Christian Devotions

Archive for the ‘Tragedy’ Category

Be Still and Know

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.

Selah.

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Selah.

Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.

He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Selah.

~~ Psalm 46 (KJV)

David’s psalms carry us through the diversities and adversities of life. He touches all the seasons from elation and praise to persecution and despair. This psalm, however, shows us the power.

In the aftermath of a family tragedy, people would say to me “You’re so strong. I don’t see how you do it.”

And my answer was “I’m not strong. I simply know where to lean and that makes me look strong.” This is where you lean. On God. No matter what is going on around you, remember Him. Look to Him. Lean on Him.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Be still. Quiet your heart; cease striving. It all adds up to getting your heart and mind quiet enough to hear His small whispers clearly enough to heed them.

Be still… Even when chaos seems to reign, God is still in charge. He is the salvation we need so desperately.

Look at His awesome power. Look at the detailed care He takes in creation. Look at His power over the actions and affairs of men.

Truly every knee shall bow before Him. Praise His name.

Father, God,

Thank You for speaking to us in the stillness. Help us to quell our fears and calm our excitements to be able to hear You better.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

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Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

~~  2 Corinthians: 1:3-4 (KJV)

“Who comforts us in all our troubles…”  This particular passage seems to expect that we will all have troubles in our lives. It states troubles as a foregone conclusion, not just a remote possibility.

So often we ask why. Why did this happen? What use are we to make of it? This verse tells us exactly why. We go through troubles in order to comfort others who are going through troubles.

Our God is a God of compassion – not pity – compassion. The root of compassion is patio, meaning to bear or suffer and the prefix com meaning together or with.

The current definition is:  sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.

Yesterday, I visited the local funeral home to grieve with and offer comfort to a family who had lost an infant.

We do not understand why we lose infants and children. It matters not whether the immediate cause was disease, accident or murder. The loss of a child is the loss of a future, the loss of a hope.

There will forever be a blank, open, hurting space in our hearts. We do not “get over” this kind of loss. We simply learn to live in an altered universe.

The one constant in our universe is God. No matter the trouble, the hurt, the grief, He is always ready to hold us near to His heart. When bad things happen, we can always turn to Him. He is always there, loving us, bearing with us through everything.

Father, God,

Help us to remember that nothing happens to us without Your foreknowledge, that You are never surprised by circumstance. Remind us that You are our refuge and our strength at all times, no matter what happens to us and around us. Grant us the wisdom to turn to You, not trying to fix things by ourselves. Help us to understand Your love so that we can extend that same kind of love to others.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

 

Tell Me Again When This Was Written

For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the Lord of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.
Ye have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?  ~~  Malachi 2:16-17   (KJV)

The second chapter of the book of Malachi is a snapshot of our world today. It talks about three important things: the teaching of the priests, the sanctity of marriage, and fidelity to God’s standards.

Let us start with the priests – or the religious teachers. In Malachi’s prophecy, God chastises them for profaning the altar, from turning from God’s teachings, and causing many to stumble. Unfortunately, we have many religious leaders who do the same today. We have the hate mongers practicing their own brand of hate-filled religion in the name of the Lord. We have teachers who teach God’s love – but not His righteousness, power, or judgment. We have others who use the Lord’s house and attendance there to further their political or business ambitions.

We are profaning the altar of the Lord and leading others astray.

Then there is the state of marriage and the family.

Sometimes tragic situations come from marriages when the two parties do not worship the same God. God is not Allah, nor Buddah, nor any of the other names people give their deities. Intermarriage in this passage is talking about marriage between two people who believe in different gods. And it talks about breaking faith with the wife of your youth. You see, God instituted marriage. When a person breaks faith with the marriage, he is also breaking faith with God.

I think, however, that this last verse in the chapter may be the most pertinent. We weary the Lord when we call evil good, and good evil. But we have done just that. Beginning with the Humanist Manifesto, we have tried to displace God in our world and our lives. Our some of our educators are trained with those values, and many of our schoolrooms are filled with those ideas. We have tried to make man the measure of all things. It is false and wrong. And just like the original sin in the Garden of Eden, it springs from an arrogance of the intellect.

Lord, deliver us from such arrogance!

Father, God,

You chastise us with these words. Help us to look carefully at our lives and motives and judge them by these standards. Give us the wisdom and grace to correct our failings insofar as is within our capabilities, and to rely upon You to make up for our shortcomings.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

The Sacrifice of Praise

I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.   ~~  Psalm 138:1-3  (KJV)

If you have never experienced difficulty or tragedy in your life, you are among the very few. Most of us will go through turmoil and trouble at some point or at several points in our lives.

How you handle that trouble comes from who you are at heart. If your heart is set upon the Lord, you will spend as much time praising Him as asking for help.

Our lives may not be happy at all times, but we can still be joyous. As we look at God and Who He Is, there is every reason for a deep-seated, pervasive joy. That joy is multiplied when we praise Him in the midst of circumstances that are not in themselves joyous.

That is the definition of “sacrifice of praise“. We praise Him in spite of circumstances, not because of them. Who He Is and His power are the source of our joy.  He lives in the praises of His people.

But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.  ~~ Psalm 22:3  (KJV)

When the day is black and circumstances are dire, we can praise Him for Who He Is and all He has done for us. This sacrifice of praise brings us closer to Him, focuses our attention on Him rather than the momentary circumstances of our lives.

Nothing surprises God. He knows all that will happen before it occurs. He knows us – knew who we would be before he called us forth. We can trust Him with everything.

Father, God,

Help us to remember that You are our only security in this uncertain world. Grant us the faith to see You in all circumstances rather than focusing on the distracting machinations of the enemy. Let us praise You with a full heart of gratitude for all You have done for us.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

The God Who Sees

And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me? ~~ Genesis 14: 16  (KJV)

The local news tonight is full of a man who went on a rampage in a small community in south central Kansas, shooting people at his place of employment.  Incidents of this kind leave us shaking our heads and wondering what happened to cause this. And we wonder if God sees and cares.

The scripture above relates to Hagar. If you don’t remember her story, read Genesis 14 and 16. She was mistreated and ran away from her mistress. The story is a testament to how we mess things up when we don’t wait on God’s timing. But I digress.

The answer to our question above is yes, God sees. And yes, He cares. God loves each of the victims of this terrible incident.

Because there were multiple fatalities as well as more than a dozen injured, there are many households in extreme distress and grief. God is also grieved.

God is grieved because He loves us – all of us. He loves each of the victims and every member of their families. But He also loves the shooter.

If you are a parent, you know how distressed you are when your child misbehaves. Your distress escalates as your child’s misbehavior becomes more serious. Imagine if the shooter were your child. How would you feel?  Those emotions are not foreign to God. Because His love is infinite,  His grief may be just as infinite.

Imagine that your child left home and did not communicate with you again. Ever. Years pass, and this child’s place is empty. Eventually, you no longer know if the child is alive or dead. He or she has simply evaporated from your life. What kind of hole does that leave in your heart?

When people turn their backs on God and denigrate the gift of salvation bought with the blood of Christ, God is grieved.  John 3:16 says “God so loved the world…”  It doesn’t say God loved everyone in the world who loved Him. It says the world – no exceptions. That includes those who have turned their backs on Him and create havoc in the lives of others.

God will hold and help and console the victims of tragedy and all the family members involved. If He can see a fleeing handmaiden in the desert, He can see people at work.  He never leaves, never changes, never quits loving.

When we say He loves, we do not say He condones wrong behavior. He does not condone. Nor does He mitigate the natural consequences of our behavior.

 For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: ~~ Hosea 8:7a (KJV)

We live today with the consequences of Sarah’s jumping the gun on God. And we will live with the consequences of this shooter’s choices. There is no circumstance so dire or heinous that God cannot use for good.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. ~~ Romans 8:28 (KJV)

We may never know this side of Eternity what good came from an incident like this one. But God will use this. Perhaps someone who was ignoring God will come to Him.

I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. ~~ Luke 15:7 (KJV)

These are the words of Jesus. They remind us that God loves sinners.  Good news for all of us because we are all sinners.

Father,  God,

We ask your presence with all who were touched by this tragedy. Teach us Your love and give us hearts to grow closer to you.  Help us to replicate Your love in this sinful world.

In Jesus’ most precious name,

Amen.