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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.

 Hab2-3-BlueSkyClouds2sm

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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Mustard Seed Faith

MustardSeedFaith

 

As long as we have unsolved problems,
unfilled desires, and a mustard seed of faith,
we have all we need for a vibrant prayer life. 

—John Ortberg

Must…..

Mustard seed faith is sometimes a difficult concept but one that is very important to understand. The mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds found in the Middle East, but that smallest of seeds grows into one of the largest of plants. Jesus therefore used this illustration several times to show us that even the tiniest grain of true faith can do very great things.

And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”

Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”

So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

—Matthew 17:14-21

We see here the central need of faith, without which nothing can happen. When Jesus spoke about removing mountains he was using a phrase which the Jews knew well. A great teacher, who could really expound and interpret scripture and who could explain and resolve difficulties, was regularly known as an uprooter, or even a pulverizer, of mountains. To tear up, to uproot, to pulverize mountains were all regular phrases for removing difficulties. Jesus never meant this to be taken physically and literally. After all, the ordinary man seldom finds any necessity to remove a physical mountain. What he meant was: “If you have faith enough, all difficulties can be solved, and even the hardest task can be accomplished.” Faith in God is the instrument which enables men to remove the hills of difficulty which block their path. —William Barclay (1)

Beloved, having and holding onto true faith is difficult in hard circumstances, but it is possible. In our own physical strength we cannot move mountains. We can’t make something from nothing. We cannot by ourselves change someone’s heart and mind about something. These are under God’s care and control.

What it does mean is that if we rely on the fact that God knows what is best for us, we can rest on the assurance that His ways and means are perfect. And if we believe—have true faith—in that fact, we will be able to pray with a faith that will steadily grow.

Just like that tiny mustard seed.

We will then understand that what we may regard as unanswered prayers are actually part of God’s grand design to mold us into becoming who He wants us to be—completely and absolutely trusting that His ways are best.

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(1) Barclay, William. “Commentary on Matthew 17:1“. “William Barclay’s Daily Study Bible”. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/view.cgi?bk=39&ch=17 . 1956-1959.

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The God of Hope

 

Rom15-13--Hope(2)--AMP

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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The Ultimate Relationship [David Jeremiah repost]

Here is another excellent devotional in keeping with Part 2 of my Habakkuk series.
This one is by David Jeremiah.

Hab2-19--WoodAndStones

The Ultimate Relationship

Woe to him who says to wood, “Awake!”
To silent stone, “Arise! It shall teach!”
Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver,
yet in it there is no breath at all.
Habakkuk 2:19

To the modern, Western mind, trained in logic and rational thinking, nothing seems as illogical or irrational as some of the practices of people in the ancient Near East: Create an image out of wood or stone, then treat the image as if it was a living, breathing being — a god with whom the worshipper can relate. 

Educated people don’t do that today because we know that inanimate objects can’t be animated just because we want them to be. We know that a true relationship requires two sentient beings, at the very least. Even our family pet has more life than a stone idol. Relating to a pet or person is better than trying to relate to wood or stone, but it still leaves us wanting more. It is only when we enter into the relationship for which God created us — a personal, intimate relationship with Himself — that our hunger for knowing and being known can be satisfied.

If you are seeking the ultimate relationship in life, don’t seek it in things that cannot respond and relate in the way you are meant to. Seek it in the One who said He is the life (John 14:6). 

Man, made in the image of God, has a purpose
— to be in relationship to God, who is there.
Francis Schaeffer

Read-Thru-the-Bible
2 Samuel 4-7

Please visit DavidJeremiah.org. for many great resources.

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Faith vs Anxiety

 

Faith-GeorgeMuller-AMP

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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Trusting God for Perfect Peace

Is26-3--PerfectPeace-CalmSeaHorizon

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
Trust in the Lord forever,
For in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength.
—Isaiah 26:3-4

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It’s no secret that this Isaiah passage is my favorite because I’ve shared it here many times before. I also pray this intentionally for myself and the people in my life who are struggling with something or other.

Life on earth is not perfect. And the perfect peace Isaiah speaks of here is not that everything bad will turn out good. This kind of perfect peace is that which can only be found in a close relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Such a relationship generates the kind of trust and faith that He will help us stay calm while the storms in our lives rage all around us.

Only Jesus can fill us with such perfect peace. He alone is the author and perfecter of our faith, according to Hebrews 12:1-2:

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Here is a great explanation of this from one of my favorite sites:

From this we can deduce that Christ is the originator of our faith in that He begins it, as well as the captain and prince of our faith. This indicates that Jesus controls our faith, steers it as a captain steers a ship, and presides over it and cares for it as a monarch presides over and cares for his people. (emphasis mine)

Read more:http://www.gotquestions.org/author-perfecter-faith.html#ixzz3CMSMrd1O

Beloved, when things are going wrong, look up! Instead of concentrating on the frustrating circumstances, turn your attention and trust to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. He will never let you down!

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Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

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Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem.

A Song of Ascents, of David.

I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
Our feet are standing
Within your gates, O Jerusalem,
Jerusalem, that is built
As a city that is compact together;
To which the tribes go up, even the tribes of the Lord
An ordinance for Israel—
To give thanks to the name of the Lord.
For there thrones were set for judgment,
The thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.
“May peace be within your walls,
And prosperity within your palaces.”
For the sake of my brothers and my friends,
I will now say, “May peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your good.

—Psalm 122

 

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God’s Everlasting Consolation

2Thes2-16-17--BeachSitting

 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself,
and our God and Father,
who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace,
comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.
—2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

One of my favorite places to spend time is at the coast, although we live far from there now. Almost 20 years ago I went on a solo road trip that took me up the California coast and back, where I decided to spend several days in Monterey. I enjoyed lots of time on the beach just sitting and contemplating the seemingly endless rise and fall of the ocean’s white-crested waves.

Recently it occurred to me how much the ocean is like God. For one thing, when you’re looking into the horizon, the ocean seems to go on forever. The rising and crashing of the waves keep occurring in a constant and mighty display of God’s power. This is not very surprising, considering the fact that He’s the One Who created the oceans in the first place.

Think of some of God’s attributes:

  • unchangeable
  • infinite
  • eternal
  • omnipresent

and several names we associate with Him:

  • everlasting
  • living
  • mighty
  • eternal

Some of these designations could describe the ocean’s characteristics, but all of them depict a God Who is unchanging and always there for us, no matter what is going on in our lives.

So many of us experience times when we feel like certain stressful circumstances will never change for the better. Or we’ll never find a decent paying job. Maybe we’ve finally realized that this chronic pain illness will never get any better. And then there are days when we think there’s no one who truly understands what we’re going through.

We start to believe we are completely alone.

That’s when we need to lean on God, “…Who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace….” We can always be assured that He will “…comfort [y]our hearts…” and give us the strength to persevere in spite of our circumstances.

Never give up, Beloved, because our God will never give up on you!

Please allow me to pray for all of us: Heavenly Father, I’m so thankful that You love us enough to be our everlasting consolation and comfort. Help us to remember to always turn to You no matter what we’re going through. Amen.

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God is Hope [REPOST]

 Here is another wonderful devotional by Patricia Knight. As always, I so appreciate you, Pat, and thank you for allowing me to share these special devotionals with my readers.

hope-one-way

God is Hope

By Patricia Knight

When we visited our grandsons at their home we were entertained with their evening after-dinner game. Our son, their father, would position himself on the carpet in the living room. Already the oldest boy was maneuvering into position in the kitchen for the run and jump assault on his Daddy. At age five and starting first, he gave himself a little thrust by pushing at arm’s length from the kitchen cabinets. In stocking feet he appeared to fly with a minimum of three to four steps to reach his Dad. Then, they both ended up in a congealed mass of love and fun rolling with arms and legs flailing out of control.

Daddy-Son-onthefloorNext in line, the four-year-old would rev his motors in the kitchen, his feet barely hitting the flour as he flew to his destination. His Dad was ready for him with arms outstretched. They would roll and tumble in the victory of the game, laughing and hugging in a big rollicking ball.

With each boy excitement mounted. The youngest was already running into the kitchen preparing for the game with his little fourteen-month-old body of determination. Having learned to walk only a few months earlier, he was hoping his actions would be the same as for his brothers; there was no doubt he had watched from the sidelines many times.

The littlest must have known he needed an advantage, for he started his journey in the middle of the kitchen floor. From the beginning he had a victorious grin plastered on his face. He was off and, uh, running. His shoes echoed “slap, smack” on the floor as he struggled to keep his balance while those hesitant tottering steps resounded on the surface of the hard kitchen floor.

He was gyrating with giggles and squeals. His top-heavy body struggled for stability with each new step. Just as he was ready to fling himself at his Daddy, he checked quickly for his parent’s outstretched arms. His Dad was waiting, smiling proudly at the mettle of his little toddler. The game ended all too soon with the son engulfed in a loving embrace in his Daddy’s arms.

Romans8-24-25

Most of experience hope many times a day. Even though they were unable to verbalize the process, the boys hoped their father’s outstretched arms would catch them, that his body would cushion them from the fall, or that he would laugh with hugs as he had done so many times before. “But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” (Romans 8:24, 25).

Hope is dynamic, involving a confident expectation. Hope relies on God’s blessings and provisions with the expectations of future goodness in our lives. Hope involves trust in One who can deliver. God is hope. We base our hope in God upon evidence of past events where He has proved He is able to keep His promises. Jesus is called the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13). When we believe in our Lord and put our trust in Him, we transfer our worldly hope to Him.

Ps119-147Hoping in our Lord is so different from the hope of what will happen to us or around us. When we believe in God, we transfer our trust and worldly cares to Him. We are free to put our hope in God, awaiting His good works and provisions for us. “I have put my hope in your Word” (Psalm 119:147).

We willingly transfer our cares and concerns, wishes and desires, to God. If we only place hope in ourselves or in other people, there evolves a perpetually disappointing cycle. As we transfer our hope and trust to God, He gives us strength by removing the burden of hope from our own lives. God’s love and understanding are vast compared to our limited resources. “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31).

There may be times when we are ready to give up on all hopewhen the situation seems hopeless and we have no more strength to hold on. God is in the business of hope and strength renewal.

Those who have no faith in God can only cherish a desire with anticipation, without any basis for expecting attainment. However, the Christian has his hope placed firmly in God, who is the fulfillment of all hope. “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

We can place our hope on a firm foundation of God’s promises. All of His covenants to His people from the beginning of time have been accomplished exactly as God specified. Since God is immutable, all of His promises remain constant and without error.

1-corinthians-13-13Faith and hope are inseparable. Having faith in our God is defined as trust, belief, and hope combined. Faith and hope are both dependent upon belief in a God who is worthy of faith, hope, and love in God’s Word. “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

For centuries the Israelites were promised a Savior who would establish His kingdom and rule on earth. That promise was fulfilled when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Like the people who had witnessed Jesus ascend from earth to His heavenly home after His three years of ministry among them, we, too, hope for the promise of Jesus’ second coming to earth to rule in righteousness. “There is surely a hope for you and your hope will not be cut off” (Proverbs 23:18). God wants to simplify our lives by assuming our expectations. His Word is full of promises to His people. We are able to expect a beautiful life and a future full of greatness when we hope in God’s Word.

During their nightly playtime our grandsons eagerly ran to their father’s outstretched arms, hoping the same events would play out in excitement as they had the previous time. We, too, are invited to run into the arms of our heavenly Father, the same arms that were outstretched on the cross for us. There is hope in the crucifixion and resurrection and the promise of eternal life with our Savior and Lord. We know because God has promised it from the beginning of time (Titus 1:2).

Titus1-2

“…in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time” (Titus 1:2)

“God is Hope” is taken from Pat’s book, REJOICE!

REJOICE

AnnaSmile…..

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Sunrise Faith

 

Sunrise-Faith---lightstock_21174_small_anna_popescu

 

Faith is like radar that sees through the fog.
~Corrie Ten Boom, Tramp for the Lord

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