Tag Archives: hope

The tree in me

Walking to work the other day, I spotted an old tree that captured my attention standing against the backdrop of the breaking dawn.  I couldn’t resist snapping a picture.  Later, I felt compelled to garnish the image with a few inspiring words.

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The tree in Me

I stretch out my arms,
lifting them to the sky.
Even as events happen
I don’t understand why.

Aging boughs creak, groan,
swaying in an angry wind.
Hope arises in the morning
when the sun warms my limbs.

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Trustworthy: 2

Continuing with my mediation on the word trustworthy, I see tension in this image. Can you?  Some embrace the message, in God we trust, while would rather rely on the currency itself.  But which offers true security?  Which one is worthy of our trust?

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Psalm 119:97-120 Find time alone with God

What is it about God’s Word that the psalmist is so enamored with?  Answer: he has a personal relationship with God.  If we were to characterize this relationship as a two-way street, one side is the psalmist’s side of the street lined with worldly buildings and distractions, and the other, God’s side of the street.  So what is it about God’s side of the street that makes the psalmist want to cross over and devote himself completely? (Hint: did you have a best friend in your youth?  Was being able to stay at their house the best and most exciting thing ever?)

book-863418_960_720These three stanzas of Psalm 119 highlight the importance of finding time alone with God in prayer and Bible study.

(97) Your law – The God given Law is found in the Old Testament.  God have us his son, Jesus, in the New Testament.  The Word became flesh and lived among us (John 1:14).  (98) Makes me wiser – the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10).  (99) I have more insight – those who sit at the feet of Christ often have more insight than Doctors of Divinity (Charles Spurgeon).  (100) I have more understanding – Trust in God with your heart and don’t rely on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).  A regular time of private devotion also yields guidance (101), learning (102), and a hunger for more (103); an example being to your favorite food that tastes so good you can’t get enough of it.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.  Psalm 119:105

In the next stanza God’s word lights my path (105), preserves my life (107), is my heritage  (111), and gives me hope (112).  If so much joy and happiness can be found spending time alone with God, why would we ever want to return to our worldly side of the street?  Spurgeon reminds us that, “We are walkers through the city of this world, and we are often called to go out into the darkness; let us never venture there without the light-giving word.”

The third stanza uses language one would find of a war being carried out in enemy territory.  (113) I hate double-minded people (frivolous, indulgent, worldly thinkers).  (114) God is our refuge and shield.  We must remember to wear the whole armor of God against the enemy (Ephesians 6).  (116) God’s word sustains and upholds us and is proven. (120) He alone is the right (true) one to worship.

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Matt Chandler offers three points for those who have a relationship with God, addressing our need to find alone time with him.  (1) Staying connected carries us through life’s ups and downs.  (2) When we remain near to God, it leads to a sustaining love. (3) We produce fruit when we stay connected.  Staying connected allows us to be transformed by him (Romans 12:1,2) and enables us to make a difference in the world in which we live (our side of the street).

“We are walkers through the city of this world, and we are often called to go out into the darkness; let us never venture there without the light-giving word.” C. Spurgeon

Psalm 119:81-96 Trust in the God of Hope

What do you do when a trial or threat you are facing wakes you up in the middle of the night?  Your mental, physical or emotional stability is hanging by a thread.  Do you get up out of bed and go to your safe, pull out a stack of bills and start counting your money?  Does that give you comfort? Do you pull out a prized collection and handle the objects of your desire for relief? Or, do you close your weary eyes and sing with all your heart, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”  What, or who, do you place your hope in?

questions-1922477_960_720This stanza appears to describe one of the psalmist’s seasons in the life; he is in a place so dark and desperate, a place where none of us wants to go, let alone think about.  My soul faints (v81); my eyes fail (v82). Whatever it is we put our hope in better be big enough, sure enough, true enough, strong enough, to bring us back from the brink.  (Remember: God is my portion in Psalm 119:57)

(v83) Wineskin in the smoke – Empty wine skins were strung up in tents.  The fire in the tent turned the skins black and sooty and caused them to wrinkle and shrivel, rendering them useless.  Are there times when you feel useless?

(v84) How long must I wait – We need to remind ourselves that God never tires of us asking him (Isaiah 40:28-31).

(v86) Your commandments are faithful – unlike the society in which we function, we don’t have to learn some new software or worry about something we learned being obsolete.  God’s truth is able to meet any present or future need.

(v88) The word of God is a life preserver – the living word of God speaks to us when we need it.  Jesus has saved us by the power of the cross (John 1:14 the word [of God] became flesh and lived among us).

If the previous stanza portrays the psalmist as being at the brink of ruin, this stanza is filled with great certainties. Derek Kidner reminds us that God and his commandments extend beyond the limits found in the world in which we live.

(v89) God’s word is eternal; (v90) he is faithful; (v92) your word saved me (don’t forget to stand on the promises found in scripture).

(v96) There is a limit to perfection we see in our world – a confusing verse but consider that in any situation we deem “perfect” such as witnessing a perfect sunset or a picturesque fall day, there will always be a limit to how long it will endure. Contrast this thought with:  But your commands are boundless – There is a spiritual (eternal) side to everything we experience that can only be truly be satisfied by God’s word (a.k.a Jesus Christ)

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Matt Chandler in his video series on Psalm 119 stresses that there is hope found in God’s word.  It is a deep hope based on God being enough regardless of life’s circumstances.  Hope is not crossing our fingers, it is placing our trust in the God of the universe.  Finally, rejuvenation can be found for those who place their trust in God.

Loneliness

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This week’s quote affirms a dog’s willingness and capability to address one of our most basic needs–companionship.  Canine companionship, however, has one major limitation, it doesn’t last forever.  A dog’s presence in our life, however, does point to an everlasting companion.

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NLT

A fourth key to happiness

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A fourth key to happiness, in my opinion, involves viewing the life we live as a beautiful painting. Each person creates their own over the course of their lifetime.  If we experience no hardships, oppression, financial struggles, loneliness, or heartaches, our painting would be a blank canvas, devoid of composition.

It’s the dark lines of struggle, which create the composition and define the boundaries of color. Those colors range from dark and gloomy trials to bright colors of joy, happiness and hope. Together, they make our painting beautiful and desirable to those who love us.

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Consider the work of God; For who can make straight what He has made crooked?  In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider:  surely God has appointed the one as well as the other…Ecclesiastes 7:13-14