Tumbling Walls

Wall, Brick, Fragment, Broken Wall

Some placed faith in things made by hand

As Joshua and the Israel’s children entered the land

Behind walls made of stone

They thought, “surely I’m safe at home”

But God, not idols or masonry deep

Would the victory win and keep

And with a mighty stomp and shout

Jericho fell without a doubt


Padre

Not Alone

Story of Gideon Images, Mighty Man of Valor

Jerub-Baal, Midian to defeat

Was told his army he must decrease

He sent away all who in heart did faint

But the numbers were still to large

He was to show even more restraint

And so he cut his forces to the core

A mere three hundred – not one more

And with this tiny band

It was God’s victory that was at hand

We too may face opposition strong

But if you feel alone – you are so wrong

For if the Lord is with you

And takes up the fight

You shall prevail through His might


Reflections on Judges 7

Padre

Waiting On God

American Bald Eagle, Bird, Predator, Wildlife, Symbol
Pixabay

Pastor Vince called on us to remember to wait on God this week. He drew his messages from Isaiah 40: 27f:

Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

The passage notes a real human weakness: Dispair. We get into hard times and we begin to immediately think we are all alone or abandoned by God. We therefore try to come up with solutions ourselves, often with tragic consequesnces. The passage reminds us, however, that “the Lord is everlasting,” . . . and that He doesn’t tire or weary in His care for us.

It goes on to tell us that “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” We don’t need to act in impetuous ways, as He is our sustainer. We need to pause, and wait on God!

No matter how dire the situation may seem, He is there for us. Better still, we can handle it as He is in control. First Corinthians 10: 13 reads – “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” God is faithful, and He will not let things go beyond what we can handle, especially when we seek the strength in Him.

In fact, returning to the Isaiah passage we “will soar on wings like eagles; . . . will run and not grow weary, [and] walk and not be faint.” By waiting on God to move in us, we will be revived – note the running and walking reference, but Brother Vince noted as well the part on soaring. We despite what our perils may be, or who might be our advisary will have a eagle or God’s-eye view. He is above all evil, He masters even Satan himself, He looks down on all and had a true perspective. We too, and note this, will soar. Eagles when they soar don’t flap. They glide as they are lifted up! We too will be lifted. God will raise us abover the situations, and we with our eagle-eyed view will be able to see the dangers and have a true prespective that they are mere dots below the power of God. We just need to wait on God, and leave it in His hands.


Padre

Setbacks

Detour, Sign, Warning, Right, Arrow, Roadsign
Pixabay

We are facing a second spike of the Corona virus.   Just as life was beginning to look normal again, whatever that means, we have new lockdown restrictions, which impact our social activities, face to face worship, and our lives more generally. 

It is easy to get discouraged by such things.  Questions like “what now?” rise, and it seems that there is no relief in sight.

But I would like to look at a few individuals in the scripture, that their “improved” lives took backwards turns they might not have expected. 

Joseph in Genesis 37-50 is one of these.  I am not going to look at too many particular verses, but at an overview to make my point.  Joseph, while a younger son, had dreams in which there seemed to be clear prophecy that he was chosen for greatness.  These dreams suggested that he would have authority of his brothers, and in fact over his parents as well.  Things seemed rosy for Joseph.  Later he finds the favour of his father, and he is given a special garment, marking him out as the favourite.  Life was good to be Joseph, then the setback came.  His brothers in a fit of jealousy beat him and sell him into slavery. 

Does he fall into despair at this unexpected turn?  No.  He works hard and wins favour with his master.  He becomes the lead and most trusted servant.  All is good in being Joe again.

But then he comes to the attention of his master’s lustful wife, and being a man of integrity he resists.  False accusations follow and he is thrown into prison.  This time it looks like there is no way out.  Whatever happened to those dreams?  But even there he became favoured.  God remained with him, because he remained with God.  He eventually through more God-centeredness becomes all his dreams predicted, becoming second only to Pharaoh.

There is a lesson in this.  Exodus shows us the same in reverse as well.  God had rescued the Jews with a mighty hand through a series of plagues, and the parting of a sea.  But as soon as the people come up against adversity, they see only the problem, not the solution.  The spies had seen that the Promised Land was good, but all they reported back was the setbacks of walled cities and giants before them.  All except Caleb and Joshua.  They for their part experienced the promise. 

Do we look at situations, and only see what is wrong with them?  Job’s friends and wife were the same.  His blessed life took a detour as well.  But he trusted God, not curse him.  He received all he lost back and more.

The disciples were no different than the people of Exodus , or Job’s friends.   At what we call Palm Sunday, Jesus rode in triumph into Jerusalem.   All was looking up. But then came betrayal, trial, crucifixion, and death.  The disciples despaired.  The put themselves in a self-imposed lock-down (there’s that word again).  But it wasn’t the end of the story.

Romans 8:28 says it all – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

We face the re-emergence new measures.  We see our forward progress, being set back. 

My pastor, back when I was a teenager, told a story about him in college.  He played football.  And in one game, with them trailing by only three points, he received a pass and dodged and weaved his way through the opposition.  Things were looking up, glory was on its way.  Well until he was tackled on the 3 yard line as time ran out.  He was at a Christian university, and as he returned despondent to the bench, his coach asked him a question that changed the course of his life.  He asked, “What does it mean in eternity?”

Our lives may be having setbacks right now, but remember ALL things work together for good!

Padre

Box To Build (ABP 7)

Water, Raindrops, Raining, Wet, Liquid, Splashing

Pixabay

 

Beams to cut

Pitch to boil

A box to build

A God-sent toil

 

Upon ground

As dry as sand

A vessel to construct

On water-less land

 

Nevertheless – my sons and me

Will follow the divine instruction

Build the ark and the animals feed

Before all by rain – faces destruction

 

Padre

 

Genesis 6

 

August Bible Poem 7

 

 

 

 

Captive Joy: Philippians and Life’s Lockdowns

Padlock, Door, Lock, Key Hole, Macro

Pixabay

I have been in lockdown since the 16th of March.  In that time, I have really only been out of the house on four or five occasions and those were short walks around the block.   Many of us are feeling the burden of the limiting of our everyday freedoms.  It’s frustrating.  It’s easy to grumble.

If we are honest, how does our limited exercise of freedom compare to that of Paul?  What does the Holy Spirit and God’s word tell us?

If you think a couple of months of quarantine is bad, think about being a prisoner for the Gospel.  Paul spent four or five years in custody.

It is his attitude in this confinement that is an example to us.

Philippians 1, Paul notes his love and thanksgiving for his brothers and sisters in Philippi and then verses 7 – 14 says:

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.  God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Although physically isolated from them he is still in harmony with them as they shared the grace of Christ.  We may not physically be together today but we are linked and united in that grace.

Paul then continues in verse 12:

Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.  As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.

Members of the Emperor’s household guard were coming to the Lord as a direct result of Paul’s captivity.   It may not seem it now, but you may well be making a bigger difference in this time of restrictions than you are aware.  It may be through your examples of faith and perseverance, or it may be through such links and forums as these online worship sessions which bring us together and link us to some who have never worshipped with us before.  We are only the sowers, but God will reap the harvest.

 

In Ephesians 3:14-21 Paul tells the church not to be disheartened by his tribulation.  He instead explains his wish for the saints:

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,  that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

 

Paul’s desire was for the church was for it to know that no matter what the outward appearance of things may seem, God is bigger than it.

 

So in a practical application, we can see in Philippians 2:14 and 15:

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky   . . .

 

We need to examine where we are today.  Not only in this Covid crisis, but in all life’s other lockdowns, as well.   Job losses, bereavements, strained relationships, and the like are all lockdowns emotionally, but they don’t need to be spiritually.

 

What can we do?  Well look at the opportunities.  In this long isolation I have had more time for the word.  Have you?  More time to pray.  I have really focused on many of you, and for families around the world who have suffered loss in these times.  More time to encourage.  The internet is wonderful when applied to godly purposes.  I really have been blessed myself in being able to send little words of hope and encouragement to others.

 

In the end, in life’s lockdowns, it’s a time for joy.

 

Padre

 

If you have noted that the format of this isn’t exactly the same as my usual posts, it is because this in a manuscript of a sermon.

True Down-pouring

Rainbow, Cloud, Evening Sun, Rain

Pixabay

Troubles and woes

Oft seem to downpour.

Life’s tribulations build up,

Till we can’t stand one more.

We suffer disappointments,

Grief, loss, and pain.

Sometimes feeling,

We’ll never be whole again.

But there are silver linings –

In those clouds of storm.

Moments of calm and peace –

Giving us a respite,

And a chance to release.

Look upwards beyond

Those menacing clouds,

To heaven’s grandeur

Above their dark shroud.

There you will find ready,

The Author of all Blessing.

He will downpour sweet things,

All your soul’s needs caressing.

 

Padre

 

Weekend Writing Prompt #158 – Downpour in 88 words

 

 

Above Giants

Jesus, Christ, God, Holy, Spirit, Bible, Gospel, David

Pixabay

A shepherd boy to Elah went

To deliver supplies – he was sent

But in that valley – the thing he did see –

Was a giant that made men’s courage flee

The huge braggart – did taunt and fume

He mocked Israel and promised doom

But then God – he did deride

This was more than the boy could abide

So with a length of cord and five smooth stones

The shepherd crossed the valley “alone”

But alone he wasn’t – with God he did proceed

An aid that makes giants small indeed

A whir and a snap, a crack and a fall

The man from Gath in the sand did sprawl

A God in Israel, that day David did prove

The Philistine threat, the Lord did remove

When we face giants – be they doubts or fears

Remember God’s still here after all those years.

 

Padre