Hope in the Midst of Chaos

In a world facing uncertain times, people need hope now more than ever. We all want to know that everything is going to be OK, but sometimes that’s easier said than done. Hope can be difficult to find when life seems to be caving in and all hell is breaking out around you.

So what does this mean for us? It means we must find God’s hope amid the chaos and uncertainty of the times. We need to be able to say as David did, “I have set the LORD always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved” (Psalm 16:8).  This means hope must be more than a nice theory—it must be reality for us.

The Lord is our strength and confidence, our Rock in times of trouble. Although He never pretended life would be easy, He gave us this great promise in that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”~ Psalm 46:1

Prayer at the United States Conference-Catholic Bishops

Wake me up Lord, so that the evil of racism
finds no home within me.
Keep watch over my heart Lord,
and remove from me any barriers to your grace,
that may oppress and offend my brothers and sisters.
Fill my spirit Lord, so that I may give
services of justice and peace.
Clear my mind Lord, and use it for your glory.
And finally, remind us Lord that you said,
"blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God." ~ Amen.  

GOD'S PERFECT TIMING

“Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” John 11:1-6 (ESV)

Have you ever wondered why God delays intervention? Perhaps you felt He was holding out on you or doesn’t love you, otherwise He would’ve stepped in and saved the day already. This is exactly what Martha wondered after her brother Lazarus had been dead for four days. But it was exactly what Christ intended. 

Right after He heard his friend was very ill, John says that because Jesus loved Lazarus, Jesus waited two more days before going to see him. It sounds like an oxymoron. When someone you love is deathly ill, you go to see him as quickly as possible. But no, Christ had a far greater plan. He knew that if He waited until Lazarus was dead, the glory that would come from the situation would be much greater than if He had healed Lazarus while alive. Christ had a purpose for the delay. It was a marvelous purpose, though appearances deceived others to believe otherwise.

Sometimes we feel that God will give us what we desire or feel we need, because God is all-loving and would never withhold good things from us. Yet we don’t realize that sometimes waiting, suffering, and hardship produces an even better and greater outcome, far beyond what we expect or see with the eye. We cannot see God working behind the scenes, but we know from His Word that His will is best. We must always remember that when God tells us to wait, He does so because He loves us.

Dear Lord, help us to walk by faith and understand your will is much better than ours. Give us the strength to trust in you throughout all circumstances. Amen.

Devotional by ASHLEA MASSIE, FEBRUARY 22ND, 2014 

Vital Uptake 

Let’s begin with a definition.

Uptake: “An act or instance of absorbing and incorporating especially into a living organism.”

Jeremiah 17:5-9 which reads in part:

"But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."

God describes those who trust in Him like trees planted by water. He uses the picture of a tree’s roots drilling down to where the water is.

In the words of Jeremiah, the heat has arrived. It may even continue into a drought.

However, for those who are intentional on making God their trust, His word teaches that they can expect peace, strength, provision and joy because the roots of their life go down deep to the source of life, Jesus Christ.

This speaks to our relationship with God. As can be seen in this present crisis, even the best stock portfolios can plummet in an instant. A thriving business can grind to a halt.

Be encouraged! Have no fear! Open your Bible today and begin to send your “roots” down to where the water is. God wants us to know and experience Him and all the good that comes as a result.

Uptake God into your life today.

As we wait for this Pandemic to pass I was reminded of the scripture Psalm 57:1
“… for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.”
Here, as in Psalm 91 God uses imagery of birds and wings.
 
A number of weeks ago, my husband and I visited the Desoto Wildlife Refuge in Iowa. Eagles are plentiful this time of year as they make a stop there during their annual migration. In the buildings, there are two very large eagles on display. I never realized how massive an eagle’s wingspan is. Additionally, their talons and beaks are clearly dangerous to whatever may have the unfortunate experience of being captured.
Try approaching an eagle’s nest to swipe one of her chicks – you’ll be in for a whoopin’.
 
It is also said if you swapped your eyes for an eagle's, you could see an ant crawling on the ground from the roof of a 10-story building.
Clearly, an eagle is a force to be reckoned with!
 
And so, God uses this imagery to teach us to take refuge in him during times of uncertainty. God is big enough to cover our lives with the shadow of his protection. Nothing escapes his vision.
 
But, what does it mean to take refuge in God? It means to be intentional in reading the scriptures and take to heart what he says in it. It means to trust in the words of God regarding what he has to say to us – and make an informed decision to practice them.
Enjoy your day in the confidence ( Godfidence! ) that God is shadowing you with his protection.

 

Song Lyrics - Dwell - Psalm 91:1, by Fred Hammond / Kim Rutherford

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty
Whatever storms arise won't move me
Because my eyes are stayed on Him, He is my King
Don't you know, don't you know, hey
He delivers me from the hand of the enemy
And every plague that shall arise, yeah
Under His wings I can seek safety
For His faithfulness is a shield for my life
Oh what peace it is to know
That He is wherever I go, wherever I go
There is nothing that He can't see
And in Him I have victory
I can dwell (dwell), I can dwell (dwell)
In my Savior there is safety
And there is no other place
In Him I dwell
Whether I move to the mountain or the valley
Abiding in You is the safest place only
I've found in You a mighty strong tower
And that's the place where I choose to dwell
I call on Him and He answers me
And delivers me on the double, yeah
He sets His love on me and He hears me constantly
And saves me from each and every trouble
I live I move and I have my being 
As long as I stay in Him
Shelter 
Ephesians 6:12 
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
 
Right now we are up against an enemy (Covid) that we can’t see, touch, feel, hear or know for sure where it is. We do see and hear about the effects of it after it has attacked someone. This pandemic has certainly disrupted our lives. We try to protect ourselves and our loved ones yet that even seems to be a challenge. This is new to us all in a way yet we’ve always been under attack from unseen things. I encourage you to trust in God. Put on the full armor of God.
 
1 Peter 5:8-9 
Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour. Resist him, strong in your faith, because you know that your brothers and sisters  throughout the world are enduring the same kinds of suffering.
 
Being a Christian, believer or having a relationship with God does not exclude you from the troubles and sufferings of this world or the human body (Matthew 5:44-45, Romans 12:2, John 17:16). 
 
Are you worried, stressed, anxious, irritated or just over it already? Are you out of a job facing financial troubles? Are you still working but fear going to work? Are you tired of being in the house, going bonkers with homeschooling children? Are you missing your previous routine and the things you loved to do? Are you missing family members or friends? Grieving the experiences missed that you were excited about and waited for? Are you struggling with anxiety, depression or mental illness? Are you emotionally or physically unwell? These troubles and sufferings usually make us feel fear, sadness, pain, alone, doubt, lost, hopeless, etc.. So many people are dealing or struggling with something right now. 
 
What sets believers apart from the rest is that we can cast our cares on God. We have faith, we can have peace of mind and believe that God will work it all out for our good. When we don’t know the answers he does. We walk by faith not by sight, not by our own understanding. We dwell in the secret place of the most high God. He sets a path before us, He opens doors and he shuts them.
 
What we must remember is that even though we live in this world we are not from this world. During such times we should draw closer to God. Do what you can and leave the rest to God. Life is hard sometimes. We fall, we stumble, we get off the path and wonder around. God doesn’t leave us. He waits until we call for him until we seek him then he picks us up, carries us if need be, provides balm for our wounds, restores our souls and places us back on the path.
 
John 16:33
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
 
Romans 12:12
“Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation (endure in suffering); persist in prayer.”
 
Isaiah 41:10
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
 
John 16:33 
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
 
1 Corinthians 10:13 
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
 
Luke 21:19 
By your endurance you will gain your lives.
 
Joshua 1:9 
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
 
James 1:12 
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
 
1 Timothy 6:12 
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
 
Ephesians 4:14 
So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
 
Hebrews 10:23 
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

 

Psalm 46:10Be Still and Know That I AM GOD
 
God puts it this way in Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God..."  Be still‑‑for only then can you hear God's voice.  Times of quietness are part of God's natural laws.  As thread breaks on a sewing machine when the tension is too tight, so modern man must ease the tensions of daily living or the tensions will break him.  Your health is a trust from God.  Can it be right to constantly abuse that trust?  Of course not!  God's natural laws are as binding as His spiritual laws.
 
God has not promised to spare you from difficulty.  Sometimes we ask for grace to lift us above the depressing cares of life, and God sends sorrows; we feel He has not answered our prayers.  We ask for light to see the path ahead, but clouds and darkness come.  We ask for peace and quiet that we may meditate, and everything around us becomes confusion.  Why is it?  God allows trials because He knows these things will drive us to Himself.  They will teach us the lesson that when He gives peace, no one can make trouble.
When we are weak, God does not tell us to be STRONG but to be STILL.  For when we are still, then are we strong.  The prophet Isaiah said, "...in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength..." (Isaiah 30:15, KJV).  God does not just say, "Be still," He goes on to say, "Know that I am God."
 
Psychology says, "Be still‑‑be calm‑‑take time for meditation, for developing inner serenity."  But the Bible adds, "Know that I am God."  God does not say, "Be still and know a better way of life‑‑a quiet life‑‑a prayer life."  He says, "Be still and know ME‑‑a person‑‑God, who is Life Himself.  As you know Him, you will then learn that His grace is sufficient.  The Bible says, "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms..." (Deuteronomy 33:27, KJV).
 
As Christians we are called to “be still” at times. I find it fascinating that there are several moments in scripture where Jesus is among crowds and shortly after you find him taking a time out. Time to be with the Father. In Mark 1:34 Jesus was healing diseases. In Mark 1:35, “very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Timeout!
 
In Luke 5:16 it says that Jesus often withdrew to lonely places where He prayed.
There are times we need to eliminate the noises of the world so that we can hear the voice of God and what it is He wants us to spend our time on. Our spirits actually crave solitude and silence, but our culture conditions us to be comfortable with crowds and noise.
We all are currently dealing with social distancing and staying at home. Outside of our normal routines of life. We are on a “time out” so to say. What does that mean for you? 
 
Psalm 46:10 (NIV) He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 
 
References:

 

Ignite

Ephesians 6:10-18 New International Version (NIV)

The Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

So often we are overcome with a feeling of powerlessness. Much of powerlessness -- not all -- comes from not using what God has provided. The command in verse 10 is "Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power." Our problem is that we try to be strong in ourselves, and have not learned the secret of drawing our strength from God.

Paul was afflicted with some kind of disease, it appears from 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. What it was we do not know, though he called it "a thorn in my flesh" and recognized its source: "a messenger of Satan to torment me." Paul didn't sanctify his illness, even though God was using this evil thing, he asked for God to remove it. But God denied his request and instead told him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." God used evil for good once again (Romans 8:28), so that Paul would remain humble and so that he would learn in his weakness to draw on God's strength. Paul learned to glory in it, "For when I am weak," he said, "then I am strong."

Not that he wasn't tested. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-33 he enumerates some of his trials: prison, severe floggings, shipwreck, betrayal, hunger, the pressure of his responsibilities.

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)

To the Philippian church he wrote,

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength!" (Philippians 4:12-13)

Indeed, the secret is to "be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power" (6:10). Paul likens it to the armor (and armament) of a soldier, perhaps using one of his prison guards as a model as he penned these lines. "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes." When we do not rely on God's strength, we have not donned the full "armor" which he gives us for the struggle.

Reference: http://www.jesuswalk.com/ephesians/15_warfare.htm

posted April 6, 2020

 

Rev. Chad Anglemeyr

Note: This is a devotional I wrote last year before we knew anything about Covid-19. It might be a good idea to put a note on the top of the devo stating that as a disclaimer. Thanks, Chad
 
Devotional:
“One of the most important concepts… to be an engaged participant in any human process… is the capacity to stand and act in the tragic gap. By the tragic gap I mean the gap between the hard realities around us and what we know is possible — not because we wish it were so, but because we’ve seen it with our own eyes.”
—Parker J. Palmer, Theologian
 
When Palmer speaks of the “tragic gap,” he reflects on the life works of those who have become heroes social justice who spent their lives in the tragic gap without seeing their dreams realized. He would likely recall persons like Dorothy Day and Martin Luther King, Cesar Chaves or unknown heroes who served the cause of justice with faith, but with no promise, that justice would be prevail in their life-times.
The beauty of Holy Week and the joy of Easter is that it reminds us all that there is hope of a powerful new beginning inching ever closer to our daily realities despite the tragic gap. Jesus lived his life in the tragic gap under Roman domination, and now we strive follow his example. His life invites us to live ours fully, with the same faith that he had in the reality that one day humanity would know the peace and justice that is promised to all.
Poet Gloria Anzaldúa reminds us of this when she says,
“Caminante, no hay puentes, se hace puentes al andar
Voyager, there are no bridges, one builds them as one walks.”
Lent and Easter are a wonderful journey and we build a new reality whenever we faithfully walk in its way. With each step we change our lives and the reality of the world in which we live. Giving gifts, sharing good food with loved ones, and by giving a little more to other than we normally do. The voyage into the tragic gap is also to speak to the pain and injustices of this world when we see them or hear them. As faithful people our voices and actions matter a great deal.
Voyaging into the tragic gap requires of us to do work that makes us uncomfortable:
Instead of silence at the dinner table when that relative spouts of a customary racist joke we can no longer be silent we must speak lest we fall deeper into the tragic gap.
Instead of a quick drop of some food or money at the shelter – it is time to stop and talk to a resident. Pray with them, reassure them of God’s love made known in Jesus Christ simply by being with them. 
Ultimately, I believe the best spiritual gift we have to offer to others, especially the poor, marginalized and oppressed is our full attention. When we give our full attention to something or someone we change and the world changes by virtue of our attentiveness. So, here is what I am asking of you today and as you move through the Easter. Find some way to focus on one thing daily. Don’t focus on one step further or ten steps further on the voyage, rather, focus on the step, you are currently negotiating. Most of the time, we are spread a mile wide and two inches deep. I am asking you to focus deeply on your faith even while we stand in the tragic gap.
I love the words of one of my favorite authors who knows a lot about the voyage in the tragic gap and the need for us to be attentive. He says:
To move slowly and deliberately through the world, listening and attending to one thing at a time, strikes us as radically subversive, even un-American. We cringe from the idea of relinquishing in any moment, all but one of infinite possibilities offered us by our culture. Plagued by a highly diffused attention, we give ourselves to everything lightly. This is our poverty. In saying yes to everything, we attend to nothing. One can only love what one stops to observe. Nothing is more essential to prayer than attentiveness. -- Belden Lane
Being in the tragic gap does not require us to be discouraged and hopeless. To the contrary, the resurrection of Jesus is a powerful moment of nothingness transformed into abundance, hatred to love, disconnect to reconciliation, old and dilapidated new and bright. The miracle of this of Jesus’ resurrection is that he asks us to make the same journey. The miracle is our compelling nature of the Christ making all things new and our desire over 2000 years later to follow him offering the sum-total of our lives. In doing so we lay to rest forever, the tragic gap because of what he has done for us. This is God’s promise made known in Jesus the Christ.
-posted

Captured & Crowned Devotional
Written by Paula McDade


Worry and Fear…Dismissed!

Those of us who have endured any kind of trauma or grief know that it is very easy slip away from being “in the moment” because of worry or fear. Sometimes your mind will just take you away from a nice, peaceful moment to start worrying about the future. No matter what is on your mind, it does no good to worry about it. 

When I was a child, I had such a nagging sense of fear about the end of the world. I would literally sit out on my front porch and wait for the stars to begin falling from the sky. One day as I was waiting for doom and destruction to happen to my world, it dawned on me that there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop it from happening. If the end of the world were about to take place, I would be powerless to stop it. It sounds silly to think back about an old childhood fear, but mental habits like fear, worry and dread can follow you into adulthood. Later in life I began to experience anxiety and panic attacks because I had trained my mind to latch on to stressful things and worry about them over and over again. That habit causes the body to produce signals which tell you it’s time to fight or flee. If you can’t do either, you experience panic and it’s not fun. The word tells us not to worry about tomorrow because it will take care of itself. Our focus should be on the goodness of our Father and how we can get closer to Him so that our fears seem tiny and He becomes bigger in our lives! 

Talk to the King 
Father, there are times when I let myself worry or silly or small things. I know that if I let go of those things and turn them over to you, you can handle them far better than I ever could. Please show me how to let go and allow you to be the protector I’ve always needed in my life. Help me forgive those who may not have protected me the way I needed them to.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:34 NIV