Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hope-ful Waiting

When, heartsick, hope slips through our fingers, despair squeezes in to take its place. News reports, politics, riots and rage all siphon off hope. Yet beyond what we can see, God's love is active. Unchanged. Unfailing.

We watched Jakob the Liar recently, an intriguing story of hope's medicine in a German concentration camp. It opens with Jakob's futile efforts to grab an elusive newspaper page until, because of curfew, he has to report to the Commandant of the camp.
There he hears a snippet on the news that the Russians are close. The next day he tells his friends and word spreads that Jakob has a radio.

 Their longing for hope precipitates imaginary news. That infuses life as they entertain the idea of freedom. Depression is not now as pervasive. Suicides are held at bay.

Without giving away the story, let me say that, even in horrific times, God's love brings hope. Theirs came as a snippet of radio broadcast and a good dose of imagination. Ours might come in a casual comment, an author’s perspective, or a verse of the day.

Today, Psalm 33 reminded me:

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.
Psalm 33:20-22 (NIV '84)

Waiting -- in hope -- changes the most dismal situation. The circumstances might resist change, but our choice to trust God becomes a shield against depression and despair. Thank God, this is not fanciful thinking. The good news is our King comes to save. His unfailing love rests on us as we hope in Him.

Exhale. And wait hope-fully.


Meditate on Psalm 33:20-22 and listen for the Spirit's insight.

Recall a time when God used a small detail to unlock hope in your life. Ask for more insight about the events, and thank God for His unfailing love that came [comes] to rest on you.



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Grace Gifts

Passionately committed to Jesus Christ, Patti's eyes flash and her smile broadens as she shares insights from scriptures.

Recently, she told me she was praying for me and had her church prayer group praying as well.

To what did I owe that?


We don't even go to the same church. She noticed I needed prayer and did something about it. Her kindness demonstrated the body of Christ at work. One sees a need and the other, who has the capacity to meet that need, responds productively.

 It reminded me how simple things done in love make a big difference. Her expression of love clearly reflected God's care. It reminded me of 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12 which teach that God's grace gifts are for blessing others. That mutuality of interacting the way God designed brings God much pleasure.

When love is genuine and God inspired, it shines a spotlight on God's love. Everyone involved gets to enjoy the fruit of obedience. And we love one another -- and God --  more deeply.


1 Peter 1:22 (NIV)
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.

When was the last time you used one of your spiritual gifts to bless someone? Were you aware of the Christ-like love it engendered? How did it impact your own life?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Revealer of Mysteries

It's an interesting story of crushing circumstances, uncommon integrity, and courageous trust.

King Nebuchadnezzer had called his wise men and asked the impossible: that they describe his troubling dream and interpret it. If they didn't deliver, they wouldn't live.

Only the gods could do that, they said. And the gods didn't live among humankind.

True. Except for the one true God who can reveal mysteries.
Daniel and his friends fasted and pleaded with God to have mercy and give them the answer.

After God revealed the mystery, Daniel was quick to give God thanks and praise (Daniel 2:20-23).

 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you. (Daniel 2:23, NIV)

Sometimes only God can resolve our complicated situations. We do our research and weigh our options, but variables stretch like an endless country road. Our God is with us. He is real and vitally involved in our lives. As we earnestly seek God's wisdom, He will reveal what we need to know.

Trusting Him brings life.


See Jeremiah 33:3, then read Daniel 2.

Where can you see yourself in this story? What can you learn about God? What can you learn from Daniel?

Do you have a mystery that needs God's help?

Notice Daniel's strategy. Have you ever asked others to join you in prayer for a critical situation? Have you ever added fasting with prayer? What kind of insights did you gain?