What are You Waiting for?

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The end and culmination of all things is near. Therefore, be sound-minded and self-controlled for the purpose of prayer [staying balanced and focused on the things of God so that your communication will be clear, reasonable, specific and pleasing to Him.] 1 Peter 4:7

As I sat this morning in the quiet, my thoughts traveled back through the years to a maroon pew and a summer night. It wasn’t any particular church night,  just a culmination of all of them I guess. I heard the melody of a hymn that I can’t quite place but I wish I knew what the title was. I may have to do a search later, it might be “Calling Today.”  I see the organist at the front, her name was Amy and I see her flowing robes spilling over the bench. I smile when I remember what my Grandma used to say after Amy got her divorce…….”She should be in the back of the church, not up there playing the organ.”

I remember those warm summer nights. The world seemed different then. Across the tracks on the east side, the gangs hadn’t moved in yet. There wasn’t much difference from the east side than the west. The local bakeries were still open. I hear the bell over the door. You could still buy German pastries and fresh sourdough bread that they would bring out in the mornings. The smell was overpowering. I can still see those loaves stacked in the baskets by the cash register, and the trays of long johns and crullers. That was before all the big grocery stores came in.

I long for the simplicity of those times. It seems everyone is waiting for something to get better. Or change. I can see it in the faces of the people. I see it in the faces of some of the refugees on the news. They are waiting to go home, waiting for peace. The world has gone askew. Everywhere, someone is waiting for something, for someone.

If I could just get out of this hospital bed……

If they would just die so I could get my life back…..

If they would just come back to me……

Waiting for birth, waiting for death. Waiting for financial freedom, waiting for the ship to come in. Deep down we sense that things have gone terribly wrong. The whole world is waiting, holding its breath. But here’s what I can tell you for sure. Whatever you are waiting for can be fulfilled in just One person. All of your deepest longings can be fulfilled in that same One person. He came once before and He’s coming again. This is the most important part:

Whatever or whoever you are waiting for doesn’t matter if you don’t know Him.

All the pieces are falling into place just the way He has arranged it. The stage is set in motion. It has been since the beginning of time. But the days are growing darker, even though there is still so much good in the world. Hope remains. Against the backdrop of world events and everything else we see in the news, Scripture speaks with a new authority. Unfortunately, just as many people aren’t listening. Listen to what Scripture says about our times:

Don’t be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people. 2 Timothy 3 (The Message)

It’s time to turn toward the Light folks.

For He says,

At the acceptable time I listened to you,
And on the day of salvation I helped you.”

Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation”— 2 Corinthians 6:2

Whatever you are longing for, He’s the God who can bring it. Eventually, He is coming to restore all things to what they were in the beginning, back before everything went to hell in a hand-basket. This is not a pipe dream, this is a promise. But until then, let God pitch a tent of peace in your heart and know that whatever you are waiting for will indeed come at the right time.

I have a deposit that’s already been put in my account, safer than any bank or savings and loan. And you can have it too.

In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation– having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:13,14

The wait is over.

Deliverance from Bondage

Life is a prayer

 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. Romans 8:22-25

I was thinking as I read James 4 today that it must be tough for the Holy Spirit to hang with me sometimes. He is in a kind of prison as long as He resides with all of us humans, still so full of the flesh most of the time. Yet, He is gracious enough to hold to Jesus promise that we would have a comforter at all times, so that we need never be alone. Yet even creation knows that better times are coming. You can almost hear the trees say, just wait…….you think I am something now?

They reach for better things just as we do and hold to the promise as they reach for the sky.

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Down here we toil and sweat to grow food.The ants have been attacking the Okra, eating the blooms even before they have a chance to blossom. The tomatoes didn’t like the soil this year……still we strive for the hope that we know will come if we persevere. Ants have been dealt with and now plants are producing the way they should have all along.

We have reward for labor.

And the Spirit strives with us, but it will not always be so. He will be set free and so will we, once and for all. Until then, we wait down here deep-rooted to the earth along with the trees.

Not Home yet.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Romans 8:18-21

Those who mourn…….

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Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted…….Jesus

Last night the wind howled wildly. I was thinking of the 19 firefighters who lost their lives yesterday and praying for their families as I debated whether to go outside and take down the flag, which I could hear whipping furiously. You could smell the dust from inside the house. It was the same kind of wind that trapped those firefighters and made it an impossible situation. They were known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots. One of the news articles said of them: “There were tough as nails, but being nice was key requirement.” So today, we mourn. We miss them, even though we didn’t even know them.

Yesterday I was volunteering and I missed the sermon, but I saw that many who came out were wiping tears. Pastor Kevin has been preaching on the Beatitudes for this series. He talked of how difficult it was when he lost his best friend to suicide. How he tried to help but it wasn’t enough in the end. We don’t have to look far to find grief and sadness and loss. But, thankfully, we also don’t have to look too far to find joy, and life, and laughter. In fact, each day carries a measure of both, but one overpowers the other.

Jesus came to an earth in mourning. The Bible says, even nature is in a state of mourning:

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Romans 8:22

Isaiah, many centuries before Jesus birth, describes him this way: “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” Isaiah 53:3

When tragedy and sadness strike, we search for answers. We search for causes as if explaining it away will make the grief easier to carry. We want to say something, anything to make them feel better. Sometimes though, things just happen, and there are no words. All we can do is hold our arms out to them. Cry with them. Mourn with them. And know that on the other side of mourning, is hope.

Always hope.

I won’t hold out any empty platitudes or easy answers today, but I will hold out Jesus. Lots of people have died, and lots of people have felt the weight of grief, but He is the only One who not only went through it, He had the power to conquer it for all time, for us.  I can attest to the fact that the only way we can successfully pass through that dark tunnel of grief, and death is with Him by our side. I know, I’ve been there.

So today, I pray for these heartbroken families. They are in a deep valley and right now they feel they will never get out. But someday, they will wake up and not feel quite so devastated. Because that’s what we do. We go on. That’s how we honor those who have gone before. And until then, we hold out our love, with tear-stained faces that will one day be alight with joy once again.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope thatthe creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8: 18-25

Photo credit:David Kadlubowski / The Arizona Republic via AP

When someone hurts you or someone you love

"A Better Resurrection"

He has been there before us, He really has.

When we or someone we care about are hurt by someone the first thing, the easy thing is to lash out. We want to dish out some of the pain they so carelessly toss in their direction. That’s the temptation. No one wants to feel slighted, ignored, misunderstood, or worse not even acknowledged.

The best thing we can possibly do in that situation is remember that He was there first. No one has been hurt as much as Jesus while He was walking this earth. That’s why He understands. And that’s why His Father understands, because every time Jesus hurt, the Father felt it too.

We need to know we can run to Him and He more than anyone will understand. More than that, He sees what happened. That thing they did to you……that stabbed at your heart? He saw it.

And He is ready and able to be your comfort.

I know this.

Pour out your heart to Him now and He will come in and fill all those hurting and empty places like rain replenishes the dry parched ground in the desert.

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. 2 Corinthians 1:3

And don’t ever let anyone convince you that you deserve that treatment and turn it around on yourself. Lift yourself up to your Father who loves you. He is your strong tower, your advocate, your hope, your strength. He will see you through. Nothing passes by Him unnoticed, especially if you are His child.

Trust Him. He will provide you with His peace and comfort.

In any and every situation.