Category Archives: hope

There is a Day

Proverbs 22:8

He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail.
Those who plant injustice will harvest disaster, and their reign of terror will come to an end. (NLT)

Injustice has been part of our world since the first act of iniquity in the Garden of Eden. The simple act of listening to the wrong voice, resulted in God being disobeyed and had terrible consequences. Adam and Eve were removed from the perfection of the Garden to make their way in a world dirtied by sin. A world in which iniquity and injustice multiplied to the point where we find ourselves today.

But it will end. The reign of terror that began in Genesis will end in Revelation when our Lord Jesus returns. There is a day when He will return and sweep iniquity and injustice aside. He came once. He is coming again. He promised. Hallelujah!

There is a day, that all creation’s waiting for,
A day of freedom and liberation for the earth.
And on that day

The Lord will come to meet His bride,
And when we see Him

In an instant we’ll be changed.


 
The trumpet sounds
And the dead will then be raised
By His power,
Never to perish again.
Once only flesh,
Now clothed with immortality;
Death has now been

Swallowed up in victory.
 
We will meet Him in the air

And then we will be like Him,
For we will see Him, as He is,
Oh yeah!
Then all hurt and pain will cease,
And we’ll be with Him forever,
And in His glory we will live,
Oh yeah, oh yeah!
 
So lift your eyes

To the things as yet unseen,

That will remain now
For all eternity.
Though trouble’s hard

It’s only momentary,
And it’s achieving

Our future glory.
 
(Phatfish)

Well Water (Cool Counsel)

Proverbs 20:5

“Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.”

Well Water

Once when I was on a mission trip to Romania, a few of us spent a couple of days in a little town called Beuj. I remember not having a canteen or thermos (water bottle) to carry with me as we traversed the little roads around a farm in 90+ temperatures. We could only go so far away from a well.

You see, there was this little well in the town. We knew that we could walk a mile or two away, but only a mile or two. Any more and we would die of thirst before we got back. We were walking around handing out Bibles and hymnals, along with invitations to a community service at which I was going to preach. That well water was so cool and refreshing in that summer heat of 1992.

Cool Counsel

well-w-bucketThere is refreshing counsel deep inside a wise man or woman, and there are many dry and thirsty souls who need it. Sadly, many of those would-be wells of wisdom are covered, blocked, or labeled “unworthy” by the wells themselves.

If God has done a work in your life, let the Holy Spirit use you, your past, and your insight. God never wastes a tear. The pain you have gone through may have produced a deep well a struggling soul may need to make it another mile.


A Wounded Spirit Kills

Proverbs 18:14

“The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?”
“A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?” – ESV

Ripped from the Headlines

How was I to know that on the same day I sat down to write this entry [originally written 4/07/13], news of the tragic suicide of Matthew Warren (age 27), Pastor Rick Warren’s son, would be all over the headlines? There was no way I could know, but God did.

After a long, long battle with mental and physical illness, including debilitating depression, Pastor Warren’s son ended his own life in a “momentary wave of despair.” Saddleback Church (where Warren is pastor) said in a statement, “Despite the best health care available, this was an illness that was never fully controlled and the emotional pain resulted in his decision to take his life...”

Doesn’t “momentary wave of despair” sound a lot like “a wounded spirit who can bear?

Strong Willed

There are countless stories of people who struggled through the pain and suffering of debilitating disease and deformity. Their stories inspire us all to be thankful for what we have, even if it is only bare feet – some people have no feet at all.

Not long ago I saw a video of a man who had no arms or legs. At one point it seemed like he had no future, for it seemed impossible for him to accomplish even the most basic tasks of life. Yet, with perseverance and a strong will, not to mention the belief that he “could do all things through Christ,” he has done everything from surf to dance with his wife at their wedding. As a matter of fact, it was this man who nearly brought Rick Warren to tears on a show he appeared on with Oprah Winfrey.

Crushed Spirit

But when a man or woman’s spirit is crushed, when all hope is gone, life becomes very hard to bear. The fact is that plenty of otherwise healthy people die every day from despair.

Solomon knew what many people discover too late: one can have everything, but life without hope is no life at all. Sick people can endure pain for years, but a healthy man can die overnight from a broken, wounded heart.

Hope for the Wounded

The Apostle Paul once said that “if in this life only we have hope…”, then we are sure to be miserable (1 Cor. 15:19). Whether that hope be in Christ, or money, or relationships, or good health; if it is a hope that is only for the here and now, it is pretty much worthless in the long run. Hope that never has a hope of being realized is no hope at all.

But praise God this life isn’t all there is! Job, the most miserably treated man in the Bible, could have given up in despair, but from the ashes of his life he cried out…

“I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes–I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” – Job 19:25-27 NIV

Thank you, O God! Thank you for the Hope we have in You! Bear us up with your Spirit and strengthen our hearts. 


Acquit or Convict?

Proverbs 18:5

“It is not good to accept the person of the wicked, to overthrow the righteous in judgment.”
“It is not right to acquit the guilty or deny justice to the innocent.” – NLT

Legal Precedent

My youngest - an aspiring lawyer - at a mock trial competition.

My youngest – an aspiring lawyer – at a mock trial competition.

It is too hard for me to go back and review the legal history of all mankind, but I would venture to say that poor legal decisions have been made even before the first judge received his mail-order diploma.

Every time we turn on the television or read the newspaper we discover another criminal who has been released, or another innocent victim who has been punished. It’s almost too depressing to watch. Who can forget O. J. Simpson?

Not long ago I read of a man who was sent to prison for 20 years all because he fired a weapon to protect his family. Every day I hear of the elderly losing their homes to pay taxes; of the criminals getting rewarded with large settlements; and of the innumerable politicians who lie and steal with impunity while the taxpayer suffers without recourse. When will it all end?

The Righteous Judge

It is wrong to acquit the guilty. It is even more wrong to punish the innocent. But even though the fools of this world continue to do such things, even bragging about their actions, God’s mercy will not endure forever. He is still the Righteous Judge who will hold all accountable.

“Let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together Before the LORD; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity” (Psalm 98:7-9).

Proverbs 17:15 says, “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.”

There WILL come a day when the scales of justice are balanced.


Roots of Faith

Proverbs 12:3 

“A man shall not be established by wickedness: but the root of the righteous shall not be moved.”
Uprooted

Over the last several years there have been a lot of storms come through where I live. Many of those storms produced very strong winds, even tornadoes.

I hate tornadoes.

But when I look at this proverb, there comes to mind mental images of trees uprooted and blown over, smashing houses, cars, etc. And when I think of those trees, I can remember what they looked like lying on the ground. Huge trees with roots that spread out in every direction – except down.

Trees

When we think of trees, we think of strong, healthy plants that grow tall and impressive. They are symbols of stability. They almost always win when challenged by automobiles, woodpeckers, or lovers with initials to carve.

The wicked and the righteous are both trees; both have leaves, and both have roots. But only one has roots that run deeper than the surface. Only one can stand in a storm.

Roots

The roots of a tree primarily do two things: they bring nourishment from the ground and tie it to the ground. Without roots a tree would die. Without deep roots, a tree could could be toppled by a strong wind.

But strong winds aren’t the only danger trees face; drought can kill a tree with shallow roots. Yet, if a tree has deep roots, it can find the water it needs to survive.  Maybe you will remember the following verse…

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” – Psa. 1:3

Established

But we are not trees, are we? We are people. We don’t have roots; we have faith.

The deeper our root system, the less likely we are to fall over when the storms of life come our way, or when there seems to be little rain of hope.

Wickedness will not produce roots that will hold. Wickedness produces roots that grow outward and just below the surface. They bring in everything needed to grow a beautiful, leafy tree, just not one that can hold on in a gale. Nor can they soak up water from the dry soil when the blessings of God seem to be withheld.

On the other hand, righteousness goes deep and anchors the believer to the solid ground. The roots of faith find refreshment from hidden sources of hope.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit. – Jer. 17:7-8 NKJV

How are your roots?


Be Blessed!

Proverbs 11:10-11

“When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: and when the wicked perish, there is shouting.
By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.”

It’s Not Political

It is so hard to comment on these verses without sounding political. And believe me, as a pastor, the last thing you want to do is sound political – that’s when they start sharpening the blade on the guillotine.

But it should be obvious to anyone who reads these words that there is a connection between morality and a healthy community. It should also be obvious that left to the unrighteous, a city will fall into ruin, if not be overthrown.

Wicked Mouths

Yet, here in America, for example, the Freedom from Religion Foundation  is doing everything it can to strip Christianity from public life. Did you get that? It’s “from” religion, as opposed to “freedom of religion.”

One of the primary objects of attack by the FRF is prayer in public places. Their efforts have resulted in football teams being prohibited from praying before games. They have managed to keep graduating valedictorians from thanking God for their success.  They are even trying to prohibit city, county, and state officials from asking God’s blessing on government meetings. What fools!

Don’t they realize it is by the “blessing of the upright” that the city (or county, or state, or nation) is “exalted?” Yet, the righteous are being forced into silence, while the “mouths of the wicked” broadcast night and day.

“Don’t bless me!”

It wasn’t long ago that few people sued to force employees of different retail stores to quit saying, “Have a blessed day.” They said it made them feel “uncomfortable” to have religion “forced” on them. They said that “a business is no place for religion.” Talk about being hyper-sensitive! These “wicked” people could not stand the thought of being “blessed” by God? Why wouldn’t anyone want to be blessed?!

Sadly, because of government administrations that encourage immorality, the “wicked” have developed a stronger voice with which they have been shouting down the righteous. However, if the peoples of the world would only listen to Solomon, they would spend far less money fighting gangs, crime, drug abuse, violence, abuse, and internal corruption, and more time rejoicing.

If the “cities” and their leaders would only let a few more “upright” bless them, they might not be overthrown.

Have a blessed day!


Unturned

Proverbs 29:18

18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
18 Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law. (ESV)

Writer’s Block

I spent several days writing and re-writing this entry. It could have gone several different ways, and it has. However, in the mean time I attended a Christmas Eve Mass with a Roman Catholic friend.

Sick Churches

There has been a sickness in most churches for a long time.

It does not matter if we are talking about Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, Evangelicals, or any other form of Christianity.

The sickness has many symptoms: a denial of the works of the Holy Spirit, a lack of passion to serve others, a lack of desire to serve others, a lack of passion for the things of God, a lack of a felt need of the things of God, a denial of certain passages of the Bible or truths of God, and on and on.

It is the root cause that is the real issue: the people are not inspired to turn.

Teaching Turning Teaching

For all of the negative things ingrained in many of us raised in Protestant or Evangelical churches, the truth of this passage was revealed during a Roman Catholic Christmas Eve Mass.

The Church comes alive when the Spirit of Truth is free to flow through the people. The problem with many churches is they have a tendency to quench the Spirit.

This is not to say that all of these churches are on the wrong path. It is to say that too many times we try too hard to help God. Sometimes we get too busy to let God work through us. Sometimes we do not trust the promises of God or that His promises are for today … or for “me”.

Sometimes He works through us to get it right.

During the Christmas Eve Mass, we were reminded of some of the prophecies given about the coming Messiah born over 2000 years ago. We were reminded of the promises we have been given in this life. We were reminded of the prophecies of the second coming of Messiah and challenged to believe and share these truths.

We were not guilt-tripped. We were not given a teaching on morality or how to be happier. We were not told to step through certain hoops to accomplish anything.

We were only given the Word of God that transcends time, circumstances, and our understanding.

The Holy Spirit of God was given freedom to move.

All present felt the Word of Life challenge and strengthen us, rebuke yet encourage us, to turn from our selfish desires to pursue His Kingdom and His righteousness.

That is what this verse is talking about today.

Awesome God, give us the vision and understanding to know Your Word. Move by Your Spirit in our lives to seek You and share You with others. Help us to find our fulfillment in You alone!