“This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”(Psalm 118:24) I don’t know what you have planned for today, or whether you circumstances are good or bad. Even so this verse sets the tone for our days. Whether good or bad we are assured that the Lord is not far off. He is a part of our days with wisdom, guidance, strength, and help. This Psalm is also part of the messianic psalms. Just two verses before this one is the verse Jesus applied to Himself when talking to the Jewish leaders. “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone.” Jesus is our Chief Corner Stone in all times and in all situations. He is the Rock on which we stand and in whom we have hope. You may want to take time to read all of Psalm 118. It is certainly a good one for each day.
We live in a very fearful world. We face illness, disease, natural disasters, financial stresses, environmental concerns, the evils that men do to one another, and more.The news media brings us a constant flow of bad reports. We feel relatively safe within our homes and communities, but keep a caution eye out for trouble. The biblical world was equally uncertain for the course of a human life. Yet it was to that world, and ours, that Scripture speaks. God spoke through Isaiah, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”(41:10) Jesus, Almighty God incarnate, came among us to share this fearful life, and to break the power of death for all time. He taught us of God’s Kingdom, a realm beyond fear, a realm that we share even now through faith in Him. We will still face many fearful things throughout our years, but in Jesus Christ we know that those things are not the final word. In Him we have strength to endure. Paul encourages us saying, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 4:6-7)
There is an account in Genesis 28 of the patriarch Jacob traveling toward his ancestral home in Haran. He spends a night out in open country and has a dream in which God blesses him. Upon awakening he is amazed, declares the place to be the House of God, and makes a vow. He says, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the LORD will be my God.”(Vss.20-21) It really is a terrible vow. He is telling God that you must do this, this, and this for me if you want me to follow you. But I wonder if that is not also the thinking behind the modern day question of how could a good God allow such and such a tragedy to happen? We expect God to bless us. We put parameters around what we think is a blessing. But we are dealing with a sovereign God, a God who see life far beyond our meager view. We are also dealing with a God, our God, who has both declared and demonstrated His love for us in Jesus Christ. He is working for the good of His creation, and for our good, far beyond our capacity to understand. “In quietness and trust is our strength.”(Isaiah 30:15)
The Tabernacle was the worship center that the people of Israel carried along with them on their journey out of Egypt on their way to the Promised Land. God gave Moses the extremely detailed plan for the Tabernacle when he was on Mt. Sinai. The detail was so great that it takes about 16 chapter of the Old Testament to fully describe it. Reading it seems tedious, and rather useless for us, but it really is not. Even as Jesus told many parables pointing to truths that were far deeper, so the things that God establishes are intended to teach and ultimately to bring us nearer to Himself. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made,…”(Romans 1:20) This challenges us to observe, to think, and to pray. From marriage and family, to the natural world around us, to a look into the cosmos, it is all touched by God’s hand and speaks of things that help to understand Him more fully. Oh the wideness of God’s grace and the depth of His love!
“I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.”(Psalm 18:1-3) David gives us a wonderful prayer of trust in this Psalm. He is clear in saying that life is a struggle. There are many battles and enemies to the point where he feels overwhelmed, but the Lord is always there, bringing him through to life. This is our trust in all times, and all conditions. Life in our fallen world is not easy. There are many things that try to separate us from our trust in the Lord. Circumstances don’t turn out as we would like, or even as we can understand. Yet, God is there. He is our rock, our fortress, and our deliverer. He is worthy of our praise in all times, and our praise turn the eyes of our heart to Him.
On Jan 10, 2019 1:13 PM, "IRVIN STAPF" <istapf> wrote:
My most sincere thanks to all of you for your love and prayers. It is now 4:45AM. I am in my room and have slept for the past 7 hours. I am not in any discomfort except that my mouth is dry. I’m sorry to make this such a personal message. I don’t like being at the center of attention, but there is a real witness to the Lord’s goodness here. I love the Lord’s sense of humor! On the wall facing my bed is a white board with the names of the nurses attending me, and the plan for the day. When I awoke a little while ago the very first name I saw was that of the Charge Nurse – JOY! God is so good. Not all circumstances or outcomes are good, but that doesn’t change the goodness of our gracious Lord. "Rejoice in the Lord always. And again I will say rejoice." My love, and above all God’s love to each of you dear readers. Stay blessed in the Lord Jesus Christ.
My most sincere thanks to all of you for your love and prayers. It is now 4:45AM. I am in my room and have slept for the past 7 hours. I am not in any discomfort except that my mouth is dry. I’m sorry to make this such a personal message. I don’t like being at the center of attention, but there is a real witness to the Lord’s goodness here. I love the Lord’s sense of humor! On the wall facing my bed is a white board with the names of the nurses attending me, and the plan for the day. When I awoke a little while ago the very first name I saw was that of the Charge Nurse – JOY! God is so good. Not all circumstances or outcomes are good, but that doesn’t change the goodness of our gracious Lord. “Rejoice in the Lord always. And again I will say rejoice.” My love, and above all God’s love to each of you dear readers. Stay blessed in the Lord Jesus Christ.
We don’t have to look far to know that we are in a broken world. The trials and pains of life come to all of us. It is how we deal with them that matters. And I must readily admit that I don’t always deal with them in the right way. I am not a good patient when I face some pain. I took a fall last week that wrenched my back. It is painful when I move and have to use a walker to get around. I don’t like not being able to get up and go. Which leads to frustration, etc. etc. etc. I said I’m not a good patient. I often wake up with the verse of some song playing in my mind. This morning it was a reminder that I needed. It was an Easter song highlighting the events of the cross and empty tomb. “Then came the morning.”
Then came the morning
shadows vanished before the sun
death had lost and life had won
the morning had come.
This is the assurance we have. This is the message of the Gospel. God has come to share our burdens and to redeem us from the power of sin, death, and the devil. We have that assurance in the empty tomb. The morning has come, and with that truth we have the assurance that it will come for each us. I’m still not a good patient, but whatever I go through today is not the final word. My present pain will ease up, but more importantly we live the daily hope that in Christ all things shall be made new. Including our broken bodies.
In the eighth chapter of St. Matthew there is the account of Jesus’ encounter with two demon possessed men. The demons, of course, recognized Him and begged to be sent into a nearby heard of swine when He cast them out. He did, and the swine rushed down the hillside and were drowned. When the town’s people heard of it, rather than rejoicing over the healing of the two men, and bring others to be healed as happened elsewhere, they begged Jesus to leave their district. Sometimes Jesus is too much! He is too disturbing of our way of life. People get caught up in their own plans, their own lifestyle. Jesus just upsets too much. It doesn’t make sense. This is why Jesus was always looking for humility, and the trusting faith of a child. Ones who were willing to put themselves in His hands even when it was disturbing and didn’t make sense. “To all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12) And that really is far better than anything we might let stand in the way.
A man and his wife were vacation in Indonesia. He was standing on the beach taking photos of a volcanic island off shore. Suddenly he saw a wall of water rolling in across the bay. He had to turn and flee inland to save his life. Things can happen in just that manner. Some shepherds were sitting around the evenings campfire guarding their flock on a normal day like hundreds of other days before it. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared to them announcing the birth a baby, a very special baby, in the nearby village of Bethlehem. The lives of the mother and father of that baby had been turned completely around by the announcement of that unexpected birth. And that child, the Lord Jesus Christ, when grown promised that He would be coming again suddenly and unexpectedly to complete God’s plan for mankind. How does one prepare for such sudden and unexpected events? I don’t know that there is a particular preparation for a tsunami, but a life lived in a humble and trusting relationship with the Lord is the daily preparation to which we are all called.