God is in the Dark Cloud

_The Lord said He would dwell in the dark cloud._

Do you have a dark cloud hanging over you?

 

Financial problems

Health issues

Relationship troubles

Depression, Anxiety, Loneliness

Betrayal, Injustice, Oppression

Worry, Doubt, Confusion, Fear

 

Whatever your dark cloud looks like, God is there with you in the midst of it.

“The Lord said He would dwell in the dark cloud.” I Kings 8:12

Just like sun is always present even when the dark clouds block it out–so is God in your life even when dark circumstances try to block Him out.

Be encouraged, be reassured, be comforted that God is there with you, in the dark cloud.

 

Advertisements

Yes, God is Good—Even in the Earthquake and the Hurricane!

Yes, God is Good—Even in the Earthquake and the Hurricane!

 

If God is real, how can he be good and allow these earthquakes and hurricanes?”

That is a question I read from a list of comments one day. The following are my thoughts about it.

BUT—God is good in the earthquake and the hurricane! He is good in all the bad things that happen.

I don’t know if God “makes” the earthquakes happen, or if He allows them to happen, or maybe it’s we humans who make them happen through our neglect and damage to the earth.

But, when the earthquakes happen, yes, God is there and God is good!

Because when an earthquake or any other disaster happens, guess what? People come together. People forget their selfish attitudes, grudges, prejudices, and discriminations, and they come together in unison with one mission in mind—to help and care for one another. Is this not the goodness of God?

The Bible teaches us to love one another and do good for one another, but how often do we do it? Sometimes it takes a catastrophe to get people to do what God asks us to do—and maybe that is what God is up to after all!

When disasters happen, yes, we see and hear about the great sorrow and suffering that people endure, but at the same time, we also hear these wonderful stories about how people are “miraculously” rescued. We read about the great lengths others go through to save someone else. Ordinary people become heroes in times like these. These tragedies have a way of bringing out the good in humanity.

Also from these terrible events, we often hear stories like how someone lost everything except their Bible, or how the Bible saved them. And sometimes, we see photos like how amid the destruction and rubble, a cross is left standing perfectly whole.

Sometimes people want to question and accuse God when bad things happen, but when bad things happen, God is there stirring up humanity’s love for one another. God is there giving people the superman abilities to rescue others. God is there giving a baby the strength to cry so he/she can be heard and rescued. God is showing His Presence in the Bible lying undamaged and the cross left standing amid the debris and wreckage.

So yes, God is so good– even in the earthquake and the hurricane!

 

Are You Hindering Your Own Prayers?

Are You Hindering Your Own Prayers_

Have you ever been reading a familiar passage from the Bible, a passage you’ve read like 400 hundred times–and then one day you read it again–only this time something jumps out at you that you never saw before?

That’s what happened to me the other day while I was reading the last chapter of Job.

Most of us are familiar with how Job went through a season in his life where he suffered great loss and physical agony, but later God restored to him everything plus much more.

But, read this verse:

“After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.” Job 42:10

Did you catch what has taken me many decades to catch?

When did God restore Job?

“After Job had prayed for his friends…”

That phrase flew up like a bug and jabbed me in the eye. I couldn’t see anything except those seven words.

And I just sat there meditating on what I just read.

In the preceding verses, God tells Job’s friends that He is angry with them because they did not tell Job the truth. So, God instructs the friends to make a sacrifice for their sin, and says “My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly.”

And then, the scripture says the friends obeyed the instruction, and God accepted Job’s prayer for them.

While pondering this passage, the question came to my mind:

“Do we hinder our own prayers to God? Do we stand in the way of God blessing us because we do not pray for those who have wronged us?

When I did a quick Bible study, I found these verses:

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:24-26 

“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” I Peter 3:7

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24

After reading these Bible verses, I came to the conclusion, that yes, we can indeed hinder our own prayers by not praying for those who have wronged us.

There are many reasons why God sometimes appears silent to our prayers. Sometimes, we may be asking for something that He knows will be harmful to us. Other times, God is just waiting for the right time to answer our prayers.

But, we should examine our hearts and ask ourselves if maybe God is first waiting on us to pray for the forgiveness of others.

Perhaps then, this phrase can be said of you or me: “And when (your name) prayed for his/her friends/enemies, God restored him/her.”

So, if you are struggling today and wondering why it seems like God is not hearing your prayers, I encourage you to look in your heart and see if there is someone you need to forgive, someone you need to ask God to forgive.

Thanks for taking the time read this.

Blessings to you!

Karen

O Absalom My Son, My Son!

 

tim-mossholder-74832.jpg

Photo Credit: Tim Mossholder

 

Have you ever doubted God’s love for you? Do you ever question how God could possibly love you after the things you have done? If so, this post is for you.

“As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him.” (Psalm 103:13)

King David wrote the above psalm. He knew exactly what it was like to be a father.

More than that, he knew what it was like to love a child even when that child opposed you.

In II Samuel 18, we can read the heartbreaking account of how King David’s own son, Absalom, had rebelled against his father and schemed to take the throne, or kingship, from David.

However, when it came time for King David’s warriors to go fight against Absalom and his supporters, King David strictly ordered that no one should lay a hand on Absalom, and that no harm should be done to him.

Even though Absalom was trying to defeat his own father, all David was concerned about was protecting his son.

When the news of the victorious battle came to King David at the end of II Samuel 18, David’s first question was, “Is Absalom safe?”

David cared more about the welfare of his enemy son than the fate of his kingship. After learning that Absalom had died, David could not rejoice in the triumphal battle because he immediately sank into a well of deep grief over the loss of his son.

Listen to King David’s woeful words, “O my son Absalom–my son, my son Absalom—-if I had only died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!”

King David would gladly have given his life and his kingship if he could have only saved his son’s life. How great a father’s love!

This heart-wrenching account reveals to us the love of God as our heavenly Father. Like King David, God loves us and desires to protect us and help us even when we oppose Him, when we betray Him, and even when we deny Him. How great a love is this! Only a parent can love this way!

Romans 5:8 tells us that God has loved us even while we were yet His enemies. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

What’s more, just like King David, God does not rejoice and–cannot rejoice– over lost souls. II Peter 3:9—-“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

Ezekiel 18:23 ” Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord God, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?”

King David regretted deeply that he could not exchange his own life for that of his son. God as a father has felt the same way toward us. Because of this, He sacrificed His only begotten Son to die in our place, so that we could be released from sin’s captivity to return to Him and live with Him forever. Spiritually speaking, God did give Himself for us through His Son.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

If you have ever doubted God’s love for you, doubt no more.

How to Survive the Storms of Life

Surviving Life Storms

Photo Credit: Jean-Pierre Brungs

 

After a long, tiring day of preaching to a multitude from a boat on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus said to His disciples, “Let us cross over to the other side.”

So, the disciples set sail, many of them seasoned fishermen well acquainted with the sea and all its wonders and perils.

While they rowed, Jesus slept.

At some point during the night, a storm swiftly came up out of nowhere. The fishermen were accustomed to sailing in storms, but this was no ordinary storm. This storm was so intense that it was beyond their skill and ability. This storm sent waves crashing against them, quickly filling their boat with water so that the fishermen feared the boat would sink. Their lives were in imminent danger. They were so terrified that they ran and awoke Jesus, accusing Him of not caring about them. “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”

(The above Biblical account is from the passage, Mark 4:35-41)

Storms of life come swiftly into our lives from time to time as well.  

These storms come in forms that we call:

  • Illness
  • Death of a loved one
  • Financial woes
  • Divorce
  • Abandonment
  • Betrayal
  • You name your storm

Some of these storms are so violent that they are beyond our knowledge of what to do or how to handle them. These storms fill our lives with overwhelming fears and worries just like waves filling a boat with water. Like the disciples, we fear that we might not make it through this, that we might just sink into utter despair.

And like the fishermen disciples, we, too, might ask “Lord, do you not care?”

 

Why we should expect unexpected storms

The storm this night on the Sea of Galilee was totally unexpected. If the disciples/fishermen had known it was going to come up such a terrible storm, they most certainly would not have ventured out onto the sea. The storm totally caught them off guard.

Isn’t that how life storms do as well? One minute, life is smooth sailing, and the next, we are blindsided with a crushing storm. All it takes is one wrong choice, one phone call, one diagnosis, or one lay-off slip to send your world reeling.

The Bible warns us that storms will come. (Job 14:1) Even Jesus tells us that in the world, we will have tribulations. (John 16:33)

 

Reasons we might experience storms

  • Our own doing. Sometimes we are the source of our own storms. When Jonah chose to rebel against God, he got caught in a storm in which he was thrown overboard and landed into the belly of a great fish. (Jonah, chapter 1) Sometimes, it is our own wrong choices and foolish acts that result in terrible consequences. Though difficult to endure, these storms can correct us and teach us wisdom to make better choices in the future.
  • God. Sometimes God is the source. Job faced one of life’s worst superstorms ever because God allowed it. (Job, chapter 2) Sometimes, God allows storms to rage in our lives to get our attention, to draw us closer to Him, and to perfect our faith. (I Peter 1:7) “Although He is not far from anyone of us.” (Acts 17:27)
  • Satan. And then, sometimes it is Satan who sends the storms, trying to defeat us and drive us away from God. When storms cause us to be afraid and lose faith in God, Satan rejoices because he has us right where he wants us. (I Peter 5:8) However, if we keep God’s Word close to our hearts, Satan and his storms will leave us. (Matthew 4:1-11)

 

Call For the Life Savior

When the disciples were caught in this violent storm at sea, they cried out to Jesus for help.

Jesus simply got up and commanded for both the wind and the sea to be still, “and there was a great calm.”

In the storms of life, we long for a solution that can instantly bring calm and peace back to our shaky, trembling and hopeless situations. Jesus is that solution. We should cry out to Him and ask for His help, believing that the same Man who calmed the sea and wind can also calm our life crisis.

“In the day of my trouble I will call upon You, for You will answer me. (Psalm 86:7)

Listen to what Jesus says in John 16:33. “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

You can take assurance in the fact that Jesus did not die to save you only to abandon you in your time of need. Jesus is committed to never leaving or forsaking you. (Joshua 1:5 and Hebrews 13:5)

Listen to what God said when His own people accused Him of forgetting and forsaking them: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely, they may forget, yet will I not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands.” Isaiah 49:14-16.

 

Conclusion

When we hold fast to our faith in Christ, we can weather through our life storms the same way that King David describes when he says, “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You, and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge until these calamities have passed by.” (Psalm 57:1)

Why Waiting is Good For You

Pins

Photo Credit: Marnhe du Plooy

 

“The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:25, 26)

No one likes waiting on something for which they desire or need. Most of us want things now. You can probably recall a time when you prayed for something but had to wait a while before receiving an answer to that prayer.

Abraham and Sarah prayed for a child but had to wait until they were old before they had their son, Isaac.

Mary and Martha sent a messenger to Jesus, begging for Him to come to their house quickly because their brother, Lazarus, was very sick. But, Jesus did not come until after Lazarus was dead.

So, why is waiting good for you?

 

  1. Waiting Strengthens You.

 

“Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14)

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

 

  1. Waiting Builds Character and Produces Joy.

“And it will be said in that day; behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the Lord; We have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” (Isaiah 25:9)

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

 

  1. Consequences of Not Waiting on God.

Esau sold all the privileges of his birthright simply because he was hungry and didn’t want to wait to eat. (Genesis 25:29-34)

Because Achan refused to wait like God commanded, it cost him and his family their lives. (Joshua 7)

Psalm 106 gives us a detailed description of how the Israelites forgot God and “did not wait for His counsel.” As a result, they brought on numerous troubles for themselves.

If we choose to not wait on God, we experience frustration, disappointment and anger, which can pressure and provoke us into taking hasty actions that only deliver us more problems.

In Psalm 37:1-8, we can read about the rewards of waiting on God. He will fulfill the desires of our heart and give us success. In summary, these verses say:

 

Don’t worry and make bad choices. Instead, trust and wait on God, and He will bless you and make everything work out for good for you.

 

  1. What God will do when you wait on Him.

He “shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:3-7)

God says that those who wait on Him will not regret it. (Isaiah 49:23)

Those that wait on God will not lack anything they need. (Psalm 34:8-10)

Check out what King David said after he waited on God:

“I waited patiently for the Lord, and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my step.” (Psalm 40:1, 2)

When you wait on God, He will act on your behalf. “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him.” (Isaiah 64:4)

 

  1. Waiting gives God the Opportunity to Show up & Show Out.

Sometimes, God waits until all hope “appears” gone before He does His greatest works.

Abraham and Sarah finally had a child together after they thought they were too old to bear children. (Genesis 21:1-7).

Mary and Martha saw their brother raised from the dead after they thought they would never see him again. (John 11)

Jesus waited until Lazarus was dead before He showed up at Mary and Martha’s house after they sent for Him. Why would He do that? This is the answer He gave:

“Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)

 

  1. God waits too!

Have you ever thought that you make God wait on you?

In the days of Noah, God waited with long-suffering for people to repent of their sins and evil way of life. (I Peter 3:20)

God waits on us to give Him the opportunity to love us and bless us.

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;  therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice.  Blessed are all who wait for him! (Isaiah 30:18)

God waits on us to turn our lives over to Him because He can’t bear to lose you.

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9)

Jesus stands at the door of our heart knocking, waiting for us to answer.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Revelations 3:20)

 

Have you been waiting on God? Waiting for an answer to a prayer? A fulfillment to a dream? Justice for a wrongdoing? Do you believe that God’s timing is perfect, and that if you give Him your trust and patience, He will one day show up and show out for you?