“…my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long,
‘Where is your God?’”
Psalm 42:11 (NIV)
As you read Psalm 42 you quickly realise that the writer is conflicted about his situation in life. It appears that he has been oppressed for some time and the situation has brought him to constant weeping. He says, “My tears have been my food day and night,” verse 3 (NIV). He recalls the days of joy and enthusiastic worship of the Lord that are now just history. At present he cannot find God.
Then he “talks” to himself in the words of verse 5 and says, “Why are you downcast, O my soul?…Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him…” (NIV). Self talk is a term used to identify the action of a person describing their situation to themselves in positive or negative terms. This is exactly what the Psalmist is doing.
The writer starts the Psalm describing his great desire for the refreshing sense of God’s presence. He has lost the joy of being with his God and craves a time when he shall once again appear before the Lord. Although this is negative self talk, we assume it is an accurate description of his situation. Continue reading 'Have You Tried “Self Talk”?'»
“For he was looking forward to the city with foundations,
whose architect and builder is God.”
Hebrews 11:10 (NIV)
I have fond memories of my childhood and travelling from one place to another in our old 1930 Buick. We had the oldest car in our neighbourhood and at times I would be embarrassed to be in it if my friends saw me. Our particular car did not have a heater or windshield defroster installed for use in winter.
But as I remember those “good old days” there were some memories from then that were not so good. For example we could not buy quality tires for our car and as children we all rode along in terror waiting for an inevitable “blow out”. That occurred when the tire ruptured and the air leaked out quickly and caused the vehicle to sway and possibly skid off the road.
In my youth I would never have imagined that a passenger car would ever have a video system to entertain young passengers and make the journey more pleasant for them.
There are so many helps to make riding in a car pleasant, but on the journey of life we can be rudely detoured and there is nothing we can do about it. With certain illnesses doctors have few resources to help us. If we lose our job we may have to sell the family home if we are blessed enough to own one.
Continue reading 'Is this life a journey or a destination for you?'»
“So we fix our eyes…on what is unseen.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)
In the world around us there are various things that seem to be paradoxes. The very first paradox that I recall learning was in high-school physics. The teacher explained to the class that light can be explained as waves such as are seen on a body of water when it is disturbed, or it can be explained as particles travelling from the source to the observer.
The problem with this wave-particle duality is that you cannot have it both ways at the same time. So we recognize that in the realm of the physical world there are statements that seem contradictory at times.
In Scripture we also come across texts that appear to be in conflict with themselves. For example, in Hebrews 11:27, it says of Moses, “…he saw him who is invisible.” (NIV) How did Moses see God who is “invisible”?
Our text today is calling on us to do what we think is impossible. How can God and eternal things be seen? Well it is evident that the writers of Scripture are asking us to use a form of vision that takes us beyond our eyes in some ways.
In the context of our verse Paul makes reference to things that are eternal and contrasts them with what is “temporal”. He is seeking to have his readers look beyond the present world that is wasting away and look at the things that are going to last forever. Paul speaks of the eternal as glorious. Continue reading 'How Can You See what Is Invisible?'»
See that you do not look down on one of these little ones.
For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face
of my Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:10 (NIV)
Today I received an urgent call from a dear friend of mine. He told me that a good friend of his had suffered the loss of one of his children. Instantly my heart went out to the person whom I had never met. There is something especially obscene about the idea of a parent burying their child.
Some years ago I conducted the funerals of two sons in one family. One child was a year old when he died and the other was a teenager. Those two days were dreadfully hard on me.
We may rage against this enemy called death, and rightfully so. It is especially appropriate when it robs us of a younger member of our family. As an older person myself, I know that my death will not be mourned in the same way as that of a child.
My children are all grown and happy in life. They do not need me any more. They have developed survival skills and now adequately care for themselves. We all realize that senior citizens are prone to dying.
When it comes to children most of us have an especially protective nature. This way of seeing children is very evident in the life of our Lord. Jesus was described in our text as loving and receiving the child tenderly.
In Mark 9:36 we are told that Jesus took the child into His arms. Our Lord is the type of man who is not hesitant to easily embrace little children. His strong arms held the child gently for all to see.
Continue reading 'The Last Chapter Has Not Yet Been Written'»
“What do you have against me, man of God?
Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?”
1 Kings 17:18 (NIV)
Over forty years ago I visited a lady who was very ill. As a new pastor I had little in my inventory of comments to make to a person who suffered so much. I had known her for years and realised that the frightened person before me bore little resemblance to the fun loving woman I had known.
She asked me what she had done to deserve such pain and suffering. I recall little of what I said on that occasion but I have visited many people since who find the same question on their lips in a time of sorrow.
The woman who spoke the words of our verse was so poor that she was making the last meal she could for herself and her son and then they would starve to death. Her situation was already pitiful but it soon became worse when the “man of God” showed up and asked her to make him a meal. For a short while after his arrival she discovered that her pantry produced food for all three of them.
Suddenly the woman’s son fell deathly ill and died. The mother then said to the prophet, “Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?” (NIV) The distraught woman thought the reason for her son’s illness and death was because of some sin in her life. This is a common but usually wrong assumption on the part of people who suffer.
Continue reading 'Is Tragedy a Punishment for Sin?'»