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Showing posts from October, 2014

How long?

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How long, O Lord?

Does that sound familiar? Circumstances and people immediately come to most of our minds as we wonder: How long will this … last?

For David, the question was not only how long he would have to be bothered by his enemies, but also how long before he felt again the presence of the Lord in the circumstances he was facing. So often our troubles are equated with a feeling that God has abandoned us. David faced this same gnawing doubt in Psalm 13.

How long, how long, how long…?

He was feeling pretty low. He describes himself as wrestling with his thoughts and having sorrow in his heart, and feeling like he may as well be dead (vs 2, 3). That may be startling news considering who we are talking about. But David was not ashamed to admit that he was overwhelmed. We can relate. How often have we wrestled with fear, anxiety, and doubt? How many “sad” days have become a part of our reality? How many of us have wished for death as an escape from the pain of life?

But then, through…

Safe No Matter What

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The events of this past week in Quebec and Ontario and the deaths of two Canadian soldiers, and their two disturbed assailants, highlights the anxiety that lies, often barely concealed, at the core of our society.

It seems like the world, even our fairly isolated world here in Canada, is falling apart.

As I read Psalm 11 this morning, I wanted to echo the psalmist’s confidence that everything is under control—no mean feat when danger seems to lurk in broad daylight in “safe” places like parking lots and national memorials.

David begins by saying: “In the Lord I take refuge.” That’s the best place to start. In one of my Bibles I have written in the margin: “The righteous know to go to the refuge.”

But those who were not so secure immediately questioned his resolve to find comfort in the embrace of God.

How then can you say to me,” he wrote: ‘Flee like a bird to your mountain. For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the …

Before Deliverance

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This is what you say when everything is going well:

But you are a shield around me, O Lord, my Glorious One, who lifts up my head. To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. I lie down and sleep; I wake up again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side” (Psalm 3:3-6)

However, this psalm of David was written when he was forced to flee from Jerusalem when his own son, Absalom, was determined to kill him and take over his throne.

No biggie.

Who among us would be so secure in the Lord that under such circumstances we could say the same?

David’s statement about sleeping peacefully while surrounded by his enemies reminded me of another psalm.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Psalm 23:5).

David sleeps well and eats a leisurely meal even in the worst of times. We’d be tempted to call it foolharty but such is his faith in the Lord to deliver him one way or the other, that he can make th…

Watching and Working

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Yesterday I had the opportunity to share some of the “God-things” that have happened to me in my life's journey to this point. The memories are still capable of bringing tears to my own eyes as I remember the faithfulness of God in completing the work His has started in me (Philippians 1:6) in spite of the twists and turns in life that, at the time, I was unable to understand.

So when I read Psalm 1 this morning I was especially impacted by the last verse: “For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous” (Psalm 1:6, NIV). The Scripture refers to this “watching” or  “knowing” in many places.

Job 23:10: “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (NIV)

Psalm 31:7, 8: “I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place” (ESV).

Psalm 37:18, 19: “The Lord knows the days of …

God Chose a Woman

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In many ways we have too many details when it comes to the story of Esther. If there ever was a series of events that could give rise to a spirit of feminism, this is it. Women subjugated, dehumanized, and brutalized, treated as chattels to be used, abused and then discarded at the whim of the male of the species. That women accepted this role in life without question is a perfect example of the depths to which the curse, placed upon them in Genesis 3:16, had brought them.

Even Mordecai could be accused of using his own niece as a pawn to his political ambitions. Unlike Moses’ mother who hid her son in a basket to protect him from the pharaoh, Uncle Mordecai made no attempt to shield her from the slavers disguised as wife-seekers to King Xerxes.

However, even man’s abhorrent behaviour is woven into God’s divine design. In the book named after Esther we learn about a plot to kill all the Jews, perpetrated by Haman, an intimate of the king. Mordecai passes the information on to Esther. …

Courage Part Two

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Ezra, the priest, gathered up his fears and took courage “because the hand of the Lord my God was on me” (Ezra 7:28). During the same period another man felt that same power infusing him with the courage to ask huge favours of scary people.

Nehemiah was cupbearer to King Artaxerxes (Nehemiah 1:11). This was a dangerous job if this particular king, like those of his kind, needed someone not just to approve the bouquet of his wine, but to make sure that wine wasn’t poisoned. Nehemiah, as a Jewish captive in Susa, was expendable should someone have evil intentions.

But that wasn’t what sent chills up and down Nehemiah’s spine. He had heard about the state of Jerusalem and the news devastated him (1:4). What made him afraid was the urge he felt to approach his master and ask for permission to go to Jerusalem and rebuild its walls. Such effrontery might cost him his head. We are told in Nehemiah 1:11 that he prayed for favour before the king.

But when he appeared before Artaxerxes, the king…

Courage

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Because the hand of the Lord my God was on me, I took courage…” —Ezra 7:28.

It only takes a few words to say a lot.

Ezra the priest, teacher of the Law of Moses, was one of the exiles serving out the Hebrew nation’s time in captivity. He has been sent back to Jerusalem with the task of rebuilding the temple. He has the imperial stamp of approval and support of the king of Persia whose favour was divinely inspired (Ezra 7:6).

But even with the support of the king and with the help of all those who journeyed with him, Ezra’s task is huge. The invasions of Israel’s enemies has left behind nothing but ruins and a hostile population of foreigners who have been been exiled to Israel to keep the weeds from overrunning the place.

Ezra, as a teacher and a priest, is likely given to quieter and more solitary pursuits. But here he is. And as he faces the challenge he senses again the presence of the Lord. He remembers how God has already moved to make all this possible. Who else could have caused…

Recipe for God's Blessing

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It was one of those details that I had never noticed before.

Hezekiah is king in Judah. Determined to follow the Lord wholeheartedly and to bring his people back to God, he repairs the temple, gives order for the priests and Levites to consecrate themselves and then leads them in consecrating the temple and restoring the worship of God once more (2 Chronicles 29).

Chapter 30 describes the next stage of Hezekiah’s spiritual reforms. We know that at this stage of history Israel and Judah are separate nations, often enemies. Israel, the northern kingdom, was prone to idol-worship. While Judah sometimes slipped into the same sin, her kings tended to be more given to following God and maintaining the nation’s connection with Him. Hezekiah’s actions in restoring the worship of God after one of these “slips” is interesting.

They decided to send a proclamation throughout Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, calling the people to come to Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to the Lord, the God if I…