Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hope From Your Redeemer

"But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
'Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior...
because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.
From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done.'
This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel...”
Isaiah 43:1-2, 4, 13, 14

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Joy Everlasting

Joy. What a concise little word with such a vast meaning. A beautiful word, reflecting the very essence of what God has called our lives to be basked within. He has especially made this very clear in my life over the course of this past week.

This week has been a struggle, a struggle to maintain a sense of joy. My attitude, my heart, my life...did not start out "joyfully" this week. How about you? Perhaps these statements will sound familiar to you. How can I have joy, Lord, when that mountain in front of me seems so large. How can I have joy, Lord, with those dreams seem so far out of reach? And how can I have joy, Lord, when I feel as if there is nothing to be joyful about?

Have you ever thought any of those statements within your mind? Or maybe you've prayed those cried those pleas many times to God. At one time or another, we have all experienced times in our lives where joy seems to be almost buried beneath the cares of this life. But what has the Lord asked us to do? Be joyful? Yes, dear child, be overcome with joy.

As I have mentioned many times previous to this entry, I am currently reading "Hope" by Nancy Guthrie. At the beginning of this week, it was almost as if God had laid this book right before me and flipped through the pages to page 181. He sovereignly planned that I begin this week by reading a devotion entitled: "No One Can Rob You of this Joy." In John 16, Jesus was helping His disciples understand what was to come. They did not understand completely that He Jesus would be dying. Confusion consumed their hearts. How discouraging to hear that your Leader, the one that you have followed with your whole heart, would soon be gone. But then the beautiful words of our Lord Jesus followed, saying: "You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy when you see Me again. You have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy." (John 16:20,22)

Beautiful. How beautiful. Does that encourage your heart? Oh, how it does mine. Everlasting joy is the promise for those who follow Him. Jesus has given a promise of everlasting joy. "The resurrection of Jesus means that not only will He live forever as the Source of our joy, but we also will live forever if He is our Source of joy." (Guthrie)

Throughout the week, stressful times did, in fact, make their unwelcomed appearances. They did surely attempt to rob my joy. I remember one day I just stopped during the middle of stressful time and said aloud: "You are my joy, Lord." My attitude became that of joy, but only by His help.

About a month ago, I sat down with my planner and wrote down a verse for each week of the semester. I randomly selected these verses. As I was writing my "To-do" lists, the verse for this week caught my attention. Would it surprise you if I told you that it had something to do with joy? Well...our God is a detailed and "on-time" God. Of course it did.

"You will show me the way of life,
granting me the joy of your presence
and the pleasures of living with you forever."
Psalm 16:11

This would be the first of many verses of joy that God would bring unto my attention.

"You love Him even though you have never seen Him.
Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him;
and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy."
1 Peter 1:8

"The Lord is my strength and shield.
I trust in Him with all my heart.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
I burst in songs of thanksgiving"
Psalm 28:7

What precious promises! God does not promise that difficult circumstances and seemingly overwhelming situations will never come. However, He promises that nothing can rob the joy that comes from a life lived in Jesus Christ. May we spend time in God's Word and spend time in prayer, child of God. May we bring our cares, concerns, the throne. May we leave them there, resting in God's sovereign provision. May we make a conscious choice to live with an attitude of joy...a joy that comes from loving our Lord Jesus. For no discouragement that you may face, no disease that may strike your body, no failure that may thwart your plans, no enemy that may desire your harm, no brokenness that attempts to steal your hope...nothing, precious servant of God, nothing can rob your Joy. For He is your Joy.

This is my prayer for you tonight:

"I pray that God, the source of hope,
will fill you completely with joy and peace
because you trust in him.
Then you will overflow with confident hope
through the power of the Holy Spirit."
Romans 15:13

No one and no thing can rob you of the joy that comes from our Lord Jesus. Praise God!

Hannah Grace

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Even though...yet I will praise Him.

The sound of rain. To some, it's soothing. To others, it's refreshing. But to some, it's a sound that brings unwelcomed feelings of fear and despair. Well...that is if you are a farmer.

Over the past few weeks, the farmers of the community have been on my heart. Rain...something that is so desperately prayed for in the droughts of the summer suddenly came like a flood...literally. The precious seed that was carefully planted a few months ago and grown into a beautiful crop is now being seemingly suffocated by the rain. And yet...God knows. Even more than that...He planned this. It may be a struggle to believe it, but He is in control.

Last week, as I was listening to one of my favorite worship CDs, a song came across the speakers. It is a song that I have heard possibly twenty times, but that day it seemed as if God was speaking these lyrics with His very voice right into my own ears. A certain part stood out to me that day. And as Hillsong sang these words, I listened...captivated by God's sovereignty.

"When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with you above the storm
Father, You are king over the flood
I will be still and know you are God."

Yes, Lord. You are King over the flood. What a blessing it was to be able to sing those words. After weeks of almost continuous rain that seemed to never have an end...what hope lies ahead. For whatever the "flood" may be within our lives...divorce, financial troubles, sickness, fear, abandonment...He is King. Praise God that our circumstance do not determine His faithfulness. He is asking us to be still. To be still, dear ones, and know that He is God. (Psalm 46:10) Are you doing that today? I can from the depths of my heart be honest today and tell you that I have not been lately. I have allowed fear and doubt to consume me instead of being still before my Father. Oh, that we may truly recognize His sovereign hand over every event in our lives. For He has promised good...not evil. For He gives love...not hatred. For He works all for His glory that His name be exalted. For He always just the right time.

In Matthew 8, we read the story of Jesus' mighty hand calming a storm. His disciples were terrified...stricken with fear, doubt, and hopelessness. Yet all that our Lord did was "rebuke" the wind and waves...and all was calm.

I imagine Jesus in the middle of the "storms" in life...holding out His hand, calling us by name...asking for us to rest in Him. "Be still, Hannah. I am Your Saviour. I am in control. I alone will calm the My time. You need only be still."
"Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
'Yes, I am here'; He will quickly reply." (Is. 58:9)

Today if you have time, listen to the song posted at the bottom of this entry. Whatever the storm may be within your life, will you trust Him today? Will you trust that He is in control? And even as Habukkuk prayed these words in the midst of an unknown future, may you have the courage and faith to pray the same. Even though...yet I will praise Him.

"Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
The Sovereign Lord is my strength!"
Habakkuk 3:17-19

Lift up your heads, O farmers of faith. No matter what "storm" you may be facing. Praise God there is hope...even though.

"The Lord rules over the floodwaters.
The Lord reigns as king forever.
The Lord gives his people strength.
The Lord blesses them with peace."
Psalm 29:10-11

Hannah Grace