Have you ever had one of those mornings? You know the kind. The alarm doesn’t go off so you wake early in and in a panic. You can’t shave properly because you run out of shaving cream. The Keurig sprays coffee all over the cabinet instead of it streaming into your cup. Added to that are the even bigger difficulties of health, finances, relationships, and temptations.
The Psalmist knew that feeling and wrote of it in Psalm 25:16-17:
“16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.” ESV
There are times in which we feel lonely and afflicted from all sides. In those times of distress, remember that we have a loving Father who will rescue us by His grace. Jesus promised to never leave us alone. At times, difficulties can steal our focus and seemingly be insurmountable, but He is with us. Like the Psalmist, in those moments, we need to remember to cry out Him.
Notice the requests in this text. Turn to me, be gracious to me, and bring me out of my distress. When we turn to God, He puts it back into perspective. What seemed overwhelming shrinks back to its proper place.
I am writing this on my laptop. It was a great laptop a few years ago. Unfortunately, time has taken its toll. Several keys are missing, but the switch under the label is still there, so that isn’t the worst problem. Recently, some keys have uit working all together. (See, the missing “q”?) To get that letter, I must find it on another site or document and copy it into this one. Now other keys are getting slow to respond. Thankfully, I have a new keyboard on the way and will soon be typing without those hassles.
As I think about it, I wonder if that I how God feels when using us to impact our world? He wants to send a message of love and to so serve fallen humanity. Unfortunately, we too sometimes garble the message. In dealing with our own sin nature, we send the wrong signal. The amazing thing is that He uses us anyway! You know, in some ways it is like my keyboard replacement. God fixes the brokenness and as He conforms us to His image, we are made new. The more He has shaped us, the more clearly we can show His love to others.
Maybe that is part of what Paul meant in 2 Corinthians 5:17
“17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” ESV.
I’m grateful that God doesn’t give up on us. In the meantime, I’m going to look at the tracking information on my keyboard!
Spring brings the dreaded testing season in Texas’ public schools. Every year, our staff and students are confined from 4-5 hours per test to give a so called standardized test. The students much pass to move on in many cases and in high school must pass in order to graduate. Even the schools are assigned a grade based on students scores. The odd thing is that a simple passing % such as 70 isn’t the way it is scored. After all have taken the test and the difficulty of each uetion is analyzed they assign it a point value. They then tally the points set a score deemed passing by how many points are earned. In other words, they make a standard after they can see the results! Each version of the test through the years has been more difficult and filled with trickier questions. In fact, much time must be spent on how to spot wrong answers to eliminate them instead of teaching the curriculum. The whole system feels punitive and designed to increase failures rather than having any real benefit for the students.
We face a different kind of testing season in our spiritual lives. God allows us to face trials and troubles which test our faith. He discussed this in James 1:2-4, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Notice the purpose of the trials. They are to produce steadfastness. Our growth is the aim of the tests which God allows. He is working to strengthen us. In the end, rather than assigning a grade to us, He is building us until we become “complete, lacking in nothing”. He is equipping us to serve Him for His honor and glory.
So count it all joy when you face trials in the knowledge that God is working to make you all He wants you to be.
I was sitting on the deck in my new furniture (Thanks Craft Baptist Church!) and enjoying a fine spring morning. As birds welcomed the new dawn, the sun filtered through every shade of green imaginable. It seems everyone loves spring. The dreary dead winter is ending and the world is bursting forth in new life. At the same time, it brings its own share of troubles. The beauty of the flowers and trees have brought with them spikes in the pollen counts. Some of the new life emerging are mosquitoes and fire ants. Spring storms are rolling through with sudden fury. Along with the beauty, come reminders of the brokenness of our world.
It wasn’t always that way. When God created Earth, He made a special place for Adam and Eve. This paradise of creation was in perfect harmony. Imagine bees without stings, roses without thorns, and life without death. But sin broke that. Adam and Eve brought death into the world through their sin and have passed that to us. The ramifications of that act still reverberate to this day.
The good news is that it will not always be that way! God will restore the brokenness in human existence and all of creation. Paul spoke of this in Romans chapter 8.
“22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?” Romans 8:22-24
Last Sunday, we celebrated our Savior’s resurrection. Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins and rose again as the down payment of the future restoration of creation and eternal life to all who are in Him. We have hope for the future. We live to make things better now, and know that ultimately He will restore creation to its former glory.
For now we enjoy the rose and avoid the thorn and sneeze our way through the beauty of spring, but remember, the restoration is coming! Don’t lose hope.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “The darkest hour is just before dawn.”? The disciples felt that they were in the darkest hours imaginable in the hours before dawn on the first day of the week after Jesus was crucified. They had just gone through the worst of all weeks. That had gone from the high of the triumphant entry on Palm Sunday, to the kangaroo court which condemned Him and the cruelty of the cross all in one week. They had rushed His burial in the moments before Sabbath had begun. To the world, it looked like it was over. Jesus was dead. Now that the Sabbath had ended and the only thing left was for the disciples to finish the job of properly burying Jesus as they wondered what would happen to them.
Then came the morning. A group of devout women dared to return to the tomb with spices to finish the burial rituals with Jesus. Let’s pick up the account in Luke 24:2-7.
“And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.’” ESV
He is not here, but has risen! Those words change it all. Because He rose, He still lives and actively keeps all His promises. He saves all who call upon Him in repentance, He is preparing a home for God’s children, and He will come and take us home.
Today is Easter. Celebrate our risen Lord!