When everything falls apart

Stability may crumble. People may turn away, but God will stay.

He found himself thrust out of the king’s liking. Saul was annoyed and jealous of David, so he wanted him killed. David fled to Gath hoping to find refuge, but they chased him out of town. He ends up in a cave hiding from Saul, and David finds his refuge in the Lord.

Psalm 56 and 57 record David’s thoughts during this time.

They will not leave me alone.

“O God have mercy on me, for people are hounding me. My foes attack me all day long. I am constantly hounded by those who slander me, and many are boldly attacking me,” David writes in Psalm 56:1-2.

Can you relate? It seems everyone is against you. They constantly pick at the work you are doing. They continually criticize and never encourage. You feel no matter what you do, it will never be enough. Their ideas and agenda do not include you, so the quicker you are cut off the better.

Where will you go? What will you do? David had the same kind of questions and found refuge in the Lord.

David turned to the Lord for refuge.

“But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you,” David writes in Psalm 56:3.

David says in Psalm 57 he will hide in the Lord’s refuge until the calamity passes. “My heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises,” he writes in verse 7.

David’s stability was shaken. He had nowhere to turn until he remembered he could trust the Lord.

Our stability may be shaken, and we may feel as if we have no where to turn. But we can trust the Lord. He will be with us while we are the topic of office gossip. He will be with us as others may toss us aside. Those slandering us may treat us like garbage, but the Lord will treat us like a treasure. He will be with us until the calamity passes.

Like David, you and I can confidently say, “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.”

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a mountain range under a beige sky

Overcoming

We can conquer barriers.

In May 2001, Erik Weihenmayer accomplished something only about 150 people a year do. He climbed to the top of Mt. Everest. The thing that made Erik’s achievement unusual is he was the first person who is blind to scale the world’s tallest mountain. Born with Retinoschisis, Erik was completely blind by age 13. Rather than focus on what he could not do, he made the choice to focus on what he could do and went much farther than many expected.

Many times, you and I are faced with a choice: continue or quit. It would be nice if following God always meant smooth sailing; however, that is not the case. There will be people who do not like us and obstacles to cross in doing what is right. We should not allow the people and obstacles we face to cause us to quit.

Psalm 92 reminds us we will be overcomers with the Lord. The Psalmist writes in verse 11, “My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries. My ears have heard the route of my wicked foes.”

The Lord will be with us as we fulfill our God-ordained purpose. The Lord will help us in this life, and at the end of our journey, we, in Christ, will be able to overcome this world. So, hang on and keep climbing.

Touch the Top of the World is Erik’s autobiography, and it is available at Amazon.

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Should we give thanks?

Psalm 92 reminds us it is good to give thanks.

Look around, and it is easy to find circumstances causing anxiety and fear. They seem to be everywhere; anxiety and fear seem to live on every street and lurk around every corner. It is easy to be consumed by circumstances.

Psalm 92 recommends we counterbalance our looks with thanksgiving.

“It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High. Proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night,” writes the Psalmist in verses 1-2.

Verses 4-5 go on, “For you make me glad by your deeds Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done. How great are your works Lord, how profound your thoughts?”

As we look around finding anxious and fearful circumstances, we can also find the marvelous work of the Lord.

  • The beauty and complexity of creation.
  • The Lord’s work in our own lives.
  • The promises we find in Scripture.

As we look around, it seems we have much for which to be thankful. We can awake each day assured of God’s love and go to bed each night thankful for his protection that day. It is good to give thanks.

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God, why?

A Familiar Question Asked in Psalm 73.

Why? Parents of young children hear this question a lot, and it is a question that comes up in all seasons of life. Sometimes, the question comes up in our relationship with the Lord.

It did for Asaph, the writer of Psalm 73. He was one of the choir directors under King David’s reign. Asaph saw the wicked prospering and the righteous being oppressed, and he wondered why.

“Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart,” Asaph writes in verse 1. Yet, it seemed all these people who had nothing to do with God were having all kinds of success. He struggled with how this could be happening, which is okay.

Asking why is okay.

It is a common misconception that Christians are to never ask why. We are just to accept things as they happen without questioning; however, the Bible records individuals of great faith struggling to always understand. Abraham, Moses, and David are just a few who struggled and questioned God, yet they were totally reliant on the Lord.

“It is not a sin to doubt. Disbelief is sin, but questioning, sincerely seeking, is acceptable to God because in the presence of God, you may ask any question you want,” according to Max Lucado.

God did not turn his back on John the Baptist or Thomas when they asked questions, and God will not turn his back on you and me if we ask questions. Sincerely seeking answers from God’s perspective will change ours.

Seeking answers from God’s perspective will change ours.

Look at how it changed Asaph’s perspective in Psalm 73. “When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God, then I understood their final destiny,” remarks Asaph in verses 16-17.

Looking at life from God’s perspective changed Asaph’s. He recognized with God there was hope in the future, but with everything else, hope was fleeting.

When you and I are confused about circumstances in our lives, we can sincerely seek answers from God. Viewing our lives from his perspective will provide us with hope. We have this hope because of the promise the Lord has made us. Trying to answer life’s ponderings in any other way will leave us longing.

We may not have the answers, but we know who does.

Asaph concludes in verse 28, “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the sovereign Lord my refuge.” With his hope resting on the Lord, Asaph had a vision for the future. Meanwhile, he may not have understood everything, but he knew God did.

With our hope resting on the Lord, we too can make him our refuge. We may not understand everything, but we know he does. With the Lord as our refuge, our hope is secure, and we do not have to understand everything because he does.

 

Are we running after the right ambitions?

“It’s about the people that you love and the places that you saw. Finding peace in the chaos, and beauty in the flaws.”

What are we running after? What are we trying to achieve? Are we always comparing ourselves to the neighbor next door? Beauty in the Flaws by Sophia Scott reminds us it is not the amount of money we make or the status we gain that matters.

The people and places we impact matter. The peace we can find matters. If we spend all our time chasing after money and prestige, we will find ourselves longing for more.

The Bible says Solomon was the wisest person to ever live, and he pursued the meaning of life. He pursued it within money, prestige, hard work, and partying. At the end of the pursuit, he writes these words.

“That’s the whole story. Here, now, is my conclusion: fear God and obey his commands for this is everyone’s duty,” Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 12:13.

4 Characteristics Worthy of Modeling

He was never king, yet he left a mark in history.

Jonathan was King Saul’s oldest son, yet he was never king. He does not make it into a hall of fame, yet he was a good friend. He was not a star, yet he was respected. In many ways, Jonathan was just an ordinary person.

Jonathan’s life models 4 characteristics everyone should strive to possess.

1. Jonathan was humble.

Jonathan understood David would be a better king. He was willing to look past himself to the big picture. In humility, Jonathan was willing to place himself in second place. It has been said, “There are kings and kingmakers.” Jonathan was a kingmaker.

The kingmakers of the world understand they may not be the best fit for a position. They spend their time looking past themselves to the big picture rather than fussing and feuding trying to promote their own agenda. In humility, they realize their purpose is to make a king, not be a king.

2. Jonathan was a great friend.

Jonathan was a true friend to David.

  • He was loyal to David. When everyone else left David, Jonathan stuck by his side. Job 6:14 says friends should stay loyal even if a person forsakes the Lord.
  • He was willing to share in David’s burdens. Jonathan helped carry the weight of David’s circumstances. A good friend is willing to help carry another’s burden.
  • He encouraged David. Jonathan was willing to go to David and offer encouragement. Jonathan recognized a rough season in David’s life and encouraged him in that time.
  • Jonathan invested in David’s life. Jonathan stepped aside so David could be king. He gave something of his own to David.

3. Jonathan had faith which pushed him to action.

1 Samuel 14 records Jonathan’s daring plan to win a battle with the Philistines. Though outnumbered and overpowered, Jonathan’s faith pushed him to go forward.

Jonathan says in verse 6, “Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans…. Perhaps the Lord will help us for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he was many warriors or only a few.” Jonathan was not afraid to step out in faith because he believed nothing was impossible for the Lord.

How would our goals and dreams change if we followed this example?

4. Jonathan showed undaunted courage.

The plan Jonathan devised took much courage to execute. He was outnumbered, and the Philistines had to see him. Climbing to the Philistines position required both hands and feet, so for a short period, Jonathan and his armor-bearer were not able to defend themselves. To spite these dangers, Jonathan had the courage to move forward.

Jonathan’s courage came as a result of his faith. He knew nothing was impossible for the Lord.

Taking steps to fulfill dreams and achieve goals can be scary. Much courage may be required. We can find this courage in the Lord. If he is with us, there is no need to fear.

Jonathan certainly left his mark in history. His courage, faith, friendship, and humility are worthy of modeling.

 

Can we help the lonely?

A touch cured a lonely soul.

Leprosy was a horrible disease. There was no cure, and the infection was easily transmitted. Individuals with leprosy were forced to live alone. As someone approached, the person was forced to shout “unclean” as a warning.

A person suffering from leprosy had to endure the physical pain of his or her flesh rotting. There was also the emotional pain of loneliness. Those with leprosy had to quarantine themselves, leaving their families and friends. The disease took its tole both physically and emotionally, and we find Jesus offering much compassion to those with leprosy.

Matthew 8 says, “Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. ‘Lord,’ the man said, ‘if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”

Imagine the scene. Jesus is leading a large crowd, and suddenly enters a man with leprosy. He starts speaking to Jesus as perhaps the crowd backs up a little. The man’s faith is obvious. He knows Jesus can heal him. Jesus does heal the man, but the other action Jesus takes is just as powerful.

“Jesus reached out and touched him,” records Matthew 8:3. Jesus touched him!

We do not know how long this man had endured the pain of leprosy. We do not know how many days or even years it had been since the man felt the closeness of human touch. All we know is Jesus touched him. Yes, Jesus healed his leprosy, but Jesus also healed his loneliness. The compassion offered by Jesus in this moment was stellar.

The man with leprosy was lonely, and Jesus interaction helped him. You and I may have the ability to help someone who is lonely.

When appropriate, the embrace of a hug and the holding of a hand is powerful. The sharing of a smile and a friendly greeting are equally as powerful. A wave can go a long way.

Our interactions today may help someone who is lonely without us even realizing it.

 

The Power of Encouragement

“Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you,” said William Arthur Ward.

Offering encouragement is one of the most powerful ways we can help our friends and neighbors. Everyone needs to be encouraged from time to time, and good friends will encourage one another.

David needed encouragement, and Jonathan encouraged him. Saul was jealous of David and wanted to kill him. Saul would learn of David’s location and chase him, so David was forced to run from one stronghold to the next. Day after day he had to hide in the wilderness. This would have been a discouraging season in David’s life.

1 Samuel 23:16 says, “Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God.” Jonathan recognized a difficult season in David’s life and went to encourage him.

Our friends and neighbors may be going through a difficult season, so they need encouragement. We do not know how heavy of a load our neighbor may be carrying. Encouraging him or her may be one of the most powerful ways we can help.

The Bible suggests we encourage one another daily. We can encourage each other by celebrating victories, offering comfort in disappointment and heartache, and helping one another keep a strong faith.

Here are more ways to encourage one another.

Jonathan and David had a strong friendship in part because they encouraged one another.

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What is true friendship?

3 Characteristics of Genuine Friendship.

A man dialed the wrong number and heard an alarming answering machine message. “I am not available right now. After the beep, leave a message, and I will call you back. I’m making some changes in my life now, so if I don’t call you back, you are one of those changes.”

True friendship is a treasure. We associate with many people, but how many of those people are genuine friends? The Bible gives us a glimpse of real friendship in David and Jonathan’s relationship.

Jonathan was a true friend to David. He possessed the characteristics of a true friend.

1. Jonathan was devoted to David.

Some time after David battled Goliath, Jonathan and David developed an intimate friendship which lasted the test of time. The friends were devoted to one another.

Jonathan did not run away from David when Saul started chasing him. As Saul was chasing him, David’s life experienced an adverse season, and Jonathan remained his friend. Jonathan’s devotion compelled him to remain a friend to David.

Proverbs 17:17 states, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Genuine friendship is built on devotion, hanging in there during good and bad times.

2. Jonathan was willing to sacrifice to help David.

The tension between Saul and David lasted until Saul’s death. Jonathan was willing to make some sacrifices during this time. He risked creating tension between himself and his father, and he stepped aside so David could take the throne of Israel.

In 1 Samuel 23:17, Jonathan tells David, “Do not be afraid, my father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.” Jonathan willingly gave up his right to the throne for David.

Jonathan was able to see the big picture. He realized David’s potential and sacrificed to help him. True friends sacrifice for one another. This may be helping carry a burden, offering financial assistance in a rough time, or helping navigate through difficult circumstances. Sacrifice is a mark of true friendship.

3. Jonathan encouraged David.

1 Samuel 23:16 says Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in God. Friends encourage one another.

Friends encourage one another to achieve goals and fulfill dreams. Christian friends also encourage each other to stay strong in their faith. They help in times of trouble and celebrate in times of victory.

Acting

Think of your friendships. Are there areas where you could be a better friend?

 

 

Can we find hope in Christ’s resurrection?

Yes, because of its validity, value, and victory.

Hope can be found in Christ’s resurrection.

The Validity of the Resurrection

With courtroom-like precision, Paul builds the case for Christ’s resurrection. The eyewitness accounts are overwhelming.

1 Corinthians 15:5-8 states, “He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time. Most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later, by all the apostles. Last of all, I also saw him.”

It is easy to dismiss one person’s testimony, and perhaps the 12 disciples could be written off as hallucinating. But it is not as easy to discount 500 people seeing the same event at the same time. Jesus appeared to all these individuals after his resurrection.

He ate with them. He talked with them. He walked with them. They could see and touch his physical body. He was there. Those who saw Jesus could factually say he was no longer in the tomb.

The resurrection was not a myth. It was a historical event which brought value and victory.

The Value of the Resurrection

1 Corinthians 15 goes on to explain there is much value in the resurrection.

  • Our dying bodies are buried, and a body, which will live forever, is raised up.
  • Our broken bodies will be exchanged for glorious bodies.
  • Our weak bodies will be replaced with strong bodies.
  • Verse 44 says, “They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.”

In other words, we will shed all the struggle and heartache in this life. Our physical and mental difficulties will no longer plague us. The value of the resurrection is a new body granted through Christ’s victory.

The Victory of the Resurrection

“Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But, thank God, he gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ,” says 1 Corinthians 15:54-57.

Death, which is man’s great equalizer, has been beaten by Christ. The day of Christ’s resurrection, he struck a death blow to death and brought victory.

As we search for hope in this life, we can find it in the validity, value, and victory of Christ’s resurrection.