David Green is the founder of Hobby Lobby, the largest privately owned arts and crafts retailer in the world. He is soft-spoken, passionate about his faith, and dedicated to his family.
In 1970 David Green borrowed $600.00 to buy a molding chopper, set up shop in his garage at home, and started making miniature wooden picture frames. As of 2015, Hobby Lobby employs over 32,000 people, operates 600 stores in forty-seven states, and grosses 3.6 billion dollars a year.
David & his wife Barbara are the proud parents of two sons and one daughter, grandparents to ten, and great grandparents to eight. David writes what it looks like to leave a lasting legacy in Giving It All Away..And Getting It Back Again (Zondervan).
The following is an excerpt from Giving It All Away...And Getting It Back Again by Cory Mansfield and published by Preaching.com
The following is an excerpt from David Green’s new book, Giving It All Away…and Getting It All Back Again. David Green, the founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby, delves into an amazing story of generosity. David’s heart and passion for God’s glory is contagious, and his example of giving is one that can instill courage in us all. I think you’ll particularly like the portion of this excerpt devoted to C.T. Studd as it really pushes us to make every moment count for the One who gave us life.
I realize that running a billion dollar company doesn’t exactly make me just one of the guys from a purely financial standpoint. Money tends to separate us in our culture, and that’s unfortunate because I’m just like you. I get up every day, spend time with God, kiss my wife, eat some breakfast, and go to work.
I’m just a man. I started my career working retail, stocking shelves. I got married and started a family. I’ve lost sleep wondering about the future of my wife and kids. Now I’m entering that area of the baton exchange, and I want to do it well. I want us all to do it well. I want my grandchildren to grow up understanding that generosity begins with an attitude that extends into every aspect of life, not just money. I want them to understand that today begins their legacy. Because if there’s one thing I’ve discovered, it’s that true wealth encompasses all of life.
That’s the big idea. I believe we can chart a course for our lives and our families that allows us to think beyond one generation. We can outline our vision, mission, and values. And we can live that out through our generosity. These ideas will allow us to stay rich for generations—not just in a monetary sense but in a values sense.
Some of you reading this are standing in shoes similar to my own. You are nearing the end of your life, wondering how to finish well and leave a legacy that will bless your family and those they interact with for generations to come. Some of you are just starting out in life, taking your first steps toward those dreams and plans.
Whether you’re at the end or the beginning of life, I want to challenge you to do three things:
1. Work with all your heart, for God and not for men.
2. Hold those plans lightly, because you really have no idea what the Lord has in store.
3. Consider now what you want your legacy to be. It is not too early to begin.
The decisions you make today will affect the legacy you leave behind. Whether you are a young business man who has found himself encountering what the world sees as success both in career and family life, or a young woman who recently graduated and has no idea what is in front of you, today is the right day to make your decisions in light of the truth that God owns it all. Live your life in this world while investing your wealth in the next.
Only One LifeWhen I was growing up, we did not have much artwork in our house. Money was tight, and our family got along with just the basics of life. Knicknacks, frills, and family photos were not to be found in our simple home. But there was one plaque on the wall I have never forgotten. It was a short poem:
Only one life
’Twill soon be past
Only what’s done
For Christ will last.
In my teen years and for quite a few years into my adulthood, the words of that poem stirred up guilt inside me whenever I remembered them. Assuming that “what’s done for Christ” meant work done as a pastor with his flock, as an evangelist on the street corner, or as a missionary to remote tribes in Africa, I felt defeated because I knew those were things I could not do. Not until my late thirties did I discover the joy of giving to God’s work and come to realize its lasting value.
Until recently, I had no idea that those lines were actually part of a longer poem with a very interesting story. It was written by the son of a wealthy British family, Charles Thomas (C. T.) Studd, who lived from 1860 to 1931. His father had made a fortune producing indigo dye in India. Charles and his brothers attended the best schools England could offer, first Eaton and then Cambridge, where Charles became, as some have called him, the Michael Jordan of cricket. Charles represented his country on the national cricket team and became a household name in Britain. He knew that when he turned twenty-five years old, he would inherit a large sum—some $25 million in today’s dollars—from his father’s estate.
Yet by that time, God had touched his heart and called him to service overseas. He started out in China, where he married a young Irish woman of like mind. Together, they gave away their entire portion of the Studd fortune to such ministries as George Müller’s orphanage, D. L. Moody’s Bible school in Chicago, the China Inland Mission, and the Salvation Army. From that point on, they trusted God to supply their needs.
Ten years of work in China were followed by six years in India, where Studd’s father had become rich. C.T.’s health was not the greatest by then, and neither was his wife’s. After India, he pressed on for another twenty-one years in the heart of Africa until he died and was buried there at age seventy. His passion was to share the gospel with those who had never heard of Christ.
C. T. Studd was a man who did not let family money distract him from what was truly important in life. History tells us that his children caught his values system. Three of his daughters married Christian leaders. Some two thousand Congolese showed up for his funeral in July 1931.
I will never be the speaker and writer he was, but I am just as committed to the goals he exemplified. Of the various scriptures under the plexiglas on my desk, this is perhaps the most compelling in my heart and mind: “This and this only has been my appointed work: getting this news to those who have never heard of God, and explaining how it works by simple faith and plain truth” (1 Tim. 2:7–8 The Message).
I hope they put that verse on my tombstone. Through the efforts of the company God has allowed us to build, I want as many people as possible to come to know Christ as Savior. Fortunately, if God blesses the values and financial arrangements that I’ve described in this book, then there is no reason my work will not go on long after I’m gone.
I can think of nothing that would make me happier.
Taken from Giving It All Away…And Getting It Back Again by David Green with Bill High. Copyright © [2017 by David Green. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.
Matthew 6:13 NIV And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Temptation is a weapon that the enemy uses in spiritual warfare even though much temptation comes from within. In what we call the “”Lord's Prayer” Jesus’ reminder to pray regularly against temptation reminds us just how prevalent and dangerous the appeal of sin can be in the Christian life. This petition also reminds us that we are not able to resist temptation by our own power. Most people know by experience that your willpower is not quite as strong as we would like to think.
The Bible is very clear that God does not tempt anybody.
James 1:13-18 NIV When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
While God doesn't tempt us he does allow us to be tempted, but he gives us the endurance and power, through his Word, and the Holy Spirit to resist.
1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
Scripture demands a clear and drastic response to temptation.
Jesus told his disciples,
Matthew 5:29-30 NIV If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
Jesus didn't really mean for you to dismember your body but the point was to take drastic measures not to sin. It may mean leaving a relationship, a job, a church, whatever just do something to keep from or stop sinning. Get away from the temptation.
We know the power of temptation by looking in both history books and the mirror. If we are honest with ourselves, we are not up to the task. But Jesus teaches us that we have access to deliverance from sin and temptation by the grace and mercy of God, which is why we must pray for God’s protection from evil.
4 Times In Life You Should Expect To Face Temptation
By Tim Challies from John Owen’s Overcoming Sin and Temptation
(All Scripture content and bold emphasis mine)
Temptation is a mysterious thing. There must be method to the madness, there must be patterns of how and when we are tempted by specific sins. If there are, I’ve never quite been able to hack or solve the system. But at the very least we can observe this: There are some times in life when you should be especially wary, when temptation is especially likely. Here are four times you should expect to face temptation.
During Times of Prosperity
Prosperity and temptation often go hand-in-hand. You need to be careful, though—prosperity is not a curse and you do not need to dread it or be suspicious of it. Rather, you need to have an awareness that prosperity carries with it fuel that feeds temptation. Agur knew this and wrote in Proverbs
Proverbs 30:8-9 NIV Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord ?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.
Guard yourself in times of abundance and prepare yourself for the likelihood of an onslaught of temptation. Look especially for the temptation of ingratitude, denying that your prosperity is a gift of God’s grace; look for the temptation of greed, hoarding your wealth instead of being generous with it; look for the temptation of pride, believing that this abundance proves that God favors you over others. Always be aware that prosperity may be a kind of smokescreen that obscures the great temptation lurking behind it. Be wary of prosperity!
1 Timothy 6:10 NIV For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
During Times of Spiritual Lukewarmness
There are inevitable times in life when your delight in God grows lukewarm. There are times when your heart longs for satisfaction in something—anything—other than God and his riches. In these times your worship can become marked by a lukewarm formality.
Revelation 3:15-16 NIV I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
Your time in prayer and God’s Word can become cold duty and you look with dread at the times of fellowship with other Christians. You may neglect the pursuit of communion with God, and instead treat your relationship with him as just another of life’s joyless duties. In these times you may be sure that Satan is close at hand to tempt you, to draw you even further from God and even deeper into lesser pleasures. Your heart is already marked by lukewarmness and he longs to chill it even more. Fight! Fight right now to restore the joy of your salvation.
Revelation 3:18 MSG “Here’s what I want you to do: Buy your gold from me, gold that’s been through the refiner’s fire. Then you’ll be rich. Buy your clothes from me, clothes designed in Heaven. You’ve gone around half-naked long enough. And buy medicine for your eyes from me so you can see, really see.
During Times of Spiritual Highs
Just as temptation may be close behind your spiritual doldrums, it may also be lurking close behind your spiritual heights. You can observe this very thing in the life of Paul, who was given the great gift of being caught up to the third heaven and seeing Christ there. Yet immediately he was visited by Satan (2 Corinthians 12:7) who tried to discourage and crush him.
2 Corinthians 12:6-7 NIV Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
God loves to bless us with those times of freedom and pleasure. We love to be blessed by him in this way! But temptation may lie close at hand. In those times of great spiritual enjoyment you may be so satisfied in your current state that you begin to neglect the means of grace, you stop fighting sin, you accept this delight as your due. You may even brag about the heights you have reached, and all but beg God to chasten and humble you. Enjoy soaring to those spiritual heights, but do not cease from guarding your heart, mind, and soul. In fact, be especially vigilant in those times.
During Times of Self Confidence
In times of self-confidence you can be sure you will soon enter into sore temptation. This was exactly the case with Peter who, on the final night of Jesus’ life, bragged that he would never desert his Savior. Yet within hours he had not only abandoned him but denied him three times. His self-confidence allowed him to compare himself with others and boast, “Though they may forsake you, I will not.” And still he fell gravely at the very first opportunity.
Matthew 26:33-35, 73-75 NIV Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same. 73-75 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.” Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
This world is full of temptations custom-crafted to appeal to every depraved heart. The greater your confidence in your ability to overcome these sins in your own strength and the greater your confidence that these sins cannot sway you, the greater the likelihood you will be tempted with them and the greater the likelihood you will fall into them. Beware of self-confidence and flee from its first awakenings. Trust always, only, ever in Christ.
Expect Temptation, Resist Temptation
Temptation will come. It will come to you. It may come in times of prosperity, times of lukewarmness, times of spiritual excitement, or times of dangerous self-confidence. Be especially vigilant in those times! But always remember that even when temptation is inevitable, succumbing to temptation is not. God promises it.
1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
You must, and you can, endure.
WARNING: If you are not willing to be honest with yourself and God I recommend that you stop reading this post right now, and go to another site, one of the apps on your phone, tablet, or computer, check your email, or go watch television but don’t read this post.
Doubt Does Not Equal Unbelief
Mark 9:24 (NLT2) The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
Do you ever struggle with doubt? You do if you’re honest.
Doubt affects the lives of many believers. The reality is that no one’s faith is ever perfect in this life. That includes you. And if your faith is not perfect, then it can grow and become stronger today than it was yesterday.
Doubt is the gap between our current faith and perfect faith. Sometimes we doubt our salvation; other times we doubt God’s love. We may even doubt the reliability of Scripture, the existence of God, or the identity of Christ
What should we do when we have doubts about God? We should seek to answer them.
In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis wrote, “Make sure that, if you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religious reading and churchgoing are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed.” 1
Doubt is a natural part of being human because we have limitations. We have limitations in energy, time and even knowledge. We all experience doubts because we can’t know everything. In order to live with doubt in a spiritually healthy and faith-building way, we need to be clear about what doubt is what it isn't.
A biblical understanding of faith is not blind or opposed to evidence, but it doesn't require absolute information either (see Is Christian Faith Blind Faith?). Faith is simply trusting in what you have good reason to believe is true. It’s important to remember that faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed. Sincerity is important, but trying really hard to believe something doesn't make it true or false. A great way to find out if you really believe something is whether you are ready to act as if it were true in everyday life. For example, do you really believe being pure in your thought life and relationships is the best way to live?
To doubt means to be between two minds or opinions. It is the middle ground between faith and unbelief. Unbelief, as Christian scholar Os Guinness notes, "is a state of mind that is closed against God, an attitude of the heart that disobeys God as much as it disbelieves the truth. Unbelief is the result of a settled choice."
There is a big difference between struggling to believe in God and setting oneself against Him.
You Are Not Alone
If you have doubts about God, don’t beat yourself up. You are in good company. John the Baptist had doubts about Jesus as the Messiah.
Luke 7:18-19 NKJV Then the disciples of John reported to him concerning all these things. And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to Jesus, saying, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”
Jesus didn't get upset He provided evidence and sent John's disciples back.
Luke 7:22-23 NKJV Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”
Doubts can come into our lives in a number of ways, including traumatic experiences, apathy, or mistaken beliefs often caused by error or false teaching. No matter how doubt gets in, it won't go away on its own. If you want to address it to either eliminate or confirm it you must take action.
6 Ways to Deal with Doubt
Excerpts from 7 Ways to Deal with Doubt by Michael Patton (Bold mine)
1. Realize doubt is often the birth pangs of deepened faith.
Many of us became believers at an early age, with a faith mediated through our parents whom we trusted implicitly. As we become older, our faith is tested though trials, temptations, and suffering like Job.
Romans 5:3-5 (NLT2)3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
James 1:2-4 (NLT2)2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
This is why our most significant doubt often comes during our 20s and 30s. But this is not a bad thing. We all need to consider that the truths we espouse might be wrong, in order to embrace our faith more deeply. Such doubt often results in stronger faith.
2. Be ready to live with mystery.
Sometimes we want all the answers. We want complete understanding before we commit to God.
While God has revealed so much to us, and there is much we can understand, there are the “secret” things that belong to him alone.
Deuteronomy 29:29 (NLT2)29 “The LORD our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions.
We will never be able to comprehend the Trinity, or how God created everything out of nothing. But what we can comprehend is enough for us to rest in God when mystery arises.
3. Make the main things the main things.
Paul told the Corinthians he delivered to them things “of first importance”.
1 Corinthians 15:3 (NLT2)3 I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.
He goes on to talk about the atoning death and vindicating resurrection of Christ as being most central to the faith.
1 Corinthians 15:4-9 (NLT2)4 He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.5 He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve.6 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.7 Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles.8 Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him.9 For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church.
So many of us doubt secondary issues such as how and when God created the world or the details of Christ’s return. There are many issues in the Christian faith about which there has been legitimate disagreement for centuries. All of orthodox Christianity, however, has always been in unity about who Christ is and what he did.
So when you begin doubting what you were taught about secondary issues, don’t get too bent out of shape. A lot of us are still working through these matters.
4. Live according to the faith you still have.
Doubt is not unbelief. Again, doubt is the bridge that connects current faith to perfect faith. And that bridge will stand until our death or Christ’s return. When we go through a faith crisis, though, we don’t naturally see things this way. Once doubt enters and infects our lives on a conscious level, we may interpret it as outright unbelief. We simply don’t know how else to process it. We think we’re on an inevitable road to complete unbelief.
Unfortunately, since we think this way, and since others may treat us as if we have the plague, we begin to live as unbelievers. If sin were not the instigating problem before, it becomes the chronic problem now. It’s important for those struggling with doubt to not let their doubt influence their lives such that they start living like unbelievers. Encourage doubters to continue to live as Christians, repenting and believing the gospel, even if they don’t always feel like Christians.
5. Doubt your doubts.
Why give your doubt a courtesy you don’t give your faith? Is your doubt so compelling that it can’t be questioned?
When we go through times of doubt, we need to make sure we are critical of our doubts as well. Doubt usually doesn’t offer a better solution; it just nags at the one we already have. For Christians, we can be sure that the central truths of our faith will never be outweighed by our doubt. Pestered, yes. But never, when we learn to doubt our doubts, should our faith be overthrown.
6. Work through the sin in your life.
I intentionally saved this one for last. Often this is the first place Christians go with a loved one in the crisis of doubt, in large part because it helps us put doubt into a discernible box. It also helps us to find a quick solution. “Oh, you’re doubting your faith? Okay, quit sinning! Next?” Obviously, doubt is often more complicated.
But we must recognize that personal sin is a faith-drainer. Disobedience to God will take a significant toll on your faith.
We’re all sinners, but some sins take a unique toll on our mind and worldview—especially if we attempt to justify them. For example, struggling with same-sex attraction is one thing; actively embracing homosexuality and trying to justify it biblically is another thing altogether. The toll here is not only moral, social, and physical; it also corrupts the mind. The effort to reinterpret the Bible in a way more friendly to homosexuality won’t remain isolated to this one category; sooner or later, the mental paradigm you constructed to make your sin acceptable will corrupt everything else.
In short, if there is something you know you’re supposed to be doing, and you’re not doing it, doubt will soon spread, and your crisis of faith will be hard to overcome. We need to gently ask these types of questions when the time is right. But simply accusing people of some deep-rooted personal sin right from the gun can be judgmental and embarrassing. Ask if there’s any sin that might be causing the person’s doubt. If the answer is no and you cannot readily identify anything as the cause, don’t push the issue.
If you find yourself with doubts, you're in good company. But having the courage to doubt your doubts and investigate the root of these issues over time will lead to greater confidence as a follower of Jesus. This is what the journey of faith is all about. - Focus on the Family
Spiritual Growth Helps You Deal With Doubt
If you are a follower of Jesus, then it is always good to ask yourself if you are growing spiritually. Are you reading your Bible on a regular basis, praying, sharing your faith and living in community with others? (Not in a legalistic, "God will love me more if . . ." sort of way, but because these are necessary ingredients for spiritual growth.) Just as a plant either grows or withers, so a worldview must produce results or it will be discarded as impractical."
When we sin and are disobedient to God, our sin creates relational distance from Him. God doesn't love us any less, and we aren't at risk of losing our salvation, but we may need to ask Him to show us if we need to confess anything so that our fellowship with Him can be restored. A great prayer to meditate on is Psalm 139:23–24: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
1. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Touchstone, 1996), 125.
If you've lost a spouse, child, family member, or friend, you've discovered that few people understand the deep hurt you feel.
It’s been three and a half years since Ruth, my wife of forty years went to be with the Lord, and to be perfectly honest I’m not over it yet. I don’t mean that I’m wallowing in sorrow but I am still grieving. It’s not as bad as it was for the first year or so but I admit that I’m still grieving. I don’t have periods of weeping or moping around but there are times that I just say “wow I really miss you Ruth” or “I wish Ruth was here to help me with this decision”. There are times, and it happens frequently, when I’ll be driving down the street perhaps in a area that I haven’t visited in an long time, I’ll pass a building, or corner or for no reason at all I’ll think Ruth and I passed here, or we went here and I’ll smile. There are times that I see, as clear as day, the first time that we met. I even remember what she was wearing, I can’t remember what I had on but I remember what she was wearing.
God blessed us to be able to live in every corner of the country but the northeast, so we had friends all over the country. Although every day wasn’t rosie, in fact some were pretty dark, I’ll remember, as clear as day, the good times that we had in San Jose, Sunnyvale, Burlingame, Northridge, or Los Angeles twice, Oklahoma City, Orlando, or Atlanta. I have so many wonderful memories that I could have a new one everyday and not repeat one of them for the next twenty years.
I have good friends that have just started the grieving process because of the sudden and tragic loss of a loved one. We all grieve differently and now that I’ve been in the grief process for over three years I would never try to advise anybody of how to grieve. That’s why I found this devotion from fathgateway.com so helpful. The authors Bill Dunn and Kathy Leonard don’t try to tell you how to grieve they tell us about the one who goes through our grief with us.
This post is for me, my friends, and anyone else going through a season of grief.
Season of Grief, Journey of Faith
by Bill Dunn and Kathy Leonard, from Through a Season of Grief
Understanding Your Grief
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. — Isaiah 40:31
Grief is not an enemy or a sign of weakness. It is a sign of being human.
Grief is the cost of loving someone.
Since grief comes to everyone, why do some people seem to work through it better than others?
“Some people think that going through the losses or crises of life are the exceptional times,” says Dr. H. Norman Wright.
“I see it differently. I see the times of calm as the exceptions. Life really is going through one loss after another, one crisis after another. Instead of avoiding talking about these times, let’s do our homework. When you know what to expect, you’re not thrown by them as much, and you’re going to be better able to recover.”
Lord God, teach me to embrace my grief and not fight it, so that I may experience the true healing that comes from You.
Grief Is a Unique Experience
O LORD, You have examined my heart and know everything about me… Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex… You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. — Psalm 139:1,14,16 (NLT)
You may feel it is useless to talk about your grief because no one truly understands what you are going through.
“You sometimes feel after an experience like this that you’re talking a foreign language,” says Dora, whose daughter died. “You feel like there’s no way anybody can know what you’re feeling. There is absolutely no way anyone can know the depth of your pain. So you feel like it’s futile to talk about it because words can’t express the pain.”
Although countless people have experienced grief before you, each person’s response to grief is different. Your path of grief will be uniquely your own.
Be encouraged that regardless of how your grief appears to you or others, it has a precious uniqueness to the One who created you.
God, who knows intimately your personality, your relationships, and the experiences of your life, knows your grief and isn’t shocked or surprised by your responses.
Father, thank You that my way of grieving is distinctly my own, reflective of all You have sovereignly created me to be and experience.
Grief Runs Deep: Where Is the Hope?
Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD. — Psalm 31:24
Dr. Joseph Stowell says, “Even though your heart is breaking and tears are clouding your eyes and staining your cheeks, God does give us something worth trusting in tough times. And that’s Him, and Him alone.”
When your heart is breaking, you can place your hope and trust in the Lord.
Anne Graham Lotz defines hope: “Biblical hope is absolute confidence in something you haven’t seen or received yet, but you’re absolutely confident that whatever God has said is going to come to pass.”
She also declares that “Jesus is your hope for the future. One day Jesus Christ will come back, and He will set all of the wrong right. Good will triumph over the bad. Love will triumph over hate. Righteousness will triumph over evil. He’s going to make it all right, and you can have absolute confidence that that’s going to take place. That’s your hope.”
Sovereign God, I choose hope. I choose faith. I choose life. Give me an unshakable faith in You.
Grief Lasts Longer Than Expected
Grief ’s unexpected turns will throw you again and again. You may feel that for every step forward, you take at least one step back.
The grieving process generally takes longer than you ever imagined. Please don’t rush this process. Remember, what you are feeling is not only normal, it is necessary.
“It’s been seven years, and I’m still going through it,” says Dr. Larry Crabb, whose brother died in a plane crash. “I don’t know if it’s a very holy thing to admit, but when someone says, ‘Well, it’s been a week, a month, a year — Larry, for you it’s been seven years. Get a grip. Where’s your faith in Christ, for goodness’ sake?’ I get really angry.
“Knowing the Lord and His comfort does not take away the ache; instead, it supports you in the middle of the ache. Until I get home to heaven, there’s going to be an ache that won’t quit. The grieving process for me is not so much a matter of getting rid of the pain, but not being controlled by the pain.”
We read in the Psalms that David grew weary with the process of grief and cried out to the Lord. Then he left the timing in God’s hands.
Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish. How long, O LORD, how long? Turn, O LORD, and deliver me; save me because of Your unfailing love. — Psalm 6:2-4
I am weary with my sighing; Every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears. My eye has wasted away with grief. — Psalm 6:6-7
Heavenly God, I cannot even begin to put my grief in a time frame. Thank You that I don’t have to. Comfort me and support me as I lean on You.
He Will Carry You
Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to You, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. — Psalm 61:1-3
The Lord will carry you if you ask Him. When you are feeling so weak you cannot take another step, ask Him to lift you high into His loving arms. Then rest in Him with an open and listening heart. This does not mean your problems will disappear, but it does mean you will have Someone to share them with.
“If you are someone who does not know Jesus Christ as your Savior and you have just been widowed or bereaved, you have a tremendous burden,” says Elisabeth Elliot. “You are tired, and it is too big a burden to carry. The Lord says, ‘Come to Me, you who are tired and over-burdened, and I will give you rest.’”
To receive peace and rest in Christ, the instructions are clear. Jesus says, “Come to Me.” You must first approach Him and then talk to Him and quietly listen.
Lord, I come to You. My heart is worn out, and I need You. Take my heavy burden today. Amen.
If you've lost a spouse, child, family member, or friend, you've discovered that few people understand the deep hurt you feel. Where do you turn for daily comfort and help? Where do you find the tools to move forward? Through a Season of Grief is the first 365-day devotional designed to support and uplift you in the first, most difficult year of bereavement. These devotions offer biblical comfort and practical teaching that will enable you to take steps forward each day toward healing. You will better understand the grieving process and will receive needed encouragement along the way. More than thirty respected Christian professionals – including Kay Arthur, Jack Hayford, Elisabeth Elliot, Norman Wright, Barbara Johnson, and Luis Palau – share their insights on how to walk through the devastation of grief toward wholeness and hope. You will also hear from people like you who have lost a loved one and have found God's healing presence in the midst of despair. This unique devotional is based on GriefShare®, a national grief recovery support group program that has helped more than 100,000 families. "Grief is likely the most difficult journey you will ever take. We pray that these devotions will provide you with instruction, wisdom, hope, and healing as you face grief moment by moment and day by day." — Bill and Kathy, authors
You probably know most of the prophets in the Bible like Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Daniel, Jonah, and the others with Old Testament books named for them, but the bible identifies many more prophets. In this blog series we will get to know most of the prophets of the Bible, the ones with books named after them, and those whose names you may not know at all.
The English word prophet in the Old Testament comes from the Hebrew word “nabiy” which means “spokesman” or “speaker”. The Greek word for prophet is “prophētēs”, which can mean “one who speaks forth” or “advocate.” Prophets are also called “seers,” because of their spiritual insight or their ability to “see” the future, as directed by God.
Luke 2:25-26 (HCSB)25 There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel’s consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him.26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah.
Simeon prophesied about Jesus’ future. He had been told by the Holy Spirit that he would see Israel’s Messiah before he died. He wasn’t told when, just that he would see Him. Then one day when he was at the temple something amazing happened. He saw a young couple who had come to dedicate their baby. Baby dedications weren’t unusual because parents came to dedicate their children everyday. The Law required that Jewish parents bring their new babies to the temple, to offer a sacrifice and dedicate their child to God.
Leviticus 12:6-7 (HCSB)6 “When her days of purification are complete, whether for a son or daughter, she is to bring to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting a year-old male lamb for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering.7 He will present them before the LORD and make atonement on her behalf; she will be clean from her discharge of blood. This is the law for a woman giving birth, whether to a male or female.
The young couple that Simeon saw that day was Mary and Joseph, who were rejoicing in the birth of their Son, Jesus. It’s pretty clear that the Holy Spirit told Simeon that this was the Messiah, the one he had been waiting with such great expectation all these years.
Luke 2:27-32 (HCSB)27 Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple complex. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for Him what was customary under the law,28 Simeon took Him up in his arms, praised God, and said:29 Now, Master, You can dismiss Your slave in peace, as You promised.30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation.31 You have prepared ⌊it⌋ in the presence of all peoples--32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory to Your people Israel.
His expectations were based on God’s word as recorded by the prophet Isaiah.
Isaiah 7:14 (HCSB)14 Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.
Isaiah 9:1-7 (HCSB)1 Nevertheless, the gloom of the distressed land will not be like that of the former times when He humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali. But in the future He will bring honor to the Way of the Sea, to the land east of the Jordan, and to Galilee of the nations.2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness.3 You have enlarged the nation and increased its joy. ⌊The people⌋ have rejoiced before You as they rejoice at harvest time and as they rejoice when dividing spoils.4 For You have shattered their oppressive yoke and the rod on their shoulders, the staff of their oppressor, just as ⌊You did⌋ on the day of Midian.5 For the trampling boot of battle and the bloodied garments of war will be burned as fuel for the fire.6 For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.7 The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the LORD of Hosts will accomplish this.
Simeon's expectant hope in the Messiah caused him to live a life of waiting to see Immanuel. Can you imagine how it must of felt for Simeon to daily go to the temple and come home without seeing the Messiah? He went day after day and nothing, but he didn’t give up. God had made him a promise and no matter how long it took he continued to look for the Messiah. He remained faithful to God’s promise. He didn’t give up just because the fulfilment of the promise was a long time coming. He believed God.
Habakkuk 2:3 (HCSB) For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it testifies about the end and will not lie. Though it delays, wait for it, since it will certainly come and not be late.Simeon’s faith can encourage you to never forget the promises that the Holy Spirit has spoken into your life. Simeon went to the temple every day looking for the Messiah and every day went home not having seen Him. But he remained faithful to God’s promise to him, that he wouldn’t die until he had seen Him, so he continued to go expecting to see the Messiah any day. That’s the way our faith should operate. We should expect the answer to our prayers, and the fulfillment of God’s promises to happen any day.
God has made you promises too!
2 Peter 1:3-4 (HCSB) His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.4 By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires.
He’s promised you eternal life.
John 3:16 (HCSB)16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
He’s promised never leave or forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:3 (HCSB)3 The LORD your God is the One who will cross ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will drive them out. Joshua is the one who will cross ahead of you, as the LORD has said.
He’s promised to meet all of your needs.
Philippians 4:19 (HCSB) And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
He’s promised you eternal security.
John 10:27-30 (HCSB)27 My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me.28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand.29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.30 The Father and I are one.”
Psalm 96:3-4 NIV Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. (Emphasis mine)
The beauty and power of praise that will come to the Lord from the diversity of the nations are greater than the beauty and power that would come to him if the chorus of the redeemed were culturally uniform.
Why Is Diversity Important In The Church?
Cultural diversity is important because our country, workplaces, and schools increasingly consist of various cultural, racial, and ethnic groups. We can learn from one another, but first we must have a level of understanding about each other in order to facilitate collaboration and cooperation. Learning about other cultures helps us understand different perspectives within the world in which we live, and helps dispel negative stereotypes and personal biases about different groups.
In addition, cultural diversity helps us recognize and respect “ways of being” that are not necessarily our own, so that as we interact with others we can build bridges to trust, respect, and understanding across cultures. Furthermore, this diversity makes our country a more interesting place to live, as people from diverse cultures contribute language skills, new ways of thinking, new knowledge, and different experiences.
Cultural diversity supports the idea that every person can make a unique and positive contribution to the larger society because of, rather than in spite of, their differences. Imagine a place where diversity is recognized and respected; various cultural ideas are acknowledged and valued; contributions from all groups are encouraged; people are empowered to achieve their full potential; and differences are celebrated.
Fight, Surrender, or Invest
I John 4:18 NKJV There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
Even though the concerns in our society may not be as new or extreme as we have assumed, they are present. So, how should we approach a broken society?
One option would be to fight back. The Bible is filled with examples of God sending His people to not only speak firmly but also stand in opposition to the injustice in the world. Yet while many Christians have taken brave stands against the marginalization of people, there are also examples of Christians who, in their efforts to stand up for truth, have actually hurt society.
Anytime we find ourselves putting down a community, or group for any reason, means that we have a problem with people, Any hateful feelings you may have toward these people are opposite of the feelings God has for them. Combativeness without compassion is always going to be counterproductive.
Another response would be to surrender to society. But because society is always in flux, it’s impossible to have a consistent worldview when we’re eager to go along with society. We should never change our orthodox beliefs to line up with a culture that is constantly changing.
A third option is to invest in society with empathy and conviction. As opposed to words such as fight and surrender, the word invest paints a picture of people giving of themselves to improve the world around them. It means that you and I don’t just write blogs or talk boldly about cultural problems; we sacrifice and invest in the lives of others in society.
Invest is another way of saying the word engage. Engagement encompasses learning about a certain context or group of people to better understand them. Developing relationships with people not like us or people who might intimidate us is so necessary. Our differences with people should drive us to them, not from them.
This third option makes the most sense. When we’re afraid of what tomorrow holds for society and respond by fighting against people, surrendering to misguided ideas, or simply showing indifference to growing causes around the world, we’re choosing to mistreat and devalue others. Not only is dismissing people never a valid option, but it isn’t pleasing to God. - From God Of Tomorrow 5 Day Reading Plan by Caleb Kaltenbach
Unity in diversity is more beautiful and more powerful than the unity of uniformity. When their diversity unites in worship to God, the beauty of their praise will echo the depth and greatness of God’s beauty far more than if the redeemed were from only a few different people groups.
“Diversity is the one true thing we have in common. Celebrate it every day.”
I recently published Once You Accept Jesus As Lord And Savior You’re Guaranteed To Finish The Race in that post and one that I published several years ago, Strong Finish, Strong Faith, Do You Have The Endurance To Win?, I compared our lives after salvation to a marathon. Once we receive accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, we are guaranteed to finish the race with the prize being eternal life in God’s presence. However the race requires the endurance of strong faith to finish as one of the leaders,
“To develop the endurance that we need to complete life's race we must have faith and our faith must become strong. If not we will cross the finish line but barely, and in that group of stragglers at the tail end of the race. Yes they finish and will get a ribbon that says they finished but don’t you want to be one of the top finishers? I want you to be one of the top finishers because we know that while all believers will enjoy eternal life with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ some will receive greater rewards than others. Those receiving the greater rewards will be those with the strongest faith and having the strongest finish in the race.”
I read something by Christine Caine that also compares our Christian lives to a race, but for her a relay race. I agree that while this is a marathon it is also a relay. One in which we receive the baton, run our leg, and then pass the baton to others.
Fix Your Eyes on Jesus – Focus on Who Christ Is In You!
by Christine Caine, from her book Unstoppable
The Bible is full of ordinary people whom God called to His divine relay. Which of them, in their power, their resources, or their ways had what was required to do what God called them to do?
Moses was told to lead his people from slavery, then was caught between Pharaoh’s chariots and the Red Sea. Joshua was told to conquer the walled city of Jericho armed with nothing more than trumpets. Gideon was told to defeat the massive Midianite army after the Lord purposefully shrank his army from 32,000 men to only 300 armed with nothing more than trumpets, torches, and empty jars. Peter was beckoned by Jesus to get out of the boat and walk on water.
Are you catching the theme here?
Just like these people, when we learn to focus on who God is rather than on what we are not, we see that it is God who is working in us to do the very thing He has purposed to do in our lives. As we learn to run the race, accept His batons, and submit to His training, God’s work in and through us is always growing and increasing. Christ in us becomes an unstoppable force in our lives and is spilled out into the lives of others.
Carrying the baton in our race is never about what we can accomplish for God. If He wanted, God could accomplish everything on His own without us, just as He created the heavens and the earth. He could have slain Pharaoh’s army and horses in midstep and melted the chariots in the blink of an eye. He could have brought the walls of Jericho down as Joshua and his men were sleeping. He could have turned the massive Midianite army to stone before Gideon’s men blew a trumpet. He could have transformed the wild waves beneath Peter’s feet to solid rock. God’s goal in each of those cases was to do far more than accomplish a task – it was to build the faith of His people. He wanted them to grow in their experience of Him. He wanted His people to taste His power and be transformed by His might.
As you continue in your race, refuse to focus on what you are not, what you cannot do, and what you do not know. Rely on God’s power. Rely on God’s resources. Rely on God’s ways. Focus on who Christ is in you. This is fixing your eyes on Jesus!
As you carry your baton, Christ’s unstoppable power is expanding in you. His impact on your world is going to increase. His transformation in you is going to increase. Once you’ve grasped this mystery – Christ in you – you will transform the world through acts of love and you will be continually transformed on the inside to become more like Him.
I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. – Ephesians 3:16-21
Excerpted with permission from Unstoppable: Running the Race You Were Born to Win by Christine Caine.
In Undaunted, Christine Caine offers life-transforming insights about how not only to overcome the challenges, wrong turns, and often painful circumstances we all experience, but also to actually grow from those experiences and be equipped and empowered to help others. She issues a personal, direct call-to-action: Be the love. Bring the hope. Be the change. $16.99
Tremendous Online Bible Study opportunity from FaithGateWay online community. A Faith The Evidence partner.
You are Invited to The Rock, the Road, and the Rabbi Online Bible Study
Laurie McClure, editor at Devotionals Daily
Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. — Psalm 119:105
The Old Testament was written in ancient Hebrew. The New Testament was written in ancient Greek. We have to understand what the Word of God actually says in order to understand how to apply it to our lives today in this modern word. ~ Kathie Lee Gifford
Your faith is about to get a whole lot deeper.
Friends, I could hardly wait to invite you to one of our most intriguing and rich Online Bible Studies yet! This August we are going to be walking dusty and gorgeous roads in Israel with Kathie Lee Gifford as we learn completely new-to-us concepts about the Bible in The Rock, the Road, and the Rabbi.
The Rock is Jesus. The Road is the Holy Land. And, the Rabbi is the Word of God.
Kathie Lee Gifford is joined by a phenomenal rabbinical teacher, Rabbi Jason Sobel, a messianic Jewish teacher (that just means he’s a Jesus-believing Rabbi). Together, they break down misconceptions and reveal to us stories of our Christian history that will rock our worlds!
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law.— Psalm 119:18
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In 6 video lessons (all available for FREE with the OBS!) Kathie Lee will take us to the Holy Land to explore dozens of ancient landmarks and historical sites.
You'll get to see amazing video teachings from all these locations:
This study is different than any other we’ve ever done. It’s part history, part Israel tour, part Bible investigation, and part daily personal Bible study. How exciting is that?!
I hope you will join us for The Rock, the Road, and the Rabbi Online Bible Study. It is loaded up with holy history and holy Scripture so prepare to learn and grow in your understanding and relationship with the Word of God and Jesus Himself.
The Rock, the Road, and the Rabbi OBS starts August 6th and continues for six weeks, so grab your friends, family, and neighbors, and register today.
When you sign up you'll also receive a bonus, FREE 7-day devotional to prepare you before the study starts. I can’t wait for us to learn so many new and exciting Bible truths in this study together!
The Rock, the Road, and the Rabbi
Study dates are August 6 - September 16
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As a lifelong student of Scripture, Kathie Lee Gifford has always desired a deeper understanding of God’s Word and a deeper knowledge of God Himself. But it wasn’t until she began studying the biblical texts in their original Hebrew and Greek — along with actually hiking the ancient paths of Israel — that she found the fulfillment of those desires.
In our next Online Bible Study, you'll walk with Kathie on a journey through the spiritual foundations of her faith:
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“Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!”
“Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman!”
The success of the Superman franchise is testimony to the character’s enduring popularity. As versatile as he is powerful, the Man of Steel has flown from comic books to radio to movies highlighted by ever more sophisticated special effects.
Psalm 18 is David's expression of confidence in and thanksgiving to the Ultimate Superhero, God Almighty!
Psalm 18 was written by David after his deliverance from Saul and from others who hated and opposed him. Many believe that it was written when David was old and He praised God as he recalled God’s mercy and deliverance. Others think that he actually wrote it when he was young, after God delivered him from his many early adversities. In the psalm he gives glory to God, and takes comfort in Him because of His past favor, and in anticipation of future favor.
Like David we should, in our praise, look as far back as we can, and thank God for His protection, His, grace, His mercy, and His salvation through His Son Jesus; and we should look forward with anticipation for more of the same, as my Pastor loves to say, we move from glory, to glory, to glory.
Is Anybody Up There?
by Gary D. Robinson
It was always the same. Episode after episode, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, two of the only three reporters the Daily Planet could afford, rushed off in pursuit of a “scoop” only to be scooped up by the bad guys.
Did these two have the good sense to worry? Of course not! For, in the guise of Clark Kent, their mild-mannered colleague, Superman was always watching out for them. Lois and Jimmy knew they could depend on Superman.
He bursts through the brick wall. The adobe bounces and the dust flies and there he stands! Out come the villains’ guns. How I love George Reeves’ classically bored expression as the bullets bounce harmlessly off his chest!
“Oh, Superman!” gushes Lois. “You saved us again!”
With a wry grin, Reeves would reply, “That’s my job, isn’t it, Miss Lane?”
Wouldn’t it be a comfort to have somebody like Superman watching out for us? Got a flat and no jack? No problem for the Man of Steel! He can pick up the car, hold ‘er steady while we change the tire, and never even break a sweat!
But why waste such a magnificent creature on small stuff? Save him for when we’re stricken with a fatal disease. Why, he can fly into the future, retrieve the cure, and be back before one second has ticked by! (George Reeves never did that, but the comic book hero used to all the time.)
Did Mom and Dad break up? Superman can fix it. . Am I saddled with some fear or compulsion, habit or addiction? You know the Man of Tomorrow must be able to help!
After all, that’s why they call him “Superman,” isn’t it?
But, let’s face it; reality is more steel than Superman will ever be made of. And fantasizing does little to salve our suffering.
Well, what about God, then? He’s real, isn’t He? Yes, I believe He is. He loves us, doesn’t He? Yes, I believe He does. Well, why doesn’t He rescue us when we’re in trouble?
You know, sometimes He does. If you listen to the “Focus on the Family” radio program, you may remember hearing the dramatic story of Duane Miller. He was a minister who loved to preach and sing. Then Duane lost his voice and plunged into a pit of despair. Did God rescue him? Did He! Not only did He restore Duane’s voice, He allowed the miracle to be audiotaped as it happened!
King David knew how God could rescue. He’d pulled David’s fat out of the fire more than once.
And David loved to make up songs – Psalms, we call them – about these rescues. “The sorrows of death compassed me,” sings David in the eighteenth Psalm. “The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.
Psalm 18:4-5 NIV The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.
In David’s distress, he calls on the Lord. Then, by George, things start to happen!
Psalm 18:7-10 NIV The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry. Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind.
David’s description of God’s ride to the rescue includes lightning, hail, and coals of fire. About the only thing missing is His bursting through a brick wall!
But David knew the other side of the coin too. The 18th Psalm is a song of triumph. Flip forward a couple pages in your Bible, however, and you’ll find David singing a different tune”
Psalm 22:1 NIV My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?
The favor he quaffs in Psalms 18 is flung back into his face.
Psalm 22:7-8 NIV All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. “He trusts in the Lord ,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”
One thing about the Bible, it’s realistic. Pollyanna didn’t write it, and you do get the bitter with the sweet.
But the question remains: Why must we have the bitter at all? Especially if God loves us?
And we’re not talking about flat tires or even the flu. We’re wondering why we’re dealt such cruel and continuous blows. Here’s a thirty-eight-year-old mother of two bereft of a husband and a father for her children. Here’s a lady who’s being fed a steady diet of contempt by her philandering mate. Here’s a kid who has to cope with dope on the playground and no hope at home. Here’s a world where “Look! Up in the sky!” is just an invitation to look at a bird or a plane . . . .or a particularly dark cloud.
Is there anybody — anybody — to rescue us?
Believe me, beloved, if I didn’t think there was, you wouldn’t be hearing this.
Is God interested in you? The Bible says so.
Just read the first few verses of Psalms 139 and be convinced.
Psalm 139:1-6, 17-18 NIV You have searched me, Lord , and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord , know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.
Does God love you? Again, the Bible says so.
John 3:16 NIV For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 5:8 NIV But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
1 John 3:1 NIV See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
Psalm 103:11 NIV For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
Shall I go on?
“All right, then. If He loves me so darn much, why doesn’t He rescue me?”
It all depends on what we want to be rescued from. We don’t have time to fathom all the deep questions of suffering and evil. Suffice it to say that evil and suffering are part of life. God doesn’t rescue us from life.
Instead, He rescues us from meaningless, purposeless, hopeless living.
I personally don’t have a dramatic testimony. (Wish I did. It really wows a crowd!) I was raised in a good home, brought up to know right from wrong, taken to church. I married an excellent woman and the Lord blessed us with two excellent kids. I’ve had my troubles, sure, but nothing major. So what do I have to say to those of you who really wonder whether God loves you?
Just this: I don’t think, I know – if it weren’t for Jesus Christ, my life would be a wreck
In the first place, He gives me a Meaning without which I would surely despair. I know who I am: I am one who was loved by God before time began. No, I’m not afraid to say it, I am the apple of His eye, the cream in His coffee, and the sugar in His tea.
How do I know this? Easy. “The Bible tells me so.” It tells you the same.
What’s more, He gives me a Purpose without which I, for one, would flounder miserably in life. It’s not that I know I’m to be a preacher so much as it is I know the purpose of life in general. Beloved, I know what to do whether I stand before a congregation with a Bible before me or before an wall with a bucket of paint beside me. Whether preacher, plumber, or paperback writer, I must live to please God. For that is the whole duty of man.
How do I know this? Elementary. “The Bible tells me so.” You too.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 NIV Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.
Finally, He gives me a Hope that is greater than circumstances. It’s a hope without which I think I would commit suicide. Without it, even a relatively undamaged life like mine is just a wind-up clock running down. With it, the world can do its worst. Ultimately, it won’t matter.
My late brother-in-law, a man who had to surrender this life at a mere 41 years of age, died with that hope. My sister, who must live without her husband, lives with that hope. It’s the hope of a city, a glory, a hope of seeing the very face of God in a place where they’ll never ever be separated from on another again.
It’s the hope of a whole new world, a place that’ll make this place at its best look like a shoddy, painted doll beside a man’s sweetheart. A place where we can never ever feel afraid, even if we try.
How do I know this? You know. The same way I know Jesus loves me. “The Bible tells me so.” And so it tells you.
What you have to do is believe what it tells you. That’s what makes the difference.
He didn’t come in a rocket, but in a manger. He didn’t deflect bullets nor heft autos. Instead, He sweated bullets of blood and bore the awful weight of our sin upon the cross.
Look! Up on the cross! It’s the love of God come down to us in Jesus Christ!
Colossians 1:27 NIV To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
When we go to the movies or read stories, the heroes are always the ones who can do more. They have a special ability or a special story. Whether it’s immense brainpower, super speed, or strong magic - each time we recognize who the hero is because of what they can do. But God’s heroes are never those people.
He never chooses the ones everyone else would choose. He looks for the disadvantaged, the small, the scared, the unlearned and he transforms them into testimonies for His glory!
Apart from God, David was never going to be more than a shepherd. He was never going to slay giants or conquer armies until God pointed at him and said, you are my chosen.
God has done the same to you.
Psalm 18:1-50 NIV I love you, Lord , my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord , who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies. The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called to the Lord ; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry. Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him— the dark rain clouds of the sky. Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning. The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them. The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at your rebuke, Lord , at the blast of breath from your nostrils. He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord ; I am not guilty of turning from my God. All his laws are before me; I have not turned away from his decrees. I have been blameless before him and have kept myself from sin. The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight. To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd. You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty. You, Lord , keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop ; with my God I can scale a wall. As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord ’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord ? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way. I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed. I crushed them so that they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet. You armed me with strength for battle; you humbled my adversaries before me. You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes. They cried for help, but there was no one to save them— to the Lord , but he did not answer. I beat them as fine as windblown dust; I trampled them like mud in the streets. You have delivered me from the attacks of the people; you have made me the head of nations. People I did not know now serve me, foreigners cower before me; as soon as they hear of me, they obey me. They all lose heart; they come trembling from their strongholds. The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior! He is the God who avenges me, who subdues nations under me, who saves me from my enemies. You exalted me above my foes; from a violent man you rescued me. Therefore I will praise you, Lord , among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name. He gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing love to his anointed, to David and to his descendants forever.
Psalm 38:1-22 (NLT2)1 O LORD, don’t rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your rage!2 Your arrows have struck deep, and your blows are crushing me.3 Because of your anger, my whole body is sick; my health is broken because of my sins.4 My guilt overwhelms me— it is a burden too heavy to bear.5 My wounds fester and stink because of my foolish sins.6 I am bent over and racked with pain. All day long I walk around filled with grief.7 A raging fever burns within me, and my health is broken.8 I am exhausted and completely crushed. My groans come from an anguished heart.9 You know what I long for, Lord; you hear my every sigh.10 My heart beats wildly, my strength fails, and I am going blind.11 My loved ones and friends stay away, fearing my disease. Even my own family stands at a distance.12 Meanwhile, my enemies lay traps to kill me. Those who wish me harm make plans to ruin me. All day long they plan their treachery.13 But I am deaf to all their threats. I am silent before them as one who cannot speak.14 I choose to hear nothing, and I make no reply.15 For I am waiting for you, O LORD. You must answer for me, O Lord my God.16 I prayed, “Don’t let my enemies gloat over me or rejoice at my downfall.”17 I am on the verge of collapse, facing constant pain.18 But I confess my sins; I am deeply sorry for what I have done.19 I have many aggressive enemies; they hate me without reason.20 They repay me evil for good and oppose me for pursuing good.21 Do not abandon me, O LORD. Do not stand at a distance, my God.22 Come quickly to help me, O Lord my savior.
The Passionate Expression Of A Suffering Man
David writes that he has a serious skin disease and attributes it to him being guilty of sin. He asks God, in His mercy to lighten his suffering. Because of his condition his family and friends are keeping their distance and his enemies are taking advantage of his weakened condition.
Davids condition and circumstances are much like those of Job whose friends either desert of fail to sympathize properly with him.
Job 2:7-9 (NLT2)7 So Satan left the LORD’s presence, and he struck Job with terrible boils from head to foot.8 Job scraped his skin with a piece of broken pottery as he sat among the ashes.9 His wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.”
Job 2:12-13 (NLT2)12 When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief.13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.
Job 6:14-16 (NLT2)14 “One should be kind to a fainting friend, but you accuse me without any fear of the Almighty.15 My brothers, you have proved as unreliable as a seasonal brook that overflows its banks in the spring16 when it is swollen with ice and melting snow.
Forsaken and dejected, he looks to God as his last and only hope.
Psalm 38:22 (NLT2) Come quickly to help me, O Lord my savior.
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.