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Uncertainty

book on top of table and body of water
 
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident….5 For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock…. 13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of  the Lord in the land of the living! 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27:1-3, 5, 13-14)
 
I love Psalm 27.  It is a psalm of confidence in the midst of attack.  David writes about armies that attack him, knowing that the Lord will prevail, which is the cause for his confidence.

It seems like we are under attack these days.  Uncertainty concerning the outcome of our national election looms over us.  The uptick in the number of COVID cases and related deaths causes us to become anxious.  The stock market, which houses our retirement income, is fluctuating.  There is continued violence in the streets of many cities. Those are just the painful problems that inflict our world.  In addition to these we are confronted with our personal problems such as family strife, job uncertainty, health concerns, and the like.  Add it all up and it feels like an army encamps against us.

We stress over the future condition of our world, our nation, our community, our family and ourselves.  Anxious hearts are not healthy hearts.  So the Lord calls us to put our trust in Him. 

When it comes to the outcome of our election, I hear some say with angst, “What if Trump gets another four years!”  I hear some say with equal concern, “What if Biden gets into office!”  I hear the Lord say, It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes (Psalm 118:9).  When it comes to concerns over finances, health issues and personal relationships, I hear the Lord say, But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33).

I think Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., put it best when asked about the results of the presidential election.  “God will still be God,” was her reply.  In the midst of your problems, remember that God is still God.  He is still the God who not only gave you life, but redeemed your life through the cross and empty tomb.  He is still the God who promises to be with you always and to use all things in your life for good.  Above all, He is still the God who has prepared a place for you in His heavens.

In the meantime, take the psalmist’s advice and wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
 
Prayer: Lord Jesus, give me patience in the midst of problems.  It is so easy for me to become anxious over the events of the world, especially when they aren’t going my way.  Provide my heart peace, by the renewing of your Holy Spirit.  Remind me that the perfect life I long to live is waiting for me in heaven.  I pray this in Your powerful and peaceful name.  Amen.

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Going Back

brown leather cover bible book
 
“’Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.’  But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?’”  Exodus 3:10-11
 
Going back is the hardest.  You said that you were done and you were never going back. Not to that job, to that school, to that house. You would go forward but never back.
 
And yet, God sometimes turns us back to the place or experience or people we put behind us.  He says, “You’re going back.” He certainly said that to Moses. Moses had left Egypt 40 years ago and he surely had no intention of returning. He tried to persuade God that he couldn’t and shouldn’t go back. He suggested his brother Aaron should go instead.  It boiled down to a simple request: Please don’t send me back.
 
And yet, God sent Moses back to Egypt and provided for him along the way. By the miracles of the plagues, God showed his power and protected Moses. Moses learned that his return to Egypt wasn’t as much for his benefit as it was for the thousands of Israelites who needed him to rescue them.
 
So also you might be serving by going back for the sake of someone else. You’ve found yourself teaching Sunday School again, or serving on a committee that you were sure you’d never see again. But you’re back for the sake of someone else and the work that perhaps only you can do.
 
So go back if and when you must. Don’t close doors behind you too tightly and don’t say, “I’m never doing this again” too loudly.  God might have other plans for you. But they are plans both for your good and for the good of those you serve.
 
Our heavenly Father, we like to close doors and vow we’re never going back. When you need to, take us back to those places and that work which we thought we’d never see again. Remind us that this is not a punishment, but that we’re going back for the good of others and we’re going back with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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What If…?

silhouette of person sitting below cross
 

So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6)
 
It was the most contentious election in the history of the United States of America.  The issues divided the nation.  The news mocked and derided the candidates.  Lines were drawn.  If the election went one way there was sure to be more violence.  Of course, I’m talking about the election of 1864, when Abraham Lincoln faced off against George McClellan and was re-elected as president of our country.

This year’s election was no picnic.  As I write, the results are still not known.  I hear a lot of people asking “What if…?”

What if the “Green New Deal” isn’t engaged…and what if it is?  What if policies cause me to lose my job?  What if the stock market goes down?  What if my taxes go up?  What if there is violence in the streets?  What if the elected president cannot fulfill his term?  What if there are more COVID mandates?  What if this election ends up in the hands of the Supreme Court?  What if…?

“What if” can truly eat us up.  The unknown is frightening.  We like certainty.

  • What if God didn’t love me?  But He does!
  • What if God never sent His Son to save us?  But He did!
  • What if Jesus came into this world, but didn’t take my sin to the cross?  But He did!
  • What if there was nothing else, but this mortal, uncertain life?  But there is!
  • What if I didn’t have faith in Jesus?  But you do!

Because you have faith in Jesus you can weather any challenge that comes your way.  It doesn’t mean that God will make sure your plans are always carried out.  It does mean that He will use all things to bring you closer to Him in faith and closer to others in love.  You can be certain of that!
 
Prayer: King of kings, we pray for those who won their election, asking that they would be given hearts that are inclined to Your will and Your Word.  Give them courage for their duties and strength to carry them out.  Give to our nation peace and unity, that we may live out our freedoms with respect for those who serve us in office and care for our fellow citizens.  We ask this in the name of the One who certainly loves us and prepares a perfect place for us in heaven.  Amen.


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Picking Rocks

brown wooden barn on green grass field under white clouds during daytime
 
But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith. Philippians 1:24-25
 
We picked rocks for a week on our farm every spring.  It was the dullest job imaginable.  You walk all day through the field picking up rocks about the size of a softball. It took us a week to do all the fields. My mother said that if, after 10 minutes of picking rocks, there was anything about this job that either amused you or confused you, then there was something wrong with you.
 
Some jobs just don’t end, though the pleasure of the job left long ago. Service can be doing the same job, for the sake of someone else, over and over again. Paul knew about that. He was in prison when he wrote to the Philippians. He wanted to be done, to die, and be with Christ in heaven, Philippians 1:21-23.  That would be much better than remaining on earth, especially being arrested in Rome.
 
But for the sake of the Philippians and other Christians, Paul stayed. He remained for approximately five more years after this imprisonment. He traveled extensively throughout the Mediterranean, strengthening the churches before his final, martyr’s death.
 
Perhaps your service is like Paul’s and bit like picking rocks. You would be glad to be done, but you keep on for the sake of others. Others might not even know what it is you’re doing for them. That’s all right as the Father in heaven knows what you do. Also you know that the service you do now won’t go on forever. We will, like Paul, be done at some time and depart to be with Christ which is far better. For now, the work goes on. But soon enough, our last job will be done and we’ll be home.

Our heavenly Father, give us the strength and persistence to continue the work that seems to never end. Remind us that we’re doing this for others and for you. Assure us that there is an end in your sight and you will give us eternal rest when you take us to yourself.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Election Day

flag of U.S.A.
 

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
(I Timothy 2:1-4)
 
Tomorrow is a very important day in the life of our nation, our state and our communities.  “Election Day” provides us with the right to join our fellow citizens as we choose those who will lead and govern us.  Not every nation provides its citizens this privilege.

This year it seems there is more conversation concerning the election and the candidates for our nation’s highest office.  Both campaigns label this as the “most important election of our time.”  Polls have attempted to predict the outcome of the election, yet both campaigns remind us that nothing is for certain.

I can, with all certainty, tell you who will win tomorrow’s election!  A SINNER!  Yes, whoever wins the election is a sinner.  This is why St. Paul reminds Timothy and each of us to pray for all who are in high positions.  We need to pray for them because they are sinful. 

  • First of all, we will pray that our president trusts the Lord for his salvation.  Again, Paul writes, This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 
  • Second, we pray that our president will be given the wisdom to conduct the business of our nation that we may, as Paul wrote, lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 
  • Third, we pray that our president would seek the will of the Lord in all matters that will impact our life and living. 
  • Fourth, we pray that our president be given such a spirit that he will govern us with integrity and honor.

Take your faith into the voting booth.  Vote your Christian conscience.  But remember, whoever wins this contest will be your president, whether you voted for him or not.  He needs your prayers. 
 
Prayer: Lift up among us, O Lord, godly men and women to lead and govern our communities and our nation.  Give them such hearts and minds that they would always seek Your will and Your way.  Remind us to pray for these leaders, always commending them into Your precious care and keeping.  I pray this in the name of Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords.  Amen.


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