as we wait for Morning {finding hope in the One who has overcome}

It is a hard season.  It seems like more grief, more struggle comes with each day. It is like the whole world is crying out in pain. While I watch the news and listen to interviews, it is difficult to even take in all of the broken places and broken hearts. It seems like so many things are falling apart, so many people are hurting.  And so we mourn with those who mourn – all the while praying, all the while interceding for those who are suffering…because, even as darkness seems to overtake the world, right in front of our eyes – our prayers are heard by the One who has already overcome that darkness. And, even as this Night – long though it may be – is filled with weeping, He will bring Morning again.

These are the days when we put our trust in His eternal perspective, in His enduring goodness…in the truth of His love, in the working of all things for the good of those who love Him.

These are the days when we stand on His promises given in love, promises of a story that does not end with death and a world that will be restored. These are the days when we put our faith in His Sovereign power, living with hope because He is able to fulfill every word He has spoken, every promise made.  Even while the circumstances of the future are uncertain – a reality made more clear every day – we depend upon the truth that every tomorrow is held in His hands and His power to carry us is certain…for the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. (Hebrews 1:3)

Jesus walked on this earth with us, laid down His life because our forever-futures mattered to Him. His resurrection crushed the head of the enemy. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. (1 John 3:8) And because Jesus is alive, all authority is His – and, one day, the enemy himself will be completely destroyed. Darkness, death, and satan himself will be no more. Every curse of sin will be broken. Every night of mourning shall end.

And although the trouble in this world is almost incomprehensible, it is in His authority we put our trust when everything else falls to pieces and it is His resurrection power that gives us the strength we need as we wait for that Morning to dawn.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way. –Eph. 1:18-23

Jesus told the disciples that in this world, they would have trouble – and this is where we are, in the middle of trouble after trouble – but He went on to say ‘Take heart! For I have overcome the world.’ (John 16:33)

No matter what our right-now-vision may see, His Word declares that the children of God are more than conquerors in ‘trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword’. His Word declares that we have “all-surpassing power” from God…we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Cor. 4:7-8) His Word declares that we will triumph by the word of our testimony and the blood of the Lamb. (Rev. 12:11)

The Savior who is our advocate, our reconciliation with the Father, our atoning sacrifice – all authority, all power, all supremacy belongs to Him. And this is the same Jesus who intercedes for His people. He knows every single heart that is overwhelmed with turmoil, every heart that is crumbling, every loss, every tear. He does not leave us – He does not forsake us.

I hope that we can hold onto this with all of our hearts and all of our strength – because, in a time such as this, we need to know Our Savior has already been victorious and – He gives us this reassurance in Rev. 1:17-18:  “I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”

Knowing this, we will not give into despair but will allow His love and His hope shine ever brighter through us.

“….My Word that goes out from My mouth…will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it…

See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and He rules with a mighty arm. See, His reward is with Him, and His recompense accompanies Him. He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart…

“I will make peace your governor and well-being your ruler. No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise. The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.”  (From the book of Isaiah 40, 55, 60)

Then all your people will be righteous and they will possess the land forever. They are the shoots I have planted, the work of My hands, for the display of My splendor. The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation.

I am the Lord; in its time I will do this swiftly.”

And as we hold onto our hope in Him, as we wait for Him, may we act. It may feel like a small thing, what we offer, but our God is the God of miracles who takes little and makes it much. He is the God who hears the prayers of righteous men and women and makes those prayers ‘availeth much’. (James 5:16) May we intercede for our brothers and sisters, may we have open hands to help meet their needs. Let us not turn away from the darkness or fear it– because the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.-John 1:5

(resources for reaching out:…to the body of Christ — and to those in Nepal)

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Broken

Broken.

From the Garden of Eden to Noah’s generation, which is where we now pause, humanity was broken. Holy communion with God – broken. A mother’s heart, seeing the pain of an angry son and a son murdered in a field – broken.  A family watching their own people turn away from what is true and beautiful to violence — relationships, broken.

The thoughts of men turning towards evil in every way — God’s heart? Broken.  “The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain…” (Genesis 6:6) 

But one man was found righteous and this man found favor with God — and, through Noah, humanity was given a chance for redemption.

The earth was given a new day, a new start, an mankind was given a new opportunity to walk with God.

But, again, we look back and see God’s laws, given to us for our own peace and good….broken.

God provisions to meet Him through obedience, sacrifices, and a pure heart were ignored, discounted, forgotten again and again. Through every phase of history, He pursued and He loved and the people He longed to bless remained rebellious and selfish. The world was again full of pain and corruption. Entire nations hurt. Families were torn apart. Hearts were in pieces.

But God does not give up. A way of redemption was given, once again, through a righteous man. But this was not just any man. This was Jesus Christ, son of man and son of God, without any sin. Without blemish. Perfect in every way. After Him, no other sacrifice was necessary. Through Him, we were given all that we needed.

He became our Righteousness, our Redeemer, and our Savior.  Jesus came and was wounded so that our broken pieces could be made whole. Our hearts, our families, our relationship with God — renewed and restored.

I think we could all use a good reminder of who this Savior is. Because I’ll be the first to admit — my heart is hurting.   

I’ve spent the last week and a half processing the events happening around us. Earthquakes, threats of nuclear meltdowns, thousands of lives lost, governments gearing up for battle. I’ve been hanging out with teenagers and learning bits of pieces of their stories, hearing the pain behind some of their casual words. I’ve had a few preacher’s kid moments, where I’ve wished I could stand on the front lines to protect those called to preach God’s Word and seem to be an easy target for other people’s frustrations.  I’ve had moments of aggravation and confusion, wishing the people of God would stop hiding behind petty issues and step up to love like Jesus.  

In these weeks leading up to Easter, I’d like to share His life with you. Maybe you don’t really know what Jesus did while He was here on earth. Maybe you’re not actually sure of what He taught us and what it means to live in His peace. 

If you feel broken, please read along. My words will fall short, no doubt, but the God I’m describing to you will never fall short. He is more than we can imagine and more than we need.

Jesus. He is our hope. We are still broken and only He can make us whole, and He can restore us even when it doesn’t seem possible. Sometimes we have to just be still and remember who He is.

Isaiah 53
Who believes what we’ve heard and seen? Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?
The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
Through his bruises we get healed.
We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.
We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong,
on him, on him.

He was beaten, he was tortured,
but he didn’t say a word.
Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered
and like a sheep being sheared,
he took it all in silence.
Justice miscarried, and he was led off—
and did anyone really know what was happening?
He died without a thought for his own welfare,
beaten bloody for the sins of my people.
They buried him with the wicked,
threw him in a grave with a rich man,
Even though he’d never hurt a soul
or said one word that wasn’t true.

Still, it’s what God had in mind all along,
to crush him with pain.
The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin
so that he’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life.
And God’s plan will deeply prosper through him.

Out of that terrible travail of soul,
he’ll see that it’s worth it and be glad he did it.
Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant,
will make many “righteous ones,”
as he himself carries the burden of their sins.
Therefore I’ll reward him extravagantly—
the best of everything, the highest honors—
Because he looked death in the face and didn’t flinch,
because he embraced the company of the lowest.
He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many,
he took up the cause of all the black sheep.

Trusting Him

My brain is full of the images coming to us from Japan and my heart is heavy with sorrow, knowing that many lives have been lost and many hearts have been broken.  I hope that we are all praying for those affected and the men and women who are there to help in the aftermath.

I was tempted to leave this post at that — because it’s difficult to process all of this tragedy…and all day, watching the news, I kept thinking that this could be any of us. Without warning, without time to prepare…our world can change in an instant,  just like it did for so many people today.  It’s a reality that we don’t like to think about.

But God’s character stands, even in the face of  disaster, and I don’t want that to go unsaid. 

Can I give you any answer as to why these things happen?

Not really, not to any true satisfaction.

But I can tell you that He is still in control. He is still present.  Still, He is love.

It’s on days like these that we, more than ever,  must trust who He is and know that He is faithful. 

He sees what we cannot see. He understands the plan of redemption — a plan of mercy — that began with creation.   He is the Alpha, yes, but He is also the Omega.  And from the beginning into eternity, He is the I AM. The same yesterday, today, and forever. Holy. All-knowing. All-powerful. Savior.

It’s a fact — in this world, we will see days like today. The unthinkable happens. The earth seems like it’s literally falling apart around us.

But our truth is this — our souls and our futures are secure in Him. We can rejoice, even in the midst of sorrow, because God is our hope. If the world crumbles before our eyes, we will lift our eyes to the Maker of heaven and earth, knowing that the same God who created us and knows each tear that we have cried is still holding us in His hands.

That’s what I can give to you —  the reminder that He is the constant in  our fragile existence.

And knowing all this, knowing that He is the light in our darkness…understanding that we are called to love people like He loves people and to offer hope in every way…can we join together in helping those who are suffering?

I know many organizations will be offering aid to those in crisis, but I have great faith in World Vision and the Red Cross.  Please consider giving a donation — every little bit will count.

This is the time when our faith bears the fruit of action: trusting when the road is hard, standing in faith instead of (maybe in spite of) fear. giving when others are empty, interceding for those who are without hope, loving in and out of every situation.