Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Sorrow’

Grief and Hope

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

~~ 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (KJV)

Grief comes to all of us from time to time. The loss of a friend or family member, loss of a job or precious possession, or wayward children can grieve us. Somehow, I seem always to have known that such grief is temporary – a reflection of our personal emotions at a specific moment in time – not a permanent condition.

It might have been Doctor G. who quoted the phrase “grieve not as them who have no hope.” I was absolutely certain that it came from this passage of scripture. But I could not find those exact words in any of the translations on biblegateway.com. That quote might just have been a paraphrase rather than a quote. At any rate, the sense is certainly from this passage.

Doctor G. stood as godfather at my baptism in the Lutheran church. He was a rock-solid foundation in my life. A spiritually wise man, he taught me many things. But more than that, he infected me with the joy of the Lord and an educated faith in Jesus.

He was a Bible scholar, a student of the word, and a poet. On my twelfth birthday, he gave me a scrapbook which he had put together with his own hands. And he wrote this poem about him and me and heaven. It’s long, so I’ll just quote the pertinent verses here.

You are twelve years old today, dear,
And I’m past seventy-three.
With back to back we’re dreaming,
But it’s different things we see.

You look AT the golden sunrise,
See dream castle in the mist:
It’s the road ahead for you, dear –
Life at its borning best.
___

I look THROUGH the golden sunset,
With its beckoning promise bright
To a day without a sundown,
Where it’s always day – not night.
___

And when you have passed the Sunset
To the day without Sundown,
When Life’s pilgrimage is over,
And you’ve won your victor’s crown;

I’ll be at the gate of heaven,
With glad heart to see you come;
Glad to welcome you, my daughter,
Into our Eternal Home.

~~ HWG

His knowledge of the word and my faith in his always telling me the exact truth – pleasant or unpleasant – gave me the assurance that this life is not all there is. I can grieve a loss, but it doesn’t decimate me.

My friend was the sister in a family with two brothers. She lost first one and then the other. At the funeral of the second brother, I went to hug her. Her grief was not only obvious, but it was painful to see. There was an element of hopelessness in it that I had never seen before. She could not be comforted.

Paul doesn’t say here that we don’t grieve. We simply do not grieve as those people who have no hope of Christ and the resurrection – no hope of heaven.

Father, God,

Grant that we may always keep our eyes upon You, not on the attractions of this world. Let us see with the eternal perspective the ultimate good in Your will, no matter how it looks from an earthly perspective.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

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Hallelujah!

And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.

And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:

And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.  ~~  Luke 24:51-53  (KJV)

After the agony of Good Friday…

After the silence and sorrow of Saturday…

After the amazement and confusion of the empty tomb…

We have the joy and gratitude and wonder of complete and eternal victory!

Father, God,

Help us to be continually in the temple, praising You.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Joy Fruit

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  (Galatians 5: 19-23 – NIV)

Those of us who were raised in a church environment remember the acronym for JOY:  Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last. That’s pretty good, as far as it goes.

You see, joy is a precious commodity. It is more than happiness.  The old English teacher in me ( and my grandmother’s discipline ) send me to the dictionary for understanding.

1 – a :  the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires :  delight

b :  the expression or exhibition of such emotion :  gaiety

2 :  a state of happiness or felicity :  bliss

3 :  a source or cause of delight

Aha!  Joy is an emotion and a state of being. But where does it come from?  It comes from the knowledge of who God is, and who He says we are.
The children of Israel had been in captivity and exile. But the books of Ezra and Nehemiah tell of the return of the Israelites to their homeland, the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the temple. Then Nehemiah read the books of the law to the assembled congregation. The congregation was moved to tears.
Nehemiah 8:10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
The joy of the Lord – the joy that comes from knowing who the Lord is and who He says you are. That foundation is the basis of our joy. We can have joy in the midst of sorrow. We can have joy in the midst of hum-drum. We can have joy at all times as we remember who God is and who He says we are.
Joy is the fruit of keeping our eyes on Him.
Father, God,
Thank you for showing us who we are in You. Thank you for loving us. Help us to love you so much that it spills over onto others.
In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

 

The Prayer Of Jabez

Focus verses: I Chronicles 4:1-23

Many of you will remember Bruce Wilkinson’s little book, The Prayer of Jabez, from nine or ten years ago. This is the passage from which it is taken.

Amid a long chronicle of who ruled where and who succeeded whom, we have Jabez. Lists and records are very important in the life of a nation. We remember who was president when. We think of Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders. We remember WWII and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. We shudder to remember the assassination of JFK in Dallas. The list goes on.

But what is it that make Jabez so special that we interrupt the flow of history to record his prayer?

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. Just what does that mean? Honorable means deserving of respect or upright. But the original word kabad can also mean to bear up under adversity. The name “Jabez” means sorrow in the original. Perhaps he had sorrow as well as causing his mother sorrow during his birth.

Sometimes sorrow is used by the Lord to strengthen His people. While sorrow is not a condition to be desired, sometimes the greatest spiritual growth occurs in our times of sorrow. Then we have only Him to turn to in our grief for no one else can comfort us.

Perhaps we should learn to turn to Him every day – before the sorrow comes. That way when it does come, we will be going to a familiar place – our Father’s arms.

Father, God,

Help us to draw closer to You on a daily basis so that when life hands us sorrow, we have the assurance of Your everlasting arms for comfort.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.