Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Psalm 107 - God hears you

So tonight I was reading Psalm 107. I don't think I had read it before because it had no notes in the margins and now it has LOTS. I like to read the Psalms almost every night. My method? You take the date, so today was the 17th and then you keep adding 30 until you run out of Psalms. So tonight I read 17, 47, 77, 107, and 137. Get it? So if you do it consistently for a month then you have read the entire book. Anyway...
      Tonight I camped out in 107. It is a great chapter. It starts off like a lot of the Psalms, praising God because He is good. That is all, just because He is good and because He is God and deserves our praise. Then psalmist calls out the redeemed and reminds us of how the Lord called us and redeemed us from the ends of earth. Then he gets into the details...
       First, the psalmist addresses those of us that wandered in the desert wastelands. Wandering, with no place to settle, no place to call home. I know that is some of you. You have gone or are going through a time in your life when nothing seemed settled. A time when had no place to call home. Not sure which direction to go next or where to turn, just lost. That is how the psalmist describes these people, they were hungry and thirsty and alone in the wilderness. Then verse 6 (you'll see this same verse over and over) "Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble and he delivered them from their distress." The people called out to God and He heard them and He delivered them. The next verses tell what He did, He led them to a city where they could be settled and He satisfied their thirst and their hunger with good things. See what God did? First He HEARD the people. I know sometimes you feel like God can't hear you or He is not listening. I have felt like that a 1000 times, like my prayers weren't leaving my room...but friend, let me assure you He HEARS you. And then He met them at the place of their wandering and took care of their needs. And the response? Praise. Thanksgiving. Gratefulness.
          Second, the psalmist shows people in total despair and darkness and deepest gloom. These people are imprisoned by their circumstances. Is that you today or sometime in the past? Maybe you are imprisoned by a relationship, or an addiction, or guilt over bad choices? Perhaps there has been something so dark and so painful that no one else knows, but that you are living in you own prison everyday. Good news my friend...same as verse 6 "Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble and he delivered then from their distress." God heard these people and He will hear you. There is no prison to secure to keep God out. There is no wall too thick. No chains to strong. He will find a way through. Through the guilt and the pain and shame and the embarrassment, through whatever you've got. He can bring freedom out of the deepest gloom and the darkest place.
         Third, we have people who are afflicted, sick, diseased, either physically or mentally. We know from the life of Jesus that He did not shy away from a little sickness. Jesus went to the sick and the hurting and brought healing. These people in psalm 107 they did the same thing, "Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble and he delivered then from their distress."(are you noticing a pattern here). God can meet you where you are and heal you from the inside out. Now, I know that some of you are facing some major illnesses in your life. real stuff. tough stuff. and I hope and pray with everything that is in me that God will miraculously, physically heal you. Today. But I don't know. What I do know is that God can take our sick, diseased filled soul that is sick with our own selfishness and sin and He can and will heal that part of our life. Cry out to Him from that hurting place and He will hear you. He will.
          Lastly, we have people in peril. Their safety has been compromised. The psalmist talks about sailors being out in sea in the waves and the wind and the deep and their "courage melted away" (verse 26). Sailors, used to the sea but they were facing something so terrifying that their courage melted away. This must have been something fierce. Is that where you are today? Facing your own storm at sea? Something that is scaring you to the core? Then cry out to Him. Just like the sailors did and God delivered them and brought them to safety.
        You see what happened here?
The people were wandering, thirsty, and hungry and God provided food and drink and a place to settle.
The people were imprisoned and God set them free.
The people were sick and afflicted and God provided healing.
The people were afraid, scared and God provided safety.

If He did it for the people in the old testament that the psalmist is writing about He will do it for you. I didn't make this stuff up, it's in there, in the Bible. I know some of you are hurting. I know you are facing things that seem like giants. I know you are scared. I am too. I am writing this really for me...but dear friend, run to Him. Cling to Him with everything that you have. Call out to Him in your distress and He will hear you and He will deliver you in your time of trouble.

 And then we will praise Him, with our whole selves, because of His unfailing love.

Monday, July 16, 2012

God's Favor

God's Favor...this has been on my mind for the last few weeks. Several years ago when I worked at the church, my good friend Lainie Thomas introduced me to this idea of God's Favor. She said to me on several different occasions that she was praying God's Favor for me and my family. If you were to look in my Bible, especially in the book of Psalms, you would see notes by many verses praying and claiming God's favor for me and my family and the circumstances that we are facing. It is reminder to me that God is always working in us and through us.
        Two weeks ago at church a visiting pastor from San Fransisco preached on the topic of God's Favor. It was an incredible message. Basically, when God's Favor is present, then the impossible becomes possible. In our lives, God is calling us out to do the impossible for Him and He will make it happen. Our response to this is faith. We need to have faith that God is going to show up and take our mess or our impossible dream or the crazy mission He gives us and He is going to make it happen. This can be in small ways and huge ways. The pastor giving the message was talking about his church in San Fransisco. He and his family felt God calling them to San Fransisco. The Mission Board said that every church started in that city in the last 35 years had died. They referred to San Fran as the graveyard for church plants. But Ben and his family went and he convinced a couple of other guys and their families to go to and they started Epic church. And God is making in way in this impossible city. For me it has been little things the past few weeks. Here is an example. As most of you know, I do not work currently and my health is a big issue. This has put a financial strain on our family. So this past week I had to get some stuff at the grocery store. So I put a $40 limit on what I could spend. I had a list. I prayed before I went in. I prayed that God would direct my steps to the right purchases and that He would have favor over my shopping for my family. The total was $40.86. I was so happy that I almost jumped up and down (almost :) I trusted that God would direct me and that is exactly what He did. Now we are trusting God to help me get my health under control. It seems like an impossible task. It is overwhelming to say the least, but I know that God can make a way. I am not expecting Him to cure my diabetes overnight. I know that it will take work and significant lifestyle changes for me, but I am trusting that He will direct my steps to make that happen. We are praying God's favor on my health and job. I don't know what that will look like or what will happen next, but I don't have to know. I just have to trust and keep moving forward to the next thing. Praying that through it all, God will get the glory and that people be impacted by our story.
       I challenge you. Pray God's favor for your family, your church, your business, your school. See what impossible thing God can do in you and through you. I am not talking about a name it and claim kind of favor. It is not God's favor to satisfy your earthly desires. God's favor is never really about you and me and our glory or praise. God will show His favor to impact peoples lives and draw people to Himself and where He will get all the glory. That is really what it is all about, right? Don't you want to get to the end of your life and look back and know that you left it all on the table for Him and His kingdom. Through every crazy life situation you trusted in Him to use it for His sake and His glory. Because really nothing else is going to matter.