Oh Lord, how long?!

 

I hate to wait.  Not many people enjoy it but I really despise waiting (it’s why I play Christmas music in July…who can wait!).  What is really hard is when the waiting is when I am waiting on someone to come and help me out.  The other day, I am ashamed to admit that I ran out of gas once again and this time I had to call my oldest daughter to come and rescue me (have you ever gotten a lecture from your child about putting gas in a car! Ugh!).  Now I know that I called her and she told me where she was and I knew how long it would take, but sitting on the side of the road stranded, each car passing by made me feel like I was sitting there for hours.  “How long, O Clarissa until you bring me thy gas!”  It was tempting to think that she would never come and I should just abandon the vehicle and start walking, but I had to keep reminding myself that she would come, she would bring gas, I would drive once again.

How long, O Lord?  The psalmist feels like God has forgotten him.  That God is not hearing his prayers and not doing anything to help him in his distress.  We all have been there, haven’t we?  I know I have.  But look again at how the psalmist ends this psalm.  He says that he trusts in God’s unfailing love and he will sing to the Lord.  Even when it seems like God is delaying, not listening, not helping…we trust in God’s love and His goodness.

So when it feels like God is delaying, focus not on the delay but on the unfailing love of God and His goodness to you.  This will give you hope, which will give you the ability to wait on God.

Psalm 13:1-6

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.

Oh Lord, how long?!

Kindness, Compassion or Indifference?

Think about how powerful this one little verse is.  They praised God because of me.  Paul was referring to how his life had been before and the difference that the Gospel had made in his life.  He was such a new creation that when people saw him they couldn’t believe it.  They knew it was the work of God.  So when they saw Paul live his life, the response was that they praised God because of him.  How about us?  If someone was to base their opinion of God by what they see in us would they praise God because of us or curse Him because of us, or perhaps be indifferent to God because they see that in us.

Galatians 1:24

24 And they praised God because of me.

Kindness, Compassion or Indifference?

The Planter of Seeds

A woman has a dream where she wanders into a shop at the mall and finds Jesus behind a counter. Jesus says, “You can have anything your heart desires.”

Astounded but pleased, she asks for peace, joy, happiness, wisdom, and freedom from fear. Then she adds, “Not just for me, but for the whole earth.”

Jesus smiles and says, “I think you misunderstand me. We don’t sell fruits, only seeds.”

1 Corinthians 3:6-9

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.

The Planter of Seeds

Where are the faithful?

Politics brings out the worst in people. I was thinking this as I was seeing my Facebook feed and folks who I love dearly within the body of Christ are posting such hateful and awful things about folks (I guess we forget that whole Golden Rule thing that Jesus said when it comes to sports and politics). As the feeds come through, I begin to think if there is anyone that is still nice and kind to other folks? How did we get to the point where we feel comfortable calling other people names (I thought giving folks hurtful nicknames only happened on the playground), harassing people when they are in restaurants with their families, and even going so far that we are promoting violence to those we disagree with? I watch the News, I see the Facebook feeds and I sympathize with the Psalmist. “Help, Lord, for the godly are no more.”
Then I have to remember that there are still good people out there. So often we tend to only focus on the negatives (and there are plenty of negative people and they tend to be very loud) but instead I want to see the good people around me. So here in this awful political environment (and yes…I do see what you post on Facebook and it is not very nice! Oh…and need I remind you that Jesus sees it also. Tsk,tsk!) this is what I want us all to do. Take a deep breath, say a prayer for the people who are on the opposite side of the political spectrum (“kill ‘em, Lord” is NOT an acceptable prayer!). Then I want you to take a break, and go speak to your kids, spouse, neighbor, parents, maybe even your pastor, and remind yourself that there are still good and decent people out there. You are not alone.
Psalm 12:1
1
Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore;
    those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.
Where are the faithful?

Gossip!

Gossip!  It is the unspoken sin in many churches today.  We dress it up as “concerns” for other folks, but many times it is just plain ol’ gossip.  And once gossip is set loose, it can’t be stopped.  You may have heard the story of the young boy who one day went to a monk and said, “I have said something about my friend that wasn’t true.  I thought it was, but it wasn’t and now he is mad. What can I do?”

The monk said, “Take a feather and put it on every step in the neighborhood.”

And so the boy put out a couple of hundred feathers. He went back to the monk and said, “OK. Now what?”

“Now go pick them up.” But when the boy went to pick them up, most of them had been blown away by the wind, to which the monk said, “Once you gossip, it’s nearly impossible to stop it.”

Before you go out and start spreading something around, think about the damage that will be caused by your words.  If you wouldn’t want to say it in front of that person, then should you really be saying it?   Gossiping is one of the quickest ways you can wound someone deeply.  So today, be careful with your words.

Proverbs 16:28

A perverse person stirs up conflict,
    and a gossip separates close friends.

Gossip!

thank you, God

I love to hear stories about what God has done in a person’s life.  A while back I was talking to a friend who had been on an Emmaus walk.  For those of you who have not been on an Emmaus walk it is a 3 day retreat where you are showered by the grace of God.  For many, it is one of the most powerful moments in their Christian walk.  The friend of mine sent me a message on Facebook and you could just tell the excitement and the realization of what he had just experienced.  As he was telling me this, I had to stop and look up and say, “Thanks, God” for what He had done for this man.

As a pastor, I get to hear all kind of stories.  Some about tragedies that people have experienced and about struggles they go through.  At those moments, I lift a prayer saying, “Help them, God.”  And then I get to see God at work.  More often than not, those very same people are back in my office telling me what God has done for them through their difficulty.  Sometimes it’s where God has performed a healing, or where they were finally able to find a job, but for most it is about they had experienced the love of God in ways they had never before.  When I hear that, I look up and “Thank You, God.”

Like Paul, it is great to be able to hear about the faith of others, and what God has done and is doing in their life.  It brings so much joy to me and it makes me wonder….Why don’t we talk about it more?

Ephesians 1:15-16

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

 

thank you, God

Your Life is Sacred

Not everything is equal.  If I go to the store and I pick up a $4 mug and smash it to the ground, I may get in trouble, but no one is calling for my head.  But let’s say that I go to that same store and pick up a $50,000 ancient artifact (hey! Walmart is very diverse in what they now sell….), I would have people wanting me to do a life of hard labor after being tarred and feathered.  Why? Because one was worth something, but the other was of the utmost value.

Here in our text, God demands that anyone who sheds the blood of a human (whether that is an animal or a man) should have their own blood shed.  Now, let’s put on hold how this looks in the justice system (another discussion for another day) and let’s focus on why this is.

Why demand such a high price? The answer is simple.  Human Life is sacred.   Your life is sacred! You are made in the image of God, and that means that within all of creation you stand out as the unique image bearer of the Creator! Remember that today.  You are (although broken and marred) an image bearer of the Creator of Creation.

Genesis 9:4-6

But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.

“Whoever sheds human blood,
    by humans shall their blood be shed;
for in the image of God
    has God made mankind.

Your Life is Sacred