Holy Spirit, the helper Jesus promised, and to bear much fruit for His kingdom. It is to enjoy being in the presence of our God, unashamed and honest. We need to remember as Christians, “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20).
So what do you say, want to let Him take over and truly come alive?
“But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Mark 9:22
There is so much about this verse that I love. A father comes to Jesus on behalf of his son who was in need of healing. They had gone first to the disciples, but nothing changed. Jesus says to this father, “bring him to me.” (9:19). Can you hear the same words spoken to you as an invitation regarding someone you love?
This precious, desperate father used the word “us” when he was asking for compassion and help. Such love he had for his child. He did not separate himself from his child, but stayed connected and brought him to Jesus. I wonder how he learned the heart deep lesson in compassion?
As a parent and friend, we all have many opportunities to bring others to Jesus. Nothing else is working, human wisdom has failed, we have lost hope of seeing a change… “bring him to me”. Nothing is impossible with Jesus, nothing. What an incredible purpose we can give our time too. He is the true source of healing and His compassion is made evident on the cross. Who will you bring today by prayer or invitation today?
Just reading the words “let down” can automatically sink ones heart. What if I showed you two passages of scripture that might change your reaction? The first is found in the book of Luke and is the response of a fisherman named Simon, who had an unsuccessful night of fishing. Jesus tells him to try again. “But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” (5:5). The obedience of this man, who would later be renamed Peter, was a net full of fish and a career change. The other is found in the same chapter, when a few friends found a creative way to get their paralyzed friend, who was laying on a mat, in front of Jesus. “When they couldn’t find a way in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof, removed some tiles, and let him down in the middle of everyone, right in front of Jesus.” (5:18). Because of the friends faith, the man was healed.
Both of these stories give me hope because in the presence of Jesus everything can change. When we get to the end of ourselves, when we are tired and empty, perhaps this is where Jesus is best seen. We might even be in a place were we need some friends to physically carry us to the feet of Jesus and borrow some of their faith. If that is your case, please let me know and I will gladly come to your side. I have been in both places myself.
Our days are unsure and being let down can turn into despair. Do not let that happen, for your Savior awaits with healing, fullness and purpose. Who knows? Maybe this pandemic will change our hearts and turn us towards people instead of what we can catch on our own. Then we will be better equipped to serve those in need of carrying. Because the last time I checked, there are many people hurting and in need all around us.
“The people I formed for myself will declare my praise.” Isaiah 43:21
Our purpose is clear, we were made to praise God. Praise is what can unify, revive, lead to repentance and restore. “I am the Lord. That is my name, and I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.” (Isaiah 42:8). So the question would be, what is stealing our praise?
We all have areas of sin that lead our hearts to praise another. Sometimes it is ourselves, other times it is our possessions or maybe it is our opinion. It may be acceptable, but that does not make it right.
Imagine if we gathered to praise instead of protest. Would this have a greater impact on the hope of unity in our country? Much is wrong and has been wrong in our country, change is definitely needed. Praise of our God, our Creator would put us all on the same page. Maybe this is were we should start. “Praise our God, all peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard…” (Psalm 66:8). He is worthy of our praise today!
I had the most interesting experience yesterday. I needed a haircut and met a sweet local girl that recommended a no frills hair dresser. I was sold when she said the cost was $25! Walking into the shop was odd because of the whole mask thing, but it is part of it right now. The stylist was kind and did a great job, but that was just a bonus.
He told me my hair was a bit damaged and lacking nutrients. Whatever products I used on them were fine, but the need was not being met. Products were actually sticking to my hair, trying to meet the need of missing nutrients. He warned me of his sales pitch and gave great examples. I countered with how applicable this was to so many things. We discussed relationships and the presence of need in each one. Often people reach for others to meet their needs, but that is far too much pressure to put on a person or created thing. I loved talking with him about my husband and kids, but did not talk about my relationship with Christ. Instead I lived it, but today I will return with written words. For I need to give back the clip he left on my mask.
While he was selling a hair product, I am not. I can hardly wait to tell him about the One who knows each need and meets them in His perfect way. Oh we sure can get into quite a mess when we take matters into our own hands, but when we trust them to Him each is met for our good and His glory. So may I ask that you pray for a kind man in Colorado named Norman? May he come to know the One who will meet his ultimate need of life and salvation.