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Mourning Yet Praising

Today’s post is taken from one of Today in the Word’s devotionals by Moody Bible Institute. I think this pairs well with my Prayer When Struggling With Depression post from last week. 

Is it really possible to be depressed or in mourning and still be praising God? This might sound like a paradox but it is indeed possible. We can mourn or be depressed about a situation and yet praise God because of who He is and how He is always with us. If we have trusted Him in the past we can trust Him again and again because we know that He will see us through this particular storm. And because He has been faithful to us before, we can count on that faithfulness every single day.

Beloved, please read on. I believe you will be blessed by this as much as I am.

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Mourning yet Praising

StreamWaterfall-www.todayintheword.org

Read Psalm 42 

My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you. 
—Psalm 42:6 

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Ten years ago, Chuck and Lynette’s daughter Joy died of complications from epilepsy. She was 28 years old. Joy was a vibrant Christian who had lived up to her name—everyone who knew her testified to her sweet spirit. “I miss her so much every day,” Lynette said. “We used to sing together in church, and I have so many special memories of singing and laughing together. When I sing those songs today, sometimes I cry instead of laugh, but I know that one day we’ll be reunited at the feet of Jesus.”

Lynette’s statement beautifully captures the paradoxical tension within biblical lament. We can feel loss and hope at the same time. We can sing hymns of praise even while we weep and mourn.Our reading for today, Psalm 42, concludes our focus this month on lament. Unlike some of the other lament psalms, this one does not move in a straight line from lament over circumstances to trust in God’s character. Throughout the psalm, the poet describes how desperation and faith wrestle with one another.

In the first four verses, the psalmist articulates his loneliness, torment, grief, and longing. The opening image of the deer panting for water vividly conveys the psalmist’s desperate yearning. Verses 5 and 6 serve as both a summary of the psalm and a hinge between its two sections. The psalmist indicates that he is both downcast and trusting God. He has hope that the time for praise will come.

But the psalm doesn’t end there. Expressions of trust in God don’t end the experience of suffering and sorrow. The psalmist experiences God’s love (v. 8) and also feels abandoned by God (v. 9). The psalmist persists in biblical lament—he is downcast and disturbed, but he also trusts in God and looks forward to praise (v. 11).

Apply the Word

Biblical lament defies our cultural expectations to process grief in certain ways or to just get on with things. You don’t have to feel better before you praise God. Coming to Him with your desperation and suffering is itself an act of trust. Make verse 11 your own personal prayer and statement of faith that you will one day praise God at the feet of Jesus.

http://www.todayintheword.org/titw_devotion.aspx?id=142179

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SmileyBlackCoffeeAnna

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What Must I Do To Be Saved?

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We often ask ourselves why we’re doing what we do:

  • What is our purpose in life?
  • What’s the point of working so many hours each day?
  • Why strive so hard to advance ourselves?
  • What good will any of this be when we die?
  • Are we living each day thinking that we’re going nowhere?
  • Do we go on with no hope in this life, wondering if there’s anything else after we die?

People have described this empty place in our hearts as a “God-shaped vacuum” that can’t be filled with work or through buying more clothes and other things. It is something that can’t even be filled with our personal relationships. What we really need can only be found in a relationship with God.

Our Sin Problem

We read in the Bible that we are sinful people—not just because of the bad things we do but because of who we are. We aren’t sinners just because we sin. We sin because we’re sinners, and that’s what separates us from God.

The Good News!

What if there was a way to bridge the gap that separates us from God? Wouldn’t you be interested in the assurance of being able to have everlasting life with God?

Well, there is a way—the only way—and that is through faith and belief in Jesus Christ as the one who died for our sins.

That’s what He did, you know. He died on that cross at Calvary so that you and I could live with Him forever. That’s the Good News!

It’s difficult to believe how much God loves us! After all, we’re nothing but sinners. In First John 4:9-10, we see the evidence of His great love for us:

God showed how much he loved us
by sending his one and only Son into the world
so that we might have eternal life through him.
This is real love—not that we loved God,
but that he loved us and sent his Son
as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

You might be asking yourself how that is possible. Well, here are a few verses from the Bible that give us the answer:

God loved the world so much
that he gave his one and only Son
so that whoever believes in him
may not be lost, but have eternal life.
God did not send his Son into the world
to judge the world guilty,
but to save the world through him.
—John 3:16-17

 

Those who believe in the Son have eternal life,
but those who do not obey the Son
will never have life.
God’s anger stays upon them.
—John 3:36

 

Those who see the Son
and believe in him have eternal life,
and I will raise them on the last day.
This is what my Father wants.
—John 6:40

 

. . . I am the resurrection and the life.
Those who believe in me
will have life even if they die.
And everyone who lives and believes
in me will never die.
—John 11:25-26

Why would Jesus die for our sins? Because He loves us and desires our company forever! Imagine that! We also read in the Bible that “The reason Christ died and rose from the dead to live again was so he would be Lord over both the dead and the living.” —Romans 14:9

A Living Hope

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There is hope for all of us through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. We can do nothing in our own strength to guarantee us everlasting life. It is only through the sacrifice which Jesus Christ made on our behalf that we have the privilege of living with Him forever:

I mean that you have been saved
by grace through believing.
You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God.
It was not the result of your own efforts,
so you cannot brag about it.
—Ephesians 2:8-9

The amazing thing about this gift of eternal life is that it is a gift! Jesus Christ, God’s Son, paid the price for our sins, once for all time:

But God shows his great love for us in this way:
Christ died for us while we were still sinners.
—Romans 5:8

How We Can Receive the Gift of Everlasting Life

We have done nothing to deserve the gift of everlasting life, yet it is freely given to us and very easy to obtain. All we need to do is:

  • admit that we are sinners, repent of our sins, and then ask God to forgive us;
  • believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He die for our sins and then was resurrected from the dead: “The reason Christ died and rose from the dead to live again was so he would be Lord over both the dead and the living.” —Romans 14:9;
  • ask Jesus Christ to come into our hearts as our Savior and help us as the Lord of our lives.

You can do this right now in the quiet of your room. It’s between you and the Lord Jesus Christ. Here’s an example of how you can pray to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior:

Heavenly Father, I’m so sorry for my sins. Right now, I’m turning from my sins and asking You to forgive me. Thank you for the gift of Your Son, Jesus Christ, who died for my sins on the cross. Jesus, I ask You to come into my heart and my life, and be my Savior, Lord, and Friend. Thank You for forgiving me and giving me the gift of everlasting life. Amen.

That’s it! That’s all you have to do. Now there will be Someone you can turn to with all of your problems, cares and concerns—and that is Jesus Christ. Just knowing that He is in your corner is the greatest comfort of all.

. . . but now we are also very happy in God
through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Through him we are now God’s friends again.
—Romans 5:11

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Beloved, welcome to the family of God!  If you have any questions about any of this, please write to me at faithlhj777 at gmail dot com.

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Note: All emphasis in these Bible passages is added by me.

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Enduring Trials

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None of us can come to the highest maturity
without enduring the summer heat of trials. 
—Charles H. Spurgeon

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My Times Are in Your Hands

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But I trust in You, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.” 

My times are in Your hands.
—Psalm 31:14-15

Once again, I struggled to unscrew the top from a jar but the stubborn cap refused to budge. Just as I was getting ready to call on Rick for help, it came loose.

I hated having to ask Rick for help so often, but the arthritis in my fingers and carpal tunnel problems with my wrists cause difficulties with the simplest tasks. Daily my frustration grows as I witness different parts of my body getting weaker and sometimes even breaking down. These days I can’t even get down onto the floor or up again without great pain and difficulty because of my bad knees.

Why do things have to be this way? I silently ask God, but I already know the answer: “Trust Me, child, I’m always here to take care of you.”

What would we do without the promises of such a loving God who faithfully guides us through the trials of life? He knows everything about us, which means He understands our limitations. He has intimate knowledge about how much we hurt and He is always with us to comfort our painful and grieving body and spirit. He holds us close to His heart in His ever-powerful hands.

I know my God takes care of me—I believe this without a shadow of doubt. I guess my real problems start when I focus on my problems instead of on God. He realizes my pain and frustration and provides the best comfort possible through His Word. How often I have been in despair and found in Scripture the very words I needed to calm my heart.

Imagine the strength in God’s hands. Now picture those same hands pulling you close in a calm and comforting embrace. His strength is our strength, and can get us through those frustrating times when nothing seems to go right.

Beloved, our times are in God’s hands because everything in our lives is under His control.

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God’s Unlimited Power

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The same God who built a 100,000-mile ring around Saturn also
made the tiny feather of a hummingbird.
He can do anything; His power is unlimited.
—David Jeremiah

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Never Doubt…

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Never doubt in the dark
what God told you in the light. 

—V. Raymond Edman

 

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Where Are You, Lord? [MustardSeedKingdom repost]

 Here is another devotional in keeping with Part 2 of my Habakkuk series . 
This one is from the Mustard Seed Kingdom blog, from their “Advent Reflection” series.

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Advent Reflection 11: Where are you, Lord?

11 December 2012 by cfg

How long, O LORD, will I call for help, and You will not hear?
I cry out to You, “Violence!” yet You do not save. 

(Hab 1.2)

 

Today’s passage is Habakkuk 2.1-4, but to make sense of it, it’s worth looking back at chapter 1.

In chapter 1 the prophet’s cry is one that we often hear today: how can you let this happen, God? We see destruction and violence and wickedness all around – where are you, Lord? The law is ignored and justice is perverted – how can you let this continue?

At the beginning of chapter 2 we have an answer, of a sort. What do you think of the Lord’s reply?

When I read these words I’m reminded that so often the Lord’s reply to me is the same: trust me. ‘Things are moving, I’m not delaying or lying to you… trust me.’ Verse 4 contains those famous words “the righteous (one) will live by his faith”, and what strikes me is how true this is. We do live by faith, and in faith, that the Lord is coming, that he will put things to right. Though the world is often dark and violent and God is invisible, often mysterious, and frequently elusive in his replies to important questions, we have to trust him… the alternative is to put our faith in empty, powerless idols (look ahead to Hab 2.18-20).  We don’t build statues today, but we’re good at putting our trust in money, or politics, a job, or even our family. But let’s make that choice to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith…” (Heb 12.2)

One of the books that’s been most helpful to me on the question of faith is Philip Yancey‘s ‘Reaching for the Invisible God‘ (you can read Chapter 3: Room for Doubt and Chapter 4: Faith Under Fire online for free), his personal and insightful exploration of the challenges of relating to – and trusting in – an invisible God. I also highly recommend John Ortberg’s ‘Faith and Doubt‘, which is one of the wisest books I’ve read on this – or any – topic.

If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. (Hab 2.3)

http://mustardseedkingdom.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/advent-reflection-11-where-are-you-lord/

 

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The God of Hope

 

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Now may the God of hope fill you
with all joy and peace in believing,

so that you will abound in hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

—Romans 15:13

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Happy First Day of Autumn!

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Brothers and sisters,
be patient until the Lord comes again.
A farmer patiently waits for his valuable crop
to grow from the earth and for it to receive
the autumn and spring rains.

You, too, must be patient.
Do not give up hope,
because the Lord is coming soon.
—James 5:7-8

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Faith vs Anxiety

 

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The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and
the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.
—George Mueller

 

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