Our Everlasting Consolation

 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. About 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 is 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 loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful HOPE….” We can always be assured that He will “…comfort you and strengthen you…” 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, comfort and HOPE. Help us to remember to always turn to You no matter what we’re going through. Amen.


[All emphasis on the word HOPE is mine.]

The closer His embrace

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He has chosen not to heal me,
but to hold me.
The more intense the pain,
the closer His embrace.
-Joni Eareckson Tada, A Place of Healing:
Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering,
Pain, and God’s Sovereignty

God’s Final Verdict and Vindication of Job

I receive Moody Bible Institute’s “Today in the Word” daily devotional booklets every month. This month’s booklet was titled “Job: Faith, Humility, and Worship.” Although I’ve studied the Book of Job several times, this devotional study has been by far the best. Please visit Today in the Word to subscribe to the email version of their daily devotionals, or to the booklet version which is delivered by snail mail.

God’s Final Verdict and Vindication of Job

Read Job 42:7–9

You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.
Job 42:8

Christian musician and author Michael Card wrote a series of songs entitled the “Job Suite.” In one song, Job laments, “These friends of mine are no comfort to me / So deafly they listen, so blindly they see / Their words and their doctrine, they all sound so true / The problem is, Lord, they’re all wrong about You!” 

In today’s verses, God emphatically agreed with Job. Two verses in a row, He said to the friends, “You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has” (vv. 7–8). Job had believed God would vindicate him, and He did! God as Judge rendered His verdict, finding in favor of Job, who was indeed innocent, and against the three friends. They had behaved so badly, in fact, that they were required to offer substantial sacrifices publicly confessing the sinfulness of their speeches. In addition, in a perfect example of poetic justice, their former target Job offered intercessory prayer for them in order to obtain God’s forgiveness. 

Though Job and his foolish friends were unaware of the behind-the-scenes drama in the heavenly throne room, God’s verdict also sealed the case against Satan. Job had passed Satan’s test, as God knew he would. He had held onto faith in God, despite personal suffering and the stripping away of his secondary blessings. By contrast, the upside-down theology of the friends valued God’s blessings above God Himself. They were thus guilty of Satan’s accusation (1:9–11); ironically, given their claims to speak for God, they had often represented Satan’s perspective during the debate. 

Job had spoken rightly about God. The Lord is no clockwork mechanism of retributive justice, as envisioned by the friends. He is personally involved, He cares about us, and His plans reflect these truths despite our failure to understand. Even for the friends—who by their own rules deserved punishment—God made a way for them to be reconciled to Himself.

Apply the Word

Listening to Michael Card’s “Job Suite” would be an excellent way to review and meditate on the book of Job and our month’s study. This 10-minute biblically focused composition was originally on his album The Way of Wisdom, which itself was the second in a trilogy of albums about the Old Testament. It has since also appeared on another album, An Invitation to Awe.


Beloved, this is one of the songs on Michael Card’s “Job Suite” album mentioned above, a video (with lyrics). It is definitely worth the 10 minutes to watch and listen.

 

 

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Prayer When I’m Overwhelmed

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Many of us are struggling with so much these days. Health problems. Financial troubles. Maybe the need of a job or a place to live. Perhaps our children are not living as they ought to be. Or it may be that we have no idea where our next meal will come from.

I hope you will be blessed by this devotional that I wrote for the anthology titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. This particular devotional was included in the section titled Prayers of Supplication.  

When I’m overwhelmed by cares . . .

I will relieve your shoulder of its burden;
I will free your hands from their heavy tasks. 
—Psalm 81:6 NLT

 

When the cares of my heart are many,
thy consolations cheer my soul. 

—Psalm 94:19 RSV

 

Cast your cares on the LORD 
and he will sustain you. 
—Psalm 55:22

 

The LORD lifts the burdens of those bent beneath their loads. 
—Psalm 146:8 NLT

 

Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is 
always thinking about you and watching everything
that concerns you. 

—1 Peter 5:7 TLB

 

. . . I will pray.

Precious Lord,

From my window, I see children playing in the yard next door, soaking up the warm air and bright sunshine. I still remember those carefree childhood days, filled with simple pleasures—but that seems so far away now. Instead I feel as though I’m buried under a flood of cares: bills to pay, personality conflicts at work, family disagreements.

My life seems to be buried under an avalanche of responsibilities to be met and problems to be solved. My cares cover me like a cloak, blocking the sunshine from my dreary heart.

Help me lift my head, Lord. Fill me up with Your Spirit. Help me to throw off my cloak of sadness and let in the sunshine of Your love.

As an act of faith, I close my eyes and reach out to You—the Giver and Sustainer of life. I release my cares to You, one by one, piling them high at Your feet. The disappointment at work, the unexpected car repair, my aching joints, and on and on and on . . . until every burden is transferred from my shoulders to Yours.

Thank You for being my Burden-Bearer.

Amen.

Tell God all that is in your heart,
as one unloads one’s heart, 
its pleasures and pains, to a dear friend. 
Tell Him your troubles, that He may comfort you. 
—Francois Fenelon

 [From Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Copyright © 2006 Bordon-Winters LLC]

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Not Everyone’s Merry at Christmastime [repost from Abandoned to Christ]

Life here on earth is admittedly hard. It seems like it’s never only one thing at a time that is a difficulty. That one thing turns into a host of problems, and we wonder if we’ll ever see that light at the end of our long tunnel.

Maybe there are things we remember from a not-so-great time in our past that intrude and try to replace our happiness and joy during Christmas.

Or perhaps we’re missing some precious people who have already gone home to the Lord.

Could it be that the sadness is a combination of all of the above?

Today I’d like to share with you a recent post from one of my favorite blogs—Sunny Shell’s Abandoned to Christ. This post speaks so well about all of this. Thank you, Sunny, for helping us recognize these feelings in ourselves and those around us.

 

It seems everywhere we look and every place we go, there’s Christmas music playing, people shopping, commercials filled with laughter and gaiety; sparkling decorations and hearts filled with merriment and hope. But it’s not that way for everyone. There are a silent few…or a silent many who are not merry at Christmastime.
 
Some people have lost loved ones this year through death, or by sin that always separates. Some, like orphans, have no one to lose, but have constant dreams of finding parents who offer the sacrificial and eternal love of Christ rather than the self-centered, ephemeral love this world settles for. Then there are those who are alone in adulthood: widows, divorcees, and those struck with depression. The list goes on…and so do their sorrows. 


Read the rest here

http://www.sunnyshell.org/2014/12/not-everyones-merry-at-christmastime.html

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Prayer When Dealing With Anxiety

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Since today is election day, I think we can all relate to this devotional I wrote quite awhile ago for the anthology titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday PeopleThis particular devotional was included in the section titled Prayers of Supplication. 

 

When I’m dealing with anxiety . . .

When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought joy to my soul. 
—Psalm 94:19

 

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 
—1 Peter 5:7

 

Anxiety weighs down the human heart,
but a good word cheers it up. 
—Proverbs 12:25 NRSV

 

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God;
and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 
—Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV

 

May God bless you richly and grant you
increasing freedom from all anxiety and fear. 
—1 Peter 1:2 TLB

 

. . . I will pray.

Loving Father,

Edgy, anxious, jumpy—I just can’t seem to get it together this morning. Every little detail seems to be a big deal doing its dance across my mind. I really need Your help, Your peace, Your undisturbed calm.

I’m not sure how I got to this place. Too many newscasts with their dire predictions, too many experts telling me to watch out for this, never eat that, stay away from something else. There doesn’t seem to be one safe spot on the whole planet. Even at church, there are concerns about building funds and nursery workers and doctrinal controversies.

Lord, I don’t want to look at my life through anxious eyes. The world is what it is, but I know that You can give me peace in the midst of it. Right now, I offer all my anxious thoughts to You. I lay them at Your feet. And I ask You to sort through them and nudge me when I need to confront one of them. Until then, I’ll relax and rest in Your love and constant watchful care.

Amen.

 

Man’s world has become a nervous one,
encompassed by anxiety.
God’s world is other than this;
always balanced, calm, and in order. 
—Faith Baldwin

 

[From Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Copyright © 2006 Bordon-Winters LLC]

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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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