Rehearsing God’s Mercy

Rehearsing helps us remember.

When we hear the word “rehearse”, we conjure up visions of singing, dancing, or acting. A rehearsal is a preparatory event that is performed before the official public performance, as a form of practice. The intent of a rehearsal is to ensure that all details of the performance are adequately prepared and coordinated for presentation.

This Psalm is a timely rehearsal that help us to remember God’s loving protection and provision in our lives. It is a time that we reflect when God has shown His great mercy to us (Lam. 3:22-23).  It is, then possible, by repeating God’s example, that we can begin to expand our mercy and our compassion to others.  It is in preparing that we begin to conform to the image of Jesus (Rom. 12:2). We can begin to rehearse God’s mercy.

Rehearsing prepares.

In Psalm 106, the psalmist prepares the Jews who have returned from Exile by recounting the mercies extended by God to the nation of Israel. Can you imagine returning to your hometown after a 70-year absence?

Many of the older Jews had died in captivity; younger Jews had little to draw upon to refresh their memory of God’s love and provision for Israel during her glory days. Instead, they arrived to find burnt gates and broken walls.

Many would have forgotten God’s reason for allowing them to go into captivity.  It was their habitual, sinful nature and rebellious lifestyle (v.43) that resulted in their 70-year banishment from Israel.  It was the psalmist’s intent to prepare the returning Jews’ hearts and minds for spiritual revival—a return to God.

Rehearsing increases wisdom.

The Psalmist takes time to share with the returning Jews, the errors that contributed to their  exile.  Here are a few key learnings that are still appropriate for today’s believers.

    • Confess and repent of your sins to avoid God’s judgment. “We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly.” (v. 6)
    • Seek God’s wisdom in all your decision making. “They soon forgot his works; they waited not for his counsel.” (v. 13)
    • Eliminate complaints about what you don’t have and express gratitude for God’s provision.“They despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word: But murmured in their tents and hearkened not unto the voice of the LORD.” (vv.24-25)

Even in Israel’s rebellion and sin, God never failed to extend His mercy and grace (vv. 44-45).

Nevertheless he (God) regarded their distress when he heard their cry.  For their sake he remembered His covenant and showed compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love.” 

Rehearsing makes for great testimonies.

If we were to “rehearse” God’s mercy in our life, what would we write? Would it be similar to Israel’s history reflecting a life pattern of sin and backsliding? Do we see evidence of God’s love and mercy regardless of our rebellion and spiritual failures?  Take time to reflect on where you’ve come from and then write your own psalm reflecting when and how God’s love and mercy was extended to you.

Satan uses our memory to evoke shame and guilt for things we have done that were not God honoring.  However, we can use our past errors as our testimony to others about the saving love of Christ. If we now walk under the guidance and direction of God’s Spirit, remembrance of our life B.C. (Before Christ) should not be an indictment against us but evidence of the immense love God has for us.

There is nothing better than living in God’s A.D. (Abundant Dominion). Let us continually rehearse God’s mercy in our hearts and minds as we prepare for effective service and kingdom building.

The REST we need!

The Rest we need!

 

The Biblical view of rest

Last week we asked the question, “Do you need rest?”  We examined the three (3) biblical rests God has provided for His Covenant people.  Sabbath rest, Canaan rest, and Eternal rest.

We concluded that accessing these rests is possible through development of an intimate relationship with God.  Our rest can be found in listening to His voice and obeying Him.  We closed with Lawrence O. Richards’ explanation that Christians often struggle with learning how to enter God’s rest.  God’s rest is a place of confidence and contentment that can only be found in relationship with Him.

The Scientific view of rest

In her Ted Talk, “The 7 Types of rest that every person needs,” Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, shares what is really needed for us to rest.  My biggest take away was the fact that we often mistakenly view rest as sleep.

“We go through life thinking we’ve rested because we have gotten enough sleep — but in reality we are missing out on the other types of rest we desperately need. The result is a culture of high-achieving, high-producing, chronically tired and chronically burned-out individuals. We’re suffering from a rest deficit because we don’t understand the true power of rest.  “

Dr. Smith concludes her study with the definition of spiritual rest.  She describes it as feeling a “deep sense of belonging, love, acceptance, and purpose”.  She recommends that to receive spiritual rest, one needs to “engage in SOMETHING GREATER THAN YOURSELF, ADD PRAYER, MEDITATION, OR COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT.”

For me, and believers in Christ, that “deep belonging, love, acceptance, and purpose” is found in Christ. Christ is the better rest.

A Better Rest

Paul states that in Christ, “we live, and move, and have our meaning” (Acts 17:28).  This includes our time of rest.  Even during our physical rest, we must not forget to maintain relationship with Jesus.  It is in acknowledging the Lord’s presence, that our better rest begins.

Jesus invites the crowds in Matt. 11: 28-29 to “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”   Jesus offers rest.

After the disciples had returned from their mission trip (Mark 6:7-13), Jesus instructs then to “come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”   Jesus is rest.

“Alone time” with God can allow God to examine us. It can be a time of knowing God more deeply, a time of strengthening, a time of refreshment, a time of sharing our deepest concerns with God, and a time of simply being with the One who formed us and loves us beyond our understanding.[1]

Rest:  How do we enter it?

The rest we need can only be found in relationship with Jesus.  It is “relational rest”.  This rest can be found in the practice of spiritual disciplines.  Spiritual disciplines are not an end in themselves.  Spiritual disciplines are intended to deepen our relationship with God.[2]

Prayer Talking to God
Meditation Listening to God
Solitude Alone with God
Contemplation Thinking about God
Worship Glorifying God

I close with a formula on how to enter God’s rest.  Feel free to develop your own.  The main thing to remember is to keep Christ as the source of your rest.

R. Reflection. Daily examine where God has been at work. This will foster awareness of God’s presence.

E. Exchange. Trade-out Satan’s lies for God’s truths. This will increase your wisdom and discernment.

SSolace. Find comfort and consolation in God’s presence. This will strengthen your confidence.

T. Transformation. Each day seek to be conformed to the image of Christ. This will please God.

[1]  Got Questions, “What does the Bible say about the value of solitude?”

[2]  Rev. Dr. Wallace S. Hartsfield, “A Prayer for Presence.”

Do you need REST?

Finding our wilderness rest

Finding our wilderness rest

Rest.  Who needs rest?  We all do!  Health professionals agree that the need for rest is critical.  It is essential for our overall well-being.  This includes our emotional health and cognitive performance.

But how can we rest?  21st century living has introduced a unique set of challenges that radically impair our ability to rest.  Our current life experiences have resulted in heightened anxiety within our families, our cities, and our nation.

Similarly, rest for believers has always been (and will continue to be) challenging.  This is because we live in a fallen world.  However, the writer of Hebrews (Heb. 4:9-11) offers a “viable solution”.   He invites believers to enter God’s rest.

Defining rest

Webster defines rest as not only sleep but also as freedom from worry or trouble.   Rest in the Bible is used most frequently in non-theological terms.

However, it takes on spiritual meaning when used in relationship to God and His people.  Most specifically, when used in reference to the Old and New Covenant.

God addresses wilderness rest

In the Old Testament, Sabbath rest is first introduced in Genesis as God ceases from His work of creation (Gen. 2:2-3).  God later commanded Sabbath rest as part of the Mosaic Law (Exod. 31:15).  He knew that all living creatures needed physical renewal.

Canaan rest began with the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt.  Rest was defined as deliverance from slavery.  Canaan rest established protection from and victory over Israel’s enemies as they entered into the Promised Land (Josh. 14:15).  By following God’s commandments, Israel would no longer be threatened by attack from Canaanite inhabitants (Josh. 23:1).  Peace in the land would be their rest.

Most importantly, Jesus Christ’s arrival and selfless act of atonement introduced us to God’s Eternal rest.  This rest surpassed those previously offered beginning with precious promises (2 Pet. 1:4) and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (John 14:17, 26).  Believer’s eternal rest will culminate with Jesus Christ in eternity.

Accessing God’s rest

Accessing God’s rest is possible through development of an intimate relationship with Him.  Our rest can be found in listening to His voice and obediently acquiescing to His will (John 10:27).  For example, believers should let God’s Word and Spirit guide us.  God has already provided solutions for our problems therefore releasing us from unnecessary anxiety and fear.

On this matter of rest, Lawrence O. Richards, noted theologian writes:  “The struggle Christians are engaged in is not that of finding their way through life but of entering God’s rest.”  That is, believers need to be more responsive to the Lord.

Responding to wilderness rest

We can find rest as we listen for and respond to the Lord’s voice.  We trust the Creator of all rests—Sabbath rest, Canaan rest, and Eternal rest.

Only Sovereign God can create, deliver, and protect.  He gives use victory over the challenges we face (Rom. 8:37).  God knows the end from the beginning and His purpose will stand (Is. 46:8-10).  It is God’s desire that we live more fully as recipients of His gift of rest.  He invites us to draw near.

What I Learned in 2022: The Needful Thing

What I Learned in 2022: The Needful Thing

Where did I spend my time?

In formulating my list this year, I began by answering the question, “where did I spent my time.”  I considered the books I read:  books on spiritual disciplines, strategic prayer, and holy watchfulness.  Who were the people I included on my calendar and how was my life enriched by being with them?

All these informed my final selection of what I learned in 2022.  And what I learned was this:  The pursuit of God is the most important thing in my life.  He is everything His Word says He is.  He is Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.  He is our Everlasting Father, our Healer, Provider, and Protector.  And much, much more.

The pursuit of God and His righteousness really resonated with me as I read the Luke narrative about two sisters who had differing views on how to spend their time.

Mary and Martha

In Luke 10:38-42 (NKJV), we are introduced to two sisters, Mary and Martha.  We are given a snapshot of how each chooses to “spend their time with Jesus.”  As you read this text, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal who you most resemble.

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore, tell her to help me.”  And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Is this us today?  The busyness of life steals time from us.  That same time can be best used in fellowship with Jesus.  What stands in our way?  Perhaps, it’s social media, or an over committed calendar. Satan loves to keep us busy.  As a result, we fill our lives with things of the world rather than sitting at the feet of Jesus, the only One Who has all we need.

A Thirst for God

In Psalm 42:1-2, the Psalmists uses the imagery of a thirsty deer, to describe longing to be with God.

As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.
I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him? 

This is perhaps what Mary had a thirst for: The Living God.  Isn’t it funny how we continually look for things in this world to satisfy our human “thirsts”. We attempt to satisfy them with “stuff”: money, clothes, ambition, relationships.  But in the end, it is the intangibles that only a relationship with Jesus Christ can truly satisfy.  Love, joy, peace.  Only in God’s presence can we satisfy our thirsty soul.

One thing is needful…that good part

What was the one thing needed? The New Living Translation says it this way: “There is only one thing worth being concerned about.  Mary has discovered it.” The word “needed” is translated to mean “a necessity; such things needed for sustenance and the journey”.  And what was that good part?  Jesus.  Jesus, the Living Word, was necessary for Mary to live life more abundantly (John 10:10).  Jesus was needed for spiritual sustenance and the journey of life.  And He still is.

As we address the challenges of 21st century living, we as believers have left our “first Love” (Rev. 2:4).  We have forgotten what it means to be “in relationship with Jesus”.  Relationship is built as we read God’s Word and better understand His ways and His works. Martha had forgotten that at one time she too sat at Jesus feet and listened to His Word.  But now she had allowed the “busy work” to replace the “good work”.

Why is it the “good part”? Relationship with Jesus is the only thing that is important—in time and for eternity.  What we see now is fading away…deteriorating…temporary.  But what God offers us is incorruptible and undefiled, that never fades away; reserved in heaven for us (1 Pet. 1:4).  This is what was offered to Mary and therefore, wouldn’t be taken away from her.  This is still the offer to us today.

Where do we sit?

What’s most important to you?  What will our calendar say is the priority for our time?  What “words” capture our attention and become our values, beliefs, and lifestyles?  What I learned in 2022, was illustrated in the story of Mary and Martha.  Jesus states it clearly then as He states it in 2023.  “One thing is needful.” (Luke 10:42) Rediscover and pursue your First Love.  Make fellowship with the Father and Jesus your top priority in 2023.

Making a Fresh Start

Opportunities and challenges

Happy New Year!  With this new year comes both opportunities and challenges. More importantly, comes our chance to receive exceeding great and precious promises through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord (2 Pet. 1: 2, 4).

To begin this year, WordBytes will launch a new series entitled The Clarion Word Classics.

The word “clarion” comes from the Latin word claru or ‘clear’.  Used as an adjective, it means ‘loud and clear’.   Our intent with this quarterly series is to make “loud and clear” what is ours in Christ and as children of God (Rom. 8:17).

Making a Fresh Start

Throughout 2023, we will share faith writings from key theologians who will strengthen and enrich our spiritual lives and faith walk.  This includes such sage theologians and writers such as J.I. Packer, Oswald Chambers, and C.S. Lewis.

We will also introduce contemporary writers who express spiritual answers to the challenges of 21st century living.  This includes such authors as Priscilla Shirer, Alistair Begg, John Piper, and black theologian, Bruce L. Fields.

To begin the Clarion Word Classics, we introduce F.B. Meyer (a favorite of mine).  His devotion for the new year is entitled, Making a Fresh Start.”  Meyer infuses scripture throughout his writings.  See if you can find them within the text.

Year-end 2022 Throwback Wednesday: “God Goes Before Us”

Year-end 2022 Throwback Wednesday Wednesda

New Year’s anxieties

In choosing the year-end WordBytes for throwback Wednesday, it was amazing how quickly the teaching for today came to my attention.

First, this WordBytes was written at the end of 2019, as we entered in the world of the COVID virus.  At that time, we had no idea that our lives would be forever changed.  The world as we knew would never be the same.  Secondarily, it was written to address the anxiety we typically experience as we begin to plan for the new year.  This includes evaluation of our accomplishments for the closing year.

Are you ready for 2023?

In our text today, Moses is preparing the Israelites for the changes that lie ahead of them as they prepare to enter the Promise Land.  2+million people.  Just imagine the heightened anxiety and fear in the people.  But Moses shares with them a promise they can “hang their hat on”.  God will go before them!

It’s been said, “Hindsight is 20/20.”  As we look back over the past two years with COVID, social unrest, financial upheaval, and more, has God gone before us?  Take a moment and think about how God has intervened on your behalf during these tumultuous times.

We have experienced many hardships these past few years. However, regardless of them, we now stand on this side of 2022.  We are now planning for a “new year”.  Do you want to know why?  Because God still (even in the 21st century) goes before us.  Whatever circumstance you may face in 2023, know that God is more than able to sustain you through it.  I pray that today’s WordBytes will increase your confidence and trust in the Lord.  Have a happy and blessed new year.

 

God Goes Before Us

What do you want for Christmas?

 

What do you want for Christmas?

Christmas past

What do you want for Christmas this year?  What’s your ask?  When I was a child, my anticipation of Christmas was so high.  I remember the special journey to see the animated Christmas displays in the store windows in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.  The shops on “Petticoat Lane” and the special baked goods at “The Cake Box”.  There was no sitting on Santa’s lap and sharing our list of wants, but endless nights of looking at the special Christmas catalogue from Sears, J.C. Penney’s, and “Monkey Wards” (Montgomery Wards).  What a wonderful and magical time!

But I’m no longer a child.  To the contrary, I’m a grandmother and family elder.  Now as I anticipate Christmas, I ask myself, what do I want?  What are my choices?  Things eternal or things of this world? Now I must look beyond Christmas Day with its torn wrapping paper and empty boxes.  I want something that lasts beyond Christmas Day.  Don’t you?  As we close out this year, I invite you to join me in answering this question for yourself.

What’s on your list?

Harry & David suggests we warm hearts with festive gourmet gifts and Christmas gift baskets.  That’s no surprise!  “Do it Yourselfers” ensure us that handmade gifts will be received with joy:  polaroid photo magnets (try finding a polaroid camera), beautifully packaged cookie mixes or pretty finger knit blankets.  Who has the time?

Topping the list of the 23 “hottest cool gadgets” for Christmas is a Black Bird drone with camera for $99.  “For the first time, ordinary people can capture crazy selfies and shots that were previously only possible with professional equipment.”  I’m sure our neighbors and friends will love sharing in on this gift.

But what do people really want?

Here are some things to consider as you plan your gift shopping.

In an article entitled The Top 10 Things People Want in Life but Can’t Seem to Get, I was amazed in reading the responses to this informal survey that probed “critical life and career questions.”  From my reading, I compiled (in their order of importance) the top five (5) areas people are feeling desperate about:  happiness, money, freedom, peace, and joy.   I’ve included a sixth, balance, since it is the focus of many Millennials and Genxers.  What was surprising was that most of the items were intangible, subjective (what I can feel), and internal versus external.

In the aftermath of COVID (before the variants), people wanted “relationship”.   A few verbatims are captured below recognizing the extraordinary power and satisfaction that can only be found through our connection with one another.

  • “Have a big family get together!”
  • “Go to a game and watch some sports!”
  • “See my mom in assisted living.”
  • “Make sure all my friends are cured too, then we’ll party!”

A new Barna Group report was released this month on trends in the Black church[1].  When asked what churchgoers wanted for their lives, the results were as follows:

  • 84% wanted good health
  • 83% wanted a close relationship with God
  • 77% wanted to provide for their family
  • 75% wanted a clear purpose for living

Note the focus of the three groups.  They were primarily, intangibles, subjective, and internal.

What I want for Christmas 2022

Challenges will continue in 2023.  Financial upheaval, political squabbles, shortages, rising social needs, hunger, and homelessness (regardless of the new names).  What do we need?  What do we want?

After conducting my personal survey among friends and family, I’ve created a revised “short Christmas list”.  Many of the items on this list have been sermonized during this season of Advent.  They are hope, peace, joy, and love.

    • Hope—”expecting a better future for the world, our nation, and our families”
    • Peace— “less hatred, division, and political strife”
    • Joy— “more contentment and gratitude regardless of our situation”
    • Love—”better relationships and greater compassion for others”

Reflecting on the various lists of “things” people desire, it is clear, God has already provided these and much more.  Happiness, freedom, and balance. God will provide it.  Relationship.  God will be whomever we need in our life.   Hope, peace, joy, and love.  In Him and in His presence, we will find more than we need (Eph. 3:20-21).   It is up to each of us to access our heavenly gifts through faith and obedience to God.  In Christ, all these things are currently ours.

Below are my “gift lists” available to us through relationship with our Heavenly Father, Who only gives “good and perfect gifts” (James 1:17). God’s gifts last beyond the torn tissue and open boxes.  They last beyond Christmas day through all of eternity.  With God and in Christ, every day is Christmas.

  • Ephesians 1:3-17
  • 2 Peter 1:3-18

[1]  This report was created in partnership with Black Millennial Café, Urban Ministries, Inc., Compassion International to celebrate the legacy of the Black Church in America and to pursue racial justice inside and outside the Church.  With that intent, there is no comparative study for White churches.

 

Preparing the Way: Advent 2022

 

Preparing the Way: Advent 2022

How are you celebrating Advent 2022?

What will you do differently to usher in the most phenomenal event in the history of mankind:  the incarnation of God?   Advent should be more than participating in special Bible studies or in the lighting of Advent candles.  I’m afraid to say that I was guilty of both.

While thinking I was really doing something “spiritual” to usher in the true meaning of Christmas, I had allowed this sacred season to become “ritualistic routine”.  Advent, celebration of Christ’s explosion into human history, should be a time of excitement and spiritual awakening.  Just as Simeon and Anna faithfully awaited the long-prophesized Messiah (Luke 2:34-38), we too should be faithful and watchful as we hopefully prepare the way for the arrival of our Lord and Savior during this season of advent.

Time to prepare

One meaning for “prepare” means to construct or create as well as to furnish or equip. It often involves making a building, vessel, or object ready for use.  The second meaning for prepare means to make the necessary preparations for an event that will happen later.

Throughout the Gospels, prepare is used to describe the nearness of a great wedding or banquet feast, or even what will happen at the second coming of Jesus (Matthew 22:4,25;34,41).

The different aspects of “prepare”, calls us to:   1) make ourselves ready vessels or homes to receive Jesus and 2) to participate in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.[1]

Living in between

Living between Jesus’ First and Second Advent is a place of tension for us.  Although we know that Jesus’ first advent has occurred, how can we “prepare the way” to celebrate Advent for this year and beyond—even until Christ’s second return?

With joyful anticipation.  Anticipation is the act of looking forward.  Let us rekindle this emotion that generates joy and pleasure as we remember what Christ’s presence has meant to us.  In addition, let us allow our imagination to create new scenarios of possibilities as we think about “what is to come”.

Attentively waiting.  This is not mankind’s strongest attribute as attested by our impatience with people, places, and things.  Our busyness and overscheduled calendars have pushed us into believing that waiting is an indication of either a problem with “the system” or flaw in others.  Some things are worth waiting for.  Jesus is worth waiting for.

 With faithful preparation.  Let us become “ready vessels” to receive the presence of God in the person of the Holy Spirit.  This begins with intimacy with God, meditating on His Word, and praying with “listening ears”.  Secondly, we must make ourselves “living sacrifices” to God—in humble submission including service to others.  Finally, we must faithfully prepare by aligning our thinking with “things above” (Col. 3:2).  It is our future hope of glory that will motivate us to be conformed to the image of Christ.

A Prayer for Advent

Advent, the coming of Jesus Christ, brings something the world alone can never provide—unconditional love for those who trust in Jesus as their Savior, unwavering faith that trusts in the sufficiency of God to meet every human need, and unquenchable hope that guarantees an inheritance in eternity future.  Love, faith, and hope—these are key benefits that come with the advent of Christ.  Joy and peace then follow as we abide faithfully in His presence.  All this and more are ours as we prepare the way for Christ.

Eternal God, we are seeking signs of your presence in our lives. Open our eyes, open our ears, open our hearts to receive your words of hope as we anticipate the coming of the One whom you are sending.

[1] Awaiting the Already, Magrey R. de Vega.

The Discipline of Waiting: Advent 2022

The Discipline of Waiting

Waiting

Advent season is a time of waiting.  Waiting by its very definition is challenging.  Waiting is the action of staying where one is or delaying action until a particular time or until something else happens.   

How well we wait lies not only in what we are waiting for but also who we trust to provide our desired outcome.   That trust is based on the provider’s ability to deliver the outcome.  That why as believers, it is important to remember that Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith is worth waiting for.

Advent and Waiting

The first Advent was a time of waiting.  Israel waited with hope for the promised redeemer who would deliver them from the tyranny of the Roman Empire.  The Three Wise Men (Magi) waited for a sign (the star) that would lead them to the King of the Jews.

Those who studied the law and the prophets, such as Simeon and Anna, daily waited for the arrival of the Promised Savior.  “There was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon:  and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon Him.” (Luke 2:25).

Waiting is a spiritual discipline  

Godly waiting is a spiritual discipline that we should cultivate.  As with any discipline, practice makes “progress” (perfection is not always the goal).  Advent is a time in which we should make every effort to expand our capacity to wait.  That increased capacity will strengthen us for the days ahead.

While waiting, we exercise our patience “muscles” and bolster our endurance until we receive what we are waiting for (Heb.10:36).  In our waiting, faith is activated and strengthened.  It is in the waiting that our hope becomes an expectation.  While waiting, our belief and trust become rooted and grounded in the Lord (Ps. 27:13-14).

What are you waiting for?  Provision, healing, or deliverance?  The believer who waits on the Lord will not be disappointed!  (Is. 40:31)

Learning to wait in 2022

2022 has taught us to wait.  What have you learned about waiting this year? We learn from our experiences to the extent we are willing to be shaped by them (Heb. 12:11).  This includes our experiences with waiting.

Waiting is an important discipline for us to learn.  As I stated earlier, how well we wait is based on who we trust to provide our desired outcome.  We are more willing to wait when we trust the one who can and will deliver the outcome we need.

As believers our response to waiting is different because we know Who can deliver everything we may be waiting for.  It is the Creator and Sustainer of all things—seen and unseen; past, present, and future; Alpha and Omega.  It is Eternal God (Jer. 10:10, 12).

The Gift in Waiting

We have been given great and precious promises (2 Pet. 1:4) as well as spiritual gifts (Eph. 1:3-17) that enable us to live victoriously.  These also enable us to wait patiently and hopefully on the Lord.

As we live in this period between Jesus’ first arrival (as Savior) and His second return (as Judge), let us remain faithful to that which God has given us to do (Titus 2:14).  Use this time of waiting to experience the fullness of God and to serve Him until His return.

How to Untangle a Knot

How to Untangle a Knot

Tangled stories

Jesus was “never without a story”.  He used them to help His audience gain a greater understanding of God and to resolve real-life problems.  The Apostle Mark describes this as “sorting out tangles” and “untying knots.”

When He was alone with His Disciples, Jesus went over everything, sorting out the tangles, untying the knots.  Mark 4:34 (The Message)

Today we will examine the benefit of listening to God’s voice through His Word to sort out the tangles and knots in our life.

Learning to sort out my tangles

Have you ever been faced with a knotted shoe lace or tangled necklace?  It can be frustrating trying to find the biggest knot that will result in the ultimate resolution to your problem.  Knots can impede the full use and benefit of our possessions or abilities,  i.e., knots in a tie or tangled chords of a wind chime.

How did we learn to untangle and untie knots?  While I can’t remember my “first knot” or most “frustrating tangle”, I do recall that if I had problems with either of these, my mother was always there to help me based on two things:  First, I had to realize my limitations—I was unable to resolve this challenge on my own.  Secondarily, I had to trust her–she was both available and able to help me with my problem.

Life is full of knots and tangles

Our world is full of knots and tangles.  The challenges of life appear to be “insurmountable messes” which we are unable to resolve.

  • Life cycle knots—work, family, and relationships.
  • Personal tangles—financial challenges, health problems, dying and death.
  • Societal snarls—turmoil, instability, and uncertainty.

Some knots and tangles are the natural result of living in a fallen world; others may be of our own creation. What is the answer to these kinks and twists of living?  How are we to manage these real situations in our lives?

The World and Life Knots

The world offers futile solutions to life’s knots and tangles.  It suggests resolution through substances (alcohol, drugs, and food), through systems (affiliations, power, and influence) and through stuff (materialism and riches) (1 John 2:15-17).

These answers are temporary and subject to change (2 Cor. 4:18). However, God’s Word is eternal and provides needed insight into His nature and the realities of life, inviting believers to trust, peace, and contentment (Ps. 37:1-6, 23-27).

It’s In the Word  

There’s an old gospel song entitled, It’s All in the Word that retorts:  “The answer to your problems, if you haven’t heard…it’s all in the Word.”

For those who are willing to listen to Jesus’ voice, there are many promises and privileges (John 10:27).  As we connect to God through His Word and the Holy Spirit, we have access to wisdom and knowledge so desperately needed to navigate these perilous times (Eph. 1: 8).

The Psalmist put it more eloquently in saying “God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path”.  God’s close proximity keep us from stumbling.  It is also broad and sufficient to protect us from potential danger and pitfalls (Ps. 119:105).  Psalm 19:7-11 speaks to the great worth of God’s Word.  “Warning and reward” are key benefits in embracing God’s Word.

What about my knots?

God may not choose to always remove the knots and tangles in our  life.  Some knots and tangles are needed to mature and strengthen us.  They help us when we choose to be “trained” by them (Hebrews 12:11).

However, we can always depend on God to be available and ready to help us “find the big loops” (John 16:33).  Jesus is ready to help us  with the tangles and knots of our life.  What are the things that you’ve been unable to resolve?  Draw near to Him who is willing and able to help.